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Filofax blues April 8, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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I’m having post traumatic stress disorder syndrome. I think. I’m overcome with regret. I should never have bought those filofax pages.

Are Mr. and Mrs. Filofax, presuming it was just such a couple that invented the filofax phenomenon, Austrian? (I like, for babyish comic effect, to pronounce the first syllable of Austrian ‘awe’. I amused myself for a whole evening once with an unknown couple in a Berlin bar by accusing them of being Awestrian when they were from round the corner. They put up with me very charitably, including when I began to tell the exceedingly nice and kind gentleman of the couple that he wasn’t nearly nice enough to his very nice girlfriend. She assured me all the while he was a total angel but I was having none of it.) Because sifting through all the pap pages I got with my filofax pages – the ones that go straight in the recycling plastic bag – is one fanfaring Schulferien Österreich. Erm, aber how quickly do the words ‘egal’ and ‘Scheiße’ now come to mind? (I wonder what Steiermark’s like at this time of year.)

But back to the regrets. Nothing to do with a late-night visit to Melancholie and, I repeat, having to stand in a queue for half an hour to get in. Indeed, the only Melancholie that exhibition brought on was a) it wasn’t nearly gloomy enough and b) the Neue Nationale Gallerie seemed to have quadrupled in size since I was last there. My heart sank as I rounded every corner only to see art disappearing off into the distance before me. Oh, while I’m here, could Picasso just fuck right off? In the blurb next to some Picasso or other, there was an excerpt from a letter he’d written. In my fury, I chose not to make a better note of it, so my version could quite easily be utterly mendacious, but it went something along the lines of, “Don’t forget I am a Spaniard, and we Spaniards love melancholy.” No you don’t, you dead arse. Spaniards don’t at all love gloom. And know nothing about it. As didn’t you. So just shut the total hell right up. Now on the gloom front, Munch excelled himself, I thought. An awfully good performance from Edvard. He knew a thing or two about gloom. And being barking. Van Gogh provided the only thing of pure, sheer, total, utter beauty for me, but I’m a colour slut. Otherwise, I think I need to take up painting in time for Melancholie II. The skulls and webbed bits of animal turned me off within minutes.

But where were we? Melancholy. Ah, yes, Mr. and Mrs. Filofax. No, the regrets are seeing, along with the Awestrian school holidays and Lithuanian weights and measurements, all the events I’ve already missed this year. And not just in Awestria. No, right here in Berlin. The Messen und Ausstellungen 2006 (Alle Angaben ohne Gewähr, by the way, before the litigious among you see a quick euro in this) informed me, with undisguised cruelty, that I have missed the HomeTech – Internationale Messe für Hausgeräte (Trade Fair for Household Appliances, for the uninitiated) and, even more tragically, back in February, admittedly in Bremen aber immerhin, fish international.

Maybe 2006 will be shit after all…


Melancholy March 3, 2006

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You can’t beat a nice bit of gloom sometimes. And all the more so when it’s inspired a whole lovely exhibition that I’ll dash to the second I get the chance (and which I highly recommend to everyone. No doubt I’m the last person in Berlin to have discovered it, but folk from abroad, if you read this, sell your internal organs, if necessary, to get here and have a look). The blurb warns us that, “A separate section of the exhibition looks at late 19th century scientific exploration of melancholy as a phenomenon positioned between insanity and genius”. I like the idea of positioning emotions. I had my nerves measured by a doctor once, so it’s not as bonkers as it sounds. Anyway, what better way to spend some leisure time than letting my eyes feast on gloom? I love gloom. Not gloomy gloom, as such. And not a gloom that could be called depression, or even, necessarily, sadness. No, it’s a happy sort of gloom. A comforting gloom. A kitchen-sink gloom. A mix of worry, despair and indifference which combine to concoct a sort of bemusement that has me Slavically shrugging, with a wry smile, of course, at my inescapable fate.

I think this type of gloom is awfully good for one. Not if it spirals out of control and makes you do bonkers things like jump off buildings, go to Wigan (for example) to find yourself or enjoy French films with a fucking annoying angst-ridden and troubled teenager who sets fire to things that you’re meant to feel sorry for. No, not that type. I mean a gloom-laden realisation – I think it hits hardest at about 33 – that this is life, it ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, that, indeed, many of our fellow humans are execrable cunts, it’s all a bit of a struggle and YET, and yet, this is such a happy realisation. Yes, this is as good as it gets, perhaps. And d’you know what? That’s pretty OK. Yes, there are the execrable cunts, but they’re only a fairly huge majority of our fellow man, which still leaves a nicely whopping minority of wonderful folk. (You only actually need about two or three of these in any one lifetime, by my rough calculation (after half a nanosecond of uncorroborated research).) And settling, not in a resigned way, or in a way that means you never have to make any effort at anything ever again, but settling for the fact that maybe grown-upness has struck, that you’re probably never going to go to bed with Frédéric Deltour and that life isn’t going to be one long succession of impossibly good parties, acute sensations, yachts, truffles, sex and beauty but rather a bit of a plod with quite a lot of drudgery but then also a fair dollop of comfort and jolly times thrown in, well, that’s not a bad settlement.

So I highly recommend a nice bit of gloom. If you’ve just done something utterly ludicrous like falling in love and have just gone out on your first joint saucepan-shoppery, well, enjoy it while it lasts, of course, but hurry up and get to the difficult bits. They’re so much more fun. If you’ve won the lottery and are currently doing your training at Star City for that trip into space that was a snip at $75 million, well, hurry up and piss the rest up the wall too so you can get onto the anguish, torture and recriminations of knowing you’ve blown it. I don’t want to discourage happiness altogether, of course, but strive for a bit of gloomy contentedness. As the artists prove, there’s so much to be learnt from the hard times.