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GERMAN LITERATURE IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION
The New Germany in Context Series editors: Jonathan Grix (Birmingham), Paul Cooke (University of Leeds) and Lothar Funk (University of Trier) The New Germany in Context provides a forum for original research into the state of post-unity German society from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives. Since unification, Germany, and its place in the world, has undergone a period of rapid development and change. This series brings together academics from political science, economics, history and cultural studies in order to explore the legacies and debates which shape the new Federal Republic.
Other titles in the series include: Published: The fall and rise of the PDS in eastern Germany Dan Hough Ten years of German unification: transfer, transformation, incorporation? Edited by Jorn Leonhard and Lothar Funk Approaches to the study of contemporary Germany: research methodologies in German Studies Edited by Jonathan Grix East German distinctiveness in a unified Germany Edited by Jonathan Grix and Paul Cooke The new regulatory state in Germany Markus M. Muller Economic transition, unemployment and active labour market policy: lessons and perspectives from the East German Bundeslander Corinne Nativel On their own terms: the legacy of National Socialism in post-1990 German fiction Helmut Schmitz German literature in the age of globalisation Edited by Stuart Taberner Forthcoming: German cinema after unification Edited by David Clarke Britain, Germany and the future of the European Union Christian Schweiger The Buchenwald Child: from truth to legend Bill Niven
German literature in the age of globalisation Edited by Stuart Taberner
THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM UNIVERSITY PRESS
Copyright © University of Birmingham Press 2004 While copyright in this volume as a whole is vested in the University of Birmingham Press, copyright in individual chapters belongs to their respective authors, and no chapter may be reproduced wholly or in part without the express permission in writing of both author and publisher. First published in the United Kingdom by the University of Birmingham Press, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK. All rights reserved. Except for the quotation of short passages for the purposes of criticism or review, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the publisher. ISBN 1-902459-51-2 British Library Cataloguing in Publication data A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Typeset by Echelon Typesetting, Shaftesbury, Dorset Printed and bound in Great Britain by Biddies Ltd, King's Lynn, Norfolk
1 Introduction: German literature in the age of globalisation Stuart Taberner
2 East German writing in the age of globalisation Paul Cooke
3 'Was will ich derm als Westdeutscher erzahlen?': The 'old' West and globalisation in recent German prose Andrew Plowman
4 Germany as background: global concerns in recent women's writing in German Beth Linklater
5 The German province in the age of globalisation: Botho Straufi, Arnold Stadler and Hans-Ulrich Treichel Stuart Taberner
6 A matter of perspective: prose debuts in contemporary German literature Dieter Stolz
7 Not top of the pops? - Martin Walser's writing since 1990 Stuart Parkes
8 Denouncing globalisation: Ingo Schramm's Pitchers Blau Helmut Schmitz
9 German pop literature and cultural globalisation Thomas Ernst
10 'Dann ware Deutschland wie das Wort Neckarrauen': surface, superficiality and globalisation in Christian Kracht's Faserland Frank Finlay
GERMAN LITERATURE IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION
11 Writing by ethnic minorities in the age of globalisation Katharina Gerstenberger
12 The globalisation of memory and the rediscovery of German suffering Bill Niven
List of Contributors
PAUL COOKE is Lecturer in German Studies at the University of Leeds. He is the author of Speaking the Taboo: a study of the work of Wolfgang Hilbig (2000) and The Pocket Essential to German Expressionist Film (2002). He has published on German literature, film, politics and cultural studies. He also co-edited a volume of essays with Andrew Plowman on German literature and the East German secret police. He is currently completing a book on the phenomenon of Ostalgie. THOMAS ERNST is currently completing a doctoral dissertation on contemporary pop literature in German. He is the author of the volume Popliteratur (2001) and has published widely on literary and philosophical topics, including Deleuze and Foucault. He is also a pop-practitioner and author in his own right. FRANK FINLAY is Professor of German and Head of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Leeds. His publications include books and articles on literature, culture and aesthetics in contemporary Germany and Austria and he is currently involved in the preparation of a new, complete edition of the work of Heinrich Boll. With Stuart Taberner he edited the volume Recasting German Identity and a special issue of German Life and Letters devoted to post-1989 literature. KATHARINA GERSTENBERGER is Associate Professor of German at the University of Cincinnati. She is the author of Truth to Tell: German Women's Autobiographies and Turn-of-the-Century Culture (2000). Her current research interest is contemporary German literature and culture with an emphasis on literary responses to unified Berlin.
viii GERMAN LITERATURE IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION BETH LINKLATER is Director of Student Support at Queen Mary's College, Basingstoke. She has published widely on East German literature and society, and on women's writing, including her 1998 title Constructions of Sexuality in East German Literatures. She is also co-editor of a volume on Kerstin Hensel (2002) and of Autobiography by Women in German (2000). BILL NIVEN is Reader in German at The Nottingham Trent University. He is author of Facing the Nazi Past: United Germany and the Legacy of the Third Reich (2001), and of Dividing and Uniting Germany (2000), with Jiirgen Thomaneck. He has also written a book on Friedrich Hebbel (1984) and co-edited a volume on Christoph Hein (with David Clarke; 2000) and Culture and Politics in 20th Century Germany (with James Jordan; 2003). He is to appear with the University of Birmingham Press in 2005. STUART PARKES is Emeritus Professor of German Studies of the University of Sunderland. He has published widely on modern German literature and society, including the volumes Writers and Politics in West Germany (1986) and Understanding Contemporary Germany (1997). He is co-editor of a volume on Martin Walser, which is due to appear shortly, and is currently working on writers and politics in post-1945 Germany. ANDREW PLOWMAN teaches German language, literature and film at the University of Liverpool. He has published widely on a number of topics in contemporary literature, including a book The Radical Subject: Social Change and the Self in Recent German Autobiography (1998), and most recently has co-edited a volume of essays with Paul Cooke on German literature and the East German secret police. HELMUT SCHMTTZ is Lecturer in German Studies at the University of Warwick. His research interests are in postwar German literature and culture, particularly the literature of Vergangenheitsbewa'ltigung. He is the author of a monograph on Hanns-Josef Ortheil (1997) and has edited German Culture and the Uncomfortable Past (2002) and Entgegenkommen. Dialogues with Barbara Kohler (with Georgina Paul;
LIST OF CONTIBUTORS
2000). His On their own terms: the legacy of National Socialism in post1990 German fiction (2004) has just been published with the University of Birmingham Press. DIETER STOLZ is a director of the Literarisches Colloquium in Berlin where he is responsible for the programme in contemporary writing in German. He has also published widely on contemporary German fiction and is a co-editor of the journal sprache im technischen zeitalter. STUART TABERNER is Senior Lecturer in German at the University of Leeds. He has written widely on contemporary German fiction, with work on Martin Walser, Giinter Grass, Hans-Ulrich Treichel and Arnold Stadler. He is currently completing a book on German literature in the 1990s, to appear in early 2005. With Frank Finlay, he edited the volume Recasting German Identity (2002) and a special issue of German Life and Letters, published in 2002, devoted to post-1989 literature.
