Tuesday, April 27, 2010


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         By Michael Roloff


         "Gley  cudez  in  pazabi! " ["See the miracle and forget it."]

         W.A.T.V. {- 1.




         Should  your  antennae  continue  to  detect  tremors from the

         aftershocks  of  the  disintegration  of  Yugoslavia  as  they

         recede  with  the  occasional  major hiccup [like the current,

         Fall  1998,  Kosovo  monstrosity] off into the past, much like

         those reverberations from the thunderstorm in Beethovens Pas-

         toral  Symphony, you may also recall that in 1996 Peter Handke

         took  A  Winters  Journey  to the Rivers Danube, Save, Morava

         and  Drina [2: and subsequently wrote a 25 thousand word piece

         by  that title which the editors of the Sued-deutsche Zeitung,

         in  Munich,  Germany, though dissociating themselves from some

         of  its  points,  entitled  Justice  for Serbia when they pub-

         lished  it  there]. The piece caused consternation in European

         intellectual  circles,  particularly  in  the  German speaking

         countries,  but also in France and the Slavic regions - it was

         felt  that  Handke  had taken an undue pro-Serbian position in

         trying  to  redress  the  balance  of  blame  as  it was being

         parceled  out  in  a discussion between members of a clan that

         was  largely  powerless  to  influence  these events but whose

         hyper-cathected  consciences,  powerful  verbal  abilities and

         desperate  need to make their bird cries heard through the din

         were  not entirely without influence on the mediation and ana-

         lysis  of  information  about events. Six months subsequent to

         his  first  venture,  and  after the onset of the controversy,

         Handke,  in  the  company  of  the same two Serbian tour-guide

         friends,  retraced the steps of his initial trip, and also vi-

         sited,  or  what was left of it, the city of Srebrenice in the

         Bosnian-Serb  state Srbska on the Drina River - Srebrenice had

         become  infamous  for one of the most heinous atrocities - and

         then  published  a  somewhat  shorter  text  entitled A Summer

         Sequel to a Winters Journey. Also, as compared to not


                                 Handkes    Slavic    Connection   [5]


         reading  any  number  of magnificent texts in public for some-

         thing  like 20 years, Handke read these interventions at large

         public  forums  throughout Europe, appeared on television - as

         a  matter  of  fact,  I  would  say  that  it was his sense of

         justice  that  propelled  him  to  cross  the  threshold  that

         otherwise  can  inhibit his spoken voice; nay, he confessed to

         itching to do these readings.

             Without  wanting [or being in position] in any way to sort

         out  much  of  what  went  into the disintegration of the once

         Yugoslavia,  or  only  as little of it as I need to, I want to

         focus  on  Handkes  intervention:  it  is  revelatory of many

         matters  concerning  Handke,  including aspects of what I have

         called  his  "psychological  catastrophe,"  but  also of other

         features,  a  proximate  understanding  of which may lead to a

         better  reading  of  him  and his work. Like his pivotal first

         Paris  Period  [1971-77]  it  shows the writer in a crisis, in

         this instance in a crisis provoked not by personal family mat-

         ters  but by political events and their news coverage that yet

         were  family-close to his heart, a crisis in which he then in-

         tervened  with  the two texts. {3} For me the texts present an

         opportunity  to  reverse  the  process  of  how  Alice looked,

         regarding  her  through  the lens at which she looked at these


             In  my usual way I myself am still hemming and hawing with

         the  question  to what degree to attribute the strength of the

         motivation  for  the entire undertaking of these two books and

         the  reading  tour to Handkes voracity to display himself, to

         his  competitiveness,  to what degree to his envy, as compared

         to  saner  and  more  honorable  motives  such as his sense of

         justice:  but  his "Slavic mysticism" ought not to be left out

         of  account  either, it runs deep. It is a deep basso profundo

         river  running  inside  him, that makes him attend the Russian

         Orthodox  church  in  his "Nomansbay" outside Paris which also


         is  a  point  of  reference  in  Justice; and it cant just be

         "blood"  all this irrational Slavic mysticism, it must be some

         form  of transmuted totemism, male brotherhood stuff, it cant

         just  be  Boris  Gudonov  and their literature, Russian Slavic

         Soul!  A  lot  more  big hearted than anything German; perhaps

         its  the  combination of faith and thinking with your stomach?

         as  Milosevic  murders  on  big  time!  And so perhaps one may

         begin  to  understand  why the two texts of Justice for Serbia

         are  the  testament, also, to a being confounded, to a kind of

         fit  -  whether  altogether justifiably or not remaining to be

         seen  here.  And  to the most stubborn kind of adhesion to his

         Slavic identity.    





















                                 Handkes    Slavic    Connection   [7]

                            I: BACKGROUND INFORMATION

         A  good way to begin to sort out the 1995-6 contretemps caused

         by  the  publication  of  scandal-prone  Handkes  Justice for

         Serbia  and  its Summer Sequel might be to begin with his 1991

         essay  Farewell to the Dream of the Ninth Land [4] and the in-

         terviews  on  matters  Slovenian and Yugoslavian, ranging from

         the  early Eighties to 1992, that we find collected in its se-

         quel  Once  More About the Ninth Land [1993]. In Farewell - it

         is  important to know that "Ninth Land" in Slovenian signifies

         land  of  Peace, land of Dreams - I was considerably surprised

         to  learn that Handke regretted the 1991 formation of an inde-

         pendent  Slovenian  Republic,  the  second  time that the once

         K.U.K.  Slovenia  has  been  independent in this century - the

         first  lasted  about  two  years subsequent to WW I; until the

         plebiscite at which it joined the royal establishment of Yugo-

         slavia.  It  was  during this plebiscite, Handke mentions once

         again  in  Justice, that the all-important father surrogate in

         his  life,  his  grandfather  Siutz  [Sivec in Slovenian], his

         mothers  Carinthian-Slovenian  father,  who  figures  as  the

         father  figure  in The Repetition, Handkes inverted rewriting

         of  Sorrow  Beyond  Dreams  [the book Handke wrote to sort out

         and  mourn  his  mothers  suicide  in  1971,  {5}  -  see how

         complicated  it gets for you who like to have your life simple

         and  your  news  in  a  few quick cereal bites - voted for the

         Slavic option.

             Surprise  I  say at Handkes so feeling because I recalled

         his  statement,  it first appears in The History of the Pencil

         [T.H.O.P.]  [1983] {6}, and also in that collage of ten years

         work  that  comprises  the  screenplay  for  Wings  of  Desire

         [1987],  that  he  was  looking forward to the day when Europe

         would  turn back into something like its former gerrymander of

         small  dukedoms, with difficult access across the borders: bad

         roads  make  for  good  people I thought was one sense that he

         adhered  to,  {7}  though  this wish may also express Handkes


         standing  in  the  need  of  a  lot  of  protection [one of my

         favorite  Lukacs bon mots is "Machtgeschuetzte Innerlichkeit,"

         ["Inwardness  protected  by  power."] the other is L.s obser-

         vation that folks like Adorno really feel stupendously comfor-

         table  in  the  "hotel  abyss"]; and so I had sensed a contra-

         diction between the so easily, chokingly confined ultra-sensi-

         tive  and  nausea-prone  {8} walkers love of the open road as

         well  as  Handkes  fidelity  to  the Herderian principle that

         every  ethnic  group  has a destiny that it ought to live out;

         the  more  languages  the  more  flowers; which openness might

         make  him,  a hybrid of the borderland and of cultural mongre-

         lization,  look  with  some  favor  on  the  cosmopolitan - if

         matters were quite that simple, that is.

             Farewell  to  the  Dream  of  the  Ninth Land accounts for

         Handkes passions and affections for things Slovenian in a ci-

         vilized  and  modulated  fashion;  compared to Justice and its

         pretty  much  synonymous  Summer  Sequel  hes on his best be-

         havior,  yet  can find no real "ground," in 1991, for an inde-

         pendent  Slovenian state, feels that the Slovenians were some-

         how  talked into independence from the outside, that is by the

         West,  and  that though they suffered some neglect and discri-

         mination  within  the  Yugoslav  confederation,  that confede-

         ration  was  yet  a  reformable  entity  whose  genuine raison

         detre  had  been forged in the smithy of fighting and suffer-

         ing  the  Germans  during World War II, and that Slovenian and

         Serbians  possess  greater  affinity and liking for each other

         than  of  their  Croatian midway neighbors who, after all, had

         had  their  infamous  Fascist  Ustacha, though, and, Handke is

         scarcely  alone in stating that the Bosnian Muslims too, cola-

         borated with the Germans - Kosovo all along remains that amaz-

         ing anomaly, especially after it had lost its semi-autonomous


                                 Handkes    Slavic    Connection   [9]


         status  in  the  late 80s [the Kraina, the Hungarian minority;

         the  Slavones,  etc. are of course left unfairly out the focus

         of  this hodge podge, and there are a lot of things I know how

         to unravel, but not that].

             In  other  words, Handke contends that by the inception of

         its  disintegration  Yugoslavia  was  more than the artificial

         construct  and  sleight  of  hand trick by the finesseful jug-

         gler,  who,  having  escaped  the  fate of the Bulgarian prime

         minister  Dimitroff  {9},  had  his  act  financed by the West

         during  the  Cold  War, a contention, not expressed in so many

         words,  however extrapolatable it is from Handkes perhaps in-

         tentionally,  provocatively over-idealistic description of the

         cohesiveness  of the younger generation of Yugoslavs. Perhaps.

         Yet  how  easily the young were then turned against each other

         and  loved  to  fight  and kill! - Just watch their respective

         soccer  teams during the world cup, what a nasty piece of work

         they  all  are.  - But let it be noted, too, that Handke noted

         in  Felsfenster,  the  1980s  diary excerpts published in 1998

         {10}  that  the coldest kind of hatred had begun to prevail in

         Yugoslavia  around  that  time  -  that  is, subsequent to the

         death of Tito; and in the 1993-4 "fable" Nomansbay, which con-

         tans  extensive  wanderings  around  the  Croatian part of the

         then  still  Yugoslavia,  Handke makes the generous point that

         the  fragmentizing  antagonisms  which  reach back at least to

         World  War  II,  will  no  longer  affect his childrens gene-

         ration,  in the 1997-8 in which that fable is set! So which is

         it?  Realist  or  optimist  sentimentalist? Whats it going to


             Still,  Handkes  positive assessment of the possibilities

         of  a lasting Yugoslavia is a viable, arguable one, especially

         for  someone  with  his  kind of Slavic roots who has a German

         father  and  German  stepfather  and hates Germans and Germany

         throughout  his  work  and  interviews  as  sick sick sick and


         obscure  and hateful with each other [though ultimately admit-

         king  that  maybe  there  was a bit of self-hatred involved!],

         and  who  detests  the junk of the consumer culture as much as

         Handke  does.  -  And  indeed, once the dust has settled a bit

         and  the  historians  of  contemporary history have done their

         work  in  disdisorienting the so easily disoriented likes such

         as  myself  of  the  confusing Yugoslav events that greeted me

         upon  my  return from three years absorbing a Mexican village,

         {11}  you  eventually  find  out  that about 3 billion dollars

         would  have  sufficed  to  keep the federation from coming un-

         glued.  Steve  Boros,  where were you when we needed you then?

         {12}  If youre even still around now that the hedge funds are

         disintegrating  at  the  end  of one of the biggest capitalist

         splurges in history?

