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A Present Day German Ravenblack Satirist

Rarisch is a masochist like Strindberg or Wedekind who tear themselves to pieces. “You have to prostitute yourself as a poet, you have to rip yourself open, otherwise the poems would be unnecessary” (letter, 27.6.81). He does not only strip himself naked, but you and me likewise; therefore Klaus Wagenbach, publisher and Kafka-scholar enrolls Rarisch in the odious circle of poètes maudits, a literary term, first applied devaluatingly on writers like Mallarmé (les Fleurs du mal) or the adept of Satanism Joris Karl Huysmans (Là-bas), later elevated, probably by Hans Heinz Ewers, the creator of the delicious male devouring monster Alraune (1911), ...

Rarisch was an instigator of the “Group 4 & 4” with Dieter Volkmann, Johannes Teufel and Manfred A. Knorr; they proclaimed themselves “epigonae”, descendents of Dada, with Richard Huelsenbeck, co-founder of Dadaism in the Cabaret Voltaire 1916 in Zürich, the only then surviving Dadaist-monument, a kind of high-priest Sarastro; Huelsenbeck died in 1974. The “Group of 4 & 4” gave a “Dada soiree with saw and harp” and called their literature culture cellar in Berlin “Massengrab” (mass grave) where they between 1961–63 staged over 133 events, the largest literary society in West Berlin with over 1600 members ...

The “group of 4 & 4” called themselves Ultimists, and Rarisch edited their almanac. “The difference between Dadaists and Ultimists is .... Dadaists were representatives of a postwar generation (referring to catastrophe). Since the next war will be the last, we have to speak of an ars ultima” (Ultimistischer Almanach, 1965, p. 6). In connection with the Ultimists Rarisch edited their pessimistic Journal “total” (1966–68).

He has been and is being attacked by all fronts because of his caustic quill in his verses of “rust and vitriol” he assails all holy cows from the Bonn “Dem’kratie (damn-cracy)” to the Symphonic God Karajan: “Bernstein contra Karajan, Primadonneneitelkeit” (prima donna vanity). He made enemies with all members of the – according to Rarisch, only officially defunct – Group 47, whom he publically called a clique, even a Mafia, satirizing their notoriety. He has a feud of long standing with the Nobel Laureat Böll: “unser täglich Brot gib uns heute, und vergib mir den Nobelpreis” (give us our daily bread, and forgive me the Nobel prize), and in a well annotated essay he accuses Grass of plagiarism.

Poetry is supposed to lift our spirits to sublime heights. When Goethe strolls through the woods, he finds a lovely flower: “Ich ging im Walde so für mich hin ...”, Rarisch visualizes a garbage dump. The motto of Rarisch’s anthology is “Prolog zum Nihil” (prologus to nil), and it could also be the epilogue, no wonder.

    “Kann denn ein Rabe
    mit schwarz krächzendem Schnabel
    mehr künden als Tod?”

Arizona State University

Western Humor and Irony Membership Serial Yearbook
Proceedings of the 1983 Whim Conference:
Metaphors Be With You:
Humor and Metaphor

April 1, 1984
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona 85287

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