Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Peter Handke's "The Great Fall": Walking

Michael's latest comments about the book include some fine memories of walking.

After a morning walking on the beach (sometimes backwards, but, minding Michael's advice, never backwards into a tidal pool), I've got my own memory of walking with Peter (published with Zarko's Vampire as Razumni recnik, or A Reasonable Dictionary, in Belgrade:

May 28, 1998, Bajina Bašta

We’ve had a hearty breakfast in Dušanka’s garden and are packing for a two-day hike on the Tara Mountain.

Peter carries the sturdy canvas pack used by one of the characters in his film Absence. He wears an old pair of high-topped leather shoes I imagine to be the same shoes featured in his story “The Shoeshiner of Split”:

In the following weeks, however, he wore the shoes in the snow of Macedonia, in the leafy dust of the mountains of Peloponnesos, in the yellow and gray sand of the Libyan and Arabic desert. And even months later, one day in Japan, it was enough to rub the leather with a cloth and the original shine from the promenade in Split reappeared, undamaged.

Žarko has a good nylon daypack and a pair of generic white athletic shoes. Zlatko, Thomas, and I carry our things in high-fashion vinyl shopping bags -- black-and-white, lemon-yellow, and pink bags supplied at the last minute by Olga. Zlatko and Thomas wear city shoes, black-leather low-topped shoes that are the antitheses of my heavy leather hiking boots.

What to note about the 35-kilometer hike? The wildflowers. The changing views of the Drina from ever-higher vantage points along the switchbacking road. The blind-worms copulating blindly on the roadside. The sunlit meadow where we lie in the grass to rest our weary feet and legs. The rare Serbian spruce Peter points out. The ski-resort inn where we re-hydrate. The serpentine logging roads. Peter’s ongoing search for mushrooms, which he stuffs into a compartment of Žarko’s pack. The desultory conversations. Our growing weariness. Žarko’s incipient and then pronounced limp. The moment late in the day when Peter picks up the pace and Thomas and I fight to match his strides while the other two fall back. The huge Tara Mountain conference and sports center swarming with sweat-suited volunteer firefighters gathered for a training session. The little roadside restaurant where the owner has been waiting for us.

While we eat a hearty dinner that includes the mushrooms Peter has picked, the restaurant owner tells us about the years he spent playing an accordion in Germany. After his back gave out, he says, he tried racing cars and finally came back to the Tara Mountain.

Sometime before midnight the racing restauranteur proves his prowess by speeding us up a winding road, leaving his slow headlights hanging in the trees at every tight corner, accelerating and braking, screeching and honking, torquing and turning to pull up abruptly at an A-frame cabin where we spend the night.



for the ongoing discussion of Peter Handke's DER GROSSE FALL at:


Prior to commenting on the 2nd half of Chapter 5 -
the interlude with the ex-neighbor whom "the actor" feels
he ought to have helped, which leads into a kind of RECIT
on "helping" on which Scott has commented too I think - let me add something to the "idyllic walk
across the Brooklyn bridge with Peter Handke" in my previous
commentary on walking and Handke. I became concerned when
Handke revealed during that walk that he was writing a book about
Alaska, where he had spent a couple of weeks a couple, maybe
three times altogether, the mother hen in me became concerned as to
how one might be able to do something along that line for such a
vast land. I was relieved to hear that he had at least read John McPhee's big book on Alaska.
I had once spent 9 months there, three as a fire fighter
and six as an assistant geological surveyor, all of it in the
interior, working along the Yukon, near Galena, in the Brooks
and the Alaska range - that is a lot of territory and a lot of
it a small books worth of anecdotes are as fresh, it feels,
as when I experienced them now 50 years ago! Alaska left a big
impression, but I could not have articulated that overall impression,
I only had those several distinct anecdotes, several fine strings
of pearl or sea shells worth. Handke did not want to hear them
because he was full up, which I understood, although it also bothered
me that he didn't seem to be interested. Thus the experience of reading the Alaska chapter of A SLOW HOMECOMING became and still does whenever
I re-read the book an immense event for me, because, i think it is chiefly because Handke DOES NOT NAME that the sense of the whole,
the immensity comes through. This business of naming and not naming is also discussed in the book length interview with Herbert Gamper: ICH LEBE DOCH NUR VON DEN ZWISCHENRAEUMEN.

Once more back to walking: I must have walked a couple of hundred miles in Alaska during those nine months, but only a few of them in the Alaska Range, on terra firma, the rest on earth cushioned by several feet of moss that cover the permafrost; and then quite a few on snowshoes. Our Department of Roads, State of Alaska Geological Surveying team was run by a Professor from the University of Washington who had been a U.S. Army Ranger, he weighed maybe 125 pound, and we named him "road runner" [a once pheasant of the South West that is only vestigially feathered and, thus, runs and runs and runs at great speed... in our instance through the scrub pine and spruce arctic jungle that has a thick carpet of moss! Comic relief at his speed, if you know the Disney Cartoons. If I read Scott's post correctly, Handke seems to have the makings of a road runner, too!


