Man Who Loves Walls Thinks The Berlin Wall Was A Pretty Good Wall

Gazing fondly at a pile of bricks in his backyard, John Man sat down with reporters to talk about his latest book, “Building The Future And Also Piling Bricks Together: New Perspectives On The Berlin Wall.”

“The main function of the Berlin Wall, dividing society and preventing migration out of the GDR, has often overshadowed its critical reception as a wall,” he said. “I hope to address this.”

His fascination with walls started when he was just a young boy, and Man says he has never looked back, except when taking one last look at a fine wall before walking away from it. “My favourite film is that one where Robert Redford is in prison and builds a wall,” he said. “If ever you want to see the magic of watching a wall take shape, that’s the film for you. It’s such a shame when Tony Soprano orders it to be destroyed. I don’t think he understood the sort of wall they were trying to build in that otherwise lifeless prison courtyard.”

Having studied the Berlin Wall for years, Man is hopeful that his book may finally lead to a sea-change in the largely negative critical reception of the wall, or Wallie, as he calls it. “People see the decades of restricted movement and crushed dreams and think that’s all bad, but I ask you this: how could it have been so effective if it wasn’t such an incredibly well-made wall?”

Bob Guy, another exponent in the burgeoning field of Wall Studies, says that walls themselves are often unfairly overlooked. “Take Pyramus and Thisbe, for example,” he said. “Where would they have been without their wall? Some might even say that the wall was the main character of their story. Like me. I say that.”

Man has had access to an extraordinary array of recently released archive materials that go some way to making his book fascinating. “It is a common misconception that Sergei Sergeevich, the chief architect responsible for designing the wall, was just an unthinking cog in a bureaucratic machine,” he said. “After reviewing his unpublished diaries I can reveal that although this was substantially true, in his spare time he also wrote a very informative diary.”

There are signs that Man’s reappraisal of the wall has already some impact on the scholarly community. “I think people are starting to realise that the simple process of putting one brick on top of another for long enough will often result in a wall, and that is what happened here, in Berlin.”

4 thoughts on “Man Who Loves Walls Thinks The Berlin Wall Was A Pretty Good Wall

  • February 1, 2016 at 11:02 am

    It’s very hard to me not to agree heartily with both John and Bob as I met my hubby of 44 years when he was playing The Wall in Britten’s fabulous reworking of Shakespeare’s original Dream – what a role, what a character!

    • February 1, 2016 at 11:33 am

      Haha- excellent

  • February 4, 2016 at 10:25 am

    I found a book on the Berlin Wall when I was in Berlin back in June. Didn’t know it was Mr Man’s, so left it there in case the owner returned.

    • February 4, 2016 at 10:45 am

      It’s a great book!

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