Friday, November 11, 2016

NEW MEXICO DIARY -- G (Spukhafte Fernwirkung)


Someone had done him an injustice, but Dieter or Dieter’s cogito, or whatever you want to call it, couldn’t specify the harm he had suffered. Clearly, the injury had something to do with a loss of dimension, a diminution in Dieter’s material existence – he felt as if he had once been fully rounded, robust, stuffed to overflowing in all dimensions whereas now Dieter was much circumscribed in his physical being, limited, it seemed, to a glowing point somewhere adjacent to the merest fragment of desiccated flesh, hairy on one side and bald on the other. Dieter’s cogito bitterly resented this change in his corporeal circumstances – he couldn’t get over it and harbored an intense desire for revenge. But his desire for revenge was impotent because Dieter had neither hands nor feet, nor eyes, nor tongue with which to speak and call out for help – he had been reduced to some kind of essence and, therefore, wished that he had listened more closely to the Herr Professor in his Gymnasium philosophy class: certainly, the old fellow had said something that might help him in his presently straitened situation, but, for the life of him, Dieter couldn’t recall enough about those metaphysics lectures to achieve any solace with respect to these thoughts. Nagging worries afflicted him and a vague sense of guilt and he was embarrassed that he had somehow lost his body – his flesh was misplaced and he wondered where he had left it and the more he thought about his plight, the more angry he became at the injustice of things and the more his lust for revenge flared. Unfortunately, Dieter’s yearning for vengeance expressed itself as hunger and a burning thirst – he needed an infusion of some substance into his cogito that seemed in danger of shrinking into an ember of consciousness smaller than the eye of a gnat.

Sometimes, he smelled a sweet odor, tobacco burning, it seemed, almost as if a cigar were being smoked in his presence. He smelled this with his not-nose, not so much detecting the odor with his senses, but, rather, feeling the burning tobacco (and sage) as a kind of moral category, as a motion in his soul. He heard words spoken in a language that was most definitely not German, a kind of chant, also perceived not with his ears, since he no longer possessed that apparatus, but as another kind of fixed idea, an obsessional tendency in his cogito. Then, for a moment, his raging hunger was assuaged; he was no longer thirsty. A kind of moist, refreshing gruel seeped through the pores in his mind – Dieter felt gratitude and a sense of well-being and, then, he seemed to sleep for a time.

Did Dieter dream? Perhaps. He recalled the old town in Saxony where he had been raised, school-boy pranks, a ramble in the woods, Einsamkeit, certain lines from Goethe and Schiller, a girl in a white blouse that he had admired from afar, too shy to speak to her. He recalled the Christ child in His cradle, a Tannenbaum, some hymns fluttering in the air, half-heard among the cold December winds. Anger roused him from these pleasant memories. He had to be fed again. His slim and flimsy cogito twisted into a Moebius ring and his thoughts looped around and around: there were snipers in the trees someone said: snipers in the trees although how could this be since the trees were barren, leafless, and a sniper hiding in a tree would not be hidden at all? The intelligence was all wrong. Aus der Traum – this was the end: bomb-blasts against the horizon, a Himmelsfahrtskommando against the Ami who had snipers hoisted high into the trees – how could this be since the trees were leafless and a sniper hiding in a tree would not be hidden at all? Intelligence had this wrong. Dieter’s boots crushed down the snow which made a creaking sound underfoot. Somewhere the sap in a tree caused it to burst hurling wood shrapnel in all directions. Behind the advancing column, the tank floundered, gone mad, apparently, turret spinning aimlessly side-to-side. There were snipers in the trees someone said and, then, the Gefreiter standing at the head of the column went down, a torch of blood spraying out of him. Snipers in trees and a flash-bang and, then, Dieter wondered whether it could have been otherwise, had there been some other way out of the labyrinth. His rage increased and so he was ravenously hungry and thirsty although this was odd because he had neither mouth nor gullet nor belly. Then, someone whispered to him in an ingratiating tone, words in a language that didn’t recognize, and he was suffused with watery gruel and felt the tobacco as an inflection in the gruel and this dissolved his wrath for a time so that he fell asleep once more...

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