How do you deal with snob women

Macaroni. dusk

Transcript

1 Vicki Baum Macaroni in the Twilight Features Edited by Veronika Hofeneder Edition Atelier Vienna

2 Contents The columnist Vicki Baum 7 Discretion 25 Mahler rehearsal 28 Kapellmeister and conductors 32 Orchestra musicians 35 The mirror 39 The car in the film 43 Unmasked love. The chemistry of emotions 46 ballet lesson. Pictures from the school of the Berlin State Opera 53 Children with the photographer 56 The singing woman 60 The gentleman in the other car. A story of spring 63 Children wander around 70 The correct adjective 74 A short story of jealousy 76 The bathing beach 79 Dress of an actress 83 Search for summer 85 O these parents! The Generational Gap 88 The beautiful hat. A women's question 91 The little acquaintance 93 Experiences with rejuvenation. A tour of the laboratories of a new science 96 theaters in the stalls. A monologue 108 Variations of love 110 My most beautiful travel experience 115 A letter to Harald Paulsen 118 The swan Friedrich 121 The boring eroticism 127 Conductors 130 You can park here 132 What people keep falling for Conversation with an impostor 133 Tomorrow's mothers will be the fritters of tomorrow today 139 What do you think of menswear? 144 Forgotten perfume. An unwritten novella 148 Cosmetics for men 158 Protest against fashion 163

3 Inhibitions 166 Need for men 167 Presents for mom 169 The woman who can move mountains. A monologue 176 Apropos age 179 Longing for purple 180 Discretion 181 Looking for a word 181 Small demands on women Brought back from the Sahara 184 Arrival in the mountains 186 Of dance and dancers 189 Which woman is most desirable? 192 Quartet under the traffic lights 196 How does the woman want to be won over ...? 199 Biography in clothes 201 Lipstick, perfume and lingerie in Soviet Russia 204 Macaroni in the twilight 208 I wonder 210 The cosmetic age 213 Information about Lady Chatterly 217 Woman among women 220 A simple sandwich in the Sahara 225 Fear of kitsch 232 A bit of New York : Looking Good 235 My Own Little Story 240 The Four Dollar Paradise 248 The Hollywood Crickets 251 The Joy of Movement 254 A Day for Beauty 256 Unhappy in Hollywood! The Life of the Big and Small Stars 259 I Discover America 265 Balancing Act 281 Forced Labor in Hollywood 285 The Old Socks Lesson 288 Bibliographical Notes and Explanations 292 Timeline 318

4 reading sample

5 Macaroni in the Twilight (Die Dame, 1931) When I was a baby I was given many picture books; that stopped between my fifth and sixth year, the time when I learned to read with much art and tenacity. But lately it has started again. Picture books have become a gift item that piles up in piles on the modern adult's gift table. First of all, it has to do with the advances in photography and the achievements of printing technology, I was told. And second, with those infantile qualities that have grown up in the nature of the modern adult: impatience and curiosity. Why bother reading? thinks this modern adult, because you can photograph anything and everything! The fried results fly into his brain, he no longer needs to use the detour of thinking to help. Animals look at us, children look at us, things look at us, and we look at them, with fairly uncomfortable pleasure and without much criticism. The photographers, these bastards, can figure it all out. They show us: the face of cities, the face of time, women of today, the man of tomorrow. You will discover skyscrapers, hands, the filaments of the line of fire, death masks, the love game of sticklebacks, the dance of the machines and the landscape that is reflected in a drop of water. You snap and we don't have to do anything anymore. We get all the impressions completely exposed and pre-chewed. There is one type of photography that has gotten very out of hand. To my inner relief, I have the collective name "Macaroni in the Twilight" 208

6 invented for this. Do you know what i mean? I mean: two hundred spools of thread on a table top, a bit of light play and a bit of perspective magic. I mean: Eighteen pairs of shoes placed one behind the other and taken from below at an angle in such a way that they look like a street or a tower. Brand: factual photography. I mean: Three and a quarter pounds of peeled rice flow out of a jute sack (wonderful how the material lives! Says the connoisseur). Doesn't that look wonderful? Yes, dear photographers, it looks wonderful when you see it for the first time. Even the third time it makes an impression and the tenth time it is a pleasure. But the hundredth time it starts to get boring. We slowly got behind your tricks, we know your eternal staircase, pushed together from below into a snail, your boldly shortened house facades and your chimney silhouettes. You're still coming, you've been coming for three or four years and you keep trying to surprise us with the same thing. But we already know! Eight hundred tar barrels. Well. A thousand glass plates. Nice. Twelve hundred wooden spoons. Excellent. Two thousand Allgäu cheeses. Splendid. Four thousand pounds of macaroni. Wonderful how it looks. And not so factual? Please excuse me: No. It is not as factual and up-to-date or as flawless in terms of keywords as it claims to be. There is a lot of arrangement in it, Jupiter light from the top left and a reflective glass surface underneath and a reflex tickled out with silver paper, and there is a lot of routine, a little too much routine. It's not macaroni per se, but macaroni in the twilight. That went through my head as I leafed through the picture books that dear Santa Claus had given me

