Category Archives: Essay

Essays and articles on a variety of topics of interest and application.

The Berlin Stories, by Christopher Isherwood

berlin_storiesWritten in the early 1930s while Isherwood was living in Berlin as an English teacher, he witnesses the simmering political situation as the Nazi party rises to power and prominence. As a former resident of Berlin in the later half of the first decade of the new century, I was able to follow Isherwood down the streets and through the routes he travels, into the hinterhofs and up the dark altbau stairwells. He describes in vivid detail the characters he meets, the crooks, the dandies, the whores, the pimps and crooks. The stories would later be woven together in a pastiche of scenes, characters and impressions for Broadway in 1966, then as the 1972 film “Cabaret” with Liza Minnelli and a very well cast Michael York.
The grim political tone aside, reading these stories transported me back into Berlin instantly. Nearly all the characters he encounters had their counterparts to my own experience. It’s an intimate look into this very special and unique time period from a very personal and sincere perspective – it’s no wonder this collection is so highly regarded in literary circles.
The introductory character, Mr. Norris, is a man of little scruples, a failed dilettante and businessman of no certain legitimacy. He swindles, schemes and manipulates his way through life, all the while remaining very charming in a certain way. He reminds me of the storyline set forth in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “Satansbraten”. He seems to also be alluded to in “Cabaret” as the writer who Brian is paid to translates the smut book for. Sally Bowles is of course the focal point as the cabaret girl, who is in the book actually British, not American, as portrayed in the film adaptation.

Essays In Progress

Several Essays are in progress, inspired by themes in my artwork, objects and individuals I admire, and research topics I explore. In a recent line of tshirts I printed, I used deceased individuals that have inspired me as theme. Henry Miller, Dennis Hopper, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Rowland S Howard are all characters of singular quality that lived brilliant lives. Though flawed, their artistic drive and passion far outshine their imperfections. That series is entitled “No More Heroes”, and it calls for such damaged luminaries as modern heroes, in that there is no hero who is perfect in a real world. Heroes who are mortal, heroes who have vices, heroes who despite being able to overcome obstacles, still stumble and fall. A gere who had something to say and who was able to say it and have it heard.