Tuesday, 31 August 2010

This is the last post from Berlin 2010. Of course we were going to do something worthy today and visit some David Chipperfield architecture. It didn't happen, we sat in a local bar or two and took local photographs and stared out of the window like we always do. Don't worry it will come to something someday, just like our new book on Reno which will be available in a week or so in limited edition of 100 for a mere £20 (see either of us for details). It just took us five years to make.
The Old Fella's bar was particularly spectacular today. Spectacularly unspectacular. You sit in the dark with your beer and your korn and watch the world go by in the rare sunshine outside through the doorway. A man walks in and sits at the piano and begins to play extremely gentle music, as if a soundtrack to this lovely afternoon. It is blissful, as if time is standing still. This fucking well does not happen in Bethnal Green.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Fried potatoes

So I'm sitting in this vast kitchen cooking german fried potatoes- dill, mustard in the fry- damn good -and I'm so pleased I've got the Foo's on. I am clearly addicted to rock as much as anything else, and even this tinny mac makes me feel better, so much better I bought a very expensive Tivoli radio system over the internet to salve the soul when I get home just to listen to the Chelsea games. I guess that's like ordering your crack in advance as you speed back from Saudi Arabia.
What is it about rock? Well even though I'm really ready for tweeds (I'll be fully tweeded for the new academic year (NAY) - Berlin rather good for such stuff, I'd just love to throw all those philosophers I've been trying to understand for a month into the middle of a Foo's concert, get them pissed on big JD's on the rocks, and ROCK! Rock till you die, just like the crappy tee shirts say (look up the first post I ever made on this thing - the ACADACADEMICS! It embarrassing, but it's real. My brother (nearly sixty) is the same.
And there would be no rock n' roll without capitalism- cause and effect- so we should all be careful what we wish for.
luv to ya all.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Not much

Sunday. Morning, nothing happening. Good. Rain. Fished out a copy of Leni Riefenstahl's biography from mein host's shelves. Most interesting. Evening, cleared up, a walk to a very ordinary bar which we both agree is a delight. locals most pleasant, despite nursing fears for Hertha Berlin. Vietnamese take away, not sure what it was. Later, excellent documentary on racing driver Jochem Rindt in German, understood it somehow. They don't make 'em like that anymore.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Reading List

So we near the end of our outrageously long holiday. Time to inform you of just what can be done in such a period of time, given peace and quiet and a general disposition towards doing fuck all in a city devoted to calm, engaging in that absenteeism which is so unpopular with the bureaucrats perhaps precisely because it gives you time to think (and thinking unnerves them). So here comes the 'Paul Davies Radical August 2010 Reading List'.

1. Alain Badiou The Century (Tough)
2. Sajov Zizek Living At The End of Times (bits of- then I gave it away)
3. Robert Harris The Ghost (Fabulous- I'm in it)
4. Philip Roth The Human Stain (Fabulous in another way)
5. Richard Hornsey The Spiv and the Architect (Bonkers but still smart)
6. Freud for Beginners (Better read it again)
7. Alain Badiou The Communist Hypothesis (Excellent and readable 'Little Red Book')
8. John Le Carre A Most Wanted Man
9. Hans Fallada The Drinker (Bloody funny without being funny)
10. Harry Crews Body (Neat and tidy tragicomedy)
11. Stefan Aust The Baader Meinhof Complex (Exquisite in it's agony)

There you go. It's been a blast. If you read the sequence, it works, you can walk down the street with your head held high knowing just what a mess we're in without any answers at all- but knowledge is good for it's own sake, even if you fear it will float out of your brain just as fast as you've shoved it in. I will say one thing, the last one (No 11) is absolutely essential, but only as long as you've read the earlier stuff. I promise you will really learn something if you read at least 7 and 11.

