online: 6 october 2009
modified: 1-6 october 2009

1 october 2009 city waterfall and bookbarter

in east Berlin the midst of adapting to the surprises of a foreign city i am confronted by an artificial waterfall... in a hilly park of trees and broad tarmac paths... suitable for vehicles but used only by walkers... some young and reading books... such was sitting near the foot of tall gushing falls amid huge (transported?) rocks on a steep slope (perhaps the height of 15-20 people, or 40 to 50 metres)... surely a result of the movement of public thought and action of 200 years ago... that we now call German Romanticism...

...curious to see where this plentiful flow of water came from i found that it emerges from an artificial-looking cave near to the peak of the hill where there is no rain-catching valley but perhaps hidden pumps beneath a cluster of tall gothic pinnacles celebrating Leipzig and other German cities... each city is dated 1813 in golden lettering... (just after Napoleonic defeat in Russia in 1812)... what event does this celebrate, what victories, what politics, what inspired so great an effort of collective culture-forming action?...

...and from that monument (to military or religious or nationalistic art and reality) i plunged into a sombre, modest (and not so super) market in which both customers and employees seemed trapped (as we all are in this culture?) in a deadly and spiritless machine process which encases our lives without hope in never-ending functional duty to benefit no one but some abstract presences such as the state, the economy, or security (for the many) or success (for the few)... back in the uk with pleasant memories of being welcomed and well treated in East Berlin... remembering not only the city waterfall of victorious romanticism (in Viktoria Park) but the modest and easy way of living of a new generation of American writers and artists who i imagine come here to avoid (some of) the materialism of the west... and with whom i feel at home, yes i do...

...and in the persons of Helen DeWitt (who rescued i+e from remaindering), Paul Thomas (who invented this alternative to bookselling and who's web name is TARARTRAT) and Cory Andreen with Kerstin Winkelbauer in their Cafe CK*... which is now turned into a temporary bookshop or tradeshow of 150 copies of only one book namely i+e (the internet and everyone) which are to be bartered during october for artworks or handworks or other equivalents... something beyond the world of commercialised art and publishing... towards a new culture that is unfunded and surely more friendly and timely than is art as investment... or as commodified mind...

*cafe CK is at
Marienburgerstrasse 49, 10405 Berlin,

phone: 030 6883 4905


email: kontakt (AT)
(please replace (AT) by the @ symbol)

...writing on the way back to london i saw from the train a tiny old-fashioned wind driven generator above an old factory or industrial shed ... and i wondered about this gadget... a most modest beginning of the new collective effort to cease destroying the land and the sea and the air by the burning of the fossilised forest and underseaplants and many sorts of dead creatures etcetera... the precious resources we call coal oil and gas... and in these words (as in others) i'm seeking a degree of concrete or abstract naming that can make evident the material and temporal realities that we both create and destroy in our industrial and global machinations and plans... or even insights and nightmares and dreams... and afterdeath fantasies and monuments... cough cough says the writer while the reader's thoughts are unknown...

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