thomas mann's "the magic mountain"

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wait till Naphta and Settembrini duel on Mustafar!

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 26 February 2020 12:12 (ten months ago) link

:O That sounds against reason!

Chapter 4 - Excursus on the Sense of Time:
- The wrapping with the blankets creates a womb-like security. Something impermeable and safe
- “The unanalysable, the almost mysterious properties of his reclining chair” - Hans takes comfort in the safety of the incommunicado core. Something of the self is kept safe
- The strict timings of everything provide a secure, holding space. Uniformity makes the perception of time fall away, and therefore so too does consciousness. Monotony stretches out immediate time but makes bigger spaces of time disappear
- Older years pass quicker because “habituation is...a fatiguing of the sense of time”
- Change rejuvenates our sense of time and renews our perception of life. When we return from a holiday we adjust “more quickly to the rule than to the exception” and almost forget the holiday of the senses even existed
- I want to write these ideas into an essay about how The Magic Mountain teaches us to be a good analysand. How to be a ‘good’ candidate

Chapter 4 - He Practises His French:
- Hofrat has a very cavalier attitude towards the dying, the ‘moribundus’
- Hans is the ‘disinterested spectator’ - he holds himself as special by keeping himself apart from the group. Shelters himself from further envy of the group’s togetherness in this way
- ‘Tous-les-deux’ - both (her children, ill? Or something about a between state). When he speaks to her it comes out as ‘tous les dé’ - all the dice. Putting everything on the table, the risk of putting everything of life out there
- Hans feels in his ‘element’ when people are sad, when there is grief. A displaced experience of his own unfelt grief. Thinks a career of clergyman would have suited him. One of his chiefest defences involves using ‘dignity’ to defend from the reality of death. He can get near to it without internalising the losses he has experienced

Chapter 4 - Politically Suspect:
- Enjoying an outdoor concert every other Sunday - romance hinted at amongst all the young people.
- Settembrini considers music too abstract and against reason. Thinks it politically suspect for being able to go too easily towards or against progress. He’s a persuasive talker

tangenttangent, Wednesday, 26 February 2020 21:46 (ten months ago) link

Chapter 4 - Hippe:
- Hidden attractions for both Madame Chauchat and Marusja, though they each remind him of someone different
- Krokowski’s course - ‘love as a force contributory to disease’. Is this critical of the limits and wilder reaches of psychoanalysis? Of its more chastising and controlling bent? Or is it simply the overwhelming effect of love on the body
- Hans goes alone for a morning walk to find freedom from the oppressiveness of the sanatorium (and of what it forces him to confront) and sings with pleasure, free-associating the words and music, until he is nearly faint and gives in to despair
- Hans mistakes his grandfather’s ‘dignity’ around illness, which was surely rather his attempt to shield his grandson from the trauma of illness
- Explores the landscape with child-like awe but also terrifying abandon. Takes the left-hand path…
- He ‘lets blood’ in the form of a nosebleed, but feels ‘no need’ to breathe and does so only superficially. Human meaning being removed, proximity to death is intoxicatingly close
- Hans is lifeless in the moment, alive in past memory. What I think about each self being alive in the present moment
- Of school colleague Hippe, “Hans Castorp was penetrated by the unconscious conviction that an inward good of this sort was above all to be guarded from definition and classification” - fear of homosexuality, protection of love. Resolved to inactivity about it until one day a brief conversation about a pencil - the apex of his life! This is who Chauchat reminds him of (any link to Charcot…?)
- He cries. He came on the walk to recall the memory (therefore not really escaping any of the strangeness of the sanatorium). The space allowed his unconscious thought to take hold. Self-analysis. Realises he must return to the ‘real’ psychoanalytic lecture and moves only with difficulty towards it. Freud’s layman’s analysis. Winnicott’s ‘the cook can be a therapist’

