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]

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Peter HHandke: Wounded Love Child The Psychoanalytic Monograph, Condensed


Peter Handke: Wounded Love Child
The Psychoanalytic Monograph, Condensed
By Michael Roloff

I first became aware of Peter Handke at the Gruppe 47 meeting in Princeton New Jersey in May 1966 where he delivered a general onslaught against the there read texts. Fairly well versed in contemporary German writing, I was sitting next to the Spiegel reporter Erich Kuby who, as he started to make notes, told me who it was who was speaking, but was being prohibited from launching general attacks. That this event would become the major news from this meeting can be attributed to the truth of Handke's statement on the impotence of the there delivered texts, none of which made for the kind of éclat that Handke’s statement did, as his own did not either. The vehemence of Handke’s attack, however, did not much impress me, who has or at least once was nonchalant about major upheavals, and because I had participated in U.S. creative writing programs where far harsher things are said. On the basis of this single performance you would not conclude that Handke was an exhibitionist as he then turned out to be, also in the  socially disfavored sense, whereupon he  feels “a little diabolical” as he told me in Paris in the mid-70s. As a matter of fact it was Dr. Robert Tuch’s piece on compensatory trauma based exhibitionism {1} that then made me conclude my work, to the extent that I can finish it at this or any time. And if it were not for Handke’s exhibitionism and his need to write nearly at all times, itself both symptom and cure [at age 67 he has that number of books to his credit as well as approximately twenty some plays and twenty translations, from the ancient Greek, Elizabethan, French, American, and Slovenian, and rumor has it that on his deathbed he will tell us what he, who at his birth is said to have clutched the stub of a pencil, what his depressed mother’s Borborygma  -bowel growls! - communicated intrauterine!] so as to calm himself, his being in need of public performances and being photographed {2}, and publishing four volumes of diaries during his life time, and in his novels and also non-fiction projects using his self, putting as he announced he would, his self into play, manifesting changing self and self states as his primary material - without that mass of material I would be hard pressed to have undertaken a project of this kind.
     At Princeton I also happened to notice what is best described in the German words as a "lüsterne" expression pass over Handke's face, at the presence of Max Frisch, sheer raw ambition as I have seen it only a few times in my life. It invariably spelled: trouble ahead!
     After Princeton, I and two friends, one of them had a spacious residence, gave a party for German and American writers. There I talked twice to Handke; the first time he explained, on being asked, that he wore nightshades - even in expensively modulated lighting conditions! - because he had eye problems. It would be some years before I read in his 1980 Die Lehre der St. Victoire [The Lesson of Saint Victoire-{3}] that he suffered from occasional bouts of color blindness, which is very much a sub-rubric and a complicated one in the etiologies that I explored to the then 1990 state of available evidence but did without reaching a definite conclusion. Handke himself writes in L.St.V. that he searched in his two families  - his mother, Maria Sivec, was of the Slovenian minority in Carinthia; two of her brothers died during World War II; Handke’s actual father, a Herr Schoenherr, derives from the Harz region in Thuringia and Handke has Handke – the German mishmash of a Polish name - for a last name because his real father, the love of his mother’s life, was already married and refused to marry Maria, whereupon she married a fellow German soldier, Bruno Handke, who was stationed with the same company of soldiers in Griffen, Carinthia, Austria in 1942, which makes Handke a bastard with the to be expected legitimacy and father and identity problematics, at least for the first forty some years of his life. Both father and stepfather survived the war, the wounded Bruno Handke returned to Berlin in 1944, where Peter Handke, now two years old, first encountered him the same year. Until then, young Peter had been, as I inferred long ago and of which there exists ample evidence {4} and as he confessed in his 2008  even more than usually directly autobiographical novel Moravian Nights {5} very much his mother’s exclusive love, a love child and a compensatory one if ever there one was for a joyous mother; with his grandfather Sivec as the sole male figure to intrude into the baby’s consciousness until the quickly hated Bruno Handke became the terror father figure in 1944 due to the then ensuing decade long bouts of violent drunken primal scenes, Handke would then hate everything German for many years. {6}
 The evidently curious Handke failed to find evidence for the phenomenon of bouts of color blindness among his relatives, and, if not of genetic or strictly physiological origin, I initially postulated that his eye problems was rooted in Handke’s then near constant state of rage and hysteria. For the plethora of matters and their extraordinary enumeration of what both infuriated and tired young Handke see his 1989 Essay on Tiredness {7}, one of them the “cat on a hot tin roof noises” in the room above his. Many if not all consequences, including Handke’s numerous nauseas – including of the eyeballs! - can be accounted for by the decade-long trauma of exposure to violent drunken primal scenes, no matter that Handke writes in one of my chief sources, his 1971 book about his mother’s suicide Sorrow Beyond Dream {6} that one solution to the exposure was to put the blanket over his head - presumably his strength to dissociate in order to write objective texts may have gained an extra fillip from the so strengthened defense against the experience as well. It was while reviewing, around 1990, his 1984 novel Across [Chinese des Schmerzens {8}] that begins with the sentence “Close your eyes, and the world will arise anew” that I became aware of Handke’s capacity to say “no” to some matters to which the answer was obviously “yes,” which puzzlement on my part then eventuated in this work and even greater admiration for the work he has accomplished in living with and partly overcoming liabilities over which he was given no choice.
