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Fishing cane my parents bought me first time I were in San Pedro in 1997
First fish I caught fishing with my uncles in La Coronilla, Rocha, Uruguay, summer 2014

Travel Logbook: San Pedro

30.12.14
19 min
Post

What I already knew about San Pedro: The first time I went to San Pedro was the weekend before starting 1st grade in 1997. My mum was pregnant with my sister, it was our last trip as a three-membered family. My dad bought me a fishing rod made of cane with no mechanism whatsoever. I didn’t catch a thing. Nobody did except for a boy who caught a tiny fish that day.

Since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to learn how to fish. Now I can do it with a little help. In Uruguay, with my uncles in Rocha’s beaches by the breakwater and here in Argentina I always ask my dad to teach me but it’s something he does with his friends.

About San Pedro I know there’s really tasty oranges (gotta buy some) and it’s located by the Parana river (I would love to just sun bath and swim during the whole stay). The guys in my shooting group reminded me the existence of the honky-tonk festival in San Pedro where they get together and dance to country songs. It was like a month ago, but we’ll research about it. Sometimes with my dad, his girlfriend and my sister we go to the movies at a shopping mall and when we come out of the movie we see all the honkies with their cowboy suits and we go to their free honky-tonk lesson. It’s really fun. A classmate told me about some guy’s yard full of sculptures. Apparently, he’s well-known in San Pedro. Later that day I went to my dressmaker’s house to try on my belly dance dress and she told me about Monica & Cesar’s farm. They are a famous news anchor couple who several years ago bought a farm in San Pedro which you can visit as a tourist attraction. My dressmaker lives two blocks from my house and her daughter used to be a dance classmate of mine. She also told me that in San Pedro was the battle of Vuelta de Obligado, where Argentinian creoles put chains in the river so the English and French navy couldn’t pass. They succeded, so now there’s a museum and a monument.The brand new November 24th national holiday is to commemorate this battle. Preparation: On Monday at university they told us we had to have edited audiovisual material by next Monday. The final project consisted in going two or more times to a small town in Buenos Aires. First time would be to have the first impressions of the place, second (and third if necessary) would be to go with a shooting plan. We had to go ASAP and apart from shooting and taking photographs and having them revealed over the weekend, which is impossible. I’m burnt out from nearly not sleeping during the past three weeks and I’ve learnt to live with a constant, never-ending headache. Partial exam. Proofread a whole 400 pages magazine and its translations in a week. Shooting. Edition. Handing over previous project. Dissolution of previous project’s  group. Get a new group and organize a trip in an afternoon. Luckily, we agreed on timing and we leave on Thursday. I leave in a charter from Panamericana y Marquez, 15 blocks from my house in the northern outskirts of Buenos Aires, they go by bus from Retiro’s terminal, near downtown. We’ll stay at the Federal Shooting Campsite because they rent tents. These days I’ve been all around the city asking for lent camping gear to friend’s who said yes, then no, then asking another one, finding solutions. Exhaustion. The hours are way too short and Buenos Aires is too damn big. – Rent a tent (call the campsite) ✓ – Get an analog camera ✓ – Get 35mm film – Go to the office ✓ – Buy water ✓ – Go to my dance class (got there awfully late) ✓ – Call a cab for tomorrow ✓ – Laundry ✓ – Pack ✓ – Ask for a sleeping bag (Dani, Leo, D ✓) – Meet T for camera – Buy a disposable camera ✓ –  Go to D’s for sleeping bag ✓ I found an analog Kodak Brownie Fiesta camera at home. I took it to Pluscolor (photography store) and they told me the 127 Kodak film hasn’t been made for years now. This broke my heart a little bit because it’s a beautiful camera and really wanted to try it. 9:40 AM Cab arrives to take me to the charter stop. 10 AM Charter that leaves me at the campsite arrives to Panamericana and Marquez. I’m going to take a shower and try to pack and sleep. I’m taking Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” because I thought it was suitable because I was going on a kind of improvised trip as well and because I’m having a hard time getting hooked with this book except for some sporadic parts that make me laugh or some really good parts or quotes but they are pretty isolated in the whole book. I’ve been reading it for a year now, forcing myself to read it right now, really. Sorta boring. I’m about to finish it by now. I really love Kerouac but maybe that thing Truman Capote said about “On the Road” not being writing but mere typing makes a little bit of sense. The lack of sleep made me to not enjoy Seinfeld during breakfast. Panamericana and Marquez. Charter half an hour late. I hop on and one of the only two other passengers was a familiar face. What are the odds of that happening on a Thursday morning of a busy month? He is an artist I met in some exhibitions that lived for a year in 2013 in San Pedro. He told me some stuff about San Pedro and places to go like bars and the night club’s monopoly and their owners. He used to look after one of those guy’s houses while he was gone. The charter left me at the Federal Shooting campsite. I told the woman at the check-in counter that I would pay when my classmates arrived. I sat down and waited for them. The pool exploded with a large group of fifteen-year-olds that were all over the place. A group of them almost get into a ramble, another group was shaking a tree. My classmates arrived and we went to pay, the check-in counter lady got mad at me because I didn’t tell her I had a tent reserved, which was already put up at the campsite. I thought it was amazing that it had been already put up and didn’t have to take care of that myself. We left our stuff in the tent. Martin didn’t have a camera but at the campsite’s grocery store they were selling a Kodak analog camera from Brazil, 35mm film and batteries included for $70 Argentinian pesos. The film wouldn’t get hooked up to the camera mechanism. Half an hour trying to make it work. The two women at the grocery store, which I figured were mother and daughter, didn’t like us because not only we didn’t buy the camera, but we also ruined the film.

