Today I know that all things are watching, that nothing goes unseen, that even wallpaper has a better memory than human beings. It's not God in his heaven who sees everything. A kitchen chair, a clothes hanger, a half-filled ashtray, or the wooden replica of a woman named Niobe can serve perfectly well as an unforgetting witness to our every deed.
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What novel - or what else in the world - can have the epic scope of a photograph album? May our Father in Heaven, the untiring amateur who each Sunday snaps us from above, at an unfortunate angle that makes for hideous foreshortening, and pastes our pictures, properly exposed or not, in his album, guide me safely through this album of mine...
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I wept when the muse Ulla bent over me. Blinded by tears I could not prevent her from kissing me, I could not prevent the Muse from giving me that terrible kiss. All of you who have ever been kissed by the Muse will surely understand that Oskar, once branded by that kiss, was condemned to take back the drum he had rejected years before, the drum he had buried in the sand of Sapse Cemetery.
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I catch myself judging myself as that 13-year-old boy, who, of course, rightfully points out that he is only a child. And my membership - well, I was drafted into the Waffen-SS and didn't exactly volunteer, which was just as idiotic. I wanted to be on the submarines and then ended up with the Waffen-SS.
I was assigned to the Waffen-SS but was never involved in any crime. Besides, I always felt the need to write about my experiences in a larger context one day. This has only developed recently, now that I have overcome my inner aversion to writing an autobiography in the first place, specifically one having to do with my younger years.
I had an uncle who was a postal official at the Polish post office in Gdansk. He was one of the defenders of the Polish postal service and, after it capitulated, was shot by the Germans under the provisions of martial law. Suddenly he was no longer a member of the family, and we were no longer allowed to play with his children.
Where man had been, in every place he left, garbage remained. Even in his pursuit of the ultimate truth and quest for his God, he produced garbage. By his garbage, which lay stratum upon stratum, he could always - one had only to dig - be known. For more long-lived than man is his refuse. Garbage alone lives after him.
Love That's it: The cashless commerce. The blanket always too short. The loose connexion. To search behind the horizon. To brush fallen leaves with four shoes and in one's mind to rub bare feet. To let and rent hearts; or in a room with shower and mirror, in a hired car, bonnet facing the moon, wherever innocence stops and burns its programme, the word in falsetto sounds different and new each time. Today, in front of a box office not yet open, hand in hand crackled the hangdog old man and the dainty old woman. The film promised love.
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The human head is bigger than the globe. It conceives itself as containing more. It can think and rethink itself and ourselves from any desired point outside the gravitational pull of the earth. It starts by writing one thing and later reads itself as something else. The human head is monstrous.
What I do is sometimes - at least in Germany - met with wounding campaigns. I always face the question: should I grow myself a thick skin and ignore it, or should I let myself be wounded? I've decided to be wounded, since, if I grew a thick skin, there are other things I wouldn't feel any more.
Removed from its more restrictive sense, masturbation has become an expression for everything that has proved, for lack of human contact, to be void of meaning. We have communication problems, suffer from egocentrism and narcissism, are frustrated by information glut and loss of environment; we stagnate despite the rising GNP.
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Cemeteries have always had a lure for me. They are well kept, free from ambiguity, logical, virile, and alive. In cemeteries you can summon up courage and arrive at decisions, in cemeteries life takes on distinct contours -- I am not referring to the borders of the graves -- and if you will, a meaning.