Collecting – “Wurzeln schlagen”

I am currently preparing for an MFA in Creative Writing that will (hopefully) take the form of a fictional essay on the topics of personal identity, cultural identity, rootlessness, the in-between stage of being foreign and no longer accord with one’s home, cultural spaces, linguistic spaces, living in translation, writing in a foreign tongue, identity as a writer, and imaginary spaces as a surrogate for physical rootedness.

This is where I will [among many other things] collect works and quotes that relate to this research.

Wurzeln schlagen – Das lange Warten aufs Heimischwerden.


Refuge for the homeless. – The predicament of private life today is shown by its arena. Dwelling, in the proper sense, is now impossible. The traditional residences we grew up in have grown intolerable: each trait of comfort in them is paid for with a betrayal of knowledge, each vestige of shelter with the musty pact of family interests. The functional modern habitations designed from a tabula rasa, are living-cases manufactured by experts for philistines, or factory sites that have strayed into the consumption sphere, devoid of all relation to the occupant: in them even the nostalgia for independent existence, defunct in any case, is sent packing.”

Theodor W. Adorno – Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life (Transl. E. F. N. Jephcott)


The Rings of Saturn, metaphorically, transforms into a hall of mirrors wherein the disjoint reflections from the past, ceaselessly colliding against each other, fabricate the present. However, Sebald’s compelling memoir incapacitates both visual and verbal tropes as lacking in adequate representational powers that fail to resist the abrasions caused by passing Time and are, as a result, finally obliterated beyond any meaningful redemption. Individual and Collective Memory, as he indicates, are partially capable of salvaging the past; but are constrained with a crippling dependency on man-made artifacts: the printed text or the photograph, for instance. These again, are inadequately endowed with the precise power to re-present reality. The re-presentational capabilities of language, as Sebald implies in The Rings of Saturn, too, remains [sic.] seriously questionable and its premises flawed, as its coordinates can be easily displaced or falsified and thrown off balance through constant and repeated manipulation and morphing of texts and contexts.”

Satarupa Sinha Roy – “Mending to Live: Memory, Trauma and Narration in The Writings of Kazuo Ishiguro, Herta Müller and W.G. Sebald” in: HUMANICUS issue 6, 2011.