“A SNATCH OF HALF-VANISHED MELODY”. AN EXPLORATION OF “A PLACE IN THE COUNTRY”.PART 4. ESSAY 3:”WHY I GRIEVE I DO NOT KNOW: A MEMENTO OF MORIKE”. BY STEVEN BENSON

“Memento”-Sebald, as ever,concerned with exhuming the reputation and writings of these authors, those very lives and writings which often mirror his own(in style and content). A memento, a rememberance; that is, a reparation; that is, a TRACE from the past into the present and future.

Sebald is here writing about the Beidermeier era(about 1800 to 1850) where “visions of the future” “were becoming refracted into that Ur-German blend of revolutionary patriotism and bourgeois introspection,romantic imagination and double-entry book-keeping{Sebald at his drolest}, political zeal and poetical effusiveness, in which the progressive elements can scarcely any longer be distinguished from the reactionary”(p.71).

Sebald makes the link between  Morike drinking and smoking in Tubingen with the political zeitgeist of the Biedermeier era, pointing out that Morike “is a true representative of  generation which, still just touched by the breath of a heroic[revolutionary] age, is preparing to enter upon the becalmed waters of the Biedermeier age, in which bourgeois domesticity takes precedence over public life, and the garden fence becomes the boundary of a life en famille which conceieves itself as a universe in its own right”(p.73).

I find the Morike essay contains the very core of the insights into Sebald’s soul. There are just too many inter-dependencies with the Sebaldian narrators and protagonists in the prose-fiction and in “After Nature”.

The second paragraph begins with psycho-social-geography, admixed with the pathetic fallacy,whereby “The calm of the domestic interior and the projection {sic} of an image of peacable domesticity onto the surrounding landscape is one of the recurring motifs of Beidermeier painting”(p.73); and then Sebald analyses(an excellent visual art commentator, as in the essay on Tripp)Schoppe’s enfolded(literally) painting between pp.76/77, one of a series of colour reproductions of paintings in this exquisitely and poignantly produced volume.

We see, again,Sebald’s OWN need to, if you like, “regress”{my quotation marks} to the lacanian “Imaginary” of childhood; but IS it a regression, when it actually presents the world as how it SHOULD be?; we should always keep a great deal of or childhood “Imaginary” of Utopia!(in its looser sense of a perfect world, not in the sense of “nowhere”!)

Morike’s narrator, in “The Cobbler-Goblin of Stuttgart”, sees the Swabian Alps “as the wondrous glass-blue wall{glass again!} beyond which ‘as he was told as a child, lie the cockle-shell gardens of the Queen of Sheba'”(P.74). Then, more significantly still:”If we gaze into the safely bounded orbis pictus for long enough, we can easily imagine that here someone has stopped the clock and said; this is how it should be for ever after”(Sebald himself, not Morike!). Our essayist’s childlike simplicity and need for wish-fulfilment are heartbreaking here. Sebald yearns so much for a better world; it ACHES out of the (poetic) prose. So, queer Atemporal time(beyond/parallel to Time){though possibly with , a contrapuntally complex, eerie, added reference to the stopped Auschwitz clock; Sebald only mentions such , literally,to him, unspeakable horrors by hints.} This time beyond time is an image he develops in the metaphor of  the “world of the Beidermeier imagination”, being “like a perfect world in miniature{sic}, a still life preserved under a glass{again again!}dome.. If we turn it upside down, it begins to snow a little. Then all at once it becomes spring and summer again”(p.74). Again, the childlike directness and simplicity.

There is also Sebald’s repeated concern- like Walser’s(subject of a later essay) and Benjamin’s- for miniaturisation; where the depersonalization and malaise experienced by someone(be it Morike or Sebald himself here),who is unable to cope with a world of capitalist accumulation and a hegemonic zeitgeist,finds an outlet/escape of obsessive downscaling of (socially constructed) reality in order that it be manageable somehow{What is Lacan’s “real” : the realpolitik of the fake world we know as “society” or the yet-to-be-actualized trace/thread of past communitarian societies which still may be grasped and woven into the future?}.