Friday, 27 August 2010


There is nothing like a visit to the Zoo, our Berlin artist friends may poo poo the place, but it's the only place I can take Julie and enjoy her little exclamations of joy, like little hic-cups, at the sight of each new, perfectly manicured, species all afternoon (zoo animals have their own tv series here- they are stars- even when they shit). I also like it because in urban terms, it used to be the centre of West Berlin, and what better thing to put at the centre of any human enterprise to demonstrate our civilization or lack of it, but a zoo. Half the time you are looking at the animals, half the time you are looking at us, and we don't come off too well. I also like it if we get to visit the zoo in the rain, as today, so it's quiet and romantic.
I'm not being soppy, however at times like these, when we both have to acknowledge a certain sense of 'This is It' to both our lives, I mean a certain understanding of the distance already run, and the rather different situation ahead, when you get to a certain critical age, a meander round a zoo is very soothing.
And of course, the animals are no more in prison than we are, and we would love to see the Zebras run unbridled across the savannah, just as we would love to see ourselves do the equivalent. And strangely when you are in the zoo, and you see these wonderfully dignified creatures in very restricted circumstances, you can only realize that us humans are different, we have free will, we could organize things a bit better, we should use our brains.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Just been out and about riding around Berlin in a taxi or two with eyes peeled. Nonplussed, realize all the 'new' architecture is essentially the same. This brings on elements of anguish and comprehension. Fools! Of course it's all the same! Meanwhile when you are in the damn stuff, lets take the Berlinische Art Gallery for instance, within minutes I just want to scream. Don't get me wrong, there are some nice drawings and paintings in there and there are some fucking awful (contemporary) 'art pieces' in there too, crap videos, crap installations etc, but it's not that, it's the sheer oppressiveness of 'nice new modern gallery'. To my credit, a long long time ago, I got a few students drunk and demanded they graffiti the walls of a gallery in Brussels. The next morning I didn't feel the tiniest bit of remorse.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Being laid up on holiday is a good thing (by laid up I mean not charging around on some series of of recreational quests) You get to stare at the ceiling and ponder, and watch a lot of silly TV which becomes oddly informative. Yesterday's CNN business show was dominated by the question 'Do you still work when you are on holiday?' The representatives from business on show were almost united that they did, and they were proud of it too. Only one said, 'Well to be honest I hope I hire people of a high enough calibre to do without me for a while'. The others were universally paranoid that they could not leave their work alone for fear their precious companies disintegrate without them.
Why is this happening? Well it is clear that our form of capitalism certainly not only feeds on place but also time. It is also clear that it provides an every bigger array of distractions, some of which may even appear to be work, others entertainment, others just mental impairment. The Machine, physically and metaphorically propagates itself with great speed.
I read this morning that when Gericault painted the revolutionary painting 'The Raft of Medusa'. He cut off his hair and locked himself in his studio for seven months. This seems unlikely, even absurd, today but in 1819, in France, perhaps not.
Perhaps this is a context in which we might be able to understand 'the philosophers of terror' Badiou and Zizek. Situationally we are bemused within some kind of War on Terror, both of them appear to endorse terror historically (but not the same kind), and thirdly they are terrifying because they might be right.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

So my novel isn't going to win the fucking Nobel prize; I finally acknowledge 'there is a lot of work to do'; I suddenly despise the 'creative process'; I'm fed up with chasing my tail around in circles and I realize I don't know what I'm doing. So what do I? I do what most males (not discounting most females for all I know) do, I go on to the internet to look at some porn.
The German language service providers are very congenial. If I request one site, they pop up a list of others I might also like, in anticipation, and no matter the generally limited palate of the obvious activities, the range of interpretation is, of course, staggering. However, somewhat disturbingly it leads me to encountering five minutes of something called 'Freeze This Is A Big Butt Stick Up'. There is a hostage crisis on the television right now (I'm going to blame it on that) and I'm sure nobody there is thinking about sex in any way at all, but some genius in LA has dreamt this thing up, where the bank robber gets distracted by two shapely female bottoms, whose owners fiddle about with them for him for a bit under kinky duress, then his revolver finds unheard of and deeply disturbing use (I have never heard of anybody shooting themselves or indeed others up the arse but...) then loses concentration for the two bottoms to take their revenge by snatching the gun. I really didn't know what to make of it, except that 'degrading to women' didn't seem to be the half of it until we were delivered the prospect of fierce revenge (timer ran out- but did some research) and the hope that the gun wasn't loaded, or perhaps, if I could call up a precedent, if I could intellectually be able to summon up some critical facility for this extraordinary cultural product, I would say I had just watched five minutes of Benny Hill 'shot' by Pasolini.

