Snow White

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Translated by Gitta Honegger


Two giant, stuffed monster dolls, made of knitted wool, one Snow White, the other a hunter with hat and gun, are talking quietly to each other, the voices are coming from off-stage and are slightly distorted.

SNOW WHITE

I have been walking forever around every possible bend and turn in the forest and what am I not finding? Dwarfs! They say dwarfs are pleasant like us, but different in shape. Whereas, you, Sir, look like someone with a shape close to mine, but rather unpleasant. Perhaps itís all those responsibilities you have. It certainly is a lot of work clearing all that Being and cutting to the chase. I represent the lighter side. For a long time I was successful because of my looks, then, as I was zealously looking for more success, I stepped into my stepmotherís trap who grabbed me from an angle I didnít expect and soon after poisoned me with fruit. She dug a hole for someone else and didnít fall into her own trap. Since then I have become a seeker of truth, also in linguistic matters. All of that seems to be of enormous interest to the public, as my story has been around for hundreds of years, I have no idea whatís supposed to be so funny or exciting about it. Itís as if I had to constantly lift myself up and fall down again, felled by another woman. A pleasant exception, which death is not. He always keeps coming, usually as a man and then it turns out thatís not what he is. He stalks us, arrives uncalled for, and just as we become successful, as in my case, he doesnít let us enjoy it, but takes us off the field without offering any comfort.

HUNTER

Could it be that you are leading yourself astray? May I suggest that you give up being your own sole refuge so that you wonít miss the truth, which has been looking for you all this time, which I found in the forest several times, a helpless figureóand also in the shape of hidden graves for man and beasts. The animal graves are not my doing, as I always take my kill with me. Itís too good for the earth. Since you donít feed the truth with things you found and you donít have any experience in collecting kills, because you are the kill, it follows that the truth will be running from you the first chance it gets. I simply donít believe your version of the story, my dear. There is no detour anywhere for truth to avoid you. Just put yourself in truthís place: she would have to think she is blinded by the lights of a truck, confronted suddenly by a woman like you, not to speak of your clothes óthat much I understand about fashionócompletely unsuited for the forest. Now, that woman is questioning truth about one or more people, who are wearing hats which, in my opinion, no one else would ever want to put on. What a sight that would be! Take a look at my hat instead, thatís what you and your missing persons should wear! With those beautiful gurnard feathers on topósuperówouldnít you say? Never anything pointed, please! With their short bodies, did they think they would look taller with those things on their heads! High heels, special insoles, teased, resurfaced haircuts! No wonder truth doesnít want to identify with such creatures! Why should truth want to appear as seven people, when she canít even pass quietly as one? Even though that would finally put an end to it all and one could start telling fairy tales again? Thatís why she became so shy, after all, with everyone going after her.

And now you too are hanging out around here. Let me tell you something: Your beauty doesnít count much among those of us who hike through the wilderness. Once a week there is pair-skating practice on the frozen lakes. Beauty and† truth are also participating, so they can get to know each other better. Why donít you join them, Miss? Maybe you will find truth more appealing than† beauty? That would be a change for you for once! One can slurp up beauty like an experience, but then, clutching to the truth so it wonít slip on the ice, it will be gone. On the other hand, seven persons for the truth wouldnít be so bad, come to think of it, small as it is, , one should perhaps duplicate the truth, so one can at least see it for once. In any case it would hit you with its pointed cap. Ouch, yes: The truth as a coat rack spiked with caps. And then this† beauty who doesnít want to put on any of those caps, so she wonít be ridiculous and thus her own enemy. Truth as the madness of Being. You, Miss, are crazy, by the way, if you think you are seeing me. I am invisible. And if I were visible, I wouldnít exist and you wouldnít be able to see me either. So it doesnít matter whether or not you recognize me. You were probably mistaken, when you took me for the† truth just because you couldnít see me. Well, at any rate, I am not part of your† truths. You better take a closer look at my hat, before you canít see me, but nevertheless start a stupid conversation with me! I am death, period. Death as the ultimate truth. Seen that way, youíd even be right looking for me! I like that: Death as the final truth, who for that reason doesn't want to know anything about himself. But that's not the case. Death exposed: The naked animal and man carried away by its dumbness so that at long last he would not have to know anything about himself. Nonetheless, die he must, even if he is unconscious already.† Death as the blindness to your nakedness. But watch out! Not everything you canít see is death, as I already explained. As far as I am concerned you will never know for sure. A hunter certainly isnít a particularly original disguise. I shiver when I see your blank-eyed faith thatís blind to boot. You shouldnít force any of your little secrets on me, but I know I canít stop you anyway. Do you think if one could see death, anyone would put up with him even if only for, letís say the duration of a dinner of unburied animals, to which he would have had to contribute to begin with? There you go. Still, thatís not a reason for me to want to have anything to do with the† truth. Certainly not. Truth cares about nothing but itself. But at the moment thereís no better performer of it than myself. So Iíll have to go on playing it; I donít even know whether Iím still playing. I havenít wanted to for a long time, but I have to. One, the very last one, I kept as a model, all the other truths before that didnít escape me and my weapon. I was thorough. The last oneís pretty small. I still keep looking at her all the time so I know who I am. About as small as your little dwarfs are supposed to be. However, as an autodidact I worked my way up with great energy and diligence, and now I confidently glide across life as on a frozen lake.

