OCCASIONAL COMMENTS ON PSCHO-ANALYTIC MATTERS + CONTIBUTIONS fromMICHAEL ROLOFF Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben]

Friday, May 15, 2015



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

FIRST SCREEN MEMORY FROM "screen memories"


Saturday, May 2, 2015

THE Charlie Hebdo CONTROVERSY & P.E.N.

La lotta continua

 Jesusl I find the HEBDO cartoons so over the top that I consider anyone who cannot laugh their head off at them to be he worst of dunces. So the question of dissonance between intent and effect does not arise for me. And if they changed as Jeff suggests they do the way Crumb & other American cartoonists changed I think they would lose the ability to make me laugh., The question of political correctness - HEBDO is beyond that! Well, as to senstitivities: what makes Islamists so hyper-sensitive to the slightest of slights? Perhaps HEBDO has not done a good enough job in getting them to laugh at themselves?
They ought to be got to laugh so hard that they implode instead of massacre cartoonits etc.

Charlie Hebdo

Religion has been defined as “the opium of the masses” & it appears and it has been said that within the context of homo {allegedly) sapiens's development from the dawning questioning of the whys and wherefores of existence religion served a palliative narrative function, and it did so, invariably by elevating immediate, family relations into a godly status, into supernal realms. That stage allegedly constituted the infancy of reason and it produced priests who served to maintain the various truth claims & ensure obedience to various rules and rituals, and did so for the powerful who had and continue to have vested interests in uniformity of belief.
(The need for “belief” in this context can be regarded as a form of “addiction.”)
Retrospectively, these elevations, in the form of revered images & architecture & music & texts & practices are regarded as having artistic value, enticements, embellishments – i.e. attend Mass at the Cathedral of Burgos on Todos Santos and how can you not be (at least secretly) an addict to Catholicism for the rest of your life!
Focusing on the three sectarian-prone major strains of the Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity & Islam – it becomes evident that no matter their common ancestry (and what commonalities they continue to share) each of them makes the claim to be the only true and valid one; indoctrinate their children in their beliefs & oppose any divergence from these norms, and tend to be vengeful when its claims are attacked, and when a split occurs, most famously currently the one between Shiites & Sunnis: in other words each religion exhibits certain all too human-beastly qualities, one of which is narcissistic sensitivity. Judaism, except until very recently, until the founding of Israel (that is within the time span of intra-religious warfare of these three strains) has not been in the position to commit the kinds of conversion slaughter that, historically, marks the spread of Christianity & of Islam and of the sectarian warfare within Christianity and Islam, although Judaism, too, is marked by differentiations into sects.
Recent history would make one believe that the adherents of Islam are especially hyper-sensitive to any form of disrespect of their beliefs, and indeed it seems to takes little to get masses of them to mount outraged demonstrations, let us just think back to the split that produced the states of India and Pakistan; historically, Christianity & Hinduism, however, have proved equally sensitive. So it is not a matter of which or what religion but of human identification with one or the other of them that appears to be at stake, and critique, lack of respect, of the slightest kind can elicit the most violent response by those whose apparently fragile identity is threatened. The volatility of the issue is evident from the reaction of the one LIVING expansionist religion within secularized Europe (and of course a hundredfold more in the region that stretched from the Far to the Near East and farther West). Nationalism can serve the same identity-forming purposes and critiques of it elicit the same ferocious responses; fundamentalisms of various kinds are as tetchy as ever to burn witches.
Within that historical context and within the context of French history the very existence of an equal opportunity offender satirical magazine like Charlie Hebdo & its marvelously puerile ENTIRELY OVER THE TOP caricatures is unique: after all, you can be formally sentenced to death for far lesser forms of lack of respect in many an Islamic state and, informally, murdered en masse by ISIL & its LARGE variety of similar manifestations of fundamentalist Islam.
The Islamist reactions to the Charlie Hebdo cartoons thus show deadly humorlessness, although I wonder whether certain sitting Israeli ducks, subjected to the same treatment, would be welcomed with the same laughter.

Thursday, October 30, 2014




‭I + II + III + IV + V

Like Lothar Struck‭ (‬a/k/a‭ “‬the pseudo Gregor Keuschnig‭”) ‬who dissertates so nicely on the subject‭ of the theme of idiocy in Handke @‬:

  I,‭ ‬too,‭ ‬could not fail to note during the course of reading the mounting oeuvre Handke’s surprisingly frequent mention of his affinity to idiots.‭ Unlike Struck (a devotee whose uncritical hagiography manages to turn Handke into a bore)   I  - who feels no affinity but horror at the sight of idiots (1)- saw Handke - as artist an idiot savant for sure -  occasionally behave in what is normally considered an idiotic or very odd fashion, so that I felt, at times, that Kaspar’s discombobulations in the eponymous play, while educated by prompters into a “normal” human being, was a deep projection (“Civilization and its discontents” if you will). 
However, for me, the only interesting and useful thing that Handke - aside whatever affinity he feels - has ever said about the subject that might lead to some understanding of his kind of idiocy (in lieu of the forever literary banging about of the term in everyone from Dostoijevsky to Handke) comes in his booklength interview with Herbert Gantscher Ich lebe doch nur von den Zwischenraeumen,‭ 

‭The above transpires in 1971. I have known Peter Handke, if imperfectly, since 1966, then as compared to now. I know awfully little about his past (Die Hornissen makes you speculate, but that it is confirmedly autobiographical is a matter for the future assessment)

‭, I have known him for five years, since the Gruppe 47 meeting at Princeton in May 1966. We have met maybe half a dozen times.

His famous Princeton attack didn’t do much for someone who had been in U.S. writing seminars; what bugged me was Hans Werner Richter’s cutting off a possible discussion. On the other hand, Handke’s generalized attack is typical of his future public statements, whether by design or characteristic ill-temper, which guarantees controversy in the controversy hungry media. It is a well documented event as well as recorded, also photographically: after Richter had advised Handke that comments were reserved for specific texts, Handke reiterated his initial attack, sounding like a broken record. I have heard of  Handke supposedly rehearsing his statement! 
The event is characteristic of Handke’s exhibitionism  - whether autistic exhibitionism differs in its aggressive, intentionally disturbing as well as demanding yet in an artist’s case also giving nature I might be able to say if I had a firmer grasp on Handke’s autism, which I do not. What seems odd about this event in retrospect of what we now know about Handke is that someone who literally rehearsed writing as a teenager the way others do, say piano or violin, who felt like a “made man” when Suhrkamp Verlag accepted his 1964 novel Die Hornissen, to the extent of abruptly breaking off his law studies at University of Graz, was in such a rush to become known that he could not wait for the novel’s publication that fall or the imminent premiere of Offending the Audience at TAT, Theater am Turm, or he felt so confident that he’d take a chance of drawing the spotlight on himself for it then to fall on his productions. The Princeton statement manifests the stand-up of a contrarian, who would go against however the main streamed, aufmuepfig is the wonderful Austrian term for this kind of irredentism, and of the spirit of a potential revolutionary. His subsequent essay I am an Inhabitant of the Ivory Tower, and others, seemed consistent with that spirit, although if you read and experience Kaspar you would have a hard time proving that its author was not eminently aware of and subversive of politics in a most fundamental, anarchist way. The objective of the status quo that is in power then is to buy off to still the irrendentism and turn it to its advantage, and in that respect Handke’s career becomes an object lesson, where ultimately, despite his odd foray into political activism in behalf of the deserved justice for the unjustly maligned Serbians there is a retreat into the classic position of a conservative parallel world of literature whence the literary God sends the occasional missive to disrupt and improve the conditions in Central Europe and beyond. What will be left are an toolbox of innovations that few will have the ability to comprise within their talents.

‭At Princeton, at that moment, I happened to be sitting next to Erich Kuby,

‭the journalist, whom I knew from Hamburg. At first I had sat on the podium, next to H. M. Enzenberger

‭whom I’d first met in 1961 at Ruth Landshof-York’s

‭on Cornelia Street in the Village, N.Y.C. Kuby happened to know the name of the upstart. Someone said “Ach ein Maedchen.” Subsequently Handke announced to the world that he was “the new Kafka.” You all recall the first Kafka’s announcement of his first coming!
I had met Richter
‭in Berlin the year past, introduced by Uwe Johnson  ‬
‭I think, or Peter Weiss ‬
‭ and  we aappear to have failed to make a memorable impressions on each other, and it was Weiss I think or Weiss and Johnson whom I had to thank for being invited to Princeton. I think - ah “memory thinks”! - that I recall every moment I was with Johnson and Weiss and Grass. Weiss and I hit it off especially well, his softness and mine, but I haven’t the slightest recollection of the meeting with Richter in Berlin, and it appears I didn't especially impress him, this master seargent who had learned about democracy as a U.S. p.o.w. 
‭  I had the hunch that what Handke had in mind in his attack was stuff like Guenter Herburger’s

‭neo-realism which I knew from my scouting days in 1964 at Kiepenheuer &  Witch, so that when Handke showed up at the party that (Seele aus Holz) Jakov Lind,
‭ and I, and the heiress Pannah Grady 

Obituary: Philip O'Connor - The Independent › News › Obituaries
The Independent
Jun 2, 1998 - ... beautiful and beguiling American Panna Grady, whose self-effacing generosity to artists and writers in her New York apartment in the Dakota ...

