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The Emperor’s Invention

A couple of years before the débâcle --- as implicit within --- Louis-Napoléon meditated, which is what he was best at, some wish-fulfilment . An accomplished author, his only known fiction had been, in hereditary fashion, official pronouncements.

 

 

'Plot of a Novel by the Emperor'

 

  "M. Benoît, an honest grocer, residing tn the Rue de la Lune, left, in 1847, for America. After having travelled in the countries extending from Hudson's Bay to the Mississippi, he returned to France in April, 1868, having been nearly nineteen years out of the country. He had been only vaguely informed as to the events which had taken place in France since 1848. Some French refugees had told him that, if he visited France, he would find it crushed under a system of despotism, with poverty abounding everywhere; a France, in fact, very different from that he left flourishing under the reign of Louis Phillippe. Our friend Benoît arrives at Brest in a trans-Atlantic steamer, full of uncertainties, regrets, and apprehensions. 'What are those black-looking vessels, so ugly when compared with the beautiful sailing vessels that I have left behind me ?' he asks of the first sailor he meets. 'Why,' replies the sailor, 'they are iron-clad men-of-war, the Emperor's invention; covered in iron, they are impregnable; and this transformation has destroyed, to a certain extent, the supremacy of the English fleet on the seas.'   'That may be possible; but I am sorry for our old ships, with their poetical masts and sails.' [ On the margin, opposite the latter phrase, are written these words : "Passports suppressed." ] He sees the crowd rushing to the Court-house to record their votes. Astonishment at witnessing the existence of universal suffrage; astonishment at the railways which run throughout the whole of the country, and at the telegraph. Arrived in Paris; embellishments. The Octroi ( city dues ) carried to the fortifications. He wishes to make some purchases, which are cheaper, in consequence of the Treaty of Commerce; some half-price, &c. He fancies that there are a number of writers in prison. Error. No disturbances; no political prisoners; no exiles. No more preventative detentions; acceleration of trial; branding suppressed; civil death suppressed; Society for Assistance to the Aged; asylums at Vincennes; coalitions; Police de Roulage suppressed; military service shortened, pay increased, medal instituted, pension augmented, reserve increasing the regular force; funds for infirm priests; arrest for debt; brokers; a tradesman who sent his assistant to buy and sell goods was arrested; Councils-General."

 

The Secret Documents of the Second Empire. Pub. by the Commission of the Govt. of National Defence. L. 1871 Translated from the French by T. Curry.

 

 

Bivouac devant le Bourget, après le combat du 21 Décembre 1870 - 1872

Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville --- Bivouac devant le Bourget

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No Child Left Behind

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(Generalia, High Germany, Manners not Morals, Melancholy, Self Writ, The Enemy, The King of Terrors, War)

The ongo­ing sep­ar­ate war the United States is waging to erad­ic­ate the Gad­dafi clan by tar­get­ing it’s smal­lest mem­bers pro­ceeds apace with the suc­cess­ful tar­geted killing of some more of his young­est des­cend­ants, “I Do it for the Gip­per.” Wig­gum mur­mured as he gave the order, con­tinu­ing his sed­u­lous quest to ful­fil the man­dates of his Repub­lic­an ment­ors. Yet, equally impress­ive the Chica­go Hit he ordered on the demon­ic bin Laden, another death fore­told, actu­ally as well as achiev­ing the primary pur­pose  —  gain­ing votes from those scream­ing hordes who would pub­licly cel­eb­rate a death  —  was the final act in Interpol’s War­rant to cap­ture the demon­ic bin Laden, which was first issued in ’98 at the request of… Libya.

 

One might think that how­ever tra­gic the deaths on 9/11  —  the destruc­tion of the Towers sans deaths would merely be a bless­ing, as would be vir­tu­ally every build­ing since 1920 ( but includ­ing the deaths of all foul present mod­ern­ist archi­tects and scum bas­tard build­ing work­ers every­where who des­troyed the old and erec­ted the point­less vile con­crete new )  —  the swap of 30,000 Afgh­ani civil­ians since would pla­cate the manes of the 3000 murdered then

Any­way, for the demon­ic bin Laden, the present choices are: that he was either dead long ago in the Caves of Tora Bora; dead from his numer­ous ail­ments ( which included Marfan’s, kid­ney dis­ease, liv­er dis­ease etc. etc.); killed in Abot­tabad; or snatched for a life of impris­on­ment and tor­ture under the aus­pices of the venge­ful state  —  which has not treated those on Guantá­namo, ever unclosed yet, whose guilt in much less culp­able crimes than those of bin Laden was unproven, at all well. Or he may have escaped and a double killed, yet his cha­ris­ma and mys­tique van­ished.

The ‘DNA evid­ence’ is as value­less as any­thing else the pro­pa­ganda machine issues, since we have to rely on, the retrieved bits actu­ally com­ing from the corpse in Abot­tabad, the match­ing being done by the state who killed him, and the con­trol sample actu­ally hav­ing been taken from his sister’s corpse  —  bear­ing in mind that it was recently dis­covered that the piece of skull held by the Rus­si­ans which they alleged was that of Hitler really belonged to some poor woman  —  and that in all reports the admin­is­tra­tion con­trols what inform­a­tion is released, and how­ever gen­er­ous they are in releas­ing in suc­ces­sion utterly dif­fer­ent stor­ies, this means believ­ing in the good faith of Obama, a man rarely cap­able of under­stand­ing, let alone telling, truth; the Pentagon; and the vari­ous state secur­ity forces. One thing that is cer­tain is that the corpse, real or not, was actu­ally about his height: since the killers had omit­ted, under­stand­ably enough, to bring along a tape meas­ure, one of them of a sim­il­ar length lay down besides the body to provide a datum.

And even if the event is broadly true, whil­st the raid was a cred­it to the hit squad, killing a bewildered old man was evid­ently pre­ferred to cap­ture, as exe­cu­tion of the unright­eous; espe­cially since they said that any­thing less than utter sub­mis­sion  —  dif­fi­cult to man­age for the least alarmed when being shot at  — didn’t qual­i­fy as sur­render, and that attempt­ing to retreat, as was the demon­ic bin Laden before he was rubbed out proved res­ist­ance. Since when they killed this sick old fel­low crawl­ing on the floor, in front of his 12 yr-old daugh­ter, he seemed incap­able of a fight to the death with tooth and nail, being unguarded and unarmed, which seems extraordin­ary care­less­ness on the part of a supervil­lain.

 

While this affair reminds one of the hor­ri­fy­ing 2004 murder of Shiekh Yassin, which tem­por­ar­ily changed my inter­net sig­na­tures to:

If you could have heard the old man scream as he fell, and the noise of his bones upon the pave­ment !’

[ from The Story Of The Young Man With The Cream Tarts by RLS ]

&

I have to kill a 67-yr-old man
Con­sid­er­ing he’s para­ple­gic, should I choose a knife fight ? Or as he’s blind, it might be pis­tols at dawn: in order to demon­strate my sheer fight­ing cour­age per­haps I should use a heli­copter gun­ship when his wheel­chair is exit­ing morn­ing pray­ers.

the men­tion of dreary old Adolf may as well include here my very favour­ite joke, as told in Ger­many in late ’45, and per­haps almost rel­ev­ant in this mat­ter:

 

When they found the Führer’s body, there was a little note attached: ‘I was nev­er a Nazi.’

 

 
Down in the Val­ley

And with all this cav­il­ling, the fact remains the aging pris­on­er in Abot­tabad was wist­fully plan­ning yet more wacky may­hem: his com­puter files, as released by the admin­is­tra­tion showed his metic­u­lous plan­ning for a new atro­city. “…was look­ing into try­ing to tip a train by tam­per­ing with the rails so that the train would fall off the track at either a val­ley or a bridge.”; yet worse, this was to be spe­cific­ally aimed at Amtrak’s 805 km per hour trains  —  which I’ll assume can cross the con­tin­ent in three and a half hours  —  no doubt as the dole­ful plumes of smoke rose from the val­ley below the opera-glass gaz­ing con­spir­at­ors would toss their tophats into the air and fondle their waxed mous­taches whil­st cack­ling fiendishly.

 

For someone who hated Amer­ica so, I’m guess­ing he had very little idea of daily life in Amer­ica; let alone Amtrak.

 

And at the last the final ques­tion remains: What sort of per­son is ter­ri­fied by a weird old loony such as bin Laden ?

 

 

Pretty Locomotive

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The Little Cult

As President Wiggum details yet another bombing of a muslim country for their own good --- I swear, part of America's current mission policy statement is to rain death from the clouds upon each and every country in the world, in turn and prolly ending up with themselves --- it can't hurt to visit one of my favourite passages, from Herbert Gorman's magnificent 1947 fictionalization of L'Affaire Boulanger, Brave General, painting the general's unfortunate -- in consequence --- visit to Prince Napoleon's Chateau at Prangins, in the canton of Vaud [ Obit ]. When did a Plon-Plon benefit anyone ? Suitable no doubt since Obama shares with Georges his amiable nullity, combined even yet with the fading aura of one also once claimed as messiah who brought death and dictatorial misery as travelling companions.

Yanks of a liberal disposition now try to disassociate themselves and Bush-Lite from any suspicion of Obamamania, claiming that it was their opponents who fastened the unreal expectations of a new dispensation upon the reputation of a remarkably shifty candidate and soon to be dilettante president, yet none who actually lived through November of '08 will forget the revolting genuflections and hosannas which accompanied that victory; like Boulanger, who twisted in turn to solicit support from correct legitimists and the slippery factions who composed the body politic of the corrupt Third Republic, orleanists, bonapartists, socialists, clericals etc. etc., all realising in turn that he lacked spirit to do good for any, and not even for himself, the president courted foolishly his alleged enemies for bi-partisan support without having much of a plan for even the semblance of victory. As to whether being a hollow man is better than being a criminal worshipped war-lord, I can't say; but trying to be both is a respectable recipe for disaster.

