Fragment from the Fifth Chapter – The Birth of a Century

“At the end of the summer of 2016, when it became clear, that I would spend more time in Poland than I had originally intended, I visited Ania in her new apartment. It was my first time in Wrocław. I had already heard a short history of the city as told by our friend Marcin. After the war all the Germans had to leave. New inhabitants moved in. They came mainly from the East, from the former Ukrainian part of Poland. Many years after the war the city still had not been rebuilt. It was a city of potholes and empty lots, of gaps and abandonments, with planning on paper, but not on the ground. I thought that I could see this, when I looked at the inner courtyard from the kitchen window. It was a massive courtyard, bigger than a football pitch, no trees, hardly some grass. Storage places stood in long lines, all of them with a different coloured door, that would open by lifting the handle and sliding it back under the ceiling. Cars could park on the grid; children played football on an artificial court. Gypsies sat in the shade of their little garage, had a drink or a talk. The men would occasionally walk a couple of meters away and piss against a wall. It was relatively silent, no shouting, no arguing, no fights. I was looking at life in a central European town. The town itself felt very open, as if the sea was near. Time seemed to pass in slow motion, yes, sometimes I thought that it came to a halt. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know anything at all. It was the year 2016, but it easily could have been 1972 as well. And yet, to Ania it seemed all very natural. She was happy that she had found her blender, put the lid on it and filled the kitchen with the grinding noise of the machine. She prepared almond milk.”

The ePub Deep Poland is available at the staaltape shop

Deep Poland – Extract

My impression of Poland changed. I was no longer a complete foreigner. I was now a bystander, someone who needed a bit of encouragement, an invitation perhaps, or a simple question of a more personal nature. I was at a few steps from a Polish reality. In the first months we spent a lot of time in a Polski Bus. We travelled between Warsaw, Wroclaw and Kraków. (It took me almost a year to realise that the colours red and white of the bus were the colours of the Polish flag. I always thought that choosing colours was a matter of taste. Nationalism of this order was new to me.) I like to watch out of the window when I’m on the road. This pleasure diminished in Poland. I saw the same fields everywhere; a kind of Monsanto’s dream come true. The houses along the road were of a simple middle class nature, most of them white with a classic red roof. They would look good in advertisement leaflets for a company that sold garden tools. The only thing new for me were the extreme dimensions of the billboards. People couldn’t be bothered less with having them in their garden or on their acres. It was a matter of taste. Maybe it was also a matter of nationalism. It showed that Poland was a country of free enterprise. A billboard, many times the size of a Polish flag, showed that a company had paid money for the use of a piece of land, a private piece of land.

From way up above my movements must have looked absurd, always drawing the same lines on the maps. Poland was the strangest country I had ever lived in. It looked like a giant stretch of land, without any notion of a border, a country acting out a sur place, inhabited by accidental people. Speaking to them was like trying to catch fairies. They all escaped. They returned to their language. It was the only thing that had kept the population alive all through the previous centuries, when the country was forever lost in history.


But then we arrived in Deep Poland.


You can buy the ePub for 3.45€  here



Excerpt from the fourth chapter, ‘Deep Poland’

“The departure point in Wroclaw for the mini-busses to Klein-Peterwitz was at a short walk from the main bus station. The bus station was a relic of old times. The new one was under construction at the other side of the road, next to the train station. It already looked like a giant silver-metal Samsonite suitcase laying on its side. It would become more of a shopping mall than a station. As for now the busses waited at a parking space with a number of kiosks grouped around it. They sold pastry and bad coffee to the travellers. There was also a big old German building that looked like an ex-school or an ex-hospital. From here you had to walk over a mud path with on the left-hand side a little garden that lacked tombstones and on the right-hand side a fence. It closed off an area where constructions were going on. The walk lead from poverty to more poverty. A long time ago I might have marvelled at the patina of the socialist era. The mini-busses standing in line, and the people waiting with their luggage made it a depressing site. Boarding the small bus felt like an obligation, or a part of a routine. Travelling was reduced to movement, mostly done after sunset. We couldn’t see where we were, let alone where we went. You could feel from the bumpy road and the turns it made, that we entered Deep Poland.”
You can order the book here

Excerpt from the fourth chapter, ‘Deep Poland’

“I was very excited, when I first arrived and walked out of Wschodnia many years ago. I liked the little stores in the hall and the transparent architecture of the station. The light inside and the look reminded of a kodachrome postcard from the 1950s. I even liked the empty road in front of the station, that seemed to follow a straight line that would lead directly to Moscow. It gave the impression that the future was on its way, and that it would arrive from the East. We know it didn’t. It came from the West. And this process went very fast. The station got refurnished, lost its character and got filled with bars and shops that belonged to a brand. With every new visit I saw how the Berlinisation seeped into the streets in the immediate surroundings of the new metro station near your flat in Praga. This change only affected the interior of some places. The facades still showed a history in motion. What once was solid and a sign of wealth changed character thanks to long years of neglect. The result was a different kind of beauty: the beauty of decay. If you walked down to the river, to the wastelands, you saw a new skyline behind the old town. A new Jerusalem had appeared on the same place where once the ghetto stood. The colourful signs of Samsung and T-Mobile replaced the starry nights.”
You can order the book here.

Excerpt from the third chapter ‘Talking about Possibilities’

“Trump, his army of trolls, European populist leaders and their parrots speak of ‘the élite.’ It is their aim to destroy the élite. Does this mean that, belonging to a noise scene, or to a DIY community that shows itself critical of the establishment, and thus of the élite, that all of a sudden you are part of the alt-right mob?
You know what. I’d rather not. Moreover, I’d rather like to think a little bit. Considering that I can move freely, speak freely and express my art freely, sometimes even with money from institutions, I think this élite of ours is not doing so bad at all. You may or may not like the EU, but one of the most important messages it has brought across, is the message of constant dialogue and thus of peace. The leaders don’t use outrage and anger as a unifying and catalysing tool.”
You can order the book here.