Thursday, November 17, 2011

MM Part 6: Als Soldat und brav (a good soldier )

Edvard Munch : By the Deathbed 1895

 " Ich gehe durch den Todesschlaf
  Zu Gott ein als Soldat und brav."
  
Goethe : Faust




Winter is over. We are in summer. Soon Hans will be two years at the Berghof;

Joachim’s time as a young officer in training is a happy time, until his weak health overtakes his “desire to do his duty”. Joachim has to return to the Sanatorium. His mother is with him.

HC concludes: the (ill) body triumphs over the soul. Has the body been lured back to a certain Marusja? Hans does not seem to understand that Joachim might die.

J has met Clawdia in the flatlands, she might come back to the Berghof for winter. The spell needs to be revived.

“Great War Games”. Is all this military muscle flexing a hint of things to come?

Settembrini turns out to be a Free – Mason which makes him a bit “terroristic” like Joachim and… Naphta. There is a whole tedious dissertation on Freemasonry. More discussions between Settembrini and Naphta.

Some phrases I jotted down : “Everything is politics” “Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil” “Wordlessness isolates”

S jokes to Hans that his Beatrice is back and that this time he hopes that he will not show any disdain towards his Virgil.

HC notices that Joachim eyes have taken on a meditative and ominous expression (foreboding or foreshadowing evil : inauspicious ). J ‘s condition worsens. Behrens predicts that our lieutenant will die in 6 to 8 weeks. “Not much hope my lad” How sad. How sad when his eyes look down in shame, how sad when he finally speaks and says adieu to Marusja. “Yes he is lost”. How sad when he finally goes horizontal, his mother summoned to his bed and dies in her arms.

Death is overrated Behrens assures Luise Ziemmsen, J will die without pain.
He dies at 7 o’clock. It is Hans who closes J’s eyes.

There is stage imagery. The curtain comes down on this last chapter of the sixth part. The narrator mysteriously promises us that it will rise one final time. We need to read a few more chapters to understand what he means.

This is Hans’s second epiphany. Death comes after love, the first epiphany, the Erotic love he experienced at the end of the fifth part. Now, it is as if Hans experiences his own death. For is his cousin not his alter-ego, his counter-part and complement, his twin brother? 
After Hans’s experiences in the two last chapters, he cannot get any closer to death. One’s own death, one cannot experience, Behrens reminds us

Only the awful rictus smirk which appears on the face of Joachim drives Hans away from the “empty shell”

Could this be the last step in Hans decadent, voyeuristic attraction to death, the last step of the Danse Macabre ?

Time to open a new and final thread…”A safe descent”



Music to listen to while reading this chapter : from the Opera Faust by Gounod, Act 2, Valentin leaving for war

Avant de quitter ces lieux,
Sol natal de mes aïeux
A toi, seigneur et Roi des cieux
Ma sœur je confie,
Daigne de tout danger
Toujours, toujours la protéger
Cette sœur si cherie!
Délivré d'une triste pensée
J'irai chercher la gloire, la gloire au seins des ennemis,
Le premier, le plus brave au fort de la mêlée,
J'irai combattre pour mon pays.
Et si vers lui, Dieu me rappelle,
Je veillerai sur toi fidèle,
O Marguerite!

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