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In Memory of Peter Scheiffele

Nobody should die at 44. But Peter Scheiffele did just that, and as his friend, I am tempted to say that he never listened to what “one” should or shouldn’t do. Peter maneuvered his massive ex-footballer’s body through the world as he saw fit. Traditionally, he always did everything at once. He was an extraordinarily important figure in the intelligent parts of Cologne’s nightlife, in Stadt Venlo or at the King Georg. These were not places you’d go to look for a constant stream of mindless tunes, but where you’d find real music, relevant conversations, and political discussion. Peter did everything at once in these contexts: he would pour beers, take care of everybody, watch the door, lecture on Marxism, and play with his mobile phone. He studied social sciences, did his research on organization, and started writing a dissertation; he worked at the university and at the Walter König publishing house, and then at the Academy of the Arts of World. He did everything at once, and at the same time, nothing was good enough for his often superhuman standards, which he mostly applied to himself. He would download gigabyte after gigabyte of research for his thesis, reaching volumes that nobody could ever possibly read, a task he tackled nonetheless. Peter had the most unbelievable presence in any space. You simply couldn’t get past him, literally. He would put himself out there, to the threshold of pain, and sometimes beyond. He wanted control and would sometimes lose it in a panic. Voilà, un homme.

Peter was outspoken about his opinions, and so we could get into real shouting matches, which never produced any real animosity; generally, Peter was one of the loyalest people I’ve ever met. When he died in the night of September 28 to 29th, the first 148 pages of his dissertation on the subject “Organizational Imperialism and Autonomy in Haiti” were still on my desktop, the result of his research in Haiti after the cataclysmic earthquake of 2010. The unfinished lives are the ones that continue to preoccupy us the most, but they also challenge us to pick up their threads. His wife and his many friends will give his little daughter an understanding of her unfinished father’s lasting presence. I will try my best to keep spinning the threads he took up, but I will wait in vain for his back talk. This silence will not end. Cologne will never ever be the same.