Aug 082017
 

A patch of frosty grass, lit by low afternoon sun in December. I was visiting my parents – this is in front of our house.

My father was diagnosed with colon cancer a year and a half ago. Surgery left him with some inches of colon less, and the immediate outlook was positive. He’d just need some mild precautionary chemotherapy.

Well, it turned out to be more severe. Last year in September, two tumors were found in his liver, and after two more attempts at chemotherapy (largely hampered by his weak heart), he was essentially given up in January. A few weeks ago we all decided that my mother could not carry on attending to his growing needs, and since then he has been in a residential care home for the elderly.

If you follow the link to this old blog post, you see the image of a man who definitely doesn’t look like 72, his age at that time. This was true until after his surgery, when he already was 80. People who didn’t know him that well always judged him much younger than he actually was. During the last year, this has radically changed. From his looks, he seems to have aged a decade in a year.

He himself didn’t feel old. Sure, he had problems with his knees and his back, but that’s just what you get from decades of heavy physical work. Now, with that cancer diagnosis, he suddely got a sense of urgency and a feeling of mortality that he’d never before had. He told me in a moving, almost childishly naive way, that he always had thought he’d live forever. Today he knows he won’t, and seeing that process has given me a feeling of mortality as well.

Anyway, at the time that image was taken, I thought he’d probably die much earlier. So far the old man still carries on and I hope he’ll do so much longer.

Psychologically his situation is not easy. He can’t do anything that he loved to do, and – going to live forever – he never tried to develop interest in things he would be able to do under present conditions. I never thought about it myself, but if there is something to take away from that story, it is probably this: It is not sufficient to just make sure you have no dire monetary needs. You have to foster interests that are not bound to physical well-being. Otherwise you may find yourself in a situation where all your options seem to be cut off.

Reading? You could go blind. Writing? With computer assistance you’d probably be able to write a novel by dictation and proof-hearing, but you’d still need people helping you. Which again brings us to people. I’m a loner myself, but even I recognize that with increasing age there may be an increasing need for social contacts, not the least for their ability to help fighting depression and give us a sense of being tied into something bigger, something transcendental (and I don’t mean this in any religious way), something that may need us to carry on, even in moments when we’d otherwise be inclined to give up.

Having children and an intact family may help, and if you happen to be religious, it may help as well. It would have to be the real thing though. You can certainly fool other people and some people manage quite well to fool themselves, but fooling yourself wouldn’t do in this case 🙂

Jul 132017
 

Austria is governed by a coalition of Social Democrats and Conservatives, with most influential ministries under control of the Conservatives, and the Head of Government, the Chancellor, being a Social Democrat. The Social Democrats have won the last elections, but effectively they had no other choice for a coalition, and that made them an ideal target for extortion.

When they signed their pact, one of the first things they did, was to increase the period of governance by a year, from four as it had been all through our recent democratic history, to five. Ostensibly they did it to be able to shoulder the “big problems”.

Well, this year the Conservatives broke the pact and in October we’ll have general elections, one year earlier than planned. The reason is, that the Conservatives have a new shooting star, some 30 year old Sebastian Kurz. He has been Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration during the past period.

Basically Kurz has one single topic so far, and that’s the refugee crisis. He also has one single success so far, namely that he negotiated with Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia, in an effort to close the route through their countries for refugees.

Apart from that, Kurz’ primary achievement is, that he brought the Conservatives completely under his control. During a recent congress, his party granted him unprecedented privileges of leadership, something so far impossible especially in this traditionally fractioned political organization. He is now the much adored pop star of the Conservatives, the messiah who has stepped down from the heavens to lead his struggling party into a bright future. Or at least that’s what we are told.

Kurz also seems to be attractive to a lot of women of about my age, basically women who could be his mother. That’s what I gathered from a chat that I had to overhear on the train recently, and that’s what I hear over and again since. Something with his eyes, they say.

If you look closer, you can see that, apart from young Caligula’s age, there is not much that distinguishes him from other politicians. Personally he has dropped out of university for an early political career, and all through his short adulthood he has been a professional politician, being integral part of and being carried along by the party, that he now claims to be changing so completely.

OK, I don’t like him, that’s obvious, but what exactly is his program? If he really were head of the next government, what would we have to expect?

And this is exactly the problem. In a perfidious move the Conservatives don’t tell us. Kurz travels across the country, lets his eyes be seen, but the only thing else he does is, to raise fears of a new wave of refugees. His idea for keeping them out is to close the Mediterranean. He’s a big fan of the “Australian Model” of concentrating refugees in island camps, or if that’s not possible (which it is not), of sending them back to Africa.

I don’t claim to see no problems. Definitely there are, but just to close our eyes and pay for more border troops will not solve any of those problems. And worse: exploiting those real problems for political purposes is extremely dishonest, but that’s exactly what the Conservatives do. They speak of preparations to close Austria’s southern border to Italy, much to the dismay of the Italians and at a time when there is no reason for it at all – apart from the upcoming elections.

Ostensibly Kurz’ tour across Austria is an effort to gather people’s opinions, in order to come up with a widely supported program in early September.

This could be. I doubt it though. I think what really happens is, that they send him around in order to establish him as an untainted Saviour. At the latest point possible, they will come up with a deliberately vague program, impossible to vet, especially in such a short time. It will be a program that uses shiny marketing language, in order to hide what they really intend to do, namely what every “conservative” party in the world does, and that is to lower taxes for the wealthy, to let “The Market” reign supreme, to increase surveillance and to keep exploiting this planet as if we had a few to spare.

It’s a shenanigan, nothing more. I could be wrong, but I doubt it seriously.

3450 – Frosty Situation II

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Mar 302016
 

It’s already early Spring around here, but image-wise we are just diving into Winter. Rest assured, it won’t last very long.

Actually I had already wondered whether my lust to take images was gone. Then last Saturday I made 20 images on one short walk through Villach. This is not 20 exposures taken, this is 20 images processed and ready to be used on the blog. Not all of them are first rate, but, well, neither is everything I’ve published so far. In any case, I seemingly need just a lazy hour from time to time 😀