Zettelkasten Forum


A story of a dissertation and a novel

edited December 2019 in Random

I have to share this discovery that I found over at, Manfred Kuehn's excellent but quiet blog, takingnotenow. Hermann Burger wrote a novel called Lokalbericht (Local Report) in 1970. It is about a writer working on a dissertation and a novel at the same time using separate Zettelkastens. The Zettelkastens get mixed up to hilarious consequences. Sounds so intriguing. Fortunately for you and unfortunately for me - it is in German and not English. I'd love to find an English translation of a PDF that I could run through a translation app.

Will Simpson
kestrelcreek.com

Comments

  • This is particularly delightful for me, as I have just agreed to take on my first nonfiction book project, and am now trying to catch up with all of you who have been doing the academic work around Zettelkasten. So, I already have a situation in which my novel notes and my nonfiction notes are in the same slip box, as it were.

    Well, I guess das ist für mich noch ein Grund mehr, Deutsch zu lernen.

  • Running the book through translation software would probably give even more hilarious results than mixing Zettelkastens. Several decades ago I read a (no doubt mythical) story about one of the first attempts at machine translation, which involved English to Russian, and Russian to English. The researchers tried it out with the common English saying "out of sight, out of mind". After it had been translated to Russian and from Russian to English the phrase they ended up with was "invisible idiot".

  • @MartinBB great idea for a plot twist. I'm stealing this story idea.

    You are right, decades ago translation software would have added this kind of funny miss understanding and conversion. That was then and this is now. Even in a lowly browser over and finicky internet connection in rural Idaho, I can get a pretty good translation and it will probably be better next week.

    I tested "out of sight, out of mind" using translate.google.com and got:

    "out of sight, out of mind" to Russian "С глаз долой, из сердца вон" back to English "out of sight, out of mind".

    Will Simpson
    kestrelcreek.com

  • @Will, I guess it depends on the language. German/English probably would not be so bad. I tested "out of sight, out of mind" from English to Hungarian and then back on Google translate, and got "forget it". Which is certainly better than "invisible idiot", even if not quite there yet :) (Granted, Hungarian is hard because not Indo-European.)

  • There's a variant of this story wherein the idiom "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" became "The vodka is angry and the steak is bad".

  • @Will said:
    I tested "out of sight, out of mind" using translate.google.com and got:

    "out of sight, out of mind" to Russian "С глаз долой, из сердца вон" back to English "out of sight, out of mind".

    I guess Google Translate learned (it uses neural networks) that those 2 phrases have identical meaning: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/с_глаз_долой_—_из_сердца_вон

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