No 169 - 2002
The Eleven Surviving Works of L v. K (1902-1939)
ESSAY (1914): English composition in L v. K’s own hand entitled ‘A Short History of Alsace’. L v. K (aged 11) has penned solely the essay’s title on a sheet of British Foolscap above the stationer’s imprint where appear the words:
with Narrow Margins
His tutor has scrawled in the margins in red ink an admonitory ‘No more mischief!’
‘CREED’ (1935): Handmade Glass/Chromium Case (Internal Area: Double Imperial Quarto 15" x 22") containing privately bound 1935 edition of Mein Kampf opened fully outspread at page xxiv to reveal secret cut-out compartment (internal area: Demy Octavo 83/8" x 55/8") containing 1917 pocket edition of Das Kapital spread open at page xxxv to reveal secret cut-out compartment (internal area: Demy Sextodecimo 55/8" x 43/8") containing copy of 1884 Lutheran Bible outspread at page xlviii to reveal secret equilaterally 11/8"-sided triangular cut-out compartment (volume 51/16 cubic inches) cut to depth of 11/8" to Book of Revelation (see Appendix II). Compartment unoccupied and purpose unknown. Signed in indian ink with initials L v. K on green satin ribbon bookmark stitched in spine.
‘POLYMATH’ - LEITSATZ (1) (Juli 1932): Defaced frontispiece photogravure portrait of Rudolf Steiner (embellished with doodled moustache and forelock) torn raggedly from introductory notes to an Anthroposophical Course on Curative Pedagogy, overwritten with fountain pen:
Giftflaschen haben eine Mehr-Facetten-Form,
so daßsie Dunkeln leichter zu erkennen sind.
(Poison bottles are many-faceted, too,
so you may recognise them in the dark.)
IMPERIAL ROMAN BUST (1923): Inside-out rubber mould of imperial portrait-head inverted. Bust mounted on upturned shoulders, on account of the head being turned inside out by withdrawal through the neck cavity; exposed inner mould’s inverse depressions of eyes, nose, ears and laurel crown infilled with mosses, lichens, soot, dried woodlice, etc. Signed L v. K and titled Imperium in imperio. (Size: 171/2" high.)
MS SCORE OF ‘PADEREWESKI’S DOGS’ (NY 1924): L v. K’s personal note admits that: ‘...at the stagedoor in the press of admirers I was unable to approach my idol so I plucked a tuft of hairs from one of his dogs which had strayed in my direction. Later that evening, I scattered these cherished curls on a sticky flypaper I had inscribed with a stave. Inevitably, a wirehaired Bass clef determined the passage’s notation.’ Fa records that this dirge-like score was played many times, 8va bassa, by L v. K, with the flypaper unfurled with mock solemnity above the keyboard with the assistance of Leo Ornstein and two indulgent drinking companions (Fa?).
‘FELDSCHUSTEREI’ (2) - SONNET IN METRICAL FEET WITH MASCULINE AND FEMININE ENDINGS (1938): 112 miscellaneous unmatched items of abandoned footwear, including children’s slippers and orthopaedic boots, arranged in 14 rows of 8 items, with additional line endings as follows: Lines 1, 4, 5 & 8 - knieschützer (3); Lines 2, 3, 6 & 7 - women’s satin dancing pumps; Lines 9 & 12 - schaftstiefel (4); Lines 10 & 13 - wooden clogs; Lines 11 & 14 - young girl’s gilded sandals.
FANTASTICAL CAPTIVE CLOCK (1935): An ingenious clock face with fixed hands bound by barbed wire. By a system of rotating dials, the hours and minutes adjust position in relation to the motionless hands. Inscribed:
Was uns fehlt ist nicht Hoffnung,
Was uns fehlt ist Glück
(We are not wanting of hope.
We are wanting of luck.)
