When the virus began to ravage the land, ripping families apart, taking brother from sister, mother from son, husband from wife, the children’s crusade began. At first, there were only the orphans who walked from village to village, but when the pestilence continued to kill, others joined who had lost a relative or a friend, and finally even children who had not lost anyone went with them. They walked by day and by night and they only rested long enough to gather strength so that they could move on. The bigger kids carried the smaller ones, who often were dozy and groggy from lack of sleep, and when those bigger kids needed to rest, their littler companions brought them drink and put palm leaves under their heads, which were still small by comparison with our heads. There was much love among the kids, as much love as necessary to hold them together and help the crusade grow, day by day, child by child, village by village and city by city. (Excerpt from: The Crusade, in: Revolution John, Oct 10, 2014)

Posted at 6:59pm and tagged with: crusade, children, ebola, revolutionjohn, virus,.

When the virus began to ravage the land, ripping families apart, taking brother from sister, mother from son, husband from wife, the children’s crusade began. At first, there were only the orphans who walked from village to village, but when the pestilence continued to kill, others joined who had lost a relative or a friend, and finally even children who had not lost anyone went with them. They walked by day and by night and they only rested long enough to gather strength so that they could move on. The bigger kids carried the smaller ones, who often were dozy and groggy from lack of sleep, and when those bigger kids needed to rest, their littler companions brought them drink and put palm leaves under their heads, which were still small by comparison with our heads. There was much love among the kids, as much love as necessary to hold them together and help the crusade grow, day by day, child by child, village by village and city by city. (Excerpt from: The Crusade, in: Revolution John, Oct 10, 2014)

»This is Andy. He is a sad android. Do you wonder why? He feels stupid. That makes Andy angry. Professor Challenger built Andy to help him with his research. But Andy just can’t seem to figure it out. What is his bloody problem? It is not the technology. It is not the knowledge. It is the method. Rachel Research is Professor Challengers best student. She knows all about methods. He asks her to switch Andy off and take his place. But this is not what happens: Instead of switching Andy off, Rachel teaches Andy research methods. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship if it was not for Marcky Menace. Marcky is Rachel’s boyfriend. He is a boxer. He has trouble keeping his temper.« (Script for: Research Methods For Androids).

Posted at 4:23pm and tagged with: GoAnimate, androids, professor challenger, Marcky Menace,.

»This is Andy. He is a sad android. Do you wonder why? He feels stupid. That makes Andy angry. Professor Challenger built Andy to help him with his research. But Andy just can’t seem to figure it out. What is his bloody problem? It is not the technology. It is not the knowledge. It is the method. Rachel Research is Professor Challengers best student. She knows all about methods. He asks her to switch Andy off and take his place. But this is not what happens: Instead of switching Andy off, Rachel teaches Andy research methods. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship if it was not for Marcky Menace. Marcky is Rachel’s boyfriend. He is a boxer. He has trouble keeping his temper.« (Script for: Research Methods For Androids).

»At twelve, I had begun to think about death as a possibility of life. I had just found a new book: The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. At my age, I was perhaps a little young for this book, but I’d been able to read since I was five and I had read it before. The painful passivity of Hans Castorp during his seven years’ sanatorial stint got to me. Below the polished prose I could sense the presence of the reaper and his unhurried rites. In that summer, I first noticed all the weirdos on the street, and I wondered if I would be one of them. Who decided who and what you became? Who’d look after me if I made a wrong step? I was beginning to lose trust in my parents in this regard: they were fornicating without thinking that I might hear them. They were probably ready for me to move out. I often feared for my sanity then, because I experienced myself as living with two minds in two bodies: I was both surging with energy and constantly sleepy. It was as if I was stuck in an egg: my legs were kicking and my arms were holding on to the shell. Stonefaced, I looked in the mirror for long periods of time waiting for a spontaneous eruption of my skin or the emergence of a monster that had lain dormant behind my eyes. In those days of summer, I couldn’t stand my home, not only because my progenitors had rekindled the hot passion of their quickly withering youth, but also because I longed for the calm presence of books. I found what I needed in a local book store whose owner let me grumble, browse or just doze with a novel on my knees. The shop favored borrowing over buying, which was agreeable to my meagre allowance. It was built into an old Kreuzberg flat that had seen much better days. Most apartments in Kreuzberg had. There were sofas and arm chairs to rest upon, and there were mysterious corners and forbidden doors to entertain my fantasy life. Over the period of a few weeks, I had investigated all rooms and nooks, I had lifted every wall carpet and painting looking for a hidden safe and I had opened small and large doors everywhere except one, a bright blue door that was in a short hallway between two other rooms. I’d always found it locked. If I wanted to own this place, I had to conquer this door also, and I had to do it alone.« (From: The Preparation, in: Tales From Another Country, 2014, pp. 57-71).

