Walter BenJoamin

NLB
One- Way Street
and
C//cr Ìrt/tn_:
TransIafors Ldmundjeµhcoff
KingsIeyShorfer
·¬ r

All texts in this volume are included in Walter Benjamin,
Cssamms/aSc/rj/|sr,Bd I-IV, published by Suhrkamp Verlag,
Frankfurt 1974-1976, with the exception of BsrlirsrC/rorik,
published by Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt 1970.
© Suhrkamp Verlag
The following texts first appeared in English, wholly or in
part, in Walter Benjamin, Rgsc|iors, Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich, New York 1978: "One-Way Street" (selections),
"On Language as Such and on the Language of Man",
"Fate and Character", "Critique of Violence",
"Theologico-Political Fragment", "The Destructive
Character", "On the Mimetic Faculty", "Naples",
"Moscow", "Marseilles", "Hashish in Marseilles",
"Surrealism", "Karl Kraus" and "Berlin Chronicle".
© Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978
This edition first published 1979
© NLB, 1979
NLB, 7 Carlisle Street, London WI
ISBN 86091 0148
Printed in Great Britain by
Lowe & Brydone Printers Limited
Thetford, Norfolk.
C¤rlºrls
Introduction by Susan Sontag
Publisher's Note
I
One- Way Street
II
On Language as Such and on the Language ofMan
Fate and Character
Critique ofViolence
" Theologico-Political Fragment
The Destructive Character
On the Mimetic Faculty
II1
Naples
Moscow
Marseilles
Hahish in Marseilles
IV
, Surrealism
A Small History ofPhotography
'Karl Kraus
7
2
9
4
5
107
12
4
1
3
2
155
157
160
v
A Berlin Chronicle
��
VI
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian
Bibliographical Note
Indx
2
93
3
49
ÍDI¡OUuCIIOD
busan bOn!ag
In most ofthe portrait photographs he is Ìooking down, his right
hand to his face. The earÌiest one I knowshows him m i gc;÷he
isthirty-hve÷withdarkcurÌyhairoverahighforehead,moustache
abovea fuÌI ÌowerÌip. youthfuI, aÌmosthandsome. With his head
Iowered, hisjacketed shouIden seem to start behind his ears , his
thumb Ieans against his jaw, the rest of the hand, cigarette
betweenbentindeandthirdhngers,covenhischin,thedownward
Iook through his gIasses÷the soft, day-dreamer's gaze of the
myopic÷seems toboat oßto theIowerÌeÞ ofthe photograph.
In a picture from the Iate i gjos, the curÌy hair hæ hardIy
receded, but there is no trace ofyouth or handsomeness, the face
hæ widened and the upper torso seems not just high but bÌocky,
huge. The thicker moustache and the pudgy foÌded hand with
thumb tucked under cover his mouth. The Ìook is opaque, or
just more inward. he couId b thinking÷or Iistening. ('Hewho
Ìistens hard doesn't see," Benjaminwrote in his essay on KaIka. )
There are books behind his head.
In a photograph taken in the summer of i gj8, on the Ìast of
severaÌ visits he made t Brechtin exiÌe in Denmark aIter i gjj,
he is standing in front ofBrecht's house, an oId man at forty-six,
in white shirt, tie, trousen with watch chain. a sIack, corpuÌent
hgure, Iooking trucuIentIy at the camera.
Anotherpicture,fromi gj;,showsBenjaminintheBibIiothcque
NationaIe in Paris. Two men, neitherofwhose face can be seen,
sharea tabIesomedistancebehindhim. Benjaminsiuintheright
7
8
foreground, probably taking notes for the book on Baudelaire and
nineteenth-century Paris he had been writing for a decade. He is
consulting a volume he holds open on the table with his left hand­
his eyes can't bseen-looking, as it were, into the lower right edge
of the photograph.
His close friend Gershom Scholem has described his frst
glimpse of Be�amin in Berlin in 1 91 3, at a·joint meeting of a
Zionist youth group and Jewish members of the Free German
Student Association, of which the twenty-one-year-old Benjamin
was a leader. He spoke "extempore without b much as a glance at
his audience, staring with a fixed gaze at a remote corner of the
ceiling which he harangued with much intensity, in a style
incidentally that was, as far as I remember, ready for print. "!
He was what the French call un triste. In his youth he seemed
marked by "a profound sadness", Scholem wrote. He thought of
himself as a melancholic, disdaining modern psychological labels
and invoking the traditional astrological one: "I came into the
world under the sign of Saturn-the star of the slowest revolution,
the planet of detours and delays ø . . . '
²
His major projects, the
book published in 1 928 on the German baroque drama (the
Trauerspiel; literally, sorrow-play) and his never completed Paris,
Capital i the Nineteent Centur, cannot b fully understoo unless
one grasps how much they rely on a theory of melancholy.
Benjamin projected himself his temperament, into all his
major subjects, and his temperament determined what he chose
to write about. It wa what he saw in subjects, such as the seven-
¯ Gershom Scholem, "Walter Benjamin", in On Jews ar Judais in Crisis
(Schocken, 1 976) . Scholem, fve year younger than Benjamin, relate that they
did not actually meet until 1 91 5, during Scholem's frst term at the University of
Munich, which Benjamin attended after leaving the University of Berlin. Unless
otherwise indicated, the Scholem quotations come from this essay, written in 1 964,
or from "Walter Benjamin and His Angel" , written in 1 972, in the same volume.
¯ In "Agesilaus Santander", a short text that Benjamin wrote in Ibiza in August
1 933, found in his notebooks and frst published by Scholem in "Walter Benjamin
and His Angel".
Introduction 9
teenth-century baroque plays (which dramatize diferent facets
of "Saturnine acedia") and the writer about whose work he
wrote most brilliantly-Baudelaire, Proust, Kafka, Karl Kraus. He
even found the Saturnine element in Goethe. 3 For, despite the
polemic in his great (still untranslated) essay on Goethe's Elective
Afnities against interpreting a writer's work by his life, he did make
selective us of the life in his deepest meditations on texts: informa­
tion that disclosed the melancholic, the solitary. (Thus, he describes
Proust's "lonelines which pulls the world down into its vortex";
explains how Kafka, like Klee, wa "essentially solitary"; cites
Robert Walser's "horror of succes in life".) QE_e5���?t u_se the life
to i�!�E�e� th�"o!�. B�t_(ne can use .the work to interpret the life.
Two short books of reminiscence of his Berlin childhoo and
student years, written in the early tggo and unpublished in his
lifetime, contain Benjamin's most explicit self-portrait. To the
nascent melancholic, in school and on walks with his mother,
"solitude appeared to me as the only fit state of man." Benjamin
doe not mean solitude in a room-he was often sick a a child­
but solitude in the great metropolis, the busynes of the idle stroller,
free to daydream, observe, ponder, cruise. The mind who was to
attach much of the nineteenth century's sensibility to the fgure
of the jlneur, personified by that superbly self-aware melancholic
Baudelaire, spun much of his own sensibility out of his phantas­
magorical, shrewd, subtle relation to cities. The street, the passage,
the arcade, the labyrinth are recurrent theme in his literary
essays and, notably, in the projected book on nineteenth-century
Paris, a well a in his travel piece and reminiscences. (Robert
Walser, for whom walking wa the centre of his reclusive life and
marvellous books, is a writer to whom one particularly wishes
Benjamin had. devoted a longer essay. )4 The only book of a dis-
´ The long Goethe essay was written in 1 922 and appeared in two parts i 1 924-
1 925 in the Neue Deutsche Beitrage, a magazine published in Vienna and edited by
Hugo von Hofmannsthal. In 1 937 Benjamin excerpted the section about Goethe's
Saturnine character and published it in French translation in Les Cahiers du Sud as
"L'angoisse mythique chez Goethe."
¯ Benjamin's brief essay "Robert Walser" was frst published in Das Tagebuch in
1 929; it i still untranslated.
Ì1
creetly autobiographical nature published in his lifetime was
titled One- W 1 Street. Reminiscence of self are reminiscence of a
place, and how he positions himself in it, navigate around it.
"Not to fnd one's way about in a city is of little interest, " begins
his still un translated A Berlin Childhood Around the Tum i the Century.
"But to lose one's way in a city, a one lose one's way in a forest,
requires practice . . . . I learned this art late in life: it fulflle the
dreams whose frst trace were the labyrinths on the blotter of my
exercise books. " This passage also occurs in A Berlin Chronicle, after
Benjamin suggests how much practice it took to get lost, given an
original sense of "impotence before the city". His goal is to b a
competent street-map reader who knows how to stray. And to
locate himself, with imaginary maps. Elsewhere in Berlin Chronicle
Benjamin relate that for year he had played with the idea of
mapping his life. For this map, which he imagined a grey, he had
devised a colourful system of signs that "clearly marked in the
house of my friends and girl friends, the assembly halls of various
collectives, from the 'debating chambers' of the Youth Movement
to the gathering place of the Communist youth, the hotel and
brothel rooms that I knew for one night, the decisive benche in
the Tiergarten, the ways to diferent schools and the grave that I
saw flled, the site of prestigious cafes whose long-forgotten
name daily crossed our lips." Once, waiting for someone in the
Cafe de Deux Magot in Paris, he relates, he managed to draw a
diagram of his life: it wa like a labyrinth, in which each important
relationship fgure a W entrance to the maze".
The recurrent metaphors of map and diagrams, memories and
dreams, labyrinths and arcades, vistas and panoramas, evoke a
certain vision of citie a well a a certain kind of life. Paris, Ben­
jamin writes, "taught me the art of straying". The revelation of the
city's true nature came not in Berlin but in Paris, where he stayed
frequently throughout the Weimar years, and lived a a refugee
from t933 until his suicide while trying to escap from France in
1 940-more exactly, the Paris re-imagined in the Surrealist
narrative (Breton's Nadja, Aragon's L Paysan dParis). With these
metaphors, he is indicating a general problem about orientation,
Introduction 11
and erecting a standard of difculty and complexity. (A labyrinth
is a place where one gets lost.) He is als suggesting a notion about
the forbidden, and how to gain acces to it: through an act of
the mind that is the same a a physical act. "Whole networks of
streets were opened up under the auspice of prostitution," he
write in Berlin Chronicle, which begins by invoking an Ariadne,
the whore who leads this son of rich parent for the frst time across
"the threshold of class." The metaphor of the labyrinth also
suggests Benjamin's idea of obstacle thrown up by his own
temperament.
The infuence of Satur make people "apathetic, indecisive,
slow", he write in The Origin of German Trauerspiel.* Slowness is one
characteristic of the melancholic temperament. Blundering is
another, from noticing to many possibilities, from not noticing
one's lack of practical sense. And stubbornness, from the longing
to be superior-on one's own terms. Benjamin recalls his stubborn­
nes during childhoo walks with his mother, who would turn
insignifcant items of conduct into tests of his aptitude for practical
life, thereby reinforcing what wa inept ("my inability even today
to make a cup of cofee") and dreamily recalcitrant in his nature.
"My habit of seeming slower, more maladroit, more stupid than I
am, had it origin in such walks, and ha the great attendant danger
of making me think myself quicker, more dexterous, and shrewder
than I am. " And from this stubbornnes comes, "above all, a
gaze that appear to see not a third of what it take in. "
One- Way Street distills the experience of the writer and lover (it is
dedicated to Asja Lacis, who "cut it through the author"),5
¯ Der Ursprun des deutsche Trauerspiels ( 1 928). Benjamin's study of the Baroque
Trauerspiel is published in English as The Origin q German Tragi Drama, trans.
John Osborne, London/NLB, 1977.
´ Asja Lacis and Benjamin met in Capri in the summer of 1 924. She was a
Latvian communist revolutionary and theatre director, assistant to Brecht and to
Piscator, with whom Benjamin wrote "Naples" in 1 925 (pp. 1 67-76 below) and
for whom he wrote "Programme for a Proletarian Children's Theatre" in 1 928
(translated in Perormance, NO. 5, March/April 1 973). It wa Lacis who got Benjamin
an invitation to Moscow in the winter of 1 926-1927 and who introduced him to
Brecht in 1 929. Benjamin hoped to marry her when he and his wife were fnally
divorced in 1 930. But she returned to Riga and later Jpent ten year i a Soviet
camp.
ͱ
experience that can b guessed at in the opening words on the
writer's situation, which sound the theme of revolutionary moral­
ism, and the fnal "To the Planetarium", a paean to the technolo­
gical wooing of nature and to sexual ecstasy. Benjamin could write
about himself more directly when he started from memories, not
contemporary experiences; when he write about himself a a
child. At that distance, childhood, he can survey his life a a space
that can bmapped. The candour and the surge of painful feelings
in Berlin Childhood and Berlin Chronicle become possible precisely
because Benjamin has adopted a completely digested, analytical
way of relating the past. It evoke events for the reactions to the
events, place for the emotions one has deposited in the places, other
people for the encounter with oneself feelings and behaviour for
intimations of future passions and failure contained in them.6
Fantasie of monster loose in the large apartment while his parents
entertain their friends prefgure his revulsion against his class; the
dream of being allowed to sleep as long a he wants, instead of
having to get up early to go to school, will b fulflled when­
afer his book on the Trauerspiel failed to qualif him for a university
lectureship-he realize that "his hope of a position and a secure
livelihoo had always been in vain"; his way of walking with his
mother, "with pedantic care" keeping one step behind her, pre­
fgure his "sabotage of real social existence."
Benjamin regards everything he choose to recall in his past as
prophetic of the future, because the work of memory (reading
oneself backward, he called it) collapse time. There is no chrono­
logical ordering of his reminiscences, for which he disavows the
name of autobiography, because time is irrelevant. ("Auto­
biography ha to do with time, with sequence and what make up
the continuous fow of life," he write in Berlin Chronicle. "Here, I
am talking of a space, of moments and discontinuities.") �ç

i

,
the translator of Proust, wrote fragment of an opus that couId be
´ For an excellent essay, written in 1 961 , on Berlin Childhood B a reading of the
past for omens of the future, see Peter Szondi, "Hope in the Past: 'alter Benjamin",
translated in Critical Inquiry, VoL 4, NO. 3, Spring 1 978.
Introduction 13
calle< � la rec�etcf_ d!s es
p
aces perdues. Memory, the staging of the
past, turns the fow of events into tableaux. Benjamin is not trying
to recover his past, but to understand it: to condense it into its
spatial forms, its premonitory structures.
For the baroque dramatists, he write in The Origin rf German
Trauerspiel, "chronological movement is grasped and analysed in a·
spatial image. " The book on the Trauerspiel is not only Benjamin's
frst account of what it means to convert time into space; it is
where he explains most clearly what feeling underlies this move.
Awash in melancholic awareness of "the disconsolate chronicle
of world history", a proces of incessant decay, the baroque
dramatists seek to escape from history and restore the "timeless­
ness" of paradise. The seventeenth-century baroque sensibility
had a "panoramatic" conception of history: "history merge into
the setting. " In Berlin Childhood and Berlin Chronicle, Benjamin
merge his life into a setting. The successor to the baroque stage
set is the Surrealist city: the metaphysical landscap in whose
dreamlike spaces people have "a brief shadowy existence", like
the nineteen-year-old poet whose suicide, the great sorrow of
Benjamin's student years, is condensed in the memory of rooms that
the dead friend inhabited.
Benjamin's recurrent theme are, characteristically, means of
spatializing the world: for example, his notion of idea and ex­
perience a ruins. To understand something is to understand its
topography, to know how to chart it. And to know how to get lost.
For the character bor under the sign of Saturn, time is the
medium of constraint, inadequacy, repetition, mere fulflment. In
time, one is only what one is: what one ha always been. In space,
one can banother person. Benjamin's poor sense of direction and
inability to read a street map become his love of travel and his
mastery of the art of straying. Time d(�_I(�_gi��o�e_ ��_ c�leeway:
it tlrll:st M forward from. behind, blows M through the narrow
fnel of the present into the future. But space is broad, teeming
with possibilities, positions, intersections, passages, detours, !-
turns, dead ends, one-way streets. To manyposs}bilities, in�e�d.
Since the Saturnine temperament is slow, prone to indecisiveness,
sometime one has to cut one's way through with a knife. Some­
times one ends by turning the knife against oneself
The mark of the Saturnine temperament is the self-conscious and
unforgiving relation to the self which can never b taken for
granted. The self is a text-it has to be deciphered. (Hence, this
is an apt temperament for intellectuals.) The self is a project,
something to b built. (Hence, this is an apt temperament for
artists and martyrs, those who court "the purity and beauty of a
failure", as Benjamin says of Kafka. ) And the proces of building a
self and its works is always to slow. One is always in arrear to
oneself
Things appear at a distance, come forward slowly. In Berlin
Childhood
,
he speaks of his "propensity for seeing everything I care
about approach me from far away" -the way, often il a a child,
he imagined the hour approaching his sickbed. "This is perhaps
the origin of what other call patience in me, but which in truth
does not resemble any virtue. " (Of course, other did experience
it a patience, as a virtue. Scholem has described him a "the most
patient human being I ever came to know."f
But something like patience is needed for the melancholic's
labour of decipherment. Proust, a Benjamin notes, wa excited
by "the secret language of the salons"; Benjamin was drawn to more
compact codes. He collected emblem books, liked to make up
anagrams, played with pseudonyms. His taste for pseudonyms well
antedate his need a a German-Jewish refugee, who from 1933 to
1 936 continued to publish reviews in German magazine under the
name of Detlev Holz, the name he used to sign the last book to
Scholem continues : "And to deal with Benjamin one had U have the greatest
patience onesel( Only very patient people could gain deeper contact with him."
Scholem cites the testimony of someone who was with Benjamin during his intern­
ment in a camp near Paris and in Nevers in the autumn of 1939, that he made an
indelible impression on his fellow prisoners "by his infnite and stoic patience, which
he demonstrated without any ostentation whatever and under the most difcult
conditions.
Introduction 15
appear in his lifetime, Deutsche Menschen, published in Switzerland
in 1 936. In the amazing text recently published by Scholem,
"Agesilaus Santander", Benjamin speaks of his fantasy of having a
secret name; the name of this text-which turns on the figure in the
Klee drawing he owned, "Angelus Novus" -is, as Scholem has
pointed out, an anagram of The Angel Satan (De Angelus Satanas).
He wa an "uncanny" graphologist, Scholem reports, though
"later on he tended to conceal this gift". (Benjamin discusses
handwriting in "On the Mimetic Faculty".)
Dissimulation, secretiveness appear a necessity to the melan­
cholic. He has complex, often veiled relations with others. These
feelings of superiority, of inadequacy, of bafed feeling, of not being
able to get what one wants, or even name it properly (or consis­
tently) to oneself-these can be, it is felt they ought to be, masked by
friendliness, or the most scrupulous manipulation. Using a word
that wa also applied to Kafa by those who knew him, Scholem
speaks of "the almost Chinese courtesy" that characterized
Benjamin's relations with people. But one is not surprised to learn,
of the man who could justif Proust's "invective against friend­
ship", that Benjamin could also drop friends brutally, as he did his
comrade from the Youth Movement, when they no longer inter­
ested him. 8 Nor is one surprised to lear that this fastidious,
intransigent, fiercely serious man could also fatter people he
probably did not think his equals, that he could let himself be
"baited" (his own word) and condescended to by Brecht on his
visits to Denmark. This prince of the intellectual life could also be
a courtier.
Benjamin analysed both parts in The Origin q German Trauerspiel
by the theory of melancholy. One characteristic of the Saturnine
temperament is slowness: "The tyrant falls on account of the
¯ See H. W. Belmore, "Some Recollections of Walter Benjamin", i Germa Lie
at Letters, Volume XXVIII, NO. 2, January 1 975. This spiteful and unadmiring
portrait of Benjamin is a document of the unquenchable bitternes about being
dropped still felt, sixty year later, by one of these friends. Herbert Belmore wa a
Gymnasium classmate of Benjamin; the earliest letters (Nos. 1-10, in the two­
volume Suhrkamp edition of Benjamin's letter are written to him.
sluggishnes of his emotions." "Another trait of the predominance
of Saturn," says Benjamin, is "faithlessness." This is represented
by the character of the courtier in baroque drama, whose mind is
"fuctuation itself ". The manipulativeness of the courtier is partly
a "lack of character"; partly it "reflects Ü inconsolable, despon­
dent surrender to an impenetrable conjunction of baleful con­
stellations [that] seem to have taken on a massive, almost thing-like
cast. " Only someone identifying with this sense of historical
catastrophe, this degree of despondency, would have explained
why the courtier is not to be despised. His faithlessness to his
fellow men, Benjamin says, corresponds to the "deeper, more
contemplative faith " he keep with material emblems.
What Benjamin describe could be understood as simple
pathology: the tendency of the melancholic temperament to
project its inner torpor outward, a the immutability of misfortune,
which is experienced a "massive, almost thinglike". But his argu­
ment is more daring: he perceives that the deep transactions
between the malancholic and the world always take place with
things (rather than with people) ; and that these are genuine
transactions, which reveal meaning. Precisely because the
melancholy character is haunted by death, it is melancholies who
best know how to read the world. Or, rather, it is the world which
yields itself to the melancholic's scrutiny, as it doe to no one else's.
The more lifeles things are, the more potent and ingenious can
b the mind which contemplate them.
If this melancholy temperament is faithles to people, it ha good
reason to bfaithful to things. Fidelity lie in accumulating things­
which appear, mostly, in the form of fragments or ruins. ("It is
common practice in baroque literature to pile up fragments inces­
santly", Benjamin writes.) Both the baroque and Surrealism,
sensibilities with which Benjamin profoundly identifed, see reality
as things. Benjamin describe the baroque as a world of things
(emblems, ruins) and spatialized idea ("allegorie are, in the
realm of thought, what ruins are in the realm of things"). The
genius of Surrealism wa to generalize with ebullient candour the
baroque cult of ruins; to perceive that the nihilistic energie of the
Introduction 17
moder era make everything a ruin or fragment-and therefore
collectible. A world whose past has become (by definition) obsolete,
and whose present churns out instant antiques, invites custodians,
decoders, and collectors.
A one kind of collector himself, Benjamin remained faithful to
things-as things. According to Scholem, building his library,
which included many first editions and rare books, was "his most
enduring personal passion". Inert in the face of thing-like disaster,
the melancholy temperament is galvanized by the passions
aroused by privileged objects. Benjamin's books were not only for
use, professional tools; they were contemplative objects, stimuli
for reverie. His library evokes "memorie of the cities in which I
found so many things: Riga, Naples, Munich, Danzig, Moscow,
Florence, Basel, Paris, . . . memorie of the rooms where these
books had been housed . . .. " Book-hunting, like the sexual hunt,
adds to the geography of pleasure-another reason for strolling
about in the world. In collecting, Benjamin experienced what in
himself wa clever, successful, shrewd, unabashedly passionate.
"Collectors are people with a tactical instinct" -like courtiers.
Apart from frst editions and baroque emblem books, Benjamin
specialized in children's books and books written by the mad.
"The great works which meant so much to him, " reports Scholem,
"were placed in bizarre patterns next to the most out-of-the-way
writings and oddities. " The odd arrangement of the library is like
the strategy of Benjamin's work, in which a Surrealist-inspired eye
for the treasure of meaning m the ephemeral, discredited, and
neglected worked in tandem with his loyalty to the traditional
canon of learned taste.
He liked finding things where nobody was looking. He drew
from the obscure, disdained German baroque drama element of
the moder (that is to say, his own) sensibility: the taste for alle­
gory, Surrealist shock efects, discontinuous utterance, the sense
of historical catastrophe. "These stones were the bread of my
imagination, " he wrote about Marseilles-the most recalcitrant
of citie to that imagination, even when helped by a dose of
hashish. Many expected references are absent in Benjamin's
work-he didn't like to read what everybody was reading. He
preferre the doctrine of the four temperament as a psychological
theory to Freud. He preferred being a communist, or trying to be
one, without reading Marx. This man who read virtually every­
thing, and had spent ffteen year sympathizing with revolutionary
communism, had barely looked into Mar until the late 1 930s.
(He was reading Capital on his visit to Brecht in Denmark in the
summer of 1 938. )
His sense of strategy was one of his points of identifcation with
Kafka, a kindred would-be tactician, who "took precautions
against the interpretation of his writing". The whole point of the
Kafka stories, Benjamin argues, is that they have Ñ defnite,
symbolic meaning. And he was fascinated by the very diferent,
un-Jewish sense of ruse practised by Brecht, the anti-Kafka of his
imagination. (Predictably, Brecht disliked Benjamin's great essay
on Kafka intensely. ) Brecht, with the little wooden donkey near
his desk from whose neck hung the sign "I, too, must understand
it", represented for Benjamin, an admirer of esoteric religious
texts, the possibly more potent rus of reducing complexity, of
making everything clear. Benjamin's "masochistic" (the word is
Siegfried Kracauer's) relation to Brecht, which most of his friends
deplored, shows the extent to which he was fascinated by this
possibility.
Benjamin's propensity is to g against the usual interpretation.
"All the decisive blows are struck left-handed", a he says in
One- W f Street. Precisely because he saw that "all human knowledge
take the form of interpretation",9 he understoo the importance
of being against interpretation wherever it is obvious. His most
common strategy is to drain symbolism out of some things, like the
Kaf storie o Goethe's Electiv Afnities (texts where everybody
agree it is there) , and pour it into others, where nobody suspects its
existence (such a the German baroque plays, which he reads as
´ Letter to Christian Florens Rang (No. 1 26 in the Suhrkamp Briefe ) , Decembel
9, 1 923.
/
Introduction 19
J
\
allegorie of historical pessimism) . /Each book is a tacti/, he

rote. Ti'a letterto afrien
d
, he claimed for his writings, only çartly
facetiously, forty-nine levels of meaning. For moderns as much
as for cabalists, nothing is straightforward. Everything is-at the
least-difcult. "Ambiguity displace authenticity in all things",
he wrote in One-Way Street. What is most foreign to Benjamin is
anything like ingenuousness: "the 'unclouded', 'innocent' eye
ha become a lie".
Much of the originality of Benjamin's argument owe to m


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��li_ cZ (a.fieudand disciple Theo(or Aco�_ no calle
?
it) , combined with his indefatigable command over theoretical
perspecti ves. "It wa the small thing that a ttracted
h
im

os
t
",
wnt

-
Sch
ol
e
m': He loved old toys, postage stamps, picture post­
cards, and such playful miniaturizations of reality a the winter
world inside a glas glob that snows when it is shaken. His own
handwriting wa almost microscopic, and his never realized
ambition, Scholem reports, wa to get a hundred line on a sheet
of paper. (The ambition wa realized by Robert Walser, who used
to transcrib the manuscript of his storie and novels a micro­
grams, in a truly microscopic script. ) Scholem relate that when
he visited Benjamin in Paris in August I927 (the frst time the two
friends had seen each other since Scholem emigrated to Palestine
in I923) , Benjamin dragged him to Ü exhibit of Jewish ritual
objects at the Musee Cluny to show him "two grains of wheat on
which a kindred soul had inscribed the complete Shema Israel"
_1M
To miniaturize is to make portable-the ideal form of possessing
thing for a wanderer, or a refugee. Benjamin, of course, was both a
¯` Scholem tells the story in "Walter Benjamin". But see Benjamin's letter to
Scholem from Paris (No. 1 56 in the 8nq:,of May 29, 1 926, a long letter toward the
end of which he writes : "I couldn't build a Lilliputian state with this, a it were,
Marxist letter. But let me tell you that in the Jewish section of the Musee Cluny 1
have discovered the Book of Esther written on a page a little more than half the
size of this one. That should perhap speed your visit to Paris."
Scholem argue that Benjamin's love for the miniature underlies his taste for
brief literary utterances, evident in One- Way Street. Perhaps; but books of this sort
were common in the 1 920S, and it was in a specifically Surrealist montage style that
20
wanderer, on the move, and a collector, weighed down by things;
that is, passions. To miniaturize is to conceal. Benjamin was drawn
to the extremely small a he was to whatever had to be deciphered:
emblems, anagrams, handwriting. To miniaturize means to make
useless. For what is s grotesquely reduced is, in a sense, liberated
from its meaning-its tinines being the outstanding thing about
it. It is both a whole (that is, complete) and a fragment (s tiny,
the wrong scale) . It becomes an object of disinterested con­
templation or reverie. Love of the small is a child's emotion, one
colonized by Surrealism. The Paris of the Surrealists is "a little
world", Benjamin observes; so is the photograph, which Surrealist
taste discovered a an enigmatic, even perverse, rather than a
merely intelligible or beautiful, object, and about which Benjamin
wrote wi th such originali ty. The melancholic always feels threatened
by the dominion of the thing-like, but Surrealist taste mocks these
terrors. Surrealism's great gift to sensibility wa to make melan­
choly cheerful.
"The only pleasure the melancholic permits himself, and it is a
powerful one, is allegory", Benjamin wrote in The Origin qGerman
Trauerspiel. Indeed, he asserted, allegory is the way of reading the
world typical of melancholies, and cited Baudelaire: "Everything
for me become Allegory. " The proces which extracts meaning
from the petrifed and insignifcant, allegory, is the characteristic
metho of the German baroque drama and of Baudelaire, Ben­
jamin's major subjects; and, transmuted into philosophical
argument and the micrological analysis of things, the method
Benjamin practised himself.
The melancholic see the world itself become a thing: refuge,
solace, enchantment. Shortly before his death, Benjamin was
these short independent text were presented. One- W' Street wa published by
Ernst Rowohlt in Berlin, in booklet form with typography intended U evoke
advertising shock efects; the cover wa a photographic montage of aggressive
phrase in capital letter from newspaper announcements, ads, ofcial and odd signs.
The opening passage, in which Benjamin hails "prompt language" and denounces
"the pretentious, universal gesture of the book", doe not make much sense unless
one knows what kind of book, physically, One-Way Street was designed to be.
Introduction 2 I
pÌanning ancssayabout miniaturizationasadcvicc offantasy. It
sccmstohavcbccnacontinuationof anoÌdpÌantowritconOocthc's
'Thc Ncw McÌusina" ¸in Wilhelm Meister),l1 which u about a
man who faÌÌs inÌovc withawomanwhoLactuaÌÌyatinypcrson,
tcmporariÌygrantcdnormaÌsizc, andunknowingÌycarriearound
with him a box containing thc miniaturc kingdomofwhich shc u
thc princcss. In Oocthc's taÌc, thc worÌd urcduccdtoacoÌÌcctibÌc
thing, anobjcct, in thcmostÌitcraÌscnsc.
LikcthcboxinOocthc'staÌc,abookisnotonÌyafragmcntofthc
worÌd butitscÌfaÌittÌc worÌd. Thc bookuaminiaturizationofthc
worÌd, which thc rcadcr inhabits. In Berlin Chronicle, Bcnjamin
cvokcshischiÌdhood rapturc. 'You didnotrcad books through,
you dwcÌt, abidcd bctwccn thcir Ìincs. "To rcading, thc dcÌirium
of thc chiÌd, wæ cvcntuaÌÌy addcd writing, thc obscssion ofthc
aduÌt. Thcmostpraiscworthywayofacquiringbooksuby writing
thcm, Bcnjaminrcmarksin'!npackingMy Library'. '
²
And thc
bcstway to undcrstandthcmis aÌsotocntcrthcirspacc. onc ncvcr
rcaÌÌy undcrstands a book unÌcæ onc copie it, hc says in One-Way
Street, as onc ncvcr undcrstandsa Ìandscap from an airpÌanc but
onÌy by waÌking through it.
'Thcamountofmcaningu incxactproportiontothcprcscncc
ofdcath and thc powcrofdccay', Bcnjaminwritcsin thc bookon
thc Trauerspiel. This u what make it possibÌc to hnd mcaning
in onc's own Ìifc, in 'thc dcad occurrcnce ofthc past which arc
cuphcmisticaÌÌy known æ cxpcricncc'. ÒnÌy bccausc thc past is
dcad u onc abÌc to rcad it. ÒnIy bccausc history u fctishizcd in
physicaÌ objccts can onc undcrstand it. ÒnÌy bccausc thc book u
a worÌd can onc cntcr it. Thc book for him was anothcr spacc in
which to stroÌÌ. For thc charactcr bon undcr thc sign ofSaturn,
thc trucimpuÌsc whcnonc u bcingÌookcd at utocast down onc's
cycs, Ìook in a corncr. Bcttcr, onc can Ìowcr onc's hcad to onc's
notcbook. Òr putonc's hcad bchindthcwaÌÌofa book.
11
C
(
Benjamin's letter (No. 326 in the Briie) to Gretel Adorno, written in
Paris on January 1 7, 1 940.
12
In I  uminations, London, 1970, an earlier selection of Benjamin's writings,
edited by Hannah Arendt, which include the essays on Kafa and Proust.
22
It is charactcristic ofthc Saturninc tcmpcramcnt to bÌamc its
undcrtow of inwardncæ on thc wiÌÌ. Convinccd that thc wiÌÌ is
wcak, thc mcIanchoIicmay makc cxtravagantcßorts to dcvcÌopit.
Ifthcs cßorts arc succcssfuÌ, thc rcsuÌting hypcrtrophy ofwiÌÌ
usuaÌIy take thc fonn ofa compuIsivc dcvotion to work. Thus
BaudcIairc, who sußcrcd constantÌyfrom 'accdia, thc maÌady of
monks',cndcdmanyIcttcnandhisIntimat Journal withthcmost
impassioncd pIcdge to work morc, to work unintcrruptcdÌy, to
do nothing but work. ¸Dcspair ovcr 'cvcry dcfcat ofthc wiÌI'÷
BaudcÌairc'sphrascagain-isacharactcristiccompÌaintofmodcrn
artistsand intcÌÌcctuaÌs, particuÌarIyofthoscwhoarc both.) Ònc
iscondcmncdtowork,othcrwisconcmightnotdoanythingataÌÌ.
LvcnthcdrcamincæofthcmcÌanchoÌictcmpcramcntis harncsscd
towork,and thcmcIanchoÌicmaytrytocuÌtivatcphantasmagori-
caÌ statcs, Iikc drcams, or scck thc acccæ to conccntratcd state of
attcntion oßcrcd by drugs. SurrcaÌism simpÌy puts a positivc
acccnt on what BaudcÌairc cxpcricnccd so ncgativcÌy. it doe not
dcpIorcthcguttcringofvoÌitionbutraiseittoÜ idcaÌ, proposing
that drcam state may b rcÌicd on to furnish aÌÌ thc matcriaÌ
nccdcd forwork.
Bcnjamin, aIways working, aIways trying to work morc,
spccuIatcd a goo dcaÌ on thc writcr's daiÌy cxistcncc. One- Wq
Street hæ scvcraÌ scctiom which oßcr rccipcs for work. thc bcst
conditions, timing, utcnsiIs. Part of thc impctu for thc Iargc
corrcspondcncchc conductcdwastochronicIc, rcport on, conhnn
thc cxistcncc ofwork. His instincts æ a coÌIcctorscrvcd him wcIÌ.
LcarningwasafonofcoIÌccting,æinthcquotationsandcxccrpts
from daiÌy rcading which Bcnjamin accumuÌatcd m notcbooks
that hc carricd cvcrywhcrc and from which hc wouÌd rcad aÌoud
to fricnds. Thinking wæ aÌs a fonn of coIÌccting, at Icast in its
prcÌiminary stagcs. Hc conscicntiousÌy Ioggcd stray idcas, dcvc-
Iopcd mini-cssays in Icttcn to fricnds, rcwrotc pIans for futurc
projccts, notcd his drcams ¸ scvcraÌ arc rccountcd ¡n One-Wq
Street); kcpt numbcrcd Iisu of aÌI thc books hc rcad. ¸ SchoIcm
rccaIÌssccing, on h¡ssccondandIastvisitto Bcnjamin inParis,in
i g¸8, a notcbook ofcurrcnt rcading in which Marx's Eighteent
Introduction 23
Brumaire is Ìistcd æ No. i G¡g. )
How doethc mcÌanchoÌic bccomc ahcro ofwiÌÌ ? Through thc
fact that workcan bccomc Ìikc a drug, a compuÌsion. ¸ 'Thinking
whichisancmincntnarcotic`,hcwrotcinthccssayonSurrcaÌism. )
Infact, mcÌanchoÌic makc thc bcst addicts, for thc truc addictivc
cxpcricnccis aÌwaysasoÌitaryonc. Thc hashishscssiomofthc Ìatc
i gzos, supcrviscdby adoctorfricnd,wcrc prudcntstunts, not acts
of scÌf-surrcndcr, matcriaÌ for thc writcr, not cscap from thc
cxactiom ofthc wiÌÌ. ¸ Bcnjamin considcrcd thc book hc wantcd
towritconhashishoncofhismostimportantprojccts. )
Thc nccd to b soÌitary÷aÌongwith bittcrncss ovcr onc's Ìonc-
Ìincss÷ischaractcristicofthc mcÌanchoÌic. To gctworkdonc, onc
must b soÌitary÷or, at Ìcast, not bound to any pcrmancnt rcÌa-
tionship. Bcnjamin'sncgativc fccÌings aboutmarriagc an cÌcarin
thc cssay on Oocthc's Elective Afnities. His hcrocs÷Kicrkcgaard,
BaudcÌairc, Proust, Ka!ka, Kraus÷ncvcr marricd, and SchoÌcm
rcports that Bcnjamin camc to rcgardhis own marriagc ¸ hc was
marricd in i gi ;, cstrangcd from hiswifc aftcr i gci , anddivorccd
in tg¸o) 'æfataItohimscÌ!'. ThcworÌdofnaturc, andofnaturaÌ
rcÌationships, is pcrccivo by thc mcÌanchoÌic tcmpcramcnt as
Ìcss than scductivc. Thc scÌf-portraitinBerlin Childhood and Berlin
Chronicle is ofa whoÌÌy aÌicnatcd son, æ husband and fathcr ¸hc
had a son, bon in i gi 8, who cmigratcd to LngÌand with Bcn-
jamin'scx-wifc in thc mid-i g¸os), hc appcars to havc simpÌy not
known what to do with thcs rcÌationships. For thc mcÌanchoÌic,
thc naturaÌ, inthc form offamiÌy tics, introduce thc faÌscÌy sub-
jcc:ivc, thcscntimcntaÌ , itisadrainon thcwiÌÌ,ononc'sindcpcn-
dcncc, ononc'sfrccdom to conccntratc onwork. ItaÌsprcscntsa
chaÌÌcngc to onc's humanity to which thc mcÌanchoÌic knows, in
advancc, hc wiÌÌ b inadcquatc.
ThcstyÌcofworkofthcmcÌanchoÌicisimmcrsion, totaÌconccn-
tration. Lithcr onc is immcrscd, or attcntion ßoau away. A a
writcr, Bcnjamin was capabÌc of cxtraordinary conccntration.
Hc wasabÌc to rcscarchandwritc The Origin i Germa Trauerspiel
intwoycars, somc ofit, hc boasuinBerlin Chronicle, wæwrittcnin
Ìongcvcnings at a café,sittingcÌostoajazz band. ButaÌthough
2
4
Bcnjamin wrotc proÌiIicaÌÌy÷in somc pcriods turning out work
cvcry wcck for thc Ocrman Ìitcrary papcn and magazincs÷it
provcdimpossibÌcforhimtowritcanormaÌ-sizcd bookagain. Ina
Ìcttcrin tgg_, Bcnjaminspcaksof'thc Saturninc pacc" ofwriting
Paris, Capital o the Nineteenth Centur, which hchad bcgun in i ge¡
and thought couÌd b hnishcd in two ycars. '° His charactcristic
formrcmaincdthccssay. Thc mcÌanchoÌic's intcnsity and cxhaus-
tivcncss of attcntion sct naturaÌ Ìimits to thc Ìcngth at which
Bcnjamin couÌd cxpÌicatc hisidcas. His majorcssays sccm to cnd
justin timc, bcforc thcy scÌf-dcstruct.
His scntcnccs do not sccm to bc gcncratcd in thc usuaÌ way,
thcy do not cntaiÌ. Lach scntcncc is writtcn æ ifit wcrc thc hrst,
or thc Ìast. ¸ 'A writcr must stop and rcstart with cvcry ncw
scntcncc', hcsaysin thc ProÌoguc to The Origin o German Trauer­
spiel.) McntaÌ and historicaÌ proccsse arc rcndcrcd æ conccptuaÌ
tabÌcaux, idcas arc transcribcd in extremi and thc intcÌÌcctuaÌ
pcrspcctive arc vcrtiginous. His styÌc ofthinking and writing,
incorrcctÌy caÌÌcd aphoristic, might bcttcr b caÌÌcd frcczc-framc
baroquc.ThisstyÌcwastorturctocxccutc.Itwasasifcachscntcncc
had to say cvcrything, bcforc thc inward gazc oftotaÌ conccntra-
tion dissoÌvcd thc subjcct bcforc his cycs. Bcnjaminwæ probabÌy
notcxaggcratingwhcn hc toÌd Adorno thatcach idca in his book
on BaudcÌairc and ninctccnth-ccntury Paris 'had to b wrcstcd
awayfrom a rcaÌminwhich madncæ Ìics'. '
¹
Somcthing Ìikc thc drcad of bcing stoppcd prcmaturcIy Ìics
bchind thcsc scntcnce æ saturatcd with idcas æ thc surfacc ofa
baroqucpaintingisjammcdwithmovcmcnt. InaÌcttcrtoAdorno,
¯´ Letter to Werner Kraf (No. 259 in the Briife), written from Paris on May 25,
1 935. At his death in 1 940, Benjamin lef thousands of pages of draf manuscript,
only a small portion of which has been published. Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet
in the Era if High Capitalism (New Left Books, 1 973) contains translations of the
material from Benjamin's Paris project published in German so far.
¯¯ In a letter from Adorno to Benjamin, written from New York on November 10,
1938, translated in Aesthetics and Politics (New Lef Books, 1 977) . Benjamin and
Adorno met in 1 923 (Adorno wa twenty), and in 1935 Benjamin started to receive
a small stipend from Max Horkheimer's Institut fur Sozialforschung, of which
Adorno was a member.
Introduction 25
Bcnjamin dcscribcs his transports whcn hc hrst rcad Aragon's L
Paysan d Paris, thc book that inspircd Paris, Capital i the Nine­
teenth Centur: 'I wouÌd ncvcr rcad morc than two or thrcc pagcs
in bcd of an cvcning bccausc thc pounding of my hcart was so
Ìoud that I had to Ìct thc book faÌÌ from my hands. What a
warning!
, ,
'
³
CardiacfaiÌurc isthc mctaphoricÌimitofBcnjamin's
cxcrtions and passions. ¸ Hc sußcrcd from a hcart aiÌmcnt.) And
cardiacsumcicncy is amctaphorhc oßcnfor thc writcr's achicvc-
mcnt. In thc cssay in prais ofKarÌ Kraus, Bcnjamin writcs . 'If
styIc is thc powcr to movc frccIy in thc Ìcngth and brcadth of
Ìinguistic thinking without faÌÌing into banaÌity, it is attaincd
chicßy bythc cardiacstrcngthofgrcatthoughts, whichdrivcsthc
bÌoo of Ìanguagc through thc capiÌÌarics of syntax into thc
rcmotcst Ìimbs." Thinking, writing arc uÌtimatcÌy a qucstion of
stamina. Thc mcÌanchoIic, who fccÌs hc Ìacks wiÌÌ, may fccÌ that
hcnccdsaÌÌthcdcstructivccncrgicshccanmustcr.
'Truth rcsists bcing projcctcd into thc rcaÌm ofknowÌcdgc',
Bcnjamin write in The Origi i German Trauerspiel. His dcnsc
prosc rcgistcn that rcsistancc, and Ìcave no spacc for attacking
thosc who distributc Ìics. Bcnjamin considcrcd poÌcmic bcncath
thc dignityofa truIyphiÌosophicaI styÌc, and soughtinstcad what
hc caÌIcd 'thc fuÌÌncæ ofconccntratcd positivity'÷thc cssay on
Oocthc's Elective Af nities, with its dcvastating rcfutation of thc
critic and Oocthc biographcr Fricdrich OundoÌ!, bcing thc onc
cxccptionto this ruÌc amonghis majorwritings. Buthis awarcncss
of :hc cthicaI utiÌi¡y of poÌcmic madc him apprcciatc that onc-
man Vicnncs pubÌic institution, KarÌ Kraus, a writcr whosc
faciÌity,stridcncy, Ìovcofthc aphoristic, andindcfatigabÌcpoÌcmic
cncrgicsmakc him b unÌikc Bcnjamin. '
º
Thc cssay on KrausisBcnjamin'smost passionatc and pcrvcrsc
dcfcncc ofthc Iifc ofthc mind. 'Thc pcrhdious rcproach ofbcing
³¯ Letter to Adorno (No. 26 in the Briife), written from Paris on May 3 1 , 1935.
10
Benjamin had his Krausian side in reviews. See his "Left-Wing Melancholy",
written the same year (1 93 1 ) B the Kraus essay, a withering pan of a volume of
poems by Erich Kastner, which pillories-through Kastner-shallow, philistine
melancholy. Translated in Screen, Vol. 1 5, No. 2, Summer 1 97+
'to inteIÌigent' haunted him throughout his Iife', Adorno has
written.'' Benjamin defended himseÌf against this phiÌistine
defamation by braveÌy raising the standard ofthe 'inhumanity"
oftheinteÌÌect,whenitisproperIy÷thatis, ethicaIIy÷empIoyed.
'The Iife of Ìetten is existence under the aegis of mere mind as
prostitution is existence under the aegis of mere sexuaIity', he
wrote.Thisis to ceÌebrate bothprostitution ¸æKrausdid,because
meresexuaÌitywæ sexuaÌityinapurestate) and the ÌifeofÌetters,
æBenjamindid,usingtheunÌikeIyhgureofKraus,becauseof'the
genuine anddemonicfunctionofmeremind, toba disturberof
the peace. " The ethicaÌ task of the modem writer is to b not a
creator but a destroyer÷a destroyer of shaÌÌow inwardness, the
consoÌing notionofthe universaÌIy human, diIettantish creativity,
and emptyphrases.
The writerasscourge anddestroyer, portrayed in thehgureof
Kraus, he sketched with concision and even greater boIdnes in
theaÌÌegoricaI 'TheDestructive Character', aÌsowrittenin tggt .
Thedateissuggestive. SchoÌemhaswrittenthatthehrstofseveraI
times Benjamin contempÌated suicidewæ in the summeroftgg!.
¸The second time wæ the foÌIowing summer, when he wrote
'AgesiÌaus Santander'. ) The ApoÌÌonian scourge whom Benja-
mincaÌÌs thedestructive character'isaIwaysbIitheÌyatwork,...
hæfew needs, . ..hænointerestinbeingunderstood, . . . isyoung
and cheerfu� . . .and feeIs not that Ìife is worth Iiving but that
suicide is notworth the troubIe. ' It is a kind ofconjuration, an
attempt by Benjamin to draw the destructive eIements of his
Saturninecharacteroutward÷sthattheyarenotseIf-destructive.
Benjamin is not referringjust to his own destructiveness.He
thoughtthattherewæapecuIiarIy modem temptationt suicide.
In 'The Paris ofthe Second Empire in BaudeIaire', he wrote,
'Theresistancewhichmodernityoßen to the naturaÌ productive
éÌan ofa person is out ofproportion to his strength.It is under-
standabIe u a person grows tired and take refuge in death.
` In Adorno's essay "A Portrait of Walter Benjamin", in Prisms, NLB, forth­
coming '979.
Introduction 27
Modernity must b under the sign ofsuicide, an act which seaÌs
a heroic wiÌÌ. . . . Itisthe achievementofmodernityin thereaÌmof
passions . . . `. Suicideis understooæaresponseoftheheroicwiÌÌ
to the defeatofthe wiÌÌ. The onÌywayto avoidsuicide, Benjamin
suggests, is tob beyond heroism, beyond eßoru ofthewiÌÌ. The
destructive character cannot feeÌ trapped, because 'he see ways
everywhere`.CheerfuÌÌyengagedinreducingwhatexiststorubbÌe,
he 'positions himseÌfat thecrossroads`.
Benj amin's portraitofthe destructive character wouÌd evoke a
kind of Siegfried of the mind÷a high-spirited, chiÌdÌike brute
underthe protection ofthe gods÷had this apocaÌyptic pessimism
not been quaÌihed by the irony aÌways within the range of the
Saturnine temperament. Irony is the positive name which the
meÌanchoÌicgivesto his soÌitude, hisasociaÌ choices. In One- Way
Street BenjaminhaiÌedtheironythataÌÌowsindividuaÌstoassertthe
right to Ìead Ìive independent of the community æ 'the most
European of aÌÌ accompÌishments`, and observed that it had
compÌeteÌy deserted Oermany. Benjamin's taste for the ironic
and theseÌf-awareputhimoßmostofrecent Oerman cuÌture . he
detested Wagner, despised Heidegger, and scorned the frenetic
vanguardmovementsofWeimarOermanysuchasExpressionism.
PassionateÌy,butaÌsironicaÌÌy,BenjaminpÌaced himseÌfatthe
crossroads. Itwæimportantfor himtokeephismany'
J
ositions`
open: the theoÌogicaÌ, the SurreaÌist¡aesthetic, the communist.
Òne position corrects another. he nceded them aÌÌ. Decisions, of
course, tended to spoiÌ the baÌance ofthese positions, vaciÌÌation
kept everything in pÌace. The reason he gave for his
¿
eÌay in
Ìeav¡ng France, when he ÌastsawAdorno in earÌy tgg8, wasthat
'therearestiÌÌpositionsheretodefend`.
Benj aminthoughtthe freeÌanceinteÌÌectuaÌwæadyingspecies
anyway, made no Ìeæ obsoÌete by capitaÌist society than by
revoÌutionary communism, indeed he feÌt that he wæ Ìivingina
time in which everything vaÌuabÌe wæ the Ìast of iu kind. He
thoughtSurreaÌismwætheÌastinteÌÌigentmomentoftheEuropean
inteÌÌigentsia,anappropriateÌydestructive,nihiÌistickindofinteÌÌi-
gence. In his essay on Kraus, Benjamin asks rhetoricaÌÌy: Does
Krausstand'atthethreshoÌdofanew age?AÌas,by no means. He
stands at the Lastjudgment.' Benjamin is thinking of himseÌf
Atthe Last judgment, the Last InteÌÌectuaÌ÷thatSaturninehero
ofmodem cuÌture, with his ruins, his dehantvisions, his reveries,
his unquenchabÌegÌoom, his downcast eyes÷wi!Ì expÌain that he
tookmany'positions"anddefendedtheÌifeofthemindtotheend,
Ü righteousÌyandinhumanÌyÜ he couÌd.
© Susan Sonta 1979
ÏuOI¡shc¡´s `O!c
Jhe backgroundandorganizationofthemateriaÌs incÌudedin this
voÌume need a few words of expÌanation. At its head stands
Benj amin'swork One- Wf Street ¸ I), theone other compÌete book
after The Origi q German Tragi Dram that he succeeded in
pubIishing in his Ìife-time, and the work that marks the main
watershed in his inteÌÌectuaÌ and poÌiticaÌ deveÌopment. There
foÌÌow hve group of shorter texts corresponding to successive
phaseinhiswritingbeforeandaIterthisturning-point.Theseobey
a chronoÌogicaÌ order, with some minor variations. They start
witha seÌectionofBenjamin'smetaphysicaÌ writings, ÌargeÌyfrom
the earÌyyean:g:Gto:gc: ¸ II) , proceedtoaserieof townscapes
written between :gc¡ and :gc8 ¸ III) , present a trio of major
aesthetic essays of the Ìater Weimar period, dating from igcg to
:g¸1 ¸ IV) , thenmoveto the autobiographicaÌwritingof:g¸c that
washiscÌosingprojectbeforethevictoryofNazism ¸V) ,andhnaÌÌy
concÌude with a representative theoreticaÌ study from the time of
hisexiÌeinFrance, composedin:g¸; ¸VI) . Somebriefremarksmay
serve to cÌari[ this sequence.
Benjamin'searÌyphiÌosophicaÌformationwasintheneo-Kantian
ideaÌism that dominated the Oerman universities in the years
before the First WorÌd War, aÌthough his own admiration for
Kant wæ tempered by his attraction towards the romantic
aesthetic theorie of SchÌegeÌ and NovaÌis, constructed in part
against the Ìegacy of Kant. His deepest convictions at this date,
30
however, seem to have been reÌigious ÷ in theoÌogicaÌ amnity
cÌosest to jewish mysticism, and in specuÌative focus trained
primariÌy on Ìanguage. PoÌiticaÌÌy, he had broken with the eÌitist
and nationaÌistJugendbewegung, ofwhich he had been Ü active
member æ a student, when its Ìeaden raÌÌied to the imperiaÌist
wareßortini giq.Duringthewar,theÌastpartofwhichhespentin
neutraÌ SwitzerÌand, he shared the radicaÌ anarchist sympathies
ofhisfriendOerhardSchoÌem. ThegroupofearÌytexubeÌow (II)
rehectsthisyouthfuÌoutÌook. Benjaminwæ eqwhenhe wrotethe
hrst.HighÌygnomicandabstract,theywerenotæentireÌyisoÌated
or id¡osyncratic æ they might appear to a contemporary reader.
The great metaphysicaÌ interest in Ìanguage envinced in On
Language Ü Such and the Language i Ma andFate and Characte hada
counterpart in the contemporary work of the young Heidegger,
whose quest for origins took by contrast a medievaÌ rather than
bibÌicaÌ direction. The messianic conception ofsociaÌ revoÌution
as the descent ofan eschatoÌogicaÌ saÌvation, marked in Critique
i Violence and the Theologico-Political Fragment, was Ìikewise not
conhned t Benjamin. His eÌden Lrnst BÌoch and Oeoq Lukács
had independentÌy deveÌoped a very simiÌar mystico-poÌit
¡
caI
radicaÌism in the yean before the First WorÌd War. Lukác had
beenattractedby ChristianandHassidicdoctrineofredemption
¸ theÌatterundertheinßuence ofBuber), and evenHindunotions
ofcaste.
i
BÌoch's hrst major work, De Geist de Utopie, pubÌished
in i gi 8, wæ Ü exaÌtedcaÌIfora new terrestriaÌorder anda new
church to Ìink it to the supernaturaÌ order above, which saw the
BoÌshevikRevoÌutionastheworkof'praetoriansenthroningChrist
æLmperor"inRussia.
²
BenjaminmetBÌochduringtheircommon
refuge in SwitzerÌand, forming a cÌose friendship with him. Fate
and Characte was pubÌished in BÌoch's expressionist review Die
Argonauten, as was Benjamin's hrst signihcant Ìiterary essay, on
¯ See Michael Uwy, Georg Lukacs-From Iealism Þ Bolshevism, London NLB,
forthcoming 1 979, Chapter II. Lukacs's essay of 1 91 2, Von de Armut 0 Geist,
mingling appeals to Meister Eckhardt, Brahminism and Dostoevsky, i a particu­
larly clear expression of this outlook.
¯ De Geist de Utopie, Frankfurt 1 971 re-edition, pp. 298-299.
Publisher's Note 31
Dostoevsky's The Idiot ¸a centraÌ book for th¡s generation) , the
Theologico-Political Fragment expressÌyinvokesDer Geist der Utopie.
Inthepost-warepoch, aÌÌ threemendiscovered Marxism. Lukács
abandoned the universe ofreÌigion aÌtogether, becominga major
theorist and miÌitant in the ranks ofthe Third InternationaÌ.
BÌochfusedreÌigiousandpoÌiticaÌ themeintoasingÌemiÌÌenarian
cosmoÌogy. Benjamin's encounter with Marxism occurred Ìater,
and its resuÌu were more cryptic. His deveÌopment reveaÌs an
unmistakabÌe evoÌution towards a more coherent materiaÌism.
ButtherewasnoinwardrupturewithhisearÌiermysticism,M that
he couÌdwriteshorttextsinthe:g¸odirectÌycontinuousinidiom
and preoccupation with those ofa decade before. The Destructive
Characte and On the Mimetic Faculty, incÌudedinthis coÌÌection, are
cases in point÷ pendants respectiveÌy to Fat and Characte and On
Language Ü Such and the Language i Man;
3
whiÌe the unpubÌished
Theologico-Political Fragment of :gcoc: so cÌearÌy adumbrates
theme in These on the Philosoph i Histor of i g¡o that Adorno
couÌd Ìong beÌieve it to have been composed as Ìate as :g¸8. Òn
the other hand, with very few exceptions ÷ the essay on KarÌ
Kraus and the Theses ÷ Benjamin did not attempt anysyncretism
ofthe two source ofhis beÌieß either. His thought retained what
SchoÌem has aptÌy caÌÌed a 'two-track" cast.
¹
CharacteristicaÌÌy,
mysticaÌ and materiaÌist motiE were distiÌÌed into separate
writings, whose precis inter-reÌationship remained enigmatic,
often exasperatingÌy so, to his secuÌar and reÌigious admirers
aÌikc. ThebaÌance,however,wætoshi6quaÌitativeÌybetweenthe
twointhetrajectoryofh¡s work.
Aftcr theWar, Benjamin'shrstmajorpubÌicationwasaÌongessay
onOoethe'sElective Afnities, composedin i gcc.ArcaneinstyÌeand
´ Scholem testifie that in discussions of On the Mimetic Faculr in 1 938, Benjamin
spoke unmetaphorically of the "Word of God" B the foundation of any theory of
language. See Gerhard Scholem, Walter Benjamin-Die Geschichte einer Freundschaji,
Frankfurt 1 975, p. 260.
¯ "Zweigleisigkeit": see Geschichte tiner Freundschaft, p. 1 56.
32
metaphysicaÌ M register, it htted no conventionaÌ category of
Ìiterary criticism, contemporaneous or subsequent. The Austrian
poet and pÌaywright Hugo Von HofmannsthaÌ warmÌy approved
the essay and pubÌished it in his recentÌy founded review Neue
Deutsche Beitrige in i gc¡÷c¸. HofmannsthaÌ's cuÌturaÌ authority
mighthaveseemedtoensureBenjamin'snationaÌdebutinOerman
inteÌÌectuaÌ Ìife, this was, at Ìeast, probabÌy Benjamin's own
expectation. In fact, however, the Neue Deutsche Beitrige proved
to b a hasco as ajournaÌ . the mixture ofconservative nostaÌgia
and reÌigious restorationism that dominated its pages consigned
itto avirtuaÌÌyprivatebackwaterin Weimar cuÌture.
³
ItscircuÌa-
tion was M smaÌÌ that Benjamin's essay found no resonance in
Oerman Ìetten at the time. His hrst attempt to estabÌish himseÌf
asacriticdrew, ineßect,abÌank. Hissecondwasmoreambitious.
From March i gc¸ to ApriÌ i gc¸ he worked on a post-doctoraÌ
thesisforthe !niversityofFrankfurton Oerman baroque drama.
Ifaccepted, thiswouÌdaßord him a secure academic career. The
hnaÌworkwas,however,tocompÌexandesotericfortheprofessors
to whom it was submitted. Forewarned of rejection, Benjamin
withdrew the text. LventuaÌÌy pubÌished in i gc8 as The Origin i
German Tragic Drama, its uÌtimate fame was to be entireÌy post-
humous. At the timeofits appearance, itwasgreetedwith siÌence
and incomprehension in Oermany. The duaÌ faiÌure ofhis work
on Ooethe and the Baroque to win even an initiated pubÌic was
toboneofthemainprecipitanuoftheabruptchangeofdirection
inBenjamin'sworkafter i gc¸.
There were two others. In the cÌosing stages ofhis work on the
Oerman Trauerspiel, BenjaminhadstayedforsomemonthsinCapri
inÌate igc¡, inthecompanyofBÌoch. TherehemetandfeÌÌinÌove
with Asja Lacis, 'a Russian revoÌutionary from Riga, one ofthe
most remarkabÌe women I have ever met`.
º
He now determined
` See Bernd Witte, Walte Benjamin-Der Intellektuelle als Kritiker, Stuttgart 1 976,
pp. 1 00-105. Witte's excellent study is indispensable for an understanding of
Benjamin's early development.
¯ Letter of 7. 7. 1 924: Briee, Frankfurt 1 966, p. ¡¸ t .
Publisher's Note 33
tostudyLukács'sHistor and Class Consciousness, ofwhichBÌochhad
just written a review, and the poÌiticaÌ practice ofcontemporary
communism. The beginning of his movement towards Marxism
thus coincided with the compÌetionofThe Origin of German Tragic
Drama. In the autumn of i gc¸, after the faiÌure of his thesis at
Irankfurt, he visited Asja Lacis in Riga. He was now, SchoÌem
reports, activeÌy considering whether tojoin the KPD L not.'
ThissharppoÌiticaÌturn,meanwhiÌe,wæaccompanied÷perhaps
in part prompted÷byatransformationinhis economicsituation.
Benj amin had hitherm been hnanciaÌÌysupported by hisfather, a
weÌÌ-oßart deaÌer in BerÌin, with attendant tensions between the
two. The onsetofthe great inhation ofi gc¸ struck at his father's
fortune, Ìeading him to suggest that Benjamin take up empÌoy-
mentina bank. The projectoftheHabilitationsschrit had thusaÌso
beenanattempttoescapfamiÌiaÌdependencethroughauniversity
appointment. In the aftermath of its failure, Benjamin had to
Ìook for aÌternative ways of earning his Ìiving. The soÌution he
adoptedwas to bjournaÌism. Irom i gcG onwards, the character
ofhis output underwenta drasticoutward aÌteration÷in aword,
from hermeticism to pubÌicism. He became a proÌihc book-
reviewer, traveÌ-reporter and radio-scriptwriter, forsaking his
more esoteric diction for an oIten disconcertingÌy concrete Ìan-
guage, metaphysicaÌ for more topicaÌ terrains.
One- W q Street, forthemostpartwrittenbetweenAugust i gc¸ and
September i gcG, represenu the staccato announcement ofthese
changes. Iu hrst Ìines ¸ 'IiÌÌing Station') procÌaim the end of
'the pretentiousuniversaÌgestureofthe book', in favourofforms
aÌternating between action and writing, 'Ìeahets, brochures,
articÌes and pÌacards'. LÌsewhere ¸ 'Attested Auditor ofBooks')
it decÌares . 'Printing, havingfoundin the bookarefuge in which
toÌead anautonomousexistence, ispitiÌessÌy draggedoutontothe
streetby advertisements andsubjectedtothe brutaÌ heteronomies
ofeconomic chaos. This is the hard schooÌing of its new form. '
Scholem, Geschichte einer Freundschaft, p. 1 56.
34
Composed of a mosaic of aphoristic paragraphs, captioned by
pÌacards of urban scenery, One- W f Street is deÌiberateÌy at the
antipodesofthetreatiseform ofThe Origi oGerman Tragi Drama.
Its debts to surreaÌism ¸intercaÌation of dreams) and to photo-
montageareobvious . pointento the profound transformationin
Be�amin's conception of contemporary art that was eventuaÌÌy
to hnd formuÌation in the subversive functionaÌism of his essays
of the thirties. SimuÌtaneousÌy, One- W f Street set out the pro-
gramme of what wæ to b his criticaÌ practice in the Weimar
press .'ThecriticisthestrategistofÌiterarystruggÌe'.ThepoÌiticaÌ
overtoneofthe phrase÷whatSchoÌemnotedæthe'background
thunder of Marxist vocabuÌary" in the passage Benjamin read
to him before pubÌication°÷were not fortuitous. The originaÌ
kerneÌ ofthe work was, in ûct, the section subtitÌed 'A Tour of
Oerman Inhation'. Iirst sketched in i geg, it condensed Benja-
min's reactions to the economic misery of the time, and the
degradationofsociaÌandpersonaÌexperiencethataccompaniedit.
The materiaÌ crisis ofthe OermaninteÌÌigentsia evoked here was
to b one of the most constant theme of his journaÌistic inter-
ventions, recurring again and again in his book reviews of the
Ìatertwenties. ThepoÌiticaÌconcÌusions he drewfrom itwerenow
intransigentÌy radicaÌ. Where he had written with contempÌative
resignationin the earÌydra6ofi geg. 'But no-onemayevermake
peace with poverty when it faÌ|s Ìike a gigantic shadow upon his
countrymenandhishouse. ThenhemustbaÌerttoeveryhumiÌia-
tiondonetohimands discipÌinehimseÌfthathissuñeringbecomes
noÌongerthedownhiÌÌroadofhate , buttherisingpathofprayer', "
henow reversed the terms ofthe same passage, toread: "s dis-
cipÌine himseÌfthat his suñering no Ìonger become the downhiÌÌ
roadofgrie¦ buttherisingpathofrevoÌt'. The chang canstand
as themottoofhispoÌiticaÌradicaÌization.
" Geschicht eine Freundchaft, p. 1 68.
´ The frst draf i contained in the matchless scholarly apparatus provided by
the contemporary editor of Benjamin'S Collected Works : see Gesammelt Schriften,
IV, B. a, p. 931 .
Publisher's Note 35
The pivotal position of One- WI Street within Ben¡amin's work,
however, is not due on|y to ic compact register ofthe sudden
mutation in his critica|, aesthetic and po|itica| options in the
mid-twenties. It above al| |ie in the fact that in the same swilí
movementwitbwbichB�n¸aminpassedfromthebanksoftradition
to those of the avant-garde, he a|so discovered the heuristic
metho that wa to b pecu|iar|y his thereafter'the attempt to
estab|ish', a he was |ater to write, 'theimage ofhistory even in
its �ost incon�p¡cuous hxture of existence, its re¡ects'.1 0 The
ka|eidoscop ofurban ob¡ects, warnings, bui|dings, amusements,
signswadesignedtothrowsudden|ightonthemodenepoch.To
Hofmannstha|, he wrote. 'Precise|y in its eccentric e|ements the
book is, ifnot a trophy, a document ofan inner strugg|e whose
ob¡ ect can b resumed thus . tograsp the actua| a theobverseof
the eterna| in history and to takeanimprintofthis hiddensideof
the meda|.''' His next words usher in the pro¡ect that was to
preoccupyhimfortheremainderofhis |ife . 'Forthe rest the book
owc much to Paris, and represencmy hrst attempt at confronta-
tion with it. I continue it in a second work, entit|ed ' Parisian
Arcades' ' '. One- WI Street, in other words, direct|y inaugurates
the second great phase ofBeujamin's ma¡or wotkhis pro|onged
study of Baude|aire's Paris. He wa |ucid|y conscious of this
turning-pointatthetime, ana|ysing his deve|opmentin aletterto
�chokm: 'LnoI have,µ�shed . . . the workwith whiu I amat
present circumspect|y, provisiona||y occupied÷the high|y re-
markab|e and extreme|y precarious essay ' lari�iJ Arcas : a
Dialectical Fairyland-t�� wiü c|ox for me a productive cyc|e÷
th�( o{ Q¿_jç�ratherin thesense thatthe Tragedy book
c|osed my germanistic cy�|e. Inittheworld|y themeofOne- Way
SeviIl �a��h past in Ü inferna| intensihcation'. The
prediction watoho|dgood. }Je microcosmic misce||any ofthe
quotidian wou|d continue to provide the sparks for the |arger
¯´ Letter of 9.8. 1935 : Briee, pp. 684-685. See also hi letter of 1 5. 3. 1929: Briee,

491 .
¯ ` Letter of 8. 2. 1 928: Briee, p. 459.
¯¯ Letter of 30. 1 . 1 928: Briee, p. 455.
histor�ca| i||uminations of Ben¡amin's work, of which One- WI
Street endswith one ofthe most memorab|e . perhaps thehrst and
certain|y the hnest÷because most temperate and rationa|
expressionofthatre¡ectionofthenotionofthemasteryofnatureby
techno|ogythatwaafterwardstobecomeaha||markofFrankfurt
Marxism.
Townscapes were to b a recurring motifin Ben¡amin's wntmg
henceforward. The group pub|ished in this vo|ume ¸ III) starts
with a description of Nap|e written in co||aboration with As¡a
Laciswhi|ethetwowereonCapritogetherin|ate i gc¡.Itwasnot
pub|ished until August i gc¸, when its appearance as his hrst
contribution to the Franlurte Zeitun marked the rea| inception
ofhis¡ourna|istic practice. The essayon Moscow|ikewise owes its
origin to Ben¡amin's re|ationship with Lacis, whom he visited in
the Soviet capita| from December i gcG to February i gc;. First
excerpted in L' Humaniti, it is of particu|ar interest as a vivid
reportofBen¡amin'spersona|reactionstowhathesawoftheUSSR
inthehna| monthsofSta|in'sdrive to e|iminate theLeû Opposi-
tion, whose|eadershadbeendeprivedoftheirposum the partya
few weeks before he arrived. ' ` (His unpub|ished diary of this
period, soon toappearin the Gesammelt Schrijten, may throw new
|ight on his precise po|itica| attitude towards the conßicts in the
internationa|communistmovementofthetime. Scho|emrecounts
that it wa during this stay in Moscow that Ben¡amin hna||y
decidedagainst¡oining the KPD. ) 14 Thetwotextson Marsei||es,
written in |ate i gc8, are ofa very diñerent character, reßecting
Ben¡amin's amnity to Surrea|ism and experimentation with
induced ha||ucinations.
¯´ It may b signifcant that Benjamin later displayed frequent admiration for
the work of Trotsky, well after the ofcial denunciations of the latter, both in his
articles and lectures (see, for example, "Surrealism" below, p. 238, and "The
Author B Producer" in Understanding Brecht, NLB 1 977) , and in his private corres­
pondence, expressing particular enthusiasm for My Life and the Histor of the
Russian Revolution: see Geschicht tine Freundschaft, p. 229. Earlier, he had been very
struck by Where Is Britain Going?: ibid., p. 1 61 .
¯¯ Geschichte eine Freundschrift, p. 1 6 I .
Publisher's Note 37
Theaestheticessays ¸ IV)whichfo||owa||datefromthehna|years
of the Weimar Repub|ic. By this time Ben¡amin wa an exper-
ienced, a|though never exact|y estab|ished, contributor to the
Frankfurte Zeitung, the |ibera| dai|y with the most respected
feui||etonsectioninGermany,andtheLiterarische Welt, thecu|tura|
week|ycreatedbyRowoh|tVer|ag,thehouse whichhadpub|ished
The Origin o German Tragi Dram and One- W t Street. 1 5 His
artic|e in the |atter cou|d b somewhat more candid po|itica||y
than in the former, a paper u|timate|y contro||ed by heavy
industry. A Adorno wa to note in his obituary ofBen¡amin, it
wa forhis critica| artic|e as apub|icistin these two organs, each
ofwhich en¡oyedawide circu|ation, thatBen¡aminwaknownin
Germany during his |ife-time. ' º The essay on Surrea|ism, in its
de|icate b|end ofsympathy and severity, represents Ben¡amin's
ma¡or reßection on the re|ationship between theaesthetic avant-
garde in Westen Lurop and revo|utionary po|itics. The text on
Photography, whose innovationshad been eager|y seizeduponby
the Surrea|ists, wa one of the hrst serious treatments ofit as a
medium outside the professiona| mi|ieu itse|f Its concerns |ook
direct|y forward to Ben¡amin's great study of The Work o Art in
the Age o Mechanical Reproduction of i g¸G. The essay on Kraus is
distinctinformandintentionfromeitherofthesetwo.Dedicatedto
Gustav G|ück, the friend who was the rea|-|ife mode| for The
Destructive Character
,
it wa designed to show Kraus as a negative
heroofdestruction, 'the|astbourgeois',throughwhosetormented
hgurethepositiveforcesofhistorycou|dsweep.Longpremeditated
and high|y wrought, it is Ben¡amin's one sustained attempt to
foundmystica|andmateria|istthemeintoasing|eform.
Cha||enged by Ma Rychner, the editor ofthe Neue Schweizer
Rundschau, as to where he stood in the irreconci|ab|e conßict
between mere materia|ist 'co||ectivism" and the 'primordia|ity
¯ ¯ For a discussion of Benjamin's relationship to these papers, see Witte, pp.
1 41 -1 44.
¯¯ Theodor Adorno, "Zu Benjamins Gedachtnis" ( 1 940), in Vbe Walte
Benjamin, Frankfurt 1 970, p. g.
of re|igion and metaphysics', Ben¡amin rep|ied in a |ong |etter
ofi ggi that,seenin retrospect, The Origi o German Tragi Drama
,
'a|thoughdia|ectica|, wascertain|ynotmateria|ist. ButwhatIdid
not know at the time I wa writing it, soon alterwards became
everc|earertome:thatbetweenmyveryspecialpointofviewaa
phi|osopherof|anguageandtheout|ookofdia|ecticalmateria|ism
thereexistsamediation,howevertenseandprob|ematic.Withthe
saturation ofbourgeois science, on the other hand, there exists
nonewhatever.
, ,
' ' Dec|aringthathefe|tmoreincommonwiththe
'crudeandrudimentaryana|yseofFranz Mehringthanwiththe
most profound periphrase from the ambitofthe ideas produced
bytheschoo|ofHeidegger today', hedescribedhis own position
with an unwonted |ack ofob|iquity: 'I have never been ab|e to
study or think otherwise than in a way that I wou|d dehne as
theo|ogica|÷that is, in accord with the Ta|mudic doctrine ofthe
forty-nine |eve|s ofmeaningin any every paragraph oftheTorah.
We|| . experiencehataughtmethatthesha||owestofcommunist
p|atitude contains more of a hierarchy of meaning than con-
temporary bourgeois profundity, which is a|ways no more than
apo|ogetic+ + o I can te|| you at the same time thatyouwil|hnda
moregrounded rep|ytoyour question than thatwhich I cangive
you expressi verbis
,
between the |ine ofmy essay on Kar| Kraus
which wi|| short|y appear in the Frankfurte Zeitung. ,
,
1
8
Sc�o|em,
receivingfrom Ben¡amin acopyofthis |etter, wrote back trench-
ant|y that for a|l his admiration of the essay on Kraus he fe|t
ob|igedtosaythatBen¡aminwasdeceiving himse|fifhe thought
that a sympathetic reader 'cou|d hnd any¡ustihcation of your
sympathie for dia|ectica| materia|ism ' between the |ines' ofthis
¯ Letter of 7. 3. 1 93 1 : Briife, p. 523. The direction which a more materialist
version of The Origin qGerma Tragic Drama might have taken can b surmised from
Benjamin's declaration in his review of a history of Silesian literature: "We need
a book that represents baroque tragedy in close connection with the formation of
bureaucracy, dramatic unity of time and action with the dark ofce of Absolutism,
wanton love poetry with the inquisitions into pregnancy of the emergent police
state, operatic apotheose with the juridical structure of sovereignty" (Gesammelte
Schriften, III, p. ( 93) .
¯ ¯ Letter of 7. 3. 1 93 1 : Briife, p. 523.
Publisher's Note 39
essay'. '" Repr���hingBen¡amin for the 'fantastic discrepancy"
betweenatermino|ogy'possib|yc|osetocommunist vocabu|ary"
and metaphysica| conclusiom 'abso|utely independent of any
materialist method', he criticizedhis friend's recentproductions
for the impression they gave of 'adventurism, ambiguity and
acrobatics'. In rep|ying, Ben¡amin defended his politica| choice
'to hang the red ßag out of my window','º but wa in eñect
unable to demonstrate that his essay on Kraus had actua||y
achieved the synthesis he claimed. A |iterary tour d force
,
its
inte||ectua| purpose wa |ost even on those readen to whom it
wa most addressed. Kraus himse|f took characteristic umbrage
at it, denouncing it for 'absyma| feui|letonism" and dec|aring
that although 'surely wel|-intentioned', the 'author seems to
know much about me that wa hitherto unknown to myse|(
a|thoughI evennowdonotyetclear|yapprehendit andcanonly
expreæ the hop that other readers have understoo it better
¸perhapitispsychoanalysis) .
,
·
'' Ben¡aminkeptadignihedsi|ence
at thisattack. Threeyeanlater,whenKrausra||iedtothec|erica|
fascism ofDol|fuss, he noted 'the capitu|ation to Austro-fascism,
theembe||ishmentofthewhiteterroragainsttheVienneseworkers,
the admiration for the rhetoric ofStarhemberg" in Di Fackel,''
andasked.'Isthereanyonefurtherwhocanfa||?Abitterconso|a-
tion÷butonthisfrontwecansuñernomore|osseworthmention-
ing besidethisone. Thedemonhaprovedstrongerthantheman
orthemonster .hecou|dnotbsi|entandsobetrayinghimse|f
ha accomp|ished the ruin ofthedemon'.'`
Thehna|years ofthe Weimarperiowere oneofacute personal
crisis for Ben¡amin, who was divorced from his wife Dora Pol|ak
¯´ Ibid., p. 524.
^
´ Letter of 30. 3. 1 931 : BrieJe, p. 526.
^
¯ Letter of 1 7+1 93 1 : Briife, p. 532.
^^
For this episode, see the judicious editorial account in Gesammelt Schriften, II,
Bd. 3, pp. 1 °78-1 1 3°. Kraus' comments were published in Di Fackel in May [93 1 .
¯ ´ Letter of 27.9. [934: BrieJe, p. 620. "Demon", "man" and "monster" refer to
the categories of his essay on Kraus.
in i ggo, short|y alter As¡a Lacis returned permanent|y to Russia.
In Apri| i gge he sai|ed to Ibiza, where he spent the next three
monthsin iso|ation. Approaching theageofqo, he nowset down
theprivate autobiographica| memoir (V) thatwaspub|ished|ong
alterhisdeathunder the title Berlin Chronicle. In ju|y, he moved to
Nice, where he wrote his wi|| and decided to take his |ife. This
crisis sudden|y past, he spent the rest of the summer in Ita|y.
Therehecompletedaentire|yreworkedversionofhisreco||ections
for pub|ication a a bookto be entitled A Berlin Childhood Around
1900. The Nazi seizure of power a few months |ater gave the
quietus tothispro¡ect. The|atertextuti|izeson|y about two-hfths
ofthe materia|sin the ear|ier, and these in radica||y a|teredform.
TheBerlin Chronicle is througho

t far moredirectly persona| than
the Berlin Childhood
,
where Be�amin's experience is transmuted
intoaseries ofmore ob¡ective notationsofhisnativecity. It isa|so
much more sharp|y po|itica|, pervaded by Ben¡amin's socia|ist
convictions. These virtual|y disappear in the 'mi|der and more
conci|iatory lighting
, ,
'° ofthe version intended for pub|ication.
The Chronicle is themostintimatedocumentofBen¡amin's yet to
b pub|ished.
Lxi|e after i ggg cutshort Ben¡amin's¡ourna|ism. His pub|icistic
perio was now eñective|y over. The main outlet for his writing
wahenceforwardtheZeitschriJir Sozialorschung, producedbythe
Institute for Socia| Research directed by Max Horkheimer. After
the Nazi victory in Germany, the Institute had moved, hrst to
Geneva, and then to New York. Its review was-unlike any to
whichBen¡aminhadhithertoregu|ar|ycontributedanacademic
¡ourna| , but at the same time it was a|m one with a coherent
po|itica| comp|exionessentia||y, if informa||y, Marxist. The
tension between these two dimensions ofthe Zeitschrift Jir Sozial­
Jorschung, rendered more acute by its exposed position in an
Americanenvironmentthorough|yhosti|etoanyformofsocialism,
wa not without its eñects on the editoria| re|ationship of the
¯¯ Scholem's phrase: see his afterword to Berliner Chronik, Frankfurt t q,o,p. t a,.
Publisher's Note 41
¡ourna| to its contributors, among them Ben¡amin. But there can
b nodoubt thatfor thehrsttimeinhis|ife,Ben¡aminfoundin the
|ater thirties an arena ofco||egia| pub|ication that by and |arge
understood, appreciated and supported his work. The form ofhis
writing consequent|y changed in these years. His contributions
to the Zeitschrit, a|though on occasion muted by the tactical
apprehensions ofhis editors in New York, were far more direct|y
po|itical and more de|iberate|y theoretica| than anything he had
written in the Weimar period. The |ong essay on Lduard Fuchs
¸ VI) which conc|ude this vo|ume was one ofthe most signihcant
fruiu of this inte||ectua| co||aboration. Its origin |ay in Hork-
heimer's admiration for thehgureofFuchs, aveteran mi|itantof
German Social Democracywho was a|so a notab|e arthistorian,
for whom he had testihed at one ofthe numerous tria|sin which
Fuchs hadbeen prosecutedfor hisstudiesoferoticart. Sometime
in i g¸¡, Horkheimer approached Ben¡amin to commission an
essay from him on Fuchs for the Zeitschrit. Ben¡amin, who knew
and|iked Fuchs, thenafe||ow-exi|einhis |atesixtieinParis,was
re|uctant to undertake the work, part|y because ofthe amountof
reading it invo|ved, and part|y because ofhis |ack of sympathy
with the positivist cu|ture of which Fuchs, representative ofan
o|der generation ofGerman Marxism, partook. Commitment to
the pro¡ect wa fo||owed by postponement and tergiversation.
Lventua||y, he resumed serious study for it in late ig¸G, and
comp|eted the writing ofthe essay fair|y quick|y in the hrst two
months of i g¸;. Despite his comp|aints in correspondence about
the commission, he wa unexpected|y satished with the hna|
resu|ts. Leo Lowentha|, speaking for the editoria| board of the
Zeitschrit, secured the omission of the hrst paragraph as to
pronounced|y po|itica| in tone. '³ Horkheimer, for his part,
responded enthusiastica||y to the essay, which was pub|ished in
the¡ournal in October i g¸;. Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian
isBen¡amin'smostconsideredandimportantstatementon histori-
¯ ¯ For the editorial decision to restore this paragraph in the text printed in the
Collected Works, see Gesammelte Shriten, II, Bd. 3, p. [ 355.
calmaterialismtobreadtogetherwiththeTheses Ü the Philosophy
o History, of which it anticipate some of the theme and even
passages, butina more comprehensive and discursive space.
Thedateattheendofeachtextinthisvolumeare thoseoftheir
composition (sometime approximate) , not pub|ication. Apart
from A Smal Histor o Photograph and Eduard Fuchs, Collector and
Historian, trans|atedbyKings|eyShorter, thetrans|ationsinc|uded
in thevo|umearebyLdmundjephcott.
NLB
I
One- Way Street
This street is named
Asja Lacis Street
after her who
as an engineer
cut it through the author
FILLING STATION
The construction of|ife is at present in the poweroffacts far
more thanofconvictions, andofsuchfactsahavescarce|yever
becomethebasisofconvictions. Underthesecircumstancestrue
|iterary activity cannot aspire to take p|ace within a |iterary
frameworkthisis,rather,thehabitua|expressionofitssteri|ity.
Signihcant |iterary work can on|y come into being in a strict
a|ternation between action and writing, it must nurture the
inconspicuous forms that better ht its inßuence in active com-
munitiesthandoesthepretentious,universa|gestureofthebook
in|eaßets,brochures,artic|es,andp|acards. On|ythisprompt
|anguage shows itse|factive|y equa| to the moment. Opinions
are to the vast apparatus of socia| existence what oi| is to
machines . one doe not go up to a turbine and pour machine
oi|overit , oneapp|iesa|itt|eto hiddenspind|eandjointsthat
onehas to know.
BREAKFAST ROOM
A popu|ar tradition warns against recounting dreams on an
emptystomach. Inthisstate,though awake, oneremainsunder
the sway ofthe dream. For washing brings on|y the surface of
the body and the visib|emotorfunctionsinto the |ight,whi|ein
4
5
the deeper strata, even during the morning ab|ution, the grey
penumbra ofdreampersistsand, indeed, in the so|itude ofthe
hrstwakinghour,conso|idatesitse|fHewhoshunscontactwith
the day, whether for fear ofhis fe||ow men or for the sake of
inward composure, isunwi||ingtoeat and disdains hisbreak-
fast. He thus avoids a rupture between the nocturna| and the
daytimewor|dsaprecaution¡ustihedon|ybythecombustion
of dreaminaconcentratedmorning'swork,ifnotinprayer,but
otherwise a source ofconfusion between vita| rhythms. The
narrationofdreamsbringsca|amity, becauseapersonsti||ha|f
in|eaguewiththedreamwor|dbetraysitinhiswordsandmust
incuricrevenge. Lxpressedin more moden terms . hebetrays
himse|f He has outgrown the protectionofdreaming naïveté,
andin |ayingc|umsyhands on hudreamvisionshesurrenders
himse|f Foron|yfrom thefarbank, from broadday|ight, may
dreamb reca||edwith impunity. Thisfurtherside ofdreamis
on|y attainab|e through a c|eansing ana|ogous to washing yet
tota||y dißerent. Bywayofthe stomach. The fastingman te||s
his dream aifhewere ta|kingin his s|eep.
ÏC. I I _
The hours that hold the fgure and the form
Have run their course within the house of dream.
Cellar. -We have|ongforgotten theritua|bywhich the house
ofour|ife was erected. Butwhenitisunderassau|t andenemy
bombs are a|ready taking their to||, what enervated, perverse
antiquitiedotheynot|aybareinthefoundations. Whatthings
wereinterredandsacrihcedamidmagicincantations,whathor-
rib|e cabinet ofcuriositie |ies there be|ow, where the deepest
shafcarereservedfor whatismostcommonp|ace. Inanightof
despair I dreamed I was with my hrst friend from my schoo|
days, whom I had notseen for decade and had scarce|y ever
remembered in that time, tempestuous|y renewing our friend-
ship and brotherhood. But when I awokeitbecame c|ear that
One- Way Street
4
7
what despair had brought to |ight |ike a detonation was the
corpse ofthat boy, who had beenimmured asawarning. that
whoever oneday|ives here mayin no respect resemb|e him.
Vestibule. -A visittoGoethe'shouse.Icannotreca||havingseen
roomsin the dream. Itwaaperspectiveofwhitewashedcorri-
dors|ikethoseinaschoo|.Twoe|der|yLng|ish |adyvisitorsand
acuratorarethedream'sextras.Thecuratorrequesuustosign
the visitors' book |ying open on a desk at the farthest end ofa
passage. On reaching it, I hnd as I tun the page my name
a|ready entered inbig, unru|y, chiIdishcharacters.
Dinin Hall« ¯In a dream I saw myse|fin Goethe's study. It
bore no resemb|ance to the one in Weimar. Above a||, it was
very sma|| and had on|y one window. The side ofthe writing
desk abutted on the wa|| opposite the window. Sitting and
writingatitwathepoet,inextremeo|d age. I wastandingto
one side whenhe broke oñtogivemeasma||vase, an unfrom
antiquity, as a present. I turned it between my hands. An
immense heat h||ed the room. Goethe rose t his feet and
accompanied me to an ad¡oining chamber, where a tab|e was
set for my re|atives. It seemed prepared, however, for many
more than their number. Doubt|ess there were p|ace for my
ancestors, too. At the end, on the right, I sat down beside
Goethe. When the mea| wa over, he rose with dimcu|ty, and
by gesturing I sought |eave to support him. Touching his
e|bow, I began to weep with emotion.
FOR MEN
Toconvinceisto conquerwithoutconception.
STANDARD CLOCK
Togreat writers, hnishedworks weigh |ighter than those frag-
menu on which theyworkthroughouttheir|ives. Foron|ythe
more feebÌe and distracted take an inimitabÌe pÌeasure in con-
cÌusions, feeÌing themseÌves therebygiven back to Ìife. Ior the
geniuseachcaesura,andtheheavybÌowsoffate, faÌÌ ÌikegentÌe
sÌeepitselfintohisworkshopÌabour.Aboutithedra wsacharmed
circÌeoffragments. 'Oeniusis appÌication. '
COME BACK ! ALL IS FORGIVEN !
LikesomeoneperformingthegiantswingonthehorizontaÌbar,
each boy spins for himseÌf the wheeÌ of fortune from which,
soonerorÌater,themomentousÌotshaÌÌfaÌÌ.IoronÌythatwhich
we knew or practised at hIteen wiÌÌ one day constitute our
attraction. Andone thing, therefore, canneverb made good .
having negÌected to run away from home. Irom forty-eight
hours' exposure in those years, as in a caustic soÌution, the
crystaÌ ofÌife'shappiness forms.
MANORIALL Y FURNISHED
TEN-RoOM APARTMENT
ThefurniturestyÌeofthesecondhaÌfofthenineteenthcentury
hæ received its onÌy adequate description, and anaÌysis, in a
certain type ofdetective noveÌ at the dynamic centre ofwhich
standsthe horrorofapartments. Thearrangementofthefurni-
:ure is at the same time the site pÌan ofdeadÌy traps, and the
suiteofroomsprescribestheheeingvictim'spath.Thatthiskind
of detective noveÌ begins with Poe÷at a time when such
accommodations hardÌyyet existed÷isno counter-argument.
Iorwithoutexceptionthegreatwritersperform theircombina-
tionsinaworÌdthatcomesaIterthem,justastheParisstreetsof
BaudeÌaire's poems, as weÌÌ æ Dostoevsky's characters, only
existed after Ïgoo. The bourgeois interior of the i 8Gos to the
t 8gos, with its gigantic sideboards distendedwith carvings, the
sunÌeæ corners where paÌms stand, the baÌcony embattÌed
One- Way Street
4
9
behind its ba|ustrade, andthe|ongcorridorswith theirsinging
gæ ßames, htting|y houses on|y the corpse. 'On this sofa the
aunt cannot but be murdered. ' The sou||ess |uxuriance ofthe
furnishingsbecomestruecomforton|yin thepresenceofadead
body. Iæ more interesting than the Orienta| |andscapes in
detective noveL is that rank Orient inhabiting their interiors .
the Persian carpetand the ottoman, thehanging|ampand the
genuineCaucasiandagger. Behindtheheavy,gatheredKhi|im
tapestries the master of the house has orgie with his share
certihcates, fee|s himse|fthe Lastern merchant, the indo|ent
pasha in the caravanserai of otiose enchantment, unti| that
daggerin iusi|ver s|ing above thedivanputs an end, onehne
afternoon, to his siestaand himse|f Thischaracter ofthebour-
geois apartment, tremu|ous|y awaitingthe name|eæ murderer
|ikea|ascivious o|d |ady herga||ant, has beenpenetratedbya
number ofauthors who, as writers of'detective stories'and
perhap a|so because in their works part of the bourgeois
pandemonium is exhibited-have been denied the reputation
they deserve. The qua|ity in question hæ been captured in
iso|atedwritingsbyConanDoy|eandinama¡orproductionby
A. K. Green,andwith The Phantom othe Opera
,
oneofthegreat
nove|s about the nineteenth century, Gaston Leroux has
brought the genre to its apotheosis.
CHINESE CURIOS
These are days when noone shou|dre|yundu|y onhis 'com-
petence'. Strength |iein improvisation. A|| the decisive b|ows
are struck |elt-handed.
At thebeginningofthe|ongdownhi|| |ane that|eads tothe
houseof¯,whomI visitedeachevening, isagate.Altershe
moved, the openingofitsarchwaystoo henceforth before me
|ike Ü earthat has|ost the powerofhearing.
Achi|dinhisnightshirtcannotbeprevai|edupontogreetan
50
arrivingvisitor. Thosepresent, invokingahighermora| stand-
point, admonish him in vain to overcome his prudery. A few
minute |aterhe reappears, nowstarknaked, before thevisitor.
Inthe meantime he haswashed.
Thepowerofacountryroadisdiñerentwhenoneiswa|king
a|ongitfromwhenoneisßyingoveritbyairp|ane. Inthesame
way, thepowerofatextis diñerentwhenitisreadfromwhen
itiscopiedout. Theairp|anepassengerseeson|yhowthe road
pushe through the |andscape, how it unfo|ds according to the
same|awsas theterrainsurroundingit. On|yhewhowa|ksthe
roadonfoot|earnsofthepoweritcommands,andofhow,from
theveryscenery that for theßieris on|y the unfur|ed p|ain, it
ca||sforth distances, be|vederes, c|earings, prospects ateachof
itsturns|ike a commander dep|oyingso|dienat a front. On|y
thecopiedtextthuscommandsthesou|ofhimwhoisoccupied
withit,whereathemerereaderneverdiscoventhenewaspects
ofhisinnerse|fthatareopenedbythetext,thatroadcutthrough
theinteriorjung|eforeverc|osingbehindit . becausethereader
fo||ows the movement of his mind in the free ßight of day-
dreaming, wherea the copier submits it to command. The
Chinese practice ofcopying books was thus an incomparab|e
guaranteeof|iterarycu|ture,andthetranscriptakeytoChina's
enigmas.
GLOVES
In an aversion to anima|s the predominant fee|ing is fear of
being recognized by them through contact. The horror that
stindeepinmanisanobscureawareneæthatinhimsomething
|ive s akintothe anima|thatitmightbe recognized. A|| dis-
gust is origina||y disgust at touching. Lven when the fee|ingis
mastered, itison|ybyadrastic gesture thatover|eapitsmark.
thenauseousisvio|ent|yengu|fed,eaten,whi|ethezoneofhnest
epiderma|contactremains taboo. On|yinthiswayisthepara-
One- Way Street 5 /
dox of the mora| demand to be met, exacting simu|taneous|y
the overcoming and the subt|est e|aboration ofman's sense of
disgust. Hemay notdenyhis bestia| re|ationshipwith anima|s,
the invocation ofwhich revo|ts him. he must make himse|fits
master.
MEXICAN EMBASSY
Je ne passe jamais devant unftieh£ d bois, W Bouddha dori, une idole
mexieaine san Æ dire: e'est peut-etre I vrai dieu. (I never pass by a
wooden fetish, a gilded Buddha, a Mexican idol without refect­
ing: perhaps it is the true God. )
Charles Baudelaire
I dreamed I wa a member ofan exp|oring party in Mexico.
AIíercrossingahigh, primeva|¡ung|e,wecame uponasystem
ofabove-ground cave in the mountains where an order had
survived from the time of the hrst missionarie ti|| now, its
monks continuing the work ofconversion among the natives.
In Ü immense centra| grotto with a Gothica||y pointed rooI,
Maæ was ce|ebrated according to the most ancient rites. We
¡oinedthe ceremonyandwitnesseditsc|imax. towardawooden
bustofGo theFatherhxed highonawal|of the cave,apriest
raisedaMexicanfetish.Atthisthedivineheadturnedthricein
denia| from right to |eIí.
To THE PUBLIC : PLEASE PROTECT AND
PRESERVE THESE NEW PLANTINGS
Whatis 'so|ved'? Do nota|| thequestions ofour|ives,aswe
|ive, remain behind us |ike fo|iage obstructing our view? To
uproot this fo|iage, even to thin it out, doe not occur to us.
We stride on, |eave it behind, and from adistanceit is indeed
open to view, but indistinct, shadowy, and a|| the more enig-
matica||yentang|ed.
52
Commentary and trans|ationstand in the same re|ation to
the text a sty|e and mimesis to nature. the same phenomenon
consideredfromdiñerentaspects.Onthetreeofthesacredtext
bothareon|ytheeterna||yrust|ing|eaves,onthatoftheprofane,
theseasona||yfa||ingfruits.
He who |ove is attached not on|y to the 'fau|ts" of the
be|oved, not on|y to the whims and weaknesse ofa woman.
Wrink|eintheface,mo|es,shabbyc|othes,anda|opsidedwa|k
bindhimmore|asting|yandre|ent|ess|ythanany beauty.This
has |ong been known. And why? Ifthe theory is correct that
fee|ingisnot|ocatedinthehead,thatwesentient|yexperiencea
window, a c|oud, a tree not in our brains but, rather, in the
p|ace where we see it, then we are, in |ookingat our be|oved,
too, outsideourse|ves. But in a tormentoftension andravish-
ment. Our fee|ing, dazz|ed, ßutters |ike a ßock ofbirdsin the
woman's radiance. Andasbirdsseekrefugeinthe|ea( recesses
ofatree, fee|ingsescapintotheshadedwrink|es, theawkward
movements and inconspicuous b|emishe ofthe body we |ove,
wherethey can|ie|ow insafety.Andnopasser-bywou|dguess
thatitis¡ust here, inwhatisdefectiveand censurab|e, thatthe
ßeetingdartsofadoration nest|e.
CONSTRUCTION SITE
Pedantic broodingovertheproductionoIob¡ectsvisua|aids,
toys, orbooks÷thataresupposed to be suitab|e forchi|drenis
fo||y. Since theLn|ightenmentthis ha beenoneofthemustiest
specu|ationsofthepedagogues. Theirinfatuationwithpsycho-
|ogykeepsthemfromperceivingthatthewor|disfu|lofthemost
unrival|ed ob¡ectsfor chi|dishattentionanduse. Andthe most
specihc. Forchi|drenareparticu|ar|yfond ofhauntinganysite
wherethingsarebeingvisib|yworkedupon.Theyareirresistib|y
drawnbythedetritusgeneratedbybui|ding,gardening,house-
work,tai|oring,orcarpentry. Inwasteproducc theyrecognize
One- Way Street 5
3
the face that the wor|dofthings turns direct|y and so|e|y to
them. In using these things they do not b much imitate the
works ofadults Ü bring together, in the artefact produced in
p|ay, materia|s of wide|y diñering kinds in a new, intuitive
re|ationship. Children thus produce their own sma|| wor|d of
things within the greater one. The norms of this smal| wor|d
mustb keptinmindifone wishe tocreatethingsspecia||ytor
chi|dren, rather than |et one's adu|t activity, through its
requisites and instruments, hnditsownway tothem.
MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR
Themoreantagonisticapersonistowardthetraditiona|order,
the moreinexorab|yhewi||sub¡ect hisprivate|ifet thenorms
thathe wishe toe|evate Ü |egislaton ofafuturesociety. Itisas
uthex laws,nowhereyetrea|ized,p|acedhimunderob|igation
to enact them in advance at |eastin the conhne ofhis own
existence.Theman,ontheotherhand,whoknowshimse|ftobe
in accord with the most ancientheritageofhis c|ass ornation
wi||sometimebringhisprivate|ifeintoostentatiouscontrastto
the maxims that he unre|enting|y asserts in pub|ic, secret|y
approving his own behaviour, without the slightest qua|ms, as
the most conc|usive proofof the unshakab|e authority ofthe
princip|e he puts ondisp|ay. Thusaredistinguishedthetypes
ofthe anarcho-socia|ist and the conservative po|itician.
FLAG .
How much more easi|y the |eave-takeris |oved' For the ßame
burnsmorepure|yforthosevanishinginthedistance,fue||edby
the ßeeting scrap ofmaterial waving from the ship or rai|way
window. Separation penetrate the disappearing person |ike a
pigment andsteeps himin gentle radiance.
54
. AT HALF-MAST
Ifa person very c|ose to us u dying, there u something in the
monthstocomethatwedim|yapprehendmuchÜ weshou|d
have|ikedtoshareitwithhimcou|don|yhappenthroughhis
absence.Wegreethimatthe|astina|anguagethatheno|onger
understands.
IMPERIAL PANORAMA
A Tour o Gera Infation
i . In thestockofphraseo|ogythat|ays bare theama|gamof
stupidity and cowardice constituting the mode of |ife of the
German bourgeois, the|ocutionreferring to impending catas-
trophe÷that 'things can't go on |ike this'-u particu|ar|y
noteworthy. The he|p|eæ hxation on notions ofsecurity and
property deriving from past decade keep the average citizen
from perceiving the quiteremarkab|estabi|itieofan entire|y
newkindthatunder|iethepresentsituation. Because the re|a-
tive stabi|ization ofthe prewar yean benehted him, he fee|s
compe||edtoregardanystatethatdispossessehimÜ unstab|e.
Butstab|econditionsneedbynomeambp|easantconditions,
andeven before thewartherewerestratafor whomstabi|ized
conditiom amounted to stabi|ized wretchedness. To dec|ineis
no|eæstab|e, nomoresurprising,thantorise. On|yaviewthat
acknow|edge downfa|| Ü theso|ereasonfor the presentsitua-
tioncanadvancebeyondenervatingamazementatwhatisdai|y
repeated, and perceive the phenomena ofdec|ine Ü stabi|ity
itse|fand rescue a|one Ü extraordinary, verging on the mar-
vel|ousandincomprehensib|e.Peop|einthenationa|communi-
tie ofCentra| Lurope|ive |ike the inhabitants ofan encirc|ed
townwhoseprovisionsandgunpowderarerunningoutandfor
whom de|iverance is, by human reasoning, scarce|y to be ex-
pecteda case in which surrender, perhap unconditiona|,
shou|d b most serious|y considered. But the si|ent, invisib|e
One- Way Street
55
power thatCcntra| Luropefeelsopposingitdoenot negotiate.
Nothing, therefore, remains but to directthe gaze, in theper-
petua|expectationofthehna|ons|aught,onnothingexceptthe
extraordinary eventin which a|one sa|vation now |ies. Butthis
necessary state ofintense and uncomp|aining attention cou|d,
becausewearein mysterious contact withthepowersbesieging
us, rea||y ca|| forth a mirac|e. Converse|y, the assumption that
things cannot go on |ike thiswi||one dayhnditse|fapprisedof
the fact that for the suñering ofindividuals a ofcommunities
thereison|yone|imitbeyondwhichthingscannotgo.annihi|a-
tion.
2. Acuriousparadox.peop|ehaveon|ythenarrowestprivate
interest in mind when they act, yet they are at the same time
morethanevcrdeterminedintheirbehaviourbytheinstinctsof
themass. Andmorerhanevermaæinstincts havebecomecon-
fused and estranged from |ife. Wherea the obscure impu|seof
theanima|as innumerab|eanecdotere|ate÷detects,asdan-
ger approaches, a way ofescape that sti|| seems invisib|e, this
society, each ofwhose memben care on|y for his own ab¡ect
we||-being, fa|ls victim, with animal insensibi|ity but without
the insensate intuitionofanima|s, as ab|indmass, to evcnthe
most obvious danger, and thc diversityofindividua| goa|s is
immateria| in facc of the identity of the determining forces.
Againandagainithabeenshownthatsociety'sattachmentto
its fami|iar and |ong-since-forfeited |ife is m rigid a to nu||ify
thegenuine|yhumanapp|icationofinte||ect, forethought,even
in dire peri|. b thatin this society the picture ofimbeci|ityis
comp|ete . uncertainty, indeed perversionofvita|instincts, and
impotence, indeed decay ofthe inte||ect. This is the condition
ofthe etvtire
·
Germanbourgeoisic.
g. A|l c|ose re|ationships are|itup byana|mostinto|erab|e,
piercingc|arity in which theyarescarce|yab|e tosurvive. For
on theone hand, money standsruinous|yatthe centreofevery
vita| intcrest, but on the other, this is the very barricr before
which a|most a|| re|ationships ha|t , so, more and more, in the
natura| a in the mora| sphere, unreßecting trust, ca|m, and
healtharedisappearing.
q. Not without reasonis it customary to speak of'naked'
want. What is most damaging in the disp|ay ofit, a practice
startedunderthedictatesofnecessityandmakingvisib|eon|ya
thousandth part of the hidden distress, is not the pity or the
equa||yterrib|eawarenessofhisownimpunityawakenedinthe
on|ooker, but his shame. Itis impossib|e to remain in a |arge
Germancity, wherehungerforcesthemostwretched to |iveon
thebanknotewithwhichpassers-byseektocoveranexposure
thatwounds them.
_. 'Povertydisgracenoman. "We||and good. Butthr dis-
gracethepoor man. Theydo it, and thenconso|ehimwiththe
|itt|eadage. Itisoneofthosethatmayoncehave he|dgoodbut
have long since degenerated. The case is no diñerentwith the
bruta|, 'Ifa man does not work, neither sha|| he eat. "When
therewaworkthatfed aman,therewasa|sopovertythatdid
notdisgracehim,ifitarosefromdeformityor othermisfortune.
Butthisdeprivation,intowhichmi||ionsarebonandhundreds
ofthousands are dragged by impoverishment, doe indeeddis-
grace. Fi|th and misery grow up around them |ike wa||s, the
workofinvisib|ehands. And¡ustaaman canenduremuchin
iso|ation, butfeeIs¡ustihab|eshamewhenhiswifeseehimbear
itor suñers it herse|I, sohe may to|erate much a |ong a heis
a|one, and everythingas|ongas he conceaIs it. But noonemay
ever make peace with poverty when it fa|Is |ike a gigantic
shadow upon his countrymen and his house. Then he must be
alertto everyhumi|iationdonetohimandso discip|inehimse|f
thathissuñeringbecomeno|ongerthedownhi||roadofgrieI,
buttherisingpathofrevo|t. Butofthis thereis no hopeso |ong
a each b|ackest, most terrib|e stroke offate, dai|y and even
hour|y discussed by the press, set forth in a|| iui||usory causes
andeñects, he|pnooneuncoverthedarkpowenthatho|dhis
|ifein thra||.
One- Way Street 57
G. To the foreigner cursoriÌy acquainted with the patternof
Oerman Ìife who has even brießy traveÌled about the country,
itsinhabitanuseem no Ìeæ bizarre than an exoticrace.Awitty
Irenchman has said. 'A Oerman seÌdom understandshimseÌf
Ifhe has once understood himseÌI, he wiÌÌnotsayso. Ifhe says
so, he wiÌÌ notmake himseÌfunderstood. " This comfortÌessdis-
tancewæincreasedbythewar,butnotmereÌythroughthereaÌ
and Ìegendary atrocitie that Oermans are reported to have
committed. Rather, what compÌetes the isoÌation ofOermany
in the eye ofother Luropeans, what reaÌÌy engenders the atti-
tude that they are deaÌing with Hottentou in the Oermans ¸as
ithas been aptÌyput),is the vioÌence, incomprehensib|etoout-
siders andwhoÌÌyimperceptibÌeto thoseimprisonedbyit,with
which circumstances, squaÌor, and stupidity here subjugate
peopÌe entireÌy to coÌÌective forces, as theÌives ofsavages aÌone
are subj ected to tribaÌ Ìaws. The most Luropean ofaÌÌ accom-
pÌishments, that more or Ìeæ discernibÌe irony with which the
Ìife ofthe individuaÌ asserts the right to run its course indepen-
dentÌy ofthe community into which it is cast, has compÌeteÌy
deserted the Oermans.
¡. The freedomofconversationisbeinglost. If itwasearÌier
a matter of course in conversation to take interest in one's
partner, this is now repÌaced by inquiry into the price ofhis
shoe or his umbreÌÌa. IrresistibÌy intruding on any convivial
exchange is the theme ofthe conditions ofÌife, ofmoney. What
this theme invoÌveis notm much the concerns andsorrowsof
individuaÌs,inwhich theymight babÌeto heÌponeanother, as
the overaÌÌ picture. Itis as ifone were trappedina theatre and
had to foÌÌow the eventson the stage whetherone wantedto or
not,hadtomakethemagainandagain,wiÌÌingÌyorunwiÌÌingÌy,
the subjectofone's thought andspeech.
8. AnyonewhodoesnotsimpÌyrefusetoperceivedecÌinewiÌÌ
hasten to cÌaim a speciaÌ justihcation for his own continued
presence, his activity and invoÌvement in this chaos. A there
are many insighu into the generaI faiIure, m there are many
exceptionsforone'sownsphereofaction,pIaceof residence,and
momentoftime. AbIinddetermination to save the prestige of
personaI existence, rather than, through an impartiaI disdain
for its impotence and entangIement, at Ieast todetach itfrom
the background of universaI deIusion, is triumphing aImost
everywhere. Thatiswhytheairism thickwithIifetheoriesand
worldviews,andwhyinthiscountrytheycutsopresumptuous
a hgure, for aImost aIways they hnaIIy serve t sanctionsome
wholIytriviaIprivatesituation. For¡ustthesamereasontheair
ism fuIIofphantoms,miragesofagIoriouscuIturalfuturebreak-
inguponusovernightinspiteofaII, for everyoneis committed
totheopticaI iIIusionsofhisisoIated standpoint.
g. The peopIe cooped up in this country no longer discern
the contounofhuman personaIity. Lveryfree man appears to
themÜ aneccentric. LetusimaginethepeaksoftheHighAIps
siIhouettednotagainsttheskybutagainstfoIdsofdarkdrapery.
ThemightyformswouIdshowuponlydimIy. In¡ustthiswaya
heavycurtainshutsoñCermany'ssky,andwenolongerseethe
prohIeofeventhegreatestmen.
t o. Warmthisebbing from things. Theob¡ects ofdaiIy use
gentIy butinsistentIy repelus. Daybyday, in overcomingthe
sum ofsecret resistancesnot onIy the overt onesthat they
putinourway,wehaveanimmenseIabourtoperform.Wemust
compensatefortheircoldneæwithourwarmthiftheyarenotto
freezeust death,andhandIetheirspinewithinhnitedexterity,
ifwe are not to perish by bIeeding. From our felIow men we
shouId expect no succour. Bus conductors, omciaIs, workmen,
salesmentheyaIIfeeI themseIvetob therepresentativesofa
refractorymatterwhosemenacetheytakepainstodemonstrate
throughtheirownsurliness. Andm thedegenerationofthings,
with which, emuIating human decay, they punish humanity,
thecountry itselfconspires. Itgnawsat usIikethe things, and
the Cerman spring that never come is onIy one ofcountless
One- Way Street 59
re|ated phenomena ofdecomposing German nature. Hereone
|ive æ ifthe weight ofthe co|umn ofair supported by every-
one had sudden|y, against a|| |aws, become in these regions
perceptib|e.
Ï Ï . Any human movement, whether it springs from anin-
te||ectua|or evenanatura|impu|se,isimpededinitsunfo|ding
by the bound|eæ resistance ofthe outside wor|d. Shortage of
house andtherisingcostoftrave|arein theproceæofannihi-
|ating the e|ementary symbo| of Luropean freedom, which
existed in certain forms even in the Midd|e Ages . freedom of
domici|e. And u medieva| coercion bound men to natura|
associations, they are nowchainedtogetherin unnatura| com-
munity. Few things wi|| further the ominousspreadofthe cu|t
of ramb|ing æ much æ the strangu|ation ofthe freedom of
residence, andneverhasfreedomofmovementstooingreater
disproportion to the abundanceofmeansoftrave|.
t z. justas aI| things, inaperpetua|proceæofming|ingand
contamination, are |osing their intrinsic character whi|e am-
biguitydisp|aceauthenticity,southecity.Greatcitieswhose
incomparab|y sustaining and reassuring power enc|oses those
at work within them in the peace ofa fortreæ and |ifts from
them, with the view of the horizon, awareneæ ofthe ever-
vigi|ante|ementa|forcesare seentob breachedata||points
bytheinvadingcountryside. Notby the |andscape, butbywhat
inuntramme||ednatureumostbitter .p|oughed|and,highways,
night sky that the vei| of vibrant redneæ no |onger concea|s.
Theinsecurityofeventhebusyareæputsthecitydwe||erinthe
opaque and tru|y dreadfu| situation in which he must assimi-
|ate, a|ong with iso|ated monstrositie from the open country,
the abortions ofurbanarchitectonics.
t ¸. Nob|e indißerence to thespheresofwea|th and poverty
hasquiteforsakenmanufacturedthings.Lachstampitsowner,
|eaving him on|y the choice of appearing a starve|ing or a
60
racketeer. For whi|e even true luxury can b permeated by
inte||ect and convivia|ity and so forgotten, the |uxury goods
swaggering before us now parade such brazen so|idity that a||
the mind's shafts breakharm|ess|yon their surface.
t ¡. Theear|iestcustomsofpeop|esseemtosendusawarning
that m accepting what we receive m abundant|y from nature
weshou|dguardagainstagestureofavarice.Forweareab|eto
make MotherLarth no giûofourown. ItL therefore htting to
show respect in taking, by returning a part of a|| we receive
beforelayinghandsonourshare.ThisrespectLexpressedinthe
ancient custom ofthe |ibation. Indeed, it L perhaps this im-
memoria| practice thathas survived, transformed, in the pro-
hibition on gathering forgotten ears of con or fa|len grapes,
these reverting to the soi| or to the ancestra| dispensers of
b|essings.A Atheniancustomforbadethepickingupofcrumbs
at the tab|e, since theybe|onged to theheroes. Ifsocietyhasso
degeneratedthroughnecessityandgreedthatitcannowreceive
the gifts ofnature on|y rapacious|y, that it snatche the fruit
unripfrom thetrees in order tose|| it most prohtab|y, andis
compe||ed to empty each dish in its determination to have
enough, theearthwi||beimpoverishedandthe|andyie|dbad
harvests.
UNDERGROUND WORKS
I saw in a dream barren terrain. It was the market-p|ace at
Weimar. Lxcavations were in progress. I to scraped about in
the sand. Then the tip of a church steep|e came to |ight.
De|ighted,Ithoughttomyse|f.aMexicanshrinefromthetime
of pre-animism, from the Anaquivitz|i. I awoke |aughing.
(Ana =&ve; vi = vie,witz ¿joke| = Mexicanchurch [ !| . )
COIFFEUR FOR FASTIDIOUS LADIES
Three thousand |adie and gent|emen from the Kurftìrsten-
damm are to b arrested in their beds one morning without
One- Way Street 61
exp|anationand detained fortwenty-fourhours. Atmidnighta
questionnaire on the death pena|ty is distributed to the ce||s
requiring iu signatories to indicate which fonn ofexecution,
shou|d the occasion arise, they wou|d prefer. This document
wou|dhavetob comp|eted'tothebestoftheirknow|edge'by
those who hitherto had mere|y oñered their unso|icited views
'in aI| conscience'. By hrst |ight, that hour he|d sacred ofo|d
butin thiscountrydedicatedtotheexecutioner, thequestionof
capita| punishmentwou|dbe reso|ved.
CAUTION : STEPS
Workon gooprosehathree steps . amusica|stagewhenitis
composed, an architectonic one when it is bui|t, and a texti|e
one whenitiswoven.
ATTESTED AUDITOR OF BOOKS
]ustathistimeistheantithesisoftheRenaissanceingenera|,it
contrasts in particu|ar to the situation in which the art of
printing was discovered. For whetherbycoincidenceor not, its
appearance in Germanycame at a time when the bookin the
most eminentsenseoftheword, thebookofbooks,hadthrough
Luther'stranslationbecomethe peop|e'sproperty. Nowevery-
thingindicates thatthe bookin thistraditiona|fonnisnearing
its end. Ma|larmé, who in the crysta|line structure ofhis cer-
tain|y traditiona|istwriting saw the true image ofwhatwas to
come, wain theCoup de des the hrst to incorporate thegraphic
tensions ofthe advertisement in the printed page. The typo-
graphica| experiments |ater undertaken by the Dadaists stem-
med, it is true, not from constructive princip|e but from the
precisenervousreactionsofthese |iterati, andwerethereforefar
|essenduringthanMa||armé's,whichgrewoutoftheinnernature
ofhis sty|e. But theyshowupforthisvery reason thetopica|ity
ofwhat Ma|larmé, monadical|y, inhishermeticroom, haddis·
coveredthroughapre-estab|ishedharmonywitha||thedecisivt
events ofour time in economics, technology, and public |ife.
Printing, havingfoundinthebookarefugemwhichto|eadan
autonomous existence, is pitiless|y dragged out onto the street
byadvertisementsandsub¡ectedto thebruta|heteronomiesoI
economic chaos. This is the hard schoo|ing ofits new form. II
centurie ago it began gradua||y to |ie down, passing from the
upright inscription to the manuscript resting on sloping desks
before hnal|y taking to bed in the printed book, it now begins
¡ust Ü s|ow|y to rix again from the ground. The newspaperis
readmoninthevertica|thaninthehorizonta|p|ane,whileh|m
and advertisement force the printed word entirely into the
dictatoria| perpendicu|ar. Andbefore achi|dofour timehnds
hiswayc|eartoopeningabook, his eye have been exposedto
suchab|izzardofchanging,co|ourfu|,conßicting|ettersthatthe
chance ofhis penetrating the archaic sti||neæ ofthe book are
slight. Locustswarmsofprint, whicha|readyec|ipse thesunof
what is taken for intel|ect for city dwe||ers, wiI¡ grow thicker
witheachsucceedingyear. Otherdemandsofbusineæ|ifelead
further.Thecardindexmarkstheconquestofthree-dimensiona|
writing, and m presents an astonishing counterpoint to the
three-dimensiona|ityof scriptinitsoriginalformÜ runeorknot
notation. (Andtodaythe bookis a|ready, Ü the present mode
ofscho|ar|y production demonstrates, an outdated mediation
betweentwodiñerent h|ingsystems. Foreverythingthatmat-
tenistobfoundinthecardboxoftheresearcherwhowroteit,
andthescho|arstudyingitassimilateitintohisowncardindex. )
But i tis quite beyond doubt that the development ofwriting
wi||notindehnite|ybeboundbytheclaimstopowerofachaotic
academicandcommercia|activity,rather,quantityisapproach-
ing the momentofaqua|itative |eapwhenwriting, advancing
ever more deep|y into the graphic regions ofits new eccentric
hgurativeness,wiI¡takesuddenpossessionofanadequatefactua|
content.Inthispicturewriting,poets,whowi|lnowÜ inear|iest
time b hrst and foremost experts in writing, wi|| b able to
One- Way Street 63
participate only by mastering the helds in which (quite un-
obtrusively) itisbeingconstructed.thestatisticalandtechnical
diagram. Withthefoundationofaninternationalmovingscript
theywiIl renewtheirauthorityinthelifeofpeoples,andhnda
role awaiting them in comparison to which all the innovative
aspirationsofrhetoricwillreveal themselveÜ antiquatedday-
dreams.
TEACHING AID
Princles o the Weighty Tome, or How to Writ Fat Books.
I. Thewhole compositionmustb permeatedwithaprotracted
andword_expositionoftheinitial plan.
II. Terms are to b included for conceptions that, except in
thisdehnition,appearnowhere inthewholebook.
III. Co
���]
tua �istinctions laboriously arrived at in the text
areto | obliteratedagainin the relevant notes.
IV. For conceputreated only in their general signihcance,
example should b given, if for example, machine are men-
tioned,allthediñerentkindsofmachineshouldbenumerated.
V. Lverything that u knowna priori about an ob¡ect is to be
consolidatedby an abundanceofexamples.
VI. Relationships that could b represented graphically must
b expounded in words. Instead of being represented in a
genealogicaltree, for example, allfamilyrelationship are tobe
enumerated anddescribed.
VII. A number ofopponents aIl sharing the same argument
shou|each b refutedindividually.
ThetypicalworkofmodernscholarshipLintendedtobread
like a catalogue. But when shall we actually write books like
catalogues?Ifthe dehcientcontentwere thus to determine the
outward form, an excellent piece ofwriting would result, in
which the value of opinions would b marked without their
being thereby put onsale.
The typewriter willalienate the handofthe man ofletters
from the penon|ywhentheprecisionoftypographic forms has
direct|yenteredtheconceptionofhisbooks.Onemightsuppose
that new systemswith morevariab|e typeface wou|d then be
needed. They wi|| rep|ace the p|iancy ofthe hand with the
innervationofcommandinghngers.
A perio that, constructed metrica||y, afterward has its
rhythm upset at a sing|e pointyie|ds theh nestprosesentence
imaginab|e.Inthiswayarayof|ightfa||sthroughachinkinthe
wa||ofthea|chemist'sce||,to|ightupg|eamingcrysta|s,spheres,
andtriang|es.
GERMANS, DRINK GERMAN BEER !
The mob, impe||ed by afrenetichatred ofthe |ife ofthemind,
hasfoundasurewayto annihi|ateitinthe countingofbodies.
Whenever giventhes|ightestopportunity,theyformranksand
advance into arti||ery barrages and price rises in marching
order. No one sees further than the back before him, and each
is proud to b thus exemp|ary for the eye behind. Men have
beenadeptatthisfor centuriesinthehe|d, but the march-past
ofpenury,standingin |ine, is theinventionofwomen.
POST No BILLS
ThR Writer's Technique in Thirteen Theses.
I. Anyone intending to embark on a ma¡or work shou|d be
|enientwithhimse|fand,havingcomp|etedastint,denyhimse|f
nothingthatwi||notpre¡udice the next.
II. Ta|k about what you have written, by a|| means, but do
not read fromitwhi|etheworkisinprogress.Lverygratihcation
procuredin thiswaywi||s|ackenyourtempo. Ifthis regimeis
fo||owed,thegrowingdesiretocommunicatewiI|becomeinthe
end amotorforcomp|etion.
III. In your working conditions avoid everyday mediocrity.
One- Way $treet 65
Semi-reÌaxation,toabackgroundofinsipidsounds,isdegrading.
Òntheotherhand,accompanimentbyanctudeoracacophony
ofvoices can become Ü signihcant forwork Ü the perceptibÌe
siÌence of the night. Ifthe Ìatter sharpens the inner ear, the
former acts Ü touchstone for a diction ampÌe enough to bury
even the mostwayward sounds.
IV. Avoid haphazardwritingmateriaÌs.Apedanticadherence
to certain papers, pens, inks is benehciaÌ. No Ìuxury, but an
abundance ofthese utensiÌs is indispensabÌe.
V. Let no thought paæ incognito, and keep your notebook as
strictÌyÜ the authoritiekeeptheirregisterofaÌiens.
VI. Keep your pen aÌooffrom inspiration, which it wiÌÌ then
attract with magnetic power. The more circumspectÌy you
deÌaywritingdownanid

