Category Archives: Handke

Kinship with the world

Something else had surprised him: that with his first running steps the surroundings, which had receded from him until nothing remained but a number of vanishing points – nothing there for him to look at! – were again surrounding him protectively. Where previously he had seemed to be passing the backs of things, he now saw details, which seemed to exist for him as well as for others. – Running again, Keuschnig noticed glistening puddles in the gravel beside the freshly watered potted trees and in that moment he had a dreamlike feeling of kinship with the world. He stopped still outside the entrance and shook his head as though arguing against his previous disgruntlement. Now he was able to look freely in all directions. Before going in, he cast a last hungry glance over his shoulder to make sure he had missed nothing. How his surroundings had expanded! It took free eyes to see them so rich – so benevolent. Now the sky with its low-lying clouds seemed to be sharing something with him.

– Handke, A Moment of True Feeling (tr. Manheim)

Merge

To be alone; to be with children; to be with grownups; with me, unfortunately, one of these situations does not easily merge with the next (whereas for some women it is all so natural).

— Handke, The Weight of the World (tr. Manheim)

At last it’s getting serious

It must finally become serious. I’ve often been lonely, but I’ve never lived alone. When I was with someone I was often happy, but at the same time it all seemed left to chance. These people were my parents, but they could just as well have been others. Why was this brown-eyed boy my brother and not the green-eyed boy on the opposite platform? The taxi driver’s daughter was my friend, but I might as well have put my arm round a horse’s neck. I was with a man, I was in love and I might as well have left him there and gone off with the stranger I met in the street. Look at me, or don’t. Give me your hand, or don’t. No, don’t give me your hand, look away. I think there’s a new moon tonight. No night more peaceful. No bloodshed anywhere in the city. I’ve never played games with anyone, and yet I’ve never opened my eyes and thought: now it’s serious. At last it’s getting serious. So I’ve grown older. Was I the only one who wasn’t serious? Is it our times that aren’t serious? I was never alone, either when I was on my own or with others. But I would have liked to have been alone at last. To be alone means: I’m whole at last. Now I can say it: tonight I’m alone at last. I must put an end to coincidence. The new moon of decision. I don’t know if there’s such as thing as destiny, but there is such a thing as a decision. Decide! Now we are the times. Not only the whole town, but the whole world is taking part in our decision. We are now more than the two of us. We incarnate something. We’re sitting in the People’s Square and it’s full of people who are dreaming the same dream. We’re deciding the game for everyone. I’m ready. Now it’s your turn. You hold the game in your hand. Now or never. You need me. You will need me. There’s no greater story than ours, that of man and woman. It will be a story of giants, invisible, transposable, a story of new ancestors. Look, my eyes, they are the image of necessity, of the future of everyone in the Square. Last night I dreamt of a stranger, of my man. Only with him could I be alone, open up to him, completely open for him, welcome him completely into me, surround him with the labyrinth of shared happiness. I know you’re that man.

— Handke, Wim Wenders, Wings of Desire

Rules

Ordinarily, in times of idleness, he would stroll into town. But when concentrating on his work, he usually went to the outskirts – out into the wilderness; thus far, he had adhered to this rule. But did he actually have any rules? Weren’t the few that he had tried to impose on himself constantly giving way to something else – a mood, an accident, a sudden inspiration – that seemed to indicate the better choice? True, his life had been oriented for almost twenty years toward his literary goal; but reliable ways and means were still unknown to him. Everything about him was still as temporary as it had been in the child, as later in the schoolboy, and still later in the novice writer.

— Handke, The Afternoon of a Writer (tr. Manheim)

Contact

Ever since the time when he lived for almost a year with the thought that he had lost contact with language, every sentence he managed to write, and which in addition left him feeling that it might be possible to go on, had been an event. Every word, not spoken but written, that led to others, filled his lungs with air and renewed his tie with the world. A successful notation of this kind began the day for him; after that, or at least so he thought, nothing could happen to him until the following morning.

— Handke (via here)

Each in his own way

And so they all, each in his own way, reflectingly or unreflectingly, go on with their daily lives; everything seems to take its accustomed course, for indeed, even in desperate situations where everything hangs in the balance, one goes on living as though nothing were wrong.

— Goethe, Elective Affinities (quoted in Handke’s The Left-Handed Woman)