Light in Lindau

11 May

Hans Dichter had not finished a poem in nearly a year and he had no idea why.

His mind had grown as hard and dry as an old Bavarian chestnut. In desperation, he had traveled to the shores of Lake Constance for innovative therapy available there.

This radiant June morning he strolled out of the Bayerischer Hof hotel, onto the Seepromenade. He hurried past the still, shining waters that surrounded the town of Lindau, moored to its island like a large, crowded boat. The summer sun made a blue mirror of the lake called the Bodensee in German. The sky, mountains, boats, sun, promenades, and all the lively movement along Lindau’s shores was reflected in the smooth aquatic surface.

Three member nations of the European Union met here: Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. Zurich at the western end, Lindau  on the eastern Bavarian side were the two pivots of the region. The lake was seventy-six kilometers long and fourteen wide. Hans was aware of these fundamental facts of Alpine geography. Yet none of the beautiful perspectives around him could provide inspiration able to return him to creative activity. His reservoir of the mind was empty and natural scenery could not ignite it back to work.

Hans was in Lindau to restore the strength and freedom he had once known and enjoyed, the ground of his creativity and literary success.

As the tall, stringy redhead walked along the silicon walkway, his attention was not at all on the magnificent surroundings, but the important event about to happen to him.

First on the agenda was an introductory session with Dr. Albert Zug, so the two of them could become acquainted with each other. Then, there was to be hypnotic relaxation in the afternoon. And finally, his initial journey to the bottom of the Bodensee in a diving craft.

A short, dark man in a black suit opened to office door for the lanky stranger.

“You are Hans Dichter, I presume?” smiled the former. “Let me shake your hand.”

The tall poet offered his right hand, which the psychiatrist took and vigorously squeezed.

Then the pair entered the spacious office and sat down across from each other, Dr. Zug behind a long,polymer desk and Dichter on a soft nanoplastic chair.

“I have read your clinical history,” began the black-haired therapist. “You have all the symptoms of severe mental depression. Yet no one has been able to identify the causal factors at the root of this condition. Several sorts of treatment have been attempted, all without significant success. Am I correct so far?”

The poet nodded that he was.

“Tell me this, please: what have you heard about me and my method of treatment?” The swarthy little doctor stared fixedly at his newest patient.

“What can I say?” gaped the taller man in confusion. “I know that you have practiced your innovative brand of psychiatry in the Alpine region of Bavaria for over a decade now. You have ruffled the feathers of conventional medical therapy by dealing with the intangible forces within the human mind. Liberation of the psychic aura of the individual, I believe, is the aim that you seek. That is the reason I wrote you and begged for analysis and treatment for my unique malady.”

Dr. Zug, stifling a grin, pursed his lips and spoke softly.

“I have not been very popular in my profession. Some would call me a charlatan or a crank. Even my small handful of friendly colleagues consider my ideas and methods too advanced, too experimental. But my work goes on, that alone is important to me.

“For a generation now, psychiatry has been aware of the human aura that radiates from the mind. For many, it has been merely a curiosity with little meaning or significance. No one until me has dared to use the energy and light generated from inside a person for therapeutic purposes.

“Therefore, I am the first pioneer in aura-centered psychiatry.”

Neither of them said anything for a time, but only stared intently at the other.

“You make use of a submersible Kammer, I understand,” finally muttered Hans Dichter. “How did the notion ever arise to descend with a patient into the Bodensee, sir?”

Albert Zug seemed momentarily far away in place and time as he remembered and arranged what he planned to say.

“An early patient of mine who was a deep diver in the lakes of Upper Bavaria told me how clear and brilliant his aura became under meters of cold mountain water.I was at that time trying to treat him with traditional electronic equipment and with medicinal drugs. His statement fascinated and intrigued me.

“We arranged that I should go down with him in a small, two-person cylinder. My patient was right, it became plain to me that very first time down below. The conditions at the bottom of a lake were perfect for aura analysis and treatment of psychic injuries and wounds. The silence and aloneness allowed the aura to shine forth freely. Pressure, temperature, and wavelike motion: all of these could be harnessed for bringing out the inner light of the mind in its fullness and identity. The color of a patient’s aura can glow with ample intensity down there when allowed to.

“There is nothing like it anywhere in Europe. Perhaps the oceans could be used, but I am now here and cannot afford to take my patients away to distant seas for treatment.”

Dr. Zug, drawing a deep breath, focused his eyes on the poet.

“You have found it impossible to compose your thoughts and write, I understand from your records.”

