Alex Caldiero Responds to Our REPETITIONS

Dear Zarko and Scott,

after some time spent with your book, Repetitions, I wanted to respond, not in any complete way, but in a series of observations which I hope you may find helpful as you reflect on that work as it leads and interconnects with work that comes after it.

It was only after deciding to read the book one date at a time—as each of you separately made observations—that there began to form a deeper kind of repetition that time spent traveling doesn’t permit.

Given your remarkably diverse approaches to language and to seeing, your lives could only touch in an impossible friendship.  And yet, there you are, together inside the dimension of those pages, bound, talking to each other in ways that are rare and wonderful.

Zarko, your words are awkward and raw. You live in a world of solidities. The senses.

It was only by going back and forth, day by day, that I could see each of you seeing and saying what each of you individually only partly can articulate. And this dynamism has its own strain of repetitions that crystalize so I see the same thing differently from each one of you and I wonder where is Peter in all of this back and forth, going into and out of, place following place, spaces ever occupied with what you both cannot possibly contain in any of your philosophies?

I close the book because the pages are getting in the way of my reading.  I sit in the fallout. Scott, your descriptions bring me no closer; Zarko, your inscriptions give me nothing of what is out-in there. When you both leave a locality, it goes on without you and that is reason enuf never to write again. For what writing can capture and release is ever inferior to what happened to Peter as he is gone forever out of himself. Mallarme’s words come back to me with a vengeance: every thing exists to end up in a book.

If a piece of writing gets me to write, that is the best that writing can ever hope to accomplish. What in Peter’s writing got you to write? What in your own writing is getting me to write? That mystery is at the heart of writing and IS writing itself. Each of us knows this intuitively, yet it takes a lifetime to know it out loud, to say it to others. It takes even longer to write it out where everybody can see it for themselves. 

The jig is up, once you publish.

I like this game of hide and seek….flip to 22 May 1989 (in Zarko’s); flip to 22 May (in Scott’s). Day after day, at random or in a series…I am enjoying this book. It involves me. I’m collaborating in a search, in a way of seeing, and in a manner of  speaking. I no longer think about how you both would want me to approach this joint work of yours. I don’t care any more. I’m on a roll. Traveling with you. I want to write my own version of the day’s activities….did I say version? No. Make that my own “vision” of the scenery and occurrences, of the people…is this another form of repetition? No time to think about that…flip to 19 May (in Scott’s)…read…note what’s happening….flip to 19 May 1989 (in Zarko’s)…read…note…I continue this…a narrative whose dialectics keep me moving.  What am I doing there with you? You will not understand Handke this way. You will not encounter him in his own past. He lives in books as much as you. A book is a time-space machine.

…Handke’s ghost walks into the room of your book. The words are in languages he cannot read. Nevertheless, he sits in an easy chair and attempts to read what’s left of his life in the lives of both of you. Handke recognizes himself as a new creature…So, is this life after death? he wonders. You both must be wondering the same thing…there it is…it all exists to end up in a book.

I write in response:
Dear Alex,
I’m honored, deeply honored to have been read by you, to have been seen and felt by you.
Your reading, like our reading and traveling, doesn’t find what it is looking for. Your writing, like our own, simply acts. It does, it performs, it labors, it discovers (takes
the covers off) in acts of experience.
thank you, my friend.

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s