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Showing posts from August, 2006

I Rest My Blog

I will be out of town until the end of August, maybe until the first week of September,and will rest this blog until then.

Faust #2

THE HISTORIA OF FAUSTUS

II. How Doktor Faust Entered into the Realm of Sorcery

Thus was Doktor Faust even as a student of such a character that he loved what should not be loved and devoted his spirit day and night to the things to which no spirit should be dedicated. He strived with the arrogance of fallen angels to seek out the very foundations of heaven and earth that have been shrouded in mystery by God's grace from the very beginnings of time. For if we knew the secrets of creation we would equally know the secrets of God himself, and to seek to know the secrets of the Divine Father is to strive to set oneself on the same station as the divine God. Therefore beware, O Man, of him who speaks of the nobility of the search for knowledge, for in his heart he is driven by an intoxication brought on his soul by haughtiness, pride, hubris, insolence and folly. For it is folly not to know one's place in creation but instead to seek to elevate oneself even equal to the Divine. Suc…

Next Time, Remind Me Not To Take You Seriously

Well, it looks like Günter Grass, too, was a Nazi. Or at least he fought for them and took an oath to serve Hitler to the death, if he wasn't actually in the party. Yes, the leftist voice of a Nation's conscience, the man who always has a politically correct answer to everything, the man who acts like God with a pipe and long sentences, and who also just happens to be a true genius of words, he, too, not only did wrong but hid it like everyone else – like everyone's grandmother and grandfather who was once a two-bit army guard, like every ex-Stasi informant now working in a grocery store, like every other actor, writer, poet, sculptor of the time.

He's admitting to it voluntarily. His autobiography will appear in the next few weeks and he tells the truth in it, and has now spoken to the press (FAZ) in advance about it – what can I say, he knows how to sell a book. His story: When he was 17 he joined the Waffen-SS, an elite troop of soldiers (not the SS). Though he say…

Best Word #1: Male Entitlement

Recently I read a great term in a very good article in the New York Times about AIDS in Africa: "male entitlement to sex":

"No one really knows why. South Africa has astronomical rates of sexual violence — more than a quarter of the time, a young woman’s first sexual experience is coerced — and a strong culture of male entitlement to sex, but so do many other countries." (Tina Rosenberg, "When a Pill Is Not Enough", August 6, 2006)

It's surely been around a while, but I haven't really noticed it until now. I wonder what other kinds of entitlement there might be? Male entitlement to the good spot on the couch? Female entitlement to male money? Male entitlement to guilt? Female entitlement to being right in any argument?

I seriously like the term. People make fun of modern psychobabble words and politically correct vocabulary, but sometimes words pop up that fill a gap. "Entitlement" seems to me to be a counterpart of "empowerment&quo…

Happy Birthday Fotoboy

Fotoboy had a birthday party last night in his Kreuzberg studio, just a little dinner get-together. When I walked in I sensed something slightly out of the ordinary, and counted the women at the table. There were six women and two men (besides himself). I asked about what he is doing nowadays photography-wise and he spoke too low for me to hear him over the music. All I heard was "Mexico... New York... Edinburgh... London..." And there seemed to be girls names mixed in with each of those locations. I knew then that no matter what present I would have gotten him, it would have been wrong.

Happy Birthday, Fotoboy!

If Noel Sanssouci Can Do It, So Can I

Noel Sanssouci got me so jealous by updating and rewriting "Candide" that I decided to throw my hat into the ring as well with a rewriting of "Faust." Not Goethe's Faust, not Marlowe' or Mann's Faust, but the very first Faust from the 16th century, written only 50 years or so after the death of the real-life conjurer, magician and charlatan known under that name.

