A short glimpse into the whirlwind of my life

It’s been a while since my last update, which made me feel like writing another stream of consciousness.

I’ve been participating in an acting course at Düsseldorf’s English Theatre group. I’m very much enjoying having the time and space to fully immerse myself in different roles, emotions and situations. So far, I’ve found improv acting especially fascinating, but also challenging: There is no script, no defined setting and no fixed characters, so everything is made up by intently listening and reacting to others. You have to be open and receptive to others while also being at ease with expressing a full range of emotions in front of strangers. It takes practice to feel comfortable with this, but I find that there is an enjoyable thrill in not knowing what happens next. I always feel quite exhilarated afterward and already signed up for the “Adults Acting for Stage” course, which starts on April 19th.

Besides all of the general busyness going on, I’m using my downtime to read Andrew Robert’s monumental biography of Napoleon. (Listing all of these diverse, mostly unrelated issues that have been swirling around in my orbit is somewhat funny).

Next to philosophy, history has always been a keen interest of mine. I suppose I had an itching need to understand the military and political genius behind Napoleon’s campaigns and his subsequent rise to power, alongside his strengths and obvious flaws. More than just Austerlitz and Waterloo, I want to understand his rise to prominence after the French Revolutionary Wars in Italy and how he became a soldier-statesman of the likes that history hadn’t recorded since ancient times. (Perhaps with the exception of George Washington.)

The book is doing a splendid job of satisfying my curiosity so far. For some inexplicable reason, I find myself reminiscing about the intimate, intense discussions on philosophy, history and various related topics that I had with friends during my time in Leuven. As Bertrand Russell expressed it so vividly, we were sinking through layer after layer of what was superficial, till we gradually reached the central fire.

Ambience videos – a beautiful form of escapism

I was an avid daydreamer when I was young, finding relief in mental escapism through literature and art. Growing up, I’ve developed a… firmer sense of reality, I’d say, though this characteristic of mine has never quite left me.

One of the perks of having an overly active imagination is how easy it is to conjure up lively, blissful, and fantastical sceneries in one’s own mind. I often thought about this while browsing through various ambience videos, wondering if this is a similarly fun little escapism for others with a pronounced imagination.

Ambience videos use sounds and scenery to elicit a specific atmosphere – it could be a study room at Hogwarts, a medieval town market, a mysterious shed in the forest, and so on. I think the sheer variety of these videos is a testament to the creators’ (and listeners’) creativity and well, overarching imagination. When I watch these videos, I can truly imagine being there at the scenery, feeling and contemplating everything, and that’s what makes it so gratifying and enjoyable. So in order to truly delight in these videos, I believe, one must have an overactive imagination, be prone to daydreaming, or however you want to describe it.

Here are some ambience videos that I found particularly enjoyable and immersive.

Big 5 and being high in the trait of Openness

Lately, I stumbled upon an interesting conversation between the author Robert Greene and the psychologist Jordan Peterson. In summary, they were talking about how everyone has a shadow persona in the Jungian sense, how it is impossible to get rid of it and how people should instead attempt to channel this aspect of their personality into productive pursuits, such as in the creation of artistic works.

They also discussed the taxonomy of the Big 5 personality traits. Initially developed by Ernest Tupes and Raymond Christal in 1961, the theory behind it reached popularity in the 1980s and onwards. Compared to systems like MBTI, the Big 5 personality model has been proven to be a relatively reliable predictor of someone’s personality in the psychological literature.

The five factors identified by this theory are referred to as:

Openness to experience





The combination of being introverted and high in openness was mentioned. I’ve always scored exceptionally high for the trait of Openness, while also being more of an introvert.

Openness is normally distributed in the population. I usually score in the 99th percentile for it. People who score high in this trait described are often described as intellectually curious and interested in ideas.

It’s more than that, though. Openness includes six different facets: active imagination (fantasy), aesthetic sensitivity, attentiveness to inner feelings, preference for variety (adventurousness), intellectual curiosity, and challenging authority (psychological liberalism). I would say it’s a trait that unites the axis of being simultaneously creative and analytical. The archetype of the artistic intellectual, or the intellectual artist.

Openness to Experience describes a dimension of cognitive style that distinguishes imaginative, creative people from down-to-earth, conventional people. Open people are intellectually curious, appreciative of art, and sensitive to beauty. They tend to be, compared to closed people, more aware of their feelings. They tend to think and act in individualistic and nonconforming ways.


I tend to score high on all of these dimensions, but especially in aesthetic/artistic sensitivity and intellectual curiosity. This has not surprised me – I have always been artistically inclined and interested in painting, poetry and literature, alongside philosophy and ideas in general.

Sometimes, I wonder if people can be too high on openness. I believe this trait is what makes me imaginative, someone who is easily engrossed in many ideas, fields and artistic genres. I have a lot of passions and I’m intensively moved by art and other creative endeavours. According to others, I’m adventurous and unconventional.

But I also feel like I have way too many interests to focus on, at times.