 

 

As Gorman includes: In Politics one insisted to the last that one's party was winning, and when one's party did not win one spent the the next week inventing extraneous excuses for the defeat. The simple fact that one's party had lost because it had not received as many votes as the other fellow's party was never a conclusive explanation in itself. Politics, it appeared, was a constant self-justification. If I had done that, if I had done this, if the question had been properly presented, if my agent in that particular place... if the funds had been distributed as... if... if... if... Ah, that was politics. It was an absurd game of chess with crazy moves and cheating antagonists who stole your pawns when you were not looking. There was more politics, she thought, in republics than there were in kingdoms or empires for the simple reason that in republics there was no definitive iron hoof to stamp it out. That was good. So everybody said. The People spoke. Sometimes they spoke in a dozen clashing voices and nothing was resolved, or, if was resolved, it took a long time and the resolution lost a part of its strength. Like the American Congress. A wilful minority in that Paradise of democracy could indefinitely obstruct the will of the majority. That was called rule by the people. It sounded more like rule by the sediment that was too clotted to go down the drain. It held back everything.

 

 

*******************

 

Twilight was falling

 

Twilight was falling when the Prince, looking very much like a blown-up caricature of his august uncle, waddled into the large library with the General at his heels.
      "If you enter politics," he was saying, "you will soon discover it to be a nasty and merciless business. Have you a fortune ?"
      "Not a sou, "replied the General.
      "Well," said the Prince, as he thrust his hand into the front of his waistcoat, "if you run aground you will never be a stranger here."
Thiébaud, who was standing by one of the glass cases of relics with Berthet-Leleux, turned smilingly towards the two men.
      "I have been thrilled by some of the objects in this case, Your Imperial Highness," he declared. "Look here, my General. Here are some things that will stir your soldier's heart."
Boulanger advanced towards the relics eagerly, and the Prince followed, his broad face wreathed with smiles.
      "Yes," he said, "I intended to show you some of these sacred souvenirs. Berthet-Leleux, hand me the keys."
The four men gathered before the case, while the Prince awkwardly unlocked the glass-panelled door.
      "There are the spurs that He wore on the return from Italy," he explained. "And there is the cockade that was in His hat the day He made them eat grapeshot at the Church of Saint-Roch. There are two of His pistols and the sash He wrapped around His middle when He drove the recalcitrant Council of the Five Hundred out of the Orangerie. And here... here..."
He reached into the case and withdrew an Egyptian sabre in a gold-plated and bejewelled sheath. He extended it towards the General.
      "This is the sword the First Consul carried at Marengo," he said solemnly.
For an instant the magic of the Cult impregnated the still air in the library. Afterwards Thiébaud swore that he heard the distant grumble of grenadier drums as the General stretched forward a respectful hand and lightly touched the hilt of the glittering weapon.
      "Are you sure that this is the sabre of the First Consul ?" he demanded in a hushed voice.
The Prince smiled.
      "Do you think that this is bric-à-brac I have collected in flea-markets ?" he asked proudly.
      "It is a beautiful souvenir," declared the General in a reverent tone.
His hand again caressed the hilt of the sword as lightly, as tenderly as though it were the upturned face of a beloved woman. Thiébaud saw the grave melancholy visage of a professional soldier to whom warfare was a religion and in whose eyes the saints wore burnished epaulets. Like the Moor in the English play his profession was his life and without it he would have no life at all... nothing, indeed, but existence. What, then ? What, then ? The journalist closed his mind to the answer. The Prince, too, observed the General's emotion and instinctively understood it. After all, he was a Bonaparte. Turning, he carefully placed the sabre back on the velvet in the open case.
      "General," he said, "when you have returned Alsace and Lorraine back to France I will offer you this sword."
Justin entered the shadowy library with a lighted candelabra.

 

 

*******************

 

 

As elsewhere, earlier in the book, eternal truth remains for some of us outside all such montebanks of apparent power...

 

It was after four o'clock in the morning when the Polish waiter, leaning like an old collapsed scarecrow against the corridor wall, saw the door open and the octet emerge in a compact group. They were no longer laughing.
      "Remember," said Laguerre. "My dinner is tonight. You are all invited. In the meantime..."
      "In the meantime we have accomplished nothing," snapped Clemenceau.
      "We are moving to an understanding," said the General mildly.
Ignace observed how Clemenceau turned a brief sour glance at the handsome gentleman with the blond beard.
      "Whose understanding ?" demanded the Breton abruptly.
Nobody answered.
As they were going down the stairs Ignace turned to Monsieur Frédéric.
      "They all detest one another," he remarked in a surprised tone.
Monsieur Frédéric, who had been a
maître d'hôtel for thirty years, shrugged his shoulders.
      "After all," he replied, "we live under a Republic. They have the liberty to detest one another. As for me... I am a Royalist."

 

 

 

Black Pussies on Roofs

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Full Goth Metal Marx

I am always stupified by an aspect of militant atheism never remarked upon: these curious little chaps so outraged and so angry at a non-existent God they devote time to refuting Him and belief in Him --- for time is the one thing they cannot afford.

Let us suppose that God does not Exist. OK then, if not thrown by eventual nothingness --- which on the contrary they gleefully embrace --- there's very little to be said; and certainly nothing of eternal value: however one may as well live one's life out as pleasantly as possible according to one's own choices. It is tough to spend half of that time labouring at a job one detests, yet this too is not a problem for them, since they enjoy whatever weird stuff they do --- such as being a professor or economist; but time runs out no matter how one uses it. If mentally unstable they may substitute Humanity as their ersatz-religion of choice, chosen solely because they happen to be human, and insist on working for and lecturing to humanity, ( and if so inclined, working for the eradication of social elements opposed to their own social philosophy of choice for the betterment of all mankind [ except those elements eradicated ] ) despite the fact that all of humanity is destined for nothingness just as much as they when time runs out. And that nothing will be left of them, their acts and thoughts, nor those of any other, when time runs out.

So let us suppose one of these: he is say, 40, that gives him roughly 40 more years of existence until he is extinguished to the point that he will never know he was extinguished or was ever alive. Not to mention that the memory of him will be as vanished as most in 10,000 years. Allowing two-thirds of time for eating, sleeping, working, worrying about money or worrying about social stability etc., that leaves 13 years of possible enjoyment. Instead he uses up this time on earth self-righteously persuading others that they will go into nothingness and unimportance with no salvation, and arguing about a deity in whom he does not believe. All the time the clock clicks to his termination and his remaining time runs out, as in a death cell. This has to be a definition of insanity: to spend the sole amount of time you will ever have, not even in anger at not going on to an afterlife, but railing against a God one thinks non-existent, hating the idea that others believe they go on, and mocking those whose faith is sure.

 
Karl Marx was one such, and despite his seminal work as a social philosopher and economist, all for an aim he believed he could never be conscious to see and which would end in nothingness itself, was largely inspired by early nineteenth century romantic rebellion against the God he didn't believe Existed, and Whom rationally he should not have cared about in the least, as a magnificent essay by Murray N. Rothbard I have referenced elsewhere makes clear.

 
Here are lyrics to Mother Nothingness ( The Triumph Of Ubbo Sathla ) from The Vision Bleak, and some of Marx's poetry from that essay: try and guess first...

 
Worlds I would destroy forever,
Since I can create no world;
Since my call they notice never

I shall build my throne high overhead,
Cold, tremendous shall its summit be.
For its bulwark –-- superstitious dread.
For its marshal –-- blackest agony.

I shall howl gigantic curses on mankind.
Ha ! Eternity ! She is an eternal grief.
Ourselves being clockwork, blindly mechanical,
Made to be foul-calendars of Time and Space,
Having no purpose save to happen, to be ruined,
So that there shall be something to ruin
If there is a Something which devours,
I'll leap within it, though I bring the world to ruins --–
The world which bulks between me and the Abyss
I will smash to pieces with my enduring curses.
I'll throw my arms around its harsh reality:
Embracing me, the world will dumbly pass away,
And then sink down to utter nothingness,
Perished, with no existence – that would be really living !

In the steaming morass
Of a newborn earth
Lies the formless mass
Which to all gave birth

In a sea of sludge
Of immense extend
Lies the thoughtless mass
Which is source and end

We all must follow
Into her void
To her fetid womb
We all return

Her voiceless howl
Resounds through time
From primal mud
And fenses foul

A limbless thing
Mindless and coarse
This wretches guise
Is end and source

We all must follow
Into her void
To her fetid womb
We all return

Fall through the aeons
Onward to the earth in it's prime
Fall through the aeons
Becoming the spawn
Of the great old slime

…the leaden world holds us fast
And we are chained, shattered, empty, frightened,
Eternally chained to this marble block of Being,
… and we – We are the apes of a cold God.

 
Harpist of Destruction

 
 

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The Vision Bleak --- Mother Nothingness ( The Triumph Of Ubbo Sathla )

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To Attach The Electrodes Of Knowledge To The Nipples Of Ignorance

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(Correctitude, High Germany, Literature, Manners not Morals, Other Writ)

Frederick Schlegel ( and after him Coleridge ) aptly indicated a distinction, when he said that every man was born either a Platonist or an Aristotelian. This distinction is often expressed in the terms subjective and objective intellects. Perhaps we shall best define these by calling the objective intellect one that is eminently impersonal, and the subjective intellect one that is eminently personal; the former disengaging itself as much as possible from its own prepossessions, striving to see and represent objects as they exist; the other viewing all objects in the light of its own feelings and preconceptions. It is needless to add that no mind is exclusively objective or exclusively subjective, but every mind has a more or less dominant tendency in one or the other of these directions. We see the contrast in Philosophy, as in Art. The realist argues from Nature upwards, argues inductively, starting from reality, and never long losing sight of it; even in the adventurous flights of hypothesis and speculation, being desirous that his hypothesis shall correspond with realities. The idealist argues from an Idea downwards, starting from some conception, and seeking in realities only visible illustrations of a deeper existence. The achievements of modern Science, and the masterpieces of Art, prove that the grandest generalisations and the most elevated types can only be reached by the former method; and that what is called the "ideal school," so far from having the superiority which it claims, is only more lofty in its pretensions; the realist, with more modest pretensions, achieves loftier results. The Objective and Subjective, or as they are also called, the Real and the Ideal, are thus contrasted as the termini of two opposite lines of thought. In Philosophy, in Morals and in Art, we see a constant antagonism between these two principles. Thus in Morals the Platonists are those who seek the highest morality out of human nature, instead of in the healthy development of all human tendencies, and their due co-ordination; they hope, in the suppression of integral faculties, to attain some superhuman standard. They call that Ideal which no Reality can reach, but for which we should strive. They superpose ab extra, instead of trying to develop ab intra. They draw from their own minds, or from the dogmas handed to them by tradition, an arbitrary mould, into which they attempt to fuse the organic activity of Nature.

