But never before has Handke gone on at such inordinate length, 480 pages, before arriving at that same old post-modern solipsisim that feels sorry for itself because it no longer believes that anything else is real, certainly no Srebrenica.Priceless. (For what it's worth, see what Handke himself has said about the "Balkan bloodlettings" here and here.)
Also in the August issue of Harper's, in the "Readings" section, is an excerpt from a 1986 interview with Thomas Bernhard, by Werner Wögerbauer. The full English version appeared in signandsight. Here is an extract (oddly, I notice that the extract is somewhat different--including some strange rearrangements--than the same bits in the full version, though the translation is the same, by Nicholas Grindell; since I saw it first in Harper's I'm putting what they have, if only because it's weird that it was so modified):
Wögerbauer: What kind of intellectual aims do you--
Bernhard: No one asks themselves that sort of thing. People don't have aims. Young people, up to twenty-three, they still fall for that. A person who has lived five decades has no aims, because there's no goal.
Wögerbauer: But when you describe yourself as a "destroyer of stories," that is a theoretical statement.
Bernhard: Well, people say a lot of things in fifty years of life. If a reporter is sitting in a restaurant somewhere and he hears you say the beef's no good, then he'll always claim you're someone who doesn't like beef, for the rest of your life. You go for a walk in the woods, and someone takes a photo of you, then for the next eighty years you're always walking in the woods. There's nothing you can do about it.
[. . .]
Wögerbauer: What, in your view, is a conversation?
Bernhard: I don't usually have them. To me people who want to have a conversation are suspect, because that raises particular expectations they're unable to satisfy. It all gets thrown in together and then one person stirs this way, the other stirs that, and an unbearable stinking turd comes out the bottom. No matter who it is. There are collected conversations, hundreds of them, books full. Entire publishing houses live off them. Like something coming out of an anus, and then it gets squashed in between book covers. It's all just for the workers at the paper factory, so they have something to do, which might make some sense. Because they have a terrible life anyway and lose all their limbs--at fifty most of them have lost a leg or five fingers. Paper machines are cruel. At least it has some meaning, the family can get something extra. I live next to two paper factories, so I know how it is. In ten years you'll see how stupid it all was. This wasn't a conversation either.