Federal Shooting campsite entrance

33 Celsius degrees going up a rift. The rustic stairs they made to go up the rift didn’t make it easier.

The view paid off, which was necessary to recover energy and air after going up. After 15 minutes of walking, some photographs and the first impressions of the town, we got to the Old Shipyard, a place the visual artist Juan De Stefano recovered and turned into a place where he permanently exhibits his iron sculptures, a place where the history of the humble neighborhood Las Canaletas is preserved and passed on, where the children learn how to make clay sculptures and a place with a 100% public access to the river (San Pedro used to have a municipal beach but now every safe, beach access to the river has a price). When we got there, Juan was at his house, in front of the Old Shipyard, working, but the place was full of kids swimming and playing in the water and jumping from the pier.

Boys swimming and playing at the Old Shipyard

Boy swimming at the Old Shipyard

Juan De Stefano’s iron sculpture by the river at the Old Shipyard

I asked a girl who was previously slacklining and was now sitting by the river with a man and a guy where was Vuelta de Obligado, how to get there and where could we get something to eat. They told me where to eat by the river and that Vuelta de Obligado was 20 Km. away and we could take a bus from the terminal. I told my classmates, we thanked them and as we left, they told us they were going to Vuelta de Obligado and they could take us in their car. After a long pause, telepathic conversation, doubt and mistrust, Majo, the woman, said to us: “So, guys, do you dare?”

I thought we might either end up starring in a B Class horror movie or that it could be really good. Paranoia made me, just in case, text my mum the Chevrolet’s plate and took a picture of it with my disposable analog camera. If everything resulted in a B class horror movie, it would be like Blair Witch Project but more vintage.

We went to the Vuelta de Obligado Battle museum. The monument is like a fountain that is a semi-circular wall of water gushing giant chains. 30 Celsius degrees. The monument’s waterjets were off.

Me, all touristy with the Vuelta de Obligado Battle monument

We smoked a bit of weed in the museum’s woods and by its pier but I didn’t smoke much because I wanted to be alert… I didn’t want us to get robbed and left in the middle of nowhere just for being the stupid stoner of the movie. We left the museum around 4 PM and we went to “A lo Cacho”, a typical town bar. We had a beer that returned me to life. After a while of interacting with the locals, Majo, who was waiting in the car, demanded that we left to “The Broken Bridge”. Ruben, “A lo Cacho”‘s manager, told us while serving a glass of Tacon (herbal beverage) to the gaucho Mario, that his bar had served as location of a film that won awards in a Berlin festival.

Colo’s Chevrolet parked at A lo Cacho

El Colo having a beer, me by the bar inside.

A lo Cacho. Inside, Nico and I having a beer at the bar.

Mario, the gaucho

We went on “El Colo”‘s (one of the guys we met with Majo, whose nickname translates as “The Redhead”) white Chevrolet listening to Colombian cumbia, salsa, reggae, looking for Majo’s ex-band in that playlist. Every once in a while “el Colo” would say that there was nobody around nor any kind of signal, something that I usually think as great, now made me think we were going to die there.”El Colo” insisted that it wasn’t like in Buenos Aires (where he is originally from), though, that you could trust people in small towns. The Broken Bridge was baptized that way last year when the stream went up so much that the water broke it leaving hanging wooden beams and enormous rocks coming out of the water. We went into a private land, past the wire fence and there, surrounded by cows and horses, we went into the water. It was something beautiful after such heat. Majo was scared and thought there might be either fishes or snakes. “El Colo” said there might be Cucumelo there and we looked for it in the cows’ shit for a while with no success.

Majo, Martin, El Colo and I

El Colo by the Broken Bridge

From left to right: Nico, me, Martin, the crew.

