Born 19.12. 1937 in Berlin, Germany. Emigrated to the U.S. in 1950; U.S., Citizen since 1952, Editor, Translator (Theodor W. Adorno, Peter Handke, Hermann Hesse, Edgar Hilsenrath and others). Died 3.5.2019. Obituary for Michael Roloff written by Gregor Keuschnig, Begleitschreiben.
GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE HANDKE SEMINAR
As some of you may know, the winner of the Nobel prize in 2005 was the Austrian Elfriede JELINEK. Jelinek, in a rare gesture of lack of vanity, felt that if any Austrian deserved the prize, it would be HANDKE, as I presume he didn't because of his involvement on the Serbian side during the disintegration of that federation, a matter I touch on towards the end in a discussion of HANDKE's PLAY ABOUT THE FILM ABOUT THE WAR, and of course in great detail in the lecture on HANDKE and Yugoslavia: GRANDSON OF THE K.U.K.
Not only in Austria I would say, but world wide, not so much for any single work, although the seven-stranded novel NO-MAN'S BAY might deserve the prize all by itself, but because HANDKE has re-enabled literature as only a combination of an activist WITTGENSTEIN/ CHOMSKY/ ORWELL might at this particular historical period, and cleansed the German language.
If you write two works a year for forty years - Having completed his first and a demanding novel it is, at age 23, DIE HORNISSEN [The Hornets], while still a law school student, on the Croatian Island Krk, HANDKE prides himself on never repeating himself, no matter that as a compulsive anxiety ridden writer he always has a pencil at the ready and more likely can be caught writing in his dreams; and as he hasn't repeated himself while exploring certain formal possibilities to their sufficient limit.
The three most important statements HANDKE made that explain the source of his creativity are:
[A] "I am so anxious, and everything I write is then so calm"
[B] "The vigor of my anxiety" which explains the unceasing productivity and
[C] "I am a threshold writer" which puts me, in my capacity as a psychoanalytic investigator, to make certain further suppositions as to the source of his creativity, but these will be detailed in the Analytic Lecture: AUTISM, LOVE CHILD, PRIMAL SCENE EXPOSURE, THE GRANDFATHER AS FATHER FIGURE. Alll of which of course makes us wonder about the source[s] not only of the vigor but of the anxiety and the birth into terror; and that threshold - between what regions it might be placed.
The more immediate source of HANDKE's career as a writer lies in a yearning dream, at age 12, which he chronicled in detail to his mother. This dream concerns his wanting to become a writer of heirlooms, such as were the wartime letters that his mother's two dead Slovenian brothers wrote home during World War II. It is also significant that in this Oedipally colored dream, HANDKE wanted to be one of his mother's brothers, an uncle, and I recall spending some considerable pleasurable time exploring the anthropological dimensions of what is called "the avunculate".
HANDKE was fathered by a German Army paymaster, the love of his mother's life, then replaced by their child, in Spring 1941; but because the paymaster, a Herr Schönherr, was unwilling to leave his wife, HANDKE's mother then married HANDKE's forever hated German stepfather, a member of the same German Army company stationed near HANDKE's birth village Griffen, in Carinthia, who on a bet among the compadres wooed the pregnant young woman, who then married this surrogate, who if nothing else provided a name for the child. Both the reala father and the stepfather survived the war, and Maria Sivec and her love-child joined her husband in Berlin, in 1944, where the wounded demobbed soldier was working on the tram ways. However, the father figure in HANDKE's life, intrapsychially speaking, became his Slovenian grandfather, who voted for the Yugoslav Federation in 1921, and so it was perhaps inevitable that HANDKE's yearning “this simultaneous wish for retrieval and admiration and renewal - performed without the permission and knowledge of Lacan - would lead to his wanting to become a classic during his own lifetime - as he has, albeit a continuously controversial one, where the language of the classics, particularly of Goethe and Stifter, have been actualized into being instruments of verbal actions, thus greatly extending the considerable verbal instrumentarium at his earlier modernist command; and one of whose finest books is called DIE WIEDERHOLUNG, whose English title - THE REPETITION might as easily be rendered as THE RETRIEVAL.