One other useful sequelae of this decade long traumatic exposure, aside the ability to dissociate, for a writer [the Rembrandt painting of a woman clipping her fingernails was Joyce’s metaphor for the same disinterested state of mind, so akin the scientific mode], is that Handke suffers from insomnia and therefore does most of his writing at night, which then has unfortunate social consequences, and that he survived the anxiety by successfully masturbating {9} just as  many of his early texts constitutes a victory over fear, an experience the real reader can share {10}; thus it being not all that surprising that our great manifester who had initially presented himself to the world as “the new Kafka” would eventually call himself the “anti-Kafka!” Handke himself has mentioned how surprised he was that everything was so calm on the page after he had felt anxious, and takes pride in how geil, how “hot”, his formulations are; and I postulate in this instance something like the obverse of Freud/ Breuer’s original thesis of hysteria, a conversion of hysteria based anxiety into the strength of a calm self. Nor is it all that surprising that someone with Handke’s trauma and background would eventually become a writer of mythic openness and a transfigurer par excellence.
Focusing on Handke’s “nausea of the eyeballs” I speculated initially that Handke’s rage might account easily for the bouts of color-blindness as in the proverbial “seeing black”; add to that what Handke calls his explosions of sacred rage and his then states of anxiety, an underlying dis-associated hysteria that keeps breaking through the defenses which then requires writing to calm himself down and to avert… and voila! - that would suffice: except that, in 1989, Handke, in a book-length interview with Herbert Gamper {11}, confessed that he still experienced occasional bouts of autism, scarcely a self-diagnosis that. I would witness some of these episodes which thus became somewhat explicable to me in retrospect; and, considering the extreme hyper-sensitivity of all of Handke’s senses, sheer quantitative, unmodulated input would suffice to explain the phenomenon of occasional color blindness as well, the old breaching of the barrier. Needing to review all my findings and speculative conclusions in the light of Handke’s autism, however, threw a major wrench into them, unless what was diagnosed as “autism” is itself a derivative of the decade long childhood trauma. Handke’s autism for me means that he has the eyes of an eagle, the nose of your best blood hound, the ears of your best bat, and the skin of a porpoise, the sense of taste of the finickiest feline, that he is socially gauche, that he cannot have other bodies in the room with him for long – currently, in his abode outside Paris, he at once takes even the closest friends out for a mushroom ramble in the forest [mushrooms signify peaceful harmless being for someone who much yearns for being at peace and being harmless himself, of which he I hear tell he makes the world’s best mushroom stew] and only interviewers and photographers or T.V. crews are allowed to stay in the domicile, through whom Handke can communicate and manifest himself to the world. {2}. And that he still has a mild case of Tourettism a frequent attribute of autism, augmented and made sacred as that may have been by his eventually self-chosen father figure, his grandfather’s royal cussing, and which can be delightful when turned into musical salvoes as it is at the end of his famous Publikumsbeschimpfung/ Public Insult. {12} And also that everything has to be just so, perfect, and that he needs to be in control, as are most of his works; that is, that the standard of perfection is one of his own literary texts. In other words, a wife’s delight!
The color of the glasses that Handke wears has become far lighter over the years, either because of anti-anxiety medication which he has perhaps takes more than just occasionally in extreme states, or because his sensitivity to light has abated, but eye problems is the chief reason why Handke has never managed to get a driver's license and thus has become most likely the greatest reporter and observer of what occurs during bus trips {13}, and needs friends to chauffeur him; that is, unless he, who must be one of the last great walkers on the earth –  another way that this so very solitary writer has of calming himself [on which it has indeed become “hard  to walk,” I only know one better, a little Scotsman who traversed the entire thousand mile long coast lines of Baja California Norte and Sur both up and down, which has no end of bahias that add at least another 500 miles to the task!]
