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“Three incomplete attempts to describe life. Second incomplete attempt “

Dthe birth follows the break. The first turning point is the beginning, necessity of existence, compulsion to live. Birth trauma, says psychoanalysis. Thrownness, says Martin Heidegger. I prefer to read Ror Wolf. Because it undermines the trauma of all beginnings and ends with a light-hearted ease, with “Heckmeck, Hocuspocus”, with “word acrobatics, fun”, always as if everything had been there for a long time and you were only now immersed or crawled into it.

Wolf’s first long prose text from 1964 – the genus shredder avoided the term Roman – was already entitled “Continuation of the report” and followed narrative patterns of repetition and overlay, departure and return, as an attempt to break down the dictation of the advancing time, “because time, it irons everything smoothly, as an attempt to overgrow the emptiness with linguistic mass, abundance of images and accumulation of memories.

The poems entitled “Three Incomplete Attempts to Describe Life” were written in 1968, 1995 and 2002. They follow a similar arrangement of outburst and arrival, are a series of ups and downs, overlaid with location names, the coordinates of which resemble the life stations of Ror Wolf. Born in Saalfeld in 1932, he moved to the Federal Republic in 1953 and had to move 34 times until he finally arrived on the Mainzer Kupferberg in 1989, where the ego of this poem stayed “with the patience of a stone”.

In his cosmos, a degree is never the end

In the three poems, the speaking ego only approaches a goal in the middle, the “second incomplete attempt”. The third continues. In Wolf’s cosmos, graduation never means end. Everything has always been there, everything continues its course. The rhythmically, sonically perfect gliding in this second incomplete attempt is in complete contrast to the restless oscillation of the course of the poem and its speaker.

Life begins off the beaten path, “on the edge of the Saale”, and the subtly strange thing about Wolf’s language becomes clear when this edge nevertheless represents the middle of the world into which one has to crawl. In the first incomplete attempt it says more bluntly: “Plucked out in June at two o’clock / into the nature with pliers at night”. As if the great ironer had smoothed out the violent moment – there were 27 years between the first and second attempt – the breaks are transported more nuanced in the second attempt.

For the first time, the tonally formed sequence of the opening stanza is broken when the ego wants to report a series of experiences, actions or feelings before it suddenly breaks off and refers to “another field”. This is followed by a warning to leave. So, get out of Saalfeld!

From a federal republican geographic point of view, the ego is initially drawn to the west and to the center of the country, namely to Frankfurt, but there to the south of the city. Only then, perhaps according to the experience of dirt, to drift northwards, where the torn experiences may indicate a rough move. So again south, to Switzerland, then again eastern Germany, again Switzerland, where the ego does not linger again and goes to the farthest point from the exit, into the clattering Manhattan.

It is the sound that already in the penultimate verse slowly slides out, settles in through softer, longer syllables. After the chopped short syllable in the previous stanza, as in “There I was once up there, down below”, a softer tone now takes over, caused by sufficiently elongated, central European place names (“Paris”, “Gonsenheim”, “Wiesbaden”).

The first words of the last stanza (“I lived”) repeat the first line of the previous, fifth, and the first two lines of the third stanza. Through repetition of words and a reflection of sound, a language network unfolds that intertwines the entire poem. As in Ror Wolf’s collages, where none of the superimposed and glued objects seem to be in the wrong place, the author of this perfectly designed poem on the content level creates a restless journey to Mainz, which ultimately leads to a haven of peace through a compositional love of order.

The unclear (“I lived in the mountains”) leads to the very concrete present (“I am now living at the Kästrich in Mainz”). Now the ego owns this place (Mainz – mine). And this city has belonged to Ror Wolf forever since his death on February 17th.

I’ll read Ror Wolf – with the patience of a stone – and miss him for the rest of my life. But I also know that he is now what he has always been literary: immortal.

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