the short story project

search

Peter Bichsel | from:German

The Man Who No Longer Wanted to Know Anything

Translated by : Imogen Taylor

Image: Joana Keler

Introduction by Tilman Rammstedt

I don’t think my parents had any idea what they were doing when they gave me an LP of Peter Bichsel’s Kindergeschichten when I was eight. The stories, after all, were called ‘Children’s Stories’ and the man on the record sleeve looked nice, if a touch eccentric. My parents didn’t know how hypnotising those stories would be – that soft Swiss singsong, those cascades of sentences, those lists and crescendos that invariably culminated in the clearest, soberest and most sobering sentences. It was only years later, when I reread the stories in my early twenties, that I myself realised how deeply, how existentially sad they are. But at the same time there was always hope, always that brief moment when everything seemed possible – walking around the world or discovering an unknown country or, as in The Man Who No Longer Wanted to Know Anything, forgetting everything you’ve ever learnt. These hopes were always dashed, because the world is as it is – too bumpy, too well-known, too obtrusive. But still there was a scrap of something left – a scrap of hope or consolation, or at the very least a scrap of perseverance. There was always a slight doubt whether the impossible might not prove possible after all. ‘I’d like to be an Indian rhinoceros,’ says the man in The Man Who No Longer Wanted to Know Anything, ‘but I suppose it’s too late for that.’ And yes, he’s probably right, but in that ‘suppose’ of his there remains a scrap of possibility, of hope, and we must watch over that ‘suppose’, praise it and cherish it and keep seeking it out. As a writer I have stolen shamelessly from Peter Bichsel, but as a reader I owe him even more.

Read more

‘From now on, I don’t want to know anything,’ said the man who no longer wanted to know anything.

‘I don’t want to know a thing.’

That’s easily said.

It is easily said.

And hardly had he said it, when the telephone began to ring.

And rather than ripping the wire out of the wall, which is what he should have done as he no longer wanted to know anything, the man picked up the receiver and said his name.

‘Hello,’ said the other person.

‘Hello,’ said the man.

‘Nice weather today,’ said the other person.

And the man didn’t say: ‘I don’t want to know.’ He even said: ‘Yes, you’re right, the weather’s very nice today.’

And then the other person said something else.

And the man said something else. Then he replaced the receiver in its cradle and felt very cross because now he knew the weather was nice.

And now he did rip the wire out of the wall and he shouted: ‘I don’t want to know that and I’m going to forget it.’

That’s easily said.

It is easily said.

Because the sun was shining through the window, and when the sun shines through the window, you know the weather is nice. The man closed the shutters, but now the sun shone through the cracks.

The man fetched paper, papered over the windowpanes, and sat in the dark.

He sat there for a long time, and when his wife came in and saw the papered-over windows she got a shock. ‘What’s all this?’ she asked.

‘It’s to keep the sun out,’ said the man.

‘But now you have no light,’ said the woman.

‘That’s a disadvantage,’ said the man, ‘but it’s for the best. I may have no light if I have no sun, but at least I don’t know the weather is nice.’

‘What do you have against nice weather?’ said the woman. ‘Nice weather makes you happy.’

‘I’ve nothing against nice weather,’ said the man. ‘I’ve nothing at all against the weather. But I don’t want to know what it’s like.’

‘Well, at least turn the light on,’ said the woman, and she was about to turn it on, but the man ripped the lamp from the ceiling and said: ‘I don’t want to know that either. I don’t want to know that you can turn the light on.’

When his wife heard that, she started to cry.

And the man said: ‘The thing is, you see, I no longer want to know anything.’

And because the woman didn’t understand, she stopped crying and left her husband in the dark.

And there he stayed for a very long time.

When the people who came to visit the woman asked after her husband, the woman told them: ‘The thing is, you see, he’s sitting in the dark and no longer wants to know anything.’

‘What doesn’t he want to know?’ asked the people, and the woman said: ‘Nothing. He no longer wants to know anything at all.

‘He no longer wants to know what he sees, such as what the weather’s like.

‘He no longer wants to know what he hears, such as what people say.

