Sunday, June 28, 2009


The psycho-bio monograph + memoir

A: Résumé of Part I;

B: New York 1971: P.24

C: Fugueing [1972-74] p. 63

D: Encounters, visits, correspondence, commentary: p. 110

E: 97:Mönchsberg Visit 1980: p.143

F: Villages Translation 1982: p.154

G: Yugoslav Manifest: p. 183
H: Terminus p.206

[separatly ]

Résumé of Part I

In Part One I sought to detail Handke’s traumas and the ensuing psychological liabilities:

[a] His decade-long exposure – starting in 1944, at age two, in Berlin - to violent drunken primal scenes; with a plethora of sequaelae especially for someone diagnosed as autistically hypersensitive which he himself enumerates in his Essay on Tiredness; nauseas, rages of all kinds being their chief manifestations;

[b] following on two years as the exclusive love child of a very beautiful young mother of the Slovenian minority in the Austrian province Carinthia; which, too, has its consequences; especially, of course, and most importantly, for his extreme sensitivity to language, the world he there inhabits, and his sense of form; a need for quiet, gentle natural noises, cotton wadding, cork-lined walls stands in his future.

[c] The likelihood that his life-long somewhat depressive state of mind is of anaclytic origin, absorbed while a depressed mother [dumped by the love of her life, a Herr Schönherr, and then marrying his compadre German soldier surrogate, Bruno Handke] carried her child to term;

[d] that Handke’s feeling that something dreadful had happened to him early in his life – that is, that he was traumatized - most likely is the result of the decade-long exposure to violent primal scenes, possibly coinciding with the experience of being bombed in Berlin in 1944 and 1945, his birth having been entirely normal according to the midwife’s report;

[e] I emphasized Handke’s extreme hatred of his violent German stepfather, his early preference for his mother’s father, the Slovenian “Ote” Sivec, and Handke’s longing for his mother’s dead Slovenian brothers whose war time letters were a Sivec family heirloom, one of many impulses of his to become a writer, and his expressed preference for Yugoslavia, as his land of peace; the advantage that accrued from that avunculate, as it is called in anthropology, also in his passing through the Oedipal phase victorious and with kinder sides; his early turn in a Slovenian and Yugoslav direction; and aversion to matters German;

[f] his early retreat into reading; that is also into fantasy, imagination; an affinity for more than the usual species of denial; and ultimately transfiguration and a very materialistic verbal magic;
[g] his luck, that of an unusually gifted child, in finding a priest to support his wish to attend a boarding school, for priest it happened to be, that offered a better education than did the village of Griffen;

[h] his entering the boarding school for priests, Tanzenberg, where, however, he felt instantly lonely and claimed that this was the first time he felt his life-long nausea at other bodies, one of many reasons for his general asociability; and which he left after four years over a principled disagreement; his then attending the regular public high school in Klagenfurt [Gymansium]; his working in a packing material factory to earn his keep upon entering the University of Graz to study law, his plan being to acquire the customary sinecure of [see photos at:

talented culturers as a cultural attaché [what a joke it would have been on that service to have the socially so inept Handke, with his Tourettish verbal explosions prove the exception to all those diplomatically well trained attachés!] in the event his early dream to be a writer did not permit him to live as one without drudgery; his affiliation to the Graz and Austrian avant garde; his becoming professionally adept in writing for Austrian radio and - though playwriting had not been part of the original plan - quick success in that arena, writing very much to his generations concerns in an unusually playful, succinct and formalist manner, success in acquiring and audience being more gradual, that having been his chief ambition, as a prose writer; his lack of inhibition – a very unusually arranged set of inhibitions overall - at speaking publically and to exhibit himself; his publically insulting, his arrogance; the odd contradiction of someone saying that he was “the new Kafka” and doing so with a happy smile!

[i] I ventured the guess that one of the few benefits that accrued from the constant violent primal scene exposure, for a writer, was the acquisition of an early training in the powerful dissociation so necessary for his discipline, and dreaming too I suppose, for his work also as a self-healing artist; that and insomnia - Napoleon slept four hours a day, it is said, in fifteen minute increments, and I imagine drove his generals crazy; Handke has only driven several wives and live-in girlfriends and one child to despair; and upset the public, usually to good and useful effect; but has published about 65 + books by his 65th year, some of them as great as the victory at Austerlitz! One derivative related to the ability to dissociate would be Handke’s capacity for denial, especially powerful in someone as self-involved in his own identity [in Sorrow Beyond Dreams the metaphor for that is “pulling the covers over my head.”]

[j] the downside consequences of the exposure being the plethora of matters - including a large variety of rages and nauseas, psychosomatic tics - that infuriate Handke – and made him tired - as an adolescent and still, enumerated in great detail in his Essay on Tiredness; as well as the root of Handke’s misogyny – so surprising in the writer of A Sorrow Beyond Dreams - too, can be traced to the decade long primal scene exposure, to the rage the love-child must have felt instantaneously upon what must also have been experienced as an abandonment and betrayal, at age two, in Berlin, and still in evidence during his student days. Nonetheless, we ought not to discount the importance of Handke remaining his mother’s favorite and the intimate complicity that existed between mother and child; his writing her his dream of wanting to be one of her dead brothers; reviving the past; ancestor worship in nuce.

[k] that the example of physical violence, [and the great likelihood of his having been a victim of physical violence as a child himself] and the exposure to violent drunken primal scenes is also one [major] reason for the physical, not just the verbal, violence Handke has committed on occasion, but knowledge of which propensity drives Handke’s extraordinary and pathos drenched yearning for peace and for peaceful forms, for example, in seeking them in geological formations in Alaska [!], or its expression in Nova’s epilogue in his most entirely self-revealing work, Walk About the Villages, that also being one major reason for his turn to lyrical nature description, and the attempt to produce what he calls “ecriture pure”…

[l] that Handke’s covering his eyes with a blanket during these primal scenes – also then symbolically – laid the groundwork for a future tendency in that direction, of scotomization, especially when it affects his identity, as say in - after initially not wanting the Serbian crimes to be true - finally having a surrogate, at the sight of Srebrenica, keep crying out “I don’t want to be a Serb” [not that anyone had asked Handke to be anything but what he was: a half Slovenian Yugo – Southern - Slav for whom, however, the idea of a confederated Yugoslavia, whose ground had become his “amour fou,” and for those madnesses: see Midsummer Night’s Dream… but I am ahead of myself… Also the wish, and then the learned ability, to transfigure, transfigure somewhat, make magical again – a wish in which the society in which he writes is complicit - and in the world such as it is, at least create works of sustained verbal beauty; to make one see the world anew [a didactic quality as well, pointing both to the nature of his super-ego and an identification with a priestly pastoral function]; as well as his unwillingness to represent violence directly on stage, but merely to suggest it, so that we may peek, as he did; in fascination and horror; Handke, however, is not a writer of “make believes”, he creates experiences; and his world of words when he is at his best in his lyrical epics produce uniquely absorbing experiences;

[m] that what Handke in his interview with Herbert Gamper calls his “autism” [autistic episodes], an unlikely self-diagnosis but pointing to curiosity, are for our purposes best understood as hyper sensitivity of each and all of his senses, “the eyes of an eagle,” “the nose of a beagle,” “the finicky taste of a feline;” “the skin of a porpoise,” “the ears of a bat,” and that even his occasional bouts of color blindness – for which he sought out, but failed to find – as of 1980 [Lesson of St. Victoire] - similar afflictions in his Sivec and Schönherr [his real father’s name] family, may be related to this fundamental [unmylated?] hyper sensitivity which at one time forced him to wear glasses to ameliorate what irritated his eyes even in well modulated circumstances; that over-stimulation of his senses, that excess, as well as a finely honed sense of beauty, tht hyper-irritability, another fate of the sons of beautiful mothers, accounts for the nauseas of just about everything that Handke once complained of and suffered – “nausea of the eyeballs” “wanting to turn my body inside out” being his two most extreme expression of those feelings - another derivative of the traumatic childhood exposure to someone so hypersensitive – but also for his preference for aesthetically satisfying experience; and of course the chief reason that he not only seeks out but creates works opposite that experience, in other words that both formally and in every other respect, including women, for his addiction to beauty; aside whatever inborn [?] gifts that will forever be a mystery, at least to me; e.g. there is no telling in this instance what genetic alterations occurred intra-utero; that the fastnesses of the etiology of autism going hand in hand with a brilliant mind are beyond our ken, that is, if the diagnosis Handke received is at all useful except to indicate his extreme hyper sensitivity; although his habit of insulting might point to Monsieur Tourette being a kind of kissing cousin of his, a frequent companion of Señor Autism as he Kaspars his way through life discombulatedly! The kinship Handke feels with idiots!

[n] that even though he called himself the “new Kafka” and the work of his first five years [1965-70: Die Hornissen, Der Hausierer; Radio Play One, quite a few of the poems in Innerworld, Kaspar, even Goalie] gives evidence of fear and trembling, what really distinguishes this work is it’s ultimate victory over fear – a victory it appears that had to be won, and demonstrated, over and over, to the point that he became virtuoso at it;

[o] that he calms himself by writing; and since he is such a libidinal creature, the productivity is near endless [libido has an aggressive component too], a proof it seems of the obverse of the original conversion theory of hysteria: here fear becomes productive: Handke becomes calm, his self is calm where every one else’s trembles; he becomes strong as he writes, that presumably he masturbated successfully during the primal scene [Kohut’s proposition], and thus will come out the victor [except in certain extreme circumstances, see anon]. For the reader and the culture this reconversion is of ultimate importance, because reading his greatest prose texts has a calming, salutary, healing effect on the reader; thus one forgives [silly proposition] the author his so self-involvement, his making himself, his self-states into the life-long subject of his virtuoso productions, of his loving to write, loving himself as a writer more than anything else in the world – since after all, there’s a lot of spill over, a lot of surfeit, and we don’t need to live with the bastard!

[p] One reason that one/ that is “I” can even venture these speculations is because Handke has revealed himself so nearly entirely in his writing, because he is such a huge compensatory wounded exhibitionist: there are not only the novels of his self, the publication of diaries and correspondence during his life time, in the fictions he uses versions of his self, personae, thinly veiled but focused masks, for his particular states of mind, mediums as it were, vehicles, artistic challenges solved. His self-presentation, if he can help it, is shown in the best possible light [i.e. nothing critical of him or his work appears is allowed to appear in any of the many publications about him that his publishers have done]; he poses multifariously like a movie star, as only an exhibitionist can, is hyper-sensitive about his image, both in writing about him and in being photographed; an exhibitionism which, to my thinking, is also of a compensatory competitive nature for the narcissistic psychological injury that the love child suffered from early childhood to early adolescence; the “wound that he writes out of” as he has his surrogate, a raggedy Parsifal of The Art of Asking, exclaim - aside whatever class consciousness and ascendance from the class of Keuschnigs – he once regretted not belonging to any class - plays a part, and being better at the writing game on the order of high composition art than anyone else, and the pride that goes with staying at the world’s best hotels; but for which effort he would lack the strength had he not been a “love child” during his first two years; “wounded love child Peter Handke,” “melancholy player” he called himself once, instead of Ted Dorpat’s “Wounded Monster” [an important psychoanalytic contribution to Hitler studies: it demonstrates the effect on Hitler’s blood lust and need to be in a continuous state of war from the post-traumatic stress at having been in the front line near continuously for five years and keeping bad company as Handke cannot be said to have since he keeps scarcely any company at all, except his own, and has a finely honed sense for the truly dark, including his own dark sides, just read Walk About the Villages with that thought in mind] whereas Handke’s two half-siblings, fathered by Handke’s stepfather Bruno Handke, born to the same unhappy mother, as of birth exposed to the violent drunken father, led rather sad unsuccessful lives, the half brother a petty criminal, now moribund; the sister, a shop employee, dying early of cancer, despite what their older brother’s generosity afforded them;

[q] one major reason for the power, the experience that Handke’s texts and plays provide, perhaps even for his extraordinary dexterity in devising techniques and forms – modernist in that sense and very much of his time while salvaging the past – Goethe Stifter Eichendorf Grillparzer to remain in the German language realm, and so much more - be they of his plays or fictions - derives, I would venture, from the extreme need to communicate from the autistic position, to make contact, to effect and affect, not just from pure lüsternde, overweening lusting ambition and a well schooled talent and drive to exhibit his self: thus the quality of “letters in a bottle” of his texts, the attempt to communicate and in an original, a unique way – after all, that is what comes through most powerfully, that is what encounter with his work produces: states of mind; including the effect of putting the reader into a depressed state of mind but at the end of writing himself and the real reader out of it: thus if the physicians prescribed a Handke book instead of Zoloft or whatever medications are prescribed by the billions per year to keep folks happy under madcap capitalism… how much better the world would be off. Thus his books as well as his plays need to be described first of all as the reader’s experience of them! Experiences to be had only while reading! And for that readers would need to become self-conscious as readers; critiqued by the measure of how well he succeeds in this endeavor, which is also a technically ascertainable question – for example, a work such as The Hour We Did Not Know Each Other [the summa of all his early theater work] takes its readers by the scalp of their syntax and never lets go until the very end; experiencing a performance of the play becomes paradisiacal in the sense that we see the world – and each other – refreshed, anew; with new eyes [the essence of the function of theater, the only real use that art has]; a series of especially autobiographical works – Nonsense + Happiness [1972-74]; A Moment of True Feeling [1974], Across [1984], The Afternoon of a Writer [1986] and One Dark Night I left My Silent House [1996] – are diminished by mystifications, chiefly their refusal to own up to unhappy-making women matters. Other works, that entirely focus on his self – such as Der Hausierer, The Repetition, My Year in the No-Man’-Bay, especially the trip novel/ film The Absence [which I recently found out Handke thinks of his modern retelling of Parsifal] and is devoid of irruptions of violence [except for the loudest tank in literature], the Del Gredos epic – are devoid of the problems that the novelist’s license to lie introduce. Facing the task of needing, initially, to describe the experiences that these works produce, criticism enters a different arena from the usual; and 95 % of the critics have failed their author in that respect. Worst of all, those poor beings, I want to hug them whenever I encounter such a one, who have had their brains ruined by post-modernist studies.

These then are some, most I think, of the psychological coordinates and parameters with which one can address Handke and his work: The sheer productivity – aside the early vision of seeing himself as a kind of 19th century author with a large and varied oeuvre - is over-determined, too. Colleagues insist I need to mention Handke’s psychic bisexuality, his androgynous quality. I myself have never felt easy with this concept [literal-minded me keeps seeing something copulating in the brain!], but since Handke seems able to adapt women personae as a writer too, and identified so closely with his mother, there may be something to that suggestion. The Gruppe 47 folks in 1966 in Princeton said, “Oh, ein Mädchen,” Alan Ginsberg came up to Handke and me at the Pannah Grady party and asked me to translate his wish to fuck Handke [Yes back in 1966! in so many words. Pannah and her hideous beatnik friends who smashed her Persian vases!] and drew a deadly blue eyed Prussian stare from this co-host, while Handke, his English must have been poor at the time, thinking the request was being made of me, evinced that memorable unselfconscious grin of the born again village sadist which the elephant memory affixed in its trunk - a matter that was not cleared up until 1980 where his grin, revealed as having been at my expense, and not, as I had assumed – that world of assumptions that has assumed rule over the world – at his own, then comes out looking that much uglier. Handke being insecure in the matter, over-compensates there too, just look how “male” he then tries to appear in photographs subsequent to the early ones where he shows himself as “the sensitive soul.” In the magnificently narrated Morawische Nacht [Moravian Nights, M.N.], not in English until 2011 at the earliest] which of course is once again, both imaginatively and precisely observed entirely about himself and his various sides we see him with the woman, his feminine side, living inside him [“ma mere c’est moi”] and I happen to know precisely what he means. Handke is someone who can dance in beautifully formal manner only in sentences, Valse triste, I once noticed that he couldn’t dance physically, just shuffle, I myself after my complete regression during analysis then danced like Nijinsky at our downtown converted 25 thousand square foot former, 19th century, Pony Express hangar Area. In M.N. we also notice his own awareness of how entirely impossible he is to live with, and how he needs to have everything around him “just so,” his way; as one might have noticed as early on in the stage direction for his first play, Publikumsbeschimpfung [Public Insult] There he even wants the audience to behave and sit in a particular way, like a table setting; here, in M.N. the half dozen or so “visitors” to the houseboat in the Morava River are arranged just the same way. Given that kind of perfectionism, so necessary for a composition that it written down, the messiness of life will invariably get on such hyper-sensitive nerves; and you don’t want to be either child or wife of such a person. What is surprising, though, is not Handke’s hatred for the improvisational in jazz, but that he has a sense of humor about himself yet is unwilling to be a bit more labile; not that he can’t be accommodating in some matters; anyhow not a totally impossible as Uwe Johnson, or… but the list is endless. But a wonderful quality if you are a translator and want input from the author [see W.A.T.V. translation anon]. Just look at the way Handke, hands in pants pockets, is overseeing the director Bondy as they regard the choreography for Hour:
However, best to my knowledge Handke has not gone Elephant or lion hunting with Ernest Hemingway and Co. to show how “male” he can be; or behave like the usual American insecure idiot male scribbler… Although perfectly ordinary as a person, both in the good and the unpleasant sense of the word, as an artist, as a composer who has words and images and rhythms at his disposal as I prefer to think of him, Handke is utterly exceptional; in the Joyce, Proust, Beckett league. Had he not been so traumatized, he might be Austrian president or at least the leader of the Slovenian minority in Carinthia for whose partisan endeavors toward the end of WW II he just – 2009 – finished writing a long promised epic play “Storm Forever” seems to be the title! To heal yourself and the world and the word with the word is an even more daunting task! Not to be forgotten is Handke’s once, early years as a writer, obsession with the thought of suicide, the only thing of interest in that matter being its indication of unattached unfocused floating violence, a theme through-out his work, the treacherous nearby abyss, the as yet unabated rage, the wish to run amok.
In No-Man’s-Bay Handke writes that it was the distinctions in Roman Legal Punishment code – refined Sadism indeed, the Marquis a piker by compare – that brought – presumably in Law School unless he read these texts earlier – lucidity, i.e. differentiation, into his angry adolescent noggin; he might of course also have mentioned Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, which he evidently knew well enough to use its queries so playfully for the deconstruction of buying and selling etc. in the quite sinister and erotic and utterly brilliant renewal piece The Ride Lake Constance. In his writing indeed, however, the verbal outbursts give no evidence that these distinctions have sunk in very deep even now; which points to Handke’s being at his best when he is in his element, pencil in hand. For me Handke’s only truly objectionable quality is his self-righteousness in, say – I could list dozens of instances - berating Günter Grass, when the latter confessed in 2006 to having let himself be drafted by the Waffen-SS at age 17 makes THE NEWS! [it seemed not to have made waves back in the 1960s] and this event outshines Handke in notoriety while the latter is in Vienna but his reaction is announced via the Spanish paper El Pais: “El escritor austríaco Peter Handke cree que su colega alemán Günter Grass es “una vergüenza” para la comunidad de escritores, después de que reconociera haber pertenecido a las SS hitlerianas
There Handke states that “everyone knew at age 17 what the Waffen-SS did” and his statement about Grass’s “shame” [vergüenza] quickly makes the rounds. The competitiveness of stars where any kind of media news is better than no news at all! As to knowing: well: unfortunately Handke saw children being hit as a child as well as his mother: so if anyone knew, he did, who must be regarded as fortunate for not killing or severely damaging his first daughter’s brain, at age 30, for not having spent years in jail for domestic violence, as he knows only too well – vide Walk About the Villages, but especially the figure of the Bankiéress “terrorist” brother in Del Gredos, ‘what a lucky man’ - listen to the song - he is in having that great talent to write and release and contain some of those dark rages, the criminality, and the fortune that “culture” bestows high accreditation, at least in a Neo-Platonic sense. Or children being exposed to primal scenes at the Rue Montmorency… perpetuating the horrors committed on him! Or beating up women! [Not that you have to be like me and be brought up to be their protector, quite a few of whom then don’t need protecting.] At other, more thoughtful moments Handke will then admit that somehow or other when attacked or on the defensive in the court of his own conscience he manages to twist things so that he keeps coming out the winner! [see Tablas von Damiel written shortly prior to the attack on Grass – instantly forgotten it appears:
Anyhow, it’s nice to know that Handke is on to these sly rationalizations that our minds commit, and that he hasn’t lost all humor about himself. The diary volume Felsfenster has that moment he decides to absolve himself of all guilt - well if it’s as simple as turning a light switch: guilt can also make one thoughtful! After all, that is the lesson of Oedipus, which Handke then translated, magnificently as best as I, who never had Greek [the professor at college from whom I wanted to learn it was demented, and my Latin, too, got ruined, in highschool, by warhorse from Vassar, so I became savy in the lingo of the American street instead.]

II-B: New York 1971

In 1971 Handke and his compadre Alfred [Fredi] Kolleritsch of the Stadtpark Forum, and the actress Libgart Schwartz, Peter Handke’s wife, visit 21 location in the United States in 28 days as cultural representatives of the State of Austria, their child Amina is entrusted to Handke’s mother, Maria Sivec, in Griffen, the ancient province of Carinthia. Upon their arrival in New York, Handke near instantly transfers the threesome from the ordinary Austrian-assigned hotel, on Lexington Avenue just north of 42nd Street I think, to his preferred Algonquin, the abode of successful writers, Handke thought of Fitzgerald. [It took a permanent East German like Uwe Johnson to pick the next door half-price Iroquois and yet stay close to writers!] The visit coincides with the first official performance [there have been quite a few unofficial ones] of two of his plays – Self-Accusation & My Foot My Tutor - at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, headed then by Robert Kalfin, and Handke opines that it was just as well that they were done in Brooklyn. You wouldn’t imagine that someone with that attitude had actually been raised in a Keusche, a near hovel! He also mentions, on brief post performance meeting with the director of the plays, a Herr Schulz, that the fellow is “very dark”, or “at least very German,” the first instance I have of Handke thinking in ethnic categories, and evincing knowledge of “the dark.” I myself happened not only to be Handke’s translator, of all the plays up to and including Ride Across Lake Constance and of the novel Goalie, ex-editor at Farrar, Straus, also ex—director of a little pick up troupe with which and my Sony tape recorder, I ventured to many venues with Public Insult and Self Accusation, but also now Suhrkamp, thus by default, Handke’s agent, and my apartment seems to be regarded as a home away from Suhrkamp, or Siegfried Unseld’s on the Klettenberg Strasse in Frankfurt. Whoever Handke may be as a person, and I had not a clear idea for the longest time [and if you look at his changing mode of dress over the years:
you too might not, except that he seems to be very changeable, nearly like a model] one matter I had become convinced of at that point is his genius as a writer of highly complex texts – the ability to juggle a lot of different oranges at once and in sequence, and for particular purposes: in short: a composer as which his work, particular experiences, is actually more easily comprehended - intense work on performance of which, also with Herbert Berghof and E.G. Marshall at the HB Studio, gave me the notion that in his own strange then chiefly serial way, he is [or certainly was then] in touch with the music of the spheres. [And if you are a woman and also a composer I would fall in love with you, as I once did, and find any possible downsides unimaginable, until reality teaches your fantasies a lesson.] I have met him twice before, once at a party that some acquaintances and I gave for the Gruppe 47, the other time in Berlin, in 1969, to discuss my translation of his Kaspar and the possibility of translating Der Hausierer one of my favorites of his. He was then living in a very unquiet Berlin in an apartment on the Uhland Strasse, filled with stacks of newspapers, and he showed off six month old baby Amina to me, who loves reverting to infant phase, an apartment rented from a German prince of some kind as Teddy Adorno whom I had seen shortly before in Frankfurt had mentioned, and he wanted us to repair to an outdoor restaurant, which seemed perfectly sensible to me under the circumstances of his dark depressing abode, and so we did at once, to an outdoor place
on the Kudamm and when I brought up the name of Adorno Handke said “der arme Adorno”, and I failed to follow up why he might consider Adorno pitiable – perhaps it was because the Adorno lectures at the time was beset by some German yippee types. Handke mentioned that Der Hausierer had lots of quotes from American black mask type detective stories; not only that, the quotes derived from the German editions, and my heart sank at the prospect of translating the quotes back into American; I failed to ask whether he might at least point out the quotes in the book and locate them in the German editions; and - who knows - perhaps he could have, and that wonderful book [his second novel] might have been his first to appear in American, instead of Goalie. We also discussed my translation of his play Kaspar and Handke expressed the wish that I make it even more abstract, especially Kaspar’s initial sentence, which he repeats over and over again, as his only property,
“I want to be like somebody else was once,”
and I then subsequently did that. See:
for a piece on what was involved in translating the early [1965-71] pieces.