Majo, El Colo, me sun bathing at the Broken Bridge

We went back to “A lo Cacho”. I was wrecked. We haven’t eaten anything all day. Majo and “El Colo” played pool. Ruben told me the ravioli with stew was $95 Argentinian pesos. “El Colo” had recently told me that San Pedro’s restaurants were expensive as if we were in Las Cañitas (posh Buenos Aires neighborhood) even if it was just a small lousy canteen. When I heard that price my eyebrows spontaneously went up in awe and said: “What?!”. Ruben then answered: I can make it $90 for you, with that face, you can do whatever you want…” I felt flattered till I realized my beauty was worth $5 pesos. “El Colo” asked for a Pappo’s song, another one asked later for a Rolling Stone’s song and afterwards was Amy Winehouse’s turn. I decided to pay that much for the ravioli because I needed to regain strength and if I needed to run or escape I was going to need it (I wasn’t really trusting yet… especially after hearing one of the locals say: “The guys keep on shooting?” and some stuff that were unintelligible and “El Colo” said: “Yeah… The perfect crime.”).

El Colo and Majo playing pool at A lo Cacho

Nico, Pedro, Ruben and I

The stars in the road looked amazingly beautiful and bright. Either lying by the water stream with my face all covered in mud (great clay facial mask for free) or sunbathing in the field or on the car looking at the stars, I was so relaxed that I thought that it didn’t matter if “El Colo” grabbed an axe and cut me in two or some kind of exaggerated, dramatic, bloody death like that because in that moment, I was happy. “El Colo” and Majo talked about stopping by the road at night to have Mate (Argentinian infusion). I wanted to take a shower (and live) so I said no. They took us to the campsite and we agreed on going to a bar called Viento Sur at night. The shower had an amazing water pressure so it felt like a massage session. Martin forgot the adaptor to charge the camera’s battery. I went to the check-in counter, a bungalow next to the campsite, the restaurant int front of the campsite called “Riviera”, and to the Howard Johnson hotel next to the restaurant. Nobody had an adaptor. We called “El Colo” At Viento Sur we were able to charge the battery for a while. It was 11 PM of a Thursday night so there were a few groups of young people and a group of thirty-somethings with a baby. My classmates ate fries. Majo came by and we had a beer. I wanted to sleep, we had to wake up early to return the tent at 9 AM. Day 2 We arranged with Juan De Stefano that we would meet at the Old Shipyard at 12:30 because it was closed the day before. We took a different way, Martin bought his disposable camera at last and we arrived, followed by three beautiful dogs that came along with us in our adventure to a ship that was at the Malvinas (Falklands for English speakers) war, now a museum. One of the dogs got to the ship with a hurt leg because getting there, a big dog came out of a house and bit it. It broke my heart to watch everything not being able of doing anything because I’m super scared of big dogs, especially when they are barking and biting, and everybody in San Pedro leave their dogs out, so this things happen. I was scared of some dog every two blocks. The other two dogs jumped into the river when we got to the ship, the hurt one couldn’t. We went to take a look at the ship. I love ships so I really enjoyed it. When we came out, only one dog remained waiting for us.

One of the dogs about to go into the water.

The ship, once at the Malvinas war, now a museum.

I’m on a boat

Cartography and window reflex

After the ship we finally went to the Old Shipyard to talk to Juan. He told us about his neighborhood, Las Canaletas, the Old Shipyard, the river, the gutters that give the name to the neighborhood (Las Canaletas means “The Gutters” in English…It’s a bit funny that this is an under-priviledged neighborhood and it’s named like that, but it doesn’t sound as bad in Spanish), the children and drugs, he also talked to us about the sculptor Fernando García Curten and another artist, Yayo Altoaguirre that was born just hours away from Juan and he thinks it’s curious that both of them are artists.There were kids making clay sculptures: a pipe, a parrot, etc.

Juan De Stefano

One of Juan’s sculpture

Juan De Stefano’s sculpture

Iron sculptures outside of the Old Shipyard

Typical house of Las Canaletas neighborhood

Typical house of the humble neighborhood Las Canaletas

Then Juan left and we went to swim in the river. There were many families with kids by the river, I covered myself in clay from the bottom of the river once again and the guys rested by the river for a while. I couldn’t sit because of the clay. A group of boys asked us to take a picture of them jumping from the pier.

Boy jumping off the pier

We decided to go to García Curten’s. His house works as a museum as well. We arrived 10 minutes early so I sat on the threshold and waited.

Above: “Arts Workshop” Below: “Museum House Fernando García Curten”

A few minutes later I heard the door and see a bare-chested old man putting his shirt on and surprised to see me sitting there. He told me to wait and he left to put his t-shirt on.

Fernando García Curten, going inside to put his shirt on.

He then made us come in.

Fernando García Curten, still surprised after finding me by chance sitting on his threshold and inviting us in after putting his shirt on.

In the garden, under the shade of the trees, his 3-year-old grand daughter, newly arrived with her mum from Buenos Aires, was cooling herself off in a pink-plastic-baby bathtub. We walked past the garden towards the workshop where the sculptures and collages were exhibited.

