the visions of the bored

Was die Leute nicht alles aus Langeweile treiben! Sie studieren aus Langeweile, sie beten aus Langeweile, sie verlieben, verheiraten und vermehren sich aus Langeweile und sterben endlich aus Langeweile, und – und das ist der Humor davon – alles mit den wichtigsten Gesichtern, ohne zu merken, warum, und meinen Gott weiß was dazu. Alle diese Helden, diese Genies, diese Dummköpfe, diese Heiligen, diese Sünder, diese Familienväter sind im Grunde nichts als raffinierte Müßiggänger. – Warum muß ich es gerade wissen? Warum kann ich mir nicht wichtig werden und der armen Puppe einen Frack anziehen und einen Regenschirm in die Hand geben, daß sie sehr rechtlich und sehr nützlich und sehr moralisch würde?

What don’t people do out of boredom. The study out of boredom, they pray out of boredom, they fall in love, marry and multiply out of boredom and finally they die out of boredom… and, this is the funny thing – do this all with the most important faces, without seeing, why, and God knows for what purpose. All these heros, these geniuses, these imbeciles, this saints, these sinners, this family men are fundamentally nothing more than refined loungers. But why do I know this? What can’t I take myself seriously and dress the poor doll up in a frock coat, with an umbrella in his hand, in order for it to become very proper and sober and moral? – Leonce and Lena

I began this interlude in Strassburg, 1831. Büchner, 18, arrives there in November, in time to get involved with the student greeting of the Polish hero, R. Of course, the greeting was produced not simply to show sympathy with Poland, but contempt for the former liberals who were now forming a centrist group, Since the editor of Büchner’s works first drew attention to this letter in the 1870s, it has been interpreted in ways to shed light on Büchner’s radical politics, and this has become the Leitfaden in Büchner studies – is this the young man, so ardently longed for, standing in the sun with his gun? Or is this another poseur? But I am interested in the way that Büchner, even at 18, saw double – he saw that politics was ‘important’, and he saw that it was theater – and that he cast this vision over the whole of life. Is this double vision the characteristic propositional attitude of the bored? Belief and non-belief, a binocular attitude that does not negate itself, but does not take itself ‘seriously’?


Anonymous said…
In Eins

Dreizehnter Feber. Im Herzmund
erwachtes Schibboleth. Mit dir,
de Paris. No pasarán.

Schäfchen zur Linken: er, Abadias,
der Greis aus Huesca, kam mit den Hunden
über das Feld, im Exil
stand weiß eine Wolke
menschlichen Adels, er sprach
uns das Wort in die Hand, das wir brauchten, es war
Hirten-Spanisch, darin,

im Eislicht des Kreuzers "Aurora":
die Bruderhand, winkend mit der
von den wortgroßen Augen
genommenen Binde - Petropolis, der
Unvergessenen Wanderstadt lag
auch dir toskanisch zu Herzen.

Friede den Hütten!

-Paul Celan

Anonymous said…
LI, damn I can never get anything right. So, in the above poem, No pasáran and Freide den Hütten should be in italics.

The last phrase might of course make one think of , among others, Büchner and his quoting Chamfort.

Celan was a great reader of Büchner, as is witnessed by the text he delivered, which is tellingly titled Der Meridian, on the occasion of being awarded the Büchner Prize in 1960.

I am so tempted to quote from the text but how from a text which remarks a care:
"I am coming to the end, I am coming along with my acute accent, to the end of ...Leonce und Lena, and here with the the two last words of this work, I must be careful." Celan wants to be careful in reading the last two words as Karl Emil Franzos incorrectly did in his first edition of Büchner's complete works, who read kommode [comfortable] as kommonde [coming]. But he adds, "And yet, is Leonce und Lena not full of words which smile through invisible quotation marks, which we should perhaps not call Gänsefußshen or goose feet, but rather rabbit's ears, that is something that listens, not without fear, for something beyond itself, beyond words?"


roger said…
I love the poem and the citation from Celan, who obviously knew that Buchner was quite the citationalist. Lenz - which I'm reading again - really was what Veza Canetti said, the first modern piece of prose in Europe. And that Buechner wove his work out of his material, with liberal uses of other people's quotes - that is pretty inspiring to me. The rare art of knowing how to use a quotation - Calasso, for one, obviously learned this from Buechner.