Jeff VanderMeer writes weird fiction and eco-fiction. He also edits science fiction, horror, and fantasy anthologies with his partner, Ann VanderMeer.
Strolling down the promenade in central Madrid on a Thursday afternoon, I glance left and see a Museo del Jamón (Museum of Ham), I look right and find a shop full of Catholic kitsch, left again and its a bar selling overpriced tapas, right again and there are two glass doors brimming with hundreds of shielded riot cops about to explode onto the Puerta del Sol. They are waiting for the 20,000 high school students marching against austerity and cuts to education. If anything goes wrong, they are ready.
Clowders of cats wander the streets of Tel Aviv like stranger kings to whom all must pay their respect. Lying under chairs, sitting on top of cars, relaxing in cafes, they settle on other people’s property without regard for anyone or anything. A friend tells me a story: When the British ruled over Palestine, there was a massive rat infestation.
Open the door, turn on the light, heat up the water, check the refrigerators, lay out the chairs, clean the tables, light the candles, put out the ashtrays, check the register, count the change, cut the limes, put on music, wash the glasses, turn on the fan, pour the beer, mix the drinks, serve the customers, listen to their stories, comfort their loneliness, make the ice, clean the counter, tell a joke, take the money.
Did the world already end? Did we miss the moment of our own expiration? That seems to be the question we are collectively asking ourselves at this moment through the medium of popular culture.
The force behind these trends is the growing centrality of urban real estate to capitals global growth strategy. Through this process, the price of land becomes a central economic determinate and a dominant political issue.
Nina Scholz is a journalist who works for Deutschlandradio, taz, Freitag, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Analyse & Kritik, and more, with a focus on the digital economy, labor struggles, and leftist movements. Her book Nerds, Geeks and Pirates: Digital Natives in Culture and Politics, was published in 2014 by Bertz und Fischer Verlag. She is active in the Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen campaign. Jacob Blumenfeld interviewed her in Berlin.