Friday, October 20, 2017

An Alternative Translation of Die Macht der Gewohnheit by Thomas Bernhard. Scene I.

The Force of Habit
As for me, when I was young I was torn between the Sorbonne and comedy.
                                                        Diderot [in Paradoxe sur Le Comédien]
…but the race of prophets is an extinct species…
Dramatis Personae
CARIBALDI, the owner and ringmaster of a circus
In Caribaldi’s caravan
Stage left, a piano
Upstage, four music stands
A cabinet, a table with a radio, an armchair, a mirror, pictures
The score of Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet on the floor
Caribaldi is looking for something under the cabinet
The JUGGLER, entering
What ever are you doing down there
The Quintet’s lying on the floor
Mr. Caribaldi
Tomorrow’s Augsburg
isn’t it
Tomorrow’s Augsburg
The beautiful quintet
picking up the quintet-score
By the way
I’ve received the letter from France
sets the score on one of the music stands
Can you imagine it
a guaranteed amount
But experience has proved
one mustn’t accept
an offer
right away
That’s been proved by experience
straightens the score on the music stand
In Bordeaux more than anything
it’s the white wines
What ever are you looking for there
Mr. Caribaldi
picks up the cello leaning against the music stand, wipes it off with his right sleeve and leans it back against the music stand
everything’s dusty
Because we’re playing at such
a dusty venue
It’s windy here
and dusty
Tomorrow’s Augsburg
Tomorrow’s Augsburg
Why are we playing here
I ask myself
Why I ask
This is your affair
Mr. Caribaldi
Tomorrow’s Augsburg
Tomorrow’s Augsburg
Even leaving the cello
exposed to the elements
for a couple of seconds
blows dust off the cello
It’s so negligent of you
Mr. Caribaldi
picks up the cello
The Maggini
isn’t it
the da Salò
the so-called
Ferrara cello
leans the cello back against the music stand and takes a step back; gazes contemplatively at the cello
A priceless
But naturally it needn’t only
be played
at asphalted venues
North of the Alps
the da Salò
south of the Alps
the Maggini
before five in the afternoon
the Maggini
and after five in the afternoon
the Ferrara cello
blows dust off the cello
A dying vocation
suddenly to Caribaldi
What ever are you looking for
The rosin
The rosin
The rosin
Over and over again the rosin
because you suffer from those weak fingers
that instrumentalists are famous for
But haven’t you got
another one
a so-called
spare piece of rosin
You know
that as a child
I played the violin
as I child
I had two emerald-green boxes
in each of these emerald-green boxes
I kept a spare piece of rosin
That’s what matters most
a spare
do you hear me
If you’re a practicing instrumentalist
you’ve got
to keep a spare piece of rosin
Tomorrow’s Augsburg
Tomorrow’s Augsburg
Mr. Caribaldi
Here under the cabinet
it’s got to be here
JUGGLER bends over and joins CARIBALDI in looking under the cabinet
They’re expecting me
In Bordeaux
a five-year contract
Mr. Caribaldi
By the way my plate routine
is a distinctively French routine
Six on the left
eight on the right
one after another
in time to music
And a clothing allowance
as a bonus
I’m wearing
a new costume
Mr. Caribaldi
Parisian satin
Parisian silk
from Alexandre
I’ll have you know
an elegant gravy train
But look
it’s the rosin
stands up
There it is
pulls the piece of rosin out from under the cabinet
You should buy yourself a second box
in Augsburg
Tomorrow in Augsburg
They’re expecting me
in Bordeaux
that’s always
a triumph
first class
Mr. Caribaldi
and from Bordeaux
to points southward
to Portugal
you know
Caribaldi goes with the rosin to the cello; he sits down and smears his bow with the rosin
By no means a simple matter
for a juggler
who hasn’t mastered
the French language
but I have mastered
the French language
French was my mother’s
native tongue
Pablo Casals always carried
five or six spare pieces
of rosin
Tomorrow in Augsburg
Tomorrow in Augsburg
That extraordinary woman
my mother
who left the church in Nantes
by the way
CARIBALDI equably applying rosin to the bow
Every minute
the rosin
is falling from my hand
and onto the floor
Your weak fingers
Mr. Caribaldi
A second box of rosin
For years I’ve been saying
buy yourself a
a second box of rosin
Tomorrow in Augsburg
Under the cabinet
pointing under the cabinet
Towards the wall
The juggler and Caribaldi look under the cabinet
Always under the cabinet
towards the wall
that’s really quite interesting
Your weak fingers
and the law of gravity
For a year or so
I’ve had a hard time
keeping the rosin in my hand
Your hand
is used to holding the whip
not the rosin
Mr. Caribaldi
Caribaldi unbuttons his dirty tailcoat
