Monday, May 3, 2010


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Interlinks also at end of page

THE OPENING SALVO IS A LONG DETAILED LETTER TO DAVID REIFF WITH HIS REVIEW OF "Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia" as the jumping off point.   

Dear David,
Reviewing the material to be put on
[the transfer and updating from the page, etc.]  I came once more on your review of his JOURNEY TO THE RIVERS: JUSTICE FOR SERBIA

BYLINE: DAVID RIEFF, Special from the Los Angeles Times 
BYLINE: DAVID RIEFF, *Special from the Los Angeles Times,,BODY: A JOURNEY TO THE RIVERS: Justice for Serbia, by Peter Handke; Viking, 83 pp., $ 17.95.In the early Nineties, the list of actively pro-Serb intellectuals was short in every major country except Russia. In the West, probably the best known of these was the Austrian novelist and playwright Peter Handke. For him, the Serbs had been provoked into committing what crimes they had committed. Germany, he argued, was the real villain of the crisis, with its premature recognition of Slovenian and Croatian independence. In the end, indignation turned to action, and Handke traveled to Serbia in the fall of 1995. The result is "A Journey to the Rivers," a travelogue- cum- essay of 83 pages, whose subtitle, "Justice for Serbia," makes its author's ideological intentions plain enough. When the book appeared in Germany last year, it caused a sensation. And it has since acquired a renown that few travel books, particularly ones sparse in their reportage, ever receive. For as the English translation, capably rendered by Scott Abbott, reveals, there is little in the book that is of much interest except  that Handke wrote it and that it takes the Serb side.
There is virtually no reporting and only the crudest sort of historical analysis.He never talked to a 
Croatian Serb leader, let alone attempted to visit the Krajina or Eastern Slavonia regions of Croatia on which the Serbs established their ministate in 1991. More astonishing, Handke, so full of opinions about the real nature of the Bosnian conflict, declined to set foot in Bosnia itself. Toward the end of"A Journey to the Rivers," Handke does, indeed, go to the Serb- Bosnian border, but he chooses to stay on the east bank of the Drina River. When he gets there, for a moment his confidence in his view falters.
"Isn't it,"he asks himself,"finally
irresponsible... to offer the small sufferings in Serbia, the bit of freezing there, the bit of loneliness, the trivialities such as snowflakes, caps, cream cheese, while over the border a great suffering prevails, that of Sarajevo, of Tuzla, of Srebrenica, of Bihac, compared to which the Serbian boo- boos are nothing?" The truth is that he doesn't know what he's talking about. He came to Serbia knowing  nothing about its complicated politics and, to judge by the book, left knowing no more. But since Handke chose not to inquire too deeply and to leave Serbia as he had come, a prisoner of the folkloric clichés about the place he had formed in irritation before he set out, he must have been astonished  by the sight of young people demonstrating in the streets of Belgrade, Novi Sad, and Nis against the Milosevic regime and the dark prison that Serbia has become. Justice for Serbia? Myopia about Serbiais more like it. Copyright 1997 Council on Foreign Relations, Inc. Foreign Affairs ,January, 1997 /February, 1997*

and isn't it ever a fortunate coincidence that you yourself on your blog 

address the subject of those wars once more and disavow
 any kind of revisionism on the score of making the Serbs responsible for the horrors that transpired. However, as I have noticed that you remove disagreement with your 
views from your blog, I am reposting your original piece on Handke and your current position on the matter and 
I myself allow all comments, except by those wonderful Chinese who try to post links to Chinese pornographic sites wherever those might be located, perhaps Macao.

The controversy, to begin, is two-partite.

There is [1] the question of how it came to be that the second Federation of Yugoslavia disintegrated the way it did; [see the page devoted to this very question:

and [2] the story of Handke's involvement.

The second would not have transpired without the former, which gets us, then, rather unexpectedly, and not 
commodious vico, to question # 3, which you addressed immediately in your review of JOURNEY TO THE RIVERS [JUSTICE FOR SERBIA, saying that nearly all Western "Innellectuals" to use GHW Bush's pronunciation, were unanimous in condemning the Serbians.

