Monday, January 21, 2008

for anyone who feels like me

In a great meta monologue called "Scared to Death," Stark quotes Old Masters by Thomas Bernhard

"You sneaked off into philosophy and authorship, Reger said, but you are neither philosopher nor an author, and that is what is simultaneously so interesting and so unfortunate about you and in you, because you are not really a philosopher and not really an author either, because for a philosopher you lack everything that is characteristic of a philosopher, and for an author similarly everything, even though you are exactly what I call the philosophical writer, your philosophy is no real philosophy and your writing no real writing, he repeated. And a writer who does not publish anything is, basically, not really a writer."

1 comment:

Paul Griffin said...

Suddenly I am someone who needs to read Francis Stark. But before Starks, how about Bernhard. He is one to be read. Gargoyles, The Limes Works, others. Most recently, an English translation of three of his novellas.

A quote from Amras, in which two brothers cope with the double suicided of their parents:

"At bottom, only that exists which has tormented us and which is tormenting us, which is forever tormenting us (for us); what has seduced us, who has seduced us... everything else, everyone else, has never existed, for us... not a single person who did not at least once torment me and seduce me... Our mother caused us our greatest torment, her greatest torments, nothing but incessant torments down to the small and smallest details... torments precisely calculated in advance (calculated in advance by her)..."

Bernhard is clearly in the Beckett and Kakfa lineage. He derives his sense of language's limitations from Beckett and his mood of sheer horror from Kafka. But what most captures my attention is the viciousness in Bernhard. His detestation of language, perhaps because of its limits, and of European culture in general. As I writer, I have unfortunately developed quite an antagonistic relationship with language; I have failed in many ways to respect it, to make friends with it. For me, and as I read in Bernhard, the use of language is a kind of wresting duel, a death match. This has been my experience. There are wonderful writers who master narrative (Morrison, Faulkner, Delilo, etc), but the writers who truly wrestle with language itself (mostly Europeans still, like Musil and Bernhard) come out looking like beaten warriors. It is not only that language has its limits, but if one tries to bend language to one's own will, or to transcend language through language, if that makes any sense, one loses, and loses badly. One comes home holding mere scraps and fragments, and the aspiration for fine prose is left, like a limp flower on the windowsill, dead after the romance has dissolved. In short, one loses one's mind, as all of Bernhard's characters do. All of them. Language, therefore, is free, absolutely and utterly free, its own being, through and through. The best one can do is open one's mouth.

"Reading is still the most bearable forms of all disgust."
-Bernhard, from Gargoyles

"The consciousness that you are nothing but fragments, that short periods and longer ones and the longest ones are nothing but fragments... that the duration of cities and countries is nothing but fragments... and the earth a fragment... that all of evolution is a fragment... there is no completion... that the fragments have evolved and are evolving... no trajectory, only arrivals... that the end is without consciousness... that then there is nothing without you and that therefore nothing is..."
-Bernhard, from Amras

But I digress. That's Bernhard. Stark actually plays with language. "But getting back to furniture." She's having a good time! I just may crap now with a box under my feet. And that is both here and there. And that's all for now...