Looking back… #Iamwriting

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Last winter, there was ice on the windows… Perhaps, now, we miss that cold edge to the air?

The long walks along the river, the parcs, the lakes. A cold Sekt on a bench, long rides in the vibrating forests, the discovery of ancient sites, the monuments to deep history…

The storm. Each day counted, a boat trip on the lake, an hour in the museum, Luther, Sans Souci… Ruinenberg…

Yes, some short stories, but the novel is still beached, going nowhere. Does it matter?

No, it was a good year. Each day counted, 1937, a look into a recent past, and, wrapped in mist, a further away time: what ghosts roam in those older streets?

Discoveries: characters to make alive, tales to tell, dreams to repeat.

Inspiration: each new dawn, nature fighting back, art… The dark Muse.

Books? Turing, Wittgenstein, The Plot Against America, Silk Roads, Musil…

We are grateful for every morning, in the City of Faust: a Moveable Feast…

Photo: Air-raid shelter in Berlin at the Reinhardtstraße. At the present it is used as a private museum for contemporary art of art collector Christian Boros. On the top of the shelter is a reproduction of the Barcelona-Pavillion.

By Times – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3950214

 

Le grand homme de la nuit

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The park is immense: we leave the car near the house on the lake, where the couple lived, and where, we can imagine, Hélène planned her acquisitions. We walk around the house, a structure that inspires solid wealth, and a longing for a bygone age. The sombre bricks reflect in the water, children have left their bikes against the steps that lead to the wide terrace. We follow a narrow path that serpents on what must be, in winter, a very wet land. The ground is soft but almost dry, despite the recent torrential rain. The path takes us to a square building, in the style of the house, which encloses a well. Nearby we leave the main track to circle around a small pond covered with lilies: a beautiful toad meditates on one of the larger leaves, impassible. But we want to see the museum and the famed arboretum. Most visitors are cycling and we feel somewhat ashamed of driving.
The sculpture garden closes at four thirty, so we decide to go and see the Van Gogh gallery first, then visit the garden – a museum of modern sculptures and installations. Hélène had good taste, and a large (they say “unlimited”) budget. She bought Van Gogh both before the painter had achieved fame, and later. His early work is astounding: Van Gogh painted peasants in his native land. The Potatoes Eaters show the rugged faces and hands of a poor family, lunching under the light of a small petrol lamp. The beautiful Dutch white coiffes contrast with the dark garments. The profiles are almost medieval. The collection is an amazing treasure trove. We recognise some the best known paintings, the postman and his wife, the village main square at night – the stars in the Mediterranean sky! – the light of Provence. Hélène bought many avant-garde paintings, Seurat, Picasso, Monet, Mondrian… An hour goes by and we haven’t seen more than a third of the museum. You say that we ought to visit the garden, and then come back to see as much as we can before closure.
This is an enchanted place: the sunlight bounces across the green lawns, and lits the sculptures scattered over open spaces, reflecting in small basins, or part hidden in the trees. You guide us through the maze, and we watch, mesmerised, the variety of inspirations and forms. There is la femme accroupie de Rodin, there the columns of the Sacred Grove

Later, you walk back to the museum, as I continue to explore the garden.
I retrace our steps, and discover more hidden treasures. It is there, a little away from the main path, that I sense him. He stands, in the shade of a large tree, on a block of stone so that his small size is not immediately evident. As I look up the reptilian face, taking in the short arms, terminated into powerful triangular wings, and the cruel hooves, the sun disappears behind a dark cloud. The face is inscrutable, the enormous penis, half erect, exudes menace. I dare take a first picture that turns out blank, then try again, this time more successfully. I read the legend, “Le grand homme de la nuit”, and the name of the artist, Germaine Richier (1904-1959). I can no longer hear voices, nor the laughter of children playing on the grass. I feel the malevolent presence, and ask myself, was Germaine his victim? Suddenly I feel the need to move away from le grand homme.

I walk back to the museum, and look for you. “Did you see anything interesting?” you ask. “It’s a delightful place, and we must come back for another visit…” I reply cheerfully.

Inspired by a visit to the Kröller-Müller park and museum, near Arnheim, Netherlands

Germaine Richier (en français)

Culture #DailyPost

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

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It’s all that we have learnt, and forgotten. It’s all that we remember, suddenly, as we walk through the woods, and see the castle, across the lake, which reminds us of beauty and the beast, of treasure island, of snow-white and her friends the dwarves… It’s all that may reappear, in our dreams, in the soft ripples of desires and memories. It may even be about a lost ring?

We follow the lane, our steps made silent by the thick cover of dead leaves. We cannot be sure who lived here, did they write symphonies, or wrote novels? Or did they study the dark heart of time? Were they wizards, or evil magicians? Did they come from the underworld, or from an island, far away, across an immense ocean? Are they still alive?

Behind those trees, we see the old school, the coal fire burning, the ancient wooden floor. It is what will remain when we are ready to embark, on our last voyage…

Photo: Schloß Dammsmühle, Brandenburg, © 2016 Honoré Dupuis

Albrecht Dürer: Hieronymus Holzschuher, 1526

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What is hidden behind the patrician gaze, the powerful shoulders, the venerable beard and white mane? In our Lord’s year of 1526, much is still to happen in your country… But where is your country?  Is it Bavaria? So tells us history… What dreams or wild ambitions do your calm eyes keep away from us?

