Occasional musings, Geistesblitze, photos, drawings etc. by a "resident alien", who has landed on American soil from a far-away planet called "Germany".

Saturday, August 30, 2008


In an xword blog today, I introduced pumas ("party unity my ass" people) merely as a humorous aside. But apparently, it struck a chord with some readers. So, this is a thread where we can continue talking about these creatures.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Heine today

The indefatigable marlene has opend the discussion on another German poet who is of great interest to me, too. I will chime in after trying to get hold of the essay Die Wunde Heine by T. W. Adorno, who should have much to say about this. (Not that I take Adorno as final authority on many subjects, but I find him really illuminating when it comes to literary criticism because of his penchant for debunking established wisdom)

BTW Die Wunde Heine is hard to translate. It means literally "The Wound Heine", which isn't really English. One has a choice between "Heine as [Open] Wound", "Heine's Wound", "Heine, the [Open] Wound" and perhaps other possibilities. I probably like the first one best.

Addendum: After starting this thread, I have translated two Heine poems I like. They may offer a good way to get into this topic.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

For people who love cats

This blog may need some comic relief. So, here is a poem by me that started out as a parody of Emily Dickinson. But I could not really get the edginess with which she often goes against the meter she has set up. And so, I ended up with a poem "in the style of Dickinson":

There is a corner in my room
where Cat prefers to pee -
and then he yawns and walks away -
leaving the mess to me.

And as a wipe I contemplate
the nature of this act -
was this a form of vengeance or
simply a lack of tact?

But then I look into his eyes
and in his whiskered face -
I gather up my soap and cloth -
and sigh - and rest my case.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Word of the month: Schlimmbesserung

Word of the Month: Index

This word is different from the ones I talked about before: I had never heard it used until someone mentioned it on another blog. My first reaction was: This must be a neologism that occurred after I left Germany. But then, thanks to the wonders of the web, I found a source that is over 200 years old: Someone complaining--at the beginning of the 19th century--about the editors of a play by Kleist, Der Prinz von Homburg, who, in the attempt to improve upon Kleist’s language, actually made it worse. And that’s exactly what the term means: An intended improvement that has the opposite effect (the adjective schlimm can mean anything from "bad" to "malicious"; the noun Besserung means "improvement"--literally "betterment")--a useful word indeed, given how often we have seen so-called "reforms" that make a situation worse.

Details in my first comment.