“Dialogue” Peter Handke – Culture

Peter Handke dedicated his new book, No.: Büchlein, to actors Otto Sander and Bruno Ganz. So these two are what comes into one’s mind when a dialogue unfolds between “special fools” in the “Zwietalk” named “Zwietalk”. It doesn’t matter that they both died. Weren’t Sander and Jans two very special people from another world while they were still alive? You can still imagine them as the people-friendly angels Cassiel and Damiel who played in Wim Wender’s “Der Himmel über Berlin” (1987), albeit talking rather than just listening. Handke was involved in the script at the time, for example contributing to the philosophical poetic “Childhood Song”, whose lines have the potential to be life companions (“When a child was a child / He didn’t know It was a child / Everything was in motion, / And all souls were one”). Sander and Jans previously worked in the premiere of “Der Ritt über den Bodensee” (Ride Across Lake Constance), which was staged in 1971 in Berlin Schaubuhne, directed by Klaus Behmann.

At the time, Handke was the wild boy of German language literature, pop poet and theater revolutionary. Now he’s a laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature at an advanced age—he will turn eighty in December—and his style is sometimes that of a teacher, an eccentric saint of languages ​​and nature-loving eccentrics, who is literally well versed in nearby villages, mushroom forests, and landscape studies of no man’s bays. As is known, Handke walks a lot – and immerses himself in it from a literary point of view.

“There is nothing more serious than playing hard.”

Presented in less than 70 pages, the new “Zwietalk” is once again a journey through the realms of language and memory, written in typical Handke-Speak with a sensitive and noble tone, sometimes: a poetic, swollen tone and coquettish slang, puns, and choppy attitudes. It’s not for everyone, and it doesn’t have to be for everyone. But whoever always likes to accompany Handke on his winter journeys through villages and through Moravian nights in the footsteps of lost inland lands or to the edge of a country road, will remain on his trail here too, and will roll after him in the linguistic river, here and there, stop there, stop, listen – without alienating too much.

Because this awareness, which comes in the form of speech, leads to familiar territory, I already known, the author may add in English at this point. Sometimes he makes such sudden expressions in English (or another language), Suddenly. They’re bold signs of the global online world – against suspicion of linguistic shamanism – but also a win-win in terms of sound and tempo. After all, there is music in Handke’s script.

Peter Handke: Dialogue. Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin 2022. 72 pages, €18.

This includes repetition. Diversity of themes and previous motifs. Hints for his work. Sometimes self-critical: “Have I ever told you that?” Answer: “Twice, if not three times.” Then the first again: “Yeah, that’s how it is with storytelling when you get older.” They are quirky, friends with their “knowledge of words.” In addition to extravagance, your exchange letter also has the potential to smile. If someone, for example, shouts about the crowding and hissing of city streets, with all the “young boys and players” there, the “assembled people”, among whom he feels helpless as the only one “who really walks” ”, then he ends his report with a sentence: But my horoscope said: “You are irresistible today.” https: //www.sueddeutsche.de/kultur/. The audience laughed.

Right from the start, this prose dialogue focuses on the stage, the ‘special idiot’s box’, the ancestral domain of actors Otto Sander and Bruno Ganz. “It is enough to look into the void now,” she says at the beginning, as if he were an expectant spectator speaking from the ground. One of the dialogue partners is also a theatrical person. He recounts a show he once saw at school as a child, with House on stage as part of the set. It is the “House of Dreams”, the “Children’s Theater House” that has represented all his expectations from the theater since then. Associated with this basic hope of the emergence of a person “and another unique one I’ve never seen”. This expectation that “all doors and windows will open and – and -” is broken and another adds: “- That it is getting serious?” Yes, as the theater lover says, “serious at last” but he is also comically serious: “No more serious than serious play.”

The tones he hits here sound cute – or: wise – self-conscious

He was clearly disappointed in this hope as in theater in general. Because the “sacred times” in which life in the theater “emerged” (yes: appeared), the language and silence in the theater are still gone and the “holy terror of this silence” is over. The theater has “lost its momentum,” the art lover says, but the “artistic sister film” has also “lost its momentum” as a result. It is a statement without bitterness. Discovery. But the longing persisted, and as he walked he frequently encountered the archetype of his school-theater-house, whether it was in the form of an old field barn or a gabled cemetery house (“Nothing after work more than such a gable!”), and in his mind he turns it occasionally A pair of lovers whispered.

The other, the friend who never felt responsible for the tragedy, follows other paths in his memory, i.e. back to his grandfather, a once respectable and idealist, who fought as a young man in the Isonzu battles in World War I (present day). Slovenia) was there and later told his grandson his lies. The grandfather who was apparently in Ostmark is also enthusiastic about the Third Reich and its “pseudo-language”, and then plays on himself as “the seductive man”. In his own way, he too: a player. Sadist, abuser of animals. The descriptions explaining how he struck a snake with a rake and a mortar delve into a hornet’s nest in a hollow tree.

Before Handke begins settling scores with the “grandfather,” he warns: “Political issues are under threat.” To what extent he refers to his ancestors and to his political delusion and manifestation (“hopeless – hopeless – hopeless”) is an open question, experts or everyone can decide for themselves, at least the tones he hits here, intact old age – or: age – aware for the self. In any case, this Platonic “dialogue” about becoming, going and dying is an ancient work in the best sense of the word. Also in so far as he directs the arc from the school kid to the very old and the very old and even peeks at the prams to end up in a confident, defiant worry, the “eternal young man”.

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