Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mere Seconds

This is fiction.

It happens in less than seconds.

This, he realises, is what it feels like to travel inside an ambulance car. Quite probably, the majority of people will never know, for their whole lives, what it is like to travel inside an ambulance car. In this little universe, neatly packed with things to save lives, rescue, cure and prolong for that special stretch of time until the hospital. This is how it feels like; in the middle of traffic but outside the rules, zipping along on the trams’ tracks with sirens and with speed.

Outside, the life of reality is zipping by fast and far away. Like another reality, it is played back with muted sound on the screens of the windows. There are people and their stories, cars and bikes, even birds and a few dogs. Nothing of this relates to the insides of an ambulance car shooting by at full speed. And yet, all of this is reality, and all of this happens in beautiful synchronisation.

A small woman, nearing sixty, with greyish brown hair that hangs in flat, tired waves from her head, crosses a small side street and approaches the entrance of a nightclub. She carries two burlap bags with her left hand, and inside the bar everything is dark and silent. Upon reaching the corner house’s door, she pulls out an enormous bunch of keys and unlocks it.

The city is grey and so are the remains of snow, remnants of white now shrunken together in corners and around lamppost. A grey sky above a grey ground, framed with houses in dark and light shades of grey and the air itself in hazy same. One late February day, when winter seems to wane but spring is still a long wait away. And on this one day, in this weather, an ambulance car shoots through the streets, the lanes and boulevards, until it reaches a bridge, long a wide, stretching over the massive river parting the city. With an air of remoteness and farewell, like leaving a place very dear to the heart, the car moves over the bridge, the city’s outlines in the hazy air on both banks and it is with the insignificant movement from one side to the other - crossing the river – that he waves a motionless goodbye to his beloved city and his beloved life, crossing over to that other bank of the river; beyond.

It happens in less than seconds.

Rushing along with the traffic and for one little moment caught by the smallest detail of that large painting we call “now”, his front wheel hits the car’s rear and the force of gravity, urging him onwards, lifts him swiftly and carries his body far above the busy road and the many heads and the pedestrian buzz until he, as if gazing backwards with a fish-eye lens at the whole scene, crashes through the shop window and falls unconscious.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The growth of a project

Interestingly, the desire to write (and write beyond the work on my thesis, at that) does not, as it seems, coincide with my writing on the blog, here. As with many things, I tend to rather procrastinate or, more specifically (since there is no actual focus present, mostly, which would warrant procrastination) just let my unspoken longings trickle into the fog of non-application. That needs to change.

I’m quite busy, lately, which is nice considering the fact that much of last year went by without me making considerable progress on the one project I should and wanted to be progressing on: writing my thesis and getting done with university. Ever so happily, towards the end of last year I was finally able to haul this tottering project back onto the rails of my desk and am now slowly but steadily progressing towards completion.

The interesting situation of writing a thesis in a country different from that of one’s own university (not being in field research but moving away due to personal reasons) has had, beyond causing the momentous deceleration and delay of my work, the very fascinating effect of causing my bibliographical library to be, for the far biggest part, situated at (my new) home. Instead of buying train tickets to go back to my university and access the library in a very limited amount of time, I have again and again chosen instead to hunt down and purchase the books needed for my work. Consequently, the whole project of writing a thesis to finish my studies has become something taking hold much more deeply in my life and concretely, my personal space. Whereas in the beginning I had already feared the moment of nascent fatigue towards any subject I have to spend a long and exhausting time with, this dreaded moment has not come and instead I watch the topic and framework of this project grow on its own in my current life. Therefore I am now rather confident that this focus and, dare I say, ongoing (read: never ending) process of specialisation will continue and shape my life even after handing in my thesis and finishing my studies. As if the thesis I will hand in is less the static outcome, i. e. peak point, of a scientific endeavour, than a snapshot along the timeline of an ever evolving theoretical body. Frightening, as it may seem in one sense, I find this development (that seems almost outside of my own influence) quite fascinating.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Autumn and the ending of the year

Not to be lonely

Ever since moving here,
counting one-digit numbers,
one more, one less, on and on.

Dahlias and Lilies blossom,
now dried Lavender and violets
keep me company.

If only my mute things,
all my beauties shelved,
where company enough.

