Don’t Let Jonathan Franzen Ruin Karl Kraus For you!

My latest on Slate–on JFranz’s weirdpants new hybrid text The Kraus Project, Franzen’s collaborators, including a deserved shout-out to my former colleague the fabulous Paul Reitter, and Kraus’s friends and associates, some of whom were grade-A batshit nutballs–and thus could not be more amazing to read.

11 thoughts on “Don’t Let Jonathan Franzen Ruin Karl Kraus For you!

  1. Peter Altenberg was known as a poet. Alban Berg set some of his poetry to music in his “Altenberg Lieder” One significant writer who was not mentioned was Egon Friedell, who wrote “Das Altenberg Buch” among others.


    • Yes, you are correct–of course he was a poet in addition to a cultural philosopher. But nowadays he is best known for spending all day, every day at Central. I love the statue of him there!


      • No, he is best known for the Berg Lieder. Friedell was a greater talent in my opinion.with Alfred Polgar He wrote the humorous sketches which they performed together. The best known is “Goethe und die Journalisten”, and it is hilarious. Do you know it?


      • Yep. Of course I’m being facetious. I’m sorry if you thought my piece was inaccurate. I only had one descriptor for Altenberg, and since I prefer his funny aphorisms and view his poetry as cultural criticism, that’s how I chose to describe him. But “best known” he isn’t– nobody outside the German-speaking world has ever heard of him ever. And that was my original point! 🙂


      • Only in the musical world. Have you read Das Altenberg Buch? Any Friedell? I am not critical of you. I am trying to add something to the discussion.


  2. As Franzen should not ruin Karl Kraus for you, so should the one quote from Loos’s most (in)famous essay not ruin Adolf Loos for you–his architecture was extraordinarily sane–and really interesting. His planning principle was “Raumplan” (space plan), by which he tried to get away from the limiting practice of the time, in which a building was vertically divided into floors, which forced each room on a floor to have the same height, be it a powder room or a grand salon. In a Raumplan, spatial volumes are stacked more freely in an overall enclosing volume so that each space can assume the position and height its function and significance suggest. The result is a spatially extraordinary rich interior–with one drawback, lots of short stairs, which are needed to navigate between the different levels of the spaces, but which would be hell for a person in wheelchair.
    Google for images–it’s worth it!


    • Oh, don’t let that piece fool you. I LOVE Loos. His buildings are among my favorite. I especially love the Villa Müller in Prague. I’m well acquainted with his buildings, his American Bar, his gravestone–we do a whole unit on him in my WIEN PRAG BERLIN class!


      • Good! Actually, I wrote my comment more for your readers than for you–knowing that you have spent time in Vienna I had to assume that you knew Loos. BTW When I saw the Villa Muller in Prague in 1968, it was in a sorry state and not really open to the public–I hear that it has been carefully renovated since and can be visited these days.


      • I used to teach at Carnegie Mellon, but I have been retired since 2002. Needless to say, as a former Arch. Prof., I’m prone to start a lecture as soon as an arch. topic comes up–have to control that impulse!


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