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.

4 comentários:

  1. "...and love is a metaphor for false consciousness".
    I don't agree with this phrasal kind of demystification, I believe the opposite: it's an 'expansion' of consciousness.
    Possibly he speaks about the common, 'destruction type'..but this is not love! :)

    my good-evening/good-morning greetings, Jose!

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