The source of HANDKE's involvement in language lies in what, on the surface, might appear as a fairly typical retreat, at an early age, into fastidious reading. As someone who passionately wanted to be chosen to go to a better school than was available in his village, and whom the Austrian village priest then picked to attend seminary at age twelve, the passion to read becomes trained, as of that age, in Latin and Greek, and the modern languages, too. And when he doesn't write his one or two products a year, he translates, and has become a master translator from a handful of languages, modern and ancient, Greek, French, English, Slovene. I myself am surprised that he has not translated form the Latin and Spanish since he had at least eight years of Latin, too, and has spent much time in Spain, writing two of the Assayings in THE JUKE BOX AND OTHER ESSAYS there, and wandering it might seem the entire diagonal of the country, and extensively Quixote's La Mancha for his 850 page monstrum BILDVERLUST [THROUGH THE SIERRA DEL GREDOS]. So the body of his work as a translator is nearing that of his as an author.
HANDKE has only published a fraction of his diaries, the first being the 1975 naked ego exhibition DAS GEWICHT DER DER WELT - WEIGHT OF THE WORLD, a product of a kind of informal associative quick notation method, the second is DIE GESCHICHTE DES BLEISTIFTS, 1982 [not in English but all the Romance languages, e.g. L'histoire de crayon], the third, the slim Edition Suhrkamp volume FANTASIEN DER WIEDERHOLUNG, 1983, [Fantasies of Repetition], and the heavily edited 80s diary excerpt for the period 1982-1987 AM FELSFENSTER MORGENS, 1998 [Mornings, at the Rock Window], and the recently published GESTERN UNTERWEGS [Yesterday, On the Road], 2005, which covers the years of his world wide travels subsequent to the graduation of his daughter Amina. Therefore, I expect that unless he burns or edits what has been cut the HANDKE industry will be going as strong as the KAFKA industry is still even now.
HANDKE is also near preternaturally, and for reasons I understand only too well and that I try to elucidate in the analytic lecture, a great compulsive and highly competitive exhibitionist: even as a boy he dreamed of appearing on the cover of the German news weekly DER SPIEGEL [The Mirror] and if he weren't a great and yearning and ambitious, but also publicity conscious [and publisher colluding & exploited with just the kind of publisher he ambivalently needed] exhibitionist I [we] would not know so much about him, nor would he be an artist whose work can exert itself in the world, or a playwright, an exhibitor of his generally so amazingly well-crafted products. C'est la vie. No great harm done really, some broken crockery, a few broken hearts, some friends disparu along the Sierras, self-absorbed, sometimes violent, a swollen head on occasion, socially gauche, the brother horde grumbles, there is the usual stupid blinding envy, and some Austrian super-jerks like Franz Krahberger don't even seem to be able to read their own language any more.
Moreover, HANDKE regards translating the equal of authorship, and no doubt in his case, in the psychological salvation and depths with which he absorbs the original before transcribing his solutions, that is the case. In the field of plays, Euripides' Prometheus, Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus, Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale, plays by Marguerite Duras & Jean Genet. As to the classics from the Greek and English, this is the sort of thing you of course are expected to do if you are going to be a German classic in your own lifetime: as someone born in a cottage, and not what the Brits call a weekend cottage, but something closer to a hovel, HANDKE's ego is my no means devoid of representational needs, rather more so, and injurable. If HANDKE does not show something off , in the good sense, he will angrily withhold! Artists also have the less attractive side of children. And contemplating HANDKE both as a great writer and as a great case I concluded that one reason why there are so few truly great writers is because of the peculiar constellation of weaknesses and strengths, woundedness and health that goes into their making.
In the case of the three classics just cited, his work is great and deep, especially the Prometheus, where he had little prior competition, and just sufficiently innovative to get scholarly tongues wagging. "Dalli!" is the sort of whip-word that will roust the administrators of the tradition in their studies.
HANDKE deserves the world wide prize for having - that is the fortune in the misfortune of being an autistic savant - such a deep near-preternatural, possibly painfully hypersensitive relationship to language and the way it is put together - then well and ambitiously trained - and understanding of the medium of language and literary craft, and at least as much in drama as in prose where the progression is less fickle since it is more permanently inscribed. It is the extreme longing to make contact that I want to emphasize, too; and which is responsible for the "letter in the bottle" quality of much of his work.
However, since the publication of ÜBER DIE DÖRFER/ WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES, which can be read also as an autobiography which surpasses what an enumeration of mere data can ever be, HANDKE designs his plays to be LESE STÜCKE, too - plays to be read - since he is under few illusions that most of them will be much played by the near universal temple of industrialized commodified mediocrity that is world-wide theater. They are a great pleasure to read, though the experience of reading the scores -- that is what they are, SCORES -- for THE HOUR WE KNEW NOTHING OF EACH OTHER and MY FOOT MY TUTOR & THE RIDE ACROSS LAKE CONSTANCE and experiencing their performance could not be more different from each other.