The juggler springs to his feet and rushes up to a picture that is hanging crooked on the wall and straightens it and re-straightens it and sits back down
All day long I’ve been thinking
about how long you have been rehearsing the Quintet
or even twenty years
I can remember back that far
I recall
that the very day
I met you
You were sitting here in this chair
and rehearsing the “Trout” Quintet
I’ve been practicing
the “Trout” Quintet
for twenty years
strictly speaking
this is the twenty-second year
A form of therapy
I’ll have you know
Play an instrument
a stringed instrument
my doctor said
so that your ability to concentrate doesn’t deteriorate
Because there’s nothing you’re more scared of
Than the deterioration of your ability to concentrate
One’s ability to concentrate
can’t be allowed to deteriorate
Back then
twenty years ago
my ability to concentrate
had suddenly deteriorated
When I was cracking my whip
no precision
do you understand
when I was cracking my whip
The horses had stopped reacting to it
It wasn’t precise
it lacked
the necessary precision
And now for twenty-two years
I’ve been playing
or rather practicing to play the cello
And for twenty-two years practicing
to play the “Trout” Quintet
Caribaldi plays a sustained open C
An artist
who practices an art
needs another art a second art
to practice the one art
via the other
the one feat of acrobatic artistry
via the other
CARIBALDI extending his right hand to the juggler
This hand
you see
is my curse
I drop the rosin
withdraws his hand
And my mind
is no longer able
to concentrate
my ability to concentrate deteriorates
It’s only my love of circus artistry
is nothing but reciprocity
Circus artistry
Circus artistry
do you understand
I wonder whether
the rehearsal will take place today
Your granddaughter
is sick
the jester
has something in his throat
and the animal tamer
is once again a victim
of his melancholy
This is a concept
Mr. Caribaldi
a medical concept
The last rehearsal
was a scandal
I’m not keen
on ever reliving that
plays a sustained open C
A drunken animal tamer
who has trouble just staying on his feet
a jester who’s constantly
losing his cap
a granddaughter whose very existence
gets on my nerves
The truth is a debacle
Wednesday is always
a bad day
But even Saturday
isn’t a good day
Even the animals are different on Wednesday
than on Saturday
on Saturday
than on Wednesday
But from people
and especially circus performers
Mr Caribaldi
you really can’t expect
If only we managed to realize
the “Trout” Quintet
just once a single time
a perfect stream of music one single time
A work of art
Mr. Caribaldi
To make this practicing
into art
Without incident
such a lovely piece
Such a noble literature
I’ll have you know
In this twenty-second year
we haven’t succeeded at performing
the “Trout” Quintet a single time
without a mistake
let alone at realizing it
as a work of art
There’s always one of us
who destroys everything
in a moment of carelessness
or vulgarity
An inability to concentrate
Mr. Caribaldi
One time it’s the violin
the next it’s the viola
the next it’s the double bass
the next it’s the piano
Then yet again I myself get
another of these awful backaches
I double up in pain
I’ll have you know
and the composition falls apart
Once I’ve managed to get the jester
to master his instrument
the animal tamer loses his head
at the piano
or my granddaughter
who of course has been playing the viola
for ten full years
impales herself on a splinter
as she did last Tuesday
When your face is contorted with pain
you can’t play Schubert
and certainly not the “Trout” Quintet
I never could have known
that serving the art of music
is so difficult
plays a sustained note
And I can’t play the Quintet
on my own
It’s a quintet
resumes stroking his bow with the rosin as the juggler talks
The deep sense of loyalty that I feel
on the one hand
France Mr. Caribaldi
on the other
A clothing bonus
do you understand
and moving up and down the Riviera
all winter long
and the possibility
of collaborating with my sister
Caribaldi drops the rosin
the juggler picks it up
Everything else
that’s in France
Mr. Caribaldi
It’s impossibly improbable
a windfall
As you know
I am inordinately fond
of the Atlantic coast
of eating fresh mussels
in white Bordeaux wine
hands Caribaldi the rosin
The German language
stultifies over time
the German language
presses down on one’s mind
clutches at his head
Caribaldi plucks a cello-string
The juggler gazes contemplatively at Caribaldi
A bonus clothing allowance
And the French fresh air
Mr. Caribaldi
Caribaldi plays a sustained low bowed note on the cello
The juggler is contemplating Caribaldi even more intensely
By favoring this posture
of the upper body
Casals had reached
his peak
Caribaldi plucks a cello-string
The constant change of air
from being north of the Alps sometimes
