Issue 5: July – Sept. 2024


Riddles: the great questions facing mankind. When Dr. Wagner got around to discussing those, he leaned back and looked into the distance. Where do we come from? Where are we going? Those were questions that he had often asked himself during his seventy years of life, without ever coming a jot closer to the truth. Perhaps the meaning of life was that we must perfect whatever is our own potential? Strive for perfection, as Goethe understood that word. Now, when he sits alone in his room, he often thinks of the good times, of home, of eating fried flounders with his mother beside the River Pregel. And he is sorry that he wasn’t nicer to her. ‘Time, time, you can never turn it back, my boy.’ And he would stand up and look at the cuckoo clock, with its pendulum swinging quickly back and forth, left to right and vice versa, and the little door is already opening, and the cuckoo calls out of the clock whether you want to hear it or not. So many things were a riddle to him. The differences between people – quite apart from the difference between man and woman. For instance, the difference between Germans and Russians. Germans, clean, industrious, honest; Russians, on the other hand, lazy, dirty, cruel? Then again, the other way round: Russians, kindly on principle, whereas Germans … Recently there’d been much that was hard to understand, although here and now it was better not to talk about it. Things that, in themselves, were not at all necessary.’ ‘Riddle,’ a good Germanic word, not for the great questions that face mankind, but for the little ones, often very simple matters. That too was part of a teacher’s educational plan: it should show his pupil that some things are hard even for an adult to understand.


— WALTER KEMPOWSKI, All for Nothing

Q of the Q is a profound piece of writing or speech that resonates with the general drift of an issue of TWR.