As a writer, who is able to absorb the past - and first also his then immediate contemporaries Peter WEISS, ROBBE-GRILLET, PONGE, IONESCO, not to mention the various Austrian avantgardist of the 60s and the tools that they provided him early on - HANDKE, the dramatist, avails himself of an extraordinary set of dissociative, awake-making linguistic and psycho-linguistic tools, including all the tricks of the absurdist trade, within musically compositonal methods.
As the last in the succession of great prose writers, stretching back to THUCYDIDES, among the western canon - though HANDKE is well read in Arabic and Japanese and Chinese literatures, too - he has become the inheritor not of FLAUBERT's parrot but of the ability to give each sentence that extra twist to salvage it from the platitudinous, and make nearly each sentence of his into an event. As in the plays, his prose is able to slow the heart down to a walking pace. Of this I treat in necessary essential detail, or try to, in the PROSE LECTURE, tentatively titled "From Deconstruction to the Re-Invention of Narrative."
DON JUAN [erzählt von ihm selbst] that is, [the Don's story is told via the book's narrator, obliquely as it were] his most recent prose work, however, is of such amazing accomplishment - CONSTRUCTION AND DECONSTRUCTION BEING WOUND INTO ONE NARRATIVE ROPE, a veritable double helix of narrative - that I keep being amazed that HANDKE can keep raising the ante even after having written texts such as THE ESSAY ON THE DAY THAT WENT WELL and THE HOUR THAT WE KNEW NOTHING OF EACH OTHER: While moving forward, the narrative retrieves a past as it explores the place where the narrative is performed - if that sort of thing interests and impresses, as I think it ought to if you think that prose on a certain level exists as a serious medium for human communication, as a demonstration of human mastery, not just as diversion.
HANDKE does something similar, to the DON JUAN narrative, in his essay on THE DAY THAT WENT WELL, which circles Paris in ever narrower and seemingly quicker manner, and which is a study for the great carpet weaving NO-MAN'S-BAY, and is similar, in its circularity, to the summa of HANDKE's modernist period in the theater, HOUR.
HANDKE is interested in what he calls ecriture pure, which is not some demonstration of pretty writing, but allows the reader an entry into a state where reading and being are one, and occasionally he succeeds entirely, especially in works, such as the narrative ABSENCE, a work that exists at the threshold between film and prose and drama, which are free of the intrusion of his own sometimes, inevitably, unhappy person.
The means for ecriture pure in HANDKE's compositional theater are the age old procedure of theme and variation, it is they, chiefly that are able to explore a matter to its limit. Originally, these play-plays were performed on a profane space, which becomes a sacred space in his mytho-poeic, second major theatrical phase; which, however, may have ended with the maddeningly ordinary 2004 UNTERTAGBLUES [Subday Blues] to be succeeded by what? Unambiguous realism? God forbid!
HANDKE - who is an autistic savant - for reasons that I have explored at great length and detail, but which have little bearing [except as explanatory suggestions for their creation and how these texts or theatrical events are experienced and the effect that they have] on what I am going to say about his dramas or his prose - early on in his life learned to dissociate and withdraw in an unusually sensitive manner into understanding the world of words, and so understands his medium, his media - of words, the underlying medium of images, of film, of what is called "the dream screen" - as perhaps few have before him. Together with the power to dissociate went a talent for extraordinary mastery, in evidence in exemplary fashion in his artistic performances.
Already as early as the opening page of THE GOALIE'S ANXIETY AT THE PENALTY KICK  HANDKE knew how to involve the reader, in this instance in the paranoid/schizophrenic state of mind of his protagonist Josef Bloch, through the readers' involvement in the grammar of the language - HANDKE studied carefully the literature on the subject of language and schizophrenia and what is involved in those transpositions, even nominating one title in the field as book of the year; and did this, I suppose, also for the somewhat didactic, WITTGENSTEIN reason to make the reader aware of how language will mislead us on as fundamental a level as grammar, mislead, misread; our melancholy, playful "improver" of the condition, and no longer just in "central Europe" as Ossie WIENER had planned. In being able to do something of that kind, HANDKE exercises a perhaps dangerous mastery over language, dangerous in the sense that if those normally subliminally experienced strata of language, too, would fall into the hands of the Goebbels and Roves of this world, there might not be one chink left in their complete domination.
