Sunday, May 23, 2010

roloff-summary-take on-handke's involvement in Yugoslavia and their mutual engagements


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To summarize my thoughts on Handke's involvement in Yugoslavia and that controversy without writing another long, contemplatively investigative piece as I did twice quite a few years ago now at… [

oh, how I would love to write in the form of the long periods that afford better and reflective, wide-ranging scholarship… But I will give a condensed version a try. Anyhow, I need to move on…

1] I got wind of the disintegration of the 2nd Federation and of Handke's involvement in all that in 1994 on returning from three and a half years in the Baja. There I had reverted to something like 17th century time, living for stretches even on the Mesas with the goat herders descendents of the Indios who had been put there, with imported Nubian goats, by Jesuit padres to collect gold dust, using mercury, from the mountain streams, pour it into hollow Quail shells, and exchange strings full of Quail egg shells for whatever - the Padres who were pushing north, building  church prison forts of volcanic rock, very barren outside but for Baroque cupolas... Loreto, Mulege, San Ignacio… had to offer, iron ware I suppose. Maybe once a year I came north, to the Austrian shindig at U.C. Riverside and gave a brief paper on something Handke or chaired a Handke panel… and replenished, also loads of psychoanalytic stuff…
     Walking in the dusty paths of the St. Monica Mountain preserve while reading Handke’s The Repetition in the late 80s had made me a “king of slowness”, too, and matters would get even slower in the Baja… except on those occasions when Durango would take me muy burro and muy rapido through the cactus forest and mesquite up to the mesas! Oh how fast a burro’s legs can trappeln, its four cylinders! you’d never guess until you’d been on one!
I knew a lot about Handke at that point, and especially appreciated how, with The Repetition, he had written translated himself into what appeared to be fairly Slovenian identity that firmed up with introduction of his Slovenian-Carinthia grandfather’s identity… That had been one possibility for the author of the play about the fatherless generation [“Ohne Leitbild” – Adorno], Kaspar, since early on, a possible compass for the forever “Juenger”, apprentice. At one time Handke had been nauseated even by a sign for hay, now, by the time of the 1989 Essay on Tiredness, that proved a treasure trove of symptoms for me, he slept in haystacks!
The translation of his richest most nuanced, self-revelatory and contradictory work, Walk About the Villages, had alerted me to his many-sidedness… “Cunning” – indeed! “As humorless as death”… “Tigering….” I was beginning to appreciate how great writers especially were split. I had championed his work, I had realized his genius on translating his early plays and directing and working on productions of them, but Handke had made friendship impossible through something he had done already in the mid-70s, although translating Villages made me forget, who can be as forgetful as the next person, until I become the one who has never forgotten anything, about his dastardliness, but seemed entirely unaware of the significance of his actions. Vim Wenders would eventually confirm that Handke invariably hurt those closest to him. Actually, all you need do to reach that realization is to read his 1976 spontaneous diary-novel notations Weight of the World and the passage where his daughter comes up to him and wants to go potty and then Handke waits “what will happen now.” Not a small thing at all to be like that, it was the very sadism I had smelled on Handke at the moment of an initial meeting at a party at Pannah Grady’s apartment that she and Jakov Lind [“Soul of Wood”] and I had given for the German writers of the Gruppe 47 and American writers to meet after the Gruppe had been at Princeton. “And the smell sticks.” [1]. But, as Karl Abraham was probably not the first to note, sadism and strength went spine in spine. So the chaste, serious effort to finalize his Slovenian grandfatherly identity via The Repetition, impressed not only me immensely, creating his own Slovenian-German dictionary, and eventually translating Lipus from the Slovenian [the only literary act that was also political Handke said – I imagine until the series of books on the Yugoslav mess, although Handke’s work on language ought to be regarded as more fundamentally political.]. Eventually I found out that in The Repetition he was re-walking – re-creating - wieder holen also mean to retrieve, fetch back – a walking about of his as a kid after graduating from high school… Handke one of the last great walkers - “it has become hard to walk the earth” - whereas the rest of the class had gone to Greece on their graduation trip. The Repetition is also the promise kept of Sorrow Beyond Dream’s last sentence “I will get back to all that once more later.” Well, “all that” was now being transformed into the imaginary, facts speak? Recently Handke, who used to hate those who said facts speak but do not know how difficult it is to get them to be articulate, was reported as saying, about the Suhrkamp’s Verlag’s relocation to Berlin: “Facts always win.” The Repetition - a tad sublime, Bresson grainy? How? A touch more sublime than Sorrows? Anyhow, the family constellation had become skewed. The country women did not all commit suicide, lots of them died of cervical cancer? Pour quoi?  Handke was transforming the personal into the typical. Yes, that was the tried and true way to represent the buggers.  Repetition had the truth of fiction as only “fiction” can convey it. What a shame that only fiction can. Well, with his 2008 Die Kuckucke von Velica Hoca [The Cuckoos of V.H.] Handke shows that “journalism” – the fathoming, the heart-plumbing, the mark-twaining of place and people can do it too. But that sure was a long time acoming in his instance although the predilection for that approach, too, went back as far as the 1981 Walk About the Villages.
Sorrow Beyond Dreams became my treasure trove for realizing how the bastard child had lived under the dreadful circumstances of the Maria Sivec/ Bruno Handke marriage. “The pathos of his origins” Handke calls it – actually, seminaries had proved a way out of these origins for a long time. Yet, it turned out, as a kid he had the run of the house when he wanted to write, he was a holy terror even then! What a big time criminal he might have become, too, if art had not been the way out! As he knows himself only too well.
By the early 90s I was glad only to have the work, the better part, the loving part of Handke near me… The “genetics of internalized figures”… there’s a subject for the analytic tribe. Handke had internalized a particularly awful stepfather, a brutal beating rapist, as we can find out reading Sorrow Beyond Dreams – can you ever rid yourself of all that?... initially through hatred of everything German, even though your real father is a German, too, a Herr Schoenherr, a German Army paymaster stationed near Griffen, Carinthia in the early 40s, who then would not marry Maria Sivec. Handke, doubly a bastard! Subsequent to having been the love child, engaged in a mirroring love affair with a beautiful mother, initiated intra-uterine, those exchanges of temperaments, with the sorrowing mother, children of such affairs tend to have swollen heads and have a melancholy streak, not a bad thing in this world at all, and if they are artists become “melancholy player” as Handke calls himself.
Something dreadful, as Handke noted, had happened early on in his life, set in, and it was not just the carpet bombing of Berlin in 1944 but, it is my guess, exposure, a decade long to violent drunken primal scenes… all you really needed to do was read carefully… with empathy and imagination… You did not need to pour through the first rate psychoanalytic studies on the effects of that exposure and what it might do to someone who is ten times as sensitive as most monkeys. So my great author was a severely wounded love-child, writing proved to be the conquest of fear, initially, the “I am the new Kafka” eventually became the anti-Kafka and anti-Beckett… mastery, becoming virtuoso at it; practicing writing from early on as though his dream was that of becoming a concert violinist, or stride piano player, it was to be the way out of his circumstances, possibly out of impoverishment, a well planned life in many ways, a 19th century type author with a large body of work, whelming, the only steady squeeze I have had since 1966, will put a new dress on every now and then, contradict herself like the dickens, but nearly all the work is first rate. He had studied law: not to become a lawyer but to have the wherewithal to become one of these Austrian delights, I mean it, I have known a slew of them, a cultural attaché – and whenever I contemplate the idea of Handke, a cursing [“sacred” he used to call his rages!] ill-tempered, easily nauseated [even of the eye balls] person if ever there was, who like many high end idiots of that kind enjoy the occasional or sometimes weeks-long visits from Mr. Tourette, three nearly epileptic fits a day at the state of the world - I cannot but laugh at the idea of Handke - that one exception, that warning that all candidates are reminded off as they do their pledge – do not become like Handke or we will hang you for besmirching our rep!
 Yes, Handke had wanted to become a “Keuschnig”, ex-cultural attaché of A Moment of True Feeling and My Year in the No-Man’s Bay, and he might have become a country priest for having attended the seminary Tanzenberg from age 12 to age 16; priests, too, have time to write… How kindly would Handke have been as a young priest? – Judging by his educational methods as he testifies to them in the 1981 A Child’s Story: pauvre Amina is all I can say who saw the intimidated child in the 70s. Like other such fathers he appears to have made it up by spoiling his second daughter, Laocadie, or rather: entrusting her to his second wife disparu, the actress Sophie Semin [she appears in the film Handke made of his screenplay novel Absence] – no, I expect that Ms. Semin took the daughter with her when she split from the salamander’s lair in Chaville. The sexually so vigorous lay-abroad as a priest?  A streak of monkishness appears to be essential for the craft – and produces marital discord unless you  find a French saint.
I began to appreciate the degree to which Handke was place and earth bound - who had instantly felt home sick in the seminary Tanzenberg and who claims that that was the first time he was nauseated by bodies; how attached and understanding he was of and to villages and country life - while translating Walk About the Village [1981/2]; and reading the prior A Slow Homecoming [1978 - one of those rare instances subsequent to adolescence when a book becomes a major event in your life, the Alaska section had, and continues to be at each re-reading] and The Lesson of St. Victoire [1980]. It appears nobody, few even in Austria, Germany or France, certainly not in the United States – the Spanish have a healthier relationship to Handke’s work it seems to me emphasis on seems - and they all claimed to be readers – appreciated the depths of Handke’s transformation back into a Central European Fourierist flaneur who had spent ample time in Yugoslavia and had written his first novel Die Hornissen [Los Hormigas/ The Hornets the reference is to the bombers of our mutual childhoods] on the Island of Krk/ Cordula, aged 22, and quite an irresponsible lay-abroad he then seems to have been, yet writing so chastely already, as we find out in a wonderful section of the 2007 Moravian Night, which employs the personae fiction of “ex-author” to travel down and about memory land and many Balkan days and roadways, and so… Handke cannot be said to have been entirely unfamiliar with the mores and moods of that variegated moraine called ‘the Balkan’ [a kind of mythological other in Western Europe, a kind of Rumpelkammer, into which you could stuff all German and Austrian bourgeois prejudices… well you went to the Adria on vacation, otherwise… bedbugs, bandits… Europe’s Mexico.]
The 1992 No-Man’s-Bay has some wonderful wandering stretches set in Yugoslavia, the third diary volume - the 1994 Am Felsfenster Morgens [“Mornings, at the Rock Window” is a feasible title] has a lot of fine notations about his visits to the Federation, the one that sticks in mind being the one how “cold” it was becoming there in the late 80s – and Handke, the laconic, was not referring to a new Ice Age.
However, I had found Handke’s intervention when I got wind of it instantly suspect – and I did not get wind of much in the Ayuntimento of Mulege, which is about 100 miles long from north to south, latitude 23 North, and 50 miles wide, stretching as it does from the Sea of Cortez [Bahia California] all the way to Guerrero Negro [Scammons Lagoon, an open air sea salt drying operation, now Japanese owned] and the Bahias St. Ignacio and  Magdalena, whale calving refugios on the Pacific, was the occasional fish wrapping, the Peninsular, printed in fat ink on highly absorbent WW II type paper in La Paz, nearly five hundred miles further South. The Peninsular’s “sociedad” pages, like so much else in the Baja, preserved American culture of earlier decades in a way that redeemed camp into treasure troves, aside local, that is La Paz and Cabos events, brought news of far away skandalons involving Woody Allen and Madonna, familiars from then far far away Manhattan. If you wanted to make a bundle, I realized, you could do so with a brand called “Hitler Cola” – all my Mexican country yokels knew about H. was that he was somehow notorious, but more importantly that he had been at war with Los Estados Unidos, the one up Norte where they all hoped to have a bank account and buy a yardero while they fried perros caliente and marshmallows on an Easter vaccaciones at the beach while they held “bebé showers.” Oh how Americanized they were! How they cheered the Blue Jays when they beat the Yankees in the 1992 World Series! What would they have made of the skandalon that Handke caused by going so against the grain at that time?

