kaffeklatsch and coffee culture

kaffeklatsch is a part of austrian culture. what is today known as a simple getting together, usually associated with women and a lot of superficial girls talk, was once the crown jewel and heart of austrian intellectual culture. then, it was more men than women who got together in the darkness of the cafe-corners where they would, surrounded by smoke and dusty air, debate world affairs without knowing time or any world outside the safety haven of intellectual heaven on this very one table. it was there, in the depth of their coffee cups and thoughts that they created concepts of social engagement, politics and economics. it was there, in the silent whispering of their critical thoughts, that true revolutionaries were born. and it was there, in the comfort of a satin chair, that true intellectuality was lived.

personally, i was always very skeptical about these cultures of sitting together around a table, with coffee or beer or brandy, discussing world matters in an ever more lubricated and intoxicated megalomania of the own grandeur. after all, it was the stammtischkultur, another version of men sitting around the table and discussing daily politics, while lacking even the slightest degree of intellectuality or critical reflective thinking, that i have come to know growing up in the countryside. and what i witnessed there was not the critical engagement in radical ideas and the questioning of concepts, thinkers and realities, but the complaining and whining about whatever so happened around them in the small world of their everyday horizon. and all my pointing to the fact that they have time to complain about so insignificant an issue as getting the rent at 62 or 63 is a proof to the fact that they are actually quite well off in comparison to the rest of this breaking, cracking, savaging world only hit on deaf ears. 

it was only after a time that i came to realize that my own adoring of the vienna circle in their academic endeavor of knowledge, questioning and radically critical thinking, and my disgust with the low informed, never reflective and superficial whining of the stammtisch are actually not that far apart as i always thought them to be. yes, the quality of the discourse might be fundamentally diverging, as may the topics of debate and the approach to their discussion. but in either way, there are people, sitting together, sharing their thoughts and worries and life stories and ideas about the world. and it is the sharing, the community, the taking time to test your own thoughts against a group of others, that is the actual accomplishment of coffee culture.

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