Helen Finch, in “Sebald’s Bachelors: Queer Resistance and the Unconforming Life”(2013){which I shall fully review at a later date}, builds her thesis on the queer moments,( which include the second reading of Lacan’s “Real” stage in psychic development)in Sebald: examples would be of time stopping still(in this essay on Morike), parallel worlds(the snow-shaker tiny world, again this current essay), miniaturization generally; anything in fact which shows a glimpse of an alternative to the rooted, oppressive hegemonic socio-politico-cultural-religious world order we find ourselves caught up(if we are not very vigilant) She starts her book with a section on Naegeli and Henry Selwyn (first section of “The Emmigrants”); see also this post of mine:https://towardsutopia.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/wg-sebaldcritics-responsenon-response-to-the-large-amount-of-homosocialityclose-male-friendshipsand-of-homosexualbisexual-characters-in-his-work-with-particular-reference-to-the-character-of-h/

Thus, where in “A Place in the Country”,we have Sebald’s “still life preserved under a glass dome”, Finch says, in reference to Naegeli’s body being found buried in a glacier, (and somehow “reliving” as a revenant to the narrator):”Let us free Naegeli from the glacier where he has been buried, and allow his remains to speak”(p.3, Finch, ibid). She then links the moment of being found frozen in the glacier with the “poetics of suspension”, “levitation” and “transcendence”, matters, as I have also pointed out, that occur in Sebald’s recounting of the soul’s being ensconced safely in a glass, transparentlyhttps://towardsutopia.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/a-snatch-of-half-vanished-melody-part-3-the-section-i-didnt-lose-essay-2rousseaujaurais-voulu-que-ce-le-lac-eut-ete-loceani-would-have-liked-the-lake-to-have-been-the-oceanon-t/(about half way through my essay on Sebald’s essay on Rousseau);

and which is matched by Sebald’s language of “parlous loftiness”, which, like the soul, struggles to take flight but which is perilously close to be being petrifiedhttps://towardsutopia.wordpress.com/2013/06/23/sebald-and-parlous-loftinessqueer-or-campby-steven-benson/{How queer it is that, writing sans knowledge of each other, many commentators on Sebald come up with similar, if differently phrased, interpretations; another example of how he speaks to everyone, but also bringing into mind again that uncanniness of the shared subconcious}.

Finch then refers to Sebald’s suspension poetics(which I take to mean both the poetic tradition of willing suspension of disbelief- letting the imagination roam free within the interstices of linear narrative-but also a suspension in a mid-air liminal space, possibly analogous with Halberstam’s queer time and space):”..links Sebald to a rich line of queer theories that celebrates precisely the refusal of linear{sic}, deterministic narratives in favour of a suspended, transgressive or even retrogressive poetics”(ibid, p.3); and:”Naegeli’s atemporal suspension in ice and subsequent return disrupt the forward-moving arc of tragedy”(ibid, p.3){cf. comments in my essay on Sebald on Hebel on glass/transparency, vitrification: the third paragraph from the end and backwards herehttps://towardsutopia.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/a-snatch-of-half-vanished-melody-part-3-the-section-i-didnt-lose-essay-2rousseaujaurais-voulu-que-ce-le-lac-eut-ete-loceani-would-have-liked-the-lake-to-have-been-the-oceanon-t/}Again, I wrote this BEFORE I had started Helen’s book; yet, eerily, analagous thoughts!

