die aufzeichnungen des malte laurids brigge (ii)

‘Here I sit, and I am nothing (Ich sitze hier und bin nichts). And yet, this nothing begins to think, and five flights up (fünf Treppen hoch), on a grey Paris afternoon, thinks this:

Is it possible, it thinks, that we have neither seen nor perceived nor said anything real or of any importance (nichts Wirkliches und Wichtiges) yet? Is it possible that we have had thousands of years to look, ponder and record, and that we have let those thousands of years pass like a break at school, when one eats a sandwich and an apple?

Yes, it is possible (Ja, es ist möglich).

Is it possible that despite our inventions and progress, despite our culture, religion and knowledge of the world, we have remained on the surface of life (an der Oberfläche des Lebens)? Is it possible that even that surface, which might still have been something, has been covered with an unbelievably boring material, leaving it looking like drawing-room furniture in the summer holidays?

Yes, it is possible.

Is it possible that the entire history of the world (die ganze Weltgeschichte) has been misunderstood? Is it possible that we have the past all wrong, because we have always spoken of its masses, exactly as if we were describing a great throng of people, rather than speaking of the one man they were all gathered around — because he was a stranger and was dying (weil er fremd war und starb)?

Yes, it is possible.

Is it possible that we imagined we had to retrieve (nachholen zu müssen) what had happened before we were born? Is it possible that every single one of us had to be reminded (erinnern müßte) that he came from all those who had gone before, and that, knowing this, he would refuse to listen to others possessed of other knowledge (die anders wüßten)?

Yes, it is possible.

Is it possible that all these people have an exact knowledge of a past (eine Vergangenheit) that never happened? Is it possible that all realities (alle Wirklichkeiten) are nothing to them; that their life is winding down, connected to nothing at all (mit nichts verknüpft), like a clock in an empty room —?

Yes, it is possible.

Is it possible that one knows nothing of girls, who are nonetheless living? Is it possible that one says ›women‹, ›children‹, ›boys‹ without any suspicion (none whatsoever, despite all one's education) (und nicht ahn (bei aller Bildung nicht ahnt)) that these words have long since had no plural, but only countless singulars?

Yes, it is possible.

Is it possible that there are people who say ›God‹ (Gott) and suppose they mean something shared by all (Gemeinsames)? — (..) Ah, yes: is it possible to believe we could have a god without making use of him?

Yes, it is possible.

But if all of this is possible, if there is even so much as a glimmer of possibility to it, then something must be done, for pity's sake (um alles in der Welt). Anyone — anyone who has had these disquieting thoughts — must make a start on some of the things that we have omitted to do; anyone at all, no matter if (s)he is not the aptest to the taks: the fact is, there is no one else. This young foreigner of no consequence, Brigge, will have to sit himself down, five flights up, and write, day and night: yes, that s what it will come to — he will have to write (ja, er wird schreiben müssen, das wird das Ende sein).’

Rainer Maria Rilke, Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge.

die aufzeichnungen des malte laurids brigge

Ich lerne sehen. Ich weiß nicht, woran es liegt, es geht alles tiefer in mich ein und bleibt nicht an der Stelle stehen, wo es sonst immer zu Ende war. Ich habe eine Inneres, von dem ich nicht wußte. Alles geht jetzt dorthin. Ich weiß nicht, was dort geschieht.

‘I am learning to see. Why, I cannot say, but all things enter more deeply into me; nor do the impressions remain at the level where they used to cease. There is a place within me of which I knew nothing. Now all things tend that way. I do not know what happens there.’ (vert. Michael Huse)

‘Ik leer zien. Ik weet niet, waar het aan ligt, alles dringt dieper in mij door en houdt niet op bij de plaats, waar het anders altijd een einde vond. Ik heb een innerlijk, waar ik niets van wist. Alles gaat daar nu heen. Ik weet niet wat daar gebeurt.’ (vert. Pim Lukkenaer)

Rainer Maria Rilke: Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge / The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge / De aantekeningen van Malte Laurids Brigge.

part of their memory

‘The woods are full of wild anemones now, shall we go? (..) I said wild anemones, flowers, hundreds and thousands of wild flowers all over the ground under the trees all the way up to the gazebo. They have no smell but they have a presence just like a perfume and quite as obsessive, I shall remember them all my life.
     Are you going somewhere Darling?
     Yes, going to the woods.
     Then why do you say you will remember them all your life?
     Because you are part of their memory and you are going to disappear, the anemones are going to blossom eternally, we are not.’


