Sunday, January 02, 2011

A Translation of Einfach kompliziert by Thomas Bernhard

(For a PDF version of this translation, go to The Worldview Annex).

Simply Complicated

For Minetti

He was in the right: and so, indeed it is.
Richard III

A year [in the] Ludwig Pavilion
that humbled you
that almost could have cost you your head

Dramatis personae
HE, an old actor
KATHARINA, a nine-year-old

A run-down room

A chair at stage left, a chair by the wall at stage right
A window at stage right, a door at stage left
A table and chair
A chest
A chamber-pot
A bucket
An icebox
A tape-recorder on the floor

Scene One
Early in the day
HE in a shabby black suit and oversize felt slippers with buckles, and with a pair of spectacles hanging from his neck, is kneeling on the floor and nailing down a plinth
If anybody sees me here
in this pose
Contemplates the nail he has most recently hammered down
Complicity
A contempt for craftsmen
Looks around
We have all allowed our talents
to waste away
signalized for askewness
doctored in mathematics
Guest of honor on the Isle of Man
Devoured along with the viceroy by Indians
contemplates the nail he has most recently hammered down
One more tap
one tap more
hits the nail
Mice
Who would have imagined
How we have dwindled here
there used to be no mice in the Hanssachsstrasse
The mice are holdovers
Everyone died off
without exception
first my sisters
then my brother
First a phobia about hats
then hats
made to order
No medical problem
I said
they did not believe me
I had always been punctual
A dependability fanatic
Kept every appointment
Brought punctuality to a science
Never unpunctual
Either we go to seed
or we are punctual
A chronology of death
first Grandfather
then Grandmother
then Mother
then Father
every year a sister
then my brother
looks around
Made of dust
I have outrun stupidity
Curricular
Extracurricular horror
But if we had not had our seizures
lifts the hammer high into the air and looks around
My heart made into a den of thieves
Intellectual experience
No temperament for ministration
lets his hand and the hammer fall, exhausted
We concoct ourselves our own unhappiness
Like an unappetizing soup
and spoon it up
voraciously
glances at the door
A matter of taste he said
I have figured out his game
We love our brother to the end of our life
even if at every moment we hate him
must hate him
must
glances at the window
The word capitulation
never spoken
never given up
Up in my head
contemplates the nail he has most recently hammered down
In principle
I have always been a gourmet
naturally not
in the primitive sense
A spiritual gourmet
Everyone wasted away
Not I
Everyone has died off
Not I
I am a genius
I have always said to myself
in the face of all assertions to the contrary
We despair quite early on
Capitalized despair
made out of despair
into a genius
When falsehood dominates everything
genius develops unobtrusively
I am no idiot
I said
I am intractable
but no idiot
tries to stand up, but fails
Studied in France at the Sorbonne
at Göttingen
at Cambridge
everything of no avail
A despiser of books
A degenerator of knowledge
A demolisher of character
tries to stand up, but remains kneeling and glances at the door
The summers
were propitious
when I let myself go
they were bored to death
while I developed philosophically
I wrote maxims
while they digested their pork
philosophical noises throughout
looks around
Always played the role of the maker of unhappiness
tried to tell the truth
and walked with falsehood along the street
A conspiracy first against my parents
then against the others
a court jester's existence
strikes two more hammer blows, completely exhausted, on the nail he has most recently hammered down, and then glances at the window.
They all died off
all
not I
They died
I walked with a vigorous gait
I bought myself a book
they hated me
But reading is supersensual
Waste of time
Two whole years
spent with only Shakespeare
and with Schopenhauer
We tolerate nothing else
we imprison ourselves with Shakespeare
and with Schopenhauer
we positively cannot stand music
Tries to stand up, but remains kneeling
Did not abandon pleasure, naturally
but elasticity
sang "The Crow"