I am wandering away from the essay on Morike here, but I see in Helen Finch’s book, evidence and examples of the queer poetics both she and I(and a very few others) have been concerned with; to return to Morike, the queer poetics(of suspension)are, as I have said, the parallel world(of the snow in the little glass shaker, where time STOPS STILL, ie is atemporal); and the compulsive otherwordly miniaturisation. I am using the word queer in its wider sense of a disruption of/into time, a breaking down of socially determined boundaries(here between dream and reality), all parts of the mighty (almost anti-definitional)definition of queer Finch employs(I would have appreciated that she defines the different senses in which she employs the word queer, because this is sometimes not obvious from the context; nor are different theorists’ useages concomitant at times; but this is a minor gripe!). I would say there is a combination(in narratives like Adelwarth and Cosmo, Henry Selwyn and Naegeli and “Dr K”)of lgbt gay/bisexual male oppression (subject matter) and queer(poetic devices or tropes), though I do not see the two as incommensurate; indeed, they are inextricably interlinked because the “queer line of flight”{ie resistance} of which Helen writes,is in answer TO the abjection and marginalisation brought about by hegemonic, mainly German, society , from the Beidermeier period onwards. This pleases me because, although Helen seems to favour the Queer theory, rather than gay(male) studies, angle, I do not see the need for one to cancel out the otherhttps://towardsutopia.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/reasons-for-the-lgbt-studiesqueer-theory-divide-by-steven-benson/. As for (some sort of?)redemption via (queer) atemporality, the jury, to me ,is out. But, perhaps trying to convince myself-I am not sure-just the top section of p.74 of “A Place in the Country” is full of such queer poetic images or sybols:the timeless clock; the Utopia(in miniature);the “still{preserved in ice } life”. They are all here , in the broader queer sense(as we are not talking re homosexuality or even homosociality at this juncture).

Where I may, to some extent anyway, differ from Helen is that(though I still yet may come to agree fully the more I read of her brave, wonderful book!), is that I think the anti-hegemonic or atemporal time moments(such as here in the Morike essay) LEAK out, half despite themselves(though they are they are also sometimes WHOLLY OVERT,like in the later Keller essay -which I shall come to-with its overt passages on androgny and its camp, knowing sexual references to male anantomy!). In other words, they are not fully asserted with conviction, Sebald being a man of nunace and sometimes doubts: for instance,in the essay on Hebel, he comments on Hebel’s conjecture and then goes on to talk about “pulverisation” as the antithesis to eternal petrification/vitrification, that is stating that there may just be nothingness/dust after death. He is expressing more a HOPE for redemption/reparation of his marginalised homosexual/bachelor figures after death, than a certainty. Similarly- and back to Morike!-after the tantalizingly beautiful promise of the Utopian(in its sense of a perfect world, not in its sense of “nowhere”, though application of that {original} meaning coIld be argued in this context) stopping of the clocks, and out side time(atemporal/queer) moments, we have this : “The Swabian quietism Morike subscribed to is-like  all the Biedermeier arts-a kind of instinctive defence mechanism in the face of the calamity to come”(“A Place in the Country”, p.74); the “terrors which herald the new age of industrialization{which are} already silhouetted on the horizon”; “the accumulation of capital and the moves towards the centralization of a new cast-iron authority”(p.74). We already know where Sebald is going with this increasing historical line of embourgeiosement, petty-minded anti -communitarianism:National Socialism.

And then moves to an eerie, presageful passage(does this essay pre-date “Rings of Saturn”?), reminiscent or pre-figuring of the often disorientated, malaise-ridden sebaldian narrator figures,with their somatised psychological ills,and many of the protagonists (Austerlitz, Ferber and others):as he describes Morike’s “Hypochondria,the mood swings he was constantly prone to, his feelings of faintheartedness, and the weariness of which he so often speaks, unspecified depressions, symptoms of paralysis {“Rings of Saturn”, the narrator}, sudden weakness, vertigo{sic!}… the terrors of uncertainty which he continually experiences-all theses are symtoms not only of his melancholic disposition but also the spiritual effects of a society increasingly determined by a work ethic and the spirit of competition”(p.75).

