6. Anonymous

We were lodged in a restored dwelling of the gentry, called a castle, in a small village outside Budapest. The village was easy to walk and after a while revealed its treasures. Such as the faceless building with cars parked around it where the gypsies lived. And the white church hidden among trees on top of a hill, the former centre of this microcosm. On the walks one would suddenly encounter vistas of wooded hills or a lake.

On the first day without guidance my friend and I climbed the hill to the church. It was white and sported a black spire and looked medieval. Like so many others in this area of World Heritage protection. At the foot of the church, snuggled in the fold of the hill there was a little platform and a plaque that looked like a place of veneration. The plaque was written in Latin, the language of the church and donated by a rich lady. It was in memory of a monk who had written down the laws of the land centuries ago. This monk was called Anonymous. Along the road in the valley and elsewhere Anonymous was mentioned too.

Indeed, Anonymous was not alone. In front of the Museum of Agriculture in Budapest one encounters an impressive bronze sculpture of a writing monk. The monk is seated and bends over to write, with a realistic strong hand. If one looks up under the hood that shadows his face one will discover there is in fact no face. This monk is anonymous too.

When asked – it was not the monk of our village. He does not write the law of the land. He is just a symbol of a Hungarian writing, in this case botany or agriculture. Is he recording, like translating folklore, or is he adding to science? One does not know. One only hears Anonymous. He also is not alone. There is yet another statue nearby.