If this school had not in its favor the imperious instinct of Progress, and aspiration after a better, it would not hold its ground. But it satisfies that craving, and thus deludes many minds into acquiescence. The poetical and enthusiastic disposition most readily acquiesces : preferring to overlook what man is, in its delight of contemplating what the poet makes him. To such a mind all conceptions of Man must have a halo round them, --- half mist, half sunshine; the hero must be a Demigod, in whom no valet de chambre can find a failing ; the villain must be a Demon, for whom no charity can find an excuse.

Not to extend this to a dissertation, let me at once say that Goethe belonged to the objective class."'Everywhere in Goethe,"said Franz Horn, "you are on firm land or island ; nowhere the infinite sea.' A better characterization was never written in one sentence. In every page of his works may be read a strong feeling for the real, the concrete, the living; and a repugnance as strong for the vague, the abstract, or the supersensuous. His constant striving was to study Nature, so as to see her directly, and not through the mists of fancy, or through the distortions of prejudice, --- to look at men, and into them, --- to apprehend things as they were. In his conception of the universe he could not separate God from it, placing Him above it, beyond it, as the philosophers did who represented God whirling the universe round His finger, "seeing it go." Such a conception revolted him. He animated the universe with God ; he animated fact with divine life ; he saw in Reality the incarnation of the Ideal; he saw in Morality the high and harmonious action of all human tendencies ; he saw in Art the highest representation of Life.

George Henry Lewes : The Life & Works of Goethe

 

 
Marisa Kirisame Sleeping in the Air

AoBlue --- Marisa Kirisame sleeping on the Air

 

Title from Third Rock From The Sun.

 

 

 

With His Peculiar Look And Emphasis

As an extra... Lewes in a footnote adds a personal note of the old loon Carlyle:

'I remember once, as we were walking along Piccadilly, talking about the infamous Büchlein von Goethe, Carlyle stopped suddenly, and with his peculiar look and emphasis, said, "Yes, it is the wild cry of amazement on the part of all spooneys that the Titan was not a spooney too ! Here is a god-like intellect, and yet you see he is not an idiot ! Not in the least a spooney !"

 
Readers not current in early 19th century England may note that 'Spooney' means soppy, soft, wet: sissies, but not necessarily including the present-day connotation of sexual maladaption.

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A Tabernacle To Æsop

About this time, as a relief from the graver matters which claimed his attention, Luther engaged in the occupation of turning. In a letter to Wenceslas Link, he begs his friend to purchase for him the necessary tools at Nuremburg... Luther returns his acknowledgements in a letter in which his characteristic gaiety of expression is apparent.

"We have received the turning tools, the quadrant, the cylinder, and the wooden clock. We greatly thank you for the trouble you have taken. One thing, however, you forgot: you did not mention how much more you expended, for the money I sent [ One guilder ] could not have been enough. For the present, we have got all we need, except you could send us some new machinery, which will turn by itself when Wolfgang is lazy or sleepy. The clock suits me perfectly, especially for showing the time to my drunken Saxons, who look more to the bottle than the hour, caring but little whether the sun, or the clock, or its hands show wrong."

Wolfgang had been for some years in Luther's service, and remained with him throughout his life. He was a worthy, honest fellow, devotedly attached to his master, and possessed but one failing, a frequent propensity to go to sleep over his work. This unconquerable drowsiness was often the subject of Luther's mock complaint. The master, with his own immense capacity for work without much interval for rest, was amused by the dull, heavy somnolence of his honest famulus. On one occasion, Wolfgang built a floor, and upon it fixed a contrivance for catching birds. Luther, whose nature was loving and feeling as that of a child, did not approve of this plan to entrap the feathered songsters, and drew out a Bird's Indictment against their foe. The birds besought Luther's protection against Wolfgang, whose sleepiness, they said, maliciously, everybody knew, as he never left his bed until eight o'clock in the morning; they required that every evening he should spread grain for their morning meal, as they rose up hours before him; and that his attention throughout the day should be devoted to catching frogs, snails, daws, mice and other pests, whereby he would be enabled to gratify his destructive instincts, without endeavouring to ensnare the poor birds, whose songs fully paid for the little grain they consumed. The Bird's Petition, brimful of soft pleadings on behalf of one of the Creator's sweetest gifts to charm the ears of that lordly creature, Man, concluded with a threat that if Wolfgang, their enemy, did not mend his ways, they ( the birds ) would pray to God to cause fleas and other insects to crawl about him at night, and torment him beyond endurance.

Luther took great delight in the simple happiness to be gained in his garden, cultivating the flowers, listening to the plashing of the waters of the fountain he had himself erected, to the singing of the birds, and to the gambols of the fish in a small pond. These small matters often took from his mind much of the trouble and anxiety inseparable from his position, and broke the hard intensity of intellectual and spiritual care.

 

Coburg Castle

 

...on the 3rd of April [ 1530 ], the Elector, unarmed and accompanied by one hundred and sixty horsemen, set out from Torgau on his way to meet the Emperor at Augsburg. Luther, Melanchthon, Jonas, Agricola, and Spalatin were with him. When they reached Coburg, the Elector directed Luther to remain there. The ban of the Empire prevented his appearance at the Diet. Without hesitation Luther obeyed the command of his prince. He proceeded to the fortress of Coburg, where he remained during the time of the proceedings at Augsburg. The elector with his followers reached Augsburg on the 2nd of May, and there awaited the arrival of the Emperor, which did not take place until the 15th of June. Luther, from the castle, wrote constantly to the Elector, to Spalatin, and to Melanchthon. The solitude and inaction to which he was constrained to submit were irksome and distressing. Writing to Melanchthon on the 22nd April he says: "I have arrived at my Sinai; but of this Sinai I will make a Sion: I will raise thereon three Tabernacles, one to the Psalmist, another to the Prophets, and lastly, one to Æsop..." He was at this time engaged in the translation of these fables.

 
Elsheimer - Ruin

Caspar Friedrich --- The Tree of Crows

* Colour alternates
 
"There is nothing here to prevent my solitude from being complete. I live in a vast abode which overlooks the castle; I have the keys of all its apartments. There are scarcely thirty persons within the fortress, of whom twelve are watchers by night, and two other sentinels, constantly posted on the castle heights."

On the 9th of May he wrote to Spalatin an amusing account of the rooks and jackdaws, the denizens of the wood beneath the elevated part of the castle in which he lived.

"I am here in the midst of another diet, in the presence of the magnanimous sovereigns, dukes, grandees, and nobles of a kind different to those at Augsburg. Mine confer together upon State affairs with all the gravity of demeanour; they fill the air with unceasing voice, promulgating their decrees and their preachings. They do not seat themselves shut up in those royal caverns, you call palaces, but they hold their councils in the light of the sun, having the heavens for a canopy, and, for a carpet, the rich and varied verdure of the trees, on which they are congregated in liberty; the only limits to their domains being the boundaries of the earth. The stupid display of silk and gold inspires them with horror. They are all alike, in colour as in countenance --- black. Nor is their note different one from the other; the only dissonance being the agreeable contrast between the voices of the young and the deeper tones of their parents. In no instance have I ever heard them speak of an Emperor; they disdain with sovereign contempt the horse which is so indispensible to our cavaliers; they have a far better means of mocking the fury of cannon. In so far as I have been able to comprehend their decrees, they have determined to wage an incessant war during the present year against barley, corn, and grain of all sorts; in short, against all that is most enticing and agreeable amongst the fruits and products of the earth. It is much to be feared that they may become conquerors wherever they direct their efforts; for they are a race of combatants, wily and adroit; equally successful in their attempts to plunder, by force or by surprise. As for me, I am an idle spectator, assisting willingly, and with much satisfaction at their consultations. But enough of jesting ! Jesting which is, however, sometimes necessary to dispel the gloomy thoughts which overwhelm me."

The clamour of the rooks and crows, by which, as in another letter he wrote, "they charitably intend to bring sleep gently to my eyelids," was not altogether successful in diverting his attention from the grave business of the diet.

John Rae : Martin Luther --- Student, Monk, Reformer

 

 
Elsheimer - Ruin

 
*
Note that the More tag no longer works on this particular blog - it destroys the lay-out: for which lack we apologise...
 

 
Caspar Tree of Crows darker

 
Caspar Tree of Crows lighter

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Unendlichen

THE GODS GIVE EVERYTHING

The gods give everything, the infinite ones,
To their beloved, completely,
Every pleasure, the infinite ones,
Every suffering, the infinite ones, completely.

Johann Wolfgang v. Goethe
[tr. Stephen Spender]
 

 

AEsir Girl

 

 

"Alles gaben Götter die unendlichen
Ihren Lieblingen ganz
Alle Freuden die unendlichen
Alle Schmerzen die unendlichen ganz".

faq

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The Silver Sail Of Dawn

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(High Germany, Music, Other Writ, Poetry)

The fairies break their dances
And leave the printed lawn,
And up from India glances
The silver sail of dawn.

The candles burn their sockets,
The blinds let through the day,
The young man feels his pockets
And wonders what’s to pay.