Fernando García Curten’s grand daughter

Flyer

García Curten’s sculptures exhibited permanently at his workshop.

Later, we talked to him for a while. He had a black tee-shirt which sleeves he had cut off, black sunglasses and he was smoking his pipe. He told us his daughter and grand daughter had arrived earlier that day and they put the girl in the bathtub because it was too hot. While I was taking a look at his art in the workshop, I heard in the background, as I was writting in the guestbook:

– Dad! – No, grandpa… He then told us that he stopped making sculptures ten years ago because he doesn´t have enough energy for that anymore, so now he just draws and makes collages, that he doesn’t sell his work because nobody goes to San Pedro to buy art, that a lot of people doesn’t give him a good feedback about his work because he says they don’t like the obscurity and dramatism of it: “They don’t want to take a look in the mirror”. That the problem is old age as he discovered five years ago when the doctor found something serious that, as he repeated it several times I wanted to ask but I didn’t dare. He also told us that small towns are cruel to artists, personages, freaks, that he had only sold at a good price when he’s lives in Belgium and in Europe in general, that Ernesto Sábato told him: “They are going to kill you here (San Pedro)” and that he now feels it’s true. Last but not least, he said that to the young people that visit him he tells them to persist, and that more than bravery, they must have courage. That art is something that is not done for pleasure but for necessity and that he is really tired.

Fernando García Curten smoking his pipe with his sunglasses on. What not to love about this man?

Old Geezah

After we left García Curten’s house, we had an ensaimada, a pasty from Mallorca, now typical from San Pedro as well due to a large colony from there in San Pedro, filled with party cream (the original) or dulce de leche.

World’s biggest ensaimada, June 22nd, 2003.

I walked the guys to the bus terminal and then walked by the shore to the campsite. I’ve got 40 minutes left till the charter came to pick me up. I enjoyed for the first time the so well advertised pool of the campsite. Five lengths of the 10 Mt. pool that costed me a lot of effort and air as ever before. I talked a little bit to the manager and the lifeguard. I took a shower and 15 minutes later the charter arrived. Never such better timing. I always love to look out the window during a roadtrip but it was so hard not to fall asleep. A really attractive woman hopped on the charter that, due to her looks, I supposed she wasn’t from here. Later someone called her on the phone and I confirmed she was, in fact, Colombian and I enjoyed the accent coming from the seat behind mine while looking at the road and falling asleep from time to time. The charter left me on Thames street by the highway and I walked three blocks towards the Subway that’s near my house for the first time and ordered the 30 Cm. sandwich. I have hardly eaten during the trip. I walked with my huge backpack on my shoulders the six blocks that separated me from home, I was happy to be back. At last, I lied down in front of the telly to die and enjoy an unsavory meatball Subway with tomato, lettuce, onion, jalapeño pepper, green bell pepper, sweet onion sauce, spicy sauce, and yet, still unsavory.

Katti Jisuk Seo
People

One day Katti asked me if I did grow up in a strawberry cake, describing an obviously chuffed tone of felicity in my voice (and maybe in my daydream influenced face). What just was a playful saying, come and gone, is in fact one of a billion ways in which she can make sense of the world. According to Katti life itself is not only a bakery ready to take over, where you can bake and eat chocolate cookies, apple pies, and fancy cakes all by yourself. You also can – and should – be a conquistadora of your own state of mind, meaning: bake and sugarcoat yourself to be what you want to be. Finding that recipe of change is the most great endeavour she wants to undertake. So if you ever launch your spirit starship heading to ‘Destination: Honeypot’ best take Katti with you on the ride. She will explore all the oceans of space offside your skillfully calculated bearing to find the candy wonders of life, that wait for you left and right.

Mark Wachholz
People

I met Mark nine years ago at filmArche, a place where they call him God or nerd or both. He paints the insides of your sunglasses with colours you never saw before. He replaces your headphones by a deaf-aid, he cuts your brain open, puts three cogwheels and a cuckoo clock in and then closes it gently. From then on you can turn your marital crisis into the thrill of a burning helicopter, your postnatal depression into the joy of a jumping jackhammer and your lovesickness into the excitement of stealing silver spoons from your neighbors. You start living inside the fantastic trailer of your own life that you are not living. And you never want to get rid of that feeling again.