             A  second  reason  that Handke offers for his feeling that

         the  newly independent Slovenian state [as it became after the

         "10  day war" of 1991] is a mistake is that Slovenia, for him,

         therewith loses its "sense of reality" - and there is no argu-

         ing  with  someones  sense  of what is real and what isnt; I

         say  that there is no arguing with your mothers voice appear-

         ing  in your dream that it is not real - that to follow it may

         be  unrealistic  is an altogether different matter. The demar-

         cations  around  the  2  million people weak state of Slovenia

         put  limits  to  a  dream for the great Karst walker, it is no

         longer  a  viable compromise and a viable com-promise for him,

         and  his sense of reality, would be an "as if" state, it loses

         its  sense  of  reality  because  it has been pinned down, and

         that  "kills  the  imagination."  The poetic land is no longer

         poetic  for the one who walked the Karst 100 or more times and

         asks  for  a "poets passport" to negotiate the border patrol,

         who claims to know every inn, every drinking hole, perhaps


                                 Handkes    Slavic   Connection   [11]


         slept  meanwhile in each and every Dolmine, those sinkholes in

         the  limestone  formation [see their description in The Repet-

         ition]  of  which the poverty-stricken Karst consists. Equally

         unpleasant  for him, Slovenia is no longer a fraternally fede-

         rated  state,  or  rather  it  is unpleasantly affiliated with

         Austria.  What  bothers  him  grievously  is  that constructed

         notion  of Central Europe as it is being propagated; he points

         out  that Slovenia is scarcely an Alpine republic - his hatred

         of  Austrian  "stupidity" is one reason for his hatred of any-

         thing  landlocked  [there are grievous personal and profoundly

         creative  ones  as well and their displacement no doubt play a

         powerful   role  here  as  elsewhere,  see  my  Psychoanalytic

         Monograph:  Peter Handke, Between Faith and Catastrophe {13}],

         and  he  is right in pointing out that aside some mountains to

         the   north,   Slovenias   Illyrian   landscape   is   highly

         variegated,  part  Adriatic,  part  Tuscan, that Karst, etc. -

         You  might  say  that  Handkes are comparatively, to the very

         least,  private  reasons  unless  one understands that without

         poetry  life  is  death.  Now  theres  a  new slogan for some

         granite  mean  state of the North Eastern United States. "Give

         me  poetry  or  give me death," must be the best license plate

         slogan to have been proposed since what?

             Thirdly,  Handkes  fear  that Slovenia will become an An-

         dorra-like  extension of Wall Street and its Fifth Avenue Man-

         hattan  shops  seems borne out in a brief reprieve of Farewell

         towards  the  end  of Justice where Handke revisits his Slove-

         nian  haunts  which  within  five years have been colonized by

         Western  merchandizing.  Its  a little bit like nostalgia for

         East  Germany  -  except  of course that though Milovan Djilas

         had  more  than a point in pointing out the two-tiered society

         spawned  by  the nomenclatura [as compared, pray, to what kind

         of  distortions  of  income  relations  and life styles in the

         world  that  is  free  to  amass fortunes and yet niggle about


         pennies].  Yugoslavia  was  an  interesting  and comparatively

         free  buffer  state that indeed could be described as existing

         in  something  of an "as if" condition, and I will not digress

         into  the  analytic  history  of  that  mild defensive "as if"

         state  of  the mind as it has been described by Freud, via He-

         lene   Deutsch  to  more  current  practitioners  and  theore-

         ticians,  and  which  state  of mind is capable of helping you

         bear  no  end of moderately oppressive states of affairs; that

         continuum  from  "as  if,"  via  phantasy,  day-dreaming,  de-

         lusions,  hallucinations, to psychosis. - At any event, let it

         be  noted  that  for  the pre-Socratic Handke it does not suf-

         fice  that  the  Karst no matter who rules its infertile land-

         scape  -  its  mysteries remind me of that bio-sphere, the De-

         sierto  Viscaino  near  Guerrero  Negro  at the border between

         Baja  California  Sur  and  Norte  - will always be the Karst;

         unless,  that  is, the Austrian Ministry of Culture is already

         planning  tours  to  its  Dolminen  for  their future Cultural

         Monument Peter Handke: "He, that one, slept there."

             Handkes  dreams  of a lasting Yugoslav federation go back

         to  his  childhood days and to its important and good figures,

         among  which  the Gruenderzeit Grandfather, who started saving

         again  after every inflationary debacle and who was famous for

         his  uninhibited Zeus-like fits of fury, who looms ever larger

         as  the  backbone in a magnificently restorational and redemp-

         tive  yet  ever more modernistic and exhibitionistic and some-

         times  furious classic literary endeavor, except for the occa-

         sional  grandfatherly  major  "sacred"  conniption that Handke

         throws  when  the  great righteousness comes upon the one who,

         meanwhile,  in  some of his works, is so imbued with love that

         he  seems  to  assume  the  role  of  the love-dispensing high

         priest but can also come on as the Lord High Justice of the


                                 Handkes    Slavic   Connection   [13]


         Word  and  World, this oddly philo-semitic authors excuse for

         assuming  that role being that he identifies with the just God

         of  Jewish  scripture! {14} - Each one to his own set of self-

         serving,  however  sacralized,  rationalizations  is all I can

         say to that.

             Also,  lest  we  forget:  whenever  Handke has completed a

         fine  piece  of  work,  he  exults and is ready to go forth in

         rage!  [T.H.O.P.]  Having  completed  Nomansbay by early 1994,

         and  resolving  not to write anything that year, by the winter

         of  1995 he had had ample time for his long-simmering upset at

         what  he  regarded  an  anti-Serbian witch-hunt to stew to the

         Handkean  flashpoint  and for him to enter the fray! - Yet his

         work,  and  by no means alone in my instance, can also be cha-

         racterized  by  a  riff  on  Pounds line about gold gathering

         light  in the gloom, to the effect that, starting with A Left-

         handed  Woman  &  Slow  Homecoming [both late 70s] and persis-

         ting  through his latest [1997] German language novel In einer

         dunklen  Nacht Ging Ich Aus Meinem Stillen Haus, Handkes work

         has  the  astounding  and quite mysterious capacity to attract

         his  readers  affection to him as a person, or to many of the

         personae  that  the  various  surrogate  selves  adopt in this

         largely  yet  so  uniquely different autobiographical endeavor

         up  to  and  including  that major novel of his many selves My

         Year  in  Nomansbay  -  with  the  exception  so  obviously of

         Justice  and its Sequel, which produce consternation; and does

         nothing to make for peace or conciliation.

             The  part  of the contradiction between open and closed as

         it  manifest  itself  in  so  much  of  Handkes work {15} re-

         appears in Justice and its Sequel, and here reiterates one ma-

         jor reason that Handke gives for his unhappiness with an inde-

         pendent  Slovenian  state:  such  closed  borders, such an em-

         bargo  might  prevent entry of the monopolistic goods from the

         West  -  bad objects it sounds like! He hopes the 1995 embargo


         of Yugoslavia might last a little longer but for that one rea-

         son  alone!  Handke,  though  possessed  not  only  of a great

         yearning  for cleanliness up to the point of a Fimmel {16}, at

         no  point  in  these two texts enters into a discussion of the

         most  revolting  aspect  of the ideology of "ethnic cleansing"

         based  as it is on the reaction formation to all matters anal,

         the stranger the other as feces, as dirt; the exterminator vo-

         cabulary  of the unloosed self-justifying death instinct whose

         only  pride  seems  to  consist  that  it  doesnt shit in its

         pants.  -  Closed  to  the West, and to the "moronic" and "fat

         Austria,"  but open to a federated Yugoslavia. - Handke, whose

         ego  and  whose sensitivities require him to live anything but

         modestly, longs for the grainy, honest time that the lean car-

         penter  crew in Carinthia pretty much lived in the kind of po-

         verty  that  made them cook in the pot they pissed in the nite

         before  {17},  you  wouldnt  know it by his tastes which once

         again  proves  that  matters are not always as simple as that.

         Indeed,  its  a  question of profound physical aversions. Any

         modern  highrise  is fled like a "suicide building" - and its

         not  a  case of fear of heights for the once inhabitant of the

         Moenchsberg  and  other older many-storied buildings with fine

         views  -  ["the  threat of suicide, the story of my life" used

         to  be  a  Handke refrain]. - Handke likes well-prepared first

         rate  peasant  food,  thus his eyes seize on that turkey-sized

         farmfed  broiler  at his friends mothers house in Serbia! He

         prefers  the  local wines to flat Frascati and comments on it.

         And  I  realize  it  takes a consi-derable act of the empathic

         imagination  to  comprehend  why  millions upon millions mean-

         while  are  so  addicted  to the chemically in every way manu-

         factured  that  their taste buds will eventually be called re-

         actionary for adhering to what bears if any resemblance to


                                 Handkes    Slavic   Connection   [15]


         anything  natural only to some oil-slick-iridescent, poisonous

         beetle  as  it  ruins  their  complexions. ["Degustibus dispu-

         tandum est," has always been my favorite Adorno apercu.

             Handkes  preferred  ethnic Slovenian identity or Handkes

         identification  with  his  suffering  Austro-Slovenian mother,

         that  as yet unbroken [or rekindled] symbiosis - its funny to

         get  to  know  your analytic shit and then read Tilman Mosers

         "Novels   as   Case   Studies"   [as   the  German  Romane  as

         Krankheitsgeschichten  can  be  translated-  {18],  ending his

         piece  on  Handkes  Sorrow Beyond Dreams by stating that "the

         author  cannot  be  certified to have achieved objectification

         of  his  relationship  with his mother," at which point I want

         to  take "objectivity" and punt it the length of the scrim! Is

         he  meant to become a Plains Indian, tie leather thongs to his

         chest  and during the separation dance tear them not just sym-

         bolically but bloodily out of his chest?] - Slovenia is synon-

         ymous  with Handkes mother, it is the fatherlandless writers

         magic  motherland.  And  though  Handke  says  in  Part One of

         Justice,  seeking  to shortcut any objections that he might be

         unduly  predisposed  to  matters Slavic ["Anyone thinking that

         my  reasons might have to do with being Slavophile should step

         reading   right   now."]  he  would,  I  think,  be  perfectly

         justified  in  availing  himself  of  the  same leeway that he

         grants  others to be parti pris, and so would not run afoul of

         any  claims  to  having  an  "open mind" and using "reason" in

         every    instance   of   these   two   essays.   -   More   re

         "identification" anon.

             In  Handkes The Repetition [1986-{19] the father [the ex-

         cept  literary  fatherless Handkes model is his grand-father]

         is  Slovenian  and  not  German  [as compared to Sorrow Beyond

         Dreams-1971],  but  the  originally Carinthio-Slovenian mother

         becomes  a  German; and Handke has attested this strenuous in-

         version  and  the need to learn Slovenian helped him retrieve!


         his  mother;and not so incidentally, redeem his hated fathers

         tongue;  no  doubt also because it was now his grandfathers -

         in  fact,  the  author, also in the act of writing, became his

         own  Shaman  and  saved himself the time and effort of finding

         an  object-relationist  analyst of his caliber to perform this

         transformation!  -  What was and what is still left for him to

         do  is  with  what happens once the transformation is achieved

         and his mastering of these internal conflicts gives him a dan-

         gerously swollen head.

             The  Repetition  is also the enactment, is the fulfillment

         of  Handkes  yearning,  chaste,  Oedipal-protective formative

         dream  at age 12 of becoming his mothers dead brother, a stu-

         dent  of  horticulture  in Slovenia prior to WW II, whose war-

         time  letters as a Third Reich conscript became a Suitz family

         heirloom.  Repetition  -  the German Wiederholung implies ret-

         rieval,  and  second  time around - is that most delicate, vi-

         brant  and  strong  Vermeer-like  Odyssey  of a young Parcival

         through  the Dolminen-rich Karst border-land between Carinthia

         and Slovenia - I indicated matters would become complicated.

         But  once  you  have  fruitfully compared Sorrow Beyond Dreams

         and  The  Repetition  and  absorbed the stupendous change that

         Handke  underwent  between 1971 and 1986, you may begin to ap-

         preciate  the importance, the physical depth of Handkes rela-

         tionship to his Slavic/ Slovenian heritage.