“This condition is driving me mad, Doctor,” bitterly confessed the red-headed young man. “If I am to live any more, it is necessary that I create poems.”

“There is very little definite information about a writer’s aura in our psychiatric history. Unfortunately, your prior therapists have observed little of it. Most of the time, your light has not been visible to their eyes or their minds.”

“That is the reason I came to Lindau,” sighed Hans. “You are my last hope of recovering what I once had. At one time, no one in Germany could write as fast or voluminously as me. The poems were all meaningful, too.

“But now I have become a dry well, empty of all drive and energy.”

The poet fell suddenly silent, as if he were spent and exhausted.

“Tonight,” asserted Zug with vigor and authority. “We must start tonight. Are you prepared to submerge in the Kammer with me?”

The eyes of Hans exploded with excitement. “Certainly. When should I be ready?”

The psychiatrist thought for a moment. “Be at Dock Eleven at ten,” he declared with authority in his voice. “I have a session with a local patient for eight, but I can fit you in at ten.”

Hans Dichter left the office after receiving directions from the therapists. He looked ahead with a mixture of both hope and apprehension to his first descent into the saline sea.

Better to be a little early for the appointment, the writer nervously told himself as he left the Bayerisch Hof that evening. Along the Seepromenade, a string of aerostatic lamp cells high above the walkway illuminated the cool Alpine air. Only a few tourists strolled alongside the still Bodensee. Tour boats rested in their water berths, eerily empty and silent.

A small sign informed Hans where to find the dock his therapist used. As he turned to step onto the wooden boards, he caught sight of the polymer sphere in which Dr. Zug submerged his patients. The upper part of it rose above the water line like some strange, aquatic creature. This is the place, he said to himself as he approached the submarine chamber.

Without warning, the entrance door slid open. Hans, only a few meters from the opening, froze in his tracks. Someone was emerging from the Kammer onto the pier, and he was certain it was not Dr. Zug. The shape was too tall to be the short psychiatrist. All at once, the figure was close enough to be identified as that of a tall, very thin woman.

Dichter gaped and stared as she walked over to where he stood, confused and petrified.

“Good evening,” chimed a rich alto voice. “The Doctor is waiting for you inside. I am sorry if our session lasted too long.”

“I arrived a little early,” Hans managed to mumble as he watched the face of the woman who had to be the eight o’clock patient the psychiatrist had mentioned to him that morning at their first meeting. There appeared to be a faint glow of light around her eyes.

Suddenly the diminutive form of Albert Zug exited out of the door of the Kammer. Hans watched as he moved close to his two patients.

“I see that you are here, Hans,” said the therapist.

“Am I too early, Dr. Zug?”

“Not at all. We can start immediately. Our eight o’clock session ran longer than usual, didn’t it, Karla?”

“Yes,” agreed the latter, offering her right hand to Hans. “My name is Karla Lindauer. I am fortunate in being a native of the town that the Doctor has chosen to live in.”

“Hans Dichter,” announced the poet, taking her hand in his and gently shaking it.

“I have heard your name,” murmured the tall young woman.

“Hans is a well-known poet,” explained Zug, intervening between the two patients of his. “He has been the winner of several all-German prizes for his literary work.”

The psychiatrist turned to Dichter. “Karla herself is a painter,” he said with a grin.

“How interesting!” exclaimed the writer with enthusiasm. “I realize that if I myself lived beside the Bodensee, there would be no lack of visual inspiration to make me wish to become an artist of natural beauty. There is so much hereabouts that deserves to be painted!”

Karla Lindauer’s long, narrow face broke out in a smile. “I work in landscape, mostly of the Alps and this lake of ours. My style tends to be quite traditional and realistic.”

“I envy you!” confessed the poet with writing blockage.

For a few moments, no one spoke. But at last Albert Zug broke the awkward silence.

“Karla can show you some of her paintings in the future. Are you ready to descend with me inside the Kammer, Hans?”

The latter felt a shiver up his back. “Yes, of course,” he replied.

The two patients said good evening to each other.

As Karla left the pier, Dr. Zug was guiding Hans through the door into the spherical chamber.

The Kammer went down into the deepest waters in the western sector of what was called Lake Constance. The trip to the bottom was faster and smoother than what the poet had expected.

Dr. Zug swiveled his piloting chair around and faced his new patient once the sphere was still.

