Wednesday, November 04, 2015

A Translation of "Ein Frühling," an Early Prose Fragment by Thomas Bernhard

A Spring

How the all withdraws from the one, how anguish becomes anguish anew, how darkness becomes lethal anew, how fortifications like human beings decay into dust, how you are gazing into your toothless hours, is pointed up by this spring; you can get up whenever you choose, you can go wherever you choose, but this spring with its cataclysmic storms will wipe you away, shovel you over to the side of the street…spit you into the remotest corner, from one periphery into the next, from the philosophical periphery into the cringing, canine periphery, from the cringing, canine periphery into the laughable, pitiful periphery…once again all the people are chastising themselves with lies as they go to bed; they close their curtains, their qualms…from every warmed-over gender of melancholy the all-dominating sex-crime of death is again coming to maturity; everybody is again vomiting at the sight of the begrimed, snow-forsaken corpse, terrified as they have just been into million-fold astonishment…entire administrative districts are suddenly displaying their ulcers, overflowing river-courses are heralding the end of the closed season, the files at the record office are being leafed through again, everybody is being barked at, condemned by the presiding judge; everybody is being decapitated by weariness; everywhere this stupid procreative confidentiality in the upper and the lower echelons; on behalf of its principles the world again stands sealed off in this illimitable scurrilous exhibitionism…in the torrent of theories you behold how the orders are subordinating themselves, how the detritus of the years is bedimming your eyesight, how ideas tear to pieces, how words crumble to pieces.  Here in the great cemeteries of all the blocks of all the streets you are studying the great book reviews of heaven, in every figure of speech you uncover a legion of felonies, a legion of habitual felonies…in these colossal waiting rooms a single word, a mere fit of a thought, the mere attempt to withdraw for only a moment, suffices to ruin you…everything is exhausted by this judgment, countless numbers have fled down into vulgar bellyaching, into the nagging uncertainty of dreams…you are ridiculed by the unintelligibility of intelligence, by the dictatorship of the creative abaser…you leaf through your pointless books, you are no longer investigating anything…you no longer make yourself intelligible; you can never trust them, not in the course of your incurable decline, in the midst of the public health hazard that is your intellectual leprosy…Alone in the shelterlessness of your thoughts you now consist of nothing but hunger and thirst amid the eternal unintelligibility of the stars…in this spring each and every thing is once again at its end, like tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, superstructed on a million sterile constellations, on the frugality of nature, which, in being a mighty stagnant pool of turbulence, is also a colossal conspiracy of silence regarding the composition of the air, regarding the sturdiness and ruthlessness of metals, a conspiracy directed against all memories…this spring, in which nature has the audacity to reinvent human existence, is a universally lethal, deafening odor of the millennia.
(from the author’s first notebook)


THE END

Source: Thomas Bernhard, Werke 14, herausgegeben von [Works, Vol. 14, edited by] Hans Höller, Martin Huber und Manfred Mittermayer (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2003), pp. 353-354.  
Originally published in Spektrum des Geistes 1964. Literaturkalendar. Ebenhausen bei München: Hartfild Voss o. J. [1963], p. 36.  

Translation unauthorized but Copyright ©2015 by Douglas Robertson    

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