SNOW WHITE

Oh, but life wants to be admired and† looked at from many sides, donít you think so too? It is beautiful, isnít it. Nor should trivialities ever be too small for us. If I donít find the little things I am looking for, I can also turn to the big stuff, which you insist you embody. Whatís bigger than death, which brings us nothing useful, only great damage. Even if it tastes delicious like a Granny Smith apple. Inside, thereís still the worm, making his opening move: death stored in a safe, through which he quietly eats his way ; thus the core has been opened and shut all at once: Being itself, hello! Well, it certainly wasnít a good deal! My guts are out of sync because of rotten fruit. Like the key to my being, which is rather high strung. A pitiful fate, a mild constipation. Then Climb every mountain as societyís great mission, but unfortunately most of the time there arenít any mountains. Here we have foothills at best, a threshold to be crossed without getting hurt. I am now filing a claim with the Existential Insurance and then I will request a search for missing persons, because I was unconscious for such a long time and diagnosed by my stepmother as† dead and powerless. She was wrong. Besides: No one misses power as much as the one without it. Maybe thatís why she wanted to kill me. Because she knew I would rise and instantly become the most power hungry creature, that is, I would claim all that stuff she loves to pile up around her. All junk! So suddenly thereís this doozy coming on the scene, not nearly as pretty as I, quite a bit older than I , which, I am sure, annoys her even in her dreams, wanting to rob me of my being! She thinks that† beautywill come to her because it finds a corpse too boring. Because† beautywants to stay in the world forever, preferably in full color in all those magazines one leafs through so quickly that they lose their pages faster than a tree drops its leaves. Mama canít come to terms with the experience of powerlessness visĖŗĖvis my beauty, so she just tried to wreck the resources of my power with nothing but an apple. An apple against apple cheeks! Imagine! A battle of Titanias. Yet it would have been so simple. Youíd only have to stand in front of me and my power would be gone,† because no one could see me! It wouldnít work with dwarfs, because they are shorter than I am, thatís why, after† my experience, I am looking only for dwarfs and thatís not easy, let me tell you. And Iíll be happy to lie down for the dwarfs, so that they too can have their ego moments. And if itís just to annoy step-mommy, who, in questions regarding the unknown set up a ranking system as to who can exist and who canít. She can. I canít. Because of too much beauty and her fear of competition. The dwarfs can, but only because she never saw them. Nevertheless, she warned me about them!

HUNTER

Well, you wonít find them around me, your little dwarfs. I am in charge of clearing, not† of the complications that might come up in the process... Of course I notice when something blocks my clearing, , a corner, a set of beings in animal shape and let me assure you, I wouldnít be so hot for the second set , itís my gun, it always huffs and puffs and drips and pants. No, the other way around. Iíd rather preserve and keep my clearing† inside myself, like a Tupperware bowl. Thatís why I became a hunter. Thatís why I am not interested in that Dwarf Truth [[ here Truth should be capitalized because itís clearly used as a name]], whom you are looking for here at the edge of the woods, of all places. I am the† GiantUntruth. I extinguish everything that exists with my comprehensive extinction plan. I did, however, apprentice with the truth and therefore, in an emergency, I can perform it too. So that you and even I myself will believe that I am the† truth. The last one† thatís still on the market. The circumstances of my life: Holed up in a hideóegging myself on to cut to the chaste, framing the game from an enframing, a few big guns like myself, shoot. Gameís over. All processed into food. All in due process. No judge necessary. The only one who does not have to fear the judge is death. I am always on the road and always legally, even if I enjoy speeding sometimes to get to the river of death, which I cross with my knickerbockered legs.

...

The complete text is available in THEATER, Volume 36, Number 2, published by the Yale School of Drama and Duke University Press. (Readers can order it at www.dukeupress.edu/theater ).

1.3.2006


Snow White © 2006 Elfriede Jelinek / Translation Gitta Honegger

 

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