             The  dream-yearned-for  Gregor  - the dream noted in great

         detail  in  a letter to his mother exists - already figures as

         one  of  the  two "dead brothers" in Handkes first novel, the

         as  yet  untranslated  into English [but into French] Die Hor-

         nissen  [The Hornets-1965] which Handke wrote at age 23 on the

         Yugoslav  now Croatian island Krk. In the collection of inter-

         views that constitute Once More About the Ninth Land, the

                                 Handkes Slavic Connection [17]



         sequel  to Ninth Land, we find out that learning Slovenian - a

         five  year process preparatory to writing The Repetition, also

         so  as  to be able to translate from it into German - not only

         redeemed  language  as  such  but especially German, his hated

         stepfathers  and  condescended-to  German fathers tongue for

         him.  Who  among contemporary writers has taken these kinds of

         troubles?  And if you havent noticed how physical language is

         to  Handke you cant possibly want to read my commentaries. It

         is  like breathing to him, its either breathing the air of the

         Ruhr  or  the Adria in other words! And recall how this writer

         of  the  brilliant early texts, nonetheless expressed "nausea"

         at  language  once  upon  a  time,  which puzzled me, the then

         translator  of  his  plays, until well into the necessary puz-

         zling that is producing my book Reading Handke and its psycho-

         linguistic  aspects.  After  all, he is one of the few writers

         at  whose  heart  and lungs the word still can become flesh! -

         So  Slovenia  is as balm to him. We all, you and I are in debt

         to  Slovenia! What if his exquisitely beautiful mother had - I

         dont  know - spoken like Franz Xaver Kroetzs broken language

         creatures?  Had  had  the  face  of  Albert Collins? No wonder

         Handke  loves  the Romanesque so much, derives such sustenance

         from  it,  and  not crushed auto-mobiles. {20} Whereas he men-

         tions  that  upon  returning from Berlin in 1946, at age four,

         he  had  had  an  aversion  to  learning  Slovenian in the bi-

         lingual  education  classes at the local schools, or the lingo

         spoken  by  the  majority minority of Austro-Slovenians in the

         province  of  Carinthia,  this  aversion being one of the very

         few he has mean-while overcome. Handke has also translated se-

         veral  wonderful  writers  from the Slovenian which, best as I

         can  tell, is a Slavic tongue that has undergone some nice hy-

         bridization  with  and  modulation by Latin and so doesnt KrK

         quite  as  much  as the Republic of Srsbska. What is also irk-

         some  to him, and I entirely share this feeling, is Slovenias


         now  demarcation  from  Byzantium and Greece, and perhaps from

         its  Mongolian  heritage,  too, if you look at the physiognomy

         of  Handkes  much  photographed cover-boy face at certain Far

         Eastern  moments: Atilla has left his imprint there as well. I

         even  have  this  wild  hunch  that  his mothers brother, his

         uncle  Gregor,  this dream-yearned, chaste, oedipal-protective

         identity  and  so much written about alter-ego [in The Hornets

         and  The  Repetition] may have been killed by the Croats, per-

         haps  both  of  the World War II victim brother soldiers were,

         or  that  Handke  thinks this is what happened! His hatred for

         anything  having  to  do  with WW II Third Reich fascism is as

         raw  as  is  mine:  except  that Handke seems to be refighting

         those  battles,  and on the side it appears to me of a Serbian

         people  who  are  occupied,  if  not  by  the Germans, then by

         shame,  and  which  state of being occupied elicits in him the

         kind  of utterly stubborn resistance that indeed stands you in

         excellent  stead  under  actual  circumstances;  his anger and

         hatred  of  the  U.N. force, of photo reportage of any kind is

         on  the level of that one can presume to have been felt by the

         Serbians  during  World  War  II,  and  is of a piece with his

         defense of "The Village" in Walks About the Villages


         He  does  not  recognize either himself or the people he knows

         in  these  reports,  and  the  "mere mention" in this instance

         makes no one happy.



                                 Handkes Slavic Connection [19]




         If  you  take the trouble to check the reasons Handke gives in

         Part  One  of Justice for Serbia for the impetus that made him

         want   to  travel  to  the  one  part  of  Yugoslavia  he  was

         physically  least familiar with [its history and literature he

         appears  to  know  extensively],  it  is good to remember that

         that  impetus,  too,  goes  back  to 1992 at least. Even then,

         with  "no  one  knowing what to do" [and this presumptuous "no

         one"  for  once  included the politicians not merely the would

         be  swordsmen of the word] Handke realized he would have to go

         there,  making  the Faulkner-Fable suggestion that 100 million

         Europeans  might  simply  travel  to  Yugoslavia  to  just sit

         around  and  listen, "interpose" themselves I suppose; though,

         at  that  time,  he  seemed  to  agree  with his interviewers

         feeling  that  perhaps  Hans Magnus Enzensberger, writing from

         Uganda,  had it right that the killing would not end until the

         warring   parties  had  worn  each  other  out;  the  kind  of

         assessment  that  may  be  fine  for two equally weighted Sumo

         wrestlers,  but  ludicrously  not  so  for  a  hodge-podge  of

         genocidal  tribes  in  full  froth  who  are not fighting with

         sticks  and  stones  or  scythes and cudgels. - Enzensbergers

         suggestions  bears unpleasant resemblance to my favorite Nobel

         peace  prize winner Hennery of Wurzburgs statement: "Let them

         kill each other."

             I  can  find no quarrel with Handkes, this hater of news-

         papers  {2},  initial  assessment  of the untrustworthyness of

         the  parti-pris  witch-hunting  pseudo-objective  press - Yes,

         when  was  it  that you partook of an event that you saw later

         described  in  a newspaper or newscast and with whose descrip-

         tion  you  could agree? Only the simplest of events - which is

         why  all  you  see  on  the local news are the God of Goodwill

         Industries  Search  and  Rescue  operations as another billion

         under-used    brain    cells    go    poof    with    boredom!              


             Handke  does  not merely take general exception to the co-

         verage  that  the  Serbian  Slavs have received, but very spe-

         cific  instances get his specific goat: [1] particular umbrage

         is  taken  to  Le  Monde, and an instance of legal-beagle pet-

         tiness  there  about  Kusturicas film Underground; and to the

         cafe  pret-a-porter nouveau philosophes; [2] an editorial wri-

         ter  of the hated Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, who he gues-

         ses  to be part of some displaced German minority from Serbia,

         strikes  him as hysterically anti-Serbian, he gets back to the

         F.A.Z.  once  more at the end of Justice and really rubs it in

         to  make  sure the provocation sticks. Chris Hedges of the New

         York  Times  gets  knifed in  Summer Sequel, but either I read

         him  and his surrogates reports [my old acquaintance, once of

         the  Soho Weekly News, the Australian Jane Perlez] more imagi-

         natively  at  this  point,  yet  it  strikes  me as though Mr.

         Hedges  coverage  became  more differentiated. Especially ob-

         scure  to  a  non-German  reader  will be the exception Handke

         takes  to  something  the German novelist and journalist Peter

         Schneider  wrote,  at which point oh so unfortunately, in this

         kind  of  writerly-translaterly  grueblerisch  minutiae obscu-

         rantist  fact finding and fishing Handke is lambasting without

         even  quoting, and his envy of the prominent coverage that the

         various  uninvited busy-body surrogate sufferers who put them-

         selves  on  the cross of their empathy in Sarajevo are receiv-

         ing is showing through: Peter Schneider, who spent time in Sa-

         rajevo,  got his German piece published in Liberacion even be-

         fore  it  came  out in German! and then you know that you have

         entered  the  realm  of bad blood between writers and of envy,

         {22}  and the yen to pick a fight at any cost! Of course, yes,

         why  didnt  he  gang  of intellectuals few of whom if any had

         either relationship to or prior knowledge of these matters


                                 Handkes    Slavic   Connection   [21]


         consult with someone as expert and with such close ties to Yu-

         goslavia  as  Handke?  No doubt all kinds of parochial German-

         Austro-Left bad blood has not been screened out here. The one-

         note-pony  lambasting  of  the media persists in Summer Sequel

         [after  the  six  months  controversy engendered by the publi-

         cation  of  Justice  for  Serbia] and becomes totally self-de-

         feating:  you get the sense that in that respect Handke is out

         of control, hes sputtering: any paper, any TV station and ca-

         mera,  the U.N. troops, and Handke will yap like... "a Bosnian

         cur!"  as  the  Bosnians appear nastily in Summer Sequel. Its

         nitty-gritty  German  and  European curs nipping at each other

         time  of  the  worst  kind. And I end up cheering for the U.N.

         and  Mr.  Holbrooke  and yet another half-assed [a la bussing,

         affirmative  action, etc.] typically American solution! By and

         large  it  is  a  very  odd  way for the Prince of Peace which

         Handke  so  frequently quite genuinely would like and tries to

         be, to proceed.

             Handke  later revealed that he even made it a point to ex-

         pose  himself  as  little  as  possible to further information

         once  he went on his trip and started to write his piece - and

         as  we  read it we conclude that he didnt need to: Handke, if

         one  goes  back  to  that  point in time and looks at his deep

         life-long  acquaintance  with  matters Yugoslavian and what he

         had  written,  especially  about  his motherland Slovenia, was

         sufficiently  informed  to make the cool-headed judgement that

         the  media-generated  demonizing  of  the  Serbs was what? Yet

         another  instance  of  demonizing on the part of age-old rumor

         mill;  and  so  it  is no doubt wonderful that these two texts

         and  the  many-citied  tour  during which Handke read them and

         got  to  display himself in what he considered a just cause to

         a  cast  of thousands - the naked ego exhibition W.O.W. [1976-

         {23]  notes  that  someone such as himself ought really be the

         founder  of a religion with the requisite followers - led to a


         less  one-sided  presentation of matters Serbian, led to a de-

         demonizing  of  a  group  of  people, a cultural tribe [a his-

         torically  tolerant  one!  according to Handke! who in his at-

         tempt  to  redress  the  balance sometimes sounds like a blurb

         writer]  a demonizing which no one in his right mind - yes, if

         your  scattered  mind were not like that sponge that cant de-

         fend  itself against the news detritus - would have let anyone

         demonize  for  them  in  the first place: but did that require

         such  a funny way of going about it? Possiblemente. And on the

         part  of someone who studied law.{24} Handke mutters and quib-

         bles  on  and  on  about who cast the first stone, and Justice

         for  Serbia  and  Summer Sequel, it is really one document, is

         not  a  reasoned  brief in any sense. You might want Handke as

         your  supporter,  but  not as your lawyer in any English lang-

         uage  court; Or any other for that matter, tribal, common law,

         you  name  it. One way of establishing differences in this re-

         gard  might  be  to  consider how Ronald Dworkin, or a Juergen

         Habermas  might  argue  matters  of  this  kind.  Or read what

         excellent  books  some  reporters  produced once they were not

         faced  by  their  daily  deadlines  - Roy Gutman, David Rieff,

         Laura  Silber,  Misha  Glenny  or  Chuck  Sudetic; David Igna-

         tieffs  pieces  in the New York Review. Why bother to quibble

         about  that  aberrational  Russian W.H. Auden Joseph Brodskys

         piece  in  the  New  York Times Sunday Magazine? Its all very

         odd  -  except  that  if you so quibble you better get matters

         right, and achieve the best possible differentiations.

             Handke  actually  has  a  good  sense  of what occurs in a

         power  vacuum  when  a number of provincial war lords begin to

         assert  themselves,  though  he puts little of this in the ab-

         stract  terms of political philosophy, and by and large is the

         better and more concrete and differentiated off for it. He


                                 Handkes    Slavic   Connection   [23]

         also  senses  that other than purely internal Yugoslav factors

         played into its disintegration, though again he does not arti-

         culate  this  sense in the terms of an analysis of "hard" fis-

         cal  and  power-political  interests.  But  none  of that, nor

         Handke,  explains  why the warlords displaced the peace lords:

         the  craze for a communal identity - within an over all disin-

         tegration  -  is simply taken for granted {25}. Handke, though

         judging  by Part I of Justice for Serbia, seems to want to set

         the  record  straight,  and so ought to have taken the trouble

         to  find out who cast the first stone, and not leave it at the

         very  interesting  speculation why it is that the first photo-

         op to be spread worldwide was that of 70 Serbian soldiers mas-

         sacred  by  a  rag-tag band of Slovenian beer-bellies in 1991!

