Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän review À 103

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Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän review À 103 ✓ Frisch charts the crumbling landscape of an old man’s consciousness as he slips away from himself toward death and reintegration with the age old history of our planet A “luminous parablea masterpiece” New York Times Book Review Translated by Geoffrey Skelton Illustrations A HelenFrisch charts the crumbling landscape of an old man’s consciousness as he slips away from himself to. This was my first experience with the Dalkey Archive revered by many of my friends on Goodreads and unfortunately the first impressions were very poor can it really be I thought unwrapping this in front of my postbox and examining it that they spelled the name of the translator wrong on the front cover of the fucking bookGeoffrey Skelton was one of the greatest German translators we had he died in 1998 How many people I keep thinking must have looked at this cover design before it got approved and printed I mean seriously The only way it could be any worse is if the book had been called Man in the Plasticine by Mark FishAnyway A shame because the book is very interesting and deserves to be kept in print A sort of existential collage it follows a few days in the life of 73 year old Geiser a German speaker from Basel a widower who has retired to live in a valley in Ticino in Italian speaking Switzerland The narrative is impressionistic staccato often uite strikingA little wall in the lower garden dry stone has collapsed debris among the lettuces lumps of clay under the tomatoes Perhaps that happened days agoStill one can get tomatoes in cansLavender flowering in the mist scentless as in a color film One wonders what bees do in a summer like thisIt is important to Geiser to take note of what he sees His memory is failing him and he's compulsive about hoarding his knowledge – creating lists of the food in his kitchen or of the sixteen different types of thunder he has distinguished echoing around his little house His walls are covered in handwritten notes or clippings cut from the encyclopaedia with his interests tending to geology and palaeontologyGeiser knew at one time what caused tides just as he knew about volcanoes mountain ranges etc But when did the first mammals emerge Instead of this one knows how many liters of heating oil the tank contains the time of the first and last mail bus – that is when the highway is not blocked When did man first emerge and why Triassic Jurassic Cretaceous etc but no idea how many millions of years the various eras lastedMan emerged in the Holocene – the epoch we're still in This book thus deftly takes the scattered thoughts of one old man and locates them in the vast reaches of geological time The disjointed style of his own reminiscences combines with the cuttings on his walls – excerpted here piecemeal from various Swiss reference works – to create a cut up effect that juxtaposes the banal with the dramatic dinosaurs with lettuces continental drift with a fall down the stairs and that ultimately becomes uite moving Recommended though possibly not in this badly jacketed editionOne last uote to finish because it didn't fit in the review and it demands to be sharedEver since the young men have owned motorcycles incest has been dying out and so has sodomy

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” New York Times Book Review Translated by Geoffrey Skelton Illustrations A Helen and Kurt Wolff Boo. Bit sick don't seem to have the wherewithall to write about this so I thought I'd let Frisch do that A few extracts from a Paris Review interview the entirety of which can be found here did you first decide to create the flat cold “affectless” hero we have been discussingFRISCHHard to know I think I made it not all at once but slowly; gradually it felt and comfortable Just now I think—I don’t know if it’s right or wrong—that if you describe emotions or the hero describes his emotions as in the work of Dostoyevsky for instance or Melville or other great writers the danger that you will fall into the conventional is very great It was Goethe who told us how we feel if we are in love with a girl—there are forms for that But suppose you try to establish a situation a movement to show gestures and faces and not talk about it This is closer to film than old literature was We have learned a lot from movies about what can be expressed without words I would be proud or happy if a reader could feel the essential situation of say the man in Man in the Holocene to feel how it is to be wet in your pants how it’s getting colder the feeling of growing tired of melancholy or despair That you get without using all those words That you feel sensually and see with your eyes I want to give that or I try anywayINTERVIEWERDo you have a kind of control that is not within your conscious grasp FRISCHYes I have this control that tells me when to cut something improve it or give it up often without knowing why But just how much of this capacity you have is important in determining I think whether you’re a writer or not If you criticize what you’re doing too early you’ll never write the first line Then if you don’t have this capacity at all that’s also a danger Before I published Man in the Holocene it was not a bad book but I had an uncomfortable feeling about it That’s criticism Then after I wrote a second draft I had the feeling “Now it works now it’s okay” And afterwards again this shock that it didn’t work If I hadn’t had that feeling it would have been published and I would never have reached the point I could reach You’re awfully dependent on that critical sense When I was young around thirty it took me much time to get the feeling of a scene to know whether it worked or not and to be able to give up on it if it didn’t I would work for half a year sometimes on something that didn’t work—I couldn’t give upINTERVIEWERThe opening sentence of Man in the Holocene reads “It should be possible to build a pagoda of crispbread to think of nothing to hear no thunder no rain Perhaps no pagoda will emerge but the night will pass” One accepts it upon first reading Then suddenly it strikes one “What is this man thinking of” It’s a remarkable image a weird image How did you come upon it FRISCHI think you’re right; reading it for the first time it’s a little unusual a little crazy A person with strange problems obviously; we feel he’s doing nonsense he’s bored and we understand he has to wait because of the rain Later when you know him it acuires a different meaning even if one doesn’t go back to read the book again but simply remembers the sentence A pagoda is a full complete picture of the world That’s what he tries to have because he’s afraid that the world will get lost And what he’s doing with this crispbread of course is just the opposite So it’s a dream that the world should be perfect that we should be able to view it as a whole in its perfect clear beauty I started only the last version of the book with that sentence Before then I had it later on on the second page It was important to have it for the beginning; otherwise you get the description of the painful weather so what Only this pagoda sentence brings it immediately onto another level There must be something else That’s of course what you call craft isn’t itWith the parable you think—you hope—you can get a complicated reality Nowadays I doubt that too because the parable always has the tendency to prove something to teach something and I found out that I don’t have to teach I just want to show the thing—and so I have stopped using parables Literature should show possibilities and avoid the idea that what happened had to happen I don’t believe this aphorism FRISCHYes I do I always try but I never succeed Between us I would say my favorite book at this time is Man in the HoloceneA few months after our interview I called Mr Frisch to see if he had any final corrections or comments to add “Yes” he said “Tell them that for just a brief moment I flew Only for a moment—to the kitchen and back—but that you saw me fly”

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Der Mensch erscheint im HolozänWard death and reintegration with the age old history of our planet A “luminous parablea masterpiece. Oh what a brief and fleeting moment we have to be alive What tiny insignificant blips on the radar we all areOur minds will eventually erode The way ecosystems came and went The way lifeforms came into existence flourished died outso too will we I have never read a book that captured the disorientation isolation and tragedy of old age in such an unsentimental and yet obsessive and moving way I read it in one sitting and felt as claustrophobic and lonely as the character did alone in his cabin with the rain and the thunder and the decaying world outside mirroring beautifully and chillingly the slow descent going on withinWonderfully human