A. E. Housman : The Fairies Break Their Dances

 


Richard Wagner --- Overture to The Fairies

 
 
Fairy Ring

-George Cruikshank --- A Fantasy -The Fairy Ring

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The Pleasure Was Enhanced

Great was the excite­ment in Par­is when it was announced the King of Prus­sia and the Tsar would arrive in close suc­ces­sion at the begin­ning of June [1867]. Although the lat­ter was the real guest of hon­our ( high polit­ics decreed it so ), it was King Wil­helm of Prus­sia and his massive Chan­cel­lor, Count von Bis­mar­ck, who attrac­ted all eyes. On the train they passed pos­i­tions the old King had occu­pied in 1814, when he had con­trib­uted to the down­fall of his present host’s uncle. Though some Parisi­ans detec­ted a note of typ­ic­al Teuton­ic tact­less­ness as the King com­pli­men­ted, ecstat­ic­ally, on ‘what mar­vel­lous things you have done since I was last here !’, on the whole they thought his beha­vi­our quite unex­cep­tion­able. In fact he stole many hearts by his kindly dis­play of affec­tion for the fra­gile Prince Impéri­al, then recov­er­ing from an ill­ness. A com­fort­able fig­ure pro­ject­ing an image of some bene­vol­ent coun­try squire, he set the nervous French at ease, and indeed seemed utterly at ease him­self; as someone remarked unchar­it­ably after the event, he explored Par­is as if intend­ing to come back there one day.

Even the ter­rible Bis­mar­ck, whose great stature made Wick­ham Hoff­man of the U.S. Leg­a­tion think of Agamem­non, pos­it­ively glowed with good­will. Beau­ties of Par­is soci­ety sur­roun­ded him. admired his dazzling White Cuir­assier unform and the enorm­ous spread eagle upon his shin­ing hel­met, and attemp­ted to pro­voke him; but in vain. In con­ver­sa­tion with Louis-Napoleon, he dis­missed last year’s Austro-Prussian war as belong­ing to another epoch, and added ami­ably ‘Thanks to you no per­man­ent cause of rivalry exists between us and the Court at Vien­na’. The fest­ive atmo­sphere tem­por­ar­ily obscured the full men­ace of this remark.

On April 12th, the Emper­or atten­ded the première of one of the great enter­tain­ments to be pro­duced in hon­our of his Roy­al guests: Offenbach’s La Grande Duch­esse de Gérol­stein

…Now here was this new tri­umph about the amor­ous Grand Duch­ess of a joke Ger­man prin­cip­al­ity, embark­ing on a point­less war because its Chan­cel­lor, Bar­on Puck, needed a diver­sion. Its forces were led by a joke Ger­man gen­er­al called Boum, as incap­able as he was fear­less, who invig­or­ated him­self with the smell of gun­powder by peri­od­ic­ally fir­ing off his pis­tol into the air. The far­ce, tal­ly­ing so closely with Europe’s private view of the ridicu­lous Teutons, was too obvi­ous to be missed. When the Tsar came to see it, his box was said to have rung with unroy­al laughter. Between gusts of mirth, mem­bers of the French court peeped over at Bismarck’s expres­sion, half in malice, half in appre­hen­sion, won­der­ing if per­haps King Wilhelm’s lack of tact about his pre­vi­ous vis­it to Par­is had not been revenged to excess. But nobody appeared to be show­ing more obvi­ous and unres­trained pleas­ure than the Iron Chan­cel­lor him­self; one might almost have sus­pec­ted that the pleas­ure was enhanced by the enjoy­ment of some secret joke of his own.

Alistair Horne : The Fall of Par­is

 

 

Girl with Prussian Colours

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& Saxt">Jamie First & Saxt

Fre­d­er­ick now asked his father-in-law, as a part­ing gift to him, to grant liber­ty to one of the unhappy band of polit­ic­al pris­on­ers whose lifelong deten­tion in the Tower was a pub­lic scan­dal. His can­did­ate was the least obnox­ious pos­sible. Lord Grey de Wilton, the young Pur­it­an noble who had been con­demned to death for par­ti­cip­a­tion in the Bye Plot, had been now immured for ten years, and his spir­it was repor­ted much broken. Fre­d­er­ick made his request, and caught a ter­ri­fy­ing glimpse of a James Stu­art hither­to unknown to him, not the Prin­cess Elizabeth’s “dear dad”, learned, lax and lov­ing, but the James Stu­art of the Gowrie Con­spir­acy and Gun­powder Plot.

Car­o­la Oman : Eliza­beth of Bohemia.
 

 

Kitten Staring

 

 

And just to drive home a point with icy charm…
 

James’s even­tu­al dis­missal of Frederick’s suit was well cal­cu­lated to crush a nervous youth. “Son, when I come into Ger­many I will prom­ise you not to impor­tune you for any of your pris­on­ers”.

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And The Falcon Soared

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(High Germany, Norse, Odin, Other Writ, Poetry, The King of Terrors)

THY rest was deep at the slumberer's hour
      If thou didst not hear the blast
Of the savage horn, from the mountain-tower,
      As the Wild Night-Huntsman pass'd,
And the roar of the stormy chase went by,
      Through the dark unquiet sky !

The stag sprung up from his mossy bed
      When he caught the piercing sounds,
And the oak-boughs crash'd to his antler'd head
      As he flew from the viewless hounds;
And the falcon soar'd from her craggy height,
      Away through the rushing night !

The banner shook on its ancient hold,
      And the pine in its desert-place,
As the cloud and tempest onward roll'd
      With the din of the trampling race;
And the glens were fill'd with the laugh and shout,
      And the bugle, ringing out !

From the chieftain's hand the wine-cup fell,
      At the castle's festive board,
And a sudden pause came o'er the swell
      Of the harp's triumphal chord;
And the Minnesinger's thrilling lay
      In the hall died fast away.

The convent's chanted rite was stay'd,
      And the hermit dropp'd his beads,
And a trembling ran through the forest-shade,
      At the neigh of the phantom steeds,
And the church-bells peal'd to the rocking blast
      As the Wild Night-Huntsman pass'd.

The storm hath swept with the chase away,
      There is stillness in the sky,
But the mother looks on her son to-day,
      With a troubled heart and eye,
And the maiden's brow hath a shade of care
      Midst the gleam of her golden hair !

The Rhine flows bright, but its waves ere long
      Must hear a voice of war,
And a clash of spears our hills among,
      And a trumpet from afar;
And the brave on a bloody turf must lie,
      For the Huntsman hath gone by !

Felicia Hemans : The Wild Huntsman
 
 
It is a popular belief in the Odenwald, that the passing of the Wild Huntsman announces the approach of war. He is supposed to issue with his train from the ruined castle of Rodenstein, and traverse the air to the opposite castle of Schnellerts. It is confidently asserted that the sound of his phantom horses and hounds was heard by the Duke of Baden before the commencement of the last war in Germany.
 
 
 
 

Kaiser Wilhelm II Riding

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The Expression Of Correct Concepts

        I have never attached another value to words than that of the expression of correct concepts, to theories never the value of deeds, and I have always regarded preconceived systems as the product of leisured heads or the outburst of emotional minds.
        Not in the struggle of society towards progress, but rather in progression towards the true goods: towards freedom as the inevitable yield of order; towards equality in its only applicable degree of that before the law; towards prosperity, inconceivable without the foundation of moral and material peace; towards credit, which can rest only on the basis of trust — in all that I have recognised the duty of government and the true salvation for the governed.
        I have looked upon despotism of every kind as a symptom of weakness. Where it appears, it is a self-punitive evil, most intolerable when it poses behind the mask of promoting the cause of freedom.

        The concept of the balancing of powers ( proposed by Montesquieu ) has always appeared to me only as a conceptual error of the English constitution, impractical in its application, because the concept of such a balancing is rooted in the assumption of an eternal struggle, instead of in that of peace, the first necessity for the life and prosperity of states.
        The care for the inner life of states has always had for me the worth of the most important task for governments.
        As the foundations for politics I recognise the concepts of right and equity and not the sole calculations of use, whilst I look upon capricious politics as an ever self-punitive confusion of the spirit.

        My conduct is a prosaic and not a poetical one. I am a man of right, and reject in all things appearance where it divides as such from truth, thereupon deprived as the foundation of right, where it must inevitably dissolve into error.

        For me the word “freedom” has not the value of a starting-point, but rather that of an actual point of arrival. The word “order” denotes the starting-point. Only on the concept of order can that of freedom rest. Without the foundation of order, the call for freedom is nothing more than the striving of some party after an envisaged end. In its actual use, the call inevitably expresses itself as tyranny. Whilst I have at all times and in all situations ever been a man of order, my striving was addressed to true and not deceptive freedom. In my eyes, tyranny of any kind has only the value of absolute nonsense. As a means to an end, I mark it as the most vapid that time and circumstance is able to place at the disposal of rulers.
        The concept of order in view of legislation --- the foundation of order --- is, in consequence of the conditions under which states live, capable of the most varied application. Considered as constitution, it will prove itself best for any state that answers to the demands of both the material conditions and those moral conditions peculiar to the national character. There is no universal recipe for constitutions, just as little as there is some universal means for the boosting of health.

        I did not govern the empire. Therein the powers at every level were not just strictly administered and directed to their competences, but rather in this regard were even relinquished to trepidation, which brought hesitancy to the course of affairs. The principle of government of the Emperor Francis was set forth in the motto “Justitia regnorum fundamentum”, not only as it lay in his spirit and character, but also as it served him as strict guide in all governmental affairs. He agreed with my observation that the axiom, correct in its point of origin, could be abrogated in the excessive practice of particular cases, but he usually added: “I was born and through my status appointed for the execution of justice; the inevitable hardness in particular cases is better than the slackening of rule through too many exceptions.” My motto is “Strength in Right”. Both sayings run together in meaning, except that the imperial motto has an abstractly judicial significance, whereas mine has a significance more grounded in state law. In this regard, the motto “Recta tueri”, suggested by me to Emperor Ferdinand upon his most supreme accession, bids a further nuance.

Excerpts from The Political Testament of Klemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar, Fürst von Metternich-Winneburg zu Beilstein, as translated by Deoholwulf, Keeper of The Joy of Curmudgeonry

Full text here.

 

 

Cock Robin

The Spirit of Eternal Justice Succouring the Stricken State

 
Actually, Kathleen Wallis Coales --- Cock Robin and the Flower Fairy

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Kaiserlich

Emmerich Kalman --- Czardas Medley
The Johann Strauss Orchestra of, and conducted by, André Rieu

Never let us forget that to each's infinite credit, the usurper Hitler, delighting in his awesome melodic prowess, offered Kalman Honorary Aryanship and that Kalman refused it.

