Wir reden über Literatur
Kultursalon Madame Schoscha

Letter from Berlin [37]

Monthly column Kultursalon Madame Schoscha

Altobelli writes  B. Reynard - with illustrations by Larisa Lauber (Berlin )- Translation by Phil Spataru
Frustration and Haircuts

Dear Mr. Reynard,

Illustration Larisa Lauber

so the hope I had that the US presidential campaign was just a media satire a la Orson Welles is slowly vanishing.  I was one of those self-proclaimed interpreters of signs that up until the end was sure that we would only get a black eye from all this. My obituary for Trump's foreseeable close loss was already filed away.  Plays on words like "Trump l'aiel", should have exposed his pacing on stage during the debates as a clumsy parlor trick.  The definitive facts, if they even exist these days, require a new vernacular. A new type of language that finds its way out of its own filtered bubble beyond biases and beliefs, if that is possible. This confrontation could only happen with some serious questioning: Why was political correctness not claimed when a large demographic could just matter-of-factly be called white trash?  How does this outcome affect my beliefs in democracy? Are we really living in post-truth times where only emotions count in large amounts? What would I do if in Europe the resentment led voices were also to gain the upper hand? In case you cannot answer these questions quick as a shot this is probably a good thing. These matters require deep thought before answering. In the biblical story of the prophet Jonah the unruly preacher was also ready to do his homework but only after he has spent 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of a whale.  In pre-historic times God took care of most people, "who didn't know their left from their right".  A hell of a job, both then and now.  In her latest interview, the New York Artist, Roni Horn, brought this complex theme to a sobering point:

"Without education democracy does not work."

It is no coincidence that currently a song with lyrics about the shortcomings of man is at at the top of the charts:

"Maybe I`m foolish, maybe I`m blind (…)
But I'm only human after all"

After all it’s again a song about being human…all too human. But what is the difference between that little ditty and the song "Human" by The Human League from 1986? The Human League related to Man's susceptibility to errors and the sad separation of a couple.  30 years later Rag 'n' Bone Man expresses his more fundamental feelings on the fallibility of mankind and vents his frustrations on the matter to God. As if by coincidence I saw the video through the display window at a fitness studio and wondered if I was looking at a Salafistic preacher from Cologne going through a transformation.   I guess this  is so 2016



When Cohen and Castro exit the stage in the same year it can only be seen as the start of a new era. Did you not write a biography on Leonard Cohen or I am remembering something incorrectly again?  The book states that Mr. Cohen wrote the song "Democracy" right after the fall of the Berlin Wall with the celebratory cheers still being audible in the background. He, at that time, belonged to the few gloomy oracles who emphasized that bringing democracy to the east block would be a painful process.  The song was an irony-free homage to the founding fathers of the United States praising their brave Democracy project which was executed like an experiment in laboratory like conditions. Is democracy actually eating its own children?



Sophie Hunger, some years ago, had already predicted, in her song "Das Neue," the changes that were to come. Back then I didn't know what she was blabbering on about. But now it all makes sense: 

"30 is the new 20
man is the new woman
freedom is the new prison
and rich is the new clever"

The Swiss Artist is both clumsy and unpredictable in interviews and with her lyrics, but of course in such a clever way.  She successfully undermines superficial interpretations of her work. If Trump were to recruit her to his consulting team, she would definitely be assigned the role of devil's advocate.



The song "Anarchy in the UK" from the Sex Pistols debuted 40 years ago.  The son of Vivienne Westwood and Malcom McLaren burnt relics of the age of punk , what people guess to be, worth millions of dollars.  Punk may not belong in a museum. Just like an elephant does not belong in a china shop. Alexander Kluge certified, in his analysis of the election, that Trump had the charisma of a drunken elephant. This initially laughable sounding model of success was actually a reused quote from Max Weber. It describes a raging representative and an angry being, who has a following of socially deprived devotees, that stare upon him in wonderment and in the end vote for him to lead.  



Fortunately, while I had these worrisome thoughts, your name swirled throughout the back of my head time and again.  As is what happens when letters go unanswered.  Reynard, you became a placeholder for my wish that an art’s rain is gonna fall.  I needed food for the soul.

My old friend Madame Schoscha recommended a volume of poems to me the last time I stayed in Barcelona.  "Herzstück" from Stefan Heuer published at Verlagshaus in Berlin was like an island for me during the last few days.

„gestundetes eis eine möglichkeit von vielen,
als hätte man die wahl//in der ferne diverse
para diese und jene und wer sich dafür hält.“

That mysterious blond woman that you winkingly alluded to in your letter will not spur my imagination. It could also be the general political situation but I had absolutely no desire to travel.  Also in my thoughts:

„hier ist immer anderswo, immer auf der innenseite
des kopfes, zeitlebens die ankunft im verlassenen
dorf, die dämmerung im rauch, den du für nebel
hieltest/die dunklen wolken brechen auseinander,
sind ein krähenschwarm, und du lädst mich ein
alleine zuhause zu bleiben, dankend nehme ich

But this volume of poems had certainly taken me for a ride.  My head and heart were taken along in every which direction in such a way that hasn't happened in a long time.  When I, with words, am carried away like a child in a good game, then I need not even bother about doing any further analysis.

Last but not least, say hello to the fantastic Mr. Fox for me! And please tell him that I am curious to see which faces and moods he captured and brings home from his expeditions in High Line Park. I will now follow his projects with a more observant eye like I did back during the Berlin exhibit.

Stay also alert and brave!
Your Altobelli

PS: "When only evil and haircuts
are the key to all creatures
then I’ll borrow Edward's scissor-hands
and snip my way through the world's ends."
(Altobelli, November 2016)

PPS: Please find attached an illustration from the Berlin artist Larisa Lauber.  She, with her art, added whole new fantastic dimension to my letter.

Fixpoetry 2016
Alle Rechte vorbehalten
Vervielfältigung nur mit Genehmigung von und der Urheber
Dieser Artikel ist ausschließlich für den privaten Gebrauch bestimmt. Sie dürfen den Artikel jedoch gerne verlinken. Namentlich gekennzeichnete Beiträge geben nicht unbedingt die Meinung der Redaktion wieder.

Letzte Feuilleton-Beiträge