taz two on retreat in Brandenburg: The dialectic of chaos

taz two on retreat in Brandenburg: The dialectic of chaos

Conflicts arise when putting the dishes away. The older ones crave order, while the younger ones fill any voids with chaos.

Dishes are washed by hand

Please rinse again Photo: Shotshop/imago

I was recently on a two-day retreat with my department Brandenburg. In a beautiful house on the outskirts of the village, we wanted to develop new ideas and deepen old ones; and as far as I can tell, it worked perfectly. Such an event is also about eating, drinking, Smoking, cooking and cleaning – it’s all about togetherness; and it’s good if there is an antagonist against whom the group can position itself in order to reassure itself of their growing togetherness, which is by no means self-evident in a professional context.

Our opponent was that landlord of the cottage, who not only gave us a broken dishwasher – but hand washing and drying together can be so team-building! – but also stuck photos in the kitchen cupboards to ensure that they were filled correctly after the dishes and cooking utensils had been cleaned. My colleagues couldn’t complain enough about the house owner’s obsessive-compulsive orgy of pictures.

And me? Well I smiled. Not that such crazy pictures would stick in my apartment! But of course I was annoyed when we came back after a vacation home exchange and the mixer couldn’t be found because it was put in the wrong place!! Even my children are not always correct when giving things away!!!

Fill voids with chaos

I’m by far the oldest in the college, and I just couldn’t completely escape the inner needs of our landlord. What happens to both of us is what Horkheimer/Adorno (H/A) describe in a section of their “Dialectic of Enlightenment” as “signs of decomposition” of the more mature person: “Under the given conditions, the fulfillment of mere existence leads to the preservation of individuals Skills, technical or intellectual, lead to cretinism in manhood,” they write, and: “It is as if men were being smitten with premature decay as a punishment for having betrayed the hopes of their youth and settling into the world .”

Whenever I meet young people – and I do that every day in the family and work environment – I feel this “adult inferiority” (H/A), in other words, in this specific case: my inferiority. The only joke that I can discover in it is that it is above all the fathering, cooking, entertaining my children, the household and the cleaning up afterwards that decompostes me as a person, see above. When I’m allowed to be intellectually active, I usually relax.

My understanding of our landlord – apart from the fact that as Cleverle he simply wants a guest house that is perfectly tidy for the guests themselves – has to do with the fact that young people fill every empty space they are given with chaos: which is exactly theirs task as young people.

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