Imperial Tirol Arms

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Where Skims The Gull The Baltic Waves

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(High Germany, Music, Poetry, Self Writ)

WHERE is the German's fatherland ?
The Prussian land? The Swabian land ?
Where Rhine the vine-clad mountain laves ?
Where skims the gull the Baltic waves ?
Ah, no, no, no !
His fatherland 's not bounded so !

Where is the German's fatherland ?
Bavarian land ? or Stygian land ?
Where sturdy peasants plough the plain ?
Where mountain-sons bright metal gain ?
Ah, no, no, no !
His fatherland's not bounded so !

Where is the German's fatherland ?
The Saxon hills ? The Zuyder strand ?
Where sweep wild winds the sandy shores
Where loud the rolling Danube roars ?
Ah, no, no, no !
His fatherland 's not bounded so !

Where is the German's fatherland ?
Then name, then name the mighty land !
The Austrian land in fight renowned ?
The Kaiser's land with honors crowned ?
Ah, no, no, no !
His fatherland 's not bounded so !

Where is the German's fatherland ?
Then name, then name the mighty land !
The land of Hofer ? land of Tell ?
This land I know, and love it well;
But, no, no, no !
His fatherland 's not bounded so !

Where is the German's fatherland ?
Is his the pieced and parceled land
Where pirate-princes rule ? A gem
Torn from the empire's diadem?
Ah, no, no, no !
Such is no German's fatherland.

Where is the German's fatherland ?
Then name, oh, name the mighty land !
Wherever is heard the German tongue,
And German hymns to God are sung !
This is the land, thy Hermann's land;
This, German, is thy fatherland.

This is the German's fatherland,
Where faith is in the plighted hand,
Where truth lives in each eye of blue,
And every heart is staunch and true.
This is the land, the honest land,
The honest German's fatherland.

This is the land, the one true land,
O God, to aid be thou at hand !
And fire each heart, and nerve each arm,
To shield our German homes from harm,
To shield the land, the one true land,
One Deutschland and one fatherland !

Ernst Moritz Arndt : Was ist das deutsche Vaterland ?

Arndt was not a good man, for he was a liberal; yet he partially atoned by proving that if the Devil must have the all good tunes, he also acquires striking lyricists to complement them well...

To demonstrate that the less mundane, and more subtle, system of absolute monarchism can subvert revolutionary liberal impulses and turn them to light, Franz Liszt --- above politics and kaisertreue, put the above anthem to music, dedicated to King Friedrich Wilhelm IV who then bestowed one of the earliest civilian Pour le Merites in return...

 
Poynter --- Cave of the Storm Nymphs

Edward Poynter -- Cave of the Storm Nymphs

 
Read the rest of this entry »

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Sure Of Hand

Jamie has this gift also, the gift of the compelling eye --- which is not to be confused with the evil eye, nor yet witchcraft --- which suggests to the unwary and lesser-willed the pure unreason of unobedience [ I wish I had it... ]

She believed profoundly in herself and in the suggestions of her own imagination. So fixed and unalterable was that belief that it amounted to positive knowledge, so far as it constituted a motive of action. In her strange youth wild dreams had possessed her, and some of them, often dreamed again, had become realities to her now. Her powers were natural, those gifts which from time to time are seen in men and women, which are alternately scoffed at as impostures, or accepted as facts, but which are never understood either by their possessor or by those who witness the results. She had from childhood the power to charm with eye and hand all living things, the fascination which takes hold of the consciousness through sight and touch and word, and lulls it to sleep. It was witchery, and she was called a witch. In earlier centuries her hideous fate would have been sealed from the first day when, under her childish gaze, a wolf that had been taken alive in the Bohemian forest crawled fawning to her feet, at the full length of its chain, and laid its savage head under her hand, and closed its bloodshot eyes and slept before her.

I was fond of F. Marion Crawford's The Witch of Prague as a child, and though he wasn't prone to incident in his unelaborate plotting, few could deny the beauty of his descriptive, suggestively so, powers.

The man introduced him into a spacious hall and closed the door, leaving him to his own reflections. The place was very wide and high and without windows, but the broad daylight descended abundantly from above through the glazed roof and illuminated every corner. He would have taken the room for a conservatory, for it contained a forest of tropical trees and plants, and whole gardens of rare southern flowers. Tall letonias, date palms, mimosas and rubber trees of many varieties stretched their fantastic spikes and heavy leaves half-way up to the crystal ceiling; giant ferns swept the polished marble floor with their soft embroideries and dark green laces; Indian creepers, full of bright blossoms, made screens and curtains of their intertwining foliage; orchids of every hue and of every exotic species bloomed in thick banks along the walls. Flowers less rare, violets and lilies of the valley, closely set and luxuriant, grew in beds edged with moss around the roots of the larger plants and in many open spaces. The air was very soft and warm, moist and full of heavy odours as the still atmosphere of an island in southern seas, and the silence was broken only by the light plash of softly-falling water.

He who has won woman in the face of daring rivals, of enormous odds, of gigantic obstacles, knows what love means; he who has lost her, having loved her, alone has measured with his own soul the bitterness of earthly sorrow, the depth of total loneliness, the breadth of the wilderness of despair. And he who has sorrowed long, who has long been alone, but who has watched the small, twinkling ray still burning upon the distant border of his desert—the faint glimmer of a single star that was still above the horizon of despair—he only can tell what utter darkness can be upon the face of the earth when that last star has set for ever. With it are gone suddenly the very quarters and cardinal points of life's chart, there is no longer any right hand or any left, any north or south, any rising of the sun or any going down, any forward or backward direction in his path, any heaven above, or any hell below. The world has stood still and there is no life in the thick, black stillness. Death himself is dead, and one living man is forgotten behind, to mourn him as a lost friend, to pray that some new destroyer, more sure of hand than death himself, may come striding through the awful silence to make an end at last of the tormented spirit, to bear it swiftly to the place where that last star ceased to shine, and to let it down into the restful depths of an unremembering eternity. But into that place, which is the soul of man, no destroyer can penetrate; that solitary life neither the sword, nor pestilence, nor age, nor eternity can extinguish; that immortal memory no night can obscure. There was a beginning indeed, but end there can be none.

Here also is one of his pretty short stories: For The Blood Is The Life

 

Karl Bridge
Charles Bridge - 1840

 
As to Prague itself, it was no doubt a fine city, from when it was the capital of the Old Reich to the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; yet I do have some distance from all things Czech: excessive nationalism from when they first began their interesting practice of throwing people out of high windows and set off the most devastating war in modern history; a wry humour allied to a smug morosity similar to that of my own people which insisted on striving for barren independent democracy; and, of course, the depraved vengefulness which sped possibly the most unspeakable atrocities on Germans of any nation which had been under the nazi control ( after an occupation which was as collaborative as most [ they supplied superb weaponry with all their noted craftsmanship and the occupation was not as grim as in, say, Poland ] ) --- here's one link, but I've read far, far worse... If the Russians were dreadful, they were restrained compared to some of the smaller regimes which were to become their future puppets. Besides, they honoured the Grand Tradition by chucking Jan Masaryk --- ghastly son of a still ghastlier father --- out of a window...

 
Still Art has nothing to do with politics, and Bohemia even in it's despicable guise of the late scarcely lamented Czechoslovakia had some severely unknown artists:
here's a site devoted to Tavik František Šimon

Simon -- Vilma Reading 
with pages upon his confreres such as Hugo Böttinger

Boettinger -- three girls

 
Mucha is naturally well-known, yet Golden Age Comic Stories blog has some nice examples of his work on the 8th June entry --- for some reason I cannot link directly to posts there; this blog has a large resource of illustrative fantasy ranging from the fascinating to the banal [ I have to say I despise classical comic book 'art' and such genre; and find it generally as debased and weak-minded as say it's successors in film such as Star Wars or Star Trek ].


Mucha Queen

 
Finally, here's another Perchta...

[ Although I have to preface this by pointing out that the painting above the snippet, Vincent Neumann's Witch on a Broom --- reffing to above mention of Bohemian witches... --- is uncannily reminiscent of Auld Scotia right up to the present time. Go into any Edinburgh pub. ]


Neumann Witch

 
The White Lady von Rosenberg
Perchta von Rosenberg, known as the White Lady, lived in the Český Krumlov castle in the 15th century. Her father, Ulrich II. von Rosenberg married her off against her will and without love to the Moravian lord Johann von Lichtenstein who was cruel to Perchta all her life. When Johann was dying he had Perchta called in and asked her for forgiveness. She refused, and her husband cursed her. Since then, the soul of the White Lady von Rosenberg has had to roam the Rosenberg castles and tends to appear before significant events. White gloves on her hand bear good tidings, whereas black gloves are a sign of impending disaster. Tales of the White Lady is a theme for many authors.

This is from the Tales & Legends bit of the site of Český Krumlov Castle.

Apart from the fact I find the notion of forgiveness unmanly and fairly inexplicable, the trouble here is that under no rational or irrational standard can forgiveness be demanded, and why this poor girl should have to expiate her lack of pity for the brutish lout who had injured her is totally beyond me.

 
I blame christianity.

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Behold Thy Virgin Daughters

Last night I idly considered the tragic life and death of Anna Nicole Smith, and wondered why the keepers of Amerika still have not yet transformed the Statue of Liberty into her likeness --- for that life and death perfectly capture the parallel destiny of the land... A century ago George S. Viereck wrote this predictive fantasy. He was quintessentially an odd bird, and despite some sympathy for his Hohenzollern cousins was rather a teutonophile than in any way royalist, yet his Germanic imagination qualified him as a seer.

 
PRELUDE

THE EMPIRE CITY

HUGE steel-ribbed monsters rise into the air
Her Babylonian towers, while on high
Like gilt-scaled serpents glide the swift trains by,
Or, underfoot, creep to their secret lair.
A thousand lights are jewels in her hair,
The sea her girdle, and her crown the sky,
Her life-blood throbs, the fevered pulses fly,
Immense, defiant, breathless she stands there

And ever listens in the ceaseless din,
Waiting for him, her lover who shall come,
Whose singing lips shall boldly claim their own
And render sonant what in her was dumb:
The splendour and the madness and the sin,
Her dreams in iron and her thoughts of stone.