Pace Helen Finch’s eloquent argument, and glorious attempts to FREE the queer elements and “moments of resistance” in Sebald(eg in her introduction on the redemptive, queer power of “Naegeli’s{frozen} Bones”) and my awareness of, and agreement with there being the constant presence of, the heterosexist(mainly) academic Sebald establishment’s hegemony of”downward-tugging melancholy”(HF, op cit, p.2), which ignores these queer moments of redemption and resistance to hegemony, wilfully: despite this,all Sebald’s cast of characters and narrators do NOT escape from abjection, invisibilization, marginalisation and sometimes literal genocide. Thus, “Dr. K”(“Vertigo, “Dr.K takes the waters at Riva”)does not, other than very briefly, follow , and certainly doesnt fulfil, his homo/bi sexual desires because of his fear of the “jackboot of history”; Selwyn loses his greatest love, Naegeli; Austerlitz cannot fulfil his love for Marie because of his own traumatised condition. I think it comes down to whether you believe in the (Derridean) idea of the “trace” of history, which is there even in the most horrific, oppressive, abject times, and which is carried both forward and backward(from the present and future) WITH that person/moment in a sort of vertical(as opposed to linear, horizontal time); which, of course, depends on your spiritual/metaphysical views. I think this concept differs from reparative reading of texts by Sebald and many others, where there are oppressed, abject characters, who can be, to a degree only, be repaired/redeemed into the present/future, nay even after death; but whom, unless you believe in SOME sort of afterlife or spirit, are, in fact, dead. I am aware too of my OWN wishful thinking here: I ACHE   for Sebald’s narrators and characters to have more fulfilled lives; but I am not at all sure that they do, except, sometimes , after death(if that is what you believe). That is not to deny/negate the moments of queer epiphany of which Helen writes; bring them on: I shall re-read some Sebald in the light of her analyses, looking out, positively, for these queer moments. And I am also battling with a small amount of abjection myself as a gay man; it never TOTALLY goes(though it MAINLY has, thank goodness) but  there is , if you want to coin a phrase, a “trace” of it from my youth, a thread conjoining it to my present; hence why I don’t really like the word “queer” because of its HEAVILY pejorative baggage  for most lgbt people of my generation(though I LOVE most of the Queer Theory; can we not therefore think of a better, less baggage-ridden nomenclature!?). So,when writing we are all coming from our own frame of reference(including, at the deepest level, language itself); and when reading too. But I am willing to try to continue to distinguish between my OWN issues and what Sebald is actually trying to say in his anti-gay (male) oppression texts, including any queer elements of joy and resistance that may be there. We cannot fully and accurately read/experience a text in all its multiplicity of dimensions, UNLESS we are as aware(as fully/realistically as possible)of our own issues/identity(and its complex make up)as possible; we are having a dialogical relationship with the text AND ourselves(or self-dialogical multiple selves!). Anyway, my relationship with Sebald’s writings, other writers ABOUT Sebald, and, of course, with MYSELF, and a hegemonic, heterosexist, sometimes homophobic, society are a work in progress!

Well, my conclusions are obvious:we are primarily within the melancholic- psychosomatised -illness -world of Sebald’s narrators and characters: Ferber,Austerlitz’ narrator, the narrator of “Rings of Saturn”; in fact, most of the protagonists and sebaldian narrators , between whom and Sebald himself there is but a thin gauze.

Despite Helen Finch’s suggestions and valorous attempt(and she MAY well yet convince me that this attempt is, ultimately,vidicated!): her attempt to free the “queer element” from Sebald’s own,( but, even more powerfully, the heterosexist, sometimes downright homophobic academic establishement),”downward -tugging melancholy”(Finch, op cit, p.2), I argue that Sebald’s cast of narrators and characters and all the intra-textuality therin, do NOT escape. For example, Dr. K does not, ultimately, follow his same -sex desires because of fear of the “jackboot of history”, Selwyn LOSES his greatest love, (and even the heterosexual Austerlitz cannot fulfill his love for Marie because of his own traumatised condition). This is not to say we do not have the queer, transparent, transcendent moments; we DO; but they are ONLY moments, glimpses; and Helen Finch is enabling me to see they are more frequent than I first thought; but Sebald, most often, I would argue(at this juncture anyway)leaves us with with the antithesis/anti-thesis of this( for example, as he does at the end of the current Morike essay):fear of loss of writing ability which is, by extension, a fear of loss of idendity or actual invisibilisation or even physical extinction:”…he{Morike} often fears amidst all this that he has lost sight of the true thread{sic} of his writing, and, quite possibly,he will soon be sitting up in bed, like his father after the stroke, with his pen in his trembling hand, searching for the right expression, and completely incapable of finding it”(p.76. “A Place in the Country”).