Oh yes, one more thing about walking: Famously Handke said
years ago that he had become the "king of slowness" - around the
time that he wrote THE REPETITION, as I had the time to become
while reading it in the mid-80s in the St. Monica Mts. with the slow Malibu surf on its south facing beach, all the way from the storms near Antarctica adding something even more retarding to the rhythm by which I was living then. P. 132 has something to that effect: a runner approaches our "actor" who proceeds to walk even more slowly! and he keeps losing a bet with himself that his slow pace might induce the runner to follow suit, which invariable loss disgruntles him before he then delights in it. What do I get paid for having been slowed down quite a few years ago now, by reading [and then also writing] at the rhythm of the surf as it pounds the Malibu - which means loud pounding surf in Cochimi - surf. In Chumash, pardon, I keep getting the Mulege
tribe mixed up with the Malibu one.

That interlude with the actor's neighbor of years ago
and in a different part of the world begins is preceded, as a
lead in too, with descriptions of couples the "actor" encounters
on the outskirts of town, couples invariably of one very young
person and an ancient, a rarity here universalized, and a hell of a sequence it is, a splendid demonstration of Handke as the world's best writer, qua writer. Boy, is he in good form! Time to turn in,
I've been getting up earlier than my birds, besides the robins are all in a family way by now, and no longer flirt at 4:30. At 4:45, however,
there was one cat bird who said "meow."



The "actor's" encountering of these oddly matched ancient
and young couples then segues very nicely - the segueing
here is worth paying attention to, old pro - into then encountering
a different kind of couple sitting on a bench at a bus stop, he passes and very nicely then in just the right bye and bye the man looks
familiar - for whatever reason, formally i haven't discerned
the reason for it - we now have an interlude recounting this
now demented down-and-out fellow's previous, once upon a long time
ago neighborly relationship to the actor... in itself quite interesting indeed, it also makes me think of the apparition of the moldering
it appears Serbian rotten tree trunk fellow our "actor" encountered in te woods - it really is becoming quite a walk at least for this reader - and this section with the once neighbor who appears to have a woman caretaker who the actor fears may be at the heart of whatever is ailing
the former neighbor - left nicely vague: what if you didn't leave it vague? - then segues into a surprisingly long, I call it RECIT, on the subject of helping. "You must be the helper or you will be nothing," it says in WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES. [Scott has addressed this section too
earlier during our non-synchronous reading] and fairly long as this section is it could of course be far longer. It is a far better integrated RECIT than the two in ONE DARK NITE I LEFT MY SILENT HOUSE, on THE MODERN WOMAN and NARZISSISM which struck me as both bald and way below Handke's intelligence! Handke has needed help at times, aside being a splendid helper on many occasions. I myself could write a book on the complications of Caritas, but not now and not here. At any event, the "actor" feels he has missed an opportunity in this instance.

A brief note on something that caught my eye: "Die Phantasie malte
ihm nichts aus, und wirkte um so staerker [p.147] - staerker auch, als
reine Phanasie, als jeder Gedanke und jede Vorstellung." it says about what he imagines the woman caretaker will become - a monster - if he sits down next to his once neighbor. "His imagination did not paint a picture for him, and therefore was that much more powerful - more powerful, too, as imagination pure [Fr. pron.], than any thought and any conception."


I have now proceeded as far as that marvelous instant
that also so amused Scott in Ch. # 6 where "the actor"
comes on some what he first thinks are hoodlums wielding
BASKETBALL BATS [which Handke's editor Raimund Fellinger
has meanwhile advised will be corrected in the 2nd edition]
and it turns out that they aren't hoodlums but kids playing
baseball, they have balls and mitts, etc.
A tad paranoid but it passes. He resolves to
be sure to always take a "second look" and if he - God forbid! he
says to himself - one of numerous self-imprecations that
pop up out of his dialogue interieure - he would teach actors
to learn to take a second look. as i am about to the book
as far as i have proceeded, and take a glance further back.

as he now enters the city itself via some self-enclosed developments
it begins to strike us, me, the reader, that there are stretches
where the city looks quite surrealistic, and there are improbable
things going on, it is the height of summer, schools are closed, but the yards are full of kids, crows are killing other birds [for a second there i a corvus expert thought that maybe crows in Paris differ from all those in Seattle, but no, even butterflies are diving down to kill - a bit overdone it struck me that paragraph.. but let's see what kind of Paris this is going to be... it certainly is not a naturalistic novel
of any kind, what kind of reality it presents, creates... perhaps it is the interiority of the actor, a projection of his inner state, but raised to a different degree.

at which point i decided to reflect on what i call Handke's first Paris
Period [1972-79]. the last two poems of NONSENSE AND HAPPINESS, WEIGHT OF THE WORLD, A MOMENT OF TRUE FEELING, and then starting to move to the outskirts via Meudon /Clamart and THE LEFT HANDED WOMAN and discovering a path that leads to the Chaville Forest... where he will move around 1987 when he is able to when his daughter Amina has finished school in Salzburg... he was biding his time, had to.