I put it to you: how did you come to share that unanimity of opinion? What were your sources of information? Did you consider that possibly you might be caught, unwittingly – I do not ascribe anything but the purest mother’s milk of human kindness motives to you or any of those who felt as you still do – in an information loop that kept repeating itself? Who provided the information?  After all, if I had not been interested in Handke and pursued both matters to a fairly complete source, I would probably have gone along with that huge general consensus, too. “Everyone” – every girl dreams of having a baby, everyone defecates, everyone who still breathes is alive… For it was this  very kind of unanimity that Handke, who has been living in France since the late 80s, noticed in the French press, and if you recall his first chapter, that is the very matter that motivated the occasionally color-blind unlicensed to set off on his jaunt with his Serbian translator friend and a Serbian painter friend whom we first encounter in Handke’s THE AFTERNOON OF THE WRITER [1986] in a bar in walking distance outside of Salzburg [a pub I suspect he chose because an ex-inamorata, the halfway once famously beautiful actress Marie Colbin, who would make life uncomfortable for him at all his usual spots and piped up famously during the controversy [see my own summation of my various pieces for that] would not pursue the melancholic writer of that extraordinary novella; 
that is, Handke sets off with a couple of pals in a jalopy, and a new wife, Sophie Semin, it is a rather belated wedding trip too and they mosey about, destination the translator’s mother home in “deepest darkest Serbia,” vicinity Morawa. After venting his fury at the media for their undifferentiated reporting and for their language and the installation of their images in their viewers heads Handke then provides an innerworld of the outer world account of peaceful regions and of moments that pissed him to skip a stone, I think onto the Drina River, where corpses are said to have floated down, his idyll is at the edge of the catastrophe as it so often is, his method is that of a poet who refuses to use journalistic language or that of the geo-political monster, he uses metaphor, and you appear to have failed to notice [not to worry, you find yourself in the company of a large unanimous Gesindel of U.S. reviewers] what a laconic writer Handke is also, how he can be telegraphic one moment, and also use the cuss-cudgel and name calling throughout the half dozen books he has written on the subject and his many trips through war-torn Yugoslavia, although if you track down some of the persons whom he despises and probe what they wrote or said, say Harold Brodkey in the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times, whom Handke called a “rusty” nail, and Henry Levy, who championed the Croatians [will French Jewish Perversity never cease] who were led be a successor to the Nazi Era Ustasha,  well Harold sure was one rusty nail if you look up his Op-Ed in Auntie’s archive and it would two long pages to show all the things wrong with it.

My various very long pieces and a summary of my reading of the entire three and a half comings of this Handke-controversy can be read on line: 

You appear to hold it against Handke that he has not visited every region and every site of a massacre – how can on possibly during the first trip- and you and your mother too appear to be under the sway of the American ideology of the “first hand account” [“I was there, I saw it with me own two eyes” no doubt that you did! But that is just one set of eyes at one time in one place!] - I might accuse you of the same kind of omission, and I do, and the fact that by the time your review appeared, Handke had famously taken what might be called "A Summer's Sequel" [Sommerlicher Nachtrag] and it was widely published, also as a book, where he has a surrogate for his self proclaim over and over "I don't want to be a Serb" at the sight of the Srebrenica massacre [which he seems to have visited at least half a dozen times] and I famously wrote: “Hey bud, and whoever asked you who not so recently assumed your grandfather’s identity expending Erickson-like psychic energies in the process of writing that masterpiece  The  Repetition [1987] but who in the 1991 ABSCHIED VOM TRAUM VOM NEUNTEN LAND [By-by Dream of the Land of Peace / the Ninth province] felt the Slovenes had made a mistake in seceding and were better off as part of the 2nd  Federation, who the hell asked you to be a Serb and then disavow it once again once you are face to face with the major atrocity committed by the Srbska, that is the Bosnia-Herzogewinian Serbs.” I outline the various answers I got in my

In "Journey to the Rivers" he has his wife, Sophie Semin, ask him whether he was also going to deny Srebrenice. Handke is a laconicist and depends on real readers, which you apparently were not at the time, and being longwinded I will explicate for you what that  notation signifies. [1] That Handke is aware of a capacity for denial, and I will not treat you to my psychoanalytic  monograph [see my analytic-blogspot and several other sites for that of one of the great cases who is yet the best writer in the world bar none that I know of, not that this travelogue is his best work  in my opinion.

[2] That he has evidently been denying a few things before as he will again in the early years of this century when a Croatian TV crew shows up at his place and he serves up a feast, but denies that anyone had shelled something as beautiful as Ragusa/ Dubrovnik – a filmed event with at least three versions of it on You-Tube, in which  format those puffs of artillery smoke and the way the shells hit the ancient walls look as harmless as a child’s game… in as much as those children’s game and children’s battles between neighboring villages are preparation for something less so.

