Sunday, August 1, 2010

Manhattan Circumnavigation

Okay, this is not about Goethe, but about a Goethe scholar. However, no one back in Louisville, where I come from would have ever imagined I would become a scholar of Goethe. Even less would they have imagined that I would become a kayaker and go paddling in the Hudson River. Yesterday, I joined a group of 55 for a circumnavigation of the island. The top picture is from a rest stop in Astoria, Queens; the other shows the rough waters of the East River.

Tomorrow I hope to get back to the sublime. I have come across something interesting. Though Bodmer was the person who introduced this term into German literary discourse, he was writing about sublime poetry, or the sublime style in writing. He was not writing about what people came to associate with the sublime in the 18th century, namely, grand mountains, the vast ocean depths, and other splendid natural phenomena. This absence would not be worth noting, except for the fact that Bodmer lived his entire life in Zurich, surrounded by the Alps.

My friend Felicitas Hoppe, in a recent small book, Der beste Platz der Welt, describing her stay in a small village in Switzerland, compares the sight of the Alps to the ocean.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember the Alps--from the air and from the trains. At the risk of sounding trite, it was a religious experience of a very high order. It is a "tie," the Alps vis-a-vis the ocean.