Saturday, November 26, 2011

MM Part 7: Highly Questionable.

Still from "Der Spieler" by Fritz Lang

Nothing good can come of having too much time at hand…

I must confess that when I read this chapter for the first time, I was as shocked as Hans by what had happened. Lulled into comfort during fifty and more chapters of realistic style and the kind irony of the narrator, I was not prepared to what Hans and the readers were about to experience…

A very sad chapter…

Edhin Krokowski’s ( first time I notice his first name ) interest is slipping from the psychoanalytic towards the paranormal ( hypnotism, somnambulism, etc etc )

The Danish girl Ellen Brand from the city of Odense ( the city of HC Andersen ), a new patient at the Berghof shows some uncanny knack to uncover hidden objects. “Voices” seem to direct her. She has some paranormal talents.

Krokowski decides to “take care” of the young girl. She seems to be haunted by the spirit of a young boy, a child named Holger who whispers her answers or directions…

( Holger or Olger is the name of one of the kings of the Mountain) : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_in_the_mountain

Ellen has regular visions and paranormal experiences, so the bored patients of the Sanatorium decide to organize a séance of spiritism in the room of Hermine Kleefeld
Using a glass and tokens with the letters of the Alphabet they summon a ghost. Holger soon enough indicates he is invisibly present. It starts as a game. Holger appears to be a poet and recites a Romantic poem by making a glass slide over the table towards the different letters.

When they decide to switch to practical questions and Hans asks how long he shall remain in the Sanatorium things start to change. There are knocks, the lights go out, Ellen Brand slips into a sleep-like state.

Hans gets an enigmatic answer: “Go Across” and then something about his room nr.34. To his surprise he finds the x-ray picture of Clawdia on his lap. It seems that the Poltergeist has dropped it their on purpose for Hans did not have the picture with him at that moment.

The answer to Hans question could be understood as “Go 3 + ( a cross ) 4 = 7” “Go after seven years?”. But why the Clavdia picture reappears is not clear. Has something happened to her?

They stop the experience… for now
Settembrini disapproves and is understandably angry with Hans that he participates in this act of primitive magical mumbo jumbo.

Hans, who has stayed away from this paranormal activity for some time, is lured back by his friends, because the spirit Holger has appeared to the audience and Ellen Brant has promised to bring back a deceased person.

Hans, with his awful fascination for death, is thinking about… Joachim. Remember how listening to the Valentin part of the Gounod opera, has brought Joachim to HC mind.

The séance starts. Light is dimmed, music is played. ( an ouverture by Millocker )
Ellen goes in trance with spasms and shakes…

“Whom shall friend Holger reveal to us?”. Nobody dares to say a name until HC frivolously asks to see his cousin Joachim Ziemssen again. ( That bloody placet experiri of the boy!).

They wait while the girl is in trance for 2 hours! The term scandalous is appropriate for what is happening…

The exhausted Ellen makes pulling movements with her hands, just like Joachim when he was about to die. After a short break, they continue. The trancelike state of Ellen is compared to a woman in labour. Hans suggest to put on another record, Valentin’s prayer from Gounod’s Faust. Although Hans is sure that the record was not brought to the room, it seems that by accident ( slipped into the wrong sleeve ) it is available and Wesel puts it on…


Suddenly Joachim makes his appearance. He materializes even before Hans notices him. It is an absolutely chilling passage. Summoning his cousin from the world of the dead is an awful act of desecration. Hans looks up and looks straight at Joachim. “There was one more person than before in the room…” It is our Joachim of the last hours, like he was described on his death-bed, with hollow cheeks and warrior’s beard. His beautiful eyes look tenderly and in friendly silence at Hans…He is in the field garb of the coming war, probably with a steel picklehaube on his head.

It is a terrible sad but crucial moment. The novel’s two basic stitches Love and Death are sewn and complete Hans spiritual development. Hans understands he has crossed the line and is both physically sick ( he wants to throw up ) and mentally stunned…he sobs, mumbles “forgive me” to his cousin …tears blind him…

Hans pulls himself free, leaving Ellen in a state of shock and Krokowski in anger. Under menace Krokowski hands Hans the keys of the room and our friend…

A very sad chapter indeed.

I am wondering if the detail of the WW1 German Helmet, the Picklehaube is not intended to merge again the characters of Hans and Joachim into one. Joachim will never wear this "unknown type" of helmet but Hans will in a few months ( year ? ) from now...

No comments:

Post a Comment