Print Story "Isch 'abe gar keine Auto."
By Bartleby (Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 09:59:05 AM EST) (all tags)
Holy dam(n). This land lacks butterflies. Mysterious Mormon missionaries. Je rate une occasion de me taire. Mascha Kaléko.

Having escaped from the library to the adjacent arboretum on Monday, I saw two (two! maybe even three!) painted ladies/ cosmopolites (Vanessa cardui) and one red admiral (Vanessa atalanta). A red letter day!

Isn't that sad?

"Europe's biggest butterfly farm" opened two years ago in a village ~50 km from here. I've kept it on the back of my mind as a place to visit when I'd feel really down. I was thinking of a dreary autumn or winter day, but maybe now is the time. Not today, alas. Today is for pretending to be responsible and productive and give a damn about anything.


The G8 summit has descended upon our state, upon Germany's oldest seaside resort at Heiligendamm, and the usual rioting circus along with it. I had planned to go to the opening demonstration in Rostock last Saturday, but considering how that event turned out, maybe it's a good thing I didn't. The world's going to hell in a handbasket anyway.

Ich geh kaputt, wer kommt mit?


Wenn unsereins se lengvitsch spricht,
so geht er wie auf Eiern

Today's the 100th birthday of Mascha Kaléko. She had just made a very promising start as a writer, when the Nazis came to power. She emigrated to America in 1938 and lived in New York until she and her husband moved on to Jerusalem in 1960. I don't know of any English translations, which really is a pity. The poems are deceptively simple, I'd be curious to see if anybody managed to translate them without killing the music. Actually, there is a translation in the wikipedia entry, more of an interlinear rendition, and it demonstrates a problem BlueOregon mentioned in a boiary a while ago, namely how to translate "schweigen" into English. Kaléko uses "schweigen" as a transitive verb here, which it usually isn't. I wonder how "I kept it silent" sounds to you native speakers. You can say "I kept silent", without an object, can't you, but do you have to in everyday English? The unorthodox use of "schweigen" in the original creates a marked opposition to "schreiben" (write) in the second verse. And "schweigen" is an active verb, "schweigen" is something you do rather than the absence of an action. The lyrical I creates a poem by not writing it. "Keeping it silent", to me sounds more like preventing something from making a sound.

This might be the appropriate moment for my interlinear of the poem from which I took the bold lines above:

When one of us talks se lengvitsch
He walks like on raw eggs.
The syntax shakes, the grammar limps,
And if a ti ehtsch comes out right
That is cause for celebration.


Mascha Kaléko had a small role in my protracted coming out-process. She had lived in Bleibtreustrasse in Berlin; therefore shy and shaking little me could pretend my trip there had nothing at all to do with the presence of a gay book store in the same street. Amazing the amount of energy it takes me to do utterly unsensational things. It's also amazing how a mountain you have to climb turns into a molehill once you've made it to the other side.

There will be a conference devoted to Mascha Kaléko in New York on Saturday, and a plaque will be unveiled at the house where she lived in Minetta Street.


Yesterday I met two Mormon missionaries who didn't wear suits! Shocking! Is that legal?


This diary's title is the tag line from a tv commercial for cappuccino from a few years ago. A beautiful woman rings at the door of an Italian man to complain about something to do with his car, I forget what it was, he asks her in, makes her a cappuccino, of course it's the best beverage ever, but she still asks what he's going to do about the car, he answers with a broad smile and a charming (or thick, depends) accent: "I don't even have a car!"

Well, if you know the ad, it's actually funny. Honest.

< Meme Pt 2: Motorcycles | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
"Isch 'abe gar keine Auto." | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
What was actually funny about that commercial by komet (2.00 / 0) #1 Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 10:23:55 AM EST
is that there is no such thing as an Italian who doesn't own a car.

And it was for Nescafé instant coffee and of course, no Italian would be caught dead with that.

<ni> komet: You are functionally illiterate as regards trashy erotica.

True, instant "coffee". by Bartleby (2.00 / 0) #2 Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 10:45:40 AM EST
My creative memory at work again, I guess. The "no such thing" thing never even occurred to me. Is that something I wouldn't think of because I'm the cycling/pedestrian luddite that I am, or is that a specifically Swiss (or British, at any rate non-German) cliché about Italians, I wonder.

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They farm butterflies now? by herbert (2.00 / 0) #3 Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 12:15:17 PM EST
It must take a lot of them to make a decent meal.  Or do you milk them?

Are they free range or battery butterflies?  Hmm, tongue twister.  Battery butterflies battery butterflies battery butterflies battery butterflies.

It's a racket by Bartleby (2.00 / 0) #5 Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 03:04:09 PM EST
The "farmers" beat the insects up if they don't cough up some nectar. Brutally battered battery butterflies.

Seriously, the name of the place is "Butterfly farm". Or rather, Schmetterlingsfarm. It does sound a bit odd even in German, even if you consider that "farm" is a loan word and needn't have exactly the same meaning and usage as in English.

[ Parent ]
Schmetterlingshof? by TurboThy (2.00 / 0) #7 Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 04:43:22 AM EST
A perfectly fine word. by Bartleby (2.00 / 0) #8 Fri Jun 08, 2007 at 05:10:25 AM EST
Just not one that's actually being used in the relevant sense, it seems. I'd actually prefer it to Schmetterlingsfarm, farm sounds a bit, I don't know, agro-industrial. The island of Mainau in Lake Constance has a "Schmetterlingshaus". Lepidopterium should be ok, too, except that most people would have no clue what that might mean. Not good if you want to attract visitors, obviously.

[ Parent ]
ooh ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #4 Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 02:03:11 PM EST

... an academic conference. I'm in the city ... oh so tempting. Quite tempting.

Unless I do something more touristy on Saturday.

As for Mascha Kaléko ... too bad there's a lack of translations into English; I'd post them as part of the GPotD ... perhaps I'll need to make my own.

A Kaleko GPotD would be great by Bartleby (2.00 / 0) #6 Thu Jun 07, 2007 at 03:08:40 PM EST
I only learned about the conference while googling around for something in English about Kaléko; I can neither recommend it nor warn against it. But I did think of you when I saw the announcement and thought I'd mention it, just in case.

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