Reading Zettel’s Traum: Week 16, pp. 149-157

Elevated Hunting Blind

The next important landmark of the journey is an elevated hunting blind discovered in the forest. All the four characters climb it. Franziska shows Pagenstecher a small doll representing a Native American girl that she calls Narra-mattah (after a white girl kidnapped by Indians  in Fenimore Cooper’s tale The Wept of Wish-Ton-Wish). The raised platform opens to the observer a beautiful panorama of the forest. As soon as the word “panorama” is uttered, the pandora box of Pagenstecher’s erudition is opened again. Paul believes that “panorama” is an ancient Greek word.  Daniel condescendingly tells him that the first use of the word dates back to the beginning of the 19th century.  Pagenstecher readily grabs the opportunity to regale the Jacobis with another historical excursus. Poe is his starting point: the word “panorama” is mentioned in Arnheim in connection with the view one can enjoy on the summit of Aetna. Originally, however, “panorama” was known not as a natural view but rather as artificial entertainment first introduced in 1792 by English painter Robert Barker.


Cross section of Robert Barker’s panorama at Leicester Square. Robert Mitchell, c. 1793.

Obviously enthusiastic about the subject, Pagenstecher gives a detailed description of Barker’s sophisticated contraption that attracted numerous visitors and earned its designer tons of money. The Englishman’s invention inspired a lot of creative minds, as various modifications of his panorama were soon to follow. For example there was Gropius’ pleorama that presented to the viewers  panoramic views while they were sitting in a rocking boat or Daguerre’s diorama that ingeniously used two transparent screens with pictures through which light was filtered.

Pagenstecher singles out two distinct periods in the development of the panorama. In the first one, from 1800 to 1850, the most popular subject matter of the panorama was a city view, whereas during the second (1860-1900) the thematic focus was on battle scenes.

It is also important to remember that this new type of entertainment had a considerable influence on works of literature. Pagenstecher uses Jules Verne’s adventure novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth as a case in point. The descriptions of the fantastic landscapes in the hollow earth owe a great deal to the effects created by the panorama and its successors. Here is one of the fragments quoted by Daniel:

‘That must be true. But if prehistoric animals lived in the subterranean regions, who is to say that one of those monsters is not still wandering around in the middle of these dark forests or behind these steep rocks?’

At the idea, I scanned the horizon with a certain dread; but no living creature appeared on the deserted shores.

I felt a little tired, and went and sat down right at the end of a promontory, at whose foot the waves were noisily breaking. From there I could see right round the bay, constituted by an indentation in the coast. At the end there had formed a little harbour enclosed by pyramid-shaped rocks. Its calm waters slept, sheltered from the wind. A brig and two or three schooners might have anchored there with room to spare. I almost expected to see some ship coming out, all sails set, making for the open sea on the southerly breeze.

But this illusion soon faded. We really were the only living creatures in this subterranean world. At times, when the wind dropped, a silence deeper than the silence of the desert fell upon these arid rocks and weighed upon the surface of the ocean. I tried, then, to penetrate the distant mists, to tear apart the curtain which had fallen over the mysterious depths of the horizon.

Despite its verisimilitude, this scenery has nothing to do with the known world on the surface; it is an “illusion”, just like the sophisticated panoramic views painted on moving canvas.

to be continued

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Reading Zettel’s Traum: Week 15, pp. 141-148

The second part of the novel is called In the Company of Trees (In Gesellschaft von Baümen). Its first alliterative sentence (Ein Schrat im Schritt) can be translated as either “a forest demon at a footpace” or “a forest demon in the crotch”: take your pick. The company walks in the forest, and Pagenstecher, as usual, shares his encyclopedic knowledge about various subjects. As he explains, the footpaths they have been encountering are not footpaths at all, but old firebreaks, artificially made gaps to contain wildfires. The main topic of their conversation, however, is meteorites and different theories of their origin. According to one of them, meteorites are the products of volcano eruptions on the moon. Pagenstecher offers a brief overview of how various scientists and writers of the past got carried away with the idea that the moon was covered with numerous live volcanoes that were bombarding the earth with “moonstones”. A passage from Jean Paul’s Schmelzle’s Journey to Flätz gives a very vivid illustration to the whole concept comparing the stone-throwing moon to the sling-wielding Biblical David.