The three, Libgart, Peter and Fredi in New York in 1971 are a chipper crew and they do tourist type stuff in New York. Peter and Fredi, I think atop the Empire, on one of the photos at a coin-operated binocular at one of the photo sites:

the photographer is presumably Libgart. Libgart does an enchanting rendition of how you descend in The Ride Across Lake Constance on the staircase of the Austrian Institute. Both Libgart and Peter are camera happy. I know that Handke took one of Kolleritsch and me with our arms around Libgart’s waist and her arms around ours in front of the then already famous Elaine’s, my home away from since my friend Frank Conroy introduced me to it upon my return from Europe around x-mas 1965 but especially again now since the then recent end of my first marriage. I am on the next affair subsequent to my Jezebel was that and nothing else. I give a small party and Libgart notices the flaxen haired professor; not Handke; I myself, son of a socially exquisitely dexterous mother, have a mother hen’s penumbral sense of where everyone is and notice Handke suddenly stepping away from our foursome that includes Stanley Kaufmann and Richard Gilman, his first two intelligent American critic admirers, and squat down by my record player, like a woman, and put on, I think a Beatles record, but haven’t a clue to this odd moment until about twenty years later when I read in Handke confessing in his book length interview with Herbert Gamper that he still has “autistic episodes.” Who knows what proved excessive or insufferably stupid at that moment? Perhaps Gilman had brought up Wittgenstein, his hobby horse when it came to discussing Handke? Perhaps Handke’s diaries record it, Stanley Kaufman is still alive, there’s an idea.
The small gathering having flown the coop, the Handke bird is instantly insulting, his wife seeks to mitigate. It is evident that the marriage between the rasante actress and the genius playwright is on the rocks, she’s ready to split from one day to the next. Handke is oblivious of her, seems married, rather, to Kolleritsch and their literary theorizing, which I, an aficionado of literary theory since early on, however, do not manage to penetrate, with the result… but both Handke and Kolleritsch remain oblivious. I notice Handke nearly throw up subsequent to our meeting with another translator, who is famously ugly physically and eventually manifests the character to fit his hideous face. Upon the threesome’s return from their 21 lectures in 28 days reading jaunt through the United States, the exhausted Kolleritsch is hyper-ventilating on what had been my marriage bed; Libgart, too, is exhausted, and gets the day bed in my work room; fortunately nobody is allergic to cats. Handke seems energized and asks for and I tell him of two well-stocked near-by venues for foreign magazines and papers, Rizzoli’s and a hotel’s and off he goes, presumably to check how he is faring in the German papers. They ask me the impossible - and I throw up my hands - to guess whose autograph they managed to obtain on their trip to Atlanta: Muhammad Ali’s! They also go see a Broadway play and Handke expresses regret at how badly the current incarnation of Lauren Bacall compares with his film recollection of her. Back on the West Coast in the 80s I hear of Handke’s calling people stupid to their faces, the kind of gratuitous, it seems, insulting characteristic of his behavior then – if you read A Short Letter Long Farewell, the picaresque Goddarish novel he set in the, his U S of A shortly after that trip you notice the enragedness in which it is written - and which gratuitousness occasionally, proved costly, e.g. the Contemporary Austrian Literature Review not devoting a special issue to his work; or the fun he made of Reich-Ranicki, who may be a sorry pope of German literary criticism but is still sufficiently formidable to do a lot of damage to your work, since in that respect to his vanity he hasn’t any humor or forgiveness. Pettiness rules in those precincts. [the Reichs-Kanickel as I think of him appears to have made overtures at repair to Handke and have written to him in Salzburg, but the letters were returned. RR, an old Polish post WW II secret service hand, however, could tell that the letters had been opened and resealed!]
Handke, the person continues to puzzle me; the work is artistically lucid, it’s artistic logic I understand then, even better later on; and it is the greater pleasure; of all the very talented people I have known in that field, that however holds true for nine out of ten. But who was I at the time? Well, for one thing I was ready to jump the Suhrkamp representation, Unseld, the Großgauner für die Kultur, as I think of him, and extortionist, and Ritzerfeld, their foreign rights pest who made so many lives difficult, had made themselves thoroughly unrepresentable by the firm through whom I represented Suhrkamp, and by me.

Subsequent to Handke’s return from that month-long reading tour through the United States, Handke wrote, in just a couple of months, A Short Letter Long Farewell [which will become his first best seller novel]. It is very much a U.S. novel, also in deference to Raymond Chandler and Fitzgerald. A.S.L.L.F., however, can scarcely be regarded as an account of his trip. This is a fantasy United States, with its wish fulfillment of meeting John Ford [a film maker Handke much admires], but a fantasy is as capable of being analyzed as a dream. I don’t recall Handke flashing his pen to make a notation in his notebook as he would later, so I have no idea whether he kept one already during those days, but A.S.L.L.F. is not a slavish account, it riffs on certain memories I expect, the one’s that are least laden, Greil Marcus has just written a fine intro to its New York Review of Books Books 2009 re-edition but does not address the fantasy/ reality aspect of the book. However many individual sights the sight collector used, it is a trippy text, and could easily have been made into a Godaresque film. It is the story of a German writer, in company of an Austrian dramaturg – and that is what interest me in this psychological connection - who is being pursued by a wife, and I would venture that the then near alexithymic Handke sensed his wife’s longing for emotional reconnection, perhaps there is some paranoid guilt too, so that her emotional pursuit finds materialized representation in the book as a physical threat. As it might in a dream. Dreams may be difficult to decipher, but dreams do not lie, they may have displacements, condensations, transfigurations, reversals, a grammar all their own, but they are decipherable, and they lead to more than our unconscious, the lead to our whole being. A.S.L.L.F. needs to be experienced as a totality. Lots of scenes with near murder in them. It forebodes Handke’s problematics with women, all of them actresses, of course Goalie’s murder – his just prior novel - of the pickup in the Prater is another instance. Rage, violence near the surface. But productive rage. Only Handke can tell us for sure in what respect the book is autobiographical according to his statement to Gamper that all his work can be unraveled from an autobiographical perspective, or dimension [“aufrollen”], the extent to which the fantasy is a reflection of his state of mind, Marcus emphasized the state of rage, which I had nearly entirely forgotten in this instance. The couple is together at the end but does not reconcile, artistically a perfectly valid ending, yes the possibility exists. It is an open-ended book. There are some photos of Handke and Libgart Schwartz
at that time. Handke looks like an American hippie of the period; when I met him he was dressed and looked like a Beatle. Does he realize that marriage is an irreconcilable threat to the way he needs to live as the kind of writer he knows himself to be?

Handke, it appears, was disappointed by marriage, yet it had been one of his envisionments, anyhow the idea of marriage penetrates our subconscious from early on, as some kind of longing to be in a more complete, other state, than that of being single, and the notion to perpetuate ourselves through children, the ultimate narcissistic act as Freud observed I write living in a city of “breeders”. Why Handke might have high hopes what with having witnessed his mother’s marriage is another matter, perhaps it was his grandfather’s far superior one that he had in mind, or just a sense. A child also was part of the picture he had made for himself. However, at that time, he seemed like the most neglectful husband, and was sleeping around, yet jealous when his affairs had other lovers. And since he was a kind of rock star in Germany in Austria, benefits accrued. The wife, however, becomes a kind of mother figure, someone taken for granted, a new edition of his home life; and she is there no matter how many romantic adventures he engages in, and in that respect is fundamentally more important. Soon Gibraltar will crumble! See the long foot note at the
and also at:

where all the long footnotes can be found, of Isolde Schaad’s take on women figures in his texts.
In Fall 1971 Handke is arrested while trying to enter an over-filled hall in Graz - for “insulting the honor of the police” – he called them Nazis - to give a reading of one of his own texts. I can see it now: “I am the reader, you moron!” “I have my orders… Here, read the Fire law.” Something along those lines will happen once more during his Salzburg years, and this time he records his aggrieved pride: see his account of it in Langsam im Schatten.
And then his mother commits suicide, and he has already left the Berlin of the noisy demonstrations, lives in a house some friends have lent him, in a wealthy enclave Kronberg and is working on the play They Are Dying Out, a farce with serious moments, a kind of send-up of the New Left gibberish, too, and in short order he will write, opportunist that he is, what will become his most famous book, the so revelatory, not only of his mother’s life, Sorrow Beyond Dreams, tippling white wine, and at one time becomes so irritated by his approximately three year old baby daughter’s crying while he is in the flooding basement of the bungalow [see: A Child’s Story] that he smacks baby Amina [“shut up”] and could of course have killed or permanently injured her. [Later, Amina Handke will state that she recalled the smack.] Handke will snap at other times as well, a man of very short fuses: in his 2008 novel Moravian Night he owns up to the truth of his ex-live-in [Salzburg] girlfriend Marie Colbin’s statement about him during the Handke-media skirmish that was waged parallel to the wars in Yugoslavia : See Colbin footnote,1518,24228,00.html

I was a bit shocked at the degree of violence, though not totally surprised because by that time, in 1994, the time of Colbin’s declamation, I had begun to appreciate the consequences of the kind of primal scene violence Handke had been exposed to, although the shortness of the fuse was not necessarily connected to that; had taken note of the rage and violence in various texts going back to Der Hausierer [which has a barely concealed bloody primal scene lying at the heart of it], the rage and violence in Short Letter, and of course had translated it in Goalie where Josef Bloch strangles his pick-up at the moment he sees water boiling on the hotplate, like ants [a great metaphor for rage boiling over if there ever was one]: hyper-sensitivity, nausea, a near constant stage of rage that tired him especially as an adolescent, on the verge of the outbreak of psychosis at nearly all times; but able to calm himself by writing, redirecting those energies. Besides, I had had some serious experiences with my man [see anon] by that time and had heard, in Los Angeles, of the difficult Colbin/ Handke relationship from an Austrian film person who had worked on their Duras film adaptation:

“In the space of a short 65 minutes, a woman [Colbin] enters the luxury apartment of a wealthy man [Handke] with an eccentric fascination for the female form and is paid both for her sexual favors and for lying there naked and letting him examine the aesthetics of her body. For most of the hour, as the concise narration of Marguerite Duras' novel on eroticism and aesthetics fills the aural gaps, actress Marie Colbin's form fills the visual gaps. But unless viewers consider the feminine eyeball or microscopic views of skin exotic and worth lingering over, the eroticism lies more in the imagination than on the screen. In fact, the female body lying on the bed, taken away from the spirit that animates it, is really just a corpse - raising the question, exactly what is the "malady of death?"
~ Eleanor Mannikka, All Movie Guide

Marie Colbin’s entry in
makes no mention of the Handke film! He has been written out of the life of someone who literally [if I can believe my Serbian grapevine] pursued him for years and years after their breakup all over Salzburg, from pub to pub, which perhaps explains why “the writer” in The Afternoon of a Writer [1987] has to head all the way to the outskirts of town to get a drink and meet his Serbian friend! Marie then makes frequent appearance in his books as the Eurynje, the Fury!

My L.A. informer, after I mentioned to her my outplaying Handke at Tarot in Salzburg, said, he doesn’t like that at all, but then allowed that “he can be great at times”; matters in which we concurred. In the late 70s already I had made it a point, if at all possible, not to be alone with Handke; or as briefly as possible, sought a third to be present. I sensed something sinister, something seriously awry [see anon]; but, as he writes in Walk About the Villages, he can empathize at remove, as a matter of fact I have never known anyone to pick up vibes that I gave off in letters and of which I myself was quite unaware [my general state of mind]; thus Handke would be, is useful as an analyst or a long distance early warning system. He knows himself exceedingly well, but there is only that much you can do to change yourself.
Eventually, I then gave him and his work more thought than I initially thought I would and this is yet one other aspect of that labor. I was not all that surprised at Colbin’s statement, whose truth I didn’t doubt for a second, because I had learned to appreciate what being exposed to a criminally violent stepfather for an entire decade might do to anyone, not just someone with Handke’s extreme sensitivities and the capacity to be easily insulted and wish to dominate and control those in within his immediate ken. I expect there have been other incidents. However, in Handke’s case something of the being of stepfather Bruno appears to have been absorbed, spilled over: I am not positive that the analytic concept of identification with the aggressor does the trick here. Anyhow, it would seem to be too facile in explaining a fairly complicated process.
So far we don’t know what ticked him off at Marie Colbin or why he hated her so much that he wanted to kill her… or what she did to provoke him, if anything. Perhaps she was as stubborn as a Fury in other matters, as head strong, she looks exquisite, she had left school early and had become a successful actress, had a marriage behind her. She becomes “the woman” whom he met on the bridge of “A Touch of Evil” in No-Man’s-Bay, which in fact was a bridge across the river Salzach in Salzburg. Eye candy she used to be!
As with his daughter, as with Bloch’s cashier, it might have been something very slight at the moment, a stressful moment perhaps, that the trigger went off - mountain boots – during a mountain hike? - no doubt he was already in one of his states of rage; when isn’t he? The only thing that would excuse Handke would be if he had acted in physical self-defense. She appears to be on the petite and delicate side. See the photo of the group of men, Austrian politicians, with Handke, who has brought his girlfriend “Oh what a pretty girl friend, Handke has!” they no doubt all said, however, the Duras film venture seemed not to have come off;

Just as I was writing this in February 09 I received a link to pages from the Handke-Born correspondence that are accessible on line:\HK0w8o&hl=de&ei=CDmxSdvlCYye0AXCr4iMAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=4&ct=result#PRA1-PA349,M1
where it becomes evident that Handke and his long-time Paris amour Jeanne Moreau seem to have fought like dog and cat in 1973-74. “Moreau was the better fighter,” Handke kept saying during those years, and I sure didn’t imagine that he meant that the were fighting mano a mano; one tough French broad, a wildcat a tigress! whom he must have met at one of the wonderful French production of Ride or T.A.D.O. which had Gerard Depardieu as Quitt [see in drama photos where the great monster has Kilb the minority stockholder in a head hold, sweat box!]. What astonishes me is the SHEER AND UTTER NORMALCY in Handke’s thinking that lovers or husband and wives beat each other up! Is that par for the course of Carinthia? Of course you, too, would think it perfectly normal if you had witnessed fights of the kind as Handke did, for years on end, between his mother and his stepfather: “Beat me again you bastard.” Anyhow, Handke liked Moreau well enough that he used her in his film Absence later on; even wrote in an extra part for her who must have been far more experienced, too, in the making of films and fighting the likes of Belmondo and various silly French machos. Perhaps she knew how to beat up men, or at least come out as an equal! It wouldn’t surprise me. I never met her during my visits to Handke in Paris, but the then five or six year old Amina once proudly displayed a brooch that Moreau had given her: keep the child happy who is living with an exhibitionist for a father, then wants to be acknowledged for being worthy of a gift. “Shit, I forgot to bring the kid something.” shot through my head.

Handke has said the reason why he keeps affiancing himself to actresses is because they are “light,” or “lighter.” Thinking on what that might mean in the case of someone who is both so beauty-oriented and of a depressive nature, I connect it with the title of his first published diary, Weight of the World: indeed a beautiful woman helps defray depression I suppose; not only that, a man himself will look better in the company of a pretty woman, she reflects on to him; it makes him look better, lighter; and actresses can be considered to be play-acting, i.e. not completely real, perhaps “as if”… are also in that respect less “weighty”… and of course more graceful than… and thought of their womanly neediness and materialism might just disappear! Then I think of the moment when Handke wouldn’t SHOW me the re-imported first wife, Libgart Schwartz, as punishment for having beaten him at Tarot on the Mönchsberg, I realize how profoundly “for show” the wives were/ are [and how awful that must be at least for those who want to be more than showroom models to make the unfortunately compulsively badly self-imaged look better], but also realize that all of Handke’s beautiful things are acts of generosity that are offered, shown to us as gifts… performances… but also to be admired; and since he so closely identifies with them…: within those transactions between author and audience, where the author might withdraw and sulk if he is not sufficiently appreciated…- However, an actress, unless doubling as a French saint while with Peter Handke, will be more demanding and needy than an “as if,” and so the reasons why he as a writer who works at such a high level of concentration is not to be recommended as a mate… are over-determined, too. Handke’s second wife, Sophie Semin, was a model when he met her in Paris, who instantly wanted to become an actress [see anon] and left him when he had foisted this French actress onto Peymann for his production of The Play about the Film about the War, shades of Citizen Kane I suppose, or maybe she begged him, and maybe she’s even talented; and Peymann is not someone who can say no to Handke. Handke’s last publically known major relationship was with the German T.V. and film star Katja Flint. Handke said at the time – it was a commuting relationship – that maybe not living together it might work. It did for a few years, and Ms. Flint, not having had to suffer living with our man, continues to express fondness for him. So presumably she was not beaten up and did not suffer the misery of having to live as a cave dweller for any length in the aboriginal Forêt de Chaville outside Paris where even the closest friends, currently, are taken for instant walks, while only the media are permitted access to the author pro domo and he will cook up a feast for a TV crew. Note our author displaying himself in the two photos of him in his door way. As he has written many a time: “Stay in the picture.” The only bad news for a model is no photo-op.

Violence and the observation of bloody deeds marks Handke’s work – they jut out - suddenly - like the chain-wielding Alaskan Indian in A Slow Homecoming [is this an intuitive artistic touch to disrupt the idyll? or based on having made the mistake of a pass at an Indian maiden? But finer artistically for remaining in the realm of mystery and imagination.] Asked about this incident, Handke said this was an irruption of history. As I noticed during the time I spent at Indian villages along the Yukon: indeed, these men, so great in the field, from whom you learned so much in the forest, once back home and having tanked up at the one village on the big river with a liquor store, beat up their wives, and then their wives beat them up, and when you hear the tethered huskies howl at night like wolves… Indians, too, lack the gene to produce the enzyme that breaks down alcohol. I suppose that is history too.

The murderous and righteous impulses of the “case,” as the once again Amok-running Loser is described in the otherwise idyllic Handke’s Salzburg novel Across, tearing off political posters and tossing a rock and killing the old Nazi on a spot on the Mönchsberg that I know quite well [see anon] at the very place where an enraged Handke once dropped me off with the words “this is the spot where unhappy Salzburg poets commit suicide!” - after I had outplayed him at Tarot and with panache [I was in rare over-drive from having returned, I thought victorious in having made a peace after four hard week’s work in Bulgaria! See the Bulgaria footnote] – there is something pathetic I realized even then before I translated his confession to being sometimes the most pathetic of creatures [one reason that I translated the dramatic poem with such fervor was that it also enumerated so much of myself, that it is such a great suction projection mirror] that therefore … he wouldn’t show me the apparently re-imported, briefly, it seems, Libgart; who I didn’t know had been the person who answered his telephone: I sort of saw him with a secretary at that point, the way he had worked his way up from that fairly miserable prince’s apartment in the Uhland Strasse in Berlin in 1969 via the Kronenberg Bungalow and from the Rue Montmorency basement apartment to the smallish Gründerzeit Castle in the Meudon section of Paris where Lefthanded Woman was filmed, to the villa on the Mönchsberg. Handke, the Yuppie!
But then he asked, in the rhetorical way that parents have, whether I would ever grow up, and my replay was a fervent “never,” he, this petulant child, who hadn’t really the faintest what I was saying with my acting out [as I didn’t myself until years later] replied “that’s all right”… which took the edge off… and we could have laughed I suppose.

Talking about man/woman relationships in Handke’s works: Ride Across Lake Constance is drenched in sexual aggressiveness in a young crew; aside the murder in Goalie there is in They Are Dying Out Dying the relationship between the protagonist Quitt and Quitt’s wife whose sole identity is “Quitt’s wife” and with the business woman Paula Tax that Quitt evidently had an affair with. T.A.D.O. is a serious farce that continues the dismembering language games of Ride on the different level of Left and Marxist lingo but estrangingly in the mouths of a variety of business clowns who have now found their roles: it is [a] a goodbye send-up to the German Left, its hyper-intellectualized lingo, that is put into the mouths of a variety of business types, whom Handke detests with equal vigor and Raimundesque sense of humor, and I suppose also part of his goodbye to the Berlin of the loud rallies and of the “Bullen” that he also notes in A Child’s Story. Aside these considerable hilarities, T.A.D.O. contains [b] the first serious intimations of a home coming to a Stifterian mode in writing, intimations of transfigurations to come; a send-up of ashcan lower depths playwrights, Handke specifically had Kroetz in mind [see my Kroetz footnote at the
which however related more to my unhappy experience with this greedy Schlitzohr; and [c] acrimonious fight scenes between mogul Quitt and businesswoman Paula Tax are indicative that my man is wise to the Scylla and Carbides of marriage and affairs; the sleepwalking mad-woman wife [played to perfection by the director Carl Weber’s mad wife at the U.S. Yale Drama School premiere in 1979], would seem to have been observed from the behavior of his publisher’s consort, Frau Unseld, overwhelmed by all that Teutonic energy that will swim cross the Black Sea in the morning and the Caspian in the afternoon. The play lacks the cleansing effect of the procedures of Ride if only because it has a “story” of sorts and a real ending: Quitt’s huge ego has Dr. Siegfried Unseld [a would be monopolist who had announced he would take over all of German Belles Lettres] and Handke’s swollen head as their source, and Handke is nicely humorous about himself smashing Quitt’s big victorious head on a rock full of slithering snakes! Nothing that any mogul at the height of success has ever done!

The 1974 A Moment of True Feeling [the devastation that greets Keuschnig one transformative morning might seem motivated – but not explain the shock - if we knew that Handke was devastated when his neglected wife split, shortly after his mother’s suicide]. But if he wrote that story we would be in the realm, say, of an Ingmar Bergman film… or the standard soap opera… and he might have had to give some thought to… why it “takes two to tango” or not. Ditto for the 1984 novel Across which would seem a lot less mysterious, or IS a lot less mysterious now that we have Marie Colbin’s account of the end of their relationship. Ditto for the 1986 The Afternoon of a Writer: why might there be a “former friend”? Ditto for the 1996 One Dark Night I left my Silent House where a woman disparu is also very much in the “Pharmacist’s” background. In the great 1992 No-Man’s Bay there are allusions to walking the bridge between Ciudad Juarez and El Paseo in the film A Touch of Evil, which would seem a more grandiosely fitting metaphor for the Colbin Handke relationship than his encountering that considerable beauty, first, on a modest bridge across the Salzach [I know both bridges, the one linking Juarez/ El Paseo nearly like the back of my hand and some Mexican street urchins once stole my hat, which they either fancied or whose theft was a challenge to the forever Indios as M. and I were walking back to El Paseo!]; and No-Man’s-Bay has mention of receding man woman fights, another vengeful woman as in Short Letter Long Farewell! The brief self-serving recit in Night on the subject of “the modern woman” indicates our lord’s wishes in that respect [see the essay length FN by Isolde Schaad on the subject
and I would have to say that fate handed him a raw deal in that respect: he missed the many pleasures afforded by liberated women who are no longer entirely man oriented.
Matters are different, and for my taste, better, in plays such as W.A.T.V. where Handke needs to objectify the relationships; and transfigures his parents hideous relationship into that of a pioneer couple; and his fondness for older women and appreciation of miserable working condition are viewed through such a much finer lens than any Kroetz could ever with his manipulation of feelings and exploitation of the audience; and W.A.T.V. probably incorporates his sister’s typical experiences as a shop girl, at any event, the lives of its characters are viewed with astonishing sympathy as are those of his construction worker brother and friends back in Griffen; and of older women, such as his Slovenian grandmother… that is, it is both rooted in real experience and somewhat transfigured while marvelously observed. As a drama it seems to be a hybrid between socialist realism and the mythic cast in the alternating discourse of Euripides and Goethe, high style in simple language for the life of the so-called simple people who “run under the wind” and with some of the most cutting critiques Handke has ever written, too. And then you get the great plays The Art of Asking and The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other. I myself find these dramas stronger than many of the contemporaneous novels except for No-Man’s-Bay. They are not marred by intrusions of our author’s psychological liabilities, the novel/ tale/ epic screen play Absence [1987] isn’t either.
The 2002 Crossing the Sierra del Gredos, like Left-Handed Woman [1976], features a woman as Handke’s prism. Whereas L.H.W., autobiographically, may be a bit of wish fulfillment in the sense it would have been easier for Handke to accept his first wife’s leaving if she had proceeded in such a gentle manner, of pointing out that she needed to live by herself; that is, the very opposite of the shock that she administered in real life, it contains a wonderful brief scene of the ex-husband and his buddies peeing in unison: ah memories of my part village childhood and who could piss the farthest in the penis competition. Let no one say that Handke is entirely “unpsychological minded”! Ditto for his knowledge of how Oedipally fraught his relationship with a son he never had but might have and had hoped for is detailed in No-Man’s-Bay. What always fascinated me was Handke’s saying that while writing the story of the Left-Handed Woman’s [also retreat from a sexual not just married relationship] he kept seeing no end of porno flicks in Paris! I am not sure what to make of that back story, perhaps Handke will do a rewrite of one of “The Temptation of St. Anthony” or some other saints these days!]
The “publisher” who appears to fetch a manuscript from “the woman”, recently divorced and a translator [as Handke was becoming too, to see what that involved], bouquet in hand, is none other than Handke’s publisher Dr. Siegfried Unseld, who receives the appropriate, legerdemain, negative x-ray, portrait – our man is back in the finest of writing fettle at this point! So Handke’s comment to Herbert Gamper that “all this can be unrolled from an autobiographical perspective,” needs not so much granum salis, as to be, then and in each instance, imaginatively construed! Like dream analysis! Reversals, day residues, displacements and the like! [Asked how Unseld felt about this negative x-ray portrait, Handke told me that he was proud, whereupon I emitted a perhaps memorable “grr” sound.]
Yet Handke does not need to write an autobiography, it can be puzzled together, laboriously sometimes, taking it’s central work, My Year in the No-Man’s Bay as the starting point, and then you see that the idea for this book, or possibly to live in the Forêt de Chaville, most likely originated at the moment that Handke, living in Meudon, where L.H.W. is set, discovered a rabbit run that would lead him there. [see my long essay on M.Y.I.N.M.B. @:
L.H.W. becomes the one book of Handke’s that women really like! It is a manifestation also, I would say, of his regaining his feminine side, which - to use shorthand – are his words “Ma mêre, c’est moi.” So her suicide, which for all I know might also have been experienced as an attack on him, did not knock that out of him, nor did the being left by his wife. “Good riddance, all the time in the world to write” I expect, helped assuage the insult to the system somewhat!
The sometimes rather hoydenish Bankiéress of Del Gredos has her split-off darker side in the form of a terrorist brother [a necessarily and complementarily – to the protagonist – grandiose criminal] who keeps popping up at the oddest moments, a theme that remains unresolved in the book, unless you feel that the great love scene at the end between Bankiéress and the fellow off in the La Mancha who has narrated her story in this almost analyst adhesive to each moment of her thought movements extra-sense perceptory monitoring [self-monitoring] manner, is more than the ultimate of self love! That is that Handke loves writing more than anything else – well, why shouldn’t or wouldn’t he, since it not only afforded him a spectacular career but is like a drug that keeps him well.
The bankiéress does have a husband, or husbands in her past… and children for whom she cares and recalls “carrying under her heart.” If you are interested on my very long take on this book, reading of which for the third time and then writing about it made for several months of the utmost of concentrated pleasure and mental health in late 2008, I can send it to you or you can look it up on line at: or at the handke discussion blog.

