Der Zuschauer

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

Archive for the ‘Robust Assertions’ Category

Gorkyland: Mental Square

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And sometimes the burning hotel drives towards you, instead of you driving towards the inferno. People continue to be tossed from the shelter. People continue to think they will get back in, or, instead, stay at the Sally. Even the Albany Street wet-shelter, shit-hole has cut its alkie beds in half, a third, who knows? No money, these days, is available for active drunks, dope-fiends, unless you are Bill Clegg, literary agent in New York, author of Portrait of an Addict as A Young Man. “He had a thriving business as a literary agent, representing a growing list of writers. He had a supportive partner, trusting colleagues, and loving friends when he walked away from his work and embarked on a two-month crack binge. He had been released from rehab nine months earlier, and his relapse would cost him his home, his money, his career, and very nearly his life.” That bullshit is from the dust-jacket. Nine and two makes eleven, right? Wooie! Irvine Welsh writes: “A remarkable achievement. Bill Clegg’s story of a man–largely locked in hotel rooms, engaged in a desperate, heart-wrenching battle with himself–is destined to become a cult classic of writing on drug addiction.” All I can say is fuck Irvine Welsh for his cliches; he should have stuck his head in a nasty toilet and spared us the desperation, the destiny, the cult classic, and remarkable achievment. As for Bill Clegg, fuck his wanker asshole and his almost lost his home, his money, his career, and very nearly, his life. If a writer like Andrew O’Hagan is reduced to “instant classic,” “beauty and truth,” and “I suppose we live for the magic of these things,” then we are all lost in a miasma of dreck; cheap, whisper-thin, toilet paper; and bad-boy at Dartmouth masturbation. Sebestian Junger, went to war for 15 months, as a sort of male camp-follower. He at least “showed [us] the adrenaline-fueled confusion of being ambushed.” He knocked me to the floor, he took all my crack, and he took the last of the toilet paper. Junger, at least, “shows what it means to fight, serve, and face down mortal danger on a constant basis.” But really, why can’t any of these male pussies actually write well? Socrates went to war, Sophocles went to war. Grant and Sherman wrote well after the fact. I’ve been locked in hotel rooms; I’ve seen public men’s rooms in Central Square. I’ve lost my only pair of glasses down a fecal rat-hole. It wasn’t my cell-phone. Trusting colleagues, loving friends? Dylan Thomas put some egg into his whiskey. Malcolm Lowry ate the worm in the tequila bottle. When did being “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” become such a man-girl exercise in bad writing? Hemingway, Ford Maddox Ford, Dos Passos, and Faulkner could write. Most of the time they did write well. George Orwell wrote well about being down and out; the dishroom was greasy; the john stank. Josepth Roth wrote brillantly while lit up on schnapps or marc. He didn’t make himself out to be a hero for drinking hard. He wrote about men and women living in history. His last rehab episode was in the Hospital Necker, in Paris, where friends reported seeing him strapped to his bed with delirium tremens; he was denied alcohol by the hospital staff; no benzos in May of 1939. According to the poet and translator, Michael Hoffmann, that was a “contributory cause of his death.” “I have finished my last book. I don’t want a doctor, just a priest.”

Maxim Gorky, the 3rd.
Copyright 2012. Der Zuschauer.

Written by herrdramaturg

April 6, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Gorkyland: Death Comes to History

