Bastion of the Waves. Fragment of a novel
TRAVEL DIARY

*Documentary film is what happens to others, fiction is what happens to me.' (Jean-Luc Godard)

'Nowadays people often feel that their private lives are a series of traps.'    (C. Wright Mills: The Sociological Imagination, 1959)

I    

Smooth Sailing 7/8

   The vessel which was to bring us to the Island of the Seagulls lay waiting for us in the northernmost harbour when we arrived early in the morning. It appeared white and edgy as a block of ice. The sea showed its form inversely in the mirror.
   Farther out the water was of a light blue as far as we could see, extremely light, and small white lamb clouds were floating above it, being mirrored in it.
   Pretty. The name Norman de Mar which we had heard on the radio came to mind - a musical name but also very much Norman and Spanish at the same time, a sound of something distant, from the sea.
   The ship 'Excelsior' and 'Interstellar Space' were other associations, both of them mostly auditory. Not because there was anything fantastic in what we saw, certainly not, but the atmosphere was alluring.
   The edges of the vessel blinded us like cut glass in winter sunshine, melting, or rather: the blinding about the sharpness of the light grew melting, floating - not shrill but clanging.
   On waves of glass we slowly floated toward the island. Seagulls followed us, and seagulls received us, bringing with them a celestial scent taking possession of our entire consciousness; as porcelain they seemed in the light blue air, gypsum white, turning on stiff, pointed wings, reminding one of suspended kites, and perhaps archeopteryx.
How massive these birds are, their bodies being observed closely, and when the light is directly on them.
   As we approached the island and were able to see the yellowish brown cliffs of the coast, the entertainment music on the transistor assumed a clearly changed timbre as if it grew lighter as well as more luminous, and we, as it were, floated with it, in the most pleasant way, in a light euphoria.
   What we mean is illustrated by a fantasy called 'Mogens' by the Danish nineteenth century poet I. P. Jacopson, renowned for the poems in 'Gurre- Lieder' by Arnold Schönberg. We echoed in our way his musical choice of text, like this:
   "Free. He could see nothing but the sky above, and the wide horizon...even the sea floated...always light blue...for a short while he was swimming in a limitless grain yellow light.
   But it was rather as if it had never been there. Now there was glass in front of the picture, and it had become quite small. A dashingly red combine appeared on top of a hill, and the blue sea was more bluing than it had ever been, and a whole row of small chalky white clouds was painted on the pale blue sky."
   Korngold!
   The strange thing about this fantasy was that it existed before we arrived here, and what we now were watching, looked exactly as in the fantasy, neverteless being quite new.

                                                      *   
   Another way of watching seagulls is to review them in the light of one´s recollection. To remember April at a hedge in the country: over the hedge a dark grey snow-cloud; coming in from the right a seagull, at first as grey as the cloud (the shadow and its back); then it turns, and the white gypsum of the breast and belly blinds against the grey background - there is something deadly in it. The branches of the hedge yellowishly lighted,
   At the limit of cognition.
                                                       *
        
II 
Scientific report to the Continental Magazine, An illuminated manuscript
(a possible paradigm might be the Danish topographic work of Thura: "Concerning the islands situated in the Baltic Sea under the Royal Danish Realm, Flourishing and Renowned, of Bornholm, and not far from that, the splendid fortress of Christiansøe. In which is explained everything noteworthy about these two countries which, in their present state, is to be respected; unto which is added what the Histories, old as well as newer, announce concerning them. Copenhagen 1756").