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This book would not have been possible without the generous support of a number of people and institutions. Thanks are due to the School of Modern Languages at the University of Leeds for its financial assistance in the hosting of the one-day workshop in May 2002 at which many of the papers collected here were initially presented. In addition, I am grateful to the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung for its continued support and for its funding of a sabbatical stay in Germany during which the editorial work for this volume was completed. As ever, I am also indebted to numerous colleagues, many of whom appear in this book, for their encouragement and inspiration. Along with the series editors, Paul Cooke and Jonathan Grix, I would also like to express my gratitude to Frank Finlay for his unflagging enthusiasm. Stuart Taberner, Leeds, September 2004
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Introduction: German literature in the age of globalisation Stuart Taberner
Globalisation, defined in the broadest terms by social scientist John Tomlinson, as the 'rapidly developing and ever-densening network of interconnections and interdependencies that characterize modern social life',1 has contributed to the processes shaping the Berlin Republic - the name given to the 'new' Germany even before the return of the capital to that city in 1999 - and helped mould its identity. The endeavour that shapes this volume is to formulate a response to the effects and repercussions of globalisation throughout contemporary German literature. Globalisation, Fredric Jameson contended in an essay of 1998, is a 'most ambiguous ideological concept', which can mean the 'multiple heterogeneities' of a postmodern culture or the 'worldwide Americanisation or standardisation of culture, the destruction of local differences, the massification of all the peoples on the planet'.2 David Held, in his book A Globalizing World? Culture, Economics, Politics (2000),3 similarly delineates 'optimistic' and 'pessimistic' positions on the subject. Towards the end of the 1990s, the debate on globalisation was becoming more nuanced. Taking issue with the notion that globalisation is inevitable and always invariable, some began to argue that the establishment of worldwide networks facilitated by new media such as the internet might serve democratisation and promote an enriching cultural mixing. Indeed, heterogeneity might become a value in itself, challenging notions of identity rooted in ethnicity, cultural coherence or the exclusion of 'difference'. To what extent this can strengthen the local against the global whilst maintaining a degree of integrity is central to
2 STUART TABERNER this book's discussion. Similarly, there is a risk that celebration of difference may become no more than a marketing strategy, co-opted by multinationals and advertisers in order to sell more 'product'. In the course of this chapter, I will be introducing the various contributors to the book and assessing their views on German literature and the effects of globalisation. Before doing that, I would like to place the discussion in its historical context, and consider how debates on the essence of German values have informed the discourse in this 'age of globalisation'.
THE DECLINE OF THE 'GERMAN MODEL' In an essay of September 1999 in the Frankfurter Rundschau, later published as part of his Generation Berlin (2001), Heinz Bude reflected on what the decade following German unification had brought for people who had grown up in the 'old' West Germany pre-1990: That practical little West Germany erected around the worker as the leading actor on an exemplary path to modernisation appeared to be losing its way in a globalised world of capital, information and goods'.4 Bude's focus here was perhaps typical of the widespread shift towards the end of the 1990s in perceptions of the direct and indirect consequences of the end of German division. Whereas most observers had hitherto tended to speak of the transformation that absorption into the Federal Republic (FRG) had brought about in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), the talk was now as much of the way in which the assumptions of the 'old' West German order had been similarly, if less obviously, challenged and, in many cases, picked apart. Peter Thompson speculates that East Germans on the eve of unification 'imagined they would get the West Germany of the 1950s, but got that of the 1990s. They wished for the Wirtschaftswunder [the economic miracle of the 1950s] but got the Standortskrise [the flight of companies from Germany to lower-wage areas in Eastern Europe in the early 1990s] instead'.5 In fact, Germans from both east and west would soon discover that the 'new' Federal Republic would preserve few of the certainties that had often been taken for granted in the 'old' West Germany. In areas as diverse as economics, foreign policy and
INTRODUCTION 3 culture, the accelerating impact of globalisation would make itself felt on a reunited Germany, recently extracted from its comfortable ColdWar seclusion and impelled into a new world order in which the free market reigned supreme. 'Nowadays', economist Karl-Heinz Paque claimed towards the close of the 1990s, 'there is a widespread feeling amongst Germans that, in stark contrast to earlier times, something very fundamental is happening in the world economy which, in the long run, is working against their interests'.6 First and foremost, globalisation seemed to most people to be an overwhelmingly economic phenomenon and one which posed a direct challenge to the famed 'German model' (Modell Deutschland). The 'German model' was central to the broader conceptualisation of the nation's economic activity and was defined by companies' focus on high production values - and their willingness to pay correspondingly high wages for a skilled workforce - the norm of workers' input into decision-making (Mitbestimmung), and a financial structure which encouraged long-term value and product innovation. This kind of economic activity was conventionally described by reference to the evolution from the 1950s of the 'Social Market Economy' (SME). Thus, as Eric Owen Smith notes, 'both an extremely wideranging social framework and an adequate safety net were created as part of the SME'.7 This was in addition to the notion that German companies should operate in a socially-responsible (sozialvertraglich) manner, rather than focus on short-term dividend maximisation as is typical in the Anglo-American financial system, In the 1990s, the 'German model' came to be challenged by the neoliberal free-market philosophies which had become dominant in the US and UK in the wake of the redefinition of workers' rights, supply-side reforms and reliance on monetary policy in the era of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. In the workplace, for example, the 'old' West German mode of industry-wide collective bargaining appeared to be increasingly outdated. High levels of unemployment and the practice of reaching wage agreements in accordance with local conditions in the new states (Lander) in the east led to calls for the dismantling of a system which employers and government alike claimed inhibited competition. Indeed, what Paque refers to as the '"Americanisation"'8 of the eastern labour market was one of a number of areas in which the
