Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain: "Doubts and Considerations", "Table Talk", "Mounting Misgivings. Of the Two Grandfathers, and the Boat-ride ..."

The passage of Tuesday is marked with short scenes in which Hans discusses and pays his bill -- Hans' billing week ends on Tuesdays, since had had arrived on a Tuesday -- and then an account of Hofrat Behrens personal history -- he is the widower of a victim of the tuberculosis who had taken the altitude treatment before dying and being buried in Davos, and himself seems to have been afflicted. Hans expresses doubt about whether a fellow-sufferer is fit to approach a disease with the proper objectivity.

Some part of the second week is disposed of -- none too precisely -- in a chapter describing Hans' mounting infatuation with Madame Chauchat and the part that the schoolmistress at his dining-room table, Fraeulein Engelhart, plays in it. Fraeulein Engelhart, observing Hans' interest, becomes Madame Chauchat's advocate while Hans makes himself out to be her critic. She finds out Madame Chauchat's given name -- Clavdia -- and fills in Hans with what is generally known about Clavdia's life story, which doesn't seem to be something we can have any confidence in.

Hans assuaged his conscience about this preoccupation with the thought that he would soon be leaving anyway.

139-140: "Hans Castorp, when he rose from one meal, could straightaway by anticipation begin to rejoice in the next -- if, indeed, rejoicing is not too facile, too pleasant and unequivocal a word for the sentiments with which he looked forward to another meeting with the afflicted fair one. The reader, on the other hand, may very likely find such adjectives the only ones suitable to describe Hans Castorp's personality or emotions. But we suggest that a young man with a well-regulated conscience and sense of fitness could not, whatever else he did, simply 'rejoice in' Madame Chauchat's proximity. In fact, we -- who must surely know -- are willing to assert that he himself would have repudiated any such expression if it had been suggested to him."

The relationship provided the emotional correlate for the physical agitation which Hans had experienced since his arrival.

Clavdia, too, becomes aware of Hans interest. Hans contrives to meet Clavdia's eyes in the dining-hall, and to encounter her in the hallway.

Castorp casts about for somebody to provide a counterbalance to his indulgence. He determines that neither Joachim, with his own preoccupation with Marusja, or Hofrat Behrens, with his probable affliction, would do. He settles on Settembrini. And so a few more days are disposed of, again none too precisely, recounting what Settembrini had said over the course of several conversations and how Castorp had reacted to it.

Settembrini spoke about his grandfather, the lawyer and political agitator (who reminded Castorp of his own grandfather because he dressed all in black, though for opposite reasons, that is, to mourn the imprisonment of liberty by the old regime). Settembrini expounded on his understanding of human history as a conflict between justice, freedom, and knowledge, on one had, and oppression, tyranny, and ignorance on the other. Thus Settembrini saw his father, a humanist scholar, as engaged in the same fight as his grandfather.

The narrator's voice suggests that by subjecting himself to this stream of strenuous moralism, Hans Castorp felt more free to indulge his weakness for Clavdia Chauchat.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain: "Politically Suspect", Hippe", "Analysis"

Hans' first Sunday is one of the fortnightly Sunday band days -- one of the regular variations in the sanatorium routine that Hans is beginning to discover. Settembrini is late, and Hans chides him. Settembrini responds that he is suspicious of music, because it only stimulates emotions, while words alone can convey reason. Joachim responds that he is grateful for music because it breaks up and organizes time. Settembrini that music can in fact enliven us to the passage of time, but then he says it has the tendency to do the opposite -- to deaden us, to encourage quietism -- and thus he calls it 'politically suspect.'

Monday brings another variation: Krokowski's psychoanalytic lectures on love and sickness. In the morning before the lecture, Hans takes a long, singing hike through the hills -- which proves too much for him. He is exhausted and coughs up blood. He has to take a long, delirious rest before returning to the sanatorium. He daydreams about Pribislav Hippe, a schoolmate who had been a two-year preoccupation is his youth. Hippe's 'Kirghiz' eyes are the hidden memory of which Madame Chauchat reminded Hans.

Hans arrives to Krokowski lecture just after the start -- and finds himself behind Madame Chauchat and her distracting back and arm. The theme of the lecture: suppressed love reappears as illness.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain, "Necessary Purchases", "Excursus on the Sense of Time", and "He Practices His French"

The second day is dismissed in two paragraphs. On the third, it turns cold and snows. Hans walks to the village with Joachim to buy rugs for wrapping up outdoors. On the way back, they have another talk with Settembrini. Settembrini mocks the doctors and patients, which Hans and Joachim silently disapprove of. Hans attributes dignity to sickness and dying; Settembrini objects at length. Hans tells Joachim that he thinks Settembrini cares for the chance to talk beautifully as much as to instruct. He senses a tension with Settembrini about his purchase of the rugs (and he may be right; we have already seen Settembrini's hostility to anything that makes Hans' stay more permanent).

Over a short duration -- a few hours or a day -- time passes more quickly if one's experiences are new and varied, but over much longer periods this seems to stretch time out, while monotony compresses the recollection of even years to very little. These reflections are made in a narratorial excursus, but then are attributed to Hans. (The narrative time of the novel certainly seems to work this way. The passing of a few more days is noted in the sentence which begins the attribution of these thoughts to Hans -- presumably nothing unusual happened in those unexamined days.)

Hans sees his first dying man -- and is impressed with the dignity of his death. He practices the dying man's roll of his eyes, and Madame Chacuchat she is making eyes at her. Hans and Joachim labor to escape from Sister Bertha, the nurse. Hans meets Tous-les-deux, and consoles her in French.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Richard Neustadt, Presidential Power: Chapter 2, "Three Cases of Command"

Sometimes a president can get things done by command. This turns out to be the exception rather than the rule. Presidential commands require five things in order to succeed (to be self-executing, in Neustadt's terminology): personal investment, clarity, publicity, recognized authority.