Handke was suspect to me for his exhibitionism.  Not only was he suspect for that, but hadn’t he just become a Slovenian? Hadn’t I read of his liking for small countries with difficult roads and near impassible borders? That was directed no doubt against the European Union whose benefit he was enjoying to a hilt. Who loved small countries with nearly impassible borders between them? I read Abschied vom Traum vom 9ten Land [1991, the first of these half dozen plus Yugoslav texts] and although I found it a beautiful book felt that Handke had not given proper allowance, paid deference to his Slovenian compadres’ desire to have their own state, and that in a nut shell is my only serious problem with Handke’s entire body of work with respect to the disintegration. And so even before the onset of a major bloodshed he was on the way, destined to becoming a Serbian the way the publicity and news propagation crumbled.

For me, in 1994 Handke’s intervention was most suspect, until I looked at it more closely, because I had come to appreciate his exhibitionism – walking arm in arm with Umberto Eco through the Frankfurt Bookfair, whose face do we see first at a film about XX but Peter Handke, who writes about “displacer” shows up in front of  it; although near complete appreciation of what it means to a wounded love child and compensate into such exhibitionism did not transpire until I read Robert Tuch’s piece on exhibitionism in 2008. – That is, I was not as certain about the sources for this inveterate exhibitionism and the need to propagate his image in the world as I am now, and it isn’t a problem as long as you read his wonderful prose and are transported into other loving states of mind, where that drive finds its happiest expression… His publisher I imagine is delighted by an author who has so few compunctions about staying and straying and staying in the news, although the ten year episode of his engagement for the Serbians took a heavy toll on his royalties for a while.

Also, as I realized on some reflection, Handke’s public engagement frequently went hand in hand, since the very beginning, with a "going to justice," if only for the word, for literature, and very playfully so at first. Also, he had been a kind of media darling since his first appearance in Princeton and announcing atop the Empire State Building to the West German news that “I am the new Kafka” – he made for good copy! Handke the starlet on the way to becoming a star! Had often stepped into “hornets nests”, but never quite like the one he did by going against the media ingrained grain of matters Serbian. In Daimiel he calls himself “the comeback kid” [in Amurrican!], indicating I suppose some awareness of how soundly he was punished and wounded as the then “Pruegelknabe” of the media, he of the treasured self-image! However, with all that hogging of the media spotlight I cannot say that it in any way proved deleterious to his writing; the need to advertise himself and stay in the news and seems to run a pure parallel, not that his chief publisher, at least, did not take care how and when to release a book that the reviewers were ready to pounce on. Hankde cannot be said to have been directly politically engaged [aside his one time standing for dog catcher in Chaville!] in any other way until the intervention. He has said that translating Lipus’s work, a fellow Carinthian Slovenian, from Slovenian into German was a political-literary act for him. On a more fundamental way, all of Handke’s work is political in the way he deals with language, a disneyfied garbage pile of language… the few shoots… they are tolerated because they pose no threat…

I concluded that it was not just his exhibitionism, or his having assumed the identity of his Slovenian  grandfather Sivec, who had voted for the first Yugoslav federation already in 1919,  but his very identity that was wounded. I also realized that if you wrote about a human rights problems in anything but the accustomed tone of accusatory outrage you were liable to be banned by the class of those who claimed to be the champions of free speech and human rights. A great oddity that – such fanaticism breaking out simultaneously…XXXX

One could object generally to the written texts – Ninth Land, Journeys to the Rivers, Summer Sequel, Questioning in Mourning, and even to a small section in Voyage by Dugout - that he ought to have done more than just cuss the media, the journalist who might as well have written what they wrote after claiming to be eye-witnesses, and the way they introduced images of horror in a one-sided way into so many imaginations… but if you drilled a few test holes, as I did to Harold Brodkey and Henry Levy – yes you might was well just call Brodkey LINK

 a “rusty nail” and have done with it instead of spending two pages decimating him; ditto for Levy, a perverse French Jew who got into Handke’s lime-light ways, let us not leave aside Handke’s competition with all the other lime-light seeker, Levy who then cottoned to  the successors of the Ustasha. But I am beginning to repeat what I say in the conclusionary non-blaming view I reached and which can be found [a] in the open letter to David Rieff – he is a nearby and familiar and living example, the stand-in for no end of his ilk, one particularly ignorant reviewer who had all the chances in the world not to be so ignorant, at:

and David is nicely sticking to his Serb and Milosevic hating ways even now with ample time to become better informed; or what conclusions I then reached [b] while delving into: [3]

In short: the disintegration into a tinderbox is a function of [1] the hollowing out of socialism as it had set in in the early 80; [2] the economic warfare wages against it by the West, the Reagan administrations national security [oh all the crimes you can commit with that blanket excuse, and oughtn’t economic warfare be considered a particularly hideous crime?] and [3] the end of the cold war in 1989. That end obviated any need for a bulwark along the Adriatic, with tanks and their guns facing east; the well financed commie s.o.b. in Belgrade was no longer needed, as a matter of fact the disintegration of that federation was to be welcomed by investors; the tinderbox might have caught fire even without Gentscher’s recognition.
That the various tribes then divided along ethnic and religious lines is a function of the primitiveness of identity formation. That what Handke so appropriately calls the “human rights hyenas” should win the publicity wars in such unanimous fashion deserves another chapter all its own, I and others try to answer it in the section devoted to the conundrum that Noam Chomsky posed at:

The world lives under the impression that it is more enlightened than during the dark ages, whereas I would say it is living in as dark age as any when it comes to rumor, the whole world a kind of Saxon village, not much different from the age of the Merovingians, one of my favorite ages for having dead kings paraded as living through the Saxon villages! Think Ronald Reagan! Hitler knew he could never have succeeded without radio, think of all those who would never have succeeded or who lost because of TV. Perhaps the tinderbox that 2nd Federation had become within two years after the end of the Cold War would have disintegrated of its own accord even if the German Foreign minister at the time, Gentscher, had not recognized the independence of Croatia and Slovenia, but the switches were already set for a huge investment opportunity, socialism and its top down economic program was only a hurdle that had to be broken down, and that would not have been feasible within a unified Federation. Perhaps the exclusive blaming of Serbs and Milosevic was an aspect of that destiny too ; the last socialist bulwark was to be destroyed, broken up into manageable bites; all of you are to become consumers and free enterprises! You will be the Balkan Mall with different shops all along the Danube and the Adria. Not that long after I had read Handke’s Abschied I was amused to come on the photo of two Slovenian ex-phd-students smiling at a few Mercedes owners in a newly refurbished inn in the most hated part of the New York Times, its Sunday Travel section.

Very well, maybe the various peoples in Dalmatia had been misled, these various tribes, maybe they became prey of demagogues and the wave of neo-liberalism sweeping the entire world at that time, but you have to let a people make their mistakes. Handke allows himself few if any of the kind of speculations that I make here, although Voyage by Dugout shows that he understand the language of the geo-political monsters at least as well as I do. His traveling texts are chiefly first hand impressions made at the edge of the general catastrophe. I don’t particularly care for Handke as a person, not that that keeps me from knowing how great a writer he is, I love my crows but there are times their jacking gets on my nerves, I know how to make distinctions, withal the oddness of how he went about it, it turns out that Handke had a better grasp of the reasons for the disintegration, incomplete as that was too at the time, and he was of course entirely right that it was idiotic to blame the Serbs or Milosevic or Karadic; that this would have made Handke into a kind of Serb forever is I suppose a function of his stubbornness that fits in with supposed overall Serb stubbornness.