4 STUART TABERNER east seemed to be ahead of the 'old' West Germany, as Lawrence McFalls proposes, 'on their common path to a neo-liberal global society'.9 'Flexible' working patterns, the erosion of employee rights, the introduction of the deregulated delivery of basic services, and the reduction of a once generous system of welfare provision - these innovations would all meet with far less resistance in the east, where trade unions were less organised and economic prospects for workers worse. It was also in the east that the spread of American-style shopping malls - facetiously described by the narrator of Feridun Zaimoglu's novel German Amok (2002) as the 'neo-Ayran forward positions of the imminent future' (the 'neuarischen Stutzpunkte der nahen Zukunft')10 and other temples of consumerism appeared to be most advanced.
A SHIFT IN THE ECONOMIC LANDSCAPE 'A new generation of politicians born, for the most part, after the Second World War is now leading the third-largest economy of the world, from a new capital city with a new currency, into a new millennium in which the challenges of globalisation will weigh heavily' - such was the verdict on the recent Federal elections delivered by the Spiegel magazine in late November 1998.11 More banally perhaps, the formation in 1998 of the Red-Green coalition led by Gerhard Schroder brought the issues of welfare and tax reform to a head. The government of Chancellor Kohl had tended to postpone reform for the sake of social harmony, and on account of the importance of the Social Market Economy to Kohl's generation in general, as well as to his party, the Christian Democrats (CDU). Only in 1996 had he made a half-hearted effort at restructuring. On the other hand, Schroder, the former student radical of the late 1960s turned moderate leftist politician in the 1990s, was determined to modernise the German economy as part of a hazy centre-left programme of 'Third-wayism'. This was the combination of fiscal stringency and ill-defined striving for broad social justice, embraced by Bill Clinton in the US and Tony Blair in the UK. Almost immediately, Schroder set about trying to reform the country's generous pensions' provision, expensive welfare entitlements, and 'archaic' financial structures. Germans were urged to embrace some privatisation of public
INTRODUCTION 5 companies such as Deutsche Telekom and Deutsche Bahn, accept lower entitlements in return for tax cuts, invest in the stock market and accept the disentanglement of the cosy arrangements by which German companies and banks part-owned one another. The latter innovations, it was presumed, would encourage shareholder scrutiny of companies' performance and greater pressure on managers to obtain credit in the open market. Yet, barely a year later, Schroder's finance minister and long-term rival, Oskar Lafontaine, had resigned and published a book dismissive of Schroder's project entitled Das Herz schlagt links (The Heart Beats on The Left).12 The Chancellor's reform programme was in tatters, torn apart by entrenched interests and widely disliked by the electorate. By the time of Schroder's narrow election victory in 2002, the German economy was part of the Eurozone, itself struggling, unable to control its interest rates and stimulate demand and investment, and seemingly adverse to structural reform. In addition, the 'blossoming landscapes' in the former GDR, predicted by ex-Chancellor Kohl, had failed to flower. The east was still reeling from the devastation of local industry by the decision to enact currency union in 1990 at the rate of 1:1 thereby rendering eastern goods immediately uncompetitive as western products were sucked in by the sudden creation of demand and the availability of cash.13 More generally, Germany had had to borrow heavily and raise taxes in order to finance unification - the fact that productivity had remained so low in the east made it unlikely that it could survive without further fiscal transfers. Worse still, the need to fulfil the Maastricht criteria governing budget deficits in advance of the introduction of the Euro had required a tightening of fiscal policy at a time when the threat of recession might have warranted a looser stance and a willingness to incur debt in order to kick-start the economy. The impact of membership of the European Union had already been evident in the deregulation of large parts of the service sector, in particular, in anticipation of the completion of the Single Market. Things were changing, and quickly. Individual German states began to negotiate directly with EU bodies, bypassing and undermining the 'old' West German federal system. Similarly, the growing gulf between the states' financial positions made it more difficult to uphold the principle of solidarity.14
6 STUART TABERNER 'NORMALISATION' Yet Schroder's government had made progress in an endeavour which, only four years earlier, had appeared just as controversial as its economic policies: this was its effort to make transparent and complete the process of German 'normalisation'. In so doing, it had appropriated a term more usually associated with right-wing thinkers and politicians,15 and, in particular, with the so-called New Right intellectuals who had been so vocal at the very beginning of the 1990s.16 'Normalisation' had once been regarded as synonymous with historical revisionism, and the desire to play down the centrality of the Nazi past in order to mitigate German guilt and instill national pride. However, it was now seen, far less contentiously, as a timely assertion of Germany's membership of the Western community of values and of its key role within the global economic, political and diplomatic order. In effect, Schroder's government had made 'normal' the idea that Germany should strive to be just that - 'normal'. Within this context, the incipient debate on globalisation would be vitally important. Recent studies by Thomas Banchoff of Georgetown University,17 Sebastian Harnisch (Trier),18 Ben Rosamond (Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation, Warwick),19 and others, have created a consensus around the insight that the phenomenon of 'globalisation' is narratively-constructed at a local level. These contributors to the debate believe that globalisation is constructed within societies, political systems and interpersonal networks, and in the context of cultural variation. Public figures and the media will thus tend to 'localise' the rhetoric of globalisation in order to further particular social and political programmes, to prepare a community for change, or to defend principles that are felt to be at the core of local identity. In essence, the debate about economics is transformed into a debate about values. In Britain, at the end of the 1990s, Prime Minister Tony Blair invoked globalisation as part of an effort not only to modernise the British economy but also the state's constitutional arrangements, self-image and traditions. Similarly, Schroder - briefly allied with Blair in a paper on the 'Third Way' - spoke of globalisation as an process which would certainly force people in the Federal Republic to reassess their economic expectations, but also their attitudes towards the Nazi past, Germany's
