German Word of the Week I: Verniemandung

A creator of a stupid word, nicely insulted.

It means “Nobody-ification.” Strictly speaking, it’s not really  proper German.  The definition will be provided by the German satirist Eckhard Henscheid (link in German, he’s unfortunately unknown outside of Germany).  In 1985, Henscheid opened up the German front in the War on Crap with “Dummdeutsch” (Idiot German), a dictionary of moronic new phrases from the worlds of academia, business, and sport.  Take it away, Hensch:

Verniemandung.  The well-known author and editor of the works of Hölderlin D.E. Sattler bemoaned in the Frankfurter Rundschau the “nobody-ification” … of Germans through the advertising campaign of Egon Hölder, Director of the Federal Statistics Agency. The ads reassured Germans “Your name helps us count and will later be destroyed.” 

Granted, not an especially clever formulation.  But then again, not everyone is a Hölderlin, or his editor. Through sentences like “it was an attack on the productive imagination, that lies in the non-normative marking quality of names” Herr Sattler’s name, in turn, will not be "destroyed" but rather eternally branded as completely nuts.  By us, namely.  Here.

Lucio Fontana’s Mary

One picture of the Virgin Mary.

I visited Rome in early March.  I’ll spare you the details here, but I did want to share one picture. 

It was taken in the Vatican museums, where you can see oodles of treasures, including the Caravaggio Entombment and the Sistine Chapel.  For me, a high point was a short trip through the Vatican Museum Collection of Contemporary Religious Art, a less-visited section of the museum.  Put together by a few forward-looking Popes, it contains many works by little-known Italian artists, including one painting featuring a crucified Christ in a business suit, which I found a bit jarring. 

I was surprised to see how many bona-fide contemporary artists have done a Holy Family or St. Christopher or two, including such unusual suspectMary_by_lucio_fontanas as Max Beckmann and Otto Dix.  The most unusual was perhaps Lucio Fontana, the Argentine/Italian sculptor, best known for thoroughly abstract works involving punctured canvases and globes with erupting holes.  He was given to names like "Spatial Concept."  Here, he shows an unexpectedly lyrical side with this enchanting Madonna.  No idea how this work came to be, but I’m quite glad it did.