“Melk’s Golden Acres” (short story) by Nobuko Tagaki
English Publication History: Speculative Japan 2 (Kurodahan Press, 2011)
Original: Japanese (メルクの黄金畑, 2009)
Translated by Dink Tanaka, 2011
Synopsis: The Melk Abbey has a long and rich history amid the vineyard it’s surrounded by, yet it’s the library that holds the abbey’s true historical wealth in the centuries’ old documents and frescoes. Also, there’s an emotional element with the placement of the window and the security of the rhombus of sunlight as the only sense of warmth. Seeing a red vase in the fresco, a visitor is made aware of a woman standing behind the same vase. The old man spins a story of having the woman as his wife and growing a vineyard together.
Pre-analysis: Thailand is a place studded with ancient history with its well-manicured temples from days of yore—stoic monoliths of erect stone and receding mazes of ruddy rock. Walking amid the temples, upon the stairs, across the lawn, and through the doorways, one can’t help but think of who inhabited this plain—What lives did they lead? What sorrows had they experienced? What joys did they share?—and how it affected the city. The all the people have passed away from this once great city, do their emotions still course through the porous rock? Surely, any region on this earth can offer a similar experience, such as the German abbey in “Melk’s Golden Acres”.
Analysis: An idle mind can create a focus for its stirring prowess; these objects of focus can become idols or obsessions. As minutes whittle away, so too do the hours, days, and years, the focus of the mind makes this object a center point of its existence. If intangible emotion can be imprinted into something tangible, surely the age-long fixation of an idle mind could effuse the sensation into the very walls, the very fresco that had held its attention for so long. Could it effuse so much of its own vitality to imbue volition upon the once static image? It would take a rather fragile mind or an incredible mind to believe that its object of obsession had come to life.