A visit to Berlin - An excellent blog by Roan - commented by Peekay

Berlin - by Roan Smit

How do I start to describe Berlin?

 If I was  a painter my pallet would be neutral - not dark, not light.  It would most probably be a pre-rennaisance theme -cold tones and hard lines, with the clean strokes of restoration and recovery, but only as a decorative motive.  It would be an unfinished work, as the top clean overlay of clear varnish would not be able to conceal the dark undertones working itself effortlessly to the surface.  There would be movement -slow, persistant movement of intense distraction -  a constant momentum - but it would only be seen by those standing still long enough to recognise it.

 As a sculptor, my medium would be a solid, bold work of hard concrete ( interlined with steel and barbed wire), laced with art-deco structures  in stone and steel. I might just ad the three-pointed joker's hat somewhere, but it would hardly be visible, and something would constantly try to conceal it.  My theme would capture all the emotions of a lover's loss, with all the futile attempts to find it again.

And if I could write?  No, my story would be to dark to read.  The intricate lines of pain and anger, intertwined with the sadness of a loss of love and hope would be to agonising to the reader, and the lack of a happy ending would leave the reader breathless, sad, and lonely - as if you had spent the day in one of the busiest cities of the world, your shoulders bruised as you forced your way through the crowds, your feet hurting while you searched for a ray of hope, warmth, love,  but found none ( even though the streets were lined with inviting love-escapes).

No matter how many love parades or gay celebrations - nothing could hide the hurting heart of a city marked with the deep scars of war and pain.  The years of bloodshed, tears and fear could never be washed away - and the stark reminders of a Check Point Charly and its relevant museums and shops and the remaining wall would always stand starkly above all else.  All the thousands of tourists gathered in rows, marched through the dark house of rememberance, taking foto's with youths dressed up in the military apparel of the time, are only there to be reminded of the cruelty of man toward man.  But do they see the lines engraved in the walls, made by the tears of the people that once lived and died there?  Do they feel the soul of a people hurting, as if caught in a cage, bounded by the chains of inhumanity?

I was there - and glad to have been - but I have left with a bit of the scar of Berlin on my mind.  And in my heart I know that it will always be a reminder of what still lies ahead for us - people will never change, and the signs of our behavour - one to another - will ever become another museum to show us just what we are............
Posted by The Times and Life of Roan at 6:01 AM


P.K.Odendaal made thiese comments :

What an accurate and moving description of Berlin in poetry and in prose - as well as the genial use of the artistic metaphor.

One thinks of the holocaust and the death of 55 million people in the war.

One also thinks of the almost total destruction of the German nation, their country and their infrastructure - in great part by themselves- during the last months of that unholy war.

One thinks of the total denial of this by the German nation (now and past) and by their leaders of the time.
It must have been the apex of human self destruction which necessarily follows human excellence - a syndrome within each of us - and it must have been the utlimate crime against humanity.

I might be permitted (with your leave) to look past the human folly of Mao Zedong and his Cultural Revolution for self preservation which ended in self destruction - almost on the same scale.

Let me however not look past the deliberate self destruction and human suffering of the Russian nation by Stalin and his cronies - also a normal antidote to the Russian victory over Germany.

I do not think one can really have pity and compassion with humantity if one has not visited Berlin.
It reminds me of the deep emotional piano piece (by Frans Lizst) - The Hungarian Rhapsody no. 3 - in which the conflict between hope and defeat is so well and emotionally portrayed. Fortunately, the piece ends with the truimph of the human spirit over adversity and depression.

Thus, the war was also ultimately a victory (at great price) over the evil of humankind.

And then in complete contracdiction, right next to Berlin, one finds one of the most exemplary feats of the human spirit in the Baroque Art and Architecture of Potsdam.

Such is the duality of life - and of the conflict of the human flesh against the human spirit. And, in line with that, the total denial of our own folly as individuals or as humankind.

Surely these are thoughts one has to consider and meditate on.

October 5, 2010 8:19 AM