At the age of eighteen  
Made a show of myself with Schubert
Italian arias with great sympathy
They naturally did not think
That I would go ahead with everything
They shook their heads
I walked out
And had left them behind me
A tenacity fanatic
Stands up and stretches
I have always loathed
Commonplaceness
Always loathed beer-drinkers
Clear-water fanaticism
Goes to the window and looks out and turns around and glances at the door
Given up my desires
But I have not
given up myself
We owe nothing to anyone
Everyone owes everything to us
But we owe nothing to anyone
Too lazy
even to cook their own hot soup
too lazy
even to cut their own bread
too lazy
even to open The World as Will and Idea
We could do everything for ourselves
we do not dream of doing it
You go your way
I said
I will go my way
you all go your way
while I go my way
the opposite way
that is it
Too lazy
To cook their own chicken soup
We want to go to bed
and are too lazy to do so
We have uncovered ourselves in the night
and we are practically freezing to death
and are too lazy
to pull the covers over ourselves
Hated my father
Hated my mother
Hated the merry-go-round
Hated sauerkraut
Hated squeaky doors
Set traps
and waylaid Grandmother
and didn't eat beef
Childhood shoved us off
walks over to the nail he has most recently hammered down and contemplates it
looks around
caught by surprise in this laughable state
by surprise by surprise
Ordinarily on Sunday she wore
her blue dress
that I had bought her in Konstanz
she worried
she might grow out of the dress
at the age of seventy-six she worried about this
A woebegone character
At the age of seventy-six she accused me of lying
Everything invariably acquired
at my expense
Later on in the spring an incessant compulsion to talk
hammers at the nail he has most recently hammered down
after a pause
Buy mouse-poison
stands up and walks to the table and lays the hammer down and takes a notepad out of the chest and writes on it
"Buy mouse-poison"
Buy mouse-poison
Looks around, looks at the writing-pad
A hundred-twenty-three mice
from the third of January to the twenty-fourth of December
walks to the bed and bends down to the chamber-pot standing there and carries it out of the room while coughing, flushes the toilet, and immediately comes back in with the empty chamber-pot.
Buy mouse-poison
places the chamber-pot under the bed, walks to the window
and looks out
Practically nothing more to do with it
It is no longer of any concern to us  
not of the slightest
turns around and glances at the door
She defamed me
she simply gave the knife a twist
We have not been left unpunished
by the world  
leans on the wall and glances at the door
dull-witted thirst for knowledge
Paper war horribly conclusive
walks to the table, sits down, opens the drawer and takes out a newspaper and a large daguerreotype of Schopenhauer and sternly contemplates the daguerreotype
Led astray yet again to lechery
to spiritual lechery
picks up the hammer and a nail and stands up and hammers the nail into the wall and hangs the daguerreotype of Schopenhauer takes three steps back and contemplates the daguerreotype of Schopenhauer
It makes no difference
whom we follow
no difference
takes another two steps back
If we inherit from our grandfather
nothing but Schopenhauer
we can consider ourselves fortunate
in every situation
always hated
the so-called primeval philosophy
turns round and glances at the door and exclaims
To paint
what kind of a madman
thought to paint this place
one would really have to be mad
to put up paint here
clutches at his head
Mad
Mad
Mad
glances at the floor
When we are not even in a position
to have to do anything fearlessly
such that the stroke needed to drive in a single nail
gives us a stroke
exclaims
To paint
to paint
glances at the window and then at the
daguerreotype of Schopenhauer
Philosophical fornication
Waspish fortune-telling
World-adulteration
World-swinification
Because we have inherited
our grandfather's daguerreotype
we hang it on the wall
always yet again we hang it on the wall
until we are dependent on it
goes to the table and sits down and looks
at the floor
A lifelong malheur
A lifelong philosophical malheur