 [3] That he has a wife who I imagine finds traveling in a car – a long delayed wedding trip this was too -even with a couple of male pals preferable to  living with someone who in his latest novel, has her call him "cold as a salamander, Mama’s boy," and other not so nice words. A writer withdraws into his composition, he may be a genius, but even for Schubert it was work. You split off from those around you, Handke has been doing so since his early adolescence during which he practiced writing as someone might a piano or guitar.

What is also evident by "Summer's Sequel" is that at least at that time Handke was not well informed about good old Osama bin Laden's visit to the
Muslim fanatic Isobetgevic [since the early 80s, which confessionalism and propagation got you I think a second stint, this time of 7 years in a Yugoslav State prison] nor the 1000 +
unemployed Mujahedeen [see link below]
who joined him in his separatist cause and who seem to have been a little much even for a recently diseased Muslim Army General [see below for the link] “Summer Sequel,” that book also has the strongest manifest of Handke’s metaphoric and theatrical procedure, which you appear to have missed in JOURNEY, say his skipping a stone angrily at I think it is the Drina river… Eventually, in an interview with his friend Thomas Deichmann [also on line as is Deichmann’s trip diary, Handke himself admits that this may not have been the best way of proceeding. However, that is how he works, he is a poet, trained as a lawyer as he may be, too. What the German reviewers riled into a froth of their own was a particular phrase “egg-yoke-colored noodles” – well, he reports of a peaceful region which implies that he was rather peaceful much of that time. Peter Schneider’s New Republic review [also online on the reception page /
] cites this kind of lyricism as also having been feasible in certain parts of the carpet bombed WW II Germany and I couldn’t agree more since I as a child and many many others were transported from one haven to another, but we were always just at the edge of the general catastrophe, smoking cities, the train huffing impatiently to be guided through yet one more half-destroyed rail way station vault, as Handke is here evidently at the edge of another catastrophe.

“By the way, he told me later, if one refrained from looking directly at a thing and instead  just brushed it with a glance, the image could burn itself into one's retina in a way that no  purposeful observation or contemplation could." [this is from DON JUAN]

The power of Handke’s senses is about ten times that of a normal person, thus he has his “autistic episodes” and three nearly epileptic fits a day at contemplating the state of the world, or used to anyhow; and I think the “just brushing” fits in there perfectly.

I myself would have gone about it differently, in my own language. Preferably a recognized philosopher sociologist like Juergen Habermas whom I have translated, too, and once sought to persuade to be published by F.S. + G. However, Habermas, as is the wont of
German philosophers once they have reached Olympian heights becomes “Staats-tragend” [a Statist] in the kind of utterly tortured validation of  NATO intervention in Die Zeit which I will put on the

which piece earned him Handke’s disavowal, as being finished as a philosophe. Everyone seems to be finishing off people, such as your mother, the dearly missed Susan Sontag says that “Handke is finished here”, or has his or her very own tribal pet, such as the German writer, Christoph Buch who seemed to have wanted to cuddle with the Kosovo-Albanian and their KLA.

Thus Handke is rather right as he puts it in one of the two best things that came out of the controversy, the play VOYAGE BY DUGOUT: THE PLAY ABOUT THE FILM ABOUT THE WAR when he has his INTERNATIONALS say: “We are the language…” I would say: “We are the language of the geopolitical monster.”
We not only own the language of the war, we own its image. And we own what is most universal of all: The stories of the images! ”

And you evidently were well on your way to joining the ranks you now find yourself amongst on one of the country’s  better think-tanks, not everyone is ex-CIA as at Brookings or Rand or back and forth like a revolving lobbyist or some of the others, Mr. Markov is an admirably hard and clear-headed realist, Mr. Bacevich is seriously troubled, and I hear that even Ms. Marlowe’s underwear is made of the best Afghan lambs fleece.