Colbin is also spot on in the matter of Handke’s exhibitionism and she most likely witnessed its entire spectrum [see anon]: but lacking that powerful, aggressive as well as pathetic impulse, the ambition - I will never forget a lüsternen look I saw on Handke’s face at Princeton at some point, I associated it with the presence of Max Frisch, and I think Inge Feltrinelli was nearby: It was a look of animalistic envy and ambition as I only saw once again in my life - it has occurred to me - would we have the work? And she is also right I expect when it comes to Handke being “one-eyed” – and again: but what if he weren’t, being who he is, either he lounges around and is bored, so he has said many times, or entirely obsessed with whatever project. Single-eyed, after all, he’s no Rabelais! It is a kind of protean self, but not that kind.

I had one experience that might approximate Handke’s being “one-eyed [aside those boring and brief visits to his place in Paris to which I will come]: During an utterly idyllic snowy night’s walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, during which Handke failed to pull out his notebook and flash his pencil! [this is late 1977 or early 78] to visit the author Michael Brodsky: Handke had returned from Alaska and San Francisco and Colorado and had settled in a room on one of the top floors of the Hotel Adams at 86th at Fifth and Madison Avenues on Manhattan’s Upper East Side for some months to write A Slow Homecoming.

The experience of writing a book in New York cured Handke of any thought of living there. I had even checked out several French lycés where he thought to enroll Amina if he moved there. As a matter of fact, he went nearly entirely mad at the inception of the book, he had carried it’s opening sentence:
“Sorger had outlived several of those who had become close to him; he had ceased to long for anything, but often felt a selfless love of existence and at times a need for salvation so palpable it weighed on his eyelids.” reads Ralph Mannheim’s rather inept translation of that sentence of the German which fails to capture the rhythm of that pathos drenched opening, he had carried this sentence – it is ONE sentence in German - around with him for some years, but this proved to be a case of Beethoven having the “Da da da” of the Fifth Symphony in his head, but then being unable to proceed.

Since Handke had proved so inhospitable - quite aside the reason that I did not really want to be alone with him, that as a person he had begun to spook me, and that I knew he was always writing - I only saw him a couple of times once he was installed in a neighborhood I knew only too well since the summer of 1955. Had matters been other, I might have taken him along to one or the other of my neighborhood pubs and clubs – CBGB’s, the MUDD, once I knocked off work around midnight. I think it was a girlfriendless period for me, no great paramour, though not for all that long, until the summer of 79. Handke from what he has written about his existence in the Hotel Adams got in such a state that he had some anxiety pills prescribed – the only time he claimed in a recent interview, seeming to forget the valium of 1974 that he had taken after his hospitalization episode. Recently
Handke claims that he is a superb liar. I would say that as a liar he is an idiot, he is a superb dramatist and prose writer when he is on his game, which is most of the time. The contradictions between his claims, most of these are in defense of his vanity, are attempts at self-stylization, do not wash even within the internal evidence of the published work. When he puts his mind to it, as in Sorrow Beyond Dreams [Wunschloses Unglück] and A Child’s Story [Kindergeschichte] he can be truthful, to the point of the most unpleasant revelations about himself. His proclivity for denial is only too human in the sense of wishing not to hear that, say, the beloved is really a strumpet. In other respects, Handke knows what knowable reality is only too well, the overwhelming facts. He is anything but a fantast.
Handke felt he had failed with the fragment A Slow Homecoming [Langsame Heimkehr] he said to his then editor at Farrar, Straus, Nancy Meiselas. He had had some grand plan for something on the order of a “Staatsroman” it appears; and thus A.S.H. remains fragmentary, two of the greatest sections he has ever written, the one on Alaska [see my Alaska note for why reading this chapter in particular proved such a whelming experience for me]
and San Francisco, a couple of other slightly weaker ones and then the book trails off.
Handke got so lonely it appears while he blessed those below in Central Park from his perch high up in the Hotel Adams, at night he went down into the hotel’s huge lobby – it runs from Madison Avenue all the way to Fifth Avenue – and talked to the night man! Some finishing touches appear to have been put to the book at Siegfried Lenz’s place in Germany where Handke went to recover from the New York experience. In My Year in the No-Man’s-Bay he makes rather cheap, in my estimate, fun of the way he belittles the “writers” problematics in the there memorialized Hotel Adams which I knew mostly from the 50s for its barber shop and a breakfast joint and then for once picking up Handke in his room to go out to dinner.

During our idyllic walk across the Brooklyn Bridge – there really is nothing finer in New York when a light dry snow is falling at night - I wanted to share a few Alaska anecdotes, but Handke mentioned that he was full up, and I told myself that I understood that, yet the mother hen that I can be was troubled by the prospect that he might write about Alaska – that’s all I was told about the project - after just a couple of fairly short visits… But he had at least read McPhee’s book on Seward’s Folly I was relieved to hear, still it seemed like an awfully audacious undertaking… Yet Norman Mailer had gotten a good drift of the flora there in an equally short time for his Why Are We in Vietnam, and Mailer, a city boy, was not known for being especially responsive to nature… I had caught on to the fact that Handke was always writing and so you left him alone to that fate and looked forward to what might come. Genius, so Henry James, consists of absorbing fast.

As to being single-minded, one-eyed: I cannot recall a single question during our maybe altogether dozen plus meetings and about seventy five letters asking a single personal question, although, at a distance, he was amazingly perceptive as to my own varied states of mind during that adventurous period. As to his forgetting, he had also that it had been I who had written him that “winters in New England are like winters in Bavaria, winters in Colorado are like winters in the Alps, winters in Alaska are something else entirely.” Not that it took me to point out the problematic splendors of Alaska. As to forgetting, also of the convenient [?], psychopathology of the everyday kind [?] see anon…

As to saying that Handke “is nothing but a vain scribbler” Ms. Colbin appears to have forgotten that she was once the public reader of her once lover’s texts and that she once loved what vanity produced. But if Handke wonders why he needs to put in his text that he has as many enemies as he has, he only need contemplate some of the things he has done, and not out of vanity.


And then, not that long after Handke’s mother commits suicide, his wife Libgart Schwartz disparu [“the worst thing that ever happened” he told a mutual acquaintance, a woman. I would say: not by a long shot of the decade long childhood trauma, but perhaps since]. The language regulation for this event becomes that Libgart has decided to resume her acting career, which the slightly older Libgart cannot be said to have ever dropped. She had just recently acted in the film that Wim Wender’s made of Handke’s Goalie. Libgart Schwartz and Peter Handke are legally divorced many years later, just prior to Handke consummating his second marriage with a wedding trip [some wedding trip!] with the first of his Yugoslav war adventures which will result in the book A Winter’s Journey to the Rivers: Or Justice for Serbia during which his second legal wife, Sophie Semin asks that famous question, indicating Handke’s awareness of his proclivity for denial, “and so you doubt that, too” [referring to the shelling of Dubrovnik – see anon] and see:
the Milosevic controversy summarized]

Handke’s second wife Sophie Semin also leaves Handke, around the time of the premiere of The Play about the Film about the War [1999] in Vienna where this model turned actress had a part, for a fellow actor, but without eliciting the same kind of fugueing disastrous consequences for my pasha’s pride as the first of at least one other disappearance, that of Marie Colbin, did. Handke said in an interview that he was not at all happy about Semin’s leaving. However, my Serbian grape vine has it that he already had a Serbian for a main squeeze at that time and that Ms. Semin and daughter Laocadie had already moved out of the unhappy-making Forêt de Chaville abode. - “Quelle horreur!”]

Thus, in the early 70s, Handke not only looses both mother and wife in short order but becomes house mother father to a most constraining but ultimately salvaging infant child [more on that anon, too]; his life disintegrates at a moment when he is at the peak of early success - he must have had two or three bestsellers at that time: Short Letter Long Farewell, A Sorrow Beyond Dreams and Innerworld of the Outerworld, and his plays are all the rage! And he had accomplished all this – a life’s work for many a genius – in little more than five years! And our jaunty haughty enraged fellow is laid low. And it takes him about another five years to hit a new and quite different stride. At least money is not a problem nor is time for himself, although in fact all that time by himself may be t h e problem of problems in the sense that he can dwell and noodle and doodle at length in his state of misery, which he might not at a job, on these blows which then elicit a prolonged and severe nearly five year crisis, personally, and in his work, which now becomes more immediately personal, or at any event: very differently and more directly auto-biographically tinged than were his prior self-state revealing works
Handke writes himself out of this crisis, sort of - let us never forget that the Handke writing machine needs to write most of the time to stay calm and well and so heals himself - which lasts from Fall 1971 – from Sorrow Beyond Dreams to The Left-Handed Woman - about 1976 “with a little help” [a therapeutician in Paris, a panic attack and brief hospital stay, some pills, Valium] – “working through” an analyst would call these series of attempts, a writer’s, a very particular writer’s way of working through – especially the three long poems in Nonsense and Happiness and the suicidal novel A Moment of True Feeling and the collection of spontaneous diary entries that is Weight of the World [W.O.W.] as a way to regain control, and get to the fulfillment of long-laid plans, and some, but limited, self-understanding: I think if you read or re-read W.O.W. it might occur to you that the writer of this cumulation of mostly depressive entries [which however surprisingly ends for me and some other readers in lifting us out of the depressive state that this nearly preternaturally depressive’s text has put you in] might conclude that he needed to change his life, as Handke then gradually did. [“Working through”, the labora verimus of the procedure, involves, using Freud’s metaphor, the gradual examination of the numerous bone fragments – and their dimensionality is nearly legion - that a fracture leaves in its wake. My proposition is that through writing Handke more or less accomplished what is called “working through,” halfway, imperfectly, as we can see how much the same person, though a far better writer Handke is, by the time of Across [Chinese des Schmerzens] in 1984, at which point a painterly element has become part of his style. He regained his self-control, as a writer he can not be said to have lost it, though I have no idea how many drafts it took so that he felt the three poems of N+H and A.M.T.F. were what he wanted. The plan for A Slow Homecoming seems to have been hatched during the period of recovery, though the idea of Alaska I think is much earlier even…

One question to which I do not have the answer, only a suspicion, is whether Libgart Schwartz left with or for another man, which would have been more injurious to my pasha’s pride. My guess is yes, and is so for two reasons: it was evident in New York in 1971 that any half-way attractive man’s slightest beckoning would have sufficed for the neglected and insulted “woman” to split from the obnoxious and neglectful hero of Short Letter Long Farewell, who though he evidently sensed her emotional longing [expressed in the novel as a physical pursuit] was unable to or chose not to respond; my second guess being that the way “The Left-Handed Woman” in the novella withdraws from her husband into tending her self and translating would have been a far less painful and shocking and more acceptable and comprehensible way of going about the leave-taking than what actually occurred, an admirable way of going about achieving independence from my man’s writerly perspective and self-interest, and thus a bit of wish fulfillment entered the imaginative conception of L.H.W., one of Handke’s chief strengths, the “as if,” those artistically useful states – products of the imagination are as capable of being analyzed as dreams, and like dream analysis come to an ultimately inconclusive end at the navel whence they have issued - may play into that so wonderfully and concretely imagined reversal which otherwise is bereft of profoundly autobiographical elements – but shows the extent of Handke’s ability as a writer to imagine what it is like to be a single woman, and that Handke used his Meudon view of gently rolling Paris hills and the general setting – also in the film - to become less constrained, more open-hearted, - tightness around the chest is another of Handke’s psycho-somatic symptoms - especially to become the kind of mytho-poeic writer that we see him becoming already in Short Letter Long Farewell: thus, the works of the 1971-76 period represent a break from the prior endeavors that resume with Left-Handed Woman and A Slow Homecoming. Handke’s childhood past, its consequences caught up with him then; not just his anaclytically absorbed depression, and the decade long anxiety inducing exposure to violent primal scenes,
his hypersensitivity makes him especially injurable to this sudden double nay triple whammy. The simple fact that he is the cause, at least of his wife’s leaving, even if that thought occurred to him, would provide little relief. It isn’t that he’s been victimized by a woman who really hates men; he is just one of those men who might lead some women to hate men, big diff!

The three sequential poems, Life without Poetry, Blue Poem + Nonsense and Happiness, the [title of the American edition
composed over a three year period, I am going to regard here from the perspective of the psychological phenomenon called fugueing.
This condition, fugueing, a term also appropriate to these so musical musings, usually results from severe mental stress and may persist for several months [years in Handke’s case] and if one reads the three poems in succession – which were written in approximately sixty day periods each in the years 1972, 1973 and 1974 – three times the same tack in three years - one can tell what specific diurnal rhythm the fugueing had each day for Handke, these “nonsense attacks” over and over again, relieved by sudden disappearance, and reappearances, quite enough to drive anyone over the edge who is at their mercy, who is BEING LIVED BY THEM… and which appear to become progressively more severe. Moreover, what makes fugueing especially unpleasant is the inability to have any control over these states of mind, control being something that had become Handke’s forte, as you can see in Innerworld, and the early fear-overcoming works. [See the very long footnote at:
on “Turk” [Singular and Plural] one of the poems from Innerworld where I try to show what the author does for himself [and an empathic reader] in overcoming an incursion of anxiety, exemplary for many works of that period, from Der Hausierer, to Radio Play One, My Foot My Tutor, etc, etc.] These are very concrete manifestations of how Handke the artist becomes surrogate.
Not only does Handke fugue in and out of depressive states that verge on the suicidal into idyllic moments in these three long poems, but his hyper-sensitivity, now especially wounded, becomes hyper-irritated, irritations apparently entirely mood dependent, surfacing from what we would call the system unconscious. Yes, reading these three poems in sequence as I did again just now you would call them first of all moody, but also musical, filled as they are with murderous and suicidal moments, disgust, extreme nausea, hyper irritations, feelings of utter worthlessness and nonsensicality. Nearly all the same matters that he cites in his Essay on Tiredness as enraging and then tiring him as an adolescent also appear in this instance. The first of these poems, Life without Poetry, initially manifests to me the same mood or lack thereof, the same deadened state of mind in which Sorrow Beyond Dreams was composed in late 1971, it issues out of that experience. Life was also written at about the time he did the acceptance speech for the Büchner Preis – the wish for a phenomenologically registering writing, along the line that he practices instead of the then prevalent political attacks via actionist concepts. The use of the word “concept” is a bit puzzling, since no end of words can be said to be mental concepts of what they signify. Handke means, first, the occupation by slogans, of a political kind, during this fervently leftist actionist period; then cliché formulas, the slippery stones of ordinary human communication:

“In the newspapers everything stood black on white and every phenomenon looked right from the start
like a concept
Only the cultural journals
still demanded conceptual exertions
were merely the dance of veils
before other dancing veils
The novels ought to be “violent” and poems “actions”
Mercenaries had strayed into the language and occupied every word
blackmailed each other
by using
concepts as passwords
and I became more and more speechless.”

Handke’s state of mind certainly is in no way usefully described in political concepts; medical and psychoanalytic concept are another matter: but they too, should wait. And so anyone who has followed me so far and who is interested on my take ought to read these three long poems in their entirety at least once, because here I provide only long chunks, divided by (…):and color coded, but only initially, roughly, to indicate the ups and downs of mood: green for up; purple for down; grey for intrusions of feelings of deadness, alexithemia in psychoanalytic terminology, white for nonsense or absurdity [which might be regarded as the manifestations of – unsuccessful - unconscious attempts at defense, attacks on the self. Incursions of aggression are marked in red. That is not to say, that the poems are devoid of instances of mixed feeling states! I am merely – merely! – providing some indices. I italicize indications of [often exteme] sensitivity to sensation. Let us never forget that these three poems are attempts to provide verbal equivalents of a writer’s subjective state of mind.
The first two poems, Life and Blue Poem, it will be noted, are composed in the same comparatively plain declarative poetic style, the third, Nonsense and Happiness, starts off and ends in a nearly rhetorical “high mode” reminiscent of the high style French poem of which it contains a quote –
“O desespoir! O villessee! O rage!...”
- Your eyes grow wide,
whatever you look at
after such long nonsense, suddenly there was so much of the world’s abundance.
a citation that made the author snap out of his state when he came on it! An instance of cycling as it were. The abundance of poetry on a page in a typewriter! He recalls poetic world feeling making him want to write as an adolescent, now he needs to write to have a feeling for the world.
(As a boy when a feeling of the world overcame me
I only felt the desire tot WRITE something
now a poetic desire for the world usually
only occurs when I write something)

Literature, in general, I would hold, is a defensive operation, for Handke clearly a salvation, and “high mode” provides an upper register or valve in that endeavor!

Handke presented the three poems as an ongoing development of his Innerworld of the Outerworld of the Innerworld project, which is the primary vantage – equivalent to states of mind and being - into much of his work, especially the novelistic. I think Handke is absolutely correct in that presentation, but what a different innerworld than in the poems in the book of that title it is! The English educated world of course recalls T.S. Elliot’s notion of the “objective correlative”, of which the adjective may have become entirely questionable and irrelevant, but not the part that there exist related correspondences…

During these years 1971-73 Handke also completed the play They Are Dying Out [discussed on page 49] which I translated in 1974 and where he then made one change for the final version, altering a passage that manifested feelings to the more standard tough derisive cold tone that rules that play as well as the two prior novels, Goalie and Short Letter; and excusing himself to me, unnecessarily [the things writers then excuse themselves for!], that he had not been well and had lost his concentration. The therapeutician that Handke mentions seeing in Weight of the World points out to him that he seems to lack access to his feelings and Handke notes that he agreed, but if we read these three poems we note the incursions of feelings and their frequent soon disappearance, sympathy, if only for himself, and then none. He, something in him, was equivocating, but couldn’t really help the feeling coming on, overwhelming him, so it appears, to near tearfulness at moments. Life, written entirely in a well-to-do section of Kronberg, also shows how places enter Handke’s work, the degree to which someone so sensitive is also to his surroundings.
The writer knows that something is seriously off:
I’m really in a bad way
I know one shouldn’t stop like that
but there’s no alternative”
with precisely those words
- Speedy Gonzales of concepts –
- I wanted to stop
even before I started to write
But he is trapped in his fugueing!

“Blue Poem,” the second of the triptych is the most aggressive and down of the lot. There we see Handke visiting Paris [as he did to find an apartment] and then going off to visit a friend somewhere in Germany [perhaps Nicolas Born] “Life without Poetry” appears to be located entirely in the well to do bungalow suburb Kronenberg, and is the gentlest, comparatively. By “Blue Poem” Handke is in Paris, Paris street scenes, Metro scenes [the period those great physical fights with Jeanne Moreau – not exactly the woman you would chose if you needed a bit of succoring! Unless he had started having an affair even prior to his being left, which is quite conceivable in the instance of our then lay-a-broad. There is a lot of sadism and strength in Handke, and he takes pride in introducing sadistic payoffs into his texts, I can’t say I encounter even a whiff of masochism, the occasional pangs of conscience and self-berating are another matter.

From Life without Poetry
[October/November 1972, Kronberg]

“This fall time passed nearly without me
and my life stood as still as then
when I had felt so low
I wanted to learn to type
and waited evenings in the windowless ante-room
for the course to begin
The neon-tubes roared
and at the end of the hour
the plastic covers were pulled back over the type-writers.
I came and went and
would have not been able to say anything about myself.
I took myself so seriously that I noticed it,
I was not in despair merely discontent.
I had no feeling for myself and no feeling for anything else. (…)

A diary I wanted to keep
consisted of a singe sentence
“I’d like to throw myself into an umbrella”
and even that I hid in shorthand
The sun has been shining for four weeks
and I have been sitting on the terrace
and to everything that crossed my mind
and to everything I saw
I only said “yes yes” (…)

”The longer I think the more Siberian the wind that blows through my head”
I read in James Hadley Chase (…)

I had the need to love someone
but when I imagined it in detail
I became discouraged
In The Man Without Qualities I reached the sentence “Ulrich examined the man”
(“man”, too, Musil meant disparagingly)
when nausea stopped me from reading on
That perhaps was a sign that things were looking up for me

Occasionally I thought of my child
and went to him
only to show him that I was still there
Because I had such a guilty conscience
I spoke very distinctly to him (…)

At that time in summer
when the grass was still dense and long colorful toys lay strewn about in it
and someone said
“That lies there like a child’s dream”
(Before I wrote that
I had to laugh very intimately
But it fit the facts –
and without conceptual exertion)

My sister came from Austria
and at once began to clean
and to put the house in order
Grumpily I watched
how she filled my tea cup to the brim
Then I remembered that all poor people
do that when they have guests
and felt so sad that I became strange to myself (…)

I wasn’t completely inactive
started a kindergarten with others
applied for membership in a club
but those were merely ornaments of my dozing
like a child smearing his shit over the floor
I talked as if I constantly wanted to prove that I was harmless to my listeners
My neck became stiff
and when I had had enough (…)

and all the mindless gibberish
so distracted me
I couldn’t read a book afterward (…)

In this monstrously glowing autumnal world
writing too seemed nonsensical to me
Everything pressed itself so much upon me
that I lost all imagination (…)

In the papers I read that a wealthy aristocratic banker’s wife had said “The rich became even richer under this government. You won’t believe me
That perked me up absurdly

Once a woman sat before me
so beautifully
and I thought
“I have to get very close to her
so that her beauty can unfold itself.”
but she shriveled
when I approached her (…)
flies died everywhere obtrusively
I picked them up and threw them in the wastebasked
When I turned on the faucet
I always caught the chlorine donation (…)

… and when I went to the mailbox
I was so blinded by the asphalt
I had to put my hand over my eyes
so as to be able to greet the dark figures approaching me
Finally, then, at dusk
at the gabled house diagonally opposite
the EDEKA sign glowed
consolingly yellow
and I went shopping
The shop was so bright and quiet
the manager was counting the receipts
the freezers hummed endearingly
and the fact that the chives I bought
were held together by a rubber band
practically moved me to tears (…)

Then at night
I slept with the garden shears beside me
and the child fidgeted with trembling hands
screaming in his bed
When I closed my eyes I could open them only one by one
Yes, I had once known how I ought to live
But now everything was forgotten
I would not even perceive a fart
as something physical

I’m really in a bad way’
I know one shouldn’t stop like that
but there’s no alternative”
with precisely those words
- Speedy Gonzales of concepts –
- I wanted to stop
even before I started to write
Then with the insolence
of self-expression
what was thought-out beforehand became even ghostlier
word by word
and really with one jolt
I again knew what I wanted
and again felt eager for the world
(As a boy when a feeling of the world overcame me
I only felt the desire tot WRITE something
now a poetic desire for the world usually
only occurs when I write something)
“I am feeling again” I thought
But I made a slip of mind
and thought “I am reeling again.”

