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Time wasted: narcotic analysis of Thomas Mann's Der Zauberberg.

While the importance of intoxication to Thomas Mann is often noted in criticism, it is usually discussed in relation to his engagement with Nietzsche's Dionysus and fascism. This article looks to shift this focus: drawing on Derrida's reading of the pharmakon, and Avital Ronell's work on drugs and literary modernity, I read "intoxication" in Der Zauberberg as inclusive of the host of drugs, narcotic drafts, stimulants, depressants, and opiates that the novel features. By examining an indeterminate pharmacologic at work in intoxications and diagnoses of toxicity, I demonstrate the role of intoxication in relation to various historical discourses, and colonial and commercial practices. I also situate Mann's text in relation to the emergence of addiction as a medical and social category. I thus draw attention to intoxication as a crucial dimension of the novel's social and historical vision.

Keywords: Thomas Mann--Der Zauberberg--drugs--intoxication--commercial practice


"Es ist ja eigentumlich mit der Dialektik des Rausches bestellt."

--Walter Benjamin, "Der Surrealismus"

Rausch was a topic, a concept, and a word that preoccupied Thomas Mann throughout his life and work, and he frequently positioned himself in opposition to intoxicated states: In a historically charged moment during his first return to Germany after the second World War, Mann identified the centrality of Rausch in Germany's actions ("Ansprache" 482). He likewise rejected Nietzsche on account of his "asthetischen Trunkenheit" and the political dangers associated with it ("Nietzsches Philosophie" 707). Certainly the allegorical link in his 1947 novel between the intoxication of Adrian Leverkuhn and that of Germany under fascist rule carries a strong ethical force that resonates with Mann's own foreswearing of inebriation. In fact, this conjunction of intoxication and right-wing politics in Mann's works can be found as early as "Mario und der Zauberer,"which appeared in 1929. Often read as an allegory of fascism, the work depicts the brandy-fueled performance of Cipolla effecting in his audience "eine trunkene Auflosung der kritischen Widerstande" (700). But Mann's allusions to the dangers of intoxication are not limited--in time or subject matter--to his engagement with fascism: predating "Mario und der Zauberer" by more than fifteen years, Der Tod in Venedig, in which Aschenbach's desire for young Tadzio plunges him into a delirious haze, anticipates an ethically inflected treatment of intoxication that becomes much more pronounced in his later works. In sum, intoxication was a topic to which Mann would repeatedly return--both in his fiction and in his social commentary--almost as if by compulsion.

Mann himself frequently cut a sober figure, and subsequent criticism has, to a considerable degree, followed suit. (1) In his major study on Thomas Mann, T.J. Reed describes the author's view of intoxication as "a difficult condition to maintain, at least as a basis of creativity. Mann had always considered himself an Apolline' creator, mistrusting inspiration and trusting discipline" (155). Mann, Reed claims, thinks of an art of the future as "cooler and not relying on Rausch" (156). Likewise, Scott J.Thompson, citing a 1954 letter in which Mann expressed his dislike for Aldous Huxley's drug experiments, aligns Mann with an "abhorrence of Rausch," even going so far as to suggest an ironic, unwitting complicity with Hitler's advocacy of sobriety. Most criticism that has addressed intoxication in Mann's work, following Mann's lead, has framed it almost exclusively in terms of his engagement with Nietzsche's Dionysian (notable examples include Erich Heller, Burt Foster, and Erkme Joseph, among others). Andrew J. Webber is one of the few critics well attuned to the nuances of Rausch as an aesthetic concept in Mann's works, and he effectively brings out its liminality and strongly erotic resonances--yet even Webber makes the curious generalization that the "keyword" Rausch operates "throughout Mann's writing, as a figure of Dionysian intoxication in the Nietzschean style" ("Mann's Man's World" 75). Such a line of interpretation is problematic not only in its attempt to reduce the scope of a concept all but synonymous with excess, but that it does so by tethering it to Nietzschean intoxication--hardly a known quantity. I suggest in part that this relatively homogenous approach in scholarship has provided a limited framework from which to view the complexities of intoxication in Mann's work, resulting in the marginalization ol this subject as an avenue of inquiry.

Composed between 1912 and 1924, Der Zauberberg is often understood in relation to Mann's political evolution from a staunch nationalist and supporter of German efforts in WWI to an emerging liberal humanist with internationalist sensibilities. (2) It is rarely ever noted in criticism that the novel features an abundance of intoxicants and intoxications: stimulants and depressants, various types of opiates, and a host of narcotic drafts intermingle. States of intoxication and sobriety figure heavily in the novel's historical discourse, as does drug-induced experience in its narrative asides; even a number of the characters can, without much distortion, be considered addicts and pushers, many self-medicating in various ways, not the least of which being their withdrawal from the demands "im Flachland." Der Zauberberg takes place in a period in which German pharmaceutical companies such as Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck, and Bayer were producing and marketing morphine, heroin, and cocaine through colonial practices and, likewise, in a period in which the addict was becoming an increasingly prominent social identity. (3) In showing a curious pharmacology at work in the novel's evocations of drugs, narcotics, and intoxicated states, I look to reveal a dimension of Mann's text that has remained unstudied--in fact, nearly entirely unnoticed. (4) The following will situate Der Zauberberg in a nexus of drugs, intoxications, and structures of addiction, all of which, I argue, constitute an important facet of the text's historicity: drugs and drug effects are both an important part of the modernity upon which the novel reflects and a means through which that historical reflection is obtained. (5) Mann's novel, I will show, effectively calls into question any and all claims to absolute sobriety, while simultaneously exhibiting the stakes of those claims. Such a line of analysis requires a sense for the elusive, the excessive, and even the indeterminate nature of intoxications, and I therefore find it suggestive of a particular theoretical lens.

