Aujourd’hui comme aux temps le Pline et de Columelle la jacinthe se plaît dans les Gaules, a pervenche en Illyrie, la marguerite sur les ruines de Numance (1) et pendant qu’autour d’elles les villes ont changé de maîtres et de noms, que plusieurs sont entrées dans le néant, que les civilisations se sont choquées et brisées, leurs paisibles générations ont traversé les ages et sont arrivées jusqu’à nous, fraîches et riantes comme aux jours des batailles. (2)
[Two Don Johns Threes Totty Askins.
Also Spuke Zerothruster.]
[THE PART PLAYED BY BELLETRISTICKS IN THE BELLUM-PAX-BELLUM. MUTUOMORPHOMUTATION]
(1). The nasal foss of our natal folkfarthers so so much now for Valsinggiddyrex and his grand arks day triump.
(2). Translout that gaswind into turfish, Teague, that’s a good bog and you, Thady, poliss it off, there’s nateswipe, on to your blottom pulper.
- James Joyce, (1882–1941), ‘Finnegans Wake’
In this passage from the ‘Night Lessons’ episode of ‘Finnegans Wake’ the theme turns towards history as French historian Edgar Quinet, (1803–1875), speaks in his own words upon how flowers endure while cities rise and fall; a crystal-clear statement ending on batailles, picking up on one of the central themes of the novel, the brothers Shem and Shaun and their battles with each other; perhaps their sister Issy is the flowers in this Oedipal drama of childhood, of the origins of jealousy, of the beginnings of the fall into corruption; Shaun seems to understand it as such in his note about ‘BELLETRISTICKS’, of or pertaining to belles-lettres, graceful or refined literature or literary studies; a somewhat imprecisely used term, formerly taken sometimes in an extended sense of the humanities, sometimes in a precisely used sense in which we now use literature; this latter usage has come down to the present time, but it is now generally applied, if it is used at all, to the lighter branches of literature , or to the aesthetics of literary study.
And on the subjects of literary style and of history, naturally enough Friedrich Nietzche, (1844–1900), makes his appearance here; ‘Also Spuke Zerothruster’ is of course ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’.
Nietzsche, distinctive philosopher of style and of multiple perspectives, once said of himself, with characteristic self-effacement: ‘I have many stylistic possibilities — the most multifarious art of style that has ever been at the disposal of one man’. Joyce, however, given his fluency in a wide range of styles, leaves Nietzsche standing as far as that goes; his writing could most appositely be described as ‘the most multifarious art of style’. As it happens, while working upon ‘Ulysses’ Joyce uttered a comparable gasconade when he characterised his undertaking as that ‘of writing a book from eighteen different points of view and in as many styles, all apparently unknown or undiscovered by my fellow tradesmen’. Nietzsche asserted that ‘the more eyes, different eyes we learn to set upon the same object, the more complete will be our ‘concept’ of this thing, the more ‘objective’’; and it is in ‘Finnegans Wake’ that Joyce with much elegance and polish broadens the stylistic possibilities of representing multiple individual perspectives; one might say of it that it is a post-Babelian text the stylistic pluralization of which extends across multiple languages.
And on the subject of history, Nietzsche was of the opinion that philosophy needed to be historicized; he arrived at the belief that values, be they moral, political, aesthetic, nay, even metaphysical, were a function of drives which were themselves subconsciously conditioned throughout a long historical process; and the old religious and Platonic beliefs in good and evil as fixed metaphysical entities were to be supplanted by a naturalistic and developmental account about how values of the present day derive from an intricately involved process of practical considerations and of frequently self-centred preoccupations. Nietzsche observed the historical instilling of moral sentiments to be a reflection of group endeavours to instantiate objectives of power. And yet Nietzsche opposed Georg Willhelm Friedrich Hegel, (1770–1831), and his construction of a philosophy of history that viewed the history of civilization as both the expansion of human freedom and the development of greater self-consciousness regarding the nature and meaning of history; that is to say, despite his rejection of nomothetic schemata that purport to explain historical change, Nietzsche was very much as historically concerned as those of a teleological persuasion; and indeed asserted that: ‘philosophy, or that alone which I count it to be, [is] the most general form of history, the attempt to somehow describe and abbreviate in signs the Heraclitean world of becoming’.
