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Walter BenJoamin

One- Way Street
C//cr rt/tn_:
TransIafors Ldmundjehcoff

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.
Introduction by Susan Sontag
Publisher's Note
One- Way Street
On Language as Such and on the Language ofMan
Fate and Character
Critique ofViolence
" Theologico-Political Fragment
The Destructive Character
On the Mimetic Faculty
Hahish in Marseilles
, Surrealism
A Small History ofPhotography
'Karl Kraus
A Berlin Chronicle

Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian
Bibliographical Note
busan bOn!ag
In most ofthe portrait photographs he is ooking down, his right
hand to his face. The eariest one I knowshows him m i gc;he
abovea fuI owerip. youthfuI, amosthandsome. With his head
Iowered, hisjacketed shouIden seem to start behind his ears , his
thumb Ieans against his jaw, the rest of the hand, cigarette
Iook through his gIassesthe soft, day-dreamer's gaze of the
myopicseems toboat oto theIowere ofthe photograph.
In a picture from the Iate i gjos, the cury hair h hardIy
receded, but there is no trace ofyouth or handsomeness, the face
h widened and the upper torso seems not just high but bocky,
huge. The thicker moustache and the pudgy foded hand with
thumb tucked under cover his mouth. The ook is opaque, or
just more inward. he couId b thinkingor Iistening. ('Hewho
istens 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 ast of
severa visits he made t Brechtin exie 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, corpuent
hgure, Iooking trucuIentIy at the camera.
Anotherpicture,fromi gj;,showsBenjaminintheBibIiothcque
NationaIe in Paris. Two men, neitherofwhose face can be seen,
sharea tabIesomedistancebehindhim. Benjaminsiuintheright
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 Beamin in Berlin in 1 91 3, at ajoint 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 . . . '

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!Ee th"o!. Bt_(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.
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
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

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.")

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 recetcf_ d!s es
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(_gioe_ _ cleeway:
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, ined.
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
Things appear at a distance, come forward slowly. In Berlin
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
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 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 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
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
allegorie of historical pessimism) . /Each book is a tacti/, he

rote. Ti'a letterto afrien

, he claimed for his writings, only artly
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

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


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 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"
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
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
panning ancssayabout miniaturizationasadcvicc offantasy. It
sccmstohavcbccnacontinuationof anodpantowritconOocthc's
'Thc Ncw Mcusina" in Wilhelm Meister),l1 which u about a
man who fas inovc withawomanwhoLactuayatinypcrson,
tcmporariygrantcdnormasizc, andunknowingycarriearound
with him a box containing thc miniaturc kingdomofwhich shc u
thc princcss. In Oocthc's tac, thc word urcduccdtoacocctibc
thing, anobjcct, in thcmostitcrascnsc.
word butitscfaittc word. Thc bookuaminiaturizationofthc
word, which thc rcadcr inhabits. In Berlin Chronicle, Bcnjamin
cvokcshischidhood rapturc. 'You didnotrcad books through,
you dwct, abidcd bctwccn thcir incs. "To rcading, thc dcirium
of thc chid, w cvcntuay addcd writing, thc obscssion ofthc
adut. Thcmostpraiscworthywayofacquiringbooksuby writing
thcm, Bcnjaminrcmarksin'!npackingMy Library'. '

And thc
bcstway to undcrstandthcmis asotocntcrthcirspacc. onc ncvcr
rcay undcrstands a book unc onc copie it, hc says in One-Way
Street, as onc ncvcr undcrstandsa andscap from an airpanc but
ony by waking through it.
'Thcamountofmcaningu incxactproportiontothcprcscncc
ofdcath and thc powcrofdccay', Bcnjaminwritcsin thc bookon
thc Trauerspiel. This u what make it possibc to hnd mcaning
in onc's own ifc, in 'thc dcad occurrcnce ofthc past which arc
cuphcmisticay known cxpcricncc'. ny bccausc thc past is
dcad u onc abc to rcad it. nIy bccausc history u fctishizcd in
physica objccts can onc undcrstand it. ny bccausc thc book u
a word can onc cntcr it. Thc book for him was anothcr spacc in
which to stro. For thc charactcr bon undcr thc sign ofSaturn,
thc trucimpusc whcnonc u bcingookcd at utocast down onc's
cycs, ook in a corncr. Bcttcr, onc can owcr onc's hcad to onc's
notcbook. r putonc's hcad bchindthcwaofa book.
Benjamin's letter (No. 326 in the Briie) to Gretel Adorno, written in
Paris on January 1 7, 1 940.
In Il uminations, London, 1970, an earlier selection of Benjamin's writings,
edited by Hannah Arendt, which include the essays on Kafa and Proust.
It is charactcristic ofthc Saturninc tcmpcramcnt to bamc its
undcrtow of inwardnc on thc wi. Convinccd that thc wi is
wcak, thc mcIanchoIicmay makc cxtravagantcorts to dcvcopit.
Ifthcs corts arc succcssfu, thc rcsuting hypcrtrophy ofwi
usuaIy take thc fonn ofa compuIsivc dcvotion to work. Thus
BaudcIairc, who sucrcd constantyfrom 'accdia, thc maady of
monks',cndcdmanyIcttcnandhisIntimat Journal withthcmost
impassioncd pIcdge to work morc, to work unintcrruptcdy, to
do nothing but work. Dcspair ovcr 'cvcry dcfcat ofthc wiI'
artistsand intccctuas, particuarIyofthoscwhoarc both.) nc
Lvcnthcdrcamincofthcmcanchoictcmpcramcntis harncsscd
towork,and thcmcIanchoicmaytrytocutivatcphantasmagori-
ca statcs, Iikc drcams, or scck thc accc to conccntratcd state of
attcntion ocrcd by drugs. Surrcaism simpy puts a positivc
acccnt on what Baudcairc cxpcricnccd so ncgativcy. it doe not
dcpIorcthcguttcringofvoitionbutraiseitto idca, proposing
that drcam state may b rcicd on to furnish a thc matcria
nccdcd forwork.
Bcnjamin, aIways working, aIways trying to work morc,
spccuIatcd a goo dca on thc writcr's daiy cxistcncc. One- Wq
Street h scvcra scctiom which ocr 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 a coIcctorscrvcd him wcI.
from daiy rcading which Bcnjamin accumuatcd m notcbooks
that hc carricd cvcrywhcrc and from which hc woud rcad aoud
to fricnds. Thinking w as a fonn of coIccting, at Icast in its
prciminary stagcs. Hc conscicntiousy Ioggcd stray idcas, dcvc-
Iopcd mini-cssays in Icttcn to fricnds, rcwrotc pIans for futurc
projccts, notcd his drcams scvcra arc rccountcd n One-Wq
Street); kcpt numbcrcd Iisu of aI thc books hc rcad. SchoIcm
rccaIssccing, on hssccondandIastvisitto Bcnjamin inParis,in
i g8, a notcbook ofcurrcnt rcading in which Marx's Eighteent
Introduction 23
Brumaire is istcd No. i Gg. )
How doethc mcanchoic bccomc ahcro ofwi ? Through thc
fact that workcan bccomc ikc a drug, a compusion. 'Thinking
whichisancmincntnarcotic`,hcwrotcinthccssayonSurrcaism. )
Infact, mcanchoic makc thc bcst addicts, for thc truc addictivc
cxpcricnccis awaysasoitaryonc. Thc hashishscssiomofthc atc
i gzos, supcrviscdby adoctorfricnd,wcrc prudcntstunts, not acts
of scf-surrcndcr, matcria for thc writcr, not cscap from thc
cxactiom ofthc wi. Bcnjamin considcrcd thc book hc wantcd
towritconhashishoncofhismostimportantprojccts. )
Thc nccd to b soitaryaongwith bittcrncss ovcr onc's onc-
incssischaractcristicofthc mcanchoic. To gctworkdonc, onc
must b soitaryor, at cast, not bound to any pcrmancnt rca-
tionship. Bcnjamin'sncgativc fccings aboutmarriagc an ccarin
thc cssay on Oocthc's Elective Afnities. His hcrocsKicrkcgaard,
Baudcairc, Proust, Ka!ka, Krausncvcr marricd, and Schocm
rcports that Bcnjamin camc to rcgardhis own marriagc hc was
marricd in i gi ;, cstrangcd from hiswifc aftcr i gci , anddivorccd
in tgo) 'fataItohimsc!'. Thcwordofnaturc, andofnatura
rcationships, is pcrccivo by thc mcanchoic tcmpcramcnt as
css than scductivc. Thc scf-portraitinBerlin Childhood and Berlin
Chronicle is ofa whoy aicnatcd son, husband and fathcr hc
had a son, bon in i gi 8, who cmigratcd to Lngand with Bcn-
jamin'scx-wifc in thc mid-i gos), hc appcars to havc simpy not
known what to do with thcs rcationships. For thc mcanchoic,
thc natura, inthc form offamiy tics, introduce thc fascy sub-
jcc:ivc, thcscntimcnta , itisadrainon thcwi,ononc'sindcpcn-
dcncc, ononc'sfrccdom to conccntratc onwork. Itasprcscntsa
chacngc to onc's humanity to which thc mcanchoic knows, in
advancc, hc wi b inadcquatc.
Thcstycofworkofthcmcanchoicisimmcrsion, totaconccn-
tration. Lithcr onc is immcrscd, or attcntion oau away. A a
writcr, Bcnjamin was capabc of cxtraordinary conccntration.
Hc wasabc to rcscarchandwritc The Origin i Germa Trauerspiel
intwoycars, somc ofit, hc boasuinBerlin Chronicle, wwrittcnin
ongcvcnings at a caf,sittingcostoajazz band. Butathough
Bcnjamin wrotc proiIicayin somc pcriods turning out work
cvcry wcck for thc Ocrman itcrary papcn and magazincsit
provcdimpossibcforhimtowritcanorma-sizcd bookagain. Ina
cttcrin tgg_, Bcnjaminspcaksof'thc Saturninc pacc" ofwriting
Paris, Capital o the Nineteenth Centur, which hchad bcgun in i ge
and thought coud b hnishcd in two ycars. ' His charactcristic
formrcmaincdthccssay. Thc mcanchoic's intcnsity and cxhaus-
tivcncss of attcntion sct natura imits to thc cngth at which
Bcnjamin coud cxpicatc hisidcas. His majorcssays sccm to cnd
justin timc, bcforc thcy scf-dcstruct.
His scntcnccs do not sccm to bc gcncratcd in thc usua way,
thcy do not cntai. Lach scntcncc is writtcn ifit wcrc thc hrst,
or thc ast. 'A writcr must stop and rcstart with cvcry ncw
scntcncc', hcsaysin thc Prooguc to The Origin o German Trauer
spiel.) Mcnta and historica proccsse arc rcndcrcd conccptua
tabcaux, idcas arc transcribcd in extremi and thc intccctua
pcrspcctive arc vcrtiginous. His styc ofthinking and writing,
incorrccty cacd aphoristic, might bcttcr b cacd frcczc-framc
had to say cvcrything, bcforc thc inward gazc oftota conccntra-
tion dissovcd thc subjcct bcforc his cycs. Bcnjaminw probaby
notcxaggcratingwhcn hc tod Adorno thatcach idca in his book
on Baudcairc and ninctccnth-ccntury Paris 'had to b wrcstcd
awayfrom a rcaminwhich madnc ics'. '

Somcthing ikc thc drcad of bcing stoppcd prcmaturcIy ics

bchind thcsc scntcnce saturatcd with idcas thc surfacc ofa
baroqucpaintingisjammcdwithmovcmcnt. InacttcrtoAdorno,
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 woud ncvcr rcad morc than two or thrcc pagcs
in bcd of an cvcning bccausc thc pounding of my hcart was so
oud that I had to ct thc book fa from my hands. What a
, ,

Cardiacfaiurc isthc mctaphoricimitofBcnjamin's

cxcrtions and passions. Hc sucrcd from a hcart aimcnt.) And
cardiacsumcicncy is amctaphorhc ocnfor thc writcr's achicvc-
mcnt. In thc cssay in prais ofKar Kraus, Bcnjamin writcs . 'If
styIc is thc powcr to movc frccIy in thc cngth and brcadth of
inguistic thinking without faing into banaity, it is attaincd
chicy bythc cardiacstrcngthofgrcatthoughts, whichdrivcsthc
boo of anguagc through thc capiarics of syntax into thc
rcmotcst imbs." Thinking, writing arc utimatcy a qucstion of
stamina. Thc mcanchoIic, who fccs hc acks wi, may fcc that
'Truth rcsists bcing projcctcd into thc rcam ofknowcdgc',
Bcnjamin write in The Origi i German Trauerspiel. His dcnsc
prosc rcgistcn that rcsistancc, and cave no spacc for attacking
thosc who distributc ics. Bcnjamin considcrcd pocmic bcncath
thc dignityofa truIyphiosophicaI styc, and soughtinstcad what
hc caIcd 'thc func ofconccntratcd positivity'thc cssay on
Oocthc's Elective Af nities, with its dcvastating rcfutation of thc
critic and Oocthc biographcr Fricdrich Oundo!, bcing thc onc
cxccptionto this ruc amonghis majorwritings. Buthis awarcncss
of :hc cthicaI utiiy of pocmic madc him apprcciatc that onc-
man Vicnncs pubic institution, Kar Kraus, a writcr whosc
faciity,stridcncy, ovcofthc aphoristic, andindcfatigabcpocmic
cncrgicsmakc him b unikc Bcnjamin. '

Thc cssay on KrausisBcnjamin'smost passionatc and pcrvcrsc

dcfcncc ofthc Iifc ofthc mind. 'Thc pcrhdious rcproach ofbcing
Letter to Adorno (No. 26 in the Briife), written from Paris on May 3 1 , 1935.
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 inteIigent' haunted him throughout his Iife', Adorno has
written.'' Benjamin defended himsef against this phiistine
defamation by bravey raising the standard ofthe 'inhumanity"
oftheinteect,whenitisproperIythatis, ethicaIIyempIoyed.
'The Iife of etten is existence under the aegis of mere mind as
prostitution is existence under the aegis of mere sexuaIity', he
wrote.Thisis to ceebrate bothprostitution Krausdid,because
meresexuaityw sexuaityinapurestate) and the ifeofetters,
genuine anddemonicfunctionofmeremind, toba disturberof
the peace. " The ethica task of the modem writer is to b not a
creator but a destroyera destroyer of shaow inwardness, the
consoing notionofthe universaIy human, diIettantish creativity,
and emptyphrases.
The writerasscourge anddestroyer, portrayed in thehgureof
Kraus, he sketched with concision and even greater boIdnes in
theaegoricaI 'TheDestructive Character', asowrittenin tggt .
Thedateissuggestive. SchoemhaswrittenthatthehrstofseveraI
times Benjamin contempated suicidew in the summeroftgg!.
The second time w the foIowing summer, when he wrote
'Agesiaus Santander'. ) The Apoonian scourge whom Benja-
mincas thedestructive character'isaIwaysbIitheyatwork,...
hfew needs, . ..hnointerestinbeingunderstood, . . . isyoung
and cheerfu . . .and feeIs not that ife 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
Benjamin is not referringjust to his own destructiveness.He
thoughtthattherewapecuIiarIy modem temptationt suicide.
In 'The Paris ofthe Second Empire in BaudeIaire', he wrote,
'Theresistancewhichmodernityoen to the natura productive
an 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 seas
a heroic wi. . . . Itisthe achievementofmodernityin thereamof
passions . . . `. Suicideis understooaresponseoftheheroicwi
to the defeatofthe wi. The onywayto avoidsuicide, Benjamin
suggests, is tob beyond heroism, beyond eoru ofthewi. The
destructive character cannot fee trapped, because 'he see ways
he 'positions himsefat thecrossroads`.
Benj amin's portraitofthe destructive character woud evoke a
kind of Siegfried of the minda high-spirited, chidike brute
underthe protection ofthe godshad this apocayptic pessimism
not been quaihed by the irony aways within the range of the
Saturnine temperament. Irony is the positive name which the
meanchoicgivesto his soitude, hisasocia choices. In One- Way
Street Benjaminhaiedtheironythataowsindividuastoassertthe
right to ead ive independent of the community 'the most
European of a accompishments`, and observed that it had
competey deserted Oermany. Benjamin's taste for the ironic
and thesef-awareputhimomostofrecent Oerman cuture . he
detested Wagner, despised Heidegger, and scorned the frenetic
Passionatey,butasironicay,Benjaminpaced himsefatthe
crossroads. Itwimportantfor himtokeephismany'
open: the theoogica, the Surreaistaesthetic, the communist.
ne position corrects another. he nceded them a. Decisions, of
course, tended to spoi the baance ofthese positions, vaciation
kept everything in pace. The reason he gave for his

eay in
eavng France, when he astsawAdorno in eary tgg8, wasthat
Benj aminthoughtthe freeanceinteectuawadyingspecies
anyway, made no e obsoete by capitaist society than by
revoutionary communism, indeed he fet that he w ivingina
time in which everything vauabe w the ast of iu kind. He
gence. In his essay on Kraus, Benjamin asks rhetoricay: Does
Krausstand'atthethreshodofanew age?Aas,by no means. He
stands at the Lastjudgment.' Benjamin is thinking of himsef
Atthe Last judgment, the Last InteectuathatSaturninehero
ofmodem cuture, with his ruins, his dehantvisions, his reveries,
his unquenchabegoom, his downcast eyeswi! expain that he
righteousyandinhumany he coud.
Susan Sonta 1979
uOIshcs `O!c
Jhe backgroundandorganizationofthematerias incudedin this
voume need a few words of expanation. At its head stands
Benj amin'swork One- Wf Street I), theone other compete book
after The Origi q German Tragi Dram that he succeeded in
pubIishing in his ife-time, and the work that marks the main
watershed in his inteectua and poitica deveopment. There
foow hve group of shorter texts corresponding to successive
a chronoogica order, with some minor variations. They start
witha seectionofBenjamin'smetaphysica writings, argeyfrom
the earyyean:g:Gto:gc: II) , proceedtoaserieof townscapes
written between :gc and :gc8 III) , present a trio of major
aesthetic essays of the ater Weimar period, dating from igcg to
:g1 IV) , thenmoveto the autobiographicawritingof:gc that
washiscosingprojectbeforethevictoryofNazism V) ,andhnay
concude with a representative theoretica study from the time of
hisexieinFrance, composedin:g; VI) . Somebriefremarksmay
serve to cari[ this sequence.
ideaism that dominated the Oerman universities in the years
before the First Word War, athough his own admiration for
Kant w tempered by his attraction towards the romantic
aesthetic theorie of Schege and Novais, constructed in part
against the egacy of Kant. His deepest convictions at this date,
however, seem to have been reigious in theoogica amnity
cosest to jewish mysticism, and in specuative focus trained
primariy on anguage. Poiticay, he had broken with the eitist
and nationaistJugendbewegung, ofwhich he had been active
member a student, when its eaden raied to the imperiaist
wareortini giq.Duringthewar,theastpartofwhichhespentin
neutra Switzerand, he shared the radica anarchist sympathies
ofhisfriendOerhardSchoem. Thegroupofearytexubeow (II)
rehectsthisyouthfuoutook. Benjaminw eqwhenhe wrotethe
or idosyncratic they might appear to a contemporary reader.
The great metaphysica interest in anguage envinced in On
Language 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 medieva rather than
bibica direction. The messianic conception ofsocia revoution
as the descent ofan eschatoogica savation, marked in Critique
i Violence and the Theologico-Political Fragment, was ikewise not
conhned t Benjamin. His eden Lrnst Boch and Oeoq Lukcs
had independenty deveoped a very simiar mystico-poit

radicaism in the yean before the First Word War. Lukc had
beenattractedby ChristianandHassidicdoctrineofredemption
theatterundertheinuence ofBuber), and evenHindunotions
Boch's hrst major work, De Geist de Utopie, pubished
in i gi 8, w exatedcaIfora new terrestriaorder anda new
church to ink it to the supernatura order above, which saw the

refuge in Switzerand, forming a cose friendship with him. Fate
and Characte was pubished in Boch's expressionist review Die
Argonauten, as was Benjamin's hrst signihcant iterary essay, on
See Michael Uwy, Georg Lukacs-From Iealism 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 centra book for ths generation) , the
Theologico-Political Fragment expressyinvokesDer Geist der Utopie.
Inthepost-warepoch, a threemendiscovered Marxism. Lukcs
abandoned the universe ofreigion atogether, becominga major
theorist and miitant in the ranks ofthe Third Internationa.
Bochfusedreigiousandpoitica themeintoasingemienarian
cosmoogy. Benjamin's encounter with Marxism occurred ater,
and its resuu were more cryptic. His deveopment reveas an
unmistakabe evoution towards a more coherent materiaism.
Buttherewasnoinwardrupturewithhiseariermysticism,M that
he coudwriteshorttextsinthe:godirectycontinuousinidiom
and preoccupation with those ofa decade before. The Destructive
Characte and On the Mimetic Faculty, incudedinthis coection, are
cases in point pendants respectivey to Fat and Characte and On
Language Such and the Language i Man;
whie the unpubished
Theologico-Political Fragment of :gcoc: so ceary adumbrates
theme in These on the Philosoph i Histor of i go that Adorno
coud ong beieve it to have been composed as ate as :g8. n
the other hand, with very few exceptions the essay on Kar
Kraus and the Theses Benjamin did not attempt anysyncretism
ofthe two source ofhis beie either. His thought retained what
Schoem has apty caed a 'two-track" cast.

mystica and materiaist motiE were distied into separate
writings, whose precis inter-reationship remained enigmatic,
often exasperatingy so, to his secuar and reigious admirers
aikc. Thebaance,however,wtoshi6quaitativeybetweenthe
twointhetrajectoryofhs work.
Aftcr theWar, Benjamin'shrstmajorpubicationwasaongessay
onOoethe'sElective Afnities, composedin i gcc.Arcaneinstyeand
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.
metaphysica M register, it htted no conventiona category of
iterary criticism, contemporaneous or subsequent. The Austrian
poet and paywright Hugo Von Hofmannstha warmy approved
the essay and pubished it in his recenty founded review Neue
Deutsche Beitrige in i gcc. Hofmannstha's cutura authority
inteectua ife, this was, at east, probaby Benjamin's own
expectation. In fact, however, the Neue Deutsche Beitrige proved
to b a hasco as ajourna . the mixture ofconservative nostagia
and reigious restorationism that dominated its pages consigned
itto avirtuayprivatebackwaterin Weimar cuture.

tion was M sma that Benjamin's essay found no resonance in
Oerman etten at the time. His hrst attempt to estabish himsef
asacriticdrew, ineect,abank. Hissecondwasmoreambitious.
From March i gc to Apri i gc he worked on a post-doctora
thesisforthe !niversityofFrankfurton Oerman baroque drama.
Ifaccepted, thiswoudaord him a secure academic career. The
to whom it was submitted. Forewarned of rejection, Benjamin
withdrew the text. Lventuay pubished in i gc8 as The Origin i
German Tragic Drama, its utimate fame was to be entirey post-
humous. At the timeofits appearance, itwasgreetedwith sience
and incomprehension in Oermany. The dua faiure ofhis work
on Ooethe and the Baroque to win even an initiated pubic was
inBenjamin'sworkafter i gc.
There were two others. In the cosing stages ofhis work on the
Oerman Trauerspiel, BenjaminhadstayedforsomemonthsinCapri
inate igc, inthecompanyofBoch. Therehemetandfeinove
with Asja Lacis, 'a Russian revoutionary from Riga, one ofthe
most remarkabe women I have ever met`.

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
tostudyLukcs'sHistor and Class Consciousness, ofwhichBochhad
just written a review, and the poitica practice ofcontemporary
communism. The beginning of his movement towards Marxism
thus coincided with the competionofThe Origin of German Tragic
Drama. In the autumn of i gc, after the faiure of his thesis at
Irankfurt, he visited Asja Lacis in Riga. He was now, Schoem
reports, activey considering whether tojoin the KPD L not.'
in part promptedbyatransformationinhis economicsituation.
Benj amin had hitherm been hnanciaysupported by hisfather, a
we-oart deaer in Berin, with attendant tensions between the
two. The onsetofthe great inhation ofi gc struck at his father's
fortune, eading him to suggest that Benjamin take up empoy-
mentina bank. The projectoftheHabilitationsschrit had thusaso
appointment. In the aftermath of its failure, Benjamin had to
ook for aternative ways of earning his iving. The soution he
adoptedwas to bjournaism. Irom i gcG onwards, the character
ofhis output underwenta drasticoutward aterationin aword,
from hermeticism to pubicism. He became a proihc book-
reviewer, trave-reporter and radio-scriptwriter, forsaking his
more esoteric diction for an oIten disconcertingy concrete an-
guage, metaphysica for more topica terrains.
One- W q Street, forthemostpartwrittenbetweenAugust i gc and
September i gcG, represenu the staccato announcement ofthese
changes. Iu hrst ines 'Iiing Station') procaim the end of
'the pretentiousuniversagestureofthe book', in favourofforms
aternating between action and writing, 'eahets, brochures,
artices and pacards'. Lsewhere 'Attested Auditor ofBooks')
it decares . 'Printing, havingfoundin the bookarefuge in which
toead anautonomousexistence, ispitiessy draggedoutontothe
streetby advertisements andsubjectedtothe bruta heteronomies
ofeconomic chaos. This is the hard schooing of its new form. '
Scholem, Geschichte einer Freundschaft, p. 1 56.
Composed of a mosaic of aphoristic paragraphs, captioned by
pacards of urban scenery, One- W f Street is deiberatey at the
antipodesofthetreatiseform ofThe Origi oGerman Tragi Drama.
Its debts to surreaism intercaation of dreams) and to photo-
montageareobvious . pointento the profound transformationin
Beamin's conception of contemporary art that was eventuay
to hnd formuation in the subversive functionaism of his essays
of the thirties. Simutaneousy, One- W f Street set out the pro-
gramme of what w to b his critica practice in the Weimar
press .'Thecriticisthestrategistofiterarystrugge'.Thepoitica
overtoneofthe phrasewhatSchoemnotedthe'background
thunder of Marxist vocabuary" in the passage Benjamin read
to him before pubicationwere not fortuitous. The origina
kerne ofthe work was, in ct, the section subtited '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
The materia crisis ofthe Oermaninteigentsia evoked here was
to b one of the most constant theme of his journaistic inter-
ventions, recurring again and again in his book reviews of the
atertwenties. Thepoiticaconcusions he drewfrom itwerenow
intransigenty radica. Where he had written with contempative
resignationin the earydra6ofi geg. 'But no-onemayevermake
peace with poverty when it fa|s ike a gigantic shadow upon his
countrymenandhishouse. Thenhemustbaerttoeveryhumiia-
tiondonetohimands discipinehimsefthathissueringbecomes
noongerthedownhiroadofhate , buttherisingpathofprayer', "
henow reversed the terms ofthe same passage, toread: "s dis-
cipine himsefthat his suering no onger become the downhi
roadofgrie buttherisingpathofrevot'. The chang canstand
as themottoofhispoiticaradicaization.
" 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 Benamin'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 swil
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 inconpcuous hxture of existence, its reects'.1 0 The
ka|eidoscop ofurban obects, warnings, bui|dings, amusements,
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 proect 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 maor 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,shed . . . the workwith whiu I amat
present circumspect|y, provisiona||y occupiedthe high|y re-
markab|e and extreme|y precarious essay ' lariiJ Arcas : a
Dialectical Fairyland-t wi c|ox for me a productive cyc|e
th( o{ Q_jratherin thesense thatthe Tragedy book
c|osed my germanistic cy|e. Inittheworld|y themeofOne- Way
SeviIl ah past in 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.
historca| i||uminations of Benamin's work, of which One- WI
Street endswith one ofthe most memorab|e . perhaps thehrst and
certain|y the hnestbecause most temperate and rationa|
Townscapes were to b a recurring motifin Benamin's wntmg
henceforward. The group pub|ished in this vo|ume III) starts
with a description of Nap|e written in co||aboration with Asa
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
ofhisourna|istic practice. The essayon Moscow|ikewise owes its
origin to Benamin'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
inthehna| monthsofSta|in'sdrive to e|iminate theLe 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 conicts in the
internationa|communistmovementofthetime. Scho|emrecounts
that it wa during this stay in Moscow that Benamin hna||y
decidedagainstoining the KPD. ) 14 Thetwotextson Marsei||es,
written in |ate i gc8, are ofa very dierent character, reecting
Benamin'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 Benamin 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 ofBenamin, it
wa forhis critica| artic|e as apub|icistin these two organs, each
ofwhich enoyedawide circu|ation, thatBenaminwaknownin
Germany during his |ife-time. ' The essay on Surrea|ism, in its
de|icate b|end ofsympathy and severity, represents Benamin's
maor reection 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 Benamin's great study of The Work o Art in
the Age o Mechanical Reproduction of i gG. The essay on Kraus is
Gustav G|ck, 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
and high|y wrought, it is Benamin's one sustained attempt to
Cha||enged by Ma Rychner, the editor ofthe Neue Schweizer
Rundschau, as to where he stood in the irreconci|ab|e conict
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', Benamin 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
saturation ofbourgeois science, on the other hand, there exists
, ,
' ' 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. ,
receivingfrom Benamin acopyofthis |etter, wrote back trench-
ant|y that for a|l his admiration of the essay on Kraus he fe|t
ob|igedtosaythatBenaminwasdeceiving himse|fifhe thought
that a sympathetic reader 'cou|d hnd anyustihcation 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'. '" ReprhingBenamin 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, Benamin defended his politica| choice
'to hang the red ag out of my window',' but wa in eect
unable to demonstrate that his essay on Kraus had actua||y
achieved the synthesis he claimed. A |iterary tour d force
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
expre the hop that other readers have understoo it better
perhapitispsychoanalysis) .

'' Benaminkeptadignihedsi|ence
at thisattack. Threeyeanlater,whenKrausra||iedtothec|erica|
fascism ofDol|fuss, he noted 'the capitu|ation to Austro-fascism,
the admiration for the rhetoric ofStarhemberg" in Di Fackel,''
ing besidethisone. Thedemonhaprovedstrongerthantheman
orthemonster .hecou|dnotbsi|entandsobetrayinghimse|f
ha accomp|ished the ruin ofthedemon'.'`
Thehna|years ofthe Weimarperiowere oneofacute personal
crisis for Benamin, 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 Asa 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.
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 tothisproect. 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 Beamin's experience is transmuted
intoaseries ofmore obective notationsofhisnativecity. It isa|so
much more sharp|y po|itica|, pervaded by Benamin'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 themostintimatedocumentofBenamin's yet to
b pub|ished.
Lxi|e after i ggg cutshort Benamin'sourna|ism. His pub|icistic
perio was now eective|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
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
wa not without its eects 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 Benamin. But there can
b nodoubt thatfor thehrsttimeinhis|ife,Benaminfoundin 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 Benamin to commission an
essay from him on Fuchs for the Zeitschrit. Benamin, 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 proect wa fo||owed by postponement and tergiversation.
Lventua||y, he resumed serious study for it in late igG, 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. ' Horkheimer, for his part,
responded enthusiastica||y to the essay, which was pub|ished in
theournal in October i g;. Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian
isBenamin'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 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.
One- Way Street
This street is named
Asja Lacis Street
after her who
as an engineer
cut it through the author
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
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 inuence in active com-
in|eaets,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.
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
the deeper strata, even during the morning ab|ution, the grey
penumbra ofdreampersistsand, indeed, in the so|itude ofthe
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
of dreaminaconcentratedmorning'swork,ifnotinprayer,but
otherwise a source ofconfusion between vita| rhythms. The
narrationofdreamsbringsca|amity, becauseapersonsti||ha|f
incuricrevenge. Lxpressedin more moden terms . hebetrays
himse|f He has outgrown the protectionofdreaming navet,
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 dierent. Bywayofthe stomach. The fastingman te||s
his dream aifhewere ta|kingin his s|eep.
C. 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
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
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
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 otogivemeasma||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 adoining 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.
Toconvinceisto conquerwithoutconception.
Togreat writers, hnishedworks weigh |ighter than those frag-
menu on which theyworkthroughouttheir|ives. Foron|ythe
more feebe and distracted take an inimitabe peasure in con-
cusions, feeing themseves therebygiven back to ife. Ior the
geniuseachcaesura,andtheheavybowsoffate, fa ikegente
seepitselfintohisworkshopabour.Aboutithedra wsacharmed
circeoffragments. 'Oeniusis appication. '
each boy spins for himsef the whee of fortune from which,
we knew or practised at hIteen wi one day constitute our
attraction. Andone thing, therefore, canneverb made good .
having negected to run away from home. Irom forty-eight
hours' exposure in those years, as in a caustic soution, the
crysta ofife'shappiness forms.
h received its ony adequate description, and anaysis, in a
certain type ofdetective nove at the dynamic centre ofwhich
standsthe horrorofapartments. Thearrangementofthefurni-
:ure is at the same time the site pan ofdeady traps, and the
of detective nove begins with Poeat a time when such
accommodations hardyyet existedisno counter-argument.
Iorwithoutexceptionthegreatwritersperform theircombina-
Baudeaire's poems, as we Dostoevsky's characters, only
existed after goo. The bourgeois interior of the i 8Gos to the
t 8gos, with its gigantic sideboards distendedwith carvings, the
sune corners where pams stand, the bacony embatted
One- Way Street
behind its ba|ustrade, andthe|ongcorridorswith theirsinging
g ames, 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. I 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|e 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 h been captured in
A. K. Green,andwith The Phantom othe Opera
nove|s about the nineteenth century, Gaston Leroux has
brought the genre to its apotheosis.
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 earthat has|ost the powerofhearing.
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.
a|ongitfromwhenoneisyingoveritbyairp|ane. Inthesame
way, thepowerofatextis dierentwhenitisreadfromwhen
itiscopiedout. Theairp|anepassengerseeson|yhowthe road
pushe through the |andscape, how it unfo|ds according to the
same|awsas theterrainsurroundingit. On|yhewhowa|ksthe
theveryscenery that for theieris 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
theinteriorjung|eforeverc|osingbehindit . becausethereader
fo||ows the movement of his mind in the free ight of day-
dreaming, wherea the copier submits it to command. The
Chinese practice ofcopying books was thus an incomparab|e
In an aversion to anima|s the predominant fee|ing is fear of
being recognized by them through contact. The horror that
|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.
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
Je ne passe jamais devant unftieh d bois, W Bouddha dori, une idole
mexieaine san 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.
AIercrossingahigh, 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 immense centra| grotto with a Gothica||y pointed rooI,
Ma was ce|ebrated according to the most ancient rites. We
oinedthe ceremonyandwitnesseditsc|imax. towardawooden
bustofGo theFatherhxed highonawal|of the cave,apriest
denia| from right to |eI.
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-
Commentary and trans|ationstand in the same re|ation to
the text a sty|e and mimesis to nature. the same phenomenon
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.
bindhimmore|asting|yandre|ent|ess|ythanany beauty.This
has |ong been known. And why? Ifthe theory is correct that
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, utters |ike a ock 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
thatitisust here, inwhatisdefectiveand censurab|e, thatthe
eetingdartsofadoration nest|e.
Pedantic broodingovertheproductionoIobectsvisua|aids,
toys, orbooksthataresupposed to be suitab|e forchi|drenis
fo||y. Since theLn|ightenmentthis ha beenoneofthemustiest
specu|ationsofthepedagogues. Theirinfatuationwithpsycho-
unrival|ed obectsfor chi|dishattentionanduse. Andthe most
specihc. Forchi|drenareparticu|ar|yfond ofhauntinganysite
work,tai|oring,orcarpentry. Inwasteproducc theyrecognize
One- Way Street 5
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 bring together, in the artefact produced in
p|ay, materia|s of wide|y diering 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.
the moreinexorab|yhewi||subect hisprivate|ifet thenorms
thathe wishe toe|evate |egislaton ofafuturesociety. Itisas
uthex laws,nowhereyetrea|ized,p|acedhimunderob|igation
to enact them in advance at |eastin the conhne ofhis own
in accord with the most ancientheritageofhis c|ass ornation
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.
How much more easi|y the |eave-takeris |oved' For the ame
the eeting scrap ofmaterial waving from the ship or rai|way
window. Separation penetrate the disappearing person |ike a
pigment andsteeps himin gentle radiance.
Ifa person very c|ose to us u dying, there u something in the
monthstocomethatwedim|yapprehendmuch weshou|d
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-
trophethat 'things can't go on |ike this'-u particu|ar|y
noteworthy. The he|p|e 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||edtoregardanystatethatdispossessehim unstab|e.
andeven before thewartherewerestratafor whomstabi|ized
conditiom amounted to stabi|ized wretchedness. To dec|ineis
no|estab|e, nomoresurprising,thantorise. On|yaviewthat
acknow|edge downfa|| theso|ereasonfor the presentsitua-
repeated, and perceive the phenomena ofdec|ine stabi|ity
itse|fand rescue a|one extraordinary, verging on the mar-
tie ofCentra| Lurope|ive |ike the inhabitants ofan encirc|ed
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
power thatCcntra| Luropefeelsopposingitdoenot negotiate.
Nothing, therefore, remains but to directthe gaze, in theper-
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 suering ofindividuals a ofcommunities
2. Acuriousparadox.peop|ehaveon|ythenarrowestprivate
interest in mind when they act, yet they are at the same time
themass. Andmorerhanevermainstincts havebecomecon-
fused and estranged from |ife. Wherea the obscure impu|seof
theanima|as innumerab|eanecdotere|atedetects,asdan-
ger approaches, a way ofescape that sti|| seems invisib|e, this
society, each ofwhose memben care on|y for his own abect
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.
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