Though the term dream screen may seem intuitively comprehensible to you on its mere mention, it is a technical term that an analyst and poet by the name of Bertram LEWIN formulated to explain that the dreams that we dream had to be projected onto something, namely the dream screen, our first dream screen being our mother's breasts and face, which is then internalized in the area that is waiting to be so enabled; it is also onto that screen that films are projected into us, one reason why film can be the overpowering medium it is, it bypasses no end of palace guards as it were; and since the processes with which a number of HANDKE's books, but especially two of his most successful plays, use extraordinary yet simple instruments to dissociate the states of mind of the audience, these plays - particularly LAKE CONSTANCE & HOUR - acquire a filmic quality. It is in that sense that Handke is a modernist, in going back to the roots of his medium, initially in the simplest possible ways in plays such as PROPHECY [which, in wiping the slate clean of the misuse of analogy and metaphor resembles Susan SONTAG's essay on ILLNESS AS METAPHOR]; and later in realizing, seemingly as POUND had with his reading of Fenelossa, that words were anchored in images, in glyphs, that an earlier form of internal communication underlies verbal language, so that, as in HOUR, it would be possible to achieve dissociative effects while resorting solely to pictorial means; therefore, his work is one of the touch-stones at which one can reorient oneself and draw sustenance in the normal everyday garbage dump that the world of words has become.
One especially extraordinary example of HANDKE's ability to transpose mediums is his novel ABSENCE whose reading is experienced, astonishingly, as though you were watching a film, which legerdemain is accomplished by the simplest of means, and which juggling of mediums is a freshening of the language, too. ABSENCE can be said to exist at the threshold between play and novel, the threshold being the filmic experience.
The novel ONE DARK NIGHT I LEFT MY SILENT HOUSE zooms, in a classical narrative manner, but as a camera lens, into the dream of its protagonist, a pharmacist in Taxham, a hamlet just outside Salzburg, and then involves the reader in a dream that is experienced as such by the reader... forcing the reader as it were to experience and translate the dream, a similar procedure, as it were, to what HANDKE does at the end of GOALIE, where the protagonist suddenly thinks in terms of glyphs or ideograms if you wish, the original building blocks that precede a more abstract language.
HANDKE early on wrote an essay LITERATURE IS ROMANTIC, but as opposed to the 19th century romantics who aspired that literature approximate the state of music, has taken a far more radical modern and materialistic and not at all esoteric tack.
Already in his early 20s, progressively with greater confidence, the initially frequently tentative HANDKE learned to handle verbal structures with the sustained virtuosity of a musical composer, and it is as a composer of scores that consists of linearly arranged series of words that I think it best to approach especially the early works for the theater but also a novel such as DER HAUSIERER [The Peddler] untranslated into English, - it exists in some of the Romance languages - although the later plays, too, have formal yet far grander and musical architectonic determining structures and their own formal musical laws. Of course, words being arranged in formal series is of little guarantee of artistic merit or communicative possibility, flipping through your everyday radio dial will convince you within a minute or so of this. Nor is formalism, say musically, a guarantee of anything in particular, except perhaps of the superficial mimicry of the commercially convenient attempt to sell a version of what itself was not called Baroque Music during the time of the Baroque, such as a contemporary decal like Phillip GLASS's crazy baroqueistik. The sources of formalism are the same as that of music in a deep sense of tragedy.
HANDKE's early works in particular, as I will hope to show, also are prime examples of CONCEPTUAL ART, that is their efficiency. On the level of concepts they are epiphanic in the perfection with which, in very original but immediately comprehensible manner, they pin certain problems into examinable, discussable, apprehensible stasis. Great artists frequently are not just romantics but also necrophiliacs. And concepts, like dreams, do not just originate on some other star, but in the entire being and ability of their author, not to mention the whole bloody culture into which we are born to hold our noses.