Sunday, 22 August 2010


Nothing must happen on a Sunday, so I proceed with my edit. The problem with editors is that they change what you say, that is their purpose, and that's why I got sick of working for architectural magazines. That's why blogging is rather an improvement, you get to say what you want the way you want to say it.
My editor, who I am now editing back, has of course struggled mightily with my protestations in the novel, and it taketh much mirth and a slug of scotch at my side to guide the thing back from where he might be liking to take it. It is an interesting process! I suspect, not unlike architecture. The process either makes you want to give the task to somebody you know can do it better than you (like a good builder) or you get in a hissy fit over a cat flap. Luckily, I like my editor, and I shall plough onward within the vaguaries of the creative process.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Wondered this morning if I'd end up one of those people who are always 'editing their novel' - a dispiriting thought, however, I don't think that's going to happen and I write this blog to remind me that this is not going to happen. It's just now I have to do some work. Somewhat cheered by the experience of reading the damn thing and me doing some work and Julie posting off our book on 'Reno' we went out to lunch, to Savignyplatz, to Zweiblefishe, and I've got to tell you, that cat is as big as a beaver!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Girl Friday

It turns out that Friday is quite a treat in the Old Fella's Bar; the girl serving could have been a Helmut Newton model (or a model for Barbie, or any of such stereotype). She clomps around in her heals around the old fellas swishing her little skirt and her hair and you get to think: this is how all old peoples homes should be, it adds a sense of encouragement! She has the air of somebody who has said, 'well I never did so well at school, but then.....I grew these legs!' Mariachi music plays, the old men whistle along, she bounces about, I reach for my notebook. She probably has a phd.
Our friend Volker turns up, he's the backslapping type and we know nothing about him at all. He says to Julie (about me) 'better a crazy fool than a lumpard!' gesturing angrily to the outside world. 'I can see you like it in here ~I can smell it' he says, then 'everything is music, even squirrels running up the tree!' and spreads his arms wide (minus one finger from a wood chopping incident) in appreciation of an all too feasible beautiful world. Now Volker has lots of views on how to succeed in life, rather at odds with our just sitting in a bar. He demonstrates his new plan to mass market russian transponders that permanently track the whereabouts of your car.

Thursday, 19 August 2010


I met an amazing guy this evening, not quite by appointment, not quite by accident, but almost, as it feels now, by necessity. It's not hard to imagine what a 55yr old man in Berlin might have experienced in his life in this country, and it is very rarely exposed to somebody like me, or us - only in books and in daft melodramatic films (which of course I have enjoyed all my life) and always only in abstract (with distance) and in documentaries of course (distance?) - in documentaries there is still distance. This was rather different- no distance. People cry inside, and you can see them crying. I hope you understand what I mean. I mean, how do we account for what our parents have done when their son tells us so? How do we know anything about what we are capable of........without an idea that takes us beyond the animals?


Having just read a variety of books, some 'trashy', some theoretical, which all say the same thing; that is, in their various ways, they all say we are in the shit, and then turned on the TV to find Prof David Harvey saying also 'we're in the shit' on something called 'Hardtalk'. I can only deduce we are in the shit. The shit we are in revolves much around our passion for so called libertarian capitalism. This basically maintains your right to shop at Primark and get offended at just about anything, and assumes you see the benevolent nature of the 'War on Terror'- or makes sure you do if you don't.
Obviously for a poor sod like me this means I may not get away with a sentence such as:
'Young german women walk by with that stereotypical strut of a horse in dressage. Their ponytails swing, their limbs are taught. But it is also a certain sexual arrogance that promises the equivalent of Michael Ballack on the football pitch, it no doubt prefigures considerable and painful disappointment for all parties when the game is over'.

