segunda-feira, 31 de dezembro de 2012

The Future Is Evil A Discussion with Heiner Müller

Interview with Frank M. Raddatz (1991)

Heiner Müller, one could perhaps says, to put it rather simplistically, that the Gulf War is a war between the forces of American speed and Arabian slowness, in which, apart from the tyranny of Saddam Hus­sein, the technology of the future is meeting with past arts of war. Our topic, however, is not the Gulf War but this epochal conflict. So far, the future has always been occupied by utopia. Does the failure of social­ism mean this is over?

 The loss of the escape hatch utopia isn't only negative, because utopia demands sacrifice and renunciation from the individual. It lowers the value of the present in favor of a fiction of the future. Utopia always ex­ists at the expense of real life. The important question is whether the future can still be thought of as a quality. In the still unsettled structures that have at present arisen, the individual is not meant to exist, only to function. This paves the way for the computer to take over power.

In this constellation, mortality, memory, history—everything that makes a subject a subject and disrupts functionalization—suddenly be­comes charged with utopia. In the science fiction film Blade Runner the computers go on strike because they want to be mortal. That's because whoever cannot die also cannot live. In the face of the total function- alization of the subject through technology, Jean Paul's beautifully naive sentence first makes sense: "Memory is the one paradise from which no one can be driven."

Memory as the last bastion of the subject?

That's the precondition. The point is no longer the destruction of some class or other, or a lifestyle, rather the destruction of the subject itself. The trend is such that people no longer talk, like Gayev in Chekhov's The Chery Orchard with their bookcases, that is, with old bits of memory, but rather with the television, which has an answer for and can remember everything. That's deadly because, first, it slowly hollows out the subject, then it engulfs it. Only art can counteract this.

  Making art means nothing other than talking with yourself. If you can't talk with yourself, you can't accomplish anything. But when you do something, then there is no more reason to be preoccupied with the old. A text can first be finished when you are already generating the next in your mind. One child brings forth the other. It's a genetic code. The materials are relatively random. But the rhythm of writing, paint­ing, music, or whatever, is a very subjective, physical matter, a form of communication.

 with one´s own individual code. It's objective chance as to what will finally group itself around these molecules.
   Memory is also central to psychoanalysis, which attempts to bring the repressed and the forgotten to light in order to stabilize identity.

  : Forgetting is counterrevolutionary, because all technology is geared towards the extinction of memory. Psychoanalysis is, however, the op­posite of art. Art can be described as a flight from self-analysis. If I know who I am, I have no more reason to exist, to go on, to write, or to do something else. Psychoanalysis does not communicate with the code. Rather it rapes it, bending it back until the subject functions again ef­ficiently in society; it stimulates the process of dying in the living.

It's normal for a person's entire biography to appear in the final sec­onds of life, like a film. This is when you know who you are. It's the first clear view we get of our genetic code, and it's also a form of pay­ing one's dues to pass away. Art is the attempt to slow down time to this point, to bring it to a halt. The drive for knowledge is a death drive, and art is the attempt to anesthetize and to build up defenses against the drive for knowledge.


The inscription in the Temple of Delphi read: "Know Yourself." This was, so to speak, an exhortation to deal with the oracle rationally. Per­haps, too, a verdict against art. . .
   W-. H. Auden differentiates between the "maker" and the "doer of things," that is, between makers and doers. Artists belong to the mak­ers, and politicians, scientists, managers to the doers. These two groups share a mutual contempt, and their attitudes are irreconcilable. Whoever does things has to know how things are actually created, how they func­tion in reality, in order to master them. The maker is not concerned with this.

The connections between the individual structural elements become more and more complex, and are charged with an energy that can't be controlled. The artist plays with the structural elements, reconfiguring the particles of reality and partially nullifying reality. This can be controlled less and less by society, which is why civilization always becomes more hostile towards art.