Posted at 9:53pm and tagged with: Another Country, Kreuzberg, Anthology, Hans Castorp,.

»At twelve, I had begun to think about death as a possibility of life. I had just found a new book: The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. At my age, I was perhaps a little young for this book, but I’d been able to read since I was five and I had read it before. The painful passivity of Hans Castorp during his seven years’ sanatorial stint got to me. Below the polished prose I could sense the presence of the reaper and his unhurried rites. In that summer, I first noticed all the weirdos on the street, and I wondered if I would be one of them. Who decided who and what you became? Who’d look after me if I made a wrong step? I was beginning to lose trust in my parents in this regard: they were fornicating without thinking that I might hear them. They were probably ready for me to move out. I often feared for my sanity then, because I experienced myself as living with two minds in two bodies: I was both surging with energy and constantly sleepy. It was as if I was stuck in an egg: my legs were kicking and my arms were holding on to the shell. Stonefaced, I looked in the mirror for long periods of time waiting for a spontaneous eruption of my skin or the emergence of a monster that had lain dormant behind my eyes. In those days of summer, I couldn’t stand my home, not only because my progenitors had rekindled the hot passion of their quickly withering youth, but also because I longed for the calm presence of books. I found what I needed in a local book store whose owner let me grumble, browse or just doze with a novel on my knees. The shop favored borrowing over buying, which was agreeable to my meagre allowance. It was built into an old Kreuzberg flat that had seen much better days. Most apartments in Kreuzberg had. There were sofas and arm chairs to rest upon, and there were mysterious corners and forbidden doors to entertain my fantasy life. Over the period of a few weeks, I had investigated all rooms and nooks, I had lifted every wall carpet and painting looking for a hidden safe and I had opened small and large doors everywhere except one, a bright blue door that was in a short hallway between two other rooms. I’d always found it locked. If I wanted to own this place, I had to conquer this door also, and I had to do it alone.« (From: The Preparation, in: Tales From Another Country, 2014, pp. 57-71).

»The old man thought solely lonely, admittedly prudent, but rarely happy thoughts; thoughts as sturdy, as serenely savvy, as sorrowfully stable in their shrewd sanity that a tree in winter might have thought them if a tree could think. His thoughts and feelings had converged so that they were almost indistinguishable from one another: in his mind, ideas languished motionlessly, and had done for decades. Emotions no longer set anything into motion. Language, too, once a weapon, a sword, a skill, had become a cloak to wrap oneself in, against the dying of one’s day, against the emptying of one’s mind. Matter mattered less now. Vanity vanished. What had once seemed ungainly and enormous turned into ephemera.  The fabric of everything lay bare, open to the seeing eye, its threads terrifyingly thin. Being otherworldly in this world was no feast for the weak.«

Posted at 2:30pm and tagged with: ephemera, being, nothingness, age, speh, marcus speh,.

