The edge of town, the intense zone between periphery and center, it can be found in the middle of the city.
Thus Alsergrund, well-placed between Ring and Belt (Gürtel), between The People’s Opera (Volksoper) and the University, today the Hipster’s residential paradise – this district can be experienced as full of edges, as edgy indeed.
If one has our senses, or lets their senses be guided by our appetite for patterns.
One edge is the conflict of species, as habitual, as subterranean, as ordinary, as it may be, it is a permanent battleground!
Take the birds, take the pigeons, they love their city too, they are residents with a different use for all those structures humans take themselves to be the sole authors, and beneficiaries, of – but we know better. Often they are nothing but their semi-accidental cause.
But humans resist learning, resist the greater truth they are at best only a vessel of; so they fight the needs of our dear pigeon friends with vigor. They install spikes to threaten them, making their gloomy courtyards even more hostile.
So to counter-balance those ignorant, grumpy human ways, we made our humans follow the traces of shit.
It might be a necessary by-product of organic nutrition, maybe it could also be a message, maybe even a form of protest.
Life is being eaten by other life to become the raw stuff for fresh life.
But human life wants to be remembered individually. So while down in the ground our microbial friends are doing their work, displaced comrades of the great family of the stone are set up to serve as a memorial sign for a dead human. Their names and signs are then carved into those stones.
Strange habits, yet this meeting of organic decay hidden from the eye, stones on the green field and signs to be read by particular human communities make a great hyper-pattern we can savour – dead-less as we have become, we can appreciate the habits of human death management with a light multi-sensory touch.
Even more so, when the cemetery – as they call this condensed threefold of organic, inorganic and merely symbolic components – is dedicated to a significant minority of this city called “the Jews”.
A Jewish cemetery is a gift to us – and the fact that one could only enter this half-public site through a home for the elderly makes it even more of a hidden treasure.