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Richard Watts

Photo: Imke Scholvin-Watts
Email Richard Watts

I am Huckleberry Finn
dressed in tux
walking through Disneyland
reciting the Odyssey
from a comic book.

Ich bin Huckleberry Finn
trage einen Smoking
gehe durch Disneyland
und rezitiere die Odyssee
aus einem Comic-Heft.

Auf der rechten Seite: Artikel der Kieler Nachrichten vom 06.02.03
Thanx Jörg Meyer

May 2003, Richard Watts in Anis Online Debate:

Über Gewalt, Gewaltlosigkeit, Nicht-Reaktion und Liebe / On Violence, Nonviolence, No-Response, and Love

(Anis' Vorwort am 29.05.02) Richard Watts ist mir vor etwa drei Jahren zum ersten Mal begegnet, irgendwo am Rande des Kieler Literaturbetriebs. Schon manches Mal ging es in unserer Freundschaft hin und her, und jedesmal sind wir dabei der Welt des anderen näher gekommen, denn wir sehen das Leben ganz ähnlich. Wir schaffen uns beide unsere eigenen Mythen. Unabhängig voneinander kamen wir zum selben Ergebnis, was den Sinn des Lebens betrifft.

Richard hat viel mehr Lebenserfahrung als ich. Er kommt aus Kalifornien und hat als Kinderdarsteller in Hollywood gearbeitet. Er hat die 60er-Jahre in Kalifornien erlebt. Als er vor einigen Jahren nach Kiel kam, hat er große Teile seines Werkes zurückgelassen, vor allem seine Bilder. Er hat sich vom Materialismus sehr weit befreit. Was sein vorliegendes Werk angeht, so beginne ich erst, es in seiner Komplexität und Tiefe wahrnehmen zu können. Derzeit arbeitet er an verschiedenen Projekten: Einem fünfstündigen Film und einem Roman mit dem Titel "Am" zum Beispiel. Er schrieb auch Kurzgeschichten und eine Anthologie mit dem Titel: "Richard Watts reads at Galerie Asia Occident selected poems, 1999", aus der ich einige Gedichte unten vorstelle, zum Teil mit deutschen Übersetzungen.

(Anis' Introduction on 29 May 2002) The first time I met Richard Watts was about three years ago somewhere in the periphery of the literary community of Kiel. Our friendship sometimes went through conflicts, and every time we managed to come closer to the world of the other, because we view life very similarly. We both create our own myths. Independently from each other we came to the same conclusions about the meaning of life.

Richard is much more experienced in life than I am. He is from California and as a child acted in Hollywood movies. He experienced the 60s in California. When he came to Kiel a couple of years ago, he left great parts of his work behind, most of all his paintings. He freed himself very much from materialism. Concerning his oeuvre, I am just at the beginning of understanding its complexity and depth. He is currently working on different projects: a five-hour movie and a novel called "Am", for example. He also has short stories and an anthology called "Richard Watts reads at Galerie Asia Occident selected poems, 1999", out of which I present some poems below, partly with German translations.


Under the skins of stars
We lay in the snow warm and safe.
My woman smiles
She is with child
I write a name in the snow.

The animals in the woods are alive,
Now that hunters migrate to the moon.


Unter den Häuten von Sternen
liegen wir warm und sicher im Schnee.
Meine Frau lächelt
Sie hat im Körper ein Kind
Ich schreibe einen Namen in den Schnee.

Die Tiere im Wald sind lebendig,
Jetzt, wo Jäger zum Mond hin ziehen.







for Terry Rubin

I shall collect: stones shells flowers
creating a circle before your door.

I give you all that I possess:
my taste, sight, smell, hearing, touch, intellect.

How round the sun or moon or peach
before your door; sit; unlock the door
eat, dream, grow.

I collect: stones shells flowers
shaping before your door a circle,
not one of blood, of cage, or coffin

but one: where blackbird smelling sunflowers sits,
silent quick movement of ant stirs butterfly,
earth opens eye to reflect branches of oak;
simply, a circle containing everything I possess.

These stones shells flowers
circling standing sitting before your door
conjure: dreams fantasy delight;
therefore simply close your eyes

I give you all that I possess;
simply close your eyes
I give you all I can;
simply close your eyes; feel:
my taste, my smell, my hearing,
my sight, my touch, my intellect.;

Page 2
Content of this page:

- On Creative People (May 2004)
- Mr. Dow (April 2004)
- An Invitation to a Human (Nov. 25, 2002)
- Father Poem
- Vater (Dt. Übersetzung, November 2002)

