RHPS as religion

August 16th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Just been to a RHPS showing. Remain somewhat astonished by how unknown it is in Berlin; it’s the kind of import you would expect to be overdeveloped here compared to its condition in country of origin. Not so.

Still, even here it has the makings of a secular ritual. The music, the comforting ritual, the morality almost as screwy as the Old Testament. Or maybe that’s just me :)

The ultimate weapon

April 15th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Last night, to a reading by Catherine Hales. [a few of her poems — some of which she read — are online here, here, here, and here.

Back, and unsure about the whole enterprise. Hales seems to be pretty good at what she does — as far as I can tell, the poems work pretty well on her own terms, and the reading went much more smoothly than I would have expected.

But it makes me realise just how adrift I am when it comes to poetry. I go to readings from time to time, hoping to find something that will describe, explain or enrich the world. Instead I just end up feeling baffled, stupid, underread, and resentful about the entire enterprise.

Partly, this comes down to my old grumble that poetry would be much improved by footnotes. When I don’t understand the origin of a quotation, or the significance of an allusion, entire sections devolve towards being just patterns of meaningless words. There’s little way to know what you’re missing; just a requirement that you spend a lifetime reading the language whose fragments are regurgitated into the poetry. This I won’t do, any more than I’m willing to inhale the canon of Star Wars and Doctor Who so I can follow in-jokes on Livejournal.

It’s a different feeling of stupidity to what comes from not understanding science. There, every moment of ignorance has a solution; understanding some area is mainly just a matter of reading textbooks and papers until it makes sense. Maybe it’ll take more time than I’m willing to put in, but I always know that the answer is out there.

Whereas, poetry? [I mean, this kind of poetry, academic poetry. Poetry that gets listened to by non-poets is a different matter] I have the sense that the only way to understand it is through slow cultural acclimatisation, spending years bouncing around the English department of some anglophone university. And I have plenty of ways to waste my life already, without going down that route.

This shouldn’t irritate me as much as it does; I should be able to accept that poetry is just an enclosed, self-referential world, that I can amicably sidestep in the same way I do Warcraft players. But I can’t; I’m somehow still hooked by the cultural status, by the feeling that I *should* be able to grok poetry, by the wariness that people are doing things with words that I can’t even work out how to comprehend.

The saving grace is the knowledge that, even if I did acquire understanding, perhaps through years of rigorous training in some remote poetry-temple, it still wouldn’t do me any good. As CH describes her work:

‘Look in vain for (linear) narrative, for anecdote, for epiphanies, for messages, for making-the world-a-better-place: the world is a mess and language is messy and the world is language and any attempt to tidy it up with poetry is falsification. There is no utopian vision…’

But what is the use of a book (or anything else, for that matter), without epiphanies and making the world a better place? I’m well aware of the messiness and meaninglessness of the world; the challenge is to tie it into some kind of plausible structure, to give yourself a reason to carry on living. Catherine Hales, by her own aims, isn’t going to do that.

So, in the end, I turn back to rabble-rousing slam poetry. Not only is it easier to understand, but it hints at the possibility of a life not based on continual self-doubt and self-examination, where it is possible to change the world rather than just passively complaining about it. I prefer my poetry weaponized:)

February 13th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Infected Mushroom, with some of those lyrics that, when heard as lyrics, sound like some kind of missing key. When written down, the magic fades into the air — so imagine this to the background of some unusually determined and driving trance:

We gonna run run run
To the cities of the future
Take what we can and bring back home

January 11th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

“Jahrelang wurde es angekündigt, jetzt ist es vom Tisch: Berlin bekommt kein flächendeckendes Wlan.” [Morgenpost]. So we’ll have to make do with freifunk

Grumbling about theatre in Berlin

November 29th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

The Tagesspiegel has a good old rant about the caution and backwardness of Berlin theatre:

All das existiert bis heute, es ist die Avantgarde von gestern und vorgestern. Wie modrige Pilze. Die Formen und Mischformen erzeugen kaum mehr Reibung, sie werden mehr oder weniger aufregend recycelt.

You want to pat the author on the back, give him a pep-talk. I don’t know nearly enough about the Berlin theatre scene to say whether it’s accurate; certainly there are few people with a positive word to say about Berlin theatre at the moment. My feeling, though, is that the big and famous theatres are always boring, in every city. The interesting stuff is going to come through newer, smaller venues, of which the article avoids much mention. HAU, for instance, seems to be the epicentre of interesting theatre in Berlin, with a constantly-changing programme that puts the bigger places to shame.

On the other hand, much of HAU’s content comes from touring companies; that might not make them the best advert for Berlin thetre.

Goth clubs in Berlin

October 10th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

[from a comment posted elsewhere]

There’s a goth club listing at http://etoile.de/; Berlin is in the section ‘PLZ-Bereich 1′. You can probably read through the genre descriptions and club addresses without needing much German.

The Kit Kat Club is — well, if you’ve had it recommended, you probably have an idea. I like it, although I’ve not been since a couple of years ago, when it was in a different venue. [I stopped going after seeing a page on their site seemingly saying that they don’t want Turks or feminists in the club. Probably it’s just an unfortunately-worded page, but it didn’t make me want to go back]

Also on the sex end of the spectrum, check out Insomnia. It’s a fetish club, with a monthly goth night called ‘angel in bondage’.

K17 is the largest and most regular goth club, with a big dose of metal and industrial. On a Friday or Saturday, they generally have four floors: one trad goth and 80s, one electro/industrial, and two small ones for metal. The venue is ugly as hell, but also huge.

If you fancy going out on a Monday night, Duncker is a lovely smallish club, with a lot of regulars and a friendly atmosphere. They (always?) have some kind of barbeque-type food in their back courtyard, and will keep going until Tuesday morning. I think there’s also a small goth market there every other sunday afternoon (http://www.darkmarket.de/).

Other places: Kato is more rock-oriented, and has lots of smallish live gigs. ACUD and Sama-Cafe are squats (perhaps legalised; I’m not sure), which do goth/wave nights. They’re incredibly cheap (to make them accessible to everybody; do pay a bit more if you can!). Expect plenty of shabby-looking punks and people out of their heads on (cheap) Sternberg beer.

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