Note dreams

Internet literature from 1970

On the occasion of the paperback edition of Arno Schmidt’s "Zettel’s dream" – a brief self-interview of a non-expert about this imposition in book form.

1) A pocket book? You must be joking!

Certainly. Unless we were talking about coarse bags here. They had to hold a book of the format 23 x 32 x 5.6 cm. My personal scale (Made in Ireland, Not Legal for Trade)!) shows 2.5 kg weight, but describes itself as error-tolerant to 500 g. A good chunk. Nothing for bed. Unfortunately.

2) Internet? Why Internet?

Because of the references. Lev Manovich is of the opinion that the interactivity of the new media is not that great. Right he has. And even the much-vaunted Nonlinearitat is not a differentiating factor from old media, at least not from books, because reading is nonlinear per se, it’s just that most novels don’t believe in it.

Schmidt wanted something other than introduction, main body, conclusion. He had a theory: Underneath the text were the texts that are also or actually at stake. The subterranean currents, he says, are the fault of the various, unconscious ego parts that always had a say in writing and reading, that were always breathing down the necks of the writers and readers. And he wanted to make this clear in the text itself. So he drilled out the words by rewriting and prescribing them in such a way that the second, third, fourth level of meaning was already revealed in the primary text, offered to the reader’s hunger for association to the frabe.

His spelling: Together with the real-language grammar an OS patched up to the unrecognizability, which creates an intranet on paper basis as multidimensional reference system. So the text is a multitext from the beginning, a layered consciousness in paper form. In Zettel’s dream (as already in the case of the protagonists) the chirping of the amusingly jumbled word-stems, -derivations, -alienations resounds loudly. Sure, is heavily influenced by James Joyce.

He, like Joyce, also got into a lot of trouble, and he returned the favor.

Second reason for Schmidt’s graphomania: He wanted to get close to the world, and where normal onomatopoeia did not provide enough color shades for the words, he made new ones. Not by neologisms, but by "Otto=gra=cattle". Something like that makes work. That’s why the material on Schmidt’s texts was organized in notebooks, which Vannevar Bush enjoyed.

3) The result of Zettel’s dreaming?

1330 pages with (mostly) three columns that can be read as one mainstream and two tributaries, as narrative and commentary, text and subtext. Based on these three juxtaposed texts and the fact that the printed edition is a facsimile of a typescript, it is amed that the text corpus represents the equivalent of 3500 printed pages. It was thus, purely in terms of mass, one of the longest German-language novels ever written, and in this respect it became even the monstrosity "Whose language you do not understand" of Marianne Fritz surpass.

4) Very much so. And what is it about?

On a summer day in the sixties, the man of letters Daniel Pagenstecher receives a visit from Wilma and Paul Jacobi, and their sixteen-year-old daughter Franziska. The Jacobis are currently translating Edgar A. Poe, and Mr. Pagenstecher talks to you about it, while you walk, shop and have a good time. Franziska finds pleasure in the eyes of Mr. Pagenstecher, who, like many of Schmidt’s male characters, sometimes seems genuinely horny. So quite normal everyday life. D

he joke of the whole thing is, of course, that within this everyday life, one shimmies along Schmidt’s orthography down into the cellars of literature and life, in order to illuminate the corners there. Of course this is again coupled with the upper world of the summer day in x different ways, and already we have the most beautiful battlefield of words and desires, which one can imagine.

5) Makes fun to read?

Today everything has to be easy to be fun. The yogurt, the cigarette, the reading material. So that nothing sticks, no fat, no tar, no thoughts. Zettel’s dream is not easy (s. Libra). Some even consider the novel unreadable. With me it was like this. I took the train. And there I was after a long train ride once again at the Stuttgart main station. stranded, because of a delay that led to another delay. There are several bookstore simulations, and in one of them there was a pile of brown books with a man on it disguised as a tree: in fact the dream of the notes, which until then I had known only as a fabled noble work at the price of I don’t think about it

And there it was in front of me, for flabby, expendable money. Quickly opening the already worn copy of the book, S. 1: The dream began. Then my train left, but I wanted to buy the book.

6) Suggestions, remarks, wishes?

Yes, yes. First conquer the book. And then maybe a real internet edition, just arranged by Lev Manovich. He will not have time. But I will still be allowed to dream.