Saturday, September 23, 2006

Constellation No. 2

"On such occasions I felt ashamed of myself and went about Peiskam with my head low, but I was ashamed only in front of Frau Kienesberger, nobody else, because in the meantime I had become supremely indifferent to everyone else. I had no explanation to offer, for the word despair would have been just as ludicrous as the word mad. I couldn't expect somebody like Frau Kienesberger to take it seriously. It's hard enough to convince oneself by using such words, let alone a difficult person like Frau Kienesberger, who is anything but simple; people are always talking about simple folk, yet nobody is more difficult, more complicated indeed, than these so-called simple folk. One can't expect them to take words like despair and mad seriously. So-called simple people are in reality the most complicated people, and I find it increasingly difficult to get on with them."

Thomas Bernhard, Concrete (1982), translated by David McLintock (New York, 1984): pp. 98-99.


"'You describe him as a kind of automatic dummy, with a mental antenna that responds to junk in the air--more precisely, to junk in the air that is blowing around more and more obviously, getting more and more widely accepted--and who thinks that that antenna is the most important part of the radio of his brain, its function being receiver as well as transmitter. What is so new about that?'

He is not a dummy, and his mind is far from being simple.

'Yes, I know your argument: that simple people are not simple at all; that, as a matter of fact, they are very complex--'

And that people's minds are becoming more and more complex, which does not of course mean that they are becoming more intelligent."

John Lukacs, "1966" from A Thread of Years (New Haven, 1999): p. 454-5.