At the first of our two brief conversations Handke was dressed as a kind of Beatle, and had that kind of haircut, closely checkered yellow black shirt, a pink carnation in the vest pocket, and it turned out that he loved their music even more than I did, and as we find out in his 1991 Essay on the Jukebox {7} sought refuge during dreaded family childhood outings in his home region in jukeboxes. His mode of dress has changed so frequently afterwards that he appears to be as much male model as writer. {2}
 At the N.Y. party when Alan Ginsberg approached Handke and me as we were talking the second time, I - who has a somewhat but less than Handke village background - could not but help notice a sadistic village grin spread over my guest’s face at something that Ginsberg said: as Handke says: "The smell sticks." My Elephant memory! Meanwhile he manages to make fun of this expression on his face himself.
While in New York, Handke took a West German News crew up to the top of the Empire State Building and announced [they were not the first to be so informed, Ted Ziolkovsky a Hesse specialist at Princeton was, too], that he, Handke,  was "the new Kafka." We all recall Kafka himself announcing in Prague that he was the first and that therefore there would be many others! My man was confident to a fault! Upon Suhrkamp Verlag’s acceptance of his first novel, Die Hornissen {14}, written at age 22 on the now Croatian Island of Krk/ Cordula, Handke ceased his law studies at the University of Graz which he, farsighted and thinking that like a 19th century writer he would create a large body of work {4}, law studies that he had undertaken to receive one of those wonderful sinecures that cultured nations provide to writers who cannot make a living at their craft, that of cultural attaché, and as such Handke would later assume a personae, one of his near innumerable focused masks, but this a major one, for several of his major works under the name of Gregor Keuschnig, Gregor being the name of one his beloved deceased uncles whose war time letters had been an heirloom of the Sivec clan back in Griffen [some of Handke’s works – Sorrow Beyond Dreams, The Repetition, Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick - indeed have become heirlooms to quite a few around the world], Gregor being the first name most frequently and fondly assumed by our author. {15}. Prior to university studies, Handke, assisted by the village priest, had achieved his  goal of attending the seminary Tanzenberg, but  quickly felt homesick and for the first time felt nausea at “other bodies”, wrote down a long dream and sent it to his mother in which he identified himself with her dead brother Gregor, who had studied horticulture in Ljubljana prior to his induction into the German army [which dream I interpret as an unusual but highly successful adjudication of the oedipal challenges someone like Handke faced, especially so from what anthropologists call “the avunculate” and to which phenomenon I trace many of Handke’s most attractive and sympathetic sides] and did his first writing and was “discovered” by his first German teacher, and back home, as adolescent, terrorized the family with his insistence on complete quiet when he was writing, and since he was writing nearly all the time even then…; but left the seminary over a matter of conscience that led to an altercation and completed his matura at a Gymnasium at not too distant Klagenfurt [known for its great author Robert Musil]; worked in a card board cutting factory; and was dirt poor.
      And here we are at Pannah Grady’s apartment in the Dakota in late Spring in 1966, in whose courtyard Handke’s dedicatee, John Lennon, would be killed by a young goon from the state of Georgia years later [while I was on the Georgia Gold Coast, in 1980, where the news came out that a fellow from Georgia was the assassin they said it was sure to be a Negro], and Handke is dressed like a Beatle and is chipper as only a kid can be who was already a virtuoso, a Liszt with words in quelling anxiety, labora verimus very early on!  And who would have thought that he already had such a past on his pelt! Leaving a bastard child behind uncared for in Krk as we find out in Moravian {5}. And that he would, via a period as a young Turk deconstructor become the reconstructor of a narrative mode on the order of Goethe, Stifter and Flaubert and still a complete virtuoso, and a bit of a lazy one now on occasion as the great success story that he is, who has manage to incorporate the medium of film into narrative and has written equally if not far greater plays than he did during his youthful period, in two of which, the 1970 The Ride Across Lake Constance and the 1992 The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other he, as we say in Amurrican, cleans out our clocks, utterly refresh us, make us see the world anew; to put this into more accustomed literary terms: Handke accomplishes, completes the task Brecht set himself, to produce anti-Aristotelian non-cathartically cathartic drama, strange and new, and in those instances he is utterly playful. “Play on” as it says at the end of Walk About the Villages {16} his richest work; that is, we have Mr. Handke’s permission!
 Handke creates EXPERIENCES – on the stage in that his plays  bear affinity to happenings, sleight of hand juggling acts, of necessity also of our culture so dominated by visual media, his earlier play more obviously than the later ones that accommodate themselves somewhat to usual but also employ more ancient stage practices, and so do his books whose initial reception ought to be a phenomenological description of the reader’s experience. E.g. doesn’t the very syntax of The Repetition slow down your breathing, make you a “king of slowness”? Isn’t reading Absence also like experiencing a film? And therefore disconcerting? Not that scarcely anyone in the dramatic cultural overall Disneyfied desert that Los Estados Unidos Norte is has noticed, or are willing to follow the rake’s so very interesting progress.