INTRODUCTION 7 role in world affairs and the values of the nation. For the Chancellor, globalisation offered an opportunity and imposed a requirement to achieve 'normality'. This, of course, was understood as the 'normality' of the Berlin Republic's closest allies - these were Western, oriented to the free market, and unburdened by an uncomfortable past. Globalisation is typically posited as a fact, not as something which individual states have the power to resist or refuse. As such, Schroder's government was able to present the constituent parts of its broader 'normalisation' agenda as also more or less inevitable. In particular, this included what Bude terms the desire to create a Berlin Republic 'beyond alarmist, reflex reactions determined by fixed ideas on the Nazi past' ('jenseits vergangenheitspolitischer Alarmreflexe').20 Here, Schroder again took over formerly conservative positions and thereby neutralised the right. This could especially be seen with regards to the furore on political correctness21 and 'hegemonic' readings of the past, which had been raging since the mid-1990s, in the name of seeking a consensus around the need for economic, social and political modernisation. As such, he tapped into what Bill Niven has referred to as the emergence of a new 'inclusiveness' on the subject of the Nazi past, an 'ongoing process of broadening understanding',22 which began to make it possible to discuss a range of issues. It was now acceptable to discuss whether it was right to attempt to 'understand' the perpetrators, or to mourn German suffering both at the hands of the Soviets, Poles and Czechs during the expulsions from formerly German lands in the east, and as a result of the British and American bombing of German cities. At the same time, Schroder was able to adapt this trend to his own 'normalisation' agenda. It was a mixture of 'morality and pragmaticism', noted the Spiegel magazine at the end of November 1998,23 that led the newly-elected Chancellor Schroder to take personal responsibility for the ongoing negotiations concerning the reparations claims being made against German companies by organisations in the US and elsewhere. These organisations represented surviving forced labourers (Zwangsarbtiter), that is, those individuals, mainly from Eastern Europe, compelled by the Nazis to work as slaves in their factories. Indeed, this same combination of principle and self-interest would shape the government's attitude towards the legacy of the Hitler period on any number
8 STUART TABERNER of occasions in the years to come. Thus there was a concern to 'normalise7 Germany's image abroad as an end in itself. It was to be a means of safeguarding German business interests, while fully integrating the FRG into the international economic, political and diplomatic order. Whether it was attempting to achieve a consensus in the late 1990s on the construction of a Holocaust memorial in Berlin, or signing a 'treaty' with Jewish organisations offering apologies for the past and assistance for the assimilation of immigrant Jews from the former Soviet Union (2003), Schroder was determined to demonstrate to the world that the country was now a worthy - and influential member of the global community.24
GLOBALISATION OF FOREIGN POLICY By 1992, just two years after unification, the then President Roman Herzog had declared: 'The globalisation of Germany's foreign policy is unavoidable' ('Die Globalisierung der deutschen AuBenpolitik ist unvermeidlich').25 And indeed, although Schroder's efforts to 'normalise' Germany by no means resembled the 'left-wing Wilhelminism' linken Wilhelminismus - a reference to Kaiser Wilhelm's efforts to transform Germany into a power to rival Great Britain and France - that some had foreseen, there could be no doubt that his government would pursue a more active foreign policy. In so doing they moved beyond the rather parochial policy of expressly limited ambition that had defined West German foreign policy before 1990. The commitment of aircraft to the NATO campaign against Slobodan Milosevic's Serbia in early 1999 (as part of operations to protect indigenous Albanians in the province of Kosovo from ethnic cleansing) was certainly motivated, to some extent, by strategic considerations - the FRG had to demonstrate solidarity with the Alliance (Bundnistreue). Yet it also continued the previous conservative government's 'salami-tactic' policy of 'normalising' military action as a constituent element of the nation's exercise of sovereignty.26 In fact, the Kosovo episode perfectly exemplified the Red-Green coalition's adherence to a version of 'normalisation' that would both epitomise the country's internalisation of 'higher' values and further its own interests. Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, from the Green Party, was thus able to
INTRODUCTION 9 present military intervention as a continuation of the FRG's espousal of multilateralism - a distinct preference for international law, multinational cooperation and diplomatic solutions - while demonstrating that the Berlin Republic had learnt the lessons of the past and was now prepared to act decisively, even militarily, to prevent infringements of human rights.27 At the same time, this newly 'normal' Germany would have to be listened to in the search for solutions to international conflict and issues of regional and global importance. Within the EU, Germany would become less eager to defer to France, whilst providing most of the Union's finance. In relations with the US, Germany would prefer to be seen as a 'partner' rather than as a mere grateful dependent. Germany at the end of the 1990s, Adrian Hyde-Price suggests, was thus 'a "normal" civilian power', and indeed one on which other 'normal', yet 'militaristic', Western powers might model themselves. Hyde-Price argues that in relation to the Kosovo conflict, the German public was far more 'deeply conscious of the need to avoid simple answers to complex moral and political dilemmas' than the electorates in the UK and the US.28 Schroder and Fischer, it seemed, had achieved what they had set out to do. Not only had the Federal Republic at last become 'normal', it had even begun to export a form of 'normality' in its own image, whilst maintaining traditional alliances and even attracting praise from critical commentators abroad. Whether this balancing trick could be maintained would be sorely tested in late 2002 following Schroder's decision to refuse American requests for diplomatic, and then military, support in its campaign to persuade the world of the need to invade Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Here, the anti-war Values' of the majority of the population conflicted with Realpolitik, that is, the need to please Washington and the American President George Bush, and this against the backdrop of Schroder's desire for re-election.