Derrida devoted considerable attention to the subject of drugs: the ambivalences of drug effects, their conceptual indeterminacy, figure heavily in the deconstruction of Platonism that Derrida undertakes in "Plato's Pharmacy"--indeed, the pharmakon is nearly synonymous with the indeterminate. And Derrida turned his attention to drugs at other points in his thinking as well. In an interview conducted under the title "The Rhetoric of Drugs," Derrida discusses the simulacral logic that undergirds the various discursive appropriations of drugs in our culture, noting how problematically drugs have figured in some of our most crucial conceptual determinations. Much like the poet in Plato's ontological schema, the drug user is at a remove from truth: what we hold against the addict, Derrida claims, is "that he cuts himself off from the world, in exile from reality, far from objective reality and the real life of the city and the community; that he escapes into a world of simulacrum and fiction" (25). Noting the ethical and legal determinations brought to bear upon drugs and drug addicts, Derrida poses the hypothesis of understanding the drug's supplementarity alongside that of literature itself, suggesting that literature might be understood as "contemporaneous with a certain European drug addiction" (27).

In her book Crack Wars, Avital Ronell pursues this line of thought yet further, identifying "drugs" as a construct created by various discursive forces: they have no definite concept but rather are irreducibly metaphorical--"tropium," as she calls it. Throughout her book, Ronell poses the question of what it means to be "on drugs," and addresses what the ontological and historical implications of such a question might be. "Drugs resist conceptual arrest" (51), she notes, and she proceeds to track the various relations between trope and narcotic and, likewise, the points of intersection between literature and law. For both Derrida and Ronell, the determinations that surround narcotics and their effects are fruitful ground for skeptical explorations of power dynamics, and the intricate manner in which narcotics and literature have been interwoven is likewise suggestive of a rich avenue of inquiry for literary analysis. (6)

Certainly it would seem that admitting a notion of excess, of aberrant or altered states, into one's aesthetic and critical conceptions, as Mann often did, introduces the danger of it growing out of conceptual control, and if not in the author's production of that work, then perhaps in the work itself. In his introduction to Der Zauberberg written in English for his Princeton audience, Mann himself noted that "it is possible for a work to have its own will and purpose, perhaps a far more ambitious one than the author's--and it is good that it should be so" ("The Making" 723). If Mann understands the reception of the work in terms of its potential excess of authorial intention, it is worth noting that he describes the novel's genesis in similar terms. Planned initially as a humorous short story to accompany the more serious Der Tod in Venedig, Der Zauberberg "outgrew both spatially and intellectually the limits its author had set. The short story became a thumping two-volume novel" (724). The novel itself--its girth aside--is replete with figures of excess: Castorp's stay at the sanatorium grows from its initial three weeks to seven long years, lavish meals are served and consumed throughout the day, and excess is, of course, a hallmark of Mynheer Peeperkorn and the bacchanalians he oversees. Even Settembrini's attempt to participate in the scholarly enterprise of categorizing and mastering all human suffering, a sobering endeavor by the novel's most sober character, speaks to a certain type of excess. Questions of therapeutic and toxic drugs and their functions as markers of the East and the West figure prominently throughout the novel, as does an elaborate discourse of toxicity in relation to the limiting force of definitions of health. And of course, the ability to stay at the sanatorium--an institution that profits handsomely during the work's sevenyear timespan--requires an excess of capital on the part of its patients. (7)

At one point early in the novel, when some background information is given about the protagonist and soon-to-be engineer, Hans Castorp, the narrator finds Castorp's earlier experience with alcohol worth noting. On account of anemia during his youth, Dr. Heidekind prescribes him "ein gutes Glas Porter," attributing a "blutbildende Wirkung" to its consumption (46). In this way, the intoxicant is introduced into the narrative in relation to a discourse of health: it allegedly helps one achieve a more industrious physical state, a state more fit for the activities of commercial productivity. Likewise, the distinct Britishness of porter is another reminder of the influence of and admiration for English naval industry and capitalist enterprise particularly present in Castorp's burgeoning mercantile hometown of Hamburg. (8)

The drink, however, has the opposite effect on him: it prompts him "zu 'dosen', wie sein Onkel Tienappel sich ausdruckte, namlich mit schlaffem Munde und ohne einen festen Gedanken ins Leere zu traumen" (47). Nonetheless, this new "remedy" appeals to Castorp, and he develops the habit of a breakfast beer, as well as a clear proclivity for a certain oneiric stupor. The drink does indeed have a therapeutic effect, yet therapeutic according to a different conception of health than the one favored by bourgeois society, which values industriousness and productivity and the states of mind and body that are conducive to them--in contrast to the unproductive "doze" of the young Castorp. This question of the pharmacological valences of intoxicating substances figures prominently throughout the rest of the novel, and it is perhaps not surprising that Dr. Heidekind's next prescription for Hans is a trip to the sanatorium.