Art is a threat to any existing order. It's subversive to play with reality, because it undermines reality. The art market counters this by turning artworks into cultural com­modities. it attempts to sterilize them and make them safe by bringing them into the circulation of the market. Works of art need to be left

alone if their destructive force is to be; tapped. I he same thing happens in theater or on the festival circuit. The function of the festival is to strip a production of what might be called its aura, its effect. As long as a work of art—be it a play, a picture, a book—circulates, it can't punc­ture reality or our conception of reality.

The doers secretly know that reality is only a fiction, and they have a mortal fear that the illusory conceptions of reality will spring leaks. Any and all means are used to defend the ground of facts upon which one has to live or upon which one believes one has to live. Artworks don't have a function, they have an effect, in the sense that they cancel out the gravity of the old. What we experience as reality is always the product of tradition. Art, on the other hand, exists basically in the sphere of the nontraditional.

But we understand art in principle as a moment of history.

 The point is to separate literature from the libraries, artworks from the museums, to separate reading from writing. Who would dispute, for ex­ample, that a text by Shakespeare isn't at the moment more timely than one from this century. The tendency towards the museolization of art stems from the fact that we all live in museums. This most basic human experience serves as the standard for our conception of reality. As a child one plays with objects, pieces of furniture, for instance, that are older than oneself. What we live from and where we live are always older than we ourselves are. Fashion just scratches the surface, but it never affects anything at its core where the gravity of the old prevails. You have to be clear in your mind about this most basic experience in order to shake it off. History, too, or at least our conception of history, is nothing complete, rather it has to be constantly held in flux.

There is a theory that Lenin was a dadaist and the October Revo­lution was a dadaist performance. Even though that's sheer nonsense, it's correct in principle. It's an attempt to force history out of the mu­seum. Once it's outside the museum, it can speak and the dead can speak with us. Expelling art and history from the museum means tear­ing them away from death and establishing the discourse of the living. Only the production of ever newer perspectives on the old makes it at all possible to live. Everything else turns one into a zombie.

What was unattractive about the GDR was the dust always in the air. It had an antiquated atmosphere. New fashions, new types of music, new technology .il gadgols from the photocopier to the Walkman were perceived to be provocations that had to be repressed.


The GDR's one legitimization came from antifascism, from the dead, the victims. For a time this was laudable, but at a certain point it began to be a burden to the living. It became a dictatorship of the dead over the living—with all the economic consequences. The dead don't need jeans, kiwis, or Walkmans. The products of the GDR were, at best, gifts for the dead. That was the devilish thing about this structure, its Chris­tian legacy—the waiting for the Messiah who comes from the realm of the dead.

But the Messiah always arrives too late. You have to put up with this, even though it's intolerable. There are two types of civi­lization: one is oriented towards the dead, the other towards the living. Socialism feels indebted to the dead, the victims. It was a refuge of slowness because the dead have an endless amount of time. The eco­nomic disaster is a product of what is perhaps the more lofty, noble type of civilization, while the other, which is based on the living, is cheaper but works.
  It's amazing that a form of society based on historical materialism would tend towards metaphysics. In the GDR they said, "The teach­ings of Karl Marx are omnipotent, because they are true." And Mayakovsky said, "Lenin is more alive than any living person."

    Only when he's outside the mausoleum. Then the virus is set free once more. It really doesn't matter what philosophical model a society bases itself upon. As long as it takes the utopia seriously, it is bound to mobilize religious energies. Without the Messiah there would be no utopia, no salvation, because we still don't know of another utopia than that of the Jewish.

Even after thousands of variations it's still the same utopia, the archetype. The National Socialist as well as the commu­nist utopias are two variations of Jewish philosophy. The major prob­lem of this century was the collision of two theocracies, the one wanted to save only Germans, the other the entire world, which is, of course, more humane. This is the basic pattern for the century. It's also the orig­inal reason for anti-Semitism—the father must be killed. The oedipal structure is a purely European problem, because, for an African, it's not a spiritual-moral dilemma to kill the father or to sleep with the mother. An African does not organize his life around this structure.

