Uit: Theft By Finding
„December 28, 1984
Amy, Tiffany, and I sat in the kitchen and talked until three thirty this morning. One of the things we laughed about was an old episode of The Newlywed Game. The host asked the wives, “What’s the most exotic place you’ve ever made love?” He was likely expecting “the kitchen” or “on a tennis court at night,” but one woman didn’t quite understand the question and answered, “In the butt.”
David Sedaris: ‘There are things nobody wants to hear. But the disturbing things are great’
June 19, 1987
I ran into Walt on the L this morning. He owes me $450 and said he was just going to call me the other day because Gail, his wife, is always saying, “We need to pay that David Sedaris.”
I actually don’t hold anything against him. I miss Walt and Gail. Walt said that last week she got a profit-sharing check for $10,000. That was why he planned to call — to pay me. He said he took the check to the bank but lost it along the way. It was physically big, he told me. “I folded it in my top pocket, and wouldn’t you know!”
He called the bank to cancel it, then he called New York for a replacement check, but the woman whose job it would be to write it was on vacation. “Wouldn’t you know it!”
At around five, I took the L home. A woman near me had a three-year-old child on her lap, a girl, who looked at me and said, “Mommy, I hate that man.”
Hours later, walking up Leland, I heard someone running up behind me. It was a guy who lives in the halfway house next door. He is black and wore a long-sleeved shirt buttoned all the way to the neck. The man called me sir and asked how I was doing.
“All right,” I said.
He told me that he had a taste for a steak sandwich and asked me if I’d buy him one. You can’t pull money out of your pocket on Leland Avenue. It’s like ringing a bell, so I said no and he ran across the street to ask a woman the same question.
Later still I saw two men sitting in a car in front of the halfway house. They had the door open and were listening to the radio. As I passed, one of them asked me for a cigarette.
“I don’t smoke,” I told them. Then I thought of the guy who wanted a steak sandwich and of the little girl who hated me and thought, What the hell. I handed the guy in the car one of my cigarettes, and he scowled at me and said, “Fucking liar.”
David Sedaris (Binghamton, 26 december 1956)
Uit:The Shadow Land
“Sofia, the year 2008. The month of May, impeccable spring weather, and the goddess Capitalism sitting on her long-since-tawdry throne. On the top step outside Hotel Forest hovered a young woman, more a girl than a woman, and more a foreigner—which she also was—than anything else. The hotel looked out over NDK, the former communist regime’s palace of culture, a giant concrete blossom now patrolled by teenagers; sunlight falling across the plaza glinted off their spiky heads. Alexandra Boyd, exhausted from an endless plane ride, stood watching the Bulgarian kids on their skateboards and trying to tuck her long straight hair behind one ear. To her right rose apartment buildings of ochre and gray stucco, as well as more recent glass-and-steel construction and a billboard that showed a woman in a bikini whose breasts surged out toward a bottle of vodka. Stately trees bloomed near the billboard, white and magenta—horse chestnuts, which Alexandra had seen during a trip to France in college, her only other time on the European continent. Her eyes were gritty, her scalp grimed with the sweat of travel. She needed to eat, shower, sleep—yes, sleep, after the final flight from Amsterdam, that jerking awake every few minutes into self-exile across an ocean. She glanced down at her feet to make sure they were still there. Except for a pair of bright red sneakers, her clothes were simple—thin blouse, blue jeans, a sweater tied around her waist—so that she felt dowdy next to the tailored skirts and stilettos that made their way past her. On her left wrist, she wore a wide black bracelet; in her ears, spears of obsidian. She gripped the handles of a rolling suitcase and a dark satchel containing a guidebook, a dictionary, extra clothes. Over her shoulder she carried a computer bag and her loose multicolored purse with a notebook and a paperback of Emily Dickinson at the very bottom.
Elizabeth Kostova (New London, 26 december 1964)
Uit: Tropic of Cancer
“Well, I’ll take these pages and move on. Things are happening elsewhere. Things are always happening. It seems wherever I go there is drama. People are like lice – they get under your skin and bury themselves there. You scratch and scratch until the blood comes, but you can’t get permanently deloused. Everywhere I go people are making a mess of their lives. Everyone has his private tragedy. It’s in the blood now – misfortune, ennui, grief, suicide. The atmosphere is saturated with disaster, frustration, futility. Scratch and scratch, until there’s no skin left. However, the effect upon me is exhilarating. Instead of being discouraged or depressed, I enjoy it. I am crying for more and more disasters, for bigger calamities, grander failures. I want the whole world to be out of whack, I want every one to scratch himself to death.”
“I am a free man―and I need my freedom. I need to be alone. I need to ponder my shame and my despair in seclusion; I need the sunshine and the paving stones of the streets without companions, without conversation, face to face with myself, with only the music of my heart for company. What do you want of me? When I have something to say, I put it in print. When I have something to give, I give it. Your prying curiosity turns my stomach! Your compliments humiliate me! Your tea poisons me! I owe nothing to any one. I would be responsible to God alone―if He existed!”
“Show me a man who over-elaborates and I will show you a great man! What is called their ‘overelaboration’ is my meat: it is the sign of struggle, it is struggle itself with all the fibers clinging to it, the very aura and ambiance of the discordant spirit. And when you show me a man who expresses himself perfectly I will not say that he is not great, but I will say that I am unattracted . . . I miss the cloying qualities. When I reflect that the task which the artist implicitly sets himself is to overthrow existing values, to make of the chaos about him an order which is his own, to sow strife and ferment so that by the emotional release those who are dead may be restored to life, then it is that I run with joy to the great and imperfect ones, their confusion nourishes me, their stuttering is like divine music to my ears.”