The process of consuming substances and awaiting their effects becomes a recurring theme in the novel. Among these substances are coffee, tobacco, and alcohol, all of which exert notable influence over the characters' lives and which, in some instances, elicit curious reactions: The consumption of two consecutive cigars, for example, nearly ends Dr. Behrens's life, an incident during which he experiences intensely and simultaneously both "Angst und Festivitat" (250), and coffee alters his moods in various ways, often producing melancholy. One of the first indicators of Castorp's response to the altitude is his physiological and cognitive reactions to alcohol (26,118): the effects of beer and chloroform place him in a befuddled, dreamy stupor (100). After the consumption of a cigar leaves him "[s]chwindelig, beklommen und traumerisch," he is able to reflect on the peculiarity of his experience in the elevation of the Berghof sanatorium: "wie sehr sonderbar es ihm hier oben ergehe" (112). His state of mind is significantly addled by portwine in the chapter entitled "Schnee" (676), and the drink is largely responsible for effecting the sleep that culminates in his vision. Indeed, this curious conjunction of befuddlement and reflection occurs often at the sanatorium.

The indeterminate effect of incorporative acts is nowhere more apparent than in the intoxicating air of Berghof. Upon first diagnosing Castorp, Dr. Behrens, the sanatorium's medical authority, offers the following commentary on the sanatorium's air:

"Also die Luft hier bei uns, die ist gut gegen die Krankheit, meinen Sie, nicht wahr? Und das ist auch so. Aber sie ist auch gut fur die Krankheit, verstehen Sie mich, sie fordert sie erst einmal, sie revolutioniert den Korper, sie bringt die latente Krankheit zum Ausbruch, und so ein Ausbruch, nichts fur ungut, ist Ihr Katarrh. [...] Sofort waren Sie wahrscheinlich beschwipst," bekraftigte der Hofrat. "Das sind die loslichen Gifte, die von den Bakterien erzeugt werden; die wirken berauschend auf das Zentralnerven-system, verstehen Sie, und dann kriegt man heitere Backchen." (255-56)

The incorporation of the air harms and heals; it is both therapeutic and toxic, remedial and poisonous. It sobers and inebriates, and its effect throughout the novel exhibits what Ronell has described as "the ambivalent structure of stimulant/depressant"(5)--it stimulates Castorp to intellectual, erotic, and aesthetic endeavors yet prevents him from engaging in the commercially productive activities of the flatlands. And it is partly this very uncertainty of the air's effect that calls the sanatorium's practices into question. It problematizes the idea of a simple opposition of symptom and cause by complicating the origin of toxicity (Gift), a concept that is both a critical factor in diagnoses at the sanatorium, where patients' bodies are regulated largely in relation to it, and a notoriously loose signifier in the novel, as toxicity seems to be diagnosed largely arbitrarily. The scientific articulation of toxicity thus becomes inseparable from the indeterminacies of intoxication--if the air itself is intoxicating, then the sanatorium's diagnoses are always in some sense under the influence.

Joachim Ziemssen, the cousin whom Castorp had initially come to visit at the sanatorium, recounts a lecture by Dr. Krokowski, the institution's psychiatrist, in which Krokowski had analyzed the peculiar phenomenon of a
   Selbstvergiftung des Organismus [...], dass ein noch unbekannter,
   im Korper verbreiteter Stoff Zersetzung erfahre; und die Produkte
   dieser Zersetzung wirkten berauschend auf gewisse
   Ruckenmarkszentren ein, nicht anders, als wie es sich bei der
   gewohnheitsmassigen Einfuhrung von fremden Giftstoffen, Morphin
   oder Kokain, verhalte. (263).

Natural (internal) processes, according to Krokowski, are practically indistinguishable from those induced by artificial (external) means, and toxicity is problematic insofar as it is located internally--a notion evident not only in Dr. Krokowski's theory. Behrens himself identifies "alten Stellen" (274) in Castorp's lungs, the result of an early sickness that Castorp cannot recall--illness was something already on the scene. The relation between a latent toxicity and the intoxicating air links medical diagnoses at the sanitorium to the aporia of interiority and exteriority: toxicity in Mann's novel calls into question precisely the distinction that Derrida argued is itself the "matrix of all possible opposition" in Western metaphysical thought ("Plato's Pharmacy" 103).

No figure in the novel so clearly embodies intoxication as the Dutchman, Mynheer Peeperkorn. Peeperkorn's advocacy of intoxication is a considerable part of his contribution to Castorp's "education," and in spite of his broken, unintelligible sentences and general incoherence, he communicates more effectively than either of his sober counterparts, Settembrini and Naphta. Peeperkorn's role as a Dionysus-Christ figure has been a commonplace in criticism on the novel, and yet for all his mythical resonances, Peeperkorn maintains his materiality throughout. His body, drunken and massive, is frequently described in detail--at one point, he is carried to bed by Hans and Clawdia, his enormous, drunken mass draped over the two of them, after a night of extreme inebriation. Like Falstaff, his corporeal dimensions are commensurate with his advocacy of sensual excess. And those excesses come under medical scrutiny: Dr. Behrens attributes Peeperkorn's illness partly to alcohol abuse (760), and, fittingly, it is Behrens, the chief medical authority, whose approach threatens to disperse Peeperkorn's bacchanal by curbing its excess.

