Tuesday, March 10, 2009

TC: Caspar David Friedrich and the Interior Dictation of Landscape

The Riesengebirge (Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin)

He avoided Goethe's invitations to come to Weimar and work together on a collaboration
He was too busy collaborating with certain beings
inside him
whose commands he found so much more compelling
they came alive
during his solitary strolls into the countryside at dawn or just after moonrise
his favorite time
during which he often paused to sketch
a group of trees a cloud a boulder a row of dunes or a tuft of grass
at their urging
Every true work of art (he wrote) is conceived in a sacred hour
and born
from an inner impulse of the heart

As he grew older depression distanced him more
and more
from the world of men
I have to be
on my own
and I have to know I am on my own
so that I can give myself up to what is around me
he wrote
in declining an invitation to tour the Alps
with a Russian poet
who admired his paintings
I have to unite with my clouds and rocks
I have to unite with everything around me
in order to be what I am

When the mineral world dissolves into the cosmic flux
the animal and vegetable worlds will have been long gone
but the beings who existed inside Friedrich and dictated his landscapes
will still be carving vast silences out of elemental gulfs

He had a special interest in the moon
He used to say
that if after death men were transported to another place
then he would prefer one less terrestrial than lunar
in order to allow the beings inside him to feel at home

Moonrise On An Empty Shore (National Gallery, Washington D.C.)


Dale said...

Tom, these pieces and the other recent ones are terrific. Somehow, with the images and poems working their magnificent back-and-forth I'm reminded of W. G. Sebald's "Austerlitz." Thanks these new posts.

Anonymous said...

really enjoying yr posts, tom.
recently ran into caspar david on the cover of the penguin holderlin, connecting back as a poet you introduced me to. thanks.