Autumn is here for good, late as it arrived this year, first time for me to watch the old year shed its colours and fade away here. This year fast approaches the closing of its circle, and looking back I am drawn to take stock of this past almost-a-year, but the hand trembles, I shy away.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sūrnenncarmoraith II

(part one)

Sūrnenncarmoraith II:

The Brönne, descendants of the ancestor Brön, whom Calenheliddoeg had made half-man half-steed out of long grass and the steppe’s wind, had since their early times been famed as combative horsemen. Holding vast domains, and loving fight, archery, and the wide open plains, they soon began to press against the estranged Sūr’s southern reaches. Although both tribes respected one another’s territories, the tribe of Mon soon yearned yet again for north and more tranquil lands.

The green plains north of Nollpyrrh and Lley Allon were lined by a belt of forest that had been a natural and still uncrossed barrier to the Sūr. Lillya and Umrren though, leaders of their people, finally set out into those woods, to find what lay beyond. Already accompanied by her daughter Llaune, Lillya had the sense to feel other peoples’ presence beyond the forest, and as the trees gave way, the leaders of Sūr entered upon the domains of the Bre. These people, Brene as they called themselves, had come down from the north, along Lake Deep, into those lands, driven there by the other tribes of the north. At the feet of the Gelen hill, at the forking of the river Cym, the Bre had settled and claimed this territory, reaching from the great northern forest’s edge to the Aelmyndd mountains in the east and the belt of forest in the south, as their own.

For a time, when people were still few and the lands wide, the Bre granted land to the Sūr, coming from the south. There was a silent concord between the people, who still inhabited the lands thinly scattered about, and their affairs were of mutual advantage. The child Llaune was raised up north of the belt of forest, while her parents oversaw their people on both its sides, north and south. Thus it came to be that not only was she cared for by the members of her family and tribe, but also by those of the Bre. Learning from both her own people and the Brene, she grew up to master the arts and secrets of both tribes, as no other outsider would have ever been able to.

It seemed, in the time of her youth, that Llaune was to become a bond between the tribes of Sūr and Bre, to unite them in peace. But as the years went by, the girl grew tall, her hair swung long, more and more people of her tribe moved into the northern lands, pressed by the Brönne, who had become increasingly hostile to their former brethren. On the far side of the belt of forest though, in the lands of Bre, the people grew uneasy about all those many Sūr, foreign still, who did not seem to stop spreading in their lands.

(to be continued)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sūrnnencamoraith I

What follows here is the history of the people of Sūr, a tribe of the central plains of Līs. Their history and that of their house of kings, the Monenhan, are threads woven in the great tapestry of the world, stretching back over thousands of years.

This being a history of the people of Sūr, names and particular expressions will be left and given in the form of their tongue, the Llalaruën, or more often (as this concerns much ancient times) that of their ancestors, the old language Sūrwōr. Occasionally, Sabluṅ names or short explanations of otherwise known or important names and particularities may be given in footnotes.

Sūrnenncarmoraith I:

In the early days of the world, the four great Ohamalē, giants of creation and forming, roamed the empty Līs. They were Illa, the colossus of light, Mwlei, colossus of the waters, Ullow, colossus of mountains and valleys, and Rraddoh, colossus of fire.1 Wherever they strode, the world formed, fountains sprang, light shone, life flowered. Being of both sexes, each colossus bore no new of their own but offspring different of their parent, so that the procession of life into the corners of the world continued.

Rraddoh, giant of the fire of life and parent to all human people of Līs, created a line of six beings. Third of his offspring was Calenheliddoeg, who strode into the central plains and there bore six children that were to become leaders of the six great clans of these plains. Their were to be known as the lady Aïu, lord Laun, the lady Mon, lord Brön, the lady Silaë and lord Korroch.2 When Calenheliddoeg, so it is said, created the lady Mon, he wove her out of moonlight's silver rays. Thus had he made great a woman, blessed with moon's wisdom and magic; who though was, while stronger still than all humans after her should ever be, weakest among the six clans' mighty leaders. And therefore she, with all those following her, soke the moonlight, rivers and the winds up north, to find serenity and flee the other leaders' harsh aggression.

