London, probably 1978 (I remember a lot of regal souvenirs being sold). Rain, lots of rain. We stayed where we could afford it: a run-down hostel in Earls’s Court. Most of the other guests were, we found out, there for the long run. Eating in an all-you-can-eat pizzeria somewhere near Chelsea (before Chelsea became the current Chelsea). But buying records up and down Tottenham Court Road. Gawked at the punks: there was not a lot of them, but we had not seen that kind of thing back home, yet. I did see a girl with spiky black hair and weird piercings that fall, right here in Copenhagen. London before Cool Brittania. The homeless sleeping in doorways around Piccadilly Square (but perhaps they still do?) Gray and wet, closer to the postwar years than to the glitter that finance capital brought later. And now this book that I should probably buy: Souvenir.

‘Rien faire comme une bête, lying on the water and look peacefully into the heavens, “being, nothing else, without any further determination and fulfillment” might step in place of process, doing, fulfilling, and so truly deliver the promise of dialectical logic, of culminating in its origin. None of the abstract concepts comes closer to the fulfilled utopia than that of eternal peace.’

Theodor Adorno

‘Less often remarked upon, however, is the fact that Sebald’s books are virtually impossible to remember precisely, which is only an apparent paradox given that the main theme in his work is memory.’

Near-Coincidences: Digression and the Literature of the Age of the Internet

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrown
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

Adam Zagajewsky

‘To be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world – and at the same time that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything we are.’

— Marshall Berman

‘We could call this strange geography created by technology “AirSpace.” It’s the realm of coffee shops, bars, startup offices, and co-live / work spaces that share the same hallmarks everywhere you go: a profusion of symbols of comfort and quality, at least to a certain connoisseurial mindset. Minimalist furniture. Craft beer and avocado toast. Reclaimed wood. Industrial lighting. Cortados. Fast internet. The homogeneity of these spaces means that traveling between them is frictionless, a value that Silicon Valley prizes and cultural influencers like Schwarzmann take advantage of. Changing places can be as painless as reloading a website. You might not even realize you’re not where you started.’

Welcome to AirSpace

‘The most tragic form of loss isn’t the loss of security; it’s the loss of the capacity to imagine that things could be different.’

— Ernst Bloch

© Henning Bertram 2023