David Albahari / Žarko Radaković
Das Buch über Musik
Zwei Serben, der eine in Calgary,
der andere in Köln, korrespondieren
The Book about Music
Two Serbs, the one in Calgary, the other in Köln, correspond about music
The current issue of the literary journal Schreibheft includes an excerpt from the book, translated into German by Mirjana and Klaus Wittmann.
I’ll translate a couple of passages from their German to give a taste of what I think is an extraordinary exchange between two remarkable writers.
For a long time I have wanted to be several people. One of them is Žarko Radaković. . . .
Every writing project is simultaneously a reading project. As I read Žarko, I also read myself; while I wrote about myself, I wrote simultaneously about Žarko. . . .
In fact I always write new pages spasmodically, in a desperate attempt to hold back the writing down of thoughts, ideas, and messages. I am actually a machine of destruction, a poisoner of language, a conspirator who wants to thrust a dagger into his own breast. (Why dagger, someone asks, why not a sword? Because the dagger, I answer, forces on to approach the victim very closely and, if one dares, to look into his eyes.)
Although I prefer to hear music alone, for listening with someone else is always part of a complicated plan or experiment, today there was no problem as we listened to the CDs of “Combustication.” (…)
Stillness. Just pure listening. Even without tapping a foot in simple, even rhythm. That is (Handke’s) “pure feeling.” To paint oneself in the face of the other; or the painting of the other in one’s own face; or all that at once. . . .
For Žarko, moments in common, common experiences are extraordinarily important because they can be a foundation or inspiration or stimulus for new events, for new confrontations with oneself and with one’s own artistic work, with everything, then, what one is or is not. Especially with what one is not. . . .
Since David Albahari and I have given in to the “adventure” of writing about the experience of music, the “logic” of writing as the transfer of “experience” into a text has become more clear to me: the recognition that writing is a balancing act between the direct and the artificial experience of the world. . . .
But Žarko couldn’t come!
I put off the conversation about marijuana and its influence on health for another time. In the club where the reggae band “Groundation” was appearing, there was a distinct scent of grass, although smoking was forbidden. . . .
Put simply, she said, she felt like another person, as if she were reborn, as if she were seeing the world with better eyes and a more discerning eye. And I though, who knows what Žarko would have experienced in her place.
But Žarko couldn’t come!
Unfortunate, oh, how unfortunate!