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Kluge’s texts rarely attempt to represent suffering, and the language of the texts often deliberately mystifies it: more often than not the perspective is that of the persecutors, who unmask themselves in their very language.47 The same could be said of Lernprozesse, even though the “four comrades” are at one point tortured by Chinese captors before becoming agents of torture for a while themselves. If Kluge’s “learning processes” give us an account of futurity by looking forward and backward simultaneously, this is not exactly a story about a truly alternative world or about social predictability. In this sense Kluge’s historicizing approach to futurity seems to have little to do with either socialist-style “prognostics” or even Ernst Bloch’s “anticipatory consciousness” of hope as a historical force for justice.48 A different perspective on the approach to futurity in Kluge’s Lernprozesse opens up if we consider the text’s material form. The indispensable principle of montage in Kluge’s work is widely remarked, even though, as Rainer Stollmann contends, we perhaps as yet have “no concepts” for Kluge’s writerly forms.49 According to David Roberts, who has written incisively on the centrality of montage in Kluge’s work overall, however, the printed page in the author’s prose is always typographically “broken up” (aufgebrochen), forms and perspectives mixed. “Photographs, quotaBowie. “New Histories” (see note 34). pp.
Ernst Bloch. Das Prinzip Hoffnung. Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp, 1959. On Prognostik in the GDR, see Fritzsche. “East Germany’s Werkstatt Zukunft ” (see note 37).
Rainer Stollmann. “Das Subjektive ist die Form, der Inhalt das Unterscheidungsvermögen: Zu Alexander Kluges Chronik der Gefühle”. (http:// www.dickinson.edu/departments/germn/glossen/heft16/stollmann.html;
February 24, 2006).
Experiment Mars tions, boxed inserts, titles, maps, diagrams, footnotes, documentary raw materials, interviews, the mimicry of fabricated materials, technical jargon, scientific terminology, legal protocols, etc.” collectively highlight a perspectival gap between existing forms of social alienation and alternative forms of social possibility.50 Situating the “pseudo-contradiction” between documentary and literary prose, between objectivity and subjectivity in this formal gap, Roberts elaborates Kluge’s indebtedness to Marx and Brecht for his own model of imaginative counter-history (Gegen-Geschichte).51 Roberts might thus be said to provide the theoretical framework that undergirds other scholarly characterizations of Kluge’s aesthetics of difference as a counterforce to oppressive totalities.52 Roberts also notes that the “decisive historical moment for montage” culminated in the avantgarde movements of the early twentieth century, which saw art as anything but organic and whole.53 What I wish to argue regarding Lernprozesse, however, foregrounds a different relationship to the historical avantgarde in Europe. Kluge’s fractured consideration of increasingly immaterial leftovers in Martian orbit may have less to do with counter-models of history or the status of art than with the material status of human history as one basic building block of any conceivable future. What are the bits and pieces of human need and desire that can be said to sur-vive changing social forms in which such intangible but nonetheless material forces of history are organized? Idiosyncratic interrogation of this question signals both the content and the form of the opening chapter of Kluge’s Lernprozesse. This is more about the production of matter from which history could be forged – including in the form of the future – than about counter-histories as such.
In this connection Soviet-era debates about factography in the 1920s may prove more relevant to Kluge’s literary experiment with Mars than avantgarde montage in western Europe. As Devin Fore deftly demonDavid Roberts. “Die Formenwelt des Zusammenhangs: Zur Theorie und Funktion der Montage bei Alexander Kluge”. LiLi: Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik 12.46 (1982): pp. 104-119, here p. 108 et passim. To Roberts’s list we could add, for Lernprozesse, musical notation and song.
Roberts. “Die Formenwelt” (see note 50). pp. 117, 119.
See for example Eshel. “The Past Recaptured?” (see note 41); or Claudia Brauers. “An sich ein Lernprozess ohne tödlichen Ausgang: Alexander Kluges Ästhetik der Lücke”. Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie 115 [Supplement] (1996): pp. 169-178.
Roberts. “Die Formenwelt” (see note 50). p. 116.
40 Leslie A. Adelson strates in pioneering research that reassesses the status of documentary styles in modernist aesthetics and socialist realism alike, German and Soviet literatures of the interwar years have more in common than was long thought to be the case, precisely because of non-mimetic approaches to reportage and documentary in both.54 While scholarship on Russian Futurism often cites the importance of the concept faktura, which many Futurists used to stress the materiality of form in their work (as in “texture”, a term derived from painting) – and Kluge scholarship also indexes the mixed “Faktur” of the author’s textual montage – Fore gives us a different futurist vocabulary to entertain.55 Rather than stressing the materialist aesthetics of Russian Futurists such as Velimir Khlebnikov and Vladimir Mayakovsky (who continued to write poetry rather than “production art” by some accounts), Fore concentrates on avantgarde theorists such as Nikolai Chuzhak and Sergei Tret’iakov. The latter were themselves interested in factography and not merely faktura for exploring the material effects of word arts.56 As Fore puts it, there was a theoretical impasse among Russian Futurists in the Soviet Union in the
The balkanization of aesthetic production into the tectonic extensivity of ‘building’ and the psychic intensivity of ‘writing’ subscribes to a world view that categorically distinguishes between phenomenal experience and language.
On this point, see especially Devin Alden Fore. “‘All the Graphs’: Soviet and Weimar Documentary Between the Wars”. Diss. Columbia University, 2005.
See also the special issue of October on Soviet factography, edited by Fore, which includes Fore’s stellar article: “The Operative Word in Soviet Factography”. October 118 (Fall 2006): pp. 95-131. I rely here on Fore’s knowledge of original Russian materials, many of which have become archivally accessible only since 1989. Fore situates his own work “within a larger body of recent scholarly work that is reorienting studies of Modernism toward the east” (“‘All the Graphs’”. p. 4).
On faktura in Futurist aesthetics, see Perloff. The Futurist Moment (see note 9).
pp. 69, 126. On Kluge, see Christian Schulte. “Die Lust aufs Unwahrscheinliche: Alexander Kluges ‘Chronik der Gefühle’”. Merkur: Deutsche Zeitschrift für europäisches Denken 55.4 (April 2001): pp. 344-350, here p. 344.
Fore cites Benjamin H.D. Buchloh as a “key essay” in this regard. See: Buchloh. “From Faktura to Factography”. October 30 (Fall 1984): pp. 82-119, (Fore. “The Operative Word” [see note 54], p. 100, note 19). For Chuzhak’s condemnation of Mayakovsky’s poetry as “literary ‘trash’”, because it ostensibly lacked a productivist dimension, see Fore. “The Operative Word”. p. 95.