And once again a story about a guy who wakes up and everything’s different. Hans Oberhänsli was more than a little surprised. Room, 
bed, pajamas, floor, things, world, all gone. Without falling, without sinking, I was floating, swimming in an element that, no tricks here, carried me along, it was my airwater. If things like this help you to orient yourself, you may gladly think of a bombing; no one can really object if, for simplicity’s sake and without being bureaucratic about it, you called a weapon that offers advantages inverse to those of the neutron bomb a nortuen bomb. 


Translated by Patrick Greaney 

And once again a story about a guy who wakes up and everything’s different. Hans Oberhänsli
was more
a little surprised. Room, bed, pajamas, floor, things, world, all gone. Without falling, without sinking, I was floating, swimming in an element that, no tricks here, carried me along, it was my airwater. If things like this help you to orient yourself, you may gladly think of a bombing; no one can really object if, for simplicity’s sake and without being bureaucratic about it, you called a weapon that offers advantages inverse to those of the neutron bomb a nortuen bomb. Claudine objected: risible explosive! Ridiculous name! No one knows yet if Mrs. Persevogl was swimming along freestyle in the airwater or lounging about on
the reflective couch beyond the bounds of the universe. Not even Oberhänsli’s glasses, not even Hans’s watch were
spared. Mild climate, everyone’s doing just fine without their wardrobes. How wonderful that there are no longer any places we’d have to remember or tell stories about. I sighed, biting into
my upper arm flesh out of curiosity to see how, some day, I would be able to process the sight of the hickey. If you like, you can start up a conversation with the old man who’s about to paddle by about what led up to the catastrophe. After he opened his eyes and determined that he was residing in this nothingness called airwater, the first
that Oberhänsli decided to put to himself was, to his own surprise: what difference would it have made if this calamity hadn’t descended on him today but, let’s say, seven years ago: back then, Oberhänsli replied, after a second of conscious, concentrated clarity, of everyone in the world only Hans would have been left in the world, while we now, insert quotation here, appear to be a veritable little society. O there’s no rush, but at some point excre- ment will have to be discussed: what becomes of it here in the airwater. I couldn’t stop looking at the white pubic stubble of the old man gliding by without a word or a wave, a backstroke swimmer who owed his progress to some solid leg work, while his scrawny arms, older than him, were useless: corpse arms on a living torso resting along the pant seam of the pantless. Claudine nodded: fresh out of the coffin, but it really should say emaciated! The two great passions of Hans Oberhänsli: thinking, copulating. Telluric, galactic, cosmolitic: we wallowed for a minute in three words’ euphony; and while we couldn’t come up with sentences that we felt these loved ones would have been at home in, at least some nouns materialized that they could lean on: telluric foundation, galactic blob, intra-cosmolitic perceptive wreckage. There’s nothing to eat; hey, you, does this mean everyone has to die? All at once I realized that never again would anything be written down, unless someone were to etch it into their own flesh or someone else’s with their fingernail or toenail. Just as he used to observe the stars in the sky (in the heavens, whispered Claudine) without associating this with any intention, breathing and listening to his breathing, Hans Oberhänsli now saw, and it wasn’t even nighttime, a myriad of resplendent bodies in the firmament: sidereally
bright, sidereally pipsqueak. A group
of five or
a rough
approximation, had flocked around Oberhänsli and were dancing la ronde aéro- aquatique in circles around him; Oberhänsli was lecturing about the enemy who had set off the bomb and was himself, however, just like everyone else, its victim, tarrying unrecognized amongst us, and was in fact a friend, the redeemer; because, accord- ing to the hymn sung henceforth, the hymn to be sung annually, abridged, on the feast day: the organic is good, but the an- / organic is ev-, oh if only this / could be grasped, once, by someone deeply moved, / is evil. Hans stuck his hand out to touch a calf, a wart, or at least a paunch; I couldn’t help it, had to imagine, despite Claudine’s
upbraiding, hand
flesh, paunch flesh melting at their
point of contact from the heat of excitation and running over onto each other, into each other, through each other, so that after the cooling accompanying the excitation’s waning a hand-paunch flesh soldering would perforce have to be registered; whereupon Hans, postnatally Siamesed with citoyenne Gitte, would be faced with the choice of spending the rest of his and our livelong days dragging along behind himself through the airwater the not-of-his-flesh appendage Gisela in the paunch-hand
that was
no longer entirely his or being dragged along behind herhimself EXPLO by the voluptuous, ever more voluptuous citizen Gundula in the hand-paunch that hadn’t obeyed her to the letter for a long time or, corporeal torture, hellish torture, risking surgery’s separating bite; the only thing is, lacking documentation, it can no longer be proven that it wasn’t in fact the 
and pupa-bellied Gerhild who took the first bite;
it won’t
