Hans Magnus Enzensberger, on Seagull’s unique annual catalogues
So the magpie adorns its nest with everything it finds, no matter how nondescript.
It likes to pull out everything that glitters, not caring much whether it’s paste or diamond.
My magpies are / indispensable, / they laugh at me.
There’s no relying on you, / magpies. / How you surpass me.
You do know what I mean
What I’m trying to say is this:
What you have before you is not a diary but a capriccio, a quodlibet, a potpourri, or rather a mixtum compositum, a commonplace book, or a plain and simple general brouillon.
Do I make myself clear? I mean a hodgepodge, a maremagno, a salmagundi.
In other words: this is probably an olla podrida, a Kudelmuddel, a Sammelsurium or a ragout. Of course, I could also talk of a macécdoine, a charivari or a pêle-mêle—no, just a minute, I’ve got it!—it’s a gallimaufry, a ragbag, a pasticcicciaccio, or damn it, it’s on the tip of my tongue, in a word, it’s a zibaldone, a medley, a farrago, in short, and that’s the end to it, it’s a scrapbook.
Or is that claiming too much? Perhaps it’s no more than a lucky bag.
But so that we understand one another, my dears, it’s no different in our brain (the brain is no different), an undisciplined organ, which doesn’t stick to any sequence, manages without a table of contents and knows no chronology.
Translated by Martin Chalmers