and south of them at others
damages the instrument
It’s always needing to be tuned
and always from different points of view
once in each place
an extra time for each type of air
An extra time
But so-called chamber music
runs in your family
as well as in my family
Caribaldi plays a deep bowed note on the cello
And it’s always
the “Trout” Quintet
At its best as you yourself have said
in Prague
at its the very worst
at Theresienwiese
Tomorrow’s Augsburg
At Theresienwiese
Caribaldi plays a deep bowed note, plucks one of the cello’s strings
Art is a medium
for another art
It’s always
the last performance
Even before I’ve finished the plate-routine
the tent is being dismantled
looks and points at the ceiling
Because I have to look up
I see
that the tent is being dismantled
Naturally the audience doesn’t notice
this operation
Caribaldi plucks a cello-string
The audience’s concentration
is focused on me
goes to the pictures and the mirror and straightens them
An asset
if you’ve got a French mother
As you know
my father is from Gelsenkirchen
an unfortunate person
for a while he dabbled
in shipbuilding
At eighteen I stop
Eighteen plates no more
Suddenly I got scared
Mr. Caribaldi
looks at Caribaldi’s chest
Your waistcoat is dirty
Mr. Caribaldi
Caribaldi plays a deep bowed note
Your waistcoat is dirty
Mr. Caribaldi
When you crawl around
on the floor all day
for your rosin
picks up the rosin and smears his bow with it as the juggler talks
They’re offering to let me
enter the lists alone
for an entire evening
at the sanatorium in Rouen
do you understand
I’ll do my plate routine
and also my routine with the fake poodle
With the fake poodle
Your routine with the fake poodle
That fake poodle routine
that you’ve forbidden me to do
Two years sacrificed to this routine
and then you forbade me to do it
In Rouen I’ll be able to perform this routine
And my sister has been accepted
as my assistant
Mr. Caribaldi
Your own motto is my motto
Move on
don’t stay in one place
don’t stay in one place
Move on
crying out
I’m going to France
Mr. Caribaldi
CARIBALDI plucks a cello string
Tomorrow’s Augsburg
Tomrrow’s Augsburg
straightens a picture
Mr. Caribaldi
Caribaldi plays a low bowed note
In reality
it’s not about the plate routine at all
it’s not even about me
it’s the violin
Mr. Caribaldi
It’s the “Trout” Quintet
which is nothing without me
You forced me
Caribaldi plucks a cello string
to play the violin
because in an unhappy mood
I said
I blabbed
that I had played the violin as a child
You forced me to take up the violin
with incredible ruthlessness
Caribaldi plays a low bowed note
And you forced your granddaughter
to take up the violin
and the jester the double bass
and the animal tamer your nephew
the piano
crying out
You forced us
you forced us
straightens a mirror as if to calm himself down
What’s more your nephew
abhors the piano
suddenly points at the door
Your nephew the animal tamer
once got the idea
of smashing the piano to pieces
with his axe
he didn’t do it
even though the axe was already high in the air
I kept him from doing it
You know how brutal your nephew is
you yourself call him
The animal
No don’t
I said
Maybe a momentary so-called psychotic episode
but just the idea
of the piano lying there smashed to pieces
and just you think of the piano lying there smashed to pieces
by your fleshly nephew
A headache
A headache
clutches at his head
I took the axe
away from your nephew
On this occasion
I treated your nephew
the way your nephew
treats his so-called savage beasts
I walked up to him
Caribaldi plays a low bowed note
I gently coaxed him
I soothed him
Then I promised him
Caribaldi looks up
that I would reveal to him
the secret of my fake poodle routine
Your nephew had the axe raised above his head
like this
mimes the posture
How easy he would have found it
to smash the piano to pieces
in a single blow
You know how strong he is
You know how strong his resolve is
takes hold of a music stand and blows the dust off it
Caribaldi plays a sustained low bowed note
But I couldn’t keep
my promise
Because you threatened to fire me
if I explained to your nephew
the fakery
or rather the artistry
behind the fake poodle routine
I was dependent on your help
the plate routine hadn’t yet been worked out
well enough
for me to be able to get by on my own as a performer
I couldn’t just
walk out on you
I couldn’t allow myself to do that
You blackmailed me
I was once again at your mercy
My nephew plays
the piano
as long as I insist on it
you said
points at the corner
There in the corner
you said that
That was decisive
grabs a note-stand and blows the dust off it
You bully your nephew
as well as your granddaughter
The jester jests only because
you force him to
All these people