tangenttangent, Thursday, 27 February 2020 15:36 (ten months ago) link

Next chapter - 'Analysis'! I'm scared about how this is going to go

tangenttangent, Thursday, 27 February 2020 15:37 (ten months ago) link

Chapter 4 - Analysis:
- Dr Krokowski is poetic and erudite, but also very scientific; Hans feels as though he is hiding the ‘profane’ in plain sight and could get away with saying anything in this way. “He demolished illusions, he was ruthlessly enlightened”, he “made an impression profoundly otherworldly” - the distance of psychoanalysis from much of lived reality
- Speaks of the unreliability of the feeling of love, which made up of many impulses, mostly perverse. That because we don’t see the whole of love as perverse, we justify the ‘perversity’ of the attendant impulses; normative defences urge this conformity to a ‘valid and irreproachable whole’.
- Others do not arrive at this ‘whole’, and in these people the force of a) the compulsion to love, and b) the shame and disgust (and chastity) working against it is too intense compared with bourgeois standards. According to Krokowski, this ends in the triumph of chastity, love being suppressed by fear and a desire to be pure (or in Hans’ case, ‘dignified’). Puts me in mind of part-object relating, of patients between neurotic and psychotic states (classically speaking), of an unresolved Oedipus complex (or navigation of the ‘third’ to be more contemporary), which would fit with the liminality of the mountain and the extremes of the love experienced
- Hans thinks Krokowski is a vision of the conflict he describes!
- Krokowski’s dramatic reveal is that “Symptoms of disease are nothing but a disguised manifestation of the power of love; and all disease is only love transformed”. Truly, repressed instincts can clearly be linked to illnesses, but not in this extreme! Dangers of absolutism in psychoanalysis at the time. Susan Sontag’s writing on consumptive illness
- Follows that Hans has been feeling iller on the mountain the more he was wrestled with love feelings
- Hans meditates on Madame Chauchat, is drawn in turn to the more perverse associations with dirtiness and unrefinedness, and illusions of desire perpetuated in her see-through sleeve. He decides it must be immoral for a woman who is diseased and therefore not fit to be a mother to arouse desire. He thinks attraction of this kind is equally as pointless for procreation as his affection for Hippe, but the comparison surprises him.
- Krokowski looks like ‘Christ on the cross’. He is a sacrifice for the sins of the sanitorium. Also signals the cult-like religiosity and guru-ness psychoanalysis can sometimes be inflected with. Indeed, it seemed he “was making propaganda for psycho-analysis”, spoke of the redeeming power of the analytic, the bringing of light into the unconscious transforming ‘abnormalities’ into conscious affect… This bespeaks the difficulties of proselytising about belief!
- Audience follows him like the Pied Piper. Hans wilfully considers himself healthy still at the end of the lecture

Chapter 4 - Doubts and Considerations:
- Behrens doesn’t own the sanatorium. It is overseen by ‘higher powers’ - a corrupt cultural superego?
- Hans speculates that one who has suffered (as Behrens has) is perhaps well-placed to help others who also do, but wonders if one who is ailing can securely care for others
- Krokowski’s room in is the ‘basement’ (descending steps into the unconscious)
- A twilight prevails in Krokowski’s inner sanctum compared to the bright white of the corridors - like Bion’s ‘penetrating beam of darkness’ (for repressed objects to emerge in a vacuum)

Chapter 4 - Table Talk:
- Hans realises his tremor is partly ‘the outward expression of his inner stimulation’
- Fräulein Engelhart cheers on Hans’ fascination with Madame Chauchat. Wouldn’t be surprised if Hans ends up involved with her
- Plays a game with her where he displaces his own infatuation over Madame Chauchat onto Engelhart, and also vice versa. The novel explores nice bisexual tensions
- ‘Questionable situations’ disgust Hans. His superego is loosening its grip on the id, but Hans’ ego is still wary. He wrestles with instinctual expressions of desire and feels contempt towards them
- “In a state of mind when music particularly appeals” - love, being closer to infantile relating, brings back a joy over that which is separate from language
- Has he contrived an infatuation to explain the otherwise inexplicable beating of his heart? To gain peace from deeper concerns?

Chapter 4 - Mounting Misgivings. Of the Two Grandfathers, and the Boat-ride in the Twilight:
- Hans and Madame Chauchat form a telepathic link - primordial telepathy
- The physical and social ‘gulf’ between the two represents the force of Hans’ defences, instilled by a strong traditional superego (the ‘painting’ grandfather)
- His love becomes the meaning for his stay. Is this an avoidant strategy? Or a working through? Reminds me of that transference paper about patients in love being impossible to treat
- Down below is a ‘plain’, a ‘flatland’ - somewhere where affect is hidden and people aren’t given to such destructive flights of the senses
- As an internal guardian figure, Settembrini beats Behrens for seeming more secure and sound of mind. He is very outward-looking (if not at all inward). Knows much of the world and society. Reminds Hans that progress is not just material
- Settembrini and Hans’s grandfathers both wore black up to death - one (a revolutionary) to mourn his nation, the other to celebrate traditionalism - Hans is struck by how different they are. But both created a gulf between themselves and ‘the evil present’. Just as Hans is doing with his love
- The two grandfathers represent the two worlds - past and future
- Settembrini states that technical progress draws people together. That the world is organised by perpetual conflict between opposing forces: tyranny and freedom, superstition and knowledge etc. East the former, West the latter. Prides triumph to the West, to the enlightenment of ‘rational advance’. The Asiatic principle must be crushed, starting with Vienna! Home of psychoanalysis
- Love Hans’s muted responses to Settembrini’s ramblings!
- Concludes from it all that the waking man has an advantage over the sleeping and dreaming! Ignores his misgivings about S in waking life, runs from him in sleep. Forces his instinctive disagreement down and engages him to find a balanced view, but more and more gladly feels his dreams taking him in the other direction
- Love works against rational forces. Hans wrapped in “the mist and moonbeams” of the eastern heavens. An eastern philosopher

tangenttangent, Sunday, 1 March 2020 19:35 (ten months ago) link

does anyone know what's up with the temperatures in this book? they all seem pretty normal - like ppl getting worried about 99.7 or even 98.7 not being a great temperature. of course 98.6 is the ideal human range and not a sign of illness. so i'm not sure - is this a historical thing (like maybe they thought the numbers should've been lower?), a climate thing (maybe they *should* be lower in the mountains), a hypochondriac thing? i did some google research but i couldn't turn anything up.

