Daniela Noitz: Seeing Was First

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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.

Image: © Roberto Muffoletto

© Roberto Muffoletto



Seeing was first. Both in phylogeny and ontogenesis. Man perceives his world, from the beginning, and is equally non-verbal. The verbal expression comes comparatively late. When a baby comes to the world it looks. Probably in the restricted space, but just so far   that it can recognize the face of who takes it up and accepts it. Seeing is turning. Then the view widens into the world into which it is thrown. This limitation in the beginning is a protection from the primordial imbalance of the living that surrounds the world. The starting point of being in the world is the inclusion in the community. From there, the going out takes place and becomes familiar in the view. This amazement over the surplus can be understood later, when one climbs a high mountain and the world spreads itself in front of you one time. Amazement, which manages without words, because there is none.

The overcoming of the moment of cognition, in which one becomes aware that this is what I recognize and which already astonishes me, is only a small part of what is recognizable. The immediacy of experience, of impression, is a purely personal event, which is neither partial nor communicable in that individuality. In holding the moment, he loses his immediacy. A mediator intervenes between the moment of experience and expression, whether in the form of a pictorial representation, in whatever form or in a narrative. In any case, the focus is directed to something and the non-focused is spared. The banned image is a cutout. On the one hand, the depiction is consciously impoverished, but precisely because of this impoverishment a concentration on the one aspect to which the mediator aims is successful. He does not want to force us into a totality, but into the essence of what we have seen, which he wishes to communicate. Whereby it is not said that the recipient accepts that aspect. The image itself is fixed, static. It is, in its kind, a conditio sine qua non, which the recipient can neither admit nor oppose, because he does not directly experience the particular aspect. He remains in his freedom of perception and even sets his focus in a contradictory way. This freedom and openness of the reception makes possible the communication and change the topic into a linguistic one by the person depicted. As end-valid as it appears in its elaboration, it is so indeterminate in perception. In the linguistic dispute, in the approaching it is revived, re-seen and changed. The linguistic expression can make it relative, expand, constrict or simple be.

The picture is here. It is something given. The freedom of the recipient begins at the point at which he decides whether or not he or she is entering into the given. The decision for this involvement is, in the rarest of cases, a conscious one, but one aspect that appeals and forces the concentration. This does not necessarily have to be the motive. It can be a color shading, a certain way of brightness or the absence of brightness, a vague memory, a supposed recognition, an undefined intuition, and much more, but whatever it is, it takes me into seeing, into seeing, which someone else is pretending to follow, to follow or to oppose.

The seeing was first, and yet the seen, the artificial, mediated vision can be enriched and expanded by language. The individual I see is translated into language and thus into another medium of communicability. In linguistic mediation, I can remain in the picture, or let myself in on the offer of the concentrated, fixed moment, by giving myself a story to which it challenges me. In this way, the condition of the cut-out of the world, which finds itself in the picture, can be found in many different ways in the story:

  1. The image as starting point: The beginning of the story is the image. From there, the events are set in motion and we move out into the world, let us lead us into a becoming which takes its origin in the depicted.
  2. The In-Image Remain: A story that evolves and remains in the picture. Demonstrating the kafkaeske of our society and dismantling the illusion of space and time.
  3. Story as a counterpoint to the image: Here, history forms a conscious opposition to the image, expands it by its opposite and calls for a discourse.
  4. The image in utopia: Utopia, as a non-place or all-place is more than a dream, more than a fiction. It is a necessity of soul cleansing and a possibility. In utopia we find archaic patterns that are triggered by the image.
  5. The image as an end point: Arrived, at a goal, perhaps, at least an intermediate stage. The before that brought one to this now. A final point, which limits a precedence and makes it clear.

But in order to escape the gray theory, this is illustrated by the following examples. The image, as a starting point, is the recognition, the seeing first, following. This is obeyed by a simple literal translation, ie, a description of what has been seen. And after this come the paths of access to the image in the form of a story. The various paths and accesses are to be limited to one each, which is quite conducive to clarity, following the five possibilities mentioned above. This is followed by the respective story itself. Lastly, there follows a reflection on the thought process, which preceded, directed, provoked, inspired and channeled the writing.


The first thing that comes to mind, prominently and engagingly situated, is the staircase. A staircase of metal, with the same railings. Functional more is not an object of use in which as little material as possible was used. Cost-saving and durable. Wide and overhanging. Designed to allow many people to walk up and down at the same time. Cold and pragmatic, like all functional. Silver-lustering, the yellow warning color only where a paragraph comes. The snow still lays on it. Even if the snow itself is cold, it dampens the coldness of the functionality and of the human work. A little at least. Slippery is the metal. How easy you can slip and get hurt. Now nobody is on the steps. It is outside the times when many people run. There is no one. Probably in the middle of the night. Still, the light is gleaming bright. Destroy the night. Makes it functionless to enable the functioning. No matter how late it is, it has to go on. The night made to the day. The staircase leads to a corridor that is made of glass and metal. The functionality is retained. It provides protection, but no warmth. It is not a place to stay. Come quickly. Go quickly. Timing of the train. Of the timetable. Right next to the stairs the station building. An older building, which does not quite correspond to the advantages of mere, modern functionality. The shutters are closed. Left the train, or the completion of a train. The red glows through the snow and the cold and the darkness and the glimmering light. Ready for departure. It must go on. And in the upper left a yellow sign. Part of it, and next door, more tracks. Without life. Ghostly.