a,themorematureÌydeveÌopeditwiÌÌ
b on surrenderingitseSpeechconquers thought, butwriting¡¸
commandsi¸
VII. Never stop writing because you have run out of ideas.
Literaryhonourrequiresthatonebreakoß onÌyatanappointed
moment ¸ameaÌtime, a meeting, or at the end ofthe work.
VIII. IiÌÌ theÌacunaeofinspirationbytidiÌycopyingoutwhat
is aÌready written. IntuitionwiÌÌ awakenin the process.
IX. Nulla dies sin linea-buttheremayweÌÌ be weeks.
X. Consider no work perfect over which you have not once
satfrom eveningtobroad dayÌight.
XI. Do not write the concÌusion ofa work in your famiÌiar
study. YouwouÌdnothndthenecessarycourage there.
XII. Stage ofcomposition. idea÷styÌe÷writing. The vaÌue
ofthe fair copyL that in producing ityou conhne attentionto
caÌÌigraphy. The idea kiÌÌs inspiration, styÌe fetters the idea,
writingpaysoßstyÌe.
�III. Thework �s t
¤
e
·

�ª
th maskofitsconception.
Thirteen Theses Against Snobs.
¸ Snob in theprivate omceofartcriticism. Ònthe ÌeIt, achiÌd's
drawing,ontherightafetish.Snob. 'Doesn'tthismakePicasso
seem such a waste oftime?`)
66
I. Theartistmakesawork. Theprimitiveexpresseshim-
se|fin documents.
II. The art-workuon|yin- No document u Ü such a
cidenta||y adocument. workofart.
III. Theart-workisamaster- The document serves to in-
piece.
IV. On art-works, artists
|earn theircraft.
V. Art-works are remote
from eachotherin their
perfection.
VI. In the art-work content
andformareone. mean-
mg.
VII. Meaningistheoutcome
ofexperience.
VIII. In the art-work sub¡ect
matter is a ba||ast¡etti-
sonedduringcontemp|a-
tion.
IX. In the art-work the for-
ma||awL centra|.
X. The art-work is synthe-
tic. an energy-centre.
XI. The impact of an art-
work increases with re-
peatedviewing.
XII. Theviri|ityofworks|ies
inassau|t.
XIII. The artist sets out to
conquermeanings.
struct.
Before documents, a pub|ic
iseducated.
A||documentscommunicate
throughtheirsub¡ect-matter.
In documents the sub¡ect
matteruwho||ydominant.
Sub¡ect-matter u the out-
comeofdreams.
The more one |oses onese|f
in a document
·
the denser
the sub¡ectmattergrows.
Forms are mere|y dispersed
indocuments.
Theferti|ityofthedocument
demands . ana|ysis.
Adocumentoverpowerson|y
through surprise.
The document's mnocence
givesit cover.
The primitive man barri-
cadeshimse|fbehindsub¡ect-
matter.
The Critic's Technique in Thirteen Theses.
I. The critic is the strategistin the |iterarybatt|e.
} II. Hewhocannot take sidesshou|dkeepsi|ent.
One- Way Street 67
III. The critic ha nothing in common with the interpreter of
past cu|tura|epochs.
IV. Criticismmustta|kthe|anguageofartists. Forthetermsof
thecenacl ares|ogans.Andon|yins|ogansisthebatt|e-cryheard.
V. 'Ob¡ectivity" must a|ways be sacrihced to partisanship, if
the cause foughtfor merits this.
VI. Criticismisamora|question.IfGoethemis¡udgedHö|der-
|in and K|eist, Beethoven andjean Pau|, hismora|ityandnot
hisartistic discernmentwaat fau|t.
VII. Forthecritichisco||eaguesare thehigherauthority. Not
the pub|ic. Sti|||essposterity.
VIII. Posterity forgeu or acc|aims. On|y the critic¡udges in
face ofthe author.
IX. Po|emic meantodestroy a bookinafew ofitssentences.
The|eæithasbeenstudiedthebetter. On|yhewhocandestroy
cancriticize.
X. Genuinepo|emicsapproachabookas|oving|yasacanniba|
spicea baby.
XI. Artistic enthusiasm is a|iento thecritic. In his hand the
art-work is theshiningsword in the batt|e ofminds.
XII. Theartofthecriticinanutshe|| .tocoin s|oganswithout
betraying ideas. Thes|ogans ofaninadequate criticism pedd|e
ideas to fashion.
XIII. Thepub|icmusta|waysbeprovedwrong,yeta|waysfee|
represented by thecritic.
Trei; e� j' eus un plaisir cruel d m' arreter sur ce nombre. [Thirteen­
stopping at this number, I felt a cruel pleasure. J
Marcel Proust
L reploiement vierge du livre, encore, prete a un sacrice dont saigna la
tranch rouge des anciens tomes; l'introduction d'une arme, ou coupe­
papier, pour etabtir la prise de possession. [The tight-folded book,
virginal still, awaiting the sacrifce that blooded the red edges
of earlier tomes; the insertion of a weapon, or paper-knife, to
efect the taking of possession. ]
Mallarme
No. I _
68
I. Booksand har|ots can be taken to bed.
II. Booksandhar|otsinterweavetime.Theycommandnightas
day, and day a night.
III. Neitherbooksnorhar|otsshow that minute are precious
tothem.Butcloseracquaintanceshowswhatahurrytheyarein.
^ourinterestbecomesabsorbed, theytoarecounting.
IV. Books and har|otshave everbeen unhappi|y in |ovewith
eachother.
V. Booksandhar|otsbothhavetheir typofman, whoboth
|ivesoñandharasses them. Inthe caseofbooks, critics.
VI. Booksandhar|otsarepub|icestab|ishments-forstudents.
VII. Books and har|ots-se|dom doe one who has possessed
them witness their end. They are apt to vanish before they
expire.
VIII. Booksandhar|otsarefondofrecounting, mendacious|y,
how they became what they are. In rea|ity they did not often
noticeitthemse|ves. Foryearsonefol|ows 'the heart¨ wherever
it leads, and onedayacorpu|ent body stands so|icitingon the
spotwhereone had |ingered mere|yto 'study|ife'.
IX. Books and har|ou |ove to tun their backs when putting
themse|vesonshow.
X. Booksandhar|otshavea|argeprogeny.
XI. Books and har|ots'O|d bigots-young whores'. How
manybooks wereoncenotorious that now serveasinstruction
foryouth.
XII. Books andharlotshavetheirquarre|sinpub|ic.
XIII. Booksandharlotsfootnotesinoneare abanknotesin
thestockingsoftheother.
ORDNANCE
I had arrived in Riga tovisitawomanfriend. Her house, the
town, the|anguagewereunfami|iartome.Nobodywasexpect-
ing me, noone knewme. FortwohoursI wa|ked the streetsin
so|itude. Never again have I seen them so. From every gate a
One- Way Street 69
ßamedarted,eachcornerstonesprayedsparks,andeverystreet-
car came toward me |ike a hre engine. For she might have
stepped out ofthe gateway, around the corner, been sittingin
thestreetcar. Butofthetwoofus I hadtobe, atany price, the
hrsttosee the other. For hadshe touchedmewiththematchof
her eyes, I shou|d havegone up|ikeamagazine.
FIRST AID
A high|y embroi|ed quarter, a network ofstreets that I had
avoided for years,wasdisentang|edatasing|estrokewhenone
dayaperson dear to me moved there. Itwas aifasearch|ight
setupatthisperson'swindowdissectedtheareawithpenci|sof
|ight.
INTERIOR DECORATION
Thetractis anArabicform. Itsexteriorisundiñerentiatedand
unobtrusive, |ike thefaçadeofArabian bui|dings, thearticu|a-
tionofwhichbeginson|yinthecourtyard. So,too, thearticu|a-
ted structure of the tract is invisib|e from outside, revea|ing
itse|fon|yfrom within. Ifitisformedbychapters, theyhavenot
verba| headingsbutnumbers. Thesurfaceofits de|iberationsis
not pictoria||y en|ivened, but covered with unbroken, pro-
|iferatingarabesques.Intheornamentaldensityofthispresenta-
tion thedistinctionbetweenthematicandexcursiveexpositions
isabo|ished.
STATIONERS
Street-plan. -I know one who is absent-minded. Whereas the
name of my supp|iers, the |ocation of my documents, the
addresseofmyfriendsandacquaintances,thehourofarendez-
70
vous arc at my hngcr-tìps, ìn hcr polìtìcal conccpts, party
slogans, dcclaratìons and commands arc hrmly lodgcd. Shc
lìvc ìn a cìty oIwatchwords and ìnhabìts a quartcr oIcon-
spìratorìal andIratcrnal tcrms, whcrc cvcry allcywayshowsìts
colour and cvcry word hasa password Iorìu ccho.
List i wishes. -"Does not thcrccdthcworld÷Wìth swcctncss
bll÷May no lcs gracìous word÷Ilow Irom my quìll ' " Thìs
Iollows 'Blcsscd Ycarnìng" lìkc a pcarl that ha rollcd Irom a
Ircshly-opcncd oystcr-shcll.
Pocket diaç. ÷Icw thìngsarc morccharactcrìstìcoIthc Nordìc
man than that, whcn ìn lovc, hc must abovc all and at allcosts
b alonc wìth hìmsclI must hrst contcmplatc, cnjoy hìs Icclìng
ìn solìtudc, bcIorc goìngto thcwomantodcclarc ìt.
Paper-weight. ¯Placc dc la Concordc. thc Òbclìsk. What was
carvcd ìnìt Iour thousand ycars ago today stands atthcccntrc
ìn thc grcatcstoIcìtysquarcs. Had that bccn Iorctold to hìm÷
whatatrìumphIor thcPharaoh 'ThcIorcmostWcstcncultural
cmpìrcwìIlonc daybcar at ìts ccntrc thc mcmorìaloIhìs rulc.
HowdocsthLapothcosìsappcarìnrcalìty?Notoncamongthc
tcnsoIthousandswhopasbypauscs ,notoncamongthctcnsoI
thousands who pausc can rcadthcìnscrìptìon. lnsuchmanncr
doc aIl Iamc rcdccm ìts plcdgcs, and nooraclc can match ìts
guìlc. Ior thc ìmmortal stands lìkc this obclìsk. rcgulatìngthc
spìrìtuaI tramc that surgc thundcrously about hìm, and thc
ìnscrìptìon hc bcars hclp no onc.
FANCY GOODS
Thc ìncomparablc languagc oIthc dcath`s hcad. total cxprcs-
sìonlcssncss÷thc blackoIthc cyc-sockcts÷couplcdtothc most
unbrìdlcd cxprcssìon÷thc grìnnìngrowsoItccth.
One- Way Street 71
Somconc wbo, Icclìng bìmsclIabandoncd, takcs up a book,
hndswìtbapangtbattbcpagcbcìsaboutto tunìsalrcadycut,
and tbat cvcn bcrc bc ìs notnccdcd.
GìIts must añcct tbcrcccìvcr totbcpoìntoIsbock.
Wbcnavalucd,culturcd and clcgant Irìcnd scntmcbìsncw
book and I was about to opcn ìt, I caugbt mysclIìn tbc actoI
straìgbtcnìng my tìc.
Hcwboobscrvcsctìqucttcbutobjcctstolyìngislìkcsomconc
wbo drcssc Iasbìonably butwcars no vcst.
IItbcsmokcIromtbctìpoImycìgarcttcand tbcìnkIrom tbc
nìboImypcnßowcdwìtbcqual casc, IsbouldbìntbcArcadìa
oImy wrìtìng.
To bc bappy istobcablctobccomcawarcoIoncsclIwìtbout
Irìgbt.
ENLARGE'MENTS
Child reading. -You arcgìvcnabookIrom tbcscbool lìbrary. In
tbc lowcr classcs tbcy arc sìmply bandcd out. Ònly now and
agaìn do you darc to cxprcss a wìsb. ÒIìcn, ìn cnvy, you scc
covctcd books pa× ìntootbcrbands. Atlastdcsìrcwagrantcd.
IorawcckyouwcrcwbollygìvcnuptotbcsohdrìhoItbctcxt,
tbat surroundcd you as sccrctly, dcnscly and unccasìngly as
snowñakcs. Youcntcrcdìtwìtblìmìtlcsstrust. Tbcpcacclulncss
oItbc book tbat cntìccd you Iurtbcr and Iurtbcr ' Its contcnts
dìd not mucb mattcr. Ior you wcrc rcadìng at tbc tìmc wbcn
you stìll madc up storìcs ìn bcd. Tbc cbìld sccks bìs way along
tbc balI-bìddcn patbs. Rcadìng, hc covcrs bis cars, tbc bookìs
on a tablc tbat is Iar to bigb, and onc band L always on tbc
pagc. To bìm tbc bcro's advcnturcs can stìll b rcad ìn tbc
72
swìrlìnglcttcrs lìkc bgurcs and mcssagc ìn drìIììngsnowñakcs.
Hìs brcath is part oIthc aìr oIthc cvcnu narratcd, and all thc
partìcìpants brcathc wìth hìs lìIc. Hc mìnglcswìth thc charac-
tcrs Iar morc closcly than grown-ups do. Hc ìs unspcakably
touchcdbythcdccds, thcwords thatarccxchangcd, and, whcn
hcgctsup,ìs blanchcdovcrandovcrby thcsnowoIhisrcadìng.
Belated child. -Thcclockovcr thcschool playground sccmsasìI
damagcd on hìs account. Thc hands stand at . 'latc`. And ìn
thccorrìdor, Irom classroom doorsashcpasscs,comcmurmurs
oIconspìracy. ThctcachcrsandpupìlsbchìndthcmarcIrìcnds.
Òr all is sìlcnt, a ìIthcy wcrc waìtìng. Inaudìbly hc puts hìs
handtothc doorhandlc. Thc spotwhcrchc standsìsstccpcdìn
sunlìght. Vìolatìng thc pcaccIul hour hcopcns thc door. Thc
tcachcr`s voìcc clattcn lìkc a mìll-whccl , hc stands bcIorc thc
grìndìng stoncs. Thc voìcc clattcrs on wìthouta brcak, but thc
mìll-hands now shakc oñ thcìr load to thc ncwcomcr , tcn,
twcntyhcavysacks ñy towards hìm, that hc mustcarryto thc
bcnch. Lach thrcad oIhisjackct ìs ßour-whìtc. lìkc thosc oIa
wrctchcd soul at mìdnìght, hìs cvcry stcp makcs uproar, and
no onc sccs. Ònccarrìvcdat hisscat, hcworksquìctlywìththc
rcst untìl thc bcll sounds. But ìt avaìls hìm nothìng.
Pilfering child. Through thc chìnkoIthc scarcclyopcn lardcr
doorhìs hand advancc lìkca lovcr through thc nìght. Ònccat
homcìn thc darkncss, ìtgropc towards sugaroralmonds,sul-
tanaorprcscrvcs.Andasthclovcr,bcIorckìssìnghcr,cmbraccs
his gìrl, his hand cnjoys a tactìlc tryst wìth thc comcstìblcs
bcIorchìsmouthsavoursthcìrswcctncs. Howìnvìtìnglyhoncy,
hcaps oIcurrants, cvcn rìcc yìcld to hìs hand. How passìonatc
thìsmcctìngoItwowhohavcatlastcscapcdthcspoon.GratcIul
and tcmpcstuous a onc who has bccn abductcd Irom thc
parcntal homc, strawbcrryjam, uncncumbcrcd bybrcad rolls,
abandons ìtsclIto hìs dclcctatìon a undcr thc opcn sky, and
cvcn thc buttcr rcsponds tcndcrlyto thc boldncssoIthìswoocr
One- Way Street 73
who ha pcnctratcd hcr boudoìr. Hìs hand, thcjuvcnìlc Ðon
juan, has soon ìnvadcd all thc ccllsand spaccs, lcavìng bchìnd
ìt runnìnglaycn and strcamìngplcnty. maìdcnlìncss rcncwìng
ìtsclIwìthout complaìnt.
Child on the roundabout. -Thc boardcarryìng thcdocìlcanìmals
movcclosctothc ground. Itìsat thchcìghtwhìch, ìn drcams,
ìs bcst Ior ñyìng. Musìc starts and thc chìld movcs wìth ajcrk
awayIromhismothcr. IìrsthcìsaIraìdatlcavìnghcr.Butthcn
hc notìccshowdoughtyhc hìmsclIìs.Hcìs cnsconccdasthcjust
rulcr ovcr a world that bclongs to hìm. Tangcntìal trccs and
natìvclìnchisway. Thcn,ìnanÒrìcnt, hìs mothcrrc-appcars.
Ncxt, cmcrgìngIrom thcjunglc,comcsatrcctop,cxactlyasthc
chìldsawìtthousandsoI ycarsago÷justnowonthcroundabout.
Hìsbcastìsdcvotcd. lìkcamutcArìonhcrìdcshìssìlcntbsh,or
a woodcn Zcus-bull carrìc hìm oñas an ìmmaculatc Luropa.
Thc ctcrnal rccurrcncc oI all thìngs ha long bccomc chìld`s
wìsdomto hìm, and lìIc aprìmcvalIrcnzyoIdomìnatìon, wìth
thc boomìng orchcstrìon as thc crownjcwcls at thc ccntrc. As
thc musìc slows, spacc bcgìns to stammcr and thc trccs to rub
thcìrbrows. Thc roundaboutbccomcsunccrtaìnground.And
hìs mothcr appcars, thc much-rammcd stakc aboutwhìch thc
landìngchìld wìnds thc ropc oIhìs gazc.
Untid lhild. -Lachstonchc bnds, cach ßowcr pìckcd and cach
buttcrßy caught ìs alrcady thc start oIa collcctìon, and cvcry
sìnglc thìng hc owns makcs uponcgrcat collcctìon. In hìm thìs
passìon shows ìts truc Iacc, thc stcrn I ndìan cxprcssìon whìch
lìngcrson, butwìthadìmmcdand manìcglow,ìnantìquarìans,
rcscarchcrs, bìblìomanìacs. Scarccly hashccntcrcd lìIc thanhc
ìsa huntcr. Hchuntsthcspìrìtswhosc tracchcsccntsìnthìngs ,
bctwccn spìrìts and thìngs ycan arc passcd ìnwhìch hìs bcldoI
vìsìon rcmaìns Ircc oIpcoplc. His lìIcislìkca drcam. hc knows
nothìng lastìng, cvcrythìng sccmìngly happcns to hìm by
chancc. Hìs nomad-ycarsarchoursìn thc IorcstoIdrcam. To ìt
7
4
hc dragshomc hìsbooty, to purì[ìt,sccurcìt, castoutìtsspcll.
Hìsdrawcnmustbccomc arscnal andzoo,crìmc muscumand
crypt. 'To tìdy up¨ would b to dcmolìsh an cdìhcc Iull oI
prìckly chcstnuts that arc spìky clubs, tìnIoìl that ìs hoardcd
sìlvcr, brìcks that arc comns, cactì that arc totcm-polcs and
coppcr pcnnìc thatarcshìclds. Thcchìldhalongsìncchclpcd
at hìs mothcr's lìncn-cupboard, hìs Iathcr's bookshclvcs, whìlc
ìn hìs own domaìnhcìs stìll a sporadìc, warlìkcvìsìtor.
Child hiding. -He alrcady knows all thc hìdìng placcs ìn thc
apartmcnt and rcturns tothcmastoahouscwhcrc cvcrythìng
ìssurctobjustaìtwas. Hìshcartpounds,hc holdshìsbrcath.
HcrchciscncloscdìnthcworldoImattcr.ltbccomcsìmmcnscly
dìstìnct,spccchlcsslyobtrusìvc. lnsuchmanncrdocamanwho
ìs bcìng hangcdbccomcawarc oIthcrcalìtyoIropcand wood.
Standìng bchìnd thc doorwaycurtaìn, thc chìld bccomcs hìm-
sclIsomcthìng ñoatìng and whìtc, a ghost. Thc dìnìng tablc
undcrwhìchhcìscrouchìngturnshìmìntothcy oodcnìdolìna
tcmplc whosc Iour pìllars arc thc carvcd lcgs. And bchìnd a
door hc ìs hìmsclI door, wcars ìt as hìs hcavy mask and as a
shaman wìll bcwìtch all thosc who unsuspcctìngly cntcr. Atno
costmusthc b Iound. WhcnhcpullsIaccs, hc ìs told, thcclock
nccd only strìkc and hc wìll rcmaìn so. Thc clcmcnt oItruthìn
thìshc hndsoutìnhìshìdìngplacc. Anyonc who dìscovcrs hìm
can pctrì[ hìm as an ìdol undcr thc tablc, wcavc hìm Iorcvcr
as a ghost ìnto thc curtaìn, banìsh hìm Ior lìIc ìnto thc hcavy
door. Andso, atthc scckcr`s touchhcdrìvcsoutwìthaloudcry
thcdcmonwho has m transIormcdhìm÷ìndccd,wìthoutwaìt-
ìng Ior thc momcnt oIdìscovcry, hc grab thc huntcr wìth a
shout oI sclI-dclìvcrancc. That ìs why hc doc not tirc oI thc
strugglc wìth thc dcmon. ln thìs strugglc thc apartmcnt ìs thc
arscnaloIhìsmasks. Yctoncccachycar,ìnmystcrìousplaccs,ìn
thcìrcmpty cyc-sockcts, thcìrhxcd mouths, prcscnulìc. Magìc
dìscovcrybccomcsscìcncc.Aìtscngìnccrthcchìlddìscnchants
thcgloomyparcntal apartmcnt andlooksIor Lastcr cggs.
One- Way Street 75
ANTIQUES
Medallion. -In cvcrythìng that ìs with rcason callcd bcautìIul,
appcarancchas a paradoxìcal cñcct.
Prayer-wheel. -Only ìmagc ìn thc mìnd vìtalìzc thc wìll. Thc
mcrcword,bycontrast,atmostìnñamcìt,tolcavcìtsmouldcr-
ìng, blastcd. Thcrc ìs no ìntact wìll wìthout cxact pictorìal
ìmagìnatìon.Noìmagìnatìonwìthoutinncrvation. Nowbrcath-
ìngìsthclattcr`smostdclìcatcrcgulator. ThcsoundoIIormulac
ìs a canon oIsuch brcathìng. Hcncc thc practìccoImcdìtatìng
Yoga, whìch brcathcs ìn accord wìth thc holy syllablcs. Hcncc
ìtsomnìpotcncc.
Antique spoon. ÷Òncthìngìsrcscrvcdtothcgrcatcstcpìcwrìtcrs .
thc capacìty to Iccd thcìr hcrocs.
Old map. -In a lovc añaìr most scck an ctcrnal homcland.
Òthcrs, butvcryIcw, ctcrnalvoyagìng.Thcsclattcrarcmclan-
cholìcs, Ior whom coutact wìth mothcrcarthìs to b shunncd.
Thcy scck thc pcrson who wìlI kccp Iar Irom thcm thc homc-
land`s sadncss. To that pcrson thcy rcmaìn IaìthIul. Thc
mcdìcval complcxìon-books undcrstoo thc ycarnìng oI thìs
human typc Ior longjourncys.
Fan. -Thc Iollowìng cxpcrìcncc wìll b Iamìlìar. ìIonc ìs ìn
lovc, or just ìntcnscly prcoccupìcd wìth anothcr, hìs portraìt
wìllappcarìnalmostcvcrybook. Morcovcr,hcappcars asboth
protagonìst and antagonìst. ln storìcs, novcls, and novcllas hc
is cncountcrcd ìn cndlcs mctamorphoscs. AndIrom thìsìtIol-
lows that thcIacultyoIìmagìnatìon ìsthcgìh oIìntcrpolatìng
ìnto thc ìnbnìtcly small, oI ìnvcntìng, Ior cvcry ìntcnsìty, an
cxtcnsìvcncss tocontaìnìts ncw, comprcsscd Iullncss, ìnshort,
oIrcccìvìngcachìmagcaìIìtwcrcthatoIthcIoldcdIan,whìch
only ìn sprcadìng draws brcath and ñourìshcs, ìn ìts ncw cx-
pansc, thc bclovcd Icaturcswìthìn ìt.

Kc/iq÷Ònc ìs wìth thc woman onc lovcs, spcaks wìth hcr.
Thcn, wccks or months latcr, scparatcd Irom hcr, onc thìnks
agaìn oIwhat wa talkcd oI thcn. And now thc motìIsccms
banal, tawdry, shallow, and onc rcalìzc that ìtwa shc alonc,
bcndìng low ovcr ìt wìth lovc, who shadcd and shcltcrcd ìt
bcIorc us, m that thc thought wa alìvc ìn all ìts Iolds and
crcvìcc lìkc a rclìcI. Alonc, a now, wc scc ìt lìc ßat, bcrcItoI
comIort andshadow, ìn thclìghtoIourknowlcdgc.
Tcrsc. ÷Ònly hc who can vìcw hìs own past as an abortìon
sprungIromcompulsìonandnccdcanuscìttoIulladvantagcìn
thcprcscnt. Iorwhat onc has lìvcdìs at bcstcomparablc to a
bcautìIul statuc whìch has had all ìts lìmbs knockcd oñ ìn
transìt, and nowyìclds nothìng but thc prccìous block out oI
whìchthc ìmagcoIonc'sIuturc must b hcwn.
WATCHMAKER AND JEWELLER
Hcwho,awakcanddrcsscd,pcrhapswhìlchìkìng,wìtncsscsthc
sunrìsc, prcscrvc allday bcIorc othcn thc scrcnìty oIonc ìn-
vìsìbly crowncd, andhcwhosccdaybrcakwhìlcworkìngIccls
at mìdday a uhc hahìmsclIplaccd thìs crown upon hìshcad.
lìkc a clock oIlìIc on whìch thc scconds racc, thc pagc-
numbcrhangs ovcrthccharactcnìnanovcl. Whìchrcadcrhas
notoncclìItcd toìta ßcctìng, IcarIul glancc?
I drcamt thatI wawalkìng÷ancwly-hatchcdprìvatctutor
÷convcrsìng collcgìally wìth Rocthc, through thc spacìous
roomsoIa muscumwhosccurator hc was. Whìlc hc talksìnan
adjoìnìngroom wìthan cmploycc,I gouptoa glas showcasc.
Inìt,bcsìdcothcrlcsscrobjccts,standsamctallìcorcnamcllcd,
dullyshìnìng, almostlìIc-sìzcbustoIawoman, notdìssìmìlarto
lconardo`s Ilora ìn thc Bcrlìn Muscum. Thc mouth oI thìs
goldcnhcad ìs opcn, and ovcrthclowcrtccthjcwcllcry, partly
One- Way Street
77
hangìng Irom thc mouth, u sprcadat mcasurcd ìntcrvals. I was
ìn no doubt that thìs was a clock. ÷¸Ðrcam-motìIs . blushìng
jScham-Rocthc¡ , Morgenstund hat Gold im Munde jGcrman
sayìng. thc mornìng hour hasgoldìn ìts mouth, ì. c. 'thccarly
bìrd catchcs thc worm`÷tr. | , 'Í tete, avec l'ama d sa criniere
sombre 1 Et d ses biou prcieux ,I Sur la table d nuit, comme une
renoncule,IRepose". jThc hcad, hcapcd wìth ìts dark manc and
prccìous jcwcls, rcsts on thc nìght-tablc lìkc a ranunculus.|
Baudclaìrc.)
ARC LAMP
ThconlywayoIknowìngapcrsonìstolovc thcmwìthouthopc. \
LOGGIA
Geranium. -Two pcoplc whoarcìn lovc arc attachcd abovc all
clsc to thcìr namcs.
Carthusian pink. -Tothc|ovcr thclovcd oncappcars always as
solìtary.
Asphodelv -Bchìnd somconc who u lovcd, thc abyssoIscxualìty
closcslìkc thatoIthc Iamìly.
Cactus bloom. -Thc truly lovìng pcrson dclìghts ìn bndìng thc
bclovcd, arguìng, ìn thcwrong.
Forget-me-not. -Memory alwayssccs thc lovcd oncsmallcr.
Foliage plant. -Should an obstaclc prcvcnt union, at oncc thc
IantasyoIa contcntcd, sharcd old agcL at hand.
;8
LOST-PROPERTY OFFICE
Articles lost. ÷Whatmakcs thc vcry hrstglìmpsc oIa vìllagc, a
town, ìn thc landscapc soìncomparablcand ìrrctrìcvablcìs thc
rìgorous conncctìon bctwccn Iorcground and dìstancc. Habìt
has notyctdoncìts work. ^ soon a wc bcgìntohndourbcar-
ìngs, thc landscapc vanìshc at a strokc lìkc thc Iaçadc oI a
housc a wc cntcr ìt. lt has not yct gaìncd prcpondcrancc
through a constant cxploratìon that has bccomc habìt. Òncc
wcbcgìntohndourwayabout, thatcarlìcstpìcturccanncvcr
bc rcstorcd.
Articles found. ÷Thc bluc dìstancc thatncvcrgìvc way toIorc-
ground or dìssolvcs at our approach, whìch L not rcvcalcd
sprcad-caglc and long-wìndcd whcn rcachcd but only looms
morc compact and thrcatcnìng, ìs thc paìntcd dìstancc oI a
backdrop. !t ìs what gìvcs stagc scts thcìr ìncomparablc
atmosphcrc.
HALT FOR NOT MORE THAN THREE CABS
! stoo Ior tcnmìnutcswaìtìng Ior an omnìbus. 'l' !ntran . . .
Parìs-Soìr . . . la lìbcrtc`, a ncwspapcr vcndor callcd ìnccs-
santly ìn an unvaryìng tonc bchìnd mc. 'l' !ntran . . . Parìs-
Soìr . . . la lìbcrtc`÷a thrcc-corncrcd ccll ìn a hard-labour
prìson. ! saw bcIorc mc howblcakthc corncrs wcrc.
! sawìnadrcam'ahouscoIìllrcputc`. 'Ahotclìnwhìchan
anìmal ìs spoìlcd. Practìcally cvcryonc drìnks only spoìlcd
anìmal-watcr.¨ ! drcamt ìn thcsc words and atoncc wokcwìth
a start. Through cxccssìvc Iatìguc ! had thrown mysclIon my
bcd ìn my clothcìn thc brìghtly-lìtroom, and had at oncc, Ior
a Icw scconds, Iallcn aslccp.
Thcrc L ìn tcncmcnt blocks a musìc oIsuch dcathly-sad
wantonncs thatonc cannot bclìcvcìt tob Ior thc playcr . ìtìs
musìc Ior thc Iurnìshcd rooms whcrc on Sundays somconc sìts
One- Way Street 79
ìnthoughuthatarc soongarnìshcdwìth thcsc notcslìkcabowl
oIovcr-ripc Iruìtwithwithcrcdlcavcs.
MONUMENT TO A WARRIOR
Karl Kraus. ÷Nothìngmorcdcsolatìngthanhisacolytcs,nothìng
morcgod-Iorsakcnthanhìsadvcrsarìcs.Nonamcthatwouldbc
morc bttìngly honourcd by sìlcncc. Inancìcnt armour, wrath-
Iully grìnnìng, a Chìncsc ìdol, brandìshìng drawn swords ìn
cach hand, hc danccsawar-dancc bcIorc thcburìalvaultoIthc
Gcrmanlanguagc. Hc, 'mcrclyoncoIthc cpìgoncthatlìvcìn
thcoldhouscoIlanguagc`, has bccomc thcscalcroIìts tomb.
In day and nìght watchcs hc cndurcs. No post was cvcr morc
loyallyhcld, andnonccvcrwasmorchopclcsslylost.Hcrcstands
onc who Ictchcswatcr Irom thc tcar-scaoIhìs contcmporarìcs
lìkcaÐanaìdc, andIromwhoschandsthcrockwhìchistobury
his cncmics rollslìkc thatoISìsyphus. What morc hclplcsthan
hìsconvcrsìon?Whatmorcpowcrlcssthanhìshumanìty?What
morc hopclcss than hìs battlc wìth thc prcss? What docs hc
knowoIthcpowcrsthatarchìstrucallics ?ButwhatvìsìonoIthc
ncw sccn bcars comparìson wìth thc lìstcnìng oIthìs shaman,
whosc uttcranccs cvcna dcIunct languagc ìnspìrcs? Who cvcr
conjurcd up a spìrìt as Kraus dìd ìn thc 'Iorsakcn`, as ìI
'BIcsscdYcarnìng¨hadncvcrbccncomposcd?Hclplcssasonly
spìrìts` voìccs arc whcn summoncd up, a murmur Irom thc
chthonìc dcpths oIlanguagc ìs thc sourcc oIhis soothsayìng.
Lvcry sound ìs ìncomparably gcnuìnc, but thcy all lcavc us
bcwìldcrcdlìkc mcssagcsIromthcbcyond.Blìndlìkc thcmancs
languagc calls hìm to vcngcancc, as narrow-mìndcd a spìrìts
thatknowonlythcvoìccoIthcblood, whocarcnotwhathavoc
thcy wrcak ìn thc rcalm oIthc lìvìng. Buthc cannot crr. Thcìr
commands arc ìnIallìblc. Whocvcr trìc hìs arm wìth hìm ìs
condcmncd alrcady. ìn thìs mouth thc advcrsary`s namc itsclI
bccomcsajudgcmcnt. Whcnhìslìps part, thc colourlcs ñamc
oIwìt darts Iorth. And nonc who walks thc paths oIlìIc would
80
comcuponhìm. Ònan archaìchcldoIhonour,agìgantìcbattlc-
ground oIbloodylabour, hc ragcs bcIorc adcscrtcdscpulchrc.
Thchonoursathìsdcathwìllbcìmmcasurablc,andthclastthat
arc bcstowcd.
FIRE ALARM
ThcnotìonoIthcclasswarcanbcmìslcadìng. ItdocsnotrcIcr
toatrìaloIstrcngthtodccìdcthcqucstìon 'Who shall wìn, who
bcdcIcatcd!`,ortoastrugglc thcoutcomc oIwhìchLgood Ior
thcvìctorandbadIorthcvanquìshcd.To thìnkìnthìswayìsto
romantìcìzc andobscurc thc Iacts. Ior whcthcr thc bourgcoìsìc
wìns or loscs thc hght, ìt rcmaìns doomcd by thc ìnncr contra-
dìctìons thatìn thc coursc oIdcvclopmcnt wìll bccomc dcadly.
Thc only qucstìon ìs whcthcr ìts downIall wìll comc through
ìtsclIor through thc prolctarìat. Thc contìnuanccorthccnd oI
thrccthousandycarsoIculturaldcvclopmcntwìllbcdccìdcdby
thc answcr. HìstoryknowsnothìngoIthc cvìlìnhnìtycontaìncd
ìn thcìmagcoIthctwowrcstlcrslockcdìnctcrnalcombat.Thc
trucpolìtìcìanrcckonsonlyìn datcs.AndìIthcabolìtìonoIthc
bourgcoìsìcìsnotcomplctcdbyanalmostcalculablcmomcntìn
cconomìc and tcchnìcal dcvclopmcnt ¸a momcnt sìgnallcd by
ìnßatìon and poìson-gas warIarc), all ìs lost. BcIorc thc spark
rcachc thc dynamìtc, thc Iìghtcd Iusc must b cut. Thc ìntcr-
vcntìons, dangcrs, and tcmpì oIpolìtìcìans arc tcchnìcal÷not
chìvalrous.
TRAVEL SOUVENIRS
Atrani. -Thcgcntly rìsìng, curvcd baroquc staìrcasclcadìngto
thc church. Thc raìlìng bchìnd thc church. Thc lìtanìcs oIthc
old womcn at thc 'Avc Marìa` . prcparìng to dìc hrst-class. II
you tunaround, thcchurchvcrgcslìkcGod HìmsclIonthcsca.
LachmornìngthcChrìstìanLracrumblcsthcrock,butbctwccn
One- Way Street 81
tbc wallsbclow, tbc nìgbtIalls always ìnto tbc IouroldRoman
quartcrs.AllcywayslìkcaìrsbaIìs.Awcllìntbcmarkct-placc.In
tbclatc aIìcrnoon womcn aboutìt. Tbcn, ìn solìtudc. arcbaìc
plasbìng.
Navy. -Tbc bcautyoItbc tall saìlìngsbìps ìs unìquc. Not only
bas tbcìr outlìnc rcmaìncd uncbangcd Ior ccnturìcs, but also
tbcy appcar ìn tbc most ìmmutablc landscapc . at sca, sìl-
boucttcd agaìnst tbc borìzon.
Versailles Fafade. -It ìsasìItbìschateau badbccnIorgottcnwbcrc
bundrcdsoIycarsagoìtwas placcdPar Ordre r Ro Ior onlytwo
boursastbc movablcsccncryIorajeerie. ÒIìts splcndourìtkccps
noncIorìtsclI gìvìngìtundìvìdcdtotbatroyalcondìtìonwbìcb
ìt concludcs. BcIorc tbìs backdrop ìt bccomcs a stagc on wbìcb
tbc tragcdy oIabsolutc monarcby was pcrIormcd as an allc-
gorìcalballct. YcttodayìtìsonlytbcwallìntbcsbadcoIwbìcb
onc sccks to cnjoy tbc prospcct ìnto bluc dìstancc crcatcd by
lcNðtrc.
Heidelberg Castle. -Ruìnsjuttìngìntotbcskycanappcardoubly
bcautìIul on clcar days wbcn, ìn tbcìr wìndows or abovc tbcìr
contours, tbcgazc mccupassìngclouds. Tbrougb tbc transìrnt
spcctaclc ìtopcns ìn tbc sky, dcstructìon rcamrms tbc ctcrnìty
oItbcsc Iallcn stoncs.
Seville, Alcazar. -A arcbìtccturc tbat Iollows Iantasy`s hrst
ìmpulsc. lt ìs undcßcctcd by practìcal consìdcratìons. Tbcsc
rooms provìdconlyIor drcams andIcstìvìtìcs, tbcìrconsumma-
tìon. Hcrc dancc and sìlcncc bccomc tbc leitmotis, sìncc all
buman movcmcnt ìs absorbcd by tbc soundlcs tumult oItbc
ornamcnt.
Marseilles, Cathedral. -On tbc lcastIrcqucntcd, sunnìcst squarc
stands tbc catbcdral. Tbis placc ìs dcscrtcd, dcspìtc tbc proxì-
mìty at ìts Icct oIlajolìcttc, tbc barbour, to tbc soutb, and a
prolctarìan dìstrìct to thc north. ^ a rcloadìng poìnt Ior
ìntangìblc, unIathomablc goods, thc blcak buìldìng stands
bctwccnquay andwarchousc. Ncarly Iortyycanwcrc spcnton
ìt. But whcnallwascomplctc,ìn t 8
µ¸
,placc and tìmc hadcon-
spìrcd vìctorìously ìn thìs monumcnt agaìnst ìts archìtccts and
sponsors,andthcwcalthoIthcclcrgyhadgìvcnrìsctoagìgantìc
raìlway statìon that could ncvcr b opcncd to tramc. Thc
Iaçadc gìvc an ìndìcatìon oIthc waìtìng rooms wìthìn, whcrc
passcngcn oIthcbrsttoIourthclasscs ¸ though bcIorc Go thcy
arc all cqual), wcdgcd among thcir spìrìtual posscssìons as
bctwccn cascs, sìt rcadìng hymnbooks that, wìth thcìr con-
cordanccandcrossrcIcrcnccs,lookvcrymuchlìkcìntcrnatìonal
tìmctablcs. Lxtracu Irom thc raìlwaytramcrcgulatìonsìnthc
IormoIpastorallcttcnhangonthcwalls, tarìñsIor thcdìscount
on spccìal trìps ìn Satan`s luxury traìn arc consultcd, and
cabincts whcrc thc long-dìstancc travcllcr can dìscrcctly wash
arc kcpt ìn rcadìncs a conIcssìonals. Thìs ìs thc Marscìllcs
rclìgìon statìon. Slccpìng cars to ctcrnìty dcpart Irom hcrc at
Mass tìmcs.
Freiburg Minster. -ThcspccìalscnscoIa town ìsIormcdìnpart
Ior ìu ìnhabìtants÷and pcrhaps cvcn ìn thc mcmory oI thc
travcllcr who has staycd thcrc÷by thc tìmbrc and ìntcrvals
wìth whìch ìts towcr-clocks bcgìn to chìmc.
Moscow, St Basifs. -What thc Byzantìnc madonna carrìcs on
hcr arm ìs only a lìIc-sìzc woodcn doll. Hcr cxprcssìon oIpaìn
bcIorca Chrìstwhoscchìldhoorcmaìnsonlysuggcstcd, rcprc-
scntcd, ìs morc ìntcnsc than any shc could dìsplay wìth a
rcalìstìc ìmagc oIa boy.
Boscotrecase. ÷Thc dìstìnctìonoIthc stonc-pìnc Iorcst . ìts rooIìs
Iormcd wìthoutìntcrlaccmcnts.
Naples, Museo Nazionale. -Archaic statucs oñcr ìn thcìr smìlcs
thcconscìousncsoIthcìrbodìctothconlookcr, aachìldholds
One- Way Street 83
out to us Ircshly pìckcd ñowcrs untìcd and unarrangcd, latcr
art lacc ìts cxprcssìons morc tìghtly, lìkc thc adult who bìnds
thc lastìng bouquct wìth cuttìnggrasscs.
Florence, Baptistry. -On thc portal thc 'Spcs" by Andrca dc
Pìsano. Sìttìng, shc hclplcsslystrctchcs hcrarnsIor aIruìtthat
rcmaìns bcyond hcr rcach. And yct shc ìs wìngcd. Nothìngìs
morc truc.
Sky. -As l stcppcdIrom a houscìn a drcam thcnìghtskymct
mycycs. ltshcdìntcnsc radìancc. Iorìn thisplcnìtudc oIstars
thc ìmagcs oI thc constcllatìons stoo scnsuously prcscnt. A
lìon, a Maìdcn, a Scalc and many othcrs shonc lìvìdly down,
dcnscclustcrsoIstars, uponthccarth. Nomoonwastobsccn.
OPTICIAN
Insummcr Iat pcoplcarcconspìcuous, ìn wìntcr thìn.
Insprìng attcntìonìs caught, ìn brìghtsunshìnc,bythcyoung
Iolìagc, ìn cold raìn by thc stìll lcañcs branchcs.
How a convìvìal cvcnìng has passcd can b sccn by somconc
rcmaìnìng bchìnd Irom thc dìsposìtìon oI platcs and cups,
glassc and Iood, ata glancc.
Iìrst prìncìplc oIwooìng. to makc oncsclIscvcnIold, to placc
oncsclIscvcnIold about thc woman who is dcsìrcd.
Inthc cyc wc sccpcoplcto thc lccs.
Toys
Cut-out models. -Booths havc put ìn lìkc rockìngcraIt to both
sìdcs oI thc stoncjctty on whìch thc pcoplc jostlc. Thcrc arc
saìlìng vcsscls wìth hìgh masu Irom whìch hang pcnnants,
stcamcrswìthsmokcrìsìngIromthcìrIunncls, bargcthat kccp
thcìr cargoc long stowcd. Among thcm arc shìps ìnto whìch
onc vanìshcs, only mcn arc admìttcd, but through hatchways
you can scc womcn's arms, vcìls, pcacock-Icathcrs. Llscwhcrc
cxotìc pcoplc stand on thc dcck apparcntly tryìng to Irìghtcn
thc publìc away wìth ccccntrìc musìc. But wìth what ìn-
dìñcrcncc ìs ìt not rcccìvcd. You clìmb up hcsìtantly, wìth a
broad rollìnggaìt as on shìps' staìrways, and aslonga you arc
aloItyou rcalìzc that thc wholc is cutoñIrom thc shorc. Thosc
whorc-cmcrgc Irom bclow, tacìtunandbcnumbcd,havcsccn,
on rcd scalc whcrc dycd alcohol rìsc and Ialls, thcìr own
marrìagccomcìntobcìngandccasctobc, thcycllowmanwho
bcganwooìngatthcIootoIthìsscalc,atthctopoIìtdcscrtcdhìs
blucwìIc. Inmìrronthcyhavcsccnthcñoormcltawaybcncath
thcìr Icct lìkc watcr, and stumblcd ìnto thc opcn on rollìng
staìrways. Into thc quartcr thc ñcct has brought unrcst . thc
womcn and gìrls on board havc brazcn aìrs, and cvcrythìng
cdìblc has bccn takcn aboard ìn thc landoIìdlc luxury. Òncìs
m totally cut oñby thc occan that cvcrythìng ìs cncountcrcd
hcrcauatonccIor thchrstandthclasttìmc. Sca-lìons,dwarIs
and dogs arc prcscrvcd a ìn an ark. Lvcn thc raìlway hasbccn
brought ìn oncc and Ior all, and cìrculatcs cndlcssly througha
tunncl. Ior a Icw days thc quartcr ha bccomc thc port oIa
south-sca ìsland, ìu ìnhabìtants savagc swoonìng ìn covctous
wondcrmcnt bcIorc thc thìngs that Luropc tossc at thcìrIcct.
Targets. -Thc landscapcs oI shootìng-rangc ìn Iaìrground
booths oughtto bc dcscrìbcd collcctìvcly a a corpus. Thcrcìs,
Ior cxamplc, a polar wastc agaìnst whìch arc sct bundlcs oI
whìtc clay-pìpcs, thc targcts, radìatìnglìkcspokcs. Bchìndthìs,
andbcIorcanunartìculatcdstrìpoIwoodland, twoIorcstcrsarc
paìntcd, whìlc rìght at thc Iront, ìn thc manncr oImovablc
sccncry, arc two sircns wìth provocatìvc brcasts ìn oìl colours.
Llscwhcrc pìpcs brìstlc Irom thc haìroIwomcn who arc scldom
paìntcd wìth skìrts, usually ìn tìghts. Òr thcy protrudc Irom a
One- Way Street 85
Ian thcy sprcad ìn thcìr hands. Movìng pìpc rcvolvc slowly ìn
thc Iurthcr rcgìons oI thc clay-pìgcon booths. Òthcr stands
prcscnt thcatrìcals dìrcctcd by thcspcctatorwìth hìs rìßc. lIhc
hìu thcbull` s-cycthcpcrIormanccstarts.Ònoncoccasìonthcrc
wcrc thìrty-sìx such boxcs and abovc thc stagc oI cach was
wrìttcn what thcy hcld ìn storc . "Jeann d'Arc m prison",
"L'hospitalite", "Les rues d Paris". Ònanothcrbooth. "Execution
capitale". ln Iront oI thc closcd gatc a guìllotìnc, ajudgc ìn a
black robc and a prìcst holdìng a crucìhx. lIthc shot hìts thc
mark thc gatc opcns and a board ìs cxtcndcd on whìch thc
mìscrcant stands bctwccn two polìccmcn. Hc placc hìs ncck
automatìcally undcr thc bladc and ìs dccapìtatcd. lnthcsamc
way. "Les delices d mariage". A pcnurìous ìntcrìor opcns. Thc
Iathcr ìs sccn ìn thc mìddlc oIthc room holdìng a chìld on hìs
knccandwìthhìsIrcchandrockìngacradlccontaìnìnganothcr.
"L' Enfer" ÷whcn ìts gatcs part a dcvìl ìs sccn tormcntìng a
wrctchcd soul. Ncxttohìm anothcrìsdraggìngaprìcsttowards
acauldronìnwhìchthcdamncdmuststcw."L bagne" ¡'clìnk'¡
÷a door wìtha gaolcr ìn IrontoIìt. Whcnthc targct ìs hìthc
pullsa bcll-cord. Thc bcllrìngs, thc door opcns. Twoconvìcts
arcsccnmanhandlìngabìgwhccL Thcysccmtohavctoturnìt.
Yct anothcr constcllatìon. a hddlcr wìth hìs dancìng bcar.
Whcn you shoot succcssIully thc bow movcs.Thc bcar bcats a
drumwìth hìspawandlìIts onclcg. ÒncthìnksoIthcIaìry-talc
oIthcbravclìttlctaìlor,andcouldalsoìmagìncSlccpìngBcauty
awakcncdwìthashot, Snow WhìtcIrccdoIthc applcbyashot
orlìttlc Rcd Rìdìng-Hoo rclcascd byashot. Thcshotbrcaks
ìn magìcally upon thc cxìstcncc oI thc puppcts wìth that
curatìvc powcrthat hcwsthc hcads Irom monstcrs and rcvcals
thcm to bcprìnccsscs. ^ìsthccascwìth thcgrcatdoorwìthout
anìnscrìptìon. ìIyouhavchìtthc markìtopcns and bcIorc rcd
plush curtaìns stands a Moor who sccms to bow slìghtly. Hc
holds ìn Iront oIhìm a goldcn bowl. Òn ìt lìc thrcc Iruìt. Thc
brst opcns and a tìny pcrson stands ìnsìdc ìt and bows. ln thc
sccondtwocquallydìmìnutìvcpuppctsrcvolvcìnadancc. ¸Thc
thìrd dìd not opcn.) Bclow, ìn Iront oIthc tablc on whìch thc
86
rcmaìnìng sccncry stands, a small horscman wìth thc ìnscrìp-
tìon. "Rout minee" . IIyou hìt thc bull's-cyc thcrc La bangand
thcrìdcrsomcrsaultswìthhìshorsc,butstays÷nccdlcsstosay
ìn thcsaddlc
SteÏeoòlo]e. ÷Rìga. Thc daìly markct, a huddlìng cìty oIlow
woodcn booths, strctchc along thcjctty, a broad, dìrty stonc
cmbankmcntwìthoutwarchousc buìldìngs, bythcwatcrsoIthc
Ðvìna. Small stcamcrs, oûcn showìng no morc than thcìr
Iunnclsabovcthcquaywall, havc putìn at thc blackìshdwarI-
town. ¸Thclargcrshìpsarcmoorcddownstrcam. ) Grìmyboards
arc thc clay-grcy Ioundatìonon whìch, glowìng ìn thccold aìr,
sparsc colours mclt. At somc corncn thcrc stand all thc ycar
round, alongsìdc huts Ior bsh, mcat, boots and clothcs, pctty-
bourgcois womcn wìth thc colourcd papcr rods that pcnctratc
a Iar as thc Wcst only at Chrìstmas-tìmc. lìkc bcìng scoldcd
bythcmost-lovcdvoìcc÷sucharcthcscrods. IoraIcwcoppcrs
multì-colourcd chastìsìng swìtchcs. At thc cnd oI thc jctty,
IcnccdoñandonlythìrtypaccsIromthcwatcr,arcthcrcd-and-
whìtc mounds oI thc applc-markct. Thc applc on salc arc
packcd ìnstraw, thoscsold lìc wìthoutstrawìn thc houscwìvcs'
baskcts. A dark-rcd church rìsc bcyond, outshonc ìn thcIrcsh
Novcmbcr aìr by thc chccks oIthc applcs. ÷Scvcral shops Ior
boatìng-tacklcìnsmall houscsncarthcjctty. Ropcsarc paìntcd
on thcm. Lvcrywhcrc you sccwarcs dcpìctcd on sìgnboardsor
on housc-walls. Òncshopìnthc town hacascand bcltslargcr
thanlìIcon ìubarcbrìckwalls.Alowcorncr-houscwìthashop
Ior corsctsandmìllìncryìsdccoratcd wìth ladìcs' Iaccscomplctc
wìth hncry, and scvcrc bodìcc paìntcd on a ycllow-ochrc
ground. ProtrudìngIromìt atananglcìsa lantcn wìthsìmìlar
pìcturcs on ìu glas pancs. Thc wholc ìs lìkc thc Iaçadc oIa
Iantasy-brothcl. Anothcr housc, lìkcwìsc not Iar Irom thc har-
bour, hassugar-sacksandcoalìngrcyand blackrclìcIonagrcy
wall. Somcwhcrc clsc shocs raìn Irom horns oI plcnty. Iron-
mongcry ìs paìntcd ìn dctaìl, hammcrs, cogs, plìcn and thc
tìnìcst scrcws on onc board thatlookslìkc a pagc Irom anout-
One- Way Street 87
modcd chìld`s paìntìng-book. Wìth such pìcturc thc town ìs
pcrmcatcd. Bctwccn thcm, howcvcr, rìsc tall, Iortrcss-lìkc
dcsolatc buìldìngs cvokìng all thctcrrorsoITsarìsm.
Not for sale. ÷A mcchanìcal cabìnct atthc Iaìr atlucca. Thc
cxhìbìtìon ìs accommodatcd ìn a long symmctrìcally-dìvìdcd
tcnt.AIcw stcplcad uptoìt. Thcsìgnboardshowsatablcwìth
aIcw motìonIcs puppcts. Youcntcrthc tcnt by thc rìght-hand
opcnìngandlcavcìtbythclcIt. lnthcbrìghtìntcrìortwotablcs
cxtcnd towards thc back. Thcy touchwìth thcìr ìnncrcdgcsso
thatonlyanarrowspaccìslchtowalkround thcm. Bothtablcs
arclow andglass-covcrcd. Òn thcmstandthc puppcts ¸ twcnty
totwcnty-hvcccntìmctrchìghonavcragc), whìlcìnthcìrlowcr
conccaIcd part thc clockwork that drìvc thcm tìcks audìbly.
AnarrowraìscdboardIor chìldrcn rum alongthc sìdcsoIthc
tablcs. Thcrc arc dìstortìng mìrron on thc waIls. ÷Ncxt to thc
cntrancc prìnccly pcrsonagc arc to b sccn. Lach oI thcm
makca partìculargcsturc . oncaspacìous, ìnvìtìngmovcmcnt
wìththcrìghtorlcharm,anothcraswìvcllìngoIhLglassycycs ,
somc roll thcìr cyc and movc thcìr arms at thc samc tìmc.
Iranzjoscphstandsthcrc, Pìus lX, cnthroncd andñankcdby
two cardìnals, _uccn Llcna oIltaly, thc Sultancss, Wìlhclm l
on horscback,asmal! NapoIcon lllandancvcn smalIcrVìctor
Lmmanucl Ü Crown Prìncc. Bìblìcal hgurìnc IoIlow, thcnthc
Passìon.HcrodordcnthcslaughtcroIthcìnIantswìthmanìIold
movcmcnuoIthchcad.Hcopcnshìsmouthwìdcwhìlcnoddìng,
cxtcndsandlctsIallhìsarm.TwocxccutìoncrsstandbcIorchìm,
onc Ircc-whccIìng wìth a cuttìng sword, a dccapìtatcd chìld
undcr hìs arm, thc othcr, on thc poìnt oI stabbìng, stands
motìonIcss but Ior hìs roIlìng cycs. Andtwomothcnarcthcrc .
onc cndlcsslyand gcntlyshakìnghcrhcadIìkca dcprcssìvc, thc
othcrraìsìnghcrarmssIowly, bcsccchìngly. ÷Thcnaìlìngtothc
cross. ltlìcon thc ground. Thc hìrclìngs hammcr ìn thc naìls.
Chrìstnods . ÷Chrìstcrucìhcd,slakcdbythcspongcoIvìncgar,
whìchasoldìcroñcn hìmm slowjcrks and thcnìnstantlywìth-
draws. Lach tìmc thc Savìour slìghtly raìsc hìs chìn. Irom
88
bchìnd an angcl bcnds ovcr thc cros wìth a chalìcc Ior blood,
holdsìtìnIrontoIthcbodyandthcn,asuìtwcrcbllcd, rcmovcs
ìt. Thc othcr tablc shows gcnrc pìcturcs. Gargantua wìth
dumplìngs. In Iront oIa platc hc shovcls thcm ìnto hìs mouth
wìth both hands, altcrnatcly lìItìng hìs lch arm and hìs rìght.
Each hand holdsa Iork on whìcha dumplìngìs ìmpalcd. ÷An
Alpìnc maìdcn spìnnìng. ÷Two monkcys playìng vìolìns. ÷A
magìcìanhastwobarrcl-lìkccontaìncrsìnIrontoIhìm. Thconc
on thc rìght opcns, and thc top halIoIa lady's body cmcrgcs.
Thconconthclchopcns .homìtrìscshalI-lcngthaman'sbody.
Agaìn thc rìght-hand contaìncr opcns and now a ram's skull
appcanwìththclady`sIacc bctwccnìtshorns. ThcnonthclcIt
a monkcy prcscntsìtsclIìnstcad oIthc man. Thcn ìt all starts
agaìn Irom thc bcgìnnìng. ÷Anothcr magìcìan. hc has a tablc
ìnIrontoIhìmonwhìch hc holds bcakcnupsìdc-downìncach
hand. Lndcr thcm, as hc altcrnatcly lìIts onc thcn thc othcr,
appcars now a loaIor an applc, now a ßowcr or a dìc. ÷Thc
magìc wcll . a Iarm-boy stands hcad-shakìng at a wcll. A gìrl
drawswatcrandthcunIaltcrìng thìck strcam oIglas runsIrom
thc wcll-mouth. ÷Thc cnchantcd lovcrs . a goldcn bush or a
goldcn ñamcparts ìn twowìngs. Wìthìn arc sccn twopuppcts.
Thcytun thcìr Iaccs towards cach othcrand thcn away, as ìI
lookìng at cach othcr ìn conIuscd astonìshmcnt.÷Bclow cach
hgurca smalllabcl. Thcwholc datìngbackto 1 862.
l
fOLYCLINICl
ThcauthorlayshìsìdcaonthcmarblctablcoI thccaIc.lcngthy
mcdìtatìon, IorhcmakcsuscoIthctìmcbcIorc thcarrìvaloIhìs
glass, thc lcns through whìch hc cxamìnc thc patìcnt. Thcn,
dclìbcratcly,hcunpackshìsìnstrumcnts. Iountaìnpcns,pcncìl,
and pìpc. Thc numcrous cIìcntclc, arrangcd a ìn an amphì-
thcatrc,makcuphìsclìnìcalaudìcncc. Coñcc, carcIullypourcd
and consumcd, puu thcìdca undcrchloroIorm. What thìsìdca
maybc ha no morc conncctìonwìth thc mattcrat hand than
One- Way Street 89
the dream of an anaesthetized patient with the surgica| inter-
vention. With the cautious |ineaments of handwriting the
operator make incisions, disp|aces interna| accents, cauterizes
pro|iferations ofwords, inserts aforeign term asa si|verrib. At
|ast the who|e is hne|ystitched togetherwith punctuation, and
he pays the waiter, his assistant, in cash.
/

THIS SPACE FOR RENT
Ip|s|ament the decay of critici�m. Ior its day is |ong past.
Cri

.�
¡

·

_
�¡
tcrof
¸���¿�¡
·
+¦s��� ing. Itwasat homeina
wor|d where perspectives and prospects counted and where it
was sti|| possib|e to take a standpoint. Now things press too
c|ose|y on human society. The 'unc|ouded', 'innocent' eye
hæ become a |ie, perhaps the who|e naïve mode ofexpression
sheer incompetence. Today the most rea|, the mercanti|e gaze ¸
into the heart of things
.
is the advertisement. It
.
abo|ishes the
space where contemp|ation moved and a|| but h:u us between ´ ´´ º

