Robert Schmitt

I paid for content and I am proud of
15.11.2017 – 03.12.2017

"Deeply offended, he left the house …"

After scribbling these words in his notebook, the words “brilliant insights” stamped on its cover, Rafael Horzon leaned back with a feeling of accomplishment. THIS was a lead, he thought excitedly, not just for a press text like this, but also for a larger work, a mightier work, a book—a novel!

Since celebrating a surprise success with his first work The White Book a few years ago, the hubbub around Berlin’s former intelligentsia’s favorite had gone quiet. Too quiet, he considered. Invitations to dinners by writers, artists, or gallerists had been the norm, and sometimes he had had two or three invitations for the same evening; at first, they had become less, then they stopped completely. Of course, this was due to the fact that he had not produced anything NEW. And, when someone has nothing NEW to show, he does not receive attention anymore.

This was a completely normal process for which, based on his years of literary INERTIA, he could only blame himself. But then came this telephone call. AN ASSIGNMENT! Gregor Hildebrandt had personally called him and asked for a press text. This assignment excited him tremendously. Here was his chance to finally reenter the cultural agenda of the capital with a big bang.

This was his chance to give the public a sign of his existence and make them curious for MORE.
It could also not be ruled out that through this press text,editors from prestigious newspapers would bestow attention on him again. It was even possible that his publisher would contact him again to beg him to write a sequel to his bestseller, a sequel to The White Book. A comeback, and a return to the literary stage seemed suddenly at hands reach!
Immediately, after Gregor Hildebrandt’s call, Horzon had bought himself the aforementioned notebook, stamped with “brilliant ideas.” Actually, since such notebooks were sold nowhere, he had had to have it specially made by a bookbinder in the Schleiermachergasse: a medium-sized book with empty pages, bound in dark blue linen with gold embossed lettering. The manufacturing was only supposed to take a few days. However, due to a general capacity overload and the bookbinder’s sudden critical illness, the production had been drawn out over five weeks. When the book was finally finished, Horzon had carried it by foot from Schleiermachergasse to Torstrasse, where he lived. There, his sat down at his mahogany bureau and looked, satisfied, at the notebook from all sides. Then he opened it slowly. The book’s spine cracked and crackled quietly. He laid it down carefully on the desk and stroked it once more with the palm of his hand across its middle seam to smooth the paper for his first entry. He took the pencil that had been ready for days in his hand and wrote the aforementioned words:

Deeply offended, he left the house …

Admittedly, the first entry had not really been a “brilliant insight” for Horzon. He had had three weeks time to refine this sentence in sleepless and sweat-soaked nights to perfection. During some of the nights, he asked himself if the formulation, “Deeply offended, he stepped in front of the house,” was not a bit more resonant, but then he decided “Deeply offended, he left the house” sounded better.

Deeply offended, he left the house …

And now?
How should the text continue?
What was this text even supposed to be about? Of course, about Gregor Hildebrandt! But about what exactly? Maybe he should call Hildebrandt to ask him about details about the exhibition he was supposed to write about. Laboriously, he rummaged for his phone and dialed the number of the well-known artist.
“Raaafi, hi, are you finally finished?”
“Finished? With what?”
“With the press text, dear God!”
“Ah yes, of course, well, I am working on it, I am working on it, I am making progress …,” Horzon said with a heavy tone whilst inspecting his immaculately manicured fingernails.
“Ahh, excellent! We have been waiting for quite some time. To be exact, for five weeks, and we actually should have sent out the press text the DAY-BEFORE-YESTERDAY. I’ve already explained this to you quite a few times! How much have you managed to write so far? Read it to me!”
“What?! Read it to you?”
“Please, read to me what you have already written!”
“Ah yes, yes ok, wait a moment!”
Horzon shuffled away from the living room window, out of which he had stared lost in thought, during the telephone conversation. Returning to his mahogany bureau, he rummaged listlessly through papers and books which had accumulated over the last years on his desk. Then he picked up the phone that he had set down in the meantime.
“Hello, Gregor, are you still there?”
“Yes, of course, what are you doing?”
“I can’t find it …”
“What can’t you find?”
“My notebook …”
“Notebook? Which notebook?”
“Ah, wait a minute, in my drawer, I think …”
With his left hand, Horzon tried to open his bureau’s drawer, but it was stuck.
“Gregor, are you still there? The drawer is locked, I have to put you on hold for a second. The key is maybe in the tin with the pencils, one moment …”
Hildebrandt said nothing but his silence seemed to Horzon somehow menacing.
“Alright, I have it, here is the notebook,” Horzon reported after a few minutes.
“Well, now I am curious. Let’s hear it,” growled a noticeably irritated Hildebrandt.
“Yes, well, the text isn’t finished of course, but I am starting …”
“Go on, go on,” Hildebrandt growled.
“Very well then,” Horzon said, “Are you ready?”
“Yes, please!”
Horzon took a deep breath to attune himself to the about-to-begin lecture. He cleared his throat once more, took another audible deep breath and, whilst mimicking the deep, creaking nasal voice of the reciter Gerd Westphal, renowned for his Thomas Mann readings, said very slowly:

