Thursday, September 22, 2011

By the Shores of Lake Neuchâtel

Next to Lake Neuchâtel sits voyage immobile (motionless voyage) by Denis Perret-Gentil, a larger-than-life bust of a man with a smaller-than-real head. Clad in a wrinkled blue suit, white shirt, and red tie, he holds binoculars. His gaze travels across the lake to the shore beyond. He seeks life, but does not move to find it.

I move all the time, yet the statue gave me pause. Is it possible to travel without traveling? The obvious answer is yes, through imagination, but this man is not daydreaming. He is looking intently at something.

And what does he see?

I saw five junior swans and their mother traversing the lake. I saw a sailboat. I saw the distant shore, the town of Grandson across the lake, and the foothills of the Jura.

But surely he sees more. As he gazes through his binoculars, does he see the reflection of his mind? Does he think about the menhirs nearby?

About a mile away, many menhirs were placed in particular formations by Neolithic people in the 3rd millennium B.C. The menhirs traveled through time to the present day, in another motionless voyage.

Well, not completely motionless because they were knocked over. According to the plaque, they were “lain down at about 850 B.C. by lakeside erosion.”

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