‘And he no longer wants to know what he knows, such as how you switch the light on.

‘That’s how it is, you see,’ said the woman.

‘Ah, so that’s how it is,’ said the people and they stopped coming to visit.

And the man sat in the dark.

And his wife brought him his food.

And she said: ‘Tell me something you don’t know anymore.’

And he said: ‘I still know everything.’ And he was very sad because he still knew everything.

When his wife heard that, she tried to comfort him and said: ‘But you don’t know what the weather’s like.’

‘I don’t know what it’s like,’ said the man, ‘but I still know what it can be like. I remember rainy days and sunny days.’

‘You’ll forget,’ said the woman.

And the man said:

‘That’s easily said.

‘It is easily said.’

And he stayed in the dark, and every day his wife brought him his food, and the man looked at his plate and said: ‘I know they’re potatoes, I know that’s meat, and I know that’s cauliflower – and it’s all no use; I’ll always know everything. And I know every word I say.’

And the next time his wife came, she said: ‘Tell me something you still know.’

And he said: ‘I know a lot more than I used to. Not only do I know what nice weather is like and what bad weather is like, I also know what it’s like when there’s no weather. And I know that even when it’s quite dark, it isn’t dark enough.’

‘But there are some things you don’t know,’ said his wife and was about to go when he held her back, and she said: ‘You don’t know how to say “nice weather” in Chinese.’ And she went out, closing the door behind her.

When the man heard that, he began to think. It was true he knew no Chinese, and it was no good saying: ‘I no longer want to know that either,’ because he hadn’t learnt any yet.

‘First I have to know what I don’t want to know,’ the man cried, and he tore open the window and opened the shutters, and outside the window it was raining and he looked out at the rain.

Then he walked into town to buy himself books about learning Chinese, and he came back and for weeks he pored over those books and drew Chinese characters on paper.

And when people came to visit the woman and asked after her husband, she said: ‘The thing is, you see, he’s learning Chinese now. That’s how it is, you see.’

And the people stopped coming to visit.

But it takes months and years to learn Chinese, and when at last the man had learnt all there was to learn, he said:

‘I still don’t know enough.

‘I have to know everything. Only then can I say that I no longer want to know any of it.

‘I have to know how wine tastes – bad wine and good wine.

‘And when I eat potatoes, I have to know how you grow them.

‘I have to know what the moon looks like, because although I can see it, that doesn’t mean I know what it looks like – and I have to know how to get there.

And I have to know the names of the animals, and what they look like and what they do and where they live.’

And he bought himself a book about rabbits and a book about chickens and a book about woodland animals and another about insects.

And then he bought himself a book about the Indian rhinoceros.

He was very taken with the Indian rhinoceros.

He went to the zoo and found it there, standing in a big cage and not moving.

And the man saw plainly that the rhinoceros was trying to think and trying to know something, and he saw what a lot of trouble that was giving the rhinoceros.

And whenever the rhinoceros had a thought, it was so pleased it went running off. Round and round the cage it went, two or three times, forgetting the thought as it went, and then it stopped and stood still for a long time – one hour, two hours – until the thought came back, and off it went again.

And because it always ran off a little too soon, it never really had any thoughts at all.

‘I’d like to be an Indian rhinoceros,’ said the man, ‘but I suppose it’s too late for that.’

Then he went home and thought about his rhinoceros.

He now spoke of nothing else.

‘My rhinoceros,’ he said, ‘thinks too slowly and runs off too soon, and that’s as it should be.’ And he forgot what it was he had wanted to know in order to no longer want to know it.

And his life continued much as before.

Only now he knew Chinese.


*This story is taken from: Kindergeschichten by Peter Bichsel. © Suhrkamp Verlag Frankfurt am Main 1997.

23

77 thoughts on “The Man Who No Longer Wanted to Know Anything

  1. I always was interested in this topic and stock still am,
    thanks for putting up.

    0
  2. Can you tell us more about this? I’d love to find out some additional information.

    0
  3. Ass Sex Toy says:

    Paragraph writing is also a fun, if you be acquainted with then you can write if not
    it is complex to write.

