Friday, November 11, 2011

MM Part 6: Changes

We have left Easter behind us. We are in this chapter already 6 weeks after the Mardi-Gras happenings.

This first chapter of a new part kicks off with HC musing about the concept of time
Our dear Hans’ situation is shaken up. He has to adjust to a world without his Clavdia.
HC is a also disturbed by Joachim’s open rebellion against the medical establishment of the Berghof.
Joachim, eager to proceed with his military career, is getting more and more impatient with the unreliable results of the Gaffky Scale and with the cure in general. The fact that Marusja has left the Sanatorium temporarily does not improve things for.

“To Hell with Gaffky, I’ve had it - ,I am going home, even if it kills me”. Together with HC, we are worried for we remember Clavdia’s opinion that Joachim is very ill.

HC does not dare reproach J for he is a bit bothered by the realization that J knows about HC’s time with Clawdia.

It seems that despite the fact that Hans and Clawdia left the dining room separately on that last Carnival evening, they secretly met again a few minutes later in her room.
Hans has given her back her pencil and is now in possession of her “X-Ray” frame. X marks the moist spot? Hans is a fetishist if ever there was one !

The narrator reminds us that HC has gone to his room considerably later than Joachim and then confesses that he has not told us everything! He has chosen to pass over a certain interval. There has been another secret conversation, one we did not overhear, in which this wicked woman has cast a sequel to her spell! “Frau Chauchat plans to return” we are told.

What else happened in Clawdia’s room? Was there just an exchange of pens against X rays? Only promises made?
No there is more. Hans, it seems, has not only “known” sweet Clavdia, he has “possessed” her during one wicked, riotously, sweet hour…
If so, this is a key epiphanic moment. HC’s experience of bodily love, his transcendence in his merging with Clawdia, offers him a first glimpse of the abyss.

But poor Hans is not ready yet to go back to the real world. He remains under the spell – a shadowy token of a pledge…a possibility of a probability… that Frau Chauchat will come back.

His body helps him takes to block the idea to go back home. His fever increases, he needs injections, he is condemned for 4 more months at the Sanatorium

Behrens is the only one to whom Hans can turn for some conversation about “La Clavdia” but the doctor has no message from her. But he has a message for Joachim. He orders Hans to pass it to his cousin:” if Joachim goes down to the flatlands, he will not survive a year!”

There is a certain coolness between HC and Herr Settembrini. Hans has a bad conscience of the way he rebuked his former friend and S sulks because he still suffers the indignation of a frustrated pedagogue. Or is there more?

The narrator reminds us that there is a “mythological allusion” when S and HC finally speak again to each other. “Well my good engineer, how did you like the pomegranate?”.
The pomegranate alludes to the myth of Persephone, the woman lost in the world of the death, but how does S know that HC has tasted the forbidden fruit? S is clearly reacting like a jealous abandoned lover.

S next remark, identifying Hans to Persephone obviously predicts that Hans will stay forever on the Mountain.

The ice is broken between H and S. S compares the Sanatorium to an Ocean Liner navigating over a dangerous sea. …when such a luxury ark founders and plummets to the depts….( The Titanic sinks in 1911, Hans or Settembrini in 1908 cannot know this but Mann writing in 1919 of course knows ). A sinking Ocean Liner as a metaphor for Hubris. S does not see in Hubris a danger, on the contrary … the hubris of reason set against the dark powers is the highest form of humanity…

S is still hurt by HC’s comments during the Mardi Gras evening. He cannot withhold his jabbing at Hans : … when a man perishes in wanton experiments with the powers of unreason…. ( What a prick! )

S announces ( he too? ) his departure. Despite what he says about work etc, he is not leaving the Mountain. He has rented a cheaper lodging in town. S is financially not as favoured as Hans to be able to remain in the Sanatorium. The animosity he has against Behrens and the commercial aspect of the health-cure may well be caused by financial trouble and quarrels over payments.

Frau Salomon from Amsterdam, disgusted with her poor health improvements leaves the Sanatorium for the flatlands “cursing the doctors, the cure, the fine air etc…”
In fact, she might set a bad example.

Frau Salomon’s case is not the only one. Other people emboldened by the coming spring, leave. Some patients die (Blumenkohl, Rasmussen ), some get better ( Ferge), some go away, soon to return ( Marusja )

The unpredictable weather is described

The chapter ends with how Joachim finds out that Hans too has been lured to Krokowski’s den for a psycho-analytical session. The end of his love affair has send him to the shrink!

2. Notes

Gaffky = a numerical rating for the classification of tuberculosis according to the number of tubercle bacilli in the sputum, ranging from 1 (one to four organisms in the whole preparation) to 9 (an average of 100 per field).

See “Charming and bisexual” in one sentence. Thomas Mann secret yearning?

Morel : A phallic shape ( aphrodisiac ? ) mushroom smelling of decay of death. (Impudicus ) Love and Detah intertwined.