If we still had a manager
we could take him to task
but we no longer have a manager
Mr Manager, I say
enfranchise me from Schopenhauer
enfranchise me from Descartes also
and from Voltaire, Mr Manager
looks around
If we give names to the mice
we are doubtless insane
peers into the corners of the room in succession
Admiral Nelson
Admiral Dönitz
Field marshal Kesselring
or quite simply Hans
or Franz Josef
or Minna
stands up and goes to the plinth that he had nailed down earlier,
and inspects it, then
No more mouse-hole
No more mouse
looks around
We can say
That we in our life
more or less every two days
have caught a mouse
stands up
From now on we shall no longer catch them
we shall poison them
walks to the table and sits down and takes a book out of the drawer 
and reads
Very often poor mother
had an arduous time at breastfeeding
that is a fact
closes the book with a snap and places it in the chest
and closes the chest and
glances at the door
All the night through I thought
I would let the place be painted
Indeed I have even thought
about painting it myself
Overweening pride
Self overvaluation
We are already completely exhausted
when we hammer a single nail into the plinth
glances at the daguerreotype of Schopenhauer
We have a harder and harder time building momentum
Herr Schopenhauer
opens the drawer and lays the notepad inside it and shuts the drawer and opens it back up and takes out the notepad and writes "Buy mouse-poison" in it once again in large letters tears off the sheet with "Buy mouse-poison" written on it and stands up and sticks it on a nail in the wall, takes two steps back and reads
Buy mouse-poison
We must walk in the street
If we do not wish to go to seed
contemplates his feet
We are not currying favor at all
when we go outside
we are not currying favor
We say mouse-poison
and mean mouse-poison
one packet of mouse-poison I say
and I let myself pick up a packet of mouse poison
Out of impatience we must
throw a spanner in the works
a kangaroo-court trial mind you
Glances at the door then goes to the mirror and gazes into it
We do not ask
what is tolerable
we strive
for an attractive exterior
we recapitulate each day
our mental incapacity naturally
we shall not understand
we let it be
Enlightenment is nonsense
draws quite close to the mirror, nearly touches the mirror with his chin
No beauty
I have strived all my life
For a proper tongue-position
How is Amsterdam correctly pronounced
in contrast to Rotterdam
Memel Etsch Belt
that was it
Gaiety moderated
but not excessively
Philosophical
but not excessively
The word cosmometropolitan
spoken three thousand eight hundred times
at the Hotel Krasnapolski
I did not respond to
what they were saying
but I did not hold myself back either
I have been to Moscow I said
I have been to Helsinki I said
I have been to New York I said
I have been to Saõ Paulo
At large gatherings I invariably stopped all conversation in its tracks
I do not understand the slightest thing about surrealism
I said
Bertrand Russell is a charlatan I said
Don't even mention Beethoven around me
I said
Bankers are all vultures I said
In my youth I played the double bass
naturally I said
not the piano
sticks his tongue out and draws it back in
Lourdes I said
cured me
after a certain fashion Fátima did even more so
With Cardinal Wischinski
I talked about Polish seeds
Allude to Schopenhauer as little as possible
I always thought to myself
turns around to face the door
Philosophical string-puller
Walks to the table, picks up the hammer, kneels before the plinth that he has just nailed down, and hits the nail that he has just hammered down
Inspects the plinth and says very quietly
super-distinctly
parochial
that is it
stands up and lays the hammer on the table
and sits down
If we no longer answer letters
we no longer receive  any
in thirteen years I have
not replied to a letter
looks around
Craziness
to subscribe to the newspaper
in order to study the help-wanted ads
at the age of eighty-two
picks up the newspaper and flips it open and reads
Hotel in Black Forest
seeks middle-aged butler
able-bodied
and with good manners
looks up from the newspaper and glances at the door


