Berlin has in many ways become a capital of deterritorialized culture, a base for DJs and curators whose jetsetting lifestyle is indeed a "bizarre phenomenon". If hauntology depends upon the way that very specific places – Burial's South London Boroughs, for instance – are stained with particular times, then the affect that underlies minimal might be characterised as nomadalgia: a lack of sense of place, a drift through club or salon spaces that, like franchise coffee bars, could be anywhere.Quite possibly as he was writing this, a British friend and I were busy slagging off Germany for not incubating any place-specific cultural idiosyncracies; there is nothing being created here that is innately of here, that couldn't be found in any number of other cities. I've met my fair share of creative types around both Berlin and Hamburg, but they're all either transients or have their ambitions and attentions focused elsewhere. Berlin in particular functions less as an artistic cauldron than a boho crossroads, a city-sized airport lounge where people encounter each other, debate ideas, exchange contacts, and then hustle off to where ever the real action is.
The Berlin mythology that seduces so many (Bowie & Pop, the Birthday Party, Blixa Bargeld, and Bruno Ganz with wings) was founded on an antagonism that no longer exists. Following the collapse of communism, it seems Germany swapped its aphasia for amnesia, forgetting how to speak as Germans, opting instead to speak as Europeans. Combine this erosion of self with the gentrification forced by an influx of "international 'creatives'," attracted to Berlin's cheap rents and scuzzy cachet (now minus any genuine danger) - that makes for one anonymously monochromatic playground. If this could be anywhere, then why be here?
* * *
Elsewhere in the blogosphere, an unexpectedly melodramatic exchange over at The End Times has Dan apparently "consider[ing] packing it all in." I'll assume the best: that this is a sarcastic jab at the defensive hysteria into which the conversation descended. As self-aware and ludicrously well-read as he is, surely Dan's not going to close up shop because of one dilettante with all the good grace, objective reason, and eloquence of a teenager who discovered Sylvia Plath and Garden State at the same time.
Nor should my second comment be misread as some P.C. plea for civility & offensensitivity. Wasting as much time I do online, I see way too many comment threads descend into coke-head-aggressive lobotomite name-calling of the "Fuck you!"/"No, fuck you!" variety. Reading Dan's deletion of the controversial link and denial of an ad hominem attack, it was refreshing to see someone who'll cool the rhetoric and commit to common courtesy to keep the conversation going while leaving identity out of it, in hopes that it doesn't come to shrill Stuart Smalley-esque self-affirmation and oblivious hypocrisy (e.g. "I'm hurt!"/"I'm strong!" and "I'm classless!"/"So what if I'm bourgeois?").
Didn't work that time, though, did it? Better luck tomorrow, Dan.
(*) Despite being a laptop musician, Tim Hecker's music is sufficiently vague, degraded, hauntological that I'd shelve him between Philip Jeck and My Bloody Valentine, not alongside Hawtin or RIchard D. James.