Wednesday 17 May 2023

Ingeborg Bachmann, continued

I read Part Two of Malina with bated breath. This was the hinterland of a woman and her father, every page or two a new, sharper, worse image to absorb. I read a few pages at a time. Homeopathic treatment in the middle of the night. Treat like with like. Father with Mother. War with Peace. Everywhere with Nowhere. 

Ingeborg Bachmann asks a lot of her words, her sentences, her readers. We have to be ready for her dreams. For her father. 

Malina shall know everything. But I decide: they shall be the dreams of this night.

 Part Two of Malina reads like a long night of the soul, born in Carinthia, raised in Vienna, shifted to Italy, smouldered and expired there. 

Suddenly, atop a polar summit from which there's no return, I am able to shout: a book about Hell. A book about Hell!

Rachel Kushner in her introduction says:

Once you're in, you're in. You're not decoding. Towards the end you're racing along, deep in the rhythms of the narrator's thoughts, which are bone-true and demonically intelligent—and I mean it would be a real burden to be that mentally acute, it can't go well for a person to know that much  ...

When I was about thirteen or fourteen I had a system to induce sleep. When I shut my eyes there was an afterimage, often black and white, jagged in a fifties way, which was War. If I was to get to sleep I had to replace War with Cream, which was silky and slow.   

Part Three I read up at the pond on a sunny, unslept, afternoon. I paid great attention to the tadpoles, fishing out one or two in my palm to see the tiny legs emerging. Part Three, back in daily life with Malina, who is particular about how his egg is cooked for breakfast, concludes that she was murdered by her father, in a manner of speaking. Whether or not she told Malina is irrelevant.

I like books that I can inhabit, without judgement or comparison. This is my society, my hinterland.

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