This blog shows excerpts from the online fragment novel The Land of all Evil by Thomas Körner for discussion.
The novel website contains more than 7,000 pages in nine parts, which Körner calls fragments. You either start from the beginning where you chose one of the fragments and follow your way as the navigation takes you. You can also go straight into any page of any fragment. The author Thomas Körner has thought and designed his novel as a kind of archive in which you can walk and look around like in a museum or an exhibition. Each fragment, which can be seen as a separate archive space or room (of a nine-room house), was designed by Körner in a different way. Sometimes it’s pun, sometimes it’s called reading game or theater scene.
In the beginning of reading each fragment the reader first has to figure out how to navigate through the fragment. In doing so, I would like to ask you to pay attention to the different techniques the writer Thomas Körner uses to encourage you to slow down reading, to make it in-depth reading.
Direct Access to the fragmentary novel “The Land of all Evil”
For better understanding, here is a table of the fragments and their contents:
Fragment of the word –
Word installations located on public streets, squares and buildings in Berlin (East).
The writer uses common language in the GDR: word constellations such as slogans, calls of the party SED on military anniversaries, inscriptions in monuments and buildings.
Fragment of the Book – EGSS or the Einheitskartei – System of a way of life in five file boxes
The fragment is divided into 5 file boxes with the following contents:
Fragment of the Book First Box – (workbook)
Körner’s work program or novel concept, which he describes as theoretical literature.
Fragment of the Book Second Box – (Dictionary)
Collection of words that Körner already (in parts ironically) has given new meaning, or whose meaning the reader can supplement for himself.
Fragment of the Book Third Box – (subject)
A very extensive file box, which (finally once) thematizes the subject as individual, which was not welcome in the collectively oriented GDR and was not intended from a Marxist / socialist point of view (ideology!).
Fragment of the Book Fourth Box – (reference book)
Here Körner assembles his personal collection of writers he has read. Through his reading experiences and insights, he systematically shows to make formularized lists: He exemplifies the construction of a formular essay. F
Fragment of the Book Fifth Box – (calendar book)
Here Körner writes a kind of diary – before his escape in end of 1979 still being in the GDR – up to the year 2005.
Fragment of the Worldview (ideology)
This fragment shows up as a planned theater performance with acts, scenes with word material that could be spoken between the characters: the acting figures are mirrored on four levels, i.a. figures are transformed from Klingsohr’s fairy tales as archetypes and to the GDR. However, the piece does not take place, but only with the reading of the word material and its appropriate composition by the reader it comes to performance.
Fragment of the Work
This fragment is still considered as theoretical contribution, so it serves to explain to the reader his activity of reading as an active activity with the help of the myth of Sisyphus, and thus to activate him to tell his own story.
Fragment of the Human Being
Körner presents the language of the GDR and places it in a changed context, which reveals the misuse of the language. Here he adopts the law for the development of a socialist personality whose formulations resembled those of human makers in other totalitarian states or even homunculus-makers of former alchemy.
Fragment of the Plan
This is about slowing down of reading, with regards to Clement of Alexandria’s word rugs (stromateis) and the misery of the method that one must create a story for oneself.
Fragment of the State
This fragment is divided into four very different reading games.
Reading game of the House Community
Television was an important medium for transporting information in the GDR, which allowed the people trapped by walls and language barriers to look beyond their borders (because they could receive West television). The content is about a private community settling in front of the television and watching it in a play itself. Again, various reading techniques are presented or challenged.
Reading game of the Clubs’ Meeting
This reading game shows a party meeting with f.e. comrades WULB and NECK, who do not seem far away from Walter Ulbricht and Honecker, as card players whose statements fall like playing cards on the gaming table.
Reading game of the Demonstration
Here, Körner shows how reusable the photos and short films made on political anniversaries were: The broadcaster selects from the archive the TV report on “Women’s Day” from last year, updated the date in the background – and the new report of this year was ready.
Reading game from the State Visit
Basis for this were reports from the daily newspaper Neues Deutschland on the state visit of Fidel Castro in June 1972 with fake agent voices and background information in the dossier.
Fragment of the People – not yet published
Fragment of the Escape – not yet published
Both fragments have been completed and can be viewed in the Archive for Suppressed Literature of the Federal Foundation for Working Up of the SED dictatorship.