The “lunar” theory finds its expression in Poe’s works as well. There is a quotation from his short story The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall which recounts the title character’s journey to the moon in a balloon. When Hans Pfaall is approaching his destination, his vessel is almost hit by what he calls “some mighty volcanic fragment”.

Back to etym-analysis. This time it is the characters’ names in Wilhelm Raabe’s novel Christoph Pechlin that have to undergo it. During the ensuing discussion the name of Freud crops up again, and Pagenstecher makes a point of stressing the importance of his psychoanalytical approach to works of literature.

On their way deeper into the forest, the discussants encounter a land surveyor with a theodolite. Those who have read Arno Schmidt’s works will know that the surveyor is one of the key figures in his fictional universe. References to this profession can be found in many of his texts. Pagenstecher says that it is a bad sign to meet one, which surprises Wilma: Daniel himself used to work as a land surveyor during the war.

to be continued

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Reading Zettel’s Traum: Week 14, pp. 133 -138

More talk about the peris in Lalla Rukh with quotations and occasional puns (like peni(s)tence). At one point René Descartes’ attraction to cross-eyed women is mentioned. In the 4th Act of Moore’s poem there is a description of theatre wings, which makes us think again about Poe’s early childhood. Pagenstecher also draws the Jacobis’ attention to the “jets of water” issuing from the canal described in the same act. This water image leads to Daniel’s quoting from Goethe’s Faust, Part II. Here is A. S. Kline’s translation of this fragment, in which Mephistopheles suggests to Faust the ideas about their next possible venture:

For myself, I’d deliberately create

A pleasure house in a pleasant place.


Waterfalls, spanning the rocks, in pairs,

And all those kinds of water-jet affairs:

Rising nobly, while all round the dish,

A thousand little fountains hiss and piss.

Then I’d have a hut, snug and convenient,

Where beautiful women might be content:


Women, I say: since, one and all,

I think of their loveliness in the plural.

For Pagenstecher, fountains in literature are inextricably linked with urination. He also points out that although the influence of Lalla Rukh on Poe is especially evident in Al Araaf and Tamerlane, it can also be found in his other works. Thus the “winged tulips” from The Island of the Fay refer us to Moore’s “blue damsel flies that fluttered round the jasmine stems like winged flowers”. Finally, the prolonged (and rather boring I should say) discussion of Lalla Rukh comes to an end, and Pagenstecher  asks the Jacobis’  permission to talk privately to Franziska.

Daniel speaks about the decline and degradation inherent in the modern epoch, which, in his view, has been unfolding since the First World War. This epoch, which will last approximately two hundred years, can be compared to the Migration Period (300 to 700 CE). Just like in the time of the Barbarian Invasions, the state of art nowadays is in great danger. According to Pagenstecher’s pessimistic picture of the modern world, most people have realised they do not need any art at all. They have come to the conclusion that life without art is quite comfortable and  gratifying. Both the creation and the consumption of art is hard work, and humankind has other things to worry about. Daniel makes a grim prediction that in this epoch of dissolution 90% of art works will disappear. He specifically addresses youthful Franziska with such grim misgivings because she represents for him the new generation that, unfortunately, is bound to continue and intensify this process of scrapping art. The doomsday talk over, Pagenstecher and Franziska hurry to catch up with the Jacobis.

This brings us to the end of the First Part of Zettel’s Traum.

to be continued

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The Quiet Fields (Спокойные поля) by Alexander Goldstein

I was reluctant SpokoiniyePolya to tackle The Quiet Fields mostly because I didn’t want to be left without any Goldstein novel to look forward to reading. This may sound a bit strange as he lived to write only two novels, but the sheer literary might of the first one, Remember Famagusta, persuaded me that its author was one of the greatest Russian language stylists of his time, and therefore  his next book must be something out of this world as well. Needless to say, this turned out exactly the case.  The Quiet Fields is a work of  intoxicating linguistic virtuosity and vast erudition which make most of the recent Russian literary produce pale by comparison. Partly fictionalised memoir, partly cultural criticism, this work is Goldstein’s swansong, his final legacy, his ticket to literary immortality. The author was terminally ill with lung cancer when writing this book, and he managed to finish it just shortly before his death. Aware of the fact that the end was near, Goldstein created an intricate tapestry in which he tried to capture as much of the world he was leaving behind as he could. Even partial understanding of this literary arras might require several careful readings as the density of the writing, high as it is, on many occasions goes off-scale.

