Have you ever felt devastation

Authors: Alexander von Schönburg today in a Friday talk about his new book ... "The art of casual decency"


Jed Friday an author talk here, today withAlexander von Schönburg: At this year's annual meeting of the LG book he had for the first time from his new non-fiction book"The art of casual decency" read out, since then his theses on the rediscovery of old virtues have been making the rounds. Maybe that's the reason for the Piper Publishing House was to bring the book's publication date forward to August 30th. For us, that was the reason for today's authors' talk. And we asked:

Hern von Schönburg: What is your book about?

AvS:I feared this question.

We always ask that first so that our readers in the book trade immediately know where and how they can classify a book for their customers.

It's about everything, the preservation of the West. Seriously: It's about our complete disorientation, the loss of all timeless values, yardsticks and standards. For 50 years we have been experiencing continuous destruction and devastation of all value systems that have ever existed. In the beginning it was certainly quite liberating, but now the time has come to pause a little and take inventory. We have questioned everything that was ever true. Now is the time to start questioning everything.

Who do you imagine as the target group and what argument would be "The art of casual decency" best to sell?

Read the book when our complete disorientation starts to creep up on you, when you have a longing for solid ground under your feet in the middle of an ocean of arbitrariness and anything goes.

How did you come up with the subject?

I mainly write to make things clear to myself. I think out loud. Then suddenly I ended up reading the American author Walker Percy in the Lancelot material and couldn't get enough of Arthurian legends and stories like Tristan and Isolde. I was amazed how modern and relevant the questions about virtue and virtuousness are in these archetypal stories and somehow I wanted to bring them into today.

Virtues sounds so old-fashioned ...

This is precisely why, paradoxically, they suddenly seem so fresh.

... and chivalry (shown on the cover) much more.

Then let yourself be surprised! I think we are in a similar situation to the heyday of the Industrial Revolution, when painters, poets and builders discovered pre-industrial ideals out of sheer mania for modernization and the idolatry of technology. Out of sheer enthusiasm for progress and out of sheer pressure to be contemporary, we threw pretty much everything that was once valid out of the window. And to such an extent that many now see it as a loss. Even people who have nothing to do with Christianity suddenly speak of the defense of the West.

How does the new title fit into the series of your previous books?

The art of stylish impoverishment"In the end it was nothing more than a big, a little bit out of joint essay on immaterial values,"World history to go"Was ultimately a defiant reaction against Yuval Hararis"A brief history of mankind". I was completely blown away by it at the time, even went to see him in Jerusalem - to interview him and argue with him about it. He said things like, “If a thousand people believe something made up, it's fake news. If billions of people have believed something for 1000 years, it's religion. ”Or:“ If the earth goes 'bang' tomorrow and no longer exists, nobody in the cosmos is interested ”. I loved arguing with him, but I found his nihilistic view of the world disturbing. If nothing counts, because everything doesn't matter from the point of view of millions upon millions of years and the vastness of the cosmos, if morality and commandments are all human constructions, how can one explain that it is wrong to kill innocent children or why it is beautiful and the sublime is to defend the weak? "World history to go“So it was a kind of Harari for Nixcht nihilists or for nihilists who have the courage to put up with a few fundamental questions. In "The art of being casual“I take these questions to the extreme.

While reading, I had to think of the book “The Tipping Point”, which is about the thesis that everyone in the world is connected to everyone in the world in a maximum of six stations - our fast connection would be Ruth Westheimer, who is me at several meetings more than impressed ... you wrote about her so enthusiastically ...

An incredibly fascinating woman. I have devoted almost the entire chapter on the virtue of "gratitude" to her. I have simply never seen anyone who, like her, is able to feel grateful despite everything that has gone through. When she thinks back to the painful separation from her mother and grandmother at Frankfurt Central Station, one of those child transports to Switzerland, it is probably the saddest moment of her life, but she still says today: “It was my second birth. My parents gave me my life for the second time. ”In the orphanage near Bern, she was treated fairly roughly, she doesn't keep it quiet, only to briefly point out their gratitude to the Swiss who saved her life . A real life artist.

And do you have a message for the book trade, which is currently struggling with falling numbers of buyers, or a little consolation?

There is a countertrend for every trend. The addiction to electronic media that can be consumed quickly, the pressure that everything has to be “low-threshold” as far as possible, also means that small, fine booksellers with a lovingly curated range are suddenly cult again. The own profile, the uniqueness, the individual also has a boom in times of mass growth. A very nice thought from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which I quote in my book, fits in with this. “Adel”, he writes, has nothing to do with birth, but arises through courage and through clear knowledge of what one owes to oneself and to others. And then comes the nice sentence: "It's about finding buried quality experiences, quality is the strongest enemy of any kind of massing." And then: "Culturally, the quality experience means the return from newspaper and radio to books, from haste to leisure Silence, from distraction to concentration, from sensation to reflection, from snobbery to modesty, from excess to measure. ”Nice, isn't it?

Christian von Zittwitz asked the questions