 But the idea to construct a society based on the; criteria of equal rights and social justice is not at all theocratic or pathological but seems quite reasonable..
 Only as an idea. Every society that has a goal and pursues utopia consciously makes history, moving in another time, the messianic. The Federal Republic moves within empirical time. No political party would make the claim "If we gain power, we will have a paradise on earth in thirty years." Everyone knows that society thrives as long as there is growth, otherwise you have a recession, which may or may not matter to those who have enough. The Federal Republic has cashed in on the promises of National Socialism.

Every German can race his Volkswagen across the autobahn, foreigners without any rights sweep up the garbage, and the bordellos are full of women from Africa and Asia.

There start to be problems when a society becomes mobile. The Jews had no place of their own, which is why they invented a home­land, and that was the utopia, the "no-place." They shifted the home­land from space into time. The nomad moves in cycles from place to place and retains a mythical conception of the world.

But the Jews had no place, and so they had no present. Whoever has no place also has no time. This calls for a different time, namely, messianic time. The Jews didn't have a place for their dead. So they couldn't converse with their ancestors—the idea of resurrection is the result. This is the be­ginning of an uncanny sort of abstraction that explains the congruence of anti-Semitism and anti-intellectualism.

All intellectuals are actually Jews. The affinity between Jews and money is also tied to mobility. Money and capital are something that have no place. The Jews could only survive by linking their placeless structure, their civilization's movement and upheaval, with a monetary structure that was just as mobile and flexible.

  The Jews are a disturbance to time. This disturbance has an unset­tling effect on states, fortifications, settlements; it undermines, in the final analysis, the structure of the state. The only people today who still uphold this mobile, stateless structure are the Gypsies. Their sheer pres­ence is a provocation. As exponents of the mobile structure, they place in question everything upon which the state is based. The real tragedy is the creation of the state of Israel. It's a trap, a reaction to anti- Semitism and the pogroms. Israel has made the Jews a state-building people and led them to give up their actual structure, which is anti-state. In the end, it was Hitler who turned the Jews into Romans. Rome is the nucleus of the state and its imperial structures.
   in biblical tradition Cain stands at the beginning of this develop­ment—the fratricide was also the founder of the first city.

The relation between mobile and sedentary societies is rife with con­flicts. If the Jews are the head of the structure of mobility, then the Mon­gols were the arm. From a purely military standpoint, their superiority rested upon their invention of the saddle, which allowed them to de­ploy their weapons more effectively. The Mongols never wanted to found an empire; they only wanted to destroy empires. Under Ghengis Khan in Russia, the first thing the Mongols did after having captured a city was to slaughter its craftsmen. Craftsmen are vectors of stability.

They build houses, fortify, repair, in short, stabilize. The Mongols, who conquered half of Europe, Turkey, and a large part of the Orient, never founded a city. They buried their dead so that they couldn't be dis­covered, trampling the ground with their horses until the grave could no longer be seen. Even today, no one knows where Ghengis Khan lies buried. Without the dead, however, a state cannot be founded. Mobil­ity is a form of life. Stability is an ideal, a program.

The best day in school is the field trip, which isn't a lesson, but a surprise. Everything that can be lived out by means of mobility has to be locked away in a climate of stability, and that poisons life. Explosions result.

  The fundamental problem for the next century will be the mass mi­gration of peoples from the Third World to the First.
As long as there was a Second World, there was still hope for the Third World. This isn't so anymore. Hitler's stroke of genius was to see that Europe could only survive—be held—by means of mobility. Eu­rope was always a center out of which movement originated, but it had itself never been moved. The actual function of the October Revolu­tion was to set the world in motion against Europe.

