Sleeping Beauty

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Translated by Gitta Honegger


PRINCESS

My existence, my being is sleep, therefore life is my logical limit. But maybe my being is waiting for the kiss. Waiting for the kicks, the free kick into a different way of being. Then itís time out for being? No, itís overtime! Any one of you princes, step up, time to score! I would like to have an experience, but I am paralyzed by my inability to wake up. The question is: Are you even the person for whose kiss I should be waiting? I rather not ask the question, since I donít even know who I will be when Iíve woken up. In the meantime I will have been dead. That is, I am still dead at this time. But unlike others, I am not permitted to dissolve in death and turn into nothingness, quite the contrary, I was given the task to pull death into myself until I almost burst, he is the consultant of and constant in my being, so to speak, so that I would overcome his chasm and work everyday for the possibility to be. Why should I have to work so hard, only to end up as dead as before? Next question: Who is the person waking up? Whom will you kiss? Iíve never seen you before. How should I know who you were before, I have lost all connection to life. Yes, Being is incomparable, but what can one do? Anyway, thereís nothing to compare it with. You just come here and say, you are a prince. Well, I suppose you must be, since I seem to have woken up this moment, which could only be possible only because of you, as Mrs. F. predicted ages ago. No matter who you are, I have to take what I get, to be sure. I am not talking in my sleep, from which I wake up occasionally. Apparently, I really am awake now. Mrs F. and her predictions that not even my soul would bear staying in my body forever! And for that fortune-tellers like her dare to charge money, incredible! How could you bear it, my dear Mr. Prince, if not even my soul could! Would you be kind enough to tell me who I am, since I am about to conclude from this kiss who you are? In that regard I am a step ahead of you. Is Prince just your name or are you really one? How stupid. You have to be one, see above; otherwise Iíd still be asleep. But who are you really? Which country do you have in mind to rule? Mine, I bet. And for that I let myself be pricked by a thorn or whatever it was. For a while I rummaged inside myself quite senselessly to find the source of the violent pain, though I could easily see the thorn, that pointed thing, you know. And then I was gone. Out. Film torn. Finished. Who am I? Where am I? It occurred to me now that you must be a prince and I submit to this truth of your being. Okay, many will envy me because of you, but also for myself, because I am also a princess. I appear on cover photos, though not even those can prove to me who I am. Maybe all people are princesses and princes. This is how priests talk, and in their struggles to survive people are stupid enough to believe them. Be that as it may, all people I know are hedges. At least, thatís a step in the right direction. And the big guys treat them mercilessly, like nature unto nature. I vaguely remember. Roses. Thatís enough to make one insecure.What does it say here? A woman says, it was a form of insanity. I hoped to finally be able to live because of him. She says: I wanted to live only for him and it was as if I had found my soul only through him, as if without him I was nothing but an empty vessel and only he was to fulfill me, and only with love. Bravo. This woman has just been created and I can be the first one to congratulate her. She is looking at a man now and seems to know exactly who she has to deal with. So she is getting ready to get the whole thing going and lasting, instead of being content ruminating on what she already has and enjoying the juicy pasture. Now she asks her conquest: Are you the same person you were yesterday? And will you be the same tomorrow? The day after tomorrow? Now that heís already her heart and soul, she also wants to know who he is? Unbelievable. And if he says no, everything will collapse in her. In my case, itís only the hedge, a thorny investment, that will collapse. But since you must be Mr. Right, this hedge will rise and become human instead. Would you please take a step back now, so that you wonít get stepped on, because my royal court will most likely change right now from an overgrown hedge back to human bodies again. I hope the entrances havenít been walled up in the meantime, otherwise people in the shape of their own bodies wouldnít get in, poor things! Not a rosy situation, let me tell you, even though made of roses. Waking up from one condition and not yet or no longer knowing the other which one is supposed to get into. I look at your tanned face, Mr. Prince, at the gel in your dark hair and the muscles under your T-shirt, I look for the knee and the ass in your overly loose surfer pants and I ask: Can it be that it is you somewhere underneath there? Can it be that you are you? Can it be that I am I? Can it be that you mean me? It must be, otherwise you wouldnít be here. That is: If you hadnít come here, neither of us would be here. That is, without your coming here, I wouldnít exist, at least not yet. Thank you.

