Die Wahrheit ist dem Menschen zumutbar
Can we really bear the truth, as Ingeborg Bachmann insisted in 1959? Her context was that of writers who encourage others to be truthful through their presentation, and are encouraged themselves by praise and criticism.
How do we present truth today, 60 years later, when its value has again become doubtful?
What if reality itself has become so doubtful that we don’t trust our own senses anymore? Can any presentation be clearer than what we can see with our own eyes? Or is it admissible to blur what we want to show to point to another truth, namely our inability to see clearly?
Ingeborg Bachmann was right. We can bear the truth. But most of us don’t want to.
We don’t merely want the truth, we want the unraveling.
What we maybe need today are not just truths, but enigmas.
The Eastern Massasauga is Michigan’s only poisonous snake. This was my first encounter with a rattlesnake, I didn’t expect to find her at a beach in Michigan.
The camouflage in the dried sea grass is near perfect, but the human predator trying to get a better picture annoyed her, so she moved.
Why do us men think of snakes as female, and reserve the male attribute to her larger brother, the dragon (whom I still have to find)?
They are beautiful, elegant, hit you when you expect it least, and sneak away when you don’t look.
Sometimes, they also just sit there thoughtfully and lick their tongue.
A river with its strict sense of flow is a universally used symbol for the passage of time. Resistance against that is, in contrast, best contemplated by looking at the relentless forth and back of waves along a coast line.
Time is reduced here to repetition, it seems.
The weeds and twigs shown are gone. Their only action then was to write on the water, invisibly, and immediately forgotten.
But there is more. They are defending a territory beyond the water.
They are also witnesses for an esthetic of complexity beyond the untextured and timeless water.
And finally, they did leave their traces, elsewhere, in memory.
For many years we went camping to Nordhouse Dunes at Lake Michigan, and an episode of nostalgia made us revisit this place one last time before my daughter is off to college & life.
In László Krasznahorkai deliberately cryptic book War & War, the hero György Korin is depersonalized: He just symbolizes a single function of our lives, namely delivering the past into the future, becoming the horizon between the below and the above.
This happens concretely by carrying an old manuscript to New York, a place that the four inhabitants of that manuscript haven’t seen yet. These inhabitants are cryptic, too, bemoaning the loss of the noble, the great, and the transcendent, this causing also the loss of peace, so that the world now consist of only war & war.
Korin realizes however that delivering the manuscript is not enough, he feels the calling to complete it, to find an exit for its inhabitants. There are several attempts for this, one being by writing on water.
This year, the dune grass that so gracefully used to create sand drawings, is now doing this in the water, thanks to water levels two feet above normal. The water itself leaves very temporary traces on the disappearing beach.
Is it maybe the author’s dream that his protagonists keep writing the story?