Is writing the gift of curling up, of curling up with reality? One would so love to curl up, of course, but what happens to me then? What happens to those, who don’t really know reality at all?
It’s so very dishevelled. No comb, that could smooth it down. The writers run through it and despairingly gather together their hair into a style, which promptly haunts them at night. Something’s wrong with the way one looks. The beautifully piled up hair can be chased out of its home of dreams again, but can anyway no longer be tamed. Or hangs limp once more, a veil before a face, no sooner than it could finally be subdued. Or stands involuntarily on end in horror at what is constantly happening. It simply won’t be tidied up. It doesn’t want to. No matter how often one runs the comb with the couple of broken off teeth through it - it just doesn’t. Something is even less right than before.
The writing, that deals with what happens, runs through one’s fingers like the time, and not only the time, during which it was written, during which life stopped. No one has missed anything, if life stopped. Not the one living and not dead time, and the one who is dead not at all. When one was still writing, time found its way into the work of other writers. Since it is time, it can do everything at once: find its way into one’s own work and simultaneously into the work of others, blow into the tousled hairstyles of others like a fresh, even if malign wind, which has risen suddenly and unexpectedly from the direction of reality. Once something has risen, then perhaps it doesn’t lie down again so quickly. The angry wind blows and sweeps everything with it. And it sweeps everything away, no matter where, but never back to this reality, which is supposed to be represented. Everywhere, except there. Reality is what gets under the hair, under the skirts and just that: sweeps them away and into something else.
How can the writer know reality, if it is that which gets into him and sweeps him away, forever onto the sidelines. From there, on the one hand, he can see better, on the other he himself cannot remain on the way of reality. There is no place for him there. His place is always outside. Only what he says from the outside can be taken up inside, and that because he speaks ambiguities. And then there are already two who fit, two whose faces are right, who warn, that nothing is happening, two who construe it in different directions, reach out to the inadequate grounds, which have long ago broken off like the fangs of the comb. Either or. True or false. It had to happen sooner or later, since the ground as building ground was quite inadequate. And how could one build on a bottomless pit anyway?
But the inadequacy that enters the writers’ field of vision, is still adequate enough for something, that they could also take or leave. They could take or leave it, and they do leave it. They don’t kill it. They merely look at it with their bleary eyes, but it does not become arbitrary because of this bleary gaze. The gaze is well aimed. Whatever is struck by this gaze says, even as it sinks down, although it has hardly been looked at, although it has not even been exposed to the sharp gaze of the public, whatever has been struck never says, that it could also have been something else, before it fell victim to this one description. It says exactly what had been better left unsaid (because it could have been better said?), what always had to remain unclear and groundless. Too many have already sunk into it up to their stomachs. It’s quicksand, but it doesn’t quicken anything. It is groundless, but not without grounds. It is as you like, but it is not liked.
The sidelines are at the service of the life, that precisely does not take place there, otherwise we would not all be in the thick of it, in the fullness, the fullness of human life, and it is at the service of the observation of the life, which is always taking place somewhere else. Where one is not. Why insult someone, because he cannot find his way back to the path of journeying, of life, of life’s journey, if he has borne it - and this bearing is no bearing someone, but nor is it any kind of bearing on - has simply fortuitously borne it, like the dust on a pair of shoes, which is pitilessly hunted down by the housewife, if a little less pitilessly than the stranger is hunted down by the locals. What kind of dust is it? Is it radioactive or active by itself, just like that, I’m only asking, because it leaves this strange trail of light on the way? Is what is running alongside and never meeting up with the writer again, the way, or is the writer the one who is running alongside, onto the sidelines? He has not yet passed away, but he’s already passed the line nevertheless. From there he sees those who have parted from him, but from one another too, in all their variety, in order to represent them in all their credulity, in order to get them on form, because form is the most important thing, anyway he sees them better from there. But that, too, is chalked up against him, so are those chalk marks and not particles of luminous matter, which mark the way of writing? At any rate it’s a marking out, which simultaneously shows and obscures and afterwards carefully covers up again the trail he himself laid. One was never there at all. But nevertheless one knows what’s up.
The words have come down from a screen, from blood-smeared faces distorted with pain, from laughing, made-up faces, with lips pumped up beforehand just for the make-up or from others, who gave the right answer to a question in a quiz, or born mouthers, women, who have nothing for and nothing against, who stood up and took off a jacket to point their freshly hardened breasts, which were once steeled and belonged to men, at the camera. In addition any amount of throats, out of which singing comes like bad breath, only louder. That is what could be seen on the way, if one were still on it. One goes out of the way of the way. Perhaps one sees it from a distance, where one remains alone, and how gladly, because one wants to see the way, but not walk it. Did this path make a noise just now? Does it want to draw attention to itself with noises now and not just with lights, loud people, loud lights? Is the way, which one cannot walk, afraid of not being walked at all, when so many sins are being constantly committed after all, torture, outrages, theft, threatening behaviour, necessary threat in the manufacture of significant world fates? It makes no difference to the way. It bears everything, firmly, even if groundlessly. Without ground. On lost ground.