It is a grim, melancholic’s vision, with MOMENTS of light, hope and transparency(but merely moments and they are squashed, usually). This  does not mean Sebald is not honouring and upholding them as the Derridean “trace” of the past into the present and future(a hope for a better world/society), but this is usually a tentative hope, at best.

In the paragraph, starting on p.76,Sebald goes on a digressive trajectory from him commenting on the disintegration of the smaller German republics (in the Biedermeier era) to a sinister theme, which lies behind(and sometimes comes to the forefront of) his meditations on other writers and their affinities with himself(and himself as a writer):he refers to the “colonialist aspirations to a German Africa and a German Tahiti”(p.76); and, even more presageful,:”…it became necessary to think on a grand scale, and work en miniature was abandoned in favour of monumentalism enacted ever more recklessly from decade to decade”(p.77). So, throughout these essays, there is the deep counterpoint(of a doom-laden counter-melody),which progresses from the revolutionary fervour/ideals of the Napoleonic Era(Napoleon 1 ), via the Biedermeier period(where bourgeois respectability led to imperialist ambitions) to, eventually, via the shakiness of the Weimar Republic-rudderless under the hapless Hindenburg-the rise of the sheer evil of the National Socialists and Hitler. It is a trajectory Sebald views as jettisonning the true ideals of the “volk”(people) and true German Romanticism, in favour of a corrupt, distorted evil, false,nationalism. Intertextually, knowing, as we do, the fate of Austerlitz and the depiction of Theresienstadt, the pre-death camp, as in the book “Austerlitz”,this historical progression that Sebald sees is especially deeply disturbing.

Sebald sees Morike as being at his best( “on occasion”) in “the hidden shifts”; but Sebald is doing a poor show in selling Morike’s merits, when he, humorously(in his inimitable fashion!) quotes someone else summarising the plot of Morike’s novel “Nolten the Painter” and commenting, himself:”the inflamed passion of the elective affinities Morike may have had in mind has inadvertently evolved into something precariously{sic} close to a better class of sensationalist romance”(p.79), talking of a passage of purple prose.The syntax and the phrase “elective afinities” here, intra and inter textually, themselves become “perilously close” to falling off the tightrope of parlous loftiness into (knowing) camp!!!!!!!!But it is an example of queer, deadpan Sebaldian humour:). he also actually QUOTES the said passage of the novel itself!

Sebald, is, really, at this point, interested in peregrinating off on another rhizomatic journey:Schubert.I DO wish he had written more on classical music(there is “Moments Musicaux”, an essay collected in “Campo Santo”)but that is about it; because he turns masterful music critic here, with especially beautifully wrought writing as- more talking of Schubert than  Morike-he writes of :”…the hidden shifts of his{Schubert’s} chamber music, for example the opening of the second movement of his last piano sonata…in those true moments musicaux[again!!] where the iridescent chromatics begin to shimmer into dissonance, and an unexpected, even false change of key suddenly signals the abandoning of all hope{citing Dante}, or, alternatively, grief gives way to consolation”(pp.79/80), as Sebald’s exquisite sentence mirrors the content he writes about, and sinks into the “major” key of solace, paratactically, in its delayed resolution, enacting the harmonic progressions of the music.

{On a digression of my own, queerly,I shall one day post on writers who write well and poetically about music(not -so much-analytically/musicologically); because they are rare, and there is a towards-an-aporia of someone putting into linguistic signifiers and signifieds something which is, ultimately,-and especially if purely instrumental music-transcendent of linguistic structures(music with words is more referential). Hence. the other aporia of the “music” of poetry; I suppose it is a metaphor but also a signifier for the signified of the beautiful sound of words, but all words have some sort of meaning, so the phenomenological referent to each individual is already at least semi-determined; whereas in (non-programmatic, instrumental )music we are free to roam and put our OWN individual interpretation on it. That words sometimes attempt to re-envision- because they can never actually RE-CREATE -music, when people write poetically about it is: firstly, it is brave; secondly, it can be foolhardy, but, just sometimes, its linguistic evocation can run parallel to the music itself, as here in Sebald on Schubert}

