Reading Peter Handke, Part 2

30 May 2022

My Bookmark (from Tübingen’s Osiandersche Buchhandlung, in business since 1596!) takes me to page 40 of the new book Inner Dialogues. Handke never ends a note with a period; these thoughts open to new thoughts:

I don’t want to read anymore, I want to finally do something of my own. — Without reading you will never do something of your own

Summoning the dead, can that be done?—yes, if you also summon yourself

…Writing about my brother John after his AIDS-related death, I found I could only “summon” him, write about him meaningfully, if I also wrote about myself. “Summon” is a good word for this.

Writing as “craft”? Yes, but: letting the hidden artisan work within—without dealing with him openly

“One who strives for truth must learn to read works of literature” (Leon Schestow on Tolstoy)

…Standing in an aisle of the fine BYU bookstore (may it rest in peace), I was approached by someone who thought I worked there. “This is the fiction section,” he said. “Does that mean the books are true or not true?” “Fiction means truth,” I answered.

Adjective [Beiwort] for the flight path of some butterflies: “sumptuous”

A raven-black raven, solo, and I, solo, in the empty [menschenleer] pre-summer woods: peculiar company—but company

Example of synesthesia: the evening rain dropping into morning puddles, and I hear the intersecting circles as music, rain music

…Noonday rain strikes my study window and I smell the drops sliding randomly down the glass as what Germans call “rainworms”

One-Way Journey […into the Interior, subtitle of The Fruit Thief—many notes for the novel in this section]: repeatedly the sudden shock of the Fruit Thief, to have no more time, completely unfounded, unfoundable—and then again, “from time to time,” she feels and knows herself woven into the great, the HIDDEN [hintergründige] world, the real affairs of the world (not “world history”!)?— Yes, woven into, and even more powerfully—and yet eternally fleetingly—“worked into” 

“What rescued Tolstoy from despair in the most terrible moments of his life, that was not reason” (Schestow)

Guard against knowing! Guard against being someone who has come to know something and stands around and ruins the view for others 

To form, to structure, to give rhythm: to immortalize

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
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