Scene Two
Towards noon

HE is sitting at the table, in shirtsleeves, with an old blanket wrapped
around his shoulders
Regimented work
they said
The element of the perverse in my thoughts
they hated
If I walked quickly
It was wrong
If I walked slowly
it was wrong
You a cripple and an actor
your father
you this good-for-nothing actor
your mother
she demanded altruism
takes a deep breath
In Badgastein the thunder of the waterfall drowned out
her chatter
Out of fear we drip
the first prize
out of fear
after a pause
I shall put it on
I shall put on the crown
stands up and walks to the chest and opens it
glances at the door
I last put it on in March
On the twenty-seventh of March
it was raining
first there was rain
then heavy snowfall
bends down and pulls out of the chest a crown and walks with the crown to the door and back and looks out of the window and walks back to the door and puts the crown on.
Possibly mistaken
in this constitution
no scruples whatsoever
presses the crown down on his head
Firmer
presses the crown more firmly down on his head
Firmer
presses the crown even more firmly down on his head
Firmer still
presses the crown even more firmly down on his head
First we get upset
Then we calm down
No it was not by chance
that the idea occurred to me
I said
I was already an actor
before I got the idea
In my mother's belly
I was already Richard the Third
looks around
No glass cage
Running in the wrong direction means death
presses the crown down on his head
When my head begins to bleed
the crown has been properly placed
when my head begins to bleed
presses the crown as firmly as possible down on his head and presses it even more firmly, while he positions himself in front of the mirror.  After a pause
Constantly spurned
with too much pallor in my face
Played opposite everyone
Never thrust myself into the foreground
We cannot say
that we are content
We undertake a journey
and arrive completely spent
We leave the house
and come back destroyed
Nor do we make telephone calls anymore
we have canceled our telephone service
canceled it
Kept the newspaper subscription
but canceled the telephone service
Too much pallor in my face
Always rejected
Everyone has always time and again
become entangled in contradictions
The art of acting
Terrorism
We have believed nothing
but accepted it as true
and have spat it out
spat it out
spat it out
spat it out
spits on the floor
looks into the mirror again
All week long
learned how to cough
the way a king coughs
coughs
Learned how to cough
We listened
what we heard
was useless
convinced of everything
primitive mathematics
high art
all useless
while we prepared ourselves supper
we thought
what we have heard all day
is useless
heard nothing but nonsense
all our life
makes a grimace at the mirror
Always time and again made a grimace
an unseemly one
already the born grimace-maker
as a child
turns round and glances at the window
And then suddenly the entire grand
Classical attitude
Looks into the mirror again and sticks his tongue out
We exist only
If we are so to speak
the center of the world
walks to the table and sits down while pressing the crown firmly down on his head
fell ill for a single scene
bedridden for a year
on account of this single scene
Always put the crown on
without advancing any farther
Even though I did not know
why everything was crumbling around me
Thought too much about Shakespeare
when I was acting Shakespeare
thought too much about the crown
when I was playing Richard III
thought too much about the art of acting
when I was acting
We are not permitted to think about the art of acting
when we are acting
we are not permitted to think about Shakespeare
when we are acting Shakespeare
we wear the crown
but we are not permitted to think
we are king
A wretched dog that thinks
It is a wretched dog
Cogitated much too much
Recapitulated much too much
Traveled around much too much
Believed
I had to get to know the continent
What nonsense
Fell ill for the whole year
On account of this single scene
And can never explain what the art of acting is
people ask
we answer
but know nothing
presses the crown firmly down on his head
Under the crown I calm down
I would have even acquired the costume
if I had expressed the desire
I wanted the crown
They thought
I would die at seventy
but I am fully eighty-two
they thought
they were celebrating my sixtieth birthday
as my last birthday
but they even had to celebrate my eightieth
I wanted to have the crown
Not the costume
I am myself alone
do you understand
I had expressed the desire
and I have acquired the crown
Posterior slyness
I have always
said of myself
Shiftiness
stands up and goes to the previously nailed-down plinth
bends down and inspects the plinth
Even of craftspeople
we have had our fill
Precisely even
of the so-called simple people
the complicated ones we always hated
but now we also hate the simple ones
we tolerate either the complicated
or the simple
When we walk along the street
they all make us sick
that is the truth
presses the crown down on his head
Truth fanatic
But injustice is everywhere
like falsehood
inspects the plinth
To paint
What madness
When I am hardly capable anymore
Of making myself a cup of tea
Twenty years I have thought
I shall paint one more time
looks around
but I shall never paint again
it satisfies me
as it is
looks at the ceiling
It really is all the same
Whether it is painted again
Or not
I no longer notice
Whether it has been painted
Or not
Thought about it
For twenty years
After her death I shall paint
I thought
Twenty years
Now
That nobody comes anymore
Two days before her death
She was still saying
I had become malicious
I was by now not only weird
But also malicious to boot
glances at the door
our son was to have been named
Sebastian
But Rodrigo I said
is a fine name
I begged her
then there was a miscarriage
So many sisters
and only one brother
and all of them degenerates
irresolutely grown up
suddenly deceased
They left me behind
with this familial shambles
Tries to stand up but does not succeed
The catastrophic thing of course was
that I towered over all of them
in spiritual hindsight
I was ill
I was thoroughly ill
but I towered over all of them
in spiritual hindsight
we loved ourselves
and hated ourselves
tries to stand up but does not succeed
A wholly contrarian
central nervous system
that was family-shattered throughout
stands up
A cardinal
they would have liked that
they hated
the acting profession
but I have always also hated it
walks to the mirror and peers into it
they left me alone
In the Thuringian forest
for three months
they gave not a thought to me
and I was not even eleven years old
We do not forgive them
we are incapable of doing that
our parents are unforgivable
The crime of being born
is unforgivable
There is a knock at the door
To himself
It is not without
hesitation
that we meet our fate
presses the crown firmly down on his head, turns around, and takes two steps towards the door
Relying on myself
I have broken off all
connections
in a whisper
Richard the Third
inadequate
perfectly inadequately
Unbearable meter
sloppily translated
There is a knock at the door
We wish to be left alone
and they will not leave us alone
We burn all our bridges behind us
and we are badgered
we wish to enjoy our peace
and people knock on our door
in a whisper
To be unapproachable
nobody's partner
There is a knock at the door
Grew old before their time
they all
died away
overnight
in a questioning tone, after a pause
Is that you Katharina