LEGACY OF POLITICAL RADICALISM Schroder's 'normalisation' agenda may be seen, to some degree at least, as an attempt to unite a country which was becoming ever more diverse, even fragmented. One manifestation of growing cultural conflict was the intensification of the challenge to the old West German
10 STUART TABERNER order that elements of the right had initiated in the aftermath of unification. A number of younger conservative thinkers, politicians and intellectual figures such as Martin Walser and Botho Straufi began to voice their opinions. They attacked the old West German status quo in which conservative parties - the CDU along with its sister party the Bavarian Christlkhe Soziale Union (CSU) - had tended to run government, whilst the media, culture and education had largely been dominated by individuals shaped by their experience of, and participation in, the student movement of the late 1960s. At the same time, new generations were emerging or belatedly claiming their right to be heard. The generation of 'S929 (which came to maturity in the years following the fall of the Berlin Wall) was unimpressed by those '"yesterday's heroes" of 1968 now carrying the state' (the 'staatstragenden "Yesterdays Heroes" der 68er').30 Similarly, the generation of '78 felt that it was now its turn. Wedged between 'the good old 68ers' ('den guten alten 68ern') and 'Neon-kids of the generation of '89' ('den Neonkids der 89er-Generation'),31 to cite Matthias Politycki, the '78 generation was coming of age and beginning to shape the country in a fashion more to their liking. For some, the debate about '68 was also a debate about the Western orientation of both the former Federal Republic and the new Berlin Republic. Schroder and Fischer were determined to signal what Bude terms a 'demonstrative turn-away' ('demonstrative Abkehr')32 from the radical agenda of 1968, in an attempt, in part, to neutralise an issue that had been the source of such divisiveness. Nonetheless, their 'normalisation' programme extracted a radical commitment to critical reason, demythologisation and universalist ethics from the ideals of the student movement. These concepts were associated with the particular reading of Western Enlightenment values in vogue in the 1990s across the developed world. This commitment would be the foundation of a 'normal' national identity. Shortly before his election victory, Schroder had made explicit the connection between Western values and his vision of a new and unburdened German identity. In an interview on 29 March 1998, with the Suddeutsche Zeitung, Schroder declared: 'I am proud of what the people in this country have accomplished, and of its democratic culture. In this sense, I am a German patriot, somebody who is proud of his country'.33 It would hence be permissible to express
INTRODUCTION 11 pride in being German, not in a bombastic fashion, but with reference to democratic achievements and to a distinctly 'post-Cold War' Western rhetoric of tolerance and attention to human rights. For Martin Walser, as for others, the Westernisation of the 'old' FRG and the unquestioned pursuit of a 'Western' form of 'normality' in the immediate aftermath of unification, and all the more so in the Berlin Republic, had long been suspect. The kind of national identity embodied in the abstract principles of reason and universal ethics could only be embraced, he claimed, by intellectuals blinded by their obsession with the 'rational' to the need for an emotional attachment to the nation. The same criticism had been made in the late 1980s of philosopher Jurgen Habermas' concept of constitutional loyalty (Verfassungspatriotismus). Walser argued that for the broader population, this notion of patriotism would remain superficial, and worse, detrimental to solidarity. As Walser commented in an essay of 1993: 'We failed to take the German along with us on our "west-trip". We left him at home'.34 The deliberate double meaning of the word 'trip' (referring both to drugs and to travel) plus the anglicism ironically indicated the extent to which Anglo-American culture had pervaded German life. The globalisation of Western values, it seemed, had led - and continues to encourage - an identity that is necessarily shallow, imitative rather than sincere, and ignorant of 'true' German traditions. Nor is a renewed attachment to Heimat ('home'), as a response to the deceptions of globalised consumerism, restricted to cultural conservatives such as Walser. The leftist journal Kursbuch even published a set of essays on das gelobte Land ('in praise of our country') in September 2000. The intoxicated consumption of Western - read American - values, extends to many observers on the left, as much as on the right, from the mimicry of ideological and philosophical positions. These positions appear to automatically invalidate much of German thought and history as mere antecedents of Nazism, while also repressing an authentic German identity within the consumer and popular-culture ethos associated with free-market capitalism. For the narrator of Arnold Stadler's novel Sehnsucht (2002), the word 'consumer' ('Verbraucher') was not only the word that had contributed most to the ruin of the German language, it was also well on its way to eradicating the word liuman' CMensch').35 Similarly, for philosopher Peter Sloterdijk, in his
12 STUART TABERNER short volume Die Verachtung der Masse (1999), the great majority of the population in the modern period has become nothing but an undifferentiated mass of consumers.36 Sloterdijk's critique of Americanstyle materialism owes a great deal to the left-wing critique of the modern culture industry formulated by Adorno and Horkheimer in their Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947). The same might be said of writers and intellectuals as diverse as the right-leaning Botho Straufi and Martin Walser, west Germans associated with the left including Peter Schneider and Hans Magnus Enzensberger, and east German critics of the supremacy of the free market in post-unification Germany, such as Wolfgang Hilbig, Christoph Hein and Ingo Schramm. In similar vein, much of the debate on 'pop authors' including Benjamin von StuckradBarre, Christian Kracht, Elke Naters and Karen Duve, or the literary fiction of '78ers' such as Norbert Niemann, Andreas Neumeister, Matthias Politycki and Thomas Meinecke, with its frequent, insistent references to the fashions of their youth, revolves around the vital question of whether those who followed the '68ers' have simply abandoned critical thought for an unreflective indulgence in brand names and 'lifestyle'. The debate on '1968' was largely a West German debate, a struggle to interpret the 'old' West Germany, as much as an attempt to take control of the political agenda from the former student radicals now in positions of influence in the media, politics and education. However, the Federal Republic in the 1990s was more diverse and, paradoxically, divided. This was not just on account of the challenge to the old West German consensus, but also as a consequence of the imperfect integration of Germans from the former GDR, on the one hand, and of the country's increasingly varied ethnic minority populations on the other. In each case, however, the initial impetus to define an identity against West German norms gives way to the need to define new positions in relation both to this previously dominant social order, now itself in flux, and the manner in which globalisation has challenged the concept of 'Germanness' itself. For east Germans, notions of Trotzidentitat ('identity of defiance'), Ostalgie ('nostalgia for the former GDR'), or an 'Ossi pride', which adapts western stereotypes into positive attributes of 'easternness'37 all reactions directed against west Germany - began to give way, by the