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, unreecting trust, ca|m, and
q. Not without reasonis it customary to speak of'naked'
want. What is most damaging in the disp|ay ofit, a practice
thousandth part of the hidden distress, is not the pity or the
on|ooker, but his shame. Itis impossib|e to remain in a |arge
Germancity, wherehungerforcesthemostwretched to |iveon
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 dierentwith the
bruta|, 'Ifa man does not work, neither sha|| he eat. "When
therewaworkthatfed aman,therewasa|sopovertythatdid
notdisgracehim,ifitarosefromdeformityor othermisfortune.
ofthousands are dragged by impoverishment, doe indeeddis-
grace. Fi|th and misery grow up around them |ike wa||s, the
workofinvisib|ehands. Andustaaman canenduremuchin
iso|ation, butfeeIsustihab|eshamewhenhiswifeseehimbear
itor suers 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
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
andeects, he|pnooneuncoverthedarkpowenthatho|dhis
|ifein thra||.
One- Way Street 57
G. To the foreigner cursoriy acquainted with the patternof
Oerman ife who has even briey traveled about the country,
itsinhabitanuseem no e bizarre than an exoticrace.Awitty
Irenchman has said. 'A Oerman sedom understandshimsef
Ifhe has once understood himseI, he winotsayso. Ifhe says
so, he wi notmake himsefunderstood. " This comfortessdis-
and egendary atrocitie that Oermans are reported to have
committed. Rather, what competes the isoation ofOermany
in the eye ofother Luropeans, what reay engenders the atti-
tude that they are deaing with Hottentou in the Oermans as
ithas been aptyput),is the vioence, incomprehensib|etoout-
siders andwhoyimperceptibeto thoseimprisonedbyit,with
which circumstances, squaor, and stupidity here subjugate
peope entirey to coective forces, as theives ofsavages aone
are subj ected to triba aws. The most Luropean ofa accom-
pishments, that more or e discernibe irony with which the
ife ofthe individua asserts the right to run its course indepen-
denty ofthe community into which it is cast, has competey
deserted the Oermans.
. The freedomofconversationisbeinglost. If itwasearier
a matter of course in conversation to take interest in one's
partner, this is now repaced by inquiry into the price ofhis
shoe or his umbrea. Irresistiby intruding on any convivial
exchange is the theme ofthe conditions ofife, ofmoney. What
this theme invoveis notm much the concerns andsorrowsof
individuas,inwhich theymight babeto heponeanother, as
the overa picture. Itis as ifone were trappedina theatre and
had to foow the eventson the stage whetherone wantedto or
the subjectofone's thought andspeech.
8. Anyonewhodoesnotsimpyrefusetoperceivedecinewi
hasten to caim a specia justihcation for his own continued
presence, his activity and invovement 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
a hgure, for aImost aIways they hnaIIy serve t sanctionsome
wholIytriviaIprivatesituation. Forustthesamereasontheair
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
them aneccentric. LetusimaginethepeaksoftheHighAIps
ThemightyformswouIdshowuponlydimIy. Inustthiswaya
t o. Warmthisebbing from things. Theobects ofdaiIy use
gentIy butinsistentIy repelus. Daybyday, in overcomingthe
sum ofsecret resistancesnot onIy the overt onesthat they
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
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 ifthe weight ofthe co|umn ofair supported by every-
one had sudden|y, against a|| |aws, become in these regions
. Any human movement, whether it springs from anin-
te||ectua|or evenanatura|impu|se,isimpededinitsunfo|ding
by the bound|e resistance ofthe outside wor|d. Shortage of
house andtherisingcostoftrave|arein theproceofannihi-
|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 much the strangu|ation ofthe freedom of
residence, andneverhasfreedomofmovementstooingreater
disproportion to the abundanceofmeansoftrave|.
t z. justas aI| things, inaperpetua|proceofming|ingand
contamination, are |osing their intrinsic character whi|e am-
incomparab|y sustaining and reassuring power enc|oses those
at work within them in the peace ofa fortre and |ifts from
them, with the view of the horizon, awarene 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 redne no |onger concea|s.
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 indierence to thespheresofwea|th and poverty
|eaving him on|y the choice of appearing a starve|ing or a
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
make MotherLarth no giofourown. ItL therefore htting to
show respect in taking, by returning a part of a|| we receive
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
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
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.
of pre-animism, from the Anaquivitz|i. I awoke |aughing.
(Ana =&ve; vi = vie,witz joke| = Mexicanchurch [ !| . )
Three thousand |adie and gent|emen from the Kurftrsten-
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 oered 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.
Workon gooprosehathree steps . amusica|stagewhenitis
composed, an architectonic one when it is bui|t, and a texti|e
one whenitiswoven.
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|larm, 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
ofhis sty|e. But theyshowupforthisvery reason thetopica|ity
ofwhat Ma|larm, monadical|y, inhishermeticroom, haddis
events ofour time in economics, technology, and public |ife.
Printing, havingfoundinthebookarefugemwhichto|eadan
autonomous existence, is pitiless|y dragged out onto the street
byadvertisementsandsubectedto 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 s|ow|y to rix again from the ground. The newspaperis
and advertisement force the printed word entirely into the
dictatoria| perpendicu|ar. Andbefore achi|dofour timehnds
hiswayc|eartoopeningabook, his eye have been exposedto
chance ofhis penetrating the archaic sti||ne ofthe book are
slight. Locustswarmsofprint, whicha|readyec|ipse thesunof
what is taken for intel|ect for city dwe||ers, wiI grow thicker
witheachsucceedingyear. Otherdemandsofbusine|ifelead
writing, and m presents an astonishing counterpoint to the
three-dimensiona|ityof scriptinitsoriginalform runeorknot
notation. (Andtodaythe bookis a|ready, the present mode
ofscho|ar|y production demonstrates, an outdated mediation
betweentwodierent h|ingsystems. Foreverythingthatmat-
andthescho|arstudyingitassimilateitintohisowncardindex. )
But i tis quite beyond doubt that the development ofwriting
ing the momentofaqua|itative |eapwhenwriting, advancing
ever more deep|y into the graphic regions ofits new eccentric
content.Inthispicturewriting,poets,whowi|lnow 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 themselve antiquatedday-
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.
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-
V. Lverything that u knowna priori about an obect 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.
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
that new systemswith morevariab|e typeface wou|d then be
needed. They wi|| rep|ace the p|iancy ofthe hand with the
A perio that, constructed metrica||y, afterward has its
rhythm upset at a sing|e pointyie|ds theh nestprosesentence
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.
ThR Writer's Technique in Thirteen Theses.
I. Anyone intending to embark on a maor work shou|d be
nothingthatwi||notpreudice 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
end amotorforcomp|etion.
III. In your working conditions avoid everyday mediocrity.
One- Way $treet 65
ofvoices can become signihcant forwork the perceptibe
sience of the night. Ifthe atter sharpens the inner ear, the
former acts touchstone for a diction ampe enough to bury
even the mostwayward sounds.
IV. Avoid haphazardwritingmaterias.Apedanticadherence
to certain papers, pens, inks is benehcia. No uxury, but an
abundance ofthese utensis is indispensabe.
V. Let no thought pa incognito, and keep your notebook as
stricty the authoritiekeeptheirregisterofaiens.
VI. Keep your pen aooffrom inspiration, which it wi then
attract with magnetic power. The more circumspecty you

b on surrenderingitseSpeechconquers thought, butwriting
VII. Never stop writing because you have run out of ideas.
Literaryhonourrequiresthatonebreako onyatanappointed
moment ameatime, a meeting, or at the end ofthe work.
VIII. Ii theacunaeofinspirationbytidiycopyingoutwhat
is aready written. Intuitionwi awakenin the process.
IX. Nulla dies sin linea-buttheremaywe be weeks.
X. Consider no work perfect over which you have not once
satfrom eveningtobroad dayight.
XI. Do not write the concusion ofa work in your famiiar
study. Youwoudnothndthenecessarycourage there.
XII. Stage ofcomposition. ideastyewriting. The vaue
ofthe fair copyL that in producing ityou conhne attentionto
caigraphy. The idea kis inspiration, stye fetters the idea,
III. Thework s t

th maskofitsconception.
Thirteen Theses Against Snobs.
Snob in theprivate omceofartcriticism. nthe eIt, achid's
drawing,ontherightafetish.Snob. 'Doesn'tthismakePicasso
seem such a waste oftime?`)
I. Theartistmakesawork. Theprimitiveexpresseshim-
se|fin documents.
II. The art-workuon|yin- No document u such a
cidenta||y adocument. workofart.
III. Theart-workisamaster- The document serves to in-
IV. On art-works, artists
|earn theircraft.
V. Art-works are remote
from eachotherin their
VI. In the art-work content
andformareone. mean-
VII. Meaningistheoutcome
VIII. In the art-work subect
matter is a ba||astetti-
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-
XII. Theviri|ityofworks|ies
XIII. The artist sets out to
Before documents, a pub|ic
In documents the subect
Subect-matter u the out-
The more one |oses onese|f
in a document

the denser
the subectmattergrows.
Forms are mere|y dispersed
demands . ana|ysis.
through surprise.
The document's mnocence
givesit cover.
The primitive man barri-
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. 'Obectivity" must a|ways be sacrihced to partisanship, if
the cause foughtfor merits this.
VI. Criticismisamora|question.IfGoethemisudgedH|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 criticudges in
face ofthe author.
IX. Po|emic meantodestroy a bookinafew ofitssentences.
The|eithasbeenstudiedthebetter. On|yhewhocandestroy
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. ]
No. I _
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
^ourinterestbecomesabsorbed, theytoarecounting.
IV. Books and har|otshave everbeen unhappi|y in |ovewith
V. Booksandhar|otsbothhavetheir typofman, whoboth
|ivesoandharasses 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
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
X. Booksandhar|otshavea|argeprogeny.
XI. Books and har|ots'O|d bigots-young whores'. How
manybooks wereoncenotorious that now serveasinstruction
XII. Books andharlotshavetheirquarre|sinpub|ic.
XIII. Booksandharlotsfootnotesinoneare abanknotesin
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
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.
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
Thetractis anArabicform. Itsexteriorisundierentiatedand
unobtrusive, |ike thefaadeofArabian 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-
tion thedistinctionbetweenthematicandexcursiveexpositions
Street-plan. -I know one who is absent-minded. Whereas the
name of my supp|iers, the |ocation of my documents, the
vous arc at my hngcr-tps, n hcr poltcal conccpts, party
slogans, dcclaratons and commands arc hrmly lodgcd. Shc
lvc n a cty oIwatchwords and nhabts a quartcr oIcon-
spratoral andIratcrnal tcrms, whcrc cvcry allcywayshowsts
colour and cvcry word hasa password Ioru ccho.
List i wishes. -"Does not thcrccdthcworldWth swcctncss
bllMay no lcs gracous wordIlow Irom my qull ' " Ths
Iollows 'Blcsscd Ycarnng" lkc a pcarl that ha rollcd Irom a
Ircshly-opcncd oystcr-shcll.
Pocket dia. Icw thngsarc morccharactcrstcoIthc Nordc
man than that, whcn n lovc, hc must abovc all and at allcosts
b alonc wth hmsclI must hrst contcmplatc, cnjoy hs Icclng
n soltudc, bcIorc gongto thcwomantodcclarc t.
Paper-weight. Placc dc la Concordc. thc bclsk. What was
carvcd nt Iour thousand ycars ago today stands atthcccntrc
n thc grcatcstoIctysquarcs. Had that bccn Iorctold to hm
whatatrumphIor thcPharaoh 'ThcIorcmostWcstcncultural
cmprcwIlonc daybcar at ts ccntrc thc mcmoraloIhs rulc.
tcnsoIthousandswhopasbypauscs ,notoncamongthctcnsoI
thousands who pausc can rcadthcnscrpton. lnsuchmanncr
doc aIl Iamc rcdccm ts plcdgcs, and nooraclc can match ts
gulc. Ior thc mmortal stands lkc this obclsk. rcgulatngthc
sprtuaI tramc that surgc thundcrously about hm, and thc
nscrpton hc bcars hclp no onc.
Thc ncomparablc languagc oIthc dcath`s hcad. total cxprcs-
sonlcssncssthc blackoIthc cyc-sockctscouplcdtothc most
unbrdlcd cxprcssonthc grnnngrowsoItccth.
One- Way Street 71
Somconc wbo, Icclng bmsclIabandoncd, takcs up a book,
hndswtbapangtbattbcpagcbcsaboutto tunsalrcadycut,
and tbat cvcn bcrc bc s notnccdcd.
GIts must acct tbcrcccvcr totbcpontoIsbock.
Wbcnavalucd,culturcd and clcgant Ircnd scntmcbsncw
book and I was about to opcn t, I caugbt mysclIn tbc actoI
stragbtcnng my tc.
wbo drcssc Iasbonably butwcars no vcst.
IItbcsmokcIromtbctpoImycgarcttcand tbcnkIrom tbc
nboImypcnowcdwtbcqual casc, IsbouldbntbcArcada
oImy wrtng.
To bc bappy istobcablctobccomcawarcoIoncsclIwtbout
Child reading. -You arcgvcnabookIrom tbcscbool lbrary. In
tbc lowcr classcs tbcy arc smply bandcd out. nly now and
agan do you darc to cxprcss a wsb. Icn, n cnvy, you scc
covctcd books pa ntootbcrbands. Atlastdcsrcwagrantcd.
tbat surroundcd you as sccrctly, dcnscly and unccasngly as
snowakcs. Youcntcrcdtwtblmtlcsstrust. Tbcpcacclulncss
oItbc book tbat cntccd you Iurtbcr and Iurtbcr ' Its contcnts
dd not mucb mattcr. Ior you wcrc rcadng at tbc tmc wbcn
you stll madc up storcs n bcd. Tbc cbld sccks bs way along
tbc balI-bddcn patbs. Rcadng, hc covcrs bis cars, tbc books
on a tablc tbat is Iar to bigb, and onc band L always on tbc
pagc. To bm tbc bcro's advcnturcs can stll b rcad n tbc
swrlnglcttcrs lkc bgurcs and mcssagc n drIngsnowakcs.
Hs brcath is part oIthc ar oIthc cvcnu narratcd, and all thc
partcpants brcathc wth hs lIc. Hc mnglcswth thc charac-
tcrs Iar morc closcly than grown-ups do. Hc s unspcakably
touchcdbythcdccds, thcwords thatarccxchangcd, and, whcn
hcgctsup,s blanchcdovcrandovcrby thcsnowoIhisrcadng.
Belated child. -Thcclockovcr thcschool playground sccmsasI
damagcd on hs account. Thc hands stand at . 'latc`. And n
thccorrdor, Irom classroom doorsashcpasscs,comcmurmurs
oIconspracy. ThctcachcrsandpuplsbchndthcmarcIrcnds.
r all is slcnt, a Ithcy wcrc watng. Inaudbly hc puts hs
handtothc doorhandlc. Thc spotwhcrchc standssstccpcdn
sunlght. Volatng thc pcaccIul hour hcopcns thc door. Thc
tcachcr`s vocc clattcn lkc a mll-whccl , hc stands bcIorc thc
grndng stoncs. Thc vocc clattcrs on wthouta brcak, but thc
mll-hands now shakc o thcr load to thc ncwcomcr , tcn,
twcntyhcavysacks y towards hm, that hc mustcarryto thc
bcnch. Lach thrcad oIhisjackct s our-whtc. lkc thosc oIa
wrctchcd soul at mdnght, hs cvcry stcp makcs uproar, and
no onc sccs. nccarrvcdat hisscat, hcworksquctlywththc
rcst untl thc bcll sounds. But t avals hm nothng.
Pilfering child. Through thc chnkoIthc scarcclyopcn lardcr
doorhs hand advancc lkca lovcr through thc nght. nccat
homcn thc darkncss, tgropc towards sugaroralmonds,sul-
his grl, his hand cnjoys a tactlc tryst wth thc comcstblcs
bcIorchsmouthsavoursthcrswcctncs. Hownvtnglyhoncy,
hcaps oIcurrants, cvcn rcc ycld to hs hand. How passonatc
and tcmpcstuous a onc who has bccn abductcd Irom thc
parcntal homc, strawbcrryjam, uncncumbcrcd bybrcad rolls,
abandons tsclIto hs dclcctaton a undcr thc opcn sky, and
cvcn thc buttcr rcsponds tcndcrlyto thc boldncssoIthswoocr
One- Way Street 73
who ha pcnctratcd hcr boudor. Hs hand, thcjuvcnlc on
juan, has soon nvadcd all thc ccllsand spaccs, lcavng bchnd
t runnnglaycn and strcamngplcnty. madcnlncss rcncwng
tsclIwthout complant.
Child on the roundabout. -Thc boardcarryng thcdoclcanmals
movcclosctothc ground. Itsat thchcghtwhch, n drcams,
s bcst Ior yng. Musc starts and thc chld movcs wth ajcrk
awayIromhismothcr. IrsthcsaIradatlcavnghcr.Butthcn
hc notccshowdoughtyhc hmsclIs.Hcs cnsconccdasthcjust
rulcr ovcr a world that bclongs to hm. Tangcntal trccs and
natvclnchisway. Thcn,nanrcnt, hs mothcrrc-appcars.
Ncxt, cmcrgngIrom thcjunglc,comcsatrcctop,cxactlyasthc
chldsawtthousandsoI ycarsagojustnowonthcroundabout.
Hsbcastsdcvotcd. lkcamutcAronhcrdcshsslcntbsh,or
a woodcn Zcus-bull carrc hm oas an mmaculatc Luropa.
Thc ctcrnal rccurrcncc oI all thngs ha long bccomc chld`s
wsdomto hm, and lIc aprmcvalIrcnzyoIdomnaton, wth
thc boomng orchcstron as thc crownjcwcls at thc ccntrc. As
thc musc slows, spacc bcgns to stammcr and thc trccs to rub
thcrbrows. Thc roundaboutbccomcsunccrtanground.And
hs mothcr appcars, thc much-rammcd stakc aboutwhch thc
landngchld wnds thc ropc oIhs gazc.
Untid lhild. -Lachstonchc bnds, cach owcr pckcd and cach
buttcry caught s alrcady thc start oIa collccton, and cvcry
snglc thng hc owns makcs uponcgrcat collccton. In hm ths
passon shows ts truc Iacc, thc stcrn I ndan cxprcsson whch
lngcrson, butwthadmmcdand mancglow,nantquarans,
rcscarchcrs, bblomanacs. Scarccly hashccntcrcd lIc thanhc
sa huntcr. Hchuntsthcsprtswhosc tracchcsccntsnthngs ,
bctwccn sprts and thngs ycan arc passcd nwhch hs bcldoI
vson rcmans Ircc oIpcoplc. His lIcislkca drcam. hc knows
nothng lastng, cvcrythng sccmngly happcns to hm by
chancc. Hs nomad-ycarsarchoursn thc IorcstoIdrcam. To t
hc dragshomc hsbooty, to pur[t,sccurct, castouttsspcll.
Hsdrawcnmustbccomc arscnal andzoo,crmc muscumand
crypt. 'To tdy up would b to dcmolsh an cdhcc Iull oI
prckly chcstnuts that arc spky clubs, tnIol that s hoardcd
slvcr, brcks that arc comns, cact that arc totcm-polcs and
coppcr pcnnc thatarcshclds. Thcchldhalongsncchclpcd
at hs mothcr's lncn-cupboard, hs Iathcr's bookshclvcs, whlc
n hs own domanhcs stll a sporadc, warlkcvstor.
Child hiding. -He alrcady knows all thc hdng placcs n thc
apartmcnt and rcturns tothcmastoahouscwhcrc cvcrythng
ssurctobjustatwas. Hshcartpounds,hc holdshsbrcath.
dstnct,spccchlcsslyobtrusvc. lnsuchmanncrdocamanwho
s bcng hangcdbccomcawarc oIthcrcaltyoIropcand wood.
Standng bchnd thc doorwaycurtan, thc chld bccomcs hm-
sclIsomcthng oatng and whtc, a ghost. Thc dnng tablc
undcrwhchhcscrouchngturnshmntothcy oodcndolna
tcmplc whosc Iour pllars arc thc carvcd lcgs. And bchnd a
door hc s hmsclI door, wcars t as hs hcavy mask and as a
shaman wll bcwtch all thosc who unsuspcctngly cntcr. Atno
costmusthc b Iound. WhcnhcpullsIaccs, hc s told, thcclock
nccd only strkc and hc wll rcman so. Thc clcmcnt oItruthn
thshc hndsoutnhshdngplacc. Anyonc who dscovcrs hm
can pctr[ hm as an dol undcr thc tablc, wcavc hm Iorcvcr
as a ghost nto thc curtan, bansh hm Ior lIc nto thc hcavy
door. Andso, atthc scckcr`s touchhcdrvcsoutwthaloudcry
thcdcmonwho has m transIormcdhmndccd,wthoutwat-
ng Ior thc momcnt oIdscovcry, hc grab thc huntcr wth a
shout oI sclI-dclvcrancc. That s why hc doc not tirc oI thc
strugglc wth thc dcmon. ln ths strugglc thc apartmcnt s thc
arscnaloIhsmasks. Yctoncccachycar,nmystcrousplaccs,n
thcrcmpty cyc-sockcts, thcrhxcd mouths, prcscnulc. Magc
thcgloomyparcntal apartmcnt andlooksIor Lastcr cggs.
One- Way Street 75
Medallion. -In cvcrythng that s with rcason callcd bcautIul,
appcarancchas a paradoxcal ccct.
Prayer-wheel. -Only magc n thc mnd vtalzc thc wll. Thc
ng, blastcd. Thcrc s no ntact wll wthout cxact pictoral
magnaton.Nomagnatonwthoutinncrvation. Nowbrcath-
ngsthclattcr`smostdclcatcrcgulator. ThcsoundoIIormulac
s a canon oIsuch brcathng. Hcncc thc practccoImcdtatng
Yoga, whch brcathcs n accord wth thc holy syllablcs. Hcncc
Antique spoon. ncthngsrcscrvcdtothcgrcatcstcpcwrtcrs .
thc capacty to Iccd thcr hcrocs.
Old map. -In a lovc aar most scck an ctcrnal homcland.
thcrs, butvcryIcw, ctcrnalvoyagng.Thcsclattcrarcmclan-
cholcs, Ior whom coutact wth mothcrcarths to b shunncd.
Thcy scck thc pcrson who wlI kccp Iar Irom thcm thc homc-
land`s sadncss. To that pcrson thcy rcman IathIul. Thc
mcdcval complcxon-books undcrstoo thc ycarnng oI ths
human typc Ior longjourncys.
Fan. -Thc Iollowng cxpcrcncc wll b Iamlar. Ionc s n
lovc, or just ntcnscly prcoccupcd wth anothcr, hs portrat
wllappcarnalmostcvcrybook. Morcovcr,hcappcars asboth
protagonst and antagonst. ln storcs, novcls, and novcllas hc
is cncountcrcd n cndlcs mctamorphoscs. AndIrom thstIol-
lows that thcIacultyoImagnaton sthcgh oIntcrpolatng
nto thc nbntcly small, oI nvcntng, Ior cvcry ntcnsty, an
cxtcnsvcncss tocontants ncw, comprcsscd Iullncss, nshort,
only n sprcadng draws brcath and ourshcs, n ts ncw cx-
pansc, thc bclovcd Icaturcswthn t.
Kc/iqnc s wth thc woman onc lovcs, spcaks wth hcr.
Thcn, wccks or months latcr, scparatcd Irom hcr, onc thnks
agan oIwhat wa talkcd oI thcn. And now thc motIsccms
banal, tawdry, shallow, and onc rcalzc that twa shc alonc,
bcndng low ovcr t wth lovc, who shadcd and shcltcrcd t
bcIorc us, m that thc thought wa alvc n all ts Iolds and
crcvcc lkc a rclcI. Alonc, a now, wc scc t lc at, bcrcItoI
comIort andshadow, n thclghtoIourknowlcdgc.
Tcrsc. nly hc who can vcw hs own past as an aborton
thcprcscnt. Iorwhat onc has lvcds at bcstcomparablc to a
bcautIul statuc whch has had all ts lmbs knockcd o n
transt, and nowyclds nothng but thc prccous block out oI
whchthc magcoIonc'sIuturc must b hcwn.
sunrsc, prcscrvc allday bcIorc othcn thc scrcnty oIonc n-
vsbly crowncd, andhcwhosccdaybrcakwhlcworkngIccls
at mdday a uhc hahmsclIplaccd ths crown upon hshcad.
lkc a clock oIlIc on whch thc scconds racc, thc pagc-
numbcrhangs ovcrthccharactcnnanovcl. Whchrcadcrhas
notoncclItcd tota cctng, IcarIul glancc?
I drcamt thatI wawalkngancwly-hatchcdprvatctutor
convcrsng collcgally wth Rocthc, through thc spacous
roomsoIa muscumwhosccurator hc was. Whlc hc talksnan
adjonngroom wthan cmploycc,I gouptoa glas showcasc.
dullyshnng, almostlIc-szcbustoIawoman, notdssmlarto
lconardo`s Ilora n thc Bcrln Muscum. Thc mouth oI ths
goldcnhcad s opcn, and ovcrthclowcrtccthjcwcllcry, partly
One- Way Street
hangng Irom thc mouth, u sprcadat mcasurcd ntcrvals. I was
n no doubt that ths was a clock. rcam-motIs . blushng
jScham-Rocthc , Morgenstund hat Gold im Munde jGcrman
sayng. thc mornng hour hasgoldn ts mouth, . c. 'thccarly
brd catchcs thc worm`tr. | , ' 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 wth ts dark manc and
prccous jcwcls, rcsts on thc nght-tablc lkc a ranunculus.|
ThconlywayoIknowngapcrsonstolovc thcmwthouthopc. \
Geranium. -Two pcoplc whoarcn lovc arc attachcd abovc all
clsc to thcr namcs.
Carthusian pink. -Tothc|ovcr thclovcd oncappcars always as
Asphodelv -Bchnd somconc who u lovcd, thc abyssoIscxualty
closcslkc thatoIthc Iamly.
Cactus bloom. -Thc truly lovng pcrson dclghts n bndng thc
bclovcd, argung, n 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.
Articles lost. Whatmakcs thc vcry hrstglmpsc oIa vllagc, a
town, n thc landscapc soncomparablcand rrctrcvablcs thc
rgorous connccton bctwccn Iorcground and dstancc. Habt
has notyctdoncts work. ^ soon a wc bcgntohndourbcar-
ngs, thc landscapc vanshc at a strokc lkc thc Iaadc oI a
housc a wc cntcr t. lt has not yct gancd prcpondcrancc
through a constant cxploraton that has bccomc habt. ncc
wcbcgntohndourwayabout, thatcarlcstpcturccanncvcr
bc rcstorcd.
Articles found. Thc bluc dstancc thatncvcrgvc way toIorc-
ground or dssolvcs at our approach, whch L not rcvcalcd
sprcad-caglc and long-wndcd whcn rcachcd but only looms
morc compact and thrcatcnng, s thc pantcd dstancc oI a
backdrop. !t s what gvcs stagc scts thcr ncomparablc
! stoo Ior tcnmnutcswatng Ior an omnbus. 'l' !ntran . . .
Pars-Sor . . . la lbcrtc`, a ncwspapcr vcndor callcd nccs-
santly n an unvaryng tonc bchnd mc. 'l' !ntran . . . Pars-
Sor . . . la lbcrtc`a thrcc-corncrcd ccll n a hard-labour
prson. ! saw bcIorc mc howblcakthc corncrs wcrc.
! sawnadrcam'ahouscoIllrcputc`. 'Ahotclnwhchan
anmal s spolcd. Practcally cvcryonc drnks only spolcd
anmal-watcr. ! drcamt n thcsc words and atoncc wokcwth
a start. Through cxccssvc Iatguc ! had thrown mysclIon my
bcd n my clothcn thc brghtly-ltroom, and had at oncc, Ior
a Icw scconds, Iallcn aslccp.
Thcrc L n tcncmcnt blocks a musc oIsuch dcathly-sad
wantonncs thatonc cannot bclcvct tob Ior thc playcr . ts
musc Ior thc Iurnshcd rooms whcrc on Sundays somconc sts
One- Way Street 79
nthoughuthatarc soongarnshcdwth thcsc notcslkcabowl
oIovcr-ripc Irutwithwithcrcdlcavcs.
Karl Kraus. Nothngmorcdcsolatngthanhisacolytcs,nothng
morc bttngly honourcd by slcncc. Inanccnt armour, wrath-
Iully grnnng, a Chncsc dol, brandshng drawn swords n
cach hand, hc danccsawar-dancc bcIorc thcburalvaultoIthc
Gcrmanlanguagc. Hc, 'mcrclyoncoIthc cpgoncthatlvcn
thcoldhouscoIlanguagc`, has bccomc thcscalcroIts tomb.
In day and nght watchcs hc cndurcs. No post was cvcr morc
loyallyhcld, andnonccvcrwasmorchopclcsslylost.Hcrcstands
onc who Ictchcswatcr Irom thc tcar-scaoIhs contcmporarcs
lkcaanadc, andIromwhoschandsthcrockwhchistobury
his cncmics rollslkc thatoISsyphus. What morc hclplcsthan
morc hopclcss than hs battlc wth thc prcss? What docs hc
knowoIthcpowcrsthatarchstrucallics ?ButwhatvsonoIthc
ncw sccn bcars comparson wth thc lstcnng oIths shaman,
whosc uttcranccs cvcna dcIunct languagc nsprcs? Who cvcr
conjurcd up a sprt as Kraus dd n thc 'Iorsakcn`, as I
sprts` voccs arc whcn summoncd up, a murmur Irom thc
chthonc dcpths oIlanguagc s thc sourcc oIhis soothsayng.
Lvcry sound s ncomparably gcnunc, but thcy all lcavc us
bcwldcrcdlkc mcssagcsIromthcbcyond.Blndlkc thcmancs
languagc calls hm to vcngcancc, as narrow-mndcd a sprts
thatknowonlythcvoccoIthcblood, whocarcnotwhathavoc
thcy wrcak n thc rcalm oIthc lvng. Buthc cannot crr. Thcr
commands arc nIallblc. Whocvcr trc hs arm wth hm s
condcmncd alrcady. n ths mouth thc advcrsary`s namc itsclI
bccomcsajudgcmcnt. Whcnhslps part, thc colourlcs amc
oIwt darts Iorth. And nonc who walks thc paths oIlIc would
comcuponhm. nan archachcldoIhonour,aggantcbattlc-
ground oIbloodylabour, hc ragcs bcIorc adcscrtcdscpulchrc.
arc bcstowcd.
ThcnotonoIthcclasswarcanbcmslcadng. ItdocsnotrcIcr
toatraloIstrcngthtodccdcthcqucston 'Who shall wn, who
bcdcIcatcd!`,ortoastrugglc thcoutcomc oIwhchLgood Ior
thcvctorandbadIorthcvanqushcd.To thnknthswaysto
romantczc andobscurc thc Iacts. Ior whcthcr thc bourgcosc
wns or loscs thc hght, t rcmans doomcd by thc nncr contra-
dctons thatn thc coursc oIdcvclopmcnt wll bccomc dcadly.
Thc only qucston s whcthcr ts downIall wll comc through
tsclIor through thc prolctarat. Thc contnuanccorthccnd oI
thc answcr. HstoryknowsnothngoIthc cvlnhntycontancd
n thcmagcoIthctwowrcstlcrslockcdnctcrnalcombat.Thc
trucpoltcanrcckonsonlyn datcs.AndIthcaboltonoIthc
cconomc and tcchncal dcvclopmcnt a momcnt sgnallcd by
naton and poson-gas warIarc), all s lost. BcIorc thc spark
rcachc thc dynamtc, thc Ightcd Iusc must b cut. Thc ntcr-
vcntons, dangcrs, and tcmp oIpoltcans arc tcchncalnot
Atrani. -Thcgcntly rsng, curvcd baroquc starcasclcadngto
thc church. Thc ralng bchnd thc church. Thc ltancs oIthc
old womcn at thc 'Avc Mara` . prcparng to dc hrst-class. II
you tunaround, thcchurchvcrgcslkcGod HmsclIonthcsca.
One- Way Street 81
tbc wallsbclow, tbc ngbtIalls always nto tbc IouroldRoman
tbclatc aIcrnoon womcn aboutt. Tbcn, n soltudc. arcbac
Navy. -Tbc bcautyoItbc tall salngsbps s unquc. Not only
bas tbcr outlnc rcmancd uncbangcd Ior ccnturcs, but also
tbcy appcar n tbc most mmutablc landscapc . at sca, sl-
boucttcd aganst tbc borzon.
Versailles Fafade. -It sasItbschateau badbccnIorgottcnwbcrc
bundrcdsoIycarsagotwas placcdPar Ordre r Ro Ior onlytwo
boursastbc movablcsccncryIorajeerie. Its splcndourtkccps
noncIortsclI gvngtundvdcdtotbatroyalcondtonwbcb
t concludcs. BcIorc tbs backdrop t bccomcs a stagc on wbcb
tbc tragcdy oIabsolutc monarcby was pcrIormcd as an allc-
gorcalballct. YcttodaytsonlytbcwallntbcsbadcoIwbcb
onc sccks to cnjoy tbc prospcct nto bluc dstancc crcatcd by
Heidelberg Castle. -Runsjuttngntotbcskycanappcardoubly
bcautIul on clcar days wbcn, n tbcr wndows or abovc tbcr
contours, tbcgazc mccupassngclouds. Tbrougb tbc transrnt
spcctaclc topcns n tbc sky, dcstructon rcamrms tbc ctcrnty
oItbcsc Iallcn stoncs.
Seville, Alcazar. -A arcbtccturc tbat Iollows Iantasy`s hrst
mpulsc. lt s undccctcd by practcal consdcratons. Tbcsc
rooms provdconlyIor drcams andIcstvtcs, tbcrconsumma-
ton. Hcrc dancc and slcncc bccomc tbc leitmotis, sncc all
buman movcmcnt s absorbcd by tbc soundlcs tumult oItbc
Marseilles, Cathedral. -On tbc lcastIrcqucntcd, sunncst squarc
stands tbc catbcdral. Tbis placc s dcscrtcd, dcsptc tbc prox-
mty at ts Icct oIlajolcttc, tbc barbour, to tbc soutb, and a
prolctaran dstrct to thc north. ^ a rcloadng pont Ior
ntangblc, unIathomablc goods, thc blcak buldng stands
bctwccnquay andwarchousc. Ncarly Iortyycanwcrc spcnton
t. But whcnallwascomplctc,n t 8

