Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Sometimes it's wichtig not Ooh, la la

Lucy’s just off a Rilke high and reads Montaigne, Plutarch reads Montaigne and quotes Aurelius and Avus urges Wang Shih Chi. I am reading Elmore Leonard’s Pronto. It features Ezra Pound (jokily), plotting and dialogue are worth plagiarizing, but it’s a comic thriller (an under-subscribed genre) and it’s fun.

I have my moments. Peter Watson’s The German Genius (964 pp, £30, so you’ve got to be serious) was written almost in despair. A prophet of German culture Watson believes that for most Brits Germany is The Third Reich and nothing else. He compensates with this history of German ideas over the past 250 years legitimately sub-titled Europe’s Third Renaissance.

Ideas aren’t just philosophy they’re religion, science, painting, music, education, plays, movies, poetry, and – yes, I fear – war. Thus the cascade: Goethe, Marx, Leibniz, Clausewitz, Heidegger, Wagner, Brecht, Beethoven, Beuys, Nietsche, Biedermann, Boltzmann, Bonhoeffer, Büchner, Kant, Spengler, Dürrenmatt, Engels, Feuchtwanger, Freud, Grass, Hegel, Herzog, Kraft-Ebing, Lang, Mann…plus the companies AEG, BASF, Benz… plus… well you get the idea. Being pro-German isn’t as sexy as being pro-French but it is high protein.

CRISPER I’m surprised about this apfel strudel’s asymmetry; Mrs BB likes to go for decorative touches but here she was discouraged. She believes the filo pastry remained in the freezer too long and “dried out”. It’s crisper than usual but perfectly edible. Any ideas?

THE LOVE PROBLEM Chs 1 – 2, 11,340 words, February 15 2011. Fun for the author doesn’t always mean fun for the reader. But I’m enjoying truffling – eg, How do you switch off the engine of a Cessna 172R? Jana’s tougher than Clare (of Gorgon Times) but we meet at the altar of her love for flying.

15 comments:

Plutarch said...

Pity about The Third Reich. There is so much there on either side. That book has leaped from Works Well straight on to my reading list. Even The Third Reich has its heroes. Have you come across Hans Falada, a novelist who died in 1947, well known in Germany, but only recently translated into English? Penguin have remedied the omission. So far I have read Alone in Berlin, which anyone who wants a gripping novel, which also stands out as an enduring work of literature, should read.

Some years ago an Austrian woman who lived nearby used to present me with an apple strudel. It tended to be a little soggy. Mrs BB's look better; the crispness is surely as the recipe intends.

I once attended a truffle hunt in France. Does that? count as truffling?

Lucy said...

Oh wunderbar, do you know what the cv is? Dingen!

I am still on a Rilke high, just taking a break, having been a bit grossed out by 'The Notebooks of Malte'. But I have a lovely yellow cloth bound selected letters, late of Liverpool public reference library, bought for a couple of quid through Amazon, awaiting my attention. But Montaigne has seduced me, as he does, via Ms Bakewell. Sounds all very dodgy. Something I didn't know, though, which she does, is how much Nietsche loved Montaigne, the first German really to do so in centuries, or ever. This endears Nietsche to me greatly, so I will perhaps at some point try to get past the 'That which does not destroy us...' rubbish (which will forever be associated for with the epigraph of 'Conan the Barbarian' ha-ha!) and look further at Nietsche.

I've always loved so much about Germany and things and people German. It was my favoured second language for a very short while in my teens after a lovely visit to a family in Schleswig-Holstein, but then I foundered on compound nouns those verbs you have to break into bits, if the word order for TMP clauses and case endings hadn't done for me already.

This book looks a good place to delve deeper...

Lucy said...

Oh, and if you don't want that apple strudel I'll have it.

marja-leena said...

Ah, sounds like a great book for us both and I see our library has a copy! Fred will enjoy it, I'm sure, and I imagine it will likely fill many gaps in my knowledge. "Being pro-German isn’t as sexy as being pro-French but it is high protein." - hah!

Apfel strudel is supposed to be crisp (though maybe the phyllo was a bit dry if it cracks too much in handling) - yum, my mouth is watering.

