Thursday, June 16, 2016

"The Dog Barking"

You asked me about what I think of this political season (you did not ask me what I think about this political season). Because you asked me (you did not ask me), I let Thomas Bernhard's Frost speak for me:

"I could say it's the living end," said the painter, "but it's the end of life, by turns low down and high up, low down, then all around, it smashes its head against the snow blanket, it crashes incessantly against the awful iron in the air, the iron in the air, if you must know, that's where it gets shredded, and you have to breathe it in, breathe it in through your ears, till you go crazy, till the noise shreds you, till your earlobes smash brain and muzzle, muzzle and brain with the limitless naïveté of destructiveness. Listen to it, stop and listen to it: that yapping! It's not possible to eradicate it, all you can do is push it back, push it back with your brain, push back the yap, the bark, the ghastly godawful yowling, you can press it down, but then it comes up worse, it will crush flesh, soul and flesh, it's established itself like maggots in space, established itself everywhere, in the shattering fat of history, in the quarterstaves of the insoluble diluvia . . . It makes no sense," said the painter, "to try and hide in the dog barking, it will find you out, and then even your fear will be chewed up . . . Yes, I'm frightened, I'm frightened, everywhere I hear: fear and fear, and I hear fear, and this ghostly trauma of fear will ruin me, drive me mad, not just my illness, no no, not just my illness, but the illness and this trauma of fear . . . Listen . . . how the barking organizes itself, how it makes space for itself, listen, it's the cracking of the canine whips, it's canine hyperdexterity, canine hyperdespair, a hellish serfdom that is taking its revenge, taking its revenge on its grim devisers, on me, on you, yes, you too, on all limitless apparitions, on all limitless, terrible, basically cut-off apparitions, on human organs, which are the organs of heaven and hell, on the infernal organs of the heights and the celestial organs of the depths, on the jailbird unhappiness of all tragedians . . . Listen, these tragedians, listen to them: that stubborn deafmute breed of snakes' tongues, listen to them: the monstrously unappetizing republic of all-powerful idiocy, listen to them: this unsolicited shameless parliament of hypocrites . . . There are the dogs, there is their yap, there is death, death in all its wild profusion, death with all its frailty, death with its stink of quotidian crime, death, this last recourse of despair, the bacillus of monstrous unendingness, the death of history, the death of impoverishment, death, listen, the death that I don't want, that no one wants, that no one wants anymore, there it is, death, the yap, listen, the unlawful drowning of reason, the refusal to give evidence of all supposition, the spastic smack of soft brain on concrete, on the concrete floor of human dementia . . . Listen to my views on the yap, listen . . . I want to try and plumb the thinking of the infernal tempest, the confusion of eras, Cambrian, Silurian, Carboniferous, Permian, Triassic, and Jurassic, the monstrous Tertiary and Quaternary, the monstrously meaningless rejection of the great floods licking up from the depths . . . Listen to me, I am going into the yap, I go in and smash their fangs, I yell at it with the thunder of my unreasonableness, I scramble its processes, its mendacious propaganda . . . Listen, stop, listen, the sweating stupid slavering dogs' tongues, listen to the dogs, listen to them, listen to them . . ." We were standing on the spot from which you can see down into the Klamm. "Wolves," said the painter. "From here you can see straight down the throat of all wolf science." He was exhausted. I could hear the dogs. I could hear the barking and yapping. I was exhausted too. I was stunned by the painter's outburst, my body felt crushed as though by a rockfall; "and then I found him crushed on the road, below me, at my feet," the painter was saying. I immediately organized the painter's outburst. I'm astonished, I need only to push the button on my listening machine, and the outburst passes over me. But I'm exhausted. I'm utterly exhausted. "Listen," said the painter, "it's the yapping of the end of the world. Quite manifestly it's the end of the world in person, in this yapping. How sternly and implacably it's proceeding in people's faces, in people's faces, in the face of thoughts, in the face of reason, against all ridicule." He said: "I'm afraid. Come. Let's go. Let's go to the inn. I can't stand to hear any more of that yapping." Never had the dogs barked like this without interruption all day and all the previous night. "What else could this yapping portend," said the painter, "as we know everything and understand everything, if not the actual end of the world." He lengthened the words "end of the world" across his tongue like a priceless delicacy, and like a "sinful pleasure" he pulled the words "end of the world" across his tongue. Then we were silent. In the ravine, he said: "Infamy! Don't you see what it says up there, high up in what we flatteringly term of mother of heaven: it says: Infamy!"

Before he retired to his room, "not to sleep, but to howl to myself in the silence of horror," he said: "How everything has crumbled, how everything has dissolved, how all the reference points have shifted, how all fixity has moved, how nothing exists anymore, how nothing exists, you see, how all the religions and all the irreligions and the protracted absurdities of all forms of worship have turned into nothing, nothing at all, you see, how belief and unbelief no longer exist, how science, modern science, how the stumbling blocks, the millennial courts, have all been thrown out and ushered out and blown out into the air, how all of it is now just so much air . . . Listen, it's all air, all concepts are air, all points of reference are air, everything is just air . . ." And he said: "Frozen air, everything just so much frozen air . . ."