EUCLIDIAN PROPOSITION (1917, aged 15) THEORUM I: This prescient figure is neatly superscribed in ink over the blazon of Church and State on the embossed cover of L v.K’s copybook for November, the month of the storming of the Winter Palace. L v. K seeks a syllogistic proof: ‘An isosceles triangle denoted ABC is inscribed such that AB = AC. Assume A is Ausspringender Winkel [Salient Angle]. The mid-point of magnitude BC is P. Let P be Palast Revolution [Palace Revolution]. AP is produced to O [Origin] in such a manner that BCO is equilateral.
‘ can be cut only at mid-point of AP at E Entweihung [Desecration]. Hence, a transversal to connect opposite sides joins C to E, and is produced to meet in L. Let transversal terminate at L point of contact. Suppose L is Leninismus [Leninism]. Demonstrate under these conditions that AEL is isosceles.
‘ , à fortiori, A : E = E : L, which is true.’
L v. K further intercalates the legend:
Geometrie ist ein P.L.A.C.E.B.O.
um das Chaos abzuwehren.
(Geometry is a P.L.A.C.E.B.O.
To ward off chaos.)
THEOREM II (1937): Unmounted photograph of unidentified sunlit Spanish town square with fountain and townsfolk, inscribed -
(a + b) = (b + b)
Para ellos, la palabra más bella de su
léxico era ‘fuente’.
Declararon que la palabra más temida
Vea aquí en esta foto
las personas que fueron torturadas
en aquella fuente.
(For them the most beautiful word in their lexicon / was ‘fountain’. / They declared the word most feared / to be ‘torture’. / See in this photo here / these people were tortured / at that fountain.)
BIBLIOTEK (1932): Picture Postcard with photograph of Königliches Bibliotek, Berlin, inscribed in slatecoal Leichner pencil -
Die Zufriedenheit der Gelehrten
ist die Enttäuschung von Explikationen.
(The happiness of scholars
is the disappointment of explication.)
AFTER THE CHRISTIANS OVERRAN THE CIRCUS (1938): Steel engraving of the Coliseum with scrawled legend -
Circo Perfuso Christianis
Postremo monstravit gladiatori finis
modo esse arenam metam fato sanguinis
(Last, the fallen gladiator saw,
simply, sand is what blood is for.)
THEOREM III - ‘SUDETENLAND’ (1938): This is the last ‘composition’ in L v. K’s hand. Page 540 of the Statistisches Jahrbuch für das Deutsche Reich 1933 has been annotated with calculations derived from the total electoral returns of the N.S.D.A.P., the Nazis having polled 17, 277, 180. The page is covered with many spidery formulæ and equations (see Appendix I) prompted by his arithmomania; including one cypher heavily underscored -
That L v. K chose September 8th 1938 as an auspicious date upon which to write to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain can be adduced from the following correspondence:
Personal and Confidential
Thursday 8th • September • 1938 (5)
(Post restante) Studio Harcourt,
49 Avenue d’Iéna,
Paris - XVI
The Rt. Hon. N. Chamberlain, C.H., M.P.
10, Downing Street,
In consequence of recent correspondence with your Foreign Office I am flattered to know my name is not unfamiliar to you. In your most recent speeches you allude with prophetic utterance to a truth of such gravity, which my research has now brought to light, that I would not dare breath it to a soul before exhausting every effort to establish contact with those responsible for guiding the conduct of your great nation.
My first appeal I naturally direct to you in your official capacity as Prime Minister, and in the name of God I beseech you not to refuse me an interview.
Just as I do not doubt the sincerity of your beliefs, so I implore you with all the earnestness at my command not to doubt the sincerity of mine.
The providential, dare I say, momentous computation whose recursive progression I have to communicate to you posits an astounding expression of numerical behaviour known only to... (letter incomplete: see Appendix I)
September 21st 1938
House of Commons
Mr Chamberlain has asked me to reply to your letter of September 8th inst. and to thank you for the copies of correspondence enclosed.
It is felt that the subject matter of your letter should more properly be addressed to a member of the clergy or to a logician than to a layman, however great his national prestige. Under the circumstances, I am returning the copies of your calculi in case you should wish to pursue the matter with a dignitary of the church.
