A photo of a crystal sent to me, circa 2018
I’m here to rant about people in big cities. For all the capitals I’ve visited or have some understanding of: Berlin, London, New York, Melbourne etc the idea of the city, how one should be in it has a distinct hold on people. It is said that we end up as the average of the five people we spend most time with but what of the crowds we hang around?
I have a fear that I will be in a bubble within a bubble. You have the greater German culture in Germany then you have the expat bubble within Berlin and then you have what I find myself in right now, a steady loving relationship within that chaotic midst. It’s like three levels down and I feel lucky but also very out of place. Like I’m living my best trad life in the backroom of a Berlin club which itself is a backroom of a Greater German Pastoral Landscape.
Can I just say that I love writing? I love how the words spill out and how my dexterity is only increasing with each day I practice. I haven’t edited anything, maybe that’s the nice part. It’s just a constant word vomit, welcome to my vomitorium. Did you know that old pubs in Germany still have that? These urinals at the height of your face? They even have handles so you can steady yourself while you disgorge whatever poison you ingested.
One of the things that caught my attention with my girlfriend is that she said she doesn’t really drink. That makes sense to me. It’s been a long road but I’ve come to conclusion that alcohol doesn’t do that much good for my life and it is only with the closest of friends on the bluest of moons that I would consider it is worth doing. I’d like to stay sober through it all. I want to witness it all.
But coming back to the main point. I think that in Berlin there’s this notion of exploration and reckless abandon. Push open the box and see what’s inside. Which is great and all but I don’t think everyone can deal with what happens. Maybe that’s part of it, I don’t know. A says “don’t give yourself bad memories on purpose” and I think there’s truth to that. Be careful, especially in hostile environments. Go forth and roll the dice but keep your wits about you.
I can see my brother becoming a bit tired of that. Maybe having fun is about just having fun and not having to keep your wits about you all the time. In the dating world here it’s hard to rely on anyone. There’s a conservative voice in me that’s saying that men are taking advantage of an open notion of relationships here in Berlin and that women have either two choices: play along in their own way or not play at all. That is the standard here.
It can be tiring to swim against the stream, extremely tiring. This is why I must leave Norway and funnily enough that may be the reason why people leave Berlin. That there is a mainstream within expat culture (Oh, how I HATE that term. Such a horrible word) but yes, there’s a mainstream thinking within expat culture of low stakes, low ambition experimentation. I don’t get it. Maybe it’s because I refuse to get it. I hate, hate that response of ‘Oh, it’s Berlin’. Babe, where’s your agency? Where’s the sword that cuts through the dark? Where’s the claim that you are doing what you want?
Maybe it’s just a calm acknowledgement of ‘the state of things’. I’ve been guilty of it too. “It’s just Oslo” when things haven’t gone my way. I don’t get why everyone laments all the time and shrugs their shoulders. Fuck the lamentations. I didn’t come here to mourn a death, I came here to live.
I quote again that “the difference between a professional and an amateur is an understanding of constraints”. Yes, there is a landscape of Berlin. Yes, there are social mores that a lot of people buy into sometimes subconsciously because they don’t know anything else or aren’t brave enough to believe anything else. But ok. Let’s be ok with that.
Just as how Visa looked at the landscape of Twitter all those years ago and saw a lot of hate and vitriol, he decided to earnestpost. His dedication and consistency in doing that created a scene and from that scene birthed a community of people doing interesting things with compassion. Maybe TPOT is too hippycoded for me but it’s given me a lot of life. It’s given me a home and an inspiration.
Taleb has this idea of the intransigent minority. Where a minority digs their heels so deep that they force the world around them to change due to their stubbornness. Think of Halal food or vegans and how Oatly is so prevalent that now people ask at cafés what kind of milk you would like.
A small number of people believing something can really change the world. That’s probably good fodder for another essay: the power of the few. I could rope in some 1000 fan ideas by Kevin Kelly too.
The thing about being a stubborn mf is that your stubbornness is not sustainable if it is based out of fear or if it is actually negative. You can’t go through the world hating stuff because that takes a bit of your soul every time you tap into that energy. It collapses, it doesn’t build. Yes, you can be in opposition to things, yes you have to fight but make sure to fight with l-o-v-e.
In my case, I’ve been blessed by being treated very well. With attention, consideration and affection. I haven’t always been able to uphold certain things that I deem valuable but I know that I must try and keep trying.
I don’t believe in apathy when in comes to me or to others. I believe in seeing things straight and leading with the heart. I don’t believe in not caring, I believe in attending to a moment, to a person and holding them close. I have been careless but I don’t believe in carelessness. I want to care. I think we all do.