some days are better than none
Austerlitz (An imitation of W. G. Sebald’s novel Austerlitz)
Austerlitz, I said to him, here are her rooms, here is where she studied, here are her things. I wouldn’t speak to you anymore, you are so old, your shoes are so old, your overcoat is so old. Your eyes are so old, because of the eyes in front of them they are so worn, your eyes are old. There is no fire in them anymore, anymore. The things that I brought to you, in the middle of the room, have been there for years. You do not look at them, because of the rain you do not look at them. Because of the sun you do not look at them. You do not look at them. Austerlitz, I said to him, do not speak. You no longer understand what it is to make something. To live. To suffer. The eyes, Austerlitz, are no longer what they used to be. Winter, winter. You cannot bring them up to the horizon, they are so heavy. They are ugly, now. With such dim sadness, that I cannot remember them, even if I looked at them, again and again. Austerlitz, you have to remember, that I spoke to you yesterday like this, and you did not hear me, you’re insignificant, you’re insignificant! THAT MEANS, that you’re hearing and hearing, the sound of the rain, outside, but you don’t know, what it is, what the silence is… What the silence is… What the echo… And the mourning… Deep, dark, mourning, depths of which there is no tomorrow, depths and darkness, lower and lower… I mourn, Austerlitz, I mourn, because I am still human, because I still breathe, my heart hurts me, Austerlitz, now and then, now and again, I think I am growing old, you see. I have to mourn for my humanity, Austerlitz, because it is still there, and it is dying, and I have to keep it there, as I die. Dying, Austerlitz, dying, and the rooms that they have there, such solemn rooms, such silence and music, hymns, and death’s silence, papers of silence, of echo, and echo… Then I remember back to my younger days, Austerlitz, I remember France, the meadows of France, the sun-suffused meadows of France, the sun, France, and the rain… In the old days, Austerlitz, they raised these battlements and fortresses around places such as Saint Etienne and Montpellier, because the French, their generals, who saw that the Belgians were crushing them, were crushing the soldiers with their new weapons, they then became resolute and built these fortresses, located here, and here, (points with his fingers) in an attempt to endure it all, so that they won’t be penetrated, so that the French battle would go on, so that their line would be pushed forth, the line, the line, the belief in a victory, which would be for France, for France. Let’s take a look at France, Austerlitz, and its history, its wars, and, like we said, its battlements and fortresses, and how they were built, the entanglements that they were, the entanglements, and all the thought that went into their plans, how to strategize this way and this way, the minds that went into this and this, and the general plan, the plan… And when we came out of it, Austerlitz, we were hopeful, although you would never know such a thing, (you and your indomitable shoulders) we knew that we couldn’t bear the weight of time, or history, (or its own fortresses), but we hoped France would stand somewhat unerringly, always, forever, under its own proud landscapes and monuments, and live forever, so that we ourselves may live forever… And then there is you, Austerlitz, you and your unspeakable mouth, your tears that we won’t pity, what is the place that you have in your own land? What is it that you want to think, or fear? You want to say something Austerlitz, but your voice is as hoarse as the desert, and your words are trembling to the rain. What place do you have? In the universe, on the planet, things we wouldn’t mention or speak of, the deep dark shells of the voiceless past, some tenderness of things, or the lack of tomorrow, a future. You can look to me Austerlitz and not find what you’re looking for, a smile or a laugh, I will not be careless with you, because you know what you are, the sadness that surrounds your life. You are almost blind, Austerlitz, because of your age… It’s been sixty years, sixty years, Austerlitz, sixty years of waiting, by the fire, the days passed like rain, falling onto the rivers, you don’t know yourself anymore, looking into the mirror, your hair growing grayer, your daughters growing up to be like yourself, what widowers they are, the mirrors could not find them, what distances they are, moving farther and farther away... And there was nothing in here, Austerlitz, for you to sit down on, to speak of, the endlessly dim places, no one to revere, always, your music… To speak of, Austerlitz, eulogizing this person and that person, as the mist falls, in the morning you were always struck by the aura of dawn, as it falls, endlessly you seek the forgiveness, of the people who pass by, silently you seek the faces of the drab helpless ones… Because it was always the color of the dawn, that defines who you were, the war that you were, the war inside you, and the remote distances of your eyes, that are dim now, nothing happens to you anymore Austerlitz, but you were once my friend… You go, Austerlitz, away to a place of no answers, where the illimitable faces and tears, and I crying, and you not saying a word… Do you not want to say something, Austerlitz? To my laughter, as you speak, to my laughing voice you do not always utter something, a word, to my nightmares and dreamsongs you were always silent, withstanding. It is forever you, and you are the road Austerlitz, and where you go, and when you speak, there is always someone listening, watching, paying attention to your larger-than-normal eyes, the shape of your mouth, how you go through life, with less than commotion, with less than care. We don’t know how it has been for you, but we do know that there is a time in which all the things that were reaped fall, and you were with us there, in the difference, looking at us. We did not have words enough to describe, the indescribable, ourselves, and then the endless distance that unfolded… In the mirror of now and then, of now and then, looking into the far side of now and then, Austerlitz, Austerlitz! Wake up! There is music! Your music! How is it, how is it, your music is in the playgrounds and the theatres! We don’t know how it’s been spread, we don’t know, but it’s playing outside! The solemnity of it! How heavy it is! And then I go on and on, Austerlitz, on and on and no one hears me, in the empty rooms, the hallways, the arches, where there is no forgiveness, still, (forgiveness and rain) and no absolution, some laughter, but not real laughter, either, but careless, cavernous mouths, closed doors, hidden paths… And what were you saying, about how there is no tenderness anymore; and weak music, and inebriated glances… Austerlitz, you have not gotten to live this whole life. And do you remember the rooms, the hallways, the windows, and the streets… You have broken the careless spaces, the lights, and the hands… You have nothing of ours, but we remember you such as when we remember the faded pages, such as those we remember, when we remember, the hopelessness, and the tears…
You have been laid to rest, Austerlitz, may you settle in the fields.
(After this) What will the rain be like tomorrow? Will there be the clouds?
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