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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.

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“Teaching writing is a virtual impossibility. Faced with the prospect of mentoring students intent on becoming writers themselves, Goetz arrives at the conclusion that the university is not there to promote, but to hinder the results of independent thought, to discourage and intimidate them. He goes so far as to say that the aim of the professorship he is in the process of accepting is to prevent texts from being written in the first place: ‘In certain cases one could even, perhaps, find reasons for this. But even these reasons are essentially uninteresting. What is interesting is that most texts are bullshit. First and foremost, of course, those that arise in front of one’s own eyes, one’s own texts: nearly always bullshit. Bad, weak, useless. Why? I don’t know.’”

Read the full essay and excerpts from Goetz’s lecture in The Brooklyn Rail. 

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Now online: an entire issue of The Scofield dedicated to Kobo Abe and the subject of home.

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From my contribution to issue 3.1 of The Scofield: the essay The Problem of Home:

“Are we really as brave as we think we are, are we as honest, as enterprising, as free as we think we are? In America, national identity is a narrative drawn from a largely commercialized shared cultural experience and an interpretation of history that merges with legend—it’s a construct based not in fact, but on belief, and as such it has far more in common with religion than with reason. And while intellectual culture is currently undergoing a period of profound disillusion, in large parts of the country, anything that calls what makes America American into question is met not with impartial analysis or self-scrutiny, but indignant and often hostile repudiation.”

 

Dramatis Personae: 

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The new edition of manuskripte is in the bookstores—with an excerpt of the German translation of my novel A Lesser Day, alongside writings by Günther Freitag, Thomas Stangl, Friederike Mayröcker, Franz Josef Czernin, Verena Stauffer, and many more.

Order a copy at http://www.manuskripte.at/wordpress/

 

Manuskripte

Cover image: Hartmut Urban, “Aus der Erde wächst eine organische Skulptur” (1973)

 

Wie viele Male hat sich mein Denken in einer Schleife verfangen; wie viele Male hat es sich im Kreis gedreht um ein bestimmtes Wort, einen Ausdruck, der über ein Gesicht huschte und verschwand, wieder und wieder in dem Versuch, näher heranzukommen, aber an was. Jenes Gefühl, dass etwas da ist, wieder und wieder im Kreise; aber was. Jenes beunruhigende Gefühl einer bevorstehenden Enthüllung, die leise Panik. Und dann der Moment des Erkennens, dessen betäubende Wirkung. Ich sehe es, verstehe es, und doch sehe ich nicht, verstehe ich nicht. Die anschließende Amnesie, wenn das Bewusstsein seine neue Entdeckung sorgsam vergräbt, sie einige Zeit später wieder hervorholt, wenn es sich allein weiß, unbeobachtet, sie dreht und wendet, an ihr schnuppert, als sei sie ein ausgetrockneter Knochen.