The man by the sea, a fool
The editor Jürgen Hosemann has written his first book. It is a log about a single day. From one sunrise to the next he sits by the sea and writes about what happens – or doesn't happen – during this time.
By Holger Moos
For a while, “Entschleunigung” (deceleration, slow movement) was a popular buzzword and a popularly propagated antidote to our oh-so-accelerated times. At the moment, in times of travel restrictions, we are again increasingly confronted with the existential lack of events in our existence, because at most small escapes are possible.
In Das Meer am 31. August (The Sea on 31 August) Hosemann travelled, even across national borders, to the Italian seaside resort of Grado. And in his holidays he has decided to spend 24 hours by the sea, just sitting and watching.
Intellectually, Hosemann did not prepare himself for this day at the sea. Only a poem by Wolfgang Hilbig (Matière de la poésie), which the co-editor of Hilbig's works also quotes, served to set the mood. Reflecting on the poem, however, does not lead to more clarity, but the meaning becomes more and more veiled – “veiled by brightness”. And time appears not “as something that passes, but as something that is always there”. Hosemann feels the same way when looking at the sea. The longer he looks, the less he sees.
24-hour self-limitationOf course, such a program of slowing down can create feelings of dissatisfaction. Thrown back on one's own powers of observation, one can quickly reach its limits and become frustrated. So it is healthy if expectations are not so high in the first place – or if you expect the worst. Thus Hosemann quotes Ernst Jandl right at the beginning with this line of poetry: “ich beginne den missglückten tag” (“I'm starting the failed day”). These words connect the ineradicable human hope with the equally inescapable human failure.
During this 24-hour self-limitation Hosemann naturally strives for more precise perception, deeper thoughts. However, he often finds nothing, is distracted, sometimes looks up into the sky looking for help and thinks he can find words in the clouds. But the result is sobering: “The only word that the clouds over the coast of Trieste actually formed was FOOL, the rest I had probably imagined.”
When will the light come?Hosemann is well aware that he is perhaps only a “man in midlife crisis who could think of nothing more than to do nothing”. Even memory offers no support: “How am I supposed to remember my life when I can't even remember a day?” At the end of each day there is the all-important question: Will we reach the coast of tomorrow?
Jürgen Hosemann: Das Meer am 31. August
Berlin: Berenberg, 2020. 112 S.