Sissi Tax
translation by Joel Scott



yeah, that’s it, what I, had I been able to write, how I would have wanted, will have written.

in order to finally come to dust. to that dust, at whose feet the universe that produces it lies, and which belongs to the favourite substances of the head of the household of the universe.

on these grounds it lies, the dust, around. it lies around multilayered in its clutterkammers, in their wunderkammers. dust-covered, dust-penetrated. mind-index-box, mind-index-box-fugues, -scoring, -clefts. it lies around multilayered, on the grounds of the universe in polymorphous amphibian-formations. dust-hairball, amphibian-like. pulverised, atomised. dust-dry dust-curves, dust-direct dust-ellipses. rigorous dust-tendencies, rigid dust-dilemmas, excellent dust-orders, hypertrophic dust-engorgements, xenophobic dust-stew, eminent dust-dams, extraordinary dust-columns, grandiose dust-buildups, sublime dust-furrows, prospective dust-aisles, gigantic dust-encrustments, heretic dust-drift, illusory dust-disaster, proselytic dust-uplifts, delicate dust-wear, robust dust-works, illusionistic dust-pyre, realistic dust-combats, mimetic dust-crusts, inompatible dust-cataracts, pompous dust-facts, grave dust-catcher, depressed dust-frond, shagreened dust-means, lamentable dust-article, idiosyncratic dust-discourses, opulent dust-palaver, crude dust-cadaver, anamorphic dust-recepticle, frugal dust-crumbs, orthographic dust-outbursts, objective dust-moboutbreaks, illuminated dust-slaughters, genuine dust-shred, transcendental dust-pains, nervous dust-corners, sapphic dust-tunes, immense dust-tragedies, centrifugal dust-riots, imaginary dust-mycelia, crumbed dust-hells, parodic dust-burials.

yeah, it lies like that, around, the dust. it lingers around. simple and indeed ordinary. dust offers just such a many-layered, manifold, and many-meaning performative persepective. in the deep-down and wide-ranging realms of the universe. in all of its pomp and ceremony and formidableness. and not only the prosodic dust-burials, the sapphic dust-tunes, the immense dust-tragedies as well as the idiosyncratic dust-discourses, but also all these diverse and divergent dust-facts throw up explicitly and articulately, exciting questions of dust-style.

that is, how does it let itself in, dust, slick and fluid, spread out and distribute itself, so that at the moment of the dusting off its real eddying-up can show itself. simply and just so ordinarily. simple enough if somewhat common.

in order to do this, a particularly flat or a particularly high style is necessary. perhaps it is in need of such a thing, as it usually is in connection with the delicate question of dreckstyle or some such, as perhaps it is in connection with the equally delicate question of the sludge- or swampstyle.

anyhow, whether it finds application in association with the dust-perspective of the dreck-, the swamp- or the sludgestyle, what is of decisive meaning there, is that the act of the de-dusting, that is, the dusting off, doesn’t become a dusting-drama, but rather is carried out in such a way, that damage is inflicted neither on the clutterkammers of the universe nor their wunderkammers and mind-index-boxes. and doesn’t rob the head of the household of all of their joy. what would for example then enter, were it to succeed, to transform the stuff of dust into other stuff. into the stuff of air, for example. and then further on to transubstantialise this into an airhole. and this into airpockets. in airy airpockets, in hilarious airpockets. in airy, hilarious and varied airpockets. from which would grow airy, hilarious and varied castles in the air. which with the passing of time would dissolve into air bubble castles. beautifully simple and in fact ordinary. where by means of air-businesses a contribution would be made towards the general beautifying and specific broadening of being of the universe. simple and yet beautifully common.