    Here is my web-site … Ass Sex Toy

    0
  4. I have read so many content concerning the blogger lovers however this piece of writing is really
    a nice piece of writing, keep it up.

    0
  5. I am actually thankful to the owner of this web page who
    has shared this enormous article at at this place.

    0
  6. I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the layout of your website?

    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.

    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with
    it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having
    1 or 2 images. Maybe you could space it out better?

    0
  7. Wonderful web site. A lot of helpful information here.
    I’m sending it to a few buddies ans also sharing in delicious.
    And naturally, thank you to your effort!

    Feel free to visit my web-site – newborn photography

    0
  8. Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your webpage?
    My website is in the very same area of interest as yours and my users would truly benefit from a
    lot of the information you present here. Please let me know if
    this alright with you. Appreciate it!

    0
  9. Hey there! This is my first visit to your blog!
    We are a team of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche.

    Your blog provided us valuable information to
    work on. You have done a extraordinary job!

    0
  10. Hello. Great job. I did not imagine this. This is a splendid story.
    Thanks!

    Feel free to surf to my website … weight loss and fasting

    0
  11. Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let
    you know a few loss of libido the images aren’t loading
    properly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.

    I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and both
    show the same results.

    0
  12. I do agree with all the concepts you have offered to your post.
    They are really convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are very quick
    for newbies. Could you please prolong them a bit from next time?
    Thank you for the post.

    Also visit my webpage :: outdoor dance photography

    0
  13. Only wanna input on few general things, The website layout is perfect, the articles is real wonderful :D.

    Here is my web-site :: hemp seed sprouts

    0
  14. Magnificent beat ! I wish to apprentice whilst you amend your web site,
    how could i subscribe for a weblog website? The account helped me a acceptable deal.
    I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright transparent idea.

    Feel free to visit my page – weight watchers

    0
  15. My programmer is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the costs.
    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using WordPress on numerous websites for about
    a year and am concerned about switching to another platform.
    I have heard fantastic things about blogengine.net.
    Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content into it?
    Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated!

    0
  16. ceath says:

    The divorce aid column covers often asked questions regarding financing and divorce.
    https://free-divorce-advice.com/north-carolina/how-do-you-know-when-your-husband-no-longer-loves-you-3/

    0
  17. Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed
    reading it, you’re a great author.I will ensure that I
    bookmark your blog and will eventually come back someday.
    I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great posts, have a nice morning!

    0
  18. Wonderful website you have here but I was wondering iff you knew
    of aany discussion boarxs that cover the same topics discussed
    here? I’d really lovee tto be a part of community where I can get suggestions from
    other knowledgeabpe people that share the same interest.
    If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thanks!

    Stop by mmy page: fluorescent light panels

    0
  19. Excellenht site you have here but I was wanting to know if you knsw of anny
    community forums that cober the same topics talked about in this article?
    I’d really like tto be a part of online community where I can get
    suggestions from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest.
    If you have any recommendations, please let me know.
    Many thanks!

    Also visit mmy page samsung Lcdhd

    0
  20. Asking questions are actually nice thing if yoou are not understanding anything fully, but this
    paragraph provides pleasant understanding yet.

    Also visit my web page: Girl Sex Doll

    0
  21. What’s up, I log on to your new stuff daily.
    Your story-telling style is awesome, keep it up!

    Here is my site :: outdoor boudoir photography ideas

    0
  22. It’s rreally very complex in this busy life to listen news on Television, therefore I just use
    internet for that reason, and take the most recet news.

    my webpage; Mini Sex Doll

    0
  23. I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This article posted at this web site
    is actually fastidious.

    0
  24. Hi there! This is my first visit too your blog! We are a tsam
    of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same
    niche. Youur blog provided us beneficial information tto work on. You have done a extraordinary job!

    Look into myy blog – Allfreelads.In.Net

    0
  25. whoah this weblog is magnificent i like reading your articles.