‭had dreamed up at her utterly splendid apartment in the Dakota I approached him‭  
‭to ascertain whether I had guessed right - I mean, he couldn’t mean Grass, Johnson, Peter Weiss, Alexander Kluge and quite a few others, or he was a true idiot who should not have been at the meeting! Eventually, via an essay in 

Meine Ortstafeln - Meine Zeittafeln: 1967 - 2007‭ ‬

I find out that I had guessed correctly. 
German Amazon being far more compleat

‭Handke, in his Beatles phase, that evening in Spring 1966 was wearing an open collar shirt, of small brown, yellow and black chex, a red or pink carnation in its pocket, and dark sun glasses in surroundings which could not have been more favorably disposd, nearly as favorable as Elaine’s, toward making everyone look expensively tanned; and Handke like a NY hoodlum, who, thinking they are incognito? at least can not be seen focusing their eyes, wear sun glasses at all times of day and nite; and it was my querey “why those glasses?” that initiated our contact, Handke replying, that he had eye-problems, as he will describe them later in L.St.V. which prevent him from acquiring a driver’s license, life-long.
For many years, then, Handke will wear shades, in the many photographs, although the predominance of sunglasses will eventually, noticeably, cease, as though the problem had been licked, improbably so if genetic. I can’t say that anyone else has noticed, in print.‭

‭Spending time at the UCLA medical library back in the late 80s to track down the rare symptomalogy I figured hysteria - since he himself had found no other family member with similar manifestations - would be a sufficiently good explanation for Handke’s eye problems. Perhaps related to autistic episodes, which are related to Handke’s seemingly forever wanting to “run amok"?, not just as in the early seventies when he is panicked and distraught by both his mother’s suicide but by the wife fleeing. ‬
‭We are in a side room, Handke evidently uneager to talk and I don’t get the opportunity to ask my question as he drifts away and his host has other matters to attend to. At the next opportunity to talk to Handke he is in Panna’s main splendid dining room but - as I am about to ask my question - Allen Ginsberg - this is the first time I catch actual live sight of his eminently recognizable visage
‭- approaches me and asks me to tell Handke that he wants to fuck him. 
This is a new one on me, I’ve not even heard a man ask a woman in that straightforward a fashion at that point, and it will be about another decade before women become that straight forward in “post pill paradise.”
I am taken aback. Ginsberg repeats his demand in peremptory tones. “Translate for him that I want to fuck him” (it appears Ginsberg is ignorant of the prevalance of English in European curricula) at which point my green-blue Prussian eyes turn into daggers, Ginsberg backs off and I notice, out of the side of my left eye, Handke grin his famous Handke grin. (Grins like a complete idiot one could say!) What would my hyper-civilized grandmothers have said to all this!
‭  “Well, that’s nice, at least he has a sense of humor and is not as offended as I am,”  is the sense of a thought that flits through my noggin -  I’ll try to laugh, too, the next time this happens. However, whom Ginsberg actually means to fuck as it turns out passes Handke by (which may be part of the explanation of what Handke utters once he emerges back out of the juke box at my apartment five years hence), and is a matter that is not cleared up until about 15 years later, and that makes his grin appear in a very different light, namely that of the unconstrained sadist.   
‭see: ‬
In Fall of that year, 1966, I decide that  Die Hornissen is not a book I will propose at Farrar, Straus where, just married, but to
‭a woman lacking social finesse, which is why I have not brought her along to the Panna Grady party for Gruppe 47, I have found a toehold as editor for German books: perhaps if I had a job at the preferred Grove Press who, however, has the far more experienced editor for German matters in Fred Jordan for whom I’d done quite a bit of work; but Fred - who must have read the book and got wind of Handke - didn’t do it either.
‭  However, with seconding from Susan Sontag, I manage to talk FSG - via telegram from Europe - into taking on Handke’s second novel, Der Hausierer, the very one that he read from at Princeton, and his early plays, in 1967. Trying to come up with a translator I fiddle around with Self-Accusation & Offending the Audience (Public Insult as I prefer to call it now, still chickening out at Abusing the Public) and the translation work turns out to be a lot of fun; see
A 30 Year-After Near-Posthumous Note on Peter Handke's Public Insult ‭@:
‭and then, no one wanting to do these plays in New York, a hippie troupe with friend and author (at Metamorphosis) Michael Locascio (just now deceased) returning from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico I troupe around from venue to venue that I find for us, and thus the translations become well honed and I have my first experience of audience reactions to these plays. 
Then Kaspar is added to the Sprechstuecke. I work on all of these with Herbert Berghof and E.G. Marshall ‬
‭at the HB Studio, ‬
‭but it doesn’t lead to anything anywhere since Herbert & Uta live in a world unto themselves. 
The next time I see Handke is in 1969 in Berlin, to discuss my Kaspar translation, and Der Hausierer.
Handke is living in the Uhland Strasse, an area I know quite well from the Berlin semester of my Junior Year abroad (I lived at the corner of Fasanen & Kant in one room of the two room apartment of a redhead medical student and her Hungarian sheepdog with whom I’d play “catch” the tennis ball that I kept throwing against the wall of my room in amazement that this springy creature could actually see anything through its shock of sheep’s wool). According to Adorno (from whose work I was gathering myself an Adorno Reader, again with dear Susan’s blessing of the promise of an introduction) Handke resides in a prince’s apartment, which primes me for princely expection, and not a dank, barely lighted space filled with stacks upon stacks of newspapers. Handke’s near instantaneous suggestion to go somewhere outdoors is most welcome. Prior to leaving, however, I am shown his newborn, Amina, maybe half a year old - something that puzzles me just a tad, since the presentation of newborns is something that to my way of thinking is generally left to mothers. (vide again  ‬   
‭ where I am being punished by not being shown the apparently and surprisingly retrieved runaway Libgart who, so I had assumed, on the phone, to be Handke’s secretary! - not shown because I have outplayed him at Tarok!) 
I happen to adore babies (unless too screechy) and most likely made all kinds of goo-goo sounds during eye contact, and am I ever glad I did: vide Kindergeschichte and Handke taking umbrage at the Berlin revolutionaries who had come to proseletize him who expressed no interest in babies. 
What I recall from the time at the outdoor spot on the Ku-Damm is Handke expressing the wish that especially the beginning of Kaspar the openings sentence “I want to be like somebody else once was” be as abstract as possible, and revealing, to heartfelt chagrin, that Der Hausierer was chockful of quotes from American detective stories & taken from their German translation. The idea of tracking down their originals! I was not going to translate them straight! I even failed to ask Handke if he knew whence in each translated book they derived... maybe he would have recalled and that would have done the trick; thus, Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick became the first Handke novel in English, a far simpler book. Hausierer, still a wonderful book to my way of thinking, Virginia  Woolfe like in its delicacy, still strikes me as “the new Kafka’s”  wonderful literary way of playing with anxeity, and stilling it.

‭Subsequent to the 1969 Berlin meeting there follows the so eventful 1971 N.Y.visit and the threesome’s assuming that I as Suhrkamp agent am their second home away from home, the first being the Austrian cultural center, somewhere in the East 50ties I think along whose balustrade and staircase Libgart plays a ravishingly enticing Ride Across Lake Constance. However, it becomes apparent that Handke is not so much married to Libgart but to Freddie Koleritsch, the two being engaged in literary theory talk, and if I had been clued into their terminology I might have become equally involved, for there were few matters I kept thinking on as consistently as the theory of the novel ever since reading Henry James prefaces‭ 
 Handke was anything but happy with Schulz’s premiere of Self-Accusation & My Foot My Tutor, at Robert Kalfin’s Chelsea Theater playing at Brooklhn Academy  of Music (“Just as well that this was done in Brooklyn,”), but wanted to talk to the director, whom, during the cab ride back to Manhattan, he describes as “very dark” or, at my interjection, “at least very German." - I’d had no hint of anything of the kind, except perhaps I ought to have taken his courting of me more seriously, a girlfriend, the very actress (my one and only actress!) for whom I had left my wife, mentioned that Schulz would shout, as which German director didn’t. At Elaine’s's
‭the Freddie/ Peter couple resumed their intense devotion to each other which left Libgart and me to our devices which quickly involved a lot of hanky panky under the table cloth. On leaving and Handke taking a photo of us three, my right hand caressing Libgart’s ass, and just the way she took my hand and moved it to her waist tells me what a clever lover she would be. It was evident that this smashing girl had not been loved for years. As an incompetent roue, however, I failed to write “Zum Friseur” and my telephone # on the inside of one of Elaine’s big wide yellow matchbooks! but wanted to walk opportunistically home to the Algonquin Hotel to which Handke had transferred after finding the Austrian-designated digs not to his liking. Handke the walker however was exhausted and wanted to take a cab. 
Just imagine the conversation 
“Ist da beim Friseur?”
“Ja, Sonderangebot bei Schamhaaren heute.”‬  ‭And what if Libgart, after a good loving, had not wanted to return to the man she would flee in a few months?‭ 
‭and Handke had starts to have his breakdown for his wife leaving him already at that time? No, SHORT LETTER LONG FAREWELL, impossible all around complications. A true Ride Across Lake Constance moment!  Barely averted disaster!
We now come to the moment were Peter Handke - the guests, including my flaxen-haired girlfriend Renate have flown the roost - returns to the world of the living from his involvement/ in my record player juke box. And his first words are?
Addressed to me.
“Du bist ja schwul!” ( You’re gay. )
I have just dwelled on the sight of Handke squatting by my record player “just like a woman” and recalling his being called “Maedchen” in Princeton, and, perhaps some kind of unconscious communication prodeeds to return the compliment.
Fighting words under certain circumstances. 
Not only that of course, but the kind of gaucherie that only a socially inept idiot would commit.
Within the span of a few minutes the kind of behavior that can get you tossed out of a room!
I happen to be aware that at certain moments, say when I am holding a cigarette, I do so like my mother, who was the first person I ever saw smoke; the only person, no matter how rarely we saw each other, I would listen to as a child. The Volksschule SS teacher who had slapped me for saluting Hitler’s photo with the wrong arm objected to my cleaning the lint out of the corners of my eyes “just like a woman.” - I ought of course have corrected him, and said: “Just like my mother.” But I didn’t think there was anything wrong with that. I felt fairly secure in my love of making love to beautiful women. A few men had made passes at me, but none of my gay friends, it created a real problem the one time it did at camp. Later on in life, that is now, I sometimes think that there was one male friend I could have made love to, if that would have persuaded him not to join a Sufi sect where folks lifted rocks in their heads; that is, Michael Lebeck who with that act ended a promising career as a publisher and translator and poet. However, even that is entirely speculative, and only shows that I loved him, since I never had the opportunity or choice, and Michael’s departure into the world of mental rocklifters greeted me upon my return from Europe, and I had not had the faintest.
Meanwhile clever Libgart knew the way out of the awkward moment by pointing to herself and saying “Michael and I would tear each other’s clothes off if you and Kolleritsch were not around.”
No, Libgart did not need to mention anything of the kind. She pointed to the just departed 
‭Renate as an obvious love interest of mine. 
True, not just a love interest but one that made me fiendishly jealous at the slightest provocation, which just proves the point that extreme jealousy means that the jealous one, me in this instance, is the one who cannot trust the strength of his attachment, and is liable, as was I, to bed Libgart, and even run off with her if I, say, had the money, and forget all about Renate, the best of the post marriage girlfriends just about, at least an equal if not superior, and the mistake of succumbing to Siegfried Unseld’s imprecations and becoming the Suhrkamp agent in New York.‭ 
Libgart’s so pointing seemed to do the trick. However, what she was also pointing out was that Handke had remained entirely oblivious of her and mine if only emotional and potentially physical involvement. Yet... and yet if we read Short Letter Long Farewell and read it autobiographically, the German writer has a different awareness that his wife is furious at him, as Libgart was at Handke to the extent that she would flee to Peymann shortly after. And as would the second wife, Sophie Semin, flee the “cold salamander” about the time of the production of the great VOYAGE BY DUGOUT in 1994.‭