Between lake Lley Allon, mount Nollpyrrh and the mighty stream Maeroch's bends, the tribe of Sūr found fertile lands of grassy plains and green hills. Far off the other tribes, life was good and easy, for a time. People multiplied, and soon after reached the Stormy Sea. Over time, the nomads of old began to settle down; at mount Nollpyrrh's feet, lake Lley Allon's head and at the stormy coast. The tribe of Sūr, nomads of the Central Plains, had begun to turn into families living under thatched roofs. Yet, their calm was not to last.

(part two)

1 Their respective Sabluṅ names are: Iñya, Mūlei, Unuwe, Nāmos.
2 Of Aïu, the clan of Al was formed, of Laun that of Lavelil, of Mon the Sūr, of Brön the Brönne, of Silaë the clan of Min and of Korroch the Gor.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sensual Disentanglement

This Saturday marked the joint festivities of the Lucerne City Festival and Lucerne Altstadtfest in one day, topped off by the yearly grand fireworks in the evening. Set over the bay of lake Lucerne, they can comfortably be seen from almost any point along the city’s shoreline, though the real clou is the fireworks being synchronised to music – the latest vogue in fireworks, already old in fact, that has quickly become a must-have for almost any pyrotechnical show.

What, though, of the fireworks? Firstly, I wished I could have seen them, once again, as the very first fireworks I’ve ever beheld. The sad routine of experience and expectation degraded this well done performance into mere flashes of colour, accompanied by their respective thuds and grumbles. Why, I wondered while I tried to open my eyes a little wider than usual, does it have to feel so used, so same-old same-old, when in fact it still is something very special and outstanding to behold? It would have been nice to format that certain memory, before the occasion, and experience the whole thing as a first, again, with respective goose-bumps and day-long remembrance on my retina. I most vividly remember the feeling after my first day riding rollercoasters, lying in bed in the evening, as a child, still feeling the thrill with my whole body, riding the coaster again and again in my head, until I fell asleep.

What, though, of the music?  I am prepared to give Händel his much deserved allowance and excuse for composing such an exquisite accompaniment to fireworks as he did in his Music for the Royal Fireworks, but mid-18th century has been a very different time of perception, at least for me. Then underscoring (royal!) fireworks with music must have been a suitable means of rounding off the occasion and, maybe, enhancing and retouching any shortcomings in the actual pyrotechnics. But nowadays, isn’t it a shame to stand there, already mostly apathetic to true emotional explosions to go with the real-world ones, and have ones senses be further polluted by (on top if it: cheesy) music supposedly in synch with the visuals? Is not one sense and a bit of the rest enough to get us excited? It feels as if we are see-sawing ourselves into more and more of multi-sense pollution to stir whatever emotional response we have for things that much to quickly have become happenings of every-day life and repetition to us.

So I would like, if I may, to invite the though for an imaginary minimalist fireworks. Set on a lake, maybe, or a different landscape with sufficient auditory qualities and a clear view, against the backdrop of a, preferably, slightly hazy night sky (this being an occasion to steal the stars’ show for a while), it requires absolute natural silence from both the audience and the performance itself. No musical underscore, no fanfares, no narration. The audience stands or sits quietly, as in any regular performance and appreciation of (classical) music (yes, coughs and sneezes are, naturally, always included) and all is left for pure fireworks. Solely the sounds of explosions fill our ears, and all else is left for our eyes to take over, take in, fill our minds and foreheads with. Not overly glanderous bouquets of rockets going off to fill the whole scenery, but continuing the minimalist intention, single shots fired, viewed and left their respective time and stage-time. To really take in one thing at a time. Would that not be very desirable, at least sometimes? I very much think so.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The lake

This is fiction.

The lake is always there, though it does not form the stage. With a backdrop of snow clad mountains that roll down in hills towards the lowlands, the lake is this momentous’ orchestration’s base, the lowly slowly carrying train, the movements of which are but almost inconceivable in the vast scale of their pattern.

This lake swells into the town’s bay, its finger stretching, pointing, to the busy shore full of buildings and boats, people and animals, ever restlessly hither-tithering. It gently pushes against the quays and bridges, extending itself through the city, past the shore, into a river; a flow into the lake, through the lake, and from the lake. Ever flowing yet ever resting, the lake is always there, though under its clear surface, this molten sky-snow-ice-glass is never still.