And there am I, who turned down C.I.A. imprecations in Berlin in 1957, and after translating all the early Handke plays up to and including his richest, also most revelatory magnetic work, that lodestone Walk About the Villages during a critical moment during my analysis {16} and some adventures in the publishing world, will become a sleuth of my then vis-à-vis’s psyche! And occasional critic, but chiefly acclaimer of the value of his writing.
     By 1967 I had read what the fuss was about and acquired Handke's first plays and second novel, Der Hausierer {17}, for the U.S. publisher I worked for. Not knowing to whom to assign the translation of these very playful texts, Self-Accusation, Public Insult & Kaspar {12}, I started to play with them on my typewriter, finding the experience delightful. Since the Suhrkamp agent was unsuccessful in finding performances for the plays, I then found a pick-up troupe and did them at a large variety of New York venues, experience of translating and rehearsing these texts bringing home to me that the fellow was a genius, who in an unusual way had access to the music of the spheres, at the very least to its syntax, especially in that respect and as a formalist. By that I mean the ability to sustain a large complex of matters simultaneously in mind, and to do so rapidemente, that is also Henry James’ definition. I do not subscribe to the notion of mad geniuses, rather to the notion that the world can drive geniuses mad, as it and some of the many women he has tangled with have on occasion brought out the psychotic side of the so high-strung Peter Handke, not an attractive spectacle, most notoriously so during the disintegration of Yugoslavia, where it was evident that his petulant behavior signified the extraordinary injury his being suffered for what for him was the destruction of his land of peace, and so his behavior would have called for understanding instead of cudgels and derision. Fat chance of course in the world such as it is, if even the analytic community, supposedly “scientific” and claiming to produce “understanding” can fight like dogs and cats!
At my troupe’s performance of Public Insult [Publikumsbeschimpfung] at the Goethe House an analyst told me that the piece served to make the audience as self-conscious as the best group therapy session might; thus providing me with first hint of the transport of Handke’s own extreme critical self-consciousness onto an audience.
Some years ago now, when I discussed the great Handke case in detail with Dr. Werner Schimmelbusch, who subsequently become the head of S.I.S.P.I., the Seattle Chapter of the Psychoanalytic Association, he pointed out that what with Maria Sivec’s lovelorn and depressed state of mind yet happy to have at least the child she was bearing to term, Handke, most likely suffered from what is technically called “anaclytic depression” [leaning, osmotic], and I had to assent to that speculation since  especially some fairly early texts of Handke’s induce a depressed feeling in the reader, but as I and other readers have experienced, then seems to write himself and the reader out of that state of depression. Listen up pharma! Thus Handke is a both directly and subtly activist author, which is what attracted me to his work.
Handke himself felt that something dreadful had happened to him at birth, speculated about a birth trauma. However, the extant midwife’s report {4} speaks of an uncomplicated birth, pursuit of which subject then allowed me to put to rest the once analytic controversy on the subject since the massage the insensate skin of the fetus receives as it is delivered through what is now the birth canal is not liable to be a traumatic procedure; and I think Charles Darwin would agree with me.
More likely, the dreadful event in Handke’s past had its inception at his and his mother leaving Griffen and going to Berlin in 1944 which was under daily massive bombing raids and the inception of the night time exposure to violent primal scenes, coincidence of which would certainly do the trick.
I know of several horrendous screen memories of my own, one dating to the inception of British bombing of Bremen in 1940/41 and one to a brief visit to Berlin in 1943 while the Zoo there was bombed; thus let us not forget what the terrorism of “Shock and Awe” produced in the children of Belgrade and Bagdad more recently.
 Just this week I reread, now in electronic transmissible form, the extraordinary physician Dr. Charlotte Pommer’s account of the end of the war and the siege of Berlin, who, working in the Berlin Police Hospital, managed to save both my parents there from the Gestapo – Stalingrad comes to Germany, Kafka wins! And so that period is very much present again.  
After 1966 I saw Handke next in 1969 in Berlin to discuss my Kaspar translation. In Berlin Handke composed  nearly all the early wonderful plays and novels, he was living on the Uhland Strasse, I believe it was, in the apartment of the kind of German prince who likes to connect with the artistically talented, an apartment filled with stacks of newspapers, rather dank. I was perfectly happy to leave it at once and go to an outdoor restaurant on the Ku-Damm, and thought nothing about having baby Amina shown to me. Based on that experience you wouldn’t conclude that here is a man who needs to show and can’t bear being alone in a room with anyone for very long! Handke notes in his account of his life with his first daughter, A Child’s Story [1980-{18}] how upset he was with the young revolutionaries visiting him not caring a hoot about having his baby shown to them. Around the time of the publication of that book, happening to be in a victorious mood, I outplayed Handke at Tarot in Salzburg {19}, infuriating him and was punished by not being shown his re-imported first wife! Thus I think we can safely assume that the works that Handke bestows on the world are also to be regarded as shown gifts, with all that goes with response to or failure to respond to such offerings.