Yet alcohol is far from the only intoxicant in the Mynheer Peeperkorn episodes: mood-altering substances of all sorts are evoked, particularly in relation to colonial dynamics. Peeperkorn is introduced in the narrative as "ein Kolonial-Hollander, ein Mann von Java, ein Kaffeepflanzer" (758), who is also a participant in the commercial shipping of coffee, a substance whose narcotic, mood-altering effects are apparent in the text. Dr. Behrens is a coffee drinker, yet coffee, we are told, has the capacity to induce melancholy in him as well. The coffee magnate Peeperkorn drinks the beverage in abundance, strongly brewed, presumably for the stimulating effect, complementing somehow his omnipresent wine. And his attention turns to other drugs as well. In a conversation with Castorp, he claims, "Ich habe Personen gekannt, Manner und Frauen, Kokainesser, Haschischraucher, Morphinisten--Gut, lieber Freund! Perfekt! Mogen sie doch! Wir sollen nicht rechten und richten" (781). At the time of the novel, the leading cash crop of the Dutch colonial project in Java, alongside coffee, was the coca leaf, which the German pharmaceutical company Merck was processing and selling as cocaine. (9) If the massive wealth Peeperkorn acquired through the colonial enterprise of shipping coffee is any indicator, his appetite for profit may be as great as his thirst for wine, and his comparatively lenient attitudes toward drug consumption may not reflect his mythologized Dionysian excess so much as his sympathy for the activities of other colonial entrepreneurs. In fact, the biggest delivery of coca leaves from Java at that time (nearly 100 tons) was purchased in Hamburg (Karch 76), a key port for Dutch colonial enterprise and Hans Castorp's hometown, and was conveyed no doubt by ships very much like the ones that the reader of Ocean Steamships was soon to begin producing himself. (10)

The Peeperkorn episodes conjoin drugs and colonial practices at other points as well. After a night of intense drunken revelry, Castorp, who himself had "starke Kopfschmerzen" (798) on the subsequent morning, comes to visit the Dutchman, who is in poor shape as well: '"Wir haben es gestern arg--', sagte er. Nein, erlauben Sie,--schlimm und arg!" (799). Peeperkorn then suggests it best "da wieder anzuschliessen, wo man nachts zuvor aufgehort hat" (800) and proceeds to offer Castorp a glass of sparkling wine, which sits on his nightstand "neben Medizinglasern" (800). The alcoholic drink, here both poison and remedy, prompts Peeperkorn to deliver his sole lucid exposition. It is on the topic of pharmacology. On his nightstand is a bottle of quinine, whose therapeutic effects he praises. Not only does it kill germs and regulate body temperature but it also enhances appetite and produces intoxication: "ein echter Labetrank, ein herrliches Starkungs-, Erweckungsund Belebungsmittel,--ein Rauschmittel ubrigens ebenfalls; man konne sich leicht einen kleinen Spitz oder Zopf daran trinken" (800). Quinine is, ironically, an intoxicating medicine, and Castorp, articulating the uncanniness of the force of the pharmakon, notes feeling "fast unheimlich" upon hearing about such "dynamischen Drogen und asiatischen Giftbaume" (811).

Quinine was also a major Dutch colonial export from Java, (11) where Peeperkorn made his fortune, and his discussion of quinine shows how the drug and its effects are appropriated by colonial discourse. Made from China bark, quinine, according to Peeperkorn, is something that "die Pharmakologie unseres Erdteils" had not yet mastered:
   Es kunstlich herzustellen, konnte die Chemie nicht behaupten.
   Unsere Arzneimittelkunde tat uberall gut, sich ihres Wissens nicht
   lasterlich zu uberheben, denn wie mit dem Chinin erging es ihr mit
   so manchem: Sie wusste dies und das von der Dynamik, den Wirkungen
   der Stoffe, allein die Frage, worauf denn diese Wirkungen
   genaugenommen zuruckzufuhren seien, setzte sie oft genug in
   Verlegenheit. (801)

Peeperkorn's explanation reveals a certain tension at the heart of Western colonial epistemology and, more broadly speaking, of scientific knowledge: real knowledge is evidenced through artificial reproduction, whereas certainty is demonstrated through the mimicry of repetition. Drugs become a crucial point of intersection in the novel's portrayal of the ambivalent relation between real and artificial modes of knowledge and experience, and Peeperkorn articulates with conspicuous clarity the elusiveness of quinine in that regard. As he claims, the Eastern substance exceeds western theorizations of it--a pharmakon in excess of attempts to comprehend it, quinine remains beyond the ambit of the physical sciences. He proceeds to claim that "Heilmittelkunde und Toxikologie seien ein und dasselbe, an Giften genese man, und was fur des Lebens Trager gelte, tote unter Umstanden mit einem einzigen Krampfschlage in Sekundenfrist" (801). For Peeperkorn, the apparently simple polarity of medicine and poison is anything but simple--the study of the toxic is also the study of the pharmakon. Determinations of toxicity necessitate determinations of health, but it is the very concept of health itself that comes under scrutiny throughout the novel. Peeperkorn's waning health seems symptomatologically connected to his excess of life, and it is largely his increasing incapacity for the intensities of life that prompts him to commit suicide--an act he accomplishes by poison.

