«Über Gegenwartsliteratur Interpretationen und Interventionen Festschrift für Paul Michael Lützeler zum 65. Geburtstag von ehemaligen StudentInnen ...»
Experiment Mars matter of degree and function, not a matter of absolute separation. Some interplay between past histories and futuristic modalities is thus also in evidence in the Martian experiments under discussion here. For example, many of the historical “learning processes” in the Kluge text revolve around “four comrades” (vier Kameraden) – members of the German Wehrmacht – who escape the military offensive against Stalingrad in January 1943 by heading east, “on foot, in the direction of China somehow”.29 Captured by Chinese nationalists a few months later, Boltzmann, Zwicki, Dorfmann, and von Ungern-Sternberg are described as “torn-up figures” who nonetheless function throughout the multifaceted narrative as experts in survival. Born in the birth year of the Third Reich, they survive National Socialism, military battles, torture, and slavery in the twentieth century and then the near-complete destruction of Earth in the socalled Black War of 2011.
This piecemeal interrogation of the past from an imagined future often takes the form of paratextual matter. For example, one section heading that appears as a direct quotation but is never actually attributed to a voice of articulation informs us: “‘The homeland [Heimat] was lost to us in Stalingrad already.’”32 In this example, the loss of a German configuration of homeland is tied retroactively to the loss of a planetary home for human existence. In another example of paratextual interventions, many of which appear as literal footnotes to the ostensible story-line, Zwicki questions Dorfmann’s reported memory about the hairy nape of one casualty’s neck. Dorfmann responds in the same footnote: “It is necesKluge. Lernprozesse (see note 4). p. 843.
Kluge. Lernprozesse (see note 4). pp. 850 and 852.
Kluge. Lernprozesse (see note 4). p. 838.
Kluge. Lernprozesse (see note 4). p. 842.
34 Leslie A. Adelson sary to give the report some flesh and blood”.33 This is a telling remark, for this experimental tale of bits and pieces reaching from Germany to Mars seems to ask what happens to the material substance of human experience when matter as such is vastly transformed. The implied question is at once highly abstract and discerningly sensual, a by-product in fiction of understanding history literally as a kind of “long-distance” sense.34 Near the chapter’s conclusion, a seemingly authoritative voice asserts: “Human substance is not destroyed but thickened instead”.35 This would certainly appear to complicate the production of new ethnoscapes in any future-oriented sense. To repeat Appadurai’s definition, an ethnoscape is “the landscape of persons who constitute the shifting world in which we live”. In Kluge’s “theory-fiction”, we cannot help but note, neither landscapes, nor persons, nor worlds survive intact.
The threat of planetary destruction and humankind’s cataclysmic demise puts Kluge’s “learning processes” in the conjoined realms of sciKluge. Lernprozesse (see note 4). p. 837, see note 9. One expert on Kluge who is especially well versed in the author’s fondness for puns suggests that the text’s many references to feet entail allusions to the “‘quantum mechanics’ […] of history”, since the word quanta means feet. See Rainer Stollmann.
“Schwarzer Krieg, endlos: Erfahrung und Selbsterhaltung in Alexander Kluges ‘Lernprozesse mit tödlichem Ausgang’”. Text und Kontext 12.2 (1984) [Special Issue on Zukunftsbilder in der deutschen Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts]:
pp. 349-369. See Stollmann as well for important insights into puns related to the names of the four comrades (pp. 363-366). Rosenkranz claims that the primary function of the survival experts is to provide footnote commentary on events that they themselves recapitulate (Ambivalenzen [see note 4], p. 61).
Negt and Kluge elaborated related thoughts on subjective relationships to history as a form of labor in Geschichte und Eigensinn (see note 3). For summative commentary, see Leslie A. Adelson. Making Bodies, Making History: Feminism and German Identity. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1993. pp. 5-13. For incisive remarks on Kluge’s fiction as an interrogation of the relationship between socio-historical abstraction and sensory experience, see Andrew Bowie.
“New Histories: Aspects of the Prose of Alexander Kluge”. Journal of European Studies 12 (1982): pp. 180-208.
