Pale, Much too Pale (Wenckheim III – Quarries II)

…it was only the sky that surprised him, because a few strips of this enormous, dark, heavy, and interconnected mass had broken open, so that the light broke through here and there across a few narrow bands, and the rays of light reached down from the heavens to the earth, innumerable thick shimmering rays of light gently spreading out — like an intricate aureole…

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The second chapter in László Krasznahorkai’s Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming fulfills the title’s promise: Baron Wenckheim returns, by train, through the gloomy Hungarian plains.

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It is not particularly difficult to substitute the (for me currently inaccessible) Hungarian gloominess with what I have at hand, and I chose to seek out an elusive quarry, the Empire Quarry, to obtain appropriate illustration.

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The darkness of this second chapter is broken with the occasional appearance of light, as in the introductory quote, leading eventually to recognition:

…and he just watched as the streaks of light played across the landscape, he just watched, and he couldn’t get enough of this sight, he was happy that he could see what he had never dared hope to see again, he was happy that he could be happy again, he stared and he wondered, his eyes filled with tears, and he thought that indeed now he had come home.

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Then, near the end of the chapter, light takes the center stage with a photographer seeking out the perfect conditions for a photo shoot at the Kelety railway station in Budapest where Wenckheim is about to arrive.

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So there is, like here, a convergence of lines, railway lines, light rays, paths, a promise of more to come…

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