Pre-modern and modern

  Heinrich Burr is a well-known German writer. Born in Cologne, he studied literature at university. He was drafted into the army during World War II. He was wounded and served as a prisoner. His works in the 1940s and 1950s were mainly based on the Second World War. He was good at portraying the images of soldiers to show the serious disasters the war brought to the German nation. In the 1960s and 1970s, Burr created a broader theme, depicting the lives of little people at the stage of the social and economic miracle of West Germany. Burr was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1972 for his work “which combines a broad perspective of the times with a delicate skill in shaping the characters.”
  Burr’s 1960s essay, “An Anecdote of the Degenerate Work Ethics,” tells the story of an encounter between a tourist and a fisherman in a port on Europe’s west coast. The fisherman makes a living by fishing. He catches enough fish every day so he doesn’t go out to sea. He likes to take a nap and bask in the sun by the sea. He lived according to the principle of need, quite like the style of a hermit in Lao Tzu’s writings: “please enjoy your food, beautify your clothes, be comfortable with your customs, and be happy with your career”. For a fisherman, the purpose of life is life itself. He lives in the present and the present. Let’s call him a pre-modern man. The other protagonist of the story, the tourists, can’t understand the fisherman’s thinking mode anyway, and he doesn’t understand why the fisherman is reluctant to go out to sea several times a day, so as to buy better fishing equipment and diligently expand his industry. The tourist’s conception of the ideal life model is full of calculations and figures. The growth of quantity becomes the only goal of life. He does not care about the quality of life. The principle of most people’s life – the pursuit of the maximization of interests. It can be seen that the tourist is a typical modern person.
  The shrewd modern man arranges his day rationally and precisely, as if everything is under his control. His first action when he arrives at a tourist attraction is photography. Photography reflects a person’s possessive relationship to the photographic object, which means that tourists place the natural scenery within their own control in this way. Since the Enlightenment, God has been invited to the altar, and people have claimed to be the spirit of all things, confident that they can control nature through reason. Tourists are busy in the working world on weekdays. The original intention of travel is to enjoy nature, but when he is in nature, he is busy with nature in his pocket and pastoral into film. Different from the fisherman who is at ease, taking a nap, and enjoying the sun, the fisherman is one with nature and does not separate each other; the nature at this time is unfamiliar to tourists, and he cuts it into pieces (blue sky, green sea) , sprays, black ships, etc.), and then take them all as their own; his body cannot communicate directly with nature, but must rely on modern technological media – the camera, which becomes an extension of the tourist’s bodily organs. Photography occupies nature, not enjoys it.
  Modern people are not only unfamiliar with nature, but also unfamiliar with others. The fisherman in the text makes physical contact with the tourists easily and naturally. He occasionally pats the tourists on the shoulder or back, like a child. It is conceivable that the daily social atmosphere of fishermen is very different from that of tourists. The former is a more slowly approaching rural life, and the latter is a high-speed urban atmosphere. The fisherman lives a slow pace of life, communicates with other people for a long time and frequency, understands the personality characteristics of other people in the social circle, and communicates with others around him in a warm, family-like way, even with relatively unfamiliar tourists. Relationships are like family members, and physical contact with family members is just a natural thing. On the other hand, for modern people like tourists, first of all, the cold and pragmatic life principle makes them have no time to shorten the distance between each other, and secondly, the rapid changes in big cities stimulate too much nerves, so that modern people save their limited energy to save time, and even actively avoid it. Excessive contact with other people. The alienation of modern people can be seen in their infrequent physical contact with each other. In the story, we can’t see a single tourist contacting the fisherman directly. The closest contact is that the tourist puts a pack of cigarettes in the fisherman’s hand and lights a cigarette for him. Tobacco is a symbol for expressing greetings and a medium of communication. Tourists must use this medium when communicating with others. As a cultural symbol, cigarettes connect the body of tourists and others on the one hand, and show that tourists on the other hand. The cold boundary between the body and the bodies of others.
  As a modern man, rationality is the principle of his life. He believes that the body can be controlled by reason. In order to strengthen his persuasion, he deliberately frees up his hands and uses gestures to try to convince the fisherman to accept his rational logic and put his wealth into unlimited. Added value. But the body is not as self-confident as the tourists do, completely obeying the command of reason. While gushing about the grand vision of development, he was too excited to speak several times, and the flow of speech was interrupted. The ambitious tourist looks to the future, his spirit indulging in the imagination of the ever-expanding scale of production, but his body is playing a jarring note, his voice defying his wishes, repeatedly preventing him from expressing his ideas freely. In other words, when a tourist’s spirit has adapted to the modern efficiency, high speed, and changing pace of life, his body may not keep up with the pace of his spirit. The grand development prospect makes it difficult for the body to breathe, resulting in repeated interruptions in the flow of speech. It can be seen that the paranoia of modernization makes the body and spirit of tourists alien to each other.
