How woke are you? And is it enough?

Just stumbled UPON a new term: Wokeness – the new, heightened form of political correctness, as I read in the Neue Züricher Zeitung. And of course I also wonder what this has to do with the topic of our conference: POWER OF STORY / STORIES OF POWER …

What is the power behind these moral categorizations, which are being boosted in social media as never before? And what history? Kevin Baldeosingh puts his „Short History of Wokeness“ under my nose, which gives me an approach by building a bridge to the anti-rational movement of the Romantics and a mysticism of the deviant.

But what is it really about? „Woke“ is a word creation derived from „awake“, which implies a higher form of consciousness regarding the precarious state of the world. I once read in a book: „The world is as we are.“ And I thought, „I’m not as ghastly as the world.“ Perhaps this new movement is about keeping this difference high – also in view of the increasingly probable global climate collapse that hangs over us like a sword of Damocles. Individual salvation, when our world is already going down the drain with the planet?


But maybe it’s about something else entirely. In the beginning, we thought of a language police in Political Correctness. Until it turned out that it’s about controlling what’s possible to think. My grandmother comes to mind, who used to shout out when things got discursively tight in the family dialogue: „You must not even think that!“

But what are we allowed to think? Who edits the “Wokeness” codified catalogue of criteria? And who watches over the moral consensus on what is “woke” and what is not?

Woke is who rejects cars and airplanes as a means of transportation, and who boycotts Amazon. Not woke is anyone who indulges in the antiquated ideal of beauty 90-60-90, or thoughtlessly decides to bring children in this world. Greta Thunberg and Prince Harry are woke. Prince Andrew and Peter Handke are not. Or vice versa the next day?

Where are the guardians of discourse? And what morality feeds their binary worldview? Certain is that this game of inclusion and exclusion is a cruel one. It marks the victory of the singular over the plural, of truth over reality, and the end of the narrative. The storyteller plays with possibility. Those who raise moral categories like fences move between 0 and 1. Stories green the diverse space in between.

Diversity, the much-troubled concept, begins within us – in the moment we embrace ourselves as multiple personalities, instead of focusing on this one feature which tells the truth about us. Instead, we are not well because we do not want what we have and cannot have what we want. And the others have. There is a black hole between our dependencies and our desires, in which we are pulled apart like spaghetti. We believe that our growth and well-being are directly related and are blinded by the promises that surround us. Because the lack – the feeling of having too little and being too little – has eaten into our minds, we can no longer sit still. At the same time, we lean further and further into a future that is slowly but surely running out of resources.

It seems that we have no time left to divide people into binary categories. As entertaining and revealing as it can be at times. And as characteristic as it was of modernity in the name of progress. Suddenly the great Julio Cortazar comes to mind and his subdivision of people into „cronopios“ and „famas“. As a reminder, the latter were those who meticulously roll up their toothpaste from behind. But shouldn’t we pay tribute to them today in front of the backdrop of the Zero-Waste-Movement rather than making fun of them?

Perhaps it is like in music, which is not only made up of notes, but above all of pause marks. Silence. Every melody lives from the fact that we not only exhale, but also inhale. Two notes correspond with each other across the empty space. Pause. And the music is this in-between. A world in which we also want to live. Beyond the strict opposites. And beyond the false ideologies. A space in between. A transition. From me to you. Not a world of fences that separate and not a world of castles that block and lock the way. But a world of possibilities and windows that can be opened.

POWER OF STORY / STORIES OF POWER – we know that it is a very ambitious and at the same time evasive conference topic. But if you wanna step out of the binary world surrounding you it is a place to be. See you in Berlin at


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