Abbreviated article from KOSMOS, January 1923, pp. 4 ff. (prepublication of DAS LEBEN DES MENSCHEN II)
“We want to jump from the boat, swim to one of the shores and run away, we want to escape plunging into the depths of Charybdis by climbing into the branches of a fig tree like Odysseus – but it’s too late. Already opening up before us like a lagoon is the opening of the vein, from beyond it a sister stream comes towards us with a terrible surge, the streams unite, and then a waterfall of indescribable force drags us all down sharply in a great plunge into the darkness. How might we describe this to a man? Imagine the descent of the damned into Hell, as painted by Rubens, a gruesome tumble of bodies into a never-ending chasm in space [...].
Then we saw the heart below us, with every draught sucking in the swarms of barques, closing like a Charybdian whale’s mouth and then opening again in a horrible manner, and now we ourselves were at the brink – we lost our senses [...].
I do not know how long we were unconscious. By a man’s standards it may have lasted only for a few seconds or only a fragment of a second. Upon waking up, we see ourselves trapped like the hero of the Arabian tale in a magic cave whose details we can only make out dimly in the gloom. As in dripstone caves, stalagmites rise from the floor in mighty pillars to the ceiling and support the summit of the vault with outspread branches. The walls are composed of hundreds of pillars crammed tightly together, delicately decorated and twined with dark red veins and bright white stars to great effect. Individual pillars, particularly strong ones, stand freely in the space and are connected by strong cables, which spread out like the branches of a tree, to the ceiling of the space which soars as a high dome above the walls. The walls themselves are interrupted by numerous niches, among the galleries of which water trickles down as in dripstone caves. The dome that crowns the whole appears larger to the cellular senses than St Peter’s in Rome to the pilgrims who, at the end of their journey, gaze up in rapture at Michelangelo’s depiction of the heavens. But the supreme enchantment of the space is that everything about it and in it is alive. The walls tremble, the pillars twitch, the cables that support the central pillar vibrate through the space, the dome pulsates, and the arches of its roof flap like flags stirred in waves by the wind…” (p. 433)
FRITZ KAHN. INFOGRAPHICS PIONEER
hardcover - 526 pp.