Thursday, 30 July 2009

on mountains most separate


Nah ist
Und schwer zu fassen der Gott.
Wo aber Gefahr ist, wächst
Das Rettende auch.
Im Finstern wohnen
Die Adler und furchtlos gehn
Die Söhne der Alpen über den Abgrund weg
Auf leichtgebaueten Brüken.
Drum, da gehäuft sind rings
Die Gipfel der Zeit, und die Liebsten
Nah wohnen, ermattend auf
Getrenntesten Bergen,
So gib unschuldig Wasser,
O Fittige gib uns, treuesten Sinns
Hinüberzugehn und wiederzukehren.

Friedrich Hölderlin

Near is,
And difficult to grasp, the God.
But where danger threatens
That which saves from also grows.
In gloomy places dwell
The eagles, and fearless over
The chasm walk the sons of the Alps
On bridges lightly built.
Therefore, since round about
Are heaped the summits of Time
And the most loved live near, growing faint
On mountains most separate,
Give us innocent water,
O pinions give us, with minds most faithful
To cross over and to return.

(tr. M. Hamburger)



  1. all seems to be working!

    i like the pic/holderlin combo as i'm just after reading something about the german psyche and landscape

  2. who can write words like that... words that become arrows of meaning, no impediment.

    like your photos, i love them and the combination.


  3. the light in this picture is fantastic!! unexpected! coming from where, I don't know. I hope you have sorted your pixel problem: some friends told me blogger is suffering from few things in this days

    On another topic, I am going to Germany in few days, I wander if I'll see what you suggest! :)

  4. Good morning, again middle of the night, time which seems to be just right, to see what you did write.
    Reading also about 'the german psyche' - well, being a German don't know whether there is a special kind of German one, nevertheless learned from early one to continue and not to give up, as there will be light making bright the new day, even if that means to walk in shoes found in the street.

  5. Continuing our conversation, I was thinking about Susan Sontag and photography. Baudelaire, the French poet, had the same prescient feeling about the camera. He, long before Sontag's proclamation that we are in the vortex of a new visual code, distrusted the camera. Is a photograph a record of reality? Has everything, as Sontag implies, already been photographed or are we witnessing a final explosion of the real.

    Baudelaire disliked the camera for the same reason I do - in sleep as in art, what's the use of reality. At the time, of course, the camera was in its embryonic infancy, and, he seemed to shun the notion that it was a still birth. Instead, to him, it heralded a sort of unstoppable "reality" monster and was the bane of the true artist.

    From that moment onwards, our loathsome society rushed, like Narcissus, to contemplate its trivial image on a metallic plate. A form of lunacy, an extraordinary fanaticism took hold of these new sun-worshipers.

    - Charles Baudelaire.

    Which brings us to your photographs. The though I had, and I want to ask you how you feel about this, concerns the permanence of photographs. If they are to be a record, should they not aspire to permanency? How would you feel, if tomorrow, all you work disappeared? Would it be a crisis? If the photos are a record of some sort, then perhaps it would. But what if, instead, they were like a jazz improvisation - unscripted, drawn out of the ether, transient, yet having the potential to be inexorably and deeply affecting. The improvisation is decidedly for the moment, but draws from a deep, inexhaustible well.

    When Keith Jarret plays a solo concert, he does not touch the piano for days. He wants to arrive at the concert hall with nothing in his head or fingers. He does not know what he is about to play. Then, like a wave of unbound energy, a fragment unfolds. Is this not what your photography is? We see, we absorb, we partake in the sensuality - and then its true ephemeral character is revealed.

    I'm afraid I was a little tongue tied the last time - for your work ensnares me!

    One final thought. I was desperately trying to pinpoint what the mountains evoked in me. It was later that I realized that the photos reminded me of something. The clash of east and west, and the images of the villages in Alexandre Sukorov's Days of The Eclipse.

  6. glory.
    that color of yellow hidden or glinting in the round of otherness!!!

    love the line, Give us innocent water; it seems to just turn the whole sentiment into a new; a clean expansion.

    Opening the page, your image took my breath away.

    Thank you.

  7. the earth seems flattened by the weight of the clouds... (i'm drawn back to see & read, again and again)

  8. Jarrett takes two ts - do you see how you ensnare me?

  9. the scenes automatically make me breathe in deep. thanks roxana~~

    Next wednesday I will be on my way to my new town..Toronto. I love both cities. :-)

  10. Hi roxana.

    you must never say that i have honoured you by asking you for that photo-quote thing. never, please.

    you are an artiste, the honour is mine and i don't like to praise you too much! you sh'd leave the technical difficulties of uploading photos to someone you can these days, elves, nymphs, cronopios, famas and esperanzas do come if called at the right time in that tenor and pitch which they can respond.they be just an arm's reach away.

