Monday, June 21, 2021

THE BOUYANCY OF THE CRAFT: The Writings and Travels of Annemarie Schwarzenbach, a novel by Morelle Smith / The day after the summer solstice 2019 and 2021


p. 3  

In 1942 the young American writer Carson McCullers penned a story A Tree.  A Rock.  A Cloud.  The idea of the story was that for a relationship to be sincere and genuine it need not be confined to one with another person but could be with any external object or being.  She had taken this idea from something her friend Annemarie Schwarzenbach had written to her, in a letter.  The separateness, wrote Annemarie, that we perceive between all beings is false; there is a greater perception, that of the heart which, if accessed, can override the illusion of separation.  Love is stronger, she wrote, no matter who or what one loves, even if it is 'a stone, a tree'.


p. 25

There are detailed descriptions of the conflicting sense of knowing and not knowing a once familiar place that we've returned to.  It has changed in the interim, as have we.  There is the conflict between what we remember -- more than just images in the mind, they seem to form part of our body and psyche, a blueprint for our being, a meshwork around which memories, feelings and thoughts spin and spiral, creating the fabric of our life.  So there's what we remember and what we see now, in the present time.  And there can seem little traffic between the two, few bridges to connect them.  It feels vital to effect a reconciliation between the two, yet there's no perceptible way of doing this.  It feels as if we have to choose between one of the other and we rebel against such a choice for whichever we choose, half of our being has to be abandoned.


p. 40

Though it sounds scarcely credible today, with our knowledge of what happened later, Breslauer says that up to that point they really were not aware of what was happening politically.  And Hitler seemed such a ridiculous figure that they did not believe that he and his party could stay in power for long.  How could one take such a person seriously?


p. 43

But 1933 was not just a year of personal success.  It began in the poisonous and dangerous atmosphere of Berlin, where she knew she could no longer stay, but would have to leave.  After living there and witnessing what was happening, she saw there was a new force to contend with, negative and destructive.  This new dynamic changed her outlook and her sense of purpose.  She could no longer live only for herself, for the pursuit of her own desires and her own personal freedom, however vital that still was.  From now on in her life, she would be seeking to serve a greater purpose, to find a way of doing something that would serve others, serve a cause, for a way to be committed to freedom in general, to be useful.


The enigmatic Annemarie Schwarzenbach was both dear and a puzzle to so many who met her during her short full life which ended in 1942.  I'm absorbing the experience of reading Morelle's book.  Last night I was compelled to stay up way past my bedtime to read the last .  It is one of those rare books that I am going to start reading a second time within 24 hours of reading it for the first time.

Morelle writes (p. 110) that on the day after the summer solstice in 2019, she was visiting Horgen on the shores of Lake Zurich, spending three days visiting the grave of Annemarie Schwarzenbach.

I'm grateful to Morelle for her blog, her photographs, her travel books and her books of poetry, and now her timely novel.

Photos of Annemarie Schwarzenbach and Morelle Smith from the lower left hand corner of the back cover:

1 comment:

dritanje said...

I am so touched that you took the time to post these excerpts, and to read the book twice! I'm not on blogger very often and I hadn't read your post before. I was so affected by Annemarie's life and writing that I felt almost compelled to write this book. I wanted others to know about her, others who could feel for her, understand and appreciate her, as you clearly have. I'm so grateful, thank you.