There’s an image trending in the Far Right in Germany. The slogan that goes with it is:
A Stranger in One’s Own Land.
Here’s the image that goes with it’:
A Stranger in One’s Own Land Source
Anti-immigration sloganeering and the dodgy proposition of creating a White race out of a kaleidoscope of diversity.
Don’t be fooled. This racist imagery, this Neo-Nazi activism attempting that old German trick, of making a homogenous people out of a healthy hodgepodge, is more than what it at first appears. Sure, if you jostle it, it’s going to blow up, yes.
Jostling the Canadian Novelist in Exile, Richard Rathwell
Canadians are always helpful in a pinch, right?
The only snag is that it’s not a Neo-Nazi image. It’s more enduring than that. It changes. It takes on whatever form the times allow. Harry Heine, the great German-Jewish poet, exiled to Paris a couple centuries ago for his politics, used the term to describe his situation when he received political immunity to return to the Prussian-occupied Rhineland, to the annoyance of the authorities.
Not a Nazi.
There’s more. The dissident East German folksinger Wolf Biermann sang of being a stranger in his own land for his STASI jailors while he was under house arrest in East Berlin. He sang it again when he was stripped of citizenship and singing in a basketball arena in Cologne, in the West all in the same day.
Not a Nazi!
One of Wolf’s album covers from back in the day.
a bit over a decade ago
the Neo-Nazis started to steal this image of living in a country ruled by Russian occupiers and homebred German stalinists.
Gorbachev and East Germany’s President Being Close
And, gasp, is that Our Man in Tirana looking on transculturally?
History has a way of closing in on us like a runaway train. Here is a neo-Nazi version of the slogan from 2010, deep in Thuringia.
James Bond as ET, an Alien from the West
Throwing Garbage into the White trash box yet.
As Richard Rathwell explains in By the Graveside of the Mind (of which this discussion forms a part),
I have had three names this week.
I am “Doubly Loved” in Tirana,
because I am in a relationship.
It is an insinuation.
When I deny it, the affection grows
in this village of spies.
Images have their own lives. Unlike James Bond, they neither hide nor reveal.
Or as Richard puts it:
On Google, an essay long forgotten suddenly arises through the regular slanders and the rare remainders of a forgotten conference on a forgotten island on a forgotten topic, where I dallied as an expert.
I was told by email received in Cambridge.
I insinuated myself into a feverous band of bloggers and internet groupies, younger than me, and wrote like mad as one of them. I put together two project descriptions to do what I really cared about, to assist those in difficult circumstances to organize. One was for trade unions in Canada. Did not work even though it was supported by a King in exile. The other required me to jump through a bunch of hoops to read in bars and so on to be selected by the Canadian League of Poets to be the International Person (I was actually living internationally, was technically wanted in Canada, and only flew in for the meetings.). Margaret Atwood’s Office (although she may forget) liked the project. I did not mention that it was actually to create an underground in a few designated countries. This didn’t work. The League expelled me, or someone did, on executive order, mysteriously and precipitously.
And that’s the unofficial version of Canadian Literary history. To play it again as a transcultural image, voilà:
Everyone is drowning.
Deep underground in Africa, a place from which Canada is extracting many of its people today. Richard sent out a message. Richard was not extracted. He was simply where no neurotypical Canadian could be coaxed to go, trying to write his presence there. Finally he wrote his presence in words instead, in the hope that something would get out after he passed through the transculture as thoroughly as his African clients and lost his self:
“Operation Lightning Thunder has strengthened the armies of the Rain Queen around the village of Gula. The scales have tipped towards universal dying. “
Or, in neurotypical terms, the botched Ugandan attempt to reign in the murderous children’s armies of the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2008, which resulted only in their dispersal into small murderous bands, murdering at whim and abducting yet more child soldiers to sustain themselves resulted in strengthening the push to reverse a patriarchal takeover among the Balabedu people in South Africa by officially installing their rain queen over her usurping brother. The rain queens traditionally have had the ability to control the clouds above the ancient cycad forests of their homeland and negotiated with their enemies by granting rain instead of war. When Richard wrote his grieving report, the last rain queen, Modjadji, had died of Meningitis in 2005.
Modjadi and the Cycads, tipped towards universal dying,
The current Modjadji is Her Majesty, Queen Masalanabo II Modjadji VII, who turned the legal age of 18 in April.
She will be crowned in August 2023 by the Modjadji Royal Council.
Trapped in a medical facility in late 2022, Richard wrote of his jailors:
I explain. Identity meant little to me at the time. It has meant little to me at any time.
