»È genuino«, E. reportedly said to N. after first having met me in that dim-lit bar in Kreuzberg. How’s that for a compliment?
I find that word so strange: genuino, genuine, genuin. I use it once in Venice while we stroll through the bizarre maze of narrow streets and canals that come in a colour which I have only ever seen in the waters of that place: »I come here and face conventional beauty and I genuinely and unironically enjoy it«, I kick off another of my corny jokes. »I don’t think they’ll let me back into Berlin after that.«
Everyone laughs, and it really is funny because it is true. Or whatever.
Not that my perception isn’t shaped by what I lived through. Over drinks (birra grrrande for me, ssspritz for anyone else) I tell C. how I love how visibly the historicity of its culture is inscribed in the city’s architecture. I grew up near Hamburg, a city with more bridges but less historical buildings than Venice, I explain to her as if she doesn’t know. Being near water makes me feel at home, being able to sense a past in what I see is fascinatingly alienating.
Venice is weird as fuck.
I mean what the fuck, right?
Now, I wouldn’t consider myself to be genuino. I think the concept is inherently flawed. I prefer different ones. I try to apply them wherever possible. But being genuine? What about that state of suspension?
Yet, here I am on a boat marvelling at the sun’s fragmented reflection in the smelly waters of Venice, enjoying the fuck out of it. What is that but the beginning of a wonderful identity crisis?
But maybe, yet again, I have to reconsider all that.
I take many photos in those few days. Of N. and D. who want to revisit some place so badly we have to walk for almost an hour to just take some pictures of them sitting in plastic chairs like they did two years ago. Of that weird (accidentally?) seapunk-styled postcard I spot at some random kiosk (we buy four of those). Of M. and D. literally rolling around on some bridge because dramz. Of me looking at Venice. Of N. looking at me angrily because fuck you and your photos, Kristoffer. And of course during our visit to Biennale, where we briefly, surprisingly meet C. and which really mainly seems to be worth visiting for the sunset at Arsenale.
»Will that do for a kickass Facebook cover photo? Asking for a friend.«
There’s a sort of pontoon and I step on it, enjoying the view and the view I know others have of me. When N. shows me the photos they don’t come without a tease.
No, I object, I didn’t do it for that.
But of course I did.
How genuine is that?
Literatur: Nahe am Wasser gebaut sein.
It’s also weird to think that I will have almost no musical memories of Venice.
Before I board the plane, I listen to The Clash’s Train In Vain on end because it is my favourite song of theirs, one of my favourite songs of all times. I first heard it when I must have been 15 or so and even back then I know it wasn’t genuinely punk of them to write a discoid Power Pop anthem about heartbreak, or of me for enjoying that either.
After that, there’s only The Last Sultan, the last chapters, which only trigger guilty memories about being even younger and watching Dragonball Z videos synced with Kid Rock songs. I did genuinely enjoy that, didn’t I?
There’s also a title of a book by Anaïs Nin, but despite its musicality it is neither musical nor is it in the right place.
Re: Things I genuinely enjoyed there. How is that not arte italiana?
There is a lot of music blaring out of shops in Venice and I am surprised to hear The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony – I was even younger when that one came out – twice during my stay. But the most vivid and/or haunting memory I have is that of night when F. leads us through the labyrinth of Venice’s alleys and we suddenly stumble into an open square in which about 20 couples engage in a public Tango session.
The shuffling of their feet, which follow pre-determined patterns, drowns the sound of the standardised music. It’s like a Leyland Kirby record came to, uh, life. Collateral noise, almost eradicating that which has spawned it. It’s uncannily beautiful and I stand there, transfixed, for two minutes and suck it in. It’s one of the most intense aesthetic experiences I’ve had in a long time.
Come to think of it, there’s a quite real 40°C difference between now and when B. told me about how ecstasy triggers fake feelings which result in fake memories and I was all like: »But how can you say that if that’s what it felt like. How can you remember it like that.«
Or how can you say that’s not exactly what it looks like (or why not to buy four of those).
Maybe that is why I enjoy Venice so much: For its charades and masks, even the ones you can buy along neon bright selfie sticks on every corner. For the willingness of every tourist to stare at the Ponte dei Sospiri with cloudy eyes, believing in the fiction of a secret meeting place for unlucky lovers while the historical reality is a much less romantic and lonely one. For the fact that this anomaly of a city exhales historicity through every stone but has no future other than certain decline.
How is that genuine, and how genuine is it to love it for that? To enjoy the alienation, the being torn out of my own language – I don’t recount speaking German with anyone other than C. for a few minutes -, its culture and my routine which had undergone severe changes before I even set foot on Venetian soil?
Even that girl I spot on the vaporetto is reading Thomas Mann’s Tod in Venedig in Italian like no fucks given.
Maybe, maybe being genuine is not so far from all that, which means completely removed from it. Maybe the water’s uncategorisable green is spectral in every sense of the word. Maybe that’s why I love it there. Maybe that speaks volumes about how I perceive the happiness I experience and how I will remember all that.
It’s alienating, it seems fake, it fills me up.
#yesfilter, but that’s kind of the the point now, isn’t it?
How’s that for a compliment?