In the last few days
nature became musical
It s beauty
became human
and its magnificence so intimate
I sloshed with pleasure through the dead leaves
walked behind the perfumed poodle
The bushes moved
as when soldiers are on maneuvers
are camouflaged behind them
The deep brown fir trees stood animally physical
before the window
and at one place in the ominous landscape
the birch tree leaves glinted as bright
as a cry of pain
“Oh” I thought
Farther away smoke drifted past behind houses
and the TV antennas in front became monuments
With every day you saw more branches among the foliage
the few leaves of grass grown back since the last mowing
glowed so intimately
that I became afraid of the end of the world
even the façade of the houses
smiled in my human reflection
“It hurts so much!” I heard a woman say of the jet trails in the sky (…)

I really wrote ALONG
said long-suppressed things
and then thought literally
“So, now life can go on”
Frightened by the change of traffic lights
the ‘guest’ worker women
started to scoot across the Zebra stripes
The shop girls their behind stuck out
in thin blouses
ran arms clasped across the street
Behind the frosted glass of a telephone booth
a mother slapped her child’s face
How proud I was of writing!

Blue Poem
[June 1973/ Kronenberg/ Paris]
The mood is the same nearly a year later, however it is also graver, more serious, the author leaves Kronenberg, goes to Paris, we are having a few bouts of sex it appears, not much relief, but after initially feeling a bit better, Paris, too, gets to him, or rather: he will take his kit bag of troubles wherever he goes, I think he went to see his German poet friend Nicolas Born at this point.
Deep at night
it became bright again
Crushed from the outside
I began to curdle
in full consciousness
Unfeeling my cock twitched
from breath to breath
“Don’t wake up now!” I thought
and held my breath
But it was too late
Nonsense had struck again

Never before had I felt so in the minority
Outside the window
nothing but omnipotence
At first a few bird sang
then so many
the singing
became a racket
the air an echo chamber
without pause or end
Such a down
suddenly no memory
no thought of the future.
I lay stretched out long in my fear
did not dare
open my eyes
relived the winter night
when I did not turn once
from one side
to the other
gnarled by the cold then
now stretched out
illiterate from the horror outside me (…)

(…)Fear billowed up from the cellar stairs’
and the COMMON-SENSE-PERSON inside me
the tune was repeated
was repeated –
“No bird whistles that monotonously
the phantom wants to ridicule me
it’s grinning
with pitch black lips”
“I” thought (…)

(…)”But which bird?” the common-sense-person thought
Then the child woke up in the next room
and shouted
that he couldn’t sleep
“Finally”!” I said
went to him
and calmed him down
full of egotism
A garage door slammed
the first early riser had to go to work
The evening of the next day I left

The unleveled rolling plazas
in the large graceful city
this repetition of the open country
with the horizons of hills
amid the houses
the land
prolonged into the city
onto these plazas
where you were over-whelmed as nowhere else
by horizon longing…
When I climbed out of the subway
even the dog shitting on the sidewalk
struck me as magicked
I shuddered with disbelief
My cock lay strangely forgotten
between my legs
Joy rose from the deepest depths
and replaced me
“I can be happy” I thought
“Why don’t you envy me!”

For days I was beside myself
and yet as I wanted to be.
I ate little
talked just to myself –
needless so happy
unapproachable so full of curiosity
and self-confident(…)
I as inspired machine
everything happened by chance:
that a bus stopped
and that I got on
that I rode the ticket’s worth
that I walked through the streets(…)
no longer HESITATED
experienced nothing SPECIAL
- no “Once I saw” –
merely experienced
The cats sniffed around in the mausoleums
of the large cemeteries
Very small couples sat in the cafes
and ate Salade Niçoise together…
I was in my element

But in my dreams
I hadn’t yet lost all interest
Straggling slime track
of the snail person.
I was not ashamed
was only angry.
I made myself wishless
by drinking too much
The twitching eyelids became irksome
The passersby were walk-ons
who behaved like stars
“Levi-Jeans-People! I thought
“Ad-space bodies!”
-“Which says everything about you” I thought
without the earlier sympathy.
I became superficial with crossness(…)

In any case:
without deathly fear
My heart throbbed for no one
and the city was foreign to me again
from all its familiar landmarks
In a friend’s apartment
I sat absentmindedly
my ears buzzing
and heard my own soulless voice
Being happy all I could remember
was happiness
being unhappy merely unhappiness
Indifferently I recounted
how okay everything had been with me.

Then we talked about fucking
The sexual expressions
provided us with the unabashedness
for everything else
Anyone joining us we greeted
with obscenities
and let loose
they lost their strangeness(…)
Everything without being horny
In the upper deck of the bus
the total strangers grinned
as they listened to us
and felt at home with us
What exhibitionism
as soon as one of us
suddenly mentioned something!
But there was always someone’
who found a hint of sex
in the allegedly other…
Yet no one talked about him or herself
we only fantasized
never the embarrassment of true stories
How the surrounding flourished then
and the pleasure of the sour wine in
the heartiness of the sour wine
in the cylindrical glasses
Don’t stop!
The indescribable particular’
of the grim new age
and the order of their lost connection
in the dirty stories
Hello meaning is back!
Then it got serious
and the seriousness hit so quickly
that it didn’t want to be me
who was meant
Then I became curious
then ruthless
I would take a woman to the next best toilet
No more flirting
no more obscenities
no more double entendres
instead of “fucking” I now said:
“sleep with you”
- if I said anything at all.
I pared my fingernails
so as not to hurt you too much
In my horniness’
I could suddenly call nothing
by its name
Before I had found a metaphor for sex
in the most unsuspecting things
during the experience
we experienced the sexual acts
as metaphors for something else(…)

the leaves by the window
the child singing himself awake
a framework house at dawn
the light blue on the wayside shrine
from the time
when you still believed in eternity
“Yes, swallow that!”
“Beauty is a kind of information” I thought’
warm from you
and from the recollection
“You force me
to be
as I want to be” I thought
To exist
to mean something to me –
Don’t stop!
I faltered just now’
when I noticed’
how suddenly the poem ended

Nonsense + Happiness
[January/February 1974 Paris]

On a cold indescribable day
when it does not want to become dark and not bright
the eyes neither want to open nor shut
and familiar sights don’t remind you
of your old familiarity with the world,
nor as new sights magick a feeling for the world
- the Two & One poetic world feeling –
when there exists no When and But,
no Earlier ad no Then,
dawn sweaty
and evening still unimaginable
and on the motionless trees only quite rarely a single twig snaps
as if it had become slightly lighter,
on an the indescribable day like that,
on the street,
between two steps,
the sense is suddenly lost:
the black man walking toward you
in his leather coat –
you want to slug his face,
and throttle the woman
reading off her list before you in the shop.
And more and more often
the thought frightens you
how you nearly did it
- a jolt was still lacking, the mysterious
with which love set in at one time
or the wild resolve to lead life your way,
the certainty of a formless kind of immortality…
(Then you read in the papers of some who succumbed to this jolt and you wonder why there are still so few.)
Wherever you look now – everything greenish-discolored at such moments
as on a too briefly discolored photo,
the objects half complete,
and no hope of completing them,
every sight a rotted fragment
without the idea of a plan,
which became lost,
still raw-girdered and already a ruin,
which you avoid,
fearing you will collapse with it(…)

excrescence of an excrescence
- if only the eyes would close,
- of you could only squint at such moments,
soothe the nausea in the eyeballs,
- and it would be just MOMENTS (after which you could sigh) –
- Someone has stopped on the street
and cannot go on:
not only he has stopped,
everything else has too,
and so it seems that he walks on,
and that the rest walks on too.
But he is only pretending to walk; and the way he regards the horizon at the end of the street is also feigned;
and the French fries which he smells somewhere while he pretends
to walk
- it might be altogether somewhere else –
he only notices
as a last kindness toward himself;
actually he does not smell anything any more,
and the French fries are homeless remnants
from that already unimaginable time
when every object still hugged its meaning:
recollection of a picture in a church where the Just stand beneath the Blessed Virgin’s coat.
Yes, everything has turned into abrasive outer world in this state
and in the open-skull an unappetizing something, once called brain
puffs itself up in the draft.
Instead of consciousness
nettle-like vegetation
skin sensations and allergy:’
an incalculable time of rashes,
of goose bumps,
of eczemas,
of soreness.
An unpleasant itch
when the lips accidentally touched each other
- you have become ticklish to yourself. (…)

The sky above the crane could be a picture,
which rekindles the necessary patience,
but the well-worn sky heals nothing either,
nor the word that soothes so often,
which you say to yourself:
the clouds grow repulsively
lie in unholy havoc,
and the earth too, leveled to the horizon.
Everything wind-wrecked.
Everything mixed up.
And everything expressionless.

and feel in the wrong toward others
and regard your states just one of those states:
as if you behaved “like a schoolboy
not to be taken seriously.
So you don’t take yourself seriously in company’
but the nonsense is too real,
and therefore unbearable.(…)

but even the prettiest sight now diminishes life.
A bombing attack of nonsense on the world:
right behind the house wall the earth breaks off
into whirlpools of
the indefinable
(some call it ocean trench, others space, others hell)
and on the last atoll a children’s carousel turns
tinkling, god forlorn.
Stop! Gaze at this picture:
Did not the lids lower over the eyes at this sight?
- It is no picture: and if so, it went under from your impatience
with the last bit of earth.
The gloom where the earth was
distinguishes itself from the gloom
of the indefinable all around’
only by its fresher black,
and now even the whirlpools are streaming in…(…)

in the shattering environment,
which had been on the verge of soothing itself,
your dyed in the wool HUMBUG breaks forth aain,
world-wide and skin-tight…(…)


or another time
a typewriter shop,
you stare down at the machine’
with paper to try it out,
and there
among the people in the shop,
“O desespoir! O villessee! O rage!...”
- Your eyes grow wide,
whatever you look at
after such long nonsense, suddenly there was so much of the world’s abundance. (…)

a feeling also returns
to your own ugly, deaf face,
and the indescribable day
becomes describable,
it wanes
and when you look at the woman again
you notice she isn’t smiling at all,
but only has an expression:
even the expression on her face
seemed like a smile to you.
gradually you begin to picture these different women
even as something mythical
- old hiccup of poets drunk on being –:
when a woman with water in her leg climbs in,
more awkwardly than the others,
and kindly destroys the facile PICTURE…
And what do you bring home in the evening?-
Such sights for example,
the sight collector answers proudly.
And how do you order them?-
Because the fear of the nonsense is over
they no longer need an order.
And your own impression? –
Because the nonsense is over the sight has simultaneously become the impression.
And the actual words?-
When I see something, I only say: O God!
or: No!
or: Ah!
or simply call out: The evening sky!
or whimper softly..
And yet –
Beware of the musicality of the world!
Beware of the happy ending!
For even when the indescribable day came
you had been warned of previous indescribable days,
as in a fairy tale,
before you walked through the forest,
of the good fairy
or of the talking animal,
- and must,
as in the fairy tale,
have forgotten the warning after all.
At least,
instead of the all too anecdotal happiness,
you cling to the moment
when the nonsense let up and the new familiarity was felt as pain.
The dreams are in the offing.
They are there:
A large red cherry falls slowly past you down the elevator shaft.
the time when you can dream
is a sensible time.
Already you nod to yourself in the street and shake your head; munch like a child an apple before falling asleep;
walk straight through puddles
and again say “merry go round”
instead of “carousel”…
On a cold bright morning
still imbued by a long
bliss-kindling dream
where you were
what you can be
-the dream itself was the fulfillment –
and at the sight of the wide sky
behind the edge of the city
you look forward to growing old for the first time,
and in front of the child
who looks at you
after he has knocked over the glass,
you think
if the child wouldn’t have to look at you like that any more –
that might be the real way.
In the sense that the three poems manifest by and large similar states of mind, they can also be regarded as a single text; they are not a theme and artful variation, although the reader will have noted an increase in the writer’s upsetness from one poem to the next, thing get worse not better for him, an increase in the incursions of irritation and nonsense attacks, of “meaninglessness”, and the subsiding. At least he could write!

Such similarities, such repetitions as we encounter them in this sequence of three poems are unique for Handke is what I am trying to say. The various preceding Innerworld texts are all quite different from each other, each plays a different game. They all employ Handke’s patented serial procedure [to which he takes a different kind of recourse throughout his work] and if not written in one fell swoop to still a moment of anxiety or still it in the recollection, are written in short order, they each have a theatrical and dramatic quality, too. Some are mini-plays and so bear a relationship to the early Sprechstücke. They have a kind of objective quality to them as well.
The three long poems in “Nonsense and Happiness” not only lack the prior playfulness, each of them was composed over the course of a month or so at least. They are extremely artful even graceful but have longer rhythms than anything Handke has written before, that is formally they are very different creatires indeed that Handke devises to communicate, exhibit his states of mind.
These features distinguish these three poems from Handke’s previous formalist endeavors where he does not repeat himself, but explores the formal possibilities, say, as he does in the early Sprechstücke that are then summarized in one of his greatest pieces of sheer writing, The Hour We Knew Nothing of each Other [a work begun in the 70s but not completed until the early 90s, see:

Informal, highly personal as these three poems appear yet they are not formless, and Gerhart v. Graevenitz’s approach to the “Assayings” [FN] too made me take a closer look at the apparently loose yet not arbitrary form of these three poetic texts. The word sinuous comes to mind. One breaks off suddenly, the other two have hints of a futile kind of optimism: in that disjointing sense fugueing resembles déjàs of all unpleasant kinds: the return of memories of repressed unpleasant occurrences – there are quite a few moments of fright from Handke’s childhood and then adolescence past, introduced as similes – déjà vues that literally take over your being, but usually just for a long moment, even in dreams – that, importantly, as the great Jakob Arlow observed, you knew you had survived a particular déjà, and thus they or it gave you just a brief fright: i.e. they are compromise formations – between what we call the ego and uncontrollable intrusions from the unconscious inhabitants of the self, and are of a defensive nature, which makes what is being defended against no less dangerous: if they are not defended against, if the defenses break down or perhaps it ought to be formulated as “taking over” of your self so that you might go wander off for weeks and have no recollection of how you happened to, when you come to; you could freeze into a pillar of salt.
Handke evidently survived, but unlike a déjà [of whatever kind], a comparatively brief experience, fugueing can obviously drive you over the edge… And in Paris it apparently did, he writes of panic attacks to his poet friend Nicola Born

In Weight of the World we read of a hospitalization for a heart problem. The doctors say it isn’t serious, and Handke is glad of that and starts to take Valium [as he told me in Salzburg], the anxiety is put under control, its sources however are not eliminated. The language regulation for this event becomes “congenital heart valve problems” - apparently not detected upon his physical to qualify for the Austrian defense forces, the one achievement of which his hideous stepfather Bruno Handke was proud! [see Lesson of St. Victoire which also contains Handke’s mention that he sought among his relatives others who suffered from his occasional color blindness] I would think tachycardia induced by the general upset, the fugueing eventuated in a panic attack. Panic makes sense in the case of someone who once thought he was the new Kafka and suffered from fear and trembling - in one poem the fear that he felt at night during his childhood crops up. But let us recall that Handke in his early writing [when he claimed to be “the new Kafka”] became over-confident, nay a virtuoso victor in the control of anxiety, victorious over fear! Grandiose! A trapeze artist above the abyss! All gone now! Or only very very gradually it appears, in part by writing these three long extraordinarily beautiful [so feels their then somewhat or, let’s say, more puzzled translator] poems that describe the coming and going, the waves of self-states; three extraordinary fugueing attempts as I now think of them, a preternaturally depressive and troubled poets attempt to deal with the same theme - the novel A Moment of True Feeling, narrated in the distancing third person, thus more distanced, more controlled, induces stylistically the kind of suicidal state that the author was in at the time, his own self having been an alternative object to all the other matters that enraged and irritated the so easily irritable hyper sensitive poet.

Handke’s prose texts are all of a very different kind, solve different formal and linguistic problems, employ different personae lenses and narrators. The Three Assaying [1987-1991] as I think of those three prose experiments On Tiredness, On the Jukebox and The Day that Went Well employ markedly different highly self-conscious narrative approaches; and, as a matter of fact, the last of the three – the one on The Day that Went Well – takes up, circles the theme of being and nothingness and beauty, broached in such an unusually intimate manner in these three poems, once more… not quite twenty years later.

A Moment of True Feeling of course has not only that Gregor Samsa moment at the opening, consciously Kafkaesque [and thus literarily distanced] moment of horror at its opening moment – which as compared to the poems makes it also a work of the imagination - but also has that salvaging “moment” for which I suppose we must thank Amina Handke for pulling our author away from the abyss, when “love sets in”, for the child,[a shard of a mirror, a lock of hair] when love in him resurfaced… the moment Handke started to become the “anti-Kafka.” The child also keeps pulling the author back out of his fugue states in the three poems; thus we can speak of a gradual surfacing of feelings in the man who agreed with his therapeutician that he seemed to lack access to his feelings; dissociated I would say, since - after all - they would surface. On being left by his wife Handke appears to have been struck dumb – perhaps he woke up one morning and there was note on the kitchen table, or maybe there was a scene [s], there must have been quite a few prior, judging the his knowledge of such in Dying – but at a certain point, eventually he starts to - what on the evidence of the three long poems in Nonsense and Happiness – be called, and I think usefully, begin to fugue. But by the time he uses the shock as the opening of A Moment of true Feeling it has been shorn of its origins and universalized and made literary, a defense. Not that there would be anything wrong with an opening such as: “One morning I woke up and my wife had left me. I had had no idea but weirdly enough instantly felt like the bug in Kafka’s Metamorphosis. That was even worse than being left by the love of my life. I had become an ogre. Also, I instantly felt suicidal; then I was suddenly pleased to be alone, until I heard the bloody child bawling to be taken to the bathroom… After several years of these kind of up and down mood swings, someone suggested that maybe I had something to do with her leaving. How could it possibly was my first, unspoken, response… but then I fell to thinking…maybe something I did, the way I behaved was at fault…”

Moments of depersonalization alternate with repersonalizations; moments of feeling nothing, nothing attacks alternate with the return of feeling.

We find the recurrence of the following matters in these three fugues: [1] nausea – so that he writes “nausea of the eyeballs,” nausea at himself to the point of wanting to “turn himself inside out” [!!!!] i.e. every sight becomes irritable to the point of eyes hurting, skin itching: The severity of the state that Handke was in becomes evident once one appreciates this the most extreme of the many nauseas Handke mentions – more severe than any of those enumerated in Tiredness signifies. The hyper-sensitivity managed with medically soothing eye-glasses that he wore when I first saw him. “Nausea of the eyeballs” is a pretty extreme, perhaps the most extreme kind of irritation especially for a “sight collector” voyeut such as Handke [you will recall Handke claiming that the first time he felt nausea at other bodies was in boarding school, and if he’d give you a calling card “I’m sorry I’m autistic and I just can’t stand being alone in the same room alone with men,” you wouldn’t – I would not have been mystified all those years], and this nausea, too, is one of the classical derivatives of the kind of traumatization he suffered as a child; and which is related to, when the irritation reaches a crucial point, to [2] the wish to run amok! – as Loser then does in Across; i.e. upsurge of violent impulses approximating psychosis; magnified by the self-imposed state of isolation; [3] resentment, that is envy, of anyone who walks past seemingly royally self-satisfied, tall Africans parading their beauty on Paris streets; [4] occasionally being pulled out of this absorption in states of self-hatred and feeling that he is “nothing” [see the end of Afternoon of a Writer for a dramatized similar state of nothing where it becomes clearer that the nothingness is really the obverse of really thinking that you are king of the hill, hot shit] by the child waking, or crying [as at that “moment” in A.M.T.F.] [5] surges of feeling that seem invariably accompanied by the observation of soothing sights of nature, where nature becomes musical, as these poems do, at least so thinks their translator who a the time he was translating them [1974-5] sort of knew “there is a troubled soul” but can’t be said to have given much thought to the why’s and wherefores of Handke’s state of mind; yet the feelings made sense, as did/ does their representation. I am pretty immune to nauseas – after all, it is a fundamental impulse to rid yourself of potentially deadly, toxic substances - unless in the company of someone who pukes at which I have to take great control of my sympathetic mirroring nervous system, which failed me only once, at age seven.
The musical passages I responded to with especial attunedness, especially the “high mode” of the title poem Nonsense and Happiness, and they entered my being in the process of translation and they have popped up a chords sort of on occasion during my own writing: as a clue, a safety blanket, as parameters.
[6] Generalizing, perhaps usefully for once: each poem is a kind of ever repeated ride on the roller coaster of “nonsense attacks” and the rediscovery of “meaning”… What is that attack that nothings? what precisely does it turn into “nothing?” We are not in some kind of Heideggerian world here, after all. Human beings, nay everything organic can be said to be a “meaning making machine” – thus the “nonsense” attacks would be suicidal impulses, what Keuschnig the hero of A.M.T.F. suffers, attacks on the self, and which Handke the author knows intimately, but represents, knowingly, stylistically to convey that state to us to the degree that we participate, which, however, means that the author, though he may suffer their recurrence, has achieved dissociative, his forte, control over them.

What made Handke particularly happy in the translation was my occasional use of the word “humbug” for the word “nonsense” which indeed reduces that tiresomeness to something playful and slight! Handke’s extreme sensitivity also to language to which we owe, and to which he owed his nausea at Spiegel language…

As fate would have it, Handke was friends with the Austrian cultural attaché in Paris at that time [who both are taking care of young daughters] and I recall going with them on a Sunday to the Bois de Boulogne I think it was, and I wonder idly what that fellow made of the book. But that is not what Handke is interested in, in A.M.T.F., an account of his life with his daughter, or with his friends: he is interested in representing and evoking a state of mind: we are still in the world of the inner outer innerworld. And he finds the stylistic means to put the reader into that state of mind.
In the poems Handke, the writer, faced the task of communicating his state of mind to a reader and in the process, regained some self control, the writing becomes a controlled discharge, a kind of acting out [but one on quite a deep psychic level, that was itself calming – at least he was writing, he was working, he was concentrating], and he is very good at that at this point, although this is a greater challenge than any he faced before: his Goalie will put the reader via a sleight of grammatical ingenuity into the state of mind of a paranoid schizophrenic… and that was an act of objectification for whose sake he had studied the linguistics of paranoia and schizophrenia! So it takes a good deal of work to communicate authentically and penetrate another mind and heart just with words. Here in the three poems not too many games are being played, the old rage is there, but playfulness doesn’t work it out of the system.
If Handke had been on the couch and in a state of transference with a good enough analyst, the analyst would have had a pretty good idea what he was going through, and the anxiety would have been discharged in the talking and in the security of the analyst’s holding [who would not have talked “dog language” that is in the language in which cases are generally written up or that of the world of therapy] and perhaps Handke would have been open to understanding and perhaps “understanding” would have sunk in. The analyst whom Handke saw in Paris [see Weight] and who pointed out to him that he was emotionally disconnected, an observation with which Handke agreed, also, confessed to Handke to carrying the cross at Easter – so the analyst may also have been a religious, or purposefully confessional to his patient, or Handke is once again projecting - thus one further aspect of the meaning of the title “weight of the world”: only Handke or his unedited note books or the thera-peutician whoever he or she was can tell us.

The fine German psychoanalyst Tilman Moser [“Years of Apprenticeship on the Couch”, which I happen to have published in English these many years ago] addressed several novels in his untranslated Romane als Krankheits Geschichten [“Novels as Case Histories” would do in English], among them also Handke’s A Moment of True Feeling, but could not come to any definite conclusion about what was ailing our man. Yes, narcissistic injury, but that really begs the question. Not that I claim to have total insight: but once you are aware of Handke’s extended childhood trauma, his possible identification with the violently aggressive stepfather, in his hatred for whom Handke felt no ambivalence whatsoever, his being a love child for the first two years of his life, his having that super confident big head, once you realize his ultra sensitivities, the sheer rawness of his nerves, and that he is always needs to write to stay well, sometimes intensively, that you know that he has won many victories over his fright… you are at the very least a lot closer to unraveling this knotty question in this moment of uncompleted mourning for his mother [his identity, who has committed suicide, the would-be suicidal’s suicidal mother] and her surrogate, his wife abandoning him: a double repetition in some way of the childhood trauma which had its beginning with his mother’s return to her husband in Berlin, and no doubt, indeed not the slightest doubt for once on my part, for elicited similar rages, especially if Libgart Schwartz eloped with another man! Internalized figures of protection are gone, have vanished is a short hand way the modern gods of science might put it.