With respect to Handke’s actions I have one truly grievous problem: there is someone who goes out of his way to insist that it is foolish to blame the Serbians and Milosevic, he hangs around DeHague and Scheveningen and writes a pamphlet Rund um das Tribunal [Hanging Around the Tribunal/ 2004] and visits Milosevic in his prison as we can read in Die Tablas des Damiel, online here at:

and his visit to the Milosevic funeral, standing in front of a huge photo, makes waves around the world… but he won’t appear, when asked to be an “expert witness” for the defense [expert in the sense of knowing the ins and out of what led to the lighting of the tinderbox], nor will he write a letter to that effect. And he provides no explanation. As a witness in the box there is no escape, your are under the Klieg lights but you are not just posing, you are grilled, possibly for days on end, by counsel pro and con - I am afraid I found that only too typical and it reminded me of why I find Handke as a person [as someone who is not in a writing state, not the producer of truly great text] in so many ways so nauseating. He fails to offer an explanation – but the matter of his not appearing as a witness had to be addressed in that Daimiel that first appeared in the German magazine Literaturen; it was well known that Handke had been asked but had not appeared. Tablas des Daimiel [which refers to a series of large inter-connected once fructifying ponds in Southern Spain that have now dried up, an analogy to the no longer connected Yugoslav Federation] also contains a wonderful section where Handke makes fun of how in his own court of conscience he invariably comes out the winner, is clean, guiltless – so no wonder that in no time he will then  make a big public statement when it becomes public [again] that Günter Grass was in the SS at age 17: “Everyone at that age knows what the SS did,” an uncalled for statement unless you are bothered by all the publicity that Grass was garnering, whom I quite believe that he was nearly shitting in his boots as a 17 year old soldier [Grass is small of physical stature]. It is an uncalled for attack coming from someone who has been envious of Grass stature in the limelight forever, who will give Grass credit for some early work, but for nothing ever after, and who – as to what one knows and does do at a particular age - at age 30 hit his own two year old daughter in a fit of irritation when some water was rising in the basement of his Bungalow in Kronenberg outside Frankfurt in 1972, our violence prone, physically and verbally, great composer and Count from and zu Griffen in Carinthia, who has been beating up women since at least the early 70s, and who has been seeking peace, truly, all these years, an author with Dostoyevskyian features, a dangerous fellow all around, who lusts for success, who is power hungry and wants to dominate, and who used to be even more driven for the laurel crown, and who absolutely deserves it on the sheer level of writing, for being an activist Wittgenstein rather than another Karl Kraus, in both prose and drama, more than anyone else that I know of. But is as confused and self-deluding as any hypocrite has ever been as well.
    I am glad that Handke did what he did with his books and his interviews, I would have preferred it if all that action had come from someone like Habermas… but it didn’t, and so Handke became or is part of the confused rubble of that moraine now.
    I also have a number problems with the verbal violence exhibited during the interviews, but I put commentaries of them on the page devoted to the interviews at:

But a few comments need to be put here. In the friendliest interview, with Handke’s friend Thomas Deichmann, who was along on one of these jaunts and whose also on-line magazine Nova carried the interview and other matters relating for Handke’s intervention, Handke speculates about why his writing on the subject was so misread, and point to its metaphoric nature, and, aside that everyone had made up their minds on the subject in a surprisingly short time, and that nothing anyone – but who – who could write, few would take the trouble to read anything not written in standard journalese on the subject.
    In less friendly environs Handke exploded in ad hominem attacks and petulant outbursts and projecting that only revealed a lot about himself – leave it to a layabroad like Handke to call Bill Clinton a “Schmutzfink”! His life-long envy of Hans Magnus Enzensberger manifested itself in an especially marvelous projection – which only shows that on some level Handke is aware of his vanity and feels guilty for his sexual habits; and his claiming that Habermas had finished himself of with his tortured defense of the 1999 NATO/ US bombing. My comment on Habermas can be found at:

The to and fro of public controversy initially centered on a to and fro between Peter Handke and Peter Schneider…
in France Handke ultimately won a judgment against the French journal La Liberacion/ Nouvelle Observateur…
To the Buechner Prize’s surprise Handke disowned that prize – but did not return the money. He switched from Roman Catholicism to his gransfather’s Orthodoxism,
Handke is a  man of five stars hotels since the beginning…. The description of the hovel hotel wonderful as it may be in Velica Hoca …

As fate would have it, on the second coming of the controversy, in 1999, the bombing of Belgrade and destruction of Serbian infra-structure one of the old girlfriends, the once live-in, Marie Colbin piped up:

SPIEGEL ONLINE - 25. Mai 1999, 18:57
Peter Handke

Den Bergschuh im Unterleib
Die Schauspielerin Marie Colbin, fruehere Lebensgefaehrtin von Peter Handke, attackiert den Schriftsteller in einem offenen Brief als machthungrig und gewalttaetig.
Wien - Nach deutschen und oesterreichischen Literaturkritikern zieht jetzt auch die fruehere Lebensgefaehrtin von Peter Handke, die oesterreichische Schauspielerin Marie Colbin, gegen den proserbischen Schriftsteller. Colbin beschreibt Handke in einem offenen Brief als gewalttaetig und selbstverliebt. Ich hoere noch meinen Kopf auf den Steinboden knallen. Ich spuere noch den Bergschuh im Unterleib und auch die Faust im Gesicht, schildert die langjaehrige Begleiterin Handkes ihr Leiden in dem oesterreichischen Magazin Format. Spaeter wird die Klage zu einem generellen Lamento ueber Maenner und Krieg: Solange es Maenner gibt auf dieser Welt - Maenner wie Dich - einaeugig, unnachgiebig, machthungrig und Ego-breit - wird es auch Waffen geben und somit Kriege.

    © DPA

    Marie Colbin als Marianne Bachmeier in Hark Bohms Film  Keine Zeit fuer Traenen

A translation of her statement reads: „I can still feel my head bang on the stone floor. I can still feel the mountain hiker boots hit my stomach and your fist in my face… As long as there are men in the world – men like you – one-eyed, unyielding, power-hungry and egomaniacal – there will be weapons and therefore war… Who are you, to think of yourself as so important. You are neither great, nor noble nor modest nor honest. A vain writer is what you are, who suns himself in the role of the solitary prophet… In some way you will be thankful for this war [The Yugoslav wars of 1994] because it will satisfy your insatiable longing for public acclaim.” - I myself would have to say that while I have found Handke at other moments to be the most empathic, generous and sensitive friend… albeit at a remove, unless it become a matter of his precious self-image even if you were supporting his work, that ever so unfortunately I have to agree with each and every item that Ms. Colbin lists and was only surprised that it took so long for one of these women to speak up, in this instance an exquisite actress whom my man exploited in the film they made of a Margaret Duras book who, however, as the now Erinye who haunts Handke’s books as of the 1984 Across, and, after the beating, haunted him all over Salzburg so that he had to go to a pub at its edges with his friends, and who still haunts him Moravian Night, a Fury who evidently has little appreciation at the moment [the usual forgetfulness at moments of such irruptions] she made her statement, initially to the Austrian Magazin Der Falter, that a certain kind of extreme narcissism - is required to do work at Handke’s genius – after all, he lacks the modesty of a Bruckner - level, and that his [in this instance insatiable compensatory need to exhibit his wound – and have a response, to make contact] is one of the major drives that produces the books. He describes his egomaniacal behavior toward the end of  Moravian where we find the “ex-author” with his half-brother in Griffen, and the brother describes what a holy terror Handke had been already as an adolescent when he wrote, terrorizing the entire family. I once outplayed Handke at Tarok, a full account of that can be found at

Die Abrechnung klingt, als kaeme sie mitten aus einem Trennungsstreit, doch die Beziehung der beiden liegt Jahre zurueck. Ausgeloest wurde Colbins AErger durch die selbstbewussten Interviews, die Handke in den letzten Wochen deutschen und oesterreichischen Medien gegeben hatte: Wer bist Du denn, dass Du Dich so wichtig nimmst? Bist weder gross, noch edel oder gar bescheiden und aufrichtig. Ein eitler Schreiber bist Du, der sich sonnt in der Rolle des einsamen Rufers.
Die Schauspielerin attackiert den Gegner des Nato-Einsatzes im Kosovo: Irgendwie wirst Du diesem Krieg dankbar sein, denn er befriedigt auf perverse Weise Dein unstillbares Verlangen nach oeffentlicher Anerkennung.
Marie Colbin spielte in Filmen von Edgar Reitz, Robert van Ackeren und Peter Schamoni. Bekannt wurde sie durch ihre Rolle als Marianne Bachmeier in dem von Hark Bohm gedrehten Spielfilm Der Fall Bachmeier - Keine Zeit fuer Traenen (1984). Gemeinsam mit ihrem damaligen Lebensgefaehrten Peter Handke, der Regie fuehrte, entstand 1985 das einstuendige Fernsehspiel La Maladie de la Mort (Die Krankheit des Todes) nach einem Text von Marguerite Duras. Seit dem Fernsehspiel Die Walsche (1986) ist es um Marie Colbin ruhig geworden. Sie lebt heute als Fotografin und Autorin in Salzburg und Berlin.
Vervielfaeltigung nur mit Genehmigung des SPIEGEL-Verlags

Considering the alacrity with which Handke engages in public verbal to and fro, it took him an unusually long time to respond to this broadside which must have wounded the so self-image sensitive to the quick; and he did not do so until the 2007 Moravian Night, that is about 18 years later! It sure must have gnawed!