  11. swiss, what on earth have you been reading? german psyche and landscape, wow :-)
    i had to read something on the same topic for an essay i intended to write, but it was only on romantic landscapes in german culture.
    i am sure Robert wants to know as well (being the only German reader of my blog :-)

  12. Michael, i assume 'yay' is something good - but i don't know if one can 'yay'-back in English? :-)

  13. Manuela, yes, i understand you perfectly: who can write words like that - well, i don't know of many who can. that's why Hoelderlin is Hoelderlin. the very essence of Poetry, indeed, for me, here.

    i don't know how i dared to put my images next to that, but i am happy you liked the way they combined. and you even came back for them, wow :-)

  14. dearest Marta, what a joy to hear from you - and you even like my mountain light, and you even go to Germany in the next days :-) a conference? where? will you post about the trip on your sand pages?

  15. merc, every time you come to tell me this, i know it is good and i know i can rejoice. thank you.

  16. Robert, it is evening now so i have to wish you a lovely evening and a new night full of light, in the lemon tree house! i am glad you returned.
    i don't know about national psyche either, i am aware of the whole discussion about Volkstuemlichkeit etc. in German culture - and we've certainly got our own tradition claiming special virtues for the Romanian psyche - i understand why this topic is so fascinating, people need their mythologies...

  17. dear dear Prospero - what you do to me with your long, insightful, captivating comments :-) challenging ones as well - as i normally avoid to conceptualize the photographic act (my recent writing on the Foolishness is an exception). i know people disliking photography and i know there are many reasons which could be brought up against it. Baudelaire's is just one among many. But very interesting indeed, since Baudelaire was one of the most fervent advocates of modernity, defending the creativity and freedom of the fleeting moment against the rigid heaviness of tradition.
    Personally, i don't agree with him, even if i understand his perspective: what fascinates me is that the world seen through the lense is, on the contrary, something else than the reality otherwise perceived through my eyes. isn't this why Surrealists were so captivated by the new medium? because they understood it could bring them closer to unfold that sur-realité they were seeking.

    your question about the ephemerity of photography is a very difficult one. i can tell you that it is a big crisis, a trauma even, if it happens that the negatives are lost or destroyed before i get to see the pictures. it has happened before and i am still obsessed with those lost images, still see the scenes i photographed in my head, even after three years. i don't know to explain why, and why the feeling of loss tears me inside. but it is easier if i have seen the pictures - i am sad to lose them, of course, but it is not a tragedy. i have to ponder this difference, i suspect it has something to do with memory and the construction of self: if i saw the images, worked on the pictures, they are alive in me, no matter what happens with their material support. but i don't know, and i don't venture to speculate at this point.

    and if you bring up Jarrett (one t or two, no matter :-) and Sokurov when talking about my photos, ah, Prospero, what do you expect me to do? :-) mute with joy, that i am. i have recently discovered Sokurov with his Oriental Elegy and i am overwhelmed. i wish i would have shot a picture for every frame of that film.

  18. Peter, thank you for coming to breathe deeply on the Bridge even while you are enjoying your holiday in the far-away and mysterious Korea :-) i see how happy you are there and i hope you will feel like this also after returning - I know you love Toronto very much, as well, and you surely must be right about that.

  19. ah, mansuetude, how you know to point immediately to the essence of an image: that color of yellow hidden or glinting in the round of otherness - that is indeed a glorious line, and if my pictures inspired it, i am more than happy!

    i thank you for your warmth and kindness, and for the very special gaze you have.

  20. kubla, beside doing me such an honour (calling me an artist), you also give me the credit of being able to find the right tone of the voice (or the right song, or the right image, more precisely) to lure elves, nymphs, cronopios, famas and esperanzas out of their hidden places :-) if only this were true! i can only wish my Bridge were large enough to accomodate all of them, for my dreams surely are...

  21. I visited earlier, some days ago, and saw this post was removed, and now I am so happy it has returned.

    I have this sense that your camera, becomes a living, breathing instrument in your hands. As if it takes some part of your essence and infuses its own mechanics, and magic, with you. As though your breath is the film, and your kiss is the photograph.


  22. in short

    i was reading some travel book in which, due to the guy wandering about, he described germans as 'a foresty people'. and maybe goethe, who seems like a forest.

    i look back at friedrich, the chasseur picture, and anselm kiefer, and i'm willing to go with it.

  23. oh S., my dear, what lovely lovely description - i only wish it were really like this - sometimes i do feel like this, yes, in the purest, happiest, ecstasy moments - but then i have to be careful not to think to much about why and how, one doesn't think at all during a kiss, no? :-) and perhaps even less when breathing.

    to have you here is such a joy.

  24. swiss, i love Friedrich so much (of course!), about Kiefer, mixed feelings. actually i too have mixed feelings about this question of the national psyche - in fact this term is perhaps not the best one, but if one speeks of 'imaginaire collectif', in the way French theories of the imaginary use it, then i tend to think it can be an interesting approach. i will answer more soon :-)

  25. très belle photo j'aime les couleurs qui offre le coeur ouvert vers les autre; pas besoin d'ans faire plus