I

NINEVEH

O NINEVEH, thy realm is set
Upon a base of rock and steel
From where the under-rivers fret
High up to where the planets reel.

Clad in a blazing coat of mail,
Above the gables of the town
Huge dragons with a monstrous trail
Have pillared pathways up and down.

And in the bowels of the deep
Where no man sees the gladdening sun,
All night without the balm of sleep
The human tide rolls on and on.

The Hudson's mighty waters lave
In stern caress thy granite shore,
And to thy port the salt sea wave
Brings oil and wine and precious ore.

Yet if the ocean in its might
Should rise confounding stream and bay,
The stain of one delirious night
Not all the tides can wash away.

Thick pours the smoke of thousand fires,
Life throbs and beats relentlessly ---
But lo, above the stately spires
Two lemans: Death and Leprosy.

What fruit shall spring from such embrace ?
Ah, even thou wouldst quake to hear !
He bends to kiss her loathsome face,
She laughs --- and whispers in his ear.

Sit not too proudly on thy throne,
Think on thy sisters, them that fell;
Not all the hosts of Babylon
Could save her from the jaws of hell.

II

Through the long alleys of the park
On noiseless wheels and delicate springs,
Glide painted women fair and dark,
Bedecked with silks and jewelled things.

In peacock splendour goes the rout
With shrill, loud laughter of the mad ---
Red lips to suck thy life-blood out,
And eyes too weary to be sad !

Their feet go down to shameful death,
They flaunt the livery of their wrong,
Their beauty is of Ashtoreth,
Her strength it is that makes them strong.

Behold thy virgin daughters, how
They know the smile a wanton wears;
And oh ! on many a boyish brow
The blood-red brand of murder flares.

See, through the crowded streets they fly,
Like doves before the gathering storm.
They cannot rest, for ceaselessly
In every heart there dwells a worm.

They sing in mimic joy, and crown
Their temples to the flutes of sin;
But no sweet noise shall ever drown
The whisper of the worm within.

They revel in the gilded line
Of lamplit halls to charm the night,
But think you that the crimson wine
Can veil the horror from their sight ?

Ah, no --- their staring eyes are led
To where it lurks with hideous leer:
Therefore the women flush so red,
And all the men are white with fear.

As in a mansion vowed to lust,
Where wantons with their guests make free,
'Tis thus thou humblest in the dust
Thy queenly body, Nineveh !

Thy course is downward; 'tis the road
To sins that even where disgrace
And shameful pleasure walk abroad
Dare not unmask their shrouded face !

Surely at last shall come the day
When these that dance so merrily
Shall watch with terrible faces gray
Thy doom draw near, O Nineveh !

III

I, too, the fatal harvest gained
Of them that sow with seed of fire
In passion's garden --- I have drained
The goblet of thy sick desire.

I from thy love had bitter bliss,
And ever in my memory stir
The after-savours of thy kiss ---
The taste of aloes and of myrrh.

And yet I love thee, love unblessed
The poison of thy wanton's art;
Though thou be sister to the Pest
In thy great hands I lay my heart !

And when thy body Titan-strong
Writhes on its giant couch of sin,
Yea, though upon the trembling throng
The very vault of Heaven fall in;

And though the palace of thy feasts
Sink crumbling in a fiery sea ---
l, like, the last of Baal's priests,
Will share thy doom, O Nineveh.

George Sylvester Viereck : Nineveh

 

Sheeler --- American Landscape

Charles Sheeler -- American Landscape

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The End Of Faustian Man

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The doom of our culture was already well upon it's way by the time of the Second World War --- or War of the Republics as I would prefer it to be known, since this was conducted entirely betwixt differing republican systems, all equally loathsome. Possibly not Japan, I guess, since it was at least nominally a monarchy, although cursory search indicates it was more of a constitutional monarchy. WWII may be summarized as that the nazis were detestable; the western allies despicable; and the communists disgusting.

The Russians had reverted to becoming savages by 1945: the Americans maintained their customary anthropological status as barbarians. Their especially barbaric political system of representative democracy had grave consequence as victors... The very first moralistic theatre was the judicial murder of General Anton Dostler, of which may be read here, written by the son of his American defense counsel. Essentially, 15 American soldiers were captured disguised as Italian civilians, and the --- non-nazi --- General referred the case to Kesselring, who ordered them to be executed. Admittedly Smiling Albert had enough to occupy his mind right then without giving this a great deal of thought, but under the laws of war this was a done deal anyway. It is pointless to object or blame soldiers for disguising; it is equally pointless to object to the consequence --- which procedure is actually there to protect civilians. Thus although guiltless --- neither prosecutor nor defence expected anything except acquittal --- General Dostler was then sentenced to death after new instructions were handed down from Washington in response to the revelation that the prosecution would fail, that is that henceforth in these trials hearsay evidence would be admissible. This was to satisfy the voting constituents. Democracy is awesomely repellent not merely in practice, but still more so in idealist theory...

'Hope to God we never lose a war.' said the prosecutor.

 

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Execution of German General Anton Dostler

 
Another version, shorter, but with a few more frames

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Incidentally, this trial caused the innocent prosecutor to lose his faith in the Rule of Law forever...

 

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Charles Gounod -- Finale of Faust

 

Constantine at the Battlements
Unknown -- Constantinos Paleologos at the battlements, Dawn of the 29th May of 1453

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Social Reports Unrequested

For those of us without any massive sense of humour the German variety does just fine. One would have idly considered that Charles V HRR could only appear capable of pure fun if compared with his son Philip, but appearances are usually deceptive.

In the heat of the chase Charles V once found himself separated from his suite. He rode through the forest till he saw a wood-cutter who showed him the way to a lonely inn. Hungry and tired he dismounted, tied his horse to a tree, and entered. Inside he found four men who seemed to be asleep. Their appearance was not prepossessing, but he sat down and bade the landlord bring him something to eat and drink. Suddenly one of the men stood up and rubbed his eyes. He strode up to the emperor, snatched away from him his sword, and then said with exaggerated politeness: "Pardon me ! but I have just dreamed that I was to take your sword." The others seized his hat and cloak and had just begun to search his pockets, when some of the emperor's servants appeared. They soon succeeded in overcoming the robbers. When Charles had described his adventure in a few words, he shut his eyes and was silent for a few moments. Then he opened them again and said: "I have just dreamed that I saw four thieves hanged." The villains screamed for mercy, but the emperor remained firm. Four ropes were lent by the landlord, and the emperor's dream was fulfilled.

 

Durer Owl

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And This She Did By Her Singing Fair

A notable instance of the futility of human judgement would be to blame Lorelei of the golden hair: she is how she is made, and her pitiless effects --- if unfortunate --- indicate no absence of a soul, nor malice; but rather the workings of mechanical fate and her inability to feel deeply. Of course, the forlorn sailors are equally blame-free --- except perhaps for not suppressing feeling enough.

 
The first two are of the Heine text; the third is not.

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Dorothea Fayne --- music by Friedrich Silcher

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Marcella Calabi --- music by Franz Lizst

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Dschinghis Khan


When first playing this last be careful not to view the video. In order to appreciate the complex splendour of the song it is imperative that it be not overly associated with the singers; whom excellent as they were in song, had, uh, vibrant and life-affirming tastes in costume and dance. After the song is absorbed and appreciated, then it may be safe to proceed to viewing.

 

What Has Been Seen

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And God Said, “Let There Be Blood”

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(Animals, High Germany, Literature, Places, Self Writ, Spengler)

Lingering self-respect has oftimes preserved me --- 'gainst all temptations --- from the more egregious effects of the zeitgeist of sentimentality: a modest pride holds in that I have never ever seen either It's A Wonderful Life or The Wizard Of Oz, f'rinstance. Now, Upton Sinclair was a notable story-teller, but a Hemingwayesquely poor writer --- 'What other culture could have produced someone like Hemingway and not seen the joke ?' as Gore Vidal wrote of his native land --- and his themes here are rather trite; bad capitalists... bad religion... exploiters... the family saga genre... so it's rather unlikely I shall bother to watch There Will Be Blood. Having a nearly all-male crew probably clinches it --- single sex movies suck as much as single sex communities... However the title is awfully good --- especially considering the vast importance of titling and it's common neglect --- so I tried to find from whence it came.

The Boston Globe attributed it to Byron:

Tears Like Mist

It makes good on the film's title, which may be taken from Lord Byron. "The king-times are fast finishing," he said. "There will be blood shed like water, and tears like mist. But the peoples will conquer in the end. I shall not live to see it, but I foresee it."

This is pretty painful stuff even for Byron, who ever veered precariously betwixt plodding doggerel and occasionally splendid fustian, and rarely hit the rocks of glorious lyricism. And as with Marx --- But Hubbard’s superb record for inaccuracy of statement clouded any of his positive remarks with a fog of doubt. to quote Stewart H. Holbrook on a notable capitalist of the latter's era --- it's not easy to ascertain the finished construct of the promised Paradise: presumably it will include peace, love, harmony, compulsory gender and racial equality, an incredible amount of daily uplift though one way communication, and a total absence of thought. Or, let us say, no class whatsoever.

 
Fortunately though, the probably ever-reliable China Daily gave the definitive origin:

Smite The Waters

The film's resonantly Old Testament title comes from the seventh chapter of Exodus where God, via Moses, orders Aaron to smite the waters so that "they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt". In the context of the film this biblical blood is oil, the contaminating element dealt in by its forceful central character.

The Bible is so beautiful...

 
[sarc] And God said, "Let there be Blood." [/sarc].

***

More importantly, a link from the China Daily went on to better news; in Düsseldorf the police are equipping their dogs with shoes.

Small, Medium And Large

"All 20 of our police dogs -- German and Belgian shepherds -- are currently being trained to walk in these shoes," Andre Hartwich said. "I'm not sure they like it, but they'll have to get used to it."

The unusual footwear is not a fashion statement, Hartwich said, but rather a necessity due to the high rate of paw injuries on duty. Especially in the city's historical old town -- famous for both its pubs and drunken revelers -- the dogs often step into broken beer bottles.