The Peeperkorn episode sets intoxicants in relation to Western culture, and that relation is, in fact, a recurring concern in the novel. Castorp at one point mollifies Peeperkorn by noting that "Gesittung gar nicht Sache des Verstandes und wohl-artikulierter Nuchternheit ist, sondern vielmehr mit der Begeisterung zu tun hat, dem Rausch und dem gelabten Gefuhl" (787). The Dutchman approves of this sentiment connecting civilization and inebriation--a sentiment that stands in stark contrast to the philosophy of Peeperkorn's sober counterpart. Settembrini is the Italian man of letters who undertakes to educate Castorp, repeatedly urging him to leave the sanatorium in order to return to the world of progress and industrious labor. Championing liberal values of freedom, scholarly enterprise, and capitalism over proletarian revolution, Settembrini aligns himself with Western notions of development, expansion, growth, and linear progress, all of which contrast with the repetitive structure and lack of productivity that characterize life at the sanatorium. Throughout the novel, he is noted for his sobriety and for his sobering influence on Castorp (83, 336), often warning him against narcotic substances, including music and sanatorium life. From the sober perspective of Settembrini, time spent at the sanatorium is time not invested in promoting Western notions of progress, industry, and enterprise--in other words, time wasted. Intent on curbing irony, Settembrini is an upholder of Platonic values insofar as he insists that things not slip into their opposites, and life at the sanatorium for Settembrini is a dangerous supplement that he repeatedly warns Castorp to avoid.

If the novel's conclusion on the battlefields of the Great War ironically undermines Settembrini's notion of progress, it is important to add that the presence of intoxication is evident there as well. Called back to serve in the war, Castorp is shown dodging bombs on the battlefield and singing Schubert's "Der Lindenbaum." Even the ode tempts him with its promises of peace and quiescence: standing serenely at the town gate, the Lindenbaum offers relief (Linderung) to the weary traveler and beckons him with a Siren-like call ("und sei-ne Zweige rau-uschten, als riefen sie zu mir" [993]). The novel thus concludes with a final lure of Rausch, in the verb rauschen--a word always powerfully charged in Mann's work, and whose ambivalent narcotic effect is nowhere more apparent. Here, the sobriety of the flatlands and of the rational progress that Settembrini had championed slip into their opposites, and Castorp again yields to the lures of intoxication. His face flushed (993), a recurring marker in the novel of his inebriety, he exhibits one last time his proclivity for narcosis: singing "bewusstlos," he numbs himself to the horror of war, his inclination to reverie now being appropriated to very different ends. If Mann's novel conceptualizes the sanatorium as offering an intoxicating sobriety--the magical effects of a hygienic atmosphere--it complicates this ambiguity yet further by illustrating the sobering intoxication of warfare that erupts on the flatlands, and the necessity of a narcotic in order to endure its inhuman horror.

The slipperiness of intoxication in Manns novel is evident in the practices of the sanatorium's medicine men as well. It is not only psychiatry that is satirized and critiqued but also the rigorously physiological fields of medicine that seek to fix and determine patients' bodies through quantitative procedures, fields that Dr. Behrens, the institution's medical authority, represents. Settembrini notes a "Reli-giositat" and "Unterwurfigkeit" (135) vis-a-vis the regulations of the sanatorium's medical authorities--particularly those regulations that coincide with the institution's profit incentives--although Behrens explicitly denies his ability to work miracles. Analyzing Joachim's temperature measurements, he notes the following: '"Nicht entgiftet, nicht entgiftet', sagte er. 'Na, das geht naturlich nicht so von heute auf morgen, hexen konnen wir auch nicht'" (249). Indeed, the rhetoric of the toxic (Gift), of "toxicity" and "detoxifying" (Vergiftung!Entgiftung), is crucial to the diagnoses and procedures of the sanatorium's medical authorities. Bodies are monitored by such diagnoses, and it seems the body is liable to toxicity in much the same way that in previous eras it was liable to sin. Mann's novel positions the healthy and the holy on a certain continuum. What health shares with holiness is a purified ideal, an ideal the body always falls short of, and if Behrens denies any association with witches and miracles, it is not simply because his own practice has nothing to do with them but rather because the practice of medical science and the reverence accorded to medical authorities occupy a place in modernity that in previous eras had been reserved for religious institutions, figures, and hierarchies. Toxicity in Mann's novel becomes largely a placeholder for the human body's resistance to the coercive force of medical discourses, that element that eludes--or is in excess of--conceptual and medical determinations while simultaneously being the site of the body's subjection to those same forces of coercion.

At a certain point in the text, Behrens, commenting on Castorp's fever, credits him with a certain talent--"Sind eben doch vergifteter, als man Ihnen zutrauen sollte, Freundchen" (487)--and proceeds to administer an antitoxin ("Gegengift" 488) via syringe, the initial effect of which is the heightening of Castorp's temperature (i.e., a sharpening of the symptom which occasioned its administration). Dr. Behrens, himself no sorcerer, wields the antitoxin, pitting pharmakon against pharmakon. The puncture that he makes with the needle into Castorp's flesh receives narrative attention as well: it is performed indiscriminately yet with virtuosic technique (although his indifference to the insertion point ends up causing pain). Through being punctured by a syringe (itself a marker of modernity) in the name of "toxicity," the body is rendered capable of incorporating an exterior "other" in new and unexpected ways, an incorporation that attests both to the polymorphous capacity of the body to open onto the exterior world and to its intense vulnerability to the intrusions made possible by modern implements.

