One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rom, Palazzo Altemps, schlafende Erinye (sleeping Erinye)

Apparently, this is the Head of a Sleeping Erinys (so-called Medusa Ludovisi) alluded to in Frisch's Homo Faber.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Nabokov's "Real Life"

Just a few bullets re things that pleased or tickled me (this time around) in Nabokov's (ECRIVAIN'S) The Real Life of Sebastian Knight:

  • and by the way how queer it is when you look at an old picture postcard (like the one I have placed on my desk to keep the child of memory amused for a moment) to consider the haphazard way Russian cabs had of turning whenever they liked, anywhere and anyhow, so that instead of the straight, self-conscious stream of modern traffic one sees--on this painted photograph--a dream-wide street with droshkies all awry under incredibly blue skies, which, farther away, melt automatically into a pink flush of mnemonic banality
  • home only meaning to her the comfort of constant change
  • a little black chess-knight drawn in ink
  • eucalyptus, its bark half stripped away, as seems to be always the case with this sort of tree
  • Lausanne
  • water-color view of Chillon castle
  • The Doubtful Asphodel
  • "submental grunt"
  • longed to say something real, something with wings and a heart, but the birds I wanted settled on my shoulders and head only later when I was alone and not in need of words
  • The eye-spot of his awakening
  • "Conradish" and suggested his leaving out the "con" and cultivating the "radish" in future works
  • things like that are the darlings of oblivion
  • Remember that what you are told is really threefold: shaped by the teller, reshaped by the listener, concealed from both by the dead man of the tale
  • X.'s inner world (which is no more than a tube-station during rush hours)
  • The Lethean Library, for all its incalculable volumes, is, I know sadly incomplete without Mr. Goodman's effort
  • the bridging of the abyss lying between expression and thought
  • a red-capped German gnome peeping bright-eyed at her from among the dead leaves of a hollow
  • "No, Leslie," says Sebastian from the floor, "I'm not dead. I have finished building a world, and this is my Sabbath rest."

Friday, April 27, 2012

London Eye

London eye by ÅßÐÜLMΔJΣΣÐ
London eye, a photo by ÅßÐÜLMΔJΣΣÐ on Flickr.
This one I rode. It gives a great view along the Thames.

The "Original" Ferris Wheel

Ferris Wheel (1893, Chicago)
[From WikiMedia Commons]

The Third Man

The Third Man by Michiel2005
The Third Man, a photo by Michiel2005 on Flickr.
Vienna's Riesenrad

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What I'm Reading Now

Finished with Frisch's Homo Faber. Started re-reading Nabokov's The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (via Kindle). Have also put Junger's Storm of Steel aside (don't worry, I'll come back to it--learned yesterday that Junger also visited Heidegger in Todtnauberg) in order to read a selection of Hugo von Hofmannsthal's writings (of course I was after his famous Ein Brief = A Letter, aka "The Lord Chandos Letter," but the volume from NYRB, intro by John Banville, threw in more than that).

I've already read "A Letter" (which I already knew about some--because of Coetzee and my own stumbling research). The translator is also the "arranger" (Joel Rotenberg) of the selected writings, and he elected to put it last:

Since this is a selection, the fourteen pieces are arranged according to my own notions of drama and pacing, rather than chronologically. In particular, "A Letter" appears to deliver a verdict on Hofmannsthal's own enterprise and is thus placed last. 
My "gut instinct" is a chronological arrangement would've been better, but I'll reserve any ultimate judgement for when I've finished the rest of the book (Rotenberg's order) and read "A Letter" again.

Afterthought: "Ultimate judgement" seems a bit harsh. I may say nothing at all.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Heidegger: The Star-Die on Top

Arnica, Eyebright, the
drink from the well with the
star-die on top

[Arnika, Augentrost, der
Trunk aus dem Brunnen mit dem
Sternwurfel drauf]

[From Celan's TODTNAUBERG. Translation by John Felstiner]



Heidegger at the well with
the star-die on top

Last Stop (Dribble Dribble): My Todtnauberg

Unfortunately, we didn't make it all the way to Heidegger's Hut. For one thing our directions were not crystal clear (even a cross country skier seemed to have no clue). For another thing there was snow and cold, my partner and I were already tired, and we had miles to go to get back to Stuttgart (our plane left early the next morning).

By the time we gave up the fog was already rolling in.

Here's as far as we got.

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We stopped at Waldblick for a little lunch and to get our bearings (we weren't
entirely lost but ...). It was Good Friday and very few places were open.

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The Cross (my directions had mentioned this)

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A Sign (sometimes helpful)

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Rest, Pilgrim

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Valley View

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Valley View with Fog

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dribble Dribble: My Vevey

We had gone here before but had forgotten. Hard to explain. Anyway, we enjoyed Vevey even more a second time: we walked around in a downpour last time. Also, I don't think Chaplin and the fork were there then. Or perhaps we just didn't know to look. Next time I hope to take the train ride to Chateau d'Oex.

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The Fork

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A Big Eater

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Gogol in Vevey

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dribble Dribble: My Chillon

I wasn't sure I needed to see this again (other than a drive by) but the wife insisted. Turns out I met with something new: they had a large part of the tour connected to a temporary exhibit on witch-hunting in the Pays de Vaud. Made it even more interesting.

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Forest of Name and Dates (people who were killed because
they were supposedly witches)

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Byron's Scrawl

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Ghostly Couple

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Toilet Seat (all the way to the lake)

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Feel Like a "Stretch"?

