Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bergwerk: Metal Mining

"Great is the power of memory, a fearful thing, O my God, a deep and boundless manifoldness; and this thing is the mind, and this am I myself. What am I then, O my God? What nature am I? A life various and manifold, and exceeding immense. Behold in the plains, and caves, and caverns of my memory, innumerable and innumerably full of innumerable kinds of things, either through images, as all bodies; or by actual presence, as the arts; or by certain notions or impressions, as the affections of the mind, which, even when the mind doth not feel, the memory retaineth, while yet whatsoever is in the memory is also in the mind- over all these do I run, I fly; I dive on this side and on that, as far as I can, and there is no end." (Augustine, Confessions, 10.17)

"For descend as low as we may, even to the reputed regions of Tartarus and Pluto, we never find the course of our passage any one thing absolutely similar to another. We are always meeting something new, something different; and every new and different substance is only an indication of some different change. Look at the vegetable kingdom; how varied! how pleasing! how delightful! because of this variety! And why so varied, but in consequence of the variety prevailing in the mineral kingdom, which contains its origin, root, and essence?" (Emmanuel Swedenborg; on Swedenborg and mining, see Lars Bergquist, Swedenborg's Secret, 113ff.)

"Behold,  wonderful thing! I glide down from the upper world in a bucket, / thus hanging, I am brought all the way to the dark shadows of death. / But, as I moved to and fro hanging in the middle of the air, / it was pleasant for me to sing holy hymns" (Swedenborg, Ludus Heliconus).  

"He sat down on the bench beside Elis, and began to describe the various processes minutely, placing all the details before him in the clearest and brightest colours. He talked of the Mines of Falun, in which he said he had worked since he was a boy; he described the great main-shaft, with its dark brown sides; he told how incalculably rich the mine was in gems of the finest water. More and more vivid grew his words, more and more glowing his face. He went, in his description, through the different shafts as if they had been the alleys of some enchanted garden. The jewels came to life, the fossils began to move; the wondrous Pyrosmalite and the Almandine flashed in the light of the miner's candles; the Rock-Crystals glittered, and darted their rays. Elis listened intently. The old man's strange way of speaking of all these subterranean marvels as if he were standing in the midst of them, impressed him deeply. His breast felt stifled; it seemed to him as if he were already down in these depths with the old man, and would never more look upon the friendly light of day. And yet it seemed as though the old man were opening to him a new and unknown world, to which he really properly belonged, and that he had somehow felt all the magic of that world, in mystic forebodings, since his boyhood. 'Elis Froebom,' said the old man at length, 'I have laid before you all the glories of a calling for which Nature really destined you. Think the subject well over with yourself, and then act as your better judgment counsels you."' (E.T.A. Hoffman, The Mines of Falun).


Der ist der Herr der Erde,
wer ihre Tiefe mißt
und jeglicher Beschwerde
in ihrem Schoß vergißt.

Wer ihrer Felsenglieder
geheimen Bau versteht
und unverdrossen nieder
zu ihrer Werkstatt geht.

Er ist mit ihr verbündet
und inniglich vertraut
und wird von ihr entzündet,
als wär' sie seine Braut.

Er sieht ihr alle Tage
mit neuer Liebe zu
und scheut nicht Fleiß noch Plage;
sie läßt ihm keine Ruh'.

Die mächtigen Geschichten
der längstverfloss'nen Zeit
ist sie ihm zu berichten
mit Freundlichkeit bereit.

Der Vorwelt heil'ge Lüfte
umwehn sein Angesicht,
und in die Nacht der Klüfte
strahlt ihm ein ew'ges Licht.

Er trifft auf allen Wegen
ein wohlbekanntes Land,
und gern kommt sie entgegen
den Werken seiner Hand.

Ihm folgen die Gewässer
hilfreich den Berg hinauf,
und alle Felsenschlösser
tun ihre Schätze' ihm auf.

Er führt des Goldes Ströme
in seines Königs Haus
und schmückt die Diademe
mit edlen Steinen aus.

Zwar reicht er treu dem König
den glückbegabten Arm,
doch frägt er nach ihm wenig
und bleibt mit Freuden arm.

Sie mögen sich erwürgen
am Fluß um Gut und Geld;
er bleibt auf den Gebirgen
der frohe Herr der Welt.

-- Novalis

[translation here]

What is outer is what is inner, raised to the level of a secret -- Perhaps also vice versa. (Novalis)

Georgious Agricola, De re metallica

Minas Morgul

further reading: Mareike Henrich, Im Bergwerk der Seele. Das Bergwerkmotiv in Novalis'Heinrich von Ofterdingen' und E.T.A. Hoffmanns'Die Bergwerke zu Falun' (2003); Noah Herigman, Romantic Rocks, Aesthetic Geology (2004); Catherine E. Rigby, Topographies Of The Sacred: The Poetics Of Place In European Romanticism (2004), 104ff.

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