JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 691 Blog Bookstore
"Simply the thing I am shall make me live."
--from Jorge Luis Borges, "Shakespeare’s Memory"
It is interesting to pursue a loose thought to its not-necessarily
logical end. Such is the case with the
Paneuropic ideas of Hermann Soergel (1885-1952). Soergel was a Bauhaus
architect and author of a number of works on design and far more ethereal,
floating-castle ideas. His most spectacular contribution—incubated in the
mid-1920’s and still clinging by its fingertips as an idea among some current
thinkers—was to put a dam across the straights of Gibraltar
Perhaps it is actually three steps to get from the idea of damming up the straits of Gibraltar to the osmosis of Shakepeare’s memories into someone else’s brain—a squinting acquiescence of the middle touch being the brilliant Jorge Luis Borges. You see it was in the Argentine master’s last published story, "Shakespeare’s Memory", that we meet Herr Soergel (as Hermann Sorgel) again. But so far as I can remember Soergel exists only as a fictional character, with no reference to his real-life self. In this wonderful story, Soergel inherits the memories of William Shakespeare—these bits come to him slowly but surely, until they start to conflict with his own memory, and things get difficult. The man with Shakespeare’s memories winds up phoning strangers on the telephone, giving them away at random, until Soergel is left with his own mind again. Superior as Bill’s memories were, they still weren’t Hermann’s, who wanted his own life back in the end.
And so from the titanic, pan-europic technodream of Bauhausian Hermann Soergel to the dead brains and living memories of William Shakespeare, all through the fingers of the beautiful Jorge Luis Borges.
I should point out that the image above comes from the Illustrierte Zeitung (Leipzig) for August 1931, and is a drawing by an artist named "AS. Christ" after Soergel's Panropa's ideas.
Some of the works by Soergel include the following:
Atlantropa. Fretz & Wasmuth, Zurich
Vorwort zu: Wayne W. Parrish : Technokratie - die neue Heilslehre , Piper, München 1933
Die drei großen A, Amerika,
Atlantropa, Asien , 1938. The three large A,
ABC. Kraft, Raum, Brot. Kraft, Raum, Brot.
Erläuterungen zum Atlantropa-Projekt , Arnd, Leipzig
Some works about Soergel:
Alexander Gall: The Atlantropa project. Die Geschichte einer gescheiterten Vision. The story of a failed vision. Herman Sörgel und die Absenkung des Mittelmeers .
Herman Sörgel and the lowering of the MEditerranean
Wolfgang Voigt: Atlantropa.
Wolfgang Voigt: Atlantropa. Weltbauen am Mittelmeer.
Building the Mediterranean world. Ein Architektentraum der
Moderne . An architects dream of modernity. Dölling
und Galitz. Hamburg 1998.