Archive for the ‘handke’ Category
For all its engaging and delicate ruminations, and despite its bold, humorous claim to be “the definitive and true story of Don Juan,” the book left me wanting to hear again Mozart’s treatment of the same theme. That music has everything Handke’s prose lacks: brio, verve, declarative intensity, a vast range of emotion and, last but not least, brilliant, joyful virility.
It’s starting to look like a concerted, and very strange, campaign that the NYT is conducting against all manner of literary flaccidity and impotence. Odd. Just ordered the novel anyway. Why isn’t it being published in the UK?
Handke does advert-people a few times in TWoftheW:
Walking across the city. In the gaps left open by the masses of cars there are still a few isolated individuals, ashen pale or flushed, in incompatible states, and these people have subjected themselves to politics or world history, and amid the technological din they go around posing (like the figures shown in architectural drawings) at the foot of gigantic buildings, which are the essential while they are mere incidentals; moving through this catastrophe as through an underground hangar, I try to breathe everything in through my eyes, to preserve within me the forlorness of these people.
Advertisements for houses in artificial villages (“domaines“). The accompanying sketches show the latest conception of paradise: a father beaming from ear to ear as he strolls down a garden path with a child on his shoulders; slanting beach umbrellas; outside the house, slim young men arrange chairs for a party: “Here you will live from year’s end to year’s end as if you were on vacation” (none of the figures in these sketches has both feet on the ground – they are much too happy for that)
Brilliant, that last parenthetical bit. Hard to say just where the interest in these figures comes from, though I’ve tried before. One shouldn’t talk about fiction in general trying to do things, i.e. awarding the genre itself with desires and aspirations, but I do believe / pretend that it has been trying to enact a nearly impossible foreground / background reversal for quite awhile now. These ad-people
In spending the morning folding shirts, rolling up socks, cutting my nails, bathing and showering, sipping tea from time to time on the balcony, I succeeded for the first time in conceiving of such activity as a possible way of life (for a while)
Must admit that reading Handke’s The Weight of the World is interfering with my getting back to blogging. It feels now that the blog should be something like this, but on the other hand, what an impossible act of solipsism that would be. I’ve been looking around for more information about the composition of this book, and finding not very much (may have to brush off my deutsch if really want to find anything out), but it postures oddly between a personal journal that was subsequently published and a text that was written for publication from the first. Seems to me that this is an important question, both in terms of understanding the book itself and making sense of what it means to me, what it’s urging me to do.
Which is worse: anxiety or people?
What’s even better about it is that the question of the text’s, well, compositional sociality mirrors one of the driving thematic concerns of the work – the impossible and daily choice between being with others (and all of the disappointments and deflations that come of that) or solitude (and the anxiety that comes of that). The text wobbles between narrative and communication on the one hand and the involution of the lyrical mode, just as the writer can’t quite decide whether it’s best just to be by himself or to be other people.
The trouble with great literature is that any asshole can identify with it.
It’s twittery, isn’t it? I can’t bring myself to use that service – why isn’t a blog enough anymore? But more importantly, Handke’s making me think about the politics and aesthetics of identification and estrangement again, which is something. If only I didn’t have to work on the Fucking Book again today.
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.