Certainly one has also to be watchful with people calling themselves communist or anarchist and, to be on the safe side, always suppose that they do a lot of nonsense. However, to get back to the topic, communist literature always was better than left literature, so to say Goethe better than Grass.
The interview was originally published on shades magazine
About the author:
Bernd Volkert grew up in the Bavarian village of Lehenhammer close to Sulzbach-Rosenberg in a country-side pub, restaurant and hotel. Today, after years of receiving money from jobs, the state and the trade unions, he arrived back there, though in Berlin.
The new collection of poems of Bernd Volkert can be found here: http://xs-verlag.de/bernd-volkert-immer-noch-nicht-hell.html
Why literature? Why poems?
If the idea is to establish an association of free human beings, this does not imply, certainly not imply only to change the relations of production accordingly. Such a development, brought about by humans, would mean instead that nothing will be the way we know it, not ourselves and certainly not our language. Literature, especially poems in this sense seem to be an option to care about this aspect of such a development – more than so-called political texts which are nolens volens already deeply involved – and thereby spoiled – into the dominating process, in the process of domination. Another variant for the same endeavour could be philosophical texts, insofar as they spring from a fundamentally philosophic motivation, id est: the search for the good, and do not understand or show themselves as an occupation of specialists. Both, literature and philosophy, we know this from experience, are also a hotbed of everything what once was called ‘reactionary machinations’.
And how can one avoid the accusation of being ‘reactionary’?
Best if you write in disregard of political categories or directives. Language, terms are a possibility of mutual understanding to be used by human beings to grasp experiences in and with the world. For this reason it’s probably good in the process of writing to choose as a beginning and maybe also ending point your own experience and to avoid anything pre-fabricated. Roughly quite the opposite of what happens in the destruction of human language capability by way of politicisation of language, for example in German with the introduction of innovations, supposed to follow, it doesn’t matter which specifically, certain ideas about the relations or meaning of gender. This doesn’t mean to be against innovations or changes in the use of language. But these have to develop or be developed in the very use of language itself, as I said, anything pre-fabricated has to be avoided, and last but not least there may be no intention to do politics with language. Certainly it’s possible to do politics with language, but basically this equals the process of brain-washing. You can see this also in political discussions about history and in what was called ‘minority policies’. A rough rule of thumb, I’ve heard somewhere, could be: Language correct, thinking defect.
This sounds like a sharp attack on the Left.
This may be so. Anyway, if we have to use terms of self-description, I consider terms like ‘communist’ or anarchist’ as more suitable if you have in mind to shake the foundations of this world than this through and through political, thus after the bourgeois revolution anti-emancipatory term ‘left’. Certainly one has also to be watchful with people calling themselves communist or anarchist and, to be on the safe side, always suppose that they do a lot of nonsense. However, to get back to the topic, communist literature always was better than left literature, so to say Goethe better than Grass.
You intend by this to make a case for revolutionary literature?
Not at all. There may exist something like literature in the revolution or literature by revolutionaries, but ‘revolutionary literature’ to me sounds like a black white horse. It would seem similarly absurd to me to demand ‘revolutionary carpentership’. Another rule of thumb: People who want a revolutionary literature, by way of this simply want to express, that they don’t want revolution at all.
And how, then, is one supposed to write?
As good as possible.