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Welcome to the newsletter of kollektiv individualismus! Please click here for the german version.
On with number two. A certain topic and some music, that’s what we had planned for our monthly newsletter. The first issue was sent out in May, when we were all very impressed by Corona, could breathe a sigh of relief, and wrote about starting over. We are still curious to hear from you whether you enjoyed it. Thank you for all the feedback we have already received, we are very happy about that.
We’re all terribly plagued and annoyed by this imposition called Corona (right?), so we’re relaxing a bit on this front and trying to create a Corona-free edition. Now let’s look together at a very peculiar relationship that we all know, namely how and where we live where and where we escape to when everything becomes too much for us. We are sending this second issue of lettre under the title city escape. Voilà. Good music is of course also included (further down and in the newsletter playlist) Have fun!
We two authors of this newsletter have experienced the peak phase of the Corona crisis is completely different living situations. One stayed in his flat in Berlin, the other escaped the city and spent the days more or less in the countryside, a few kilometres from Hamburg. So we deliberately asked ourselves where and with whom we wanted to spend this probably unique time. That place suddenly became so relevant.
Suddenly we really had to be at home and „live“ there. Suddenly, most of our lives actually took place at home and not, as usual, outside of it. Can you actually imagine that? In the past, generations spent most of their lives at home. Today, for many, this is an exceptional state that is hard to bear. The corona pandemic has condemned the modern nomad (us) to immobility. What does that do to us? How and where do we really want to live? We were forced to deal more intensively with that question. The longer we think about it, the more we get lost in a labyrinth of thoughts and mind games. We want to try to structure this a bit and play our idea ping-pong in three sets: City – Countryside – Escape.
A friend once told me that Lisbon, OH by Bon Iver is the perfect first song for almost any mixtape. He’s right. It’s some kind of an inner peace catalyst, the pep talk of any playlist. The sirens, the blips, and beeps, the weird chords at the beginning have something so mechanical, synthetic, and captivating. A chord dissolves this corset at exactly the right moment. It’s an incredible satisfaction. The listener will now turn to your mixtape with an appropriate attention. Believe me!
But on to the gentleman we’re supposed to be talking about, Justin Vernon, formally known as Bon Iver. We’ll assume that no further introduction is necessary at this point. But what some may not know: Justin Vernon comes from the deep countryside of Wisconsin and lives to this day in the small and quiet town of Eau Claire, which makes him so interesting for this lettre. He has deliberately, despite rising Instagram Follower numbers, decided against his own urbanization. Moreover, Vernon tries to use his success to give something back to the community: He curates a festival in the city, has the big names in the industry appear in his studio, gives the grandiose film Give Me Liberty a soundtrack and tries to help artists and cultural workers in the region. Pitchfork also visited him last year and wrote a nice story about it. Culture and urban exodus, so it fits together after all. That’s reassuring.
We now also want to use Lisbon,OH to introduce a tiny little miniature Bon Iver mixtape. It will be followed by Minnesota, WI, Skinny Love, and 33 „GOD“. A little journey through the musical world of Bon Iver. A little homage to the god of vocoder and, in our minds, probably the greatest pop artist of our time.
Cities are something absolutely fascinating. 77% of Germans live in cities. Cities live with the paradox that one is never alone and yet often feels alone, as it was beautifully written on zeit.de.
Abstraction: Condensed diversity as a unity. A totally contradictory conglomerate of the most diverse actors and functions, interconnected and dependent on each other in the smallest of spaces. A colourful potpourri. We observe all sorts of impossible things (lack of broadband, broken schools and bicycle paths, traffic jams, streets full of avalanches, littered parks, crime, sluggish energy turnaround, etc.) that suddenly become possible in concrete spaces a.k.a. neighborhoods. In other words, the city of today is actually a laboratory of transformation: macro-structures of society that must somehow function in the microcosm of the city. We have to cope with each other and that’s how city life is organized. From a certain level of disorder, order emerges in the system (cyberneticists say „order from noise“). Conversely, order also enables a level of disorder: we can live together peacefully in the city. It is only because we have an ordering structure that gives us stability that we can live out so many differences in political attitudes, people, religions, sexual orientations, etc.
Concretization: If the city can solve problems, it means: forget the UN, forget Trump and other unscrupulous jerks – they will not solve your problems. Get out on the streets and do something! Demand climate justice, fight against racism, equality, and solidarity. Cities will drive change.
Citylife in Paris, 2018
Week after week we immerse ourselves in this wonderful world that the city throws at our feet. We sweat in small concert halls, sit in renowned theatres and hip art house cinemas or eat around the world three times in one day. We enjoy it all, we would say, sometimes we even lose the sense of how much culture we consume (yes, consuming is often the right word here, but this is a completely different newsletter).
An exciting thought, which is also taken up in the article linked above: „Free time is spent. People consume the city, just as they consume each other.“
When I watched the wonderful film Caro Diario by Nanni Moretti (1993) with my girlfriend and I saw him driving his Vespa through a deserted Rome, I heard a song I knew from my childhood: Batonga by the Beninese-French singer Angélique Kidjo. Even though I didn’t know what was sung (which is often the case), I loved this song and memorized the cover of the album Logozo. Batonga inevitably reminds me of the powerful hi-fi system in the living room at that time and dancing on the thick red carpet as kids. The song is so cool, casual and driving. Highly recommended.
