mago, Persons


It’s a strange thing how we play along here on the web with our personalities and anonymity. Over time one develops a kind of internet alter ego, this figura or persona may be close to the real existing person or not, that’s an individual thing. Like an actor and his role.
Ed O’NEILL (Ger., Eng.), better known as “Al Bundy” (Ger., Eng.), once said that there is something of his own personality in the artificial persona (pretty much in fact), but it would be totally wrong to identify them. O’NEILL’s crux is – as it was and is for many other actors – that he always will be “Al Bundy” in the public eye. Whatever this “public eye” may be ; possibly a bored gossip writer in a sleazy newsroom … Would it be more convenient to imagine this writer awfully drunk or badly hung over ?
Of late I was trawling some gossip sites and looked at youtube and stuff, and always some person wanted to stick their tongue at me or hold their arse into my direction. Yes, I may be terribly behind and out of date – it’s all so last February.
But nevertheless,  the columns of the Daily Gossip for example are full of big arses of women, who are famous for having big arses. And other people, stars, starlets or F-celebrities, stick their tongues out. Or take photographs of themselves with other people in the picture (not so much, it’s only distracting, innit?) displaying body parts, trying desperately to be “sexy”, “erotic” or “interesting” – basically it’s just a cry for attention: I am here ! I am alive ! I live when you watch me. I am dead when you look away.
Sounds a bit like a robot program, perhaps for injured people, that only works when it’s needed and goes into hiding when it’s not called upon. Press the button (didn’t seventies mafia killers refer to themselves as “button men” ?), or simply look into this direction, and the arse twerking, tongue sticking, fake tanned bronzed zombie will shake whatever is there to shake. Or will pervert & reduce the fine art of self-portrait to “taking” a “selfie”. Like NIKE, the Greek deity of victory, was reduced to a hook on a gymnastic shoe.

Sometime in 1959 Saul STEINBERG (Ger., Eng.) took a brown paper back and draw an expression on it. Then he put it on his head. Inge MORATH* (Ger., Eng.) took some photographs. It’s called the “Mask Series“.
I am not STEINBERG ; the photographer is not MORATH – so whatever it’s worth, here is my “selfie”, tongue-less and twerk-free.




I fear I am a sorry old geezer now. But on the other hand I may only be in a mood. And because I am in a mood, here is some music to enjoy, all twenty minutes of it: Listen to Mr HALL, Mr DESMOND, and floating above them all, Mr. BAKER.

And whoever feels the need to stick out a tongue … shake their arse to me … oh dear … we’ve already seen it, darling … “eros” means not ramming it into the audience’s face !
But, on the other hand – I’m just another idiot with a paper bag on his head.

Vroum !

* I wrote about her and her picture of “Ms. Nash” here.


There Are No Winners in the History of German Literature

Shortly before leaving the bookmines I finally had the chance to read in the large and representative tomes of “Das Bayerland. Illustrierte Monatsschrift für bayerische Geschichte und Landeskunde”. And besides other things I found an article about the mother of August von PLATEN.
The bookmines are situated south of Ansbach in the middle of nowhere. And Ansbach (Ger., Eng.), as every small country town anywhere in the world, is proud of any great daughter or son of the “city”: Among these is August von PLATEN-HALLERMÜNDE (1790-1835) (Ger., Eng., works), a poet. August was the child of August Philip von PLATEN (1748-1831) and Louise Friederike EICHLER von AURITZ (1765-1842). It was the second marriage for his father; the first with a born von REITZENSTEIN went wrong, after six children they realized that they were not made for each other and divorced in 1792. August Philip von PLATEN was of lower-saxonian origin, had met the Markgraf of Ansbach in London and a kind of friendship seems to have developed. The Markgraf liked to travel with small acompagnie and to this inner circle the father of our poet belonged.
PLATEN received a small stipendium from the Bavarian king and thus could travel and write – of course he went to the land of desire for all the Northerners: Italy. PLATEN belongs to the late Romantics and was very proud of his skill to master forms, like sonnets, and even those not so common, like for example the Ghasel (Ger., Eng.). This Persian form was made popular by GOETHE and in the first half of the 19th century every poet worth a penny had to try it. I am in no way able to criticise PLATENs work, generally he is understood to have mastered this and other forms very well, his Ghaselen were published 1821.
The poet Karl IMMERMANN (1796-1840) (Ger., Eng.), together with his friend Heinrich HEINE (1797-1856) (Ger., Eng.), turned away from the late Romanticism – and he wrote some Xenien (yet another poetic form, Ger., Eng.) about this, which HEINE printed at the end of his travel book from 1827 Reisebilder: Zweiter Teil.  Under the title “Östliche Poeten” (easterly or oriental poets) the last Xenie says:

Von den Früchten, die sie aus dem Gartenhain von Schiras stehlen,
Essen sie zu viel, die Armen, und vomiren dann Ghaselen.


