Fragment #11 / Crowds and Power (1960)- Elias Canetti
A SLAVE IS NOT property in the sense that a lifeless thing is property, but as cattle are. He has roughly the same kind of freedom as an animal which is allowed to graze and, on occasion, to beget or bear its young.
The slave must not do this and must not do that, but some things he must do over and over again; and the simpler and more limited these are, the more likely his master is to require them of him. Differentiation of functions need not damage the balance of transformation in a man as long as he is still allowed to carry out a variety of operations, but, as soon as he is restricted to one operation only and, in addition, is expected to get as much as possible done in the shortest possible time-that is, to be “productive” -he becomes what we cannot help describing as a slave.
From the very beginning there must have been two distinct types of slave : the single slave, linked to his master as a dog is, and numbers of slaves together, like cattle in a field, who were, indeed, the earliest of man’s slaves.
The desire to turn men into animals was the principal motive for the development of slavery. It is as difficult to over-estimate its strength as that of the opposite desire : to turn animals into men.
Once men had succeeded in collecting large numbers of slaves, as they collected animals in their herds, the foundations for the tyranny of the state were laid. Nor is there the slightest doubt that a ruler’s desire to own a whole people like slaves or animals grows stronger as their numbers increase.
Masse und Macht
Claassen Verlag GmbH, Hamburgo, 1960
Crowds and Power
Translated from the German by Carol Stewart
The Continuum Publishing Corporation, 1972
Fragment #12 / Conte d’été (1996) – Eric Rohmer
Catastrophe (1982) – Samuel Beckett
Catastrophe is a short play by Samuel Beckett, written in French in 1982 at the invitation of A.I.D.A. (Association Internationale de Défense des Artistes).
A filmed version of Catastrophe was directed by David Mamet for the Beckett on Film project. It starred playwright and Beckett enthusiast Harold Pinter as the Director, and featured the last on-camera appearance of famed British actor, John Gielgud as the Protagonist (he would die only a few weeks later).
Fragmento #9 / THE CURTAIN. An Essay in Seven Parts (2005) – Milan Kundera
History and Value
Let us imagine a contemporary composer writing a sonata that in its form, its harmonies, its melodies resembles Beethoven’s. Let’s even imagine that this sonata is so masterfully made that, if it had actually been by Beethoven, it would count among his greatest works. And yet no matter how magnificent, signed by a contemporary composer it would be laughable. At best its author would be applauded as a virtuoso of pastiche.
What? We feel aesthetic pleasure at a sonata by Beethoven and not at one with the same style and charm if it comes from one of our own contemporaries? Isn’t that the height of hypocrisy? So then the sensation of beauty is not spontaneous, spurred by our sensibility, but instead is cerebral, conditioned by our knowing a date?
No way around it: historical consciousness is so thoroughly inherent in our perception of art that this anachronism (a Beethoven piece written today) would be spontaneously (that is, without the least hypocrisy) felt to be ridiculous, false, incongruous, even monstrous. Our feeling for continuity is so strong that it enters into the perception of any work of art.
(…) In other words: in the absence of aesthetic value, the history of art is just an enormous storehouse of works whose chronologic sequence carries no meaning. And conversely: it is only within the context of an art’s historical evolution that aesthetic value can be seen. (…)
This book was originally published in France as Le Rideau. Essai en sept parties, by Éditions Gallimard
Milan Kundera, Le Rideau, 2005
Translated from the French by Linda Asher, 2005
HarperCollins Publishers, 2007
Fragment #8 / Thomas Bernhard’s Acceptance Speech for the 1967 Austrian State Prize for Literature
Honored Minister, Honored Guests,
There is nothing to praise, nothing to damn, nothing to accuse, but much that is absurd, indeed it is all absurd, when one thinks about death.
We go through life impressed, unimpressed, we cross the scene, everything is interchangeable, we have been schooled more or less effectively in a state where everything is mere props: but it is all an error! We understand: a clueless people, a beautiful country- there are dead fathers or fathers conscientiously without conscience, straightforwardly despicable in the raw basics of their needs…it all makes for a past history that is philosophically significant and unendurable. Our era is feebleminded, the demonic in us a perpetual national prison in which the elements of stupidity and thoughtlessness have become a daily need. The state is a construct eternally on the verge of foundering, the people one that is endlessly condemned to infamy and feeblemindedness, life a state of hopelessness in every philosophy and which will end in universal madness.
We’re Austrians, we’re apathetic, our lives evince the basest disinterest in life, in the workings of nature we represent the future as megalomania.
We have nothing to report except that we are pitiful, brought down by all the imaginative powers of an amalgam of philosophical, economic and machine-driven monotony.
Means to an end when that end is destruction, creatures of agony, everything is explained to us and we understand nothing. We populate a trauma, we are frightened, we have the right to be frightened, we can already see in the dim background the dim shapes of the giants of fear.
