The Ringmaster ist dead 
Sunday, 15 .July, 2007, 10:26 - English Entries, Literature
"[...] I beg your tolerance. There is nothing I can do to make things any easier for any of us, and you will have to accept being addressed by a disembodied voice just as I accept the compulsion to speak out even though I am painfully aware that I am talking to an invisible, perhaps nonexistent, audience. Wise men have regarded the earth as a tragedy, a farce, even an illusionist's trick; but all, if they are truly wise and not merely intellectual rapists, recognize that it is certainly some kind of stage in which we all play rolse, most of us being very poorly coached and totally unrehearsed before the curtain rises. Is it too much if I ask, tentatively, that we agree to look upon it for as a circus, a touring carnival wandering about the sun for a record season of four billion years and producing new monsters and miracles, hoaxes and bloody mishaps, wonders and blunders, but never quite entertaining the customers well enough to prevent them from leaving, one by one, and returning to their homes for a long and bored winter's sleep under the dust? Then, say, for a while at least, that I have found an identity as ringmaster; but that crown sits uneasily on my head (if I have a head) and I must warn you that the troupe is small for a universe this size and many of us have to double or triple our stints, so you can expect me back in many other guises. Indeed do many things come to pass."

From the first pages of: Illuminatus! - The Eye in The Pyramid, by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.

Yesterday I read, that Robert Anton Wilson returned to his home for a long winter's sleep under the dust. He died in January this year, but I did not get aware of it till now.

For many years I would have said, that there was never a book in my life, that influenced me like Illumniatus! did. Lots of things Wilson wrote and thought might sound strange or stupid, but there is one thing that he taught me, that there is nothing that cannot be followed by a pair of brackets which hold the sentence "do you really believe this?"

Thanks for the script, RAW - the rest of us now please back on stage.
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Friday, 29 .June, 2007, 21:21 - English Entries, Literature
There was a little parcel waiting behind my entrance door today. I just came back from a bit more than a week in Amsterdam and Lisbon and was not immediately looking through the mail that loitered on the floor - usually I only get advertisement, credit card bills and other not very personal things.

When I finally flipped through it, I saw the said parcel, that had hid under the other papers. It contained a thin green book and when I read the title, a good shot of happiness and pride went into my system.

Three month ago I sent one of my (German) poems to a competition, just to give it a shot. The competition is the "Jokers Lyrikpreis" and it is held once a year. One of the nice things about it is that the jury choses 100 of the received poems and publishes them in a book.

So, my little "Gewitterdichtung" (thunderstorm-poem) made it: from out of about 8000 participating poems it is one of the 100 that was published. Ok, it did not get among the first 14 ranks or one of the special-prices - but seeing it printed on paper is already more than expected.

So I am having a smile in my face today and that's worth writing an entry here.

If you are not speaking German but still would like to read a poem by me, just click here and forgive me the mistakes - I am not a native speaker.

My dear readers: sit back, open a book of your favorite poetry and a bottle of wine and dwell in language and imagination. Cheers!
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J. K. Rowlings Homepage 
Sunday, 24 .June, 2007, 01:41 - English Entries, Literature, Online/Blogs
I tried to read Harry Potter several times, but I never got into it. It is not the type of literature that fascinates me, which is a pity as my daughter loves the books and it would be nice to talk with her about them.

Nevertheless, by clicking around this evening, I came across the text version of homepage of J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books. I admire this page, honestly. It has the same appearance as most websites had 12 or 15 years ago.

Everything is plain text, there are no pictures, the navigation is very simple, no section (not even "news" or "diary") offer an RSS feed, there is no CSS or tables and the colors are yellow, cyan and blue on black background. All entries are short and entertaining to read, there is no unnecessary text and Rowling always keeps to the subject.

Again - I am honest about this. I like her page. And no: I do not want the whole internet to look like this (again), but it is a nice feeling to see a reminiscence to the days of limited bandwidth, ASCII layout and focus on the texutal content.
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Hans Wollschläger died 
Saturday, 09 .June, 2007, 11:36 - English Entries, Literature

On May 19th 2007 Hans Wollschläger died.

He translated James Joyce's Ulysses to German.

He gave me the possibility to read the Philip Marlowe novels, when I did not dare yet to read them in English.

His way of using the German language was unique and never pretentious.

I never saw a picture of him, until I recently read about his death in a German magazine. He only existed for me in words - in the words of other writers, which he translated.

He will never translate again.

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A Maze Of Death - by Philip K. Dick 
Monday, 01 .January, 2007, 16:59 - English Entries, Literature
It's the 32nd century, mankind has spread out all over the galaxy and the existence of God is no longer a question, but a proofed fact. People can radio their prayers to one of the three incarnations of God and some of them get an answer.

"A Maze Of Death" is the story of thirteen people, who prayed to God, as they were unhappy with their jobs and their lives. They get the same answer: to go to the planet Delmak-O, where they will get further instructions. After introducing two of the characters in more detail, the story gets into motion when the group comes together in a small, lonely settlement on Delmak-O.

From the first moment on things go wrong. They cannot receive the instructions, that they were promised and find themselves captured on a strange planet, without a task to do, alone with themselves. One of the two leading characters gets killed on the first evening, strange mechanical insects appear and slowly the defects of the group members become apparent.

The story gets more and more mysterious. It is not clear, why the people are on Delmak-O, whether they are part of a bigger experiment or simply lost. Some group members are confused, others afraid and they drift apart, though they should stick together to find out more about their situation. They find a building, that appears different to each of them and meet a creature, that can answer their questions, but the answers sound like given by an ancient oracle and therefore do not help them any further. And whilst all this happens, more and more group members get killed.

After 150 pages it is hard to believe that Dick will be able to make any sense out of the story. There is too much mystery going on, too many people around and it is not clear, what the role of those group members was, that are already dead. It is the character of Seth Morley who keeps the story going, who has the most developed personality and to whom the reader can easiest connect to. And it is also the doubt about the religious mumbo-jumbo, the so bluntly stolen bits from all kinds of religions, that makes one turn to the next page, hopeing, that at some point their believes get revealed as illusions.

Dick puts the reader in the same state as his protagonists - the story seems hopeless and there is not much sense in going on. And then he lifts the curtain, puts a bit of action into his creation and voila - there is the answer.

"A Maze of Death" is not a common science fiction story. Dick does not care about the technological gadgets, he instead puts a sword and an old gun into the hands of his characters. Space ships and unknown planets are just used to create a scenario that is totally strange but, due to the futuristic setting, still in a way possible.

Philip K. Dick struggled in many of his books with the nature of reality and the idea of imaginative worlds. In "A Maze of Death" he draws a picture of human reality that is so sad, that the escape to a unreal place of uncertainty, fear and confusion seems to be the more desirable option, compared to living in a hopeless world.

The book gets a bit lengthy in the middle, but compensates for this in the end, although the expectations, that the reader might have in the beginning, will not be fulfilled. There are too many characters in the book and most of them stay one-dimensional. And: I read the German translation, which I can only recommend to avoid. I don't know whether the original version is written in a better way, but it is hardly possible to get any worse than what Uwe Anton (the translator) did to the book.

All in all, it is a readable book with a good attack on reality in the end. I give 6 out of 10 points to it.
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