Handke’s protagonists have been haunted by women or have murdered women since the 1971 Goalie. In Short Letter, Long Farewell the protagonist, a “German Writer” who enjoys an unusually close relationship to an “Austrian Dramaturg” is pursued by his wife, the short letter and the long chase, and if you happened to have seen Peter Handke and his buddy the Austrian poet and literary manager of the Stadtpark Forum Freddie Kolleritsch [their correspondence has been published by Jung and Jung in Salzburg] and Handke’s wife Libgart Schwartz during their visit to New York and their 21 stops in 28 day tour of the U.S. as I did as his then Suhrkamp agent and first translator, of Goalie and all the early plays, you could not but help notice how insultingly and neglectfully our supremely arrogant author was treating the actress Ms. Schwarts – and it has been my assumption, quite aside the obvious autobiographical parallels that are so marvelously transformed via Raymond Chandler and the Nouveau Cinema into A Short Letter Long Farwell [1972], that Handke sensed his wife’s emotional distress, who may of course have also voiced it to him, and that that led to the idea of transforming an emotional state into something more concrete, a death threat. Women figures continue to haunt and threaten Handke’s novels, especially in the novels Across [1984],  My Year in the Noman’s-Bay [where she is identified with the figure of the woman who crosses the bridge in A Touch of Evil – which bridge across the then disappointingly Elephant piss strong or weak – it depends on what your dreams are of something called the Rio Grande to the then only relief from Fort El Paseo Ciudad Juarez, which appears to have become a cauldron of death meanwhile, I came to know only too well in the mid-80s with my last wife. In Handke’s case “the touch of evil” seems to refer to a bridge across the river Salzach in Salzburg where he and the beauty first spotted each other. In One Dark Night I Left My Silent House the pharmacist too, is haunted. However, if Handke assumes the figure of a woman, as he does for a second time [the first being in the 1976 Left Handed Woman] in Crossing the Sierra del Gredos the haunting ceases, they are confident, self-making and self-made, the first becoming a translator as she withdraws into asceticism from a husband, the other an ex-bankiéress of supposed once great power and notoriety [with a brother a famous terrorist in prison] who had also been a film star when she is young and self-consciously sees herself filmed nearly at all times as we, the reader, can, if we are attentively engrossed real readers, experience the book as a film as well – and what a difference that makes! These female figures are not haunted, their husbands figure barely in the past, or have been left. On certain photos one can see how feminine Handke is, the one I have particularly in mind is a sequence taken in his work space in Salzburg, the way he moves his hands, he is explaining something, also certain photos where he is not posing in super male fashion mode, photos taken from behind as he walks. Handke may yet regret his wanting to be photographed so much! So there is conflict and it is an evidently productive one between Handke’s male and feminine sides, which comes not as anything of a surprise to anyone who takes a close look at his childhood trauma and an attachment to his mother that led him to say  about Sorrow Beyond Dreams that he had only written about himself: “What did I really know about my mother? Ma mere, c’est moi.” Analogous to Flaubert’s apercu about Madame Bovary.  What comes as a bit of a surprise is that someone who writes Sorrow beyond Dreams and is evidently at the mercy of feminine beauty, as are so many in the never-ending Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, should ever hit a woman – until you think of the rage that must have also been directed at the mother for engaging with the stepfather, not just at the usurper, during these many many nights of horror. A railway trauma is a once smashup, a decade-long trauma traumatizes in a very different manner.
In Moravian Night our now “ex-author” is again severely haunted, at the beginning of what in many parts is a marvel of a wonderfully written book, it seems she, whoever she may be, could pop out of the reeds in the Morava where the houseboat Moravian Night is tied up, and take potshots at him [the houseboat is based on an actual one, called Luna, that Handke spotted there during one of his trips, his first was with his Serbian translator and produced the The Trip to the Rivers Morava…Justice for Serbia/ 1993/ to his translator’s mother’s house.] and one of these days the houseboat, say during the spring rains and melt the houseboat will float off to the Danube and into the Black Sea with Handke aboard who will provide a Mark Twain like account of the trip. Moravian Night also contains a number of other passages that indicate that women prove a danger to a writer like himself – since however Herr Handke has had these many women in his life he certainly has made most of them quite unhappy, except the actress Katja Flint who did not have the misfortune of having had to live with our restaurateur during their three year relationship either in the aboriginal forest of Chaville or Don Juan in the crumbling Abbey of Port Royal and so continues to be well disposed towards him. Handke has said that he kept picking actresses under the assumption that they would be less “weighty” – which I imagine is the case if you are a depressive who suffers from the “weight of the world”, since “showing” is such an important psychological matter for Handke, and how he is seen, and in whose company, the company of beauties appears to be essential in that respect as well, in other respect the statement about “women being less weighty” appears to ignore how needy they are and earth and fleshbound. Handke on women – you’d think the guy had only half a brain. Women “talk too much” – you must have seen how Kolleritch and Handke were once engrossed in talk to smile at a statement like that. One Dark Night contains one of those recits as Handke in good old fashioned French fashion has been putting into his novels for quite a while now, one is about “The Modern Woman” where I can only say “Oh what you have missed, fella”, and a second one on Narcissism where Handke is stuck at the level of the Freud’s analysis that the cathexes could be exclusively to the self; and is anything but as progressive as he might be to the extra-ordinarily fine-tuned as the Self-Psychologists have become since the appearance of Heinz Kohut’s work, as finely tuned as Quark specialists in sub-atomic particle science, and indeed the explosive powers, the psychotic energies share something a least a parallel there.
 The idea for Moravian Night is a wonderful conceit, but his two editors, the editor in jefe of Suhrkamp, Raimund Fellinger, and the critic friend Peter Hamm, ought to have insisted that it have the same overall formal perfection of No-Man’s-Bay and Del Gredos, something of course much more difficult to achieve than in short master pieces such as Left-Handed Woman, The Essays about the Jukebox, the Day that went Well, the novellas The Afternoon of the Writer, the 2004 Don Juan [as told by himself – as indeed it is, although American reviewers have missed the how of that, at least so far]. Moravian Night [see a long pre-review of minr at
is a mixture of highly autobiographical wanderings of Handke’s then immediate past year or so in Yugoslavia, a bus trip to the Kosovo [a section that fits in with Velica Hoca], in northwest Spain, and imaginative settings in a ten year future in his hometown region of Griffen Carinthia,  some sections, such as a wandering around the Harz Mountains of Thuringia or the Danube plain, and Handke’s physical father’s region, that call out for the same kind of completion that he devotes to other matters, and of a series of set pieces of dazzling formalist completion, but thus, as compared to the formal completion that affords one of the great pleasures of his work, my thumbnail description of its form is that Moravian Night reminds me of a Larry Rivers painting… however, whereas the blanks in a Larry River painting, if you follow me… here are merely puzzling… Leave a taste of arbitrary incompletion. If you know Handke’s work as well as I do you can fill in the significance of “eternal son” during the Thuringia section since you know that that is actually something that was over and done with about 20 years ago, with the writing of The Repetition. The section where the ex-author’s dead mother tells him in a dream not to feel guilty for not having prevented her suicide is of course entirely puzzling unless you at least know Sorrow Beyond Dreams – but that then either makes Moravian Night an entirely or at least halfway private matter between the author and his faithfully attending readers; and utterly confusing for the general reader; and either shows that his editors are remiss or have had no choice – after all, until not so long ago Handke said “he sent in the manuscript and they printed it”.
Being liberated from guilt for something he did have some control over at the time in 1971 raises the most interesting question of Handke and guilt. In the instance of his mother’s suicide, if we read Sorrow, the book mentions that the son had grown apart from her, as he well might have what with living in Berlin and world wide success of his early work, that she was suffering from pains that the nearby clinic found unable to handle, or too mysterious [depression is my guess] and, being famously generous to her showered her with gifts. However, in an interview with his friend Weinzierl in 2008 we find out that Handke actually saw quite a bit of her at that time, she had taken care of his and Libgart Schwartz’s baby girl Amina while the famous Austrian threesome went on the infamous cussing tour through the states, and that what troubled his mother most of all was the imminent return, into her life, of the hideous husband, Bruno Handke, from a TB Sanatorium, the idea of living once again in the presence of someone from whom she felt so estranged – but if that was the case, I would say: had no one heard of separation in Griffen at that time, not to mention divorce, since it appears that Bruno Handke was also thoroughly disliked by the mother’s Sivec clan, guilty then of incompetence! All the human, not literary matters certainly, of which Herr Handke might feel guilty!  The dream wish to be free of guilt Handke accomplishes very nicely and with great facility also in so-called “real life”: the diary volume Mornings at the Rock Window contains a passage that indicates that Handke can switch off guilt the way one does the light. Perhaps. But then can Fjodor switch it back on?

