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: http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben]

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I concur Harold Bloom's observation that no Shakespeare no Freud. And
also Professor Bloom’s take on "strong" writers seemingly needing to
slay past greats as well as their contemporaries, which makes for such
hue and cry all around, at least the literary journals.

A middling NY production of OTHELLO was in Seattle a few months back:
Iago, played by a first rate Brit, was featured. "The beast with two
backs" indeed! Shakespeare plays so well because the language, the
metaphors, the knowledge of the human beast makes up for a middling
production. An absolutely lovely TEMPEST the other day first rate
director, M. Burke Walker, and some future stars from the U.W. Drama
School's graduate acting program: and a small stage transports into
transformative realms.

My great case, "Peter Handke, Wounded Love Child” I discussed ever so
briefly when Leon and I met at the paper he delivered when The
American was in Seattle.  My gut reaction to Leon was of an analyst
mother to whom I could entrust myself. A very rare being. He was
interested in my noting that Handke had said that he "wrote out of his
wound." [“The Art of Asking” – if ever there was a play for analysts!]
Handke a love child during the first two years extra-uterine, but also
intra, since he was all his mother Maria Sivec had left from the love
of her life [see his SORROW BEYOND DREAMS which details his exposure
to violent drunken primal scenes the decade subsequent.] Discussing
the case with Werner Schimmelbusch [current the head of SPSI] Werner
guessed, correctly, that Handke most likely was an anaclytic
depressive, as indeed he is. And, reading German, was most attracted
to such a stylist - as my analytic grandfather of sorts, Kurt Eisler,
was anything but, which made it easier not to get such a great library
together with his ancient couch.

Handke's origins in a poverty stricken, bi-ethnic, family of farmers
and carpenters [the Slovene grandfather installed eventually as
surrogate for the absent actual and detested German father and
stepfather figures] is the kind of writer that would have forced Freud
think twice about his belief that Shakespeare had to be of noble
origin. Handke's genius had the fortune for a priest to further his
wish to attend seminary, and have good schooling and supportive
teachers, self-made man and writer though he is, who terrorized his
family as of puberty with his demand to write near all the time!
Which it turned out was his way of calming his anxiety [he initially
proclaimed "I am the new Kafka"].  Hysteria makes for good dramatists,
who with two of his dozen plus plays, in particular THE RIDE ACROSS
LAKE CONSTANCE and the wordless succession of images that is THE HOUR
WE KNEW NOTHING OF EACH OTHER, "cleans out our clocks," makes us see
fresh, the first time I had that taste, foretaste it was to be, of
what eventually I learned to call "a good hour," was at the Lincoln
Center performances of LAKE CONSTANCE in 1971, I would go for ten
minute stints each evening of its five week run [Lacan would have
understood] to be refreshed; and there Handke completed Brecht's
project of a non-Aristotelian [sans blood and awe inspiring fall of
'great' figures!] theater, the epic of the every-day, estranged anew
the world is pure again.

Dr. Tuch's essay on exhibitionism was what was missing to help explain
Handke's compensatory, insatiable kind - that manifests itself not
only in his near constant writing and need to be in the public eye,
but also in socially untoward manner. With his childhood past it was
then not too surprising that he suffered from all the nauseas
attendant such exposure, including - talking organ manifestations - of
the eyeballs!, being, additionally, autistically hyper-sensitive [or
possibly having been made so by the exposure? raw?] and as a young man
was in near constant rage, no end of matters made him angry - tired;
and even more unfortunately that, despi deep longing for peace, he
beat up women, especially those who lived with him, and fathered
children whose mothers he left uncared for [duplicating the worst that
his two fathers had bequeathed], suffers from what he says are three
near epileptic fits per day; can not suffer having even his closest
friends in his home and takes them mushroom hunting [peaceful beings
in his universe] makes great mushroom stew that he will serve to media
people whose presence seems to allay the nausea at other bodies! That
several wives have left the lay-a-broad, finding him to be an ice cold
fish, and that the first time this happened, shortly after his
mother’s suicide, he went into a fugueing state that persisted over a
number of years, until a panic attack hospitalized him with
tachycardia – talking  psychosomatics once again – which panic Valium
put under control with: one time that the writing failed to produce
the usual calm. [There would be one future instance, in New York,
where he was writing A SLOW HOMECOMING, where he suddenly had writer’s
block, couldn’t get beyond the first pathos-filled sentence that he
had rehearsed for years.]

