Thoughts On A Human Re-Creation Of The Berlin Wall

Commentator Andrei Codrescu notes that a British artist is asking people to help him mark the 20th anniversary next month of the fall of the Berlin Wall by making a human wall for 15 minutes. At first, Codrescu wants to be part of it, but then has second thoughts.


A British artist has an ambitious plan to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Martin Butler wants to recreate the wall on November 9th, the day it fell. He's calling for 33,000 volunteers to form a line for one-half hour along the 29-mile path where the wall used to stand. Commentator Andrei Codrescu almost volunteered to be a part of it, but he says he had the creepy feeling that this living memorial might be something less than an ecstatic experience.

ANDREI CODRESCU: Twenty years have passed and yes, the ex-commie fiefdoms and their petty tyrants are gone. There are supermarkets where lines of people once stood like walls waiting for food. Yes, the masses are free to travel and they do, often choosing not to return home, which has a lot of Western Europeans worried that yes, the brick wall is gone, but walls of people keep on coming. There are walls and walls. Between the Great Wall of China built to keep invaders out and the Berlin Wall build to keep people in, there are a variety of walls with mixed messages, like the U.S.-Mexican border wall that claims to keep immigrants from entering. But mostly keeps Lou Dobbs in business.

And then, there are the countless anonymous walls that people were lined up against and shot. These are the walls that keep me from fully digging Butler's wall. Thirty-three thousand people all lined up - not on your life. I will be waiting 15 minutes for a bullet. Well, that's art, you might say, experiencing for 15 minutes what some people experienced for a lifetime - a bit like a minute of solitary at Alcatraz as opposed to 50 years. But time is subjective and even one minute of hell is too long.

NORRIS: Poet and novelist Andrei Codrescu lives in Arkansas. He edits the online magazine

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