Learned a new word today: Lebenskünstler. Roughly it translates as “living artist.” I’ve learned both Leben “to learn” and künstler “artist” in my German language course, but today was the first time I’ve seen the words combined.
Recently there was an article published on the NYTimes.com website about one Australian band’s experiences in Berlin. Seems they moved to the city one summer to find inspiration and had big dreams of making it big. But as so many people do, they failed…or at least were distracted enough that they changed their goals and their plans. The article painted a pretty negative view of Berlin, not entirely undeserved but not entirely accurate either.
You see, the musician and künstler in the autobiographical story was so distracted by the Berlin lifestyle of freedom and creativity, that he just couldn’t figure out what to do. I won’t lie that my first impressions of Berlin from a year ago were that people here don’t work, don’t really live the normal life. I thought Berliners today were hedonistic, selfish and slightly lazy. Interested in big ideas but not acting on them. Over time I’ve come to realize that there are different types of people here—as in every city—and that for every lazy Berliner, there’s at least one truly creative, innovative and active individual. And luckily for the city, usually that person is three times more productive than most other people.
Berlin is an incredible city. There’s certainly a very different type of lifestyle here than most other cities. And while there are plenty of people here who enjoy life to the fullest, who live and let go, who are worry free….there are just as many interested in making this city truly unique and special…and a place where big things can and should happen. Berlin has potential.
I especially enjoyed learning the word Lebenskünstler (which I first read here) because of its many meanings. Literally, as a “living artist,” the word is quite romantic. In a more figurative sense, it can mean something more like a “philosopher” or even “survivor” or, as Google translate suggests, a “master in the art of living.” If Berlin is the place to find Lebenskünstler, I’m not sure there’s anywhere else in the world I’d want to be.
- Riff: ‘In Berlin, You Never Have to Stop’ (nytimes.com)
- What’s the first day of a German language course like? (myberlinstory.com)
- Berlin rises (kernelmag.com)
- 24 hours in Berlin – A 24 hour travel guide to Berlin Germany (essentialtravel.co.uk)
- The 5 golden steps to getting started in Berlin (venturevillage.eu)