Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Far from Krakow, where I'm living now

"Ideas may even join forces with the snow. . . ."

There was a children's book called The Trumpeter of Krakow that I read long ago. It wasn't a favorite book, but it might have won a Newberry Medal. I really cannot remember the story, except for the music that breaks off suddenly in memory of when the trumpet call was broken, Without that book, I might have grown up without ever hearing the name Krakow. It's an old-sounding name, mysterious and crackling with harsh consonants. How to know then how much I would love the writing of  Adam Zagajewski, who talks about Krakow so much in the beginning of his so-wonderful so-different, so-interesting book, Another Beauty. I know I am supposed to be writing my own stuff for this blog, but how can I resist? His chunks of prose make poetic leaps in such fresh and funny language. Each chunk (some are only two lines long, some more than a page) is printed in what looks like one and a half line spacing with three of the same size blank lines between chunks indicating that each one is a separate thought, or riff.

I am falling in love with this form, which almost reminds me of a diary, or notebook. My dear friend, D, used to write each night in her diary four lines, like a Chinese poem. In some ways, keeping a blog has become that sort of practice for me. I know I will pick a picture to start--not too tough, since I have thousands of pictures; then I will go riffing from there. I took up this work again in earnest at the New Year, and am finding it very rewarding, although I am still not writing (and thinking) as clearly as I hope to. Through practice? Here is tonight's Zagajewski:

"I can't write Krakow's history, even though its people and ideas, trees and walls, cowardice and courage, freedom and rain all involve me. Ideas as well, since they cling to our skin and change us imperceptibly. The Zeitgeist chisels our thoughts and mocks our dreams. I'm intrigued by all kinds of walls; the space we inhabit isn't neutral, it shapes our existence. Landscapes enter our innermost being, they leave traces not just on our retinas but on the deepest strata of our personalities. Those moments when the sky's blue-gray suddenly stands revealed after a downpour stay with us, as do moments of quiet snowfall. And ideas may even join forces with the snow, through our senses and our body. They cling to the walls of houses. And later the houses and bodies, the senses and ideas all vanish. But I can't write Krakow's history, I can only try to reclaim a few moments, a few places and events; a few people I liked and admired, and a few that I despised."
From Another Beauty, Univ. of Georgia Press, 2002. Page 20-21
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  1. This is beautiful. And I can see why you thought of Rose and Jennifer. Perfect.

  2. Snow and ideas joining forces--what a thought --thank you for this and for your exquisite photograph!