Tuesday, November 22, 2005


One more cool quote before I get on the plane

The wife and I are headed out to frigid Ohio before too long, and so posting won't be too easy as I travel three quarters of the way across our country. So I thought I'd leave y'all (see? I'm sounding more Ohio already) with one more cool quote.

As I plow through the rest of the books on TIME magazine's 10 Best Graphic Novels, I've been spending some time in Weimar Germany (circa 1929) courtesy of Jason Lutes' powerful BERLIN: CITY OF STONES. It's a book worthy of its praise - capturing the vista of Berlin in that era, making me feel like I'm really there. I can hear the rumble and bells of street cars. I can hear music and feel the snow on my cheeks (which, of course, prepares me to head home). All of which is pretty cool for a black and white comic.

The plot of Lutes' book follows a journalist and an art student through the era, when the German communist party fought tooth and nail with what would become the Nazis for control of the German population's hearts and minds. Lutes has gone out of his way to capture every voice - from the Jewish families and merchants, as well as intellectuals and homosexuals who would be silenced a few short years later, to the oppressors themselves. His protagonist, Kurt Severing, is a intellectual newspaperman who tries to stay above the cultural and political fray, but finds this increasingly difficult and vexing.

Good stuff.

Anyway, about halfway through, Marthe Muller, the art student who takes up a good part of the narrative, comments on her desire to stay separate from the movements that dominate her time politically and artistically. She wants to know nothing of expressionism and nothing of fascism. Whatever. What she has to say kicks home the way we all feel sometimes when the noise of the world gets too loud:

"There's a lot for me to learn, but I don't want to know any of it! I don't want to see the world converging towards a vanishing point! I don't want to understand people in terms of their skeletal structure or the muscle group that controls their ability to smile. I can't reconcile those things with what I see . . . . Well, not what I see. More what I feel. But for me, those things are not so far apart."

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

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