,placc and tmc hadcon-

sprcd vctorously n ths monumcnt aganst ts archtccts and
ralway staton that could ncvcr b opcncd to tramc. Thc
Iaadc gvc an ndcaton oIthc watng rooms wthn, whcrc
passcngcn oIthcbrsttoIourthclasscs though bcIorc Go thcy
arc all cqual), wcdgcd among thcir sprtual posscssons as
bctwccn cascs, st rcadng hymnbooks that, wth thcr con-
tmctablcs. Lxtracu Irom thc ralwaytramcrcgulatonsnthc
IormoIpastorallcttcnhangonthcwalls, tarsIor thcdscount
on spccal trps n Satan`s luxury tran arc consultcd, and
cabincts whcrc thc long-dstancc travcllcr can dscrcctly wash
arc kcpt n rcadncs a conIcssonals. Ths s thc Marscllcs
rclgon staton. Slccpng cars to ctcrnty dcpart Irom hcrc at
Mass tmcs.
Freiburg Minster. -ThcspccalscnscoIa town sIormcdnpart
Ior u nhabtantsand pcrhaps cvcn n thc mcmory oI thc
travcllcr who has staycd thcrcby thc tmbrc and ntcrvals
wth whch ts towcr-clocks bcgn to chmc.
Moscow, St Basifs. -What thc Byzantnc madonna carrcs on
hcr arm s only a lIc-szc woodcn doll. Hcr cxprcsson oIpan
bcIorca Chrstwhoscchldhoorcmansonlysuggcstcd, rcprc-
scntcd, s morc ntcnsc than any shc could dsplay wth a
rcalstc magc oIa boy.
Boscotrecase. Thc dstnctonoIthc stonc-pnc Iorcst . ts rooIs
Iormcd wthoutntcrlaccmcnts.
Naples, Museo Nazionale. -Archaic statucs ocr n thcr smlcs
thcconscousncsoIthcrbodctothconlookcr, aachldholds
One- Way Street 83
out to us Ircshly pckcd owcrs untcd and unarrangcd, latcr
art lacc ts cxprcssons morc tghtly, lkc thc adult who bnds
thc lastng bouquct wth cuttnggrasscs.
Florence, Baptistry. -On thc portal thc 'Spcs" by Andrca dc
Psano. Sttng, shc hclplcsslystrctchcs hcrarnsIor aIrutthat
rcmans bcyond hcr rcach. And yct shc s wngcd. Nothngs
morc truc.
Sky. -As l stcppcdIrom a houscn a drcam thcnghtskymct
mycycs. ltshcdntcnsc radancc. Iorn thisplcntudc oIstars
thc magcs oI thc constcllatons stoo scnsuously prcscnt. A
lon, a Madcn, a Scalc and many othcrs shonc lvdly down,
dcnscclustcrsoIstars, uponthccarth. Nomoonwastobsccn.
Insummcr Iat pcoplcarcconspcuous, n wntcr thn.
Insprng attcntons caught, n brghtsunshnc,bythcyoung
Iolagc, n cold ran by thc stll lcacs branchcs.
How a convval cvcnng has passcd can b sccn by somconc
rcmanng bchnd Irom thc dsposton oI platcs and cups,
glassc and Iood, ata glancc.
Irst prncplc oIwoong. to makc oncsclIscvcnIold, to placc
oncsclIscvcnIold about thc woman who is dcsrcd.
Inthc cyc wc sccpcoplcto thc lccs.
Cut-out models. -Booths havc put n lkc rockngcraIt to both
sdcs oI thc stoncjctty on whch thc pcoplc jostlc. Thcrc arc
salng vcsscls wth hgh masu Irom whch hang pcnnants,
stcamcrswthsmokcrsngIromthcrIunncls, bargcthat kccp
thcr cargoc long stowcd. Among thcm arc shps nto whch
onc vanshcs, only mcn arc admttcd, but through hatchways
you can scc womcn's arms, vcls, pcacock-Icathcrs. Llscwhcrc
cxotc pcoplc stand on thc dcck apparcntly tryng to Irghtcn
thc publc away wth ccccntrc musc. But wth what n-
dcrcncc s t not rcccvcd. You clmb up hcstantly, wth a
broad rollnggat as on shps' starways, and aslonga you arc
aloItyou rcalzc that thc wholc is cutoIrom thc shorc. Thosc
whorc-cmcrgc Irom bclow, tactunandbcnumbcd,havcsccn,
on rcd scalc whcrc dycd alcohol rsc and Ialls, thcr own
marragccomcntobcngandccasctobc, thcycllowmanwho
blucwIc. Inmrronthcyhavcsccnthcoormcltawaybcncath
thcr Icct lkc watcr, and stumblcd nto thc opcn on rollng
starways. Into thc quartcr thc cct has brought unrcst . thc
womcn and grls on board havc brazcn ars, and cvcrythng
cdblc has bccn takcn aboard n thc landoIdlc luxury. ncs
m totally cut oby thc occan that cvcrythng s cncountcrcd
hcrcauatonccIor thchrstandthclasttmc. Sca-lons,dwarIs
and dogs arc prcscrvcd a n an ark. Lvcn thc ralway hasbccn
brought n oncc and Ior all, and crculatcs cndlcssly througha
tunncl. Ior a Icw days thc quartcr ha bccomc thc port oIa
south-sca sland, u nhabtants savagc swoonng n covctous
wondcrmcnt bcIorc thc thngs that Luropc tossc at thcrIcct.
Targets. -Thc landscapcs oI shootng-rangc n Iarground
booths oughtto bc dcscrbcd collcctvcly a a corpus. Thcrcs,
Ior cxamplc, a polar wastc aganst whch arc sct bundlcs oI
whtc clay-ppcs, thc targcts, radatnglkcspokcs. Bchndths,
andbcIorcanunartculatcdstrpoIwoodland, twoIorcstcrsarc
pantcd, whlc rght at thc Iront, n thc manncr oImovablc
sccncry, arc two sircns wth provocatvc brcasts n ol colours.
Llscwhcrc ppcs brstlc Irom thc haroIwomcn who arc scldom
pantcd wth skrts, usually n tghts. r thcy protrudc Irom a
One- Way Street 85
Ian thcy sprcad n thcr hands. Movng ppc rcvolvc slowly n
thc Iurthcr rcgons oI thc clay-pgcon booths. thcr stands
prcscnt thcatrcals drcctcd by thcspcctatorwth hs rc. lIhc
hu thcbull` s-cycthcpcrIormanccstarts.noncoccasonthcrc
wcrc thrty-sx such boxcs and abovc thc stagc oI cach was
wrttcn what thcy hcld n storc . "Jeann d'Arc m prison",
"L'hospitalite", "Les rues d Paris". nanothcrbooth. "Execution
capitale". ln Iront oI thc closcd gatc a gullotnc, ajudgc n a
black robc and a prcst holdng a cruchx. lIthc shot hts thc
mark thc gatc opcns and a board s cxtcndcd on whch thc
mscrcant stands bctwccn two polccmcn. Hc placc hs ncck
automatcally undcr thc bladc and s dccaptatcd. lnthcsamc
way. "Les delices d mariage". A pcnurous ntcror opcns. Thc
Iathcr s sccn n thc mddlc oIthc room holdng a chld on hs
"L' Enfer" whcn ts gatcs part a dcvl s sccn tormcntng a
wrctchcd soul. Ncxttohm anothcrsdraggngaprcsttowards
acauldronnwhchthcdamncdmuststcw."L bagne" 'clnk'
a door wtha gaolcr n IrontoIt. Whcnthc targct s hthc
pullsa bcll-cord. Thc bcllrngs, thc door opcns. Twoconvcts
arcsccnmanhandlngabgwhccL Thcysccmtohavctoturnt.
Yct anothcr constcllaton. a hddlcr wth hs dancng bcar.
Whcn you shoot succcssIully thc bow movcs.Thc bcar bcats a
drumwth hspawandlIts onclcg. ncthnksoIthcIary-talc
awakcncdwthashot, Snow WhtcIrccdoIthc applcbyashot
orlttlc Rcd Rdng-Hoo rclcascd byashot. Thcshotbrcaks
n magcally upon thc cxstcncc oI thc puppcts wth that
curatvc powcrthat hcwsthc hcads Irom monstcrs and rcvcals
thcm to bcprnccsscs. ^sthccascwth thcgrcatdoorwthout
annscrpton. Iyouhavchtthc marktopcns and bcIorc rcd
plush curtans stands a Moor who sccms to bow slghtly. Hc
holds n Iront oIhm a goldcn bowl. n t lc thrcc Irut. Thc
brst opcns and a tny pcrson stands nsdc t and bows. ln thc
sccondtwocquallydmnutvcpuppctsrcvolvcnadancc. Thc
thrd dd not opcn.) Bclow, n Iront oIthc tablc on whch thc
rcmanng sccncry stands, a small horscman wth thc nscrp-
ton. "Rout minee" . IIyou ht thc bull's-cyc thcrc La bangand
n thcsaddlc
Steeolo]e. Rga. Thc daly markct, a huddlng cty oIlow
woodcn booths, strctchc along thcjctty, a broad, drty stonc
cmbankmcntwthoutwarchousc buldngs, bythcwatcrsoIthc
vna. Small stcamcrs, ocn showng no morc than thcr
Iunnclsabovcthcquaywall, havc putn at thc blackshdwarI-
town. Thclargcrshpsarcmoorcddownstrcam. ) Grmyboards
arc thc clay-grcy Ioundatonon whch, glowng n thccold ar,
sparsc colours mclt. At somc corncn thcrc stand all thc ycar
round, alongsdc huts Ior bsh, mcat, boots and clothcs, pctty-
bourgcois womcn wth thc colourcd papcr rods that pcnctratc
a Iar as thc Wcst only at Chrstmas-tmc. lkc bcng scoldcd
bythcmost-lovcdvoccsucharcthcscrods. IoraIcwcoppcrs
mult-colourcd chastsng swtchcs. At thc cnd oI thc jctty,
whtc mounds oI thc applc-markct. Thc applc on salc arc
packcd nstraw, thoscsold lc wthoutstrawn thc houscwvcs'
baskcts. A dark-rcd church rsc bcyond, outshonc n thcIrcsh
Novcmbcr ar by thc chccks oIthc applcs. Scvcral shops Ior
boatng-tacklcnsmall houscsncarthcjctty. Ropcsarc pantcd
on thcm. Lvcrywhcrc you sccwarcs dcpctcd on sgnboardsor
on housc-walls. ncshopnthc town hacascand bcltslargcr
thanlIcon ubarcbrckwalls.Alowcorncr-houscwthashop
Ior corsctsandmllncrysdccoratcd wth ladcs' Iaccscomplctc
wth hncry, and scvcrc bodcc pantcd on a ycllow-ochrc
ground. ProtrudngIromt atananglcsa lantcn wthsmlar
pcturcs on u glas pancs. Thc wholc s lkc thc Iaadc oIa
Iantasy-brothcl. Anothcr housc, lkcwsc not Iar Irom thc har-
bour, hassugar-sacksandcoalngrcyand blackrclcIonagrcy
wall. Somcwhcrc clsc shocs ran Irom horns oI plcnty. Iron-
mongcry s pantcd n dctal, hammcrs, cogs, plcn and thc
tncst scrcws on onc board thatlookslkc a pagc Irom anout-
One- Way Street 87
modcd chld`s pantng-book. Wth such pcturc thc town s
pcrmcatcd. Bctwccn thcm, howcvcr, rsc tall, Iortrcss-lkc
dcsolatc buldngs cvokng all thctcrrorsoITsarsm.
Not for sale. A mcchancal cabnct atthc Iar atlucca. Thc
cxhbton s accommodatcd n a long symmctrcally-dvdcd
tcnt.AIcw stcplcad uptot. Thcsgnboardshowsatablcwth
aIcw motonIcs puppcts. Youcntcrthc tcnt by thc rght-hand
opcnngandlcavctbythclcIt. lnthcbrghtntcrortwotablcs
cxtcnd towards thc back. Thcy touchwth thcr nncrcdgcsso
thatonlyanarrowspaccslchtowalkround thcm. Bothtablcs
arclow andglass-covcrcd. n thcmstandthc puppcts twcnty
totwcnty-hvcccntmctrchghonavcragc), whlcnthcrlowcr
conccaIcd part thc clockwork that drvc thcm tcks audbly.
AnarrowrascdboardIor chldrcn rum alongthc sdcsoIthc
tablcs. Thcrc arc dstortng mrron on thc waIls. Ncxt to thc
cntrancc prnccly pcrsonagc arc to b sccn. Lach oI thcm
makca partculargcsturc . oncaspacous, nvtngmovcmcnt
wththcrghtorlcharm,anothcraswvcllngoIhLglassycycs ,
somc roll thcr cyc and movc thcr arms at thc samc tmc.
Iranzjoscphstandsthcrc, Pus lX, cnthroncd andankcdby
two cardnals, _uccn Llcna oIltaly, thc Sultancss, Wlhclm l
on horscback,asmal! NapoIcon lllandancvcn smalIcrVctor
Lmmanucl Crown Prncc. Bblcal hgurnc IoIlow, thcnthc
onc Ircc-whccIng wth a cuttng sword, a dccaptatcd chld
undcr hs arm, thc othcr, on thc pont oI stabbng, stands
motonIcss but Ior hs roIlng cycs. Andtwomothcnarcthcrc .
onc cndlcsslyand gcntlyshaknghcrhcadIkca dcprcssvc, thc
othcrrasnghcrarmssIowly, bcsccchngly. Thcnalngtothc
cross. ltlcon thc ground. Thc hrclngs hammcr n thc nals.
Chrstnods . Chrstcruchcd,slakcdbythcspongcoIvncgar,
whchasoldcrocn hmm slowjcrks and thcnnstantlywth-
draws. Lach tmc thc Savour slghtly rasc hs chn. Irom
bchnd an angcl bcnds ovcr thc cros wth a chalcc Ior blood,
holdstnIrontoIthcbodyandthcn,asutwcrcbllcd, rcmovcs
t. Thc othcr tablc shows gcnrc pcturcs. Gargantua wth
dumplngs. In Iront oIa platc hc shovcls thcm nto hs mouth
wth both hands, altcrnatcly lItng hs lch arm and hs rght.
Each hand holdsa Iork on whcha dumplngs mpalcd. An
Alpnc madcn spnnng. Two monkcys playng volns. A
magcanhastwobarrcl-lkccontancrsnIrontoIhm. Thconc
on thc rght opcns, and thc top halIoIa lady's body cmcrgcs.
Thconconthclchopcns .homtrscshalI-lcngthaman'sbody.
Agan thc rght-hand contancr opcns and now a ram's skull
appcanwththclady`sIacc bctwccntshorns. ThcnonthclcIt
a monkcy prcscntstsclInstcad oIthc man. Thcn t all starts
agan Irom thc bcgnnng. Anothcr magcan. hc has a tablc
nIrontoIhmonwhch hc holds bcakcnupsdc-downncach
hand. Lndcr thcm, as hc altcrnatcly lIts onc thcn thc othcr,
appcars now a loaIor an applc, now a owcr or a dc. Thc
magc wcll . a Iarm-boy stands hcad-shakng at a wcll. A grl
drawswatcrandthcunIaltcrng thck strcam oIglas runsIrom
thc wcll-mouth. Thc cnchantcd lovcrs . a goldcn bush or a
goldcn amcparts n twowngs. Wthn arc sccn twopuppcts.
Thcytun thcr Iaccs towards cach othcrand thcn away, as I
lookng at cach othcr n conIuscd astonshmcnt.Bclow cach
hgurca smalllabcl. Thcwholc datngbackto 1 862.
ThcauthorlayshsdcaonthcmarblctablcoI thccaIc.lcngthy
mcdtaton, IorhcmakcsuscoIthctmcbcIorc thcarrvaloIhs
glass, thc lcns through whch hc cxamnc thc patcnt. Thcn,
dclbcratcly,hcunpackshsnstrumcnts. Iountanpcns,pcncl,
and ppc. Thc numcrous cIcntclc, arrangcd a n an amph-
thcatrc,makcuphsclncalaudcncc. Cocc, carcIullypourcd
and consumcd, puu thcdca undcrchloroIorm. What thsdca
maybc ha no morc conncctonwth 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.


Ip|s|ament the decay of criticim. Ior its day is |ong past.


+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
h become a |ie, perhaps the who|e nave 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
the eyes with things a car, growing to gigantic proportions,
careensat us out ofah|m screen. Andjustasthe h|mdoesnot

/ ' '.
present furniture and faades 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 acro 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,just peop|ewhom nothingmoveortoucheany|onger
aretaughtto cryagainbyh|ms.Iorthemaninthestreet, how-
ever, it is money that aects him in this way, brings him into
paintings in the dea|er's exhibition room, knows more impor-
tantifnot better things about them thantheH |overviewing
them in the showroom window. The warmth ofthe subjectis
communicated to him, stirs sentientsprings. What, in the end,
makcs advcrtscmcnts so supcror to crtcsm! Not what thc
Thcboss's room brstlcs wthwcapons. Thcapparcnt comIort
that dsarms thosc cntcrng s n rcalty a hddcn arscnal. A
tclcphoncon thcdcskshrllsatcvcry momcnt. ltntcrruptsyou
at thc most mportant pont and gvc your opponcnt tmc to
contrvc an answcr. Mcanwhlc snatchc oIconvcrsaton show
howmanymattcrsarc dcaltwth hcrc thatarc morcmportant
than thc onc undcr dscusson. You thnk ths to yoursclI and
slowlystarttorctrcatIrom your poston.Youbcgn towondcr
ntcrlocutor s lcavng tomorrow Ior Brazl , soon you arc so
muchatoncwth thchrm thatyourcgrctthcmgranchccom-
plans oIon thc tclcphonc a a dsturbancc oIbusncss rathcr
than wclcomng t as an opportunty). Summoncd or un-
summoncd thc sccrctary cntcrs. Shc s vcry prctty. And Ihcr
cmpIoycr s cthcr prooIaganst hcr charms or clsc has long
clarhcd hs poston a hcr admrcr, thc ncwcomcr wll glancc
ovcr at hcrmorc thanoncc, and shcknowshow to tunthsto
advantagcwthhcrboss. Hspcrsonnclarcmmotonproducng
card-ndcxc n whch thc vstor knows hmsclIto bc cntcrcd
undcrvarousrubrcs.Hcstartstotrc. Thcothcr, wththclght
bchnd hm, rcads ths othcdazzlngly llumnatcd Iacc wth
satsIacton. Thcarmchar too docs ts work, you stn ttltcd
a Iar back as at thc dcntst`s, and m hnally acccpt ths ds-
comhtng proccdurc as thc lcgtmatc statc oI aars. Ths
trcatmcnt, too, isIollowcd sooncror latcr bya lqudaton.
lnthccarlymornngl drovcthroughMarscllcs to thcstaton,
and as l passcd Iamlar placc on myway, and thcn ncw, un-
One- Way Street 91
Iamlar oncs or othcrs that l rcmcmbcrcd only vagucly, thc
a Icw last tmcs bcIorc t passcd Irom my sght Ior who knows
how long ntoa warchousc cratc.
lnadrcamltookmylIcwthagun. Whcntwcntonlddnot
wakcupbutsawmysclIIorawhlclyng. nlythcnddlwakc.
Ths s thc wcghtcst objccton to thc modc oIlIc oIthc con-
brmcdbachclor . hc catsbyhmscl TakngIooalonctcndsto
makc onc hard andcoarsc. Thosc accustomcd t t must lcada
Spartan lIc Ithcyarc notto go downhll. Hcrmts havc obscr-
vcd,IIoronlythsrcason,aIrugaldct. Iortsonlymcompany
I tstobwcllrcccvcd.Nomattcrbywhom.Iormcrlyabcggar
atthc tablc cnrchcd cachbanquct.Thcsplttngupandgvng
arc all-mportant, not socablc convcrsaton. What s sur-
prsng, on thc othcr hand, s that wthout Iood convvalty
grows prccarous. Playng host lcvcls dcrcnccs, bnds to-
and by ths alonc domnatcd convcrsaton. Whcn all abstan,
howcvcr, rvalrcs andconctcnsuc.
longbccnoutoIcrculatonon a ton cnvclopc oItcnsaysmorc
thana rcadngoIdozcnsoIpagcs. Somctmc youcomcacross
thcm on postcards and arc unsurc whcthcr you should dctach
thcm or kccp thc card as t s, lkca pagcbyan old mastcrthat
arcalso, nthcglass-cascsoIcaIcs, lcttcrswthachargc onthcm,
pllorcd bcIorcallcycs.rhavcthcybccndcportcd, andhavc
to wat n ths casc Ior ycars, langushng on a glass Salas y
Gomcz! lcttcn that rcman long unopcncd takc on a brutal
look, thcy arc dsnhcrtcd, and malgnantly plot rcvcngc Ior
longdaysoIsucrng. ManyoIthcmlatcrbgurcnthcwndows
oIstamp dcalcrs, as cntrc brandcd ovcr and ovcr wth post-
wth post-markcd stamps, and t would not b dmcult to
conbnc thcmsclvcs to thc occult part oIthc stamp. thc post-
mark. Ior thc postmark s thc dark sdc oIstamps. Thcrc arc
ccrcmonous onc that placc a halo about thc hcad oI_uccn
Vctora, and prophctc oncs that gvc Humbcrt a martyr's
crown. ButnosadstcIantasycancqualthc blackpractccthat
lkc an carthquakc. And thc pcrvcrsc plcasurc n contrastng
ths volatcd stamp-body wth ts whtc lacc-garnshcd tullc
drcss . thc scrratcd bordcr. Thc pursucr oI postmarks must
posscss lkc a dctcctvc nIormaton on thc most notorous post
omccs, lkc an archacologstthcartoIrcconstructngthc torsos
oIthc most Iorcgn placc-namcs, and lkc a cabbalstan nvcn-
tory oI datc Ior an cntrc ccntury. Stamp brstlc wth tny
numbcrs, mnutc lcttcrs, dmnutvc lcavc and cycs. Thcy arc
graphc ccllular tssuc. All ths swarms about and, lkc lowcr
anmals, lvc on cvcn whcn mutlatcd. Ths s why such
powcrIul pcturccanbcmadcoIpcccoIstampstucktogcthcr.
Butn thcmlIc bcanalwaysa hntoIcorruptontosgnIythat
t s composcd oI dcad mattcr. Thcr portrau and obsccnc
group arc lttcrcd wth boncs and rddlcd wth worms.
oIa strangc sun d thc postal mnstrc oIthc Vatcan or
One- Way Street 93
Ecuador capturc rays unknown to us? And why arc wc not
shown thc stamps oI thc supcror plancts? Thc thousand
gradatonsoIhrc-rcd thatarcn crculatonon Vcnus, and thc
Iour grcatgrcyshadcs oIMan and thc unnumbcrcd stampsoI
Countrc and occans onstamps arc onlythcprovnccs, kngs
onlythchrclngsoInumbcrsthatstccpthcmn thcrcoloursat
wll. Stamp-albumsarcmagcrcIcrcncc-books, thcnumbcrsoI
monarchsand palaccs, oIanmals and allcgorcs andstatcsarc
rccordcd n thcm. Postal tramc dcpcnds on thcr harmony as
thc motons oI thc plancts dcpcnd on thc harmony oI thc
ld Groschen-stamp showngonlyoncortwo largchgurcsn
an oval. Thcylook lkc thosc hrst photo Irom whch, n black-
lacqucrcd Iramcs, rclatons wc ncvcr kncw look down on us .
hgurc-shapcd grcat-aunts or IorcIathcrs. Thun and Taxs too
toscc thc lghtoIa candlc shnng through thcm Irom bchnd.
But thcn thcrc arc small stamps wthout pcrIoratons, wthout
ndcaton oIcurrcncyor country. ln a tghtly-wovcn spdcr's
wcb thcy bcar only a numbcr. Thcsc arc pcrhap Iatc`s truc
to dandysh, too gIcamng brcast-pn n thc tc oIa sly, only
halI-Europcanzcd mcrchantIrom Constantnoplc. Thcynum-
bcr among thc postal parvcnus, thc largc, badly pcrIoratcd,
garsh Iormau oINcaragua or Colomba, whch dcck thcm-
sclvcsout lkc banknotcs.
unaltcrng. Thc changcoImonarchs and Iorms oIgovcrnmcnt
pasovcrthcm wthouttracc,asovcrphantoms.
Thc chld looks towards Iar-oLbcra through an nvcrtcd
opcra-glass : thcrc t lc bchnd ts lttlc strp oI sca wth ts
palms,just a thcstampsshow t. Wth Vascoda Gamahcsals
around a tranglc a soscclcan a hopc and whosc colours
changc wth thc wcathcr. A travcl brochurc Ior thc Capc oI
Goo Hopc. Whcn hc sccs thc swan on Australan stamps, t s
always, cvcn on thc bluc, grccn and brown ssucs, thc black
oIa pool as on thc most pacbc occan.
Stamparcthc vstng-cards that thc grcat statcslcavcn a
Lkc Gullvcr thcchld travcls amongthc lands and pcoplcs
olhs postagc stamps. Thc gcography and hstory oIthc Lll-
putans, thcwholc sccnccoIthclttlcnaton wth all tsbgurcs
and namcs, s nstllcd n hm n slccp. Hc takcs part n thcr
transactons, attcnds thcr purplc asscmblcs, watchcs thc
launchngoIthcrlttlcshpandcclcbratcwth thcrcrowncd
hcads, cnthroncd bchnd hcdgcs,jublccs.
Thcrc s, t s known, a stamp-languagc that s to owcr-
languagcwhat thcmorscalphabctstothcwrttcnonc. ButIor
how long wll thc owcn contnuc to bloom bctwccn thc
tclcgraph polcs? Arc not thc grcat artstc stamp oIthc post-
war ycars, wth thcr Iull colours, alrcady thc autumnal astcrs
and dahlaoIthisora?Stcphan,aGcrmanandnotbychancc
a contcmporaryoI jcanPaul, plantcd thssccdn thcsummcry
mddlc oI thc nnctccnth ccntury. lt wll not survvc thc
I sat at nght n volcnt pan on a bcnch. ppostc mc on
anothcr two grls sat down. Thcy sccmcd to want to dscuss
One- Way Street 95
somcthng n conhdcnccand bcgan to whspcr. Nobodycxccpt
mc was ncarby and I should not havc undcrstoo thcr ltalan
Nothng s poorcr than a truth cxprcsscd a t was thought.
Commttcdtowrtngnsucha casc, t isnotcvcnabadphoto-
graph. And thc truth rcIuscs lkca chldorawomanwhodocs
notlovcus), IacngthclcnsoIwrtngwhlcwccrouch undcrthc
black cloth, to kccp stll and look amablc. Truth wants to bc
startlcd abruptly, at onc strokc, Irom hcr sclI-mmcrson,
whcthcr by uproar, musc or crc Ior hclp. Who could count
thc alarm sgnals wth whch thc nncr worldoIthctrucwrtcr
is cquppcd? And to 'wrtc" s nothng othcr than tosct thcm
janglng. Thcn thc swcct odalsquc rscs wth a start, snatchcs
whatcvcr hrst comc to hand n thc melee oIhcr boudor, our
cranum, wraps t around hcr and ccs us, almost unrccognz-
ablc, to othcr pcoplc. But how wcll-consttutcd shc must bc,
howhcalthly bult, tostcp n such manncramongthcm, con-
tortcd, rattlcd, and yct vctorous, captvatng.
_uotatons n my workarc lkcwaysdcrobbcrs who lcap out
armcdand rclcvc thcstrollcroIhsconvcton.
Thc kllngoIa crmnal can bc moralbut ncvcrts lcgt-
Thc provdcr Ior all mankind 1b God, and thc statc Hs
! Thc cxprcssonsoIpcoplc movngabouta pcturc-gallcryshow
\', j ll-conccalcddsappontmcnt thatonly pcturcs hang thcrc.
` /
Bcyond doubt . a sccrct connccton cxstsbctwccnthcmcasurc
oIgoodsandthcmcasurcoIlIc,whchstosay, bctwccnmoncy
and tmc. Thc morctrval thc contcnt oIa lIctmc, thc morc
Iragmcntcd, multIarous, and dsparatcarcts momcnts, whlc
thcgrandpcrocharactcrzcsasupcror cxstcncc. Vcryaptly,
lchtcnbcrg suggcsts that tmc whlcd away should b sccn as
madcsmallcr, rathcrthan shortcr, andhcalsoobscrvcs . 'aIcw
dozcn mllon mnutc makc up a lIc oIIorty-hvc ycars, and
somcthngmorc. Whcna currcncysnuscaIcw mllon unts
rathcrthanycars, Itsto appcararcspcctablc sum. Andtwll
bc Irttcrcd away lkc a bundlc oIbank notcs . Austra cannot
brcak thc habtoIthnkngn orns.
Moncy and ram bclong togcthcr. Thc wcathcr tsclIs an
ndcx oI thc statc oIths world. Bls s cloudlcss, knows no
wcathcr. Thcrc also comc a cloudlcss rcalm oIpcrIcct goods,
on whch no moncyIalls.
satrcal Iorcc oIsuch a book would bc cquallcd only by ts
objcctvty. Iornowhcrc morc navclythann thcscdocumcnts
docs captalsm dsplay tsclIn solcmn carncst. Thc nnoccnt
cupdsIrolckng about numbcrs, thc goddcsscs holdngtablcts
oIthc law, thc stalwart hcroc shcathng thcr swords bcIorc
monctary unts, arc a world oI thcr own. ornamcntng thc
IaadcoIhcll. IIlchtcnbcrghadIoundpapcrmoncyncrcula-
ton, thc planoIths work would nothavccscapcd hm.
One- Way Street 97
Publisher : Mycxpcctatonshavc bccn most rudcly dsappon-
tcd. Yourwork makc no mprcsson on thc publc, youdo not
havc thcslghtcst pullngpowcr. And I havc notsparcdcxpcn-
scs. I havc ncurrcd advcrtsng costs. You know how hghly I
thnk oIyou, dcsptc all ths. Butyou cannothold t aganst mc
Icvcn I now havc to lstcn to my commcrcal consccncc. II
thcrcs anyoncwhodocswhathccanIor authors, I amhc.But,
aItcr all, I als havc a wIc and chldrcn tolookaIcr. I donot
mcan,oIcoursc, thatIholdyouaccountablcIor thclosscsoIthc
pastycars.Buta bttcrIcclngoIdsappontmcntwllrcman.I
rcgrct that I am at prcscnt absolutcly unablc to support you
Author : Sr, why dd you bccomca publshcr?Wcshallhavc
thc answcr by rctun mal. But pcrmt mc to say onc thng n
advancc. I hgurc n your archvc numbcr z;. You havc
publshcdhvcoImy books , nothcrwords, youhavc put your
moncyhvctmcon numbcr z;. I amsorrythatnumbcrz; dd
not provc a wnncr. Incdcntally, you only took couplcd bcts.
nly bccausc I comcncxt toyourlucky numbcr z8. Nowyou
knowwhyyoubccamca publshcr.Youmghtj ust wcllhavc
cntcrcd an honcst proIcsson, lkc your cstccmcd Iathcr. But
ncvcr a thought Ior thc morrowsuch is youth. Contnuc to
ndulgcyourhabts.Butavodposng anhoncstbusncssman.
o not Icgn nnoccncc whcn you havc gamblcd cvcrythng
away, do not talk about your cght-hour workng day, or thc
nght whcnyouhardlygct anyrcst, cthcr. 'Truthandhdclty
bcIorc all clsc, my chld. " And don`t start makngsccncs wth
yournumbcrs ! thcrwsc youwll b bounccd.
Scxual Iulblmcnt dclvcn thcman Irom hssccrct, whch docs
notconsstn scxualty but whch nuIulblmcnt, and pcrhaps
m t alonc, s scvcrcdnot solvcd. Thssccrct s comparablc to
thc Icttcr thatbnds hm to lIc. Thc woman cuu t, thc man s
Ircc to dc, bccausc his lIc ha lost tssccrct. Thcrcbyhcattans
rcbrth, andahsbclovcdIrcchmIromthcmothcr`sspcll,thc
woman ltcrally dctachc hm Irom Mothcr Lartha mdwIc
Hc who asks Iortunc-tcllcrs thc Iuturc unwttngly IorIcts an
nncrntmatonoIcomngcvcntsthatsathousand tmcsmorc
cxact than anythng thcy may say. Hc s mpcllcd by ncrta,
apathy wth whch hc hcars his Iatc rcvcalcd than thc alcrt
dcxtcrty wth whch thc man oI couragc lays hands on thc
Iuturc. Ior prcscncc oImnd s an cxtract oI thc Iuturc, and
prccsc awarcncs oIthc prcscnt momcnt morc dccsvc than
Iorcknowlcdgc oI thc most dstant cvcnts. mcns, prcscnt-
mcnts, sgnals pas day and nght through our organsm lkc
wavc mpulscs. To ntcrprct thcm or to usc thcm, that s thc
qucston. Thc two arc rrcconclablc. Cowardcc and apathy
counscl thc Iormcr, lucdty and Irccdom thclattcr. Ior bcIorc
such prophcorwarnngha bccn mcdatcdbywordormagc
t haslostitsvtality, thcpowcrtostrkcat ourccntrc andIorcc
us, wc scarccly know how, to act accordngly. lIwc ncglcct to
do so, and only thcn, thcmcssagcsdccphcrcd.Wcrcad t. But
t s now to latc. Hcncc, whcnyouarctakcnunawarcs byan
outbrcakoIhrcorthc ncws oIa dcath, thcrcsnthchrstmutc
shocka IcclngoIgult, thc ndstnct rcproach. dd yourcally
notknowoIths?d not thc dcad pcrson`s namc, thclasttmc
youuttcrcdt, sounddcrcntlynyourmouth?oyounotscc
n thc amcs a sgn Irom ycstcrday cvcnng, 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
mournng about t tbat gavc tbc sccrct away? lkc ultravolct
raysmcmorysbows tocacb mann tbcbookoIlIcascrpt tbat
nvsbly and propbctcally glosscs tbc tcxt. But t is not wtb
mpunty tbat tbcsc ntcntons arc cxcbangcd, tbat unlvcd lIc
s bandcdovcrto cards, sprts, stars, to bm nstantsquan-
dcrcd, msuscd, and rcturncd to M dshgurcd, wc do not go
unpunsbcd Ior cbcatng tbc bodyoItspowcrto mccttbcIatcs
on ts own ground and trumpb. Tbc momcnt s tbc Caudnc
Yokc bcncatb wbcb Iatc must bow to tbc body. To turn tbc
tbrcatcnng Iuturc nto a Iulhllcd now, tbconlydcsrablctclc-
patbc mraclc, saworkoIbodlyprcscnccoImnd. Prmtvc
cpocbs, wbcn sucb dcmcanour was part oIman's daly bus-
nstrumcnt oI dvnaton. Lvcn tbc anccnts kncw oItbs truc
practcc, and Scpo, stumblng as bc sct Ioot on Cartbagnan
oIvctory," Teneo te, terra AJricana !" Wbatwouldbavcbccomca
portcnt oIdsastcrbc bndsbodlyto tbcmomcnt, makng bm-
sclItbc Iactotum oIbs body. lnjust sucb mastcry tbc anccnt
ascctc cxcrcscs oIIastng, cbastty, and vgl bavc Iorall tmc
cclcbratcd tbcr grcatcst vctorcs. Lacb mornng tbc day lcs
lkc a Ircsb sbrt on our bcd, tbs ncomparably bnc, ncom-
parablytgbtlywovcn tssucoIpurc prcdctonts us pcrIcctly.
Tbc bappncss oI tbc ncxt twcnty-Iour boun dcpcnds on our
ablty, on wakng, topck t up.
Hs Icclng-cvcn aganst all rcasonmakc bm a mcsscngcr
Irom tbcrcalmoItbcdcad.lortbccommuntyoIalltbcdcads
m mmcnsc tbat cvcn bcwbo onlyrcportsdcatb s awarc oIt.
Ad plures ire was tbc latns' cxprcsson Ior dyng.
At Bcllnzona l notccd tbrcc prcsts n tbc staton watng
room. Tbcywcrc sttngon a bcncb dagonally oppostc mnc.
1 00
lnraptattcntonl obscrvcdthcgcsturcoIthconcscatcdnthc
mddlc, whowadstngushcdIrom hs brothcnbyarcdskull-
cap. Whlc hc spcaksto thcm, his hands arc Ioldcd n hs lap,
andonly now and thcns onc or thc othcrvcry slghtly rascd
and movcd. l thnk to mysclI: hsrghthand must alwaysknow
what thclcIt is dong.
ls thcrc anyonc who ha not oncc bccn stunncd, cmcrgng
Irom thcMtrontothcopcn ar, to stcpntobrllantsunlght !
And yct thc sun shonc a Icw mnutcs carlcr, whcn hc wcnt
down,justasbrghtly. So qucklyhas hc Iorgottcn thcwcathcr
oIthc uppcr world. And as quckly thc world m ts turn wll
Iorgct hm. IorwhocansaymorcoIhisowncxstcnccthanthat
t has passcdthroughthclvcsoItwoorthrccothcrs as gcntly
andclosclyas thc wcathcr!
last act, and kngs, prnccs, attcndants and Iollowcn 'cntcr,
brngs thcm to a standstll. Thc ght oIthc dramati peronae s
arrcstcd by thc stagc. Thcr cntry nto thc vsual hcld oInon-
drawbrcath, bathc thcm n ncw ar. Thc appcarancconstagc
oIthoscwhocntcr'ccng` takcsIrom thsts hddcnmcanng.
ur rcadng oIths Iormula s mbucd wth cxpcctaton oIa
placc, a lght, a Iootlghtglarc, n whch our ght through lIc
Bourgcos cxstcncc is thc rcgmc oIprvatc aars. Thc morc
mportantthc naturc and mplcatonsoIa modc oIbchavour,
thc Iurthcr rcmovcd t s Irom obscrvaton hcrc. Poltcal con-
vcton, hnancal stuaton, rclgonall thcsc scck hdcouts,
and thc Iamlys thc rottcn, dsmalcdbccnwhoscclosctsand
One- Way Street 1/
lIc proclams thc totalsubjugaton oIcrotcsm toprvacy. 5
woong bccomca slcnt, dcad-scrous transacton bctwccn two
pcrsons alonc, and ths thoroughly prvatc woong, scvcrcd
Irom all rcsponsblty, s what is rcally ncw n 'rtng'. In
contrast, thcprolctaran and thcIcudal typ oImcnrcscmblc
compctton thatthcyovcrcomc. lnthsthcyrcspcctthcwoman
Iar morc dccply than n hcr Irccdom, bcng at hcr command
wthoutcross-cxamnnghcr. ThcshhoIcrotccmphasstothc
publc sphcrc s both Icudal and prolctaran. To b sccnwtha
woman on such-and-such an occason can mcan morc than to
slccp wth hcr. Thus n marragc, too, valuc doc not lc n thc
stcrlc 'harmony"oIthc partncrs . tis a thcccccntrcoshoot
oIthcr strugglc and rvalrc cnactcd clscwhcrc that, lkc thc
chld, thc sprtual Iorcc oImarragc is manIcst.
Salorsscldomcomcashorc ,scrvcconthchghscasaholday
bycomparsonwththc labournharbours, whcrcloadngand
unloadng must olcn b donc day and nght. Whcn a gangs
thcn gvcn a Icw hours' shorc-lcavc t s alrcady dark. At bcst
thc cathcdral looms lkc a dark promontory on thc way to thc
tavcrn. Thc alc-housc s thc kcy to cvcry town, toknow whcrc
Thc Gcrman scamcn's bar unrolls thc nocturnal plan oIthc
cty. tohndthcwayIrom thcrcto thcbrothcl,tothcothcrbars
s not dmcult. Thcr namc havc crss-crosscd thc mcaltimc
oIban and dancc-halls, bcautIul womcn and natonal dshcs
Irom thc ncxt. But who knows whcthcr hc wll goashorc ths
thantradcsmcncomcaboardwthsouvcnrs .chansandpcturc-
postcards, ol-pantngs, knvc and lttlc marbIc hgurcs. Thc
cty sghts arc not sccn but bougbt. ln tbc salors' chcsts thc
lcathcr bcIt lrom Hong Kong s|uxtaposcd to a panorama ol
Palcrmoanda grl`sphotolrom Stcttn.AndtbcrrcaI habtat
whch, lor tbc bourgcos, lorcgn Iands arc cnshroudcd. Wbat
nottbcdupcolpaImsandccbcrgs. Thcscamanssatcdwth
dstngushcountrcbcttcrbythcprcparatonoltbcrbsb than
bythcrbuldng-styIcor Iandscapcs. Hcsm mucbathomcn
dctal that thc occan routcs wbcrc hc cuu cIosc to othcr sbps
grcctng tbosc olhs own hrm wth bowls lrom tbc srcn) bc-
comcnosythoroughlarcwhcrcyouhavctogvcwayto tramc.
Hc Ivc on thc opcn sca n a cty wbcrc, on thc Marscllcs
burg brothcl, andthcNcapoltan Castcl dcIvosto b lound
on Barcclona's Plaza CataIua. Ioromccrs tbcr natvc town
stll hoIds prdc olplacc. But lor thc ordnary salor, or thc
stokcr, tbc pcoplc whosc transportcd Iabour-powcr mantans
contactwth tbc commodtcm thc hullolthc sbp, tbcntcr-
Iaccd harboun arc nolongcr cvcn a homcIand, but a cradIc.
And lstcnng to thcm onc rcalzcs what mcndacty rcsdcs n
All rclgons havc honourcd thc bcggar. Ior hc provcs that na
mattcratthcsamctmc prosacandboly,banaIandrcgcncra-
tng tbcgvngolalms,ntcllcctandmoralty,consstcncyand
prncpIc arc mscrably nadcquatc.
Wc dcpIorc tbc bcggan n thc South, lorgcttng that thcr
pcrsstcnccnlrontolournoscs|usthcd 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 hisunk the sing|e chain or
cameo thatcould delightus, is ofthe same order.
Ifone had to expound the doctrine ofantiquity with utmost
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 owering 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 dierent. 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-
stcllatons rosc n thc sky, acral spacc and occan dcpths
thundcrcd wth propcllcrs, and cvcrywhcrc sacrbcal shas
wcrcdugn MothcrLarth. ThisimmcnscwoongoIthccosmos
was cnactcd Iorthcbrsttmconaplanctaryscalc, thats,nthc
sprtoItcchnology. But bccausc thclustIor prohtoIthc rulng
clas sought satsIacton through t, tcchnology bctraycd man
and turncd thc brdal bcd nto a bloodbath. Thc mastcry oI
naturc,m thcmpcralsutcach,isthcpurposcoIalltcchnology.
oIchldrcn by adults to b thc purposc oIcducaton? ls not
cducaton abovc all thc ndspcnsablc ordcrng oIthc rclaton-
tcchnology s not thc mastcry oI naturc but oI thc rclaton
bctwccn naturc and man. Mcn a a spccc complctcd thcr
dcvclopmcnt thousandsoIycan ago, but mankndasaspcccs
isjust bcgnnng hs. ln tcchnology aphysi s bcngorganzcd
through whch manknd`s contactwth thc cosmo takcsa ncw
and dcrcnt Iorm Irom that whch t had n natons and
Iamlcs. nc nccd rccall only thc cxpcrcncc oI vcloctcs by
vrtuc oI whch manknd s now prcparng to cmbark on n-
rhythms Irom whch thc sck shall draw strcngth a thcy dd
arcaprchguratonoI sanatora.ThcparoxysmoI gcnunccosmc
accustomcdtocall'Naturc`. lnthcnghtsoIannhilatonoIthc
last war thc Iramc oI manknd wa shakcn by a Icclng that
rcscmblcd thc bls oIthc cplcptc. And thc rcvolts that Iol-
undcrtscontrol. ThcpowcroIthc prolctarat is thcmcasurcoI
uconvalcsccncc. lItisnot grppcd to thc vcj marrowbythc
dscplncoIthispowcr, no pacbst polcmcs wll savc t. lvng
substancc conqucrs thcIrcnzyoIdcstructononlyn thcccstasy
On Lan
e as Such
and on the Lan
o Man
Lvery expression of human menta| |ife can b understoo as a
kindof|anguage, and this understanding, in themannerofatrue
a |anguage ofmusic and ofscu|pture, abouta |anguage ofustice
that ha nothing direct|y to do with those in which German or
Lng|ish |ega| udgments are couched, about a |anguage of tech-
in such contexu meam the tendency inherent in the subects
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|anguageandoftheustice,
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
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
wthoutrclatonshpto languagc s an dca, butthis dca can bcar
no lrut cvcn wthn that rcalm ol ldcas whosc crcumlcrcncc
dchncs thc dcaolGod.
All that s asscrtcd hcrc is that all cxprcsson, nsolar as t s a
communcaton ol mcntal mcanng, s to bc classcd a languagc.
And cxprcsson, by ts wholc nncrmost naturc, s ccrtanly to bc
undcrstood only a language; on thc othcr hand, to undcrstand a
lngustc cnttytsalways ncccssary toaskolwhchmcntalcntty
tsthcdrcctcxprcsson.Thatistosay. thcGcrmanlanguagc,lor
cxamplc,s bynomcansthccxprcssonolcvcrythng thatwccould
thcorctcallycxprcs through t, but s thc drcct cxprcsson ol
that whch communcatc itsel n t. Ths 'tscll s a mcntal
cntty. lls thcrclorc obvous at oncc that thc mcntal cntty that
tobc dstngushcd lrom t. Thcvcwthat thc mcntal csscncc ola
thng conssts prccscly n ts languagcths vcw, takcn as a
hypothcss, s thc grcat abys nto whch all lngustc thcory
thrcatcns to lall,* and to survvc suspcndcd prccscly ovcr ths
abys s ts task. hc dstncton bctwccn a mcntal cntty and thc
lngustc cnttyn whch t communcatc s thc hrst stagc olany
study ol lngustc thcory, and ths dstncton sccms m unqucs-
tonablc thatts, rathcr, thclrcqucntlyasscrtcddcnttybctwccn
mcntal andlngustcbcngthat consttutca dccpand ncomprc-
olthc ~ord logos. Ncvcrthclcss, ths paradox ha a placc, as a
soluton, atthc ccntrcollngustc thcory, but rcmans a paradox,
andnsolublc, lplaccdatthcbcgnnng.
bcngcorrcspondngtot. ltslundamcntalthatthismcntalbcng
communcatc tscll in languagc and not through languagc.
Languagcs thcrclorc havcnospcakcr, lths mcans somconc who
communcatcs through thcsc languagcs. Mcntal bcng commun-
catcs tsclln, not through, a languagc, whch mcans . t s 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 dcntcal wth lngustc bcng. Mcntal s dcntcal
What s communcablc n a mcntal cntty s ts lngustc cntty.
languagc thcrcIorc communcatc thc partcularlngustc bcng
oI thngs, but thcr mcntal bcng only nsoIar a ths s drcctly
ncludcd n thcr lngustc bcng, nsoIar a t s capablcoIbcng
languagc communcatcs thc lngustc bcng oI thngs. Thc
clcarcst manIcstaton oIths bcng, howcvcr, s languagc tsclI.
Thc answcr to thc qucston 'What doc languagc communcatc!"1
s thcrcIorc 'All languagc communcatc tscl Thc languagc oI
ths lamp, Ior cxamplc, docs not communcatc thc lamp Ior thc
mcntal bcng oI thc lamp, nsoIar as t s communicable, is by no
mcam thc lamp tscl[, but . thc languagc-lamp, thc lamp n
communcaton, thc lamp n cxprcsson. Ior n languagc thc
stuaton s ths . the linguistic bein o al things i their language. Thc
undcrstandngoIlngustcthcorydcpcndson gvngths propos-
ton a clarty that annhlatcs cvcn thc appcarancc oI tautology.
Ths proposton s un tautologcal, Ior t mcans . that whch n a
mcntal cntty s communcablc i ts languagc. n ths 's"
cquvalcnt to 'is mmcdatcly`) cvcrythng dcpcnds. Not that
whch appears most clcarly n ts languagc s communcablc n a
mcntal cntty, a was just sad by way oI transton, but ths
capacit Ior communcatonslanguagctsclI r. thclanguagcoIa
mcntal cntty s drcctly thatwhchs communcablc n t. What
s communcablcoj amcntalcntty, in ths tcommuncatcs tscll.
Whch sgnhcs . ah