KATHARINA
It's me
Katharina

HE
Ah yes my child
Walks to the window and looks out the window and turns back around
One moment
just one moment
presses the crown firmly down on his head
I am just reading in a book
Schopenhauer
Schopenhauer
walks to the bed and sits down on it
Schopenhauer my child
Tries to take the crown off his head, but he does not take it off
One moment
he puts on the jacket
I am just putting on my jacket
I have read Schopenhauer
and am putting on my jacket
Why do you come now
we said eleven o'clock
it is now half-past one
Ah yes
one moment
he stands up and walks to the door and opens it
Katharina enters with a half-full jug of milk

HE
We think it is our evil genius, child
and it is our good one
Come in
I am the old actor
to whom you bring milk
every Tuesday and Friday
you bring the old actor milk
the old actor
who no longer associates with human beings
come in my child
Human beings are the cause
it is always human beings
Come in

KATHARINA enters as far as the middle of the room
HE still standing at the door
Human beings are horrible my child
and megalomaniacal
The whole of humanity is megalomaniacal
wherever we look
we see only a megalomaniacal humanity
we are in the midst
of a catastrophic ordeal of stultification
The crown yes the crown
irritates you
Richard the Third
I played him in Duisburg
and in Bochum
It was not a success
I loved the role
but I had no success with it
For my seventieth birthday
The municipal government of Duisburg presented me with
this crown
which I wore when I played the Richard the Third
This very crown
We enjoy no success
and yet we love the role
In Duisburg my child
In the theater at Duisburg I have played
Richard the Third
that naturally means nothing to you my child
come
give me the jug
he takes the milk-jug from Katharina
People who work in the theater
only look so serious
actually they are not
in a questioning tone
Are you afraid of me
In Duisburg I played
Richard the Third
As well as Don Carlos
the lot
walks with the milk-jug to the icebox, opens the icebox, takes a saucer out of it and fills it with milk from the jug
Every now and then
I enjoy
putting on the crown
puts the jug in the icebox and closes the door of the icebox
Crazy
aren't they
All actors are crazy
all good actors are crazy
the entire theater is crazy
Theater people
crazy people
The theater world
a crazy world
Won't you sit down

KATHARINA takes a seat at the table

HE sits down on the chair at the window
The actor has a crown on his head
but he is no king
the actor wears a coronation robe
but he is no king
the actor succeeds to the throne
but he is no king
presses the crown firmly down on his head
The actor
who has a crown on his head
is a poor old man
Has your mother given you permission
to let me take you to the opera
as I promised I would

KATHARINA shakes her head

HE
You see
I told you
she would not let me
take you to the opera
To The Magic Flute
That is the most wonderful experience for a child
her first trip to the opera
and especially to hear The Magic Flute
Perhaps later
Human beings are human agents of destruction
they thoroughly ruin
even their own child
before he can even properly breathe
presses the crown firmly down on his head
For over ten years
since my seventieth birthday
I have put on
this crown in the chest
every other Tuesday of the month
Do you like the crown

