Friday, August 10, 2007

Andrea GCOURY/ PILIPP # 6 Andrea Gogroef-Voorhees on HANDKE/ NIETZSCHE

Andrea Gogroef-Voorhees piece on HANDKE/ NIETZSCHE now posted @:



I am skipping ahead – leapfrogging the detailed comments for 5-b Pilipp - to Andrea Gogroef-Voorhees’ piece on HANDKE/ NIETZSCHE.

Comments on [1] Handke/Nietzsche; [2] Narcissism; [3] “The Child”;

[4] Fragmentariness, etc.


First of all LYNX to the few worthwhile reviews that ACROSS THE SIERRA DEL GREDOS has achieved so far in the USSR. I am just wondering whether someone in Krautland noticed that GREDOS is a hugely expanded version of LEFT-HANDED WOMAN?? Certainly no one here has.

1] LA TIMES/ Thomas McGonigle,0,2189379.story?coll=la-books-headlines



4] Crossing the Sierra de Gredos
San Francisco Chronicle - CA, USA

More perceptive in some instances than I had anticipated, but hugely ignorant of context and form and Handke’s development as prose writer.



the Literary Saloon -



Let me say right off the bat that I am astounded Ms. Voorhees doesn’t know Handke’s ZARATHUSTRA, Ueber die Doerfer!!!! [WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES, ARIADNE PRESS*] The culmination of his “Homecoming” quartet, his Goethean/Eurepedian/ Hoelderlin/ Shakespearan summa of his abilities at that point! A TRUE apotheosis! And that Ms. Voorhees didn’t have an editor to point this out! “Sweet and delicate is the cadence of their speech” or however its quote from the otherwise so ressentiment-filled Ecce Homo. Handke’s most generous work, his paean to his “village”, his Credence Clearwater Revival song to the aristocracy of the working class, and then some! The work that can also be regarded as consisting(*) [The reason that this publication is practically unknown has to do with the fact that Ariadne Press, promises to the contrary, never even sent review copies to Publisher's Weekly or Library Journal. Only petit-bourgouis academics can be both that spendthrift, arrogant, and cloistered, such deadbeats. Nor render royalty statement, whatever they may amount to; and take 10% from the Austrian translation grants to help defray their spendthrift ways.

as entirely of a series of haikus,

the work that consists also in some sense entirely of quotes as those poor Benjamin scholars are probably still trying to imagine from Benjamin’s dream of such a thing. The work of which he feeds even in Sierra del Gredos.

Ms. Voorhees heart is in the right place, and her essay is worth reading, though I can’t say I learned anything new from it, but it contains a lot of fine reminders. Yet how is it possible except in Germanistik to write in such a pedestrian fashion about two writers of this kind! Also, her piece is by and large part of the non-productive yet incestuously referential daisy-chain of Handke studies.

Now a few pointed comments.

1] You could also do a Handke/ Stifter monograph; or Handek/ Stifter and Eichendorf or, preferably, a Handke + the German classics on the part of someone who wanted to be a living classic during his life time and thus redeem the classics in the postwar WW II German language, and found the kind of publisher with similar ambitions. The Celan connection isn’t immediately present to me, but I am always glad to be enlightened. Yes Handke revivifies them!

In the mid-70s Handke wrote me, as part of a letter, to the effect: “I am able to do anything now as a writer.” Which without giving it the requisite thorough thinking through that such a statement required, I nonetheless understood to mean, if he were composer he felt capable of achieving every effect, had control of all formal possibilities. Nonetheless, what then followed, starting with the more mythic and openhearted [1977] Left-handed Woman which was his way of working his way of the crisis-ridden Paris Period [1971-1975, Weight of the World, Nonsense and Happiness, A Moment of True Feeling, that “moment” yes is the “Wende” which Ms. Voorhees keeps mentioning without understanding how it came about] from 1979 Langsame Heimkehr to W.A.T.V and The Repetition to The Art of Asking to Absence the Three Assayings to No-Man’s Bay to the 2005 Don Juan pretty much takes my breath away, its breadth and depths do. So I regard the various writers from whom Handke has learned, whom the word needy has absorbed – and it is an immense list – as having been amalgamated within his capacities as a writer/ dramatist/composer. So what is interesting is the process of amalgamation, that would be a major dissertation, and for that you need to go down into the dream mine.