That first Faust novel, known as the "Volksbuch" or the "Historia," is basically a trashy recounting of all his adventures in sin with the Devil at his beck and call. (The original texts are available online – in the German original and as an excellent English translation; the German original is also available from Klett and Reclam.) It is the Harry Potter fantasy – all the cool things I would do if I knew magic – only cruder. Literarily speaking, this is the first grandfather of Harry Potter – the very first novel (at least that I know of) in the genre "Adventures in M…

Faust #1

THE HISTORIA OF FAUSTUS

Being the tale of the infamous sorcerer, including the specific and detailed description of his whole life and death, and how he made a pact with the Devil, and all his sins, magics, sorceries, conjurings, blasphemies, seductions, orgies, rapes, robberies, murders and the very blackness of his soul, yea, and how he thereafter went to his terrible and much-deserved reward.

I.

Of the Satanist's Blameless Parents and Misspent Education

The ignoble and iniquitous Doktor Faustus was born, innocent and sinless, to righteous, goodly Christian parents in Roda near Weimar. They were peasants both, but had kin in Wittemberg, which would soon be blessed by God to become the place where the inspired monk Martin Luther, God's instrument, would nail to the door of the Castle Church 95 Theses against the apostate and decadent Catholic Church – a city whose name the Devil is only too eager to besmirch. One of these kin in this blessed city, an uncle, was a merchant of g…

My Dinner with Noel

I finally got Noel Sanssouci into my living room with a Dunhill cigarette in one hand and a glass of Irish whiskey in the other, but still he wouldn't speak. Finally I told him: "Noel, I'm waiting for something witty, intelligent, scholarly and insightful, but I'm not getting anything." He stuck to platitudes, truisms and vicious literary gossip.

I have a great deal of respect for Noel Sanssouci for many reasons, the latest being that he had the guts to rewrite – without a publisher, just for the hell of it – Voltaire's "Candide" into a funny, weird and devastating modern version, in which young Vox bounces back and forth between Neo-Nazi paramilitaries, Balkan butchers and Al Quaida bombers, bumbling FBI agents, quasi-retro-modern slavegirls and African mass murderers until he – and the reader – has an undiluted picture of the world we read about every day in the newspaper but never in this intense, ugly-only form. In the end you are exhausted and …

Victim Envy

Red the Mad Canadian has gone back to Cologne now, where he will hang out with his fellow Mad Canadians in all those dark Mad Canadian bars and smoky Mad Canadian backrooms. But before he left we of course discussed cultural imperialism, a subject no good cocktail party can do without, and which in my opinion does not actually exist except in the minds of some whiny liberals and of course Mad Canadians.

The entire theory was embraced by European intellectuals who looked at their own imperial past – in which they were always the perps, never the victims – and discovered that victims get more sympathy than perpetrators. This is especially true in Germany, where people will do anything to disassociate themselves with their Nazi past (wouldn't you?):

"We want to be victims too! But how? Victims of poverty? Nah, no one will ever believe that. Victims of imperialism? Nah, we invented it, that's not going to hold for long. But wait! If only we could invent a form of victimizatio…

Best Joke #1

Red the Mad Canadian is gone now, but before he left we of course discussed Mel Gibson - the historian Mel Gibson, not the drunk Mel Gibson - and Red mentioned a cartoon he had seen in a newspaper:

Two traffic cops pull Mel over and they pop the trunk. Inside they see two Israeli soldiers, bound and gagged. "It's even worse than we thought," says one to the other.

So excited

Noel Sanssouci is coming to town Friday! I'm so excited! Check out his cool new pseudo-Voltaire novel on Telepolis...

Red the Mad Canadian

I had breakfast with Red the Mad Canadian this morning and he submitted the idea that Germany is more democratic than America. Canadians have to say things like that. I disagree: Germany is too clean and decent to be a real democracy.

A real democracy has to have something dirty about it. There has to be the element of the unwashed masses making their way into the White House. There has to be the element of trial and error in it, a sense that non-professionals, even immature children have taken power and don't know what to do with it. All our American presidents take power with no real international ambitions - they don't want to bring democracy to the Middle East, etc. But once they take power, they realize that they can do that (or try to do that) if they want to. They feel like kids locked into a toy store overnight. So they start bombing other countries.

Germany doesn't have that feel about it. Their chancellors are glorified clerks, they don't see the office as a ca…

The Books & I

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This is my next book (appears November 2006):



This is my first book:



This is me: