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Brief Texts on the Open and Unsettled, Texts from Ulrika Nielsen´s book

Texts from Ulrika Nielsen´s book
BRIEF TEXTS ON THE OPEN AND UNSETTLED
Translated by Olivia Olsen

THE GREATEST

Trouble with the big questions

What is your greatest wish?
What event has most profoundly changed you?
Which was the happiest day of your life?

The smaller ones come closer

How do you take off your shoes? Do you put them away or just leave them?

PALERMO

Hotel breakfast, a lavish buffet. A man enters. He is slight, dressed in an exquisite suit, with a modest, well-trimmed beard and horn-rimmed glasses. He helps himself at the buffet: a pear. He sits at a table, places the linen napkin in his lap, and peels the fruit; the peel spirals down onto the plate, his fingers remain dry. He eats the pear with knife and fork. Then he sweeps an espresso, presses the napkin to his lips, places it with an easy and artful movement on the table, stands up, and leaves.

This was many years ago.
I think of him still.
How I want his pear.

TO MASTER REALITY WITH THE HELP OF TRANSACTIONS

Her father would make calculations several times a day. That was what the family called it, when he counted money. He made calculations on the backs of receipts, on letters and forms, in the margins of the daily paper. Here and there all over the home his straggling numbers would be found, arranged in strange formations, written in blue ballpoint. After his death they found calculations in his desk, written in pencil on the wood at the bottom of the drawer.

She never understood what operations he used, whether it was addition or subtraction or multiplication or an arithmetic of his own devising. The varying numbers and results confused her. Deciphering them was like reading a kind of hieroglyphics. After he had finished making calculations he would often sit very still for a while, and look out the window. The restless gaze as he lowered his pen, the light that fell over his heavy hands on the tabletop. Sometimes his lips moved slightly, as though he wasn’t quite done, but only in the next phase of an always ongoing process.

The problem with the calculations, as far as she could understand, was that they constantly had to be redone in the face of a constantly changing reality. Stock prices would suddenly fall. Interest rates would suddenly rise. His wife, her mother, would decide to make a significant purchase that in turn led to more expenditures that he hadn’t accounted for. She never quite knew whether the calculations moved within the space of smaller time or greater time; if they concerned themselves with the income and expenses of the current month, or whether it was her father’s financial life’s work, possibly his entire existence, at stake.

The calculations were inherited. She didn’t do them often, and always with only a part of herself, while the other watched, much in the same way she in childhood had watched her father’s almost mystical activity. In truth, she understood as little of the calculations now, even as she, herself, performed them. She did not use a pen and scraps of paper, but the computer and the calculator on her phone, and none of it left any trace and was immediately forgotten. After each calculation she was left with a kind of live anxiety that brushed up against the volatility of all existence.

PORTRAIT OF MY MOTHER

One day when I’d washed her windows and we sat on the balcony for a cup of coffee and a cigarette she said: One should never do things too thoroughly. Then she said: I’ll never stop smoking.

SELF PORTRAIT

Each time a cab stops in front of our house I imagine it’s me coming home.

A COMPLICATED FATHER

Their father’s death was full of pain. When
finally he breathed his last, with large
amounts of morphine in his body, his lips
welled over with blood. They became
fixated by his death. Though he was no
longer alive they continued to go
see him. They visited him at the morgue,
the cool room there. An attendant followed
them inside, unlocked the cold storage
where he lay, pulled the coffin out and placed it
open on a table. They stood and watched him,
touched him. He looked so calm.
They wondered at this serenity that had
settled over their father. It was as though
he’d left that intractable “himself” behind
and sailed off. It seemed a miracle. They
looked closer: wasn’t it rather
death that had left him
behind, here? Would he soon again
get up and
head out to the bar?

A COMPLICATED FATHER,
THE SECOND AND FINAL PART

Later, at the grave, one of the sons collapsed.
His scream was all of time; all his
childhood and all his father’s
childhood too that in the space of a moment pressed themselves through
his consciousness.

A SMALL CLOSE DISCOMFORT THAT SCRATCHES AT THE PSYCHE

Loose change in a bowl with buttons, rusted paper clips and dust…

A fainted weekday, and a family member chewing his feed…

Mother’s teaspoon, with dregs of loose-boiled egg…

etcetera etcetera…

CINEMA PARADISO

Watching films as a child, she rarely made much effort to follow the plot. Perhaps she didn’t understand that was the point. Her focus fell, instead, on the light, the heaving fields, the words and how they travelled, voices, gestures, the heft and lightness of bodies, the honey-flow of clothing… Later in life she began to make an effort: it had to do with her newfound interest in normality and what it had to offer. She followed the plot. But every so often she zoomed out, disappeared a little, so to speak. A distraction of sorts. Perhaps she was pulled into a kind of deep, where she found nothing other than depth itself, and then – a path…

SEA CUCUMBERS

The sea cucumber will allow pearlfish to find shelter in its backside at night.
A single one can hold entire schools.

Whether it receives anything in return, I don’t know.
Could also be I remember it wrong.

SPLEEN

Until now she’d never thought of the fact that she has a spleen.
It came to her, and she started, as at the sudden realization of something left on the stove.
Where is it? She pressed down on her abdomen, to the right, to the left.
What does it do all day?

TWO EXTREMES / AT OPPOSITE ENDS

To “choose joy” wasn’t really working.
Cultivating joylessness wasn’t working either.

