Berliners: I’ll be reading in the series “Literally Speaking” at BuchHafen in Neukölln on January 24. Along with Chris Chinchilla, Wlada Kolosowa, Rhea Ramjohn, and Isabelle Ståhl.
Come early, because Träci A. Kim’s series is usually packed! Looking forward to seeing you all. I’m beginning my reading with an excerpt from Marie-Luise Kaschnitz’s story The Fat Child (Das dicke Kind).
My mind snapped shut like a box. I turn, perplexed: but wasn’t something there a moment ago? Waiting, waiting, looking on as though at a mute child, hoping to pry out a word, or a smile: patience is the essence. The child stands dumbly before me, and I kneel down with a friendly mien. What was that just now, what do you have in your hand, I ask gently. The child’s eyelashes veil its downcast eyes. I saw you putting something in your pocket a moment ago, wouldn’t you like to show me what you have in your pocket? But the child stares at its toes, suspended in a glistening bubble of impunity. Say something, I blurt out, growing agitated, and the child raises a grimy fist to brush the hair out of its eyes, gazing at me in sullen apathy. I hear the sharp edge in my voice, I know this tactic will lead me nowhere, yet I’m vexed, I want to drill the child with questions: what are you hiding, what have you stolen? And hardly an answer, a feeble shrug, and I, growing desperate, give it back, give it back, feeling the hand itching to slap the face of this stupid, torpid mind: will you come to your senses, will you give me back what’s mine?
Translated by Andrea Scrima from the original German edition Am Fenster, wo die Nacht einbricht: Aufzeichnungen (At the window, where night breaks: Notations), Limmat Verlag, Zurich, Switzerland 2013
Read the full selection on Statorec.
EXISTENCE 22 / MOMENTS OF BEING TOUCHED
What one lives from. The brief moments of happiness when one encounters something, a person, a plant, an animal, a phenomenon that touches one in the most profound way, speaks to one, captures, delights one, like chemical elements that attract one another, do not wish to separate. A moment of this kind can be triggered by a musical modulation (Mozart, Chopin, Wagner…) that “strikes” like lightning, pierces the heart so deeply that one never forgets this moment, brief as it might be.—Leafing through an encyclopedia, we are taken by the portrait photo of someone long since deceased, as fierce as love at first sight; the gesticulation of a tree branch catches our eye and, it seems to the viewer, is directed at him; the particular hue of a pond in a watercolor is perceived as a “soul color,” a butterfly as messenger, a lonely cloud as a being that was waiting for one to finally see it; the sudden comprehension of another being; an elective affinity, entered into in a trice with creatures or things of an entirely different provenance. These magical connections between things ordinarily foreign to one another can be induced by works of art, in moments when we are completely open to the point of endangerment, or physically weakened by an ailment; the nerves are raw, the mind is wide awake, perceives, draws connections it would not have in a stronger state.—Spoke to Jannis Zinniker yesterday about these redemptive moments.