Ms. Voorhees does fine work in tracking down Handke’s statements about his relationship to his now companion Nietzsche, except of course for the huge W.A.T.V. lacuna, which is like knowing a ship but not its engine. In tracking the affinities, she forces the issue occasionally without proving them; yet fails to note the immense differences, i.e. what trans-valuation occurs in the upwardly mobile classic Handke? Well, yes, he finds priestly love of the world in himself, the old derisiveness, by and large becomes balanced, but Loser of Across and the writer of The Afternoon of a Writer are pretty much the same unhappy consciousnesses of A Moment of True Feeling with the huge difference of what better writers they become! The second “Wende” [major psychic turn] really occurs with the research and writing of The Repetition, Handke’s rewriting of both Die Hornissen and Sorrow Beyond Dreams, his installation of his Slovenian grandfather, the eternal cusspot Sivec, as the the internalized father figure/ compass which compass he would follow all the way to the defense of the Yugoslav Federation. Meanwhile, Spain has become the home away from no-home, and I gladly follow him there from the decimated republic.

What relation if any does Handke have to the Nietzsche whose “es” inspired Freud’s “id”- “es lebt mich”?

The reason Handke is so important is that there may have never been a writer who understood his medium as well as he does, who is able to combine the medium of dream and writing and, in this historical period, film, dream films, and their syntax; who makes us experience and see anew, the way Nietzsche merely called for. His verbal actionism – it occurs during the duree of reading or experiencing some of his plays and in that sense is a realization. Who, as a dramatist, fulfills the promise of a non-Aristotelian catharsis? And does it so surreptitiously.

2] Narcissism

Which is neither healthy nor unhealthy, as Ms. Voorhees has it,

and the bloody discipline needs to get up to speed of Kohut and everything that has transpired in Self-Psychology since about 1975.

Handke - in adolescence he dreamed of appearing on the cover of Der Spiegel - is hugely dependent on response from the “mirror”, mirror response-deprived, surprising in a love child who was eyed with such love and approval until age two; hugely assertive before the mirror. So representationaly oriented! Look at the way his mode of dress has changed over the years. From Rock star hippie to Count zu und von Griffen.

Thus if the word narcissism is used, either in the pejorative sense, as so criminally by Durzak, or healthy: stop, take the time to learn what can be learned even without doing an analysis! Thus Handke’s feeling that Nietzsche was more troubled by a lack of response than the cerebral injuries and quite productive unloosing caused by progressive syphilis, ought to be understood as a projection [and I admit that I do not know to what degree the prophet in the wilderness was troubled by a lack of response.], Handke is so self-involved he nearly always projects - and talks about himself [yet in works such as W.A.T.V. and ART OF ASKING we sense that his SELF, when he writes, can contain a world. Our great author is translated into about 30 languages has had thousands of photos taken of himself, given hundreds of interviews and injects himself in front of any camera in sight! And yet manages to have himself portrayed as “media shy.” The desire for a mirroring response is huge and insatiable, and of course joyous when he is, so rarely, understood.

“Stay in the picture” as the mythical Oracle of Dordonna advises so multi-ambigously in the epitaph at the beginning of W.A.T.V.

What was the latest episode in the Handke media saga all about? [some handke material, too, the Milosevic controversy summarized]

Showing himself in front of a photo of Milosevic at the funeral! A statement from Paris would have sufficed. [And I happened to agree with Handke that M. at the time of his death had not been proven guilty and that to lay all responsibility at his feet was ridiculous.] With unfortunate and stupid consequences for a very great play, THE ART OF ASKING. Then the Heine Preis for someone who said just a year before that he did not want to accept any further prizes. And a couple of years further back that he would remove himself from the public stage, a statement that itself made news, and that did not really need to be made, it’s something you just do. [Fat chance, Handke will make sure that Handke in his death throes will be turned into a public spectacle like the death of one of his medieval kings!] Whenever a just cause comes to the fore, there is Herr Handke “the gnat in the navel of the economy!” [They Are Dying Out, 1973]

He needed the money to invite his translators to Spain! And Siegried Loeffler persuaded the jury. Then the to be expected outcry. And Handke could afford the grand gesture of refusing a prize the money for which he was not going to get anyway. Then pal Klaus Peymann creates a Berlin Heine Preis for our man. And not long ago Handke and Peymann and a troupe of journalist go to Kosovo where Handke, so he said, was “itching to get rid of some money” [50 K Euro], a pure media show! But then seems to have really enjoyed his time with an entirely male group from that Serbian enclave and their cheese and wine. “Play the Game,” as it also says in W.A.T.V. Except that Handke is insufficiently playful for me.