         Who  failed  to  turn the other cheek - this noodling over who

         did  what  to  whom  or who first provoked whom seems to be of

         some  huge importance to someone who is very much of a village

         person  from a blood feud village culture, a person of the law

         of  talion.  To  discover the reasons why the Serbs were being

         excessively  blamed,  why  there  was  a  Serb  hunt on in the

         press,  for  that  a  piece of cool-headed media and political

         analysis  would suffice, and Handke sort of provides it in his

         way  in  Part I. In 1992 Handke seemed to agree that Milosevic

         and  what Justice calls "Yugoslav Tank Communism" is to blame.

         {21}.  Why  Milosevic  won out over the forces that might have

         restrained him within Serbia is not a question that Handke ad-

         dresses  - Justice contains some intimations to that effect in

         these  hugely  laconic  non-reports of the conversations about

         the  unspeakable, but intimations of that kind scarcely do the

         trick  once  you  start  out  on  the  path  of niggling about


             In  the  instance  of  the Bosnian Muslims, an analysis of

         their  public relations machinery has meanwhile been provided,

         but  not by Peter Handke; and to figure out each elastic, cor-

         rupt,   fluid,  bedbug-Byzantine-Balkan  dukedoms  individual


         propaganda  and  public  relations  machine  even years of the

         kind  of "hanging out" that Handke wanted to do and did do for

         far  too  short  a  while, and did valuably so, would not suf-


             The  most  interesting part of Part One is Handkes check-

         ing  within  himself  his responses to the fragementariness of

         news  [p.32-3  German  edition], as he Peter Handke has to as-

         sess it; that is exceptional:






                  Handkes         Slavic        Connection        [25]

             III: Handke "In Place"


         Justice  for Serbia and its Summer Sequel at their most inter-

         esting,  valid, and lasting are a very great and unique writer

         giving  us  a  feel  -  it is a time-capsule feel of late fall

         1995  to  Summer 1996 corresponding to one major stated reason

         for  his trip - of some weeks spent in and around Belgrad, the

         town  of Bajnia Basta, which is revisited in the summer, as is

         Srebrenice  when  Handke  and his companions finally have per-

         mission  to  enter  Srbska. Contrary to the leavings that this

         Handke controversy has deposited in the German press, the Ser-

         bia  that  Handke  visits and reports from is not some eternal

         Serbia,  it  is very much a Serbia of that time and place, and

         to  say  so indicates that no one knows how to read nuances of

         the  simplest  kind,  or  havent read the pieces in the first

         place,  know  it only as cafe-klatsch, and perhaps hate Handke

         anyhow.  No, Handke describes an inward-turned, shamed, embar-

         goed,  impoverished  Serbia  where the occasional turkey-sized

         range-fed  fryer then sticks out like an immediately memorable

         healthy  thumb  - your stomach has over-cathected your memory.

         "The  trouble  with poets becoming war reporters," etc. No, as

         a  rural  flaneurs couple of weeks in whats left in the Ser-

         bian  part  of the former Yugoslavia and a few days in the Re-

         public of Sprska this will a be touchstone for the feel of or-

         dinary  life  there  at  that time... and to how Handke inter-

         nalized  and  then  exteriorized the experience given the hor-

         rendous  quandary  that  this  kind  of  event creates for the

         conscience  of  this  singular human being, who drags all that

         volatile  history  around  within himself, and who at the very

         least  would like to absolve the Serbian people - the ordinary

         folk  -  forget  about  those warlords - from the simply unac-

         ceptable  charge  of  being  genocidal maniacs [Handke doesnt

         want  to  know  or  doesnt  seem to know of trained execution

         squads].  Equally  unacceptable  to  Handke  is  Ivo  Andrics


         notion that every couple of centuries it comes upon the South-

         ern  Slavs  to beat up on each other - there always are enough

         "reasons"  to  go around to take the heavenly [and in Handkes

         case,  epic]  curse  against existence out on those closest to

         you,  your  brotherly  neighbors.  Psychoanalytic  and  socio-

         logical  probings  of the chemistry and structure of the death

         instinct  meanwhile  are  far superior to such literary expla-

         natory dabblings.

             Upon  Handkes second trip, six months later, which is ac-

         counted  for  in  Summer  Sequel,  the  gas  stations have gas

         again,  the  precious fluid smuggled in from Rumania [the sub-

         ject  of  arms smuggling is not addressed] is no longer poured

         out  of  any  old small container, as Handke prefers in appre-

         ciation  of the preciousness of this earthly resource, the em-

         bargo  has ended, the barge traffic on the Danube has resumed;

         and  with respect to giving me the feel and sense of a place I

         utterly  trust  Handke,  and  I trust him, say, because I once

         spent  nine months along the Yukon, and the opening chapter of

         A  Slow  Homecoming  [1978]  brought back that experience with

         such  conviction that I would trust him, any good novelist for

         that  matter  over  any reporter any day, Norman Mailer on the

         flowers  in the Brooks Range in Why Are We in Vietnam is a far

         more  unlikely  commemorator of nature, to give me the feel of

         a  country-side  or  a quartier; after what, three or four vi-

         sits  of a few weeks duration and we have one of the most ama-

         zing  chapters  in one of the most amazingly loving books that

         anyone has written in the past fifty years.

             The  trouble  with  the two Serbia pieces and where Handke

         leaves  himself  wide  open is that Part I leads the reader to

         believe  that Handke will somehow set the record straight that

         he so strenuously doubts - and wants the reader to doubt; he


                                 Handkes    Slavic   Connection   [27]


         will  be  a  better war reporter than those that knee-jerk for

         whatever  media  mogul  or conglomerates party line that feed

         into  the baby birds expectant indifferently voracious hunger

         for  "the  same  yet always different" news, that collusion in

         the  massive news cycle that lives off the archaic, insatiable

         unreason  at  the  heart of curiosity; he will go to Dubrovnik

         [a  Croatian town and stretch of coastline he knows perhaps as

         well  as Slovenia] which, he insinuates, merely received "col-

         lateral  damage" [no Serbian could actually shell such a trea-

         sure  with  sadism  aforethought!] and he will walk around and

         get  the  record straight. The one war crime he casts no doubt

         on is the Sarajevo encirclement, nay he seems to have empathi-

         cally  participated  in it, but inveterate - justifiably self-

         enamored  or  unnecessarily  self-aggressive  &  pathetically,

         pleadingly  assertive  &  envious or any combination thereof -

         grand  and petty exhibitionist that he is {26} seems to regret

         that  he  couldnt  show himself there? During the second trip

         he  and  his  two  sidemen do go to Srebrenice and he will not

         just  cast  doubt  -  in as much as Handkes media gunning be-

         comes  wearisomely  self-defeating  it  is  his  doubting, in-

         sistent,  obsessive  that  really  catches  the  attention  of

         someone who is analytically versed.

             One reason that he casts such doubt is because his Serbs -

         the  Serbs,  his  beloved  Serbs, they and the Slovenes always

         used  to  get  along is a refrain also in the interviews going

         back  to  1992,  those freedom fighters of World War II, those

         Indians  in  the  mountains, which final image from the end of

         Summer  Sequel I must say really did a wonderful job of riling

         his  opponents!  - doing anything as dreadful as that, even if

         one  or  the  other  of their leaders are evil: we can see his

         very  aversion to the idea of their doing anything like it. It

         seems  it  would be as though he himself had done something of

         the  kind:  and  aside  all  the above-enumerated labyrinth of

         historical  and personal reasons why this thought is so appal-

         ling  to Handke, there is his writers "Innerworld-Outerworld-

         Innerworld"  relationship  with  the world-word as a text that

         is  created  synchronously as he writes, especially as he des-

         cribes  nature.  The very adhesiveness of Handkes identity as

         a  writer,  which  stands  him in such unique stead as an epic

         poet,  militates  against  him in an instance where he engages

         in  an  event that puts his personal identity to a kind of ul-

         timate  test.  Writing for Handke is a psychosomatic activity,

         that  is  what the word becoming flesh means, and he is one of

         the  few  writers  around  where  this difficult alphabetizing

         articulation  really occurs. Perhaps that telegram, even if it

         comes  a  second  time  around, will make it a bit clearer why

         matters  run  the  way they do here. Maybe H. should have gone

         to  Uganda  and  spent  time  among  the  Hutsies and Tutsies.

         Enzensberger  might  have  gone  to Serbia; Enzensberger could

         have  been  trusted to sort out the variety of the nasty bugs,

         whether  he  would  have  put  himself  out  to  alleviate the

         generalized  anti-Serbian  sentiment? Probably so, considering

         how dispassionate he can still be.

             I  recall Handkes reactions to being asked about the mur-

         der  that  his  alter-ego  Loser  commits  in  the  1983 novel

         Across,  commits  so  grandly,  as  Handke would also like his

         rage  to  be  grand  and sacred, though frequently - and here,

         too  -  it merely comes across as petty . Loser flings a Cain-

         like  stone  at the Swastika-daubing old Nazi, the kind of act

         that  will  then gain an Austrian the kind of approbation from

         People  Magazine  that the formula for writing successful Aus-

         trian  novels  for American consumption might be to kill a do-

         zen  old  Nazis!;  reviews  which  entirely  missed the excru-

         ciating  agenbite  of  inwit  that Loser consequently suffers:

         "Close your eyes" [!!!] is the novels amazing and ambiguous


                                    Handkes   Slavic  Connection  [29]


         opening  line  - then undergoes for the so committed murder. -

         Handke  was appalled at the suggestion that in that "act" in a

         novel  he might have committed patricide. Perhaps he is so ap-

         palled  because the father inside him is his grandfather, {27}

         I  dont  know;  certainly if there is a record of unmitigated

         hatred  of  a step-father, Handkes of his is unrivalled in my

         memory  of  the  like.  And  Across  in every other respect is

         strictly  autobiographical.  No:  Serbians  doing  things like

         that  doesnt  fit in with Handkes hypersensitive self-image,

         and  touchiness isnt the word for someone who longs so deeply

         for  harmony and for something clean, one drop of water on the

         sensitive  hair  of your standard Western cat approximates his

         ultra  sensitivity. - Now if Germans had started and were per-

         petuating  the  genocide,  you could be sure that Handke would

         believe  every  word  about every dastardly act in every news-

         cast!  {28}  Here  we  see  him  struggling, denying, cursing,

         spitting, nearly foaming at the mouth at the horrendous reali-

         ty,  especially  of  Srebrenice. And so it is quite something,

         at  the  end  of  Summer  Sequel, to come on a young Lear-like

         Serb  carrying  on  about "I never was a Serb, I never want to

         have  been  a Serb." It goes on for about a page, and you won-

         der:  did  Handke, that hard-working genius, that most avid of

         note-book  and diary keepers and dictionary preparers to learn

         new  languages [who in the instances of these two books claims

         to  have  made no notes but to be writing strictly from what I

         know,  not  only  amusingly, to be a conveniently fallible me-

         mory]  and  who  claims to have poor purchase on spoken Serbo-

         Croat,  recall  this  monologue  at his desk back in his grand

         house  in  the  suburban Paris Chaville in the Summer of 1996,

         or  have  we  entered  the world of highly theatrical fiction?

