Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Other Side

This post is inspired by edition #15 of the language/place blog carnival: "Encountering the Other in Language + Place", hosted by Abha Iyengar at Encounters.

Sometimes when I take a picture, I turn around and take a photo of the counterparting view. It's nothing new that each place has two sides. But it's something that stands out more poignant in photos. Here's an example, this is a place I arrived at after a winding drive along a forest road, which opened to a wide view. There's a parking spot right at the end of the forest, and just some steps from there, I took the pair of photos, wondering how it would feel like to live righ there, halfway between forest and sky:


Those counterpart images also connect to the the saying "from my point of view" - which is almost identical in German: "Aus meiner Sicht" - "From my view". Whenever two people meet, and talk face to face, they automatically are standing in a (physical) counterpart view of their surroundings. Parallel to that, we all come from different places, and carry a different take on things, and sometimes wonder why others see the world in such a different, other way. And sometimes, when travelling, we find that our own take on things has changed in a different surrounding.

Following this thought, here's a second pair of images from Lanzarote island - a place where all ways lead to the water sooner or later. Lanzarote also is the place where I once wrote an island diary with this line on an "other" in it:

"Walking back, I followed my own trails for a while, and couldn’t help but wonder how it would have been to grow up here, on this island, surrounded by water. She would have been another I, that much was sure." (-La Isla)


Yet in fact, to shift view, we don't even need to change place at all. A simple inversion of subject and object is all it takes to arrive in the same, other place.

It was in spring, while clearing the withered twigs and preparing the garden for the new year, that a surprising thought popped up. The moment, it turned into some lines, penned down on the backside of a bulb package:

in between tulips bulbs
the question:
am i growing this garden
or is this garden
growing me?

some days later, in a wordless encounter, a tulip opened. it was same like the others, and different at the same time:

that was 2 years ago. since then, i wait for a tulip to open in this special way again. and recently, mailed with a friend about individuals who are different, who draw attention, wanted and unwanted, and are mocked by others. one of the key line of the conversation was this: “in so many ways, it can be uncomfortable to be different. it takes courage. there is a price to pay for it.”

the paradox seems to be that there is deep longing of the human psyche to be special. and at the same time, another part of us longs to be comfortable in ones surrounding, to be “part of the group/crowd”. and so many films are about people with special talents who are mocked first, and then find their way and are celebrated – but this mocking, it’s also a part of our social structure. and not all biographies lead to a happy end.

in German, there is an own word for people who are following individual pathes that differ from the norm, or who have their own style - they are called "eigenartig", which literally translates to “Own-style”, but has the meaning of “strange”. which lead to this poetic wish from a German friend once:

wie das Wort eigenartig
es als fast fremdartig hinstellt
eine eigene Art zu haben“
ich wünsche dir
viel Freude und Glück und Eignenartigkeit"

how the word Eigenart („own-style“)
puts it as almost alien
to have an own style”
-i am wishing you
a lot of happiness and joy and eigenart

... and interesting that the German “Art” means style, way, approach – i wonder if it is connected to the English “art” for artistic expression. hadn’t noticed this.


related links .. encounters with the other side
- bay morning, two sides
- Four Berlins, or: I am (t)here
- shores, migration, modern times + a better world
- East Wet Real Life


Sherry O'Keefe said...

i like the way this post bring up the contrary element in life. we move through life wanting it to be all of one, not the opposite of this and that- but that is how life is and learning to accept it is often what sends each of us on some journey. this is a beautiful post, d.

Dorothee said...

thanks, Sherry! it’s a post that developed through the week - first i thought it would be 3 parts, but then those brought back memories of previous notes / thoughts on the theme, also to the mountain photo pair: a larger view.

Martin said...

Excellent contribution, fascinating, holistic and developmental. I shall start to look behind me more often to gain context rather than watching my back because of some neurosis or other. I was fascinated by the meaning(s) of eigenartig as well, and am becoming increasingly interested at the poetic potential of words from other languages.
This contribution really puts language and place into the eponymous blog carnival.

Dorothee said...

hi Martin - thanks for the feedback. looking forward to the poems that might come from your looking behind - and enjoyed your church / ghost reflection in the issue (