The narrator, who shares many biographical details with the author, tells the story of his childhood and student years in the Soviet Baku as well as of his later life in Tel Aviv as an Israeli immigrant. But it is not just a story of the people he has known, the places he has visited, and the experiences he has had. It is also a story of literature, art and philosophy that have shaped the narrator and given him his particular voice. Just like in Remember Famagusta, the narrative is fragmentary, with unexpected temporal and spacial leaps. The novel is populated by real and imaginary characters: some of them are the individuals Goldstein personally knew, some are the figments of his imagination, some are historical figures he read about in books. A  life spent reading is as important here as a life spent living, maybe even more. Books, booksellers and bookshops are omnipresent in The Quiet Fields. Throughout the whole novel books are read, discussed, analysed. It appears that for Goldstein literature is just another country, like The Soviet Union or Israel, but more comfortable and more familiar than either of these. He definitely knew it better than any place in the physical world. The abundance of literary allusions playfully scattered on the pages of the novel reveals an encyclopedic mind equal to that of Roberto Calasso or Umberto Eco. We are not talking here about mere references to other works of literature.  The cultural material at Goldstein’s disposal is treated with exceptional subtlety  and is further enriched by passing through the centrifuge of his prose. There seems to be nothing he cannot do with language. Rich in meaning, alliterative and allusive, Goldstein’s sprawling sentences strike by the sheer inventiveness and the originality of looking at things. Even the most mundane situations gain loftiness and solemnity once couched in the baroque luxury of Goldstein’s prose. Nothing which is written nowadays in Russian comes even close to this filigree wordsmithery.

There are fourteen chapters, and the longest one has the same title as the novel – The Quiet Fields. This chapter is the most plot-driven part of the book, although it is unlikely to provide any kind of linearity for an impatient reader. It is a story of friendship of three bookish guys (one of whom is the narrator) in  Baku during the Soviet time.The quiet fields are none other than the Elysian Fields described in Book VI of Virgil’s Aeneid, which happens to be the favourite book of Pavel Torgovetsky, one of the three friends. The other friend is Oleg Blonsky, the narrator’s second cousin who provides him with rare books, some of them banned in the Soviet Union. The ordinary story of sharing and discussing books, of joint walks in the streets of Baku, of meals and  teas taken together is not only energised by the verbal pyrotechnics of the narrative, but also by the intrusion of mystical elements. Oleg’s mother Fira, who has some psychiatric disorder, also possesses a supernatural gift of drawing people the way they will look in the future, in ten or more years. When she was a girl, many relatives and  friends of the family came to her to pose for the prophetic portraits, and even paid money for that. The fun continued until one day she  was not able to fulfill the request of a man who wanted to see how he looked in eight years.  As Fira revealed,  there were just five years left for him. One cannot help but see the parallel between this mystical prophesy of death and a lethal medical diagnosis.

The three most important books the narrator acquires with Blonsky’s assistance are Varlam Shalamov’s Kolyma Tales, Rainer Maria Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, and Jens Peter Jacobsen’s Niels Lyhne.  Goldstein writes about each of these works at some length, but even without his explanations, the reader of the novel who has reached this point will be able to see their significance for the narrator given his background, ideas and aspirations. Kolyma Tales narrates one of the most horrible moments of history of the country in which he and his friends have come of age. Shalamov is the Russian Virgil offering to the reader a descent into the hell of Stalin’s labour camps. Whereas in other works on the subject, like Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, some aspects of camp labour are presented in the positive light as a source of meaning and self-actualisation for the dejected inmate, for Shalamov forced labour is a just a type of slow execution. Its only purpose is to wear out and degrade the prisoner until he succumbs to untimely death. Both Rilke’s and Jacobsen’s novels deal with the struggles, hopes and inevitable disillusionment of the aspiring poet who finds it hard to come to terms with the alienating society. It is important to remember that one of the genres mined by The Quiet Fields is the Künstlerroman, albeit the narrator’s formation as an artist, as opposed to that depicted in more conventional works of such kind, is shown  in non-linear, kaleidoscopic manner, with many gaps remaining unfilled.

