July 1, 2022


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Review: "Kurzes Buch über Tobias" by Jacob Nolte.  - civilization

Review: “Kurzes Buch über Tobias” by Jacob Nolte. – civilization

In Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” the elderly servant Firs appears again at the end. The play is over, an era is over, everyone has left the family home to start a new life elsewhere, the stage is almost dark, then the servant comes again, which everyone has already forgotten. At the premiere of the play, Chekhov’s plans, Veer must burst out laughing at this point and no one would know what he was laughing at. Lukas Bärfuss explained this laugh recently in an article as follows: If only Firs and the audience were present, then only the audience could only be intended. “The playwright is laughing at us, the audience.”

This laugh takes place in the plays and novels of Jacob Nolte, and the audience, accustomed to praise, sometimes resents it. Nolte is still in her early thirties, but there is hardly a large German-speaking theater that has never performed one of his plays, and sometimes seven or eight plays are staged simultaneously. If you wish, you can take a trip to Germany from one Nolte Show to another.

Nolte also writes novels, and they were recently published by Suhrkamp. “Kurzes Buch über Tobias” is about a German writer named Tobias Becker, who has a certain standing in the field of contemporary literature and is in the midst of a crisis of meaning. The temptation is great to doubt the author himself, and of course this self-duplication also occurs in the novel: in the course of the story, Tobias discovers that his homosexuality, his new friend, with whom he also lives for a while, is also. It’s called Tobias, and if you argue, it’s called: “Damn you, Tobias.” “Damn it, Tobias.”

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Tobias was captured by the Holy Spirit, worked a miracle and rose again

So, it is this cheekofinian laugh that robs a lot of the last nerve when they read Nolte: On the one hand, these novels and plays are so clever, creative, and ethical that they don’t happen very often in a single generation, but on the other hand everyone ruthlessly sheds dirty after another. The other, as if the subjects mentioned in the books, as if there was something funny about genocide, isolation and depression.

At an event at the Literaturhaus Wien, Tobias is scheduled to deliver a ten-minute lecture on Thomas Pinchon’s story “Auction No. 49”. There is a lot of internal resistance, but the drawings are okay, and at such events, he thinks, you usually hear friendly comments about your books. In addition, he shares the platform with the Bochner Prize winner, the Peace Prize laureate for the German book trade, author of the Ernst Junger Medal and “Defender on Behalf of the Artmann Juncke Belt”, so he agrees.

As he prepares, he realizes that he hates the story with all strings of his body, and when he reads a script in the event that he makes this disgust in public, the whole room turns against him. It is said that there is nothing wrong with Thomas Pinchon, the problem perhaps is in him, in his pent-up tension and depression. Everywhere crawls out of the hall to boo.

This scene, which actually forms the starting point for everything to come, can be found in the middle of the book, because: time doesn’t run linearly here. Everything happened at the same time and it is still happening. The educational novel’s structure fades away, as if a Chinese porcelain vessel has fallen from the pedestal, the text follows an apparently random arrangement, and the beginning and the end are the same scene.

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He does not want to participate in the noise pollution that is called a work of literature

This is one reason why you realize only belatedly that you are looking at a profound eschatological novel, the educational history of Christ if he was nearly 30 years old in 2021 and a German writer. It differs from Bildungsroman in that Tobias Becker does not go through any personal development, does not find knowledge or something like that, we are not with Siddhartha here. But he performs a miracle, he dies and then rises, speaking in tongues.

At one point, Tobias survived a plane crash, but unlike the plane crash of Walter Faber, engineer Max Fresh, this does not lead to a re-enchantment of the world, but precisely nothing, or worse, less than nothing: a decade Book. The publisher wrote, “He will send him a contract for the amount” simply if he agrees to write about the accident, “which he suffered directly,” his agent writes, the entry bid is € 60,000. But Tobias “was only looking for an introduction to the scientific interpretation of the biblical texts and his agent replied within half an hour that he did not want to participate in the noise pollution that was a literary work.”

So, Tobias Baker became a priest, but he failed there too, because his Blaise-Pascal madness of truth goes against tradition and doesn’t tell the audience what they want to hear. When he speaks of the Christchurch rampage in a sermon and hatred that appears to him “like a devil, a giant beast in the shadow of the middle class”, he knelt, lost himself in despair and suddenly felt “a secret in himself, as if it was not he, but an angel, who was speaking Through him, a secret lies on the tongue of a stranger, but he works through it, then he knew that if he kept talking, he would at some point be able to speak with it. “

Jacob Nolte: A Short Book on Tobias. a novel. Suhrkamp, ​​Berlin 2021.231 pages, 22 euros.

He tells his followers that they and the entire Christian world, “if they were true to God,” would be closer to the perpetrator than to the victims, and that they “would know what it was like in the heads of demons, but they would never know a mosque or a synagogue from within.” After this sermon, Tobias the Heretic does not enter the church again. But due to a boy’s portrayal and download of the sermon, which was actually more appropriate, he became popular around the world, with a loyal and critical community of the church on the Internet.

And this is the true tragedy of Tobias Becker: when he actually has something to say is dangerous to him, nothing emerges more than a robust monetization model. However, as a historical subject, it does not exist; Society does not want to know anything about its moral sentiments. The intermediate processing makes any extremism impossible, and Tobias falls into the hell of self-improvement: the more successful he becomes, the more progress and the number of clicks there is, the more negative he becomes.

A traditionally structured novel can only report on this dilemma, but the circular structure of this novel is the formal result: the text becomes a data carrier on which the spiritual journey will be played forever. infinite loop. Indeed, there is no reason to read it exclusively as a social critique rather than as a tech futurist, which also sees in moderate form that this inconsistent influence on management is a kind of ideal case.