Berlin’s Marcus Speh Birkenkrahe does not have a new book, movie, or record to promote. His old, new, and ever ongoing project that he has devoted his far reaching, scientific, business, and artistic life to is evidential and complacent in none other than the man you are about to meet.

While many creative types typically scan the horizon for the next clue in what direction to move their craft, Birkenkrahe in his wisdom and 48 years, has already left the horizon crowded with important achievements and accomplishments that all add up to one exceedingly busy Renaissance man.

Being a writer is probably the logical extension of his incredibly diversified background. A physicist, professor of computer science, consultant to high ranking CEOs and a husband and father, have helped to plant the certainly prolific seeds needed to nurture the literary life.

Chatting with the man via Skype, with video cameras blazing, was the perfect ambience needed to capture the wide angle musings and energy of the never spread too thin, always captivating Birkenkrahe.

GALO: What’s the correct pronunciation of your name?

Marcus Speh Birkenkrahe: In Germany you would say ‘Sshpee.’ But in America you would say ‘Spay.’ My sister who is Texas born and who is a professor in the US, her name is Alice Speh (Spay).

Birkenkrahe is a completely made up name. If you Google it, all the Birkenkrahes you get are us. Because my wife is an American, Cherokee, she’s got Cherokee ancestors and my Native American tree totem is the Birch, which in German is ‘Birke,’ and her American Indian animal totem is the crow, which in German is ‘krahe,’ which became Birkenkrahe. So we just decided to adopt the new name instead of taking the name of the other person.

We lived in England for a long time [and] in England you can choose your own name, go to a solicitor, and he would allow you to adopt any name you like. You could call yourself ‘pigtail’ tomorrow if you like. In Germany, the name belongs to the State and not the individual, so you have to ask the State for permission to change your name. So we did the name change in the UK because we lived in London for ten years and then took the name to Germany. When I began to write online, I first used a pseudonym Finnegan Flawnt that is completely made up and then when I ‘came out,’ so to speak, as my real personality I decided to use my father’s name, which is Speh, my birth name. So in other words my actual surname is Birkenkrahe and Speh is just a name I use as a writer — to keep those two personalities separate.

GALO: In Berlin, specifically, and Germany, in general, how wide is the gap between the have and have-nots?

MSB: I listened to a broadcast the other day, which said the gap, is certainly widening. My perception from having lived in England is that it is considerably less, certainly less visible and certainly smaller than in other European countries. I mean Germany is by far the richest European nation and finances about a third of the total budget of the European Union. Friends of mine who lived in Munich, the south of Germany, say that poverty is a lot more visible in Berlin. I wouldn’t have really noticed it but I can imagine it; partly because the city was split into the eastern part and the western part and unemployment in the eastern part is worse, a lot worse. There’s not a have/have not divide but there’s still a visible east/west divide, which goes straight through town. It goes straight through the republic. But the big difference, for example, is that in London where the occupy movement is quite strong is that Germany still is not really a class society. It’s much closer to the United States in that respect. If you make it here [Germany], then you’d be accepted if you have a funny accent, a funny dialect–that’s not a problem. In England, if you come from the wrong class background or you have the wrong accent you’re done with; you’re lost. There’s no way you can connect. If you ask, did we feel the crisis (the world wide depression) of 2008; my impression is in Germany it hasn’t been felt very much at all compared to the US.

GALO: In an interview at the site Voices you are quoted as saying, “…life keeps changing more rapidly for more people than ever before in human history.” What makes you think that and might it have anything to do with the so-called ‘Arab Spring’?

MSB: Not actually. That interview was before the Arab Spring in the summer of 2010 and I wasn’t thinking so much of political movements or changes. I think it’s something that came out of a discussion with my wife who, coming from the US, has a very different background from mine. It came from the thought of my father — what kind of stability in terms of conditions of life, patterns of communication, mostly technology, he could rely upon in his lifetime and the previous generation, and the generation before that. I mean this has a very profound effect upon stories. If you look at stories as the end of it, you will notice that the individual story, at least in Europe, is so much more important now than it used to be. And I’m sort of improvising here to talk that through, but it seems like the story is much more coupled to the individual, where in the past it was much more an ancestral thing.

You would have to work to disengage your story from the tribe and the family. And for a number of reasons I think stories have become much more individual and that, for me, is an indicator that you know things are speeding up. If I look at the conditions of life of my father and my grandfather and my great grandfather, which are well known to me because in Europe we don’t move around so much, then I recognize how vastly different my story is from my father and grandfather.

When I look at my grandfather, his story and the story of his forefathers were all much more similar. So, somehow, I think from a writing perspective, from any other perspective, politically or whatever. You have to come to grips with speeding up of process. And the fact that our kids have such different communication habits and patterns than our parents or us is just the tip of the iceberg, a sign of something much deeper.

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