March 19, 2013

essay "The Dilemma of Being High and Dry" by Helmut Heissenbüttel

“The Dilemma of Being High and Dry”
by Helmut Heissenbüttel

a man’s high and dry and doesn’t give up hope of spotting land that’s the dilemma he’s in but he doesn’t like his cousin the water-colorist does namely color the water

the fact that he’s high and dry is a problem of a more general nature and as long as he won’t give up this prejudice he’ll tend to hallucinate banks in place of slopes sea in place of sand being all wet in place of being all dry wherever he looks he sees waterlevels and lightand-shadowreflections and wherever he listens he hears gulls creaming and sirens

he’s developed a liking for occupations like barge captain pilot sluice keeper coast guard lighthouse man and a dislike for sayings like water has no bounds keep above water on my plans made his mouth water a scoundrel of the first water

although he detest nothing more than apologies it happens now and then that looking backwards or forwards he slips up and argues in a sort of apologetic way how it has happened to him and others too namely to live in a world that you don’t see as it is but through who knows what imaginings

a somewhat complacent man in his midforties who sometimes has a depressing effect on people around him with a tendency towards portliness not unfriendly but very much reserved squinting what would he see anyway certainly not the open sea maybe coastscapes breakers piers canaland-bridgetorritory it’s got to be the watercolorist had said water back there at the end of the shor road the house which would when really be there

Translated from the German by Rosmarie Waldrop

English language copyright ©1977 by Rosmarie Waldrop. Reprinted froom Diana’s Bimonthly, ed. by Tom Ahern, Vol V, No. 3 (1977).

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