These depictions and discursive appropriations of intoxicants and states of toxicity constitute an important facet of the novel's historicity. The techno-modernity of Der Zauberberg is one in which drugs and drug effects, through their material and commercial routes as well as through their rhetorical configurations, play a considerable role. In fact, there are even some instances in which intoxication transcends the level of representation and incorporates itself into the work's narrative structure. As critics have been mentioning ever since the novel's initial release, time is experienced differently at the sanatorium: it is more circular and repetitive, paradoxically both looser and more compressed than the linear and progressive time that governs the world of capitalist productivity, the time for which Hans Castorp, the novel's protagonist, was destined. The opening chapter describes Castorp's ascent to the sanatorium and establishes the work's spatial-temporal coordinates as follows: "Zeit, sagt man, ist Lethe; aber auch Fernluft ist so ein Trank, und sollte sie weniger grundlich wirken, so tut sie es dafur desto rascher" (12). Temporal experience on the mountain is figured in terms of a narcotic draft, and this drinking in of inspiration--an invocation of a pharmacological muse--establishes an important background. The incorporation of a foreign substance, the taking in of the air "up there," is in fact omnipresent, a process constantly taking place. The otherness of the air and the otherness of experience at the sanatorium are mutually implicated throughout the text, (12) and if this initial act of incorporation serves to situate the novel's temporality in terms of a narcotic draft, it is perhaps significant to note as well that the governing spatial trope of the novel is that of being high. (13)

The expansions and contractions of narrative time take place against the background of this initial inebriating draft, and during its numerous moments of self-reflection, the narrative draws attention to its narcotic quality. Opium is evoked at two explicitly self-reflective moments in the text, moments of narrative parabasis that conjoin narcotic and reflective states once again. In a chapter titled "Strandspaziergang,"Mann's narrator notes that narrative is different from music in that, in narrative, it is possible for time to function as a medium and a theme simultaneously. The narrator can greatly compress experienced time, letting years lapse in a few pages, a process he refers to as "Verkurzung," an "illusionares oder, ganz deutlich zu sprechen, ein krankhaftes Element" (749). We are told,
   Man besitzt Aufzeichnungen von Opiumrauchern, die bekunden, dass der
   Betaubte wahrend der kurzen Zeit seiner Entruckung Traume
   durchlebte, deren zeitlicher Umfang sich auf zehn, auf dreissig und
   selbst auf sechzig Jahre belief oder sogar die Grenze aller
   menschlichen Zeiterfahrungsmoglichkeit zuruckliess,--Traume also,
   deren imaginarer Zeitraum ihre eigene Dauer um ein Gewaltiges
   uberstieg und in denen eine unglaubliche Verkurzung des
   Zeiterlebnisses herrschte, die Vorstellungen sich mit solcher
   Geschwindigkeit drangten, als ware, wie ein Haschischesscr sich
   ausdruckt, aus dem Hirn des Berauschten "etwas hinweggenommen
   gewesen wie die Feder einer verdorbenen Uhr". Ahnlich also wie
   diese Lastertraume vermag die Erzahlung mit der Zeit zu Werke zu
   gehen, ahnlich vermag sie sie zu behandeln. Da sie sie aber
   "behandeln" kann, so ist klar, dass die Zeit, die das Element der
   Erzahlung ist, auch zu ihrem Gegenstande werden kann; und wenn es
   zuviel gesagt ware, man konne "die Zeit erzahlen", so ist doch, von
   der Zeit erzahlen zu wollen, offenbar kein ganz so absurdes
   Beginnen, wie es uns anfangs scheinen wollte,--so dass denn also
   dem Namen des "Zeitromans" ein eigentlich traumerischer Doppelsinn
   zukommen konnte. (749-50)

The narrator soberly rejects drug-induced experience. (14) And yet the opium eater's reverie resonates strongly with what Mann himself referred to as the "hermetic enchantment" of his protagonist ("The Making" 723). The "eigentlich traumerischer Doppelsinn" that comes through making temporality the subject of narration, through explicitly thematizing time, is the task of both the narrator of Mann's novel and the narrator of the opium diary--both reflect upon the dreamer's dream, the intoxicated vision. Both narrative time and the opiated experience of time are uncanny representations of time, supplementary to authentic modes of temporality, and it is this similarity precisely that the narrator addresses here, at the exact moment when the structuring principle of narrative, time, becomes the content of its narration. Mann's narrator evokes opium writings such as De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, or Baudelaire's Les Paradis artificiels, which sought to articulate a poetic phenomenology of intoxications.

In explicitly rejecting any associations with the effects of opium, the narrator raises the question of the narcotic quality of the mountain's magic. We know that reverie is not an uncommon state for Castorp. He is inclined to dreams, which occur throughout the novel. One of these, in part aided by the befuddlement of alcohol, produces a vision of some insight in "Schnee," a chapter that has received tremendous critical attention. In many ways, life at the sanatorium is an artificial paradise, and in spite of the narrator's ostensible rejection of opium intoxication, the expansions and contractions of time, the altered states of body and cognition, and the manifold alterations of perceptions and moods that figure so prominently in Mann's novel are among the hallmarks of writers who reflect on the imaginative spaces afforded by drug effects, writers such as De Quincey, Baudelaire, Coleridge, Poe, and Benjamin. If time is, as the narrator claims, both the element of narrative and of life (748), then literature and intoxication share a capacity to produce a warp in the temporal texture of experience. Ronell notes that "the horizon of drugs is the same as that of literature" (78), and Mann's novel, in its stretching of time and space and in its incorporation of various drugs, situates itself squarely on that horizon.

