smalltown boy: ronald m. schernikau

having presented to you rio reiser, i also have to introduce you to ronald m. schernikau: for me they are related, certainly because of my own biography – they belong to the same period of discovery of, hm, gay culture.

and they do share some similarities, but then it is also interesting to note the differences….

for the similarities: roughly the period is the same (schernikau being a lot younger, though), both lived for a while in west-berlin, both were gay, both were politically left, both had their strong views and also voiced them – which did not only make them friends…

and then come the differences: ronald m. schernikau is not a musician, but a writer. a writer of novels, fairy tales, poems, and a handfull of articles. 1980, at the tender age of 20, he published his first book, kleinstadtnovelle (a book about a smalltown boy – yeah, somehow very bronski beat), which surprisingly sold rather well and made him known as a new voice in german literature. but then the voice
fell silent way too soon: ronald m. schernikau died in 1991 of aids. but in the years before he was all but silent – a unique intertwining of work and life provoked a wide range of people – this per se is already an interesting thing. already as a teenager schernikau became a member of the communist party. but as was pointed out in an interesting article (link will follow below), schernikau might adhered dogmatically to the party line – but the party was his own ideal party. his closeness to communism actually brought him to study in east berlin and to seek the citizenship of the german democratic republic, which he obtained, shortly before the disappearnce of the gdr. interesting is the reasoning for his move from west berlin to east germany: since he adored east german literature, he saw east germany as the ideal place to realize his full potential as a writer. therefore i see a radical difference between the leftist politics of rio reiser and schernikau: schernikau was a radical individualist. he would not stand behind a collective. and yes, he was also always very much out and loud concerning his being gay. through this radical individualism i think he showed clearly that the personal and the political are very much intertwined and that this should be made transparent. and i think it is interesting how many political movements actually deny this connection, demand a subordination under their respective program / ideology. but for me politics always has to do with me and you, with our respective desires. well, i am aware many people think differently, not understanding the “erotic politics” of schernikau (or, in a different fashion, of jean genet). so ronald m. schernikau had the gift to irritate a lot of people. this had the negative effect that his writing got dismissed – but then not reading it the reader misses out – misses out on very sharp obversations about society, and more specifically about the relationship between east- and west-germany, observations and comparisons of and about two systems which are still very much valid. of course there is more to it, since he definitly was a good writer – but i guess you will have to read for yourself. what was interesting at the time was how especially in the feuilletons (these are the pages dedicated to high – well, in the last years also to a certain kind of pop-culture in the big german newspapers. in reality they are usually dedicated to the bloated egos of the respective writers) he not only got whacked for being politically oh so silly, but actually producing some amazing homophobic reactions, describing his writings entre autre as faggy…

on the other hand schernikau was also not tender in his criticism, serving many biting remarks that hit usually on the right spot, there where it hurts.

so not an easy writer – but for that all the more interesting. i hope i got you interested so that you want to learn more about the man and his literature. just that now comes the real bummer for the not-german-speaking readers: nothing has been translated in english. nothing yet – maybe some printing press is adventurous anough to that one day?! for everybody interested to learn more about ronald m. schernikau i would recommend to buy his books, of course. and i would like to point you to the fantastic schernikau.net page. you get a lot of material of and about schernikau – even some multimedia – and believe me, it is definitly worth a visit. a unique writer with an unique way of living and creating. enjoy!

One Response to “smalltown boy: ronald m. schernikau”

  1. Lynsi Schernikau Says:

    how does that ronald guy say this last name?
    i was wondering if it was the same way we do here

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