INTRODUCTION 13 end of the 1990s, to an awareness that theirs had been a 'doublecolonisation'. Not only had the east been overwhelmed, in the early 1990s, by west German firms and west German social and political norms, it had also been a first, relatively unprotected point of entry for the incursions of a globalised capitalism. This capitalism had been massively bolstered by the willingness of governments around the world to accept the "inevitability' of economic neo-liberalism and the power of multinational concerns to determine market and social conditions at the local level. Trotzidentitat, Ostalgie and 'Ossi pride' would, henceforth, be largely concerned with defining, or preserving, local identity in response to the homogenising drive of the 'McDonald's culture'. Indeed, the very peripherality of the east German experience might serve as a vantage point from which to critique the dominant social, cultural and economic paradigms imposed by west German norms or, more recently, globalised capitalism. Local distinctiveness, cultural difference and historical memory, whether imagined or real, rework and even appropriate the motifs of the colonising discourse and inflect them with a more familiar mood or tone. In so doing a rejoinder to the threat of homogenisation is generated that is sometimes ironic, occasionally melancholic and always unique. This is an example, perhaps, of the phenomenon of 'glocalisation': the adaptation of the global to the local in the creation of a new hybridity which more accurately corresponds to the everyday lives of people around the world as they bring their individual biographies to bear on social, economic and cultural realities that have become increasingly universal.38
MULTICULTURAL GERMANY The debate surrounding the 'marketing of difference' is of vital importance to any discussion of the recent prominence of members of Germany's ethnic minorities in the country's media and literary culture. On the one hand, this pre-eminence surely reflects the fact that Germany has become truly multicultural - regardless of whether or not politicians have been willing to concede this. In the postunification period, the 'old' Federal Republic's 'traditional' ethnic,
religious and national minorities - Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and most 'visibly', Turkish - have been joined by Bosnian Muslims and Albanians fleeing the wars in the ex-Yugoslavia, asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Iraq, gypsies and migrants from Eastern Europe and North Africa, as well as Russian Jews acting in response to the 'new' Germany's appeal for immigration by those the nation had once persecuted. This influx has provoked questions about the viability, even desirability of a German 'dominant culture' (Leitkultur), and about immigration, asylum and citizenship. In addition, however, the presence of such a wide range of minority groups has made it possible for contemporary Germany to compensate, in part at least, for what Tom Cheesman has termed, with obvious irony, its 'diversity envy'. There has been the sudden and striking visibility of 'minority' personalities in the media - as the moderators of TV shows aiming to present the very latest in 'global' trends in music, fashion and travel, in youth magazines and the 'lifestyle' sections of well-known newspapers. Such a change testifies to the German media's desire to present a suitably 'hip' image of the direction the country is now taking. But it also testifies to the perception that minorities can mediate between what is often seen as an inward-looking, provincial, postwar German culture and a more stylish and cosmopolitan global mainstream. Marketing once again plays a part. 'Amid anxiety that "neue deutsche Literatur" ["new German literature"] has precious few chances of making an impact on the globalised literary market in which the exotic is at a premium', Cheesman notes, 'commentators look to the "naturally cosmopolitan" migrants in search of an exportable new product'.39 In fact, the enthusiasm with which publishing houses and media concerns began to promote 'ethnic-minority' writers at the close of the 1990s may be related to the series of literary debates that had taken place on the viability of German literature in the global marketplace. The issue at stake was graphically described by Martin Hielscher, one-time editor at the Cologne publishing house Kiepenheuer & Witsch: 'These days, German literature is all but disappearing, and not only in Europe, but also in America'.40 Indeed, the 'literature debate' (Literaturstreit) of 1990, initiated by articles by Ulrich Greiner and Frank Schirrmacher attacking east German author
INTRODUCTION 15 Christa Wolf41 and the literature not only of the GDR, but also of the 'old' West Germany,42 may, in retrospect, have been less about the pitfalls of the 'aesthetics of morality' (Gesinnungsasthetik), which had allegedly dominated German fiction,43 and rather more about the need to rescue German writing - and the nation - from its provinciality. Subsequent debates launched by writers such as Matthias Altenburg, Matthias Politycki and Maxim Biller, the latter alleging that German writing possessed 'as much sensuality as the city plan of Kiel' ('soviel Sinnlichkeit wie der Stadtplan von Kiel'),44 or by critic Uwe Wittstock in his Leselust. Wie unterhaltsam ist die neue deutsche Ltteratur? (1995) (How Entertaining is The New German Literature), propose various solutions to the dilemma of how best to revive German literature - calling for a 'new readability' (Neue Lesbarkeit), and looking to Anglo-American models - but respond to the same perceived problem. Whether it be the explosion in published fiction by 'ethnic-minority' writers that we are debating, or 'new pop literature', 'new readability' or 'new modernism', the spectre of globalisation is ever present. As much as in deliberations over budgetary and welfare policy, the Nazi past, foreign policy, the legacy of political radicalism, or multiculturalism - the debate about German literature in the age of globalisation is also a debate about values. Namely, the kind of image the 'new' Germany wishes to present to the world and the models it will look to in the construction of its identity.
