mago

Not Tonight, Darling

It’s a beautiful evening, clear blue sky with high thin clouds, ein Wolkengespinst, not too hot, not too chilly.
And I feel old. Tired to the bone. It was the last drive of the week, even for this month, two weeks off for Pentecost, the wonderful feast of the Holy Ghost. Would be nice if he could drop by … wonder if she/he/it can manage this time, but I doubt. I guess we’ll have to soldier on. Sorry if this sounds a little hopeless, I do not want to drag you down, venerated reader, it’s just me, who feels a little worn.
I just want to sleep, undisturbed, and long enough. I want to wake up and feel relaxed and strengthened, not knackered and as exhausted as six hours before.
It is not the work, what is surely not overwhelming. I felt some anger over the last few days, on several occasions things I can not change happened to me, none of it a major disaster, each and single one something to forget, but it adds up a bit, and makes me feel irritated. And the little wheel in the head keeps on spinning, what leads to a disturbed sleep, and more irritability.
On the other hand the boys had some good time when I drove them, we were happily chatting, joking and even singing, a big difference from older times, when there was mostly silence while we drove with my first co-driver (the matriarch) on this route. Co-drivers came and went for some time, until the actual one came along. She’s accepted now, but overly protective, and comes over as a bit harsh sometimes ; but she relaxes, slowly.
I should take care of my kitchen sink, the water flows down only veryvery slowly, so there is some blockage in the tubes. But I really do not want to spent this evening crawling on all four under the sink handling some greenish fatty glob. As exciting as this may be for a non-handy-man like me with all that instant satisfying success, not tonight, darling. Also I should screw my bicycle back together after I repaired the tube of the front wheel – again, as rewarding this may be, not tonight : I just want to have a glass of wine or two, and relax & unwind.
Finally a project I can manage, after all.

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books

Books ! Away With Them !

Perhaps I should create a new category “books”, it would be easier for me to find the last reading list.
Here is what I read over the last few months, time to sort them back in.

SIEBER, Helmut : Oberlausitz. Frankfurt/Main 1968
Where (or what) is the Oberlausitz (Ger., Eng.), you may ask – and I would have asked the same question before I read this little book. It is the Eastern part of Saxony, main towns there are Görlitz and Bautzen. The latter is known (at least for people of a certain age) for the jail, Bautzen II (Ger.). Notable inmates were the writers Walter KEMPOWSKI (Ger., Eng.) and Erich LOEST (Ger., Eng.). Can’t say much about LOEST, all I remember is “realism” and painful honesty. KEMPOWSKI wrote a fictive family history in two (or three) volumes. His last project was called Das Echolot (Ger.). He collages from a wide range of sources and concentrates on various dates, June-December 1941, January/February 1943, January/February 1945 and the end of the war in Germany. Both authors worked their fingers to the bone on this oh-so-German history.
SIEBERs little tome gives a good historical description of the region and brings some nice b/w photographs.

BRANDT, Rüdiger : Konrad von Würzburg. Darmstadt 1987 (Erträge der Forschung, 249)
Konrad (Ger., Eng.) is born in Würzburg between 1220 and 1230. He is one of the twelve masters of minnesang, his œvre includes nearly all literary genres of his age. He lived and died in Basel.
BRANDT gives a concise overview about the history of scholarship dealing with Konrad – of course this book is now thirty years old, but what BRANDT had to say about his predecessors is still valuable and noteworthy.

WUNDERLI, Peter (Ed.) : Reisen in reale and mythische Ferne. Reiseliteratur in Mittelalter und Renaissance. Düsseldorf 1993 (Studia Humaniora, 22)
The university of Düsseldorf had a lecture series (“Ringvorlesung”) in winter semester 1990/91. The chosen topic was “travelling”, travel literature of Medieval and Renaissance times. Very informative. Subjects are maps, the Sinai as entrance to the other world, Brendan’s (Ger., Eng.) navigatio, Marco Polo, Afanasij Nikitin (Ger., Eng.), Herberstein, Kolumbus. Good lectures intended for a mixed audience, well readable and informative.
WUNDERLI (Ger.) is a Swiss romanist.

WIECZOREK, Ulrich : Bayern im Blick früher Flieger und Ballonfahrer. Dachau 1994
As the title says, subject of the small volume is the early ærial image of Bavaria. Major cities, landscape, and natural environments still intact are shown. Additionally the technical development of  ærial photography is explained.
WIECZOREK (died 2010) was professor for didactics of geography at the Augsburg university.

