Neujahrsvorsätze/ New Year’s Resolutions

From dem Winter unsers Missvergnügens – Tomás Cohen


to escape the lockdown of identity
Nina Powers on Fichte, The Alienist Manifesto


FOR ME THE DAWN OF THE YEAR has never been January, but April— or, in the country where I was born, September. Be it in the northern or southern hemisphere of the planet (or the left or right of the brain), for me the year always begins in that month which T. S. Eliot called the cruellest. In contrast, this midwinter, reinforced by the pandemic lockdown, does not encourage new beginnings, only further cocooning; nowadays it is even difficult to wake up— to what? A »sunlight« between grey scare quotes, constantly set behind a cloud curtain, if not a wall. And nowhere to escape it, nowhere to go out and rely on a common rebellion against the grim season: keine Kneipe with smoke and sweat and stink, awaiting in winter, building up summer potential over »ok, one more drink« while unexpected company interrupts your public loneliness, and you tell yourself »never mind tonight’s project, just enjoy it« for it might seed some growth from acquaintance to friendship… But that chance is currently barricaded. How would the voice of beginning sound in this season of enhanced gloom?

A voice of bed, slowly coming out,
still guttural, hoarse, zombie-like;
half asleep, numb, early in the morning
with rancid breath of mouth unwashed,
unfit for kisses, clumsily learning
to pronounce the word »tomorrow«
that contains all futures
while setting aside blankets and thick covers
with the noise of a flock departing—
setting aside with them, the crowd of one’s own
past selves that with phantom joys
have convinced for long
into an arrogance too well known.
Waking up, clearing them out
so I can recognise my inborn stains—
to face and admit them, at last
thirty-six years late.

That I would resolve.


walking loaded, heavy with
crumbling attention, shouting loudly
»I hereby lower my corpse!«

New year’s resolutions invite such a fantasy: to tear oneself away of all idle feathers, leaving their fluttering behind. I fall for it:

I want to undress
till reaching a nakedness
deeper than my skin.

Furthermore, I bid the daily recreated idea of my life to crumble, so I can break away, und damit die leere fröhliche Fahrt… as Kafka sets it in one of his Zürau Aphorisms— even if it does not fit or goes against my wishes. Indeed, against the future I imagine through a filter of idealisation. I yawp this resolve full of fear, with trembling voice invoking a blessing in disguise— if it manifests, it might first feel like a disaster. But I believe cultivating a constant doubt is fundamental for remaining open to transformation; perhaps what I feverishly project every day and night as my best capability is actually not the best I can give. Thus, wishing to house more consonance and wholeness in me and, secretly, also around me: may my stiffened conception of future disintegrate like a wall in a Wohnung during Sanierung, so as to open unexpected rooms for discovery, regardless of my agenda. Anyway, I have already realised that success tends to repress the sense of adventure. Regardless of January but appreciative of its symbolic importance, I will make this year new.


»why did I wake up«. I want to see again
the clouds of a foreign tropic—

although I know that right now we cannot travel wherever we would want to, and I have no idea when we will be able to do so again. But then, reminding myself that the most meaningful trip does not take a single step,

I want back, wild and raw,
what intrigues and unsettles,
postponed till numbness, but no more—
may it avalanche with those
too unusual tears after music
that feel like crystallised slime
of snail pathways
down the stairs of my face—
I want to wear them proudly.

I might be invoking now a pain more challenging than ever before, wishing to cultivate, ferment and give it away, translated into joy— I am able? In this liminal moment of setting aside a past year and opening to the next, the projected bloom of all I can do is questioned: perhaps my daydreamed Macht und Lebenswerk are not potential, but liabilities, and I should let go of them: all that I think I can and should do, what I think is the best that I can give— to let go of it now. That is the frightening resolve I could make, and I hereby make it, since I crave frightening places,

never forgetting the disaster
that pushed you to Umzug
and that you were able to thank it
though much later.

Again, against what I think, I wish that during this new year I may stay with the trouble, hoping — if I am fortunate enough — that my loads of doubt sparkle out beyond my expectations a mysterious reason, less reasonable and practical but providing starry guidance to the castaway I currently am. Nothing solid, more like plasma: just a shy constellation faintly glimpsed through a cloudy city night sky in German midwinter— a faraway message of light, for lightness.