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Living Inside the Box

Published: April 21, 2008, Author: MHirch

It is a rich ghetto. Block-type, closed- shaped buildings form a concrete jungle of cold steel and glass constructions: Living in a Bock’s in newly developed little SoHo, Deutschherrnviertel, in Mainhatten, Bankfurt, alias Frankfurt on Main, Germany. The incarnation of a trendy locale, modern lifestyle- the urban principle of the global city.
Functions are mixed: living and working in the upper areas, below are studios and offices, restaurants and shops, swimming pools, a health club. The quarter, Deutschherrnviertel, is named after the Teutonic Knights (in German Deutschherrn), an old germanic crusading military order during the Middle Ages and much of the modern era. In former times the imagery of the Teutonic Knights was used to promote German nationalism, the symbol of the German Empire’s policy used by the Nazis to spread their propaganda and ideology.

The image of the Deutschherrnviertel residents is not one of the traditional local families but one of the dynamic, cosmopolitan, young and happy ladies and gentlemen.
The comfortable neighborhood draws the most affluent residents. The Capital Aristocracy, a class of gentry whose wealth is the dictate by which they rule, seperate from other people and the land. It is an atmosphere of self- ghettoization or “monetary apartheid.”
Most residents base their actions on external pressures – the pressure to appear to be a certain kind of person, the pressure to adopt a particular mode of living, the pressure to ignore one’s own moral and aesthetic objections in order to have a more comfortable existence.
This insularization of the wealthy on the side of the Main river tells tales of similar recent developments within European societies and of the global mentality that affects peoples the world over.

Walking down the streets of the quarter instills one with a feeling of sterile monotony, alienation, loneliness, even threat. The sidewalks in this area- empty. Where are the kids the elderly, the people. Where are laughter, love, life?
Here and there are plants. They look like parts of a scenery, not allowed to grow and develop naturally, but arranged in line or planted in big plant pots.
Where in this is the room for existential experiences of a deeper reality, the feeling for the mysteriousness of life? The marvel and wonder at fantastic constructions, their inspiring forms and shapes that stirs our curiosity, makes us want to explore and fills us with respect for all of creation? Where is this essential quality of life there?
What types of mentality must places like this shape? What is a child’s experience of reality growing up in such modern lifestyle surroundings?

The children sure grow to understand that public housing is sold to international investors. And that a landlord is not a living being you can see, hear, and talk to. The landlord is some sort of property group based somewhere in this world where taxes are low, created to develop, invest and manage funds in real estate. The administration of the buildings is completely disconnected and anonymous, without anyone feeling responsible. The residents simply appear as a number in a computer system.

Certainly digital numbers on screens of their bank accounts, the newest technology, fancy cars, fashionable (and expensive) clothing, personal comfort and concentrating wealth are the dominant preoccupations on these residents’ minds. Only occasionally a neighbor might quietly disappear due to insolvency. But there is no time in the busy day to give this a second thought. Nor is there room to think about justice and life, humanity, the loss of cultural and biological diversity. Whatever that is, it must affect someone else, happen somewhere else, at another time, in another world maybe?

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