The state of mind of the first Paris Period, about which i have written extensively, is certainly different but is it altogether different..? Anyhow, our "actor doesn't seem to be suicidal, he has a lot of little irruptions of rage, behaves oddly as hell, but i would say that all behavior is odd, but is not enraged overall.... he still isn't anything of what one would call a normal person however fictional such a construct is on the continuing range from March Hare to... normal one would have to say he is, i judge him to be, at the very beginning as he is pleased after a good nite's and perhaps also a good morning's love making and eating toast with Henry Greene's cunty fingers... as that homme moyen senseul... as the woman departs and leaves him alone as he likes to be...


incidentally i have created a "handke circle" at google+
and invited the various Handke aficionados to join me there.

A few further comments as I penetrate Ch. 6 & Paris:

Already in NO-MAN'S-BAY Handke had a war playing in the back
ground, between Germans [the book was completed in 1993 but
played in the future, 10 years 20, i forgot which, it made
no difference, it still does not, the book has its own time, and
this make believe that his books - MORAVIAN, too - play, are
set in the future - more convincing in the case of MORAVIAN with
its indications of the Muslim world having built Minarets in Carinthia -
appears to be a requirement of Handke's writing imagination to
function. Those who know Handke's first novel [1964] DIE HORNISSEN may recall that the book was put into a kind of "as if" , conditional non-naturalistic state. It is a book I still have problems with, as
I am beginning to, seriously, with this one. None of the others.
All quite lucid within their terms, at least to me.

Here war is not just of the animals, all, having
gone bonkers aggressive but it is meant to be tooth and claw
every man and woman against the other, total fractiousness...
but I am not convinced, it reads quite abstract - that section - p.167 - to me, and it is not that Handke doesn't know something about war in the meanwhile!

Why would one want to play someone who goes berserk, who runs
amok when the whole world, at least the folks in Paris have already?
And he,too, has had his moments during this walk?
Playing an actor who plays.... The wonderful ABSENCE can be experienced
as you read it, at least for me, as a film... since the surreal
creeps into this book with a thunderclap at the beginning... perhaps
we can experience this as the description of a film? It sure has
those qualities at moments. Is the actor, who has a hell of a lot of
make believe going on, playing a film in his mind as he walks to Paris.
Stay tuned.

It also occurs to me that not a one of the reviews
I have assembled here:
has helped me a bit with the book. I remember, off hand, very little, the
one negative review calls the book "oelig" [oily] which sticks because
it is such a weird adjective. And Andreas Breitenstein's [of the Neue Zuricher Zeitung] positive just ranking
Handke as a great writer but not really getting his mind involved in a real



Seeking to puzzle out the reasons for the confusion I confessed to in my last comment
at the
discussion of Handke's latest novel, DER GROSSE FALL,
I come on the sentence on page 170, end of central paragraph:
"Zu seinem Glueck [not to have taken the hatchet out of the fellow's
hand and and have used the sharp end to split his head] kam ihm bevor
er das tat , 'jetzt tu ich's!' im letzten Moment eine Szene aus dem
Drehbuch ueber den Amoklaeufer, einen garnicht slapstickhaften,
zu Bewusstsein, und ohne sein Glueck besonders zu spueren, ging
er weiter stadtein." [Before he did so, however, to his good fortune,
he recalled to mind, at the last moment, the scene from the screenplay
about the amok runner, a scene anything but slapsticklike, and without
sensing his good luck very keenly he walked on, citywards.]

True enough, our "actor"
has a screenplay in mind and has mentioned this a number'
of times. The person who knows some Handke books might
think of the scene in GOALIE - that provided the name of this
blog to its aficionado - where Bloch sees some water bubbles
turn into ants on an a stove's hotplate and promptly [without
having seen a similar scene in a movie? we don't know!] throttles
his pickup movie cashier with whom he has spent the night. Furthermore,
I think of Handke's great play VOYAGE BY
DUGOUT where the world appears,is represented through the reading and discussion
of a screenplay that is acted out on stage....
And the world as he enters the metropolis
becomes more Carrol like by the minute, as though the
world had run amok. Too crudely for the taste of the regular
realist and surrealist in me: however there must be a point
to the crudeness, the uniformity the unrelenting quality of
the mayhem that we are told the actor witnesses: is he projecting?
Indeed, on the verge of running amok? Is a he major case
that Sigmund Freud would not have taken on but Otto Kernberg
Prior to this crucial passage our "actor" resolves to keep taking a second
look as not to misjudge what he sees. But perhaps he is
hallucinating part of the time, and since the "novel
world" is seen through his eyes.... At any event, the surrealistic
elements are unmistakeable also for being laid on so heavily.
A heavenly day, snooze time since once again before my catbird
could say meow, as I have mentioned, the Robins are in a family
way and no longer flirt at 4 a.m. PDT. michael roloff



s my last comment indicates, it strikes me that
the actor appears to be already inside a film,
a farce moreover [that is playing inside his head], which is why what is occurring at this layer of the skirts of Paris appears in such an exaggerated fashion and he has these exaggerated reactions to these mad goings on. This hunch of mine feels reinforced by the opening of the subsequent chapter # 7 where our "actor", after an interlude at a mass with a priest that will elicit quite a long comment of mine, [the last half of chapter 6], sallys forth as a character, an Indian, a Navajo, in a John Ford film, resolutely, even with a quote in that native's tongue.

