I had a Dream in Tropical Islands Resort in Berlin. Was it real?

Stephen Muecke


It is a matter of inventing or discovering… positive modes of existence, which come to meet us with their palm fronds, to greet our hopes and aspirations, or our problematic speculations, in order to gather them in and comfort them. All other research is a metaphysical famine. [1]
Etienne Souriau

I’m writing to you, Jimmie, because I can trust you, I think, with these fumblings I call writing. I wanted to ask you about what’s really real, and what’s ‘just’ made up, like stories we tell… they are supposed to have all these powerful effects, like orienting peoples’ desires in that hazardous landscape of ‘getting by in life’. You know, we bring up our children with stories, then, as you say in your book, talking about our friend Mick Taussig: ‘There are abstract entities we credit with Being, species of things awesome with the life-force of their own, such as God, the Economy, and the State.’ [2] BIG stories, equally made up, equally as real as our ephemeral dreams that disappear, like wisps of smoke, when our sleep is interrupted…

Tropical Islands Resort is located in a hangar which sits like the carapace of an insect on the flat snow-covered plains of Brandenburg, south of Berlin. [3] As you approach on the bus that has picked you up from the station, you notice it is surrounded by old WW2 bunkers, some converted into workshops or offices, others falling into ruin. This stately pleasure dome, one of the largest by volume in the world at 5.5 million m³, is some 360m by 210m. It is large enough to contain a tropical rainforest, a sandy beach 200 meters long fronting the ‘beach’ (‘Südsee’), another lagoon, spas, waterslides, villages with restaurants. The atmospheric temperature is 28º with 48% humidity; the water is kept at a steady 31º, all year round, 365 days a year. You can live there, I guess, since tents can be rented for the night.


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