Of the fruits they steal from the gardens of Shiraz
they eat too much, the miserables, so they vomit Ghaselen

This was not nice. And PLATEN, who was something of a high maintainance bitch (even his cast-iron-loyal mother made remarks about his a tad too genialisch behaviour, that is surely not “genial” in the sense of cordially, all the opposite!) took this very personal. He attacked not only IMMERMANN but HEINE too – calling the latter “Synagogenstolz” using the whole range of antisemitic images including the “smell of garlic”. HEINE had conversed to (protestant) Christianity in 1825 and was not in the mood to accept anything aiming towards his religion. He had thought that the act of conversion would be enough, would protect him from antisemitic attacks. At the same time he was trying to reach a position as professor in Munich and understood this as attack on his plans and efforts to reach a secure bourgeois existence. So HEINE hit back in the third volume of his Reisebilder from 1830 with a lot of derogatory remarks about PLATENs homosexuality, kicking en passant some others in the groin like IFFLAND (Ger., Eng.). The Bavarian king Ludwig (the first one, Ger., Eng.) was not pleased and HEINE had to go to exile to Paris in 1831, no professorship for the baptised Judenbengel.
PLATEN was in Italy since 1826, and there he stayed for the rest of his life. He lived in Rome or Neapel, mostly alone, developing a small drinking problem. In 1835 he fled from the spreading cholera via Palermo to Syrakus, where he died. In the magazine tome I mentioned at the start of this dribble, I found an article by a man who had traveled with PLATEN in 1835, they parted only some days before PLATEN went to Sicily. The author mentions that PLATEN heavily used “Kalomel” to protect himself from the plague – mercury-chloride (Eng.). So chances are that PLATEN poisoned himself, preparing his death while running for his life. The whole thing is called the “Platen Affäre”, but I found no English article about it.


What Not to Wear

Using the trains here is normally a not unpleasant experience. The coaches are reasonable new and still in good shape, the ride is not bumpy, the conducteurs are friendly or at least not openly hostile. The crowd is mixed as always. When I travel to the bookmines in the Monday damndarkmorning (coined by Savannah) for two or three stations the waggon is filled with young people who go to their working place or vocational school (Berufsschule), and from their destination Ochsenfurt (Ger., Eng.) onwards its quiet and relaxed (20 minutes). These youngsters are basically tired from their weekend follies and do not talk too much, most of them look into some papers and try to remember what kind of profession they try to learn. There is the optional silent drinker, but again, the emphasis is on silent.
I spent the holiday (Wednesday, 3rd of October, day of unification, oh yeah … Ger., Eng.) at home and used the train this morning as usual. Less youngsters than usual, but to my utter astonishment groups of young men, with the obligatory occasional young lady among them, poured in wearing a kind of uniform: Blue or red chequered shirts, kind of  short leather trouser ending under the knee, woolish jumper; the young ladies wore skirts from the same pattern as the men’s shirts, with aprons (!); all of them, even the ladies, carried with them at least two bottles of beer, some small groups even a crate of beer (that is 20 bottles á 0,5 liter); and they cracked open their bottles and started more or less heavy drinking.
An especially nasty group settled near me and made me leave when one of the pissheads sprayed himself and a part of the waggon with beer, because he was too dumb or drunk to crack open a Kronkorken (Ger., Eng.). Besides they were blubbering out loudly and stupidly, and from Marktbreit (Ger., Eng.) onwards (30 minutes, first beer finished) it became subterranean, unacceptable and unbearable. I found a silent place at the very end of the train – in company of another angry-looking man (a silent drinker), and we must have been impressive, because until Ansbach (Ger., Eng.) (where I left) nobody came near us. I greeted him on exit, he nodded: Cheers, unknown fellow traveller! Ansbach station saw even more of the Halbaffen boarding the train.
I had no idea where these uniformed idiots were heading to until I spoke about it with the bus driver: All these people go to München (no links to the Hauptstadt der Bewegung!) and visit the Oktoberfest (Ger., Eng.). They don their uniform, swig their booze, and behave like arses, in masses. Acting “Bavarian”, like “Bauern”, on the “Volksfest”.
Sometimes this night all these drunkards  are transported back to their stables, where ever this may be, also via train; thankfully I do not have to use a night train in the coming days – said orgy ends coming Sunday.