The "actor" hears the tolling of as bell inside the general mad din of his farcically violent outskirt and he follows it to a small church where he becomes the only participant in a service conducted by a most conscientious priest. subsequently, he shares a meal with the priest, a latecomer to the fold who used to be a car mechanic, as our actor was once a 'tile layer' [as i too was once, not many people know, and an apprentice journeyman, while attending the Breadloaf writer' summer in 1958. also a marble man I might say, and my even earlier liking for "the workers" was reinforced. more suitable company than that of many another group, at least for a good while.] As Scott has indicated in his posting [see below] that quotes the Catholic attempt to use Handke's book for its purposes, the actor is seized by a hunger for food, even ordinary fare can taste wonderful if the spirit is right our finicky eater writes [true], for the spirit which however in his case appears to be most successfully accessed in a consuming union with a woman... Can be, could be. At the point, however, I began to wonder again about our actor. Didn't he just a few hour back wake from what seemed a wonderful night with a woman who, although he himself did not love her, was "good to him" ... and now he is seized with hunger for what appears to be a different nameless woman, perhaps "the woman" - perhaps the record "what's love got do with it" is playing in his unconscious. the service and absolution he experiences absolve him of all past guilt and further compunctions and the priest even tells him that priests too are actors, whereupon our actor is as it were certified as a priest.

DER GROSSE FALL might be compared with THAT AFTERNOON OF A WRITER & ACROSS [CHINESE DES SCHERZENS], perhaps even with GOALIE, interesting results assured.

The comment on Handke and Catholicism to come later today.

Woke up shortly after my cat bird and my crows, which means a good nite's sleep and dreams. Sun is shining, fed me sparrows! x m.r



Handke & Catholicism Part I of ???

Born on Dec 6/1942 in the hamlet Griffen in Carinthia, Handke
from early on was steeped in village Catholicism. However, since
his immediate parents were not farmers, he cannot be said to have been subjected to
the virulent rural kind as we can find it, say, in the work of Franz
Innerhofer, or especially the early works of my current favorite,
Josef Winkler. Wanting an education from early in life, reading, Handke and
the village priest were d'accord in his gaining admission to the
Seminary for reproduction of Priests, Tanzenberg

Handke stayed at Tanzenberg for four years, an altercation or
his objection to how certain matters were handled made for his
leaving and completing his Gymnasium education [which really
includes the first two year of college from a U.S. p.o.v.] at
a Gymnasium in Klagenfurtz. One of his teachers at Tanzenberg
predicted that he would be a great writer.

Thus the "sacred" and "the word" were joined early on.
However, Catholicism as such cannot be said to be expressed in
his work, directly, until the great TODOS SANTOS play WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES
[UEBER DIE DOERFER - 1982]. I recall part of my initial response
to reading the text that I was meant and then did translate, and
this perhaps misunderstanding of ours I will recount in Part II
of this brief overview. The 2nd time that Catholicism becomes
overt in the work is in the one side of the six sides of the artist Keuschnig in MY YEAR IN THE NOMAN'S-BAY [1993], a priest, and the only one modeled
on an actual living person, the village priest with whom Handke
remained life long friends. [It occurs to me that I may be
neglecting certain Catholic features of the first novel DIE HORNISSEN, 1964]

Handke's Catholicism became an issue during the contentiousnesses surrounding the
disintegration of Yugoslavia when Handke objected to the Pope's failure
to object to the bombing during the Kosovo war. At that time the story was that
he had switched over to the Orthodox branch of his Slovenian grandfather Sivec.
It appears that he regularly worships in an Orthodox chapel near Chaville
and seeks out places of worship during his travels. How deeply infused
his frame of reference is with Christian imagery can be most easily ascertained in Walk About the Villages. These references, too, are deeply meaningful
to me, a pantheistic animist of sorts who, I am surprised by myself, retrospectively, felt the way Stephen Deadulus did about Popes Noses in Portrait of an Artist even though I cannot be said to have needed to get out from any kind of religious or priestly tutelage!. end part I. Part II will focus
on the way 'the actor" worships, and have an funnee story.
michael roloff


# 2 of 3 on the end of Ch. 3 and Handke and Catholicism

I envy Scott's son working north of the Brooks Range,
lots of flowers I expect and berries galore and authentic
mosquitoes and no-see-um's by the bucket. of course,
if your son wanted to be totally authentic he would go in the nude
and would be quickly devoured by them there beasties!

