|lazuli bunting [click on photo for larger image]|
Then there was a motion in the clearing just to the right of the bunting, a little to the right of where the line of light reflected from the window distorts the photo. It was a tiny faun, spotted like a tiny faun (to steal from Peter Handke's early play "Prophecy" Did you translate that Michael?). The faun was frisky! stotting up to its mother, then away from her, then past her again. She wanted to cross the road as she and other resident mule deer do about this time every morning, and she wanted the little fellow right at her heels when she did that; but he (or she) was having none of that -- too much fun to be had, right now, right here!
Michael Morrow, I'm enjoying your thoughts, thoughts from an ex-submariner from the cornfields of Illinois who became a modern dancer at 60. ". . . most importantly . . . into morrow."
And Michael Roloff, your comment about Peter's dislike of Heidegger (sentences like concrete) reminds me of Peter's own sentence (a tangle of neurons?). Your comment about phenomenology being part of his problem is nicely ambiguous. It's part of the problem he is investigating -- that's been my point -- and it's a problem because it's not very weighty when weighed against the phenomena of human interactions.
Okay, back to the book, Chapter 5 again.
The actor comes across a previous neighbor, "a good neighbor, almost a friend, a friend" sitting with a somewhat younger woman on a bench at a bus stop. "Andreas," the actor says, the first name he has used on this day. There is no response; and, the woman says, there will be no response: "It's over with him. The End!" At first there was a respectful (because somewhat distant) relationship. Gradually the neighbor became more intrusive, standing at the garden gate around midnight, calling to the actor until he let him in, then sitting there waiting, it seemed to the actor, for signs from the oracle that would decide existential questions for him. Then the neighbor, a businessman, went to Mongolia and was never heard of again.
Although the woman has proclaimed the end for him, the neighbor begins to speak: "What he uttered weren't entire sentences, nothing but separate words, or words that wanted to be sentences. Wanted? . . . snowball fight . . . chalkboard . . . fall from a window . . . water runner . . . early apples . . . temple jumping . . . gasmasks . . . handgrenades . . . Hitler . . . knee raises . . . money changing . . . blueberries . . . ear boxing . . . money or life . . . mountain and valley . . . so green . . . so dear . . . turn around . . . go home . . ."
This feels like a page from Peter's early play "Kaspar" (which I know Michael translated, a wild and wooly and even brilliant translation), which ends, if I remember correctly, with the words "goats and monkeys"! But this time it isn't the speaker (Kaspar) who is the main character, but the audience (the actor). And he knows that in this face-to-face encounter he must respond correctly, accurately, well, adequately: "Wo if he now failed to stand firm in the gaze of the other." "Standhalten" is the verb here, but the idea of withstanding that undergirds most of them, including "stand firm," misses the idea in this sentence that the actor must respond adequately to the gaze, to the words, otherwise he will be a "versager" -- a loser who has said the wrong thing.
But then a bus comes and the moment is past. He continues on his way. When he looks back the woman is standing and the man sitting. He reflects on his impulse, in this case and many others, to help those who have suddenly "lost their footing" ("den Stand verloren").
And now we're back to the theme I've been following. This novel is about the great fall. The opposite of falling is standing. The "standhalten" to which the actor has just felt himself called is in the presence, in the face-to-face with a man who has fallen, and the standing firm is the response that will save him ("retten").
The actor, interrupted by the bus, didn't in fact do that; and the chapter ends with his thoughts about helping, about saving, about his "Alaska woman" who said derisively that he thought he was an angel, about his inability to help anyone except the people who saw his plays and films and small things like a bee and a hedgehog.
There is a lot of Peter Handke woven into this narrator's account of the actor's thoughts, including notes from people who have responded positively to his work. Again I feel that odd tension between what might be pure autobiography (pure?) and pure fiction, that tangle of author/narrator/hero/people and things experienced by the actor.
I like that tension.