   We are both small compared to the surrounding nature, and we are aware of it. We were amused when we met at the railway station in Metropolis to engage in this official journey. We told each other that in a way we were tin soldiers though we both had two legs, and therefore were able to move by ourselves.
   Of course it is only fun and a joke that we are tin soldiers but we were struck by the fact that it was so after all at the time we saw each other for the first time. Somewhere a person of a higher rank might perceive it as a funny observation; to this imaginary person it is perhaps not so farfetched at all that we are tin soldiers, and are part of a game. That game we do not know, it does not bother us either because our assignment is clearly defined. We are only going to chart a small island in the mainland´s periphery, a modest site north of it, probably a place with people even smaller than we  observed through the eyes of civilization, naive, colourful souls which will soon disappear.
   We are expected to do it as conscientiously as possible as we use to, and in accordance with our excellent education. We are specialists, and we know we are. Only observers, describers, nothing else. Nothing to brag about, god knows!
                                                        *
   We ourselves are being described by us. Exactly that fact, and our understanding of it, makes our assignment complicated.
   The following is the content of two diaries welded together into one description in common terminology and measurement standard, including a readjusted scale of values.
   Should our description seem a little wavy, swinging, it is due to this condition of being together in one statement by two almost identical but not quite identical, individually observing persons´impressions: a common expression. It is easier said than done! Even this 'almost' is problematic.
   That we are identical is somewhat too much to say if you perceive it in absolute terms. Identical because we come from the immensely homogenized society of hastily built concrete, prefabricated houses, concrete kindergartens and concrete schools, living in concrete blocks for the rest of our common existence, or life, as it formerly was called when war was still an actual threat.
   For this reason, and others, we are especially fit to describe our surroundings while at the same time controlling the correctness of each other´s observations.
   That we are two (almost) identical individuals makes us witnesses. There must always be two witnesses to furnish proof of an event. One person alone cannot make a statement proof. That proof is relative to the recipient can be deducted from 'almost'.
   The recipient sees us as identical, employed, 'tin soldiers', uniform, even if we do not see ourselves that way.
   At home it had become difficult for us to observe the surroundings because by and by everything seemed identical to us however different it looked on the surface. It made us feel as if everything derived from the same source, coming from the same office of planning whatever it was, bread or flamingos in the Zoo, or motorbikes. Everything could be fixed, even slaves for bureaucrats´ homes.
   Where´s the reason in describing something we have already been through in every respect? Something foreign, on the contrary, is still suitable for description until it has thoroughly been described and accounted for, engulfed in homogeneity, in our homogenous society´s all-encompassing consciousness, or rather inducted as soma or opium to further the common loss of consciousness (all-encompassing within the allowed boundaries, of course, not without rein).
   At home we could no longer see ourselves, we thought. Now we look at this beautiful mirror-like sea-surface, and we rejoice, in silence. The joy of a traveler begins already at his or her leaving home. Before that, actually - at the mere thought of a journey.
   That is why we read, that is why we are describing the journey and it goal to those at home - not to ourselves; that would be meaningsless and unncessary. And without a goal in both directions, ourwards and back again, we would not travel, neither could we rejoice or be able to make others rejoice. It is the distance that is being covered, the distance we cover, that they rejoice in, not our proximity, not us.
  We are immaterial to them because we are exactly as they are - but the fact that we are exactly like them, or that they believe we are, is the condition which allows them to follow us in fantasy on our long journey to the North - though not The Far North.
   Without movement, in reality and in fantasy, joy would not exist. Exactly what it didn´t until we got our assignment. We weren´t happy, but indifferent. We were just small attache-case people, like they say. Of course we acquired the knowledge that Man is something great and wonderful; we had always been taught that, and that it can become even greater, in other words, better, as naturally it is not the outward size that is the most important, contrary to the belief of bodybuilders. (By the way, who knows for certain, if the ourward appearance by being improved cannot make the inner being better?)
   But we thought it was difficult to catch sight of the greatness of ourselves; we felt small and insignificant, relatively meaningless. We were adjusted, and we thought it was strange not to be satisfied with this situation.
   Those unsatisfied persons of which we read and heard - form the unequal societies of the past - also seemed strange to us though they might be interesting as case studies. Instructive. They could serve as reminders of the dangers of the non-adjusted.
   Which father would in earnest wish for his daughter, his little girl, that se was non-adjusted.
  No. No Bonus Pater Familias would ever wish that to anyone, not to his son either, to be lost - it was the homecoming which was meaningful to the good father. His feelings showed without any doubt.
   What, beside the dangers, could the non-adjusted teach us? Nothing justifies teaching what is wrong. Only the right can be subject of teachings.
   The right is always normal, and we know it already. Why then receive lessons, when we are already adjusted, conditioned, socialized, normalized? Because joy as well is part of the right thing. A proof of this statement might be seen in an early film title: "The Joyless Street", it was not in English then but in an extinct language called German: "Die Freudlose Gasse", and the actress came from a country north of the Mainland, her name was Asta or Aster, her father´s name must have been Niels, no mention was ever made of her mother´s, they were common people, not aristocrats. Nevertheless most people thought she had the right to be privileged, a long time before the real Metropolis. But the street was BAD, without joy! To be put on the street was bad too - it meant that you were thown out of your home by the authorities.
   So we perceive our description as useless in relation to the ordinary reader; it is only useful in relation to the past and the future. Past as well as future are concepts which are necessary to our useful and shelter-seeking time perception. Withour these concepts everything, and we as well, would stand still, and it is normal for us to move as we have two leges. Move from one place to the other as from one word to the other. It is movement which creates the meaning of life as with words, as the line creates the meaning in points of reference inside a coordination system, the curve which tells us something by the definitions connected to the vertical and the horizontal directions to and fro, upwards and downwards.