Dr. Tilman Moser, former author when I was a publisher in New York [I
did his YEARS OF APPRENTICESHIPS ON THE COUCH, and to considerable
consternation in these quarters then in the U.S., the late 70s] then
wrote a chapter in his ROMANE ALS KRANKHEITSGESCHICHTEN about Handke’s
novel THE MMENT OF TRUE FEELING about a certain Gregor Keuschnig who
suffers a suicidal state [Handke leaves out the precipitating
occasion, the wife disparu! But not the moment of alleviation, the
sight of his daughter’s comb, mirror, lock of hair, the moment of
“true” feeling thus being love, pulling you back from the brink], but
it is always good to know that a writer like Handke writes in what
might be called the plus-quam-perfect, to write the novel makes him
hot because it becomes the tombstone to a past event, novels of which
kind afterwards he frequently puts into a future that in the novel has
passed. With all his sadism, his need to be the top mountain goat, he
is no esthete, but has an aesthetic and in certain prose works, such
as CROSSING THE SIERRA DEL GREDOS achieves what he and others call
“ecriture pure” – which doing might make sense to those of you who
have followed me, pure in the sense of living in prose of a kind that
is transformative of the reader’s experience as he reads,
approximating what I described above as occurring through
participating in the experience of those two plays. It begins to
include experiencing his texts as filmic. DEL GREDOS has one of the
great endings: the heroine finally reaches the writer of her biography
who appears to have been intimate of her every thought and feeling
during her trek, during which she sees herself filmed, and when they
finally meet in Don Quixote’s La Mancha you realize that Handke loves
writing the way you and I have loved someone passionately during our
life, and if you are a genius you can transport us very physically by
means of words and syntax [!!!] and the reading experience into that
state of mind.

During the period of Handke's Kronenberg-Paris crisis 1971-1974 he
kept a diary of spontaneously occurring thoughts  - if you knew him
during that period, as I did, as of 1966, the Gruppe 47 meeting at
Princeton he would keep flashing, a ball point at that time, and make
a note in one of his note books [whose collection he appears to have
sold for a total of a million Euros to two major collections of that
kind in the German language literature collecting world] which was
then published as “Weight of the World”, process notes of his own I
suppose, reading of which as an overall experience tends first to put
the reader into a depressive mood, but then lifts the reader out of
it. W.o.W. notes some of the matters I mention above about
hospitalization and the heart, but also that Handke consulted a
therapeutician in Paris, apparently of the Catholic persuasion, at any
event saying to Handke one Easter that he too felt the weight of the
cross. Handke, whose sense of language despises what he calls the “dog
language” of the therapeutic – you note how nausea drives him into
another language world – agreed with the fellow’s observation that he
was disconnected from his feelings, as he then became anything but. I
have put a condensed version of what in necessary exposition is a
rather lengthy case history at:


And if you wish it in its entirety, and ask me question, whatever… I
am all yours. Zvi, who has has become precious to me via this medium,
thought what I did was "O.K" where I hoped for criticism; Dr. Tuch
appears to have been unable to follow what really is a very straight
narrative with some excursions, not the way most of you will write up
a case history. It starts with meeting a kid dressed like a Beatle
whom you had seen expose himself and confront his elders, who claimed
to be the "new Kafka", his wearing dark glasses under conditions of
the most expensively modulated night time lighting in NY, and his
sadistic village grin.... A different kind of detective story. For
Werner Bohleber at Psyche the case is a bit too heikle it appears:
after all, Handke with all his troubles and his notoriety had become
the superstar of German prose.  Tilman Moser thinks I am being
vengeful for some past hurt, well yes Handke invariably injures those
closest to him as Wim Wenders once told me, who must have been too;
but all I really did once I became interested in Handke's denials in
his novel DER CHINESE DES SCHMERZENS [ACROSS in English] was to follow
the trail wherever it might lead, and could not have imagined...
Handke is no softee, and if the emperor decides to take off his
clothes he asks to be described, some of that may be painful indeed,
but nothing will waken like a little pain now and then. His once lover
Marie Colbin going public with having been beaten up, got Peter Handke
to address having been so infuriated as to want to kill her, in his
2007 entirely autobiographical, but also evasive, MORAWISCHE NACHT.
I thank you for your indulgence and for whatever comments you may make.
Michael Roloff


Louise L. Lambrichs said...

