unmoored in space & time

WG Sebald, “Ambros Adelwarth”:

“At this point, Ambros’s entries continue regardless of the dates in his diary. No one, he writes, could conceive of such a city … Every walk full of surprises, and indeed of alarm. The prospects change like the scenes in a play. One street lined with palatial buildings ends at a ravine. You go to a theatre and a door in the foyer opens into a copse…”

In Constantinople, Ambros becomes unmoored in space & time. Then, catching sight of Mount Olympus, “for one awful heartbeat” he imagines himself to be back in Switzerland “or at home again”. Later in life he tumbles into depression and presents himself voluntarily at the asylum, where they steadily wipe his brain clean with ECT. The reader ends up crying, without entirely knowing why.

Every time I read, I dredge up the same piece of knowledge about myself: I prefer books about lost people to books about found ones. It’s always a surprise.

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3 Comments

Filed under ghosts, landscape, lost & found, Uncategorized

3 responses to “unmoored in space & time

  1. I agree.

    And I even prefer lost people to found ones.

    But I’ve just drunk two caiparinhas on the beach of Luanda’s decaying ilha, at the end of a three month trip around Angola. I’ve met more lost people and more found people than I ever imagined one could even dream of. Here, I feel as though I am walking through a gallery of some kind, constantly wanting to paint what I see: a man sitting in the bent branch of a tree, one arm hanging loose, his cap tilted casually across the top of his head. Delight and tears constantly fighting for space in the crush of existence that is so prevalent. Six green parrots with red beaks, a shoeless boy who leads me to the Konika store to publish pictures of a girl I met as a baby fleeing bombs. Wiping the brain clean… ending up crying… without knowing why…

    So good you’re back blogging MJH.

  2. Pete

    Yes! A very welcome return.

    Uzwi’s mysterious disappearance prompted numerous bad thoughts: “Oh, no, he’s drafted in as a script consultant on The Hobbit and daren’t show his face on the web” was about the worst.

    Such a relief!

  3. uzwi

    Hi Lara. What can I say, except it’s nice to know you’re unmoored out there in the world.
    Hi Pete. How did you get wind of that ? Never mind. The gig can’t last once they find out I’ve recast the whole thing as a remake of Wages of Fear directed by Michael Haneke, with CGI interventions from Maria Lassnig.