the lines

‘It’s very German, isn’t it?’

‘What?’

‘Everything: the lights, for instance.’

‘Ah, yes. Very white.’

‘Exactly. Thoroughly German. And the roads and trams.’

‘The trees, too, no doubt.’

‘Of course the trees. And the snow pooling under the white lights of the street lamps and filling in the gaps between the crisp straight lines of the railway tracks and the power lines and the curbs.’

‘But where does all of this get them?’

‘Germanness?’

‘Yes.’

‘Peoples and cultures don’t go places. They don’t achieve things. They act, they breed, and then they die — only remembered by their progeny.’

‘Their progeny?’

‘Once a culture dies — it doesn’t take long — only the people who descend from that culture will record that it existed. When they do this, they will distort it: just as children cannot see their parents as their parents are.’

‘Orphans have no parents at all.’

‘Quite true. I doubt these harried lives — running along straightlinetracks to straightlinesupermarkets — recognise in themselves the vestiges of our past.’

‘They just see the lines.’

‘We all see the lines.’