Don't misunderstand me in my analogy to VOYAGE BY DUGOUT.
That is a play on a stage where you can do certain things
that cannot be done in a prose context, and which play is
within a very much honorable post WW II German tradition:
Brecht, Kipphardt, Grass [The Plebeians Rehearse the Uprising], Peter Weiss. It is a way of presenting matters for the examination by the social body of the audience, very much in an enlightenment tradition, to which Peter - of course! - gives his own archaic
Slavic or whatever twist with that wooden dugout canoe - American Indians after all built them of birch bark! Run silent, carry lightly from stream to stream, repair is no more than just a birch away!

Before examining in the requisite detail how oddly our "actor" then partakes of the service at that church, let me recount an odd probably misunderstanding that occurred on my first response to reading galleys of UEBER DIE DOERFER [WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES, Ariadne Press: which also contains a long postscript by me, part of which can be found at ]

I realized at once that this text would challenge me to the utmost and wrote Peter to that effect, I had a case of anemia and may have
been more than usually soft headed, but I thought that one way of showing him my response to the work was to allude to having been secreted
away - fall 1941 to fall 1943 - in a part of the world that I would conclude many years later had been truly Stifterian, a huge ex-monastery beetling o'er the Inn owned by the husband of a actress who was a friend of my mother's from her Berlin days:

The huge forest to the south-east being knocked down by a tremendous storm, thousands upon thousands of fir trees lying flat, as though a whole army had been leveled: that is, the country side that Adalbert Stifter describes in his novel Wittikov; a dancing bear who pursued me in a dream, only 1/4 th of the building occupied, etc.


“At the upper reaches of the Danube you come on the town of Passau. The stream has just now left Bavaria and grazes this town at one of its noon gates to the Bavarian and Bohemian forests. This gate is a strong and steep cliff. The bishops of Passau have built a mighty fortress on it, the main building, so as to defy, occasionally stubbornly defend themselves against their vassals below. Towards the morning of the main house, on a different stony ridge, there stands a smallish house that used to belong to the nuns and that is therefore called the “nun’s estatelet....” [my translation]

The ex-monastery nunnery had a baroque chapel attached to it, and a cemetery,
not with a peace cypress as in VILLAGES, but with its kind of hollowed out
bench by the wall, moreover I too am an ancestor worshiper, and I respond nicely to the religious imagery as it is evoked especially toward the end with the vinegar being ineffective in Christ's wound and all that, that entire to and fro there. And so I merely alluded to that setting, which upset Peter, it appeared he did not want to be or have that piece nailed down as Catholic, perhaps not even infused, at that time, who knows how aware you even are of these matters if you grow up in and return to that environment, a matter it looks to me he has become less skittish about, although the manner in which "the actor" partakes of the service in DER GROSSE FALL, indicates that Herr Handke has created his own way of being Catholic! He even came back to our misunderstanding a second time some years later after he had totally endorsed its translation!


For the ongoing discussion of DER GROSSE FALL @:

Prior to addressing my subject in requisite detail, let me say that GROSSER FALL, in the
way it is a kind of occasional film resembles ONE DARK NIGHT
as being a dream book... Neither are naturalistic
but when they take recourse to Handke's extraordinary
capacities within the great realistic tradition, prime example for which is, I would say, his description of the aftermath of the tormento tropical that was left in the Chaville woods in the DEL GREDOS monstrum.

Once done with my careful readings, I will do a review of the reviews a revista of the reviews and perhaps so will Scott and whoever else wishes to join us, which reminds me that a particularly miserable idiot in the NY Times, now in limbo, objected to THE AFTERNOON AS A WRITER because he found the protagonist such unlikeable company. I imagine he would find the protagonist of DER GROSSE FALL a bit more likeable, who in church looks forward to his communion in the form of being part of a "God" instead of "beast" with two backs.

Upon a good nite's sleep a few further Catholic features
in earlier work occur to me in addition to those I mentioned in my previous comment on this subject: some of the imprecations in the early SELF-ACCUSATION... perhaps the serial procedure and the litanies themselves point towards it, or, speaking more broadly, formalism as such as art religion with its origins in the formal and ritualisitic aspects, both visual and musical... think Malevitch por ejamplo....Sorger at the end of A Slow Homecoming at his perch in the Hotel Adams at Fifth Avenue and East 86th Street blesses the people below in Central Park... and quite a few folk objected to the high priest tone of aspects of WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES...


The Catholic section of Chapter 6 begins on page 174 with
our "actor" hearing the single tolling of a bell within the general din of the war of neighbor against neighbor which sound, initially, strikes him as melancholy as it draws him to a church where a priest is just initiating his service 177. [Let me say that even after several readings, this neighbor war business, farcical cartoon as which it is drawn, strikes me as a poor objective correlative - if you recall the hoary Elliotish term - for the always present danger of the complete breakdown of human sociableness, the general irruption of the general psychosis of which the actor's resisted impulse to start using a hatchet to split heads is the individual manifestation. Oddly lacking in subtlety, especially I suppose in the instance of a writer who can be so. Bald.]

