Paralyse is the German title of a novel that Gustav Sack conceived and started in 1913 but never had the chance to finish. The novel was to revolve around the delirious ideas and fantasies of a poet/philosopher who, like Sack’s inspiration Friedrich Nietzsche, suffers from dementia paralytica in the final stages of syphilis. In a letter to his fiancee Paula Harbeck Sack explains that the main character of his novel will be “physically completely miserable, incapable to recollect or think logically, while lapsing into the wildest, most fantastic yet optimistic delusions; a glowing embrace of life and at the same time helpless as a child”. Sack’s poem ‘Paralyse’ was written in the same period as the novel (1913-14) and was either meant to be included in it or sprang from the same underlying concept, in which syphilitic deliria serve to fuse contrasting ideas in a sublime nihilistic fire.
The first English translation of this poem has now been published as a Sea Urchin chapbook. Paralysis appears in a limited edition of 15 hand made copies. Translation and artwork: Ben Schot.