Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Bernhard

The Paper cuts blog from NY Times talks about a Panel discussion on the Austrian author Thomas Bernhard. I have read only one book from Bernhard and was immediately struck by the geriatric leanings that Dale Peck mentions in the discussion. I loved the passage quoted by him from Concrete:
Even early in my life there were times when I had no one - I at least knew that I had no one, though others were always asserting that I did have someone. They said, You do have someone, whereas I knew for certain that I not only had no one, but - what was perhaps the crucial and most annihilating thought - needed no one. I imagined I needed no one, and this is what I still imagine to this day. I needed no one, and so I had no one. But naturally we do need someone, otherwise we inevitably become what I have become: tiresome, unbearable, sick - impossible, in the profoundest sense of the word. I always believed that I could get on with my intellectual work if only I were completely alone, with no one else around. This proved to be mistaken, but it is equally mistaken to say that we actually need someone. We need someone for our work, and we also need no one. Sometimes we need someone, sometimes no one, and sometimes we need someone and no one. In the last few days I have once more become aware of this totally absurd fact: we never know at any time whether we need someone or no one, or whether we need someone and at the same time no one, and because we never ever know what we really need we are unhappy, and hence unable to start on our intellectual work when we wish and when it seems right.

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