There were times she couldn’t push into the day.
She’d drift about on its surface, like a bee unable to find its way into the hive, or out of it – she wasn’t sure of the direction.
She devoured a bowl of raspberries.
She trudged on in the whirli

选自Nielsen的书
开放和不安的简略文本
由Olivia Olsen翻译

最伟大的

大问题的烦恼
你最伟大的愿望是什么?
哪件事对你的改变最大?
哪一天是生命中最快乐的一天?

小一点的问题也差不多
你怎么脱鞋?是把鞋收起来还是放那不管?

巴勒莫
酒店早餐,丰盛自助。一个男人进来。他很瘦,穿着精致的西装,留着不张扬而修剪得体的胡子,戴角质眼睛。他自己取餐:一个梨。他在桌边做好,把棉布餐巾放在大腿上,开始削皮;梨皮卷着掉在盘子上,他的手指仍是干的。他用刀叉吃梨。然后他将浓缩咖啡一饮而尽,用餐巾沾一沾嘴唇,用从容而近乎艺术的动作把餐巾放在桌上,起身,走开。
这是很多年前的事。
我仍想起他。
仍想起我是多么想要那颗梨。

用交易掌握现实

她父亲每天都要算好几次。这是家人们的说法,在他数钱的时候。他在票据、信纸和表格背面,以及报纸边缘,算数。家里各处都能找到他字迹潦草的数字,格式很奇怪,用蓝色圆珠笔写的。在他死后,他们在他的桌上找到了算数,在抽屉底的木板上用铅笔写的。

她总不能理解到底他用的什么算法,是加法还是减法或者乘法还是他自己发明的什么算术。不同的数字和得数让她困惑。要解读它们简直就像阅读某种圣书体文本。在他算完后,他常常会非常安静地坐一会,并看向窗外。他放下笔时不安的凝视,灯光从他沉重的双手上落下在桌面上。有时他的嘴唇会轻轻地动,就像他还没算完一样,但只是在一个总是持续下去的下次算数的阶段才这样。

算数的问题,在她看来,是它们总是在一个永远在变动的现实中不得不重做。股票价格会突然下跌。利率会突然上涨。他的妻子,她的母亲,会决定花一大笔钱买东西,而这会造成他没有算到的更多的花销。她从来不知道到底算数是在一小段时间里还是在更长时间里进行的;也不知道这些算数是有关这个月的收入和支出,抑或是她父亲财务生活的工作,或者他的整个存在都利益攸关。

算数得到了继承。她并不常做算数,但她总是有一部分心思在做算术,而其余的心思则看着,很像她小时候看着她父亲做那最神秘的工作一样。说实话,尽管她现在自己做算术,她却并不怎么懂。她并不用笔或者碎纸片,而是用她的电脑和手机上的计算器,而这些都不会留下任何痕迹并会立刻被遗忘。在每次算数之后,她都感到一种活生生的焦虑,这焦虑拂过所有存在的无常。

母亲的肖像
有天在我给她擦窗户的时候,我们坐在阳台上喝咖啡,抽烟,她说:一个人永远不要把事情做太足。然后她说:我永远不会戒烟。

个人肖像
每次有出租车在我们的房子前停下,我都想象那是我到家了。

一个难以捉摸的父亲
他们父亲的死十分痛苦。当
他咽了最后一口气,大量
的吗啡在他的身体里,他的嘴唇
溢出了血。他们开始
纠结于他的死。尽管他已经不
再活着他们仍然去
看望他。他们到太平间看他,
那里冷冷的房间。一个看护随着
他们进去,打开冰冷的停尸柜
里面躺着他,打开棺材敞开
放在桌上。他们站好望着他,
抚摸他。他看着那么平静。
他们惊讶于这宁静
已经笼罩他们的父亲。就好像
他把那不可救药的“自己”留下来
而他已远航。这像个奇迹。他们
凑近看:“难道不是
死亡把他抛下,
留在这里?他会不会很快
起来
然后去酒吧?”

一个难以捉摸的父亲,
第二和最后一部分

后来,在墓地,有一个儿子崩溃了。
他嘶吼的全都是时间;所有他的
童年和所有他父亲的
童年也在一瞬间的空间抚摸过
他的意识。

挠着灵魂的小而切近的不快
散落的零钱在碗里还有纽扣,生锈的曲别针和尘埃… …
一个昏沉的工作日,和一个吃着狗粮的家庭成员… …
母亲的茶匙,上面还有没煮熟的鸡蛋的渣… …
等等 等等… …

影院天堂
小时候看电影,她从不费心去追随剧情。或许她不理解那才是重点。她把注意力放到了光线,起伏的田野,台词和他们如何旅行,声音,手势,身体的灵活与轻盈,衣裳的流动… …后来,她开始试着了解剧情:这和她新发现的对常态的兴趣及它能给她的东西有关。她追随者剧情。但她每每会拉远一些,会消失一点,这么说吧。某种分神。或许她被拉进某种深,那里除了深邃本身再无他物,然后—一条路… …

海参
海参会让贝潜鱼晚上在它的背面藏身。
一只海参能藏下一大群小鱼。

至于它会得到什么回报,我不知道。
也可能是我记错了。

脾脏
直到现在她也不觉得她有脾脏。
她突然意识到,她开始感觉到,就像突然想到忘了炉子里烤着东西。
它在哪?她往下按自己的肚子,向左,向右。
脾脏每天在干些什么?

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