And even if you realize that it is your fault that they left, and I find no evidence of such reflection on Handke’s part in his writing [which does not mean that I may have missed them] that you had been impossible to live with, realizations which unfortunately somehow do little to assuage the injury, there are of course those self-berating! Self-flagellations! where what is needed, I would suggest, is self-understanding], and I suspect it took some time for that realization to set in, if in fact it ever did, certainly neither the works of this period nor A Child’s Story do, and as a writer he may even have felt “good riddance” I am left to write… but there was still the child, who he notes in Weight says “Daddy you are writing again.” And who early on learned to charm her harsh father: she takes a napkin with the message “Amina has been bad again” and dips it into a glass of water where the message dissolves! The honest Weight also notes our old sadist at work: Amina comes up and says she has to go potty. Her father notes that he says nothing and waits “what is going to happen now!” I was not surprised when Vim Wenders told me here in Seattle that Handke invariably hurts the people closest to him: Wenders it appears has put up with that if not forgiven. Later in life, there are these great lags in realization in Handke, he will deeply regret his parenting methods, and THE CHILD becomes a major invocation, e.g. in Walk About the Villages… In A Child’s Story it becomes clear that women friends have berated him for his ways as a father, and he dismisses what they say as being the “dog language” of the therapeutic society. [No real quarrel on the latter score though I can think of several dozen exceptions to the rule of inhuman scientism ruling the language roost of an allegedly humane science], but when I saw Amina in New York, in 1975 or in Paris, she seemed to be an unusually quiet child. The hyper-cathexis on language, the narcissism of the word… well, he might have listened past that for once. For his second daughter, Laocadie Semin-Handke, he writes the delightful Lucie im Wald mit den Dingsbums, Lucy in the woods with the Thingamajigs] a sort of extra chapter of No-Man’s-Bay, [and it shows that the second time around he’s doing a better job at child rearing, who however does not live with him! as he keeps picking what he regards as peace-object, mushroom, to make the world’s best mushroom stew!]
It is noticeable in these text of what I call the critical first Paris Period [1973-78, though it had its inception in Kronenberg in Fall 1971] there is no mention of the wife, the mother of the child, except Weight at one point notes dismissively [if it is her and not one of the numerous women he would then sleep with, compensatorily, the great compensator that he is not just exhibitionistically, [a characteristic of both sexes when abandoned, to make up and avenge the loss of love so I noticed during my ten years in the so romantic and fairly communal – until the money pigs ruined it - heterosexual Tribeca] “L.s little lyricisms”. A person who is so irritable needs to live by himself… as he does now, and even takes the closest friends at once for a walk through the forest, only interviewers are allowed, and if it’s a T.V. crew so much the better, and Chef Handke # 2 [there is a famous establishment in Ohio with something called Handke Cuisine! which just now in June 2009 went broke!] will treat them to a meal as only that part object chef in No-Man’s-Bay can when the guests are actually welcome, and no doubt such meals on the house pay for themselves in the long run!

Encounters, correspondence,commentary, memoir.
Subsequent to the threesome’s visit in 1971, I saw Handke next I think in 1974. I gave up agenting and the representation of Suhrkamp in 1971 and re-entered publishing with high hopes and grand plans, quickly dashed [FN-00] but I had a really well paid year… of no accomplishment whatsoever, lots of traveling by elevator up and down one of those huge shoe boxes on the Avenue of the Americas, and then took a half year’s trip halfway around the world and back during which I also translated Handke’s Quodlibet and perhaps some of the poems of Innerworld. I recall mailing him the play – a condensation of everything he wants to do in theater [move, stir awaken the conscience of whatever king] – soon after the Hellenic Splendor started making landfall back in the U.S., Savannah, Georgia, or Columbia, S.C., and wrote the briefest of notes, excusing myself with the extraordinarily stiff keys of a brand new super sturdy German typewriter that replaced the one that had gone bust with six months of heavy use. – They really were stiff, memorably so, for years!

Quodlibet was published as part of the second collection of Handke plays, They Are Dying Out and Other Plays a few years before Dying had its premiere at the Yale Rep in 1979. Innerworld I published at Continuum Books [the successor firm to American Herder + Herder, of the one that had extricated itself from out under the Harold McGraw/ Beverly Loo caused catastrophe at McGraw-Hill] with a postscript that thoroughly embarrasses me now, though Handke voiced no objection, I wouldn’t have minded! and it must have been fall 1974 that Handke, who had moved to Paris in 1973, gave me Als das Wünschen noch geholfen hat [Nonsense and Happiness in English, whence I extracted the three long fugueing poems, see anon, the section called Fugueing] as I was leaving the one place of his I really liked: a nearly subterranean mysterious apartment in the Rue Montmorency [see the so marked photo:
I took a first look at how I might translate it at an fairly bucolic outdoor restaurant at Luxembourg airport [I invariably flew Icelandic Airlines, not just because of the cheap tickets, but also for the “dottirs” and for Luxembourg], and it is one of the few times that I recall where I was when starting a translation [except at a desk] because I recall my envy of a gentleman of the gentry in riding boots meeting his affair… and the whiff of a Lady Chatterley romance. What struck me at once I imagine, in the texts, was how different this was from anything I had read or translated of Handke’s. The long lines, the musicality of the words, the different and longer rhythms, the moodiness, matters to which I am especially responsive, which features generally become parameters above and beyond literal meaning; and struck by the differing extreme states of mind that text elicited in me [which I now can name, which may or may not be a good thing]; and by the three long poems being variations on a theme: of losing and reacquiring meaning. I made a few scratches and then flew Icelandic Airline with those delightful flirty dottirs and the usual stopover at Reykjavik duty free shop and the view of desolate lake-ridden brown and iron-rusty New Foundland the first sight of the New Continent.

Handke writes in a letter to Kolleritsch [isn’t it unusual to publish correspondence between living people, no matter how much it may help the lovely publisher of Jung and Jung?] that I made a pleasantly boring visit. Well, they never lasted longer than five minutes, except twice, once the one time Handke, Amina and the actual Austrian cultural attaché in Paris, also caretaker of a girl, Amina’s age, all went, on a Sunday of course, to one of the Bois, Boulogne I think, and vaguely recall a carousel and that this particular attaché, who is said to have died young, was of an unusually slight stature, who I imagine must have had some kind of memorable reaction to being put to good use as Handke’s [a might have been] cultural attaché Keuschnig in A Moment of True Feeling. [Feeling weird maybe?]
The other visit of a longer stretch was when I had brought along my then friend the lyricist Jerry Leiber of r + b fame who and I and the director Carl Weber were trying to shoe-horn some lyrics of his into They Are Dying Out to make it fly, maybe to New York from New Haven, and Handke uttered the memorable sentence “I don’t do Singspiel!”, not knowing of course how Brechtian some of Leiber’s lyrics had become by then for his unperformed “The International Wrestling Match.” [Handke much like Leiber’s early Coaster’s work, I had sent him a compendium] However, the Dying project ended in naught, not for any of Handke’s doing [I think I wrote him what I and the director Carl Weber had in mind] because, Leiber, as he had so many times, dropped out, and fixing some fine songs for the business folk from other projects into T.A.D.O. didn’t do the trick of the enough.
Leiber subsequently commented on Handke’s swollen head, something I myself didn’t even notice anymore, typical of way I get used to odd ducks and their ways; people used to regard me as “gutmütig” for that, and so used to take advantage until they found out I could also be anything but, while yet going around, as I found out just the other day, name-dropping the lie that he was collaborating with Peter Handke on a project.
I seem to have stayed on a bit on that occasion and witnessed Handke nearly throwing up at Leiber’s then wife Barbara Rose, nearly wretching with nausea at her ugliness… who, it was said, had been cute once upon a time… but whose character then turned out to match her physiognomy. Second time of that on Handke’s part! Averting his eyes everywhere but in nature! In his correspondence with Fredi, Handke also mentions that he hasn’t seen anyone in five days except for the Portuguese cleaning woman. Yes I guess the place wasn’t filthy, but it had a musty if not musky odor that penetrated my nicotined nose and puzzled until I found out what a night time rake my man was. At the time, I put it off to the apartment being nearly subterranean. Of course matter would have been more comprehensible all around if I’d known of Handke’s nausea at other bodies! And maybe he ought to put at sign at his front door of his place in the forest of Chaville: “Autist, nausea prone! All those who enter here... will at once be taken for a walk in the woods.” Or get a T-shirt to that effect [See photos of Handke at the doorway to his cave and the threesome, their backs to us, with Handke in the middle walking with friends in these woods, the heavy-set one is the writer Weinzettel to whom Handke gave the money from the Büchner Preis. Weinzettel it appears is of a fine even temperament and his fine nature descriptions are – to the best of limited acquaintance - devoid of irruptions of what Handke calls “history.”]

If there had been a chess board about, we might have, as the saying goes, got it on, it usually takes me a while to get untracked, besides I imagine I was always aware, the guy’s a bloody genius, really the real thing, not a fraud, I myself prefer walks too, and the time of the Bobby Fischer championship games was my last hurrah at that game, champion of Elaine’s and Eric’s but for Paul Kravitz! Nor am I now the same person I was then. I cannot recall where I stayed in Paris, the same fleabags by the Sorbonne as a student days, Hotel Rue Monsieur Le Prince I think, except once when a French ex gave me her apartment, to entice the wounded and thus unenticable back, but it, too, was on the Left Bank as it had been since my first visit [and Theàtre La Huchette and Ionesco] in 1957. But this also city walker invariably walked to the right bank Montmorency from wherever on the Left and, memorably, was never offered as much as a glass of water, which puzzled me about Carinthian manners. Handke after these five minutes of whatever invariably would say: “Please call and come again.” Once when I did call again, he confessed to having exposed himself to the Austrian Backfisch groupie who was there when I arrived, and that she had blushed, and that he did this when he was being a little diabolical. [Had I been in one of the wild moods that occasionally seized me I might even have said to her “do you want to fuck both of us?” and who knows what her response to that might have been, Handke’s I expect the famous village grin! But the one time I would arrive at Handke’s in one of my wild moods was still a half a decade off]. What if she hadn’t blushed, which indicates that the exposer has achieved his desire, the complicity of desire, has penetrated her unconscious, the puncture into the so revealed unconscious easily elicited fantasy, the orgy of the universal id. I put the event into the memory bank, and once I started to dwell on what motivated and drove Handke the event turned out to be very useful; and then I finally came on Dr. Frucht’s fine piece on exhibitionism [Analytic Footnote] and how its socially unacceptable and other compensatory aspects links to traumatization.

But there was occasional correspondence: Handke hoped to have Randy Newman set a poem from Left-Handed Woman to music for the film that he made of it, and I translated the poem and via Leiber, who had tutored Newman early in his career, I wrote twice to Newman’s agent, but never even got a no. If you look at that simple declarative lyric in Left-Handed Woman [or listen to it in the film] and set it to Newman’s kind of music, you note the supremely ultra light, Muscadet irony with which Handke was distancing himself from the heartaches of the early 70s. By the time of W.A.T.V. the distancing irony had become “heartfelt irony,” – a motion away and a motion towards – unique in my experience - a country-priest-like attitude, and something quite generous, something deep and beautiful indeed; Handke was becoming pastoral in both important meanings of that word. The Newman idea was something close to Handke’s heart, so he even asked a second time. But there was nothing more I or Leiber could do, and so a blues of some kind was substituted.
At one time he wrote that it would be nice if I wrote him more often – not too surprising in retrospect in the case of someone who sees no one but his Portuguese cleaning lady during the week. [Much as I liked solitude, I could also be quite “social” in those days; i.e. Elaine’s where I met and had writer friends who, too, were able to combine their solitary profession with companionability; thus Handke’s associability, in the case of someone so successful that he had ample access, baffled me until I decided to take a close look at the why’s and wherefores of all that.]
And I was so happy about being asked to write him – I was beginning to feel lonely myself in a situation with a partner in a publishing firm who as I ever so gradually allowing to dawn on me turned out to be just as dark Handke had realized within five minutes – that I wrote back, and in German, whereupon Handke expressed his preference for my English. Occasionally I sent books which I thought he’d like. I have a hunch that my German, after all I had emigrated at age twelve, and my command of it was fabulous in reading, but not at all in writing, may have been less than graceful. In Mexico in the 90s I then trained myself to write in German again! I think the only part of our correspondence that is really interesting occurred over the translation of Walk about the Villages, and it is what he writes; pertinent quotes are in the postscript to the American tradition and I also quote them here in the section that treats of that translation [see anon].

I had and maybe, if he of the bad ticker can be located, still have a friend by the name of Boris Pearlman, a.k.a. Boris Policeband, a classically trained violist who stands about 6 feet 2 inches, is skinny as a beanpole and who became my pool teacher after we got to know each other at Barnabus Rex in Tribeca in the mid-70s, and who was also one of the quickest mouths east of the Mississippi, I have had other city friends like that and we get along wonderfully, perhaps it is because I was born in Berlin. [FN-BORIS] Boris was also one of the most easily scared people I knew, but his mode of dress in black punk and perpetual night shades of course afforded his fear a lot of camouflage in the city, anywhere for that matter. His quick mouth was his best defense. At some point Boris told me he was going to Paris, I don’t recall my asking him how he’d got the money to do so, but I gave him Handke’s address and number at Rue Montmorency. Friends yes, but no more girlfriends for Mr. Handke. On his return Boris reported that Handke seemed to have been frightened when he let him in, and that he saw Handke once more passing by on a street somewhere while he, Boris, was busking, which is I guess how Boris survived in Paris, and that they had said hello. Handke’s being frightened I of course remembered, it made sense if you had not lived in New York, but then how frightening Handke had dressed at one time, American hippie style!
There was one visit to the small Gründerzeit castle in Meudon where Lefthanded Woman was filmed; in 1978 I imagine, because in 1979 I made it a point not to visit Meudon, but only Clamart. I happen to have an especial dislike of these half-assed castles, fieldstone bric-a-brac around the first floor, the second all plaster, you see loads of building like that if you drive east along the Mosel or from Luxembourg to Paris. It’s the residence for post 1870 yuppies! Give me a basement apartment, a room in a so-called cottage on Jekyll Island, or on the Mönchsberg Monastery, or a tree house, or in a nest with Orang Utans, but don’t put me in a Gründerzeit castle! Preferable of all a North German or Dutch or Danish farmhouse with the animal stalls and haylofts integrated and with a breathing reed thatched roof! Or an Indian tent that I can drag behind me on my horse!
Fortunately I did not have to stay long in what seemed an arid living room with highly polished floor: Handke, no doubt smelling cigarettes on me, took me outside, saying that everyone on the film crew had smoked, so that he himself had started to, too. For a film yes, not for me. The heights of Meudon affords a pleasing view of Paris, and is so described in Lefthanded Woman¸ the very one I saw, and it is in the film too, I think. So does next door Clamart where I took the g.f. of 1979 [she bears, or bore then, uncanny resemblance to Handke’s then future G.F. Marie Colbin as she appears in a raincoat – see photos; thus am I ever glad of my resolve to keep the young hussy from even getting near his clutches! the more so because the precocious liked his work to which I had introduced her] to see my all time favorite author, the old time United Front fellow, the war correspondent Wilfred Burchett, who lived with the kind of Bulgarian peasant wife I would see quite a few of about a year later, and avoided Meudon and its small Gründerzeit Castle altogether and didn’t even mention to her that Handke lived in Paris… which in fact he actually may not have any longer at that point.

In New York one time, he had been on the West Coast at USC in Los Angeles [where Arnold Heidsick, an acquaintance from New York in the German department, a Kafka specialist married to a silver trader, later reported their conversation to me] and he had Amina with him, and his baby sitting problems and what a bad writer Handke thought Bert Brecht was. Handke always kept saying that so and so was not a good writer. Somewhere at some point in the 70s Handke told me that Unseld had asked him and the German author of unusual poetic prose texts Jürgen Becker to start a literary magazine, and when I failed to say anything one way or the other to that, he said that he didn’t think Becker was a good writer. I didn’t say anything to that either. Handke probably knew that I knew Becker, he might have noticed as much at the Pannah Grady party [I’d known Becker since the mid-sixties from Hamburg and he mentioned the party in one of his books, Felder I think, of the 1966/7 vintage] and Becker indeed was a friend, of Arabic hospitality even, but I’d never given thought to whether he was a good or a bad writer: he was an interesting writer [a category beyond good or bad, sort of] and a friend and that sufficed. Nothing it appears came of the journal, but Handke a few years back wrote – klierte – would be a more accurate way of putting it – dashed off - a laudatio at Becker being awarded the Siegfried Lenz prize, which is Handke’s prerogative, and Michel Krüger’s, the novelist and publisher of Hanser Verlag. Uwe Johnson made for a similar negative comment on Handke’s part, but in this instance as reply to a query of mine. Handke [then] didn’t seem to regard Uwe Johnson as not first rate or to his liking. I might have probed for the reason, but imagine now that Johnson’s kind of precise realism where reality has not been through the imaginations washing machine, lacking the mythic dimension… At any event, the first three novels of Johnson’s were events for me; and Handke’s latest prose piece, as of this writing, Die Kuckucke von Velica Hoča [2009], a report of sorts, has one moment where Handke crosses the border from a Serbian enclave to Albanian Kosovo in a highly conscious state of mind that seems absolutely Johnsonian both in its self-conscious conciseness and poetry. Writers on the order of Handke or Johnson of course need to be, simply are, have no choice but to be hyper-critical of other powerful writers to maintain their way of seeing it. There is a moment in one of the diaries where Handke notes a long passage from Heart of Darkness and comments that there is no need now for anyone to try to put it better. And the generosity with which he lards his text with quotes of writers through the ages manifests that sense of finding matters perfectly put in the book of life.

The visit to the West Coast and USC with Amina in tow must have been 1975 or 76. I had given him an apartment on the 25th floor of an new 50 story apartment building complex in Tribeca I no longer lived in… hadn’t lived in for long… I and Laurie were already in the raw loft below in Duane Park. Handke moved out at once it appears [where might he be?] and I located him – of course - at the Algonquin, “suicide apartment” he called the great view of New York Bay, New Jersey, Wall Street Manhattan, landfill being dredged in for what eventually became Battery Park City, from the 25th floor, cement directly below the balcony: fear of leaping??? Fear of heights?... Of course during my decade in Tribeca someone did toss their body onto the cement below. When I drove Handke and Amina to JFK he wanted to see what a suburb in Long Island was like before I dropped him off and to some surprise on my part he liked the entirely innocuous, placid and green streets we drove through, and then, looking out across the wilderness of Jamaica Bay, we watched the remnants of a thunderstorm dissipate behind Manhattan… which is when I was struck, couldn’t help but notice how silent the child was. It wasn’t really until I read his 1981 A Child’s Story that it hit me full force what a gruesome father Handke was, although some entries in Weight of the World {“Let’s see what happens now.” After the subteen girl had asked to go pottie and her father had just waited.} might have alerted me that something might be seriously amiss. The three long fugueing poems that I discussed in the previous section as well as the contemporaneous novel A.M.T.F. “the child” plays a featured role, or anyway: intrudes; bring the unhappy consciousness back into the human, the organically living advanced monkey realm; and the author’s affection is evident, and the silly writer’s pride when the child at an early age uses the word “sonderlich” [unusual] which indicates a fairly high mental functioning and ability to differentiate. However, I, who had been a counselor once with very young children – and the life-long ability [or liability] to revert to that age level with kids or animals, realized I was in the presence of a thoroughly intimidated being; and it wasn’t my presence either that did it. In A Child’s Story our man plaints about women friends berating him for his treatment of his baby daughter. Instead of listening to those who are usually better equipped and the better observers of these matters, Handke dismisses what they say for speaking in “usual dog language.” This is entirely in line with his objecting to “L.’s [Libgart] little lyricism in W.O.W. What these two, of legions of similar objections, large and small, have in common is linguistic perfectionism, irritability, which is great when you have pencil in hand, but with unfortunate human consequences, no matter that by and large Handke is spot on with respect to most of the language of the therapeutic, a semi-scientific Kauderwelsch, gibberish – but with great exceptions. Freud did not win the Goethe Preis for writing gibberish, and had little patience with the lingo, though he was willing to compromise with it, and since he ventured into areas, especially in his Interpretation of Dreams and The Project for a Scientific Psychology [to get away from a rotten kind of talk about Geist] to go where no one had been before took recourse to the scientific terms from other realms. Some fine writers in the field know how to put these difficult matters simply. Handke does so, poetically, especially in Walk About the Villages.

Wanting to see what a Long Island suburb looked like I think showed that Handke must have been thinking of moving to the suburbs while living on Rue Montmorency, and since he was also playing with the idea of living in the United States…[if he had asked me where established American writers then tended to live outside New York I would have mentioned Connecticut, the Cape, Sag Harbor] and then in Meudon he happened on a rabbit’s run to the Forêt de Chaville… as you find out if you read No-Man’s-Bay. Of course he had lived in a kind of suburban environment before, a bungalow – as these fairly substantial houses are called – development in Kronenburg. He had left Berlin when it became too fractious and noisy for him. I myself was sort of married to Laurie Spiegel at the time and we lived in a 4,000 square foot loft on Duane street, three quarters raw. I don’t know if Handke saw it. If I ever “showed” it to him, or if I “showed” him Laurie, I know that I once drove him, I still had my M.G.B., out to Rockaway Beach near the place I had lived after I couldn’t bear the air in Manhattan after having been at sea for six months, and we watched a sunset that looked like Battleship Graf Spee dying a fiery molten death in the mouth of some South American river, the la Plata I think [a WW child’s analogy for sure!] and as I was waiting for the famous green flash that is supposed to occur at the moment that the last bit of sun is swallowed [to the left of Staten Island in this instance], Handke pulled out his notebook flashed his pen… and I’ve wondered all these years what that amazing sight at that moment, if he noted that or something else went through his mind. There was at least one other person along, an MGB only holds three, and I think it was Marvin Kesselman, the photographer who took the cover photo for Nonsense+Happiness, the twin towers of the WTC as seen across the dunes of what was then landfill out in the Hudson and is now a finance city and school and what not, Battery City.

“New York is very hard” he said one time, 1978 I think, as we were leaning over the embankment of a roof that looked like a barge with the embankment-wide sides of its roof of a rickety loft building, once upon, mid-19th century hotel. I could have said a lot at that point, but then said nothing at all. [Writing this, I notice the number of instances where I might have said more, and there are more of those instances to come.] I might have said: down here in our artisan artist quartiér [the original Tribeca - an area south of SoHo – which means south of the Houston cross street from the East River to the Hudson – and that lies south of Canal, west of Broadway as far as, say, Fulton, the northern edge of the Wall Street area] that lasted at most a decade before the money beasts – whose unwitting pioneers we had been - ruined it] it isn’t so bad. But I knew what he meant: a sight collector walking the streets in the other quartiérs would see it in no time at all in the street scene, the way people moved. Handke then thought of them as “Indios” in the last chapter of A Slow Homecoming – but he had just spent time with such like in Alasaka – I myself didn’t realize what a good lens that was to regard the inhabitants of New York City until I lived for a while among the mestizos in Mexico. All those New Yorker cartoons about cave dwellers weren’t so far off.
When Handke returned for the second time from the West Coast, he seemed rather down, it appears the death of a ski teacher friend in Colorado that appears in the third chapter of A.S.H. is based on fact. Prior to that, when he set off, he had been chipper, and also upon his first return when he had parked a green leather traveling valise in my office prior to meeting with Vim Wenders in San Francisco, where friend John McVey happened to see him cuss a large assembly of people, back in the old cussing form occurred to me when John told me of this event about five years ago. But after Colorado he looked to be down. I might have asked why but didn’t, but we did go for that idyllic walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Prior to that last time I saw Handke in New York during the writing of A Slow Homecoming in 1978, there are several other encounters, two of them of great significance, at least for me. Insignificant ones first and several other unplaceable recollections that are floating around the memory sink: I once mentioned the American best seller writer Tom Wolfe to Handke, this must have been in the late sixties or early 70s, perhaps even at the Frankfurt Bookfair: and he pointed out at once, accurately, what a merely mimetic writer Wolfe was: well, one can see that sort of shallowness is a big hit in the puerile culture. Yes, I think it was a book fair, and I had come on Eckhart Kronenburg I think is the editor’s name of a collection entitled “Als Ich Fünfzehn War” and [I guess I was on the Handke watch even then!] it contained a totally delightful Handke text: if he was such a delightful writer and so happy at age fifteen ….what happened?? or looked back with such delight at being fifteen, I must say I would like to see that biography of his he wrote as a teenager in Tanzenberg: “My Life: Part II”.