DEROLEZ, R.L.M. : Götter und Mythen der Germanen. Wiesbaden 1976 (originaly : De Godsdienst der Germanen, Roermond 1959)
René Lodewijk Maurits DEROLEZ (1921-2005) (Ger.) was a Belgian Germanic medievalist and runologist. Both his major works, his 1954 habilitation about runes, and this text about Germanic Gods and Myths, are still worth to be read, usable and citable. Good translation by Julie von WATTENWYL.

VANDENBERG, Philipp : Das Geheimnis der Orakel. München 1979
Yes, when a title starts with “The Secrets of …” a little preoccupation may set in, the concoction may be a little sensational. Despite its subtitle on the front page (“Archaeologists decipher the best-kept secret of the ancient world”) this is a well-done piece of travel journalism. VANDENBERG actually visited places like Dodona, Didyma, Klaros, Delphi, Oropos, Epidauros, Lebadeia, interviewed archeologists, used historical sources, and modern literature. I think this is what could be called popular science, the tome even has a register.
VADENBERG (born Klaus Dieter HARTEL, Ger.) writes non-fiction, historical novels and crime.

KOLLER, Liselotte : Wohnkultur mit Serienmöbeln. München 1969
Of course there must be a book about ameublement. This picture book shows how the rooms in an appartement were tastefully furnished at the end of the Sixties. From living room and dining table, via sleeping room to balcony and garden, it is all there. Even children’s room, garderobe and “Our Unterhaltungsgeräte as furnishing problem” are treated. The Unterhaltungsgeräte in question are tv-sets (with blinds !) radios and lp-players, together with the fitting relaxing chairs, floor-standing ashtrays included. Oh dear, some images look all too familiar.
Ms KOLLER, about whom I could find no more information, seemingly specialised in the topic of interior design in the Sixties, I saw at least two other titles by her from the late Sixties.

HILDEBRANDT, Dieter : Lessing. Eine Biographie. Reinbek 1990 (first : Lessing. Biographie einer Emanzipation. München Wien 1979)
This is what I am actually reading, after some tries. HILDEBRANDT (Ger.) is a promoted literary scholar who made his living by writing critiques and essays, in short with journalistic work. His biography of LESSING is refreshing, still after nearly forty years, because of his view on the man, his live work & thinking, without the philological, scientific point of view. He shows the oh so great LESSING (I say this in true admiration without any irony !) as human being, shoving him from the piedestal where too learned veneration installed him over time. It is a witty, learned, insightful text that comes close to the person LESSING – who, btw, was born in Kamenz (Ger., Eng.), a town in (you guessed it !) the Oberlausitz : The circle is completed.

Perhaps some of these texts can be a little prod for your own further reading.

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mago, Places

Gruorn

Last weekend saw me visiting Suebia & walking around the Schwäbische Alb (Ger., Eng.) It is an interesting landscape – if I would have to characterise it, words like “reluctant”, herb – what my dictionnaire translates as “austere” – “bitter-sweet” come to mind. Die Alb ist ein karges Land. And beautiful.
Basically it is a brick that stretches roughly from West towards East in the Southern part of Baden-Württemberg. Different to other regions, like e.g. the Hohenlohe (Ger.), the Alb has clear borders : There is a region before the Alb, there is the Alb itself, and there is a region after the Alb. When you look at a north-oriented map the Northern border is marked by the valley of the river Rems, the Southern border by the river Donau. Yes, this mighty European river starts as humble creek somewhere South of the Alb.
And, because it is a brick, there is a clear difference between what is down & what is up : You have to climb up to the Alb, what today means that you have to drive an Albaufstieg, a steep, winding, and sometimes a bit challenging ascent to reach the plateau. On top it is windy, obviously cooler than down below, and all the vegetation is three weeks behind :  While the apple trees have blossomed in the valleys, they stand in full bloom up there.
The winters also are a bit different, they use these markers (Ger.) besides the roads not for nothing, these sticks (snow poles) simply show where the road is under the snow drift.
The people there are proud of their Alb, and love it to bits. Others can’t be dragged by horses to live & work there, mostly verweichlichte city dwellers. (I can not translate “verweichlicht” correctly, namby-pamby perhaps ? Because it must have an ironic touch.)
Nevertheless, all those softy city dwellers, notably from the Suebian capital Stuttgart, invade the Alb on weekends, sit happily through traffic congestions eager to reach one of the many Wanderparkplätze (parking places from where a nice little ramble or hike can be started, usually in a circle of two hours or so) or scenic outposts. There they gaze in awe towards Stuttgart (Fernsehturm !) or in Southern direction towards the Alps.
(I personally do not believe in the possibility to see the Alps from there, I think it is clever marketing trick : When I looked South it was either foggy or hazy on the horizon, or the land lay in a wonderful Sonnenglast that prohibited to see further than 30 kilometers. This happened every time when I was brought to observation points looking South. Nevertheless, some happy individuals may, possibly, have seen something in the far distance that could be interpreted as a Swiss mountain, with a little good will from all involved.)
We went to Gruorn (Ger. only).
If you ever had to deal with the German military you know that they like abbreviations. So on the road sign you will find it as “Ehem. Trup.-Üb.-Pltz.”, ehemaliger Truppenübungsplatz, former military training area.
Back in the late 19th century a military training ground was created near the small town Münsingen (Ger., Eng.), there is still a place called “Altes Lager”, old barracks or camp. In the 1930s the area was significantly enlarged and the old village Gruorn was “entsiedelt”, what means that the inhabitants were re-located and the whole local district was incorporated into the training facility. After the war the French took over and used it as intended, among other things, for training of house-to-house-fighting. I am not sure when the French handed it back, but since 2006 the area is de-militarised and open for walkers and cyclists, you should better stay on the established paths.
The church of the village Gruorn is still standing and renovated, the old school house is used as a small pub, and up on the first floor you find a little exhibition about the place’s history.
This may sound pretty bleak when you read it. But it is not at all. No modern roads, no traffic, no electric poles, no fields. In the end you see a country side as it was in the 1930s or earlier. It is remarkably quiet there. Open spaces with green meadows, woods, sky.
Silence.
Apart from the sound of those mountain bikes’ tires on the paved roads, only natural sounds.
And because this year is an extra-ordinary pollen year, you see clouds ascending from the woods, where the wind shakes them trees and pollen dust disperses like smoke.
I want to go back there, and wander around.