   Without movement we need no words. Thus far we have not yet come in our society, and we have great difficulty imagining a different kind of society in other dimensions even if they aren´t impossible. For instance a society of only sitters, chair dwellers who become more chairs than people, and whose only reading is the speedometer. Some have alreday been chained to their wheel. Car drivers do not move very much. It is the car that moves, and the car moves him or her; it is also his/her hypnosis. The car is a fascination of objective movement in relation to other objective movements, and the static level which at every moment is threatening to stop the movement, sacrificing the driver to the static as a punish for hybris, as a heretic in the cult of movement. Hybris is Greek to most of us, an ancient language only used by the scholarly circles, meaning 'loss of moderation'. It has also been called lack of measurement, mesure
in the forgotten diplomatic language French.
   Therefore the driver must also remember that part of himself which is freeing himself from the hypnosis stemming from fascination of the road and its things speeding to and fro, and their lights, and the sun´s at times blinding glimpses of light, in order to avoid that the hypnosis enslaves him entirely and does away with him.
   Personally we are small and insignificant. It is only the assigment which makes us important, and fortunately we don´t think we are. The future will show if we are, to somebody - if we have the luck to fit in with the pattern of the future. 
                                                        *
   No winds are blowing here at all. This strange world is like glass. Yet we are moving - that much we can affirm - we are completely in accord. "Best to be wounded on a night patrol in a quiet quarter," Robert Graves wrote of the First World War in "Goodbye To All That". It wasn´t the last farewell!
   Judging from our knowledge of the normal process of selection we estimate that we are selected for this assigment among hundreds, maybe thousands of applicants which all possess qualifications of largely the same kind. We must therefore be aware of the fact that to some degree it is a mere coincidence that it was we in particular who were given permission to travel. That we were types.
   For that reason we have planned everywhere in this context to call ourselves  A  and  B as in Arms and Bones, Antonius and Brutus. It might as well have been O and P. Actually it would have been consistent with our self-concept if we were Roman characters. We are somewhat old-fashioned both of us, not so old and not so modern that we can be described as grotesque.
   When we mention A as the first it does not mean that we consider ourselves as being so different in quality that A comes before B; it could just as well have been B and A.
   The difference can be compared with the difference between A and B, the difference between vowel and consonant. A real difference but both are characters serving language; though the difference is not immaterial it does not divide.
   Figuratively we already look forward to the proof. Hopefully A and B will together make sense. Separated the two characters would not mean much, at the most look nice if you have a sense of letter-forms.
   From these observations the reader will gather that we are really antiquarian in essence - we thrive within tradition. It makes our statement verifiable. Tradition is as little as time able to make the majority insecure - and that is what we belong to. We are quite ordinary people, one might perhaps say common.
   Once in the past people would have called us conventional; but as religions have been leveled out the word has entirely lost its meaning. It bears no relevance in statistical societies as ours.
   In music this has created immense problems as no one today is able to hear the difference between Mantovani classicism and Stravinsky modernism, folk music and scientific precision. The listeners must subject themselves to art-historic coaching first. Without coaching they experience great difficulty feeling at home in a concert hall, and after jazz went to college and became a subject no one has it as a pillow to lay his head on, and that was a very long time ago!
   We are ordinary; wedo not attach any value to our statements; we are not issuing value judgements. We try not to be prejudiced.
   Our situation can be likened to that of a car driver. You must continually look out, not taking anything for granted. Some time or other something unexpected will happen.

                                                       *

   The island is so small that it cannot yet be found on any map. Nobody has bothered measuring. In other words it is still situated outside our knowledge, does not belong to the world which is, and always has been, the recorded world, just like history which consists of renowned men´s acts, deeds, wills. History itself is an attempt to know the world, like recognition, and landfall to  sailors: a hope of understanding.
   In former times there were probably practical maps with all existing islands charted on them; but as map production rather takes the public´s interest in consideration than the possible though not likely territorial claims, the number of maps has shrunk considerably because the buyers have so many other interests, like fine china, knives, or stamps. Strangely enough this situation has arisen as a result of a savings policy; management economizes by producing only maps on areas where the maps are likely to become useful before they are outdated, according to expediency.
   One might think that this was a reasonable policy but the results show the opposite. The reality is that our knowledge today is less comprehensive than it was earlier when it was less pragmatic but absolute on account of the danger of war which was alway immanent and growing, far surpassing the common imagination.
   All that the atom bomb turned upside down. Now there was no development to hold responsible as it grew worse, whatever you schemed, because destroyed is completely destroyed forever, or for nearly forever, for good. One must therefore stand on one´s head for the practical: the cook - not the king who before was the soul of the chess game. And one must risk being cooked or fried.
   In return we thin - though the assertion is being questioned from several parties - that our method is today more effective than it was earlier. The practice of attaching maps so intimately to their usefulness, in other words, diminishing the basic research areas - derives from the dogma of usefulness, thus being a considerable act from the part of the management vis a vis a population which cannot understand where the considerbale amounts of money it lacks in everyday life goes. The less productive areas are disregarded while the effort is concentrated on the centers only which again reinforces the use of centres in planning. Civilization is self-perpetuating towards one point where it must end!
   By now, however, homogenization has advanced so far on the mainland that the unknown, even to the general public, acquires a special attraction; distant regions are overall perceived as exotic places regardless of where they are situated, and how the climate is; they are all of them equally exciting because they are unknown. You would have to know a little about them just for the sake of variety.
   We consider it to be fortunate that there are still unknown places within the boundaries of our common (somewhat flickering) consciousness. The problem for us is if we now ought to make these ancient places known again or if we should rather let them stay unknown. Our previous knowledge of societies is so encompassing that a simple little island could easily become a disappointment to us if we do not beware of exaggerated expectations. The inhabitants are after all no longer quite as picturesque and original as they were to Synge on Aran Islands or to Paul Gauguin in Tahiti.
                                                       *

