Essay by Thor Einar De Maria-Leichhardt
“To return back what we have lost, we must go back to the source. Connection to source often can be found deep within us, yet we can’t recognize and acknowledge it. Our position in the material world is that of a lost and tired sailor looking for the land, amidst rising waves at the sea, surrounded by the thick fog, desperately trying to spot that beacon of hope in the guise of a lighthouse.”
Excerpt from Thor Einar De Maria-Leichhardt’s forthcoming English language book ‘Lissa – Islandmarks’ (Eisenhut Verlag)
Vis Ancient Greek: Ἴσσα; Latin: Issa, Italian: Lissa) is a small Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea.
‘When I stir my morning coffee and watch the swirling of the streaks, I am observing the law that moves the universe – in the whirling of the spiral nebulae, in the eddying of the galaxies.’
Ernst Jünger (‘Aladdin’s Problem’)
Human beings travel to understand, investigate, get accustomed and meet with the other cultures. One big part in the life of the human is always dedicated to exploration and constant research. We travel, only to arrive back to our abode, full of impressions, having gone through a process of appreciating more of what we already have.
Departure is indeed a very ambivalent word. It reminds us that we leave something behind, as larvae which transform overnight into a beautiful butterfly, or perhaps a snake which sheds its skin. The departure always signifies a new beginning, new route and direction. While departing, we leave behind one part of our past; we leave it somehow preserved in time as a part of what we once were.
Leaving for a place we once used to call ‘’the home’’, although not living anymore in that place, awakens (day)dreams of the past, those sometimes embellished memories which, at the present time, may appear as certain mythological stories from ancient times. Finding yourself at that particular time and place in the past doesn’t necessarily have to be a nostalgic or sentimental trip, quite the opposite – something akin to a shelter, which gives us an element of faith, such as one to save us from earthly dread and dismay.
My own intention is to reach out with writing, to touch the spirit. Perhaps similar to ways in which the artists from ancient Greece, created from different natural materials, what they experienced with their perception and senses, achieving what is only in the domain of the divine. To come in touch with the divine, with respect, yet not making a cheap imitation, or trying to merge with the divine, but to participate and help in creating an indelible sense of majestic and sublime beauty-what a conquest.
While writing, in due time over the years, the writer not only discovers, but develops a deep relationship with language, its intricacies and expression; simultaneously forging a unique style and beauty, weaving it altogether in a story. The writer paints with words, as an artist would with the brush. Perhaps to unlock its beauty, the writer should relate to language, as the embodiment of the actual person, as the muse. Language doesn’t have gender or political affiliation, doesn’t belong to any worldly classifications. Thus language belongs to the Universe’s starlit skies, to the realm of the Gods, where each star represents a unique letter, with a particular meaning and character.
Similarly, I take a look at some of my previous writings. I have consistently tried to write something what would stand the test of time, using the medium of writing as the way of travelling in the circular motion, rather than to simply be a writer of chronicles in the static, linear time, as my own understanding of time differs from the usual, ingrained perception of it.
Our mind is often very selective and has a habit of choosing mostly those good memories which in turn make us feel better about our own past. Memory suddenly becomes embellished with events which awake certain emotions inside us, those which yearn for the past. The past embedded as a tranquil solace, a refuge in happiness or perhaps neither?
It may be that this is where faith springs from. That exact kind of faith which saves us from the fear of existence. Faith which could be compared to those radiating lights positioned at the top of the lighthouse, penetrating through fog and the mist, paving the way through the darkness at sea, for sailors who are desperately trying to find their way back to land. We love the sea and oceans, yet it is the land which makes us feel safe.
We carry those memories which quite possibly may belong to our ancestors, concealed deep inside ourselves – their fears, their love stories, their tragedies and tears, happiness, laugh and friendships. These memories are an integral part and parcel of what we are as the human beings, in other words – they make the fabric of our inner being. Personally the memories which certainly have left an indelible mark on me ,are those that arise yet once again, when I start reading my past articles. There is a certain sense of patina, like an invisible layer of dust, infused with the scent of pipe tobacco and rounded with the scent of an aged single barrel of malt whisky.
Perhaps it is only an illusion, embodied in the passing of linear time, appearing only in our imagination, since we have created it ourselves. We have put boundaries on time, artificial ones at that, which limit what we do. When humanity encountered the industrial age, everything changed, and even more so, with the age of technology. Hugo Fischer wrote: ’’Our age is one bereft of heroes’’. Indeed they are not needed, as we have now in their place, gadgets.
Perhaps that proves at the present time, we are unable to relate, or even comprehend anything simple, that is connected to our ancestor’s traditions. But we can understand certain complex matters and issues in the fields of science and the technology. The fact is that with progress, we have become estranged and remote, not only from ourselves, but others around us, including nature.
Art and literature are gifts and an ability to express our admiration for timeless aesthetics and beauty. As civilizations disappear, that gift gradually fades, along with abilities and traditions, untransmitted, leaving only an empty baron shell. What we perceive as continuation and progress becomes nothing but a mirage, making us feel important, yet leaving future generations vulnerable to invisible traps we have left behind.
The island of Vis, my ancestral home is a comfort to me as the lone wanderer in search of his roots, hoping to dig them out among the ruins of the past. Walking through a world that is falling, I do not want, and cannot pay any more heed, to everything that happens in the world. No longer am I able to conceive and understand how a person thinks today. I wonder if it’s because I have spent more than a decade of my life as a monk or is it because I have lost touch with this age.
I may exist in some sort of ravine, isolated in time, belonging to classical Greece. I try not to read the news; I rather watch birds, and prefer listening to hum of the waves, entering among the rocks and pebbles. People have forgotten to enjoy nature. Looking at the world and nature around us, the ancient Greek philosophers could understand the significance of the relationship between living beings and our universe. Irrecoverably we have lost our simplicity of life and with it the memory of our past.
To return back what we have lost, we must go back to the source. Connection to source often can be found deep within us, yet we can’t recognize and acknowledge it. Our position in the material world is that of a lost and tired sailor looking for the land, amidst rising waves at the sea, surrounded by the thick fog, desperately trying to spot that beacon of hope in the guise of a lighthouse.
Thor Einar De Maria-Leichhardt is a British writer of German and Southern Italian origin born in Croatia. Among his close and distant relatives are Art Nouveau artist Ettore De Maria – Bergler and explorer Ludwig Leichhardt. He strives to preserve the Meditteranean thought (‘’Il pensiero meridiano’’) which was once in the past described by the author Albert Camus. Mediterranean thought comes down in a lineage of ancient Greek philosophers to Neoplatonists up to our postmodernity.
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