Photo: Imke Scholvin-Watts
On Creative People

Coke: How many creative people have you met?
Richard: It is impossible to answer that question...I have met many many creative people over the years. Some like: Johanna Stuckey, a university professor and one of the leading Feminist in Canada; Syd Shano and Minvera Herzog artists; Barry Cutler actor; just to name a few who have had great impact upon my life. But there have been so many creative people in my life some famous and well-known and others totally unknown but equally creative. Perhaps the greatest mistake a social order makes is to define a person`s creative worth in terms of how famous or well-known that person might be...truely some of the more creative individuals I have encounter have been those who were totally unknown within their own social order. Just simple people who valued the gift of creativity they possessed and simply went about the creative act with focus and joy. These simple unknown souls who simply create and care nothing about fame, these are the lucky ones, because any one who has had any level of fame realizes very quickly that fame does allow one to be totally free in the creative process....fame puts such limits upon an individual...one`s private life is no longer private...and one must always be concerned about what people think...even these artists who we think of as rebels within the social order...are infact trapped within the myth-character structure of the rebel...there is no room for this artist to grow...he/she must always remain within the limits and defination that fame has put upon them...and this is one of the reasons that so many artist within the fame structure of reality are in the end self-destructive...it is true that you can also be totally unknown and find yourself on a destructive path but in many of those cases it is discovered that these individuals are destructive because they have not attain this level of fame that they think is desireable...and so they are caught in this myth-character structure of wanting to be famous...many unknown artist suffer from this...these are artist in the end that have never asked themselves the simple question: what is this creative process that I am part of it? these artist lack the Philosophy-of- Asking that is so important if one is to follow the creative path. In the end to be able to put paint on canvas...or to structure a series of words in such a way that a poem is reveal or a novel or a play ...this is not in the end enough...the true creative individual is someone who realizes that the creative process is a path, a path that leads to self-knowledge...and that this path to self-awareness has nothing at all to do with fame or forture...this type of artist understands that the creative process is simply a tool that allows one to finally open himself/herself to the celebration of life....in the end the true creative spirit not only has no interest in fame or forture, but experiences these two elements of reality as a form of limitation, a distraction, if you will, against the true purpose. The creative spirit needs annonymity, if you will; because in the end the creative act is a solitary communication with one`s own inner nature...or soul if you prefer. This is why, in a way, schools: on writing, painting etc; are so destructive to the pure creative flame...because though it shows one how to construct the wheel in a way that the wheel does not have to be constructed again from scratch, it also at the same time, tells one that the construction of the wheel is the only way that reality can be viewed, and in so doing does not allow the creative spirit the freedom that is necessary for that pure jump into unknown space....most artist that emerge from an art school will produce something that is pure in structure and design, but in most cases there is always something missing from these art works...and that is the soul that is so un-defined and mysterous in its very nature that there is no logical way to explain it and yet we all can experience the spiritual sublime reality when we come cross it within a tree, flower, poem or painting....Nathaniel Hawthorne, the america writer, taught the reader that beauty can not exist without at least one flaw...one blemish upon the pure beauty of a woman`s face...and it is this...this is what the art schools of the world fail to communicate to their students...that pure structure and design is not enough. You must understand yourself on such a sublime level of reality that, within the poem or the painting, the human flaw can emerge....and how one is to be conscious of the necessary of including the blemish that allowes the pure beauty of the object to finally realize itself...?...this simple bit of technique, of course, is never talked about or explored in the schools (of creativity ), because the flaw or blemish can only be explored within the soul, and there is no history upon which one can claim to possess in terms of exploring the unknown areas of the soul...there is no map that one can follow...no text books one can read upon how the human soul can be explored; how this "blemish" can be extracted like gold from the inner realms of the soul...each time one decends into the illumination and darkness of one`s own soul...the experience is different...never the same...nor are the demons or angels one encounters in the inner realms of one soul always the same...for each journey into the soul is a journey into the totally unknown area of the Self...and the only tools that one is allow to bring with them, are the tools of: courage and the knowledge that both the demons and angels are very real. The necessary blemish ....the logic that saids that 2 and 2 equals to 5....( long live Dostoevsky ! ) the unknown equation that is necessary to bring a painting or poem to life...or any creative act for that matter...this necessary blemish....is brought to the painting or poem through the sublime translation of the unconscious. There is no way to control the experience. The creative process does not allow for control, on the contrary, one must surrender oneself completely to the process...give up all sense of control...if one ever hopes to fully be in control. After the profound meditation with the soul, the painting or poem (whatever ) either possess the blemish or it does not. The only tools that the pure creative individual needs is: Courage; Curiosity; And the profound awareness that the only true purpose to existence is to ask the simple question (: why do I exist?) with the full knowledge that the question can never be answered. The true creative person carries these three simple tools with her/him everywhere...even into the darkist and deficient realms of their own being;...even into the illumination of their own beauty...And within these realms,.among the chattering of demons and angels these creative people seek the sacred silence of annoymity ....because they realize that only in silence can one hear the rhythm and song of the human soul. The others...those, who the social order have defined as creative and there fore imprison, behind the walls of fame and forture ...or those others who, live in annoymity but, seek and desire the chains of fame and forture,...these indivudals.... will discover in time that they have watered down the creative flame until all that remains is: repetition and ashes; and only suicide, history and mythology await them. In the end it is annoymity and not fame that the true creative person seeks. This is why in the end those who possess the creative flame that burns the brightest are always outside of the social order and almost never found within the structure. In the end it always comes down to a matter of choice. Does it not?
(May 2004)

