Daniela Noitz, born in 1972 in Austria, studied German, Theology and Economics in Vienna. After a long run with many detours, she works as a ghostwriter, texter and writer.
Editor note: Daniela was invited to contribute a number of essays and stories that emerge out of her interaction and exchanges with images. Text and image on the surface speak different languages and syntax, at deeper levels they join with acts of seeing and intuition. sensation and knowing.
Seeing was first (see part one). It makes the space manageable, opens up directions and possibilities. The world is no longer simply a whole that is as it is, but it is fragmented into many small, handy parts. These parts are the overview, the rest is what is overlooked. It does not matter. We need to focus because otherwise we are lost in the whole. The part which we overlook, and which thus delimits from the part which we overlook, is the covetous and the animated. We move into what is seen (see part two), and when we reach the limits, we take up a new part and leave the old, leaving it to ourselves and the insignificance. The part we see in which we move is the part that touches us. Little children feel what they see. They reach and touch, approach the seen with the skin, our greatest sense organ, and let themselves be touched. If we do not touch any more, let us not touch each other, we are lost, in seeing movement, in moving seeing. It remains incomplete. In addition to the visual occurs the haptic moment. Over time, we lose it, or we let it take us away, because “we” are told, “look is just with the eyes”. In doing so, let us take the reference to the given, let us separate and isolate. Not to grasp is no longer to be understood, and thus forms a cause which leads to the indifference of modern man. Unconsciousness is homeless, for seeing is collected and underlined by the step of conquest. Like a sword between me and the visible. Only the touch heals the separated and makes it part of my life-reality, yes, at least a part of a vitality.
I take seeing seriously, in the first step of myself, I perceive myself as a seeing one, who, on its own initiative, focusses on and engages with it. World division into small, digestible snacks. Like the image that presents itself to me. I accept the invitation. First step, which is not yet itself movement, but the movement is beginning. Second step. Take me into the picture and sit down. I sit down. I exert a claim to perception by manifesting it in a train of thought, in a course of thought. Third step.
Touching through what surrounds me, in the part that I chose and into which I gave myself. Let them be touched by the light and the shadow, by the colors, or by their absence. From the memory, which I pretended to know. Water. Earth. Warmth. I’ve already touched it and touched me. I get it back and use it piece by piece in what is seen and committed. Thus it is always adulteration, distorted by the difference in experience, which is once again distorted as a memory. Double refraction. Mirror in the mirror. Construction of a part of the world condemned to reality.
A bush in the foreground. Just a bush. One who is consumed and old. Knotted stems, woody branches. Not a single green leaf is visible, let alone a flower. It seems as if the sun and the wind had robbed it of all its vitality. Yet it stands there. Like a memorial. Like a warning. It blocks the way and the view. If it had leaves, perhaps even flowers, the view would remain, but it is just a scandal that the behind can be seen but cannot be reached. It is just this notion that makes it appear more appealing. Idea. Guess. He is not only prominent, but also in focus. Clear and tangible. The behind is however spongy and blurred. One suspects earth and water. Side by side. A shore. A River. Above a bridge. Two, three small colored blots, which are not natural, but humanized. Maybe a playground. Meeting point of people. And behind the bridge the expanse. The blue sky. Outlook.
Access to the world. With sweeping steps to commit. But there is the bush, the gnarled, old, marsh bush, which cannot remain alive but does not want to leave. The sun burns mercilessly from the azure sky. As if to mock the one who strove forward. You do not know whether you should go left or right. It is only certain that there is no dodge down. Maybe to the top, but the view is straight ahead. Forced to inevitability, the aspirations and focus are so secure. Just behind the bush.
Earlier, much earlier than the eons count or was it just yesterday or just now, there was a country, and this country was world. They said. I did not understand it. At least nothing has changed. How can something be that is not in my experience? I asked the question, but without success. An answer would have been a success. A usable a triumph, but I did not even succeed. Perhaps, I consoled myself, I would understand later. In the meantime, the statement that the world was the world was still far beyond obscurity. Later, this was a vague, unprecedented exposure to the day when I would be as great as those who kept my triumph, even my relatively easy success. This was mainly due to the erroneous assumption that those who were already as large as I would be in a later period would have an answer. But this was not so, for the later, in which I was so great, revealed to me this naked truth. Nevertheless, the neglect of the question had an effect, for I left the question questioned and looked at the country which they called the world.
