The Spirit of Prague

Ivan Klíma wrote the following in The Spirit of Prague – For me, the material and spiritual centre of this city is an almost 700-year-old stone bridge connecting the west with the east. The Charles Bridge is an emblem of the city's situation in Europe, the two halves of which have been seeking each other out at the very least since the bridge's foundations were laid. The West and the East.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Let the Prague Posts Begin!

Should I feel bad? I kicked the dog off his blog; it was easier to just rename this one than create another one. Besides, I ditched the dog at home and came to Prague for 2+ months. Two months without the dog (and that other little man) will be hard... but it's Prague. And it's an opportunity. An experience. A once in a lifetime chance to teach and live, for a blink of time, inside a completely foreign history.

A word about the city. There is an incredible volume of great literature written about, or created in, this city. I, in no way, will pretend to add to this or claim a part of it. Yet the names that linger here...Kafka, Kundera, Klima, Rilke, Brod, Hašek, Havel, and then in music, Dvořák, Smetana, even Mozart debuted work here. And these are just names people completely unfamiliar with this city might know. These names are raised by the wind off the Vltava River, and race through you. Their work certainly lives on in this city; it's everywhere.

This city that bridges more than just a river, but links history together; this crossroads between cultures; this city often occupied and living under foreign rule has given birth to art that lasts in all forms. And couldn't that be a definition for art? An expression that carries forward through time, without the burden of decade or century? An expression that leaps forward with the years, and yet stays relevant? So far in my life, I have achieved nothing of this magnitude. Yet, here I step through these same streets (also, through the mire of drunken tourists) and want to touch, to feel, to be slightly grazed even, by this bigger notion. I will reach for it. Or more likely, I will wait for it... and soon, I will be staying just outside that tourist zone, where perhaps, my moment in Prague waits for me.

Is it any wonder I want to focus on the concept of 'place' in the writing workshop I will teach here? This place, the city with many nicknames (Mother of Cities, City of a Hundred Spires, The Golden City), it will take hold in ways I don't understand on only my second full day and night here.

The story of this place is much longer, and more complicated, than a born and raised Seattle kid can ingest into his core. I cannot feign ownership. Still, I take my sneakers and walk on cobblestones, cross bridges, wind my way down narrow lanes, climb hills to castles, and perhaps, step through some narrow curtain, and into that history for a moment.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.