1994/95
DAS DREISSIGSTE JAHR

 

1994/95
DAS DREISSIGSTE JAHR [THE THIRTIETH YEAR]
Drawing, charcoal, chalk and ink, 365 sheets à 0,42 x 0,594 m, selection of 30 sheets

When a person enters his thirtieth year people will not stopcalling him young. But he himself, although he can discover no changes in himself, becomes unsure; he feels as though he were no longer entitled to claim to be young. And one morning he wakes up, on a day which he will forget, and suddenly lies there unable to get up, struck by harsh rays of light and denuded of every weapon and all courage with which to face the new day. If he shuts his eyes in self-defence he sinks back and drifts away into a swoon, along with every moment he has lived. He sinks and sinks and his shout does not become audible (that too has been taken from him, everything has been taken from him!) and he crashes down into a fathomless abyss, until his senses fade away, until everything which he thought he was has been dissolved, extinguished and destroyed. But when he regains consciousness, comes trembling to his senses and becomes once more a form, a person, who must shortly get up and go out into the day, he discovers in himself a wonderful new ability. The ability to remember. He does not remember as before, unexpectedly or because he wishes to, does not remember this or that at random, but with a painful compulsion recalls all his years, shallow and deep, and all the places he has occupied during these years. He casts the net of memory, casts it over himself and draws himself, catcher and caught in one person, over the threshold of time, over the threshold of place, to see who he was and who he has become. (…)

Text excerpt: “Das dreißigste Jahr“ [The thirtieth Year], translated from the German by Michael Bullock, pp. 18 – 61, in: INGEBORG BACHMANN: THE THIRTIETH YEAR, STORIES, 1964