The reason that I mentioned Handke and our long distance mis-understanding in the instance of my first response to WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES/ UEBER DIE DOERFER in 1981 has to do with Handke being so cute about his Catholicism - he does not want to be pinned on the wall as some kind of toothless priest as I once encountered their ilk at a Hegel conference on the Moenchberg in 1964 where I had gone, chiefly, to interview Georgy Lukacs, who however failed to show. Cutely the actor participates in the service for one, the priest himself, it is a Silent Service, and then him too, beautifully described goes nearly without saying: he has an impulse to prostrate himself but is prevented from doing so - impossible amongst the benches, he kneels - but only does so the way he did as a kid in church, merely goes through the motions, halfway, so that it appears to the priest that the congregant has actually kneeled, he does not accept the proffered host! looks forward to the consummation in the form of the "god with two backs" instead of "the beast with two backs" - ah the things we can tell ourselves! Of course a marvelous way of redeeming the love act in our pornographic world - and what a contrast to the way the lovemaking of the rich is described in WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES as the sexers always in disunion going past each other and never reaching mutual consummation. Perhaps that is all I really need to say. Anyhoo, Handke the cute fashions his own kind of anything but counter-reformational Catholicism! A shop full of tarts and you get to ... But what an altogether magnificent section from page 174 to the end of the chapter, and as the "actor" then continues his extraordinary walk...


I want to comment on the serious business that is transacted between "the priest" and our "actor" not just on a certain elusiveness of Handke's in matters Catholic.

Obviously in this manifest between actor and PriesT, as opposed to the actor's ongoing interior dialogue -
it is his first real encounter, and we are about midway the book - in what transpires after the service when the two
are breaking bread together - several
matters are extremely important for this day of day's in the "actor's" life, where he also wonders at least once whether it is the hour of Golgotha ... 3 pm...

1] the priest confesseS to him that he too
is an actor, plays a role... in both social and the theatrical sense, before an audience...
a mass is theater of a certain kind... here the actor was only a very partial participant. He won't eat the hoste but

2] at their lunch the priest consigns the identity of Christoper, Saint Christopher on the actor

On taking leave of the priest our "actor" is
in pain "Es war eine Freude durchwirkt von Schmerz, in welcher er dahin pilgerte...[p.188]
["It was a joy drenched in pain, as he continues his pilgrimage...
the pain, pain within joy, which is also described as pleasurable, consists of empathy with the lost... It might be good to recall
Handke's endorsement of South American liberation theology, a fusion of Marxist
and Christian gospel thinking... something I happen to share, although far be from me to
acquire a Christ complex as the once Parcival
may be starting to manifest, Christ the Savior!
Be that as it may, as long as our man does not become a fanatic and get himself I.N.R.I.
I keep admiring how as a novelist he continues
to fuse the most modernist practices!

Resolutely as opposed to haphazardly the actor
proceeds in Chapter Seven but must pass several
extraordinary obstacles, which as they are evoked and described and frequently compared to scenes in film certainly have a filmic intensity. crossing the high speed highway circling the metropolis is like a walking across water, and i note that the way the actor clambers down through the underbrush and back
up on the other side has perhaps more than mere revenants of Karl May. The way the animals on both sides of the embankment huddle and are
at ease with our actor is not only reminiscent of the way animals find refuge at highway interstices in Spain in ONE DARK NIGHT but perhaps of St. Francis friendly relationship
with them? The actor then has to cross a huge abandoned railway yard, as indeed one can find them in many a city. there is a great scene with two cops and their car and his being nearly arrested, but the cops appear to realize that he is a special person, not a terrorist
or criminal...he then comes to the edge of the city, an overhang more anon.

i must have the best fed Sparrows in Seattle.
Here the link to something of mine that you know
in a different version. Crosscut's editor/ publisher David Brewster made it more suitable
as a Seattle piece, whereas I had been straight and personal



HERE IS THE DEFINITION OF ST. CHRISTOPHER WHICH WOULD NOT FIT THE ALLOWED LENGTH A MOMENT AG: "According to the legendary account of his life, Christopher was a Canaanite 5 cubits (7.5 feet (2.3 m)) tall and with a fearsome face. While serving the king of Canaan, he took it into his head to go and serve "the greatest king there was" (Christ.) He went to the king who was reputed to be the greatest, but one day he saw the king cross himself at the mention of the devil. On thus learning that the king feared the devil, he departed to look for the devil. He came across a band of marauders, one of whom declared himself to be the devil, so Christopher decided to serve him. But when he saw his new master avoid a wayside cross and found out that the devil feared Christ, he left him and enquired from people where to find Christ. He met a hermit who instructed him in the Christian faith. Christopher asked him how he could serve Christ. When the hermit suggested fasting and prayer, Christopher replied that he was unable to perform that service. The hermit then suggested that because of his size and strength Christopher could serve Christ by assisting people to cross a dangerous river, where they were perishing in the attempt. The hermit promised that this service would be pleasing to Christ.,,After Christopher had performed this service for some time, a little child asked him to take him across the river. During the crossing, the river became swollen and the child seemed as heavy as lead, so much that Christopher could scarcely carry him and found himself in great difficulty. When he finally reached the other side, he said to the child: "You have put me in the greatest danger. I do not think the whole world could have been as heavy on my shoulders as you were." The child replied: "You had on your shoulders not only the whole world but Him who made it. I am Christ your king, whom you are serving by this work." The child then vanished."