Moravian, as compared to these puzzlingly allusive, near incomprehensible sections, however contains a series of set pieces that could not be more complete, written with all the verve of formalist virtuosity: It contains [1] a tour de force on the congress of noise, [2] a Jew’s harps players competition in the Danube plains near Vienna, and [3] a formally one so complete on why our ex-author had been driven to want to kill a woman – which can only refer to the cloud of Marie Colin, who it appears literally haunted and hunted him down as of 1984 in Salzburg until Handke fled to Chaville in 1987 leaving some manuscripts behind - hunted haunted upraided him at all his haunts, which a once live-in girlfriend of course tends to know! What is so dreadful about that section is that, as compared to so much of Handke’s work and also long stretches in Moravian Night, it does not leave the reader a single breath of air, he chokes the reader with excuses for having wanted to kill her as I suspect he did. The admission at having not just beaten her, but having wanted to kill Marie Colbin, functions as a preventive admission, what is called a “tactical concession” – which ever so unfortunately is followed by a heaping of excuses that proves them to be the worst kind of lie. And I go outside and puke in direction Chaville until it occurs to me that if Handke understood his childhood trauma he might be a bit less psychotic.
The tactical concession did not fool me for a second, German reviewers, who are now of a more kindly disposition than they were during the Serbian uproar, and who are all part of the cultural establishment, or that of German Studies, whose stellar object is Handke studies, or his friends, walk around this hot potato if they even mention it, by indicating that the author’s narcissism as an author was wounded, whereas I think it is a little more than that, and not just that Handke, after all, witnessed his stepfather beating up his mother, as we can read in Sorrow Beyond Dreams, or that Handke has been engaged in physical combat at the very least since his affair with Jean Moureau [see the edition of his correspondence with the deceased German poet XXX] where it is my guess that Jean Moureau and the French sadists she grew up amongst at the very least held her own. That section on Moravian elicits revulsion in me – for the lie that seeks to defend an incomprehension. Other major reasons that contribute to Handke’s then turning vicious towards wives and girlfriends, quite aside the emotional withdrawal and into writing – I got the first inkling of the violence and the fighting in those sections of the 1973 play They Are Dying Out - are that he is a pasha, and a pasha does not want to be corralled; he want to walk when he walks, sleep with whoever he wants  with whatever groupie shows up at his doorstep; and hates the idea that any of them are with another man. It’s a rather typical grandiosity – and it only benefits his art.

I happened to have been brought up in a late emanation of chivalrousness, which can create problems of its own, and have been a prisoner of sex myself, and found these relationships invariably entrapping. However, I was also surrounded by women who could run estates when their men went off to war – to put it simply – and so everything having to do with women’s liberation or the relationship between American men and women as of the time I came to this strange country that has also ruined sex as it has so much else was puzzling in the extreme, especially the throes women went through to be “liberated” and then become like men! However, if you are a man who beats women or goes out of his way to hurt women I am finished with you as a person; this not only applies to Handke, but another stellar writer, the Don Juan who appears as such – the joke  is “with the same woman” – in No-Man’s-Bay, Erich Wolgang Skwara, author of a truly fine Don Juan novel, The Plague of Siena.


Thus I knew a lot about Handke and his work and his psyche...  fairly little about the history of Yugoslavia when I got wind… and if it hadn't been for Handke I might easily have gone along with the ignorant consensus that the Serbians and Milosevic were to blame. Then I read the first part of Journey to the Rivers where Handke is upset by the unanimity of the French Press, and by the time I read it, the same consensus had come to prevail, was the case, in the Los Estados Unidos Norte, not the only United States on this continent, especially  in the New York Times. I will not repeat the conclusionary non-blaming view I have come to and which can be found [a] in the open letter to David Rieff – he is a nearby and familiar and living example, the stand-in for no end of his ilk, [in Austria I have the sad case of one Franz Krahberger], one particularly ignorant reviewer who had all the chances in the world not to be so ignorant, at:

David is nicely sticking to his Serb and Milosevic hating ways even now with ample time to become better informed; or what conclusions I then reached [b] while delving into: [3]

And for the reasons of what I knew about Handke – his exhibitionism, the primadonna invariably seizing the limelight, his righteousness that however often went hand-in-hand with a going to justice - his intrusion into the breakup of the Federation was suspect. Yet I never forgot that as compared to all those other writers – say, the hapless Salmon Rushdie who called Handke “fool of the year” at the inception of the controversy, interfering as it did with his reading trip through Europe, who knew zilch and merely was a blotter of what news reached him via the papers and TV -  Handke knew the territory, and when Handke knew his territory – and that territory was in some ways chiefly language and how people live in it as the air they breathe and the water they drink, I was not going to dismiss anything he might have to say.

My approach, and I had the time, was to hold conclusions, if I could ever reach them, in abeyance. Nor had I any personal reasons for coming to Handke’s assistance, rather, the bastard child had proved a real bastard [1] as he has to so many others. And so I could be fair all the way around, if possible also to myself, and end up – as I am sure I will with this piece – everyone, Handke lover, Handke haters, even those who are indifferent hating me! But I will be able to live with my conscience and my crows and ducks and geese and grackles, and let’s not forget the love of my life, Chiquita.

The Handke controversy, which had at least three major comings and fadings, needs to be divided into two parts:

1] The Handke who wrote a half dozen or so texts, one of them for the ages, and one great play on the subject and…

 [2] the public Handke of the interviews with some wonderfully hateful projections and the public reading, the display of the person who wrote and now reads the Journey to the Rivers texts… [he may also have read from some of the others, I was being kept and kept myself extremely well informed at the time, which is no guarantee: all you can be is wrong, perhaps not forever.

There were altogether [so far!] something like THREE or 3 + ½ comings of the “Handke-Yugo Controversy”: after the first –in the early 90s - he was too hot to handle but people who had never heard of him took notice.
   After the second – in 1999 at the NATO destruction of the Serbian infrastructure and the premier of VOYAGE BY DUGOUT: THE PLAY ABOUT THE FILM ABOUT THE WAR - bookshops refused to carry his work and the Handke-Yugoslav scandal ran as a parallel action to the one in Yugoslavia.                  By 3-a  – his displaying himself in front of a huge photo of Milosevic at the Milosevic funeral in Pogarevic in 2006 - peoples outrage knew no bounds and a play, the very great ART OF ASKING, was banned from the Comedie Française and  [3-b] the city of Düsseldorf’s council members refused to release the money for the Heine Prize which the fine critic and literary power Sigrid Loeffler, as head of that jury, had managed to persuade them to provide for Handke because he, at this time [he has since sold his m.s. etc. to two state collectors in Germany and Austria for a total of about one million Euro], lacked the funds to invite the translators of his great and longest work, the Crossing the Sierra del Gredos tale for a hike through them thar Spanish hills and dales [!]…ah how favors are parceled out and arranged in that world! - although I imagine his one-time companion on one of these jaunts the media-mogul with artistic sides, Hubert Burda would have given it to him, and Handke is quite right that it can only be of help to translators of his work if they are also familiar with the so-well described and anchored places, and perhaps Burda even did since Handke went on the hike, but without the current wonderful translator of his prose into American, Krishna Winston, who also severely disapproves of the stand Handke took in matters “Yugoslav Disintegration” but is also one of those oh so many who refuses to discuss the matter: It is one of the weirdest things, people who are what I call perfectly intelligent, reasonable talented people, when it comes to that particular subject: what might be the problem in admitting that you had been ill informed? It seems not even that possibility can be entertained. Interesting indeed. If I am or was wrong, the first thing I do is admit it to myself and try to understand why. And there are times I find the answer, at other I don’t, and so am also puzzled by my self.
Instead of the Düsseldorf Heine Preis Klaus Peymann, a homeboy of mine, who like me, but far more famously, did the first performances of Handke premieres, and nearly a dozen other ones to the near present, instituted a Berlin Heine Prize [has it been awarded to anyone else since?] and Handke and he and a lot of news people delivered that money to a Serbian enclave [that would be [3-c] in the Kosovo, perhaps the very same Velica Hoca that Handke revisited in 2007. Handke looks extremely happy on those photos, we are in a different film now, Handke has now become one of those people he has walking around in Quodlibet.

“Play the game” – the publicity game in this instance, you may also publicize yourself but you are calling attention how the Kosovo Serbians got the shaft, what the hell, put all those buggers into camp Bondsteel and let them shop at the PX there until their teeth rot and they turn fat like the wives of GI’s. Let them watch American Idol, and the gong show and Wrestlemania… If Uyghur’s can be sent to Papua, Kosovo Serbians can be put into a much enlarged Camp Bondsteel. If money will buy a Northern Alliance and an “Awakening Council” for you… the Kosovo Serbians, too, can be monetized.

In the last few years German feuilitons have by and large stopped beating up on Handke: after all, he keeps on writing wonderful books from the inception of the controversy and his own first book to address that subject ABSCHIED to that  extraordinary reportage 2008 The Cuckoos of Velica Hoca; that is, during a 15 year stretch with some upheavals in his personal life – he went right on writing novels and plays that usually acknowledged, as an aside, that the disintegration and his feelings were never far from mind: the 1994 One Dark Night I left my Silent House, announced in No-Man’s-Bay - which contains some amazing writing and in dream syntax, nonetheless has a brief moment where its protagonist, another protagonist with woman trouble, the Pharmacist sees a damaged NATO Blue truck convoy being pulled north on the Autobahn near Taxham, that oddly named appendix of Salzburg whence our personae goes on his trip to Spain and spends time with the animals that seek refuge in the unpaved triangles between the cloverleaf interchanges; the plays Spuren der Verirrten/ Traces of the Lost which is a kind of second version of Hour but picks up a theme from Villages; [2003]; Subday Blues a highly formalist play of rage, see for a longish piece on it.

That extra chapter for No-Man’s-Bay called Lucie in the Woods with the Thingamajigs [which memorializes his second daughter, the luckier Loacadie] not only celebrates our Keuschnig’s mushrooming but cites visits by Serbians; Lucie is Handke’s venturing into artificial fairy tale territory. Some people feel that the various enclaves in the 2003 350 k narrative strip Crossing the Sierra del Gredos, these topes as I think of them during my reading expedition, the name for speed bumps in Mexico – topes peligrosa, curvas peligrosa [invariably with a heap of car carcasses and crosses and flowers], bear analogies to matters Yugoslav; I think Handke was trying for Swiftian estrangements. The only allusion to matters Serbian I find in the magnificent 2006 Kali [The Salt Works] is the heroine taking a trip by “dugout canoe” [!] as unlikely as a birch-bark on present day Lake Washington! Real Handke readers will catch the allusion and smile about his sticked-to-ness, his Serbian stubborn adherence…the inat! Handke has become a very self-referential writer… but he trusts his small band of camp followers to adhere to him for his writing, writing so well… and who knows what I am leaving out… and during that period from 1991 to 2009 he wrote those half dozen texts and one play directly relating to the controversy, and currently appears to have completed an already controversially awaited play about Slovenian/ Carinthian Partisans in 1945 [they sure took their time is all I can say in advance]. One busy boy who needs to write his 1000 fine words a day in three hours – life is short as the day is long for Don Juan to get himself into a lot of woman trouble during his remaining hours! “Die Literatur ist Romantisch” – indeed!