Henry Miller (26 december 1891 – 7 juni 1980)
Die Treue zu Bäumen,
die nicht in den Himmel wachsen.
Alles, was du nicht kannst.
Nachsicht und Unnachgiebigkeit
im richtigen Verhältnis.
Später Nachruf auf Auden
Sein rissiges Gesicht: Erde
in der Trockenzeit.
Flüssig, manchmal allzusehr,
Muß man sich nicht schämen,
weil es einem nicht
die Sprache verschlägt?
in wütender Bewunderung
starrte ich auf das Zeitungsfoto
über meinem Bett.
Streng war ich als junger Mann −
und tadelte, wovon ich nicht
Rainer Malkowski (26 december 1939 – 1 september 2003)
Uit: Sodom und Gomera
»Der Hafen«, antwortete sie, »das hascht schon gesagt.« Allmählich glaubte ich zu verstehen, worauf das Mädchen hinauswollte, und sagte: »Ich möchte gern nach Gomera.« »Da wollen wir auch hin. Kannscht gleich mitkommen.« Sie nickte mir zu und winkte einem Taxi. »Zu dritt isch billiger.« Bevor ich mich recht versah oder dagegen wehren konnte, saß ich mit dem Schwabenpärchen in einem klapprigen Toyota und fuhr an der unansehnlichen und durch betonierte Hotelanlagen verschandelten Südküste Teneriffas entlang gen Westen. Das verspätete Hippiemädchen (sie hieß Sandra, nannte sich aber Sunny oder Sandy) redete ohne Unterlass auf mich ein, während ihr blond gelockter und schlaksiger Begleiter (den Sandy als Michael oder besser: Mike beziehungsweise Micki vorstellte) die ganze Zeit über keine Silbe sagte. Er starrte dümmlich vor sich hin und schaukelte mit dem Oberkörper (Hospitalismus, vermutete ich). Während der Taxifahrt erfuhr ich, dass die beiden aus Böbingen an der Rems stammten, im Frühjahr Abitur gemacht hatten und im kommenden Monat ihr Studium in Berlin beginnen wollten: Sandy hatte sich für Germanistik entschieden (»Deutsch als Fremdsprache?«, hätte ich beinahe gefragt, ließ es dann aber), und Micki wollte Psychologie studieren (ausgerechnet!). Allerdings erhielt ich auch einige nützliche Informationen über die Insel Gomera. Ich zeigte Sandy die Postkarte, die Ute mir mitgegeben hatte, und deutete auf den Stempel mit dem Schriftzug »La Calera«. Sandy nahm mir die Karte aus der Hand, las interessiert die Adresse und fragte: »Wer ischen Ute Ikemann?« Ich antwortete, das ginge sie gar nichts an, und tippte erneut auf den Stempel. »Des isch im Valle«, erklärte Sandy desinteressiert und kümmerte sich wieder um die handschriftlichen Zeilen auf der Karte. Sie las den Text und die Unterschrift und fragte: »Und wer isch Julia?« Obwohl sie es mir nicht sehr leicht machte, erfuhr ich von Sandy, dass La Calera ein Ortsteil der Gemeinde Valle Gran Rey war, unweit der Südwestküste der Insel. Das Tal des großen Königs (so lautete wohl die Übersetzung) bestand aus einem guten Dutzend kleinerer Dörfer und Siedlungen und war das Zentrum des Tourismus auf Gomera, vor allem des Alternativtourismus. »Alle sind da so grell abgefahren und voll cool, viele Freaks und Aussteiger und Leute wie wir«, wie Sandy nicht ohne Genugtuung betonte. »Die sind ungeheuer easy drauf, weischt?« Klar gebe es auch normalos und sogar einige wenige Pauschalreisende (dass meine Wenigkeit ebenfalls zu diesen gehörte, verschwieg ich tunlichst), aber insgesamt sei das Valle doch noch »ziemlich freakig und voll krass, gell!«
Mani Beckmann (Alstätte, 26 december 1965)
Kerstsfeer in Alstätte
Uit:The Kingdom of This World (Vertaald door Harriet de Onís)
“Marco Polo allowed that certain birds could fly carrying elephants in their talons; Martin Luther saw the Devil right before his eyes and threw an inkwell at his head. Victor Hugo, so exploited by the sellers of marvelous books, believed in apparitions, because he was sure of having spoken, while in Guernsey, with the ghost of Leopoldina.
All Van Gogh needed was faith in the Sunflower (19) to capture its revelation on a canvas. Thus, the idea of the marvelous invoked in the context of disbelief–which is what the surrealists did for so many years–was never anything but a literary trick, and a boring one at that for having been prolonged, as is the literature that is oneiric by “arrangement,” or the praises of folly now back in fashion. But, by the same token, we are not, for all that, going to yield to those who advocate a return to the realism–a term that takes on, in this context, a slavishly political agenda–because they are merely replacing the magician’s tricks with the commonplaces of academics or the scatological delights of some existentialists.
There is clearly no excuse for poets and artists who praise sadism without practising it, who admire the supermacho because of their own impotence, who invoke spirits without believing they answer to incantations, and who found secret societies, literary sects, or vaguely philosophic groups with passwords and arcane goals that are never achieved, without being able to conceive a valid mysticism or to abandon their pettiest habits in order to risk their souls on the frightening card of faith.
Alejo Carpentier (26 december 1904 – 24 april 1980)
Zie voor nog meer schrijvers van de 26e december ook mijn vorige twee blogs van vandaag.