31 July 2009

completely natural

Despite all our differences, when it comes to our names Malina and I share the same timidity; only Ivan is completely enthused with his own name, and since it is completely natural to him, since he identifies himself with his name, it is also a pleasure for me to pronounce, to think, to whisper to myself. Ivan's name has become a source of pleasure, an indispensable luxury in my poverty-stricken life, and I see to it that Ivan's name is heard, whispered and quietly thought throughout the city. Also when I'm by myself, when I'm walking through Vienna all alone, there are many places I can say, I've walked here with Ivan, I waited for Ivan there, I had dinner with Ivan in the LINDE, I drank espresso with Ivan at the Kohlmarkt, Ivan works on the Kärntnerring, this is where Ivan buys his shirts, over there is Ivan's travel agency. He just can't have to go back to Paris or Munich again so soon! Also the places where I haven't been with Ivan: I say to myself, some time I'll have to come here with Ivan in the evening and look down on the city from the Cobenzl or from the high-rise in the Herrengasse. Ivan reacts immediately and jumps up when his name is called, but Malina hesitates, and in my turn I hesitate the same way. That's why Ivan does well not calling me by name all the time; he uses whatever pejorative comes to mind or simply says "my fräulein." My fräulein, we're letting it show again, what a shame, we're going to have to cure ourselves of that very soon now. Glissons. Glissons.

Ingeborg Bachmann, Malina (1990: 52-53)