A Test of Character

by
Katti Jisuk Seo
Mark Wachholz
22.12.14
60 min
Longread
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Ralph Martin
People

Ralph Martin and I met on a Berlin balcony roughly the size of my New York living room. This was in the fall of 2007; it was Thanksgiving. Most of the apartments we haunted back then were, as Ralph describes, a particular kind of Berlin-nice. They were not the coal-moted blocks of the nineties. They were roomy to the point of cavernous and well-lit and, typically, underfurnished, because furniture, like food, existed for us on a strictly need-to-know basis, and we did not need to know the credenza. In any case, this apartment was not Berlin-nice in that particular way. This apartment was New York–nice; it spoke bluntly and eloquently of the unattainable luxury most of us preferred to have out of sight. In any case, there it was, and we were on the balcony. Somebody introduced us and Ralph asked how long I’d been in Berlin. I’d been there three or four months then.
Ralph said something along the lines of, “With all due respect, I don’t think I want to be your friend.”
“Why?”
“Well, you’ll see – or you won’t. It’s just not worth it. People show up and they hang around for an academic year and then they’re gone. You go back to New York or wherever and we’re still here. We’ve learned not to invest ourselves in the new arrivals.”
Ralph has no particular memory of this conversation, though he concedes it may very well have happened, and that it accurately reflected his (generally unvoiced) feelings on the matter of new arrivals. For what it’s worth here, less than a year later I learned what Ralph was talking about. Many of my friends were moving on, when it felt as though we’d barely gotten there. Ralph describes pretty well what that feels like. The main thing Berlin had had going for it was that it was practically impossible to stay too long at the party, because by the time one party ended another had begun in its place. But then all of a sudden your particular cohort has moved on, and the new people are intolerable because they so accurately reflect your own pretentious naivete. In any case, by the time that happened, Ralph had gotten over his initial reservations and we’d become friends. We’d become friends mostly because I’d been third-hand invited to a birthday party Ralph was having in the Tiergarten. The party, I’d been told, had a dandy theme, but because it was Berlin nobody bothered with the effort of a costume. Because Ralph had treated me with such disdain, however, I was nervous to show up in my civilian clothes. I wore a rather silly thin-waled corduroy suit I hoped Ralph might admire. I can’t imagine he liked the suit but he appreciated the effort as a personal gesture.
The following Thanksgiving was at Ralph’s house. My mother was in town to visit and we went. There were probably sixty or seventy bottles of nice wine for maybe twenty people. I’m pretty sure all the wine was consumed. There was the only goose-liver paté I can recall having consumed in my time in Berlin. Ralph had a rather imperious orange cat, and an adorable daughter who thought English was the secret code only her father new. Back then, like now, Ralph’s attitude toward his own bourgeois comforts was self-effacing. He wrote two drily hilarious collections of satirical essays on the cliche of his Prenzlauer Berg existence. (Frankly, they stand with anything David Sedaris has ever written, but for now they remain available only in German.) But what made those books so terrific wasn’t their satire – though that was always sharp – but their warmth, and their generosity. They were funny and moving not because Ralph despised his life in the bezirk of Swabian yoga-mütter but because, despite himself, he loved it. Ralph always worried that more fun things might be happening in dirtier, darker corners, but in reality it was the gaiety and liveliness of his hearth that felt much realer to me, in those years in Berlin, than another night of vaguely fun self-loathing at Berghain.
When Ralph’s son was born, sometime later, our mutual friend David said we should go visit. I was in no particular hurry; none of my friends, at that point, had kids to speak of, and the whole concept seemed retrograde and a little gauche. David said to me, “It’s very important to people that you go meet their children as soon as possible.” We went, and sat around with Ralph and his family until almost dawn. Everything was the same for Ralph, but just a little bit different. A few weeks later Ralph was allowed out of the house for the first time since his son was born, and we went to some Halloween parties in Neukölln and then the old Polish bar on Schlesische Strasse, its Halloween floor littered with broken glass, and ended up spending that dawn on the Oberbaumbrücke. At the time, it seemed to me that it was those nights I’d gone to Berlin for. It feels odd to say now, but I remember the nights at Ralph’s house much more fondly.
So take all of this as a kind of caveat. Ralph has written a very clever, wide-ranging, intelligent, witty, and poignant piece about real estate and speculation and the ambitions of youth. But it should be noted that he should not be taken strictly at his word. His written metier may be bristly self-satisfaction, but his lived metier is, from the outside at least, the adult model to which we might all aspire. It is, after all, that tension that makes his essay feel so vital, and so relevant. Have fun with this essay. But keep in mind it was written by a wonderfully unreliable narrator.