"Even the street-cleaning doesn't manage to remove all the glass pieces from between the streets' cobble stones," Hartwich said, adding that the dogs frequently get injured by little pieces sticking deep in their paws.

The dogs will start wearing the shoes this spring but only during operations that demand special foot protection. The shoes comes in sizes small, medium and large and were ordered in blue to match the officers uniforms, Hartwich said.

It's rarely one sees police-dogs in Great Britain --- nearly as rarely as police-horses --- but I hope they institute it here: broken glass on the streets, however, is not rare at all. [ If randomly picking up shards, I've found that one hand can hold a dozen of any size, but not more; and of course, one can only fill one hand... ]

 

Police Dog Booties

 
I was born in Düsseldorf, and that is why they call me Rolf...

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“War Is A Matter Of Expedients” Said Von Moltke">War Is A Matter Of Expedients” Said Von Moltke

Manstein ordered a signal to be sent back: "Withdrawal must be stopped at once."
But the signal no longer got through. Corps headquarters did not reply any more. Count Sponeck had already had his wireless station dismantled. It was the first instance of a commanding general's dis­obedience since the beginning of the campaign in the East. It was a symptomatic case, involving fundamental principles. Lieutenant-General Hans Count von Sponeck, the scion of a Düsseldorf family of regular officers, born in 1888, formerly an officer in the Imperial Guards, was a man of great personal courage and an excellent com­mander in the field. While commanding the famous 22nd Airborne Division, which in 1940 captured the "fortress of Holland" with a bold stroke, he had earned for himself the Knights Cross in the Western campaign. Subsequently, as the commander of 22nd Infantry Division, into which the Airborne Division had been converted, he also distin­guished himself by outstanding gallantry during the crossing of the Dnieper.
The significance of the affair lay in the fact that Count Sponeck was the first commanding general on the Eastern Front who, when the attack of two Soviet Armies against a single German division faced him with the alternatives of hanging on and being wiped out or with­drawing, refused to choose the former alternative. He reacted to the Soviet threat not in accordance with Hitlerite principles of leadership, but according to the principles of his Prussian General Staff upbring­ing. This demanded of a commanding officer that he should judge each situation accurately and dispassionately, react to it flexibly, and not allow his troops to be slaughtered unless there was some compel­ling and inescapable reason for it. Sponeck saw no such reason.

 

Prussian Bridge

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Blood Relative

Jam­ie stifled his yawns politely at pre­cisely three minute inter­vals dur­ing the com­puls­ory talk on blood dona­tion, his form-teacher did know that none of his fam­ily were favour­ers of this quaint prac­tice, since they had odd old-fashioned views not unlike Jehovah’s Wit­nesses on hygiene; to her relief Jam­ie did not raise these views in oppos­i­tion to the speaker’s ser­mon­ising, but actu­ally it might have been nicer if he had. Instead he obli­gingly recalled that: “one of my first cous­ins twice removed had his blood-group tat­tooed under his armpit. It must have hurt like b… awfully.” The speak­er beamed uncer­tainly, and, before vaguely drag­ging from some recess of memory in her dim little mind what this sig­ni­fied, remarked that this seemed rather excess­ively pruden­tial, but no doubt could have saved his life. His teach­er goggled palely as he replied sadly that no, he had stepped on a ‘S’ land-mine which had blown both legs off. The speak­er then remembered.
He, in his play­ing, gen­er­ally rather expec­ted his class­mates not to pick up all his ref­er­ences, which made some of it more of a game between he and whichever teach­er, the main enemy, usu­ally to his private appre­ci­ation mostly. But they did this, and added it as ammuni­tion for mak­ing his life hell, although as he expec­ted, none knew the dif­fer­ence between a first cous­in twice removed and a third cous­in: whil­st he could have claimed a diminu­tion on the grounds that as far as he knew  —  and his rel­at­ives in Ger­many may have been only as truth­ful as most there feel neces­sary in dis­cre­tion  —  it was Waf­fen rather than Toten­kopf, but to him that actu­ally wasn’t an excuse, they were all as poten­tially unpleas­ant bas­tards as any group of mur­der­ers. He couldn’t see why it was worse than being related to the oth­er untold mil­lions of trait­ors though: few people in these islands would not have had a dis­tant con­nec­tion to some scum who fought for or sup­por­ted par­lia­ment or Crom­well among the 6 mil­lion liv­ing then: and noth­ing could be as bad as that.

This large­m­inded­ness was occa­sion­ally irk­some for his fam­ily since this cheer­ful lack of reti­cence could fail to emphas­ize their abso­lute nor­mal­ity; as when dur­ing a garden party Jam­ie chat­ted ami­ably on not only two great-uncles who had fond memor­ies of Poland, one of their cous­ins who died in Crete, and someone who deser­ted in Greece to start a large fam­ily, but star­ted recall­ing that a more dis­tant rel­at­ive drowned as a frog­man in Ita­ly.

Shut up’ screamed his mother, who didn’t want people to think her entire blood rel­at­ives formed the bulk of the Ger­man Armed Forces dur­ing the last unpleas­ant­ness.

To be fair though, those who had, were gen­er­ous in their remin­is­cence to their klein­er eng­lischer Teufel whenev­er he was vis­it­ing in the Fath­er­land. He nev­er judged; and was politer than their own young­er gen­er­a­tion. Who judged a great deal.

 
Mrs. Bee­ston listened dis­fa­vour­ingly to the teacher’s embittered com­ment­ary in the common-room: “Per­son­ally, I always thought that little… that his blood would pois­on a rattle-snake.” was her com­ment. Lit­er­ally true, but this was the nearest she ever came to mak­ing a joke, one not so ano­dyne as to be accept­able at a party con­fer­ence, and they gazed approv­ing of her lev­ity.

***

fighting J

***

Any­way… I can’t con­ceive of allow­ing even a blood trans­fu­sion, let alone hav­ing the more repuls­ive intern­al parts of some ran­dom stranger inser­ted. Chacun a son goût, of course, but it seems to be more fit­ted for those without a high sense of per­son­al dainti­ness and those who prefer dis­hon­our over death. A recent post in the splen­didly named blog mediocracy  —  “‘mediocracy’ is a con­di­tion in which cul­ture is sub­or­din­ated to pseudo-egalitarian ideo­logy”  —  points out one aspect of this vam­pir­acy too little spoken about:

Do think about the fine print when you con­sider wheth­er to sign up/out/whatever to organ dona­tion.

How dead are organ donors?

Organs for trans­plant have to be taken from still-living bod­ies, bod­ies still per­fused by their nat­ur­ally beat­ing hearts, warm and so react­ive that muscle-paralysing drugs may have to be given to facil­it­ate the sur­gery.

Their own­ers will have been cer­ti­fied “dead” on the con­tro­ver­sial basis of bed­side brain-stem test­ing, a pro­ced­ure not suf­fi­ciently strin­gent to exclude some per­sist­ing brain-stem func­tion and which includes no test for what may be abund­ant life else­where in the brain.

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& Elsa">Bouguereau, Wagner & Elsa

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Following on from the Bouguereau in our last, the author of this video has merged Richard's music with William-Adolphe's paintings...

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Richard Wagner - Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral

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Universal Doom

Wolfgang Borch­ert wro­te prose-poems rather than short stor­ies, mostly of a des­pair­ing and strongly paci­fist­ic tend­ency, but then he had a bad war, being imprisoned twice by the mil­it­ary for extend­ing his crit­ic­al fac­ulty on the sub­ject of the war  —  some­thing not only that many sol­diers through the ages have done and shall do, but which was in any case rather pre­val­ent among­st Ger­man sol­diers. Espe­cially the less enthu­si­ast­ic on the Ost­Front.

Steph­en Spend­er, who added so much to the con­cept of effete­ness for Eng­lish authors, wro­te an intro­duc­tion to the posthum­ous trans­la­tions by Dav­id Port­er: ‘Borchert’s sol­diers are the doomed race of the Rus­si­an win­ter of 1941, and of Stal­in­grad. Noth­ing exis­ted for them before they went to Rus­sia. They are filled with the sense that if there are oth­er sol­diers, they must all feel the same, and be equally pass­ive vic­tims of their time. The Rus­si­ans are only a back­ground to their own misery and to the Ger­man Doom which is regarded as uni­ver­sal doom.

Fair enough. Des­pite passiv­ity not being quite the oper­at­ive word for a front that was nearly 2000 miles in length, and a 1000 miles in the wild blue yon­der.