A figure stands at the lake, and all around along the shore so many others, walking, talking, inattentive. This figure stands, his gaze rests far out somewhere on the water, drawn out and wide by a longing in himself, a longing that the lake takes on, draws out into the endless imperfect reflection of one half of this world. The stage is ever reflected by the base line, yet never same.

While he stands at the lake, with all his longings and his sadness, with his loss and all the contents of his little fragile human heart, a million other moments, happenings, events, surround him, arbour-like. Never on person has the might to better, clear, make whole, what broken threads and fractured porcelain innocence lie between two frail and failing human beings. The hurt and hurting, the great loss of words and incongruence of all the relations led from mouth to mouth, all of it collected in the vessel of the human mind, ever to remember, ever to collect; nothing of it in permanence for the lake, its flowing, its liquid glass imperfect reflection, its receptacle of change.

Above the lake, birds fly. Clouds drift by. The sun shines, the stars glister, the moon sings. Sometimes, the sky kisses the lake. Ever, the sky lies in the lake, imperfectly, ever changing.

A human longing, a human hurt, is cast out over the water-sky.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


(click on the images to see bigger versions of them)
Greetings from Lucerne, Switzerland! Since the 24th of February, Martin and I are living in a beautiful flat in the old part of the town, by the lake Vierwaldstätter, in the central area of Switzerland. I have left Vienna for good and moved out of my flat there. Though I live here now, I am still a student of Vienna University, finishing in the months to come the thing left to do for my studies: writing my diploma thesis.

the picturesque old town of Lucerne

inside of which we live

the red circle marks our flat

After the time of exploring, furnishing and settling into the flat, it has become a beautiful and comfortable place both Martin and I call home. The old house, tiny in comparison to Viennese houses, is composed of a Thai restaurant on the ground floor (very yummy, very handy), led by two charming sisters who also own the flat on the first floor. The second floor's flat is owned by our only "real" neighbour, a German man of roughly our age, who is both friendly and polite (and keeps 5 bikes, 4 of which are his). The third and fourth floors, the house's upper portion, make up our flat, which is a maisonette composed of the regular third floor plus a completely renovated big attic. What a change from living in a house of 40 flats to this! And what a change to live in an area of town, where no cars are on the (tiny tiny) streets.

The first real adventure and challenge here was, without a doubt, Swiss Carnevale. Living right at the centre of it proved quite a challenge on the nerves, all around the clock, but also interesting and fascinating. After that, the silence and peace that surrounds the house (especially for me, after my Vienna flat) is astonishing.

Our living room, which is separated by a half-wall from the kitchen.

Kitchen and living room are connected to the hallway, which has the entrance door and bathroom door on one side, and that to the study on the other. At the end of the hallway, as seen in the picture above, is the door to the balcony, and the stairs winding up to the top floor.

The top floor is a huge room with pitched walls on three sides and lovely dark wooden beams under the (low) ceiling. We’ve separated it into two parts by means of a shelf, one side for the bed, the other for all kinds of other things. Sitting on the ground with pillows, blankets and sheepskins, it is a cosy place to have tea or play board games. At the far end, there is a particularly sunny window with an armchair by it, where I very much enjoy sitting in the open window and reading, in the sun, when the weather is fine.

Our balcony, the last picture, is still rather dire as of now, apart from the Tibetan prayer flags already giving a hint of colour. But flower seeds are already bought, and pots standing in waiting to be filled and put out. As the weather is getting warmer and warmer, I’ll soon start raising my seedlings.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Rhapsody in Blue

Another day for Rhapsody in Blue, just like yesterday, another day when nothing really matters. Having tea with Gershwin.

Bernstein takes me by the hand, and we walk through America, an America that wove itself new and full and bustling out of a million dreams every second, and an orchestra, endlessly stretching until the horizon, plays the Rhapsody in a never ending liquid train of blue that ebbs and flows, comes and goes, like the sea washing this America's shores and the people therein, and all their dreams combined, rising and swirling, hunting and longing, and everything happens without anything, every moment hung up like the tiniest note on a sheet, and yet everything in this marvellously dazzling train that allows us never to stop, never to look back, never to tire, just as it never seems to, never wants to, tire.

