“The Other Magic Mountain” is a photograph series, inspired by Thomas Mann’s renowned novel, “Der Zauberberg”. The featured photographs were taken at the old sanatorium of Saint Eleousa, which was the main institution for the in-hospital care of patients with tuberculosis in the Dodecanese from 1947 to 1970. Today, the premises are sadly in a state of disrepair.
Tatiana Denisova, a good friend of mine and Professor of Philosophy at the Surgut State University, Russia, was invited to be involved in this project by writing her philosophical impressions about the photographs. I am grateful for her friendship and words of wisdom.
"Everyone knows the strange bitter charm of old neglected deserted buildings, which have lost their previous purpose. What makes them so attractive? Maybe their uselessness. The absence of their pragmatic value helps us find their true souls, their “whatness”, their essence, “das Ding an Sich” of Immanuel Kant, “die Dingheit des Dinges” of Martin Heidegger… or in short: what they are in themselves.
Like a crazy designer, time breaks things, which were created by the efforts of human thought and work, and constructs its own things with another logic, another aesthetic, another order. Time can bind and tear up, it conceals and makes something obvious, it gives birth to things and carries them away forever.
A man creates things, equips his place and grows roots in space, uses them and interprets them. And one day he leaves this place. But the place left by its owner continues to live on with its own life, which is unknown to us. It keeps a memory of the human, while the human keeps a memory of the place in the depth of his mind. Wherever you go, you aren’t able to abandon it forever. It can’t be better said than the great Angelus Silesius:
Der Ort ist selbst in dir.
Nicht du bist in dem Ort, der Ort, der ist in dir!
Wirfst du ihn aus, so steht die Ewigkeit schon hier.
Stairs….This universal symbol of the way seems to be as old as the hills – step by step, up or down, to heaven or to hell. It’s a magic synthesis of dynamics and statics, movement and stopping, in vertical and horizontal directions, ascending and descending, unity and division of the path. You believe you go along the stairs but, in fact, the stairs call you, lead you, make you go, direct your movement.
“πάντα ρεί”, - Heraclitus said 25 centuries ago, and the famous metaphor of the time as a flowing stream seemed to be universal for all this time. But if by chance you find yourself in a deserted house, somewhere at the back of your mind you begin to doubt the truth of these words. Any neglected building is a place where time, no, different times stopped and stayed forever. An old building is a place where space finds an ability to gather and keep all times and joins them with eternity."
© Anna Wacker Photography