D.: Herr Professor Salber, Cologne got a better reputation with Salber, but you are somewhat controversial. You have fans and you have foes. What is the crux of what you do?
S.: That probably has to do with the fact that I view the mind as a kind of artwork, and this artwork always relates to sensual and material aspects. It develops in works and wants to undergo kind of transformation at all costs. People have problems with this.
D.: You have created new categories in psychology. You yourself call it an uncomfortable, different kind of psychology. What is different about it?
S.: What is different is that we always assume what we can truly describe when we investigate a matter. Only then do we make a statement. This deviates from that which one relates oneself, only rationally, of when one only thinks about the matter logically.
D.: Your thoroughness and the intention of seeing connections during the lecture require patience.
S.: Yes, you could certainly say that. I would go even further. Right now we live in a culture which can be termed a “culture of disengagement.” Due to a desire for transformation and fear of the transformation we always want to jump from one thing to another, so that nothing can hold us captive and so that nothing can hurt us. Patience – that basically means carrying out something to the end. There are always things that we have to do a lot to achieve. I believe that this idea of carrying out something to the end, that people don’t learn this any more, and so they don’t get at many aspects of reality.
D.: You talk a lot about production contexts. That sounds like very modern psychology, sounds trendy, so to speak. What do you mean by that in your field?
S: I studied Latin and Greek, so I know what producere means.
It means: carry something out, bring something into development. Production does not mean that we do something with machines, but with our minds…I can formulate that in Kölsch, the dialect of Cologne: Is ständig am Gestalten, am Kramen un am Umkramen.
D.: Everything that is observed has to be put in a system. That’s how science works. Everything seeks transformation – but how do you create a plausible overview, a principle?
S.: Yes, astonishingly, we find this plausible overview already prepared in fairytales. Grimm’s fairytales show approximately three dozen transformation possibilities. That is a system which is not logical and rational, not definitory – but which is lively.
D. You talk about everyday culture. About how one “hangs together with oneself” when getting up in the morning, having breakfast, driving, playing, talking on the phone...
S: Yes – people have to cultivate themselves in order to cope with the diverse possibilities they have and with impediments to people in the world. In every life there is something like an image of the culture we have to cope with. If you water down this image, your life will become torn, embarrassing, tense.
D.: You are 75 years old. There are people who are born for retirement – but you will probably never be one of them. Viewing life as a possibility of cultivation seems to me to be something positive. Bringing culture to things that peeve us all. How did you get into this?
S.: That is something that simply developed. I completed my doctorate over 50 years ago, and since then I have deal uninterruptedly with this nice mental game. To my mind, it’s an endless game. These fairytales continue to come out – and that’s fun for me. They’re older than I am!