My hair, as already mentioned, is standing on end, and no setting lotion there, which could force it to firm up again. No firmness in myself either. Not on me, not in me. When one’s on the sidelines, one always has to be ready to jump a bit and then another bit to the side, into the empty space, which is right next to the sidelines. And the sidelines have brought their sideline pitfall along with them, it’s ready at any time, it gapes wide, to lure one even further out. Luring out is luring in. Please, I don’t want to lose sight now of the way, which I’m not on. I would so like to describe it honestly and above all truly and accurately. If I’m actually looking at it, it should also do something for me.
But this way spares me nothing. It leaves me nothing. What else is there left for me? I am prevented from being on my way, I can hardly make my way at all. I am out, while not going out. And there, too, I should certainly like to have protection against my own uncertainty, but also against the uncertainty of the ground, on which I’m standing. It runs to make certain, not only to protect me, my language right beside me, and checks, whether I am doing it properly, describing reality properly wrongly, because it always has to be described wrongly, there’s no other way, but so wrongly, that anyone who reads or hears it, notices the falseness immediately. Those are lies! And this dog, language, which is supposed to protect me, that’s why I have him, after all, is now snapping at my heels. My protector wants to bite me. My only protector against being described, language, which, conversely, exists to describe something else, that I am not - that is why I cover so much paper - my only protector is turning against me. Perhaps I only keep him at all, so that he, while pretending to protect me, pounces on me. Because I sought protection in writing, this being on my way, language, which in motion, in speaking, appeared to be a safe shelter, turns against me. No wonder. I mistrusted it immediately, after all. What kind of camouflage is that, which exists, not to make one invisible, but ever more distinct?
Sometimes language finds itself on the way by mistake, but it doesn’t go out of the way. It is no arbitrary process, speaking with language, it is one that is involuntarily arbitrary, whether one likes it or not. Language knows what it wants. Good for it, because I don’t know, no not at all. Talk, talking in general keeps on talking over there now, because there’s always talking, talking, without beginning or end, but there’s no speaking. So there’s talking over there, wherever the others are staying, because they don’t want to linger, they’re very occupied. Only them over there. Not me. Only the language, which sometimes moves away from me, to the people, not the other people, but moves away over to the real, genuine, on the well-signposted way (who can go astray here?), following their every movement like a camera, so that it at least, the language, finds out, how and what life is, because then it is precisely not that, and afterwards all of it must be described, even in what it precisely is not. Let’s talk about the fact, that we are supposed to go for a medical check-up once again. Yet all at once we suddenly speak, with due rigour, like someone who has a choice, whether or not to speak. Whatever happens, only the language goes away from me, I myself, I stay away. The language goes. I stay, but away. Not on the way. And I’m speechless.
No, it’s still there. Has it perhaps been there all the time, did it weigh up, whom it could weigh down? It has noticed me now and immediately snaps at me, this language. It dares to adopt this tone of command to me, it raises its hand against me, it doesn’t like me. It would gladly like the nice people on the way, alongside whom it runs, like the dog it is, feigning obedience. In reality it not only disobeys me, but everyone else, too. It is for no-one but itself. It cries out through the night, because no-one has remembered to put up lights beside this way, which are supplied by nothing but the sun and no longer need any current at all from the socket, or to find the path a proper path name. But it has so many names, that it would be impossible to keep up with all the naming, if one tried. I shout across, in my loneliness, stamping across these graves of the departed, because since I am already running alongside, I cannot pay attention as well to what I’m treading on, whom I’m treading down, I would only somehow like to get to the place where my language already is, and where it smirks mockingly across at me. Because it knows, that, if I ever tried to live, it would soon trip me up, then rub salt in my wounds. Good. So I will scatter salt on the way of the others, I throw it down, so that their ice melts, coarse salt, so that their language loses its firm ground. And yet it has long been groundless. What bottomless cheek on its part! If I do not have solid ground under my feet, then my language can’t either. Serve it right! Why did it not stay with me, on the sidelines, why did it part from me? It wanted to see more than me? On the highway over there, where there are more people, above all more likeable ones, chatting nicely to each other? It wanted to know more than me?