What we think is secondhand, what we experience is chaotic, what we are is unclear.
We don’t have to be ashamed, but we are nothing, and we earn nothing but chaos.
In my name and in the name of those here who have also been selected by this jury, I thank all of you.
Fragment #6 / The Arcades Project. H, The Collector. p.211 – Walter Benjamin
Perhaps the most deeply hidden motive of the person who collects can be described this way: he takes up the struggle against dispersion. Right from the start, the great collector is struck by the confusion, by the scatter, in which the things of the world are found. It is the same spectacle that so preoccupied the men of the Baroque; in particular, the world image of the allegorist canmot be explained apart from the passionate, distraught concern with this spectacle. The allegorist is, as it were, the polar opposite of the collector. He has given up the attempt to elucidate things through research into their properties and relations. He dislodges things from their context and, from the outset, relies on his profundity to illuminate their meaning. The collector, by contrast, brings together what belongs together; by keeping in mind their affinities and their succession in time, he can eventually furnish information about his objects. Nevertheless-and this is more important than all the differences that may exist between them-in every collector hides an allegorist, and in every allegorist a collector. As far as the collector is concerned, his collection is never complete; for let him discover just a single piece missing, and everything he’s collected remains a patchwork, which is what things are for allegory from the beginning. On the other hand, the allegorist- for whom objects represent only keywords in a secret dictionary, which will make known their meanings to the initiated-precisely the allegorist can never have enough of things. With him, one thing is so little capable of taking the place of another that no possible reflection suffices to foresee what meaning his profundity might lay claim to for each one of them.
Suhrkamp Verlag. Framkfurt am Main, 1982
The Arcades Project
President and Fellows of Harvard College. 1999
Translated by Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin
L’ascension et la chute de la colonne Vendôme – Domènec, 2013
In 1871 —the year which Marx claims the first independent proletariat insurrection took place— the people of Paris rose up in arms to establish a Commune based on anarchist and socialist principles. One of the first actions of the revolutionary government was a highly symbolic iconoclastic political act: the demolition of the Vendôme Column. This column, which was erected on the orders of Napoleon Bonaparte to celebrate his victory at the battle of Austerlitz and to honour the glory of the imperial army, was considered by the Commune to be “a monument to barbarity, a statement in favour of militarism, a permanent insult from the winners to those who were defeated, and an attack against fraternity.” Following the defeat of the commune at the hands of the reaction forces in 1873, the new president of the Republic ordered the column to be re-erected.
The Pain That’s Yet To Come – Matt Elliot, 2012
Written and composed by Matt Elliott
Directed by Marina Sabio
Album : The Broken Man
Fragment #5 / Part three: The realist (1918) – Hermann Broch, 1932
DISINTEGRATION OF VALUES (6)
The logic of the soldier demands that he shall throw a hand-grenade between the legs of his enemy:
the logic of the army demands in general that all military resources shall be exploited with the utmost rigour and severity, resulting, if necessary, in the extermination of peoples, the demolition of cathedrals, the bombardment of hospitals and operating-theatres:
the logic of the business man demands that all commercial resources shall be exploited with the utmost rigour and efficiency to bring about the destruction of all competition and the sole domination of his own business, whether that be a trading house or a factory or a company or other economic body:
the logic of the painter demands that the principles of painting shall be followed to their conclusions with the utmost rigour and thoroughness, at the peril of producing pictures which are completely esoteric, and comprehensible only by those who produce them:
the logic of the revolutionist demands that the revolutionary impulse shall be pursued with the utmost rigour and thoroughness for the achievement of a revolution as an end in itself, as, indeed, the logic of politicians in general demands that they shall obtain an absolute dictatorship for their political aims:
the logic of the bourgeois climber demands that the watchword “enrichissez-vous” shall be followed with the most absolute and uncompromising rigour:
in this fashion, in this absolute devotion to logical rigour, the Western world has won its achievements,—and with the same thoroughness, the absolute thoroughness that abrogates itself, must it eventually advance ad absurdum:
war is war, l’art pour l’art, in politics there’s no room for compunction, business is business,—all these signify the same thing, all these appertain to the same aggressive and radical spirit, informed by that uncanny, I might almost say that metaphysical, lack of consideration for consequences, that ruthless logic directed on the object and on the object alone, which looks neither to the right nor to the left; and this, all this, is the style of thinking that characterizes our age.
Huguenau oder die Sachlichkeit
Rhein Verlag AG Zurich (Renewal 1952)
The sleepwalkers, a trilogy
Part three: The realist (1918)
Translated from thee german by Willa and Edwin Muir
FIRST VINTAGE INTERNATIONAL EDITION, FEBRUARY 1996