Next, in 1971, Handke and his then wife Libgart Schwartz and his close friend Fredi Kolleritsch showed up in New York for a 21 stops in 28 days tour of the U.S. as an Austrian cultural package, which produced the wonderful Godaresque novel A Short Letter Long Farewell which features a wife pursuing a husband, and with a gun, during which visit I noticed one event that I was subsequently able to explain to myself as one of his “autistic” episodes, in as much as that suffices for an explanation. Handke suddenly stepped away from a conversation between two of his earliest American admirers, Stanley Kaufman and Richard Gilman and myself and secreted himself at my record player and put on a Beatles record. Also, his tour was marked by Tourettisms galore, some of which I only heard of the second time I moved to the West Coast, and I could not but help notice that our supremely arrogant author, who was sleeping around in Berlin, treated his wife insultingly and I guessed she would split in short order, as she then did with dire consequences for my man’s state of mind, as we can read in the three long progressively more stormy fugueing poems of Nonsense & Happiness {20}, and in his novel of the suicidal Austrian cultural attaché Keuschnig in A Moment of True Feeling {21} where we have that moment that love – for the child – burst through and our Kafka begins to change into anti-Kafka.
Moving to Paris from Kronenburg where he had moved from the too noisy Berlin in 1970, Handke saw an analyst who mentioned to him that he was emotionally remote, a statement with which Handke agreed, and suffered from panic attacks one of which landed him in a hospital. The doctors said that there was nothing seriously wrong {22}, it was a tachycardia, and the taking of valium did the trick of calming him down. However, as only in rare matters that seem seriously to damage our author’s self-image as he imagines it seen publically, Handke prevaricated both about the reasons for his wife leaving him and the reason for the hospitalization. Libgart Schwartz did not leave him to resume her work as an actress because she had never stopped, and there is nothing wrong with Handke’s heart valves, as we can find out about the panic attacks in his correspondence with the German poet Nikolaus Born {23}, and from Letter to St. Victoire where Handke tells us that the only thing his hated stepfather Bruno Handke was proud of was that Peter was declared fit for service in the Austrian army [you have to present yourself for a physical at age 18], it appears the Austrian army cares not whether you have Handke’s kind of eye problems, or maybe he pointed it out and that is the reason he never did the required basic training.
Handke has said the reason he keeps affiancing himself to actresses is because they are “light,” or “lighter.” Thinking on what that might mean in the case of someone who is so beauty-oriented as of the earliest age { see the photos in 4 or follow the link at 2} yet of a depressive nature, and so media-oriented, I connect it with the title of his first published diary, Weight of the World  [1975-{23}]: indeed a beautiful woman helps defray depression I suppose; makes you feel better about yourself if you are badly self-imaged, not only that, a man himself will look better in the company of a pretty woman, she reflects on to him; it makes him look better, lighter; he can show her off [or withhold showing off] and actresses can be considered to be play-acting, i.e. not completely real, perhaps “as if”… [the real-ization of, the transport of the “as if” into the other world that is literature is the point] are also in that respect less “weighty”… and of course more graceful than… one quality that no Amurrican reviewer appear to have entirely missed is how graceful a writer Handke is, how graceful the forms of his works… and thought of their womanly neediness and materialism might just disappear!   But I also realize that all of Handke’s beautiful things are acts of generosity that are offered, shown to us as gifts… performances… also to be admired, ask for a requisite response; and since he so closely identifies with them… within those transactions between author and audience, where the author might withdraw and sulk if he is not sufficiently appreciated…- However, an actress, unless doubling as a French saint while with Peter Handke, will be more demanding and needy than an “as if,” and so the reasons why he as a writer who works at such a high level of concentration is not to be recommended as a mate… are, let me put it matter-of-factly… over-determined. Handke’s second wife, Sophie Semin, was a model when he met her in Paris, who instantly wanted to become an actress and left him when he had foisted this French actress onto Peymann for his production of The Play about the Film about the War {24}, shades of Citizen Kane I suppose, or maybe she begged him, and maybe she’s even talented; and Peymann is not someone who can say no to Handke. Handke did not go into a major fugueing cataclysm as he had when his first wife split, as usual he was already having an affair, while the wife, Sophie – the so talkative Don Juan told me around 1993 that he was emotionally withdrawing – thought him cadaverously cold as Moravian Nights also tells us. Handke’s last publically known major relationship was with the highly intelligent German T.V. and film star Katja Flint. Handke said – it was a commuting relationship – that maybe not living together it might work. It did for a few years, and Ms. Flint, not having had to suffer living with our man, continues to express fondness for him. So presumably she was not beaten up as many other women were and did not suffer the misery of having to live as a cave dweller for any length in the aboriginal Forêt de Chaville outside Paris.  