Saturday, December 18, 2004

Guten abend 

From an EasyInternetCafé™ near Zoo Station, Berlin:

EasyInternetCafé™ is a great European invention: a coin-operated Internet cafe. Costs only two Euros per hour—sure, that's what, ten American dollars, but still, compare Kinkos! And naturally, where you have access to information, you want acccess to caffeine; as true in in the 21st Century as it was in 18th Century London. In the US, the caffeine that comes with your bytestream generally comes burned, as at Starbucks, or faux European, as everywhere else. And the last time I was in Berlin, it was just the same: Espresso, little pastries... But in 2004, the Europeans have taken globalization to heights undreamed of in America: Every EasyInternetCafé™ now has an on-site Dunkin' Donuts! Tell me it's not a great continent!

Anyhow, I just took the train in from Paris—and it wasn't on time! Rim shot. Thanks, I'll be here all week—or as long as it takes me to learn this German keyboard! As Groucho Marx said: Put it in a box—it'll never get there in brackets. Because I can't *£%T&"*$& find them!

But seriously folks...

I went over to Unter den Linden this afternoon. Past the Stalinist weddingcake architecture of the Russian embassy, past the Hotel Adlon, where Goering and his posse once chilled, through the Brandenburg gate, and down a path into the Tiergarten which, unlike, say, Central Park, is not a park or a lawn, but a forest, and quite a dark one; for a moment, the Tiergarten seemed a small survival, a remnant of the urwald that once covered Europe, but of course it's third or fourth growth: 1945 would have blown down all the trees in its path.

When the path through the Tiergarten opens onto the city again, there is the Reichstag. I waited in a long line to get in, and had plenty of time to contemplate
the Corinthian columns, the metal motto ("Dem Deutchen Volke") across the plinth, and under the plinth, three initials&emdash;FIII,WI, WII. Three emperors, the last ("Wilhelm II") the last of his line, and the last ruler of an empire that no longer exists on any map, and perhaps not even any culture: Prussia. After unification, of course, the Germans hired Norman Foster, the great architect, to make the building fit for democratic uses, which he did,
, by placing a transparent dome over the deliberative chambers. Within the dome, there is a wooden, spiral staircase that leads to a platform at the top. So, the people can climb, figuratively and literally, above the people's house. They can look up at the sky, and look down at, and on, their representatives at work.

I'd hoped to get into the Reichstag again, and climb up to the top of the dome, but the line was too long and it was too cold. So I walked back to the Brandenburg gate, and stopped to read the historical plaque.

Two words jumped out: Massenmord and Katastrophe. Nothing new under the sun.

No political institution is forever, is it? And human evil always endures.
Wansee is not just a stop on the U-Bahn...

So, our Constitution, with its Bill of Rights, its checks and Balances, could be no more permanent than the Prussian Empire—or the Roman Republic. And evil, ever changing and never changing, reproduces by taking the human faces, and the human hosts, appropriate to its time. Leading me to recommend to you, once again, the work of M. Scott Peck: People of the Lie (POTL). In examining evil, Peck comes to three conclusions, which are certainly relevant when thinking about the thirties, and may be relevant today. (1) The evil can be recognized by their pervasive, promiscuous lying. Lying is central to their identity. (2) The evil, like all of us, surround themselves with people who are like them. They cluster. And, not relevant to the thirties, but perhaps relevant today, (3) the evil congregate in churches, as a form of protective coloration. (Not to say that all, or even a significant minority of the churchgoing are evil; indeed, it is because most are good that the evil find protective coloration there.)

And yet I love Berlin...

So, good night...

corrente SBL - New Location
~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
~ current ~

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]


copyright 2003-2010

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?