Kluge. Lernprozesse (see note 4). p. 854. Stollmann, “Schwarzer Krieg, endlos”, reads Lernprozesse as “an odyssey of self-preservation, annihilation, self-destruction” (see note 33. p. 356), but in my view the text probes abstract questions about the elusive substance of historical experience instead. For Kluge, such learning processes cannot be cast as stories about individual persons or human groups as such, not even about opportunistic ones.
Experiment Mars ence fiction and dystopian literature.36 While categorical relationships and distinctions between popular forms of science fiction and classical models of utopian literature generally are often disputed, some scholars are clearly inclined to consider utopian fiction a form of science fiction, albeit one that stresses social theory over scientific exploration in alternative worlds.37 According to Adam Roberts, the overall “history of science fiction” pivots in the main on “‘extraordinary voyages’” through space, time, and technology. Although interplanetary travel represents a common motif, the central feature of science fiction in Roberts’s view is a “radical Will to Otherness, a fascination with the outer reaches of imaginative possibility”. This is a kind of world-building, “in which writers construe alternative but self-consistent societies”.38 Jameson too is interested in utopian functions of science fiction as “a representational Stollmann’s article on Lernprozesse appeared in both a volume on “images of the future” (see note 33) and an anthology on “visions of apocalypse”. For the latter, see Apokalypse: Weltuntergangsvisionen in der Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts. Ed. Gunter E. Grimm, Werner Faulstich and Peter Kuon. Frankfurt/M.: suhrkamp taschenbuch materialien, 1986. pp. 148-167. Science fiction elements in Kluge’s work are frequently noted. Rosenkranz notes them as well but explicitly dismisses the notion that Kluge writes in an apocalyptic vein because of what she considers the author’s ironic style. According to Rosenkranz, this allows Kluge to analyze possible alternatives to catastrophic reality (Ambivalenzen. [see note 4] p. 32).
See Adam Roberts. The History of Science Fiction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. p. viii; and Fredric Jameson. Archaeologies of the Future (see note 2), which focuses precisely on the utopian functions of science-fiction literature.
For an incisive study of science fiction in the GDR, where the concept of utopia was politically controversial (as it was throughout communist Europe), see Sonja Fritzsche. Science Fiction Literature in East Germany. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2006. On East German film in this regard, see Sonja Fritzsche. “East Germany’s Werkstatt Zukunft: Futurology and the Science Fiction Films of defa-futurum”. German Studies Review 29.2 (2006): pp. 367-386. On science fiction more generally, see John Clute and Peter Nicholls. Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. 2nd ed. London: Orbit, 1993.
Roberts. The History of Science Fiction (see note 37). pp. vii-viii. Borrowing the phrase “extraordinary voyages” from Jules Verne, Roberts is at pains to define science fiction historically “as that form of fantastic romance in which magic has been replaced by the materialist discourses of science” (p. xi). By his account, the category of the extraordinary thus displaces the category of the supernatural.
36 Leslie A. Adelson meditation on radical difference, radical otherness, and on the systemic nature of the social totality”. With the collapse of communism in Europe, according to Jameson, this meditation figures anew.39 The Lernprozesse published in 1973 and again in 2000 can no doubt be interpreted in relation to the cold war as well as hot ones, as can Karpat and Şenocak’s poetic meditation on Nâzım Hikmet en route to Mars. But world-building and “self-consistent societies” hardly apply to the Kluge text, where worlds, bodies, societies, and even rocket ships are constantly falling or being blown apart.
Rather than reading Lernprozesse as an exemplum of science fiction, I propose to read its bits and pieces as a mode of historical fiction concerned with the production of futurity. (This may at times be related to but should not be confused with the production of a just society.) What could the production of futurity possibly mean? In an acceptance speech on the occasion of yet another literary prize in Germany – in 1985 – Kluge once characterized writing as a “laboratory” of the imagination, a laboratory in which writers serve as “guardians of the last left-over bits of […] the grammar of time”, that is to say, “guardians of the difference” between past, present, and future.40 Reading Kluge’s idiosyncratic prose fiction in relationship to history and historiography is of course nothing new. Other scholars have offered many important insights in this vein, though approaches and conclusions on the subject of history in Kluge’s writing laboratory vary widely. Amir Eshel has recently pitted Alexander Kluge’s Chronik der Gefühle against Günter Grass’s Mein Jahrhundert, for example, to explore “two alternative paradigms” for “the poetic figuration of the historical” in postwar German literature.41 For Arcaheologies of the Future. (see note 2). p. xii.
