Modern living knows no crueler place than the gym, but neither does anything more fun. In the gym, the outside world determines, nowhere else do youth and old age appear in such brutal closeness and contemporaneity. The one who is young flies easily through his power time in Monster state, of which the overgrown upper arms only light up briefly and then continue to grow. If you are no longer young, your tail cracks in the locker room as you bend over your laces.
Youth researcher and former part-time journalist Dr. In that sense, Johannes Lohmer is quite older and it will still be a pleasure to accompany him to the gym. This is due to Lohmer’s partial alter ego and repeated chronicler, author Joachim Lottmann. His still new novel “The Death War Yesterday” sometimes whizzes quite aimlessly through the recent present up to the Corona and the terrorist attack in Vienna in November 2020. But the text also wins in relation to what you are essentially the subject of, namely youth. It is often and sometimes indirectly about the youth Lohmer lost. It is even more about the resulting strangeness towards those who, in turn, have not yet lost their youth.
Johannes Lohmer, who is no longer young, goes to the gym, in the “torture cellar for the brainless”, and of course he does not go there voluntarily. His wife – “a fearless, brave person” who loves Lohmer beyond a normal romantic level – registered her husband there; even though it sounds so harmless, she signed an expensive chain contract, and the hero immediately calculates the opportunity cost of this evil. It only makes the whole thing more sad, because “with the money you could have traveled to the US twice! It was our dream”.
Humiliation and comedy have unprotected intercourse with each other
But now Lohmer is standing there, only old people around him at this moment and “no laughter anywhere, a liberated mood”, yes, “it was as if a terrible god had taken the unhappy schoolboys of the past straight out of gymnastics class and in one fell swoop sixty years older. There they were again, unhappy as they had been then, but now also damn old “.
As a result, humiliation and high comedy have sweaty and unprotected intercourse, as is sometimes the case with Lottmann. For Johannes Lohmer is a man who has broken down several times and who prefers to look for someone to blame when things go wrong, rather than for reasons that can somehow be remedied and treated. A man who, when in doubt, prefers to refer to free thinking instead of examining his own views when “everyone” around him suddenly revises their opinions or just gently updates them. General Opinions – Lohmer says, “I’ve always hated opinions, all my life, even in elementary school.”
On the one hand, you now have this stubborn and stiff-thinking guy who is more of a case for egotherapy than one for occupational therapy. On the other hand, and therefore one likes to read Lottmann in the end, despite all the helplessness along the way, this Lohmer at least forces himself to study everything that seems foreign to him and becomes so. He meets a few times with the fleeting Instagram icon Lana de Roy, he also meets other really young people for a survey to be made about the “Greta generation” and wonders about them. Sometimes Lohmer marvels at their determination and ability to shape their lives, sometimes he is annoyed at the seemingly robotic thinking and emotions of young people today.
When reading, be careful not to take all this in, because unfortunately the amazing author Joachim Lottmann did not get thoroughly cleared out in his text before it was printed. He probably did not do it on purpose, at least in a conversation Lottmann once said that the artificiality of literature irritated him, “one can feel the intention” and also “this lie that none of this is true”. With him, on the other hand, it is always the case that there is never anything behind a sentence, “it’s just the sentence itself”. According to Lottmann, the real life of man does not happen as a story in the sense of a round, dramaturgically tense narrative – so why should it be different in literature?
The author remains entertaining even when he digs against what he believes is the spirit of the times
If you are fortunate enough to be considered an artist, a certain amount of negligence is interpreted as a creative principle. In this case, however, something less comes into play, which the pop writer by and large Joachim Lottmann is particularly good at, namely the shameless, a little too loud, a little more self-righteous wanders away from today’s front lines. He succeeds once again in “Sterben war Gestern” and he succeeds because, for example, Lohmer / Lottmann’s self-righteousness in the end does not smell too much of dogmatism. The author remains entertaining even when he digs against what he believes is the spirit of the times. In a discursive at times relentless present, this is a value in itself.
The novel’s strengths and weaknesses can also be pretty well measured with a little kitchen comparison, a quick comparison between Lottmann and one of his absolute favorite authors, Michel Houellebecq. Both do not stifle the gripping comedy that comes with being an aging white man outside the gym, and both prefer to use it as a punch line. What Lottmann, in contrast to Houellebecq, lacks in his deliberations on the main subject of youth, is the existential, the power of the all-pervading mega-depression that lies in the realization that wherever one looks, only vanity can still be seen and will continue with to do it for all time on earth.
Against that background, more would have been possible for someone like Lottmann or Lohmer in the showdown between “Generation Greta” to be treated in his commissioned work and those whom he does not tearfully describe as generational belly fat. But Lottmann only touches on a lot of things from this conflict area, ranging from culture of renunciation to questions of the meaning of life.
More would also have been possible, because Lottmann’s prose usually moves in the area between fact and fiction, where it is particularly easy and good for the reader to connect, and where the neurotic present is also easier to deal with than e.g. . eg in everyday journalistic texts.
The author Lottmann is himself a great liar. Not great in the sense of a notorious and blunt lie. Much more in the sense of a pleasant fusion of the real and the imaginary. Lottmann is interested in the truth, but maintains a, shall we say, liberal relationship with it, which also makes his prose interesting – especially at a time when some insist on moral and political uniqueness, not only in the real world, which can also do not give.