At another point, the narrator overtly expresses some degree of anxiety about the oneiric quality of the narrative, conspicuously repeating a concern with narcotics:
   Schon Jahre, soviel ist sicher, sind wir hier oben, uns schwindelt,
   das ist ein Lastertraum ohne Opium und Haschisch, der Sittenrichter
   wird uns verurteilen,--und doch stellen wir der schlimmen
   Umnebelung absichtlich viel Verstandeshelligkeit und logische
   Scharfe entgegen! Nicht zufallig, das moge anerkannt werden, haben
   wir uns Kopfe wie die Herren Naphta und Settembrini zum Umgang
   erwahlt, statt uns etwa gar mit lauter undeutlichen Peeperkorns zu
   umgeben. (796)

Here, the narrator notes how the text itself mimics the effects of eastern drugs and (however ironically) expresses his anxiety over the judgment of the law, over the narrative being regarded as foreign substance: it is only the presence of Castorp's allegedly rational interlocutors that sobers the text up, yet the irony of that sobriety is considerable given that Naphta and Settembrini's discussions are themselves no clearer than Peeperkorn's inebriate incoherence. The artifice of the narrative denies any contamination by the artifice of drugs, yet in so doing ironically incorporates drug-induced experience into its narrative framework.

Addiction is not a topic that is particularly common in the scholarship on Mann's work, but readers of Der Tod in Venedig are already intuitively familiar with how Mann writes addictive structures. Aschenbach becomes mortally addicted to a foreign substance, Tadzio, and, unable to break the habit, he is eventually destroyed by it. Scholarship has often noted a close relation between Der Tod in Venedig and Der Zauberberg but has failed to notice how strongly evocative of addiction both texts are. It is not only in Peeperkorn's alcohol consumption that addiction is conspicuous. Castorp himself arrives at the sanatorium already with an inclination for addictive substances, most notably his much-beloved Maria Mancini cigars, which he admits to having smuggled in (23). In one scene, he flaunts his exuberance for cigars in front of his non-smoking cousin Joachim, declaring, "Ich verstehe es nicht, wie jemand nicht rauchen kann" (71), whereupon Joachim, who holds the habit for deplorable, replies, "Immerhin ist es etwas schlapp [...], dass du so daran hangst" (72). It is not clear whether the cigars are "Reiz--oder Betaubungsmittel" (352); yet Castorp comes up to the sanatorium with a supply of them and, upon his decision to prolong his stay, sends for more. And, of course, the sanatorium is equally addictive. After weathering the initial intoxication and stupefying effects induced by his arrival at the sanatorium, Castorp becomes rapidly accustomed to his accommodations and repeatedly extends his stay, as if increasing the dose.

The repetitive structures of addiction are in fact inscribed in the sanatorium's daily activities and inform the novel's exploration of temporal experience. Daily life is structured around habitual and ceremonial practices, including the ritual of temperature taking and the strict scheduling of meals, rest-cures, examinations, and so forth. Indeed, the habitual character of life at Davos-Platz becomes itself a habit that Castorp cannot break--much like Aschenbach, Castorp is hooked. In a novel that so explicitly thematizes time and repetition, the rhythms of addictions, the periodic administration of doses--of examinations, meals, and temperature takings--becomes yet another layer of temporal experience. These ceremonial and ritual practices serve, in part, to break up, or punctuate, what would otherwise be an infinite expanse of time. Insofar as one can identify a narrative progression in the novel, it is partly that of the acquisition of an addiction, as the initial effects of intoxication yield to the point of transparency through habituation. Clearly, the health facility offers a narcotic lure--it is a dangerous supplement with the potential to have the same addictive effect that opium had for De Quincey, or that the lotus had for Odysseus's men.

Nor is the sanatorium without its pushers, its narco-profiteers; the institution profits considerably, we are told, from its patients. (15) The "consumption" featured at Davos-Platz is not simply that of intoxicants, nor of tuberculosis, but of wealth as well. Thomas Sprecher has argued for the particular resonance of Schwindel throughout Mann's novel, noting, "Der Schwindel bewirkt ahnlich Wahrnehmungserlebnisse wie Intoxikationen, etwa Alkohol" ("Der Grosse Schwindel" 87). And yet if Schwindeiis a part of intoxication, as Sprecher suggests, it seems that intoxication itself is caught up in a swindle. While the line between tuberculosis (Schwindsucht) and addiction (Sucht) figures prominently in any attempt to understand the novel's discourse on health, it is impossible to draw it clearly. One is always left in some doubt regarding the extent to which the sanatorium's diagnoses of toxicity are perpetrated for financial gain by the medical authorities, the dealers of the magic mountain's narcotics, and, thus, to what extent tuberculosis (Schwindsucht) becomes an addiction swindle--a Suchtschwindel.

In its commercial, medical, technological, and aesthetic formulations, intoxication proves to be a curious site of repetition in Mann's novel, a compulsive point of recurrence. Throughout Der Zauberberg, intoxication is not set in simple antithesis to sobriety but, rather, is something that seems to permeate all attempts to understand it, a lurking presence that emerges even in the text's most sober moments. Like any pharmakon, intoxication insinuates itself into the text in a way that permits no absolute determinations--instead, intoxication, narcosis, and sobriety intermingle and overlap, exhibiting a porous logic that tugs at the boundaries of their social, political, and historical significances. And yet few texts seem to illustrate as adroitly and intricately the stakes of the ambiguities of drugs and drug effects--their historical and material inflections, their phenomenological effects, their discursive appropriations, and their addictive potentials. As Walter Benjamin has noted, the dialectics of intoxication are peculiar indeed--and perhaps nowhere more so than in Mann's novel.