Mordy, Tuesday, 3 March 2020 17:20 (ten months ago) link

they’re using celsius why because in europe

||||||||, Tuesday, 3 March 2020 18:00 (ten months ago) link

that's ridiculous

Mordy, Tuesday, 3 March 2020 18:01 (ten months ago) link


tangenttangent, Tuesday, 3 March 2020 22:30 (ten months ago) link

I too made my way up the mountain again, and started re-reading this work of marvel. No chance I'll catch up with you tt, but it's been a joy reading your thoughts and tidbits so far.

What edition are you reading? For once, I'm reading a German-Dutch translation. It feels a bit more archaic in a way my English copy isn't, but it suits it.

Le Bateau Ivre, Wednesday, 4 March 2020 07:43 (ten months ago) link

You might catch me up! Time has a way of distorting itself, after all! How long ago did you read it? I wonder what will strike you anew second time round.

My translation is by H. T. Lowe-Porter. I can imagine an archaic translation would be fitting! I’ve been surprised by the extent of differences in translation I’ve seen thus far. I wish I had more day.

tangenttangent, Thursday, 5 March 2020 14:25 (ten months ago) link

I put Mordy’s question about temperature to a science teacher yesterday and she had no better clue as to why they’re considered so high. The mystery persists...

tangenttangent, Thursday, 5 March 2020 14:29 (ten months ago) link

I just bought this book in German and English because they were both like a dollar on Kindle. I don't read German very well at all but the English translation I have is so bad that I think I'll try to struggle through the German one with a dictionary. I'll let y'all know how it goes (probably very badly.)

The fillyjonk who believed in pandemics (Lily Dale), Monday, 16 March 2020 01:44 (ten months ago) link

A fresher one got published in the nineties.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 16 March 2020 16:32 (ten months ago) link

reading this book now couldn't be timelier

Mordy, Monday, 16 March 2020 16:51 (ten months ago) link

feel like the world is taking a rest cure

Mordy, Monday, 16 March 2020 16:51 (ten months ago) link

"This is the typical mode of experience of someone lost in a mountain snowstorm, woh never finds his way home," he thought as he struggled along, the phrases emerging in tattered, breathless fragments - discretion forbade his putting it more explicitly. "Someone hearing about it later imagines how ghastly it must have been, but forgets that illness - and my present situation is more or less an illness - batters its victim until they get along with one another. The senses are diminished, a merciful self-narcosis sets in - those are the means by which nature allows the organism to find relief. And yet you have to fight against such things, because there are two sides to them, they're really highly ambiguous. And your evaluation all depends on which side you view them from. They mean well, are a blessing really, as long as you don't make it home; but they also mean you great harm and must be fought off, as long as there is any chance of getting home--" (475)

Mordy, Sunday, 22 March 2020 23:14 (nine months ago) link

Passion -- means to live life for life's sake. But I am well aware you Germans live it for the sake of experience. Passion means to forget oneself. But you do things in order to enrich yourselves. C'est ça. You haven't the least notion how repulsively egoistic that is of you and that someday it may well make you the enemy of humankind." (p. 585)

Has anyone written about the ways tmm anticipates WW2, prefigures it (or leads away from it) and similar ideas about the German type/personality as Mann saw it and Nazism? I do have this Mann essay on brother Hitler i have yet to read but i'm interested in critical/scholarly work on the theme too if anyone can recommend it?

Mordy, Saturday, 28 March 2020 19:31 (nine months ago) link

“Guazzabuglio” what a word

Mordy, Saturday, 28 March 2020 19:50 (nine months ago) link

Wehsal as proto-incel

Mordy, Saturday, 28 March 2020 20:46 (nine months ago) link

You're way ahead of me (I'm at page 280 or so), but googling I've not found what you are after specifically. There are some jstor hits about Mann and anti-semitism, and Mann and the rise of fascism (which he strongly denounced).

Myself I'd be intrigued to see how WWI crept in the book, since he worked on it from 1912 to 1924. But I'm not far in enough to see the influence of WWI come to the fore, however obliquely, I think.

Still immensely enjoying the book btw.

Le Bateau Ivre, Sunday, 29 March 2020 10:31 (nine months ago) link

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