Reading Zettel’s Traum: Week 9, pp. 82-96

The motifs of complexity, labyrinthine tortuousness and fogginess inevitably lead to those of vertigo, intoxication, and hallucinations. The roots of this maze-feeling are to be sought in the atmosphere of the cluttered backstage to which Poe was exposed when he was a baby. What with all the “Gerumplgerümpl” of the props. (Gerumpel – rumble, Gerümpel – junk).

Pagenstecher points out the same paucity and lack of variety when it comes to Poe’s landscapes: usually there is a valley, a single crooked tree, and fog.  As for water, it is overwhelmingly present in many of his works in all possible shapes and forms. The next topics of the discussion are Poe’s favourite colours ( which are yellow and red) and the scents described in his tales.

The four discussants enter a village. They come to a village shop. Paul and Daniel get inside and chat while perusing various goods. Pagenstecher speaks about the “duplication” (Zweiteilung) of Poe’s texts. This concept refers to different theoretical asides, prefaces and interludes that “bisect” the works in question. Daniel gives psychoanalytical explanation to this peculiarity of Poe’s writing. This rambling theorising was Poe’s way to gratify his Super-Ego and get its permission to channel into the texts his fantasies and dreams. They say hello to the shopkeeper Frau Schurzfleisch whom Paul calls under his breath “Adwhorable Krietscher”. The second word combines the English “creature” and perhaps the German “Kriechtier” (reptile). Then we have some interesting variations on the expression “business is business”: “pussynäss iss pussynäss”  (nass is wet), “boosiness is boosiness”, and “bushynest ist bushynest”.

The discussion returns to the subject of smells, this time not so pleasant. Different aspects of “goat smell” are mentioned. After that the men talk about the etyms related to “labyrinth”, “sinuous” ,”err”, “vague” and “vapors”.

The men leave the shop. A conversation between  Franziska and Pagenstecher follows. It has been  sparked by the latter’s remark that she seems to be as full of biblical  sayings as “a dog is full of fleas”. It turns out that she had to prepare a school assignment on the book in the Bible that mattered most to her. She has chosen Sirach or The Book of Ecclesiasticus because of its brevity. A dark-brown dog appears. Franziska is afraid of the animal, but Pagenstecher calms her down and talks to the dog which proves to be quite friendly.

Wilma asks Pagenstecher to return to the analysis of Poe’s texts and suggests The Island of the Fay for a more detailed scrutiny.

to be continued

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