And so Nietzsche held to the conviction that philosophy must be historical, while at the same time understanding that writing philosophy historically is an endeavour beset with problems; for any attempt to describe or explain a historical event in effect adds up to an illegitimate extraction from out of a proper context, an endeavour to fasten down that which cannot be fastened down with purportedly fixed concepts: ‘At last my mistrust now turns to the question whether history is actually possible? What, then does one want to ascertain? — something, which in a moment of happening, does not itself ‘stand fast’?’ And of course invoking Heraclitus, (c. 535 — c. 475 BCE), is never a good move in philosophy; Nietzsche renders his situation that much worse with the recognition that not only is the reality he wishes to describe in a state of flux, but the one who recognizes it as such is in a similar state of flux; ‘no man ever steps in the same river twice’ said Heraclitus, according to Plato, (428/427 or 424/423–348/347 BCE); but not only has Heraclitus’s river changed, so has the subjectivity of the one who has stepped into it.
Nietzsche’s ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ may be summarised as follows (updated by me for the sake of gender equality):
1. Life is the will to power, and he/she who would truly live must overcome the beliefs and conventions of common men/women; he/she must become an overman/overwoman (or ‘superman/superwoman’ (although overwoman sounds a better aspiration to me… well there goes my attempt at gender equality)).
2. Those who teach the Christian virtues of pity and meekness seek to corrupt man/woman, to destroy his/her will to power, and to make him/her submit to those who prosper from the conventional way.
3. Men/women who do not have the courage to live seek to escape by sleeping, by prizing the soul more than the body, and by seeking peace instead of war.
4. The overman/overwoman is virtuous when he/she frees himself/herself from the belief in God and from the hope of an afterlife; he/she is nauseated by the rabble, and his/her joy comes from surpassing those who live by false hopes and beliefs.
5. Worship of any sort is a return to childhood; if men/women must worship, let them worship donkeys if that suits them.
Of Nietzsche, literary master of the German language, it is perhaps fair to say that he was greater as a literary figure than as a philosopher; as indicated by the writers and artists that he influenced. George Bernard Shaw, (1856–1950). (‘This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy’, (‘Man and Superman)). H. L. Mencken, (1880–1956), the ‘American Nietzsche’, as he has been called. (‘The majority of men prefer delusion to truth. It soothes. It is easy to grasp. Above all, it fits more snugly than the truth into a universe of false appearances — of complex and irrational phenomena, defectively grasped’). Theodore Dreiser, (1871–1945). (‘The Irish are a philosophic as well as a practical race. Their first and strongest impulse is to make the best of a bad situation — to put a better face on evil than it normally wears’, (‘The Financier’)). Poet Robinson Jeffers, (1887–1962):
O that our souls could scale a height like this,
A mighty mountain swept o’er by the bleak
Keen winds of heaven; and, standing on that peak
Above the blinding clouds of prejudice,
Would we could see all truly as it is;
The calm eternal truth would keep us meek.
Frank Norris, (1870–1902), (‘No one to love, none to caress, Left all alone in this world’s wilderness’, (‘McTeague’)). Jack London, (1876–1916). (‘I do not live for what the world thinks of me, but for what I think of myself’).
And of course, Mark Rothko, (1903–1970), whose artistic vision endeavoured to address the modern person’s spiritual and creative mythological needs, inspired by Nietzsche’s contention that Greek tragedy supplied the Greeks with the necessary redemption from the terrors of mortal life; and so abandoning his exploration of the innovative themes of modern art as his objective instead he placed his art at the service of relieving modern people’s spiritual emptiness; an emptiness that was in part a consequence of a lack of a mythology; for, according to Nietzsche: ‘The images of the myth have to be the unnoticed omnipresent demonic guardians, under whose care the young soul grows to maturity and whose signs help the man [and woman!] to interpret his [and her!] life and struggles’. (‘The Birth of Tragedy’). Rothko’s mythomorphic abstractionism was intended to release unconscious energies that in prior times were released through mythological imagery, symbols, and rituals; mythopoeic art from an artist who declared that ‘the exhilarated tragic experience is for me the only source of art’.
