by Dolores Overgaard
Puritanism is often defined as the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. Nonconformism, on the other hand, is often haunted by the possibility that someone, somewhere, may be more miserable. Someone in your ungentrified neighbourhood might be in a more open, less gender-specific and less gratuitously abstruse relationship. This applies to both sexes, and any in-between. In Berlin, people have finally broken free from the bourgeoise straightjacket of monogamy, a fact that would make the men of Mitte very happy indeed, if only their full-time brooding commitments allowed them.
Nihilistic despair may have been pioneered by French intellectuals as a way of getting the ladies horizontal, but the Mitte Man (Homo Pretentious) has enthusiastically picked up the baton, together with the smoking habit. That they are fashioning themselves after a beat poet half a century after the original movement began might put a slight dent on their revolutionary credentials, but why should recycling be limited to beer bottles when it can be applied to relationships as well? Anyway, the sort of women they are targeting with this reprocessed rhetoric either think that Kerouac is Keanu’s less well-known brother, or the closest they have come the author’s work is to Instagram a second-hand copy of On The Road that they found while perusing a Flohmarkt. It goes without saying that as a woman you should be blown away upon learning that the Mitte Man has freed himself from the shackles of biology. This admiration should ideally translate into uncontrollable sexual magnetism, a completely unintended side effect of being so firmly above the rules of attraction that seem to afflict mainstream men, who are ruled by their sex drive rather than their non-conformist drive. The Mitte Man will tirelessly parade his unwillingness to participate in the “dating charade” through the cafés and bars of Berlin, in the hope that it will have a similar effect on the female population as bathing in Axe deodorant and legally changing his name to Johnny Depp. Sitting in your Stammkneipe, the Mitte Man will fluff up his scarf so as to resemble the neck of a pigeon in heat and demand the same level of attention with his demonstrably nonchalant “over here, laydeeeehs!!!!” pose. Also, the sounds emanating from his turntable will occasionally resemble those of a horny bird, although the similarities will be more marked if he is into freestyle jazz. A successful courtship will emboldened them and the clichés pulled from his Freitag bag will come thick and fast. Let’s take a look at some of the usual suspects and what that they actually mean:
“I totally agree with Houellebecq: humans are just not monogamous creatures” I am certainly not monogamous, and, as my current object of desire, neither should you be. To be honest I have no idea what Houellebecq’s opinion on monogamy is, but I saw Atomised at the Babylon and Franka Potente is hot! Sleep with me.
“The problem with the establishment is that it asphyxiates the individual and stops them from expressing their true sexuality. I am very open-minded and would never judge anyone” Apart from people who don’t agree with my stupidly narrow worldview. I really don’t like people who get in the way of expressing my true sexuality, particularly women inexplicably oblivious to my obvious charms. Please sleep with me.
“Have you ever considered an open relationship?” I will only respect your opinion as an intelligent woman entitled to hold her own opinions if the answer is “yes”. Otherwise I might have to play the “repressed” card. It worked for Freud. I will still respect your cleavage. Why aren’t you sleeping with me yet?
“At the end of the day, we’re all animals” A very specific animal. I’m picturing myself as a heavily anthropomorphised lion, king of the urban jungle, napping the day away while his harem of lionesses do all the work. The idea of being an imperial penguin who is not only paired for life but who has to sit on a giant egg freezing his beak off in arctic temperatures and star in mainstream documentaries voiced by Morgan Freeman doesn’t appeal to me. And no, the praying mantis is not a good example either.
“I don’t ‘date’. This is a term popularized by restaurants, cinemas, and other commercial enterprises with the aim of maximising their revenues. You can’t put a price on romance” I even burnt you copy of Photoshop! Why won’t you sleep with me?
Additionally the Mitte Man will remind you that Berlin is the city of true romance. This might have eluded you, as the title is, often wrongfully, given to such conventionally beautiful places such as Paris, a town that has trapped less visionary minds in the mainstream matrix with its elegant boulevards and enchanting squares. Berlin, on the other hand, with its communist cement and the postmodern Alexanderplatz, is somehow overlooked. Fear not, you will soon be reminded of the city’s unconventional romanticism with the same unforgiving, implacable enthusiasm displayed when highlighting its hipness.
Berlin is the single most paradigm-bashing, mould-smashing and mind-blowing megalopolitan melting pot in the annals of human history. And while it is still acceptable, nay positively encouraged, to remind everybody of the city’s intense awesomeness during those never-ending borderline arctic winter months, when the only coolness found is firmly located at the bottom of a thermometer, this fades when the temperature creeps above zero. Come spring and Berlin might once more seem positively inviting with its many pleasant parks and placid lakes. Pointing out the city’s attractions might mark you out as a tourist, a summer scenester who is there for the sunny season, when the place is not only habitable, but actually enjoyable. In short, one of those people who don’t get Berlin in all its dank, gloomy, relentlessly harrowing glory. The Mitte Man’s virility is directly proportional to how many winters he has endured. With this he hopes to impress all the new arrivals who will picture him as a sexy fearless Amundsen, and not as a man that has to spend four months of the year wearing long-johns. And when this fails, he will relentlessly promote Berlin as a dystopian Venice of the North by pointing out its higher number of canals.
In short, there is not a single fact or figure, not a single idea, that the Mitte Man won’t shamelessly appropriate to mask his vapid, chronically insecure self. Every morning he will add three extra heaped spoons of delusion to his flat white to pretend that the age old rules of attraction are beneath him, when he is in fact so up his own backside that he could perform his own colonoscopy, and has lost all sense of perspective or self-critique. For somebody so vocally against the bourgeois society of spectacle and status, it is slightly contradictory that he would invest so much time publicly parading his radical credentials like a particularly pretentious peacock. Likewise his tendency to label everything and everyone that enters his field of vision like some kind of OCD-addled librarian following a flimsy counterculture classification. The sad truth is that in his neurotic attempts to appear a free thinker, the Mitte Man comes across as revolutionary as a Grateful Dead tribute band.