Ich bin stumm (I’m dumb)
In +90% of my posts, I do at least some research, usually a simple google, a quick wikipedia read, or even a quicker visit to dictionary dot com. In talking about these authors in this public “Land of ideas” sculpture in Germany, I was set on googling each one — reading up on their bibliography to show how smart I was — but then decided to actually be honest and write this post without doing any research. What’s more important in journalism: the ostensible objective truth about a subject, or the actual truth about one’s subjectivity? I don’t know the answer, I just felt like using the question mark. I also recently learned the keyboard shortcuts for the umlaut, so my fingers are ready. Sigh, what follows is all I know.
[In order of stack]
Grass — This is Gunter Grass, he got the Nobel in the 80’s or 90’s for work about post-war Germany, I think. Something about a dog, like a novel about a dog or with a dog’s name in it. He’s a real serious man. That’s all I know.
Arendt — I keep seeing “Arendt” but don’t know who he/she is. Isn’t there a director with this last name? I’m sorry, Arendt is probably really important and I’m stupid.
Heine — No idea who Heine is; probably the family who owns all the German ketchup.
Luther — Dunno. Keeping thinking “Luther Van Dross” who is that black soul singer who got depressed and fat.
Kant — I know this is Immanuel Kant. He wrote Critique of Pure Reason, which I don’t know anything about, except that it’s really long. Kant has hair like Mozart (they all did back then). And he wore women’s socks with that fluffy stuff.
Seghers — No idea. Pete Segar was in some gay 70’s band I think.
Hegel — Hegel influenced Heidegger, I think. All that German philosophy has to do with thinking, like, not about perception, or morals, or feeling; it was all about thinking in itself. I think this is what “ontological” means, but I’m probably wrong. Damn, that was a horrible way to try to put it. Ignore what I just said. Hegel was overweight, I saw a picture of him once.
Gebrüder Grimm — That’s a stupid name, Jesus. Those Germans are not sexy people.
Marx — or maybe Hegel influenced Marx, or the other way around. Shit. So we all know Karl Marx who wrote Das Kapital (again, I’m not checking up on the facts, God I hope it’s “Das Kapital”), the book that laid down socialism/communism. Marx’s beard was more dense than Tolstoy’s or Whitman’s. He probably had a steady diet of sausage. Unhappy people living in the city tend to read Marx to help them blame America for not being happy. They have no idea “what the fuck” is going on.
Böll — Is this that Heinrich Boll person? Who is he/she? I’m imagining Ayn Rand’s face for some reason, or like a photo from Man Ray. Am I even in the right century?
Schiller — Feel like I should know Schiller. I keep staring at “chill” and feel like he’s probably a relaxed person, like I could split a burrito 50-50 with him and cut 60% for myself and he’d be chill.
Lessing — I didn’t know Doris Lessing was German. Is Doris Lessing that really old woman who looks like she’s from a farm? There’s a bunch of old women writers who look like they churn butter. Not really interested in those people.
Hesse — This is Herman Hesse, I know this. I’ve read Siddhartha and Steppenwolf. He also wrote that masterpiece about a chess board or something, and that book Narcissus & Goldman with a lion on the cover. (I know about Goldman Sachs; it’s a fancy money place. Saks 5th ave is also fancy money. I got 1 sack in my pants which is rumpled like a small brain.) I remember really relating to Steppenwolf, but thinking that Siddhartha was kind of self-involved; I mean, self improvement is kind of selfish, like all those rich yoga ladies.
Fontane — That sounds French. Isn’t John Fontane a writer?
Mann — This is Thomas Mann, who wrote Death in Venice and The Magic Mountain. I remember reading 60 pages into the latter and getting bored. The narrator was climbing the mountain and I wished I was watching the DVD so I could hit the “>>” button at “60X” speed. Mann has large ears, most likely a dick.
Brecht — This is that playwrite right? Oh shit I’m gonna get fucked on this one. I’ve seen “Brecht” a million times and remember looking him/her up and going “aww” (not the senitmental/cute kitten aww, but the minor epiphany aww). Hannah Brecht? I think the first name begins with an H.
Goethe — This is Wolfgang Goethe, who wrote the Sorrows of Young Werther and this gigantic poem about Faust. You’re supposed to pronounce it gert-ay. I used to pronounce it the way it looked, like goath, and someone was mean to me about saying it wrong. Ingres the painter has the hardest name to pronounce; it’s French where every other letter is silent. The ‘i,’ ‘n,’ ‘g,’ ‘r,’ ‘e,’ and ‘s’ are silent in “Ingres” so basically you just open your mouth and make a gagging motion to express that guy’s name.
I hope I have not embarrassed myself too much. I am either smarter or dumber than you; and you are either smarter or dumber than someone else. This applies to everyone except for two people: the smartest person in the world, and the dumbest person in the world. To the latter, say ‘hi’ to West Virginia for me. Öüch!
Tags: German literature