Kalba Range (Kazakhstan) Nikitinka - north of the village (map)
Sunday, 5 July 2015
At my feet an ant, barely a centimetre long, dances nervously on a dead locust, obviously greedy to taste its flesh and, equally apparently, not able to move an animal definitely 100 times its size or to crack its shell. Now and then the wings of the locust flutter as if it is, while dying, dreaming of flying, although its transparent tissue appears to be crushed and its membranes are stuck together. To my eyes, the ant seems to be the same size as the black-winged dragonfly, whose wings are now shimmering in turquoise-blue, dancing around a branch of thyme a couple of arm-lengths away – and its delicate body has the dimensions, as it were, of the Muslim prayer hall standing about a thousand metres away, resembling a navel emerging out of the belly of a soft valley.
The vast, generally unpopulated landscape in east Kazakhstan allows me to experience on a daily basis how my view formulates narratives – not only by evaluating what it perceives but also through inventing perspectives, constructing visual axes, changing proportions, and dramatising movements. My naked eye can barely make out the rider next to the small-scale architecture – and yet, he is definitely the master of the green notes that flow this way and that. And the horses, cows or sheep on the slope stretching out to the horizon are no more than ideas, assertions of my classifying reason.
That I cannot grasp the meaning of this landscape is, as a remark, banal. Depending on what one means by recognising even false. What interest me much more is the question of whether I can establish a consistent relationship between my language and this landscape. The narration seems to be the only possibility to attempt a form of relationship; one can also understand it as a kind of movement of one’s spirit in this topography. Yet, hardly is the narration completed and the landscape is mysteriously gone. As if the language has sucked the juice out of it. Perhaps it flares up that, essentially, I – despite a thousand years of the civilising process, of which I consider I am the expression – continue to have an animalistic relationship to the world. That means that I see no further connection, really; I see the earth not as a paramount entity, but primarily as an environment that serves my needs, that I feed on – even if it be only by means of my language.
The ant now has company. A dozen of its colleagues are scrabbling over the body of the locust which, under their tearing and biting, seems to quiver in the throes of death. Then, at last a thigh breaks off – and my ant drags it efficiently through the grass, rapidly growing smaller, and ultimately disappears behind a little stone.
First Publication: 28-7-2015