‭where he confesses - the interview derives from the mid-80s -  that he still suffered from “occasional autistic episodes.” 
Unlikely as it is that Handke self-diagnosed certain of his states of mind in that fashion (perhaps the psychotherapeutician he saw during his first Paris years - 1972-79 - did, see Weight of the World (has quotations)
‭- and what he means by autistic episodes may become clearer as I proceed - and crude as the categories autism and autistic episodes are, at the very least they provide  entry into understanding of what transpires. 
If Handke is autistic it certainly would be on the Asperger’s direction of the syndrome’s continuum (2), not that that either helps very much but hints at his unusually high intellectual abilities simultaneous with I would say former, once socially inept, gauche behavior, what his deceased antagonist Reichs-Ranicki used to call “tollpatschig.” - Kaspar sure was tollpatchig, too! - However, autism is not “episodic,” it is a permanent condition that can be alleviated, behavioristically. Handke strikes me as rather different now, in many ways, than he was in the 70s in Paris, which however, it appears does not mean that what I think he means by “autistic episodes” have disappeared.
Without using categories of any kind, or at least of that kind, let me take a different tack.
 I think it has become evident, and we might agree, even those who only know his texts, that Handke has the nose of a bloodhound, and - despite periodic variations in color perception (L.St.V.) - has the microscopic vision of an eagle (“the moon is one degree slighter now”), the sensitivity of a porpoise, and the hearing of a bat and, as the “restaurateur” of Nomansbay - who keeps going broke while serving the best word salad in the world (a part object if ever there was say my “object relations friends!)  evidently has the taste buds of the finickiest of cats, all of which can produce extraordinary sensory overload unless you have the requisite buffer (processor), which is where the problem may reside; also for psychotic seizures of the kind that he calls “wishes to run amok.” The once nausea prone Handke comes to mind! (“Nausea of the eyeballs!” anyone?) Surfeit, the Handke who is so nauseated by the bodies of his fellow students when he starts to attend boarding school that he seeks refuge in the shit house - and, it appears, very much likes the smell of his own shit!
Handke even now wants to run amok
‭(when in fact a lot of people are doing so! and he no longer needs to worry about how few it is that are!) and not just when he is psychically severely wounded as he was in the early 70s with a mother’s suicide and a wife disparu. 
The only “rational" reason for lifelong rage can be found in Handke’s childhood decade-long exposure to violent drunken primal scenes, plus the example of the violent stepfather whose violence went punished.

‭  Handke as a self-described “Muttersoehnchen” (mama’s boy) uniquely lacks a significant father figure until he acquires one for himself in the form of grandfather Sivec, during the writing of The Repetition in the mid-80s. -  Handke is indeed incredibly fortunate to have found literature as his salvation, otherwise he’d be locked up for life! Or, like “Albin” of WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES, released from prison, this ex-goalkeep construction worker continues to play sadistic tricks! What I am excluding are genetic matters. The psychological  circumstances of Handke’s childhood suffice as explanations. Thus ‬his feeling like an idiot or affinity with idiots may not just be a “feeling of estrangement” from the the mass of people, of feeling like anoter, of feeling equally dumbfounded and out of it as a street idiot appears to be, but may be related to the persistence of Handke’s wish to run amok. As a theme “running amok” crops up first in the Nonsense & Happiness poems and the stormy period that produced them

yet it recurs in VOYAGE BY DUGOUT (in the form of the “ultra madman” - mad cause of the madness of the war!) and, to my great surprise, crops up in this recent aforementioned interview.

Handke is furious at the sheeples/ oxen for their patience with “the state of things.”
His knowledge of Marx’s concept of the “lethargy of history” does not appear to suffice - I am assuming that someone who knows the concept of “use value” as his Bankieress does in SIERRA DEL GREDOS and that the person who wrote THEY ARE DYING OUT in the 70s has not forgotten his Marx altogether - here the writer of GEDICHT AN DIE DAUER, an arch-conservative, statement if ever there was one, comes on like the revolutionary he refused to be in the 60s! 
After completing that unusually objective and well-rounded novel KALI (SALTWORKS)

 Handke wonders out loud how it is that things actually continue to work. Indeed, the apprehension that at any moment they might stop working altogether persists, and that the “humbug” of Nonsense  might burst forth. 
  Thus the presumption that the newest manifestation and realization of the classical impulse might be what in Germanistik used to be referred to as “gel√§utert” (refined, purified) appears not to be the case. He’s as passionate and furious as he was as a kid, this won’t be an instance, if there ever really was one, of an old soldier fading away. This is ‭the same Handke who apparently lives on the knife’s edge of psychosis, who is violence prone, who hits his two year old when she screams while his basement is flooding, who has been violent to women; and who in Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick has his protagonist Bloch strangle the girl he picked up the night before and does so during a psychotic anger attack where he sees the water bubbling on the hot plate like a swarm of ants: has there ever been a better metaphor for the onset of a psychotic episode, for apparently unmotivated murder? -
But be all that as it may, let me describe two or three contradictory and two near simultaneous instances of very odd behavior by the “Idiot from Griffen.” (The allusion for those who are unfamiliar with Sartre’s work is with his book about Flaubert: “L’idiot de Famille.” ‬'Idiot_de_la_famille‭)

The year is 1971.
Austria sends the “Kultur Paket” Handke, Kolleritch (of Stadtpark Forum Graz fame) & Libgart Schwarz, a successful actress, married to Handke, to the USA, first to New York, then all over the U/S of A. We all come to know of that trip via Handke’s novel A SHORT LETTER LONG FAREWELL, where Kolleritsch appears as the “Austrian Dramaturg”, Libgart is the “femme disparu” who instills fear in the German writer.
I happen to be the translator of Handke’s early plays - by 1971 however I am also the Suhrkamp agent in New York, recently divorced from my first wife, involved in my second post divorce affair, and my apartment quickly turns into the threesome’s home away from home. The arrival of the Kulturpaket coincides with the official premiere of the first Handke plays in the U.S.A. (2). I have arranged a small party at my apartment at 55th and Sixth Avenue, to which I have invited the first American critics who express themselves favorably (even before they see productions) about Handke’s work, Kaspar & Other Plays, the drama critic Richard Gilman & film critic Stanley Kaufman. Handke, Gilman, Kaufman & I form a foursome that is discussing... I wish I could remember precisely what the conversation concerned at the moment to which I am about to come. The director of the play Wieland Schulz, whom Handke had described as “very dark” on meeting for a few minutes subsequent to the premiere is standing
‭ near the window, my terrific girlfriend Renate Karlin, a recently divorced mother of two young kids, a professor of Art at Sarah Lawrence, may be engaged in conversation with Libgart, I don’t know if I invited anyone from Farrar, Straus who did not show up at that premiere or any other, I may have asked Herbert Berghof and E.G. Marshal (3)... and I ought to have but they are not present.
 I think Dick Gilman (who also had seen as yet unpublished translations of mine, say of Ride Across Lake Constance) might have been inquiring about Wittgenstein (Dick and I had a life-long unsettled running argument to the effect that I felt it was irrelevant that Handke had used Wittgenesteinian interrogational methods in the play, legal to and fro would have done for the Jesuitical Socratic deconstruction too, and Dick that Wittgenstein was essential).
During the discussion Handke mid-someone’s sentence peels off, really like a fighter plane... to my left and squats down by my record player, which is on a bottom bookshelf and in a corner, and I think puts on a Beatles record, and squats in such a way that I can’t help the thought “just like a woman” flit through my head. You will find an analogous photo here, where Handke is sorting through some photos.
‭and others were he is gesticulating where he appears to look thoroughly effeminate. (also lots where he appears to look determinately male!)
Something had evidently become too much, or too stupid. Instead of fleeing to the shithouse Handke sticks his head into the nearest accessible musical envelope.
The remaining threesome look at each other, Gilman and Kaufman leave shortly after.
Since I am so incredibly prescient I realized right there and then that I am beholding the future author of The Assaying of the Jukebox

‭enter as close to a jukebox as he could - actually I only happen to show one jukebox to Handke, it was the great one at Barnabus Rex when Andreas “Ace” Nowara was the head bartender during the mid-70s (on Duane Street, between Hudson & West Broadway), a jukebox that traveled with Ace to his other venues, Mickey’s at Greenwich & Warren, and then to The Raccoon Lodge, at Warren and West Broadway. That visit is memorialized in Die Geschichte des Bleistift’s

‭where Handke notes that he observed someone (me) who was as playful as he was serious: I was playing pool while Handke and Michael Brodsky conversed. And something else transpired between Handke and me to which I will come later. 
What I never forget about that early evening was the broad smile of delight on “Ace’s” face when he was introduced to Handke: Ace had been a drama student under Carl Weber at NYU and thus knew Handke’s plays that Weber had directed, but had a nitely stint as the maestro of one of the great downtown venues that promised unending nightly drama- & comedylets

‭and ex-nearly wife Laurie Spiegel fainting as she entered Barney’s and beheld me and Handke, and Tim Burns, the Aussie sheepfarmer Maoist, then carrying her home the half block to the loading dock of what had been also my loft. Anyhow, Laurie, fainting, not wanting to know, in no position to throw two by fours!
‭  No, I was was not in the least prescient, I knew no such thing, although after translating Handke’s early plays and working on their productions and giving serious thought to translating the novel Der Hausierer it dawned on me that I was encountering A LIVING GENIUS, not just one of those embalmed by literary history. Thus, the awareness that whoever you are in touch with is an other, of whatever kind, there was the added awareness that this Handke other was also of another, and higher order, a realization that introduced puzzlement that has not ceased. And as little as I conceived of someone writing something like JUKEBOX was I yet, but at least dimly, aware that Handke in a most unusual fashion was seeking to transform literature into something approximating music, as I then found it eventually appropriate to think of him at least as much as a composer as a writer. Formalism concentrates, which is why it impacts.
What now follows, with the guests departed, is Handke resurfacing as it were “out of his juke box” immersion and committing the kind of gaucherie that might be typical of an autist as he insults his host, me, while also manifesting the kind of extraordinary UNawareness that seems improbable in light of the afore-enumerated sensitivities. 


