The English translation of the German word Heimat is something like “home” but this word lacks some of the nuance that heimat includes, which some suggest is untranslateable. I have thought about the nature of “a sense of complete belonging” after watching the first episode of the German television series about the passing of the 20th century in a region of western Germany.
The 7 disk collection of this series was the first purchase that I successfully recommended to the local public library. Heimat is placed in the top 100 films of the 20th century and is cited as important for the use of anthropological methods to demonstrate the underlying tensions and denial both before and after WWII that allowed Nazism to flourish in rural communities.
I admit that it is a bit obscure, and I also admit that I haven’t managed to watch more than the first episode up until now. Fortunately, the 100 Day Challenge is the perfect time to complete important artistic tasks like this.
After watching the first episode “Voices from Far Away Places” again, I was firstly happy to realize that since my first attempt, I have actually visited the region of Germany where the film was made. I was startled to recognize the base of the statue of Kaiser Wilhelm that stands after the juncture of the Rhine and the Mosul. I have a friend who lived in Koblenz at the time of my visit to Bonn for a conference. He and his husband took myself and my aunt up to the BUGA (the national garden show) being held in the Napoleonic era fortress in the Rhine that you can see in the background while the characters Paul and Appolonia are meeting by chance. It is such fun to recognize a place in a film when you are not looking for anything. It also made me think of our visit to his brother’s beirgarten in the nearby village of Ley, where we drank the Riesling vinted by his family and ate the sausage attributed to the village. Apparently every town in the region has its own sausage recipe.
The second, more contemplative, issue I considered after the first episode is the portentous weaving of technology into the somewhat idealized life of the farm community. In grappling with the role that the Internet plays in making or breaking a sense of comfort or security at “home”, here are characters stringing up the radio antenna and listening to broadcasts from far away Austria.
I gave up many of my podcasts in this attempt to find an equilibrium in my life and reduce the unhappy effect of rumor and speculation. However, weaning myself from the habit of listening to books or the radio, a habit from childhood, is more than I can attempt. How happy I was to discover several weeks ago that the BBC radio app has improved a lot. I have been enjoying my own “voices from far away places” in the form of radio plays, comedy and quiz shows and book readings. This morning the fourth episode of a radio play based on the first Cadfeal book has been keeping me company.
I will write about radio another day. In the meantime, here is the pattern of the day, a colorway of the pennywort pattern I designed after the first Mermaid Festival here in San Marcos last fall.