the eyes with things æ a car, growing to gigantic proportions,
careensat us out ofah|m screen. Andjustasthe h|mdoesnot
¸
/ ·´' '.¹ ¯
present furniture and façades in comp|eted forms for critica|
inspection, their insistent, jerky nearness a|one being sensa-
tiona|, the genuine advertisementhurt|ethingsat us with the
temp ofa goo h|m. Thereby 'matter-of-factness" is hna||y
dispatched, and in face ofthe huge image acroæ the wa||s of
houses, where toothpaste and cosmetics |ie handy for giants,
sentimenta|ity is restored to hea|th and |iberated in American
sty|e,justæ peop|ewhom nothingmoveortoucheany|onger
aretaughtto cryagainbyh|ms.Iorthemaninthestreet, how-
ever, it is money that aßects him in this way, brings him into
perceivedcontactwiththings.Andthepaidcritic,manipu|ating
paintings in the dea|er's exhibition room, knows more impor-
tantifnot better things about them thanthe�H |overviewing
them in the showroom window. The warmth ofthe subjectis
communicated to him, stirs sentientsprings. What, in the end,
makcs advcrtìscmcnts so supcrìor to crìtìcìsm! Not what thc
movìngrcdnconsìgnsays÷butthchcrypoolrcßcctìngìtìnthc
asphalt.
OFFICE EQUIPMENT
Thcboss's room brìstlcs wìthwcapons. Thcapparcnt comIort
that dìsarms thosc cntcrìng ìs ìn rcalìty a hìddcn arscnal. A
tclcphoncon thcdcskshrìllsatcvcry momcnt. ltìntcrruptsyou
at thc most ìmportant poìnt and gìvc your opponcnt tìmc to
contrìvc an answcr. Mcanwhìlc snatchc oIconvcrsatìon show
howmanymattcrsarc dcaltwìth hcrc thatarc morcìmportant
than thc onc undcr dìscussìon. You thìnk thìs to yoursclI and
slowlystarttorctrcatIrom your posìtìon.Youbcgìn towondcr
whoìtìsthcyarctalkìngabout,andhcarwìthaIrìghtthatyour
ìntcrlocutor ìs lcavìng tomorrow Ior Brazìl , soon you arc so
muchatoncwìth thchrm thatyourcgrctthcmìgraìnchccom-
plaìns oIon thc tclcphonc a a dìsturbancc oIbusìncss ¸rathcr
than wclcomìng ìt as an opportunìty). Summoncd or un-
summoncd thc sccrctary cntcrs. Shc ìs vcry prctty. And ìIhcr
cmpIoycr ìs cìthcr prooIagaìnst hcr charms or clsc has long
clarìhcd hìs posìtìon a hcr admìrcr, thc ncwcomcr wìll glancc
ovcr at hcrmorc thanoncc, and shcknowshow to tunthìsto
advantagcwìthhcrboss. Hìspcrsonnclarcmmotìonproducìng
card-ìndcxc ìn whìch thc vìsìtor knows hìmsclIto bc cntcrcd
undcrvarìousrubrìcs.Hcstartstotìrc. Thcothcr, wìththclìght
bchìnd hìm, rcads thìs oñthcdazzlìngly ìllumìnatcd Iacc wìth
satìsIactìon. Thcarmchaìr too docs ìts work, you sìtìn ìttìltcd
a Iar back as at thc dcntìst`s, and m hnally acccpt thìs dìs-
comhtìng proccdurc as thc lcgìtìmatc statc oI añaìrs. Thìs
trcatmcnt, too, isIollowcd sooncror latcr bya lìquìdatìon.
MIXED CARGO : CARRIAGE AND PACKING
lnthccarlymornìngl drovcthroughMarscìllcs to thcstatìon,
and as l passcd Iamìlìar placc on myway, and thcn ncw, un-
One- Way Street 91
Iamìlìar oncs or othcrs that l rcmcmbcrcd only vagucly, thc
cìtybccamcabookìnmyhands,ìntowhìchlhurrìcdlyglanccd
a Icw last tìmcs bcIorc ìt passcd Irom my sìght Ior who knows
how long ìntoa warchousc cratc.
CLOSED FOR ALTERATIONS
lnadrcamltookmylìIcwìthagun. Whcnìtwcntonldìdnot
wakcupbutsawmysclIIorawhìlclyìng. Ònlythcndìdlwakc.
"AUGEAS" SELF-SERVICE RESTAURANT
Thìs ìs thc wcìghtìcst objcctìon to thc modc oIlìIc oIthc con-
brmcdbachclor . hc catsbyhìmsclí TakìngIooalonctcndsto
makc onc hard andcoarsc. Thosc accustomcd t ìt must lcada
Spartan lìIc ìIthcyarc notto go downhìll. Hcrmìts havc obscr-
vcd,ìIIoronlythìsrcason,aIrugaldìct. Iorìtìsonlymcompany
thatcatìngìsdoncjustìcc,Ioodmustbdìvìdcdanddìstrìbutcd
ìI ìtìstobwcllrcccìvcd.Nomattcrbywhom.Iormcrlyabcggar
atthc tablc cnrìchcd cachbanquct.Thcsplìttìngupandgìvìng
arc all-ìmportant, not socìablc convcrsatìon. What ìs sur-
prìsìng, on thc othcr hand, ìs that wìthout Iood convìvìalìty
grows prccarìous. Playìng host lcvcls dìñcrcnccs, bìnds to-
gcthcr.ThcCountoISaìnt-GcrmaìnIastcdbcIorcloadcdtablcs,
and by thìs alonc domìnatcd convcrsatìon. Whcn all abstaìn,
howcvcr, rìvalrìcs andconñìctcnsuc.
STAMP SHOP
TosomconclookìngthroughpìlcsoIoldlcttcrsastampthathas
longbccnoutoIcìrculatìonon a ton cnvclopc oItcnsaysmorc
thana rcadìngoIdozcnsoIpagcs. Somctìmc youcomcacross
thcm on postcards and arc unsurc whcthcr you should dctach
9
2
thcm or kccp thc card as ìt ìs, lìkca pagcbyan old mastcrthat
hasdìñcrcntbutcquallyprccìousdrawìngsonbothsìdcs.Thcrc
arcalso, ìnthcglass-cascsoIcaIcs, lcttcrswìthachargc onthcm,
pìllorìcd bcIorcallcycs.Òrhavcthcybccndcportcd, andhavc
to waìt ìn thìs casc Ior ycars, languìshìng on a glass Salas y
Gomcz! lcttcn that rcmaìn long unopcncd takc on a brutal
look, thcy arc dìsìnhcrìtcd, and malìgnantly plot rcvcngc Ior
longdaysoIsuñcrìng. ManyoIthcmlatcrbgurcìnthcwìndows
oIstamp dcalcrs, as cntìrc brandcd ovcr and ovcr wìth post-
marks.
^ìsknown,thcrcarccollcctorswhoconccnthcmsclvcsonly
wìth post-markcd stamps, and ìt would not b dìmcult to
bclìcvcthcmthconlyoncswhohavcpcnctratcdthcsccrct.Thcy
conbnc thcmsclvcs to thc occult part oIthc stamp. thc post-
mark. Ior thc postmark ìs thc dark sìdc oIstamps. Thcrc arc
ccrcmonìous onc that placc a halo about thc hcad oI_uccn
Vìctorìa, and prophctìc oncs that gìvc Humbcrt a martyr's
crown. ButnosadìstìcIantasycancqualthc blackpractìccthat
covcrsIaccswìthwcals,andclcavcsthclandoIcntirccontìncnts
lìkc an carthquakc. And thc pcrvcrsc plcasurc ìn contrastìng
thìs vìolatcd stamp-body wìth ìts whìtc lacc-garnìshcd tullc
drcss . thc scrratcd bordcr. Thc pursucr oI postmarks must
posscss lìkc a dctcctìvc ìnIormatìon on thc most notorìous post
omccs, lìkc an archacologìstthcartoIrcconstructìngthc torsos
oIthc most Iorcìgn placc-namcs, and lìkc a cabbalìstan ìnvcn-
tory oI datc Ior an cntìrc ccntury. Stamp brìstlc wìth tìny
numbcrs, mìnutc lcttcrs, dìmìnutìvc lcavc and cycs. Thcy arc
graphìc ccllular tìssuc. All thìs swarms about and, lìkc lowcr
anìmals, lìvc on cvcn whcn mutìlatcd. Thìs ìs why such
powcrIul pìcturccanbcmadcoIpìcccoIstampstucktogcthcr.
Butìn thcmlìIc bcanalwaysa hìntoIcorruptìontosìgnìIythat
ìt ìs composcd oI dcad mattcr. Thcìr portraìu and obsccnc
group arc lìttcrcd wìth boncs and rìddlcd wìth worms.
ÐothccolourscqucnccsoIthclongsctspcrhapsrcIractthclìght
oIa strangc sun³ Ðìd thc postal mìnìstrìc oIthc Vatìcan or
One- Way Street 93
Ecuador capturc rays unknown to us? And why arc wc not
shown thc stamps oI thc supcrìor plancts? Thc thousand
gradatìonsoIhrc-rcd thatarcìn cìrculatìonon Vcnus, and thc
Iour grcatgrcyshadcs oIMan and thc unnumbcrcd stampsoI
Saturn?
Countrìc and occans onstamps arc onlythcprovìnccs, kìngs
onlythchìrclìngsoInumbcrsthatstccpthcmìn thcìrcoloursat
wìll. Stamp-albumsarcmagìcrcIcrcncc-books, thcnumbcrsoI
monarchsand palaccs, oIanìmals and allcgorìcs andstatcsarc
rccordcd ìn thcm. Postal tramc dcpcnds on thcìr harmony as
thc motìons oI thc plancts dcpcnd on thc harmony oI thc
cclcstìalnumbcrs.
Òld Groschen-stamp showìngonlyoncortwo largchgurcsìn
an oval. Thcylook lìkc thosc hrst photo Irom whìch, ìn black-
lacqucrcd Iramcs, rclatìons wc ncvcr kncw look down on us .
hgurc-shapcd grcat-aunts or IorcIathcrs. Thun and Taxìs too
hathcbìgbgurconìtsstamps,thcrcthcyarclìkcthcbcwìtchcd
numbcnoItaxìmctcrs.Òncwouldnotbcsurprìscd,onccvcnìng,
toscc thc lìghtoIa candlc shìnìng through thcm Irom bchìnd.
But thcn thcrc arc small stamps wìthout pcrIoratìons, wìthout
ìndìcatìon oIcurrcncyor country. ln a tìghtly-wovcn spìdcr's
wcb thcy bcar only a numbcr. Thcsc arc pcrhap Iatc`s truc
lottcrytìckcts.
ScrìptonTurkìshpìastrc-stampsìslìkcthcslantcd,altogcthcr
to dandyìsh, too gIcamìng brcast-pìn ìn thc tìc oIa sly, only
halI-Europcanìzcd mcrchantIrom Constantìnoplc. Thcynum-
bcr among thc postal parvcnus, thc largc, badly pcrIoratcd,
garìsh Iormau oINìcaragua or Colombìa, whìch dcck thcm-
sclvcsout lìkc banknotcs.
Extra-postagcstamparcthcspìrìtsamongstamps.Thcyarc
unaltcrìng. Thc changcoImonarchs and Iorms oIgovcrnmcnt
pasovcrthcm wìthouttracc,asovcrphantoms.
9
4
Thc chìld looks towards Iar-oñLìbcrìa through an ìnvcrtcd
opcra-glass : thcrc ìt lìc bchìnd ìts lìttlc strìp oI sca wìth ìts
palms,just a thcstampsshow ìt. Wìth Vascoda Gamahcsaìls
around a trìanglc a ìsoscclcan a hopc and whosc colours
changc wìth thc wcathcr. A travcl brochurc Ior thc Capc oI
Goo Hopc. Whcn hc sccs thc swan on Australìan stamps, ìt ìs
always, cvcn on thc bluc, grccn and brown ìssucs, thc black
swanthatisIoundonlyìnAustralìaandhcrcglìdcsonthcwatcrs
oIa pool as on thc most pacìbc occan.
Stamparcthc vìsìtìng-cards that thc grcat statcslcavcìn a
chìld'sroom.
Lìkc Gullìvcr thcchìld travcls amongthc lands and pcoplcs
olhìs postagc stamps. Thc gcography and hìstory oIthc Lìllì-
putìans, thcwholc scìcnccoIthclìttlcnatìon wìth all ìtsbgurcs
and namcs, ìs ìnstìllcd ìn hìm ìn slccp. Hc takcs part ìn thcìr
transactìons, attcnds thcìr purplc asscmblìcs, watchcs thc
launchìngoIthcìrlìttlcshìpandcclcbratcwìth thcìrcrowncd
hcads, cnthroncd bchìnd hcdgcs,jubìlccs.
Thcrc ìs, ìt ìs known, a stamp-languagc that ìs to ñowcr-
languagcwhat thcmorscalphabctìstothcwrìttcnonc. ButIor
how long wìll thc ñowcn contìnuc to bloom bctwccn thc
tclcgraph polcs? Arc not thc grcat artìstìc stamp oIthc post-
war ycars, wìth thcìr Iull colours, alrcady thc autumnal astcrs
and dahlìaoIthisßora?Stcphan,aGcrmanandnotbychancc
a contcmporaryoI jcanPaul, plantcd thìssccdìn thcsummcry
mìddlc oI thc nìnctccnth ccntury. lt wìll not survìvc thc
twcntìcth.
SI P ARLA ITALIANO
I sat at nìght ìn vìolcnt paìn on a bcnch. Òpposìtc mc on
anothcr two gìrls sat down. Thcy sccmcd to want to dìscuss
One- Way Street 95
somcthìng ìn conhdcnccand bcgan to whìspcr. Nobodycxccpt
mc was ncarby and I should not havc undcrstoo thcìr ltalìan
howcvcrloudìthadbccn.ButnowIcouldnotrcsìstthcIcclìng,
ìnIaccoIthìsunmotìvatcdwhìspcrìngìnalanguagcìnacccssìblc
tomc,thatacooldrcssìngwabcìngapplìcdtothcpaìnIulplacc.
TECHNICAL AID
Nothìng ìs poorcr than a truth cxprcsscd a ìt was thought.
Commìttcdtowrìtìngìnsucha casc, ìt isnotcvcnabadphoto-
graph. And thc truth rcIuscs ¸lìkca chìldorawomanwhodocs
notlovcus), IacìngthclcnsoIwrìtìngwhìlcwccrouch undcrthc
black cloth, to kccp stìll and look amìablc. Truth wants to bc
startlcd abruptly, at onc strokc, Irom hcr sclI-ìmmcrsìon,
whcthcr by uproar, musìc or crìc Ior hclp. Who could count
thc alarm sìgnals wìth whìch thc ìnncr worldoIthctrucwrìtcr
is cquìppcd? And to 'wrìtc" ìs nothìng othcr than tosct thcm
janglìng. Thcn thc swcct odalìsquc rìscs wìth a start, snatchcs
whatcvcr hrst comc to hand ìn thc melee oIhcr boudoìr, our
cranìum, wraps ìt around hcr and üccs us, almost unrccognìz-
ablc, to othcr pcoplc. But how wcll-constìtutcd shc must bc,
howhcalthìly buìlt, tostcp ìn such manncramongthcm, con-
tortcd, rattlcd, and yct vìctorìous, captìvatìng.
HARDWARE
_uotatìons ìn my workarc lìkcwaysìdcrobbcrs who lcap out
armcdand rclìcvc thcstrollcroIhìsconvìctìon.
Thc kìllìngoIa crìmìnal can bc moralbut ncvcrìts lcgìtì-
matìon.
Thc provìdcr Ior all mankind 1b God, and thc statc Hìs
dcputy.
,
! Thc cxprcssìonsoIpcoplc movìngabouta pìcturc-gallcryshow
\', j ìll-conccalcddìsappoìntmcnt thatonly pìcturcs hang thcrc.
` /
TAX ADVICE
Bcyond doubt . a sccrct conncctìon cxìstsbctwccnthcmcasurc
oIgoodsandthcmcasurcoIlìIc,whìchìstosay, bctwccnmoncy
and tìmc. Thc morctrìvìal thc contcnt oIa lìIctìmc, thc morc
Iragmcntcd, multìIarìous, and dìsparatcarcìts momcnts, whìlc
thcgrandpcrìocharactcrìzcsasupcrìor cxìstcncc. Vcryaptly,
lìchtcnbcrg suggcsts that tìmc whìlcd away should b sccn as
madcsmallcr, rathcrthan shortcr, andhcalsoobscrvcs . 'aIcw
dozcn mìllìon mìnutc makc up a lìIc oIIorty-hvc ycars, and
somcthìngmorc. ¨Whcna currcncyìsìnuscaIcw mìllìon unìts
oIwhìcharcìnsìgnìhcant,lìIcwìllhavctobcountcdìnscconds,
rathcrthanycars, ìIìtìsto appcararcspcctablc sum. Andìtwìll
bc Irìttcrcd away lìkc a bundlc oIbank notcs . Austrìa cannot
brcak thc habìtoIthìnkìngìn ßorìns.
Moncy and ram bclong togcthcr. Thc wcathcr ìtsclIìs an
ìndcx oI thc statc oIthìs world. Blìs ìs cloudlcss, knows no
wcathcr. Thcrc also comc a cloudlcss rcalm oIpcrIcct goods,
on whìch no moncyIalls.
AdcscrìptìvcanalysìsoIbanknotcisnccdcd.Thcunlìmìtcd
satìrìcal Iorcc oIsuch a book would bc cquallcd only by ìts
objcctìvìty. Iornowhcrc morc naïvclythanìn thcscdocumcnts
docs capìtalìsm dìsplay ìtsclIìn solcmn carncst. Thc ìnnoccnt
cupìdsIrolìckìng about numbcrs, thc goddcsscs holdìngtablcts
oIthc law, thc stalwart hcroc shcathìng thcìr swords bcIorc
monctary unìts, arc a world oI thcìr own. ornamcntìng thc
Ia�adcoIhcll. IIlìchtcnbcrghadIoundpapcrmoncyìncìrcula-
tìon, thc planoIthìs work would nothavccscapcd hìm.
One- Way Street 97
LEGAL PROTECTION FOR THE NEEDY
Publisher : Mycxpcctatìonshavc bccn most rudcly dìsappoìn-
tcd. Yourwork makc no ìmprcssìon on thc publìc, youdo not
havc thcslìghtcst pullìngpowcr. And I havc notsparcdcxpcn-
scs. I havc ìncurrcd advcrtìsìng costs. You know how hìghly I
thìnk oIyou, dcspìtc all thìs. Butyou cannothold ìt agaìnst mc
ìIcvcn I now havc to lìstcn to my commcrcìal conscìcncc. II
thcrcìs anyoncwhodocswhathccanIor authors, I amhc.But,
aItcr all, I als havc a wìIc and chìldrcn tolookaIìcr. I donot
mcan,oIcoursc, thatIholdyouaccountablcIor thclosscsoIthc
pastycars.Buta bìttcrIcclìngoIdìsappoìntmcntwìllrcmaìn.I
rcgrct that I am at prcscnt absolutcly unablc to support you
Iurthcr.
Author : Sìr, why dìd you bccomca publìshcr?Wcshallhavc
thc answcr by rctun maìl. But pcrmìt mc to say onc thìng ìn
advancc. I hgurc ìn your archìvc Ü numbcr z;. You havc
publìshcdhvcoImy books , ìnothcrwords, youhavc put your
moncyhvctìmcon numbcr z;. I amsorrythatnumbcrz; dìd
not provc a wìnncr. Incìdcntally, you only took couplcd bcts.
Ònly bccausc I comcncxt toyourlucky numbcr z8. Nowyou
knowwhyyoubccamca publìshcr.Youmìghtj ustÜ wcllhavc
cntcrcd an honcst proIcssìon, lìkc your cstccmcd Iathcr. But
ncvcr a thought Ior thc morrow÷such is youth. Contìnuc to
ìndulgcyourhabìts.ButavoìdposìngÜ anhoncstbusìncssman.
Ðo not Icìgn ìnnoccncc whcn you havc gamblcd cvcrythìng
away, do not talk about your cìght-hour workìng day, or thc
nìght whcnyouhardlygct anyrcst, cìthcr. 'Truthandhdclìty
bcIorc all clsc, my chìld. " And don`t start makìngsccncs wìth
yournumbcrs ! Òthcrwìsc youwìll b bounccd.
DOCTOR'S NIGHT-BELL
Scxual Iulblmcnt dclìvcn thcman Irom hìssccrct, whìch docs
notconsìstìn scxualìty but whìch ìnìuIulblmcnt, and pcrhaps
m ìt alonc, ìs scvcrcd÷not solvcd. Thìssccrct ìs comparablc to
thc Icttcr thatbìnds hìm to lìIc. Thc woman cuu ìt, thc man ìs
Ircc to dìc, bccausc his lìIc ha lost ìtssccrct. Thcrcbyhcattaìns
rcbìrth, andahísbclovcdIrcchìmIromthcmothcr`sspcll,thc
woman lìtcrally dctachc hìm Irom Mothcr Larth÷a mìdwìIc
whocutsthatumbìlìcalcordwhìchìswovcnoInaturc`smystcry.
MADAME ARIANE-
SECOND COURTYARD ON THE LEFT
Hc who asks Iortunc-tcllcrs thc Iuturc unwìttìngly IorIcìts an
ìnncrìntìmatìonoIcomìngcvcntsthatìsathousand tìmcsmorc
cxact than anythìng thcy may say. Hc ís ìmpcllcd by ìncrtìa,
rathcrthancurìosìty,andnothìngìsmorcunlìkcthcsubmìssìvc
apathy wìth whìch hc hcars his Iatc rcvcalcd than thc alcrt
dcxtcrìty wìth whìch thc man oI couragc lays hands on thc
Iuturc. Ior prcscncc oImìnd ìs an cxtract oI thc Iuturc, and
prccìsc awarcncs oIthc prcscnt momcnt morc dccìsìvc than
Iorcknowlcdgc oI thc most dìstant cvcnts. Òmcns, prcscntì-
mcnts, sìgnals pas day and nìght through our organìsm lìkc
wavc ìmpulscs. To ìntcrprct thcm or to usc thcm, that ìs thc
qucstìon. Thc two arc ìrrcconcìlablc. Cowardìcc and apathy
counscl thc Iormcr, lucìdìty and Irccdom thclattcr. Ior bcIorc
such prophcçorwarnìngha bccn mcdìatcdbywordorìmagc
ìt haslostitsvìtality, thcpowcrtostrìkcat ourccntrc andIorcc
us, wc scarccly know how, to act accordìngly. lIwc ncglcct to
do so, and only thcn, thcmcssagcìsdccìphcrcd.Wcrcad ìt. But
ìt ís now to latc. Hcncc, whcnyouarctakcnunawarcs byan
outbrcakoIhrcorthc ncws oIa dcath, thcrcísìnthchrstmutc
shocka IcclìngoIguìlt, thc ìndìstìnct rcproach. dìd yourcally
notknowoIthìs?Ðìd not thc dcad pcrson`s namc, thclasttìmc
youuttcrcdìt, sounddìñcrcntlyìnyourmouth?Ðoyounotscc
ìn thc ñamcs a sìgn Irom ycstcrday cvcnìng, ina languagcyou
only now undcrstand? And uan objcct dcar to you has bccn
lost, was thcrc not, hours, days bcIorc, an aura oImockcj or
One- Way Street 99
mournìng about ìt tbat gavc tbc sccrct away? lìkc ultravìolct
raysmcmorysbows tocacb manìn tbcbookoIlìIcascrìpt tbat
ìnvìsìbly and propbctìcally glosscs tbc tcxt. But ìt is not wìtb
ìmpunìty tbat tbcsc ìntcntìons arc cxcbangcd, tbat unlìvcd lìIc
ìs bandcdovcrto cards, spìrìts, stars, to bm Ü ìnstantsquan-
dcrcd, mìsuscd, and rcturncd to M dìshgurcd, wc do not go
unpunìsbcd Ior cbcatìng tbc bodyoIìtspowcrto mccttbcIatcs
on ìts own ground and trìumpb. Tbc momcnt ìs tbc Caudìnc
Yokc bcncatb wbìcb Iatc must bow to tbc body. To turn tbc
tbrcatcnìng Iuturc ìnto a Iulhllcd now, tbconlydcsìrablctclc-
patbìc mìraclc, ìsaworkoIbodìlyprcscnccoImìnd. Prìmìtìvc
cpocbs, wbcn sucb dcmcanour was part oIman's daìly bus-
bandry,provìdcdbìm,ìntbcnakcdbody,wìtbtbcmostrclìablc
ìnstrumcnt oI dìvìnatìon. Lvcn tbc ancìcnts kncw oItbìs truc
practìcc, and Scìpìo, stumblìng as bc sct Ioot on Cartbagìnìan
soìl,crìcdout,sprcadìngbìsarmswìdcabcIcll,tbcwatcbword
oIvìctory," Teneo te, terra AJricana !" Wbatwouldbavcbccomca
portcnt oIdìsastcrbc bìndsbodìlyto tbcmomcnt, makìng bìm-
sclItbc Iactotum oIbìs body. lnjust sucb mastcry tbc ancìcnt
ascctìc cxcrcìscs oIIastìng, cbastìty, and vìgìl bavc Iorall tìmc
cclcbratcd tbcìr grcatcst vìctorìcs. Lacb mornìng tbc day lìcs
lìkc a Ircsb sbìrt on our bcd, tbìs ìncomparably bnc, ìncom-
parablytìgbtlywovcn tìssucoIpurc prcdìctìonñts us pcrIcctly.
Tbc bappìncss oI tbc ncxt twcnty-Iour boun dcpcnds on our
abìlìty, on wakìng, topìck ìt up.
COSTUME WARDROBE
AbcarcroIncwsoIdcatbappcarstobìmsclIavcryìmportant.
Hìs Icclìng-cvcn agaìnst all rcason÷makc bìm a mcsscngcr
Irom tbcrcalmoItbcdcad.lortbccommunìtyoIalltbcdcadìs
m ìmmcnsc tbat cvcn bcwbo onlyrcportsdcatb ìs awarc oIìt.
Ad plures ire was tbc latìns' cxprcssìon Ior dyìng.
At Bcllìnzona l notìccd tbrcc prìcsts ìn tbc statìon waìtìng
room. Tbcywcrc sìttìngon a bcncb dìagonally opposìtc mìnc.
1 00
lnraptattcntìonl obscrvcdthcgcsturcoIthconcscatcdìnthc
mìddlc, whowadìstìnguìshcdIrom hìs brothcnbyarcdskull-
cap. Whìlc hc spcaksto thcm, his hands arc Ioldcd ìn hìs lap,
andonly now and thcnìs onc or thc othcrvcry slìghtly raìscd
and movcd. l thìnk to mysclI: hìsrìghthand must alwaysknow
what thclcIt is doìng.
ls thcrc anyonc who ha not oncc bccn stunncd, cmcrgìng
Irom thcMétroìntothcopcn aìr, to stcpìntobrìllìantsunlìght !
And yct thc sun shonc a Icw mìnutcs carlìcr, whcn hc wcnt
down,justasbrìghtly. So quìcklyhas hc Iorgottcn thcwcathcr
oIthc uppcr world. And as quìckly thc world m ìts turn wìll
Iorgct hìm. IorwhocansaymorcoIhisowncxìstcnccthanthat
ìt has passcdthroughthclìvcsoItwoorthrccothcrs as gcntly
andclosclyas thc wcathcr!
Agaìnandagaìn,ìnShakcspcarc,ìnCaldcrón,battlcshllthc
last act, and kìngs, prìnccs, attcndants and Iollowcn 'cntcr,
ßccìng`.Thcmomcntìnwhìchthcybccomcvìsìblctospcctators
brìngs thcm to a standstìll. Thc ñìght oIthc dramati peronae ìs
arrcstcd by thc stagc. Thcìr cntry ìnto thc vìsual hcld oInon-
partìcìpatìngandtrulyìmpartìalpcrsonsallowsthcharasscdto
drawbrcath, bathc thcm ìn ncw aìr. Thc appcarancconstagc
oIthoscwhocntcr'ßccìng` takcsIrom thìsìts hìddcnmcanìng.
Òur rcadìng oIthìs Iormula ìs ìmbucd wìth cxpcctatìon oIa
placc, a lìght, a Iootlìghtglarc, ìn whìch our ñìght through lìIc
maybclìkcwìscshcltcrcdìnthcprcscnccoIonlookìngstrangcrs.
BETTING OFFICE
Bourgcoìs cxìstcncc is thc rcgìmc oIprìvatc añaìrs. Thc morc
ìmportantthc naturc and ìmplìcatìonsoIa modc oIbchavìour,
thc Iurthcr rcmovcd ìt ìs Irom obscrvatìon hcrc. Polìtìcal con-
vìctìon, hnancìal sìtuatìon, rclìgìon÷all thcsc scck hìdcouts,
and thc Iamìlyìs thc rottcn, dìsmalcdìbccìnwhoscclosctsand
One- Way Street 1Õ/
crannìcsthcmostìgnomìnìousìnstìnctsarcdcposìtcd.Mundanc
lìIc proclaìms thc totalsubjugatìon oIcrotìcìsm toprìvacy. 5
wooìng bccomca sìlcnt, dcad-scrìous transactìon bctwccn two
pcrsons alonc, and thìs thoroughly prìvatc wooìng, scvcrcd
Irom all rcsponsìbìlìty, ìs what is rcally ncw ìn 'ßìrtìng'. In
contrast, thcprolctarìan and thcIcudal typ oImcnrcscmblc
cachothcrìnthatìnwooìngìtìsmuchlcsthcwomanthanthcìr
compctìton thatthcyovcrcomc. lnthìsthcyrcspcctthcwoman
Iar morc dccply than ìn hcr Irccdom, bcìng at hcr command
wìthoutcross-cxamìnìnghcr. ThcshìhoIcrotìccmphasìstothc
publìc sphcrc ìs both Icudal and prolctarìan. To b sccnwìtha
woman on such-and-such an occasìon can mcan morc than to
slccp wìth hcr. Thus ìn marrìagc, too, valuc doc not lìc ìn thc
stcrìlc 'harmony"oIthc partncrs . ìtis a thcccccntrìcoñshoot
oIthcìr strugglc and rìvalrìc cnactcd clscwhcrc that, lìkc thc
chìld, thc spìrìtual Iorcc oImarrìagc is manìIcst.
ST AND-\P BEER HALL
Saìlorsscldomcomcashorc ,scrvìcconthchìghscaìsaholìday
bycomparìsonwìththc labourìnharbours, whcrcloadìngand
unloadìng must olìcn b donc day and nìght. Whcn a gangìs
thcn gìvcn a Icw hours' shorc-lcavc ìt ìs alrcady dark. At bcst
thc cathcdral looms lìkc a dark promontory on thc way to thc
tavcrn. Thc alc-housc ìs thc kcy to cvcry town, toknow whcrc
Gcrmanbccrcanbdrunkìsgcographyandcthnologycnough.
Thc Gcrman scamcn's bar unrolls thc nocturnal plan oIthc
cìty. tohndthcwayIrom thcrcto thcbrothcl,tothcothcrbars
ìs not dìmcult. Thcìr namc havc crìss-crosscd thc mcaltimc
convcrsatìonsIordays.Iorwhcnaharbourhabccnlchbchìnd,
oncsaìloralìcranothcrhoìstslìkclìttlcpcnnantsthcnìcknamcs
oIban and dancc-halls, bcautìIul womcn and natìonal dìshcs
Irom thc ncxt. But who knows whcthcr hc wìll goashorc thìs
tìmc?Iorthìsrcason,nosooncrìsthcshìpdcclarcdandmoorcd
thantradcsmcncomcaboardwìthsouvcnìrs .chaìnsandpìcturc-
102
postcards, oìl-paìntìngs, knìvc and lìttlc marbIc hgurcs. Thc
cìty sìghts arc not sccn but bougbt. ln tbc saìlors' chcsts thc
lcathcr bcIt lrom Hong Kong ìs|uxtaposcd to a panorama ol
Palcrmoanda gìrl`sphotolrom Stcttìn.AndtbcìrrcaI habìtat
íscxactIythcsamc.Tbcyknownothìngolthchazydìstanccsìn
whìch, lor tbc bourgcoìs, lorcìgn Iands arc cnshroudcd. Wbat
brstasscrtsìtscllìncvcrycìtyìs,brst,scrvìcconboard,andthcn
Gcrmanbccr,Lnglìsbshavìng-soapandÐutchtobacco.lmbucd
totbcmarrowwìththcìntcrnatìonalnormolìndustry,thcyarc
nottbcdupcolpaImsandìccbcrgs. Thcscamaníssatcdwìth
closc-ups,andonlythcmostcxactnuanccspcaktobìm.Hccan
dìstìnguìshcountrìcbcttcrbythcprcparatìonoltbcìrbsb than
bythcìrbuìldìng-styIcor Iandscapcs. Hcìsm mucbathomcìn
dctaìl that thc occan routcs wbcrc hc cuu cIosc to othcr sbìps
¸grcctìng tbosc olhís own hrm wìth bowls lrom tbc sìrcn) bc-
comcnoìsythoroughlarcwhcrcyouhavctogìvcwayto tramc.
Hc Iìvc on thc opcn sca ìn a cìty wbcrc, on thc Marscìllcs
Canncbìcrc,aPortSaìdbarstandsdìagonallyopposìtcaHam-
burg brothcl, andthcNcapolìtan Castcl dcIÒvoísto b lound
on Barcclona's Plaza CataIuña. Ioromccrs tbcìr natìvc town
stìll hoIds prìdc olplacc. But lor thc ordìnary saìlor, or thc
stokcr, tbc pcoplc whosc transportcd Iabour-powcr maìntaìns
contactwìth tbc commodìtìcm thc hullolthc sbìp, tbcìntcr-
Iaccd harboun arc nolongcr cvcn a homcIand, but a cradIc.
And lìstcnìng to thcm onc rcalìzcs what mcndacìty rcsìdcs ìn
tourìsm.
`O ÀAGRANTS !
All rclìgìons havc honourcd thc bcggar. Ior hc provcs that ìna
mattcratthcsamctìmcÜ prosaìcandboly,banaIandrcgcncra-
tìngÜ tbcgìvìngolalms,ìntcllcctandmoralìty,consìstcncyand
prìncìpIc arc mìscrably ìnadcquatc.
Wc dcpIorc tbc bcggan ìn thc South, lorgcttìng that thcìr
pcrsìstcnccìnlrontolournoscísÜ|ustìhcdÜ ascholar`sbclorc
One- Way Street 103
a dimcu|t text. No shadow of hesitation, no s|ightest wish or
deliberation in our face escapes their notice. The te|epathyof
the coachman who, by accosting us, make known to us our
previous|y unsuspected inclination to board his vehic|e, andof
the shopkeeper who extracu from his¡unk the sing|e chain or
cameo thatcould delightus, is ofthe same order.
ÅO THE PLANETARIUM
Ifone had to expound the doctrine ofantiquity with utmost
brevitywhi|estandingononeleg,adidHil|elthatofthejews,
it cou|donlyb in thissentence . 'Theya|oneshal|possess the
earth who |ive from the powen ofthe cosmos. " Nothing dis-
tinguishe the ancient from the moden man m much as the
former's absorption in a cosmic experience scarce|y known to
|ater periods. Its waniq i� marked by the ßowering ofastro-
nomyat the beginningofthe modenage. Kep|er, Copernicus,
and Tycho Brahe were certainly not driven by scientihc im-
pu|sea|one.A|lthesame, theexc|usiveemphasisonanoptica|
connection to the universe, to which astronomy very quick|y
led, contained a portent ofwhat wa to come. The ancients'
intercourse with the cosmo had been diñerent. the ecstatic
trance. For it is in this experience a|one that we gain certain
know|edge ofwhatis nearest to us and what is remotest tous,
andneverofonewithouttheother. Thismeans, however, that
man can b m ecstatic contactwith thecosmoon|ycommun-
a||y. It is the dangerous error of moden men to regard this
experienceasunimportantandavoidable,andtoconsignit to
theindividua|a the poeticraptureofstarrynights. Itisnot ,its
hour strike again and again, and then neither nations nor
generatiomcanescapit, aswasmadeterrib|yc|earbythe|ast
war, which was an attempt at new and unprecedented com-
mingling with the cosmic powers. Human mu|titudes, gases,
e|ectrica| force were hur|ed into the open country, high-
frequency currenu coursed through the |andscape, new con-
[0
4
stcllatìons rosc ìn thc sky, acrìal spacc and occan dcpths
thundcrcd wìth propcllcrs, and cvcrywhcrc sacrìbcìal shaüs
wcrcdugìn MothcrLarth. ThisimmcnscwooìngoIthccosmos
was cnactcd Iorthcbrsttìmconaplanctaryscalc, thatìs,ìnthc
spìrìtoItcchnology. But bccausc thclustIor prohtoIthc rulìng
clas sought satìsIactìon through ìt, tcchnology bctraycd man
and turncd thc brìdal bcd ìnto a bloodbath. Thc mastcry oI
naturc,m thcìmpcrìalìsutcach,isthcpurposcoIalltcchnology.
Butwhowouldtrustacancwìcldcrwhoproclaìmcdthcmastcry
oIchìldrcn by adults to b thc purposc oIcducatìon? ls not
cducatìon abovc all thc ìndìspcnsablc ordcrìng oIthc rclatìon-
shìpbctwccngcncratìonsandthcrcIorcmastcry,ìIwcarctousc
thìstcrm,oIthatrclatìonshìpandnotoIchìldrcn?Andlìkcwìsc
tcchnology ìs not thc mastcry oI naturc but oI thc rclatìon
bctwccn naturc and man. Mcn a a spccìc complctcd thcìr
dcvclopmcnt thousandsoIycan ago, but mankìndasaspccìcs
isjust bcgìnnìng hìs. ln tcchnology aphysi ìs bcìngorganìzcd
through whìch mankìnd`s contactwìth thc cosmo takcsa ncw
and dìñcrcnt Iorm Irom that whìch ìt had ìn natìons and
Iamìlìcs. Ònc nccd rccall only thc cxpcrìcncc oI vclocìtìcs by
vìrtuc oI whìch mankìnd ìs now prcparìng to cmbark on ìn-
calculablcjourncysìntothcìntcrìoroItìmc,tocncountcrthcrc
rhythms Irom whìch thc sìck shall draw strcngth a thcy dìd
carlìcronhìghmountaìnsoratSouthcnscas.Thc'lunaparks"
arcaprchguratìonoI sanatorìa.ThcparoxysmoI gcnuìnccosmìc
cxpcrìcnccisnottìcdtothattìnyIragmcntoInaturcthatwcarc
accustomcdtocall'Naturc`. lnthcnìghtsoIannìhilatìonoIthc
last war thc Iramc oI mankìnd wa shakcn by a Icclìng that
rcscmblcd thc blìs oIthc cpìlcptìc. And thc rcvolts that Iol-
lowcdìtwcrcthchrstattcmptoImankìndtobrìngthcncwbody
undcrìtscontrol. ThcpowcroIthc prolctarìat is thcmcasurcoI
ìuconvalcsccncc. lIìtisnot grìppcd to thc vcj marrowbythc
dìscìplìncoIthispowcr, no pacìbst polcmìcs wìll savc ìt. lìvìng
substancc conqucrs thcIrcnzyoIdcstructìononlyìn thcccstasy
oIprocrcatìon.
I I
On Lan
g
ua
g
e as Such
and on the Lan
g
ua
g
e
o Man
Lvery expression of human menta| |ife can b understoo as a
kindof|anguage, and this understanding, in themannerofatrue
method,everywhereraisenewquestions.Itispossib|etota|kabout
a |anguage ofmusic and ofscu|pture, abouta |anguage of¡ustice
that ha nothing direct|y to do with those in which German or
Lng|ish |ega| ¡udgments are couched, about a |anguage of tech-
no|ogythatisnotthespecia|ized|anguageoftechnicians.Language"
in such contexu meam the tendency inherent in the sub¡ects
concernedtechno|ogy, art, ¡ustice, or re|igiontoward the
communicationofmenta|meanings. Tosum up. a||communica¨
tion of menta| meanings is |anguage, communication in words
being on|yaparticu|arcaseofhuman|anguageandofthe¡ustice,
poetry, or whatever under|ying it orfounded on it. The existence¸
of|anguage, however, is noton|ycoextensivewith a|| the area of
humanmentalexpressioninwhich|anguageis a|waysinonesense
or another inherent, but with abso|ute|y everything. There is no
event or thing in either animate or inanimate nature that does
not in some way partake of|anguage, for it is in the nature of
a|| to communicate their menta| meanings. This use ofthe word
'|anguage"isinnowaymetaphorica|.Fortothinkthatwecannot
imagine anything that doe not communicate its menta| nature
initsexpressionisentire|ymeaningfu| , thegreateror|esserdegree
of consciousness that is apparent|y ,or rea||y) invo|ved in such
communication cannot a|ter the fact that �� cannot imagine a
tota| absence of |anguage in anything. A existence entire|y
[07
108
wìthoutrclatìonshìpto languagc ìs an ìdca, butthis ìdca can bcar
no lruìt cvcn wìthìn that rcalm ol ldcas whosc cìrcumlcrcncc
dchncs thc ìdcaolGod.
All that ìs asscrtcd hcrc is that all cxprcssìon, ìnsolar as ìt ìs a
communìcatìon ol mcntal mcanìng, ìs to bc classcd a languagc.
And cxprcssìon, by ìts wholc ìnncrmost naturc, ìs ccrtaìnly to bc
undcrstood only a language; on thc othcr hand, to undcrstand a
lìnguìstìc cntìtyìtìsalways ncccssary toaskolwhìchmcntalcntìty
ìtìsthcdìrcctcxprcssìon.Thatistosay. thcGcrmanlanguagc,lor
cxamplc,ìs bynomcansthccxprcssìonolcvcrythìng thatwccould
÷thcorctìcally÷cxprcs through ìt, but ìs thc dìrcct cxprcssìon ol
that whìch communìcatc itsel ìn ìt. Thìs 'ìtscll¨ ìs a mcntal
cntìty. llìs thcrclorc obvìous at oncc that thc mcntal cntìty that
communìcatcìtscllìnlanguagcìsnotlanguagcìtscllbutsomcthìng
tobc dìstìnguìshcd lrom ìt. Thcvìcwthat thc mcntal csscncc ola
thìng consìsts prccìscly ìn ìts languagc÷thìs vìcw, takcn as a
hypothcsìs, ìs thc grcat abys ìnto whìch all lìnguìstìc thcory
thrcatcns to lall,* and to survìvc suspcndcd prccìscly ovcr thìs
abys ìs ìts task. �hc dìstìnctìon bctwccn a mcntal cntìty and thc
lìnguìstìc cntìtyìn whìch ìt communìcatc ìs thc hrst stagc olany
study ol lìnguìstìc thcory, and thìs dìstìnctìon sccms m unqucs-
tìonablc thatìtìs, rathcr, thclrcqucntlyasscrtcdìdcntìtybctwccn
mcntal andlìnguìstìcbcìngthat constìtutca dccpand ìncomprc-
hcnsìblcparadox,thccxprcssìonolwhìchìsloundìnthcambìguìty
olthc ~ord logos. Ncvcrthclcss, thìs paradox ha a placc, as a
solutìon, atthc ccntrcollìnguìstìc thcory, but rcmaìns a paradox,
andìnsolublc, ìlplaccdatthcbcgìnnìng.
Whatdoclanguagccommunìcatc?ltcommunìcatcthcmcntal
bcìngcorrcspondìngtoìt. ltìslundamcntalthatthismcntalbcìng
communìcatc ìtscll in languagc and not through languagc.
Languagcs thcrclorc havcnospcakcr, ìlthìs mcans somconc who
communìcatcs through thcsc languagcs. Mcntal bcìng communì-
Y
catcs ìtscllìn, not through, a languagc, whìch mcans . ìt ìs not
¯ Or i it, rather, the temptation to place at the outset a hypothesis that constitutes
an abyss for all philosophizing?
On Language as Such and on the Language o Man 109
outwardly ìdcntìcal wìth lìnguìstìc bcìng. Mcntal ìs ìdcntìcal
wìthlìnguìstìcbcìngonlyìnsoIarasìtìscapablcoIcommunìcatìon.
What ìs communìcablc ìn a mcntal cntìty ìs ìts lìnguìstìc cntìty.
languagc thcrcIorc communìcatc thc partìcularlìnguìstìc bcìng
oI thìngs, but thcìr mcntal bcìng only ìnsoIar a thìs ìs dìrcctly
ìncludcd ìn thcìr lìnguìstìc bcìng, ìnsoIar a ìt ìs capablcoIbcìng
communìcatcd.
languagc communìcatcs thc lìnguìstìc bcìng oI thìngs. Thc
clcarcst manìIcstatìon oIthìs bcìng, howcvcr, ìs languagc ìtsclI.
Thc answcr to thc qucstìon 'What doc languagc communìcatc!"1
ìs thcrcIorc 'All languagc communìcatc ìtsclí¨ Thc languagc oI
thìs lamp, Ior cxamplc, docs not communìcatc thc lamp ¸Ior thc
mcntal bcìng oI thc lamp, ìnsoIar as ìt ìs communicable, is by no
mcam thc lamp ìtscl[, but . thc languagc-lamp, thc lamp ìn
communìcatìon, thc lamp ìn cxprcssìon. Ior ìn languagc thc
sìtuatìon ìs thìs . the linguistic bein o al things i their language. Thc
undcrstandìngoIlìnguìstìcthcorydcpcndson gìvìngthìs proposì-
tìon a clarìty that annìhìlatcs cvcn thc appcarancc oI tautology.
Thìs proposìtìon ìs un tautologìcal, Ior ìt mcans . that whìch ìn a
mcntal cntìty ìs communìcablc i ìts languagc. Òn thìs 'ìs"
¸cquìvalcnt to 'is ìmmcdìatcly`) cvcrythìng dcpcnds. Not that
whìch appears most clcarly ìn ìts languagc ìs communìcablc ìn a
mcntal cntìty, a was just saìd by way oI transìtìon, but thìs
capacit Ior communìcatìonìslanguagcìtsclI Òr. thclanguagcoIa
mcntal cntìty ìs dìrcctly thatwhìchìs communìcablc ìn ìt. What
ìs communìcablcoj amcntalcntìty, in thìs ìtcommunìcatcs ìtscll.
Whìch sìgnìhcs . ah
}
angua
[
c

communìcatcs ìtsclI Òr morc prc-
cìscly. all languagc communìcatc ìtsclIin ìtsclI, ìt ìs ìn thc purcst
scnsc thc 'mcdìum¨ oIthc communìcatìon. Mcdìatìon, whìch ìs
thc ìmmcdìacy oIall mcntal communìcatìon, ìs thc Iundamcntal
problcm oIlìnguìstìc thcory, and uonc choosc to call thìs ìm-
mcdìacymagìc,thcnthcprìmaryproblcmoIlanguagcìsìtsmagìc.
At thc samc tìmc, thc notìon oIthc magìc oIlanguagc poìnts to
_¿
mcthìngclsc .ìuìnhnìtcncss.Thìsìscondìtìonalonìuìmmcdìacy.
�orjust bccauscnothìngìs communìcatcd through languagc, what
ìs communìcatcd in languagc cannot bc cxtcrnally lìmìtcd or
1 10
mcasurcd, and tbcrcIorc all languagc contaìns ìts own ìncom-
mcnsurablc, unìquclyconstìtutcdìnhnìty. ltslìnguìstìcbcìng, not
ìts vcrbal mcanìngs, dchncs ìts Irontìcr.
TbclìnguìstìcbcìngoItbìngsìstbcìrlanguagc,tbìsproposìtìon,
applìcdtonian, mcans . tbclìnguìstìcbcìngoImanìsbislanguagc.
Wbìcb sìgnìhcs . man communìcatc bìs own mcntal bcìng i bìs
languagc. Howcvcr, tbc languagc oIman spcaks ìn words. Man
tbcrcIorc communìcatcs bìs own mcntal bcìng ¸ìnsoIar Ü ìt ìs
communìcablc) by naming all otbcr tbìngs. But do wc know any
otbcrlanguagc tbat namc tbìngs? lt sbould not b acccptcd tbat
wcknowoIno languagc otbcrtbantbatoIman,Ior tbìsís untruc.
Wc only know oIno namin languagc otbcr tban tbatoIman, to
ìdcntìFnamìnglanguagcwìtb languagcÜ sucbìstoroblìnguìstic
tbcory oIìts dccpcstìnsìgbts. It i thereore the linguisti bein i man
to name things.
Wby namc tbcm? To wbom doc man communìcatc bìmsclI?
But ìs thìs qucstìon, Ü applìcd to man, othcr tban Ü applìcd to
otbcr communìcatìons ¸languagcs) ? To wbom doc tbc lamp
communìcatcìtsclI?Tbcmountaìn? TbcIox?Butbcrctbcanswcr
ìs .toman.Tbìsisnotantbropomorpbìsm.TbctrutboItbísanswcr
ìs sbown ìn knowlcdgc and pcrbap als ìn art. Iurtbcrmorc, ìI
tbc lamp and tbc mountaìn and tbc Iox dìd not communìcatc
tbcmsclvcstoman, bowsbouldbc b ablcto namctbcm?Andbc
namctbcm, he communìcatc bìmsclIby namìngthem. To wbom
docsbccommunìcatcbìmsclI?
BcIorc tbís qucstìon can b answcrcd wc must agaìn ìnquìrc.
bow doc man communìcatc bìmsclI? A proIound dìstìnctìon ìs
to b madc, a cboìcc prcscntcd, m Iacc oIwbìcb an ìntrìnsìcally
Ialsc undcrstandìng oI languagc ìs ccrtaìn to gìvc ìtsclI away.
Ðoc man communìcatc bís mcntal bcìng by tbc namc tbat bc
gìvc tbìngs? L in tbcm? ln tbc paradoxìcal naturc oI tbcsc
qucstìons lìc tbcìr answcr. Anyonc wbo bclìcvc tbat man
communìcatcbís mcntal bcìngq namc cannotals assumc tbat
ìt ìs bìs mcntal bcìng tbat bc communìcatcs, Ior tbís docs not
bappcntbrougbtbc namcsoItbìngs, tbatìs,tbrougbtbcwords by
wbìcb bc dcnotc a tbìng. And, cqually, tbc advocatc oIsucb a
On Language as Such and on the Language i Man 111
vìcw can only assumc that man ìs communìcatìng Iactual subjcct
mattcr to othcr mcn, Ior that doc happcn through thc word by
whìchhcdcnotcathìng.Thìsvìcwìsthcbourgcoìs conccptìonoI
languagc, thc ìnvalìdìty and cmptìncs oI whìch wìll bccomc
ìncrcasìngly clcar ìn what Iollows. lt holds that thc mcans oI
communìcatìon ìs thc word, ìts objcct Iactual, ìts addrcsscc a
human bcìng. Thc othcr conccptìon oI languagc, ìn contrast,
knowsnomcans,noobjcct,andnoaddrcssccoIcommunìcatìon. lt
mcans . in namin the mental bein i man communicates itsel t God.
Namìng,ìnthcrcalmoI languagc, haaìtssolcpurposcandìts
ìncomparably hìgh mcanìng that ìt ìs thc ìnncrmost naturc oI
languagc ìtsclí Namìng ìs that by whìch nothìng bcyond ìt ìs
communìcatcd, and i whìch languagc ìtsclIcommunìcatc ìtsclI
absolutcly. ln namìng thc mcntaI cntìty that communìcatc ìtsclI
ìs language. Whcrc mcntal bcìng ìn ìts communìcatìon ìs languagc
ìtsclIìn ìts absolutc wholcncss, only thcrc ìs thc namc, and only
thc namcìs thcrc. Namca thchcrìtagcoIhumanlanguagcthcrc-
Iorc vouchc Ior thc Iact that language Ü such ìs thc mcntal bcìngoI
man, and only Ior thìs rcason ìs thc mcntaI bcìng oIman, alonc
among all mcntal cntìtìcs, communìcablc wìthout rcsìduc. Òn
thìs ìs Ioundcd thc dìñcrcncc bctwccn human languagc and thc
languagc oI thìngs. But bccausc thc mcntal bcìng oI man ìs
languagcìtscl[hccannotcommunìcatchìmsclIbyìtbutonlyìnìt.
ThcquìntcsscnccoIthìsìntcnsìvctotalìtyoIlanguagcathcmcntal
bcìng oIman ìs namìng. Man is thc namcr, by thìs wc rccognìzc
that through hìm purc languagc spcaks. All naturc, ìnsoIar as ìt
communìcatcìtscl[ communìcatcìtsclIìnlanguagc,andm bnally
ìnman.HcncchcìsthclordoInaturcandcangìvcnamctothìngs.
Ònlythroughthc lìnguìstìcbcìngoIthìngs canhcgaìnknowlcdgc
oIthcmIromwìthìnhìmsclI-ìnnamc.God`scrcatìonìscomplctcd
whcn thìngs rcccìvc thcìr namc Irom man, Irom whom ìn namc
languagc alonc spcaks. Man can calI namc thc languagc oI
languagc ¸ìIthcgcnìtìvcrcIcrstothcrclatìonshìpnotoIamcansbut
oIa mcdìum) and ìn thìs scnsc ccrtaìnly, bccausc hc spcaks ìn
namc, man ìs thc spcakcr oI languagc, and Ior thìs vcry rcason
ìts only spcakcr. ln tcrmìng man thc spcakcr ¸whìch, howcvcr,
1 12
accordìngto thcBìblc, Iorcxamplc, clcarlymcansthc namcgìvcr .
'^ man should namc all kìnds oI lìvìng crcaturcs, s should thcy
bccalled" ) , manylanguagcìmply thìs mctaphysìcal truth.
Namc, howcvcr, ìsnotonly thclast uttcrancc oIlanguagc but
also thc truc call oIìt. Thus ìn namc appcan thc csscntìal law oI
languagc, accordìng to whìch to cxprcss oncsclI and to addrcss
cvcrythìng clsc amounts to thc samc. Languagc÷and ìn ìt a
mcntal cntìty÷only cxprcssc ìtsclI purcly whcrc ìt spcaks ìn
namc, thatìs, ìn ìts unìvcrsal namìng. 5 ìn namc culmìnatc both
thcìntcnsìvctotalìtyoI languagc, Ü thc absolutclycommunìcablc
mcntal cntìty, and thc cxtcnsìvc totalìty oI languagc, Ü thc
unìvcrsally communìcatìng ¸namìng) cntìty. By vìrtuc oI ìts
communìcatìng naturc, ìts unìvcrsalìty, languagc ìs ìncomplctc
whcrc thc mcntal cntìty that spcaks Irom ìt ìs not ìn ìts wholc
structurclìnguìstìc,thatìs, communìcablc.MO alon ha a language
that is complete both in its universalit and in its intensiveness.
ln thc lìght oIthìs, a qucstìon may now bc askcd wìthout thc
rìsk oI conIusìon, a qucstìon that, though oI thc hìghcst mcta-
physìcalìmportancc,can bclcarlyposcdhrstoIallÜ oncoItcr-
mìnology. ltìswhcthcrmcntal bcìng÷notonlyoIman ¸Ior thatìs
ncccssary) but als oIthìngs, and thus mcntal bcìngÜ such÷can
Irom thc poìnt oI vìcw oI lìnguìstìc thcory b dcscrìbcd Ü oI
lìnguìstìc naturc. lImcntal bcìng ìs ìdcntìcal wìth lìnguìstìc, thcn
athìng,byvìrtucoIìtsmcntalbcìng, ìsa mcdìumoIcommunìca-
tìon, and what ìs communìcatcd ìn ìt ìs÷ìn accordancc wìth ìts
mcdìatìng rclatìonshìp÷prccìscly thìs mcdìum ¸languagc) ìtsclI
Languagc ìs thus thc mcntal bcìng oI thìngs. Mcntal bcìng ìs
thcrcIorc postulatcd at thc outsct Ü communìcablc, or, rathcr, ìs
sìtuatcdwithin thccommunìcablc,andthcthcsìsthatthclìnguìstìc
bcìngoIthìngsìs ìdcntìcalwìth thc mcntal, ìnsoIar Ü thc lattcrìs
communìcablc, bccomcs ìn ìts 'ìnsoIar" a tautology. There i no
such thin a a meaning q language; a communication, language com­
municates a mental entit, i.e., something communicable pe òt. Thc
dìñcrcnccs bctwccn languagcs arc thosc oI mcdìa that arc dìs-
tìnguìshcd Ü ìt wcrc by thcìr dcnsìty, that ìs, gradually, and thìs
wìth rcgard to thc dcnsìty both oIthc communìcatìng ¸ namìng)
On Language as Such and on the Language ofMan 1 1
3
andoIthccommunìcablc¸namc)aspcctsoIcommunìcatìon.Thcsc
twosphcrcs, whìcharcclcarlydìstìnguìshcdyctunìtcdonlyìnthc
namc languagcoIman, arcnaturally constantlyìntcrrclatcd.
Ior thc mctaphysìc oIlanguagc thc cquatìon oImcntal wìth
lìnguìstìcbcìng,whìchknowsonlygradualdìñcrcnccs, produccsa
graduatìonoIall mcntal bcìngìn dcgrccs. Thìs graduatìon, whìch
takcs placcwìthìn mcntalbcìngìtsclI, can nolongcr b cmbraccd
by anyhìghcrcatcgoryandm lcadstothc graduatìonoIall bcìng,
both mcntal and lìnguìstìc, by dcgrccoIcxìstcnccorbcìng, such
as was alrcady Iamìlìar to scholastìcìsm wìth rcgard to mcntal
bcìng. Howcvcr, thc cquatìonoImcntal and lìnguìstìc bcìngìs oI
grcatmctaphysìcalmomcnttolìnguìstìcthcory bccauscìtlcads to
thc conccpt that has agaìn and agaìn, as ìI oI ìts own accord,
clcvatcdìtsclItothcccntrcoIlìnguìstìcphìlosophyandconstitutcd
ìts most ìntìmatc conncctìon wìth thc phìlosophy oI rclìgìon.
Thìs ìs thc conccptoIrcvclatìon. Wìthìnall lìnguìstìcIormatìon a
conßìct ìs wagcd bctwccn what ìs cxprcsscd and cxprcssìblc and
whatìsìncxprcssìblcanduncxprcsscd.Ònconsìdcrìngthìsconñìct
oncsccs,ìnthcpcrspcctìvcoIthcìncxprcssìblc,atthcsamctìmcthc
lastmcntalcntìty.NowìtìsclcarthatìnthccquatìonoImcntaland
lìnguìstìc bcìng thc notìon oIan ìnvcrsc proportìonalìty bctwccn
thc twoìs dìsputcd. Iorthìslattcr thcsìs runs . thc dccpcr, ì. c. , thc
morc cxìstcnt and rcal thc mìnd, thc morc ìt ìs ìncxprcssìblc and
uncxprcsscd, whcrca ìt ìs consìstcnt wìth thc cquatìon proposcd
abovctomakcthcrclatìonbctwccnmìndandlanguagcthoroughly
unambìguous, m that thc cxprcssìon that ìs lìnguìstìcally most
cxìstcnt ¸ì. c. , most hxcd) ìs lìnguìstìcally thc most roundcd and
dchnìtìvc , ìn a word, thc most cxprcsscd ìs at thc samc tìmc thc
purcly mcntal. Lxactly thìs, howcvcr, ìs mcant by thc conccpt oI
rcvclatìon, ìIìt takc thc ìnvìolabìlìty oIthc word a thc only and
sumcìcnt condìtìonand charactcrìstìcoIthc dìvìnìtyoIthcmcntal
bcìngthatìscxprcsscdìnìt. T

c hìghcst mcntal rcgìonoIrclìgìon
u ¸ìn thcconccptoI rcvclatìon) atthcsamc tìmc thconlyonc that
�ocs not know thc ìncxprcssìblc. Ior ìt ìs addrcsscd ìn namc and
cxprcsscsìtsclIas rcvclatìon. ln thìs, howcvcr, notìcc ìsgìvcn that
onlythchìghcstmcntal bcìng, asìtappcarsìnrclìgìon,rcsusolcly
on manandonthclanguagc ìnhìm, whcrca all art, notcxcludìng
poctry,docnotrcstonthcultìmatccsscnccoIlanguagc-mìnd,but
on languagc-mìnd conbncd to thìngs, cvcn ìI ìn consummatc
bcauty. "Language, the mothe oIrcasonand revelation, ìtsalpha and
omcga`, says Hamann.
languagc ìtsclIìsnot pcrIcctly cxprcsscd ìn thìngs thcmsclvcs.
Thìs proposìtìon has a doublc mcanìng ìn ìts mctaphorìcal and
lìtcral scnscs . thc languagcs oIthìngs arc ìmpcrIcct, and thcy arc
dumb. Thìngs arc dcnìcd thc purcIormal prìncìplc oIlanguagc÷
sound.Thcycanonlycommunìcatctooncanothcrthroughamorc
or lcss matcrìal communìty. Thìs communìty ìs ìmmcdìatc and
ìnbnìtc, lìkc cvcry lìnguìstìc communìcatìon, ìt is magìcal ¸Ior
thcrc ìs also a magìc oI mattcr) . Thc ìncomparablc Icaturc oI
human languagc ìs that ìts magìcal communìty wìth thìngs ìs
ìmmatcrìal and purcly mcntal, and thc symbol oI thìs ìs sound.
ThcBìblccxprcsscsthìssymbolìcIactwhcnìtsaysthatGobrcathcs
hìsbrcathìntoman. thìsìs atoncclìIc and mìnd and languagc.
lI ìn what Iollows thc naturc oI languagc ìs consìdcrcd on
thcbasìsoIthchrstchaptcroIGcncsìs, thcobjcctìsncìthcrbìblìcal
ìntcrprctatìon, nor subjcctìon oIthc Bìblc to objcctìvc consìdcra-
tìon a rcvcalcd truth, but thc dìscovcry oIwhat cmcrgc oIìtsclI
Irom thc bìblìcal tcxt wìth rcgard to thc naturc oI languagc, and
thcßìblcìsonlyinitially ìndìspcnsablcIorthìspurposc bccausc thc
prcscnt argumcnt broadlyIollows ìt ìn prcsupposìng languagc as
an ultìmatc rcalìty, pcrccptìblc only ìn ìts manìIcstatìon, ìn-
cxplìcablc and mystìcal. ThcBìblc, ìn rcgardìng ìtsclIa a rcvcla-
tìon, must ncccssarìly cvolvc thc Iundamcntal lìnguìstìcIacts. Thc
sccond vcrsìon oI thc story oI thc Crcatìon, whìch tclls oI thc
brcathìng oI God's brcath ìnto man, also rcports that man was
madc Irom carth. Thìs ìs, ìn thc wholc story oIthc Crcatìon, thc
only rcIcrcncc to thc matcrìal ìn whìch thc Crcator cxprcsscs hìs
wìll, whìch ìs doubtlcs othcrwìsc thought oIas crcatìon wìthout
mcdìatìon.lnthìssccondstoryoIthcCrcatìonthcmakìngoIman
dìdnottakcplaccthroughthcword. Godspokc÷andthcrcwas÷
but thìs man, who ìs not crcatcd Irom thc word, ìs now ìnvcstcd
wìththcgift oIlanguagc andìs clcvatcd abovc naturc.
On Language as Such and on the Language ojMan 1 15
This curious rcvolution inthc actoIcrcation, whcrc it conccrns
man, is no lcs clcarly rccordcd, howcvcr, in thc brst story oI thc
Crcation, and inÜ cntircly diñcrcnt contcxt it vouchcs, with thc
samc ccrtainty, Ior a spccial rclationship bctwccn man and
languagc rcsultingIrom thcactoIcrcation. Thc maniIold rhythm
oIthc act oIcrcationin thc hrstchaptcrcstablishcakindoIbasic
Iom Irom which thc act that crcatcs man divcrgcs signihcantly.
Admittcdly thispassagcnowhcrccxprcsslyrcIcrstoarclationship
cithcr oIman or oInaturc to thc matcrial Irom which thcy wcrc
crcatcd, andthcqucstionwhcthcrthcwords'Hcmadc¨cnvisagcs
a crcation outoImatcrial must hcrc b lcIt opcn, but thc rhythm
by which thc crcationoInaturc ¸in Gcncsis t) is accomplishcdis .
Lct thcrc bc÷Hcmadc ¸ crcatcd) ÷Hc namcd. ln individual acts
oIcrcation ¸ i . ¸ , t.ti ) onlythcwords 'Lctthcrcbc¨occur. lnthis
'Lct thcrc bc¨ and in thc words 'Hc namcd¨ at thc bcginning
andcndoIthcact,thcdccpandclcarrclationoIthccrcativcactto
languagc appcan cach timc. With thc crcativc omnipotcncc oI
languagc it bcgins, and at thc cnd languagca it wcrc assimilatcs
thccrcatcd, namcsit. Languagcis thcrcIorc bothcrcativcandthc¯
hnishcd crcation, it is word and namc. ln Go namc ìs crcativc¸
bccausc itisword,and God`swordiscognizantbccausitisnamc.
'Andhcsawthatitwasgood' ,thatis . Hchadcognizcditthrough
namc. Thc absolutc rclation oInamc to knowlcdgc cxisu only in
God, only thcrc is namc, bccauscit is inwardlyidcntical with thc
crcativcword, thc purc mcdium oIknowlcdgc. That mcans . God
madcthings knowablcinthcir namcs. Man, howcvcr, namcthcm
accordingto knowlcdgc.
ln thc crcation oIman thc thrccIold rhythm oIthc crcationoI
naturchasgivcnwaytoancntirclydiñcrcntordcr. lnit,thcrcIorc,
languagc ha a diñcrcnt mcaning. thc trinity oIthc act ìs hcrc
prcscrvcd, but in this vcry parallclism thc divcrgcncc is all thc
morc striking. in thc thrccIold 'Hccrcatcd¨ oI Ï . z;. Go did not
crcatc man Irom thcword, and hc did not namc him. Hc did not
wish to subjcct him to languagc, but in man Go sct languagc,
which had scrvcd Him as mcdium oIcrcation, Ircc. Go rcstcd
whcnhchadlchhiscrcativcpowcrtoitsclIinman.Thiscrcativity,
I I 6
rclìcvcd oI ìts dìvìnc actualìty, bccamc knowlcdgc. Man ìs thc
knowcrìnthcsamclanguagcìnwhìchGodìscrcator. Gocrcatcd
hìmìnhìsìmagc,hccrcatcdthcknowcrìnthcìmagcoIthccrcator.
ThcrcIorcthcproposìtìonthatthcmcntalbcìngoImanislanguagc
nccds cxplanatìon. Hìs mcntal bcìng is thc languagc ìn whìch
crcatìon took placc. In thc word crcatìon took placc, and God's
lìnguìstìcbcìngìsthcword.Allhuman languagc ìs onlyrcñcctìon
oIthcwordìnnamc.Namcìsnocloscrtothcwordthanknowlcdgc
to crcatìon. Thc ìnbnìty oI all human languagc always rcmaìns
lìmìtcd and analytìcal ìn naturc ìn comparìson to thc absolutcly
unlìmìtcdandcrcatìvc ìnbnìty oIthcdìvìncword.
Thc dccpcst ìmagcs oIthìs dìvìnc word and thc poìnt whcrc
humanlanguagcpartìcìpatcsmostìntìmatclyìnthcdìvìncìnhnìty
oIthcpurcword,thcpoìntatwhìchìt cannot bccomchnìtcword
andknowlcdgc, arcthc human namc. ThcthcoryoIpropcrnamcs
ìsthcthcoryoIthcIrontìcrbctwccnhnìtcandìnhnìtclanguagc. ÒI
alI bcìngs manìs thc only onc who hìmsclInamcshìs own kìnd, as
hc ìsthc only oncwhomGodìdnotnamc. Itìspcrhap bold, but
scarccly ìmpossìblc, to mcntìon thc sccond part oIz . zo ìn thìs
contcxt . that man namcd all bcìngs, "bu Ior man thcrc was not
Iound a hclpcrht Ior hìm. "Accordìngly, Adam namc hìs wìIc as
soon as hc rcccìvcs hcr ¸womanìn thc sccond chaptcr, Lvcìn thc
thìrd) . Bygìvìngnamcs,parcnudcdìcatcthcìrchìldrcntoGod,thc
namcthcygìvcdonotcorrcspond÷ìnamctaphysìcal,notctymo-
logìcalscnsc÷to anyknowlcdgc,Ior thcynamcncwbonchìldrcn.
Inastrìctscnsc, no namc ought ¸ìn ìts ctymologìcal mcanìng) to
corrcspond to any pcrson, Ior thcpropcrnamcìs thcwordoIGo
ìn human sounds. By ìt cach man ìs guarantccd his crcatìon by
God, and ìn thìs scns hc ìs hìmsclI crcatìvc, as ìs cxprcsscd by
mythologìcalwìsdomìnthcìdca ¸whìchdoubtlcss notìnIrcqucntly
comctruc) thata man`snamcìs hisIatc. Thc propcr namcìs thc
communìonoImanwìththccreativ wordoIGod. ¸Notthconlyonc,
howcvcr , man knowsa Iurthcr lìnguìstìc communìon wìth God's
word. )ThroughthcwordmanìsboundtothclanguagcoIthìngs.
Thc human word ìs thc namc oIthìngs. Hcncc ìt ìs no longcr
conccìvablc, as thc bourgcoìs vìcw oIlanguagc maìntaìns, that
On Language as Such and on the Language ofMan 1 1
7
tbc word bas an accìdcntal rclatìon to ìts objcct, tbat ìt ìs a sìgn
Ior tbìngs ¸or knowlcdgc oI tbcm) agrccd by somc convcntìon.
Languagc ncvcr gìvc mere sìgns. Howcvcr, tbc rcjcctìon oIbour-
gcoìs by mystìcal lìnguìstìc tbcory cqually rcsts on a mìsundcr-
standìng. Ioraccordìng to mystìcal tbcory tbcwordìs sìmply tbc
csscncc oItbc tbìng. Tbat is ìncorrcct, bccausc tbc tbìng ìn ìtsclI
bas no word, bcìng crcatcd Irom God's word and known ìn ìts
namc bya bumanword. Tbìs knowlcdgcoItbc tbìng, bowcvcr,ìs
notspontancouscrcatìon, ìtdocs notcmcrgcIromlanguagcìn tbc
absolutcly unlìmìtcd and ìnhnìtc manncr oIcrcatìon, ratbcr, tbc
namc tbat man gìvcs to languagc dcpcnds on bow languagc ìs
communìcatcdto bìm. InnamctbcwordoIGobasnotrcmaìncd
crcatìvc, ìt bas bccomc ìn onc part rcccptìvc, cvcnìIrcccptìvc to
languagc. Tbus Icrtìlìzcd, ìt aìms to gìvc bìrtb to tbc languagc oI
tbìngs tbcmsclvcs, Irom wbìcb ìn turn, soundlcssly, ìn tbc mutc
magìcoInaturc, tbcwordoIGodsbìncsIortb.
Ior conccptìon and spontancìty togctbcr, wbìcb arc Iound ìn
tbìs unìquc unìon only ìn tbc lìnguìstìc rcalm, languagc bas ìts
ownword, andtbìsword applìc als totbatconccptìonwbìcbìs
cnactcd by tbc namclcs ìn namcs. It ìs tbc translatìon oI tbc
languagc oItbìngs ìnto tbat oIman. Itìs ncccssary to Iound tbc
conccpt oItranslatìon at tbc dccpcst lcvcloIlìnguìstìc tbcory, Ior
ìt ìs mucb to Iar-rcacbìngand powcrIul to b trcatcd ìn anywa
/
as an aIìcrtbougbt, as bas bappcncd occasìonally. Translatìon
attaìns ìts Iull mcanìng ìn tbc rcalìzatìon tbat cvcry cvolvcd
languagc ¸wìtb tbccxccptìonoItbcwordoIGod)canbconsìdcrcd
asatranslatìonoIalltbcotbcrs. Bytbcrclatìon, mcntìoncd carlìcr,
oIlanguagcs as bctwccn mcdìa oIvaryìng dcnsìtìcs, tbc translat-
abìlìty oIlanguagcìnto onc anotbcrìs cstablìsbcd. Translatìonìs
rcmoval Irom onc languagc ìnto anotbcrtbrougba contìnuum oI
transIormatìons. Translatìon passcs tbrougb contìnua oI trans-
Iormatìon, notabstract arcasoIìdcntìty andsìmìlarìty.
Tbc translatìon oI tbc languagc oItbìngs ìnto tbat oIman ìs
not only a translatìon oI tbc mutc ìnto tbc sonìc, ìt ìs als tbc
translatìonoItbcnamclcsìntonamc. ItìstbcrcIorctbctranslatìon
oIanìmpcrIcctlanguagc ìntoa morc pcrIcct onc, and cannot but
l IB
add somcthìng to ìt, namcly knowlcdgc. Thc objcctìvìty oI thìs
translatìon ìs, howcvcr, guarantccd by God. lor Go crcatcd
thìngs ,thccrcatìvcwordìnthcmìsthcgcrmoIthccognìzìngnamc,
justasGod,too,hnallynamcdcach thìngaItcrìtwascrcatcd. But
obvìously thìs namìng ìs only an cxprcssìon oIthc ìdcntìty oIthc
crcatìvcword and thccognìzìngnamc ìn God, not thc prìor solu-
tìonoIthc task that Gocxprcsslyassìgnsto manhìmsclI. thatoI
namìng thìngs. ln rcccìvìng thc unspokcn namclcs languagc oI
thìngs and convcrtìng ìt by namc ìnto sounds, man pcrIorms thìs
task. ltwouldbìnsolublcwcrcnotthcnamc-languagcoImanand
thc namclcs onc oIthìngs rclatcd ìn Go and rclcascd Irom thc
samc crcatìvc word, whìch ìn thìngs bccamc thc communìcatìon
oI mattcr ìn magìc communìon, and ìn man thc languagc oI
knowlcdgc andnamcìnblìssIul mìnd. Hamannsays . 'Lvcrythìng
that man hcard ìn thc bcgìnnìng, saw wìth hìs cycs, and Iclt wìth
hìs hands was thc lìvìng word, Ior Go wa thc word. Wìth thìs
word ìn hìs mouth and ìn hìs hcart, thc orìgìn oIlanguagc was as
natural, as closc, and a casy as a chìld's gamc. . . . " lrìcdrìch
Míillcr,ìnhìspocm'Adam'sAwakcnìngandlìrstBlìssIulNìghts',
hasGodsummonmantonamc-gìvìngìnthcscwords . 'ManoIthc
carthstcpncar,ìngazìnggrowmorcpcrIcct,morcpcrIcctthrough
thc word. " By thìs combìnatìon oIcontcmplatìon and namìng ìs
ìmplìcd thc communìcatìng mutcncs oIthìngs ¸anìmals) toward
thc word languagc oIman, whìch rcccìvc thcm ìn namc. ln thc
samc chaptcroIthc pocm, thc poct cxprcssc thc rcalìzatìon that
onlythcwordIromwhìchthìngsarccrcatcdpcrmìtsmanto namc
thcm, by communìcatìng ìtsclIìn thc manìIold languagc oIanì-
mals, cvcnìImutcly, ìn thc ìmagc. God gìvcs cach bcasti tuna
sìgn, whcrcupon thcy stcpbcIorc man to bc namcd. lnan almost
sublìmcway thclìnguìstìccommunìtyoImutccrcatìonwìth Go
ìs thusconvcycdìnthcìmagc oIthc sìgn.
^ thc unspokcn word ìn thc cxìstcncc oIthìngs Ialls ìnhnìtcly
shortoIthcnamìngwordìnthcknowlcdgcoIman,andathclattcr
ìntun mustIallshortoIthc crcatìvcwordoIGod, thcnìs rcason
Ior thc multìplìcìty oIhuman languagcs. Thc languagc oIthìngs
can pas ìnto thc languagc oIknowlcdgc and namc only through
On Language as Such and on the Language ofMan 1 19
trans|ation~as manytrans|ations,m many|anguagesonce man
has fa||en from the paradisiacstate thatknew on|yone |anguage.
(According to the Bib|e, this consequence ofthe expu|sion from
paradise admitted|y came about on|y |ater.) The paradisiac
|anguage of man must have been one of perfect know|edge ,
whereas |atera||know|edgeis againinhnite|ydißerentiatedin the
mu|tip|icity of|anguage, wa indeed forced to dißerentiate itse|f
on a |ower |eve| as creation in name. For that the |anguage of
paradise was fu||y cognizant, even the existence of the tree of
know|edge cannot concea|. Its app|e were supposed to impart
know|edge ofgoo and evi|. But on the seventh day, Go had
a|ready cognized with the words ofcreation. And Go saw that
it wa good. The know|edge to which the snake seduces, that of
gooandevi|, is name|ess. Itis vainin the deepestsense,andthis
veryknow|edgeisitse|ftheon|yevi|knowntotheparadisiacstate.
Know|edge ofgoo and evi| abandons name, it is a know|edge
fromoutside, the uncreated imitation ofthecreativeword. Name
stepsoutsideitse|fin this know|edge. the Fa|| marks thebirthof
thehuma word, inwhichnameno|onger|ivesintact, andwhichhas
stepped out ofname |anguage, the |anguage ofknow|edge, from
what we may ca|| its own immanent magic, in order t become
express|y, as itwere externa||y, magic. Theword mustcommuni-
catesomethin ¸otherthanitse|[.Thatisrea||ytheFa||of|anguage-
mind. The word as something externa||y communicating, as it
were a parody by the express|y mediate word ofthe express|y
immediate,thecreativewordofGod,andthedecayoftheb|issfu|,
Adamite|anguage-mind thatstand between them. Forinrea|ity
there exists a fundamenta| identity between the word that, after
the promise ofthesnake, knowsgoodand evi|, andtheexterna||y
communicating word. The know|edge ofthings reside in name,
whereas that ofgoo and evil is, in the profound senx in which
Kierkegaardusestheword,'pratt|e',andknowson|yonepurihca-
tion and e|evation, to which the pratt|ing man, the sinner, was
thereforesubmitted.¡ udgment.Admitted|y,the¡udgingwordhas
direct know|edge ofgood andevi|. Itsmagicis dißerentfrom that
ofname, but equa||y magica|. This¡udging word expe|s the hrst
120
human bcìngs Irom paradìsc, thcy thcmsclvcs havc arouscd ìt ìn
accordancc wìth thcìmmutablc law bywhìch thìsjudgìng word
punìshcs÷andcxpccts÷ìtsownawakcnìngasthconly,thcdccpcst
guìlt. ln thc Iall, sìncc thcctcrnal purìtyoInamc wa vìolatcd,
thc stcrncr purìty oIthc judgìng word arosc. Ior thc csscntìal
composìtìon oI languagc thc Iall has a thrccIold sìgnìhcancc
¸wìthout mcntìonìngìtsothcrmcanìngs) . lnstcppìngoutsìdc thc
purcrlanguagc oInamc, man makcs languagca mcans ¸ thatìs, a
knowlcdgc ìnapproprìatc to hIm) , and thcrcIorc also, m onc part
at any ratc, a HtÏt sìgn, and thìs latcr rcsults ìn thc pluralìty oI
languagcs. Thc sccondmcanìngìs thatIrom thc Iall, ìn cxchangc
Ior thcìmmcdìaçoInamcdamagcdbyìt,ancwìmmcdìacyarìscs,
thc magìc oIjudgmcnt, whìch no longcr rcsts blìssIully ìn ìtsclí
Thc thìrd mcanìng that can pcrhaps bc tcntatìvcly vcnturcd ìs
that thc orìgìn oIabstractìon, too, a a IacultyoIlanguagc-mìnd,
ìs to bc soughtìn thc Iall. Iorgoo and cvìl, bcìng unnamablc,
namclcss, standoutsìdcthclanguagcoInamcs, whìchmanlcavcs
bchìnd prccìscly ìn thc abyss opcncd by thìs qucstìon. Namc,
howcvcr, wìth rcgardtocxìstìng languagc, oñcrs onlythcground
ìn whìch ìts concrctc clcmcnts arc rootcd. But thc abstract clc-
mcnts oI languagc÷wc may pcrhap surmìsc÷arc rootcd ìn thc
word oI judgmcnt. Thc ìmmcdìacy ¸whìch, howcvcr, ìs thc
lìnguìstìc root) oI thc communìcabìlìty oIabstractìon rcsìdc ìn
judgmcnt. Thìs ìmmcdìacy ìn thc communìcatìon oIabstractìon
camc ìnto bcìng asjudgmcnt, whcn, ìn thc Iall, man abandoncd
ìmmcdìacy ìn thc communìcatìon oIthc concrctc, namc, and Icll
ìntothcabysoIthcmcdìatcncsoIallcommunìcatìon,oIthcword
as mcans, oI thc cmpty word, ìnto thc abys oIprattlc. Ior÷ìt
¡ mustb saìd agaìn÷thc qucstìonas togooandcvìl ìn thcworld
\ aItcr crcatìon was cmpty prattlc. Thc trcc oIknowlcdgc dìd not
stand ìn thc gardcn oIGod ìn ordcr to dìspcnsc ìnIormatìon on
gooand cvìl, butasan cmblcm oIjudgmcntovcr thcqucstìoncr.
Thìsìmmcnscìronymarks thcmythìcalorìgìnoIlaw.
AIìcr thc Iall, whìch, ìn makìng languagc mcdìatc, laìd thc
Ioundatìon Ioritsmultìplìcìty, ìtcouldbconlyastcptolìnguìstìc
conIusìon. Sìncc mcn had ìnjurcd thcpurìtyoInamc, thc turnìng
On Language as Such and on the Language ofMan 121
away Irom that contcmplatìon oIthìngs ìn whìch thcìr languagc
passc ìnto man nccdcd only to b complctcd ìn ordcrto dcprìvc
mcn oIthc common Ioundatìon oI an alrcady shakcn languagc-
mìnd. Sign must bccomc conIuscd whcrc thìngs arc cntanglcd.
Thc cnslavcmcnt oIlanguagc ìn prattlc ìsjoìncd by thc cnslavc-
mcntoIthìngsìnIolly almostasìtsìncvìtablcconscqucncc. lnthìs
turnìng away Irom thìngs, whìch was cnslavcmcnt, thc plan Ior
thctowcroIBabclcamcìntobcìng,andlìnguìstìcconIusìonwìthìt.
Thc lìIc oIman ìn purc langua,c-mìnd was blìssIul. Naturc,
howcvcr, L mutc. Truc, ìtcan bcclcarly Icltìnthcsccondchaptcr
oIGcncsìs how thìs mutcncss, namcd by man, ìtsclIbccamc blìss,
onlyoIlowcrdcgrcc.lrìcdrìchMüllcrhasAdamsaytothcanìmals
thatlcavchìmaItcr hc hanamcdthcm, 'Andsawbythcnobìlìty
wìthwhìchthcylcapcdawayIrommcthatthcmanhadgìvcnthcm
a namc. " Alìcr thc lall, howcvcr, whcn God`s word cursc thc
ground, thc appcarancc oInaturc ìs dccply changcd. Now bcgìns
ìts othcr mutcncss, whìch wc mcan bythc dccpsadncsoInaturc.
lt ìs a mctaphysìcal trutb that all naturc would bcgìnto lamcnt
ìI ìt wcrc cndowcd wìth languagc. ¸Though to 'cndow wìth
languagc"ìsmorcthanto 'makcablctospcak`. ) Thìsproposìtìon
hasa doublc mcanìng. lt mcans, brst . shc wouldlamcntlanguagc
ìtscll. Spccchlcssncss . that ìs thc grcat sorrow oInaturc ¸and Ior
thc sakc oIhcrrcdcmptìonthclìIc and languagc oImaa÷notonly,
asìssupposcd,oIthcpoct÷arcìnnaturc) . Thìsproposìtìonmcans,
sccondly. shc would lamcnt. lamcnt, howcvcr, ìs thc most
undìñcrcntìatcd, ìmpotcnt cxprcssìon oI languagc, ìt contaìns
scarccly morc than thc scnsuous brcath, and cvcnwhcrc thcrcìs
onlya rustlìngoIplants, ìnìt thcrcìsalwaysalamcnt.Bccauscshc
L mutc, naturc mourns. Yct thc ìnvcrsìonoIthìsproposìtìon lcads
cvcnIurthcrìntothccsscnccoInaturc,thcsadncsoInaturcmakcs
hcr mutc. ln all mournìng thcrc L thc dccpcst ìnclìnatìon to
spccchlcssncss, whìch ìs ìnbnìtcly morc than ìnabìlìty or dìsìnclì-
natìonto communìcatc. ThatwhìchmournsIcclsìtsclIthotoughly
knownbythcunknowablc.Tob namcd÷cvcnwhcnthcnamcrìs
Godlìkc and blìssIul÷pcrhaps always rcmaìns an ìntìmatìon oI
mournìng. Buthow muchmorcmclancholyto b namcdnotIrom
122
· tbc onc blcsscd, paradìsìac languagc oI namcs, but Irom tbc
hundrcd languagcoIman, ìn wbìcb namc bas alrcady wìtbcrcd,
yct wbìcb, accordìng to God's pronounccmcnt, bavc knowlcdgc
oItbìngs. Tbìngs bavc nopropcrnamcs cxccpt ìn God. Ior ìn bìs
crcatìvc word, God callcd tbcm ìnto bcìng, callìng tbcm by tbcìr
propcr namcs. ln tbc languagc oI mcn, bowcvcr, tbcy arc ovcr-
¸namcd. Tbcrc ìs, ìn tbc rclatìon oI buman languagc to tbat oI
J
tbìn�s, �omctbìng tb�t can bc approxìma�cly �c�crìbcd Ü '

vcr-

nammg ' . ovcr-nammg Ü tbc dccpcst hnguìstìc rcason Ior all
¸m
¸
I
¿
ncboly and ¸Irom tbc poìnt oIvìcw oItbc tbìng) oIall dclì-
i bcratcmutcncss. ÒvcrnamìngÜ tbclìnguìstìcbcìngoImclancboly
poìnts to anotbcr curìous rclatìon oIlanguagc. tbc ovcrprccìsìon
tbat obtaìns ìn tbc tragìc rclatìonsbìp bctwccn tbc languagc oI
buman spcakcrs.
Tbcrcìsa languagc oIsculpturc, oIpaìntìng, oIpoctry.just Ü
tbclanguagcoIpoctryìspartly, ìInotsolcly, Ioundcdon tbc namc
languagc oIman, ìtìsvcry conccìvablc tbat tbclanguagcoIsculp-
turc or paìntìng L Ioundcd on ccrtaìn kìnds oItbìng languagcs,
tbatìn tbcmwcbnda translatìonoItbclanguagcoItbìngs ìntoan
ìnhnìtcly bìgbcr languagc, wbìcb may stìll b oItbc samc spbcrc.
Wc arc conccrncd bcrc wìtb namclcss, nonacoustìc languagcs,
languagc ìssuìngIrom mattcr, bcrc wc sbould rccall tbc matcrìal
communìtyoItbìngìntbcìrcommunìcatìon.
Morcovcr, tbc communìcatìonoItbìngs L ccrtaìnly communal
ìnawaytbatgrasptbcworldÜ sucbÜ anundìvìdcdwbolc.
Ior an undcrstandìngoIartìstìc Iorms ìt L oIvaluctoattcmpt
tograsp tbcm all Ü languagcs and to scck tbcìrconncctìon wìtb
natural languagcs. A cxamplc tbat L approprìatc bccaus ìt ìs
dcrìvcd Irom tbc acoustìc spbcrc ìs tbc kìnsbìpbctwccnsongand
tbc languagc oIbìrds. Òn tbc otbcr band, ìt L ccrtaìn tbat tbc
languagcoIartcanb undcrstoodonlym tbcdccpcstrclatìonsbìp
totbcdoctrìncoIsìgns.Wìtbouttbclattcranylìnguìstìcpbìlosopby
rcmaìns cntìrcly Iragmcntary, bccausc tbc rclatìonsbìp bctwccn
languagc and sìgn ¸oIwbìcb tbat bctwccn buman languagc and
wrìtìng oñcn only a vcry partìcular cxamplc) L orìgìnal and
Iundamcntal.
On Language as Such and on the Language ofMan 123
Thìs provìdc an opportunìty to dcscrìbc anothcr antìthcsìs
that pcrmcatcs thc whoIc sphcrc oIIanguagc and has ìmportant
rcIatìonsto thc antìthcsìs aIrcady mcntìoncdbctwccnIanguagcìn
a narrowcr scnsc and sìgns, wìth whìch, oIcoursc, Ianguagc by no
mcansncccssarìIycoìncìdcs. lor Ianguagcìs ìn cvcry cas notonIy
communìcatìonoIthc communìcabIc butaIso, at thcsamc tìmc, a
symboI oIthc noncommunìcabIc. Thìs symboIìc sìdc oIIanguagc
ìs conncctcd to ìts rcIatìon to sìgns, but cxtcnds morc wìdcIy, Ior
cxampIc, ìn ccrtaìn rcspccts, to namc andjudgmcnt. Thcs havc
not onIy a communìcatìng Iunctìon, but most probabIy aIso a
cIoscIy conncctcd symboIìc Iunctìon, to whìch, at Icast cxpIìcìtIy,
no rcIcrcncc has hcrc bccn madc.
Thcsc consìdcratìom thcrcIorc Icavc M a purìhcd conccpt oI
Ianguagc, cvcn though ìt may stìII bc an ìmpcrIcct onc. Thc
Iangu

gc oIÜ cntìty ìs thc mcdìum ìn whìch ìts mcntaI bcìng ìs
communìcatcd. Thc unìntcrruptcd ñow oI thìs communìcatìon
runsthroughthcwhoIcoInaturcIromthcIowcstIormsoIcxìstcncc
tomanandIrom mantoGod. Man communìcatc hìmscIItoGo
through namc, whìch hc gìvctonaturc and ¸ìnpropcrnamcs) to
hìs own kìnd, and to naturc hc gìvcs namc accordìng to thc
communìcatìonthathc rcccìvc Irom hcr, IorthcwhoIcoInaturc,
too, ìs ìmbucd wìth a namcIcss, unspokcn Ianguagc, thc rcsìduc
oIthc crcatìvc word oIGod, whìch ìs prcscrvcd ìn man as thc
cognìzìng namc and abovc man as thcjudgmcnt suspcndcd ovcr
hìm. Thc Ianguagc oInaturc ìs comparabIc to a sccrct password
that cach scntry passc to thc ncxt ìn hìs own Ianguagc, but thc
mcanìngoIthcpassword ìs thc scntry`s Ianguagc ìtscIí AII hìghcr
Ianguagc ìs a transIatìon oIthosc Iowcr, untìI ìn uItìmatc cIarìty
thcwordoIGodunIoIds,whíchìs thcunìqoIthìsmovcmcntmadc
up oIIanguagc.
Fate and Character
Iatc and charactcr arc commonly rcgardcd as causally con-
ncctcd, charactcr bcìng thc causc oI Iatc. Thc ìdca undcrlyìng
thìsìsthcIollowìng. ìIon thconc hand, thc charactcr oIa pcrson,
thc way ìn whìch hc rcacts, wcrc known ìn all ìts dctaìls, and ìI
on thc othcr, all thc cvcnu ìn thc arcas cntcrcd by that charactcr
wcrc known, both whatwouldhappcntohìm andwhat hcwould
accomplìsh could b cxactly prcdìctcd. That ìs, his Iatc would bc
known. Contcmporary ìdcas do not pcrmìt ìmmcdìatc logìcal
acccs to thc ìdca oIIatc, and thcrcIorc modcn mcn acccpt thc
ìdcaoIrcadìng charactcrIrom, Ior cxamplc, thc physìcal Icaturcs
oI a pcrson, bndìng knowlcdgc oI charactcr as such somchow
gcncrally prcscnt wìthìn thcmsclvcs, whcrca thc notion oI
analogouslyrcadìngapcrson'sIatc Iromthclìncìnhis handsccms
unacccptablc.Thìsappcanaìmpossìblcas'toprcdìctthcIuturc`,
Ior undcr thìs catcgory thc Iorctcllìng oIIatc ìs unccrcmonìously
subsumcd, whìlc charactcr appcars as somcthìng cxìstìng ìn thc
prcscnt and thc past and thcrcIorc a pcrccptìblc. lt ìs, howcvcr,
prccìscly thc contcntìonoIthosc who proIcs toprcdìct mcn`sIatc
Irom no mattcr what sìgns, that Ior thosc ablc to pcrccìvc ìt ¸who
hnd an ìmmcdìatc knowlcdgc oIIatc as such ìn thcmsclvcs) ìt ìs
ìn somc way prcscnt, or morc cautìously statcd, acccssìblc. Thc
supposìtìon that somc 'acccssìbìlìty" oIIuturc Iatc contradìcts
ncìthcr that conccpt ìtsclInor thc human powcrs oIpcrccptìon
prcdìctìngìt ìs not, as can b shown, nonscnsìcal. lìkc charactcr,
Iatc, too, can b apprchcndcdonlythroughsìgns, not ìn ìtsc|I, Ior
12
4
Fate and Character 125
cvcnìIthìsorthatcharactcr traìt, thìsorthatlìnkoIIatc,ìsdìrcctly
ìn vìcw, ìt ìs ncvcrthclcs a rclatìonshìp that ìs mcant by thcsc
conccpts, ncvcr acccssìblc cxccpt through sìgns bccausc ìt ìs
sìtuatcd abovc thc ìmmcdìatcly vìsìblc lcvcl. Thc systcm oI
charactcrologìcal sìgns ìs gcncrally conhncd to thc body, ìI wc
dìsrcgard thc charactcrologìcal sìgnìhcancc oI thosc sìgns ìn-
vcstìgatcdbythchoroscopc,whcrcasìnthctradìtìonalvìcwall thc
phcnomcnaoIcxtcrnallìIc,ìnaddìtìonto bodìlyoncs, canbccomc
sìgns oI Iatc. Howcvcr, thc conncctìon bctwccn thc sìgn and thc
sìgnìhcd constìtutc ìn both sphcrc an cqually hcrmctìc and
dìmcult problcm, though dìñcrcnt ìn othcr rcspccts, bccausc
dcspìtc all thc supcrhcìal obscrvatìon and Ialsc hypostasìzìng oI
thc sìgns, thcy do not ìn cìthcr systcm sìgnì[ charactcror Iatc on
thc basìs oIcausal conncctìons. A ncxus oImcanìng can ncvcr bc
Ioundcd causally, cvcn though ìn thc prcscnt casc thc cxìstcncc
oIthcsìgnsmayhavcbccnproduccdcausallybyIatcandcharactcr.
ThcìnquìrythatIollowsìsnotconccrncdwìthwhatsuchasystcm
oIsìgns Ior charactcr and Iatc ìs lìkc, but mcrcly wìth what ìt
sìgnìhcs.
Itcmcrgcs thatthc tradìtìonal conccptìon oIthcnaturc and thc
rclatìonshìp oIcharactcr and Iatc not only rcmaìns problcmatìc
ìnsoIar a ìt ìs ìncapablc oImakìng thc possìbìlìty oIa prcdìctìon
oIIatc ratìonally comprchcnsìblc, but that ìt ìs Ialsc, bccausc thc
dìstìnctìon on whìch ìt rcsts ìs thcorctìcally untcnablc. lor ìt ìs
ìmpossìblctoIormanuncontradìctoryconccptoIthccxtcrìoroIan
actìvc human bcìng thccorcoIwhomL takcnto b charactcr. No
dchnìtìonoIthc cxtcrnal world candìsrcgard thc lìmìu sct by thc
conccptoIthcactìvcman. Bctwccnthcactìvcmanandthccxtcrnal
world all ìs ìntcractìon, thcìr sphcrc oIactìon ìntcrpcnctratc, no
mattcr how dìñcrcnt thcìr conccptìons may bc, thcìr conccpts arc
ìnscparablc. Not only ìs ìt ìmpossìblc to dctcrmìnc ìn a sìnglc
casc what hnally ìs to bc consìdcrcd a Iunctìon oIcharactcr and
what a Iunctìon oI Iatc ìn a human lìIc ¸ thìs would makc no
dìñcrcncchcrcìIthc two onlymcrgcdìncxpcrìcncc) , thc cxtcrnal
world that thc actìvc man cncountcrs can also ìn prìncìplc bc
rcduccd, to any dcsìrcd dcgrcc, to his ìnncr world, and hìs ìnncr

