Copyright by New Territories Bkk
copyright by New-Territories Bkk
Critical Apparatuses I by Bart Lootsma
Something makes people want to walk, ride or climb to mountaintops, how dangerous an undertaking this may be because of conditions of terrain and weather. It is something completely irrational. Some have themselves brought to the tops of mountains with trains, cable cars and even helicopters. It is often thought that this is to appreciate a sublime, untameable nature, since it has been already the theme of many a sublime Romantic painting or poem. But in fact most Alpine mountain tops are as artificial as a Dutch polder, not just with the cross on top of it, but with mines dug underneath, avalanche protection, restaurants, hotels, ski slopes, ski lifts, half pipes for snowboarders, artificial lakes to produce artificial snow, a view on the urbanized valley below, and in summer cows not for the production of milk and meat but for maintenance. All of this is realized only to enable people dressed in special clothes, helmets and harnesses, to throw themselves down again literally as soon as they have arrived on top, using sleighs, ski, snowboards or specially designed, and high-tech so-called freeride mountain bikes. They hardly have a choice. It has to go fast. Even the sky is filled with gliders and para gliders, enjoying the turbulence along the slopes.
An aspect of danger, and at least a flirt with a latent death wish should be involved to feel alive, as a faint memory of older myths. “Everywhere it is machines – real ones, not figurative ones: machines driving other machines, machines being driven by other machines, with all the necessary couplings and connections.” Deleuze and Guattari write, and between the different machines there are just couplings and passages, “functioning smoothly at times, at other times it fits and starts”. 1) The Alps are one big Bachelor Machine, a perpetual carrousel that turns the love for nature into a death mechanism. Innsbruck, the city where I live, is one of the innovation centres of Alpine sports. . The ‘shadows’ of Bruno Taut and his Alpine Architecture are haunting the stations for the funicular railway up to the Hungerburg as glass memories of the shapes that remain after an ice storm. From the Hungerburg a cable car takes people further up to the North Park with the Seegrube and the Hafelekar, just left of which we find a mountain peak called Frau Hitt. According to different sagas, Frau Hitt once was a woman, a giant queen. About why she turned to stone the stories differ but the best-known version tells that she was so stingy, that when a beggar asked for some food, she gave him a stone instead. So the beggar cursed her, turned Frau Hitt and her horse in stone and left her in the place where we can still find her today. In winter she is dressed in snow; in spring she unveils herself to become the unreachable piece of stone she is in summer, alternatingly attracting and repelling us. All in all, we can see the landscape of the Nordkette in Innsbruck as a complex ecosystem, which is defined by man and nature in equal parts. It includes the social, the economical and even the incorporeal and invisible systems of language: myths, sagas and fairy tales. It is no different with the landscape of La Diavolezza, a mountain and skiing area near Pontresina in the Swiss Alps, named after a beautiful fairy-queen who allegedly seduced young huntsmen who saw her bathing in Lej Nair, a frozen lake at the summit of the Bernina Pass. The huntsmen who followed her disappeared mysteriously and somehow one must expect they were frozen to death. Freezing to death is a known method for suicide, described among others in Jack London’s To Build a Fire: “… Well, he was bound to freeze anyway, and he might as well take it decently. With this new-found peace of mind came the first glimmerings of drowsiness. A good idea, he thought, to sleep off to death. It was like taking an anaesthetic. Freezing was not so bad as people thought. There were lots worse ways to die. . . . Then the man drowsed off into what seemed to him the most comfortable and satisfying sleep he had ever known.
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