  Enjoying life was originally the purpose of life, but in the process of striving for the maximization of property day after day, modern people are gradually forgetting the original purpose of life, or as Gibran sighed, “We have gone too far. , so that you forget why you set out”; while the work that was originally a means is alienated and subverted into an end in itself. The tourist sees the fish at ease, but the fisherman turns a blind eye, which makes him restless, and possessiveness becomes the obsessive-compulsive disorder of the modern tourist.
  While the goals and means of life are unfamiliar to each other, the life of tourists is also divided into the present of work and the future of retirement, and life is divided into working time and leisure time, thus work alienates a person who was originally a homogeneous whole into pieces . The tourist in the story is also called “stranger”, which not only means that he is unfamiliar with the pre-modern way of life, but also shows that modern people are open to external nature, to others, to their own bodies, and to their own lives. Unfamiliar to the target.
  Anecdote of the fall of work ethics. In a port on the west coast of
  Europe , a fishing boat is moored, and a man in humble clothes is lying in the boat and taking a nap. A well-dressed tourist scrambled to load color film into his camera in order to capture the idyllic scene. The typical picture: blue sky, green sea rolling with snow-white waves, dark boat, red fisherman’s hat. “Kacha.” Another one: “Kacha.” Good things come in three, of course, then a third one.
  The crisp, almost hostile voice awakened the dozing fisherman, who slowly straightened up and slowly reached for the cigarette case; before the cigarette was touched, the enthusiastic tourist He had already handed a pack of cigarettes in front of him. Although he didn’t put the cigarette in his mouth, he put it in his hand. With the fourth “click” sound, the lighter was turned on. It was very polite. , extremely diligent. There is something inexplicable about this series of excessively courteous behaviors; it is rather embarrassing and one does not know what to do. Fortunately, the tourist is proficient in the language of the country, so he tried to overcome the embarrassing scene by talking.
  ”You will definitely catch a lot of fish today.” The fisherman shook his head.
  ”I heard that the weather is fine today.” The fisherman nodded.
  ”You don’t go out fishing?”
  The fisherman shook his head, and the tourists began to feel anxious. Undoubtedly, he was very concerned about the health of the poor fisherman, and felt very sorry for the fisherman’s delay in this opportunity to go out to sea.
  ”Oh, you don’t feel well?”
  At last the fisherman stopped mumbling and began to speak. “I’m in great shape,” he said. “I’ve never felt so energetic.” He stood up and stretched his limbs, as if to show how athletic he was. “My body is great.” The
  tourist’s expression became more and more puzzled, and he couldn’t hold back the question that seemed to blow his heart: “Then why don’t you go out fishing?” The
  answer was Without thinking. briefly. “Because I have already gone out to fish this morning.”
  ”Have you caught too much?” The harvest was great, so there was no need to go out. There are four lobsters in my basket, and I have caught more than twenty mackerel…” The
  fisherman was completely awake at this time, became easy-going, opened his chatter, and patted the tourist on the shoulder in relief. He felt, The worried look on the tourist’s face is a bit redundant, but it shows that he is worried about himself.
  ”I even have enough fish for tomorrow and the day after tomorrow,” he used this sentence to comfort the stranger’s heart, “Are you smoking my cigarette? ”
  ”Okay, thank you.” ”
  Both of them had cigarettes in their mouths, and then a fifth ‘click’ sounded. The stranger shook his head, sat down on the edge of the boat, and put down the camera in his hand, for he now had two hands free to emphasize what he was saying.
  ”Of course, I don’t want to interfere in your private affairs,” he said, “but think about it, if you go out to sea twice, three times, or even four times today, you can catch thirty or forty. Fifty or sixty, or even more than a hundred mackerel… Please think about it.” The
  fisherman nodded.
  ”If you didn’t just go out today,” the tourist continued, “and go out two or three times, maybe four times, tomorrow, the day after, every good day—you know what that would be like?”
  The fisherman shook his head.
  ”You can buy a motorcycle in a year, a boat in two years, and a fishing reel in three or four years; with two boats or that reel, of course you can catch more Fish—as soon as you have two fishing reels, you can…” He was so excited that he couldn’t even talk about the basics, “You can build a small refrigerator, maybe build a fish smoking factory and then open another one. A cannery that produces all kinds of marinated fish, you can fly around in a helicopter to find fish, and direct your fishing reels by radio. You can get the right to catch salmon and open a live fish restaurant without going through the middle. The merchant shipped the lobster straight to Paris—and…” The stranger was so excited that he was speechless. He shook his head, feeling so apprehensive that the joys of vacation had all but vanished. He stared at the rolling waves, in which the fish danced happily. “Then,” he said, but was at a loss for words again with excitement.
  The fisherman patted him on the back like a choked child. “And then what?” he asked softly.
  ”And then,” said the stranger with silent excitement, “then you can sit at ease in the harbor here, and doze in the sun—and look out at the beautiful sea.”
  ”I’ll do it now. Now,” said the fisherman, “I was sitting leisurely in the harbour and taking a nap, but your ‘click’ disturbed me.” The
  tourist was enlightened by this, and walked away from there, thinking of something in his heart. Si, because he once thought that he worked so that one day he would no longer have to work; his sympathy for this humble fisherman had now evaporated in his heart, and what remained was only a trace of envy.