Marginal notes to an introductory lecture in sociology


Norbert Elias


how strange these people are

how strange I am

how strange we are


when I was young

I thought women and men mysterious

what games what smiles

what whispers and what silences

there seemed something hidden away

one could never understand


now that I am old

the patterns of men have ceased to be strangers

one learns to read

the signs of the eyes

the languages of lips

the signals of fingers and feet


there are no mysteries

only a lot I donít know

nothing unknowable

only the novelty of the living

and their infinite variety of surprises


the journey - not the arrival

not the survival - the struggle


why do you want to save mankind from destruction

if you are not going to make menís lives richer?




first published in: Luciad (Leicester/UK: Leicester University Students' Union), Nr. 22, pp. 4 

reprinted (including the later corrections by Norbert Elias) within: Stephen J. Mennell: "A suppressed poem by Norbert Elias", in: Figurations. Newsletter of the Norbert Elias Foundation, Issue No.20 December 2003, pp. 2-3