Dolce far niente
Riviergezicht met kerk en veerpont door Salomon van Ruysdael, 1649
Liggen we ’s nachts met de doden die op ons gaan zitten
ons strelen met handen van talk bergamot en citroen
bij elke beweging levender: Han met de tanden
Mentja met puilende ogen, iets in ons haalt ze over
door te gaan, toe dan, aderen zwellen op
vellen als gedroogd bloemblad, een schrift van verwarring
verwijzing: nu wil ik mijn oma
Tsjoetsjoe, trillend, het ei van de struma beweegt
in haar hals en de hel breekt los, rent ze
met loshangend haar, de doden klemmen zich vast
wie zich verstopt kan nooit meer weg, blijft daar
dubbelgevouwen steken zwart in zwart – : liefje
slaap je? ik moet je smoren, jij mij tegelijk!
waar is je kussen, hoe laten ze anders los –
De ochtend wekt ons met geluid van vracht
wagens door de straat, de muren trillen
en we kijken naar buiten, het raam hangt scheef, in de verte
zien we de bergen, maar op de manier van de vlieg.
Eva Gerlach (Amsterdam, 9 april 1948)
De Krijtberg of Sint-Franciscus Xaveriuskerk in Amsterdam
Uit:Our Twisted Hero (Vertaald door Kevin O’Rourke)
“He spoke once again in that same soft but firm voice. That was all; he didn’t move a finger; And yet I found myself almost getting up. Such was the strange effect his eyes had on me.
I braced myself, with the shrewd sophistication of a Seoulite. My first fight, I thought, and with this sudden realization came a determination to see it through to the end. If I let myself be seen as easy prey from the beginning, I figured life here would be difficult. But could I fight back in the face of the baffling, virtually absolute obedience of the others?
“What do you want?” I answered defiantly, pulling in my tummy; he just snickered contemptuously.
“I want to ask you something,” he said.
“If you want to ask something, come on over here then.”
The corners of his eyes suddenly arched as if to say that he’d heard everything now; again he snickered. He said no more; he just looked at me quietly, his eyes glued to me so intensely that it was difficult to meet them. But I had come too far to back down now. This too is a kind of fight, I thought, bracing myself with all my strength. Two of the bigger boys who were sitting beside him got up and came over to me.
They both looked angry. It seemed as if they might pounce on me at any moment. Any way I looked at it, I wouldn’t be able to take on both of them. Suddenly I was on my feet. One of them grabbed me roughly by the collar and shouted, “Didn’t Om Sokdae, the class monitor, tell you to come over?”
This was the first time I had heard the name Om Sokdae. It was engraved on my memory from the moment I heard it, perhaps because of the odd tone of voice the boy used to pronounce it. It was as if he were using the name of someone very great and noble, as if respect and obedience for such a person were only fitting. This made me shrink again, but I couldn’t give in now. One hundred and twenty eyes were watching me.
“Who are you fellows?”
“I’m in charge of sports; he keeps the classroom nice.
“So, what’s up?”
“Om Sokdae, our class monitor . . . didn’t he ask you to come over?”
Hearing for the second time that his name was Om Sokdae, that he was monitor, and that for this one reason Ihad to present myself and wait on his command, did begin to make me feel intimidated.”
Yi Mun-yol (Yongyang, 18 mei 1948)
Uit: Campo Santo (Vertaald door Anthea Bell)
“There are also many statuettes of the Emperor carved from soapstone and ivory and showing him in familiar poses, the tallest about ten centimeters high and each of the others smaller than the last until the smallest seems almost nothing but a white speck, perhaps representing the vanishing point of human history. One of these diminutive figures depicts Napoleon after his abdication sur le rocher de l’île de Sainte-Hélène (on the rock of the island of St. Helena). Scarcely larger than a pea, he sits in cloak and three-cornered hat astride a tiny chair set on a fragment of tuff which really does come from his place of exile, and he is gazing out into the distance with furrowed brow. He cannot have felt at ease there in the middle of the bleak Atlantic, and he must have missed the excitement of his past life, particularly as it seems that he could not really depend even on the few faithful souls who still surrounded him in his isolation.
Or so, at least, we might conclude from an article in Corse-Matin published on the day of my visit to the Musée Fesch, in which a certain Professor René Maury claimed that a study of several hairs from the Emperor’s head undertaken in the FBI laboratories established beyond any doubt que Napoléon a lentement été empoisonné à l’arsenic à Sainte-Hélène, entre 1817 et 1821, par l’un de ses compagnons d’exil, le comte de Montholon, sur l’instigation de sa femme Albine qui était devenue la maîtresse de l’empereur et s’est trouvée enceinte de lui. (“that Napoleon was slowly poisoned with arsenic on St. Helena, between 1817 and 1821, by one of his companions in exile, the comte de Montholon, at the urging of his wife, Albine, who had become the Emperor’s mistress and was pregnant by him.”) I do not really know what we should think of such stories. The Napoleonic myth has, after all, given rise to the most astonishing tales, always said to be based on incontrovertible fact. Kafka, for instance, tells us that on November 11, 1911, he attended a conférence in the Rudolfinum on the subject of La Légende de Napoléon, at which one Richepin, a sturdy man of fifty with a fine figure, his hair arranged in stiff whorls in the Daudet style and at the same time lying close to his scalp, said among other things that in the past Napoleon’s tomb used to be opened once a year so that old soldiers filing past could set eyes on their embalmed Emperor. But later the custom of the annual opening of the tomb was discontinued, because his face was becoming rather green and bloated. Richepin himself as a child, however, says Kafka, had seen the dead Emperor in the arms of his great-uncle, who had served in Africa and for whom the commandant had the tomb specially opened. Moreover, Kafka’s diary entry continues, the conférence concluded with the speaker swearing that even in a thousand years’ time every mote of the dust of his own corpse, should it have consciousness, would still be ready to follow the call of Napoleon.”
W.G. Sebald (18 mei 1944 – 14 december 2001)
Cover Engelse uitgave
Man beginnt damit, sich in Schalen zu werfen, einen
Hauch von Perlmutt über weichen Körpern
zu tragen und – am Ende des kalten Buffets –
ein Schneckenhaus zu leeren, aus Eigenbedarf.
Wie spät das Heben der Gläser von Grund.
Perlen auf Zungen zergehen. Die Steine.
Ketten, an denen man hängt.
Algenverhangene Säle, Kronleuchter, die
– vom Boden herauf – in Meeresströmen leuchten.
Dann sieht man es nachts, mit feuchteren Augen.
Den Kopf voll Gold sinkt man in Schlaf. Und
hört in den Schalen entfernt das
Pochen der Echolote.
Vorletztes Jahr, es gab ja erste Zeichen, eines
Nachts, wir sahen schwarz, im Spätprogramm
die Sterne vor den Augen, Popcorn
aus den Satellitenschüsseln fallen.
Als Wolken sich von Süden vor die Bilder schoben.
Jemand Geld von uns verlangte für die nächsten dreißig
Monate im voraus.
Fieberhaft. Im Keller unsres siebten Hauses suchten wir
nach Unterlagen über Orte, Zeiten jeder
Sendung. Gaben Daten, die wir fanden,
die Ermächtigung zum Einzug der
Geburten weiter, als der Wind sich drehte. Und die
Aufklärung des Himmels über uns
es kälter werden ließ. Der Schüttelfrost sich
auf Antennenstäbe legte. Wir von ferne noch
den Schnee im Dritten sahen, später – wie vorhergesagt –
nach kurzer, schwerer Krankheit dann verschieden.
Markus Breidenich (Düren, 18 mei 1972)