Upon the threesome’s return from their 21 dates in 28 days marathon sprint, a Gewalt Tour, the Austrian threesome promptly shows up at their home away from home. They didn’t so much make a trip report, Short Letter Long Farewell I guess would be it, the first thing they do was ask if I could guess who had flown with them to Atlanta, and keep insisting until I threw up my hands in despair, “How in God’s name”, whereupon they fess up: “Muhammed Ali/ Cassius Clay” and they’d got themselves an autograph! Now I realize more than then what kids they were! The second thing I recall happening is that Kolleritsch was having a tachycardia and lay down on my once marriage bed; Peter, energized, asks for the nearest store for international newspapers and magazine - lucky he had Rizzoli’s and the St. Regis within a few blocks; and Libgart decides to rest on the day bed in my studio, I managed to withstand temptation as I 
liebaeugelt her: this is not the occasion for a quickie. Yet it was not long before one of the males finally seems to notice something. “Libgart, du bist so anders!” says Kolleritsch and I don’t recall Libart’s reply if any. The reason I bring up the sexual tension between Libgart and me a second time is how Handke nonetheless apprehended some of her unhappiness and fury at her insulting husband who was seen going off with other women during this trip (say, at the Austrian shindig at U.C. Riverside) and how this entered, thematically and structurally in such a literary way - girl & gun, a la Farewell my Lovely - into A SHORT LETTER LONG FAREWELL. A shame that a philanderer par excellence like Handke, also besieged of course by girls what with “post pill heaven” upon us all (very much a la his DON JUAN), then can’t write an honest book of some kind, be it novel or account, about how distraught they then become if the woman, the mother-ship to which they keep returning after bedding other beauties, then says she has had it, and in Libgart’s case flees “the cold salamander.” This event, not only in Handke’s case, then becomes “the worst thing that ever happened to me,” and becomes such an insult to the system, in Handkes’s case coinciding with his mother’s suicide, that his panic attacks land him in a Paris hospital.

Poor Baby!
I find no realization at that time that Handke connects his insulting behavior to the wife’s decision to split, which doesn’t mean that the notebooks are devoid of it. The like will happen with the second marriage when Sophie Semin splits at the first opportunity - her role in Peymann’s production of VOYAGE BY DUGOUT in 1999 - to have an affair with a fellow cast member. Anything for a little warmth after living with the salamander who of course, as usual, was sleeping around;  that is, with everyone but the wife, this time though I at least have no evidence of a major fuguing event. By the time of the 2007 MORAVIAN NIGHT - which contains a wonderfully secret theme of true love found in comparatively old age, and all kinds of accurate assessment of what dangers women can present to an author (Hear, hear!!!) who wants to write and nothing but write - Handke has evidently figured out that it is possible to separate living and working quarters.

This is the sort of stuff that is missing from Herwig’s also in other ways yet by no means entirely useless biography.

Is Handke’s kind of obliviousness idiotic, to re-iterate the theme of this focus? Is it idiotic to need to take recourse to literary models in a presentation, or impressions? Only from the point of view of the non-literary. For them Handke is a perfect ass in a world of “Midsummer Nigth Dreams.”
He might have a split is an idea that occurs.
The fact that at that time I would have torn Libgart’s clothes off signified that I did not regard Handke a friend; for, as compared to most heterosexual male friends, most of whom hounddogged whatever pretty woman I was with, going back to the first girlfriends during the last two years of highschoool (Oakwood Friends, outside Poughkeepsie) I never houndogged not even when a friend’s affair indicated she wanted to bed me as well. The friendship with the man was always more important, my sensitive Oedipal antannae, my non-Alpha male being that knew to defer, knew to a high degree of certainty that anything of the kind spelled trouble; even becoming involved with a male friend’s ex of whatever kind was a no no. And I continue to be puzzled at myself why in this instance I would have thrown all apprehensions to the wind. Was Libgart that rasant? Apparently so, it must have been the way she decended the staircase at the Austrian Institute’s house. And despite the fact that I had a teriffic girlfriend relationship with which I would ruin through fits of unaccustomed insane jealousy. Perhaps it was the by-product of breaking out of a marriage that had been good for our work, but otherwise stultifying. Moreover, I tended to be real faithful unless the wench and I were apart for an extended period of time, out of fear but also out of not wanting to hurt. "Kind kind kind" was James advice that I adopted until it became impossible to maintain. And the very brief obsession with Libgart preceded Handke’s insult (see anon), so it wasn’t payback that enticed me. 
What if Libgart had not wanted to return to Handke after passionate love making? Suhrkamp agent absconds with Suhrkamp authors wife. Even that eventuality had not been considered no matter that I realized that Handke probably hadn’t fucked Libgart for years, nor did I dwell on the why of that. And I don’t think it was “her little lyricism” that Handke noted in Weight of the World objecting to! Or was it? Handke’s attitude toward language seemed to be of over-riding concern.
One matter seems certain: Handke, the fellow who couldn’t handle that one of his Berlin lovers had a second lover, would not have been happy being cuckolded. Yet who knows how oblivious the extraordinary seismograph really was, I say again, since he registered something on a literary wave length. WEIGHT, I believe, tell us nothing on the subject, and it becomes more heavily edited as it is republished. The matter is not raised in its reports of Handke going to a Paris psychotherapist. There Handke agrees with the analyst’s observation of his lack of emotion. That certainly stops entirely, Handke becomes nearly too warm by the time of WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES! Perhaps the notebooks will be, are more revealing. Yet there are indications that Handke can split, be a divided being - a matter I will address anon, although what someone as unusual as Handke splitting signifies even speculation will not entertain, not that Handke in many matters cannot also be a perfectly ordinary idiot. 

One telling event of an entirely different kind occurred subsequent to his meeting Joachim Neugroeschel whose mother sought to get her son to become a Handke translator. I happened to know Joachim well, but  eventually I found him to be one of the most hideous of many hideous people I encountered in that world in New York. Initially I helped look over his Celan translations that he did for Dutton while I was the Suhrkamp agent. I even asked him to read with me during my Goethe House gig reading my INNERWORLD translations. I sort of took him under my wing, since he was talented, thinking I would not be deterred by the fact that he had a truly hideously ugly face! I used him multiply as publisher at Urizen Books, I managed to get him the PEN translatio prize. However, he then wanted 50 % of the mass paper back income, Urizen's one and only, of his translation of Bataille’s STORY OF THE EYE. Of course this was a contractually uncalled for demand, but once he did not get what he wanted all kinds of ill things were said by him and his agent, and it turned out had been long before. 
Peter, after talking briefly to Joachim, returned nearly wretching because he found him physiognomically, which I had decided to ignore, so nauseating. There would be a second instance several years later when I introduced Peter to Jerry Leiber who and his partner Michael Stoller and Carl Weber, as the director, and I as translator, were experimenting with the idea of shoe-horning some Leiber /Stoller songs into THEY ARE DYING OUT: Leiber/Stoller already had a half dozen songs from their abandoned INTERNATIONAL WRESTLING MATCH to fill that bill, but we needed a few more. That meeting at Rue Montmorency is famous for Handke’s statement “I don’t do Singspiel”, but also for his nausea at Leiber’s then wife Barbara Rose’s physiognomic ugliness once again the reason, and, as I would find out, existing in parallel with a nauseating character. Thus aesthic judgements, in Handke’s case - and I imagine Handke, as have I, has run into his share of the beautfully ugly -  Roger Straus Jr.s’ brutishly ugly pockmarked face not being one of them - are not to be taken lightly. Again, I deciced to overlook. Handke took badly to that visage and manner of the culture vulture who adorned his crude being with the work of his great editors. I expect that Peter did not take a liking either to the fat thick rapacious lips of Schulz’s visage when he met him after the first premiere of his plays in this the U.S.A., in as much as these lips were visible through Schulz’s heavy camouflage beard, that has become fashionably trimmed in such as way as to truly instill fear:
What was Handke’s sense of Milosevics, of Karadsic comes to mind again just now that his involvement in the defense of Serbia and Serbians made for yet another ugly event. 

 Perhaps the notebooks will tell us. However, to presume that Handke was friends with either politician just because he trusts his own shnoozel more than whatever opinion of whatever programmed hideous journalist is perpetuated ad nauseam is all it is, the usual presumption by the already ill-disposed. It happens to matter not one iota how wrong or right Handke is or was in the matter of Yugoslavia, and I wish it hadn’t mattered 20 years go when this controversy started. 

By the time, in 1977, that I showed Handke my favorite JUKE BOX at pub Barnabus Rex

(second best, author Jim Stratton’s Puffy’s

remained unshown to him) much had transpired between the two of us, we had both had eventful half a decade under our belts. Ride Across Lake Constance and Kaspar (an Obie) had both been done at major venues in New York, Goalie, Short Letter Long Farewell & Sorrow Beyond Dreams, A Moment of True Feeling, Innerworld of the Outerworld of the Innerworld, Nonsense & Happiness had been successfully received in the U.S. Near mass paperback editions, by Avon & Colliers, entitled Two by Handke  & Three by Handke were imminent. F.S.G. was holding off with the second volume of Handke play translations of mine until there would be a production of They Are Dying Out and I was having problems finding a theater for it. (Bob Kalfin of the Chelsea Theater, who had been the producer of Kaspar and of the initial My Foot My Tutor & Self-Accusation, and it appears a professional avant-gardist, rejected Dying for being topical, unable it appears to see beyond surface topicality to its deeper themes.)

I don't think I could have imagined that Farrar Straus, especially Roger Straus, would then proceed to mis-publish as badly as they did in the 80s. In the late 70s  Handke had a fine editor in Nancy Meiselas, and I would have a fine one for the second collection of Handke play translations, whose name escapes me at present. He went on to become publisher at Scribners I recall.

Here a host of links discussing what transpired.

 Handke had written himself out of, in as much as you ever can, the aftermath of his mother’s suicide and wife disparu and of his subsequent womanizing and affairs (most famously with Jean Moureau with whom he also become engaged in physical fights) with the chaste The Lefthanded Woman (1978 in the U.S.). Handke was in the U.S. I think 1977 was the second of three trips, 1976 the first, 1978 would be the decisive one, to apprehend Alaska for Langsame Heimkehr, the title text of the U.S. A Slow Homecoming, which also contains The Lesson of St. Victoire, and A Child’s Story. 
My life had been romantically adventurous since 1971, only in small part due to Mr. Handke, although I think passion would have made me take the route I took no matter his once interference in a relationship of mine that had succeeded three passionate shipwrecks and traveled, the relief of sanity setting in, under the aegis of something unique in my experience that I called “the great fondness” (The Leonard & Virginia Woolfe relationship was the fantasized model!), which however would be succeeded with the most passionate of all which would eventuate in the most stunning of all blowups, and Handke would actually witness one last hiccup of the blow-up that evening at B. Rex when Laurie Spiegel, entering the lively bar, caught sight of Handke, Michael Brodsky and me and promptly fainted (that is, entered a state of denial) and was carried home to what had been “our” loading dock in the sturdy arms of Aussie sheepfarmer son Maoist anarchist film maker Tim Burns, now a facebook friend and back fucking sheep! But I was already using a third, generally Michael Brodsky, to interpose between the two of us - I did not want to be alone with Handke any more, he spooked me personally, one particular moment, a matter I shall come to in due course; his genius initially spooked me, but I had got used to it: he was in some respects a superior being, I certainly did not have time to dwell on it further than that at the time. However, I was quite willing to go to bat for his work as I already had to at F.S.G. who, had it not been for Bob Giroux, would have passed on Handke as soon as I turned in my first set of translations, of Kaspar and Other Plays. 
Prior to 1977 there had been visits whenever I was in Europe, as I was annually again as of 1973, of mine in the 70s to Rue Montmorency (see anon), and several Handke visits to New York. In 1975 I put him up in my apartment on the 25th floor of Independence  Plaza  because I had