Mr. Dow

When first Barry and Gloria asked me to write something that could be read here tonight, I experienced a deep sense of fear. I knew that it would be impossible for me to speak of my love for you, Mr Dow, and how you have influenced my life. The complexity of the human soul...the fluidity of it all...is beyond the realm of human language ( even Shakesperian language...forgive me for I know how you love this man..but it is so ...and I know in my heart he would be the first to speak of it ) and so how do I, without that type of clarity that he possessed, dare even enter into this question...this question of how one singular soul, a soul so singular in its nature that by its very life force has entered the souls of so many and... and in so doing... altered their structure ...how do I dare speak of this...this...this simple thing... when your consciousness immersed itself within my own and my soul emerged itself within your soul and the path I would follow for Self-Knowledge would be altered forever. It may seem as if my language is too stronge for such a humble occasion...and perhaps you may feel embarrassed by my words...it is a human weakness to not be able to accept or ackowledge the heroic nature of our being....it is possible that you do not see yourself as the hero upon the stage of life....or might even take as offensive that I should suggest that my soul in darkness could emerge itself within your own and find comfort; and yet it is fact, as I experience this life reality...that your soul is so large, Mr Dow,....a living musical realm of strength and wisdom,... and you are responsible...are you not, Mr Dow, ...for the effect your consciousness...your whole being has upon others...and least we forget...I am struggling to use words to convey your effect upon me...and though I am not up to such a translation of the soul...and everything I have said up to this point is hollow compared to mine love for you....nevertheless...be gentle... be generous...and accept this awkwardness from me...it is my own...it is my love for you!...I see the living process as Dante I suspect viewed upon it...we are heroes all of us ( we all face the demons of: despair, self-doubt, etc etc etc; and many times they over come us because we do not see these demons for what they are ...nor do we experience ourselves as hero slaying them...yet all great poets in history speak simply upon this subject...do they not ...King Arthur, Beowulf, etc ) ....though most of us deny it...and living in that denial...we stamp out the creative flame within us...but there are those...who possess such strength in purpose and design... so focused...so completely within the living process... that even they can not deny themselves to look upon their own creative flame with joy ....though they may not be evolved enough to allow themselves to see their own heroic nature....it can not be denied if one looks around this room....that each one of these living souls that have come to honor and reveal their love to you, Mr Dow, ...that each one of us...is but a reflection of a fragment of your consciousness materialize in the physical. You are a poem of epic degree...you have slayed the demons, demons that only you yourself know...( we all have our own demons...do we not ) and not only have you survived these demons but you have grown stronger in the process. You live with such great spirit and conviction that the mere thought of you living on this planet brings joy and laughter to the inner realms of my own being....and I am reminded again what it means to be a human being.
We sit here now...because of you. It is like a Kurosawa film...each of us ...bring, to this gathering of love, a tale of how your life-force has altered the path that each of us are on towards Self-Knowledge. There is no other true puprose in the living process but to seek Self-Knowledge...and everything we encounter and everyone we encounter helps us along that path...but there are some individuals who`s imprint upon our lives is so pure that it`s lasting effect remains with us up and beyond that finite moment of transformation when our consciousness slips from the known into the realm of the unknown. We sit here now to honor you...but if the truth be known...it is you who honor us:...you give us the gift of your life-force...you give us the gift of your curiosity,... you show to us that all things are possible...that age has no power but only the power that we give it,... you give us the gift of knowledge...the knowledge that creativity has nothing to do with money or fame...or power...but only with the celebration of life...perhaps there are some of us in this room who have forgotten that simple truth...who feel despair...because they are getting older...and have not yet gotten the fame, or money or ect, etc etc, ...that they had hoped to get in their youth...for the very young rarely ask the necessary questions: ...what does my creativity really mean?...why and for what purpose am I creative?...and is this creativity mine along?...and so it is interesting to note, is it not, that there are so many creative people found among the young...and somewhat less found among those in their thirties, and some what less found among those in their forties...and even less so ...in their fifties...and how very few there are remaining in their sixties...and beyond...will...how few...and yet you...you remind us...in your eighties, you remind us, Mr.Dow what the pure purpose of creativity is ...and that is simply to create ...and in so doing...allow the creativity within us...to bring us to a consciousness...where one can see...like standing on the top of a mountain...that the simple purpose of all life is celebration...to celebrate one`s own experience...to celebration the very fact that we are conscious living forms, existing in a cosmic reality that is a total mystery to us. I have known creative individuals who when they reach their sixtith birthday...deny their creativity and sink into the darkness of despair. (And they do not fight against this demon called despair like a hero...because they do not see themselves in heroic terms neither consciously nor un-consciously...but view themselves only as simple victims of a kind ) One woman comes to mind...who no longer paints but sits in her small rooms and suffers;...and a few years back when she was still painting I asked her how she measured success and she replied "when I give a show...I must have at least one hundred people at the show...or it is a failure..." it did not come as a suprise to me when a few weeks ago I saw her on the street and she said to me:" I no longer paint". She is my age...almost sixty-two years of age...and it is unlikely she will paint again...but if she does...I believe it will be because she has finally understood one simple fact about the creative process...to create is it`s own reward. This simple knowledge is what on some un-conscious level I sensed about, you, Mr. Dow on that first night that we came together. There is something....about his (... your ) voice...a tonality of conviction...that on that first summer night years ago...spoke to me....and altered my path. Consciously or unconsciously you knew...I suspect, always knew that you are a hero upon the stage of life. You knew Mr. Dow, that the creative process is its own reward. And your conviction to the truth whether that be: theatre, painting, self-knowledge, Shakespear etc...your convicton to the reality of truth altered my life. If you had asked me to speak of it on that night I could not have...I was only twenty-three and not yet to the edge of language...but his voice, your voice, Mr. Dow, ...your voice entered my consciousness and memory forever on that summer night. In this Kurosawa aspect of reality, we each come to this man and declare our love for him...in our own style and fashion, but I can not attempt to do so without at least revealing some small fragments of my life before that summer night. I celebrated my nineteen birthday on a small island one hundred and fifty miles off the Siberian coast in the Bering straits...I was one of five hundred young men who spend a year listening in upon the russians...and after that year I spend three years living in England and seeing my first Shakespearian play at Stratford-upon-Avon...perhaps it was that experience of Shakespear in England that finally brought me to that summer class that Mr. Dow was giving...or perhaps it was simply, after having left the Air Force a few months before, I found myself completely lost...I am not sure now...what brought me to that class. But there I was...and there he was...and here we are now. To speak the truth...he frightened me somewhat...it was that voice you see...if I were to speak to him or ask him a question...or even if he would simply say hello to me...I would experience this moment as a prize frighter might in some Heavy weight fight... his voice would hit me like a Joe Lewis punch. But slowly I sensed the irony and subtle gentleness that danced within the tonality of his voice, and though it still can frighten me at times, this voice, your voice...it is with a sense of wonder and awe that I experience this fear....sometimes even with a smile, when I can not help but ask myself...was he born with such a voice, and if so how he must have taken his mother totally unaware. Can one be taught to speak with such a pure sense of conviction and purpose...as he possess'. Though I speak of his voice creating a sense of fear within me..fear is never stronger than arrogance....and there is nothing stronger in the world than the arrogance of youth. So though he frightened me ...this Mr. Dow...the fear did not over come my own arrogance when I received my Shakespearian class grade and found to my bitter disappointment that it was a C ...this fear, I speak, was not stronger than the arrogance I possessed and so it is not surpising to me that I would create what followed next though I am sure it took Mr. Dow totally un-aware.......when on one sunday summer morning...he received a telephoned call from me...demanding that he correct this mistake...and change my grade from a C to at least a B. He listened...simply disagreed...and I am sure when he put down the phone he was thankful...that summer was over...and he was done with me. But, of course, arrogance knows no boundaries...and on the morning of the first day of the winter semester, as Mr. Dow began to look the class over...there he found me...sitting right in front of him. When his next class began...and he looked upon the students to his surprise...there I was again...and so it went with each of his classes...for I had decided to alter my studies...and every class he taught he found me in...and this is how it all began really...I still see him on that summer night under the moon...directing the actors upon the stage...a voice in the darkness...a voice with the power to illuminate a human soul...my soul.
I would spend the next year and half in Mr Dow`s classes. It was a rare and wonderful experience that year and half. Mr.Dow`s theatre was my home.
Mr. Dow, you gave me your love for theatre, your love for Shakespear....and though my own path to Self-Knowledge did not allow me to experience you daily after I left your classes....you never left my soul...my whole being...my memory nor my thoughts....on that day when I sat down to begin my journey with you...that winter day...when I immersed myself in the joy and love you have for theatre...on that day...I knew my love for you...I knew even than that you were special to my own experience...though I lacked the language and the courage to have said such things to you back than...I now possess that courage...I love you Mr. Dow....I love you with my whole being....I can not explain this love...any more than I can explain....what the universe might mean....but as the universe...as time and space does exist...so does my love for you ...my deep respect for you...my awareness...that you have the courage to create ...the courage to live life fully...I honor you ...as you ..with your whole being...your whole life force ...give honor ...and definition to what it means to be a human being.
I love you Mr. Dow....Eugene....
I know my language fails to convey my love for you...but perhaps if you sit silent for a moment...you can hear my soul speaking this love to you...
for in those silent moments that surround you...
my love for you can best be found
not in human language but in the silence of the soul
Richard Watts

