Stapelia Mixta

Stapelia Mixta

Dr. Mises

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Translated, with an introduction, by Erik Butler / October 2024 / 5.375 x 8, 152 pp. /

“Our whole culture is the product of gastric activity. The stomach is an egg from which all the arts and sciences are hatched.”

The original 1824 German publication of Stapelia Mixta gathered together a bevy of eccentric proposals, meditations, and displays of consciously excessive learning that strove for what can only be regarded as an unusual clarity of absurdity, which was the hallmark of the pseudonymous author, Dr. Mises. Aiming for a broader reading audience, it came to them under the title of a flower, but a flower of such a stench as to guarantee originality in its adoption.

And such was the originality of these semi-serious flights of excess that came under the cover of Dr. Mises, himself a cover for Gustav Theodor Fechner, founder of psychophysics, who wrote on everything from landscaping to the spiritual lives of plants and heavenly bodies while also conducting pioneering research in optics and experimental psychology. He eventually succumbed to a nervous breakdown from the strain of constant work, half-insane from stress and half-blind from his experiments.

The sixteen essays of this collection include discussions of dancing, food, drugs, ancient Greece; the soul and immortality, perception and psychology, the differences and similarities between art, science, and religion, and more. These increasingly inventive essays start with a relatively digestible “Encomium of the Belly” and “The World Upside-Down” before developing into a complicated, pre-pataphysical exploration of Spatial Symbolism.

Dr. Mises was the penname of Gustav Theodor Fechner (1801–1887), an alter ego he adopted for his more speculative and satiric writing and an outlet for the more troubled element of his thought where he found himself at odds with both himself and the world. While Fechner is remembered as an experimental psychologist, pioneer in experimental psychology, founder of psychophysics, and inspiration for Sigmund Freud and William James, Dr. Mises was more the precursor of Diogenes Teufelsdröckh and Dr. Faustroll: a creature of learning run rampant, ready to entertain any counterargument.
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