Tag: mago


Zeit zum Aufräum’. So the smallish pile of books needs to be attacked – smallish, tiny, ach … In no special order follow titles of books I read since the last list was published sometime in September.

Aperture Masters of Photography : Manuel Alvarez Bravo. Cologne 1997
Nicely done reproductions of ALVAREZ BRAVOs (Ger., Eng., Getty)  b/w photographs. A small tome with an essay by A.D. COLEMAN (Eng.). No special reason, I just wanted to look at good photography.
The same goes for another volume of the mentioned series :

Aperture Masters of Photography : Paul Strand. Cologne 1997
With an essay by Mark HAWORTH-BOOTH (Eng., website). I always admired Paul STRAND (Ger., Eng., Heilbrunn), somewhere around here is his New England book. Just look and enjoy.

DEUERLEIN, Ernst G. ; PAULUS, Herbert ; WILHELM, Hermann : Beiträge zur Kunstpflege in Erlangen. 50 Jahre Kunstverein Erlangen 1904-1954. Erlangen 1954
Erlangen (Ger., Eng.) is a city in Middle Franconia. There are no special things to know about Erlangen. Of course interested citizens founded an art society, and after ups & downs they presented themselves and the rest of the world with a festschrift for the fifty year jumbilee. Here it is.

SPROTTE, Bernhard : Geleit im Tauberland. Als Nünberger Kaufleute zur Frankfurter Messe zogen. Wertheim 1973 (Veröffentlichungen d. Historischen Vereins Wertheim, 1)
Merchants need to go to the market. Large markets were held through the Middle Ages right into Early Modern Times in free cities, like Frankfurt am Main, Nürnberg, Augsburg, and others. To travel safe merchants formed convoys and bought an escort from local rulers. For these domini terrae it was a good business ; fares, taxes and of course the segments where who had the right to escort, were fixed, but nevertheless disputed from time to time.
The valley of the Tauber is a natural East-West connection for travelling merchants. Also there were turnings towards Würzburg, in generally Northern direction, and to the South, generally in direction of the very rich Augsburg. SPROTTE, about whom I could find nothing more, depicts these aspects of the local history (of traffic, of commerce, of public safety) in a clear and even entertaining way. Of course it is only interesting for a local historian, and / or for someone who knows the area and places.

GOMBRICH, Ernst H.: Die Krise der Kulturgeschichte. Gedanken zum Wertproblem in den Geisteswissenschaften. München, September 1991
(zuerst : Ideals and Idols, Oxford 1979)
Damn, I wish I had read this twenty or more years ago. I always thought of GOMBRICH (Ger., Eng., archive) as an art historian – yes he is this too, but he is a cultural historian. I will not repeat here what Sir Ernst has thought, written & discussed in his unique way. This book, or better these articles published in one tome, are still today definitely worth a read, and thought or two.

WEIGAND, Waldemar : Das Königliche Spiel. Eine kulturgeschichtliche Studie. Berlin 1959
It is a small history of chess, with the emphasis of the origins. Simply nice. Could find nothing more on Mr WEIGAND.

GLENDINNING, Victoria : Edith Sitwell. 1. Auflage dt., Frankfurt (am Main) 1995
(zuerst : Edith Sitwell. A Unicorn Among Lions. 1981. Übersetzt von Karl A. KLEWER)
Edith (Ger., Eng.) and her brothers, reviled and revered. I think Ms GLENDINNING (Ger., Eng.) did an outstanding good biography of Ms SITWELL. She never ridicules her, never puts her on a piedestal, no worship, no bashing, but a clear view on this unique lady. Even if you are not especially interested in English poetry, or the intrigues etc. – just follow this strange person through her life, I find it terribly interesting.

That’s it. Maybe you found something interesting, and hence will start reading ?


