Moments after posting my thoughts on Peter Handke's Across, I noticed this post at Spurious (just prior to the one I linked to in my previous post):
Callers to order: Handke's phrase, or the phrase he allows his narrator, in Across, the book I would like to say is his purest. What happens? Read critical works, and they'll tell you there was a murder. It's true, of course: the narrator happens on a man scrawling a swastika into a tree. He kills him with one blow and throws him over a cliff.I avoided mentioning the murder explicitly in my post, in part to not give it away (as if plot is the point here, but still), but also to not draw too much attention to it as murder. It was an action, in response to a disruption, and he took steps to restore order. But then he must restore order within himself, even if he does not feel "guilt" per se.
But that murder is like the one Handke allows his narrator to imagine in On a Dark Night, who longs to topple cyclists from their mountain bikes: it is part of an order of things, an order of walking, of the natural world, of meditative noticing.
Gloriously Handkean; he needs, one presumes, to revive this sense of order every time he writes. He needs to be called to order. But then Loser, of Across, is called away from his work by those callers (what are they? certain objects - archeological remnants).
I still await the first daddy long legs of the summer, remembering how Loser calls them creatures of the threshold. And Across, the whole book, which I have not reread and do not have near me, but that lives on in me, inhabiting me, is all threshold, all plateau: the book between, the book steered gently by the same wind that ruffles the pages of all Handke's fiction. The wind at the back of the walker, the wanderer, who has as his enemy the cyclist and the fascist.
Labels: Peter Handke