As Handke has written many a time: “Stay in the picture.” The only bad news for a model is no photo-op. Handke invariably asked for trouble and got it, and the question is why someone who knows and writes in Moravian Nights {5} that women prove a danger, and has become seriously paranoid about them if only to his all important work, has then tangled with such a profusion of them? And lost male friends over tangling with their girlfriends. Gratuitously as it were. And been totally unaware. And then thought they were still his friend. Vim Wenders who knows Handke personally far better than I did mentioned to me here in Seattle that Handke invariably hurts those closest to him, I did not ask how Wenders had been. Being who I am [or used to be] I once made a joke to Handke about how he had hurt me: he could not handle it! As of the mid-seventies I sought to be alone as little as possible with Handke, he spooked me, and for good reason. He might do something dreadful, and appear to be entirely forgetful, have dissociated it the next week. His work is marked by numerous irruptions of violence into the lyrical epical flow of the texts. Suddenly a drunken chain-wielding Indian appears in Sorger’s Alaska idyll, suddenly an old Nazi is righteously killed in Across. Most famously, of course, in Goalie, construction worker ex-goalie Josef Bloch sees water bubbles on a hot plate as ants whereupon he throttles his pick-up, no wonder the moment is so authentic and expressed with a powerful metaphor, Handke had immediate access to those feelings.
In ­A Child’s Story we can read Handke confess that in a moment of extreme irritation [the basement of his bungalow in Kronenburg was flooding] he smacked the head of his two year old distraught crying daughter! It takes very little to breach his threshold and elicit violence!
 Handke mentions in his great play The Art of Asking {25}, that he “writes out of his wound” – it is a love-child’s wound, the wound made him an exhibitionist, competitively so, to which drive we also owe the work, the unceasing work, but also instances such as his fessing up to ugly things he has done, the boundary between the private and the public is breached. The most unfortunate aspect of traumas, after all, is that you become the wound that wounds over and over again and knows not what it is doing while trying to heal [it was nice to notice a few instances of the concept “the unconscious” cropping up in his Del Gredos-{26} – until the compulsion ceases, the eternal return that needs to be acted out over and over again, as it were, the compulsion to heal! What a conundrum! Handke might have the courage to face his wound, he would no longer be at its mercy, but that would require the kind of self-understanding that he so lacks, beyond phenomenological observations.
Handke introduces his admission to having beaten a woman in Moravian Night’s tactical concession defense, as a belated response to former lover and Lebensgefährte, collaborator on a film, now Erinye Marie Colbin’s going public, during the Handke/ Yugoslavia publicity wars in the 90s, {27} with a description of how Handke had nearly killed her. „I can still feel my head bang on the stone floor. I can still feel the mountain hiker boots hit my stomach and your fist in my face… As long as there are men in the world – men like you – one-eyed, unyielding, power-hungry and egomaniacal – there will be weapons and therefore war… Who are you, to think of yourself as so important. You are neither great, nor noble nor modest nor honest. A vain writer is what you are, who suns himself in the role of the solitary prophet… In some way you will be thankful for this war [The Yugoslav wars of 1994] because it will satisfy your insatiable longing for public acclaim.” - I myself would have to say that while I have found Handke at other moments to be the most empathic, generous and sensitive friend… albeit at a remove, unless it become a matter of his precious self-image even if you were supporting his work, that ever so unfortunately I have to agree with each and every item that Ms. Colbin lists and was only surprised that it took so long for one of these women to speak up, in this instance an exquisite actress whom my man exploited in the film they made of a Margaret Duras book who, however, as the now Erinye who haunts Handke’s books as of the 1984 Across, and after the beating haunted him all over Salzburg so that he had to go to a pub at its edges with his friends, and who still haunts him Moravian Night, a Fury who evidently has little appreciation at the moment [the usual forgetfulness at moments of such irruptions] she made her statement that a certain kind of extreme narcissism - is required to do work at Handke’s genius – after all, he lacks the modesty of a Bruckner - level, and that his [in this instance insatiable compensatory need to exhibit his wound – and have a response, to make contact] is one of the major drives that produces the books. He describes his egomaniacal behavior toward the end of Moravian where we find the “ex-author” with his half-brother in Griffen, and the brother describes what a horror Handke had been already as an adolescent when he wrote, terrorizing the entire family. Moravian’s belated response to Ms. Colbin’s more than ten year old charge - and what a lucky man he is that the beaten black and blue did not go to the police with whom Handke has also tangled several times – admits that he actually had wanted to kill her, something Ms. Colbin of course could not know that his hatred went so deep, but then, as Handke must since his public image is at stake, he creates the excuse, the lie that Colbin would not leave him alone to do his writing any single moment of the day. Unfortunately Handke has already beaten many other women and used to say in the 70s how his once girlfriend Jeanne Moreau had been the toughest fighter – and it turns out that that tough broad actually may have beaten him up {23}, I wouldn’t put it past her, at any event she so acquired Handke’s respect to have an extra role written for her for the film he made of his film/novel The Absence! In Moravian, Handke has himself blanking out at the moment of the wish to kill [thus he might have actually killed, and not remembered] and that’s the moment of psychosis that still rips as the censors did in Tsarist times. Towards the end of Moravian, the protagonist narrator in an imaginary film sequence, knocks off the Erinye’s head, as she approaches him, and in innocence, which might mean that the injury she did to Handke’s self-image and in public is such that his hatred is as unbounded as is her lasting fury! Such are the wages of narcissistic injuries.