         [And  I  am  aware  that Handkes memory of every day during a

         trip  is near perfect whereas, like most folks, he has a tough

         time  keeping  the  events of one sedentary day apart from the


         other].  Is  that young Serb for real [real? where?], or is he

         merely  [merely?]  expressing Handkes utter horror at the ex-

         perience  of  finally  being  in  what  from  his  description

         strikes  one  as  the  town of horrors, Srebrenice [silver spa

         town  once].  And  once you ask the text that question you the

         somewhat  familiar  Handke  reader  -  who recalls how the re-

         jected,  gossiped-about  writer  in the Salzburg of the After-

         noon  of a Writer projects himself into the wounded, banged-up

         woman  tossed into the bushes - that you have entered the dis-

         sociated   world  of  Handkes  theatrical  projective  dream-

         writing,  the return of poetic realism in the age of film, and

         the  most  superior  form  of objective intimate communication

         presently  available in art. - I think in the instance of that

         wandering,  mad-with-sorrow young Srbskran Serb the theatrical

         self-dramatist  takes  over,  and  once you [I] begin to doubt

         Handkes  so convincing representation: a more terrible moment

         it  is  than  if it had "really" happened; for imagine Handke,

         the  occasionally autistic, and psychosomatically color-blind,

         who  once  lost  the  ability to write for one whole year, lo-

         sing...  the  heart of his hard-earned gentle Slovenian-Slavic

         mothers  brothers identity. What a disintegration that would

         be,  worse than that of Yugoslavia as a whole? After all: what

         good  if  any  ever came of the Anschluss except a German sol-

         diers  fathering  Peter Handke when stationed in Carinthia in

         1941!  Anyhow,  I think I am sorting it out a little. No: more

         than a little. Completely - of course not.

             During  his Summer Sequel visit, a number of folks in Ban-

         ja  Basta  take  one or the other humorous or not so exception

         to  this  or that representation they received in Justice, and

         I  at  least  understand  this to be Handkes response, during

         the writing of the Summer Sequel, to the assault that the


                                 Handkes    Slavic   Connection   [31]


         media  launched  on him upon publication of Justice: the minor

         faults  that  the  Banja  Bastans  find  matter  far more than

         anything  in  the  papers; getting those village details right

         is  what  matters  to  me  is what he seems to be saying - now

         this  is  a  far  lighter touch of hoeing to your line and re-

         maining  undeterred than the lambastations, and acknowledging,

         well  yes,  perhaps  I got on or the other thing wrong! It was

         war,"  says  a barkeep whose name is on the De Haag list whose

         restaurant  Handke and his two friends visit in Srebrenice. Is

         that  fiction,  too?  Is the purpose of these two books to ab-

         solve  the  Serbs if in fact their however dictatorial leader-

         ship  is  predominantly  more  guilty  than  the  other ethnic

         groups,  if they had the more efficient, violent leaders, bet-

         ter  and  more  arms?  The final note of Justice for Serbia is

         H.s  skipping  an angry stone across the river Drina; that of

         Summer  Sequel  of him and his two Serbian friends cursing ob-

         scenely  -  at the horror they have seen in Srebrenice and its

         surround.  Well, yes, who in fact wasnt made nauseous? Thats

         the  easy  thing  to  be, as it were. But that, ultimately, is

         all  that Handke, wrestling with the indigestible, can come up

         with.  Still  he  cant go by himself as he indicated he would

         at  the  end of Justice. Anyhow no wife this time around. Why?

         Because  his  psycho-somatic  heart-problems  {29}  make him a

         more  tentative  walker  than  he  used  to be, or the preter-

         natural  cowardice  even  of barking dogs [the fear of his own

         violence?]  make  him  something  less than your preferred war

         zone  reporter? Nonetheless, in this instance we cannot charge

         Handke  with  total  presumptuousness,  arrogance, or ignorant

         stupidity  and  his  once  customary  "everyone is too stupid"

         part  of  the equation of his psychological catastrophe - say,

         his noting of the untranslatable gentleness of Slovenian [con-

         template  the  meaning of that dear reader] sticks in my over-

         whelmed  memory  first  of all, and you may have an inkling of


         the  contradictions  he  became  involved  in - this is an in-

         stance  among his interventions where Handke absolutely needed

         to  intervene.  After all: hadnt I witnessed his first inter-

         vention  in a large public forum at Princeton in 1966 - and as

         you  delved  into his past you found out that he has spoken up

         for  what  he felt was justice, say for language, already much

         earlier,  in  his school days? Theres his fine piece on Wald-

         heim  and a generous suggestion how that man might, might have

         made  some  amends.  {30} Or can we so charge him? Anyhow, not

         as  convincingly  as  in  the  instance of his relationship to

         psychoanalysis  [Excursus # 4 of Reading Handke]. What the two

         pieces  lack,  surprisingly  so  in light of Handkes profound

         wishes  for peace, are signs of his capacity as a conciliator.

         Much  as I endorse the tactic of provoking, these pieces bring

         no  one together, neither the fragmented Yugos, nor the saber-

         toothed  warriors  of the word. And so the brouhaha that Hand-

         kes  pieces  and his reading tour triggered in the newspapers

         and  in  some  circles  is instructive if of anything that yet

         with  all the technology of communication at their command the

         various,  especially  German  parties,  ultimately  did little

         more  than  display  their peacock feathers and toss horse ma-

         nure  and sometimes sharper and nastier objects displaced into

         words  and  sentences  at each other in those particular paro-

         chial  quarters; a vying of egos, where, ultimately, those who

         know  of  Handkes  greatness as an artist quickly forgave him

         for  his  maladroitness  and the weaknesses that the overtaxed

         traumatized human monkey psyche is heir to - are far more for-

         giving  than  Mr.  Handke is, say, of Der Spiegel [to which he

         has  been  a  contributor], in his invective-larded prose. The

         intellectuals  whose unexceptionable reason he antagonized to-

         tally forget his previous work - what I liked best was


                                 Handkes    Slavic   Connection   [33]


         someone  asking his publisher Siegfried Unseld of the Suhrkamp

         Verlag  of  George  Steiners  vaunted  Suhrkamp Kultur how he

         could  go  on  publishing  Handke  "after this," entirely for-

         getting  the three dozen Handke books he had successfully pub-

         lished in multiple editions and several dozen languages as on-

         ly  Suhrkamp has known how to during a 30 year period. Michael

         Naumann  whom  I  approached  about my Handke project at Henry

         Holt,  before he became the Minister of Culture of the Schroe-

         der  government, as a publisher, begged off having anything to

         do  with  Handke,  either as author or subject of a book after

         this Serbian episode.

             Best  as  I  can tell, Handkes intervention, yet two fur-

         ther  syntactically magnificent texts when he confines himself

         to his kind of interiorizing-exteriorizing internalizable des-

         criptive   making-present,  two  great  amazingly  and  fasci-

         natingly  flawed documents, testify to the authenticity of his

         pain  and sorrow, AND his nastiness AND pettiness, AND his now

         well-honed  ability to be provocative, and his "sacred rage" -

         but  most interestingly for me, his distant analytic observer,

         also  of the most extraordinary obdurate doubting RESISTANCES,

         obdurate  to  the point of obsessiveness - the first time Ive

         ever  seen  Handke  operate in this fashion in 30 some years -

         to  try  to quibble, disacknowledge certain matters away which

         are  just  simply  too  unacceptable to someone who is as phy-

         sically  Serbian-Slovenian  Slavic  as is Handke? - The inces-

         sant  doubting  is the worst feature of the book [as a symptom

         it is a magnificently pure instance of being defensive-aggres-

         sive],  a  terrible  way  for a defense lawyer to proceed, and

         Handke  is  proud  of  his years in law school, and had he had

         not  had  quick  success  as a writer might have had no choice

         but to try to be one of those highly intelligent Austrian cul-

         tural  attaches as one encounters them all over the world [one

         of  his  alter  egos  Keuschnig  in  Moment  of  True  Feeling


         Feeling,  1974,  who  reappears in Nomansbay, 1993]. The doub-

         ting  as method persists in the Summer Sequel, as does the in-

         cessant  gunning  for what any reporter has ever written about

         the  Serbs  - only he Handke, perhaps sitting in Srebenice for

         some  months or years on end might get the sense of what real-

         ly  happened  -  and I, as analyst and listener in a different

         village  where  not  long ago I sat and walked its mucho pulvo

         paths  for  three  years  until I knew pretty much where every

         corpse  was  buried,  could  not agree more with the listening

         and  sitting.  Handkes tendentious doubting is that strongest

         of  resistances  that you encounter in an analysis. Hamlet the

         doubter,  the  more  he doubts the stronger the terrible truth

         gnaws  at  him  the  more powerfully he will doubt. I take the

         doubting  to  be  heartfelt, inescapable, though there is also

         method  to  the nasty madness. When Handke mumbles hortatorily

         about  an  open  mind, about enlightenment, unfortunately with

         respect  to  enlightenment or an open mind all he does is mum-

         ble.  This is no longer the Handke whom "wanting to know" made

         "hot"  when  he  wrote his wonderful first novel Die Hornissen

         [The  Hornets]  on the island of Krk in 1965 {31}. The wrench-

         ing  from  one parti-pris to the other does not represent some

         suspension  of  judgment until a sufficiency of evidence is at

         hand;  I  am  reminded  of  how  Handke  disavowed his friends

         criticism  of  his child-rearing practices in A Childs Story:

         "But  he  thought  otherwise."  And  disapproved  of  the "dog

         language"  of  therapy.  Theres  a  grand old Slavic dictator

         with a "No-Mans-Bay" all to himself there outside Paris.

             The  denouement  of  Summer Sequel, the sections gradually

         become  briefer, resembles the ending of Sorrow Beyond Dreams,

         have  the same mourning feel to them, are prefaced by the kind

         of semi-Socratic queries to which he treated us as a way of

                                 Handkes    Slavic   Connection   [35]


         inquiring  in  his  Essay  on  Tiredness, where all unpleasant

         forms of tiredness are symptoms of individual depression, con-

         fusion  and  anger,  no  matter  how justified you might judge

         them  to be, including a deja connu of a primal scene; and all

         good  forms  of tiredness derive from either communal or indi-

         vidual  hard  work  down to the last tired sliver of a bone of

         every sinew. {32}

             In  Felsfenster [the 1998 publication of excerpts from his

         1982-1987  diaries]  Handke  notes  that ever since the publi-

         cation  of  the  title  text  of  the three texts published in

         English  summarily  under  the  name  A Slow Homecoming he has

         become  "an untouchable" [in Germany] and now must feel, well,

         I  cant  imagine  what  it might feel like to write something

         that  wonderful  and  have heartless petty reason peck at you,

         not  that  Handke  the  mythic  is  open  to a generous under-

         standing  of  enlightenment, and now to be an untouchable out-

         cast  to  that  predictable  caste  -  "One  things for sure,

         everything  will  be  different  from  now  on" he has another

         alter-ego observe in Summer Sequel.

             Whatever  the  aftermath  of the notorious Handkes latest

         notorious  act,  the  works announced in No-Mans-Bay and then

         published  within  the  past two years, whose completion seems

         to  have been interrupted for the writing of the Justice texts

         and  their  readings all over Europe, bear no trace of the de-

         bacle,  just  as  Nomansbay - except for that futuristic gene-

         rational  wish that I cited, bears no indication of the impen-

         ding  trip to Serbia and the interventions: there is the beau-

         tiful  quiet  novel In Einer Dunklen Nacht Ging Ich aus Meinem

         Stillen  Haus  [1997]  which  is  on the artistic order of the

         fable  Absence;  and  there is the alter-ego play Zuruestungen

         zur  Unsterblichkeit [Preparations for Immortality]. The "enc-

         lave"  theme  that these two works share, Handkes exploration

         of   the   already  cliche  of  "marginality,"  antedates  the


         Yugoslav  adventure.  Cant kill the kid as long as hes got a

         pencil  in  his hand! And evidently writing is as essential to

         him  as  it  was  to Jean Genet who was willing to reconstruct

         Our  Lady  of the Flowers and conceal its carton scraps in his

         shit  bucket from his destructive jail keeps. The trees of the

         world  would  breathe  easier if such essentiality were made a

         test for all scribblers. {33}


























                                 Handkes    Slavic   Connection   [37]



         {1}  Slovenian  quote  from  Walk About the Villages, page 83,

         Ariadne Press, Riverside, Ca. 1995.