 
Any­way, one of his short stor­ies…

***

They crouch on the stone-cold bridge para­pets and on the frost-hard metal rail­ings along the violet-stinking canal. They crouch on the hol­lowed, gossip-worn area steps. Among the sil­ver paper and autumn leaves at the side of the street, and on the sin­ful benches in the parks. They crouch, lean­ing, lolling again­st the door­less walls of houses, and on the nos­tal­gic walls and moles of the docks.
They crouch in a lost world, crow­faced, shrouded grey-black and croaked hoarse. They crouch and all aban­don­ment hangs down from them like limp, loose, crumpled feath­ers. Aban­doned by the heart, aban­doned by women, aban­doned by the stars.
They crouch in the dusk and damp of the shad­ows of houses, shun­ning the gate­ways, black as tar and tired of the pave­ment. They crouch in the early haze of the world’s after­noon, thin-soled and coated grey with dust, belated, day­dreamed into mono­tony. They crouch over the bot­tom­less pit, held by the abyss, sleep-swaying with hun­ger and home­sick­ness.
Crow­faced ( and how else ? ) they crouch, crouch, crouch and crouch. Who? The crows ? The crows per­haps. But above all human beings, human beings.
At six o’clock the sun turns the city mist and smoke red-gold. And the houses are velvet-blue and soft-edged in the tender light of early even­ing.
But the crow­faced men crouch pallid-skinned and white-frozen in their hope­less­ness, in their ines­cap­able human­ity, crept deep into their patch­work jack­ets.
Since the day before one man had been crouch­ing on the dock, smelling him­self full of har­bour smell and rolling crumbled masonry into the water. His eye­brows hung on his fore­head like the fringe of a sofa, des­pond­ent but with incom­pre­hens­ible humour.
And then a young man came along, his arms elbow-deep in his trouser-pockets, the col­lar of his jack­et turned up round his bony neck. The older man didn’t look up, he saw beside him the com­fort­less mouths of a pair of shoes and up from the water there quivered at him the toss­ing cari­ca­ture of a mel­an­choly male fig­ure. Then he knew that Timm was back again.
Well, Timm, he said, there you are again. Through already ?
Timm said noth­ing. He crouched on the quay wall beside the oth­er man and put his long hands round his neck. He was cold.
So her bed wasn’t wide enough, eh ? the oth­er began softly after many minutes.
Bed ! Bed ! said Timm angrily, I love the girl.
Of course you love her. But tonight she showed you the door again. So the bil­let was no go. It’s because you’re not clean enough, Timm. A night vis­it­or like that has to be clean. Love alone isn’t always enough. Oh well, any­way, you’re not used to a bed now. Bet­ter stay here, then. Or do you still love her, eh ?
Timm rubbed his long hands on his neck and slid deep into his coat col­lar. She wants money, he said much later, or silk stock­ings. Then I could have stayed.
Oh, so you do still love her, said the old man, hell, but if you’ve no money !
Timm didn’t say that he still loved her, but after a while he said rather more quietly: I gave her the scarf, the red one, you know. I hadn’t any­thing else. But after an hour she sud­denly had no more time.
The red scarf ? asked the oth­er. Oh, he loves her, he thought to him­self, how he loves her ! And once more he repeated: Aha, your beau­ti­ful red scarf ! And now you’re back here again and soon it’ll be dark.
Yes, said Timm, it’ll be dark again. And my neck’s miser­ably cold, now that I haven’t got the scarf. Miser­ably cold, I can tell you.
Then they both looked at the water in front of them and their legs hung sadly from the quay wall. A launch shrieked, white-steaming, past them and the waves fol­lowed, fat and chat­ter­ing. Then it was still again, only the city hummed mono­ton­ously between heav­en and earth, and crow­faced, shrouded blue-black, the two men crouched there in the after­noon. When after an hour a scrap of red paper tossed by on the waves, a gay, red piece of paper on the lead-grey waves, then Timm said to the oth­er: But I had noth­ing else. Only the scarf.
And the oth­er answered: And it was such a won­der­ful red, d’you remem­ber, eh, Timm ? Boy, was it red !
Yes, yes, Timm mumbled dejec­tedly, it was that. And now my neck’s damn well freez­ing, my friend.
How’s this, thought the oth­er, he still loves her and was with her for a whole hour. Now he won’t even be cold for her. Then, yawn­ing, he said: And the billet’s a gon­er, too.
Lilo’s her name, said Timm, and she likes wear­ing silk stock­ings. But I haven’t got any.
Lilo ? exclaimed the oth­er, don’t tell me that, man, she’s nev­er called Lilo.
Of course she’s called Lilo, replied Timm indig­nantly. D’you sup­pose I can’t know one called Lilo ? I even love her, I tell you.
Timm slid angrily away from his friend and drew his knee up to his chin. And he held his long hands round his skinny neck. A web of early dark­ness laid itself on the day and the last rays of the sun stood lost on the sky like a lat­tice. Lonely, the men crouched over the uncer­tain­ties of the com­ing night and the city hummed, big and full of seduc­tion. The city wanted money or silk stock­ings. And the beds wanted clean vis­it­ors at night.
I say, Timm, began the oth­er and was silent again.
What is it ? asked Timm.
Is she really called Lilo, eh ?
Of course she’s called Lilo, Timm shouted at his friend, she’s called Lilo, and she said when I have any­thing, I’m to go back.
I say, Timm, his friend man­aged after a while, if she’s really called Lilo, then you cer­tainly had to give her the red scarf. If she’s called Lilo, in my view, then she can have the red scarf. Even if the billet’s no go. No, Timm, for­get the scarf, if she’s really called Lilo.
The two men looked across the misty water away to the mount­ing twi­light, fear­less, but without cour­age, recon­ciled. Recon­ciled to quay walls and gate­ways, recon­ciled to homeless-ness, to thin soles and empty pock­ets, recon­ciled. Ines­cap­ably idled away into indif­fer­ence.
Thrown high, start­lingly, on the hori­zon, blown hither from who knows where, crows came tum­bling, their song and their dark feath­ers filled with the presen­ti­ment of night, reel­ing like ink­spots across the chaste tis­sue paper of the even­ing sky, tired with liv­ing, croaked hoarse, and then, unex­pec­tedly, a little fur­ther off, swal­lowed by the twi­light.
They gazed after the crows, Timm and the oth­er man, crow-faced, shrouded blue­black. And the water smelt full and mighty. The city, a wild tower­ing of cubes, window-eyed, began to twinkle with a thou­sand lamps. They gazed after the crows, the crows, long since swal­lowed, gazed after them with poor, old faces, and Timm, who loved Lilo, Timm, who was twenty, said:
The crows, man, they’re all right.
The oth­er man looked away from the sky straight into Timm’s wide face, float­ing pale-frozen in the half-dark. And Timm’s thin lips were sad lines in his wide face, lonely lines, twenty-year-old, hungry and thin from too much bit­ter­ness too soon.
The crows, said Timm’s wide face softly, this face made up of twenty bright-dark years, the crows, said Timm’s face, they’re all right. They fly home at night. Just home.
The two men crouched there, lost in the world, small and dejec­ted in face of the new night, but fear­lessly famil­i­ar with its fright­ful black­ness. The city, million-eyed and sleepy, glowed through soft, warm cur­tains at the night streets emp­tied of noise, their pave­ments deser­ted. They crouched there hard by the depths, lean­ing over like tired rot­ten poles, and Timm, the twenty-year-old, had said: The crows are all right. The crows fly home at night. And the oth­er babbled stu­pidly to him­self: The crows, Timm, hell, Timm, the crows.
There they crouched. Dumped there by life, the allur­ing, the lousy. Dumped on the quay and the corner. On pier and pon­toon. On mole and hol­lowed cellar-steps. Dumped by life on the dust-grey streets between sil­ver paper and fallen leaf. Crows ? No, human beings ! Do you hear ? Human beings! And one of them was called Timm and he’d loved Lilo for a red scarf. And now, now he can’t for­get her again. The crows, the crows croak their way home. And their croak­ing hung com­fort­less on the even­ing.
But then a launch stuttered, foam-mouthed, past them, and its scattered red light crumbled quiv­er­ing in the har­bour haze. And the haze was red for seconds. Red as my scarf, thought Timm. Infin­itely far off, the launch chugged away. And Timm said softly: Lilo. Again and again: Lilo Lilo Lilo Lilo Lilo.

Wolfgang Borch­ert : The Crows Fly Home at Night

 
Crow FLYING

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The Queen Of The Raging Host Passes : Present Arms

The dusk of evening has fallen over Berlin. A great yet silent crowd is rapidly moving through the chief street towards the royal palace, and every now and then a low whisper is heard, in which can be distinguished the words: "The King is very ill." In the palace itself yet greater silence reigns. The King's guardsmen stand motionless, the servants' steps are inaudible on the carpets of the corridors and the rooms. Now the tower clock strikes mid­night; all at once a door opens, and through it glides a ghostly woman, tall of stature, queenly of bearing.

She is dressed in a trailing white garment, a white veil covers her head, below which her long flaxen hair hangs, twisted with strings of pearls; her face is deathly pale as that of a corpse. In her right hand she carries a bunch of keys, in her left a nosegay of Mayflowers. She walks solemnly down the long corridor. The tall guardsmen present arms, pages and lackeys give way before her, the guards who have just relieved their comrades open their ranks; the figure passes through them, and goes through a folding door into the royal ante-room.

"It is the White Lady ; the King is about to die," whispers the officer of the watch, brushing a tear from his eye.

"The White Lady has appeared," is whispered through the crowd, and all know what that portends.

At noon the King's death was known to all. "Yes," said Master Schneckenburger, "he has been gathered to his fathers. Mistress Berchta has once more announced what was going to happen, for she can foretell everything, both bad and good. She was seen before the misfortunes of 1806, and again before the battle of Belle-Alliance. She has a key with which to open the door of life and happiness. He to whom she gives a cowslip will succeed in what­ever he undertakes."

Schneckenburger was right. It was Bertha, or Berchta, who made known the King's approaching death, but she was also the prophetess of other important events. Berchta ( from percht, shining ) is almost identical with Holda, except that the latter never appears as the White Lady. Many Germanic tribes wor­shipped the Earth-goddess under the name of Berchta, and there are numbers of legends about her both in North and South Germany.

One evening in the year was dedicated to her, and was called Perchten-evening ( 30th December or 6th January ), when she was sup­posed, as a diligent spinner, to oversee the labours of the spinning-room, or, magic staff in hand, to ride at the head of the Raging Host, in the midst of a terrific storm. She generally lived in hollow mountains, where she, as in Thuringia, watched over and tended the "Heimchen," or souls of babes as yet unborn, and of those who died an early death. She busied herself there by ploughing up the ground under the earth, whilst the babes watered the fields. Whenever men, careless of the good she did them, disturbed her in her mountain dwelling, she left the country with her train, and after her departure the fields lost all their former fruitfulness.

Once when Berchta and her babes were passing over a meadow across the middle of which ran a fence that divided it in two, the last little child could not climb over it; its water-jar was too heavy. A woman, who a short time before had lost her little baby, was close by, and recognised her dead darling, for whom she had wept night and day. She hastened to the child, clasped it in her arms, and would not let it go.

Then the little one said : "How warm and comfortable I feel in my mother's arms ; but weep no more for me, mother, my jar is full and is growing too heavy for me. Look, mother, dost thou not see how all thy tears run into it, and how I've spilt some on my little shirt ? Mistress Berchta, who loves me and kisses me, has told me that thou shouldst also come to her in time, and then we shall be together again in the beautiful garden under the hill."

Then the mother wept once more a flood of tears, and let the child go.

After that she never shed another tear, but found comfort in the thought that she would one day be with her child again.

 

Wild Lady

 

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