Avus said...

Any ideas regarding your Apfel strudel?
Pass the clotted cream and let me have it for a while and I will report back (eventually).

Julia said...

That strudel looks just right. A flaky crust on the outside is a wonderful complement to the baked apple. Pour a little warm cream or melted vanilla ice cream over each slice and you've got the perfect central European dessert!

Barrett Bonden said...

All: A great tragedy, Chez Bonden. Mrs BB, misreading the tone of my post, consigned the strudel to the dustbin. I had plans for it that stretched to the end of the week. Oh, Scheisse

Plutarch: The Fallada book is ordered. Perhaps I can lend you the Watson book, do a Checkpoint Charlie at The Retreat? Too heavy to mail. I shan't be re-reading it for a while.

The Love Problem. With my American hero, flying planes in SW France, I am constantly Googling for all sorts of check-ups (linguistic, geographic, aviational); slows down the writing but there's always a chance of serendipity.

Lucy: Dingen! And received wisdom says the Germans aren't capable of conciseness. Rilke: Plutarch gave me a Penguin of German poetry translations; I intend to read (Memorise? In German?) some Rilke so that we can briefly stand shoulder to shoulder. Nietsche: Figures big time in The German Genius - very comical story about his failure to respond properly to a gesture from one of his greatest admirers, Wagner.

My feelings exactly about German and Germany. In my youth my German was far better than my French, the result of a fortnight spent with a German family in Hattingen-Ruhr. More recently I've always felt that French was something of a cop-out compared with German and I am constantly attempting to assuage this guilt via comment and questions with Rouchswalwe.

Lucy (Pt 2): See above.

M-L: Oh this one definitely fills in all the cracks. As you well know my attitude towards formal education has never been enthusiastic since it touched me so lightly. However, the chapter on how the German education system evolved (surely a model for the world) was actually quite gripping.

Strudel: See above.

Avus: See above.

Barrett Bonden said...

Julia: My comments and re-comments are getting so long these days that time elapses and incoming comments sneak in under my radar as I'm writing them. As to the strudel, read "All" above.

Rouchswalwe said...

Pity about the Strudel. Whipped cream with very little sugar would have been a grand friend to it. This all brings to mind Dudley Moore on the piano: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1n7BCUVJkhU

Barrett Bonden said...

RW (zS): What I love about Beyond the Fringe is the assumption that the audience is broadly intelligent and aware of cultural matters. Followed by the savagely chosen targets. Anybody who has tried to get a handle on Britten's music and has failed because virtually all the vocal stuff was recorded by his lover Peter Pears will laugh as I did (alone in my "office") at the way Miss Muffet latches on to every one of Pears' failings. (Very much an acquired taste is old PP.) I note that another of the clips is titled Erlkönig and that is the piece Moore is sending up. But they should have listed it under the name BTF invented - Die Flabbergast.

The Crow said...

So very sorry about the strudel, BB. I was looking forward to a brief note after you'd enjoyed it.

I thought it looked delicious, too. Phyllo dough is a tricky thing to bake, but I thought Mrs. BB had done a fantastic job.

*Sigh* This vicarious eating is not nearly as satisfying as I'd hoped.

Occasional Speeder said...

If you want to read something far more lighhearted about Germany - can I recommend "Germania" by Simon Winder. It's not perfect but certainly whiled away the 21 hours spent travelling from Mombassa to deepest Gloucestershire. Mixed reviews on Amazon as the author declares he cannot speak German and refuses to include anything after World War 2 started. But I found it laugh out loud in places.
But then I secretly adore Germany....

Barrett Bonden said...

OS: News to me. Perhaps you'd better let me know more. But I too am a Germanophile and on no more than a recommendation by Plutarch I have yet another translation speeding its way via ABE. April 10 OK, by the way.

Hattie said...

Ger Man genius. I love it. All those men. So profound. So wichtig.
But I like Heine.

Barrett Bonden said...

Hattie: I'm puzzled by the "But". Who's denying you Heine? The list in my post was never meant to be comprehensive.