ON CHAPTER # 7 ctd:

I was just talking to, a retired Episcopal pastor
it turned out to be, husband of a woman who comes to Tullys Five Corners nearly every morning with her dogs, and trying to translate the title of the book lying on the table outside for him as I was feeding bushes thick with sparrows, I came up with THE BIG MISHAP!

Anyhoo. Now into Chapter Eight, here a few comments
on Chapter 7. After his relieving meal with the priest
he heads out resolutely, the waters part, he manages
the desert, of a huge abandoned railway yard, what appears
to be another forest proves to be just one thick narrow stand,
he finds a spot on grass that parallels the metropolis-
encircling highway, lets his feet dangle, his apprehension
that he is above an abyss proves wrong, his fear vanishes
and then he, however, after what seems a brief rest, starts
to fall apart, can't find his boots, is suddenly harried,
his sense that he has all the time in the world disintegrates
he becomes harried... and then, suddenly, is seized by the need to help is son, who he feels is in immediate danger, spiritual
not physical... lots of impulses to help have preceded this bursting need. But this is the first we hear of a son, no mention who the mother is, evidently not the woman he is fond of and she of him whose bed and house he departed what - considering how eventful the morning and afternoon has been so far - indeed seems hours ago, the passage of time in books worth considering. Nor the woman with whom he is planning to celebrate his kind of mass.

The sudden need for time is followed at once by a "monstrous ennui" [not Benjamin's "long while - duré - during
which the "Dreambird can hatch the egg of experience." - "accompanied by harriedness and utter loss of concentration." He becomes estranged from himself. [p.218] and the last sentence of this chapter then ends on a note of ambiguity, asking whether being a flaneur wasn't a necessity, and the sudden onset of panic, then too? Oh all the details of the world one becomes aware of as a flaneur!

What an odd character this actor is, curioser by the moment, and there as he walks through life his experience keeps being translated into film, film quotes, of those he has seen, those he had been in, his imagination is cooking as that of a writer who, as he walks through town,
translates everything into sentences. This alternation between film reality and profane reality is unsettling, make me a more careful reader. Re-reader.

Aside my aformentioned objection to the way Handke handles the objectification of the barely subterranean internecine warfare, animosity that prevails amongst so-called neighbors, ready to flare up among the bickering birds, I thought I found serious fault only with one other matter, the way the internecine warfare business is introduced around page 160, but on looking
at it a second time, I don't propose to be a "psycho-physicist" today! However, I recall mention of self-righteousness in that
connection which made me think that I hoped the author had not
forgotten his Die Teiche TABLAS des Damiel, and its prefatory note "Mistakes by others that highlight equivalent errors of our own precipitate a moral disappointment that permits us to assume the strict and noble stance of both judge and victim and gives rise to an inner state of moral euphoria. This euphoria distances us swiftly and surely from the process of personal moral perfection and makes of us terrible and merciless and even bloodthirsty judges."Ivo Andric, Signs by the Wayside
For the entirety of this and Handke's there self-berating see:


Comment I of 3 on this aspect of CHAPTER 8 [P 219-255]

In Chapter VIII we indeed see the "actor" head straight into the metropolis - at least for a while - but resolution turns fairly quickly irresolute as he begins to tarry once again and becomes a kind of tour guide - even though he claims, to excuse this feature in the narrative - that he has not been in the city for many years! which reads oddly since
he has an altar with a woman in mind and the mass that he is planning to celebrate does not appear to have been the first one! Never mind contradiction one could say in a dream, where they would signify something other than a lax author. Indeed, as we tarry in one of Paris beautiful new comfort stations - no more PISSOIRS!
and describe it and what it feel like to spend time in it - we forget that our tour guide is at least meant to play an amok man, and not be a comfy bourgeois. a particularly black and jagged piece of graffiti strikes him as that of an amok runner as he walks on, but that is the first we hear of that in a long time, and his remade Paris does not seem film-like either, although with all the changes a "new mayor" has wrought we cannot be sure, and that is a good thing.
however, then our actor takes the Metro, sees a tall fellow who looks like an amok runner, and then realizes it is his own reflection: at that point it would seem the actor is no longer just thinking of playing an amok runner, but has become such a one - it is a crucial moment, and I'm afraid it is "finito bandito Peter Handke" for me [P.231] or is it? Dorian Gray?