Handke is a media star and has the kind of publishing firm, the Unseld Verlag [a.k.a. Suhrkamp] that now needs him desperately, they don’t want him to leave as so many other authors have, to the extent of awarding him, who has written devastatingly about his Obergaunerleiter of a publisher,

[I worked for him and mince no words at ]

the first recipient of the 50 K Euro Unseld Preis. I, who really could use that kind of money, wouldn’t accept anything so named unless under extreme state of rendition. And Handke is smart enough to keep one egg warm in Austria, first with the Residenz Verlag, now with Jung Verlag that is led by Residenz’s once editor in jefe. This is not Nietzsche! This is someone who is a modern writer within the capitalist system who, however, makes few concessions to the commodity system, and is, perforce of what he is condemned to, immensely productive, 60 some books in about forty years, hundreds of books and dissertation, an industry in the making. An author, like Hesse, on whose work you can support an entire publishing house, and restart a culture.

None of the above lessens Handke’s extraordinary importance as a writer and dramatist. As do none of his personal failings, most of which he has no control over anyhow. Say his Tourette-like cussing, a frequent adjunct to autism.

Kohut is known as the savior of Psychoanalysis for the reason that he was willing to venture where Freud refused to. Freudian analysis is to Self-pschologically adumbrate analysis as Newton is to Einstein and Quantum Mechanics. You enter the world of psychic fission and fusion, and enter world of narcissistic rage and complicated vulnerabilities, of the injured grandiose self, that still characterizes Handke, but is that the wound whence he writes? Does he write out of a wound at all when he writes cradled in a the hollow of a fallen tree in some forest? “Your art is for the healthy,” he quotes N. in W.A.T.V. – and most fail to heed the ambiguity of this quote. The fruitful regression!

Let me give some examples of Handke’s narcissistic problematics aside the multiply motivated, driven need for mirroring and assertion. Even if Handke lacked his extreme autistic sensitivities [and the absence of modulating functions that go hand in hand with them] and had not had his decade long exposure to violent primal scenes as of age 2, there would be the motivation of knowing that he is a bastard child and of his lowly class and minority origins. Yet there he is with the taste of the most highborn staying only at the best hotels, more power to him I say who escaped those heights, rather equivo and uncertain-ly and insecurely into warmer regions already as a child. Handke wants to be the top dog, and has since early childhood, and all those who seek to take some of his limelight are regarded as “space displacers” [ZURUESTUNGEN FUER DIE UNSTERBLICHKEIT] a wonderful formulation though he may think that it is perfectly all right for him to displace so much, attract so much of the light and space in newspapers and magazines.

Handke has done much good through the Petrarca now Lenz Preis which he persuaded his friend the media billionaire Herbert Burda to finance: but none of the recipients are of Handke’s stature, even approach it. Handke notes how blood-filled [blutruenstig] the ocean seems when writers are together in the water vying for the prize. Recently, during the Grass brouhaha Handke, from Spain, not having read the book Peeling the Onion, let loose a patented righteous broadside against the wounded big shark Guenter Grass, “una vergenza”… to get his own name into the papers! I know whereof I speak since I was once in the belly of the beast and each of my scars is a novel.

