Tuesday, 14 February 2017

factitious disorder

I spotted this poster that’s very much in the standard, pitched format of a German campaign poster that looked more than a little out of place—not so much for the candidate but that it seemed rather uncontested as no posters of an opposing party were to be seen. Even in election years, there are rather strict protocols to be followed that spare the voting public from campaign creep and banners can’t go up earlier than an established date a few weeks prior to the vote and there are equally well-enforced strictures on reporting and speculation.
Upon closer inspection, I recognised that this was a bit of clever satire on the part of the state culture office, throwing its support behind one Hieronymus Karl Friedrich, Freiherr von Münchausen who’s life inspired the fictional nobleman’s narrative of his marvellous travels and campaigns in Russia. Having actually served in the Russo-Turkish conflict of 1735, the baron had endless war-stories to tell and embellish, putting to shame fellow-aristocrats who didn’t serve, becoming somewhat of a reputation as a teller of tall-tales and braggart—pathologically, a syndrome is named after him as well. Fearful of being sued for libel, the author of the novel, Rudolf Erich Rapse, published his novel under a pseudonym, in a different language and deferred ownership until after his own death—the Baron having already demonstrated his wrath to quell the idle chatter around his second marriage to a woman fifty-seven years his junior—later to sue her for divorce for bearing a child he was not convinced was his. The character Münchausen enjoined in much more fantastic flights, including riding a cannon ball into battle and travelling to the Moon to live among the Selenites and Sirius, the Dog Star, battles a giant crocodile (twelve metres) and survives being swallowed by a fish, and tends to get very agitated when anyone finds his exploits incredulous.