You could tell us much we would love to know. 1526… the Reformation was nine years old, soon the long wars would start that would ravage the German lands…

Photo: Albrecht Dürer, Hieronymus Holzschuhen – 1526, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

#FiveSentenceFiction: Villainous

DSC_0517We met in the Alte Nationalgallerie, in Faust’s metropolis, admiring old masters, he, well into eighteenth century German painting, and I, as ever the historian, researching the pre-1870 period, before the Iron Kingdom turned into the centre of the new Reich.

A passing comment, near Toteninsel of Arnold Böcklin, started up our conversation.

“I can’t locate your accent,” he said smiling, and I recognised, just in time, the smile of Gerard Philippe in La Beauté du Diable…

“I was born here” I replied, “but have travelled a bit since then.”

“I like that,” continued the Devil, “Art and travel make for a healthy mind, don’t you think?”

#WritersWednesday: September 11, 2013

Reflections on a dying Summer

Neue Wache Today is a day of mourning, for all those who died twelve years ago, for all those who died or were maimed in the years that followed since, sacrificed on the altars of folly, greed and bigotry. We will never forget. We will continue to pray for your souls. The world may have avoided – is it too early to hope once again? – another folly. Alas, we know, not for everyone.

Yet I wish to reflect on this Summer too, and the joys it brought to our lives, the cities we visited, the signs of life and hope we witnessed.

Yes, for a few days, we wanted to forget, to drown in the happy crowds, to savour art, the sounds of happiness, the beautiful faces of women. From time to time we too sink in blissful selfishness. And who could blame us?

Faces? Nina in London, Sarah in Berlin, Elsa in Paris… We admire you, we are puzzled, we search for meaning… As we witness the premises of Fall we relive little slices, cherished moments, of what is already our, and your, past, and wish we could watch this film, over and over again. But what remains is merely a few pictures, and some writing…

So, on this Writer’s Wednesday, we wish you, readers, a happy Autumn – or, perhaps, is it Spring for you? Love will save this world, for Love is immortal.

Photograph: Käthe Kollwitz’ Pietà, Neue Wache, Berlin (©2013 Honoré Dupuis)

#TellMeAboutYourself ~ an Award

tellme_award Gracious and talented Katherine Hopkins, who hails from the KD Defehr poetry and photography blog (btw is the actual photography blog at http://kristydefehr.wordpress.com/?), has nominated this sinner for the Tell Me About Yourself Award, which made me blush no end through my January suntan… Thank you Katherine: you are an angel and a very promising young woman, who wrote: “However, I’ve found that one other thing, beside my mind’s indecency, is for absolute certain. With a pen in my hand (or my fingers on a keyboard) I am at peace. When I’m in that zone and I’m writing, the places that I feel with my heart and think with my mind suddenly join and they become one. Suddenly, I’m free and I’m safe and I’m so filled with excitement by the possibilities of what I could create with this new found sense of power and enlightenment. The words surge through me and they become stories, images and messages. They become my voice and they fill my body until, all at once, I’m not just another sad and confused teenager. I’m an artist, and I can do anything with my talent if I allow it to guide me. I can be anyone and do anything through the words that I write and the characters that I create… because they’re mine.” How beautiful is that? Btw don’t miss Katherine’s funny pics: well worth a visit!

I wish to thank also Green Cheata (at http://greencheata.wordpress.com/) without whom none of this would have happened! Do visit the blogs of those talented people readers! Green Cheata picks up a poetry pen on Tuesdays and Thursdays: please note…

I admit not to have done my research on this award, so I am following Katherine blindly! Now, as you probably know if you have paid more than one or two visits to these pages, I am horribly shy talking about myself, and end up talking about my work! So here we go again ;-P

  1. Confession: I am desperately in love with two women: one is my (real) wife, Gorgeous, and the other, well, is the main character of my novel in making, Melissa of the Page fame… As a matter of fact both are present in these pages, somewhere!
  2. My third love is the mountains, and particularly the Dolomiti Alps, in Northern Italy.
  3. I write almost every day, but this writing is dispersed – small bits, big chunks of the main work, all depends on inspiration… and those characters.
  4. Julian, my significant male character is – I swear – not me! Paul (of Arrakis fame) might be, in some weird way.
  5. I train, or run, three times a week, and try to run 5k once a week, with 10k thrown in in Summer. I admire Haruki who runs a marathon before b’fast!
  6. In various posts of this blog I have written about reading – I even have a page on the subject, thinking about it! – at the moment I am reading Justin Cronin’s “The Passage“, which I find fascinating. In parallel I am reading Ray Monk’s biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer “Inside The Centre” (more about both in future posts…)
  7. Rest of the time I fiddle with my loyal Nikon (see http://thiscornerofthewoods.wordpress.com/)

Nominations: new friends, old friends, a mix…

  1. Benjamin at http://benjaminprewitt.com/, a beautiful art and poetry blog
  2. Rumpy Dog at http://rumpydog.com/
  3. The Clown on Fire at http://clownonfire.wordpress.com/
  4. Girl on the Contrary: unforgettable! http://girlonthecontrary.com/
  5. Steven Watkins at http://stevenwwatkins.com/
  6. Layla at http://lalammar.net/
  7. Lesaf & twig at http://leafandtwig.wordpress.com/

 

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