So one year ago, not exactly one year, but more or less, God don’t start counting the days, ok it was early May 2018, 9th, or 10th, I don’t know – anyway, Scottish musician Scott Hutchison died a year ago by his own hand, or by his own volition anyway, he was found, after people looked for him for a while, floating in the River Forth, the latter being a river near/in Stirling, Scotland, and he was found there, dead, after a well documented struggle with depression, his band’s fifth album having come out recently, anyway, so they were doing a tenth anniversary tour of their album The Midnight Organ, and song #13 on that album is called Floating in the Forth, and is about suicide, let me quote it: “And fully clothed, I float away / (I’ll float away) / Down the Forth, into the sea / I think I’ll save suicide for another day” (oh yeah that worked out a-ok), I mean, if you’re thinking I used the word “floating” in describing his suicide because of the song, you’re not wrong, you know, but what else was I going to say: he was found drowned, puffed up, buoyant, drifting, bobbing, I mean of course I am going to say “floating” – it is the most fitting word here given the musical antecedent and this is always creepy, right, like an announcement, then again, ten years is a long time for an announcement, so maybe the anniversary tour was a reminder, sometimes we really don’t need reminders of our worst instincts, and anyway so I was looking at my first collection of poetry, because, you know, I don’t write poems like that any more really, I’m working on distance and structure more, but there is a lot of very direct unvarnished depression in my first book and I was looking at it and wondering whether if something happens to me and I am the miscreant who had done the happening, whether someone could look at the book and think, huh, lookit this poem this sounds a lot like what happened and what would it mean I mean I don’t think i am that person any more, but maybe at the end of the day that person is like Schwartz’s heavy bear who walks with me and I will never get rid of them and then some day, someone will look at the book and say, huh, will you look at this, he predicted it, I mean what if I suicide Nostradamus, you know.
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So I wrote three short pieces for the Battersea Review and would be interested to hear your opinion. You can read them here. Here is the conclusion of Letter 1, maybe it convinces you to click on the above link
If we accept—and we should not—the argument put forth by Lehman and others, that Paul de Man was attracted to theories that exculpated him of the fine grained details of his own history, then the contrast to Jauss could not be greater, since he wrote criticism profoundly committed to history and the repeated connection and re-assessment of historical texts. While it changes nothing about the dreadful details of his wartime actions, it provides us as readers and citizens born in more fortunate times with the tools to better understand the texts of our past, even the most awful ones. With Gadamer, Jauss echoes Faulkner when he postulates that we can only understand texts of the past when we connect them to the present, when we merge our expectations as readers with those of readers contemporary to the texts. The present and the past are not isolated, they are inseparable. For all the outcries of Jauss defenders last year, as a reader of his work one suspects that Jauss would not have protested quite as vocally. He knew the score. In Germany, the past is never dead. It is not even past.