October 2015

A Day In Berlin

What use is a day in Berlin – how can such a complex collage be comprehended in a day, in any way, other than first impressions ?

But first impressions count for a lot. And anyway, the difference between having been to Berlin for a day and not having been there at all is infinite.

Highlights, apart from Queen Nefretete – my paradigm of beauty redefined (1340 BC) – include the Neues Museum, like the city but more honed – gracious, grand and gritty – and the walk from East to West by night.

The damage of post-war de-densification, like so many other cities, runs deep. The layers of the map show post-war pink and pre-war grey, and the thick green line; now a barely discernible seam.

Words and images interweave, networks overlap in the courtyards of public and private life. Battle-scars are cherished, in ongoing combat between gentrification and repair.


Is the Neues Museum a microcosm of Berlin ? Collage layers of colour, light and time. More full than empty; content laden, with plenitude and generosity. An essay in aspiration, aggregation and appropriation.


Berlin is polished and rough hewn – well-made. Its cracked surfaces delight and intrigue; many greys, with yellow, white, green and pink.

On first inspection it seems to combine Babylonian ambition with improvised (and institutionalised ?) bohemia.


I suppose the very number of cracks runs deep, and the enormity of what happened here during the War – parallel worlds – is in my mind more than my experience ?


Like all patchwork cities it has been arranged and disarranged. Tangible memory; even for a one-day visitor.


Naked imperfection; accretions of moss and smoothed, compacted dirt.

Even the concrete weeps.

Quiet streets and calm sleep.