»Comparing apples
and oranges is my
daily bread.«

Juli Gudehus

The interdisciplinary Pfingsttagung

The principle of the »Interdisziplinäre Pfingsttagung« (Interdisciplinary Whitsun Conference) is simple. You either give a talk on any subject you like, or a miniature workshop, a concert or any other performance. In return, you get to be part of a colourful bunch of about 20 to 40 exciting people, of various professions – all with their own topics and stories.

A filmmaker, an architect, a landscaper, an artist, a physician and a physicist started the Pfingsttagung in 1992. I have been taking part since 1994 and have been part of the organising team more than once. For me, this conference is very special, as I keep meeting unconventional and amazing people. Their talks enrich me every time.

The venue is traditionally in the countryside, and the three days offer lots of variety – from yoga before breakfeast, to the nocturnal camp fire after the end of the program. Those who took part once invite new participants, meaning that newcomers make up about 30 % of the group. 

Why Whitsun? The reason is a very worldly one: Monday is a public holiday in Germany, and in the course of time, the date turned out to be very apt. Whitsun is a celebration of coming together, and the conference encourages this through communication in different professional languages. Hence the various lingos, jargons, terminolgies, verbiages and nomenclatures.

The motto of the Pfingsttagung was taken from a book of the US-american science fiction author Robert Heinlein and goes: »A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.«

We have covered quite a lot over the years!