Handke, the writer, may be “the one,” but he himself makes it very clear in No-Man’s-Bay {28} that as a person he is anything but – not that that stops the confusions of idol worship based on what artistry can do.
Handke’s misogyny of course comes as a great surprise as it does from the writer of Sorrow Beyond Dream, it appears it is possible to writer and not learn from what one writes oneself!
However, it is Handke’s self-righteousness that I find his most unpleasant quality, e.g. Handke calling Günter Grass belated public admission [also to get in on that publicity storm!] to having let himself be drafted into the Waffen-SS at age 17 [a matter actually quite well known already during the 60s at least in Berlin] a vergüenza [Handke’s explosion – he also calls them his “sacred rage” -  first appeared in Spanish] - in Moravian he has his woman call him a “hanging judge” [Dorf Richter] - calls it a profound shame, that everyone knew at age 17 what the SS did [if Americans could only become as ashamed of their Special Forces and CIA crimes and their major war criminals, who all ought to undergo a Nuremberg tribunal and then be hanged, if need be posthumously and be similarly iconized; which no doubt would require a conquest by the Martians!] it certainly is a far greater vergüenza for someone aged 30 to nearly kill his own two year old baby girl in a fit of irritation and to keep beating up wives and girlfriends just because you saw your hated stepfather do so, for an entire decade, with no end of hideous sequaelae. But at least the author of Moravian can now make fun of himself, though he might pin the great quote he uses at the beginning of his great play The Play About the Film About the War   to his forehead, or maybe keep it in his pocket and at any upsurge of righteousness look at it: “Mistakes by others that highlight equivalent errors of our own precipitate a moral disappointment that permits us to assume the strict and noble stance of both judge and victim and gives rise to an inner state of moral euphoria. This euphoria distances us swiftly and surely from the process of personal moral perfection and makes of us terrible and merciless and even bloodthirsty judges. Ivo Andric, Signs by the Wayside
There also exist great analysts in Paris, and analysis, after all, painful as it may be at times, also affords no end of previously unknown totally unexpected riches for the effort involved by both parties in that adventure. And Handke would find out that though he thinks of the language in which the therapeutic is discussed to be “dog language” that that is not the case during its practice.
Handke did major psychic reorganizational and not just writer’s work in his 1986 The Repetition, {30} – where he has his surrogate Filip Kobal – the name of a 19th century Slovene independence revolutionary - repeats Handke’s own post high school graduation trek to Slovenia, among the many other matters that it repeats and retrieves [going back to his first novel, Die Hornissen and fulfilling the promise of the last sentence of Sorrow Beyond Dreams that he would get back to all of that once more later], learned Slovenian, his grandfather’s language, and created his own Slovenian-German dictionary, and thus acquired a firm identity of his grandfather, who already in 1921 voted for the first Yugoslav confederation and was no longer Kafka’s eternal son and apprentice of Kafka’s Letter to My Father. Subsequently his writing changed dramatically and he ventured forth on another of the seven year phases with his Three Essays [1989,90,91-{7}] in which you can rough out the rake’s progress, and wrote most of his later great works, the play The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other [1992], My Year in the Nomans-Bay [1993], The Play About the Film About the War [1994]; the novels Crossing the Sierra Del Gredos; [2002], the 2007 Kali and the 2008 Moravian Night, to mention just the highpoints in a stupendous output of all kinds. We have a living classic amongst us! And I read recently that Mr. Handke and Ms. Semin have reconciled, after everyone had another bunch of affairs and that he has found in her someone whom he can regard as “ebenbürtig”, co-equal, a nice and rare state of being indeed. And if not exactly a pussy cat, Handke makes up to his second daughter what he deprived his first of. Of course he is still an inveterate lover of all things Yugoslav and continues to insist on the immense injustice perpetrated there, and in that respect I am all with him, and then some. So if all does not end well it does at least up to a point. If anyone deserves the Nobel Prize it is Handke, though not for any single book, but for the entire amazing oeuvre, his work does, to call world wide attention to how the logos has been renovated and enlarged, not he himself. But both he and his work are unlikely to receive the ultimate laurel because of the stand and how he took his stand in matters Serbian, where he led me, who found his self-exposure most suspect by then, to come to agreement with him, and then some, in matters of Western destabilization. I would put in special mention of the following works in the citation: The plays Public Insult, Kaspar, Ride Across Lake Constance, The Hour, The Art of Asking; The Play about the Film about the War; the prose works, Der Hausierer; Short Letter Long Farewell, Left-Handed Woman, No-Man’s-Bay, Essay on the Jukebox, Absence, Del Gredos, Don Juan, Kali and would cite Moravian for containing patches of some of his greatest writing from which no end of future writer can learn, take off… then I would let the Erinyes out of their cages! Just think of the media hullaballoo! “Nobel Prize winner devoured by tigresses!”