Deeply offended, he left the house …

Breathless silence followed.
Only sometimes something crunched and clicked on the line.
Drawn-out for minutes.
At some point, Hildebrandt could not be silent anymore and as to possibly not interrupt Horzon’s continued reading, he whispered almost inaudibly: “Yes …? And …? Continue …”
“What? I beg your pardon?” Horzon whispered back.
“Whaat? Come again?” Hildebrandt whispered, who in this moment completely lost his countenance and whose whispering strangely flipped, “That’s supposed to be EVERYTHING?”
Horzon fell silent, offended.
“And I waited for FIVE weeks, for this?” Hildebrandt whispered again.
“Well, that’s why I called you,” Horzon said. He found the artist on the other end of the line was laying it on a bit thick with his acted consternation, “That is why I am calling you, to ask what the exhibition is actually about …”
It was obvious to hear from the tone of his voice that Hildebrandt was furious. “Rafael, tell me, are you still in your right mind? This is the fifth or the sixth time that you have called me about this. How many times am I supposed to explain it to you?”
“Explain what?” Horzon asked.
“Now then! For the last time! It’s about the gatekeeper’s house, downstairs in my atelier building. That’s where I have been storing my video cassettes so far …!”
“Ahaaaah!” Horzon chipped in interested.
“Yes, and in this gatekeeper’s house … this gatekeeper’s house is now being transformed into an exhibition space!”
“Ah yes, that’s true!” said Horzon, who had no idea whatsoever what Hildebrandt was talking about.
“The space is called ‘Grzegorzki Shows’ and the first exhibition will be by Robert Schmitt!”
“… will be by Robert Schmitt,” Horzon repeated, acting as if he was taking notes.
“The opening is on September 1st … so exactly in a month!”
“Fine, Gregor, fine, I will start immediately to finish writing this press text. Then I will be in touch tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, as soon as the text is finished!”
“Good,” rasped Hildebrandt.
“And do not worry,” Horzon concluded, “This is certainly not the first press text that I have ever written! You can count on me!”

*From: Gregor Hildebrandt
Date: 30. August 2017 04:58:17 MESZ
To: Rafael Horzon
Subject: Your Press text for Grzegorzki Shows

Dear Rafi,
We were all greatly looking forward to your text about Robert Schmitt’s exhibition and we really would have liked to use the text as a press text.
However, we cannot wait any longer, we have to send out our announcement to the press this morning.
The text that you e-mailed to Lucile yesterday, after countless reminders, is unfortunately for these purposes insufficient. Surely, you must understand that a press text that only consists of the sentence “Deeply offended, he left the house …” is completely useless.
Robert Schmitt and I worked very long and very hard for this exhibition and therefore, we are now even more disappointed, considering that we are now, so-to-speak, completely without a press text.
Robert told me, you two even met for dinner, so he could tell you full particulars about the exhibition. According to Robert, you only spoke about yourself at this meeting, about your literary achievements that arguably date back quite some years. It seems it was impossible to convey any kind of details about the exhibition to you.
Therefore, it makes me even sadder to have a mountain of your expense-receipts lying on my desk for travel costs, working lunches that were supposedly necessary to fabricate this press text. Amongst them are travel to Paris, Budapest, and Acapulco, and seven dinners, each with more than 10 guests at the Grill Royal. Overall, these expense receipts are worth more than 18.000 Euros.
I hope you understand that we can at most take responsibility for half of these costs. I have just now authorized an express transfer of the sum of 9.000 Euros.

Your Gregor

P.S: I would still be delighted to see you on September 1st at 6 pm, Prinzenallee 78–79!*