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Quote of the Week: Sebald’s Radio

This is attributed to the late German writer W.G. Sebald during the last year of his life, 2001:

as i lay down i turned on the radio set standing on the wine crate beside the bed. the names of cities and radio stations with which i used to link the most exotic ideas of my childhood appeared on its round illuminated dial – monte ceneri, rome, ljubljana, stockholm, beromunster, hilversum, prague, and others besides. i turned the volume down very low and listened to a language i did not understand drifting in the air from a great distance: a female voice, which was sometimes lost in the ether, but then emerged again and mingled with the performance of two careful hands moving in some place unknown to me, over the keyboard of a bosendorfer or pleyel and playing certain musical passages, i think from the well tempered clavier, which accompanied me far into the realms of slumber. when i woke in the morning only a faint crackle and hiss was coming from the narrow brass mesh over the loudspeaker. soon afterwards, when i mentioned the mysterious radio at breakfast, austerlitz told me he had always imagined that the voices moving through the air after the onset of darkness, only a few of which we could catch, had a life of their own, like bats, and shunned the light of day…
Originally excerpted on Steve Roden‘s inbetweennoise.blogspot.com on August 25, 2008.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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