Lufthansa airshow: the North Sea, pointed like an arrow toward Amsterdam over blue map water. While forty thousand feet beneath me the real pre-dawn sea roils and mutters. How we lose track of the sublime, how much we've surrendered--gratefully, thoughtlessly--to simulation.
Eliot should have said, Mankind cannot bear very much intimacy.
I remember it worried me a bit when I was a kid learning Beethoven was German. Because the Germans were bad guys, right?
Guten Morgen meine Damen und Herren. How beautiful the language is just to hear, with no comprehension, just glimmers, particles of meaning, like mica.
Ordinary lives in foreign languages.
Unexpected sun-flooded cuteness of Berlin, Charlottenburg, Winterfeldtplatz.
A cafe phrase, repeated and misheard, sounds uncannily like "Osama bin Laden."
Cigarettes! Smoked by people of an apparently affluent status now all but precluded from smoking in the U.S.
A falafel joint called Habibi. A bar called Slumberland (in English). Masha, a lounge or cafe, the word "cocktails" (again in English). Call. Amrit, an Indian restaurant. A wine shop and a candy store.
In my mind, hanging in the air between me and all these people with their handsome indifferent faces, not all of them white, the word: Jude.
What we would have named our son, had we had a son.
Rosh Hashanah in Berlin. The Brandenburg Gate, the gates of prayer.
I didn't expect mosquitoes. Or the brick church at the other end of the 'platz. Brick churches are in America, not here.
The kind of tired that trickles into you from the neck up. Sinus tired.
Red candles on cafe tables.
The note that P. strikes in his conversation, that his friend Claudio Magris strikes in his writing, that I think my mother had: a note of high irony mixed with a passion for beauty not easily distinguished from ethical passion, moral passion. Saturnine, satirical, an impression of sorrow skirting bathos, a nostalgia for Europe and its junkheaps, a doomed desire to find some right relation to the broken frieze of the world. Melancholy sensuality. A profound bookishness and feeling for culture--a sense of oneself as passionate observer, very nearly a participant.
Flawless light and air, "Berlin Luft," indeed! Passed by beautiful stylish European men, dressed youthfully but with iron in their hair. Yellowing trees. Frischkäse.
But underneath it all a heaviness, the density of history. Yellow stars.
A river we trail our fingers in, bearing us out, leaving almost no trace.