Martin Clausen
translation by Lucy Renner Jones and Karen Witthuhn


kann man können wollen
(wishing to be able to)

Should I write a list of things that I should be able to cope with?
Are the people right after all who said I had to become this (shit) in order to achieve what I want?
Or is it the others who don’t give a shit and you just can’t tell from the outside?
Do I need “good luck”?
Should I live in wave motions?
I did believe I only needed to keep a few things in mind, and be a bit lucky.
That’s what I did. I worked with people, when I didn’t know what it was about and no one talked about it.
And when it was really dumb, I still found it interesting, and the fact that it was even dumber for others. I found that interesting too.
And I was really hoping that the dumbness would go away if I didn’t show it to the others. And with people, it’s just the same. I did exactly the same with him. And he said: If you don’t mention so-and-so and so-and-so any more, then we can carry on talking.
And he said: there’s no hoping here! Work is carried out here without hoping. Here is where work is done and not in the future.
And then I chat to him and realise that I’m like a little man again, crawling over his face.

Should I say, “That’s not possible. It’s too late for that”? Can you say that something is too late? Should I make a list of things that are too late? And then work through them all?


Make a list!
Should I make a contract?
           Should I make a contract?
We can all make a contract!
I don’t go to the station late on purpose hoping that the train is delayed and I am lucky.
But you could.
No, you couldn’t.
Or should I say, “There’s nothing you can do.”
Should I glue that in big sticky letters on the wall?
Write something?
If it’s too late, then it’s too late. Then it’s too late. Then someone’s already dead. Then it’s too late (to ask them anything). Or you can’t get away from wherever you are and didn’t want to stay. Or it’s too expensive. And so it’s too late to get a bargain.
And only then do I realise. Then I think, right, it’s really not possible. I didn’t realise that before. And then I get annoyed. “I shouldn’t have done that.” “I should’ve checked.” Or “I forgot my medication!” Or…
If you want to do that then you have to phone much earlier than when it actually takes place.
Exactly. This spot has to be squeezed today. This spot should have been squeezed yesterday. Attack the spot! It’s been squeezed about so often at the wrong time that there won’t be a right time to squeeze it any more.
As a woman, why should I be mature, understand everything and forgive everything all of a sudden.
Or can nothing be done? Have I always winged it like this?
          Have we always winged it like this?
Should I make myself a net should I make myself a net!
           Should I make myself a net?
What kind of net?
You know, one of those nets where the kindergarten is there, and the bookshop is there, and…
And then I know that it’s not true but it feels like it is anyway and it annoys me that everything is determined by people who don’t want to discuss with others but would rather just say “It’s going to be done like this.”
Or just live on offers: D’you want to move to my town? Yes. D’you want to do this and that with me? Yes. D’you want to work with me? Yes. D’you want to live with me? Yes. D’you want to swap? Yes.
Perhaps one day the things I want myself will feel like this too, like “yes”.
Perhaps one day the things I want will feel like this too. Like “yes.”
Why do we always want to improve things?

C’mon, let’s not kid ourselves.

Like people who come to my place for breakfast and one among them has never invited anyone for breakfast. And he never will either. And I’ve got a really stale bread roll. And I put in in the bread basket and hold in in front of him so that he has to take it.
Or should I just leave everything as it is? My mouldy, musty orchestra plays on. One of them has a patch of lichen growing on his face and it’s already spread to his instrument, and the valves won’t close properly but a sound still comes out, now and then. And at the back they’re having a fag. And then someone comes in, who’s lost or used to play here…
Should I leave it like that? Or should I say: Let’s air this place. And then I send everyone home. And then I start a new band.


By Martin Clausen, first published in ich hatte an diesem Abend auf einer dritte Person Lust (© TWO FISH, Martin Clausen & Angela Schubot, Mass Media Verlag 2008). Translation © Lucy Renner Jones.


Martin Clausen is an actor, performer, director and since 2008, lecturer at the Braunschweig University Art at the Institute for Performing Arts and Education. In 2000, he founded the collective TWO FISH with Angela Schubot with whom he developed productions up until 2011 together with dancers and actors at the Berliner Sophiensaelen, the HAU Hebbel am Ufer, the Tanzfabrik Berlin, the Berliner Festival Tanztage, the Podewil/Tanzwerkstatt Berlin and the PATHOS München, among others. He has performed in famous settings and stages as well as private living rooms, buses and hidden staircases.

Lucy Renner Jones studied German with W.G. Sebald at UEA, soon afterwards started a career as a fashion and reportage photographer in Barcelona, Hamburg and Berlin; returned to work with language and literature in the early 2000s. In 2008, she founded Transfiction, a collective of literary translators, with Karen Witthuhn ( and was joined by Jenny Piening in 2012. She is the author of two book-length translations, Lyric Novella (2010) and Death in Persia (2013), published by Seagull Books and is currently working on the diaries of Brigitte Reimann.

Karen Witthuhn was born in Slough, England but grew up in Oldenburg, Germany. Since 2000, she’s been a freelance translator (English to German) of novels, theatre texts and plays, and film scripts. She studied English and German at the Freie Universität in Berlin, then Modern Languages and European Studies in Bath, England. Lastly, she graduated from the University of Bristol with a BA in Drama, Theatre, Film and Television. Apart from working on numerous German theatre festivals (PAZZ, Theaterformen) as a director, dramaturge and production manager, she has also been involved in prison theatre projects in Berlin and Italy. In 2008, she co-founded Transfiction with Lucy Renner Jones and is the author of several book-length translations into German, the most recent one being Flesh and Blood by Mark Peterson. She lives in Berlin and runs Transfiction’s German branch in the Kunstquartier Bethanien, Kreuzberg.

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MadHat, Issue 14, Spring 2013