http://tinyurl. com/o85eukl 

moved, with composer Laurie Spiegel (my love of music now corporeal made me overlook the signs of profound disturbance and harridan to be as I dragged her out of her apartment on the upper East Side) into a raw 4,000 square feet loft, or my duration there, two years, too short for the walls to close in as they had and would at other times, and perhaps sufficiently spacious for them never to, on Duane Park. 
Handke had Amina in tow, and when I checked on him the next day he’d flown the coop: “suicide apartment” was his judgement of a view all along down the Hudson to the Statue of Liberty and across to New Jersey and, of course, of the WTC. Indeed, if suicide was among your apprehensions, looking down to the cement 25 floors below might prove tempting or frightening. 
Suicide is an important theme in the younger Handke - Libgart splits, he tosses a handful of sleeping pills down his gullet, but then spits them, suicide of course is the theme of A MOMENT OF TRUE FEELING, and why it was then not committed: he thinks of the child. He waylays the manuscript of THE REPETITION as he is about  to mail it - if he had actually lost it he would have committed suicide he writes. (Amazing, at that point, in the mid-80s Handke is an established author and makes not a copy!) Anything untoward, including a not entirely suitable apartment and we have extreme reactions. As we now know, from himself  but also via Malte Herwig’s bio Meister der Daemmerung, but could not have presumed, Handke as a kid was a kind of holy terror to the family which realized his talent and abetted it to their best ability. Even the hated stepfather Bruno Handke did! If there was a sound when young Handke practiced writing all hell would break lose. Handke quite wonderfully describes what the “prodigal son” was like as a child in WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES, he used to always get his way. He was a lousy loser at anything! (And still was in 1980) It’s a delight to read but not to have been a participant of. VILLAGES is by far the most self-reveleratory all around of his works: anyone who can write a work like that has no need of an autobiography, he understands 
the various aspects of his personality, controlling each of those aspects is another matter or keeping them in tandem. The point is not only that we have only one muffler as it were, but only one major focus for awareness, no matter that one can train one’s peripheral vision. 
Meanwhile Handke’s own self-awareness, as of MORAVIAN NIGHT, extends to calling himself a “Mutter Soehnchen”, mama’s boy, indeed those favored sons! - Class seems to have surprisingly little to do with how that love infusion lasts. Yet by MORAVIAN NIGHT and a few works earlier, not only Handke’s love of writing, but other forms of love manifest themselves, in quite astonishing ways. 
Not that Independence Plaza was a modernistically frightening as he found La Defense to be, or the WTC in full view at that time. For me this apartment, quickly handed on to author Wolfgang Schivelbusch, was never more than temporary abode while the once molasses storage loft was made habitable - a toilet, a stove, electricity is all that took, Laurie a camper too! -  but chiefly to be near the office of the firm, Urizen Books, that I had started with two partners in Spring 1975. Handke as well as Enzensberger contributed, respectively, Nonsense & Happiness and Mausoleum, books of poetry, to that occasion.

The reaction to the apartment may seem a tad extreme, but you could not call it idiotic, odd yes, but every oddity is not idiotic. Why Handke feels an affinity to idiots remains a puzzle unless his awareness of his being so different suffices, or that he projects his own being dumbfounded with the ways of the world unto the truly dumb! (I recall an evening, in say 1954, on the all-purpose dance floor gym  Quaker assembly hall at Oakwood that I would never fit in, neither be an American nor German, a bit of a painful realization at the time, but one that I have had no choice but to become accustomed to.) “Where was he?” was of course the thought that flashed through my mind when I found the apartment vacated. - At the Algonquin, of course, same writer’s hostel he moved into during his 1971 visit when the Austrian choice had proved untoward, and Fitzgerald struck him as a possible model for a writer. And the decisive meeting with him and J. that spooked me would transpire there, over drinks; had already transpired by the time I took him to my Juke Joint in 1977.

Driving Handke (evidently considering living near New York) around some Long Island suburbs I could not help but notice how nearly deadly quiet that six or seven year Amina was emitting. A Child’s Story like other strictly auto-biographical books that do a lot of manicuring of the precious self-image cannot be trusted. I was not going to say anything unless Handke actually hit Amina (or let her soil her pants when she wanted to go potty!) but the women who had spoken to him about his girl rearing efforts were to be taken seriously even if they “spoke the dog language” of the therapeutic. By the appearance at least of Lucie in the Woods with the Thingamajig, as I translate its German title, Handke had become a better dad to his second daughter, Laocadie, even though he, in this instance, was far less responsible for her upbringing than he had been in the instance of Amina - Libgart had really fled, Amina appears to have been with her only during summers. But there is something there I am missing, and I don’t think it is concealed in the official cover story that “Libgart Schwartz has decided to resume her career as an actress” - which she had never abandoned. Handke, in the 80s expressed considerable guilt at his educational methods, at least he did to chatterbox Erich Wolfgang Skwara, several of whose novels I translated for Ariadne, Plague in Siena with special delight.  
During the 1971 trip to the U.S.A. Amina was with her grandmother in Griffen! who if I am to believe what I read chiefly committed suidice because she was in despair at the prospect of the return of husband Bruno Handke from a tubercolosis home. No one in Griffen appears to have given separation or divorce a thought, although the Slovenian Sivec clan appears to have detested that dreadful wife-beating drunkard. (vide Sorrow Beyond Dreams). 
Handke’s moving to Kronstadt or is it Kronenberg outside Frankfurt, after he left Berlin in the late 60s, looking for a possible quiet suburban spot to be “nothing but a writer,” gives early evidence of withdrawal from distracting city ways. At one point Handke was so serious about moving to New York that I trouped to all the French-American schools for young girls - he and Amina by that time were in Paris and he was thinking ahead. I suspect that the months spent in the Hotel Adams in late 1978-79 coming a cropper while writing the title text of A Slow Homecoming proved to him the rightness of the decision not to become an exile writer in Los Unidos Estados Norte and its coldest and hardest manifestation of cut-throat capitalism as he once noted to me in a single sentence while we were leaning over the ballustrade of the fourth floor roof of my second loft, at 65 West Broadway, in late fall 1978. “Boy things are hard here.” is how one might put what he, just a writer walker, had noticed, chiefly on the upper East Side. 
By the end of the 1976 Long Island expedition we sat in my MGB by Jamaica Bay near Kennedy airport and watched a thunderstorm subside over Manhattan. A Pastoral Symphone moment if ever there was one.
At the airport itself if I didn’t see Urizen’s major embarrassment, its third partner, Leo Feldsberg, who had run after me to invest $ 100,000 in this socialisticaly oriented firm, where I ought to have been smart enough to extract a least a million from his 40 derived from the peon-exerted profits of Fructo, his Columbian fruitpacking firm. Actually, it then turned out, Leo was at least in part responsible for the London Lake Constance production, son of a Vienese wine merchant whose ambition had been to become a producer, he lived outside Kali, Columbia on a hill so I found out with two armed guards on duty at all times of day, with one of the great collections of recorded operas, and on Easter is supposed to have giggled at the Christians on their knees ascending the hill opposite, with its cross. The only book that Urizen published that he cared for was Rudolf Augstein’s Jesus Son of Man. If I’d had a politician in me I'd at least have tried to explain to this very dirty old man that, properly funded, Urizen might have an easier chance - he himself had translated $ 50,000 borrowed from a Danish diplomat in the mid-40 to start his venture, and hated losing a single dollar on a bet as though it was at least a $ 100. I just did not have that kind of relation to money. He somehow found out that Handke had been aboard his flight and then asked me why I hadn’t alerted him. I didn’t say anything, I didn’t even lie that I had had no idea that he was on the same flight; we had not made eye contact after all. In my heart there resides I think a diamentine purist, the very one that found such affinity with Pound these many years ago.

There was yet one earlier expedition, this one without Amina but with Kesselman, the photographer who had taken the photo of the WTC, as shot across some landfill dunes (that became the ground for the downtown Financial Center and for the new Stuyvesant High), for the cover of NONSENSE & HAPPINESS - I was trying to reference Handke’s dislike of the Parisian La Defense - but all I recall of that trip is the sun sinking like a molten Graf Spee (famously sunk by the Brits in the mouth of a South American river during WW II) to the east of Staten Island, which means it must have been either late in fall or early in Spring since by late spring the sun sets over New Jersey, that is farther to the west, from that vantage point at Rockaway Beach. I think that trip was my idea, to show Handke where I had lived for several years prior to moving back into the city. I missed the anticipated “green flash” that is supposed to occur at the moment of final disappearance of the sun into oceans, and always wondered whether Handke registered the molten moment in his notebook that he kept making notes in, something that just about everyone who has spent time with Handke recalls.


In one of his letters to Kolleritsch in their published correspondence Handke notes how pleasantly boring I am during my visits to his semi-basement apartment in the Rue Montmorency. If only I had been one of the Backfische that space-cadetted their way there from Austria! Actually, I a city walker too, found it rather boring not even to be served a glass of water after my trek from the Fifth Arrondissement to the Marais. Handke it appears has learned to be a good host since those days, was already the last time I saw him, in 1980 in Salzburg. In Paris, at Rue Montmorency, he can be said to have hauste as the German has it for a bachelor’s existence devoted to compulsive writing. If only he had brought out the chessboard - that period of the Fischer Spassky matches was the last time my chess game was up to snuff. All I recall are rather awkward silences that did not last long because Handke in short time would say he had to write, and if I didn’t want to come back another time. I didn’t. There was one day trip to the Bois de Boulogne together with the model for Keuschnig, the actual Austrian cultural attache in Paris, who had a daughter about the same age as Amina, a slight fellow who I think died young, an Esterhazy???  Handke, as I think I knew by then, had studied law so as to enter the Austrian Foreign Service as a culture officer, which would allow him time to write in the event that he could not make a living as a writer (which would have required considerable initial grooming on the Service’s part, for sure!) Far more foresightful in these matters than I who had entered that world during a seizure in Fairbanks in November 1960. (6)
I have mentioned the afternoon that I introduced Jerry Leiber to Handke, who liked Leiber/ Stoller’s songs, especially the early work.
One time there was an Austrian Backfisch present, which made matters even more awkward than usual. I didn’t stay long, during a phone call a day or so later Handke mentioned that he had exposed himself to her, and that she had blushed, sometime he said, he was “a bit diabolical.” I didn’t know much about self-exposure of that kind at that time and so said nothing, as I might have even if I had known as much as I do now. What puzzled me, though, was why he would tell? Did he want absolution? Was he boasting? As he may have in telling someone else that he once had had a threesome with two whores. It certainly sseems to be another way of “showing.” In reflecting back on how wild matters would become in “post pill paradise” New York, maybe I ought to have proposed to the Backfisch that she fuck both of us. Knowing Handke it would at least have drawn a laugh from him, and maybe fleeing on the Backfisch’s part. Girls of all kinds, space cadets all, were wandering at that time into men’s homes. They were post-hippie-girl girls, and slightly unmoored. Hippie girls were the best, and the best of the best were from California, and they were strapping, which is how surfer’s clap, that had originated in Vietnam, might also end up in Paris. If anyone profited from the sexual revolution gynecologists did.

