Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Begin again. Interesting that the German for the verb to begin is anfangen, the root of which belongs to the verg fangen - to catch, to ensnare, to capture. So starting something, to begin, is a word grounded in an entrapment, bound to an impending lack of freedom, a commitment perhaps to a course of action. A commitment indeed to a constant circle, this circle of beginning and ending, perhaps something akin to Nietzsche's eternal recurrance. I wonder if anfangen occurs there in those books? Ah, those books. Those books that I have become intelligent enough to quote and paraphrase but not intelligent enough to read.

Regardless, begin I will, flaky German etymology or not. There are incorrectable absences in the novel I am trying to write and they must be filled. In this book are absences of mind, of purpose and of talent. They are lacking in me and are therefore incorrectable. there is no correcting me. these things cannot be learnt. Once they are set, they are set. Motion has begun, an ensnarement is underway.

So today I sat in the café, somewhere west of here where the streets are quainter and the pavements are full of children and parents eating ice-cream and shuttling to and from the park with a freedom rarely seen in England. I sat in the café and tried to right the wrongs, to redeem the irredeemable. Impossible of course, but perhaps I can paper over the cracks? So, what is wrong?

There is no backstory to the main character. I know nothing about him. I don't even know if he is the main character. There are no parents, childhood, relationships; just an occupation, a reputation and an inquistion. Is this enough? Perhaps, in fact, this is right. Perhaps his transparency allows the other three narrators/storytellers to bleed through onto the page? Perhaps he is something of a apparition and I should be careful not to clothe him. Perhaps this detail of predetermination isn't helpful? Perhaps the battle is already lost?

A global or at least regional political perspective is also missing. Where one writes is never without narrative. What is it to write in a place, such as Berlin, where the recent history is so strong that many stories are subdued? How can it be taken seriously, this simple story of coincidence and fascination, against the backdrop of a crumbling wall? Surely those echoes can be heard, the floods of people across borders, the surrender of currencies, the collapse of industries. This is where it is set, but somehow I must regain that particular disengagement of youth. Somehow, I must begin again, attempt to write without knowing. There are histories but they are buried beneath themselves - faced with histories and grand narratives we begin again, we start from scratch stating wipe the the slate clean - let us forget all about it.

Finally, relationships with cities. I have not dealt with these and yet - yet! - these are the very thing I seek to write about. The constructs of a city, the everyday reality of a detachment from a place. The manufacture of a social environment through language, thought, disease, gentrification, commodity flows, lost religiosity, migratory birds. Is this not the 'point'? Was it not supposed to be a study of construction from memory? Two cities, remembered and described with mistakes. two characters assigned to those two cities, each rebuilding their city for the other, each transliterating every brick, street and building into a literary attachment. And is it not built deliberately on premises false, or if not false then unproven? These are surely foundations unstable...

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