Handke became involved in a kind of silly tit in France for tat on who had been more criminal, the Bosnian
Serbs or the Bosnian Muslims. He also visited Karadzic around that time, with his German editor, Raimund Fellinger, and I imagine that Karadzic took much the same line as he has before the International Court: They wanted
to secede. Karadzic is reported to have been somewhat tearful at first mention of the prospective division of Bosnia-Herzegovina. We do not know why,
perhaps he dreaded what was to come. He certainly knew of some very ancient ghosts that might come out of the closet there! Serbians whom the Turks “converted” to Islam! You were a senior editor at Farrar, Straus and Gossip when you were very junior, but if your review had been a book report you would have been well on your way to being fired or not being hired at Urizen Books. Well, since I would have been aware of many extenuating circumstance and your many Stellar’s Bluejay  qualities,  I might have just raised a serious eyebrow. As you know your mother was rather important to me, I loved the fact of a beautiful woman with such great intelligence and a sense of fun escaping Academe and I would defend her against envy driven dislike. The positive far outweighed the negative. She was good too! At the heart she was a good American girl, and if one beholds the love with which she regarded you as a child on photos of the two of you… I can’t help but think of my own beautiful mother, who unfortunately as brilliant as she was did not become a professional of any kind but as a counter-spy and so remained regretfully dependent on husbands, regarded me. And I do not in the least distrust her motives for taking the position she did in what seemed a rather simple matter if you regarded the information flow, or if you were only in Sarajevo. But I think it is that very goodness, hers and that of many others – the humanity hyenas that they became - that led to a far more serious myopia than that of which you accuse Handke.

A formidably interesting father, a formidably interesting mother who escaped academe, as did I,  but who, as compared to me, did not work as a marble and tile man, chauffeur, soda jerk, geological assistant and forest firefighter, and thus not only got over academe, as much as I treasure, many of its products and certain individuals in it, but also over some of my family haute back ground, developed a bit of what is called "the common touch." I learned the most when I was broke. Your mother Susan Sontag may have escaped academia, but it never let her out of its grip, no matter how hip she thought she was she argued in academic fashion, with academic criteria and categories, it never lost its grip on her no matter that her camp view of this monstrous culture seemed to make it a bit more bearable, if only at brief moment, and it is to be regretted that Adorno did  not have that defense during his time at these shores, and she was a “good” American girl – though it is odd that at her death she looked like Roger Straus’ twin-sister, and that when it came to Yugoslavia her view was so standard, unreflective, and that she then famously displayed herself.

The very matter that you and the "everyone" you mention in your review as “knowing that the bad bad Serbs and the bad wolf from Progarovic” are to be blamed, deserves an  inquiry, which I put in the form of the question that the  German novelistic historian of Nazi Germany put into the  following simple form: "Did you see Hitler?" a book I translated for Peter Mayer these ages ago, and for which Helen Wolff wrote the introduction. I suppose I could also put it into McCarthy or Watergate Hearing fashion: "Have you ever paid close attention to the devolution of the Second Yugoslav Federation." Or "How and where did your hear of the atrocities?" and what made you so certain that the Serbs and Milosevic were to blame." Did you ever inquire who had the budgets and whence those budgets to hire some Washington, D.C. public relations firms? My own answer to those questions can be found as a breviary page, but heed also the two long pieces  I wrote in the 90s to tease  out for myself Handke's  involvement in all this. And by then I was well along my Handke project and my psychoanalytic monograph on him. And he was suspect, for being such a driven exhibitionist, best of which of course is the manifestation of his self in the form of writing

So the only question I propose to address is how it came to be that within such a short time there 
was this kind of general unanimity. It is a cold case investigation.

How you and your mother of many of whose other matters I continue to be admiring, and a jolly good egg she was too, and Stephen Schwartz of The Weekly Standard [who turned Muslim there] and 
Michael McDonald of The American Interest, and Roger Cohen of the New York Times, the whip for Milosevic and Serb hatred in Auntie’s pages, especially the magazine, where every guy I expect ran around with a little pig’s tail braid at the back of his head, and indeed nearly everyone but Jean Aymery, Noam Chomsky, the Trotzkiyetes and a few others Troglodytes, not just in France but in Germany and the U.K., among those who claim or pride themselves on judgment,
 mental acuity, came to such a by and large unanimous conclusions, to be so parti pris, and in a matter that previously they had known next to nothing about, say Mr. Satan’s verses who hated to have his book tour unattended because everyone was talking about “the idiot of the year” Peter Handke, or followed, which unanimity, if you recall chapter one of JOURNEY, although your review fails to address it, set off Handke's trip... and which turned into a strangely McCarthyite witch hunt against anyone who would disagree: with the images shown to them over and over on the Boob Tube. Yes why all that outrage at anyone who disagreed! And the utterly ignorant of comparison with the Spanish Civil War? The miserable attempt to cloak righteousness in an impertinent parallel?