But as for philosophy itself, Nietzsche was neither a systematic philosopher in the manner of Hegel, nor a thorough critical philosopher so very precise over minute details in the manner of Ernst Mach, (1838–1916), philosopher of science; he rather belongs to that tradition of philosophers who are inclined to instruct people on how to live; the author of albeit refined and exalted self-help and personal development books in fact. Nietzsche enjoins us to become individuals and to follow our own desires, even, if required, through the undoing of others; but then, he is frequently inconsistent, at times contradictory; apart from in being provocative, with that he is fairly consistent. His critiques of the institutions of the 19th century are similar to those of his contemporaries, Søren Kierkegaard, (1834–1855), and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, (1821–1881), and just like theirs they often appear to be quite applicable to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; but his positive doctrine is happily rejected by most of us; and, somewhat ironically, those that do accept it tend not to be, as Nietzsche had prophesied with such optimism, potential or actual leaders, (Adolf Hitler, (1889–1945), doesn’t count as he probably never even read Nietzsche which is especially evidenced by Nietzsche’s hostility towards anti-semitism and nationalism), but rather those dispirited souls hopelessly defeated by civilisation, modern life, by themselves even; the kind that feel the need for self-help and personal development courses, in fact; or believe a stoical philosophy to be the key to happiness and a full life. ‘From the military school of life.- That which does not kill me, makes me stronger’, is one of Nietzsche’s quotes that everyone knows, and which always puts me in mind of these lines from Shakespeare, (1564–1616):
I will be flesh and blood,
For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently,
However they have writ the style of gods
And made a push at chance and sufferance.
- ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, Act 5, Scene 1
There are three principal themes in ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’: the will to power, the consequent revaluation of values, and the doctrine of eternal recurrence; life is essentially a will to power, the feeling that one is in command of oneself and of the future; and in controlling the future, one finds that the values that most of us accept are inadequate and that one must adopt a new, in many cases opposite, set of values. But neither power nor the new set of values is desirable for its consequences; if one were to use power to accomplish some final end, one would no longer need it; if one were to realize the new values, one would no longer need them. For Nietzsche there are no final ends; power and the revaluation of values are good in themselves; and, consequently, there is no millennium, nothing but an eternal recurrence of people, of things, of problems. How these three themes are carefully developed in ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’, and Nietzsche’s manner of development which is both self-conscious and purposive, I will explore in parts two and three, but for now, in case you are wondering about the relevance of what you may see as yet another click-baity title for an article of mine, there are two principal motifs running through the work, one of which I find perplexing, incomprehensible in fact, whereas the other I not only understand but consider to be highly relevant for our times; the first concerns men/women like gods, and the second, the cold monster state.
Nietzsche wrote, in ‘The Gay Science’:
‘God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How shall we console our selves, the most murderous of all murderers? The holiest and the mightiest that the world has so far possessed, has bled to death under our knife, who will wipe the blood from us? With what water could we cleanse ourselves? What purifications, what sacred games shall we have to devise? Is not the magnitude of this deed too great for us? Shall we not ourselves have to become Gods, merely to seem worthy of it? There never was a greater event and on account of it, all who are born after us belong to a higher history than any history so far!’
The prophet Zarathustra is Nietzsche’s mouthpiece for a sequence of speeches that endeavour to justify what Peter Berkowitz (1959 — ) has termed an ethics of self-deification, a set of harsh and austere demands intended to familiarise modern individuals, in the wake of the death of God, to the possibility of becoming gods; for far too long have human beings externalized their highest values and ideals of perfection into the cosmos; now is the time for the individual to realize himself as the creator of these values, and thus capable of forging his own meaning and embodying his own justification, rather than remaining dependent on external institutions and creeds.
