Monday, June 7, 2010

Submerged in roses

That pompous title sounds as if I'm dead and about to be buried. Not quite. I'm still kicking, more than ever...

I've often evoked my longstanding and intense admiration of the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke, author of The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge… which I've recently adapted for a movie (project being currently examined by a French producer).

Roses were a refrain in the words and the life of Rilke. Towards the end of his life, he was living in Muzot, Switzerland.

Here, the great poet cultivated his roses.

Finally, a prick from the thorn of a rose poisoned the poet.

The poet himself wrote the mysterious lines that are engraved in German on his tombstone:

Rose, oh reiner Widerspruch, Lust,

Niemandes Schlaf zu sein unter soviel Lidern.

Rose, oh pure contradiction, desire,
To be no one's sleep under so many eyelids.

My friend Tineke Bot brought back this marvelous winter photo of Rilke's Muzot "castle" at Raron in the Valais canton of Switzerland:

Altering the view angle for her next photo, the artist Tineke captured the tortured soul of the poet, pricked to death by a rose thorn:

Today, at Gamone, I'm surrounded by flowers, including many roses.

The following blood-red specimen is certainly moving, in that it bears the name of Coluche [1944-1986], the great French comic who was killed in a motor-cycle accident when I was out in Australia for the America's Cup.

I have the abrupt impression that one doesn't grow roses innocently, just for fun. There's surely method in the rose-grower's madness. But there's no doubt a bit of pure madness, too. Look at this delightfully schizophrenic specimen labeled New Year. The rose bush is totally incapable of deciding what color it might adopt.

There are more familiar specimens, such as this Albertine (the treasured rose of Christine), which has had a rough time recovering from the exceptionally wet spring of Gamone:

Believe me, though, that I'm in no way obsessed by the task of identifying each rose, as if they were objects. Here, for example, is a splendid rose, in my Gamone garden, that deserves to be designated simply as "pure Rilke":

Having said this, I owe my Antipodes readers a few explanations (in fact, three), because I tend to be somewhat lazy at times.

1. The first reason why the Antipodes blog exudes an aura of drowsiness, from time to time, is that I've been devoting a huge amount of time and effort to the construction of a staircase down into my rose and peony garden. I've been imposing upon myself an information blackout concerning this staircase, which exploits an experimental construction approach! No images will be published before the completion of the project… which has been one of my major recent outdoor efforts at Gamone.

2. The second reason behind my drowsiness is that I've been devoting a lot of energy to the project of starting a legal association, to be named ROYANENSIS, to handle the publication of ancient texts concerning my adopted Royans homeland.

3. The third reason for my other-worldliness is that I've become addicted to the concept of electronic books. It's a huge subject. Basically, inspired by the arrival of the iPad, and the strong words of Steve Jobs on these questions, I've decided to focus upon this kind of software construction, at all levels (including genealogical documents).

For the moment, let's admire quietly the voluptuous roses...

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