I do not care if someone wants to get drunk in the early morning or wants to visit said infernal pandemonium in Munich. But why do these people feel the need to wear a uniform? I seriously do not understand it: Maybe the leather trousers are pee- and vomit-friendly?!
They masquerade themselves as “Bavarians” with a “national costume” (Tracht, Ger., Eng.), invented in the 19th century – as are so many other things, the late great Eric HOBSBAWM (1917-1912) (Ger., Eng.) showed some in  The Invention of tradition (1983) (Ger., Eng.). I know about the power of costume, I act differently when in full regalia (three-piece suit with Schlips, Querbinder or foulard; good shoes – they are so important! The right accessories, men carry few, but they must be well worth it – ah vanitas rises its ugly head …); people acted different towards me when I was wearing the “security”-costume, but I will never again wear such a kind of Clownerie, GOtt sei mir gnädig! It is fun to disguise, and of course the mask gives freedom – but the people I saw today used the mask to act just uncivilized and unworthily.
But who am I to criticize, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. Nevertheless, the next time I see one of these cheap ugly chequered shirts I stand up and leave, immediately. 
What the hell is so difficult about getting drunk in style?



If you write the term “Goldmachen” into the search box of a German opac of a university library and then use Fernleihe, chances are that among the results the historical literature prevails, and that the names Johann Gabriel DRECHSLER (book), Daniel Georg MORHOF (1639-1691) (Ger., Eng., NDB) (book), and of course Wilhelm von SCHRÖDER (1640-1688) (Ger., ADB) (book) will pop up.
The title Goldmachen. Wahre alchemystische Begebenheiten, Heilbronn s.a. (ca. 1940), may not show up in large numbers. It seems to me that it was published in a very limited edition only and I am too lazy now to work myself through the catalogues to verify whether it was reprinted later.
Alexander von BERNUS (1880-1965) (Ger., bibliography) was a poet and an alchemist. As a toddler he is adopted by the childless brother of his mother, the family moves to Manchester. From 1886 they live in Stift Neuburg (Ger., Eng.) near Heidelberg, it comes into his possession after the death of his adoptive father 1908. Here his only son Alexander Walter, called Alwar (born 1903) has a deadly accident while playing in the chapel of the abbey. In the same year, 1911, the marriage with Alwar’s mother, the writer Adelheid von SYBEL (1878-1966) (Ger.,) is divorced. They had married 1902, while Alexander was a student of literature (Literaturwissenschaft) and philosophy in Munich. These years in Munich before the first world war are defining, because he comes in contact with people who will later play an important role in art, science and culture, like WOLFSKEHL (Ger., Eng.; who dies in exile in NZ), the great Richarda HUCH (Ger., Eng.); his first poems are published together with works of Stefan ZWEIG (Ger., Eng.); WEDEKIND (Ger., Eng.), HESSE (Ger., Eng.; works; film), Thomas MANN (Ger., Eng.) among others are regular visitors in Neuburg – until 1926, when he gives it back to the Benedictine order.
He marries the Baltic artist Imogen von GLASENAPP (1876-1939) in 1912, a daughter is born 1913, they split in 1929. He meets his third wife Isolde (“Isa”) (1898-2001) (Ger.), they have a daughter Marina in 1933,  and during the war they move to the small baroque house Schloß Donaumünster (Ger.) near Donaumünster. Marina marries Peter FULD (1921-1962), lives later in Canada.

After 1911 von BERNUS becomes a member of the theosophical (Ger., Eng.), later the anthroposophical society (Ger., Eng.; Goetheanum), STEINER (Ger., Eng.) is a guest in his house and seems to have had an influence on BERNUS’ alchemistical work.
von BERNUS turns either already 1908 or after Alwar’s death 1911/12 towards alchemistic work and starts to develop spagyric remedies (Ger., Eng.; patent) in his laboratory in the abbey (SOLUNA; extensive German article). Basically he follows Paracelsus (Ger., Eng.) and works himself through the old Iatrochemie (Ger., Eng.) of the 16th and 17th century.
After his death Isa keeps his heritage together in the crumbling mansion. Alexander von BERNUS left behind circa one thousand poems, a large number of translations, some plays. And of course the laboratory and his receipts and formulae: As I understand it, they still produce today what he started to develop well before WWI.