Jason Ciaccio

Hunter College


(1) In his speech accepting the Goethe prize, Mann notes his own " vielberufene Niichternheif (481) and how foreign intoxication is to him. That Mann was at pains to cultivate a bourgeois facade, cf. Dowden--his professions of sobriety, I would suggest, are a part of that effort.

(2) On the relation between Mann's political views and the novel, as well as its reception, cf. Ridley.

(3) On the prolific production and use of drugs in Germany cf. Gootenberg and Stephens; on the historicity of the addict, cf. Ronell. Drugs and their effects were undergoing considerable transformation during the first decades of the twentieth century, many drugs coming for the first time under legal control throughout Europe. Berridge has argued for the particular importance of this period in establishing international drug policies in the West. An article in the Treaty of Versailles initiated the legal control of cocaine and opium in Germany in 1920, making valid the decrees of The Hague's 1912 International Opium Convention. The increased public awareness of intoxicants was a characteristic of the twentieth century's first decades.

(4) In his biography of Mann, Kurzke notes in passing the narrator's familiarity with opium dreams (240). The only scholar who seems to have addressed the topic of drug-induced experience in the novel is Cohn, whose argument I will address further on. Symington's "Reader's Guide" has more recently reiterated Cohn's argument, suggesting a persistent scholarly oversight in failing to connect the novel's narcotic asides to the broader thematic concerns of drugs and intoxication throughout the novel. The most recent edition of Thomas-Mann-Studien devoted to Der Zauberberg (ed. Koopmann and Sprecher) features a collection of essays presented at the 2012 Davoser Literaturtage. Yet despite the interdisciplinary nature of the effort, which examines neighboring concepts like dreaming and medicine, intoxication and drugs receive no sustained attention. Sprecher makes a fruitful suggestion, noting intoxication as among the resonances of Schwindel in the text: "Daher darf man ihn [den Schwindel] als eine weitere Form in den Katalog der Intoxikationen bei Thomas Mann" aufnehmen" ("Der Grosse Schwindel" 87). It will be my purpose here in part to sketch out that catalogue, at least as it appears in Der Zauberberg.

(5) In doing so, I implicitly oppose Bloom, who finds the novel historically outdated and nearly quaint; rather, I find the work particularly ripe for a contemporary perspective-one that may only now be growing accustomed to deeming intoxications, drugs, and their various effects to be legitimate concerns for literary scholarship.

(6) For a recent effort to explore the relation between deconstructive thought and Mann's work, cf. Honold and Werber's collection of essays Deconstructing Thomas Mann (2012). In looking to decouple Mann criticism from the deference to authorial intention and biography that has so heavily informed it, they offer a set of essays that brings Mann's work into contact with deconstructive thought. The present work proceeds in a similar spirit, exploring a text and topic that is particularly fruitful ground for such a conjunction.

(7) Sprecher ("Kur-, Kultur- und Kapitalismuskritik im 'Zauberberg'") offers perhaps the most thorough--and skeptical--account of the sanatorium's business practices.

(8) Bcddow notes attitudes toward British industry as particularly strong in Castorp's native town, Hamburg, which sought to emulate and compete with its British rival. The English book he carries with him upon first arriving, Ocean Steamships, is but one indicator of this--the porter, I suggest, is another.

(9) Karch notes the how closely intertwined coffee production and coca production were among Dutch colonialists, who, even when confronted with the economic potential of coca plants, questioned whether promoting "another dangerous stimulant" (72) was in the best interests of maintaining an obedient colonial population. Cf. also Stephens.

(10) Hamburg was, in fact, Europe's main trade center for coca, importing heavily from Java and Peru in the first decades of the twentieth century (cf. Gootenberg), and was itself a haven for drug activity. Stephens, citing the increase of addicts in German hospitals and asylums in the first decades of the twentieth century notes "a substantial increase in drug consumption [...] in Germany before the First World War" (14). He continues, "The effects of the illicit trade of morphine and cocaine by the mid-1920's had set off a panic" (15). This increasing awareness of drugs, I suggest, constitutes an important context in which to understand Mann's novel.

(11) Cf. Karch.

(12) Gosetti-Ferencei has recently understood the novel's geography in terms of the numerous ways the text inscribes the exotic and familiar as well as the implications of these inscriptions for Western notions of selfhood and autonomy--this distinction clearly has consequences for understanding the role of intoxication in the novel as well.

(13) Mann, discussing "heightening" as a "fundamental theme" of the novel ("The Making" 723), notes, "[Castorp's] story is the story of a heightening process, but also as a narrative it is the heightening process itself. It employs the methods of the realistic novel but actually is not one" (724).

(14) Cohn is apparently the first to pay attention to this conjunction of narcotic invocation and metanarrative reflection; she claims that the reference to the diaries of opium eaters provides a "faulty simile" (214) since the feeling of the expansion of time found in such works is the opposite of Castorp's experience of time's contraction. I find this a reductive dichotomization of Mann's rich exploration of temporal experience, in which the expansion and contraction of time are never considered mutually exclusive. Thus, instead of taking the narrator's exclusion of the opium reverie at face value, I focus on the incorporation of that reverie into the text.

(15) On the highly questionable practices of the medical authorities throughout the novel, cf. Sprecher; on Bakterienrausch and an empirical and critical study of its importance to the novel's representation of tuberculosis, cf. Max.

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Author:Ciaccio, Jason
Publication:The German Quarterly
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Jun 22, 2017
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