Axel hacke and the best in the world: everyone wants a piece of the pie

Frills are not part of axel hacken’s repertoire. Calmly and serenely he strolls onto the stage of the bamberger e.T.A. Hoffmann theater, holding under his arm nothing less than rough parts of his life’s work. This, his life’s work, is deeply thematic. It ranges from anecdotes of the kindergarten daddy to payoffs about despicable old men who happen to rule rough nations. The braunschweig native, who looks ten years younger than his birth year of 1956 would suggest, dares to perform a balancing act this evening. He mixes light humor with profound reflections on morality and decency. It’s tricky. But it works.

Who publishes his columns in the magazine of the "suddeutsche zeitung" knows, woman around the lively texts, which sometimes work, as if one thought aloud and murmured its thoughts time-lost before itself. In the beginning the stories were about his own life, until he "couldn’t think of anything else to say". A new idea was needed. So from now on it was all about the best of the world.

Hacke bundles his most successful ideas in a "columnist manifesto" in 2015, the thickest book he ever plans to write, as he himself says. This, the writer emphasizes, is not to be confused with the communist manifesto of marx and engels. Because of the size alone. He didn’t even know how to support his family as a "freelance communist" could be. As a freelance columnist, this is more likely to succeed. The audience acknowledges this historical sideswipe with laughter. Not the only time this evening.

What do you think is the most important characteristic of a columnist? "Grobwahn", says hacke. Example: no one less than the creation itself helps itself from the pool of ideas of his texts, he explains. As evidence, a new animal created especially in his column (the "welchlein") suddenly made it to number 105 in the official bird count 2014 in munich. No joke. Again resounding laughter.

Surprise effects

Hacke is known for not letting it be known before his readings what he is going to present to the audience. The charm of the surprise effect may be debatable. The fulle of hackes clever lyrics, however, almost excludes a non-success of the performance. This also applies to more difficult to digest. Morals or ethics. The room is quiet as a mouse when hacke has his book heroes, with their index fingers raised, explain that "fairness means sticking to the rules even when no one is looking." And that it is right not to take part in the usual things if they are indecent.

"About decency in difficult times and the question of how we deal with each other" he calls the 192-page volume because he "always wanted to write a book with a long title". And because we are currently living in times of upheaval again, because decency consists of more than just good manners, because important soft values have been lost and because the world is full of lousy types. The trick now is not to let it get you down and to stay friendly. "Everyone wants the same thing: a piece of happiness", he says. "Whoever recognizes this will deal differently with others."

Cheerful instead of cloudy

Enriched by readers’ mail, some of his short stories and columns have grown into small books over the years. The tenor of the reading changes again: cheerful instead of cloudy. Trivial-sounding things like obliquely translated menus or incorrectly sung verses of well-known songs seem to inspire people. No wonder, everyone has already had such experiences, everyone sings a little differently. Hacke sees this as a "hitherto undiscovered phenomenon of the people" the german people get it all wrong. Anyway, the author likes one human ability in particular: the ability to be wrong. Knitting entertaining books from these bold observations is phenomenal. Their lecture not only fills evening readings, but also everyday interludes in waiting rooms, buses and quiet chambers in the best possible way.

Speaking of lecture: hacke doesn’t want to hear any more about the crisis of the book. Too often printed literature has been talked to death and destroyed. Clearly, bucher had got competition in the tightly timed daily rhythm, says hacke too. "But anyone who whines at a party that they’ve had a crisis can just stay at home, he says. "And read a book."

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