any difference for the wounds, the wailing; Gaby’s callus, Gurdun’s calf, go ahead and help yourself! A côté de chez Oberhänsli. Doctor Oplut, after letting himself fall into the rattan chair across from Madame Persevogl at the debating table, criticized the outburst, as rushed as it was futile, to which just now you, sir, were an involuntary witness and you, ma’am, an embarrassed witness, and proposed excluding the perpetrator from the continuation of the experiment in case of recidivity, namely in case of the same or a comparable blunder, negligence, or flighty attempt to flee; Madame crossed her legs enticingly; the silk made a grating noise; to the doctor’s general bedraggled im-pression was added the contribution made by the inside out, holey pockets drooping out of his pants. From the void, or, better, from the depths of airwater space, there suddenly surfaced Mr. Oeri, 60, breaststroke swimmer, or more precisely: he didn’t just surface, he appropriated for himself, after performing with theatrical decorum on a bottomless stage a few (ineffectual) salutatory informalities (a handshake, butt pat, a Hello, Hans! Salut, Armin!), the contestation of the possibility of surfacing out of the airwater into the airwater’s beyond (transairwater?): if there were, said Oeri to Ober- hänsli with a buddy thump to the ribs, an outside, then, as you know, we wouldn’t exist. Hans Oberhänsli, despite being engaged simultaneously on several fronts in several airwater sectors, was not, he was himself surprised at this, overwhelmed at the moment; he made sure that bulky dancers were replaced either by more gracile or more athletic ones; he continued, as soon as the saliva collected in his mouth again, with his lecture, without notes, that goes without saying, after the much feared Ober- hänsli scorn was poured over the bomb hypothesis advanced earlier, on his thoughts about the Big Flesh
theory, which
were discomfiting even to him; he asked
to consider the fact that one could never, ever infer the actual existence of a conference room beyond the bounds of outer space just because some griper of a blabberer swims up and imputes to a Mrs. Persevogl or a Mr. Oplut a furniture set or an evening gown. If I, says Oberhänsli to Oeri with a jovial blow from behind, were to extol your gone-for-good hat, hunter’s cap, straw beanie, wool helmet, do you really think, Armin, that that would conjure it back on top of your skull? We remained silent. At long last we remained silent. But just briefly. The hope that into the void left behind by the vanished things there would seep the silence once banished by these once-appearing things remained just a hope. Negative volume, hissed a listener who, probably just to cause a disturbance, he wasn’t a girl, had forced himself in among the dancers; his hands, which appeared ready to jump off his arms at any moment, were gliding over some sweaty hips, maybe he was blind. The doctor, breathing with difficulty and slouching in his chair, insisted on the rules of the game, on concessions, on fair affective distribution, on discursive
coherence, on anamnestic flash bulb storms, on long-term plastic character surgery measures, on motivational punch lines, on epiphanies, on a relational if non-Euclidean geometry; in the pigskin bag open on the floor next to him absolute chaos reigned: prescription pads, dressing material, conductor’s batons, whistles, pornographic ink drawings, multipurpose file folders, old encyclicals, knotted-up socks, daggers, handcuffs, dictionaries, shoelaces, bodices, pumice, a plastic bear – all of it either kept and collected for a lifetime or snatched up and thrown together at the last minute before fleeing; my eyes teared up; Mrs. Persevogl had rolled down, it was getting hot and hotter in the capsule, her silk stockings, then taken them off, her naked foot with her red polished toenails was lying on Oplut’s flannel lap; the doctor fell asleep.
A voice,
Oberhänsli refused to recognize it as his own or Oeri’s, let alone as the arch-charlatan Oplut’s, made the following claim: the most God-in-heaven-awful-ass-audacious of all horse trader tricks had been pulled: the whole booty thought to have been happily bid farewell to forever, dispatched, liquidated, and nullified, was to be re-imported in a doctor’s shabby little bag, a meager tubercular quarter of an hour later, into the airwater hinterlands, which lacked, for sufficiently well known reasons, every right to exist. Claudine
customs officers! Oberhänsli
to miss this opportunity to shine for his, he sniffled here, alluringly and ever more alluringly perfumed female listeners; the border region in which this bag allegedly is to be found, Oberhänsli extemporized as he mentally anticipated how the darting tongues sur- rounding him would rip him to pieces, rip him up alive into living pieces, could only, the same thing had happened to the Big Flesh, said Oberhänsli, feigning indifference to Oeri, be found in the bag. No one laughed. I closed my mouth, closed my eyes, opened my eyes, but still remained silent. I was afraid. I was still lying in bed, it’s just that the bed was gone. My pajamas, too, and the room, too, were gone. I couldn’t move but I didn’t fall down. I didn’t fall down but I couldn’t manage to move. I clenched my fist, I shimmied
my foot,
my lips. Then my
tongue crept out,
pushing aside my lips. I had my
my fingers
I don’t mean all that at all. I furrowed, as if I were thinking about something, my brow. Then sweat began to bead on my brow, I mean something completely different. The tears that had come into my eyes a long time ago ran down my cheeks right at that moment. I could move every possible part of me, just not myself. It would be lovely if you could understand what I mean. I reached my hand out, that wasn’t very clever, wasn’t stupid. Then no chill, no fever shook me. I couldn’t get away from the spot where my bed would have been before. I was lying on my back, hinting with my arms at backstroke-like move- ments. Claudine laughed, she didn’t seem to hold the allusion against me. One thing is clear: the fear subsides with talking. When I was doing better, I cried for help. And appropriately, a figure, a dim figure is the preferred phrase here,  appeared on the horizon.
short, flesh.
giggled: on the horizon, that’s
good! Oeri sniffed his chance to disembark yet another of his infamous critical commentaries on surfac- ing, but Oberhänsli, who, when he had to, could get a little rough, simply grabbed Oeri’s mouth with his little hand and, with acrobatic conviction, squeezed his upper and lower lips together, thereby assuring beyond a doubt that a conversational con- tribution from his side would not have to be anticipated for a long time. I was afraid. What was it? I opened my eyes up wide. I slammed them shut. I didn’t even want to know what
up. It
in short,
own flesh.