There was the time I found out that Handke had left the Verlag der Autoren, he had been one of its founders when it, with the head of Suhrkamp’s Theater Verlag, Karl Heinz Braun, had split off and become an authors’ collective in the late Sixties. Handke said, in unmistakably righteous tone “They are all fascists.” I had represented the firm in New York for several years, and fascism, unless any form of Geselligkeit, is to be regarded as fascism, didn’t seem to fit the crew. The tone of Handke’s voice sounded defensive in all its righteousness, and so I did not press the issue. Perhaps he had no choice what with Suhrkamp putting up some considerable funds – 100 K DM I think - for, I think it was Left-Handed Woman. Or some other pressure or bribe from Grossgauner Unseld. If that kind of pressure was indeed the reason, everyone would have understood and there would have been no hard feelings. However, if you felt you had it in you and wanted to be numero uno, allying yourself with Unseld was the thing to do: he could make you if he shared the estimate of your talent and ambition [think of the sort of joke Handke makes about himself in Dying Out with Quitt beating them all – and that there are no good jokes]. I just found out from Scott Abbott that Handke showed him the letter that Roger Straus wrote Unseld in the 90s I guess complaining that he had a problem with Handke not selling. And have made my comment on this matter earlier on this blog. I guess if Unseld showed Handke the letter he must have told Roger something… I could have told Roger a few things, and perhaps I even did.
At any event, eventually Karl Heinz Braun told me that Handke had come by and asked for the rights of plays of his that were administered there. However, I always admired Handke not putting all his eggs into the Suhrkamp basket and keeping an Austrian outlet, first Residenz Verlag, and when its editor in jefe Jochen Jung started Jung und Jung [is there more than one, or has Jochen a brood and future dreams, or is it just a pretty name] doing his big diary publications and some other very Austrian things there. At any event, Handke had no compunctions about portraying Unseld rather devastatingly both in Left Handed Woman and in No-Man’s-Bay, no skin of Unseld’s nose, or not too much, who, however, did not make the uncompanionable one of the consiglieres who would advise the firm upon his death; no matter, it appears, despite the number of authors that Handke had brought there.

Once I ran into Handke and Unseld as a cousin of mine took me to the Munich airport to pick up a car to visit Martin Walser at the Bodensee. It was the briefest of encounters a “quelle surpris!”, quick introductions and goodbyes Unseld very old school nearly kissed the highborn hand, and everyone was on their hurried way. Handke later noted with acumen that the cousin had a “Knacks”, as which child of those executed after the 20th of July doesn’t. I emphatically nodded my assent. Another of the sharpshooter’s observations – and one I might have taken seriously had I known him better then - in a while.
There was also in the correspondence during the New York years, the most important sentence, that I would always remember, being, 1976 or 1977: “I am now able to do anything I want”, referring to his capacities as “nothing but a writer.” And indeed, it is something you remember if you have purchase of the genius that many if not most of the work prior to A.M.T.F. manifested. With the opening chapters of A Slow Homecoming and Walk About the Villages, with The Repetition, The Hour we knew nothing of Each Other, The Art of Asking and No-Man’s Bay I began to see what he had meant, and indeed, this is fairly awesome work. As is most of the Del Gredos monstrum and certainly Morawische Nacht and quite a few other things. But even then I realized that the way to appreciate what he meant was to think of him more as a composer than the usual kind of writer.

I know that he must have met Laurie Spiegel once, don’t recall whether he ever came to our loft, about a year or two later, when I had moved out of the loft in Duane Street, and I had taken him and Michael Brodsky to Barnabus Rex, and as we were about to leave, at any event well into the evening, Laurie entered, saw us… and promptly fainted in the doorway and Tim Burns, one of those crazy Aussies that were coming on the scene, a sheep rancher’s anarchist Maoist son [yes yes yes what didn’t you run into in downtown], carried her the half block back home to what had been our place on Duane Street. Laurie had been the one complete muse for a while and compleat passion, so, knowing what I knew about my man about the time I met Laurie, I probably was unlikely to ever show him any woman I cared for or send her to visit him in Paris, and I didn’t. My man had interfered in with, ruined, not a great passion, but something rarer, at least for me, though that he could scarcely know, a “great fondness”; and as matters unraveled on that score, through his doing, I discovered that I had been wrong on that score, too, and so it didn’t really matter - by luck I had found out something I might not have without getting married; however, I was not going to be friends with a man who had done what he had done, I might champion his work, that was something else; however it still rankled, and I realized, here’s a man who will hurt you, confirmed many years later by Vim Wender’s who said, “Handke invariably hurts the people closest to him” [how did Wenders know this unless he had been too?], “close” we were then, the closest I felt – and it is work that can make you forget or go beyond these agenbites, was translating Walk About the Villages [but what a different existence that is purely in the world of words] about five years later he would hurt those who weren’t close without malice aforethought or any thought at all, he was who he was and he also lied as he later wrote, and at once, and in the back of my mind was the knowledge, you know Roloff what a bloody shame that you didn’t have money five years ago and run away with Libgart, the one time I met someone to elope with and drop all inhibitions and good self-counsel that I had kept until then and would most of the time thereafter, but of course if I’d had money I would not have been representing Suhrkamp, though certainly translating and putting myself out for my man’s work… and we would have found out that as much as he neglected his first wife… once they leave, that’s the test whether they matter.

At some point, I think it must have been in 1975 in my office at Urizen Books Handke pronounced the famous sentence: “Ich hab schon lange keine Frauen Abenteuer gehabt.” [“I’ve not had any woman adventures for a long time.”] And instantly the thought occurred – it must have been I who had steered the conversation in that direction, I had reason to do so, we had never talked about “women” [“Die Frauen, die Frauen, die Frauen…” Handke plaints to Kolleritch around that time in their correspondence.] – “How long is a long time?”

I then arranged for drinks of the “great fondness,” to whom I continued to be quite close [there had even been some weeks during which I was singing “I can have the great passion and the great fondness”] and me and my man, who, as usual, was staying at the Algonquin with F. Scott, at the Algonquin, and to my great surprise I didn’t detect a single erotic spark between them. That was perhaps most shocking of all. Some awkwardness perhaps [?] He would not even, didn’t even call her on his own. And it must have been around that time that I didn’t want to be alone with my man and I sensed danger. The “great fondness” once she had admitted what had happened in Paris, she lied about every little thing, and smart as she was and enchanting as she could look at times, was someone who had the misfortune that all her men left her, maybe because some contact point was missing, then spilled the goods, and if you want to know what a man is like it’s good to talk to a woman who has spent some time in bed with him, as Freud and every espionage service has known for eons… And so I made it a point not to show my man any of my girl friends, and when I spent a lot of time in Paris in 1979 with a girl friend who was studying there, I took her with me to Clamart to see my all time favorite author, the old time United Front fellow, Wilfred Burchett, who lived with the kind of Bulgarian peasant wife I would see quite a few of about a year later, and avoided Meudon and its small Gründerzeit Castle altogether and didn’t even mention to her that Handke lived in Paris, because she liked his work.

That story doesn’t quite end there. It was a kind of land mine I would heave at my man epistolary about ten years later and if he’d had a sense of humor we could steal horses together…

However, let me continue to story of Barnabus Rex… When we entered I introduced Handke to the head bartender Ace [Andreas Nowa] who had studied directing at NYU and had a wonderful job keeping that shoebox of dancing and pool playing and drinking in very tight quarters under his forever smile, a cudgel behind the bar, never used I don’t think, and the way Ace was pleased, the way a smile slowly grew large in his face, as it grows slowly only on his, he knew Handke’s early work… it made for a memorable moment. And neither Handke nor Brodsky could really dance, and I played pool and danced, and Handke later noted, in Bleistift that I seemed to be someone who could be both playful and serious… true then, true still today; after a lot of miles on the tires, and some punctures too, patched, repaired. And out of the nowhere that evening Handke suddenly whispered into my ear “If you ever need $ 10 K for Urizen call on me.”… How did he know that I had committed myself to introduce a further 50 K into a firm when I had only twenty? Two other friends, also entirely out of the nowhere, made equivalent offers. I accepted them all. And probably ought not to have without taking care – but how? – not take such risks - of a personnel problem I sensed might be a real difficulty there. Handke, on meeting the director of his first NY produced plays, had not only been unhappy with their artistic merit, but mentioned that the director, that fellow, was “very dark”… I had had no sense of that at all, I had heard that he could be a bit dictatorial as a director, but who as a director coming out of German theater might not be, dressed as a German hippie clown in a suit made by his most authentic American country girl girlfriend… and lots of interesting friends… whose interesting ideas as I would find out later he appropriated as well as so much else; and who would become one of the three, the other working partner, at Urizen Books. “At least very German,” Handke qualified my demurral. So my so perceptive man knew “dark”… but I was beginning to have the vaguest sense already then, in 1975 or 76 at Barnabus Rex, that Handke might be right [and it was MY capacity for denial and over-optimism that eventually made me decide to spend some time with Sigmund and Co, no regrets on that score, worth every penny and then some, and my man turned out to be utterly so about a fellow I had made a joke to at Christmas 1974 in Andrew Arato’s apartment on McDougal Street: “Hey, you and I ought to start a publishing firm one day.” And the stare I got back as a reply meant I had hit pay dirt, deadly pay dirt as it turned out. No good jokes as the great Sigmund has it. When it came to women, however, Handke judgment was not up to that par of instant see through to the darkest layers. But then which man is perceptive in those matters? As you fall in love with an Erinye! [They are suchlike as of birth.]

Talking about psychology: I had worked hard in her majesty’s service and withstood all temptations thrown my way, and got drunk on the famous Balkan plum brandy only once, in Plodviev, with a group of fine editors, and at Levchev’s suggestion gone to the one barber left in all of Bulgaria who not only gave you a real shave but also was adept at massaging a Kater out of your head and neck… but had become progressively more charged, particularly in Plodviev, from the air of that rich soil so I told myself. {see the pertinent FN for a full account of the Bulgarian adventure, the Mönchsberg visit in German is also on-line at:
and so felt that my four week sojourn had contributed a bit toward world peace, the resolution of conflicts, nay I felt as though I was responsible for a peace treaty! and thus was on quite a high which the disappointment of the no-show of my date with “Intim aber keine Intimitäten”, who’d got a case of cold feet, who knows for the how-manieth time, did little to mitigate, just tad of biting regret, as I bought a copy of Handke’s Langsame Heimkehr, which no one had bothered to send me, and was fair overwhelmed by what a medium my man had been for communicating an overall experience of Alaska [see Alaska FN-00, also online at
and arrived, a train one later than agreed in Salzburg… and saw Handke blowing impatiently in the wind through the Mirabellen park not too far from the so-named Hotel with an Olympic sized swimming pool where I had put up in. And he was furious at my being late, oh was he ever furious!
I had figured on waking at my Pension in Vienna, hell he’ll have a couple more hours to write: thus I found out that our lord hates it when you are not punctual [he notes how upset it makes him I think it’s in Felsfenster, but without the least self-understanding why that might be so], not a promising beginning, and to assuage him I sort of lied, “What the hell, you’ve been late too” [later I reflected whether he had ever been… I was always at my office… he could just show up… I probably had always been roughly on time in Paris] and I started to talk about Bulgaria and we agreed on our liking of its people, and I happened to mention their poetry, I was carrying my now treasured anthology of Bulgarian poetry translated into German, I gestured to the ground that it had been published here, in Salzburg, by Trakl’s publisher Mueller no less. Handke, interested, I showed him a long poem by Levchev… and was astonished at the rapidity and strength which his eyes literally seemed to imbibe, suck the text, as though his eyes were vacuum cleaner tubes, and I seemed to see his brain, the gears there, whirring, the mind consuming the length of the poem before it was judged to be a fine, by Levchev; no Basheva for my man!
It was a fragmentary afternoon. We cleared up, I think I brought up the subject, a very initial misunderstanding: making it clear to Handke that it was his ass that the hideous Alan Ginsberg had wanted. We or at least I talked a lot simply by way of gestures, and Handke then did, too. So the reader can may must imagine this interchange as a set of pointing and gestures. Handke’s initial village grin, which, it turned out, had been at my, and not, as I had assumed at his own expense, thus seemed even uglier about 15 years later.
At some point Handke called me a “Trunkheld”, but I hadn’t had anything to drink and wasn’t on any kind of drug, unless Bulgaria can be said to be a drug, and this vigorous high continued for some months in New York, which I reached just in time to vote the second time for Jimmy Carter. Then we talked about this and that. {Jimmy had failed to tell me that in the meanwhile he and Ziggy had destabilized Afghanistan! Not only that, he had failed to consult me!]
Answering his question to where I was staying with Mirabelle, his reply was “I thought that you’d stay at a Hotel like that.” Handke knew nothing of my hotel habits that not in the least resembled his: except during those years I tried to swim at least once a day, also at the Frankfurt outdoor Schwimmbad where I swam into the man who managed his publishing life, the “great Swimmer across the Black Sea in the morning, and the Caspian in the afternoon”, but my fairly recent addiction to swimming, which seemed to release a lot of energies [was that the significance of my once vestigial gill?] meant putting up at rather expensive hotels. Otherwise, cheaper than Johnson’s Iroquois: pensions.

Rather quietly, it seemed out of the nowhere, Handke mentioned that his play Kaspar was a mistake, a piece that he regretted; an instance that left me speechless, not just not wanting to say what was on my mind: “So I went trough all that trouble and those aches and pains for that great play” and now it’s author regrets authoring it,” something to that effect whooshed through my head. And so I was too stunned to ask why. Later I speculated about why he might feel that way, and what could be held against the piece, and concluded: well, you could say that it was in some ways noisy, the way Oedipal neuroses tend to be; too harsh though I wish all the sheeples saw it at least once to get a faint notion of how they’ve been brain washed, the grammar in their heads that rule them! It could be said to be nihilistic I suppose… and as we found out later - since his homecoming had changed Handke and meaninglessness had been at least assuaged if not overcome, mostly… and since Handke had gradually approached and was about to or was already writing W.A.T.V. [the thought of my then impetuous and nonchalant and thoughtless behavior made me feel pretty uncomfortable when the time came to translate that very great piece! queasy!]. Anyhow, since he had definitely changed… he was no longer the same person who had wanted me to make the main sentence of Kaspar more abstract about ten years before… we were in some respects not in tandem… at that time… however, the event of reading [and being so taken by Langsame Heimkehr not that I had had the time to dwell on it the way I have meanwhile], had made me soar even more… Someone had come up out of the blue or grey of Vienna and said that I reminded her of Sorger as she saw me reading the book… I mentioned that to Handke and he said he’d thought of me only once while writing the book, and I wasn’t Laufer either apparently, a role I certainly filled many times in my life… and the thought flitted through my head, so he remembers every thought he had in writing the book?[someone who forgets so much else I would add now.] And I allowed: “What a lot of pathos!” And he agreed. And I will not dissertate on the reasons for pathos here… first time it appears in Handke’s work, as bestf as my memory recalls, is at the end of Self-Accusation, and then in the “if only” section in Kaspar.
He had been Kaspar, a Kaspar at that point in 1968, you can regard the play as an autist’s self-portrait, and without knowing the slightest thing about autism at that point I had given Peter Brooke a copy of Roman Jakobson’s Child Language, Aphasia and Phonological Universals, when he was going to do the play, and I fixed the too wild and wooly way the way I had translated Handke’s derision of rhyming poetry. Vide: or
for a piece I stand by on translating the early plays.
Out of the nowhere Handke mentioned, and quite aggressively, a recent Enzensberger poem: “If I wanted to see a really hideous poem I ought to look at that.” I hadn’t seen the poem and was shocked by the aggression to not even mention that I hadn’t, but guessed that Handke knew that I knew Enzensberger quite well, since 1961 at Ruth Landshof-York’s as matter of fact, and had translated two volumes of his essays, and had published them and one of his books of poetry, Mausoleum. But I didn’t care for E. as a person much any more, he had behaved most falsely, and unnecessarily so. Not that I gave Handke the history of what had been a wonderfully trouble-free relationship with someone who did not try to dominate, who was able to listen, and with whom I could have interesting conversations. I also knew that E. had attempted to get to know H. when the latter had burst onto the scene in 1966, but that H. had been unresponsive [that they had the same publisher seemed not to matter to H. He describes himself as thoroughly “ungesellig” – uncompanionable - in a letter to Born]; and so it was good to have that whiff of Handke’s hatred or whatever dislike or envy of E. for a background when he delivered himself so famously about E. during the Handke-Yugo skirmishes: [see anon, the section on the Yugoslav skirmishes and see the Enzensberger footnote @:
Handke’s description of E. in the interview did not fit my experience of the person or his work. The métier couldn’t do without a tad of vanity if only as encirclement of the self. Somehow or other my man then borrowed some notions from Enzensberger’s brilliantly prognostic The Civil Wars for his No-Man’s-Bay. E. was too damn brilliant for too many people! Uwe Johnson didn’t like Enzensberger because he was a bit sybaritic. Johnson never got to know me during my sybaritic 10 years in Tribeca! No amount of alcohol I guessed could soften Johnson. All these writers didn’t really get along or like each other very much as I then found out. That had also been the case in Bulgaria, the film makers had the better time of it. Poets committed suicide at the rate of one a week and ground their heels in broken glass in the bars.
Out of another nowhere I mentioned that “one had to do it all oneself”… I imagine the pathos was still percolating in the semi-conscious; and I was evidently dimly thinking upon my difficulty, the one whom Handke had identified as “dark” not quite ten years previously.
I mentioned a cousin of mine who had gone around embracing trees as a child, because I thought she was so wounded and Handke said: “Of course.” So when it came to wounds we sort of understood each other. But I didn’t know what mine were at that point.
We had a glass of wine… perhaps a bite to eat somewhere [but where?] and then ascended the Mönchsberg, this was my second time in Salzburg, the other time had been at Hegel conference where I was going to interview Georgy Lukacs, I was good at interviewing, but Lukacs didn’t show [and in retrospect I regret not visiting him in Budapest]; yet the company of so much hypertrophied intelligence and beautiful philosophical heads, was memorable indeed…
I think it must have been a Sunday and on Sunday it turned out Handke played Tarot and he took me along to the apartment in the once fortress archbishop’s residence, I forgot whose it was, but the deskman at the Mirabelle Hotel whom I asked for directions had said that “all the big animals lived there”, he was reading Simmel and I pointed to Langsame Heimkehr and mentioned that I was going to meet its author up there, and that he too wrote quite simply, and that he ought to give the book a try.
I forgot whose magnificent apartment it was, in the castle, I assumed initially it was Handke’s, wood paneled splendor, perhaps the head of the festival. As soon as we were in company that Handke knew well it appeared he was his own self and introduced me as the person who had translated his first plays and “that he had looked among his books to find a copy” [of Kaspar and other Plays] but had been unsuccessful. I noted to myself that actually it was two volume of altogether close to ten plays, two volumes of poetry, and one novel. It hadn’t been child’s play, but Handke talks about his own work like that sometime, too. Still, there had been no need to bring it up even. In the mid-80s he actually suddenly wrote “danke danke danke” for everything. He was daft all right. He seated me to his left and explained the game, which I understood in a flash. I seemed to become too excited for him in a short time and he said I should play with an opposing player, who sat to his right, a dermatologist if I recall rightly, I think one other person present, aside the Festspiel director, was a Germanist. Anyhow, since I could now take charge of playing a game I had understood in a flash, so I did, and added not just the Skat dimension but that of bridge and especially poker, and the dermatologist and I cleaned up, who said, yes it seems to work that way too! Did it ever. When I describe the evening to the Austrian film person in 1994 who described the interaction between the then – in 1980 -not yet in Handke’s life Marie Colbin and my man, she commented, no he hates to lose at anything. I had had one other friend like that, ultra competitive, I would only beat him by being utterly nonchalant and utterly playful; that is, by accident. [?] Anyhow, consciousness had to be absent, which does no mean that unconscious factors are not in play.
There was one break with a call from Unseld, also part of the Sunday routine, and to an apartment that was not Handke’s! I assumed that Handke lived in the castle, only later I found out that he lived in villa just a tad further down, as described in The Afternoon of a Writer whence he, both famous and notorious, descends into the gossipy streets of Salzburg. [see the Handke-abodes photo gallery that I am in the process of adding to the other photo blogs].

I had asked to talk to Unseld, but surprising he was of no help in money matters that I needed to take care of the next day in Switzerland. At one point I whispered into Handke’s ear whether he too noticed the “oh so quiet on little cats paws girl servants refilling glasses and the like – das Huschen - had become obtrusively noticeable to me who at no end of events has preferred to talk to the help.

Looking back at this event with enriched [?] hindsight: he must have hated being demonstrably out-played, manifestly. It was my grandfather, from whom I had learned Skat, kibitzing between 1945 and 1947 outplaying grandpa Sivec, the Ote, too, I suppose, and with complete playfulness. I am fairly positive I was sort of gunning for my man for aforedetailed reasons, and if he had been able to play with a similar sense of humor… But he didn’t and he wasn’t, at the end of the evening with the big animals he said he would show me the way down the mountain, and was infuriated. It turned out that it was the re-imported persuaded Libgart who had answered the phone, and as punishment for my bad behavior “I am not going to show her to you.” Alas. “And when will you stop being a totally playful child” or words to that effect, to which I replied as emphatically I could on that clear evening at about the spot where Handke said the poets in Salzburg committed suicide and I think is the very spot where Loser, in Across, tosses the old Nazi overboard after having stoned him to death [something like that, anyhow a self righteous murder, execution] he then baptized me with the words “that’s all right, too.” And I realized he was not going to be permanently infuriated. And the next morning, after going for a swim in the hotel’s Olympic sized pool with the Austrian National Swimming team I tried calling him to apologize and didn’t say “Hi Libgart” to the woman who answered the phone because we would then have started to talk… and I did not have that much time before taking the plane to the next Hotel with “Wellenbad” [wave action] no less, the Dolder in Zurich, but at some point after I forgot how many minutes when Handke did not come to the phone I had to hang up. When I then read the description of the Tarot players in Across as enigmatic as Cezanne’s Card Players… I recalled Handke’s wish that nothing in my translation of Walk About the Villages ought to be “geheimnistuerisch” I think were his words, overly enigmatic, secretive….Alas, other matters that the there in Across self-named “Loser” [not just after a mountain I imagine] leaves a bit too enigmatic…

The Translation of Walk About the Villages

The most interesting and valuable part of our correspondence, and also of our inter-action - revelatory of the location of the two freighters at the time - transpired during my translation of Walk About the Villages, and Handke’s suggestion [by then he knew what translating was about] can be found in my postscript to the book and at: at the page devoted to Villages on the
site and on the translation site:
The latter contains some of Handke’s fine observations on that task: “A good writers supports a translator by the elbows” - Handke and his work most certainly does, and then if a text has music and rhythm [s] and if you are responsive to that as a CAPABLE translator…

On sending the galleys of the play, in 1981 or 1982 Handke wrote, no doubt recalling my constant worries for Urizen Books which was in the process of going down “Only for slow perusal. Nothing for business.” Also, I seem to have had a case of anemia, which at that time made me more than usually soft-headed, and my exceedingly positive first response [which made Handke “feel good” – “tut mir gut”] also contained something like: “Oh boy, this is going to tax me to the utmost. [It would]”, but the part of my response to the text’s religiosity – which elicited recollection of a few early childhood years spent in a former nunnery in Vornbach am Inn, near Passau, with attached Baroque church [I looked it up just now on the web! Boy is it ever magnificent!] and which response was in reference to this - didn’t go over big at all in Salzburg. Handke even mentioned his objection a second time later on [see anon]. I decided not to get into an argument over the matter, but if you read the alternating discourse towards the end of the W.A.T.V. – .e.g. the sponge containing vinegar as it is lifted up to Jesus on the cross for succor! -and keep in mind that the image of the play’s second act is that of a bench at a cemetery wall with a cypress peace tree in back… there’s a fair amount of Christian imagery and reference there! One could even maintain that “objectively” it is suffused with Christian spirituality! So it was with some surprise I read a recent interview where Handke mentions that during the last stages of his “homecoming” to Austria [W.A.T.V. is the fourth part of the four book complex with A Slow Homecoming - which features Sorger blessing the folks below from his perch in the Hotel Adams in N.Y. - The Lesson of St. Victoire and A Child’s Story preceding in that order] he returned in his way to the church and read all the sacred texts again. I have no problem with that, am glad to live at the tail end, in the wake of the Christian meteor; somewhat infused, showered, in its ambience, feeling thusly enriched, but not priest-ridden, not even ridden, or especially not as one of his children, by an Austrian country priest of the kind that Handke might so easily have become if he had stayed longer at the Tanzenberg Seminary and a country priest is the only real life friend to appear as such also as a person as one of the various personae of Handke’s that we find in My Year in the No-Man’s Bay. Thus I am puzzled what his objection to my response was about? He had even mentioned that W.A.T.V. was sort of Elliotish [T.S.] whose High Churchness recently struck me as sort of surface, essentially disconnected. Did Handke’s own realization of a certain kind of return to the fold, or anyhow to the kindlier influences that Christianity can bestow take time to be realized by him himself? Is it an instance of the same kind of “daftness,” delayed realization, that I find so often in Handke’s socially inept [autistic] behavior? The affinity expresses for idiots that becomes noticeable if you know his texts in their entirety. Idiots once meant everyman, in Greek. He feels [oh how justly I would say] guilty for having been a miserable father to his first daughter… and the theme of “the child” suddenly begins to dominate, also in W.A.T.V. “the child” knocking a stick on the floor to call attention to “children being at stake”; around 1986 I get a letter saying “thank you thank you thank you” for the work I did twenty years ago for the early plays [done for their own sake, the author might have been a frog for all I cared, and I have loved frogs dearly since my childhood pond days]; is that yet another feature of the social ineptness that is certainly part of his attenuated autism? Or what he calls his former arrogance, supposedly abating? Anyhow, instances such as these are legion. But not in the work, not in the “world of words.”
Handke left the Catholic Church when the Pope failed to, as far as Handke was concerned [!], object strongly enough to the bombing of Yugoslav infrastructure! [I think this is on the level of petulance of his returning the Büchner Preis and seems to be oblivious of the fact that the Pope has had no armies to fight for him for quite a few centuries! And evidently the Popes are quite unable to keep their priests halfway in order; the millions of sheeples is quite another herd that the herder in chief…]. Handke then joined the Orthodox branch and there is a photo of him with some Orthodox worthies on one of the on-line photo albums I have devised.