Deeply interested by your paper. But do you read French ? If you do, you may read "Le cas Handke", I published in 2003, three years before the "Affaire" in France and Germany (www.inventaire-invention.com). Interesting is how Handke's literature allows to understand what happened in Former Yugoslavia. Of course, the context should be also well understood... Unfortunately, if French scholars read English and American studies, I'm not shure that American do read the French... ! Personally, being Jew, French, German, Austrian and Belgian, I don't think that "ethnicity" is relevant to think the case. The main question is the question of unconscious denial, in this specific context. Handke is blind... as many others. I remain you that a new genocide happened in Eastern Europe, and that Handke supported openly Milosevic. Do you have an idea of the reasons ? Sincerely.


I discuss Handke's denial in the posting on the Milosevics controversy at:
and as a matter of fact have written a series of long papers on that subject.
Denial is a common and even essential human psychological capacity, necessity.
In Handke's case it became emphatically necessary during his childood trauma, one of the sources of the creation for his "other-worldly" art. On the other, I have never known someone who sees so much, is such a great phenomenologist. If you read his JUSTICE FOR SERBIA carefully you notice that he refuses to report anything he has not seen, and when, e.g. he sees corpses floating down one of those rivers, he angrily skips a stone across it, instead of falling into the standard language of condemnation; he reports his wife Sophie Semin saying to him, about Dubrovnik, "and so you are going to deny that too?" - which means that he himself is aware of his tendency to deny. And not so long ago he denied the shelling of Dubrovnik once again, to some visiting Croatian magazine and t.v. reporters in Chaville. Very funny, and then tried to supress that he had said so once again! Even more touching!

Denial occurs for two main reasons, one because acknowledgment creates unbearable pain, the other for reasons of self image, which can be just as painful, and also as in the foolish case of Ahminejab of Persia because he wants to eliminate the raison d'etre of Israel. Denial has been criminalized meanwhile, it derives from my profession, my analytic caste, and it is a monstrosity to criminalize denial, in France I gather denial of the Turkish genocide of Armenians has meanwhile been criminalized... once you go down that road you end up at the very heart of hypocrisy and have people as in the middle ages going around with death heads in their hands, saying that they will not deny death. I well know the origin of the prohibition of denial as an aftermath of the Shoah, but it is a mistake. Handke in his somewhat problematic play EINBAUM / VOYAGE BY DUGOUT has the case of the Serbian bystander of an atrocity who was arrested in German for not intervening back in Serbia and who was then condemned to five years in a German prison for that inaction - he represent this case, which really happened, through a character called "the Forest madman", because the fellow when the Germans finally saw the error of their ways and sent him back to Serbia, he was despised: what had he done - he had watched, witnessed an atrocity, about which he could do nothing, he had not denied it even, but he was condemned for having seen. If you see where this insanity of prohibition of denial then leads. I am also appalled at French denial of their 90% collaboration and passivity under German occupation, and then seizing DeGaulle's statement about "heroic la France" as a cover, just the way the Austrians seized on the opportunity to regard themselves as victims of Hitler, whereas they were only victims of their hopes and wishes and hatred of Jews, and the way the French then treated the women who had slept with German soldiers, and that the Comedie Francaise canceled the production of a great play, Handke's THE ART OF ASKING. Handke has his monstrous sides in some ways, but I would say that denial in the instance of Yugoslavia is the least of it, and the French news media exclusively making Serbians and Milosevic's responsible is also an act of total idiocy. You might say, that all the tribes became murderous, for reasons that they scarcely know, I would say because of two national security directives under Reagan that declared economic warfare, and then when the center of socialism started to fail, you get the disintegration into ethnic nationalist beastialities.
I do read French do not know your book, will gladly read yet another on the subject,
perhaps we can correspond via e-mail? mikerol [at] lycos. com


  • http://handke-trivia.blogspot.com/
  • http://handke-drama.blogspot.com/
  • http://handke-watch.blogspot.com/
  • http://www.handke.scriptmania.com/favorite_links_1.html
  • http://www.handke-discussion.blogspot.com/
  • http://www.soldzresearch.com/PsychoanalyticResourcesOnline.htm
  • http://www.picasaweb.google.com/mikerol/HANDKE3ONLINE#
  • http://www.picasaweb.google.com/mikerol/HANDKE2ONLINE#
  • http://www.picasaweb.google.com/mikerol/POSTED?authkey=YeKkFSE3-Js#


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MICHAEL ROLOFF http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html