G. P. Humphreys-Davies
pp. Prime Minister’s office
An additional sketch appended by Fa states:
‘L v. K was born in Mulhouse-Riedesheim (Elsass/Alsace) in 1902 the son of a director of the Rheinische Creditbank. Up to the age of 16 his studies were in German until the political overthrow of 1918 and his teachers changed to French (to which his long and willing sojourn in Paris can be attributed). In this year he attended a private school at Belfort. At the age of 19 he was invited to enter the 1st written examination for both the University of Strasbourg and the faculty at Nancy; however, by his own decision he spent a brief period at the Technical School at Rosenheim in Upper Bavaria which explains his abiding interest in horology and mechanics.
‘In April 1939 L v. K returned reluctantly to Berlin at the behest of his parents to consult a psychopathologist with the aim to treat his compulsive obsession for numerology and his impassioned belief that only a numerist could break the bonds that held him captive of his own private cabala whereas a doctor could not.
‘A defaced souvenir, entitled A Nation Honours its Leader, suggests that L v. K was witness to the gigantischen Truppenparade of 20th April 1939. (See photospread captioned ‘The flags are dipped in salute’ and ‘The Führer thanks his armed forces’, above which, in L v. K’s familiar Leichner pencil scrawl, are dashed the words: Ave Caesar, morituri te salutant.)’
No further details are recorded in Fa’s Journal other than the description of the apartment in Avenue d’Iéna (6), its exhibits and the circumstances of L v. K’s death, noted by Fa in the spare terms of his final entry he headed The Etiquette of Death.
THE ETIQUETTE OF DEATH
(Fa writes) ‘My dear comrade, the Futurist, L v. K, died by his own hand on August 24th 1939, the day following the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Non-aggression Pact.
‘Since 1934, L v. K had suffered from profound insomnia and neurasthenia compounded, no doubt, by an increasing absorption in his numerological mania. From that time a dosage of 1.5 grams (24 grains) of Veronal per day had been prescribed and despatched by his family physician in Mulhouse-Riedesheim. The autopsy found the cause of death was an overdose far in excess of 3.5 grams, the lethal dose.
‘When I was finally admitted to his apartment I was struck by a waft of Benzine mingling with the poignant pervading fragrance of Esprit de Fleurs de Cédrat, which he so often caused to fill the room from the font-like electric perfume burners - cassolettes - he had fixed to his salon walls.
‘L v. K had often spoken to me about what he regarded as The Etiquette of Death and in this he had not neglected his duties to the living for the officiating doctor told me that, when found, L v. K showed signs typical of a “suicidal baptism”, having recently bathed and shaved with care, attired himself in a freshly laundered nightshirt, and arranged himself on the bed with averted face (7), considerately covering his head with a large cotton handkerchief.
‘His left hand held a copy of The Mausoleum (8), opened at the title page, his forefinger pointing to the book’s legend: Resurgam in Astris.
‘His right hand grasped a cylindrical tin of Tetkum (9) solution with its label annotated Après moi le déluge AD 20•5•2011-2113.
‘It appeared his last act had been to smear a pair of his boots with this aromatic gum.
‘The MS of Exhibit IV he bequeathed to his friend Kurt Seligman whose Ultrameuble had been exhibited in the Paris Surrealists Exhibition of the previous year. To me he left the curious Captive Clock which he knew I had long coveted. The bulk of L v. K’s estate went to Martin Niemöller’s Pastors’ Emergency League, to assist the sustenance of opposition to the de-Christianising of Germany under the Third Reich.
‘It is not entirely untenable that L v. K’s Latin valediction Circo Perfuso Christianis referred to the unequal contest between the militia Christi of the Old Church and the suborned German Christians’ Movement of the Reich, and, in particular, to the statement by the Reich Minister for Church Affairs, Kerrl, delivered on February 13th 1937, dismissing: “...the question of the acknowledgement of Jesus as the son of God. That is ridiculous, quite inessential. There has now risen a new authority as to what Christ and Christianity is. This new authority is Adolph Hitler.” ’
Fa further notes: ‘Despite the fugitive copies of L v. K’s correspondence, the recreation of the missing fragments can be essayed by reference to his remaining significations. An annotated copy of a 1912 edition of Isadore Kozminsky’s account of Rabbinical prognostication, Numbers - Their Meaning and Magic(10), hints at L v. K’s intentions since Chapter II on the arcana of the Hebraistic “Quaballistic Art” is well-thumbed with a web of marginalia in a familiar hand.