It is evident that the 10 year exposure to violent drunken primal scenes had a permanently disfiguring effect on someone with his autistic sensibilities. Again, I suggest to look at the sequelae as he enumerates them in The Essay on Tiredness. It is within that crucible that a life long compulsive writer is born: insomnia, anxiety that is calmed by holding a pen, the need for a somewhat transfiguring cover, the in and out of dreams, THE WRITING ON THE DREAM SCREEN [Bernard Lewin] that accounts for Handke’s tweaking of reality “Close your eyes and the world appears anew”, the opening sentence of ACROSS/ CHINESE DES SCHMERZENS is nearly programmatic and points to the kind of “realistic” writer Handke has become. Written on a dream screen in a cool dissociated dream state he indeed can produce the finest pure writing this side of heaven - but violence keeps breaking in and through - especially in books such as Absence or Don Juan or The Essay on the Juke Box or long stretches of Del Gredos or No-Man’s Bay. And that he is then pleased when he regards how well done his books are is not some kind of narcissistic excess, since this finding involves a reflexive critical function, and so is healthy and sound. Right: how can one be certain that one hasn’t fooled oneself during the writing? There are no absolute standards except one’s own gods. This regarding of the then printed text is also an act of self-reincorporation of something, if it was prose, that has been written in pencil for decades now. Only the plays are typed, one other reason I imagine that they also make a more objectified impression. The prose is extraordinarily intimate no matter how objective seeming. Handke scarcely revises his manuscripts, although, like Proust, he now revises and adumbrates his galleys [Fahnen].

Handke’s effect on the reader I think can be best understood in terms of the “states of mind” he creates, both in some of his plays, [the shearing away of all opinions] and his prose texts. Again: Self-Psychology can account for that. He manages to make his readers, his audience see afresh; but as compared to Nietzsche, Handke is also a positivist in the knowledge of the effect that his effects will have. “Nothing but a writer.” Indeed

Narcissism [b]

A hunger for acknowledgement before the mirror, a clothes horse, modish, someone who vets all collections of essays about him done by his publishers of anything critical or derogatory: the wish to be, appear immaculate, uninjured. And then in his public explosions brings no end of obloquy on himself! There is the Handke with the pen, and there can also be Handke the loudmouth. W.A.T.V. most likely will be the most complete account he will give of his multitudinousness.

Now let me turn to an instance of injured narcissism in the life of the writer. In the early 70s Handke wrote a pretty devastating and funny piece on the critical procedures of Reich-Ranicki which can be found on one
of the sites; anyhow, it is on line.

RR, who has his points, except especially when it comes to Handke, and is sensitive, too, repaid the derision many times over, especially in an unusually obtuse review of the so wonderful LEFTHANDED WOMAN, I think he said it was a rewrite of an Ibsen play, Nora. The Lecon of Saint Victoire contains a famous passage of a bulldog shitting all over an air field runway and barking through a fence. I must say, I was rather surprised to see Handke say that everyone knew that he had RR in mind. RR had gotten to Handke to the extent that he committed an act of what is called “projective identification”: that is, he had expelled what he hated most in himself [hateful things having to do with the anal sphere, oral aggressive matters, on the part of someone who is afraid of dogs! And in general is easily frightened, that is, afraid of his own violence.]. It is an instance of the kind of rage that Handke commits rarely in writing, a true dream moment, endlessly in his tirades during the Yugoslav controversy, and which he permits himself, calling his rage sacred! And the greatest controlled and counter-posed literary examples can be found, you guessed it, in W.A.T.V.!

Thus one could say that Handke is the kind of fellow who can’t stand the heat in the kitchen and so ought to stay out of it. Analytically speaking it points to the fury unloosed at an attack on a text with which he has totally identified himself, i.e. on his self. That fact that he is utterly justified in attacking the so obtuse [when it comes to Handke] Reichs-Kanickel unlooses the fury with the ease of dia or I ought to say logorrhea. RR of course is smart enough to know this, and so keeps waving the red flag [“I am no longer working as a full time reviewer and I will spare myself reading 800 closely printed pages of the Del Gredos monstrum, I never thought Handke was all that important.” And the Handke bull dog kept charging; also a lot in NO-MAN’S BAY where his smart publisher Unseld is taken to task for using media star RR as an anthologizer. Now RR has invaded his own publishing house! Is given star treatment!

Handke himself - in reflecting on narcissism - is stuck at the Freudian / Newtonian stage as we can read in the short recit he introduces on the subject in ONE DARK NIGHT: if no one loves you, you can at least love yourself. His texts all have a letter in a bottle quality to them. Actually Handke’s texts drew more love out of me the past 20 some years than anything else!