I'm editing my novel. I have to worry.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Thought I'd try Freud this morning, but The Interpretation of Dreams (a hulk of ancient polemic) proved too much. I've got my unconscious sorted with the girl and the kitten. So I wandered down to the old fellas bar on Wilmersdorfer Str, we call it that, it's actually called 'Wilhelm Hoeck Est 1892' where you sit in the dark rustic bar with the other old fellas sillouetted against the doorway in the dark and don't do very much at all, all that glimmers is the yellow of each glass of beer, shimmering in the darkness across the landscape of wooden tables. You sit still, you watch and wonder. Everything is calm and correct. Sitting still in a bar is of course is my ideal way of being. Hours will pass, 50's country and sixties pop will play on the old juke box, you will sometime or other 'well up' to 'Those Were The Days..My Friend' and so on. 'Maybe it was always my ambition to be one of those old fellas in a bar' I think to myself.
'Well you've just become one of those old fellas in a bar!' says Julie when she arrives, by way of congratulation.
There are worse things to be.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Fortune Favours the Brave

The hunt for german girl figurines with cats intensified as we returned to the place where we saw the damn thing in the first place- a year ago. The shopkeeper only speaks German and Russian and I suspect sells very little if you see what I mean. I mean, it seems to be a shop but not a shop, but to a degree way beyond bars with no customers which appear thankfully to thrive over here. So in encounters of this type, drawings of girl and cat were made, and phrase books were consulted, the light of recognition shone, and backroom searches began, and, low and behold, we have this fabulous figure right infront of us NOW on this desk. She's a real 'Ukraine girl gonner knock you out' with a kitten dancing on her pelvis, a very particular bit of her pelvis, and she is as far as I'm concerned unique (no 25). She is the remarkable conjugation of many signifiers of the sixties, and confirms that it was possible to have fun in the USSR.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

So I've sat in all the designer chairs. I've listened to the rain fall. I've read all about Chairman Mao. Maybe I should start writing fucking poetry. Here in Charlottenburg on a Sunday you'd better get used to the desire to chew your own legs off. No, look, it's lovely, we go to the street market and I realize I've developed an unhealthy interest in the qualities of german porcelain which is weird because german porcelain is by enlarge the ugliest, most vulgar stuff you can possibly imagine. However I realize that in order to have 'good taste you have to have bad taste' and so I pursue my dream of finding an adolescent female figurine rolling around playing with a pussy cat. Nothing doing. But that's OK, there's a bar round the corner at Tiergarten which as far as we're concerned, has never had anybody else in it while we've been in it, which is in itself mind bogglingly tremendous, and it's one of my favourites in the world (and where my blog picture was taken- see right). Sullen adolescent female takes our order for beer and korn and I draw diagrams on beermats of Marx's theory of value. Christ I must be good company. Julie talks me through her purchase of an early C20th cigarette tin. Love Is.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Times Like These

Without music for ten days (excepting noodling techno/Cure stuff in the baby bar back in motherworld) and when our latest hostess explained 'Of course the cd player doesn't work', I take it on the chin, I say, well, they must be crazy but I still like 'em, and there's all these designer chairs to sit in. Our methods of music appraisal are obviously hopelessly outdated, out of touch, like we like 'big high quality speakers with an amp you can discuss over dinner'. Things are so quiet here I'm sure we wouldn't last a week for complaints.
However, comes a time. I was preparing dinner and the bloody football transmission via the internet disappears (however, Chelsea are one up). I think, well, tiny sound is better than nothing, and I slot the Foos into the Macbook. You know you love rock n roll when you are loving the Foos on a thing like this.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Mies Chairs

So...after ten days in isolation from 'the media' (apart from books) we got to relax in front of CNN in our new rather snazzy quarters in Charlottenburg. Boggle eyed, we reclined in designer chairs, we heard of drastic wheat failure in Russia, floods in Pakistan (no wheat there either) and mud slides in China, Man Utd's latest transfer signing etc etc and well, I have to say the situation wasn't looking good, but at least the chairs were slightly more comfortable than last year even given the designer tag (usually 'totally uncomfortable').
At which point, today I retire for lunch over the Mies dining suite. Now there's a problem here, Mies dining chairs have the propensity to involuntarily throw you right into the plate of food in front of you. They also trip you up when you dare to do anything else other but sit in them cantilevered over your sausage; ie you cannot sit sideways or anything like that. You can hardly admire your neighbour even. As a big fan of Mies, I'm pleased he stuck to buildings you couldn't inhabit at all.
Even more wonderful, I'm not sure these dining chairs are exactly the real deal. They do not look EXACTLY like the picture above. This is either down to Google images or Knoll, or some other fellas (somewhere else) 'knocking them out'.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Woke up this morning..