Drano Is For The Weak

While I sit here at my desk I hear the grinding sound of a kind of chain running forth & back through a pipe. It was the background music for the whole day.
The housing management announced some weeks ago that workmen would take care of the downpipe in the bathroom of the appartements 2 (mine, I live in a “2”) and 4. It would be necessary that not only access to the flat is possible through the whole process, but that also an inhabitant shall be attending. I asked my janitor about this, because of my morning drive, I am usually back before or around nine o’clock. He advised me to pin a paper to my door and by this tell them that I’d be back at nine in the morning, and all is good : “They just need to have a look, no big deal.”
I wondered because I only had problems with the downpipe of the kitchen, and I know that other tenants had too. I think the number increased over the last two years.
This morning when I returned I met two young men in shock-orange, they were pretty upbeat. I mentioned that I’d have to leave in the afternoon – no, they do not expect to be here by then. And yes – it was the kitchen pipe they had to work on, no clue why someone had written “bathroom” in the announcement.
Soon they started to do what they had to do, and some interesting grinding sounds came to my ear. They came near my flat, becoming louder obviously, and went away, downwards. Some hours later Red (I’ll call him “Red”, he has red-golden hair ; his colleague may be called “Black” – sophisticated eh?!) came by and asked if all would be right. I said yes, no problems. The problem showed up when he turned on the faucet of my sink ; the water was spiralling down, and after some seconds it came back, and spurted out of the hole in the wall where the drain goes in.
He sighed deeply. I said that yesterday I had washed my dishes without any problems. He replied that this would be exactly one of those things that could happen. He marched off and soon another round of grinding noises started. I grabbed some rags and started the mop up. On second thoughts I took a small bucket with warm water & cleaner, and wiped the kitchen floor, it was needed anyway.
Some time later Red dropped by again, looking unhappy. He told me that the kitchen on the fifth floor was swimming, and the two ladies there were not happy about this. In fact they yelled some un-ladylike words, towards him and the world in general. But meanwhile the situation on the second floor would have resolved. I did not inquire.
I asked him why they would not simply throw some Drano down the pipe and hope for the best, at least he laughed.
Again some hours later I had to put my gear together and leave again. So I searched for Red & Black, because I wanted to know whether they still needed access to my flat. I found them on the highest level of the house in a maintenance room under the roof. Both looked tired.
Black was on the phone telling the foreman that they had lost that spirally thing they inserted into the pipe, a coupler or engagement thingy had given in. They had to stuff more than forty meters of this device into the pipe ; the pipe itself has a diameter of a little more than five centimeters, the cleaning thing exactly five. It moves, bangs, rotates, I have no clue what it needs to do to detach the slimy goop of forty years from the inside of the tube, but it does its job. Now it does nothing except blocking effectively a very long stretch of said tube. Don’t know how much they could pull out before the “thing” gave in.
I handed my key to Red, he would put it into my letterbox when they leave. He said that they would not plan to stay overnight here, with a wry grin … well …
Actually I have to drive a longish detour, so I have to start earlier in the morning to reach my first, most distant,  stop. In the evening I come back notably later than usual, despite the fact that when the kids are not aboard I can use some bumpy shortcuts.
I wondered how my kitchen would look like.
When I came home some hours later I found Black in my kitchen watching the drain and listening intensely. He told me that Red would be in the fourth, so I went there. Red had given the key to Beard, die Verstärkung, who actually was on the fifth. Beard was friendly, I got my key.
They now have to fight against blockage after blockage, it feels as if every ten centimeters a new obstacle arises. The spiral-thing is still in the tube, seemingly somewhere over the fifth floor. Without getting rid of the blockages they have no chance to reach the thingy from below and push it up with strong springs, or grab it with at least something. From above they have tried what there is to try. They have to clear this tube any way.
And exactly this is what they try to do.
Since I came home I had a sandwich, drank a beer, wrote this post. And listened to the interesting sounds in my kitchen wall. There seems no perceptible progress. In the end the poor sods will have to stay some more hours, sadly I can’t offer them at least a sandwich.

What is actually the name for that stuff that blocks a downpipe ? Any thing in mechanics, plumbing, in technics in general, has a (speaking) name, why not this stuff ? Does nobody collect & analyse it ? Ach, the wonderful, undetected world of gunk !
I really wonder when they will give in. And only hope that “gunk” will not explode into my kitchen tonight.

It was remarkably quiet for some time now. I thought that they left, but a glance in the yard where their vans are parked, shows me that an other one arrived. So they called for additional help and may pause, well deserved after more than twelve hours.

Just some minutes ago Black came by and told me that they have finished the job. Not much left from the matutinal shock-orange of his workwear, it’s more a solid black with orange dots. What a job.

Pop! Goes The Weasel

Chances are that you have heard the sound. It makes a distinct noise when a bubble bursts. And all of a sudden you stand naked & alone in the cold wet darkness. Of course you sit fully clothed at the desk in your warm appartement, but the feeling of being abandoned is overwhelming for a moment. Sometimes it is a glance or a gesture, or an email with three sentences that you read in less than two seconds. To stomach what it says, may take a wee bit longer.
Of course it was not a large bubble, but a nice one, allowed to develop not for long, so it could not become an obsession of some kind, or something to build on. Just a nice idea to follow, nice enough to raise time & effort ; initial success helped the bubble to grow, and the sceptical, more seasoned & experienced part of the self warned. Of course one listens to this, but it would be … nice, wouldn’t it ?
The bubble bursts silently, but very audible, and the quiet reverberation will stay for some time. And “time” is the master word here, a cruel master, fluid, oily, untouchable, merciless.
So I will soldier on. And drive my vehicle over narrow, muddy roads, take care for the passengers, and ignore the dents.