Alexander Kluge. “Wächter der Differenz: Rede zur Verleihung des KleistPreises”. Kleist-Jahrbuch 1986. Ed. Hans Joachim Kreutzer. Berlin: Erich Schmidt, 1986. pp. 25-37, here pp. 26, 37. In this same speech Kluge likens the responsibilities of writers to those of physicists in the age of “star wars” initiatives. Horrified by a television advertisement that aimed at children by downplaying the danger of such wars, Kluge resorts to English to describe the misleading image of a rainbow acting as a protective shield: “And there are bouncing the rockets” (p. 34).
Amir Eshel. “The Past Recaptured? Günter Grass’s Mein Jahrhundert and Alexander Kluge’s Chronik der Gefühle”. Gegenwartsliteratur: Ein germanistisches Jahrbuch 1 (2002): pp. 63-86, here p. 64. Eshel’s particular focus regarding Kluge’s Chronik is the chapter in Volume I called “Heidegger auf der Krim”.
Experiment Mars Eshel, Grass’s semi-autobiographical retrospective of the twentieth century in 1999 is an Hegelian endeavor to portray the German century “as a cohesive totality”.42 By this account, Kluge’s rendition of “the chaos called history” forestalls any possibility of interpretive totality or “closure”, and Kluge begins to look a lot like Walter Benjamin’s angel of history: “It is not illumination, not the constitution of present or future consciousness, that motivates [Kluge’s] narration, but only the curiosity of a poet standing in front of history’s catastrophic pile of debris”.43 Arguing that 1989 triggered a renewed engagement with writing about hope for Kluge, Eshel observes that the author’s fictional chronicle is built on “emotion” and irony, which together foster reading as “a realm for reflection, a realm of differentiation”.44 For Eshel, Kluge’s ironic style of narrating the past aims to “help prevent […] calamities in the future” that would resemble those of the past.45 While Eshel translates Kluge’s operative principle of Gefühle as “emotion”, the operative translation in Andrew Bowie’s discussion of history in Kluge’s prose would have to be feeling instead. This is because Bowie, who also considers Benjamin’s theses on history “essential reading for a fuller understanding of Kluge”, contends that the author’s writing about history (and the history of wars in particular) revolves around “the genesis of abstraction” in social life as “an object of literary investigation”.46 Bowie ultimately reads Kluge’s literary attention to “the genesis of abEshel. “The Past Recaptured?” (see note 41). p. 72.
Eshel. “The Past Recaptured?” (see note 41). pp. 64-65, 72. See also Christopher Pavsek. “The Storyteller in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: Alexander Kluge’s Reworking of Walter Benjamin”. Found Object 2 (1993): pp. 83Like Winfried Menninghaus, Eshel stresses that Kluge’s writerly materialism is “‘not allied with a speculative philosophy of history, but with an anthropology that oscillates between theory and empiricism’” (p. 83, note 9).
The Menninghaus reference is to “Geschichte und Eigensinn: Zur Hermeneutik-Kritik und Poetik Alexander Kluges”. Geschichte als Literatur: Formen und Grenzen der Repräsentation von Vergangenheit. Ed. Hartmut Eggert, Ulrich Profitlich, and Klaus Scherpe. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1990. pp. 258-272, here p. 262.
Eshel. “The Past Recaptured?” (see note 41). pp. 75-76, 80.
Eshel. “The Past Recaptured?” (see note 41). p. 82. Eshel relies on Linda Hutcheon’s argument that irony conveys “‘an attitude or a feeling’” (p. 80).
Bowie. “New Histories” (see note 34). p. 187 and p. 207, note 10. Bowie discusses a range of writing by Kluge but does not focus on Lernprozesse.
38 Leslie A. Adelson straction” as a critique of the West German project of so-called Vergangenheitsbewältigung, as a critique of attempts to portray the past as if it
could be recapitulated phenomenologically by human characters or readers. For this reason, Bowie says (speaking of Neue Geschichten):