Vienna: the monument for temporality

Temporality is scary since it imposes the need for change, the unavoidable ending, thus reaching some state of eternity is the ultimate dream of humankind. Although the end of something is not a dead-end — it imposes beginning of something else, a transformation, the “end” itself is mysterious, scary, unpredictable. Such topics are held as taboo, and avoided as much as possible. This dread of temporality is illustrated within all forms of artistic expression, and architecture is one of them. Every great empire is working hard to construct monuments which would shine with permanence providing the nation with symbolic victory over time. Obviously, monumental architecture surely serves more purposes than this one (like demonstrating power and wealth of state, well-being of the nation, infantilizing the citizens as a part of authoritarian indoctrination, etc.), but some of the cities strike with their attempts to be spectacularly timeless more than others. And Vienna is one of them.

Although periphery of Vienna is sometimes even dull, but the center with the famous Ring street is a remarkable piece of architectural magnificence, which is just as much iconic and monumental as it is eclectic and hyperreal. While floating above, Edward notices a peculiar blend of contrasting periods: gothic churches juxtaposed with Greek temples, neoclassicist parliament paralleled with Egyptian ornamentation, Victorian chariots riding within modernist urban arrangements… And everything was built in nearly 10 years period, at the end of XIX century, when the Hapsburg empire was living the most difficult of its’ times prior to their collapse at the first world war. The Ring street is the Empire’s attempt to fight the flow of time and inevitable temporality of being, hiding the crippling insides.

Now a completely different society is living on the ruins of fallen Empire, using these magnificent mansions for a variety of purposes which would had induced nightmares for a XIXth. century nobles: some of the duke rooms are open as museums for any so-called peasant to visit, some are transformed into art galleries, some are parks now, and some — inhibited by officials. Everything is hypertextual, and while nothing lasts forever, but transformed and reappropriated versions of the original material always linger somewhere there. We do stand on the base which is built by the heroes of the past. And this lovely lady working on her laundry has her clothes colored in the patterns of temporality.

Once the night falls, Vienna changes its’ clothes into more democratic ones. Now these magnificent structures are used by youth, and the ever so blue Danube is now a gathering point for all kinds of characters.

The historicity of Vienna tickle Edward’s sense of time, waking him up from a tranquil state of being where he is one with clouds, and materialize him within physical realm of existence. His feet leaves no footsteps, his breath sounds like a spray-can being sprayed (and his coughs — like a shaked one), his bag is filled with old black Estonian bread, and his hand shoot grayscaled rainbows on walls. The ritual had began.

Apparently Edward has some fans in Vienna, which are so hard-loving, that they managed to come in the middle of the night with three cars. Edward is pleased to speak with them and tell the story of the glorious Estonia.

Somehow these fans were quite bitchy. They had demands and regulations. But the only one who makes them is death itself. Please follow the arrows in case of emergency.

Following this peculiar encounter, Estonian crew became even more excited to see the city, most of which is of a similar age to them. Although the architecture here looks old, but Lembit remembers how he was speaking to some stones about the rapid construction of Vienna in 1890s. Some of his good friends even saw the workers coming to mountains for some marble, but drinking vodka instead. Alps just provide such nice of a view, that you have to enjoy it as best as you can…

Nothing is permanent, only the calmness of Edward can’t be disturbed by anything. One city after another, he is nearly at the end of his European conquest. Any reflections? Walls do speak for themselves. Vienna is finished, and Edward is thinking about some fresh black bread, because it has been more than a year since he had a chance to feast in Estonia. The last days of his travel are coming, but he still feels that something is missing. Darkness falls over the Vienna as Edward disperses within the depths and twists of Danube in the shape of thousands of stones, and flows into the abyss, with the eternal calmness in his mind… And dreams about black bread.