»The old man thought solely lonely, admittedly prudent, but rarely happy thoughts; thoughts as sturdy, as serenely savvy, as sorrowfully stable in their shrewd sanity that a tree in winter might have thought them if a tree could think. His thoughts and feelings had converged so that they were almost indistinguishable from one another: in his mind, ideas languished motionlessly, and had done for decades. Emotions no longer set anything into motion. Language, too, once a weapon, a sword, a skill, had become a cloak to wrap oneself in, against the dying of one’s day, against the emptying of one’s mind. Matter mattered less now. Vanity vanished. What had once seemed ungainly and enormous turned into ephemera.  The fabric of everything lay bare, open to the seeing eye, its threads terrifyingly thin. Being otherworldly in this world was no feast for the weak.«

»I went through life not too unhappily even though (or perhaps because?) there was a fish stuck in my cheek & I had a mole that looked like a freshly fallen tear. I had often noticed strangers looking askance at me, as if they were trying to decide whether the mole was not a beauty spot, cunningly applied to garner attention & to make others look at me which otherwise, because of my plain appearance might not have happened. Whenever I noticed this, I spoke to them about my malaise. And if I didn’t, my fish would chime in as fish do, without too much thinking ahead, just babbling really, driveling small drops of seawater in which I saw a tiny reflection of my entire life up to this point. Not a poetic, not a prosaic life, just a life like the lives of millions around me. Except that I wondered more about stuff. If I didn’t, I became sad & fell into a hole & then it would take the fish’s fierce yapping to get me out of it. It was symbolic that’s what it was, symbolic &  sybaritic & I filled many pages explaining it all to my psychiatrist whom I abandoned after she proposed a morganatic marriage.«

Posted at 1:08pm and tagged with: fish, symbolism, tears,.

»I went through life not too unhappily even though (or perhaps because?) there was a fish stuck in my cheek & I had a mole that looked like a freshly fallen tear. I had often noticed strangers looking askance at me, as if they were trying to decide whether the mole was not a beauty spot, cunningly applied to garner attention & to make others look at me which otherwise, because of my plain appearance might not have happened. Whenever I noticed this, I spoke to them about my malaise. And if I didn’t, my fish would chime in as fish do, without too much thinking ahead, just babbling really, driveling small drops of seawater in which I saw a tiny reflection of my entire life up to this point. Not a poetic, not a prosaic life, just a life like the lives of millions around me. Except that I wondered more about stuff. If I didn’t, I became sad & fell into a hole & then it would take the fish’s fierce yapping to get me out of it. It was symbolic that’s what it was, symbolic &  sybaritic & I filled many pages explaining it all to my psychiatrist whom I abandoned after she proposed a morganatic marriage.«

«When the train came, I got on and as it was pulling out of the station, a trembling electric finger, I thought of my agent whom I had seen earlier that day. I had shared my idea for a new book that began with a young man, my thinly disguised alter ego, who is obsessed with a neighbor, a woman, of whom he only ever sees half a naked breast because of the way his apartment is situated across hers. I thought of this setup as a kind of “Rear Window” with all the possibilities of a Hitchcock thriller. My agent didn’t like it. She reassured me that she still thought of me as the writer German literature needed to attain a level of excellence long dusted and forgotten in this country. But this, she said, wasn’t it. Not yet, she added. But it’s sexy, secretive and sensual, I argued. Isn’t that what female readers want? She laughed and let me see her new implants. My agent is sixty but looks like thirty. I’m thirty and I feel like sixty. Together we’re ninety. That’s the kind of algebra I apply to my work which may explain why I can’t turn in my tax reports on time.»

[Read full story: A Good Day, in: What Weekly, a Baltimore magazine].

Posted at 9:13pm and tagged with: What Weekly, Baltimore, Speh, short story, demon, writer,.