Books. Again

If there is nothing else to do but cough & wheeze, I can at least put that heap of books back into the shelves.
Here is the list of books I read since the last list from end of July. If you should be interested, the earlier posts are tagged “books”, of course.

RAGON, Michel : Ästhetik der zeitgenössischen Architektur. Neuchâtel (Ch) 1968 (Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts. Edited by Marcel JORAY)
RAGON (Ger.) (born 1924) is a French intellectual whose œvre contains fiction and non-fiction, from modern architecture (exhibition) via historical social movements to a dictionary of anarchy.
The message of this book is simple and can be condensed into one sentence : Concrete is great !
He writes a hymn about LeCORBUSIER and other modernists who built white cubes : MIES van der ROHE, NEUTRA, WRIGHT, SAARINEN, NIEMEYER, CANDELA, TANGE. Some of the architecture is undeniably great, while other pieces may have stood the test of time not so well. Anyway, the b/w photographs in this book are generally very good, always a pleasure to look at.
Marcel JORAY (1910-1996) founded the publishing house Editions du Griffon in 1950 and was the editor of a series about modern art – he organised the first Swiss exhibition of abstract painting in 1957. In 1977 he edited a book about concrete in contemporary art.

Sizilien. Reisebilder aus drei Jahrhunderten. Edited by Ernst OSTERKAMP. München 1986
For the armchair traveller. From RIEDESEL’s (It.) trip (1767), a friend and scholar of WINCKELMANN, to the top of the Aetna, to Ernst JÜNGER and the Swiss author Gerold SPAETH in the 1970s – impressions of Sicily collected by Ernst OSTERKAMP. With additional material about the authors. Nicely done.

Reisen in Nippon. Berichte deutscher Forscher des 17. und 19. Jahrunderts aus Japan. Collected & introduced by Herbert SCURLA. 6. Auflage, Berlin 1990
This tome collects reports about travels in Japan by Engelbert KAEMPFFER, Georg Heinrich von LANGSDORFF and Philip Franz von SIEBOLD.
SCURLA (Ger., Eng.) lived through two German dictatorships & showed a certain ability to adapt.

Caroline de la Motte FOUQUÉ. Geschichte der Moden 1785-1829. Als Beitrag zur Geschichte der Zeit. After the original from 1829-1830 edited by Dorothea BÖCK. Berlin 1988
Caroline was the wife of the oh-so-romantic poet & writer Friedrich de la MOTTE FOUQUÉ – for both of them it was their second marriage. She was not untalented, but in a certain sense never emancipated herself as a writer from models, “prototypes”, notably her second husband, who had been a successful writer, but fell out of favour and could not re-connect to earlier success. She had to write for money and did so in the Journal des Luxus und der Moden (Ger.), a very unique source. Her history of fashion is possibly the text where she is the most at herself.
About the editor, Frau Dr. BÖCK, I could not find out more.

GERARDI, Gertrud : Bilder aus Franken. Eine Auswahl von Bildern aus der Fränkischen Sontagspost der Nürnberger Nachrichten. Nürnberg 1960
Just black/white pictures of a Franconia long gone. GERARDI (Ger.) was an important German press photographer in the 1950s and 1960s. She documented the rebuilding of Nuremberg.

GRIESINGER, Peter : Biberach an der Riss. Ein Gang durch Vergangenheit und Gegenwart einer alten Reichsstadt. Fotos von Hans Klose. Biberach/Riss 1967 (?)
Just another of those books of only local interest. Nicely done, text well researched, good photography. Found nothing about author & photographer.

SCHÄFER, Hans-Peter : Die Anfänge der fränkischen Eisenbahn. Würzburg 1985
Very well done history not only of the origins of the Franconian railway, but gives an introduction into the Bavarian travel & transport planning of the 19th century. I could not find more about SCHÄFER. He seemingly was the head of the ill-fated “Unterfränkische Verkehrmuseum” that existed between circa 1988 and 1999 in Gemünden / Main.

Klassischer Journalismus. Die Meisterwerke der Zeitung. Collected & edited by Egon Erwin KISCH. 1. Auflage, Berlin 1982
A classic by E.E. KISCH (Eng.). Here as part of the complete edition of KISCH’s works by the old Aufbau-Verlag. This is the new one.

Perhaps some of these titles are inspiring your own reading.