   We are now installed at the hotel in Seaport. It is part of Town Hall. The wallpaper is large-flowered, and is to our opinion dreadful, like the crétonne furniture and the curtains which are made of rayon but are supposed to be of silk. It is a small hotel, only 75 rooms, and the landlord immediately made it clear to us on our arrival that we must not demand too much special catering. Thus the hotel did not own its own airplane or mules.
   As we intended to walk around the island it did not surprise us in any unpleasant way, rather on the contrary as our purse was certainly not meant for luxury.
   We are incognito here. The commandant has been informed from the mainland of our arrival but it is a deal that nothing special shall be arranged on that occasion. Should anything unpleasant happen to us we have ample opportunity for contacting the commandant, and if nothing unexpected happens it will only enhance the pleasure of our stay, something that makes us ardent at detection. Mapping does not only mean drawing circumferences but also the contents in the full sense of the word: milieu and soul of the island.
   It is most likely that we have been registered on the ferry which again was caught by the cyclopian radar-eye in the harbour but we are ourselves too small to have been noticed in this glass eye. The landlord has, of course, made notice of us, and we have signed the hotel register like everybody else.
   We are now sitting in the restaurant writing in the report notebook while waiting for dinner. Through the window we can see the gray square in front of Town Hall. It lies deserted at this hour. Town Hall cannot be seen from here but we can see the courthouse - a yellow building with small white columns - right opposite. It is nice, even pretty, and we remark to each other that it is lovely as well that a bigger courthouse is not needed.
   The island probably is as peaceful as Seaport, we say. The plaices  just arrived, still with their skin on and everything. They bring with them an unmistakeable scent of the sea. The beer is local and  exciting even if it doen´t taste as much as we are used to. Neither does it run down so fast; one can almost be satiated by it. We have a schnaps to go with it.
   Already tomorrow we will begin looking around. We are filled with energy. The inhabitants ought to know how much energy a mainlander just freed from the cage has stored in him. But they do not know of it, nor do they know that we are here. They are quite indifferent.
   It wouldn´t make any difference if they did know but it is entirely due to the fact that we are men of good will. The food sustains it!
   That´s how it is with heroes and fresh sea air, isn´t it?

                                                             *

   Approaching the past is as if you try to look through a stained-glass window painting. We are placed in the darkness of ignorance; the light only reaches us through a highly coloured filter. We must limit ourselves to guessing about the sunlight. But in this limitation there is joy and beauty which enriches the experience. Dreams which we aourselves bring with us from our own hidden past (maybe from a former life or from other lives) find a counterpart in some concretized dream which partly corresponds to our own, and partly is our own  dream.
   Some call this a widening of the horizon though it is rather a limitation and explicit formulation.
   The ruin we visited today is such a stained-glass painting, like a dream in barbaric colours. The rustic stones in the broken walls of the ruin are jewels to us, now inalienable as they are fixed in the cathedrals of our minds or what might have been cathedrals if they had been finished.
   Even the grass around and inside the ruin shines  light green in the light of the entirety that building and lived life have together created in us.
   A memory given to us by a small boy corresponds to this experience of the unified whole: a small piece of glass, a little pearl of magic, green as the grass, as the sea near the coast, as the clouds on high where they are a faint reflection of the blue of the sea, the vapour blue of the air.
   More real than the steps we made today, Time itself rustles in it as in a conk, quietly but always near, palpable. Even though we are wearing ribbed rubber soles under our walking shoes, and their pattern still can be seen in the dust of the road a short while afterwards.
   Well, most of the way there was no road. That´s how it is with the real monuments whether pre-historic or historic - they lie in some obscure place far out on a field; you have to climb stone fences and wade in a plough field to get to them.
   In a strange way they take root in the brown and purple soil, sink and rest there, heavy and peaceful, melancholy, without limits, in memory of hands or water putting them there infinitely long ago, here where once the air quivered and sparkled from endeavour or the earth was paralyzed by cold beneath the gliding, grating ice.
   Or, later, they were placed in an astronomic-astrologic hierarchy far from the great stone watch, therefore predestined to sinking ito the ground before it did in order to show the difference. Everything depended on heavenly bodies.
   How long ago is it? How long ago is it you were born? We an count but otherwise? It is only Time which rustles, Life behind it is something quite different. Something dry, decisive, measured, tried, or something greasy, glossy, supple, strong, something that moves under skin, between plants, beneath a completely different sky, in qite another light, and with quite another glance, sunken into flesh and fatigue, at intervals detached from it when there were chances of fish or game, making eysight brighter, more than bright, giving the mind symbol radar and magic powers for reaching out, inventing tools.
   Was it darken then? More full-bodied - on account of blood - than we feel in this paper age while the paper itself is infected by chemistry, predestined for quicker disappearance and absurdity, as a hag´s curse?
   We do have a concept of originality. Something comes from something. From the earth? Stones are actually taken from the earth, the elements are, jewels and glass are. Even the cleverest logician can´t deny that, even if he wishes to postulate that the earth itself is made out of stone (which it actually is but crushed stone, crushed by the three other elements water, air, and fire).
   Nevertheless stone must still be stone if you will call it stone and not earth. If not, language will be destroyed which is worse than the twisted logical formality itself.
   Somebody had an idea. The earth was there, and it could be formed into building, castle. Something strong to withstand the teeth of the animals, men´s arms, and the teeth of Time. Too hard to eat. Surplus.
   Something taken from men´s earth and given to Time to make it think of eternally, not for eating, or for animals to devour. Undigestible, even. Insolent and impertinent, therefore punishable. Capital.

