First Language(s): German
Second Language(s): English
Philipp Scheiber sometimes enjoys creating things or going somewhere that’s not his native Austria. He likes birds, hikes, typewriters and making people laugh; he dislikes the meaningless daily grind and the destruction of the planet. As a student of Philosophy, he ponders deep questions like, “Where do the bags under my eyes end — and where do my cheeks start?”
What was your favorite book as a child?
Wikipedia tells me that childhood lasts either from birth to puberty or from birth to the age of majority. In both cases, the vagueness and extent of the time span leave room for any number of answers. In my teens, I was greatly affected by Kafka’s The Castle, Ellison’s I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream and Tolstoy’s Confession. If we take childhood to mean “before the onset of puberty,” my memory becomes rather murky. I can remember reading a fair bit, mind you, but few books really stand out as being my favorite or having had a major impact. A series that might come closest is How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell (that’s right, I read the books years before DreamWorks butchered them) — I adored the descriptions and drawings of the dragons.
What was the original reason or motivation why you started writing creatively?
When I was younger, I was haunted by the need to somehow create or achieve something big, something noteworthy — to leave an impact on humanity at large. Having had somewhat of a fascination and way with words and lacking any other notable talent, of course writing the next Great Austrian Novel was the one thing that came to mind. Needless to say, I did not write the next Great Austrian Novel, nor any complete novel for that matter.
Nowadays, having been largely disabused of grandiose aspirations, I write mainly because I find the process captivating, and because I like creating enjoyment (or puzzlement) for my friends with my writings.
What was the most adventurous or thrilling thing you ever did/experienced?
I have the distinct impression that a good number of experiences ought not be related here for legal reasons. An unproblematic tale of recent foolishness comes to mind: I was on a short walk with my partner — neither of us had really any equipment — when we jokingly decided to hike to and then up the closest mountain we could see. Looking back, it might be best described as a game of chicken where nobody chickened out. A fun but grueling five hours later, we found ourselves at the summit, drenched in sweat, exhausted, and, most importantly, freezing and in near total darkness. Being used to the city, one underestimates how dark it can get when the sun has set and there are no streetlamps around. Obviously, we did not have food or warm clothes with us. Making our way down a pitch-black mountain, stumbling around in the dim, lonely beam of a phone flashlight with nerve-rackingly fast battery depletion, and trying to go fast enough to make it down before my partner’s phone died, was pretty exciting.
Do you listen to music while reading or writing?
Unfortunately, I tend to get distracted quite easily — especially when people are talking in a language that I can understand. I tend to get caught up in their conversations and lose track of what I was doing. The same goes with song lyrics that are intelligible to me. Focusing on these foreign words makes intellectually demanding tasks difficult, and the effect is especially disastrous if I try to come up with any words of my own. Since, ironically enough, I vastly prefer music with intelligible, sing-along lyrics, I only very rarely listen to instrumental pieces while writing — mostly when the horror vacui grows overwhelming.
Since I have begun writing on typewriters, however, I find that the very process of typing creates its own music — the tapping and clicking and clanking, the soft ding of the bell, the internal rhythm and heartbeat of the machine. Currently, that is what I love listening to when writing.
Issue Spring '23