i spent a large chunk of sunday reading the first two volumes of jason lutes’ graphic novel called berlin. set in the late nineteen twenties, the books recreate a time in the city when fundamental forces had been unleashed in germany. rearmament was secretly underway. fascism and socialism were competing for the soul of the city. the great depression was about to break out.
one of the characters is a veteran journalist who sees germany hurtling towards disaster but is slowly realising that his words do not have any impact. here is something, a tad more optimistic, a much more strategic way of looking at journalism, that he says in the early parts of the book.
I imagine the daily output of the entire newspaper district. It makes me think of drowning, but I want to be able to see it another way. Instead: human history as a great river, finding its course along the lowest points in the landscape, and each page as a stone. Tossed in without purpose, just to see the splash, thousands of them might raise the water level until it escapes the confines of the riverbed. The water spreads out, the force of the river diminishes, before long, a marsh. But if each stone is placed carefully and with purpose, perhaps something can be built. Not to dam the current, but to divert its course.
(berlin: city of stones, jason lutes).