The trio of intellectuals becomes just a duet after the tragic death of Oleg in a drowning accident. The two friends continue seeing each other, but  it’s not what it used to be. They slowly grow apart as Pavel becomes more and more obsessed with the Aeneid which he considers a prophetic book. He tries to predict the future by opening it at random and reading the arbitrary passage. The literary value of the poem gives way to its purported occult powers. Their walks together become rare until they cease meeting  altogether, restricting their communication to weekly phone conversations. After some time even the phone calls stop. When Pavel dies, the narrator is conveniently sick with flu, which gives him an excuse not to attend his funeral. Interaction with great writers and philosophers via books come easier to  Goldstein’s protagonist than human relationships in real life. Not that it is so uncommon among artists.

The story of three friends is just one of many recounted in The Quiet Fields. It stands out among others as it is the longest and the most fleshed-out narrative in the book. The nature of Goldstein’s novel is such that very often we get just a glimpse or hint of some event, and then it gives way to another before we become fully aware of what has just taken place. Some events and characters reappear later in the book, others disappear forever leaving to the reader a lingering taste of mystery. Besides that there are numerous set pieces of insightful commentary on various writers, artists, philosophers, and historical figures. The list of personalities discussed by Goldstein includes Bertold Brecht, Ernst Jünger, Giacomo Casanova, Iamblichus, Siyyid Ali Muhammad, Paul Scheerbart, Andy Warhol, Ferdinad II of the Two Sicilies, Garcilaso de la Vega, Witold Gombrowicz, Sergei Diaghilev, Sergei Kuriokhin, Louis Althusser and even Tupak Shakur. In the company of Goldstein’s inquisitive and critical mind, we discover a lot of fascinating facts and ideas. For instance, we learn why Andy Warhol’s photograph with a bulldog and a Roman bust counters the ancient doctrine of the great chain of being and also get to know the four important conclusions stemming from Garcilaso de la Vega’s description of the mummified Inca kings. The novel is full of little gems like these. Not less captivating are some ways in which the narrator gets hold of the books that provide him with food for thought, for sometimes the circumstances of acquiring a tome are tinged with the sense of mystery, of occult initiation. The case in point is his acquisition of a book with the writings of the Syrian Neoplatonist philosopher Iamblichus. The book is given to him by a mysterious barefoot man whom he meets in a forest. The narrator asks the man about the meaning of Nothing. After delivering a protracted monologue on the nature of being and reality that touches, among other things, on the philosophical teachings of Gautama Buddha, the artistic ambition of Ezra Pound, and the many-worlds interpretation of Hugh Everett III, the sage wanderer disappears in the woods  leaving the cloth-bound Iamblichus on the moss-covered stone he was sitting on just a while ago. The style of the wanderer’s speech fully conforms to the overall aesthetics of Goldstein’s novel: his ramblings are learned, convoluted and impressionistic. This is how, for example, he illustrates the impossibility of escaping the material world (please note that in no way my translation can do any justice to the original):

Where is the lie? It’s not so easy to explain, but I’ll try. As a sectarian immured in the masonry of the real, totally ignorant of anything but matter in the broad presence of its manifestations, – mettlesome cynic challenge – I was free as a bird, a flaneur on a voyeuristic walk,  everywhere finding the proof of my case. From The Capitals-talmuds, unread, leafed through out of boredom, from the orators’ speeches, radiochaos, strikes, from the newspaper columns with stock quotes and crime rates, from aviation, jazz, mustard gas, Rabelaisian devaluation and resurrection of money, from the tempo-rhythm of the city flooded by new iniquity (secret clubs, underground lupanars, Roman indecencies of the petite bourgeoisie of Weimar, night life opening the fan of sexual and racial exoticism for the first time surpassed the daytime in saturation), from the discontent of factory workers, from the political provocations, from the black weariness crying for the rabble-rousing to be fettered,  from the plebeian lies and violence there crept the red inflamed carcass of reality, live and complacently rotting meat bored by a million-headed worm, and even the cinema, lunar and theatrical, mistakenly chartered by doubles, psychosis, hypnosis, cocaine and morphine, lacerated him with hooks, thin like Chinese needles, like needles of embalmers.

On the last page of the novel there is the phrase “the morphine splits the text in two “. It is a grim reminder of the circumstances under which Goldstein was putting finishing touches to the manuscript of The Quiet Fields. Both as a linguistic tour-de-force and as a testimony of its author’s stoicism in the face of death, this book has a special place in contemporary Russian literature. I am not fazed in the least by the small print run of the edition that I have read: just 1,000 copies. It is true that Goldstein is little read in Russian-speaking countries and is almost unknown in the rest of the world. However, judging by his two novels which, when their time comes, will be keeping busy more than one generation of scholars, I personally have no doubt that his fabulous prose already belongs to the pantheon of eternity.