Even though these works - SELF-ACCUSATION, MY FOOT MY TUTOR, QUODLIBET, DISTRESS CALLS, etc, are formally thoroughly composed, they nonetheless remind me, say, of Richard SERRA's early thrown lead sculptures - the concepts that lie behind their execution have the same legerdemain, twist of the wrist that makes for the perfect throw. These plays - from PROPHECY to RIDE ACROSS LAKE CONSTANCE [with HOUR as their SUMMA] are unique solutions to archaic problems that, however, were much in the forefront of the concern of his young public at the time that they were composed. As compared to no end of generationally bound manifestations, they have staying power, because of the depth and simplicity with which they were formulated. What surprises me is that U.S. conceptual artists, Serra excepted, have not caught on to what was accomplished there.
Like music, HANDKE's works for the theater , especially the plays of what I call his modernist period, are PROCESSES, of differing kinds, AND CANNOT BE EXPERIENCED AS ANYTHING BUT processes , forget about naturalism of any kind, stories that can be told, representation, but that of language. Some of these plays have a great text but lack spoken words, and thus approximate dance, dance theater.
With respect to that musical compositional concretistic approach, that he availed himself of, Handke is unique in the degree to which he has availed himself of these means and what he accomplishes with them. Unfortunately for those who are actors trained in a naturalistic tradition, especially anything having to do with "the method": your selves, accessing of memories of anything but dancing and exhibiting and certain kinds of mimicry, and being purely playful and light, will interfere with your need to be mere instruments for the playing the scores of the verbal structures. In the works of the later period extraordinary demands are made to deliver speeches of great and formal yet nearly always playful, length. As the successor to BRECHT - in near automatically introducing dissociative effects of all kinds into his dramas, as a given as it were -HANDKE does this in the same non-Aristotelian manner as BRECHT, although HANDKE's epic as we come to know it in the later plays is that of the everyday, of an every day each of whose moments contains the strata of eternity, life, existence as a continuous series of epiphanies! A problematic solution that I will discuss in some detail in the Drama Seminar proper.
What can be surprising about HANDKE is when you compare the roundhouse statements he sometimes delivers in public, or used to, with how finely differentiated and thoroughly composed his texts are; "sacred rage" on the one hand, a touch of Tourettism on the other.
At this point, assertion will be replaced by an example before I describe the dramatic works of what I call HANDKE's modernist period, which runs from the mid-sixties to the early 70s, even though their summa, HOUR, conceived in the 70s but not completed until well into the 80s, extends those overlapping periods, so that this late-completed work already bears the marks of the mytho-poeic, which however is latent in the direct, radical focused playfulness of the early works in as much as they access archaic if not atavistic regions, and I will do this in some detail so that you might see what I mean by dream screen, compositional musical methods, dissociation and all that.
SINGULAR AND PLURAL [LATE 60S BERLIN ] GREAT SUCCESS WITH KASPAR, RIDE ACROSS LAKE CONSTANCE and of course OFFENDING THE AUDIENCE. GOALIE'S ANXIETY AT THE PENALTY KICK
This poem is from the cycle Innerworld of the Outerworld of the Innerworld, a dialectic that has proved one of HANDKE's greatest strength in delineating states of mind, with Virginia Woolf like delicacy, but with somewhat steelier filigrees. A state of mind is as inescapable as our self, it inhabits us, we inhabit it, a state of mind is the summa of all our history and our being, our trauma and how we have dealt with them. Dismemberment is possible via self-psychology.
On a bench in the park sits a Turk with a thickly bandaged finger: I am sitting on a bench in the park next to a Turk with a thickly bandaged finger: We are sitting on a bench in the park, I and a Turk with a thickly bandaged finger: A Turk with a thickly bandaged finger is sitting with me on a bench in a park.]
