August 15th, 2005

operesque

Nature-in-culture, culture-in-nature



Lots of nature-in-culture, culture-in-nature stuff going on this weekend:

Friday: Berlin Zoo.
Sunday: Schloss Lanke, where a "future folk" music festival was going on in a crumbling former mental asylum on the Obersee. I liked the pine huts people were staying in (slats, a mosquito net, an opaque plastic wraparound shell). And it was good to bump into Horton Jupiter, an old acquaintance from years back.

Because I lack the Berliners' capacity for laying back in a cloud of dope smoke and whiling away endless hours chattering or showing off bobo kids, I took along a book, "Japan At Play" (Routledge). While the DJs played "demon child" type stuff (like The Moles' "Mickey Macaroni" from Residents' offshoot album Demons Dance Alone), I sat reading stuff like:

"French sociologist Roger Caillois... makes a very broad definition of human play identifying just four different types: agon (competition), alea (chance), mimicry (simulation), ilinx (vertigo). To this categorization Yoshida Mitsukuni added one further Japanese category: play of seasons, which refers to activities like the tea ceremony, flower arranging and moon viewing, which express elements of nature in refined and highly cultivated forms".

The Jeremy Clarke installation in a nearby oasthouse—dozens of Atari STs playing an odd, discordant, compelling MiniMoog symphony—was impressive, but almost upstaged by a shrieky nest of baby swallows in the rafters. Hisae and I quickly got tired of the "future folk" and set off on a ten kilometer hike through the forest, beating sticks in rhythm to keep the pace. (By the way, if you love nature, Schloss Lanke is on the market for half a million euros, the price of a two bedroom flat in Islington.)