         {2}  The  American  edition of Justice comes with the briefest

         "Dear  Reader" preface. Handke cites a variety of names he was

         called  by  some  European  papers, the Corrierre de la Seras

         "terrorist"  seems  to  bother  him the most. For reasons that

         are  not  clear  -  perhaps  he finds the German coverage, the

         most heated and extensive, beneath contempt - he makes no men-

         tion  of it; or, as a "world author," sees himself entirely in

         a  continental-international  context.  He  reiterates that he

         sees  no  reason  to  change  a  single  word  of  what he has


             Justice   was   published   in   the   United   States  by

         Viking/Penguin  in  1997.  Its  German original - Winterliche

         Reise  as  well  as  Summer Sequel [Sommerlicher Nachtrag], by

         Suhrkamp  Verlag,  Frankfurt  am  Main;  as  was  Farewell  as

         Abschied  from  Traum  vom  Neunten  Land.  The  sequel to the

         latter,   Noch   Einmal   was   published   by  Weser  Verlag,

         Klagenfurt,  the  chief  publisher  in Austria of translations

         from the Slovenian.


         {3}  AND the essays on the Slovenian writers he has translated

         which  appear in the collection of scattered pieces Langsam im

         Schatten,  Suhrkamp  [1991],  this  also contains the piece on



         {4}   Weser   Verlag,   Klagenfurt;  the  chief  publisher  of

         translations from the Slovenian into German.




         {5} Wunschloses Unglueck, [1971], Residenz Verlag, Salzburg.


         {6} Residenz Verlag, Salzburg, 1982.


         {7}  The  text of WINGS OF DESIRE.- the film cuts a lot of the

         screenplay  -  floats another hint of Handkes medievalism: it

         is  suggested  that Germany be reshaped - since painters serve

         as  the  analogies  - perhaps in the form of the jigsaw puzzle

         shapes that make up Maurice Prendergast canvases, into county-

         size  principalities;  which  seems  to contradict the longing

         for  the  Habsburg  empire -- the Reich -- that we can find in

         The Repetition.


         {8}  Handke  with  his occasional color-blindness, aversion to

         chit-chat  to the point of autism, constricted heart problems,

         etc.  can  be  regarded as the case of the 1001 symptoms, many

         of which, however, are of immense benefit to his art.


         {9}  Dimitroff  on  whom  the  Nazis  sought to blame the 1934

         Reichstag  fire  and  who became the first Communist Prime Mi-

         nister  of  Bulgaria,  in  1947, and who was subsequently mur-

         dered  by  Stalin  - if one monster doesnt get you the second

         one will - at his death was in the process of forming an alli-

         ance with Tito; or anyhow, so Stalin thought!


         {10}  Am  Felsfenster  Morgens,  Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am

         Main, 1998,


         {11}  News  of  the  newest  Balkan  wars reached me while for

         three  years  in  a  small town village 650 miles south of the

         border in the Baja, at what Americans call "Sea of Cortez"


                                 Handkes    Slavic   Connection   [39]


         [The  Bahia California] in the form of the first image of what

         started  to  happen  in  Yugoslavia came to me in Mexican pro-

         vincial  papers;  young  men riding victoriously all over some

         tank.  Well,  someone  had selected that image as the image of

         the  day  if  it  was even going to appear in the Sud Califor-

         nian,  which  actually carried far more international news in-

         cluding  all the latest U.S. Woody Allen and Madonna sex scan-

         dals,  albeit  relievedly  in  Wallstreet  Journal style world

         news  capsule  fashion that allows the imagination to roam and

         fill  in  the usual details, than do the dailies in my current

         hometown  Seattle.  The  compadres  loved the photo! Right on,

         brother  horde!  They  had  a  few rooms in a magnificent ter-

         ritorial  19th  century  penitentiary  filled with nicely pri-

         mitive  paintings  of  the  "battle of Mulege" [at its estuary

         Loma  Azul]  where  the  buccaneer Jimmy Walker had made brief

         landfall  in  his attempt to wrest the Baja part of California

         for  Uncle  Sam in the 1840s. The compadres enjoyed a terrible

         love-hate  relationship  to  the Norte Americanos, they wanted

         to  live  in a country where you could buy a yardero with good

         moffles  in  one  day  and  not have the banker steal your di-

         neros,  they  ate  perros  caliente and played volley ball and

         held  bebe  shawers, but wanted to remain Mexican at all cost,

         and  cheered  like crazy when Toronto won the World Series, 95

         per  cent  of them did, and were non-plussed when it was poin-

         ted  out to them that not a single Bluejay was Canadian. I re-

         membered  my  sticks  and  stones village dog fights and still

         bore  the  scars.  But would be dead if as 10 year olds we had

         had Uzis.


         {12}  But  Secretary Baker then decided that "we didnt have a

         dog"  there;  a  statement that I who has spent time listening

         to  Texans  in  Throckmorton, the seat of Throckmorton County,

         the  cow  capital of the world, talking "dogs" has some fairly


         intimate  appreciation of and not only because Lil, one of my

         last  two  dogs, a Ridgeback/Hound hybrid, th runt of the lit-

         ter,  was  shot  by crazy Texans who shoot anything that moves

         unless  you paint your goats and horses and mules horns and

         hooves  dayglow  color and put dayglow color accident tape all

         over  them  when  they  move into the National Forests further

         West;  because  Texans  have no National Forests of their own,

         except  Big Bend, where theres nothing to hunt except the oc-

         casional  gopher  [the bighorn sheep have moved across the Rio

         Grande  to  the  Carmen  Range], because the large swatches of

         land  all  belong  to  people  by the name of King. So they go

         next  door  to  shoot  anything that moves, or arrive in their

         A.T.V.s  [the  Gay  contingent  from  Dallas  was a particular

         riot!]  and the news spreads among the animals "The Texans are

         here,  the  Texans  are here," at the inception of the bow and

         arrow  and  crossbow part of the hunting season, and you dont

         only  not see your neighborhood 500 pound black bear for a few

         months,  but not a single turkey, way up even by the source of

         the  Penasco  River  where  its salad picking time nearly year

         round  and the water has one impurity per million parts. Cant

         even cash in on your New Mexico Turkey tag!


         {13}  The  theme  of  "stupidity" "arrogance," "not wanting to

         know"  that  Bion  mentions  in connection with his finding of

         what  he  calls  "a psychological catastrophe" - whose precise

         complicated  origins  and  total configuration of course needs

         to  be  unscrambled  in  each case... The theme of "idiocy" in

         Handkes  work...  the  delight  he  takes in them..."I can be

         extraordinarily  stupid,"  he  has  a surrogate exclaim in his

         most recent, 1998, play "Preparations for Immortality"



                                 Handkes    Slavic   Connection   [41]


         {14}  An identification with Jehovah, who else, has become Our

         Grandiositys   identification   for   the  sake  of  Justice.

         Handkes continues to take my breath away!


         {15}  Open  and  closed becomes a theme in the Assaying on the

         Jukebox  [1989], the analogy of St. Theresa of Avila and the//

         and /// is absolutely wonderful.

         .  Handke  said that writing Walk About the Villages "required

         his  opening  up as far as he was capable of." Openness in the

         sense   of   generosity,   imagination,   sensitivity,  verbal

         ability,  abandonment  of  ressentiments  ["Everyone is in the

         right."], anal sphincter included, I suppose!


         {16}  Cleanliness  is  something  that  Handke has expressed a

         fundamental  yearning for. For example, take a look at his For

         Thucidedes  published  in the same-named book, New Directions,

         1998,  and  Residenz  Verlag,  Salzburg, 1989. This is not all

         that  exceptional  a  wish,  especially  considering  Handkes

         early  life  experience  of exposure to chronic primal scenes;

         except   as   in  so  much  else  in  Handke,  the  yearnings

         profundity  and  strength  remain astonishing. Yet, recall the

         analyst  Otto  von  Habsburgs  comment that "you have to love

         shit to love life."



         {17}  Its  a simple contradiction, there is none of the usual

         Aragonlike  hypocrisy  here,  Handke  is  the most generous of

         people.  It  isnt  some kind of ordinary Feinschmeckerei with

         him,  its completely physical, and how can you argue with the

         physical  - except on the couch where you may gradually become

         aware,  with  the  awareness  frequently  coming from the most

         unexpected  quarters,  including  those right in front of your

         eyes,  why  your  "sensitivities"  enjoy psychosomatic - or we

         should  now  say: psycho-bio-chemical-electric-neuro-somatic -

         relationships.  Nor  is  Handke, ever so fortunately, any kind

         of  German  or  any other kind of esthete. His sense of beauty

         goes  to  the  marrow;  and  he  lives rather grandly, proudly

         representationally  as is befitting someone whose early dreams

         of  conquests of the world with the word coincided with images

         of  grand  19th  century authors, and though one might quarrel

         with  the taste of his appointments, his writers cell remains

         monkishly  sparse,  and  it is nice to see the benefits accrue

         to  hard  working talent that has been helped up the ladder by

         a  priestly  education;  say,  as  compared to the monstrously

         stolen  riches  in this world. Still, the element of bad faith



         {18} Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt/Main 197


         {19} Die Wiederholung, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt/Main 1986


         {20}  "The beauty of Romanesque," Handke comments in Fantasien

         der  Wiederholung  [Suhrkamp  Verlag,  1982]  "might  be  real

         psychoanalysis,"  and of course he is more right than he could

         imagine at the time: one look at the face of his


                                 Handkes    Slavic   Connection   [43]


         exquisitely  beautiful young mother and you can take the short

         cut  of  intuiting  why  her  so  con-joined  love child might

         become a beauty addict.


         {21}  NEWSPAPERS:  as  which  he  represents  himself  in  his

         diaries  as becoming stupider each day he reads them, or proud

         not  to  have  opened  one - much as Ive seen him rush off to

         newsstands,  and  as  he  states contradictorily in Justice as

         being  a  newspaper reader in general and so obviously was and

         needed  to be and represents himself as being in this instance

         of  his following the news of events in the former Yugoslavia.

         Though  he  may  detest the various messengers and the garbled

         messages they transmit.....


         {22}  The  only  truly  funny  item  in  all of this was Peter

         Schneider  and  Peter  Handke,  competing about who the two of

         them  was  the  "hotter"  of  the two writers: Schneider, whom

         Handke  confesses  to  having liked on first meeting - a first

         impression  that  I  share  -  appears to have claimed that he

         always  put  on tight pants before starting to write, so as to

         rev   up  his  libido  it  appears;  whereas  Handke,  who  so

         frequently  claims  that  his formulations are geil [e.g. both

         "hot"  and  lewd  -  though  so  chaste,  that is anything but

         sexualized  as they then come out on the page - the tension is

         what  makes  his  writing  interesting  of  course - made it a

         point  to  state  that  he  makes  it a point to put on loose-

         fitting  pants! These interchanges can be followed in Die Zeit

         and  Der Spiegel. - I looked at a fair amount of the fall-out,

         until  I  had  what  I  considered  a  certain  "feel" for the




         {23}  Weight  of  the  World  [Das  Gewicht der Welt, Residenz

         Verlag,   Salzburg,   1976],   the   exhibition   of  Handkes

         spontaneously naked ego as it were.


         {-24}  Law:  take a look at Handkes account - in No-Mans-Bay

         of  the  benefits of clarification that accrued to him when he

         started  to  read  Roman law. It was a matter of distinctions,

         nearly  for  distinctions  sake  it  seems;  no wonder he then

         cottoned  so  heavily to the Wittgenstein of The Philosophical

         Investigations:    perverse   and   "Camel-through-the-eye-of-

         needle"  as  Wittgensteins  interests  may  seem,  occasional

         exposure  to  them,  or  to  Handkes  own  Ride  Across  Lake

         Constance  does  have  a  uniquely  mind  --  sewer of words -

         cleansing effect.


