SEBALDIANA:THE GREAT EASTERN HOTEL, LIVERPOOL STREET, LONDON.BY STEVEN BENSON

It seemed, in that summer of 1983,I vaguely recall, that I had found both refuge and psychological disintegration in that hotel,where I sojourned for a day or two,in a desperate escape from the horrors of working in the Swansea Night-Shelter.Uncannily, Sebald writes re it (it is where the sebaldian narrator and Austerlitz meet regularly, in “Austerlitz”{2001});and Sinclair, in “Tracking Sebald:Austerlitz and After”(2013), describes it as a “feeling of stillness, submersion,a time-frozen tank of anchored Titanic furniture in creeping darkness”(p.16).I only have a memory of an occluded breakfast room, in the dying days of British Transport Hotels,; mirrored, in myself,by a feeling of sebaldian malaise and anxiety, as, eating too much breakfast, in a vain attempt at self-comfort,and then forcing myself to venture further into the City, I attended a lunchtime concert in a secluded church; whence I sunk into a depression so deep that I visited the Samaritans office and received counselling.

The only other things I remember about the Great Eastern Hotel was the closed off sections, acessible only to staff, and the general air of desuetude and forlorn heaviness.

Eerily again-a form of prefigurative deja vu(because I only read “Austerlitz” about 23 years later)-I saw the adjacent, decrepit, castellated, Gothic carapace that was (just) still Broad Street Station, which, whilst Sebald does not write of the spectrally deserted station, (nearly wholly closed down), himself, but, instead, of the graveyards and skulls discovered beneath it  when the station was demolished in about 1985  to make way for the Broadgate Centre:-there were more  (pre)shadowed commonalities of experience with the great writer.

Why, like Iain Sinclair and Stephen Watts(Sebald’s friend), and many others who read(and re-interpret and re-envision for themselves) Sebald’s great oevre, do we feel a sense of ghostly connection with the man?Co-incidences or…. what?. A heimliche(literally, homely, a sense of having been to the location before, a sense therefore of familiarity) heimat(literally homeland); but with an uncanny (unheimliche, unhomely)undertow

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Published by: decayetude

ENTHUSIASMS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, ESPECIALLY OBSCURE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS; BACH/HANDEL LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL, WELL-WRITTEN(STYLISTICALLY)NOVELS W G SEBALD WALTER BENJAMIN THEODOR ADORNO(JUST BEGINNING!) AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY GAY MEN'S WRITING;QUEER THEORY STIMULATING DISCUSSIONS(EMOTIONALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY) GOOD RICH THICK ESPRESSO MICHAEL PONTI SPRITUALITY/LIFE'S "AURA"(BENJAMIN), WHATEVER TRANSCENDENTAL THING YOU WANT TO CALL THIS MEMORY-the elusiveness thereof. LOST TIME AND AN ATTEMPT AT ITS REDEMPTION(NON THEISTICALLY/RELIGIOUSLY)

Categories psychogeography, railways, spectral geography, transcendental (psycho)geography, uncanny, Uncategorized, urban decay1 Comment

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