GERMAN LITERATURE IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION The eleven essays collated in this volume examine the manner in which the impact of globalisation has been felt, and discussed, in Germany. This impact will be considered with reference to key literary texts and trends of the fourteen years following unification and especially from the mid-1990s onwards. The majority of the chapters emerged from a colloquium held at the University of Leeds in 2002; others were commissioned. Several of the pieces focus on single authors - Andreas Maier, Ingo Schramm, Martin Walser, or Christian Kracht - but most present overviews of the work of often less wellknown 'emerging writers' (to cite the title of a precursor of the present
16 STUART TABERNER volume, a special edition of the journal German Life and Letters published in 2002), and place them within key literary trends and directions that can be related to the phenomenon of globalisation.45 Paul Cooke's chapter on east German writing introduces a set of four essays, each of which deals, with a different emphasis and with reference to a different group of authors, with the relationship between the local and the global. For Cooke, in common with other contributors, Andrew Plowman and Stuart Taberner, this means an analysis of the notion of 'provinciality' in relation both to the national and the global. Beth Linklater's chapter, on the other hand, examines the interplay between 'Germany as background' and the centrality of global themes to fiction by the younger generation. In the examples she chooses, Linklater looks specifically at novels by the women writers (in)famously bundled together by Spiegel critic Volker Hage in what came to be established as the marketing and sales' label: das literarische Friiuleinzvunder, the 'literary wonder of the writer lasses'.46 Cooke begins with a discussion of the relationship in fiction by east German writers - and texts by western writers set in the east between the way in which the 'literary space' of the former GDR is depicted, and debates on globalisation. Post-unification east Germany, often seen as a microcosm of global social and economic change, is thus utilised by west German writers such as Karen Duve as the setting for an exploration of western conflicts. Alternatively, Cooke argues that the work of some east German authors features the east more conventionally as a repository of socialist values that might be set against globalisation; here, Cooke refers to Steffen Mensching and Wolfgang Hilbig. However, the work of other, particularly younger, writers from the east focuses less on the potential reimagining of socialist values than on the positing of local identity as resistance. This is seen in fiction by Ingo Schulze or Jakob Hein, or in texts by Jana Hensel or Heike Geifiler, as the vanguard of a new east German cultural identity in the new, globalised era. Andrew Plowman argues that the presentation of the 'old' West Germany, the pre-1990 FRG, in a number of novels from the mid-1990s onwards, can be similarly related to debates on globalisation. Plowman begins with an examination of the shift in the 1990s from an 'old' West German literary canon concerned with 'Enlightenment'
INTRODUCTION 17 (Aufklarung), and the project of coming-to-terms with the past, to fiction focusing on the quotidian reality of the consumer society that the FRG had become. This shift, he argues, is linked to the new assertiveness of the generation of '78, the emergence of the /89ers/, and the corresponding diminution of the influence of the '68ers'. Here, texts by Florian lilies, Uwe Timm and Matthias Politycki are analysed. Subsequently, Plowman turns to works by Bernd Wagner and Frank Goosen and posits that these 'lifestyle' novels, in harking back to the fashions of the 1980s, may express nostalgia for a less exposed, more innocent, West German consumerism pre-globalisation. In his closing sections, Plowman discusses Karen Duve and Hans Pleschinski, and argues that a number of the lifestyle texts of the 1990s inflect international trends of consumption and reception with a 'German sensibility'. In effect, these works 'glocalise' the standard tropes of the global culture industry or even draw on global connections in order to subvert domestic power structures. Plowman's reading may be set against Beth Linklater's. Alluding to novels by Judith Hermann, Julia Franck, Jenny Erpenbeck, Tanja Diickers and Katrin Dorn, Linklater argues that the success of these younger writers resides precisely in their ability to step out of their German contexts and tackle more global themes. This is a different understanding of globalisation, and one that sees it as a positive development insofar as it liberates the writer from the restraints of the national. It is also an understanding that engages with the sense of disorientation that precisely this dissolution of the familiar implies. Whilst noting the continued importance of the Nazi past even for the younger generation, as well as the phenomenon of glocalisation, Linklater concludes with a plea that we should endeavour to go beyond the stereotypes of German fiction and see it as part of an international mainstream. Linklater cites Frank Schirrmacher's article 'Idyllen in der Wiiste oder Das Versagen vor der Metropole' of October 1989, in which he berates the provinciality of the fiction of the (then) West Germany. Linklater implies that the younger writers she discusses succeed in breaking out of this provinciality, albeit in a quite different fashion to that envisaged by Schirrmacher. My later chapter in the present volume likewise engages with the concept of Germany's provinciality, in common with the pieces by
18 STUART TABERNER Cooke and Plowman already discussed. However, my focus is on the manner in which the "province7 (for Cooke, the east German 'province', for Plowman, the notion of a lost West German provinciality), can function as a site of resistance to globalisation. With reference to the work of Botho StrauS, Arnold Stadler and Hans-Ulrich Treichel, I trace the way in which a German province colonised first by industrial capitalism and, more recently, by globalisation is re-imagined, either nostalgically, ironically - with an undercurrent of genuine pain - or, in the case of Treichel, dismissively. Dieter Stolz's chapter on literary debuts was originally written as a polemical piece for the journal sprache im technischen zeitalter. Its aim is to look beyond the surfeit of marketing epithets ('young German literature', 'new readability', 'return of the epic'), and ask whether it is possible for talented writers to find outlets for their work, even when they 'fail' to slot into the neat advertising categories of the newly consolidated publishing industry. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Stolz finds that the best of recent German writing pays scant attention to the prescriptions of those who insist that imitation of Anglo-American styles is the only way to rescue German fiction, or those of the opposing faction who call for a return to 'art for art's sake'. In order to illustrate his point, Stolz presents Andreas Maier's Waldchestag (2000), another example of fiction about the province, as a complex work which, whilst it experiments with the formal possibilities of prose, is also saturated with a contemporary social reality. Stolz's argument is that Maier's novel resists the homogenising tendencies of the globalised book industry by means of superior writing and a blatant disregard for its attempt to create products for niche markets. Similarly, Stuart Parkes presents the work of a quite different, and far more established author, Martin Walser, as a genuine contribution to world literature rather than merely a knee-jerk exploitation of the latest fashion or market trend. Here, Parkes draws a distinction between what he sees, on one hand, as the lasting value of Walser's fiction as a genuine exploration of subjectivity, memory, language and the relationship of art to an immanent social and political reality, and 'pop literature', which he views as more ephemeral. For Parkes, Walser's work responds to globalisation by both refusing to 'dumb down' and continuing to engage with a German reality.
