Schriftsteller in Abattoir

The day is beginning in Berlin, and there is much to do: data to smash, thoughts to let float, writing to be combed through like twigs on a forest floor.  I thought I might make list and therefore represent the summery burdens which are, at times, light, and, at other times, groaning with incontestable weight.  The present projects in progress, die Werke im Aufbau!  I should prefer to see them finished:

Little Dish A: Book review re: Classical Music in 1930s Berlin [2,000 words]

Little Dish B: Book review re: Sino-Korean relations [1,500 words]

Side Salad: Final edits to my accepted Korean Studies manuscript on Yanbian Koreans, 1945-1950 [12,152 words]

That’s all good, and tricky enough to at least feed my illusion of being mentally nimble, but then more arrives on the table…

courtesy Dublin Creative Writing blog

Heavy Soup 1: Iris Chang / Rape of Nanking article [1,500 words short of 3,500 word target]

Heavy Soup 2: Simone de Beauvoir manuscript [10,407 words]

And that would really be enough, but then

Into the Abbatoir: Book manuscript B [48,075 words, only 80,000 to go!!]

And after all that, we get to manage all the new information coming in, and it is indeed worthy!

Cleanup: Compiling notes from the past week’s sallies into the Bundesarchiv in Berlin.

Such things tend to look like this:

Otto Grotewohl, Wilhelm Pieck, and Johannes Dieckmann to Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, and Zhou Enlai, “Congratuations on the Occasion of the Sixth Anniversary of the PRC,” October 1, 1956, in Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR im Bundesarchiv [SAMPO], DY 27 (Kulturbund, Bundessekretariat), Folder 15866.

The document describes East German support for China’s “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence” put forward by Zhou Enlai and notes that those principles were “zu denen sich auch die Deutschen Demokratischen Republik rückhaltslos bekennt, finden bei den Völkern der Welt immer mehr anerkennung und tragen endschedend bei zur Entspannung in den internationalen Beziehungen.”

Add about three hundred of these summary/citations or what ought to be several pages of single-spaced analysis of much richer, less formulistic documents (such as the debate over how to portray the violent repression [with 55 deaths] of the 17. June 1953 demonstrations to the world), and you get an idea of what a data schlump an archives visit represents.  The challenge, as ever, is to find relatively rapid outlets for one’s research so that it doesn’t end up merely squatting on one’s hard drive or dying a cold death in a clump of neglected photocopies or scans in the rhetorical freezer.

*    *    *

At this point, all the above represents is activity, much in the way that a hamster on a wheel is active.  Therefore what is needed to today is to actually stellen die verdammte Schriften [release the damned writings], sending them over the edge.  The process, at its end, should resemble a man standing calmly and dropping raw fruit into a blender — with purposeful ease, followed by a twinge of pressure, and an unmistakable result whose swift consumption is no detriment to its nourishment of the organism.  It’s all just biodegradable brain food for our regeneration out of this sad little epoch.

And then avant!  In any case we’ll see how this all goes.  I’d hate to see a slackening in my scholarly statistics in the autumn; the Words Published on Paper Per Day average (.wpppd) really musn’t go below 300!

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