Woke up this morning to the sound of gunfire and explosion, to the rumble of machinery, to the screaming of the old and the young, the women and the men, the young and the elderly, to the smell of cordite and smoke and rape and death, to a vision of bodies strung up on lamp-posts for desertion, a land of total ruin, a metaphysical landscape of total inhumanity, and I was lying in one of the rooms where it could all have happened.
It's a surprise I hadn't really registered this thought before, I mean I'm sure this was one of the sectors where the Russians penetrated in the horrific fighting of April 1945. And like many I am fixated by the cataclysm that was WW2. I have a considerable library on the subject, and find myself continually glued to the National Geographic Channel when I can (obviously not here- see below). I had it in the back of my mind.
But Julie discovered a long list of civilian dead for just that month of April 1945 in a local 'park' yesterday (I mean, an empty lot next door with trees in it - not the English understanding of a park at all) which was of course a small cemetery until the previous dead were lifted up once again by allied high explosive, and of course my register shifted. Only a few of the heaviest stones remained of course, that's gravity for you.
So I got up and felt sick and above all old; fat and old. And I got myself a beer from the fridge, and I thought about it.
Later we went out to that memorial, innocuous of course, mooched around, paid near 10Euro for the smallest piece of sushi in the world and two halves of beer, watched once more in wonder the parambulations of the latest inheritors of this landscape, who of course only scream out of innocence rather than utter despair, and looked at it, and went, well, my god, even the winos in the park are playing techno on their laptops!
'Laptops are cheap these days' said Julie
'But they're fucking Macs!' I said
Winos with Macs.
This, friends, is a different landscape, an altogether different landscape from the world I understand back in London. Here even the wino's have Macs. It made me think somewhere along the line, the UK has really fucked up. We have more disparity in England than ever before, and it is a conspiracy that favours of the rich.
Notwithstanding of course the utter subjectivity of these observations (only one wino had a Mac, the others had bongos) there is much to consider.
We are away tonight to the other side of town, slightly less weird and certainly more balanced than this one, but it's been, well, quite a trip.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Digging a Hole

Reading is like digging a hole, and some books get you in deeper than others. The Philip Roth book I've just finished had me up to my neck, up to my fucking neck. The problem with the hole is you have to dig yourself out of it, and when I finished that book today, I just sat in silence for a while nursing a thick drink. Notwithstanding what I've said earlier, for there are many kinds of holes, even tracks, that mark your reading progress through this world, 'The Human Stain' has the sense of epic about it, or perhaps our disquieting lack of epic quality reflected back at us, and it is tremendous. It features a professor of classics caught in the morass of contemporary 'rules' which pretty much might be summed up as 'the classics are too difficult these days'.
It's so good I'm out of the house back in this bar listening to Cure records and watching the unceasing passage of mums, soon to be mums, buggies and babies once again for light relief. Apparently this place, this spot, has the highest percentage birthrate in Germany

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Architectural Bookshops

What is it about architectural bookshops that is so stifling? Is it the lack of air conditioning? The anally retentive staff? Your fellow browsers, (who of course, in the circumstances, you take immediate sexual interest in out of sheer perversity). Is it the silence in which these people so dutifully browse? Is it the fact that all architects look the same? Is it the confrontation the so called great and the good (so often these days quickly manufactured before doing anything at all) The remarkable singularity and dogma of the architectural publishing world itself? Is it because you are so BORED, Is it the all pervading conservatism masked as radical thought? Yes thats it. I always go, I always hate it.

