on the seeress of prevorst (die seherin von prevorst)


The train leading there by early morning is a movement through as many stations, changes, terrains, as it is of trailing voices, joining, mingling, and departing in landscape flows, persisting even in all-but-empty carriages as patterns and numbers, of times and kinds, ever animating the mechanic silence.

Last year, or sometime in the 70s, in Germany, Moscow, or elsewhere.


In 1826 it is recorded that 25 year old Friederike Hauffe arrived at the house of Justinus Kerner, in Weinsberg, named “Vineyard” after its renowned produce, though perhaps more tellingly translated literally after the ancient vines skirting, in steep radiating lines, the castle fort, from where, on December 20 1140, the women of the beseiged and defeated city, granted mercy by the victorious King Konrad III and allowed what they could load on their backs, carried their men, the defeated army, down, like blocks upon their shoulders, between the steep paths lined by the sturdy vine trunks which have come to resemble them, them after which the castle of Loyal Women became forever known, it so appearing that the ruin of today were the defeated castle of then.


You may now walk among the fragments of the ruins, steps, towers, walls, ramps, whatever stones, grains of the remaining men the weather has not yet carried down, and read names there etched between the patterns of mortar, names more recent than Konrad and the Loyal Women, including that of Justinus Kerner himself, accompanied by poetry which speaks of poetry itself being the deep aches issued in curses, songs condemning or of the condemned, issuring from only hearts through which deep agony courses, though the corrosions of winds nad frosts have rendered these words smoother, approaching a limit of unreadability.

It was out of a frosted window of the Kernerhaus that the legend of the Loyal Women was related, affixed to the gothic scene visible beyond, always in blue-tinged twilight imbalanced by the lamplight on the sills, parquet floor, or upturned flies found mute and scattered at the end of another telling, the lifecycle of yet another day like a field of closed flowers. Dr. Bernd, who refused to lead me into this top room, as though even now by late afternoon it were pierced by an unbearable glare and heat from the windows on all sides, stood somewhere beneath the stairwell until he was satisfied that I was safely up out of view; at any rate, his eyes, fixed on me, left me as I neared the top steps, before he quite literally slipped out of view, into the masks of the steps, in as many solitary breaths, only to materialise in the spaces between, once again as I stepped back down. It is impossible to say whether he had ever been up to that top room, for, besides a cursory remark about someone r other he never mentioned exactly or I never wrote down, who had worked up there in the light and aspect of that room, he seemed to have little interest in what lay outside of this habitat, or parts of the house such as this, that seem to sit on thresholds involving the outside, and instead he could never be found by the window, but somewhere in a corridor, corner, or one or other of the inner rooms, once a kitchen perhaps, or store, now used as an office, as though the boundaries of the house were ever expanding inwardly, and he, the sole fly trapped and still alive, were sustained by an unending inward escape.

Certainly he had never cleared the generations of flies from the floor nor knew where they were daily issuing from, what they had seen, how long the endemic cycles of their lives had ridden unmoved by the world. Yet the house seemed to exist in a constant night, the windows throughout the house themselves speaking of times when they had come at great expense, and, hand-blown, seemed to contain carbon flecks or else be somehow composed of threads of darkness the now frozen liquid had once turned in, for want of clothing itself.

Yet while this telling came later, by the low light of afternoon, the legend of the Loyal Women so permeated my previous visit to the relic that a circuit of time was coiled in space, among the suspended trails of the falled flies, that simply having read the names etched into the castle remains seems to have been accompanied by a sense of their list, in as many blocks, forming a terrible song of the motherless, daughterless, wifeless men as an announcement of those condemned to remain, the naming of the body of the ruins itself; and that the descent away, taken among the vine rows as they now stand, seems to have been accompanied by those double weighted footseps of a heart, carrying, so as to pull through, another heart.


Through seasonal harvests, the vines have to all appearances retained their ancient size, in suspended witness of history, throughout their wellings of earth. It is they alone who string together the bared strata of the mount, and who mau posses tellings of Weinsberg, in colours as versions according to distances, colours each of a marked gradation. Another poem written up there, it unclear whether it were abandones or later carried up, speaks of a Melancholia from walls, ringing with the tone of winds, as if for Grief Nature had itself an Asylum here built up.


The corresponding structure of the chruch, houses, and walls about, built on the tops of the lower hills of Weinsberg, bear testimony to their construction by the blocks rescued by the Loyal Women, of the stones carried down, as weathered grains settle, collect. Two houses stand on the top of the main street leading up from the train station, opposite each other, with facing entryways, gates, and steps in such parallel that it is questionable which is photographed, which, amid the confusions and destruction by the widespread fires of April 12, 1945, was the former residence of Justinus Kerner, to which Friederike Hauffe had arrived some 119 years earlier. Among what Kerner has written, and so preserved of the strange girl and her inner language, are som indications of the interplay of numbers and words between utterance and thought, along a boundary of half-awakedness in which she would be thrown against her will into a somnambulistic state in dialogue with spirits against her will by this very language, a language constantly in an interplay of encoding and self-translation that enabled her to speak not from her head, but of the inner life from the depths of the heart. Though it was entirely logical and eventually gradually learned by all in her company, since this language released by inner impulses was not codified by Kerner, it is unclear exactly what this 119 number of years spelled.