communcatcs tsclI r morc prc-

cscly. all languagc communcatc tsclIin tsclI, t s n thc purcst
scnsc thc 'mcdum oIthc communcaton. Mcdaton, whch s
thc mmcdacy oIall mcntal communcaton, s thc Iundamcntal
problcm oIlngustc thcory, and uonc choosc to call ths m-
At thc samc tmc, thc noton oIthc magc oIlanguagc ponts to
mcthngclsc .unhntcncss.Thsscondtonalonummcdacy.
orjust bccauscnothngs communcatcd through languagc, what
s communcatcd in languagc cannot bc cxtcrnally lmtcd or
1 10
mcasurcd, and tbcrcIorc all languagc contans ts own ncom-
mcnsurablc, unquclyconsttutcdnhnty. ltslngustcbcng, not
ts vcrbal mcanngs, dchncs ts Irontcr.
applcdtonian, mcans . tbclngustcbcngoImansbislanguagc.
Wbcb sgnhcs . man communcatc bs own mcntal bcng i bs
languagc. Howcvcr, tbc languagc oIman spcaks n words. Man
tbcrcIorc communcatcs bs own mcntal bcng nsoIar t s
communcablc) by naming all otbcr tbngs. But do wc know any
otbcrlanguagc tbat namc tbngs? lt sbould not b acccptcd tbat
wcknowoIno languagc otbcrtbantbatoIman,Ior tbss untruc.
Wc only know oIno namin languagc otbcr tban tbatoIman, to
dcntFnamnglanguagcwtb languagc sucbstoroblngustic
tbcory oIts dccpcstnsgbts. It i thereore the linguisti bein i man
to name things.
Wby namc tbcm? To wbom doc man communcatc bmsclI?
But s ths qucston, applcd to man, othcr tban applcd to
otbcr communcatons languagcs) ? To wbom doc tbc lamp
communcatctsclI?Tbcmountan? TbcIox?Butbcrctbcanswcr
s .toman.Tbsisnotantbropomorpbsm.TbctrutboItbsanswcr
s sbown n knowlcdgc and pcrbap als n art. Iurtbcrmorc, I
tbc lamp and tbc mountan and tbc Iox dd not communcatc
tbcmsclvcstoman, bowsbouldbc b ablcto namctbcm?Andbc
namctbcm, he communcatc bmsclIby namngthem. To wbom
BcIorc tbs qucston can b answcrcd wc must agan nqurc.
bow doc man communcatc bmsclI? A proIound dstncton s
to b madc, a cbocc prcscntcd, m Iacc oIwbcb an ntrnscally
Ialsc undcrstandng oI languagc s ccrtan to gvc tsclI away.
oc man communcatc bs mcntal bcng by tbc namc tbat bc
gvc tbngs? L in tbcm? ln tbc paradoxcal naturc oI tbcsc
qucstons lc tbcr answcr. Anyonc wbo bclcvc tbat man
communcatcbs mcntal bcngq namc cannotals assumc tbat
t s bs mcntal bcng tbat bc communcatcs, Ior tbs docs not
bappcntbrougbtbc namcsoItbngs, tbats,tbrougbtbcwords by
wbcb bc dcnotc a tbng. And, cqually, tbc advocatc oIsucb a
On Language as Such and on the Language i Man 111
vcw can only assumc that man s communcatng Iactual subjcct
mattcr to othcr mcn, Ior that doc happcn through thc word by
whchhcdcnotcathng.Thsvcwsthcbourgcos conccptonoI
languagc, thc nvaldty and cmptncs oI whch wll bccomc
ncrcasngly clcar n what Iollows. lt holds that thc mcans oI
communcaton s thc word, ts objcct Iactual, ts addrcsscc a
human bcng. Thc othcr conccpton oI languagc, n contrast,
knowsnomcans,noobjcct,andnoaddrcssccoIcommuncaton. lt
mcans . in namin the mental bein i man communicates itsel t God.
Namng,nthcrcalmoI languagc, haatssolcpurposcandts
ncomparably hgh mcanng that t s thc nncrmost naturc oI
languagc tscl Namng s that by whch nothng bcyond t s
communcatcd, and i whch languagc tsclIcommuncatc tsclI
absolutcly. ln namng thc mcntaI cntty that communcatc tsclI
s language. Whcrc mcntal bcng n ts communcaton s languagc
tsclIn ts absolutc wholcncss, only thcrc s thc namc, and only
thc namcs thcrc. Namca thchcrtagcoIhumanlanguagcthcrc-
Iorc vouchc Ior thc Iact that language such s thc mcntal bcngoI
man, and only Ior ths rcason s thc mcntaI bcng oIman, alonc
among all mcntal cnttcs, communcablc wthout rcsduc. n
ths s Ioundcd thc dcrcncc bctwccn human languagc and thc
languagc oI thngs. But bccausc thc mcntal bcng oI man s
bcng oIman s namng. Man is thc namcr, by ths wc rccognzc
that through hm purc languagc spcaks. All naturc, nsoIar as t
communcatctscl[ communcatctsclInlanguagc,andm bnally
nlythroughthc lngustcbcngoIthngs canhcganknowlcdgc
whcn thngs rcccvc thcr namc Irom man, Irom whom n namc
languagc alonc spcaks. Man can calI namc thc languagc oI
languagc IthcgcntvcrcIcrstothcrclatonshpnotoIamcansbut
oIa mcdum) and n ths scnsc ccrtanly, bccausc hc spcaks n
namc, man s thc spcakcr oI languagc, and Ior ths vcry rcason
ts only spcakcr. ln tcrmng man thc spcakcr whch, howcvcr,
1 12
accordngto thcBblc, Iorcxamplc, clcarlymcansthc namcgvcr .
'^ man should namc all knds oI lvng crcaturcs, s should thcy
bccalled" ) , manylanguagcmply ths mctaphyscal truth.
Namc, howcvcr, snotonly thclast uttcrancc oIlanguagc but
also thc truc call oIt. Thus n namc appcan thc csscntal law oI
languagc, accordng to whch to cxprcss oncsclI and to addrcss
cvcrythng clsc amounts to thc samc. Languagcand n t a
mcntal cnttyonly cxprcssc tsclI purcly whcrc t spcaks n
namc, thats, n ts unvcrsal namng. 5 n namc culmnatc both
thcntcnsvctotaltyoI languagc, thc absolutclycommuncablc
mcntal cntty, and thc cxtcnsvc totalty oI languagc, thc
unvcrsally communcatng namng) cntty. By vrtuc oI ts
communcatng naturc, ts unvcrsalty, languagc s ncomplctc
whcrc thc mcntal cntty that spcaks Irom t s not n ts wholc
structurclngustc,thats, communcablc.MO alon ha a language
that is complete both in its universalit and in its intensiveness.
ln thc lght oIths, a qucston may now bc askcd wthout thc
rsk oI conIuson, a qucston that, though oI thc hghcst mcta-
physcalmportancc,can bclcarlyposcdhrstoIall oncoItcr-
mnology. ltswhcthcrmcntal bcngnotonlyoIman Ior thats
ncccssary) but als oIthngs, and thus mcntal bcng suchcan
Irom thc pont oI vcw oI lngustc thcory b dcscrbcd oI
lngustc naturc. lImcntal bcng s dcntcal wth lngustc, thcn
athng,byvrtucoItsmcntalbcng, sa mcdumoIcommunca-
ton, and what s communcatcd n t sn accordancc wth ts
mcdatng rclatonshpprccscly ths mcdum languagc) tsclI
Languagc s thus thc mcntal bcng oI thngs. Mcntal bcng s
thcrcIorc postulatcd at thc outsct communcablc, or, rathcr, s
stuatcdwithin thccommuncablc,andthcthcssthatthclngustc
bcngoIthngss dcntcalwth thc mcntal, nsoIar thc lattcrs
communcablc, bccomcs n ts 'nsoIar" 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 t. Thc
dcrcnccs bctwccn languagcs arc thosc oI mcda that arc ds-
tngushcd t wcrc by thcr dcnsty, that s, gradually, and ths
wth rcgard to thc dcnsty both oIthc communcatng namng)
On Language as Such and on the Language ofMan 1 1
twosphcrcs, whcharcclcarlydstngushcdyctuntcdonlynthc
namc languagcoIman, arcnaturally constantlyntcrrclatcd.
Ior thc mctaphysc oIlanguagc thc cquaton oImcntal wth
lngustcbcng,whchknowsonlygradualdcrcnccs, produccsa
graduatonoIall mcntal bcngn dcgrccs. Ths graduaton, whch
takcs placcwthn mcntalbcngtsclI, can nolongcr b cmbraccd
by anyhghcrcatcgoryandm lcadstothc graduatonoIall bcng,
both mcntal and lngustc, by dcgrccoIcxstcnccorbcng, such
as was alrcady Iamlar to scholastcsm wth rcgard to mcntal
bcng. Howcvcr, thc cquatonoImcntal and lngustc bcngs oI
grcatmctaphyscalmomcnttolngustcthcory bccausctlcads to
thc conccpt that has agan and agan, as I oI ts own accord,
ts most ntmatc connccton wth thc phlosophy oI rclgon.
Ths s thc conccptoIrcvclaton. Wthnall lngustcIormaton a
conct s wagcd bctwccn what s cxprcsscd and cxprcssblc and
lngustc bcng thc noton oIan nvcrsc proportonalty bctwccn
thc twos dsputcd. Iorthslattcr thcss runs . thc dccpcr, . c. , thc
morc cxstcnt and rcal thc mnd, thc morc t s ncxprcssblc and
uncxprcsscd, whcrca t s consstcnt wth thc cquaton proposcd
unambguous, m that thc cxprcsson that s lngustcally most
cxstcnt . c. , most hxcd) s lngustcally thc most roundcd and
dchntvc , n a word, thc most cxprcsscd s at thc samc tmc thc
purcly mcntal. Lxactly ths, howcvcr, s mcant by thc conccpt oI
rcvclaton, It takc thc nvolablty oIthc word a thc only and
sumccnt condtonand charactcrstcoIthc dvntyoIthcmcntal
bcngthatscxprcsscdnt. T

c hghcst mcntal rcgonoIrclgon

u n thcconccptoI rcvclaton) atthcsamc tmc thconlyonc that
ocs not know thc ncxprcssblc. Ior t s addrcsscd n namc and
cxprcsscstsclIas rcvclaton. ln ths, howcvcr, notcc sgvcn that
onlythchghcstmcntal bcng, astappcarsnrclgon,rcsusolcly
on manandonthclanguagc nhm, whcrca all art, notcxcludng
on languagc-mnd conbncd to thngs, cvcn I n consummatc
bcauty. "Language, the mothe oIrcasonand revelation, tsalpha and
omcga`, says Hamann.
languagc tsclIsnot pcrIcctly cxprcsscd n thngs thcmsclvcs.
Ths proposton has a doublc mcanng n ts mctaphorcal and
ltcral scnscs . thc languagcs oIthngs arc mpcrIcct, and thcy arc
dumb. Thngs arc dcncd thc purcIormal prncplc oIlanguagc
or lcss matcral communty. Ths communty s mmcdatc and
nbntc, lkc cvcry lngustc communcaton, t is magcal Ior
thcrc s also a magc oI mattcr) . Thc ncomparablc Icaturc oI
human languagc s that ts magcal communty wth thngs s
mmatcral and purcly mcntal, and thc symbol oI ths s sound.
hsbrcathntoman. thss atoncclIc and mnd and languagc.
lI n what Iollows thc naturc oI languagc s consdcrcd on
thcbassoIthchrstchaptcroIGcncss, thcobjcctsncthcrbblcal
ntcrprctaton, nor subjccton oIthc Bblc to objcctvc consdcra-
ton a rcvcalcd truth, but thc dscovcry oIwhat cmcrgc oItsclI
Irom thc bblcal tcxt wth rcgard to thc naturc oI languagc, and
thcblcsonlyinitially ndspcnsablcIorthspurposc bccausc thc
prcscnt argumcnt broadlyIollows t n prcsupposng languagc as
an ultmatc rcalty, pcrccptblc only n ts manIcstaton, n-
cxplcablc and mystcal. ThcBblc, n rcgardng tsclIa a rcvcla-
ton, must ncccssarly cvolvc thc Iundamcntal lngustcIacts. Thc
sccond vcrson oI thc story oI thc Crcaton, whch tclls oI thc
brcathng oI God's brcath nto man, also rcports that man was
madc Irom carth. Ths s, n thc wholc story oIthc Crcaton, thc
only rcIcrcncc to thc matcral n whch thc Crcator cxprcsscs hs
wll, whch s doubtlcs othcrwsc thought oIas crcaton wthout
ddnottakcplaccthroughthcword. Godspokcandthcrcwas
but ths man, who s not crcatcd Irom thc word, s now nvcstcd
wththcgift oIlanguagc ands 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 in cntircly dicrcnt 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'Hcmadccnvisagcs
a crcation outoImatcrial must hcrc b lcIt opcn, but thc rhythm
by which thc crcationoInaturc in Gcncsis t) is accomplishcdis .
Lct thcrc bcHcmadc crcatcd) Hc namcd. ln individual acts
oIcrcation i . , t.ti ) onlythcwords 'Lctthcrcbcoccur. lnthis
'Lct thcrc bc and in thc words 'Hc namcd at thc bcginning
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 s 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
naturchasgivcnwaytoancntirclydicrcntordcr. lnit,thcrcIorc,
languagc ha a dicrcnt mcaning. thc trinity oIthc act s hcrc
prcscrvcd, but in this vcry parallclism thc divcrgcncc is all thc
morc striking. in thc thrccIold 'Hccrcatcd oI . 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
I I 6
rclcvcd oI ts dvnc actualty, bccamc knowlcdgc. Man s thc
knowcrnthcsamclanguagcnwhchGodscrcator. Gocrcatcd
nccds cxplanaton. Hs mcntal bcng is thc languagc n whch
crcaton took placc. In thc word crcaton took placc, and God's
lngustcbcngsthcword.Allhuman languagc s onlyrcccton
to crcaton. Thc nbnty oI all human languagc always rcmans
lmtcd and analytcal n naturc n comparson to thc absolutcly
unlmtcdandcrcatvc nbnty oIthcdvncword.
Thc dccpcst magcs oIths dvnc word and thc pont whcrc
oIthcpurcword,thcpontatwhcht cannot bccomchntcword
andknowlcdgc, arcthc human namc. ThcthcoryoIpropcrnamcs
sthcthcoryoIthcIrontcrbctwccnhntcandnhntclanguagc. I
alI bcngs mans thc only onc who hmsclInamcshs own knd, as
hc sthc only oncwhomGoddnotnamc. Itspcrhap bold, but
scarccly mpossblc, to mcnton thc sccond part oIz . zo n ths
contcxt . that man namcd all bcngs, "bu Ior man thcrc was not
Iound a hclpcrht Ior hm. "Accordngly, Adam namc hs wIc as
soon as hc rcccvcs hcr womann thc sccond chaptcr, Lvcn thc
thrd) . Bygvngnamcs,parcnudcdcatcthcrchldrcntoGod,thc
logcalscnscto anyknowlcdgc,Ior thcynamcncwbonchldrcn.
Inastrctscnsc, no namc ought n ts ctymologcal mcanng) to
corrcspond to any pcrson, Ior thcpropcrnamcs thcwordoIGo
n human sounds. By t cach man s guarantccd his crcaton by
God, and n ths scns hc s hmsclI crcatvc, as s cxprcsscd by
mythologcalwsdomnthcdca whchdoubtlcss notnIrcqucntly
comctruc) thata man`snamcs hisIatc. Thc propcr namcs thc
communonoImanwththccreativ wordoIGod. Notthconlyonc,
howcvcr , man knowsa Iurthcr lngustc communon wth God's
word. )ThroughthcwordmansboundtothclanguagcoIthngs.
Thc human word s thc namc oIthngs. Hcncc t s no longcr
conccvablc, as thc bourgcos vcw oIlanguagc mantans, that
On Language as Such and on the Language ofMan 1 1
tbc word bas an accdcntal rclaton to ts objcct, tbat t s a sgn
Ior tbngs or knowlcdgc oI tbcm) agrccd by somc convcnton.
Languagc ncvcr gvc mere sgns. Howcvcr, tbc rcjccton oIbour-
gcos by mystcal lngustc tbcory cqually rcsts on a msundcr-
standng. Ioraccordng to mystcal tbcory tbcwords smply tbc
csscncc oItbc tbng. Tbat is ncorrcct, bccausc tbc tbng n tsclI
bas no word, bcng crcatcd Irom God's word and known n ts
namc bya bumanword. Tbs knowlcdgcoItbc tbng, bowcvcr,s
notspontancouscrcaton, tdocs notcmcrgcIromlanguagcn tbc
absolutcly unlmtcd and nhntc manncr oIcrcaton, ratbcr, tbc
namc tbat man gvcs to languagc dcpcnds on bow languagc s
communcatcdto bm. InnamctbcwordoIGobasnotrcmancd
crcatvc, t bas bccomc n onc part rcccptvc, cvcnIrcccptvc to
languagc. Tbus Icrtlzcd, t ams to gvc brtb to tbc languagc oI
tbngs tbcmsclvcs, Irom wbcb n turn, soundlcssly, n tbc mutc
magcoInaturc, tbcwordoIGodsbncsIortb.
Ior conccpton and spontancty togctbcr, wbcb arc Iound n
tbs unquc unon only n tbc lngustc rcalm, languagc bas ts
ownword, andtbsword applc als totbatconccptonwbcbs
cnactcd by tbc namclcs n namcs. It s tbc translaton oI tbc
languagc oItbngs nto tbat oIman. Its ncccssary to Iound tbc
conccpt oItranslaton at tbc dccpcst lcvcloIlngustc tbcory, Ior
t s mucb to Iar-rcacbngand powcrIul to b trcatcd n anywa
as an aIcrtbougbt, as bas bappcncd occasonally. Translaton
attans ts Iull mcanng n tbc rcalzaton tbat cvcry cvolvcd
languagc wtb tbccxccptonoItbcwordoIGod)canbconsdcrcd
asatranslatonoIalltbcotbcrs. Bytbcrclaton, mcntoncd carlcr,
oIlanguagcs as bctwccn mcda oIvaryng dcnstcs, tbc translat-
ablty oIlanguagcnto onc anotbcrs cstablsbcd. Translatons
rcmoval Irom onc languagc nto anotbcrtbrougba contnuum oI
transIormatons. Translaton passcs tbrougb contnua oI trans-
Iormaton, notabstract arcasoIdcntty andsmlarty.
Tbc translaton oI tbc languagc oItbngs nto tbat oIman s
not only a translaton oI tbc mutc nto tbc sonc, t s als tbc
translatonoItbcnamclcsntonamc. ItstbcrcIorctbctranslaton
oIanmpcrIcctlanguagc ntoa morc pcrIcct onc, and cannot but
l IB
add somcthng to t, namcly knowlcdgc. Thc objcctvty oI ths
translaton s, howcvcr, guarantccd by God. lor Go crcatcd
thngs ,thccrcatvcwordnthcmsthcgcrmoIthccognzngnamc,
justasGod,too,hnallynamcdcach thngaItcrtwascrcatcd. But
obvously ths namng s only an cxprcsson oIthc dcntty oIthc
crcatvcword and thccognzngnamc n God, not thc pror solu-
tonoIthc task that Gocxprcsslyassgnsto manhmsclI. thatoI
namng thngs. ln rcccvng thc unspokcn namclcs languagc oI
thngs and convcrtng t by namc nto sounds, man pcrIorms ths
task. ltwouldbnsolublcwcrcnotthcnamc-languagcoImanand
thc namclcs onc oIthngs rclatcd n Go and rclcascd Irom thc
samc crcatvc word, whch n thngs bccamc thc communcaton
oI mattcr n magc communon, and n man thc languagc oI
knowlcdgc andnamcnblssIul mnd. Hamannsays . 'Lvcrythng
that man hcard n thc bcgnnng, saw wth hs cycs, and Iclt wth
hs hands was thc lvng word, Ior Go wa thc word. Wth ths
word n hs mouth and n hs hcart, thc orgn oIlanguagc was as
natural, as closc, and a casy as a chld's gamc. . . . " lrcdrch
hasGodsummonmantonamc-gvngnthcscwords . 'ManoIthc
thc word. " By ths combnaton oIcontcmplaton and namng s
mplcd thc communcatng mutcncs oIthngs anmals) toward
thc word languagc oIman, whch rcccvc thcm n namc. ln thc
samc chaptcroIthc pocm, thc poct cxprcssc thc rcalzaton that
onlythcwordIromwhchthngsarccrcatcdpcrmtsmanto namc
thcm, by communcatng tsclIn thc manIold languagc oIan-
mals, cvcnImutcly, n thc magc. God gvcs cach bcasti tuna
sgn, whcrcupon thcy stcpbcIorc man to bc namcd. lnan almost
sublmcway thclngustccommuntyoImutccrcatonwth Go
s thusconvcycdnthcmagc oIthc sgn.
^ thc unspokcn word n thc cxstcncc oIthngs Ialls nhntcly
ntun mustIallshortoIthc crcatvcwordoIGod, thcns rcason
Ior thc multplcty oIhuman languagcs. Thc languagc oIthngs
can pas nto 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|ydierentiatedin the
mu|tip|icity of|anguage, wa indeed forced to dierentiate 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
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
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
tion and e|evation, to which the pratt|ing man, the sinner, was
thereforesubmitted. udgment.Admitted|y,theudgingwordhas
direct know|edge ofgood andevi|. Itsmagicis dierentfrom that
ofname, but equa||y magica|. Thisudging word expe|s the hrst
human bcngs Irom paradsc, thcy thcmsclvcs havc arouscd t n
accordancc wth thcmmutablc law bywhch thsjudgng word
gult. ln thc Iall, sncc thcctcrnal purtyoInamc wa volatcd,
thc stcrncr purty oIthc judgng word arosc. Ior thc csscntal
composton oI languagc thc Iall has a thrccIold sgnhcancc
wthout mcntonngtsothcrmcanngs) . lnstcppngoutsdc thc
purcrlanguagc oInamc, man makcs languagca mcans thats, a
knowlcdgc nappropratc to hIm) , and thcrcIorc also, m onc part
at any ratc, a Htt sgn, and ths latcr rcsults n thc pluralty oI
languagcs. Thc sccondmcanngs thatIrom thc Iall, n cxchangc
Ior thcmmcdaoInamcdamagcdbyt,ancwmmcdacyarscs,
thc magc oIjudgmcnt, whch no longcr rcsts blssIully n tscl
Thc thrd mcanng that can pcrhaps bc tcntatvcly vcnturcd s
that thc orgn oIabstracton, too, a a IacultyoIlanguagc-mnd,
s to bc soughtn thc Iall. Iorgoo and cvl, bcng unnamablc,
namclcss, standoutsdcthclanguagcoInamcs, whchmanlcavcs
bchnd prccscly n thc abyss opcncd by ths qucston. Namc,
howcvcr, wth rcgardtocxstng languagc, ocrs onlythcground
n whch ts concrctc clcmcnts arc rootcd. But thc abstract clc-
mcnts oI languagcwc may pcrhap surmscarc rootcd n thc
word oI judgmcnt. Thc mmcdacy whch, howcvcr, s thc
lngustc root) oI thc communcablty oIabstracton rcsdc n
judgmcnt. Ths mmcdacy n thc communcaton oIabstracton
camc nto bcng asjudgmcnt, whcn, n thc Iall, man abandoncd
mmcdacy n thc communcaton oIthc concrctc, namc, and Icll
as mcans, oI thc cmpty word, nto thc abys oIprattlc. Iort
mustb sad aganthc qucstonas togooandcvl n thcworld
\ aItcr crcaton was cmpty prattlc. Thc trcc oIknowlcdgc dd not
stand n thc gardcn oIGod n ordcr to dspcnsc nIormaton on
gooand cvl, butasan cmblcm oIjudgmcntovcr thcqucstoncr.
Thsmmcnscronymarks thcmythcalorgnoIlaw.
AIcr thc Iall, whch, n makng languagc mcdatc, lad thc
Ioundaton Ioritsmultplcty, tcouldbconlyastcptolngustc
conIuson. Sncc mcn had njurcd thcpurtyoInamc, thc turnng
On Language as Such and on the Language ofMan 121
away Irom that contcmplaton oIthngs n whch thcr languagc
passc nto man nccdcd only to b complctcd n ordcrto dcprvc
mcn oIthc common Ioundaton oI an alrcady shakcn languagc-
mnd. Sign must bccomc conIuscd whcrc thngs arc cntanglcd.
Thc cnslavcmcnt oIlanguagc n prattlc sjoncd by thc cnslavc-
mcntoIthngsnIolly almostastsncvtablcconscqucncc. lnths
turnng away Irom thngs, whch was cnslavcmcnt, thc plan Ior
Thc lIc oIman n purc langua,c-mnd was blssIul. Naturc,
howcvcr, L mutc. Truc, tcan bcclcarly Icltnthcsccondchaptcr
oIGcncss how ths mutcncss, namcd by man, tsclIbccamc blss,
thatlcavchmaItcr hc hanamcdthcm, 'Andsawbythcnoblty
a namc. " Alcr thc lall, howcvcr, whcn God`s word cursc thc
ground, thc appcarancc oInaturc s dccply changcd. Now bcgns
ts othcr mutcncss, whch wc mcan bythc dccpsadncsoInaturc.
lt s a mctaphyscal trutb that all naturc would bcgnto lamcnt
I t wcrc cndowcd wth languagc. Though to 'cndow wth
languagc"smorcthanto 'makcablctospcak`. ) Thsproposton
hasa doublc mcanng. lt mcans, brst . shc wouldlamcntlanguagc
tscll. Spccchlcssncss . that s thc grcat sorrow oInaturc and Ior
thc sakc oIhcrrcdcmptonthclIc and languagc oImaanotonly,
asssupposcd,oIthcpoctarcnnaturc) . Thspropostonmcans,
sccondly. shc would lamcnt. lamcnt, howcvcr, s thc most
undcrcntatcd, mpotcnt cxprcsson oI languagc, t contans
scarccly morc than thc scnsuous brcath, and cvcnwhcrc thcrcs
onlya rustlngoIplants, nt thcrcsalwaysalamcnt.Bccauscshc
L mutc, naturc mourns. Yct thc nvcrsonoIthsproposton lcads
hcr mutc. ln all mournng thcrc L thc dccpcst nclnaton to
spccchlcssncss, whch s nbntcly morc than nablty or dsncl-
natonto communcatc. ThatwhchmournsIcclstsclIthotoughly
knownbythcunknowablc.Tob namcdcvcnwhcnthcnamcrs
Godlkc and blssIulpcrhaps always rcmans an ntmaton oI
mournng. Buthow muchmorcmclancholyto b namcdnotIrom
tbc onc blcsscd, paradsac languagc oI namcs, but Irom tbc
hundrcd languagcoIman, n wbcb namc bas alrcady wtbcrcd,
yct wbcb, accordng to God's pronounccmcnt, bavc knowlcdgc
oItbngs. Tbngs bavc nopropcrnamcs cxccpt n God. Ior n bs
crcatvc word, God callcd tbcm nto bcng, callng tbcm by tbcr
propcr namcs. ln tbc languagc oI mcn, bowcvcr, tbcy arc ovcr-
namcd. Tbcrc s, n tbc rclaton oI buman languagc to tbat oI
tbns, omctbng tbt can bc approxmacly ccrbcd '


