Marie Lundquist, author:

In addition to being an author, August saw himself as a universal genius in the true sense of the word, of this there is no doubt. Being King in the Realm of Words was not enough for a man of his insatiable curiosity. No, he also wanted to know everything, in the minutest detail, from the “ori- gin of the Chinese language” to “the sound of the stork” (Kribbel, Krabbel, purre murre). Nothing human was alien to him. The list of what he calls the “Hell of Excrement”, various offensive latrines he had visited, was long and picturesque. He claimed categorically that the frequency of malaria was inversely proportional to the frequency of mosquitoes, and that the human body’s glabrous muscle cells were identical to those of the fir tree.

“All children are prodigies until they have learnt to keep quiet”, August established. And indeed, the childish prodigy thrived in the adult man, who, with his hands marked by various chemical experiments, placed crab shells under paper sheets in order to produce frottages. Or who created double-sided images of ink blots, similar to those which in psychology are called Rorschach images.

However, August’s ambitions did not stop at crab shells! He called himself a “poet chemist” and set out to make gold by mixing blue vitriol, sodium chloride and ammonium chloride. The kind of gold which he claimed was “the sunlight photographed and fixed”. And if the source of gold is the sun, what are the stars not able to create? In a strange series, “Celestographs” – photographs taken without a camera and a lens – he places the plates directly on the ground and exposes them to the night sky. This produced a grandiose and ambiguous compound of the terrestrial and the celestial, which, in various ways, recurs in everything August tried his hand at.

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