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Gruorn2

How it looks there

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Gruorn3

View over the graveyard towards the school house

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Gruorn1

Some blossoms

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The Alb is a good place. I want to be there. Actually I already miss it.
The rest of the week was quiet, back to work, the usual. I looked into the web, read news, and tried to read your blogs, but I beg for your pardon and hope you accept my excuses, venerated readers – I did not feel up to do this. When I finally came home in the evenings I just wanted to go to bed. Another kind of silence. And asked myself what I am still doing here.  Thoughts are floating, ruminat in cerebro, “es schafft” as the Suebian says.
Sunday Music will be resumed, everything will continue, but sooner or later I hope to change some things.

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mago

Trullering Along / Vermischtes

You know how this is, all of a sudden a word “pops up” in your head and you wonder what it means. You may sometime earlier have looked it up, but forgot – as it seemingly happens a lot more than usual to me. This disturbing forgetting is not yet in a state where I am seriously fearing for my brain – this was the case years earlier, when I went to my family doctor, who sent me to a specialist. I remember that they put my head into a swirling thing, and looked for things blocking veins and whatnot. In the end they found nothing and I was declared legally sane. I think I still am.
The word was “gnomon” (Ger., Eng.).
I know that it has something to do with “to know”. We all heard the Greek motto “gnoti se auton” – “know yerself” ; there is the Latin word “ignoramus”, literally “we do not know”, today often used in the sense “we do not want to know”. Gnomon means a Schattenzeiger, the vertical thing / pole in a sundial. I vaguely remember that there was a motorcycle, or a motorcycle engine (?), called “Gnomon”, but I can not verify it.
While I looked at the gnomon-article I saw this image of Santa Maria del Fiore – and wondered what church this is ? It turns out that Saint Mary of the Flower (Ger., Eng.) is the Cathedral of Florence. Obviously there is some kind of sundial built into the church, and beams of light are directed onto the floor. I remember that I had visited Florence (Ger., Eng. website), I think I even was inside this particular church, but I can not recall any image of it. I only remember the doors of the baptisterium (Ger., Eng.).
And while I looked through the article about St.Maria I saw the list of “other burials” and between all those Popes and Italian names one stood out, a certain Hawkwood – a Brit  (Ger., Eng.) ? Turns out he was a notable Florentine condottiere, a soldier of fortune of the 14th century. This sent me down the road of Routiers (Ger., Eng.), Free Companies (Eng.), and some colourful biographies of condottieri (Ger., Eng.), like the one of Werner von Urslingen (Ger., Eng.), a Suebian.
All roads lead to Suebia.
All this leads nowhere, of course. It is not intended to lead to somewhere, it’s just trullering through Wikipedia.
And now you know what a gnomon is, thank GOd.
Thank you for your patience.

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