Reading Zettel’s Traum: Week 4, pp. 33-41

All four leave Daniel’s house to continue the conversation in the Field of Terror. Pagenstecher proposes to examine the mysterious language of Tsalal in Pym. He equates “anamoo-moo” with the Hebrew word “anamim” from the Book of Genesis, which according to him, stands for “land of north”. Thus, the language of Tsalal is just corrupted Hebrew. He also maintains that the word “tsalal” has been derived from the Hebrew “zalmon”, which means “dark” or “shadowy”. As for “lama-lama” shouted by the aboriginals of the island, it means “a lot of meat”, as the famous city was also called “Beit-lahem” – house of meat. “Tekeli-li” can be traced to “tekeleth” and stands for “blue”.


Engraving showing Joseph Smith receiving the Golden Plates and other artefacts from Moroni, 1893

The Book of Mormon, and its author Joseph Smith are discussed. Pagenstecher believes that Poe read the book and it had influence on his writing. Classical scholar Charles Anthon is also mentioned. Poe highly regarded him, and both maintained correspondence. In the right-hand margin, an excerpt from Pearl of Great Price, one of the four standard works of the LDS Church, relates how Charles Anthon gave his authentication to a fragment from the Book of Mormon. The fragment was a purported translation  of a text from the golden plates given to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni. When the scholar learned about this controversial origin, he tore up the authentication, saying that angels didn’t exist.

Mordecai Manuel Noah’s attempt to found a Jewish colony at Grand Island is briefly narrated. This 19th century utopia ended in failure, but can be regarded now as an important precursor of the later Zionist ambition that led to the establishment of modern Jewish state in Palestine.

Poe is revealed to be a hungarophile. The name of Imre Thököly, whose visage, as we remember, was depicted on the medal Pagenstecher gave to Paul, is brought up again. Franziska wants to see the medal, which she calls  “thaler”.  Just by the look of it, it’s hard to say whether it’s a coin or a medal, as there are no any numbers on it. In different sources it has been called both. Some Schmidtian wordplay, like “stockings &  sandals […] shocking &  scandalous” is on display here.

Recollection and remembrance is another important subject tackled next. There are two extensive quotations on the matter that take up most of the space on page 41. The first is by Freud, in which he explains the selective mechanism of remembering and how it is related to the childhood impressions that have been buried deeply in the subconscious. The second quotation is from  Scattered Leaves by Johann Gottfried Herder. Herder writes about false memories: remembering places one has never been to or people one has never seen. Similarly to Freud, Herder argues that the explanation of this condition should be sought in a person’s childhood. This feeling is brought about by the return of childhood fantasies, inventions, and game scenarios long since forgotten, but never completely erased from the mind.

At this point the Jacobis not only ask Pagenstecher to use as little psychoanalysis in his examination of Poe’s works as possible, but go as far as suggesting that he abandons his etym theory altogether. Pagenstecher’s answer to that is not surprising at all: if you give up on the interpretation of dreams and etyms, you might as well give up on Edgar Allan Poe.

to be continued

This entry was posted in Reading Zettel's Traum and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s