Handke was someone who had considerable prior affiliation, not only ethnically, but had written his first novel, Die Hornissen, aged 21 on the now Croat island, Krk/ Cordula [he gives a wonderful account of that period and 
some of its consequences in Morawische Nacht [2007], and had gone on many a walking tour, some of them recorded in two of his masterpieces, The Repetition which itself relives, in the imagination retraces his post-graduation walk through the Slovenian part of Carinthia  all the way to Ljubljana, and at which writing, 
in the mid-80s, he assumed his grandfather's Sivec's Slovenian identity, tough psychic work even if there is a ready-made attachment.
 [REPETITION is the rewriting of SORROW BEYOND DREAMS is that book's last sentence promises], or My Year In the Noman's-Bay [1992/Frankfurt] 
which you as Senior Editor at Farrar Straus might have read. And which "unanimity" might have puzzled you, too - perhaps it does now, bridges have fallen into rivers and rivers flowed over them, perhaps you have a different
view at least of the matter as it concerns Handke. And I am well aware that at least prior to “Shock and Awe” for Bagdad you felt these humanitarian interventions had become most questionable. Ivo Andric's The Bridge on the Drina tells the story of five 
hundred years, from the Ottomans who built the bridge to the Austrians and the first WW. A fascinating novel,
is one suggestion from friend and only other who has  explored this subject to the ends of the earth in this country of 300 million sheeples, Scott Abbott -he and I became friends over this matter. And of course, The New Republic would not run his brief response to their Peter Schneider review. [The controversy moved to the US in the form of his chief German antagonist in that debate in Germany!, the most interesting part of which was that Schneider claimed to wear really
tight pants when he wrote, and Handke claimed to wear really loose-fitting ones! We are approaching the lowest
common denominator of male competition. Here both, reviewer and rejoinder are joined:

The other matter I am addressing is why all that anti-Serb feeling had to be expressed with such righteousness.  One page in the blog is reserved for that aspect and I have asked friends in the analytic community their ideas to explain, as Naom Chomsky put it:

"The nefarious atrocities regularly elicit religious fervor, dramatic posturing, baseless claims to inflate
 them as much as possible - and fury if anyone does not blindly join the parade, but seeks to determine 
the truth, cites the most reputable authorities, and exposes the innumerable fabrications. The common reaction to such treachery is an impressive torrent of deceit. There is an instructive record, quite well documented in many cases. The reasons are not hard to explain. The topic should be pursued systematically, but that is unlikely, obviously." Naom Chomsky

Perhaps you stood too much under the influence  of your mother at the time who so famous- or infamously was rehearsing a Becket play during the siege of Sarajevo and appears not to have been informed of Isobetgevic's long time attempt, going back to the 80s of founding a Muslim state.
And the wonderful Rasim Delic, Bosnian Army Commander,

and extraditions of Bosnian Serb suspected of genocide

Anyhow, after returning from Sarajevo she appears to have played a lot of "darting away from snipers" and with better reason than Hilary Clinton
for sure.  Still, it's playtime, and when she got wind of Handke's Journey
to the Rivers, and she who had helped me put Handke over, I did this via telegram from Europe at the time, then excommunicated him: "Handke is finished here." [See

for the extraordinary consequences of that the way it then manifested itself in the NYRB’s goon J.L. Marcus piece, to which, the most hideous and hideously written piece I have ever seen there since its beginnings, Bob Silvers refused to run a brief rejoinder from me, that solely addressed Marcus idiocies about Handke’s literary efforts -  I myself was still puzzling out his intervention in matters Serbian. I finally made mince meat of Marcus in a very long letter to Bob around x-mas which is online at the site.

And in 1999, on the occasion
of the Kosovo conflict, in the Serb and
Milosevic hunting NY Times Susan Sontag famously said: "Now the Serbs are the victim." How extraordinarily ignorant can one actually be and opens one's  mouth. And something along the line of "hard to believe that the Serbs want to hold onto Kosovo just because that's where they lost that famous battle on the Field of Blackbirds." Your mother
would have made one lousy Zionist for sure – after all, Kosovo was still fifty percent Serbian then. However I haven't the faintest how she felt about
Israel. And her response to 9/11 was great. See the consequences page of the blogand the one of whose sections memorializes his reception, one nail in my idiotic
optimism that matters might have improved since Clifton Fadiman days and the US reception of Faulkner,
I became a Faulkner expert in my fashion to the extent I could my  freshmen year, and the only person with whom I ever had a good conversation on Faulkner was Bill Styron.