Sebald then continues his political point that it is the FOLK musicians(Moravian village musicians, for example),”whom one sees Schubert accompanying on their travels from village to village”(p.80). Sebald thus deftly links commentary on music with the political point that the “volk”(folk) are the true Germany, both Morike and Schubert being engaged in trying to evoke the “Volkston”(folk melody) which “…in fact, has never existed as such”. So Sebald is referring again to the rise of German “nationalism”, wherein the communitarian, rural  life-style of the people is corrupted by industrualisation , capital accumulation, and the rise of the self-seeking, ego-maniacal, colonialist, successive German (regional at first)governments, which began to arise in the nineteenth century; and we know where this led, he implies.In opposition to this, Schubert and Morike were both “attempting a form of composition, which seeks to re-create, in a snatch of half-vanished melody{one of those  never-forgotten achingly beautiful Sebald phrases, redolent of Sullivan’s “lost chord”} that authentic Volkston, which in fact has never existed as such”(p.81).

The last few pages of this essay seem, to me, full of a sublimated yearning on Sebald’s part; sublimated because he is, ostensibly, writing about Morike and others:

1. Morikes’s “…unluckiness in love(p.82) which has led to those “who, like Morike, Schubert, Keller and Walser have bequeathed to us some of the most beautiful lines ever written”(p.82)

2.Sebald then envies  “the fairytale happiness”(p.84) and love for each other of a couple in Morike’s ‘Story of the Beautiful Lau’.This is another queer moment(in that word’s broadest sense of challenging hegemonic “norms”) because Sebald, astonishingly, ends with the comment that these two peoples’ happiness “harks back to a time when men and women were not bound to each other two by two; but merely appeared from time to time on the other’s horizon”(p.84). So, Sebald is talking about either non-monogamous relationships or what we might call sex/love buddies!(Later, in the sequence in this collection, in the essay on Keller, we get two more paeans to queerdom: gender androgyny and a camp homosexual sexuality/sensibility).

[Reading these essays,I often feel we  have a summary of many of the concerns of continental philosophy/critical thought from the Frankfurt school onwards:1. The Benjaminesque “interregnum”, where we pause to consider the failings and criminality of previous, or current, ideologies/hegemonies. 2. the deconstruction of the text; from a linear(character-based) narrative to a contrapuntal, digressive, discursive “structure”(or anti-structure), one with periphrastic sentences so that blanket statements and binaries are often avoided, as the sentence itself reflects and turns back upon itself.3. Most heartwarmgingly of all,we enter the arena of gender studies{Sebald explores issues of homosexual/bisexual male abjection in many other narratives, as I have shown}, areas that would now have the nomenclature of, variously, gender studies, queer theory, genderqueer, and, most significantly and massively, because of its frequency and utter fervour, gay(male) reparative studies. This loose and partial trajectory all conveyed in a way that brings it out of any occlusion best: in a poetic, quirky, humane and real way]

I am nearly in tears again….: the last paragraph of the Morike essay is peculiarly poignant, whether we relate it to Morike, Sebald himself(as I say, least occluded in this book of essays than anywhere else)or both; or yet to ourselves, contrapuntally,as Sebald would probably have wanted us to;or to all three.Sebald recounts Morike’s tale where a couple are re-united whilst, literally, walking on a tightrope:(“‘it was as they had been tightrope-walking all their loves”{Sebald quoting Morike, p.84}). Commenting on his OWN multi-threaded writing manner, Sebald again cites Morike as referencing all the lovers’ actions as seeming to be “{again quoting Morike}’like a lovely web which they wove in time to the music'”. Sebald then summarises this moment musicaux: “In the fantasy of erotic wish-fulfilment in the dance of two beings high above the earthly sphere, above the abyss in which society cowers, a man{Morike: Sebald?}who had long since given up on the idea of reciprocal love rather late in life imagines one last time how different things might have been if{cf Selwyn and Naegeli}, at the time, he had run off with, by all accounts, the unusually beautiful and mysterious vagabond,Marie Meyer, and pursued a different kind of mountebank career than that of writing….”(p.85-I save the end of the sentence for a minute!). Well, this DIRECT, heartfelt, passionate writing full of regret and hiraeth: thats all I want to say… except that the end of the long sentence”…{re writing} that rather vicarious {sic] vice whose clutches those who have embarked upon rarely succeed in escaping”, which returns to themes explored in his introduction to this volume,and,later, in the Walser essay(which I shall write about later). If this does NOT relate to Sebald HIMSELF, why , oh why, does he keep writing about the destructiveness of writing and the sublimation it engenders?.

