Werther at Marienbad
oz oz oz
belle et bete
The most brilliant Bourbakian was Alexandre Grothendiek. He was born in 1928 to an anarchist journalist and a one-armed street photographer, and his doctorate [...] contained enough discoveries for six seminal papers. "Naive and childlike", he wore tyre sandals and was an expert boxer. In the 1960s he broke from the group, advocating a foundational idea for all mathematics that is even more basic than sets - categories, in which objects have no essential existence at all. At this metaphysical exposure, mathematics started to fight back and drove Grothendiek mad. [...] He became convinced that the devil had meddled with the speed of light. In 1991, he burned 25,000 pages of his original writings and disappeared into the Pyrenees.
A. Masters, "The many in the one", ibid.
Nicolas Bourbaki, one of the great mathematicians of the twentieth century, did not exist. He was the collective name of a small group of boisterous French who determined in the 1930s to rewrite the moribund university syllabus, starting from the barest principles and definitions and working upwards: "Euclid for the next 2000 years." [...]
When an article by the non-Bourbakian Ralp Boas appeared in the Encyclopaedia Britannica explaining that the man was in fact a collective pseudonym, Boas received a letter from Bourbaki, from his "ashram in the Himalayas". "You miserable worm", it began, "how dare you say that I do not exist". "Here", observed Boas, "Bourbaki was displaying less than his usual precision of language, since I had not asserted his non-existence, only his non-individuality". Bourbaki then started a rumour that Boas did not exist.
Alexander Masters, "The many in the one", TLS April 18 2008, p.29
His father served as Marylin Monroe's physician, while his mother appeared in many movies in the 1940s, and the family home was often visited by the novelist Henry Miller, whose fifth marriage took place there. Miller used to introduce young Siegel to new books, give him cryptic advice ("try to write with your left hand"), and then beat him at ping-pong. [...]
When he was writing a series of scholarly books about India, Siegel's fieldwork, for example, involved performing as a stooge for itinerant Indian street magicians, who gulled tourists with fake decapitations. [...]
The kind of verbal games this permits is best demonstrated by Siegel's first novel, Love in a Dead Language (1999), which is about the death of a Sanskrit scholar, Leopold Roth, who specialized in studying sentences made up of identically ordered letters, which differ only in terms of the number of spaces between those letters. Roth's dissertation is titled Oflyricheros, which, depending on the spacing, reveals either the disappearance of love, (O Fly Rich Eros), or a paean to poets (Of Lyric Heros) [...]
Stephen Burn, "Call me Ponce", TLS April 18 2008, p. 19
DOCTOR: Hm, aufgedunsen, fett, dicker Hals, apoplektische Konstitution. Ja Herr Hauptmann sie können eine Apoplexia cerebralis kriechen, sie können sie aber vielleicht auch nur auf der einen Seite bekommen, und dann auf der einen gelähmt sein, oder aber sie können im besten Fall geistig gelähmt werden und nur fortvegetieren, das sind so ungefähr ihre Aussichten auf die nächsten vier Wochen.
DOCTOR: Hmm, bloated, fat, thick neck, apoplectic constitution. Yes, Major, you may get an apoplexia cerebralis, but you may only get it on the one side and then become paralysed on that side, or, best case, you may become mentally paralysed and vegetate henceforth, these are roughly your prospects for the next four weeks.
G. Büchner, Woyzeck, Reclam, 2005, p.21. transl. mine.
German History IX
Der nächste Film mit einem guten, weil irrtümlichen, Nazi ist bereits im Kino, seit April in Dland. John Rabe.
"Es ist ein Kreuz mit dem Hakenkreuz - keine Gelegenheit wird ausgelassen, damit zu winken. Als globale Brandmarke hat es Konjunktur. Der Vorleser, Operation Walküre, Defiance - die "anderen" Geschichten werden geradezu inflationär erzählt. Der Nationalsozialismus ist zu einer universellen Bildsprache geworden.
What's next? Romantische Liebesgeschichten im KZ mit aufrechten SS-Offizieren, die gegen Hitler kämpfen, der gar nicht in der NSDAP war, sondern in der Jugendfeuerwehr?"
Jürgen Kiontke, "Film des Monats" in: Konkret 4/2009, S. 51