Germany: Christian Drosten, a very discreet “mister corona”

“Which virologist do you trust the most?” asked the tabloid Bild to its readers, on April 3. The 60,000 participants in the survey did not hesitate: Christian Drosten is the undisputed champion, the favorite of the public. At 48, the director of the virology department of the Berlin University Hospital of Charity already has an impressive career behind him, just crowned with an award from the German Research Foundation. Drosten was recognized for his “exceptional achievements for science and society in the face of a dramatic evolution of the pandemic ”.

He is one of the most listened to scientists in Germany. By the government, but also the general public. He intervenes several times a week in a very popular radio program, covering all types of subjects : Does the virus spread through the air? Are children as contagious as they say? Begun on February 26, the show is at its 34e episode, and always

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Johanna Luyssen correspondent in Berlin

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Why Germany is doing so much better than France

In Germany, the coronavirus epidemic is now “under control”, said Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) on Friday. At the same press conference, the president of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, spoke of a “Very good intermediate result”. As a result, the country of 83 million people is slowly disappearing. From Monday, shops will be allowed to reopen. On May 4, it will be the turn of schools, and even hairdressers. On the other side of the Rhine, wearing a mask is not yet compulsory, but it is highly recommended, and this instruction is likely to be widely followed by the population, especially since masks are now on sale in pharmacy.

The figures for the German epidemic leave one wondering. According to the count Johns Hopkins University, the country had 143 724 infections on Sunday, barely 10,000 less than in France, but much fewer deaths: 4,538, and also many healings, 88,000 (against 36

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Johanna Luyssen correspondent in Berlin

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“Slow Men”, a lesson in breaks

In the theological tradition, laziness (long qualified as acedia) is a capital sin which is characterized by softness but also by slowness. For Guillaume Peyraud, Dominican of the XIIIe century, acedia leads to the waste of one of the most precious goods that God has granted to man: time. To be slow and idle is strongly condemnable because it is the opposite of good Christian behavior. “Man was not created to be idle but to work”, explains Martin Luther in his Commentary on the book of Genesis. Hence the concern of the elites against a different temporality, explains the historian Laurent Vidal, “Which cannot be framed either by the liturgical rhythm or by that of economic activities”. The idleness of the monks, denounced by Luther, or the endless chatter of women on their balconies, stigmatized by the Florentine architect Alberti, are all behaviors that become with the Renaissance a sin in the face of society.

Offset

At the dawn of modernity, therefore, an imaginary triangle forms, associating slowness, laziness and non-work. The “Indians”, barely discovered people, will be associated with the disparaging idea of ​​slowness. “What never ceases to surprise Europeans, observe the author, this is the singularity of the relationship that the inhabitants of the Americas have with work “, This observation is valid for the entire colonized world, in particular Africa, whose populations are regularly described as indolent. The figure ofslow man is blacklisted in favor of the imposition of the model that is both superior and universal of modern and civilized man, that is to say efficient and fast.

German historian Reinhart Koselleck gets it right when he makes acceleration a “Foolproof clue” of modern times (1). If the character of Don Quixote – the one who left “Slowly” – provokes laughter, it is that it is completely out of step with its era.

Increasingly, says Laurent Vidal, slowness in all its forms is perceived as an obstacle to the proper functioning of society, even a source of disorder, because it harms work. It is now a question, in these first days of the industrial revolution, of subjecting work to precise standards and of chasing any hint of autonomy. As Edward Thompson pointed out, the watch is by far the greatest invention of industrial companies. Widely distributed at the end of the 18th centurye century, it made it possible to impose on workers the rigid rhythms of factory work and, even more, to internalize them to the point of leading to a “Advanced timing of society”. We would like, with the author, to be true the famous anecdote reported by Walter Benjamin according to which Parisian workers threw stones at the clocks during the revolution of 1830 … The machines will then take over with great advantage, explains engineer Charles Babbage, “The surveillance that they exercise over human inattention, negligence and laziness”.

Taylorism

Slow women and men are not passive victims. Slow down or use multiple ways to “casting” are ancient, and still current, forms of resistance. They are observed from the XVIIIe century in the American slave plantations, pioneers in the organization of work and in the imposition of authoritarian and timed working hours, including for women in charge of domestic service. They are found in the custom of Holy Monday, an institution which spread throughout Europe in the XIXe century, which consists of extending Sunday rest to Monday. The invention of Taylorism in the United States at the end of the century, which breaks down every worker gesture to better measure it, is a direct response to what Taylor calls the “Natural laziness” and the “Systematic stroll” Workers. The movement of yellow vests, wonders Laurent Vidal, is it a refresh of the figure of slow women and men? Their privileged occupation of roundabouts and roundabouts to slow or even stop traffic in order to oppose a “Political thought for which all immobility is perceived as problematic” makes you believe it.

