thomas bernhard - ereignisse (occurrences)

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    THOMAS BERNHARD

    EREIGNISSE (OCCURRENCES)

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    ranslated 2012 by Douglas Robertson

    shirtysleeves.blogspot.com

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    WO YOUNG PEOPLE fee into a tower, which serves as the towns deensiveortication, and ascend it without uttering a single word. Tey intend not toextinguish their silence with a betrayal and they set about their scheme withthoughtless speediness. Halway up the tower they glimpse an incalculable de-

    tail o the landscape in which the tower is situated. Te coldness o the wallscauses them to stagger upward as i through the inside o a block o ice: withmouths open and arms stretched to the ront in the idea that by means o thesehal-sincere gesticulations the distance they wish to cover might be articiallydiminished. Now it becomes evident that the girl by orce o imagination iscapable o pressing orward with greater speed than the intellectually limitedyoung man, and it is important to remark that the girl, although climbing eightor ten steps behind the young man, her lover, is in reality een or twentystep-lengths ahead o him. Te completely windowless tower is an incipienceo darkness and quite distinctly recognizable as such. When they nally reachthe top they undress and all naked into each others arms.

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    HE GIRL is sitting on a bench under an apple tree next to the ront door o acastlesque building that stands in a loy valley and that a distinguished gentle-man has discovered on one o his rambles, which is leading him rom churchto church and rom one unusual architectural structure to another. He is stand-ing perectly still behind the garden ence and is ascinated by the beauty o thegirl, who wears her hair in long pigtails. He pretends to be writing somethingin his notebook, but in act he is observing the girl uninterruptedly. He is being

    observed by the nuns who are working in the vegetable garden; but he does notnotice this. He wants to avoid destroying the tension that exists between thegirl and him; or this reason he does not step up to address her. But at a giveninstant he will introduce himsel, he thinks, and strike up a conversation withthe girl. He will relate to her the story o his travels, and connections are easilyestablished in ways like this. He will tell her about the world in which he lives.But at the moment at which he resolves to approach the girl, the girl stretches aull length stocking-swathed leg into the air and starts pulling her pigtails withboth hands. Because she cannot speak, she emits incomprehensible noises. Shekeeps tugging at her pigtails until her eyes turn dark with blood. Now the manrst becomes aware o the act that he is at the site o a madhouse, and he quitsthe site immediately without attracting any attention on the part o the nuns,who lay hold o the girl and drag her into the house.

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    HE FORY-YEAR-OLD MAN has been catching the same bus or twelveyears. As he is walking home he refects that somebody else is to blame or hisunhappiness. Not he. Even though he does not know or certain who orcedhim into the twelve-year ordeal, he utters a term o abuse against the personin question. He rounds the corner where the elder bush is shedding its leaves.Naturally he does not perceive this at all. Clamped under his arm is a well-worn briecase in which on every day o the twelve years apart rom Sundays,

    excluding vacations, he has kept his aernoon tea. As a rule he does not eat anyo it. It is eaten by the children when he gets home. At the spot where his pathdiscloses to view the house in which he lives with his amily, he raises his eyesor the rst time. He pictures to himsel his wie now setting dinner on the tableand putting their children to bed. He suddenly sees how his wie is removingher blouse and draping it over the back o the chair. She takes rom the kitchenstove a cup o coee, crumbles some white bread into it, and laps up the mix-ture with a spoon. Now he is cold and turns around and walks back along thesame path that he has just taken. He walks through the woods and goes to bedwith his mistress, who owns a one-story house with a vegetable garden. At thisinstant his wie is saying to the children: be quiet, or else the Christ Child wontbring you any presents.

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    HE CASHIER at an ironworks has married a woman eight or nine years hissenior. Shortly aer their wedding the quarrels begin. It is with a boundlessantipathy that the two o them all asleep and wake up. Eventually the wiealls gravely ill, an event that is assuredly connected to her childlessness, getsbetter time and again, but suddenly loses the power o speech and can makehersel understood only by using her hands, at home she writes everything onthe pages o a calendar: I plan to go away, or example, or Its lovely outside.

