Vaillant und die Jagd nach Geschichten | Literaturbrocken #15

Geschriebenes

Es braucht Geschichten, um Geschichten zu erzählen. Damit aber eine Geschichte die andere veranschaulichen, legitimieren oder ausschmücken kann, muss sich der Prozess des Schreibens in eine Jagd verwandeln. Es müssen Fallen gelegt und Verstecke errichtet, Zäune gebaut und mit viel, viel Geduld wirkmächtigen Ähnlichkeiten und fruchtbaren Verknüpfungspunkten aufgelauert werden, bis einem das richtige Beispiel oder die passende Analogie in Netz geht.

In John Vaillants eindrücklichem Narrativ durch die sibirische Taiga mit dem Titel The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival von 2010 lassen sich die Spuren einer solchen – beinahe prototypischen – Jagd gleich im doppelten Sinne nachverfolgen:

For most of our history, we have been occupied with the cracking of codes—from deciphering patterns in the weather, the water, the land, and the stars, to parsing the nuanced behaviors of friend and foe, predator and prey. Furthermore, we are compelled to share our discoveries in the form of stories. Much is made of the fact that ours is the only species that does this, that the essence of who and what we understand ourselves to be was first borne orally and aurally: from mouth to ear to memory. This is so, but before we learned to tell stories, we learned to read them. In other words, we learned to track. The first letter of the first word of the first recorded story was written—“printed”—not by us, but by an animal. These signs and symbols left in mud, sand, leaves, and snow represent proto-alphabets. Often smeared, fragmented, and confused by weather, time, and other animals, these cryptograms were life-and-death exercises in abstract thinking. […] Like our own texts, these “early works” are linear and continuous with their own punctuation and grammar. Plot, tense, gender, age, health, relationships, and emotional states can all be determined from these durable records. In this sense, The Jungle Book is our story, too: just as Mowgli was schooled by wild animals, so in many ways were we.

The notion that it was animals who taught us to read may seem counterintuitive, but listening to skilled hunters analyze tiger sign is not that different from listening to literature majors deconstruct a short story. Both are sorting through minutiae, down to the specific placement and inflection of individual elements, in order to determine motive, subtext, and narrative arc. An individual track may have its own accent or diacritical marks that distinguish the intent of a foot, or even a single step, from the others. On an active game trail, as in one of Tolstoy’s novels, multiple plots and characters can overlap with daunting subtlety, pathos, or hair-raising drama. Deciphering these palimpsests can be more difficult than reading crossed letters from the Victorian era, and harder to follow than the most obscure experimental fiction. (S. 236-37)

Hat man aber erstmal eine fette Beute aufgespürt und erlegt, lässt sie sich wunderbar ausschlachten (wobei dieser dieser martialische Begriff der Eleganz Vaillants nicht gerecht wird):

Trush and his men had opened the White Book at mid-chapter, and now they had to place themselves in the story. This isn’t something one does lightly in the taiga: the reader must commit to becoming a character, too, with no assurance of how the story will end. There, on that blinding winter afternoon at the foot of the Takhalo, began a struggle for control of the narrative. […] There are conventions in the tracking narrative just as there are in any literary form, and tigers employ different ones than deer or boar or humans. While one can usually make predictions, based on these, about how a particular plotline will unfold, this tiger defied the formula to the point that it occupied a genre of its own. (S. 237)

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Bild: Ausschnitt aus Unblutige Jagd auf Giraffen (1911) von Moriz Jung – Quelle.