(April 2004)

An Invitation to a Human

As I live I create a process of the Self and within this Self, a philosophy and this philosophy evolves into a way of life. We all do this, do we not? What has become obvious to me over the years is that the roots of this Living Process of Self can be found in the Celebration of the Creative Spirit that I know exist within my Being and the Beings of Others whom I refer to as Human Beings.
Everyone is creative but most deny their creativity. They have forgotten what they knew as children. But the Human Being never denies the child within and never denies the Creative Flame that burns within and illuminates the very soul. It is this CREATIVE SPIRIT, that still remains within us, to whom I speak now. Those individuals, who have murdered the child within, who have put out their own Creative Flame, who have denied their very essences...I say simply...do not expect to understand my words here or the meaning behind my words, it is not possible, for one must possess the heart and openness of a child in order to hear and understand my words, and catch my meaning. It has nothing to do with the language, because the language of the heart belongs to all of us.
As I have said I found over years that the true calling of my life was to celebrate the Creative Spirit found within myself. However, it is not enough, as I experience life, to celebrate one`s own creativity, one must of course do that, but for me, I must go beyond that and celebrate the creative process ( energy ...call it what you well ) when I discover it in others...those others I call Human Beings. And as I live my long life I have discovered a most wonderful and profound truth that the Creative Process can be discovered in the most un-likely places, if only one has: the eares, eyes, soul, and awareness to experience it. This now brings me to a unique Human, ...Coke.
Coke is simply just Human, what other word can I use to describe him. And to be simply just Human ...that is not easy....one must have the courage to stand naked in the world ...to reveal one`s Self completely without the common mask that most wear. He is an odd, simple, complex Human as all Humans are, as I experience what it means to be Human. He is honest about himself above everything else. Humans are difficult to find. Over the course of my long life I have found a few Humans. And I am over-joyed that I have found that many! You understand, it is not just that he possesses the creative spirit, there are many who possess the creative spirit ...( but not all ....have the courage to give us ...themselves....open, naked...innocent...as we were all able to do when we were children. No, many creative human beings still cover themselves up...hide ...wear an sortment of masks....they remain important to the world one can not deny that ...we need the creative human being in whatever form they want to present themselves...but I am speaking now of another type of Human...a Human who has within him the creative spirit...a spirit that is like an eternal flame...a flame that illuminates not only his inner world, but is so bright and pure ...so innocent ...like that of a child ...that he allows us all to see ..... him ...without any form of protection....he just gives us ....him ...every moment of the day and night ...we are able to see ...something rare ...a human being without a mask or a disguise. This is to me what is Human. To stand in the world, and just BE. To be: to be complex...to be simple...to be even odd ...to simply be one`s Self. Coke is such an individual for me.
What are the facts....the simple ...every day facts about Coke. When I first met him he was selling comics behind a counter. All of those who know and love comics know him. But I soon realized that he was more than the Comic man, more than just someone behind a counter. I felt his creative fire ...I felt the pure energy of his heart, and soon discovered simple facts about his life. He made three minute films and every week they were shown as part of the weeks program on the Offener Kanel here in Kiel. All of this is by way of bringing me to the purpose of why I am speaking now within my room. A room that Anis ...pure as an angel ...has given me ...this room allows my Spirit to fly through the wonder of the Inter_Net ...enter the realms ...the pure consciousness ...of Others. ( ah! THANK YOU ANIS... I LOVE YOU SO ). But let me come back to my purpose ...to Coke ... because it is of Coke that I now want ...to invite you to something special.
Coke has turned his creative energy into comedy. But he is not any ordinary comic, he will enter that stage as he enters life without wearing any mask...and there is no promise of a happy ending to his comic act ...amusing...maybe ...or maybe ...maybe one will be caught between laughter and tears...because he will stand upon that stage Human....and speak about the humour of his life....maybe you will love him as I do...maybe you won`t understand him...maybe you will be with him in spirit...or maybe you will boo him and throw tomatos at him...that his the Risk that he takes....the Risk that all creative human beings take ...and double that Risk for those HUMANS where the Creative Flame burns bright and they possess the courage to reveal themselves totally without disguise or mask.
As I leave this I am reminded what Bob Dylan said about his first performance. He was young and inexperience and he had no knowledge about how to even pug in his electric guitar and the audience booed him ...afterwards when asked about the experience Bob Dylan is reported to have said: "If you havn`t been booed you havn`t done anything in your life." So now I simply invite you to come and see Coke as " der manisch-depressive Komiker" he will bring his courage, his open heart this I can promise. He will stand naked upon that stage, he will give us himself completely ...and if we have great courage, and we have allowed the child to still exist, and within us still burns brightly that Creative Flame, we will move between two worlds that he will simply create ...laughter and tears.
I give you this invitation with all of my love

Nov. 25, 2002
(Richard Watts on the occasion of a performance by Coke)

Dear Father Death,

     I am wearing my father`s clothes. I am wearing the only clothes I have. I am wearing the clothes of the dead. I wear his shirt ... even his underwear ...I am like a tiger drinking blood...
    I must wear these clothes. I must become lost in his underwear, because I am the type of man who could fix quite easily into a pair of pants belonging to a corpse.

    I see nothing but a rose.
         A red rose.
Oh! Father Death,
     they have put my father in a box and there he remained, for everyone to see, a wax mummy asleep in the belly of the Flesh Eater. After the Flesh Eater came the fire and after the fire a smaller box. Now every day I visit my father in his small box, rub the ashes between my fingers ... and listen to the soul of my father speak gently to me: "son, I love you!" ...ah! father! does the soul really exist? Father, did you speak to me? I pick up my pipe. The black insect crawled quickly up the kitchen wall. At first I thought of pressing my thumb down on its body bringing a quick halt to its existence and creating a menstruation of black on the crack between the wall and the ice-box, but on sober reflection I saw myself crawling up that white wall and taking pity upon myself I lit my pipe with a match using my thumb to press down only the loose tobacco.

