15/1030: Happy German Unity Day

While I already posted my obligatory explanation of the holiday and its significance for those who didn’t know here, it’s a good moment to write a little about one of the more significant intermedial references I am exploring for my dissertation. For those who read Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, I am talking about the way the fall of the Berlin Wall is described.

November 10, 1989 [why Nov. 10? It should be “November 9, 1989”]

A Wall was coming down. It was an historic occasion. No one really knew quite who had put it up or who was tearing it down or whether this was good, bad, or something else; no one knew how tall it was, how long it was, or why people had died trying to cross it, or whether they would stop dying in future, but it was educational all the same; as good an excuse for a get-together as any. It was a Thursday night, Alsana and Clara had cooked, and everyone was watching history on TV.  (197)

This passage and the parts that follow it are intermedial because of the reference to the news reporting in 1989. One sees the events as described by the characters.

“What’s happening now?” […] “Same, man.” […] “Same. Same. Same. Dancing on the wall, smashing it with a hammer. Whatever. I wanna see what else is on, yeah?” (197).

What’s more interesting, though, is how the characters are made to respond to what they are seeing. Irie, the teenage daughter of Clara and Archie, is impressed by what she sees as the ‘historic moment’ and she sees it as a moment of freedom, parallel to her own yearning for freedom and some great change in her personal life. On the other hand, her father and Samad are more critical of Germany on the brink of unity.

“Not all of us think fondly upon a united Germany” (199).

Of course, the words hold truth on and off the page.

Then, there’s the TV reporting itself, something one can find in the records with little research:

The twenty-eight-mile-long-scar- the ugliest symbol of a divided world, East and West- has no meaning anymore. Few people, including this reporter, thought to see it happen in their lifetimes […]. (199)

Something I’m not sure about, is if this is supposed to the live-reporting of a reporter. If so, then is the reporter stepping into the role of the author? Is the reporter a real reporter? I’m a bit tired, so I leave this last question for tomorrow (or later). In the meantime, I leave with a tribute to one of Germany’s greatest moments and one happily remembered by Germans today.

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright 2016 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality


One thought on “15/1030: Happy German Unity Day

  1. Pingback: 536/1030: TBT White Teeth | Words

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