Hans Oberhänsli  thought that the time for intervening had come. He thinks, he said quietly to Rever- end Bösch, who had met up with us after Oeri had been silenced and hauled away so he could replace Oeri to the degree that was possible, he thinks he’s afraid because he knows it’s not someone else but him, but I know he’s afraid because he knows it’s not him but someone else. Oberhänsli  looked
around, fishing for applause, but the girls from the dance lineup weren’t paying attention to what he was saying: they had a job
and that
it. Bösch, a.k.a.
the Dolphin, swam butterfly, no reason to be afraid there, but whoever was hot for a good homily got one. The doctor had begun to snore
the flannel swelled
beneath Signora
If you like you can gladly imagine two glass balls: one of them as big as the universe, the torso, the airwater ball; the other, diver-bell big, the head, the command satellite. God, world; moon, earth; satellite, sow; extremities extraneous. Haven’t you ever thought about how stupidly it, your head, squats up there, practically blind, practically im- mobile, conjoined with your torso by means of your thin, thick neck. The head of the future travels free around the body, and not a millimeter of bare skin escapes the gaze, dragged before Troy’s walls EXPLO, next disc. Bösch listened, his mouth agape: that was just what he didn’t want to hear; someone had stolen his spotlight, it didn’t matter who; he’d kick that son-of-a-bitch brownnoser in the balls; was there even a point to starting up like this: what has taken place here, ladies and gentlemen, what has been offered us here by the graciousness of, Bösch hesitated and let Oeri’s fate pass before his inner eye that wasn’t different from his outer eye and hesitated no lon- ger, what has been offered us here by the graciousness of Mr. Oberhänsli: a sensical, sensuous gift for our conscience and consciousness to ponder, what is it if not that which has been announced in the species calendar since time immemorial and today, at last, heil Oberhänsli!, has come true, down to ear lobes, nostrils, Adam’s apples, goiters, vulvas: the resurrection
the flesh. The day after. We’re doing great, 10 out of 10. And if, Bösch already
saw himself sitting at
the right
hand of Oberhänsli
on his airwater throne, saw himself taking on the highest aeroaquatic political duties, saw himself as an Oberhänsli-obliging Iron Chancellor, and if there really are those in our community who complain because they are not permitted to bring along slippers, stilt warmers, wall plugs, crowbars, Space Wagons into the objectless, abstract, idyllic basin of heaven, then

we as one flesh call out to them from our resurrected throats: where was it written, you swine, that you were to appear with your beer coaster and waistcoat collections before your Lord Oberhänsli on your body’s day of rejoicing. Bösch looked out of the corner of his eye at Oberhänsli, who was giving a thumbs down. Away with Bösch; even Oeri was better; stuff some penalty punches down his page10image25424throat. Hans Oberhänsli realized that, if he didn’t want his as-holey-as-ever Big Flesh elegy to fall hopelessly behind the power-hungry preacher’s populist resurrection ser- mon (he had polished off that vain fop just in time) and the modernizing two-ball model served up in slick verse by that slimy huckstering Monsignor Bell (freestyle, 49, hard to get rid of), he would have to say a few words to clarify things or to reinstate the necessary lack of clarity. In the beginning there was a flesh clod, as small as a world fist. It palpitated so violently it was clear it was about to explode. And that’s just what happened. That one clod was torn apart into thousands of clods. They all flew in different directions. And each of them palpitated so much it realized I’m about to explode. And that’s just what happened.
of the thousand flesh clods was torn apart into thousands of flesh clods. That made a million, and they
flew in different d irections. And
each of them palpitated,
and so forth, for the whole first half. Giant flesh fireworks, I’m telling you, myriads of glowing flares in th e sky. I already told you about that, myriads, verbatim, just like that. Centrifugal celebration. That’s why we’re here. At the moment it’s halftime. The explosions could start up at any moment. Provided there are palpitations. You’ll feel it. A flesh clod
going to get torn apart. The whistle for the second half could sound at any moment. Then, I prophesize, everything will go in reverse. Until there are only a thousand clods of flesh left
everything rushes together
becomes one
Union. Centripetal celebration.
We are one flesh. But
then again maybe not. Maybe the referee, that clod of flesh, with all the palpitating, will lose interest in blowing his whistle again, if it’s just going to tear him apart, even him. But any whistle now would have to hide, / In Oplut’s bag, should that exist, offside. 

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