    She hates it when people eel sorry or her. Eventually she gets pains in her legsand grows quite sti. She has to be pushed around in a wheelchair. She sits onthe lookout at the window. When her husband gets home he has to wheel heroutside. Always the same stretch. Always arther. She shakes her clenched stsat him. She is always hungrier or new houses, new trees, new people. She peersout o the hood o her winter cape, looks through the gaps between the trees onthe avenue. One evening, as he is pushing her along near the curb o the side-walk, he turns the conveyance around and tips it into the abyss. She cannot cryout. Te metal conveyance splits into pieces. Tis deed is something he dreamsabout. But he will do something like this to her, he thinks.

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    HE CELLIS knows there is nothing but loathing between her and the op-eretta conductor. In spite o this every day at the same hour she slips throughthe door o his room and into his bed. Evil has taken possession o the thirty-year-old woman and the harder she attempts to end it o, the more relent-lessly the process o her destruction advances. In the attic o the conservatory

    she incessantly plays sonata movements that she plunges into or the sake otearing them to pieces. With incredible ruthlessness she starves hersel, all daylong she lies drunk in bed or the sake o pursuing her annihilation project allthe more energetically. She sells everything, is suddenly le with a single blackhigh-necked dress. Smashes to pieces her instrument, gripping its neck withboth hands. She accelerates everything. Laughs. Is silent. Aer her nal assig-nation with the conductor she sits on an artists suitcase in the squalid, gloomypassageway and weeps.

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    HE LANDED PROPRIEOR dreams that one o his laborers has been dig-ging up the earth at numerous spots on his estate, and that at every site a corpsehas been turning up. He has the laborer dig up the entire area around his house.But there is not a single spot under which a corpse does not lie. Now the landedproprietor has his entire estate dug up by a hundred laborers, but that act othe matter is that under a thin stratum o soil it is uninterruptedly covered bya thick layer o corpses. He has all the turned-up corpses, which are o all agesand both sexes, shown to him, and he remembers that he has slain them all

    with his own hands. But or all that, the ear o being killed himsel keeps himrom inorming anyone o his crime. He hits upon the idea o having the crimeor the murderer ound out. o this end he organizes a committee o govern-ment o cials whom he buys o handsomely. Only a ew days later a murdereris discovered. Although the landed proprietor knows that in this man, who isa complete unknown, he cannot possibly be dealing with the murderer, he hashim delivered to a court o law that sentences him to death. Te murderer is ex-ecuted. In this manner, the o cials discover even more murderers. Eventuallythey discover exactly as many murderers as there are murder victims. Tey areall executed and buried on the landed proprietors estate. Now the landed pro-prietor wakes up and rises. He walks into the orest in order to determine whichtrees he still has to have cut down this autumn. Tis question preoccupies himthroughout the day.

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    HE VILLAGE PRIESS SISER alls ill one day and when she is allowed toget up again people remark that the illness has aected her brain. She gets upto things that a normal person under normal circumstances never gets up toFor example while fourishing a myrtle wreath she dances through the villagesquare with her tongue sticking out, to the oended bemusement o uncompre-hending bystanders. She is also in the habit o suddenly stepping up to the altarin the middle o mass service and strewing about stemless roses out o a little

    basket. Or she will write to the bishop a letter in which she apprises him thatthe mother o God has said to her in the potato eld that she would be welcometo reside in the church itsel rom now on. Not that anybody makes un o her,people regard her anxiously, timorously. She mutters tales involuntarily. Amongthe aorementioned tales is one to the eect that when everyone in the villagewithout exception is asleep, the Redeemer walks through the square pursuedby his tormentors, without saying a word, with bleeding stigmata. One eveningshe does not show up or supper, which is partaken o in the rectory. Nobodycan nd her. First thing next morning the schoolchildren nd her ro

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