Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Berlin Diaries: Stones

The Berlin Diaries: Stones

I look out to the sea of stones, rising and falling in front of me.

If I am honest I am not sure what I make of them and the fact that to my eyes, in the dull light of a grey afternoon in Berlin, they look almost ugly. Certainly they do not make my heart stop like the willow in Budapest.

Excited Tour Guide! says that the Designer has refused to explain what the piece means and then gives us a few versions of possible interpretations which have been suggested (her favourite being that the differing heights of stones represent layers of anti-semitism, culminating with the stones which tower above human height representing the Holocaust).

And then we are told to walk through, making sure we stay in a straight line given how easy it is to get lost within them.

I begin walking just as the first spots of rain begin to fall. I notice that some teenage boys are standing on some of the stones further along, just as tourists brandish cameras, posing in front of the stones.

Do they smile in the photos? Look at my holiday snaps - here's me smiling at a memorial for six million dead.

The thought loops around my mind as I walk further until the stones obscure everyone and everything around me, the path unsteady rising and falling beneath my feet.

The rain starts to become heavier, the path harder, the light darker.

And trapped between the stones, following this path, I am caught entirely unawares.

I do not know what this memorial is about. I could theorise, of course I could, but that would be intellectual posturing. A flippant, well worded, lie.

But I feel this. I feel it so much that it hurts. And there, just out of reach, on the periphery of my ability to articulate I, for that fleeting moment, understand.

I come out of the other side blinking in the grey light and, suddenly cold, wrap my scarf around my head, wondering where it is possible to go from here.

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