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Reading Zettel’s Traum: Week 13, pp. 127 – 132

Edgar Poe must have been ashamed of his last name. How come? Pagenstecher is certain he has ample evidence of that. First of all, there is the tale William Wilson whose beginning might betray its author’s preoccupations: ” Let me call myself, for the present, William Wilson. The fair page now lying before me need not be sullied with my real appellation.” What could possibly be wrong with “Poe”? you will ask. Everything! It does not take an etym-analysis genius to establish a relationship between “Poe” and “po”. The latter word stems from the French “pot de chambre” and means “chamber pot”.

At the bottom of page 127 there is a doodle of an erect penis. My first thought was that it had been a prank of the bookseller, but, as it turned out, it is indeed a facsimile of Arno Schmidt’s artistic endeavor. The appearance of this drawing is predicated, like lots of other things in Zettel’s Traum, on wordplay. In Poe’s poem Fairyland there is a line which reads “My soul is lolling on thy sighs!”. Pronounced in a lisping manner, it sounds “my thole is lolling on thy thighs”. So, what is “thole”? It is a pin on the gunwale of a boat which serves as fulcrum for an oar. Pagenstecher uses the German word “Riemen” when referring to an oar. The same word is also used as a vulgar term for the penis. (As an aside: that is why I am also looking forward to Woods’ translation. There are plenty of cases like this in the book, and on many occasions I find myself wondering: “How to say this in English without losing the intended effect?” Even a couple of puns could be a formidable task for any translator, but here we are talking thousands!)

The next topic of the conversation is the 19th century Irish poet Thomas Moore and his Oriental romance Lalla Rukh which was held in high regard by Poe. Pagenstecher briefly summarises the plot for the Jacobis who are not familiar with it. Of course, his retelling is infested with different etyms. For example, the name of the poet Feramorz with whom the Mughal princess Lalla Rukh falls in love suggests “faire+amours”. Daniel also singles out common motifs and similar symbols in Moore’s and Poe’s texts. Thus, he draws a parallel between Poe’s fays or fairies and Moore’s peris, beautiful supernatural creatures from Persian folklore that were believed to have descended from fallen angels. Pagenstecher finds these beings fascinating and devotes a lot of his rambling attention to their representation in Lalla Rukh. One of the more complex puns that gets created in the course of this discussion is “möse-pitrije Viehlosuff” which is a corrupted version of “miesepetrig Philosoph” (grumpy Philosopher) which contains möse (cunt), Vieh (cattle or beast), and Suff (boozing). What is also noteworthy is that we learn here about Pagenstecher’s attitude towards God, which does not come to us as a surprise: “GOd is completely un=interesting“.

to be continued

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Reading Zettel’s Traum: Week 12, pp. 117 – 126

Paul and Daniel discuss the merits of the two winsome mares: Fanchon I and Elle Veut who are none else than Franziska and her mother transformed into horses by Pagenstecher’s magic. At some point another transformation takes place. This time the men take equine shapes becoming imposing stallions James Powell and Danilo, whereas the ladies turn into dapper jockeys, cap, riding boots and all.  Now it’s their turn to exchange views about their mounts and their assessment does not turn out very flattering.

Back in their human forms, the discussants continue their conversation regarding Poe and his works. Pagenstecher distinguishes three stages of Poe’s theoretical introductions: 1. a wanderer in a maze;  2. the appearance of stage scenery coloured by sunset 3. the emergence of a woman or a female symbol. This is followed by yet another foray into Freudian theories, this time about repressed childhood experiences and their significance for sexual neurotics.

Pagenstecher talks about “the Janus effect” that takes place in Poe’s writing  when he allows his subconscious to approach the “wordcentre” (whatever it may mean); as a result, the text acquires an additional dimension represented by the network of etyms. This effect is unavoidable for an author in throes of creative rapture. Wilma does not agree that the intrusion of the subconscious in one’s text is always involuntary, mentioning the technique of automatic writing. As we know, it was employed by surrealists to stimulate the release of the subconscious desires in their works. She sees this type of writing as a productive technique that makes the subconscious “visible” to the reader, thus sparing them the need to over-analyse the text in search of hidden meanings.  Another objection to Pagenstecher’s methods is the fact that his reading of Poe does not differ much from a layman’s attempt at psychoanalysis.