From und so fort (Droschl, 2007) by Sissi Tax. Translation © Joel Scott.


sometimes always

although or because i have not got anywhere, i sometimes make myself up or occasionally just go and get myself ready. maybe in order to look like something. that i have not got anywhere can sometimes be seen in me. occasionally it cannot be seen in me. whether although or because of, is as undecidable, but differently, as sometimes or occasionally. all made up i then look like one who has not got anywhere, or like one who might have managed to get somewhere, depending on how my look is right now being looked upon or seen. depending on whether i am looked at by those, who would themselves like to have a certain look or would like to be looked at themselves, or whether i am looked at by those who themselves have a certain look or are being looked at themselves. if i would like to look like something in the eyes of those who look at me because they themselves are not looked at by those whom they would like to be looked at by, i fix myself up in a different way than for those who from the outset look at me like someone who looks like she hasn’t got anywhere. at times i try to not be able to be taken for one of these or one of those by either the one or the other. this is the most difficult of postures. if i manage to take it on, i take myself for one who believes she looks like one who does not look like anything. if i cannot manage to take it on, then i take myself for one who believes to look like one who wants to look like something. the simplest posture is not being got up. what i look like then i never know. i assume it when i believe that no one can see me, that i have everything behind and nothing before me, and that i look accordingly done in. in this posture i begin to finish myself off to go out. finished off and un-done-up, despite or because or although or since i never know what i really look like and how it will ever end up, i do go out, quite often.

From manchmal immer (Droschl, 1995) by Sissi Tax. Translation © Joel Scott.


heavings, sinkings.

how the imperfect comes to perfection. even though or since it approaches the slaughterfield of transference as it does the bigscreens of the wild west. that which, not far from the tearjerkers of suburbia, plays itself out in the forecourts of the wildest thinkfeelings.

that wildest thinkfeeling, whose dwelling consists in the wildest humpy, mattress-crypt-likeness, of the most barren hood. however, too nervous to occupy the humpies as well as innerly or anyway genuinely unhoused, they mostly linger around in front of these humpies or they are withdrawn into the distance, far away, into such outlying regions, where the nonthinkfeelings dwell. essence. there, this and that hook up most rashly and densely in the attempt to provoke a pause from nonthink- and thinkfeelings, in order to once, perhaps for the one and only time, no longer have to be ejected, extradited, to the eternal either or of the either eternal thinkfeelings, or eternal nonthinkfeelings. and, so as to thus arrive in the highest lowlands of the lowest heights, or inversely, in the highest lowlands of all regions of the most progreased procrass. yeah, the most prodrossable, most protrashed progrease or like, something like that. yeah, a presence of geist crops up there. like lightning out of the clear blue sky.

sought out by day, occasionally also fraught, in these regions of the currently actual by the light muse, by night, by the severe muse, it turns real nice and colourful and real nice and alluring and lurid with the muses and the schmoozes. and they, the muses, do it preferentially sitting on the lap of the wildest think- as well as nonthinkfeelings.

by day they do it especially lightheartedly, next particularly weightlessly. offhandedly and onhandedly unburdened the muses, schmoozing.

shamelessly ascetic.
accutely cautious.
breathtakingly tender.
beguilingly cool.
ominously smooth.
horribly handy.
bonehard bewitching.
frightfully delightful.
ecstatically icy.

thus the infameborn woo in the most extreme moment of schmoozing and cooing into the promise-hot infoamy-bath. not far from eastwesterly wildness.

while the shametriangle bedded on the promise-hot bedding produces the shametrinity, labial-nativity.


light and easy. light as a feather.

