[043] the perfect escape

it’s not always necessary to go long distance in order to find a cute little place where you can hide from the world for some valuable time. you don’t even have to escape into the arms of nature. there are these spots in midst of all civilisation as well… like highway reststops on a very early sunday morning.

nothing but you with yourself, a bowl of goulash soup and a pot of artificial flowers in your warmly illuminated cocoon with this specific background noise that is actually subsisting but reduced to a minimum. not only that it’s not disturbing much, it feels like it’s even improving all meditational effects, like some sort of urban equivalent of the rushing of a creek. where no soundtrack is needed.


[043] the perfect escape

[028+] shangri-la, addendum

in addition to the verbose chronicle of the sólfar anecdote, i decided to provide a little information about the other spots as well that are mentioned in the article – and to explain why exactly they became symbolic landmarks in my biography and that valuable for me personally.

1. barbican estate (london)

my father is an architect and architects usually have books on architecture. those with less text and more pictures radiate a very early attractivity to architect sons. at least in my case. and yeah, of course there was this one book. i deeply enjoyed the very unique kind of hypnotic effect those photographies had on me and, all in all, spent weeks looking at them. what amazed me the most was barbican estate – take that, sydney opera, lomonosov university and lincoln center! yeah, i soon started intense daydreaming of walking around there and the more i dreamed the more became obvious that i had to go there one day. happened late 90s.

2. bargfeld

bargfeld is a small village in the vast german tundra called “lüneburger heide”. it’s known for hardly anything but being an escapist’s hideout and the place that my alltime favourite german writer, mr. arno schmidt, chose for spending his last 20 years, together with his wife alice and some cats. the house he bought and lived in and the entire property are a pure myth, so it became obvious that i had to go there one day. happened a few years ago.

3. absinthe route (france / switzerland)

not much explanation needed here. absinthe is the thing for me since my late 10s and of course a true loyalist, disciple and believer has to visit the sainted birthplace. thats why it soon became obvious that i had to go there one day. happened only recently and i wrote an article about it.

4. former kling klang studio (düsseldorf)

a family saga says, that my mother used to listen to “kometenmelodie” when she was pregnant with tiny me. my conscious connection with the music was established by a tape my father gave me as a kid. it contained “autobahn” in full length amongst other shy and poppy electronic music pieces. and queen. kraftwerk are the pioneers and godfathers of electronic music and most of the opus was created in their own “kling klang” studio. never felt that much admiration for a band again – you’re not a band, björk! alongside the urgent wish for attending a concert it became obvious that i had to go there one day. happened some years ago.

5. gellért thermal bath (budapest)

when i came back from my first budapest visit, i found out that hadn’t been at gellért thermal bath. in the following i almost bit my hand off due to furious(est) anger and since there was no alternative sedation it became obvious that i had to go there one day. i grew up in a city with thermal bath tradition and even though i always denied my rootedness of any kind, my origin most probably played a role here. never in my life i visited a place again without solid preparation beforehand. second visit happened soon after the first.

6. old tresor (berlin)

“old” means leipziger straße. i’ve never been to any other address with a “tresor” label above the entry door. not much explanation needed again. tresor berlin was the center of my techno universe, the mekka of the underground movement. heard it the first time mid 90s from the beloved frontpage magazine. it’s one of those rare places you feel not only overwhelmed but seriously honoured when entering for the first time. dunno if anyone knows what i am talking about. anyway. it soon became obvious that i had to go there one day. happened soon after my 18th birthday and several times afterwards until it was closed down.

7. people’s friendship arch (kyiv)

in early 2009 it occured that i found myself wondering whether or not to book a flight to kyiv. the problem was neither the fact that i had never been there before nor the well-meaning safety advices by the health insurance dude. the crux was that the entire plan based solely on promises of two persons i never met before in real life. in case of one of these persons it even wasnt completely sure that this person really was, what she claimed to be – and not a fat, hairy, tourists eating dude. but on the whole, the kyiv idea was just too promising and exotic in the perfect way. at some point, curiosity and bravery finally took the lead over scepsis and doubts and i started imagining how i stood on that hill unter the arch and everything had turned out just fine so far. i simply had to give it a try and so it became obvious that i had to go there one day. happened in late 2009. and yeah, everything turned out fine in the end! more than that.

