Throughout his essay, Handke refers to himself in the third-person, as if to distance himself from his own nagging neuroses and doubts, or perhaps to gain some measure of distance that might allow writerly chaos to assume stability. Midway through, he offers a potential shape for the essay that he hopes at some point will materialize. It's as good a take on the subversive, absurd, theatrical, impossible possibilities of the essay-genre that I've seen in a while. Are you buckled up?
When he ﬁrst had the inspiration—that’s what it was—which at once made sense to him—of writing an "essay on the jukebox," he had pictured it as a dialogue onstage this object, and what it could mean to an individual, was for most people so bizarre that an idea presented itself: having one person, a sort of audience representative, assume the role of interrogator, and a second appear as an “expert” on the subject, in contrast to Platonic dialogues, where the one who asked the questions, Socrates, secretly knew more about the problem than the other, who, puffed up with preconceptions, at least at the beginning, claimed to know the answer; perhaps it would be most effective if the expert, too, discovered only when he had to ﬁeld the other’s questions what the relative “place value” of these props had been in the drama of his life. In the course of time the stage dialogue faded from his mind, and the “essay” hovered before him as an unconnected composite of many different forms of writing, corresponding to the—what should he call it—uneven? arrhythmic? Ways in which he had experienced a jukebox and remembered it: momentary images should alternate with blow-by-blow narratives, suddenly broken off; mere jottings would be followed by a detailed reportage about a single music box, together with a speciﬁc locale; from a pad of notes would come, without transition, a leap to one with quotations, which, again without transition, without harmonizing linkage, would make way perhaps to a litany-like recitation of the titles and singers listed on a particular ﬁnd—he pictured, as the underlying form that would give the whole thing a sort of coherence, the question-and-answer play recurring periodically, though in fragmentary fashion, and receding again, joined by similarly fragmentary ﬁlmed scenes, each organized around a different jukebox, from which would emanate all sorts of happenings or a still life, in ever widening circles—which could extend as far as a different country, or only to the beech at the end of a railroad platform. He hoped he could have his “essay” fade out with a “Ballad of the Jukebox,” a singable, so to speak “rounded” song about this thing, though only if, after all the leaps in imagery, it emerged on its own.