www.martinnaef.ch / 3: Briefe > To Barb and C.G., Basel, August 11th 1990
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To Barb and C.G., Basel, August 11th 1990

Dear Barb and dear C.G.! And what am I doing if I don't sit on my balcony and talk to you about my development since early childhood? - O well: I am with people a lot ... I just looked at my alarm clock and I realized that I have to leave in ten minutes to meet Pina in town. We want to buy a backpack for her and I am her backpack Counselor.

I am meeting people: yesterday I met Matthias from Germany. We have seen us briefly last Sunday and we wanted to meet again to discuss our latest findings in our history project. He is interested in the life, the ideas and works of Paul Geheeb and I am ever since you have been here preparing to write a biography of this German pedagogue. Remember: we have been in his study and you've seen all the pictures of his friends (Gandhi, Einstein, Buber etc.) and C.G. has read some Chinese poetry to us, the gift of a Chinese friend of his.

Tomorrow or Monday I will see Cathrin, the wife of Franck, my San Diego friend. She has been working in Tschekoslovakia this summer and now she is travelling through Europe a bit before going back to San Diego. I know her quite well from the years she and Franck spent in Basel. Tuesday afternoon I will be working with my "private secretary" Margrit: she has been doing research in our local library for me since the beginning of this year. I hope that she will bring me some more interesting and helpful books and old journals, books and journals on education, on women's movement and other social issues for example, which enable me to dig deeper into the times of Paul Geheeb. - Since July I have been in Basel, trying to get through the piles of cassettes, which Fiorenzo has been reading for me during these last mounths and which to listen to and work through I never have time. The cassettes contain some of the literature that Margrits collects for me. They also contain other material, not only "Geheebia", but also stuff that has to do with my interest in todays school reform. In September I will again travel back and forth between Basel and Hasliberg, so that there will be less time for concentrated work on one single topic over days. - So much for now. I have to go, so that Pina doesn't have to wait.

August 14th 1990: Another three days have past. More pieces of my "social life", of my "work as historian and biographer of Paul Geheeb", of my involvement in the "reform of Suisse education" have floated down the river of my life: more books and articles, some long telefoncalls of worried, depressed friends, some telephone calls of happy, enthusiastic people, more reflections on how to organize alternative schools in Switzerland and how I hook them up with similar schools abroad ... Every now and then I get a glimpse of good old Urs, who lives a pretty stressful life these days struggling at work to forfill the demands of his employer and struggling in his private life to forefell the "demands" of his friends, lovers and all the other people around him including his cohabitant Martin, who tells him, that he should learn to say no to all such things. Well. This life here is quite full...

Travels? Extras? Special events? - I went to Berlin in June. That was very interesting. The distinction between East and West‑Germany has continued to diminish since then and the special feel of good old East-Germany seems to get lost rapidly.

When I was in Berlin I spent a lot of time talking to people from East-Berlin and the German Republic. At that time, unemployment over there was still very low and they still their own money. The union with West-Germany was yet a plan. Since then unemployment rate has risen rather dramaticly, the old East-Marks (the money of the German Republic) do not exist anymore, the country is full of potential and actual investors from West-Germany and other Western countries. - The trip to Berlin, the hours spent around the old Berlin Wall, the discussion about life in the German Republic and about the changes ahead were really interesting. A concert, I went to, people I drank beer with until early next morning, people I talked to in the train to and from Berlin, gay-places I got to know, cars, streets, stores, restaurants that was my Berlin-trip.

The end of this month I will be in Baveria (somewhere near Munic). I am going to see "my therapist" there; I haven't seen this man for about ten years but whenever I felt really lost I remembered him and I felt like I wanted to see him again. Well, this spring I finally got in touch with him again to see whether we could arrange some therapy for me. We decided that we would work for an entire day every three or four month, if we felt comfortable with each other and with this arrangement. Well. I am very curious to see, how I feel about him and about the rather long trip to Munic. I hope I will be able to make it become an adventure rather than just look at it as a nuesance I have to accept if want to see this guy. Therefor I am thinking about the trip to Munic now: do I want to hichhike, do I want to spend a few days there and discover the area, do I want to spend a night with the bums in Munic or in some forest near the little town I have to be at the end ...

In October we may go to Spain, but that's still a big maybe. We, that is Cathrin, the woman I lived with in Goldern for some time. You have met her when we visited the Ecole d'Humanité in Goldern. She has long grey hear. I think that you admired some musical instrument, that she had made, when we saw her. So Cathrin and I and maybe some other people had the idea to go down to Benposta, a place in Spain, which is run by kids, some sort of children's republic, a mixture between an educational institution and a self-help thing of kids who have no family or other people who take care of them ... I can't really tell you, what this place is, because number one the English language seems to hate me today, number two I doen't know it myself, that's why we want to go and look. But, as I said, that's only a maybe, for both of us, Cathrin and me, are very busy people who always find reasons to cancel something we wanted to do.

August 15th 1990: I think I better bring this letter to an end now. There are too many things coming up these next days and I am afraid, I might never get back to it otherwise. - Later today I am expecting to see a guy from Zurich, who wants to discuss some of his private life issues with me. Tomorrow I am expecting Fiorenzo to come around noon. In the afternoon we will be working throe some books that Margrit brought yesterday. One deals with the situation of political emigrants in Switzerland after 1933 and with the Swiss politics concerning such people. Besindes that I am going to look into some educational books of the late 19th century ... Later Fiorenzo, Meinrad and I will have a reHursel, because in the evening we will play (if the weather is nice) on one of the ferries, which go across the Rhein. Friday I will spent all day in the state archive of the canton of Neuchâtel. They have a large Dossier with about 100 documents concerning my beloved friend and antihero Paul Geheeb. I will be there with a friend of mine, who volunteered to help me go thrue these documents. - Saturday evening I will be playing my old accordeon at some neighbourhood happening on the other side of the Rhein. This by itself is a matter of two or three hours, but I feel like I need to somehow get into a good playing mood before I go there and that can take quite some time. - These are this week's obligations. Next week and the week after I don't have any specific plans, except this trip to Munic, I already talked about.

Do you feel that you got an idea of the life I am leading these days? - In fall it will change again: I would talk more about conferences on "The Freedom of Education in Europe" or "Alternative Education in Switzerland and abroad" or some other educational topic. I'd also most likely tell you more about the kids and faculty members of the "Ecole" in Goldern-Hasliberg, where I will be spending quite some time again. And ... well: I would hopefully talk about some things that I don't know anything about yet! Maybe I could by then tell you more about the twinkling in the sky of love and emotions, that I mentioned on the phone. So far its really just a very shy and tender twinkling, which catches my attention every now and then.

O.K. - this is it. I hope that y'all doing fine. Say hello to Shao San and have a good time yourselves! We will hear of each other again, be it just like that, be it, because of Pina's trip. - Much love,