(1) Reinhart Koselleck, the future past. Contribution to the semantics of historical times (Editions de l’EHESS, 1977).


Jean-Yves Grenier

Laurent Vidal Slow Men. Resisting modernity XVe-XXe century Flammarion, 306 pp., € 20, ebook, € 15.99.

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Gabi Delgado, death of a provocative agent

“I am a fanatic of the verb. I like the German language. I have always considered it a poetic path in its own right. ” Thus spoke Gabriel Delgado-López alias Gabi Delgado, both driving force and theorist of the electronic duo Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft alias DAF: Robert Görl, his artistic half, announced his death on Facebook Monday evening, without specifying the causes or the place where Delgado died at 61.

DAF, it was for everyone the tube Der Mussolini (“Tanz den Mussolini / tanz den Adolph Hitler / beweg deinen hinter / klatscht in die Hände / tanz den Jesus Christus”, “dance the Mussolini / dance the Adolph Hitler / move the buttocks / clap your hands / dance the Jesus Christ”) dating back to 1981, which in return earned them “Sieg heil»Of the public as well as the coverage of New Musical Express, the Bible of English criticism: provocation, gay imagery (Görl was gay, Delgado bisexual) and, since it was necessary to go beyond, a new sound; both dancing and extremely aggressive. “We didn’t accept authority, that’s one of the few things that brought us closer to Robert, explained Delgado in 2018. The ” Sieg Hail ” was provocation [les Sex Pistols avaient joué en 1978 une chanson intitulée ”Belsen was a gas”, sur le camp de concentration de Bergen-Belsen, ndlr], fascism was part of German culture anyway and for me it was liberating. I emigrated from Spain at 8 years old to join Germany and Wuppertal: this is where I met my father for the first time, because he had fled Francoism and he could no longer go under sentence to be arrested and thrown in prison. “

The German language, therefore. “On that, we changed our listening habits. We gave the song a different meaning. It’s not rap, it’s not notes either, it’s injunctions, orders, performed not by a musician but by an actor. ” Before DAF, Delgado had trudged through artistic circles in Düsseldorf and more particularly at the Ratinger Hof, a pub open to underground culture where the plastic artist and performer Joseph Beuys, guardian figure of the German post-war art scene, sometimes spent with his students. Delgado formed several punk groups: Mittagspause, Charly’s Girls or Yuri Gagarin and the Soviet Union.

“American Diktat”

His great project then took shape: music “Without tradition, was it German” : “Without root at all. Anything that reminded us of music or something preexisting went out the window, even if it was good. Punk was just a re-emergence from rock’n’roll: I wanted to end this American diktat. ” After a purely noisy first attempt, Ein Produkt der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Freundschaft, where the all-military drought of rhythms begins to be heard, DAF decides to reduce itself to a duo and goes in 1980 to London.

Where the group meets their good fairy, the man who will initiate them into controlled dissonance and open all doors for them: Daniel Miller, the boss of the Mute label (The Normal, No, Depeche Mode, Fad Gadget), who puts them in the hands of producer Conny Plank, a liege man on the kraut rock scene for a good ten years. The latter therefore sees music as a flow: regardless of his initial skepticism for this purely percussive group who plays without a note, he is familiar with an approach that does without refrain, high or low and even subject. Instead, Delgado’s voice emerges from a crash somewhere between disco and industrial music – we can imagine that it is difficult to imagine – to make an emergency assault in a sort of sadomasochistic restraint; a gasp that says violence, breathlessness and the pleasure that the barking German language transcends.

“The history and culture of my time”

Delgado also gives a speech: “Fascism or anarchy have become fashions for nightclubs, moments of hatred or moments of love. But there’s nothing sacred anymore. Nothing bad. Nothing good. “ The hype will take like a bush fire, the tubes (including the incredible Der Raüber und der Prinze played on a children’s keyboard and designed “Like a homo-erotic moment”) will succeed four albums during (including three on the multinational Virgin) and will carry DAF until 1982: the group then separates and none of the reformations which followed (1986, 2003) will add anything to their glory. Delgado pursued a career as a producer while building on the reputation of DAF, through a catalog background which he owns the rights with Görl (“A lesson from Conny Plank, he taught us a lot about business”) and a few concerts that he was striving to strategically rarefy.

On his work: “It was important for me to draw the history and the culture of my time. Afterwards, no one can create the illusion of a line of code that no one can ever crack. Capitalism assimilates everything, music and the rest. But by the time it gets there, the formula wears out, expires as it is used. Precisely because it is a good formula.


Grégory Schneider

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