I am at last able to share the happy news that this fall Telos Press will publish the first English translation of “Das Abenteuerliche Herz. Figuren und Capriccios” – as The Adventurous Heart. Figures and Capriccios. The volume will additionally contain the translation Sicilian Letter to the Man in the Moon.
Telos has kindly given me permission to publish a few appetisers in advance. Here’s the first:
The Gravel Pit – Goslar
We so reluctantly pick up our own books again because we appear to ourselves as forgers in their regard. We were in Ali Baba’s cave and have only brought a measly handful of silver back to the light of day. There is also a sense of returning to a state that we have since shed like a yellowed snakeskin.
This is what I am going through with these notes that I am opening again for the first time in almost ten years. I am told that for a long while now they have found their fifteen readers or so per quarter with astonishing regularity. A reception like this brings to mind certain flowers, like the Silene noctiflora, whose calyxes, while open a single hour one single night, are orbited by a tiny company of winged visitors.
Nevertheless, precisely this reconsideration of already concluded works has special value for an author – as a rare opportunity to grasp its language as a whole, to some extent with a sculptor’s eye, and to work on it as a single corpus. In this manner, I hope to hit still a little more precisely on what may have captivated the reader. For a start, there should be no economizing on deletions; what is thereby saved can then be filled out from the reserves. A few forbidden pieces that I once put aside might also be appended – because when it comes to spicing a dish, we only gain a sure hand with the course of time.
As a figure for this diversity, I envision one of those depressions that we sometimes observe in dried-out streambeds during walks in the mountains. We find there rough chunks of stone, polished pebbles, gleaming flakes, and also sand – colorful debris that the whirling current brings down from higher elevations in spring and fall. Occasionally we take a piece into our hands and turn it back and forth before our eyes – a rock crystal perhaps, a broken snail shell whose inner spindle structure catches us by surprise, or a spike of stalagmite as pale as the moon, from an unidentified cave in which bats trace out circles in noiseless flight. This is the native soil of capriccios, of nocturnal larks that the spirit, as though from a lonely opera box and not without risk, takes a passive delight in. But there are also rounds of granite that have been polished in glacial mills, at points with sweeping outlooks from which the world appears a little smaller, but also clearer and more regular, like on copperplate maps – because the higher order of things is hidden in the manifold as in a picture puzzle. These are stupendous mysteries – with increasing distance we approach their solution. At the furthermost point, at infinity, they are comprehended.
Though there is thus no shortage of material, language should yet bring something more to it. Its task is to once more conjure up the waters that play with and around these forms – waters that at once stir and are transparent.