In the middle of the part of the world that I had been thinking, I sat, and after I had no more question to ask, at least for the time being, I was just sitting there looking around, for perhaps I might know what the world was about me Or at least for what I sat here. It was a mysterious country, this world that was my part. I did not want my part from the beginning. Our sound was much nicer before I knew the word. The sound preceded the word as well as the meaning. I wanted to show it to everyone, to let everyone participate, or at least to feel how the earth felt. Naked as I was then and could be, I was sitting on the ground. Crumbs and small stones. Also a great. He poked me into the butt. I pushed it aside. Because I did not know what it was, what poked me. Then I took the stone, when I identified it as the one who had poked me, and threw it into the water, which flowed comfortably before my feet. Drops floated under the impact of the stone, while the stone itself dived down to the bottom. It was lying comfortably. The water wetted the earth, which at this point no longer felt crumbly but muddy and sticky. Earth and water. The first people were nothing but earth and water, clay, as has been reported. Life. Earth that is crumbly and persists, and water that is wet and flowing. Even these two come together. The earth to the water. The water to the earth. Plants grow from it. Green first. Color pigments that interrupt and transform the green. The seeds are distributed and join to water and soil while the sun warms and makes grow. I sat on the ground, took it in my hand and let it trickle down between my fingers. My feet were dug into the earth so close to the water that they filled with it. Cold and wet, it swelled around my feet, which were immediately dried again by the sun’s rays, leaving only a slightly brownish edge left behind by the earth, which carried the water when it flopped up at my feet.
I sat on the shore, before I stood up, wading through the water, which reached me at the lowest point just to the knees. It was not hard to cross it. There was a playground, as everyone knows. A very ordinary, banal playground. Slide. Swing. Sandpit. Ordinary and banal, actually, and yet it was for me heaven on earth. With all the possibilities to let off steam. Or would it have been if I had not been alone in my land, which was so beautiful and mysterious. I wanted someone to visit me, in this beautifully mysterious, mysteriously beautiful land. But no one came. Perhaps, I presumed, after I had not yet been in this later, in which I should be able to raise my question again, it was because the others were afraid to go through the water. But if you did not cross the water, you could not get to the playground. Sometimes the water was dull and the ground was not recognizable. So I built a bridge to connect. But I still remained alone.
At last it was so far that I could ask my question again. So I went away and into another part, maybe a common, public. But instead of an answer, they only pointed out headshaking, that the land I spoke of, which I described in the most checkered colors, would not be accessible. Despite the bridge. Also not in sunshine, if someone could not find the bridge. I stared at those who were serious about it. It was only when I turned around and I saw where I used to be, I realized what they meant. Knotted, old trunks and branches stood high. Dead trunks and branches, between which one could see through. But there was no more than a clue. If it had been at least a thorny hedge, a dense thorn-leaf and flower-blotched and over-arched hedge hiding everything behind itself. But at least the memory was not cursing lies because there was no more. But the trunks and branches glimmered faintly with familiarity, which was my land, and my confidence and hope. The rage surfaced in me, the rage that I had moved out of my land because I had been stuck in the illusion that I would get an answer and enter this land with you. Instead, I had cut myself off.
“There are only old, dead branches,” I thought, as I approached bravely, full of confidence that I could easily break them, but instead of that assessment, they bored into my hands, through them, so that my blood flowed in streams over my hands, dripped to the ground and united with it, forming a trickle up to the water, and this too dyed blood-red until the sun dried it. So that part of me was in the earth. And in the water. And in the air. And in the sun.
It was then that you took my hand, which pierced, took to you, turned it so that the inner surface pointed upward. Gently you weighed it in your own as you looked at the wounds. I found concern in your gaze. You washed my wounds and bandaged them so that they could heal. And the waters were your tears. And the bandage were your hands. Because you thought I was lost, forever. As if there were such a thing. Maybe yes. We settled down. The earth among us. The water at our feet. The sun above us. It would not have needed any bridge. It was our land. Now. I just did not want to ask if it had not always been there, for I was afraid of the answer.
The shrub, the dead, extinct shrub dominates the image, just as we are often inclined to let the dead things distract us from the living claim. Only the dead is permeable, so that it is probably prominently placed, but still the possibility allows to see between the trunks and branches. It urges you to fill these gaps afterwards. It is probably also the curiosity what may be behind it, but above all the longing for life, from which one is blocked here, which one can nevertheless see, recognizes that it still exists. It is not a complete exclusion, just an obstacle. The longing for warmth and security and arrest, which one thinks they always settle where they cannot be reached. It is no coincidence that the idea of paradise emerges from which people are expelled, from whom they nevertheless know that it can be. But between them and the fulfillment stands the dead, the greed for things and possessions, the envy for the happy and contented. All this makes the dead shrub grow even further. Actually, one wanted only to go out to return with others, but the intention was not to live in an egalitarian coexistence, but simply to boast that the mysterious country from which you come belongs to one. It is the hubris that grow the shrub. Dead growth, like the economy and consumption. Dead growth, because it has nothing to do with life, but only for its own sake. The paradise remains and is visible, but it is hidden and blurred, it is surrounded and inaccessible. Until a hand comes, from the one who has also injured himself on these branches. Paradise is no longer clear, no longer accessible, but being here, in all its fragility, can be made bearable. We see, move into what is seen, let us touch and touch, so that solipsism becomes a world-connectedness.
© Daniela Noitz, 2017
Bilder @Roberto Muffoletto