My Year in the No-Man’s-Bay
Peter Handke seems to have fallen out of time. A singer from earlier days, who strikes his song here, lonely and misunderstood.
But still people listen to him. Because in the short breaks, in his breathing and waiting, one sees a long-forgotten world full of legends and myths.
I loved him even before I knew his books.
In one lecture, I don’t even know which one it was anymore, I saw a film about his life on the outskirts of Paris, his aimless wandering through the forest and his lonely writing.
And I saw a person who was beautiful. Not beautiful to look at, not a picture of a beautiful man, perhaps not even a beautiful soul. But a man, beautiful in his truthfulness.
He seemed to me then like a person from another time. Like an old bard, upright and true, torn from his world and put into our time of noise and madness.
It was one place in particular that made me listen attentively and kept me busy for years to come.
He talked about his time at high school. The time he was sent away from home to the city and his pain back then. And about how he literally became speechless.
And he was overcome with anger. Not only about what was done to him, but also about the words he heard a thousand times since then: “It will have been good for something.”
Then time stood still for me. Because I heard something that I didn’t know one could even think: “No, it wasn’t good for anything. It wasn’t shit.”
And I realized that the world was completely different than I thought. I saw a person who had not forgotten his pain, who did not repress it and thus crucified himself day after day anew.
But I saw a man who rebelled.
And then something broke inside me. And the world suddenly sounded together again.
Later, when I picked up his books, I was disappointed. Nothing from the man I imagined. None of the flick through the woods, none of the fairy tales, none of the sagas.
Nothing of the scent that had touched me so much in his words.
Only stories that bored me. Inanimate thoughts and words.
But still, I didn’t lose my love. Maybe I already knew then that everything in life has its time and that sometimes you have to wait. I found moments of silence for myself, small windows through which I looked into other worlds.
In conversation with a lover, on the bank of a river, when the water glistens over the stones, in the sound of the wind in an old birch tree.
And I waited.
Eventually I found the book that showed me the hand I missed.
I know it’s just a mirror where I’m looking for something. But isn’t that what artists are for? To show us an ideal on which we can stand up?
And this book is really beautiful. In him Handke becomes the master of legends, the blind (and therefore seeing?) singer of our time.
A book full of moments of silence and beauty, in which time seems to stand still and one looks through another, long lost world.
For example, when he talks about himself, about his failure and that he does not know himself, although he will soon be fifty-six years old.
And then suddenly writes: “And at the same time the Atlantic wind pushed into the wet winter grass in front of my garden room”.
That’s not only beautiful, it’s not just a trick, but it’s the flashing of a light in otherwise dark night.
“My Year in the No-Man’s-Bay”, a book to read, despite all the prophecies of doom from well-meaning critics.