The price was the freezing up of the idea of communism. Hitler realized that only mo­bility, the conversion of Europe into a liquid state, could oppose a world set in motion against Europe by the October Revolution. His real problem was that he had too little fuel for his program, for the strategy of mobility. This is going to be the problem of the future as well. The Americans can do headstands—there just isn't enough energy.

While we were all thinking in phases and slit king to tradition, Gor­bachev was     the first to think the lessons of this century through to their conclusion. He    deconstructed the Eastern Bloc and put into practice Lenin's thesis on the reduction of the state through socialism in a way that was quite different from what Lenin had in mind. He needed the bolt of speed in order to disturb the static of the October Revolution. He revived the strategy of mobility in the era of the atomic bomb, that is, made it possible. Mobility was the privilege of the West, at least within a specific economic framework. Gorbachev destroyed this framework, taking a phrase from Baudrillard, "We have left the silent film era of the political." 

Gorbachev brought an end to the Cold War by dissolving the East-West conflict, the battle of ideologies, in the North-South conflict. The point now is not ideas, but rather realities. He reduced the conflict between capitalism and socialism to its mate­rial core, the opposition between rich and poor. This conflict now is acquiring its world-historical significance and force.

In contrast, the idea of making Europe into a stronghold is totally stupid. Nothing will come of it. The tide of the October Revolution can no longer be stemmed.

Tens of millions of poor and oppressed are standing outside the gates and want in. The belief that Europe can still be held, if defended, is an illusion. The victory of capitalism is the be­ginning of its end, because you can't conquer something that has al­ready thrown itself at your feet. It can only trip you up. Capitalism, tra­ditionally the aggressor, is now surrounded by Asia and Africa and stands with its back against the hole in the ozone layer.

By putting Lenin's thesis on the abolishment of the state under so­cialism into practice, Gorbachev liberated socialism from the dicta­torship of the dead and discharged the Christian legacy. Now all that is bad for bourgeois society is free to develop its many variations; it is impossible to conceive of this in traditional categories. According to certain heretic traditions, the Messiah comes out of the tradition of evil: at the final judgment someone stands up and says, "J'appelle" (I ap­peal). And the one who objects is Jesus.

Bourgeois society is based on differentiation, but when it is no longer able to identify evil it ceases to be able to define its own limits and determine itself. It needs the other for this, the empire of evil. This empire is currently dissolved. The downfall of bourgeois society is this—the future is evil. What remains of bourgeois society is Rimbaud's phrase "I is someone else." The dream of the avant garde is now ac­quiring the quality of ,\ nightmare. Bourgeois consciousness, which is no longer able to define itself, is dissolving as a historic subject.

 Can this—the "new world order"—also be understood as an aspect of emancipation?

Only negatively, because you can only emancipate yourself as an in­dividual. A conglomerate of the individual and the other cannot be emancipated. Groups cannot be emancipated either. As an individual you can still have a consciousness, but in a group or as the other you can only have a false consciousness. Each individual who lives in a group construction has to renounce a part of him or herself. Everything that is valid for two people is wrong. The only thing right is what is true for the individual. This begins with the relationship between a man and a woman. The very idea that there could be a union between a man and a woman is mistaken, because in the first place the preconditions are far too different. Only a false consciousness can make you oblivi­ous to this difference, and love is a metaphor for false consciousness. The true content of communism is individualization, and this includes the abolishment of love. Communism is total individualization and the recognition of that individualization. "Community" is always a phrase used to legitimize the invasion of the individual. You have to learn— and this is the essence of emancipation—to bear being alone.

In: A Heiner Müller reader: plays, poetry, prose. Edited by Carl Weber and translated by Matthew Griffin. PAJ-Book: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984, p. 130-141.

domingo, 30 de dezembro de 2012

The Sharpest Ideology: That Reality Appeals to its Realistic Character by Alexander Kluge

It must be possible to present reality as the historical fiction that it is. Its impact on the individual is real, is fate. But it is not fate, but made by the labour of generations of men who the whole time actually wanted and want something completely different.

