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Feuilleton Literatur 4. Juni 2018

Literarisches Sixpack mit Tom Hodgkinson

Wer sich mit der Suche nach dem „richtigen“ Leben beschäftigt, kommt vermutlich nicht an den Büchern von Tom Hodgkinson vorbei. Auch wenn der Versuch vom richtigen Leben zu schreiben, nur scheitern kann. Doch Toms Bücher inspirieren. Er schreibt  über den Ausstieg aus dem Hamsterrad, kritisiert unser bestehendes Wirtschaftssystem (zu Recht), lobpreist den Müßiggang, den Rückzug in die Natur und ein langsames Leben außerhalb der Großstadt.

„(…) unsere Gesellschaft leidet an Gier, Konkurrenz, einsamem Streben, Grauheit, Schulden, McDonald’s und GlaxoSmithKline. Wir leben im falschen System. Wir müssen uns befreien von Sorgen, Angstzuständen, Hypotheken, Geld, Schuldgefühlen, Schulden, Regierungen, Langeweile, Supermärkten, Rechnungen, Melancholie, Schmerz, Depressionen und Verschwendung.“ so Hodgkinson. Stimmt. Wir haben Tom nach seinen sechs Lieblingsbüchern gefragt. Zeit für eine neue Folge von unserem „Literarischem Sixpack“.

1. Plato’s Symposium, translation by Shelley

Socrates stands at the foundation of Western philosophy, and this little book shows how it all came about. It tells the story of a drunken dinner party attended by the wits of ancient Athens: as well as Socrates, Aristophanes the playwright is present, also the war hero Alcibiades. The guests are asked to speak on the subject of love, and Socrates defines love as a lack. He goes on to talk about how he invented the science of philosophy. This translation by Shelley is very readable and contains some of Shelley’s own ramblings about Greek society.

2. Shoukei Matsumoto: Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind 

A guide to doing the housework may seem like an unlikely choice for a self-proclaimed idler. However, this book is both calming in itself to read and is also useful. The author, a Japanese monk, introduces the idea of cleaning as a meditative practice. Too many of us think that success means earning enough money to employ a cleaner. This is because we tend to hate cleaning and we want to delegate it to someone else. I think in fact we should all do our own cleaning, and having read this book, I now enjoy mopping, dusting and tidying. You can think while you do it and let’s face it – it’s easy work.

3. Max Weber: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism 

A key text for anyone who is interested in the rise of the Protestant work ethic after the Reformation and its relationship to the rise of capitalism. Briefly put, before Calvin and Luther, European society was organised on a different set of values. They were values that emphasised community, fraternity and beauty rather than individual achievement and money-making.

4. Petr Kropotkin: Mutual Aid

This is the key anarchist text of the 19th century. Kropotkin was a Russian aristocrat and naturalist who moved to England in the late 19th century where he met Oscar Wilde and other important figures. This book is a counter to Darwin and shows that cooperation rather than competition is the key to human progress.

5. Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes stories

I always read Sherlock Holmes when I am ill in bed. Conan Doyle combines masterful storytelling with a very satisfying prose style.

6. Aldous Huxley: Brave New World

Huxley is a key figure for me because he did so many things. He started as a teacher, became a poet, then a witty novelist, then a spiritual thinker, and finally an advocate of mescaline. This is his easiest book and is very funny as well as prescient. In it he describes a world where everyone is happy because the society has managed to make its citizens love their own slavery. Sound familiar?

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