«When the train came, I got on and as it was pulling out of the station, a trembling electric finger, I thought of my agent whom I had seen earlier that day. I had shared my idea for a new book that began with a young man, my thinly disguised alter ego, who is obsessed with a neighbor, a woman, of whom he only ever sees half a naked breast because of the way his apartment is situated across hers. I thought of this setup as a kind of “Rear Window” with all the possibilities of a Hitchcock thriller. My agent didn’t like it. She reassured me that she still thought of me as the writer German literature needed to attain a level of excellence long dusted and forgotten in this country. But this, she said, wasn’t it. Not yet, she added. But it’s sexy, secretive and sensual, I argued. Isn’t that what female readers want? She laughed and let me see her new implants. My agent is sixty but looks like thirty. I’m thirty and I feel like sixty. Together we’re ninety. That’s the kind of algebra I apply to my work which may explain why I can’t turn in my tax reports on time.»
[Read full story: A Good Day, in: What Weekly, a Baltimore magazine].

Text from: Walker Percy, “Delta Factor” in: Message in a Bottle (1975). Image: Martian, Berlin Prenzlauer Berg, August 2012.

Posted at 11:01pm and tagged with: graffiti, walker percy, delta factor, message, 1975, berlin, prenzlauer berg,.


Text from: Walker Percy, “Delta Factor” in: Message in a Bottle (1975). Image: Martian, Berlin Prenzlauer Berg, August 2012.

BOOK BAKING: »What is as much yours as you are yourself,and what is as little yours as you are yourself?« Augustine asked long ago, and we begin planning a book without having an answer ready, with an open mouth, a fly catching orifice. The first step in writing is to bring the people to life on the page. Before you can do that you must imagine them, live with them in your mind, and long before that you must dream them up like a patisseur dreams up cupcakes without worrying about customers, but simply to elevate his own consciousness, coddle his cupcakeness, to entertain his heart, to sweeten the creative deal lest it becomes a deal with the devil, generating beauty not out of reverie and substance but out of hubris and soil. The paradox of all art: is it just for me, or does it go beyond me? Alas, there is not the tiniest space left between those two tempers. The year is 1000 A.D. The character at hand, on the tip of one’s pen as it were, is a young woman of no more than 15 years, her name is Gisela, who one day as if in a dream becomes queen of a brand new kingdom. But it’s not an altogether pleasant dream: if it were a piece of music it would be an overture, an opening to an unknown future – the first queen of a non-nation, a horde, even if she’s only a girl and comes from far away like a fairy princess, has no power over the minds of the subjects to fall back on — she feels as alone as an orphan, and she is in dire need of an angel who advises her to keep calm and carry on, to uphold one’s faith at the bloody birth of the new realm. She’s small and young in years, but her fate weighs heavily on the globe: it’s going to be a triumph for christendom, and this part of the story is true. 

[click on pic to continue reading; image: St Apollonia by Albrecht Dürer]

Posted at 9:40am and tagged with: Gisela, medieval, book, blog, publishing, speh, marcus speh,.

BOOK BAKING: »What is as much yours as you are yourself,and what is as little yours as you are yourself?« Augustine asked long ago, and we begin planning a book without having an answer ready, with an open mouth, a fly catching orifice. The first step in writing is to bring the people to life on the page. Before you can do that you must imagine them, live with them in your mind, and long before that you must dream them up like a patisseur dreams up cupcakes without worrying about customers, but simply to elevate his own consciousness, coddle his cupcakeness, to entertain his heart, to sweeten the creative deal lest it becomes a deal with the devil, generating beauty not out of reverie and substance but out of hubris and soil. The paradox of all art: is it just for me, or does it go beyond me? Alas, there is not the tiniest space left between those two tempers. The year is 1000 A.D. The character at hand, on the tip of one’s pen as it were, is a young woman of no more than 15 years, her name is Gisela, who one day as if in a dream becomes queen of a brand new kingdom. But it’s not an altogether pleasant dream: if it were a piece of music it would be an overture, an opening to an unknown future – the first queen of a non-nation, a horde, even if she’s only a girl and comes from far away like a fairy princess, has no power over the minds of the subjects to fall back on — she feels as alone as an orphan, and she is in dire need of an angel who advises her to keep calm and carry on, to uphold one’s faith at the bloody birth of the new realm. She’s small and young in years, but her fate weighs heavily on the globe: it’s going to be a triumph for christendom, and this part of the story is true. 
[click on pic to continue reading; image: St Apollonia by Albrecht Dürer]