But this is a strange sort of ethics. Usually one attaches some kind of notion of universalizabity to that of ethics; as Immanuel Kant, (1724–1804), formulated his categorical imperative thus: the only morally acceptable maxims of our actions are those that could rationally be willed to be universal law. If something is genuinely ethically binding, it is binding upon all of us; but as the death of God has resulted in a burgeoning scepticism Nietzsche certainly did not regard everybody as being capable of a spiritual rebirth; rather, the undertaking would be left to that select few who happen to possess the knowledge and strength needed to disengage themselves from the spiritual decay of the age, and who in the struggle to realize heroic objectives can discover the meaning, gratification, fulfilment, and the capability to affirm life which so many are apparently hungering for today; for such a select few, for those who ‘have ears for Zarathustra’, Nietzsche wrote ‘Also Sprach Zararathustra’: ‘To lure many away from the herd’, Zarathustra informs us, ‘that is why I have come’.
Oddly echoing the teachings of Jesus, (c. 4 BCE — c. ACE 30/ 33), in fact: ‘So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen’. (Matthew 20:16). The message is the same, do not believe for one minute there is any principle of absolute equality underlying the blessedness of the life to come; it does not depend on the work you do, how useful a member of society you may have proven yourself to be; oh no, what matters is a difference of degree of worthiness, which is to say, on the temper and character of you as an individual; you may lead a blameless life but in terms of character mayhaps you are not good enough. And yet, given that a herd instinct persists as a dominant force in the psyche of the human being, Nietzsche assumes the demands of Zarathustra to be so antithetical to human nature that if one were capable of attaining them they would have to overcome the limits of their humanity and become what he called the Superman[woman]: ‘I teach you the Superman[woman]’, announces Zarathustra, ‘Man [woman] is something that should be overcome. What have you done to overcome him [her]?.. All gods are dead: now we want the Superman [woman] to live’.
‘No fanatic speaks to you here, this is not a ‘sermon’; no faith is demanded in these pages’, claimed Nietzsche, (‘Ecce Homo’); yet in what way do the demands of Zarathustra differ from Jesus’s injunction?: ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect’. (Matthew 5:48).
To quote Robertson Jeffers again:
I will have shepherds for my philosophers,
Tall dreary men lying on the hills all night
Watching the stars, let their dogs watch the sheep. And I’ll have lunatics
For my poets, strolling from farm to farm, wild liars distorting
The country news into supernaturalism -
For all men to such minds are devils or gods — and that increases
Man’s dignity, man’s importance, necessary lies
Best told by fools.
Choosing himself to adopt a poetic style and to employ poetic metaphor, which hinders any precise interpretation of his work, Nietzsche nonetheless somewhat self-contradictorily wrote:
‘Alas, there are so many things between heaven and earth of which only the poets have dreamed. And especially above the heavens: for all gods are poets’ parables, poets’ prevarications. Verily, it always lifts us higher — specifically, to the realm of the clouds: upon these we place our motley bastards and call them gods and overmen. For they are just light enough for these chairs — all these gods and overmen. Ah, how weary I am of all the imperfection which must at all costs become event! Ah, how weary I am of poets!’
‘Man is something that should be overcome’; whatever that might mean only the courageous and independent of you can possibly achieve it. ‘I need pure, smooth mirrors for my teaching; upon your surface even my own reflection is distorted…. And although you are high and of a higher type, much in you is crooked and malformed. There is no smith in the world who could hammer you straight and into shape for me’. And so on. We might as well ask of him as we might ask of the Messiah, where do you get off with the judging? I have my own views about what constitutes a great person, though I would have difficulty formulating them; and you will have yours; such is the pitfall of an elitist philosophy. A defence of Nietzsche’s philosophy may take the line that a culture that loses its hope and its need for heroes will begin to decay and die: ‘But, by my love and hope I entreat you: do not reject the hero in your soul! Keep holy your highest hope!’
But then: ‘Once the state has been founded’, according to Hegel, ‘there can no longer be any heroes. They come on the scene only in uncivilised conditions’. And yet for Nietzsche the state was the new idol that the masses worship; it encourages uniformity and mediocrity; whereas freedom was to be found outside of its confines:
‘Somewhere there are still peoples and herds, but not with us, my brothers: here there are states. A state? What is that? Well! Open now your ears to me, for now will I say to you my word concerning the death of peoples. State is the name of the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly lies it also; and this lie creeps from its mouth: ‘I, the state, am the people’….. ‘It is a lie! Creators were they who created peoples, and hung a faith and a love over them: thus they served life. Destroyers, are they who lay traps for many, and call it the state: they hang a sword and a hundred cravings over them. Where there is still a people, there the state is not understood, but hated as the evil eye, and as sin against laws and customs. This sign I give to you: every people speaks its language of good and evil: this its neighbor understands not. Its language has it devised for itself in laws and customs’.
