Berlin

It's tradition, now, for me to take a holiday at the end of January. Between the academic calendar (which, by the way, is different in Scotland from England, but some schools up here use the English system, because of course they do), and then the various festivals and what have you that really just can't be missed, the end of January/beginning of February is about when it has to be done.

So, this last week, I went to Berlin.

20. *Christy Moore, Live at the Point (album, 1994)
21. DDR Museum, Berlin
22. German Museum of Espionage, Berlin
23. *Bellowhead, Hedonism (album, 2012)
24. Joan Lindsay, Picnic at Hanging Rock (novel, 1967)
25. Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin

(This is where I wonder what counts, you know, in terms of adding things to a media log. I want to mention exhibitions - which is why the DDR (i.e. East Germany) Museum, the Espionage Museum, and the museum at Checkpoint Charlie are here - but I also wandered up the East Side Gallery, saw things like the Brandenburg Gate, the various monuments around the Tiergarten and outside the Riechstag, stuck my head inside the Academy of Art... but this is pure housekeeping. I still haven't decided whether/how to add podcasts to the list. Rest assured, much walking occurred; many interesting things were seen. Berlin is great.)

The biggest thing I learned from the above is that museums have really come on in the last fifty years, and that the artistry of telling an interactive, historical story is underrecognised and extremely impressive. (How do I love thee, National Museum of Scotland; let me count the ways.) The standout here was the DDR museum which managed all that and a shedload of emotional resonance, in multiple languages. The Espionage museum was great right up until it devolved into James Bond stanning. Checkpoint Charlie could do with a revamp, to be sure, but it's still pretty impressive that the museum came into existence in 1962. What do you call a museum if it's of the present?

I have more thoughts about the collective storytelling of Berlin about itself, but they probably need to percolate a bit longer before they become anything useful. Right now, it seems to be a case of, "Here are the scars: we have lived through worse than this."

People have been telling me for weeks that I need to see the film of Picnic at Hanging Rock; I am sure it is great, but the best thing about Joan Lindsay's book is undoubtedly the voice it's written in. This is how I learned that "Tasmanian gothic" is a thing; if anyone has any more recommendations, sling them my way, because it's a tangent I'm very willing to follow.

Amongst all the new things, I retreated into my musical comfort zone. Christy Moore telling stories. Live at the Point is one of my all-time favourite albums. Seek it out.