The German and Austrian cultural establishment appears to have decided that with such a great writer on their Handke hands they would ignore what an idiot the fellow is in some ways and how drenched in Balkan obstinacy his tale  Moravian Night is, because, after all, how many once every 100 year authors do they have! They are becoming fewer I think. If you can’t stuff his mouth or cut off the hand that holds the pen, perhaps you can stifle him by showering him with prizes where the prizes need the Handke name more than he needs the prize meanwhile, about which Handke has become rather coy… and when I get a photo of him holding yet another prize, he looks to me like the choir boy, still somewhat lost.

The # 2 part of the controversy actually needs to be divided into alphabet soup all its own: 2-b might be Handke’s slinking about the Milosevic trial and his prison in Scheveningen [Rund um das Tribunal] and 3 might even have a 3-d what with Die Tablas des Damiel and 3-e with winning the Kosovo Serbian’s St. Lazarus Prize [but not having time to accept it in person! What a picture that would have been!], 3-f is winning a piece of Serbian land; 3-g would be endorsing the Nationalist candidate during the last Serbian elections and saying if he could vote, which  he has never done in Austria [and in France only for dog catcher in Chaville], he would for Nicolaie… and 3-h…  there is bound to be a 3-h… Handke is proving to the Serbians that he can be as stubborn as they are reputed to be.

Aside The Repetition and No-Man’s Bay, which have stretches set in parts of what now used to be the 2nd Federation, there are a total of nearly a dozen texts that deal directly with Yugoslavia or the aftermath of the disintegration:
1] Abschied
2] Journey to the Rivers;Part of which  is on line on this blog:
3] Sommerlicher Nachtrag [A Summer Sequel]
4] The play Voyage by Dugout. See:
and also the page devoted to it at:
5] Unter Traenen Fragend [2000] [Questioning in Tears]
6] Rund um das Tribunal [2003] [Hanging around the Tribunal]
7] Die Tablas des Daimiel [2005] [The Ponds of Daimiel] On line here:

8] Die Kuckucke von Velica Hoca [2008] which has one page devoted to it at:
and Hans Hoeller’s absolutely first rate piece on that extra-ordinary book in the form of a photo-album of pdf photos.

9] and large stretches in Moravian – the trip to and from Velica Hoca that could as easily be placed there, the very location of the house hotel boat near Porodin, the dance back to Porodin on calendar pages at the end of the year’s roundabout, and yet another bus trip… the visit to Cordula/ Krk… an imaginary set ten years hence from the writing of the book finds the ex-author and Ramsey Clark [!], who defended Milosevic in Scheveningen and also attended the funeral, and an intriguing Japanese girl reporter who is said to have gotten stuck in those regions during the wars, in a Slovenian Dolmine, one of those lime-stone hide-out pits that come in all sizes in quite a few parts of the world.
As indicated previously, I think it is foolish to blame any of the tribes for their being so murderous with each other as they disintegrated, or - blame all of them. Once the disintegration was upon them, NATO/US interference was inevitable – oh how global warming has raised the water table of the Atlantic, Madame Allbright sees it washing into Afghan deserts! – the first was for a call by Ambassador Galbraith to send US Arms to Zagreb; the support for the Bosnian Muslims followed shortly thereafter, and then for the murderous KLA. Handke happens to have seen very accurately that it was unjust to blame the Serbians, and all such blaming, as the blamers seem entirely unaware, along ethnic lines perpetuates that kind of mad designating. If you want to blame anyone, I suggest the meat grinder, dynamic capitalism and they way it pursues its interests in small and large ways. How easily nearly an entire class of the educated, if that is the word, could be turned into righteous avengers – it is not too surprising if you look at subsequent or current successful propaganda efforts. Obamamania, the successful lie about WMDs in Iraq in the face of United Nations disavowals comes to mind. The major media are part of capitalism and serve it well. Ambassador Galbraith has gone on to be an advisor to the semi-independent Kurds in Iraq and was richly rewarded for his efforts in behalf of its oil industry. I was surprised in the instance of H.M. Enzensberger, who after all wrote the fine book length essay on The Civil Wars, not seeing the disintegration of the 2nd Federation as an especially interesting consequence of how that cookie crumbled, but H.M Enzensberger [a.k.a. “Hans Magnus the Slick”], too, has become a capitalist, with an interest in the German aristocracy. I comment on Juergen Habermas at

No one will change their mind, or even think about why and how they came to think the way they did.
From what I have been able to gather, the Serbian refugees from Croatia and other regions, and from the Kosovo, ultimately suffered most, and in that respect Handke is quite right, and the best part of him, the loving tender part shows itself at work in The Cuckoos of Velica Hoca and in the photo of his assisting a grandmotherly woman in the enclave, and takes the position that being independent the various regions and small states have become like the dried up ponds of Daimiel, I would think that the suffering and damage done in each of the other parts deserves equal sympathy: they know not what they do – as Peter Handke might well remember from moments when he is seized by righteousness and the furies are upon him.


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A ] I have mentioned previously that the first time I became aware of Peter Handke’s existence was at the Gruppe 47 meeting at Princeton in 1966.  Erich Kuby, who had started to scribble furiously as Handke began to speak his rather modestly toned tirade - so it struck me who had heard far tougher stuff in American writing seminars - whispered the name to me; and that I first talked to a then very Beatleish  dark glasses in modulated lighting conditions - genius at a subsequent party, and that I found out two things during those brief conversations: [a] that Handke had eye problems of some kind and [b] that he was a village sadist the way he grinned so uninhibitedly. I eventually spent at least a week – in the late 80s - delving into the variety of possible causes for occasional color blindness as Handke mentions having them in his 1979 Lesson of St. Victoire, but I did not reach compleat certainty, it would seem to be linked to his autism, his rages, his hysteria – at any event, it kept him from acquiring a driving license, and thus made for the most attentive descriptions of being in buses, and although according to him [also in Lesson of Saint Victoire] the only thing his hated stepfather liked about him was that he passed the physical for service in the Austrian Army, Handke appears not to have ever done more than pass the physical, or maybe the army then took a second look at the results. He later mentions have an enlarged heart valve as the cause for his hospitalization in Paris – but that appears to have been a tachychardia attack, the culmination of the panic attacks he mentions suffering from, and solved by taking valium. It occurs to me that for the entire “Wende” as Handke’s change from being “the new Kafka” to the anti-Kafka in the mid-to late 70s is referred to, we may have to thank Mr. Valium, and calmness and love began to prevail. The matter of the ugly unselfconscious grin upon Alan Ginsberg asking me to translate that he wanted to fuck Handke was not cleared up until 1980 during a visit to the Mönchsberg at which point I found out that Handke thought that Ginsberg had wanted to fuck me. Handke’s 1966 grin, which I had interpreted as his having a good sense of humor, turned out to have been due to his lack of English and thus looked even uglier in retrospect. The world will end because of too many wrong assumptions I assume.

B] A few years later I finally took a look at the quickly famous author’s work, and was struck by their formal beauty, and securing some backup from Susan Sontag convinced the colleagues at Farrar, Straus to draw a contract for Kaspar and Other Plays and for his second novel, Der Hausierer [The Panhandler] – his first novel, Die Hornissen, seemed impossible to suggest to Farrar, Straus. Thinking of whom to assign as the translator of the plays, I started to play with Self-Accusation on my type-writer, and the rest I history: no, I realized on translating these works that the fellow was a genius, at least as writer, and the more so when directing these plays with a small very hippieish troupe that had just returned from San Miguel and in his own way had access to the music of the spheres, and have thought of him as a composer writer ever since. The performance part then was taken over by professionals, first by Herbert Berghof’s HB Studio, which however never extended its runs beyond the usual two weeks in house.

C] I next met Handke in 1969 in Berlin, he was living in the Uhland Strasse in what Adorno had told me was the apartment of some German prince who liked to extend his favors to the artistically talented. I recall the apartment as rather dark, with stacks of news papers, and was quite glad that Handke suggested at once that we should go to an outdoor cafe, the purpose of my visit was to discuss my translation of Kaspar, but before we stepped outside Handke had me take a look at his approximately six month old baby girl Amina, I thought nothing unusual about that, and even now the eternal baby in me still loves going googoo with babies. While discussing Der Hausierer Handke mentioned – we were at an outdoor table – that it contained a lot of quotes from American detective fiction… and that these derived from German translations… not from the original American… and though I had noticed a few of them, my heart sank at the prospect of tracking them all down [I was not going to translate them back into American]: in retrospect it occurs that I might have asked him whether he could point me to the German pages. In the event, Handke’s first novel to be published in English became The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick.

