Der Zuschauer

A Journal of Essays and Reportage on Drama, History, and Literature

Archive for December 2011

Gorkyland: Vodka and the Proper Study of Mankind

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Well, I asked, Where was I actually to go?

And speaking of living in truth: while Wittgenstein was serving in World War I on the Russian front as a corporal in the Austro-Hungarian Army, he received a gift one day from a Russian soldier. They were both involved in a cease-fire, mass-grave ceremony, where soldiers from each side were buried beside one another in long slit trenches. The Russian, knowing some German, gave Wittgenstein a German edition of Tolstoy’s The Gospel in Brief, which he himself had taken from the tunic of a dead Austrian soldier. Wittgenstein read the book and kept Tolstoy’s Gospels in his own tunic throughout the rest of the war. He wrote in a letter, “If you are not acquainted with The Gospel in Brief then you cannot imagine what an effect it can have upon a person.” I have myself read Tolstoy’s little book and I can tell you one thing for certain; it was not thick enough to stop a bullet. Full battle mayhem began shortly after the cease-fire was over.

Maxim Gorky, the 3rd.
Copyright 2011. Der Zuschauer.

Written by herrdramaturg

December 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Gorkyland: Beyond the Last Major Ice Age

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Comrades, I am in the Cambridge Public Library. My nerves are shattered. Why? I awoke after a long, ten-hour sleep. I knew I had no money for ice-beer. I knew I had no appointments. I knew the plan was to come to the library and work on Havel and the essay. The library was quiet to begin with. A bowel episode began the interruptions; I did some work on email and Der Zuschauer; I picked up Timothy Garton Ash’s The Magic Lantern. The hordes moved in: the readers, the homeless assholes, the Negroes, the children, the elderly, the female dingbats. I read the New York Times.

The hordes continued to seep, waft, rise up out of the lower depths of humanity. My nerves, my soul went into a toilet, the anonymous #2 toilet on the second floor. I began to contemplate a mass execution of armadillos on the southern coast of Georgia. Except, then, I remembered, I am not living in southern Georgia. I am not living in the south of Georgia since the early 1970s. And, I, Maxim Gorky, the 3rd, am not writing about Soviet Georgia, where armadillos have never lived, except perhaps, beyond the last major ice age when continental drift was much more exaggerated, aggravated, even irritable. I made the mistake of chosing a writing table near the shelves and bins with CDs of classical music, but this section, incredibly, is next to the movie CD section, which is full of street-trash, homeless villains in filthy, ragged, razor-shredded, down winter coats. And so on every film box they pull out are two things: large revolvers or machine-pistols and women, femme fatales, cat-suited, vicious criminal twats. You get the idea; Woody Allen would say, sex and death. Goethe might well rattle on about the Eternal-Femine wearing only a sweater from a top-shop, naked otherwise except for pubic hair.

But you and I and Dostoevsky know its only sex and death, crime and punishment, and why have you not asked, “Where do all these shelter ghouls watch these movies? Do they manage to agree to watch one particular sex and death girl with the rat-tatoo, dragon mother-fucker video? Do they all have gleaming laptops hidden in mass of dry-cleaner plastics waiting to be loaded up with the latest British film-piss-artist trash?” Because believe me, street-shelter shite-ghouls and zombies do not watch Swedish films nor Soviet films nor-

Well, but if Werner Herzog ever made a documentary about a blue-eyed, red-headed mad-man who had slaughtered vast armadillo populations in between Savannah and Jacksonville and the slave-exterminators were all sex-slut, fem-bot, napalm-exhalers, then, then, you might just–So, I went and set chair on the second floor amidst the Loeb Classical Library Christmas section: all red books and green books, and I brreathed in deeply, paganism and reason, stoicism and mayhem, Lucian and Lucretius, Sappho and Sextus Propertius–And every tick of the clock was one more instance in the steely, final, 24 hours before social benefits cash appears in my Department of Transitional Assistance bank account and suddenly it’s Beer Time in America–And I am read that magic, enchanted expression, old Falerian wine–And I am knowing I would never have to make a woman happy again–not in a brief, destructive 3rd marriage, nor for eight hours on a cold beach under over-turned boat–never again am genuflucting for a slag–but only, maybe for daughters, deardeardear daughters.