Handke attends a small Orthodox chapel in his neighborhood and tries to find an Orthodox church to visit wherever he travels. Fine with me if it keeps my man connected to his ancestors and keeps his faith in the human alive. However, I could probably do Public Insult’s worth of similar daftnesses of Handke’s, which need mentioning in this context, especially his laughter at what is generally regarded at inappropriate moments.
With all I had going on in 1981-82, it took me a while to get to Villages, the work stretched over a couple of years, and was then completed with extraordinary intensity around Christmas 1982-83, being shouted out in my loft. Thus this translation, as circumstances would have it, became A TRANSLATION VERY MUCH FOR VOICE: a freeing of the constraints of the diaphragm is what was involved, a cleansing of the whole voice box. Very much done from the solar plexus; but also with a keen and burning mind. Had it been done say around 1987 when I had calmed down to become a kind of “king of slowness”, too, on the dusty paths among the chaparral of the St. Monica Mts.… who knows what it might have come out like then, perhaps it would have been infused by the deep, long swells of the surf all the way from the South Pacific, and I would have waited like those admirable surf riders on the south-facing beaches in Malibu… for the right word and formulation… for the right wave and rhythm.
With reference to the translation: I first want to emphasize the "anaclytic" [anschmiegsame] ability of a translator, the necessary empathy; not just the translator's oral & digestive or possibly competitive potential! That is for starters for what I am after here: not just as translator of a text that is entirely metaphoric, both over all and specifically, but how translation in that situation [I in analysis, opened up, Handke just having opened up as much as he could and oracled a bit and written a work that he had gradually approached, prepared for for many years and that contains all of him, how we came close via “a third” as the analytic profession calls it, a “text” in this case, a second third existing between my analyst and me, called “the analysis”, a different project.] The text of W.A.T.V. however also had something of the quality of a transitional object although these “objects” are not generally thought of as achieving permanence, that would be a fetish, but of my fetishes W.A.T.V. is certainly the most enriching.
But I am getting ahead of myself a bit, and need to be very specific. I - in this instance someone who was at both the height of depths of an analysis that had brought me back to a trauma at age nine months – you do relive your entire during a complete regression, a complete opening up – but of course you aren’t nine months old, and so you have find ways of dealing with the trauma, and you do, as you had not before: you have not only the analyst four hours a week and the trip there and back, but you have a text its metaphors, one by one, by one that happens to contain all, everything, every aspect of Handke’s, his [and objectively many people’s including my] very darkest impulses and his best:
"At dusk it is quiet and empty there, the mounds are enshrouded , the glaciers have melted just now, it is ten thousand years before out time, and it is our time...."
"The last dramas are those of places..."
"Land, lower your flag and coat of arms. Valleys all, strike your hymns, forget your names. Ways here, shelter yourself in namelessness... Construction site, here, you too, as in the old saying, animate yourself in nameless simplicity."
"We are the figures walking in the distance through the fields, the silhouettes in the cross country bus which drives through the snow plain. Our shadow faces fill the first to last subway are and only in the curves do our eyes briefly lose touch..."
"I saw this spot as the colors and forms which had been cleansed of everything secretive, everything parochial, everything atmospheric, everything typical, everything manic...."

expressing projecting, containing via word magic every aspect of himself in poetically transformed specificity; and thus I was engaged in participating in his process, metaphorically, that is far more than intellectually

"A few centuries ago it was the practice in this valley to make so-called leaf-masks. Between woodcut leaves a a mouth opened and out looked human eyes. Once I saw us - not just us three - thus together in the foliage, I walked late in fall through a large park that was covered with fallen leaves, the afterglow of the sunset sky on them, the leaves moved lightly between the blades and sometimes one of them also leaped up or flipped over,and while I moved slowly through the leaves all our faces and all our stores rose form the foliage: it was one face and one story, and this one face and the one story that I know now, should be the goal of the work, not only of my work but of all our work. The movement of these fallen leaves in the grass was the gentlest that man has ever seen! But now it is as though only a few single leaves chased after me in the dark crackling and rusting like dogs or pursuers."
And perhaps also this one:
"Wretched is everything, from here to the horizon, and here is the pain, forever. I will turn to me dead. Haven't they been the green field on my breast time and again? It is them I address in the dark, and they appear, in the eye of the cat, in the branch brushing the window in the night-wind, even in the humming of the ice box. The skeletons lie there stretched on in the earth and can be approached. I will squat down with them, and that will do me good. No, they don't want anything from me and are not angry. I think myself free of everything - and they are there, not as the dead but as my saints and helpmates. I show my profile to the false abundance of the here and now and they form the interface profile in empty space. I let them be around me and my evil blood flows differently. My dead are not ghosts of the night - they are part of the brightest daylight, and I touch them not when I sleep but when I rest...

Letting the sentences sink in, reforming them, reformed and translated them in a kinship language, transformed trough me during a stage in my life at the end of which I sort of felt like a husk, drained by what Handke’s work had sucked out of me, what I had externalized into it, but also as a new born babe, but a babe that was also in a rage! Narcissistic rage! is the general term for it, and Handke noticed it too, responding at the end that he couldn’t imagine a better translation than it and that it was “cutting [schneidend] in a good sense.” A while further on when I sent him some of my own stuff, he also noted: “You still seem to be fighting,” perhaps not imagining that I might fight him, too! Well, the translation work, had had least bound some of the rage which was not that pleasant for the rest of the world I don’t think. And it is not that bad a state to be in for a writer, and I wish that Handke had been a real rage of that kind when he wrote his Untertags Blues [Subday Blues] which I must be the only person in English to discuss at some real length at:
- its problematics perhaps are not that Handke lacked access to his lifelong rage but that the formalizing procedure, Handke’s formalism, one of his great strengths as an artist, had helped make it a monotonous work. I myself, well aware that I was no longer afraid of my own violence, wrote a play at the end of which half-brothers knock each other out, the mad notion had been that aggression might cauterize itself in that fashion; since masochism only filled me with disgust.

Handke’s reaction to the first draft of W.A.T.V goes like this and shows what a wonderful collaborator he is in these matters:

Feb 20/ 82

"I'll be brief. By and large you are on the right track, that's for sure. In some respects you are on smaller wrong tracks [32]... The piece has no jargon, verbal jokes... at a few spots you lose the illusion of the merry [Heitere], of matter of factness, of festiveness. The whole piece should have ONE language, even-handed, regular, like a song. A friend wrote years ago about the music of Credence Clearwater Revival [C.C.R. hereafter]: "They sing as one voice." That is what W.A.T.V. is like; not one sentence should be a witty aside. "Sharp" "natural", "high" "bitter" "wildly melancholy," "immensely tender": those were the levels which altogether resulted in that ONE sound. [The immensely tender" is for Nova's speech.] Technical, psychological, theological philosophical vocabulary is out of place... Perhaps you should stick to the fact that many sentences ought to be as clear and as mysterious as oracular sayings: much in the text, regarded this way, is at least ambiguous; e.g. "das übernatürliche ist nicht zu erwarten;" or :"die Künstler bilden das Volk"... At the same time, nothing should be mystified: you must know what to do with each and every sentence, and it has to come out of your flesh.

"The songs in Part One in many ways are formed after those of C.C.R. and even quote a few lines: "run through the jungle" "looking through the back door;" "somewhere I lost the connection" (Lodi) etc. etc. Give a close listen to these songs; to the text and the music, the wild, simple, sonorous, serious, lamenting is precisely the original of the songs of W.A.T.V.; and not only of the songs, but also of the alternating discourse [the highest form of drama Goethe called it, distinguishing it from dialogue]... Even before the curtain opens, when the brother [Gregor] starts up: "My brother wrote me a letter." it roars softly of the ballad "she wrote me a letter"...[also from a Credence song]. Incidentally, none of the rhymes are meant to be humorous: rather, the weight should be on the burdening irony, the irony with which dangers, pain, catastrophes that have been withstood are told... And: Bob Dylan plays a small role in the subterranean homesickness blues. The text ought never be over-formulated, no finesse that might bring the reader up short. That still happens too frequently. You'll know it yourself. Realize that all of this was written from the deepest soul and watched over by a spirit which double-checked itself clearly, at least during the writing; and that every "saying" comes from the material, not out of my private sphere but also out of your, etc. It is a materialistic piece, but the material, the stuff comes from a human being who, writingly testifies [bekennt] to it, who has opened himself up (as wide as was possible for him) and who vaulted up [aufgeschwungen] to something or took wing [beflügelt]...All that, at first glance, or as a whole, or in some sentences, may seem light-headed [leichtsinning], or cloudy, but that is not the case, and it isn't right either that you feel the piece touches you because part of your childhood was spent in Catholic South Germany. It is an objective piece, but as I said, most things are already right. Don't be afraid to be sharper and simpler than the German, it should not become unambiguous..."

July 8/82

"Briefly: the prose sections are good [letter narrative, etc.]; the lyrical sections seem to me not that good. Also when the language --one main trait of the piece -- becomes oracular – mystifications [geheimnistuerisches] is not what I have in mind. I don't think the following examples really hit the spot: 'don't be the main character,' seek out the fight, no thoughts in back of your mind," [which for better of worse have become "Don't be the top dog. Seek out the face-off. Have no thoughts in back of your mind".] this whole very important speech of Nova's becomes pompous in your hand [besserwisserisch, geheimnistuerisch] That is the problem: the piece must really be rendered sentence by sentence; the German sentences must become a quiet weight for you, and only then can you carry this weight into the English linguistic image; that very often is not the case in your translation; and only that could be called translating. Also you have not recognized that the prose sections often become rhythmical too, with risings and falling [Hebungen und Senkungen] as in free verse. What is lacking, what carries the discourse is the grace [Anmut]. Do you understand what I mean?... I can see your difficulties, but can't help you in any other way than this. Primarily what is missing is the laconic quality which my writing, with all its excesses, possesses."
A tall order it looks like even now, though at the time - I was pushing into unknown territory, Handke's was setting the compass rose as well as someone who, meanwhile, knew the task of translating, I could keep each piece of advice, except the "sentence by sentence," in mechanical mind at any one time: thence lay madness! Yet if I think about the various requirements, who knows whether I met them altogether and found a good enough solution to each and every one. Of course not! That was in Summer of 1982 and, by and large, I let the text rest until late that fall - also: events intervened that kept me from it until it was the only thing I wanted to turn to. And "circumstances" and analysis produced a state of mind where P.A.d.R. announced at one session that all defenses were down... wide open on the table. One {Handke} had known how to open himself as "wide as possible", the other had happened into the same state. There came the time… the intercession, vacation from analysis, and for once I had the loft and two weeks entirely to myself. The trek was becoming lonelier. Part of me felt that nothing would daunt me, as long as I could push on. One way of solving the "sentence by sentence," each sentence anchored by its own image problem, was to concretize it for myself by associating an experience to it, a personal, a read or seen experience such as Handke's own reference to Robert Bresson's 1967 film La Mouchette in the lines: "One evening I watched on television the story of a teenage girl who was shunned by her village as a rape victim and who finally killed herself... Finally, though, she succeeded, she plopped into the water and went down at once, and with the organ music which set in then I was seized by a crying fit." For example, for the "most pathetic" I was just then able to associate a current re-experience of the aboriginal childhood trauma - and not "acting out" a momentary cure but working on this text, it helped, it binds; and, meanwhile, after closely imagining Handke’s childhood; I see specifically his experience of that, too. And it is amazing under what conditions, if left undistracted, it is possible to work. Another fairly recent experience that came out of my flesh was: "Have your forgotten my frightfully gentle replies to the bosses and the bosses' assistants tyranny which echoed even out into the street, my eyes round with fear at the cash register's daily take?"

Also, I had made some real acquaintance with the "machine of evil." I had come to know the extent to which "the doctors didn't stick to us." The brilliant and thoroughly empathic and sensitive P.A. d. R. erred in playing "Laius in the Armchair," and both of us were sorrier for it! And our "rush to judgment" proved a dearth of imagination, which in that situation as in every other, is the primary prerequisite, did so to the point of ultimately useful but certainly premature and adventurous severance. Indeed, I came to fit an association, a story, an unloosened feeling and experience to each sentence and thus found the image for it. And I certainly was close enough in analysis at that point to: "Turning to my dead... It is them I address in the dark, and they appear, in the eye of the cat, in the branch brushing the window in the night wind, [the creaking of the wood of the ancient barque of my loft] even in the humming of the icebox... My dead are not ghosts of the night - they are part of the brightest daylight, and I touch them not when I sleep but when I rest. They are with me! Yes, sometimes I feel seen by them, in friendliness." Sentences from W.A.T.V. keep rumbling around my head even now, and the text is, or has become so obsessively multi-leveled for me in the meanwhile that I can associate sentences of it for just about each and every moment in life, or rather: sentences from it pop into my mind, and for all I know I may recite it on my deathbed. Better I think than the Radetzky March anyhow!
This access to the imagoes - after a while you catch on to the fact that analysis is little else but a conversation with the living past - in Del Gredos, written twenty years later, the heroine speaks of the imagoes fading… Access to my now no longer repressed feelings to each of these observed experiences entered the translation of each sentence, lent it "weight", anchored and directed it, helped focus my voice and dredge up the appropriate words as I went feeling over my mystic writing pad for them. I was becoming freer and more decisive and daring. I realized I was entering an area of re-invention when I translated the untranslatable German "erschütterbar" in Nova's enigmatic first major speech, as "Tremble, quake, shatter, heal." For a while I felt I was oracling, too, albeit in highly formalized, controlled linguistic setting, which grandiosity has a certain humor even if you have it in you. Yet I think such a state of oracling is quite rare and the accompanying intensity is not to be recommended for every-day living, "translating another's wounds" as Handke describes a translator's task in The Afternoon of a Writer.

So you wouldn’t think that two people who had come to close over such fine mutual work would ever fall apart! Freud, the initiator, of the transference process in the state of regression on the couch was so puzzled by some phenomena in that situation that he gave serious consideration to the possibility of extra sensory perception, and I certainly had moments, too, which puzzled me not only about myself but about certain instantaneous perceptions by my first analyst that anticipated matters merely singing in my mind. In matters analytic online, I point you to a gateway to nearly all of it:

Handke was so pleased with the final version in Spring 1983 he clear forgot in his enthusiasm that he was the originator of a piece that I could not even have conceived of! All I had been, after all, was a medium. But what a medium I say retrospectively. And so we might not have become estranged if we had both just been abbots in our respective monasteries, occasionally visited by a disobedient delicious nun who would leave us a the right time to our verbal magicking, and – most importantly -if I hadn’t come out of the analytic experience with eyes wide open, no denial of any kind, the reason I had gone in the first place, a dim awareness that I had been born with pink glasses, as “reborn fighter” [cutting indeed as Handke’s ear had heard it in my American]… and Handke lacking a sense of humor at a particular tested moment a few years hence! W.A.T.V. is by far his richest work, even now he lives off that, and you can see the subsequent texts – brilliant and deep and more “playable” as they are – become thinner. W.A.T.V. became the source for everything that would follow. Even Del Gredos, written about 20 years later suddenly harks back, recalls, takes recourse to its rhythms and not as scavenger of his own work [see
something Handke is quite capable of if he’s found the right melody for an aria and wants to use it but with different words. As a matter of fact, it is probably better that the kind of fit as it occurred over a text takes place at great mutual remove; just as the close remove of analysis has its own perfection. So near so far. So far so near. And so you’d think, well nothing can go wrong in that relationship again, whatever problems there might have been or Oedipal jealousies would have been obviated.
The aforementioned Don Juan, another misogynist [removed out of this defensor’s life for that reason] but a brilliant fellow, had it right years later in pointing out that we’d gotten dangerously close. Perhaps that would not have mattered, but trying to get the beautiful beast published then, astonishingly, led to a most unexpected severance, surely because I had come out of analysis a better and harder and less confused fighter than I had been before. After all the publishing firm would not have survived more than one year had it not been for that, especially so because Handke turned out to have been so right about how dark my Hagen had turned out to be. W.A.T.V. has first rate descriptions of the “machine of evil’s” machinations.
To my “I love to fight” my analyst’s response had been wry sardonicism. If he had asked his usual “why”… what would I have said but, “it feels right”, it’s part of my identity? “But where did you acquire it?” “Must you always?” “Yes, if it’s something beautiful, if I run into bastards…” And I had the bastards in sight, and I was gunning! And I was winning! Especially against the ex-partner whose darkness Handke had spotted a decade or so ago.
As bad luck would have it, both mine and Handke’s nemesis was editor in chief at Farrar, Straus; had it been up to this fellow [FN-FSG] the first Handke book way back in 1966 would never have seen the light of day there; fortunately, Robert Giroux interceded. However, Farrar Straus, had asked for the translation of W.A.T.V.. And so I got into a fight there, a fight I did not win except that I managed to get everything “on the record”, which seemed to matter a great deal to me at the time, whereas Handke was confused if not troubled by my undiplomatic insistence. I might of course given him all the dirty tails and not just kept him informed by sending copies of the correspondence. Or he might have interceded with someone he did not care for either, with Roger Straus; and say more than
“Publishers can be weird.” I did not feel backed up. Fine, then I’ll go it alone. Something to that effect. You might say I fought for W.A.T.V. the way Handke fought for his idea of Yugoslavia/ Serbia! W.A.T.V. had become my amour fou, and I think is an entirely deserving one, whereas in the case of Yugoslavia only Handke’s IDEA of it is. And then, of course, I did find a firm that wanted to do it, and I had the written promise of a contract and left New York for the woman with whom for three months I crossed the bridge of A Touch of Evil back and forth before garrison town El Paseo became depressing and we found a hunting lodge way up at eight and a half thousand feet [just like dear old Granddad occurred to me subsequently!] in the Sacramentoes, island in the desert, and I reverted to another form of existence, I felled trees, water “came out of a rock” nearby, I hunted, but the neighborhood bear fled from the Texan bear hunters, the Turkeys disappeared at the start of hunting season, and the big Mulie decided to mingle with the cattle that the ranchers drove up from four thousand feet below to our eight; and the only thing I killed was a deer that played Hamlet, just like a squired, before my car as we drove back from the one bar within miles on New Years eve, or maybe the deer was drunk!. At eight thousand feet at that time of year you don’t need a freezer. We immediately got two goats and two dogs, and then when M. couldn’t hack it up in them thar hills though we had built a studio for her, lugging abandoned railway ties for the foundation, I also reconnoitered that quadrant of Lincoln National Forest on a horse, wearing a sweatshirt from the Tularosa Trading Post 4 thousand feet down on the west side of the island, that featured an Indian on a horse with a broken lance!
And M. and I camped all over the New Mexico, Whites Sands, the Permian Sea, the trans-Pecos, the Llano Estacada and southwest Texas all the way to the Carmen Range and Big Bend and across the Rio Grande and from every hamlet I’d drop Handke a postcard, signed “as ever”, but matters of no relevance to this tale [FN-00] then made me cut out further west in Spring of 1987 and find an even more idyllic spot, with pepper corns and Juniper sap dripping on the roof, though not at as high an elevation, only about 2,000 feet in the St. Monicas Mountains near County Line between Los Angeles and Ventura. Went back to New York to close up my loft, nearly fell back into my old pleasurable city ways, and also to check on the promised contract for W.A.T.V. But the two people at the firm changed their mind, they were people I had given work to when I had been a publisher myself; oddly enough they not only changed their mind, but wanted to reprint other things of mine. And I wrote a drop dead letter, with copy to the P.E.N. Club and to Handke. Again: if I had not been in a fighting mood… However, Handke’s reply to my letter to P.A.J. was odd and revelatory in the extreme – I had had not reply to any letters or postcards for more than a year. It began with “nice to hear from you again,” which struck me as odd in the extreme under the circumstances, and then threatened the abrogation of our friendship if I persisted in writing such letters. I imagine Handke had had great hopes for a work that he had poured his everything into. The German reception was anything but kindly. For his Austrian fellow writers he sounded like the priest on high; those stuck in “critical theory” seemed to have forgotten that the theory implied the positive, it was critical of an absence. Who was being undialectical now? Perhaps I with my problems with publishers was becoming an obstacle? “You can’t do that to a writer” was the most puzzling sentence of the letter: “What is being done to him?” I thought. That and of course the threat. I had been allergic to threats all my life: if you wanted to rouse me, get my back up, all you needed was threaten me. Especially then. But what was being done to Peter Handke? I suppose contiguity and that is a matter that pertains to this monograph. But it is a supposition: his being associated with my drop dead letter? I look at his drop dead statements during the Yugoslav controversy. His are verbally far more powerful! At any event, I then typed – to be sure to be unmistakably legible[!] – on several postcards – on my first type-writer that was part computer with its memory chip - something like the following – and then I imagined that I was Handke as he was waiting for what Amina would do when she had come to him and asked “Daddy I need to pee” and he had waited to “see what would happen now”, wrote something to the effect of: “Aren’t we lucky to have continued to be friends despite that business with the Great Fondness and, you know, if I’d not been tied up, you know I and the Rasante would have run away back in 1971, she was just right shirt size for me.” And then waited a while for an answer, but the answer was Handke’s at once turning to Ralph Mannheim to do another translation of W.A.T.V.! Infuriating me! Not what I would write now after contemplating at some length what the devastating effect the Rasante’s leaving had on my man. My letter may have woken all kinds of rabid dogs!
Later, once I had taken a close at Handke’s biography, on reflection and contemplation of the injury that the loss of the disparu of die Rasante Libgart Schwartz had caused in the early 70s, my expectation of humor on Handke’s part was definitely misplaced. But perhaps also the shock of his realizing that I had known about his dastardliness for years! That the pretense of “not having had any woman adventures” had been seen through! Thus the Oedipally possessed injure each other, whose whole extent did not really register until I spent a little time with the Touhamares during my years in Mexico, where the men have nothing better to do but steal each other’s women and the women have nothing better to do than steal each other’s men, and where stealing is fun and you must steal! Meanwhile, I freed myself of being so much under Handke’s sway, overwhelmingly possessed by the text of W.A.T.V., deeply internalized as each of its sentences are, and try to be a getreue Korreptitor of Handke’s work, critique him within his own terms as he asks of his critics, and am glad to live at something like six thousand miles remove from someone whose work I will defend but towards whom as a person I feel ambivalence.
With my own analysis of the analysis nearing completion in the eighties and doing a review of Handke’s 1984 novel Across [Der Chinese des Schmerzens] that begins with the sentence “Close your eyes” but mine now wide open eyes espied… denial, lots of it, and at critical moments, mystifications. – I had thought at some point earlier to write maybe something about what was involved translating the early work, but now – walking like a “King of Slowness” on the dusty pathos through the Chaparral and under the influence also of the slowing syntax of Handke’s The Repetition and that of the long swells from the South Pacific that became thunderous breakers [Malibu allegedly means “loud thundering surf in the language of the no longer extant Chumash, at the end of my six year stay up there I lived within a half mile of one of their old caves] on the south-facing Malibu beach, thunder thumps audible even at my few thousand feet elevation – I started to examine at great length, and closely, and what an education and adventure it became, to take a really close look not only at Handke’s work but at him as a person, and since he is such an exhibitionist… found a lot to examine and unravel and have been enriched by the work and the connection to the better side, except when Handke distorts and denies or leaves out. And what if his 1987 The Afternoon of Writer doesn’t mention a “former” and “ex-friend” who sends apparently illegible postcards as he gets lost in the Sierras writes the fellow who became something of a mountain goat in the Sierra del Gredos. Ah yes, if we’d written the real story of that, wouldn’t that have been interesting, not that I don’t think it’s not quite a wonderfully shaped novella, dream image writing, wounded by Salzburg gossip, for good reason it turns out, feeling like nothing yet king of the hill, and where, in the novella, I first met, in some edge of town dive, Darko or is it Zarko whose name was thus familiar when I re-encountered him as a Handke compadre on his Yugoslav adventures some years later.
When no one in this country seemed to want to do his great The Play about the Film about the War, the best thing of Handke’s to be inspired by his involvement in the disintegration of Yugoslavia – and an objective and rightly ambiguous piece of work indeed [see my take on it at
I had a “no” back from him with the message that “I should accept that” – as though I had needed another loss leader or another hole in the head with another Handke adventure! Fortunately Scott Abbot finally did a translation this year, 2009. As one reads No-Man’s-Bay and Del Gredos and some of the other works it becomes noticeable how frequently the main characters make mention of their enemies! I am no longer surprised that someone who seeks peace nearly desperately then has managed to make so many of them.