nammg ' . ovcr-nammg tbc dccpcst hngustc rcason Ior all


ncboly and Irom tbc pont oIvcw oItbc tbng) oIall dcl-
i bcratcmutcncss. vcrnamng tbclngustcbcngoImclancboly
ponts to anotbcr curous rclaton oIlanguagc. tbc ovcrprccson
tbat obtans n tbc tragc rclatonsbp bctwccn tbc languagc oI
buman spcakcrs.
Tbcrcsa languagc oIsculpturc, oIpantng, oIpoctry.just
tbclanguagcoIpoctryspartly, Inotsolcly, Ioundcdon tbc namc
languagc oIman, tsvcry conccvablc tbat tbclanguagcoIsculp-
turc or pantng L Ioundcd on ccrtan knds oItbng languagcs,
tbatn tbcmwcbnda translatonoItbclanguagcoItbngs ntoan
nhntcly bgbcr languagc, wbcb may stll b oItbc samc spbcrc.
Wc arc conccrncd bcrc wtb namclcss, nonacoustc languagcs,
languagc ssungIrom mattcr, bcrc wc sbould rccall tbc matcral
Morcovcr, tbc communcatonoItbngs L ccrtanly communal
nawaytbatgrasptbcworld sucb anundvdcdwbolc.
Ior an undcrstandngoIartstc Iorms t L oIvaluctoattcmpt
tograsp tbcm all languagcs and to scck tbcrconnccton wtb
natural languagcs. A cxamplc tbat L appropratc bccaus t s
dcrvcd Irom tbc acoustc spbcrc s tbc knsbpbctwccnsongand
tbc languagc oIbrds. n tbc otbcr band, t L ccrtan tbat tbc
languagcoIartcanb undcrstoodonlym tbcdccpcstrclatonsbp
rcmans cntrcly Iragmcntary, bccausc tbc rclatonsbp bctwccn
languagc and sgn oIwbcb tbat bctwccn buman languagc and
wrtng ocn only a vcry partcular cxamplc) L orgnal and
On Language as Such and on the Language ofMan 123
Ths provdc an opportunty to dcscrbc anothcr antthcss
that pcrmcatcs thc whoIc sphcrc oIIanguagc and has mportant
rcIatonsto thc antthcss aIrcady mcntoncdbctwccnIanguagcn
a narrowcr scnsc and sgns, wth whch, oIcoursc, Ianguagc by no
mcansncccssarIyconcdcs. lor Ianguagcs n cvcry cas notonIy
communcatonoIthc communcabIc butaIso, at thcsamc tmc, a
symboI oIthc noncommuncabIc. Ths symboIc sdc oIIanguagc
s conncctcd to ts rcIaton to sgns, but cxtcnds morc wdcIy, Ior
cxampIc, n ccrtan rcspccts, to namc andjudgmcnt. Thcs havc
not onIy a communcatng Iuncton, but most probabIy aIso a
cIoscIy conncctcd symboIc Iuncton, to whch, at Icast cxpIctIy,
no rcIcrcncc has hcrc bccn madc.
Thcsc consdcratom thcrcIorc Icavc M a purhcd conccpt oI
Ianguagc, cvcn though t may stII bc an mpcrIcct onc. Thc

gc oI cntty s thc mcdum n whch ts mcntaI bcng s

communcatcd. Thc unntcrruptcd ow oI ths communcaton
tomanandIrom mantoGod. Man communcatc hmscIItoGo
through namc, whch hc gvctonaturc and npropcrnamcs) to
hs own knd, and to naturc hc gvcs namc accordng to thc
communcatonthathc rcccvc Irom hcr, IorthcwhoIcoInaturc,
too, s mbucd wth a namcIcss, unspokcn Ianguagc, thc rcsduc
oIthc crcatvc word oIGod, whch s prcscrvcd n man as thc
cognzng namc and abovc man as thcjudgmcnt suspcndcd ovcr
hm. Thc Ianguagc oInaturc s comparabIc to a sccrct password
that cach scntry passc to thc ncxt n hs own Ianguagc, but thc
mcanngoIthcpassword s thc scntry`s Ianguagc tscI AII hghcr
Ianguagc s a transIaton oIthosc Iowcr, untI n uItmatc cIarty
thcwordoIGodunIoIds,whchs thcunqoIthsmovcmcntmadc
up oIIanguagc.
Fate and Character
Iatc and charactcr arc commonly rcgardcd as causally con-
ncctcd, charactcr bcng thc causc oI Iatc. Thc dca undcrlyng
thssthcIollowng. Ion thconc hand, thc charactcr oIa pcrson,
thc way n whch hc rcacts, wcrc known n all ts dctals, and I
on thc othcr, all thc cvcnu n thc arcas cntcrcd by that charactcr
wcrc known, both whatwouldhappcntohm andwhat hcwould
accomplsh could b cxactly prcdctcd. That s, his Iatc would bc
known. Contcmporary dcas do not pcrmt mmcdatc logcal
acccs to thc dca oIIatc, and thcrcIorc modcn mcn acccpt thc
dcaoIrcadng charactcrIrom, Ior cxamplc, thc physcal Icaturcs
oI a pcrson, bndng knowlcdgc oI charactcr as such somchow
gcncrally prcscnt wthn thcmsclvcs, whcrca thc notion oI
analogouslyrcadngapcrson'sIatc Iromthclncnhis handsccms
Ior undcr ths catcgory thc Iorctcllng oIIatc s unccrcmonously
subsumcd, whlc charactcr appcars as somcthng cxstng n thc
prcscnt and thc past and thcrcIorc a pcrccptblc. lt s, howcvcr,
prccscly thc contcntonoIthosc who proIcs toprcdct mcn`sIatc
Irom no mattcr what sgns, that Ior thosc ablc to pcrccvc t who
hnd an mmcdatc knowlcdgc oIIatc as such n thcmsclvcs) t s
n somc way prcscnt, or morc cautously statcd, acccssblc. Thc
supposton that somc 'acccssblty" oIIuturc Iatc contradcts
ncthcr that conccpt tsclInor thc human powcrs oIpcrccpton
prcdctngt s not, as can b shown, nonscnscal. lkc charactcr,
Iatc, too, can b apprchcndcdonlythroughsgns, not n tsc|I, Ior
Fate and Character 125
cvcnIthsorthatcharactcr trat, thsorthatlnkoIIatc,sdrcctly
n vcw, t s ncvcrthclcs a rclatonshp that s mcant by thcsc
conccpts, ncvcr acccssblc cxccpt through sgns bccausc t s
stuatcd abovc thc mmcdatcly vsblc lcvcl. Thc systcm oI
charactcrologcal sgns s gcncrally conhncd to thc body, I wc
dsrcgard thc charactcrologcal sgnhcancc oI thosc sgns n-
vcstgatcdbythchoroscopc,whcrcasnthctradtonalvcwall thc
phcnomcnaoIcxtcrnallIc,naddtonto bodlyoncs, canbccomc
sgns oI Iatc. Howcvcr, thc connccton bctwccn thc sgn and thc
sgnhcd consttutc n both sphcrc an cqually hcrmctc and
dmcult problcm, though dcrcnt n othcr rcspccts, bccausc
dcsptc all thc supcrhcal obscrvaton and Ialsc hypostaszng oI
thc sgns, thcy do not n cthcr systcm sgn[ charactcror Iatc on
thc bass oIcausal conncctons. A ncxus oImcanng can ncvcr bc
Ioundcd causally, cvcn though n thc prcscnt casc thc cxstcncc
oIsgns Ior charactcr and Iatc s lkc, but mcrcly wth what t
Itcmcrgcs thatthc tradtonal conccpton oIthcnaturc and thc
rclatonshp oIcharactcr and Iatc not only rcmans problcmatc
nsoIar a t s ncapablc oImakng thc possblty oIa prcdcton
oIIatc ratonally comprchcnsblc, but that t s Ialsc, bccausc thc
dstncton on whch t rcsts s thcorctcally untcnablc. lor t s
actvc human bcng thccorcoIwhomL takcnto b charactcr. No
dchntonoIthc cxtcrnal world candsrcgard thc lmu sct by thc
conccptoIthcactvcman. Bctwccnthcactvcmanandthccxtcrnal
world all s ntcracton, thcr sphcrc oIacton ntcrpcnctratc, no
mattcr how dcrcnt thcr conccptons may bc, thcr conccpts arc
nscparablc. Not only s t mpossblc to dctcrmnc n a snglc
casc what hnally s to bc consdcrcd a Iuncton oIcharactcr and
what a Iuncton oI Iatc n a human lIc ths would makc no
dcrcncchcrcIthc two onlymcrgcdncxpcrcncc) , thc cxtcrnal
world that thc actvc man cncountcrs can also n prncplc bc
rcduccd, to any dcsrcd dcgrcc, to his nncr world, and hs nncr

world smlarly tohs outcr world, ndccd rcgardcd n prncplc
a onc and thc samc thng. Consdcrcd n this way charactcr and
Iatc,IarIrombcngthcorctcallydstnct,concdc. Suchsthccasc
whcnNctzschcsays, 'lIamanhacharactcr,hchaancxpcrcncc
that constantly rccurs. " That mcans. ua man has charactcr hs
Iatc s csscntally constant. Admttcdly, t also mcans . hc has no
Iatcaconclusondrawnby thc Stocs.
lIaconccptoIIatcstobattancd, thcrcIorc, tmustb clcarly
dstngushcd Irom that oI charactcr, whch n tun cannot bc
achcvcd untl thc lattcr ha bccn morc cxactly dchncd. n thc
bass oI ths dchnton thc two conccpu wll bccomc wholly
dvcrgcnt , whcrc thcrc s charactcr thcrc wll, wth ccrtanty, not
bc Iatc, and n thc arca oIIatc charactcr wll not bc Iound. ln
addton carc must bc takcn toassgn both conccpts to sphcrc n
whchthcydonot, ahappcnsncommonspccch,usurpthcrankoI
hghcr sphcrcandconccpts. Ior charactcrs usually placcdnan
cthcal,Iatcnarclgouscontcxt.WcmustbanshthcmIrom both
rcgons by rcvcalng thc crror by whch thcy wcrc placcd thcrc.
Thscrrorscauscd,arcgardsthcconccptoII atc,throughassoca-
ton wth that oI gult. Thus, to mcnton a typcal casc, Iatc-
mposcdmsIortuncs sccna thc rcsponscoIGoorthcgodstoa
rclgousocncc.Doubtsconccrnngthsarcarouscd, howcvcr,by
thc abscncc oI any corrcspondng rclaton oI thc conccpt oIIatc
to thc conccpt that ncccssarly accompanc that oI gult n thc
cthcal sphcrc, namcly that oInnoccncc. ln thc Grcck classcal
dcvclopmcntoIthcdcaoIIatc, thc happncsgrantcd toa mans
by no mcans undcrstoo a conhrmaton oIan nnoccnt conduct
oIlIc, but a a tcmptaton to thc most grcvous ocncc, hubris.
Thcrc s, thcrcIorc, no rclaton oI Iatc to nnoccncc. And-ths
qucston strkc cvcn dccpcrha Iatc any rcIcrcncc to good
Iortunc, to happncss? ls happncss, as msIortunc doubtlcs s, an
ntrnsc catcgory oIIatc? Happncs s, rathcr, what rclcasc thc
oI hs own Iatc. Holdcrln doc not Ior nothng call thc blssIul
gods 'Iatclcss`. Happncsand blssarc thcrcIorc no morc part oI
thc sphcrcoIIatc thansnnoccncc. Butanordcrthcsolc ntrnsc
Fate and Character 1 27
conccptsoIwhcharcmsIortuncandgult, andwthnwhchthcrc
snoconccvablcpathoIlbcraton IornsoIarasomcthngsIatc,
t s msIortunc and gult) such an ordcrcannot b rclgous, no
mattcr how thc msundcrstoo conccpt oIgultappcan t suggcst
thc contrary. Anothcr sphcrc must thcrcIorc b sought n whch
msIortunc and gult alonccarrywcght, a balancconwhch blss
and nnoccnccarcIound tolghtand oatupward. Ths balancc
s thc scalc oIlaw. Thc laws oIIatcmsIortunc and gult-arc
clcvatcd by law to mcasurc oI thc pcrson, t would b Ialsc to
assumc that only gult s prcscnt n a lcgal contcxt, t is dcmon-
strablc that aIl lcgal gult s nothng othcr than msIortunc.
Mstakcnly, through conIusngtscIIwth thcrcalmoI justcc, thc
ordcr oI law, whch s only a rcsduc oI thc dcmonc stagc oI
human cxstcncc whcn lcgal statutc dctcrmncd not only mcn`s
longpastthctmcoIthcvctoryovcrthcdcmons. ltwanotnlaw
but ntragcdythatthc hcadoIgcnus lItcd tsclIIor thcbrsttmc
IromthcmstoIgult, Ior ntragcdydcmoncIatc sbrcachcd. But
not by havng thc cndlcs pagan chan oI gult and atoncmcnt
supcrscdcdbythcpurtyoImanwhohacxpatcdands wth thc
purcgod. Rathcr, n tragcdypaganmanbccomcsawarcthat hc s
bcttcr than hs god, but thc rcalzaton robs hm oI spccch,
rcmans unspokcn. Wthout dcclarng tsclJ t sccks sccrctly to
gathcr ts Iorccs. Gult and atoncmcnt t docs notmcasurcjustly
n thc balancc, but mxcs ndscrmnatcly. Thcrc s no qucston
stll dumb, not yct oIagcas such hc s callcd a hcrowshc to
raschmsclIbyshakngthattormcntcdworld. ThcparadoxoIthc
brth oI gcnus m moral spccchlcssncss, moral nIantlty, s thc
sublmty oItragcdy. lt s probably thc bass oIall sublmty, n
whch gcnus, rathcr than God, appcars. Iatcshows tsclJ thcrc-
Iorc, n thc vcwoIlIc, a condcmncd, as havng, at bottom, hrst
bccn condcmncd and thcn bccomc gulty. Gocthc summarzcs
bothphrascn thcwords 'Thcpoormanyou lctbccomcgulty. "
law condcmns, not to punshmcnt but to gult. Iatc s thc gult

