Oct 20, 2019

Rilke's Ghost -- "Chang has to feed the hungry FaceBook beast"

We've started working on an ad campaign for our new novella, Rilke's Ghost, fashioned along the lines of our previous campaigns, adding quotes from the text to an odd picture. Here's one preliminary result:

And here's the corresponding fragment. Having fled Duino, where we stirred Rilke's ghost with a Google-translation of his poems, we now summer in Bürchen, in the Swiss Valais region, only a stone throw away from the grave of the poet: 

The village of Bürchen is wonderful, 1,600 meters up on the Alp, and so much cooler than the muggy summer-Riviera (the road up to Bürchen was finished in 1934—-the preceding thousand years the villagers were left to their own devices). There is only one problem: Rainer Maria is buried nearby, yes, Rilke, in Raron, a small, historic town right beneath Bürchen down in the valley. We’ve given Raron a wide berth so far, but Chang is playing the social networks and has to feed the hungry Facebook beast. His Korean followers can’t get enough of snow-topped mountains and geranium-studded chalets, and the 24-hour cycle dictates daily posting. We’ve ravaged the entire region already—-natives of many cultures believe that you steal their image when you take their picture—-along those lines we’ve grabbed photons until nothing seems to be left of the Valais—from the Matterhorn via the James-Bond-historic-marker up on the Furka pass to the longest glaciers and highest vineyards of Europe—-save Raron.

“Do you believe in ghosts?” Chang asks. Of course, we don’t. And it’s a sunny, wonderful day, and Rilke is interred in a vault on the southern side of the Burgkirche, which itself is built on a rock hundred meters above the floor of the valley. The views would be fantastic, and a light breeze would play with the pages of the tourist guide which tells about the local Rilke-wine and the XIIth-century town hall next to the church. A Rilke Pfad leads up there. Half-way there’s a bench. “Remember the bench?” I ask. We sit down. And now I have a really bad idea. I google for “Rilke translations,” and the first entry connects to a learned article by a certain Marjorie Perloff...


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