My conversations with Friedrich Hölderlin arose unexpectedly from a first reading of his poem Andenken / Remembrance. The poem begins with memories from a visit he made at age 31 to Bordeaux, France in 1801. His memories almost immediately took me to similar memories of a year-long visit I made to Europe as a study-abroad student when I was 20. Our conversations continue through looking at the connections between our memories. Early in my European travels, in Paris, were visits to the Musée du Louvre and the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume. They were my real introduction to fine arts museums. The paintings in the Jeu de Paume made the stronger impression on me and foreshadowed lasting memories. The art on display was from the temporarily closed Musée de l’Orangerie and included many late 19th century works by the most famous impressionist and post-impressionist painters. I remember seeing works by Monet, Cezanne and Van Gogh. I had no idea the paintings looked at that day planted seeds of an immersion on the arts that would be an essential part of the rest of my life. The first specific work of art that I remember so distinctly and differently was Michelangelo’s Atlas, one of a set of unfinished sculptures I saw later that year in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. I understood intuitively that Michelangelo saw a figure inside each of those untouched pieces of marble and was working on letting them emerge from the stones. That unexpected, different experience was my first of the kind I discuss with Hölderlin in what follows. My memory of that experience is as clear to me today as was standing there in the presence of that sculpture 54 years ago.
Arts and Humanities | Creative Writing | Philosophy
Taylor , C. S. (2023). IX. Remembering Tasting Thinking: Unfinished Conversations Friedrich Hölderlin’s Andenken, Poetry Being, Anaximander Heraclitus, Rilke Heidegger. Dayton, OH: Charles Taylor.