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uni'alumni 2015_ENG

Is there life after death? Sebastian 23 asks philosophical questions in his texts and in his new novel. Photo: Christoph Neumann PORTRAIT Alumni Network uni'alumni 2015 “I’m Living My Dream” The philosophy graduate and author Sebastian 23 tours Germany as a poetry slammer How’s it going?” Sebastian 23 asks his audience at each of his performances. He finds it important to communi- cate with his audience. It’s one of his trademarks: “I don’t perform just because I want to present my texts. I like the contact with the audience.” His texts are entertaining, funny, sometimes contemplative, and full of questions. Sebastian 23 performs throughout Germany as a successful poetry slam- mer, and he has also written several books. His second trademark is a brown cap: “At one point I decided to spare myself the effort of cutting my hair. Now, when I’m not wear- ing the cap nobody recognizes me anymore.” His stage name, his third trademark, has a similar origin: He was participating in a poetry slam with several other Sebastians and decided to identify himself by his age rather than his last name Rab- sahl. The name stuck. At a poetry slam, several authors get on stage and com- pete with each other. All kinds of texts are allowed. The audi- ence decides on the winner. “It’s quite a direct form of literature,” says Rabsahl. The 35-year-old went to a poetry slam for the first time in 2001, at Café Atlantik in Freiburg, when he was still studying philosophy, European ethnology, and early modern and modern history at the University of Freiburg. At first he only performed from time to time, later every month. Other participants invited him to perform in their towns. “So I slowly got sucked in.” The Wild and Crazy Life of a Performer Eventually Rabsahl was able to fill an entire evening with his texts. He also began holding poetry slam workshops. Fi- nally, in 2006 he had to make a decision: Should he concen- trate on his dissertation in philosophy and pursue a career at the university, or should he try to make it as a freelance writer? “I thought to myself: I can’t pass up this opportunity to live my dream.” He doesn’t regret it. He tours regularly, and he has just published a novel, Theorien und Taxis – Auswege aus der Philosophie (“Theories and Taxis – Ways Out of Philosophy”), about a taxi-driving philosophy gradu- ate. Rabsahl also runs an agency specialized in events like poetry slams and further training for teachers, and contin- ues to hold workshops. “I spend a lot more time in an office than I had hoped from a wild and crazy performer’s life,” he says with a wink, “but I earn my living with something I like doing.” Even as a child he liked dreaming up stories and wanted to become a writer. In addition, he has always had a lot of ques- tions swimming around in his head, which is what motivated him to study philosophy. This is also reflected in his texts. His current book deals with all manner of questions, from “What is luck?” to “What do philosophers find funny?” Rabsahl finds inspiration for new texts during his travels: “It’s easier to be creative when one doesn’t sit in one place staring at the same ingrain wallpaper all the time but goes out into the world and collects impressions.” All the same, he does like spending a lot of time at home in Bochum, especially with his wife and son. Katrin Albaum “ 16