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Adalbert is a forum for me, to post ephemera, photography, poetry, occasional travel notes, and various spontaneous motions. Cover photo: Parsonage where my great-grandfather spent his early years. Taken near Liegnitz, Silesia, ca. 1870. The "xothique" portion of the web address is a nod to Clark Ashton Smith's fictional continent of Zothique.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Hamm-Charleville Special: Toward the Adalbert Falk Denkmal

Here follow a few impressions (interspersed with a few cut-ups, partly taken from a translation of a poem by Rimbaud) of my trip to Hamm, Germany, September 16-18, 2018. The digital collage above combines a few images from the occasion, including one of me (on September 17) standing by the memorial to my ancestor, Adalbert Falk.


The Hamm-Charleville Special: To the Adalbert Falk Denkmal


I had appeared, standing by the Adalbert Falk monument, in Hamm, Rhine-Westphalia, Germany; in what was formerly west Prussia. Adumbration of the return of Charles Dexter Ward or Osiris, a rigorous journey spanning several generations. He was a tough guy, beard neat, per archive photos. Verdigris hand tucked Napoleon-style in coat, on the shadowed pedestal. There it was, in the abyss of time. His house is no longer present; cool tiles of the courthouse, his portrait stern in the supreme court building. I retrieved from the stack a letter from my late uncle, Roderick Falk, mailed to the City of Hamm offices in the late 1970s; as in the denouement of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Out of Time, it was like finding a letter in my own writing, or at least the writing of someone I knew; a shock to expectations. It was 1/365th of a solar year, a deceptive percentage, outsized in recollection, somewhere in time’s arrow. I quickly emerged from the yellow-brown 70s GDR-feeling sport coat I had bought from a flea market vendor in canal-threaded Amsterdam,  the shadow of the statue and its plaque soaring from a period anterior to the Cold War, before World Wars One and Two (though the conflict which would have most imperiled the monument, would have been WWII; with its air campaign). I knew someone who visited Hamm first, and send me some resultant photographs.

 

Your mystery lies: Black A, in the abyss's bowels; been WWII; with its air campaign. Black A, white E, blue O: you vowels. Someday I'll tell the tale of where of time anterior to the Cold War, to World Wars One and Two (though the conflict which would have most imperiled the monument, would have been the sport coat I had bought from a flea market vendor in canal-threaded Amsterdam, a jacket formed of hairy, shiny flies, the shadow of the statue and its plaque soaring from depths); it was 1/365th of a solar year, a deceptive percentage, red I, green U outsized in recollection, that buzz among harsh stinks, somewhere in time’s arrow. I quickly emerged from the yellow-brown GDR-feeling.


My hosts and I visited the graves of old Adalbert and his family, a humid west Prussian September sun scorching my closely-shaved pate; and they lowered a floral arrangement on the gravesite; the iron fence which once penned in the gravestones was non-extant – scrap metal for the Third Reich? “He secularized the schools – this was very important.” Maps shewing borders morphing, west Prussia intense as cobblestones, archives and priest’s alcoves in the Hindu temple, the glass elephant by sight from a rooftop. Kulturkampf gloaming. Fantastic carnival moves in the heat beneath St. Paulus Cathedral, the ring of the old city. Lengthy ride from Duesseldorf. 

 

With some slight temporal remove, the evening and day I hung out in Hamm, Germany,  have a phantasmal texture, like a sequence from a Werner Herzog film; This is all most extraordinary. Most extraordinary!  To off it all top, I sojourned at the Hotel Herzog itself, when there.

 

Meanwhile, troop needs during the Franco-Prussian War delayed my great-grandfather’s train, on the plains of east Prussia…  

 

 By Jonathan Falk

January 2019

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