Sunday, December 14, 2008

Seven years ago today

It was a Friday. I was driving back from shopping in Lörrach, the Wiese river to my right. I was listening to a Grateful Dead tape, one I had not listened to in a long time, from my first pair of shows (so either October 9 or 10, 1982). At that time, "Touch of Grey" was new not only to me but to all Deadheads, as the band had debuted the song only shortly before. When the chorus started, with Jerry singing "I will survive," I became so sad about his passing (then only six years previously) that I had to pull over, because I was crying.

On Monday morning, I read in the Basler Zeitung that W. G. Sebald had died in a car accident on that same Friday afternoon. I later found out that the accident was at around 4:30 p.m. or so—that is, about 5:30 in the Basel area. Pretty much the same time when I pulled over to cry.

To me, this is another example of the kind of "touching but meaningless" coincidence that Sebald referred to in Austerlitz. Others may want to interpret it more mystically.

5 comments:

Donald Brown said...

All I can say is: "oo-wee-oo." And I seem to hear Rod Serling's voice: "Witness Andrew Shields, who's about to take a journey into . . . The Twilight Zone."

Karin said...

However one interprets it, it's a beautiful story, Andrew.

brian a j salchert said...

Yes, "more mystically" because in my life dozens of inexplicable incidents have occurred.

Dave King said...

I guess we'd all call the coincidence touching - but meaningless?

Tony Williams said...

I'm reading Austerlitz at the moment and like Sebald's other books it does rather hinge on your view of this sort of thing. The whole book is touching but also basically meaningless. I suppose the question is whether he can make the meaninglessness touching (to which I think the answer is yes, but intermittently). It takes a hell of a writer to make such qualms worth bothering about, though.