I’ve forgotten, living in Germany, what advertising is for. In Berlin it is language practice, and I study every ad I pass, translating and puzzling out the words I don’t know. Last week reaching London, and particularly Oxford Street, I found myself overwhelmed by people, commerce, traffic. I’ve become provincial; the sheer density of shrill commercial messages alone was shocking, the pressure to spendbuybe enough to raise my hackles as against a threat. This in a place where everything, given today’s exchange rate, is twice as expensive or more than in the United States.
I’ve never found myself comfortable in London.Maybe this is part of it, or because I’ve always been passing through on the way to somewhere else, and so never slowed down and given it time. I’m not sure that slow or time are relevant concepts there. I feel far more comfortable in New York, as far as dense metros go. But this is because I understand the rhythms of people there, while in London I understand only the flow of currency and commerce. I know there is more.
I can understand why Anders (whose play was hilarious, despite the unapproved editings of the director) reacts so strongly there against the economic system. London is a place to quicken the mind, and test ideas, and if it is an apotheosis of a system, that system is flawed.
Better is Brighton, a seaside town that is part Berkeley, part Santa Cruz, part flamboyantly and gloriously gay. People go there to slow down a bit, and while it is nothing like the country, it at least is on a human scale, with the sea to remind everyone that they should stop and pay attention to the horizon once in a while.