are at your mercy
If only these people dared just once
not to show up
not to play
the “Trout” Quintet
But they won’t dare
to commit such an enormity
Caribaldi plucks a string
These people
are at your mercy
they have nothing of their own
and are at your mercy
Even I have never had the courage
not to play
sits down
To the contrary
I egged the others on
clutches at his head
I could smash my own head
for being so inconsistent
your concept
those two
your concepts
But naturally you suffer too
and specifically in your own megalomaniacal procedure
from your own ruthlessness
Mr. Caribaldi
And the causes
are your back pains
is your wooden leg
Tomorrow’s Augsburg
Your health
embattled since childhood
Your hypersensitivity
under your brainpan
Mr. Caribaldi
with sudden vehemence
The ailing and the crippled
rule the world
Everybody is ruled by invalids
and by cripples
It’s a comedy
An evil indignity
Caribaldi plays a low bowed note
When somebody like me
an acknowledged genius
shoulders a yoke for over a decade
and all his effort
Caribaldi bursts out laughing
And all his effort is rewarded
with a laugh like that one
pulls a letter out of his pocket
But now I’ve got this letter
from France
The director of the Sarrasani circus has written to me
Caribaldi bursts out laughing
The juggler resumes speaking in a meaningful tone while holding the letter above his head
Who in the course of a lifetime
has ever received an offer like this one
CARIBALDI plays four short bowed notes; pushes the cello away without letting go of it; says the following in a peremptory tone
The Maggini
the Salo
the Ferrara cello
Don’t you understand
I want the Ferrara cello
The juggler takes the cello away from him
Caribaldi, imperiously
The Ferrara cello
The juggler takes the Maggini cello to the cabinet, takes out the so-called Ferrara cello, and puts in the Maggini cello
do you understand
nothing else
The juggler gives Caribaldi the so-called Ferrara cello
My nephew
My granddaughter
what fine human beings
And Pablo Casals
what a fine human being
crying out
What fine human beings
what fine creatures
what fine nonsensicalities
every single one of them his own worst enemy
by nature
Monsieur the Jester
what a nonsensicality
Mademoiselle my granddaughter
All these people
whether related to me or not
have cost me nothing but money
and patience
A lifelong test of my nerves
plays a deep bowed note on the cello
that’s it
smears his bow with the rosin
when I see my nephew the animal tamer
I think
there goes brutality with stupidity
when I see the jester taking a walk
there goes feeblemindedness taking a walk
feeblemindedness is losing his cap
when I see my granddaughter
it’s the contemptible maliciousness of her mother
Give it back
tears the cello away from the juggler, who had momentarily taken it away from Caribaldi to keep him from letting it fall on the floor
or Schopenhauer
do you understand
or Plato
plays a sustained deep bowed note
I once dreamed
I was in Archangelsk
without knowing
what Archangelsk was like
And I know nothing but Archangelsk
that’s it
nothing else
do you understand
And now you think
you can go away
crying out
what’s that
Do your plate routine here
in my troupe
here at this venue
Perfect your art
Never mind perfection
improve it
do you understand
nothing else
Put it
to the test
do you understand
Here everything’s contemptible
plays a sustained note
completely different
completely different
The Salo
has a completely different sound
than the Maggini
What time is it anyway
Don’t tell me
what time it is
plays a sustained deep bowed note
The Salo
The Ferrara cello
Before five the one
after five the other
plays five brief notes alternating between up-bows and down-bows
The Salo
do you hear
The humidity
north of the Alps
plays a sustained deep bowed note
You’ve got to listen carefully
a completely different sound
But if I play the Ferrara cello
before noon
it has a devastating effect
You’ve got to commit it to memory
I always say that
before noon the one
after noon the other
Like Casals
Tomorrow’s Augsburg
Two boxes of rosin
Mr. Caribaldi
But when you’re constantly thinking the way I think
it’s a kind of madness
The one cello before noon
The other in the afternoon
do you understand
It also holds true for the violin
For the viola it also holds true
plays a few short bowed notes
the juggler takes a violin case out of the cabinet and a violin out of the violin case and sits down and tunes the violin
It’s never yet happened to me
the morning rehearsal
never yet
And south of the Alps
quite the reverse
My granddaughter’s talent
is certainly no great talent
but it’s nice
she dances on the tightrope
she plays the viola
A child
And my nephew
a distinct anti-talent
On the other hand playing the piano’s
