"...transparent traffic..." (Spender re: Upward)

"Upon us in this restless and awakening mood came Isherwood's friend Chalmers [Edward Upward], on his way back to England from an Intourist Tour of Moscow. Very much the emissary of a Cause he seemed, with his miniature sensitive beauty of features, his keen-smiling yet dark glance, his way of holding the stem of his pipe with his finely formed fingers of a chiseller's or wood-engraver's hand. [...] Two days after his arrival, he and I went for a walk. I remember that we went through that part of Berlin where roads connect the Tiergarten, the Bahnhof-am-Zoo, and the Gedaechtniskirche--a church on a road island, with the traffic streaming all around it. The pressure of what Chalmers said to me was not just his words, but a consciousness of Berlin, of unemployment and Fascism, and, dimly beyond that day, of the day fifteen years later when I would walk along the same road and see the Gedaechtniskirche, which had looked (on the occasion of our walk) like an absurdly ornate over-large inkstand set down in the middle of the traffic, transformed into a neo-Gothic ruin, having about it something of senile dignity. What Chalmers was really asking me was (as though we both looked through the transparent traffic on to the ruin) how to stop this happening? How prevent this Europe being destroyed in the war which--as he analysed the situation--was certain to arise from recrudescent German nationalism, supported by American and British capitalism, and flung (as he thought it would be) against Russia? I gave my stumbling answers: I desired social justice; I abhorred war; I could not accept the proposition that to resist evil we must renounce freedom, and accept dictatorship and methods of revolutionary violence. Chalmers who had listened intently, smiling slightly to himself, observed quietly, when I had finished speaking: 'Gandhi'."
{Stephen Spender, World Within World, 1951}

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