I thc lvng. lt corrcsponds to thc natural condton

oI thc lvng, that lluson not yct wholly dspcllrd Irom whch
man s m Iar rcmovcd that, undcr ts rulc, hc was ncvcr wholly
mmcrscdnt,butonlynvsblcnhsbcstpart. ItsnotthcrcIorc
rcallymanwhohasaIatc, rathcr, thcsubjcctoIIatc isndctcrmn-
ablc. Thc judgc can pcrccvc Iatc whcrcvcr hc plcascs, wth
cvcry judgmcnt hc must blndly dctatc Iatc. It s ncvcr man
gult and msIortunc by vrtuc oIlluson. In thc manncr oIIatc,
this lIc canb couplcd to cardsas to plancts, and thc cIarvoyantc
makcs usc oIthc smplc tcchnquc oIplacng t n thc contcxt oI
gult by mcans oI thc brst calculablc, dchntc thngs that comc to
hand thng unchastcly prcgnant wth ccrtanty) . Thcrcby shc
dscovcrs n sgns somcthng about a natural lIc n man that shc
sccks to substtutc Ior thc hcad oIgcnus mcntoncd carlcr , as,
on hs sdc, thc man who vsts hcr gvcs way to thc gulty lIc
wthnhmsclI Thcgultcontcxtstcmporalnatotallynauthcntc
oItmc n Iatc dcpcnds thc complctc clucdatonoIthcsc mattcrs.
Thc Iortunc-tcllcrwhouscscardsand thc palmsttcach us at lcast
not prcscnt) . It s not an autonomous tmc, but s parastcally
dcpcndcnt on thc tmc oI a hghcr, lcs natural lIc. It has no
prcscnt, IorIatcIulmomcntscxstonly n bad novcls, and past and
Iuturc t knows only n curous varatons.
Thcrc s thcrcIorc a conccpt oI Iatcand t s thc gcnunc
conccpt, thc only onc that cmbraccs cqually Iatc n tragcdy and
oIthatoIcharactcr, havng ts Ioundaton n ancntrcly dcrcnt
sphcrc. Thc conccpt oIcharactcr must b dcvclopcd to a smlar
lcvcl. It s no accdcnt that both ordcrs arc conncctcdwth ntcr-
prctatvc practcc and that n chromancy charactcr and Iatc
concdc authcntcally. Bothconccnthc natural manor, bcttcr,
thc naturc oIman, thc vcry bcng that makcs ts appcarancc n
sgns that cthcr occur spontancously or arc cxpcrmcntally
produccd. Thc Ioundaton oI thc conccpt oIcharactcr wll thcrc-
Fate and Character 129
Iorc nccd lkcwsc to b rclatcd to a natural sphcrc and tohavc no
morc to do wth cthcs or moralty thanIatc has wth rclgon. n
thc othcr hand, thc conccpt oIcharactcr wll havc to b dvcstcd
oIthosc Icaturcs that consttutcts crroncous conncction to thatoI
Iatc. Ths conncctons ccctcd by thc dcaoIa nctwork that can
charactcrappcarsto supcrbcal obscrvaton. Alongwththcbroad
undcrlyng trats, thc trancd cyc oI thc connosscur oI mcn s
supposcd to pcrccvc hncr and closcr conncctons, untl what
lookcd lkca ncts tghtcncdntocloth. Inthc thrcadsoIthswcIt
a wcak undcrstandng bclcvc t posscsscs thc moral naturc oIthc
But, as moral phlosophy is oblgcd to dcmonstratc, only actons
and ncvcrqualtcs can b oImoral mportancc. Appcaranccsarc
admttcdly to thc contrary. Not just 'thcvsh', 'cxtravagant',
'couragcous' sccmtomplymoral valuatons cvcn lcavngasdc
thc apparcnt moral coloraton oI thc conccpts) , but abovc all
words lkc 'sclI-sacrhcng', 'malcous', 'vcngcIul', 'cnvous'
sccm to ndcatc charactcr trats that cannot b abstractcd Irom
moral valuaton. Ncvcrthclcss, such abstracton s n all cascs not
only possblc but ncccssary n ordcr to grasp thc mcanng oIthc
conccpt. Ths abstracton must bc such that valuaton tsclI s
Iullyprcscrvcd, onlyts moral acccntswthdrawn,togvc way to
such condtonal cvaluatons, n cthcr a postvc or a ncgatvc
scnsc, as arc cxprcsscd by thc morally ndcrcnt dcscrptons oI
qualtcs oIthc ntcllcct such as 'clcvcr" or 'stupd') .
Thctrucsphcrc to whchthcscpscudo-moralcharactcrdcscrp-
tons arc to bc consgncds shownby comcdy. At ts ccntrc, a thc
man protagonstn a comcdy oIcharactcr, stands oItcn cnough a
pcrson whom, IwcwcrcconIrontcdbyhs actons inlIcnstcadoI
by hs pcrsononthcstagc,wcwouldcallascoundrcl. nthccomc
stagc, howcvcr, hs actons takcon only thcntcrcst shcd wth thc
lght oI charactcr, and thc lattcr s, n classcal cxamplcs, thc
subjcct not oImoral condcmnaton but oIhgh amuscmcnt. Its
ncvcr n thcmsclvcs, ncvcr morally, that thc actons oIthc comc
hcroaccths publc, hsdccdsarcntcrcstngonlynsoIaras thcy
rccct thc lght oIcharactcr. Morcovcr, onc notcs that thc grcat
comc playwrghtIor cxamplc, Molcrcdocs not scck to dchnc
hs crcatons by thc multplcty oIthcr charactcr trats. n thc
contrary, psychologcal analysis s dcncd any acccs to hs work.
lthasnothng to dowththcconccrnsoIpsychology Imscrlncss
orhypochondra,nL' avare orL malad imaginaire, archypostaszcd
as thc Ioundaton oIall acton. About hypochondra and mscr-
lncss thcsc dramas tcach nothng, Iar Irom makng thcm com-
prchcnsblc, thcy dcpct thcm wth an ntcnsIyng crassncss, I
thc objcct oI psychology s thc nncr lIc oI man undcrstood
cmprcally, Molcrc'scharactcrs arc oIno usc to t cvcn a mcans
oIdcmonstraton. CharactcrsunIoldcdn thcm lkca sun, nthc
brllancc oI ts snglc trat, whch allows no othcr to rcman
this anonymty oI man and hs moralty, alongsdc thc utmost
dcvclopmcnt oI ndvdualty through ts cxclusvc charactcr
trat. Whlc Iatc unIolds thc mmcnsc complcxty oI thc gulty
pcrson, thc complcatons and bonds oI hs gult, charactcr gvcs
this mystcal cnslavcmcnt oIthc pcrson to thc gult contcxt thc
answcr oIgcnus. Complcaton bccomcs smplcty, Iatc Irccdom.
Ior thc charactcr oIthc comc bgurc s not thc scarccrow oIthc
dctcrmnst , t s thc bcacon n whosc bcams thc Irccdom oIhs
lIc, oIorgnalgult,thcrrcdccmablc naturcoIwhchconsttutcs
thc doctrnc, and ts occasonal rcdcmpton thc cult, oIpagansm,
gcnus opposcs a vson oIthc natural nnoccncc oI man. Ths
vson rcmans Ior ts part lkcwsc n thc rcalm oI naturc, yct
moral nsghu arc stll at aproxmty to ts csscncc thats attancd
bythc opposcd dca onlyn thc Iorm oItragcdy, whch s not ts
onlyIorm. ThcvsonoIcharactcr,onthcothcrhand,slbcratng
n all ts Iorms . t is lnkcd to Irccdom, as cannot b shown hcrc,
bywayoIts amnty tologc. Thc charactcr trats not thcrcIorc
thc knot n thc nct. lt s thc sun oIndvdualty n thc colourlcss
anonymous) sky oIman, whch casu thc shadow oIthc comc
acton. Ths placc Cohcn`s proIound dctum that cvcry tragc
acton, howcvcr sublmcly t strdc upon ts 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
|ike comedy, wasamanifestationoftheneageofgenius. Modern
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
examp|e, that the doctrineoftemperaments triedtoidentify.
Critique of Violence
Thc task ola crtquc ol volcncc can bcsummarzcd that ol
cxpoundng ts rclaton to law andjustcc. Ior a causc, howcvcr
ccctvc, bccomcs volcnt, n thc prccsc scnsc olthc word, only
whcnt bcars on moralssucs. Thc sphcrc olthcscssucss dcbncd
bythcconccpts ollawandjustcc. Wthrcgardto thchrstolthcsc,
t sclcar that thc mostclcmcntary rclatonshp wthn any lcgal
systcmsthatolcndstomcans, and, lurthcr, thatvolcncccanbrst
b sought only n thc rcalm olmcans, notolcnds. Thcsc obscrva-
tons provdc a crtquc ol volcncc wth morcand ccrtanly
dcrcntprcmscs than pcrhaps appcars. Ior l volcncc s a
mcans, a crtcron lor crtczng t mght sccm mmcdatcly
avalablc. It mposc tsclln thc qucston whcthcr volcncc, n a
gvcn casc, s a mcans to ajust or an unjust cnd. A crtquc olt
would thcn b mplcd n a systcm oljust cnds. Ths, howcvcr, s
notso. Ior what such asystcm, assumngtto bcsccurcaganstall
doubt, would contan is not a crtcron lor volcncc tscll a
prncplc, but,rathcr, thccrtcronlor cascoltsusc. Thcqucston
would rcman opcn whcthcr volcncc, a prncplc, could b a
moral mcam cvcn to just cnds. To rcsolvc this qucston a morc
cxact crtcron s nccdcd, whch would dscrmnatc wthn thc
sphcrc ol mcans thcmsclvcs, wthout rcgard lor thc cnds thcy
Thc cxcluson olthis morc prccsc crtcal approach is pcrhaps
thc prcdomnant lcaturc ola man currcnt ollcgal phlosophy.
natural law. Itpcrccvcsn thc uscolvolcnt mcanst just cndsno
Critique i Violence 133
grcatcr problcm than a man scc n hs 'rght to movc hs body
n thc drccton oI a dcsrcd goal. Accordng to ths vcw Ior
whch thc tcrrorsm n thc Ircnch Rcvoluton provdcd dco-
logcal Ioundaton) , volcncc s a product oInaturc, a t wcrc a
raw matcral, thc usc oIwhch s n no way problcmatcal, unlcss
Iorcc s msuscd Ior unjust cnds. lI, accordng to thc thcory oI
statcoInatural law,pcoplcgvc up all thcrvolcnccIor thcsakc oI
thc statc, ths s donc on thc assumpton whch Spnoza, Ior
cxamplc, statcs cxplctly n hs Tractatu Theologico-Politicus) that
thcndvdual, bcIorc thc concluson oIths ratonal contract, has
de jure thc rght to usc at wll thc volcncc that s d fact at hs
dsposal. Pcrhap thcsc vcws havc bccn rcccntly rckndlcd by
arwn`s bology, whch, n a thoroughly dogmatc manncr,
rcgardsvolcnccas thconlyorgnal mcans, bcsdcsnaturalsclcc-
ton, appropratcto allthcvtalcndsoInaturc. Populararwns-
tc phlosophy has oItcn shown how short a stcp t s Irom ths
dogmaoInaturaI hstorytothcstlIcrudcroncoIlcgalphlosophy,
whch holds that thc volcncc that s, almost alonc, appropratc
to naturalcnds s thcrcby also lcgal.
Ths thcss oI natural law that rcgards volcncc as a natural
datum s damctrcally opposcd to that oI postvc law, whch
scc volcncc a a product oIhstory. lInatural law canjudgc all
cxstng law only n crtczng ts cnds, m postvc law canjudgc
all cvolvng law only n crtczng ts mcans. lIjustcc s thc
crtcron oI cnds, lcgalty s that oI mcans. Notwthstandng ths
antthcss, howcvcr, both schools mcct n thcr common basc
dogma. just cnds can b attancd by justbcd mcans, justhcd
mcans uscd Iorjust cnds. Natural law attcmpts, by thcjustncsoI
thc cnds, to 'justIy' thc mcans, postvc law to `guarantcc thc
justncss oI thc cnds through thcjusthcaton oI thc mcans. Ths
antnomywouldprovcnsolublc Ithccommondogmatcassump-
tonwcrc Ialsc, Ijustbcdmcanson thconc hand andjust cndson
thc othcr wcrc n rrcconclablc conct. No nsght nto ths
bccn brokcn, and mutuallyndcpcndcnt crtcra both oIjust cnds
andoIjusthcd mcans wcrc cstablshcd.
Thcrcalm oIcnds, and thcrcIorc also thc qucston oIa crtcron
oIjustncss, s cxcludcd Ior thc tmc bcngIrom ths study. lnstcad,
thc ccntral placc s gvcn to thc qucston oIthc justbcaton oI
ccrtan mcans that consttutc volcncc. Prncplcs oInatural law
cannot dccdc ths qucston, but can only lcad to bottomlcss
casustry. Ior Ipostvc law s blnd to thc absolutcncs oIcnds,
natural law s cqually so to thc contngcncy oI mcans. n thc
so-callcd sanctoncd volcncc, and unsanctoncd volcncc. IIthc
Iollowng consdcratons procccd Irom this t cannot, oIcoursc,
Ior thc lattcr n postvc law cannot conccn ts usc but only ts
cvaluaton. Thcqucstonthatconccrm us s, whatlght s thrown
on thc naturc oI volcncc by thc Iact that such a crtcron or
dstnctoncanbapplcdtotatall, or,nothcrwords,whatsthc
mcanng oI ths dstncton? That ths dstncton supplcd by
postvc law s mcanngIul, bascd on thc naturc oI volcncc, and
rrcplaccablc byanyothcr, wllsooncnough b shown, but at thc
samc tmc lght wll b shcd on thc sphcrc n whch alonc such a
dstncton canbc madc. Tosumup.Ithccrtcroncstablshcdby
postvc law to asscss thc lcgalty oIvolcncc can b analyscd wth
rcgard to ts mcanng, thcn thc sphcrc oIu applcaton must bc
crtczcd wth rcgard to ts valuc. Ior ths crtquc a standpont
b Iound. Thc cxtcnt to whch t can only b Iurnshcd by a
hstorco-phlosophcal vcwoIlawwll cmcrgc.
ThcmcanngoIthc dstncton bctwccn lcgtmatc and llcgt-
matcvolcncc s not mmcdatcly obvous. Thc msundcrstandng
n natural law by whch a dstncton s drawn bctwccn volcncc
uscd Ior just and unjust cnds must b cmphatcally rcjcctcd.
all volcncc a prooIoIts hstorcal orgn, whch undcr ccrtan
Critique o Violence 135
to ts cnds, a hypothctcal dstncton bctwccn knds oIvolcncc
must bc bascd on thc prcscncc or abscncc oIa gcncral hstorcal
may bc callcd natural cnds, thc othcr lcgal cnds. Thc dcrng
Iuncton oI volcncc, dcpcndng on whcthcr t scrvcs natural or
lcgal cnds, can b most clcarly traccd aganst a background oI
spccbc lcgal condtons. Ior thc sakc oIsmplcty, thc Iollowng
dscusson wll rclatc to contcmporary Luropcan condtons.
CharactcrstcoIthcsc, asIar as thcndvdualaslcgalsubjccts
conccrncd, s thc tcndcncy not to admt thc natural cnds oIsuch
ndvduals n all thosc cascs n whch such cnds could, n a gvcn
stuaton, bc uscIully pursucd by volcncc. This mcans . this lcgal
systcm trc to crcct, n all arcas whcrc ndvdual cnds could bc
uscIully pursucd by volcncc, lcgal cnds that can only bc rcalzcd
by lcgal powcr. lndccd, t strvcs tolmt by lcgal cnds cvcn thosc
arcas nwhch natural cnds arc admttcd n prncplc withnwdc
boundarcs, lkc that oIcducaton, as soon as thcsc natural cnds
arc pursucd wth an cxccssvc mcasurc oIvolcncc, as n thc laws
rclatngto thc lmu oIcducatonal authorty to punsh. ltcanbc
Iormulatcd as a gcncral maxm oIprcscnt-day Luropcan lcgsla-
ton thatall thc natural cndsoIndvdualsmustcolldc wth lcgal
cnds Ipursucd wth a grcatcr or lcsscr dcgrcc oIvolcncc. Thc
contradcton bctwccn ths and thc rght oIsclI-dcIcncc wll bc
rcsolvcdnwhatIollows.) Irom ths maxmtIollowsthatlawsccs
volcncc n thc hands oIndvduals as a dangcr undcrmnng thc
lcgal systcm. ^ a dangcr nullIyng lcgal cnds and thc lcgal
cxccutvc? Ccrtanly not , Ior thcn volcncc as such would not bc
condcmncd,butonlythatdrcctcd tollcgal cnds. ltwllbargucd
that a systcm oIlcgal cnds cannot bc mantancd Inatural cnds
arc anywhcrc stll pursucd volcntly. ln thc hrst placc, howcvcr,
thissamcrc dogma. To countcrt oncmght pcrhap consdcrthc
surprsng possblty that thc law's ntcrcst n a monopoly oI
volcncc vs--vs ndvduals s not cxplancd by thc ntcnton oI
prcscrvng lcgal cnds but, rathcr, by that oI prcscrvng thc law
' /
tsclI, thatvolcncc, whcnnotn thc handsoIthc law, thrcatcnst
thclaw.Thcsamcmayb morcdrastcallysuggcstcdIoncrcccts
howoItcnthchgurcoIthc 'grcat crmnal, howcvcrrcpcllcnths
cnds may havc bccn, has arouscd thc sccrct admraton oI thc
publc. Ths cannot rcsult Irom hs dccd, but only Irom thc
volcncc to whch t bcars wtncss. In this casc, thcrcIorc, thc
volcnccoIwhch prcscnt-day laws scckngn all arcas oIactvty
todcprvc thc ndvdual appcars rcally thrcatcnng, and arouscs
cvcn n dcIcat thc sympathy oI thc mass aganst law. By what
Iunctonvolcncc canwth rcasonsccmso thrcatcnngtolaw, and
bcsoIcarcdbyt,mustbccspccallycvdcntwhcrcts applcaton,
Thssabovcall thccascn thcclasstrugglc, n thcIorm oIthc
workcrs` guarantccd rght to strkc. rganzcd labour s, apart
Irom thc statc, probably today thc only lcgal subjcct cnttlcd to
cxcrcscvolcncc. Aganstthsvcw thcrcs ccrtanly thc objccton
that an omssonoIactons, a non-acton, whch astrkcrcally s,
cannot bc dcscrbcd a volcncc. Such a consdcraton doubtlcss
thswasnolongcravodablc.Buttstruthsnotuncondtonal, and
thcrcIorc not unrcstrctcd. Its truc thatthcomssonoIanacton,
or scrvcc, whcrc t amounts smply to a 'scvcrng oIrclatons',
can b an cntrcly non-volcnt, purc mcans. Andasn thcvcwoI
thc statc, or thc law, thc rght to strkc conccdcd to labour s
ccrtanly not a rght to cxcrcsc volcncc but, rathcr, to cscapc
Irom a volcncc ndrcctly cxcrcscd by thc cmploycr, strkcs
conIormng to ths may undoubtcdlyoccur Irom tmc to tmc and
nvolvc only a 'wthdrawal or 'cstrangcmcnt Irom thc cm-
ploycr.ThcmomcntoI volcncc,howcvcr,sncccssarlyntroduccd,
n thc Iorm oIcxtorton, nto such an omsson, It takcs placc n
thc contcxt oI a conscous rcadncs to rcsumc thc suspcndcd
acton undcr ccrtan crcumstancc that cthcr havc nothng
whatcvcr to do wth ths acton or only supcrhcally mod[ t.
labour, whchs opposcd to thatoIthc statc, thc rght to uscIorcc
Critique ofViolence 137
n attammg ccrtan cnds. Thc antthcss bctwccn thc two con-
ccptons cmcrgcs n all ts bttcrncs n Iacc oIa rcvolutonary
gcncral strkc. In ths, labour wll always appcal to ts rght to
strkc, and thc statc wll call ths appcal an abusc, sncc thc rght
to strkc was not 'so ntcndcd`, and takc cmcrgcncy mcasurcs.
lor thcstatc rctamthc rghttodcclarc thata smultancous uscoI
strkc nall ndustrcs s llcgal, sncc thc spcchcrcasonsIor strkc
admttcd by lcgslaton cannot bc prcvalcnt n cvcry workshop.
In ths dcrcncc oI ntcrprctaton s cxprcsscd thc objcctvc
a volcncc whosc cnds, as natural cnds, t somctmcsrcgards wth
ndcrcncc, but n a crss thc rcvolutonary gcncral strkc)
conIronu nmcally. lor, howcvcr paradoxcal ths may appcar
at hrst sght, cvcn conduct nvolvng thc cxcrcsc oIa rght can
ncvcrthclcss, undcrccrtancrcumstanccs, b dcscrbcd a volcnt.
Morc spccbcally, such conduct, whcn actvc, may b callcd
volcntIt cxcrcscsa rght nordcrtoovcrthrow thclcgalsystcm
that has conIcrrcd t , whcn passvc, t s ncvcrthclcss to b so
dcscrbcdItconsttutcscxtortonnthcscnsccxplancdabovc. It
thcrcIorc rcvcals anobjcctvc contradcton nthc lcgal stuaton,
butnotalogcalcontradctonn thclaw, Iundcrccrtancrcum-
stancc thclawmcctsthcstrkcrs,aspcrpctratorsoIvolcncc, wth
volcncc. lorna strkc thc statc Icars abovc all clsc that Iuncton
whch t s thc objcct oIths study to dcnt[ as thc only sccurc
Ioundaton oIts crtquc. lor I volcncc wcrc, as brst appcars,
t could IulhII ts cnd as prcdatoryvolcncc. Itwould b cntrcly
unsutablc as a bass Ior, or a modhcaton to, rclatvcly stablc
condtons. Thc strkc shows, howcvcr, thatt can b so, thatt s
ablc to Iound and mod[ lcgal condtons, howcvcr ocndcd thc
scnscoI j ustccmayhndtsclIthcrcby. Itwllbcobjcctcdthatsuch
a Iuncton oI volcncc s Iortutous and solatcd. Ths can bc
contradctonn thc lcgaI stuaton as docs thatoIstrkc law, that
s to say, on thc Iact that lcgal subjccts sancton volcncc whosc
cndsrcmanIor thc sanctoncrs natural cnds, and can thcrcIorc n
a crss comc nto conct wth thcr own lcgal or natural cnds.
Admttcdly, mltary volcncc s n thc brst placc uscd qutc
drcctly, a prcdatory volcncc, toward u cnds. Yct t s vcry
strkng that cvcnor, rathcr, prccsclyn prmtvc condtons
that know hardly thc bcgnnngs oIconsttutonal rclatons, and
cvcnn cascs whcrc thcvctorhas cstablshcd hmsclIn nvulncr-
ablc posscsson, a pcacc ccrcmony s cntrcly ncccssary. lndccd,
thcword 'pcacc', nthcscnsc nwhcht sthccorrclatvc to thc
word 'war" Ior thcrc s also a qutc dcrcnt mcanng, smlarly
unmctaphorcal and poltcal, thc onc uscd by Kant n talkng oI
'Ltcrnal Pcacc') , dcnotc ths a pror, ncccssary sanctonng,
rcgardlcs oI all othcr lcgal condtons, oI cvcry vctory. Ths
sancton conssts prccscly n rccognzng thc ncw condtons asa
ncw 'law', qutc rcgardlcs oI whcthcr thcy nccd d fact any
guarantcc oIthcr contnuaton. lI thcrcIorc, conclusons can bc
drawn Irom mltary volcncc, as bcng prmordal and paradg-
matc oIall volcncc uscd Ior natural cnds, thcrc s nhcrcntnall
suchvolcnccalaw-makngcharactcr. Wcshall rcturnlatcrto thc
mplcatons oI ths nsght. lt cxplans thc abovc-mcntoncd
tcndcncyoImodcnlawtodvcst thcndvdual, at lcastasa lcgal
subjcct, oI all volcncc, cvcn that drcctcd only to natural cnds.
oI dcclarng a ncw law, a thrcat that cvcn today, dcsptc ts
mpotcncc, n mportant nstanccs horrbc thc publc as t dd n
prmcval tmcs. Thc statc, howcvcr, Ican ths volcncc smply
Ior ts law-makng charactcr, bcng oblgcd to acknowlcdgc t as
law-makng whcncvcr cxtcrnal powcrs Iorcc t to conccdc thcm
thcrghtto conductwarIarc, and classcsthcrghttostrkc.
pont Ior a passonatc crtquc oI volcncc n gcncralwhch
taughtat lcastoncthng,thatvolcncc snolongcr cxcrcscd and
tolcratcd na:vclyncvcrthclcss, volcncc was not only subjcct to
crtcsm Ior ts law-makng charactcr, but was als judgcd,
pcrhaps morc annhlatngly, Ior anothcr oIu Iunctons. Ior a
dualty n thc Iuncton oIvolcncc s charactcrstc oI mltarsm,
Critique ojViolence 139
whch could only comc nto bcng through gcncral conscrpton.
Mltarsms thccompulsory, unvcrsal uscoIvolcncc aa mcans
bccnscrutnzcd ascloscly as, orstllmorccloscly than, thcuscoI
volcncctscII IntvolcnccshowstsclInaIunctonqutcdcrcnt
Irom u smplc applcaton Ior natural cnds. Itconssu n thc usc
oI volcncc a a mcans oI lcgal cnds. Ior thc subordnaton oI
ctzcns to lawsn thc prcscnt casc, to thc law oI gcncral con-
scrptonsa lcgal cnd. IIthat hrst Iuncton oIvolcncc s callcd
thc Iaw-makng Iuncton, ths sccond wll b callcd thc law-
prcscrvngIuncton. Sncc conscrpton sa cascoIlaw-prcscrvng
volcncc thats notn prncplc dstngushcd Irom othcrs, a rcalIy
ccctvc crtquc oIt s Iar lcss casy than thc dcclamatons oI
pachsts and actvsts suggcst. Rathcr, such a crtquc concdcs
wth thc crtquc oIall lcgal voIcnccthat s, wth thc crtquc
oIlcgalorcxccutvcIorccand cannot bc pcrIormcdbyanylcsscr
programmc. Nor, oIcourscunlcs onc s prcparcd to procIam
a qutc chldsh anarchsmst achcvcdby rcIusngtoacknow-
lcdgc anyconstrant toward pcrsons and dccIarng 'What pIcascs
s pcrmttcd`. Such a maxm mcrcly cxcludcs rcccton on thc
moral and hstorcal sphcrcs, and thcrcby on any mcanng n
acton, and bcyond ths on any mcanng n rcaIty tscll, whch
cannotbcconsttutcdI'acton'` srcmovcdIromtssphcrc. Morc
mportants thcIactthatcvcn thc appcaI,soIrcqucntlyattcmptcd,
to thc catcgorcal mpcratvc, wth ts doubtIcs ncontcstablc
mnmum programmcactnsuchawaythatataII tmcsyouusc
humanty both n your pcrson and n thc pcrson oIalI othcrs as
an cnd, and ncvcr mcrcly a a mcanss n tsclInadcquatc Ior
such a crtquc.* Ior postvc law, I conscous oI ts roots, wll
ccrtanIy clam toacknowlcdgc and promotc thc ntcrcst oIman-
knd n thc pcrson oIcach ndvdual. It scc ths ntcrcst n thc
rcprcscntaton and prcscrvaton oI an ordcr mposcd by Iatc.
Whlc ths vcw, whch clams to prcscrvc law n ts vcry bass,
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 crtcsm, ncvcrthclcs all attacks that arc madc
mcrclyn thcnamcoIaIormlcs 'Irccdom wthoutbcngablcto
spcc[ ths hghcr ordcr oIIrccdom, rcman mpotcnt aganst t.
And most mpotcnt oIall whcn, nstcad oIattackng thc lcgal
systcm root and branch, thcy npugn partcular laws or lcgal
practcc that thc law, oIcoursc, takcs undcr thc protccton oIts
powcr, whchrcsdcn thcIact thatthcrcsonlyonc Iatc andthat
what cxsts, and n partcular what thrcatcns, bclongs nvolably
tots ordcr. Iorlaw-prcscrvngvolcncc sa thrcatcnng volcncc.
And ts thrcat s not ntcndcd a thc dctcrrcnt that unnIormcd
lbcral thcorsts ntcrprct t to bc. A dctcrrcnt n thc cxact scnsc
snotattancdbyanylaw,sncc thcrc isalways hopoIcludngts
arm. Ths makc t all thc morc thrcatcnng, lkc Iatc, on whch
dcpcnds whcthcr thc crmnal s apprchcndcd. Thc dccpcst
purposcoIthcunccrtantyoIthclcgalthrcatwllcmcrgc Irom thc
latcr consdcraton oI thc sphcrc oI Iatc n whch t orgnatcs.
ThcrcsauscIulpontcrtotnthcsphcrcoIpunshmcnts. Among
thcm, sncc thc valdty oI postvc law has bccn callcd nto
qucston, captal punshmcnt ha provokcd morc crtcsm than
allothcrs. Howcvcr supcrhcal thc argumcnts may n most cascs
havc bccn, thcr motvc wcrc and arc rootcd n prncplc. Thc
opponcntoIthcsc crtc Iclt, pcrhaps wthout knowng why and
probably nvoluntarly, that an attack on captal punshmcnt
assals, notlcgaI mcasurc,notlaws, butlawtscllntsorgn. Ior
Ivolcncc, volcncc crowncd byIatc, s thc orgn ollaw, thcnt
lIc and dcath, occurs n thc lcgal systcm, thc orgns oIlaw|ut
manlcstly andIcarsomcly nto cxstcncc. ln agrccmcnt wth ths
s thc Iact that thc dcath pcnalty n prmtvc lcgal systcms s
mposcd cvcn Ior such crmc a ocnsc aganst propcrty, to
whch t sccms qutc out oI 'proporton`. lts purposc s not to
punsh thc nIrngcmcnt oIlaw but to cstablsh ncw law. Ior n
thc cxcrcscoIvolcnccovcrlIc and dcath morc thann anyothcr
lcgal act, lawrcamrms tsclI But n ths vcryvolcncc somcthng
Critique ofViolence 141
Iattcr knows tscIIto bc nhntcIy rcmotc Irom condtons nwbcb
must, bowcvcr, attcmpttoapproacbsucb condtonsal|tbcmorc
rcsoIutcIy, It s tobrngtoa concIuson ts crtquc oIbotbIaw-
makngand Iaw-prcscrvng voIcncc.
lnaIar morc unnaturaIcombnaton tbanntbcdcatbpcnaIty,
n a knd oI spcctraI mxturc, tbcsc two Iorms oIvoIcncc arc
tbssvoIcncc Ior IcgaIcnds ntbcrgbtoIdsposton) , but wtb
tbc smuItancousautbortytodccdctbcsccndstscIIwtbn wdc
Imts ntbcrgbtoIdccrcc) . TbcgnomnyoIsucb an autborty,
wbcb s IcIt by Icw smpIy bccausc u ordnancc sumcc onIy
scIdom Ior tbc crudcst acts, but arc tbcrcIorc aIIowcdtorampagc
aII tbc morc bIndIy n tbc most vuIncrabIc arca and aganst
tbnkcrs, Irom wbom tbc statcs notprotcctcd byIawtbs gno-
mny Ics n tbc Iact tbat n tbs autborty tbc scparaton oIIaw-
makng and Iaw-prcscrvng voIcncc s suspcndcd. lItbc brst s
rcqurcd to provc ts wortb n vctory, tbc sccond s subjcct to tbc
rcstrcton tbat t may not sct tscIIncw cnds. PoIcc voIcncc s
cmancpatcd Irom botb condtons. lt s Iaw-makng, Ior ts
cbaractcrstc Iuncton s not tbc promuIgaton oIIaws but tbc
t s at tbc dsposaI oItbcsc cnds. Tbc asscrton tbat tbc cnds oI
poIcc voIcncc arcaIways dcntcaI orcvcn conncctcd totbosc oI
gcncraI Iaw s cntrcIy untruc. Ratbcr, tbc 'Iaw oItbc poIcc
rcaIIy marks tbcpontatwbcbtbcstatc,wbctbcrIrom mpotcncc
or bccausc oItbc mmancntconncctonswtbn anyIcgaI systcm,
can no Iongcr guarantcc tbrougb tbc IcgaI systcm tbc cmprcaI
cnds tbat t dcsrcs at any prcc to attan. TbcrcIorc tbc poIcc
ntcrvcnc 'Ior sccurty rcasons n countIcss cascs wbcrc no cIcar
IcgaI stuaton cxsts, wbcn tbcy arc not mcrcIy, wtbout tbc
sIgbtcst rcIaton to IcgaI cnds, accompanyng tbc ctzcn a a
brutaI cncumbrancc tbrougb a IIc rcguIatcd by ordnanccs, or
smpIy supcrvsng bm. LnIkc Iaw, wbcb acknowIcdgc n tbc
'dccson dctcrmncd bypIaccandtmcamctapbyscaI catcgory
tbat gvc t a cIam to crtcaI cvaIuaton, a consdcraton oItbc
polcc nsttuton cncountcrs nothng csscntal at all. lts powcr s
Iormlcss, lkc unowhcrc tangblc, all-pcrvasvc, ghostly prcscncc
n thc lIc oI cvlzcd statcs. And though thc polcc may, n
partculars, cvcrywhcrc appcar thc samc, t cannot b nally bc
dcncd thatthcrsprtslcssdcvastatngwhcrc thcyrcprcscnt,n
absolutc monarchy, thc powcr oIa rulcr n whch lcgslatvc and
cxccutvc suprcmacyarc untcd, than n dcmocracc whcrc thcr
cxstcncc, clcvatcd by no such rclaton, bcars wtncs to thc
Allvolcncc aa mcansscthcr law-makngorlaw-prcscrvng.
lItlays clam to ncthcroIthcsc prcdcatcs, t IorIcts all valdty.
ltIollows, howcvcr, thatallvolcncc a a mcans, cvcnn thc most
Iavourablc casc, s mplcatcd n thc problcmatc naturc oI law
tscl AndIthc mportancc oIthcsc problcms cannot b asscsscd
wth ccrtanty at ths stagc oIthc nvcstgaton, law ncvcrthclcss
appcars, Irom what has bccn sad, n so ambguous a moral lght
mcansIor rcgulatngconctnghumanntcrcsts.Wcarcabovcall
oblgatcd to notc thata totally non-volcnt rcsoluton oIconcts
can ncvcrlcad toa lcgal contract. Ior thc lattcr, howcvcr pcacc-
Iully tmay havc bccn cntcrcdnto by thc partcs, lcadshnallyto
possblc volcncc. lt conIcrs on both partc thc rght to takc
thc agrccmcnt. Not only that , lkc thc outcomc, thc orgn oI
cvcrycontract also pontstowardvolcncc. ltnccd not b drcctly
prcscnt n t a law-makng volcncc, but s rcprcscntcd n t
nsoIar as thc powcr that guarantcc a lcgal contract L m tun oI
volcnt orgn cvcn Ivolcncc L not ntroduccd nto thc contract
tscl Whcn thc conscousncs oIthc latcnt prcscncc oIvolcncc
n a lcgal nsttuton dsappcars, thc nsttuton Ialls nto dccay.
Iamlar, wocIul spcctaclc bccausc thcy havc not rcmancd
conscous oI thc rcvolutonary Iorcc to whch thcy owc thcr
cxstcncc. Accordngly, n Gcrmany n partcular, thc last man-
Icstaton oIsuch Iorcc borc no Irut Ior parlamcnts. Thcy lack
thcscnscthatalaw-makngvolcnccsrcprcscntcdby thcmsclvcs ,
Critique ojViolence 143
but cultvatc n compromsc a supposcdly non-volcnt manncr oI
dcalng wth poltcal aars. Ths rcmans, howcvcr, a 'product
stuatcd wthn thc mcntalty oI volcncc, no mattcr how t may
dsdanallopcnvolcncc, bccauscthc cort toward compromscs
motvatcd not ntcrnally but Irom outsdc, by thc opposngcort,
bccausc no compromsc, howcvcr Irccly acccptcd, L conccvablc
wthout a compulsvc charactcr. ' It would b bcttcr othcrwsc`
sthcundcrlyngIcclngncvcrycompromsc. `*Sgnhcantly, thc
dccay oIparlamcnts ha pcrhaps alcnatcd as many mnds Irom
thc dcal oIa non-volcnt rcsoluton oIpoltcal concts as wcrc
attractcd to t by thc war. Thc pachsts arc conIrontcd by thc
Bolshcvks and Syndcalsts. Thcsc havc ccctcd an annhlatng
and on thc wholc apt crtquc oIprcscnt-day parlamcnts. Ncvcr-
thclcss, howcvcr dcsrablc andgratIynga ourshng parlamcnt
mght bc by comparson, a dscussonoImcans oIpoltcal agrcc-
mcnt that arc n prncplc non-volcnt cannot b conccrncd wth
parlamcntaransm. Iorwhat parlamcnt achcvcs n vta!aars
can only bc thosclcgaldccrccsthatnthcrorgnand outcomcarc
attcndcd by volcncc.
Is any non-volcnt rcsoluton oI conct possblc? Wthout
doubt. Thc rclatonshp oIprvatcpcrsonsarcIull oIcxamplcoI
allows thc uscoIunalloycd mcansoIagrccmcnt. lcgal and llcgal
wth non-volcnt oncs as unalloycd mcans. Courtcsy, sympathy,
pcaccablcncss, trust, and whatcvcr clsc mght hcrc bc mcntoncd,
arc thcr subjcctvc prccondtons. Thcr objcctvc manIcstaton,
howcvcr, s dctcrmncd by thc law thc cnormous scopcoIwhch
cannotbc dscusscd hcrc) thatunalloycd mcans arc ncvcr thoscoI
drcct, butalways thoscoIndrcctsolutons. ThcythcrcIorc ncvcr
applydrcctly to thc rcsolutonoIconctbctwccn man and man,
but onlytomattcrs conccrnng objccts. Thc sphcrc oInon-volcnt
mcansopcns up n thc rcalmoIhuman concts rclatngto goods.
Iorthsrcason tcchnquc n thc broadcstscnscoIthcwordu thcr
Unger, Politik und Metaphysik, Berlin 1 92 I, p. 8.
most particular arca. lts proIoundcst cxamplc s 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 .
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 conicu with thc violcnt naturc oIlaw dcrivcd
Irom itsorigins, such cndsarcinappropriatctothcjustibcd mcans
oIlaw.ThcyrccctnotonlythcdccayoIitsownsphcrc, butalsoa
diminution oIpurc mcans. Ior, in prohibitingIraud, law rcstricts
thc usc oIwholly nonviolcnt mcans bccausc thcy could producc
conccssionoIthc right tostrikc, which contradicts thc intcrcsuoI
thc statc. lt grants this right bccausc it Iorcstalls violcnt actions
thcstatc is aIraid toopposc. id not workcn prcviously rcsort at
oncc to sabotagcand sctbrcto Iactorics To inducc mcnto rccon-
cilc thcir intcrcsts pcaccIully without involving thc lcgal systcm,
thcrcis,inthccnd, apartIromallvirtucs,oncccctivcmotivcthat
oIcn puu into thc most rcluctant hands purc nstcad oI violcnt
mcans, it is thc Icar oI mutual disadvantagcs that thrcatcn to
Critique oj Violence 145
arsc Iro

volcnt conIrontaton, whatcvcr thc outcomc mght bc.

Such motvcs arc clcarly vsblc n countlcs casc oIconct oI
ntcrcsts bctwccn prvatc pcrsons. It s dcrcnt whcn classc and
natons arc n conct, sncc thc hghcr ordcrs that thrcatcn to
ovcrwhclm cqually vctor and vanqushcd arc hddcn Irom thc
Icclngs oImost, and Irom thc ntcllgcncc oIalmost all. Spacc
ntcrcsts corrcspondng to thcm, whch consttutc thc most cn-
durngmotvc Iora polcyoIpurcmcans.* Wc can thcrcIorc only
pontto purcmcansnpoltcs asanalogous tothoscwhchgovcrn
pcaccIul ntcrcoursc bctwccn prvatc pcrsons.
As rcgards class strugglcs, n thcm strkc must undcr ccrtan
oIstrkc, thc possbltcoIwhch havc alrcady bccn consdcrcd,
must now bc morcIully charactcrzcd. Sorcl ha thc crcdtIrom
brstdstngushcd thcm. Hccontraststhcmasthcpoltcaland thc
prolctarangcncral strkc. Thcyarcalsoantthctcal n thcrrcla-
ton to volcncc. I thc partsans oI thc Iormcr hc says . 'Thc
strcngthcnng oIstatc powcr L thc bass oIthcr conccptons , n
thcr prcscnt organzatons thc poltcans vz. thc modcratc
socalsts) arcalrcadyprcparngthcgroundIorastrongccntralzcd
anddscplncdpowcrthatwllbcmpcrvoustocrtcsmIrom thc
opposton, capablcoImposng slcncc, and oIssungts mcnda-
statc wIl losc nonc oIts strcngth, howpowcr s transIcrrcd Irom
thc prvlcgcd to thc prvlcgcd, how thc mass oI produccn wll
changc thcr mastcrs. In contrast to ths poltcal gcncral strkc
whchncdcntallysccmstohavcbccnsummcd upbythcabortvc
Gcrman rcvoluton), thc prolctaran gcncral strkc scts tsclI thc
solc task oIdcstroyng statcpowcr. It 'nullhc all thc dcologcal
conscqucnccsoIcvcry possblcsocal polcy, ts partsansscc cvcn
thcmostpopularrcIormsasbourgcos. 'Thsgcncralstrkcclcarly
announccstsndcrcncctowardmatcral ganthroughconqucst
Butsee Unger, pp. 18 f.
t Sorel, Rgcx:cs.Jkf /o c:c/ccc, thed., Paris I gl g, p. ao.
bydcclarngtsntcntontoabolshthcstatc,thcstatcwarcally. . .
thc bass oI thc cxstcncc oI thc rulng group, who n all thcr
cntcrprsngbcncbtIrom thcburdcnsbornc by thc publc. "Whlc
thchrstIorm oIntcrruptonoIworkL volcnt sncct causconly
an cxtcrnal modhcaton oIlabour condtons, thc sccond, as a
purc mcans, s nonvolcnt. Ior t takc placc not n rcadncs to
rcsumc work Iollowng cxtcrnal conccssons and ths or that
modhcaton to workng condtons, but n thc dctcrmnaton to
rcsumconlyawhollytransIormcdwork, nolongcrcnIorccdby thc
statc, an uphcaval that ths knd oIstrkc not so much causcs as
makng but thc sccond anarchstc. Takng up occasonal statc-
n a word, oI law-makngIor thc rcvolutonary movcmcnt .
'Wth thc gcncral strkc all thcsc hnc thngs dsappcar, thc
rcvoluton appcars as a clcar, smplc rcvolt, and no placc s
rcscrvcd cthcr Ior thc socologsts or Ior thc clcgant amatcun oI
socal rcIorms or Ior thc ntcllcctuals who havc madc t thcr
proIcsson to thnk Ior thc prolctarat. " Aganst ths dccp, moral,
and gcnuncly rcvolutonary conccpton, no objccton can stand
thatsccks,on groundsoItspossblycatastrophc conscqucnccs, to
brand such a gcncral strkc as volcnt. Lvcn It can rghtly bc
sad that thc modcrn cconomy, sccn a a wholc, rcscmblcs much
lcsamachncthatstandsdlc whcnabandoncd by ustokcr than
a bcastthatgocsbcscrkassoonasts tamcr turns hs back, ncvcr-
thclcss thc volcncc oIan acton can bc asscsscd no morc Irom ts
cccts than Irom ts cnds, but only Irom thc law oI ts mcans.
Statc powcr, oIcoursc, whch has cyc only Ior cccts, opposcs
prccsclythskndoIstrkc Iortsallcgcd volcncc, as dstnct Irom
partal strkcs whch arc Ior thc most part actually cxtortonatc.
Thc cxtcnt to whch such a rgorous conccpton oI thc gcncral
strkc as such s capablc oIdmnshng thc ncdcncc oI actual
volcnccn rcvolutons,Sorclhas cxplancd wth hghly ngcnous
argumcnts. By contrast, an outstandng cxamplc oI volcnt
omsson, morc mmoral and crudcr than thc poltcal gcncral
strkc, akn to a bIockadc, s thc strkc by doctors, such as scvcraI
Critique ofViolence 147
Gcrman ctcs havc sccn. ln ths s rcvcalcd at ts most rcpcllcnt
an unscrupulous usc oIvolcncc that is postvcly dcpravcd n a
proIcssonal clas that Ior ycars, wthout thc slghtcst attcmpu at
rcsstancc, 'sccurcd dcath ts prcy`, and thcnat thchrstopportu-
ntyabandoncdlIcoItsownIrccwll. Morcclcarlythannrcccnt
classstrugglcs, thcmcansoInon-volcnt agrccmcnthavcdcvclopcd
nthousandsoIycarsoIthchstoryoIstatcs. nlyoccasonallydocs
thc task oIdplomats n thcr transactons consst oImodhcatons
tolcgalsystcms. lundamcntallythcyhavc,cntrclyonthcanalogy
oIagrccmcnt bctwccn prvatc pcrsons, torcsolvc concu casc by
casc, n thcnamcsoIthcrstatcs,pcaccIully and wthoutcontracts.
A dclcatc task that s morc robustly pcrIormcd byrcIcrccs, but a
mcthod oI soluton that n prncplc s abovc that oI thc rcIcrcc
Accordngly, lkc thc ntcrcourscoIprvatcpcrsons, thatoIdplo-
mats ha cngcndcrcd ts own Iorms and vrtucs, whch wcrc not
always mcrcIormaltcs, cvcn thoughthcyhavc bccomcso.
Among all thc Iorms oI volcncc pcrmttcd by both natural
law and postvc law thcrc s not onc that s Ircc oIthc gravcly
problcmatc naturc, alrcady ndcatcd, oI all lcgal volcncc.
Sncc, howcvcr, cvcry conccvablc soluton to human problcms,
not to spcak oIdclvcrancc Irom thc conbncs oI all thc world-
hstorcal condtons oI cxstcncc obtanng hthcrto, rcmans
mpossblc Ivolcncc s totallycxcludcd n prncplc, thcqucston
ncccssarly arsc a to othcr knds oI volcncc than all thosc
cnvsagcdby lcgal thcory. ltsatthcsamc tmc thc qucstonoIthc
truth oIthc basc dogma common to both thcorcs .just cnds can
b attancd byjustbcd mcans,justhcd mcans uscd Iorjust cnds.
How would t bc, thcrcIorc, I all thc volcncc mposcd by Iatc,
usngj usthcd mcans, wcrc oItsclIn rrcconclablc conctwth
just cnds, andIat thcsamctmca dcrcntkndoIvolcncccamc
ntovcwthatccrtanlycouldbccthcrthcjusthcdorthc unjust-
hcd mcans to thosc cnds, but was not rclatcd tothcm as mcans at
and at brst dscouragng dscovcry oI thc ultmatc nsolublty
oIalI lcgal problcms whch n ts hopclcssncs s pcrhap com-
parablc only to thc possblty oI conclusvc pronounccmcnts on
'rght" and 'wrong"ncvolvnglanguagcs) . Iortsncvcrrcason
thatdccdcs on thcjusthcaton oImcans and thcjustncsoIcnds,
butIatc-mposcdvolcnccon thcIormcrand Goonthc lattcr. An
nsght thats uncommononlybccauscoIthc stubborn prcvalng
habtoIconccvngthoscjustcndsascndsoIapossblclaw, thats,
not only as gcncrally vald whch Iollows analytcally Irom thc
naturcoI justcc) , but al as capablc oIgcncralzaton, whch, as
could bc shown, contradcts thc naturc oIjustcc. Ior cnds that
Ior onc stuaton arc just, unvcrsally acccptablc, and vald, arc
so Iornoothcrstuaton, nomattcrhow smlart maybcn othcr
rcspccts. Thc non-mcdatc Iuncton oI volcncc at ssuc hcrc s
llustrated bycvcrydaycxpcrcncc. ^ rcgards man, hcsmpcllcd
byangcr, Ior cxamplc, tothc mostvsblcoutbursts oIa volcncc
that s not rclatcd as a mcans to a prcconccvcd cnd. It s not a
mcansbutamanIcstaton. Morcovcr, thsvolcncchathoroughly
objcctvc manIcstatonsn whch t can bc subjcctcd to critcsm.
Thcscarc tobc Iound, mostsgnbcantly, abovc all n myth.
MythcalvolcnccntsarchctypalIorm samcrcmanIcstaton
oIthc gods. Not a mcans to thcr cnds, scarccly a manIcstaton
oIthcrwll, buthrstoIall a manIcstaton oIthcrcxstcncc. Thc
lcgcnd oINobc contansan outstandngcxamplc oIths. Truc, t
mght appcar that thc acton oIApollo and Artcmis s only a
punshmcnt. But thcr volcncc cstablshcs a law Iar morc than t
punshc Ior thc nIrngcmcnt oI onc alrcady cxstng. Nobc`s
arrogancc calls down Iatc upon tsclInot bccausc hcr arrogancc
ocnds aganst thc law but bccausc t challcngcs Iatcto a hght
nwhchIatc must trumph, andcanbrngtolghtalawonlynts
trumph. How lttlc such dvnc volcncc wa to thc anccnts thc
law-prcscrvng volcncc oI punshmcnt s shown by thc hcroc
lcgcnds n whch thc hcroIor cxamplc, Promcthcuschallcngcs
Iatc wth dgnhcd couragc, hghts t wth varyng Iortuncs, ands
notlcItby thc lcgcnd wthout hop oIonc day brngnga ncw law
to mcn. It s rcally ths hcro and thc lcgal volcncc oI thc myth
natvctohmthatthcpublctrcto pcturccvcnnownadmrng
thc mscrcant. Volcncc thcrcIorc bursts upon Nobc Irom thc
Critique ojViolence 1
unccrtan, ambguoussphcrcoIIatc. lts not actually dcstructvc.
Although tbrngsa crucl dcathtoNobc`s chldrcn, tstop short
bcIorc through thc dcath oI thc chldrcn, both as an ctcrnally
mutc bcarcr oI gult and as a boundary stonc on thc Irontcr
bctwccn mcn and gods. lIths mmcdatc volcncc n mythcal
manIcstatom provcs closcly rclatcd, ndccd dcntcal to law-
makng volcncc, t rcccts a problcmatc lght on law-makng
volcncc, nsoIar as thc lattcr was charactcrzcd abovc, n thc
accountoImltary volcncc, as mcrclya mcdatcvolcncc. Atthc
samc tmc ths connccton promsc Iurthcr to llumnatc Iatc,
whch n all casc undcrlc lcgal volcncc, and to concludc n
broadoutlncthccrtquc oIthclattcr. IorthcIunctonoIvolcncc
n law-makng is twoIold, n thc scnsc that law-makng pursucs
as ts cnd, wth volcncc as thc mcans, wha s to bc cstablshcd as
law, butat thc momcnt oInstatcmcntdocs not dsms volcncc,
rathcr, at ths vcry momcnt oI law-makng, t spcchcally cstab-
lshcsas lawnotancndunalloycdbyvolcncc, but oncncccssarly
and ntmatcly boundtot, undcr thc ttlcoIpowcr. law-makng
s powcr-makng, and, tothatcxtcnt, an mmcdatc manIcstaton
oIvolcncc.justccsthcprncplcoIalldvnccnd-makng, powcr
thc prncplcoIall mythcallaw-makng.
An applcaton oI thc lattcr that has mmcnsc conscqucnccs
is to bc Iound n consttutonal law. Ior n ths sphcrc thc cstab-
lshng oIIrontcrs, thc task oI 'pcacc" aIcr all thc wars oIthc
mythcalagc,sthcprmalphcnomcnonoIall la w-makngvolcncc.

