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Angelology (Notebook)

The angel Wormwood sounds the Third Trumpet over the Earth (Anon., ca. 1265 –70)

"Jeder Engel ist schrecklich [Each angel is terrible]."

—Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies

Every angel has its chores

farming feeling,

bittersweet fruit, Earth's GPP,

Baal's auto-da-fé, folks'


Are they sentient? AI??

Don't think us like them!

Supposed by Stanisław Lem,

they command dreams,

pernicious beings, bad,

like Zeus, in Homer's Iliad:

"He spoke to the Dream, addressed it in winged words:

'Go now, destructive Dream,

to the swift ships of the Achaians,

and when you reach the hut of Atreus's son Agamemnōn. . . .

Bid him to arm the long-haired Achaians for battle . . .'"*






. . . them.

Byzants, Khazars, Kievan Rus’ . . .

that passing guy,

gone the lot, no fuss.

Not even language, mathematics—even music, a sigh . . .

We must believe, believing die.

Tell me again . . . you claim to be . . . ?

Get out of here! You're kidding me!

An angel image from Timurid Bukhara.

"Engel (sagt man) wüßten oft nicht, ob sie unter Lebenden gehn oder Totem [Angels (people say) often don't know whether they're dealing with the living or the dead]."—Rilke, Duino Elegy No. 1

For Lou Andreas-Salomé

*Homer, The Iliad, 2.7–11, trans. Peter Green (Oakland: University of California Press, 2015).

GPP = Gross Planetary Product.

Baal: "basically a title meaning ‘lord’ or ‘master’” and the name of the highest god worshipped in Canaan and other Semitic-speaking areas" (M. L. West, The East Face of Helicon: West Asiatic Elements in Greek Poetry and Myth [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997], 85, 90–91).

Stanisław Lem = Polish science fiction writer and futurologist (1921–2006).

Lou Andreas-Salomé: ". . . but for the influence of that extraordinary woman, my entire evolution would not have been on the path that led me to discover so many things" (Rainer Maria Rilke and Marie von Thurn und Taxis, Briefwechsel [Zurich, 1951], 2: 655).


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