         {25}   The   Yugoslav  disintegration  is  provides  a  unique

         instance  for  the study of Freuds contentious Death Instinct

         in  operation:  the  disintegration  of  large  structures and



                                 Handkes    Slavic   Connection   [45]


         {26}  Large  stretches  of  the 1994 magnum opus Nomansbay are

         set  in  Yugoslavia. For example, in its Stories of my Friends

         section,  the  ultimate  space  cadet "girlfriend" wanders its

         southern  coast down into Turkey; the "son" too wanders around

         it,  and  it  is  acknowledged  in  each  instance  that these

         friends  are  retracing or covering territory already familiar

         to  the  "narrator" [the fictitious Gregor Keuschnig, a Handke

         stand-in  since  1974].  In one of the most beautiful parts of

         Nomansbays  "son" section, Handke differentiates very cleanly

         between   his   and   the  sons  generations  feelings  about

         Yugoslavia   -  the  younger  generations  lacks  the  olders

         fragmenting  hangups,  but, as usual, has new ones of its own.

         Nomansbay  being  set four years later than its actual writing

         affords   the   author-narrator  [when  the  author,  and  not

         Keuschnig  - or the authors other sometimes uncertain "I"s is

         the  narrator]  to  take  a  distanced  regard to the Yugoslav

         events  that  Handke then intervened in one year later; coolly

         in  Part  I,  less  so  as  he  continued.  No-Mans-Bay  also

         features   the   sports   writer  now  war  correspondent  who

         instantly  comes  alive at the sight of anything military, and

         who  is  an  actual  friend  of  Handkes  who appears as that

         exception  of  a  reporter  whom  he  regards  with  favor  in





         {27} Exhibitionism

           primal  scene  exposure  and derived determined need to show

         off,  this  is  not  Paris  in the mid-seventies when with his

         mother  having committed suicide, abandoned by a neglected and

         insulted  wife  a  typically  emasculated-feeling dickhead did

         not  only  write  in  his books about aggressively, pleadingly

         exposing  his  Slovenian  tail  to  an embarrassed or whatever

         blushing  world  of  human monkeys and not only in A Moment of

         True  Feeling, this is not New York in 1978 where towards that

         end  of  his most loving text, A Slow Homecoming his surrogate

         Sorger "feels good about showing himself

         naked"  [at  a  window  at  the  corner of Fifth Avenue & 86th

         Street!],  however  he  may  rationalize his exhibitionism his

         theatricality  with  his  "sacred  fury"  which he imitatingly

         learned,  had reinforced from his grandfather whom no one ever

         restrained  in  that  respect,  or  which hooked into whatever

         furies  that  early  contradictory childhood may have elicited

         in him.


         {28}  Though  Handke  seems  quite  willing  to  take  the now

         received  portrait  of the man whom the readers of these pages

         know  as  Tjudman,  the  then current president of Croatia, at

         face  value, he doubts the portraits of the Serbian chieftains

         as  the  media draws them: to set the record straight he would

         have  to  make the personal acquaintance of M. and K.. Knowing

         my  subject  intimately,  he  is  the  most  prescient, within

         minutes  has  truly  seen  through,  to the point of character

         defects.  Handke,  who  has  met  with  Presidents of European

         republics,  on  the  Continent  has  the  standing  to  have a

         meeting  with Milosevic and Karadich whose acquaintance I made

         recently  in a PBS documentary which quoted people who claimed

         to  be  acquaintances  of  his  saying  he was lazy, on a fast

         track,  what I saw did not suffice for a judgement: perhaps he

         became  a  captive  of  his  own  followers? Once these events

         develop  a  momentum of their own? I have no idea who cast the

         first  stone,  or whether the provokant is more to blamed than

         the  respondent;  what  is fascinating indeed is how the minor

         differences  between  peoples who have been neighbors can lead

         to  such general mayhem which are fought around identities; it

         provides  a  clue  to events like the thirty years war and why

         it  could  be waged for such a duration. Handkes own deep and

         dark and very powerful angers are roused......


                                 Handkes    Slavic   Connection   [47]


         {29}  For  arguments  sake,  grant  that  Handke is absolutely

         right  in  casting  these doubts. As he states at the very end

         of  Justice,  on  his  next  trip,  as  compared  to his usual

         impulse  to take someone along after a happy solitary journey,

         on  his  next trip to Serbia he will go by himself, he states.

         Which  he  then  doesnt do during the Summer Sequel - no wife

         on  a  very  belated  honeymoon  this  time  for  Hermann  und

         Dorothea,  but  the  same  two  Serbian  friends as during the

         first  time around. Some wonderful ["real" "unreal"] narrative

         in  retracing  the  first  leg  of the first trip where Handke

         left  himself wide open and endangered his whole enterprise by

         taking  along  his beautiful haute bourgeois model of a second

         wife,  the  age of his first daughter and mother to his second

         daughter  which  he had announced a year previous to her birth

         as  about  to  be  his  first  son as which his first daughter

         Amina  born  in  1969  in Berlin appears as "he" in so many of

         his  compensatorily  masculine  works;  a  second wife whom he

         married  to  legitimize  her  pregnancy  [yet  another  repeat

         legitimation  performance on the part of the Suitz clan]. They

         hadnt  taken  their  honeymoon  trip  yet!  Gravitas  my dear

         fellow,  they  will jump all over you, not that Handke perhaps

         on  a  wedding  trip  with  a  slew  of Mormon wives might not

         notice  more than a dozen well-trained journalists. Hadnt had

         had  time  for their honeymoon trip, perhaps because hes once

         again  withdrawing  from  a  wife into devotion to a daughter.

         Not  only  is Handke with wife, the two Serbian emigre friends

         will  meet  him in Belgrad to chauffeur him around, Handke has

         to  be  -  I know, I did it a couple of times in New York, and

         its  wonderful  to notice what awes him. One of the last great

         walkers  on  this  earth  on which walking has become so hard,

         but  hes  also a physical coward, of dogs as of so much else,

         thats   why  he  doesnt  become  some  kind  of  myopic  war


         correspondent.  Indeed,  even  his  hatred  of  Der Spiegel is

         comprehensible:  what  if  they  dont have a blonde young war

         correspondent  with  "the troops," the German NATO Contingent,

         who  reminds  me  of  the Luftwaffe helper placards that I was

         exposed  to  as  a child: women in uniform, now sexy women war

         correspondents  with  the  troops.  War  and  sex,  it  is all

         breathlessly  exciting  for  the folks back in Germany none of

         whose  troops,  except  the baby faced border patrol, has seen

         the least of action for more than fifty years.

             The  two  Serbian friends, one his sometime translator who

         works   for   the  radio  station  Deutsche  Welles  Yugoslav

         broadcasts,  the other a "Lebenskuenstler", painter, worker at

         odd  jobs  whom  Handke seems to have met in the marginal dive

         that is featured in The Afternoon of a Writer [1988] are well-

         described  in  Part  One  of  Justice,  but  turn  into rather

         taciturn,  near  invisible  companions  during  the  trip.  In

         Sequel  there  is allegedly a lot of questioning going on, and

         listening  to  an outpouring by whats left of the population,

         but  awfully  few  recorded  questions or answers, which again

         has  that  taciturnity  that  leaves the threesome cursing and

         telling dirty jokes at the end.

             Thinking  back,  a  lot  of  this  reminds  me of the 1971

         Handke  U.S.  tour,  where he went around telling everyone how

         stupid  they  were,  but may have had a greater sense of humor

         about  himself  than  he has retained over the years. However,

         it  is one thing to be a piece of cultural goods and guest and

         to  be  on  a  fact-set-it-straight mission. Anyhow, a wife is

         along  is  in  both  instances.  {-30]  Langsam  im  Schatten,

         Verzettelungen, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt/Main


         {-31]  I  cant  say  that  even  in  1957 I felt in the least

         unfree  in  Yugoslavia during my two months there, nor did the

         Yugoslavian  artists and intellectuals I was with who traveled

         freely  back and forth across the border feel confined, though

         eventually  you realized how much of a privileged tourist etc.

         you had been.


                                 Handkes    Slavic   Connection   [49]


         {32} Tiredness


         {33}  With  all  this ethnicity there surfaces a different and

         vaguer  nomenclature  than  that  of  any  indigenous  tribes

         archaic  totemism; the Russian bear is either dancing or it is

         drunk  and  sentimental  or  it  will embrace you and possibly

         choke   you   to  death,  or  it  will  dance  drunkenly,  the

         Bulgarians  still threaten to be the Bougres of the Napoleonic

         wars  and  these matters are then ethnically formulated - "ten

         thousand  years  of  Thracian  blood  runs  in  our veins" the

         Bulgarians  were  proclaiming already in 1980, differentiating

         themselves  ethnically,  imagining a different identity than a

         technocratic   agri-business  future  under  the  food  basket

         assignment  they  had  once  again  received,  this time by an

         autocratic  yet also surprisingly elastic Comecom regime - and

         I  must  say  I  liked the air I breathed in Plodviev, if soil

         that  rich  produced  such  energetic  feelings  I would allow

         myself  to  be  a  Bougre  too!  At least for the while of the

         1/16th  of  me  that  is "Slavic." Germans are the first human

         machines  and  thus inspire the terror of a mechanical double;

         the  world  of multi-culturalism in fact opens the flood gates

         to  the  resurgence  of  a  kind  of  Toys  R Us of totemistic

         animals  while the chrysalis, the crucible of the formation of

         identity,  that  vacuum which abhors itself to the degree that

         any  grain  of  sand  entering  will  lead to the formation of

         whatever  kind  of pearl... That the archaic will resurface in

         the  world  of  reason  in  quite this fashion might even have

         surprised  Adorno.  Handke does not go into anything having to

         do  with  matters  anthropological or psychoanalytic except to

         indicate  an unverifiable [by me] claim as to the Serbs long-

         standing  tolerance  towards other tribes [excepting the Turks

         who,  in  Bulgaria  enjoy  the  exact  same  reputation as the

         Bougres do elsewhere].




         {-  Lest  we  forget  that  the violent tempered Handke nearly

         killed  his  daughter  with  a violent smack/ slap to the face

         when  Amina was no more than 3 years old; that, according to A

         Childs  Story  was during the writing of Sorrow Beyond Dreams

         in  Kronenberg  in  1971;  or  kept  guiltily [in parentheses]

         spanking   her   also  in  Paris,  he  the  pedant,  And  then

         displayed,   once   again   it   is  a  display,  his  fervent

         mortification  at his treatment of his own child in the book A

         Childs  Story. There, too, Handke "thought he knew it better"

         than  friends  who  objected  to  his  ante-deluvian  Slovene-

         Carinthian  child-rearing practices [no animal rears its young

         that  way],  and  termed  their  understanding  "the usual dog

         language"  -  better  a  few of the innocuous "dog words" from

         the  world  of  therapy  than such degenerate dog behavior any

         day  one  would  think.  The  violence-prone  great writer now

         feels  that  he is the embodiment of Yahweh! Such grandiosity:

         isnt it something to behold!


         {-]  Handke  can  be seen berating himself in his diaries too,

         and  in  W.A.T.V.  criticizes  himself  roundly  and with much

         humor;  but such criticism, evidently lacking an understanding

         of  the more or less complicated origins of the symptoms, does

         not suffice.


         {-00]   Handke  who  is  as  afraid of his own violence as any

         coward  only  acts  or  used  to  act  out his violence in his

         trance  state  in  his writing: and then calls it an incursion

         of  history:  that chain-swinging Indian in A Slow Homecoming,

         the  protagonist Loser in Across killing the old Nazi [father]

         swastika smearing defacer...


