Teutonic torment. In every German there is a touch of the wild-haired Beethoven striding through forests and weeping over a mountain sunset, grappling against impossible odds to express the inexpressible. This is the Great German Soul, prominent display of which is essential whenever Art, Feeling, and Truth are under discussion. Angst breeds angst.For a German, doubt and anxiety expand and ramify the more you ponder them. They are astonished that things haven't gone to pot already, and are pretty certain that they soon will. Longer must be better. Most Germans apply the rule that more equals better. If a passing quip makes you smile, then surely by making it longer the pleasure will be drawn out and increased. As a rule, if you are cornered by someone keen to give you a laugh, you must expect to miss lunch and most of that afternoon's appointments. Angst breeds angst. Because life is ernsthaft, the Germans go by the rules. Schiller wrote, "obedience is the first duty," and no German has ever doubted it. This fits with their sense of order and duty. Germans hate breaking rules, which can make life difficult because, as a rule, everything not expressly permitted is prohibited.
Stefan Zeidenitz is descended from an old German family of Anglophiles who sadly failed to catch the last Saxon long-boat to Britain by some fifteen hundred years. He has compensated for missing the boat by immersing himself in Far Eastern studies and promoting Japanese culture in England, English culture in Germany and German culture in Japan. In consequence, his sense of direction is sometimes slightly distorted. The effortless superiority which he encountered while teaching at St Paul's School and Eton College has not yet superseded his Teutonic temperament. But he is working on it. Benjamin Nicholaus Oliver Xaver Barkow is a German of the old school. Born in Berlin in 1956, he spent his formative years lobbying to have a wall built through the city because he strongly disapproved of the way the Socialists pegged out their laundry. With this achieved, he moved to Hamburg, but finding it such a well-ordered place, moved swiftly to London. What he found there has so appalled and fascinated him, he is unlikely ever to leave. After a tempestuous and Angst-ridden adolescence, he studied humanities (in the vain hope that some of it would rub off). For most of his adult life he has freelanced as a researcher and writer, and has recently completed a history of the London Wiener Library. Despite being a chronic sufferer of Kreislaufstorung, which no herbal remedy has yet cured, he soldiers on in the hope that one day he will understand why people don't understand him; at which point he will take his Seele out of pawn, move to the mountains and begin work on his cherished project, Wagner, the Musical.