Next to me, Bernstein with seeming effortlessness dreams out all the strong and subtle, languid and dancing machinery of piano that keeps this train going, not with his hands (his still gently holding mine) but with his brows, his deep eyes, all the world’s most exquisite pianos rising behind his forehead, stretching out to the orchestra, until the horizon, across the coming and going of this auditory landscape, all features bursting alive and filling everything around us with, yes, this America.

Before the crescendo of crescendos happens, I feel it rising around us, like a wave, storm, a swarm, and for an instant Bernstein leans back at my side, a little sideways, and our ears, now, stretch until the sky, welcoming this inescapable swelling and overwhelming acceleration of our train, lifting us not higher but wider, until we stretch out over all this dream landscape and everything clashes, washes, dives into us and outward, rippling until the end of our orchestra, which has now become this America, just as we have, this vertiginous construct of shimshimmery dreams and realities, and everything happens endlessly interlaced, entangled like an equation birthing boundlessly new equations, until the very horizon around us rises up, folds itself towards us, inward, only to blossom gently with this imagined flower, immeasurably encompassing this gigantic machinery we have been dreaming up, until it all falls away on a whim, it seems, dissipating into the empty space it filled.

Bernstein still holds my hand, and we look, with eyes a little glazed, at the moments stretching out behind us, take a sip of that tea, and continue onward, again, towards the horizon, where else.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Looking West

“A! Elbereth Gilthoniel!
silivren penna míriel
o menel aglar elenath,
Gilthoniel, A! Elbereth!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees
The starlight on the Western Seas.”
J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lord of The Rings, Book Six, The Grey Havens

When I walk down the street I live in, with its mobile phone bodegas, one Euro shops, veiled women and perfume bathed boys, it leads to a bridge over the little river Wien, sharing its name with the city, that runs into the Danube further down, having passed through and underneath the city’s central districts.

Passing over that bridge, my view is directed, always and inevitably, westward. And in this certain instance, the direction almost perfectly matches the real compass quarter. The view thus leads upstream towards the edge of the city, passing castle Schönbrunn and leading on to the hills of the Wienerwald beyond the periphery. Naturally, this is an imagined view, as far as the mind’s local horizon carries it, in fact obstructed by a slight bend of the river, bridges, houses, and other structures. What it shows, though, at all times, is a corridor towards the West, a gaze that leaves the city rather than moving towards its centre (which would be, theoretically, gazing into the opposite direction), a gaze also that reveals the endlessly different and beautiful skies of the moment and, catching the right times, the western directions possibly greatest treasure: the sunset.

In me, this view is at all times a powerful conglomeration of emotions and associations. Gazing out of the city, seeing much more of the open sky than many other times, down in the deep canyons of Viennese streets, but there is more to it than that. For, most times I pass this bridge, it is on the way to the city’s main (international) train station: the Westbahnhof. And every time I go there, or to other large train stations, be it to embark on an own journey, or to pick someone up or see them off, an almost irresistible longing to travel envelops me. Boarding a train with the most remote destination possible and letting it carry you away, through gradually less familiar lands and landscapes, always this same longing. Thus has passing over this bridge and gazing West taken on my intense longing for journey, and every time I cast that look, I am captured by the same feeling.

In this very personal sense, the direction of West has a very distinct and special emotional meaning to me. It means embarking on a journey into the direction of sunset’s most beautiful light, travelling through the night and re-emerging into a far away day. Is that not, in a sense, the same longing Tolkien imprinted his Elves with? It might be me and my associations, but marching to the Grey Havens to board a ship that will carry you hence into the West, over the mighty sea, is just that emotion I was trying to describe. That certain sense of longing, intertwined with the most beautiful melancholy of parting and moving on.

Soon, I will take my Grey Ship and journey on into the West. My days in Vienna are drawing to their close.

In that time the last of the Noldor set sail from the Havens and left Middle-earth for ever. And latest of all the Keepers of the Three Rings rode to the Sea, and Master Elrond took there the ship that Círdan had made ready. In the twilight of autumn it sailed out of Mithlond, until the seas of the Bent World fell away beneath it, and the winds of the round sky troubled it no more, and borne upon the high airs above the mists of the world it passed into the Ancient West, and an end was come for the Eldar of story and song.”
J.R.R. Tolkien: The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age