7 because I forgot to read like many of my contemporaries. I don't want to give the names of the books I mean, they are very good books and the best photographers around, and it might look like vicious and inappropriate grumbling. On the contrary, it should be an encouragement: Let's go from the macaroni, dear and grateful photographers, and off to the discovery of new and more moving things. I wonder (Die Dame, 1931). achieved a worldwide success. The play has been performed in Berlin, Vienna and many German cities, is now the most popular stage work in New York and will soon also be performed in London and Paris. Vicki Baum tells here how the work was created and how the characters in the various performances affect them. Writing novels is a clean, beautiful craft; do I have to be ashamed to admit that I am in love with this craft? I've written novels as far back as I can remember. The earliest of them, written in children's handwriting in a blue-lined exercise book, begins like this: »Thank you, I prefer to carry my violin alone! said Hans Helder; (Helder was the hero of my nine-year-old heart!) And closed the door of the artist's room behind him. I think 210 touched

8 countless manuscripts that I wrote just for myself, just for my drawer, my wastebasket, my own manuscript crematorium; and with quiet anticipation I look forward to the many novels that I will write as an old lady, completely out of course, and only for myself. Simply from the joy of the craft of writing and without that hyena-like greed of making money that has been assumed in me since my print runs have increased. But I didn't want to talk about novels, I wanted to talk about theater. I only mentioned novel writing for the sake of contrast. Coming to the theater, being performed at the theater, it feels like coming under a steamroller. A moment ago you were still healthy and had your three plastic dimensions. One is seized by the theater, pressed to the ground, rolled out. You come out completely flat; everything that has been thought or written becomes completely flat. And then you stand there and wonder. I have to, I see, start with the end to explain my astonishment. For example, I wrote a play there: "People in the Hotel", which has become something of a global success. They play it in New York, London, Paris and everywhere. I wonder it's mine, I wonder they play it, I wonder people go to see this thing. Because it's not a play at all, but a novel that, after much persuasion, I squeezed right and wrong from the epic into the dramatic form. It was like Cinderella's sisters, for whom the shoe didn't fit: "Mother handed her a knife and said: Cut off a piece of the heel." Yes, such stage figures are imperfect and simple as decals. If I 211

9 seeing her in the theater, I don't recognize my oldest thought friends. I've been so intimate with some of them, I've lived with them for years of my life. For example, there is someone I was fond of: Kringelein, a short, terminally ill civil servant who wants to "capture life." It is like this with Kringelein: I saw him when I was fourteen years old and was playing the harp at a choir concert in a small town in Lower Austria. It was a short, elderly, scrawny man, wounded with a shaved head, with an angry-looking woman; he stepped out of line at a certain point in the program and sang the tenor solo in a thin, bright, and trembling voice. This man, whom I have never spoken to, occupied me from my fourteenth to my fortieth years. I've been thinking about him, I've spied on him, I've written an endless novel about his life and thrown it away. At last I compressed the essence of this figure into its last three days. I made the novel "People in the Hotel" out of these three days and the theater play "People in the Hotel" from the novel. No wonder that I am surprised now when I meet him on stage and he doesn’t have his face or my face, but the face of an actor. I am amazed when this man looks different in every city: in Berlin with young Kemp he was old, disheveled, childlike; in Vienna Edthofer lent him his weary elegance; in London, where Ronald Squire plays him, this poor clerk (as they call him there) is sure to be a bon vivant too; in the provinces even high school students played the piece. At that time he was an eighteen-year-old proletarian. In New York he's a young person from the ghetto, so I wonder. I know so many 212

10 secrets of this man Kringelein, much more than I have ever told about him; on stage it is clear; he has no secret; what he knows, he says, and that's that. I don't mean to say anything against the theater, on the contrary; its mathematical possibilities are many times that of the game of chess. It turns one figure into a hundred different figures. It makes one actor a hundred different people. And sometimes the one great actor from a hundred different characters: Dorsch, Bassermann, Max Pallenberg. No, nothing against the theater! When I was first pulled out from under the steamroller, I swore, solemnly and seriously: never to write a piece again. It was perjury, to say the least. I wrote another one. And I can't wait for the moment when I'm supposed to get under the steamroller for the second time. The Cosmetic Age (Der Freihafen, 1931) Not that cosmetics have not always existed. Not to mention the refinement of the Egyptian woman: I have heard the story of the Venetian women of the Renaissance who sat on the roofs and dried their blonde-dyed hair so often that once and for all I cannot imagine any other than on the roofs of houses and with wet, dyed hair. It was their method of making the color that made Titian so popular. In addition, 213

