Nature and culture cannot be kept separate. They continuously intertwine, visibly and invisibly, but not always harmoniously. From the outset, humankind has tried to tame and subjugate nature. And the more spectacularly successful we are in doing this, the less we think about how dependent on it we still are. This shows most clearly in the language we use to try and label and describe nature – be it in the fictional, poetic, factual or scientific context. In her essay, Barbara Frischmuth seeks to illustrate how nature is discussed in literature, culture, science and in everyday life. To underestimate nature would be perilous. To value and even love it equals human enlightenment.
The essay series UNRUHE BEWAHREN (Keep Uncalm) is a response to an increasingly uncomfortable present tendency. At the heart of modern-day progress lies a wasteful unrest, while the past is progressively devalued and the future is robbed of substance. This is opposed by the principle of anachronism. Engaged contemporaneity should be coupled with the courage for caution and a passion for the outmoded. UNRUHE BEWAHREN is therefore also the theme to which the spring and autumn lecture series at Akademie Graz are dedicated.
Edited by Astrid Kury, Thomas Macho, Peter Strasser
Advice: Harald Klauhs
Barbara Frischmuth's stirring début: the narrow world of a Catholic boarding school, the pupils and their aspirations, the teachers and their rules – the expression of a strict upbringing designed to restrict freedom of feeling, thought and action.
A girl by the name of Nevermind runs away from a camp and comes across the two-pleated toad, which is convinced it has created the world. Together they travel on and are joined by other creatures: a blind hen, a faint-hearted mouse and a loser called Little-Gottfried. All of them are attempting to escape the war, but this can now take on any shape imaginable, and the old, old world is heading for complete destruction. Something has to happen. Eliminate the headquarters! This sounds convincing enough, but nobody knows what or where the headquarters are, much less how they might be eliminated. Luckily the rats decide to step in – when did anything ever work out without the rats?! Can Nevermind succeed in halting the destruction?
Barbara Frischmuth is a master of stylistic abundance: full of compassion she takes a sometimes down to earth, sometimes humorously-grotesque look at the trials and tribulations of human interaction. Frischmuth tells of hellos and good-byes. From the story of a lovesick young archeologist who goes into hiding at her sister’s house and lives through a cathartic experience to a substitute fight between a grandmother and her granddaughter over a misplaced nail file.
With her playful narration Frischmuth gives us glimpses of a simple truth: Time and again, reality is an experiment.