Wednesday, December 25, 2019

SILENCE IN SHAKESPEARE WHILE IN A YOUTH HOSTEL IN FLENSBURG GERMANY 24 DECEMBER 1964






2- This painting by the Danish painter Carl Vilhelm Holsoe at the Shin Gallery on Orchard Street sent me to or brought me to 55 years ago:

3- In the autumn of 1964 I was a student at University College Dublin and heard Denis Donoghue lecture on silence in Shakespeare hearing in particular the line Cordelia says in King Lear: I cannot heave/ my heart into my mouth.

4- In December I took the boat train from Dublin to London and stayed in the household of Ted Kavanagh, an Australian anarchist, whose name had been given to me by Jim Missey back in the US.  Ted ran a small anarchist bookshop, The Wooden Shoe off Charing Cross Road and I also met Sid Parker at that time in a pub that had been frequented by Dryden.  Sid was an individualist anarchist who eventually had a little magazine MINUS ONE.  

8- I learned, staying in Putney with Ted and his woman friend, of how the anarchists were imprisoned in London during World War Two and how American bombers for the most part were told not to bomb factories in Germany that had been owned by American firms... and I was told, you know, the only reason England had been at war was to protect its over-seas empire and of course the terrible things the English did in India to hold on to that place...

5- I did not stay in London for the whole holiday as I had a student flight to Copenhagen where I hoped to meet her.  

            I knew she would have blonde hair and I would...

I no longer remember how I ended up in a Lutheran student hostel in the center of Copenhagen and as this was in the days before Christmas: all the museums were closed, student restaurants were closed and I walked around for two days  and saw the mermaid near some sort of water... 

I did not know a word of Danish and decided I should go somewhere else.  I hitched out of Copenhagen, as such things were done, ending up in Kolding on the 23rd and was told the hostel was closing so I hitched a ride to the German-Danish border and walked across it on Christmas Eve to Flensburg where I found a bed in a hostel but again was told I could only stay that night as they were closing for Christmas.  

I got an orange and a bottle of Coca Cola from some sort of vending machine and read in The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald in a Penguin edition bought in London... that feeling of emptiness, alone in a building meant for hundreds... I wish now, so many years later, that I had read at the same time the essay by E. M. Cioran, "Fitzgerald The Pascalian Experience of an American Novelist."  

Only now    in 2019     do I link Donoghue's lecture to my being in that room.

Only now   in 2019       do I think that moment of aloneness sent me....       was it no accident meeting Sid Parker with whom I talked about Max Stirner whose phrase: the creative nothingness out of which everything is possible is a certain refrain within my life.

I have tried to imagine my falling asleep in that large empty room: I tried to convince myself that I heard dogs barking... but I heard nothing...


9-  The next morning, Christmas Day: bright sunlight and walking shoveled paths through big heaps of snow I went to a hotel and then to Mass at a Catholic church but the Mass was in German: a visceral real end of that distinctive use of Latin--- the end of the church universal... there were only feelings, but feelings that remained silent as no shared language... echoing later as I learned T. S. Eliot had written so many years before...

11- On the 27th I took the train to Hamburg and then on to, by way of more trains and ferries,  back in Dublin, at the Opperman's in Orwell Park Rathgar where I had a room... 

15- I was in front of Christ Church for New Year's and made my way to Rathgar on foot as the buses did not run that late ...did I have some chips at the Italian chip shop just before the village shops, I do not remember... I know I did not stop at The Manhattan as that became a stopping place later....


14- When I went back to Patchogue in early June I would have my first date with her--- the first her--- and we went to the movies and saw THE TRAIN starring Burt Lancaster at the Patchogue Theatre and in a little street before Hewlett Avenue I kissed her and heard my wrist watch ticking as I still can hear it to this moment of typing this on a very cold day in Manhattan.  This woman lives in northern Maine with her third husband and it is seven degrees there while it is 25 degrees here on East First Street. I wish I could say I heard my watch ticking in that youth hostel...

But the present moment  (already now a few days ago)

 15- The person with whom I can overcome the silence has to work late tonight at her office up in Spanish Harlem and the drive later out to Milltown to look after her 98 year old mother 





16- This essay will be finished after Midnight Mass at Presentation over on East Third Street in the early hours of the 25th. I will be there with myself, as she is in New Jersey attending to her mother and earlier in the evening I would have gone to Grace Church as they do "a beautiful celebration of carols"... but it is not a religious moment... all the words are perfectly spoken, the sermon will be witty attending to current events, money will be collected for the poor and people will be going off to fancy dinner parties afterward... After Midnight Mass, but remembering the priest's sermon centered upon the darkness of the night Jesus was born and the light that he represented... a few shops were open on Avenue A, even the dollar pizza place, but the guy in that was reciting something in Arabic and said no regular slices and went back to reciting something...

This morning is bright and sunny.







1 comment:

Pop Leibel said...

Beautiful stuff. I love this passage.