Story: Escape into the unknown

The train slowly approaches its final destination. A little he closed his eyes, was also a little drunken, probably. Just not too much. He is afraid of his dreams. This is why it is better to just ditch a little. Do not let it come to a dream. It always starts the same, this dream. Beautiful and young as she was, she put her hand around his neck as he lay in bed while he could not move. His body had simply failed him. It felt like a piece of wood. No muscles. No joints. Just more rigid. Her hand was pushed under his neck, her face was over his. It had been close to him. He could see her smile, her tenderness, and the curls of hair that had come out of the knot. He would have liked to remove it as much as he had done so often.

No, not that dream again. The train had arrived. Where? No matter. He looked at the sign. He had fled head-on-head, from a life that was no longer one, from a dying that could not take place, just somewhere. Just because. As if anything in life were easy. But now he had to leave the train. Only more. Middle of the night. Between midnight and four o’clock in the morning. It was a good time to travel if you wanted to celebrate your loneliness. Or if you did not have the strength to step out of it. He rose heavily from his seat. He was indeed the only one. His bones ached. Everyone, so it came to him. But now there was no turning back. Why should there be a forward? But the fact that after all these decades he had been able to get rid of everything and leave everything behind, showed that there was somewhere in him, quite hidden, at a secret angle, a hope of a forward. This hope had broken out, when, while she had slept soundly, he grabbed the suitcase and left. Only the most necessary. He was already burdened with himself. His body no longer wanted his will. He had to take that into consideration. But he did not need much more.

How much he had loved her, and probably still loved, over all the decades, and yet it had not been the same since that day in November. He had been skating with their own son.

“Are you sure the ice will hold?” She asked uncertainly, as she helped her son into the ski train. He still saw him before him, so full of joy and devotion to life. It was no easy undertaking to force him into the throne, because he could not stand for a moment. And there was her anxiety and fear, which she did not want to show, not to their son.

“Sure, I’m sure!” He heard himself laughing. Was he really sure? Of course, he would not have done it. Nothing could happen to them, he was convinced until he came home alone. And then there was only him and the woman he loved. But her son was no longer there. He was so sure.

He crossed the platform. The light dazzled. The night has its ghosts. Shadows and demons, but none of these demons could be as sustained as those who had lived in his heart since that day. And the picture of the little face under the ice. Then came the other face, which bent over him and smiled at him. The smile disappeared and the tenderness as the hand broke out of the neck and now surrounded his neck. But no, she did not want to do it. He should continue to live with this guilt and with her. This was the greatest punishment. For her, because she trusted him, had entrusted him with the most important in her life, and for him, as he got the reproach of every single day, every single moment felt.

Could there really be a forward? He was here, in a strange place, without knowing where he wanted to go. Slowly he climbed up the stairs, the iron, unadorned stairs that took him from this place to wherever he went. The railing on which he held himself felt cold. He had planned nothing. There were no plans for him. Since that day. He was still thinking whether a café would be open at all, as he slipped abruptly. Step by step, he fell backwards to lie quietly and immovably in the snow. Immobility as in his dream. Just that he really did not have to worry anymore.

Inspirational reflection

A lonely station, in the middle of the night, somewhere between midnight and four in the morning. This is because, as experience shows, the times when most of the railway stations are small are themselves the largest. It has something scary. In addition, the decimation to the pure functionality. It is a place where you leave or arrive, to which you accompany a departure or pick up someone arriving. But no matter how you want, you want to get back from there as quickly as possible. Transit station. There is a train. He just arrived. A single passenger is getting out. What is he doing there, in the middle of the night, between midnight and four o’clock in the morning? Where does he comes from? Does he move his steps? Who is it? The symbol of a lost one, in a place that takes no one but repels it by its coldness. Human work. Mere functionality. He has gone. Why? It could be an escape. It’s an escape. An escape into uncertainty, coldness, abandonment, a place that drives you out again. But what motivates someone into the night of abandonment and the cold and the uncertainty to flee to a place where one cannot stay? It can only be something that is even worse than the cold outside, something that lets you endure all that, an even deeper homelessness. The man, who was confused from one homelessness to another, would easily imagine him as a young man. It is easy to change his life when one is young. The older you get, the more difficult it is for most people. It takes more people out of the habit to expel, from an environment in which one does not feel comfortable. Better stay than go. Until it is really unbearable. What could that be? A threat? A relationship from which you flee before you stifle? A solitude from which one can no longer break out? Small hints to start with. A catch in the situation, which radiates warmth, but also has an irritating effect.

A grant that can be expected to be answered, but which does not occur because it has fallen into stiffness. But he has to get rid of it. It was the dream that drove him away, into the loneliness, the hopelessness, into which one only goes, if the former is still more hopeless. And when he reveals what he fled, there can be only one way of forgetting.


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