In this sense it is in various respects simultaneously real and unreal. Real and unreal in every one of its individual aspects: collective wishes of men, labour power, relations of production, persecution of witches, history of wars, life histories of individuals. Each of these aspects themselves and all together have an antagonistic quality: they are a crazy fiction and they have a real impact.

This makes for rigidity. Frozen coldness. Men die as a result, are pulled apart, are subjected to bombing raids, are dead while alive, are placed in asylums as mad, etc.
Reality is real in that it really oppresses men. It is unreal in that every oppression only displaces energies. They disappear from sight but they con­tinue to work underground. The repressed is the source of all labour under­neath the terror of the real.

A so-called love scene is for example such a real fiction. We are all accus­tomed to measure such a scene in a film - or in reality - by 'realistic criteria', which are supposedly contained in this scene itself. The love scene, however, is only realistic if for example the future abortion is also built into it.

But also the history of all earlier abortions. The same applies to a love scene in reality whether or not the pair think of abortion, whether or not this is relevant for the concrete case.

All previous experience, also that excluded by contraception, also that of parents and grandparents and of all other love scenes, is present in the concrete scene. The conflict between tenderness and the untender consequences, the excessive expectation and how much of it is fulfilled, precisely this is the real content. All other perceptions are measured against the sharpness of this conflict. Iso­lated, reduced to the 'present', the love scene becomes ideological. The scene also becomes ideological if all the illusions are cast out. It could not take place.

The history of whole generations and of all its consequences stamps the capa­city or the incapacity for love, all forms of expression in the scene, all contact, all hesitation, the spontaneity. The foreshortened perception of the sexuality of the woman is real if it is thought that it applies to orgasm, but also her real sexual history, which goes on being narrated until the child is born, grows up, includ­ing the history of children, who through contraception are not conceived, but who then negatively determine any particular moment. Whole novels are in­volved, without which the individual scene is not realistic.

An admirer of reality lets things be, takes a walk through reality, ‘lives'. Apparently he has a congruous relation - no protest occurs. This is an error, however. How does it come about that the 'monstrous assembly of commodities' takes no notice of his human needs and that he doesn't notice this? 'In practice I can only relate humanly to things when things relate humanly to men'. Things do not, however, relate humanly to him.

How does it happen that he doesn't perceive this? The distorters of consciousness have already had their effect on him. He has to have destroyed all realism of the senses in order to attain and maintain his contentedness.

This highly ideological labour presupposes the protest, which must have occurred very early in this case, now the energy of protest has been worked off, transformed into 'harmony'. Social nature can produce no balanced relation to the real.

The motive for realism is never the confirmation of reality but protest. Protest ex­presses itself in various ways: through radical imitation (clowning, insistence, mimicry, surface coherence, absurdity, mimesis), through escape from the pressure of reality (dream, negation, exaggeration, invention, replacement of a problem by another, salto mortale, simple omission, utopia), or attack ('Destroy what is destroying you', aggressive montage, annihilation of the object, clicheing the opponent, self-doubt, representation taboos, destruction of the metier, guillo­tine).

The distinction between escape (schematism of the pressure of reality) and attack (schematism of the self-defence of the subject) is outwardly gradual and mostly not recognisable in reality. A variant of the attack, the annihilating reaction, is the violent righting of the inverted relation to things. The reactions of the apparatus of consciousness (imitation, escape) are repressed in the interest of a ‘rational', ‘balanced attitude'.

In all these cases protest (moral feeling, rage, reason) finds direct expression. This direct response, however, distorts the capacity to differentiate within rea­lity, the grid of attention. What is realistic in this response (the protest itself, the motive) and what is ideological (the result, the statement) cannot be separated from each other.

This is least harmful in the case of imitation. Only the analytic interest, the clarity, of the statement is affected here. In the work forms of escape and attack the real determination can still be indirectly comprehended by trans­lating back. In the case of violent righting, of rationalising on the other hand, the original relation to reality is almost impossible to reconstruct, it has disappeared in favour of the clarity of statement, of the precision of the battlefront.

