Just back from four days in Berlin. My ‘cover’ was that I had been invited to speak at one of those big Mind Body Spirit Festivals – strange events at the best of times – but a good opportunity to meet interesting new friends and fellow seekers. The real purpose was to visit this city that so many people have told us is vibrant and quite simply one of the most interesting and exciting European cities. Stephanie scouted out the best places to see and here are some highlights from what we saw:
Bertold Brecht Haus – the house where the great playwright spent the last three years of his life, now a museum. Filled with atmosphere. He and his wife lived on different floors and posted each other notes under their doors inviting each other to tea (and possibly more – I don’t know). She was a great cook and he was banned from entering her kitchen. You can eat to her recipes in the basement.
The Pergamon museum – on ‘museum island’ – which houses not only the Pergamon Altar – a huge and almost complete temple, but also a great ceremonial street and entrance to Babylon removed glazed brick by brick from present-day Iraq.
The DDR museum and the remains of the Berlin Wall – a fascinating museum that gives you a real feel for life in communist East Germany. The 1.3km section of the Wall that has been left standing is covered in street art (Berlin is full of street art and graffiti). Here is the section with the well-known rendition of Brezhnev kissing DDR leader Honecker (based on an almost identical photograph of the real event).
And then something not mentioned in our guide book: in the Tiergarten, a stone’s throw from the Brandenburg Gate, we found a collection of huge polished stones – part of The Global Stone Project created by Wolfgang Kraker von Schwarzenfeld. Here’s how he describes it: “I have sailed around the world in “Pegasus”, a three-masted sailboat I built more than 30 years ago. It served as the main tool for the mission I have set myself to pursue. On every continent I look for two stones with unique characteristics in terms of material, form, and history, and each weighing approximately 30 tons. One of the two stones remains in its country of origin, while the other “sister” stone goes on a journey to Berlin, Germany, to the Tiergarten near the Brandenburger Gate, Parliament and the Holocaust Memorial. In summary, my project consists of the handling of ten stones, five to be placed in the countries representing each continent and the other five stones to be placed in Berlin.
All the stones are sculptured, polished and inscribed. The stones remaining on the five continents are positioned so that once a year, on the 21st of June, their surfaces reflect the light of the sun back to it. The light reflected from these stones travels in a frequency of 16 minutes around the world to meet their sister stones, at high noon in Berlin. There, between the five continental stones, the reflected sunlight draws five invisible straight lines. I expect the viewer to participate in the peace process by making a free decision to join these invisible lines using his active imagination, to create a circle as a symbol of united mankind. The pairs of stones from the continents represent the five steps towards Peace: (Europe) Awakening, (Africa) Hope, (Asia) Forgiveness, (America) Love, and Australia (Peace).” What a fantastic idea! Magic and Art meet in the heart of this city that has seen so much suffering and change. Here is a photo of just one part of the installation – notice the sunlight sparkling on the polished stones.