Wednesday, November 2, 2011

MM Part 5 : Eternal Soup and sudden clarity


Our poor Hans has been confined to bed ( doctor’s orders ) as from the Saturday of his third week. His mood switches between triumph and exhilaration to fear and alarm. There is a double feeling here. To remain on the mountain is not necessarily a drama for Hans. Joachim reminds Hans to warn his family that he is not coming back immediately. Hans needs more stuff too is he has to stay longer. Joachim is embarrassed by the whole affaire and feels a bit responsible for it. Hans refers to possible poor health inherited from his parents. Hans stays in bed until he reminds Behrens that he has staid there for three weeks without improvement. Behrens sets him free and says that they will next make an X-ray portrait of his chest.

1. Bildung

Krokowski has another lecture on “love”. Some substance in our body is decomposing and intoxicates centers around the spinal cord ( ? )

Hans is ill and counts now, he is part of the club. Krokowski visits him, materializes “ as an apparition” and leaves a terrifying impression. With his two-pronged beard, his yellow teeth and completely clad in black, the fellow looks indeed like the devil.
“You seem surprised to see me… overnight our guest has become a comrade…”
Krokowski says that the “moist spot” is a secondary phenomenon. “Organic factors are always secondary”. The “moist spot” like an “ejaculae praecox” is caused by something else. Inhibited love ?

The sixth week Settembri visits Hans. His entrance in the dark room has an effect of “ sudden clarity”, the room overflowing with the light of reason.

“Ecco” = there you are as if Hans condemnation to a longer stay could have been expected.
“Poveretto” = Poor fellow, it is a bad thing having to stay longer at the Sanatorium
Settembrini obviously cares about Hans.

Settembrini hints in his remarks that Hans has been “tricked” to stay longer for “commercial reasons”
Settembrini tells the story of the “medical error” of the Baltic woman. You can get worser as well as better on the Mountain.
Settembrini doubts the X – Ray pictures always give a correct image or are correctly interpreted.

Interestingly Hans returns the question to Settembrini “ Does your plate show spots…?” “And you are really ill…?”Hans reduces Settembrini to silence ! S rhetoric is silenced with two simple questions.

S asks : How about your family ( what do they think about all this ? ), what about your job ( what about your career , future ? ) Hans shrugs away both questions. Settembrini reminds H that families do care and will try to get him back: “ …he is certain to come up and check your situation”. H doubts this.

H fights back with a description of a “hard”, cold, materialistic and unfriendly world down there.  “The air down there is cruel, ruthless” ( Not a place one yearns to go back to )

Here comes Settembrini 3rd lesson

( 1. sickness and stupidity 2. Music is political suspect )

 “ Do you know what it means to be lost to life ?”

To charge the “outside” world of cruelty is a proof of a certain alienation that is taking root into Hans mind. “ Because a man who gets used to making that charge can vey easily be lost to life, to the form of life for which he was born”
Do you know what it means “ To be lost to life”? “Slip into idleness and not do one’s duty”

Hans fails to get the message

The comes S fourth lesson:

“The only healthy and noble and only religious way in which to regard death is to perceive it and feel it as a constituent part of life…”

To set it apart of life , to separate it , to oppose it, is wrong. “Once separated from life, it becomes grotesque, a wraith – or even worse”

“ For as an independent spiritual power, death is a very depraved force, whose wicked attractions are very strong and without doubt can cause the most abominable confusion of the human mind”

Hans has really been lectured: 1) Go down and do your duty whatever that is but do not stay here wasting your time in idleness. 2) Beware of your morbid fascination with death, for it can cause “the most abominable confusion of the human mind”

Settembrini offers H guidance, a role as a caring teacher. He will do this sine pecunia, he will not be outclassed by Behrens.

2. Time

TM reminds us that the narration of the “next” three weeks will only take a fraction of the time, needed to recount the first three weeks. The reader experiences the flow of time exactly as Hans, for whom, because of the monotony of the days ( eternal soup) he spent in bed as a patient, time flows very fast indeed.

3. Death

“I’ ve sometimes almost wished I had become a clergyman…”.Hans is aware of his attraction in sad and edifying things and links it to the experiences of his youth. It is good that Settembrini does not overhear this connection between sad and edifying.


4. Eros

When H recognize, he blushes… ( see next chapter to see why ), but Hans thinks about Clawdia the moment he sees Settembrini. Both seem to be linked.

“ … not that I want to cast my aspersions on your masculinity…” ( what kind of sexual innuendo is that ? )… you remind me of a young nun… ( Hans looks more female than male to S? )… young brides of Christ… ( bride, like in husband and wife ? )….hair newly shorn… ( their feminine look taken away )… ( What kind of talk is that, coming from a pedagogue ? )


6. Note

Reminder of the opinion of Settembrini about Music being political suspect.
Joachim’s temperature has risen because of Hans’ problem
Hans third week passes and he informs his Uncle with a letter that he will stay longer
The tailor’s son dining from the magic table ( Grimm ? )
Orbis Pictus = Children’s encyclopedia, an educational picture book
Radames = military commander in Aida by Verdi
Wag = mischievous joker

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