René Berger 2005

A portrait in the key of E


I learned to know him late
And this is not a biography
Others will speak of honors, and of his social role
And role in the collective intellectual life
Of our time, from the "Mountain of Truth"
On down
My perspective is of his slight figure
White-haired, and well-cut from the ground
He stands out by his presence
And his eyes shine bright with mind

In the cave of now,
Sitting at the side of those that draw
By the fast flickers
Of today's fires, he speaks to us of meaning
Conscious of his worth, in one voice,
His own, and urges us do the same

How might one capture best
The rhythm and accents of his speech
In French and English
The justice and humor of an intonation
For natural, clear effect?
I cannot, my method's far too crude
Let these few lines provide at least
A basis for recall
For we who've had the chance to hear them

Comment capturer au mieux
Le rythme et les accents de sa voix
En anglais et français
La justesse et l'humour de ses intonations
Avec effet - clair et naturel ?
Je ne peux pas moi-même
Ma méthode de loin trop primitive
Que ces quelques lignes servent au moins
Comme base de souvenir
Pour nous qui aurons eu la chance
De les entendre

He shows us how to see
To look, also, at what he himself has brought together
Back from the void
The treasures of the world
And he knows the world so well in its evolving
That his own vision - must be seen as art
He sees the Net as Word, as Ark
The Sacred moving here
Above the waters to our tiny, giant, many-colored screens
The flows of e's, electrons, in metal lines
And those - of the nervous microwaves
That serve in space
He has made observing into an act of faith
And relayed for us, the classic central myth
Of the World-Egg, of all knowledge
And of its changing always forms

We are not friends, nor close in any standard ways,
I did not share the offered horseback rides
Not mine either shared regard or silence
But each time we write or talk
The distance disappears
And we are colleagues in the search for - what?
The banal small events and things
The chance encounters of a walk?
Or something I may find along my path
And then report?

From his profound and fecund fancy:
I have learned to question:
Is there safety in the dissolution of the self?
How will the new Golem of man-machine
That is ourselves,
Insure erasure of the "E"
On our own forehead, if need be?
With all this change, he remains
A kind of calm abiding principle of order
Between the real intersecting realms

Today, on this occasion,
We need not go so deep
We wish him health and good wine
And just the right amount of Chinese plants
To optimize his life and mental tone
Our dear René



Joseph Brenner
Les Diablerets
April, 2005