The state is the coldest of monsters spewing the most despicable lies that the state is the people; and it confuses the language of good and evil; ‘it beckons to the preachers of death! Many too many are born: for the superfluous ones was the state devised! See just how it entices them to it, the many-too-many! How it swallows and chews and re-chews them!’ Thriving on illusion and trickery, the state invented morality on its own terms and to justify its acts, it created forms of good and evil, confining the masses, and forcing them into its will:
‘And not only the long-eared and short-sighted fall upon their knees! Ah! even in your ears, you great souls, it whispers its gloomy lies! Ah! it finds out the rich hearts which willingly lavish themselves! Yes, it finds you out too, you conquerors of the old God! Weary you became of the conflict, and now your weariness serves the new idol! Heroes and honorable ones, it would rather set up around it, the new idol! Gladly it basks in the sunshine of good consciences, — the cold monster!’
And thus it is that here in the UK, as elsewhere in the world today, the state latches upon any excuse to interfere more and more in our lives, to stifle our freedoms, especially our freedom of expression; here, in the land of John Stuart Mill, (1806–1873), whose ‘On Liberty’ is perhaps the most audacious, genuinely heroic, and most articulate defence of freedom of speech ever written, and a founding document of liberalism: ‘If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind’. Freedom of speech is the most important freedom we have; it produces civilisation by allowing us to challenge authority, attain wisdom, and follow our conscience; and gradually bit by bit it is being eroded. Granted it could be restricted if there is a violation of Mill’s harm principle, a principle that can only be invoked to describe speech that can be limited legally and harm is taken to mean that which violates the rights of another person. But we have no right not to be offended, we cannot claim injury on the grounds of the existence of things we happen not to like, as Mill makes clear:
‘There are many who consider as an injury to themselves any conduct which they have a distaste for, and resent it as an outrage to their feelings; as a religious bigot, when charged with disregarding the religious feelings of others, has been known to retort that they disregard his feelings, by persisting in their abominable worship or creed. But there is no parity between the feeling of a person for his own opinion, and the feeling of another who is offended at his holding it; no more than between the desire of a thief to take a purse, and the desire of the right owner to keep it. And a person’s taste is as much his own peculiar concern as his opinion or his purse’.
He likens the position of those that would deprive us of free speech to that of purse snatching, employing very devious tactics morally akin to trying to steal a person’s property because they believe they are entitled to it. And further: ‘… the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right’. And yet here in the UK as of April a verified licence will be required for the watching of pornography (not that I do but it is a good illustration of the point I am making); an extension of the 2003 Communications Act that introduced the concept of gross offence into English law. And who decides what grossly offensive actually means? Our puritanical cold monster Conservative government enforcing their morality, their puritanical view of sex, upon the rest of the country; the regulation of our sex lives begins here… and thus it will keep going as the cold monster encroaches into the private lives of citizens where it has no business to be; now we have to ask permission of our government to watch pornography; soon we will have to ask their permission for self-relief.
Which puts me in mind of the ‘Nausicaa’ episode in Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’; an episode that led to the banning of ‘Ulysses’ by the American cold monster; so shocking was it to a New York lawyer’s daughter that her father, equally shocked, brought it to the attention of both the New York County District Attorney and John S Sumner, secretary of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice (does America still have such a society?); the publishers were tried and found guilty of obscenity; and the American reading public were thereby spared from being shocked themselves … by which I am being ironic of course because censorship is never done for benevolent purposes.