KATHARINA nods

HE
We have dignity
when we are wearing a crown
But it is thoroughly nonsensical
to put on a stage-crown
when one is an old actor
a ridiculous act
a ridiculous act
nothing but pure ridiculousness
addressing Katharina directly
Did you know
that I have acted in Duisburg
and in Osnabrück
Loud-mouthed fools
That means nothing to you
The art of acting
is a lethal art
I fear nothing more
Do you understand
I can do
what I want
I fear nothing more
laughs
Fear is perverse my child
where there is so much stupidity
addressing Katharina directly
Would you like some juice

KATHARINA answers in the affirmative

HE stands up and walks to the icebox and asks
Black-cherry juice

KATHARINA
Yes

HE opens the icebox and takes out a bottle of black-cherry juice and fills a glass with it and places it on the table
Wait a moment
And don't gulp it down all at once
lest you catch a cold
People are greedy
and greedily gulp everything down at once
he drags the chair away from the window and places it at the table and sits down opposite Katharina
You will see
everything
in the world is very complicated
It all looks very simple
but it is very complicated
everything is complicated
Presses the crown firmly down on his head
Human beings do not forgive
that is the unfortunate truth
human beings punish and do not forgive
How was your mathematics class today
was it good
KATHARINA nods
Carefully
One sip at a time
Drink slowly
eat slowly
and drink slowly
also read slowly
Today I have subsisted
more on Schopenhauer
than on water
I shall not paint
I told you I would paint
but I am not going to paint
looks around
I no longer even notice
whether it has been painted or not
I do not see the cracks in the wall at all
in a questioning tone
Are there many cracks
KATHARINA looks around
Probably
there are many cracks
It will surely be the death of me
if I repaint the room
Ten years before you were born
my wife died
Did I tell you that
her name was Katharina
the same as yours
She was very beautiful
very exacting
and very beautiful
looks at the ceiling
Meningitis
presses the crown firmly down on his head
The crown on my head
calms me down
in a questioning tone
How do I look
with the crown on
now
how do I look with the crown on

KATHARINA smiles

HE
Every second Tuesday of the month
I allow myself this joke
an old man
especially when he is old actor
may surely be allowed this joke
every second Tuesday of the month
Actors are like children
that is why you and I get along so well
stands up and walks to the piece of writing-paper on the wall on which he has written the phrase "Buy mouse-poison, and points to the piece of paper
Can you read what is written on that piece of paper

KATHARINA
Yes

HE
What is written there

KATHARINA
Buy mouse-poison

HE
Correct
Buy mouse-poison
He sits back down stands immediately back up and walks with the chair to the window
I no longer catch mice
I poison them
It disgusts me
to drown them in the bucket
For decades I drowned the mice in the bucket
now I poison them
he sits down
When my wife was alive
there was not a single mouse in the house
No sooner had she died
than the mice appeared
On the ground floor there are rats
It won't be long before the rats are here too
This house is a storehouse
for rats
It makes [no] difference
whichever direction we choose
we choose whichever direction
we made the wrong choice
he takes the crown off his head and clasps it firmly to his chest
Suddenly it makes no sense
to keep the crown on my head
this crown is heavier than a real one
real crowns worn by real kings
are not as heavy
I never keep it
on my head
for more than an hour
Apart from you
nobody has seen me
with this crown on my head
promise me
that you will tell nobody
that you have seen me with this crown
on my head
people used to believe
I was mad
An actor can manage
to put a crown on his head
without being mad
directly to Katharina
Come
I shall crown you

KATHARINA stands up and approaches him

HE
You must kneel down
you must be kneeling down when you are crowned

KATHARINA kneels before him

HE puts the crown on her head
How beautiful you are
with the crown on
thoughtfully
But girls like you
have never taken up a crown
It is ridiculous
suddenly shouting
Ridiculous ridiculous
it is ridiculous
it is ridiculous
he snatches the crown off her head