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View Back to Montreux

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Chillon with a Train (from the parking lot)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dribble Dribble: My Montreux

We'd been to Montreux before. We both swore it was more built up, but memory is less and less reliable. We enjoyed our hotel: Helvetie (it was pretty "central"; I loved the old elevator and we had a little bit of a view). The parking--or absence thereof--is another story (next time I'll try to solve that riddle before we go).

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Our partial view (from a sizeable balcony)

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The Montreux Palace (we'll stay there next time)

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Nabokov in knickers (an old resident of the Palace)

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Nabokov's Statuary Friend I: B. B. King

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Nabokov's Statuary Friend II: Ray Charles

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My Freddie Mercury

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Another rock star?

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A Resting Place with a View (Nabokov, Nabokov, Nabokov)

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Terezin Children Drawings

IMG_1040 by I like green
IMG_1040, a photo by I like green on Flickr.

Hermes Baby, c 1943

Hermes Baby, c 1943 by mpclemens
Hermes Baby, c 1943, a photo by mpclemens on Flickr.

Theresienstadt Concentration Camp

Ehemaliges KZ Theresienstadt

Antonio Ciseri (1821 - 1891)

Antonio Ciseri (b. Ronco sopra Ascona, Switzerland, 25 October 1821; d. Florence, 8 March 1891) was an Italian[1][2] painter of religious subjects.

He went to Florence in 1833 to study drawing with Ernesto Bonaiuti, and from 1834 he was a pupil of Niccola and Pietro Benvenuti at the Accademia di Belle Arti; he was later taught by Giuseppe Bezzuoli, who greatly influenced the early part of his career. In 1849, he began offering instruction to young painters, and eventually ran a private art school. Among his earliest students was Silvestro Lega.[3]

Ciseri's religious paintings are Raphaelesque in their compositional outlines and their polished surfaces, but are nearly photographic in effect. He fulfilled many important commissions from churches in Italy and Switzerland. Ciseri also painted a significant number of portraits. He died in Florence on March 8, 1891.

[From Wikipedia:]

Antonio Ciseri's "The Transport of Christ to the Sepulcher"

I found this in the Madonna del Sasso (Locarno):

Antonio Ciseri's "The Transport of Christ to the Sepulcher"

Friday, April 13, 2012

Maxwell's Demon

In the philosophy of thermal and statistical physics, Maxwell's demon is a thought experiment created by the physicist James Clerk Maxwell to "show that the Second Law of Thermodynamics has only a statistical certainty".[1] It demonstrates Maxwell's point by hypothetically describing how to violate the Second Law: a container is divided into two parts by an insulated wall, with a door that can be opened and closed by what came to be called "Maxwell's demon". The demon opens the door to allow only the "hot" molecules of gas to flow through to a favoured side of the chamber, causing that side to gradually heat up while the other side cools down, thus decreasing entropy.

[From Wikipedia:'s_demon]

Frisch's "Homo Faber": Yes, I'm Still on the Swiss Kick

Finished with Durrenmatt in Switzerland and coming home on the plane. Now via Kindle I've started rereading Frisch's Homo Faber. Also, paperbackwise, I'm poised to read Ernst Junger's Storm of Steel (thus far I've only tackled the introduction).

A few "underscores" from Homo Faber:
  • Novels don't interest me
  • The term "probability" includes improbability, and when the improbable does occur this is no cause for surprise, bewilderment or mystification
  • I like chess because you can spend hours at a time without speaking
  • I've often wondered what people mean when they talk about an experience
  • Why get womanish
  • Theresienstadt
  • Baby Hermes
  • the peace of a whole desert
  • the sort of American woman who thinks she has to marry every man she goes to bed with
  • Maxwell's demon
  • I only lost my temper when Marcel started to talk about my work, that is to say about UNESCO, saying the technologist was the final guise of the white missionary, industrialization the last gospel of a dying race and living standards a substitute for a purpose in living

Dribble Dribble: My Berzona

Really it's Max Frisch's. We never really found his house, but after climbing to the top (beyond the church is a nest of stone houses) we met a man going back to our car (he was soaking wet from the rain; I only "think" we understood each other). He seemed to be directing us to somewhere on the main road.

The night before we left Locarno we went to Intragna (thank you TomTom!) for a Fodor's Choice restaurant: Grotto du Rii. After visiting Berzona we went through Intragna again. On our way to Italia and then the car transport (tunneling through the Alps, back into Switzerland, on to Montreux) in Sempione (the Simplon Pass).

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Grotto du Rii's Sign
(the little bridge leading to the restaurant is so narrow "road workers"
stand guard, directing traffic, 24/7)

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Max Frish Memorial Plaque

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The Cemetery behind the Wall

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The Church and Bell Tower in Berzona
(we heard it at 11:00 AM and that's our rental Renault
in a very tight spot)

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The Bell Tower Again
(from within the nest of stone houses in Berzona)

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Painting over the Church Door

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The Steaming Valley

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dribble Dribble: My Locarno

Our next big stop was Locarno, Switzerland (on the northern tip of Lago Maggiore). Of course I had to go to the Ticino largely because of Max Frisch (more on his Berzona soon). Here are just a few pics from around Locarno:

A view down to the lake (we took the funicular to the top)

Madonna del Sasso

The Stations of the Cross (we walked down, backwards, through these)

Piazza Grande

The side of an art gallery