Hiking guide around the white zone

“The white zone”

Attempt to define the white zone

“The most remarkable thing about a hole is the edge. It still belongs to something, but looks always into nothingness, a border guard of matter.” Kurt Tucholsky, from his essay “On the Sociological Psychology of Holes”

In reality we cannot define this white zone because it defies an ultimate definition. In the final analysis, it seems that nothingness cannot be comprehended by the human mind.

Zones are separate areas that each have their own quality. As their boundaries cannot be easily fixed, such areas – especially when they are danger zones – are usually closed off; in other words – they are restricted.

The white zone is thus an area that has been allocated the color white. White signs have been erected all over to ensure that nobody accidentally enters the white zone. The color white represents innocence, virginity, the unknown, the spiritual; the areas marked in white on our maps are the areas we don’t know. White can also be used to reflect the final questions about the meaning of life, birth and death. Everything points into this direction as the white (“weisse”) zone is spelt in German with a double “s” rather than with the usual “ß”. This spelling in German is incorrect, but could deliberately point to “wissen” (to know). Socrates understood the meaning of the white zone when he said: “I know that I know nothing”.

Are we thus referring to an area that answers our final questions? Even the great world religions can’t do this, and they are often used as a pretext for military interventions. In this regard is it not strange that the German army chose the white zone as a place to release their bombs – perhaps in the erroneous belief that this would eliminate all existential questions. We have thus arrived at the core, at the target. The white zone is probably not an area that provides answers but rather one that asks questions.

Even science deals with this phenomenon on a daily basis: The more we seem to know, the bigger the white zone. A scientific achievement immediately gives rise to more questions. The quest for answers to these questions is put into motion until these questions have been answered by a new achievement, which in turn gives rise to more questions. If we look at this objectively, this is a basic characteristic of the white zone which we can learn to deal with. The question of course then arises whether our basic assumptions we have made over centuries regarding the human character still hold. Two poles can stimulate or repel each other: on the one hand our human inquisitiveness, the quest for knowledge, and on the other the desire to feel safe and secure.

If we follow our desire to feel safe, our freedom is inhibited and may lead to overregulation. It can also lead to religious beliefs and ideologies, to beliefs that serve to anchor ourselves and provide us with stability. Luckily, we also have a sense of curiosity, the urge to question everything, to dissect and reassemble. We thus constantly move between these two poles. This may explain why we feel restless when we don’t understand or can’t control things

The white zone offers a unique opportunity to turn our assumptions on their head. Humans need crisis, this is the elixir of life. Without problems our lives might be boring. Naturally there is the desire to overcome the crisis, however only with the aim of producing a new crisis. Crises only develop when we either ask the right questions or change our conditions of life to such an extent where the old thought patterns no longer serve a purpose.

Magical moment the white, dangerously amplified by the chirping of the cicadas releases the hot desire for the space of music rising in the spirit.

White zone premonition is the torch of the soul into the mystery. nose of the heart, that forges into the whiteness of the zone. yesterday – is the wilted, the feeling and the tomb of knowledge. nothing – interrupts the rhythm of the breath and yesterday turns to tomorrow becomes today – is walking along white signs around nothingness

At the edge of the zone, he sat down at the edge of the zone. it was an ocean of silence, of a white silence. in the dazzling white without boundaries his imagination escaped and walked on a soundless carpet of dove feathers. he saw, without any doubt, how the clock, locked in its case, looked at him. such pure and large wound did his escaped phantasy leave behind in the white without boundaries! in the gleaming white without boundaries

Extract of the hiking guide around nothingness:
“In seven days around nothingness”

Generally a guided walk aims to explain, to visitors in particular, the particularities and characteristics of a region, i.e. to lead them safely through the dangers. The white zone is located about 100 kilometers north of Berlin between the towns of Neuruppin and Wittstock, not far from the autobahn between Berlin and Hamburg. A total area of about 140 square kilometers was removed from the map and may no longer be accessed by people. Why this is the case and why it is so exciting to walk around the white zone is best experienced on a guided walk. The white zone is unique in the world. It is an area that has been removed from the map and which therefore lies beyond our horizon. We cannot enter it since there is nothingness, but we can walk around it, around the nothingness. To spend some time at the edge of nothingness is dangerous. We therefore recommend that you make use of our experienced zone guides. The guided tours aim at introducing you to the secrets of the white zone. Meeting with the white zone can provide you with a wonderful opportunity to examine your inner and outer maps, to question them and to bring them into alignment. To book a guided walk you have several options: You can be guided around the white zone in seven days. We organize everything for you, from accommodation to meals to the sequence of events. You tell us what you want and we will accommodate you. You can choose to stay overnight in a tent or in a pension, to eat slowfood or fastfood, live on organic or survival meals. Each module that you book can be tailored individually for each group