Zombies of Berlin

by
Ralph Martin
29.11.14
60 min
Longread
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On Love

20.11.14
3 min
Conversation

Love as memory, maybe this is what I mean, maybe this is what you mean. This is, at least as I read it, how you employ love in your novel “Restaurant Dalmatia”. The past is the past, but what we take from it or what takes us back or what helps us bridge this gap is the idea of a story that connects us with others. Is this then exile? Is this being lost? Or being found? We tell ourselves stories in order to survive, this is what Joan Didion said. There is nothing wrong with love being such a story. This does not mean that love is exactly that story. The power of storytelling is essentially that it creates a reality by describing it. Or by describing another reality that is not even similiar to the one it creates. This poetic leap is what love makes possible. Creating is an act of loving, of sharing, of giving something to the world. Does it have to do with John Lennon and Joko Ono? I would think not. I remember a book that I did or did not read a while ago, it was called “From Shame to Sin” and describes how in late antiquity the early Christians used morality to create around the dangerous force of sex something that was inflated with morality. Guilt arose and with it order. And suppression. And anger. And loneliness. This does not mean that a different society would have less suffering. It only means that this society has the suffering it signed up for, a long time ago. It is the very foundation, the agreement that holds us together. It is not even bourgeois. This is a conceit of the present to think that everything has to do with something that happened in the last 200 years. The book by Kyle Harper was exciting exactly for that reason: There was a moment of creation or destruction, there was a decision made that had consequences. Everything could be different. Again, not to say without suffering, longing, fear, loneliness. Happiness, fulfillment, everything that love can bring, the sparkle in the everyday, a look, a gaze, warmth, belonging, all these things that are so hard to hold on to and so easy to destroy and so valuable. They are still the feelings that love is made off. But in a different setting they might play out differently. It would be worth a try at least.

On Love

03.11.14
7 min
Conversation

I have never felt safe on any ground. Not on band names. Not on the eighties. Not on Games. „Love is the absence in the present”, let me take this line of yours as the starting point of inquiry, the underlying question towards whose answer I´m heading to. Do questions love answers – or the other way round?
I loved to watch Schnitzler´s Reigen on stage. But it scared every cell inside of me to be part of that play off stage. Maybe ´cause I saw Reigen when I was in my early twenties and in a way it retold the story that women would turn tender after having sex whereas men would turn cold. I saw the play only a few days after a guy I was almost impressed by had let me know: Women have sex for relationships and men have relationships for sex. How the hell did all these men from Schnitzler to Freud to that guy so precisely know what women wanted sex for and how they would feel afterwards? I really, in those times, couldn´t understand what kept the two sexes so interested in each other, and if it worked out: what was the missing link, that glue that tacked two independent circles to an eight of eternity. Judging by Reigen and Schnitzler and so many others, that one moment of closeness we long for can´t but destroy anything between us because in the end it is all about the power play of „ getting someone“. And behind so many stories representing that power play there was always that one cliché being reproduced: a man trying to get sex and a woman trying to get love. Not to speak of the repetitive motif of the exploitative nature of older men in their lust for inexperienced young women/girls, this little young nothings as an instrument of masculine aging self-love. I live(d) in a little town. Imagine Schnitzlers Reigen there. Is this all there is about the sexes that we pass each other on from one to another – not much of an attractive idea, particularly in a little place, to be honest. What about exclusiveness? Or is the dream of exclusiveness already a self-deceit in utter need of therapy? It would scare the shit out of me to sit on Freud´s couch. Not that I mind inquisition and deep talk. But much of what I have read about him and from him has to be treated with a lot of suspicion. In the ways it is so absolute. So intrusive. So Original Sin and thus religious in its claim for the darkest corners of our Selves. I prefer to be misled by Love than by a bad Freudian therapist. Or Freud himself. Love has to be questioned, you wrote. But so has lust. In the way we live it it might be as invented as love. We are maybe directed into lust in the same way we are directed into a certain image of what love is nowadays. You say the song by Foreigner could be addressed to any kind of girl or boy or… Reigen… you make it sound easy and like a reminiscent of a time where hormones were not so heavily loaded with romanticism and concepts of love as they are today – whereas i think the play was written in that way because it was a way to release the lust from the normative load that was then the hormone´s daily christian and societal rule. Sure there must have been a secret night-life, but: I believe we are nowadays physically and emotionally more able to express love and lust „freely“. We are on so many levels invited to live our sexuality/ies in a daily routine just like eating Corn Flakes in the morning or jogging along a river. Simply add the ingredient sex to your daily routine if you like or seem to need it. Today´s times make sure you know where you can get it – and I don´t mean for money, i rather mean sexploitation of your own sexlife. Whereas sex could have been a refuge it has turned into a hunter itself since it supposedly doesn´t have to have to do with love.
The other day some news ticked into my account: Young people these days don´t seem to know when a relationship starts. Now that everything is just an expression of oneself, from a kiss to a night to whatever – people don´t need to clear up what this means any longer. Is this still the Reigen? Is that still a dance, a song? Or is it mechanical love? Mechanical lust? Is anyone listening? You don´t dare to ask a machine how it feels, do you? Narcissim hasnt´t replaced anything but taken the role of a shield against that vulnerability that competitiveness and replaceability cause. Where is the difference between lust and love? Why do we often speak of love when we speak of contexts you pay for physical activities? Why do some in turn speak of duties when they speak of the same activities in marital contexts? This whole love-lust-life-marriage-whorehouse-thing seems to be upside down. We are afraid we are not gonna find love in marriages, or lust in marriages, we believe you can´t have it all and yet architect our lives exactly around that have-it-all-theory as if that knowledge wasn´t around.
I do agree that love is a dangerous force. Self-destructive in times. It can unleash all sorts of feelings, pure want being the one among them I consider the least harmful. I don´t know about innocence, Georg. I think innocence is that in a person that does not know what an experience will cause inside her. Or around her. That inside us that doesn´t even know there is a possible experience. I don´t know about the innocence of the scene I told you about. We stood in front of each other in awe. Admiration. Wonder. Experience – and hence a threat to innocence – begins when you reach out. Desire is the beginning of the loss of innocence because you sense or know that there is an experience to be made. The two of us knew no desire, we just wanted to be where we are. Maybe a kind of love the gods would have shattered in a Greek Comedy for the Human´s Happiness was unbearable to our Divinities. The complexity of that encounter was limited, that is why it was innocent – and joyful. Complexity raises tension and thoughts and thus reduces that childlike joy we feel about each other. The girl became an actress. The last time she wrote to me she was in Germany, precisely in Berlin, because she had fallen in love with a German. I don´t know what became of her. I don´t even know what became of me – in terms of love. There was always this question of safety when I felt love could be around. It was not the Reigen that made me catch glimpses of Love. Not that wanting to know what love is, as Foreigner put it, but knowing. Calm. I remember watching „The Making of Imagine“. There was this scene in which Yoko Ono and John Lennon talked about Love. And this sentence: So, what is love then? I really think that love is something to do with relaxation, you know? When you’re guarded with somebody, you know, then you’re not relaxed. And when you’re guarded with somebody, you can’t love that person, you know? Love is when you understand it so well that you relax for it, you know. And we have that kind of relaxation between us, a lot.
–Yoko Ono Lennon
I know that people hated her for that. I know that I had little to say about that since I have always rather been the Annie-Hall-kind-of-girl-with-more-of-a-J-Lo-Shape-and-dresses. I never knew much about relaxation. Maybe, just like Lennon´s fans, I was afraid it would kill creativity. But maybe this is why I often wonder if this is exactly what love is about.

