Tuesday, 13 February 2007

This story beggars belief, in an obvious way because how, after all, could a mother treat her children so badly. (And in a nice neighbourhood, too.) We'll get onto the Kampusch thing in a minute.

The Australian only got hold of it today because, for some reason, the authorities have released details. But they knew about it since October 2005: since long before the Kampusch scandal broke.

Before we look at Kampusch, let's have a quick glance at Elfriede Jelinek, the 2004 Nobel Prize winner, who has been handled so harshly by her compatriots. I'm afraid that her Nobel lecture is a little too complex for me to draw out much that is relevant to this story. She does talk about how the writer must stand outside society, in order to serve it.

But her difficult prose and unpleasant characters seem less unsightly, in a way, since this story broke. I will say, for the record, that I enjoyed reading both Lust (trans. 1992) and The Piano Teacher (trans. 1988) very much. She seems to have a handle on the truth, much in the way that Fassbinder did, with movies like Fox (1975; Fox and His Friends in the U.S.). She seems to understand that people do horrible things in private, because they can't help themselves.

The wife of judge Andreas M, it seems, couldn't help herself either. The treatment she meted out to the girls is clearly the result of mental distress. She seems to have done everything in her power to debase the relationship, following her crisis and the granting by the courts of custody of the children to her.

Natascha Kampusch seems to have fared far better than they have, although the amount of time she spent in her dungeon was greater than theirs. At least she could watch TV and talk with her captor, Wolfgang Priklopil.

It is believed the children had contact only with their mother during their captivity and, as a consequence, developed an almost unintelligible language.

Perhaps depriving individuals of language deprives them of something even more precious than the simple pleasures of talking and reading. Perhaps it deprives them of their humanity. If so, then communication may be the most intimately human activity we can perform.

I suppose it's not good form to philosophise on the back of something as grotesque as this but, in the end, that's what people do. And more will come out about this, I'm certain.


frances said...

hey, i really enjoy your blog. it's frances from bookmooch :)

I've been meaning to read 'the piano teacher'

Dean said...

Hi Frances. How's it going?

Jelinek is disturbing and difficult, but (I think) worth the effort.

xingyue (SG) on BookMooch has a copy but they haven't signed in for 67 days, so they might have forgotten about it.

If you want to borrow my copy, just send me an e-mail with your address. I didn't keep the packaging from the book you sent me before.