KATHARINA has jumped up

HE
Ridiculous
Ridiculous
ridiculous
Hurls the crown across the room
ridiculous
He collapses exhausted, then
I am not mad
naturally
I am not mad
The whole time
I had the crown on
I am completely spent
I am frightened
when you knocked
I thought
you were the people from the insurance company
from the property insurance company
I was expecting people
from the property insurance company
I am insured against burglary
is that not ridiculous
I am insured against burglary
I own nothing
but this shabby crown
and am insured against burglary
directly to KATHARINA
Come here
come here please
KATHARINA walks to him
He makes as if to touch her face, but then refrains
People have not understood
that I intend to have
nothing further to do with them
they come when they like
but I open the door to no one
Are you coming again next Friday
KATHARINA nods
I am now going to tell you something
in confidence
Pay attention
resolutely, super-distinctly, and yet softly
I do not actually like milk
and so I do not drink milk
but I wish to see you
every Tuesday and Friday
I wish to see you
do you understand that
Not a soul apart from you
has access to me
not a single one
I have always
hated milk
As soon as you leave
I always pour the milk
into the sink
milk disgusts me
But do not tell your mother that
You just tell everybody
the famous actor in the Hanssachstrasse
loves milk
and he drinks milk
he actually never eats or drinks anything
but milk
He takes her by the hand
My dear child
next Friday
bring me mouse-poison
so that I can poison all the mice
in this house

KATHARINA starts to leave

HE holds her back
Whenever I am there
Every day the famous actor in the Hanssachstrasse drinks milk
he exists only
because he drinks milk
say that to everybody
promise me you will
he gives Katharina the milk jug and she leaves
Throughout our existence
we impose upon ourselves
we act on a stage
he stands up and takes the bowl out of the icebox and empties the milk into the bucket
He listens for some time at the door and walks out with the bucket
He flushes the toilet