                                                          *

   The stone was a gift from the castle steward´s boy who said that he had found it inside the ruin, and he thought he had better hand it over. His father had told him that it was a charm stone. It certainly was, and we thanked the boy for his honesty. Now it was on its way to a museum on the mainland in order that all visitors might visit, see it, and enjoy it, and the boy too, of course, if one day he would get the opportunity of coming to see the big fine museum down there. Then he would have a goal.
   We too explained the boy that a book was to be written about our stay on the island, and we promised him that he too would be mentioned.
   This is the manuscript of the book, and we hasten to mention the name: Pieter.
   Hopefully Pieter will one day have the book to read when it has been published. At present he is not yet able to read.
   To tell the truth the stone has made us happy. We always carry it around as a talisman, and it is as if the rare find reassures us. Now we can be sure to have a small item of lasting value with us on our way home.
   Such things can no longer be found on the mainland as everything is thrown away after being used when its utility value has been exhausted.
   The fact that we have taken possession of the charm stone, giving the child a notice in our future book instead, is perfectly compatible with the value scale of our world. It may be very nice to have a child play with a coloured hop-scotch but if it begins attributing supernatural powers or qualities to it one should definitely, and as soon as possible, replace the thing with something more sensible and socially educative.
   When we place the thing in the neutral surroundings of our museum it loses its power or magic or mana becoming part of our historical consciousness, or our recollection which is the most important part of our culture.
   Without recollection we cannot understand that Time exists. This truth is becoming increasingly significant to us; our trip to the island is one of the results of this experience. We now find it urgently necessary also to involve the seemingly useless in the sphere of the useful.
   As everything becomes alike, as everything can only be compared with itself, Narcissim becomes total, and nothing will happen. One could say that the original is lost although nothing is lost. One senses a certain vapidity, making you conscious of the state in which everything has become imitation, copy without signature.
   This vapidity soon can grow into the impression of rottenness, and as this sensation has permeated everywhere people begin to flee, at first to the beaches in the sunny areas, later into the wilderness where they wish to find themselves but cannot as there is no longer anything to find within them. At least the top of society wishes to see it that way because it would really be too bizarre - they tell each other at the conferences - if all the ordinary people suddenly got the notion that they meant something!
   What unrest couldn´t arise when they individually staked out their claims on the world? When they thought there ought to be, or even was, something special about them!
   Then anything might go, and nothing would be impossible. But this state of mind is the most dangerous of all.