1] Robert Tuch,
3] The Lesson of St. Victoire can be found as part of the recently re-issued A Slow Homecoming NYRB-Books]
4] Haslinger, Die Jugend eines Schrifstellers,
5] Moravian Night will not appear in English for some years, but I have written at length on it at
http://handke-watch.blogspot.com/ with ample links to other takes on the book.
6] Sorrow Beyond Dreams [Wunschloses Unglueck] also available from NYRB-Books. A close reading of S.B.D. and Myer’s et al’s work on the traumatic effect of continuous exposure to the primal scene, much less than what Handke was subjected to, serve as the background for my thoughts here. Otherwise check the online resources via http://soldzresearch.com/PsychoanalyticResourcesOnline.htmh
7] The Essay on Tiredness is one of Handke’s Three Essays [Farrar, Straus and Giroux]
8] Across [Chinese des Schmerzens], F.S.G.
9] In this I follow Heinz Kohut’s thinking.
10] See my analysis of one of the poem Singular and Plural from  Handke’s Innerworld of the Outerworld of the Innerworld at http://www.handkelectures.freeservers.com for what I mean very specifically. Continuum Books. O.U.P.
11] Handke/ Gamper: Aber ich Lebe doch nur von den Zwischenraeumen, Suhrkamp Verlag.
12] in Kaspar and Other Plays Hill+Wang/F.S.G. and in The Compleat Plays of Peter Handke Volume I, Methuen.
13] Exquisite bus event descriptions can be found in Essay on the Juke Box, My Year in the No-Man’s-Bay, but especially in the second section of Moravian Nights which has an absolute tour de force one.
14] Die Hornissen [1966] Suhrkamp Verlag.
15] See Fabjan Hafner Peter Handke Unterwegs ins Neunte Land for a first rate placing of the Balkan background in his work
16] Walk About the Villages, Ariadne Press, 1995, also contains a description of translating under extremis in analyis.
17] Der Hausierer, Suhrkamp Verlag, also available in Romance language translations.
18] A Child’s Story [1981] was made part of the American edition of A Slow Homecoming, see fn. # 6 above.
For a long amusing account of that visit.
20] Nonsense and Happiness, Urizen Books, 1976. Out of print. Just republished in German in Handke’s compleat poems, Das Leben Ohne Poesie, also available in a fine Spanish translation in its entirety.
21] A Moment of True Feeling, Farrar, Straus; Stunde der Wahren Empfindung, Suhrkamp Verlag [1974]
22] Weight of the World [1976], Farrar Straus. Das Gewicht der Welt, Suhrkamp, 1975
23] The correspondence of Nikolaus Born and Peter Handke.
24] Voyage by Dugout or The Play of the Film of the War translated by Scott Abbott [unpublished], Die Fahrt im Einbaum, das Stück zu Film über den Krieg, Suhrkamp Verlag. There exist translations into Greek and Serbian.
25] The Art of AskingThe Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other are published in one volume by Yale University Press, Gitta Honegger, translator.
26]  Crossing the Sierra del Gredos, translated by Krishna Winston, F.S.+G. 2008; I have written at great length about this novel at: http://handke-discussion.blogspot.com/
Which also has a long take on the Milosevic controversy.
27] her statement first in Der Falter, and was picked up
28] My Year in the No-Man’s-Bay, translated by Krishna Winston, F.S.G. 1996.
29] The Repetition, translated by Ralph Mannheim, F.S.G. 1988.
I and many others have written extensively on the above and if you follow:
though shalt  find!

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