Her name was Kirsten. We were both from the sparsely populated Northeast, started university in the fall of 1991, and lived in the same dorm apartment. I studied, among other things, English and American literature at Humboldt University, while she was studying German literature at Freie Universität.
I was not happy. The extreme chaos resulting from "anti-communist" purges that were actually more victor's justice than a clean start resulted in an organizational chaos that made it impossible for me to even set up a basic schedule. And by that time, after two years of transitional chaos, the takeover of the East German system by third-grade West Germans, I was pretty much used to living in chaos.
The dorm was ugly, to the degree it filled me with horror to open my eyes in the morning. An unrequited love that belonged in Renaissance Italy filled the rest of my day with heartache, and on top of it all I felt guilty for having abandonned my little brother by moving out. I spent most of my money on telephone cards, talking to him while standing in cold, seedy telephone boths reeking of pee. The telephone booth was in an until alleyway where some local pervert liked to expose his funny parts to young women. I refused to react in any way, my older roommate, a social therapist, used to laugh, and Kirsten Kirsten was really upset.
The dorm and the organizational chaos in my department made me so sick I was throwing up a lot, and self-medicated with caffeine. I really did not want to be where I was. I figured I would just die unless I got up and looked for a better place.
But compared to Kirsten, I was the picture of optimism. She went from cheery to gloomy, and not gloomy in a cute goth girl way, but in a cruel, cynical way. I was merely sad, but I remembered the dream of student life I had while at high school. I still wanted that, the seriousness of reading great books, seeking wisdom, dignity. Within less than a year, I had found an apartment. At the same time, Kirsten had gone from a tee-total to a full-blown alcoholic who needed a sixpack a day. The only addiction I had developed was drinking too much coffee.
Much later, I found out what had happened to her at the FU, the most American of all Berlin Universities. Critical theory is Marxist criticism of Western Civilization. This is what you learn at FU if you sign up for German literature. It is not an appreciation of the achievements of classic German literature, but relentless, merciless fault-finding, a victim culture that crushes all hope. Welcome to the Frankfurt School.
And I got to know it because this ideology was taking over English and American studies at Humboldt University, too. Under the cover of purging the old communists, nasty fights went on behind the scenes, causing some of my professors to take this pressure out on us students. The only professors who were safe were those who taught pure linguistics. Everybody else was replaced by hip American professors who offered exciting courses about serial killers and horror movies and pop music. Well, us kids liked that, very much the same way the children who followed the rat catcher of Hameln enjoyed the music.
It happened in sneaky ways, and all I noticed was how "off" I was in my other subjects. I was doing great with these fancy, modern courses, but I was screwing up in every other regard. An ideology I was made practice daily in American studies made me look utterly idiotic when I tried to apply it while speaking to history or political sciences professors. I think the worst I did was quote Chomsky to a Political Sciences professor. Chomsky is a god in both American studies and in lingustics, and the more I quoted his work there, the better. But in Political Sciences I made myself sound utterly ridiculous infront of hundreds of other students.
I did not understand what was wrong. Lacking experience, and lacking guidance, I tried harder.
And this is where I should have become suspicious. None of the books that refer to the principles of the Frankfurt school are written, or meant, to give you any kind of insight. The tradition that bred the Frankfurt school goes back at least to Karl Marx. The authors are all excessive overwriters whose styles range from catchy to unintelligible, and they all aim to waste young people's time, making you read more and more until you are so overinvested in the cause you cannot consider the notion that all of this was toxic to start with.
The people who promote the Frankfurt School are sick, perverted mindfuckers. They are isolating those who are most idealistic and intelligent from the herd and brainwash them when they are young. If you have an underdeveloped bullshit detector, are idealistic and gullible, you will probably make a great student of this school. What you will get is a sense of self-righteousness, and a matching sense of entitlement.
They are currently succeeding at destroying Western Civilization. I do not love to hate them. Unless I can learn something about how to defeat them, I do not want to waste more time of my life than I already did, much the same way I am not interested in learning anything about health: it is boring. I only learn what I need to stay alive.
I'd rather look at cute cats or birds or learn something. Read Shakespeare, or watch Sister Wendy to learn how to appreciate the Western European heritage. Is European heritage a dirty word yet?