“I am going to place you in hypnotic trance, Hans. Do not be afraid, nothing can happen to you. Sooner or later tonight, I expect to be able to make your inner aura shine forth. My objective will be to communicate with it and ask some important questions. That is the kernel of my method: to allow the aura to express and reveal itself. This, hopefully, will lead to analysis of the difficulties and problems, the conflicts and obstacles that trouble your mind and make it impossible for you to compose new poetry. Do you understand me, Hans?”

“I think so,” muttered the patient shakily.

“Good, let’s begin then.”

It took the psychiatrist considerable time to put his patient into a trance. When had he ever had such a hard, resistant subject to hypnotize? he wondered as the session proceeded. Zug sighed with relief when he finally succeeded. But the patient’s was truculent and very reluctant to come forward and glow in the darkened Kammer. What was the matter with this person’s aura? pondered the exhausted psychiatrist who had experienced unusual difficulty in hypnotizing Hans.

The color of the aura’s rays was another headache. Green was always stubbornly silent. Dichter was neither yellowish nor bluish in his chromatic position, but a perfect, pure green.

The upshot was that by midnight only a few introductory queries had been made to the aura that was under hypnotic trance. This therapy was going to take a great deal of time, decided Dr. Zug as he glanced at the Zeitring on his little finger, It was best not to start what could not be finished in one night of treatment. There had to be other sessions, probably many more of them.

“When I snap my fingers, you will return to full consciousness, Hans. Your aura will return to its original home within your inner psyche and again fall into dormancy. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Doctor,” whispered the hypnotized patient.

Zug snapped his fingers. Dichter awoke and his aura disappeared from view. Without another word, the therapist swiveled about and started the Kammer ascending to the surface of the midnight lake.

Hans woke up the following morning with a sharp sense of renewal and freshness. He remembered little about his return to the Bayerischer Hof from the Kammer, or what had happened during the therapeutic descent. Why such strange lacunae? he asked himself in a state of perplexity. A glance at his wrist-timer told him it was already past nine in the morning. Jumping out of his feather down bed, he rushed to get dressed. His early appointment with Dr. Zug was set for ten. That would give him an opportunity to learn the details about last night, he hopefully decided.

A quick breakfast downstairs occurred, then he hurried out onto the still dewy Seepromenade. The sky, brilliantly bright, enlivened the surface of the Bodensee with its morning solar rays. What a landscape! marveled the poet. Thought of the landscape led his mind to the tall female painter he had met the previous night. How could any native of beautiful Lindau suffer inside  the way she did? So mused the writer as he walked to his appointment.

Leaving the walkway and approaching the door to Zug’s Klinik, Hans caught sight of the very person he had just visualized in his mind’s eye. The artist, in pants and a light sweater, was walking toward him from the entrance.

“Good morning!” she brightly greeted him as she came near and then stopped.

“Good morning. How are you today?” he succeeded in saying, despite his surprise. The two of them stared at each other briefly.

“How did it go for you last night?” she boldly asked him.

Hans felt a shiver, cool and wet, down his back.

“It’s hard for me to recall much,” he falteringly declared.

“This was the same for me at first,” she stated in a calm, even voice. “Not until recently do I remember much of what occurs down there in the Kammer.”

“I have experienced a terrible writing block,” he confessed with caution.

“That is what brought you to Dr. Zug for treatment?”

He nodded yes. “For a considerable time, it has been impossible for me to compose any verses. Nothing comes out, although I try all the time.”

“My trouble is quite different,” frowned Karla. “It has no connection with my painting at all. I continue to accomplish what I wish with my brushes.”

The pair studied each other directly without embarrassment.

“I would like to see your landscapes,” murmured Hans, as if in a dream that made him powerless to control what he was saying or doing.

The painter gave him directions to her studio apartment, said good-bye, then walked away. The poet went to the Klinik door, opened it, and entered, his mind not at all fixed in the present.

“Your aura was a difficult one to arouse, Hans, because of its green hue. Those are the most difficult to penetrate, I have discovered.”

“When shall I go down in the Kammer again?” anxiously asked the patient.

Zug had to think a few seconds before answering him.

“Take a few days of rest, my friend. Look about Lindau and the Bodensee. Try to relax and enjoy yourself. The aura should not be summoned forth too frequently, I have found.”

“I see,” said the writer.

“Your aura is an extremely shy one. It resists being called out, as if concealing something that might turn out to be harmful to you.”

Dichter felt a small shock similar to electricity. “That is an interesting idea,” he pondered aloud. “I wonder what it could be that my aura wishes to hide inside itself.”

The psychiatrist gave him a piercing look. “Something it does not wish you to know, Hans.”

Shortly after, the patient left the office, his mind under the surface uneasy and shaken.

