The Forsaken Place

Austria is a small world in which the great one holds its rehearsals. In the even smaller dungeon of Amstetten, the performance takes place, daily, nightly. No performance is cancelled for any reason. Even giving birth is part of the daily routine and the performance. Actually only performances can occur here. No Iron Curtain, not even iron rods, bars are needed, because we built the concrete door cast between two steel plates, this seal is tight, it holds forever, the electronic equipment also lasts especially when the batteries are nicely replaced (it must have been cast down below, that huge plug of a door, one couldn't have hauled it downstairs as a single person), bars aren't needed where concrete doors are installed, bars could allow an outlook, which, constantly crossed out, would be more than no light at all, therefore it doesn't apply at all, not one bit: beyond a thousand bars no world. Here counts the word of the Father, who's actually already Grandfather, nothing special, Fathers and Grandfathers exist in one person, the Holy Trinity does also exist, one in three persons, here we have the Grandfather, who is all persons and executes all speaking (with the exception of the television set and the radio that were permitted down there). No bars, no iron rods exist here. It isn't even possible to see through something, through which one could take a look, to see no world. To see a world is impossible from the get-go, one doesn't even see a thousand strips of world, one sees none at all. The assiduous Master also labored hard on the beautification of the dungeon. Maybe he even allowed his disgraced daughter, the mother of his second seven children (one was, 'cause dead, "disposed" in the furnace, says an officer, I don't know which one) to take part in the selection of the color of the tiles and the other furnishings, maybe he allowed her to voice her opinion, I don't think so. We always took the bargain items, no matter how they looked. Maybe one iota of power would have been relinquished by the concessionary Godfather, Godgrandfather, Electricianfather (no, he doesn't even own this concession, but he was a genius of invention, this electrical technician, like Mr. Priklopil, such a planer, a tinkerer), which possibly would have been missed by the jolly masculinity if he would have required it, however we always have access to our masculinity, therefore at any time we must have access to our femininity, equal rights for all, for instance when, in Thailand, one wants to pose gaily in front of the camera the masculinity is rather needed, and that masculinity is well kept in a small patterned bag beneath the fat belly, when one doesn't want to use it just now, preserved for the visit to one who's anointed in this little bag for the host, whose content can change, word into flesh and back into word again. And then it's dished out. Everything fits into this little bag that is hell to others, that supposedly should be heaven, a merrily colorful repository for shamelessness, surely God, Master Grandfather and Father, enjoyed taking it off. He didn't know any shame. In the tiny life-garden decorated with stickers and children's drawings (the performance, as I said, takes place instead of the rehearsal because we don't need to rehearse anymore, we know it already) he acts, he can act up how he pleases, he can upset the performance arbitrarily since it's his performance. The performance of this Grandfather-Godfather who created an idyllic space that's an art-less copy of the female body with its many niches and pathways, one can't see from everywhere into everywhere, it's not art to use something as a female body even when one doesn't have one, there're inflatable sex dolls, hollow apples, animals, etc., but it's art to create rooms designed like a woman and to decorate them with pretty patterns, a temple, merely built for the lust of the Father, ever ready, always prepared to receive the presence, which still can be a woman's body as long as it holds still. The woman (and the children are) is the only presence down there that counts. Maybe she would have forfeited her life if we wouldn't have required her still so that we could use her. He/she who isn't still, who screams, is freed and may come upstairs into the house. One doesn't want decency, the people in Austria sometimes declare when they want to avoid a scene. In public, quietude must rule when the Father doesn't have time, the emperor, the cardinal, the bishop of St. Pölten in the priest seminary where again boys were worth more than women. There was a rebellion in 1848 but not for long, and one doesn't speak about it in the '08-anniversary year, not until now. Rebellions aren't particularly popular and mostly ineffective, in 1938, the Nazis were much more popular, decency like rebellion isn't very popular here except when directed against defenseless people, then we're strong once more. What did the Chancellor say yesterday? He said, Austria should be recognized in the world for having exported and disseminated the idea of SOS-Children's Villages, get this idea out into the world, rush, rush, can't you march a bit faster?! Yet, she's already there, she hurried, the Children's Village-idea. No, the dungeon of Amstetten was no children's village, children's villages are somewhere else, even abroad, because we exported them, at least the idea, and besides three children don't constitute a village, but it was really small, that place in the cellar, that's right, any smaller and it wouldn't have worked. Everything here in Austria is a rehearsal for something later that will surely come, and evidently, freedom for the small cellar family already was planned, planned in advance. No later than this summer, the daughter would have been fetched from the invented sect and lovingly brought back into the home and the marriage bed. No later than this summer, she would have been relocated. In the long run, it would be too strenuous for Pater Familias to crawl around down there, he isn't a youngster anymore, and what if I get sick? What if I want to travel to Thailand again because I want to see another cunt and nail that one? Always the same, in the end it just doesn't work, it gets boring, not even the wife was enough and had to be replaced by his own child. Children. Cause Work. Latest at 18, they are moving out of