Saturday, September 16, 2017

The mysterious fragments

Elements of the Dutch landscape - nr.15
Particles of deep topography - nr.27

Sometimes, when walking through the Dutch landscape I'm reminded of the book The origins of the kabbalah by Gershom Scholem. This book describes the Bahir, a foundational cabalistic text.
That the text before us is in fact fragmentary ... is beyond doubt. We are dealing with a collection or a redactional adaptation of fragments. Sometimes the text even breaks off in the middle of one sentence and continues with the middle of another, which can hardly be explained otherwise than by the loss of a page in the oldest manuscript ... Other lacunae are clearly recognizable ... the answer to a question is missing ... important enumerations are not brought to a conclusion.
The landscape often behaves like this. It presents us with fragments without context, little mysteries that cannot be resolved because their field of sense is gone. (See also here.)

Near Hardinxveld

It feels as if the landscape is making suggestions and posing puzzles. It feels as it it's trying to teach us a lesson about impermanence and vanitas. It confronts us with a mystery, but the message is jumbled and fragmentary.
The Book Bahir, whose few pages seem to contain so much that is pertinent to the mystery of the origin of the Kabbalah, has the form of a midrash, namely, a collection of sayings or very brief homiletical expositions of biblical verses. These are not set forth according to any particular organizational principle. Thus the book is devoid of a literary structure. Furthermore, as we shall see, it is only with the greatest reservations that one can speak of a uniform development of thought in the various paragraphs of the text. Everything seems to have been jumbled together haphazardly.
Near Hazerswoude
Note: is seems like this would be easy to find, but as yet I've not been able to determine what kind of monument this is.
It could be a fragment of a castle wall or a dovecote.

And horror writers are also interested in fragments and ruins.
The Man Who Collected Machen and Other Weird Tales (Mark Samuels)
Those ruined and decayed remains of buildings that have been abandoned due to their commercial worthlessness have more mystery about them than any number of new glass and steel developments. They are testaments to the truth that the city ... is an organic entity with an occult life and history of its own ... there are still ghosts in those shells, and ... as long as memory lingers and imagination is not stamped out ... the ghosts will live on.

Behind Hitland - Nieuwerkerk

Near Hekendorp
And, just like the book Bahir, these fragments have something sacred about them. We should chertish those places and point others towards them. Make them into places of pilgrimage.
Noctuary (Thomas Ligotti)
There are holy places in this world, and I have been to some of them. Places where the presence of something sacred can be felt like an invisible meteorology. Always these places are quiet, and often they are in ruins. The ones that are not already at some stage of dilapidation nonetheless display the signs and symptoms, the promise of coming decay.

Near Rhoon
We feel a sense of divinity in ruined places, abandoned places — shattered temples on mountaintops, crumbling catacombs, islands where a stone idol stands almost faceless. We never have such feelings in our cities or even in natural settings where the flora and fauna are overly evident. This is why so much is atoned for in wintertime, when a numinous death descends on those chosen lands of our globe. Indeed, winter is not so much the holiest time as it is the holiest place, the visible locus of the divine.
Near Oostvoorne

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