Watched 45 minutes of the 570 minute film-montage that just came out by Alexander Kluge (prolific director and erstwhile legal adviser to Adorno). The whole thing comes in three Dvd’s with an essay booklet (as part of a new series of filmeditions by Suhrkamp (all praise to them)). It is an incredible tour de force, and reminiscent in some ways of his films; highly intellectualistic, with a vast range of intertextual reference to mainly high culture (opera, art, music, theatre, literature). It is a completion of a project conceived, but never completed by Sergej Eisenstein in 1929 (who discussed his ideas with James Joyce, although as Dietmar Dath points out; this was a typical case in which ‘the state of the material, is more interesting than the discussion of the subject[ive agents]’. I.e. they did not have much to say to one another (in person). (Same goes (according to (apocryphal?) anecdotal legacy) for Joyce and Proust, Joyce and Gertrude Stein, Joyce and Hemingway)).
In hour two of the 9.5 hour film, Kluge speaks with novelist Dietmar Dath (who recently published (also with Suhrkamp) the massive, wildly experimental/speculative/futuristic novel Die Abschaffung der Arten). Kluge’s style does not really allow for the use of the word ‘interview’. He is anything but the typical ‘invisible’ interviewer. Kluge asks his questions like an excited child who wants to tell his own story of what happened, yet at the same time can’t wait tot hear the missing bits from his friend. In fact, he formulates few actual questions, since they always come at the end of long introductory sequences, before the end of which, Dath has often interrupted him. Kluge’s interview style is like a mini-crystallization of his filming technique. The man pushes and probes in all directions at once, with an encyclopaedic intellectual fervour (although (interestingly enough for a ‘Marxist’) nearly exclusively referencing High Culture, or (to appropriate Charles Bernstein’s phrase) Official Culture Culture). Unlike some other interviewees in this film (the much younger) Dietmar Dath is a good match for Kluge. Continually, impatiently nodding and mumbling in agreement with his interlocutor, Dath immediately retorts to the proddings with incisive comments or extended monologues.
Both men have a capacity to make associative connections, while still retaining a coherent story. The overall effect is the creation of a sort of dialogical assemblage in which meditations, extrapolations, and theoretical speculations are exchanged at varying speeds, from pensive to infinite.
Some (paraphrased) excerpts from the conversation, which is initiated and branches out from Marx’s question:
“Wenn das Geld denken konnte, wie wurde es sich erklaren?..Kann das Kapital “Ich” sagen?”
Dath: ‘for Joyce (wo)man always already carries all possible experience in him (her), while for Eisenstein freedom is able to grow as the rules of the game are increased. The more parameters, the more space within which to play.’
‘The novel [Ulysses] departs from [Leopold] Bloom and says: ‘it is by departing from Bloom that I understand this day as universal’. Eisenstein departs from the day: ‘departing from the day, I understand my subject as universal.’
Eisenstein’s idea of film as hypertext (me: similar to Walter Benjamin’s Passagenwerken)
Instead of reflection (representation) perhaps we should speak of ‘coordination’, a coordination of action; so that the relation between speech and action is geared towards what we want to do, bring about.
Modernity is for me that time in which suddenly there is space for this question: “what is it that I want?“
It is for this reason that I like the hammer/sickle symbol: the sickle means: I stand in direct relation with nature (I need to stay alive and therefore maintain this homeostatic relation to my environment). The hammer, however, means that I can start processing [labouring] my labour, enjoying the fruits of my labour.
The Mormons justify their need for a book outside of the Bible as follows: picture the Bible on a table, pierced by a nail. In this state, it can be turned all around. A second book (nail) is therefore necessary to keep it steady, i.e. to be able to derive one consistent meaning/message from it…The parallel of this with Marx is: the first nail is Marx/Engels, and for a long time the second nail was the Russians, i.e. Marxism-Leninism. In recent times, this second nail has been extracted and the book is turning freely again. And I think this is a good thing. There are, by now, so many different Marxisms. There is Moishe Postone, who says Marxism is centrally, a critique of industrialization; there is Wolfgang Pohrt who says, on the contrary, it is a philosophy of use-value that hopes that industry can realize certain goals for us (which we have to make happen politically); then there is Mark Lebowitz, who misses the perspective of the actual labour. In any case, Marx is once again being turned in many different directions. And wouldn’t it be nice, if through this re-pluralization of Marxisms, Marxism would become obsolete.
Kluge: ‘Because something completely different happens, namely, the actual movement/change of society.
Dath: The problem is that Marx also offered the ‘devil’s perspective on theology’ so to say. Not the way he wished money/capital would work, but Das Capital nevertheless also contains within it a description of how it simply does work, and what it is capable of.
Das Capital was written from the perspective of capital. And what no one has yet done, and I thought Benjamin would have been able to do well, was rewrite the book from the perspective of the labour force.
Marx and the old Greeks, key words: Epicurus, the Stoics, the sceptics, and finally the Sophists
Rosa Luxembourg “Man muss der Mehreit folgen, auch wenn sie irrt.’: we learn from the grand movements towards which our faulty nature inevitably steers us. A faulty praxis from which we can learn is more valuable than a faultless theory from which nothing remains to be learned.
‘Die Geschichte aller toten Geschlechter liegt wie ein Alp auf den Hirnen der Lebenden.’
Wallace Stevens: ‘What is communism: an instrument for human attentiveness.’
Kluge: ‘Marx said of himself I am not a Marxist, probably because he found the phrase distracting. ‘
Dath: I think it is helpful to think in terms of Pound’s persona (me: similar to Deleuze’s philosophical conceptual personae). One imagines an historical piece that one is playing; in th way that French revolutionaries were ‘Romans’. Marxists are necessary in that moment when there is more than one socialism. In the same way that Darwin is not necessary for there to be biology, so capital will not suddenly ‘disappear ‘ without Marxism. What is necessary is an intensive attentiveness to this process.’
In general relativity there is the idea that where there is mass, spacetime becomes curved. This means that we see light from a star as originating from somewhere else than it actually does. We can ask the question is this principle can’t also be aplied to the Soviet Union: “we want immediately, that which we can only arrive at through historical processes”. They saw the star on the horizon and thought they were already there.
Kluge: When I love someone else, there is more presence of life for both of us. We need new words, new praxis, new habits, a love-politics.
Norman Mailer: Love is not a goal, it is a reward.
Linked love is better than piled love (rhizomatic vs. arborescent).
Dath: I think the world is much less Wagnerian than Shakesperean. Shakspeare is much more fun, so to say.
Kluge: How would you describe love in Shakespeare?
Dath: Don’t ask me to describe love in Shakespeare, that is much too personal/intimate for me. I would rather tell you about a love scene of my own…: One goes to his workplace and gets to know someone. And this workplace was initially only thought of as a place of passing through. But one starts to fall in love with this person and suddenly a completely new decision arises: either I stay and make this transitional place a permanent one, in order to stabilize this love. Or, I can leave this place, in order to stabilize this love; since only then I can find out if this love will only hold if I am at that workplace, or if it is strong enough to function from.