Zettel’s links

September 19, 2003 at 11:58 pm | In yulelogStories | 4 Comments

How very strange. Dave Winer reports that his uncle Ken Kieser just died in Jamaica — a man who appears to have been something of a genius, not least in terms of being a Lebenskuenstler (a person who figures out how to live vividly and artfully, with inspiration). In an aside in his tribute, Dave mentions that his uncle’s uncle was Arno Schmidt, and you sort of have to wonder how strangely a theme can wend its way through relations. Arno Schmidt (1914-79) was an avant-garde writer whose best-known work, Zettels Traum (Zettel’s Dream), was hailed as a hypertext document before its time on this 1996 page by Stefan Muenz. The book — thousands of pages, called “elephantine” because of its physical heft — was praised for its non-linearity when it was published in 1970 — and of course it was working out themes that would be endorsed by subsequent literary theory: the problems of narrative, of its form or structure, the dispersal of a unified point of view in the novel, and so on. Zettels Traum is entirely written in 3 columns (Schmidt wrote it that way on his typewriter), which I suppose contributes to its sense of dis-integrating the page — the page is no longer one page, unified, but three scraps of pages on a page. Zettel, incidentally, can be a name, but ordinarily means a scrap piece of paper, something you use to jot down notes. The middle column represents the main “novelistic” thread, whose main character is the aging writer and historian Dan Pagenstecher. His is a punning name: Page means courtly page, but also refers to the English word for paper page, which relates to Zettel; a Stecher is an etcher, but also someone who pokes or needles. One summer day he receives visitors, a married couple named Jacobi who are both translators, and their 16-year-old daughter Franziska. They talk about Edgar Allan Poe, whom the Jacobis are translating, and thus the left column has Poe-quotes — some verbatim, others altered, estranged from themselves, a discombobulating collection. The right column in turn has commentary by the first-person narrator (i.e., not Pagenstecher). As Muenz notes, you can think of the middle column as a trail, and the left and right-hand columns as instruments for meta-information.

Sort of like a blog is, sometimes/on occasion, or like the workings of hypertext.

How odd, a concrete connection between avant-garde literary practice and …well, this web-stuff.

And just for fun, to show that it doesn’t hurt the avant-garde writer or his alter-egos in hyperspace to have self-confidence of elephantine proportions, here’s a quote by Arno Schmidt — no shrinking violet, he — about himself: “Ich finde Niemanden, der so haeufig recht haette, wie ich!” (“I don’t find anyone who is right as often as I am!”) [n.b.: Schmidt puts the verb — haette (would have) in the conditional, so perhaps a better translation would be, “who would be right,” not the unconditional “is right.” But it’s a differentiation of inflection, not a fundamental alteration. Wish I had some of that ‘tude, chutzpah, whatever… wow.]

I haven’t read Zettels Traum, although we have some books of Schmidt’s around the house (it’s just a question of finding the trail to find them… ), but maybe I will now.

And 58 is too young to die; sorry to hear that you lost your big brother uncle, Dave.

4 Comments

  1. As someone who knew Ken Kiesler very well, since I lived at his commune in Florida for many years, I’d like to say that it’s easier to live vividly and artfully, with inspiration, if you don’t have to worry about money.

    Ken Kiesler obtained succor from his mother’s teat long after his beard began to turn gray.

    She gave him money when she was alive, because she feared he would get into trouble with drugs.

    Her fears were not unwarranted. He used to give me LSD, to exploit the vulnerabilities and insecurities of a teenager.

    Don’t believe this “Ken was a saint”
    rubbish.Like most people, his personality was a mixture of good and evil, with a definite tilt to the dark side.

    He and his wife, Dot, bless her naive soul,
    kept a bas-relief head of a horned god on the wall of their geodesic dome, above the stove, for many years.

    I was never sure whether it was Pan or Satan. I know that Ken certainly had Satanic aspects, regardless of what value you assign to the notion of an actual Being called Satan.

    I was not the only one who sensed the presence of Great Evil
    around him.

    I couldn’t be sure if the aroma of evil emanated from Ken himself, or a spirit within him.

    If I said publicly what I think he and his uncle, Arno Schmidt, really were, the authorities would probably lock me up, as they have before when I was too free with the truth.

    I don’t know if Dave Winer is in on the family secret or not. Judging by his anti-social behaviour, I suspect that he is.

    There is much more to this, and I’m trying
    to ferret it out.

    I will say this: it’s possible to work with Dave Winer, but always keep an eye on both his hands.

    Say thank you, Dave Winer, to Vince

    Comment by Vince Williams — October 9, 2005 #

  2. As someone who knew Ken Kiesler very well, since I lived at his commune in Florida for many years, I’d like to say that it’s easier to live vividly and artfully, with inspiration, if you don’t have to worry about money.