Perhaps this is a rather trivial conclusion, but I suppose scoring particularly extreme on such a trait, which is generally regarded as beneficial, is just a double-edged sword. I try to navigate my life in a way that makes the advantages of such a high score outweigh the corresponding disadvantages.

From a short trip to Lviv in November 2015

Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet, November 2015

Recent events have made me reminisce about this trip and all the interesting people I‘ve met there.

These are strange times. My facebook feed is filled with posts of friends who have either fled Ukraine, or who are still living there, providing live updates on all the terrible things happening in their country due to Russia’s invasion.

Hence, all of this has had quite a personal impact on me. It‘s not just a far-away news story about the largest military conflict in Europe since World War II, but something more tangible and relatable in my reality.

Слава Україні.

German society is odd, and I‘ve always felt more… American?

I‘ve spent so much time in the US that it feels more of a home to me than Germany ever has, very similar to how this article‘s author (linked below) describes it.
There are so many common attitudes in German society that I just cannot identify with. I believe it boils down to a comical and exaggerated understanding of Kantian morality in Germany, which is equated with the very concept of morality as such. This leads to all sorts of bizarre attitudes when it comes to foreign policy, or the vehement opposition against nuclear energy despite its obvious benefits and proven safety levels, for example.
I could write a long blog article about this. Perhaps another time.

In any case, I found this quite entertaining and worthwhile to read.


Current read.

I’ll never stop loving philosophy.

The concept of the Sublime has always managed to captivate my attention. I think it‘s because, to me, there is something fascinating and unusual about the notion of secular transcendence, which is an important component of the Sublime.
Usually, we tend to think of transcendence as something religious, spiritual, metaphysical – something that breaks and shatters the boundaries of the mundane, material world. And while there certainly is the Religious Sublime, the Sublime found in nature and the arts defies this concept.
Ostensibly, this category of the Sublime is solidly rooted in the physical realm, often without signifying any spiritual connotations. And yet, it awakens the same kind of quasi-spiritual, transcendental sentiments in us that are usually linked to religious experiences.

Given all of this, are acid trips Sublime experiences of this secular kind, according to Kant? Something in-between nature and man-made art? Perhaps this is something too bizarre to ponder upon.

Sometimes, before bed, I tend to experience streaks of idiosyncratic philosophical thoughts. Which is what is probably happening right now.

On the overly-revered system of Staatsexamen

The semester has started, so I’ve been busier these last few weeks. Law school schedules vary depending on someone’s university here in Germany, but at mine, there just seem to be too many lectures in every semester, ridiculously so. I am definitely not lazy, but ramming together various legal fields that require much more careful and time-consuming study is not… very effective. It would be equally ridiculous to force everyone to study even longer, of course. A sensible solution would be to stop requiring students to know absolutely everything within a format where this is only attainable on a superficial level, and instead, allow for more specializations. Pragmatically allowing us to cut at least some parts out of the schedule would help. The grand finale of the Staatsexamen, which is basically the only thing that matters in the end, forces us to know everything, though. So this would have to be changed as well.

I’ve mentioned the word “pragmatic”, and that is linked to the precise problem that prevents any such changes: People in the field of legal education at universities are anything but pragmatic. Any form of specialization would tarnish their revered system of Staatsexamen, which they want to keep perpetually unchanged from how it functioned in 19th century Prussia.

Despite this criticism, I chose this field deliberately and I’m still glad about it. I have just always been inherently skeptical towards archaically preordained systems.

Tomorrow’s my birthday and I wish The Secret History became a movie.

Wouldn’t that be one of the most magnificent birthday gifts? Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is a literary gem, a genuine Modern Classic. It is one of the most aesthetically pleasing books I have ever read, not only because of its countless references to the philosophical concept of the Sublime and the beauty that can be found in terror, but also because it affected me more than almost any other book I have read. Tartt is incredible, a literary genius if ever there was one.

Alas, The Secret History never became a movie for various rather complicated reasons. And perhaps also because the story has such clear links to Tartt’s own life at Bennington College.

As a movie or TV show, The Secret History might have looked like this short video I recently found. It’s a fan-made compilation of short clips from other movies and TV shows like Indignation, Kill Your Darlings, and From Dusk Till Dawn. I think it’s beautiful and well-made.

“Why does that obstinate little voice in our heads torment us so?” he said, looking round the table. “Could it be because it reminds us that we are alive, of our mortality, of our individual souls- which, after all, we are too afraid to surrender but yet make us feel more miserable than any other thing? But isn’t it also pain that often makes us most aware of self? It is a terrible thing to learn as a child that one is a being separate from the world, that no one and no thing hurts along with one’s burned tongues and skinned knees, that one’s aches and pains are all one’s own. Even more terrible, as we grow old, to learn that no person, no matter how beloved, can ever truly understand us. Our own selves make us most unhappy, and that’s why we’re so anxious to lose them, don’t you think?”

Donna Tartt, The Secret History, p.35