Saturday 23 February 2008

So auf Erden

Aber wir, zufrieden gesellt, wie die liebenden Schwäne,
Wenn sie ruhen am See, oder, auf Wellen gewiegt,
Niedersehn in die Wasser, wo silberne Wolken sich spiegeln,
Und ätherisches Blau unter den Schiffenden wallt,
So auf Erden wandelten wir.

Friedrich Hölderlin (Menons Klagen um Diotima)

But we, contentedly joined, like the loving swans who
When they rest upon the lake, or rock upon the waves,
Look down into the waters, where silver clouds mirror themselves,
And ethereal blue moves beneath the shipping
So upon the earth did we roam.



  1. "..because when these birds feel that the time has come for them to die, they sing more loudly and sweetly than they have sung in all their lives before, for joy that they are going away into the presence of the god whose servants they are. It is quite wrong for human beings to make out that the swans sing their last song as an expression of grief at their approaching end; people who say this are misled by their own fear of death, and fail to reflect that no bird sings when it is hungry or cold or distressed in any other way; not even the nightingale or swallow or hoopoe, whose songs are supposed to be a lament. In my opinion neither they nor the swans sing because they are sad. I believe that the swans, belonging as they do to Apollo, have prophetic powers and sing because they know the good things that await them in the unseen world; and they are happier on that day than they have been ever before."

  2. But even if people (some of them at least) believe that the good things await them in the unseen world, does this really help? brush away the fear of death? and philosophy certainly doesn't, well, at least our Western kind of... the mind is really so helpless here. only believing (rational type of) that the soul is immortal etc, won't do much good in the absence of a real spiritual perception. or at least I think - I feel - so.
    ps. still thinking about Freud's words - how he paints people and why - wondering what I search for when I photograph people. thank you for the miscellaneous. oh and I had almost forgotten - what is it today? cinnemon rolls again? :-)

  3. Hello, Roxana.

    Does it help? don't know. Maybe it does for some. Does it do away with the fear of death? Doubt it. That is probably always with us and anyway, that type of serenity is, perhaps-for modern sensibilities at least- regarded with some suspicion.

    True, agree with you. But is it really about a believing *mind*. It seems as if part of the problem is thinking that philosophy *could* do away with the fear..

    real spiritual perception. Yes, I think you're right, Roxana. Except I don't think this is an extraordinary thing. Even if that swan song lasts for but a moment who is to say that it is so rare. I'm not just talking about artists, but even in an everyday way people live with hope of something might say that this is a memory of 'the Garden'.

    But maybe Plato got it wrong when saying that there is *no* sadness. Maybe it is *also* a lament for the passing away of finitude and identity, the end of the search. In that case it would be altogether more mysterious.."soaring, fading" (Goethe) .

    cinammon rolls! Hey, what do you think I am , a glutton!?

    Er..actually, it was a cake today, appropriately called 'death-by-chocolate'. Not sure if one dies from longing for it, or from having it. Like the swan, it is hard to know which death is better!

    Keep well,


  4. I asked my students once to answer a survey - and one of the questions was - "how would you like to die?" would you believe that many of them answered "because of too much chocolate" ? no, I'm just pulling your leg :-) it was mostly "I don't want to die at all". why won't you try some bitterverybitter chocolate instead? is a bitter longing not preferable to a sweet one? at least poets would think so :-)

  5. Too much bitterness is like too much sweetness: unbearable.

    and surely the poets only dream of bitterness, or put it in words, thereby making it sweet! :)

    All the charm, it would seem, is in what is bitter-sweet!

    I like your students answer! Why should they think of death? They are young! To *think* of death is already to die a little, no?

  6. I've just come across something which will (maybe) make you laugh, as we really should on such a beautiful spring day (here also) - not serenity when it comes about death but humour :-)
    so here is your death by cake:

    [hm, not that I imagine you are a gorgeous young beautiful woman :-) but who knows]
    you will find also "death by chocolate" but my favourite is "death by bananas". Alok should see this also, he is such a fan of horror movies, isn't he?
    Yes, bittersweet is best :-)

  7. sorry, I don't know how to paste this, it should be of course one continuous line:

  8. Buna Andreea,

    mai intru uneori si ma mai uit la pozele tale dar nu prea am timp sa las comentarii destepte...Deh, singurul neuron care mi-a mai ramas trebuie menajat si el cat de cat, macar pana scap de examenele astea enervante. Mi-a placut mult link-ul cu "Drop Dead Gorgeous" pentru ca reflecta dependenta noastra nu numai de produse, ci si de imagini si detalii. Nu mi se pare neaparat cinstit ca sunt numai femei in pozele cu pricina. Dar in mod cert se explica prin atractia pe care o exercita asupra privitorilor a woman in distress :-) Astea sunt, desigur, foarte departe de genul de fotografii pe care le faci tu, si poate de-asta si e interesant ca te-au atras.

    Sper ca esti bine. Am auzit ca va pregatiti de botez. Sper sa iasa totul bine si sa aveti multa bafta in continuare in toate! Te pup

    P.S.Poate postezi niste poze si cu Clara--la urma urmei, ce poate fi mai gingas decat un copil, nu orice copil?

  9. Nu stiam ca te uiti pe blogul meu, Gabi. Imi plac multe lucruri si ar fi plictisitor daca mi-ar placea numai stilul in care fotografiez eu, nu? :-) Insa cred ca aici tocmai din aceasta cauza sunt numai femei, pentru ca se incearca deconstuirea unor clisee culturale, cum ar fi cel al Ofeliei, asa cum a fost el teoretizat de Poe, sau in varianta romaneasca "fata tanara pe patul mortii". Asa ca mesajul si prin aceasta este unul subsersiv. Numai bine si tie.

  10. Roxana, hello.

    Yuo knw what, my first thougt on seeing that was" food mountains and the waste of food.

    No, imagine away all you like:) can call me Betty, and I'll call you al

    Hope all is well.