Saturday, February 28, 2015

Solar powered devices

Elements of the Dutch landscape - 13

Once we had sundials looking at the sun and showing time. They reminded us of our mortality with their mottoes about the shortness of our time span.
No dial motto has a proper flavour until its years exceed those of the American Republic. It must, at least, be seasoned by a century of winters, have slowly ripened beneath twice ten thousand summer and autumn suns. Its place should be known of the generations of butterflies and birds; the creeping and clinging mosses should be old, constant friends.
Solar powered devices are modern sundials. Looking at the sun, drawing its energy like a flower. There are no motto's now. No reminders of mortality, just reminders of our 24*7 economy. Reminders of our need for electricity everywhere.
They are temporary. They will not last long enough to grow moss or lichen. They will be replaced, updated in our planned obsolescence culture.
It is charms like these which stimulate the motto-hunters to seek for the dial in village churchyards, near yew trees dark with the glooms of four hundred years, and in the lichened courts of ruined halls; in convents and in the green and flowery silences of ancient gardens.
They are not romantic. But they are sympathetic. Machines that work for us, everywhere, all the time. Night has meaning for sundials. It has no meaning for battery powered sunflowers.
What is Time? - A piece of  Eternity cut off at both ends!


Monday, February 23, 2015

Lines of sight - some ephemeral

In January 2014 I noticed that all the buildings along the Sophiakade had been demolished and that I could see the tower of the Hef bridge from a place where I had never seen it before.
I had to research this in more detail. Why could I see it? How exactly could I see it? Through what valley or urban canyon could I see this icon of old Rotterdam? How long was the sightline? (2 km)
I could also see the Willemsbrug through one of the openings. The demolition had revealed sightlines that probably would vanish very quickly. A distance of 1,7 km.
Having been sensitized to sightlines I discovered another one in the same neighborhood. This time a permanent one, following the direction of the Sophiastraat and ending at the Red Apple building at the Scheepmakershaven. A distance of 1,9 km.

A bit of playing with Google maps let me analyze the sightlines. They were shorter than I had expected. In my mind Rotterdam is bigger and the distances are larger.
Hunting for sightlines is interesting and surprising. Is it possible to do this on purpose? Is it possible to plan this in advance? Or do we have to stumble on this by accident? Have it find us, instead of us finding it?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Emil Cioran - it is not there

I remember I was reading Kierkegaard, and there was a gardener ... And one day
he asked me: "Why do you read all the time?"
I said: "Well ... because I like it, because ..."
He replied: "No, it is not there that you will find an answer. No, no, not in
books ..."
And I looked at the gardener and thought: "This guy actually thinks ...
and realizes ..."
He said: "No, no, one shouldn't search in books."


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Operation Barbarossa

Operation Barbarossa is fascinating because of its hopelessness (it was doomed to fail from the beginning) and its spatiality (the enormous distances involved). The invading forces were awed and depressed by the endless flat landscapes around them. They were destroyed by distance.