Thus not only reality as object is antagonistic but also every human method of work­ing on this reality, whether the effort operates within the real relations or whether it places itself above the object. What is realistic here, the anti-realism of the motive (pro­test, resistance) produces the unrealistic.

The key lies in the work process itself. First of all it is a question of producing the capacity of differentiation at any price: not the radicalising of the results (they are not the root) but the differentiation of the realism of the motive (first step).

The realism of the motive is determined by its confrontation with all the collective and individual, immediate (events) and mediated (reported knowledge) contents of experience. This takes place in the head and is real. It presupposes the method of association and an organised capacity of remembrance. The restruc­turing of sensuous interest to a sensuous-socialised, thoroughly analytic ‘second instinct'.

Inseparable from the realism of the motive is the realism of the method of opera­tion ofthe human perceptual apparatus (second step).

It has its own laws of motion. An analytic method is hidden in them, which has to be translated back. These laws of motion of the apparatus of consciousness are the outcomes of the work of protest of the whole human species, its living work. In an unreal social con­text (of alienation) they express themselves through resistances, distortions, in­hibitions, exaggeration, illusionary identification and subtraction, that is to say, in a completely unrealistic way. But it is precisely this resistance which provides their analytic, realistic key. ‘For only what does not fit into this world is true' (Adorno). The recognition of the realism of protest and of the realism of the hu­man brain with its reshaping reaction to reality, that is, the species given nature of protest, is the fundamental condition of realism.

This is the subjective side, to which corresponds the mediation of the objec­tive side: the actual situation (third step). Nowadays it is almost never 'naturally' available to the senses.
It has to be produced, constructively, reductively, even when it appears as though it has only been 'found'. This finding already presup­poses analytic and synthetic labour, otherwise nothing is found. This finding is active, because it is determined by the leaving out of everything else. It is 'etched out'. What the individual camera shot does not include is shaped into a situation. Only in this way can the pre- - and after- - history, which is intrinsic to every situation, be made visible.

It is always the question of a constellation. An actual situation in itself, that is, the mere individual shot, does not contain the organising element which makes it concrete. Thus the discovery of concrete situations presupposes the production of the means of production, the forms of authentic observation (fourth step). This produc­tion process is not for instance identical with the application of film technique or of styles. The production of the forms of expression must rather be concrete, following the analytic method, and respond to the proceeding steps 1 to 3. Strictly speaking, authentic laws of form would thus have to be newly developed for every film. In every case the taking over of formal laws from the history of the film has to be freshly tested for each new film.

The classical ideal of the unity of form and content will thus reveal itself as schematic. The realisms of the motive, of human perception (distortion), the realism of the actual, that is, social situa­tions and the realism of the filmic means of production - they are all formal laws of the social reality and not the substance of the individual film or of the individual artist's head. The alien formal laws of society in relation to the indi­vidual film material give the proportions of the resultant product.

The means of expression is the difference, the basic disharmony between the individual product and reality, not the easily fabricated harmony of the individual material with itself.

Finally the production of the horizon of experience (fifth step). Without such a context of experience, which mediates experience in the production of experience, neither motive nor perception of constellation can exist or direct themselves, nor are there criteria for the authenticity of the means of production. Without it there would be no collectivity.

This horizon of experience is the specific form of the public sphere, in which the whole cultural work of experience takes place. The reshaping of the public sphere is therefore the condition and at the same time that most important object which the realistic method works on and against.

It is not a question of waiting for the reshaping of the horizon of experi­ence, because for instance the separation of experiences through the compartmentalisation of the bourgeois public sphere hampers each of the steps named here, rather the uncompromising production of realistic products is itself the means of changing the horizon of experience by breaking through the limits of the public sphere. If it is a question for example of changing the cinematic hor­izon, then films are one of the means of expanding the horizon of experience.