And I am remembering that in the Fall of 1989 when I was following closely events in Eastern Europe and I am lit-up, incandescent, and surrounded by doting women, but, certainly sex was no center to my life–the collapse of Marxism in Europe was, and living in truth, and “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” And, there among the Christmas red and green of the Loeb Library, are my nerves returning to me, and I am quietly realised that the imagined destruction of armadillos was only a cinematic dream of the annihilation of every street-shelter, failed-project, man woman asshole I had ever looked upon, that the dream would not have to be fulfilled. One day I would walk away from them all, standing around a sterno-fire drinking Thunderbird and muscatel, Natural Ice and Rouble Vodka. I would move north from southern Georgia to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where there would be economically competitive Marxist book-shops, and the best doctors in the world would be working behind the counter at bottle-shops, and the most interesting women would be intellectual comrades and not grand inquisitors of marriage and procreation–Anyway, then, with my nerves am calmed down, but not sufficiently to brave the elevators, I turned to the stairs and a tumble to my early, materialist death–Am recovering now am intending to explain it all at a later time.

Maxim Gorky, the 3rd.
Copyright 2011 Der Zuschauer.

Polemicists, Contrarians, Men who live in history

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Dear Readers,
I think we all live in history, whether we know it or not. We here on Guam Island have never tried to be viciously up to date. For the best obituaries for Vaclav Havel and Christopher Hitchens we recommend our sister publication, Arts and Letter Daily, and its blog lists. You may well know just whom of the above is Havel and Hitchens; we will let you guess on the third man. You remember the third man, don’t you? And who played the zither? Did he do this in Vienna or Hollywood? Anyway, Ekaterina Degot is said to be at work on a piece about what Leon Trotsky, from beyond the grave, would have had to say about both Hitchens and Havel. We would have loved to have had Hitchens on Havel but time and space did not allow that to happen. Maxim Gorky, the 3rd, is writing a piece about Havel’s Letters to Olga, and how prison is somewhat, very like, being homeless in Central Square, Cambridge. Then, there is Stanley Richardson’s memory piece, Drama in the Fall of 1989, which will touch on Hitchens, Havel, Gorbachev, Socialism With a Human Face, Clement Ottwald and his missing hat. Dear Reader, are you old enough to know what a Tribant is? Also, can any of you help us with the derivation of this phrase, “We live in History”?

Max Klinger,
Editor in Chief
Der Zuschauer
Copyright 2011.

Gorkyland: Time is, time was, but time shall be no more.

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“Last of all consider the frightful torment to those damned souls, tempters and tempted alike, of the company of the devils. These devils will afflict the damned in two ways, by their presence and by their reproaches. We can have no idea of how horrible these devils are. Saint Catherine of Siena once saw a devil and she has written that, rather than look again for one instant on such a frightful monster, she would prefer to walk until the end of her life along a track of red coals. These devils, who were once beautiful angels, have become as hideous and ugly as they were once beautiful. They mock and jeer at the lost souls whom they dragged down to ruin. It is they, the foul demons, who are made in hell the voices of conscience. Why did you sin? Why did lend an ear to the temptations of fiends? Why did you turn aside from your pious practices and good works? Why did you not shun the occasions of sin? Why did you not leave that evil companion? Why did you not listen to the counsels of you confessor? Why did you not, even after you had fallen the first or the second or the third or the fourth or the hundredth time, repent of your evil ways and turn to God who only waited for your repentance to absolve you of your sins? Now the time for repentance has gone by. Time is, time was, but time shall be no more! Time was to sin in secrecy, to indulge in that sloth and pride, to covet the unlawful, to yield to the promptings of your lower nature, to live like the beasts of the field, nay worse than the beasts of the field for they, at least, are brutes and have not reason to guide them: Time was but time shall be no more. God spoke to you by so many voices but you would not hear. You would not crush out that pride and anger in your heart, you would not restore those ill-gotten goods, you would not obey the precepts of your holy church nor attend to your religious duties, you would not abandon those wicked companions, you would not avoid those dangerous temptations. Such is the language of those fiendish tormentors, words of taunting and of reproach, of hatred and of disgust. Of disgust, yes! For even they, the very devils, when they sinned sinned by such a sin as alone was compatible with such angelical natures, a rebellion of the intellect; and they, even they, the foul devils must turn away, revolted and disgusted, from the contemplation of those unspeakable sins by which degraded man outrages and defiles the temple of the Holy Ghost, defiles and pollutes himself.”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Written by herrdramaturg

December 12, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Gorkyland: …the torment of this infernal prison…