to be continued…

[028+] shangri-la, addendum

[028] shangri-la

in my 10s i watched a documentary about iceland. i saw glaciers, highlands, volcanos as well as reykjavík, lighthouses and puffin rocks. i certainly liked what i saw but i liked a lot back then. life appeared voluminous, colorful and promising. so i bookmarked the entire thing as “i’d like to visit (one day maybe)” and soon afterwards the pictures left the stage of consciousness again, alongside many others.

in the middle of some tough times later on, the icelandic pictures rose from the depth back to the surface. the wish to escape from the here and now got its own peaceful and redeeming face; when iceland transformed from a “i’d like to visit” into a “i have to visit” destination. one specific picture soon became the embodiment of shangri-la: the sólfar. it took some more years until the trip finally happened. as i wrote in my diary back then, standing next to sólfar was kind of a long-awaited milestone in my life. now i was finally able to close this chapter of loss and suffering and to look into a future. a little pathetic but still…

there were, are and will be a lot more of such symbolic refuge places and lucky me had the opportunity to visit some of them: barbican estate (london), bargfeld, absinthe route, former kling klang studio (düsseldorf), gellért thermal bath (budapest), old tresor (berlin), people’s friendship arch (kyiv), … – each and everyone is connected with its own individual time of yearning in my past – not necessarily coming along with suffering, thank goodness! the spots mentioned above are not directly comparable to the sólfar of course in terms of subjective value and importance but still mean a lot more to me than those countless “nice to visit” places.

i wont post a sólfar picture here. common decency and due to great respect for all the other places on the face of the planet that already were / are or will be playing their role in my biography. i found an abstract shangri-la illustration instead which perfectly does the trick.


taken from: http://publicdomainreview.org/

[028] shangri-la

[027] inverted van gogh effect

unfortunately many are led to van gogh’s art by his extraordinarily eventful life, writes raymond cogniat in his biography, even though the art persists in itself, deserves highest admiration and should not be seen as the illustration of a gripping fate. ok, cogniat’s book is from 1958 which brings up a question: is it still the same today? do people still get in contact first with the painter’s life events and only later with the sunflowers? not too sure about that. in my case at least, it was the exact opposite. my first contact with the sunflowers was in kindergarden i guess. the more i’m bombed with something within a certain timespan (especially mass / pop / hype stuff) the less interested i get. that’s the main reason why vincent willem van gogh entered my personal stage not before autumn 2016.

what i already knew before (besides goddamn sunflowers) was: dutch painter with a love for self-portraits and starry nights, absinthe drinker who cut off his ear (correlation myth), overall associated with impressionism. i heard his name in school, tv and lectures; spotted his face on postcards, cheap absinthe bottles and dutch chocolate boxes; saw his paintings in museums, books and documentaries – and simply got oversaturated pretty soon; too annoyed too early to generate a serious interest. every other painter was more attractive right from the start.

a few years ago i attended an exhibition on montmartre fin de siècle art and found myself standing amazed in front of (non-cliché) “la colline de montmartre avec une carrière de pierres” (wikimedia image). it usually can be found at amsterdam van gogh museum so i probably walked past it already without taking notice. i mean, it requires a certain amount of maturity maybe to find attraction in moody landscape paintings. nothing to please teenagers for sure. in a fairy moment in val de travers, holding a glass of absinthe, i decided to finally explore whether there really was a relation between my favourite distilled beverage and the dubious decision for self-mutilation by mr. sunflower. van gogh was successfully dismissed and offtopic long enough which perfectly allowed it to ask google.

as a result i’m now reading biographies and the correspondance between vincent and theo van gogh; looking at the (non-forest) pictures i took during my french-belgian holidays, watching documentaries by (sensational) waldemar januszczak (youtube) and starting my precious little private hype now. time is right for this!