Scene Three

Towards Evening

HE is sitting in a shabby old dressing gown at the chair by the window/on the window-seat
was submissive
attentive
obliging
We rushed directly
into catastrophe
but we survived
Committed errors naturally
A year [in the] Ludwig Pavilion
that humbled you
that could have nearly cost you your head
looks around
I shall not paint
I have no need for renovation
It is enough
if we can sleep well
and are not in pain
clutches at his head with both hands
The crown bears
an atrocity
The spectators were afraid of me
not vice versa
Lifelong intimacy
with me
to the point of megalomania
She warbled a song
that was enough for her
I married her out of pity
and because I hoped for an heir
hoped
laughs to himself
An incapacity for living at bottom
Everything is rising
I said to myself
Nothing rises
Perfected
the art of acting
and with this perfection
fell ill
She had not suspected
that she must die
Perpetual double-dealing
they believe they will live for ever
that is their mistake
they believe they have no defective organs
that is their mistake
Kidney brain liver
gnaw away everything in the end
I drove out of her
the drive to travel
stands up and walks to the door and listens
I must write to the administrators of the cemetery
Attended no concerts for two years
after her death
looks at the window
Victor died
unexpectedly
like her
The wretched thing is
that people do not suspect
that they must die
in the very near future
if they knew
that they must die in the very near future
they would set out one last time for Leipzig
or for the Fichtelgebirge
thus they die quite suddenly
without having arrived one last time at Leipzig
at the Fichtelgebirge
ties the belt [of the dressing  gown] more tightly around his [waist]
We do not move
that is why we are cold
walks to the table and sits down
A lifelong repeater of school grades
looks at his shoes
In the end we wear felt shoes
which we always hated
I have always hated felt
picks up the hammer, stands up and walks to the plinth, bends down hits the nail once with the hammer forcefully, looks around
In this pose
looks around
A motet
for her funeral
the same motet
for Viktor
attempts to stand up
but fails
The mouse-poison under the door
and under the window
Then word will get around
that I am poisoning the mice
suddenly cries out
Cream of wheat
of course cream of wheat
stands up and walks to the table, takes the notepad out of the chest and writes the words cream of wheat on it
Cream of wheat
stands up and sticks the sheet of writing paper on to the nail
Woe betide him
who takes proceedings against himself
in a whisper
Never take proceedings against yourself
glances at the door
Always despised self-cooked food
The pre-denture era
and the post-denture era
When we no longer have our own teeth
we have a craving for a bite of
Slime of wheat
sits down on the chair at the window
We hate Schopenhauer
and exist out of him
we hate the world
and exist in it
I have always hated writers
even Goethe
came into conflict with the courts
A lifelong
fear of prison
Because we believe we are constantly proceeding
incessantly
Committing
In the end we eat slime of wheat
and freeze even when
we have on felt shoes
and a heavy winter blanket
stands up and walks to the door and listens
Eighteen tenants
that makes things common
that fosters deceit
and commonness
Only when one of them dies
do we learn his name
I have never gotten involved
in a conversation
with any residents of this building
with the building superintendent yes
but not with the residents as such
Should the building acquire a communal dumpster
they asked me
no no
no no
to be sure the superintendent brings me nothing but every possible disease
when I let him come in
I shall no longer let him into the apartment
He has bought himself a house on the Kitsee
everybody is buying houses
Horrible house-buying frenzy
listens intently at the door
Always lived in your shadow she said
I never forgave her for this insult
The young man believes
he has a future
but nobody has a future
walks to the door, sits down and opens the newspaper
after a pause
Construction engineer
wanted
if possible in mid thirties
with experience in Africa
for Saudi Arabia
reading
after a pause
Bookseller seeks
two bookseller's apprentices
in the [city] center
lays the newspaper on the table
Felled by a stroke
while holding a trouser-hanger
a risible death
a risible death
stands up and walks to the door and listens
Taciturnity
has always gotten on my nerves
I could just as easily
have died in Kenya
all signs were pointing to it
but I did not die in Kenya
A lifelong dependence on climate
tablet-dependency and climate-dependency
listens intently at the door
We say we do not need people
but it is not true
that you do not need people
A lust for life that is it
I have always had it
Perpetual curiosity
listens more intently at the door
Perpetual curiosity
walks to the window and looks out
A perpetual lust for life
even in foul weather
looks down at the street
We no longer go down there
we look down there
but we no longer go down there
We have always given people a wide
berth
every person
Now we shall never go down there again
looks at the clock
In Kenya [courted] death
risible death
At the invitation of the big game hunter Thompson
how risible
Looks all four walls up and down
Ultimately became famous
He draws the roller-blind so as to darken the room completely
Panic fear of greenhouses
of plants in general
Greenhousaphobia from childhood
through to the present
He raises the blind and turns on the light and draws the blind
Never took a walk
in my entire life
lay in bed
with the curtains drawn
on the weekends
acted at the theater
or lay in bed
goes and winds the clock
Paris yes
London no
Sils Maria yes
Saint Moritz no
For years ate nothing but low-fat curds
walks to the door and listens
It is a question of the intensity
with which we act
after a pause
Discontinued on account of insignificance
the proceedings were discontinued on account of insignificance
they said
Incessantly involved in trials
but never imprisoned
walks to the icebox and takes a sausage out of it
The old cheese
or the old sausage
puts the sausage back into the icebox and takes out of the icebox a piece of cheese
sniffs the cheese
The sausage would be better
puts the cheese back into the icebox and takes the sausage out again, sniffs the sausage
No
puts the sausage back into the icebox and takes the cheese out again
shuts the icebox
looks at the door
The old people's dance
I completely forgot about it
that is why it so quiet in the house
straightens up and walks with the cheese to the table
he unfolds a large sheet of newspaper over the table
and sets the cheese on it
takes a loaf of bread out of the table-drawer and cuts himself a
thick slice
Until two years ago I
still used to go
to the old people's dance
he begins eating the cheese and bread
he pours himself a glass of mineral water from a bottle, drinks, and eats
Unhappiness sets in
because we no longer think
Have forgotten how to think
he looks at the door
The old people's dance
looks at the shopping list on the wall
Mouse-poison
Cream of wheat
For Katharina a lovely
Twenty-shilling piece
he sticks several more pieces of bread into his mouth and chews
He enjoyed
universal acclaim
they said in the lobby
while I was memorizing my lines
When I recite Prospero's speeches
they pay attention
they are obviously enraptured by it
he stands up and walks to the tape recorder, presses a button, and sits back down
voluntary self-control
without scruples
unscrupulous
he now listens to himself speaking from the tape recorder
If anybody sees me here
in this pose
Complicity
A contempt for craftsmen
We have all allowed our talents
to waste away
signalized for askewness
doctored in mathematics
he walks to the tape recorder and stops it
looks around
they are obviously enraptured by it
he sits down at the table and continues eating

Curtain

THE END


Translation unauthorized but © 2011 by Douglas Robertson

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