M was born in 1980 in East-Berlin as the third son of a biochemist and a computer programmer.
At the age of 5 he had a rather strange dream, or maybe not so strange, since many years later he figured out that actually a lot of kids have similar experiences at an early age.
In that dream he was told by an alien being, supposedly his real mother, that he actually wasn’t human, but sent to earth to live a human life. He was given the task of doing research about the experience of human life. After his death, his alien mother said, he was supposed to share that information with his real people.
No matter what this dream meant, whether or not it was something real or just a result of a child’s imagination, a child that was already deeply disappointed with a world where it was woken up by an alarm clock every morning and sent to a Kindergarten to be looked after by strangers who were often rather unfriendly, this might have been the start of what became a primary interest: understanding the human world, taking it apart by the means of logic, figuring out why humans do what they do, why they organized themselves the way they do. At least inside the culture the child was born into.
By the age of six he was full of questions. Today he can remember two basic ones that his parents nor any other grown-ups had been able to answer in a logically satisfying way, and would not be able to for a very long time:
1. What exactly is the distinction between humans and animals? Why, when we speak the word animal, do we exclude ourselves?
2. (and that relates to the first question) If it is true what his parents answered to question 1, that the difference is humanity’s higher intelligence and the capability for conscious thought, how is it that we live in ugly box-like buildings and seal the ground with stone, asphalt and concrete, as if we are trying to shut out any other life from ours? How can this behavior ever be more intelligent than living with, in and through the rest of the community of life? How can we claim to have a higher intelligence or a more advanced culture than any animal, or, for that matter, native American or other tribal cultures?
Therefore, at the age of six this boy decided that basically all animal life is more intelligent than human, or at least civilized human life.
During the years that followed he somewhat forgot about these questions and about not having sufficient answers for them. he nevertheless always remained extremely interested in any information that would explain one or another aspect of the world he lived in. For this type of information he developed a photographic memory.
Just before he was sent to school he also developed a strong desire to write, learned the alphabet faster than anyone else in his class, was even asked by the teacher to explain letters he had already learned by using an old typewriter at home to the other children.
So he wrote stories, fairy tales, a few poems, until creative writing was strongly discouraged by his teachers, by the school system in general. There were actual incidents of his teacher reading out his essay to the whole class, claiming it had been the best of them all, but then putting one of the worst grades under it because he had not followed the structure the system had decided was best for a work like that.. .
Still his interest in the workings of the world remained. In class one and two he was even given the task of reading the daily newspapers, doing more research and then presenting the information in the form of self-made posters and reports to the other children. You could say he developed a very keen political mind very early. And not much later became aware of the fact that daily politics are an extremely foreseeable field and therefore much less challenging than history, science and philosophy based on them.
In 1989 and 1990, when the Berlin Wall fell, he wasn’t exactly against the change, but he was well aware of the way that would play out for the East-Germans in the following decades. There would be a lot more individual freedom, but also poverty, unemployment and a huge increase in clinically depressed people due to the immense increase of economical pressure on each and any individual. So far he has been wrong only about one thing: everything he saw coming happened much faster than he had anticipated.
Something else happened that he had not exactly foreseen but not dared to even think of. He had been born into what was and probably still is the biggest stronghold of atheism and reason in the western, maybe the whole, world. not only had his grandfather, who later became his first intellectual mentor, left the church and abandoned all Christian faith at the end of World War II, Prussia itself has a three hundred year-old tradition of religious freedom and atheism. The boy was raised, socialized and always surrounded by people who preferred logic and science over the believe in some not verifiable higher being that had supposedly created the world in seven days (:::). The idea that almost all the rest of the world believed in such things had not occurred to him until the end of the cold war. When he first realized that, being an atheist he was part of an extremely small minority, he cried. For the world.
Not so long after that he hit puberty. And with it he forgot about much of his earlier interests, because for a while there girls, parties, Rock music, drugs and the wish to fit in somewhere seemed to be a lot more interesting. But that will be part of another post.
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