[027] inverted van gogh effect

[025] val de travers

a cute and tiny swiss valley next to the french border – with sleepy villages, a picturesque river, beautiful restaurants and museums, mystic trails, delicious sausages and cheeses, pure and adorable creeks and fountains in deep forests and everything surrounded by steep mountains. far away from ski- or any other form of mass tourism it lies cozy and quiet, famous for clock manufactory even though time apparently stands still. escapist’s paradise and, almost as a sideline, the birthplace of absinthe. the perfect little spot to disappear from the face of the planet for a little while, to come to a complete stop and to recharge the inner batteries. shangri-la for walking meditation and a mental reboot.

absinthe is the thing for me for almost two decades now. introduced to history, myth and rituals in my late 10s, i meanwhile drank lots of different brands and versions all over europe but never an original one; until my visit at val de travers a couple of days ago. act of long awaited completion. you cant miss the absinthe thing there when spending your time with eyes opened but all happens in an unobtrusive and all too pleasing way. outlying farmhouses, growing the holy wormwood (artemisia absinthium), smaller and bigger distilleries, some modern, new and always legal, some older, rich in history and with owners who were proud resistance fighters during prohibition with great stories to tell.

highly recommended for these kind of slow-paced interludes that are needed from time to time to pause for a moment and to make sure you’re still alive and moving forward into the right direction. to feel real again… the blue color filter in absinthe context is intentional by the way. for those who know.


[025] val de travers

[020] forest

this is gonna be a tough one. let’s start right away… i am 35 years old and so far i always lived in places that are more or less close to forests. i spent probably hundreds of hours in forests already in my life. they’ve always been around and therefore they are a pretty normal thing to me. at least that’s what i thought before i spent a couple of days in the ardennes.

this trip enormously changed my perception of a collection of trees and bushes. it seems a bit like i experienced “forest” for the first time in its realness / trueness and got in touch with its soul, kind of inhaled parts of it. it’s goddamn hard to describe. no idea what made just this trip so special, so one of a kind. of course i’m perfectly clear about the fact that the ardennes don’t glow magically or some shit like that. it’s just trees and bushes like here around and everywhere else in europe. comparable look, comparable smell, comparable everything – but an entirely different FEELING (in a frenzyesque overwhelming way). now, skuyovdzhenyy, go on and describe that feeling without the flavour of esotheric sillyness.

hm, it’s a very poetic und surreal issue. let’s continue with describing effects and asking questions (and ideally get to cause and answeres in so doing). walking through the ardennes made me perceive everything a lot more conscious and feel a lot more mindful = connected. i was touched, pervaded and, in the end, filled up with the scenery. time at a standstill. but how was this 10 times more intense than every other nature experience so far? (maybe except iceland)

it actually reminds me again of this strange and almost creepy feeling of coming home at a place i’ve never been before. it even got religious and made me think of stuff like reincarnation and possible previous lifes. some serious thoughts, some trashy ones. it might be another manifestation of my everlasting latent wish for returning to the womb – here i definitely prefer the german word “mutterleib” which represents the poetic aspect of the entire thing a lot better.

i wonder if it’s just the next spoke on the ladder of my traditional glorification of the banal – i mean, i adore NASCAR which is, kept in perspective, not much more than cars racing in simple ovals for 3 hours. I adore minimalistic monobeatish music which is not much more than a synthetic heart beat with some audio ornaments. both could be seen as rather stupid. it might be the same thing with forests. again early symptoms of an urge to simplify an overstraining life?

i’m still attracted by forests more than ever but german forests appear like clean, structured and… german – which almost completely bans this “authentic” feeling i had in the ardennes.

after all, not knowing the answers to all this keeps the myth alive and triples the enjoyment… so let’s leave everything this way. as a feeling it’s none of reason’s business anyway.


[020] forest

[006] traumatized?

“never in my life i want to become one of those guys who spend their sundays with walking through nature – staring at trees and taking pictures of quiet lakes, listening to bird sounds. never in my life i want to act like this, like traumatized.” (diary, 1998)

what to say? well, 18 years after that, i made my experiences. some of the best, some of the worst. thankful for both, positive and negative climax. and i really find myself enjoying nature from time to time. i’ve reached my personal era of limited energy resources and it simply is the best way to recharge inner batteries. unimaginable for sure for a person living in the era of unlimited energy resources; a person who deliberately used to look for exactly those stress factors that grown-up me tries to avoid now. or escape.

“silence is legit solely after the storm. and storm is needed after too much silence. i dont wanna be one of those guys who are afraid of the idea of something they never really experienced. what they call ‘storm’ by hearsay.” (ib.)

see above. i think i faced storm (maximum strain) and silence (minimum strain) and learned to feel cozy between those two poles. knowing the full spectrum (of what is achievable or— bearable) is essential though for the inner balance of people like me. for being satisfied with what we have. being traumatized at least for a certain while was necessary here. to kill the “hearsay” part of the party. late night wannabe auto-psychoanalytism.

[006] traumatized?