One of those visits, it must have been 1974, Handke gave me a copy of 

Als das W√ľnschen noch geholfen hat | Handke online

and I started to translate the long poems that were then published as NONSENSE & HAPPINESS at the Luxembourg airport; as a poor small publisher I flew Air Icelandic, I took a liking to Luxembourg, to Keflavik, and to Icelandic sheep of all kinds! In the translation Handke took a particular liking to the word “humbug” for the “nonsense” that was bugging him in those poems. -  I think it needs to be reiterated occasionally that literature is also a defense.

I visited Handke at his ugly Gruenderzeit castle in Meudon only once (where Lefthanded Woman was filmed, and from whose viewpoint Paris and its rolling hills is described). Although I didn’t smoke inside such polished parquet floors, Handke smelled the Gitanes on me and mentioned that during filming, when everyone had smoked, so had he. His cinematographer later mentioned how particular he had been during the filming, which seems to have bothered her, his identification with the work. I must say the particular care that he wanted me to take while translating WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES was most welcome; and I understand that you need to be very insistent and determined as Handke has been all these years.  

During the filming he wrote me in New York and asked if I could get Randy Newman to set one of the poems in the book to music. He knew that Newman had apprenticed with Leiber/ Stoller,
 and of course of my friendship with that pair. I got Newman’s agents address, translated the poem, and wrote the agent twice, as publisher of Urizen Books, but never had even a reply. Thinking about what kind of music Newman
 might have set the poem to I, at least, envisioned something that diminished the importance of the overall theme of the pain involved in becoming independent in the way the Left-Handed Woman does, by taking a Randy Newman attitude to it. Literature as defense but in a very sophisticated manner. It becomes a characteristic of Handke’s. 
Living in Meudon the Handke rabbit discovered a secret way to the Foret de Chaville, and minded it that when he decided to leave Salzburg in the mid 1980s; there’s a continuity there, in other words, between LEFT HANDED WOMAN + MY YEAR IN THE NOMAN’S BAY, also geographically. 

At that time in the late 70s I had yet another author in the Meudon/ Clamart area, Wilfred Burchett, the author of MOSQUITOES & ELEPHANTS,
one of the books I was proudest to have published, also for the way the author came to write it, and of SOUTHERN AFRICA STANDS UP. 

and so I also visited Wilfed and his darling Bulgarian wife, in company of a girlfriend who was spending a semester in Paris, but made sure, at that point, not to show her to Handke, or her, who liked his work and was youthfully promiscous, where he lived. I had learned my lesson that Handke was a rabbit. And am I ever glad I was careful, her looks were pretty much those of Handke’s inamorata to be, Marie Colbin.


Situation Report

We  shift back to Barnabus Rex & the announced scene. 
First of all, a brief description of B.Rex, aside the one on-line. The shoebox’s interior dimensions approximate 25 by 25 feet. Nearly six feet of that is reserved for the bar, on the far side as you enter, which leaves, say, 20 by 25, the center of which is occuppied by the 6 by 4 feet bar-pool table; to the left,  as you enter, is a regular-sized juke box, the bar fronts at most 7 bar stools; that is, the pool table, on three sides, has aisles, only near the juke box is there a 10 by ten feet space and that is, chiefly, where people dance. 
We now come to the kind of concentrated moment that allows me to tie a lot of matters together... after several major divergences.
The bar crowds up after Handke, Brodksy and I enter, music sets in, as does dancing. I am playing pool, Handke and Brodsky are in the aisle between the bar and the pool table, as am I. I have lowered my head to line up a shot in the direction of the jukebox. Handke and Brodsky are standing right by me. At one point they also tried dancing and I noticed how they do so awkwardly, self-consciosly. 
The bar is crowded, there is dancing; however, people still manage to play pool, no matter the racket and the vibrations... as B.Rex leans an inch or so further into the swamp land on which the entire area consisted not all that long ago.
My head down, my eyes finding the sight line, pool stick ready to fire the cue ball... Handke leans over and whisphers into my ear: “If you ever need $ 10,000 dollar for Urizen Books, get in touch.”
I make no reply, and I forget whether I made a good shot or not. But it is one of those crystaline moments that is as unexpected as lightning out of the blue.
Urizen probably was never far from my mind, but my worries about it weren’t written over my face that evening, I don’t think, recall, nor had I mentioned anything of the kind to Peter or to Michael Brodksy.
Brodsky was a Urizen author entirely through Peter’s doing. He had met Peter via Patricia Highsmith in Paris and Peter had told him to show his manuscripts to me. I have no idea whether Peter himself had seen them, although I suspect he must have. Brodsky arrives at the Urizen office, we chat a bit and he leaves behind a maroon leather satchel with five manuscripts. Curious since I respect Handke’s judgement I take a look at the first page of each of the manuscripts and realize: here is the real thing, a writer on the order of a Beckett. Urizen goes on to publish two Brodksy titles, Detour,  which wins the Hemingway Prize, and Wedding Feast, a collection of three novellas. Brodsky, my intestines pick up the torture in his being; that is why I always preferred to spend time with journalists!

It being 1977 Urizen has not yet published Detour over which I make special effort, typographically, cover by Michael Hafftka
the paper and the printer and binding.

I cannot explain to myself the basis of Handke’s sudden extraordinary generous offer, I suspect he was happy at the realization, as he notes in Geschichte des Bleistifts
that I am both playful and serious, the quintessence of pool, and happiness in being in this space, in this crowd of young artists, not on the knowledge, I assume, that Urizen actually needs more like a hundred thousands dollars! However, he is not the only friend who offers or gives me ten thousand dollars at just about the same time, and out of the blue, two other friends, one the current girl fiend, chip in 10 each. I myself with the two other partners have just committed myself to introduce $ 50 k into the firm, as an expression of faith, but only have 20 k, ten of my own and ten from my father who is delighted that I have finally taken a turn toward business! I had intially got - when what was originally meant to be called Hyperion - was founded, one third of the firm, for my experience and the projects I brought with me. However, the initial $ 200,000 investment, from the two partners’ instruments, Oberon & Princeton, N.V. did not last long; had it not been for the anthology Sex Differences having been taken by six different book clubs and achieved a lot of course adoptations Urizen would have gone down at the end of year one.

Not only have I committed myself to put in  50 K with only 20 to my name, but not long ago, prior to this evening, I had a call from Susan Sontag alerting me that Schulz’s funds derived from a firm called Vicland, that dubbed U.S. pornographic films into German, perhaps the very same films that Handke, as you then find out, went to see while becoming briefly monkish while writing LEFT HANDED WOMAN, and picking up a few experiences that would make for a couple of fine lines a few years hence in WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES. Moreover, I am having the definite suspicion that Handke’s estimate of Schulz (the passbook name) as very dark or at least very German is true in both respects. There is a partner called Victor (the Vic part of Vicland) Bertini whom I then notice becoming crazier by the year while Schulz does his financial wizardry, and, in retrospect, I am also seeing myself driven to drink.

As Handke, of course not just he, will note over the next several years I become more and more nervous.
The second major vector of the constellation of this moment is that the only reason Brodky is present is that he serves as an inbetween, a buffer, since I no longer like being with Handke on the one on one, if I can help it. Handke has begun to seriously spook me. In his way, I sense, he may be as dark as Schulz, although very differently so. Broksky, as mentioned, is a tortured being, his oily skin oozes psychic pain! He has a job with the athritis foundatation. Editing Detour page by page on Saturdays in his presence...
The reason that Handke personally spooks me is not so much that he has sucessfully hound-dogged the “great fondness” whom I had asked to look him up on her way back from Africa (who provides invaluable information about chez Handke and what kind of rapist lover he is, how Amina is exposed to primal scenes and is of course violently jealous, etc. etc.), but that when Handke shows up in 1976 and, after leaving my suicide apartment in Independence Plaza, moves into the Algonquin, I turn into Sherlock Holmes, assume undercover mode, to try to find out what was going on, and ask the “great fondness” to join us for drinks, or took the great fondness, of whom I am still quite fond then even though I - for a time singing to myself “I have two lovers” - had broken off the romantic affiliation with the fondness for the sake of passion (which lasted only two years and who just fainted at the sight of me and Handke), but the break with the fondness I think would have happened, mr. handke or not interfering in our relationship; although I appreciate the bit of awakening Handke provides, that eventually leads to dis-enchantment with the fondness, many years hence. 


At the Algonquin, over drinks, Handke seems barely to recogniz the great fondness, there isn’t a single erotic or other spark, that is what spooks me, this total indifference. I mean the two of them might have fallen head over heals in love and she would still have been the great fondness! J.s and my relationship was  very different from one of my amour or lust fous. There was rather more than the usual concern, but also less of the posessiveness that goes with passion. The idea of gratuitous came to mind. J. seemed to be like one of his whores, like the cashier whom Bloch murders in GOALIE. The indifference was frighening, and that was what spooked me, here was a genius and a psychotic, potential murderer. (7)  GOALIE aside its phenomenology, after all, is an instance of schizophrenic paranoia! And after what he had committed Handke still regarded me as a friend, as I continued to be and still am of most of his work. He is entirely oblivious so it seemed of what injury he caused me, he is split, and I am frightened of him. 
So that was the constellation of that moment,
all those matters coming together.
Handke keeps talking about his daimon - part of it is unadulturated pure sadism, but one aspect is psychosis, perhaps it is the world’s everyone’s psychosis, the part that wants to run amok. Yet, even though I had translated GOALIE, NONSENSE & HAPPINESS and had read WEIGHT  and MOMENT OF TRUE FEELING and SORROW BEYOND DREAMS and had a sense that he had been through some kind of hell, I didnt appreciate, as I do now, what men and women do if their love abandons them, and Handke appears to be not that different but perfectly ordinary in that respect. 
Matters might have turned out very differently if not for Handke’s taking possession of the “great fondness” and it apparently not mattering to him one bit, and my being spooked. 
We might in fact have become real friends now that I realized, at Barney’s, how much he liked a joint of that kind, and the life that implied. In 1978 I would have offered join me on my nightly jaunts - the bars, CBGS, the Mudd Club - “Because the Night” - after I stopped working around 10 or ll pm - as usual I had found yet another inamorata, but it was of a very light and mutually promiscuous kind as befitted the period and the terroir - and then Sorger would not have had to console himself with the Nachtportier in the lobby of the Hotel Adams.
By his early thirties, though an amazing writer, Handke has also committed all the same delikte of both father figures. Like his actual father, Schoenherr, he has an illegitimate child, if we are to believe the account of his first girlfriend’s pregnacy, now a crone on the Island Krk where he wrote his first novel - and a magnificent section in MORAVIAN it is, too; he has been physically violent not only to women but to the first born that he knows, to Amina (what is odd in the Krk section in MORAVIAN is that it makes no mention of what happened to the child); he has hurt all those closest to him, if we are to  believe what Vim Wenders told me, and which the Herwig biography appears to confirm. In other words: it is just as well that he spends so much time picking mushrooms and longing for a peace inside himself that is unlikely to arrive. 
The saga ends with our coming too close at an extraordinary moment over the translation of WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES. 