126
world sìmìlarly tohìs outcr world, ìndccd rcgardcd ìn prìncìplc
a onc and thc samc thìng. Consìdcrcd ìn this way charactcr and
Iatc,IarIrombcìngthcorctìcallydìstìnct,coìncìdc. Suchìsthccasc
whcnNìctzschcsays, 'lIamanhacharactcr,hchaancxpcrìcncc
that constantly rccurs. " That mcans. ua man has charactcr hìs
Iatc ìs csscntìally constant. Admìttcdly, ìt also mcans . hc has no
Iatc÷aconclusìondrawnby thc Stoìcs.
lIaconccptoIIatcìstobattaìncd, thcrcIorc, ìtmustb clcarly
dìstìnguìshcd Irom that oI charactcr, whìch ìn tun cannot bc
achìcvcd untìl thc lattcr ha bccn morc cxactly dchncd. Òn thc
basìs oI thìs dchnìtìon thc two conccpu wìll bccomc wholly
dìvcrgcnt , whcrc thcrc ìs charactcr thcrc wìll, wìth ccrtaìnty, not
bc Iatc, and ìn thc arca oIIatc charactcr wìll not bc Iound. ln
addìtìon carc must bc takcn toassìgn both conccpts to sphcrc ìn
whìchthcydonot, ahappcnsìncommonspccch,usurpthcrankoI
hìghcr sphcrcandconccpts. Ior charactcrìs usually placcdìnan
cthìcal,Iatcìnarclìgìouscontcxt.WcmustbanìshthcmIrom both
rcgìons by rcvcalìng thc crror by whìch thcy wcrc placcd thcrc.
Thìscrrorìscauscd,arcgardsthcconccptoII atc,throughassocìa-
tìon wìth that oI guìlt. Thus, to mcntìon a typìcal casc, Iatc-
ìmposcdmìsIortuncìs sccna thc rcsponscoIGoorthcgodstoa
rclìgìousoñcncc.Doubtsconccrnìngthìsarcarouscd, howcvcr,by
thc abscncc oI any corrcspondìng rclatìon oI thc conccpt oIIatc
to thc conccpt that ncccssarìly accompanìc that oI guìlt ìn thc
cthìcal sphcrc, namcly that oIìnnoccncc. ln thc Grcck classìcal
dcvclopmcntoIthcìdcaoIIatc, thc happìncsgrantcd toa manìs
by no mcans undcrstoo a conhrmatìon oIan ìnnoccnt conduct
oIlìIc, but a a tcmptatìon to thc most grìcvous oñcncc, hubris.
Thcrc ìs, thcrcIorc, no rclatìon oI Iatc to ìnnoccncc. And-thìs
qucstìon strìkc cvcn dccpcr÷ha Iatc any rcIcrcncc to good
Iortunc, to happìncss? ls happìncss, as mìsIortunc doubtlcs ìs, an
ìntrìnsìc catcgory oIIatc? Happìncs ìs, rathcr, what rclcasc thc
IortunatcmanIromthccmbroìlmcntoIthcIatcandIromthcnct
oI hìs own Iatc. Holdcrlìn doc not Ior nothìng call thc blìssIul
gods 'Iatclcss`. Happìncsand blìssarc thcrcIorc no morc part oI
thc sphcrcoIIatc thanìsìnnoccncc. Butanordcrthcsolc ìntrìnsìc
Fate and Character 1 27
conccptsoIwhìcharcmìsIortuncandguìlt, andwìthìnwhìchthcrc
ìsnoconccìvablcpathoIlìbcratìon ¸IorìnsoIarasomcthìngìsIatc,
ìt ìs mìsIortunc and guìlt) ÷such an ordcrcannot b rclìgìous, no
mattcr how thc mìsundcrstoo conccpt oIguìltappcan t suggcst
thc contrary. Anothcr sphcrc must thcrcIorc b sought ìn whìch
mìsIortunc and guìlt alonccarrywcìght, a balancconwhìch blìss
and ìnnoccnccarcIound tolìghtand ñoatupward. Thìs balancc
ìs thc scalc oIlaw. Thc laws oIIatc÷mìsIortunc and guìlt-arc
clcvatcd by law to mcasurc oI thc pcrson, ìt would b Ialsc to
assumc that only guìlt ìs prcscnt ìn a lcgal contcxt, ìt is dcmon-
strablc that aIl lcgal guìlt ìs nothìng othcr than mìsIortunc.
Mìstakcnly, through conIusìngìtscIIwìth thcrcalmoI justìcc, thc
ordcr oI law, whìch ìs only a rcsìduc oI thc dcmonìc stagc oI
human cxìstcncc whcn lcgal statutc dctcrmìncd not only mcn`s
rclatìonshìpsbutalsothcìrrclatìontothcgods,hasprcscrvcdìtsclI
longpastthctìmcoIthcvìctoryovcrthcdcmons. ltwanotìnlaw
but ìntragcdythatthc hcadoIgcnìus lìItcd ìtsclIIor thcbrsttìmc
IromthcmìstoIguìlt, Ior ìntragcdydcmonìcIatc ìsbrcachcd. But
not by havìng thc cndlcs pagan chaìn oI guìlt and atoncmcnt
supcrscdcdbythcpurìtyoImanwhohacxpìatcdandìs wìth thc
purcgod. Rathcr, ìn tragcdypaganmanbccomcsawarcthat hc ìs
bcttcr than hìs god, but thc rcalìzatìon robs hìm oI spccch,
rcmaìns unspokcn. Wìthout dcclarìng ìtsclJ ìt sccks sccrctly to
gathcr ìts Iorccs. Guìlt and atoncmcnt ìt docs notmcasurcjustly
ìn thc balancc, but mìxcs ìndìscrìmìnatcly. Thcrc ìs no qucstìon
oIthc'moralworldordcr"bcìngrcstorcd,ìnstcad,thcmoralhcro,
stìll dumb, not yct oIagc÷as such hc ìs callcd a hcro÷wìshc to
raìschìmsclIbyshakìngthattormcntcdworld. ThcparadoxoIthc
bìrth oI gcnìus m moral spccchlcssncss, moral ìnIantìlìty, ìs thc
sublìmìty oItragcdy. lt ìs probably thc basìs oIall sublìmìty, ìn
whìch gcnìus, rathcr than God, appcars. Iatcshows ìtsclJ thcrc-
Iorc, ìn thc vìcwoIlìIc, a condcmncd, as havìng, at bottom, hrst
bccn condcmncd and thcn bccomc guìlty. Gocthc summarìzcs
bothphrascìn thcwords 'Thcpoormanyou lctbccomcguìlty. "
law condcmns, not to punìshmcnt but to guìlt. Iatc ìs thc guìlt
contcxt
¿
I thc lìvìng. lt corrcsponds to thc natural condìtìon
oI thc lìvìng, that ìllusìon not yct wholly dìspcllrd Irom whìch
man ìs m Iar rcmovcd that, undcr ìts rulc, hc was ncvcr wholly
ìmmcrscdìnìt,butonlyìnvìsìblcìnhìsbcstpart. ItìsnotthcrcIorc
rcallymanwhohasaIatc, rathcr, thcsubjcctoIIatc isìndctcrmìn-
ablc. Thc judgc can pcrccìvc Iatc whcrcvcr hc plcascs, wìth
cvcry judgmcnt hc must blìndly dìctatc Iatc. It ìs ncvcr man
butonlythclìIcìnhìmthatìtstrìkcs÷thcpartìnvolvcdìnnatural
guìlt and mìsIortunc by vìrtuc oIìllusìon. In thc manncr oIIatc,
this lìIc canb couplcd to cardsas to plancts, and thc cIaìrvoyantc
makcs usc oIthc sìmplc tcchnìquc oIplacìng ìt ìn thc contcxt oI
guìlt by mcans oI thc brst calculablc, dchnìtc thìngs that comc to
hand ¸thìng unchastcly prcgnant wìth ccrtaìnty) . Thcrcby shc
dìscovcrs ìn sìgns somcthìng about a natural lìIc ìn man that shc
sccks to substìtutc Ior thc hcad oIgcnìus mcntìoncd carlìcr , as,
on hìs sìdc, thc man who vìsìts hcr gìvcs way to thc guìlty lìIc
wìthìnhìmsclI Thcguìltcontcxtìstcmporalìnatotallyìnauthcntìc
way,vcrydìñcrcntìnìtskìndandmcasurcIromthctìmcoIrcdcmp-
tìon,oroImusìc,oroItruth.Òndctcrmìnìngthcpartìcularnaturc
oItìmc ìn Iatc dcpcnds thc complctc clucìdatìonoIthcsc mattcrs.
Thc Iortunc-tcllcrwhouscscardsand thc palmìsttcach us at lcast
thattìmccanatcvcrymomcntbcmadcsìmultancouswìthanothcr
¸not prcscnt) . It ìs not an autonomous tìmc, but ìs parasìtìcally
dcpcndcnt on thc tìmc oI a hìghcr, lcs natural lìIc. It has no
prcscnt, IorIatcIulmomcntscxìstonly ìn bad novcls, and past and
Iuturc ìt knows only ìn curìous varìatìons.
Thcrc ìs thcrcIorc a conccpt oI Iatc÷and ìt ìs thc gcnuìnc
conccpt, thc only onc that cmbraccs cqually Iatc ìn tragcdy and
thcìntcntìonsoIthcIortunc-tcllcr÷thatìscomplctclyìndcpcndcnt
oIthatoIcharactcr, havìng ìts Ioundatìon ìn ancntìrcly dìñcrcnt
sphcrc. Thc conccpt oIcharactcr must b dcvclopcd to a sìmìlar
lcvcl. It ìs no accìdcnt that both ordcrs arc conncctcdwìth ìntcr-
prctatìvc practìcc and that ìn chìromancy charactcr and Iatc
coìncìdc authcntìcally. Bothconccnthc natural man÷or, bcttcr,
thc naturc oIman, thc vcry bcìng that makcs ìts appcarancc ìn
sìgns that cìthcr occur spontancously or arc cxpcrìmcntally
produccd. Thc Ioundatìon oI thc conccpt oIcharactcr wìll thcrc-
Fate and Character 129
Iorc nccd lìkcwìsc to b rclatcd to a natural sphcrc and tohavc no
morc to do wìth cthìcs or moralìty thanIatc has wìth rclìgìon. Òn
thc othcr hand, thc conccpt oIcharactcr wìll havc to b dìvcstcd
oIthosc Icaturcs that constìtutcìts crroncous conncction to thatoI
Iatc. Thìs conncctìonìs cñcctcd by thc ìdcaoIa nctwork that can
btìghtcncdbyknowlcdgcatwìllìntoadcnscIabrìc,Iorthisìshow
charactcrappcarsto supcrbcìal obscrvatìon. Alongwìththcbroad
undcrlyìng traìts, thc traìncd cyc oI thc connoìsscur oI mcn ìs
supposcd to pcrccìvc hncr and closcr conncctìons, untìl what
lookcd lìkca nctìs tìghtcncdìntocloth. Inthc thrcadsoIthìswcIt
a wcak undcrstandìng bclìcvc ìt posscsscs thc moral naturc oIthc
charactcrconccrncdandcandìstìnguìshìtsgoodandbadqualìtìcs.
But, as moral phìlosophy is oblìgcd to dcmonstratc, only actìons
and ncvcrqualìtìcs can b oImoral ìmportancc. Appcaranccsarc
admìttcdly to thc contrary. Not just 'thìcvìsh', 'cxtravagant',
'couragcous' sccmtoìmplymoral valuatìons ¸cvcn lcavìngasìdc
thc apparcnt moral coloratìon oI thc conccpts) , but abovc all
words lìkc 'sclI-sacrìhcìng', 'malìcìous', 'vcngcIul', 'cnvìous'
sccm to ìndìcatc charactcr traìts that cannot b abstractcd Irom
moral valuatìon. Ncvcrthclcss, such abstractìon ìs ìn all cascs not
only possìblc but ncccssary ìn ordcr to grasp thc mcanìng oIthc
conccpt. Thìs abstractìon must bc such that valuatìon ìtsclI ìs
Iullyprcscrvcd, onlyìts moral acccntìswìthdrawn,togìvc way to
such condìtìonal cvaluatìons, ìn cìthcr a posìtìvc or a ncgatìvc
scnsc, as arc cxprcsscd by thc morally ìndìñcrcnt dcscrìptìons oI
qualìtìcs oIthc ìntcllcct ¸such as 'clcvcr" or 'stupìd') .
Thctrucsphcrc to whìchthcscpscudo-moralcharactcrdcscrìp-
tìons arc to bc consìgncdìs shownby comcdy. At ìts ccntrc, a thc
maìn protagonìstìn a comcdy oIcharactcr, stands oItcn cnough a
pcrson whom, ìIwcwcrcconIrontcdbyhìs actìons inlìIcìnstcadoI
by hìs pcrsononthcstagc,wcwouldcallascoundrcl. Ònthccomìc
stagc, howcvcr, hìs actìons takcon only thcìntcrcst shcd wìth thc
lìght oI charactcr, and thc lattcr ìs, ìn classìcal cxamplcs, thc
subjcct not oImoral condcmnatìon but oIhìgh amuscmcnt. Itìs
ncvcr ìn thcmsclvcs, ncvcr morally, that thc actìons oIthc comìc
hcroañccthìs publìc, hìsdccdsarcìntcrcstìngonlyìnsoIaras thcy
13°
rcñcct thc lìght oIcharactcr. Morcovcr, onc notcs that thc grcat
comìc playwrìght÷Ior cxamplc, Molìcrc÷docs not scck to dchnc
hìs crcatìons by thc multìplìcìty oIthcìr charactcr traìts. Òn thc
contrary, psychologìcal analysis ìs dcnìcd any acccs to hìs work.
lthasnothìng to dowìththcconccrnsoIpsychology ìImìscrlìncss
orhypochondrìa,ìnL' avare orL malad imaginaire, archypostasìzcd
as thc Ioundatìon oIall actìon. About hypochondrìa and mìscr-
lìncss thcsc dramas tcach nothìng, Iar Irom makìng thcm com-
prchcnsìblc, thcy dcpìct thcm wìth an ìntcnsìIyìng crassncss, ìI
thc objcct oI psychology ìs thc ìnncr lìIc oI man undcrstood
cmpìrìcally, Molìcrc'scharactcrs arc oIno usc to ìt cvcn a mcans
oIdcmonstratìon. CharactcrìsunIoldcdìn thcm lìkca sun, ìnthc
brìllìancc oI ìts sìnglc traìt, whìch allows no othcr to rcmaìn
vìsìblcìnìtsproxìmìty.ThcsublìmìtyoIcharactcrcomcdyrcstson
this anonymìty oI man and hìs moralìty, alongsìdc thc utmost
dcvclopmcnt oI ìndìvìdualìty through ìts cxclusìvc charactcr
traìt. Whìlc Iatc unIolds thc ìmmcnsc complcxìty oI thc guìlty
pcrson, thc complìcatìons and bonds oI hìs guìlt, charactcr gìvcs
this mystìcal cnslavcmcnt oIthc pcrson to thc guìlt contcxt thc
answcr oIgcnìus. Complìcatìon bccomcs sìmplìcìty, Iatc Irccdom.
Ior thc charactcr oIthc comìc bgurc ìs not thc scarccrow oIthc
dctcrmìnìst , ìt ìs thc bcacon ìn whosc bcams thc Irccdom oIhìs
actìonsbccomcsvìsìblc.TothcdogmaoIthcnaturalguìltoIhuman
lìIc, oIorìgìnalguìlt,thcìrrcdccmablc naturcoIwhìchconstìtutcs
thc doctrìnc, and ìts occasìonal rcdcmptìon thc cult, oIpaganìsm,
gcnìus opposcs a vìsìon oIthc natural ìnnoccncc oI man. Thìs
vìsìon rcmaìns Ior ìts part lìkcwìsc ìn thc rcalm oI naturc, yct
moral ìnsìghu arc stìll at aproxìmìty to ìts csscncc thatìs attaìncd
bythc opposcd ìdca onlyìn thc Iorm oItragcdy, whìch ìs not ìts
onlyIorm. ThcvìsìonoIcharactcr,onthcothcrhand,ìslìbcratìng
ìn all ìts Iorms . ìt is lìnkcd to Irccdom, as cannot b shown hcrc,
bywayoIìts amnìty tologìc. Thc charactcr traìtìs not thcrcIorc
thc knot ìn thc nct. lt ìs thc sun oIìndìvìdualìty ìn thc colourlcss
¸anonymous) sky oIman, whìch casu thc shadow oIthc comìc
actìon. ¸Thìs placc Cohcn`s proIound dìctum that cvcry tragìc
actìon, howcvcr sublìmcly ìt strìdc upon ìts cothurnus, casts a
Fate and Character 131
comicshadow, inits most appropriate context. )
Physiognomic signs, |ike other mantic symbo|s, serve for the
ancients primari|y the exp|oration offate, in accordance with the
dominanceofthepaganbe|iefingui|t.Thestudyofphysiognomy,
|ike comedy, wasamanifestationoftheneageofgenius. Modern
physiognomicrevealsitsconnectionwiththeo|dartofdivination
in the unfruitfu|, mora||y eva|uative accent of iu concepts, as
a|so in the striving for ana|ytica| comp|exity. In precise|y this
respect theancientand medieva| physiognomists sawthingsmore
c|ear|y, inrecognizingthatcharactercanon|yb graspedthrough
asma||numberofmora||yindiñerentbasicconcepts,|ikethose,for
examp|e, that the doctrineoftemperaments triedtoidentify.
Critique of Violence
Thc task ola crìtìquc ol vìolcncc can bcsummarìzcd Ü that ol
cxpoundìng ìts rclatìon to law andjustìcc. Ior a causc, howcvcr
cñcctìvc, bccomcs vìolcnt, ìn thc prccìsc scnsc olthc word, only
whcnìt bcars on moralìssucs. Thc sphcrc olthcscìssucsìs dcbncd
bythcconccpts ollawandjustìcc. Wìthrcgardto thchrstolthcsc,
ìt ìsclcar that thc mostclcmcntary rclatìonshìp wìthìn any lcgal
systcmìsthatolcndstomcans, and, lurthcr, thatvìolcncccanbrst
b sought only ìn thc rcalm olmcans, notolcnds. Thcsc obscrva-
tìons provìdc a crìtìquc ol vìolcncc wìth morc÷and ccrtaìnly
dìñcrcnt÷prcmìscs than pcrhaps appcars. Ior ìl vìolcncc ìs a
mcans, a crìtcrìon lor crìtìcìzìng ìt mìght sccm ìmmcdìatcly
avaìlablc. It ìmposc ìtscllìn thc qucstìon whcthcr vìolcncc, ìn a
gìvcn casc, ìs a mcans to ajust or an unjust cnd. A crìtìquc olìt
would thcn b ìmplìcd ìn a systcm oljust cnds. Thìs, howcvcr, ìs
notso. Ior what such asystcm, assumìngìtto bcsccurcagaìnstall
doubt, would contaìn is not a crìtcrìon lor vìolcncc ìtscll Ü a
prìncìplc, but,rathcr, thccrìtcrìonlor cascolìtsusc. Thcqucstìon
would rcmaìn opcn whcthcr vìolcncc, Ü a prìncìplc, could b a
moral mcam cvcn to just cnds. To rcsolvc this qucstìon a morc
cxact crìtcrìon ìs nccdcd, whìch would dìscrìmìnatc wìthìn thc
sphcrc ol mcans thcmsclvcs, wìthout rcgard lor thc cnds thcy
scrvc.
Thc cxclusìon olthis morc prccìsc crìtìcal approach is pcrhaps
thc prcdomìnant lcaturc ola maìn currcnt ollcgal phìlosophy.
natural law. Itpcrccìvcsìn thc uscolvìolcnt mcanst just cndsno
132
Critique i Violence 133
grcatcr problcm than a man scc ìn hìs 'rìght¨ to movc hìs body
ìn thc dìrcctìon oI a dcsìrcd goal. Accordìng to thìs vìcw ¸Ior
whìch thc tcrrorìsm ìn thc Ircnch Rcvolutìon provìdcd Ü ìdco-
logìcal Ioundatìon) , vìolcncc ìs a product oInaturc, a ìt wcrc a
raw matcrìal, thc usc oIwhìch ís ìn no way problcmatìcal, unlcss
Iorcc ìs mìsuscd Ior unjust cnds. lI, accordìng to thc thcory oI
statcoInatural law,pcoplcgìvc up all thcìrvìolcnccIor thcsakc oI
thc statc, thís ìs donc on thc assumptìon ¸whìch Spìnoza, Ior
cxamplc, statcs cxplìcìtly ìn hìs Tractatu Theologico-Politicus) that
thcìndìvìdual, bcIorc thc conclusìon oIthìs ratìonal contract, has
de jure thc rìght to usc at wìll thc vìolcncc that ís d fact at hìs
dìsposal. Pcrhap thcsc vìcws havc bccn rcccntly rckìndlcd by
Ðarwìn`s bìology, whìch, ìn a thoroughly dogmatìc manncr,
rcgardsvìolcnccas thconlyorìgìnal mcans, bcsìdcsnaturalsclcc-
tìon, approprìatcto allthcvìtalcndsoInaturc. PopularÐarwìnìs-
tìc phìlosophy has oItcn shown how short a stcp ìt ìs Irom thìs
dogmaoInaturaI hìstorytothcstìlIcrudcroncoIlcgalphìlosophy,
whìch holds that thc vìolcncc that ìs, almost alonc, approprìatc
to naturalcnds ís thcrcby also lcgal.
Thís thcsís oI natural law that rcgards vìolcncc as a natural
datum ìs dìamctrìcally opposcd to that oI posìtìvc law, whìch
scc vìolcncc a a product oIhìstory. lInatural law canjudgc all
cxìstìng law only ìn crìtìcìzìng ìts cnds, m posìtìvc law canjudgc
all cvolvìng law only ìn crìtìcìzìng ìts mcans. lIjustìcc ìs thc
crìtcrìon oI cnds, lcgalìty ìs that oI mcans. Notwìthstandìng thìs
antìthcsìs, howcvcr, both schools mcct ìn thcìr common basìc
dogma. just cnds can b attaìncd by justìbcd mcans, justìhcd
mcans uscd Iorjust cnds. Natural law attcmpts, by thcjustncsoI
thc cnds, to 'justìIy' thc mcans, posìtìvc law to `guarantcc¨ thc
justncss oI thc cnds through thcjustìhcatìon oI thc mcans. Thìs
antìnomywouldprovcìnsolublc ìIthccommondogmatìcassump-
tìonwcrc Ialsc, ìIjustìbcdmcanson thconc hand andjust cndson
thc othcr wcrc ìn ìrrcconcìlablc conßìct. No ìnsìght ìnto thís
problcmcouldbgaìncd,howcvcr,untìlthccìrcularargumcnthad
bccn brokcn, and mutuallyìndcpcndcnt crìtcrìa both oIjust cnds
andoIjustìhcd mcans wcrc cstablìshcd.
13
4
Thcrcalm oIcnds, and thcrcIorc also thc qucstìon oIa crìtcrìon
oIjustncss, ìs cxcludcd Ior thc tìmc bcìngIrom thìs study. lnstcad,
thc ccntral placc ìs gìvcn to thc qucstìon oIthc justìbcatìon oI
ccrtaìn mcans that constìtutc vìolcncc. Prìncìplcs oInatural law
cannot dccìdc thìs qucstìon, but can only lcad to bottomlcss
casuìstry. Ior ìIposìtìvc law ìs blìnd to thc absolutcncs oIcnds,
natural law ìs cqually so to thc contìngcncy oI mcans. Òn thc
othcrhand,thcposìtìvcthcoryoIlawìsacccptablcaahypothctìcal
basìsatthcoutsctoIthìsstudy,bccauscìtundcrtakcaIundamcntal
dìstìnctìonbctwccnkìndsoIvìolcnccìndcpcndcntlyoIcascoIthcìr
applìcatìon.Thìsdìstìnctìonìsbctwccnhìstorìcallyacknowlcdgcd,
so-callcd sanctìoncd vìolcncc, and unsanctìoncd vìolcncc. IIthc
Iollowìng consìdcratìons procccd Irom this ìt cannot, oIcoursc,
mcanthatgìvcnIormsoIvìolcnccarcclassìbcdìntcrmsoIwhcthcr
thcyarcsanctìoncdornot.IorìnacrìtìqucoIvìolcncc,acrìtcrìon
Ior thc lattcr ìn posìtìvc law cannot conccn ìts usc but only ìts
cvaluatìon. Thcqucstìonthatconccrm us ìs, whatlìght ìs thrown
on thc naturc oI vìolcncc by thc Iact that such a crìtcrìon or
dìstìnctìoncanbapplìcdtoìtatall, or,ìnothcrwords,whatìsthc
mcanìng oI thìs dìstìnctìon? That thìs dìstìnctìon supplìcd by
posìtìvc law ìs mcanìngIul, bascd on thc naturc oI vìolcncc, and
ìrrcplaccablc byanyothcr, wìllsooncnough b shown, but at thc
samc tìmc lìght wìll b shcd on thc sphcrc ìn whìch alonc such a
dìstìnctìon canbc madc. Tosumup.ìIthccrìtcrìoncstablìshcdby
posìtìvc law to asscss thc lcgalìty oIvìolcncc can b analyscd wìth
rcgard to ìts mcanìng, thcn thc sphcrc oIìu applìcatìon must bc
crìtìcìzcd wìth rcgard to ìts valuc. Ior thìs crìtìquc a standpoìnt
outsìdcposìtìvclcgalphìlosophybutalsooutsìdcnaturallawmust
b Iound. Thc cxtcnt to whìch ìt can only b Iurnìshcd by a
hìstorìco-phìlosophìcal vìcwoIlawwìll cmcrgc.
ThcmcanìngoIthc dìstìnctìon bctwccn lcgìtìmatc and ìllcgìtì-
matcvìolcncc ìs not ìmmcdìatcly obvìous. Thc mìsundcrstandìng
ìn natural law by whìch a dìstìnctìon ìs drawn bctwccn vìolcncc
uscd Ior just and unjust cnds must b cmphatìcally rcjcctcd.
Rathcr,ìthasalrcadybccnìndìcatcdthatposìtìvclawdcmandsoI
all vìolcncc a prooIoIìts hìstorìcal orìgìn, whìch undcr ccrtaìn
Critique o Violence 135
condìtìonsìsdcclarcdlcgal,sanctìoncd.Sìnccthcacknowlcdgmcnt
oIlcgalvìolcnccìsmosttangìblycvìdcntìnadclìbcratcsubmìssìon
to ìts cnds, a hypothctìcal dìstìnctìon bctwccn kìnds oIvìolcncc
must bc bascd on thc prcscncc or abscncc oIa gcncral hìstorìcal
acknowlcdgcmcntoIìtscnds.Lndsthatlacksuchacknowlcdgcmcnt
may bc callcd natural cnds, thc othcr lcgal cnds. Thc dìñcrìng
Iunctìon oI vìolcncc, dcpcndìng on whcthcr ìt scrvcs natural or
lcgal cnds, can b most clcarly traccd agaìnst a background oI
spccìbc lcgal condìtìons. Ior thc sakc oIsìmplìcìty, thc Iollowìng
dìscussìon wìll rclatc to contcmporary Luropcan condìtìons.
CharactcrìstìcoIthcsc, asIar as thcìndìvìdualaslcgalsubjcctìs
conccrncd, ìs thc tcndcncy not to admìt thc natural cnds oIsuch
ìndìvìduals ìn all thosc cascs ìn whìch such cnds could, ìn a gìvcn
sìtuatìon, bc uscIully pursucd by vìolcncc. This mcans . this lcgal
systcm trìc to crcct, ìn all arcas whcrc ìndìvìdual cnds could bc
uscIully pursucd by vìolcncc, lcgal cnds that can only bc rcalìzcd
by lcgal powcr. lndccd, ìt strìvcs tolìmìt by lcgal cnds cvcn thosc
arcas ìnwhìch natural cnds arc admìttcd ìn prìncìplc withìnwìdc
boundarìcs, lìkc that oIcducatìon, as soon as thcsc natural cnds
arc pursucd wìth an cxccssìvc mcasurc oIvìolcncc, as ìn thc laws
rclatìngto thc lìmìu oIcducatìonal authorìty to punìsh. ltcanbc
Iormulatcd as a gcncral maxìm oIprcscnt-day Luropcan lcgìsla-
tìon thatall thc natural cndsoIìndìvìdualsmustcollìdc wìth lcgal
cnds ìIpursucd wìth a grcatcr or lcsscr dcgrcc oIvìolcncc. ¸Thc
contradìctìon bctwccn thìs and thc rìght oIsclI-dcIcncc wìll bc
rcsolvcdìnwhatIollows.) Irom thìs maxìmìtIollowsthatlawsccs
vìolcncc ìn thc hands oIìndìvìduals as a dangcr undcrmìnìng thc
lcgal systcm. ^ a dangcr nullìIyìng lcgal cnds and thc lcgal
cxccutìvc? Ccrtaìnly not , Ior thcn vìolcncc as such would not bc
condcmncd,butonlythatdìrcctcd toìllcgal cnds. ltwìllbargucd
that a systcm oIlcgal cnds cannot bc maìntaìncd ìInatural cnds
arc anywhcrc stìll pursucd vìolcntly. ln thc hrst placc, howcvcr,
thisìsamcrc dogma. To countcrìt oncmìght pcrhap consìdcrthc
surprìsìng possìbìlìty that thc law's ìntcrcst ìn a monopoly oI
vìolcncc vìs-à-vìs ìndìvìduals ìs not cxplaìncd by thc ìntcntìon oI
prcscrvìng lcgal cnds but, rathcr, by that oI prcscrvìng thc law
' /
ìtsclI, thatvìolcncc, whcnnotìn thc handsoIthc law, thrcatcnsìt
notbythccndsthatìtmaypursucbutbyìumcrccxìstcnccoutsìdc
thclaw.Thcsamcmayb morcdrastìcallysuggcstcdìIoncrcñccts
howoItcnthchgurcoIthc 'grcat¨ crìmìnal, howcvcrrcpcllcnthìs
cnds may havc bccn, has arouscd thc sccrct admìratìon oI thc
publìc. Thìs cannot rcsult Irom hìs dccd, but only Irom thc
vìolcncc to whìch ìt bcars wìtncss. In this casc, thcrcIorc, thc
vìolcnccoIwhìch prcscnt-day lawìs scckìngìn all arcas oIactìvìty
todcprìvc thc ìndìvìdual appcars rcally thrcatcnìng, and arouscs
cvcn ìn dcIcat thc sympathy oI thc mass agaìnst law. By what
Iunctìonvìolcncc canwìth rcasonsccmso thrcatcnìngtolaw, and
bcsoIcarcdbyìt,mustbccspccìallycvìdcntwhcrcìts applìcatìon,
cvcnìnthcprcscntlcgalsystcm,ìsstìllpcrmìssìblc.
Thìsìsabovcall thccascìn thcclasstrugglc, ìn thcIorm oIthc
workcrs` guarantccd rìght to strìkc. Òrganìzcd labour ìs, apart
Irom thc statc, probably today thc only lcgal subjcct cntìtlcd to
cxcrcìscvìolcncc. Agaìnstthìsvìcw thcrcìs ccrtaìnly thc objcctìon
that an omìssìonoIactìons, a non-actìon, whìch astrìkcrcally ìs,
cannot bc dcscrìbcd a vìolcncc. Such a consìdcratìon doubtlcss
madcìtcasìcrIorastatcpowcrtoconccìvcthcrìghttostrìkc,oncc
thìswasnolongcravoìdablc.Butìtstruthìsnotuncondìtìonal, and
thcrcIorc not unrcstrìctcd. Itìs truc thatthcomìssìonoIanactìon,
or scrvìcc, whcrc ìt amounts sìmply to a 'scvcrìng oIrclatìons',
can b an cntìrcly non-vìolcnt, purc mcans. Andasìn thcvìcwoI
thc statc, or thc law, thc rìght to strìkc conccdcd to labour ìs
ccrtaìnly not a rìght to cxcrcìsc vìolcncc but, rathcr, to cscapc
Irom a vìolcncc ìndìrcctly cxcrcìscd by thc cmploycr, strìkcs
conIormìng to thìs may undoubtcdlyoccur Irom tìmc to tìmc and
ìnvolvc only a 'wìthdrawal¨ or 'cstrangcmcnt¨ Irom thc cm-
ploycr.ThcmomcntoI vìolcncc,howcvcr,ìsncccssarìlyìntroduccd,
ìn thc Iorm oIcxtortìon, ìnto such an omìssìon, ìIìt takcs placc ìn
thc contcxt oI a conscìous rcadìncs to rcsumc thc suspcndcd
actìon undcr ccrtaìn cìrcumstancc that cìthcr havc nothìng
whatcvcr to do wìth thìs actìon or only supcrhcìally modì[ ìt.
Lndcrstoodìnthìsway,thcrìghttostrìkcconstìtutcìnthcvìcwoI
labour, whìchìs opposcd to thatoIthc statc, thc rìght to uscIorcc
Critique ofViolence 137
ìn attammg ccrtaìn cnds. Thc antìthcsìs bctwccn thc two con-
ccptìons cmcrgcs ìn all ìts bìttcrncs ìn Iacc oIa rcvolutìonary
gcncral strìkc. In thìs, labour wìll always appcal to ìts rìght to
strìkc, and thc statc wìll call thìs appcal an abusc, sìncc thc rìght
to strìkc was not 'so ìntcndcd`, and takc cmcrgcncy mcasurcs.
lor thcstatc rctaìmthc rìghttodcclarc thata sìmultancous uscoI
strìkc ìnall ìndustrìcs ìs ìllcgal, sìncc thc spccìhcrcasonsIor strìkc
admìttcd by lcgìslatìon cannot bc prcvalcnt ìn cvcry workshop.
In thìs dìñcrcncc oI ìntcrprctatìon ìs cxprcsscd thc objcctìvc
contradìctìonìnthclcgalsìtuatìon,whcrcbythcstatcacknowlcdgcs
a vìolcncc whosc cnds, as natural cnds, ìt somctìmcsrcgards wìth
ìndìñcrcncc, but ìn a crìsìs ¸thc rcvolutìonary gcncral strìkc)
conIronu ìnìmìcally. lor, howcvcr paradoxìcal thìs may appcar
at hrst sìght, cvcn conduct ìnvolvìng thc cxcrcìsc oIa rìght can
ncvcrthclcss, undcrccrtaìncìrcumstanccs, b dcscrìbcd a vìolcnt.
Morc spccìbcally, such conduct, whcn actìvc, may b callcd
vìolcntìIìt cxcrcìscsa rìght ìnordcrtoovcrthrow thclcgalsystcm
that has conIcrrcd ì t , whcn passìvc, ìt ìs ncvcrthclcss to b so
dcscrìbcdìIìtconstìtutcscxtortìonìnthcscnsccxplaìncdabovc. It
thcrcIorc rcvcals anobjcctìvc contradìctìonì nthc lcgal sìtuatìon,
butnotalogìcalcontradìctìonìn thclaw, ìIundcrccrtaìncìrcum-
stancc thclawmcctsthcstrìkcrs,aspcrpctratorsoIvìolcncc, wìth
vìolcncc. lorìna strìkc thc statc Icars abovc all clsc that Iunctìon
whìch ìt ìs thc objcct oIthìs study to ìdcntì[ as thc only sccurc
Ioundatìon oIìts crìtìquc. lor ìI vìolcncc wcrc, as brst appcars,
mcrclythcmcamtosccurcdìrcctlywhatcvcrhappcnstobsought,
ìt could IulhII ìts cnd as prcdatoryvìolcncc. Itwould b cntìrcly
unsuìtablc as a basìs Ior, or a modìhcatìon to, rclatìvcly stablc
condìtìons. Thc strìkc shows, howcvcr, thatìt can b so, thatìt ìs
ablc to Iound and modì[ lcgal condìtìons, howcvcr oñcndcd thc
scnscoI j ustìccmayhndìtsclIthcrcby. Itwìllbcobjcctcdthatsuch
a Iunctìon oI vìolcncc ìs Iortuìtous and ìsolatcd. Thìs can bc
rcbuttcdbyaconsìdcratìonoImìlìtaryvìolcncc.
ThcpossìbìlìtyoImìlìtarylawrcstsoncxactlythcsamcobjcctìvc
contradìctìonìn thc lcgaI sìtuatìon as docs thatoIstrìkc law, that
ìs to say, on thc Iact that lcgal subjccts sanctìon vìolcncc whosc
cndsrcmaìnIor thc sanctìoncrs natural cnds, and can thcrcIorc ìn
a crìsìs comc ìnto conßìct wìth thcìr own lcgal or natural cnds.
Admìttcdly, mìlìtary vìolcncc ìs ìn thc brst placc uscd quìtc
dìrcctly, a prcdatory vìolcncc, toward ìu cnds. Yct ìt ìs vcry
strìkìng that cvcn÷or, rathcr, prccìscly÷ìn prìmìtìvc condìtìons
that know hardly thc bcgìnnìngs oIconstìtutìonal rclatìons, and
cvcnìn cascs whcrc thcvìctorhas cstablìshcd hìmsclIìn ìnvulncr-
ablc posscssìon, a pcacc ccrcmony ìs cntìrcly ncccssary. lndccd,
thcword 'pcacc', ìnthcscnsc ìnwhìchìt ìsthccorrclatìvc to thc
word 'war" ¸Ior thcrc ìs also a quìtc dìñcrcnt mcanìng, sìmìlarly
unmctaphorìcal and polìtìcal, thc onc uscd by Kant ìn talkìng oI
'Ltcrnal Pcacc') , dcnotc thìs a prìorì, ncccssary sanctìonìng,
rcgardlcs oI all othcr lcgal condìtìons, oI cvcry vìctory. Thìs
sanctìon consìsts prccìscly ìn rccognìzìng thc ncw condìtìons asa
ncw 'law', quìtc rcgardlcs oI whcthcr thcy nccd d fact any
guarantcc oIthcìr contìnuatìon. lI thcrcIorc, conclusìons can bc
drawn Irom mìlìtary vìolcncc, as bcìng prìmordìal and paradìg-
matìc oIall vìolcncc uscd Ior natural cnds, thcrc ìs ìnhcrcntìnall
suchvìolcnccalaw-makìngcharactcr. Wcshall rcturnlatcrto thc
ìmplìcatìons oI thìs ìnsìght. lt cxplaìns thc abovc-mcntìoncd
tcndcncyoImodcnlawtodìvcst thcìndìvìdual, at lcastasa lcgal
subjcct, oI all vìolcncc, cvcn that dìrcctcd only to natural cnds.
lnthcgrcatcrìmìnalthìsvìolcnccconIrontsthclawwìththcthrcat
oI dcclarìng a ncw law, a thrcat that cvcn today, dcspìtc ìts
ìmpotcncc, ìn ìmportant ìnstanccs horrìbc thc publìc as ìt dìd ìn
prìmcval tìmcs. Thc statc, howcvcr, Ican thìs vìolcncc sìmply
Ior ìts law-makìng charactcr, bcìng oblìgcd to acknowlcdgc ìt as
law-makìng whcncvcr cxtcrnal powcrs Iorcc ìt to conccdc thcm
thcrìghtto conductwarIarc, and classcsthcrìghttostrìkc.
lIìnthclastwarthccrìtìqucoImìlìtaryvìolcnccwasthcstartìng
poìnt Ior a passìonatc crìtìquc oI vìolcncc ìn gcncral÷whìch
taughtat lcastoncthìng,thatvìolcncc ìsnolongcr cxcrcìscd and
tolcratcd na:vcly÷ncvcrthclcss, vìolcncc was not only subjcct to
crìtìcìsm Ior ìts law-makìng charactcr, but was als judgcd,
pcrhaps morc annìhìlatìngly, Ior anothcr oIìu Iunctìons. Ior a
dualìty ìn thc Iunctìon oIvìolcncc ìs charactcrìstìc oI mìlìtarìsm,
Critique ojViolence 139
whìch could only comc ìnto bcìng through gcncral conscrìptìon.
Mìlìtarìsmìs thccompulsory, unìvcrsal uscoIvìolcncc aa mcans
tothccndsoIthcstatc.ThìscompulsoryuscoIvìolcncchasrcccntIy
bccnscrutìnìzcd ascloscly as, orstìllmorccloscly than, thcuscoI
vìolcnccìtscII InìtvìolcnccshowsìtsclIìnaIunctìonquìtcdìñcrcnt
Irom ìu sìmplc applìcatìon Ior natural cnds. Itconsìsu ìn thc usc
oI vìolcncc a a mcans oI lcgal cnds. Ior thc subordìnatìon oI
cìtìzcns to laws÷ìn thc prcscnt casc, to thc law oI gcncral con-
scrìptìon÷ìsa lcgal cnd. IIthat hrst Iunctìon oIvìolcncc ìs callcd
thc Iaw-makìng Iunctìon, thìs sccond wìll b callcd thc law-
prcscrvìngIunctìon. Sìncc conscrìptìon ìsa cascoIlaw-prcscrvìng
vìolcncc thatìs notìn prìncìplc dìstìnguìshcd Irom othcrs, a rcalIy
cñcctìvc crìtìquc oIìt ìs Iar lcss casy than thc dcclamatìons oI
pacìhsts and actìvìsts suggcst. Rathcr, such a crìtìquc coìncìdcs
wìth thc crìtìquc oIall lcgal vìoIcncc÷that ìs, wìth thc crìtìquc
oIlcgalorcxccutìvcIorcc÷and cannot bc pcrIormcdbyanylcsscr
programmc. Nor, oIcoursc÷unlcs onc ìs prcparcd to procIaìm
a quìtc chìldìsh anarchìsm÷ìsìt achìcvcdby rcIusìngtoacknow-
lcdgc anyconstraìnt toward pcrsons and dccIarìng 'What pIcascs
ìs pcrmìttcd`. Such a maxìm mcrcly cxcludcs rcñcctìon on thc
moral and hìstorìcal sphcrcs, and thcrcby on any mcanìng ìn
actìon, and bcyond thìs on any mcanìng ìn rcaIìty ìtscll, whìch
cannotbcconstìtutcdìI'actìon'` ìsrcmovcdIromìtssphcrc. Morc
ìmportantìs thcIactthatcvcn thc appcaI,soIrcqucntlyattcmptcd,
to thc catcgorìcal ìmpcratìvc, wìth ìts doubtIcs ìncontcstablc
mìnìmum programmc÷actìnsuchawaythatataII tìmcsyouusc
humanìty both ìn your pcrson and ìn thc pcrson oIalI othcrs as
an cnd, and ncvcr mcrcly a a mcans÷ìs ìn ìtsclIìnadcquatc Ior
such a crìtìquc.* Ior posìtìvc law, ìI conscìous oI ìts roots, wìll
ccrtaìnIy claìm toacknowlcdgc and promotc thc ìntcrcst oIman-
kìnd ìn thc pcrson oIcach ìndìvìdual. It scc thìs ìntcrcst ìn thc
rcprcscntatìon and prcscrvatìon oI an ordcr ìmposcd by Iatc.
Whìlc thìs vìcw, whìch claìms to prcscrvc law ìn ìts vcry basìs,
¯ One might, rather, doubt whether this famous demand doe not contain too
little, that is, whether it i permissible to use, or allow to b used, oneself or another
in any respect B a means. Very goo grounds for such doubt could b adduced.
cannot cscap crìtìcìsm, ncvcrthclcs all attacks that arc madc
mcrclyìn thcnamcoIaIormlcs 'Irccdom¨ wìthoutbcìngablcto
spccì[ thìs hìghcr ordcr oIIrccdom, rcmaìn ìmpotcnt agaìnst ìt.
And most ìmpotcnt oIall whcn, ìnstcad oIattackìng thc lcgal
systcm root and branch, thcy ìnpugn partìcular laws or lcgal
practìcc that thc law, oIcoursc, takcs undcr thc protcctìon oIìts
powcr, whìchrcsìdcìn thcIact thatthcrcìsonlyonc Iatc andthat
what cxìsts, and ìn partìcular what thrcatcns, bclongs ìnvíolably
toìts ordcr. Iorlaw-prcscrvìngvìolcncc ìsa thrcatcnìng vìolcncc.
And ìts thrcat ìs not ìntcndcd a thc dctcrrcnt that unìnIormcd
lìbcral thcorìsts ìntcrprct ìt to bc. A dctcrrcnt ìn thc cxact scnsc
wouldrcquìrcaccrtaìntythatcontradìctsthcnaturcoIathrcatand
ìsnotattaìncdbyanylaw,sìncc thcrc isalways hopoIcludìngìts
arm. Thìs makc ìt all thc morc thrcatcnìng, lìkc Iatc, on whìch
dcpcnds whcthcr thc crìmìnal ìs apprchcndcd. Thc dccpcst
purposcoIthcunccrtaìntyoIthclcgalthrcatwìllcmcrgc Irom thc
latcr consìdcratìon oI thc sphcrc oI Iatc ìn whìch ìt orìgìnatcs.
ThcrcìsauscIulpoìntcrtoìtìnthcsphcrcoIpunìshmcnts. Among
thcm, sìncc thc valìdìty oI posìtìvc law has bccn callcd ìnto
qucstìon, capìtal punìshmcnt ha provokcd morc crìtìcìsm than
allothcrs. Howcvcr supcrhcìal thc argumcnts may ìn most cascs
havc bccn, thcìr motìvc wcrc and arc rootcd ìn prìncìplc. Thc
opponcntoIthcsc crìtìc Iclt, pcrhaps wìthout knowìng why and
probably ìnvoluntarìly, that an attack on capìtal punìshmcnt
assaìls, notlcgaI mcasurc,notlaws, butlawìtscllìnìtsorìgìn. Ior
ìIvìolcncc, vìolcncc crowncd byIatc, ís thc orìgìn ollaw, thcnìt
maybrcadìlysupposcdthatwhcrcthchìghcstvìolcncc,thatovcr
lìIc and dcath, occurs ìn thc lcgal systcm, thc orìgìns oIlaw|ut
manìlcstly andIcarsomcly ìnto cxìstcncc. ln agrccmcnt wìth thìs
ìs thc Iact that thc dcath pcnalty ìn prìmìtìvc lcgal systcms ìs
ìmposcd cvcn Ior such crìmc a oñcnsc agaìnst propcrty, to
whìch ìt sccms quìtc out oI 'proportìon`. lts purposc ìs not to
punìsh thc ìnIrìngcmcnt oIlaw but to cstablìsh ncw law. Ior ìn
thc cxcrcìscoIvìolcnccovcrlìIc and dcath morc thanìn anyothcr
lcgal act, lawrcamrms ìtsclI But ìn thìs vcryvìolcncc somcthìng
rottcnìnlawìsrcvcalcd,abovcalltoahncrscnsìbìlìty,bccausthc
Critique ofViolence 141
Iattcr knows ìtscIIto bc ìnhnìtcIy rcmotc Irom condìtìonsì nwbìcb
IatcmìgbtìmpcrìousIybavcsbownìtscIIìnsucbascntcncc.Rcason
must, bowcvcr, attcmpttoapproacbsucb condìtìonsal|tbcmorc
rcsoIutcIy, ìIìt ìs tobrìngtoa concIusìon ìts crìtìquc oIbotbIaw-
makìngand Iaw-prcscrvìng vìoIcncc.
lnaIar morc unnaturaIcombìnatìon tbanìntbcdcatbpcnaIty,
ìn a kìnd oI spcctraI mìxturc, tbcsc two Iorms oIvìoIcncc arc
prcscntìnanotbcrìnstìtutìonoItbcmodcrnstatc,tbcpoIìcc.Truc,
tbìsìsvìoIcncc Ior IcgaIcnds ¸ìntbcrìgbtoIdìsposìtìon) , but wìtb
tbc sìmuItancousautborìtytodccìdctbcsccndsìtscIIwìtbìn wìdc
Iìmìts ¸ìntbcrìgbtoIdccrcc) . TbcìgnomìnyoIsucb an autborìty,
wbìcb ìs IcIt by Icw sìmpIy bccausc ìu ordìnancc sumcc onIy
scIdom Ior tbc crudcst acts, but arc tbcrcIorc aIIowcdtorampagc
aII tbc morc bIìndIy ìn tbc most vuIncrabIc arca and agaìnst
tbìnkcrs, Irom wbom tbc statcìs notprotcctcd byIaw÷tbìs ìgno-
mìny Iìcs ìn tbc Iact tbat ìn tbìs autborìty tbc scparatìon oIIaw-
makìng and Iaw-prcscrvìng vìoIcncc ìs suspcndcd. lItbc brst ìs
rcquìrcd to provc ìts wortb ìn vìctory, tbc sccond ìs subjcct to tbc
rcstrìctìon tbat ìt may not sct ìtscIIncw cnds. PoIìcc vìoIcncc ìs
cmancìpatcd Irom botb condìtìons. lt ìs Iaw-makìng, Ior ìts
cbaractcrìstìc Iunctìon ìs not tbc promuIgatìon oIIaws but tbc
asscrtìonoIIcgaIcIaìmsIoranydccrcc,andIaw-prcscrvìng,bccausc
ìt ìs at tbc dìsposaI oItbcsc cnds. Tbc asscrtìon tbat tbc cnds oI
poIìcc vìoIcncc arcaIways ìdcntìcaI orcvcn conncctcd totbosc oI
gcncraI Iaw ìs cntìrcIy untruc. Ratbcr, tbc 'Iaw¨ oItbc poIìcc
rcaIIy marks tbcpoìntatwbìcbtbcstatc,wbctbcrIrom ìmpotcncc
or bccausc oItbc ìmmancntconncctìonswìtbìn anyIcgaI systcm,
can no Iongcr guarantcc tbrougb tbc IcgaI systcm tbc cmpìrìcaI
cnds tbat ìt dcsìrcs at any prìcc to attaìn. TbcrcIorc tbc poIìcc
ìntcrvcnc 'Ior sccurìty rcasons¨ ìn countIcss cascs wbcrc no cIcar
IcgaI sìtuatìon cxìsts, wbcn tbcy arc not mcrcIy, wìtbout tbc
sIìgbtcst rcIatìon to IcgaI cnds, accompanyìng tbc cìtìzcn a a
brutaI cncumbrancc tbrougb a IìIc rcguIatcd by ordìnanccs, or
sìmpIy supcrvìsìng bìm. LnIìkc Iaw, wbìcb acknowIcdgc ìn tbc
'dccìsìon¨ dctcrmìncd bypIaccandtìmcamctapbysìcaI catcgory
tbat gìvc ìt a cIaìm to crìtìcaI cvaIuatìon, a consìdcratìon oItbc
polìcc ìnstìtutìon cncountcrs nothìng csscntìal at all. lts powcr ìs
Iormlcss, lìkc ìunowhcrc tangìblc, all-pcrvasìvc, ghostly prcscncc
ìn thc lìIc oI cìvìlìzcd statcs. And though thc polìcc may, ìn
partìculars, cvcrywhcrc appcar thc samc, ìt cannot b nally bc
dcnìcd thatthcìrspìrìtìslcssdcvastatìngwhcrc thcyrcprcscnt,ìn
absolutc monarchy, thc powcr oIa rulcr ìn whìch lcgìslatìvc and
cxccutìvc suprcmacyarc unìtcd, than ìn dcmocracìc whcrc thcìr
cxìstcncc, clcvatcd by no such rclatìon, bcars wìtncs to thc
grcatcstconccìvablcdcgcncratìonoIvìolcncc.
Allvìolcncc aa mcansìscìthcr law-makìngorlaw-prcscrvìng.
lIìtlays claìm to ncìthcroIthcsc prcdìcatcs, ìt IorIcìts all valìdìty.
ltIollows, howcvcr, thatallvìolcncc a a mcans, cvcnìn thc most
Iavourablc casc, ìs ìmplìcatcd ìn thc problcmatìc naturc oI law
ìtsclí AndìIthc ìmportancc oIthcsc problcms cannot b asscsscd
wìth ccrtaìnty at thìs stagc oIthc ìnvcstìgatìon, law ncvcrthclcss
appcars, Irom what has bccn saìd, ìn so ambìguous a moral lìght
thatthcqucstìonposcsìtsclIwhcthcrthcrcarcnoothcrthanvìolcnt
mcansIor rcgulatìngconßìctìnghumanìntcrcsts.Wcarcabovcall
oblìgatcd to notc thata totally non-vìolcnt rcsolutìon oIconßìcts
can ncvcrlcad toa lcgal contract. Ior thc lattcr, howcvcr pcacc-
Iully ìtmay havc bccn cntcrcdìnto by thc partìcs, lcadshnallyto
possìblc vìolcncc. lt conIcrs on both partìc thc rìght to takc
rccoursctovìolcnccìnsomcIormagaìnstthcothcr,shouldhcbrcak
thc agrccmcnt. Not only that , lìkc thc outcomc, thc orìgìn oI
cvcrycontract also poìntstowardvìolcncc. ltnccd not b dìrcctly
prcscnt ìn ìt a law-makìng vìolcncc, but ìs rcprcscntcd ìn ìt
ìnsoIar as thc powcr that guarantcc a lcgal contract L m tun oI
vìolcnt orìgìn cvcn ìIvìolcncc L not ìntroduccd ìnto thc contract
ìtsclí Whcn thc conscìousncs oIthc latcnt prcscncc oIvìolcncc
ìn a lcgal ìnstìtutìon dìsappcars, thc ìnstìtutìon Ialls ìnto dccay.
lnourtìmc,parlìamcntsprovìdcancxamplcoIthìs.Thcyoñcrthc
Iamìlìar, wocIul spcctaclc bccausc thcy havc not rcmaìncd
conscìous oI thc rcvolutìonary Iorcc to whìch thcy owc thcìr
cxìstcncc. Accordìngly, ìn Gcrmany ìn partìcular, thc last manì-
Icstatìon oIsuch Iorcc borc no Iruìt Ior parlìamcnts. Thcy lack
thcscnscthatalaw-makìngvìolcnccìsrcprcscntcdby thcmsclvcs ,
Critique ojViolence 143
nowondcrthatthcycannotachìcvcdccrccsworthyoIthìsvìolcncc,
but cultìvatc ìn compromìsc a supposcdly non-vìolcnt manncr oI
dcalìng wìth polìtìcal añaìrs. Thìs rcmaìns, howcvcr, a 'product
sìtuatcd wìthìn thc mcntalìty oI vìolcncc, no mattcr how ìt may
dìsdaìnallopcnvìolcncc, bccauscthc cñort toward compromìscìs
motìvatcd not ìntcrnally but Irom outsìdc, by thc opposìngcñort,
bccausc no compromìsc, howcvcr Irccly acccptcd, L conccìvablc
wìthout a compulsìvc charactcr. ' It would b bcttcr othcrwìsc`
ìsthcundcrlyìngIcclìngìncvcrycompromìsc. `*Sìgnìhcantly, thc
dccay oIparlìamcnts ha pcrhaps alìcnatcd as many mìnds Irom
thc ìdcal oIa non-vìolcnt rcsolutìon oIpolìtìcal conñìcts as wcrc
attractcd to ìt by thc war. Thc pacìhsts arc conIrontcd by thc
Bolshcvìks and Syndìcalìsts. Thcsc havc cñcctcd an annìhìlatìng
and on thc wholc apt crìtìquc oIprcscnt-day parlìamcnts. Ncvcr-
thclcss, howcvcr dcsìrablc andgratìIyìnga ñourìshìng parlìamcnt
mìght bc by comparìson, a dìscussìonoImcans oIpolìtìcal agrcc-
mcnt that arc ìn prìncìplc non-vìolcnt cannot b conccrncd wìth
parlìamcntarìanìsm. Iorwhat parlìamcnt achìcvcs ìn vìta!añaìrs
can only bc thosclcgaldccrccsthatìnthcìrorìgìnand outcomcarc
attcndcd by vìolcncc.
Is any non-vìolcnt rcsolutìon oI conñìct possìblc? Wìthout
doubt. Thc rclatìonshìp oIprìvatcpcrsonsarcIull oIcxamplcoI
thìs.Non-vìolcntagrccmcntLpossìblcwhcrcvcracìvìlìzcdoutlook
allows thc uscoIunalloycd mcansoIagrccmcnt. lcgal and ìllcgal
mcansoIcvcrykìndthatarcallthcsamcvìolcntmaybconIrontcd
wìth non-vìolcnt oncs as unalloycd mcans. Courtcsy, sympathy,
pcaccablcncss, trust, and whatcvcr clsc mìght hcrc bc mcntìoncd,
arc thcìr subjcctìvc prccondìtìons. Thcìr objcctìvc manìIcstatìon,
howcvcr, ìs dctcrmìncd by thc law ¸thc cnormous scopcoIwhìch
cannotbc dìscusscd hcrc) thatunalloycd mcans arc ncvcr thoscoI
dìrcct, butalways thoscoIìndìrcctsolutìons. ThcythcrcIorc ncvcr
applydìrcctly to thc rcsolutìonoIconñìctbctwccn man and man,
but onlytomattcrs conccrnìng objccts. Thc sphcrc oInon-vìolcnt
mcansopcns up ìn thc rcalmoIhuman conñìcts rclatìngto goods.
Iorthìsrcason tcchnìquc ìn thc broadcstscnscoIthcwordu thcìr
¯ Unger, Politik und Metaphysik, Berlin 1 92 I, p. 8.
144
most particular arca. lts proIoundcst cxamplc ìs pcrhaps thc
conIcrcncc, considcrcd as a tcchniquc oIcivil agrccmcnt. Ior init
not only is nonviolcnt agrccmcnt possiblc, but also thc cxclusion
oIviolcncc in principlc is quitc cxplicitly dcmonstrablc by onc
signihcant Iactor . thcrc is no sanction Ior lying. Probably no
lcgislation on carth originally stipulatcd such a sanction. This
makcs clcar that thcrc is a sphcrc oI human agrccmcnt that is
nonviolcnt tothc cxtcntthatit is whollyinacccssiblc toviolcncc .
thcpropcrsphcrcoI'undcrstanding`,languagc.Ònlylatcandina
pcculiar proccss oIdccay has it bccn pcnctratcd by lcgal violcncc
inthc pcnaltyplaccdonIraud. Ior whcrca thclcgalsystcm at its
origin, trusting to its victorious powcr, is contcnt to dcIcat law-
brcakingwhcrcvcrithappcns toshowitsclI anddcccption, having
itsclIno tracc oIpowcr about it, was, on thc principlc ius civile
vigilantibus scriptum est, cxcmpt Irom punishmcnt in Roman and
ancicntGcrmaniclaw, thclawoIalatcrpcriod,lackingconhdcncc
in its own violcncc, no longcr Iclt itsclIa match Ior that oIall
othcrs. Rathcr, Icar oIthc lattcr and mistrust oIitsclIindicatc its
dccliningvitality. lt bcgins to sct itsclIcnds, with thc intcntion oI
sparing law-prcscrving violcncc morc taxing maniIcstations. lt
turns toIraud, thcrcIorc, notoutoImoral considcrations, but Ior
Icar oIthc violcncc that it might unlcash in thc dcIraudcd party.
Sincc such Icar conßicu with thc violcnt naturc oIlaw dcrivcd
Irom itsorigins, such cndsarcinappropriatctothcjustibcd mcans
oIlaw.ThcyrcñcctnotonlythcdccayoIitsownsphcrc, butalsoa
diminution oIpurc mcans. Ior, in prohibitingIraud, law rcstricts
thc usc oIwholly nonviolcnt mcans bccausc thcy could producc
rcactivcviolcncc.ThìstcndcncyoIIawhasalsoplaycdapartinthc
conccssionoIthc right tostrikc, which contradicts thc intcrcsuoI
thc statc. lt grants this right bccausc it Iorcstalls violcnt actions
thcstatc is aIraid toopposc. Ðid not workcn prcviously rcsort at
oncc to sabotagcand sctbrcto Iactorics³ To inducc mcnto rccon-
cilc thcir intcrcsts pcaccIully without involving thc lcgal systcm,
thcrcis,inthccnd, apartIromallvirtucs,onccñcctivcmotivcthat
oIìcn puu into thc most rcluctant hands purc ìnstcad oI violcnt
mcans, it is thc Icar oI mutual disadvantagcs that thrcatcn to
Critique oj Violence 145
arìsc Iro

vìolcnt conIrontatìon, whatcvcr thc outcomc mìght bc.
Such motìvcs arc clcarly vìsìblc ìn countlcs casc oIconñìct oI
ìntcrcsts bctwccn prìvatc pcrsons. It ìs dìñcrcnt whcn classc and
natìons arc ìn conñìct, sìncc thc hìghcr ordcrs that thrcatcn to
ovcrwhclm cqually vìctor and vanquìshcd arc hìddcn Irom thc
Icclìngs oImost, and Irom thc ìntcllìgcncc oIalmost all. Spacc
docsnothcrcpcrmìtmctotraccsuchhìghcrordcrsandthccommon
ìntcrcsts corrcspondìng to thcm, whìch constìtutc thc most cn-
durìngmotìvc Iora polìcyoIpurcmcans.* Wc can thcrcIorc only
poìntto purcmcansìnpolìtìcs asanalogous tothoscwhìchgovcrn
pcaccIul ìntcrcoursc bctwccn prìvatc pcrsons.
As rcgards class strugglcs, ìn thcm strìkc must undcr ccrtaìn
condìtìonsbcsccnasapurcmcans.Twocsscntìallydìñcrcntkìnds
oIstrìkc, thc possìbìlìtìcoIwhìch havc alrcady bccn consìdcrcd,
must now bc morcIully charactcrìzcd. Sorcl ha thc crcdìt÷Irom
polìtìcal,rathcrthanpurclythcorctìcal,consìdcratìons÷oIhavìng
brstdìstìnguìshcd thcm. Hccontraststhcmasthcpolìtìcaland thc
prolctarìangcncral strìkc. Thcyarcalsoantìthctìcal ìn thcìrrcla-
tìon to vìolcncc. ÒI thc partìsans oI thc Iormcr hc says . 'Thc
strcngthcnìng oIstatc powcr L thc basìs oIthcìr conccptìons , ìn
thcìr prcscnt organìzatìons thc polìtìcìans ¸ vìz. thc modcratc
socìalìsts) arcalrcadyprcparìngthcgroundIorastrongccntralìzcd
anddìscìplìncdpowcrthatwìllbcìmpcrvìoustocrìtìcìsmIrom thc
opposìtìon, capablcoIìmposìng sìlcncc, and oIìssuìngìts mcnda-
cìousdccrccs.¨f'Thcpolìtìcalgcncralstrìkcdcmonstratchowthc
statc wìIl losc nonc oIìts strcngth, howpowcr ìs transIcrrcd Irom
thc prìvìlcgcd to thc prìvìlcgcd, how thc mass oI produccn wìll
changc thcìr mastcrs. ¨ In contrast to thìs polìtìcal gcncral strìkc
¸whìchìncìdcntallysccmstohavcbccnsummcd upbythcabortìvc
Gcrman rcvolutìon), thc prolctarìan gcncral strìkc scts ìtsclI thc
solc task oIdcstroyìng statcpowcr. It 'nullìhc all thc ìdcologìcal
conscqucnccsoIcvcry possìblcsocìal polìcy, ìts partìsansscc cvcn
thcmostpopularrcIormsasbourgcoìs. ¨'Thìsgcncralstrìkcclcarly
announccsìtsìndìñcrcncctowardmatcrìal gaìnthroughconqucst
¯ Butsee Unger, pp. 18 f.
t Sorel, Rgcx:cs.Jkf /o c:c/c»cc, ¸thed., Paris I gl g, p. a¸o.
bydcclarìngìtsìntcntìontoabolìshthcstatc,thcstatcwarcally. . .
thc basìs oI thc cxìstcncc oI thc rulìng group, who ìn all thcìr
cntcrprìsìngbcncbtIrom thcburdcnsbornc by thc publìc. "Whìlc
thchrstIorm oIìntcrruptìonoIworkL vìolcnt sìnccìt causconly
an cxtcrnal modìhcatìon oIlabour condìtìons, thc sccond, as a
purc mcans, ìs nonvìolcnt. Ior ìt takc placc not ìn rcadìncs to
rcsumc work Iollowìng cxtcrnal conccssìons and thìs or that
modìhcatìon to workìng condìtìons, but ìn thc dctcrmìnatìon to
rcsumconlyawhollytransIormcdwork, nolongcrcnIorccdby thc
statc, an uphcaval that thìs kìnd oIstrìkc not so much causcs as
consummatcs.Iorthìsrcason,thcbrstoIthcscundcrtakìngsìslaw-
makìng but thc sccond anarchìstìc. Takìng up occasìonal statc-
mcntsbyMarx,SorclrcjcctscvcrykìndoIprogrammc,oIutopìa÷
ìn a word, oI law-makìng÷Ior thc rcvolutìonary movcmcnt .
'Wìth thc gcncral strìkc all thcsc hnc thìngs dìsappcar, thc
rcvolutìon appcars as a clcar, sìmplc rcvolt, and no placc ìs
rcscrvcd cìthcr Ior thc socìologìsts or Ior thc clcgant amatcun oI
socìal rcIorms or Ior thc ìntcllcctuals who havc madc ìt thcìr
proIcssìon to thìnk Ior thc prolctarìat. " Agaìnst thìs dccp, moral,
and gcnuìncly rcvolutìonary conccptìon, no objcctìon can stand
thatsccks,on groundsoIìtspossìblycatastrophìc conscqucnccs, to
brand such a gcncral strìkc as vìolcnt. Lvcn ìIìt can rìghtly bc
saìd that thc modcrn cconomy, sccn a a wholc, rcscmblcs much
lcsamachìncthatstandsìdlc whcnabandoncd by ìustokcr than
a bcastthatgocsbcscrkassoonasìts tamcr turns hìs back, ncvcr-
thclcss thc vìolcncc oIan actìon can bc asscsscd no morc Irom ìts
cñccts than Irom ìts cnds, but only Irom thc law oI ìts mcans.
Statc powcr, oIcoursc, whìch has cyc only Ior cñccts, opposcs
prccìsclythìskìndoIstrìkc Iorìtsallcgcd vìolcncc, as dìstìnct Irom
partìal strìkcs whìch arc Ior thc most part actually cxtortìonatc.
Thc cxtcnt to whìch such a rìgorous conccptìon oI thc gcncral
strìkc as such ìs capablc oIdìmìnìshìng thc ìncìdcncc oI actual
vìolcnccìn rcvolutìons,Sorclhas cxplaìncd wìth hìghly ìngcnìous
argumcnts. By contrast, an outstandìng cxamplc oI vìolcnt
omìssìon, morc ìmmoral and crudcr than thc polìtìcal gcncral
strìkc, akìn to a bIockadc, ìs thc strìkc by doctors, such as scvcraI
Critique ofViolence 147
Gcrman cìtìcs havc sccn. ln thìs ìs rcvcalcd at ìts most rcpcllcnt
an unscrupulous usc oIvìolcncc that is posìtìvcly dcpravcd ìn a
proIcssìonal clas that Ior ycars, wìthout thc slìghtcst attcmpu at
rcsìstancc, 'sccurcd dcath ìts prcy`, and thcnat thchrstopportu-
nìtyabandoncdlìIcoIìtsownIrccwìll. Morcclcarlythanìnrcccnt
classstrugglcs, thcmcansoInon-vìolcnt agrccmcnthavcdcvclopcd
ìnthousandsoIycarsoIthchìstoryoIstatcs. Ònlyoccasìonallydocs
thc task oIdìplomats ìn thcìr transactìons consìst oImodìhcatìons
tolcgalsystcms. lundamcntallythcyhavc,cntìrclyonthcanalogy
oIagrccmcnt bctwccn prìvatc pcrsons, torcsolvc conßìcu casc by
casc, ìn thcnamcsoIthcìrstatcs,pcaccIully and wìthoutcontracts.
A dclìcatc task that ìs morc robustly pcrIormcd byrcIcrccs, but a
mcthod oI solutìon that ìn prìncìplc ìs abovc that oI thc rcIcrcc
bccauscìtìsbcyondalllcgalsystcms,andthcrcIorcbcyondvìolcncc.
Accordìngly, lìkc thc ìntcrcourscoIprìvatcpcrsons, thatoIdìplo-
mats ha cngcndcrcd ìts own Iorms and vìrtucs, whìch wcrc not
always mcrcIormalìtìcs, cvcn thoughthcyhavc bccomcso.
Among all thc Iorms oI vìolcncc pcrmìttcd by both natural
law and posìtìvc law thcrc ìs not onc that ìs Ircc oIthc gravcly
problcmatìc naturc, alrcady ìndìcatcd, oI all lcgal vìolcncc.
Sìncc, howcvcr, cvcry conccìvablc solutìon to human problcms,
not to spcak oIdclìvcrancc Irom thc conbncs oI all thc world-
hìstorìcal condìtìons oI cxìstcncc obtaìnìng hìthcrto, rcmaìns
ìmpossìblc ìIvìolcncc ìs totallycxcludcd ìn prìncìplc, thcqucstìon
ncccssarìly arìsc a to othcr kìnds oI vìolcncc than all thosc
cnvìsagcdby lcgal thcory. ltìsatthcsamc tìmc thc qucstìonoIthc
truth oIthc basìc dogma common to both thcorìcs .just cnds can
b attaìncd byjustìbcd mcans,justìhcd mcans uscd Iorjust cnds.
How would ìt bc, thcrcIorc, ìI all thc vìolcncc ìmposcd by Iatc,
usìngj ustìhcd mcans, wcrc oIìtsclIìn ìrrcconcìlablc conßìctwìth
just cnds, andìIat thcsamctìmca dìñcrcntkìndoIvìolcncccamc
ìntovìcwthatccrtaìnlycouldbccìthcrthcjustìhcdorthc unjustì-
hcd mcans to thosc cnds, but was not rclatcd tothcm as mcans at
allbutìnsomcdìñcrcntway?Thìswouldthrowlìghtonthccurìous
and at brst dìscouragìng dìscovcry oI thc ultìmatc ìnsolubìlìty
oIalI lcgal problcms ¸whìch ìn ìts hopclcssncs ìs pcrhap com-
parablc only to thc possìbìlìty oI conclusìvc pronounccmcnts on
'rìght" and 'wrong"ìncvolvìnglanguagcs) . Iorìtìsncvcrrcason
thatdccìdcs on thcjustìhcatìon oImcans and thcjustncsoIcnds,
butIatc-ìmposcdvìolcnccon thcIormcrand Goonthc lattcr. An
ìnsìght thatìs uncommononlybccauscoIthc stubborn prcvaìlìng
habìtoIconccìvìngthoscjustcndsascndsoIapossìblclaw, thatìs,
not only as gcncrally valìd ¸whìch Iollows analytìcally Irom thc
naturcoI justìcc) , but al« as capablc oIgcncralìzatìon, whìch, as
could bc shown, contradìcts thc naturc oIjustìcc. Ior cnds that
Ior onc sìtuatìon arc just, unìvcrsally acccptablc, and valìd, arc
so Iornoothcrsìtuatìon, nomattcrhow sìmìlarìt maybcìn othcr
rcspccts. Thc non-mcdìatc Iunctìon oI vìolcncc at ìssuc hcrc ìs
ìllustrated bycvcrydaycxpcrìcncc. ^ rcgards man, hcìsìmpcllcd
byangcr, Ior cxamplc, tothc mostvìsìblcoutbursts oIa vìolcncc
that ìs not rclatcd as a mcans to a prcconccìvcd cnd. It ìs not a
mcansbutamanìIcstatìon. Morcovcr, thìsvìolcncchathoroughly
objcctìvc manìIcstatìonsìn whìch ìt can bc subjcctcd to critìcìsm.
Thcscarc tobc Iound, mostsìgnìbcantly, abovc all ìn myth.
MythìcalvìolcnccìnìtsarchctypalIorm ìsamcrcmanìIcstatìon
oIthc gods. Not a mcans to thcìr cnds, scarccly a manìIcstatìon
oIthcìrwìll, buthrstoIall a manìIcstatìon oIthcìrcxìstcncc. Thc
lcgcnd oINìobc contaìnsan outstandìngcxamplc oIthìs. Truc, ìt
mìght appcar that thc actìon oIApollo and Artcmis ìs only a
punìshmcnt. But thcìr vìolcncc cstablìshcs a law Iar morc than ìt
punìshc Ior thc ìnIrìngcmcnt oI onc alrcady cxìstìng. Nìobc`s
arrogancc calls down Iatc upon ìtsclInot bccausc hcr arrogancc
oñcnds agaìnst thc law but bccausc ìt challcngcs Iatc÷to a hght
ìnwhìchIatc must trìumph, andcanbrìngtolìghtalawonlyìnìts
trìumph. How lìttlc such dìvìnc vìolcncc wa to thc ancìcnts thc
law-prcscrvìng vìolcncc oI punìshmcnt ìs shown by thc hcroìc
lcgcnds ìn whìch thc hcro÷Ior cxamplc, Promcthcus÷challcngcs
Iatc wìth dìgnìhcd couragc, hghts ìt wìth varyìng Iortuncs, andìs
notlcItby thc lcgcnd wìthout hop oIonc day brìngìnga ncw law
to mcn. It ìs rcally thìs hcro and thc lcgal vìolcncc oI thc myth
natìvctohìmthatthcpublìctrìcto pìcturccvcnnowìnadmìrìng
thc mìscrcant. Vìolcncc thcrcIorc bursts upon Nìobc Irom thc
Critique ojViolence 1
4
9
unccrtaìn, ambìguoussphcrcoIIatc. ltìs not actually dcstructìvc.
Although ìtbrìngsa crucl dcathtoNìobc`s chìldrcn, ìtstop short
oIthclìIcoIthcìrmothcr,whomìtlcavcsbchìnd,morcguìltythan
bcIorc through thc dcath oI thc chìldrcn, both as an ctcrnally
mutc bcarcr oI guìlt and as a boundary stonc on thc Irontìcr
bctwccn mcn and gods. lIthìs ìmmcdìatc vìolcncc ìn mythìcal
manìIcstatìom provcs closcly rclatcd, ìndccd ìdcntìcal to law-
makìng vìolcncc, ìt rcñccts a problcmatìc lìght on law-makìng
vìolcncc, ìnsoIar as thc lattcr was charactcrìzcd abovc, ìn thc
accountoImìlìtary vìolcncc, as mcrclya mcdìatcvìolcncc. Atthc
samc tìmc thìs conncctìon promìsc Iurthcr to ìllumìnatc Iatc,
whìch ìn all casc undcrlìc lcgal vìolcncc, and to concludc ìn
broadoutlìncthccrìtìquc oIthclattcr. IorthcIunctìonoIvìolcncc
ìn law-makìng is twoIold, ìn thc scnsc that law-makìng pursucs
as ìts cnd, wìth vìolcncc as thc mcans, wha ìs to bc cstablìshcd as
law, butat thc momcnt oIìnstatcmcntdocs not dìsmìs vìolcncc,
rathcr, at thìs vcry momcnt oI law-makìng, ìt spccìhcally cstab-
lìshcsas lawnotancndunalloycdbyvìolcncc, but oncncccssarìly
and ìntìmatcly boundtoìt, undcr thc tìtlcoIpowcr. law-makìng
ìs powcr-makìng, and, tothatcxtcnt, an ìmmcdìatc manìIcstatìon
oIvìolcncc.justìccìsthcprìncìplcoIalldìvìnccnd-makìng, powcr
thc prìncìplcoIall mythìcallaw-makìng.
An applìcatìon oI thc lattcr that has ìmmcnsc conscqucnccs
is to bc Iound ìn constìtutìonal law. Ior ìn thìs sphcrc thc cstab-
lìshìng oIIrontìcrs, thc task oI 'pcacc" aIìcr all thc wars oIthc
mythìcalagc,ìsthcprìmalphcnomcnonoIall la w-makìngvìolcncc.
Hcrcwcsccmostclcarlythat

powcr, morcthanthcmostcxtrava-
gant gaìn ìn propcrty, ìs what ìs guarantccd by all law-makìng
vìolcncc. Whcrc Irontìcn arc dccìdcd thc advcrsaryìs not sìmply
annìbìlatcd, ìndccd, hc is accordcd rìghts cvcn whcn thc vìctor's
supcrìorítyìn powcrìs complctc. And thcscarc, ìna dcmonìcally
ambìguous way, 'cqual" rìghts . Ior both partìc to thc trcaty ìt
ìsthcsamclìncthatmaynotbcrosscd.Hcrcappcars,ìnatcrrìbly
prìmìtìvcIorm, thcsamcmythìcalambìguìtyoI laws that maynot
b 'ìnIrìngcd" to whìch Anatolc Irancc rcIcrs satìrìcally whcn
hc says, 'Poor and rìch arc cqually Iorbìddcn to spcnd thc nìght
ISO
undcr thc brìdgcs. " ltalso appcan that Sorcl touchcs not mcrcly
on a cultural-hìstorìcal but also on a mctaphysìcal truth ìn sur-
mìsìng that ìn thc bcgìnnìng all rìght was thc prcrogatìvc oI thc
kìngs or thc noblcs÷ìn short, oI thc mìghty, and that, mutatis
mutandis, ìt wìll rcmaìn so as longa ìt cxìsts. Ior Irom thc poìnt oI
vìcw oI vìolcncc, whìch alonc can guarantcc law, thcrc ìs no
cqualìty, but at thc most cqually grcat vìolcncc. Thc actoIhxìng
Irontìcrs, howcvcr, ìs also sìgnìhcant Ior an undcrstandìngoIlaw
ìnanothcrrcspcct.LawsandunmarkcdIrontìcrsrcmaìn, atlcastìn
prìmcval tìmcs, unwrìttcn laws. A man can unwìttìngly ìnIrìngc
upon thcm and thus ìncur rctrìbutìon. Ior cach ìntcrvcntìon oI
law that ìs provokcd by an oñcncc agaìnst thc unwrìttcn and
unknown law ìs callcd,
¡
n contradìstìnctìon to punìshmcnt,
rctrìbutìon. But howcvcr unluckìly ìt may bcIall ìts unsuspcctìng
vìctìm, ìts occurrcncc ìs, ìn thc undcrstandìng oI thc law, not
chancc, but Iatc showìng ìtsclIoncc agaìn ìn ìts dclìbcratc am-
bìguìty. Hcrmann Cohcn, ìn a brìcI rcßcctìon on thc ancìcnts`
conccptìon oIIatc, ha spokcn oI thc 'ìncscapablc rcalìzatìon"
that ìt ìs 'Iatc's ordcn thcmsclvc that sccm to causc and brìng
about thìs ìnIrìngcmcnt, thìs oñcncc`.* To thìs spìrìt oI law cvcn
thc modcrn prìncìplc that ìgnorancc oIa law ìs not protcctìon
agaìnst punìshmcnt tcstìhcs, just as thc strugglc ovcr wrìttcn law
ìnthccarlypcrìooIthcancìcntGrcckcommunìtìcìstobundcr-
stooasa rcbcllìon agaìnst thcspìrìtoImythìcalstatutcs.
IarIrom ìnauguratìngapurcrsphcrc, thcmythìcaI manìIcsta-
tìon oIìmmcdìatc vìolcncc shows ìtsclIIundamcntally ìdcntìcal
wìth all lcgal vìolcncc, and turns suspìcìon conccrnìng thc lattcr
ìnto ccrtaìnty oIthc pcrnìcìousncs oIìts hìstorìcal Iunctìon, thc
dcstructìon oIwhìch thus bccomc oblìgatory. Thìs vcry task oI
dcstructìon posc agaìn, ìn thc last rcsort, thc qucstìon oIa purc
ìmmcdìatc vìolcncc that mìght b ablc to cal! a halt to mythìcal
vìolcncc. just as ìn al! sphcrcs God opposcs myth, mythìcal
vìolcnccìs conIrontcd by thc dìvìnc. And thc lattcr constìtutcs ìts
antìthcsìs ìn all rcspccts. lI mythìcal vìolcncc ìs law-makìng,
dìvìncvìolcnccìslaw-dcstroyìng, ìIthcIormcrsctsboundarìcs,thc
• Hermann Cohen, Ethik des reinen Willens, 2nd ed., Berlin 1907, p. 362.
Critique ofViolence 151
lattcr boundlcssly dcstroys thcm, ìImythìcal vìolcncc brìngs at
oncc guìlt and rctrìbutìon, dìvìnc powcr only cxpìatcs, ìI thc
Iormcr thrcatcns, thc lattcr strìkcs , ìIthc Iormcr ìs bloody, thc
lattcr ìs lcthal wìthout spìllìng blood. Thc lcgcnd oINìobc may
bcconIrontcd,asancxamplcoIthìsvìolcncc,wìthGod`s judgmcnt
on thc company oI Korah. It strìkcs prìvìlcgcd lcvìtcs, strìkcs
thcm wìthout warnìng, wìthout thrcat, and docs not stopshortoI
annìhìlatìon. But ìn annìhìlatìng ìt also cxpìatcs, and a dccp
conncctìon bctwccn thc lack oI bloodshcd and thc cxpìatory
charactcroIthìsvìolcncc ìs unmìstakablc. Ior bloo ìs thcsymbol
oImcrc lìIc. Thc dìssolutìon oIlcgal vìolcncc stcms, as cannot bc
shown ìn dctaìl hcrc, Irom thc guìlt oImorc natural lìIc, whìch
consìgns thc lìvìng, ìnnoccnt and unhappy, to a rctrìbutìon that
'cxpìatcs" thc guìlt oI mcrc lìIc÷and doubtlcs also purìhcs
thc guìlty, not oIguìlt, howcvcr, butoIlaw. IorwìthmcrclìIc thc
rulc oI law ovcr thc lìvìng ccascs. Mythìcal vìolcncc is bloody
powcr ovcr mcrc lìIc Ior ìts own sakc, dìvìnc vìolcncc purc powcr
ovcr all lìIc Ior thc sakc oIthc lìvìng. Thc hrst dcmands sacrìhcc,
thc sccond acccpts ìt.
Thìs dìvìnc powcr ìs attcstcd not only by rclìgìous tradìtìon
but ìs also Iound ìn prcscnt-day lìIc ìn at lcast onc sanctìoncd
manìIcstatìon. Thc cducatìvc powcr, whìch ìn ìu pcrIcctcd Iorm
standsoutsìdcthclaw,isoncoIìtsmanìIcstatìons.Thcscarcdcb ncd,
thcrcIorc, not by mìraclcs dìrcctly pcrIormcd byGod, butby thc
cxpìatìng momcnt ìn thcm that strìkcs wìthout bloodshcd and,
bnally, by thc abscncc oI all law-makìng. To thìs cxtcnt ìt ìs
justìhablc to call thìs vìolcncc, too,

annìhìlatìng, but ìt ìs so only
rclatìvcly, wìth rcgard to goods, rìght, lìIc, and suchlìkc, ncvcr
absolutcly, wìth rcgard to thc soul oIthc lìvìng. Thc prcmìsc oI
such an cxtcnsìon oIpurc or dìvìnc powcr ìs surc to provokc,
partìcularly today, thc most vìolcnt rcactìons, and to bccountcrcd
by thc argumcnt that takcn to ìts logìcal conclusìon ìt conIcrs on
mcncvcnlcthalpowcragaìnstoncanothcr. Thìs, howcvcr, cannot
bc conccdcd. lor thc qucstìon 'May I kìll ?" mccts ìuìrrcducìblc
answcr ìn thc commandmcnt 'Thou shalt not kìll`. Thìs com-
mandmcnt prcccdcs thc dccd, just as Go was 'prcvcntìng" thc
152
dccd. Butjust as ìt may not b Icar oIpunìshmcnt tbat cnIorccs
obcdìcncc,thcìnjunctìonbccomcsìnapplìcablc,ìncommcnsurablc
oncc thc dccd ìs accomp!ìshcd. No judgmcnt oIthc dccd can bc
dcrìvcd Irom thc commandmcnt. And so ncìthcr thc dìvìnc
judgmcnt, nor thc grounds Ior thìs judgmcnt, can b known ìn
advancc. Thosc who basc a condcmnatìon oI all vìolcnt kìllìng
oI onc pcrson by anothcr on thc commandmcnt arc thcrcIorc
mìstakcn. lt cxìsu notaacrìtcrìonoI judgmcnt,butaaguìdclìnc
Ior thc actìons oIpcrsons or communìtìc who havc to wrcstlc
wìth ìt ìn solìtudc and, ìn cxccptìonal cascs, totakc on thcmsclvcs
thc rcsponsìbìlìty oI ìgnorìng ìt. Thus ìt was undcrstood by
judaìsm, whìch cxprcssly rcjcctcd thc condcmnatìon oIkìllìng ìn
sclI-dcIcncc. But thosc thìnkcrs who takc thc opposcd vìcw rcIcr
to a morc dìstant thcorcm, on whìch thcypossìbIyproposc to basc
cvcn thc commandmcnt ìtsclI This ìs thc doctrìnc oIthc sanctìty
oIlìIc, whìch thcy cìthcr apply to all anìmal or cvcn vcgctablc
lìIc, or lìmìt to human lìIc. Thcìr argumcntatìon, cxcmplìhcd ìn
ancxtrcmccascby thcrcvolutìonarykìllìngoIthcopprcssor,runs
as Iollows . 'lI l do not kìll l shall ncvcr cstablìsh thc world
domìnìon oIjustìcc . . . that ìs thc argumcnt oIthc ìntcllìgcnt
tcrrorìst . . . . Wc, howcvcr, proIcs that hìghcr cvcn than thc
happìncss and justìcc oI cxìstcncc stands cxìstcncc ìtsclI`* A
ccrtaìnlyasthìslastproposìtìonìsIalsc,ìndccdìgnoblc,ìtshowsthc
ncccssìty oIscckìng thc rcason Ior thc commandmcnt no longcr
ìnwhatthcdccddocstothcvìctìm, butìnwhatìtdocto Godand
thc docr. Thc proposìtìon that cxìstcncc stands hìghcr thanajust
cxìstcncc ìsIalsc and ìgnomìnìous, ìIcxìstcncc ìs to mcan nothìng
othcr than mcrc lìIc÷and ìt has thìs mcanìng ìn thc argumcnt
rcIcrrcd to. lt contaìns a mìghty truth, howcvcr, ìIcxìstcncc, or,
bcttcr, lìIc ¸words whosc ambìguìty ìs rcadìly dìspcllcd, analo-
gously to that oIIrccdom, whcn thcy arc rcIcrrcd to two dìstìnct
sphcrcs), mcans thc ìrrcducìblc, total condìtìon that ìs 'man` , ìI
thcproposìtìonìsìntcndcdtomcanthatthcnoncxìstcnccoImanìs
somcthìng morc tcrrìblc than thc ¸admìttcdly subordìnatc) not-
yct-attaìncd condìtìon oI thc just man. To thìs ambìguìty thc
¯ KunHiller in a yearbook of Da ,,el.
Critique ojViolence 153
proposìtìon quotcd abovc owc ìts p|ausìbì|ìty. Man cannot, at
any prìcc, bc saìd to coìncìdc wìth thc mcrc |ìIc ìn hìm, no morc
than wìth any othcr oIhìs condìtìons and qua|ìtìcs, not cvcn wìth
thc unìqucncss oI hìs bodì|y pcrson. Howcvcr sacrcd man ìs ¸or
that|ìIcìnhìm thatìsìdcntìca||yprcscntìncarth|y|ìlc, dcath,and
aIìcr|ìIc) , thcrc ìs no sacrcdncs ìn hìs condìtìon, ìn hìs bodì|y
|ìIc vu|ncrab|c to ìnjury by hìs Ic||ow mcn. What, thcn, dìs-
tìnguìshcs ìt csscntìa||y Irom thc |ìIc oI anìma|s and p|ants? And
cvcn ìI thcsc wcrc sacrcd, thcy cou|d not bc b by vìrtuc on|y oI
bcìng a|ìvc, oIbcìng ìn |ìIc. lt mìght bc wc|| worth whì|c to track
down thc orìgìn oIthc dogma oIthc sacrcdncs oI|ìIc. Pcrhaps,
ìndccd probab|y, ìt ìs rc|atìvc|y rcccnt, thc |ast mìstakcn attcmpt
oIthc wcakcncd Wcstcn tradìtìon to scck thc saìnt ìt has lost ìn
cosmo|ogìca| ìmpcnctrabì|ìty. ¸Thc antìquìty oI aII rc|ìgìous
commandmcnts agaìnst murdcr ìs no countcr-argumcnt, bccausc
thcscarc bascdonothcrìdcasthanthc modcn thcorcm.) Iìna||y,
thìsìdcaoIman`ssacrcdncssgìvcsgroundsIor rcßcctìonthatwhat
ìs hcrc pronounccd sacrcd was accordìng to ancìcnt mythìca|
thought thc markcd bcarcroIguì| t . |ìIc ìtsc|I
Thc crìtìquc oIvìo|cncc ìs thc phì|osophy oIìu hìstory÷thc
'phì|osophy¨ oIthìs hìstory, bccausc on|y thc ìdcaoIìts dcvc|op-
mcnt makc possìb|c a crìtìca|, dìscrìmìnatìng, and dccìsìvc ap-
proach to ìts tcmporaI data. A gazc dìrcctcd on|y at what ìs c|osc
at hand can at most pcrccìvca dìa|cctìcaI rìsìngand Ia||ìngìn thc
|aw-makìng and |aw-prcscrvìng Iormatìons oIvìo|cncc. Thc |aw
govcrnìng thcìroscì||atìon rcsts on thc cìrcumstancc that aII |aw-
prcscrvìng vìo|cncc, ìn ìts duratìon, ìndìrcct|y wcakcns thc |aw-
makìng vìo|cncc rcprcscntcd by ìt, through thc supprcssìon oI
hostì|c countcr-vìo|cncc. ¸ Varìous symptoms oI thìs havc bccn
rcIcrrcd to ìn thccourscoIthìs study.) Thìs |asu untì| cìthcr ncw
Iorccs or thosc car|ìcr supprcsscd trìumph ovcr thc hìthcrto
|aw-makìng vìo|cncc and thus Iound a ncw |aw, dcstìncd ìn ìts
tuntodccay.ÒnthcbrcakìngoIthìscyc|cmaìntaìncdbymythìca|
Iorms oI|aw, on thc suspcnsìon oI|awwìth aII thc Iorccson whìch
ìt dcpcnds a thcy dcpcnd on ìt, hna||y thcrcIorc on thc abo|ìtìon
oIstatc powcr, a ncw hìstorìca| cpoch ìs Ioundcd. lIthc ru|c oI
15
4
myth ìs brokcn occasìonally ìn thc prcscnt agc, thc comìng agc ìs
not b unìmagìnably rcmotc that an attack on law L altogcthcr
Iutìlc. But ìI thc cxìstcncc oIvìolcncc outsìdc thc law, as purc
ìmmcdìatc vìolcncc, ìs assurcd, thìs Iurnìshc thc prooI that
rcvolutìonary vìolcncc, thc hìghcst manìIcstatìon oI unalloycd
vìolcncc by man, ìs possìblc, and by what mcans. lcs possìblc
and also lcs urgcnt Ior humankìnd, howcvcr, ìs to dccìdc whcn
unalloycd vìolcncc ha bccn rcalìzcd ìn partìcular cascs. !
9
r only
mythìcal vìolcncc, not dìvìnc, wìll bc rccognìzablc a such wìth
ccrtaìnty, unlcs ìt b ìn ìncomparablc cñccts, bccausc thc
cxpìatory powcroIvìolcnccL notvìsìblc to mcn. Òncc agaìn all
thc ctcrnal Iorms arc opcn to purc dìvìnc vìolcncc, whìch myth
bastardìzcd wìth law. !t may manìIcst ìtsclIìna truc war cxactly
as ìn thc dìvincjudgmcnt oIthc multìtudc on a crìmìnal. But all
mythìcal, law-makìng vìolcncc, whìch wc may call cxccutìvc, ìs
pcrnìcìous. Pcrnìcìous, too, ìs thc law-prcscrvìng, admìnìstratìvc
vìolcncc that scrvcs ìt. Ðìvìnc vìolcncc, whìch ìs thc sìgn and scal
butncvcrthc mcansoIsacrcd cxccutìon, may b callcd sovcrcìgn
vìolcncc.
Theolo
g
ico-Political
Fra
g
ment
Ònly thc Mcssìah hìmsclI consummatcs all hìstory, ìn thc scnsc
that hc alonc rcdccms, complctcs, crcatcs ìu rclatìon to thc
Mcssìanìc. Ior thìs rcason n

|
ì
�[
hìstorìcal canrclatcìtsclIonìts
own account to anythìng Mcssìanìc. ThcrcIorc thc Kìngdom oI
Goìs notthc tetos oItbc hìstorìcal dynamìc, ìt cannot b sct asa
goal. Irom thc standpoìntoIhìstoryìt ìs notthcgoal, butthc cnd.
ThcrcIorc thcordcroIthc proIanc cannot bc buìltuponthcìdca
oIthc ÐìvìncKìngdom, and thcrcIorc thcocraç hasnopolìtìcal,
but only a rclìgìous mcanìng. To havc rcpudìatcd wìth utmost
vchcmcncc thc polìtìcal sìgnìbcancc oIthcocracy ìs thc cardìnal
mcrìtoIBloch's Spirit i Utopia.
ThcordcroIthcproIancshouldbcrcctcdonthcìdcaoIhap pì-
ncss. Thc rclatìon oI thìs ordcr to thc Mcssìanìc ìs onc oI thc
csscntìaltcachìngsoIthcpbìlosophyoIhìstory. ltìsthcprccondìtìon
oIa mystìcal conccptìon oIhìstory, contaìnìngaproblcm that can
b rcprcscntcdhguratìvcly. lIoncarrowpoìntstothcgoaltoward
whìcb thcproIanc dynamìc acts, and anothcr marks thc dìrcctìon
oIMcssìanìcìntcnsìty,thcnccrtaìnlythcqucstoIIrcc humanìtyIor
bappìncss runs countcr to thc Mcssìanìc dìrcctìon, butjust as a
Iorcc can, through actìng, ìncrcasc anothcr that ìs actìng ìn thc
opposìtcdìrcctìon,m thcordcroIthcproIancassìsts,throughbcìng
proIanc, thc comìng oI tbc Mcssìanìc Kìngdom. Thc proIanc,
thcrcIorc, although not ìtsclI a catcgory oI thìs Kìngdom, ìs a
dccìsìvccatcgoryoIìtsquìctcstapproach.Iorìn happìncs all that
ì

carthlysccksìtsdownIall,andonlyìngooIortuncìsìtsdownIall
155
dcstìncd to hndìt. Whcrcas, admìttcdly, thcìmmcdìatc Mcssìanìc
ìntcnsìtyoIthchcart,oIthcìnncrmanìnìsolatìon,passcthrough
mìsIortunc, Ü suñcrìng. To thc spìrìtual restituti in integrum,
whìch ìntroducc ìmmortalìty, corrcsponds a worldly rcstìtutìon
that lcads to thc ctcrnìty oI downIall, and thc rhythm oI thìs
ctcrnally transìcnt worldly cxìstcncc, transìcnt ìn ìts totalìty, ìn
ìtsspatìalbutalsoìnìtstcmporaltotalìty, thcrhythmoIMcssìanìc
naturc,ìshappìncss.IornaturcìsMcssìanìcbyrcasonoIìtsctcrnal
and total passìng away.
TostrìvcaIìcrsuchpassìng,cvcnIorthosstagcoImanthatarc
naturc, ìs thc task oIworldpolìtìcs, whosc mctho must b callcd
nìhìlìsm.
1920-21
The Destructive
Character
lt could happcn to somconc lookìng back ovcr hìs lìIc that hc
rcalìzcd that almost all thc dccpcr oblìgatìons hc had cndurcd
ìnìtscourscorìgìnatcdìnpcoplconwhosc'dcstructìvccharactcr`
cvcryonc was agrccd. Hc would stumblc on thìs Iact onc day,
pcrhaps by chancc, and thc hcavìcr thc blow ìt dcals hìm, thc
bcttcr arc hìs chanccs oIpìcturìng thc dcstructìvc charactcr.
Thc dcstructìvc charactcr knows only onc watchword. makc
room, only onc actìvìty. clcarìng away.
·
Hìs nccd Ior Ircsh aìr
andopcnspaccìsstrongcrthananyhatrcd.
Thcdcstructìvccharactcr isyoungandchccrIul. Iordcstroyìng
rcj uvcnatc ìn clcarìng away thc tracc oIour own agc, ìt chccrs
bccausc cvcrythìng clcarcd away mcans to thc dcstroycr a com-
plctcrcductìon,ìndccdcradìcatìon,oIhìsowncondìtìon.Butwhat
contrìbutcs most oIall to thìs Apollonìan ìmagc oIthc dcstroycr
ìs thc rcalìzatìon oIhow ìmmcnscly thc world ìs sìmplìbcd whcn
tcstcd Ior ìts worthìncs oI dcstructìon. Thìs is thc grcat bond
cmbracìngandunìIyìngall thatcxìsts. ltìsasìghtthatañords thc
dcstructìvc charactcra spcctaclcoIdccpcst harmony.
Thcdcstructìvccharactcrìsalwaysblìthclyatwork.ltìsnaturc
that dìctatcs hìs tcmpo, ìndìrcctly at lcast, Ior hc must Iorcstall
hcr. Òthcrwìsc shcwìll takcovcrthc dcstructìonhcrsclI
No vìsìon ìnspìrcs thc dcstructìvc charactcr. Hc has Icw nccds,
and thc lcast oIthcm ìs to know whatwìll rcplacc what has bccn
dcstroycd. lìrst oIall, Ior a momcnt at lcast, cmpty spacc, thc
157
placc whcrc thc thìng stood or thc vìctìm lìvcd. Somconc ìs surc
tobIoundwhonccdsthìsspaccwìthoutìtsbcìngbllcd.
Thcdcstructìvccharactcrdochìswork,thcon|yworkhcavoìds
ìs bcìng crcatìvc. just as thc crcator sccks solìtudc, thc dcstroycr
mustbc constantlysurroundcdbypcoplc, wìtncsscto hìscmcacy.
Thc dcstructìvc charactcr ìs a sìgnal. just as a trìgonomctrìc
sìgn ìs cxposcd on all sìdc to thc wìnd, M ìs hc to rumour. To
protcct hìm Irom ìt ìs poìntlcss.
Thc dcstructìvc charactcr has no ìntcrcst ìn bcìng undcrstood.
Attcmpts ìn thìs dìrcctìon hc rcgards as supcrbcìa|. Bcìng mìs-
undcrstoo cannot harm hìm. Òn thc contrary hc provokc ìt,
justa oraclcs, thosc dcstructìvc ìnstìtutìons oIthc statc, provokcd
ìt. ThcmostpcttybourgcoìsoIallphcnomcna,gossìp, comcsabout
only bccausc pcoplc do not wìsh to bc mìsundcrstood. Thc
dcstructìvc charactcr tolcratcs mìsundcrstandìng, hc docs not
promotcgossìp.
Thc dcstructìvc charactcr ìs thc cncmy oIthc ctuì-man. Thc
ctuì-man looks Ior comIort, and thc casc ìs ìts quìntcsscncc. Thc
ìnsìdc oIthc casc ìs thc vclvct-lìncd track that hc has ìmprìntcd
on thc world. Thcdcstructìvccharactcroblìtcratccvcn thc traccs
oIdcstructìon.
Thc dcstructìvc charactcr stands ìn thc Iront lìnc oIthc tradì-
tìonalìsts. Somc pas thìngs down to postcrìty, by makìng thcm
untouchablc and thus conscrvìng thcm, othcrs pas onsìtuatìons,
bymakìngthcmpractìcablcandthuslìquìdatìngthcm.Thclattcr
arccallcdthcdcstructìvc.
Thc dcstructìvc charactcr has thc conscìousncss oI hìstorìcal
man, whosc dccpcst cmotìon ìs an ìnsupcrablc mìstrust oI thc
coursc oI thìngs and a rcadìncss at all tìmc to rccognìzc that
cvcrythìng can go wrong. ThcrcIorc thc dcstructìvc charactcr ìs
rclìabìlìtyìtsclI
Thc dcstructìvc charactcr scc nothìng pcrmancnt. But Ior
thìsvcry rcason hc sccsways cvcrywhcrc. Whcrc otbcrscncountcr
walls or mountaìns, thcrc, too, hc sccs a way. But bccausc hc
sccs a way cvcrywhcrc, hc has to clcar thìngs Irom ìt cvcrywhcrc.
Not always by brutc Iorcc, somctìmc by thc most rchncd.
The Destructive Character 159
Bccausc hc sccs ways cvcrywhcrc, hc always posìtìons hìmsclIat
crossroads.Nomomcntcanknowwhat thc ncxtwìllbrìng. What
cxìstshc rcduccsto rubblc, not Ior thc sakcoIthcrubblc, but Ior
thatoIthcwaylcadìng through ìt.
Thcdcstructìvc charactcr lìvcs Irom thc Icclìng, not that lìIc ìs
worth lìvìng, but that suìcìdcìs not worth thc troublc.
1931
On the Mimetic Facult
' Naturc crcatcs sìmìlarìtìcs. Ònc nccd only thìnk oImìmìcry. Thc
hìghcst capacìty Iorproducìngsìmìlarìtìcs, howcvcr, ìs man's. Hìs
gìItoIsccìngrcscmblanccìs nothìngothcrthana rudìmcntolthc
powcrIul compulsìon ìn Iormcr tìmc to bccomc and bchavc lìkc
somcthìng clsc. Pcrhaps thcrc ìs nonc oI hìs hìghcr Iunctìons ìn

hìch hìs mìmctìc Iaculty docs not play a dccìsìvc rolc.
Thìs Iaculty has a hìstory, howcvcr, ìn both thc phylogcnctìc
and thc ontogcnctìc scnsc. ^ rcgards thc lattcr, play ìs Ior many
ìu school. Chìldrcn`s play ìs cvcrywhcrc pcrmcatcd by mìmctìc
modcsoIbchavìour, and ìu rcalm is no mcans lìmìtcd to what
onc pcrson can ìmìtatc ìn anothcr.

hc chìld plays at bcìng not
only a shopkccpcr or tcachcr but also a wìndmìll and a traìn. ÒI
whatusc to hìmìs thìsschoolìngoIhìs mìmctìcIaculty?
Thc answcr prcsupposcs an undcrstandìng oIthc phylogcnctìc
sìgnìhcancc oIthc mìmctìc Iaculty. Hcrc ìt ìs not cnough to thìnk
oIwhat wc undcrstand today by thc conccpt oIsìmìlarìty. ^ ìs
known, thc sphcrc oIlìIc that Iormcrly sccmcd to b govcrncd by
thc law oIsìmìlarìty was comprchcnsìvc , ìt rulcd both mìcrocosm
andmacrocosm.Butthcscnaturalcorrcspondcnccsarcgìvcnthcìr
truc ìmportancc only ìIsccn a stìmulatìng and awakcnìng thc
mìmctìc Iaculty ìn man. lt must b bornc ìn mìnd that ncìthcr
mìmctìcpowcrsnor mìmctìcobjcctsrcmaìnthcsamcìnthccoursc
oI thousands oI ycars. Rathcr, wc must supposc that thc gìIt oI
producìng sìmìlarìtìcs÷Ior cxamplc, ìn danccs, whosc oldcst
Iunctìon thìswas÷and thcrcIorc also thc gìItoIrccognìzìng thcm,
160
On the Mimetic Faculty 1 61
havc changcd wìth hìstorìcal dcvclopmcnt.

Thc dìrcctìon oIthìs changc sccms dcbnablc thc ìncrcasìng
dccay oIthc mìmctìc Iacult, Ior clcarly thc obscrvablc world oI
modcrn man contaìns only mìnìmal rcsìducs oI thc magìcal
corrcspondcncc and analogìc that wcrc Iamìlìar to ancìcnt
pcoplcs. Thc qucstìonìswhcthcrwcarcconccrncdwìththcdccay
oIthìsIacultyorwìthìts transIormatìon. ÒIthcdìrcctìonìn whìch
thc lattcr mìght lìc somc ìndìcatìons may b dcrìvcd, cvcn ìI
ìndìrcctly,Irom astrology.
Wcmustassumcìnprìncìplcthatìnthcrcmotcpastthcproccsscs
consìdcrcd ìmìtablc ìncludcd thosc ìn thc sky. In dancc, on othcr
cultìcoccasìons,suchìmìtatìoncouldbcproduccd, suchsìmìlarìty
manìpulatcd.ButìIthcmìmctìcgcnìuswasrcallyalìIc-dctcrmìnìng
IorccIorthcancìcnts,ìtìsnotdìmculttoìmagìncthatthcncwborn
chìld wa thought to b ìn Iull posscssìonoIthìs gìü, andìnpartì¸-
cular to bc pcrIcctly mouldcd on thc structurc oIcosmìc bcìng. ,
Allusìon to thc astrologìcal sphcrc may supply a brst rcIcrcncc
poìntIoranundcrstandìngoIthcconccptoI non-scnsuoussìmìlarìty.
Truc, ourcxìstcncc nolongcr ìncludcwhatonccmadcìt pssìblc
to�cakoIthìs kìnd oIsìmìlarìty. abovc all, thc abìlìty to producc
ìNcvcrthclcs wc, too, posscs a canon accordìng to whìch thc
]
·
mcanìngoInon-scnsuoussìmìlarìtycan batlcastpartlyclarìhcq

And thìscanonìs languag,
|
Irom tìmc ìmmcmorìal thc mìmctìc Iacultyhas bccn conccdcd
somcìnßucnccon languagc. YctthìswasdoncwìthoutIoundatìon .
wìthout consìdcratìon oIa Iurthcr mcanìng, stìll lcs a hìstory, oI
thc mìmctìc Iaculty. But abovc all such notìons rcmaìncd closcly
tìcdtothc commonplacc, scnsuousarcaoIsìmìlarìty.All thcsamc,
ìmìtatìvc bchavìour ìn languagc Iormatìon was acknowlcdgcd
undcr thc namcoIonomatopocìa. Now ìIlanguagc, asìs cvìdcnt,
ìs not an agrccdsystcm oIsìgns, wc shall b constantly oblìgcd to
havc rccoursc to thc kìnd oI thoughts that appcar ìn thcìr most
prìmìtìvc Iorm a thc onomatopocìc modc oI cxplanatìon. Thc
qucstìonìswhcthcrthìscanbcdcvclopcdandadaptcdtoìmprovcd
undcrstandìng.
'Lvcjword÷andthcwholcoIlanguagc`, ìthasbccnasscrtcd,
'ìs onomatopocìc'. It ìs dìmcult to conccivc M any dctaìl thc
programmc that mìght b ìmplìcd by thìs proposìtìon. Howcvcr,
thc conccptoInon-scnsuous sìmìlarìty ìs oIsomc rclcvancc. IorìI
words mcanìng thcsamcthìngìndìñcrcntlanguagcsarc arrangcd
aboutthatthìnga thcìrccntrc, wc havctoìnquìrc how thcyall�
whìlc oIìcnposscssìngnotthcslìghtcstsìmìlarìty to oncanothcr�
arc sìmìlar to what thcy sìgnì[ at thcìr ccntrc. Yct this kìnd oI
sìmìlarìtymay b cxplaìncd not onlyby thcrclatìonshìpbctwccn
words mcanìng thc samc thìng ìn dìñcrcnt languagcs, just as, ìn
gcncral, our rcñcctìons cannot b rcstrìctcd to thc spokcn word.
Thcy arc cqually conccrncd wìth thc wrìttcn word. And hcrc ìt ìs
notcworthy that thc lattcr�ìn somc casc pcrhaps morc vìvìdly
than thc spokcn word�ìllumìnatcs, by thc rclatìon oIìu wrìttcn
Iorm towhatìtsìgnìbcs, thc naturcoInon-scnsuous sìmìlarìty. In
brìcI,ìtìsnon-scnsuoussìmìlarìtythatcstablìshcs thc tìcs notonly
bctwccn thc spokcnand thcsìgnìhcdbutalsobctwccn thcwrìttcn
andthcsìgnìhcd, andcquallybctwccnthcspokcnandthcwrìttcn.
Graphology has taught L to rccognìzc ìn handwrìtìng ìmagcs
thatthcunconscìousoIthcwrìtcrconccalsìnìt. Itmaybsuppscd
that thc mìmctìc proccs that cxprcssc ìtsclIìn this way ìn thc
actìvìtyoIthc wrìtcrwas, ìn thcvcry dìstant tìmcìn whìch scrìpt
orìgìnatcd, oI utmost ìmportancc Ior wrìtìng. Scrìpt has thus
bccomc, lìkc languagc, an archìvc oInon-scnsuous sìmìlarìtìcs, oI
non-scnsuous corrcspondcnccs.
Thìs aspcct oIlanguagc as scrìpt, howcvcr, doc not dcvclop
ìn ìsolatìon Irom ìu othcr, scmìotìc aspcct. Rathcr, thc mìmctìc
clcmcntìnlanguagccan,lìkcañamc,manìIcstìtsclIonlythrougha
kìnd oI bcarcr. Thìs bcarcr ìs thc scmìotìc clcmcnt. Thus thc
cohcrcncc oIwords or scntcncc ìs thc bcarcr through whìch, lìkc
a ñash, sìmìlarìty appcars. Ior ìts productìon by man�lìkc ìts
pcrccptìon by hìm�ìs ìn many cascs, and partìcularly thc most
ìmportant, lìmìtcdtoñashcs. It ñìupast. Itìsnotìmprobablcthat
thc rapìdìty oIwrìtìng and rcadìng hcìghtcns thc Iusìon oI thc
scmìotìc and thc mìmctìcìn thc sphcrcoIlanguagc.
'To rcad what wa ncvcr wrìttcn. ¨ Such rcadìng ìs thc most
ancìcnt . rcadìng bcIorc all languagcs, Irom thc cntraìls, thc stars,
On the Mimetic Faculty 1 63
or danccs. latcr thc mcdìatìng lìnk oIa ncw kìnd oI rcadìng, oI
runcs and hìcroglyphs, camcìnto usc. ltsccmsIaìrto supposc that
thcsc wcrc thc stagc by whìch thc mìmctìc gìIì, whìch wa oncc
thc Ioundatìon

(I occult practìccs, gaìncd admìttancc to wrìtìng
and languag¸ln thìs way languagc may b sccn as thc hìghcst
lcvcl oI mìmctìc bchavìour and thc most complctc archìvc oI
non-scnsuous sìmìlarìty. a mcdìum ìnto whìch thc carlìcr powcrs
oImìmctìc productìon and comprchcnsìon havc passcd wìthouy
rcsìduc, tothc poìntwhcrcthcyhavclìquìdatcdthoscoImagìc,
1933
Naples
¸Wat:zußz×jamt×a×oAsja LaLÏb)
Some years ago a priest was drawn on a cart through the streets
of Naples for indecent ofences. He was followed by a crowd
hurling maledictions. At a corner a wedding procession appeared.
The priest stands up and makes the sign of a blessing, and the
cart's pursuers fall on their knees. So absolutely, in this city, does
Catholicism strive to reassert itself in every situation. Should it
disappear from the face of the earth, its last foothold would per­
haps not b Rome, but Naples.
Nowhere can this people live out its rich barbarism, which has
its source in the heart of the city itself, more securely than in the
lap of the Church. It needs Catholicism, for even it excesses are
then legalized by a legend, the feast day of a martyr. Here Alfonso
de Liguor was born, the saint who made the practice of the
Catholic Church supple enough to accommodate the trade of the
swindler and the whore, in order to control it with more or less
rigorous penances in the confessional, for which he wrote a three­
volume compendium. Confession alone, not the police, is a match
for the self-administration of the criminal world, the camorra.
5 it doe not occur to an injured party to call the police if he is
anxious to seek redress. Through civic or clerical mediators, if not
personally, he approaches a camorrista. Through him he agrees on a
ransom. From Naple to Castellamare, the length of the pro­
letarian suburbs, run the headquarters of the mainland camorra.
For these criminals avoid quarter in which they would be at the
disposal of the police. They are dispersed over the city and the
167
1 68
suburbs. That makes them dangerous. The travelling citizen who
gropes his way as far as Rome from one work of art to the next, as
along a stockade, loses his nerve in Naples.
No more grotesque demonstration of this could be provided
than in the convocation of an international congres of philoso­
phers. It disintegrated without trace in the fery haze of this city,
while the seventh-centennial celebration of the university, part
of whose tinny halo it was intended to be, unfolded amid the
uproar of a popular festival. Complaining guests, who had been
instantly relieved of their money and identifcation papers,
appeared at the secretariat. But the banal tourist fare no better.
Even Baedeker cannot propitiate him. Here the churches cannot
bfound, the starred sculpture always stands in the locked wing of
the museum, and the word "mannerism" warns against the work
of the native painters.
Nothing is enjoyable except the famous drinking water. Poverty
and misery seem as contagious as they are pictured to be to children,
and the foolish fear of being cheated is only a scanty rationalization
for this feeling. It if is true, as Peladan said, that the nineteenth
centur inverted the medieval, the natural order of the vital needs
of the poor, making shelter and clothing obligatory at the expense
of food, such conventions have here been abolished. A beggar
lie in the road propped against the sidewalk, waving his empty hat
like a leave-taker at a station. Here poverty leads downward, as
two thousand year ago it led down to the crypt : even today the
way to the catacombs passes through a "garden of agony" ; in
it, even today, the disinherited are the leaders. At the hospital
San Gennaro dei Poveri the entrance is through a white complex
of buildings that one passes via two courtyards. On either side of
the road stand the benche for the invalids, who follow those going
out with glances that do not reveal whether they are clinging to
their garments to be liberated or to satisf unimaginable desires.
In the second courtyard the doorways of the chamber have
gratings ; behind them cripples put their deformities on show, and
the shock given to day-dreaming passers-by is their joy.
One of the old men leads and holds the lanter close to a
Naples 169
fragment of early Christian fresco. Now he utters the centuries-old
magic word "Pompeii". Everything that the foreigner desires,
admires, and pays for is "Pompeii". "Pompeii" makes the plaster
imitation of the temple ruins, the lava necklace, and the louse­
ridden person of the guide irresistible. This fetish is all the more
miraculous as only a small minority of those whom it sustains have
ever seen it. It is understandable that the miracle-working Madon­
na enthroned there is receiving a brand-new, expensive church for
pilgrims. In this building and not in that of the Vettii, Pompeii
live for the Neapolitans. And to it, again and again, swindling
and wretchednes fnally come home.
Fantastic reports by traveller have touched up the city. In
reality it is grey: a grey-red or ochre, a grey-white. And entirely
grey against sky and sea. It is this, not least, that disheartens the
tourist. For anyone who is blind to forms see little here. The city
is craggy. Seen from a height not reached by the cries from below,
from the Castell San Martino, it lies deserted in the dusk, grown into
the rock. Only a strip of shore runs level ; behind it buildings rise
in tiers. Tenement blocks of six or seven stories, with staircases
climbing their foundations, appear against the villas as sky­
scrapers. At the base of the clif itself where it touches the shore,
cave have been hewn. ^ in the hermit pictures of the Trecento,
a door is seen here and there in the rock. If it is open one can see
into large cellars, which are at the same time sleeping places and
storehouses. Farther on step lead down to the sea, to fshermen's
taverns installed in natural grottoes. Dim light and thin music
come up from them in the evening.
__PQTous as tlis stQl!� is_.t]e archit_ect�re. Building and action
interpenetrate in the courtyards, arcades, and stairways. In
everything they preserve the scop to become a theatre of new,
unforseen constellations. The stamp of the defnitive is avoided.
No situation appear intended forever, no fgure assert its "thus
and not otherwise' _his is how architecture, the most binding
part of the communal rhy·thin, come into beirg here: civilized,
private, and ordered only in the great hotel and warehouse
´ `
170
buiÌdings on thc quays , anarchicaÌ, cmbroiÌcd, viÌÌagc-Ìikc inthc
ccntrc, into whichÌargc nctworksofstrcctswcrchackcdonÌyforty
ycars ago. And onÌy in thcsc strccts is thc housc, in thc Nordic
scnsc, thc ccÌÌ ofthc city's architccturc. In contrast, within thc
tcncmcntbÌocks,itsccmshcÌdtogcthcratthccorncrs, as ifbyiron
cÌamps,bythcmuraÌsofthc Madonna.
« _No onc oricnts himscÌf by housc numbcrs. Shops, wcÌÌs, and
churche arc thc rcfcrcncc points÷and not aÌways simpÌc onc:
.
For thc typi
(
�a
[
oÌitanchurc

o
-
ç_

(_pst��(atiou

Ìy occupy
avasts���, visibÌc1rom afar, with transcpts, gaÌÌcry, anddom_
Itis hiddcn, buiÌtin, high domcs arco!tcnto b sccn onÌy from a
fcw pÌaccs, and cvcn thcnit is notcasy to hnd onc'sway to thcm,
iq þ(p distinguish thc massofthc churcþjrom that_]thc
ncighbouring sccuÌar buiÌdings
¸ q
hc st
_
, passe it

g
y. Thc
incoi:spicu
���

d
��
r�

!tcn onlya curtain, is thc sccrct gatc for thc
initiatc.AsingÌcstcptakehimfromthchumbÌcofdirtycourtyards
intothc purc soÌitudc ofa taÌÌ, whitcwashcd church intcrior. His
privatc cxistcncc is thc baroquc opcning ofa hcightcncd pubÌic
sphcrc. Forhcrchis privatc scÌfis not takcnupbythc four waÌÌs,
among wifc and chiÌdrcn, but by dcvotion or by dcspair. Sidc
aÌÌcys givc gÌimpseofdirtystain Ìcadingdownto tavcrns, whcrc
thrccor four mcn, at intcrvaÌs, hiddcn bchind barrc|sasifbchind
church piÌÌars, sit drinking.
Insuch corncn onc can scarccÌy disccnwhcrc buiÌding is stiÌÌ
inprogrcss andwhcrcdiÌapidationhasaÌrcadysctin. For nothing
is incÌudcd.�,��;�¡,_ µ_fro¿�¸_nge._}hc

ut�
�¹

i
��''�,.

¸º
t
. ..¹
Ìs

,
_�|
!
r
@¹I!Þ¸¸þ�
ssion f

im-
provis
¸
tio

,¸ ��)ch

_�n�)batspaccaµdopportu
¿
iqb at
_
ny

�� ¬
. ´¯`¯¯ ¯¯ ¯¯ ` ´ ¯´` �¯´
�;�c dBuiÌdingsarc uscd asapopuIarstagc. Thcy arcaÌÌ
dividcd into innumcrabÌc, simuÌtancousÌy animatcd thcatrc_
BaÌcony, courtyard, window, gatcway, staircasc, roofarc at thc
samc timc stagc and boxcs. Lvcn thc most wrctchcd paupcr is
sovcrcign in thc dim, duaÌ awarcncss of participating, in aÌÌ his
dcstitution,inoncofthcpictureofNcapoÌitanstrcctÌifc thatwiÌÌ
ncvcrrcturn, andofcnjoyinginaÌÌhispovcrtythc ÌcisurctofoÌÌow
thc grcat panorama. What is cnactcd on thc staircascs is a high
,
·

Naples 171
school oI stagc managcmcnt. Thc staìrs, ncvcr cntìrcly cxposcd,
butstìlllcscncloscd ìn thcgloomy box oIthc Nordìchousc, crupt
Iragmcntarìly Irom thc buìldìngs, makc an angular turn, and
dìsappcar, onlytoburstout agaìn.
ln
� x  
thc strcc  ��çrat� r����cd
�oI�]|�_tr�.

