One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Sunday, March 1, 2015

From "The Island of Second Sight"

Found Thelen's Quixotic book via Celan. An excerpt:

     In the summer of the year 1601, Archduke Albrecht of Austria, the Spanish viceroy in the Netherlands, took up the siege of the city of Ostende. Isabella, who as daughter of Philip II of Spain had presented the Netherlands to her consort Albrecht as a dowry, vowed never to changer her chemise until the city had surrendered to the Spanish army. Albrecht's incentive to bring the siege to a rapid and victorious end was therefore very great, but the princess had underestimated the power of the Ostenders to hold out. The siege ended on the 20th of September, 1604 A.D., with a Spanish victory. Princess Isabella had thus worn her blouse for more than three years, offering proof of her patriotism and moral rectitude. There were solemn fanfares as she publicly dipped her blouse in a washtub. It turned the suds an inky color that today bears her name: a brownish-whitish-yellow tint like café-au-lait, known as "Isabella."
     Surely no one will doubt the truth of this traditional account, insofar as the precise coloration is concerned. I myself regard the background circumstances also as authentic. Who might ever have profited f rom inventing such a story? Or perhaps "legend corrects history," as Pascoaes says. I can only agree with him.
     Historical authenticity on the one hand, with its dry and rarefied scholarly mission, or on the other hand, legend as leaven for poetic truth: both impulses have combined most effectively here to help describe -- but my reader will have guessed what I was getting at -- Zwingli's shirt. It was "Isabella" shade from top to bottom, save for blackish areas on collar and underarms. Had Zwingli, too, taken a vow? Had he pledge himself to someone in eternal grubbiness? Was he besieging something or someone, or was he perhaps himself under a state of siege? The subsequent course of events will provide historical answers to all these questions. 

Albert Vigoleis Thelen (1903 - 1989)

Albert Vigoleis Thelen (28 September 1903 in Süchteln, Lower Rhine region, Germany - 9 April 1989 in Dülken, Germany) was a German author and translator (from Portuguese).


Thelen's main work, The Island of Second Sight, which has been praised by many as one of the great achievements in German literature of the 20th century, appeared in 1953. It was soon translated into Spanish and French, later also into Dutch. Not until 2010 when it was published by Galileo Publishing in Cambridge, through the efforts of Isabelle Weiss, was it made available to English readers.[2] The award winning translation by Donald O. White won the 2013 PEN Translation Prize.

[From Wikipedia:]

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Folie à deux

Folie à deux (/fɒˈli ə ˈd/; French pronunciation: ​[fɔli a dø]; French for "a madness shared by two"), or shared psychosis, is a psychiatric syndrome in which symptoms of a delusional belief are transmitted from one individual to another.[1] The same syndrome shared by more than two people may be called folie à trois, folie à quatre, folie en famille or even folie à plusieurs ("madness of many"). Recent psychiatric classifications refer to the syndrome as shared psychotic disorder (DSM-IV) (297.3) and induced delusional disorder (F.24) in the ICD-10, although the research literature largely uses the original name. The disorder was first conceptualized in 19th-century French psychiatry by Charles Lasègue and Jean-Pierre Falret and so also known as Lasègue-Falret Syndrome.

[From Wikipedia:]

Something from Late Celan: The Commentary: Ichten

Googled around before bed and ended up at a link I'd posted over a year ago on a commentary re Celan's "Todtnauberg": Forgotten (I don't believe I ever read it all the way through), or never knew?, it was by Pierre Joris. Though we can talk about "over-translating" (Joris typically picks through the universe of possibilities), I think that poem is certainly one of Celan's best "buried treasures." Seemingly not even Heidegger--the Thinker himself--fully understood all the poem's dark plantings.

Anyway, though there's tons I could relay, in reading Joris' commentaries on Celan's late poems, I've become enamored with the verb ichten:

     ichten / I'ed: Several interpretations -- per direct indication by the poet -- point to the verb ichten (in the Grimms's Worterbuch, an important helper of Celan's compositional process), used here in the preterit and defined as "ich' sagen, eine frage mit ich beantworten" (to say "I," to the answer a question with I). The extraction of ichten from the preceding word "vernichtet"/"annihilated" is not as obvious in the English "I'ed" -- though maybe the two i's of "annihilated" do point to this origin.

Default Walk

The trio was trimmed to a pair, and I have things to do and places to go (someone special has a B-day!), so the epicenter was Peet's (blood decorated the sidewalk, presumably from a late night brawl starting at Legends?) and we walked to the Peninsula (only to the end of the boardwalk) and back.

Though the labor dispute is supposedly over, we could count the floating cities until we ran out of fingers and the remnant disappeared in the morning haze.

Monday, February 16, 2015

An Overload of the Concrete...

An overload of the concrete becomes abstract. Fast-forwarding a bit (scanning all the way), I arrived at some good dirt re mom and dad. No facts, only interpretation. Sylvia's reality.


But although it makes me feel good as hell to express my hostility for my mother, frees me from the Panic Bird on my heart and my typewriter (why?), I can't go through life calling RB up from Paris, London, the wilds of Maine long-distance: "Doctor, can I still go on hating my mother?" "Of course you can: hate her hate her hate her." "Thank you, doctor. I sure do hate her."
She's had a hard life: married a man, with the pre-thirty jitters on her, who was older than her own mother, with a wife out West. Married in Reno. He got sick the minute the priest told them they could kiss. Sick and sicker. She figured he was such a brute she couldn't, didn't love him. Stood in the shower forcing herself to enjoy the hot water on her body because she hated his guts. He wouldn't go to a doctor, wouldn't believe in God and heiled Hitler in the privacy of his home. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

I Was Looking For...

I posted a portion of the only Frisch questionnaire I had "at hand" some while ago: Questionnaire 1987, which appears at the very end of The German Library's volume devoted to Frisch. I was looking for some more on line (and found one text), but ran into this Paris Review interview with Frisch by Jodi Daynard (1989). I didn't read the whole thing, but Google +'ed it and snipped the ending which I found amusing (see below). I'll keep looking for more questionnaires (I think some are in his Sketchbooks, so I will dig them up).


From the Paris Review (Winter II, 1989):