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Saturday, December 1, 2018

COMMENTS ON von Bülow/ Handke's Das stehende Jetzt.

Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach: Das stehende Jetzt. Die Notizbücher von Peter Handke. Gespräch mit dem Autor und Essays von Ulrich von Bülow.
Deutsche Schillergesellschaft, Marbach am Neckar 2018.
150 Seiten, 18,00 EUR.
ISBN-13: 9783944469393

Das stehende Jetzt / Hic Nunc
for me is the Handke book of the year 2018, Handke himself for once did not publish anything new but for that summa, his Bibliothek

and my review of this treasure trove will be a gradual one @:


[1] First Posting: early December 2018

Von Buelow’s text consists of

[a] an interview with Handke about his notebooks endeavor, a conversation I will not try to condense here - it makes for essential reading if you are interested in deciphering the notebooks and their importance for the DIMENSION of Handke’s oeuvre that consists of journal extracts:




 Phantasien der Wiederholung


Peter Handke

Gestern unterwegs


 Vor der Baumschattenwand nachts

that derive thence; and, of course, to see to what degree if any the notebooks are work books, drafts - what have you - for the narratives, the stage work and the essays. – Bon voyage to the scholar eyes that enter those tickets!
Let me immediately note that I disagree with von Buelow in too readily buying Handke’s claim that the notebooks, the 221 one it is I think now in the Archive’s posession, which have their inception in 1975, are not diaries – best as I can tell who appears in the journals and witnessed his note taking and some of their locations
the Notizbuecher are also Tagebuecher, no matter Handke’s 1975 wish to the contrary – as a matter how can they not also be diaries! – Hic Nunc~– and this would seem to be one of many instances when the distinction- obsessed Handke is unnecessarily but characteristically finicky.

Best to my knowledge such intense notebook keeping is unique among writers, although one could maintain that literary culture, also in German letters, has been building up to something as monumental as this endeavor, off-hand and irrelevantly Robert Musil and Harry Graf Kessler come to mind. Some truths are only to be found in these leavings – to sell such bulk and make most of it publicly available – note Gregor Keuschnig/ Lothar Struck’s fine piece in Literaturkritik that discusses constraints on access:

is testimony to Handke’s insatiable exhibitionism – but I don’t think the world is a Backfisch who will blush in the wanted embarrassment from that kind of contact, but - considering the marvel that much of the work affords - will be grateful to the scholars that take the trouble to decipher  and relate… And how multi-dimensional the artist and person becomes by showing off so many sides of himself, and as anything but a saint prevaricates not all that dreadfully or that often.

A shame that Handke did not ctd. to pursue work with the analyst he saw in Paris in the early 70s and who confessed to Handke that, he, too, [a Catholic analyst?], felt the weight of the cross at Eastertime, [vide Weight of the World] and we might have some years of what the discipline calls “process notes,” to lend yet a further dimension, aside how an analysis might have reflected itself in Handke’s thinking or learning to think – after all, Handke, initially stood very much under the influence of Wittgenstein’s linguistics, but as von Buelow shows, especially while at work, preparatorily, for the prose text of Langsame Heimkehr, that is in Alaska, was impressed by Heidegger, whose work he regarded at other times as resistant as  Beton – and though the very name Heidegger elicits revulsion in me, I can appreciate Handke thinking about the problematics of poetic endeavor in a scientific age, and taking recourse to Heideggerian formulations about “being” – formulations that Wittenstein would hoot at with a thousand owls!

I agree entirely with von Buelow when he notes Handke’s Deskriptor phenomenology – certainly nothing new in literature at least since Stephen Deadalus availed himself of the metaphor of the old woman in the Rembrandt painting paring her fingernails as the proper – and scientific! – somewhat dissociated objectivist attitude, though note how much gentler and kind and empathic Handke’s phenomenology becomes, nay was as of the beginning. What needs to be kept in mind is that Handke is twice as sensitive as the ordinary monkey, his autistic sensitivity, which can lead to over-stimulation during stressful periods, a lack of the equivalent dampers, during the period subsequent to his mother’s suicide nd the first wife splitting – the three long ever more stormy poems in NONSENSE AND HAPPINESS

How much more precisely Handke sees was something I noted during his 1971 visit to New York, when he asked me how old I was, a matter on which I was not dead certain at the time, having been born at the very end of 1935. His reply to my answer was: “I thought you were a year older.” On getting hold of my birth certificate he was proved right. Someone whose eyes are so eagle-like also notices that the moon is one degree waxier or waner and is the spookier for that! And this amplification holds true for all senses. No wonder that he murders a few dozen suburban leaf blower each autumn!