�a

t�


_
, Rcd, bluc, a

d
ycllow ñy-catchcrs, altars oI colourcd glossy papcr on thc walls,
papcr roscttc on thc raw chunks oImcat. Thcn thc vìrtuosìty oI
thc varìcty show. Somconc kncclson thc asphalt, alìttlcboxbcsìdc
hìm, and ìt ìs onc oI thc busìcst strccts. Wìth colourcd chalk hc
drawsthc bgurcoIChrìst onthcstonc,bclowìtpcrhapthchcad
oIthc Madonna. Mcanwhìlca cìrclc hasIormcd around hìm, thc
artìstgctsup,andwhìlchcwaìubcsìdchìsworkIorbItccnmìnutcs
orhalIan hour, sparsc, countcd-outcoìnsIall Irom thc onlookcrs
onto thc lìmbs, hcad, and trunk oIhìs portraìt. LntìI hc gathcrs
thcm up, cvcryonc dìspcrscs, and ìn a Icw momcnts thc pìcturc
ìs crascd byIcct.
Not thc lcast cxamplc oIsuch vìrtuosìty ìs thc art oIcatìng
macaronì wìth thc hands. Thìs ìs dcmonstratcd to Iorcìgncrs Ior
rcmuncratìon. Òthcr thìngs arc paìd Ior accordìng to tarìñs.
Vcndon gìvc a hxcd prìcc Iorthccìgarcttcbuttsthat,alìcr a caIc
closcs, arc cullcd Irom thc chìnks ìn thc ßoor. ¸ Larlìcr thcy wcrc
wcrc sought by candlclìght.) Alongsìdc thc lcavìngs Irom rcs-
taurants, boìlcd cat skulls, and hsh shclls, thcy arcsold at stalls
ìn thc harbourdìstrìct. Musìc paradcsabout . not mournIul musìc
Ior thc courtyards, but brìllìant sounds Ior thc strcct. Thc broad
cart, a kìnd oI xylophonc, ìs colourIully hung wìth song tcxts.
Hcrc thcy can bc bought. Ònc oIthc musìcìans turns thc organ
whìlc thc othcr, bcsìdc ìt, appcars wìth hìs platc bcIorc anyonc
who stops drcamìly to lìstcn. 5 cvcrythìng joyIul ìs mobìlc .
musìc, toys, ìcc crcam cìrculatc through thc strccts.
Thìs musìcìsbotharcsìducoIthclastandaprcludctothcncxt
Icastday. lrrcsìstìblythcIcstìvalpcnctratcscachandcvcryworkìng
day. Porosìty ìs thc ìncxhaustìblc law oI thc lìIc oI thìs cìty,
rcappcarìng cvcrywhcrc. A graìn oI Sunday ìs hìddcn ìn cach
172
weekday, and how muchweekdayin this Sunday '
Neverthe|eæ no city can fade, in the few houn ofSunday rest,
more rapid|y than Nap|es. It is crammed fu|| of festa| motifs
nest|ing in the most inconspicuous p|aces. When the b|inds are
taken down before a window, it is simi|ar to ßags being raised
e|sewhere. Bright|y dressed boys hsh in deep-b|ue streams and
|ook up at rouged church steep|es. High above the streets, wash-
|inerun,withgarmentssuspendedonthem|ikerowsofpennants.
Faintsunsshinefrom g|ass vauoficeddrinks. Dayandnight the
pavi|ionsg|owwith the pa|e, _��li¸�¡¸teach �_ e
tonguewh_orosity¸can be.
n,�.o¬or the
·
ca
¡¿
�dm �Bers the s|ightest pretext, however,
this secret, scattered wor|d condense into a noisy feast. And
regu|ar|yitiscrownedwithahreworksdisp|ayoverthesea. From
ju|ytoSeptember, anunbrokenbandofhreruns, intheevenings,
a|ongthe coastbetween Nap|e and Sa|erno. NowoverSorrento,
nowoverMinorior Praia no, but a|waysoverNap|es, stand hery
ba||s. Here hre u substance and shadow. It is sub¡ect to fashion
andartihce. Lachparish hato outdothefestiva|ofits neighbour
withnew |ightingeñects.
In these festiva|s the o|dest e|ement oftheir Chinese origin,
weather magic in the form of the rockets that spread |ike kites,
provesfar superior to terrestria| sp|endours . the earthbound suns
and the crucihx surrounded by the g|owofSaint L|mo's hre. At
thebeach the stonepinesoftheGiardinoPubb|icoform ac|oister.
Riding under them on a festiva| night, you see a rain ofhre in
every treetop. But here, too, nothing is dreamy. On|y exp|osions
winanapotheosispopu|arfavour.AtPiedigrotta,theNeapo|itans'
main ho|iday, this chi|dish¡oy in tumu|t puts on a wi|d face.
DuringthenightofSeptember¡, bandsofmen,uptoa hundred
strong, roam through every street. Theyb|ow ongigantic paper
cornets, the orihce disguised with grotesque masks. Vio|ent|y if
necessary, one u encirc|ed, and from count|ess pipes the ho||ow
sound c|amoun in the ears. Who|e trades are based on the
spectac|e. Newspaper boys drag out the name of their wares,
Roma andthe Carriere di Napoli, athough theywere sticksofgum.
Naples 1 73
Their trumpeting is part of urban manufacture.
Trade, deeply rooted in Naples, border on a game of chance
and adheres closely to the holiday. The well-known list of the seven
deadly sins located pride in Genoa, avarice in Florence (the old _
Germans were of a diferent opinion and called what is known as ·¸
Greek love Florenzen) , voluptousness in Venice, anger in Bologna,
I I
greed in Milan, envy in Rome, _a�p jQciQL<!<'� J .NaJes. Lotto,
alluring and consuming as nowhere else in Italy, remains the
archetype of business life. Every Saturday at four o' clock, crowds
form in front of the house where the numbers are drawn. Naples
is one of the few citie with its own draw. �nshop and
�o;the state holds the proletariat in a vice : what it advances to
them in one it takes back in thcother. The more discreet and liberal
intoxication of Hazard, in which the whole family takes part,
replaces that of al
-
��h
ol.
'- r" . " , '�
And business life is assimilated to it. A man stands in an un-
harnessed carriage on a street corner. People crowd around him.
The lid of the coachman's box is open, and from it the vendor
takes something, singing its praises all the while. It disappears
before one has caught sight of it into a piece of pink or green paper.
When it is thus wrapped, he holds it aloft, and in a trice it is sold (
for a few soldi. With the same mysterious gesture he disposes of
one article after another. Are there lots in this paper? Cake with a
coin in every tenth one? What makes the people so covetous and the
man Ü inscrutable as Mograby? He is se.lling toothpaste.
> - �
A priceless example of such busine
s
manner is the auction.
When, at eight in the morning, the street vendor has begun un­
packing his goods-umbrellas, shirt material, shawls-presenting
each item singly to his public, mistrustfully, a if he had first to
test it himself; when, growing heated, he asks fantastic prices, and,
while serenely folding up the large cloth that he has spread out for
five hundred lire, drops the price at every fold, and finally, when
it lies diminished on his arm, is ready to part with it for ffty, he has
been true to the most ancient fairground practices. �¸-
.
d�
h
t
f uLstories of the NeapolitaRLplayful love of trade. In a
1
74
busy piazza a fat lady drops her fan. She looks around helplessly;

she is too unshapely to pick it up herself. A cavalier appears and is

prepared to perform his service for fifty lire. They negotiate, and
the lady receives her fan for ten.
Blissful confusion in the storehouses ! For here they are still
one with the vendor's stalls : they are bazaars. The long gangway
is favoured. In a glass-roofed one there is a toyshop (in which
perfume and liqueur glasses are also on sale) that would hold its
own beside fairy-tale galleries. Like a gallery, too, is the main
street of Naples, the Toledo. Its trafc is among the busiest on
earth. On either side of this narrow alley all that has come together
in the harbour city lie insolently, crudely, seductively displayed.
Only in fairy tales are lane so long that one must pas through
without looking to left or right if one is not to fall prey to the devil.
There is a department store, in other cities the rich, magnetic
centre of purchasing. Here it is devoid of charm, outdone by the
tightly packed multiplicity. But with a tiny ofshoot�rubber
/
7
balls, soap, chocolates�it re-emerge somewhere else among the
'
small traders stalls.
`
Similarly dispersed, porous, and commingled is private life.
What distinguishes Naple from other large citie is something
it ha in common with the African kraal ; each private attitude
or act is permeated by streams of communal life. 1oexisj,Jo!
_
� �
Norther European the most private of afairs, is here, a in the
k
ra
al, a coll
e
ctive matter.
5the house is far less the refuge into which people retreat than
the inexhaustible reservoir from which they foo out. Life bursts
not only from doors, not only into front yards, where people on
chair do their work (for they have the faculty of making their
bodie tables) . Housekeeping utensils hang from balconie like
potted plants. From the windows of the top foor come baskets
on ropes for mail, fruit, and cabbage.
Just as the living room reappear on the street, with chairs,
hearth, and altar, so, only much more loudly, the street migrates
into the living room. Even the poorest one is as full of wax candles,

· Ö
× ' J
Naples 175
biscuit saints, sheaves of photos on the wall, and iron bedsteads, as
the street is of carts, people, and lights . ) p� brought abo�t
a stretching of frontiers that mirror the most radiant freedom of
thought. There u no hour, often no place, for sl�g an�¸�a(µ.
The poorer the quarter, the more numerous the eating houses.
From stove in the open street, those who can do b fetch what they
need. The same foods taste diferent at each stall ; things are not
done randomly but by proven recipes. In the way that, in the
window of the smallest trattoria, fi sh and meat lie heaped up for
inspection, there is a nuance that goes beyond the requirements of
the connoisseur. In the fish market this seafaring people has
created a marine sanctuary Ü grandiose Ü those of the Netherlands.
Starfish, crayfsh, cuttlefsh from the gulf waters, which teem with
creatures, cover the benche and are ofen devoured raw with a
little lemon. Even the banaheats of dry land become fantastic.
In the fourth¬
-
ri�|�:��.�of these t�nemell
t bl
oc
ks
c
o
�s
are kept.
The animals never walk on the street, and their hooi have become
b long that they can no longer stand.
How could anyone sleep in such rooms? To b sure, there are
beds, Ü many Ü the room will hold. But even if there are six or
seven, there are often more than twice Ü many occupants. For
this reason one sees children late at night-at twelve, even at two­
still in the streets. At midday they then lie sleeping behind a shop
counter or on a stairway. This ,sleep, which meIl and women also
snatch in shady corners, is therefo�e notthe pr
�te
Cte Northern
sleep. Here, too, there is interpenetrati.oll of day and night, noise
,n peace, ou ter
l
ig�t and inner da stnet and home. �
This extends even into toys. With the pale, watery colours of the
Munich Kindl, the Madonna stands on the walls of the houses. The
child that she holds away from her like a sceptre is to be found,
just Ü stif, wrapped and without arms or legs, Ü a wooden doll
in the poorest shops of Santa Lucia. With these toys the urchins
can hit whatever they like. A sceptre and a magic wand even in
their fi sts ; the Byzantine saviour still asserts himself today. Bare
woo at the back; only the front is painted. A blue garment,
white spots, red hem, and red cheeks.
But the demon of profligacy ha entered some of these dolls
that lie beneath cheap notepaper, clothespins, and tin sheep. In
the overpopulated quarters children are also quickly acquainted
with sex. But if their increase becomes devastating, if the father of a
family dies or the mother wastes away, close or distant relatives are
not needed. ^neighbour tke Ü· chik! to her table for a shorter or
longer period, and thu families interpenetrate in relationships
that can resemble adoption. True laboratorie of this great process
of intermingling are the c
�f
es. Life is unable to sit downand stagnate
in them. They are sober, open rooms resembling the political
People's Cafe, and the opposite of everything Viennese, of the
confned bourgeois, literary world. Neapolitan cafes are bluntly
to the point. A prolonged stay Lscarcely possible. A cup of exces­
sively hot cai eòpreòòo-in hot drinks this city is as unrivalled as in
sherbets, spumoni, and ice cream -usher the visitor out. The tables
have a coppery shine, they are small and round, and a companion
who Lles than stalwart turns hesitantly on his heel in the doorway.
Only a few people sit down briefy here. Three quick movements
of the hand, and they have placed their order.
The language of gestures goes further here than anywhere
else in Italy. The conversation L impenetrable to anyone from
outside. Ears, nose, eyes, breast, and shoulders are signalling
stations activated by the fingers. These confgurations return in
their fastidiously specialized eroticism. Helping gestures and
impatient touche attract the stranger's attention through a
regularity that exclude chance. Yes, here his cause would be
hopelessly lost, but the Neapolitan benevolently sends him away,
sends him a few kilometre farther on to M_ori, " Vedere,,aILe poi
Mori" , he says, repeating an old pun. "S

e Naples and di.e" , says
t
h
e foreigner after him.
. - ' ` -
I
¬�,,./
Moscow
More quickly than Moscow itself, one get to know Berlin through
Mosco

. For someone returning home from Russia the city seems
freshly washed. There is no dirt, but no snow, either. The streets
seem in reality as desolately clean and swept as in the drawings of
Grosz. And how true-to-life his types are ha become more obvious.
What is true of the image of the city and its people applie als to
the intellectual situation: a new perspective of this is the most
undoubted gain from a stay in Russia. However little one may know
Russia, what one learns is to observe andjudge Europ with the
conscious knowledge of what is going on in Russia. This is the first
benefit to the intelligent European in Russia. But, equally, this i
why the stay is so exact a touchstone for foreigners._1
L
Qhlies
everyone to choose his standpoin

. Admittedly, the only real
gu
a
rantee of a correct understanding is to have chosen your posi­
tion before you came. In Russia above all, you can only see if you
have already decided. At the turning point in historical event that
is indicated, if not constituted, by the fact of "Soviet Russia", the
question at issue is not which reality is better, L which ha greater
potential. It is only: which reality is inwardly convergent with
truth? Which truth is inwardly preparing itself to converge with
the real? Only he who clearly answer these questions is "objective".
Not toward his contemporarie (which is unimportant) but toward
events (which is decisive) . Only he who, by decision, ha made his
dialectical peace with the world can grasp the concrete. But some­
one who wishe to decide "on the basis offacts" will fnd no basis in
177
the facts. Returning home, he wi|| discover above a|| that Ber|in
is a deserted city. Peop|e and group moving in its streets have
so|itude about them.
-
v
]
r|in's |uxury seems unspeak

b|e. And it_�(r _ �
beginsontheaspha|t, forthebreadthoftbepavementsis prince|y.
\
Theymake ofthepoorestwretch agrand seigneur promenadingon
the terrace ofhis mansion. Prince|y so|itude, prince|y deso|ation
hang over the streets ofBer|in. Not on|y in the West Lnd. In
Moscow therearethreeorfour p|acewhereitispossib|etomake
headway without that strategy ofshovingandweaving that one
|earnsinthehrstweek¸atthesametime,therefore,asthetechnique
ofachieving |ocomotion on sheet ice) . Steppingonto the Sto|ech-
nikov one breathe again. here at |ast one may stop without
compunctioninfrontofshopwindowsandg onone'swaywithout
partaking in the |oitering, serpentine gait to which the narrow
pavemenu have accustomed most peop|e. But what fu||neæ has
thµst;ect thatoverßows not on|y with peop|e, and how deserted
�cmptyis Ber|in!InMoscowgo�ds bursteverywherefrom the
houses,theyhangonfences,|eanagainstrai|ings,|ieonpavements.
Lvery hfty step standwomenwith cigarettes,womenwith fruit,
women with sweets. They have their wares in a |aundry basket
nexttothem,sometimea|itt|es|eigha we||. Abright|yco|oured
woo||en c|oth protects app|e or orange from the co|d, with two
prize examp|e|yingon top. Next to them aresugarhgures, nuts,
candy. Onethinks. before |eavingherhouseagrandmothermust
have |ooked around to see what she cou|d take to surprise her
grandchi|dren. Now she had stopped on the way to have a short
rest in the street. Ber|in streets know no such p|ace with s|eighs,
sacks, |itt|e carts, and baskets. Compared to those of Moscow,
theyare|ikeafresh|yswept,emptyracecourse onwhichahe|dof
six-daycyc|istshastenscomfort|ess|yon.
z
Thecityseems to de|iveritse|fat the outset, at thestation. Kiosks,
arc|amps,bui|dingscrysta||izeintohgurethatarenevertoreturn.
Yetthisisdispe||edasoonaIseekwords.Imustbonmyway. . . .
At hrst there is nothing to b seen but snow, the dirty snow that
Moscow 1 79
hasa|ready insta||ed itse|f and thec|eansnow movingup behind.
Theinstantone arrives, the chi|dhoostagebegins. On the thick
sheeticeofthe streets wa|kinghatobe re|earned. The¡ung|e of
houses is so impenetrab|e that on|y bri||iance strike the eye. A
transparency with the inscription "Ker" g|ows in the evening. I
notice itasifthe Tverskaia, the o|d roadtoTveron which I now
am,wererea||ysti|| theopen road,withnothingto bseenfarand
wideexceptthep|ain.BeforeIdiscoveredMoscow'srea||andscape,
its rea| river, founditsrea| heights, each thoroughfare became for
me a contested river, each house number a trigonometric signa|,
andeachofitsgiganticsquarea|ake.Foreverysteponetakeshere
ison namedground. Andwhereone ofthese nameL heard, ina
ßash imagination bui|ds a who|e quarter about the sound. This
wil| |ong de( the |ater rea|ityand remain britt|y embedded in it
|ikeg|aæmasonry. Inthehrstphasethecitysti||habarriers at a
hundredfrontiers. Yetone day the gate, the church thatwere the
boundaryofadistrictbecomewithoutwarningitscentre. Nowthe
city turns into a |abyrinth for the newcomer. Streets that he had
|ocated far apart are yoked together by a corner |ike a pair of
horse in a coachman's hst. The who|e exciting sequence of
topographica|dummiesthatdeceiveshimcou|d on|yb,];p.wn bya
h|m:theci
'
yLonitsg�ardagaI:isthin¡mauI;se|[ß migues,
|ures him to wander its circ|e to t)ç gqm øt exhaun. ¸This
cou|d be approachcdín a very practica| way, during the tourist
seasoningreatcities, 'orientationh|ms"wou|drunforforeigners. )
But in the end, maps and p|ans are victorious . inbed atnight,
imagination¡ugg|es with rea| bui|dings, parks, andstreets.
¸
MoscowinwinterLaquietcity. Theimmense bust|eonthestreets
takep|acesoft|y.ThisLbecauseofthesnow,buta|sobecauseofthe
backwardneæ ofthe tramc. Car horns dominate the orchestra of
cities. Butin M·¡�owtherea)c on|yafew cars. Theyare usedon|y
/ . , ' , for

we� n�r


 
�d for a

¸ �
�|�¿�¡çqgqyernment. True,
, inteningtheyswitchonbrighter|ighu than are permittedin
any other great city. And the cone of |ight they pro¡ect are so
180
dazzling that anyone caught in them stands helplessly rooted to the
spot. In the blinding light before the Kremlin gate the guards stand
in their brazen ochre furs. Above them shines the red signal that
regulate the trafc passing through the gate. All the colours of
Moscow converge prismatically here, at the centre of Russian
power. Beams of excessive brilliance from the car headlights race
through the darkness. The horses of the cavalry, who have a large
drill ground in the Kremlin, shy in their light. Pedestrians force
 �
.
their way between car
.
and unruly horse�. Long rows of sleighs
_ Í
transport snow away. Smgle horsemen. SIlent swarms of ravens
_·` have settled in the snow. [hç(yeijnfnitely busier than the ear.
,
The colour do their utmost against the white. The smallest
coloured rag glows out of doors. Picture books lie in the snow;
Chinese sell artfully made paper fans, and still more frequently
,
paper kite in the form of exotic deep-sea fish. Day in, day out,
children's festivals are provided for. There are men with baskets
full of wooden toys, cart and spades ; the carts are yellow and red,
yellow or red the children's shovels. All these carved wo

den
``´
utensils are more simply and solidly m

e
i
h
a
'
}n
G
ermanY
;
their
.
¡easant origin being clearly visible. One morni

g, at the side o
f
the
road stand tiny houses that have never been seen before, each with
shining windows and a fence around the front garden: wooden
toys from the Vladimir government. That is to say, a new consign­
ment of goods has arrived. Serious, sober utensils become audacious
in street trading. A basket seller with all kinds of brightly coloured
wares, such as can be bought everywhere in Capri, two-handled
baskets with plain square patterns, carrie at the end of his pole
glazed-paper cage with glazed-paper birds inside them. But a
real parrot, too, a white ara can sometimes b seen. In the Miasnit­
skaia stands a woman with linen goods, the bird perching on her
tray or shoulder. A picturesque background for such animals must
bsought elsewhere, at the photographer's stand. Under the bare
trees of the boulevards are screens showing palms, marble stair­
cases, and southern seas. And something else, too, reminds one of
the South. It is the wild variety of the street trade. Sho polish
and writing materials, handkerchiefs, dolls' sleighs, swings for
Moscow 181
chi|dren, |adies' underwear, stußed birds, c|othes-hangersa||
thisspraw|sontheopenstreet, Ü ifi(wc¡�nottwenty-hvedegrees
be|ow zero but high Neapo|u�

mmer. I w� for:Ipe
ystIhed 1y¯a¯tanvh� had ín hont of him a densely |ettered
board. I wantedtoseeasoothsayerin him. At|astI succeededin
watchinghimatwork.I sawhimse||twoofhis|ettenandhthem
Ü initia|s to his customer's ga|oshes. Then the wides|eighswith
three compartments for peanuts, haze|nuts, and� ss�itchk¸ ¸sun-
ßower seeds, whichnow,accordingtoaru|ingofthe Soviet, may
no|ongerbechewedinpub|ic p|aces) . Cookshopownengatherin
the neighbourhood ofthe Iabour exchange. They have hot cakes
to se||, and sausage fried in s|ices. But a|| this goes on si|ent|y,
ca||s |ikethoseofeverytraderin the South are unknown. Rather,
th� peop|e addreæ the passer-by with words, �easured If not(� _
whispered words, in which there is something ofthe humi|ity of
�eggars. On|y one caste parades noisi|y through the streets here,
therag-and-bonemenwithsacksontheirbacks ,theirme|ancho|y
cryringsoneormoretimesaweekineveryquarter.Streettrading
isinparti||ega|andthereforeavoidsattractingattention. Women,
eachwithapieceofmeat, achicken,ora|egofpork restingona
}ayer ofstraw in her open hand, stand oñering it to passers-by.
´Ihese are vendon without permits. They are topoortopaythe
dutyforasta||andhavenotimetostandin|inemanyhounatan
omce for a week|y concession. When a member of the mi|itia
'
approaches, they simp|y run away. The street trade cu|minates
¸¡nthe|argemarkets,ontheSmo|enskaiaandtheArbat.Andonthe
_ Sucharevskaia. This, themostfamousofa||, is situated atthefoot
ofa church thatrisewith b|uedomeabovethe booths. Firstone
passes the quarter ofthe scrap-iron dea|ers. The peop|e simp|y
have their wares |ying in the snow. One hnds o|d |ocks, metre
:u|ers, hand too|s, kitchen utensi|s, e|ectrica| goods. Repairs are
carriedout on the spot, I saw someone so|dering over a pointed
ßame. Therearenoseatsanywhere,everyonestands up,gossiping
or trading. At this market the architectonic function ofwares is
perceptib|e . c|othanu�ic mrm buttresses and coIumq�¡ shoes,
ealcnkj hanging tIir�aded on strings acroæ the cou�ters, bec�me
theroofofthebooth,largegarmoshka , accordions) form sounding
walls, therefore in a sense Memno walls. Whether, at the few
stallswithpictureofsaints,µmcnstillse¢retlybuythosestrange
icomthatitwasalreadypunishable �d�rtsarisn: (o s�J[ Ido
·
�ot
know. Therewathe MotherofGo withfhreehands. Sheis half
naked. From her navel risea strong, well-formed hand. At right
and leû the two othen spread in the gesture of blessing. This
threesomeofhandsisdeemedasymboloftheHoly Trinity. There
wa another devotional picture ofthe Mother ofGo that shows
her with open belly, clouds come from it instead of entrails, in
, ',
�·¹ their midst dance the Christ child holding a violin in his hand.
``
Since the sale of icons is considered a branch ofthe paper and
picture trade, these booths with pictures ofsaints stand next to
,�
those with paper goods, m that they are always ßanked bypor-
·J
·
:
traitsofLenin, likeaprisonerbetween two policemen. Thestreet
life does not cease entirely even at night. In dark gateways you
stumble against fun built like houses. Night watchmen huddle
inside on chairs, from time to time bestirring themselves
ponderously.
4
,In the street scene of any proletarian quarter the children are
� ·¸important. Theyare more numerous therethanin otherdistricts,
 �
¸and move more purposefully and busily. Moscow swarms with
 
�hildren everywhere. Lven among them there is a Communist
ð
� hierarchy.The'Komsomoltsy',astheeldest,areatthetop. They
have their clubs in everytown and are reallytrainedas the next
generation ofthe Party. The younger children become-atsix
'Pioneers'. They,too,areunitedinclubs,andweararedtieasa
proud distinction. "Oktiahr" , 'Octobrists') , lastly-or 'Wolves'
-is the name given to little babies from the moment they are
able to point tothepictureofLenin. But evennowonealso comes
acroæ the derelict, unspeakably melancholy hesprizornye, war
orphans. By daytheyare usually seen alone,eachoneonhisown
warpath. Butin the evening they¡oinup before the lurid façades
ofmoviehouses to form gangs, and foreignen are warnedagainst
Moscow
183
meeting such bands aÌone when waÌking home. TheonÌy way for
the educator to understand these thoroughÌy savage, mistrustfuÌ,
embittered peopÌewæ togoout on thestreet himseÌI In eachof
Moscow's districts, chiÌdren's centre have beeninstaÌÌedfor years
aÌready. They are supervised by a femaÌe state empÌoyee who
seÌdom has more than one assistant. Her task is, in one way or
another, to makecontactwiththe chiÌdren ofherdistrict. Food is
distributed, game are pÌayed. To begin with, twenty or thirty
chiÌdren cometothe centre, butifasuperintendentdoesherwork
properÌy,itmaybhÌÌedwithhundredsofchiÌdrenaItertwoweeks.
NeedÌess to say, traditionaÌ pedagogicaÌ methods never made
muchimpressionon theseinfantiÌemasses.Togetthroughtothem
at aÌÌ, to be heard, one hæ to reÌate as directÌy and cÌearÌy as
possibÌeto the catchwordsofthe streetitseÌI,ofthe whoÌecoÌÌective
Ìife. PoÌitics, in theorganizationofcrowdsofsuch chiÌdren, u not
tendentious,butasnaturaÌasubject,asobviousavisuaÌaid,æthe
toyshop or doÌÌ-house for middÌe-cÌaæ chiÌdren. Ifone aÌso bears
in mind that a superintendent has to Ìook aIter the chiÌdren, to
occupy and feed them, and in addition to keep a record of aÌÌ
expenses for miÌk, bread, and materiaÌs, that she is responsibÌe
foraÌÌ this, it mustbecome drasticaÌÌycÌearhow muchroomsuch
work Ìeave for the private Ìife ofthe person performing it. But
amid aÌÌ the image ofchiÌdhood destitution that is stiÌÌ far from
having been overcome, an attentive observer wiÌÌ perceive one
thing. howtheÌiberatedprideoftheproÌetariatLmatchedbythe
emancipated bearingofthe chiÌdren. Nothingis more pÌeasantÌy
surprisingon avisitto Moscow'smuseumsthan tosee how, singÌy
or in groups, sometimes around a guide, chiÌdren and worken
move easiÌy through these rooms. Nothing is to be seen of the
forÌornness ofthe few proÌetarians who dare to show themseÌves
to theothervisitoninourmuseums. In RussiatheproÌetq;)a�¸|as

�ÌÌybçgun to take possession ofþourgeou��turc, �herca on
suchoccasionsinourcountrytheyhavetheappcaranceofpÌanning
abur¸gÌary. AdmittedÌy, therearecoÌÌectiominMoscowin which
workers andchiÌdrencan quickÌyfeeÌ themseÌve at home. There
isthePoÌytechnicMuseum,withitsmanythousandsof experiments,
picccsofapparatus, documcnts, andmodcÌsrcÌatingto thchistory
ofprimary production and manufacturing industry. Thcrc is thc
admirabÌyruntoymuscum,whichundcritsdircctor, Bartram, has
brought togcthcr a prccious, instructivc coÌÌcction of Russian
toys, and scrvcs thc schoÌar as much as thc chiÌdrcn who waÌk
about for houn in thcsc rooms ¸about midday thcrcis aÌso a big,
frcc puppctshow, as hncas anyinthcLuxcmbourg). Thcrc is thc
famous Trctiakov OaÌÌcry in which onc undcrstands for thc hrst
timc what gcnrc painting mcans and how cspcciaÌÌy appropriatc
itis to thc Russians. Hcrc thc proÌr)arian m+>uþc(tot
history of his movcmcnt . A Conspirator Surprised by the Police, The
Æ/am Jro Exile in Siberia, The Poor Goveress Enters Service in a
Rich Merchant's House. AndthcfactthatsuchsccncsarcstiÌÌpaintcd \
cntircÌy in thc spirit ofbourgcois art not onÌy doe no harm÷it
actuaÌÌy brings thcm cÌoscr to this pubÌic. )q¡ cdcation in_
¯ ��..+~ = � .• ~"¯
¸æ Proust cxpÌains vcry wcÌÌ from timc to timc) is not bcst pro-
motcdby thc contcmpÌation of'mastcrpicccs'. Rathcr, thc chiÌd
or thc proÌctarian who is cducating himscÌfrightÌy acknowÌcdgcs
vcry dißcrcnt works as mastcrpicccs from thosc scÌcctcd by thc
coÌÌcctor. Such picturcs havc for him a vcry transitory but soÌid
mcaning,andastrictcritcrionisncccssaryonÌywithrcgardtothc
topicaÌworks thatrcÌatctohim, hiswork, and hiscÌass.
¸
Bcggingis not aggrcssivc as in thc South, whcrc thc importunity
ofthcragamumnstiIÌbctrayssomcrcmnantofvitaÌity. Hcrcitisa
corporation ofthc dying. Thc strcct corncrs ofsomc quartcrs arc
covcrcd with bundÌcs ofrags÷bcds in thc vast opcn-air hospitaÌ
caIÌcdMoscow.Long,bcsccchingspccchcsarcaddrcsscdtopcopÌc.
Thcrc is onc bcggar who aÌways bcgins, at thc approach of a
promising-Ìooking passcr-by, to cmit a soft, drawn-out howÌing,
thìs is dircctcd at forcigncn who cannot spcak Russian. Anothcr
hæthccxactposturcofthcpaupcrforwhom SaintMartin,inoÌd
picturcs, cutshìscÌoakintwowith his sword. hcknccÌswith both
arms outstrctchcd. ShortÌy bcforc Christmas, two chiÌdrcn sat
day aftcr day in thc snow against thc waII ofthc Muscum ofthc
!
/
Moscow 1 8
5
RevoÌution, covered with a scrap of materiaÌ, and whimpering.
¸But outside the LngÌish CÌub, the most genteeÌ in Moscow, to
which this buiÌding earÌier beÌonged, even that wouÌd not have
been possibÌe. ) Òne ought to know Moscow as such beggar
chiÌdren know it. )��,know of a¸ corer beside the doqr ¸çf a
�e�tainshopwhere,

ataparticuÌartime, theyareaÌÌowedtowarm
themseÌvesfortenminutes, theyknowwhereonedayeachweekat
a certain hour they can Ietch themseÌve crusts, and where a
sÌeeping pÌace among stacked sewage pipes is free. They have
deveÌoped begging to ahigh art withahundredschematisms and
variations. They watch the customers ofa pastry-cook on a busy
street corner, approach one, and accompany him, whining and
pÌeading, untiÌ he has reÌinquished to thema pieceofhis hot pie.
Òthers keep station at a streetcar terminus, board a vehicÌe, sing
asong,andcoÌÌectkopecks.AndtherearepÌaces,admittedÌyonÌya
few, where even street trading has the appearance ofbegging. A
few MongoÌs stand against the waÌÌ of Kitai Oorod. Òne stands
no more than hve paces from the next, seÌÌing Ìeather briefcases,
each with exactÌy the same articÌe æ his neighbour. There must
be some agreement behind this, for they cannot seriousÌy intend
suchhopeÌesscompetition. ProbabÌyintheirhomeÌandthewinter
isnoÌessharshandtheirraggedfursarenoworsethanthoseofthe
natives. NevertheÌess they are ¡he onÌy peopÌe in Moscowwhom
one pitieson accountofthe cÌimate. Lvenpriestswhogobegging
for their churches are stiÌÌ to b seen. But one very seÌdom sees
anyone give. Begging has Ìost its strongest foundation, the bad
sociaÌ conscience, which opens purse m much wider than doe
pity. Beyond this it appears as an expression ofthe unchanging
wretchedneæ ofthese beggars , perhaps, too, it is onÌy the resuÌt
ofjudicious organization that, ofaÌÌ the institutions ofMoscow,
they aÌone are dependabÌe, remaining unchanged in their pÌace
whiÌe everythingaround themshi|ts.
6
Lach thought, each day, each Ìife Ìies here as on a Ìaboratory
tabIe. AndasifitwereametaÌ fromwhichanunknownsubstance

186
ìs bycvcrymcansto bcxtractcd, ìt mustcndurccxpcrìmcntatìon
to thc poìnt ol cxhaustìon. No organìsm, no organìzatìon, can
cscapcthìsproccss. Lmployccsìnthcìrlactorìcs,omccìnbuìldìngs,
pìcccsollurnìturc ìn thc apartmcnts arcrcarrangcd, translcrrcd,
and shovcd about. �

rµonì� lor �ìstcnìn�

rìac

arc prc;cnlrdinthc club as at rcscarchìnst
¡]
¡
[¿
-
Rcgulatìonsarc

cha¡d lrom day to day, b\:tst
,
c

t�a

¸

¡¿
ç
,

_
ìgratc, too, shops
turn ìnto rcstaurants and a lcw wccks latcr ìnto omccs. Thìs
astonìshìng cxpcrì

�at ¸ � hcrc callcd rcmcatc÷añccts
�6  ¬Jy

t ìs Russìan. In t

s

ìn h«vc ìs as
m�naïvc dcsìrclor ìmprov

mcntas thcrc L boundlcscurìosìty
and playlulncss. Icw thìngs arc shapìng Russìa morc powcrlully
today. Thc country ìs mobìlìzcd day and nìght, most ol all, ol
coursc, thc Party. Indccd, what dìstìnguìshcd thc Bolshcvìk, thc
Russìan Communìst, lrom hìs Wcstcrn comradc ìs thìs uncondì-
tìonalrcadìncsslormobìlìzatìon.Thcmatcrìalbasìsolhìscxìstcncc
ìs soslcndcr that hc ìs prcparcd, ycarìn, ycar out, to dccamp. Hc
would not othcrwìsc b a match lor thìs lìlc. Whcrc clsc L ìt
conccìvablc that a dìstìnguìshcd mìlìtary lcadcr should onc day
bc madc dìrcctor ola grcat statc thcatrc? Thc prcscnt dìrcctor
olthc Thcatrc ol thc Rcvolutìon ìs a lormcr gcncral. Truc . hc
was a man ollcttcrs bclorc hc bccamc a vìctorìous commandcr.
Òrìn whìch othcrcountry can onc hcarstorìc lìkc thosc told mc
bythccommìssìonaìrcolmy hotcl'Lntìl i geqhcwascmploycdìn
ìnthcKrcmlìn. Thcnoncday hcwasamìctcd byscvcrc scìatìca.
Thc Party had hìm trcatcdbythcìr bcst doctors, scnt hìm to thc
l' Crìmca, had hìm takc mud baths and try radìatìon trcatmcnt.
·
\
Whcnallprovcdìnvaìnhcwastold,'Younccdajobìnwhìchyou
, _� canlookaIìcryourscll, kccpwarm, andnot movc1" Thcncxt day
· � hc was a hotcl portcr. Whcn hc ìs curcd hc wìll go back to thc

Krcmlìn. Lltìmatcly, cvcn thc hcalth ol comradcs ìs a prìzcd
posscssìonolthcParty, whìch, agaìnstthc pcrson`s wìshc ìlncccs-
cary, takcs such mcasurcs as arc nccdcd to conscrvc ìt. So ìt ìs
prcscntcd, at any ratc, ìn an cxccllcnt novclla by Borìs Pìlnìak.
Agaìnst hìswìll a hìghomcìalundcrgoc an opcratìon that has a
latal outcomc. ¸Avcry lamous namcL mcntìoncd hcrc amongthc
/

/
 .
...  Moscow 187
v
')

  , . �_'_�')
dead ofthe Ìast few years. ) There is no knowÌ�e and no mcuÌty
(hat ¸are nq( soµ�hoy approyriat¬� ��

to
serve it. The speciaÌistis aspearheadofthis increasingÌy practicaÌ
_

roah and the onÌy citizen who, outside the pohticaÌ sphere,
hasanystatus.Attimetherespectforthistypevergeonfetishism.
Thus the red MiÌitary Academy empÌoyed as a teachera generaÌ
whoisnotoriousforhispartintheciviÌwar.Hehadeverycaptured
BoÌshevik unceremoniousÌy hanged. For Europeans such a point
ofview,whichintransigentÌysubordinatetheprestigeofideoÌogy
to practicaÌ demands, is bareÌy comprehensibÌe. But this incident
is aÌso characteristic of the opposing side. For it is not onÌy the
miÌitaryofthe tsaristempirewho, æ is known, pÌaced themseÌves
at the service ofthe BoÌsheviks. InteÌÌectuaÌs, too, retun in time
as speciaÌists to the posts they sabotaged during the civiÌ war.
Òpposition, as weshouÌd Ìike toimagine it in the West÷inteÌÌec-
tuaÌs hoÌding themseÌve aÌoofand Ìanguishing under the yoke÷
doesnot exist, or, better, noÌongerexists. It has÷with whatever
reservations÷accepted the truce with the BoÌsheviks, or it has
been annihiÌated. There is in Russia÷particuÌarÌy outside the
Party÷onÌy the most ÌoyaÌ opposition. ForthisnewÌifeweighson
no one more heaviÌy than on the outsider observing from a
distance.To endurethisexistenceinidÌeneæisimpossibÌebecause,
in each smaÌÌest detaiÌ, it becomes beautifuÌ and comprehensibÌe
onÌy through work. To the integration ofpersonaÌ thoughts with
thepre-existingheÌdofforces, with the mandate,howevervirtuaÌ,
for organized, guaranteed contact with comrades÷to this, Ìife
hereissotightÌyboundthatanyonewhoabstainsorcannotachieve
it degenerateinteÌÌectuaÌÌyasifthroughyeanofsoÌitary conhne-
ment.
;
BoÌshevism has aboÌished private Ìife.
��
y


caÌ
activit¸, th¢psae � po_erfu| thatnotimeremainsforinterests
· -•~. ·� ´ ¬ ·^¬· *�=·~�~�-~ ~··.-.¬�~���-- ·..��-�· " , , .·=�×.�ø¬._,¸,¸ ¿. . ¸
¸th�¡qo not conve
[8


i¸��¸�þ�¸_ç �space. Apartments that
earÌier accommdated singÌefamiÌie in tc¡rve to eight rooms
now oIten Ìodge eight. Through the haÌÌ door one step into a
188
ÌittÌetown. MoreoftenstiÌÌ, an army camp. Lvenin the Ìobbyone
can encounter beds. Indoon one onÌy camps, and usuaÌÌy the
scanty inventory is onÌy a residue of petty-bourgeois possessions
that have a far more depressing eßect because the room is so
sparseÌy furnished. An essentiaÌ feature of the petty-bourgeois
interior, however, was compÌeteness . pictures must cover the
waÌÌs, cushions the sofa, coven the cushions, ornaments hÌÌ the
manteÌpiece, coÌoured gÌaæ the windows. ¸ Such peg-þour
¿ r0Í

roomsarebattÌebcÌds¼.yþ)ç]th ¸attaç¸of¸�ç��odj¸ çzp
h�qvipfor¡ous!y,ncthi
@1
u
@3 ��¹

a
B
µ

)
ÒfaÌÌ that, onÌy a part here or there has been indiscriminateÌy
preserved.WeekÌythefurnitureinthebareroomsisrearranged÷
thatistheonÌyÌuxuryinduÌgedinwiththem,andatthesametime
aradicaÌmeansofexpeÌÌing'cosiness',aÌongwiththemeÌanchoÌy
withwhich it is paid for, from the house. PeopÌe can bear to exist
in it because theyareestranged from it bytheirwayofÌife. Their
dweÌÌingpÌaceistheomce,thecÌub,thestreet. ÒfthemobiÌearmy
ofomciaÌsonÌythebaggagetrainistobfoundhere. Curtainsand
partitions, oIten onÌy haÌf the height of the waÌÌs, have had to
>
muÌtipÌy the number ofrooms. For each¿�tizenis¸�ntitÌed � Ìaw
/ <7�\' �·
tm;¿ n_�q¸ q¿��ac

. �hi
¸
a�c �m�da�
tions hepaysaccordingto hisincome. The state÷aÌÌhouseowner-
ship is nationaÌized÷charge the unempÌoyed one rubÌe monthÌy
forthesameareafor whichthebetter-oßpaysixtyormore.Anyone
whoÌayscÌaimtomorethanthisprescribedareamust,ifhecannot
justi[ his cÌaim professionaÌÌy, make manifoÌd amends. Lvery
stepawayfromthepreordainedpathmeetswithanimmeasurabÌe
bureaucratic apparatus and with impossibÌe costs. The member
of a trade union who produce a certihcate of iÌÌneæ and goes
through the prescribed channeÌs can be admitted to the most
modern sanatorium, sent to heaÌth resorts in the Crimea, can
enjoyexpensiveradiationtreatment,withoutpayingapennyforit.
Theoutsider cango begging and sinkinto penuryifhe is not ina
position, as a member ofthe new bourgeoisie, to buy aÌÌ this for
thousands ofrubÌes. Anythingthatcannotb basedon the coÌÌec-
tiveframework demandsadisproportionate expenditureofeßort.
Moscow :8g
For this reason there is no 'homeÌiness'. But nor are there any
cafcs. Free trade and the free inteÌÌect have been aboÌished. The
cafcsaretherebydeprivedoftheirpubÌic.Thereremain,therefore,
evenforprivateañairs,onÌytheomceandthecÌub.Here,however,
transactions are under the aegis ofthe new /¸t÷the new environ-
mentforwhichnothingcountsexceptthefunctionofthe producer
in the coÌÌective. The new Russians caÌÌ milie the onÌy reÌiabÌe
educator.
8
ForeachcitizenofMoscowthedaysarefuÌÌtothebrim.Meetings,
committees are hxed at aÌÌ houn in omces, cÌubs, factories, and
oIten have no site of their own, being heÌd in cornen of noisy
editoriaÌ rooms, atthecÌearedtabÌeofacanteen. Thereisakindof
naturaÌ seÌection and a struggÌe for existence between these
meetings. Society projecu them to some extent, pÌans them, they
are convened. But how oIten must this b repeated untiÌ hnaÌÌy
oneofthemanyìssuccessfuÌ,provesviabÌe,is adapted,takespÌace.
Thatnothingturnsoutæwæintendedandexpected÷this banaÌ
expressionofthe reaÌityofÌife hereassertsitseÌfin each individuaÌ
case so invioÌabÌy and intenseÌy that Russian fataÌism becomes
comprehensibÌe. IfciviÌizingcaÌcuÌationsÌowÌy estabÌisheitseÌfin
the coÌÌective, this wiÌÌ, in thehrst pÌace, onÌy compÌicate matters.
¸Òne is better provided for in a house that has onÌycandÌesthan
where eÌectric Ììght is instaÌÌed but the suppÌy ofcurrent isinter-
rupted hourÌy.) A feeÌing for the vaÌue oftime, notwithstanding
aÌÌ'rationaÌìzation',ìs notmetwithevenin the capitaÌofRussia.
'Trud', the trade-union institute for thestudy ofwork, underits
director, Oastiev, Ìaunched a poster campaign for punctuaÌity.
From earÌiest times a Ìarge number of cÌockmakers have been
settÌedin Moscow. They are crowded, in the mannerofmedievaÌ
guiÌds, in particuÌar streets, on the Kuznetsky Bridge, on !Ìitsa
Oertsena. Òne wonden who actuaÌÌy needs them. 'Time is
money'÷forthisastonishingstatementposterscÌaimtheauthority
ofLenin,soaÌìenistheideatotheRussians. Theyfrittereverything
away. ¸ Òne is tempted to say that minute are a cheap Ìiquor of
which they can never get enough, that they are tipsy with time.)
Ifonthe street a scene is being shot for a hÌm, they forget where
theyaregoingandwhy,andfoÌÌow thecamerafor hours, arriving
at the omce distraught. In his use oftime, therefore, the Russian
wiÌÌremain 'Asiatic" ÌongestofaÌÌ. ÒnceI neededto be wakened
atseveninthe morning. 'PÌease knocktomorrowatseven." This
eÌicited from the hoteÌ porter the foÌÌowing Shakespearean mono-
Ìogue. 'If we think ofit we shaÌÌ wake you, but if we do not
thinkofitweshaÌÌnotwakeyou.ActuaÌÌyweusuaÌÌydothinkofit,
andthenwewakepeopÌe.Buttobesure,weaÌsoforgetsometime
whenwedonot thinkofit. Thenwe do notwakepeopÌe. We are
undernoobÌigation, ofcourse,butifitcrossesourmind, wedoit.
Whendoyouwanttobwakened?Atseven?ThenweshaÌÌwrite
thatdown. You see, I am putting the message therewherehe wiÌÌ
hndit. Òfcourse, ifhedoenot hnd it, thenhe wiÌÌ notwake you.
But usuaÌÌy we do wake peopÌe. " The reaÌ unit of time is the
seichas. That means 'atonce". You can hearit ten, twenty, thirty
times, and wait hours, days, or weeks untiÌ the promise is carried
out. just Ü you seÌdom hear the answer 'no". Negative repÌies
areÌe6totime. Time catastrophes, timecoÌÌisionsare therefore Ü
much the order ofthe day Ü the remon/e. They make each hour
superabundant, each day exhausting, each Ìife a moment.
µ
TraveÌ by streetcar in Moscow is above aÌÌ a tacticaÌ experience.
Here the newcomer Ìearns perhaps most quickÌy ofaÌÌ to adapt
himseÌfto the curious tempo ofthis cityand to the rhythm ofits
peasantpopuÌation. And thecompÌeteinterpenetrationoftechno-
ÌogicaÌandprimitivemodeofÌife, thisworÌd-historicaÌexperiment
in the new Russia, is iÌÌustrated in miniature bya streetcar ride.
The conductressesstandfur-wrappedat theirpÌaceÌikeSamoyed
women on a sÌeigh. A tenacious shoving and barging during the
boardingofa vehicÌe usuaÌÌyoverÌoadedto the point ofbursting
takes pÌace without a sound and with great cordiaÌity. ¸I have
neverheard an angryword on these occasions.) Ònce everyone is
inside, the migration begins in earnest. Through the ice-covered
Moscow 191
windowsyoucanncvcrmakcoutwhcrcthcvchicÌchasjuststoppcd.
Ifyoudohndout,itisofÌittÌcavaiÌ.Thcwaytothccxitis bÌockcd
by a human wcdgc. Sincc you must board at thc rcar but aÌight
at thc front, you havc to thrcad your way through this mass.
Howcvcr, convcyancc usuaÌÌy occun in batchcs , at important
stops thc vchicÌc is aÌmost compÌctcÌy cmpticd. Thus cvcn thc
tramcin Moscowis to aÌargccxtcntamass phcnomcnon. 5 onc
can cncountcrwhoÌc caravans ofsÌcighs bÌocking thc strcct on a
Ìongrow bccausc Ìoads that rcquirc a truck arc bcing stackcd on
hvc or six Ìargc sÌcighs. Thc sÌcighs hcrc takc thc horsc into
considcration hrst and thcn thc passcngcr. Thcy do not know thc
sÌightcstsupcrßuity. A fccding sackfor thcnags, a bÌankct for thc
passcngcrand thatisaÌÌ. Thcrcisroomfornotmorcthantwoon
thc narrow bcnch, and æ it has no back ¸ unÌcss you arc wiÌÌing
so to dcscribc aÌowraiÌ) , you mustkccpagoodbaÌanccon sharp
corncrs. Lvcrything is bascd on thc assumption of thc highcst
vcÌocity, Ìongjourncys in thc coÌdarchardto bcar and distanccs
in this gigantic viÌÌagc immcasurabÌc. Thc izvozshchik drivcs his
vchicÌccÌosctothcsidcwalk. Thc passcngcru not cnthroncd high
up, hcÌooksoutonthcsamcÌcvcÌæcvcryonccÌscandbrushcsthc
passcrs-bywithhissÌccvc. LvcnthisisanincomparabÌccxpcricncc
for thc scnscoftouch. Whcrc Luropcans, on thcir rapidjourncys,
cnjoy supcriority, dominancc ovcr thc masscs, thc Muscovitc in
thc ÌittÌc sÌcigh is cÌoscly mingÌcd withpcopÌc and things. Ifhc has
abox, achiÌd, orabaskct to takcwith him÷foraÌÌthis thc sÌcigh
is thc chcapcst mcans oftransport÷hc is truÌy wcdgcd into thc
strcctbustÌc.Nocondcsccndinggazc .atcndcr,swiftbrushingaÌong
stoncs, pcopÌc,and horscs. YoufccÌÌikcachiÌdgIidingthroughthc
housc on its ÌittÌc chair.
t o
Christmas is a fcast of thc Russian forcst. With pincs, candÌcs,
trcc dccorations, it scttÌe for many wccks in thc strccts, for thc
advcnt of Orcck Òrthodox Christians ovcrÌap thc Christmas of
thosc RussianswhoccÌcbratc thc fcast bythc Wcstcrn, thatis thc
ncw, omciaÌ caÌcndar. Nowhcrc docs onc scc Christmæ trccs
morebeautifuÌÌy decorated. LittÌe boats, birds, hshes, houses, and
fruit crowd the street staÌÌs and shops, and every year about this
timetheKustarny Museumfor RegionaÌArthoÌdsakindoftrade
fair for aÌÌ this. At a crossroads I found a woman seÌÌing tree
decorations. The gÌassbaÌÌs, yeÌÌow and red, gÌinted in the sun, it
wasÌike an enchanted appÌe basket in which red and yeÌÌow were
dividedamongdißerentfruit. Pinesare drawn throughthestreets
onsÌowsÌeighs. ThesmaÌÌeronearetrimmedonÌywithsiÌkbows ,
ÌittÌepinewithbÌue, pink,andgreenribbonsstandon thecorners.
ButtothechiÌdrentheChristmastoys,evenwithoutaSantaCÌaus,
teÌÌ how they come from deep in the forests ofRussia. It u as if
onÌy under Russian hands does wood put forth such Ìuxuriant
greenness. Itturnsgreen÷and thenreddensandpuuonacoatof
goÌd, ßares sky-bÌue and petrihes bÌack. 'Red" and 'beautifuÌ'
arein ¸oÌd| Russian one word. CertainÌy the gÌowing Ìogs in the
stove are themost magicaÌ metamorphosis ofthe Russian forest.
NowheredoesthehearthseemtogÌowwithsuchspÌendourashere.
But radiance is captured in aÌÌ the wood that the peasant carves
and paints. And when varnished, it is hre frozen in aÌÌ coÌours.
YeÌÌow and red on the baÌaÌaika, bÌack and green on the ÌittÌe
garmoshka for chiÌdren, andeveryshade in the thirty-sixeggsthat
htoneinsideanother.Butforestnight,too,Ìiveinthewood.There
aretheheavyÌittÌeboxewithscarÌetinteriors . on the outside, on
a gÌeaming-bÌack background, a picture. !nder the tsan this
industry was on the point of extinction. Now, beside new
miniatures, the oÌd, goÌd-embeÌÌished image are again emerging
from peasant Ìife. A troika with its three horses races through the
night, or a girÌ in a sea-bÌue dress stands at night beside green
haring bushes, waiting for her Ìover. No nightofterror is as dark
as this durabÌe Ìacquer nightin whosewomb aÌÌ that appeaninit
is enfoÌded. I sawa box with a pictureofa seated woman seÌÌing
cigarettes. Beside her stands a chiÌd who wants to take one.
Pitch-bÌacknighthere,too.Buton therightastoneandon theÌeft
a Ìeaheæ tree are discernibÌe. Òn the woman's apron u the word
Mossel'prom. She u the Soviet 'Madonna with the Cigarettes'.
Moscow 193
Ï Ï
Oreen is the supreme Ìuxury ofthe Moscow winter. But it shines
from the shopin the Petrovka not haÌfas beautifuÌÌy as the paper
bunchesofartihciaÌcarnations,roses,ÌiÌieonthestreet.Inmarkets
they are the onÌy wares to have no hxed staÌÌ and appear now
among groceries, now among textiÌe goods and crockery staÌÌs.
But they outshine everything, raw meat, coÌoured wooÌ, and
gÌeamingdishes. Òther bouquets areseenatNewYear's. Òn the
StrasnaiaSquareIsawasI passedÌongtwigswithred,white,bÌue,
greenbÌoomsstuckto them,eachstaÌkofadißerentcoÌour.When
taÌkingofMoscowßowersonemustnotforgettheheroicChristmas
roses, northegiganticaÌÌytaÌÌhoÌÌyhockmadeofÌampshade that
the trader carries through the streets. Òr the gÌass cases fuÌÌ of
ßowerswiththeheadsofsaintsÌookingoutamongthem.Norwhat
the frost here inspires, the peasantcÌothswith patterns, embroid-
ered in bÌue wooÌ, imitating ice ferns on windows. FinaÌÌy, the
gÌisteningcandy-icingßowerbedsoncakes.ThePastryCookfrom
chiÌdren'sfairytaÌeseemsto have survived onÌyin Moscow. ÒnÌy
here are there structure made ofnothing but spun sugar, sweet
icicÌes with which the tongue indemnihe itseÌfagainst the bitter
coÌd. MostintimateÌyofaÌÌ, snowand ßowers are unitedin candy
icing, there at Ìast the marzipan ßora seems to have fuÌhÌÌed
entireÌy Moscow's dream, to bÌoom outofwhiteness.
i z
!ndercapitaÌismpowerandmoneyhavebecomecommensurabÌe
quaÌities. Any given amount ofmoney may be converted into a
specihcpower,andthemarketvaÌueofaÌÌpowercanbcaÌcuÌated.
SothingsstandonaÌargescaÌe. WecanonÌyspeakofcorruption
where the process is handÌed to hastiÌy. It has in the smooth
interpÌay of press, boards, and trusts a switchgear within the
Ìimits of which it remains entireÌy ÌegaÌ. The Soviet state has
severedthiscommunicationbetweenmoneyandpower.Itreserves
power for the Party, and Ìeave money to the NLP man. In the
eyes ofany Partyfunctionary, even the highest, toput something
1
9
4
aside, to secure the 'future', even ifonÌy 'for the chiÌdren', is
quiteunthinkabÌe.ToitsmembentheCommunistPartyguarantees
the bare minimum for materiaÌ existence÷it does m practicaÌÌy,
without actuaÌ obÌigation. Òn the other hand, it controIs their
furtherearningsand setsanupper Ìimitoftwohundred and hfty
rubÌes on their monthÌy income. This can be increased soÌeÌy
through Ìiterary activity aÌongside one`s profession. To such
discipIine the Ìife of the ruÌing cÌaæ is subjected. However, the
powerofthe ruÌing authoritieis by no means identicaÌ with their
possessions. Russia is today notonÌya cÌaæ butaÌsoa caste state.
Caste state÷that means that the sociaÌ status of a citizen is
determined notbythevisibÌe exteriorofhisexistence÷hiscÌothes
orÌiving pÌace÷butexcÌusiveÌy byhisreÌationstothe Party. This
isaÌsodecisive for thosewhodo notdirectÌybeÌongtoit.To them,
too,jobsareopento theextentthattheydo notovertÌyrepudiate
the regime. Between them, too, the most precise distinctions are
made. But however exaggerated÷or obsoÌete÷the Luropean
conception ofthe omciaÌsuppression ofnonconformists in Russia
may on the one hand be, on the other, no one Ìiving abroad has
any idea ofthe terribÌe sociaÌ ostracism to which the NLP man
is here subjected. The siÌence, the mistrust, perceptibÌe not onÌy
between strangers, couÌd not otherwise b expÌained. !fyou ask a
superhciaÌ acquaintance here about his impressions of however
unimportant apÌay, howevertriviaÌ a hÌm, you may expect stock
phrasesinrepÌy.'Wesayhere. . . "or'TheconvictionisprevaÌent
here» » « " A judgmentis weighedinnumerabÌe times before being
uttered to more distant contacts. For at any time the Party can
casuaÌÌy, unobtrusiveÌy changeits Ìine in Pravda, and no one Ìikes
to see himseÌfdisavowed. Because a reÌiabÌe poÌiticaÌ outÌook, if
not theonÌy good, is for most peopÌe the onÌy guarantee ofother
goods,everyoneuseshisnameand hisvoiceb cautiousÌythatthe
citizen with a democratic tum of mind cannot understand him.
Two cÌose acquaintances are havingaconversation. !n the course
ofitoneofthemsays . 'ThatfeÌÌow MikhaiÌovichwæ inmyomce
yesterday Ìooking for a job. He said he knew you. " 'He is an
exceÌÌentcomrade,punctuaÌandhard-working. " They change the
Moscow 19
5
subject. But as they part the hrst says, 'WouÌd you b kind
enough to give mea fewwordson that MikhaiÌovich in writing?'
CÌass ruÌe had adopted symboÌs that serve to characterize the
opposingcÌass.AndofthemjazzisperhapthemostpopuÌar.That
peopÌe aÌso enjoy Ìistening to it in Russia is not surprising. But
dancingto it isforbidden. ItiskeptbehindgÌass, as itwere, Ìikea
|rightÌy coÌoured, poisonous reptiÌe, and m appean as an attrac-
tion in revues. YetaÌwaysa symboÌ ofthe 'bourgeois'. It is one
ofthecrude stageseuwith the aid ofwhich, forpropagandapur-
poses, a grotesque image ofthe bourgeois type is constructed. In
reaÌity the image is oIten mereÌy ridicuÌous, the discipÌine and
competence ofthe adversary being overÌooked. In this distorted
view of the bourgeois a nationaÌistic moment is present. Russia
was the possession ofthe tsar ¸indeed, anyone waÌking past the
endÌessÌypiÌed-upvaÌuabÌesintheKremÌincoÌÌections is tempted
to say,
-
Ü possession') . The peopÌe, however, have becomeover-
night his immeasurabÌyweaÌthy heirs. They now set about draw-
ing up a grand inventory oftheir human and territoriaÌ weaÌth.
Andtheyundertakethisworkintheconsciousneæof havingaÌready
performed unimaginabÌy dimcuÌt tasks, and buiÌt up, against the
hostiÌityofhaÌftheworÌd, thenewsystemofpower. Inadmiration
for this nationaÌ achievement aÌÌ Russians are united. It is this
reversaÌ ofthe power structure that make Ìife heresoheavywith
content. Itis æ compÌeteinitseÌfand rich in events, as poor, and
inthe same breath æfuÌÌ ofprospects, æagoÌd digger's Ìifeon the
KÌondike. From earÌy tiÌÌ Ìate peopÌe dig for power. AÌÌ the com-
binations ofour Ìeading hgure are meagre in comp�rison to the
countÌeæ consteÌÌations that here confront the individuaÌ in the
course ofa month. True, a certainintoxication can resuÌt, M that
a Ìife without meetings and committees, debates, resoÌutions, and
votes ¸and aÌÌthesearewarsor atÌeastmanoeuvres ofthewiÌÌto
power) cannoÌongerbimagined. Whatdoeitmatter÷Russia's
nextgenerationwiÌÌb adj usted to thisexistence. Its heaÌth, how-
ever, is subject to one indispensabÌe condition. that never ¸as one
dayhappenedeventotheChurch) shouÌdabÌack marketofpower
beopened. ShouÌd the Luropean correÌationofpower and money
penetrate Russia, too, then perhap not the country, perhap not
even the Party, but Communism in Russia wouÌd b Ìost. People
here have not yet deveÌoped Luropean consumer concepts and
consumer needs. The reasom for this are above aÌÌ economic.
Yet it is possibÌe that in addition an astute Party stratagem is
invoÌved. to equaÌ the ÌeveÌ ofconsumption in Westen Lurope,
the trial by hre of the BoÌshevik bureaucracy, at a freeÌy chosen
moment, steeÌedandwiththeabsoÌutecertaintyofvictory.
t g
Inthe RedArmy CÌubat the KremÌin,amapofLurophangson
the waÌÌ. Beside it is a handÌe. When this handÌe is turned, the
foÌÌowingisseen.oneaItertheother,ataÌÌthepÌacethroughwhich
Lenin passed in the course ofhis Ìife, ÌittÌe eÌectric Ìights ßash. At
Simbirsk, where he wæ born, at Kazan, Petersburg, Oeneva,
Paris, Cracow, Zurich, Moscow, up to the pÌace of his death,
Oorki. Òther townsarenot marked. Thecontoursofthis wooden
reÌiefmap are rectiÌinear, anguÌar, schematic. Òn it Lenin's Ìife
resembÌe a campaignofcoÌoniaÌ conquest acroæ Lurope. Russia
isbeginningtotakeshapefor themanofthepeopÌe. Ònthestreet,
the snow, Ìie map ofthe SFSR*, piÌed up bystreet vendors who
oßer them for saÌe. MeyerhoÌd use a map in D. E. (Here with
Europe !) ÷on it the West is a compÌicated system of ÌittÌe Russian
peninsuÌas.ThemapisaÌmostascÌosetobecomingthecentreofthe
new Russian iconic cuÌt as Lenin's portrait. Quite certainÌy the
strong nationaÌ feeÌing that BoÌshevism has given aÌÌ Russians
without distinction hæ conferred a new reaÌity on the map of
Lurope. Theywant tomeasure, compare, and perhapenjoythat
intoxication with grandeurwhich is induced by the mere sight of
Russia, citizens can onÌy b urgentÌy advised to Ìook at their
country on the mapofneighbouringstates, tostudy Oermany on
a map ofPoÌand, France, or even Denmark, but aÌÌ Luropeans
ought tosee, on amapofRussia, their ÌittÌe Ìand as afrayed, ner-
vous territoryfar out tothe west.
¯ Soviet Federated Socialist Republic [NLB].
Moscow 197
i ¡
What hgurc doe thc man of Ìcttcn cut M a country whcrc his
cmpÌoycris thc proÌctariat? Thc thcorcticiansofBoÌshcvism strcss
how widcÌy thc situation of thc proÌctariat in Russia aItcr this
succcssfuI rcvoÌution dißcrs from that ofthc bourgcoisic in i ;8g.
At that timc thc victorious cÌass, bcforc it attaincd powcr, had
sccurcd for itscÌfin struggÌcs Ìasting dccadcs thc controÌ of thc
cuÌturaÌ apparatus. IntcÌÌcctuaÌorganization,cducation, hadÌong
bccn pcrvadcd by thc idcas ofthc third cstatc, and thc mcntaÌ
struggÌc for cmancipation was fought out bcforc thc poÌiticaÌ. In
prcscnt-day Russiait is quitcdißcrcnt. FormiÌÌionsuponmiÌÌions
ofiÌÌitcratcs, thc foundationsofagcncraÌcducationhavcycttobc
Ìaid. Thisis anationaÌ, Russian task. Prc-rcvoÌutionary cducation
inRussiawas, howcvcr, cntircÌy unspccihc, Luropcan. Thc Luro-
pcan momcnt in highcr cducation, and thc nationaÌ on thc cÌc-
mcntary ÌcvcÌ, arc in Russia sccking an accommodation. That
is onc sidcofthc cducationaÌ qucstion. Òn thcothcrthcvictoryof
thc RcvoÌution has in many arcas acccÌcratcd thc proccæ of
Luropcanization. Thcrc arc writcrs Ìikc PiÌniak who scc in I
BoÌshcvism thc crowning of thc work of Pctcr thc Orcat. In thc
tcchnicaÌ arca this tcndcncy, dcqitc aÌÌ thc advcnture of its
carÌicstycars, is prcsumabÌy surc ofvictorysooncrorÌatcr. Notso
inthcintcÌÌcctuaÌandscicntihcarcas. Itisnow apparcntinRussia
that Luropcan vaÌue arc bcing popuÌarizcd injust thc distortcd,
dcsoÌating form that thcy owc hnaÌÌy to impcriaÌism. Thc sccond·
acadcmic thcatrc÷a statc-supportcd institution÷is putting on a
pcrformancc of thc Orestei in which a dusty antiquiíy struts
aboutthcstagcasuntruthfuÌÌyasinaOcrmanCourtthcatrc.And
as thc marbÌc-stißgcsturc is not onÌy corrupt in itscÌI, but aÌso a
copy ofCourt acting in rcvoÌutionary Moscow, it hasa stiÌÌ morc
mcÌanchoÌy cßcct than in Stuttgart or AnhaÌt. Thc Russian
Acadcmy ofScicncc hæfor its part madc a man Ìikc WaÌzcÌ÷an
avcragc spccimcn ofthc modcm acadcmic bel esprit-a mcmbcr.
ProbabÌy thc onÌy cuÌturaÌ conditions in thc Wcst for which
Russia Iias a ÌivcÌy cnough undcrstanding for disagrccmcnt with
it to b prohtabÌc, arc thosc of Amcrica. In contrast, cuÌturaÌ
rapprochemen æ such ¸without the foundation ofthe most concrete
economic and poÌiticaÌ community) is an interest of the pacihst
varietyofimperiaÌism, benehts onÌy gossiping busy-bodies, andis
for Russia a symptom ofrestoration. The countryis isoÌated from
the West Ìeæ by frontiers and censorship than by the intensity of
an existence that is beyond a|| comparison with the Luropean.
Statedmore preciseÌy. contact with theoutsideworÌd is through
the Party and primariÌy concerns poÌiticaÌ questions. The oÌd
bourgeoisiehæbeenannihiÌated,thenewis neither materiaÌÌynor
inteÌÌectuaÌÌy in a position to estabÌish externaÌ reÌations. !n-
doubtedÌy Russians know far Ìeæ about the outside worÌd than
foreignen ¸withthe possibÌe exception of the Romanticcountries)
knowaboutRussia. IfaninßuentiaÌRussianmentionsProustand
Bronnen in the same breath æ authors who take their subject
matter from the area ofsexuaÌ probÌems, this shows cÌearÌy the
foreshortenedperspectiveinwhich Luropean mattenappearfrom
here. But if one of Russia's Ìeading authors, in conversation,
quoteShakespeareasoneofthe greatpoetswhowrote beforethe
inventionofprinting,suchaÌackoftrainingcanonÌybeunderstood
from thecompÌeteÌy changed conditionsaßectingRussianwriting
asa whoÌe. These and dogmas that in Lurope÷admittedÌy onÌy
for the Ìast two centuries÷have been regarded æ aÌien to art and
beneath discussion by men ofÌetters are decisive in Ìiterary criti-
´ cism and production in the new Russia. Message and subject
matteraredecÌaredofprimaryimportance. FormaÌ controversies
stiÌÌ pÌayed a not inconsiderabÌe part at the time ofthe civiÌ war.
NowtheyhavefaÌÌensiÌent.TodayitisomciaÌdoctrinethatsubject
matter, not form, decide the revoÌutionary or counter-revoÌu-
tionary attitude ofa work. Such doctrine cut the ground from
underthewriter'sfeetjust æirrevocabÌyæ theeconomyhædone
on themateriaÌ pÌane. InthisRussiais aheadofWestemdeveÌop-
ments÷but not as far ahead æ is beÌieved. For sooner or Ìater,
with the middÌe cÌasse who are being ground to piece by the
struggÌe betwecn capitaÌ and Ìabour, the 'freeÌance" writer must
aÌso disappear. In Russia the proceæ is compÌete. the inteÌÌectuaÌ
isaboveaÌÌ a functionary, workingin the departments ofcensor-
Moscow 199
ship,justice, hnance, and, ifhe survives, participating in work÷
which, however, in Russia means power. He is a member ofthe
ruÌingcÌass. Òfhisvariousorganizationsthemostprominentis the
generaÌassociationofproÌetarianwritersinRussia. Itsupportsthe
notionofdictatorshipevenin theheÌdofinteÌÌectuaÌ creation. In
thisit takesaccountofRussianreaÌity. ThetransferofthementaÌ
means ofproduction into pubÌic ownership can be distinguished
onÌy hctitiousÌy from that ofthe materiaÌ means. Tobegin with,
the proÌetarian can be trained in the use ofboth onÌy under the
protectionofdictatorship.
t_
Now and again onecomes acroæ streetcars painted aÌlover with
pictures offactories, mass meetings, red regiments, Communist
agitators. These are gifts from the personneÌ ofa factory to the
Moscow Soviet. These vehicÌes carry the onÌy poÌiticaÌ posters
sti|| to b seeninMoscow, buttheyarebyfar themostinteresting.
For nowhere are more naïve commerciaÌ posters to be seen than
here. The wretched ÌeveÌ of pictoriaÌ advertising is the onÌy
simiÌarity between Paris and Moscow. CountÌeæ waÌÌs around
churches and monasteries oßer on aÌÌ sides the hnest surfaces for
posters. But the constructivists, suprematists, abstractivists who
under wartime Communism put theirgraphic propagandaat the
service ofthe RevoÌution have Ìong since been dismissed. Today
onÌy banaÌ cÌarity is demanded. Most ofthese posters repeÌ the
Westerner. But Moscow shops are inviting, they have something
ofthetavenabout them. TheshopsignspointatrightangÌeinto
the street, Ü otherwise onÌy oÌd inn signs do, or goÌden barbers'
basins, or a top hat before a hatter's. AÌso, the Ìast charming,
unspoiÌed motiß that remain are most ÌikeÌy to b |ound here.
Shoes faÌÌing outofa basket, a Pomeranian running away with a
sandaÌ in his mouth. Pendants before the entrance ofa Turkish
kitchen. gentÌemen, each with a fez adorning his head and each
at his own ÌittÌe tabÌe. Catering to a primitive taste, advertising
is stiÌÌ tied to narrative, exampÌe, or anecdote. In contrast, the ·
Westenadvertisementconvinceshrstandforemostbytheexpense
200
of which it shows the hrm capabÌe. Here aÌmost every ad aÌso
specihes the commodity in question. The grand, showy device is
aÌien to commerce. The city, M inventive in abbreviations ofaÌÌ
kinds, doe not yet possess the simpÌest÷brand names. ÒIìen
Moscow'seveningskygÌowsinfrighteningbÌue.onehasunwittingÌy
Ìookedatitthroughoneofthe giganticpairsofbÌuespectacÌethat
project from opticians' shop Ìike signposts. From the gateways,
on the frame of front doors, in bÌack, bÌue, yeÌÌow, and red
Ìettersofvaryingsizes÷æ anarrow, a pictureofbootsor freshÌy-
ironed washing, a won step or a soÌid staircase÷a siÌentÌy
determined, contentious Ìife accosts the passer-by. Òne must ride
through the streets on the streetcar to perceive how this struggÌe
is continued upward through the various stories, hnaÌÌy to reach
its decisive phase on the rooI That height onÌy the strongest,
youngestsÌogansandsigns attain. ÒnÌyfrom an airpÌane doesone
have aviewofthe industriaÌ cÌite ofthe city, the hÌm and auto-
mobiÌeindustries. MostÌy,however,therooßofMoscowareaÌife-
ÌeæwasteÌand, having neitherthe dazzÌing eÌectricsignsofBerÌin,
northeforest ofchimneys ofParis, nor the sunny soÌitude ofthe
rooIìopsofgreatcities in the South.
r 6
Anyone entering a Russian cÌassroom for the hrst time wiÌÌ stop
shortin surprise. ThewaÌÌsarecrammedwith pictures, drawings,
andpasteboardmodeÌs.TheyaretempÌewaÌÌstowhichthechiÌdren
daiÌy donate their own work æ gìfts to the coÌÌective. Red pre-
dominates, they are pervaded by Soviet embÌems and heads of
Lenin. Something simiÌar u to b seen in many cÌubs. WaÌÌ
newspapers are for grownups schemata of the same coÌÌective
formofexpression. Theycameintobeingunder thepressureofthe
civìÌ war, when in many pÌaces neither newspaper nor printing
inkwæ avaiÌabÌe. Todaytheyarean obÌigatorypartofthe pubÌic
Ìife offactories. LveryLenin niche hæ itswaÌÌnewspaper, which
varieitsstyÌeamongfactorieandauthors.TheonÌythingcommon
toaÌÌis thenaïvecheerfuÌness . coÌourfuÌ picturesinterspersedwith
proseandverses. Thenewspaperu the chronicÌeofthe coÌÌective.
Moscow 20]
It gives statistical reports but also jocular criticism of comrades
mingled with suggestions for improving the factory or appeals
for communal aid. Notices, warning signs, and didactic pictures
cover the walls of the Lenin niche elsewhere, too. Even inside a
factory everyone is as if surrounded by coloured poster all exor­
cising the terror of the machine. One worker is portrayed with his
arm forced between the spokes of a driving wheel, another, drunk,
causing an explosion with a short circuit, a third with his knee
caught between two pistons. In the lending room of the Red Army
bookshop hangs a notice, its short text clarified by many charming
drawings, showing how many ways there are of ruining a book. In
hundreds of thousands of copie a poster introducing the weights
and measures normal in Europ is disseminated throughout the
whole of Russia. Metres, litres, kilogrammes, etc., must be stuck
up in every pub. In the reading room of the peasant club on
Trubnaia Square the walls are covered with visual aids. The
village chronicle, agricultural development, production technique,
cultural institutions are graphically recorded in lines of develop­
ment, along with components of tools, machine parts, retorts
containing chemicals displayed everywhere on the walls. Out of
curiosity I went up to a shelffrom which two Negro face grimaced
at me. But a I came nearer, they turned out to b gas masks.
Earlier, the building occupied by this club wa one of the leading
restaurants in Moscow. The erstwhile separees are today bedrooms
for the peasants of both sexe who have received a komandirovka to
visit the city. There they are conducted through collections and
barracks, and attend course and educational evenings. From time
to time there is also pedagogical theatre in the form of "legal
proceedings". About three hundred people, sitting and standing,
fill the red-draped room to it farthest corners. In a niche a bust of
Lenin. The proceedings take place on a stage in front of which,
on the right and the left, painted proletarian types-a peasant
and an industrial worker-symbolize the smychka, the clasping
together of town and country. The hearing of evidence has j ust
finished, an expert is called on to speak. He and his assistant have
one table, opposite him is the table of the defence, both facing
202
sideways to the public. In the background, frontally, the judge's
table. Before it, dressed in black, with a thick branch in her hand,
sits the defendant, a peasant woman. She is accused of medical
incompetence with fatal results. Through incorrect treatment she
caused the death of a woman in childbirth. The argumentation
now circles around this case in monotonous, simple trains of
thought. The expert gives his report : to blame for the mother's
death was the incorrect treatment. The defence counsel, however,
pleads against harshness ; in the country there is a lack of sanitary
aid and hygenic instruction. The fnal word of the defendant :
nichevo, people have always died in childbirth. The prosecution
demands the death penalty. Then the presiding judge turns to the
assembly: Are there any questions? But only a Komsomol appears
on the stage, to demand severe punishment. The court retires to
deliberate. After a short pause comes the judgment, for which
everyone stands up: two years' imprisonment with recognition
of mitigating circumstances. Solitary confnement is thus ruled out.
In conclusion, the president points to the necessity of establishing
centres of hygiene and instruction in rural areas. Such demonstra­
tions are carefully prepared; there can be no question of im­
provisation. For mobilizing the public on questions of Bolshevik
morality in accordance with Party wishes there can b no more
efective means. On one occasion, alcoholism will be disposed of in
this way, on others fraud, prostitution, hooliganism. The austere
forms of such educational work are entirely appropriate to Soviet
life, being precipitates of an existence that requires that a stand be
taken a hundred times each day.
1
7
In the streets of Moscow there is a cunous state of afairs : the
Russian village is playing hide-and-seek in them. If you step
through one of the high gateways-they often have wrought­
iron gates, but I never found them closed-you stand on the
threshold of a spacious settlement. Opening before you, broad
and expansive, is a farmyard or a village, the ground is uneven,
children ride about in sleighs, sheds for wood and tools fll the
Moscow 203
corners, trees stand here and there, wooden staircases give the
backs of houses, which look like city buildings from the front, the
appearance of Russian farmhouses. Frequently churches stand in
these yards, just as on a large village green. So the street i augmen­
ted by the dimension of landscape. Nor i there any Western city
that, in its vast squares, looks so rurally formless and perpetually
sodden from bad weather, thawing snow or rain. Scarcely one of
these broad spaces bears a monument. (In contrast, there is
hardly one in Europe whose secret structure was not profaned and
destroyed by a monument in the nineteenth century. ) Like every
other city, Moscow builds up with names a little world within
itself There is a casino called Alcazar, a hotel named Liverpool, a
Tirol boardinghouse. From there it still takes half an hour to reach
the centres of urban winter sport. True, skaters and skiers are
encountered throughout the city, but the toboggan track is
closer to the centre. There sleighs of the most diverse construction
are used: from a board that runs at the front on sleigh rails and
at the back drags in the snow, to the most comfortable bobsleds.
Nowhere does Moscow look like the city itself; at the most it
resembles its outskirts. The wet ground, the wooden booths, long
convoys carrying raw materials, cattle being driven to the
slaughterhouse, and indigent taverns are found in the busiest
parts. The city is still interspersed with little wooden buildings in
exactly the same Slavonic style as those found everywhere in the
surroundings of Berlin. What looks so desolate in Brandenburg
stone attracts here with the lovely colour of warm wood. In the
suburban streets leading of the broad avenues, peasant huts
alternate with art nouveau villas or with the sober fa\ades of eight­
story blocks. Snow lies deep, and if all of a sudden silence falls, one
can believe oneself in a village in midwinter, deep in the Russian
interior. Nostalgia for Moscow is engendered not only by the snow,
with its starry lustre by night and it fowerlike crystals by day, but
also by the sky. For between low roof the horizon of the broad
plains is constantly entering the city. Only toward evening doe it
become invisible. But then the shortage of housing in Moscow
produces its most astonishing efect. If you wander the streets in
204
the dusk you see in the large and small house almost every window
brightly lit. If the light coming from them were not so unsteady,
you would believe you had a festive illumination before your eyes.
1 8
The churches are almost mute. The city is a good as free of the
chimes that on Sundays spread such deep melancholy over our
cities. But there is still perhaps not a single spot in Moscow from
which at least on church is not visible. More exactly: at which one
is not watched by at least on church. The subject of the tsar was
surrounded in this city by more than four hundred chapels and
churches, which is to say by two thousand domes, which hide in
the corners everywhere, cover one another, spy over walls. An
architectural okhran was around him. All these churche preserve
their incognito. Nowhere do high tower jut into the sky. Only
with time does one become accustomed to putting together the
long walls and crowds of low domes into complexes of monastery
churches. It then also becomes clear why in many places Moscow
looks as tightly sealed a a fortress. The monasteries still bear
traces today of their old defensive purpose. Here Byzantium with
its thousand dome is not the wonder that the European dreams it
to be. Most of the churche are built on an insipid, sickly-sweet
pattern: their blue, green, and golden dome are a candied Orient.
If you enter one of these churche you frst fnd a spacious ante­
room with a few sparse portraits of saints. It is gloomy, the half­
light lending itself to conspiracy. In such rooms one can discuss
the most dubious business, even pogroms if the occasion demands.
Adjoining the anteroom is the only room for worship. In the back­
ground it had a few small steps leading t a narrow, low platform
along which one advance past pictures of saints to the iconostasis.
At short intervals, altar succeeds altar, a glimmering red light
denoting each. The side walls are occupied by large pictures of
saints. All parts of the wall that are not thus covered with pictures
are lined with shining gold-coloured tin plate. From the trashily
painted ceiling hangs a crystal chandelier. Nevertheles the room
is always lit only by candles, a drawing room with sanctifed
Moscow 205
walls against which the ceremony unrolls. The large pictures are
greeted by making the sign of the cros and kneeling down to
touch the ground with the forehead; then, with renewed signs ofthe
cross, the worshipper, praying or doing penance, goes on to the
next. Before small, glass-covered pictures lying in rows or singly
on desks the genuflection is omitted. One bends over them and
kisses the glass. On such desks, beside the most precious old icons,
series of the gaudiest oil paintings are displayed. Many pictures
of saints have taken up positions outside on the fa<ade and look
down from the highest cornices under the tinny eave like birds
sheltering there. From their inclined, retort-shaped heads afic­
tion speaks. Byzantium seems to have no church-window form of
its own. A magical but uncanny impression: the profane, drab
windows looking out onto the street from the assembly rooms and
towers of the church as if from a living room. Behind them the
Orthodox priest is ensconced like the Buddhist monk in his pagoda.
The lower part of the Basilius Cathedral might be the ground foor
ofa fne boyar house. However, if you enter Red Square from the
west, its domes gradually rise into the sky like a pack offiery suns.
This building always holds something back, and could only be
surprised by a gaze coming from an airplane, against which the
builders forgot to take precautions. The inside has been not just
emptied but eviscerated like a shot deer. (And it could hardly have
turned out diferently, for even in 1 920 people still prayed here with
fanatical fervour.) With the removal of all the furniture, the
colourful vegetal convolutions that proliferate as murals in all
the corridors and vaults are hopelessly exposed, distorting with
a sad rococo playfulness the much older decoration that sparingly
preserves in the interior the memory of the colourful spirals of the
domes. The vaulted passageways are narrow, suddenly broadening
into altar niches or circular chapels into which so little light falls
from the high windows above that isolated devotional objects
that have been left standing are scarcely discernible. Many
churches remain as untended and as empty. But the glow that now
shine only occasionally from the altar into the snow ha been
well preserved in the wooden cities of booths. In their snow-covered,
206
narrow alleyways it is quiet. One hears only the soft jargon of the
Jewish clothiers in their stalls next to the junk of the paper dealer,
who, enthroned in concealment behind silver chains, has drawn
tinsel and cotton-wool-tufted Father Christmase across her face
like an oriental veil.
1 9
Even the most laborious Moscow weekday has two coordinates
that defne each of its moments sensuously as expectation and
fulflment. One is the vertical coordinate of mealtimes, crossed by
the evening horizontal of the theatre. One is never very far from
either. Moscow is crammed with pubs and theatres. Sentries
with sweets patrol the street, many of the large grocery stores do
not close until about eleven at night, and on the corners tearooms
and beerhouses open. Chainaia, pivnaia-but usually both are
painted on a background where a dull green from the upper edge
gradually and sullenly merges into a dirty yellow. Beer is served
with curious condiments : tiny pieces of dried white and black
bread baked over with a salt crust, and dried peas in salt water. In
certain taverns one can dine in this way and enjoy in addition a
primitive intsenirovka. This is the term for an epic or lyrical subject
that has been adapted for the theatre. It is often a folk song crudely
divided for a choir. In the orchestra of such folk music, alongside
accordions and violins, abacuses used as instruments are some­
times to be heard. (They can be found in every shop and ofce.
The smallest calculation is unthinkable without them. ) The
intoxicating warmth that overcomes the guest on entering these
taverns, on drinking the hot tea and enjoying the sharp zakuska,
is Moscow's most secret winter lust. Therefore no one knows the
city who has not known it in snow. Or each district must be visited
during the season in which its climatic extreme falls, for to this it is
primarily adapted, and it can b understood only through this
adaptation. In Moscow, life in winter is richer by a dimension.
Space literally changes according to whether it is hot or cold.
People live on the street as if in a frosty chamber of mirrors, each
pause to think is unbelievably difcult. It needs half a day's
Moscow 207
resolution even to mail an already addressed letter, and despite
the severe cold it is a feat of will power to go into a shop and buy
something. Yet when you have finally found a restaurant, no
matter what is put on the table-vodka (which is here spiced with
herbs) , cakes, or a cup of tea-warmth makes the passing time
itself an intoxicant. It fows into the weary guest like honey.
20
On the anniversary of Lenin's death many wear black arm bands.
For at least three days, fags throughout the city are at half-mast.
Many of the black-veiled pennants, however, once hanging, are
left out for a few weeks. Russia's mourning for a dead leader is
certainly not comparable to the attitudes adopted by other peoples
on such days. The generation that was active in the civil wars is
growing old in vitality if not in years. It is a if stabilization had
admitted to their lives the calm, sometimes even the apathy, that is
usually brought only by old age. The halt the Party one day called
to wartime Communism with the NEP had a terrible backlash,
which felled many of the movement's fighters. At that time many
returned their membership books to the Party. Cases are known
of such total demoralization that trusty pillars of the Party became
defrauders within a few weeks. The mourning for Lenin is, for
Bolsheviks, also mourning for heroic Communism. The few years
since its passing are for Russian consciousness a long time. Lenin's
activity so accelerated the course of events in his era that he
recedes swifly into the past, his image grows quickly remote.
Nevertheless, in the optic of history-opposite in this to that of
space-movement in the distance means enlargement. Today
other orders are in force than those of Lenin's time, admittedly
slogans that he himself suggested. Now it is made clear to every
Communist that the revolutionary work of this hour is not conflict,
not civil war, but canal construction, electrifcation, and factory
building. The revolutionary nature of true technology is em­
phasized ever more clearly. Like everything else, this (with
reason) is done in Lenin's name. His name grows and grows. It is
signifcant that the report of the English trade-union delegation, a
208
sober document sparing with prognoses, thought it worth men­
tioning the possibility "that, when the memory of Lenin has
found its place in history, this great Russian revolutionary
reformer will even be pronounced a saint." Even today the cult
of his picture has assumed immeasurable proportions. It hangs in
the vestibule of the armoury in the Kremlin, as in formerly godless
places the cross was erected by converted heathens. It is also
gradually establishing its canonical forms. The well-known picture
of the orator is the most common, yet another speaks perhaps more
intensely and directly: Lenin at a table bent over a copy of
Pravda. When he is thui immersed in an ephemeral newspaper, the
dialectical tension of his nature appears : his gaze turned, certainly,
to the far horizon, but the tireless care of his heart to the moment.
Marseilles
The street . . . the only valid feld of experience.
- Andre Breton
Marseilles-the yellow-studded maw of a seal with salt water
running out between the teeth. When this gullet opens to catch
the black and brown proletarian bodies thrown to it by ship's
companies according to their timetables, it exhales a stink of oil,
urine, and printer's ink. This come from the tartar baking hard
on the massive jaws : newspaper kiosks, lavatories, and oyster
stalls. The harbour people are a bacillus culture, the porters and
whores products of decomposition with a resemblance to human
beings. But the palate itself is pink, which is the colour of shame
here, of poverty. Hunchbacks wear it, and beggarwomen. And the
discoloured women of rue Bouterie are given their only tint by the
sole pieces of clothing they wear : pink shifs.
"Les bricks", the red-light district is called, after the barges
moored a hundred paces away at the jetty of the old harbour.
A vast agglomeration of steps, arches, bridges, turrets, and cellars.
It seems to be still awaiting its designated use, but it already has it.
For this depot of worn-out alleyways is the prostitutes' quarter.
Invisible lines divide the area up into sharp, angular territories
like African colonies. The whores are strategically placed, ready
at a sign to encircle hesitant visitors, and to bounce the reluctant
guest like a ball from one side of the street to the other. If he
forfeits nothing else in this game, it is his hat. Has anyone yet
probed deeply enough into this refuse heap of houses to reach the
innermost place in the gynaeceum, the chamber where the trophies
209
210
of manhood -boaters, bowlers, hunting hats, trilbies, jockey caps
-hang in rows on consoles or in layer on racks? From the in­
teriors of taverns the eye meets the sea. Thus the alleyway passes
between rows of innocent houses as if shielded by a bashful hand
from the harbour. On this bashful, dripping hand, however,
shine a signet ring on a fshwife's hard fnger, the old Hotel de
Ville. Here, two hundred years ago, stood patricians' houses. The
high-breasted nymphs, the snake-ringed Medusa's heads over their
weather-beaten doorframe have only now become unambiguously
the signs of a professional guild. Unless, that is, sign boards were
hung over them as the midwife Bianchamori has hung hers, on
which, leaning against a pillar, she turns a defant face to all the
brothel keeper of the quarter, and points unrufed to a sturdy baby
in the act of emerging from an egg.
Noises. High in the empty streets of the harbour district they are as
densely and loosely clustered as butterflie on a hot flower bed.
Every step stirs a song, a quarrel, a fl apping of wet linen, a rattling
of boards, a baby's bawling, a clatter of buckets. Only you have to
have strayed up here alone, if you are to pursue them with a net
as they flutter away unsteadily into the stillness. For in these
deserted corners all sounds and things still have their own silences,
just as, at midday in the mountains, there i a silence of hens, of
the axe of the cicadas. But the chase is dangerous, and the net is
fnally torn when, like a gigantic hornet, a grindstone impales it
from behind with its whizzing sting.
Notre Dame d la Garde. The hill from which she looks down is the
starry garment of the Mother of God, in to which the house of the
Cite Chabas snuggle. At night, the lamp in its velvet lining form
constellations that have not yet been named. It ha a zipper : the
cabin at the foot of the steel band of the rack railway is a jewel,
from the coloured bull's-eye of which the world shine back. A
disused fortres is her holy footstool, and about her neck i an oval
of waxen, glazed votive wreaths that look like relief profle of her
forebears. Little chains of streamers and sails are her earrings, and
Marseilles 21 1
from the shady lips of the crypt issues jewellery of ruby-red and
golden spheres on which swarms of pilgrims hang like fies.
Cathedral. On the least frequented, sunniest square stands the
cathedral. This place is deserted, despite the proximity at its feet
of La J oliette, the harbour, to the south, and a proletarian district
to the north. A a reloading point for intangible, unfathomable
goods, the bleak building stands between quay and warehouse.
Nearly forty year were spent on it. But when all wa complete, in
r893, place and time had conspired victoriously in this monument
against its architects and sponsors, and the wealth of the clergy
had given rise to a gigantic railway station that could never be
opened to trafc. The fa<ade gives an indication of the waiting
rooms within, where passenger of the first to fourth classes
(though before God they are all equal) , wedged among their
spiritual possessions as between cases, sit reading hymn-books that,
with their concordances and cross-references, look very much like
international timetables. Extracts from the railway trafc regu­
lations in the form of pastoral letters hang on the walls, tarifs for
the discount on special trips in Satan's luxury train are consulted,
and cabinets where the long-distance traveller can discreetly
wash are kept in readiness as confessionals. This is the Marseilles
religion station. Sleeping car to eternity depart from here at
Mass times.
Th light from greengrocerie that is in the paintings of Monticelli
comes from the inner streets of his city, the monotonous residential
quarters of the long-standing inhabitants, who know something of
the sadnes of Marseilles. For childhoo is the divining rod of
melancholy, and to know the mourning of such radiant, glorious
cities one must have been a child in them. The grey houses of the
Boulevard de Longchamps, the barred windows of the Cours
Puget, and the tree of the Allee de Meilhan give nothing away to
the traveller if chance does not lead him to the cubiculum of the
city, the Passage de Lorette, the narrow yard where, in the sleepy
presence of a few women and men, the whole world shrinks to a
212
single Sunday afternoon. A real-estate company has carved its
name on the gateway. Does not this interior correspond exactly
to the white mystery ship moored in the harbour, Nautique,
which never put to sea, but daily feeds foreigners at white tables
with dishes that are much to clean and as if surgically rinsed?
Shellfsh and oyste stalls. Unfathomable wetnes that swills from the
upper tier, in a dirty, cleansing floo over dirty planks and warty
mountains of pink shellfsh, bubbles between the thighs and bellies
of glazed Buddhas, past yellow dome oflemons, into the marshland
of cresses and through the woods of French pennants, fnally to
irrigate the palate as the best sauce for the quivering creatures.
Oursin d I' Estaque, Portugaises, Maremmes, Clovisses, Moules mari­
nieres-all this is incessantly sieved, grouped, counted, cracked
open, thrown away, prepared, tasted. And the slow, stupid agent of
inland trade, paper, has no place in the unfettered element, the
breaker of foaming lips that forever surge against the streaming
steps. But over there, on the other quay, stretches the mountain
range of "souvenirs", the mineral hereafter of sea shells. Seismic
forces have thrown up this massif of paste jewellery, shell limestone,
and enamel, where inkpots, steamers, anchors, mercury columns,
and sirens commingle. The pressure of a thousand atmospheres
under which this world of imagery writhes, rears, piles up, is the
same force that is tested in the hard hands of seamen, after long
voyages, on the thighs and breasts of women, and the lust that, on
the shell-covered caskets, presses from the mineral world a red or
blue velvet heart to be pierced with needle and brooches, is the
same that sends tremors through these streets oli paydays.
Walls. Admirable, the discipline to which they are subject II
this city. The better ones, in the centre, wear livery and are in the
pay of the ruling class. They are covered with gaudy patterns and
have sold their whole length many hundreds of time to the
latest brand of aperitif, to department stores, to the "Chocolat
Menier", or Dolore del Rio. In the poorer quarters they are
politically mobilized and post their spacious red letter a the fore-
Marseilles 213
runners of red guards in front of dockyards and arsenals.
Th down-and-out who, after nightfall, sells his books on the corner
of rue de la Republique and the Vieux Port, awakens bad instincts
in the passers-by. They feel tempted to make use of so much fresh
misery. And they long to learn more about such nameless mis­
fortune than the mere image of catastrophe that it presents to us.
For what extremity must have brought a man to tip such books as
he has left on the asphalt before him, and to hope that a passer-by
will be seized at this late hour by a desire to read? Or is it all quite
diferent ? And does a poor soul here keep vigil, mutely beseeching
us to lift the treasure from the ruins? We hasten by. But we shall
falter again at every corner, for everywhere the Souther peddler
has so pulled his beggar's coat around him that fate looks at us
from it with a thousand eyes. How far we are from the sad dignity
of our poor, the war-disabled of competition, on whom tags and
tins of boot blacking hang like braid and medals.
Suburbs. The farther we emerge from the inner city, the more
political the atmosphere becomes. We reach the docks, the inland
harbours, the warehouses, the quarter of poverty, the scattered
refugees of wretchedness : the outskirts. Outskirts are the state of
emergency of a city, the terrain on which incessantly rages the
great decisive battle between town and country. It is nowhere
more bitter than between Marseille and the Provencal landscape.
It is the hand-to-hand fght of telegraph poles against Agaves,
barbed wire against thorny palms, the miasmas of stinking
corridors against the damp gloom under the plane trees in brood­
ing squares, short-winded outside staircases against the mighty
hills. The long rue de Lyon is the powder conduit that Marseilles
ha dug in the landscap in order, in Saint-Lazare, Saint-Antoine,
Arenc, Septemes, to blow it up, burying it in the shell splinters
of every national and commercial language. Alimentation
Moderne, rue de Jamaique, Comptoir de la Limite, Savon Abat­
Jour, Minoterie de la Campagne, Bar du Gaz, Bar Facultatif­
and over all this the dust that here conglomerates out of sea salt,
21
4
chalk, and mica, and whose bitterness persists longer in the
mouths of those who have pitted themselves against the city than
the splendour of sun and sea in the eyes of its admirers.
Hashish in Marseilles
Prelimina
r
y remark: One of the frst signs that hashish i beginning
to take efect "i a dull feeling of foreboding; something strange,
ineluctable is approaching . . . images and chains of images, long­
submerged memorie appear, whole scenes and situations are
experienced; at frst they arouse interest, now and then enjoyment,
and fnally, when there is no turning away from them, weariness
and torment. By everything that happens, and by what he says
and does, the subject i surprised and overwhelmed. His laughter,
all his utterances happen to him like outward events. He also
attains experiences that approach inspiration, illumination . . . .
Space can expand, the ground tilt steeply, atmospheric sensations
occur: vapour, an opaque heavines of the air; colours grow
brighter, more luminous ; objects more beautiful, or else lumpy and
threatening . . . . All this does not occur in a continuous develop­
ment ; rather, it is typified by a continual alternation of dreaming
and waking states, a constant and fnally exhausting oscillation
between totally diferent worlds of consciousness ; in the middle
ofa sentence these transitions can take place .. . . All this the subject
reports in a form that usually diverges very widely from the norm.
Connections become difcult to perceive, owing to the frequently
sudden rupture of all memory of past events, thought is not formed
into words, the situation can become so compulsively hilarious that
the hashish eater for minute on end i capable of nothing except
laughing . . . . The memory of the intoxication is surprisingly clear."
"It is curious that hashish poisoning has not yet been experimen-
215
216
tally studied. The most admirable description of the hashish
trance is by Baudelaire (Les paradis articiels)." From Joel and
Frankel, "Der Haschisch-Rausch", Klinische Wochenschrit, I926,
vol. 5, p. 37·
Marseilles, July 29. At seven o' clock in the evening, after long
hesitation, I took hashish. During the day I had been in Aix.
With the absolute certainty, in this city of hundreds of thousands
where no one knows me, of not being disturbed, I lie on the bed.
And yet I am disturbed, by a little child crying. I think three­
quarters of an hour have already passed. But it is only twenty
minutes . . . . So I lie on the bed, reading and smoking. Opposite
me always this view of the belly of Marseilles. The street I have so
often seen is like a knife cu t.
At last I lef the hotel, the efects seeming non-existent or so
weak that the precaution of staying at home wa unnecessary. My
first port of call was the cafe on the corner of the Cannebiere and
Cours Belsunce. Seen from the harbour, the one on the right,
therefore not my usual cafe. What now? Only a certain bene­
volence, the expectation of being received kindly by people. The
feeling of lonelines i very quickly lost. My walking stick begins
to give me a special pleasure. One become so tender, fear that a
shadow falling on the paper might hurt it. The nausea disappears.
One reads the notices on the urinals. It would not surprise me if
this or that person came up to me. But when no one doe I am not
disappointed, either. However, it i to noisy for me here.
Now the hashish eater's demands on time and space come into
force. A is known, these are absolutely regal. Versailles, for one
who has taken hashish, is not to large, or eternity to long. Against
the background of these immense dimensions of inner experience,
of absolute duration and immeasurable space, a wonderful,
beatific humour dwells all the more fondly on the contingencies
of the world of space and time. I feel this humour infnitely when I
am told at the Restaurant Basso that the hot kitchen ha just been
closed, while I have just sat down to feast into eternity. Afterward,
despite this, the feeling that all this i indeed bright, frequented,
Hashish in Marseilles 217
animated, and will remain so. I must note how I found my seat.
What mattered to me was the view of the old port that one got
from the upper floors. Walking past below, I had spied an empty
table on the balcony of the second story. Yet in the end I only
reached the first. Most of the window tables were occupied, s I
went up to a very large one that had just been vacated. A I was
sitting down, however, the disproportion of seating myself at so
large a table caused me such shame that I walked acros the entire
foor to the opposite end to sit at a smaller table that became visible
to me only as I reached it.
But the meal came later. First, the little bar on the harbour.
I was againjust on the point of retreating in confusion, for a concert,
indeed a bras band, seemed to be playing there. I only just managed
to explain to myself that it wa nothing more than the blaring of
car horns. On the way to the Vieux Port I already had this wonder­
ful lightness and sureness of step that transformed the stony,
unarticulated earth of the great sq uare that I wa crossing into the
surface of a country road along which I strode at night like an
energetic hiker. For at this time I was still avoiding the Canne­
biere, not yet quite sure of my regulatory functions. In that little
harbour bar the hashish then began to exert it canonical magic
with a primitive sharpnes that I had scarcely felt until then. For it
made me into a physiognomist, or at least a contemplator of
physiognomies, and I underwent something unique in my
experience : I positively fxed my gaze on the face that I had around
me, which were, in part, of remarkable coarsenes or ugliness.
Face that I would normally have avoided for a twofold reason: I
should neither have wished to attract their gaze nor endured their
brutality. It wa a very advanced post, this harbour tavern. ( I
believe i t was the farthest accessible to me without danger, a
circumstance I had gauged, in the trance, with the same accuracy
with which, when utterly weary, one is able to fll a glas exactly
to the brim without spilling a drop, a one can never do with sharp
senses. ) It wa still sufciently far from rue Bouterie, yet no
bourgeois sat there; at the most, beside the true port proletariat,
a few petty-bourgeois families from the neighbourhood. I now
218
/ suddenly understood how, to a painter-had it not happened to
Rembrandt and many others ?-uglines could appear as the true
reservoir of beauty, better than any treasure cask, a jagged
mountain with all the inner gold of beauty gleaming from the
wrinkles, glances, features. I especially remember a boundlessly
animal and vulgar male face in which the "line of renunciation"
struck me with sudden violence. It was above all men's face that
had begun to interest me. Now began the game, to be long
maintained, of recognizing someone I knew in every face ; often
I knew the name, often not ; the deception vanished as deceptions
vanish in dreams : not in shame and compromised, but peacefully
and amiably, like a being who has performed his service. Under
these circumstances there was no question of loneliness. Was I
my own company? Surely not so undisguisedly. I doubt whether
that would have made me s happy. More likely this : I became
my own skilful, fond, shameless procurer, gratifying myself with
the ambiguous assurance of one who knows from profound study
the wishes of his employer. Then it began to take half an eternity
until the waiter reappeared. Or, rather, I could not wait for him
to appear. I went into the bar-room and paid at the counter.
Whether tips are usual in such taverns I do not know. But under
other circumstance I should have given something in any case.
Under hashish yesterday, however, I was on the stingy side ; for
fear of attracting attention by extravagance, I succeeded in making
myself really conspicuous.
Similarly at -asso's. First I ordered a dozen oysters. The man
wanted me to order the next course at the same time. I named
some local dish. He came back with the news that none was left.
I then pointed to a place in the menu in the vicinity of this dish,
and was on the point of ordering each item, one after another,
but then the name of the one above it caught my attention, and
so on, until I fnally reached the top of the list. This was not just
from greed, however, but from an extreme politenes toward the
dishe that I did not wish to ofend by a refusal. In short, I came
to a stop at a pat d Lyon. Lion paste, I thought with a witty smile,
when it lay clean on a plate before me, and then, contemptuously :
Hashish in Marseilles 219
this tender rabbit or chicken meat-whatever it may be. To my
lionish hunger it would not have seemed inappropriate to satisfy
itself on a lion. Moreover, I had tacitly decided that as soon as I
had fnished at Basso's (it was about half past ten) I should go
elsewhere and dine a second time.
But frst, back to the walk to Basso's. I strolled along the quay
and read one after another the names of the boats tied up there.
A I did s an incomprehensible gaiety came over me, and I
smiled in tum at all the Christian names of France. The love
promised to these boats by their names seemed wonderfully
beautiful and touching to me. Only one of them, Aer I, which
reminded me of aerial warfare, I passed by without cordiality,
exactly as, in the bar that I had just left, my gaze had been obliged
to pas over certain excessively deformed countenances.
Upstairs at Basso's, when I looked down, the old game began
again. The square in front of the harbour was my palette, on which
imagination mixed the qualities of the place, trying them out now
this way, now that, without concer for the result, like a painter
daydreaming on his palette. I hesitated before taking wine. It was
a half bottle of Cassis. A piece of ice was floating in the glass. Yet
it went excellently with my drug. I had chosen my seat on account
of the open window, through which I could look down on the dark
square. And as I did so from time to time, I noticed that it had a
tendency to change with everyone who stepped onto it, a if it
formed a fgure about him that, clearly, had nothing to do with the
square a he saw it but, rather, with the view that the great
portrait painter of the seventeenth century, in accordance with
the character of the dignitary whom they placed before a colonnade
or a window, threw into a relief by this colonnade, this window.
Later I noted as I looked down, "From century to century things
grow more estranged. "
Here I must observe i n general : the solitude of such trances
has its dark side. To speak only of the physical aspect, there wa a
moment in the harbour taver when a violent pressure in the
diaphragm sought relief through humming. And there is no doubt
that truly beautiful, illuminating visions were not awakened. On
220
the other' hand, solitude works in these states as a filter. What one
write down the following day is more than an enumeration of
impressions; in the night the trance cuts itself of from everyday
reality with fine, prismatic edges; it forms a kind of fgure and is
more easily memorable. I should like to say: it shrinks and takes
on the form of a fower.
To begin to solve the riddle of the ecstasy of trance, one ought to
meditate on Ariadne's thread. What joy in the mere act of un­
rolling a ball of thread. And this joy is very deeply related to the
joy of trance, as to that of creation. We go forward; but in so doing
we not only discover the twists and turns of the cave, but also enjoy
this pleasure of discovery against the background of the other,
rhythmical blis of unwinding the thread. The certainty of unrolling
an artfully wound skein-is that not the joy of all productivity, at
least in prose? And under hashish we are enraptured prose-beings
in the highest power.
A deeply submerged feeling of happiness that came over me
afterward, on a square of the Cannebiere where rue Paradis
opens onto a park, is more difcult to recall than everything that
went before. Fortunately I find on my newspaper the sentence
"One should scoop samenes from reality with a spoon. " Several
weeks earlier I had noted another, by johannes V. jensen, which
appeared to say something similar : "Richard was a young man
with understanding for everything in the world that was of the
same kind." This sentence had pleased me very much. It enabled
me now to confrQnt the political, rational sense it had had for me
earlier with the individual magical meaning of my experience the
day before. Whereas jensen's sentence amounted, a I had
understood it, to saying that things are a we know them to be,
thoroughly mechanized and rationalized, the particular being
confined today solely to nuances, my new insight wa entirely
diferent. For I saw only nuances, yet these were the same. I
immersed myself in contemplation of the sidewalk before me,
which, through a kind of unguent with which I covered it, could
have been, precisely as these very stones, also the sidewalk of
Paris. One often speaks of stones instead of bread. These stones
Hashish in Marseilles 221
were the bread of my imagination, which was suddenly seized by a
ravenous hunger to taste what i the same in all place and
countries. And yet I thought with immense pride of sitting here in
Marseille in a hashish trance; of who else might b sharing my
intoxication this evening, how few. Of how I wa incapable of
fearing future misfortune, future solitude, for hashish would always
remain. The music from a nearby night-club that I had been
following played a part in this stage. G. rode past me in a cab.
It happened suddenly, exactly as, earlier, from the shadows of the
boat, U. had suddenly detached himself in the form of a harbour
loafer and pimp. But there were not only known faces. Here, while
I was in the state of deepest trance, two fgures�citizens, vagrants,
what do I know?�passed me as "Dante and Petrarch". "All men
are brothers. " So began a train of thought that I am no longer able
to pursue. But its last link was certainly much less banal than its
frst and led on perhap to images of animals.
"Barna be", read the sign on a streetcar that stopped briefy
at the square where I was sitting. And the sad confused story of
Barnabas seemed to me no bad destination for a streetcar going
into the outskirts of Marseilles. Something very beautiful was
going on around the door of the dance hall. Now and then a
Chinese in blue silk trouser and a glowing pink silk jacket stepped
outside. He was the doorman. Girls displayed themselve in the
doorway. My mood wa free of all desire. It was amusing to see a
young man with a girl in a white dress coming toward me and to be
immediately obliged to think: "She got away from him in there in
her shift, and now he i fetching her back. Well, well. " I felt
fattered by the thought of sitting here in a centre of dissipation,
and by "here" I did not mean the town but the little, not-very­
eventful spot where I found myself But event took place in such a
way that the appearance of things touched me with a magic wand,
and I sank into a dream of them. People and things behave at
such hours like thos little stage sets and people made of elder pith
in the glazed tin-foil box, which, when the glass is rubbed, are
electrifed and fall at every movement into the most unusual
relationships.
222
The music that meanwhile kept rising and falling, I called the
rush switches of jazz. I have forgotten on what grounds I permitted
myself to mark the beat with my foot. This is against my education,
and it did not happen without inner disputation. There were
times when the intensity of acoustic impressions blotted out all
others. In the little bar, above all, everything wa suddenly
submerged in the noise of voices, not of streets. What was most
peculiar about this din of voices wa that it sounded entirely like
dialect. The people of Marseilles suddenly did not speak good
enough French for me. They were stuck at the level of dialect.
The phenomenon of alienation that may be involved in this,
which Kraus ha formulated in the fne dictum "The more closely
you look at a word the more distantly it looks back", appear to
extend to the optical. At any rate I fnd among my notes the
surprised comment "How things withstand the gaze. "
The trance abated when I crossed the Cannebiere and at last
turned the corner to have a fnal ice cream at the little Cafe des
Cours �elsunce. It was not far from the frst cafe of the evening,
in which, suddenly, the amorous joy dispensed by the contempla­
tion of some fringes blown by the wind had convinced me that the
hashish had begun its work. And when I recall this state I should
like to believe that hashish persuades nature to permit us�for
les egoistic purposes�that squandering of our own existence that
we know in love. For if, when we love, our existence runs through
nature's fngers like golden coins that she cannot hold and lets
fall to purchase new birth thereby, she now throws us, without
hoping or expecting anything, in ample handfuls to existence.
IV
Surrealism
The Last Snapshot of
the European Intelligentsia
Intellectual currents can generate a sufcient head of water for
the critic to install his power station on them. The necessary grad­
ient, in the case of Surrealism, is produced by the diference in
intellectual level between France and Germany. What sprang up
in 1919 in France in a small circle of literati -we shall give the
most important names at once : Andre Breton, Loui Aragon,
Philippe Soupault, Robert Desnos, Paul Eluard-may have been
a meagre stream, fed on the damp boredom of post-war Europe
and the last trickle of French decadence. The know-aIls who even
today have not advanced beyond the "authentic origins" of the
movement, and even now have nothing to say about it except that
yet another clique of literat is here mystifying the honourable
public, are a little like a gathering of experts at a spring who, after
lengthy deliberation, arrive at the conviction that this paltry
stream will never drive turbines.
The German observer is not standing at the head of the stream.
That is his opportunity. He is in the valley. He can gauge the
energies of the movement. A a German he is long acquainted
with the crisis of the intelligentsia, or, more precisely, with that of
the humanistic concept of freedom; and he knows how frantic is
the determination that ha awakened in the movement to go
beyond the stage of eternal discussion and, at any price, to reach a
decision; he has had direct experience of its highly exposed posi­
tion between an anarchisticfrond and a revolutionary discipline,
and s has no excuse for taking the movement for the "artistic",
225
"poetic" one it superfcially appears. If it wa such at the outset,
it was, however, precisely at the outset that Breton declared his
intention of breaking with a praxis that presents the public with the
literary precipitate of a certain form of existence while withholding
that existence itself Stated more briefly and dialectically, this
means that the sphere of poetry was here explored from within by a
closely knit circle of people pushing the "poetic life" to the utmost
limits of possibility. And they can b taken at their word when they
assert that Rimbaud's Saison e en]e no longer had any secrets for
them. For this book is indeed the frst document of the movement
(in recent times; earlier precursors will b discussed later) . Can
the point at issue be more definitively and incisively presented than
by Rimbaud himself in his personal copy of the book? In the
margin, beside the passage "on the silk of the seas and the arctic
fowers", he later wrote, "There's no such thing."
In just how inconspicuous and peripheral a substance the
dialectical kernel that later grew into Surrealism was originally
embedded, was shown by Aragon in 1 924-at a time when its
development could not yet be foreseen-in his Vagu d dves.
Today it can b foreseen. For there is no doubt that the heroic
phase, whose catalogue of heroes Aragon left us in that work, is
over. There is always, in such movements, a moment when the
original tension of the secret society must either explode in a matter­
of-fact, profane struggle for power and domination, or decay as a
public demonstration and be transformed. Surrealism is in this
phase of transformation at present. But at the time when it broke
over it founder as an inspiring dream wave, it seemed the most
integral, conclusive, absolute of movements. Everything with
which it came into contact wa integrated. Life only seemed worth
living where the threshold between waking and sleeping was worn
away in everyone as by the step of multitudinous images flooding
back and forth, language only seemed itself where sound and
image, image and sound interpenetrated with automatic precision
and such felicity that no chink was left for the penny-in-the-slot
called "meaning". Image and language take precedence. Saint­
Pol Roux, retiring to bed about daybreak, fixe a notice on his
Surrealism 227
door: "Poet at work." Breton notes : "Quietly. I want to pass
where no one yet has passed, quietly ! -After you, dearest language. "
Language take precedence.
Not only before meaning. Also before the sel£ In the world's
structure dream loosens individuality like a bad tooth. This
loosening of the self by intoxication is, at the same time, pre­
cisely the fruitful, living experience that allowed these people
to step outside the domain of intoxication. This is not the place to
give an exact definition of Surrealist experience. But anyone who
has perceived that the writings of this circle are not literature but
something else-demonstrations, watchwords, documents, blufs,
forgerie if you will, but at any rate not literature-will also know,
for the same reason, that the writings are concerned literally with
experiences, not with theorie and still less with phantasms. And
these experience are by no means limited to dreams, hours of
hashish eating, or opium smoking. It is a cardinal error to believe
that, of "Surrealist experiences", we know only the religious
ecstasie or the ecstasie of drugs. The opium of the people, Lenin
called religion, and brought the two things closer together than
the Surrealists could have liked. I shall refer later to the bitter,
passionate revolt against Catholicism in which Rimbaud, Lau­
treamont, and Apollinaire brought Surrealism into the world.
But the true, creative overcoming of religious illumination
certainly does not lie in narcotics. It reside in a profan illumination,
a materialistic, anthropological inspiration, to which hashish,
opium, or whatever else can give an introductory lesson. (But a
dangerous one; and the religious lesson is stricter.) This profane r
illumination did not always fnd the Surrealists equal to it, or to
themselves, and the very writings that proclaim it most powerfully,
Aragon's incomparable Paysan d Paris and Breton's Nara, show
very disturbing symptoms of defciency. For example, there is in
Nadja an excellent passage on the "delightful days spent looting
Paris under the sign of Sacco and Vanzetti" ; Breton adds the
assurance that in those days Boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle fulflled
the strategic promise of revolt that had always been implicit in its
name. But Madame Sacco also appears, not the wife of Fuller's
228
victim but a voyante, a fortune-teller who lives at 3 rue des Usines
and tells Paul Eluard that he can expect no good from Nadja.
Now I concede that the breakneck career of Surrealism over roof­
tops, lightning conductors, gutters, verandas, weathercocks,
stucco work-all ornaments are grist t the cat burglar's mill­
may have taken it als into the humid backroom of spiritualism.
But I am not pleased to hear it cautiously tapping on the window­
pane to inquire about its future. Who would not wish to see these
adoptive children of revolution most rigorously severed from
all the goings-on in the conventicle of down-at-heel dowagers,
retired majors, and emigre profteers ?
In other respects Breton's book illustrates well a number of the
basic characteristics of this "profane illumination". He calls
Nadja "a book with a banging door". ( In Moscow I lived in a
hotel in which almost all the rooms were occupied by Tibetan
lama who had come to Moscow for a congress of Buddhist church�s.
I was struck by the number of doors in the corridor that were
always left ajar. What had at frst seemed accidental began to be
disturbing. I found out that in these rooms lived member of a
sect who had swor never to occupy closed rooms. The shock I
had then must b felt by the reader of Nadja.) To live in a glass
house is a revolutionary virtue par excellence. It is als an intoxica­
tion, a moral exhibitionism, that we badly need. Discretion
concerning one's own existence, once an aristocratic virtue, has
become more and more an afair of petty-bourgeois parvenus.
Nadja ha achieved the true, creative synthesis between the art
novel and the roman-a-cle.
Moreover, one need only take love seriously to recognize in it,
too-a Nadja also indicates-a "profane illumination". "At just
that time" (i. e. , when he knew Nadja), the author tells us, "I
took a great interest in the epoch of Louis VII, because it was the
time of the 'courts of love', and I tried to picture with great inten­
sity how people saw life then." We have from a recent author
quite exact information on Proven<al love poetry, which comes
surprisingly clos t the Surrealist conception of love. "All the
poets of the 'new style' , " Erich Auerback points out in his excellent
Surrealism 229
Dante: Poet o the Secular World, "posses a mystical beloved, they all
have approximately the same very curious experience of love ; to
them all Amor bestows or withholds gifts that resemble an
illumination more than sensual pleasure; all are subject to a kind of
secret bond that determines their inner and perhaps also their
outer lives. " The dialectics of intoxication are indeed curious. Is
not perhap all ecstasy in one world humiliating sobriety in that
complementary to it? What i it that courtly Minne seeks-and it,
not love, binds Breton to the telepathic girl-if not to make chastity,
too, a transport? Into a world that border not only on tombs of
the Sacred Heart or altar to the Virgin, but also on the morning
before a battle or after a victory.
The lady, in esoteric love, matter least. So, too, for Breton.
He i closer to the things that Nadja is close to than to her. What are
these things? Nothing could reveal more about Surrealism than
their canon. Where shall I begin? He can boast an extraordinary
discovery. He was the frst to perceive the revolutionary energies
that appear in the "outmoded", i the first iron constructions, the
frst factory buildings, the earliest photos, the objects that have
begun to b extinct, grand pianos, the dresses of fve year ago,
fashionable restaurant when the vogue has begun to ebb from
them. The relation of these things to revolution-no one can have a
more exact concept of it than these authors. No one before these
visionaries and augurs perceived how destitution-not only social
but architectonic, the poverty of interiors, enslaved and enslaving
objects-can b suddenly transformed into revolutionary nihilism.
Leaving aside Aragon's Passage d l'Opera, Breton and Nadja are
the lovers who convert everything that we have experienced on
mournful railway journeys (railways are beginning to age) , on
Godforsaken Sunday afternoons in the proletarian quarter of the
great cities, in the first glance through the rain-blurred window of a
new apartment, into revolutionary experience, i not action. They
bring the immense force of "atmosphere" concealed in these
things to the point of explosion. What form do you suppose a life
would take that wa determined at a decisive moment precisely
by the street song last on everyone's lips ?
23°
The trick by which this world of things is mastered-it is more
proper to speak of a trick than a method-consists in the substitu­
tion of a political for a historical view of the past. "Open, graves,
you, the dead of the picture galleries, corpses behind screens, in
palaces, castles, and monasteries, here stands the fabulous keeper
of keys holding a bunch of the keys to all times, who knows where
to pres the most artful lock and invite you to step into the midst
of the world of today, to mingle with the bearer of burdens, the
mechanic whom money ennobles, to make yourself at home in
their automobiles, which are beautiful a armour from the age of
chivalry, to take your place in the international sleeping cars, and
to weld yourself to all the people who today are still proud of their
privileges. But civilization will give them short shrift. " This speech
wa attributed to Apollinaire by his friend Henri Hertz. Apollinaire
originated this technique. In his volume of novellas, L'hresiarque,
he used it with Machiavellian calculation to blow Catholicism ( to
which he inwardly clung) to smithereens.
At the centre of this world of things stands the most dreamed-of
of their objects, the city of Paris itsel£ But only revolt completely
expose its Surrealist face (deserted streets in which whistles and
shots dictate the outcome) . And no face is surrealistic in the same
degree a the true face of a city. No picture by de Chirico or Max
Ernst can match the sharp elevation of the city's inner strong­
holds, which one must overrun and occupy in order to master their
fate and, in their fate, in the fate of their masses, one's own.
Nadja is an exponent of these masse and of what inspire them to
revolution: "The great living, sonorous unconsciousnes that
inspires my only convincing acts, in the sense that I always want to
prove that it commands forever everything that is mine. " Here,
therefore, we find the catalogue of these fortifcations, from Place
Maubert, where as nowhere else dirt has retained all its symbolic
power, to the "Theatre Moderne", which I am inconsolable
not to have known. But in Breton's description of her bar on the
upper foor-"it is quite dark, with arbour like impenetrable
tunnels-a drawing room on the bottom of a lake" -there is
something that brings back to my memory that most uncompre-
Surrealism 231
hended room in the old Princes Cafe. It wa the back room on the
first floor, with couple in the blue light. We called it the "anatomy
school" ; it was the last restaurant designed for love. In such
passages in Breton, photography intervenes in a very strange way.
It makes the streets, gates, square of the city into illustrations of a
trashy novel, draws of the banal obviousnes of this ancient
architecture to inject it with the most pristine intensity toward
the event described, to which, a in old chambermaids' books,
word-for-word quotations with page numbers refer. And all the
parts of Paris that appear here are places where what is between
these people turn like a revolving door.
The Surrealists' Paris, too, is a "little universe". That is to say,
in the larger one, the cosmos, things look no diferent. There, too,
are crossroads where ghostly signals flash from the trafc, and
inconceivable analogies and connections between events are the
order of the day. It is the region from which the lyric poetry of
Surrealism reports. And this must b noted if only to counter the
obligatory misunderstanding of l'art pour l'art. For art's sake was
scarcely ever to b taken literally; it was almost always a fag
under which sailed a cargo that could not be declared because it
still lacked a name. This is the moment to embark on a work that
would illuminate a ha no other the crisis of the art that we are
witnessing: a history of esoteric poetry. Nor is it by any means
fortuitous that no such work yet exits. For written as it demands
to be written-that is, not as a collection to which particular
"specialists" all contribute "what is most worth knowing" from
their fields, but as the deeply grounded composition of an individual
who, from inner compulsion, portrays les a historical evolution
than a constantly renewed, primal upsurge of esoteric poetry­
written in such a way it would be one of those scholarly con­
fessions that can be counted in every century. The last page would
have to show an X-ray picture of Surrealism. Breton indicates
in his Introduction au discours sur Ie pe d realit how the philosophical
realism of the Middle Ages was the basis of poetic experience.
This realism, however-that is, the belief in a real, separate
existence of concepts whether outside or inside things-has always
232
very quickly crossed over from the logical realm of ideas to the
magical realm of words. And it is a magical experiments with
words, not as artistic dabbling, that we must understand the
passionate phonetic and graphical transformational game that
have run through the whole literature of the avant-garde for the
past ffteen years, whether it is called Futurism, Dadaism, or
Surrealism. How slogans, magic formulas, and concepts are here
intermingled is shown by the following words of Apollinaire's from
his last manifesto, L'esprit nouveau et le poetes. He says, in 1 9 1 8: "For
the speed and simplicity with which we have all become used to
referring by a single word to such complex entities a a crowd, a
nation, the universe, there is no modern equivalent in literature.
But today's writers fll this gap; their synthetic works create new
realities the plastic manifestations of which are just as complex as
those referred to by the words standing for collectives. " If however,
Apollinaire and Breton advance even more energetically in the
same direction and complete the linkage of Surrealism to the
outside world with the declaration, "The conquests of science rest
far more on a surrealistic than on a logical thinking" -if, in other
words, they make mystification, the culmination of which Breton
see in poetry (which is defensible), the foundation of scientifc and
technical development, too-then such integration is to im­
petuous. It is very instructive to compare the movement's over­
precipitate embrace of the uncomprehended miracle of machines
-"the old fable have for the most part been realized, now it is the
tum of poets to create new one that the inventors on their side
can then make real" (Apollinaire) -to compare these overheated
fantasies with the well-ventilated utopia of a Scheerbart.
"The thought of all human activity makes me laugh. " This
utterance of Aragon's shows very clearly the path Surrealism had
to follow from it origins to its politicization. In his excellent essay
"L revolution et les intellectuels", Pierre Naville, who originally
belonged t this group, rightly called this development dialectical.
In the transformation of a highly contemplative attitude into
revolutionary opposition, the hostility of the bourgeoisie toward
every manifestation of radical intellectual freedom played a
Surrealism 233
leading part. This hostility pushed Surrealism to the left. Political
events, above all the war in Morocco, accelerated this develop­
ment. With the manifesto "Intellectuals Against the Moroccan
War", which appeared in L' Humanit, a fundamentally diferent
platform was gained from that which was characterized by, for
example, the famous scandal at the Saint-Pol Roux banquet. At
that time, shortly after the war, when the Surrealists, who deemed
the celebration for a poet they worshipped compromised by the
presence of nationalistic elements, burst out with the cry "Long
live Germany", they remained within the boundaries of scandal,
toward which, a is known, the bourgeoisie is a thick-skinned
as it is sensitive to all action. There is remarkable agreement
between the ways in which, under such political auspices, Apolli­
naire and Aragon saw the future of the poet. The chapters
"Persecution" and "Murder" in Apollinaire's Poet assassini
contain the famous description ofa pogrom against poets. Publish­
ing house are stormed, books of poems thrown on the fre, poets
lynched. And the same scenes are taking place at the same time
all over the world. In Aragon, "Imagination", in anticipation of
such horrors, calls its company to a last crusade.
To understand such prophecies, and to assess strategically the
line arrived at by Surrealism, one must investigate the mode of
thought widespread among the so-called well-meaning left-wing
bourgeois intelligentsia. It manifests itself clearly enough in the
present Russian orientation of these circles. We are not of course
referring here to Beraud, who pioneered the lie about Russia, or
to Fabre-Luce, who trots behind him like a devoted donkey,
loaded with every kind of bourgeois ill-will. But how problematic
is even the typical mediating book by Duhamel. How difcult to
bear is the strained uprightness, the forced animation and sincerity
of the Protestant method, dictated by embarrassment and lin­
guistic ignorance, of placing things in some kind of symbolic
illumination. How revealing hi resume : "the true, deeper
revolution, which could in some sense transform the substance of
the Slavonic soul itself ha not yet taken place. " It is typical of
these left-wing French intellectuals-exactly as it is of their
23
4
Russian counterparts, too-that their posItIve function derives
entirely from a feeling of obligation, not to the Revolution, but to
traditional culture. Their collective achievement, as far as it is
positive, approximate conservation. But politically and econo­
mically they must always b considered a potential source of
sabotage.
Characteristic of this whole left-wing bourgeois position is its
irremediable coupling of idealistic morality with political practice.
Only in contrast to the helples compromise of "sentiment" are
certain central features of Surrealism, indeed of the Surrealist
tradition, to be understood. Little has happened s far to promote
this understanding. The seduction was to great to regard the
Satanism of a Rimbaud and a Lautreamont a a pendant to art
for art's sake in an inventory of snobbery. If however, one resolves
to open up this romantic dummy, one finds something usable
inside. One finds the cult of evil as a political device, however
romantic, to disinfct and isolate against all moralizing dilettan­
tism. Convinceq of this, and coming across the scenario of a
horror play by Breton that centres about a violation of children,
one might perhap g back a few decades. Between 1 865 and 1 875
a number of great anarchists, without knowing of one another,
worked on their infernal machines. And the astonishing thing is
that independently of one another they set its clock at exactly the
same hour, and forty year later in Wester Europe the writings of
Dostoyevsky, Rimbaud, and Lautreamont exploded at the same
time. One might, to b more exact, select from Dostoyevsky's
entire work the one episode that was actually not published until
about 1 9 1 5, "Stavrogin's Confession" from Th Possessed. This
chapter, which touche very closely on the third canto of the Chants
d MaLdoror, contains a justification of evil in which certain motifs
of Surrealism are more powerfully expressed than by any of its
present spokesmen. For Stavrogin is a Surrealist avant La Lettre. No
one else understood, a he did, how naive is the view of the
Philistines that goodness, for all the manly virtue of those who
practise it, is God-inspired; whereas evil stems entirely from our
spontaneity, and in it we are independent and self-sufcient beings.
Surrealis 235
No one else saw inspiration, a he did, in even the most ignoble
actions, and precisely in them. He considered vilenes itself as
something preformed, both in the course of the world and also in
ourselves, to which we are disposed if not called, a the bourgeois
idealist see virtue. Dostoyevsky's God created not only heaven
and earth and man and beast, but also baseness, vengeance,
cruelty. And here, too, he gave the devil no opportunity to meddle
in his handiwork. That is why all these vices have a pristine
vitality in his work; they are perhaps not "splendid", but eternally
new,
"
a on the frst day", separated by a infnity from the cliches
through which sin is perceived by the Philistine.
The pitch of tension that enabled the poets under discussion
to achieve at a distance their astonishing efects is documented
quite scurrilously in the letter Isidore Ducasse addressed to his
publisher on October 23, 1 869, in an attempt to make his poetry
look acceptable. He places himself in the line of descent from
Mickiewicz, Milton, Southey, Alfred de Musset, Baudelaire, and
says : "Of course, I somewhat swelled the note to bring something
new into this literature that, after all, only sings of despair in order
to depres the reader and thus make him long all the more intensely
for goodnes a a remedy. S that in the end one really sings only
of goodness, only the metho is more philosophical and less naIve
than that of the old school, of which only Victor Hugo and a few
other are still alive. " But if Lautreamont's erratic book has any
lineage at all, or, rather, can b assigned one, it is that ofinsurrec­
tion. Soupault's attempt, in his edition of the complete works in
1 927, to write a political curriculum vitae for Isidore Ducasse was
therefore a quite understandable and not unperceptive venture.
Unfortunately, there is no documentation for it, and that adduced
by Soupault rests on a confusion. On the other hand, and happily,
a similar attempt in the case of Rimbaud was successful, and it is
the achievement of Marcel Coulon to have defended the poet's
true image against the Catholic usurpation by Claudel and
Berrichon. Rimbaud is indeed a Catholic, but he is one, by his
own account, in the most wretched part of himself, which he does
not tire of denouncing and consigning to his own and everyone's
hatred, his own and everyone's contempt : the part that forces him
to confes that he does not understand revolt. But that is the
concession of a communard dissatisfed with his own contribution
who, by the time he turned his back on poetry, had long since-in
his earliest work-taken leave of religion. "Hatred, to you I have
entrusted my treasure", he write in the Saiso e enfer. This is
another dictum around which a poetic of Surrealism might
grow like a climbing plant, to sink its roots deeper than the theory
of "surprised" creation originated by Apollinaire, to the depth of
the insights of Poe.
Since Bakunin, Europ ha lacked a radical concept offreedom.
The Surrealists have one. They are the frst to liquidate the
sclerotic liberal-moral-humanistic ideal of freedom, because they
are convinced that "freedom, which on this earth can only be
bought with a thousand of the hardest sacrifces, must b enjoyed
unrestrictedly in its fullnes without any kind of pragmatic
calculation, a long a it lasts. " And this prove to them that
"mankind's strug
g
le for liberation in its simplest revolutionary
form (which, however, is liberation in every respect), remains the
only cause worth serving. " But are they successful in welding this
experience of freedom to the other revolutionary experience that
we have to acknowledge because it ha been ours, the constructive,
dictatorial side of revolution? In short, have they bound revolt to
revolution? How are we to imagine an existence oriented solely
toward Boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle, in rooms by L Corbusier and
Oud?
To win the energie of intoxication for the revolution-this
is the project about which Surrealism circles in all its books and
enterprises. This it may call its most particular task. For them it is
not enough that, a we know, an ecstatic component live in every
revolutionary act. This component is identical with the anarchic.
But to place the accent exclusively on it would b to subordinate
the methodical and disciplinary preparation for revolution entirely
to a praxis oscillating between ftnes exercises and celebration in
advance. Added to this is an inadequate, undialectical conception
of the natur of intoxication. The aesthetic of the painter, the poet,
Surrealism 237
e etat d surprise, of art as the reaction of one surprised, is enmeshed
in a number of pernicious romantic prejudices. Any serious explora­
tion of occult, surrealistic, phantasmagoric gifts and phenomena
presuppose a dialectical intertwinement to which a romantic
tum of mind is impervious. For histrionic or fanatical stress on the
mysterious side of the mysterious take us no further; we penetrate
the mystery only to the degree that we recognize it in the everyday
world, by virtue of a dialectical optic that perceive the everyday
a impenetrable, the impenetrable a everyday. The most passion­
ate investigation of telepathic phenomena, for example, will not
teach us half a much about reading (which is an eminently
telepathic process) , as the profane illumination of reading about
telepathic phenomena. And the most passionate investigation of the
hashish trance will not teach us half as much about thinking
(which is eminently narcotic), a the profane illumination of
thinking about the hashish trance. The reader, the thinker, the
loiterer, the janeur, are types of illuminat just as much a the
opium eater, the dreamer, the ecstatic. And more profane. Not to
mention that most terrible drug-ourselves-which we take in
solitude.
"To win the energies of intoxication for the revolution" -in
other words, poetic politics? "We have tried that beverage.
Anything, rather than that ! " Well, it will interest you all the more
how much an excursion into poetry clarife things. For what is the
programme of the bourgeois parties? A bad poem on springtime,
flled to bursting with metaphors. The socialist see that "fner
future of our children and grandchildren" in a condition in which
all act "as if they were angels", and everyone ha a much "as if
he were rich", and everyone live "a if he were free". Of angels,
wealth, freedom, not a trace. These are mere images. And the
stock imagery of these poets of the social-democratic associations?
Their gradu a parnassum? Optimism. A very diferent air is
breathed in the Naville essay that makes the "organization of
pessimism" the call of the hour. In the name of his literary friends
he deliver an ultimatum in face of which this unprincipled,
dilettantish optimism must unfailingly show it true colours :
where are the conditions for revolution? In the changing of atti­
tudes or of external circumstances? That is the cardinal question
that determine the relation of politic to morality and cannot b
glossed over. Surrealism has come ever closer to the Communist
answer. And that means pessimism all along the line. Absolutely.
Mistrust in the fate of literature, mistrust in the fate of freedom,
mistrust in the fate of European humanity, but three times mis­
trust in all reconciliation: between classes, between nations,
between individuals. And unlimited trust only in I. G. Farben and
the peaceful perfection of the air force. But what now, what next?
Here due weight must b given to the insight that in the Trait du
style, Aragon's last book, required in distinction between metaphor
and image, a happy insight into questions of style that needs
extending. Extension: nowhere do these two-metaphor and image
-collide s drastically and s irreconcilably as in politics. For to
organize pessimism means nothing other than to expel moral
metaphor from politic and to discover in political action a sphere
reserved one hundred percent for images. This image sphere,
however, can no longer b measure
d
out by contemplation. If it
is the double task of the revolutionary intelligentsia to overthrow
the intellectual predominance of the bourgeoisie and to make
contact with the proletarian masses, the intelligentsia has failed
almost entirely in the second part of this task because it can no
longer b performed contemplatively. And yet this has hindered
hardly anybody from approaching it again and again as if it
could, and calling for proletarian poets, thinkers, and artists. To
counter this, Trotsky had to point out-as early a Literature and
Revolution-that such artists would only emerge from a victorious
revolution. In reality it is far less a matter of making the artist of
bourgeois origin into a master of "proletarian art" than of
deploying him, even at the expense of his artistic activity, at
important point in this sphere of imagery. Indeed, might not
perhap the interruption of his "artistic career" b an essential
part of his new function?
The joke he tells are the better for it. And he tells them better.
For in the joke, too, in invective, in misunderstanding, i all cases
Surrealism 239
where a action puts forth its own image and exists, absorbing and
consuming it, where nearnes looks with it own eyes, the long­
sought image sphere is opened, the world of universal and integral
actualities, where the "best room" is missing-the sphere, in a
word, in which political materialism and physical nature share
the inner man, the psyche, the individual, or whatever else we wish
to throw to them, with dialectical justice, s that no limb remains
unrent. Nevertheless-indeed, precisely after such dialectical
annihilation-this will still b a sphere of images and, more
concretely, of bodies. For it must in the end be admitted: meta­
physical materialism, of the brand of Vogt and Bukharin, as is
attested by the experience of the Surrealists, and earlier of Hebel,
Georg Buchner, Nietzsche, and Rimbaud, cannot lead without
rupture to anthropological materialism. There is a residue. The
collective is a body, too. And the physis that is being organized for
it in technology can, through all its political and factual reality,
only b produced in that image sphere to which profane illumina­
tion initiate us. Only when in technology body and image so
interpenetrate that all revolutionary tension become bodily
collective innervation, and all the bodily innervations of the
collective become revolutionary discharge, has reality transcended
itself to the extent demanded by the Communist Maniesto. For the
moment, only the Surrealists have understoo its present com­
mands. They exchange, to a man, the play of human features for
the face of a alarm clock that in each minute rings for sixty
seconds.
The fog that surrounds the beginnings of photography is not as
thick as that which shrouds the early days of printing; more
obviously than in the case of the printing press, perhaps, the time
wa rip for the invention, and was sensed by more than one-by
men who strove independently for the same objective : to capture
the image in the camera obscura, which had been known at least
since Leonardo's time. When, after about fve year of efort, both
Niepce and Daguerre simultaneously succeeded in doing this, the
state, aided by the patent difculties encountered by the inventors,
assumed control of the enterprise and made it public, with com­
pensation to the pioneers. This paved the way for a rapid ongoing
development which long precluded any backward glance. Thus it is
that the historical or, if you like, philosophical questions suggested
by the rise and fall of photography have gone unheeded for decades.
And i people are starting to b aware of them today, there is a
definite reason for it. The latest writings on the subject point up the
fact that the fowering of photography-the work of Hill and
Cameron, Hugo and Nadar-came in its frst decade. But this was
the decade which preceded it industrialization. Not that hucksters
and charlatans did not appropriate the new technique for gain,
even in that early period; indeed, they did so e masse. But that was
closer to the arts of the fairground, where photography is at home
to this day, than to industry. I ndustry made its frst real inroads
with the visiting card picture, whos frst manufacturer signifcantly
became a millionaire. It wou Id not b surprising if the photographic
2
4
0
A Small History ofPhotography 241
methods which today, for the frst time, are harking back to the
pre-industrial heyday of photography had a underground con­
nection with the crisis of capitalist industry. But that does not make
it any easier to use the charm of old photographs, available in fne
recent publications,! for real insights into their nature. Attempts
at theoretical mastery of the subject have s far been entirely rudi­
mentary. And no matter how extensively it may have been debated
i the last century, basically the discussion never got away from the
ludicrous stereotyp which a chauvinistic rag, the Leipziger
Stadtanzeiger, felt it must ofer in timely opposition to this black art
from France. "To try to capture feeting mirror images", it said,
"is not just an impossible undertaking, a has been established
after thorough German investigation; the very wish to do such a
thing is blasphemous. Man is made in the image of God, and God's
image cannot b captured by any machine of human devising. The
utmost the artist may venture, borne on the wings of divine
inspiration, is to reproduce man's God-given feature without the
help of any machine, in the moment of highest dedication, at the
higher bidding of his genius. " Here we have the philistine notion
of ar in all it overweening obtuseness, a stranger to all technical
considerations, which feels that its end is nigh with the alarming
appearance of the new technology. Nevertheless, it was this
fetishistic and fundamentally anti-technical concept of art with
which the theoreticians of photography sought to grapple for
almost a hundred years, naturally without the smallest success. For
they undertook nothing les than to legitimize the photographer
before the very tribunal he wa in the process of overturning. Far
diferent is the tone of the addres which the physicist Arago,
speaking on behalf of Daguerre's invention, gave in the Chamber
of Deputie on 3 July 1 839. The beautiful thing about this speech
is the connections it make with all aspects of human activity. The
panorama it sketche i broad enough not only to make the dubious
1 Helmuth Bosser and Heinrich Guttmann, Aus der Frlhzeit de Photographie
1840-1870. Ein Bildbuch nach 200 Originalen. Frankfurt a. M. 1 930. Heinrich
Schwarz, David Octavius Hill, der Meister der Photographie. With 8 plates. Leipzig
1 931 .
project of authenticating photography in terms of painting-which
it doe anyway-seem beside the point ; more important, it ofers
an insight into the real scope of the invention. "When inventors of
a new instrument", says Arago, "apply it to the observation of
nature, what they expect of it always turns out to b a trife com­
pared with the succession of subsequent discoverie of which the
instrument was the origin. " In a great arc Arago's speech spans the
feld of new technologies, from astrophysic to philology: alongside
the prospect for stellar photography we find the idea of establish­
ing a photographic record of the Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Daguerre's photographs were iodized silver plate exposed in the
camera obscura, which had to be turned this way and that until, in
the proper light, a pale grey image could b discerned. They were
one of a kind; i 1 839 a plate cost an average of 25 gold francs.
They were not infrequently kept in a case, like jewellery. In the
hands of many a painter, though, they became a technical adjunct.
Just a 70 year later U trillo painted his fascinating views of Paris
not from life but from picture postcards, s did the highly regarded
English portrait painter David Octavius Hill base his fresco of the
first general synod of the Church of Scotland in 1 843 on a long
serie of portrait photographs. But these picture he took himself
And it is they, unpretentious makeshift meant for internal use,
that gave his name a place in history, while a a painter he is for­
gotten. Admittedly a number of his studie lead even deeper into
the new technology than this series of portraits : anonymous images,
not posed subjects. Such figure had long been known i painting.
Where the painting remained in the possession of a particular
family, now and then someone would ask after the originals. But
after two or three generations this interest fades ; the pictures, if
they last, do s only a testimony to the art of the painter. With
photography, however, we encounter something new and strange :
i Hill's Newhaven fshwife, her eyes cast down in such indolent,
seductive modesty, there remains something that goe beyond
testimony to the photographer's art, something that cannot be
silenced, that flls you with an unruly desire to know what her name
was, the woman who was alive there, who even now is still real and
A Small History ofPhotography 243
will never consent to b wholly absorbed in art. "And I ask: how
did the beauty of that hair, those eyes, beguile our forebears : how
did that mouth kiss, to which desire curls up senseles a smoke
without fre." Or you tur up the picture of Dauthendey the
photographer, the father of the poet, from the time of his engage­
ment to that woman whom he then found one day, shortly after the
birth of her sixth child, lying in the bedroom of his Moscow house
with her arterie severed. Here she can be seen with him, he seems
to b holding her; but her gaze passe him by, absorbed in an
ominous distance. Immerse yourself in such a picture long enough
and you will recognize how alive the contradictions are, here too:
the most precise technology can give its product a magical value,
such a a painted picture can never again have for us. No matter
how artful the photographer, no matter how carefully posed his
subject, the beholder feels an irresistible urge to search such a pic­
ture for the tiny spark of contingency, of the Here and Now, with
which reality ha so to speak seared the subject, to fnd the in­
conspicuous spot where in the immediacy of that long-forgotten
moment the future subsists so eloquently that we, looking back,
may rediscover it. For it is another nature that speaks to the
camera than to the eye: other in the sense that a space informed by
human consciousness give way to a space informed by the un­
conscious. Whereas it is a commonplace that, for example, we have
some idea what is involved in the act of walking, i only i general
terms, we have no idea at all what happens during the fraction of a
second when a person steps out. Photography, with its devices of
slow motion and enlargement, reveals the secret. It is through
photography that we frst discover the existence of this optical un­
conscious, just a we discover the instinctual unconscious through
psychoanalysis. Details of structure, cellular tissue, with which
technology and medicine are normally concerned-all this is in its
origins more native to the camera than the atmospheric landscape
or the soulful portrait. Yet at the same time photography reveals in
this material the physiognomic aspect of visual worlds which dwell
in the smallest things, meaningful yet covert enough to find a
hiding place in waking dreams, but which, enlarged and capable
244
offormulation, make the diference between technology and magic
visible a a thoroughly historical variable. Thus Blossfeldt with his
astonishing plant photographs2 reveals the forms of ancient
columns in horse willow, a bishop's crosier in the ostrich fern,
totem pole in tenfold enlargements of chestnut and maple shoots,
and gothic tracery in the fuller's thistle. Hill's subjects, too, were
probably not far from the truth when they described "the pheno­
menon of photography" as still being "a great and mysterious
experience" ; even if for them this was no more than the conscious­
nes of "standing before a device which in the briefest time could
produce a picture of the visible environment that seemed a real
and alive as nature itself". It has been said of Hill's camera that it
kept a discreet distance. But his subjects, for their part, are no less
reserved; they maintain a certain shynes before the camera, and
the watchword of a later photographer from the heyday of the art,
"Don't look at the camera", could b derived from their attitude.
But that did not mean the "they're looking at you" of animals,
people and babies, that so distastefully implicates the buyer and to
which there is no better counter than the way old Dauthendey talks
about daguerrotypes : "We didn't trust ourselve at frst", s he
reported, "to look long at the frst picture he developed. We were
abashed by the distinctness of these human images, and believed
that the little tiny faces in the picture could see us, s powerfully
wa everyone afected by the unaccustomed clarity and the un­
accustomed truth to nature of the first daguerrotypes".
The frst people to b reproduced entered the visual space of
photography with their innocence intact, un compromised by
captions. Newspapers were still a luxury item, which people seldom
bought, preferring to consult them in the cofee house; photography
had not yet become a journalistic tool, and ordinary people had yet
to see their name in print. The human countenance had a silence
about it in which the gaze rested. In short, the portraiture of this
perio owe its efect to the absence of contact between actuality
and photography. Many of Hill's portraits were made in the
2 Karl Blossfeldt, Uiformen de Kunst. Photographische Pfanzen hilder. Published
with an Introduction by Karl Nierendorf. 1 20 plates. Berlin 1 <31 .
A Small History o Photography 2
4
5
Edinburgh Greyfriars cemetery-nothing is more characteristic of
this early perio than the way his subjects were at home there. And
indeed the cemetery itself in one of Hill's pictures, looks like an
interior, a separate closed-of space where the gravestone propped
against gable walls rise up from the grass, hollowed out like
chimney-pieces, with inscriptions inside instead of fames. But this
setting could never have been so efective if it had not been chosen
on technical grounds. The low light-sensitivity of the early plates
made prolonged exposure outdoors a necessity. This in tum made
it desirable to take the subject to some out-of-the-way spot where
there was no obstacle to quiet concentration. "The expressive
coherence due to the length of time the subject had to remain still",
says Orlik of early photography, "is the main reason why these
photographs, apart from their simplicity, resemble well drawn or
painted picture and produce a more vivid and lasting impression
on the beholder than more recent photographs. " The procedure
itself caused the subject to focus his life in the moment rather than
hurrying on past it ; during the considerable period of the exposure,
the subject a it were grew into the picture, in the sharpest contrast
with appearance in a snap-shot-which is appropriate to that
changed environment where, a Kracauer ha aptly noted, the
split second of the exposure determines "whether a sportsman
become s famous that photographers start taking his picture for
the illustrated papers". Everything about these early pictures was
built to last ; not only the incomparable groups in which people
came together-and whose disappearance was surely one of the
most telling symptoms of what was happening in society in the
second half of the century-but the very creases in people's clothes
have a air of permanence. Just consider Schelling's coat; its
immortality, too, rests assured; the shape it has borrowed from its
wearer is not unworthy of the creases in his face. In short, every­
thing suggests that Bernhard von Brentano was right in his view
"that a photographer of 1 850 was on a par with his instrument"­
for the frst time, and for a long while the last.
To appreciate the full impact made by the daguerrotyp in the
age of its discovery, one should als bear in mind that entirely new
vista were then being opened up in landscape painting by the most
advanced painters. Conscious that in this very area photography
had to take over where painting left of, even Arago, in his historical
revie of the early attempts of Giovanni Battista Porta, explicitly
commented: "A regards the efect produced by the imperfect
transparency of our atmosphere (which has been loosely termed
'degradation' ), not even experienced painter expect the camera
obscura" -i. e. the copying of image appearing i it-"to help
them to render it accurately. " At the moment when Daguerre
succeeded i fxing the images of the camera obscura, the painters
parted company on this point with the technician. The real victim
of photography, however, was not landscap painting, but the
portrait miniature. Things developed so rapidly that by 1 84 most
of the innumerable miniaturist had already become professional
photographers, at frst only as a sideline, but before long exclu­
sively. Here the experience of their original livelihoo stoo them
i goo stead, and it is not their artistic background s much as
their training a craftsmen that we have to thank for the high level
of their photographic achievement. This transitional generation
disappeared ver gradually; indeed, there seem to have been a
kind of Biblical blessing on those frst photographers : the Nadars,
Stelzners, Piersons, Bayards all lived well into their eightie and
nineties. In the end, though, businessmen invaded professional
photography from every side, and when later on the retouched
negative, which was the bad painter's revenge on photography,
became ubiquitous, a sharp decline in taste set it. This wa the time
photograph albums came into vogue. They were most at home in
the chilliest spots, on occasional tables or little stands i the drawing
room: leather-bound tome with ugly metal hasps and those gilt­
edged page a thick a your fnger, where foolishly draped or
corsetted figure were displayed: Uncle Alex and Aunt Riekchen,
little Trudi when she was still a baby, Papa in his frst term at
university . . . and fnally, to make our shame complete, we our­
selves : a a parlour Tyrolean, yodelling, waving our hat against a
painted snowscape, or a a smartly turned-out sailor, standing leg
and trailing leg, a is proper, leaning against a polished door jamb.
A Small Histor ofPhotography 247
The accessone used in these portraits, the pedestals and balus­
trade and little oval tables, are still reminiscent of the period when
because of the long exposure time the subjects had to b given sup­
ports s that they wouldn't move. And ifat frst head-holders or knee­
braces were felt to b sufcient, further impedimenta were soon
added, such a were to be seen in famous paintings and must there­
fore b artistic. First it wa pillars, or curtains. The most capable
started resisting this nonsense as early as the sixties. A a English
trade journal of the time put it, "in painting the pillar ha some
plausibility, but the way it is used in photography is absurd, since
it usually stands on a carpet. But anyone can see that pillar of
marble or stone are not erected on a foundation of carpeting. " This
wa the perio of those studios, with their draperie and palm trees,
their tapestrie and easels, which occupied s ambiguous a place
between execution and representation, between torture chamber
and throne room, and to which an early portrait of Kafka bears
pathetic witness. There the boy stands, perhap six year old,
dressed up in a humiliatingly tight child's suit overloaded with
trimming, in a sort of conservatory landscape. The background is
thick with palm fronds. And a if to make these upholstered tropics
even stufer and more oppressive, the subject holds in his left hand
an inordinately large broad-brimmed hat, such as Spaniards wear.
He would surely b lost in this setting were it not for the immensely
sad eyes, which dominate this landscape predestined for them.
This picture in it infnite sadnes forms a pendant to the early
photographs in which people did not yet look out at the world in
s excluded and god-forsaken a manner a this boy. There was an
aura about them, an atmospheric medium, that lent fullnes and
security to their gaze even as it penetrated that medium. And once
again the technical equivalent is obvious ; it consists in the absolute
continuum from brightest light to darkest shadow. Here to we see
in operation the law that new advances are prefgured i older
techniques, for the earlier art of portrait painting had produced the
strange fower of the mezzotint before its disappearance. The
mezzotint proces was of course a technique of reproduction, which
wa only later combined with the new photographic reproduction.
The way light struggle out of darknes in the work of a Hill is
reminiscent of mezzotint : Orlik talks about the "coherent illumi­
nation" brought about by the long exposure times, which "gives
these early photographs their greatness". And among the inven­
tion's contemporaries, Delaroche already noted the "unpreceden­
ted and exquisite" general impression, "in which nothing disturbs
the tranquillity of the composition". So much for the technical
consideration behind the atmospheric appearances. Many group
photo in particular still preserve an air of animated conviviality
for a brief space on the plate, before being ruined by the print. It
wa this atmosphere that was sometimes captured with delicacy
and depth by the now old-fashioned oval frame. That is why it
would be a misreading of these incunabula of photography to
make to much of their artistic perection or their taste. These pictures
were made in rooms where every client was confronted, in the
photographer, with a technician of the latest school ; wherea the
photographer wa confronted, in every client, with a member of a
rising clas equipped with an aura that had seeped into the very
folds of the man's frock coat or foppy cravat. For that aura was
by no mean the mere product of a primitive camera. Rather, in
that early perio subject and technique were as exactly congruent
a they become incongruent in the perio of decline that im­
mediately followed. For soon advance in optic made instruments
available that put darkness entirely to fight and recorded appear­
ance a faithfully as any mirror. After 1 880, though, photographers
made it their business to simulate with all the arts of retouching,
especially the so-called rubber print, the aura which had been
banishe from the picture with the rout of darknes through faster
lenses, exactly a it was banished from reality by the deepening
degeneration of the imperialist bourgeoisie. Thus, especially in
Jugendstil, a penumbral tone, interrupted by artifcial highlights,
came into vogue; notwithstanding this fashionable twilight, how­
ever, a pose wa more and more clearly in evidence, whose rigidity
betrayed the impotence of that generation in the face of technical
progress.
And yet, what is again and again decisive for photography is the
A Small History ojPhotography 249
photographer's attitude to his techniques. Camille Recht has
found an apt metaphor : "The violinist", he says, "must frst pro­
duce the note, must seek it out, fnd it in an instant� the pianist
strike the key and the note rings out. The painter and the photo­
grapher both have an instrument at their disposal. Drawing and
colouring, for the painter, correspond to the violinist's production
of sound; the photographer, like the pianist, has the advantage of
a mechanical device that is subject to restrictive laws, while the
violinist is under no such restraint. No Paderewski will ever reap
the fame, ever cast the almost fabulous spell, that Paganini did."
There is, however-to continue the metaphor-a Busoni of
photography, and that is Atget. Both were virtuosi, but at the same
time precursors. The combination of unparalleled absorption in
their work and extreme precision is common to both. There was
even a facial resemblance. Atget was an actor who, disgusted with
the profession, wiped of the mask and then set about removing the
make-up from reality too. He lived in Paris poor and unknown,
selling his picture for a trife to photographic enthusiast scarcely
les eccentric than himself; he died recently, leaving behind an
oeuvre of more than 4,000 pictures. Berenice Abbot from New York
ha gathered these together, and a selection has just appeared in an
exceptionally beautiful volume published by Camille Recht.3 The
contemporary journals "knew nothing of the man who for the most
part hawked his picture round the studios, sold them of for next
to nothing, often for the price of one of those picture postcards
which, around 1 900, showed such pretty town views, bathed in
midnight blue, complete with touched-up moon. He reached the
pole of utmost mastery; but with the bitter master ofa great crafts­
man who always live in the shadows, he neglected to plant his fag
there. Therefore many are able to fatter themselve that they have
discover.ed the pole, when Atget was there before them." Indeed,
Atget's Paris photo are the forerunners of surrealist photography;
an advance party of the only really broad column surrealism
managed to set i motion. He was the first to disinfect the stifing
3 Eugene Atget Lichtbilder, Paris and Leipzig 1 93 1 .
250
atmosphere generated by conventional portrait photography in
the age of decline. He cleanses this atmosphere, indeed he dispels
it altogether: he initiates the emancipation of object from aura
which is the most signal achievement of the latest school of photo­
graphy. When avant-garde periodicals like Biur or Variet publish
picture captioned Westminster, Lille, Antwerp or Breslau but show­
ing only details, here a piece of balustrade, there a tree-top whose
bare branches criss-cross a gas lamp, or a gable wall, or a lamp-post
with a life-buoy bearing the name of the town-this is nothing but
a literary refnement of themes that Atget discovered. He looked
for what wa unremarked, forgotten, cast adrift, and thus such
picture to work against the exotic, romantically sonorous names
of the cities; they pump the aura out of reality like water from a
sinking ship. What is aura, actually? A strange weave of space and
time : the unique appearance or semblance of distance, no matter
how close the object may be. While resting on a summer's noon, to
trace a range of mountains on the horizon, or a branch that
throws it shadow on the observer, until the moment or the hour
become part of their appearance-that is what it means to breathe
the aura of those mountains, that branch. Now, t bring things
close t us, or rather to the masses, is just a passionate a inclina­
tion in our day a the overcoming of whatever is unique in every
situation by means of its reproduction. Every day the need to
posses the object in close-up in the form of a picture, or rather a
copy, become more imperative. And the diference between the
copy, which illustrated papers and newsreels keep in readiness, and
the picture is unmistakable. Uniqueness and duration are as
intimately conjoined in the latter a are transience and repro­
ducibility in the former. The stripping bare of the object, the
destruction of the aura, is the mark of a perception whose sense of
the samenes of things has grown to the point where even the
singular, the unique, is divested of its uniqueness-by means of its
\.eproduction. Atget almost always passed by the "great sights and
the so-called landmarks" ; what he did not pas by wa a long row
of boot lasts ; or the Paris courtyards, where from night to morning
the hand-carts stand in serried ranks ; or the tables after people
A Small Histor ojPhotograph 25 I
have fnished eating and left, the dishes not yet cleared away-as
they exist in their hundreds of thousands at the same hour; or the
brothel at Rue . . . No 5, whose street number appears, gigantic,
at four diferent places on the building's fa\ade. Remarkably,
however, almost all these picture are empty. Empty the Porte
d'Arceuil by the Fortifcations, empty the triumphal steps, empty
the courtyards, empty, a it should be, the Place du Tertre. The"y
are not lonely, merely without mood; the city in thes pictures
looks cleared out, like a lodging that has not yet found a new
tenant. It is in thes achievements that surrealist photography sets
the scene for a salutory estrangement between man and his sur­
roundings. It give free play to the politically educated eye, under
whose gaze all intimacies are sacrifced to the illumination of detail.
It is obvious that this new way of seeing stands to gain least in an
area where there wa the greatest self-indulgence: commercial
portrait photography. On the other hand, to do without people is
for photography the most impossible of renunciations. And anyone
who did not know it was taught by the best ofthe Russian flms that
milieu and landscape, too, reveal themselves most readily to those
photographers who succeed in capturing their anonymous
physiognomy, a it were presenting them at face value. Whether
this is possible, however, depends very much on the subject. The
generation that wa not obsessed with going down to posterity in
photographs, rather shyly drawing back into their private space in
the face of such proceedings-the way Schopenhauer withdrew
into the depths of his chair in the Frankfurt picture, taken about
r 850-for that ver reason allowed that space, the space where
they lived, t get onto the plate with them. That generation did not
pas on its virtues. S the Russian feature fi lm was the frst oppor­
tunity in decade to put people before the camera who had no use
for their photographs. And immediately the human face appeared
on flm with new and immeasurable signifcance. But it was no
longer a portrait. What was it? It is the outstanding service of a
German photographer to have answered this question. August
Sander4 ha compiled a serie of faces that is in no way inferior to
4 August Sander, Do Antlitz de Zeit. Berlin 1 930.
252
the tremendous physiognomic gallery mounted by a Eisenstein or
a Pudovkin, and he ha done it from a scientifc viewpoint. "His
complete work comprises seven groups which correspond to the
existing social order, and is to be published in some 45 folio con­
taining I 2 photographs each. " S far we have a sample volume
containing 6 reproductions, which ofer inexhaustible material
for study. "Sander starts of with the peasant, the earth-bound
man, take the observer through every social stratum and every
walk of life up to the highest representatives of civilization, and
then back down all the way to the idiot." The author did not
approach this enormous undertaking as a scholar, or with the
advice of ethnographers and sociologists, but, as the publisher says,
"from direct observation". It wa assuredly a very impartial,
indeed bold sort of observation, but delicate too, very much in the
.
spirit of Goethe's remark: "There is a delicate empiricism which so
intimately involve itself with the object that it become true
theory. " S it was quite in order for an observer like Dablin to have
hit on precisely the scientifc aspects of this work, commenting :
"Just as there is comparative anatomy, which help u to under­
stand the nature and history of organs, so this photographer is doing
comparative photography, adopting a scientific standpoint superior
to the photographer of detail. " It would b a pity if economic con­
siderations should prevent the continuing publication of this
extraordinary body of work. Apart from this basic encouragement,
there is a more specifc incentive one might ofer the publisher.
Work like Sander's could overnight assume unlooked-for topi­
cality. Sudden shifts of power such as are now overdue in our
society can make the ability to read facial types a matter of vital
importance. Whether one is of the lef or right, one will have to get
used to being looked at in terms of one's provenance. And one will
have to look at other the same way. Sander's work is more than a
, picture book. It is a training manual.
\
- "In our age there is no work of art that is looked at s closely a a
photograph of oneself one's closest relatives and friends, one's
sweetheart", wrote Lichtwark back in I 907, thereby moving the
inq uiry out of the realm of aesthetic distinction into that of social
A Small History ofPhotography 253
functions. Only from this vantage point can it b carried further.
It is indeed signifcant that the debate ha raged most fiercely
around the aesthetics of photography a art, wherea the far less
questionable social fact of art a photograp1 was given scarcely a
glance. And yet the impact of the photographic reproduction of
art works is of very much greater importance for the function of art
than the greater or lesser artistry of a photography that regards all
experience a fair game for the camera. The amateur who returns
home with great piles of artistic shots is in fact no more appealing a
figure than the hunter �ho comes back with quantitie of game of
no us to anyone but the dealer. And the day doe indeed seem to
b at hand when there will b more illustrated magazine than
game merchants. S much for the snapshot. But the emphasis chan­
ge completely if we tum from photography-as-art t art-as­
photography. Everyone will have noticed how much easier it is to
get hold of a picture, more particularly a piece of sculpture, not to
mention architecture, in a photograph than in reality. It is all too
tempting t blame this squarely on the decline of artistic apprecia­
tion, on a failure of contemporary sensibility. But one is brought up
short by the way the understanding of great works wa transformed
at about the same time the techniques of reproduction were beinK
developed. They can no longer be regarded as the work of indi-\
viduals ; they have become a collective creation, a corpus s vast it
can b assimilated only through miniaturization. In the final
analysis, mechanical reproduction is a technique of diminution
that helps men to achieve a control over works of art without
whose aid they could no longer b used.
J
If one thing typifie present-day relations between art and
photography, it is the unresolved tension between the two intro­
duced by the photography of works of art. Many of those who, as
photographers, determine the present face of this technology
started out as painters. They turned their back on painting after
attempt to bring its expressive resources into a living and un­
equivocal relationship with modem life. The keener their feel for
the temper of the times, the more problematic their starting point
became for them. For once again, a eighty years before, photo-
25
4
graphy was taking over from painting. "The creative potential of
the new", says Moholy-Nagy, "is for the most part slowly revealed
through old forms, old instruments and areas of design that in their
essence have already been superseded by the new, but which under
pressure from the new as it takes shape are driven to a euphoric
eforescence. Thus, for example, futurist (structural) painting
brought forth the clearly defned Problemati of the simultaneity of
motion, the representation of the instant, which was later t destroy
it-and this at a time when flm was already known but far from
being understood . . . Similarly, some of the painter (neoclassicists
and verists) today using representational-objective methods can be
regarded-with caution-as forerunners ofa new representational
optical form which will soon b making use only of mechanical,
technical methods." And Tristan Tzara, 1 92 2 : "When everything
that called itself art wa stricken with palsy, the photographer
switched on his thousand candle-power lamp and gradually the
light-sensitive paper absorbed the darknes of a few everyday
objects. He had discovered what could b done by a pure and
sensitive fash of light that wa more important than all the con­
stellations arranged for the eye's pleasure. " The photographers
who went over from fgurative art to photography not on oppor­
tunistic grounds, not by chance, not out of sheer laziness, today
constitute the avant-garde among their colleagues, because they
are to some extent protected by their background against the
greatest danger facing photography today, the touch of the com­
mercial artist. "Photography as art", says Sasha Stone, "is a very
dangerous feld".
Where photography takes itself out of context, severing the con­
nections illustrated by Sander, Blossfeldt or Germaine Krull, where
it free itself from physiognomic, political and scientifc interest,
then it become creative. The lens now looks for interesting juxta­
positions; photography turns into a sort of arty journalism. "The
spirit that overcome mechanics translates exact fndings into
parable of life. " The more far-reaching the crisis of the present
social order, the more rigidly it individual components are locked
together in their death struggle, the more has the creative-in its
A Small History � Photography 255
deepest essence a sport, by contradiction out of imitation-become
a fetish, whose lineaments live only in the fitful illumination of
changing fashion. The creative in photography is its capitulation to
fashion. Th world i beautiul-that is its watchword. Therein is
unmasked the posture of a photography that can endow any soup
can with cosmic signifcance but cannot grasp a single one of the
human connexions in which it exists, even where most far-fetched
subjects are more concerned with saleability than with insight. But
because the true face of this kind of photographic creativity is the
advertisement or association, its logical

