Saturday, October 30, 2010
“He became frightened of flowers because they grew so slowly that he couldn’t tell what they planned to do.”
These wine-leaf-brown prose fragments need no page numbering, these chance discoveries connect one's own feelings to those of kindred spirits and now fill the room, a place of chamotte-golden daylight, they vibrate and swing, are highly vivacious attractors of thought, grains of salt to garland the sting of death, nourishing light set against the dark premonition of a final end to the godless Western world and its consuming despair.
They can be found in a sensuous treasure chest of similar dimensions, weight, and texture as a smallish cigar-case, one that might hold five Havanas. A deliberate piece of art, a vignette of death, sways in relief at the cover’s middle: the stylized figure of a doomed little ship on calm seas, emblem and symbol of the human soul equipped for certain death.
Its cross is proud and questioning simultaneously- though ever dependent on a deeper center, from which its perpendicularity is derived and its echo resounds.
From its pale blue frame, it partakes in the triumph of the already-dead: Nevermore will we die.
Calm and silence, time’s greatest tools, heal everything- because time gets lost in itself, recedes completely, forgets itself- only thus is the wide sea of soul released.
That is the promise kept by this little book, this compendium of thoughts and images materialized from realms of the in-between.
Toward the end of the book, mysterious credits embrace the thinkers who brought forth its fruit. There are great names, who here withdraw behind the greatness of their words- as if all of them were written by one single man, one single soul expressing itself in the book.
Whoever is willing to take it up, gains the self and the silence to confront horror.
The blossoms of a black spring: the intimation that the very first things will be met again at the very end.
And not as religion would have these things, but as they are held commonly, as every person may perceive them, coming into flower so "slowly that he couldn't tell what they planned to do..."
Here everything is true and deep. No idea harasses, no image squints in judgment at an observer. They are sufficient to their own ends and, self-sustaining, reach far into open space- even into one’s own thinking!
They give themselves freely to one who understands love. One who searches using the same questions, scouring the immeasurable for faint traces, clues which are held dearer than one’s own decay. For ars moriendi has always begun with the first heartbeat, and they who make life ravishing, exuberant, and worth living belong to a unique school of magic, whose alumni are only reared correctly on a diet of the entirely other-than-ordinary - the Different required by death.
A reliable friend is death, his companions reliable friends. In each present, passing moment, the dead and the living mold this world jointly. This view is the only possible basis for action in a world so nearly blind.
The hide of the blind pony acts as blanket to the gathered people. Together they acquire the horse’s strength- unending fortitude and vigor. Oh, they stagger in the lurching movements of purposeful action, they climb, they copulate, they shelter within themselves, they dis-mean, they mis-live, they cannot recognize the conditions of their existence.
Death finally removes the blanket, allowing them to see freely.
The images in the book show such sights. Out of the mist - out of these white shadows surrounding the self-searcher - emerge dark forebodings- aquarelles possessing the soul's tenderness, violence and loving clear-sight.
Again and again, the animals in the paintings, who seem quite unloosed from mortality, are envoys of the other side.
If they die, they die only allegorically, calmly.
If there is drama, it is only in our eyes, the eyes of the human spectator.
Perhaps such is required for us to empathize and to understand their message.
Again and again, the ships, which we ourselves are.
Again and again, man in all his magnificence and sorrow, his doubts and wild errors.
And - surprising and novel - this whole book intrinsically rubs against the grain: nevermore will we die...
Much more than a book. A rescinding of time and space, of reason and logic, limitation and finitude, of the lust for a future and validation by a past.
There is a totally different and new space-time continuum in these pages, breathing eternity out into eternity. Whoever wills is in the heart of it: nave, navel, naval, ship.
Where we come from and where we go remain numinous.
But in tender arms we sway and are secure.
This book will accompany me until I see the archetypes of its images.
It is - to stout hearts - everything in a nutshell. It is - to the rational - a font of steady confrontation. To the dying - a treasure hoard beyond description. To the most vital among us - a very, very good compass.
Compass? Yes. A compassion they must dare to aim inward.
"Among the dead are thousands of beautiful women."
- Susanne Bummel-Vohland
translated from the German by Kristofor Minta and Susanne Bummel-Vohland