Seherin2  Seherin1

It seems that only later it became known that from 1825 Friederike had displayed symptoms described as of a demons and minds obsession, perceiving voices, light phenomena, and the ability to forecast later-arriving events. The language she came to speak in and think with, was of mute sensation, a kind of bird song that Kerner later described as sonorous thought it possessed only the audible cluttering of utterances, a quality inseparable from the fact that she would go about in drapery drawn up over her body and neck, covering even her forehead if not her rolled-back eyes in a plume as of the blinded or sleep walking, so that just as her language might be called song, like the face of a bird’s beak, her face could only be said to be that mouth alone with its own eyes and seeing, indeed the rest of it spreading inexpressively if uncovered, like the hooded collar of a neck.

Already long diminished beyond the limits of memory is the albeit short path taken by this daughter of a forester from the city of Prevorst to Weinsberg, which may bot have itself have ever entered into her own consciusness, except as a figure of numerical steps along a then perceived boundary of shadow lines. It ever appears that those edges of paths and outlines were painted in blurred strokes, yet which nevertheless bore within them discernible concentrations one might follow, or else cluster, recognise, go by. So it appeared to Friederike, following lines in a constant arrival drawing onward, lines the mind is illiterate to retrace backwards or un-recognise. And as such, she also appeared to Kerner, a kind of liminal light on a threshold, lighting inside and out, a contour of gradation failing to distinguish the figure radiated from the negative contained. Speaking on this, indicating those of Friederike among the portraits on the walls, Dr. Bernd is himself a spectacled blur at turns disappearing into the shadow of the wall or else entirely from view into the very thing he has drawn attention to in some nook of a cabinet, periphery of a room, corner of a window, along a network of confounded passages enclosed within the dimly lit interior and weaving outwards into the twilight; and he here gleefully points out among Kerner’s personal items, the thick horn-rimmed Thunderstorm spectacles worn in fear of striking bolts, but all of which Kerner refused to wear when being painted, photographer, or in the company of others, preferring instead to work with nose to the paper out of vanity, and so with this feeling associated with an inner, uncorrected clarity, unaided by spectacles, Friederike became acquainted with Kerner as some actual form of apparition, outside of the borders of lenses, known only in as many of their takings-off.


Further questions as to Kerner’s study of the writings of Mesmer, his construction of alchemical contraptions including elements such as water, spices, deer leather, coffin nails, designed within the realm of science yet bearing names such as The Nerve Tuner, proved themselves to be questions unable to be formulated, made understood to Dr. Bernd, and so yielded little further insight into Kerner of the Seeress, the meanings of her faint notations marked n the backs of envelopes in the original writing of mankind, her seven sun circles, or the uncanny coincidence of her with Kerner’s recorded keeping of a pet stork that had similarly arrived, if not wandered in in identical splayed footprints, for which all depictions of her have her barefoot and levitating on toetips, a simultaneity also admitting the stock’s lack of syrinx muscles, rendering it mute except for clutterings delivered in voices half-aslweep, and its own lifespan, corresponding exactly with that of Friederike, who, nearing 28 years of age, passed away on 25th August 1929, so that Kerner could confirm them as one and the same white-clad omen, and death the return of nature to nature.


Beyond this, Dr. Bernd would take my pen and book to write Friederike‘s maiden and married names, in an antiquated Gothic script only legible by the number and pattern of downstrokes; the first, Friederike Wanner, referring to one who draws well-water from a sump, a separator who fans away impurities from fathering, one ever associated with a vessel, a collector; the second, Friederike Hauffe, denoting a mass, a fill; and so by the code of the edge of his own pen nib, Dr. Bernd conveyed something of the fleeting possession of Friederike, the incarnation of her inner life in the soul of a stork, and her carriage, as if by such flight, into the other world where souls rule, and from which souls the bodies of men are then formed outwardly.


It is unclear when Kerner first mentioned the stork, began writing about the guest from Prevorst, who had arrived from that small clearing in a forest that spread, certainly then uninterrupted, between; but it was in the year of the publication of his memoir The Seeress of Prevorst, revelations of the human inner life and about the penetrations of the spirit world into ours that she deceased, her blur moving beyond its perceivable limit, and into an intermediate sleep in nearby Lionstone, where a stone now bearing her own name stands, having been carried down. of his own sleep it is gleefully recounted that, at a time when people commonly rested in a sitting position in what appear to be the shirt-legged beds of children, fearing the coming of death to those who might tempt it by lying to sleep, Kerner would instead lie in a coffin procured by the gravedigger of Weinsberg he took in as his coachman, itself in a room whose vaulted ceiling resembles the inside of a coffin’s closed-lid, explaining, in a strange humour hardly comedic even for the morbidity of it, that now he would have his coffin fitted; conscious, if convinced otherwise, that he were seen to be lying to sleep on that threshold of the inner and outer life, tempting the return to nature.


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