Friday, May 05, 2017

A Translation of "Eine gähnende Leere" (Thomas Bernhard Silently Interviewed by Kurt Hofmann)

A Gaping Void
Right now I really can’t explain to you my life or what I am.  You know, I really just can’t do that.  You need three thousand pages, and even then you’ve possibly forgotten the important things, which occur to you only afterwards.  Then yet another volume, a supplemental volume, has to follow.  The essential point is forgotten in the three thousand pages, and then on your deathbed, you say, For the love of God, it’s only now that I’m here on my deathbed and looking up at the ceiling that I can see the most important thing of all, which would make for a completely different explanation of everything; that really makes no sense at all.
You’ve got to figure out everything yourself.  Of course you haven’t got any sort of appointed task or whatever.  Only schoolchildren and teacher-worshipers can have appointed tasks.
And then you just lose your appetite anyway, because you’ve got nothing to do anymore, that’s what’s so stupid about it.   So of course you used to maintain a constant equilibrium and to be always doing something or other, however pointless it was.  But of course it makes no difference.  It’s like with women who have to beat carpets nonstop to calm themselves back down so that they can make omelets.  Literally everybody finds something like that for himself.  Somehow it’s been…what’s famously known as the void—a gaping one—for a year.  What am I supposed to do now?  Nothing even interests me anymore.  Sure, something always comes along, even if it’s naked despair; something always comes along.  And then you salvage it again.  Because life is a salvaging operation.  And you pounce on that, whether it’s another person or yourself, I don’t know.  It all leads to nothing.
That reminds me, where I was yesterday, with these farmers, they told me that an innkeeper whom I also knew had suddenly died, even though it had been in the offing for a year; still, he’d died suddenly; he had a completely gangrenous foot, and there were quite a lot of people at the funeral, and there was one of them, he was an ex-butcher and innkeeper, a butcher’s apprentice in his youth, but today he’s well past sixty; he had to carry a cross that was two meters tall, incredibly heavy—but whenever anybody has to carry something like that they always have a leather support, when it’s indoors.  And he only needs to hold it; he doesn’t have to carry it.  And they couldn’t find the leather, and so he had to bear its weight for the whole two hours, and then they even put a wreath on it at the top, and then he collapsed and now he’s laid up in bed and is also done for.  I just remembered that.

Source: Kurt Hofmann, Aus Gesprächen mit Thomas Bernhard (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1991), pp. 131-132.

Translation unauthorized but Copyright ©2017 by Douglas Robertson

No comments: