I am happy to announce that the German edition of my Atlas of Prejudice book will hit the bookstores in February 2013. The publisher is Knesebeck Verlag. Those of you familiar with the German market have probably seen a lot of its superbly made illustrated books, among which are bestseller titles like Christoph Niemann’s Abstract City. I couldn’t be in a better company. Seriously.
I have yet to sit down and fully comprehend what all this means. Mapping Stereotypes, the project that this book is based on, is 4 years old. By contemporary standards, this makes it as ancient as a Phidias statue. Despite that, with every passing year, it has managed to grow, almost by itself in a frictionless, kind of supernatural way. There was always something extra that was worth laughing at. What remained unnoticed was that it came hand in hand with something discouraging, even scary.
Those who ridicule stupidity long enough always get their hearts broken. As time passes by, it becomes harder and harder to separate the fools from the people you sympathize with. And suddenly the fun may turn to bitterness, resentment, anger, rage. Then comes a humbling point because as you dig deeper in the mud you ultimately discover there’s a stupid fool living inside your own self.
The human psyche is such a weird creature. All its problems have to be reverse-engineered. We spend most of our lives projecting expectations like an old cinema. Our eyes flicker, our guts roar and when the end comes, the film just flies off the feeder and then – silence. Few of us really take part in the movie itself. We are so scared to step in and assume our roles that we dedicate enormous efforts to deceive ourselves that the projection itself is the reality worth living in. Our emotional gluttony forces us to chase pleasure where it doesn’t exist. Our fear makes us choose sides in otherwise irrelevant alliances. Our prefabricated assumptions grow into parallel universes once they rub on our sensation-hungry minds.
If you assume those are modern, 21st century problems, this book will kindly remind you they’re not. America didn’t invent Wall Street. Britain didn’t invent imperialism. Stalin didn’t invent mass deportations and France didn’t invent peeing in the ocean. The impulse for all those things was already present, it popped in our little heads the moment we started thinking and truth be told, back in those days, it used to be much worse. That’s not exactly a consolation, but it’s good to know we have such a vast base for comparison when it comes to bigotry, stereotypes and prejudices. Human history, dear reader, is nothing but a branch of psychology and this book marks the beginning of my efforts to prove it.
This is why I had to write it myself. I had to design it myself. Illustrate it myself. It’s not stubborn egoism, it’s just an enormous pulsating zit on my face and I have to deal with it on my own because let’s be fair, who else would want to touch it?
There are 39 maps inside. Most of them you have already seen, although never in one single place. Others were made exclusively, inspired during the writing process. The remaining 41 pages you will have to read. Yeah, sorry about that. :)
P.S. And finally, after I bragged about how this is a one man effort, let’s backtrack a bit. Making this book wasn’t easy but whatever problems I encountered were mine alone. The wonderful team I worked with was no less than brilliant. I am very thankful to Martin Brinkmann, my literary agent who has the patience of a saint and the dedication of a nun. I was literary amazed by the skills of Christine und Christophe, das beste Ü-Team in der ganzen Welt, who managed to translate all my ridiculous map labels into German and still keep them embarrassingly funny! And last but not least, to Knesebeck for giving me absolute creative freedom. How many authors can enjoy this with their first book? That’s right, I am the only one. Up yours, Dostoevsky! :)