Nobody knows what will happen

You cannot enter the white zone. Nobody knows what will happen if you enter nothingness. However, you can walk around the white zone in seven stages by following the road signs. However, you can take up tourist offerings at the edge of the zone. Walking around nothingness is dangerous. Sometimes you won’t know whether you are outside or inside. What is particularly dangerous are the parallel realities that pop up unexpectedly. If you are walking in a group, you should get together if this happens and agree on a particular reality otherwise the group will disappear into different realities and you risk losing each other forever! You could also book a research stay at the institute for white zone research and prepare yourself there for nothingness. The institute is located at the edge of the zone and houses, amongst other things, a library that focuses on nothingness. There you will also find a copy of “Zur soziologischen Psychologie der Lőcher” [the sociological psychology of holes] by Kurt Tucholsky. The reason for this construction of reality was the political disagreement about the largest restricted military area in Germany. After reunification in 1990, and when the Russians withdrew from the area in 1993, the Federal Republic wanted to use this area as a bombing range within the framework of NATO, but the local population objected to the so-called “bombodrome” by initiating the “Freie Heide” movement. I asked myself whether it would be possible to simply remove such a large area from the human infrastructure.

iwf – Winstitute for white zone research

This is the first institute that explores nothingness, creates nothingness and interrogates nothingness. Its goal is to make the white zone grow. It provides a museum, an archive, a library and residencies for all who are searching for a quiet place to discover nothingness. The task of the Institute for white zone research is a particular method of crisis management. Crises harbor an enormous potential for creativity, that could drive the development of new vistas in surprising ways. While others try to avoid crises, we believe that our task is to trace crises and to thematize them. The white zone research centre The farm that is located on the edge of the zone in Zempow and which belongs to the Umland Verein (Environment Association) can be developed into a permanent home for the white zone research. In addition to a library with white zone literature, the white zone museum with examples of objects found at the edge of the zone, an information desk for advice for zone hikers, accommodation, laboratories for zone researchers and seminar rooms for students, the white zone research also provides an experimental area of about two hectares that can be used for studying botany at the zone edge. The white zone research centre can thus be used as a place where ideas can be exchanged, where networking can take place and borders between the traditional categories such as art, science, religion, philosophy and economy can be explored. The objective is also to develop crisis models that are socially sustainable and that focus on the meaning of the white zone. In this way all social areas can be tested to see whether they are applicable to the white zone. This is particularly applicable to the economy, education, social sciences, law and religion. This can only be achieved if the residents living at the edge of the white zone and their experiences are integrated into the development of new models. Only in this way networks can develop that enable a true connection between research and experience.

iwf – place for information, networking, participation and development processes

The concept of the iwf offers an extensive framework which allows many different actors to actively participate. An amoebic type of structure is envisaged that embraces social sculpture in order to tackle sudden new ideas and crises.

Zone archives and zone museum

The white zone archive collects and catalogues artefacts found at the edge of the zone, white zone literature and film, white zone art and the results of white zone research. The white zone museum constantly organizes exhibitions and events regarding the white zone

iwf concept (incomplete)

White zone research is per se a crisis. The questions of the white zone destabilize us – and that is perhaps the primary goal of white zone research. The zone office administers the iwf and coordinates planned events, seminars, and educational programs.

Bivouac laboratories at the zone edge

Since September 2006, there are hiking guides around the white zone. One can hike around nothingness in nine stages. The personal experiences at the edge of the zone can be supplemented by the guide via philosophical talks, poems and interviews with residents living at the edge of the zone. While searching for a suitable form for the processes of the zone research the iwf developed nine mobile white zone laboratories. These can be accommodated in discarded construction trailers and caravans. Each laboratory contains a space where two people can sleep, a simple cooking area with the most basic foodstuffs, a small zone library, various tools for zone researchers, and a small fireplace. The laboratories can be used overnight by the zone hikers, or by zone researchers who wish to carry out their research without any interruption directly at the zone edge, as well as by asylum seekers who can count on receiving accommodation and the support of the iwf.

Residency program

In addition to the nine zone laboratories at the zone edge there are two central laboratories with residential units in the institute for white zone research. Focus points of the university are courses in reality construction, applied art, consensus training as well as the training of zone guides around the white zone. The basic course includes training in climbing and how to form rope teams.

Zone archives and zone museum

The white zone archive collects and catalogues artefacts found at the edge of the zone, white zone literature and film, white zone art and the results of white zone research. The white zone museum constantly organizes exhibitions and events regarding the white zone.

College for applied zone research

The university trains students in white zone research. The training takes place in seminars that are limited to two weeks. In the long term we are aiming at the creation of a unique university with courses lasting three to five years and a recognized qualification in white zone research. Focus points of the university are courses in reality construction, applied art, consensus training as well as the training of zone guides around the white zone. The basic course includes training in climbing and how to form rope teams.

White zone citizen forum

The citizen forum accompanies and complements the networking process and interpersonal relations. Meetings are organized on a regular basis by the zone office and are open to everyone. They serve as an opportunity to exchange information and to develop joint projects for the development around the zone edge.

white zone community fetes and communal weekend hikes around nothingness

It is very important to celebrate and party together in order to develop a sense of community and to identify with the white zone. Also, the hiking weekends serve to promote regional tourism.

White zone
the first area that no longer exists, 145 km2 cut from all maps. You can’t go in there because there’s nothing there…,

Michael Kurzwelly, 2005