     Death, dear Father Death,
         how does the process begin? In my ownexperience, the process of death begins with a dream.
             In silence and solitude there is life.
     There! in the space of our own decay; the flesh, blood and bones of memory.

A year and half ago my father telephoned me: he is going into the hospital tomorrow to undergo a series of tests for cancer. He tells me the name of the hospital but I refuse to hear it. I am very calm when he tells me that the doctors know that he has a tumor in the lungs; "black spot on the lung" as he calls it ...but they don`t know whether it is a ..."tiger drinking blood ...or simply a black spot of innocence" these are not my father`s words, my father is a simple man ..this is how I see life ...his words? ...I don`t remember his words ...but his fear ...yes ...I feel his fear: around my mouth; digesting my liver and kidneys; sucking the blood out of my balls and prick! ...My father is covered with fear like a dead horse covered with flies and maggots.

    My life is not without those moments of futility: when I have too much pride to speak to God or even recognize God`s existence; when I am conscious of the devastating smells of human decay; when I am conscious of the rats feasting on the cancerous tumors of my America; when I am aware that Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still images in my dreams, illuminating images of greed and power extinguishing human faces and of human skin crawling away, under the flame, from the bone of human beings and forming conspicious piles of ashes.

     In these moments of utter despair, I would blow my brains out if it were not for curiosity. What is the shape of time and space? Does the soul exist? What creature is this that slowly eats upon my father`s flesh? It has a thousand names, and yet ...its lack of definition shapes and dwarfs the imagination. And we are helpless before it. ... The old mythology is dying ...I must create my own myth.
         What is it ... to be ...human?

     Six months ago, after the doctor told me again that my father would die, I went into my father`s room. Father layed in bed covered in wires. I answered his questions with lies. Sometimes, I looked at the walls. Sometimes, I looked at the ceiling. I answered everyone of his questions until my father was invisible; and I couldn`t see him anymore; I could only see the imaginary creature I had created with those lies. After ten minutes I got up, kissed this immortal being on his forehead and left. Outside the hospital I got into my car and drove.

     It is my observation that many people talk about feelings but few reveal and share them. Most people, I fear, are content to look askance at themselves, as if the figure they see in the mirror is a black cat which belongs on someone else`s lap. How does such an individual, who at the age of five, perhaps, allowed his feelings to be cut away from his being, amputated at the thoat, look at himself in the mirror?
     Is there any hope at all that a single fragment of feeling might have survived the wanton butchery of his childhood?

     Oh! Father Death,
         I want to sleep ...I am lost ...and my father is lost to me!
     Oh! Father Death,
         come and embrace me! .... embrace me!

     Birds are symbols of the spirit and soul. Above me three strange black birds ... them of shadow and dream ...hanging upside down from the telephone wires ...singing against the wind. The birds spoke to me as if I were dead:

"Someone should speak of it to him!
Someone should speak of it to him!
Someone should speak of it to him!"

     Suddenly, my body became alive ... as if Christ himself had kissed me on the lips and filled my whole body with his breath .... Yes! Yes! I said to the birds in flight .... Yes! Yes! driving back to the hospital. ... Yes! Yes! YES! my body was covered with sex.

Dear Father,
     I found you, thank God! still laying on your back with those transparent wires covering your body. I forced myself to look at you. I forced myself to smile. Lies! Invisibility! I stopped smiling, I forced myself to see your body as it grew smaller and smaller. (Ah! dear father, now your body was completely visible to me; now I accepted it; yes! now! only death was shrinking it. ) How, when I, found the courage to, open my nostrils and take a deep breath, the odor of your shit took me totally by surprise; it was so sweet like: a peach or a strawberry.

Dear Father, we never listened to music together! Did you enjoy music?
     What are you? .... What were you?
     What dreams possessed you? ...What nightmares did you embrace?
Did you enjoy food ...sex ...did you ever masturbate? How little I knew you.
Father, tell me these things before you die. ... How many ways can a man enter a woman`s body?

.... I want to lay down with you. I want to crawl into your death-bed. I want you to hold me. I want your pale, sick lips to press against me ...to kiss me ...before it is too late. I want you to whisper into my ear that you ...
             love me ....
I want to hold your excrement in my hands, press it against my lips.

        "Father, I am going to give us both a wonderful gift.
         I am going to tell you that ...you are dying."

        Death, Father, Death,
         It has been four weeks since I saw him last. I sat with him in his small hospital room. He sat near the window, he never looked outside.
         "Are you speaking to me father?" ...no ...he hadn`t spoken since I entered the room. His face was white.
         "Father, speak to me."
He looked very tired.
         "Father, speak to me."
His body looked totally lost within the white sheet.

     ( For the last two nights I have slept with a pair of scissors underneath my body, ...
     The scissors are a poor weapon, but a weapon, nevertheless, but a weapon against what ...whom? )

        Dear Father,      if you had died in centuries past many people would have gathered around you and physically you would not have died alone. But we live in a time when death is not fully ackknowledged. People would rather look at inanimated objects than walk into a room, pull up a chair and smile and nod at death. Yet, if we could have found in this age, a group of people who would have smiled, nodded, and sat down! oh! how much more difficult it would still remain to find that one person who would totally rejoice with death, as death digested with great pleasure, yes, I would imagine, death would with great pleasure; let it be with great pleasure than that death sits himself down, between your legs, eating with fantastic rejuvenation your sick flesh and leaving that last delicate root, you cherished, for last. Oh! father, see how death sucks out the final juice and falls asleep.

     I wanted my father, to teach me, to share with me the sacred knowledge.