ounterpart is the act of
unmasking or construction. A Brecht says : "the situation is com­
plicated by the fact that les than ever does the mere refection of
reality reveal anything about reality. A photograph of the Krupp
works or the A. E. G. tells us next to nothing about thes institu­
tions. Actual reality ha slipped into the functional. The reifcation
of human relations-the factory, say-means that they are no
longer explicit. S something must in fact b built up, something
artifcial, posed. " We owe it to the surrealists that they trained the
pioneers of such a constructivist photography. A further stage in
this contest between creative and constructivist photography is
typifed by the Russian flm. It is not too much to say that the great
achievements of the Russian directors were only possible in a
country where photography does not set out to charm or persuade,
but to experiment and instruct. In this sense, and in this only, there
is still some meaning in the grandiloquent salute ofered to photo­
graphy i 1 855 by the uncouth painter of ideas, Antoine Wiertz.
"For some years now the glory of our age has been a machine
which daily amazes the mind and startles the eye. Before another
century is out, this machine will be the brush, the palette, the
colours, the craft, the experience, the patience, the dexterity, the
surenes of touch, the atmosphere, the lustre, the exemplar, the
perfection, the very essence of painting . . . Let no one suppose that
daguerrotype photography will be the death of art . . . When the
daguerrotype, that infant prodigy, has grown to its full stature,
when all its art and its strength have been revealed, then will
Genius seize it by the scruf of the neck and shout : Come with me,
you are mine now! We shall work together ! ". How sober, indeed
pessimistic by contrast are the words in which Baudelaire announ­
ced the new technology to his readers, two years later, i the Salon
i 1857. Like the preceding quotation, they can b read today only
with a subtle shif of emphasis. But a a counterpart to the above,
they still make sense as a violent reaction to the encroachments of
artistic photography. "In these sorry days a new industry has
arisen that ha done not a little to strengthen the asinine belief . . .
that art is and can b nothing other than the accurate refection of
nature . . . A vengeful go has hearkened to the voice of this
multitude. Daguerre is his Messiah. " And: "If photography is
permitted to supplement some of art's functions, they will forth­
with b usurped and corrupted by it, thanks to photography's
natural alliance with the mob. It must therefore revert to its proper
duty, which is to serve as the handmaiden of science and the arts".
One thing, however, both Wiertz and Baudelaire failed to grasp :
the lessons inherent in the authenticity of the photograph. These
cannot b forever circumvented by a commentary whos cliches
merely establish verbal associations in the viewer. The camera is
getting smaller and smaller, ever readier to capture fleeting and
secret moments whose images paralyse the associative mechanisms
in the beholder. This is where the caption come in, whereby
photography turns all life's relationships into literature, and with­
out which all constructivist photography must remain arrested in
Jhe approximate. Not for nothing have Atget's photographs been
likened to thos of the scene ofa crime. But is not every square inch
of our citie the scene of a crime? Every passer-by a culprit? Is it
not the task of the photographer-descendant of the augurs and
haruspices-to reveal guilt and to point out the guilty i his pic­
tures? "The illiteracy of the future", someone has said, "will be
ignorance not of reading or writing, but of photography." But
must not a photographer who cannot read his own pictures be no
les accounted a. illiterate? Will not the caption become the most
important part of the photograph? Such are the questions in which
the interval of ninety years that separate u from the age of the
daguerrotyp discharge its historical tension. It is in the illumina-
A Small Histor i Photography 257
tion of these sparks that the frst photographs emerge, beautiful
and unapproachable, from the darkness of our grandfathers' day.
1931
Karl Kraus
Dedicated to Gustav Gliick
I. Cosmic Man
How noisy everything grows.
-Word in Verse I
In old engravings there is a messenger who rushes toward us
crying aloud, his hair on end, brandishing a sheet of paper in his
hands, a sheet full of war and pestilence, of cries of murder and
pain, of danger from fre and flood, spreading everywhere the
"latest news". News in this sense, in the sense that the word has in
Shakespeare, is disseminated by Di Fackel [ The TorchJ . * Full of
betrayal, earthquakes, poison, and fre from the mundus intelligibilis.
The hatred with which it pursues the tribe of journalists that
swarms into infnity is not only a moral but a vital one, such as is
hurled by an ancestor upon a race of degenerate and dwarfsh
rascals that has sprung from his seed. The very term "public
opinion" outrage him. Opinions are a private matter. The public
ha an interest only in judgments. Either it is a judging public,
or it is none. But it is precisely the purpose of the public opinion
generated by the pres to make the public incapable of judging,
to insinuate into it the attitude of someone irresponsible, unin­
formed. Indeed, what is even the most precise information in the
daily newspaper in comparison to the hair-raising meticulousness
observed by Di Fackel in the presentation of legal, linguistic, and
political facts? Di Fackel need not trouble itself about public
opinion, for the blood-steeped novelties of this "newspaper"
demand a passing of judgment. And on nothing more impetuously,
urgently, than on the press itself
* The journal edited by Kraus from 1 899 until his death in 1 936 [NLB] .
Karl Kraus 259
A hatred such a that which Kraus has heaped on journalists
can never be founded simply on what they do-however obnoxious
this may be; this hatred must have it reason in their very nature,
whether it b antithetical or akin to his own. In fact, it is both.
His most recent portrait characterizes the journalist in the frst
sentence as "a person who ha little interest either in himself and
his own existence, or in the mere existence of things, but who feels
things only in their relationships, above all where these meet in
events-and only in this moment become united, substantial, and
alive. " What we have in this sentence is nothing other than the
negative of an image of Kraus. Indeed, who could have shown a
more burning interest in himself and his own existence than the
writer who is never finished with this subject ; who a more attentive
concer for the mere existence of things, their origin; whom does
that coincidence of the event with the date, the witness, or the
camera cast into deeper despair than him? In the end he brought
together all his energie in the struggle against the empty phrase,
which is the linguistic expression of the despotism with which, in
journalism, topicality set up its dominion over things.
This side of his struggle against the pres is illuminated most
vividly by the life's work of his comrade-in-arms, Adolf Loos.
Loos found his providential adversarie in the arts-and-crafts
monger and af/hitects who, in the ambit of the "Vienna Work­
shops", were striving to give birth to a new art industry. He sent
out his rallying cry in numerous essays, particularly, in its enduring
formulation, in the article "Ornamentation and Crime", which
appeared i I g08 in the Frankurte Zeitung. The lightning flash
ignited by this essay described a curiously zigzag course. "On
reading the words with which Goethe censures the way the Philis­
tine, and thus many an art connoisseur, run their fngers over
engravings and reliefs, the revelation came to him that what may
be touched cannot b a work of art, and that a work of art must
b out of reach. " It wa therefore Loos's frst concer to separate
the work of art from the article of use, a it wa that of Kraus to keep
apart information and the work of art. The hack journalist is in his
heart at one with the ornamentalist. Kraus did not tire of denounc-
ing Heine as an ornamentalist, as one who blurred the boundary
between journalism and literature, as the creator of the feuilleton
in poetry and prose; indeed, he later placed even Nietzsche beside
Heine a the betrayer of the aphorism to the impression. "It is
my opinion, " he said of the latter, "that to the mixture of ele­
ments . . . in the decomposing European style of the last half
century, he added psychology, and that the new level of language
that he created is the level of essayism, a Heine's was that of
feuilletonism. " Both forms appear a symptoms of the chronic
sickness of which all attitudes and standpoints merely mark the
temperature curve : inauthenticity. It is from the unmasking of the
inauthentic that this battle against the pres arose. "Who wa it that
brought into the world this great excuse : I can do what I am not ?"
The empty phrase. It, however, is an abortion of technology.
"The newspaper industry, like a factory, demands separate area
for working and selling. At certain times of day-twice, three
time in the bigger newspapers-a particular quantity of work has
to have been procured and prepared for the machine. And not
from just any material : everything that ha happened in the
meantime, anywhere, in any region oflife, politics, economics, art,
etc., must by now have been reached and journalistically processed. "
Or, a Kraus s splendidly sums it up: "He ought to throw light
on the way in which technology, while unable to coin new plati­
tudes, leave the spirit of mankind in the state of being unable to do
without old ones. In this duality of a changed life dragging on in
unchanged forms, the world's ills grow and prosper." In these
words Kraus deftly tied the knot binding technology to the
empty phrase. True, it untying would have to follow a diferent
pattern, journalism being clearly seen as the expression of the
changed function of language in the world of high capitalism. The
empty phrase of the kind s relentlessly pursued by Kraus is the
label that make a thought marketable, the way fowery language,
as ornament, give it value for the connoisseur. But for this very
reason the liberation oflanguage has become identical with that of
the empty phrase-it transformation from reproduction to
productive instrument. Di Fackel itself contains models of this,
Karl Kraus 261
even if not the theory: it formulae are of the kind that tie up,
never that untie. The combination of biblical magniloquence with
stif-necked fxation on the indecencie of Viennese life-that is
it way of approaching phenomena. It is not content to call on the
world a witnes to the misdemeanour of a cashier; it must sum­
mon the dead from their graves. Rightly so, For the shabby,
obtrusive abundance of these Viennese cofee-houses, press, and
society scandals is only a minor manifestation of a foreknowledge
that then, more swiftly than any could perceive, suddenly arrived
at its true and original subject; two months after the outbreak of
war, he called this subject by it name in the speech "In This Great
Age", with which all the demons that had populated this possessed
man passed into the herd of the swine who were his contemporaries.
"In these great times, which I knew when they were small,
which will again b small if they still have time, and which,
becaus in the field of organic growth such transformations are
not possible, we prefer to addres a fat time and truly also as
hard times; in these times, when precisely what is happening
could not b imagined, and when what must happe can no longer
b imagined, and if it could it would not happen; i these grave
times that have laughed themselve to death at the possibility of
growing serious and, overtaken by their own tragedy, long for
distraction and then, catching themselve in the act, seek words ;
in these loud times, booming with the fearful symphony of deeds
that engender reports, and of report that bear the blame for
deeds ; in these unspeakable times, you can expect no word of my
own from me. None except this, which just preserve silence from
misinterpretation. To deeply am I awed by the unalterable, is
language subordinate to misfortune. In the empire bereft of
imagination, where man is dying of spiritual starvation while
not feeling spiritual hunger, where pens are dipped in bloo and
swords in ink, that which is not thought must b done, but that
which is only thought is inexpressible. Expect from me no word of
my own. Nor should I b capable of saying anything new; for in
the room where someone write the noise is s great, and whether
it come from animals, from children, or merely from mortar shall
not b decided now. He who addresses deeds violate both word
and deed and is twice despicable. This profession is not extinct.
Those who now have nothing to say because it is the tum of deeds
to speak, tal on. Let him who has something to say step forward
and b silent ! "
Everything Kraus wrote is like that : a silence turned inside out,
a silence that catche the storm of events in its black folds, billows,
its livid lining turned outward. Notwithstanding their abundance,
each of the instance of this silence seems to have broken upon it
with the suddennes of a gust of wind. Immediately, a precise
apparatus of control is brought into play: through a meshing of
oral and written forms the polemical possibilities of every situation
are totally exhausted. With what precautions this is surrounded
can b seen from the barbed wire of editorial pronouncements that
encircle each edition of Di Fackel, as from the razor-sharp
defnitions and proviso in the programme and lectures accom­
panying his readings from his own work. The trinity of silence,
knowledge, and alertnes constitute the fgure of Kraus the pole­
micist. His silence is a dam before which the refecting basin of his
knowledge is constantly deepened. His alertness permits no one to
ask it questions, forever unwilling to conform to principles
profered to it. Its frst principle is, rather, to dismantle the
situation, to discover the true question the situation poses, and to
present this in place of any other to his opponents. If in Johann
Peter Hebel we fnd, developed to the utmost, the constructive,
creative side of tact, in Kraus we see its most destructive and
critical face. But for both, tact is moral alertness-Stossl calls it
"conviction refned into dialectics" -and the expression of an
unknown convention more important than the acknowledged one.
Kraus lived in a world in which the most shameful act wa still
the fau pas; he distinguishe between degrees of the monstrous,
and doe s precisely because his criterion is never that of bourgeois
respectability, which once above the threshold of trivial mis­
demeanour become s quickly short of breath that it can form no
conception of villainy on a world-historical scale.
Kraus knew this criterion from the frst, and moreover there is
Karl Kraus 263
no other criterion for true tact. It is a theological criterion. For
tact is now-as narrow minds imagine it-the gif of allotting to
each, on consideration of all relationships, what is socially befi tting.
On the contrary, tact is the capacity to treat social relationships,
though not departing from them, as natural, even as paradisiac
relationships, and s not only to approach the king as if he had
been bor with the crown on his brow, but the lackey like an Adam
in livery. Hebel possessed this noblesse in his priestly bearing,
Kraus in armour. His concept of creation contains the theological
inheritance of speculations that last possessed contemporary
validity for the whole of Europ in the seventeenth century. At the
theological core of this concept, however, a transformation has
taken place that has caused it, quite without constraint, to
coincide with the cosmopolitan credo of Austrian worldliness,
which made creation into a church in which nothing remained
to recall the rite except an occasional whif of incense in the mists.
Stifter gave this creed its most authentic stamp, and his echo is
heard wherever Kraus concerns himself with animals, plants,
children.
"The stirring of the air," Stifter writes, "the rippling of water,
the growing of corn, the tossing of the sea, the verdure of the earth,
the shining of the sky, the twinkling of the star I hold great : the
thunderstorm approaching in splendour, the lightning flash that
cleaves houses, the storm driving the surf the mountains spewing
fire, the earthquake laying waste to countries, I do not hold
greater than the former phenomena; indeed, I believe them smal­
ler, because they are only efect of far higher laws . . . . When man
was in his infancy, his spiritual eye not yet touched by science, he
wa seized by what was close at hand and obtrusive, and was moved
to fear and admiration; but when his mind was opened, when his
gaze began to b directed at the connections between things par­
ticular phenomena sank from sight and the law rose even higher,
miracle ceased, and wonder increased . . . . Just as in nature the
general laws act silently and incessantly, and conspicuous events
are only single manifestations of these laws, so the moral law acts
silently, animating the soul through the infinite intercourse of
human beings, and the miracle of the moment when deeds are
performed are only small signs of this general power. " Tacitly, in
these famous sentences, the holy ha given place to the modest
yet questionable concept of law. But this nature of Stifter's and his
moral universe are transparent enough to escap any confusion
with Kant, and to be still recognizable in their core as creation.
This insolently secularized thunder and lightning, storms, surf,
and earthquakes-cosmic man has won them back for creation
by making them it world-historical answer to the criminal
existence of men. Only the span between Creation and the Last
Judgment here fnds no redemptive fulfilment, let alone a historical
resolution. For as the landscap of Austria fills unbroken the
captivating expanse of Stifter's prose, s for him, Kraus, the terrible
year of his life are not history, but nature, a river condemned to
meander through a landscap of hell. It is a landscap in which
every day ffty thousand tree trunks are felled for sixty newspapers.
Kraus imparted this information under the title "The End".
For that mankind is losing the fight against the creaturely world
is to him just as certain a that technology, once deployed against
creation, will not stop short of its master, either. His defeatism is
of a supranational, that is, planetary kind, and history for him is
merely the wilderness dividing his face from creation, whose last
act is world confagration. A a deserter to the camp of animal
creation-s he measures out this wilderness. "And only the
animal that is conquered by humanity is the hero oflife" : never was
Adalbert Stifter's patriarchal credo given s lugubrious and heral­
dic a formulation.
It is i the name of animal creation that Kraus again and again
bends toward the animal and toward "the heart of all hearts,
that of the dog", for him creation's true mirror virtue, in which
fidelity, purity, gratitude smile from time lost and remote. How
lamentable that people usurp its place ! These are his followers.
More numerously and eagerly than about their master they throng
with unlovely snifng about the mortally wounded opponent.
Certainly the dog is not for nothing the emblematic beast of this
author : the dog, the ideal example of the follower, who is nothing
Karl Kraus 265
except devoted creaturely life. And the more personal and
unfounded this devotion, the better. Kraus is right to put it to the
hardest test. But if anything makes plain what is infnitely ques­
tionable in these creatures, it is that they are recruited solely from
those whom Kraus himself frst called intellectually to life, whom
he conceived and convinced in one and the same act. His word can
b decisive only for those whom it did not beget.
It is entirely logical when the impoverished, reduced human
being of our days, the contemporary, can only seek sanctuary in the
temple of living things in that most withered form, a a private
individual. How much renunciation and how much irony lie in
the curious struggle for the "nerves", the last root fbre of the
Viennese to which Kraus could still find Mother Earth adhering.
"Kraus", write Robert Scheu, "had discovered a great subject
that had never before set in motion the pen of a publicist : the
right of the nerves. He found that they were just a worthy an
object of impassioned defence a were property, house and home,
party, and constitution. He became the advocate of the nerves and
took up the fght against the petty, everyday imitations, but the
subject grew under his hands, became the problem of private life.
To defend this against police, press, morality, and concepts, finally
against neighbours in every form, constantly to fnd new enemies,
became his profession. " Here, if anywhere, is manifest the strange
interplay between reactionary theory and revolutionary practice
that is met everywhere in Kraus. Indeed, to secure private life
against morality and concept in a society that perpetrates the
political radioscopy of sexuality and family, of economic and
physical existence, in a society that is in the process of building
houses with glas walls, and patios extending far into the drawing
rooms that are no longer drawing rooms-such a watchword
would be the most reactionary of all were not the private life that
Kraus had made it his busines to defend precisely that which,
unlike the bourgeois form, is in strict accordance with this social
upheaval ; in other words, the private life that is dismantling itself,
openly shaping itself that of the poor, from whose ranks came Peter
Altenberg, the agitator, and Adolf Loos. In this fight-and only in
266
it-his follower als have their use, since it is they who most
sublimely ignore the anonymity with which the satirist has tried
to surround his private existence, and nothing holds them in
check except Kraus's decision to step in person before his threshold
and pay homage to the ruins in which he is a "private individual".
A decisively as he makes his own existence a public issue when
the fight demands it, he has always just as ruthlessly opposed the
distinction between personal and objective criticism with the aid
of which polemic are discredited, and which is a chief instrument
of corruption in our literary and political afairs. That Kraus
attacks people less for what they are than for what they do, more
for what they say than for what they write, and least of all for their
books, is the precondition of his polemical authority, which is able
to lif the intellectual universe of an author-all the more surely
the more worthles it is, in confdence of a truly prestabilized,
reconciling harmony-whole and intact from a single fragment of
sentence, a single word, a single intonation. But the coincidence of
personal and objective elements not only in his opponents but
above all in himself is best demonstrated by the fact that he never
put forward an opinion. For opinion is false objectivity that can be
separated from the person and incorporated in the circulation of
commodities. Kraus never ofered an argument that had not
engaged his whole person. Thus he embodies the secret of authority:
never to disappoint. Authority has no other end than this : it
die or disappoints. It is not i the last undermined by what others
must avoid: its own despotism, injustice, inconsistency. On the
contrary, it would b disappointing to observe how it arrived at its
pronouncements-by fairness, for example, or even self-consis­
tency. "For the man," Kraus once said, "being right is not an
erotic matter, and he gladly prefers others' being right to his being
wrong. " To prove his manhoo in this way is denied to Kraus ;
his existence demands that at most the self-righteousnes of others
is opposed to his wrongness, and how right he then is to cling to
this. "Many will be right one day. But it will b a rightness
resulting from my wrongnes today. " That is the language of true
authority. Insight into its operations can discover only one thing:
Karl Kraus 267
that it is binding, mercilessly binding toward itself in the same
degree as toward others; that it does not tire of trembling before
itself, though never before others ; that it never doe enough to
sa tisf i tsdf, to fulfil its responsi bili t toward itself, and that this
sense of responsibility never allows him to accept arguments
derived from his private constitution or even from the limits of
human capacity, but always only from the matter at hand, how­
ever unjust, from a private point of view, it may be.
The characteristic of such unlimited authority has for all time
been the union oflegislative and executive power. But it was never
a more intimate union than in the theory of language. This is
therefore the most decisive expression of Kraus's authority.
Incognito like Haroun aI-Rashid, he passes by night among the
sentence constructions of the journals, and, from behind the
petrifed fa�ade of phrases, he peer into the interior, discovers in
the orgies of "black magic" the violation, the martyrdom of words :
"Is the pres a messenger? No: the event. Is it speech? No: life.
It not only claims that the true event are its news of events, but
it also brings about a sinister identification that constantly creates
the illusion that deeds are reported before they are carried out,
and frequently also the possibility of a situation, which in any case
exists, that while war correspondents are not allowed to witness
events, soldier become reporters. I therefore welcome the charge
that all my life I have overestimated the press. It is not a servant­
how could a servant demand and receive so much-it is the event.
Once again the instrument has run away with us. We have
placed the person who is supposed to report outbreaks of fire,
and who ought doubtles to play the most subordinate role in the
state, in power over the world, over fire and over the house, over
fact and over our fantasy. " Authority and word against corruption
and magic-these are the catchwords distributed in this struggle.
It is not idle to prognosticate its outcome. No one, Kraus least of all,
can leave the utopia of an "objective" newspaper, the chimera of
an "impartial transmission of news", to its own devices. The news­
paper is an instrument of power. It can derive its value only from
the character of the power it serves ; not only in what it represents,
but als in what it does, it is the expression of this power. If how­
ever, high capitalism defle not only the ends but also the means of
journalism, then a new blossoming of paradisiac, cosmic humanity
can no more be expected of a power that defeats it than a second
blooming of the language of Goethe or Claudius. From that now
prevailing it will distinguish itself frst of all by putting out of
circulation ideals that debase the former. This is enough to give a
measure of how little Kraus would have to win or lose in such a
struggle, of how unerringly Di Fackel would illuminate it. To the
ever-repeated sensations with which the daily pres serves its
public he oppose the eternally fresh "news" of the history of
creation: the eternally renewed, the uninterrupted lament.
II. Demon
Have I slept? I am just falling asleep.
-Word in Verse IV
It is deeply rooted in Kraus's nature, and it is the stigma of every
debate concerning him, that all apologetic arguments miss their
mark. The great work of Leopold Liegler springs from an apolo­
getic posture. To certif Kraus a an "ethical personality" is his
frst objective. That cannot b done. The dark background from
which his image detache itselfis not formed by his contemporaries,
but is the primeval world or the world of the demon. The light of
the frst day falls on him-thus he emerge from this darkness. But
not in all parts ; other remain that are more deeply immersed in it
than one suspects. A eye that cannot adjust to this darkness will
never perceive the outline of this fgure. On it will b wasted all the
gesture that Kraus tirelessly make in his unconquerable need
to b perceived. For, a in the fairy tale, the demon in Kraus has
made vanity the expression of his being. The demon's solitude, to,
is felt by him who gesticulate wildly on the hidden hill : "Thank
Go nobody knows my name is Rumpelstiltskin. " Just a this
Karl Kraus 269
dancing demon is never still, in Kraus eccentric refection is in
continuous uproar. "The patient of his gifts", Viertel called him.
In fact, his capacitie are maladies, and over and above the real
ones, his vanity make him a hypochondriac.
If he does not see his refection i himself he see it in the
adversary at his feet. His polemic have been from the first the
most intimate intermingling of a technique of unmasking that
works with the most advanced means, and a self-expressive art
operating with the most archaic. In this zone, too, however,
ambiguity, the demon, is manifest : self-expression and unmasking
merge in it as self-unmasking. Kraus has said, "Anti-Semitism
is the mentality . . . that mean seriously a tenth part of the jibes
that the stock-exchange wit holds ready for his own blood" ; he
thereby indicate the nature of the relationship of his own oppo­
nents to himself. There is no reproach to him, no vilification of his
person, that could not fnd its most legitimate formulation in his
own writings, in those passage where self-reflection is raised to self­
admiration. He will pay any price to get himself talked about, and
is always justifed by the succes of these speculations. If style is
the power to move freely in the length and breadth of linguistic
thinking without falling into banality, it is attained chiefy by
the cardiac strength of great thoughts, which drive the blood of
language through the capillarie of syntax into the remotest limbs.
While such thoughts are quite unmistakable in Kraus, the powerful
heart of his style is nevertheles the image he bear of himself in
his own breast and expose in the most merciless manner. Yes, he
is vain. A such he has been described by Karin Michaelis, crossing
a room with swift, restles bounds to reach the lecture podium. And
ifhe then ofer a sacrifice to his vanity, he would not be the demon
that he is were it not fnally himself his life and his sufering, that
he exposes with all its wounds, all its nakedness. In this way his
style come into being, and with it the typical reader of Di Fackel,
for whom in a subordinate clause, in a particle, indeed in a comma,
fbres and nerves quiver; from the obscurest and driest fact a piece
of his mutilated flesh hangs. Idiosyncrasy as the highest critical
organ-that is the hidden logic of this self-refection and the hellish
270
state known only to a writer for whom every act of gratification
become at the same time a station of his martyrdom, a state that
was experienced, apart from Kraus, by no one as deeply as by
Kierkegaard.
"I am," Kraus has said, "perhaps the first instance of a writer
who simultaneously writes and acts his writing", and thus he
shows his vanity its most legitimate place : in mime. His mimetic
genius, imitating while it glosses, pulling face in the midst of
polemics, is festively unleashed in the readings of dramas whose
authors do not for nothing occupy a peculiarly intermediate
position: Shakespeare and Nestroy, dramatists and actors ;
Ofenbach, composer and conductor. It is as if the demon in the
man sought the tumultuous atmosphere of these dramas
,
shot
through with all the lightning flashes of improvisation, because it
alone ofered him the thousand opportunities to break out, teasing,
tormenting, threatening. In them his own voice trie out the
abundance of persona inhabiting the performer-persona: that
through which sound passes-and about his fingertips dart the
gesture of the fgures populating his voice. But in his polemics,
too, mimesis plays a decisive role. He imitates his subjects in order
to insert the crowbar of his hate into the fnest joints of their
posture. This quibbler, probing between syllables, digs out the
grubs of humbug. The grubs of venality and garrulity, ignominy
and bonhomie, childishness and covetousness, gluttony and dis­
honesty. Indeed, the exposure of inauthenticity-more difcult
than that of wickedness-is here performed behaviouristically. The
quotations in Di Fackel are more than documentary proof: they
are masks stripped of mimetically by the quoter. Admittedly,
what emerge in just this connection is how closely the cruelty of
the satirist is linked to the ambiguous modesty of the interpreter,
which in his public readings is heightened beyond comprehension.
To creep-so is termed, not without cause, the lowest kind of
fattery; and Kraus creep into those he impersonates, in order to
annihilate them. Has courtesy here become the camouflage of hate,
hate the camoufage of courtesy? However that may be, both have
attained perfection, the Chinese pitch. "Torment", of which
Karl Kraus 271
there is so much talk in Kraus in such opaque allusions, here has its
seat. His protests against letters, printed matter, documents are
nothing but the defensive reaction of a man who is himself impli­
cated. But what implicates him so deeply is more than the deeds
and misdeeds ; it is the language of his fellow men. His passion for
imitating them is at the same time the expression of and the struggle
against this implication, and also the cause and the result of that
ever-watchful guilty conscience in which the demon has his
habitat.
The economy of hi errors and weaknesses-a fantastic edifce,
rather than the totality of his gifts-is so delicately and precisely
organized that all outward confrmation only disrupts it. Well it
may, if this man i to b certifed as the "pattern of a harmoniously
and perfectly formed human type", ifhe is to appear-in a term as
absurd stylistically a semantically-as a philanthropist, so that
anyone listening to his "hardness" with "the ears of the soul"
would find the reason for it in compassion. No! This incorruptible,
piercing, resolute assurance does not spring from the noble poetic
or humane disposition that his followers are so fond of attributing
to him. How utterly banal, and at the same time how fundamentally
wrong, is their derivation of his hatred from love, when it is
obvious how much more elemental are the forces here at work : a
humanity that is only an alternation of malice and sophistry,
sophistry and malice, a nature that is the highest school of aversion
to mankind and a pity that is alive only when mingled with
vengeance. "Oh, had I only been lef the choice I to carve the dog or
the butcher, I I should have chosen. " Nothing is more perverse
than to try to fashion him after the image of what he loves. Rightly,
Kraus the "timeles world-disturber" has been confronted with the
"eternal world-improver" on whom benign glances not infre­
quently fall.
"When the age laid hands upon itself he was the hands",
Brecht said. Few insights can stand beside this, and certainly
not the comment of his friend Adolf Loos. "Kraus", he declares,
"stands on the frontier of a new age. " Alas, by no means. For he
stands on the threshold of the Last Judgment. A in the most
272
opulent example of baroque altar painting, saints hard-pressed
against the frame extend defensive hands toward the breathtakingly
foreshortened extremities of the angels, the blessed, and the damned
floating before them, s the whole of world history presses in on
Kraus in the extremities of a single item of local news, a single
phrase, a single advertisement. This is the inheritance that has
come down to him from the sermon of Abraham a Santa Clara.
Thence the overwhelming immediacy, the ready wit of the wholly
uncontemplative moment, and the inversion that allows his will
only theoretical, his knowledge only practical expression. Kraus
is no historic genius. He doe not stand on the frontier of a new age.
Ifhe ever turns his back on creation, ifhe breaks ofin lamentation,
it is only to fle a complaint at the LastJ udgment.
Nothing is understood about this man until it ha been perceived
that, of necessity and without exception, everything-language
and fact-falls for him within the sphere of justice. All his fire­
eating, sword-swallowing philology in the newspapers pursues
justice just as much as language. It is to misunderstand his theory
of language to see it as other than a contribution to the linguistic
rules of court, the word of someone else in his mouth as other than a
corpu delicti, and his own as other than a judging word. Kraus
knows no system. Each thought has its own cell. But each cell can
in an instant, and apparently almost without cause, become a
chamber, a legal chamber over which language presides. It has been
said of Kraus that he has to "suppress the Jewishnes in himself",
even that he "travels the road from Jewishnes to freedom" ;
nothing better refutes this than the fact that, for him, too, justice
and language remain founded in each other. To worship the image
of divine justice in language-even in the German language-that
is the genuinely Jewish somersault by which he tries to break the
spell of the demon. For this is the last ofcial act of this zealot : to
place legal system itself under accusation. And not in a petty­
bourgeois revolt against the enslavement of the "free individual"
by "dead formulae". Still les in the posture of those radicals who
storm paragraphs without ever for a moment having taken
thought of justice. Kraus accuses the law in its substance, not in its
Karl Kraus 273
efect. His charge is the betrayal of justice by law. More exactly, of
the word by the concept, which derive it existence from the word :
the premeditated murder of imagination, which die of the absence
of a single letter and for which, in his "Elegy on the Death of a
Sound", he has sung the most moving lament. For over jurisdiction,
right-saying, stands orthography, right-spelling, and wo to the
former if the latter should be wanting. Here, too, therefore, he
confronts the press ; indeed, in this charmed circle he holds his
fondest rendezvous with the lemures. He has seen through law as
have few others. If he nevertheles invoke it, he does so precisely
because his own demon is drawn so powerfully by the abyss it
represents. By the abys that, not without reason, he finds most
gaping where mind and sexuality meet-in the trial for sexual
ofences-and he has sounded in these famous words : "A sexual
trial is the deliberate development from an individual to a general
immorality, against which dark background the proven guilt of
the accused stands out luminously. "
Mind and sexuality move in this sphere with a solidarity
whose law is ambiguity. The possession of demonic sexualit is
that of the ego that, surrounded by sweet feminine mirage "such as
the bitter earth doe not harbour", enjoys itself And no diferent
is the loveles and self-gratifying trope of possessed mind: the joke.
Neither reache it object, the ego women no more than the joke
words. Decomposition ha taken the place of procreation, stridency
that of secrecy. Now, however, they shimmer in the most winsome
nuances : in the repartee lust come into it own, and in onanism,
the joke. Kraus portrayed himself as hopelessly subjugated to the
demon; in the pandemonium of the age he reserved for himself the
most melancholy place in the icy wildernes lit by reflected fames.
There he stands on the "Last Day of Mankind" -the "grumbler"
who has described the preceding days. "I have taken the tragedy,
which is divided into the scenes of decaying humanity, on myself,
s that it might b heard by the spirit who take pity on the victims,
even though he may have renounced for all time his connection
with a human ear. May he receive the keynote of this age, the echo
of my bloodstained madness, through which I share the guilt for
27
4
these noises. May he accept it a redemption ! "
"I share the guilt. . . . " Because this has the ring of the mani­
festoe of an intelligentsia seeking to call to mind the memory of
an epoch that seemed to be turning away from it, there is some­
thing to be said about this guilt feeling in which private and
historical consciousness s vividly meet. This guilt will always
lead to Expressionism, from which his mature work was nourished
by roots that cracked open their soil. The slogans are well known­
with what scor did not Kraus himself register them: "geballt",
"gestuft", "gesteilt" [clenched, stepped, steeped], stage sets,
sentences, paintings were composed. Unmistakable-and the
Expressionists themselve proclaim it-is the infuence of early
medieval miniatures on the world of their imagination. But anyone
who examines their fgures-for example, in the Vienna Genesis­
is struck by something very mysterious, not only in their wide­
open eyes, not only in the unfathomable folds of their garments,
but also in their whole expression. A if falling sicknes had over­
taken them thus, in their running that is always precipitous, they
lean toward one another. "Inclination" may b seen, before all
else, as the deep human afect tremulously pervading the world of
these miniatures, as it does the manifestoe of that generation of
poets. But only one, as it were inwardly curved, aspect is revealed
by the front of these fgures. The same phenomenon appears quite
diferent to someone who looks at their backs. These backs are
piled-in the saints of the adorations, in the servants of the
Gethsemane scene, in the witnesses of the entrance into Jerusalem
-into terraces of human necks, of human shoulders that, really
clenched in steep steps, lead les toward heaven than downward,
to and even under the earth. It is impossible t fnd for their
emotional impact an expression that ignores the fact that they
could be climbed like heaped rocks or rough-hewn steps. Whatever
powers may have fought out their spiritual battle on these
shoulders, one of them, from our experience of the condition of the
defeated masse immediately after the end of the war, we are able
to call by it name. What fnally remained of Expressionism, in
which a originally human impulse was converted almost without
Karl Kraus 275
residue into a fashion, was the experience and the name of that
nameless power toward which the backs of people bent : guilt.
"That an obedient mass i led into danger not by an unknown
will but by an unknown guilt, makes them pitiable", Kraus wrote
as early a I 9I 2. A a "grumbler" he participate in their lot in
order to denounce them, and denounces them in order to partici­
pate. To meet them through sacrifice he one day threw himself
into the arms of the Catholic Church.
In those biting minuets that Kraus whistled to the chasse-croise
of Justitia and Venus, the leitmotif-that the Philistine knows
nothing of love-is articulated with a sharpnes and persistence
that have a counterpart only in the corresponding attitude of
decadence, in the proclamation of art for art's sake. For it was
precisely art for art's sake, which for the decadent movement
applies to love as well, that linked expertise as closely as possible
to craftsmanship, to technique, and allowed poetry to shine at its
brightest only against the foil of hack writing, as it made love
stand out against perversion. "Penury can turn every man into a
journalist, but not every woman into a prostitute." In this
formulation Kraus betrayed the false bottom of his polemic
against journalism. It is much les the philanthropist, the enlight­
ened friend of man and nature, who unleashed this implacable
struggle, than the literary expert, artiste, indeed the dandy who has
his forebear in Baudelaire. Only Baudelaire hated as Kraus did the
satiety of healthy common sense, and the compromise that
intellectuals made with it in order to fnd shelter in journalism.
Journalism is betrayal of the literary life, of mind, of the demon.
Idle chatter is its true substance, and every feuilleton poses anew the
insoluble question of the relationship between the forces of
stupidity and malice, whose expression is gossip. It is, funda­
mentally, the complete agreement of two forms of existence-life
under the aegis of mere mind or of mere sexuality-in which is
founded that solidarity of the man of letters with the whore to
which Baudelaire's existence is once again the most inviolable
testimony. So Kraus can call by their name the laws of his own
craft, entwined with those of sexuality, a he did in the Wall ri
China. The man "has wrestled a thousand time with the other,
who perhaps doe not live, but whose victory over him is certain.
Not because he has superior qualitie but because he i the other,
the late-comer, who brings the woman the joy of variety and will
triumph as the last in the sequence. But they rub it from her brow
like a bad dream, and want to be the first. " Now i language-this
we read between the lines-is a woman, how far is the author
removed, by an unerring instinct, from those who hasten to b the
frst with her, how multifariously he forms his thought, which
incites her with intuition, rather than slake her with knowledge,
how he lets hatred, contempt, malice ensnare one another, how
he slows his step and seeks the detour of followership, in order
finally to end her joy in variety with the last thrust that Jack
holds in readiness for Lulu.
The life of letter is existence under the aegis of mere mind, as
prostitution is existence under the aegis of mere sexuality. The
demon, however, who leads the whore to the street exile the man
of letter to the courtroom. This is therefore for Kraus the forum
that it ha always been for the great journalist-for a Carrel, a
Paul-Louis Courier, a Lassalle. Evasion of the genuine and demonic
function of mere mind, to b a disturber of the peace; abstention
from attacking the whore from behind-Kraus see this double
omission a defning the journalist. Robert Scheu rightly perceived
that for Kraus prostitution was a natural form, not a social
deformation, of female sexuality. Yet it is only the entanglement of
sexual with commercial intercourse that constitute the character
of prostitution. It is a natural phenomenon as much in terms of its
natural economic aspect, a a manifestation of commodity
exchange, a in terms of its natural sexuality. "Contempt for
prostitution? / Harlots worse than thieves? / Lear this : not only is
love paid, / but payment, too, wins love ! " This ambiguity-this
double nature as twofold naturalness-make prostitution demonic.
But Kraus "enlists with the power of nature. " That the sociological
area never become transparent to him-no more in his attack
on the press than in his defence of prostitution-is connected to
this attachment to nature. That to him the ft state of man appears
Karl Kraus 277
not as the destiny and fulflment of nature liberated through
revolutionary change, but a an element of nature per se, of an
archaic nature without history, in its pristine, primeval state,
throws uncertain, disquieting refections even on his idea of free­
dom and of humanity. It is not removed from the realm of guilt
that he ha traversed from pole to pole: from mind to sexuality.
In face of this reality, however, to which Kraus exposed himself
more harrowingly than any other, the "pure mind" that his
follower worship in the master's activity is revealed as a worthless
chimera. For this reason, none of the motive for his development
is more important than the continuous curbing and checking of
mind. By Night, he entitle the logbook of this control. For night is
the mechanism by which mere mind is converted into mere
sexuality, mere sexuality into mere mind, and where these two
abstractions hostile to life find rest in recognizing each other. "I
work day and night. S I have a lot of free time. To ask a picture
in the room how it like work, to ask the clock whether it is tired
and the night how it ha slept. " These questions are sacrifcial gifts
that he throws to the demon while working. His night, however,
is not maternal, or a moonlit, romantic night : it is the hour
between sleeping and waking, the night watch, the centrepiece
of his threefold soli tude : that of the cofeehouse where he is alone
with his enemy, of the nocturnal room where he is alone with his
demon, of the lecture hall where he is alone with his work.
III. Monster
Already the snow falls.
-Word in Verse III
Satire is the only legitimate form of regional art. This, however,
was not what people meant by calling Kraus a Viennese satirist.
Rather, they were attempting to shunt him for as long as possible
into this siding where his work could b assimilated in the great store
of literar consumer goods. The presentation of Kraus as a satirist
can thus yield the deepest insight both into what he is and into his
most melancholy caricature. For this reason, he was at pains from
the frst to distinguish the genuine satirist from the scribbler who
make a trade of mocker and in their invectives have little more in
mind than giving the public something to laugh about. In contrast,
the great type of the satirist never had frmer ground under his
feet than amid a generation about to board tanks and put on gas
masks, a mankind that has run out of tear but not of laughter. In
him civilization prepares to survive, if it must, and communicates
with him in the true mystery of satire, which consists in the
devouring of the adversary. The satirist is the fgure in whom the
cannibal was received into civilization. His recollection of his
origin i not without flial piety, s that the proposal to eat people
has become an essential constituent of his inspiration, from Swift's
pertinent project concerning the use of the children of the less
wealthy classes, to Leon Bloy's suggestion that landlords of insol­
vent lodger b conceded a right to the sale of their fesh. In such
directives the great satirists have taken the measure of the humanity
of their fellow men. "Humanity, culture, and freedom are precious
things that cannot b bought dearly enough with blood, under­
standing, and human dignity" -thus Kraus concludes the dispute
between the cannibal and human rights. It should be compared to
Marx's treatment of the ''Jewish question", in order to judge how
totally this playful reaction of I gog-the reaction against the clas­
sical ideal of humanity-was likely to become a confession of
materialist humanism at the frst opportunity. Admittedly, one
would need to understand Di Fackel from the frst number on
literally word for word to predict that this aesthetically oriented
journalism, without sacrifcing or gaining a single motif was
destined to become the political prose of I g30. For that it had to
than its partner, the press, which disposed of humanity in the way
to which Kraus alludes in these words : "Human rights are the
fragile toy that grownups like to trample on and so will not give
up. " Thus drawing the frontier between the private and public
spheres, which in 1 789 wa supposed to inaugurate freedom, be-
Karl Kraus 279
came a mockery. "Through the newspaper," says Kierkegaard,
"the distinction between public and private afair is abolished
in private-public prattle . . . . "
To open a dialectical debate between the public and private
zone that commingle demonically in prattle, to lead materialist
humanity to victory, that is "the Purpose of the operetta" that
Kraus discovered and in Ofenbach* raised to its most expressive
level. Just as prattle seals the enslavement of language with
stupidity, s operetta transfgure stupidity through music. To
fail to recognize the beauty of feminine stupidity was for Kraus
always the blackest Philistinism. Before its radiance the chimeras of
progress evaporate. And in Ofenbach's operetta the bourgeois
trinity of true, beautiful, and good is brought together, freshly
rehearsed and with musical accompaniment, in its star tum on the
trapeze of stupidity. Nonsense is true, stupidity beautiful, weakness
good. This is Ofenbach's secret : how in the deep nonsense of
public discipline-whether it b of the upper ten thousand, a
dance foor, or a military state-the deep sense of private licen­
tiousnes opens a dreamy eye. And what as language might have
been judicial strictness, renunciation, discrimination, becomes
cunning and evasion, obstruction and postponement, a music.
Music as the preserver of the moral order? Music a the police
of a world of pleasure? Yes, that is the splendour that falls on the
old Paris ballrooms, on the Grande Chaumiere, the Closerie des
Lilas in his performance of L Vi Parisienne. "And the inimitable
duplicity of this music, which simultaneously puts a plus and a
minus sign before everything it says, betraying idyll to parody,
mockery to lyricism; the abundance of musical devices ready to
perform all duties, uniting pain and pleasure-this gif is here
developed to its purest pitch. " Anarchy a the only international
constitution that is moral and worthy of man become the true
music of these operettas. The voice of Kraus speaks, rather than
sings, this inner music. It whistles bitingly about the peaks of
dizzying stupidity, reverberates shatteringly from the abys of the
absurd, and in Frescata's line it hums, like the wind in the
• Karl Kraus translated and edited Ofenbach's L Vie Parisienne. [NLB]
chimney, a requiem to the generation of our grandfathers.
Ofenbach's work is touched by the pangs of death. It contracts,
rids itself of everything superfluous, passes through the dangerous
span of this existence and re-emerge saved, more real than before.
For where this fickle voice is heard, the lightning flashe of the
advertisements and the thunder of the Metro cleave the Paris of
the omnibuse and the gas flames. And the work give him all this
in return. For at moments it is transformed into a curtain, and
with the wild gesture of a fairground showman with which he
accompanies the whole performance, Kraus tears aside this
curtain and suddenly reveals the interior of his cabinet of horrors.
There they stand: Schober, Bekessy, Kerr, and the other skits, no
longer enemie but curiosities, heirlooms from the world of
Ofenbach or Nestroy, no, older, rarer still, lare of the troglodytes,
household gods of stupidity from prehistoric times. Kraus, in his
recitals, does not speak the words of Ofenbach or Nestroy: they
speak from him. And now and then a breathtaking, half-blank,
half-glittering whoremonger's glance falls on the crowd before
him, inviting them to the unholy marriage with the masks in
which they do not recognize themselves, and for the last time invokes
his evil privilege of ambiguity.
It is only now that the satirist's true face, or rather true mask, is
revealed. It is the mask of Timon, the misanthrope. "Shakespeare
had foreknowledge of everything" -yes. But above all of Kraus.
Shakespeare portrays inhuman fgures-and Timon as the most
inhuman of them-and says : Nature would produce such a
creature if she wished to create something befitting the world as
your kind have fashioned it, something worthy of it. Such a creature
is Timon; such is Kraus. Neither has, or wants, anything in
common with men. "An animal feud is on, and s we renounce
humanity" ; from a remote village in the Swiss mountains Kraus
throws down this challenge to mankind, and Timon wants only the
sea to weep at his grave. Like Timon's verse, Kraus's poetry stands
opposite the colon of the dramati persona, of the role. A fool, a
Caliban, a Timon-no more thoughtful, no more dignified or
better-but, nevertheless, his own Shakespeare. All the fgures
Karl Kraus 281
thronging about him should b seen a originating in Shakespeare.
Always he is the model, whether Kraus speaks with Weininger
about man or with Altenberg about women, with Wedekind about
the stage or with Loos about food, with Else Lasker-Schuler about
theJews or with Theodor Haecker about the Christians. The power
of the demon ends in this realm. His demi- or sub-human traits are
conquered by a truly inhuman being, a monster. Kraus hinted
at this in the words "In me a capacity for psychology is united with
the greater capacity to ignore the psychological. " It is the inhuman
quality of the actor that he pre-empts in these words : the cannibal
quality. For in each of his roles the actor assimilates bodily a
human being, and in Shakespeare's baroque tirades-when the
cannibal is unmasked as the better man, the hero as an actor, when
Timon plays the rich man, Hamlet the madman-it is a if his
lip dripped blood. So Kraus, following Shakespeare's example,
wrote himself parts that let him taste blood. The endurance of his
convictions is persistence in a role, in its stereotypes, its cues. His
experience are in their entirety nothing but this : cues. This is
why he insist on them, demanding them of existence like an actor
who never forgives a partner for denying him his cue.
The Ofenbach readings, the recital of couplets from Nestroy,
are beref of all musical means. The word never gives way to the
instrument; but by extending it boundaries further and further it
finally enfeeble itself, dissolving into a merely animal voice: a
humming that is to the word what his smile is to the joke is the holy
of holie of this performer's art. In this smile, this humming in
which, a in a crater lake amid the most monstrous crags and
cinders, the world is peacefully and contentedly mirrored, irrupts
the deep complicity with his listener and models that Kraus has
never allowed to enter his words. His service to the world permits
no compromise. But a soon as he turns his back on it, he is ready for
a good many. Then is felt the tormenting, inexhaustible charm of
these recitals : that of seeing the distinction between like and unlike
minds annulled, and the homogeneous mas of false friends
created, that sets the tone of these performances. Kraus confronts
a world of enemies, seeks to coerce them to love and yet coerces
them to nothing but hypocrisy. His defencelessness before the
latter ha a precise connection to the subversive dilettantism that
is particularly predominant in the Ofenbach performances. Here
Kraus confnes music to limits narrower than were ever dreamed
of in the manifestoes of the George school. This cannot, of course,
obscure the antithesis between the linguistic gestures of both men.
Rather, an exact correlation exists between the factor that give
Kraus acces to the two poles of linguistic expression-the en­
feebled pole of humming and the armed pole of pathos-and those
which forbid his sanctifcation of the word to take on the forms of
the Georgean cult of language. To the cosmic rising and falling
that for George "deifes the body and embodie the divine",
language is only the Jacob's ladder with its ten thousand word­
rungs. Kraus's language, by contrast, has done away with all
hieratic moments. It i the medium neither of clairvoyance nor of
domination. It is the theatre of a sanctifcation of the name­
with the Jewish certainty it sets itself against the theurgy of the
"word-body". Very late, with a decisivenes that must have
matured in years of silence, Kraus entered the lists against the
great partner whose work had arisen at the same time a his
own, beneath the threshold of the century. George's frst published
book and the frst volume of Di Fackel are dated 1 899. And only
retrospectively, "After Thirty Years", in 1 929, did Kraus issue
the challenge. There, as the zealot, he confronts George, the
object of worship,
who in the temple dwells from which
he never had to drive the traders and the lenders,
nor yet the pharisees and scri bes
who, therefore, camped about the place, describe it.
Prranum vulgus praises this renouncer
who never told it what it ought to hate.
And he who found the goal before the way
did not come from the source.
"You came from the source-the source i the goal" is received
by the "Dying Man" as God's comfort and promise. To this
Kraus alludes here, as does Viertel when, in the same way as
Kraus, he calls the world a "wrong, deviating, circuitous way back
Karl Kraus 283
to paradise". "And so," he continue II this most important
passage of his essay on Kraus, "I attempt to interpret the develop­
ment of this remarkable talent: intellectuality as a deviation . . .
leading back to immediacy; publicity-a false trail back to
language ; satire-a detour to poetry. " This "source"-the pheno­
menon's seal of authenticity-is the subject ofa discovery that has a
curious element of rediscovery. The theatre of this philosophical
recognition scene in Kraus's work is poetry, and its language
rhyme : "A word that never lies at source" and that, just as
blessedness has it source at the end of time, has it at the end of the
line. Rhyme-two putti bearing the demon to its grave. It died at
its source because it came into the world a a hybrid of mind and
sexuality. Its sword and shield-concept and guilt-have fallen
from its hands to become emblems beneath the feet of the angel that
killed it. This is a poetic, martial angel with a foil in his hand,
as only Baudelaire knew him: "practising alone fantastic swords­
manship",
Flairant dans tous les coins les hasards de la rime,
Trebuchant sur les mots comme sur les paves,
Heurtant parois des vers depuis long temps reves.
( Scenting rhyme's hazards in every corner,
Stumbling on words as on uneven pavements,
Jostling now and then long-dreamed-oflines.)
Also a licentious angel, to be sure, "here chasing a metaphor
that has just turned the corner, there coupling words like a
procurer, perverting phrases, infatuated with similarities, bliss­
fully abusing chiastic embraces, always on the look-out for adven­
ture, impatient and hesitant to consummate in joy and torment."
S fnally the hedonistic moment of the work fnds its purest
expression in this melancholy and fantastic relationship to
existence in which Kraus, in the Viennese tradition of Raimund
and Girardi, arrives at a conception of happiness that is as resigned
as it is sensual. This must be borne in mind if one is to understand
the urgency with which he opposed the dancing pose afected by
Nietzsche-not to mention the wrath with which the monster
was bound to greet the Superman.
The child recognize by rhyme that it ha reached the summit of
language, from which it can hear at their source the rushing of
all springs. Up there creaturely existence is at home; after s much
dumbnes in the animal and s much lying in the whore, it has
found its tongue in the child. "A good brain must b capable of
imagining each fbre of childhood with all it phenomena so
intensely that temperature is raised" �in statement such as this
Kraus aims further than it appears. He himself, at any rate,
satisfed this requirement to the extent that he never envisaged the
child as the object of education but, in an image from his own
youth, a the antagonist of education who is educated by this
antagonism, not by the educator. "Not the cane was to b abolished,
but the teacher who uses it badly. " Kraus wants to b nothing
except the teacher who use it better. The limit of his philanthropy,
his pity, is marked by the cane, which he frst felt in the same class
at school to which he owe his best poems.
"I am only one of the late followers" � Kraus is a late follower
of the school anthologies. "The German Boy's Table Gr.ce",
"Siegfried's Sword", "The Grave in the Busento", "Kaiser
Karl Inspect a School" �these were his models, poetically re­
created by the attentive pupil who learned them. S the "Steeds
of Gravelotte" became the poem "To Eternal Peace", and even
the most incandescent of his hate poems were ignited by Holty's
"Forest Fire", the glow of which pervaded the anthologie of our
school days. And if on the last day not only the graves but the
school anthologie open, to the tune of "How the trumpets blow,
Hussars away", the true Pegasus of the little folk will burst from
them and, a shrivelled mummy, a puppet of cloth or yellowish
ivory, hanging dead and dried up over the shoulder of his horse,
this unparalleled fashioner of verses will go careening of; but the
two-edged sabre in his hand, polished as his rhyme and incisive
as on the First Day, will belabour the green woods, and blooms of
style bestrew the ground.
Language has never been more perfectly distinguished from
mind, never more intimately bound to Eros, than by Kraus in
the observation "The more closely you look at a word the more
distantly it looks back. " This is a Platonic love of language.
Karl Kraus 285
The only closeness from which the word cannot escape, however,
is rhyme. So the primal erotic relationship between closenes and
distance is given voice in his language : a rhyme and name. A
rhyme, language rises up from the creaturely world; a name, it
draws all creation up to it. In "The Forsaken" the most ardent
interpenetration of language and Eros, a Kraus experienced
them, expresses itself with an innocent grandeur that recalls the
perfect Greek epigrams and vase pictures. "The Forsaken" are
forsaken by each other. But-this is their great solace-als with
each other. On the threshold between dying and rebirth they
pause. With head turned back, joy "in unheard-of fashion"
takes her eternal leave; turned from her the soul "in unwanted
fashion" silently sets foot in an alien world. Thus forsaken with
each other are joy and soul, but also language and Eros, also
rhyme and name. To "The Forsaken" the ffth volume of Word in
Verse is dedicated. Only the dedication now reaches them, which
is nothing other than avowal of Platonic love, which does not
satisf its desire in what it loves, but possesse and holds it in name.
This self-obsessed man knows no other self-renunciation than
giving thanks. His love is not possession, but gratitude. Thanking
and dedicating-for to thank is to put feelings under a name. How
the beloved grows distant and lustrous, how her minutenes and
her glow withdraw into name, that is the only experience of love
known to Word in Verse. And, therefore, "To live without women,
how easy-to have lived without women, how hard. "
From within the linguistic compas of the man, and only from
within it, can we discer Kraus's basic polemical procedure :
quotation. To quote a word is to call it by its name. S Kraus's
achievement exhausts itself at its highest level by making even the
newspaper quotable. He transports it to his own sphere, and the
empty phrase is suddenly forced to recognize that even in the
deepest dregs of the journals it is not safe from the voice that
swoop on the wings of the word to drag it from its darkness. How
wonderful, if this voice approache not to punish but to save, a
it does on the Shakespearean wings of the lines in which, before
Arras, someone sends word home of how in the early morning, on
the last blasted tree before the fortifcations, a lark began to sing. A
single line, and not even one of his, is enough to enable Kraus to
descend, as saviour, into this inferno, a single italicization: "It
wa a nightingale and not a lark which sat there on the pomegranat
tree and sang. "* In the quotation that both save and chastises,
language proves the matrix of justice. It summons the word by its
name, wrenche it destructively from its context, but precisely
thereby calls it back to its origin. It appears, now with rhyme and
reason, sonorously, congruously in the structure of a new text. A
rhyme it gathers the similar into its aura; as name it stands alone
and expressionless. In quotation the two realms-of origin and
destruction-justif themselves before language. And conversely,
only where they interpenetrate-in quotation-is language con­
summated. In it is mirrored the angelic tongue in which all words,
startled from the idyllic context of meaning, have become mottoes
in the book of Creation.
From its two poles-classical and materialist humanism-the
whole world of this man's culture is embraced by quotation.
Schiller, admittedly unnamed, stands beside Shakespeare : "There
is also a moral nobility. Mean natures pay/With that which they
do, noble with that which they are" -this classical distich charac­
t�rizes, in the convergence of manorial noblesse and cosmopolitan
rectitude, the utopian vanishing point where Weimar humanism
was at home, and which was fnally fxed by Stifter. It is decisive
for Kraus that he locates origin at exactly this vanishing point.
It is his programme to reverse the development of bourgeois­
capitalist afairs to a condition that wa never theirs. But he is
nonetheles the last bourgeois to claim hi justifcation from Being,
and Expressionism wa portentous for him because in it this
attitude had for the frst time to prove its worth in face of a revolu­
tionary situation. It was precisely the attempt to do justice to this
situation not by actions but by Being that led Expressionism to its
clenched ensteepments. So it became the last historical refuge of
personality. The guilt that bowed it and the purity it proclaimed-
* Granat means "pomegranate" ; Granate, Hgrenade" or "shell" [Trans. ].
Karl Kraus 287
both are part of the phantom of the unpolitical or "natural"
man who emerges at the end of that regression and was unmasked
by Marx. "Man as member of bourgeois society", writes Marx,
"the unpolitical man, necessarily appear a the natural man . . . .
Political revolution dissolves bourgeois life into its component
parts without revolutionizing or criticizing these components
themselves. It stands to bourgeois society, to the world of needs
,
work, private interests, private right, in the same relation as to the
foundation of its existence . . . and therefore to its natural basis . . . .
The real man is acknowledged only in the form of the egoistical
individual, the true man only in the form of the abstract citoyen . . . .
Only when the really individual man take back into himself the
abstract citizen and, as an individual man, has become in his
empirical life, in his individual work, in his individual circumstan­
ces a species-being . . . and therefore no longer separate social
power from himself in the form of political power, only then is
human emancipation complete. " The materialist humanism
which Marx here opposes to it classical counterpart manifests
itself for Kraus in the child, and the developing human being
raises his face against the idols of ideal man-the romantic child
of nature as much as the dutiful citizen. For the sake of such
development Kraus revised the school anthology, investigated
German education, and found it tossing helplessly on the waves of
journalistic caprice. Hence the "Lyric of the Germans" : "He
who can is their man and not he who must, / they strayed from
being to seeming. / Their lyrical case was not Claudius / but
Heine. " The fact, however, that the developing man actually
takes form not within the natural sphere but in that of mankind,
in the struggle for liberation, and that he is recognized by the
posture that the fight with exploitation and poverty stamp upon
him, that there is no idealistic but only a materialistic deliverance
from myth, and that at the origin of creation stands not purity but
purifi cation-all this did not leave its trace on Kraus's materialist
humanism until very late. Only in despair did he discover in
quotation the power not to preserve but to purify, to tear from
context, to destroy; the only power in which hope still resides that
288
something might survive this age-becaus it was wrenched from it.
Here we fnd confrmation that all the martial energie of this
man are innate civic virtues ; only in the melee did they take on their
combative aspect. But already no one recognizes them any more;
no one can grasp the necessity that compelled this great bourgeois
character to become a comedian, this guardian of Goethean
linguistic values a polemicist, or why this irreproachably honour­
able man went beserk. This, however, was bound to happen,
since he thought ft to begin changing the world with his own class,
in his own home, in Vienna. And when, recognizing the futility
of his enterprise, he abruptly broke it of, he placed the matter
back in the hands of nature-this time destructive, not creative
nature :
Let time stand still ! Sun, be consummate !
Make great the end ! Announce eternity !
Rise up with menace, let your light boom thunder,
That our strident death be silenced.
You golden bell, melt in your own heat,
Make yourself a gun against the cosmic foe !
Shoot frebrands in his face ! Had I but Joshua's power,
I tell you, Gibeon would be agai n!
On this unfettered nature Kraus's later political credo is founded,
though in antithesis to Stifter's patriarchal code; it is a confession
that is in every respect astonishing, but incomprehensible only in
the fact that it ha not been preserved in Die Fackel's largest type,
and that this most powerful of post-war bourgeois prose must be
sought in a vanished edition of the issue of November I 920 :
"What I mean is-and now for once I shall speak plainly to
this dehumanized brood of owner of property and blood, and
all their followers, because they do not understand German and
from my 'contradictions' are incapable of deducing my true
intention . . . -what I mean is : Communism as a reality is only the
obverse of their own life-violating ideology, admittedly by the
grace of a purer ideal origin, a deranged remedy with a purer
ideal purpose-the devil take it practice, but God preserve it as a
constant threat over the heads of those who have property and
Karl Kraus 28
9
would like to compel all other to preserve it, driving them, with
the consolation that worldly goods are not the highest, to the
fronts of hunger and patriotic honour. Go preserve it, s that this
rabble who are beside themselve with brazenness do not grow
more brazen still, and s that the society of those exclusively
entitled to enjoyment, who believe it is loving subordinate
humanity enough if they give it syphilis, may at least g to bed with
a nightmare ! S that at least they may lose their appetite for
preaching morality to their victims, take les delight in ridiculing
them ! "
A human, natural, noble language-particularly in the light
of a noteworthy declaration by Loos : "If human work consists
only of destruction, it is truly human, natural, noble work. "
For far to long the accent was placed on creativity. People are
only creative to the extent that they avoid tasks and supervision.
Work as a supervised task-its model : political and technical
work-is attended by dirt and detritus, intrudes destructively into
matter, is abrasive to what is already achieved, critical toward its
conditions, and is in all this opposite to that of the dilettante
luxuriating in creation. His work is innocent and pure, consuming
and purifying masterliness. And therefore the monster stands
among us as the messenger of a more real humanism. He is the
conqueror of the empty phrase. He feels solidarity not with the
slender pine but with the plane that devours it, not with the
precious ore but with the blast furnace that purife it. The average
European has not succeeded in uniting his life with technology,
because he has clung to the fetish of creative existence. One must
have followed Loos in his struggle with the dragon "ornament",
heard the stellar Esperanto of Scheerbart's creations, or seen
Klee's New Angel, who preferred to free men by taking from them,
rather than make them happy by giving to them, to understand a
humanity that prove itself by destruction.
Justice, therefore, is destructive in opposing the constructive
ambiguities of law, and destructively Kraus did justice to his own
work: "All my errors stay behind to lead. " This is a sober language
that base its dominance on permanence, and the writings of Kraus
have already begun to last, s that he might furnish them with an
epigraph from Lichtenberg, who dedicated one of his most
profound works to "Your Majesty Forgetfulness". So his modesty
now appears� bolder than his former self-assertion, which
dissolved in demonic self-refl ection. Neither purity nor sacrifce
mastered the demon; but where origin and destruction come
together, his rule is over. Like a creature sprung from the child
and the cannibal his conqueror stands before him: not a new man;
a monster, a new angel. Perhaps one of those who, according to the
Talmud, are at each moment created anew in countles throngs,
and who, once they have raised their voice before God, cease and
pas into nothingness. Lamenting, chastising, or rejoicing? No
matter�on this evanescent voice the ephemeral work of Kraus is
modelled. Angelus�that is the messenger in the old engravings.
1930-31
v
A Berlin Chronicle
For my dear Stefan
Now let me call back those who introduced me to the city. For
although the child, in his solitary games, grows up at closest
quarter to the city, he needs and seeks guide to it wider expanses,
and the first of these-for a son of wealthy middle-clas parents
like me-are sure to have been nursemaids. With them I went to the
Zoo-although I recall it only from much later, with blaring
military bands and "Scandal Avenue" (a the adherent of art
nouveau dubbed this promenade) -or, if not to the Zoo, to the
Tiergarten. I believe the first "street" that I discovered in this way
that no longer had anything habitable or hospitable about it,
emanating forlornnes between the shopfronts and even danger at
the crossings, was Schillstrasse; I like to imagine that it has altered
less than other in the West End and could now accommodate a
scene rising irresistibly from the mist: the saving of the life of "little
brother": The way to the Tiergarten led over the Herkule Bridge,
the gently sloping embankment of which must have been the frst
hillside the child encountered-accentuated by the fne stone flanks
of the lion rising above. At the end of Bendlerstrasse, however,
began the labyrinth, not without it Ariadne: the maze surrounding
Frederick William III and Queen Louise, who, rising sheer fr
o
m
the fower beds on their illustrated, Empire-style plinths, seemed
a if petrified by the signs that a little rivulet inscribed in the sand.
Rather than the fgures, my eye sought the plinths, since the
events taking place on them, ifles clear in their ramifcations, were
closer in space. But that a particular significance attache to this
293
29
4
Hohenzollem labyrinth I fnd confrmed even now by the utterly
unconcerned, banal appearance of the forecourt on Tiergarten­
strasse, where nothing suggest that you stand but a few yards from
the strangest place in the city. At that time, it is true, it must have
corresponded more than closely to what wa waiting behind it, for
here, or not far away, were the haunts of that Ariadne in whose
proximity I learned for the frst time (and wa never entirely to
forget) something that was to make instantly comprehensible a
word that at scarcely three I cannot have' known: love. Here the
nursemaid supervenes, a cold shadow driving away what I loved.
It is likely that no one ever masters anything in which he has not
known impotence; and if you agree, you will als see that this
impotence come not at the beginning of or before the struggle
with the subject, but in the heart of it. Which brings me to the
middle perio of my life in Berlin, extending from the whole of my
later childhoo to my entrance to the university: a period of
impotence before the city. This had two sources. First was a very
poor sense of direction; but if it wa thirty year before the distinc­
tion between lef and right had become visceral to me, and before I
had acquired the art of readin a street map, I wa far from appre­
ciating the extent of my ineptitude; and if anything wa capable
of increasing my disinclination to perceive this fact, it was the
insistence with which my mother thrust it under my nose. On her
I lay the blame for my inability even today to make a cup of cofee;
to her propensity for turning the most insignifcant items of conduct
into tests of my aptitude for practical life l owe the dreamy
recalcitrance with which I accompanied her a we walked through
the streets, rarely frequented by me, of the city centre. But to this
resistance in tum is due who knows how much that underlies my
present intercourse with the city's streets. Above all, a gaze that
appears to see not a third of what it take in. I remember, too,
how nothing wa more intolerable to my mother than the pedantic
care with which, on these walks, I always kept half a step behind
her. My habit of seeming slower, more maladroit, more stupid than
I am, had its origin in such walks, and ha the great attendant
danger of making me think myself quicker, more dexterous, and
A Berlin Chronicle 295
shrewder than I am.
I have long, indeed for years, played with the idea of setting
out the sphere oflife-bios-graphically on a map. First I envisaged
an ordinary map, but now I would incline to a general stafs map
of a city centre, if such a thing existed. Doubtles it doe not,
because of ignorance of the theatre of future wars. I have evolved
a system of signs, and on the grey background of such maps they
would make a colourful show i I clearly marked in the houses of my
friends and girl friends, the assembly halls of various collectives,
from the "debating chambers" of the Youth Movement to the
gathering place of the Communist youth, the hotel and brothel
rooms that I knew for one night, the decisive benches in the
Tiergarten, the ways to diferent schools and the grave that I saw
filled, the sites of prestigious cafes whose long-forgotten name daily
crossed our lips, the tennis court where empty apartment blocks
stand today, and the halls emblazoned with gold and stucco that
the terror of dancing classe made almost the equal of gymnasiums.
And even without this map, I still have the encouragement provided
by an illustrious precursor, the Frenchman Leon Daudet, exem­
plary at least in the title of his work, which exactly encompasses the
best that I might achieve here: Paris vecu. "Lived Berlin" does not
sound s good but is as real. And it is not just this title that concerns
me here; Paris itself is the fourth in the series of voluntary or
involuntary guide that began with my nursemaids. If! had to put
in one word what l owe to Paris for these refections, it would be
"caution" ; I should scarcely be able to abandon myself to the
shifting currents of these memorie of my earliest city life, had not
Paris set before me, strictly circumscribed, the two forms in which
alone this can legitimately-that is, with a guarantee of perman­
ence-b done; and had I not forsworn the attempt to equal the
frst a firmly a I hop one day to realize the second. The first form
was created in the work of Marcel Proust, and the renunciation of
any dalliance with related possibilitie could scarcely b more
bindingly embodied than in the translation of it that I have
produced. Related possibilities-do they really exist? They would
certainly permit no dalliance. What Proust began s playfully
became awesomely serious. He who has once begun t open the
fan of memor never come to the end of its segments ; no image
satisfes him, for he has seen that it can be unfolded, and only in its
folds does the truth reside; that image, that taste, that touch for
whose sake all this has been unfurled and dissected; and now
remembrance advance from small to smallest details, from the
smallest to the infnitesimal, while that which it encounter in these
microcosms grows ever mightier. Such is the deadly game that
Proust began s dillettantishly, in which he will hardly fnd more
successor than he needed companions.
How totally unlike this (the music at the Zoo) was some other
park music that had begun to reach my ears at an earlier time. It
came from Rousseau Island and drove the skaters looping and
whirling on New Lake. I wa among them long before I had any
conception of the source of the island's name, not to mention the
difculty of his style. Through it position this ice rink wa com­
parable to no other, and still more by virtue of its life through the
seasons : for what did summer make of the rest? Tennis courts. But
here, under the overhanging branche of the tree along the bank,
stretched a lake connected to labyrinthine waterways, and now
one skated under the little arched bridge where in summer one
had leaned on balustrades, or on chains held by lions' mouths,
watching the boats gliding in the dark water. There were serpentine
paths near the lake and, above all, the tender retreat of lonely old
men, benche for "adult only" at the edge of the sand pit with its
ditches, where toddler dig or stand sunk in thought until bumped
by a playmate or roused by the voice of a nursemaid from the bench
of command; there she sits, ster and studious, reading her novel
and keeping the child in check while hardly raising an eyelid
until, her labour done, she changes place with the nurse at the
other end of the bench, who is holding the baby between her knees
and knitting. Old, solitary men found their way here, paying due
honour, amid these scatterbrained womenfolk, among the
shrieking children, t the serious side of life: the newspaper. Even
if the girl I loved, after tarrying long on the paths of this garden,
had lef at last, there wa nowhere I liked staying to think of her
A Berlin Chronicle 297
better than on a backles bench in one of those playgrounds, and I
never swept the sand from where I was going to sit down. All these
picture I have preserved. But none would bring back New Lake
and a few hour of my childhood so vividly as to hear once more the
bar of music to which my feet, heavy with their skate after a lone
excursion acros the bustling ice, touched the familiar planks and
stumbled past the chocolate-dispensing slot machines, and past the
more splendid one with a hen laying candy-flled eggs, through the
doorway behind which glowed the anthracite stove, to the bench
where you now savoured for a while the weight of the iron rails
on your feet, which did not yet reach the ground, before resolving
to unbuckle them. If you then slowly rested one calf on the other
knee and unscrewed the skate, it was a if in it place you had
suddenly grown wings, and you went out with step that nodded
to the frozen ground.
And then my ffth guide : Franz Hessel. I do not mean his book
On Foot in Berlin, which was written later, but the Celebration that
our walks together in Paris received in our native city, as if we were
returning to harbour, the jetty still rising and falling as on waves
under the feet of strolling seamen. The centrepiece of this Celebra­
tion, however, was the "Green Meadow" -a bed that still stands
high above the couche spreading all around, on which we
composed a small, complaisant, orientally pallid epilogue to those
great, sleeping feasts with which, a few years earlier in Paris, the
Surrealists had unwittingly inaugurated their reactionary career,
thus fulflling the text that the Lord giveth unto his own in sleep.
On this meadow we spread out such women as still amused us at
home, but they were few. From beneath lowered lids our gaze
often met, better than on drafty stairways, the palms, carytids,
windows, and niche from which the "Tiergarten mythology" was
evolving as the frst chapter of a science of this city. It prospered, for
we had been astute enough to gather to us girls from the most
latinate quarter and in general to _ observe the Parisian custom of
residing in the quartier. True, the quartier in Berlin is unfortunately
an afair of the well-to-do, and neither Wedding nor Reinickendorf
nor Tegel bear comparison on this account with Menilmontant,
Auteuil, or Neuilly.
All the more gratifying, therefore, were marauding Sunday­
afternoon excursions on which we discovered an arcade in the
Moabit quarter, the Stettin tunnel, or liberty in front of the
Wallner Theatre. A girl photographer wa with us. And it seems
to me, a I think of Berlin, that only the side of the city that we
explored at that time is truly receptive to photography. For the
closer we come to its present-day, fuid, functional existence, the
narrower draws the circle of what can b photographed; it has
been rightly observed that photography records practically nothing
of the essence of, for example, a modem factory. Such pictures can
perhap be compared to railway stations, which, in this age when
railways are beginning to b out of date, are no longer, generally
speaking, the true "gateways" through which the city unrolls its
outskirts a it doe along the approach roads for motorists. A station
give the order, as it were, for a surprise attack, but it is an outdated
manoeuvre that confront us with the archaic, and the same is
true of photography, even the snapshot. Only film commands
optical approache to the essence of the city, such a conducting
the motorist into the new centre.
The fourth guide.* Not to find one's way in a city may well be
u
E
interesting and banal. It require ignorance-nothing more.
But to lose oneself in a city-a one lose oneself in a forest-that
call for quite a diferent schooling. Then, signboards and street
names, passers-by, roofs, kiosks, or bars must speak to the wanderer
like a cracking twig under his feet in the forest, like the startling
call ofa bitter in the distance, like the sudden stillnes ofa clearing
with a lily standing erect at its centre. Paris taught me this art of
stra
)
i

