Sunday, July 3, 2011

Peter Handke's "The Great Fall": Part 5

I just realized that one of the reasons I had let this book languish on my shelf so long before finally beginning to read it was that its cover is ugly. See the image on the first post about the novel.

This morning I took the cover off to reveal an elegant book, bright-dark green. The scan, complete with morning sunlight that has leaked in a couple of places, shows a much finer book.

The actor's morning, so far a contest between chaos and form, continues as he glues together the cup that had fallen from his hand. And outside the wind stands up a chair that had fallen: ". . . a fallen chair was lifted up again by the wind and stood then, and stood. Was that then a thing of possibility? Yes."

Entropy will win this ongoing battle, as it always does. It is, after all, the law, the second law of thermodynamics to be specific. And the novel is called the Great Fall, not the Great Standing.

The rain continues and the actor reads a book, a book about a kind of running amok, an act related to the role he will play in the film. He reads and disappears into the narration. The motto of the story: "Impatience destroys existence." The narrator of Handke's book summarizes a couple of the chapters that sound close to the the book I am reading: "The following chapter began as the man stepped out of the house onto the street." And, as I expect, the second chapter of Handke's book begins as the actor leaves the house. 44 pages to wake up and have breakfast and leave the house.

Slow going. Slow going that feels welcome this slow hot Sunday morning. Patience solidifies existence.

................ postscript
thoughts from Michael Roloff and my subsequent thoughts:

On Tue, Jul 5, 2011 at 5:29 AM, michael roloff  wrote:

 No one so far among the reviewers or here seems to be fazed that
our actor seems to have a bit of a brain aneurysm after the thunderstorm and taking his morning shower while swishing around the grass in the rain! he's off balance and only gradually finds it again. also there are some oddities: he mentions that the swallows "before" seemed to fly higher, too  - what "before" I feel like saying: wasn't he asleep and then fell asleep again. There are matters happening "unterschwellig"/ surreptitiously under the surface as you read the text - of which you become aware if you read carefully, but "bevor" ??
also, the text is not as carefully proofread as usual: the verb shultern
is suddenly upper case. 

you're pointing to a key moment. I've gone back and reread it. What exactly causes him to be so clumsy? He is listening to the radio and think the rain has quit, but then realized it hasn't quit. Is that a momentary break, the brain aneurysm you're thinking about? "Als er seiner inne wurde" follows immediately and then he can't grab what he wants to grab. And why does he gradually come out of this?
The sentence that ends with Shultern made, there at the end, no sense to me. Your suggestion that shultern is a verb makes it come clear. Simple typo.
As for the "before" in the swallow passage: this is, as you write, a break in the description of what the actor is experiencing at the moment. I take it to be a break in the pure (and beautiful) phenomenology, a break caused by the knowledge encapsulated in the accepted "fact" that swallows dive down in the face of storms. Like hell they do, the actor thinks. Having stripped off that bit of "knowledge," he can simply be a body in the rain and grass.
And once I think it this way, following your thought, I can make sense of what was a jarring sentence at the end of the paragraph in the rain: Er wuerde im Haus keine Dusche zu nehmen brauchen. He's back in language, back in the scheme that requires cleanliness for the day, back to the "Dusche nehmen" -- what an ugly phrase. Especially when backed up against the previous one: Der Regen war warm, und nach einigen Schritten kalt, dann wieder warm, undsofort."


michael morrow said...

interestingly enough, this conversation is demonstrating that communicating at the speed of thought is boring and inherently one-sided this point....thank you for using archaic language...thoughts running, moving about..

michael morrow said...

is it patience I struggle with in reading...allowing thoughts belonging to another to invade my that why I want to communicate at the speed of as to control the conversation?? digging into shallow, going below surface thoughts may lead to unfamiliar caves... spaces where ideas take time.... patience...

the great fall...and my brain splatters onto the page...well I asked for this!!


i am wondering to the comment i left yesterday, did you not approve of it, scott?? michael r.

michael morrow said...

oh yes I love this conversation, "It might have been a bomb that struck nearby, not just a thunderbolt! The narrator waits out the aftermath! Rather the opposite of our famous Goalie who instantly mis-interprets and make "the wrong move." "...thank you for joining you can 64 year old brain is full of ideas that I am now ready to expose...anything you folks say I eat up with my favorite spoon...yes please stretch me....

michael morrow said...

so considering that entropy wins natures ongoing battle, ie. more chairs are re-knocked over by the wind than are re-stood up by it......does it follow that impatience destroys more existence than patience solidifies existence??

michael morrow said...

Great stuff Scott.....did you not receive my comment of last night?