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Things keep happening; people keep getting tossed; women get caught blowing men in the cellar, off you go. Others are told to leave for what? Why? Who knows? People keep getting tossed. Then people die. One King of Naples, hispanic, a Yankee/Giants/Mets/Jets fan, has numerous wives, girlfriends, comes up from Jersey and does the Boston system and eventually, after one year or more, gets housing, and then dies within weeks of moving out and in. Dead two days when the police find him. We last spoke on Superbowl Sunday. I congratulated him on the Giants’ victory; he graciously accepted my congratulations. There is more to tell: grey hair, pony-tail, constant cane, white bathrobe. No hint of drugs or booze so far as I knew, but what do I know? Now? Then? Tomorrow? There have been some various controversies regarding the use of artwork amidst texts, and god, we writers just are happy to have some access to publication and money per line or word. We don’t decide these matters; Ekaterina Degot, decides this; Max Klinger decides this. We just do the writing, I just do the writing, such as it is. There are commissars as well; people, women most often, who decide about correct language, human kindness in a nutshell cliché. There are commissars who watch Law and Order: SUV, pop-eyed, uncritical, and yet, are all over your attitude and tone of voice. Prohibition is so very inside the heart of every American woman in the United States. What are we to do? What is to be done?
I find it hard to keep straight, I find it hard not to worry about being appalling, shocking, nasty. There are dogs in the ditch; there are butt-ugly skanks, skags, assholes in the square. There are people who are experts on Wodehouse and know nothing about Celine. There are excuses for Eliot and there is rabid hatred of Pound. There are hefty Norton Anthologies Of African-American Literature. Who actually reads Black History in February? Do you? There is a book published this past January, Joseph Roth: A Life in Letters, edited and translated by the English poet, Michael Hofmann, that I think is superb and useful for anyone who is hacking away in the trade: meaning writing at anything at all. I have read Roth in German and English. He is one of ours, if you and fate will allow me to assert this. But then, evidently, I am a dog; I am not a son of the soil, I am not a man of the factories and cow barns, a pork butcher to the world; I am only a writer, I am a white man and I get Faulkner’s expression, “a train car full of cannon balls” quicker than you do. I’ve seen men drink shoe-polish, and I’ve seen men drink sterno drained through cheese-cloth; I’ve seen men drink Listerene and I didn’t care whether they lived or died. There is hope and faith in The Brothers Karamazov that is above the underground, but then Dostoevsky was a gambler and where’s the recovery in that?

Maxim Gorky, the 3rd.
copyright 2012. Der Zuschauer.

Written by herrdramaturg

February 23, 2012 at 1:19 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.

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

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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

Gorkyland: On Friday My Great-Coat Was Stolen

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It was at an enforced AA Meeting at the BU Marsh Chapel where the weasel-stoat denizens are described as “well-educated and enlightened.” I had arrogantly gone to the toilet with the supreme confidence of the smugly saved. “There seemed no reason for concern or suspicion.” It may seem like a scene from a Victor Serge novel (Conquered City, or Comrade Tulayev), where Higher-Power Assholes abound in the Stalinist totalitarian state, but it was just the same old piss-mire of dope-fiends, alcoholics, coat-pullers, fags looking for John the Bopper and Jesus the joint-jumper, and very predictable old Vladimers and Estragons, straight out of the old Godot flask. On the same Friday I saw an old duffer in pajamas walking down into the Davis Square subway station and seeing his plastic 1.75 bottle of Ruble Vodka slip out of his belt and down his trousers and out on the floor, all without breaking; such are the miracles of science. I recently had had a list of all the microbiological viruses and fungi, which tend to reside in the vagina, read out to me: “Think about that the next time you go down on some slag!” I have to go to Alcoholic Anonymous Meetings to satisfy a residency requirement. “Think about a sponsor.” On Thanksgiving Day there are these hideous 24 holiday marathons (Alcoholothans) for booze-bags and coke-heads and the other poor bastards who have to get their dog-it tickets signed. I get bartenders or package-store clerks to sign mine. This is all part of recovery, which is recovery from what? Earlier, I arrived on the Central Square T-Station platform and tried to wedge my way past a dyed-blonde, menopausal, female fright (not a street person), who was hanging in the doorway. I dodged one way and then another and finally darted around her with my cane in order to avoid getting crushed by the door. She shouted out, “Sir, if you are implying I am a Kosovo Serb, I will not stand it!” I said, “I have no idea what you are talking about.” “I said, sir, I will not have you imply I am a Kosovo Serb!” This was a register higher and right in my face. All the usual, oblivious people were staring at both of us like we were war criminals. “I didn’t say anything to you until you began to yell at me.” Then she sat down fours seats away hissing: “At least I know what ‘imply’ means!” “That,” I said, “is a classic cunty remark, you old hose-bag!” This was met with incomprehension by the Trolls who now had decided I was a hag-molester, a veritable SVU criminal. I begin to long for a plastic 1.75 bottle of Ruble Vodka of my own, with which to beat the old monster to death, all the while calling her the ugliest, nastiest, Kosovo Serb I had ever seen still alive, and then, having seen her properly dead, I could begin to celebrate Thanksgiving early. I immediately left the train and the old bitch-nag with the trolls. I had a phone call to make about cash benefits and disability. Who knew? Were there any Serbs left in Kosovo?

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

Written by herrdramaturg

November 21, 2011 at 1:22 pm