Sure enough, Wilma’s skepticism only serves to stoke the fires of Pagenstecher’s eloquence. Producing counter-arguments like rabbits from a top hat, he gets on with his analysis. While doing it, he comes up with a couple of noteworthy aphoristic observations: 1. “when the subconscious is forced to speak, in the best case it starts to mumble etyms”; 2. “the dimmer the state, the more etym-filled  is the text”. Paul goes on to say that due to their complex and ambivalent nature, etyms can easily pass through the partition between consciousness and the unconscious. The super-ego does not try to stop them as they do not seem to pose any potential danger. In this context, an etym is not unlike a naked woman wearing a kitchen apron as seen from the front: she might me considered hauSfraulich=airpussylich (another scabrous pun playing with the pronunciation of the German word ehrpusselig (sensitive about one’s reputation)).

After dwelling on the consequences of interchanging some sounds in English (s -th, b -p, a-e), Pagenstecher subjects the verb “lolling” to etym-analysis featuring the predictable “lollipop”. This is followed by further discussion on the specific character of etyms which, compared to regular words, do not rely on orthography but rather on the pronunciation. And, of course, we realise that if we need just one vivid example of that, we don’t have to go too far: the text of Zettel’s Traum is the ultimate violation of all possible spelling rules.

to be continued

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Reading Zettel’s Traum: Week 11, pp.108 -116

This procession of shadows described by Poe in The Island of the Fay stimulates the fervid imagination of the narrator as well that of our etym analyst:

The shade of the trees fell heavily upon the water, and seemed to bury itself therein, impregnating the depths of the element with darkness. I fancied that each shadow, as the sun descended lower and lower, separated itself sullenly from the trunk that gave it birth, and thus became absorbed by the stream; while other shadows issued momently from the trees, taking the place of their predecessors thus entombed.

Wilma, who has firmly established herself as the staunch skeptic and challenger of Pagenstecher’s highfalutin conceits, does not see anything particular here except “the spectral images of Fairies”. The unabashed Daniel, however, continues mining the text for new etyms. He concludes his analysis by taking a twig and drawing on the ground what he calls “a magic circle”, which turns out to be some kind of diagram showing Poe’s major themes  through the prism of Pagnestecher’s theory. The diagram looks like a circle with lots of rays extending into all directions. The longest rays represent the borders of the five main thematic “sectors” of Poe’s literary heritage:

1. Observer and his mood

2. Cosmology

3. Putrefaction

4. Flora, Fauna, Population

5. Landscape

Pagenstecher examines each sector giving relevant examples, sometimes going off on a tangent. For instance the theme of putrefaction, which comprises all things morbid and impure (tombs, vaults, worms, plague etc.) leads him to the discussion of park latrines disguised as little temples. This topic allows him to bring up a fragment from German writer Jean Paul’s unfinished novel Flegeljahre (Adolescent Years). In it, one of the characters marvels at a splendid wooden pyramid embellishing the garden. What could be its significance? As it turns out, the majestic structure is nothing but a toilet.


Astronomical clock at Münster Cathedral

During this discussion Pagenstecher draws the attention of the others to the importance of repetition when it comes to the understanding and enjoyment of  art. No matter how dull certain repetitive processes may seem (Wilma brought the analogy of the re-appearing figures in the astronomical clock at Münster Cathedral), it is exactly thanks to them we are enabling ourselves to approach a true work of art. In his own words: “A piece of art that one needs to see=listen to only once to understand it completely is not a piece of art!”. This, by the way, might be read as a pre-emptive comment to the reader of Zettel’s Traum who by this point could be losing patience with the book on account of its enervating complexity.

It is not for nothing that Pagenstecher called the diagram drawn with the twig “a magic circle”. He gets the Jacobis to step inside.  They take hands and go round in a circle while Daniel is chanting the incantation which, predictably enough, proves to be one of Poe’s poems: The Valley Nis. This poem is not to be found in Poe’s standard collected works as it was considerably reworked to become The Valley of Unrest. Sure enough, the magic works: Wilma and Franziska turn into a pair of horses, whereas Paul transforms into a a horse trader extolling the numerous merits of the animals to Pagenstecher who assumes the role of the potential buyer.

to be continued

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