Monday, 9 August 2010


Reading Philip Roth's 'The Human Stain'. It is obviously a very good book; it is positively an avalanche of words conjugated in very fine ways. My problem is I just finished a comparatively shlock thriller which I could hardly put down which was put together all the more simply, and well, I thought it was just better. That book was Robert Harris's The Ghost. In The Ghost, Harris also says just about everything I've picked up in all that heavy theoretical stuff that I've also been trying to read by people like Zizek and Badiou, but he's saying it in a very different way. This enigma is further complicated by the fact that Zizek in particular spends most of his time deconstructing popular narratives such as Kung Fu Panda and Enigma (Harris's first major success) and making statements like 'I feel it imperative to swear in public, but never in private'. In this sense Zizek is as much a media parody as the fictional ex- Prime Minister in the Harris book. I'm not sure Harris would admit to reading Zizek, but what if he did- what kind of circle would that make?
An added intrigue is that Ewan McGreggor plays me in the film version of The Ghost. It's my flat and my whisky glass he sips from, and when I read the book, he even uses the same pen as me.
Another is that sat across from me in this quite trendy bar at five in the afternoon in Berlin (for once there are no mothers with buggies) there are two cunts from Clapman or therabouts talking about wife-swapping in Russia in accents reminiscent of Martin Fucking Amis.
'She was from Moldavia (sic)- she had fucking enormous tits!'
One of them is called Rupert.
They sell crap to Russian supermarkets, they clearly enjoyed public school, they wouldn't even get Harris if they read him because it's not in their personal interests to do so, so it's back to THEIR human stain, and possibly me swearing in public if they fuck me off for much longer.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Special Occaisions

We approach the hour when nothing happens in Berlin; Sunday. Of course I relish such an opportunity. Precious little happens here most of the time as a consequence of historical trauma, leaving ample time for observation and whatever, however we have been caught up in a certain crisis called 'Julie's Birthday' which is why we are here in the first place rather than in St Albans going frantically mad with her four sisters and about a million kids which we know, as opposed to those we simply 'observe', here in the 'Motherland'.
There are lessons to be learnt in dealing with 'special occasions', occasions I dread of course.
The first is to try and NOT to do anything special. We got caught in the most fabulous rain storm yesterday, and that was special enough for me, water pouring over the canopy of the bar, bouncing off the roofs of cars, all that sort of thing. It was incredibly romantic, and bathed away Julie's birthday anxieties perfectly, but it came from 'trusting to luck' and 'not doing anything in particular' as a mode of operation. The thing is, when there are five sisters, the normative communication on birthdays is 'What are you going to do? (that's special!)' under that rubric (that of the spectacular- the commodification of feeling) and in that zone it's almost impossible for anything special to actually happen (unless you are in Las Vegas, where you embrace that experience as curiously authentic) you just chase around getting unhappy. Instead we get drenched in the rain and found a fabulous restaurant and much more on what would be no more than a ramble around three blocks enjoying various curiosities by accident or trust to luck. This could be a lesson from the surrealists but it remains a hard one to learn.
If I remember rightly, read 'Mad Love' by Andre Breton to cultivate such sentiments.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Some kind of utopia..

I appear to have landed in some kind of spooky futuristic feminist utopia. You look out along the street and all you see is happy women and happy babies and every second shop is a kindergarten. You sit in a trendy bar (they are all trendy bars) and in flock ladies with articulated buggies to allow their babies to gawp at projections of fish floating across the big screen. There are NO teenagers, it appears they have been banished (there shall be no awkward interruption of maternity!) and what remains of dissolute manhood sits around in huddles in the park nursing their bottles of beer and wondering, no doubt, 'where did it all go wrong?' and 'shall we have another game of (municipally provided) ping pong?'. This place is called something like Prince-lawuer-berg but I'm not sure, just call it 'motherworld', and it is very strange indeed. Also, the ladies all seem to scowl at me.
In the apartment analysis appears to confirm the situation. Our host, for instance, seems to have taken a dedicated stance against Thomas Edison. It appears she has a phobia with electricity. We could start with the lights, but we must quickly move on to electrical equipment in general, in that it appears to exist but certainly doesn't work in any conventional way. The CD player spat out the Foo Fighters after one verse and presumably only responds to Suzanne Vega, the tv is dedicated to the Wombles, the dishwasher is suddenly 'me'. Meanwhile, the decor, elegantly drawn as it is, is elegantly drawn tits, arse and cunt in multiplicity without the least hint of pornographic interest. I feel I have been finally committed to 're-education'.
By nature I'm not much one for theories of the 'sexualization of space' but I'm sure in one now. Luckily I'm reading an excellent book, 'The Spiv and the Architect' (Hornsey) a reading of 'queer roles in the spacial practice of London's post war years' (for balance) which is fabulously homosexual, and therefore, I may be undertaking some kind of life changing therapy.
Meanwhile materialist analysis tells me, 'when the wall came down the students came to live here because it was cheap, the locals evacuated somewhere else because for them it wasn't anymore, and now all the students are breeding, and tomorrow it really is Notting Hill'. But students tend to be pretty crap at materialist analysis just at the time they should be bathing in it.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Cats and Dogs

