Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Thrice Born Daniil Kharms

And your birth?
Now I will describe how I was born and how the first signs of genius were discovered in me. I was born thrice. This is how it happened. My father got married to my mother, but my parents brought me into the world only three years later, because my father was adamant that his child should be born at New Year. Dad calculated that conception had to take place on the first of April and only on that day did he get round my mum with the proposition of conceiving a child. My dad got round my mum on the first of april two years after their wedding. Mum had been long awaiting this moment and was terribly thrilled. But dad, as it seems, was in a very playful mood and could not restrain himself, saying to mum 'April fool!'
Mum was absolute furious and didn't allow dad anywhere near her that day. There was nothing for it but to wait until the year. On the first of april the next year dad again started getting round mum with the same proposition. But mum, remembering what had happened the year before, said that she had no further desire to be left in that stupid position and again would not allow dad near her. It didn't matter how much dad begged, it got him nowhere. Only a year later did my dad manage to get his way with my mum and beget me. However, all dad's calculations broke down because I turned out to be premature and was born four months before my time. Dad created such a fuss that the midwife who had delivered me lost her head and started to shove me back in, from where I had only just emerged. Dad again started creating a fuss, saying that, surely this couldn't be called a birth, that this surely couldn't yet be called a human being, but rather a semi-foetus, and that it ought to either shoved back again or put into an incubator. So I was born again and put into an incubator. They took my out of the incubator at New Year. My third birth.

Steven Fowler is writing a series of essays on little known European poets, in Nthposition. Go read. (I wish Nth would use the essay to link to the translations of the poems, though.)

Via Todd Swift.


swar thounaojam said...

Now I am kinda obsessed with Kharms. I can talk to him.

Space Bar said...

:D I had a feeling you could.

Here, from the NYT review of a book of collecteds, Saunders:

"Art requires artifice, but certain souls balk at artifice the way a horse balks at a snake-smelling stall. Stories make emotion and moral truth, or the illusion of these, but reading Kharms we sense his fear that the smallest false step at the beginning, magnified over the course of the tale, might produce monstrous results: falsity clothed as truth, whistling in the dark, propaganda or (worst of all) banality."

swar thounaojam said...

I was reading the same review last night :-) And I kept the page open to read it again.