‘You may not believe in magic but something very strange is happening at this very moment. Your head has dissolved into thin air and I can see the rhododendrons through your stomach. It's not that you are dead or anything dramatic like that, it is simply that you are fading away and I can't even remember your name. I remember your white flannels better than I can remember you. I remember all the things I felt about the white flannels but whoever made them walk about has totally disappeared.’

Leonora Carringtons protagonist in The Hearing Trumpet weet dat ze niet is waar ze voelt dat ze is maar dat is geen probleem. Ze bedenkt het terwijl het gebeurt & uiteindelijk, weet ze, zal dit alles verdwijnen. Dat neemt echter niet weg dat ze de anemonen haar leven lang niet zal vergeten, de bloemen die keer op keer zullen bloeien, altijd terug zullen keren terwijl zij zelf zal verdwijnen, ooit, voorgoed; zoals wij allen ooit zullen verdwijnen. Maar, die mooiste gedachte: you are part of their memory.

that kind of feminist/ sara ahmed

‘I have always resisted the idea that feminist killjoys mature, grow by growing up, and that maturity is about becoming less volatile. Maturity is without question the wrong term for my attempt to think through timing. The idea that maturing out of being a feminist killjoy assumes or hopes that feminism itself, or at least being that kind of feminist, the wrong kind, the one who always insists on making feminist points, the one who is angry, confrontational, is just a phase you are going through.

If being a feminist killjoy is a phase, I willingly aspire to be a phase.

The idea that you mature out of being a feminist killjoy, that in growing up you unbecome her, also implies a linear development and progression: as if being unaffected or less bothered is the point you should reach; what you should aim to reach. It associates maturity with giving up, not necessarily conviction as such, but the willingness to speak from that conviction.’ p173

Sara Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life.



ada limón adrienne rich alejandro zambra aleksandar hemon ali smith alice notley alice oswald andré aciman andrea dworkin andrea wulf anna burns anne boyer anne brontë anne carson anne truitt anne vegter annie dillard antjie krog audre lorde ben lerner bhanu kapil carry van bruggen catherine lacey cees nooteboom charlotte brontë charlotte salomon chimamanda ngozi adichie chris kraus christa wolf claire messud claire vaye watkins clarice lispector deborah levy durga chew-bose elif batuman elizabeth strout emily brontë erwin mortier ester naomi perquin etty hillesum f. scott fitzgerald feminisme fernando pessoa han kang helen macdonald henri bergson hermione lee herta müller jan zwicky janet malcolm jean rhys jeanette winterson jenny offill jessa crispin joan didion joke j. hermsen josefine klougart kate zambreno katherine mansfield kathleen jamie katja petrowskaja krista tippett layli long soldier leonora carrington leslie jamison louise glück maggie nelson marcel proust maría gainza marie darrieussecq marie howe marja pruis mary oliver mary ruefle olivia laing patricia de martelaere paul celan paula modersohn-becker piet oudolf poëzie rachel cusk rainer maria rilke rebecca solnit robert macfarlane robert walser robin wall kimmerer sara ahmed sara maitland siri hustvedt stefan zweig sue lloyd-roberts susan sontag svetlana alexijevitsj sylvia plath ta-nehisi coates teju cole terry tempest williams tjitske jansen tomas tranströmer valeria luiselli virginia woolf vita sackville-west w.g. sebald yiyun li zadie smith