There is a scene in Die Zweite Heimat where the main character Herman Simon has hitched a lift. His driver is a maniac driving down the autobahn at maximum speed in a fast Mercedes. He is a former pilot with a head wound, which causes him to occasionally blackout for a few seconds. He drives at high speed, while monotonously counting 1,2,3,4…, to make himself aware of, and perhaps stop, these potentially fatal occurrences.
During the drive they talk about his occupation. Conversation can replace arithmetic, and is the reason he picks up hitchhikers – they can take the wheel when he goes off. He is a salesman, selling equipment to technicians. He calls them stupid, with a harsh, cynical, arrogant laugh: you just wind them up and off they go, doing what you want them to do, playing with their little toys. (He also laughs, in fact becomes hysterical, when Herman tells him the subject he is studying…)
So true. Or at least in many cases it is the truth – too often the technical expert is obsessed by the details and has no idea of the big picture, or its meaning; which often they cannot see or even recognise. When this deficiency is pointed out to them it is usually dismissed as irrelevant or non-existent. The natural reaction to what we do not understand; which in turn provides an opportunity for those who would manipulate us; exploiting our ignorance to their own ends.
So, to continue the discussion of the last post, who is the more intelligent? Our clever salesman or the engineer he manipulates. The man who can work out complicated formulas or the man who works out him…
We live in a society founded on the machine; and which is being constructed in its image. The answer is easy, isn’t it?
Oh, sorry, I left you on the side of the road. And Herman is gone, and you never did find out what he was studying. Would you like to know?
It was music.