Handke being the exhibitionist personified, then made a lot more of the ensuing controversy and might yet do it again. See the page devoted to his peregrinations. No angel Mr. Handke even though he his writes like an angel because he loves nothing more than writing and that infused love might affect the real reader, too. What a talent, of Shakespearean stature! The master if not the dictator of syntax who can write in dream syntax when needed. What a writer, in league with Goethe, Stifter, Eichendorf, Flaubert, a once in a 100 years writer, though it appears even with so many folks writing there were quite a number of once in a century writers and mind during
the transition from the 18th to the 19th century

you seek to avert any revisionism on the score such as blaming the inevitable “ghosts out of the closet” theory. Let me make clear as I am able, first [a] my own now fairly firmly held analysis of the disintegration which can be found on the page devoted to it:
and then [[b] also my feelings about Handke’s continued interventions in the matter, which  I initially tried to puzzle out for myself in the two long pieces that I put up as on this blog. 
Do not assume that my own conclusions are entirely in my subject's favor,
or not somewhat complex themselves. That's how it goes as we push on.
You then natter on about "memory" and I can nearly hear you sing that Okie song "Have you forgotten" [about 9/11].
Even a perfect memory only knows what one oneself experienced including intra-uterine and what one has known. If one was as ignorant as you and your mother... who, after all recalls his own ignorance. The previous Sec-War, a poet, second Sec-War poet in a row, had the most wonderful ditty about "knowing." But even if he recited it at Nuremburg, the gallows it would be; Wolfie would could just howl at Spandau for twenty years. And then you natter about: “For more than twenty years I have been puzzling over a phrase from Nietzsche’s essay on the use and abuse of history that says, “We need history, but not the way the spoiled loafer in the  garden of knowledge needs it." For twenty whole years! Wowdiddywow!

Let me give it to you simple: "That Indian has a gun, or he might get a gun, let's go git him. He might screw
with our women folk or our cows and sheep. Now and then a band of Indians gets lucky with a bit of revenge, cause
for another bigger conquest." That old Viking virus is catching isn't it? T’is unfortunate that vengeance is one
of the main driving forces, and who has the best arms. The Portuguese with the first gun boats! Angola, Mozambique

[2], how Handke, who took a very different opposing tack to the general humanity hyenas, and refused to 
talk their language, then became as it were "collateral" damage; road kill; I wish that Handke himself were St. Francis pure as the driven snow, but that is not the case either, since being in the opposition, being righteous in his own particular
way invariably involves exhibitionistic, self-displaying motives, from the very first, and his public comments, as compared to his writings, manifested rather uncivilized manners, he of course is/ was scarcely the only one so motivated. 
 Good girl good American girl Susan Sontag
became another but entirely one-eyed humanity hyena.
 And I think one of the clues is that "goodness", and she really was, she knew who was a particularly good guy, Robert Phelps, she was generous with quotes and suggestions and if I had ever realized my dream I would have given her her own line of books to publish under her name, and I am surprised that no one had the same idea, or perhaps she turned someone down. She was not a novelist of note, novels cannot be willed, somehow she was what we Krautd call "a-musisch," that is an irredeemable absence. I have also put Handke’s fairly recent Die Tablas des Daimiel [The Ponds of Daimel, a region in Spain that has now dried out] on line, not a great piece of writing in some respects, but it contains a wonderful section where he conducts a trial with his righteousness and  – and guess who invariably wins! As far as I am concerned the greatest things Handke got out of that adventure was the VOYAGE BY DUGOUT: THE PLAY ABOUT THE FILM ABOUT THE WAR [see
and a truly great, one of the greatest pieces of reportage-journalism I have ever read [he appears to have decided that he couldn’t just cuss and shout and beat the big bass drum] The Cuckoos of Velica Hoca [I have a page with excerpts devoted to it at the

And if his name weren’t mud, for which I blame your mother and Bob Silvers, with whom I got along awfully well at one time, too, the New Yorker and the NYRB would vie to publish it as the New Yorker published a huge chunk from The Repetition my translations of his poems and Left Handed Woman even had a whole issue devoted just to it!

I was planning to launch the Blog on Cinquo de Mayo,  and why not on such a wonderful day if you are in Mexico, 
having put a fair amount of primary material onto it and having invited my friends in the analytic community to address the question from their perspective, Handke friends and Handke haters,  about a thousand folk have been invited, but fate would have it that this was the day the whole web connection was reconfigured. But what’s one more day after all.

The blog site contains the following pages:

and I may add more pages yet.

best ever, and don’t eat at a place called Mom’s or have anything to do with a fellow named Doc.     . [1] [2] [3]  [4] [5] [6] [7]  [8] [9] [10]] [11] [12]


franzangst said...