    Keep up the good work! You recognize, a lot of individuals are hunting round for
    this info, you could aid them greatly.

    my webpage – Japanese Sex doll

    0
  26. I’m not that much off a online reaader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up!
    I’ll go ahead and bokkmark yohr site to come back later
    on. All the best

    My website Lifelike Sex Doll

    0
  27. I drop a copmment when I like a post on a site or iif I have something to add to
    the discussion.It is caused by the sincerness communicated inn thhe
    article I read. And on this post The Man Whho No Longger Wanted to Know Anything – Peter Bichsel | The Short Story Project.
    I was excited enough to post a thoughht 🙂 I doo have 2 questions forr you if you usually
    do not mind. Coul it be just me or does it look
    like like a few off the responses appear like thhey are written byy brain dead people?
    😛 And, if yyou are writing on additional online sites,
    I’d like to follow you. Could you make a lkst
    all of your communal pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

    Check out myy web-site – Silicone Sex Dolls

    0
  28. Ꮩery good aгtіcle. I will be dealing with many of thesе issyes as ѡell..

    Feeⅼ free to visit my web-site … Sex Doll Anal

    0
  29. I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this website.

    I really hope to view the same high-grade content by you in the future as well.
    In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my
    own website now 😉

    0
  30. I reakly like whst you guys are usually up too.
    Such clever work and exposure! Keep up the great works guys I’ve includded you guys
    to our blogroll.

    My website Real Sex Doll

    0
  31. These are truly enormous ideas in about blogging. You have touched some
    nice points here. Any way keep up wrinting.

    0
  32. Hello, I enjoy reading through your article post.

    I like to write a little comment to support you.

    0
  33. Margot says:

    Thank you for another informative site. Thee place else may just I am getting that type of info written in such an ideal
    manner? I have a proect that I am simply
    now working on, and I’ve been on the glance out for such information.

    my web site – Margot

    0
  34. miisoodoll says:

    Write more, thats all I hve to say. Literally, it seemns as though
    youu relied on the video to make your point. You
    clearly know whawt youre talking about, why waste your
    intelligence on just pposting videos to your bloog when youu
    could be giving us something enlightening to read?

    My page; miisoodoll

    0
  35. Realdoll Com says:

    Thаnks for finally talkіng aЬօut > The Man Who No Longer Wanteԁ to Know Anything – Peter Bіchsel
    | Thе Shοrtt Story Proϳeⅽt < Loved it!

    Look at my blog; Realdoll Com

    0
  36. Ralph says:

    Appreciate the recommendation. Will try it out.

    Heere is my homepage Ralph

    0
  37. Thank you for sharing your info. I truly appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your next post thank you once again.

    0
  38. Wow, this post is pleasant, my sister is analyzing such things,
    therefore I am going to convey her.

    Take a lopk at my webpage Hentai Sex Doll

    0
  39. Erika says:

    I’m extremely impressed with your writing abilities and also with the format to your weblog.
    Is that this a paid subject or did you modify it
    your self? Anyway stay up the nice high quality writing, it
    is rare to peer a great blog like this one today..

    0
  40. It’s awesome to visit tis site and reading the views of all colleagues about this article, while
    I am also keen of getting knowledge.

    Feeel frde to surf to my weeb page Flat Chested Sex Doll

    0
  41. KevinGlymn says:

    Hi, here on the forum guys advised a cool Dating site, be sure to register – you will not REGRET it [url=https://bit.ly/3sCrmNV]https://bit.ly/3sCrmNV[/url]

    0
  42. Hi, after reading this awesome post i am as well glad to
    share my familiarity here with friends.

    0
  43. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it, you are a great author.I will
    ensure that I bookmark your blog and will often come back very soon. I want to encourage you to continue your great posts, have a nice day!

    0
  44. Yes! Finally something about children sex movies.

    0
  45. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long
    as I provide credit and sources back to your weblog? My website is
    in the very same area of interest as yours and my users
    would certainly benefit from a lot of the information you provide here.
    Please let me know if this okay with you. Regards!

    0
  46. I’m gone to tell my little brother, that he should also pay a
    visit this web site on regular basis to take updated from most up-to-date reports.