On Love

23.10.14
4 min
Conversation

Love is the benefit of doubt. Love is the absence in the present. Love is but a song we sing to ourselves, and be it this strange tune from the eighties by the band aptly called Foreigner – some might say that this was a major aesthetic accident of pre-late modern times, but you know that. You say that this is more humble, to accomodate the doubt in the concept of love? But this is not what this song is about. It is about convincing a girl to go to bed with him. It is a tactical question, the doubt this song employs is superficial in the sense that it could be addressed to more or less any girl or boy for that matter. Which is not a bad thing. It is, to the contrary, a very common feature of what love can be. A pastime. A game. A carnival. A Reigen, as Schnitzler called it, in a time which was much less romantic about what love is. Why is that? Freud told us that love has to be treated with a lot of suspicion. Who is it that loves? Who is it that he or she thinks they love? Why do they think they love? What is the story they want themselves or the other to believe? Is this the doubt you see in love today? Or is this doubt gone, replaced by a narcissism that wants love, claims love, as if there was a right to love and be loved. There is a greed in this, a sense of entitlement. The story of life is incomplete without love.
The story you tell, on the other hand, totally makes sense. But it is not a story about love in the sense that most people would use that word. In this we agree. It is a story about being awake, about being in the world, about feeling alive, about having dreams and blond hair, about the strange beauty that is youth, about age which teaches you to love as compared to youth which tells you to live. Then again, of course this was love, especially in the more or less innocent way it happened, even though I am not sure that the innocence is in your narrative or in my mind – which is a typical way in which love and the things associated with love happen – or if there is a tone in the story that makes me doubt the innocence of it all. And what would be innocence after all. You would agree that love is a dangerous force, not only for oneself who can be led to despair, false hopes, a life of misery and longing, always the wrong person, always the wrong dream – but also dangerous in the sense that it can unleash brutal forces of revenge, of deceit, of pure want. How did this story end? What did become of the girl? What did become of you?
This love you talk about, it has a very broad meaning, and this I like. I think we use words to try to even access some of the things that puzzle and surround us, these words in turn take on a meaning that we cannot very much change after a while. They take on a reality which might be different from what they were meant to mean. The stories that love writes are stories that might be different if a different word would be used. The lifes that people live might be different if they would realize what they mean when they say love. It is not only a substitute for many other words, which means that you become lazy after a while and don*t think about these other words, about these other aspects of living with a person, of longing for a person – it also means that something is being hidden behind this word. There is a reality to be discovered. Which in turn and again: is the world.