Yellow noonday rays streamed into the artist’s loft through an overhead window as the poet examined the half a dozen painted canvasses hanging on wall nails. Dichter went from one to the next, carefully studying each landscape for a time. At last, he turned and spoke to Karla Lindauer.

“They are magnificent! You have captured the soul of the Bodensee, I believe. The paintings reveal a profound creative consistency. It seems to me that the blue of the sky, the mountains, and the water dominates each of the scenes. Yet each use of that color is unique and separate, isn’t it?”

The tall, skinny painter gave him a smile full of warmth. “You are a very perceptive viewer, Hans. Yes, I see and I paint this region through the prism of one primary color. All else is subordinate to the various shades of blue. I imagine you can guess why, though.”

The poet thought a moment. “Blue is central to the landscape around here, isn’t it?”

Karla seemed to drift away into a semi-trance.

“Dr. Zug uncovered a blue aura buried under my false exterior.” She stopped a second, then proceeded to explain. “For years I was a conventional painter without any personal flavor to my work. I had mastered the technical skills of my craft, but every single piece I drew was a derivative of other artists’ imaginations. Unconsciously and unintentionally, I was copying what I had seen on different canvasses.

“The outward sign of my inner condition was a total lack of feeling and emotion. I realized that something was wrong, but had no idea what I could possibly do to correct it. No one wished to buy my paintings. Critics overlooked what I was offering to the public. My life and career had reached an impasse when I decided to seek the help of Dr. Zug.”

She stopped in order to draw a deep breath into her lungs, then went on with her story.

“Several descents in the Kammer were necessary before the problem became clear to me. You see, my aura had acquired a shell of pale yellow that kept my blueness hidden and congealed. My true aura had been a prisoner since my early childhood. Dr. Zug traced the trouble to my mother’s authoritarian strictness with me. She and my father had been cold and estranged toward each other. She forced me to build a wall of yellow rigidity around my natural blue, which I inherited from my father.

“The Doctor succeeded in puncturing the wall that imprisoned my authentic core of blue aura. We allowed it to shine forth for the first time. My parents are both dead now, making it possible for me to recover from the yellow straight jacket.”

“Is that gone, then?” gently asked Hans.

“Mostly.” A joyful tear appeared in the painter’s right eye.

Hans suddenly stepped closer to her, till only a small space separated the two of them.

“What you have told me is very encouraging, Karla,” he whispered intimately. “My hope is that he is able to do the same for me.”

In a week, the poet took his second trip down in the Kammer.

Dr. Zug at once became excited. The green aura now came forward immediately, with startling boldness. The psychiatrist questioned and examined it with speed and ease. By the tim that the sphere resurfaced at eleven thirty in the evening, the essence of the patient’s aura had been uncovered, mapped out, and explored.

Next morning, Hans Dichter sat in his analyst’s office, waiting for answers and recommendations.

“I was surprised at how most progress we made last night,” began Albert Zug. “Only after I got home did I realize what was influencing your aura in such a positive way.” He pleasantly smiled. “Or, should I say who was affecting your greenness.”

Hans gasped for breath. “You mean…”

“Yes, Karla.”

“We have been together, Doctor,” nodded the writer affirmatively. “There is no reason for me not to acknowledge that fact.”

Zug’s dilating dark eyes focused on the patient. “She is a good healing force and influence, Hans. You must continue to see her. Do not stop on any account. She is helping you and your aura.”

Each afternoon the two lovers made an excursion. Some days they would hire a sailboat with a pilot who acted as guide. At other times, the pair took walks along the shores from Lindau. Their cruises took them into Austrian and Swiss waters. Their explorations of the Bodensee gave them emotions it was possible for the two to share.

Hans dove in the Kammer with Dr, Zug two or three times a week, while Karla had sessions less often. It as in the third week after the arrival of the poet that she made a revelation to the psychiatrist during their session at the bottom of the Bodensee.

“I don’t know why, but I find that my painting has come to a stop.”

“Stopped?” asked Zug with an imperceptible start.

The artist frowned with frustration.

“It is hard for me to understand, but I don’t seem to know what to draw. There are no shapes or figures up here.” She raised a hand and pointed to the top of her head. “Hans and I have been spending our afternoons together.”

“Yes, he has made mention of it to me,” muttered the analyst.

“We are…are becoming close and intimate,” she softly whispered. “Perhaps this growing relationship has affected my creative work in some way, Doctor.”

Since the latter made no immediate comment, Karla continued to speak.

“Have you noticed any…any change in my aura?”