     ( Death, Father, Death,
         Am I ...a demon? ...Am I ..an angel? ...I just simply want to be ...human.
             Obscenity! sweet pure Obsecenity!
                 What is it ...to be ... a human being? )

    If he would have permitted it, I would have worn his skull around my neck, six months after his death, I would have given one of his small bones to my brother and one to my mother and one to his wife and I would have painted his remaining bones and placed them in a hollow log. But if I had spoken these words to my father he would never have understood.      ( Am I insane ... or .... human? )

     It was time, Dear Father Death, it was time.
     I spend the whole day with my father. Leaving the hospital only after the doctor re-assured me that before he died there would be some physical sign of his health declining, and that process would take at least two hours. Two hours, I grasped at that hope. Just enough time for the nurses to reach me by phone and for me to drive from where ever I might be to the hospital.
     I left, and no sooner had I left than my father`s vital signs changed drastically. No longer was he in that peaceful sleep, which I look upon now as that `false sleep`; his breathing had altered, his face was no longer calm. When I learned the news I drove at top speed back to the hospital shouting out again and again to the dark clouds over-head. For all I knew my father now might be those clouds: "not yet father, damn it! damn you! do not leave me yet! ...the soul is obscure and obscene ...father ...the flesh is pure! do not leave me yet! give me this at least ...give me this ...God ...don`t take my daddy yet!"
     I ran from the car to the hospital elevator. I felt somewhat like a fool, after all, how silly it was to think that my daddy was really dying. It was all just a game of make-believe, after all ... When I entered his room I saw this figure under white sheets ... a single red rose on the table between him and me.
    I sat down and held his hand.
     Oh! how he had changed in just those two hours. I had left a man asleep and when I returned I found this animal on its side gasping for every breath. His whole concentration was on that breath. I held his hand and tried to breath for him, but I was useless, my breath escaped out into the room like a butterfly and my father twisted in the white sheets, his mouth open like a transparent net, yet it was useless. My breath escaped his grasped now, oh! as my love had escaped his grasped for all of those years. And was he speaking to me? No, if he had spoken, and if they were words, I had not heard them, any more than I had, during all of those years, heard his love. But ...oh! but they were not words, for he was beyond speech but just short of the silence and solitude; and what existed now was that immense amount of concentration which he needed in order to express that single breath.
     I took the rose and brushed it gently against my father`s nostrils: "smell! father ...its life! smell!"
     His body was on this side, the sound of the death rattle was on this side, the side nearest me. But was he on this side? it`s hard to believe. It has been easier for me to believe I saw angels with long penis` than for me to believe that my father was still on this side of the world. And yet what creature took that breath if not he, and if that be my father. Oh! father, how we waste our years!

    Never in one moment of my dreams did I see you turn into such a frightful animal. Never in my wildest nightmares did I see such a twisted image of my own reflection, and yet not me at all, for this animal in all its ugly beauty is you ...my father!

    When he died I went crazy, the beauty of such a change, from life that I understood, or thought I did, to that which I didn`t underestand at all, left me in possession of his only gift, which I realize, my father could ever have given me,

                          his moment of enigma.

Richard Watts

Lieber Vater Tod,

     ich trage die Kleidung meines Vaters. Ich trage die einzige Kleidung, die ich habe. Ich trage die Kleidung der Toten. Trage sein Hemd ... sogar seine Unterwäsche ... bin wie ein Tiger, der Blut trinkt ...
    Ich muss diese Kleidung tragen. Ich muss mich in seiner Unterwäsche verlieren, weil ich die Art Mann bin, die leicht in ein Paar Hosen eingepasst werden könnte, die einer Leiche gehören.

    Ich sehe nichts als eine Rose.
         Eine rote Rose.
Oh! Vater Tod,
     sie legten meinen Vater in eine Box und da blieb er liegen, für jeden zu sehen, eine Wachs-Mumie, schlafend, im Bauch des Fleischfressers. Nach dem Fleischfresser kam das Feuer, und nach dem Feuer eine kleinere Box. Jetzt besuche ich meinen Vater jeden Tag in seiner kleinen Box, zerreibe die Asche zwischen meinen Fingern ... und höre der Seele meines Vaters zu, wie sie sanft zu mir sagt: „Ich liebe dich, Sohn!“ ... ach! Vater! gibt es die Seele wirklich? Vater, hast du mit mir gesprochen? Ich nehme meine Pfeife auf. Das schwarze Insekt kroch schnell die Küchenwand herauf. Zuerst dachte ich daran, meinen Daumen auf seinen Körper zu drücken, seine Existenz zu einem schnellen Ende zu bringen, eine Menstruation aus Schwarzem auf der Ritze zwischen der Wand und dem Kühlschrank zu produzieren, doch bei nüchterner Betrachtung sah ich mich selbst diese weiße Wand hochkrabbeln, und in Mitleid mit mir selbst entzündete ich meine Pfeife mit einem Streichholz, den Daumen nur dafür benutzend, den losen Tabak herunterzudrücken.

     Tod, lieber Vater Tod,
         wie beginnt der Vorgang? Nach meiner eigenen Erfahrung beginnt der Vorgang des Todes mit einem Traum.
             In der Stille und im Alleinsein gibt es Leben.
     Da! im Raum unseres eigenen Verfalls; das Fleisch, Blut und die Knochen der Erinnerung.

Vor eineinhalb Jahren rief mein Vater mich an: er würde morgen ins Krankenhaus gehen und sich einer Reihe Krebs-Tests unterziehen. Er sagt mir den Namen des Krankenhauses, aber ich will es nicht hören. Ich bin sehr ruhig, als er mir sagt, dass die Ärzte herausgefunden haben, dass er einen Tumor in der Lunge hat; „schwarzer Fleck auf der Lunge“, wie er es nennt ... sie wissen nur nicht, ob es ein ... „blut-trinkender Tiger ist ...oder einfach ein schwarzer Fleck der Unschuld“ das sind meines Vaters Worte, mein Vater ist ein einfacher Mann ..so sehe ich das Leben ... seine Worte? ... ich erinnere mich nicht an seine Worte ... aber seine Angst ... ja ... ich spüre seine Angst: um meinen Mund herum; meine Leber und Niere verzehrend; das Blut aus meinen Eiern und Schwanz saugend! ... Mein Vater ist bedeckt mit Angst wie ein totes Pferd mit Fliegen und Maden bedeckt ist.

    Mein Leben ist nicht ohne diese Momente der Nichtigkeit: wenn ich zu stolz bin, um zu Gott zu sprechen oder sogar, Gottes Existenz zu erkennen; wenn ich mir der vernichtenden Gerüche menschlichen Verfalls bewusst bin; wenn ich mir der Ratten bewusst bin, die von den Krebsgeschwüren meines Amerikas schmausen; wenn ich mir im Klaren darüber bin, dass Hiroshima und Nagasaki noch immer Bilder in meinen Träumen sind, leuchtende Bilder von Gier und Macht, die menschliche Gesichter auslöschen, und von menschlicher Haut, die fortkriecht, unter der Flamme, von den Knochen menschlicher Wesen, auffällige Aschehäufchen bildend.

