Arts Desk

E.D. In the E.U.: Wurzburg, Germany

"If I cannot perceive something, does it exist?"

Dispatches from E.D. Sedgwick's winter tour through Germany, the Czech Republic, and Poland.

We awake in the band sleeping quarters of a venue built into a former Nazi bunker in Trier. The clothes I have washed in a sink and placed on the radiator to dry are actually dry. On the way out the door, the promoter gives me honey for my laryngitis. All is right with the world.

We drive a few hours to Wurzburg, a small city on the Main River in Northern Bavaria. The venue is "Cairo," a welcoming club on the third floor of a ancient building. We carry the 150-plus pound bass up a spiral staircase, as I did the last two times I was here. I eat spaghetti with vegan bolognese, as I did the last time I was here. I drink tea with the honey supplied by the promoter from Trier. Before the show, I try to find the honey again to have some more, but the honey has disappeared.

The show goes well. The opening band wears helmets with microphones attached. About 50 people attend. Few leave when we play. Some guy knows all of the words to some of our songs, which is more than I can say for myself. We get paid 300 euros and sell about 100 euros of merchandise.

After the show, we sleep at the sound man's house. The sound man, we learn, has a non-life-threatening chronic wrist problem and has undergone many surgeries. Eventually, his doctor recommended severing the nerves that connect his hand to his brain so that, though his condition persists, he does not feel pain. The sound man went through with the procedure, and reports that it was successful.

The philosophical justification behind the surgery—render the body incapable of perceiving that which ails it—seems questionable. If something in life troubles us, is it OK not only to ignore it, but to become biologically incapable of recognizing its existence? This is a question for Jean Baudrillard, a Philip K. Dick protagonist, or the Wachowskis. I decline to voice my concerns.

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