Über Bayern

21.10.14
3 min
Conversation

Ich müsste eigentlich loben. Acht Spieltage sind vorüber, ein Viertel der Saison immerhin. Die Bayern haben sich an der Tabellenspitze eingerichtet. Dortmund, der große Konkurrent, ist bereits tief gefallen, 13 Punkte entfernt – beinahe auf einem Abstiegsplatz. Und doch stimmt irgendetwas nicht. Mit den Bayern. Es ist wie in so einem Film über Kunstdiebstahl. Man geht ins Museum, alles ist scheinbar perfekt, aber irgendetwas stimmt nicht. Man weiß es nicht sofort, aber so ein Gefühl begleitet einen. In guten Filmen ist der Twist am Ende grandios. Irgendein Gemälde war eine Fälschung. Aber was ist die Fälschung gerade beim FC Bayern? Alles scheint so gut zu sein, vielleicht zu gut?
Möglicherweise. Denn weder hat das Offensivspiel eine Zuspitzung wie in der Triple-Saison 2013, als Jupp Heynckes die zwei besten und versiertesten Außenverteidiger der Welt mit den zwei dynamischsten und trickreichsten Außenstürmern der Welt kombinierte. Noch erreicht die Defensive jene Undurchdringlichkeit, die immer schon das Alpha eines Titels war. Und was das Mittelfeld betrifft, das im postmodernen Systemfußball zum Hochaltar der Taktiker wurde, so darf doch niemand glauben, dass in Xabi Alonso und Philipp Lahm die Macht gefunden wurde, die Real, Barca, Chelsea oder Paris aufhält in der K.O.-Runde der Champions League.
Was also will Pep Guradiola? Will er das, was alle sagen? Vier Systeme in 90 Minuten spielen lassen? Jeder Spieler muss jede Position verstehen, einnehmen können, beherrschen? Philipp Lahm hat er nun in die offensive Flanke gestellt, rechtsseitig. Da würde er ja, um beim Beispiel Chelsea zu bleiben, im Dreieck John Terry, Ces Fabregas und Cesar Azpilicueta tätig werden müssen. Wie soll Dante den Belgier Eden Hazard aufhalten, wenn Dante kaum einen Sprint gegen Stürmer aus der Bundesliga gewinnt? Unter Heynckes stand der FC Bayern tiefer, Dante musste nicht so weit sprinten und wurde von Martinez und Schweinsteiger beschützt.
Damals, vor 16 Monaten, galt der Heynckes-Fußball als vollendete Schönspielerei – klar, strukturiert, kraftvoll, filigran, cool, effektiv. Was ist Guardiola-Fußball? Die Zauberflöte? Was wäre Guardiola-Fußball eigentlich ohne die Grundlagenarbeit von Louis van Gaal? Denn eins fällt auf: Wenn es eng wird für die Bayern, macht die individuelle Qualität der einzelnen Spieler den Unterschied aus, und noch immer stehen sechs, sieben auf dem Feld, die in Wembley Champions-League Champions wurden.
Und was will einem eigentlich der Transfer des spanischen U-21-Nationalspielers Bernat sagen? So einen Spieler hat der FC Bayern schon einmal verpflichtet, 2009. Sein Name: Danijel Pranjic. Man könnte meinen, Bernat sei für Guardiola das, was für van Gaal Pranjic war. Am Ende ist van Gaal daran gescheitert, nicht an Pranjic persönlich, der ein mittelmäßiger Spieler war und blieb. Van Gaal, der so viel erfand, etwa den linken Außenverteidiger Alaba oder den Stürmer Müller, er scheiterte an seiner Selbstsucht. Wider besseren Wissens sollte Pranjic quasi Alonso sein. Das war er nicht. Und was ist dann Bernat?
Man weiß es nicht. Man weiß, dass Bayern München nach acht Bundesligaspieltagen weit vor allen anderen liegt, noch kein Spiel verloren hat, auch nicht in der Champions League, auch nicht im DFB-Pokal. Man weiß, dass Philipp Lahm erstmals in seiner Karriere zwei Tore in einem Bundesligaspiel erzielt hat, gegen Werder Bremen, ein Team, das keine Zweikämpfe gewann und keinen einzigen Torschuss in 90 Minuten zustande brachte. Und man weiß, das Guardiola ein allseits bewunderter Schöpfer taktischer Züge ist. Ach, Bayern ist so gut, man scheitert mit Kritik. Doch irgendetwas, irgendetwas stimmt nicht.

Travel Logbook: San Pedro

30.12.14
19 min

A Test of Character

by
Katti Jisuk Seo
Mark Wachholz
22.12.14
60 min

Zombies of Berlin

by
Ralph Martin
29.11.14
60 min

On Love

20.11.14
3 min

On Love

03.11.14
7 min

On Love

23.10.14
4 min

Über Bayern

21.10.14
3 min