Tuesday, 4 February 2003

Yvonne Studer 2003

Hello fellow SA4QE-yellow-paper droppers and Krakenites!

What admirable ideas you've all had for today: The lovely map of SA4QE locations and the Russagrams, the idea to put the yellow paper into a rucksack, or the one to send quotations to people randomly chosen! And what lovely quotes! Forgive the novice for being more modest at her first attempt; I promise to think of something more original for next year. Here's a report from my tour, located within a Bermuda triangle between my school, i.e. Kantonsschule Hohe Promenade, the English Department of the University of Zürich, and the ETH (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, i.e. Polytechnic), where Russ gave a reading in 1983. I chose this area because within its boundaries, a lot of people will be able to understand the three quotations I prepared.


I tell you what I have paid years to learn: everything that is found is always lost again, and nothing that is found is ever lost again. Can you understand that?

I hung up the first photocopy of the quote at the entrance to the library of my school, for libraries are the very places to find and lose books and discover new authors. Moreover, there are computers for the students in a room nextdoor to the library so if anyone wanted to find out what SA4QE was, they would have access to the Internet right away (the links to Richard and Dave's websites were given at the bottom of each sheet of yellow A4 paper). The librarian was very interested in my action and asked me for copies of my other quotes. I thought that the interest stimulated at my current workplace was a very good omen: If you don't know how influential librarians can become, read the introduction to the Penguin edition of Michael Moore's Stupid White Men...

The second location for this quote was the library of the English Department. Unfortunately, the librarian was having her lunch break, so I couldn't recruit another accomplice. Still, I trust that a lot of people will notice the strange yellow attractor hanging on the glass door.

Thirdly, I put this quote on the notice board next to the door of the lecture theatre of the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH), where Russ gave his Zürich lecture in November 1983 and thus made it possible to be found and lost and found again. Normally, it's engineers, mathematicians or architects who attend lectures there; but thanks to Professor Brian Vickers's efforts, English literature of the best kind has been taught there as well all these years. The lecture theatres are new additions to the nineteenth century building; like cylinders from outer space they disrupt the strict symmetries of the old building, so that, in the belly of the ETH, you can get quite lost in a labyrinth of corridors and in-between floors. Moreover, the atmosphere is a bit like inside the crypt of an old cathedral. A very hermetic place indeed. Small wonder it was here that I once found Russ.


... more and more I think that madness is the world's natural condition and to expect anything else is madness compounded. In the train derailment scene in King Kong the engine-driver could not believe his eyes when he saw Kong's face rising through the gap where he'd torn away the tracks but that was just another day in 1933. That trains mostly stay on rails, that the streets are mostly peaceful, that the square continues green and quiet below my window is more than I have any right to expect, and it happens every day.

After getting such a positive echo for my first quote in the school library, I became bolder. I went to the office of the deputy headmaster and asked permission to hang this quote on a column beside the staff room. And do you know what happened? Not only did he not frown, but he smiled and found the quotation great and a very good comment on the current situation of the world. I HAD ACTUALLY FOUND AN ALLY IN MY BOSS! He even advised me to get the piece of paper stamped by the secretary so that nobody would remove it from the column. YES!

The second place where I hung the quote was the daily events notice board of the English Department. As one of my former professors was passing me, he nodded and said, "A little subversive action won't do any harm". You bet!


An ordinary mirror is silvered at the back but the window of a night train has darkness behind the glass. My face and the faces of other travellers were now mirrored on this darkness in a succession of stillnesses. Consider this, said the darkness: any motion at any speed is a succession of stillnesses; any section through an action will show just such a plane of stillness as this dark window in which your seeking face is mirrored. And in each plane of stillness is the moment of clarity that makes you responsible for what you do.

For this quote I chose only one place, the door to the office of Professor Vickers at the ETH, i.e. the man who invited Russ to Zürich twenty years ago. The corridor in front of his office is separated from the dimly lit belly of the ETH by a pane, not by a solid wall, which gives the effect of looking at the window of a night train standing still. Planning nothing but to hang the quote on his door, I was quite surprised to meet Professor Vickers in person, a coincidence that quite befits this day. Next year it wouldn't have been possible anymore since he will retire in March. He told me to remember him to you, Russ, and he sends his best wishes.

I've also enclosed a picture of myself with a quote I hung up on my reproduction of the Vermeer girl on 4th February, i.e.,


I could feel that something had happened, I could feel the Hermes of it, could feel myself on a night road to somewhere else. 'I have no name but the one you give me,' I said, 'no face but the one you see.'

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Russ, and best wishes to all,


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