We are contemplating what has not been seen by the human eye!
That delicious, sensational experience when first feasting your eyes on which,
from the creation of the world,
had always remained a mystery,
and always forbidden to the human view.
This photograph is of Gunther Plüschow and his son taken in January 1931, the year of his final flight over Tierra del Fuego.
wir werden gutes Wetter dort haben/
we will have good weather there
Plüschow died in that flight, in Lago Argentina, as did his assistant, Ernest Dreblow. While Plüschow’s parachute failed him, Dreblow survived the plane crash only to die from exposure.
as the body dies/what is left of the heart/burns white
Plüschow was a modern explorer at the tail-end of exploration–with those modern tools, the ability to take to the air and to record images. In particular, with respect to photography, he was like Peter Hesselbach who wandered the other end of the world (click here) at nearly the same time.
over ancient fields
Though Hesselbach died under different circumstances.
the slope and the rise
of the mainland
While Plüschow, like other explorers, recorded his voyage textually in several books, the importance of recording his explorations visually for others to see is made manifest by the fact that there was a darkroom installed on his ship, the Feuerland. Therefore, even now we have to some fascimile of what Plüschow actually saw (in so far as that is what photographs record); indeed, in Shearwater’s Dossier are photos of Plüschow, of the Feuerland.
unfamiliar shapes/through the atmosphere
The connection between The Golden Archipelago and Plüschow is most clearly the Feuerland, the darkroom-carrying-ship he commissioned in 1928 both to carry him from Busum, Germany to Tierra Del Fuego and to serve as a base for his flights of exploration,. Some of her plans are incorporated into the Dossier, and Meiberg, perhaps, unless I am misleading you, spent time on the Feuerberg.
Something good there was
This is not unlikely, as Plüschow sold the Feuerland in 1929 to pay for his return to Germany, leaving her in Tierra del Fuego for the next 60 plus years. The Feuerland, renamed the Penelope by the landowner/farmer who purchased her, was used for the next many decades for a variety of purposes, including that of moving people (and critters) from one place to another in the waters in and around Tierra del Fuego. Only recently did she return to Germany (read here).
Life’s more hidden
Plüschow also took films. One image in the Dossier is of a ship in an apparently iceberg bound, rock strewn, inlet. Below the image is an arrow pointing to the vessel with the question “is that the boat,” written nearby. This photo could be a still from one of Plüshow’s movies (which you can watch, here).
the frozen lakes
moors in the darkened bays
It was in 1927 that Plüschow sailed the Feuerland to Tierra de Fuego– journey that took 279 days. Once there, he first explored the region by ship; then he took to the air, becoming the first person to fly over Tierra del Fuego–without communication, without forecasts, without support from land, in a region of startling beauty and intense weather.
The atmosphere, likewise, in this climate, where gale succeeds gale, with rain, hail, and sleet, seems blacker than anywhere else.
In his plane, Plüschow explored the Paine Region, the Perito Moreno Glacier
Unlike Darwin a hundred years before, who despite the revolution of his theories and his wide-spanning intellect, saw no further in terms of race (and gender) than those of his day:
I could not have believed how wide was the difference between savage and civilised man
Plüschow saw both beauty and warmth in the people of Tierra del Fuego.
something good there was
In how you gazed
Plüschow seems to have had a sort of generosity of spirit, though I may be romanticizing him. I have certainly not read enough of his work (a pathetic excuse).
you’re so much alone in this lovely world,
And, as for opening up new vistas–bringing the beauty back to western Europeans.
You always claim, my darling, but as for that,
You cannot know…
I wonder about that. What do most of us do with such images?
wherever men can look
Such imaginings? Do we allow them to open us up? Or do most of us, of limited imaginations, inscribe our own selves upon them?
at the ocean
Or perhaps, a little of both.
quotes are from Gunther Plüschow, Friedrich Hölderlin, Shearwater, Charles Darwin,