a medium
for an animal tamer
Interaction with animals you know
in reverse
These never-ending injuries
Tomorrow in Augsburg
I’ll have to find a doctor
tomorrow in Augsburg
The truth is that my nephew
should have become
what he is
a thoroughly
bourgeois existence
I strong-armed him
into joining the troupe
The mortal bite-wounds
suffered by his predecessor
Those mortal bite-wounds
Leopard bite-wounds
We had
to have
the leopards shot
That poor wretch
torn to shreds by leopards
plays a low sustained bowed note
The quintet
seemed lost for good
Then I came up with the idea
of making my nephew
Of making your nephew
into an animal tamer
and hence into a pianist
We had an animal tamer
and a piano player
The quintet was salvaged
The quintet
was salvaged
plays a low sustained bowed note
by the way it wasn’t just that one time
that my nephew had the idea
of destroying the piano
He’s tried to do it
over and over again
Using unserviceable methods
to be sure
To be sure
And don’t be taken in by the jester’s
he loathes the double bass
My granddaughter doesn’t care for the viola either
You’ve got to admit that you yourself
find playing the violin
simply detestable
Everything is simply detestable
everything that happens
that happens is detestable
Life existence
The truth is
The juggler goes to a picture and straightens it
The truth is
I don’t care for the cello
It’s torture for me
but it’s got to be played
my granddaughter doesn’t care for the viola
but it’s got to be played
the jester doesn’t care for the double bass
but it’s got to be played
the animal tamer doesn’t care for the piano
but it’s got to be played
And of course you don’t care for the violin either
We don’t want this life
but it’s got to be lived
plucks a string
We loathe the “Trout” Quintet
but it’s got to be played
The juggler sits down, picks up the violin, plays it
Caribaldi plays a few bowed notes on the cello
Let’s have no illusions
no self-deception
plays a short bowed note
What can unhesitatingly be described here
as a musical art
is in reality
an illness
Give me the rosin
The juggler gives Caribaldi the rosin
Caribaldi smears his bow with the rosin
after a pause
is always
a different art
the artist
or let’s rather term him
the conjuring artist
of course there are only conjuring artists
a different one
every day
each and every day
Above all
such a person
must not lose control of himself
His uniqueness
must keep company with his madness
without getting dizzy
If he’s the personification
of intelligence
Everything involuntary
must be transformed
into something voluntary
The organs of thought
are the world’s genitals
and the private parts of nature
Partial harmonies
everything is founded on that
plucks all the cello strings at once
we’re not talking about
theosophy here
do you understand
plucks the strings
But the madness of these people
is a different madness
like your contempt
impervious to dizziness on the one hand
contempt on the other hand
A predilection for illness
A victory over life
A dread of death
do you understand
cocks an ear at the body of the cello
Casals does it like this
do you hear
plays a low sustained bowed note
Casals does it like this
A perennial proclivity for sodomy
affecting the mind
In a world
of intolerance
plays a low bowed note
Every word
is an incantatory word
Whichever spirit makes the summons
a kindred spirit appears
drops the rosin; it rolls under the cabinet; flings his right hand into the air and cries out
This finger
this finger is driving me insane
glancing at the juggler
This handsome suit
this fine tailoring
this confidence-inspiring hue
The juggler is on the floor looking for the rosin
We set our organ of thought in motion
in such arbitrary ways
Magical astronomy
chemistry and so forth
The concept of contagion
Sympathy of the sign
with the signified
Probably the rosin
bounced right against the wall
right against the wall
right against the wall
plucks a string
the juggler looks back at Caribaldi while searching underneath the cabinet with both hands for the rosin
Our world-organ can become
anything voluntary
Simultaneously cocks an ear at the body of the cello and plays a sustained bowed note
that’s what Casals does
It’s a nervous habit
a nervous illness
believe me
The rosin
do you understand
raises his right hand high and nervously twitches all its fingers and exclaims
Suddenly it’s there
a morbidity
a nervous morbidity
after a pause
A habit
And look here
points under the cabinet
always in that direction
always under the cabinet
Communal insanity
Mr. Caribaldi
I’ve been advised
to tie it
to a string
and hang it around my neck
plays a low sustained bowed note
Like mittens
do you understand
around your neck
when you’re a child
Enter Caribaldi’s granddaughter with a tub of hot water and a towel