D] By 1971 I was the Suhrkamp literary agent in New York and had given permission to a German director, who would later become, disastrously, the partner in the publishing firm Urizen Books, to do the first public paid performance of two Handke plays – Self-Accusation & My Foot my Tutor at the Brooklyn Academy of Music [BAM] whose producer then was Robert Kalfin. It so happened that Handke and his wife, the actress Libgart Schwartz, and the poet and head of the Graz literary venue Stadtpark Forum Freddie Kolleritch came to the U.S. on a 21 venues in 28 day Austrian cultural package tour. I recall that Handke at once changed their residence from a hotel on Lexington Avenue to the Algonquin – so he knew about the Algonquin and that’s where he staid in when he was in New York, the upwardly mobile, the Gatsby of German literature; from Kafka to Fitzgerald to Goethe – we always aimed high. About five years later I once gave Handke, who now, wifeless, had daughter Amina in tow, an apartment I was just moving out of into my first loft in Tribeca, it was on the 25th floor, had the most splendid of view of downtown and New Jersey, New York Bay, disparu within one day, calling it a suicide apartment, where might he have gone: all it took was one call to find out.
Handke did not care for the work that the German director had done “Just as well that this was done in Brooklyn” - and going back stage I think had told him so, at any event, a Urizen Books, where Schulz and I had agreed on needing to agree on what titles we would publish
we agreed to Nonsense and Happiness – but not Der Hausierer, or it would exist in English and not just in the various Romance languages, in translation.
On the taxi drive back from B.A.M. Handke mentioned that the director was “very dark.” I questioned that appraisal, and Handke qualified it as “At least very German.” From that I gathered that Handke thought in ethnic nationalist categories, although what he meant by very German – Handke has both a German father and stepfather – did not become clear to me until Martin Walser pointed out to me that you drove as I had noticed German drivers drive on the Autobahn to his place on the Bodensee after you had lost two World Wars. Handke must have offended Schulz aside not being complimentary about the production. I never asked. Walser’s is as good a way of putting it as any I suppose, or Enzensberger pointing out that the same energies that had gone into Stalingrad were now employed in the “economic miracle.” Handke if you read him halfway closely certainly knows his own dark sides.
I took the threesome to Elaine’s which had been a home away from home in its earliest obscure days x-mas 1965. I even had my wedding reception there, but failed to give one for my first divorce. At least Libgart and I could flirt under the table while the other two-some was engrossed in to me obscure literary talk. Handke then took a photo of L. + Kolleritsch and me with our arms around each other’s waists after we were done at Elaine’s, but did not feel like walking the two miles to the Algonquin.
During the visit it became apparent that the Austrian threesome regarded my apartment as something of a crash pad, a matter I had not considered when giving in to Siegfried Unseld’s – typical as I would find out - but sans bouquet imprecations. It also became apparent that Handke and Kolleritsch were a close-knit twosome entirely involved in each other’s talk about literary matters, and that Libgart – who did a wonderful “descending the staircase” a la Ride Across Lake Constance for me - at the curved long staircase of the Austrian cultural center was neglected and insulted. I was recently divorced, on my second post divorce affair, and ready for a third or  simultaneous third… and I realized that it was only a question of little time before she would split; she was a woman not a French saint. If I had had money… but if I had had money I would not have been the Suhrkamp agent although I would certainly have translated Handke, and have had another woman adventure of my own, I had fallen into translating as one way so as not to be an employee, and had escaped academe, the grim prospect of being a lifelong member of a German department had made me go dead and spend some time in Alaska. Happening to meet a fellow translator Joachim Neugroeschel, Handke subsequently expressed how nauseatingly ugly he found him to be, as N. then turned out to have the character to go with his physiognomy, and I realized Handke’s sensitivity to all kinds of beauty. The threesome attended a play with Lauren Bacall and Handke expressed his disappointment with what had become of someone whom he knew as an actress on the screen. During a small party that I gave for Hankde and to which I invited  Richard Gilman and Stanley Kaufmann, the first two critics to back his work in the USA, Handke – he and the two critics and I were a small group discussing I unfortunately forget exactly what – Handke suddenly turned away and hunkered down next to my record player – an escape into a juke box as it were – and put on I think a Beatles record. That must have been one of those episodes that he would later describe as being “autistic” – some kind of insufferable literary talk it must have been. Once the party goers had split Handke seemed relieved into being insulting to me, calling me a faggot – perhaps he was still thinking of the pass that Ginsberg made at him via me  – Libgart, who might have pointed to herself, elided the touchy moment by citing the just departed flaxen-haired affair who had to attend her darling children. It so happens that both Handke and I have adopted certain habits from the most influential figures in our early life, e.g. I hold a cigarette just like my mother. I don’t think I have ever had the kind of compensatoiond that drive Handke in that respect, say as the kind of “Stürmer”-like photos he has taken and propagates of himself.
On returning from their 21 day venues in 28 tour through Los Estados Unidos Norte, Handke asked me if I could guess from whom they had got an autograph on their flight to Atlanta… this is the sort of thing why I hate crossword puzzles, and I threw up my hands: Muhamed Ali, Cassius Clay it had been.
Then Kolleritsch collapsed on my marriage bed with a tachycardia, Libgart, too, was exhausted and got the daybed in my work room, and was regarded with great desire [geliebaeugelt] as the genius, whom the trip seemed to have energized – later I would find out what it might have been  – wanted to know the nearest magazine shops. It turned out that my venue actually had two of the best in the city within just a few blocks, Rizzolis and the one in a nearby Hotel Carlton - t’would have been enough time for a quickie I suppose – I imagine to see if there was news about him or photos in the European magazines or papers. In the late 80s,on the West Coast a second time, I then found out that as part of his reading tour Handke had roundly cussed his audience for being stupid, at UC Riverside departed with a woman not his wife, the boorish behavior earned him a demerit from sweetheart Donald Daviau who then didn’t do a special Handke issue of the Austrian Review or whatever it is called that may still be published by Ariadne Press. I imagine the cussing persists, certainly Handke did it once more when he and Wenders addressed some folks I think it was at Berkeley in 1978, so a friend reported many years later. I eventually concluded that this cussing is as it were first nature to his autism, Mr. Tourette is a kissing cousin of that syndrome, id not just due to having had that old cusser Sivec for a grandfather. What is funny is Handke calling his curses “sacred,”  sacred rage, sacred fury! Ah the things we tell ourselves! That one month visit then made for the brilliant Short Letter, Long Farewell where the “German writer” is pursued by a wife who threatens to kill him.

E] Subsequently I must have seen Handke half a dozen times in Paris at the Rue Montmorency, and once in Meudon where he wrote Left-Handed Woman; thus recognizing the accurate description of the undulating Paris from that vantage point. Whereas I had really fancied the mysterious semi-basement flat at Rue Montmorency, the little Gruenderzeit Castle – fieldstone and stucco – in Meudon/ Clamart reminded me of post-1870 constructions along the Mosel, fieldstones and stucco and do-daads, highly polished floor, we went outside at once. Handke mentioned that everyone had been a smoker when Left-Handed Woman was filmed, totally on location as it were, and he had started to smoke too. No doubt I reeked of Camels or some black tobacco Frenchie.
What seemed odd was that although Handke was eager to see me, these visits scarcely ever lasted longer than five minutes, and ended with his saying, be sure to come or call again; and that you were never offered as much as a glass of water – as a city walker I usually walked there from wherever on the left bank. A shame in retrospect that he was not living in  Chaville already, I would not have minded going out at once, as is done with the closest friends now, for a mushrooming expedition, I don’t think there was an outdoor restaurant nearby. As you then read Weight of the World you realize that Handke was nearly always writing. In his correspondence with Kolleritsch I am described as having been pleasantly boring, unless it be someone to whom I am extremely close it has always taken me a while to warm up, a shame that there was no chessboard out, I had gotten back up to seed during the Fischer-Spassky match. And had I realized that I ought to have come with a camera crew… and would do an interview for Croatian T.V. he would no doubt have cooked up a feast. But the world is a discoverer and you discover who you and the others are only during the course of time. According to the letters to Kolleritsch, months go by and the only person he sees is his Portuguese cleaning woman, I was puzzled by the troubled books he wrote starting with Sorrow Beyond Dreams, A Moment of True Feeling, at the end of one of these visits he gave me a copy of the book that contains the three long poems of Nonsense and Happiness [Als das Wuenschen noch geholfen hat] and I recall starting to scratch away at the translation at a garden restaurant proximate the Luxembourg airport [I flew Air Icelandic] and the landed gentry who had his rendevouz with his affair there. Once after one of these visits, when I had taken Handke up on this “call again” he confessed that he had exposed himself to the Austrian groupie who had been there when I arrived, and that she had blushed [what if she had not?], and that he did this when he felt a little bit diabolic. Later you read in Across[[the 1984 Chinese des Schmerzens] what a pleasure it is to its protagonist Loser to expose himself to the world. Handke’s entire oevre can also be regarded as an act of self-exposition, an acting out.
There also was one outing with the Austrian cultural attaché in Paris to the Bois de Boulogne, who had a daughter Amina’s age, about which I am presently drawing a blank. What did he think of A Moment of True Feeling I have always wondered, and Keuschnig. During one visit Amina showed off a brooch that Jean Moureau had given her, and I berated myself for having been so thoughtless as to forget to bring her something. During another I brought along my then pal Jerry Leiber and his then wife Barbara Rose to discuss the music that I proposed might do the reception of They Are Dying Out a lot of good. Handke mentioned that he did not do “Singspiel” and eventually Leiber, as he did so often, pulled out after trying to shoehorn some fine leftovers from previous pullouts into the play. Lots of fine Sunday brunches lox and bagel and Mike Stoller at the Mews on Patchin Place though. I don’t think Leiber wrote another song after 1975. After Leiber and wife had split Handke mentioned how nauseatingly ugly he had found Barbara – the second time that he would also prove to be right about someone’s character. Closely reading and writing a  long commentary on Handke’s magnificent Don Juan [as told by himself] recently
it occurred whether Handke knows beautiful ugly, for that exists, too. Barbara Rose sure was just ugly through and through.
 In the early seventies, between jobs, I took a six month trip on a freighter halfway around the world and back, and completed a lot of translations, among them of Quodlibet and from Innerworld. I recall sending Handke the Quodlibet, which had posed some interesting translation challenges for this Joycean, from I think it was Savanna, Georgia, the first port of call back in the U.S.S.R. but with the briefest of notes since the keys on the brand new type-writer keys were painfully stiff still. I then managed to get Innerworld done as an editor at Continuum Books, which however did not publish novels or plays. The second volume of Handke plays was done by Farrar, Straus in the mid-seventies, I had a fine editor whose name escapes me, he went on to run Scribners. Kalfin had turned down Dying Out for the reason that it was like “today’s headlines” – the hopeless ideologies of the American avant garde, there is a way of regarding it as a language game by other means, and as a continuation of Ride Across Lake Constance which was done at the Vivian Beaumont in 1971 or 72 I think. Dying then wasn’t done until 1979 at the Yale Drama, the producer’s son had seen a performance of it, I think in Bucharest and told his Dad about it. Weird how these things worked.