their children's village anyway, into where they are placed if they have nobody and if nobody wants to have them (at least, I think so). The 19-year old daughter/granddaughter set herself on fire down there in the cellar, she sacrificed herself for the family. She may die, that Joan of Arch, she wasn't burned as a newborn, not just yet, that's good, so she could be burned later like a ship with which one never wants to return, she wasn't burned because we possibly will need her later to become the savior of the family. And we required her. We really were in need of her! When we will use the child, no matter for what, then it will be there. It's good that we created it at the time! Without the sacrifice of the weakest link, the only daughter/granddaughter down there (in contrast to the daughter-object for the Father, the mother of seven children, all from her own daddy, so that it stays in the family, nothing may get out, that is the first commandment here: You shall not notice. Nothing must surface, no one must emerge, for what do we have steel and concrete? Already in Natascha K.'s case the concrete stopper functioned well, it stood the test of time, so why not concrete? Don't demonize the good concrete! Concrete isn't cold, it can be quite warm, it's a solid durable material, the advertisements stress that it doesn't have to feel cold to the touch, and a person on his part is a warm, breathing - if one lets him! - material behind the concrete stoppers that trap him, inclose and exclude him, according to the will and the word of the Father, that alone counts here, that alone is valid, in the name of the Father, the Son also appears in the name, likewise the Holy Ghost, but in the name of the Father everything begins and ends, had salvation not taken place. The politicians are now afraid, since everyone was rescued who agreed to be rescued, that Austria will suffer damage to its reputation, which would be terrible. By now we don't hear the cries anymore that resounded from the cellar, because naturally we couldn't hear them at all, there weren't any cracks or gaps that would have been large enough for the screams to squeeze through if they had tried. There were only tiny slits for air. Of slits, also those of the human body, especially of female bodies, the Father is quite knowledgeable, it was he, after all, who made them. He made everything because he could make everything. Thank God. Just don't scream! Here no screams get through, not even the birthing scream of a parturient woman. Maybe after so many children one becomes a little accustomed to giving birth. Only one was kaput and then: was disposed in the furnace. Under no circumstances may we damage our reputation, and, when the damage is done, this bar may not be eaten. Austria is for so many things celebrated, cherished, appreciated, and also for all I care: coveted. The speaking of spirited, intelligent women is also part of it, although we can't hear it, but we also will pick that up besides what the Master says and what's important is what the Masters say on the telephone, to the operator of the escort service, what they say to the luxury-call-girl whose memoirs once briefly turned up in a magazine and disappeared again. Probably a lot of money was paid so that the memoirs of the luxury prostitute wouldn't be published. We don't need an appearance, we have a reality that has to be salvaged at present because it appeared so unreal in recent times, but the main issue is, it works. We also want to know what the Chief Physician, the Judge, and this Master here and that one over there, we want to know what they say when once their repute doesn't crack the public sphere but rather remains private just with oneself and with a willing, not a billing woman. If we can't hear what the Father says to the son, what the Father does with the son, I mean, what the Father says to the daughter (although: Speaking is not a necessity for wielding power, not even signs, it's enough when a small room is made available for it, at once it controls everything that is there), who is his wife because she is a woman, oh well, he can also says something to the son who lives in the cellar, oh yes, the other one too (but he is only five and he still enjoys driving in a car), when we can't hear what the Father says to his serfs, then, simply everywhere, we must hear the words of the Father, and only those count here, the public here is comprised of the words of the Father. We don't have to go into the cellar to laugh, we don't have to go into the cellar at all, except when we fetch our skis or our bikes, depending on the season, we don't have to go into the cellar, we also hear the Father supernally, we hear him everywhere, there are no restrictions whatsoever imposed on him. We are accosted by the word of the Father, when the Holy Father comes for once, then with his holy words, possibly around the clock, and then with the word for Sunday and with other words for other days. And by then already enough words were exchanged, no, dispensed, more words or sounds can't be allowed to pass through, we are full in this dungeon, what do you think, how many more people would fit in here?, we must directly add on, which is cumbersome in the cellar; but at least they weren't that high, the rooms, that namely wouldn't have worked, it isn't ok that someone walks out of here, not very high these rooms, maximum 1.70 meters, that works, no one walks out of here, and people are mostly not that tall, and with less air and light they probably grow even less. A desired effect. No one should grow beyond one's limitations, everything should stay between ourselves, we don't want to let anything come out so that they can't talk about us abroad. We like to disseminate the word of the Fathers in the channels of the fatherland, and we channel it back after we've enjoyed it adequately. Abroad, please listen to our word, to the Opera Ball and the New Year's Concert, listen to it all!, but not to our screaming! Please don't take notice of it, after all, we don't notice it either, and we must know. Though, the screaming doesn't even reach the neighbor or from the cellar into the own house upstairs.

Translated by Margarete Lamb-Faffelberger


1.5.2008 / 21.5.2008


The Forsaken Place (Im Verlassenen) © 2008 Elfriede Jelinek


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