Nothing unusually idiotic transpired during Handke’s period in New York to write Langsame Heimkehr, which provides the title A SLOW HOMECOMING to that English language collection. 
He came to the Urizen offices after he had returned from Alaska and left a green leather satchel for safe keeping while making another trip, to San Francisco and Colorado. Then he returned for good and installed himself in the Hotel Adams at the corner of 86th Str. East and Madison, an old stomping ground of mine when I had stayed with Frank Conroy’s mother on 86th Street, and which takes up the entire block between Madison and Fifth,  the eastern edge of Central Park. As we now know from Handke’s diary accounts, it must be the first time, he had a kind of writer’s block initially getting beyond its opening sentence, which he had rehearsed for years, in the rhythmically unsatisfactory Mannheim translation - “Sorger had outlived several of those who had become close to him, he had ceased to long for anything, but often felt a selfless love of existence and at time a need for salvation so palpable that it weighed on his eyelids.”  - I doubt that I could have helped in that respect at the time or ever, even if I had not kept him at arm’s length. However, since he was always writing in Paris and had proved a lousy host I left him to his own devices unless he called, which was two or three times.
Initially, there was an idyllic walk across the Brooklyn Bridge late evening with a fine dry  snow falling, to have dinner at Michael Brodsky’s. During the walk Handke revealed that he was writing a book about Alaska, it was the first thing the suddenly mother hen had heard of that, and the idea frightened me, to write a book about Alaska after just a couple of visits of a few weeks each. It turned out he had read McPhee’s big book about Alaska, but wanted no Alaska stories of mine, he was full up, and I seem to have appreciated that. He didn’t recall that it had been I who had written him years ago, when he inquired about American winters, that if he wanted something really different, Alaska was it. We had dinner I think twice more, each time with Brosky as my protective interposer, at Elaine’s, my once eatery away from home, which I visited rarely since moving downtown to Tribeca with the start of Urizen Books in 1975. One time I picked him up at his room at the Adam’s and appreciated its view of Central Park. Nancy Meiselas, his editor at Farrar, Straus at the time, mentioned how Handke had told her before he left after I don’t know how long he really stayed - three months? - that he had fucked up Homecoming. He didn’t mention anything of the kind to me, or show me the manuscript which appears to have been planned to be a much grander one than what we have, three four chapters, one in Alaska, the other in San Francisco, the third in Colorado where, at Handke’s visit, he found an Austrian friend, a skier had died - I recall him being rather downcast at his arrival back in New York to pick up the green satchel..I might have inquired why, but I did not. In San Francisco Handke, who was with Wenders, was observed to have cussed an audience, at least according to future friend and witness John McVey. As long as Handke is cussin’ & shoutin’, and “banging the big bass drum” (a la “Saved”) as he did again recently in the Zeit interview, he is full of living oats, and I think it ought to be taken as a sign of life. To see him despondent on his return from the West Coast was unusual, and if we’d been close I might have inquired. The New York section of Homecoming - the text has a NY denoument  - has a scene where Sorger is talking to the nightman at the hotel where he is staying - Handke appears to have been lonely, I know he saw Kurt Bernheim, my darling successor as Suhrkamp agent, a few times. If he had wanted he could have of course met any American writer he wanted, either through me, Kurt or Farrar, Straus. I have no idea whether he met anyone aside Brodsky, or what someone so sexually active did about women. My downtown bars and clubs certainly were filled with the most marvelous adventuresses. 
I did not read Heimkehr until I bought myself a copy in 1980 in Vienna, and it bugged me that no one had bothered to send it to me, if only for my collection of first editions, and reading Heimkehr upon my return from a visit to Bulgaria in late October/ early November 1980 made for a rather astounding and totally unexpected experience. 
I had spent nine months in Alaska in 1960, as fire fighter and geological surveyor, which Handke, since he didn’t want to hear my Alaska anecdotes, of course knew nothing of, and thus I had a dozen or so extraordinary Alaskan experiences but the biggest experience of them all, that of the vastness of Alaska seemed to have remained something that had hung over, a latency that had wanted to be articulated all those years, twenty years that is, and the Alaska chapter, the lens that the seismographer Handke / Sorger sets then unloosed a flood of emotions and I was all bubbly and enthusiastic when I got to Salzburg, especially since someone in Vienna, on the street, a woman, approached me and told me I reminded her of Laufer! 
Later then you read of Handke finding solace with Siegfried Lenz whose presence assists in getting over the dreadful New York experience, and by the time of writing of My Year in the No-Man’s Bay Handke is once again ridiculing having been distraught in the Hotel Adams.



As mentioned previously, in 1979 I had a girlfriend who spent a semester studying in Paris and I made it a point not to visit Handke, if he was even still in Paris at that time, but took Rachel to visit Wilfred Burchett in his bungalow in Clamart. Thus the next time I would see Handke was going to be in Salzburg in Fall 1980 upon my return from a four week USIA cultural exchange visit to Bulgaria. 
The account, in German, available via

of my visiting Handke in Salzburg in early November 1980 actually suffices as a report of what transpired. All I want to add to the account is that on subsequent self-exmination of my behavior I think I was gunning to beat Handke at Taroq as soon as  he asked me to play with his opponent when I apparently became too intense while playing with him. Even ascending the Moenchsberg I think was a kind of act of insurrection, I had some vengeance in me. I am still amazed that I picked up the game so quickly and added the poker dimension. It isn’t often that I have flown as high as I did after what I regarded as a victory for peace after four weeks in Bulgaria with the U.S. Marines moved away from the U.S. library and the KGB guys in their cars moved away from watching who went to read American books, if in fact the promises made to me were fulfilled. I came out of Bulgaria completely charged - the air? something in the black sea soil? -  as I have been rarely, and I don’t think Handke knows how smart he was “not to show me Libgart”, because if she had been as eager for me as we had been for each other about 15 years prior, off to the Hotel Mirabelle it would have been. At any event, if anyone’s behavior approximated idiocy during that day, it was mine and not Handke’s. Of course I picked up his again showing off, and I don’t mind in retrospect considering his origins, but  what surprised me at the time was his inability to loose at a game, his need to dominate which, as it turned out, is a feature that already characterized his earliest childhood. However, if I reflect on the fairly downcast Handke of Fall/ Winter 78/79 in New York, now living among the “grosse Tiere” on the Moenchsberg, he had become “herrenhaft”, domineering, not my suit at all.


Subsequent contact with Handke was his asking me in 1981 to translate his WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES (Ariadne Press)


As mentioned previously, in 1979 I had a girlfriend who spent a semester studying in Paris and I made it a point not to visit Handke, if he was even still in Paris at that time, but took Rachel to visit Wilfred Burchett in his bungalow in Clamart. Thus the next time I would see Handke was going to be in Salzburg in Fall 1980 upon my return from a four week USIA cultural exchange visit to Bulgaria. 
The account, in German, available via

of my visiting Handke in Salzburg in early November 1980 actually suffices as a report of what transpired. All I want to add to the account is that on subsequent self-exmination of my behavior I think I was gunning to beat Handke at Taroq as soon as  he asked me to play with his opponent when I apparently became too intense while playing with him. Even ascending the Moenchsberg I think was a kind of act of insurrection, I had some vengeance in me. I am still amazed that I picked up the game so quickly and added the poker dimension. It isn’t often that I have flown as high as I did after what I regarded as a victory for peace after four weeks in Bulgaria with the U.S. Marines moved away from the U.S. library and the KGB guys in their cars moved away from watching who went to read American books, if in fact the promises made to me were fulfilled. I came out of Bulgaria completely charged - the air? something in the black sea soil? -  as I have been rarely, and I don’t think Handke knows how smart he was “not to show me Libgart”, because if she had been as eager for me as we had been for each other about 15 years prior, off to the Hotel Mirabelle it would have been. At any event, if anyone’s behavior approximated idiocy during that day, it was mine and not Handke’s. Of course I picked up his again showing off, and I don’t mind in retrospect considering his origins, but  what surprised me at the time was his inability to loose at a game, his need to dominate which, as it turned out, is a feature that already characterized his earliest childhood. However, if I reflect on the fairly downcast Handke of Fall/ Winter 78/79 in New York, now living among the “grosse Tiere” on the Moenchsberg, he had become “herrenhaft”, domineering, not my suit at all.



