Hans Magnus Enzensberger: Mr Zed’s Reflections or Breadcrumbs He Dropped, Gathered Up by His Listeners

translated by Wieland Hoban

Every afternoon for almost a year, Mr Zed comes to the same spot in the city park and engages passers-by with quick-witted repartee. Those who pass ask: Who is this man? A wisecracker, a clown, a belligerent philosopher? Many shake their heads and move on; others listen to him, engage with him and, again and again, return to the same place.
Mr Zed undermines arrogance, megalomania and false authority. A determined speaker who doesn’t care for ambitions, he forces topics that others would rather keep to themselves. He sees absolutely nothing as ‘non-negotiable’, he admits mistakes and does away with judgement.
At the end of the season, when it becomes too cold and uncomfortable in the park, he disappears, never to be seen again.
Collected here are the considerations and provocations of this park-bench philosopher, in a volume of truths and conversations that are clear-cut, skeptical and fiercely illuminating.
German original published by Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, under the title Herrn Zetts Betrachtungen, oder Brosamen, die er fallen ließ, aufgelesen von seinen Zuhörern in 2013.