Reading Zettel’s Traum: Week 8, pp. 72-81

More meandering peroration on Undine, nymphs, water and labia. The dirty puns keep appearing at a steady pace. For example: Musicalisch=mösiculisch (Möse is the German for “cunt” and culus is the Latin for “ass” (cf. French cul, Italian culo).

The company crosses the brook using stepping stones. Pagenstecher enquires Franziska about her favourite book. Most probably tongue-in-cheek, she replies that it is The Canon of Eclipses by Austrian astronomer Theodor von Oppolzer. The book is a compilation of lunar and solar eclipses between 1207 BC and 2161 AD. At the time of its publication, 1887, it was the largest collection of the respective data with more than 13000 eclipses described. Ridiculous etym interpretation of the title and the author follows, in which “Oppolzer”, for example, refers to “upholsterer” and “opportunity”.

Next, Pagenstecher suggests to Franziska some kind of repetition game in which she should say the same sentence ten times. The sentence in question is “Ich soll meine Reize nicht gar so gewandt verwenden” (I absolutely shouldn’t use my charms so deftly). Upon each repetition the phrase mutates slightly and eventually turns into the following: “Ich soll meine Reize ohnGewand Dän nich zuwenDän” (I should not give my charms without clothes to Dan). This game, like most of the verbal pyrotechnics employed by Daniel is aimed at exposing the hidden subconscious messages of the speaker. Thus Franziska’s desire for the mature and intellectual Pagenstecher is laid bare.

They go past a ploughman with “a face like a cowpat” who is ripping open “the abdominal epidermis of Mother Earth”. The labourer is accompanied by a woman, most probably his wife, with breasts “like 2 fat geese”.


A page from a 16th-century Aljamiado manuscript. Image source.

Pagenstecher opposes Wilma’s conviction in the diversity and richness of Poe’s language. Whether or not he is playing the devil’s advocate here is difficult to say. What is clear is that Pagenstecher’s attitude towards the writer is anything but reverential, and he is always ready to put a wet blanket on Wilma’s adoration. Anyway, when it comes to Poe, says Daniel, one should rather discuss the poverty (Armut) of  his texts. You will not find any description of winter in Poe, nor are there any children featured. In a fascinating digression about etym analysis, Pagenstecher likens its practitioner to a Leverrier  contemplating multiple soap-bubble worlds, who can eventually see the single phenomenon lurking in this multiplicity and to whom the proof of the aljamiado is revealed. (Urbain Le Verrier was a famous French mathematician who specifically dealt with celestial mechanics. Aljamiado refers to any manuscript in which a European language is transcribed in Arabic letters.) Returning to the paucity of images and themes in Poe’s works, Pagenstecher also singles out the ever-present wanderer and the frequently encountered “maze sensation” (Labyrinth=Gefühl), that is, those situations in which a character feels as if walking through a maze. To prove his point, Daniel quotes from The Journal of Julius Rodman, The Island of Fay, A Tale of the Ragged Mountains, and The Domain of Arnheim. The image of mist or vapour is also overused in many of Poe’s stories. In general, as Pagenstecher points out, Poe overindulges in the motifs of intricacy, complexity, tortuousness and the like.  Hence the scatological pun furzwikkelt which combines verzwickt (intricate), wickeln (to wrap) and Furz (fart).

to be continued

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