g
;
it fulflled a dream that had s
ho�i
it f

st traces in the
labyrinths on the blotting page of my school exercise books. Nor
is it to b denied that I penetrated to its innermost place, the
Minotaur's chamber, with the only diference being that thi
mythological monster had three heads : those of the occupants of
the small brothel on rue de la Harpe, in which, summoning my last
• Benjamin is referring to Paris. [NLB] .
A Berlin Chronicle 2
99
reserve of strength ( and not entirely without an Ariadne's thread),
I set my foot. But if Paris thus answered my most uneasy expecta­
tions, from another side it surpassed my graphic fantasies. The
city, a it disclosed itself to me in the footsteps of a hermetic
tradition that I can trace back at least a far as Rilke and whose
guardian at that time wa Franz Hessel, wa a maze not only of
paths but als of tunnels. I cannot think of the underworld of the
Metro and the North-South line opening their hundreds of shafts
all over the city, without recalling my endles jneries.
The most remarkable of all the street image from my early
childhood, however-more s even than the arrival of the bears,
which I witnessed at the side of a nursemaid, or it may have been
my French governess-more remarkable than the racecourse that
passed Schillstrasse or ended there, is-it must have been about
I goo-a completely deserted stretch of road upon which ponderous
torrents of water continuously thundered down. I had been caught
up i a local foo disaster, but in other ways, too, the idea of
extraordinary events is inseparable from that day; possibly we had
been sent home from school. In any case, this situation lef behind
an alarm signal ; my strength must have been failing, and in the
midst of the asphalt streets of the city I felt exposed to the power of
nature; in a primeval forest I should not have been more abandoned
than here on Kurftirstenstrasse, between the columns of water.
How I reached the bronze lions' mouths on our front door with
their rings that were now life belts, I cannot remember.
Ride to the station in the rattling taxi, skirting the Landwehr
Canal while, among the dirty cushions, the weekly evening
gathering in the drawing room or the living room of my parents'
apartment, which had just neared its end, for a week at least, was
revived with stricken violence. And s it was not what impended
that weighed so terrifyingly upon me, or even the parting from
what had been, but that which still continued, persisted, asserting
itself even in this frst stage of the journey. The destination of such
rides would usually have been the Anhalt Station-where you
took the train to Suderode or Hahnenklee, to Bad Salzschlirf or­
in the later years-to Freudenstadt. But now and again it was
300
Arendsee, too, or Heiligendamm, and then you went by the Stettin
Station. I believe it is since that time that the dune of the Baltic
landscap have appeared to me like aJat morgan here on Chaus­
seestrasse, supported only by the yellow, sandy colour ofthe station
building and the boundles horizon opening in my imagination
behind it walls.
But this vista would indeed be delusive i it did not make visible
the medium in which alone such image take form, assuming a
transparency in which, however mistily, the contours of what is to
come are delineated like mountain peaks. The present in which
the writer lives is this medium. And in it he now cut another sec­
tion through the sequence of his experiences. He detects in them a
new and disturbing articulation. First, his early childhood,
enclosing him in the district where he lived-the old or the new
West End, where the clas that had pronounced him one of its
number resided in a posture compounded of self-satisfaction and
resentment that turned it into something like a ghetto held on
lease. In any case, he wa confined to this afuent quarter without
knowing of any other. The poor? For rich children of his generation
the lived at the back of beyond. And i at this early age he could
picture the poor, it was, without his knowing either name or origin,
in the image of the tramp who is actually a rich man, though
without money, since he stands-far removed from the proces of
x production and the exploitation not yet abstracted from it-in
the same contemplative relation to his destitution a the rich man
to his wealth. The child's frst excursion into the exotic world of
abject poverty characteristically took written for (only by chance,
perhaps, one of his first excursion to do so) , being the depiction of
a sandwich man and his humiliation at the hands of the public,
who did not trouble even to take the leafets he held out to them,
s that the wretched man-thus the story ended-secretly
jettisoned his entire consignment. Certainly a wholly unfruitful
solution to the problem, already announcing the fight into
sabotage and anarchism that later make it s difcult for the
intellectual to see things clearly. Perhap the same sabotage of real
social existence is to b found even later in my manner, already
A Berlin Chronicle 301
described, of walking in the city, in the stubborn refusal under any
circumstance to form a united front, b it even with my own
mother. There is no doubt, at any rate, that a feeling of crossing
the threshold of one's clas for the frst time had a part in the
almost unequalled fascination of publicly accosting a whore in the
street. At the beginning, however, this wa a crossing of frontiers
not only social but topographical, in the sense that whole networks
I of streets were opened up under the auspice of prostitution. But is
it really a crossing, is it not, rather, an obstinate and voluptuous
hovering on the brink, a hesitation that ha its most cogent motive
in the circumstance that beyond this frontier lies nothingness ?
But the place are countles in the great cities where one stands on
the edge of the void, and the whore in the doorways of tenement
blocks and on the les sonorous asphalt of railway platforms are
like the household goddesse of this cult of nothingness. So on
thes erring paths the stations became my especial habitat, each
with its outskirt like a city: the Silesian, Stettin, Gorlitz stations,
and Friedrichstrasse.
Just as there are, for children, fairy tales in which a witch or
even a fairy holds a whole forest in thrall, as a child I knew a street
that wa ruled and occupied entirely by a woman, even though
she was always enthroned in her bay window, one minute's walk
from the house in which I was born: Aunt Lehmann. The stairs
rose steeply to her room from just behind the hall door; it wa dark
on them, until the door opened and the brittle voice bid us a thin
"good-morning" and directed us to place before us on the table the
glas rhombus containing the mine, in which little men pushed
wheelbarrows, laboured with pickaxes, and shone lanterns into
the shaft in which buckets were winched perpetually up and down.
On account of this aunt and her mine, Steglitzer Strass could
henceforth, for me, never b named after Steglitz. A goldfinch
[Stieglitz] in its cage bore greater resemblance to this street
harbouring the aunt at her window than the Berlin suburb that
meant nothing to me. Where it joins Genthiner Strasse, it is one
of the streets least touched by the change of the last thirty years.
302
In the back rooms and attics, as guardians of the past, numerous
prostitute have established themselve here, who, during the
infation period, brought the district the reputation of being a
theatre of the most squalid diversions. Needles to say, no one could
ever determine on which storie the impoverished opened their
drawing rooms, and their daughters their. skirts, to rich Americans.
Climbing the stairs in this fashion, * with nothing before me
but boots and calves, and the scraping of hundreds of feet in my
ears, I was often seized-I seem to remember-by revulsion at
being hemmed i by this multitude, and again, a on those walks
in the city with my mother, solitude appeared to me as the only
ft state of man. Very understandably, for such a mob of school
children is among the most formless and ignoble of all masses, and
betrays it bourgeois origin in representing, like every assembly
of that class, the most rudimentary organizational form that its
individual member can give their reciprocal relationships. The
corridors, and the classrooms that fnally came into view, are
among the horrors that have embedded themselve most ineradic­
ably in me, that is to say, in my dreams; and these have taken
revenge on the monotony, the cold torpor that overcame me at
each crossing of the classroom thresholds, by turning themselves
into the arena of the most extravagant events. The backdrop was
often the fear of having to take the Abitur again (under more
unfavourable conditions) , a position in which I had been placed by
my own recklessnes and folly. Undoubtedly, these rooms lend
themselves to dreamlike representation; there is something night­
marish even in the sober recollection of the damp odour of sweat
secreted by the stone step that I had to hasten up fve times or
more each day. The school, outwardly in goo repair, was in its
architecture and situation among the most desolate. It matched
its emblem, a plaster statue of the Emperor Frederick, which had
been deposited in a remote corner of the playground ( admittedly
one favoured by horde engaged in martial games) , puny and
* The beginning of this passage is missing in the manuscript; Benjamin is talking
about his school experiences. [NLB] .
A Berlin Chronicle 303
pitiful against a fire wall. According to a school legend it was, if I
am not mistaken, a donation. This monument, unlike the class­
rooms, was never washed, and had acquired in the course of years
an admirable coat of dirt and soot. It still stands today in its
appointed place. But soot descends upon it daily from the passing
municipal railway. It i far from impossible that my uncommon
aversion to this railway date from this time, since all the people
sitting at their windows seemed enviable to me. They could aford
to ignore the school clock that held sway above our heads, and quite
unaware they cut through the invisible bars of our timetable cage.
They could only b seen, incidentally, during the breaks, for the
lower pane of the classroom windows were of frosted glass.
"Vagabond clouds, sailor of the skies" had for us the absolute
precision that the verse holds for prisoners. Moreover, little about
the actual classrooms has remained in my memory except these
exact emblems of imprisonment : the frosted windows and the
infamous carved wooden battlements over the doors. It would not
surprise me to hear that the cupboards, too, were crowned with
such adornments, not to mention the pictures of the Kaiser on
the walls. Heraldic and chivalrous obtusenes shone forth wherever
possible. In the great hall, however, it was most ceremoniously
united with art nouveau. A crude, extravagant ornament stretched
with stif grey-green limbs acros the panelling ofthe walls. Referen­
ces to objects were no more to b found in it than reference to his­
tory; nowhere did it ofer the eye the slightest refuge, while the ear
was helplessly abandoned to the clatter of idiotic harangues. All the
same, one of these occasions i perhaps noteworthy for the efect it
had on me for years afterward. It wa the leave-taking ceremony
for those who had graduated. Here, a in several other places, I
fnd in my memory rigidly fixed words, expressions, verses that,
like a malleable mass that has later cooled and hardened, preserve
in me the imprint of the collision between a larger collective and
mysel£ Just as a certain kind of signifcant dream survives awaken­
ing in the form of words when all the rest of the dream content has
vanished, here isolated words have remained in place a marks of
catastrophic encounters. Among them i one in which for me the
whole atmosphere of the school is condensed; I heard it when,
having hitherto received only private tutoring, I was sent for my
first morning, on a trial basis, to what wa later to become the
Kaiser Friedrich School, but at that time was still situated on
Passauerstrasse. This word that still adhere in my mind to a
phlegmatic, fat, unbecoming fgure of a boy is the following:
ringleader. Nothing else is lef of this earliest school experience. It
was re-enacted in similar form, however, some six years later, when
I spent my frst day in alien and threatening circumstances in
Haubinda and was asked by a tall, hostile-seeming lout who played
a prominent part in the class whether my "old man" had already
left. This common piece of schoolboy parlance wa entirely un­
familiar to me. A abys opened before me, which I sought to
bridge with a laconic protest. Here in the great hall it wa the verses
with which the school choir began the farewell song to the leavers
-"Brother now may we I your companions be I in the world so
wide" -followed by something containing the words "loyally by
your side" ; at any rate these were the verses that enabled me year
by year to take the measure of my own weakness. For no matter
how palpably the abominable goings-on at school were daily
before my eyes, the melody of thi song seemed to surround the
departure from this hell with infnite melancholy. But by the time
it wa addressed to me and my clas it must have made little
impression, for I remember nothing of it. More remarkable are
some other verse that I heard once in the gymnasium dressing
room after the lesson, and never forgot. Why? Perhap because
"Schulze" -a the imprudent boy who knew the lines was called­
wa rather pretty, perhap because I thought them true, but most
probably because the situation in which they were spoken, one of
frenetic, military hyper-activity, wa s utterly appropriate.
"Loitering at the rear I you never need fear I neurasthenia. "
If I write better German than most writer of my generation,
it is thanks largely to twenty years' observance of one little rule :
never use the word "I" except in letters. The exceptions to this
precept that I have permitted myself could b counted. Now this
A Berlin Chronicle 305
ha had a curious consequence that is intimately connected to
these notes. For when one day it was
;
suggested that I should write,
from day to day in a loosely subjective form, a series of glosses on
everything that seemed noteworthy in Berlin-and when I agreed
-it became suddenly clear that this subject, accustomed for years
to waiting in the wings, would not s easily b summoned to the
limelight. But far from protesting, it relied on ruse, s successfully
that I believed a retrospective glance at what Berlin had become
for me in the course of years would b an appropriate "preface"
to such glosses. If the preface has now far exceeded the space
originally allotted to the glosses, thi is not only the mysterious
work of remembrance-which is really the capacity for endless
interpolations into what ha been-but also, at the same time, the
precaution of the subject represented by the "I", which is entitled
not to b sold cheap. Now there is one district of Berlin with which
this subject is more closely connected than any other that it ha
consciously experienced. To b sure, there are part of the city in
which it was destined to have equally deep and harrowing experi­
ences, but in none of them wa the place itself s much a part of
the event. The district I am talking of is the Tiergarten quarter.
There, in a back wing of one of the houses standing nearest the
municipal railway viaduct, was the "Meeting House". It wa a
small apartment that I had rented jointly with the student Ernst
Joel. How we had agreed on this I no longer remember; it can
hardly have been simple, for the student "Group for Social Work"
led by Joel was, during the term in which I wa president of the
Berlin Free Students' Union, a chief target of my attacks, and it
wa precisely a leader of this group that Joel had signed the lease,
while my contribution secured the rights of the "debating cham­
ber" to the
"
Meeting House. The distribution of the rooms between
the two groups-whether of a spatial or a temporal character­
wa very sharply defned, and i any case, for me at that time only
the debating group mattered.
My co-signatory, Ernst Joel, and I were on less than cordial
terms, and I had no inkling of the magical aspect of the city that
this same Joel, ffteen year later, wa to reveal to me. S his image
appears In me at this stage only as an answer to the question
whether forty is not to young an age at which to evoke the most
important memorie of one's life. For this image is already now
that of a dead man, and who knows how he might have been able
to help me cros this threshold, with memorie of even the most
external and superfcial things? To the other threshold he had no
access, and of all those who once had it I alone remain. I should
never have thought that I should seek him by thi topographical
route. But if! call to mind the first trial run I made in this direction,
more than ten year ago now, the earlier and more modest essay
has the better of the comparison. It was in Heidelberg, during
what was undoubtedly self-forgetful work, that I tried to summon
up, in a meditation on the nature of the lyric, the fgure of my friend
Fritz Heinle, around whom all the happenings in the Meeting
House arrange themselves and with whom they vanish. Fritz
Heinle was a poet, and the only one of them all whom I met not
"in real life" but in his work. He died at nineteen, and could be
known in no other way. All the same, this frst attempt to evoke the
sphere of his life through that of poetry wa unsuccessful, and the
immediacy of the experience that gave rise to my lecture asserted
itself irresistibly in the incomprehension and snobbery of the
audience, who came to hear it at the house of Marianne Weber. No
matter how much memory ha subsequently paled, o how indis­
tinctly I can now give an account of the rooms in the Meeting
House, it nevertheles seems to me today more legitimate to
attempt to delineate the outward space the dead man inhabited,
indeed the room where he was "announced", than the inner space
in which he created. But perhap that is only because, in this last
and most crucial year of his life, he traversed the space i which I
wa born. Heinle's Berlin was the Berlin of the Meeting House. He
lived at this perio in closest proximity to it, in a fourth-foor room
on Klopstockstrasse. I once visited him there. It was after a long
separation resulting from a serious dissension between us. But even
today I remember the smile that lifted the whole weight of these
weeks of separation, that turned a probably insignifcant phrase
into a magic formula that healed the wound. Later, after the
A Berlin Chronicle
307
morning when an express lettef,awoke me with the words "You
will fnd us lying in the Meeting House" -when Heinle and his
girl friend were dead-this district remained for a perio the central
meeting place of the living. Today, however, when I recall its
old-fashioned apartment houses, its many trees dust-covered in
summer, the cumbersome iron-and-stone constructions of the
municipal railway cutting through it, the sparse streetcars spaced
at great intervals, the sluggish water of the Landwehr Canal that
marked the district of from the proletarian quarters of Moab it, the
splendid but wholly unfrequented cluster of tree in the Schlosspark
Bellevue, and the unspeakably cruel hunting group flanking
its approach at the star-shaped intersection of roads-today this
point in space where we chanced then to open our Meeting House
is for me the strictest pictorial expression of the point in history
occupied by this last true elite of bourgeois Berlin. It was as close
to the abyss of the Great War a the Meeting House wa to the steep
slope down to the Landwehr Canal, it was as sharply divided from
proletarian youth as the houses of this rentiers' quarter were from
those of Moabit, and the house were the last of their line just as
the occupants of those apartments were the last who could appease
the clamorous shade of the dispossessed with philanthropic
ceremonies. In spite-or perhap because-of this, there is no
doubt that the city of Berlin was never again to impinge so force­
fully on my existence a it did in that epoch when we believed we
could leave it untouched, only improving its schools, only breaking
the inhumanity of their inmates' parents, only making a place in
it for the words of Holderlin or George. It wa a fnal, heroic
attempt to change the attitudes of people without changing their
circumstances. We did not know that it was bound to fail, but
there wa hardly one of us whose resolve such knowledge could
have altered. And today, a clearly a at that time, even if on the
basis of entirely diferent reasoning, I understand that the
"language of youth" had to stand at the centre of our associations.
Nor do I know today of any truer expression of our impotence
than the struggle that seemed the pinnacle of our strength and our
exuberance, even if the shadow of downfall, cast by the incompre-
308
hension of the audience, was seldom more palpable than on that
evening. I think here of an altercation between Heinle and myself
on an evening at the Aktion. * Originally only a speech by me
entitled "Youth" had been on the agenda. I took it for granted that
its text should be known to our closest circle before it wa delivered.
Scarcely had this happened, however, when Heinle raised objec­
tions. Whether he wanted to speak himself or to impose alterations
on me that I refused-the upshot wa an ugly quarrel into which,
a always happens on such occasions, the whole existence of each
participant wa drawn-Heinle's side being taken by the youngest
of the three sisterst around whom the most important events used
to gravitate, as if the fact that a Jewish widow was living with
her three daughters represented, for a group seriously intent upon
the abolition of the family, an appropriate base from which to
launch an attack. In short, the girl reinforced her friend's demands.
But I was not prepared to yield, either. So it happened that on that
evening at the Aktion, before an astonished but less-than-captivated
audience, two speeches with the same title and almost exactly
identical text were delivered, and in truth the latitude within
which the "Youth Movement" had to manoeuvre wa no larger
than the area bounded by the nuances of those speeches. Thinking
about the two speeches today, I should like to compare them to the
clashing islands in the legend of the Argonauts, the Symplegades,
between which no ship can pas in safety and where, at that time,
a sea oflove and hatred tossed. Assemblies of bourgeois intellectuals
were then far commoner than nowadays, since they had not yet
recognized their limits. We may say, however, that we felt those
limits, even if much time was to pass before the realization
matured that no one can improve his school or his parental home
without frst smashing the state that needs bad ones. We felt these
limits when we held our discussions, at which the younger among
us spoke of the brutalities they had to endure at home, in drawing
• DU Aktion, a political journal of revolutionary tendency, founded in 1 91 I by
Franz Pfemfert, dedicated to the revolution in literature and the visual arts.
t Traute, Carla, and Rika Seligson. [NLB] .
A Berlin Chronicle
309
rooms kindly made available by parents who at bottom thought
no diferently from those we wished to oppose. We felt them when
we older member held our literary evenings in rooms at beerhouses
that were never for a moment safe from the serving waiters ; we
felt them when we were obliged to receive our lady friends in
furnished rooms with doors we were not at liberty to lock; we felt
them in our dealings with owners of public rooms and with porters,
with relations and guardians. And when, finally, after August 8,
1 91 4, the days came when those among us who were closest to the
dead couple did not want to part from them until they were
buried, we felt the limits in the shame of being able to fnd refuge
only in a seedy railway hotel on Stuttgart Square. Even the
graveyard demonstrated the boundaries set by the city to all that
flled our hearts : it was impossible to procure for the pair who had
died together graves in one and the same cemetery. But those were
days that ripened a realization that was to come later, and that
planted in me the conviction that the city of Berlin would also not
be spared the scar of the struggle for a better order. If I chance
today to pass through the streets of the quarter, I set foot in them
with the same uneasiness that one feels when entering an attic
unvisited for years. Valuable thing may be lying around, but
nobody remember where. And in truth this dead quarter with its
tall apartment houses is today the junk room of the West End
bourgeoisie.
That was the time when the Berlin cafes played a part in our
lives. I still remember the frst that I took in consciously. This was
much earlier, immediately after my graduation. The Viktoria
Cafe, where our first communal jaunt ended at three in the morn­
ing, no longer exists. Its place-on the corner of Friedrichstrasse
and Vnter den Linden-ha been taken by one of the noisiest
luxury cafes of new Berlin, against which the earlier one, however
luxurious it may have been in it day, stands out with all the magic
of the age of chandeliers, mirrored walls and plush comfort. This
old Viktoria Cafe was on that occasion our last port of call, and we
doubtles reached it a depleted group. It must have been more than
3/0
half empty-at any rate I can discern, through the veils that mask
the image today, no one apart from a few whores, who seemed to
have the spaciou cafe to themselves. We did not stay long, and I
do not know whethe I paid the Viktoria Cafe, which must have
disappeared soon afer, a second visit. The time had not yet
arrived when the frequenting of cafes wa a daily need, and it can
hardly have been Berlin that fostered this vice in me, however
well the vice later adapted itself to the establishments of that city,
which leads far to strenuous and conscious a life of pleasure to
know real cofeehouses. Our frst cafe, accordingly, wa more a
strategic quarter than a place of siesta. And I have thus unmis­
takably revealed its name: as is well known, the headquarter of
bohemians until the first war years wa the old West End Cafe. It
wa in this cafe that we sat together in those very frst August days,
choosing among the barracks that were being stormed by the
onrush of volunteers. We decided on the cavalry on Belle-Alliance
Strasse, where I duly appeared on one of the following days, no
spark of martial fervour in my breast ; yet however reserved I may
have been in my thoughts, which were concerned only with
securing a place among friends in the inevitable conscription, one
of the bodie jammed in front of the barracks gate was mine.
Admittedly only for two days : on August 8 came the event that
wa to banish for long after both the city and the war from my mind.
I ofen saw Heinle in the West End Cafe. We usually met there
late, about twelve. I cannot say that we had close relations to the
literary Bohemia whose days, or nights, were spent there; we were a
self-contained group, the world of our "movement" was diferent
from that of the emancipated people around us, and contacts
with them were only feeting. A mediator between the two sides
for a period was Franz Pfemfert, editor of Di Aktion; our relations
with him were purely Machiavellian. Els Lasker-Schuler once
drew me t her table; Wieland Herzfelde; then a young student,
wa t b seen there, and Simon Guttmann, to whom I shall
return; but the list here reache the boundarie of our narrower
world. I believe we were alien to the cafe ; the feverish concentra­
tion induced by concer with s many rival actions, the organiza-
A Berlin Chronicle
31 1
tion of the Free Students' Union and the development of the
debating chambers, the elaboration of our speeche in large
assemblies of pupils, help for comrade in need, care for those
imperilled by entanglement either of friendship or of love-all
this set us apart from the sated, self-assured bohemians about us.
Heinle was more closely acquainted with one or another of them,
such as fhe painter Meidner, who drew him; but this connection
remained unfruitful for us. Then, one day in Switzerland, I read
that the West End Cafe had been closed. I had never been much
at home in it. At that time I did not yet possess that passion for
waiting without which one cannot thoroughly appreciate the
charm ofa cafe. And in see myself waiting one night amid tobacco
smoke on the sofa that encircled one of the central columns, it was
no doubt in feverish expectation of the outcome of some negotiation
at the debating chamber, or of one of the mediators who were
brought into play when tensions had once again reached an
unbearable pitch. I came to b on much more intimate terms with
the neighbouring cafe, which had it beginning during the perio
I now refer to. This was the Princes Cafe. In an attempt to create a
"Physiology of Cofeehouses", one's first and most superficial
classifcation would b into professional and recreational estab­
lishments. If, however, one leave aside the most brazen entertain­
ment place run along industrial lines, it becomes very noticeable
that in the development of most hostelries the two functions
coincide. A particularly telling example is the history of the
Romanische Cafe from exactly the moment when the proprietor
of the West End Cafe evicted his clientele. Very soon the Romanische
Cafe accommodated the bohemians, who, in the years immediately
afte the war, were able to feel themselves master of the house.
The legendary, now-departed waiter Richard, distributor of
newspapers-a hunchback who on account of his bad reputation
enjoyed high esteem in these circles-was the symbol of their
dominance. When the German economy began to recover, the
bohemian contingent visibly lost the threatening nimbus that had
surrounded them in the era of the Expressionist revolutionary
manifestoes. The bourgeois revised his relationship to the inmates
31
2
of the Cafe Megalomania (as the Romanische Cafe soon came to be
called) and found that everything was back to normal. At this
moment the physiognomy of the Romanische Cafe began to change.
The "artists" withdrew into the background, to become more and
more a part of the furniture, while the bourgeois, represented by
stock-exchange speculators, managers, film and theatre agents,
literary-minded clerks, began to occupy the place-a a place of
relaxation. For one of the most elementary and indispensable
diversions of the citizen of a great metropolis, wedged, day in, day
out, in the structure of his ofce and family amid an infnitely
variegated social environment, is to plunge into another world,
the more exotic the better. Hence the bars haunted by artists and
criminals. The distinction between the two, from this point of view,
is slight. The history of the Berlin cofeehouses is largely that of
diferent strata of the public, those who frst conquered the floor
being obliged to make way for others gradually pressing forward,
and thus to ascend the stage.
Such a stage, for Heinle and me, wa the Princes Cafe, which
we were in the habit of patronizing a occupants of private boxes.
The latter should b taken almost literally, for this cafe, designed by
Lucian Bernhard, an interior decorator and poster artist much in
demand at that time, ofered its visitors an abundance of snug
recesses, standing historically midway between the chambres
separees and the cofee parlours. The profession primarily served
by this establishment is therefore clear. And when we visited it,
indeed made it for a time our regular meeting place, it wa certainly
on account of the cocottes. Heinle wrote "Princes Cafe" at that
time. "Door draw coolnes over through the song. " We had no
intention of making acquaintance in this cafe. On the contrary­
what attracted us here was being enclosed in an environment that
isolated us. Every distinction between us and the literary coteries
of the city wa welcome to us. This one, to be sure, more s than
all others. And that certainly had to do with the cocottes. But this
leads into a subterranean stratum of the Youth Movement, reached
by way of an artist's studio in Halensee, to which we shall return.
It is quite possible that S. Guttmann, its occupant, met us here,
A Berlin Chronicle 3 13
too, from time to time. I have no recollection of it, just a in general,
here more than elsewhere, the human fgure recede before the
place itself and none of them is a vividly present to me as a forlorn,
approximately circular chamber in the upper story, hung with
violet drapery and illuminated with a violet glow, in which many
seats were always empty, wh�le on others couple took up as little
space as possible. I called this amphitheatre the "anatomy
school". Later, when this epoch was long since closed, I sat long
evenings there, close to a jazz band, discreetly consulting sheets
and slips of paper, writing my Origin r German Tragi Drama.
When one day a new "renovation" set in, turning the Princess
Cafe into Cafe Stenwyk, I gave up. Today it has sunk to the level
of a beerhouse.
Never again has music possessed so dehumanized and shameless
a quality as that of the two brass bands that tempered the floo of
people surging torpidly along "Scandal Avenue" between the
cafe restaurants of the Zoo. Today I perceive what gave this fow
its elemental force. For the city dweller there wa no higher school
of firtation than this, surrounded by the sandy precincts of gnus
and zebras, the bare tree and clefts where vultures and condors
nested, the stinking enclosure of wolves, and the hatcheries of
pelicans and herons. The calls and screeches of these animals
mingled with the noise of drums and percussion. Thi wa the air
in which the glance of a boy fell for the frst time on a passing girl,
while he talked all the more zealously to his friend. And such
were his eforts to betray himself neither by his eyes nor his voice
that he saw nothing of her.
At that time the Zoological Garden still had an entrance by
the Lichtenstein Bridge. Of the three gates it wa the least fre­
quented, and gave acces to the park's most deserted quarter : an
avenue that, with the milk-white orbs of its candelabras, resembled
some deserted promenade at Wiesbaden or Pyrmont; and before
the economic crisis had s depopulated these resorts that they
seemed more antique than Roman spas, this dead corner of the
Zoological Garden was an image of what was to come, a prophesy-
31
4
ing place. It must be considered certain that there are such places ;
indeed, just a there are plants that primitive people claim coner
I the power of clairvoyance, so there are place endowed with such
power : they may be deserted promenades, or treetops, particularly
in towns, seen against walls, railway level-crossings, and above
all the thresholds that mysteriously divide the district of a town.
The Lichtenstein gate wa really such a threshold, between the
two West End parks. It was as if in both, at the point where they
were nearest, life paused. And this daily desertion wa the more
keenly felt by one who remembered the dazzling approach to be
seen on festal nights for a number of years from a doorway of the
Adler ballrooms, which has fallen now into just such disuse as has
this long-closed gate.
'" Language shows clearly that memory is not an instrument for
exploring the past but its theatre. It is the medium of past experi­
ence, a the ground is the medium in which dead citie lie interred.
'
He who seeks to approach his own buried past must conduct
himself like a man digging. This confer the tone and bearing of
genuine reminiscences. He must not b afraid to retur again and
, again to the same matter; to scatter it a on
� ;� ;  �
arth; 'to
tu
r
it over as one turns

ver soil. For the matter itself is only a
deposit, a stratum, which
)
i

lds
_

ly to the most meticulous
examination what constitute the real treasure hidden within the
earth: the images, severed from all earlier associations, that stand­
like precious fragments or torso in a collector's gallery-in the
prosaic rooms of our later understanding. True, for successful
excavations a plan is needed. Yet no les indispensable is the
cautious probing of the spade in the dark loam, and it is to cheat
oneself of the richest prize to preserve as a record merely the
inventory of one's discoveries, and not this dark joy of the place of
the finding itsel£ Fruitles searching is as much a part of this as
succeeding, and consequently remembrance must not proceed in
I
the manner of a narrative or still 1; that of
'
-
;
eport, but must,
i
n
I
i
'
the strict
e
st epic and rh
-
apsodic m
'
anner, assay its spade in ever­
"
new places, and in the old ones delve to ever-de
e
perIaYers.
A Berlin Chronicle 3 15
It is true that countles falade of the city stand exactly a they
stoo in my childhood. Yet I do not encounter my childhood in
their contemplation. My gaze ha brushed them to often since,
to often they have been fe dco and theatre of my walks and
concerns. And the few exceptions to this rule-above all St.
Matthew's Church on St. Matthe�'s Square-are perhap only
I
apparently so. For did I as a child really frequent the remote
.
·
corner where it stands, did I even know it? I cannot tell. What it
says to me ioday it owes solely to the edifce itself: the church with
the two pointed, gabled roof over its two side aisles, and the
yellow-and-ochre brick of which it is built. It is an old-fashioned
church, of which the same is true as of many an old-fashioned
building: although they were not young with us and perhaps did
not even know u when we were children, they have much know­
ledge of our childhood, and for this we love them. But I should con­
front myself at that age in qui te a diferent way had I the courage to
enter a certain front door that I have passed thousands upon
thousands of times. A front door in the old West End. True, my
eyes no longer see it, or the falade of the house. My sole would
doubtless b the frst to send me word, once I had closed the door
behind me, that on this wor staircase they tro in ancient tracks,
and if I no longer cross the threshold of that house it is for fear of an
encounter with this stairway interior, which has conserved in
seclusion the power to recognize me that the falade lost long ago.
For with its columned windows it ha stayed the same, even if
within the living quarter all is changed. Bleak verses flled the
intervals between our heartbeats, when we paused exhausted on
the landings between floors. They glimmered or shone from panes
in which a woman with nut-brown eyebrows floated alof with a
goblet from a niche, and while the strap of my satchel cut into my
shoulder I wa forced to read, "Industry adorns the burgher,
blessednes is toil's reward. " Outside it may have been raining.
One of the coloured windows wa open, and to the beat of raindrops
the upward march resumed.
Motto: 0 brown-baked column of victory
With children's sugar from the winter days.
I never slept on the street in Berlin. I saw sunset and dawn, but
between the two I found myself a shelter. Only those for whom
poverty or vice turns the city into a landscape in which they stray
from dark till sunrise know it in a way denied to me. I always
found quarters, even though sometime tardy and also unknown
ones that I did not revisit and where I wa not alone. If I paused
thus late in a doorway, my legs had become entangled in the ribbons
of the streets, and it was not the cleanest of hands that freed me.
Reminiscences, even extensive ones, do not always amount to an
autobiography. And these quite certainly do not, even for the
Berlin year that I am exclusively concerned with here. For
autobiography has to do with time, with sequence and what makes
up the continuous flow of life. Here, I am talking of a space, of
moments and discontinuities.

!
r tyell ifIllQPths and:c<r appear
here, it is in the form they have at the moment of recollection. This
strange form-it may b called fleeting or eternal -is in neither
case the stuf that life is made o( And this is shown not so much by
the role that my own life plays here, a by that of the people closest
to me in Berlin-whoever and whenever they may have been. The
a�mosphere of the city that is here evoked allots them only a
brief shadowy existence. They steal along its walls like beggars,
appear wraithlike at windows, to vanish again, snif at thresholds
like a geniu loci, and even if they fll whole quarter with their
names, it is as a dead man's flls his gravestone. Noisy, matter-of­
fact Berlin, the city of work and the metropolis of business,
nevertheles has more, rather than less, than some others, of those
places and moments when i� bear witnes to the dead, shows itself
full of dead; and the obscure awarenes of these moments, these
places, perhaps more than anything else, confers on childhood
memories a quality that makes them at once a evanescent and as
alluringly tormenting as half-forgotten dreams. For childhood,
knowing no preconceived opinions, has none about life. It is as
\ dearly attached ( though with just as strong reservations) to the
realm of the dead, where it juts into that of the living, a to life
itself How far a child ha acces to the past is difcult to tell, and
A Berlin Chronicle 3
I
7
depends on many things-time, environment, its nature and
education. The limitation of my own feeling for the Berlin that is
not cir.cumscribed by a few facts about the Stratau Fair and
Frederick in 1 848-that is, for the topographical tradition
representing the connection with the dead of this ground­
results entirely from the circumstance that neither of my parents'
families were natives of Berlin. That sets a limit to the child's
memory-and it is this limit, rather than childhood experience
itself that is manifest in what follows. Wherever this boundary
may have been drawn, however, the second half of the nineteenth
century certainly lie within it, and to it belong the following
images, not in the manner of general representations, but of images
that, according to the teaching of Epicurus, constantly detach
themselves from things and determine our perception of them.
First of all, let no one think we were talking of a Markt-Halle
[covered market] . No: it was pronounced "Mark- Talle", and j ust
as these words were eroded by the habit of speech until none retained
its original "sense", so by the habit of this walk all the images it
ofered were wor away, so that none of them conforms to the
original concept of buying and selling.
Behind us lay the forecourt, with its dangerous, heavy swing
door on their whiplash springs, and we had now set foot on the
fagstones, slippery with fsh water or swill, on which you could so
easily slip on carrots or lettuce leaves. Behind wire partitions, each
bearing a number, were ensconced the ponderous ladies, priestesses
of Venal Ceres, purveyor of all the fruits of feld and tree, and of all
edible birds, fshes, and mammals, procuresses, untouchable wool­
clad colossi exchanging vibrant signs from booth to booth with a
fash of
t
heir large mother-of-pearl buttons or a slap on their
booming black aprons or their money-flled pouches. Did it not
bubble and seethe below the hems of their skirts, and wa this not
the truly fertile ground? Did not a go of the market himself cast
the gods into their laps : berries, crustaceans, mushrooms, chunks
of meat and cabbage, invisibly cohabiting with those who aban­
doned themselves a they languidly and mutely eyed the unsteady
318
procession of housewive who, laden with baskets and bags,
laboriously drove their broo before them along these slippery
alleyways of ill repute. But ifin winter the gas lamps went on in the
early evening, you had at once a feeling of sinking, becoming
aware, in this gentle gliding, of the depths of sea below the surface
that heaved opaque and sluggish in the glassy waters.
The more frequently I retur to these memories, the less
fortuitous it seems to me how slight a role is played in them by
people : I think of an afternoon in Paris to which l owe insights
into my life that came in a fash, with the force of an illumination.
It wa on this very afternoon that my biographical relationships
to people, my friendship and comradeships, my passions and love
afairs, were revealed to me in their most vivid and hidden inter­
twinings. I tell myself it had to be in Paris, where the walls and
quays, the places to pause, the collections and the rubbish, the
railings and the squares, the arcade and the kiosks, teach a
language so singular that our relations to people attain, in the
solitude encompassing u in our immersion in that world of things,
the depths of a sleep in which the dream image waits to show the
people their true faces. I wish to write of this afternoon because it
, made so apparent what kind of regimen citie keep over imagina­
tion, and why the city, where people make the most ruthless
demands on one another, where appointment and telephone
calls, sessions and visits, flirtations and the struggle for existence
grant the individual not a single moment of contemplation,
indemnife itself in memory, and why the veil it ha covertly
woven out of our live shows the image of people les than those
of the sites of our encounters with others or ourselves. Now on the
afternoon in question I was sitting inside the Cafe de Deux
Magots at St. -Germain-des-Pres, where I wa waiting-I forget
for whom. Suddenly, and with compelling force, I wa struck by
the idea of drawing a diagram of my life, and knew at the same
moment exactly how it was to be done. With a very simple question
I interrogated my past life, and the answer were inscribed, as if
of their own accord, on a sheet of paper that I had with me. A
A Berlin Chronicle
3 19
year or two later, when I lost this sheet, I was inconsolable. I have
never since been able to restore it as it arose before me then,
resembling a series
.
of family trees. Now, however, reconstructing
its outline in thought without directly reproducing it, I should,
rather, speak of a labyrinth. I am not concerned here with what is '
installed in the chamber at its enigmatic centre, ego or fate, but all
the more with the many entrances leading into the interior. These
entrances I call primal acquaintances; each of them is a graphic
symbol of my acquaintance with a person whom I met, not through
other people, but through neighbourhood, family relationships,
school comradeship, mistaken identity, companionship on travels,
or other such-hardly numerous-situations. So many primal
relationships, so many entrances to the maze. But since most of
them-at least those that remain in our memory-for their part
open up new acquaintances, relations to new people, after some
time they branch of these corridor (the male may be drawn to the
right, female to the left) . Whether cross-connections are fnally
established between these systems also depends on the inter­
twinements of our path through life. More important, however,
are the astonishing insights that a study of this plan provide into
the diferences among individual lives. What part is played in the
primal acquaintanceships of diferent people's lives by profession
and school, family and travel ? And above all : is the formation of
the many ofshoots governed in individual existence by hidden
laws? Which one start early and which late in life? Which are
continued to the end of life and which peter out ? "If a man has
character", says Nietzsche, "he will have the same experience over
and over again. " Whether or not this is true on a large scale, on a
small one there are perhap paths that lead u again and again to
people who have one and the same function for us : passageways
that always, in the most diverse periods oflife, guide u to the friend,
the betrayer, the beloved, the pupil, or the master. This is what the
sketch of my life revealed to me as it took shap before me on that
Paris afternoon. Against the background of the city, the people who
had surrounded me closed together to form a fgure. It was many
years earlier, I believe at the beginning of the war, that in Berlin,
320
against the background of the people then closest to me, the world
of things contracted to a symbol similarly profound. It wa an
emblem of four rings. This take me to one of the old Berlin houses
on the Kupfergraben. With their plain, genteel fa<ades and their
wide hallways they may have stemmed from the Schinkel period.
In one of them lived at that time a prominent antique dealer. He
had no display window. You had to go into his apartment to
a�mire, in a number of showcases, a selection of prehistoric
brooches and clasps, Lombard earrings, late Roman neck chains,
medieval coins, and many similar valuables. How my friend A. C. *
had tracked him down I do not know. But I remember distinctly
the engrossment with which, under the impression of Alois Riegl's
Late Roman Ar Industr, which I had recently studied, I contem­
plated the breastplates made from sheet gold and garnet-adorned
bracelets. There were, if I am not mistaken, three of us : my friend,
his fancee at that time or Frau Dorothea]. , and me. C. asked to see
rings-Greek and Renaissance cameos, rings from the imperial
period, usually work carved in semi-precious stone. Each of the
four that he finally purchased is imprinted unforgettably on my
mind. Except for one that I have lost sight of, they are still today
with those for whom they were intended that morning. One, a
bright-yellow smoky topaz, was chosen by Dorothea J. The work­
manship was Grecian and depicted in a tiny space Leda receiving
the swan between her parted thighs. It was most graceful. I was
les able to admire the amethyst that the donor, Ernst S[ choen],
selected for our mutual friend: a fifteenth- or sixteenth-century
Italian had carved a profile in it whicf Lederer claimed to b that
of Pompey. I wa quite diferently afected, however, by the last
two rings. One was intended for me, but only a a very temporary
owner; it wa really destined to reach, through me, my then fancee,
Grete R[adt] . It wa the most fascinating ring I have ever seen. Cut
in a dark, solid garnet, it portrayed a Medusa's head. It was a work
of the Roman imperial period. The proustite mounting was not the
original. Wom on the fnger, the ring seemed merely the most
perfect of signet rings. You only entered its secret by taking it
* Alfred Cohn. [NLB] .
A Berlin Chronicle 321
of and contemplating the head against the light. A the diferent
strata of the garnet were unequally translucent, and the thinnest
so transparent that it glowed with rose hues, the sombre bodies
of the snakes seemed to rise above the two deep, glowing eyes, which
looked out from a face that, in the purple-black portions of the
cheeks, receded once more into the night. Later I tried more than
once to seal with this stone, but it proved easy to crack and in need
of the utmost care. Shortly after giving it away, I broke of my
relationship with its new owner. My heart had already gone with
the last of the four rings, which the giver had reserved for his sister.
And certainly this girl was the true centre of the circle's fate,
though year were to elapse before we realized it. For apart from
her beauty-itself not dazzling, but inconspicuous and without
lustre-she had nothing that seemed to destine her for the centre
of the stage. And in fact she never was the centre of people but, in
the strictest sense, of fates, as if her plantlike passivity and inertia
had arranged the latter-which, of all human things, seem the
most subject to vegetal laws-concentrically about her. Many
year were needed before what at that time was in part beginning
to unfold in its seed, and in part still dormant, emerged in its
ramifcations to the light of day: the fate by virtue of which she, who
stoo in a relation to her brother that by it tenderness flled to the
very edge the limits of sisterly love, was to form a liaison with her
brother's two closest friends-with the recipient of the ring with
the head of Pompey and with me-to fnd her husband fnally
in the brother of the woman who married her own brother as her
second husband*-and she it was, on the day I am speaking of,
who received from me the ring with the Medusa's head. It cannot
have been many days later that I sent after the lapis lazuli with the
lute wreathed in foliage engraved in it-after the fourth ring and
to its wearer-this sonnet : To your fnger constantly encircledt
* Jula Cohn married Fritz Radt, whose sister, Grete Radt, became the wife of
Alfred Cohn. [NLB J .
t The sentence breaks of without punctuation at the end of a page, and the
continuation is no doubt missing. The sonnet is likely to have been by Benjamin
but has not been preserved. [NLB J .
322
The treasure-dispensing giant* in the green pine forest or the
fairy who grants one wish-they appear to each of u at least once
in a lifetime. But only Sunday's children remember the wish they
made, and so it is only a few who recognize its fulfilment in their
own lives. I know of such a wish that wa fulfilled for me, and
would not claim it to b wiser than those of children in fairy tales.
It goe back to my early childhood, and arose in me in connection
with the lamp that on dark winter mornings at half past six was
carried through my doorway and cast the shadow of our nursemaid
on the ceiling. The fire was lit in the stove and soon, amid reddish
reflections, the grating was marked out on the bare floor. When the
temperature-the nightly warmth from my bed and the morning
warmth from the fire-had made me doubly drowsy, it was time
to get up. Then I had no other wish than to fnish my sleep. This
wish accompanied me throughout the whole of my school days. Its
inseparable attendant, however, was fear of being late. I can still
feel today, when I pas the Savignyplatz, the dread with which,
stepping into Carmerstrasse, where I lived, I read my judgement in
the spellbound space between the ten and the twelve on the
\ repulsive clockface. The wish that animated me on such winter
days, and even later, when, in an extremity of fatigue, I rose from
the couch in the afternoon because of a gymnastics class, had been
fulflled. Only I did not always recognize this fuflment when yet
another of my attempts to find a place of work, in the bourgeois
sense of the word, had come to grief
There is one other sound that, thanks to the decades in which it
neither passed my lips nor reached my ears, has preserved the
unfathomable mystery that certain words from the language of
adults possess for children. It was not long ago that I rediscovered
it, and indeed a number of indivisible finds of this nature have
played a large part in my decision to write down these memories.
My parents being wealthy, we moved every year, before I went to
school and perhaps later, too, notwithstanding other occasional
summer trips, into summer residences not far from home. First it
was Potsdam, later Neubabelsberg. Whereas the latter period still
* See Haufs fairy tale, "1he Cold Heart", [NLB] .
A Berlin Chronicle 323
survives in a number of images, of which I may perhaps have more
to tell -the night of the great burglary when my parent locked
themselves in my room, the hours I stoo fishing beside my father
on the bank of Lake Griebnitz, the visit to Peacock Island that
brought the first great disappointment of my life, because I could
not fnd the peacock feather in the grass a I had been promised­
by contrast, the summer months in Potsdam have wholly vanished,
unless I may situate the asparagus cutting-my first and only
agricultural passion-as far back as the garden on the Brauhaus­
berg. And I have thus divulged the word in which, like countless
rose petals in a drop of Rose Malmaison, hundreds of summer days,
forfeiting their form, their colour, and their multiplicity, are
preserved in their scent. The word is Brauhausberg. To approach
what it enfolds is almost impossible. These words that exist on the
frontier between two linguistic regions, of children and of adults,
are comparable to those of Mallarme's poems, which the conflict
between the poetic and the profane word ha a it were consumed
and made evanescent, airy. Likewise the word Brauhausberg has
lost all heaviness, no longer contains a trace ofa brewery [Brauhaus] ,
and is at the most a hill swathed in blue that rose up each summer to
give lodging to me and my parents.
The economic basis on which the finances of my parents rested
wa surrounded, long past my childhoo and adolescence, by
deepest secrecy. Probably not only for me, the eldest child, but
als for my mother. And it is certain that such a state of afairs
wa the rule in a Jewish family, and no doubt in very many
Christian one as well. More curious i the fact that consumption,
too, was wrapped in some of the mystery that so deeply shrouded
income and fortune. I remember, at any rate, that the mention of
certain suppliers-"sources", a they were called -always took
place with the solemnity befitting an initiation. There are, it is
true, distinctions to b drawn. The purveyor who met the daily
household needs no more belonged to that secret circle than did the
Berlin frms of long-standing repute that my mother visited when
she took me and the younger children "to town". On such occa-
sions it was a certain that our suits would be bought at Arnold
Muller's, shoes at Stiller's, and suitcases at Madler's, as that at
the end of these commissions our hot chocolate with whipped
cream would b ordered at Hillbrich's. These shopping places
were strictly preordained by tradition-quite unlike the connec­
tions with traders, which were my father's responsibility. My father
possessed at base, along with a number of inhibitions stemming
not only from his decency but also from a certain civic worthiness,
the entrepreneurial nature of a big businessman. Unfavourable
influences brought about his very premature retirement from an
enterpris that was probably by no means ill-suited to his capacities,
the Lepke art auction, in which he was a partner. When he had
relinquished his share in the firm, he concerned himself increasingly
with speculative investments of his capital, and it would not
surprise me if the interest he took in household transactions was
far keener from this time on. What is certain is that the suppliers
he henceforth searched out were indirectly connected with
his investments. If, therefore, from my mother's shopping
excursions, a traditional and a it were ofcial image of the
Berlin commercial world emerged, the hints and instructions of
my father gave rise to an unknown and slightly sinister one, the
prestige of which derived as much from the authoritarian resonance
that these names carried at the family table as from the fact that
these frms, unlike the others, were never seen by me. At their head,
so to speak, wa the Lepke auction room itself, with which my father
not only had connections but from which, from time to time, he
also brought home a purchase. I doubt that this commerce was an
altogether happy one, with the exception perhaps of his carpet
buying. Shortly before his death he told me that he could distin­
guish the qualitie ofa pile with the ball of his foot, ifhis sole were
suitably thin. In my childhood, however, what impressed me
most wa to imagine the gavel blows with which my father
accompanied the auction. Later, when he had withdrawn from
Lepke's, this gavel always lay on his desk. Even if! never heard the
rap of this gavel, there is another sound that became indissoluble
from the image of my father's power and grandeur-or, rather,
A Berlin Chronicle 325
from those of a man in his profession. It is, implausible a it may
seem, the noise made by the knife that my mother used to spread the
rolls that my father took to his work in the morning, when it was
scraped for the last time, to remove the butter still adhering to it,
against the crisp surface of the cut roll. This signal preluding the
labour of my father's day wa no less exciting to me than, in later
years, the sound of the bell that announced the start of a perform­
ance at the theatre. Apart from this, the real token of my father's
profession in our apartment wa a Moor, almost life-size, who
stood on a gondola reduced to one-thirtieth of its size, holding with
one hand an oar that could b taken out, and lifting on the other a
golden bowl. This work of art wa made of wood, the Moor black,
the gondola and oar glowing in many colours beneath the varnish.
The whole, however, was s urgently oriented toward its com­
panion piece that I cannot tell today whether a second Moor,
whom I imagine with it, really stoo there originally or is a creature
of my imagination. So much for Lepke's art auction. There was,
besides, a futher purveyor of art-works-at least as far as bronzes
were concerned; it was the frm of Gladenbeck. Whether the choice
was afected here, too, by more intimate commercial ties, I do not
know. Such was certainly the case, however, with our supply of
mouthwash, hydrogen peroxide obtained in huge bottle from the
"Medicinal Stores", of which my father wa a director. Less
transparent, on the other hand, was the state of afair regarding
the Stabernack frm, which for year held an uncontested monopoly
of installations in our apartment. Here the intermediate party was
perhaps a certain company of building contractors, one of whose
directors, Herr Altgelt, flled the role of partner in countless
telephone conversations with my father, and whose name has
stayed in my memory because his son wa a member, and one of the
most inglorious, of my class. Leaving aside mealtime conversations,
it was only the telephone that intimated to u the occult world of
busines and traders. My father telephoned a great deal. He, whose
outward manner seems to have been almost always courteous and
pliable, possessed perhap only on the telephone the bearing and
decisiveness corresponding to his sometimes great wealth. In
conversations with mediating agencie this energy not infrequently
grew vociferous, and the "serious side oflife", which was embodied
tangibly in my father's activity, found in the altercations with the
telephone operators its true symbol. The telephone frst came into
use during my childhood. I have therefore known it nailed in some
corner of the corridor, whence, shrilling from the darkness, it
augmented the terror of that Berlin apartment with the endless
passage leading from the half-lit dining room to the back bedrooms.
It became a truly infernal machine when my school friends phoned
in the prohibited perio between two and four. But not all my
father's mysterious transactions were carried out by telephone.
From earliest times he had had-like many husbands who do not
always fnd life easy in marriage-a tendency to address himself
independently to certain branche of the domestic economy. Thus
he had connections in the provinces, principally in the vicinity of
Hamburg, which frequently called him away on business. The
house was regularly plied from this source with Holstein butter,
and in autumn with teal. Wine, on the other hand, was catered
for by a Berlin frm, whose share certifcates were also in my father's
possession: thi wa the Central Wine Distributors, who were
trying out new methods of calculation in the wine business. Finally
these name became entwined, in the parental discussions, with
other in which the traditions of the middle-clas Berlin of that
time converged from both sides : for notarial attestation Oberneck
wa consulted, operations were performed by Rinne, dancing
instruction was entrusted to Quaritsch, the family doctor was
Renvers, at least a long as he lived in the same building, * Joseph
Goldschmidt wa our banker. But a for me, I was most lastingly
afected by a reckless attempt that my father embarked upon one
evening to bring even the family's amusements into the harmony
with his busines enterprise that he had been able to establish for
all its other needs. For when, about 1 91 0, on Lutherstrasse in the
West End, a consortium erected the building that now houses the
Scala a an "Ice Palace", my father, with a sizable stake, wa
among their number. Now one evening, I do not know whether it
* Professor R. Renver lived at 24 Nettelbeckstrasse. [NLB] .
A Berlin Chronicle 327
wa the opening date or later, my father conceived the idea of
taking me there. The Ice Palace, however, was not only the frst
artifcial ice rink to be seen in Berlin, but also a thriving nightclub.
S it happened that my attention was held far les by the convolu­
tions in the arena than by the apparitions at the bar, which I was
able to survey at my ease from a box in the circle. Among these was
a prostitute in a very tight-ftting white sailor's suit, who, without
my having been able to exchange a word with her, determined my
erotic fantasie for year to come.
In those early years I got to know the "town" only as the theatre
of purchases, on which occasions it frst became apparent how my
father's money could cut a path for us between the shop counters
and assistants and mirrors, and the appraising eyes of our mother,
whose muf lay on the counter. In the ignominy of a "new suit"
we stood there, our hands peeping from the sleeves like dirty price
tags, and it was only in the confectioner's that our spirit rose with
the feeling of having escaped the false worship that humiliated
our mother before idols bearing the names of Mannheimer, Herzog
and Israel, Gerson, Adam, Esders and Madler, Emma Bette, Bud
and Lachmann. A impenetrable chain of mountains, no, caverns
of commodities-that was "the town".
There are people who think they fnd the key to their destinies
in heredity, others in horoscopes, others again in education. For
my part, I believe that I should gain numerous insight into my
later life from my collection of picture postcards, if I were able to
leaf through it again today. The main contributor to this collec­
tion wa my maternal grandmother, a decidedly enterprising
lady, from whom I believe I have inherited two things : my delight
in giving presents and my love of travel. If it is doubtful what the
Christmas holidays-which cannot be thought of without the
Berlin of my childhood-meant for the frst of these passions, it is
certain that none of my boys' adventure books kindled my love of
travel a did the postcards with which she supplied me in abundance
from her far-fung travels. And because the longing we feel for a
place determine it a much as does its outward image, I shall say
something about these postcards. And yet-was what they
awakened in me longing? Did they not have far to magnetic an
attraction to leave room for a wish to travel to the places they
showed? For I was there-in Tabarz, Brindisi, Madonna di
Campiglio, Westerland, when I gazed, unable to tear myself
away, at the wooded slope of Tabar covered with glowing red
berries, the yellow-and-white-daubed quays at Brindisi, the
cupolas of Madonna d Campiglio printed bluish on blue, and the
bows of the "Westerland" slicing high through the waves. Visiting
the old lady in her carpeted window alcove, ornamented with a
little balustrade and looking out onto the Blumeshof, it was hard
to imagine how she had undertaken long sea voyages or even camel
rides under the direction of Stangel's Travel Bureau. She was a
widow; three of her daughters were already married when I was
small. I can tell nothing about the fourth, but a good deal about the
room that she occupied in her mother's apartment. But perhap I
must first say something about the apartment as a whole. With what
words am I to circumscrib the almost immemorial feeling of
j bourgeois security that emanated from these rooms? Paradoxical
as it may sound, the idea of that particular protectednes seems
to relate most directly to their shortcomings. The inventory that
flled these many rooms-twelve or fourteen-could today be
accommodated without incongruity in the shabbiest of secondhand
furniture shops. And if these ephemeral forms were so much more
solid than those of the art nouveau that superseded them-what made
you feel at home, at ease, comfortable, and comforted in them was
the nonchalance with which they attached themselve to the
sauntering passage of year and days, entrusting their future to the
durability of their material alone, and nowhere to rational calcula­
tion. Here reigned a specie of things that was, no matter how
compliantly it bowed to the minor whims of fashion, in the main
s wholly convinced of itself and it permanence that it took no
account of wear, inheritance, or moves, remaining forever equally
near to and far from it ending, which seemed the ending of all
things. Poverty could have no place in these rooms where even
A Berlin Chronicle 329
death had none. They had no space for dying-which is why their
owners died in a sanitorium, while the furniture went straight to
the secondhand dealer. Death was not provided for in them­
that is why they were so cozy by day, and by night the theatre of
our most oppressive dreams. It is for this reason that, when I
think of this house-it was number IO or I 2 Blumeshof-in which
were spent so many of my childhood's happiest hours, such as
when I was allowed, to the sound of piano etudes, to browse in
Darling's Diversions in an armchair-I am met on its threshold
by a nightmare. My waking existence has preserved no image of
the staircase. But in my memory it remains today the scene of a
haunting dream that I once had in just those happy years. In this
dream the stairway seemed under the power ofa ghost that awaited
me as I mounted, though without barring my way, making its
presence felt when I had only a few more stair to climb. On
these last stair it held me spellbound. The rooms in this apartment
on the Blumeshof were not only numerous but also in some cases
very large. To reach my grandmother at her window I had to cross
the huge dining room and attain the farthest end of the living room.
Only feast days, and above all Christmas Day, could give an idea
of the capaciousnes of these rooms. But if when this day came, it
seemed as though it had been awaited all the year long in the front
rooms, there were other occasions that brought other parts of the
apartment to life: a visit by a married daughter unlocked a long­
disused wardrobe; another back room opened to us children when
the grownup wished to take their afternoon nap at the front of
the house, and another part again was animated by the piano
lessons received by the last daughter to remain at home. The most
important of these remote, less-frequented rooms, however, was
the loggia. Perhap this wa because, being the least furnished,
it was least suited to the sojour of adults, or because muted street
noises came in, or fnally because it opened onto the back court­
yards with children, domestic servants, hurdy-gurdy men, and
porters. But of these it was more often the voice than the forms
that were to b described from the loggia. Moreover, the courtyards
of a residential quarter as genteel a this never really bustled with
330
activity; something of the composure of the rich people whose
w
ork was being done there seemed to have permeated this work
itself and everything seemed to await the Sleeping Beauty slumber
that descended here on Sundays. For this reason Sunday was
properly the day of the loggia-Sunday, which none of the other
rooms could ever quite contain, as if they were damaged. Sunday
seeped out of them; only the loggia, looking out onto the yard
with the carpet rails and the other loggia with their bare walls
of Pompeian red, could hold it, and not a chime of the cargo of
bells with which the churches-the Twelve Apostles, St. Matthew's,
and the Emperor William Memorial Church-slowly loaded it
throughout the afternoon, slipped over its balustrade; all remained
piled high till evening. A I have already indicated, my grand­
mother did not die in the Blumeshof; nor did the other, who lived
opposite her in the same street and was older and more severe, my
father's mother. S the Blumeshof has become for me an Elysium,
an indefnite realm of the shades of deceased but immortal grand­
mothers. And just a imagi_nation, having once cast it veil over a
district, is apt to ador its edges with incomprehensible, capricious
frills, so, in the course of decade and to this day it made of a long­
es
tablished grocer's store situated near this house but on Magde­
burgerstrasse, to one driving past without ever having set foot
inside, a monument to an early-departed grandfather, solely
because the frst name of its owner, like his, was Georg.
But is not this, too, the city: the strip oflight under the bedroom
door on evenings when we were "entertaining". Did not Berlin
itself fnd its way into the expectant childhood night, a later the
world of William Tell or Julius Caesar invaded the night of an
audience? The dream ship that came to fetch us on those evenings
must have rocked at our bedside on the waves of conversation, or
under the spray of clattering plates, and in the early morning it set
us down on the ebb of the carpet beating that came in at the
window with the moist air on rainy days and engraved itself more
indelibly in the child's memory than the voice of the beloved in
that of the man, the carpet beating that was the language of the
A Berlin Chronicle 33 I
nether world, of servant girls, the real grownups, a language that
sometimes took its time, languid and muted under the grey sky,
breaking at other into an inexplicable g'llop, a if the servants were
pursued by phantoms. The courtyard wa one of the place where
the city opened itself to the child; others, admitting him or letting
him go, were railway stations. On departure, their openings were
a panorama, the frame of a Jat morgana. No distance was more
remote than the place where the rails converged in the mist.
Returning home, however, all was diferent. For the lamp still
burned in u that had shone in isolation from courtyard windows
often without curtains, from staircases bristling with flth, from
cellar windows hung with rags. These were the back yards that the
city showed me as I returned from Hahnenklee or Sylt, only to
close upon them once more, never to let me see or enter them. But
those fve last fearful minute ofthejourney before everyone got out
have been converted into the_gaze of my eyes, and there are those
perhap who look into them a into courtyard windows in damaged
walls, in which at early evening a lamp stands.
Among the postcards in my album there are a number of which
the written side ha lasted better in my memory than the picture.
All bear the handsome, legible signature "Helene Pufahl". She
wa my frst teacher. Long before I knew of classes at school, I
was brought by her into close relationship to the children of my
"class", in the sense of the word that I was to become acquainted
with only two decade later. And that it wa high on the social
scale I can infer from the names of the two girls from the little
circle that remain in my memory: lIse Vllstein and Luise von
Landau. What order of nobility these Landaus belonged to I do
not know. But their name had an immense attraction for me and­
I have grounds to suppose-for my parents. Yet this is hardly the
reason why their name ha remained undimmed in my mind
until today; rather, it is the circumstance that this wa the frst
name on which I consciously heard fall the accent of death. That
was, a far a I know, not long after I had grown out of the little
private circle. Later, each time I passed the Liitzow Vfer, my eyes
332
sought her house, and when, toward the end of my school days, I
wrote my frst philosophical essay, with the title "Refection on the
Nobility", beside that of Pin dar with which I started, the alluring
name of my frst schoolmate stoo unuttered. Fraulein Pufahl was
succeeded by Herr Knoche, whom I had t confront quite alone.
He was the pre-school teacher from the school for which my parents
later intended me. His instruction doe not appear to have entirely
agreed with me. At any rate, I performed on occasion magical
rite directed against his person, and I still remember the feeling
of omnipotence that came over me one day on the Herkules Bridge
on receiving the news that Herr Knoche had cancelled the next
day's class. At that time I knew to what I might attribute this, but
today, sadly, I have forgotten the magic formula. More than in his
private appearances, Herr Knoche impressed me in the classroom
lessons I had with him later, when I had started school. They were
enlivened by frequent intermezzi for thrashing. Her Knoche
wa a zealous exponent of the cane. He was also entrusted with
our singing instruction. And it wa in a singing lesson that he
showed me one of the shut gate that we all know from our child­
hood, behind which, we were assured, the way to later, real life
lay open. We were practising the cuirassier's song from Wallen­
stein's Camp. "To horse, trusty friends, to horse and away/to the
feld offreedom and valiance,/where a man's worth more than dust
and clay/and the heart's still weighed in the balance. " Herr
Knoche wanted the class to tell him what these last words actually
meant. No one, of course, could give a answer. It was one of those
artful questions that make children obtuse. Our discomfture
seemed most agreeable to Herr Knoche, who said pointedly,
"You'll understand that when you are grown up. " Now I am
grown up; I am today inside the gate that Herr Knoche showed me;
but it is still frmly shut. I wa not to make my entrance through
that portal.
A lights on a foggy night have around them gigantic rings,
my earliest theatrical impressions emerge from the mist of my
childhood with great aureoles. At the very beginning is a
"monkey theatre" that played perhap on Unter den Linden
A Berlin Chronicle 333
and at which I appeared, a I remember, heavily escorted, as
neither parents nor grandmother was prepared to forgo witnessing
the efect on me of my first theatrical performance. True, the source
of the light, the actual happening on the stage, I can no longer
discer in so much luminous haze. A pinkish-grey cloud of seats,
lights, and face has obliterated the pranks of the poor little monkeys
on the stage. And while I can recount the sequence of theatrical
events in the following six or seven years, I can say nothing more
of them-neither of the Ladies' Man I saw at the Spa Theatre at
Suderode; nor of the William Tell that, as is customary, initiated
me to the Berlin stage; nor of the Fiesco, with Matkowsky, that I
saw at the Schauspielhaus or the Carmen, with Destinn, at the Opera.
The latter two performance my grandmother had taken under
her wing; hence not only the dazzling programme but also the
imposing circle seats. And yet more fondly than to them, my
mind goe back to the William Tell, because of the event that
preceded it, the highly hermetic nature of which is still undimmed,
while nothing remains in my memory of the same evening's
performance. It must have been in the afternoon that a diference
of opinion arose between myself and my mother. Something was
to b done that I did not like. Finally, my mother had recourse to
coercion. She threatened that unles I did her bidding I should be
lef at home in the evening. I obeyed. But the feeling with which I
did so, or rather, with which, the threat hardly uttered, I measured
the two opposed force and instantaneously perceived how
enormous was the preponderance of the other side, and thus my
silent indignation at so crude and brutal a procedure, which put at
stake something totally disproportionate to the end-for the end
wa momentary wherea the stake, the gratitude for the evening
that my mother wa about to give me, as I know today and
anticipated then, wa deep and permanent-this feeling of misused
and violated trust has outlived in me all that succeeded it that day.
Many year afterwards it was proved a second time how much
more significant and enduring the anticipation of an event can be
than what actually ensues. A a boy I longed for nothing more than
to see Kainz. But his guest performance in Berlin were during
33
4
school time. A the advance bookings in the morning ofered the
only possibility of procuring seat at price commensurate with
my pocket money, my wish was denied for years. My parents, at
any rate, did nothing to advance its fulflment. One day-whether
because the advance bookings were on a Sunday or for another
reason -I was able afer all to be one of the first at the ticket ofce,
which was already that of the theatre at the Nollendorfplatz. I see
;
" myself standing at the box ofce and-a if memory wanted to
t prelude the approaching main theme-waiting there, sure enough,
but not buying my ticket. At this point memory pauses, and only
picks up its thread again when I am mounting the stair to the
circle in the evening, before the performance of Richard I What
is it that impose once again on memory, at the door of the audi­
torium, a "s far and no further" ? True, I see before me a scene
from the drama, but entirely cut of, without my knowing whether
it is really from this performance or from another, any more than
I know whether I saw Kainz or not ; whether his appearance was
cancelled or whether the disappointment of finding him les great
than I had believed him annulled, with the image of his acting,
the whole evening. S I confront uncertainty wherever I follow
my earliest theatrical memories, and in the end I can no longer
even distinguish dream from reality. This is true of a dark winter
evening when I went with my mother to a production of Th
Merr Wives q Windsor. I really saw this opera, in a kind of people's
theatre. It was a noisy, cheerful evening, but all the more silent
was the journey there, through a snow-covered, unknown Berlin
spreading about me in the gaslight. It stoo in the same relation
to the city I knew a that most jealously guarded of my postcards,
the depiction of the Halle Gate in pale blue on a darker blue
background. The Belle-Allianceplatz wa to b seen with the
houses that frame it; the full moon was in the sky. From the moon
and the windows in the fa<ades, however, the top layer of card
had been removed; their contrasting white disrupted the picture,
and one had to hold it against a lamp or a candle to see, by the light
of windows and a lunar surface parading in exactly the same
illumination, the whole scene regain its composure. Perhaps
A Berlin Chronicle 335
that evening the opera we were approaching was the source of
light that made the city suddenly gleam so diferently, but perhaps
it wa only a dream that I had later of this walk, the memory of
which had displaced what previously stoo in for reality.
The architect of the Kaiser Friedrich School must have had
something on the order of Brandenburg brick Gothic in mind.
At any rate, it is constructed in red brick-work and displays a
preference of motif commonly found at Stendal or Tanger­
minde. The whole, however, gives a narrow-chested, high­
shouldered impression. Rising close by the precincts of the
municipal railway, the building exude a sad, spinsterish primness.
Even more than to the experience I had within, it is probably to
this exterior that I should attribute the fact that I have not
retained a single cheerful memory of it. Nor, since leaving, have I
ever had the idea of going back. Of the walk to school I have already
spoken. But if the portal had been reached just in time, or there
wa no longer sufcient time-and the nightmarish things to come
did not weigh to heavily-to allow me to buy at the adjoining
stationer's another piece of plasticine, a protractor, or, at the very
beginning, wafers and the little ribbons used to attach blotting
sheets to exercise-book covers-if fnally the wrought-iron door,
which the janitor was allowed to open only ten minute before
school started, was still closed-how melancholy and oppressed
must this wait at the door have been, under the arch of the municipal
railway, which crossed Knesebeckstrasse at this point, if nothing
of it comes back to me besides the compulsion incessantly to
remove my cap, to pay attention to myself, when another of the
teacher passed, who were permitted to enter, of course; at any
time they pleased.
Only today, it seems to me, am I able to appreciate how much
hatefulnes and humiliation lay in the obligation to raise my cap
to teachers. The necessity of admitting them by this gesture into
the sphere of my private existence seemed presumptuous. I should
have had no objection to a les intimate, and in some way military
display of respect. But to greet a teacher as one would a relation
or a friend seemed inordinately unfitting, as if they had wanted to
hold school in my home. From this alone it can be seen how little
school was ever able to win me over. And if I experienced the
antiquated forms of school discipline-caning, change of seats, or
detention-only in the lower forms, nevertheless the terror and the
pall they placed me under in those years never lifted from me. I find
this not only in the importance attached to promotion to the next
form and to the four reports brought home each year, but also in
smaller but more telling details. Above all in the unfathomable
shock or, rather, bewilderment into which I wa plunged by
interruptions in the continuity of teaching-such as excursions
to the country, games, and above all the great annual competition
between the schools of Greater Berlin to decide the best team at
prisoner's base. Needles to say, I never belonged to the school
team, which seldom met with success. But in the mobilization of
the whole school that took place on such occasions, I, too, was
involved. The matches were normally played in May or June, on
some field or drill ground in the vicinity of the Lehrter station.
A a rule, the weather was blazing hot. Nervously I alighted at the
Lehrter station, uncertainly I set of in the direction I vaguely
remembered, and found myself at last, with mixed feelings of
relief and repugnance, amid some alien troop of schoolboys. From
now on bewilderment was uninterrupted: whether I had to look
for my own school party, or sought a resting place in the shade,
whether I had to reach a stall without crossing the field in order to
buy fruit for breakfast, or congregate, while avoiding any

ppear­
ance of indiference, around one of the gentlemen who made known
the day's results, or fnally, although I had not understoo these
results, exchange with my school fellows during the homeward
journey observations on the course of the game. Yet what made these
sporting occasions most hated and most repellent of all was not
their multitudinous attendance but their site. The broad, un­
frequented avenues leading to it were fanked by barracks, barracks
bordered the playing field, the field was a parade ground. And on
those day the feeling never lef me that if for only a moment I
relaxed my vigilance, permitted myself only the briefest well-
A Berlin Chronicle 337
being in the shade of a tree or before a sausage vendor's stand, I
should fall in ten years' time irredeemably into the power of this
place : I should have to become a soldier. The Kaiser Friedrich
School stands close by the municipal railway yard at the Savigny­
platz. At the Savignyplatz station you can look down into its
playground. And because, once liberated from it, I frequently
took the opportunity to do this, it now stands before me quite
uselessly, similar to one of those Mexican temples that were
excavated much to early and inexpertly, their frescoe having
been long efaced by rain by the time the excavation of the cere­
monial implements and papyri, which might have thrown some
light on these images, could at last seriously begin. So I have to
make do with what is resurrected only today, i

