In Tübingen the houses sit along the River Neckar like nineteenth-century ladies on lounge chairs with flowing skirts and big hats: they look comfortable and bourgeois and unassailable. Like most of Germany. From the bridge over the river you can see a tower, painted yellow now, where the poet Hölderlin went crazy for 36 years: a long, slow burn that might, in other circumstances, be called life. This is where he wrote these words, which I found quoted by Paul Auster in The Invention of Solitude:
The lines of life are as various as roads or as
The limits of the mountains are, and what we are
Down here, in harmonies, in recompense,
In peace for ever, a god will finish there.
On the opposite side of the river is a park where I walked with my father under plane trees two hundred years old.