         {-  "Starting in 1991, internecine warfare of the most heinous

         kind  began to erupt between various closely related tribes in

         a  European  region  bordered on the Northwest by the Austrian

         Alps,  to  the  north  approximating  the  course of the river

         Danube  and  to the South to South-East by the Adriatic Sea as

         far  south  as  the  nation-states  of Romania, Macedonia, and

         Albania.  Having  been  loosely federated for nearly a hundred

         years  under the title of Yugoslavia [The Land of the Southern

         Slobs,  Croats,  Serbs,  Slovenes,Slavones]  each tribes, in a

         belated   development   of  Romantic  nationalism,  sought  to

         establish  its own individual nation state on the land that it

         considered  its  own,  either  expelling  or exterminating the

         minority   tribes.   Another   factor   contributing   to  and

         complicating  the  warfare  were religious differences between

         those  tribes  that  were  of  a  Greek  Orthodox  and  Muslim

         persuasion;  non-Slavic  Albanians of Muslim persuasion in the

         southern-most  province  of  Kosovo which adjoins the state of

         Albania...  The  flag  flown  by  some  of  the  more  heinous

         exterminators  and  resettlers was that of "ethnic cleansing,"

         a  wording  that  points to the great power that an obsessive,

         nay  crazed,  notion  of cleanliness held over the self-image,

         the  identificatory  demarcations  of  these peoples and their

         hatred  of  otherness,  to the extent say, of allowing them to

         give  vent  to their great love of killing other human beings.

         The various running conflicts ...."


         {O}  A  hater  such  as Handke has frequently been intelligent

         and  honest  enough to admit to him and ourselves to be, might

         also  be  so  intelligent  to  check his texts where they such

         emanations distort his texts. There!


         {00} Romanesque energizes him...


         {00}  The  Serbs  tolerant  past,  yet  given  their immediate

         history,  they  have  a  special grievance with the Croations,

         going  back  to  WW II, not even with all Croations, just with

         the  fascists,  of  whom  however there are about as many 70 =

         year   old   fascists  alive  as  there  are  in  Germany  and

         elsewhere;  and  also  with some Muslims who allied themselves

         with  the  Germans.  Fathers and mothers tell their youngsters

         tales,  we  are  in  a  village  culture that remembers to the

         10the  generation...  Its  the  devils from the other side of

         the  hill  did  it taps into that infinite, ever replenishible

         reservoir  of  hate  that  human  beings carry inside them for

         their  unquenchable knowledge of the futility of the universal

         human  enterprise and which makes them love to kill each other

         so  much once these floodgates have been given the green light

         now  by  a  media  other then the rumor that trundled into the

         village  over  the  hill.  49 reasons to hate Donald Barthelme

         called  it.  Yes,  finally  they  are  the  gods  of  war, the

         potentates  of death! They have the universe of destruction on

         their  side! Especially the archaic brother horde! At the very

         least,  they  are the masters of death. The brother/sisterhood

         of death.


         {00}  That  intellectuals,  too, run in packs, that their egos

         are  as fragile and vacuous as any other shoppers, yet that as

         Adorno  said  it was important to keep in mind, are not really

         the  worst  people  in  the  world,  is  perhaps the case. The

         contretemps  that  JUSTICE  produced, the Handke reading tour:

         if  it  led  to  the  de-demonizing of the Serbs a little more

         quickly  than  would  have  at any event, perhaps it will have

         been  all  worth it. The Master and now am tempted to call The

         Dervish  of Syntax [but will just call Reading Handke] and the

         distance  and  remove  from his physical person has brought me

         closer  and made me more appreciative and understanding of his

         work  ... who would have thought that? Who has all the strands

         of  syntax  at  his  fingertips  syntax the way Handke does in

         Justice?  when he describes a landscape? And Handke isnt some

         Schoenschreiber  some snob or esthete, however defensible they

         may  be, or some virtuoso in a vacuum. Such a genius of syntax

         -   there   may  never  have  been  one  like  it,  if  it  is

         exhibitionism  too, then a forceful syntactical sublimation at

         its  the most useful. But here, obnoxiously, wrong-headedly at

         the  mercy  of  a resistance to something that would simply be

         too  painful  to  admit.  Having conniptions! Its astounding,

         the  more  I  think about it, you must pity the man whose work

         in the past 20 years otherwise elicits little but love.


         {00}   than  takes  the exception of wanting to look around on

         his  own.  And  the show-off exhibitionist may be tamped down,

         but  it  will  never  disappear altogether, not be yet another

         media  exhibitionist  intellectual  in Sarajevo, but check out

         the other side of the story.


         identity/  perhaps  they should be even more smashed then they

         are  already/  all  these  hardened identities/ that form into

         Croats/ Serbs/ the vacuum tubes....LYING, PAR EJAMPLO/n




         Winter  is about to set in, not a good time to go walking in a

         War Zone.


         -  with  all  that  abstractness  in  this abstracted world no

         wonder  that  the  sheerly physical in the form of a hard body

         check,  a  smashing uppercut that leaves the bone fragments in

         the  psyche  for  an  analyst  to  help  the analyzand and him

         jointly sew it and glue it back together -


         produces  the  fission  necessary for lots of fraternal hordes

         to  go  killing  and robbing each other just the way a few New

         Guinea tribes, but in a more formalized fashion, still do.


         Summer  Sequel  [both  1996]   produced  in  matters hideously

         Balkan , the luck of not being Irish!].


           And  so even if Handke felt some envy for all those tourists

         of  suffering  and  places  of suffering going off to Sarajevo

         making the news and assuaging their weak self-important egos -

          and there  Handke makes no bones about admitting to envy


           The  crucible of identity, one of the laws of thermodynamics

         which Handke once conjugated in Kaspar.


         ,  not  in  this  instance, unless it be that anyone who steps

         out  of the line of the food chain context and manner in which

         information is conveyed is immediately suspect


         After  all, to be best of my knowledge, no one so far has come

         forth  and  demonstrated  some  master plan, and if a group of

         Serb  nationalists  did,  again  it  would scarcely suffice to

         demonize a whole people.


         -  I  dont  know, maybe at one of Idi Amins circuses, unique

         stridency  on this the part of the quietest writer, might make

         an impression.


         And  it isnt as though aside from mentioning Alaska as a very

         different  kind of winter I even got a chance to tell him what

         MY  Alaska  had  been like, he didnt want to hear, he was too

         full of it,


         and,   aside   following   out   every   possible   strand  of

         psychoanalysis,  has proved one of the few interesting matters

         in an otherwise tiresomely predictable world


         LAST  READ  THROUGH  TO  DO: primitive/calamitous/ conniption/

         elaborate  on  envy/  exhibitionism/  unrestrained/ fine think




         it   appears   in   the  just  published  [1998]  third  major

         installment of his diaries Morgens Am Felsfenster,


           Does it really come down to who casts the first stone or who

         provoked  whom as he quibblingly indicates? Its on that petty

         eh-eh-eh  level  that  aspect  of  the book. Over and over and

         over.    The   doubting  was  a  new  one  to  me,  Id  never

         encountered  it  before  in him, or used for such purposes. So

         the  resistance  that  these  events  produced  in him must be

         immense. Anything but. Indeed.


         ,  and  to my ever regret did not know him well enough in 1971

         to  trust  his  prescience  about a partner to be. Or read the

         portrait  of  the "publisher" in Lefthanded Woman [1976]: that

         aspect  of  Siegfried  Unseld  has  been  etched  like a photo

         negative  for eternity, yes that is how that bull in a chinas

         shop,  that  moon  calf  servant of his AAA writers approaches

         their  ex-wives  with  a  bouquet  of  flowers  as he wants to

         deflower them.


           So  much for making rather belatedly, for a while,  like the

         always  social-democratically engaged Heinrich Bll and Gnter

         Grass,  and  coming  out looking not one bit less self-serving

         than  the  Ezra Pound who would do anything to provide artists

         with  angels.  The commonality of this contradiction is once

         again  fear,  the wish for protection & order on the one hand,

         anxiety at the thought of too large a state on the other.}



         Philosemitism/  Handke,  the  castration anxiety ridden philo-

         Semite,  had  taken it upon himself to legitimize his sense of

         justice  with  his  interpretation  of  the  law of the Jewish



         STUFF FROM Nomansbay re Yugoslavia/ son other take / etc.




         Handke the hater...


         Romanesque/  the  strength he draws from it/ e.g. displacement



         ideology: philo semitic, the things he tells himself/


         make  ;sure  that  the  various  aspects/ forces are balanced:

         Slavic connection/ mysticism=g.f.-=homosexual component


         intern/outer/inner/: sense of place...

         self-serving ideology...



         Born in mind needs to be that a year and a half before




         , among the other matter of just wanting to "hang out,"


         and you dear reader, for

         one  fine  analytic  moment,  I beg you, hold your judgemental



         N-   Were  back  in  the  nights  of the chronic primal scene

         exposure.  The  most prescient is also the most blind, blinded

         by  his  own  intelligence.  "I  can  also  be extraordinarily

         stupid,"  he  has  an  alter  ego  say in his most recent play

         Zuruestungen,  this  from  someone  who  used  to  run  out of

         meetings  calling  "everyone here is too stupid for words." Or

         have  an  autistic  fit when the conversation seemed "unreal,"

         was  noisome  chatter.  If Handke wants enlightenment he might

         start  by  finding out what it means and what the consequences

         are of having been chronically exposed to violent drunken

         primal  scenes  starting  in 1944 when his mother and her love


         child  rejoined  the  to  be hated stepfather in 1944, and the

         ensuing  configuration  that  produced  the writer of the 1001

         symptoms,  the best and most important for the world being the

         one  that  makes him strong when he holds his incessant pencil

         and  ultimately  made him pencil a wonderful book entitled The

         History of the Pencil.


         N-  The  little  side  comments such as the one about "Bosnian

         curs"  that keep biting the tires of cars are a terribly mean-

         spirited  way  of  bearing  witness, they intrude nastily into

         the  authenticity  of  his  mourning  and  his huge upset, and

         Handke  would  no doubt agree to that by simply admitting that

         yes,  there  is that side to him and why ought he suppress it!

         I   noticed  it  about  him  during  my  attempt  at  a  first

         conversation  back  in  1966:  village  sadist, Ive seen that

         haemische  expression  before  - that his work and he in every

         other  way  would  surprise  me for 30 years and make those 30

         years  in  that respect as interesting as living in the age of

         Goethe  who  would  have guessed that? The dark angers of this

         sometimes  very  dark person really show through here; perhaps

         he   thinks  the  UN  Force  in  Srbska  is  like  the  German

         Occupation force during WW II?


         N-]  Handke  doesnt  lie  much, much as he occasionally notes

         that   hed  like  to  do  more  of  it;  and  being  such  an

         exhibitionist  conceals  little,  except  a couple of the most

         painful   matters.   The   displacements,  intentional  dream-

         workings  in  the  fictions, may unloosen him as a writer, and

         in  the  area  of  the  semi-autobiographical  fiction obeys a

         different  law  of truth; though a well-focussed detective can

         unravel  the  dream-inventions without the difficulty entailed

         in  deciphering  a fairy tale that bursts ready made like from

         the  mycelium  like  a  dream. That is why, at least within my

         purview,  more  can  be learned about writing from Handke than

         from nearly anyone else.


         N-  H.M.  Enzensberger,  a  more  immediate  post world war II

         observer,  once  noted  that invariably you find all those old

         women  cleaning up afterwards, chipping the bricks for re-use;

         but  perhaps they do it only out of sheer habit, their handed-

         down,  ingrained  dislike  of  disorderliness,  is Handke, the

         less sentimental observers, comment.


         final notes


         You,  too,  dear  reader,  might  want  to  search out ways to

         transform  yourself  if  the naked ego diary exhibition Weight

         of  the  World  [1976]  were  a  testament  of  your  own  un-

         selfconscious  behavior.  [For an elaboration of this approach

         see the Psycho-Analytic Monograph



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MICHAEL ROLOFF Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website