PRINCE

I was told I should come to you, kiss you, and see what happens. Then take it from there. Something will come out of it in any case. I like what I see, it was worth it, that much I can say already. I am power. Whoever goes against me, loses himself, especially if he wants to take the credit for himself. Itís a good thing you realized right away that you have to thank me and only me for your existence. How should I say it: I am I. As you know, I really am who I am. Thatís the way it is. I would like to be the Eternal One, maybe thatís who I am, since I havenít died yet, on the contrary, I even raised a dead person. With a kiss. Must be a nice awakening: Huddled up and hidden away for so long, and then the first thing you see: God. Me! I! I! I am the one who raises the dead. Time saysóand it is also called: I, and I am here now. No one else. Little mouse, Princess dear, I am sure that earlier, when you were still asleep and no one polished your nails, you couldnít give Being the slightest hint that you were still around. Neither could you give me the pleasure of a postcard, a letter, or a call, even though my cell phone was always turned on. That was just the point: I was not to know where you are and I found you nonetheless. I was the only one! Therefore I simply MUST be God. He who knows what no one else knows. Most probably I even created you myself. If I am God, I can do that. So there. And now I even did away with time because while you were sleeping, you were gone, as predicted, for a hundred years, which now has become the past for you, no no, donít worry, time didnít go away. Since time didnít leave any marks on you, you must have been in the hands of God, who personally stopped the hands of the clock. Yes. Because I am God, I was able to do that too, giving Being a hint that now that I kissed you it should wind up the clock and chase after you like a wild dog, so let the aging begin! In a hundred years there wonít be any more kissing, thereíll be plenty of lifting! But of course, we donít want to perceive time as the enemy of eternity, only as the enemy of female beauty, because I as God can assure you that our goal is not eternity, nor is it its little sister, the eternity of values. So letís have the massacre, I mean the mascara, as long as thereís still time for it, letís get the wrinkle cover up stick. They must have told you the wrong thing. You canít erase time or throw fresh paint on it, once itís there. When our time has come we suddenly regret having a body, which we dearly loved before. Because our goal is a pleasant life to be written up in magazines and shown on television. Thereís nothing like that in eternity, nothing to report about. Nothing can happen after all, because itís always now and one can never read it as the past. It certainly is pleasant for you and me that we donít have to examine right now what eternity has in store for us, I mean that we donít have to examine what eternity would mean to our lives. It could mean, after all, that we could drop dead this moment, or that we would have to kiss each other in all eternity, because we could never turn off this moment again, but later we wanted to go skiing to have our picture taken, and those beloved television cameras would want to be part of our wedding, wouldnít they? Wouldnít you also see it that way?

PRINCESS

Well . . . letís see. Sounds good. Preserving moments. At least we finally have some in stock again. Letís assume that while I was sleeping, I accepted the eternal as its own genuine reality, and it must be something like that, since in my sleep I moved about this timeless eternity like a fish in water. Moreover, I was prophesied eternal love by a prince who would save me; love as another one of your tacky eternal values, I beg your pardon, thatís not one of yours? Thatís supposed to be one of mine? Iím just saying, just because it has shown itself to me, love, well, you still have to honor that voucher, Mr. Prince, we are in agreement on that, arenít we? Well then, admittedly: I was in eternity, suddenly I am thrown into temporality, by you, my dear, but how can I understand my being and the time in which I am I or letís say, in which I am, how then should I understand time ahead of time. I am only just starting to move within this coordinate system according to which women are saying: I was totally fascinated by that man! Furthermore, they are saying: He radiated an inner strength, etc. Being isnít just simply being there, something else is needed. Iíve been stored as a princess and stirred by a prince. Do you really think that saying: God is here, is the same as: The prince is here? A prince, after all, can be deposed by his mother, the queen, because he screwed a mean woman, but who should depose God? Well, maybe even me, because I was also eternal, at least for a while? Sleeping Beauty as the one who defeated God! (who won over God) Wonít that cause some stir in the news and a delicious stir fry to go!

PRINCE

I can see already, if I donít explain it to you, youíll never understand your being, and who could explain it better than I! You got it from me, after all! So then, I, your creator, am telling you: Your Being happens now that I have delivered it to you. But if you want to own it, as your stock-in-trade, something else will have to happen, which I will show you right now.

(He puts on some sort of costume made of plush with a very big penis).

...

The complete text is available in THEATER, Volume 36, Number 2, published by the Yale School of Drama and Duke University Press. (Readers can order it at www.dukeupress.edu/theater ).

 

1.3.2006

 

 


Sleeping Beauty © 2006 Elfriede Jelinek / Translation Gitta Honegger

 

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