Roland Dürre
Wednesday February 25th, 2009

RMD – My Travel Journal #25 – Ash Wednesday

Our Fifth Day: A Morning in Sorrento

Yesterday night’s dinner was top quality. The Ristorante la favorita in Sorrento, CSO Italia 23, is truly a temple of high Italian culinary culture. In the high-ceilinged rooms, we enjoyed a royal feast, a collective orgasm. This is how carnival is fun.

Today is Ash Wednesday. When we were children, we always had to go to church on Ash Wednesday mornings and a cross of ash was drawn on our forehead. The message I read in this was: now the fun is over. That is why we were always a little sad when carnival season was over.
Even as a child, the symbolism of the ash had nothing suppressing for me, because I knew from early on that my life had started with birth, so consequently dying would have to be the end some day. It is the same as with computer programs: you get a syntax error if you „begin“ without „end“, and open brackets of any kind „(, [, { or <“ must be closed again.

Regardless of this, Ash Wednesday still makes me thoughtful. On our wonderful journey, I see many rotten things. We passed large, no-longer-busy industrial areas and agricultural facilities that were in desolate condition. Though beautifully situated, some hotels, restaurants, holiday facilities and apartments, but also common houses, looked like ruins. Along the way, we also saw demolished garages, service stations, wharves and many corroded ships. I am sure that all these objects celebrated their maiden initiation with great festivities and did their duties for many years. But, just as do we biological creatures, enterprises and firms in the world of industry also come and go.

Some of the corroded objects still had “for sale” signs. Occasionally the biker is tempted to buy a particularly nice hotel ruin in order to revive it. However, the first cost calculation shows clearly that this kind of thing will not pay. In the Italian industry, too, the economy only seems to work well when a family has been working it for many years. A family who nurtured the property over generations and lives off it more or less well.
Even during this beautiful vacation, looking at all those ruins, I remember the current economical and financial world-wide crisis. I never saw ruins of banks or insurance buildings on this trip. They always managed somehow. Personally, I hold industry, agriculture and commerce to be more important for the fulfilment of my primary needs. So far, I never found a good meal or a bed in an insurance building or bank. But as we all know, banks and insurances enjoy a very special esteem.

Over the last two decades, banks and insurance companies helped each other to reach the top through incestuous behaviour. They made huge profits without creating a productive surplus value. It is only a logical consequence that now the time of reckoning has come. The accumulated profits are now visible as losses, because the central terms “debit and credit, active and passive” are as important in accounting as “begin” and “end” are in programming. And hot air remains hot air, even if “asset financed”.
The profits made by the banks were privatized and consumed. But now everybody calls for socializing the losses through more federal credit. However, this is not going to work. Ten to twenty years from now, the bikers will also pass ruins of bank and insurance buildings, and, unfortunately, also ruins of federal institution buildings …

So much about my thoughts on Ash Wednesday. Barbara and me, however, will think nicer thoughts today, because the sun shines over Italy on Ash Wednesday, too. We start pedalling towards Amalfi on the very famous road from Sorrento to Amalfi …

(translated by EG)

1 Kommentar zu “RMD – My Travel Journal #25 – Ash Wednesday”

  1. Chris Wood (Friday February 27th, 2009)

    Dear Roland, I like your thoughts about death and destruction, in connection with ashes. But I am informed that the ashes in “Aschermittwoch” symbolise cleansing, rather than cremation. Ashes and fat were the main ingredients for manufacturing soap. I find it better to hope that the world’s politics and finances will be cleaned up, than to enjoy their destruction. For a CEO, you seem to have a strange hang towards anarchy. Regards, Chris

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