4. Wallpaper dragons

In the final chapter, Sebastian Jung retreats to his personal space, his own four walls. He thinks back to his late grandfather and family stories about him. But even as he dissects his own German family history, dragons suddenly emerge from his woodchip wallpaper, lunging threateningly toward the viewer. Hatred and violence are not experienced directly here. Instead, they are recalled, hesitantly and across different political systems. Taking a more concrete approach than in previous parts of the project, Jung asks how digital technologies affect remembrance and archiving.

For my grandfather.

A white, German
who might have
simply been too young
for a German role
during the Nazi era?

But why do I ask that?
Will I just
“Grandpa wasn’t a perpetrator,”
as many
Germans claim?

For the grandpa
who always liked to quote his mother:
“The men were sitting at the table
and wondering
who in the village
had cast the one vote
for the Communists…
if they had only known
it was me…”

My grandfather was a neurologist
and died last year.

During East Germany times,
he drilled open
an accident victim’s head
and kept him
from becoming a vegetable
because of a blood clot.

The patient thanked him
by moving him
up on the waiting list
for one of the coveted
East German wall shelving units.

My grandfather was not left-wing,
my grandfather was not Christian,
my grandfather was a doctor.

He loved cake
and my grandmother.

His last year
on earth
must have been

My grandfather’s
of the war
were those of a child.

I don’t know
what was and
wasn’t true.

Only that on family birthdays
his sister
always sat there smiling
when I sat over coffee and cake
as a teenager and talked
about anti-Nazi demonstrations

I carry him inside me.

His funeral
was wonderful.

When I started smoking weed,
he quoted Paracelsus to me.

And he was right.
At some point
I really was smoking too much.

In his final years,
my grandpa
lived in an apartment
with woodchip wallpaper.

I’ve spent my entire life living
surrounded by woodchip wallpaper.

Last week,
my hard drive
fell off the desk.

And all
my photos
were gone.

I just barely
managed to restore a few nice photos
of him.

But most of the pictures
are lost.
I wonder:
how can we remember?

When the hard drives die.

You can’t make back-ups
of people.

The last back-ups
are the bodies of the living
who bear the memories
of their ancestors
in their bones.

Grandpa, farewell.