What is meant by real power?

The power of the invisible : What escapes our sight is holy or diabolical

It's a shock, the grave is empty. He's not here, says the angel of the Lord, and is about to set off an earthquake. So it is in the Bible, a few women will meet him after all, including some disciples and the unbelieving Thomas. The high priests prefer to spread the rumor that Jesus was stolen. The risen one: an apparition. The rest is a matter of belief; Christians celebrate the power of the invisible at Easter.

A power that we are already extremely aware of in the Corona crisis. The virus cannot be seen, smelled or touched either. The hope, the danger, the Redeemer, the sickness, all of these are hidden from view.

Whether the messiah or viruses, nanoparticles, gases, radioactivity: the invisible is holy or diabolical, divine or poisonous, hidden omnipotence or a murderous threat.

Often it is just tiny. The world of molecules remains hidden to the naked eye; anything smaller than 0.15 millimeters undermines our capacity. Or it's light years away. Humans want to look at it anyway, invents tools, the telescope for distant galaxies, the microscope for microorganisms. Sometimes the invisible is just lightning fast. Zack, washed, was there something?

Background information on the coronavirus:

Goethe found that faith is love for the invisible, trust in the impossible, the improbable. Oscar Wilde held against it: "The real secret of the world lies in the visible, not in the invisible", he wrote in the "Portrait of Dorian Gray". Whether transcendence or immanence, the virus is not a question of faith, not an imagination, but a fact. Salvation from this is a long time coming.

We are eye beings, sense beings. We want to look, perceive, put our fingers in the wound. The saying of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, according to which one can only see clearly with the heart and the essentials remain invisible to the eyes, may be popular: we want to make an image of ourselves. But we may or may not. Because of the first commandment, God introduces himself in the Old Testament as the inconceivable. And more mundane, because of the consistency of so many toxic substances: asbestos fibers, poison gas, electrosmog, radiation particles.

The invisible danger: we know that from Chernobyl

In one of the most impressive scenes in the “Chernobyl” series, people gaze in amazement from a bridge at the firelight in the distance. The real danger remains invisible and yet it is trapped. None of the real onlookers at the time is said to have survived the GAU. After Chernobyl, only the cracking of the Geiger counters revealed something of the destructive power of radioactivity. In 1986 we learned words like microsievert and Becquerel, we wanted to at least measure the secret danger.

It's the same with Corona: the sky is clear, spring sends gentle breezes, but who knows what's deep in the throat. Infectious, virtual, viral, it's beyond belief. Those who are infected do not necessarily show symptoms; that doubles the invisible danger. Alternatively, we stare at numbers, at rising, flattening curves. This is always the case with epidemics: The statistics should get a grip on what cannot be grasped.

What is invisible cannot be controlled, so it is scary. The science fiction genre has benefited from this since HG Wells' classic "The Invisible Man" from 1897. After an unsuccessful attempt at himself, the mad scientist does not make it back into the visible world, only dares to leave the house veiled, becomes a thief and a murderer . Many horror films follow the same pattern, from James Whale's film adaptation of the 1933 novel to Paul Verhoeven's "Hollow Man" to the high-tech thriller "The Invisible", which launched on Sky earlier this month. Lots of anxiety games. When Steven Spielberg's “Great White Shark” appears out of nowhere at the end, the moment of shock turns around. Deadly Curiosity: Help, the monster is more than just fantasy. It is in person here.

The lust for fear likes to settle on the very permeable border between the physical and the supersensible world. What would the disdainful reality be without the horror, the uncanny, the mirage, the vision, the hallucination? Trip and taboo: a horror that is no longer pleasant in pandemic times. You just wish for the cheerful variant, and the songwriter Sebastian Krämer helps you with his song "Still there, but invisible". The secret glee, the computer worm, the new moon, the other beautiful women besides the loved ones, insects in winter - we are surrounded by temporary absences. Exactly that: there, but invisible. Theologians ponder similarly about the absent God. Even light, as long as it does not hit a reflective surface, is such a supposed invisibility.

Those who make themselves invisible have the power: stealth caps help

We are always exposed. On closer inspection, the invisible turns out to be an immensely political matter, from espionage to fine dust pollution and war with biological weapons to opium religion. Those who make themselves scarce have the power. Whoever is able to escape the view of others at will (and has the appropriate weapons) can become world ruler. The ancient Greeks already speak of this. The magic hat helps Athena in the Trojan War; the Cyclops equip the underworld god Hades with a helmet in the fight against the titans; Perseus can cut off Medusa's head, well camouflaged.

The invisibility cap is also used with the Nibelungs. Siegfried licks them from Alberich - actually a cappa is meant, a cloak. Josef K. and the surveyor are exposed to obscure bureaucracies: Franz Kafka, the master of the obscure, has composed two of the most famous parables on the powerlessness before the throne of the invisible with "The Trial" and "The Castle".

The American military has been testing camouflage prototypes for years, and QuantumStealth technology makes it possible. Nobody sees me, and yet I am there, a fascination. And an archaic instinct. The hunter and his victim, the predator and the prey, both try to hide. Even small children close their eyes and think they are safe. The older ones read Harry Potter, who protects himself from evil spells with the Invisibility Cloak, a family heirloom.

Conversely, those who remain invisible without their intervention are completely powerless. A study by the “More in Common” initiative from 2019 speaks of the invisible third of German society, which includes the socially deprived, the discriminated, the disappointed and the “pragmatic” who are unrelated to politics. They are those who do not have a lobby and do not appear in public. Last but not least, the history of the emancipation movements can be read as a struggle for more visibility. The overlooked step out of the shadows, brave participation. The authoritative and religious critic Oskar Panizza wrote the most pathetic and erratic text about the invisible, also in 1897. In what “hundreds of thousands of human souls carry as a burning thirst in their souls”, he identified the explosive power of the hidden popular anger, the revolutionary Furor.

“I am a real person, made of flesh and bones, of nerves and fluids - and you could perhaps even say that I have sense. But still I'm invisible - because you just don't want to see me, ”says the nameless hero of Ralph Ellison's New York novel“ The Invisible Man ”. A black man in post-war America: the first-person narrator in this major work of Afro-American literature from 1952 lives in the coal cellar of a building otherwise only inhabited by whites, illuminates his dungeon with tapped electricity and looks back at the stages of his life. They are all characterized by racism.

Corona and the exit restrictions: We make ourselves rare

The lepers who have been locked away from society are also exposed. The plague and lepers were taken to islands, out of sight, out of mind. Now, because of Corona, everyone is an island. We lock ourselves up to make sure. And we long for the hidden, the absent, just as the child longs for the mother in Freud’s Fort-Da game. Like the women at the empty grave.

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Gone, all gone. Stages, cinemas and concert halls, museum galleries, techno clubs, culture too is now invisible, hidden from view. In Hamburg, the hashtag #keinerkommt is used. Everyone is taking part in the advertised non-festival of the year for May.

We counter the invisible danger by voluntarily going into absence. We make ourselves scarce - in the hope of being able to be back one not too distant day. It will be a celebration of attendance.

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