Zug, leaning forward in his padded seat, stared into her eyes through the blue nimbus of her aura. “No,” he answered. “Should I, Karla?”

“I think there is something happening inside,” slowly said the patient.

“But it isn’t visible,” declared the therapist with sympathy.

“I’m afraid that…” She failed to complete her sentence. “Why don’t we break off, Doctor?”

“Very well,” said Zug with unconcealed concern.

The next morning was torridly hot for this Alpine zone.

Hans opened the windows of the hotel room and looked out at the still water of the summer lake. His mind was overflowing with a feeling of passionate joy. How good it is to be alive at this time, in this place! he told himself in silence. How wonderful to know and to love Karla Lindauer!

Before he knew what he was doing, the writer seated himself at the small writing desk in one corner of his bedroom. Why it was that he picked up the hotel ink pen was something unexplainable to him at that particular moment.

Dichter wrote a  single line on a sheet of cellulose stationary.

“How miraculous to be no longer dead.”

He stared at the words for a time, holding the pen tightly in his right hand. Could it be that the blockage in his poetry had disappeared?

“Living in a span that overlaps with yours.”

First he thought of the words in the line, then he scribbled it down.

Blood throbbed thunderously through his arteries, flooding into his brain.

A wave of poetic madness took possession of his thought.

In just a few minutes, Hans had composed his first work in several years.

Karla was coming down the stairs from her studio apartment when her lover appeared at the bottom.

Without a word of warning, he rushed rapidly upward toward her, nearly falling down once in his strenuous hurry.

“Karla!” he shouted joyously when he came to stand a step below her. “It happened today for the first time. As I looked out the window of my room, a sort of transformation happened. It was like an illumination from within.

“I was looking out at the lake, when some unseen force made me sit down and write the words that were streaming through my mind.

“Karla! I wrote an entire poem in a few minutes. You must be the first to read it, because the subject of the work is you, my love.”

He handed her the piece of cellulose in his left hand. Her eyes focused on each of the four lines in turn as she read and then pondered.

“How miraculous to be no longer dead

Living a span that overlaps with yours.

Sharing the Alpine air and summer light

Gazing at the Bodensee beside you.”

She looked up at him, her eyes suddenly brimming over with a torrent of unfathomable tears.

“What do you think, Karla?” he pleaded in desperation. “Has my writing power returned?”

“Yes,” she grinned, wiping her eyes with her left hand. “Can I have this copy, my dear?”

“Of course,” the writer replied with enthusiasm. “This is dedicated to you. I have it engraved in my brain now.” He placed his right index finger on the side of his forehead.

“I do not want to be late for my appointment with Dr. Zug,” muttered Karla. “Pardon me if I leave you at such a moment, Hans.”

“Of course,” smiled Dichter. “You can tell him what I have achieved today.”

“Yes,” she whispered as she folded the cellulose and placed it in the pocket of her skirt. “We will meet later, Hans.”

With that, she made her way around him and descended to the bottom of the stairs.

The poet watched his lover disappear through the outside door, onto the Seepromenade.

Hans, writing out copies of his four-line verse, was startled by a knock on his door. Could it be Karla? he wondered as he rose and went to open it.

The short, awkward shape of Dr. Albert Zug stood there in the doorway.

“I must see you,” said the psychiatrist nervously.

“Come in, please.”

After closing the door behind the visitor, Dichter pointed to a spare, silicon chair. He himself remained standing.

“Why don’t you sit down, Hans?”

“No. I prefer standing, sir.”

Zug gave him a penetrating, searching look, then proceeded.

“I have bad news to tell you. Karla is leaving Lindau at once, this very afternoon. She does not intend to return, and asked me to inform you that her wish is that you not try to follow or trace her. Do you understand?”

The standing patient felt his legs grow cold and unsteady. His eyes stopped seeing as the voice of his therapist continued to speak.

“In recent days, Hans, your aura has turned a darker, bluish-green. This is a reflection of what Karla has done to your inner psyche. That is the cause of the restoration of your writing capability.”

The poet took a step closer to the doctor.

“Last night, something strange and uncanny happened during her descent in the Kammer. The yellow shell about her aura returned in full force, as it was when she first came to me for treatment. I have felt that something disastrous might be happening as soon as she informed me that her artistic creativity had disappeared.”

Hans blanched a pale white. “You mean…?”

“As you drained Karla of her blue aura, your own talent was reborn. But hers fell into a sharp, ultimate decline.”

“Where has she gone?” begged the poet.

“That we may never know,” answered Dr. Zug.

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