Subsequent contact with Handke was his asking me in 1981 to translate his WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES
After my first read-through I wrote that this would test me to the utmost as indeed it did.  The translation has a long postscript, most of which is on-line @:
and contains an account of the extra-ordinary time during which it was transformed into American.
VILLAGES is the case of a godsend that turned into an Albatross if ever there was one. 
As I mention in the postscript, the final version was done during both the heights and depths of a psychoanalysis during the two week holiday at year’s end for analyst and analysand during which I was entirely alone with the text in my loft and could shout it out over and over (Credence Clearwater the only music), which is how the work acquired its “voice” and “cutting” quality, which few if any aside its orginal author picked up. Handke at the end was so happy with the text that he thought I had originated it! That’s sort of mad but points to both his extraordinary generosity but also to the assessment that the text had ideed been “digested” and then come back out of my own voice-box and not as a hairball. For years on end you see the influence of Handke having oracled Doerfer in his subsequent texts, the rhythms, how he resorts to them, as late as the 2007 Moravian Night; and Villages sure came or comes as hell of a surprise on the heels of Handke’s previous... unless you had been witness to how Handke accounts for building himself up to doing, writing it in his second diary volume, Geschichte des Bleistifts. That is, only he was prepared to offer something as generous and wide ranging. You, at least I, can’t see it coming in the previous work.
For many years Villages became my “heart test”, which few passed. I recall that “the great fondness” responded exclusively to the line that contains the words “hefty taxes.” Perhaps Handke had been right to be so indifferent to her then and not go through the hypocrisy of “oh how nice to see you again!” At any event, translating the dramatic poem made me entirely forget that I had ever withdrawn from the fellow or been seriously perhaps even murderously pissed.
However, Handke’s once assessment that I didn’t seem to have much luck came true, in this instance, in my relationship with my former employer Farrar, Straus, for whom I had done so much work, whom I had brought all these fine books and authors, and great wealth. My nemesis, the very person who had tried to shoot down Handke initially, who had killed my Adorno Reader, the “asslicking stilletto faggot” as I call this twit, to be as offensive as can be, had managed to lick his way up into the position of editor-in-jefe, and so I got shot down there, and Straus, though he had intitially given me carte blanche on the project, first lied and then backed up his creature (you need to know that Straus, who also lorded it over the women at Farrar, Straus, despised and ridiculed homosexuals yet had several of them working for him. See the above host of links to matters relating to me and Farrar Straus for other disputes I was starting to have with Straus who turned out to be a chiseler and crook that it then didn’t surprise me that Robert Giroux could not write a company history thinking of Straus.) And the successor is not better in living up to the contract or any good at publishing Handke whose main publisher in the English language world has become Seagull Press.
Handke became puzzled at my persistence, (The Unseld/ Handke corresponce also cites his worry.) His work was becoming tangled in a dispute between me and my former employer, for whom I had earned millions and who were not only screwing me in that respect at the moment in my life, with Urizen Books having gone down, that I needed it most. They were also  abandoning Handke as playwright when Kaspar and Other Plays was I think in its 10th printing, and Ride Across Lake Constance & Other Plays was in its second. It was the abandonment of Handke at a time that his work was doing extremely well, and it would be eight years between publication of Left-Handed Woman (which had been a great success & published in its entirety in The New Yorker) in 1978 and A Slow Homecoming in 1986, wheras the title text of the U.S. edition ought to have been done a year after it came out in Germany, in 1979, and most likely the New Yorker would also have published that text, or chapters from it, and there would have been requisite publishing continuity; for Homecoming, if you know Left-Handed, is very much the next work in a continuous development, both artistically, and I don’t know, I hate the damn word, “spiritually.”
  So, in my book, Straus is not only a crook and brute and liar, but also the person who blew the publication success of Handke in the United States and the English language, and it appears Giroux did not stop him, nor anyonce else, and Steve Wasserman, then running the subsidiary Hill & Wang, where plays were consigned, abetted that publishing error; thus in the meanwhile Handke plays are distributed over half a dozen publishers in this country no matter that he won the Ibsen prize as the most innovative living playwright.>

Subsequent to that altercation I then found Performing Arts Journal to do the translation, folks that had done work for me, and all seemed well. I realized that with the work I had planned for the rest of my life I needed to leave the so distracting and sybaritically pleasurable city, and - while considering my options - managed to have one last amour fou  combining it with departure from the city; that is, specifically, I followed the wench to the Southwest, and amour and I then traveled all over south-west Texas and south-east New Mexico, and I kept sending Handke little postcards from each and every hamlet, always signed “as ever.” 
While translating the great work all residual anger at Handke for his interference in the relationship with the “great fondness” appeared to have vanished. However, the matter how Urizen had gone done and how I had failed to take care of business, that is take care of the one dark partner in time, bothered me. I was in a fighting mood, Handke noted as much reading a small book of poems, Headshots. “You are still fighting,” he noted duly, not imagining that I might also fight him!
He also inquired about the status of his !0 K loan offer, on which I had taken him up; and all I could reply to that was that Suhrkamp ought to give him the 10 K they owed me as a residual from my having represented them around 1970, and I never heard whether that in fact was done.
On returning to New York after a year and a half in the Southwest, Performing Arts opted out of their contract with me, no reason given, while yet wanting another work of mine; and with my continued tender state of mind PAJ received the kind of letter that if their sensibility had been tender toes the letter was a sledgehammer, it was conceived and executed with as much force as possible to inflict as much pain as I could; and I sent Peter and PEN a cc as I had of the  correpondence with F.S.G. - After years of passively taking punishment, I was now a sharpshooter par excellence. Of Urizen Books I had left one hefty judgment then, with a second to come, but no ability to collect in Palermo. 
I had not heard from Peter during the year and a half since leaving N.Y. However, he responded to the PAJ cc with a letter that started, “Schoen wieder mal von Dir zu hoeren”  (nice to hear from you again), as though the previous letters and all those wonderful postcards had never been received - not that I was necessarily aware or imagining what his life in Salzburg might be like although the 1984 Across (Chinese des Schmerzens) more than hinted that my man was not the happiest trooper, and that he then fled Salzburg around 1987 did not come as that much of a surprise. 
The letter threatened abrogation of the friendship unless I desisted with letters of the kind I had written to PAJ..."this was something one could not do to him!”
Already the opening of the letter “nice to hear from you again” had been puzzlingly annoying. Moreover, if you wanted to get my back up at any time, all you had to do was threaten me; even prior to analysis, but even more so even then! At this time while I was still exceedingly volatile it guaranteed a sharp response, this “this was something one could not do to him!” whereas in fact I was fighting for both his and my work, as I had had to previously during the initial translator author relationship. I felt wonderfully righteous indignant and derisive! and recall how I replied, as though I did an hour ago:
I am living in an idyllic rural loft, the ex-assembly stage for a Dutch flower farmer’s goods... I have a pepper tree shedding pepper corns  and a Juniper dripping its sap on my tin roof; I have a view of the Pacific, from 1,500 feet, across Deer Creek Canyon is Dick Clark (of American Band Stand) mini TWA hangar, the dirt road, named Houston, is lined with Agave in their peculiar green gray saw blades. I have bought my first electronic type writer with a bit of memory in it, a Brother, it uses a wonderful plastic ribbon that makes for print perfect legibility; that is, I am making extra certain of the legibility of what I am about to write!
 I put in one pretty post card into the platen, and then a second.
As we find out from Herwig’s biography, and the Handke/ Unseld correspondence, making threats was nothing new for Peter Handke. Our lord had got his way in this fashion many times before.
  So one could only fight for Mr. Handke’s work in such a way as not to besmirch his own ultra high opinion of his self-image! Wow! 
I wrote, “aren’t we lucky to have remained friends all these years what with the “great fondness” and what with the hots I once had for Libgart,” and typing of course made sure that he would have no problem with my difficult handwriting, as he, and as  rightly suspected he might have, in AFTERNOON OF A WRITER where Handke then takes rather pathetic vengeance by referencing the apparently illegible postcards “a former... and ex-friend” sends him as he goes mad crossing one Sierra after another. Actually the only postcard of a  sierra I sent him in 1985 was of the formidable Sierra del Carmen right acros the Texas border, with only the words “as ever” being invariably legible.
On later reflection, on taking a close look at how wounded Libgart’s leaving had been to him, I ought to have spared the allusion to the affair barely averted during the 1971 visit!
However, Handke then did not have a sense of humor and instantly turned to Mannheim to do a second translation. It took me quite a few years to find a publisher for WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES in the U.S. Utterly incompetent Ariadne, despite promises, then didn’t even have it in them to send galleys to Publisher’s Weekly or Library Journal, or make submissions for review. I don’t think they have sold out their Ariadne printing  of 500 copies, whereas little Urizen or Continuum had no problem selling 5,000 + of the two Handke poetry collections I did there.
  From this event I gathered how tender Handke’s self-image was, and that this tenderness proved to be an unusual source of possible violence, and that he had authoritarian tendencies; many-sided Peter Handke, all this accrued about his most many sided work. 


Shortly thereafter THE REPETTION reached me in my mountain fastness and the now “King of Slownes” re-enforced, seconded my, too, becoming a “being of slowness,” as I walked the dusty paths of the chapparell followed by California Quail and rolling Quail eggs.

With the second tour of an analysis, a matter of course never entirely done, some of Handke’s oddities caught my attention and made me take a closer look  and a deeper appreciation of the oeuvre than translating them, that eventuated in the  handke.scriptmania project 

that had its inception with one page
and then spawned a dozen subsites
and, eventually, gave birth to

The Handke Magazine.


On Idiocy once more.

Chiefly as “savant,”
Hard working, 
Who, for his verbal feats, 
Has thought of himself as Goethe
For about 20 years now,
 Has intimations of Parcival!
Useful fantasy crutches
Ctd. “wants to be like somebody else”!
But has shown the royal road to the holy grail of a renewal of classical prose!
Or a Revoluzzer!
Matters he then ends up making fun of.
Many initial abberations appear to have subsided, but for the impulse to Run Amok!

 1) ‭lots of them at Safeway stores, semi-morons employed as baggers, several local autists - at the prospect that, it turns out, just one “Genee with the lightbrown hair” separates me from being more of an idiot than I am) 






‭7)‬Of course I cannot help but connect his behavior that afternoon at the Algonquin with his mentioning, in WEIGHT, that the psycho therapeutician he saw in Paris observing his disconnectness from feelings, alexithemia is the nice technical term

(a personality construct characterized by the sub-clinical inability to identify and describe emotions in the self. The core characteristics of alexithymia are marked dysfunction in emotional awareness, social attachment, and interpersonal relating. Furthermore, individuals suffering from alexithymia also have difficulty in distinguishing and appreciating the emotions of others, which is thought to lead to unempathic and ineffective emotional responding. Alexithymia is prevalent in approximately 10% of the general population and is known to be comorbid with a number of psychiatric conditions... Alexithymia is considered to be a personality trait that places individuals at risk for other medical and psychiatric disorders while reducing the likelihood that these individuals will respond to conventional treatments for the other conditions. Alexithymia is not classified as a mental disorder in the DSM-IV. It is a dimensional personality trait that varies in severity from person to person. A person's alexithymia score can be measured with questionnaires such as the Toronto Alexithymia Scale, the Bermond-Vorst Alexithymia Questionnaire  the Online Alexithymia Questionnaire  or the Observer Alexithymia Scale.) 

and with his mention in the 2007 MORAVIAN that his longterm lover wife at one time called him “cold as a Salamander” as no doubt he can be when entirely engaged with a writing project, which is why he finally found a way of not dragging whatever beauty home to suffer the his salamander ways, but divides the locations of family and working life. Otherwise, I would say that whatever alexithymic tendencies there are in Handke’s writing cease with WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES, at which point he strikes me as manifesting the whole range of human symian emotion.  


  1. fascinating to see all this from your perspective.
  2. I am most interested in ,say, Libgart Schwartz account, and of course in that of a few others, although Herwig's book, via his interviews, one of the two of its valuable aspects, provides hints of what folks like Peymann etc. have experienced with our genius.




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MICHAEL ROLOFF Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website