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Reading ´Der Sandmann’ and reflecting about silly passions

2021-07-19 – blog post

Hello there!

I woke up with the sun. At the very moment when it entered my room, actually. It paints a kind of a band through the window against the wooden panelling when it rises. Last night I didn’t go to bed till two o’clock, possibly even 3am, and this morning when I woke up I was beaming with the sun beam. Now I’ve just had a cup of coffee.

Actually, let me eyplain that if I stayed awake for such a long time yesterday it was because around six o’clock pm, I drank half a cup of coffee, which is not the best of ideas for me. I know it prevents me from falling asleep. So yesterday evening I was desperately, as it were, looking for a solution to a kind of a goal I had. I had to be able to make crosswords with a background image. And when I had finished tiring my eyes, desperately looking for such a device or program orwebsite, when I undressed I simply had the idea.

Very easy! The dark boxes can be made transparent, and you can put an image at the back of the crossword. It’s no big deal at all the background just has to be the same size as the grid, but for the rest, it’s very simple!

So this morning, while I was drinking my coffee, I went on reading, ´Der Sandmann”, by E.T.A. Hoffman. This is a classical piece of writing. It’s pretty short.

I have almost had the same feeling as when I read ´Die Leiden des jungen Werthers’, ´the sufferings of young Werther’ by Goethe. Although, Goethe’s piece of writing is quite longer; it must be around 120 pages long. I should check it out.

This piece of writing here is just 40 pages long, and it’s all about instability and enthusiasm and passion. And also, the way you can despise others when you are taken by your passions.

By the way this is a book I bought about 30 years ago, when I was at university studying English and German literature. I don’t know why I never read that book. Possibly because, at least partly, it is written in antiquated German.

But this has never bothered me. I’ve always just tried to read and enter books, Even if they were written in a complicated, old fashioned way.

(For example, the book ´Anton Reiser’, which is about the life of man living around 1600, was quite old fashioned too! There was also the “life of Agaton”, which was in that style. They were related to the study of autobiographies. And we finally read ´Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahr’, which can be literally translated ‘the apprenticeship years of William Master’ by Goethe.)

Anyway, so style has nothing to do with my interest in a book. But I think that nowadays when I read a book, I am aware of this antiquated style more than 30 years ago.

And also I’m really interested in discovering the mentalities of the characters, as if they were real people I should get to know and discover. So, I’m on the lookout for any sign revealing a person’s nature.

I’m enjoying this book a lot, mostly perhaps because I can see myself portrayed there: passions quickly takig turns and just obliterating one another, at a quick pace.

It’s a question also of imagination and perceiving things. I like the description of such movements of mind.

There is also the preoccupation with and interest in writing, in this story. Like Nathanael, the main character, I’ve always exaggerated the importance of writing.

When I write I use a fountain pen, and a very nice notebook and black ink, which somehow gives it a lot of classical and elegant charm.

Apropos, for the last four days, I haven’t written anything. I was engrossed with this trial to deal first with Karaoke in Arpitan, then with crosswords. They are passions obliterating one another in turn.

This morning I feel calmer. There is this light breeze and very few people around. A lot of peace. The river seems to be rustling, whispering less loudly. I can hear the grasshoppers, softly. And a red tail has just paid me a visit. Very close here on the rowan tree, next to the house. Lulu, my cat, was there and I thought “Watch out, watch ou! Don’t come down, don’t land on the stairs or anywhere close because you’ll get killed.”

Red tails are quite nervous birds, but sometimes they land and stay on grass, which exposes them to cats much more than other birds. At the beginning of the year, I could see that a red tail had been killed by the cats near my Savièse home.

So, this is what has caught my interest this morning, this writing by E.T.A. Hoffmann, which I still have to finish.

While reading it and finding such interesting passages I have played with the idea of reading some extracts as a podcast.

I did that on Anchor, in recent years, in English. I’ve even read some extracts in German and translated, roughly, while reading, which must have sounded pretty chaotic, but I enjoyed doing that,

Sharing with people is sometimes fun. You may share it with people from whom you know they will listen to it now and respond. They aren’t numerous. But, of course, what you have read can also be listened to later on by people, although they will not tell you they have read it either. And they aren’t that numerous either.

Somehow it means imagining you are having a role to share beauty with people. And this is an image of oneself, which is pleasant to have.

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