‘Having first made the observation that ADOLF (  = 2+3=5) HITLER (  = 2+3=5) share the same puissant numerical values as NAPOLEON (  4+1=5) BUONAPARTE (  4+1=5), ibid page 59, L v. K, at length, records the signification of this concordance: 5 = the number of fire and struggle; combines as 10 = the number of rise and fall, of prophesy and futurity, of manifestation and power, etcetera.’
( ENDPAPERS )
On the endpapers, almost overlooked, Fa remarks a Pentacle constructed by L v. K which Fa supposed could point to the substance of the elusive page of correspondence with Downing Street and the meaning of Study I.
In accordance with the Quaballah of Pythagoras (ibid. Chapter III), L v. K has assigned the system of ‘9-potency’ (A-I = 1- 9 ; K-S = 10-90 ; T-Z = 100-500 ; J - Hv = 600-900) to the Führer (11), the import of whose name can be judged by the following numeromancy:
You’ll be pleased to learn that now that I’ve burned all Fa’s papers I’m sleeping easier at nights. On reflection, I suspect Fa’s entries might have been his own odd way of tracing the fever chart of his crackup after the war. Do you remember Fa wouldn’t allow us to play with that girl called Beverly we liked because she went to the Steiner School? ‘Too much dogma is the ruination of the soul,’ he growled. You know that Fa’s own father was born in Neider-Ramstadt so you’re probably thinking, like me, that Fa’s jottings amount to nothing less than a naturalised Englishman’s protracted act of exculpation. Or is the more likely explanation that poor Fa’s observations were, like him, of such an unusual kidney that anything he wrote would invariably seem Fa-fetched?
(1) Guiding thought
(2) Field shoemaker’s shop
(3) Parachutist kneepads (half rhymes noted by L v. K)
(4) Jack boots or Marschstiefel
(5) Fa notes: ‘L v K’s own species of gematria determined not only the date of his first letter to Chamberlain but also eerily prefigured the time of death of his beloved only sister, Isolde, killed later the same day in the rioting in Prague that heralded September 30th Munich Pact.’
(6) Fa comments: ‘Studio Harcourt by 1943 had successfully re-established itself as a photoatelier specialising in “Erstklassige Porträts” for the Wehrmacht.’
(7) Fa comments: ‘A Cheremissian belief is that the sleeper is bound to die if he composes himself facing the wall.’
(8) ‘Dreams and Reflections concerning Death and the Grave’ by Amraphel. Marchant Singer and Co., 1864.
(9) Benzine-based water repellant for the proofing (‘imprägnierung’) of rainwear, manufactured by Schmidt & Magnusson, Kopenhaven - tradename underscored in this wise: T. E. T.K . U.M.
(10) Fa notes: A holgraph treatise on the concealed mysteries of occult mathematics by the French adept, the ‘Quabbalist’ Eliphas Levi, was itemised in the inventory of L v. K’s remaining effects but it was subsequently removed from the civic depositary by an unidentified claimant (Fa??).
(11) Fa notes: Diagram labelled ‘Trinity’. As is well known, the Number of the Beast in the Book of Revelation (‘Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man, and his number is six hundred, three score and six.’) was configured by Peter Bungus to correspond to the name of Martin Luther when expressed in half German and half Latin. Bungas himself wrote a book on occult numerological symbolism.
Catherine Eisner’s recent fictions have been published in the anthology of women’s writing, The Catch, published by Serpent’s Tail, and appeared in the women’s literary journal Mslexia. A Textbook Case, the first part of her trilogy, D-r Tchékhov, Detektiv, a literary detective novel set in 19th Century Russia, is now complete and seeking a publisher.
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- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
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- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
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- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
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- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
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- Ugly Tree, The
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- Yellow Crane, The