HC – everything and nothing

To the English speaking world, it might not mean much or even be known. But all over Germany and the more so Austria, the latest political scandal rocks the news. HC Strache (short for Heinz-Christian Strache), now Ex-Vice-Chancellor of Austria, offered an Russian oligarch to denationalise public-service broadcasting, manipulate Krone – the biggest Austrian newspaper – by installing compliant journalists while sacking incompliant ones and promised public building contracts in return for financing his political party. Suggesting illegal ways to channel this money past government conservatorship. All this (and much more not yet released) has been videotaped two years ago in an supposedly seven-hour long film documenting a drunk evening on Ibiza. There was no Russian oligarch, the setting was a trap, this right wing politician has been lured into. By whom and why  remains unknown. Also mysterious: why has it been released now, years later and just two weeks prior to Europan elections?

Over this, the Austrian government stumbled, obviously. HC Strache had to resign, so did all the other ministers of his party. The ministries are now led by professionals or experts in their particular field, until in September a new government is to be elected, as stipulated by the Austrian President. The Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (who coalised with HC Strache and his right wing FPÖ in the first place) has to face a no-confidence vote in Parliament next week.

This is, in short, the story as far as it evolved until today. I feel mostly shame. My customers here in Germany make jokes about Austria now. The first I heard, was golfers telling me jokingly, that they are planning to buy BILD Zeitung. Laughing at me. Austria is just tenth of the size of Germany and Austrians are looked at like cute little children are looked at: these little funny folks living on their mountain slopes. Mind you, particularly here in Berlin, this view was and still is mostly a congenial, if not loving, viewpoint. But it also has a degrading touch to it – which is normal, if one looks at dimensions and importance of the two countries in a broader view. However, now, the looks more suggest the looks of someone watching a naughty child having done something rather unsavoury.

But this is not important. What I personally think of HC Strache, has been posted here already a long time ago. In case you are interested.

What hurts today, oddly, is the abbreviation of Heinz-Christian to HC. It never bothered me much before. I always knew, what sort of politician this Strache person was. I also knew, that he is not very intelligent and that the dangerous man in the party really is a certain Mr. Kickl. Who served as Home Secretary in the government of Sebastian Kurz. I never thought, HC Strache would be stupid enough to be caught on video, betraying everything democracy is about. That he did, just hightlights the fact, that I do have a point here.

And then, there is this other HC in Austria. The one I admire deeply. A true poet. Sadly, he passed away in 2000, but I was lucky enough to meet him in person way back when. He was not a saint but a true human and his way with words – especially true, Austrian words in dialect, depicting and describing the Austrian soul – are unmatched to this day.

This HC – here HC stands for Hans Carl – is HC Artmann, whom I revere to this day. As a poet and a human. As much a sinner as every other man. But so true in recognizing the “condicio humana” in general and in its Austrian manifestation in particular. Said in the most artful sounds and words imaginable. This HC says many things about himself, that I know are all true and not all of them are deemed “good” or “desireable”. But understandable and human they are. As opposed to everything the other HC says, does and stands for.

Here we go:

meine heimat…

“Meine heimat ist Osterreich, mein vaterland europa, mein wohnort Malmoe, meine hautfarbe weiss, meine augen blau, mein mut verschieden, meine laune launisch, meine raeusche richtig, meine ausdauer stark, meine anliegen sprunghaft, meine sehnsuechte wie die windrose, im handumdrehen zufrieden, im handumdrehen verdrossen, ein freund der froehlichkeit, im grunde traurig, den maedchen gewogen, ein grosser kinogeher, ein liebhaber des twist, ein uebler schwimmer, an schiessstaenden marksman, beim kartenspiel unachtsam, im schach eine null, kein schlechter kegler, ein meister im seeschlachtspiel, im kriege zerschossen , im frieden zerhaut, ein hasser der polizei, ein veraechter der obrigkeit, ein brechmittel der linken, ein juckpulver der rechten, unbehaglich schwiegereltern, ein vater von kindern, ein judas der muetter, treu wie Pilatus, sanft wie Puccini, locker wie Doctor Ward, schuechtern am anfang, schneidig gen morgen, abends stets durstig, in konzerten gelangweilt, gluecklich beim schneider, getauft zu St. Lorenz, geschieden in Klagenfurt, in Polen poetisch, in Paris ein atmer, in Berlin schwebend, in Rom eher scheu, in London ein vogel, in Bremen ein regentropfen, in Venedig ein ankommender brief, in Zaragoza eine wartende zuendschnur, in Wien ein teller mit spruengen, geboren in der luft, die zaehne durch warten erlernt, das haar nach vorne gekaemmt, die baerte wie schlipse probiert, mit frauen im stehen gelebt, aus baeumen alphabete gepresst, karussells in waeldern beobachtet, mit lissabonerinnen ueber stiegen gekrochen, auf tourainerinnen den morgen erwartet, mit glasgowerinnen explodiert und durchs dach geflogen, catanesinnen verraten, kairenserinnen bestuerzt, bernerinnen vergoettert, an pragerinnen herangetreten, gruessgott gesagt, feigen gestohlen, revolver entdeckt, aus booten gestiegen, papierdrachen verwuenscht, masken verfertigt, katakomben gemietet, feste erfunden, wohnungen verloren, blumen geliebt, schallplatten verwuestet, 150 gefahren, unrat gewittert, lampione bewundert, monde verglichen, nasen gebrochen, parapluies stehengelassen, malaiisch betrieben, positionen ersonnen, bonbons zertreten, musikautomaten geruettelt, dankbar gewesen, heidenangst verspuert, wie der hirsch gelaufen, die lunge im maul gehabt, unter rosen geweilt, spielzeug gebastelt, rockaermel verpfuscht, Mickey Spillane gelesen, Goethe verworfen, gedichte geschrieben, scheisse gesagt, theater gespielt, nach kotze gerochen, eine flasche Grappa zerbrochen, mi vidy gefluestert, grimassen geschnitten, ciao gestammelt, fortgegangen, a gesagt, b gemacht, c gedacht, d geworden.