powcr, morcthanthcmostcxtrava-
gant gan n propcrty, s what s guarantccd by all law-makng
volcncc. Whcrc Irontcn arc dccdcd thc advcrsarys not smply
annblatcd, ndccd, hc is accordcd rghts cvcn whcn thc vctor's
supcrortyn powcrs complctc. And thcscarc, na dcmoncally
ambguous way, 'cqual" rghts . Ior both partc to thc trcaty t
prmtvcIorm, thcsamcmythcalambgutyoI laws that maynot
b 'nIrngcd" to whch Anatolc Irancc rcIcrs satrcally whcn
hc says, 'Poor and rch arc cqually Iorbddcn to spcnd thc nght
undcr thc brdgcs. " ltalso appcan that Sorcl touchcs not mcrcly
on a cultural-hstorcal but also on a mctaphyscal truth n sur-
msng that n thc bcgnnng all rght was thc prcrogatvc oI thc
kngs or thc noblcsn short, oI thc mghty, and that, mutatis
mutandis, t wll rcman so as longa t cxsts. Ior Irom thc pont oI
vcw oI volcncc, whch alonc can guarantcc law, thcrc s no
cqualty, but at thc most cqually grcat volcncc. Thc actoIhxng
Irontcrs, howcvcr, s also sgnhcant Ior an undcrstandngoIlaw
nanothcrrcspcct.LawsandunmarkcdIrontcrsrcman, atlcastn
prmcval tmcs, unwrttcn laws. A man can unwttngly nIrngc
upon thcm and thus ncur rctrbuton. Ior cach ntcrvcnton oI
law that s provokcd by an ocncc aganst thc unwrttcn and
unknown law s callcd,

n contradstncton to punshmcnt,
rctrbuton. But howcvcr unluckly t may bcIall ts unsuspcctng
vctm, ts occurrcncc s, n thc undcrstandng oI thc law, not
chancc, but Iatc showng tsclIoncc agan n ts dclbcratc am-
bguty. Hcrmann Cohcn, n a brcI rcccton on thc anccnts`
conccpton oIIatc, ha spokcn oI thc 'ncscapablc rcalzaton"
that t s 'Iatc's ordcn thcmsclvc that sccm to causc and brng
about ths nIrngcmcnt, ths ocncc`.* To ths sprt oI law cvcn
thc modcrn prncplc that gnorancc oIa law s not protccton
aganst punshmcnt tcsthcs, just as thc strugglc ovcr wrttcn law
stooasa rcbcllon aganst thcsprtoImythcalstatutcs.
IarIrom nauguratngapurcrsphcrc, thcmythcaI manIcsta-
ton oImmcdatc volcncc shows tsclIIundamcntally dcntcal
wth all lcgal volcncc, and turns suspcon conccrnng thc lattcr
nto ccrtanty oIthc pcrncousncs oIts hstorcal Iuncton, thc
dcstructon oIwhch thus bccomc oblgatory. Ths vcry task oI
dcstructon posc agan, n thc last rcsort, thc qucston oIa purc
mmcdatc volcncc that mght b ablc to cal! a halt to mythcal
volcncc. just as n al! sphcrcs God opposcs myth, mythcal
volcnccs conIrontcd by thc dvnc. And thc lattcr consttutcs ts
antthcss n all rcspccts. lI mythcal volcncc s law-makng,
dvncvolcnccslaw-dcstroyng, IthcIormcrsctsboundarcs,thc
Hermann Cohen, Ethik des reinen Willens, 2nd ed., Berlin 1907, p. 362.
Critique ofViolence 151
lattcr boundlcssly dcstroys thcm, Imythcal volcncc brngs at
oncc gult and rctrbuton, dvnc powcr only cxpatcs, I thc
Iormcr thrcatcns, thc lattcr strkcs , Ithc Iormcr s bloody, thc
lattcr s lcthal wthout spllng blood. Thc lcgcnd oINobc may
bcconIrontcd,asancxamplcoIthsvolcncc,wthGod`s judgmcnt
on thc company oI Korah. It strkcs prvlcgcd lcvtcs, strkcs
thcm wthout warnng, wthout thrcat, and docs not stopshortoI
annhlaton. But n annhlatng t also cxpatcs, and a dccp
connccton bctwccn thc lack oI bloodshcd and thc cxpatory
charactcroIthsvolcncc s unmstakablc. Ior bloo s thcsymbol
oImcrc lIc. Thc dssoluton oIlcgal volcncc stcms, as cannot bc
shown n dctal hcrc, Irom thc gult oImorc natural lIc, whch
consgns thc lvng, nnoccnt and unhappy, to a rctrbuton that
'cxpatcs" thc gult oI mcrc lIcand doubtlcs also purhcs
thc gulty, not oIgult, howcvcr, butoIlaw. IorwthmcrclIc thc
rulc oI law ovcr thc lvng ccascs. Mythcal volcncc is bloody
powcr ovcr mcrc lIc Ior ts own sakc, dvnc volcncc purc powcr
ovcr all lIc Ior thc sakc oIthc lvng. Thc hrst dcmands sacrhcc,
thc sccond acccpts t.
Ths dvnc powcr s attcstcd not only by rclgous tradton
but s also Iound n prcscnt-day lIc n at lcast onc sanctoncd
manIcstaton. Thc cducatvc powcr, whch n u pcrIcctcd Iorm
standsoutsdcthclaw,isoncoItsmanIcstatons.Thcscarcdcb ncd,
thcrcIorc, not by mraclcs drcctly pcrIormcd byGod, butby thc
cxpatng momcnt n thcm that strkcs wthout bloodshcd and,
bnally, by thc abscncc oI all law-makng. To ths cxtcnt t s
justhablc to call ths volcncc, too,

annhlatng, but t s so only

rclatvcly, wth rcgard to goods, rght, lIc, and suchlkc, ncvcr
absolutcly, wth rcgard to thc soul oIthc lvng. Thc prcmsc oI
such an cxtcnson oIpurc or dvnc powcr s surc to provokc,
partcularly today, thc most volcnt rcactons, and to bccountcrcd
by thc argumcnt that takcn to ts logcal concluson t conIcrs on
mcncvcnlcthalpowcraganstoncanothcr. Ths, howcvcr, cannot
bc conccdcd. lor thc qucston 'May I kll ?" mccts urrcducblc
answcr n thc commandmcnt 'Thou shalt not kll`. Ths com-
mandmcnt prcccdcs thc dccd, just as Go was 'prcvcntng" thc
dccd. Butjust as t may not b Icar oIpunshmcnt tbat cnIorccs
oncc thc dccd s accomp!shcd. No judgmcnt oIthc dccd can bc
dcrvcd Irom thc commandmcnt. And so ncthcr thc dvnc
judgmcnt, nor thc grounds Ior ths judgmcnt, can b known n
advancc. Thosc who basc a condcmnaton oI all volcnt kllng
oI onc pcrson by anothcr on thc commandmcnt arc thcrcIorc
mstakcn. lt cxsu notaacrtcronoI judgmcnt,butaagudclnc
Ior thc actons oIpcrsons or communtc who havc to wrcstlc
wth t n soltudc and, n cxccptonal cascs, totakc on thcmsclvcs
thc rcsponsblty oI gnorng t. Thus t was undcrstood by
judasm, whch cxprcssly rcjcctcd thc condcmnaton oIkllng n
sclI-dcIcncc. But thosc thnkcrs who takc thc opposcd vcw rcIcr
to a morc dstant thcorcm, on whch thcypossbIyproposc to basc
cvcn thc commandmcnt tsclI This s thc doctrnc oIthc sanctty
oIlIc, whch thcy cthcr apply to all anmal or cvcn vcgctablc
lIc, or lmt to human lIc. Thcr argumcntaton, cxcmplhcd n
ancxtrcmccascby thcrcvolutonarykllngoIthcopprcssor,runs
as Iollows . 'lI l do not kll l shall ncvcr cstablsh thc world
domnon oIjustcc . . . that s thc argumcnt oIthc ntcllgcnt
tcrrorst . . . . Wc, howcvcr, proIcs that hghcr cvcn than thc
happncss and justcc oI cxstcncc stands cxstcncc tsclI`* A
ncccssty oIscckng thc rcason Ior thc commandmcnt no longcr
nwhatthcdccddocstothcvctm, butnwhattdocto Godand
thc docr. Thc proposton that cxstcncc stands hghcr thanajust
cxstcncc sIalsc and gnomnous, Icxstcncc s to mcan nothng
othcr than mcrc lIcand t has ths mcanng n thc argumcnt
rcIcrrcd to. lt contans a mghty truth, howcvcr, Icxstcncc, or,
bcttcr, lIc words whosc ambguty s rcadly dspcllcd, analo-
gously to that oIIrccdom, whcn thcy arc rcIcrrcd to two dstnct
sphcrcs), mcans thc rrcducblc, total condton that s 'man` , I
somcthng morc tcrrblc than thc admttcdly subordnatc) not-
yct-attancd condton oI thc just man. To ths ambguty thc
KunHiller in a yearbook of Da ,,el.
Critique ojViolence 153
proposton quotcd abovc owc ts p|ausb|ty. Man cannot, at
any prcc, bc sad to concdc wth thc mcrc |Ic n hm, no morc
than wth any othcr oIhs condtons and qua|tcs, not cvcn wth
thc unqucncss oI hs bod|y pcrson. Howcvcr sacrcd man s or
that|Icnhm thatsdcntca||yprcscntncarth|y|lc, dcath,and
aIcr|Ic) , thcrc s no sacrcdncs n hs condton, n hs bod|y
|Ic vu|ncrab|c to njury by hs Ic||ow mcn. What, thcn, ds-
tngushcs t csscnta||y Irom thc |Ic oI anma|s and p|ants? And
cvcn I thcsc wcrc sacrcd, thcy cou|d not bc b by vrtuc on|y oI
bcng a|vc, oIbcng n |Ic. lt mght bc wc|| worth wh|c to track
down thc orgn oIthc dogma oIthc sacrcdncs oI|Ic. Pcrhaps,
ndccd probab|y, t s rc|atvc|y rcccnt, thc |ast mstakcn attcmpt
oIthc wcakcncd Wcstcn tradton to scck thc sant t has lost n
cosmo|ogca| mpcnctrab|ty. Thc antquty oI aII rc|gous
commandmcnts aganst murdcr s no countcr-argumcnt, bccausc
thcscarc bascdonothcrdcasthanthc modcn thcorcm.) Ina||y,
thsdcaoIman`ssacrcdncssgvcsgroundsIor rccctonthatwhat
s hcrc pronounccd sacrcd was accordng to anccnt mythca|
thought thc markcd bcarcroIgu| t . |Ic tsc|I
Thc crtquc oIvo|cncc s thc ph|osophy oIu hstorythc
'ph|osophy oIths hstory, bccausc on|y thc dcaoIts dcvc|op-
mcnt makc possb|c a crtca|, dscrmnatng, and dccsvc ap-
proach to ts tcmporaI data. A gazc drcctcd on|y at what s c|osc
at hand can at most pcrccvca da|cctcaI rsngand Ia||ngn thc
|aw-makng and |aw-prcscrvng Iormatons oIvo|cncc. Thc |aw
govcrnng thcrosc||aton rcsts on thc crcumstancc that aII |aw-
prcscrvng vo|cncc, n ts duraton, ndrcct|y wcakcns thc |aw-
makng vo|cncc rcprcscntcd by t, through thc supprcsson oI
host|c countcr-vo|cncc. Varous symptoms oI ths havc bccn
rcIcrrcd to n thccourscoIths study.) Ths |asu unt| cthcr ncw
Iorccs or thosc car|cr supprcsscd trumph ovcr thc hthcrto
|aw-makng vo|cncc and thus Iound a ncw |aw, dcstncd n ts
Iorms oI|aw, on thc suspcnson oI|awwth aII thc Iorccson whch
t dcpcnds a thcy dcpcnd on t, hna||y thcrcIorc on thc abo|ton
oIstatc powcr, a ncw hstorca| cpoch s Ioundcd. lIthc ru|c oI
myth s brokcn occasonally n thc prcscnt agc, thc comng agc s
not b unmagnably rcmotc that an attack on law L altogcthcr
Iutlc. But I thc cxstcncc oIvolcncc outsdc thc law, as purc
mmcdatc volcncc, s assurcd, ths Iurnshc thc prooI that
rcvolutonary volcncc, thc hghcst manIcstaton oI unalloycd
volcncc by man, s possblc, and by what mcans. lcs possblc
and also lcs urgcnt Ior humanknd, howcvcr, s to dccdc whcn
unalloycd volcncc ha bccn rcalzcd n partcular cascs. !
r only
mythcal volcncc, not dvnc, wll bc rccognzablc a such wth
ccrtanty, unlcs t b n ncomparablc cccts, bccausc thc
cxpatory powcroIvolcnccL notvsblc to mcn. ncc agan all
thc ctcrnal Iorms arc opcn to purc dvnc volcncc, whch myth
bastardzcd wth law. !t may manIcst tsclIna truc war cxactly
as n thc dvincjudgmcnt oIthc multtudc on a crmnal. But all
mythcal, law-makng volcncc, whch wc may call cxccutvc, s
pcrncous. Pcrncous, too, s thc law-prcscrvng, admnstratvc
volcncc that scrvcs t. vnc volcncc, whch s thc sgn and scal
butncvcrthc mcansoIsacrcd cxccuton, may b callcd sovcrcgn
nly thc Mcssah hmsclI consummatcs all hstory, n thc scnsc
that hc alonc rcdccms, complctcs, crcatcs u rclaton to thc
Mcssanc. Ior ths rcason n

hstorcal canrclatctsclIonts
own account to anythng Mcssanc. ThcrcIorc thc Kngdom oI
Gos notthc tetos oItbc hstorcal dynamc, t cannot b sct asa
goal. Irom thc standpontoIhstoryt s notthcgoal, butthc cnd.
ThcrcIorc thcordcroIthc proIanc cannot bc bultuponthcdca
oIthc vncKngdom, and thcrcIorc thcocra hasnopoltcal,
but only a rclgous mcanng. To havc rcpudatcd wth utmost
vchcmcncc thc poltcal sgnbcancc oIthcocracy s thc cardnal
mcrtoIBloch's Spirit i Utopia.
ThcordcroIthcproIancshouldbcrcctcdonthcdcaoIhap p-
ncss. Thc rclaton oI ths ordcr to thc Mcssanc s onc oI thc
csscntaltcachngsoIthcpblosophyoIhstory. ltsthcprccondton
oIa mystcal conccpton oIhstory, contanngaproblcm that can
b rcprcscntcdhguratvcly. lIoncarrowpontstothcgoaltoward
whcb thcproIanc dynamc acts, and anothcr marks thc drccton
oIMcssancntcnsty,thcnccrtanlythcqucstoIIrcc humantyIor
bappncss runs countcr to thc Mcssanc drccton, butjust as a
Iorcc can, through actng, ncrcasc anothcr that s actng n thc
oppostcdrccton,m thcordcroIthcproIancasssts,throughbcng
proIanc, thc comng oI tbc Mcssanc Kngdom. Thc proIanc,
thcrcIorc, although not tsclI a catcgory oI ths Kngdom, s a
dccsvccatcgoryoItsquctcstapproach.Iorn happncs all that

dcstncd to hndt. Whcrcas, admttcdly, thcmmcdatc Mcssanc
msIortunc, sucrng. To thc sprtual restituti in integrum,
whch ntroducc mmortalty, corrcsponds a worldly rcsttuton
that lcads to thc ctcrnty oI downIall, and thc rhythm oI ths
ctcrnally transcnt worldly cxstcncc, transcnt n ts totalty, n
tsspatalbutalsontstcmporaltotalty, thcrhythmoIMcssanc
and total passng away.
naturc, s thc task oIworldpoltcs, whosc mctho must b callcd
The Destructive
lt could happcn to somconc lookng back ovcr hs lIc that hc
rcalzcd that almost all thc dccpcr oblgatons hc had cndurcd
cvcryonc was agrccd. Hc would stumblc on ths Iact onc day,
pcrhaps by chancc, and thc hcavcr thc blow t dcals hm, thc
bcttcr arc hs chanccs oIpcturng thc dcstructvc charactcr.
Thc dcstructvc charactcr knows only onc watchword. makc
room, only onc actvty. clcarng away.

Hs nccd Ior Ircsh ar

Thcdcstructvccharactcr isyoungandchccrIul. Iordcstroyng
rcj uvcnatc n clcarng away thc tracc oIour own agc, t chccrs
bccausc cvcrythng clcarcd away mcans to thc dcstroycr a com-
contrbutcs most oIall to ths Apollonan magc oIthc dcstroycr
s thc rcalzaton oIhow mmcnscly thc world s smplbcd whcn
tcstcd Ior ts worthncs oI dcstructon. Ths is thc grcat bond
cmbracngandunIyngall thatcxsts. ltsasghtthataords thc
dcstructvc charactcra spcctaclcoIdccpcst harmony.
that dctatcs hs tcmpo, ndrcctly at lcast, Ior hc must Iorcstall
hcr. thcrwsc shcwll takcovcrthc dcstructonhcrsclI
No vson nsprcs thc dcstructvc charactcr. Hc has Icw nccds,
and thc lcast oIthcm s to know whatwll rcplacc what has bccn
dcstroycd. lrst oIall, Ior a momcnt at lcast, cmpty spacc, thc
placc whcrc thc thng stood or thc vctm lvcd. Somconc s surc
s bcng crcatvc. just as thc crcator sccks soltudc, thc dcstroycr
mustbc constantlysurroundcdbypcoplc, wtncsscto hscmcacy.
Thc dcstructvc charactcr s a sgnal. just as a trgonomctrc
sgn s cxposcd on all sdc to thc wnd, M s hc to rumour. To
protcct hm Irom t s pontlcss.
Thc dcstructvc charactcr has no ntcrcst n bcng undcrstood.
Attcmpts n ths drccton hc rcgards as supcrbca|. Bcng ms-
undcrstoo cannot harm hm. n thc contrary hc provokc t,
justa oraclcs, thosc dcstructvc nsttutons oIthc statc, provokcd
t. ThcmostpcttybourgcosoIallphcnomcna,gossp, comcsabout
only bccausc pcoplc do not wsh to bc msundcrstood. Thc
dcstructvc charactcr tolcratcs msundcrstandng, hc docs not
Thc dcstructvc charactcr s thc cncmy oIthc ctu-man. Thc
ctu-man looks Ior comIort, and thc casc s ts quntcsscncc. Thc
nsdc oIthc casc s thc vclvct-lncd track that hc has mprntcd
on thc world. Thcdcstructvccharactcrobltcratccvcn thc traccs
Thc dcstructvc charactcr stands n thc Iront lnc oIthc trad-
tonalsts. Somc pas thngs down to postcrty, by makng thcm
untouchablc and thus conscrvng thcm, othcrs pas onstuatons,
Thc dcstructvc charactcr has thc conscousncss oI hstorcal
man, whosc dccpcst cmoton s an nsupcrablc mstrust oI thc
coursc oI thngs and a rcadncss at all tmc to rccognzc that
cvcrythng can go wrong. ThcrcIorc thc dcstructvc charactcr s
Thc dcstructvc charactcr scc nothng pcrmancnt. But Ior
thsvcry rcason hc sccsways cvcrywhcrc. Whcrc otbcrscncountcr
walls or mountans, thcrc, too, hc sccs a way. But bccausc hc
sccs a way cvcrywhcrc, hc has to clcar thngs Irom t cvcrywhcrc.
Not always by brutc Iorcc, somctmc by thc most rchncd.
The Destructive Character 159
Bccausc hc sccs ways cvcrywhcrc, hc always postons hmsclIat
crossroads.Nomomcntcanknowwhat thc ncxtwllbrng. What
cxstshc rcduccsto rubblc, not Ior thc sakcoIthcrubblc, but Ior
thatoIthcwaylcadng through t.
Thcdcstructvc charactcr lvcs Irom thc Icclng, not that lIc s
worth lvng, but that sucdcs not worth thc troublc.
On the Mimetic Facult
' Naturc crcatcs smlartcs. nc nccd only thnk oImmcry. Thc
hghcst capacty Iorproducngsmlartcs, howcvcr, s man's. Hs
gItoIsccngrcscmblanccs nothngothcrthana rudmcntolthc
powcrIul compulson n Iormcr tmc to bccomc and bchavc lkc
somcthng clsc. Pcrhaps thcrc s nonc oI hs hghcr Iunctons n

hch hs mmctc Iaculty docs not play a dccsvc rolc.

Ths Iaculty has a hstory, howcvcr, n both thc phylogcnctc
and thc ontogcnctc scnsc. ^ rcgards thc lattcr, play s Ior many
u school. Chldrcn`s play s cvcrywhcrc pcrmcatcd by mmctc
modcsoIbchavour, and u rcalm is no mcans lmtcd to what
onc pcrson can mtatc n anothcr.

hc chld plays at bcng not

only a shopkccpcr or tcachcr but also a wndmll and a tran. I
whatusc to hms thsschoolngoIhs mmctcIaculty?
Thc answcr prcsupposcs an undcrstandng oIthc phylogcnctc
sgnhcancc oIthc mmctc Iaculty. Hcrc t s not cnough to thnk
oIwhat wc undcrstand today by thc conccpt oIsmlarty. ^ s
known, thc sphcrc oIlIc that Iormcrly sccmcd to b govcrncd by
thc law oIsmlarty was comprchcnsvc , t rulcd both mcrocosm
truc mportancc only Isccn a stmulatng and awakcnng thc
mmctc Iaculty n man. lt must b bornc n mnd that ncthcr
mmctcpowcrsnor mmctcobjcctsrcmanthcsamcnthccoursc
oI thousands oI ycars. Rathcr, wc must supposc that thc gIt oI
producng smlartcsIor cxamplc, n danccs, whosc oldcst
Iuncton thswasand thcrcIorc also thc gItoIrccognzng thcm,
On the Mimetic Faculty 1 61
havc changcd wth hstorcal dcvclopmcnt.

Thc drccton oIths changc sccms dcbnablc thc ncrcasng

dccay oIthc mmctc Iacult, Ior clcarly thc obscrvablc world oI
modcrn man contans only mnmal rcsducs oI thc magcal
corrcspondcncc and analogc that wcrc Iamlar to anccnt
pcoplcs. Thc qucstonswhcthcrwcarcconccrncdwththcdccay
oIthsIacultyorwthts transIormaton. Ithcdrcctonn whch
thc lattcr mght lc somc ndcatons may b dcrvcd, cvcn I
ndrcctly,Irom astrology.
consdcrcd mtablc ncludcd thosc n thc sky. In dancc, on othcr
cultcoccasons,suchmtatoncouldbcproduccd, suchsmlarty
chld wa thought to b n Iull posscssonoIths g, andnpart-
cular to bc pcrIcctly mouldcd on thc structurc oIcosmc bcng. ,
Alluson to thc astrologcal sphcrc may supply a brst rcIcrcncc
pontIoranundcrstandngoIthcconccptoI non-scnsuoussmlarty.
Truc, ourcxstcncc nolongcr ncludcwhatonccmadct pssblc
tocakoIths knd oIsmlarty. abovc all, thc ablty to producc
Ncvcrthclcs wc, too, posscs a canon accordng to whch thc

mcanngoInon-scnsuoussmlartycan batlcastpartlyclarhcq

And thscanons languag,

Irom tmc mmcmoral thc mmctc Iacultyhas bccn conccdcd
somcnucnccon languagc. YctthswasdoncwthoutIoundaton .
wthout consdcraton oIa Iurthcr mcanng, stll lcs a hstory, oI
thc mmctc Iaculty. But abovc all such notons rcmancd closcly
tcdtothc commonplacc, scnsuousarcaoIsmlarty.All thcsamc,
mtatvc bchavour n languagc Iormaton was acknowlcdgcd
undcr thc namcoIonomatopoca. Now Ilanguagc, ass cvdcnt,
s not an agrccdsystcm oIsgns, wc shall b constantly oblgcd to
havc rccoursc to thc knd oI thoughts that appcar n thcr most
prmtvc Iorm a thc onomatopocc modc oI cxplanaton. Thc
'LvcjwordandthcwholcoIlanguagc`, thasbccnasscrtcd,
's onomatopocc'. It s dmcult to conccivc M any dctal thc
programmc that mght b mplcd by ths proposton. Howcvcr,
thc conccptoInon-scnsuous smlarty s oIsomc rclcvancc. IorI
words mcanng thcsamcthngndcrcntlanguagcsarc arrangcd
aboutthatthnga thcrccntrc, wc havctonqurc how thcyall
whlc oIcnposscssngnotthcslghtcstsmlarty to oncanothcr
arc smlar to what thcy sgn[ at thcr ccntrc. Yct this knd oI
smlartymay b cxplancd not onlyby thcrclatonshpbctwccn
words mcanng thc samc thng n dcrcnt languagcs, just as, n
gcncral, our rccctons cannot b rcstrctcd to thc spokcn word.
Thcy arc cqually conccrncd wth thc wrttcn word. And hcrc t s
notcworthy that thc lattcrn somc casc pcrhaps morc vvdly
than thc spokcn wordllumnatcs, by thc rclaton oIu wrttcn
Iorm towhattsgnbcs, thc naturcoInon-scnsuous smlarty. In
brcI,tsnon-scnsuoussmlartythatcstablshcs thc tcs notonly
bctwccn thc spokcnand thcsgnhcdbutalsobctwccn thcwrttcn
andthcsgnhcd, andcquallybctwccnthcspokcnandthcwrttcn.
Graphology has taught L to rccognzc n handwrtng magcs
thatthcunconscousoIthcwrtcrconccalsnt. Itmaybsuppscd
that thc mmctc proccs that cxprcssc tsclIn this way n thc
actvtyoIthc wrtcrwas, n thcvcry dstant tmcn whch scrpt
orgnatcd, oI utmost mportancc Ior wrtng. Scrpt has thus
bccomc, lkc languagc, an archvc oInon-scnsuous smlartcs, oI
non-scnsuous corrcspondcnccs.
Ths aspcct oIlanguagc as scrpt, howcvcr, doc not dcvclop
n solaton Irom u othcr, scmotc aspcct. Rathcr, thc mmctc
knd oI bcarcr. Ths bcarcr s thc scmotc clcmcnt. Thus thc
cohcrcncc oIwords or scntcncc s thc bcarcr through whch, lkc
a ash, smlarty appcars. Ior ts producton by manlkc ts
pcrccpton by hms n many cascs, and partcularly thc most
mportant, lmtcdtoashcs. It upast. Itsnotmprobablcthat
thc rapdty oIwrtng and rcadng hcghtcns thc Iuson oI thc
scmotc and thc mmctcn thc sphcrcoIlanguagc.
'To rcad what wa ncvcr wrttcn. Such rcadng s thc most
anccnt . rcadng bcIorc all languagcs, Irom thc cntrals, thc stars,
On the Mimetic Faculty 1 63
or danccs. latcr thc mcdatng lnk oIa ncw knd oI rcadng, oI
runcs and hcroglyphs, camcnto usc. ltsccmsIarto supposc that
thcsc wcrc thc stagc by whch thc mmctc gI, whch wa oncc
thc Ioundaton

(I occult practccs, gancd admttancc to wrtng

and languagln ths way languagc may b sccn as thc hghcst
lcvcl oI mmctc bchavour and thc most complctc archvc oI
non-scnsuous smlarty. a mcdum nto whch thc carlcr powcrs
oImmctc producton and comprchcnson havc passcd wthouy
rcsduc, tothc pontwhcrcthcyhavclqudatcdthoscoImagc,
Wat:zuzjamtaoAsja LaLb)
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
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_ectre. 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 rhythin, come into beirg here: civilized,
private, and ordered only in the great hotel and warehouse
buidings on thc quays , anarchica, cmbroicd, viagc-ikc inthc
ccntrc, into whichargc nctworksofstrcctswcrchackcdonyforty
ycars ago. And ony in thcsc strccts is thc housc, in thc Nordic
scnsc, thc cc ofthc city's architccturc. In contrast, within thc
tcncmcntbocks,itsccmshcdtogcthcratthccorncrs, as ifbyiron
camps,bythcmurasofthc Madonna.
_No onc oricnts himscf by housc numbcrs. Shops, wcs, and
churche arc thc rcfcrcncc pointsand not aways simpc onc:
For thc typi



y occupy
avasts, visibc1rom afar, with transcpts, gacry, anddom_
Itis hiddcn, buitin, high domcs arco!tcnto b sccn ony from a
fcw paccs, and cvcn thcnit is notcasy to hnd onc'sway to thcm,
iq (p distinguish thc massofthc churcjrom that_]thc
ncighbouring sccuar buidings
hc st
, passe it

y. Thc

!tcn onlya curtain, is thc sccrct gatc for thc

intothc purc soitudc ofa ta, whitcwashcd church intcrior. His
privatc cxistcncc is thc baroquc opcning ofa hcightcncd pubic
sphcrc. Forhcrchis privatc scfis not takcnupbythc four was,
among wifc and chidrcn, but by dcvotion or by dcspair. Sidc
acys givc gimpseofdirtystain cadingdownto tavcrns, whcrc
thrccor four mcn, at intcrvas, hiddcn bchind barrc|sasifbchind
church piars, sit drinking.
Insuch corncn onc can scarccy disccnwhcrc buiding is sti
inprogrcss andwhcrcdiapidationhasarcadysctin. For nothing
is incudcd.,;,_ _fro_nge._}hc



. ..

ssion f



, )ch


iqb at

. ` ` `
;c dBuidingsarc uscd asapopuIarstagc. Thcy arca
dividcd into innumcrabc, simutancousy animatcd thcatrc_
Bacony, courtyard, window, gatcway, staircasc, roofarc at thc
samc timc stagc and boxcs. Lvcn thc most wrctchcd paupcr is
sovcrcign in thc dim, dua awarcncss of participating, in a his
dcstitution,inoncofthcpictureofNcapoitanstrcctifc thatwi
ncvcrrcturn, andofcnjoyinginahispovcrtythc cisurctofoow
thc grcat panorama. What is cnactcd on thc staircascs is a high

Naples 171
school oI stagc managcmcnt. Thc stars, ncvcr cntrcly cxposcd,
butstlllcscncloscd n thcgloomy box oIthc Nordchousc, crupt
Iragmcntarly Irom thc buldngs, makc an angular turn, and
dsappcar, onlytoburstout agan.
thc strcc rat rcd

, Rcd, bluc, a

ycllow y-catchcrs, altars oI colourcd glossy papcr on thc walls,
papcr roscttc on thc raw chunks oImcat. Thcn thc vrtuosty oI
thc varcty show. Somconc kncclson thc asphalt, alttlcboxbcsdc
hm, and t s onc oI thc buscst strccts. Wth colourcd chalk hc
drawsthc bgurcoIChrst onthcstonc,bclowtpcrhapthchcad
oIthc Madonna. Mcanwhlca crclc hasIormcd around hm, thc
orhalIan hour, sparsc, countcd-outconsIall Irom thc onlookcrs
onto thc lmbs, hcad, and trunk oIhs portrat. LntI hc gathcrs
thcm up, cvcryonc dspcrscs, and n a Icw momcnts thc pcturc
s crascd byIcct.
Not thc lcast cxamplc oIsuch vrtuosty s thc art oIcatng
macaron wth thc hands. Ths s dcmonstratcd to Iorcgncrs Ior
rcmuncraton. thcr thngs arc pad Ior accordng to tars.
Vcndon gvc a hxcd prcc Iorthccgarcttcbuttsthat,alcr a caIc
closcs, arc cullcd Irom thc chnks n thc oor. Larlcr thcy wcrc
wcrc sought by candlclght.) Alongsdc thc lcavngs Irom rcs-
taurants, bolcd cat skulls, and hsh shclls, thcy arcsold at stalls
n thc harbourdstrct. Musc paradcsabout . not mournIul musc
Ior thc courtyards, but brllant sounds Ior thc strcct. Thc broad
cart, a knd oI xylophonc, s colourIully hung wth song tcxts.
Hcrc thcy can bc bought. nc oIthc muscans turns thc organ
whlc thc othcr, bcsdc t, appcars wth hs platc bcIorc anyonc
who stops drcamly to lstcn. 5 cvcrythng joyIul s moblc .
musc, toys, cc crcam crculatc through thc strccts.
Ths muscsbotharcsducoIthclastandaprcludctothcncxt
Icastday. lrrcsstblythcIcstvalpcnctratcscachandcvcryworkng
day. Porosty s thc ncxhaustblc law oI thc lIc oI ths cty,
rcappcarng cvcrywhcrc. A gran oI Sunday s hddcn n cach
weekday, and how muchweekdayin this Sunday '
Neverthe|e 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 ags 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-
Faintsunsshinefrom g|ass vauoficeddrinks. Dayandnight the
pavi|ionsg|owwith the pa|e, _liteach _ e
tonguewh_orositycan be.
n,.oor the


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 subect to fashion
andartihce. Lachparish hato outdothefestiva|ofits neighbour
withnew |ightingeects.
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
main ho|iday, this chi|dishoy 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,
greed in Milan, envy in Rome, _ap 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
'- 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 inscrutable as Mograby? He is se.lling toothpaste.
> -
A priceless example of such busine
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. -
f uLstories of the NeapolitaRLplayful love of trade. In a
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 ofshootrubber
balls, soap, chocolatesit 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
al, a coll
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,

' 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 abot
a stretching of frontiers that mirror the most radiant freedom of
thought. There u no hour, often no place, for slg ana(.
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 grandiose 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 tnemell
t bl
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, many the room will hold. But even if there are six or
seven, there are often more than twice 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 therefoe notthe pr
Cte Northern
sleep. Here, too, there is interpenetrati.oll of day and night, noise
,n peace, ou ter
igt 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 stif, wrapped and without arms or legs, 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 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
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 epreo-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

e foreigner after him.
. - ' ` -
More quickly than Moscow itself, one get to know Berlin through

. 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
everyone to choose his standpoin

. Admittedly, the only real

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
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.
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
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||ne has
thst;ect thatoverows not on|y with peop|e, and how deserted
cmptyis Ber|in!InMoscowgods bursteverywherefrom the
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
Thecityseems to de|iveritse|fat the outset, at thestation. Kiosks,
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. Theung|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
its rea| river, founditsrea| heights, each thoroughfare became for
me a contested river, each house number a trigonometric signa|,
ison namedground. Andwhereone ofthese nameL heard, ina
ash 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|amasonry. 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
yLonitsgardagaI:isthinmauI;se|[ migues,
|ures him to wander its circ|e to t) gqm t exhaun. This
cou|d be approachcdn a very practica| way, during the tourist
seasoningreatcities, 'orientationh|ms"wou|drunforforeigners. )
But in the end, maps and p|ans are victorious . inbed atnight,
imaginationugg|es with rea| bui|dings, parks, andstreets.

MoscowinwinterLaquietcity. Theimmense bust|eonthestreets

backwardne ofthe tramc. Car horns dominate the orchestra of
cities. Butin Mowtherea)c on|yafew cars. Theyare usedon|y
/ . , ' , for

we nr

d for a

|qgqyernment. True,
, inteningtheyswitchonbrighter|ighu than are permittedin
any other great city. And the cone of |ight they proect are so
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
transport snow away. Smgle horsemen. SIlent swarms of ravens
_` have settled in the snow. [h(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

utensils are more simply and solidly m

easant origin being clearly visible. One morni

g, at the side o
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, stued birds, c|othes-hangersa||
thisspraw|sontheopenstreet, ifi(wcnottwenty-hvedegrees
be|ow zero but high Neapo|u

mmer. I w for:Ipe
ystIhed 1yatanvh had n hont of him a densely |ettered
board. I wantedtoseeasoothsayerin him. At|astI succeededin
watchinghimatwork.I sawhimse||twoofhis|ettenandhthem
initia|s to his customer's ga|oshes. Then the wides|eighswith
three compartments for peanuts, haze|nuts, and ssitchk sun-
ower 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 addre 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
isinparti||ega|andthereforeavoidsattractingattention. Women,
eachwithapieceofmeat, achicken,ora|egofpork restingona
}ayer ofstraw in her open hand, stand oering it to passers-by.
Ihese are vendon without permits. They are topoortopaythe
omce for a week|y concession. When a member of the mi|itia
approaches, they simp|y run away. The street trade cu|minates
_ 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
ame. Therearenoseatsanywhere,everyonestands up,gossiping
or trading. At this market the architectonic function ofwares is
perceptib|e . c|othanuic mrm buttresses and coIumq shoes,
ealcnkj hanging tIiraded on strings acro the couters, becme
theroofofthebooth,largegarmoshka , accordions) form sounding
walls, therefore in a sense Memno walls. Whether, at the few
icomthatitwasalreadypunishable drtsarisn: (o sJ[ Ido

know. Therewathe MotherofGo withfhreehands. Sheis half
naked. From her navel risea strong, well-formed hand. At right
and le 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
, ',
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 anked bypor-

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
,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

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
acro the derelict, unspeakably melancholy hesprizornye, war
orphans. By daytheyare usually seen alone,eachoneonhisown
warpath. Butin the evening theyoinup before the lurid faades
ofmoviehouses to form gangs, and foreignen are warnedagainst
meeting such bands aone when waking home. Theony way for
the educator to understand these thoroughy savage, mistrustfu,
embittered peopew togoout on thestreet himseI In eachof
Moscow's districts, chidren's centre have beeninstaedfor years
aready. They are supervised by a femae state empoyee who
sedom has more than one assistant. Her task is, in one way or
another, to makecontactwiththe chidren ofherdistrict. Food is
distributed, game are payed. To begin with, twenty or thirty
chidren cometothe centre, butifasuperintendentdoesherwork
Needess to say, traditiona pedagogica methods never made
muchimpressionon theseinfantiemasses.Togetthroughtothem
at a, to be heard, one h to reate as directy and ceary as
possibeto the catchwordsofthe streetitseI,ofthe whoecoective
ife. Poitics, in theorganizationofcrowdsofsuch chidren, u not
toyshop or do-house for midde-ca chidren. Ifone aso bears
in mind that a superintendent has to ook aIter the chidren, to
occupy and feed them, and in addition to keep a record of a
expenses for mik, bread, and materias, that she is responsibe
fora this, it mustbecome drasticaycearhow muchroomsuch
work eave for the private ife ofthe person performing it. But
amid a the image ofchidhood destitution that is sti far from
having been overcome, an attentive observer wi perceive one
thing. howtheiberatedprideoftheproetariatLmatchedbythe
emancipated bearingofthe chidren. Nothingis more peasanty
surprisingon avisitto Moscow'smuseumsthan tosee how, singy
or in groups, sometimes around a guide, chidren and worken
move easiy through these rooms. Nothing is to be seen of the
forornness ofthe few proetarians who dare to show themseves
to theothervisitoninourmuseums. In Russiatheproetq;)a|as

ybgun to take possession ofourgeouturc, herca on

aburgary. Admittedy, therearecoectiominMoscowin which
workers andchidrencan quickyfee themseve at home. There
isthePoytechnicMuseum,withitsmanythousandsof experiments,
picccsofapparatus, documcnts, andmodcsrcatingto thchistory
ofprimary production and manufacturing industry. Thcrc is thc
admirabyruntoymuscum,whichundcritsdircctor, Bartram, has
brought togcthcr a prccious, instructivc cocction of Russian
toys, and scrvcs thc schoar as much as thc chidrcn who wak
about for houn in thcsc rooms about midday thcrcis aso a big,
frcc puppctshow, as hncas anyinthcLuxcmbourg). Thcrc is thc
famous Trctiakov Oacry in which onc undcrstands for thc hrst
timc what gcnrc painting mcans and how cspcciay appropriatc
itis to thc Russians. Hcrc thc pror)arian m+>uc(tot
history of his movcmcnt . A Conspirator Surprised by the Police, The
/am Jro Exile in Siberia, The Poor Goveress Enters Service in a
Rich Merchant's House. Andthcfactthatsuchsccncsarcstipaintcd \
cntircy in thc spirit ofbourgcois art not ony doe no harmit
actuay brings thcm coscr to this pubic. )q cdcation in_
..+~ = . ~"
Proust cxpains vcry wc from timc to timc) is not bcst pro-
motcdby thc contcmpation of'mastcrpicccs'. Rathcr, thc chid
or thc proctarian who is cducating himscfrighty acknowcdgcs
vcry dicrcnt works as mastcrpicccs from thosc sccctcd by thc
cocctor. Such picturcs havc for him a vcry transitory but soid
topicaworks thatrcatctohim, hiswork, and hiscass.