11 even then, the level of cosmetics was related to the freedom of love. Our mothers, on the other hand, middle-class as they were, swore by emperor borax and glycerine. Women of poor reputation also used benzoin to bleach their skin, and nineteenth-century ladies are said to have washed their faces and shoulders with milk. We are far from such simplicity of morals. If you have the time, you can read statistics from which you can see the sums of money cosmetics bring in sales, how many people cannot live without them and how many people live from them. Doctoral theses could be written about how densely today's life is fibrillated by the influences of cosmetics. Women are active in cosmetics. The men are passive. They do not know what is happening to them. They have no idea that three-quarters of their sympathies and antipathies, their emotional emotions, their life decisions, take place with the help of cosmetics. When a man has to make a choice and decision between women, he always decides according to looks, even if he doesn't know. And not just in love. For every woman looking for a job, her hairdresser, her type of powder, her perfume are of fateful importance. In their innocence, men always have to say: We don't like well-dressed women at all. We love the natural, the beautiful and so on. Unfortunately, nature and beauty are not always synonymous. What men mean when they say "no make-up" is what every woman knows is "good make-up". So made up that you don't notice it, so made up that it looks good, so made up that you can believe it, but for God's sake not "not made up". 214

12 Cosmetics is an intense and comforting occupation for snob women, luxury women, women who don't know what to do with their time. But it is also shockingly democratic. Crême and powder have become common property of women, lady and chambermaid, general manager's wife, secretary and worker use the same kind hammered into their consciousness by advertising, and all women are equal in front of the hairdresser's scissors. In every corner of the province one can find beauty institutes today, in which the whole, mysterious alchemy of cosmetics is mastered. "One must take care of oneself" has become as self-evident as "one must eat" or "one must live". Now you don't have to believe that this cosmetic hype just came along for no reason or destination. It has been reported that since the war there has been a certain majority of women in the cultured world. The supply is greater than the demand, to put it economically. So women live under rather harsh conditions: in love, in eroticism, in marriage, at work. And what women look for in the cells of beauty salons and often also find what they bob, undulate, tighten, clean, anoint, powder, paraffin pack, starve and paint, that is in one word: competitiveness. The result is clear. One could say cum grano salis: every woman gets pretty and no woman gets old. A special invention, discovery and specialty of our cosmetic age are women who "still" look good. For the still-women, the struggle is the hardest and the life the hardest. There is no torture they cannot endure, no sacrifice they cannot make, no prospectus that they would not believe

13 just to achieve this "still". Don't smile too much at them, dear ones! The women who "still" look good today are the same women for whom war and inflation have escaped the ten best years of their lives. It is the women who were not much over twenty then and who are not much under forty today. They run after their unlived youth, that is probably the main thing. Treat those who are still beautiful to the consolation of the henna color, permanent waves, chin bands and radio- or hormone-containing magic ointments. There are few things as exhausting as this: still looking good. It's not just about the man, they claim; and that is as surely true as hundreds of thousands of women toil at work today and have to assert themselves. But it is also very much about the man if the whole truth is to be told. Because there is now an eternal justice, our time has sent an opponent to the still-women who are ready to fight and who have fallen short: the young man with the mother complex. This young man was perhaps a schoolboy of 14 when the war began and his present mistress was twenty-five. In the years of development he got too little to eat, missed his father, afterwards he probably also experienced all sorts of changes and breakdowns in the parental home, and in the end he was put out of life a bit at a loss, with no goal, inwardly slender as he is and whole without trust in yourself or any thing in the world. He is predestined to be the friend of one of those hard-knocked, conscious women who are still good-looking

14 You see these couples in coffeehouses and at registry offices; they not only hang out in dance halls, but they also marry, and most of the time they get on surprisingly well. The young man with the mother complex lets himself be pampered and guided. The woman leads, directs, acts as a buffer between him and life, she works and when she has a little free time, then she runs after the cosmetics, then she sits in front of the mirrors and stares at herself and tries to get ten years ahead magic away, and every means is right for her. It depends on the point of view. You can say: flirtatious women who have faded and who can't get enough, and unstable gigolos who let themselves be souted. You can also say: poor devils, everyone. One could say: Cosmetics are a hoax, and we still haven't got any further than the borax and glycerine and benzene of our mothers and everything else is suggestion. But one can also say: God bless suggestion and cosmetics. Because there are things in our time that would be unbearable without make-up. Information about Lady Chatterley (Vossische Zeitung, 1931) Do you actually know Lady Chatterley? Are you embarrassed? Because you know her? Because you've never heard of her? Neither need to be embarrassed. Lady Chatterley is the infamous heroine of a notorious and ubiquitous forbidden book by D. H. Lawrence. Since Lawrence wrote this book he has been dead to England before he died, grass growing over his name and the 217