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“Consider finally that the torment of this infernal prison is increased by the company of the damned themselves. Evil company on earth is so noxious that even the plants, as if by instinct, withdraw from the company of whatsoever is deadly or hurtful to them. In hell all laws are overturned: there is no thought of family or country, of ties, of relationships. The damned howl and scream at one another, their torture and rage intensified by the presence of beings tortured and raging like themselves. All sense of humanity is forgotten. The yells of the suffering sinners fill the remotest corners of the vast abyss. The mouths of the damned are full of blasphemies against God and of hatred for their fellow sufferers and of curses against those souls which were their accomplices in sin. In olden times it was the custom to punish the parricide, the man who raised his murderous hand against his father, by casting him into the depths of the sea in a sack in which were placed a cock, a monkey and a serpent. The intention of those law givers who framed such a law, which seems cruel in our times, was to punish the criminal by the company of hateful and hurtful beasts. But what is the fury of those dumb beasts compared with the fury of execration which bursts from the parched lips and aching threats of the damned in hell when they behold in their companions in misery those who aided and abetted them in sin, those whose words sowed the first seeds of evil thinking and evil living in their minds, those whose immodest suggestions led them to sin, those whose eyes tempted and lured them from the path of virtue. They turn upon those accomplices and upbraid them and curse them. But they are helpless and hopeless: it is too late now for repentance.”

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Written by herrdramaturg

December 12, 2011 at 11:39 am

Stanley Richardson on Cicero’s Selected Letters

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It’s not that I’ve given up on writing for Der Zuschauer, or that this Gorkyland rubbish has prevented myself or Ekaterina Degot or Christian Grabbe, or even Max Klinger, from writing other stuff. What has happened over and above oceans and time and western man? What has happened about socialism and promiscuity? What has happened to the overall philosophy of history? I’ve recently read Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve, and before that Lucretius, and now I’ve obtained Cicero’s Selected Letters, as published by Oxford World’s Classics. I’m trying to get more done on my play about Ovid in exile; I’m trying to get more done on my translations of George Heym’s Poems. Hell, I’d like to get home for the holidays myself, but everybody’s dead except my daughters, and they belong to their mothers. So where is home and what are the holidays? Was Thomas Jefferson a Deist or an Atheist? I’ve also been reading Vol.2 of Samuel Beckett’s Letters, the French and the English. It seems to really be true that all women are size-queens, even after they’ve begun to worry about being told that their tits are sagging, and they don’t even realize that men pay attention to “dropped asses” as well. Or is all this covered in Cosmo? Still, enough with Higher Powers, my Thanksgiving was absolutely awful, and Christmas promises to be dryadust shite as well. I have, inexplicably, lofted myself upon Facebook (whywhywhy?), and I have no desire to make contact with anyone from my past, except the dead, and what would I say to them? I think failed marriages are an appalling thing to hang around one’s neck. How do you explain failure to people who don’t admit they’ve ever failed? If I could look at all the women I’ve seen naked during the course of the last 58 years, would I have any idea who half of them were? Would it matter? Do I care?

Then there is this question of failed marriages. This hoo-ha about to have and to hold until death do us part, because I think women are the big liars; I think it’s the broads who lie from the beginning and who continue to lie until they’ve found a fool big enough to buy all the bull-pizzle hogwash until death do us part, and they get the money to cover all the failed tits and the collapsed asses. “He can have his library, if he can afford a place to put it.”

Does it not strike anyone just how crude the expression Facebook is? Why not Twatbook? or Dickbook? or Assbook? I could continue, but perhaps I shouldn’t. I may well have to lean my head out of a chariot and have it lopped off by one of Mark Antony’s gladiator-minions like Marcus Tullius Cicero did, and there’s an end of me.

My best to thee and thine in the Holiday Season. Respectfully, Dr. Stanley Richardson.

Then there is this dark-star, black-hole depression, which I can’t seem to get out of. Do anyone of you know what a catchword is? Which makes one wonder about headword, and reading in Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a A Young Man, made me notice the run-together words of current computerese are prefigured in that novel.

Then there is this question about whether we can ever use enough commas for comprehension in today’s haywire, incompetent prose, and in despite of Samuel Beckett’s detestation of semi-colons, aren’t they fucking spiffy? I like hyphenation too, don’t you? Except for women’s last names. Then they are tedious. Yes?

Stanley Richardson
Copyright 2011 Der Zuschauer

Written by herrdramaturg

December 5, 2011 at 1:24 pm