Sunday, 22 June 2008

A late morning on Saturday, eating a breakfast of kartoffelnbrot and jam before heading out into the day. Maps cover the spaces around Cara and I as we attempt to plot a route north beyond Mitte and into the suburbs that we have visited only once. Prenzlauerberg, that site of gentrification, flea markets and designer parenthood.

Last night we visited Neuk├Âlln for the third day in row – this appears to be the fashionable place at the moment for temporary galleries and the like. Radio Aporee were hosting an evening entitled Flickering Wastelands; a continuous transition of contact-microphoned wooden instruments, loop and delay boxes, spoken travelogues and abstract filmmaking from various figures. A good friend of ours here showed his solstice-based work, vast photojournals of intimidating landscapes – the canyons of Colorado, the whiteouts of northern Iceland – over intimidating string arrangements and fractured sonorous derivations.

Previously, Cara and I rode quickly over to the west of the city to find artist materials for her, and English newspapers for me. Ending up in KaDeWe, the largest department store in Europe, was dangerous and we were unable to avoid gawping at the expensive cheeses and four and a half thousand euro bottles of wine. On the return journey, and at high speed, Cara made friends with a bollard, and so now sits on the sofa with her foot surrounded in ice and propped on cushions. The moment of impact was nightmarish, the unmistakable sound of a collision was followed by Cara on the pavement surrounded by not only people but also a pack of wild dogs who, so perturbed by the sight and sound of her wailing, decided to start attacking one another. The journey home was slow, but we are hoping that her injuries are just swelling and sprains and that nothing is broken.

Reading and writing continues its slow, unmeasurable progress. Annotating Badiou yesterday morning I found several beacons that shone throughout my day, beacons whose light made consequences of otherwise forgettable encounters. The general argument that the last century contains a poetics of the uncrossable threshold – that it is both the crossing and the approach to the crossing – seems to fit into thoughts I often express regarding the plunging of art, literature and music into some kind of morass, a morass of impasse in which art’s only aim is to express a relationship, to codify an impossibility which it cannot overcome. In this way, art’s final act is to explore itself, to attempt to extrapolate what is artistic about its own process and, inevitably, descend into this pit of post-modernism that so many find themselves in. This era, characterised by the sense of waiting, has produced some of the finest art there is, and some of the worst.

Of course, this is old news. Blanchot realised this decades ago, and it is clear that this act, this chapter, was not the final one. In fact, it appears to be a foreword, a playing out of established arguments and a statement of intent that appears to exhaust all avenues with the sole purpose of disproving its audience through the logic of its own innovation. We enter a new era opened up to the revolutions of web 3.0, the paradigms of climate shift, the aftershocks of mass diaspora, the rise of global religious tension and the moral implications of genetic knowledge.

All of this seems unwieldy here, of course, penned in my own hand. Reading the weekly round-up of news, it is hard to grasp how quickly things change, how much there is to be known about the world and its politics. Here in Berlin, Cara tells me, history is everywhere. Each street and brick betrays a recent, fascinating narrative that with the right guide, can be uncovered and reconstructed into a narrative of one’s own choosing.