I thought you were going to decimate Rieff? Pretty tame stuff this.
yours ever, Franz


Yes it turned out tamer than I felt
But David is not like J/L Marcus in the NYRB. He is just taking a party line back in the early 90s, seems like yesterday, he is not gunning for all of Handke. However, he has learned noting in the long meanwhile and lives in philosphelist world, a major defense. my guess is that david reiff is treading water, poor boy!


ALSO, I will fine tune it, I was in a bit of a rush, and so quite a few things were not included. by sunday at the latest:

look how the blog is growing:INTRA-LINK PAGES [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]] [11] [12] [13] [14] Gerechtigkeit Fuer Serbien [15] Tablas des Daimiel [16] [17] [18]


Scott Abbott said...

I'm just finishing a review of the new book by Charles Bowden and Alice Briggs, "Dreamland." As a reviewer I figure my job is to comment on what the book is, primarily. There are a lot of things it is not, things it doesn't try to be. When Mr. Rieff writes of Peter's book that "There is virtually no reporting and only the crudest sort of historical analysis.He never talked to a Croatian Serb leader, let alone attempted to visit the Krajina or Eastern Slavonia regions of Croatia on which the Serbs established their ministate in 1991" he might also add that there is nothing about baseball in the book, nor is there anything about Lessing play "Nathan der Weise."

Peter has reviewed plenty of books in his time, and some he doesn't much like; but the reviews are always distinguished by a subjective humility -- "for me the play doesn't . . ." -- as opposed to Rieff's highhanded omniscience.

Having him praise my translation in such a travesty of a review is embarrassment.


I propose as a focus the below observation of Noam Chomsky's and want to approach it in the form of the wonderfully analytic question that the German novelist-historian of the Third Reich, Walter Kempowksy used so as to acquire some knowledge of how people felt:
“Did you ever see Hitler”

This inquiry, too, is a post mortem, on the two matters in the subject line of this communication, two related subjects, the second arising out of the former, at the developing

pages of

and its 20+ pages, Links to which are at the bottom of this communication.

Although you may wish to use other examples with which you are more familiar. You may have your own examples other than the Yugoslav/ Handke which serves me so well because I am fairly well informed on the former, and exceedingly so on the latter, which is no guarantee of anything as I know only too well.

"The nefarious atrocities regularly elicit religious fervor, dramatic posturing, baseless claims to inflate, them as much as possible - and fury if anyone does, not blindly join the parade, but seeks to determine, the truth, cites the most reputable authorities, exposes the innumerable fabrications. The common reaction to such treachery is an impressive torrent of deceit. There is an instructive record quite well documented in many cases. The reasons are not hard to explain. The topic should be pursued, systematically, but that is unlikely, obviously."

I reformulate the question slightly into:
“Have you ever seen Milosevic”
How did you happen to hear of him,
What news sources did you trust?
Say, the New York Times?
What network and network of friends…
At what point did you feel that you knew
enough to make up your mind.
What images stuck in your mind?
Did you discuss him and the breakup of Yugoslavia with the same kind of discernment and conscientiousness as you would a bone of analytic contention? To what extent did group consensus sway you? Or did you decide that there was no way you could reach a conclusion unless you devoted a great deal of work and time, which you lacked, to unraveling the question? That is, that you would let “history” decide for you?

And my and your answers to this challenging question will be our 100 birthday present to Noam.

I also wanted to ask you to forward this communication to those who you think might be interested.

My own bi-partite attempt to unravel this complex that lies at the intersection of mass and individual and class psychology you will find for the Yugoslavia question on line, both as main-text and on the comments page to facilitate continuity, at:


