Translation Joseph Given
I was fine. I was healthy and I had money, maybe not in unbelievably high amounts, but I had it. I could afford everything I wanted to afford and even treat myself sometimes. And even if the treats were not very big treats, still they were middle-sized treats. Well, let’s say a little bit more towards the lower boundary of middle, or the upper end of low, so not at the very top. Say a bit more of a healthy distance from the upper threshhold, with just a slight tendency to the “middle”. So:
I HAD MIDDLE AMOUNTS OF MONEY. In the middle of the “low” areas. Now, I should really try to be precise about this: just as it is in the nature of money to rise and fall, so the nature of my money was maybe not really middle but more just a tad downwards, a little bit under the middle of the lower areas. And since that sounds a bit complex, you could, for the sake of simplification, also just describe it as “low”.
SO MY MONEY WAS LOW. OK. But money was somehow there, though maybe it would be more accurate to say that money as a subject was somehow there. That indeed could be said. The subject of money in my life was so completely high in the high up areas that you could say that I was full of money. It seeped out of all of my pores. Money money money money. Money flew around in my thoughts, jingling tirelessly. Everything I touched just opened up and jingled at me. Coins coins coins. Or to describe it another way: my debts had gotten smaller, had passed me by like winter passes and now the only way was up. Back up, in the sense of being on the best way up, that is in the sense of moving towards a point at which the new debts could be seen to be getting smaller. So you could say, I wasn’t going further into minus; I wasn’t in over my head as I once had been. There’d been a time I’d been swimming in minus. I can really say swimming. Crawl. Dolphin. Everything. There comes a point, you can only stay on top by doing the dolphin, you know, like, above: on top of the minus, like a paddle steamer with a flat keel. Or I’d like to put it like this: I lay like a stranded whale on a Lakeland of minus money. Or perhaps – or in fact: yes, you could also say that it was more like a sea of money, lying under it. Or maybe better: “ocean”.
So, I lay like a stranded whale, though perhaps it might be better to speak of an ocean liner or aircraft carrier, or why not just say oil rig? But oil rig maybe puts it in a bit of a favourable light. So perhaps it would be better described as – let’s say – just for the sake of it – a stranded island.
So this would seem to be my interim finding:
I LAY LIKE A STRANDED CONTINENT ON THE OCEANS OF MY MINUS.
But okay. Otherwise I was fine. The Sun was shining, and my thoughts were lighthearted. Somewhere the Sun was shining above me. Just an occasional look to check: Ahh, ok Sun – there you are and Ahh – here’s me! Yes, here’s me. So there Sun. Here me.
Good. Not really every day, only Sun. I mean, what does only Sun mean? There are some grey nuances, shades of grey, a few little darker spots, now and again a cloud, a little Cumulus-Amigo, let’s say – a white swirl, lost in the distance, on the horizon, above the gleaming land. And it’s very natural indeed of course that an occasional disturbance should cross the path of the eternal Sun – then, just for an instant, there’s a shadow, then for a moment it’s a little bit darker. A moment or maybe a short phase, a length of time, seldom anything like a short-lasting period of anything at all like the opposite of Sun. A momentary spell of cloudiness. And then it’s not quite as light and gleaming, but has a bit of a darker shade. You might even confidently say there were seldom moments that weren’t so bright, and then when the Sun breaks through again through those dark phases, then, and I have to say this, that is a joyous moment indeed, even if not always continual.
OK: I’M HAPPY, WHEN NOW AND AGAIN THE SUN BREAKS THROUGH in the grey sky which occasionally might get darker and even a little suspiciously black. In fact in some moments it’s raven black, i.e. moments in the sense that they might last a little bit longer, the raven black sky which, to be more exact, doesn’t really count as sky any more: more like muddy earth. In the eternal black there were isolated flashes of light. But they actually made everything even darker, since they didn’t give me the time I would have needed to get used to the dark. So I was constantly reminded of the fact that it didn’t really have to be dark.
OK. The result is as follows:
I LIVED UNDER A STRETCHED ETERNITY OF TOTALLY BLACK NIGHT. I WAS TRAPPED INSIDE OF A MOUNTAIN RANGE. I WAS LOCKED IN ABSOLUTE BLACKNESS. Never mind – at least it wasn’t raining. It was dry and I was bearing up pretty well in fact. You could describe my situation as follows: it was undoubtedly a little bit dark, but it wasn’t raining and with the warmth of the night wafting around me, it wasn’t all that tragic. It was OK, yeah, which of course should not imply that it was in any way really uncomfortably dusty-dry itchy. No, a few drops fell from the sky occasionally. And sometimes, being the lucky guy that I am, the occasional drop landed directly on my lip. Ah you wonderful rain, that’s the way I like it. Lips dry, alakazam, sprinkle sprinkle, drop on the lower lip. Isn’t that fine.
What maybe isn’t quite so OK is when it occasionally – though it seldom happens but it does – starts to drizzle or teem down or the monsoon comes (a very rare occurrence indeed, but if, then a little more occasionally than frequently, although, on occasion, slightly more often with a tendency to always) then the streets are transformed into canals of muddy water, and you’re wading chest deep through the floodwaters. Then there are the valves of the drains that can’t hold down the rising pressure of the water pushing up from the sewers any more, then you’re walking through sewage, inscrutably impossibly dirty and then you don‘t notice one of the open drains, the lid of which is gone, and you put your foot down and find nothing, I mean sink into mucky water – and a city, I can tell you, has a lot of muck to offer. And you sink and you sink and everywhere nothing but brown muck water full of filtrates and diverse objects, whereby that might also be things that were once alive, which you don’t really want to hear, particularly not when you’re in that situation. And you know how it is: don’t always have your oxygen with you and even if you did, it’d probably be torn off your back anyway, since the vertical pipe leading downwards down to the lower regions of hell is so narrow that you wouldn’t get through with your pressurized air on your back. So, you‘re travelling downwards without air, which of course sets limits to the length of time that your journey through the underground sewage of the city will take. Very narrow limits in fact. And I’d like to say as well: if you think about the sheer masses of water, the surface of which is being constantly whipped by additional masses of water, by the storm, then it seems to me to be like a rough description of the feeling I get when I consider the complex theme of “love”.
The phenomenon of love: the drain covers are washed off of their hinges and you sink in holes that you just can’t see because you’re up to your neck in something, and every hole holds another unfortunate soul, who either didn‘t see where they were going or just wasn’t looking. Then there’s a general flood, so to speak: a whole load of stuff floating around. A society like this one really produces an awful lot of stuff.
So that, roughly speaking, was my experience of love.
© by PeterLicht
Translation © Joseph Given