And so, Leopold Bloom, having no access to the internet, this being the 16th of June, 1904, has to take advantage of the sight of Gerty MacDowell seated upon the rocks of Sandymount Strand, a shoreline area to the southeast of central Dublin; as Bloom watches her from afar she gradually teases him by exposing her legs and underwear, And Bloom, in turn, masturbates; his masturbatory climax echoed by the fireworks at the nearby bazaar:
‘And then a rocket sprang and bang shot blind and O! then the Roman candle burst and it was like a sigh of O! and everyone cried O! O! in raptures and it gushed out of it a stream of rain gold hair threads and they shed and ah! They were all greeny dewy stars falling with golden, O so lovely, O, soft, sweet, soft! Then all melted away dewily in the grey air: all was silent’.
‘The Great Masturbator’, 1929, Salvador Dali
‘For this relief much thanks’.
- William Shakespeare, ‘Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 1
To be continued ….
Notes to ‘Finnegans Wake’ quotation:
1. Aujourd’hui…. flowers and history:
‘Today as in the time of Pliny and Columella the hyacinth disports in Wales, the periwinkle in Illyria, the daisy on the ruins in Numantia and while around them the cities have changed masters and names, while some have ceased to exist, while the civilizations have collided with each other and smashed, their peaceful generations have passed through the ages and have come up to us, fresh and laughing as on the days of battles’.
- Edgar Quinet, (1803–1875), (French historian, this is the only undistorted quotation in the text. Joyce loved this sentence so much that he would recite it from memory).
2. Don Johns = Don Juan, the name of a legendary Spanish nobleman whose dissolute life was dramatized by Gabriel Tellez in his ‘Convivado de Piedra’.
3. Totty Askins = Tommy Atkins, familiar form of Thomas Atkins, as a name for the typical private soldier in the British army; and totty (Dublin Slang), girl; prostitute.
4. Also Spuke Zerothruster = ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’ (‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’), Nietzsche’s masterpiece in biblical narrative form; in part III, ‘The Convalescent’: ‘Everything goes, everything comes back; eternally runs the wheel of being. Everything dies, everything blossoms again; eternally runs the year of being’.
5. BELLETRISTICKS = belletristic, of or pertaining to belles-lettres (elegant or polite literature or literary studies. A vaguely-used term, formerly taken sometimes in the wide sense of ‘the humanities,’ literæ humaniores; sometimes in the exact sense in which we now use ‘literature’; in the latter use it has come down to the present time, but it is now generally applied (when used at all) to the lighter branches of literature or the æsthetics of literary study).
6. BELLUM = bellum, a small boat or canoe used in ports along the shores of the Persian Gulf ; and bellum (Latin), war; and pax (Latin), peace.
7. MUTUOMORPHOMUTATION = mutuo (Latin), in return, by turns, reciprocally; and morphes (Greek), shape, form; and mutuomorphomutatio (Latin + Greek), a reciprocal exchange of shape.
8. nasal = of, belonging or pertaining to, the nose.
9. fossa = cavity (in anatomy).
10. Valsing = valse, to dance the valse or waltz; and Vercingetorix, (d. 46 BC), chieftain of the Gallic tribe of the Arverni whose formidable rebellion against Roman rule was crushed by Julius Caesar. He was killed at Caesar’s triumph; and rex (Latin), king.
11. triump = triumphus (Latin), ceremonial procession by a victorious Roman general through the streets of Rome with soldiers, the Senate, and chief captives, who were often then killed, as Vercingetorix was at Caesar’s Gallic triumph; and arcus triumphalis (Latin), at a triumph the army entered through a gate which was often later replaced by a commemorative arch.
12. gaswind = Latin; and geschwind (German)= gezwind (Dutch), quickly.
13. turfish = English + Turkish.
14. Teague = a nickname for an Irishman.
15. bog = a piece of wet spongy ground, a morass; and boy; and bog (Pan-Slavonic), god.
16. Thady = Thaddeus, apocryphal tradition has it that Jesus had a brother, Judas Thaddeus.
17 poliss = polish off, to finish off quickly or out of hand; and poliż (Polish), lick (imperative singular).
18. nates = the buttocks, haunches; and nett’s Weib (German), nice girl, woman.
19. pulper = a machine for reducing fruit, straw, roots, paper-stock, etc. to pulp; and blotting paper.