I propose to answer the question [s] posed by Noam Chomsky’s below statement:
"The nefarious atrocities regularly elicit religious fervor, dramatic posturing, baseless claims to inflate them as much as possible - and fury if anyone does not blindly join the parade, but seeks to determine the truth, cites the most reputable authoritiesexposes the innumerable fabrications. The common reaction to such treachery is an impressive torrent of deceit. There is an instructive record, quite well documented in many cases. The reasons are not hard to explain. The topic should be pursued systematically, but that is unlikely, obviously." Naom Chomsky
http://news. independent. people/profiles/ article1222253
by focusing on the now “cold case” question of how it came to be that there was near unanimity in assigning blame to the Serbians and then to Slobomir Milosevic for the disintegration and the crimes committed during that decade long disintegration and why that unanimity, when questioned, elicited such extraordinary outrage by the large band of intellectuals, journalists of all kinds. The only “dog” I have in this house is perhaps that justice be done to Handke’s writings - for, after all, he too, could be as righteous and verbally violent as those who attacked Serbia and Milosevic, and when it came to testifying for the big bad Wolf of Pogarovic, as compared to showing up big screen at his funeral, took a major hike, which I am sorry to say did not surprise me all that much. There are times that image and showing it counts more for Handke than anything else; an essential ingredient of his great texts. A primadonna like Handke, a very great writer - with pencil in hand, and a muzzled mouth… So, one could say summarily, it’s the usual story, a bad show all around, just another moraine of history.
The oddest manifestation was the horde of Serbia and Milosevic haters in the United States wrapping themselves in the mantle of the Lincoln Brigade, as though that were a good parallel either historically and morally. The Lincoln Brigade, a product of the United Front as the Brigade against Milosevic and Serbia in this instance included the far right imperialist wing of the republican party think tanks and went to the reformed New Left, which then came to endorse the various forms of US intervention, in arms supplies to the Croatians, mujahedeen for Izetbegovic, arming of the KLA, and NATO intervention of several kinds, the latter of which destroyed nearly the entirety of the Serbian infra-structure. Some of these Serbia haters then became Muslims in allegiance to the Muslims in Bosnia! That was the most extreme form of their support: identifying histerically with what they regarded as the chief victims. These people are however most unlikely to give you as much as a breadcrumb to a starving beggar. Denial of the crimes allegedly solely committed by Serbians of all kinds was prohibited – we see the law against denial, that is THE chief problematic of the analytic situation, and THE nut of the Handke case, become the law of the land in Germany because of the German political class embraced the guilt for the crimes committed by a segment of a different generation that lived under a real Germanically thorough dictatorship… The shadow of the past was well upon these events in France, who now have a law prohibiting denial of the Turkish genocide committed against the Armenians [I could think of quite a few things in French recent history that if I were to be as mad as to outlaw denial!...]… and in Germany and the US… but as compared to a certain inevitability that attended the breakup once the first shot was fired, I see nothing inevitable in such unanimity except that “humanity hyenas” as Handke so aptly called that band, like to hunt in a pack as do all kinds of others, McCarthyites, Birchers… that is, the heart of fascism is unity of the fasces….
That I think answers one of Noam’s questions.


You even find that kind of unanimity among analysts and the periodical upheavals in the associations and sectarian splits. And I know some of the hyenas then perpetrators quite well at one time, Susan Sontag, Robert Silver, but I also know of the perversion of that impulse of the milk of human kindness, via the CIA…. that is, it goes back to the advent of the cold war… its manipulation by the news media, what images are shown, which are not.
If you feel that the New York Times or the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal serve you well in that respect, as they do in many others, I give you the smallest of thimbles – not the buckets of anti-Serbian propaganda that was served up in its pages, especially in the New York Times Magazine, especially by the chief whip for anti-Milosevic hatred, Roger Cohen – but recent, truly cute perversion of the truth that entered the pages of the New York Times evidently via a Pentagon propaganda handout:
A major assault was to take place in the province of Kandahar [of whose initial English language fame?] on its alleged Fallujah [that was the parallel that was being drawn, with a fair town totally destroyed for having dared to string up four American contractors on a bridge across the Tigris] and “Marja: was the name of this town allegedly 80 or 120,000 thousand people strong that the Marines were going to storm. Weeks and weeks of stories about this newest shock and awe pervaded the news pages, and then it occurred and occasionally you saw photos, always across fields with some mud houses, adobe, in the background, could be the outskirts of course, how could you really tell. I decided to look up “Marja” via a city listing in Afghanistan, no luck, then I tried Google Earth, and it doesn’t exist for Google Earth either except as that famous NY Times{T}… the New York Times had finally put “Marja” on the map. I wrote its publisher, left e-mail messages for its numerous revolving cast of reporters in Afghanistan, and lo and behold, the town or city of anywhere from 80 to 120 thousand, gradually shrunk, turned into an “area” , a “village” and wouldn’t you believe it, finally, into a hamlet! Just put “Marja” as the search term into the New York Times pages and you can see the descent of the famous into the infamous hamlet. There also was one other photo of our Satrap [the oh so corrupt, oh the “cruption” in Belgrade as you could read about it during those days, but “cruption” on the scale of the U.S. military industrial complex really is so grand that indeed it deserved a designation that is worthy of its extent and entirety] Karzai visiting “Marja” it is a real close up shot, evidently taken in a small room in one of those mud houses. Afghanistan is the New York Times war of choice.” T.B.C. to be continued and completed by mid-May… Michael Roloff


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