We are sitting on a bench in the park gazing out on the pond, and I see something swimming in the pond, and the Turk is gazing out on the pond:]
We are gazing at the pond, and I see an object swimming in the pond, and the Turk is gazing at the pond:]
We are gazing at the pond, and I see a tuft of grass, propelled by swimming ducks, making its way to the shore, and the Turk is gazing at the pond:]
We are gazing at the pond, and I see a tuft of grass swimming shoreward, propelled by swimming ducks, and then I see the tuft of grass floating away from the shore, propelled by ducks swimming in the opposite direction, and the Turk is gazing at the pond:]
We are gazing at the pond, and I see a tuft of grass that, propelled by swimming ducks, was about to be washed ashore and then, propelled by ducks swimming in the opposite direction, was about to be washed back into the middle of the pond and now, propelled by ducks intersecting the two groups of ducks that are swimming in the opposite direction, float suspended in place, and the Turk is gazing at the pond:]
We are gazing at the pond, and I see an object I took to be a tuft of grass or something I took to be an object that I believed was a tuft of grass suddenly disappear after it had moved in place, and I stop moving my head in time with the object on one and the same spot: that is to say, I am startled or, I am startled, that is to say, I stop moving my head in time with the object on one and the same spot, and no longer move at all, and the Turk is gazing at the pond:]
We are gazing at the pond, and I see a duck surfacing with a tuft of grass in its bill, and I am tired of gazing and am satisfied, and the Turk is gazing at the pond:]
We are gazing at the pond, and, without seeing anything, I remember the sports writer who talked about death, and the Turk is gazing at the pond:]
A Turk and I, we are sitting in the park on a bench and are gazing at the pond: I am sitting in the park on a bench next to a Turk with a thickly bandaged finger: I am sitting on a bench in the park next to a Turk with a thickly bandaged finger: next to me on the bench in the park there suddenly sits a Turk with a thickly bandaged finger, which he is extending away from his other fingers: in the park on a bench sits a Turk with nine unimpaired fingers which he presses to the palms of his hands: on a bench in the park sits a Turk with a thickly bandaged finger and gazes out at the pond.]
It is of course possible to write a whole book just about the Turk's wounded finger, that he is holding away from his hand [and as a matter of fact I have a monograph which I have tried to reduce to the analytic lecture that will be posted on this site], yet what is most striking is the defensive nature of the formalizing - virtuoso, playful theme and variation and final resolution - procedure as a whole, and how the anxiety resolves itself in the end. - That is the source of formalism as an anxiety stilling medium, for those who have lost your knowledge that it has sources. - Also, the eyes seeming to look in two different directions at the same time, if "The Turk" is an alter ego, a split off part of the self, which he certainly would be if this were a dream, the dreamlike or semi-somnolent contemplative mood that the piece puts you in.
Already the title - Singular and Plural - diverts us to the reduction of the state of mind to an abstract numerical one, the ducks, two ducks, four ducks... which points to the entirely defensive nature of Handke's early writing, the writing of someone born into a state of terror. But who acquires mastery over it, through writing, by holding a pencil! The instinctual sources and their transformation, also of their energies may be a kind of scandal, but then so is all of life, our very existence, something that the early Marx, too, only knew only too well.
Also: Not the writer but "the sportswriter who talked about death" slips in out of the nowhere of the system preconscious unconscious is how Handke's then profound preoccupation with the theme of suicide [that is with the problem of aggression, directed against the self - "I was born to be suicidal"] announces itself, slips in, ominously out of the apparent nowhere into the otherwise contemplative setting. The connection you may want to draw between the wounded thumb, and that "sports writers":
The speciousness of the distinctions being drawn in the section...
"We are gazing at the pond, and I see an object I took to be a tuft of grass or something I took to be an object that I believed was a tuft of grass suddenly disappear after it had moved in place, and I stop moving my head in time with the object on one and the same spot: that is to say, I am startled or, I am startled, that is to say, I stop moving my head in time with the object on one and the same spot, and no longer move at all, and the Turk is gazing at the pond:]"
...brings to mind not only WITTGENSTEIN, but HANDKE's saying that he came to consciousness reading the Latin Penal Code, which makes far more specious and sadistic distinctions. Say: if you beat your horse without cause you get ten lashes; if your horse has kicked you only receive five lashes; if you beat your horse right after it has given you a kiss, you get 100 lashes... I am trying to be funny. Latin Penal code is not funny, there is a direct line leading from IT via the infamous Marquis to KAFKA's Penal Colony and to General Miller in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib....and it has no bypassed Mr. HANDKE, no matter that he would like to be free of this conundrum of his strength.
The fact that the narrator suddenly sees "nothing" might mean that he sees "black", that he is experiencing a bout of what HANDKE, who suffers [?] from occasional bouts of colorblindness, calls "nausea of the eyeballs". Contemplate transposing the nausea all of you have felt at one time or the other, onto your eyes!
What is also noticeable here, in this late 60s poem, composed in Berlin, is a similar theme to homesickness as we find throughout his work, in the sense that at that time in Berlin, the city lacked its huge Turkish quarter, and so a displaced Turk might indeed feel homesick than he might now.
©Michael Roloff, 2010
PS: Michael Roloff sent me his lectures 2010 by mail, Milena Findeis. 3.5.2019 I have been informed by mail that he passed by.
"It won't grow back"
Walk about the village