13 August 1961

Archie Shepp is blowing through his sax. I’ve been a jazz collector for years and this music leads me to wakefulness. Perhaps too much genius in it? Too much fire in the flame? My nerves go bad or perhaps too good. My childhood home smiles in the background, but I’m sitting up in the plain light and the old map is sharp: Berlin was split. The thick postwar wall was not an implausible invention, not only a death sentence put off, nor did it barely mark the trench between two opposite ideologies. It drew a rough circle around a sturdy cell, self-replicated from the inside of the one and same body. A blood soaked scar sprouted overnight on the skin. It didn’t partition the landscape like a row of trees.
Peter Schneider once wrote that, soon after the very first bewilderment, that massive wall, strewn with crosses and crowns of barbed wire, faded into a sort of metaphor in the conscience of most West German people and these were not rumors. Metaphors cannot be jumped over but with the help of another metaphor. Stronger words are needed, stranger consonants and vowels from a foreign language.
Now that the wall is no longer there, the visible wall at least, what are we, David and I, trying to seek other than the thin scar left on the asphalt? Maybe some round dream of loneliness remains, or some dumb mouth awaits new words from us, wide open to the July night. We have not dangerous friends to pass on secret information to but there are so many vacant dots on this old plot that one can hardly say where and what crowds flowed past right here, and what was the last stroke of History under the lindens in full flower.
Foot steps don’t disturb one single stone of these houses today. Bombs have made them solid.


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