The first images sent to us by the James Webb telescope almost took my breath away. Isn't it incredible what we get to see there - and still only in hints? What surrounds us, and what beauty unfolds before our eyes!
And we suddenly understand how big the universe is: just as big as our respective telescope. This also applies to our own universe, our little kingdom. Whoever can see a larger picture, whoever looks more closely than before, also recognises the connections in a larger dimension, sees the edges of other plates and the glow of stars beyond his horizon.
One understands relations better, they are put right.
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In the blogcast, I read this recent blog article to you. With emphasis, of course!
The Homo Mensura sentence, for example: "Man is the measure of all things". We have been telling ourselves this age-old story by the Greek philosopher Protagoras for almost 2,500 years and regularly misunderstand it thoroughly. I learned what the sentence can really mean many years ago in the "Akademisches Wirtshaus" from Professor Leopold Kohr, when he told of his "aha!" experience about it.
"Man is the measure of all things" never means that everything in the universe around us has to align itself with us, correspond to us, obey us and serve us. - At the latest, a look through the Webb telescope shows that this cannot be what is meant. Rather, it is about the human measure. Everything that exceeds the human measure is too big.
Professor Kohr, the international scientist from the Salzburg "Silent Night" town of Oberndorf, has devoted his entire work to this subject. In 1937 he was a reporter in the Spanish Civil War at the same time as George Orwell (sharing an office with Ernest Hemingway, by the way). The two philosophised a lot together about the future of states, mass societies and their surveillance. In 1947, George Orwell's "1984" caused a sensation.
Then, in 1957, 65 years ago, Kohr's central work "The Breakdown of Nations" was published. It's also available in German under the title " Das Ende der Großen" ("The End of the Great Ones") and, if you don't know it, should land on your summer reading list and then under your nose. With it, you can take a sharp look through the imaginary Webb telescope into the past and into a hopefully still possible future.
One year before the eloquent 1984, Leopold Kohr receives the Right Livelihood Award, known as the Alternative Nobel Prize "...for his early inspiration of the movement for a human scale". In his acceptance speech, Leopold Kohr warns urgently of the consequences of centralised societies, of their urge to monitor everything and everyone, and calls once again for the division of structures that have grown too large into manageable units, for human scale. That will soon be 40 years ago.
We should urgently rewrite the story "Man is the measure of all things", or at least give it a new title: "The human is the measure of all things". The human measure, the manageable, that keeps us healthy in body and soul, that ensures the survival of our species. Or do we already have to formulate this sentence in the subjunctive irrealis?
This new story is not at all about mediocrity, but about measure and middle ground. It is not about the glorification of allotment gardening and the dwarfing of our existence in sackcloth and ashes, even if Professor Kohr popularised his friend Ernest Schumacher's phrase "Small is beautiful" all around.
"Small is beautiful" does not mean small per se, but a counter-longing to the metastasising sprawl and proliferation of the ever-more, to the ever-larger of everything and everyone into the in-human.
Just now, when these new, breathtaking images of an unimaginable universe reach our spaceship Earth, where words like restriction, renunciation and lack run through everyday conversation, just here and now we should see what is getting out of hand in this galactic wonderfulness on our pinhead planet called Earth. How we are getting out of hand on this planet. Man and his intemperance in greed for things.
The critical size has already been exceeded in so many areas that we not only have no idea of the consequences, but certainly not of the cascading further consequences of our conviction that we are the measure of all things.
And I wonder if somewhere out there, someone with a much bigger telescope than the Webb trumpet is sitting and watching us stunned as we manoeuvre our species against the wall while we throw old familiar thoughts of smart people to the wind. Perhaps the gaze wanders through this telescope from Kohr's "The End of the Great" to Schumacher's "Small is Beautiful" to the manuscript of Roger Willemsen's "Future Speech", which says: "We were those who knew but did not understand, full of information but without realisation, brimming with knowledge but meagre in experience. So we went, unstopped by ourselves."
Perhaps this is the introduction to the final chapter of the Anthropocene, that epoch in Earth's history in which nothing has as much influence on the state of our planet as what humans do and did? And does not do.
Possibly, however, this is the transition into the next act of this story, the beginning of the Humanocene. That age in which man found his way back to the human scale and proved that, thanks to his genius, he can not only look into the universe with an absurdly fantastic telescope, but also with a suddenly awakened gaze into himself and see what's missing and where it's missing.
There begins a whole new story, the New Story, which our red-hot civilisation desperately needs. It is a new, a better story for all of us, about all of us, about the right measure that makes us strong, unlike the old story that crushes us through excess.
This story is about people, about companies, about states that have understood just in time that the meaning does not lie in more, not in defeating and dominating, but in inspiring. That profit, jobs and careers are not the goal for a fulfilled existence, but the result of a fulfilled and thus fulfilling task.
This story is about the heroes of tomorrow: the mentors of today. People who support others to achieve common goals. If you want to transform yourself, your team, your brand and your company and write your new story of a better future as an author, then it would be my pleasure to support you as a fire-starter, instigator and troublemaker - in short: as a mentor. You can find out everything you need to know here and here.
I think that's what my grandmother, old Story Dudette, was thinking of as she cast a hopeful glance into the future with her kaleidoscope, murmuring, "New Story. New Glory."
I wish you a splendid weekend on our beautiful place in the universe and greet you warmly!