Three cases: Truman's dismissal of MacArthur in 1951, Truman's seizure of the steel mills in 1952, and Eisenhower's dispatch of federal troops to enforce school desegregation in Little Rock in 1957. In each case, command was actually the outcome of a failure to achieve the desired result by softer means. It was in effect a last resort.

Furthermore, in each case the command did not actually achieve the ultimate policy aim. In firing MacArthur, Truman hoped to avoid a prolongation and extension of the Korean War. But the firing forced the administration to be explicit about its intention not to attempt the conquest of the North, which removed China's incentive to reach a rapid settlement. In the steel dispute, Truman sought to preserve steel production while maintaining price controls, but a strike and price-control breaking settlement were only delayed. In Little Rock, integration of the local schools was not sustained into the next year.

In each case, the real effect of the command was to keep open further policy options that otherwise would have been closed. But the presidents were not able to fully exploit these options anyway.

Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain: "Herr Albin", "Satana Makes Proposals That Touch Our Honor"

Herr Albin makes a show of shocking the women with suggestions of suicide during laying-in.

80: "[I]n effect it seemed to him that, though honour might possess certain advantages, yet shame had others, and not inferior: advantages, even, that were well-nigh boundless in their scope. He tried to put himself in Herr Albin's place and see how it must feel to be finally relieved of the burden of a respectable life and made free of the infinite realms of shame; and the young man shuddered at the wild wave of sweetness which swept over him at the thought and drove on his labouring heart to an even quicker pace."

At dinner, Frau Stohr claims to know how to prepare 28 different sauces for fish.

Settembrini and Castorp converse at the after-dinner reception. Castorp babbles about Frau Stohr's sauces and his first impression of Settembrini as an organ-grinder. Settembrini sizes up Castorp's physical, mental, and moral fragility, and urges him to leave right away (an action which Castorp had earlier suggested he might have to take to Ziemssen). Castorp rejects this out of hand -- and perhaps not coincidentally is trying at the same time to recall what Madame Chauchat reminds him of.

Insight from the night's dreams. The silent sister -- a thermometer without it's own numbered scale -- as a metaphor for time. Hans remembers what Madame Chauchat reminds him of (although we don't yet find out).

Hans ends up dreaming about kissing Madame Chauchat's hand. 92: "And at that there swept over him anew, from head to foot, the feeling of reckless sweetness he had felt for the first time when he tried to imagine himself free of the burden of a good name, and tasted the boundless joys of shame. This feeling he experienced anew in his dream, only a thousandfold stronger than in his waking hour."

This concludes ten chapters devoted to a single day.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain: "Satana", "Mental Gymnastic", "A Word Too Much", and "Of Course, a Female!"

Settembrini -- chatty, impecunious Italian, full of literary allusions, bon mots, and gossip -- an anticlerical freethinker, but at the same time a somewhat old-fashioned literary humanist

a philosophical Hans holds forth on the immeasurability of time -- the idea that time flows evenly is based on the convention that it can be measured by regular movements in space -- but this is arbitrary, time and space don't necessarily have any relation -- we don't experience time as something steady: sometimes it feels fast to us, and other times slow -- we have no direct perception of time, as we do with space

the lying-down cure -- breakfast again --Joachim smitten with Marusja but trying to hide it

beer, extreme drowsiness, a clouded head, and heart palpitations with no emotional trigger for Hans (the body acting without reference to the soul, as Hans sees it)

Hans discovers the culprit who bangs the door: Madame Chauchat, from the good Russian table, with braided hair and narrow eyes, who seems to remind Hans of something.

Herr Blumenkohl takes a break from lunch to use his Blue Peter -- Hans discovers blood on his handkerchief

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Richard Neustadt, Presidential Power: Chapter 1, "Leader or Clerk?"

This is a strategic examination of presidential influence. Key questions: what is the nature of this influence and how do presidents sustain and increase it?

This is an examination of the "mid-century" presidency, which is characterized by an unusual continuity of issues, an unprecedented complexity of policy challenges, and the weakening of political party ties.

Presidents have been burdened both legally and by consensus with a greatly expanded set of tasks. In performing these tasks, they are beset by five constituencies -- executive officials, legislators, supporters, the public, and foreign countries. These tasks and pressures impose a kind of limitation on a president's ability to set his own agenda -- Neustadt calls this clerkship to suggest its conflict with leadership.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain: "Drawing the Veil", "Breakfast", "Banter. Viaticum. Interrupted Mirth."

Spanish mother of two afflicted sons -- tous le deux

description of Hans Castorp's reaction to hearing the Russian couple's lovemaking -- avoidance, attempted escape, embarrassment -- 40: "And he began to blush through the powder; for what he had all along seen coming was come, and the game had passed over quite frankly into the bestial." -- all from within Hans Castorp's point of view

My impression is that Castorp is light-headed, even giddy, when he discusses meeting the Russians and Tous le deux with his cousin

breakfast room -- Hans Castorp seated looking toward down the length of the room with the door to the front hall behind him to his left -- he became annoyed when the door was slammed

We get only Doctor Behrens' side of a conversation with Hans Castorp and his cousin, and are left to infer how they responded -- he urged Castorp to follow the regimen of the sanatorium.

walking with Joachim, who struggles to keep up -- a whistling pneumothorax and sick young people for whom time has no meaning -- Joachim: "Sometimes I think being ill and dying aren't serious at all, just a sort of loafing about and wasting time. Life is only serious down below." (51-52) -- Hans' cigar disappoints him --last rites for little Hujus, terminal cases who make a fuss on the verge of death, Behrens admonishment to one such, and Hans' protestation in favor of the priority of the dying