This little slip of printed paper slipped out of a German book of mine. I’m not sure which book, since it happened when I was moving a lot of books.

I’m also not sure what it says (this is Merzkunst, not Kommerzkunst).

I like it immensely.

Here’s an attempt to translate the untranslatable:


Kurt Schwitters
The chair is a screw, bracketspirals firm.
And bang by bang beheads of the voice.
The legs screw arms throttling lett.

The last word is the most troublesome for a translator, as is the genitive “of the voice” (or is it dative?).

Any suggestions?

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at
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1 Response to Merzkunst

  1. flowerville says:

    no other suggestion than what you wrote. it’s oddly spelled though, actually ließ, but then that’s schwitters so it doesn’t matter. i love schwitters too and looked it up in the complete works and couldn’t find it but then i found many other nice things…


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