The first couple of days in Berlin have been amazing so far. I am sinking deep into the history of the DDR, and trying to better understand the transition after 1989. I met with my brilliant German editor at Suhrkamp on Thursday, had dinner with my dear friend Susan Neiman on Friday, and have hit the Berlin Trödel markets hard this weekend.
I have arrived in Neubeuern in the foothills of the Alps near the Austrian-German border. I have volunteered to teach a two-week seminar for the Studienstiftung on the cultures and societies of Eastern Europe. This is the castle where the class will be held starting Monday morning.
I'm in Trier where the whole city is trying to cash in on the 200th birthday of Karl Marx (born here in 1818). Near the Karl Marx Haus the town has changed the Ampelmänchen to be little Marxes and there are scattered images of him everywhere. The tourist shops are filled with Marx-themed souvenirs, and even the local retailers are using his face to lure would-be shoppers into their stores. I'm not so sure Marx would have appreciated this.
I landed in Germany just in time to catch the last day of the annual summer Kollnauer Fescht. I lived in this little village in the German Black Forest for a year between 2014 and 2015, and I haven't been back in over two and a half years. It's nice to see that nothing much has changed. I drank a glass of the local wine, Müller Thurgau, and enjoyed the general frivolity of the street festival. What is so wonderful about these German local events is the intergenerational aspect of the sociality, and the simple merriment of sitting outside and drinking cold beer.