Richard Posing in the Window of a Former Jewish Department Store in the New “Multi-culti” Germany
Poetry ruled his mind. And Africa:
I can remember an exact bush by the sea just fine, but I can’t remember the ten thousand operations I underwent for blindness in the shadows of temples of screaming monkeys, even though the scheduling was mine.Richard Rathwell, 2022
So Much for National Health
A couple of the foolish virgins at the woman’s entrance to the Cathedral of Erfurt.
It is an invaluable question: is it possible to come back from Africa? And the question that goes along with it: is it possible for neurotypical technicians to recognize neurodiverse poetry in practice? And the third of the triad: Or will they see it as madness? Will they see this as madness?
“I remember this, too, exactly: there was a sky over Vancouver. I don’t, however, remember your character. I don’t see persons. Ever. Not under concrete things: totems and pillars. I remember mountains. Same for oil fights. Shadows moving in trees by the river are only characteristics of meta-atmospherics in social weather.”Richard Rathwell, 2022
For an answer, Richard tries to capture the whole picture:
“I remember here. Which is also you. Perhaps in Vancouver.” R.R. 2022
And that includes seeing Canada as a symptom of contemporary British National Conservatism, the movement that, straight out of the Neo-Nazi playbook in Germany, sees countries as bastions of ethnic purity, closed to all people who think differently, including those attempting to come from Africa today by boat. As the doctors descended on the “hospital room” in which his neurodiverse mind was sent for treatment and recovery from Africa and Canada and Egypt and Albania and Vienna and Ceret and a whole lot else besides, Richard had the presence of mind to note:
“This is the day that gathers small brain connections, ones close together, in focussed areas, connecting whatever has been gathered there. They are leaping.”Richard Rathwell, 2022
It remains unclear whether they followed his leaps.
The Leaping Dogs of Chernobyl…
… and their radioactive visitors.
This much, Richard can hold together, perhaps more in imagery than in neurotypical “sense” or “sensibility,” but there was more:
“But I can’t remember my underwear. My friends seem to be dead, or not there at all. Their faces are unknown in the smoke of burning owls and monkeys dropping from sudden bright strikes. They are fogging my glasses.”Richard Rathwell, 2022
To which, the Internet, the algorithm mining contemporary intelligence can only add, with no understanding:
Don’t doubt for a second that the intelligence of the Internet, as demonstrated is above, is a form of National Conservatism pretending to be transculturalism, which in its hope of freezing its transformations into a decorative narrative it calls multiculturalism.
Richard Visiting the Lutheran Church at the Pirna-Sonnenstein Euthanasia Memorial
Behind the church, mentally ill and divergent patients were gassed in 1941. After that, the doctors and nurses, with their new expertise, were sent to Auschwitz. The next day they turned that agricultural research facility and model farm into a killing factory for Jews, homosexuals, Roma, Jehovah’s witnesses and more.
It is now a Neo-Nazi shrine. The exotic hardwoods of the botanical garden are dragged at night into a bonfire behind the city hall. Compared to this “reality”, Richard’s observations are sane:
“Sorry, these true perceptions, made with my five senses, are momentarily interrupted here by the Pope, who is, wisely, giving homage. He is an inverse vision to wit.”Richard Rathwell, 2022.
Here are Richard and I, his editor and the illustrator of his transcultural states, consoling each other at a brewery in Canmore, in the Albertan Rockies, again in 2022, shortly before he was incarcerated.
The point, as Richard puts it so evasively, is…
No poem or story of one’s self is true. Whether it spews out from lust or a desire for self-preservation, as a weapon against corruption or a defence against punishment given for the boundless stupidity, the self is not anyone’s story, yet is true about you.Richard Rathwell, 2022
Does he really want us to believe that? When it looks like this?
Fortunately, Richard is messing with us. What he wants is for us to set the algorithm aside and face the diversity, not of others, but of ourselves:
“Age is getting to be a person, with new memories each day, declaring batches of attitudes, many really gruesome, many more inappropriate. Few are attributable, other than those constant repetitions from discarded narratives that excuse, in time, deeds done by someone else.”Richard Rathwell, 2022.
Or, in a truer language:
Richard Performing in a Neo Nazi Gathering Square Outside the University of Jena
And yet, this language, now co-opted and standardized by AI, is the prison we are given.
Such deeds don’t associate freshly. In cartoon clarity.Richard Rathwell, 2022
No kidding. In cartoon clarity, then:
May the Rain Queen help us.
Next, Richard talks freely about Neurodivergent thinking. Until then, remember our new book:
Ask for a copy. They are on their way.