“From vollkommenen uvollkommenen oder die falten der nomanden…” (forthcoming publication) by Sissi Tax. Translation © Joel Scott.


an increase, a decrease, an increase. (for e.s. and j.p. and r.s.)

how the imperfect comes to perfection. and if this, which in fact can appear unforeseen before us, may be achieved, finally one time once, with what, then, in this case to begin with, and how however only really then with that, with which something may be begun, to proceed.

yes, those are some of the unavoidable questions, that can throw themselves up there. similar to the monads’ folds, to the bubbles in the lemonades.

and also the insubordinate question, how then, in this case, one is to proceed further, with exactly that whole, that unquenched, unquenchable, that unre-lational whole, which attests to quite a dilemma.

to the probability dilemma, which therein consists, that this whole thing, this most uncertain of all actual cases, is awarded sometimes to the probable, sometimes to the improbable. there are these two tremendously difficult to distinguish movements, two strivings which become remote from one another, which slip away from establishments of truth, smartly and slimily. and as such bear deceptive resemblance to the fabrication of truth.

how then more than ever the unheard-of like the unheard question throws itself up, like with right now to begin with or at the outset, and, yeah, this question also throws itself up here and inbetween, namely, should it be called and be at the beginning or should it be called and be at the outset, how also at the outset or to begin with it, namely with that unpolished whole, one can proceed further. whether good and proper, by night and fog, on all fours and back, it isn’t able to be, in the twinkling of an eye, pulled out of your sleeve or plucked out of thin air. maybe it allows itself, together with every unsullied whole, to be tugged out of thin air. out of every unfingered patch of air, perhaps there where nicely pottered about, something is always unavoidably being over- and under-stood. which means, it is thought constantly and unavoidably, that something is unavoidably understood. like, supposedly over-and-under-stood.

which is supposed to mean, that about that spot, where it is tugged, forevermore and well and truly certain, or naked, truth, also does not exist, just like with how one should proceed, at the beginning or at the outset, with every great hulking whole.
whether the talk can be of naked truth at all, allows the hearing of an objection. yes, the talk can be of naked truth, since also of unnaked talk, no, the talk can be of unnaked truth. yes, the talk can even be of unnaked in relation to truth, just as likewise the talk can be of uncovered, unsullied, unlicked, unplucked, unspoiled, unconcealed in conjunction with truth.

just as likewise the talk can be of unbreathing, unsmoking, uneating, undrinking, unpissing, unslashing, unsleeping, unfucking in conjunction with these and those unenchanted wholes, from which the talk can also be and even must be in conjunction with every unflowery whole, which as madness, this whole, has found a way into truthinventiontalk. also as madness, this ungraspable whole.

it is certainly not to be left without attention, that truth itself takes care to make eyes at the most untouchable concept. and the concept itself, itself of the most unapproachable outlook, the most beautiful overall that taken all together is called truthinferno. whether invented or uninvented, so well-nigh and evermore ineradicable. unannullable. unforgettable.

From vollkommenen unvollkommenen or die falten Der monaden (forthcoming publication) by Sissi Tax. Translation © Joel Scott.


Sissi Tax was born in 1954 in the Steiermark region of Austria. She studied German and Pedagogy in Graz and Berlin. Until 1980 she was on the editorial team of the literary magazine manuskripte. In 1982, Tax completed her PhD in Philosophy at the University of Graz with a work on Marieluise Fleißer. Since 1982 she has lived in Berlin, where she works as a publisher, university lecturer and editor. From 1986 to 1988 she was Acting Director of the Berliner Literaturhaus and in 1996, she took part in the Ingeborg Bachmann Competition in Klagenfurt. Publications: Marieluise Fleißer: Schreiben, Überleben. Ein biographischer Versuch, 1984. 20 Jahre »manuskripte«. Ed. with Alfred Kolleritsch. Gertrude Stein: Ein Buch mit da hat der Topf ein Loch am Ende eine Liebesgeschichte (a translation together with Oskar Pastior) manchmal immer (Droschl 1995), je nachdem. (Droschl 2000).

See Sissi Tax's translation in this issue: Michael Farrell.

Joel Scott is a Sydney-born poet now living in Berlin, completing a PhD which posits translation as a kind of radical contemporary writing practice. His poetry and critical work has been published in print and online, here and there. In 2012 he published a chapbook of process-based poems called CORNEARS. He blogs at

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MadHat, Issue 14, Spring 2013