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Søren Fauth & Rebekka Boyding DET R BLADENES MÅDE AT FALDE PÅ (2022)

Who these days wants to read about the point of view of a cis white male tenured professor with children who gets to sleep with an intelligent, artistic woman twenty-five years his junior after an off-the-peg midlife divorce? Or, more pointedly, who'll admit to preferring Fauth’s poem over more worthy writers ? Even Michel Houellebecq has the tact to be a physically decrepit, morally bankrupt specimen so that his flipflopping between selective nihilism and bonafide sentimentality can be excused as the product of an addled mind. Hard to feel empathy let alone sympathy for one of the most successful German scholars in Denmark who spends his summers in the Spanish countryside engaged in long-distance endurance cycling. If nothing else, Fauth should be commended for almost entirely eschewing the political fashions of today and writing about something that is true to themselves without any gestures of contrition to the standard middle-class liberal literati. And yet we do want to read Fauth! It's exciting, it's human, it's refreshingly free and honest. Somehow the very thing which Fauth has been pilloried for—his 'exploitation' of those nearest and dearest in the services of his poetic narrative—could also be an act of vulnerability and kindness. Those in his circle, whether it's his sons or his friends or his lovers are sometimes beautifully elevated. They certainly get the best lines. Fauth dares to bring these significant others in. He takes chances with them and on them. Rather that, than the shades of carefully juxtaposed cardboard 'characters' conscientiously made fictional so as not risk accusations of significant distortion. Autofictional or not, the work slots in with the tradition of Bernhard, Céline, Handke and Espedal, whose work came before and will outlast the fad. Towards the end of the poem, the bike-seat accident and the graphic tearing at the parts which maketh the man serves as a kind of grotesque black comedy of masculinity and a knowing provocation to readers who'll mistake this as a display of aggressively macho libido. Perhaps they'll be right to feel offended. The scene obviously functions as a tangible symbol of masculine endurance. But it also could be seen as connected to that blind, futile but no less irrepressible Schopenhauerian 'will'. This scene, like physical relationships, and the making of sausages is none too pretty when examined close up. Comically messy, in fact. And yet, an ecstasy in the blood. Arguably, what makes Fauth's work different to his predecessors is the development of both a unique style of verse layout and lineation (the gaps, the breaks, the looping of phrases), and in this work (as in his earlier experimental poem, 'Universet er slidt') is the conceptual use of formatting. The simple inclusion of a folded up pull-out section which one must read after the work as a whole, only to discover that a) it appears to be the very letter we hear of in passing as the most beautiful thing anyone has ever written to him at the heart of the narrative (which the reader assumes is not detailed because he fears being disproven) and b) that it deserves that praise, standing out as it does, serving as the perfect coda to the work, one which could be physically removed, lost or retracted depending on the fragilities of intimacy. The pull-out appendix is absolutely vital to the poem as a whole. I think the inclusion of ‘R's (Rebekka Boyding) pull-out letter works on a number of levels. It balances out Fauth’s moving attempt to relay his father's rich vivid accounts of his past when contrasted with his hopeless present. And it contrasts with Fauth's previous writing by being kind and warm and expressing genuine admiration for his ex-wife in contrast to the bursts of cruelty which punctuate Moloch's account of her and the reviled 'tooth fairy'. And then there's what I take to be a philosophical subtext to the letter which contrasts a kind of Hegelian drive to progress with its attendant dramatic ironies ('...this will never last') and the Parmenidean revelation of the letter itself. Teleology is ruined. But at our best moments we get an intuition of eternity where everything seems to have been worked out in advance according to an implacable natural logic.

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