Thursday, May 1, 2008

Salzburg, 17.7.03: Ponds, Mountains, and Observers Observed

“My” mountains swathed in mist from the forest screen at their base about halfway up. They seem in a pensive mood today, melancholy as a Miltonian nun. The white cloud and lack of sunshine make the trees on the shoreline, especially the dark first, the star of today’s show. I feel as if I could be someplace like New England—Maine, perhaps—early on a summer’s morning as summer just begins to look towards fall.

Clouds clearing, mountains in almost full view. The rain has made the pastures on them intensely green. All looks new under the light blue sky. A ridge of very white clouds lying along the backs of the mountains helps to accentuate the green. The eastern faces, I now see, and had never noticed this before, are all clad in firs. The sky lift is headed up to the peak, a tiny speck in the sky.

These last few days I’ve lived as if in a glass bubble, feeling observed, disgruntled, down-hearted. Down-hearted: like gathering in or gathering home, one of those phrases from old Southern hymns that I like very much. Why do I feel down-hearted…?

I came to Europe telling myself to melt in, to be invisible, to give up self-consciousness in order to observe. I’m not doing a good job of it, of enjoying a wonderful summer day in which dark clouds have given way to blue skies, cumulus clouds, and a nice breeze. This and one more day in Salzburg: I should enjoy them!

But how? I don’t know how ever to be free of my own miserable self. Yes, a certain kind of self-consciousness is necessary if one is to observe and write. But the kind I have is crippling and stifling.

Tielsch (246): “Certainly no one stopped to consider that they, too, might one day have to move away, even if no Führer would give the call, that they too could be forced one day to live in temporary quarters, and that they themselves might be grateful for a friendly word or a friendly gesture.”

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