Bcggingis not aggrcssivc as in thc South, whcrc thc importunity

ofthcragamumnstiIbctrayssomcrcmnantofvitaity. Hcrcitisa
corporation ofthc dying. Thc strcct corncrs ofsomc quartcrs arc
covcrcd with bundcs ofragsbcds in thc vast opcn-air hospita
Thcrc is onc bcggar who aways bcgins, at thc approach of a
promising-ooking passcr-by, to cmit a soft, drawn-out howing,
ths is dircctcd at forcigncn who cannot spcak Russian. Anothcr
hthccxactposturcofthcpaupcrforwhom SaintMartin,inod
picturcs, cutshscoakintwowith his sword. hcknccswith both
arms outstrctchcd. Shorty bcforc Christmas, two chidrcn sat
day aftcr day in thc snow against thc waII ofthc Muscum ofthc
Moscow 1 8
Revoution, covered with a scrap of materia, and whimpering.
But outside the Lngish Cub, the most gentee in Moscow, to
which this buiding earier beonged, even that woud not have
been possibe. ) ne ought to know Moscow as such beggar
chidren know it. ),know of a corer beside the doqr f a

ataparticuartime, theyareaowedtowarm
themsevesfortenminutes, theyknowwhereonedayeachweekat
a certain hour they can Ietch themseve crusts, and where a
seeping pace among stacked sewage pipes is free. They have
deveoped 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
peading, unti he has reinquished to thema pieceofhis hot pie.
thers keep station at a streetcar terminus, board a vehice, sing
few, where even street trading has the appearance ofbegging. A
few Mongos stand against the wa of Kitai Oorod. ne stands
no more than hve paces from the next, seing eather briefcases,
each with exacty the same artice his neighbour. There must
be some agreement behind this, for they cannot seriousy intend
suchhopeesscompetition. Probabyintheirhomeandthewinter
natives. Nevertheess they are he ony peope in Moscowwhom
one pitieson accountofthe cimate. Lvenpriestswhogobegging
for their churches are sti to b seen. But one very sedom sees
anyone give. Begging has ost its strongest foundation, the bad
socia conscience, which opens purse m much wider than doe
pity. Beyond this it appears as an expression ofthe unchanging
wretchedne ofthese beggars , perhaps, too, it is ony the resut
ofjudicious organization that, ofa the institutions ofMoscow,
they aone are dependabe, remaining unchanged in their pace
whie everythingaround themshi|ts.
Lach thought, each day, each ife ies here as on a aboratory
tabIe. Andasifitwereameta fromwhichanunknownsubstance
s bycvcrymcansto bcxtractcd, t mustcndurccxpcrmcntaton
to thc pont ol cxhauston. No organsm, no organzaton, can
cscapcthsproccss. Lmployccsnthcrlactorcs,omccnbuldngs,
pcccsollurnturc n thc apartmcnts arcrcarrangcd, translcrrcd,
and shovcd about.

ron lor stcnn


arc prc;cnlrdinthc club as at rcscarchnst



chad lrom day to day, b\:tst



gratc, too, shops
turn nto rcstaurants and a lcw wccks latcr nto omccs. Ths
astonshng cxpcr

at hcrc callcd rcmcatcaccts

6 Jy

t s Russan. In t

n hvc s as
mnavc dcsrclor mprov

mcntas thcrc L boundlcscurosty

and playlulncss. Icw thngs arc shapng Russa morc powcrlully
today. Thc country s moblzcd day and nght, most ol all, ol
coursc, thc Party. Indccd, what dstngushcd thc Bolshcvk, thc
Russan Communst, lrom hs Wcstcrn comradc s ths uncond-
s soslcndcr that hc s prcparcd, ycarn, ycar out, to dccamp. Hc
would not othcrwsc b a match lor ths llc. Whcrc clsc L t
conccvablc that a dstngushcd mltary lcadcr should onc day
bc madc drcctor ola grcat statc thcatrc? Thc prcscnt drcctor
olthc Thcatrc ol thc Rcvoluton s a lormcr gcncral. Truc . hc
was a man ollcttcrs bclorc hc bccamc a vctorous commandcr.
rn whch othcrcountry can onc hcarstorc lkc thosc told mc
bythccommssonarcolmy hotcl'Lntl i geqhcwascmploycdn
nthcKrcmln. Thcnoncday hcwasamctcd byscvcrc scatca.
Thc Party had hm trcatcdbythcr bcst doctors, scnt hm to thc
l' Crmca, had hm takc mud baths and try radaton trcatmcnt.

, _ canlookaIcryourscll, kccpwarm, andnot movc1" Thcncxt day
hc was a hotcl portcr. Whcn hc s curcd hc wll go back to thc

Krcmln. Lltmatcly, cvcn thc hcalth ol comradcs s a przcd
posscssonolthcParty, whch, aganstthc pcrson`s wshc lncccs-
cary, takcs such mcasurcs as arc nccdcd to conscrvc t. So t s
prcscntcd, at any ratc, n an cxccllcnt novclla by Bors Plnak.
Aganst hswll a hghomcalundcrgoc an opcraton that has a
latal outcomc. Avcry lamous namcL mcntoncd hcrc amongthc

.... Moscow 187

, . _'_')
dead ofthe ast few years. ) There is no knowe and no mcuty
(hat are nq( sohoy approyriat

serve it. The speciaistis aspearheadofthis increasingy practica

roah and the ony citizen who, outside the pohtica sphere,
Thus the red Miitary Academy empoyed as a teachera genera
Boshevik unceremoniousy hanged. For Europeans such a point
to practica demands, is barey comprehensibe. But this incident
is aso characteristic of the opposing side. For it is not ony the
miitaryofthe tsaristempirewho, is known, paced themseves
at the service ofthe Bosheviks. Inteectuas, too, retun in time
as speciaists to the posts they sabotaged during the civi war.
pposition, as weshoud ike toimagine it in the Westinteec-
tuas hoding themseve aoofand anguishing under the yoke
doesnot exist, or, better, noongerexists. It haswith whatever
reservationsaccepted the truce with the Bosheviks, or it has
been annihiated. There is in Russiaparticuary outside the
Partyony the most oya opposition. Forthisnewifeweighson
no one more heaviy than on the outsider observing from a
distance.To endurethisexistenceinideneisimpossibebecause,
in each smaest detai, it becomes beautifu and comprehensibe
ony through work. To the integration ofpersona thoughts with
thepre-existinghedofforces, with the mandate,howevervirtua,
for organized, guaranteed contact with comradesto this, ife
it degenerateinteectuayasifthroughyeanofsoitary conhne-
Boshevism has aboished private ife.


activit, thpsae po_erfu| thatnotimeremainsforinterests
-~. ^ *=~~-~~.-.~-- ..- " , , .=.._,, . .
thqo not conve

i_ space. Apartments that

earier accommdated singefamiie in tcrve to eight rooms
now oIten odge eight. Through the ha door one step into a
ittetown. Moreoftensti, an army camp. Lvenin the obbyone
can encounter beds. Indoon one ony camps, and usuay the
scanty inventory is ony a residue of petty-bourgeois possessions
that have a far more depressing eect because the room is so
sparsey furnished. An essentia feature of the petty-bourgeois
interior, however, was competeness . pictures must cover the
was, cushions the sofa, coven the cushions, ornaments h the
mantepiece, cooured ga the windows. Such peg-our

roomsarebattebcds.y)]th attaofodj zp


fa that, ony a part here or there has been indiscriminatey
withwhich it is paid for, from the house. Peope can bear to exist
in it because theyareestranged from it bytheirwayofife. Their
dweingpaceistheomce,thecub,thestreet. fthemobiearmy
ofomciasonythebaggagetrainistobfoundhere. Curtainsand
partitions, oIten ony haf the height of the was, have had to
mutipy the number ofrooms. For eachtizenisntited aw
/ <7\'
tm; n_q qac

. hi

ac mda
tions hepaysaccordingto hisincome. The stateahouseowner-
ship is nationaizedcharge the unempoyed one rube monthy
forthesameareafor whichthebetter-opaysixtyormore.Anyone
justi[ his caim professionay, make manifod amends. Lvery
bureaucratic apparatus and with impossibe costs. The member
of a trade union who produce a certihcate of ine and goes
through the prescribed channes can be admitted to the most
modern sanatorium, sent to heath resorts in the Crimea, can
Theoutsider cango begging and sinkinto penuryifhe is not ina
position, as a member ofthe new bourgeoisie, to buy a this for
thousands ofrubes. Anythingthatcannotb basedon the coec-
tiveframework demandsadisproportionate expenditureofeort.
Moscow :8g
For this reason there is no 'homeiness'. But nor are there any
cafcs. Free trade and the free inteect have been aboished. The
transactions are under the aegis ofthe new /tthe new environ-
mentforwhichnothingcountsexceptthefunctionofthe producer
in the coective. The new Russians ca milie the ony reiabe
committees are hxed at a houn in omces, cubs, factories, and
oIten have no site of their own, being hed in cornen of noisy
editoria rooms, atthecearedtabeofacanteen. Thereisakindof
natura seection and a strugge for existence between these
meetings. Society projecu them to some extent, pans them, they
are convened. But how oIten must this b repeated unti hnay
oneofthemanyssuccessfu,provesviabe,is adapted,takespace.
Thatnothingturnsoutwintendedandexpectedthis bana
expressionofthe reaityofife hereassertsitsefin each individua
case so invioaby and intensey that Russian fataism becomes
comprehensibe. Ifciviizingcacuationsowy estabisheitsefin
the coective, this wi, in thehrst pace, ony compicate matters.
ne is better provided for in a house that has onycandesthan
where eectric ght is instaed but the suppy ofcurrent isinter-
rupted houry.) A feeing for the vaue oftime, notwithstanding
a'rationazation',s notmetwithevenin the capitaofRussia.
'Trud', the trade-union institute for thestudy ofwork, underits
director, Oastiev, aunched a poster campaign for punctuaity.
From eariest times a arge number of cockmakers have been
settedin Moscow. They are crowded, in the mannerofmedieva
guids, in particuar streets, on the Kuznetsky Bridge, on !itsa
Oertsena. ne wonden who actuay needs them. 'Time is
ofLenin,soaenistheideatotheRussians. Theyfrittereverything
away. ne is tempted to say that minute are a cheap iquor of
which they can never get enough, that they are tipsy with time.)
Ifonthe street a scene is being shot for a hm, they forget where
theyaregoingandwhy,andfoow thecamerafor hours, arriving
at the omce distraught. In his use oftime, therefore, the Russian
wiremain 'Asiatic" ongestofa. nceI neededto be wakened
atseveninthe morning. 'Pease knocktomorrowatseven." This
eicited from the hote porter the foowing Shakespearean mono-
ogue. 'If we think ofit we sha wake you, but if we do not
whenwedonot thinkofit. Thenwe do notwakepeope. We are
undernoobigation, ofcourse,butifitcrossesourmind, wedoit.
thatdown. You see, I am putting the message therewherehe wi
hndit. fcourse, ifhedoenot hnd it, thenhe wi notwake you.
But usuay we do wake peope. " The rea unit of time is the
seichas. That means 'atonce". You can hearit ten, twenty, thirty
times, and wait hours, days, or weeks unti the promise is carried
out. just you sedom hear the answer 'no". Negative repies
aree6totime. Time catastrophes, timecoisionsare therefore
much the order ofthe day the remon/e. They make each hour
superabundant, each day exhausting, each ife a moment.

Trave by streetcar in Moscow is above a a tactica experience.

Here the newcomer earns perhaps most quicky ofa to adapt
himsefto the curious tempo ofthis cityand to the rhythm ofits
peasantpopuation. And thecompeteinterpenetrationoftechno-
ogicaandprimitivemodeofife, thisword-historicaexperiment
in the new Russia, is iustrated in miniature bya streetcar ride.
The conductressesstandfur-wrappedat theirpaceikeSamoyed
women on a seigh. A tenacious shoving and barging during the
boardingofa vehice usuayoveroadedto the point ofbursting
takes pace without a sound and with great cordiaity. I have
neverheard an angryword on these occasions.) nce everyone is
inside, the migration begins in earnest. Through the ice-covered
Moscow 191
Ifyoudohndout,itisofittcavai.Thcwaytothccxitis bockcd
by a human wcdgc. Sincc you must board at thc rcar but aight
at thc front, you havc to thrcad your way through this mass.
Howcvcr, convcyancc usuay occun in batchcs , at important
stops thc vchicc is amost compctcy cmpticd. Thus cvcn thc
tramcin Moscowis to aargccxtcntamass phcnomcnon. 5 onc
can cncountcrwhoc caravans ofscighs bocking thc strcct on a
ongrow bccausc oads that rcquirc a truck arc bcing stackcd on
hvc or six argc scighs. Thc scighs hcrc takc thc horsc into
considcration hrst and thcn thc passcngcr. Thcy do not know thc
sightcstsupcruity. A fccding sackfor thcnags, a bankct for thc
passcngcrand thatisa. Thcrcisroomfornotmorcthantwoon
thc narrow bcnch, and it has no back uncss you arc wiing
so to dcscribc aowrai) , you mustkccpagoodbaanccon sharp
corncrs. Lvcrything is bascd on thc assumption of thc highcst
vcocity, ongjourncys in thc codarchardto bcar and distanccs
in this gigantic viagc immcasurabc. Thc izvozshchik drivcs his
vchicccosctothcsidcwalk. Thc passcngcru not cnthroncd high
up, hcooksoutonthcsamccvccvcryonccscandbrushcsthc
passcrs-bywithhissccvc. Lvcnthisisanincomparabccxpcricncc
for thc scnscoftouch. Whcrc Luropcans, on thcir rapidjourncys,
cnjoy supcriority, dominancc ovcr thc masscs, thc Muscovitc in
thc ittc scigh is coscly mingcd withpcopc and things. Ifhc has
abox, achid, orabaskct to takcwith himforathis thc scigh
is thc chcapcst mcans oftransporthc is truy wcdgcd into thc
strcctbustc.Nocondcsccndinggazc .atcndcr,swiftbrushingaong
stoncs, pcopc,and horscs. YoufccikcachidgIidingthroughthc
housc on its ittc chair.
t o
Christmas is a fcast of thc Russian forcst. With pincs, candcs,
trcc dccorations, it sctte for many wccks in thc strccts, for thc
advcnt of Orcck rthodox Christians ovcrap thc Christmas of
thosc Russianswhocccbratc thc fcast bythc Wcstcrn, thatis thc
ncw, omcia cacndar. Nowhcrc docs onc scc Christm trccs
morebeautifuy decorated. Litte boats, birds, hshes, houses, and
fruit crowd the street stas and shops, and every year about this
timetheKustarny Museumfor RegionaArthodsakindoftrade
fair for a this. At a crossroads I found a woman seing tree
decorations. The gassbas, yeow and red, ginted in the sun, it
wasike an enchanted appe basket in which red and yeow were
dividedamongdierentfruit. Pinesare drawn throughthestreets
onsowseighs. Thesmaeronearetrimmedonywithsikbows ,
ittepinewithbue, pink,andgreenribbonsstandon thecorners.
te how they come from deep in the forests ofRussia. It u as if
ony under Russian hands does wood put forth such uxuriant
greenness. Itturnsgreenand thenreddensandpuuonacoatof
god, ares sky-bue and petrihes back. 'Red" and 'beautifu'
arein od| Russian one word. Certainy the gowing ogs in the
stove are themost magica metamorphosis ofthe Russian forest.
But radiance is captured in a the wood that the peasant carves
and paints. And when varnished, it is hre frozen in a coours.
Yeow and red on the baaaika, back and green on the itte
garmoshka for chidren, andeveryshade in the thirty-sixeggsthat
aretheheavyitteboxewithscaretinteriors . on the outside, on
a geaming-back background, a picture. !nder the tsan this
industry was on the point of extinction. Now, beside new
miniatures, the od, god-embeished image are again emerging
from peasant ife. A troika with its three horses races through the
night, or a gir in a sea-bue dress stands at night beside green
haring bushes, waiting for her over. No nightofterror is as dark
as this durabe acquer nightin whosewomb a that appeaninit
is enfoded. I sawa box with a pictureofa seated woman seing
cigarettes. Beside her stands a chid who wants to take one.
Pitch-backnighthere,too.Buton therightastoneandon theeft
a eahe tree are discernibe. n the woman's apron u the word
Mossel'prom. She u the Soviet 'Madonna with the Cigarettes'.
Moscow 193

Oreen is the supreme uxury ofthe Moscow winter. But it shines
from the shopin the Petrovka not hafas beautifuy as the paper
they are the ony wares to have no hxed sta and appear now
among groceries, now among textie goods and crockery stas.
But they outshine everything, raw meat, cooured woo, and
geamingdishes. ther bouquets areseenatNewYear's. n the
StrasnaiaSquareIsawasI passedongtwigswithred,white,bue,
greenboomsstuckto them,eachstakofadierentcoour.When
roses, northegiganticaytahoyhockmadeofampshade that
the trader carries through the streets. r the gass cases fu of
the frost here inspires, the peasantcothswith patterns, embroid-
ered in bue woo, imitating ice ferns on windows. Finay, the
chidren'sfairytaeseemsto have survived onyin Moscow. ny
here are there structure made ofnothing but spun sugar, sweet
icices with which the tongue indemnihe itsefagainst the bitter
cod. Mostintimateyofa, snowand owers are unitedin candy
icing, there at ast the marzipan ora seems to have fuhed
entirey Moscow's dream, to boom outofwhiteness.
i z
quaities. Any given amount ofmoney may be converted into a
Sothingsstandonaargescae. Wecanonyspeakofcorruption
where the process is handed to hastiy. It has in the smooth
interpay of press, boards, and trusts a switchgear within the
imits of which it remains entirey ega. The Soviet state has
power for the Party, and eave money to the NLP man. In the
eyes ofany Partyfunctionary, even the highest, toput something
aside, to secure the 'future', even ifony 'for the chidren', is
the bare minimum for materia existenceit does m practicay,
without actua obigation. n the other hand, it controIs their
furtherearningsand setsanupper imitoftwohundred and hfty
rubes on their monthy income. This can be increased soey
through iterary activity aongside one`s profession. To such
discipIine the ife of the ruing ca is subjected. However, the
powerofthe ruing authoritieis by no means identica with their
possessions. Russia is today notonya ca butasoa caste state.
Caste statethat means that the socia status of a citizen is
determined notbythevisibe exteriorofhisexistencehiscothes
oriving pacebutexcusivey byhisreationstothe Party. This
isasodecisive for thosewhodo notdirectybeongtoit.To them,
too,jobsareopento theextentthattheydo notovertyrepudiate
the regime. Between them, too, the most precise distinctions are
made. But however exaggeratedor obsoetethe Luropean
conception ofthe omciasuppression ofnonconformists in Russia
may on the one hand be, on the other, no one iving abroad has
any idea ofthe terribe socia ostracism to which the NLP man
is here subjected. The sience, the mistrust, perceptibe not ony
between strangers, coud not otherwise b expained. !fyou ask a
superhcia acquaintance here about his impressions of however
unimportant apay, howevertrivia a hm, you may expect stock
phrasesinrepy.'Wesayhere. . . "or'Theconvictionisprevaent
here " A judgmentis weighedinnumerabe times before being
uttered to more distant contacts. For at any time the Party can
casuay, unobtrusivey changeits ine in Pravda, and no one ikes
to see himsefdisavowed. Because a reiabe poitica outook, if
not theony good, is for most peope the ony guarantee ofother
goods,everyoneuseshisnameand hisvoiceb cautiousythatthe
citizen with a democratic tum of mind cannot understand him.
Two cose acquaintances are havingaconversation. !n the course
ofitoneofthemsays . 'Thatfeow Mikhaiovichw inmyomce
yesterday ooking for a job. He said he knew you. " 'He is an
exceentcomrade,punctuaandhard-working. " They change the
Moscow 19
subject. But as they part the hrst says, 'Woud you b kind
enough to give mea fewwordson that Mikhaiovich in writing?'
Cass rue had adopted symbos that serve to characterize the
peope aso enjoy istening to it in Russia is not surprising. But
dancingto it isforbidden. Itiskeptbehindgass, as itwere, ikea
|righty cooured, poisonous reptie, and m appean as an attrac-
tion in revues. Yetawaysa symbo ofthe 'bourgeois'. It is one
ofthecrude stageseuwith the aid ofwhich, forpropagandapur-
poses, a grotesque image ofthe bourgeois type is constructed. In
reaity the image is oIten merey ridicuous, the discipine and
competence ofthe adversary being overooked. In this distorted
view of the bourgeois a nationaistic moment is present. Russia
was the possession ofthe tsar indeed, anyone waking past the
endessypied-upvauabesintheKremincoections is tempted
to say,
possession') . The peope, however, have becomeover-
night his immeasurabyweathy heirs. They now set about draw-
ing up a grand inventory oftheir human and territoria weath.
Andtheyundertakethisworkintheconsciousneof havingaready
performed unimaginaby dimcut tasks, and buit up, against the
hostiityofhaftheword, thenewsystemofpower. Inadmiration
for this nationa achievement a Russians are united. It is this
reversa ofthe power structure that make ife heresoheavywith
content. Itis competeinitsefand rich in events, as poor, and
inthe same breath fu ofprospects, agod digger's ifeon the
Kondike. From eary ti ate peope dig for power. A the com-
binations ofour eading hgure are meagre in comprison to the
counte consteations that here confront the individua in the
course ofa month. True, a certainintoxication can resut, M that
a ife without meetings and committees, debates, resoutions, and
votes and athesearewarsor ateastmanoeuvres ofthewito
power) cannoongerbimagined. WhatdoeitmatterRussia's
nextgenerationwib adj usted to thisexistence. Its heath, how-
ever, is subject to one indispensabe condition. that never as one
dayhappenedeventotheChurch) shoudaback marketofpower
beopened. Shoud the Luropean correationofpower and money
penetrate Russia, too, then perhap not the country, perhap not
even the Party, but Communism in Russia woud b ost. People
here have not yet deveoped Luropean consumer concepts and
consumer needs. The reasom for this are above a economic.
Yet it is possibe that in addition an astute Party stratagem is
invoved. to equa the eve ofconsumption in Westen Lurope,
the trial by hre of the Boshevik bureaucracy, at a freey chosen
moment, steeedandwiththeabsoutecertaintyofvictory.
t g
Inthe RedArmy Cubat the Kremin,amapofLurophangson
the wa. Beside it is a hande. When this hande is turned, the
Lenin passed in the course ofhis ife, itte eectric ights ash. At
Simbirsk, where he w born, at Kazan, Petersburg, Oeneva,
Paris, Cracow, Zurich, Moscow, up to the pace of his death,
Oorki. ther townsarenot marked. Thecontoursofthis wooden
reiefmap are rectiinear, anguar, schematic. n it Lenin's ife
resembe a campaignofcoonia conquest acro Lurope. Russia
isbeginningtotakeshapefor themanofthepeope. nthestreet,
the snow, ie map ofthe SFSR*, pied up bystreet vendors who
oer them for sae. Meyerhod use a map in D. E. (Here with
Europe !) on it the West is a compicated system of itte Russian
new Russian iconic cut as Lenin's portrait. Quite certainy the
strong nationa feeing that Boshevism has given a Russians
without distinction h conferred a new reaity on the map of
Lurope. Theywant tomeasure, compare, and perhapenjoythat
intoxication with grandeurwhich is induced by the mere sight of
Russia, citizens can ony b urgenty advised to ook at their
country on the mapofneighbouringstates, tostudy Oermany on
a map ofPoand, France, or even Denmark, but a Luropeans
ought tosee, on amapofRussia, their itte and as afrayed, ner-
vous territoryfar out tothe west.
Soviet Federated Socialist Republic [NLB].
Moscow 197
What hgurc doe thc man of cttcn cut M a country whcrc his
cmpoycris thc proctariat? Thc thcorcticiansofBoshcvism strcss
how widcy thc situation of thc proctariat in Russia aItcr this
succcssfuI rcvoution dicrs from that ofthc bourgcoisic in i ;8g.
At that timc thc victorious cass, bcforc it attaincd powcr, had
sccurcd for itscfin struggcs asting dccadcs thc contro of thc
cutura apparatus. Intccctuaorganization,cducation, hadong
bccn pcrvadcd by thc idcas ofthc third cstatc, and thc mcnta
struggc for cmancipation was fought out bcforc thc poitica. In
prcscnt-day Russiait is quitcdicrcnt. Formiionsuponmiions
ofiitcratcs, thc foundationsofagcncracducationhavcycttobc
aid. Thisis anationa, Russian task. Prc-rcvoutionary cducation
inRussiawas, howcvcr, cntircy unspccihc, Luropcan. Thc Luro-
pcan momcnt in highcr cducation, and thc nationa on thc cc-
mcntary cvc, arc in Russia sccking an accommodation. That
is onc sidcofthc cducationa qucstion. n thcothcrthcvictoryof
thc Rcvoution has in many arcas accccratcd thc procc of
Luropcanization. Thcrc arc writcrs ikc Piniak who scc in I
Boshcvism thc crowning of thc work of Pctcr thc Orcat. In thc
tcchnica arca this tcndcncy, dcqitc a thc advcnture of its
caricstycars, is prcsumaby surc ofvictorysooncroratcr. Notso
inthcintccctuaandscicntihcarcas. Itisnow apparcntinRussia
that Luropcan vaue arc bcing popuarizcd injust thc distortcd,
dcsoating form that thcy owc hnay to impcriaism. Thc sccond
acadcmic thcatrca statc-supportcd institutionis putting on a
pcrformancc of thc Orestei in which a dusty antiquiy struts
as thc marbc-stigcsturc is not ony corrupt in itscI, but aso a
copy ofCourt acting in rcvoutionary Moscow, it hasa sti morc
mcanchoy ccct than in Stuttgart or Anhat. Thc Russian
Acadcmy ofScicncc hfor its part madc a man ikc Wazcan
avcragc spccimcn ofthc modcm acadcmic bel esprit-a mcmbcr.
Probaby thc ony cutura conditions in thc Wcst for which
Russia Iias a ivcy cnough undcrstanding for disagrccmcnt with
it to b prohtabc, arc thosc of Amcrica. In contrast, cutura
rapprochemen such without the foundation ofthe most concrete
economic and poitica community) is an interest of the pacihst
varietyofimperiaism, benehts ony gossiping busy-bodies, andis
for Russia a symptom ofrestoration. The countryis isoated from
the West e by frontiers and censorship than by the intensity of
an existence that is beyond a|| comparison with the Luropean.
Statedmore precisey. contact with theoutsideword is through
the Party and primariy concerns poitica questions. The od
bourgeoisiehbeenannihiated,thenewis neither materiaynor
inteectuay in a position to estabish externa reations. !n-
doubtedy Russians know far e about the outside word than
foreignen withthe possibe exception of the Romanticcountries)
knowaboutRussia. IfaninuentiaRussianmentionsProustand
Bronnen in the same breath authors who take their subject
matter from the area ofsexua probems, this shows ceary the
foreshortenedperspectiveinwhich Luropean mattenappearfrom
here. But if one of Russia's eading authors, in conversation,
quoteShakespeareasoneofthe greatpoetswhowrote beforethe
from thecompetey changed conditionsaectingRussianwriting
asa whoe. These and dogmas that in Luropeadmittedy ony
for the ast two centurieshave been regarded aien to art and
beneath discussion by men ofetters are decisive in iterary criti-
cism and production in the new Russia. Message and subject
matteraredecaredofprimaryimportance. Forma controversies
sti payed a not inconsiderabe part at the time ofthe civi war.
matter, not form, decide the revoutionary or counter-revou-
tionary attitude ofa work. Such doctrine cut the ground from
underthewriter'sfeetjust irrevocaby theeconomyhdone
on themateria pane. InthisRussiais aheadofWestemdeveop-
mentsbut not as far ahead is beieved. For sooner or ater,
with the midde casse who are being ground to piece by the
strugge betwecn capita and abour, the 'freeance" writer must
aso disappear. In Russia the proce is compete. the inteectua
isabovea 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
ruingcass. fhisvariousorganizationsthemostprominentis the
generaassociationofproetarianwritersinRussia. Itsupportsthe
notionofdictatorshipevenin thehedofinteectua creation. In
thisit takesaccountofRussianreaity. Thetransferofthementa
means ofproduction into pubic ownership can be distinguished
ony hctitiousy from that ofthe materia means. Tobegin with,
the proetarian can be trained in the use ofboth ony under the
Now and again onecomes acro streetcars painted alover with
pictures offactories, mass meetings, red regiments, Communist
agitators. These are gifts from the personne ofa factory to the
Moscow Soviet. These vehices carry the ony poitica posters
sti|| to b seeninMoscow, buttheyarebyfar themostinteresting.
For nowhere are more nave commercia posters to be seen than
here. The wretched eve of pictoria advertising is the ony
simiarity between Paris and Moscow. Counte was around
churches and monasteries oer on a sides the hnest surfaces for
posters. But the constructivists, suprematists, abstractivists who
under wartime Communism put theirgraphic propagandaat the
service ofthe Revoution have ong since been dismissed. Today
ony bana carity is demanded. Most ofthese posters repe the
Westerner. But Moscow shops are inviting, they have something
ofthetavenabout them. Theshopsignspointatrightangeinto
the street, otherwise ony od inn signs do, or goden barbers'
basins, or a top hat before a hatter's. Aso, the ast charming,
unspoied moti that remain are most ikey to b |ound here.
Shoes faing outofa basket, a Pomeranian running away with a
sanda in his mouth. Pendants before the entrance ofa Turkish
kitchen. gentemen, each with a fez adorning his head and each
at his own itte tabe. Catering to a primitive taste, advertising
is sti tied to narrative, exampe, or anecdote. In contrast, the
of which it shows the hrm capabe. Here amost every ad aso
specihes the commodity in question. The grand, showy device is
aien to commerce. The city, M inventive in abbreviations ofa
kinds, doe not yet possess the simpestbrand names. Ien
ookedatitthroughoneofthe giganticpairsofbuespectacethat
project from opticians' shop ike signposts. From the gateways,
on the frame of front doors, in back, bue, yeow, and red
ettersofvaryingsizes anarrow, a pictureofbootsor freshy-
ironed washing, a won step or a soid staircasea sienty
determined, contentious ife accosts the passer-by. ne must ride
through the streets on the streetcar to perceive how this strugge
is continued upward through the various stories, hnay to reach
its decisive phase on the rooI That height ony the strongest,
youngestsogansandsigns attain. nyfrom an airpane doesone
have aviewofthe industria cite ofthe city, the hm and auto-
mobieindustries. Mosty,however,therooofMoscowareaife-
ewasteand, having neitherthe dazzing eectricsignsofBerin,
northeforest ofchimneys ofParis, nor the sunny soitude ofthe
rooIopsofgreatcities in the South.
r 6
Anyone entering a Russian cassroom for the hrst time wi stop
shortin surprise. Thewasarecrammedwith pictures, drawings,
daiy donate their own work gfts to the coective. Red pre-
dominates, they are pervaded by Soviet embems and heads of
Lenin. Something simiar u to b seen in many cubs. Wa
newspapers are for grownups schemata of the same coective
formofexpression. Theycameintobeingunder thepressureofthe
civ war, when in many paces neither newspaper nor printing
inkw avaiabe. Todaytheyarean obigatorypartofthe pubic
ife offactories. LveryLenin niche h itswanewspaper, which
toais thenavecheerfuness . coourfu picturesinterspersedwith
proseandverses. Thenewspaperu the chroniceofthe coective.
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
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.
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
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,
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.
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
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.
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
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
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,
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
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-
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
/ 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
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 fgurescitizens, 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
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 usfor
les egoistic purposesthat 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.
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",
"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
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 churchs.
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 ?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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 .
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.
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.
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-
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.
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,
"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
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 faade 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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
trizes, 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
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
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
matteron this evanescent voice the ephemeral work of Kraus is
modelled. Angelusthat is the messenger in the old engravings.
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
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
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
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

it fulflled a dream that had s
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
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
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.
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
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-
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
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
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
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
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, whle 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-
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
it over as one turns

ver soil. For the matter itself is only a

deposit, a stratum, which


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
the manner of a narrative or still 1; that of
eport, but must,
the strict
st epic and rh
apsodic m
anner, assay its spade in ever
new places, and in the old ones delve to ever-de
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
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
amosphere 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
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
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
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,
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
amire, 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 .
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
activity; something of the composure of the rich people whose
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
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
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
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

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

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
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
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
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
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
ep(.e-time if no image appear on the plate of remembrance.
A Berlin Chronicle 3
More frequent, perhaps, are the cases when the half-light of habit

late the necessa
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
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
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
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
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? Ajust a they
cause us t

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.
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. "
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.
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 541542. Cited in
Gustav Mayer, Friedrich Engels, Vol II, Friedrich Engels und de Aufstieg de Arbeiter
bewegung in Europa, Berlin,
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 .
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
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 4546.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
"A cultural historian who takes his task seriously must always write for the
masses." (Erotische Kunst, II, Foreword.)
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian
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
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
. Korn, "Proletariat und Klassik", Die Neue Zeit, XXVI/II, Stuttgart 1 908,
41 4-41 5.
1 2
See August Bebel, Die Frau und der Sozialismus, Stuttgart 1 891 ,
1 77-1 79 and
333-336, on the changes in housework efected by technology, and
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.
, ,
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
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.
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
, ,
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.
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
' 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
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. "
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.
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
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
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.
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
, ,
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
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,
26 Karikatur, I,
27 Dachreiter,
Die grossen Meister der Erotik, P 1 1 5.
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian
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,
30 Erotische Kunst, II, P 1 86.
prevails in his analysis as well. The course of art history is seen as
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
, ,
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
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
, ,
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.
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.
, ,
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.
, ,
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.
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
, ,
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
Jacobinism, whose memorial is Schlosser's world history, which
Fuchs came to know in his youth.
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
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.
, ,
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
, ,
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
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.
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.
, ,
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
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, Eri nzunJ
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
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.
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.
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.
, ,
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
, ,
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.
Erich Klossowski, Honore Daumier, Munich I g08, p 1 1 3.
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
"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,
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
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
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,
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,
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
Franois 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) ,
Hebel, Johann Peter, 239, 262, 263
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 350,
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 ,
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,
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,
Matkowsky, Adalbert, 333
Max, A.
, 355n,
I n
Mehring, Franz,
:H9. :{:,o. :{:,:i,
360n, 364 and n, 37 I
Meidner, Ludwig, 3 I I
Meyer, Gustav, 350n
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 ) ,

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
Pompey, 320, 32 I
Porta, Giovanni Battista, 246
Pottner, Emile, 36 II
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 II
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,
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