                                                       * 
   In a basement shop we once came across some drawings by an old artist who must have had some difficulty asserting himself; if not one would probably not have found his work in a place as humble as this.
   They were several hundred years old drawings made on somewhat yellowed paper, and some of them were a bit speckled as the skin of old people can be but they were not incomprehensible because the human figure hasn´t changed considerably during the ages, only in dress, and even that to no further extent than keeping it human in relation to the eternal shape of the figure.
   Usually artworks of the past are made for princes and similar commissioners who had special needs of seeing themselves portrayed representatively in good workmanship like washing machines in our day and time.  
   These sketches, however, did not display much pomp; it was only their carriage you noticed, something of an inner nature which the artist managed to capture. Of course they cannot have been great as it is contradictory to say that something or someone is great and powerful - mighty - and at the same time quite ordinary and without power and pretence - at least that way it is in our time.
      In that context we do not hesitate to mention that a hundred years ago or so it was not uncommon that even the simplest of people might commission a portrait photo of themselves meant for official use, for instance when they were going to travel or for their birthday which they celebrated at that time. At such occasions it was customary to use people´s name, not just the numer of identification, and even their surname.
   Such a praxis seems to assume a rather low degree of standardization. An average picture indicating rank as well as work, sex perhaps too, would now seem more relevant and pragmatic as it is no longer feasible to stress individual traits in a human being but only the general impression or kind, white collar or blue collar, for instance. Worker is no longer a useful denomination as the number of classes have exploded into specialities. That does not mean there is much difference, though. Their jobs are functions.
   Naturally there will even today be differences between diplomats and sailors when they travel, contrary to their similarities in Columbus´ time or the Bering-Munk epoch in the North as we have noticed after the latest conquests in the Arctic Ocean which today is much larger than it was in their time and age. Such differences may conveniently be referred to in the travel papers if they are considered relevant and thus necessary.
   At the early stage mentioned above it was even possible to anyone owning the means for it to have tailored a suit for oneself after measurements.
   Wouldn´t you call that the height of self-centredness and lavish extravanganza, a consequence of extreme individualism? However, you must remember that the trades people and artisans were also much more individual even if they belonged to guilds. For instance artisans made their own marks on the objects they produced for consumption which is why their works are collector´s items. You really have a chance to know where they came from, even from whose workshop and hand. Extraordinary!
   Now, what is most interesting is that in these ancient artworks even merchants and shopkeepers wear fancy clothes, even more so than a hundred years ago. One would describe them as gowns like the ones judges wear, and for street use, nor only ceremonially or privately. One might even think that people grew richer the further one went back in time.
   We just mention this en passant but anyway this artist - you probably have to call him that though he could not have been one of the acknowledged  few who already while they were living belonged to tradition - even made pictures in which beggars and other poor people were seen. It was during the time when you could still call someone poor. As a matter of fact it´s because riches imply poverty and vice versa. That´s why we only know these conditions from the artworks of the past - they are not acknowledged in today´s homogenous society. No one wishes them to return, we assume.
   The artist even went farther than this as he actually saw animals as independently existing creatures; if you understand: not just as part of Man´s habitat. Such a point of view must be extinct in photography now. The camera has - as everyone knows -made Everyman an artist and rendered artists superfluous. Everybody can in a figurative sense 'shoot', become a hunter, catch a motif, thus also animals. But only in a figurative sense - everything must be perceived through the glass eye of the metal. Everything caught by the Cyclop´s eye is automatically, but only in a figurative sense, transformed into the man-made world as the camera is man-made. Average man has become the centre of creation. The consumer is the goal of average marketing.
   There are signs indicationg that Man in the period of the artist mentioned earlier regared himself as completely unique, therefore also perceiving others as unique, and as we stated above even the animals which is why animals were depicted as star constellations and  as symbols in coats of arms. Still earlier they were regarded as gods but then also trees might be seen as divine. Well, places have to have names, so mountains are often given names like persons.
   Now we do no longer believe that they really are persons. On the other hand one has to notice that in former times there were approaches to stereotypes; certain motifs seem to have been designed for explanation and elucidation of a general idea og a motif already known. Certain of the popular scenes look almost like magazine illustrations in our day and age though they are much more boldly designed and executed, and have what seems to be depth. One might say that these printed drawings were something technically much more refined than everything we see today; a person so familiar with a technique connecting his eye and hand with the material and the tool with which he handled it that his work directly became a human product like sweat.
   Why that quality should be especially attractive is very difficult to explain - it just has to be that way, they thought.
    A similar quality we have experienced in the small green charm stone which to us has grown into something poetic and inalienable passed on to us. We take turns at wearing it in the knapsack. To such an extent it charms us by its existence. Yes, it is ridiculous, and of course it is only a joke between us. One of us has to keep it in custody until we hand it over to the museum back home.
                                                           *