olated
p
ieces of
interior that have broken away and yet contain the whole within
them, while the whole, standing out there before me, has lost its
details without trace. The first fragment to reappear is what was
certainly, throughout my whole time at school, the idlest of my
perceptions : the moulding, crowned with crenellations, above the
classrooms. And perhap that is not so difcult to explain. For
everything else that came within my visual feld sooner or later
became of use to me, became associated with a thought or a notion
that swept it along into the sea of oblivion. Only this narrow
moulding, cast out innumerable times by the healthy beat of
everyday waves until it was lef stranded like a shell on the shore
of my daydreaming. And there I now come acros it. I pick it up
and question it like Hamlet addressing the skull. It is, as I have said,
a moulding representing a row of battlements. What is visible
between them, therefore, is not empty space but the same wood,
only bevelled and notched. The intention was certainly to remind
the onlooker of a castle. What he wa to do with the recollection
was another question. In any event, this moulding reinforced the
the dense mas divided in the morning behind the closed doors :
the clas at lessons. Over the doors leading to the arts-and-crafts
rooms it became the emblem ofa certain guild-like solidity. On the
classroom cupboard I encountered it again, but how much more
emphasis it had on the identically shaped cupboards standing
along the faculty-room wall. In the frst, second, and third forms,
in the vicinity of the many little coats and cap on their racks, its
impact was lost; but in the upper classe it acquired an allusion to
the Abitur that was soon to crown the labour of their members.
Yet never more than a shadow of meaning and reason passed
acros it in such places, and it remained, with the unspeakable
grey-green ornament
S
adorning the wall of the hall, and with the
absurd bosses and scrolls of the cast-iron balustrades, the refuge of
all my minutes of terror and my nightmares. Nothing, however,
could compare with the moulding, unles it were the bell that
shrilly marked the beginning and end of lessons and breaks. The
timbre and duration of this signal never varied. And yet how
diferent it sounded at the beginning of the frst and at the end of
the last period-to circumscribe this diference would be to lift
the veil that seven years of school cast ever more tightly over each
of the days that composed them. In the winter the lamp were often
still on when it rang, but it was bereft of cosiness, ofering as little
shelter as the light the dentist shine into the mouth on which he is
about to operate. Between two peals of the bell lay the break, the
second precipitating the shufing, chattering uproar with which
the mass of pupils, streaking through only two doors, surged up the
narrow stairway from floor to floor. These staircase I have always
hated: hated when forced to climb them in the midst of the herd,
a forest of calves and feet before me, defenselessly exposed to the
bad odour emanating from all the bodie pressing s closely
against mine, hated no les when, arriving late, passing deserted
corridors, I hastened up them quite alone to the very top, arriving
breathles in the classroom. If that happened before the teacher's
hand was on the door handle, even though he might b quite
near, you got in unseen. But wo if the door wa already shut­
however wide open those next to it might still be, and even if
above or below some time passed before the bang or a shutting
door announced the start of a lesson, and no matter how harmlessly
the eye ofa strange teacher approaching along the corridor brushed
you-the judgment was ineluctable within, once you had plucked
up courage to open it.
A Berlin Chronicle
339
In one of the streets I passed along on my endles wanderings I
was surprised, many year earlier, by the first stirring of my sexual
urge, under the oddest circumstances. It wa on the Jewish New
Year's Day, and my parents had made arrangement for me to
attend some divine celebration. Probably it wa a service at the
reformed synagogue, which my mother, on grounds of a family
tradition, held in some sympathy, wherea my father's upbringing
inclined him more to the orthodox rite. However, he had to give
way. For this visit to the synagogue I had been entrusted to a
relative whom I had to fetch on my way. But whether because I
had forgotten his addres or because I wa unfamiliar with the
district, it grew later and later without my drawing nearer to my
goal. To make my way independently to the synagogue wa out of
the question, since I had no idea where it was. This bewilderment,
forgetfulness, and embarrassment were doubtles chiefy due to
my dislike of the impending service, in its familial no les than its
divine aspect. While I wa wandering thus, I was suddenly and
simultaneously overcome, on the one hand, by the thought "To
late, time wa up long ago, you'll never get there" -and, on the
other, by a sense of the insignificance of all this, of the benefts
ofletting things take what course they would; and these two streams
of consciousness converged irresistibly in an immense pleasure
that flled me with blasphemous indiference toward the service,
but exalted the street in which I stood as ifit had already intimated
to me the services of procurement it wa later to render to my
awakened drive.
We had our "summer residences" first at Potsdam, then at
Babelsberg. They were outside, from the point of view of the city;
but from that of the summer, inside; we were ensconced within it,
and I must disengage my memorie of it, like mos that one plucks
at random in the dark from the walls of a cave, from its sultry,
humid glimmer. There are memorie that are especially well
preserved because, although not themselve afected, they are
isolated by a shock from all that followed. They have not been
wor away by contact with their successor and remain detached,
self-sufcient. The frst such memor appear when I speak of
these summer days : it is an evening in my seventh or eighth year.
One of our maidservants stands a long while at the wrought-iron
gate, which opens onto I know not what tree-lined walk. The big
garden, where I have been roaming in overgrown border regions,
is already closed to me. It is time to g to bed. Perhap I have sated
myself with my favourite game, shooting with the rubber bolts of
my "Eureka" pistol, somewhere in the bushe by the wire fence,
at the wooden birds, which, struck by a bolt, fell backward out of
the painted foliage to which they were attached by strings. The
whole day I had been keeping a secret to myself: the dream of
the previous night. It had been an eerie one. A ghost had appeared
to me. The site of it operations did not, in exact truth, really
exist, but had nevertheles a very strong resemblance to one known,
tantalizing, and inaccessible to me, namely the corner of my
parents' bedchamber that wa separated from the rest of the
chamber by a arch hung with a heavy, faded-violet curtain, and
in which my mother's dressing gowns, house dresses, and shawls
were suspended. The darknes behind the curtain wa impene­
trable, and this corner was the sinister, nocturnal counterpart of
that bright, beatific realm that opened occasionally with my
mother's linen cupboard, in which, piled up on the shelves, edged
with white trimming and bearing a blue-embroidered text from
Schiller's "The Bell", lay the sheets, tablecloths, napkins, and
pillowcases. A sweet lavender scent came from the brightly coloured
silk sachets hanging on the inside of the cupboard doors. These
were the hell and paradise into which the ancient magic of hearth
and home, which had once been lodged in the spinning wheel, had
been sundered. Now my dream had risen from the evil world:
a ghost busying itself at a trestle draped with a profusion of silken
fabrics, one covering another. These silks the ghost wa stealing.
It did not snatch them up or carry them away, it did nothing with
or to them that wa actually visible and distinguishable, and yet
I knew it stole them, just a in legends people who discover a
spirits' banquet know that these dead things are feasting, without
seeing them eat or drink. It wa this dream that I had kept secret.
A Berlin Chronicle 3
4
1
And in the night that followed it I noticed, half asleep, my mother
and father coming quietly into my room at an unusual hour. I did
not see them lock themselve i n; when I got up next morning there
was nothing for breakfast. The hous had been stripped of every­
thing. At midday my grandmother arrived from Berlin with the
bare necessities. A numerous band of burglar had descended on
the house in the night. Fortunately the noise they made gave an
indication of their number, so that my mother had succeeded in
in restraining my father, who, armed only with a pocketknife,
had wanted to confront them. The dangerous visit had lasted
almost until morning. In vain my parents had stood at the window
in the frst light, signalling to the outside world: the band had
departed at their leisure with the baskets. Much later they were
caught, and it emerged that their organizer, a murderer and
criminal with many previous convictions, wa a deaf-mute. It
made me proud that I was questioned about the event of the
previous evening-for a complicity was suspected between the
housebreaker and the maidservant who had stood at the gate.
What made me even prouder, however, wa the question why I
had kept silent about my dream, which I now, of course, narrated
at length a a prophecy.
What my frst books were to me-to remember this I should
first have to forget all other knowledge of books. It is certain that
all I know of them today rests on the readines with which I then
opened myself to books ; but wherea now content, theme, and
subject matter are extraneou to the book, earlier they were solely
and entirely in it, being no more external or independent of it
than are today the number of its page or its paper. The world
that revealed itself in the book and the book itself were never, at
any price, to b divided. S with each book its content, too, its
world, wa palpably there, at hand. But, equally, this content and
world transfgured every part of the book. They burned within it,
blazed from i t; located not merely in its binding or its pictures,
they were enshrined in chapter heading and opening letters,
paragraphs and columns. You did not read books through; you
3
4
2
dwelt, abided between their lines, and, reopening them after an
interval, surprised yourself at the spot where you had halted. The
rapture with which you received a new book, scarcely venturing a
feeting glance between it pages, was that of the guest invited for a
few weeks to a mansion and hardly daring to dart a glance of
admiration at the long suites of state rooms through which he must
pass to reach his quarters. He is all the more impatient to b allowed
to withdraw. And s each year scarcely had I found the latest
volume of the New Companion i German Youth when I retreated
completely behind the ramparts of its cover, which wa adorned
with coats of arms, and felt my way into the spy or hunting story
in which I was to spend the frst night. There wa nothing fner
than to snif out, on this frst tentative expedition into the labyrinth
of stories, the various drafts, scents, brightnesses, and sounds that
came from its diferent chamber and corridors. For in reality the
longer stories, interrupted many times to reappear a continua­
tions, extended through the whole like subterranean passages. And
what did it matter if the aroma that rose from the tunnels high
into the air, where we saw globes or waterwheels glisten, mingled
with the smell of the gingerbread, or if a Christma carol wove its
halo around the head of Stephenson glimpsed between two pages
like an ancestral portrait through a door crack, or if the smell of
the gingerbread joined with that of a Sicilian sulphur mine that
suddenly burst upon us in a full-page illustration a in a fresco.
But if I had sat for a while immersed in my book and then went
back to the table bearing the presents, it no longer stoo almost
imperiously over me as it had when I frst entered the Christmas
room; rather, I seemed to b walking on a small platform that led
down to it from my fairy castle.
Anyone can observe that the duration for which we are exposed
to impressions ha no bearing on their fate in memory. Nothing
prevent our keeping rooms in which we have spent twenty-four
hours more or les clearly in our memory, and forgetting other in
which we passed months. It:i s no�, th_eref

re, dle
_
_ to insufcient
e�p(�.�e-time if no image appear on the plate of remembrance.
A Berlin Chronicle 3
4
3
More frequent, perhaps, are the cases when the half-light of habit
denies

he
p
late the necessa
r
light for years, until one day from an
alien source it flashes as if from burning magnesium powder, and
no\ a snapshot transfxe the room's image on the plate. Nor is
this very mysterious, since such moments of sudden illumination
are at the same time moments when we are beside ourselves, and
while our waking, habitual, everyday self is involved actively or
f
assively in what is happening, our deeper self rests in another
place and is touched by the shock, as is the little heap of magnesium
powder by the flame of the match. It is to this immolation of our
dee
p
est self in shock that our memory owes its most indelible
images. S the room in which I slept at the age of six would have
been forgotten had not my father come in one night-I was
already in bed-with the news of a death. It was not, really, the
news itself that s afected me : the deceased wa a distant cousin.
But in the way in which my father told me, there lay [text breaks
of]
With the joy of remembering, however, another is fused: that of
possession in memory. Today I can no longer distinguish them:
it is as if it were only a part of the gif of the moment I am now
relating, that it, too, received the gif of never again being wholly
lost to me-even if decade have passed between the seconds in
which I think of it.
The frst great disappointment of my life reached me one after­
noon on Peacock Island. I had been told on the way there that I
should fnd peacock feather in the grass. Scarcely had I heard this
when, with the speed of a spark leaping between two charged
systems, a close connection must have been formed in me between
the name of these islands and the peacock feathers. It wa not that
the spark took a roundabout path by way of the image of the pea­
cock. This had no part in the process. And s my reproachful
dismay as I scoured the turf s vainly was not directed against the
peacocks that I saw strutting up and down, but rather, against the
soil of the island itself which wa a peacock island yet bore no
peacock earth. Had I found the feather I craved in the grass, I
3
44
should have felt a if I were expected and welcome at this spot.
Now the island seemed to have broken a promise. Certainly the
peacocks could not console me. Were they not there for everybody
to see? And I was to have had something intended only for me,
concealed from all others, to be found in the grass only by me. This
disappointment would not have been s great had it not been
Mother Earth herself who had inficted it on me. Similarly, the
blis at having, after much toil, at last learned to ride a bicycle
would have been les sweet had not Mother Earth herself let me
feel her praise. One learned to ride in those days-it was the heyday
of bicycle racing-in large halls specially established for the
purpose. These halls did not however, have the snobbish character
of the later ice palaces or indoor tennis courts ; rather, they resem bled
skating rinks or gymnasiums, and bespoke a mentality for which
sport and open air were not inseparable as they are today. It was
the era of "sporting costumes" that, unlike our present track suits,
did not yet seek to adapt the body to immediate needs, but, rather,
to define the particular sport as sharply as possible and isolate it
from all others, just as those halls cut it of from nature and other
exercises. The sport, as it was practised in those halls, still had
about it all the eccentricitie of its beginnings. On the asphalted
foor, moving under the supervision of trainers among the ordinary
tricycles for gentlemen, ladies, and children, were constructions
with front wheels ten times larger than their small rear wheels,
their airy seats probably occupied by artistes rehearsing a number.
The orchard at Gleinicke, the broad, ceremonious promenade of
Schlos Babelsberg, the narrow, concealed pathways of our summer
garden, the shady ways through the foliage leading down to Lake
Griebnitz at the places where there were jetties-all this I annexed
to my domain, completing in an instant in fantasy the work of
countles walks, games, and outings, kneeling in my nuptials with
the ground as a dynast conquers endless territories by means of a
single felicitous union.
I have talked of the courtyards. Even Christmas wa funda­
mentally a festival of the courtyards. There it began with the barrel
A Berlin Chronicle 345
organs, which stretched the week before the festival with chorales,
and there it ended with the Christmas trees, which, bereft of feet,
leaned in the snow or glistened in the rain. But Christmas came,
and all at once, before the eye of the bourgeois child, it divided
his city into two mighty camps. These were not the genuine ones, in
which the exploited and their ruler lie irreconcilably opposed.
No, it was a camp posed and arranged almost as artifcially as the
cribs composed as paper or wooden fgures, but also as old and as
honourable : Christmas came and divided the children into those
who shufed past the booths on Potsdam Square and those who,
alone, indoors, ofered their dolls and farm animals for sale to
children of their age. Christmas came and with it a whole, unknown
world of wares, [breaks of]
The dea vu efect has often been described. But I wonder whether
the term is actually well chosen, and whether the metaphor
appropriate to the proces would not be far better taken from the
realm of acoustics. One ought to speak of events that reach us like
an echo awakened by a call, a sound that seems to have been heard
somewhere in the darknes of past life. Accordingly, if we are not
mistaken, the shock with which moments enter consciousnes as
i already lived usually strike u in the form of a sound. It is a word,
tapping, or a rustling that is endowed with the magic power to
transport u into the cool tomb oflong ago, from the vault of which
the present seems to return only as an echo. But has the counter­
part of this temporal removal ever been investigated, the shock
with which we come acros a gesture or a word as we suddenly
fnd in our house a forgotten glove or reticule? A�just a they
cause us t

ur
I1
ise a stranger who ha been there, there are words
or gesture from which we infer that invisible stranger, the future,
who left them in our keeping. I wa perhap fve year old. One
evening-I wa already in bed-my father appeared, probably to
say goo night. It was half against his will, I thought, that he told
me the news of a relative's death. The deceased wa a cousin, a
grown man who scarcely concerned me. But my father gave the
news with details, took the opportunity to explain, in answer to my
question, what a heart attack was, and wa communicative. I did
not take in much of the explanation. But that evening I must have
memorized my room and my bed, a one observes exactly a place
where one feels dimly that one will later have to search for some­
thing one has forgotten there. Many years afterward I discovered
what I had "forgotten", a part of the news that my father had
broken to me in that room: that the illnes was called syphilis.
1932
VI
Eduard Fuchs,
Collector and Historian
The life's work of Eduard Fuchs belongs to the most recent past. A
retrospect of this work involves all the difculties posed by an
attempt to render an account of the immediate past-in this case
the immediate past of the Marxist theory of art, which does not
ease matters. For by contrast with Marxist economics, there is still
no history of this theory. Its teachers, Mar and Engels, did no
more than indicate a broad fi eld for the materialist dialectic in it.
While the frst who broached it, a Plekhanov, a Mehring, assimi­
lated the lessons of the masters only indirectly or at any rate
belatedly. The tradition that leads from Marx through Wilhelm
Liebknecht to Bebel developed the political far more than the
scientifc side of Marxism. Mehring passed through nationalism
and the school of Lassalle; and when he first entered the Social
Democratic Party, its theoretical outlook was-according to
Kautsky-dominated by a "more or less vulgar Lassalleanism.
Coherent Marxist thought was non-existent, apart from a few
isolated personalities. "
l
Mehring came into contact with Marxism
later, in the final years of Engels's life. Fuchs on the other hand
came upon Mehring quite early. In the relationship between the
two a tradition of cultural investigation for the frst time emerged
within historical materialism. But Mehring's feld, the history of
literature, had few points of contact with that of Fuchs, as both
researchers were aware. The diference in their dispositions was
1 Karl Kautsky, "Franz Mehring", in Die Neue Zeit, XXII, Stuttgart 1 904, I,
PP 1 03-1 04.
3
4
9
350
even more important. Mehring was by temperament a scholar,
Fuchs a collector.
There are many kinds of collector, and in any one there is a host
of impulses at work. Fuchs a a collector is above all a pioneer : the
founder ofa unique archive on the history of caricature, erotic art,
and the portrayal of manners. More important, though, is another
and indeed complementary circumstance : it was as a pioneer that
Fuchs became a collector. That is, as a pioneer of the materialist
view of art. But what made this materialist a collector was his more
or les clear feeling for what he saw as his historical situation. This
was the situation of historical materialism itself.
It finds expression in a letter Friedrich Engels sent to Mehring
at a time when Fuchs, in a socialist editorial ofce, was winning his
first victories as a publicist. The letter is dated 14 July 1 893 and
says, among other things : "It is above all this semblance of an
independent history of state constitutions, of systems of law, of
ideological conceptions in every separate domain, that dazzles
most people. If Luther and Calvin 'overcome' the ofcial Catholic
religion, or Hegel 'overcomes' Fichte and Kant, Rousseau with his
republican Social Contract indirectly 'overcomes' the constitu­
tional Montesquieu, this is a process which remains within theology,
philosophy or political science, represents a stage in the history of
these particular spheres of thought and never passe beyond the
sphere of thought. Since the bourgeois illusion of the eternality and
fnality of capitalist production has been added as well, even the
overcoming of the mercantilists by the physiocrats and Adam
Smith is accounted a sheer victory of thought, not a the reflection
in thought of changed economic facts, but of the fnally achieved
correct understanding of actual conditions substituting always and
everywhere. , , 2
Engels's objection is twofold: frst, he is protesting against the
habit in the history of ideas of representing a new dogma a the
development of an earlier one, a new school of poetry as a reaction to a
2 Marx-Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow 1 964, PP 541�542. Cited in
Gustav Mayer, Friedrich Engels, Vol II, Friedrich Engels und de Aufstieg de Arbeiter­
bewegung in Europa, Berlin,
PP
450-45 I .
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian 351
preceding one, a new style as the overcoming of an older one; second,
it is clear that he also implicitly objects to the custom of represent­
ing such new entities in isolation from their efect on people and
their intellectual and economic processes of production. His argu­
ment destroys the claim of the humanities to be the history of con­
stitutions or natural sciences, of religion or art. But the explosive
power of these thoughts, which Engels carried with him for half a
century,3 goe deeper. It calls in question the hermetic self­
sufciency of the various disciplines and their subjects-in the case
of art, the works which the concept of art purport to encompass.
For a dialectical historian, these works incorporate both their pre­
history and their after-history-an after-history in virtue of which
their pre-history, too, can be seen to undergo constant change.
They teach him how their function can outlast their creator, can
leave his intentions behind; how its reception by the artist's con­
temporaries forms part of the efect that the work of art ha on us
ourselves today, and how this efect derives from our encounter not
just with the work, but with the history that has brought the work
down to us. This is what Goethe intimated to Chancellor von
Muller in a conversation about Shakespeare : "Nothing that has
had a great impact can really be judged any longer. " There could
b no apter evocation of the disquiet that marks the beginning of
any critique of history worthy to be called dialectical, which must
renounce a calm, contemplative attitude towards its subject to
become aware of the critical constellation in which precisely this
fragment of the past is found with precisely this present. "Truth
will not run away from us" -this dictum, by Gottfried Keller,
indicates the exact spot where historical materialism breaks
through the historicist view of the past. For it is an irrecoverable
picture of the past that threatens to vanish with every present
instant that does not see itself prefigured in it.
The more one reflects on Engels'S remarks, the clearer it becomes
that the price of any dialectical account of history is abandonment
3 They appear in the earliest studies on Feuerbach, where Marx writes : "There
is no history of politics, of law, of science . . . of art, of religion". Marx-Engels Archiv,
I, ed. David Ryazanov, Frankfurt am Main 1 928, p 301 .
352
of the contemplative approach characteristic of historicism. The
historical materialist must sacrifce the epic dimension of history.
The past for him becomes the subject ofa construction whose locus
i not empty time, but the particular epoch, the particular life, the
particular work. He breaks the epoch away from its reified his­
torica continuir, and the life from the epoch, and the work from the
life's work. But the result of his construction i that in the work the
life's work, in the life's work the epoch, and in the epoch the course
of history are suspended and preserved. 4
Historicism presents an eternal image of the past, historical
materialism a specifc and unique engagement with it. The sub­
stitution of the act of construction for the epic dimension proves to
b the condition of this engagement. In it those powerful forces
that lie bound in the "once-upon-a-time" of historicism are set
free. The task of historical materialism is to set to work a engage­
ment with history original to every new present. It has recourse to
a consciousness of the present that shatters the continuum of
history.
Historical materialism conceives historical understanding as an
after-life of that which i understood, whose pulse can still b felt in
the present. This understanding has its place in Fuchs's scheme, but
by no means an undisputed one. An old, dogmatic and naive
notion of "reception" coexists in him with the new and more
critical one. The former consists essentially in the assertion that
what should count for most in our reception of a work i the way it
was received at the hands of the artist's contemporaries. It forms an
exact analogy to Ranke's "what it was actually like", which is
"after all the only thing that matters". 5 Cheek by jowl with this,
however, we find a dialectical insight into the signifcance of a
history of reception-an insight that opens the widest horizons.
4 It is the dialectical construction which distinguishes that which is our original
concern with historical engagement from the patchwork fndings of actuality.
"That which is original is never revealed in the naked and manifest existence of the
factual; its rhythm is apparent only to a dual insight. It . . . is related to its history
and subsequent development." Walter Benjamin, The Origin i German Tragic
Drama, London NLB, 1 977, pp 45�46.
5 Erotische Kunst, I, p 70.
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian 353
Fuchs complains that the question is ignored in art history. "This
omission is a failure in our overall appreciation of art. And yet it
seems to me that uncovering the real reasons for the greater or
lesser success of an artist, for the duration of his success, and no less
so for the opposite, is one of the most important problems ofart.
,,
6
This was also the view taken by Mehring, the starting point of
whose analyses in his Lessing-Legende was the reception accorded to
the poet, whether by Heine or Gervinus, Stahr or Danzel or,
fnally, Erich Schmidt. It was not for nothing that Julian Hirsch's
"On the Genesis of Fame", a valuable study in terms of its contents
if not it methods, appeared not long afterwards. Fuchs had the
same question in mind. Its solution afords a criterion for the stan­
dards of historical materialism. This fact does not, however, justif
the suppression of another : that such a solution is still wanting. It
is better to concede without reservations that only in isolated cases
ha it been possible to apprehend the historical import ofa work of
art in such a way as to make it more transparent for us as a work q
art. All attempts to court a work of art must remain futile unless its
sober historical content is illumined by the shafts of dialectical
insight. That is only the first of the truths by which the work of
fduard Fuchs the collector was guided. His collections are the
practical man's answer to the paradoxes of theory.
2
Fuchs was born in r 870. He was not predisposed to a life of scholar­
ship. And notwithstanding the great erudition to which he attained
in later life, he never became the typical scholar. His work con­
stantly overshot the bounds of the researcher's feld of vision. �o it
wa with his achievements as a collector ; so, too, with his activity
as a politician. Fuchs started to ear his living in the mid- r 88os.
It was the time of Bismarck's law against socialists. Fuchs' position
as an apprentice brought him together with politically concerned
proletarians, and he was soon involved in what today seems the
6 Gavarni, p 1 3.
35
4
idyllic struggle of the illegal militants of that time. This appren­
ticeship ended in 1 887. A few years later, the Bavarian organ of the
Social Democrats, the Minchener Post, solicited the service of the
young book-keeper Fuchs from a Stuttgart printer's; it believed it
had found in him the man who could clear up the paper's adminis­
trative difculties. Fuchs went to Munich, to work there with
Richard Calver.
The publishers of the Minchener Post also brought out a magazine
of socialist lampoons, the Siddeutsche Postilion. It happened one day
that Fuchs, to help out, had to assume responsibility for making up
an issue of the Postilion, and filled some gaps with contributions of
his own. This issue was unusually successful. Then, the same year,
appeared the May issue of this paper, colourfully illustrated­
coloured newspaper illustration was just then getting started -and
put together by Fuchs. Sixty thousand copie were sold, compared
with an annual average of 2,500. Thus Fuchs became editor of a
magazine devoted to political satire. At the same time he turned to
the history of his field; this, together with his day-to-day work, was
the origin of the illustrated studies on the year 1 84 i caricature
and on the Lola Montez afair. By contrast with history books
illustrated by living artists (e.g. Wilhelm BIos's popular books on
the revolution, with pictures by von Jentsch), these were the first
historical works with documentary illustration. At Harden's in­
vitation, Fuchs himself announced the second of these works in
Di Zukunft, remarking that it was only an excerpt from the com­
prehensive work he planned on caricature among the European
peoples. A ten-month spell in prison, after a conviction for lese­
majest in the press, stood him in good stead in his studie for this
work. The idea was plainly an auspicious one. A certain Hans
Kraemer, who had some experience in the production of illustra­
ted almanacs, approached Fuchs with the news that he wa already
working on a history of caricature; he proposed to contribute his
own studie to a joint work. His contributions, however, failed to
materialize, and before long it was clear that Fuchs would have to
shoulder the entire considerable work-load by himself The name
of the presumptive co-author, which still appeared on the title page
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian
355
of the first edition of the work on caricature, was dropped in the
second. But Fuchs had given the first convincing proof of his
stamina and of his mastery of his material. The long series of his
major works was launched. 7
Fuchs emerged at a time when, as Die Neue Zeit once put it,
"the trunk of the Social Democratic Party was expanding in ring
after ring of organic growth".8 This meant new tasks in the party's
educational work. The more the working masses flocked to the
party, the les could it content itself with their mere political and
scientifc enlightenment, with popularizing the theorie of surplus
value and of evolution. It also had to start including historical
material in its lecture courses and in the feature supplements of the
party press. This raised the whole problem of the popularization ri
knowledge. It was not solved. And no solution could b approached
s long as the object of this educational work was thought of as the
public rather than as a class.9 If the educational work of the party
had been directed at the class, it would not have lost it feel for the
scientifc tasks of historical materialism. The historical material,
ploughed over by Marxist dialectics, would have become the soil
in wh
}
ch the seed sown by the present could have sprouted. That
did not happen. The slogan "Work and Education", under which
7 These have been published by Albert Langen of Munich a Hauptwerke. They
include: Illustrierte Sittengeschichte vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart, Vol I : Renaissance,
Vol I I : Die galante Zeit, Vol I I I : Das burgerliche Zeitalter, also Supplementary Vols
I
-
III (here cited as Sittengeschichte) ; Geschichte der erotischen Kunst, Vol I : Das
zeitgeschichtliche Problem, Vol I I : Das individuelle Problem, Part One, Vol II I : Das
individuelle Problem, Part Two (here cited as Erotische Kunst) ; Die Karikatur der
europiischen Vilker, Vol I : Vom Altertum bis zum Jahre 1848, Vol I I : Vom Jahre 1848
bis zum Vorabend des Weltkrieges ( here cited as Karikatur) ; Honore Daumier: Holzschnitte
und Lithographien, Vol I : Holzschnitte, Vols II-IV: Lithographien ( here cited as
Daumier) ; Der Maler Daumier; Gavarni; Die grossen Meister der Erotik; Tang-Plastik.
Chinesische Grab-Keramik des 7.-10. Jahrhunderts; Dachreiter und verwandte chinesische
Kerami des 15.-18. Jahrhunderts. Apart from these works, Fuchs devoted special
studies to the caricature 01 women, of Jews, and of the World War.
s
A. Max, "Zur Frage der Organisation des Proletariats der Intelligenz," Die
Neue Zeit, XIII/ I, Stuttgart 1 895, P 645.
.
9 Nietzsche wrote as early as 1 874: "The fnal . . . result is the generally approved
'popularization' . . . of science, that is the notorious cutting of the coat of science to
the fgure of the 'mixed public', to use a tailor-like German [sic] lor a tailor-like
activity", Friedrich Nietzsche, "Vom Nutzen und Nachteil der Historie fur das
Leben", Unzeitgemissige Betrachtungen, I, Leipzig 1 893, p 1 68.
the patriotic associations ofSchultze-Delitzsch had conducted wor­
kers' education, was countered by Social Democracy with the
/ slogan "Knowledge is power". But the party failed to perceive its
double meaning. It thought the same knowledge that secured the
rule of the bourgeoisie over the proletariat would enable the
proletariat to free itself from that rule. In reality, knowledge with
no outlet in praxis, knowledge that could teach the proletariat
nothing about its situation as a class, was no danger to its oppres­
sors. This was especially true of knowledge relating to the humani­
ties. It lagged far behind economics, remaining untouched by the
revolution in economic theory. It sought only to stimulate, to ofer
variety, to arouse interest. History was shaken up, to relieve the
monotony; the result was cultural history. This is where Fuchs's work
came into its own: in its reaction to this state of afair lay its great­
ness, in it participation in it, its problematic dimension. From the
beginning Fuchs had made a point of tailoring his work for the
reading masses.
1
0
Few recognized at the time how much in reality depended on
the work of materialist education. It was the hopes, and even more
the misgivings, of those few that found expression in a debate
refected in Neue Zeit. The most important contribution was an
essay by Korn entitled "The Proletariat and the Classics". It dealt
with the notion of heritage, a concept which has again become
important today. Lassalle saw in German idealism, Kor argued,
a heritage of which the working class took possession. But Mar and
Engels held a diferent view. "They did not derive the social
priority of the working class from an inheritance, but rather from
its decisive position in the production process itsel( Besides, what
need is there to talk of possessions, even cultural possessions, on the
part of a parvenu class, like the modern proletariat, that daily and
hourly demonstrates its right through . . . its work that is constantly
reproducing the entire apparatus of culture? . . . For Marx and
Engels the showpiece of Lassalle's educational ideal, speculative
philosophy, is thus no tabernacle . . . and both felt more and more
10
"A cultural historian who takes his task seriously must always write for the
masses." (Erotische Kunst, II, Foreword.)
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian
357
strongly drawn to natural science . . . . Indeed for a class whose
essence is its function, natural science may as well be called know­
ledge pure and simple, just as for the ruling and possessing class
everything that is historical composes the given form of its ideology .
. . . In actual fact history represents for consciousnes the category
of possession, exactly as capital represents for economics the con­
trol of past labour. "
1 1
This critique of historicism has some weight. However, the
reference to natural science-"knowledge pure and simple"-for
the first time permits a clear view of the dangerous problematic of
the educational question. The prestige of the natural sciences had
dominated debate since Bebel. His major work, Wome and
Socialism, sold 200,000 copies in the thirty years between its appear­
ance and that of Korn's work. Bebel's appreciation of natural
science does not rest on the mathematical exactnes of its results
alone, but above all on its practical applicability
Y
Later it
occupies a similar position in Engels's thought, when he tries to
refute Kant's phenomenology by pointing to the triumph of tech­
nology, which shows that we do indeed recognize "things in
themselves". Natun science, which in Kom appears a know­
ledge tout court, does so above all as the foundation of technology.
But technology is obviously not a purely scientifc phenomenon. It
is also an historical one. As such, it forces us to investigate the
positivist and undialectical separation between natural science and
the humanities. The questions which mankind asks of nature are
determined among other things by its level of production. This is
the point where positivism breaks down. In the development of
technology it saw only the progress of science, not the retrogression
of society. It overlooked the fact that capitalism has decisively
conditioned that development. It also escaped the positivists among
the theoreticians of Social Democracy that the development of
1 1
C
. Korn, "Proletariat und Klassik", Die Neue Zeit, XXVI/II, Stuttgart 1 908,
PP
41 4-41 5.
1 2
See August Bebel, Die Frau und der Sozialismus, Stuttgart 1 891 ,
PP
1 77-1 79 and
PP
333-336, on the changes in housework efected by technology, and
PP
200201
on woman as inventor.
technology made it more and more difcult for the proletariat to
take possession of it-an act that was seen to be more and more
urgently necessary. They failed to perceive the destructive side of
technology because they were alienated from the destructive side
of the dialectic.
A prognosis was needed, and it was not forthcoming. This set the
seal on a trend that was characteristic of the last century: the
defective reception of technology. It consisted in a series of vigorous
and repeated attempts to get round the fact that technology serves
this society solely for the production of commodities. The disciples
of Saint-Simon started the ball rolling with their industrial poetry;
then came the realism of a Du Camp, who saw the locomotive as
the saint of the future ; and a Ludwig Pau brought up the rear : "It
is quite unnecessary to become an angel", he wrote, "since the
locomotive is worth more than the fnest pair of wings.
, ,
1
3 This
romantic view of technology is straight out of Di Gartenlaube. It
may fairly be wondered whether the Gemutlichkeit in which the
century's bourgeoisie rejoiced may not stem from a vague satis­
faction at never having to experience at frst hand the development
of the force of production. That experience wa really reserved for
the following century. It is discovering that trafc speeds, like the
capacit to duplicate both the spoken and the written word, have
outstripped human needs. The energies that technology develops
beyond their threshold are destructive. They serve primarily to
foster the technology of warfare, and of the means used to prepare
public opinion for war. It may be said of this development, which
wa thoroughly class-determined, that it occurred behind the back
of the last century-which was not yet aware of the destructive
energies of technology. This was particularly true of Social Demo­
cracy at the tum of the century. If it sought to puncture the illu­
sions of positivism in certain specific areas, by and large it remained
under their sway. It saw the past as having been brought once and
for all into the granaries of the present ; if the future held work in
store, it also promised the certainty of a rich harvest.
13 Cited in D. Bach, "John Ruskin", Die Neue Zeit, XVIII/I, Stuttgart , goo,
P 728.
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian
359
3
This wa the age in which Eduard Fuchs grew up, and some
essential feature of his work are derived from it. To put it simply,
his work partakes of the problematic that is inseparable from
cultural history. This problematic goes back to the Engels text
quoted above. Indeed, the passage may be seen as the locu classicus
that defne historical materialism as the history of culture. Must
that not b its real meaning? Must not the study of individual
disciplines, now stripped of their apparent autarky, b subsumed
in the study of cultural history as that of the inventory mankind
has to date preserved? In reality anyone asking questions of this
sort would only b replacing the many and problematical unities
embraced by intellectual history (as the history of literature and
art, of law or religion) with a new and even more problematical
one. The historical materialist understands that the abstract mode
i which cultural history presents its material is an illusion, estab­
lished by false consciousness.
1
4 He approaches this abstraction
with reserve. He would be justifed in this reserve by the mere
inspection of the actual past : whatever he surveys in art and science
ha a descent that cannot be contemplated without horror. It owes
its existence not just to the eforts of the great geniuse who
fashioned it, but also in greater or lesser degree to the anonymous
drudgery of their contemporaries. There is no cultural document
that is not at the same time a record of barbarism. No history of
14 This illusion found characteristic expression in Alfred Weber's welcoming
address to the German Sociological Convention of 1 9 1 2 : "Culture only emerges
when life
'
has become a form which rises above its necessitie and utilities." This
concept of culture contains seeds of barbarism which have since germinated. Cul­
ture appears as something "which is superfuous for the continued existence of life
but which we feel to be the very reason for which life i there." In short, culture
exists after the fashion of a work of art "which perhaps disarrays entire modes of
living and life principles, may be dissolving and destructive, but whose existence we
feel to be higher than everything healthy and living which it destroys." Alfred
Weber, "Der soziologische Kulturbegrif", Verhandlun,len des zweiten deutschen
Soziologentages: Schriften der deutschen Gesellschaf fur Soziologie, I : I, Tubingen 1 9 1 3,
pp 1 1 -1 2
.
Twenty-fve years after this was said, "cultured States" have made it a
point of pride to resemble, even to be, such works of art.
culture has yet done justice to this fundamental fact, or can well
hope to do so.
Yet this is not the crux of the matter. If the concept of culture is
a problematical one for historical materialism, the disintegration
of culture into commodities to be possessed by mankind is un­
thinkable for it. Historical materialism does not regard the work of
the past as over and done with. It does not see that work, or any
part of it, as falling with convenient quiddity into the lap of any
epod. The concept of culture as the embodiment of entitie that
are considered independently, if not of the production proces in
which they arose, then of that in which they continue to survive, is
fetishistic. Culture appears reifed. Its history is then nothing but
the residue of memorable things and events that never broke the
surface of human consciousness because they were never truly,
that is politically, experienced. One must recognize that no
historiography undertaken on the basis of cultural history has ever
managed to escape this problematic. It is manifest in the ambitious
Germa Histor of Lamprecht, to which the critics of Neue Zeit more
than once addressed themselves, for obvious reasons. "Of the
bourgeois historians", writes Mehring, "Lamprecht is known as
the one who has come closest to historical materialism". Never­
theless, "Lamprecht stopped halfway . . . Any concept of historical
metho vanishes . . . when Lamprecht trie to apply a particular
metho to his account of economic and cultural developments, yet
compile the political developments of the same perio from other
historians.
, ,
1
5 To represent cultural history on the basis of prag­
matic story-telling certainly makes no sense. But the absurdity of a
dialectical history of culture as such lies deeper, since the continuum
of history, blown apart by dialectics, is nowhere scattered over a
wider area than in that part people call culture.
In short, cultural history only seems to represent a deepening of
insight ; it does not present even the appearance of progress in
dialectics. For it lacks the destructive element that guarantees the
authenticity of dialectical thought and of the dialectician's ex-
1 5 Franz Mehring, "Akademisches", Die Neue Zeit, XVI, Stuttgart 1 898, I,
pp 1 95-196.
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian 361
perience. It may well increase the burden of the treasure that are
piled up on humanity's back. But it does not give mankind the
strength to shake them of, so as to get its hands on them. The same
applies to the educational work of socialism around the tum of the
century, which made cultural history its lodestar.
4
Fuchs' work take on sharper historical defnition against this back­
ground. Where it has lasting value, it was wrested from an in­
tellectual constellation that has rarely been more unfavourable.
And here it is Fuchs the collector who taught the theoretician many
things to which his time barred access. It was the collector who
found his way into grey areas-caricature, pornography-where
the models of conventional art history sooner or later come to grief
In the frst place it should be noted that Fuchs broke right across
the board with the classicist conception of art, whose trace can
still b recognized even in Marx. The ideas employed by the
bourgeoisie in developing this conception of art no longer operate
in Fuchs : not beauty of appearance, not harmony, not unity in
diversity. And the same robust self-assertiveness of the collector
which estranged the writer from the classicist theories sometimes
sets its face, in the bluntest terms, against classical antiquity itself
In 1 908, pointing to the work of Rodin and Slevogt, he prophesied
a new beauty, "which in its end result promises to be infinitely
greater than the ancient world. For where the latter was only the
highest animal form, the new beauty will b imbued with a
grandiose intellectu
'
l and spiritual content"
. 16
1 0 Erotisch Kunst, I, p 1 25. A constant reference to contemporary art is among the
most important impulses of Fuchs the collector. It, too, comes to him partially
through the great creations of the past. His incomparable knowledge of older
caricature allows Fuchs an early recognition of the works of a Toulouse-Lautrec, a
Heartfeld and a George Grosz. His passion for Daumier leads him to the work of
Slevogt, whose conception of Don Quixote he deems alone able to hold its own
beside Daumier. His studies in ceramics give him the authority to sponsor a Emil
Pottner. All his life Fuchs enjoyed friendly relations with creative artists. Hence it
is not surprising that his manner of addressing works of art is often more that of an
artist than of a historian.
In brief the values that had dictated the aesthetic VIews of
Winckelmann or Goethe lose all infuence in the work of Fuchs. It
would of course be a mistake to conclude that the dialectical
critique of art wa itself revolutionized. That cannot b the case
before the disiect membra, which idealism keeps handy in the form
of historical representation and appreciation, have become one and as
such have been superseded. That task is reserved for a science of
history whose subject matter is not a tangle of purely factual details,
but consists rather of the numbered group of threads that represent
the wef of the past as it feeds into the warp of the present. (It would
be a mistake to equate this weft with the mere nexus of causation.
Rather, it is thoroughly dialectical, and threads may have been
lost for centuries that the present course of history erratically, in­
conspicuously picks up again. ) The subject matter of history, once
released from pure facticity, needs no appreciation. For it ofers not
vague analogies to the present, but constitutes the precise dia­
lectical problem that the present is called upon to resolve. That is
indeed Fuchs' purpose. If in nothing else, his intention would be
felt in the sententiousness that ofen makes his text sound more like
a lecture. On the other hand, it also shows that much the author
intended remained inchoate. What is basically new in the inten­
tion fnds coherent expression principally where the subject meets
I
' it half way. This happens in the interpretation of iconography, in
the consideration of mass art, and in the study of the technology of
reproduction. These part of Fuchs's work are pioneering. They are
essential elements of any future materialist critique of works of art.
The three topics mentioned have one thing i common: they
lead to insights that cannot prove other than destructive to the
traditional view of art. Attention to the technology of reproduction
reveals, as does scarcely any other line of inquiry, the decisive
importance of reception; it thereby allows the correction, within
limits, of the process of reifcation undergone by the work of art.
Consideration of mas art leads to a revision of the concept of
genius ; it is a reminder not to overlook the invoice which alone
allows the inspiration involved in the genesis of a work of art to
become fruitful. Finally, explication of iconography not only
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian 363
prove indispensable for the study of reception and mas art; above
all it guards against the excesses to which any formalism soon
beckons.
1
7
Fuchs had to concer himself with formalism. Wolfin's teach­
ings were in the ascendant at the time Fuchs was laying the
foundations of his work. In his Problem ofthe Individual he refers to a
principle from Wolfin's Classical Art. This principle reads : "The
Quattrocento and Cinquecento as stylistic concepts can thus not
b characterized by a mere account of their subject matter. The
phenomenon . . . points to a development of the artistic vision
which is essentially independent of a particular mentality or a
particular ideal .f beauty. "
1
8 This formulation is certainly ofen­
sive to the historical materialist. But it does contain something
useful ; for it is precisely the historical materialist who is interested
i tracing the change in artistic vision not s much to a changed
ideal of beauty as to more elementary processes-processe brought
about by economic and technical transformations in production.
In this particular case, a fruitful line of inquiry would b to ask
what economically determined changes in residential building
were introduced by the Renaissance, and what role Renaissance
painting played a a prospectus for the new architecture and as an
illustration of the manners made possible by it.
1
9 Admittedly
Wolfin only touches on this question in passing. But when Fuchs
retorts that "It is precisely these formal points that can b accoun-
17 The master of iconographic interpretation is probably Emile M,Ue. His
research is confned to the sculpture of French cathedrals from the twelfth to the
ffteenth centuries, and so does not overlap with Fuchs' studies.
18 Heinrich Wilfin, Die klassische Kunt, Munich 1 899, p 275.
19 Older panel painting granted no more than the outline ofa house to men for
their quarters. The painters of the early Renaissance were the frst to depict interior
space in which the fgure represented have room to move. That i what made
Uccello's invention of perspective s overpowering to his contemporaries and to
himseiC From then on painterly creations, dedicated more than before to inhabitants
rather to suppliants, presented them with patterns of dwelling and never tired of un­
folding before them perspectives of the villa. The High Renaissance, although much
more sparing in the represenation of actual interiors, continued to build on this
foundation. "The Cinquecento has a particularly strong feeling for the relation
between man and building, for the resonance of a beautiful room. It can scarcely
imagine an existence which i not architecturally framed and founded". Wilfin,
p 227·
ted for only in terms of a change in the mood of the times", 20 he
points straight to the dubiousnes of the categorie of cultural
history discussed above.
It can be seen from more than one passage that Fuchs the writer
was not interested in argument, or even discussion. The eristic
dialectic, which according to Hegel's defnition "enters into the
strength of the opponent so as to destroy him from within", is not
to b found in Fuchs's arsenal, combative as he may appear. In
those who pursued the inquiry initiated by Mar and Engels the
destructive power of thought subsided, for it no longer dared to
take on the century single-handed. It had already lost some of its
tension in Mehring, from the sheer number of skirmishe fought.
Even so, his Lessing-Legende is a considerable achievement. It
showed what a host of political, but also scientifc and theoretical,
energies were mustered in the great classics. He thus made good
his distaste for the bellettristic plodding of his contemporaries. He
came to the noble insight that art could hope to be rebor only in
the economic and political victory of the proletariat, and also to the
incontestable conclusion: "Art has no power to intervene deeply
in the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat.
, , 21
The
subsequent development of art bore him out. Mehring's insights
sent him with redoubled conviction to the study of science. In that
study he earned the solidity and the rigour that made him in­
vulnerabe to revisionism. Traits were thus formed in his character
that can b called in the best sense bourgeois, yet are far from
guaranteeing the dialectician. They are to be met with no less in
Fuchs. And they are perhaps the more conspicuous in his case for
being embodied in a more expansive and sensual disposition. B
that as it may, one can easily imagine his portrait in a gallery of
scholars. Next to him one might put Georg Brandes, whose
rationalist fervour and passion to shed the light of the ideal (pro­
gress, science, reason) over broad vistas of history he shared. On
20 Erotische Kunst, I I , p 20.
2 1 Franz Mehring, Geschichte der deutschen Sozialdemokratie, Part Two: Von
Lassalles ofene Antwortschreiben bis zum Errurter Pro.�ramm ( Geschichte des Sozialismus
in Einzeldarstellungen, III, 2) . Stuttgart 1 8g8, p. 546.
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian
365
his other side one might imagine Adolf Bastian, the ethnologist.
Fuchs is reminiscent of him above all in his insatiable hunger for
material. Bastian was legendary for his readines to pack his grip
and set of on expeditions that kept him away from home for
months, whenever there was a question to be clarifed. S to Fuchs
always obeyed the impulse that drove him on to the quest for new
evidence. The works of both will remain an inexhaustible mine of
information for research.
5
For the psychologist it must be a signifcant question how an
enthusiast, a nature turned towards the positive, can arrive at the
passion for caricature. Answer it as he will, so far as Fuchs is con­
cerned the facts allow of no doubt. From the start his interest in art
difers from what might be calledjcr in the beautiul. From the start, /
truth enter the game. Fuchs never tires of emphasizing the source
value, the authority, of caricature. "Truth lie in extremes", he
says somewhere. He goes further : caricature is for him "to some
extent the form from which all objective art arises. One look at the
museums of ethnography will vindicate this proposition.
,
,22 When
Fuchs brings prehistoric people and children's drawings into the
area of caricature, the concept may become problematic; yet the
vehement interest he brings to bear on the graphic content of the
work of art, whether substantive23 or formal, appear all the more
original. This interest runs through the whole broad range of his
work. Even in the late Tang Sculpture we read: "The grotesque is
the ne plus ultra of the visual imagination . . . In this sense grotesque
forms are at the same time an expression of the exuberant health of
an age . . . There is of course no question that the driving force
22 Karikatur, I, pp 4-5
'
23 See his fne comment on Daumier's fgures of proletarian women: "Whoever
views such subjects merely as sentimental motifs proves that the ultimate impulses
necessary to create powerful art are a sealed book to him. Precisely becaus these
pictures represent something altogether diferent from 'sentimental motifs' they
will live forever . . . a powerful monuments to the enslavement of maternal woman
in the nineteenth century. " Der Maler Daumier, p 28.
behind the grotesque may also be the exact opposite. Decadent
time and sick brains, too, tend to produce grotesque forms. In
such case the grotesque is a shocking refection of the fact that for
the time and individuals concerned, the problems of the world and
existence appear insoluble . . . Which of these two tendencie is the
creative force behind a grotesque fantasy can b recognized at a
glance.
, ,
24
The passage is instructive. It shows particularly clearly what it
wa that made Fuchs's work so popular. It wa the gift of imme­
diately combining his basic concepts with value judgments. This
ofen occur on a grand scale.2s Thejudgments are always extreme.
A such they polarize the concept with which they are amalgama­
ted. S in the representation of the grotesque; s to in erotic
caricature. In time of decline it is "smut" and "risque", when
things are looking up "the expression of overfowing pleasure and
exuberant strength". 26 Sometimes Fuchs brings in the value con­
cepts of hey-day and decadence, sometimes those of health and
sickness. He steers clear of borderline cases, that might reveal the
problematic character of such terms. He prefers to stick to the
"truly great", whose prerogative is to give free rein to "rapture in
the simplest things". 27 Transitional periods like the Baroque he
ha little time for. Even for him, the great age is still the Renais­
sance. Here his cult of the creative gets the better of his aversion to
the classics.
The concept of the creative in Fuchs's work has a strongly
biological slant. While genius is credited with attribute that at
time border on the priapic, artists from whom the author keeps
his distance seem reduced in their masculinity. Typical of such
quasi-biological views is his judgment of Greco, Murillo and
Ribera: "All three are classic representatives of the Baroque in
that each in his way was a pornographer manque".28 One. must not
24
Tanf-Plastik,
P
44.
25 See his thesis on the erotic efects of works of art : "The more intens the efect,
the greater the artistic quality." Erotische Kunst, I,
P
68.
26 Karikatur, I,
p
23.
27 Dachreiter,
P
39.
28
Die grossen Meister der Erotik, P 1 1 5.
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian
367
lose sight of the fact that Fuchs developed his basic concepts in an
age that regarded pathography as the ultimate standard of the
psychology of art, and Lombroso and Mobius as authorities. The
concept of genius, furnished at the same time with a wealth of
illustrative material by Burkhardt's influential Culture i the
Renaissance, contributed from other sources to the widespread con­
viction that creativity was above all a manifestation of super­
abundant strength. It was related trends that later led Fuchs to
conceptions akin to psychoanalysis ; he was the frst to apply them
fruitfully to aesthetics.
The eruptive immediacy, which in this view gives artistic crea­
tion its special character, is no less important for Fuchs as a
criterion for approaching works of art. So for him it is often no
more than a single leap from perception to judgment. Indeed,
Fuchs regards the impression the observer gets from a work of art not
only as a immediate and self-evident experience, but as an actual
category of contemplation. For instance, when Fuchs reports his
critical reservations about the artistic formalism of the Ming
period, he clinches his argument by saying that the works "in the
fnal analysis . . . make no more, and very often not even as much
impression as, say, the T' ang period did with its bold lines" .29
This is how Fuchs the writer come to the particular and apodictic,
not to say rustic, style expressed in masterly fashion in his dictum,
in the Histor i Erotic Art : "From the correct intuition to the correct
and comprehensive deciphering of the energies operating i a work
of art is always but a single step. , , 30 This style is not within reach of
everyone; Fuchs had to pay a price for it. To indicate the price in a
word: Fuchs the writer had not the gift of surprise. He was un­
doubtedly aware of this lack. He 'tries to compensate for it in the
most various ways, and likes nothing better than to talk about the
mysteries he tracks down in the psychology of creation, or the
riddles of history that fi nd their solution in materialism. But the
urge to the most immediate mastery of the facts, which is already
decisive for his conception of creation and of reception too, fnally
29 Dachreiter,
P
48.
30 Erotische Kunst, II, P 1 86.
prevails in his analysis as well. The course of art history is seen as
necessa
r
y, styles in art as organic, even the most disconcerting art
forms as logical. One gets the impression that these terms occur less
frequently as his analysis proceeds. But he can still describe the
fabulous creatures of the T'ang period with wings of fame and
horns as absolutely logical, orga'ic. "Even the enormous elephant ears
seem logical ; logical, too, the posture . . . . These are no mere con­
structs, but invariably an idea clothed in living, breathing form.
,
, 3
1
This was a series of ideas that had the closest possible connection
with the Social-Democratic doctrines of the age. We know what a
31 Tang-Plastik, pp 30  -31 . This immediate, intuitive approach become prob­
lematic when it attempts to fulfll the demands of a materialist analysis. It is well
known that Marx nowhere really divulged how the relationship between super­
structure and infrastructure should be conceived in individual cases. All that can
b said with confdence is that he envisaged a series of mediations, as it were trans­
missions, interpolated between the material relationships of production and the
remoter realms of the superstructure, including art. So also Plekhanov: "When art,
which is created by the higher classes, stands in no direct relation to the proces of
production, then this must ultimately be explained on economic grounds. The
materialist interpretation of history . . . is applicable here as well. Obviously, how­
ever, the undoubted causal connection between being and consciousness, between
the social relations founded on 'labour' and art, are in this case not s easy to
establish . . . . There are some intermediate stations between them." G. Plekhanov,
"Das franzosische Malerei im neunzehnten Jahrhundert vom Standpunkt der
materialistischen Geschichtsaufassung", Die Neue Zeit, XXIV, Stuttgart 1 91 1 ,
pp 543-544. So much is clear, however ; Marx's classic historical dialectic takes the
existence of causal dependencies as given. Later practice became more lax and was
often content with analogies. Possibly this was linked to the ambition to replace
bourgeois histories ofliterature and art by materialist works planned on an equally
grand scale-a hallmark of the epoch that was part of the Wilhelmine ethos. This
ambition took its toll of Fuchs as well. A favourite idea of the author, expressed in
various ways, prescribed epochs of realism for trading states-for Holland of the
seventeenth century as much as for China of the eighth and ninth centuries. Starting
from an analysis of Chinese horticulture, as the explanation of many characteristics
of the Empire, Fuchs then turns to the new sculpture which emerged under T'ang
rule. The monumental rigidity of the Han style was relaxed: the anonymous
master who created the new pottery responded to the movements of men and
animals. "Time", Fuchs goes on, "awoke from its long sleep in China in those
centurie . . . for commerce always quickens life and movement. S life and move­
ment come to the forefront in the art of the T' ang period. This is the frst charac­
teristic it displays. While the whole bearing of the animals of the Han period is
heavy and cumbersome, for example, those of the T'ang period vivaciously stir in
every limb". Tang-Plastik, pp 41 -42. This kind of treatment rests on mere analogy­
movement in trade as in sculpture : one might almost call it nominalistic. Fuchs'
attempts to elucidate the reception of Antiquity in the Renaissance remains equally
trapped in analogy. "In both epochs the economic basis was the same, only in the
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian
369
profound efect Darwinism had on the development of the socialist
conception of history. In the time of the persecution by Bismarck,
this efect helped to keep the party's self-confidence intact and its
fghting spirit unbroken. Later, in the epoch of revisionism, the
evolutionary view of history laid increasing emphasis on develop­
ment, in direct proportion to the party's growing reluctance to risk
what had been achieved in the struggle against capitalism. History
began to look deterministic ; the triumph of the party wa "in­
evitable". Fuchs always held aloof from revisionism; his political
instincts as well as his combative nature inclined him to the left.
But a a theoretician he was powerless to escape these influences.
They can be felt throughout his work. In those days a man like
Ferri could derive not just the principles but even the tactic of
Social Democracy from natural laws. Anarchist deviations he
blamed on insufcient knowledge of geology and biology. It is true
that leaders like Kautsky took issue with such deviations.
3
2 Yet
many found satisfaction in theses that sorted historical processes
into "physiological" and "pathological", or claimed that scientific
materialism in the hands of the proletariat had "automatically"
been promoted to historical materialism. 33 Similarly, Fuchs saw
Renaissance this basis was at a higher stage of development. Both were founded on
commerce in commodities." Erotische Kunst, I, p 42. Finally trade itself appears as
the subject of the exercise of art. Fuchs writes : "Trade must calculate with given
quantities and it can only take into account concrete and verifable quantities. That
is how trade has to approach the world and things if it wants to master them
economically. Consequently its aesthetic outlook is in every respect realistic. "
Tang-Plastik, p 42. One may disregard the fact that a "realistic" representation "in
every respect" cannot be found in art. But one would have to say that any connec­
tion which claims equal validity for the art of Ancient China and of early modern
Holland appears questionable in principle. Iri efect, no such connection exists, as a
glance at the Republic of Venice sufce to show. Venice fourished becaus of its
trade. Yet the art of Palma Vecchio, of Titian or of Veronese could scarcely be
called "realistic in every respect". The aspect of life we encounter in it is rather
festive and symbolic. On the other hand, commercial life in all stages of its develop­
ment demands a considerable sense of reality. The materialist cannot deduce any
manifestations of style from this.
32 Karl Kautsky, "Darwinismus und Marxismus", Die Neue Zeit, XIII/I, Stutt­
gart 1 895, pp 70
9
71 0.
33 H. Laufenberg, "Dogma und Klassenkampf", Die Neue Zeit, XXVII/I, Stutt­
gart 1 909, p 574. The notion of self-activity has sunk to a sad state here. The zenith
370
the progress of human society as a process which "can no more be
held back than a glacier can be stopped in its inexorable ad­
vance". 34 The determinist view is thus coupled with a robust
optimism. Yet in the long run, without self-confidence, no clas can
engage in political action with any success. But it make a diference
whether the optimism is felt for the active strength of the class, or
for the circumstances in which it operates. Social Democracy in­
clined towards the second, more questionable kind of optimism.
The prospects of incipient barbarism, which had dawned on
Engels in his Condition ofthe Workin Class in England, and on Marx
in his predictions of the course of capitalist development, and which
are today familiar even to the most mediocre politician, were
invisible to lesser lights around the tum of the century. When
Condorcet spread the doctrine of progress, the bourgeoisie was on
the brink of power; the proletariat a hundred years later was in a
diferent position. In the proletariat it could breed illusions. These
illusions in fact still form the background which Fuchs's account of
the history of art now and then reveals : "The art of our time", he
maintains, "has enriched us in a hundred ways that in the most
various directions go far beyond the achievements of Renaissance
art, and the art of the future will unquestionably take u to still
greater heights.
, ,
3
5
6
The pathos that runs through Fuchs's conception of history is the
democratic pathos of 1 830. Its echo was the orator Victor Hugo.
The echo of the echo are those books in which Hugo a orator
speaks to posterity. Fuchs's conception of history is that celebrated
by Hugo in William Shakespeare : "Progress is God's very footstep."
Universal sufrage is the cosmic clock by which the pace of that
of the idea is to be found in the eighteenth century as markets started to be equalized.
It celebrated its triumph in Kant in the form of "spontaneity", and in technology
in the form of automatic machines.
34 Karikatur, I, P 31 2.
35 Erotisch Kunst, I, P 3.
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian
371
step is measured. "Qui vote regne", wrote Victor Hugo, raising
the standard of democratic optimism. This optimism long con­
tinued to beget strange fantasies. One of them was the illusion that
"all intellectual workers, including materially and socially promi­
nent persons, should be considered proletarians". For it was "an
undeniable fact that all who ofer their services for money, from
the pufed-up privy councillor in his gold-frogged unifor down
to the exhausted wage earner . . . are defenceless victims of capi­
talism.
, ,
36 The banner raised by Victor Hugo still wave over the
work of Fuchs. Besides, Fuchs stands squarely in the democratic
tradition in his special attachment to France : the scene of three
great revolutions, the home of exiles, the wellspring of utopian
socialism, the fatherland of the tyrant-haters Quinet and Michelet,
the earth in which the Communards lie buried. This wa the image
of France that lived in Marx and Engels, this was how Mehring
came to see it, and this, too, as "the vanguard of culture and
freedom",37 was the country as it appeared to Fuchs. He compares
the winged irony of the French with heavy-footed German
ridicule; he compares Heine with those who stayed at home; he
contrasts German naturalism with French satirical novels. In this
way he wa led, like Mehring, to make sound predictions, espe­
cially in the case of Gerhardt Hauptmann.38
France is also a home for Fuchs the collector. The fgure of the
collector, which improves on closer acquaintance, ha not often
been given its due. One might think that nothing could have
ofered the romantic story-tellers a more tempting subject. But one
looks in vain for the collector, moved by dangerous if domesticated
passions, among the character of Hofmann, Quincey or Nerval.
36 A. Max, "Zur Frage der Organisation des Proletariats der Intelligenz", p 652.
37 Karikatur, II, p 238.
38 Mehring commented on the trial occasioned by "The Weavers" in Di Neue
Zeit. Parts of the speech by the lawyer for the defence have become a topical today
as they were in 1 893 : he said "he had to point out that the allegedly revolutionary
passages in question are ofset by others which are soothing and appeasing in
character. The poet in no way stands on the side of the revolt, he rather permits the
victory of order through the intervention of a handful of soldiers". Franz Mehring,
"Entweder-Oder", Die Neue Zeit, XIII, Stuttgart 1 893, p 780.
37
2
The traveller is a romantic fgure, of the janeur, the gambler, the
virtuoso. The collector is not among their number. You will seek
him in vain in the "Physiologies", which from the newsvendor to
the literary lion allowed no other fgure of the Paris waxworks under
Louis Philippe to escape them. All the more significant, then, is the
place occupied by the collector in Balzac. Balzac raised a monu­
ment to him which is in no way romantic. He had always been a
stranger to romance. There are few passages in his work where the
anti-romantic position is given its due a amazingly a in the sketch
of Cousin Pons. The most signifcant thing is this: no matter how
much we lear about the objects in the collection for which Pons
lives, we are told virtually nothing about how they were acquired.
There is no passage in L Cousin Pon to compare with the pages
from the diary of the Goncourt Brothers where they describe the
breath-taking excitement of a rare fnd. Balzac doe not portray
the hunter out in the bush tracking down his quarry, the way any
collector can be seen. The feverish exaltation that flls his Pons, his
Elie Magus, who are very poorly dressed . . . . They look a if they
guard with tireless vigilance. Balzac puts the whole emphasis on
the possessor, and he uses millionaire a a synonym for collector. He
talks about Paris. "There", he says, "you can often meet a Pons, an
Elie Magus, who are very poorly dressed . . . They look a if they
cared for nothing and bothered about nothing; they heed neither
the women nor the shop windows. They walk along a if in a dream,
their pocket are empty, their gaze is blank, and you wonder to
what class of Parisians they actually belong. -These people are
millionaires. They are collectors ; the most passionate people that
walk the earth.
, ,
39
Balzac's picture of the collector comes closer to Fuchs, to the
passionate intensity of his interests, than one could have expected
from a romantic. Indeed, pointing to the ver quick of the man,
one may say that Fuchs a a collector was truly Balzacian; he was a
Balzacian figure who outgrew the author's conception. What
could be more in keeping with that conception than a collector
39 Honore de Balzac, L Cousin Pons, Paris 1 925, P 1 62.
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian 373
whose pride, whose expansiveness, were such that merely in order
to bring his collections before the public eye, he would put them on
sale in the form of reproductions, and-a no less Balzacian twist­
in this way became a rich man? It was not just the conscientious­
nes of a man who knows himself to be a custodian of treasures, it
was also the exhibitionism of the great collector that prompted
Fuchs, in each of his works, to publish exclusively unpublished
pictures, drawn almost exclusively from his own collections. For
the frst volume of Caricature i the European Peoples alone he brought
together no fewer than 68,000 items, in order to pick out some
1 , 500 of them. He never had any item reproduced in more than one
single place. The volume of his documentation and the breadth of
his grasp belong together. Both show him to be a true descendant
of the race of bourgeois giants around 1 830, as characterized by
Drumont. "Almost all leaders of the school of 1 830", writes
Drumont, "had the same extraordinary constitution, the same
fertility, and the same penchant for the grandiose. Delacroix
throws epics onto the canvas, Balzac portrays an entire society,
Dumas's novels range over 4,000 year of human history. They all
have backs for which no burden is to heavy.
, ,
4
o When the revolu­
tion came in 1 848, Dumas published an appeal to the workers of
Paris, in which he presented himself as their like. In twenty years,
he said, he had produced 400 novels and 35 plays ; he had provided
a living for 8, 1 6 people: proofreaders and typesetters, machine
operator and cloakroom attendants ; he even spares a thought for
the claque. The feeling with which the world historian Fuchs laid
the economic foundations of his magnifcent collections is perhaps
not altogether unlike this amour propre of Dumas. Later, these
foundations were to give him almost as free a hand in the Paris
market a in his own private preserves. The chairman of the Paris
art dealers used to say of him around the tum of the century:
"C' est Ie Monsieur qui mange tout Paris. " Fuchs is an example of
the ramasseur type; he takes a Rabelaisian joy in quantity, which is
noticeable even in the luxuriant redundancy of his texts.
40 Edouard Drumont, Les Heros et les Pitres, Paris, pp [ 07-1 08.
37
4
7
Fuchs' pedigree on the French side is that of the collector, on the
German side that of the historian. The moral austerity which is
typical of Fuchs the historiographer gives him the Teutonic stamp
-just as it did Gervinus, whose Histor of National Poeti Literature
could b called one of the frst attempts at a history of German
thought. It is characteristic of Gervinus, and later of Fuchs too,
that they represent the great creative minds s to say in martial
guise-the active, masculine, impetuous side of their natures get­
ting the better of the more contemplative, feminine, receptive side.
Admittedly this was easier for Gervinus. At the time he was writing
his book, the bourgeoisie was in the ascendant ; its art abounded in
political energies. Fuchs wrote in the age of imperialism; he argued
for the political energies of art in an epoch when they were dwind­
ling daily. But his criteria were still the same as those of Gervinus.
I ndeed, they can be traced back further, as far as the eighteenth
century, with the aid of Gervinus himself whose commemorative
addres on F. C. Schlosser gave resounding expression to the un­
bending rectitude of the bourgeoisie in the age of revolution.
Schlosser had been reproached with a "dour puritanism". "What
Schlosser could and would have retorted to such reproaches",
Gervinus argued, "would b this : that in general life, like history
but unlike fction, doe not instruct even the most light-hearted and
optimistic in a superfcial joie de vivre; that the contemplation of
life and history is conducive not, of course, to a disdainful mis­
anthropy, but surely to a stern view of the world and serious
principles about life ; that the impression produced by existence on
the greatest of all those who have judged the world and men, those
whose own inner life was the measure of their outer experience, the
impression produced at least on a Shakespeare, a Dante, a Machia­
velli-has always been conducive to just such seriousnes and
sternness.
, ,
4
1 That is the origin of Fuchs's moralism: a German
41 G. G. Gervinus, Friedrich Christoph Schlosser : Ein Xekrolog, Leipzig 1 861 ,
pp 3031 .
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian
375
Jacobinism, whose memorial is Schlosser's world history, which
Fuchs came to know in his youth.
4
2
A is hardly surprising, this bourgeois moralism contains ele­
ments that confict with Fuchs's materialism. If Fuchs had realized
this, he might perhaps have succeeded in muting the clash. But he
wa convinced that his moralistic view of history wa in perfect
accord with historical materialism. This was an illusion. It was
based on the widespread view, much in need of revision, that the
bourgeois revolutions-as celebrated by the bourgeoisie itself­
were the direct ancestors of a proletarian revolution.43 For a
decisive counter to this, one must look to the spiritualism that runs
through these revolutions. Its golden threads were spun by
morality. The morality of the bourgeoisie-the reign of terror is
already symptomatic-is inner-directed. Its touchstone is the in­
dividual conscience, whether of Robespierre's citoyen, or of Kant's
citizen of the world. The behaviour of the bourgeoisie, which '
tended to advance its own interests but was dependent on comple­
mentary action by the proletariat that did not correspond to it
interests, proclaimed conscience the arbiter of morality. Conscience
is concerned with altruism. It advises the property-owner to act in
accordance with concept whose application is indirectly advan­
tageous to his fellow property-owners, and it cheerfully advises
non-property-owners to do likewise. If the latter go along with this
advice, the usefulness of their behaviour to the property-owners is
4
2
This element in Fuchs's work proved useful when the imperial prosecutors
started to accuse him of "distributing obscene writings". His moralism was naturally
depicted with particular emphasis in an expert testimonial submitted in the course
of one of his trials, all of which without exception ended in his acquittal. Written by
Fedor von Zobeltitz, its most important passage reads as follows : "Fuchs seriously
considers himself a preacher of morals and an educator. This deeply serious outlook
on life, this inner conviction that his work in the service of the history of humanity
must be informed by the highest morality, is alone enough to protect him against
the suspicion of any profiteering speculation. Anyone who knows the man and his
enlightened idealism must smile at the very idea".
43 This revision has been inaugurated by Max Horkheimer in his essay "Egoismus
und Freiheitsbewegung", Zeitschriftfir Sozialorschung, V, 1 936, P 1 61 i. The docu­
ments assembled by Horkheimer fnd confrmation in a series of interesting
materials on which the Ultra Abel Bonnard bases his charges against those bour­
geois historians of the French Revolution whom Chateaubriand calls "L'ecole
admirative de la terreur". See Abel Bonnard, Les Moderes, Paris, pp 1 79 i.
the more immediately visible the more questionable it is for those
so behaving and for their class. Hence this behaviour bears the
price tag of virtue. This is how class morality gets its way. But it
does so unconsciously. The bourgeoisie was not s greatly in need
of consciousness in order to erect this class morality a is the pro­
letariat in order to overtur it. Fuchs misses this point, since he
believe it his duty to direct his attacks against the conscience of the
bourgeoisie. I ts ideology seems to him a tissue of lies. "The
sanctimonious drivel", he says, "that is talked about the subjective
honesty of the judges even in the most shameless class judgments
merely demonstrates the lack of character of those who say or
write such things, or at best their obtuseness.
, ,
44
It does not occur
to Fuchs to indict the very notion of bona fdes (goo conscience) .
Yet that would be the natural reaction of a historical materialist.
Not only because he perceives this concept to be a carrier of bour­
geois clas morality, but also because he will not fail to notice that it
sustains the bond between moral disorder and economic anarchy.
More recent Marxists have at least hinted at the truth ofthe matter.
Thus it has been remarked of the politics of Lamartine, who made
excessive use of bona fides : "Bourgeois . . . democracy . . . needs
thi value. The democrat . . . is professionally upright. Thereby he
feels he can rise above the need to inquire into the real state of
afairs.
, ,
4
5 Treatments which focus on the conscious interest of
individuals, rather than on the often unconscious reactions of their
class to its position in the production process, lead to an over­
estimation of the role of conscious elements in the formation of
ideology. This is obvious in Fuchs when he says : "Ar is in all
essentials the idealized mask of a particular social order. For it is
an eternal law . . . that every ruling political or social order strives
to idealize itself, in order morally to justif its existence.
, ,
46 Here
we approach the essential misunderstanding. It consists in the idea
that the main reason why exploitation gives rise to a false con-
44 Der Maler Daumier, P 30.
45 Norbert Guterman and Henri Lefebvre, L Conscience mystijee, Paris 1 9
3
6,
P 1 51 .
46 Erotische Kunst, II/I, p I I .
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian 377
sciousness, at least on the part of the exploiters, is that a true
consciousness would be morally burdensome to them. This thesis
may have some limited validity in the present day, when the class
struggle has powerfully invested the entire bourgeois way of life.
But the "bad conscience" of the privileged is certainly not self­
evident as regards the earlier forms of exploitation. For reifcation
not only obscure relations among people; it also befogs the real
subjects of such relations. Between the ruling power of economic
life and the exploited there arises an array of judicial and ad­
ministrative bureaucracies, whose members no longer function as
fully responsible moral subjects ; their sense of duty is nothing but
the unconscious expression of this deformity.
8
Psychoanalysis, too, failed to shake the moralism that lef its mark
on Fuchs's historical materialism. His verdict on sexuality: "All
forms of sensual behaviour that manifest the creative principle
inherent in this law of life are justified . . . . Those forms are to be
condemned on the other hand, which debase this highest of in­
stincts to a mere instrument of sophisticated pleasure-seeking.
, ,
4
7
This moralism bears an obviously bourgeois stamp. A proper mis­
trust for the bourgeois proscription of pure sexual pleasure and the
more or less fantastic ways it is created remained outside Fuchs's
experience. He does allow in principle that one can speak "of
morality and immorality only in relative terms". But in the very
next breath he decrees an exception for the "absolute immorality"
exemplifed by "ofences against the social instincts of society, i. e.
ofences that are so to speak against nature". Characteristic of this
view is what Fuchs regarded as the historically inevitable victory of
"the masses, who are always capable of development, over
degenerate individuality" .48 In short, it can be said of Fuchs that
4 7 Ibid, I, P 43. His moral-historical image of the Directory ha traits reminiscent
of a popular ballad. "The frightful book of the Marquis de Sade, its plate as bad
as they were infamous, lay open in all shop windows." Barras expressed "the
desolate fantasy of the shameless libertine. " (Karikatur, I, pp 201-202) .
48 Karikatur, I, p 1 88.
he "does not challenge the legitimacy of condemning allegedly
corrupt instincts, but rather the usual view of their history and
their extent". 49
Elucidation of the psycho-sexual problem is thereby hampered
-a problem which has assumed particular importance since the
bourgeoisie assumed power. This i where the tabo on more or
les wide areas of sexual pleasure comes in. For the repressions it
induce in the masses generate sado-masochistic complexes to
which the ruling powers deliver up those objects best suited to their
purposes. A coeval of Fuchs, Wedekind, looked into these connec­
tions. Fuchs neglected to undertake their social critique. All the
more signifcant, then, is the passage where he makes good this
omission, in an aside on natural history. It is a brilliant apologia for
the orgy. According to Fuchs "orgiastic pleasure i among the most
valuable tendencies of culture . . . it must be understoo that the
orgy i one of the signs that distinguish us from animals. By con­
trast with man, animals do not have orgies . . . . The animal turns
away from the lushest fodder and the clearest stream when its
hunger and thirst are assuaged, and its sexual drive i mostly
restricted to brief and clearly defned periods of the year. Human
beings are entirely diferent, especially creative human beings. For
them there is simply no such thing as enough" .50 The force of
Fuchs's psycho-sexual observations lies in the ideas he uses to
criticize conventional standards. It is these idea that enable him
to dispel certain petty-bourgeois illusions-the fallacy of nudism
for instance, which he rightly sees as "a revolution of narrow­
mindedness". "Man is happily no longer a beast of the feld and we
. . . want fantasy, including erotic fantasy, to play a role in dress.
49 Max Horkheimer, "Egoismus und Freiheitsbewegung", p . 66.
so Erotisch Kunst, II, p 283. Here Fuchs i on the track of an important pheno­
menon. Would it be too rash to link the threshold between human and animal,
which Fuchs sees in the orgy, directly to that other threshold, of erect posture? With
its appearance, the partners can for the frst time in natural history look into each
other's eyes during orgasm. Therewith the orgy becomes possible. Not through an
increase in visual attractions, but rather because the expression of satiety and even
impotence can now become an erotic stimulant itself.
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian 379
What we do not want is a social organization of humanity that . . .
depraves all this. "5
1
Fuchs's psychological and historical outlook proved very fruitful
for the history of clothing. Indeed, there is scarcely any subject that
lends itself better to the author's threefold interest-the historical,
the social, and the erotic-than does fashion. This can b seen in
his very definition of it, which is couched in terms reminiscent of
Karl Kraus. Fashion, says Fuchs in his history of manners,
announces "how people mean to carry on the busines of public
morality". 52 Incidentally, Fuchs did not fall into the error, com­
mon among interpreter of manners (think of Ma von Boehn), of
investigating fashion merely from the aesthetic and erotic stand­
points. He did not fail to note its role as an instrument of domina­
tion. Just a fashion articulates the nuances of status, s is its main
function to supervise the grosser class diferences. In the third
volume of his history of manners Fuchs devoted a long essay to
fashion, whose argument the supplementary volume summarized
in a list of its key elements. The frst such element is "the interests
of clas distinction" ; the second is "the private capitalist mode of
production", which seeks to increase its sales potential through
repeated changes offashion; in third place we must not forget "the
erotically stimulating purposes of fashion". 53
The cult of creativity, which runs through the whole of Fuchs's
work, drew fresh nourishment from his psychoanalytic studies.
They enriched his originally biologically-determined conception,
though admittedly without correcting it. Fuchs enthusiastically
espoused the theory of the erotic origin of the creative impulse. But
his conception of the erotic remained close to a rigorous, bio-
51 Sittengeschichte, III, p 234. A few pages later this confident judgment dis­
appears-proof of the force with which it had to be wrested away from convention.
He now writes : "The fact that thousands of people become sexually excited at the
sight of a female or male nude photograph . . . proves that the eye i no longer
capable of perceiving the harmonious whole but only the piquant detail. " Ibid, III,
p 26g. If there i s anything sexually arousing here, i t i s more the idea of the naked
body displayed before the camera, than the sight of nakedness in the photograph
itsel£ This is probably the efect intended by most of these photographs.
52 Ibid, III, p 1 8g.
5 3 Ibid, Er  nzunJ
sband,
p
p
.'3-54.
logically determined view of sensuality. He steered clear a far as
possible of the theory of repression and the complexes, which might
perhap have modifed his moralistic view of social and sexual rela­
tions. Just as historical materialism, in Fuchs's understanding,
traced the origin of things to the conscious economic interest of the
individual rather than to the interests of the class unconsciously at
work within him, so he saw the creative impulse a lying closer to
conscious sensuous intention than to the unconscious imagina­
tion.54 The symbolic signifcance of erotic imagery, as revealed by
Freud in Th Interpretation oj Dreams, Fuchs acknowledge only
where he feels a strong sense of personal identifcation. When that
happens, his writing is flled with it, even when any reference to it is
avoided. Thus, in his masterly description of the graphic art of the
revolutionary period: "Everything is taut, rigid, military. People
do not lie, for the parade ground allows of no 'Stand easy' . Even
when they sit, it is as if they were about to spring up. The whole
body is tense, like an arrow on the bowstring. A with line, s with
colour. The pictures produce a cold, brassy efect . . . by contrast
with those of the rococo . . . The colour had to be harsh . . . , metallic,
it had to match the content of the pictures. , , 55 More explicit is a
revealing observation on fetishism, which trace its historical
equivalents. It turns out that "the increasing incidence of sho and
foot fetishism" appear to point to "the substitution of the cult of
the vulva for the cult of the phallus", wherea the growing inci­
dence of breast fetishism points to a reverse trend. "The cult of the
clothed foot and leg mirrors the dominion of woman over man; the
worship of the breast mirrors the role of woman a the object of
man's pleasure. " 56 Fuchs's deepest insights into the realm of sym-
I bois were prompted by Daumier. His comment on the trees in
Daumier's paintings is one of the happiest fnds of his whole work.
54 For Fuchs art is immediate sensuousness, as ideology i immediate expression
of interests. "The essence of art i s: sensousness. Art is sensuousness. Indeed it is
sensuousness in its most potent form. Art is sensuousness become form, become
visible, at the same time the highest and noblest sensuousness. " Erotische Kunst, I,
p 61 .
55 Karikatur, I, p 223.
56 Erotische Kunst, II, P 390.
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian
38
/
He see them a "a quite unique symbolic form . . . , which ex­
presse Daumier's sense of social responsibilit and his conviction
that it is society's duty to protect the individual . . . Typically,
Daumier depicts trees with outspread branches, especially when
someone is standing or resting beneath. The branches of such trees
extend like a giant's arms, they seem to reach out for the infnite.
They thus form an impenetrable roof that keeps from har all who
have sought their protection. "s7 This lovely image leads Fuchs on
to the dominance of the maternal in Daumier's work.
9
No one became more alive for Fuchs than Daumier. The fgure of
Daumier accompanied him through his working life; one could
almost say that it wa through him that Fuchs became a dialecti­
cian. He certainly grasped the breadth and living contradiction of
the man's character. Ifhe perceived the maternal in Daumier's art
and vividly conveyed it to his readers, he was no les aware of the
other pole, the masculine, pugnacious side of Daumier. He rightly
pointed out that Daumier's work is lacking in the idyllic; not only
the landscape, the animal painting, and the still life, but also the
erotic motif and the self-portrait. What really impressed Fuchs
about Daumier wa the element of classical confict in him, the
agonistic element. Or would it be to daring to seek the source of
Daumier's great caricatures in a question: how, Daumier seems to
ask, would the bourgeois of my time look if one were to conceive
their struggle for existence so to speak in terms of a palaestra?
Daumier translated the public and private life of the Parisians into
the language of the agon. His highest enthusiasm is aroused by the
athletic tension of the whole body, itS muscular excitements. This
is in no way contradicted by the fact that perhap nobody has
depicted the utter enervation of the body more arrestingly than
Daumier. His conception, a Fuchs observes, is closely akin to the
sculptor's. And so he waylays the type ofered him by his time and
57 Der Maler Daumier, P 30.
puts them on show in a convulsed travesty of Olympic champions.
It is above all the studie of judge and lawyers that may b seen in
this light. The elegaic humour with which Daumier likes to
approach the Greek pantheon points more directly to this inspira­
tion. Perhap it ofer a solution to the riddle that had already
tease Baudelaire : how wa it that the master's caricatures, for all
their force and penetration, could yet be s free of rancour ?
Fuchs has only t speak of Daumier, and all his energie come
alive. There is no other subject that struck such sparks of insight
from his connoisseur's intelligence. Here the least impulse can set
him of A sketch, s feeting that to call it unfinished would b a
euphemism, sufce to give Fuchs a deep insight into Daumier's
productive mania. It shows only the upper half of a head, i which
the eye and nos alone speak. That the sketch is restricte to this
part, that it presents only a person looking, alerts Fuchs to the fact
that here the painter'S central interest is in play. For, he says, every
painter set about the execution of his pictures at the very spot
where he instinctively feels most involved.
5
8 "There are innumer­
able fgure in Daumier's paintings", says Fuchs in his work on the
artist, "engaged i the most concentrated looking, whether they
gaze into the distance, or contemplate particular things, or look no
les intently int their own inner selves. Daumier's people look
literally with the tip of their nose.
, ,
59
58 Compare the following refection: "My observations have led me to conclude
that the dominant elements in each artist's palette can be seen with particular
clarity in his erotically pointed paintings. Here . . . they acquire their highest
luminosity." Die grossen Meister der Erotik, p 1 4.
S9 Der Maler Daumier, p 1 8. The famous "Art Expert", a water colour in several
versions, must b numbered among the fgures in question. One day Fuchs was
shown a hitherto unknown version ofthe painting, to authenticate it. He picked up
the main representation of the motif in a good reproduction and then proceeded to
a very instructive comparison. No variation, however small, remained unnoticed,
as he sought to determine whether each was the product of the master's hand or
that of impotence. Again and again Fuchs reverted to the original. Yet the way he
did s suggested that he could well have dispensed with it, so familiar wa it to him
-as can only occur with a painting one has had in mind for years. Doubtles this
wa the case for Fuchs. Only so could he discern the most covert uncertaintie of
contour, the least evident discolorations of shadow, the slightest defections of line,
which enabled him to place the painting-not as a forgery but as a goo old copy
which might have been the work of an admirer.
-
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian
3
8
3
1 0
Daumier wa the happiest subject for the scholar. He wa no less
the collector's luckiest strike. Fuchs remarks with justife pride
that it wa not the state but he himself on his own initiative, that
started the frst collections ofDaumier (and Gavarni) i Germany.
He is not alone among the great collector i his aversion to
museums. The Goncourts preceded him in this; their distaste was
even more vehement. If public collections may b socially less
problematic and scientifcally more useful than private ones, they
have not the latter's biggest advantage. The collector's passion
give him a divining ro that guide him to new sources. This was
true of Fuchs, and it was therefore inevitable that he should feel
himself at odds with the spirit that prevailed i the museums under
Wilhelm II. They had concentrated on so-called showpieces. "Of
course", says Fuchs, "today's museum is limited t this kind of
collecting if only for reasons of space. But that doe not alter the
fact that because of it we get only a very imperfect conception of the
cultur of the past. We see it dressed up in its Sunday best, and only
very rarely in its mostly shabby workaday clothes.
, ,60
The great collector are usually distinguished by the originality
of their choice of object. There are exceptions : the Goncourt were
not after objects s much as the ensemble that wa to hous them;
they undertook the transfguration of the interior just as it had
expired. But a a rule collector have been guided by the object
itsel£ A great example on the threshold of the modem age is the
humanists, whos Greek acquisitions and travels testif t the single­
mindednes with which they collected. With Marolles, the model
for Damod:de, the collector was introduced by La Bruyere into
literature (and at once unfatteringly) . Marolle was the frst to
recognize the importance of prints : his 1 25,00 piece collection
forms the ground foor of the Cabinet de Estampes. The seven­
volume catalogue of his collections, published by Count Caylus in
the following century, is the frst great achievement of archaeology.
60 Dachreiter, PP 5-6.
The gem collection of von Stosch was catalogued by Winckelmann,
on commission from the collector. Even where the scientific con­
ception purportedly embodied in such collections wa not destined
to last, the collection itself sometime was. This happened with the
collection of Wallraf and Boisseree, whose founders, basing them­
selve on the romantic Nazarene theory that the art of Cologne was
inherited from that of ancient Rome, laid the foundations of the
Cologne Museum with their German paintings of the Middle Ages.
Fuchs belongs i the ranks of these great, systematic, and un­
swervingly single-minded collectors. His idea was t restore the
work of art to its existence in society, from which it had been so
completely cut of that the place where he came upon it wa the art
market, where, a far removed from those who produced it a from
those who were capable of understanding it, shrunk to mere mer­
chandise, it yet survived. The fetish of the art market is the old
master's name. Historically it will perhap b seen to have been
Fuchs' greatest service that he initiated the emancipation of art
history from the fetish of the master's name. "The complete
anonymity of thtse tomb furnishings", says Fuchs about the sculp­
ture of the T'ang period, "the fact that in no single instance do we
know the individual creator of such a work, is a important proof
that what we confont here is never the experience of a particular
artist, but rather the way the world and things were seen in those
days by society at large.
,,
61 Fuchs was one of the frst to elucidate
the special character of mas art, and with it impulse he had
received from historical materialism.
The study of mass art necessarily leads to the question of the
technical reproduction of works of art. "Every age ha its own quite
specific technique of reproduction. They represent the techno­
logical potential of the period concerned and are . . . a response to
the requirement of the time. It is therefore no cause for wonde
that every major historical upheaval that brings other classes to
power than those who have ruled hitherto, also regularly produces
a change in the techniques of graphic reproduction. This fact needs
61 Tang-Plastik, P 4.
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian 385
to b made particularly clear. , , 62 Fuchs wa a pioneer with such
insights. In them he pointed to subjects in whose study historical
materialism can train itself The technical standard of the arts is
one of the most important criteria. Proper attention to it can make
goo some of the havoc wrought in the usual view of intellectual
history (and sometimes even in Fuchs himself) by the vague con­
cept of culture. That "thousands of the simplest potters were
capable of producing, literally of the cuf, work that was both
technically and artistically daring, , 63 quite rightly strikes Fuchs as
concrete proof of the value of ancient Chinese art. Technical con­
siderations now and then lead him to luminous apen;us that are
ahead of his time: as witnes his explanation of the fact that there
was no caricature in the ancient world. The idealistic view of his­
tory would inevitably see this a corroboration of the classicist
conception of Greece : its noble simplicity and tranquil greatness.
And what is Fuchs' explanation? Caricature, he says, is a mass art.
There is no caricature without the mas circulation of it products.
Mas circulation means cheapness. But "there was no cheap form
of reproduction in the ancient world, apart from coins. "64 The coin
ofers to small an area for caricature. So there wa no caricature in
antiquity.
The caricature was mass art, so was genre painting. This made
forms already held in low esteem by conventional art history seem
even more contemptible. Not in Fuchs's eyes ; looking at the despised
and apocryphal wa his strength. And he beat his own path to them
as a collector, a path which Marxism had done little more than
broach. That took a passion bordering on mania. It lef its mark on
Fuchs's features, in what sense may best b seen by going through
62
Honore Daumier, I, p 1 3. These thoughts may be compared with Victor Hugo's
allegorical i nterpretation of the Wedding at Cana. "The miracle of the loaves
represents the multiplication of readers. The day that Christ hit upon this symbol
he had a premonition of the art of the book printer." Victor Hugo, "William
Shakespeare", cited by Georges Batault, L pontife de la demagogie : Victor Hugo,
Paris 1 934, p 1 42.
6
3 Dachreiter, p 46.
64 Karikatur, I, p 1 9. The exception proves the rule. A mechanical technique of
reproduction served to produce terracotta fgures. Among these many caricatures
may b found.
Daumier's long series of lithographs of art-lovers and dealers, of
admirer of painting and connoisseurs of sculpture. They resemble
Fuchs, even to the very build. They are tall, gaunt fgures, and
their eyes blaze fire. It has been not inaptly remarked that in these
fgure Daumier conceived the descendants of the gold-seekers,
necromancers and misers to be found in the paintings of the old
masters.
6
5 A a collector Fuchs is one of their kind. And just as the
alchemist, with his base wish to make gold, experiments with
chemicals in which the planets and elements combine to form
image of spiritual man, s did this collector, while satisfying the
base wish for possession, undertake the exploration of an art in
whose creations the productive forces and the masses combine to
fonn image of historical man. Even in the late books one can feel
the passionate interest Fuchs took in these images. "It i not the
least glory of the Chinese ridge turrets", he writes, "that they
represent an anonymous folk art. There are no heroic epics to
celebrate their creators.
, ,
66
Whether such contemplation of un­
known craftsmen and the work of their hands doe not contribute
more to the humanizing of mankind than the cult of the leader,
which i apparently once more to be inficted on it-that, like so
much about which the past has vainly sought to instruct us, only the
future can tell.
6S
See
Erich Klossowski, Honore Daumier, Munich I g08, p 1 1 3.
66
Dachreiter,
P
45.
1937
Bibliographical Note
The frst publication of the text included i n this volume was as
follows :
"One-Way Street" : Einbahnstrasse, Rowohlt, Berlin 1 928.
"Fate and Character" : Die Argonauten, I, 1 92 1 .
"Critique of Violence" : Archiv fir SozialwissenschaJt und Sozial­
politik, XLVII, 1 920/ 1 92 1 .
"The Destructive Character" : Frankfurte Zeitung, LXXVI,
November 20, 1 93 1 .
"Naples" : Frankurte Zeitung, LXX, August 1 9, 1 925.
"Moscow" : Di Kreatur, II, 1 927.
"Marseilles" : Neu Schweize Rundschau, XXII, 1 929.
"Hashish in Marseilles" : Frankfurte Zeitung, LXXVII, Decem­
ber 4, 1 932.
"Surrealism" : Literarisch Welt, V, 1 929, i n four instalments.
"A Small History of Photography" : Literarische Welt, VII, 1 931 ,
in three instalments.
"Karl Kraus" : Frankfurte Zeitung, LXXVI, 1 931 , in four
instalments.
"Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian" : Zeitschri fir Sozial­
forschung, October 1937.
Texts unpublished in Benjamin's life-time first appeared post­
humously thus :
"On Language as Such and on the Language of Man" : Schriten,
Vol. I, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt 1 955.
"Theologico-Political Fragment" : Schriften, Vol. I, Frankfurt
1 955·
"On the Mimetic Faculty" : Schriten, Vol. I, Frankfurt 1 955.
"A Berlin Chronicle" : Berline Chronik, edited by Gershom
Scholem, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt 1 970.
Abbot, Berenice, 249
Abraham a Santa Clara, 272
Adorno, Gretel, 2 I n
Adorno, Theodor, 1 8, 24 and n, 25
and n, 26 and n, 27, 3 1 , 37 and n
Altenberg, Peter, 265, 281
Apollinaire, Guillaume, 227, 230, 232,
233, 236
Arago, Dominique Francois, 241, 242,
246
Aragon, Louis, 1 0, 225, 226, 227, 229,
232, 233, 238
Atget, Eugene, 249 and n, 250, 256
Auerbach, Erich, 228
Baedeker, Karl, 1 68
Bach, D. , 358n
Bakunin, Mikhail A., 236
Balzac, Honore de, 372 and n, 373
Barras, Paul Francois de, 377n
Bartram, 1 84
Bastian, Adolf, 1 84
Batault, Georges, 385n
Baudelaire, Charles, 8, 9, 20, 22, 23,
24, 35, 48, 5 1 , 235, 256, 275, 382
Bayard, Emile-Antoine, 246
Bebel, August, 349, 357
Beethoven, Ludwig van, 66
Bekessy, Imre, 280
Belmore, H. W. , 1 5n
Beraud, Henri, 233
Bernhard, Lucien, 3 I 2
Berrichon, Paterne, 235
Bismarck, Otto von, 353, 369
Bloch, Ernst, 30, 3 1 , 32, 33, 1 55
Bios, Wilhelm, 354
Index
Blossfeldt, Karl, 244 and n, 254
Bloy, Leon, 278
Boehn, Max von, 379
Boisseree, Johann Sulpiz, 384
Bonnard, Abel, 375n
Bossert, Helmut, 241 n
Brahe, Tycho, 1 03
Brandes, Georg, 364
Brecht, Bertolt, 7, 1 8, 255, 271
Brentano, Bernhard von, 245
Breton, Andre, 1 0, 1 3 1 , 225, 226, 227,
228, 229, 230, 23 I , 232, 234
Bronnen, Arnolt, 1 98
Buber, Martin, 30
Biichner, Georg, 239
Bukharin, Nikolai, 239
Busoni, Ferruccio Benvenuto, 249
Burkhardt, Jakob, 367
Calderon, de la Barca, Pedro, 1 00
Cali ban, 280
Calver, Richard, 354
Calvin, John, 350
Cameron, Julia Margaret, 240
Carrel, Frank, 276
Chateaubriand, Francois Rene
Auguste, 375n
Chirico, Giorgio de, 230
Claudel, Paul, 235
Claudius, Matthias, 268, 287
Cohen, Hermann, 1 50 and n
Cohn, Alfred, 320 and n
Cohn, Julia, 32 I n
Copernicus, Nicolaus, 1 03
Corbusier, 236
390
Condorcet, Marie Jean Antoine
Nicolas, 370
Coulon, Marcel, 235
Courier, Paul-Louis, 276
Daguerre, Louis, 240, 241 , 246, 256
Dante Alighieri, 221 , 229, 374
Danzel, 353
Darwin, Charles, 1 33
Daudet, Leon, 295
Daumier, Honore, 361 n, 365n, 380,
381 , 382, 383, 386
Dauthendey, 243, 244
Delaroche, Paul, 248
Delacroix, Ferdinand Victor Eugene,
373
Desnos, Robert, 225
Destinn, Emmy, 333
Dablin, Alfred, 252
Dollfuss, Engelburt, 39
Dostoevsky, Fyodor, 3 I, 48, 234, 235
Doyle, Arthur Conan, 49
Drumont, Edouard, 373 and n
du Camp, Maxime, 358
Ducasse, Isidore, see Lautreamont
Duhamel, Georges, 233
Eisenstein, Sergei, 252
Eluard, Paul ( Eugene Grindel ) , 225,
228
Engels, Friedrich, 349, 350, 35 I, 356,
357, 359, 364, 370, 371
Epicurus, 3 1 7
Ernst, Max, 230
Fabre-Luce, Alfred, 233
Ferri, Enrico, 369
Feuerbach, Ludwig, 35m
Fichte, Johann Gottlieb, 350
France, Anatole, Uacques Anatole
Fran�ois Thibault), 1 49
Frankel, Fritz, 2 1 6
Frescata, 279
Freud, Sigmund, 1 8, 380
Fuchs, Eduard, 41 , 349-386
Fuller, 227
Gavarni, Paul ( Sui pice Guillaume
Chevalier), 383
George, Stefan, 282, 307
Gervinus, 353, 374 and n
Girardi, Alexander, 283
Gliick, Gustav, 37, 258
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 9 and
n, 1 9, 2 1 , 25, 3 1 , 32, 4
7, 67, 252, 259,
268, 35 1 , 362
Green, Anna Katharine, 49
Grosz, George, 1 77, 361 n
Gundolf, Friedrich, 25
Gutermann, Norbert, 367n
Guttmann, Heinrich, 241 n
Guttmann, Simon, 3 1 0, 3 I 2
Haecker, Theodor, 281
Hamann, . J ohann Georg, I 1 4, I 18
Hauf, Wilhelm, 322n
Hauptmann, Gerhart, 37 I
Heartfeld, John (Helmut Herzfelde) ,
36m
Hebel, Johann Peter, 239, 262, 263
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 350,
364
Heidegger, Martin, 27, 30, 38
Heine, Heinrich, 260, 287, 353, 371
Heinle, Friedrich C. , 306, 307, 308,
3 1 0, 3 1 1 , 3 1 2
Hertz, Henri, 230
Herzfelde, Wieland, 3 1 0
Hessel, Franz, 297, 299
Hill, David 0., 240, 24m, 242, 244,
245, 248
Hillel, 1 03
Hiller, Kurt, 1 52n
Hirsch, Julian, 353
Hofmann, E. T. A. , 37 1
Hofmannsthal, Hugo von, 32
Halderlin, Friedrich, 67, 307
Haity, Ludwig, Heinrich, 284
Horkheimer, Max, 24n, 40, 41 , 375n,
' 78n
Hugo, Victor, 235, 240, 370, 37 1 ,
385n
Jentsch, Hans Gabriel von, 354
Jensen, Johannes, 220
Joel, Ernst, 305
Kafka, Franz, 9, 1 4, 1 5, 1 8, 23, 247
Kainz, Josef, 333, 334
Kant, Immanuel, 29, 1 38, 264, 350,
357, 370n, 375
Kastner, Erich, 25n
Kautsky, Karl, 349, 36gn
Keller, Gottfried, 35 1
Kepler, Johannes, 1 03
Kerr, Alfred, 280
Kierkegaard, Soren, 23, 1 1 9, 270, 279
Klee, Paul, 9, 289
Knoche, 332
Korn, Karl, 356, 357 and n
Klossowski, Erich, 386n
Kracauer, Siegfried, 1 8, 245
Kraemer, Hans, 354
Kraft, Werner, 24n
Kraus, Karl, 9, 23, 25, 26, 28, 3 1 , 37,
38, 39, 79, 222, 258-29
°
, 379
Krull, Germaine, 254
Lacis, Asja, I
I n, 32, 33,
36, 40, 45,
1 67
Lamartine, Alphonse de, 376
Lamprecht, Karl, 360
Landau, Louise von, 331
Langen, Albert, 355n
Lasker-Schuler, Else, 28 I, 31 0
Lassalle, Ferdinand, 276, 349, 356
Laufenberg, Heinrich, 369n
Lautreamont ( Isidore Ducasse), 227,
234, 235
Lefebvre, Henri, 376n
Lenin, V. I. , 1 82, 1 89, 196, 200, 20 1 ,
207, 208, 227
Leonardo, 240
Lichtenberg, George Christoph, 96,
290
Lichtwark, Alfred, 252
Liebknecht, Wilhelm, 349
Liegler, Leopold, 268
Liguori, Alfonso Maria de, 1 67
Lombroso, Cesare, 367
Loos, Adolf, 259, 265, 271 , 281 , 289
Louis VII, 228
Louis-Philippe, 372
Lowy, Michael, 30n
Lowenthal, Leo, 41
Lukacs, Georg, 30, 3 1 , 33
Luther, Martin, 350
Mallarme, Stephane, 61 , 62, 67
Machiavelli, Niccolo, 374
Male, Emile, 363n
Marolles, 383
Marx, Karl, 18, 23, 1 46, 278, 287,
349, 35 1 n, 356, 361 , 364, 368n, 370,
371
Matkowsky, Adalbert, 333
Max, A.
, 355n,
:{
7
I n
Mehring, Franz,
38,
:H9. :{:,o. :{:,:i,
360n, 364 and n, 37 I
Meidner, Ludwig, 3 I I
Meyer, Gustav, 350n
3
9
1
Meyerhold, Karl Theodor Ka.imir,
1 96
Michaelis, Karin, 269
Michelet, Jules, 371
Mickiewicz, Adam, 235
Milton, John, 235
Mograby, 1 73
Mobius, Theodor, 367
Moholy-Nagy, Laszl6, 254
Moliere Uean Baptiste Poquelin) , qo
Monticelli, Adolphe, 2 I I
Montesquieu, ( Charles de SeCllndal ) ,
35
°
Montez, Lola, 354
Muller, Friedrich, 1 1 8, 1 2 1 , 351
Murillo, Bartolome Esteban, 366
Musset, Alfred de, 235
Nadar (Felix Tournachon) , 240, 246
Naville, Pierre, 232, 237
Nerval, Gerard de, 371
Nestroy, Johann, 270, 280, 281
Niepce, Joseph Nicephore, 240
Nierendorf, Karl, 244n
Nietzsche, Friedrich 1 26, 239, 260,
283, 3 I 9, 355
Novalis, (Friedrich Leopold), 29
Ofenbach, Jacques, 270, 279n, 280,
281 , 282
Orlik, Emile, 245, 248
Oud, Jacobus Johannes Pieter, 236
Paderewski, Ignace Jean, 249
Paganini, Nicolo, 249
Pau, Ludwig, 358
Peladan, Josephin, 1 68
Peter the Great, 1 97
Petrarch, 22 I
Pfempfert, Franz, 308n, 31 0
Pilniak, Boris ( Boris Andreyevich
Vogau), 1 86, 1 97
Pierson, 246
Pindar, 332
Piscator, Erwin, I I
Plekhanov, G. V. , 349, 368n
Pollak, Dora, 39
Poe, Edgar Allan, 48, 236
392
Pompey, 320, 32 I
Porta, Giovanni Battista, 246
Pottner, Emile, 36 I 
Proust, Marcel, 9, 1 2, 1 4, 1 5, 23, 67,
1 84, 1 98, 295, 296
Pudovkin, Vsevolod lIarionovich, 252
Pufahl, Helene, 331
Quincey, Thomas de, 37 I
Quinet, Edgar, 371
Radt, Fritz, 32 I 
Radt, Grete, 320, 32 1 n
Raimund, Ferdinand, 283
Rang, Christian Florens, 1 8
Ranke, Leopold von, 352
ai-Rashid, Haroun, 267
Recht, Camille, 249
Rembrandt (van Rijn) , 21 8
Renvers, Professor R. , 326 and n
Ribera, Jusepe, 366
Riegl, Alois, 320
Rilke, Rainer Maria, 299
Rimbaud, Arthur, 226, 227, 234, 235,
239
Robespierre, Maximilien, 375
Rodin, Auguste, 361
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 350
Rowalt, Ernst, 20
Ryazanov, David, 35I ll
Rychen, Max, 37
Sacco, Nicola, 227
Sade, Comte de, 377n
Saint-Pol Roux (Paul Roux) , 226, 233
Saint-Simon, 358
Sander, August, 251 n, 252, 254
Scheerbart, Paul, 232, 289
Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm von, 245
Scheu, Robert, 265, 276
Schiller, Friedrich von, 286
Schlegel, Friedrich von, 29
Schlossen, F. C. , 374, 375
Schmidt, Erich, 353
Schober, Johannes, 280
Schoen, Ernst, 320
Scholem, Gershom, 8 and n, 14 and n, '
1 5, 1 7 , 1 9 and n, 23, 26, 30, 3 1 and f,
33 and n, 34, 35, 36, 38
Schopenhauer, 251
Schwarz, Heinrich, 24I ll
Seligson, Carla, 308n
Seligson, Rika, 308n
Seligson, Traute, 308n
Shakespeare, William, 1 00, 1 98, 258,
270, 280, 281 , 286, 351 , 374
Slevogt, Max, 361 and n
Smith, Adam, 350
Sorel, Georges, 1 45n, 1 46, 1 50
Soupault, Philippe, 225, 235
Southey, Robert, 235
Spinoza, Baruch, 1 33
Stalin, Joseph, 36
Stahr, Adolf Wilhelm, 353
Stelzner, 246
Stifter, Adalbert, 263, 264, 286, 288
Stone, Sasha, 254
Sttssl, Franz, 262
Swift, Jonathan, 278
Szonti, Peter, I I n
Timon, 280
Titian, (Tiziano Vecelli), 369n
Toulouse-Lautrec, 361 n
Tretiakov, Sergei, 1 84
Trostsky, Leon, 1 3n, 238
Tzara, Tristan, 254
U ccello, Paolo, 363n
Ullstein, lise, 33 I
Unger, 1 43n, 1 45n
Utrillo, Maurice, 242
Vanzetti, Bartolomeo, 227
Vecchio, Palma, 369n
Veronese, Paolo ( Paolo Cagliari) , 369n
Viertel, Berthold, 269, 282
Vogt, Karl, 239
Wagner, Richard, 27
Walser, Robert, 9, 1 9
Walzel, Oskar, 1 97
Weber, Alfred, 359n
Weber, Marianne, 306
Wedekind, Frank, 28 1 , 378
Weininger, Otto, 281
Wiertz, Antoine J. , 255, 256
Winckelmann, 362, 384
Witte, Bernd, 32n, 37n
Wolfin, Heinrich, 363 and n
Walraf, Ferdinand Franz, 384
Zobeltitz, Feodor von, 375n

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