Tuesday, 22 May 2012

unkraut bleibt unkraut or a fist full of flowers

There is a German tongue-twister that goes, Blaukraut bleibt Blaukraut und Brautkleid bleibt Brautkleid—that is, red cabbage stays red cabbage and a wedding dress stays a wedding dress.
I don’t find it so much of a challenge to enunciate but believe it has philosophical value, especially as a tongue-twister which is not. Unkräuter are weeds (not herbs) and belongs to a funny class of German words with Unwetter (storms, bad weather), Unding (an anti-thing, something impossible or unbelievable), Unart (not disciplined, a bad habit), Unverstandnis (a misunderstanding) and Unwort (a contrived nonce word). After getting some flowers for the balcony, quite by accident and not even in view of the home improvement/garden store where we found the geraniums, I spied this advertisement for a much decorated and controversial brand of weed-killer. Germany has roundly rejected the other toxic vertical monopolies of this agribusiness concern, at least publically, pressuring their genetically modified foodstuffs into exile and not subscribing to the patented plantation-style farming programme (a modular scheme where gardeners and farmers are obligated to buy all the precisely formulated extras—from seeds to fertilizer to insecticides), and I don’t know anyone here who would go to the time and expense of forgoing getting one’s hands dirty and doing a little gardening and maybe even tolerating the spare weed.  I was happy to see that this billboard’s location was not an affront, and was relegated to an alley by a casino and a discount store, like an advertisement for cigarettes.