jason s andrews

jason s andrews

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tacheles. You will be missed

Spent the weekend in my favourite city. Berlin’s bright autumn light shimmered, I sat in beautiful café’s where you aren’t asked to vacate your seat for waiting clientele, swam in beautiful lakes and met some lovely people enjoying the dimly lit, crusty walled bars.

lame photo I quickly took in a moving train. I always see this place on my way from the airport to the city. It's a strange sight, that hotchpotch of white buildings poking up over the trees

beautifully bizarre cafe in kreuzberg, situated in some kind of crater 

sun sets in Mauerpark 

Unfortunately, what displays the change in the city and one of the things wrong with the world is the closure of Berlin's Tacheles, a sad day for alternative art. The famous art squat, once a no man's land of creativity and freedom, has been subsumed by heartless capitalism. Artists turned the derelict building into a landmark of Berlin's alternative art scene when it saved the building from demolition in the early 90s.

The closure by the authorities of a city increasingly dominated by property and finance, is a sad moment for anyone who believes art can offer alternative visions of the world.

Today's art is full of big talk about subversion, the default crest of artists like Damien Hirst. But no one can really believe that artists steeped in the big money art world are genuine in any way, they’re much better at merchandising than anything else.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Slowly savouringly reading the life of Anaïs Nin through her diaries, I related to this rather sweet review I came across:

Reading all of these diaries is my greatest literary adventure since discovering Carlos Castaneda in 1975. An in depth reading of the diaries is one of the most profound learning experiences a reader can find. If you want to go on with it you can read Henry Miller, and Proust and all the books that influenced her. You could make a life out of it. I think though it would be better to live one. That is her lesson; live your own life, not the canned life the society wants to sell you.

Arthur Rimbaud

She mentions more than once her love for the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, a fascinating character. Born in Charleville, Ardennes, he produced all his works while still in his late teens— Victor Hugo described him at the time as 'an infant Shakespeare'— and he gave up creative writing altogether before the age of 20.

In his Rimbaud biography, Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel, Edmund White said that in his youth, he related to a young gay man who wanted to escape to the city, to write, to be sexual, to be published, 'but I lacked his courage, and his genius.'

Rimbaud represents what so many artists want to be, a natural talent. We want to shoot to the top, a shining prodigy, not a diligent drudge. White says that Rimbaud, in his short writing career, wrote every genre of poetry, prefiguring surrealism, and influencing modern literature, music and arts.

During his bohemian years in Paris, he was involved in a tumultuous affair with respected poet Paul Verlaine, culminating in Verlaine serving a prison sentence for firing two shots at Rimbaud, one of them wounding the 18-year-old in the left wrist.

Then this romantic figure gave it all up for a colourful, adventurous life in the world, renouncing his literary career at the age of 19. He travelled extensively in Europe, mostly on foot. He travelled from the Dutch East Indies to Cyprus to Yemen to Ethiopia, working as a coffee trader and then turning to gun-running and possibly slave-trading. Through his letters to his mother, in which he endlessly complained, it seemed his new single-focused interested was the accumulation of wealth, but he became ill and died at the age of 37.

Rimbaud was an utter misanthrope treating all those around him with disdain. According to the biography when Rimbaud's work Une Saison en Enfer (A Season in Hell) didn't make an immediate impact (a big reason for this was that this rude provocative troublemaker alienated himself from everyone in the literary world), he lost interest in literature completely, saying how he then never even read literature and that it was useless. His reading branched out into how to do and make certain things, and languages, he seemed to want to explore everywhere and try his hand at everything.