It has always known more than me, it’s true, but it has to know even more than that. It will end up killing itself by eating into itself, my language. It will overindulge on reality. Serve it right! I spat it out, but it spits nothing out, it’s good at keeping it down. My language calls over to me, over on the sidelines, it likes best of all to call over to the sidelines, it doesn’t have to take such careful aim, but it doesn’t have to, because it always hits the target, not by saying something or other, but by speaking with the "austerity of letting be", as Heidegger says about Trakl. It calls me, language does, today anyone can do it, because everyone always carries their language around with them in a small gadget, so that they can speak, why would they have learned it?, so it calls me where I am caught in the trap and cry out and thrash about, but no, it’s not true, my language isn’t calling, it’s gone, too, my language has gone from me, that’s why it has to call, it shouts in my ear, no matter out of which gadget, a computer or a mobile phone, a phone booth, from where it roars in my ear, that there’s no point in saying something out loud, it already does that anyway, I should simply say what it tells me; because there would be even less point in for once speaking what was on one’s mind to a dear person, who has fallen down on the case and whom one can trust, because he has fallen and won’t get up again so quickly, in order to pursue one and, yes, to chat a little. There’s no point. The words of my language over there on the pleasant way (I know it’s more pleasant than mine, which is actually no way at all, but I can’t see it clearly, but I know, that I too would like to be there), the words of my language have, therefore, in parting from me, immediately become a speaking out.
No, no talking it out with someone. A speaking out. It listens to itself speaking out, my language, it corrects itself, because speaking can still be improved at any time; yes, it can always be improved, it is even entirely there to be improved and then to make a new linguistic ruling, but then only to be able immediately to overturn the rules again. That will then be the new way to salvation, of course I mean solution. A quick fix. Please, dear language, don’t you for once want to listen first? So that you learn something, so that you at last learn the rules of speaking ... What are you shouting and grumbling about over there? Are you doing it, language, so that I graciously take you in you again? I thought, you didn’t want to come back to me at all! There was no sign, that you wanted to come back to me, it would have been pointless anyway, I wouldn’t have understood the sign. You only became language to get away from me and to ensure that I got on? But nothing is ensured. And by you not at all, as well as I know you. I don’t even recognise you again. You want to come back to me of your own accord? I won’t take you in any more, what do you say to that?
Away is away. Away is no way. So if my loneliness, if my constant absence, my uninterrupted existence on the sidelines came in person to fetch back language, so that it, well-looked-after by me, at last came home, to a beautiful sound, which it could utter, then it would only happen, so that with this sound, this penetrating, piercing howling of a siren, blown by the wind, it could drive me further, ever further back from the sidelines. Because of the recoil of this language, which I myself produced and which has run away from me (or did I produce it for that purpose? So that it immediately runs away from me, because I have not managed to run away from myself in time?), I am chased ever deeper into this space beyond the sidelines. My language is already wallowing blissfully in its muddy pool, the little provisional grave on the way, and it looks up at the grave in the air, it wallows on its back, a friendly creature, which would like to please human beings like any respectable language, it wallows, opens its legs, presumably to let itself be stroked, why else. It’s greedy for caresses, after all. That stops it from gazing after the dead, so that I must gaze after them instead, and of course in the end it’s down to me. So I had no time to curb my language, which now shamelessly rolls around under the hands of the caressers. There are simply too many dead, whom I have to see to, that’s an Austrian technical term for: whom I have to look after, whom I have to treat well, but then we’re famous for that, for always treating everyone well.
The world is looking to us, no need to worry. We don’t have to take care of that. Yet the more clearly this demand, to gaze at the dead, sounds in me, the less am I able to pay attention to my words. I must gaze at the dead, while meanwhile the strollers are stroking the good old language and chucking it under the chin, which doesn’t make the dead any more alive. No one is to blame. Even I, dishevelled as I and my hair are, am not to blame for the dead staying dead. I want the language over there to finally stop making itself the slave of strangers’ hands, no matter how good it feels, I want it to begin by stopping making demands, but itself become a demand, to finally face up to, not the caresses, but a demand to come back to me, because language always has to face up, only doesn’t always know it and doesn’t listen to me. It has to face up, because the people who want to adopt it instead of a child, it’s so lovable, if one loves it, people therefore never face up, they decide, they don’t answer calls, many of them even immediately destroyed, tore up, burnt their call-up order to sociability, and the flag along with it.
So the more people who take up the invitation of my language to scratch its stomach, to ruffle something, to affectionately accept its friendliness, the further I stumble away, I have finally lost my language to those who treat it better, I’m almost flying, where on earth was this way, that I need in order to hurry down? How do I get where to do what? How do I get to the place, where I can unpack my tools, but in reality can right away pack them up again? Over there something bright is gleaming under the branches, is that the place, where my language first of all flatters the others, rocks them into a sense of security, only in order for itself to be lovingly rocked in the end for once? Or does it want to snap again? It always wants to do nothing but bite, only the others don’t know it yet, but I know it very well, it was with me for a long time. Beforehand there’s first of all cuddles and whispering sweet nothings to this seemingly tame creature, which everyone has at home anyway, why should they bring a strange animal into the house? So why should this language be any different from what they already know? And if it were different, then perhaps it might be dangerous to take it in.
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