    0
  47. Fine way of telling, and fastidious piece of writing to
    take data on the topic of my presentation subject matter, which i am going
    to present in institution of higher education.

    0
  48. idn poker says:

    It’s in reality a great and helpful piece of information.
    I’m happy that you just shared this helpful information with us.
    Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

    0
  49. Hello there! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with Search Engine Optimization? I’m trying to get my blog to
    rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very
    good success. If you know of any please share. Thank you!

    0
  50. First off I want to say fantastic blog! I had a quick
    question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested
    to know how you center yourself and clear your mind before writing.
    I have had a difficult time clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out
    there. I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally
    lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips?
    Kudos!

    0
  51. I really like reading through an article that will make people think.
    Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

    Feel free to surf to my web blog; women’s clothing

    0
  52. Thank you for the good writeup. It actually was a leisure account
    it. Glance complex to far brought agreeable from
    you! By the way, how can we communicate?

    0
  53. Great beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend
    your site, how could i subscribe for a blog site? The account helped me
    a applicable deal. I have been a little bit familiar of this your broadcast offered vibrant clear concept

    0
  54. Hi there to all, how is all, I think every one is getting more from
    this web page, and your views are good in favor of new people.

    my page … google places

    0
  55. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d most
    certainly donate to this outstanding blog!
    I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to brand new updates and will share this website with my Facebook group.
    Chat soon!

    0
  56. Thanks to my father who told me on the topic of this weblog, this webpage is actually
    awesome.

    0
  57. Everything is very open with a clear clarification of the challenges.
    It was truly informative. Your website is very useful.
    Thank you for sharing!

    0
  58. Everyone loves what you guys tend to be up too. This kind of clever
    work and coverage! Keep up the great works guys I’ve incorporated you
    guys to blogroll.

    0
  59. I’m really loving the theme/design of your website.

    Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility issues?
    A handful of my blog audience have complained about my blog not operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Firefox.
    Do you have any recommendations to help fix this problem?

    0
  60. Quality content is the important to be a focus for the visitors to visit the site, that’s what this web site is providing.

    0
  61. Hey there! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website
    with us so I came to take a look. I’m definitely
    loving the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting
    this to my followers! Excellent blog and excellent design and style.

    0
  62. I like what you guys tend to be up too. This type of clever work and coverage!
    Keep up the fantastic works guys I’ve added you guys to my personal blogroll.

    0
  63. As the admin of this web site is working, no hesitation very rapidly it will be
    renowned, due to its feature contents.

    0
  64. hanna lampen says:

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday.
    It will always be useful to read through articles from other authors and use a little something from their
    sites.

    0
  65. Do you have a spam issue on this blog; I also am a blogger, and I was curious about your
    situation; we have created some nice methods and we are
    looking to swap solutions with other folks, why not shoot me
    an e-mail if interested.

    0
  66. Hi there all, here every person is sharing such knowledge,
    so it’s pleasant to read this web site, and I used
    to pay a quick visit this webpage all the time.

    0
  67. I visited several sites except the audio feature for audio songs
    existing at this web site is genuinely excellent.

    0
  68. Hi it’s me, I am also visiting this website daily,
    this web site is genuinely nice and the visitors are truly sharing nice thoughts.

    0
  69. Hi, i think that i noticed you visited my website thus
    i came to go back the favor?.I am trying to to find issues
    to improve my web site!I assume its ok to use a few of your ideas!!

    0
  70. I am truly pleased to read this weblog posts which includes plenty of useful information, thanks for providing these information.

    0
  71. Hello, i think that i saw you visited my blog so
    i came to “return the favor”.I am trying to find things to improve my site!I suppose its ok
    to use a few of your ideas!!

    0
  72. Quincy says:

    It’s really a cool and helpful piece of info. I’m glad that you just shared this useful info with us.
    Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

    0
  73. I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?

    Plz reply as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would
    like to find out where u got this from. appreciate it

    0
  74. I love it whenever people get together and
    share views. Great site, keep it up!

    0
  75. This post will assist the internet users for setting up new
    blog or even a weblog from start to end.

    0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *