Frank Rothkamm [ By the Sea ]


I’m on the phone with the Count. “You want to convert all cash to Euros, so you can do a transfer out of the account,” he repeats wryly. My hands are sweaty. “That is exactly what I’m trying to do,” I reply, and gaze at the screen to find the exact value for my holdings in Euros. “You actually have a negative balance in Euros,” the Count states and I can tell from the tone in his voice that his eyes have glazed over, “and you’re paying interest on it”. I desperately look at my positions spreadsheet in the web trader platform. I have no idea what these numbers actually mean and there are so many of them. Where are the negative signs? Shouldn’t they be in red? I dare not to ask these questions. You do not ask the Count these questions. You’re dealing in potentially millions of dollars and should know the very basics of Wall Street trading. Show me the money. The numbers keep moving up and down. Where is the money? I now actually do ask the Count the question. “It’s right there in positions under Chinese monkey shit,” he replied. I’m beginning to hallucinate. There is no such thing and the Count would not waste time with that. There is probably a bitcoin speculator waiting on the other line, who is sobbing right now because he can’t confess to the Count that he wasted all of his mother’s life savings on a scheme to get rich, to get rich quick.


“I’ve been through Hell”, he noted and stared at the ground as if to penetrate metaphysical matter like Nietzsche’s ‘Übermensch,’ the Superman. “So, there is a Heaven,” she replied and put her book down, got up and made coffee. “Can I use the pods in the plastic bag?” she asked, unsure if they have been used or not. “Yes, for every proposition there is a negation, in formal logic at least,” he spoke as his eyes lifted off the ground towards the coffee pods. She shook her head, fiddling to get the pod into the machine they called the Difference Engine and continued: “Freud, by his own admission, proposed the ‘Es’, the subconscious mind, and he just fabricated the ‘Über-Ich’, a Super-conscious mind, out of pure negation of the ‘Es’. Because there is a sub-structure of the mind known to the pre-clears of Scientology as the reactive mind, we have – ‘deus ex machina’ as the Greeks said: God from the machine – the all-in-control ‘Über-Ich’, the third eye of Freudian analysis.” The coffee machine started blinking a pulsating red, indicating in machine language that it either encountered a major error or that the coffee is ready. “I think the coffee is ready,” he replied in a tone beyond good and evil, beyond any reasonable doubt, “and there is no such thing as a Super-Ego or ‘Überbau’, as Marx made up the Super-structure out of very thin German air years before Freud.” She had a sip of the coffee that was still hot and steaming an infinitesimal bit and went on, “The Difference Engine does not really a hot coffee make.” He looked at her: “Indeed, linguistically, here is the dilemma: the ‘Über’ got lost in translation.”


“Let’s go over the security details, who is your childhood hero?” Don’t say Frank Zappa, whatever pops into your head, do not say Frank Zappa. “It’s Frank Zappa,” I said. What the Freak-out, what I am babbling out loud? This is not the right answer, let me look in the comment section of the password file, I know the answer, I put it right there, nothing about Frank Freakin’ Zappa. Stick it out, ‘Fick mich du miserabler Hurensohn’ as he once wrote, Fuck me, you miserable son of a bitch. Why am I?, wait a second, I remember. In 7th grade a few classmates would get together at a friends house and he had, wonder of wonders, a party basement with a HiFi-Stereo, which was, you know, ‘Echt Geil’, Super Hot. No parents, just us boys hanging out and playing music and getting a bit loose in the reactive mind from the sheer volume of the music and playing air guitar, fully aware that these were no guitars but our symbolic dicks.


“In “Music and Sculpture”, a chapter of Oswald Spengler’s seminal Decline of the West, Spengler emphasizes the ‘Drang ganzer Zeitalter’, a pressure or force that whole time periods exert, a force we are inevitably caught up in, swept away as it were, by the persuasion of time itself, time personified as a character that shapes individual life according to a ‘Drang’.” Her reply was appropriately, “I’m hungry, do you want a baby breakfast?” and she did emphasize the baby portion in her sentence, “So, a soft boiled egg and what do you want on your toast?” “In Europe eggs don’t have a soft consistency,” he said, so she said, “That is because they don’t refrigerate them.” “In the same way, they don’t put the cheese in the fridge either,” he added. “And neither do the Europeans circumcise, I wonder if there is a historical connection between circumcision and refrigeration?” “Well, what do you want on your toast?”


The TV has been on for a long time, my hand still looms over the remote control, ready to change the channel at any moment, but I never get that far.

