Frankfurt’s uncanny aspects

The uncanny (or ‘unheimlich’ in German) is not the strange, but ‘the familiar become strange’ according to Freud’s 1919 essay. He provides a useful catalogue of entities that trigger the feeling of uncanny (such as doppelgängers) and tries to explain it as a fear of castration (!). One mark of the uncanny is that it […]

Written on the city

I haven’t been able to see much of Frankfurt, apart from the immediate neighbourhood where I take my daily ‘exercise’ around the same few streets in Bockenheim. Because my German isn’t (yet) fluent I’m very conscious of all the language I encounter on my walks. Passers-by talk to each other and their words dissipate into […]

Arp, Arp and me

Last week I went to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art to see Cut and Paste, an exhibition of collages. One of the works included from the early twentieth century is ‘According to the Laws of Chance’, created by the German/French artist Hans/Jean Arp in 1933 when he ripped a sheet of black paper […]

Re-reading Orwell

‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ is one of my favourite books. I first encountered it when I was about 14 or 15 years old, a pretentious teenager who liked to wander around with books that I thought would show how clever I was, without actually going to the bother of reading them. (In […]

Being stationary and also falling

I’m coming to the end of my stay here in Dilsberg/Heidelberg and am thinking about what the next stage is for the ‘something’ that I’ve started writing. I am working out how to convey facts as well as my musings on the gaps between the facts – I think the narrative will require a hybrid […]

Turning the pages of the forest

I’m in Germany to write about my grandfather, who came from Offenbach am Main (a city not far away from where I’m staying near Heidelberg), before he moved to England in the late 1930s. In the past I’ve written a flash fiction about him, and more recently an essay and a couple of poems. I’m […]

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