Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Die schönen Tage von Aranjuez

The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez. That's the most direct translation.

The Vienna Festival site that announces Luc Bondy's production of the play renders the title as The Pleasing Hours in Aranjuez.

Peter Handke adds a subtitle to his new play: "A Summer Dialogue."

And I'm immediately captivated by the conversation between the man and the woman:

Who begins?

You. That was the plan.

Yes, that was the plan. — The first time, you with a man, how was that?

. . . I was still a child, hardly ten. . . . But it was so fast on the swing. Faster and faster. And then, at a certain moment, at a highpoint, or a tipping point, a precipitous slowing. While the swing, with me on it, continued to swing at the same speed as before, at least for long, long moments, there was an awakening within me. Thanks to that slowing down something bloomed in the me, broke open, came to — a boil, a boiling as sudden as the slowing down. Something within me and simultaneously outside of me — overpowered me and — how should I say it — created me — created me over. I became it, and it became me. Still: It was a story like the best of them, but, oh, how to tell it.

The jump from the question that seems to asking about a first sexual experience to an answer that describes a ten-year-old's experience with ecstasy is jarring. So is the unexpected and unusual "created me over" (erschuf mich um; "recreated me" is close, but seems to miss the surprising construction. I wonder how Zarko would translate this?). The surprises in the text produce a slowing in me as a reader, taking me outside the flow of the sentences.

Ecstasy means "to stand outside of." Not, in this case, to stand outside of herself, rather to stand outside the motion of the swing, outside of time, outside of the person she was before the slowing — all of which means to stand so powerfully within herself that everything outside disappears.

And this experience, she says, changes everything in her subsequent life.

It feels like this play could change my life as well. 

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