By the way, the same goes for Caro Diario, a film that is a journey of self-discovery. What’s it about? At first, I wondered if it was even about something. Because first of all, it seems to be three movies in one. We roam the hot streets of Rome with Moretti (and his Vespa) and he refuses to find much beauty in this most beautiful of cities. Then we flee the city, visit the tiny islands off Calabria and fail to find much serenity, even though the place just screams for it. In the third part, we get comically serious again about the absurdity of our lives. Often the filmmaker seems to be on a journey without a destination. Sympathetic.
There is a scene in the film where the narrative is omitted and we follow Moretti to the place outside Rome where the poet and film director Pier Paolo Pasolini was murdered in November 1975. Very minimalist shots filmed behind the Vespa, edited to an intoxicating improvisation by Keith Jarrett. A moment of light, movement, rhythm, flickering shapes, and silence. The Köln Concert and the most successful solo jazz album ever.
Moretti in Rome, 1993
We long for the peace of the village, we want to be outside and not locked up in apartments, we want to go into the forest and not into boring city parks, not waste our time on traffic lights. Or do we, who so often see ourselves as hyperdynamic and -adaptable digital natives and globetrotters, realize that the world in the city is increasingly turning too fast for us too?
A surrender, then? Perhaps more a striving for the original, a longing for the beauty of simplicity in a certain way. An escape from urban anonymity in search of a place where one actually lives, instead of just staying there.
We begin to question whether the city is really the only conceivable reality for us. For many of us, the village seems like a kind of apocalyptic end-of-life stop. There live bourgeoisie or those who secretly want to become one. Beyond these prejudices, however, you can quickly get on your bike in the village and start riding or just jump into the lake that is just around the corner. You can be loud because your next neighbor is not sitting behind the living room wall or you can go shopping in farm shops for organic and regional products. With a little creativity, you can even transfer quite a lot of city features to country life, preferably without taking all the bugs with you.
Countrylife in France, 2020
Those who have been following us for a while should know it, the soundtrack of the week. Since 2016 we have been selecting and sharing 52,1429 times a year (sometimes 52, sometimes 53!) a particularly listenable, hip or interesting track. In a way, the playlist of all SdW is a nice overview of favorite music. We admit, currently we do not always manage to deliver weekly, but we are working on it. Recently, the Belgian power woman Angèle was our SdW. Why she impresses, although it is not really Felix music, you can read here. Angèle’s music is smart, poppy, a little bit sad, and at the same time a little bit danceable and therefore stands for our time.
Felix in Bourgundy, 2020
Now what? Pack your bags, take down the furniture and go? Has the city had its day, or is the lust for the country, the longing of the city dwellers, driven by something else? A subliminal striving for complexity reduction and simplicity? Perhaps simply a possible answer to the search for the good life?
Would we even be able to live in the country? Knowing on Mondays what you want to eat on Thursdays so that you don’t have to rush to the supermarket in the next village again on Wednesday. Let’s not fool ourselves. Although almost half of those surveyed would like to move to the countryside and the evoked urban exodus was already a mega essay topic at school, very few of them end up there. Fantastic yes, but please only for a weekend: Smell the hay and relax.
Instead, rather a short escape and then bring a piece of nature to the city: Monstera or a rooftop garden. We (young people) enjoy the diversity of the city – our greatest asset, the starting point for our enormous mobility, the breeding ground of our culture, our being, or for experiments like this newsletter. Wouldn’t it be a bit naive, maybe even fatal, to simply throw all that overboard? Peace, a well-known neighbor, village gossip,(partly bizarre) customs, leisure time without paying anything. At the very least, it would require the courage to take risks, to be disappointed and to make sacrifices. Really? The question could also be whether that diversity is inevitably tied to the urban space. And, can’t we pursue our desires, the really important things, regardless of location anyway?
Where do we go next and what happens next? We are not able to predict that, but thinking about it is fun and in the end, we are the ones who create the urban-rural escape. Let’s set ourselves in motion! Let us design. The corona pandemic is likely to change our cities forever and will also change our high level of mobility. And perhaps we will be drawn out into the countryside in the long term after all. Here’s to a cold drink!
Jan & Felix
Of course this song should not be missing in such a lettre! Die Höchste Eisenbahn are wonderful storytellers. Poetic, often melodramatic lyrics, wonderful pictures, lots of kitsch but cleverly packed and told all the more beautifully.
Raus aufs Land is actually about Kai and how Kai steals the singers girlfriend. But if you put Kai aside, the story of a failed city escape is told here.
Und hier gibt es keine Busse
Und die Landluft macht uns so frei
Und ich liebe Autofahren
Und du liebst inzwischen Kai
Ist es das was du immer wolltest, was dir immer so stank?
In unserer Zwei-Zimmerwohnung, meintest du das mit raus aufs Land?
There it is again, this discord.
This was our second newsletter. We hope you enjoyed it. We are happy about feedback, possible recommendation, and also about new subscriptions. In fact, no one else will know about this newsletter because we do not run any ads. So it remains only your recommendation. As the saying goes: Subscribe now. The email to the lettre is firstname.lastname@example.org. By the way, you can also check out our website. Nice place to hang out at. Stay tuned.
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