 On the other hand reality itself produces a breaking through of the classical horizons of the public sphere. For instance: forms of perception, contents of rea­lity penetrate the cinema, which did not originate in the cinema but arise from the permanently changing reproduction of society. The cutting out of the sec­ondary in favour of the primary, for example the feet or the body in the interest of the close-up, is prepared through the social cutting into shape of labour power. Only if this is given in the experience of the audience can the film make film language out of it. All this has the character of a construction site.

It is fundamentally imperfect and it is therefore permissible to make an outline of the realistic method without taking into account that neither one's own films nor film history, neither the practice of today's author films nor the films of the proletcult movement, nor the work of groups of political film-makers can fill in this outline, because it is anyway only provisional.

Cinema, author film, political film are a programme unrealised. For this reason it is not a contradiction when radical method and early capitalist forms of production of 1810 stand side by side in the practical work of author films. Another aspect: it is not a contradiction when one ex­presses ruthless modernity, that is, formal laws of the present, in the most primi­tive possible forms of the silent film.

I do not take up the silent film in my films for stylistic reasons, but because it is a question of 'radically' keeping open the ele­mentary roots of the film as long as the total structure of the cinema is only a programme. This is the source of the need for robustness. Not because it is a ques­tion of robustness, but because it answers elementary interests of the audience, who have this robustness, the unfinished, the open character of a building site in themselves. Therefore method: yes, but antiprofessional, with all imperfec­tions: ‘cinema impure'.

Some additional comments: the method described above of violent righting (rationalistic procedure) has to be excluded. The direct interest in a realistic re­sult, which is contained in it and is in itself correct, makes every one of the necessary steps impossible. It is not so much a stumbling as a damaging of the means of production, of the object of production, of the apparatus of conscious­ness and a chopping to pieces of the raw material of experience. It cannot be too strongly opposed.

Against this, the method of imitation together with the examination of all the escape  movements of the human subjective apparatus offer outstanding new material. These movements contain the whole collective historical store of ex­perience, admittedly fragmented into individual segments together with distor­tions, which result from the antagonisms of subjective and objective reality, that is to say, the complete raw material of historical experience - in a disguised form. Whoever does not have the confidence to engage with this material can forget about the realistic method.

The finding of situations is an extraordinarily comprehensive and radical la­bour of construction. One gets an idea of it if one observes how in his novel Ulysses James Joyce writes more than a thousand pages to concretise 24 hours of the average man Leopold Bloom.

Proust: capacity for remembrance in seven volumes. The concreteness of the situation presupposes a radical complexity of the narration. All forms of expression of the bourgeois public sphere - the prin­ciple of actuality, the obviousness of the points, the grammar itself, the grid of the language of communication, the ways of organising narrative interests and types, including the epic, etc. - fragment the complexity of perception, which is in fact the basic form of the senses.

My intention is to make clear what the pro­duction of sensuous concreteness, the production of filmable situations is. The reason why such a grasping and narration of situations does not exist in any medium lies in the fact that too little labour power is invested in this direction.
Reality does produce such complexes in natural form. It is simply that they remain unnarrated. Reduction and construction, both methods of production of 'scenes', are possible artistic forms of expression but they are also real forms, with which history cuts men into shape for its own novel of reality. All aesthetic laws of form are in this sense read off from reality and never 'artistic invention'. They are also always produced in the heads of the audience before they occur to an author. The author merely has the possibility of using them correctly or falsely.

What does apply is the following: either social history narrates its novel of reality without regard for men or men narrate their counter-history. They can only do this, however, on the level of the complexity of reality. This demands in the most literal sense the 'art object', an aggregate of art objects. Sensuousness as method is not a natural product of society.

Translated by David Roberts

In: Alexander Kluge: Raw Material for the Imagination. Amsterdam, 2012, pp. 191-196.