Monday, May 31, 2010


Sitting at the relatively new library in Köpenick, an otherwise old town east of Berlin. It is a nice, brick box, with somewhat randomly arranged openings, although they must be somewhat calculated, right, because it is a Library. The front door here seems like the back door, and gives you both the feeling that you are entering a sort of forbidden door, into a place of forbidden fruit. Or that you are completely welcome and a full part of it, that you enter the same door as all the deliveries, all the staff. It is beautiful volume mostly consisting of air and light. Up on the third floor I ask, in English, for where the English books are. The librarian in response brings me over to the large space in the middle, the "vertically interconnected space", and points down to some shelves on the second floor.

Most of the books here in fact are somewhat forbidding, if not forbidden. But I am cruising along with Arabic again, so the German-ness here fades away in the background. You could say that I roam around on the periphery of Berlin, a city whose centre is perhaps known best for the vibes that emanate from it; or divided, for its east and its west.

Current thoughts are back to Vancouver, in the form of Jeff Wall. I have probably heard of this guy more outside of Vancity than within, and he will have an exhibition in Dresden soon. I am looking forward to seeing Vancouver again. But before that, the other omnipotent artist that has something seemingly everywhere is Olafur Oliasson, who has a current show at the Martin Gropius Bau.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mors dag

A grey Mother's Day Sunday. In front of me is a window sill with lots of plants of unknown destiny. They all look the same when they start, like the offspring of mothers, but who knows what the future brings for them.

I've been flipping through a Danish slang dictionary. "Curlingbarn" or curling-child was an interesting one. Curling is a fascinating game of Scottish origin (as wikipedia says) that somehow really took root in the icy plains of Canada. It's probably a mythical, and I guess metaphorical, sport here. A curling-child is one whose parents have swept away all the obstacles in advance, to give the child the best possibilities to get to "the target". Such children may experience difficulties later in life, when they are not as well equipped to handle obstacles on their own.

It's damn cold here. Beware bare noses. If it weren't for the telltale signs of lettuce green leaves anticipating something in the air, and the hopeful flowerpots on balconies, it feels like Christmas is just around the corner and that the first snow just might fall. It's been a tough winter and now a hopeless spring. When I was in Damascus, many of the Danes coming and going during the months I was there were full of fabulous stories of a truly snowed-in country. Much like descriptions of what Canada must surely be like, in the hinterland east of Vancouver. I hear that the current weather in Vancouver is very pleasant.

I was at a Danish-Yugoslavian event the other event. My friend's father participated in a "youth corps" in 1947 to build a railroad and other works, and this was an event to commemorate it. It was interesting for me to hear that the Ottoman Empire stretched west of Vienna, and so included Hungary and Yugoslavia. Somehow it all comes down to Muslim-Christian relations too, and how it has evolved over time in different ways and in different gradients of peace and war.

Denmark is not "particularly" Christian, but state and religion are close bedfellows, and there are lots of religious holidays throughout the year here that people appreciate. I watched an edition of Joel Osteen yesterday. The idea of ultra-church where 40,000 attend service 5 times a week is close to inconceivable here.

Off to Nørrebro, an inner city suburb. I'll hear a lot of Arabic on the bus but I won't see too many signs in Arabic. Everything has to be Danish here in Denmark.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Den 5. maj

On May 5th, 1945, Denmark was liberated from 5 years of German occupation. Tonight, behind many a Danish window, will a bright candle or two be lit in commemoration.

Currently just north of Copenhagen, in a place called Brede. I'll be in and out of Copenhagen for the next little bit visiting friends, until I start occupying German land in two weeks. The weather is cold compared to even Melbourne, but I am surviving.