alles was man sich vornimmt, wird anders als man sichs erhofft …”

(aus: h.c. artmann: das suchen nach dem gestrigen tag oder schnee auf einem heissen brotwecken. eintragungen eines bizarren liebhabers. freiburg. 1964)


I’ll try and give a translation, as bad as it may turn out:

“My native country is Austria, my fatherland Europe, my residence Malmoe, my colour of skin white, my eyes blue, my boldness varies, my moods moody, my inebriations proper, my perseverance strong, my concerns erratic, my longings like a compass rose, satisfied in the twinkling of an eye, peevish in the twinkling of an eye, a friend of happiness, at bottom sad, in favour of girls, a big watcher of movies, a Twist fancier, a bad swimmer, a marksman at the shooting range, heedless at card games, a dead loss at chess, not a bad skittle player, a master at naval battle games, shot in war, trounced in peace, a hater of police, a spurner of authority, a nauseant to the left, itching powder to the right, discomforting in-laws, a father of children, a Judas of mothers, faithful like Pilate, mellow like Puccini, casual as doctor Ward, coy in the beginning, dashing towards morning, always thirsty in the evening, bored in concerts, happy at the tailor’s, baptised in St. Lorenz, divorced in Klagenfurt, poetic in Poland, in Paris a breather, floating in Berlin, in Rome rather shy, a bird in London, a drop of rain in Bremen, a letter arriving in Venice, in Zaragoza a stand-by fuse, in Vienna a plate with cracks, born in the air, teeth learnt by dint of waiting, hair combed forward, beards tried on like neckties, lived with women standing upright, extruding alphabets of trees, watching merry-go-rounds in woods, crawled over stairs with Lisbonese (females) , awaited the morning atop Tourain (ladies), exploded and hurtled through the roof with Glaswegian (women), betrayed Catanesian women, dismayed Women of Cairo, idolised women of Bern, accosted ladies of Prague,  said “Howdy!”, stole figs, discovered revolvers, deboarded boats, cussed kites, fabricated masks, rented catacombs, invented feasts, lost accommodations, loved flowers, played havoc with vinyls, drove 150 (km/hr), scented refuse, admired lampions, compared moons, broke noses, left umbrellas,  practised Malayan, cogitated positions, scrunched candy, jiggled jukeboxes, was thankful, felt mortal fright, ran like the stag, lung in muzzle, dwelled beneath roses, tinkered toys, made a botch of jacket sleeves, read Mickey Spillane, rejected Goethe, wrote poems, said “shit”, acted, smelled of puke, shattered a bottle of Grappa, whispered mi vidy, made grimaces, stammered “Ciao”, walked away, said A, did B, thought C and became D.

Everything one resolves to do, turns out different than what one hoped for…”

From H.C. Artmann: The Search for the Day Before or Snow on a Hot Bread Loaf.  Registries of a bizarre lover. Freiburg, 1964 – taken from the website of sfd (Schule für Dichtung / School for Poetry)

Wow, this was hard work. But I strongly felt the urge to counterweight the bad light shed on Austria these days. This was, what came to mind.



5 thoughts on “HC – everything and nothing

  1. Wow – this must have taken you hours! A labor of love, for sure.

    I don’t see any reason for you of all people to feel ashamed as an Austrian. As my daughters pointed out, it took only one video to topple the entire house of cards. Compare this to the American circus where daily corrupt actions done out in the open are all not enough to bring about consequences and regime change.

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