0005 – Henry Rollins and Berlin

Berlin TV Tower, November 2023

The most important thing is to write. To write is to think. These days I’m thinking about what am I doing with my life. I’ve recently come into contact with Henry Rollins. He lives an itinerant life with no ties except to work and a phone call with a friend from childhood every Sunday. I wonder if he is motivated by fear. I feel like every artist, every writer is a romantic and then I find it strange that he’s unable to channel that into a person. Maybe the opposite is true too, that there are many artistic friends or parents for whom human relations are an art form but are probably uninterested in expressing themselves through poetry or drawing.

Perhaps it’s because of the abuse he sustained as a child. Perhaps it was due to the distance of his mother. Perhaps it’s because he’s slightly on the spectrum, by his own admission.\

Maybe that’s the answer, to find the things that sustain you. I’ve been struggling lately at coming out of my own understanding of the world. I think I have a decent idea of what sustains me: close friendships and intimate knowings and then I feel a strong alienation bubbling up when I come across people for whom that is not a need.

I think that’s why I haven’t stopped thinking of Henry Rollins. Surely, surely someone with that much heart, that much compassion would also be able (and want to) direct it to someone. He talks about relationships as like trying to hold sand. It’s not like he doesn’t like women it’s just that he seems to tire of being beholden to someone, of sharing his life.

It’s doubly strange because he spends a lot of his time on the road doing spoken words concerts and shows. Maybe it’s because it’s own his own terms but once a tour is booked, is it really? Maybe it’s because he can always answer the questions that he asks. Maybe it’s because it’s him who sets the pace.

Whatever triggers us is a good sign to look inwards. People like Henry trigger me because I couldn’t make sense of him. Maybe it’s contrast between the closeness I feel to how he thinks but also the distance from it at the same time. His writing makes sense to me and I feel I get him until I don’t.

I feel for some reason that this is male-coded. This devotion to the self, this emotional isolation. This is not to say that he’s not vulnerable or emotional, his writing most certainly is but rather it is him that is always in control. Maybe a relationship is a shared thing in which we take turns combining a narrative.

I feel like I am scraping the barrel now. If I write 750 words a day for 3.6 years then I would have a million words. I think it would be a beautiful thing.

I also spend some time thinking of Berlin and what to do about it. I went to the pharmacy and it felt like I was taking a step back in time. Everything sat in these little plastic tubs and it was dimly lit. Berlin seems old and beat up. I don’t sense the energy here but maybe it’s because I’ve been cooped up at home. Coming to Berlin is like coming to deep Europe. Oslo is somewhat it’s own thing where everyone is in a weird utopic environment and things are somewhat pretty good. You can get a good government job for 70k euros and get most of what you want in life. In Germany people work hard and it’s not quite clear what for. Maybe I’m just in Berlin and I don’t see it.

Things are broken and kind of falling down here. Everything takes a long time and is expensive. I think even the people are tired and fed up. I don’t sense energy, I don’t feel momentum. It’s just as it is. There’s a lot of good places to eat yet the moving through the city and the concrete wears on one’s soul, I think. I long for the nature yet when I am in the nature I long for the city. I think of the people in their studio apartments here checking their phone and waiting for someone to show up. I think it’s kind of sad and uninspiring. What are we going for, what are we doing? What is the grind for, what is the point?

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