     In diesen Momenten tiefster Verzweiflung könnte ich mir das Hirn rauspusten, wäre ich nicht so neugierig. Wie ist die Form von Zeit und Raum? Gibt es eine Seele? Was für eine Kreatur ist das, die langsam am Fleisch meines Vaters frisst? Es hat tausend Namen, und doch ... seine mangelnde Definition formt das Bild ins Zwergenhafte. Und wir stehen hilflos davor. ... Die alte Mythologie stirbt ... ich muss meinen eigenen Mythos gestalten.
         Was ist es ... Mensch ... zu sein?

     Vor sechs Monaten, nachdem der Arzt mir wieder gesagt hatte, dass mein Vater sterben würde, ging ich in das Zimmer meines Vaters. Vater lag im Bett, mit Schläuchen bedeckt. Ich beantwortete seine Fragen mit Lügen. Manchmal sah ich an die Wände. Ich beantwortete jede einzelne seiner Fragen, bis mein Vater unsichtbar war; und ich ihn nicht mehr sehen konnte; ich konnte nur die Phantasie-Gestalt sehen, die ich mit diesen Lügen erschaffen hatte. Nach zehn Minuten stand ich auf, küsste dieses unsterbliche Wesen auf die Stirn und ging. Draußen vor dem Krankenhaus stieg ich in meinen Wagen und fuhr.

     Es ist meine Beobachtung, dass viele Leute über Gefühle reden, dass aber nur wenige sie zeigen und teilen. Ich fürchte, die meisten Leute sind zufrieden damit, sich selbst ein wenig schräg anzusehen, als wäre die Figur, die sie im Spiegl sehen, eine schwarze Katze, die in jemand anderes Schoß gehört. Wie sieht sich solch ein Individuum, das seinen Gefühlen im Alter von vielleicht fünf Jahren erlaubt hat, von seinem Wesen abgeschnitten zu werden, an der Kehle amputiert, im Spiegel?
     Gibt es überhaupt irgendwelche Hoffnung, dass ein einzelnes Fragment von Gefühl das mutwillige Gemetzel seiner Kindheit überlebt haben könnte?

     Oh! Vater Tod,
         Ich möchte schlafen ... bin verloren ... und mein Vater ist mir verloren!
     Oh! Vater Tod,
         komm und umarme mich! ... umarme mich!

     Vögel sind Symbole des Geistes und der Seele. Über mir drei seltsame schwarze Vögel ... aus Schatten und Traum ... sie hängen kopfüber an den Telefonkabeln ... singen gegen den Wind. Die Vögel sprachen zu mir als wäre ich tot:

„Jemand sollte es ihm sagen!
Jemand sollte es ihm sagen!
Jemand sollte es ihm sagen!“

     Plötzlich wird mein Körper lebendig ... als hätte Christus selbst mich auf den Mund geküsst und meinen ganzen Körper mit seinem Atem erfüllt ... Ja! Ja! sagte ich zu den Vögeln im Flug ... Ja! Ja! fuhr ich zurück ins Krankenhaus. ... Ja! Ja! JA! war mein Körper von Sex bedeckt.

Lieber Vater,
     Ich habe dich gefunden, Gott sei Dank! noch immer auf dem Rücken liegend mit diesen durchsichtigen Kabeln, die deinen Körper bedeckten. Ich zwang mich, dich anzusehen. Ich zwang mich zu lächeln. Lügen! Unsichtbarkeit! Ich hörte auf zu lächeln, zwang mich, deinen Körper anzusehen, wie er kleiner und kleiner wurde. (Ach! lieber Vater, jetzt war deine Körper völlig sichtbar für mich; jetzt habe ich es akzeptiert; ja! jetzt! nur der Tod hat ihn schrumpfen lassen. ) Wie, als ich, den Mut fasste, meine Nase zu öffnen und tief einzuatmen, der Duft deiner Scheiße überraschte mich völlig; er war so süß wie: ein Pfirsich oder eine Erdbeere.

Lieber Vater, wir haben nie Musik zusammen gehört! Mochtest du Musik?
     Was bist du? ... Was warst du?
     Welche Träume besaßest du? ... Welche Albträume hast du getragen?
Mochtest du Essen ... Sex ... hast du je masturbiert? Wie wenig ich dich kannte.
Vater, sag mir diese Dinge, bevor du stirbst. ... Auf wie vielen Wegen kann ein Mann in den Körper einer Frau eindringen?

... ich möchte mit dir da liegen. Ich möchte in dein Totenbett kriechen. Ich möchte, dass du mich hältst. Ich möchte, dass sich deine blassen, kranken Lippen gegen mich drücken ... um mich zu küssen ... bevor es zu spät ist. Ich möchte, dass du mir ins Ohr flüsterst, dass du ...
             mich liebst ...
Ich möchte dein Exkrement in meinen Händen halten, es gegen meine Lippen pressen.

        „Vater, ich werde uns beiden ein wunderbares Geschenk machen.
         Ich werde dir sagen dass ... du stirbst.“

        Tod, Vater, Tod,
         Es ist vier Wochen her, dass ich ihn zum letzten Mal gesehen habe. Ich saß bei ihm in seinem kleinen Krankenhauszimmer. Er saß beim Fenster, er sah niemals nach draußen.
         „Sprichst du mit mir Vater?“ ... nein ... er hat nichts gesagt, seit ich das Zimmer betreten habe. Sein Gesicht war weiß.
         „Vater, sprich mit mir.“
Er sah sehr müde aus.
         „Vater, sprich mit mir.“
Sein Körper völlig verloren in dem weißen Laken.

     ( Während der letzten beiden Nächte schlief ich mit einer Schere unter meinem Körper,... 
     Diese Schere ist eine dürftige Waffe, aber jedenfalls eine Waffe, jedoch eine Waffe gegen was ... wen?)