So times like these, to fully enjoy them, require considerable inactivity. There's a lot to think about if you give yourself hours of inactivity and so I sat on the sofa staring at a wall of drawings, some by the kids of the apartment at the bottom of the wall, others by the mum rising to the top of it.
Firstly, in strictly critical terms, the drawings by the kids were better than those of mum. Mum's looked better, very stylish fluid line drawings, but the kid's had something else going on; they were discovering things and it was good to think about what and how they were discovering things.
There was a fabulous kid's drawing of a cat, it started as a 'cat', but the barbaric nature of the child's imagination soon took it into 'tiger' with the ferocious scribbling of orange and black 'stripes'. I thought this drawing was utterly fantastic, it had everything of cat and tiger AT THE SAME TIME (same set!) and probably the kid didn't even care!
Weirdly, as far as I have seen anyway, there are NO CATS in Berlin. Berlin is a DOG CITY. Dogs (hounds) trot around like they own the bloody place with their curly tails in the air, they even go along to shop in the supermarkets. Our friend has a big white wolf of a thing, very stylish indeed, and as soon as it saw us in it's customary second home, it threw up on the parquet as if in disgust. Hence, the kid was really using his or her imagination.
But the only time I've ever seen a cat here is in my favorite bar in Savignyplatz, and so as far as I'm concerned, that's the only cat here (my friend agrees). That made me think, maybe because I like cats and especially pub cats, that this may contribute to me loving that bar so much. I also wonder whether the sound of the german language is better associated with dogs than cats, and a cat language would have to be...Italian. There is indeed much to ponder on.
Then I read Zizek deconstructing 'Kung Fu Panda' and thought, well I'm not as good as him, and then, then, the problem with Zizek is, he just does too much.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Back in the DDR

Escape to Berlin, that's us, where the girls waft by on their bicycles with their bones and their breasts and their blond hair and their babies (some carried in strange carts sleeping in safety belts) as if on a kind existential autopilot. Our hosts said of this particular bit of Berlin 'You'll love it, It's just like Notting Hill' Well as you no doubt well understand I hate fucking Notting Hill, but thats long distant friends for you, they are unlikely to get your preferences quite right. But, hell, here we are in a land necessarily historically tranquilized for our own beneficial period of tranquilization, and I'm in some bar where they play that anonymous dreaming tranquilizer music and the beer is good and there's virtually nobody here which makes it a lot better than Notting Hill. If my friends had said,'It's like Notting Hill but with nobody in it', I'd have been fine.
But when we arrived last night we were of course a little befuddled. There was no tv in the living room for instance. German ways may be hard to absorb, and we are clearly in a flat vacated by a mum and her young twins (tv sits on the floor elsewhere). Therefore, in search of televisual entertainments, I was faced by the complete set of The Wombles to be viewed from the bed (on video!- and no ice making facilities!- door falls off ice making bit of fridge). Still, we are now happily settling in (and truly grateful if mum is reading this!) and should be right as rain in a month.
I once visited Womble creator Mike Batt's country pile. Never let it be said that creating the Wombles couldn't have a huge effect on the material aspects of life. I was there at a wedding, and there was much Womble memorabilia in evidence. My friend said 'I'm not leaving without a Womble stuffed up my arse'. Those were the days.