[NetBehaviour] Nobel prize for Handke

Max Herman maxnmherman at hotmail.com
Thu Oct 10 23:54:52 CEST 2019

Hi Ana,

It did strike me as odd that he was politically criticized yet honored so highly for writing.  It points to something of a disconnect perhaps.  Is writing separate from politics, or separable?  Which is to say, is Handke's art political?  Is the answer sometimes, i.e., on a case by case basis?  Certainly humans are full of contradictions and can do both good and evil in the same lifetime, year, or even hour.

Full disclosure I don't know anything at all about Handke except the news today and that he worked on Wings of Desire and wrote a play called "Kaspar." That was about a person who grew to age 17 with no exposure to society, or language, then emerged.  Handke said it was about "speech torture," perhaps how language itself controls and deforms us.  Perhaps like an internal framework of control, a moving network machine perhaps?  An articulated network i.e. with joints and movement but still a machine, perhaps he is saying.

I also recall from Wings of Desire the line "Ich weiss was keine Engel weiss," or I know what no angel knows.  Perhaps this suggests that consciousness requires a body, and mortality, to be real.  Angelic, abstract, rationalized knowledge would in this view perhaps be non-human or even de-humanizing, like speech torture.  The desires of fleshly mortality -- physical, aesthetic, emotional, experiential -- are the wings or pathway to freedom and fulfillment.

These ideas can easily veer into the ideas about blood and soil, lines of DNA and place, flesh and geography.  But it seems to me that they do not necessarily need to.

Not having read any Handke at all, I'm interested to see if he omits ideas of networks or what he says about networks.  Handke was writing at the same time as Calvino, and Calvino wrote about the novel as a network.  Perhaps Handke viewed language and hence literature as a mechanized, networked system of control and mechanization of the human genius.  Or as potentially such, a network capable of evil.

I could be totally wrong about what Handke is saying, it is pure speculation on my part which I will need to verify by research.  There may be no way possible, ultimately, to know how or why the writer of "Kaspar" also wrote positively about Milosevic.  However, if there is something to it, then the idea of language as a network and the brain as a network might relate.

Think of each (language and the brain) as a complex dynamic system operating in time.  Perhaps Handke is suggesting there can be or must be some intangible, organic quality to each in order for human consciousness to exist.  This would agree properly with the "network neuroscience model of consciousness" which is getting more popular.  Our physical fleshly brains have a certain need for a certain sort of organic communication, expression, consciousness, etc., and can't just have something technical "downloaded" for the purposes of control without adverse consequences.  Perhaps he saw problems with both eastern-bloc intellectual systems and western-bloc, almost twin sides of the same structure of control.  I do know a bit of Bernhard and like his take on many things; I'm not sure of his relation to Handke or whether Bernhard had an evil side.  I did like Bernhard's Old Masters a lot, and appreciated his antipathy toward nationalism.  Kafka in "Metamorphosis" also illustrated how social, linguistic, and cultural systems of conformity and control can erase humanity.

It is possible that meditation or mindfulness, as a physically manifested neurological process-state, is the true source of a positive symbiosis between language and humanity i.e. between the organic realities of the brain/body and language systems which can be infused with technology.  The language network should respect and value the human consciousness, not try to control and reduce it to a machine part, and meditation is a necessary part of that "respect" which has dialectical and organic characteristics.

I would differ from the argument that flesh and geography are necessarily the source (which can be inferred incorrectly from the truth that humans are embodied and located in space-time, and that sometimes flesh and geography can coincide with the source to a granularity which makes the two indistinguishable).  We do form meaningful connections to other people, objects, architecture, the natural world.  However, I believe that the meditation element that infuses every culture is the primary source of the harmony, and the physical/spatial connections emanate from the meditational element.

One reason for this I believe is the necessity of self-regulation, of re-set, and their corollary of healing or repair.  If a consciousness-body is out of sync, disrupted, and lacking in physical/locational conditions which have changed or disappeared or perhaps never were, how could it possibly adapt and remain resilient?  If the "source" of proper balance and calibration is the fleeting changeable body-plus-land, how could there be any survival?  There must be something else that "survives," and one possibility could be the network potentiality and capabilities of the brain via mindfulness plus language in the broadest sense (representation, expression, etc.).  These two would be the key to surviving and adapting to change, but would also need to be seriously considered as a core framework of the "adapted" or thriving state which connects as a complex system with the body-in-geography but is not identical to it.

I could be totally wrong here on everything: my interpretation of Handke, the role of flesh and geography in the humanization of language and symbolic systems, and the role of meditation in the brain and art or truth and beauty.  However, I just wanted to write a bit about it.  It does seem to me that unless the blood and soil theories are incorrect or incomplete, we will have a lot of trouble getting through the current era of nationalist populism, and arguably no chance at all.  If there are alternative or additional methods of resilience and adaptation we could use but choose not to that might be an unnecessary loss, one potentially leading to additional unnecessary losses.  The risk of attempting them seems minimal, but that could also be a wrong perception on my part.

Apologies for errors in this email, I'm certain there are very many.

Best regards,


From: NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org> on behalf of Ana Valdés via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Sent: Thursday, October 10, 2019 2:08 PM
To: NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Cc: Ana Valdés <agora158 at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [NetBehaviour] Nobel prize for Handke

Handke is one of the most interesting writers in post war Germanspeaking world. He worked with Wim Wenders in the fillm Himmel over Berlin. But in the latest years he has developed to a controversial writer, supporting the Serb warcriminal Slovobodan Milosevic and writing books and articles describing Serbia as an offer in the war.
A brilliant writer but a political idiot.

On Thu, Oct 10, 2019 at 2:10 PM Max Herman via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org<mailto:netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>> wrote:

Does anyone have thoughts on this?

I had never heard of Handke but am interested to read some now.

His play "Kaspar" has some interesting themes it appears.

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