    Ken Kiesler obtained succor from his mother’s teat long after his beard began to turn gray.

    She gave him money when she was alive, because she feared he would get into trouble with drugs.

    Her fears were not unwarranted. He used to give me LSD, to exploit the vulnerabilities and insecurities of a teenager.

    Don’t believe this “Ken was a saint”
    rubbish.Like most people, his personality was a mixture of good and evil, with a definite tilt to the dark side.

    He and his wife, Dot, bless her naive soul,
    kept a bas-relief head of a horned god on the wall of their geodesic dome, above the stove, for many years.

    I was never sure whether it was Pan or Satan. I know that Ken certainly had Satanic aspects, regardless of what value you assign to the notion of an actual Being called Satan.

    I was not the only one who sensed the presence of Great Evil
    around him.

    I couldn’t be sure if the aroma of evil emanated from Ken himself, or a spirit within him.

    If I said publicly what I think he and his uncle, Arno Schmidt, really were, the authorities would probably lock me up, as they have before when I was too free with the truth.

    I don’t know if Dave Winer is in on the family secret or not. Judging by his anti-social behaviour, I suspect that he is.

    There is much more to this, and I’m trying
    to ferret it out.

    I will say this: it’s possible to work with Dave Winer, but always keep an eye on both his hands.

    Say thank you, Dave Winer, to Vince

    Comment by Vince Williams — October 9, 2005 #

  3. As someone who knew Ken Kiesler very well, since I lived at his commune in Florida for many years, I’d like to say that it’s easier to live vividly and artfully, with inspiration, if you don’t have to worry about money.

    Ken Kiesler obtained succor from his mother’s teat long after his beard began to turn gray.

    She gave him money when she was alive, because she feared he would get into trouble with drugs.

    Her fears were not unwarranted. He used to give me LSD, to exploit the vulnerabilities and insecurities of a teenager.

    Don’t believe this “Ken was a saint”
    rubbish.Like most people, his personality was a mixture of good and evil, with a definite tilt to the dark side.

    He and his wife, Dot, bless her naive soul,
    kept a bas-relief head of a horned god on the wall of their geodesic dome, above the stove, for many years.

    I was never sure whether it was Pan or Satan. I know that Ken certainly had Satanic aspects, regardless of what value you assign to the notion of an actual Being called Satan.

    I was not the only one who sensed the presence of Great Evil
    around him.

    I couldn’t be sure if the aroma of evil emanated from Ken himself, or a spirit within him.

    If I said publicly what I think he and his uncle, Arno Schmidt, really were, the authorities would probably lock me up, as they have before when I was too free with the truth.

    I don’t know if Dave Winer is in on the family secret or not. Judging by his anti-social behaviour, I suspect that he is.

    There is much more to this, and I’m trying
    to ferret it out.

    I will say this: it’s possible to work with Dave Winer, but always keep an eye on both his hands.

    Say thank you, Dave Winer, to Vince

    Comment by Vince Williams — October 9, 2005 #

  4. As someone who knew Ken Kiesler very well, since I lived at his commune in Florida for many years, I’d like to say that it’s easier to live vividly and artfully, with inspiration, if you don’t have to worry about money.

    Ken Kiesler obtained succor from his mother’s teat long after his beard began to turn gray.

    She gave him money when she was alive, because she feared he would get into trouble with drugs.

    Her fears were not unwarranted. He used to give me LSD, to exploit the vulnerabilities and insecurities of a teenager.

    Don’t believe this “Ken was a saint”
    rubbish.Like most people, his personality was a mixture of good and evil, with a definite tilt to the dark side.

    He and his wife, Dot, bless her naive soul,
    kept a bas-relief head of a horned god on the wall of their geodesic dome, above the stove, for many years.

    I was never sure whether it was Pan or Satan. I know that Ken certainly had Satanic aspects, regardless of what value you assign to the notion of an actual Being called Satan.

    I was not the only one who sensed the presence of Great Evil
    around him.

    I couldn’t be sure if the aroma of evil emanated from Ken himself, or a spirit within him.

    If I said publicly what I think he and his uncle, Arno Schmidt, really were, the authorities would probably lock me up, as they have before when I was too free with the truth.

    I don’t know if Dave Winer is in on the family secret or not. Judging by his anti-social behaviour, I suspect that he is.

    There is much more to this, and I’m trying
    to ferret it out.

    I will say this: it’s possible to work with Dave Winer, but always keep an eye on both his hands.

    Say thank you, Dave Winer, to Vince

    Comment by Vince Williams — October 9, 2005 #

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