Literary magazine “feuerstuhl”: anarchist primer

The third issue of the anti-authoritarian magazine is about James Joyce. Among other things, it is about the substance of the mockers in "Ulysses".

The Irish author James Joyce, May 15, 1931 Photo: ap

Egon Gunther is an anarchist. And he is a painter and lyricist, he works with natural stone, builds dry stone walls and loves stucco. He was born in Munich in 1953 and now lives in Upper Bavaria. There he has written a "Heimatroman": Bavarian Gentians" is not about funny homeland stories, but about the time of the Raterepublik, fascism and the postwar period. Gunther’s not-so-new project is the magazine Feuerstuhl. It has been around since 2015, and the third issue has just been published.

Feuerstuhl, he says, is a decidedly anti-authoritarian magazine, a firing log named after a Mexican story from the novel "Government" by the mysterious B. Traven, Gunther explains, "It brings prosaminiatures, drawings, zoots, sketches, surrealist billets, photographs, palimpsests, Polaroids, poems, aphorisms, apophtegmata, anarchist essays, magical mantras, nomadic manifestos, kaleidoscopic insights and vistas, territorial explorations & radical digressions, and even occasionally has a red or black thread."

That thread in the third issue "for scoffers and firebirds" is the Irish writer James Joyce, who was himself a great scoffer. After the Joyce poem "Dooleysprudenz," the magazine begins with an essay by Detlef Thiel: "The Substance of Mockers in Ulysses."

Gunther writes in the preface: "In this issue of the Feuerstuhl, much revolves around the literary pavement treaders Joyce/Bloom/Dedalus resuming their walk through the chaotic everyday life of the world, only that even sharper attention is paid to the anarchist underpinnings of it all…"

Anarchist philosophies meet nonviolent ideas

Joyce never described himself as an anarchist, but as a "socialist artist," as he wrote in a 1905 letter to his brother Stanislaus Joyce. However, Tudor Balinisteanu, in his book Religion and Aesthetic Experience in Joyce and Yeats, suggests that Joyce, as a liberal ironist, was quite in tune with anarchist philosophies – but with the nonviolent ideas of Benjamin Tucker, whom Joyce admired. In addition to Tucker’s books, Joyce left behind in Trieste writings by Kropotki, Bakunin, and Proudhon.

"Fire Chair No 3, Magazine for scoffers & firebirds. Edited by Egon Gunther & Jurgen Schneider. Peter Engstler Publishing House, Ostheim/Rhon 2020, 136 pages, 21 euros.

Gunther had determined at the beginning that the Feuerstuhl should be continued in strictly alternating editorship. This time, Jurgen Schneider is on board as editor, and he is more than qualified for the job.

The gallery owner, translator and artist co-founded the Dublin publishing house Litereire in 1990, he lived in Ireland for two years, and he has translated Irish writers into German – including Sean McGuffin, Seamus Heaney, Anne Enright. He has published an "Irish Cookbook" and, last but not least, "James Joyce in Wiesbaden," a little book about Joyce’s visit to an eye specialist there.

With poems by John Giorno, Nanni Balestrini, and Steve Dalachinsky.

In addition to Joyce, poems by the recently deceased such as John Giorno, Nanni Balestrini, and Steve Dalachinsky are featured in this thoroughly entertaining Fire Stool – as well as Tuli Kupferberg, the co-founder of the legendary Fugs, whose death anniversary is approaching for the tenth time.

Egon Guenther said the works of poets who often died too soon leave sparks of inspiration and hope, as did B. Traven’s remarks about the fire chair: the official seat on which, among an Indian people, the chief takes his seat. His subordinates make it clear to him that he is not sitting here to rest, but to work for the people.