the end

Stephen Hawking in Bild

Yesterday night Stephen Hawking—being on promotion tour for his new book—was guest at a late night show on German national TV. I watched some ten minutes of the show and the way Professor Hawking was presented decidedly reminded me of Professor [Charles] X[avier], the founder / mentor / leader of the X-Men. Then this morning I took my usual stroll to the tramway station. Close to the station there’s an array of newspaper vending boxes placed on the sidewalk, every box prominently displaying today’s frontpage. The frontpage of Germany’s largest tabloid “Bild” [Picture] today is filled with a blue-marble depiction of our Earth completely immersed into a fiery blaze. At the topleft corner there’s a small inset showing Professor Hawking, and the headline reads: “Earth’s most intelligent human being prophesies: That’s the way our world will end.” Ain’t that another symptom of how deeply topoi from the comic-book-stories universe have seeped into contemporary everyday-culture?

Christopher Reeve in Bild

Christopher Reeve as Lex Luthor in BildOn 12 October 2004 I [once again] became aware of how deeply named topoi have seeped into my mind. When on that day I drew nearer to the newspaper boxes the following headline caught my eye: “Super-Virus kills Superman” A large portrait of Superman was beside the headline, and below it a small inset showed a bald man in a high-tech wheelchair. My instantaneous thoughts went: “Hell, finally Lex Luthor has done it!” I couldn’t do anything against that idea, it just sprang up from the depths. Then of course I metaphorically slapped my forehead, and got the facts straight: The actor Christopher Reeve had died, and both pictures showed him. But I confess that today I at first instance mistook poor bloating-sun-burned Earth for the exploding planet Krypton.

For more on the topoi I am speaking of, have a look at the excellent Mad Scientists and the Movies page.

And after boingboing recently has hinted to
Horrton Hears a Heart, I dare to post a matching poem by the immortal Aleister Crowley [rhymes on holy]—just to make the madness complete:

The End
The end of everything. The veil of night
Is not so deep I cannot comprehend.
I see before me yawn—a ghastly sight—
The End.

Love long ago deserted me to wend
His way with younger men. Life spreads a blight
Over me now. I have not now one friend.

There is no hope for me; no gleam of light
To my black path will any comfort lend—
Yet will I meet with smiling face, upright
The End.
Das End’
Das End’ von allem. Nachtens Schleier dicht
Ist nicht so tief, daß ich’s nicht verstehen könnte.
Ich seh’ vor mir klaffen—gräßlich’ Sicht—
Das Ende

Vor langer Zeit die Liebe ging,
Um mit Jüngeren fortan zu ziehn
Das Leben selbst sprach den Schreckensfluch
So daß ’nen einzgen Freund vergebens ich such’

’s ist keine Hoffnung; kein Schimmer von Licht
Der das Dunkel meines Pfads aufbrennt
Dennoch tret’ ich lächelnd und aufgericht’
Gegenüber … dem End’.

The poem is taken from YORKE Collection N1, section 2—poems collected in a small notebook, completely written in Aleister Crowley’s handwriting. Around 1898 or earlier. The German translation is by yours truly and taken from my dissertation Metatrickster (p. 188) which, by the way, is available online under a CC-licence and can be downloaded in full here. [.pdf | 7.5MB | in German, though] Yes, the translation is a miserable one—but Marcel Schwob thought Crowley to be a miserable poet. In consequence my translation is congenial. [Just for the fun of it: Compare the sizes of the Wikipedia entries on ↑Crowley and ↑Schwob … ]
Mad Scientists and the Movies initially via entry at infocult

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