The Diaries of Arnon Grunberg (10)

Arnon sat at the bar and ordered another Brooklyn lager, supporting his head and leaning with one elbow on the counter. The trivial absurdity dawned on him of only being able to drink Heineken when he still lived in Amsterdam. Although he hated the bourgeois fetish with feeling good, its obsession with consumption and with being entertained, at least a man should be able to choose his own beer, Arnon thought. Heineken controlled what type of beer you drank in Amsterdam. He had escaped that controlled environment of Amsterdam, where life took place under a bell jar, and never took on a scale bigger than individual man, the way it did here in New York. Here, a man felt in control over his destiny in the grid of the city, here you could believe in an illusion still. The scale of reality pushed a man up to the thought to be still physically part of the life around us. Standing on the top of the Rock and looking out over the sky scrapers, seeing their golden domes, the glass facades, rising so high above manhood, that what remained were only dots. The people below look just like ants, and they counted for no more than ants. And yet, looking at the world from the top of this ferry wheel, one felt like a god, not subjected, but in control of the spectacle. How different, to stand on the Wester belfry in the Jordaan and feel the heavy heaven of rainy clouds fall upon the city, every moment capable of washing away the sinful souls, opening up to give way to a Biblical deluge. Here on the island there was no one to look down on Arnon.

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