        Lieber Vater,      wärest du vor einigen Jahrhunderten gestorben, hätten sich viele Leute um dich versammelt und du wärst körperlich nicht allein gestorben. Aber wir leben in einer Zeit, in der der Tod nicht voll anerkannt wird. Die Leute sehen sich lieber unbelebte Objekte an, als in einen Raum zu gehen, einen Stuhl heranzuziehen, zu lächeln und dem Tode zuzunicken. Jedoch, wenn wir in diesem Zeitalter eine Gruppe von Leuten gefunden haben könnten, die lächeln würden, nicken würden und sich setzten! oh! wieviel schwerer wäre es noch, diese eine Person zu finden, die sich vollständig über den Tod freuen würde, wo der Tod mit großer Freude verdaut, ja, ich würde mir vorstellen, der Tod würde das tun mit großer Freude; lass es mit großer Freude sein, dass der Tod sich niedersetzt, zwischen deine Beine, mit fantastischer Verjüngung dein krankes Fleisch fressend, diese letzte köstliche Wurzel, die du schätztest, für den Schluss aufbewahrend. Oh! Vater, sieh, wie der Tod den letzten Saft aussaugt und dann einschläft.

     Ich wollte, dass mein Vater mich lehrt, mit mir teilt, das heilige Wissen.

     ( Tod, Vater, Tod,
         Bin ich ... ein Dämon? ... Bin ich ...ein Engel? ... Ich will doch einfach nur ... Mensch sein.
             Obszönität! süße pure Obszönität!
                 Was ist es ... Mensch zu sein? )

    Hätte er es erlaubt, würde ich seinen Schädel um meinen Hals tragen, sechs Monate nach seinem Tod, ich hätte einen seiner kleinen Knochen meinem Bruder gegeben und einen meiner Mutter und einen seiner Frau, und seine übrigen Knochen hätte ich bemalt und in einen hohlen Holzblock gelegt. Doch wenn ich meinem Vater diese Worte gesagt hätte, hätte er es nie verstanden.      ( Bin ich verrückt ... oder ... Mensch? )

     Es war Zeit, lieber Vater Tod, es war Zeit.
     Ich verbrachte den ganzen Tag mit meinem Vater. Verließ das Krankenhaus erst, nachdem der Arzt mir versichert hatte, dass, bevor er sterben würde, es körperliche Anzeichen seiner verfallenden Gesundheit geben würde, ein Vorgang, der mindestens zwei Stunden dauern würde. Zwei Stunden, ich klammerte mich an diese Hoffnung. Gerade genug Zeit für die Krankenschwester, mich telefonisch zu erreichen, und für mich, um von dem Ort, an dem ich mich aufhalten würde, zum Krankenhaus zu fahren.

     Ich ging, und kaum war ich fort, veränderten sich die Lebenszeichen meines Vaters drastisch. Er war nicht mehr in diesem friedlichen Schlaf, den ich heute als einen 'falschen Schlaf' betrachte; seine Atmung hatte sich verändert, sein Gesicht war nicht mehr ruhig. Als ich davon hörte, fuhr ich mit Höchstgeschwindigkeit ins Krankenhaus, wobei ich immer wieder die Wolken über mir anschrie. Denn mein Vater könnte jetzt diese Wolken sein: „noch nicht, Vater, verdammt! du seist verdammt! verlass mich noch nicht! ... die Seele ist verborgen und obszön ... Vater ... das fleisch ist rein! verlass mich noch nicht! gib mir wenigstens dies ... gib mir dies ... Gott ... nimm meinen Daddy noch nicht!“
     Ich rannte vom Auto zum Krankenhaus-Fahrstuhl. Ich fühlte mich ein wenig wie ein Narr, meine Güte, wie dumm von mir zu glauben, dass mein Daddy wirklich im Sterben lag. Es war alles nur ein Spiel der Einbildung ... Als ich seinen Raum betrat, sah ich diese Gestalt unter weißen Laken ... eine einzelne rote Rose auf dem Tisch zwischen ihm und mir.
    Ich setzte mich und hielt seine Hand.
     Oh! wie er sich verändert hatte in nur zwei Stunden. Ich hatte einen schlafenden Mann verlassen, und als ich wiederkam, fand ich dieses Tier vor, auf der Seite liegend, um jeden Atemzug keuchend. Seine ganze Konzentration richtete er auf dieses Atmen. Ich hielt seine Hand und versuchte, für ihn zu atmen, doch es nützte nichts, mein Atem floh in den Raum hinaus wie ein Schmetterling, und mein Vater drehte sich in den weißen Laken, sein Mund geöffnet wie ein transparentes Netz, doch es nützte nichts. Mein Atem ging jetzt an ihm vorüber, oh! wie meine Liebe an ihm vorübergegangen war all die Jahre. Und sprach er mit mir? Nein, wenn er gesprochen hätte, und wenn das Worte gewesen wären, dann hätte ich sie nicht gehört, denn er war jenseits der Rede, in dieser Stille und Einsamkeit; und was jetzt existierte, war diese riesige Menge an Konzentration, die er brauchte, um diesen einzelnen Atemzug auszudrücken.
     Ich nahm die Rose und hielt sie sanft an meines Vaters Nase: „riech! Vater ... es ist Leben! riech!“
     Sein Körper lag auf der Seite, der Klang von Todesklappern war an seiner Seite, der Seite, die mir am nächsten steht. Aber war er auf dieser Seite? Kaum zu glauben. Es war leichter für mich zu glauben, dass ich Engel mit langen Penissen gesehen hätte, als dass mein Vater noch auf dieser Seite der Welt war. Und doch, welche Kreatur holte da Atem, wenn nicht er, und sei er mein Vater. Oh! Vater, wie wir unsere Jahre vergeuden!

    Niemals, in keinem Moment meiner Träume habe ich dich in ein solch ängstliches Tier verwandelt gesehen. Nie in meinen wildesten Albträumen sah ich ein solch verdrehtes Bild meiner selbst, und dann wieder war ich es überhaupt nicht, denn dieses Tier in all seiner hässlichen Schönheit bist du ... mein Vater!

    Als er starb, wurde ich verrückt, die Schönheit einer solchen Veränderung, vom Leben, wie ich es verstand, oder zu verstehen meinte, zu etwas, das ich überhaupt nicht verstand, ließ mich zurück im Besitz seines einzigen Geschenks, von dem ich weiß, dass mein Vater es mir geben konnte,

                          seinen Moment des Rätsels.

Richard Watts

Translated by Anis, November 2002

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