Caribaldi looks at his granddaughter
Ah yes my footbath
Come here my child
Your footbath
Mr. Caribaldi
The granddaughter sets the tub down at Caribaldi’s feet and rolls up the legs of his
trousers; now one sees that his right leg is a wooden leg; she pulls off his shoe and
CARIBALDI with his left leg in the tub of water
How far are we into the show
Were the animals already on
the monkeys
The monkeys
The monkeys
the monkeys
to his granddaughter, referring to the juggler
He’s looking for the rosin
And did you dance nicely
flawlessly and nicely
The granddaughter nods
There’s nothing
better than a hot
When the water
is just as hot as you
can stand
kisses his granddaughter on her forehead
she takes a step back
Of course you feel cold my child
Tomorrow we’ll be in Augsburg
tomorrow’s Augsburg
You must practice
do you understand
practice your dancing
Come here
practice your dancing
and you’ll feel warm
The JUGGLER, who has still not found the rosin
Your grandfather means you well
at heart
The granddaughter stands facing Caribaldi and at his command engages in a dancing exercise that consists in standing once on her right foot, once on her left, on the tips of her toes, standing off to the right, lifting her left leg, etc.; lifting her right leg, letting her left arm fall and vice-versa, exactly like a marionette, with ever-increasing rapidity, as the juggler looks on from the floor
CARIBALDI beating time with the cello bow
One two
one two
one two
one two
one two
one two
one two
one two
one two
one two
one two
one two
one two
one two
one two
one two
one two
Right stop
the granddaughter stops, exhausted
Caribaldi, barking out orders
Peel apples
Polish shoes
Boil milk
Brush clothes
And show up punctually
to the rehearsal
do you understand
You can go
Exit the granddaughter
Caribaldi, reflectively
Tomorrow’s Augsburg
to the juggler
Have you found the rosin?
The juggler has not found the rosin and is still looking for it
A superfluous
a lovely child
because he knows he is not being watched he hikes the right leg of his trousers up even higher, and as the juggler looks for the rosin he slowly strokes his wooden leg with the cello bow with evidently great relish and says
The juggler has found the rosin
Caribaldi lets his right trouser-leg fall
The juggler stands up with the rosin in his hand
Everything is music
The world is
the macroanthropos
The juggler brings Caribaldi the rosin
Caribaldi takes the rosin and smears the bow with it as he gazes contemplatively at the juggler
Experience has shown
that anybody
who crawls around for a while
on a dirty floor
will get dirty
presses the cello bow against the juggler’s stomach
It’s nerves
nothing but nerves
calmly and searchingly plays a deep bowed note three times, then suddenly and irascibly says
A letter
if it’s from Sarrasani
makes you lose your composure
suddenly in a threatening, forceful tone
But I know the story
Every year
you get several
letters like this one
all those letters
a surfeit of offers
plucks several cello strings in succession
I understand
More money
More respect
Once again
our worthy juggler demands more money
and more respect
plucks a cello string
Two are
separated by the third
and united by him
Are you calm
It’s always the same
Once people have made a name for themselves
they demand money
and respect
more and more money
and more and more respect
The artists use their art as blackmail material
if that’s not the epitome of perfidy
Suddenly the artists pounce on us
with their demands
plucks two cello strings in quick succession
Even genius itself
becomes twice as megalomaniacal
when money’s involved
pokes the juggler’s stomach with the cello bow
Bursts out laughing, but the laughter ceases almost immediately  
Circus artists
but on the whole all artists
use their art as blackmail material
with the utmost ruthlessness
But I’m not impressed by any of it
And your letter from the ringmaster of the Sarrasani circus
is just another one of those hundreds of forged letters
that you’ve repeatedly struck right under my nose
throughout the ten or eleven years
you’ve been with me
Show me the offer
Show me the offer
plucks all the cello strings  few times in quick succession and takes firm hold of his bow, as though he is about to play a note with it
The juggler takes one step back, then another
Only a moron
still takes an artist at his word nowadays
only a moron

End of Scene I

Translation unauthorized but Copyright ©2017 by Douglas Robertson

Die Macht der Gewohnheit premiered at the Salzburg Festival on July 7, 1974.  The only edition of Neville and Stephen Place's authorized translation of the play was published in 1976 and is out of print.

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