“The trauma of things past is the current underdog in German national politics. As common wisdom has it, this has always been the answer when nobody thinks and everybody just follows the regime of political correctness, a spectre that everybody sees but nobody laments. Why would you think or lament if the ‘res publica’, the root of the word republic, is always correct like the proverbial party? In Germany the state is always right. This is reasonably founded on Hegel’s ‘Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts’, the Elements of the Philosophy of Right, a mighty tome of spectres and diabolical, some say dialectical, movements towards a final goal, the ideal state of things. As practical and animistic the proponents of politics in Germany are, their outlook is firmly attached towards this utopia. This is a remarkable feature of German politics: The best of all possible worlds is a condition rather than an exception. That is why the critic of populist AfD on the regime of political correctness was scandalized, and not understood: The notion that at the very center of utopia is the very reason that such utopia does not exist.”

I press the power button on my remote control and the TV turns off. Suddenly it is quiet and dark in the room. Just a looming afterglow in my mind and odd voices that appear for the duration of a sentence and then vanish as soon as I move my head. I’m very tired, tired indeed, might already be sleeping, but my pillow is still in sitting mode. Slowly, I move it to the right spot, put my head on it and turn to the side, looking through the window over a moonlit city. I close my eyes.

“The center of the world has a rotten core. A virus has taken over. What did we forget?”

Democracy is the rule of the majority. It is not the rule of truth of fact, as in science; or truth in belief, as in religion. It is the rule of large numbers; all quantity, not quality. It’s is a game of counting, as in simple addition, perhaps the oldest tool in the arsenal of the human capacity of abstraction. Every human is a 1. Historically it took a long time to arrive at this equation. Some humans claimed they were infinity and therefore encompass every human that ever lived, and will live in the future. But, as a human their number is only 1. The number of man is 1. The number of the devil, the messenger, the savior, the god, the entrepreneur, the banker and the worker are and have been judged as different and seemingly less or more than 1. But every human is number 1. Humanity is therefore established by counting every human. This is both true in science as in religion. So, democracy is based in Humanism, but is it not the only Humanism, because the rule of the majority is not the only model for humans to make decisions. So, the preeminent argument of democracy is the counting of all humans as equals, as in 1 = 1, or an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Only because every vote is counted as 1 vote, the decision is the decision of the majority. The minority gets nothing, the majority gets everything, even in irreversible decisions of life or death. The vote of the majority will and has historically always changed, but it always has been this binary decision: The choice between 2 outcomes. This is the basis of all computation. Binary code only has 2 elements: 0 and 1, and every numerical system can be reduced to binary. The future of democracy is the counting of every human as 1. Historically not all humans were counted because they were not recognized as human. The Greeks called them a barbarian. Numerically, there were humans minus x, where x equals any number greater than 0 but not greater than 1. They counted less, to the point that they counted not all. Throughout history humans have used this formula to justify any decision that is not democratic as democratic. However, it always was tyranny and always ended up in humans taking the stand against tyranny, to ascertain their humanity.


“Here I was”, she gasped for air, “in the morning in the middle of Venice, trying to find my way to the train station and Google Maps was on night mode.” “But you did find it, the train station?” he said worryingly, as he was completely worried about her going all alone on a trip from one country, where they spoke English to another, where everything was in Italian, even the manners and the undying respect towards women. “Yes, I found it, it was just hard if you have to be somewhere on time. I thought, how many times do I have to cross this canal, can Google be right?” “Google is always right” he smirked back, “it used to be that the party is always right, but now it’s Google.” “But I did find it, this train station” she shrugged off his remark. He went on, “I had to rely on an inner sense of direction when I hitch-hiked to Venice many decades ago. So I mostly ended up walking randomly around Venice, like an ant. In a labyrinthine city like Venice a random search can be faster than any systematic approach.” “If Google wouldn’t have been on night mode, I would have read the screen much better, but randomly walking around would not have been faster.” “Yes that is true. All roads lead to Rome. You would have ended up at the Rome train station. Random searches only work on large data sets where a binary search would just be too cumbersome and slow.” “Don’t forget that each random search must be truly random and independent of all others,” she reminded him of the facts. “It is just as hard to order the right kind of coffee in Venice, you either end up with too much milk or tiny portion sizes that are too strong.” “I would go with an Americano, even here in Germany, I look for Americano.” “Yeah, you wouldn’t just randomly pick a coffee now, do you?” she replied which gave him this idea: “There should be an app that truly, with a uniform random distribution, picks out entities from any dataset, that will present the truly random as an alternative to the algorithmically deterministic.” “Why don’t you finish your mandarin, they are not too sour, really.” He finished his mandarin, picking randomly a slice off either end, not thinking about it.