3] Ms. Voorhees approvingly cites Handke’s objecting to some women objecting to his upbringing of the first of his two girl children. Ms. Voorhees is apparently obtuse to the entirely defensively aggressive nature of that passage. Well, let me tell you all something.

This child was presented to me in Spring of 1969 in Berlin when I had come to go over my translation of Kaspar with Handke, and I always felt glad that I went goo-goo eyes with babies, and was not an overly busy revolutionary. And I thought it perfectly normal and unobjectionable to be shown the fruit of the loin of someone whose work I was translating. [But utterly weird to be told after I had outplayed him at Taroq in 1980 that he would withhold showing the briefly retrieved runaway wife! Handke the forever petulant child –itself a matter that makes the analytically aware of a troubled childhood.]

The next few times that I saw this child she was perhaps 5 and 6 years old, and you couldn’t help but be struck how dumbstruck, intimidated she seemed. If you read Child Story and Weight of the World and Nonsense and Happiness, focusing on this subject, you will be less surprised. Handke may deserve every literary prize in the world, he will never win for being a father or husband. He is lucky, it gives him more time to write. The injury that produced the crisis during the first Paris period was being left by a neglected wife: “The worst thing that ever happened to me.” Well no, far worse was the decade long exposure to violent primal scenes.

Later then, in the late 80s, “the child” suddenly entered Handke’s poetics as a subject, as though no one in the world had ever given “the child” a thought! Handke can be so daft. The Child knocks its stick peremptorily on the floor of the stage at the end of W.A.T.V. Later then, Handke expressed severe regret at how severely, how neglectfully he treated his first child, writing was easy by compare, “if only.”. But at the time of writing A CHILD STORY [1980] he didn’t want women friends criticizing him. He is defensive as hell. Meanwhile, he has become the typically compensating dad with girl child # 2
, LĂ©ocadie Handke-Semin That she may not be another space cadet! See the 2001 “fairy tale” Lucie in dem Wald mit den Dingsbums, which reads like a left out chapter from No-Man’s-Bay.

Handke also deserves the prize for having contradicted himself more than anyone else in a long time. So if one writes on matters of this kind, as Ms. Vorhees does… you need to regard all the texts from the first Paris period; no inside dope, just reading the contemporaneous books, it is all there for the obvious inference. The great exhibitionist does not withhold much.

4] Handke as unsystematic thinker…

I read the Puetz about 20 year ago now, and am drawing a blank, but feel sufficiently confidant that I don’t think I need to go look up his book again now.

First of all, I don’t think, which means that I do think, that Handke will not go down in history as an epecially good “thinker”, no matter that, at times, he fancies himself a philosopher, but then who doesn’t.

However, as someone who has formal control of texts of between 30-40 K words, of 8th Symphony like productions, he will. Or as someone who near systematically explores the formal possibilities of a discovery, say of the Sprechstuecke, during his avant garde period. I think my enumeration of how these possibilities are then amalgamated, absorbed and retained if transformed in THE HOUR WE KNEW NOTHING ABOUT EACH OTHER is on-line already at [the drama lecture]

As a formalist, however, Handke is quite rigorous if imaginative throughout, even in the so misanthropic, SUBDAY BLUES [see for a 3 k word explication of this exploitation of that side of our man]. The most lucid recent example is his DON JUAN which moves simultaneously forward and backward in time and space as it keeps tightening the narrative noose.

Die Geschichte des Bleistifts…[“L’histoire de crayon” for those of you who have French but no German] shows the kind of thought that the forever developing Handke gives to his writing… and so it is as a philosopher of language and what it can do that he has entered the pantheon. Ganscher in his famous interview points to a certain linguistic naturalism; true, it has been there since the beginning, the word become earth.

And I think I will stop now. Next, either my detailed take on the so energetic Pilipp, but I am also itching to get to friend Thomas Barry’s two pieces on Handke early work and his the short non-fiction.

Michael Roloff, August 10, 2007

-- MICHAEL ROLOFF 714-660-4445Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society

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MICHAEL ROLOFF exMember Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website