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Closing fast 13: In a world of labels
12/13/2015
Photo © Thomas Wagner, Stylepark

Especially with year-end fast approaching, it can’t harm to be clear about one thing: We really can learn something from the poets and wordsmiths. Take a closer look, and see the one or other insight about things and how they are used that would otherwise escape us lesser mortals. Take Arno Schmidt again. He once wrote in his story “New Year’s Eve Adventures” about working at night, on things that simply could not be postponed, of “cutting-notes–cutting-notes–cutting-notes” in order to “compile the index for a twelve-volume lexicon of the saints”, and about grabbing a breath of fresh air in-between:
“(... (‹If on New Year’s Eve it snows, New Year’s not far to go ›.).) / ,Oh yes: even the shed looks grand.’ While we walked across this ermine carpet to the edge of the sand pit, where one finally was seized by an aeronautic feeling; (and the demeanor of the air making one even more enthusiastic). / Whereupon I drew out my tasting spoon, ‹meß mer’n Tee›, which as a matter of principle I always carry with me in winter; (strong aluminum; without a stamped label it would be quite priceless – but in our world there is nothing that comes without a label any longer); scooped from the nearest dull tree stump. And tasted.”

Is the only means of assistance in a world labeled end to end to taste the snow with a Meßmer tea measuring spoon? Who knows? Schmidt at any rate thought so, back in 1963. The labeling has of course spiraled ever since. Brands, everything is now “branded”. As a point of fact, nothing exists any longer without words printed on it in some form or other, without labelling, packaging leaflets, instructions or certificates, terms and conditions, to which one must invariably agree.

As regards the likewise labeled tea measuring spoon, hardly has such been mentioned, than the following happens: We find ourselves heading for the kitchen cabinet and, without really knowing how on earth it got there, extracting the same from the tea caddy – aluminum and stamped “Meßmer-Tee” and impressed in the spoon’s oval “for two cups”. Well what do you know. With the spoon in your hand you immediately start thinking: Hey, Arno didn’t even need tea and a Madelaine in order to bring back remembrances of things past, he only needed the tea measuring spoon. Got one with you? Can’t be long before there’s snow to taste, white labeled... (tw)