   The oberservations above are only in our report to clarify our intent: clearly to describe our conception of the island including the thought substantiating the conception. As you will know the truth of any observation dependes on the truth of the observer, and this truth is again dependent upon his or her understanding of his or her position in space and time.
   We are about to think that only in this distant locality we are really able to sustain the main condition of recognition, through distance, as we experienced great difficulties in stating our individuality while staying in the norm society of the continent, as we have earlier explained.
   We had - in a phrase perfectly suited to the occasion, and still in a way joking - to let ourselves be isolated on this island, this isola in latin, in order that we might get something truthfully described.
   It is therefore our luck that such a possibility still existed. Lucky for us. If it is also lucky for the island is quite another matter - it depends on the effects of our report in Metropolis, and such a dependency on fate actually cannot be especially comfortable. It´s a good thing the islanders do not know that registration may have effects on them and their island. It really is strange to reflect on the fact that remote places change very little through the ages in spite of their being godforsaken and left to fate.
   An islander who began wondering how exposed he and his island were in the world, his insignificance compared to the globe, might easily fall prey to a gloomy pessimism and lose his faculties entirely. One has only to imagine how little the islander could do if once during the past a pirate accidentally landed here, or in our time one, just one, of the numerous tourists turned out to be a super-gangster with a taste of playing hide-and-seek on a small island while plundering the inhabitants in the vicinity. It would be very easy for such a strong character to subdue the small people in a place like that. It did happen in history! Maybe it is because it is so easy that it seldom happens any more, maybe also because there are so many to choose among in sunny climate that the idea of taking tiny societies in the North does not occur to the mighty character. 
   They are too isolated to his liking, such islands, while a castle somewhere in the middle of a moor or on a mountain top does not seems to have frightened anyone. Gangsters stick to soil, mountains or cities with hight buildings like fortresses and gargoyles. Or they prefer the open sea where there is more room and wide views? It might even seem ridiculous to the agressor, this idea of becoming insular, isolated. Gangsters and pirates, buccaneers if you prefer, hope to become men of the world, following the Way of the World like Edmond Dantes in "The Count of Monte Cristo", returning to civilisation for revenge.
   But enough of that now. We are going to describe the ruin.
                                                       *
   As you arrive at the embankment close to the small cove where, by the way, a veritable small fleet of ships is anquored though there seems to be room for them in the harbour - a fact which might indicate some inclination to piracy amongst these skippers and their crews - initially you get the impression of a forsaken, overgrown gravel heap.
   In the strong sunlight bees and mosquitos busily fly around. White butterflies flutter from one flower to the next while seagulls cry out their commands across the still water of the cove. A couple of cows graze peacefully on the approximately a yard high ramparts making the sky more blue than any heaven has ever been.
   The place lies completely by itself, quite lonely; not a single tourist was in sight the day we were there. It might have been in Ossian or a Saga, an old legend which had not even seen civilisation as we know it but only as the innermost substance of a completely different cultural sphere.
   The steward had allowed us to go out there as we wished but then had invited us for dinner after the excursion.
   We sat down on the rampart on its highest point - which was no more than a yard or so as mentioned a moment ago - in order that we might get an overall picture. Shortly after that we realized that the ruin was unique.
   The reason for this insight was the discovery that the entire structure of the embankment was curved, and as we found out that all the walls left were curved as well. Not a single straight wall!
   Walls of that kind are typical of very remote cultures, and structures having remained unchanged for a very long time. In the oldest cities or towns on the continent there are also remnants of core streets having developed by using what is at hand, winding in and out like uneven knitting.  It can seem quite charming but on the other hand it can annoy regular, normal human beings like ourselves so much that we go crazy. Never a straight line, never a square window, just imagine that!
   During a couple of hours we measured the whole thing by walking through it. It isn´t a large structure, certainly not. When we had it down on paper it appeared that altogether it looked like wave borders, one after the other.
   Such a plan of building had never been seen before on these latitudes, and we were aware that our luck might have been made by now presenting us with such an extraordinary find. It far outshone the amusing charm stone in importance.
   On top of that we found a wealth of rare plants on the site: milfoil, Wormwood, mallow, spirea, dog rose, catchfly, eyebright, hill pink, and orpine - why, just the names! Orpine was once associated with Saint John.
   Beside those there were lots of other more commonly known wild flowers. Even a low tree with small wild apples. Of course penty of blood-red poppies, and blue cornflowers; we just mention these plants to give an impression of the mixture of colours in a lovely summer symphony.
   The other flowers are called 'wild' today because they are no longer cultivated or used much. They were different at the time when medical science was of another kind; then the 'wild' herbs could certainly be useful!
   By the way their ability to stay alive indicates something potent about them. It is said that civilisation has its origin in selection among the fittest (assuming civilisation is not itself a mistake). Why is it then that these 'forgotten' flowers are called wild? That question ought to be discussed further, also outside the realm of botanical specialists.
   Is the rose 'wilder' because it has the capability to grow in unprotected nature contrary to the ci vilized tulip? Which of the two will most likely survive if one day Man gets tired of flowers, not just in science but also at home, in the concert halls, the hospital - the rose or the tulip?
   Suddenly you see them everywhere, and no one gets tired of them though they abound. It´s just another charm!
                                                            *
 
