► Light Veins
As Monteverdi’s Messenger at the Automobile Factory
Luigi Nono composed a “sound installation for workers” for the branch of an automobile factory. He used the “sounds of the world of work”, as well as scraps of workers’ marching songs. At first the audience, those involved practically in the process of production, followed him enthusiastically. The time spent on music was taken from their breaks – they were not ungenerous. Some of them said later that they would have preferred piano lessons. Others would have been ready to set up a brass band. They would also have been interested in “revolutionary transformations at the site”, they said. Above all improvements to the workplace and measures to prevent accidents (injuries to the hands and feet) would have been important to them, but these could not be brought about through music. Nono’s tirelessness, which led him to repeat his attempts at infiltrating the working process several times, was based in the certain KNOWLEDGE that he drew from Walter Benjamin’s work, that in the world, and hence in Northern Italy, there had to be a FAINT MESSIANIC FORCE. It is effective without anyone actively willing it and nothing can hinder it. Gathering it in is the unique good fortune of the prophet. According to Luigi Nono music is a net capable of gathering in this faint pointillist force.
► The Bomb As Plough
Maieutics: The Midwife’s Art
Sometimes a foetus lies twisted in the so-called breech presentation in the mother’s womb. If the midwife does not turn it in time, the child will be strangled at birth. She does this “by applying violence [Gewalt].” Using a power grip is not an option she would ever consider. Instead, she uses a precision grip in the middle of the procedure, one that corresponds to the delicate limbs and agility of “the object.” It is entirely impossible for the midwife to use her hands in a violent fashion and move the infant’s arms so that they lie crossed atop its chest. In order to allow it to pass through the birth canal, her grip must provoke the child’s own movement. Such violence as applied by the midwife is distinct from the violence of hammers, sickles, hoes, or saws.
Industrial Ruins, Left Behind by Investors
With the approval of Chinese officials, a group of twenty-two American pension funds put up an industrial park in a special economic zone northwest of Shanghai (this was at the beginning of the boom), and ran it for a while. Then the funds reinvested its capital in India. The Chinese manufacturing facility became a ruin. The son of the functionary who was made responsible for the overly trustful ingress of the foreign investors and who was severely punished for it (he took his own life in prison) is now the chairman of a committee in the National Assembly of the Republic of China. He is determined never to let such an instance happen again.
Adult Education for the Finance Industry
My grandfather, explained the vice-president of China’s National Audit Office, still taught Marx at Shanghai University. He succumbed to the Cultural Revolution. Then my father and I (both of us are in the Office of Economics) appropriated the teachings of the Chicago School on the economy of capitalism, with which we acquired our experience after 1990. In the meantime, this doctrine is disintegrating in the West (at least from our point of view in the East).
With the support of our administration, we have recently organized continuing education courses in Manhattan for perplexed financiers in the United States. We are prepared to offer foreign aid. We made these arrangements in our own interests, as well, since an unscientific approach to the financial crisis, such as we noticed in New York, endangers the assets of our own people, the biggest believers in America. We have brought production experience into the FREE MARKET ECONOMY (which we learned painstakingly and have now perfected). We have made considerable long-lasting strides with our reports and training in South Sudan, Nigeria, and at Cairo University. In the United States, however, we fall on deaf ears. No one wants to enroll in our courses. Those responsible do not have the time to learn about something that would only help them.
The Veiled Marx
An artist loaned to the GDR by the Italian Communist Party – Venice branch – created an unusual Marx sculpture for the capital city of the GDR in metal painted white and pink: the young Marx aged perhaps 25 years, completely unclothed. At that time he even had no beard. He looked like an officer of Bonaparte’s Hussar regiment, whose uniform had been removed in 1812 by the Russian partisans. Naked and rosy he stood in the snow in one of the courtyards of the Academy of Arts.
It could have passed since no one would have suspected that the figure represented the founder of the dialectical materialist method had it not been written on a plaque. In any case the figure looked “modern” rather than like an ancient nude. Nevertheless, the bureaucrats in the cultural department of the central committee were embarrassed. They knew after all whom the work represented. And as soon as the Italian master had returned to his homeland they had the structure covered. It was still in this state when the Treuhand liquidators were to decide on what remained. They valued it – also unaware of whose image was in question – only in terms of its scrap value. The artefact was melted down.
A lifespan of a quarter of a century, always covered, and then transformed into a lump of metal. For scrap dealers the lot was too small, of hardly any interest. There is no image of the youthful author of the Parisian “Early Writings” in the world. Since the discovery of these writings at the beginning of the Thirties they have not, by any means, been sufficiently read. 1665 years of Harvard research could not offset their élan. The body created by the Italian master possessed an elegant beauty. The sympathies of a whole generation could have been won for socialism if Marx had been shown like this at the right moment, unveiled and in public.