Aside the interview, von Bulow after commenting on the the notebooks focuses on two identifiable themes or obsessions of Handke’s that manifest themselves ther:

[2] Heidegger makes an appearance during Handke’s Alaska trip that produced the narrative of A SLOW HOMECOMING and von Buelow devotes some pages to [3] Handke’s involvement with Spinoza’s materialism and his pantheistic equivalence of nature and God, whic led me to speculate that Handke’s involvement with a good pscho-somaticist – very much in Spinoza’s tradition - might have a gone a long way to relieving his psychosomatic heart troubles, whose symtom’s Handke over these decades appears to have sought to walk off.

So much, then, for the first installment of this commentary. Let me know if you are interested in receiving a PDF of it and the thought I am devoting to this wonderful book and to the Notizbuecher. Michael Roloff, December 3, 2018

Part II:
Prior to resuming my comments on the effect of A SLOW HOMECOMING on me in resolving a profound transference developed during nine-month traipsing and boating flying and driving all over the vast interior of Alaska….

# II-a of II a-b-c & I, II, III

of my comments on Von Buelow’s DAS STEHENDE JETZT addresses what came as the biggest surprise from Von Buelow’s perusal of Handke’s Notizbuecher:

For one, Klaus von Buelow’s reading of Handke’s NOTEBOOKS  [p. 142-3]
leads one to believe that Handke does not believe in cause and effect – preferring a  kind if associative shadowing procedure for his phenomenologically notating text; which strikes me as fine for a text such as THE LESSON OF ST. VICTOIRE, where it manifests as a kind of impressionism, which Handke demonstrates most thoroughly in the anxiety play novel DER HAUSIERER

 a consciousness registering all around and specific ominousness – Handke’s phase where he regarded himself as the “New Kafka” – mid to early 70s.
This is a wonderful poetic way of proceeding in giving intimations in a highly aesthetic manner, pretty much in the same way as e.g..  Virginia Wolfe does in THE WAVES.
   However, this way of proceeding got Handke into deep hot water for his first Yugoslav war trip account A JOURNEY TO THE RIVERS – see
for that Alpine Range of trouble
where he even made a point of saying that he was not doing anything different from what he had been doing all along.

[I will not dissertate on the attacks that have been launched on the phenomenological procedure} but the reception both in Europe and in the USA at the very least wanted him to repeat, if possible in their own condemning language, that there was only on responsible party and one particular evil perpetrator… and in fact Handke might have made life easier for himself if he had defended his position that it was premature to condemn Milosevic and the causes for the all around mayhem were too complicated certainly for the blaming of a single tribe, that is, the Serbs if he had proceeded within the continuum of accustomed rational or standard polemic style.
   Though Handke occasionally hinted at the time -  in this matter - that the German recognition of Slovenian and Croatian independence played a role in the disintegration, Handke – who recently accused himself of being or having been hugely stupid – at that time really paid no heed to cause and effect that might hav explained if only to himself how he as Lothario got himself into so much hot water that one morning he then wakes up and the neglected and insulted wife who has fled the coop, providing a shock that leads to years of age and whose resulting panic attacks land him in a hospital, but little waking in the matter that Lothario-like being can have  
 until you’re up the Rio Grande at Truth and Consequences

and start to kiss the Elephant’s Butte

or drown in it!

 – I am speculating here, though perfectly ordinary homo sapiens in some ways, yet with his ultra-high sensitivity autism and childhood trauma as a ultra love child I cannot tell what kinds of denial Handke might practice subliminally – thus, a mystery ensues – why is or was the genius formalist writer so unnecessarily profoundly stupid – arrogance????.
   That Handke does not believe in cause and effect also characterizes the absence of the usual psychological motivation of his characters, say LEFT HANDED WOMAN, to which  the NY Time’s Anatol Broyard objected so violently – but which does not bother me, who once got himself trained as an psychoanalyst who is absolutely happy not to know the why and wherefores of the LHW’s sudden resolve to leave her husband – for as soon as I start to speculate on the possibly highly complicated set of circumstances that leads to the existential shock the shock and the fundamental mystery starts to be softened, disappear. – and for whatever reason Handke wrote that particular novella at that time – perhaps as gambit to counter his wife having left him.

But let me - as translator, and thus as close reader, of at least some of his great texts – note that Handke, however, seems to believe and practice artistic logic of all kinds, very much within the tradition of at least Western if not literature in it entirety going back for thousands of years, and perhaps exercising artistic logic and the requisite sensitivities I suggest might be at least a kind of surrogate in everyday living to a constant awareness of the constant operation of the myriad of cause and effects at whose mercy we exist.

Next, for the New Year, II-b HANDKE’S RECOURSE TO SPINOZA ETHICS OF PRODUCING JOY, take a look at Peter Strasser’s  Der Freudenstoff: Zu Handke eine Philosophie

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