Yugoslav Adventures
The last major episode to shed light, and in extremis, on my man's traumatized psychological make-up was his involvement in the disintegration of Yugoslavia; and it continues to this day. He has written a half dozen books or more on the subject, the first of which – Abschied des Träumers vom Neunten Land: eine Wirklichkeit, die vergangen ist [1991] shows us his approach and the significance of Yugoslavia for him. It was his land of peace, and if you have followed me so far and appreciate the violent impulses and aversions that dwell in Handke as well the search of someone who can be the sweetest and loveliest of men and his pathos drenched longing for peace, perhaps you will also appreciate what the destruction of his land of peace - amour fou though it is [but tell that to a lover about the ass he or she drools about!] - will mean and what a potential landmine will go off, as it did in his case.

In 1992 Handke became father of a second daughter, Léocadie [no matter how much he had longed for a son, whose future fractiously unhappy relationship with his might-have-been father is imagined with great humor in No-Man’s-Bay] with his second wife Sophie Semin, a French model who to Handke’s distress instantly wanted to become an actress on living with him and whom he eventually married shortly prior to his 1994/95 “Winter’s Journey” adventure to the Yugoslav Rivers, this being, perhaps it was meant as a joke, also their wedding trip. Handke and Semin separated during rehearsals for the production of the play The Play about the Film about the War in 1999 in Vienna during which she became enamored of one of her fellow actors. However, as noted previously, this reprieve of Handke’s being left by Libgart Schwartz in the early 70s, or by Marie Colbin in Salzburg, did not elicit a protracted fugueing into a self-isolating misery, if only because they were not living together in his forest abode any more and my man already had another main squeeze, a Serbian girl… so my Serbian grape vine tells me! Not that my Pasha was anything but happy about being left. At least Semin did not turn into another Fury a la Marie Colbin!
The great prattler “Don Juan” Erich Wolfgang Skwara reported already in the early 90s that he sensed Handke’s emotional withdrawal from Sophie Semin, so their split came as no great surprise to me; also, besides having a drift on Handke’s personal problematics by then, I appreciated that he was not someone who went to a cubby hole office somewhere to write his daily 1000 words and then returned to wife and kids - the mere presence of anyone around him while he worked would prove deleterious.
Subsequently Handke was for some years, as also noted previously, with yet another actress, the exceedingly well known and smart German Katja Flint and expressed the possibility that not living with an inamorata might solve his problem of being a writer and having a main squeeze; but apparently no, they separated after some years, but Ms. Flint expressed her continued affection and closeness to our author who continues to reside in his forest abode outside Paris and raise his second daughter together with his once second wife, who appears to have Léocadie living with her for whom Handke then wrote a kind of additional chapter to No-Man’s-Bay, Lucie in dem Wald mit den Dingsbums – “Lucie in the Woods with the Thingamajigs” as it might be called, which memorializes Handke’s mushroom hunting, mushrooms being beings of peace for him which he turns into I gather the most delicious mushroom stew!

Handke’s intimate relation to Yugoslavia is as of his birth as a son of woman of the Slovenian minority in the Austrian province Carinthia; he wrote Die Hornissen [The Hornets], his first novel, on the now Croatian Island of Krk, if you have read My Year in the No-Man’s Bay with the slightest care you will note the many happy sections sat in Yugoslavia. At the inception of the controversy, well along with this Handke project, I made a long detour to try to understand – as pure as understanding as I was capable of then without making any kind of judgment – and came out satisfied that I had the rough outlines right. Meanwhile, Fabijan Haffner has written a first rate study on the subject of Handke and Yugoslavia detailing Handke’s intimate relation to the region [Peter Handke: Unterwegs ins neunte Land Von Fabjan Hafner/ Zsolnay/ ISBN 3552054278, 9783552054271/ 381 Seiten; a good discussion of this book can be found at
that is far more intimate than anything I could do. However, take a look some time at Prof. Dr. Michel Chossudovsky’s piece if you are interested in the economic background to the disintegration of Yugoslavia:
and then in the National Security Directives mentioned therein and you will acquire a rather larger context within which to understand the disintegration and the violent forces it unleashed, the reasons for the tectonic shifts that turned those tribes against each other, that made the old animosities come back out of their latency! Is there anything more insidious than that kind of economic warfare? How does this differ from the Machiavellian 1978 U.S. destabilization of Afghanistan? The apparently thoughtless [of consequences] German recognition of the independence longings of Slovenia and Croatia [read Margaret Mahler on separation individuation drives, too!] was merely the last little kick to the brittle structure that had not only been hollowed out by a supposedly failed socialism but by U.S. capitalism’s malice aforethought, that made them blindly find reasons to savage each other. [They know not what they do the more they think they do!] And then all the humanity hyenas – Handke’s first rate designation of these righteously possessed beasts - have a heyday displaying and slashing at each other about who of them is the more humane as they parade in Sarajevo performing this or that play. H.M. Enzensberger, a smart fellow, once observed that at the end of these wars it was left to the old women to chip the mortar off the bricks so they could be re-used. Thus, I think that Handke’s analysis of the why’s and wherefore of these wars is right, and then some! That is paying a compliment to someone not known as a political thinker except in other, literary matters. And he sure didn’t go about it as a politician of any kind at first. But he knew his Marx way back when he wrote Dying Out and had not forgotten “usufruct” by the time he wrote the bankiéress book Del Gredos.

Knowing of Handke’s exhibitionism at the point in the early nineties that the parallel media war featuring my man broke out [and idiot’s like Salmon Rushdie who knew zilch about the Balkans had their publicity tours interrupted and nominated Handke as the dunderhead of the year] with the publication in the Süddeutsche Zeitung of Handke’s A Winter’s Journey, I anticipated that Handke would not waste the opportunity, and thus, initially, found his actions and statements most suspect as a kind of parallel skirmish as those unhappy events began to unfold. However, if political events were to be the occasion for exhibitionistic display, he had certainly wasted a lot of opportunities since his days in the late 60s Berlin! At one time he even famously berated Günter Grass for neglecting his books while campaigning for “democracy” and Willy Brandt! which I found honorable and interesting. I eventually concluded that even if Handke’s bloody exhibitionism played a role, as I suspect it did [just watch him “play” mourner in front of the huge photo of Milosevic at that funeral! and on some of the photos taken of him in the Kosovo greeting local Serbs], one child nearly going crazy was preferable to all that robotic reporting and robotic “clinical” air raids, to the uniform right left and center hatred of Serbs and making of Milosevic into the newest devil of the last century on 95 % of the media and commentators in the United States [oh how good it made all the goodified feel! From ex S.F commie Stephen Schwartz now of The Weekly Standard, Michael McDonald of the American Interest via Roger Cohen of the NY Times to Susan Sontag and all the leftist publication! Rarely have the hegemon’s kiddies been that united in their hated of one devil! How simple life can be made out to be sometimes!]. Handke at least managed to change the equation.
The so talkative Don Juan who appears with “the same woman [!]” in No-Man’s Bay, the first rate writer but ugly womanizer Erich Wolfgang Skwara [who has published four fine some first rate, novels translated into English with nary a review in the miserable organs that claim coverage], had also informed of Handke’s exhibitionism, of Handke’s parading arm in arm with Umberto Eco through the familiar vastnesses of the Frankfurt Book Fair -“I wonder what he’s up to now!” the savvy one had said - upon publication of his No-Man’s Bay. I even agree that Marie Colbin has a point when she says that the disintegration afforded Handke the opportunity to display himself and righteously address the media and the world as he loves to, that those impulses definitely played into his so involvement. And there were three major coming of the controversy! The first one in 1995, the second during the Kosovo war and destruction of Serbian infrastructure; the third on Handke’s visit to the Milosevic funeral which made more waves even then the first two [no actual warfare to distract from Handke!]: see the immensity of the consequences that the display in front of the photo of the big bad Wolf of Požarevac produced, you couldn’t buy this kind of publicity for 100 million dollars!
Handke had known the Milosevic family since the days that they looked with favor on the production of his plays in Belgrade. He attended the trial, or rather he published the book Rund um das Tribunal [A Walk Around the Tribunal], or maybe “The Handke cat walking around the soup that’s too hot in De Hague” as it might also be called. Handke trained in the law, he didn’t recognize the legitimacy of the tribunal, especially not the way it, Carla del Ponte, set out to get Milosevic at all costs, but refused to testify as a character witness, the family invited him to the funeral so he stated. About M. himself Handke has said a variety of things: That M. had little choice in what he did to defend the integrity of the Federation; that the Croat treatment of the Serbian minority in their region necessitated a response [a half million Serbian refugees which are scarcely ever mentioned in the Western press]… and several times he has stated to interviewers that he has no feelings one way or the other about the man he visited in prison together with the now deceased British Nobel prize winner Harold Pinter.
It is my sense that Handke blinked when he refused to be a character witness for a man who had been his benefactor in Belgrade, but whose funeral he attended and at which he orated. As witness, it would have been a bit too much attention! And once on the stand… who knows for how long! And I don’t believe that you can say what you did at the funeral and then say that you have no feelings! Handke, friend of powerful men, acquaintance of Austrian prime ministers, I know meanwhile to be a very good judge of character, also of the powerful. He became a bit hesitant - after all the involvement did great damage to his work.
Initially Handke took no sides of any ethnic kind, I know because I tested him once by sending him my take on his initial involvement and putting in a small intentional misreading of his text, which he caught, thus showing me also that he’d read the damn thing, which he even liked, not that this kept him from being insulting once again via my friend Franz Angst who had sent it to him.
Meanwhile, Handke appears to favor the Serbs as the inheritors of the idea of the federation disparu, and the latest candidate for the Serbian nationalist option. See the photos to that effect. And his repeated visits to Yugoslavia and Kosovo have become part of a media circus.

The only real cost of the great self-display at the Milosevic funeral was the loss of the production of his greatest playable play, The Art of Asking, at the Comédie Française. Handke then seizing the opportunity to decline the Heine Preis after the City of Düsseldorf refused to abide by the monetary terms of its own jury’s award afforded further publicity and a Berlin Heine Preis that afforded yet another publicity tour to Kosovo to hand the 50 K Euro to a Serbian enclave! The humanity hyenas are playing into the hands of someone who knows their game better than they do themselves. Handke is now a brand name, albeit a slightly ominous one!

I can live with Handke’s uncouth behavior and the vicious outbursts, his altogether tantrum ways [enumerated below] of his public behavior, again so different in many ways from that when he has his sane making pencil in hand, if only because if he had not behaved like a freaked out child I myself might have gone along with the near universal media message that it was all the bloody Serbians and Devil of the Day Milo the Bad Wolf of Požarevac’s fault: after all, how much time do each of us have to investigate the horrors as the waves of news throw them up on the beaches of our mind each day; born during the Spanish civil war that did not penetrate my early childhood idyll rudely interrupted, traumatized by British bombers in 1940, I cannot really think of many years during my life time that not some major conflict was going on somewhere in the world. It perhaps took a really hurt child like Handke to shake up things a bit.

Appreciating Handke’s propensity for violence at moments of extreme irritation as much as his pathos drenched yearning for peace, I was yet surprised that all of Yugoslavia, as a federation, would turn out to be his amour fou. Not just the Slovenian identity he had forged for himself analogous to his grandfather Sivec with the writing of The Repetition while creating his own Slovenian German dictionary in 1986 so that eventually he could translated from Slovenian. For, if you regard the history of the region now called “the Balkans” either during the past two or three thousand years, or during the 20th century, generally, and specifically
it would be difficult to convince you that this is an especially peace-drenched region. However, it had become Handke’s land of peace and attachments and earliest memories and longings for reasons that are psychologically evident and sound [that’s not only what humans do, it’s what they need to do: they need to attach, idealize, at least initially: later you learn to throw out some of the crap], his grandfather the “Ote”, his uncle “Gregor,” those war time letters, his walking, his writing his first book there. That is the case, and it made him take a kind of political action that until then, aside of despising politicians and the veils they throw up [and participating in elections for dog catcher in Chaville!], yet befriending a slew of powerful ones - Handke friend of the powerful! - seeing prime ministers and the like…. and so Handke tossed a major tantrum! And if you regard the interview linked below, he did it also most righteously, a most difficult impulse to understand as one is in its sway and exercise with differentiation, especially it appears for Mr. Handke: the return of the German Büchner prize, that committee which had nothing to do with the actions of the German government [i.e. his hatred of everything German, aversion of contiguity], the way he laid into Jürgen Habermas for his so adjudicative [German philosophy at its worst, Habermas could also have argued the opposite or the middle of the case, and in the end said something like: I didn’t think it would be more than a few bombs [Professor Habermas will only give you a slap on the wrist, not do missile demonstration Shock and Awe for his classroom.] way of supporting the NATO bombing, the way the invective against the so enviously [my guess, for the sheer brilliance of his essay work, see: Enzensberger Footnote] at the evidently thoroughly hated fellow Suhrkamp star author Enzensberger must have lain at the back of his tongue, to leap out so well formed at t
the very moment the idiot interviewer said “H.M. Enzensberger supports the intervention”,:“Hans Magnus Enzensberger redet wie ein Politiker und möchte die UÇK bewaffnen. Der weiß immer, wo's lang geht, ein grinsender höhnischer Zuschauer, der menschgewordene Hohn. Der islamische Sufi Djalâl-ud-Dîn Rûmî sagt: ‹Sie tragen bedruckte Seiden nicht als Ornament, sondern um ihre Schönheit zu bewahren." Enzensbergers Sachen sind das Gegenteil, Ornament zur Verhöhnung der Schönheit;“ [“H. M. Enzensberger speaks like a politician and would like to arm the UÇK. He always knows what side his bread is buttered on, a grinning derisive spectator, derision in human form as such. The islamic Sufi Djalâl-ud-Dîn Rûmî says: ~They are wearing printed silk not as an ornament but to retain their beauty.~ Enzensberger’s things are the opposite. Ornament as derision of beauty;“ the way he lashed out at a questioner in Vienna, to name a sufficiency of instances which are legion

the way he displayed himself in Belgrade with the “bomb me” target pinned to his chest,

the way I knew he would as soon as it became evident that the bloody court would let Milosevic die of heart disease in prison, that Handke would seize the opportunity to display himself [How well he plays mourner here with the best sorrow mien!] and that he would use the opportunity of the Berlin surrogate Heine prize being bestowed on him to bestow the money on a Serbian enclave for a media event of his own: Guess which of these photos is ready to be used by the next socialist realist for a typical greeting scene or sculpture?! The one with the old woman exudes authenticity; so does the welcoming handshake; but the somewhat sour looking Handke exchanging a handshake and getting a slap on the back from the Serbian nationalist anti-Western candidate at the 2007 Yugoslav election? With that engagement, however, Handke becomes, for me, one of those powerful people he has walking around in Quodlibet…. mouthing ambiguities for the augurs to discern in the auditory hallucination provided by the media. Sheer stubbornness turns into perversity. And get you the Kosovo St. Lazar Preis! And we are in the realm of power psychology where Handke as a public person has dwelled for some time. And there I don’t need to go today. It is too ordinary for words. Marie Colbin has that right too! Take a look at the photo with Handke and Colbin and the Austrian politicians in Salzburg, right to left and Austrian edition of Gerard Depardieu, the mayor, the candidate, a political gathering, memorialized, on the Mönchsberg is my guess! Courtesy of your long range CIA analyst!

Handke’s books - other than those specifically around the Yugoslav and Yugoslav detritus - written during this now fifteen year + engagement – Lucie im Wald mit den Dingsbums [1994], a kind of extra chapter for No-Man’s-Bay written for his daughter Laocadie and his mushrooms; One Dark Night I left my Silent House [1996], and Crossing the Sierra del Gredos [2002], Die Morawische Nacht [2008] and a few plays among them the just completed “Sturm Immer” [“Continuous or Forever Storm”][2009] cannot be said to have suffered from this engagement - I keep thinking of the time he returned from that 21 lectures in 28 days jaunt through the U.S. in 1971 and his companions were exhausted, but he seemed energized! - and I don’t think these works suffer from his so engagement. Moreover, Handke managed to write the great The Play about the Film about the War in the early 90s on the Yugoslav [or any such war, the play is also a model in the Brechtian sense]… on his type writer: Handke writes his plays on the typewriters and they come out a lot more objective than these novel projections of his psychic state and nature descriptions, so he probably could write a multi character novel with his kind of “action”, or can be said to have done so in the screenplay novel Absence, once.

The other Handke feature these events threw light on in action was his vaunted capacity for denial, the pulling of the bed covers over his eyes as the violence proceeds near by, for which denial – which all plays on the background of the legally prohibited and punishable Shoah denial in Germany - he was most unjustly but not entirely inappropriately, yet uncomprehendingly accused. Indeed, it was this kind of denial that drew my attention to my “Handke case” back around 1988 when I came across the obvious denials in the 1984 novel Across. Handke has Sophie Semin, wife # 2 ask, in Winter’s Journey, will you even deny the attacks on Dubrovnik?
indicating that he is and has been made aware of this tendency, and so he doesn’t then; but writes about what troubles him in his language, refusing easy recourse to standardized concepts, in his metaphors: “Skips a stone angrily over the river” where the bodies have floated down… yet what is more normal than not think the worst of the person or the people you love? and in Sommerlicher Nachtrag [1995] [A Summer’s Sequel] Handke has a surrogate exclaim ever so authentically, hysterically, theatrically over and over again “I don’t want be a Serb [but who had asked him to be a Serb but he himself!] and so he didn’t seem to deny while dissociating his identity, and so did deny after all, but on the still powerful – motive is not the right word, nor motivation – sheer physical the most authentic of aversions] just as he doesn’t want to be a hated German! But all it shows us once again is his aversion, his nauseas! But when a Croatian T.V. team visits him at his place in Chaville in 2007 to do an interview for the weekly Globus [served the best food and not taken for a slog through the woods!] he again denies the artillery attacks on Dubrovnik:
it is inconceivable that anyone might attack such a beautiful place! It cannot be! I mean that is touching, all too human, and so Handke initially, in ordinary life [as compared to the psychic state he is in while composing his fictions] is simply all-too-human in wanting those he favors not to come out looking badly; perfectly ordinary; – and all those who want to rub his nose in being a denier are the very ones who go along with agent orange being spread to exterminate the Vietnamese, etc.; and want Handke to chime in with their Kaspar assents: “Big Bad Wolf Milosevic.” Or like Susan Sontag, in her very worst moment, writing in the New York Times Magazine: “Now the Serbs are the victims” during the destruction of Yugoslav infrastructure, proving her compleat ignorance of what had transpired while she put herself in harm’s way in Sarajevo, talking about exhibitionism! Not the faintest it appears of the half million Serb refugees from Croatia. And then playing her evasion of snipers to her friends back in the USSR, life as a film by Godard! Or the bloody French who have made it a crime to deny the genocide perpetrated on the Armenians for God’s sake while each and every French woman man and child and vaca opposed the Germans during the occupation and went out of their way to save their Jews. Why is it that the French, in that hideous respect, upset me so much more than any other nation? It can’t be because around the year 1000 they sent the first crusaders rampaging and killing Jews on their way to Jerusalem??? Why, actually, are the Serbs the only ones who are not permitted to be nationalists while the bloody nationalism of all the other tribes is endorsed? Handke’s initial intervention can also be regarded as an act of fairness, a quality I generally don’t think he has absorbed to excess with his mother’s milk.

Eventually, Handke said… circumstances seemed to force him to say, to formulate the question in the usual words: “Of course, the events in Yugoslavia and in Srebrenica are the worst crimes committed in Central Europe after WW II.” And who has committed the biggest crimes against humanity since the end of WW II world wide, that would have to be Uncle Sam by a long shot, no? The atomic bombing of Japan, Vietnam, the overthrow of Mossadegh, of the government of Guatemala, the Iraq war, the installation of Pinochet in Chile, Iran Contra and the Contras, the death squads in Honduras, the destabilization of Afghanistan and throwing a country of 25 million into turmoil, the creation of the Genie out of the Bottle, the mujahedeen, that can’t be put back in the bottle, etc. etc.….and more to come… the assumption of the European imperialist impulses. When will the time come that it is a crime to deny Uncle Sam’s crimes? And some insignias of his forces will strike the same terror as the acronym SS does?

Instead of rubbing his readers’ nose in yet another edition of horrors at atrocity in the same language, you will read Handke writing of tossing a stone, a brief mention of Yugoslav Tank Communism, or the notorious “Para militaries” [who consisted of what? out of work workers, who found pay that way?], but by far the best thing he wrote on the matter – and it may be the last great play in the Brecht, Kipphart, Hochhuth, Weiss tradition [I say this not having read “Storm Forever”] – is his The Play About the Film about the War. Only now is it being translated, by Scott Abbot who also did Winter’s Journey. I tried to figure out for myself how the play worked, and you can see these attempts at:
Various readers try to nail Handke to one or the other character in the piece, the “Greek Reporter”, the idiot J.L. Levine at the NYRB thinks it’s the “Bear Skin Woman.” All or none for a projection distribution organ as my man is as an artist in his plays! As of this writing I have only read a few excepts of Handke’s latest in the series of books relating to the disintegration, “The Cuckoos of Velica Hoča” see once again:
for a review also at Glanz + Elend
where it appears Handke tries on the suit of the usually so hated and derided [vide the Del Gredos novel], role of the disinterested even-handed reporter. I have the book, but am reading Morawische right now, and need to finish this up.
Terminal Thoughts

Handke once said about himself: “When I am good I am very good, when I am bad I am very bad.” True, one would not expect anything else from a childhood such as his and a man who has led a life of such ambition. He also once said in one of his several interviews with Rene Mueller: “Sometimes I feel that I’d like to be a real Schuft [prick, bastard]” and Mueller, for once quick on his toes, replied: “Oh I think you’ll live long enough to succeed at that.” I would say that Handke has succeeded also in that endeavor; not just in writing the most useful plays and prose this side of heaven. Angel Handke! Most valuable are the means he has created for readers to be in a healthy state of mind by reading some of his texts, and experiencing a number of his plays… and what exposure to his work may afford future shamans. Let no one say that literature has no effect! Thus the aberrations of his grandiosity and idiocy are the kind of schist that history makes part of the moraine… as he is pursued by the Erinyes to the end of time!

In recent years, Handke has expressed the wish for another transformative moment such as occurred, or that he cites during the writing of A Moment of True Feeling. Since with all that walking and not smoking and all that delicious food and those great Yugoslav genes he can be expected to live as long as his skirt chasing-into-old age “Ote”, and since that “moment” does not seem to be forthcoming on its own, I suggest psychoanalysis to its ultimate point, a complete regression to the point of birth, a rebirth too, perhaps with some time spent intra-uterine with the analyst generating optimistic sounding borborygma to disabuse of the acquired depressive features, such an event, which occurs over time - it isn’t like pulling a light switch, and thus would be perfect for the “king of slowness” - will release amazing energies, writing will cease to be a symptom that seeks to cure itself, and who knows what the new life will be like and what a story of the inside of the outside of the inside Handke will have to tell then! His publisher even has the right analyst for him, who is favorably disposed and wants to help, and whose specialty is injured narcissism, and I expect that Tilman Moser, who devoted himself to A Moment of True Feeling once, would not conduct the analysis in “HUNDE SPRACHE!” [Dog language, as Handke calls the lingo of the therapeutic as it has entered ordinary speech] Since all of Handke’s powerful aversions haven’t got what he calls the “German” out of his system in all these years, he might try analysis. I look forward to what such a mimosa-antannaed will bring back out of the depths intra-uterine, and so ought the rest of the world; then he would be indeed “the world, the discoverer” and not the same old same old over and over again. In some ways Handke can be said to have been on the right track when he felt such aversion to himself that he wanted to be turned inside out back in the early seventies, do that really, don’t be so scared! And what a diamond will be born again! In Del Gredos the attentive reader will note such close monitoring adhesion to the writer’s self… that Handke is even nearly there, he just needs to be a little less scared of concepts.

There will be a Part III to this monograph that will try to explore Handke’s aesthetics, his changing poetics, from a psychological perspective; the self-healing state that he enters, that he is in when he writes. In about a year. Have to finish up a few other things too.

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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