Happy Xmas! (Past Is Over) / handke’s weight of the world
From Peter Handke’s The Weight of the World:
A fine thing: suddenly to forget about one’s history, one’s past, to stop feeling that one’s present happiness is endangered by what one used to be, as a child, as an adolescent, etc.
That is to say, forget the novelization of life. A special peril for literary types, those invested in the novel as a form, whose mental architecture has been rebuilt in the shape of that genre. So what instead?
Do one thing after another as lucidly as possible: smell the bread, smell the schnapps, fold the paper – therein lies salvation.
One thinks first concentration. But it’s not just that, or perhaps not that at all. The lucidity seems to come in fact from relaxation, the escape from a special sort of self-tied knot:
That woman was walking so elegantly, and now, all of a sudden her gait is slovenly, lewd, and vulgar; she’s visibly relieved
These are the opposite of Joyce’s epiphanies. Can you feel the tension in this one despite the tiny form? The turn in regard? The pivot in his consideration across the and now?
Massive changes are afoot chez AWP, and AWP is looking at books, such as Handke’s, for advice on how to manage it. And I don’t mean the blog. You should hear the kitchen table conversations. Lord. Handke is coming with on the big trip, despite the fact there are Other Things To Do.