Sebald ends this beautiful essay with a verbal and literal(if it really IS Morike; we never entirely/really know with Sebald’s multiform performative writing{queer!})picture of Morike as writing compulsively, DESPITE himself, but also of his tearing this very writing up into little pieces; in the photocopied image (p.86), Morike is shown, in his latter days,sitting stiffly, slightly apart from his ({hetero}normative) family, holding…. a book.

“Why I grieve I do not Know”

……………………………………………….

{Perhaps , at some level, Sebald and Morike DID know why they grieved. Zizek is interesting and pertinent on this (“Living in the End Times”,2010, pp.291ff), and it ties in with Santner’s external/INternal catastrophisation thesis, which I have written about: there is some trauamatic series of events which are not all conducive to being able to be integrated into the sense of the (current)self{cf Austerlitz}, and which psychotherapy may not even help; this will lead, according to Zizek( who builds much on Malabou) to conclude that these repeatedly traumatized people live outside what we would understand as emotional/psychological life, in a state of , variously, indifference, alienation, somatisation, disassociation, even psychological death;Sebald was obviously, forever, deeply traumatized by the actions of his father, and as they emblemised his homeland in the national Socialist period(in particular). I would like to argue strongly that by, unremittingly(apart from the  occasional doleful but camp joke)writing re his “malaise”-ridden subjects(narrators and “protagonists”), Sebald may well have been acting out the inner disassociation he wrote about to Hamburger at the end of his life. The truama HAD to be sublimated into writing; whether that had any effect of catharsis I am unclear; or whether he saw it ,solely,as a disease, as he refers to it, in the context of Morike and Walser, I am unclear(and am no doubt influenced by my current understanding of Zizek and Lacan on these issues). All this is an interesting but troubling antithesis to the “queer flight of resistance” world Helen Finch so admirably and skilfully portrays in her book(op.cit); and  I am not too sure these worlds can run parallel; at most Sebald may offer us moments of hope, but very much in some, viewed-as-idyllic, Derridean/Munozian “trace” future. And that does not stop us gathering those  traces; but, at the moment, anyway, they (still) seem to me like grasping at the ever-eluding.}

………………………………………………………..

Next, Sebald on Keller

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About decayetude

ENTHUSIASMS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, ESPECIALLY OBSCURE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS; BACH/HANDEL LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL, WELL-WRITTEN(STYLISTICALLY)NOVELS W G SEBALD WALTER BENJAMIN THEODOR ADORNO(JUST BEGINNING!) AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY GAY MEN'S WRITING;QUEER THEORY STIMULATING DISCUSSIONS(EMOTIONALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY) GOOD RICH THICK ESPRESSO MICHAEL PONTI SPRITUALITY/LIFE'S "AURA"(BENJAMIN), WHATEVER TRANSCENDENTAL THING YOU WANT TO CALL THIS MEMORY-the elusiveness thereof. LOST TIME AND AN ATTEMPT AT ITS REDEMPTION(NON THEISTICALLY/RELIGIOUSLY)
This entry was posted in Birth of reader, camp, gay, gay literature, life mirrors art, psychogeography, queer, queer geography, queer theory, Re-envisionning, reader response theory, Sebald, SPECTRAL PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY, tropes, Utopia, working outside hegemonies. Bookmark the permalink.

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