EASTER ESSENCE

At Easter the common folks bring their eggs to the Lord. The lidless  leveret lies in the grave, its open eyes directed upwards in death. The egg goes into the Easter bread: it is blamed on the lagomorph. Mixed images: resurrection and spawning, the hare as chicken, the sidestepping and egg painting, the instinct to flee before the crucifixion and after, Saturday’s search for the buried, the Hidden, and above all the sweetness rising from the sadness like a naked fog and dissolving on the tongue when the chocolate egg melts. Stubbornly we move to safety from the power of the old pictures. Rites and processions take place in backyards: their participants are like ghosts. Sung incantations that connect heaven and earth vanish as soon as the first warmth of spring arrives. What is the essence? What is the truth of our time? What forms the center of the egg whose center is an egg?

[German original: Versuch über Ostern; en français: essence de Pâques]

Posted at 11:33am and tagged with: Easter, egg, hare, ritual, procession,.

EASTER ESSENCE
At Easter the common folks bring their eggs to the Lord. The lidless  leveret lies in the grave, its open eyes directed upwards in death. The egg goes into the Easter bread: it is blamed on the lagomorph. Mixed images: resurrection and spawning, the hare as chicken, the sidestepping and egg painting, the instinct to flee before the crucifixion and after, Saturday’s search for the buried, the Hidden, and above all the sweetness rising from the sadness like a naked fog and dissolving on the tongue when the chocolate egg melts. Stubbornly we move to safety from the power of the old pictures. Rites and processions take place in backyards: their participants are like ghosts. Sung incantations that connect heaven and earth vanish as soon as the first warmth of spring arrives. What is the essence? What is the truth of our time? What forms the center of the egg whose center is an egg?
[German original: Versuch über Ostern; en français: essence de Pâques]
…The Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” —Gen 11,5-7
   If the bible says the truth, then there’s something potentially dangerous about speaking only one language. What could it be? ”Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” if our tongues were no longer split in different directions?

   In Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the Babel fish, a telepathic universal translator, is described as ”a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.” Though the argument is about as deep as the rest of the book, it suggests that language may be linked to a “Deep Magic” as C.S. Lewis might have said. What is the nature of this magic? Can it be made or unmade? Can it be learnt or must it be inherited?

   Language clearly is more than sound waves, just as mastering language is more than learning patterns, just as speaking is more than being a parrot. Language can set the tone for our dialogue with the divine: in Franz Werfel’s novel Song of Bernadette, the apparition of the Virgin Mary speaks not in any language but in Occitan, the vernacular spoken by the poor people of Lourdes. But which of the many tongues spoken is shared by God, if any?

Posted at 11:29pm and tagged with: gustave dore, tower of babel, language, bilingual, writing, writer, awkwordpapercut, speh, sperm, TYFYS,.


…The Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” —Gen 11,5-7


   If the bible says the truth, then there’s something potentially dangerous about speaking only one language. What could it be? ”Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” if our tongues were no longer split in different directions?   In Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the Babel fish, a telepathic universal translator, is described as ”a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.” Though the argument is about as deep as the rest of the book, it suggests that language may be linked to a “Deep Magic” as C.S. Lewis might have said. What is the nature of this magic? Can it be made or unmade? Can it be learnt or must it be inherited?   Language clearly is more than sound waves, just as mastering language is more than learning patterns, just as speaking is more than being a parrot. Language can set the tone for our dialogue with the divine: in Franz Werfel’s novel Song of Bernadette, the apparition of the Virgin Mary speaks not in any language but in Occitan, the vernacular spoken by the poor people of Lourdes. But which of the many tongues spoken is shared by God, if any?


[Read on: ”NEGOTIATING BABEL—A BILINGUAL WRITER’S RELATIONSHIP TO LANGUAGE, Awkword Paper Cut]