I'm headed to Berlin tomorrow to visit my dearest, oldest friend. I've had barely a minute to give any thought to this trip (suggestions welcome!). This morning I reflected on what I know about Berlin, and the atmosphere and images I associate with it. I came up with exactly three points of reference, all related, and all crucially important to my nostalgic aesthetic and development as an admittedly sentimental person. The first is the video for U2's Stay (Far Away, So Close!)-- the song's opening bars catapult me back to being 13. The next is "Wings of Desire," the heartstoppingly beautiful Wim Wenders film that inspired this video (which Wenders in turn directed). And finally, Mark Doty's poem "The Wings," which refers to the film. The entire poem, which is worth seeking out (as is the entire book) is available here (and starts on page 39). For now, I'll excerpt the paggasge that, thanks to Ellen, has been etched in my mind. I find myself refering to it constantly, like some mantra. The image above, of the angel and the reader in the library, is from the scene Doty describes, and which you can see here.
...Some days things yield
such grace and complexity that what we see
seems offered. I can't stop thinking
about the German film in which the angels
--who exist outside of time and thus long
for things that take place--
love most of all human stories,
the way we tell ourselves what we dread or wish.
Of all our locations
their favorite is the library;
the director pictures them perched
on the balustrades, clustering
on the stairs, bent over
the solitary readers as if to urge us on, to say Here,
have you looked here yet?
-From "The Wings" by Mark Doty