"He already saw him, recognized him, standing there quietly and upright, with that rigid look in his eyes and, more precisely, his tensed up cheeks. And by letting him be absorbed by himself, he noticed, that that that was him himself, his mirror image in the black windows of the metro car. It was odd, actually, that it was so few were running amok. And if, abrupt thought, if someone who ran amok simultaneously sacrificed himself or be acting in order to save?
Would that story, that film, still something that could be represented? And that fantasy then, oddly, seemed to soothe the subterranean faces .."

["Er sah den auch schon, erkannte den, der still und hoch aufgerichtet dastand, an seinen starren Augen und, deutlicher noch, an seinen gespannten Wangen.Und indem er ihn auf sich übergehen ließ, merkte er, dass das da er selbstwar, sein Spiegelbild in den schwarzen Waggonfenstern. Verwunderlich eigentlich,dass so wenige Amok liefen. Und wenn, jäher Gedanke, einer, der Amok lief, sich zugleich opfern, jemandem oder was retten wollte? Wäre so die Geschichte, der Film, doch darstellbar? Und die Untergrundgesichter zeigten sich dann von solcher Phantasie seltsam besänftigt.."]

What is so astonishing about this passage is its "isn't it surprising that more aren't running amok" thought. We already find it in the poems NONSENSE AND HAPPINESS [1971] [ALS DAS WUENSCHEN NOCHGEHOLFEN HAT - 1971 or GESAMMELTE GEDICHTE 2010] and I comment on the reasons for Handke's
and the Keuschnig of A MOMENT OF TRUE FEELINGS and WEIGHT OF THE WORLD distraugt state and the psycho-physicist reasons for it at my
HANDKE: WOUNDED LOVE CHILD psychoanalytic monograph at
and also at the

The question is: is "the actor" still the same distraught person - or is he just "acting" as though he is? Since blogs only permit appr. 4000 character per comment, further thoughtson this intriguing subject anon. However, on what we have read so far, four fifth of the book, one might conclude that if anyone needs "saving" it is our actor???



I am doing the third comment on Chapter 8, prior to
the far more complicated matters that the end of
my first comment which ended with the anything but rhetorical question
"is "the actor" still the same distraught person [as the Keuschnig of the 1974 A MOMENT OF TRUE FEELING] - or is he just "acting" as though he is? However, on what we have read so far, four fifth of the book, one might conclude that if anyone needs "saving" it is our actor???

Subsequent to our "actor"'s emergence from the the metro hell [p. 233]
there is no further reference - after a true infusion of its kind just then - to the actor being an Amok runner, and only single mention that he is supposed to play that role the next day, his director happens
into the cafe perhaps it is the brasserie Lipp where Malte Herwig recently took a wonderful photo of Handke, Bondy and himself in the mirror
where the actor finally takes a breather after a
long walk about and circling of a plaza, and the actor
promptly escapes out a side door as he spies the film's director
entering. The filmic element, of imagining he is, or putting what he sees and is experiencing in one or the other film, disappears as well.
On the other hand the writing and describing is so magnificent you are
better off reading the evocation than watching just about any film or slide show! Instead we, I at least feel in the hand of a magnificent romancier who needs no special tricks, his exraordinary use of words
suffices. However, he makes up the story as he flaneurs on, and just today I recalled what a carpet weaver quilt maker Handke is too, who has a loose clothes line of a story and hangs this and that wonderful observations or series on them. He writes his son a letter who is chasing after his adventuress mother who might be taking a canoe down the yukon or whatever... first we hear of that. he sees a woman in the brasserie that is finally worth looking at, he can't quit lip read what she is saying, unlike a presidential war time address that he saw broacast at one of the plazas, his fixes on her... it turns out it is the woman who left this morning as he tarried in bed... and we have the actor or his author make him claim that he doesn't recognize those closest to him: no, my guess is that handke wanted to put in this extraordinary portrait and couldn't quite leave it at that, and then he has her blush as she realizes that what she has told her girlfriend - let's put it as a pop song: "he opens me up, he makes me feel like a woman" - and then she also turns out to be the woman whom he will have his midnight mass with, but after he has observed and she has blushed he suddenly realizes what a worthless piece of shit he has been all this time to her and we strike a note that we find in recent Handke work, in the highly formalist play SUBDAY BLUES [which at least thematically bears close relation to running amok here], the woman in MORAVIAN NIGHT who is above and beyond the danger that women in general have proved to that "ex-author", and in the one female character answer to Beckett's KRAPP'S LAST TAPE, TILL THE DAY DO US PART , all full of regret and self-berating for what a shit Handke was to women for far too long in his life. It appears Handke in this ongoing soap is back together with his second wife, Sophie Semin, who left him, as did his first wife, the actress Libgart Schwartz, both for cause, and being cold as a salamander, but after both parties had some more affairs, she is now the sacred one, the "ebenbuertige" [his equal]. That is a nice state of affairs and I had it once, unfortunately I had to stick around NY a while too long for her. Anyhow it exists, also for me,that sense which I had not had until then. Udderwise, there indeed are no end of badnews chicks, especially in the boheme? No, not only in the boheme. If you want to find a good woman, go to Mexico!