   The wavy-bordered rampart installations must have been made for protection against invasion coming from the inland as in the case of naval warfare the fighting would have been confined to ships. As it can be seen from the map which resulted from our survey there were open spaces between those walls which offered a free view to the inland. The fortifications were inter-connected by defence gates in order that one, if the first fortifications were taken, might withdraw to the second row closing the gates to the first row, and then go on to the third row if necessary, finally taking to the sea where the ships were waiting while defending the beach from attack from that side.
   Probably palisades down the slope and across the beach must have been placed on both sides of the fortress but we could not find any traces of them - they must have been swept away during time if they weren´t simply removed as the fortress was abandoned.
   A simple, ingenious stronghold which fully proves that the early settlers on this remote island owned a highly developed fortress culture.
   The find invalidates the widespread notion that the islands  here in the North were not able to develop a proper state. Its basis just was quite different from taht of other states.
                                                         *
   Towards evening when we knocked at the door of the castle steward in the small, cosy dwellings of the family, with thatched roof and stork´s nest, we were heartily welcomed. The master of the house at once offered us a nip of an old local schnaps, as he explained, made on some of the wild herbs from the ruin. How delicious it tasted, especially now as it dusked outside. The cosiness spread through the room as the stove was lit.
   We sat for a while talking about this and that before dinner. The castle keeper obviously enjoyed having guests who were really interested in the history of the place so it was the easiest thing in the world to make him tell more about the castle in the old days.
   Many legends and tales still went around till a few years ago, passed on through centuries but now they seemed to fade away; those still maintaining an interest must do something to preserve them.
   They dealt with the splendid, often violent life connected to the fortress or the castle as he called it, notwithstanding that there was no actual house out there, only walls, and never had been anything else of lasting value. He stated that in the most ancient  times everybody had been living in an Arcadia which looked exactly as we imagine it to be though there were no ruins for that reason. During that time everybody had been living more or less on a war footing if not living with the cattle or guarding junctions with armies; everybody was dressed in fur around here, and therefore never were cold during the daytime, and at night one slept under thick furs - furs everywhere. They were famous for trading in furs.
   People at that time might just as well lie on an improvised bed in a fortress rampart as in lavishly decorated sleeping quarters, just as well in a barn as in a royal mansion. It didn´t matter at all to the people of those ages; we had to realize that we would have great difficulty understanding their way of living on the principle of our own soft. The young today ought to learn living that way; it would serve them right, he said.
   The ruggedness did not mean that life on the fortress was forever dull, though. From time to time players visited it; there were muscians and singers, troubadours, arriving at this remote site from afar, or from the region itself. Where the local artists had learned their skills was an open question but what was strange was that in spite of the lack of academies and conservatories there existed a tradition from one artist to the next meaning that they might be compared to one another and still be regarded as expressions of a shared tradition, and these style features often connected to still larger common cultures which some time or other coincided with the so-called high culture or court culture. 
   For instance many of the fiddlers´ tunes were reminiscent of French or Italian pieces like gaillards or tarantelles. The players did express themselves through their own bodies as a language but the knowing person would notice that what seemed coincidental or just funny (like a court jester) resembled something else, a style with specific rules.
   The legends told of a not rarely practised, unrestrained 'leben' in the fortress, and it often happened that song and play were only designed to conceal the sound of screams - which by the way did not belong to that age alone!
   Trying to haul 'the truth' forth the old never withheld themselves but made the greatest efforts here, with holy zeal coupled with the coarsest sadism. When the torture was over they gathered with greater appetite for dinner all the same, looking forward to the blood-red wine in their glasses probably making them look like Pierrots with the bloody mouths in their chalky-white faces. Like the toughest gangasters in a silent movie!
   The acrobats jumped and danced, scared out of their wits like jointed dolls in front of the tables. And then it might actually happen that they  really ran amuck, arranging the ultimate manic bloodbath, all from sheer excitement. And then, of course, it brought back its own punishment later.
   "The fortress is everything´s Alpha et Omega" was the castle keeper´s opinion. It was his entire life. We agreed concerning the past!
   But deep inside we adhered to a different explanation which wasn´t really an explanation but rather a pure mystery thus being uncannily intangible:
   "This castle installation with all its wave borders was not created by the river; it was born by the sea.
   It was like the rainbow showing us the vast bend of the globe. Like the bubbles in the foam on the wave crests, like the lobes in wakes, endlessly dispersed on flint-black water, translated into shields and swords, spirals, concentric circles, endlessly deep into each other.
   To our ecstatic reflection in this fine summer´s day it was a never ending repetition of sunken empires, realms sinking into the water only to arise from it again when the sun rose.
   As much an inner world with no boundaries as an outward symbol of power, a materialized dream of being - here - while not being. Suspension of not-being.
   Numerous as the scales of fish, as the roof tiles of buildings from the oldest times, as raindrops running and running across the roof down into the grass.
   As something which actually isn´t anything, soon to disappear, basically ridiculous, and therefore touching as well. As the constant clanging of bells on the cattle at the frontiers of the realm, as the sheep, almost losing themselves in the fog, becoming fog even, in the highlands.
  As the gurgle against the ships´s side - a hum lulling you to sleep. As the snake dance of light in the surface  of the water, in all harbours and rivers and brooks.
   As the fire and ice flashes in snow crystals, and the radiation in the interior of the earth, the energy, the atomic and molecular movements of metals.
   As watches.
   As the endless circling of the elements around themselves and each other.
   As every mysterious sign, the rock engravings, the script on the bottom of  all depths, the writing freeing itself to fly, in inscrutable, living patterns. As the heartbeats of the universe, at once ending and beginning. As life. As death."
                                                        *
Observation:
   "This rainbow stood above a green sea in a green space illuminated by strong white flashes of lightning making the atmosphere perceptibly electric."
                                                        *
   We have begun counting the waves. We wish to know their  language.


                                The End of Bastion of the Waves





 

  

Two fishing boats at the end of the rainbow

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17.01 | 18:15

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