In the mid-70s I made a mistake I would not again and suggested to the then girlfriend that she might look up Handke on her way back from Africa. She was not the great passion, but actually something more precious, the great fondness – what you take away with you, aside these broken relationships, is that you can install a figure like that in the pantheon of your heart, or find out that that position is reserved for someone. Shortly afterward Herr Handke showed up in New York, and I imagine I steered the conversation in that direction, and he mentioned that he “had not had a Frauen Abenteuer for a long time.” How long is long occurred to me at the time, but I took the great fondness, as I sought to keep her, no matter that I myself was engaged in another torrid passion, with me to the Algonquin, nothing seemed to be happening between the two, which also puzzled me. However, Handke forever after was regarded as quite dark, he seemed to have the capacity for instant forgetting, and I sought never to be alone with him, or as briefly as possible. However, around that time - 76 or 77 - there was also a time that I then took him and the person I tried to be that # 3, since he via Patricia Highsmith and Handke, had entered my existence, the writer Michael Brodsky along, as the inbetween, and took them to my local shoebox of a pool parlor watering hole dance spot, a tiny bar on Duane Street, called Barnabus Rex… I noticed that all that Handke and Brodsky could accomplish on the tiny space where you could dance was an awkward shuffle, later I read in Geschichte des Bleistifts that I seemed to be someone who could be both playful and serious; for sure, otherwise I would not have cottoned so to the melancholy player’s things. Initially, on entering, I introduced Handke to “Ace” the head bartender, who had started off as a directing student at NYU before directing at the nightly shoebox of a zoo that was Barnabus, and I always recall the big happy smile that came over Andreas Nowa’s face at that moment. I must have exuded the need for money for the firm, I had committed myself to the two other partners to introduce another 50 K into it, I had 20 on hand, two girlfriends offered 10 each without being asked, and that evening Handke, again without being asked, offered the remaining 10. And one big mistake I made, and it certainly was huge, was not to have gone to a lawyer in good time once I realized how right Handke had been how very dark Herr Schulz from Frankfurt was, and to be so grandiose as to think I could do it all on my own. The harder they come, and a fall can be most interesting. What if the other offers of serious money to put the firm on the kind of basis it needed had not instantly turned tail at one look at Schulz?  I might still be slaving away in behalf of all these vain writers – actually I preferred editing journalists, they were a lot less problematic than, say, Brodsky whose pain and suffering I then had to contain in my stomach regions.
    In 1978 Handke came to New York to write what became A Slow Homecoming. First came it was either the second or third brief trip to Alaska. At one point he left a green traveling leather traveling satchel in my office. I know that at some point he went to San Francisco to meet Wenders, and I recall his looking rather down upon returning from Colorado, that must have been when an Austrian sky instructor friend of his had died there, as in Chapter III of Homecoming. We had a fine walk across the Brooklyn Bridge near x-mas time while a light snow was falling, of great benefit to the general aesthetics of New York, not that the Brooklyn Bridge really needs any help – to see Brodsky, the inbetween. I was busy with the firm’s struggles and the contentiousness with the partner, worked till late at night and then went dancing at the clubs, Mudd and CBGBs and if I had regarded Handke as a friend would certainly asked him along. I did not have a steady squeeze at that time and for some reason other the beautiful hussies, I was a male slut all right. So I saw him only once or twice more during what I couldn’t have imagined was a difficult period for him – wasn’t he the rabbit of writers who produced a yearly litter? His then editor at Farrar, Straus, Nancy Meiselas then told me that Handke had told her that he had fucked up the book. Well, not the first two chapters for sure. Even though it had been I who had alerted Handke to the wonders of winter in Alaska, no one sent me a copy of the book. I did not pick it up until I was in Vienna on my return from for week’s in his majesty’s service in Bulgaria, and the first chapter became an event. I myself was flying quite high at that time, something had kicked in during my visit to Plodviev, it felt as though it was the air there, enriched by that dark loamy soil of the region. I was one train late to Salzburg that November day, I would have stayed longer in Bulgaria, they wanted me to, but I was supposed to meet a love in Vienna, who then appeared to have got cold feet, and wanted to be back in New York to vote against Reagan. I was one train late to Salzburg, and have written up that most interesting of visits at:
And so don’t need to again here. I have also written up the account of what became involved in translating Handke’s Walk about the Villages and it can be found at:
It was a lot that became involved and that rich work left me like a husk; and it became a heart test that nearly everyone I showed it to failed. Handke’s ear so far has been the only one that detected the cutting mood I had been in when shouting out the final version on one of those vacations from analysis. A text of that kind in that kind of situation makes for deep verbal cathexes. You would think that two people who had come so close during that translation work that I had entirely forgotten about a now half a decade old act of darstardliness. However, publication became problematic, and being in fine fighting fettle, and a lot less polite than I had been swaddled at one time, hit the bastards on their toes… and for some reason Handke felt that my fighting for his/ our work in such fighting fashion was something that could not be done to him, the association with someone who fought that sharply I imagine. And since I never liked to be threatened, the threat of abrogation of friendship – where that friendship on my part only extended to the work, as it continues to -  elicited a comment to the effect of “aren’t we ever lucky despite the great fondness and if I had had the money I might have run away with L.” and Handke proved to be as “humorless as death” and on writing that had forgotten that the layabroad being left by his first wife had been “the worst thing that ever happened to me in my life.” It appears he had not learned the lessons from the being left, who appears to function best alone in the Forest of Chaville. I eventually made Donald Daviau at Ariadne a gift of the great work and Donald broke his promise to send galleys to Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, thus with Ariadne as its publisher scarcely knows that it exists. In the German language area, too, I think Handke had far great expectations of it. So sometimes author and translator have to be satisfied with the pride of being able to bring something off on that order. Melancholy prevails.



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experience." Walter Benjamin, the essay on Leskov.


Anonymous said...


"Serbia made itself an independent state - according to its constitution of 28 September 1990 - a year before Slovenia and Croatia proclaimed their own independence on 8 October 1991. Milošević’s propaganda has obscured this fact, claiming instead that the cause of the war was a ‘struggle against secessionism’. This was done out of fear of foreign intervention: Milošević was supposedly seeking to preserve ‘the territorial integrity of SFRJ’, rather than waging a war of aggression against other states.

For, according to Article 72 of the 1990 Constitution of the Republic of Serbia: ‘The Republic of Serbia decides and ensures: the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia, its international position and relations with other states and international organisations’, as well as ‘the defence of the security of the Republic of Serbia’ (with, according to Article 83, ‘armed forces which in peace and war are commanded by the President of Serbia’).

In accordance with this, Serbia by Article 135, para. 2 of the Constitution excluded itself from the legal system of SFRJ, whose laws henceforth did not apply to it. This provision inscribed Serbia’s right ‘to respect’ at its own will federal laws only when ‘this is in its interest’. This clause is rightly known as si volam (by my will), and it acts to negate every obligation undertaken under such conditions. If I have the right to behave as I will, then I have no obligation.

Soon after this, true to its independence and sovereignty, Serbia adopted a series of laws from the sphere of the former federation’s authority whereby it regulated its own credit and monetary policy and its own regulation of prices; imposed taxes on goods imported from abroad (including former SFRJ republics); and suspended a number of laws whose purpose was to implement former federal legislation. According to the laws of SFRJ (which Milošević was allegedly defending), the Serbian constitution and legislation alike constituted most serious criminal acts. By adopting this constitution, however, Serbia became sovereign and independent, hence outside the jurisdiction of the former SFRJ, so that no one could have taken legal action against those acts.

Karadžić made it clear on several occasions that nothing of what he had done would have been possible without Serbia. The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was a typical ‘war by proxy’, conducted by the independent and sovereign Serbia by means of a mercenary ‘army of Republika Srpska’ and paramilitary bands recruited in Serbia, which included, of course, the Serbian UDB [security service]. Milošević supplied the necessary funds by stealing from the Serbian state budget.

The ‘civil war’ story has in any case been finally and unambiguously rejected by the practice of the Tribunal to date. Any defence of this story has become a hopeless undertaking."


Thank you for your comment "Anonymous", although why you want to remain so with a perfectly sensible comment, only you know. I will look at the legal situation in the detail that you mention. Under the rubric "national interest" any state and often perpetrates no end of crimes, vide Bush and Co. most recently in this country. if you take a look at the position i arrived at on the disintegration, you will note that I find that the blame game is pointless in a situation where the federation had become a tinderbox and each tribe and religion where forming new units. the western economic warfare wages against all communist statesd
ought not to be neglected as a factor, nor how useless Yugoslavia had become to the US with the end of the Cold War, which actually was quite heated in spots, Vietnam, Afghanistan. What choice did the Serbians have but to take the nationalist with all the other tribes doing the same? All of it is beastly, no? xxx michael roloff


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MICHAEL ROLOFF exMember 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