Socrates: “If you really want to know, the first thing I ran out of were underpants. Which should come as no surprise, as I have been a long time admirer of Spongebob Squarepants. For some reason the ‘Schwammkopf’, this Spongehead wears underpants, which seems square. I mean he is not a square but rather quirky and inventive, but still in underpants.”

Baonda: “Why do we wear underpants then?”

Socrates: “We wear underpants because we always wore them until we ran out.”

Boanda: “Is this an indication about our origins?”

Socrates: “The first sign of civilization is hereby passed down to us. Monkeys see and monkeys do, but humans go to a place apart from the others and invent a space for themselves. The origins of privacy are found in what survives as the memes of the underpants.

Boanda: “Which is not more than a cover up.”

Socrates: “It really is not more than the original mantle of our civilization. As babies, helpless and exposed, with no differentiation between external and internal experience, we learned the ins and outs of our human-ness this way.”

Boanda: “I say this is bullshit. The great learning was only concerned with the outs.”

Socrates: “Of course, we think of ourselves in lofty terms, by our contributions to the Great Learning, by our carrying of civilization to greater and greater heights, ever closer and closest to Reason itself.”

Boanda: “That is where the underpant-ian lesson comes in?”

Socrates: “Yes, our first sign of civilization, our first sense of the self, our first output, our privacy; it was and is first found in our underpants. These are the facts and nothing but the facts, or, our artifact.”

This bring to me to Aristotle, who first and foremost thought all this business all the way through. He did not enlighten us, but he traced all movements back to their causes until he ran out of all of them and then postulated a prime mover.

Later, civilization forgot about Aristotle, went into a deep slumber and when it finally came to, it simultaneously developed the idea of the underpant and recalled Aristotle's idea of the prime mover as a “primum movens.”

The prime mover, as we understand it today, is not Greek, but Latin.”

Boanda: “This is all Greek to me”

Socrates: “Which brings us the origin of civilization, leaves us all alone with, “that which moves without being moved.”


Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and everything has changed, I am all alone, the universe is a distant glow on the horizon and there is just the invisible void that surrounds me. I move a bit but every step gets me closer to the edge of nothingness. There I remain, infinitely sad, without anything to hold on to but tears for fears, neither dead nor alive.


“So, you put all non-whites together and then what?” he asked her on the phone. “Remember,” she said, “darks are cold and whites you wash at a higher temperature.” So, he grabbed all the non-blacks he could find, even his bed sheets and covers and walked through the corridors to the laundry room. Very carefully he checked his pockets so he wouldn’t forget his house key or laundry card or anything else he could think of. He was a tiny bit nervous, leaving the apartment, but he got everything into the washing machine and found the right setting right away. It was the Number 1, ‘Bunte’ it said. Bunte is good. It stands for mixed, a colorful selection of various items, a very non-uniform and accepting setting. Variety, this must be it, he can’t wrong with this. He pressed start and the machine gave the message that the door will lock in 3 minutes and that it will take 58 minutes to do whatever has to been done. He got back to the apartment and the phone rang. “Did you just call me? It says Missed Call,” she asked. “No,” he replied, “but I called you earlier, maybe it is from that. By the way, I found everything and it was really easy with the laundry.” “That’s good, did you remember to put the laundry detergent in there as well?” He did not. He forgot the detergent. Well, it was his first attempt. Baby steps. This is all a brand new world.


James Joyce’s “Bygmester Finnegan, of the Stuttering Hand, freemen's maurer” is a mason of free men, a freemason with a hand that repeats, 3 times, the initiation of every movement, therefore a master builder from the counties of Galway, Roscommon and Louth, on the West Coast of Ireland, as the sun rises in the East but sets in the West, repeatedly until the work is ‘vollendet’, fully finished.

Catalog No: FLX139.501
Title: By the Sea
Sound Artist: Frank Rothkamm
Visual Artist: Holger Rothkamm
Length: 1:14:03 (4443s)
Composed: 2018
Location: Cologne
Instruments: Zoom H2n
Rycote Windjammer
Release Date: 02/04/2018
Format: Digital
File Under: nothingness
PDF: rothkamm-By the Sea.pdf