INTRODUCTION 19 In his chapter on Pitchers Blau (1996) by east German writer Ingo Schramm, Helmut Schmitz looks at another, quite different, case of resistance to globalisation. This novel, Schmitz argues, implies a critique of globalisation not only by its refusal to ally itself with the mainstream of contemporary German writing - particularly pop - but also by its philosophical engagement with the ideology of advanced capitalism. In a complex and wide-ranging engagement with Western thought reminiscent of Adorno and Horkheimer in their seminal Dialectic of Enlightenment - Schramm exposes the foundations of free-market capitalism and latterly, globalisation, as totalitarian and sees its universalist message as a form of colonisation. In this reading, even as GDR socialism is seen as having been rooted in the same Enlightenment drive towards the 'utopia' of social, political and cultural homogeneity as Western capitalism, German unification is viewed negatively, as a step towards the total victory of the market. Thomas Ernst's wide-ranging piece on pop literature responds to the criticisms implicit in texts by authors such as Walser and Schramm, and, indeed, in much of the media discussion of a phenomenon that seemed to dominate the literary market in the late 1990s. Ernst attempts a more differentiated picture of the evolution of the "new' pop literature, both contextualising it within the dialogue between German and AngloAmerican culture from the 1960s onwards, and isolating its various strands: 'the new mainstream pop literature', an 'advanced (Suhrkamp) pop literature', and 'the new underground pop literature'. Like Andrew Plowman, Ernst insists that aspects, at least, of contemporary pop literature go beyond the description of mere 'lifestyle' and experiment with language to critique present-day social reality. In this he alludes, in particular, to Social Beat, Slam Poetry and the 'kanak' movement initiated by Turkish-German writers. Ernst differentiates between several types of text: firstly, those which appear merely to replicate a globalised consumerist status quo, and its substitution of entertainment for critical thought; secondly, those which essay an aesthetically more complex engagement with this reality, but which may ultimately be part of a larger marketing strategy to develop niche markets, and thirdly, those in which a genuinely subversive voice may be heard. Frank Finlay's piece on Christian Kracht's cult novel Faserland (1995) takes a novel assigned by Ernst to the 'new pop mainstream' and
20 STUART TABERNER endeavours to show that it is far more than a mere vehicle for the neoliberal consumerist philosophy of brand names and designer labels. Rather, it tells of its protagonist's profound sense of alienation, even ennui, in a world in which the authentic, the subjective and the individual have given way to the homogeneity of the globalised "fun culture' (Spafikultur). Kracht's protagonist, Finlay argues, is certainly a snob, a dandy and perhaps even a right-wing homophobe, but he is also an acute observer of the banality of life in the Federal Republic and of the triteness of the modern-day marketing and advertising culture. Finlay's discussion of Faserland - the novel's title plays punningly on the words 'frayed land' and 'fatherland' - draws attention to the link between the text's implicit critique of globalisation, and its protagonist's lack of the sense of a German identity that might be able to resist the homogeneity of the consumer culture. The notion of 'German identity' is also central to the work of the 'minority writers' examined by Katharina Gerstenberger, although in a quite different mode. Kracht's protagonist regrets the obliteration of an 'authentic' German culture as a consequence of the Nazi massacre of Europe's Jews, and of the subsequent destruction of German cities, German traditions and even German unity, that might have been able resist Americanisation and, more recently, globalisation. The minority authors examined by Gerstenberger offer an alternative view. They subvert precisely the notion of a stable German identity, and especially one rooted in ethnicity or history, choosing instead to draw on a positive reading of globalisation, which facilitates a crossing of boundaries, an anarchic cultural mix and the positing of alternative identities. To illustrate this, Gerstenberger looks at the fiction of the Turkish-German writer Zafer §enocak, plus that of Yoko Tawada, a Japanese-German writer, and the work of Wladimir Kaminer, the Russian Jew celebrated for his laconic commentaries on immigrant communities in Berlin. Bill Niven's chapter on the globalisation of Holocaust memory and the sudden renewed interest from the end of the 1990s in German wartime suffering brings the volume to a close. Niven argues that the contemporary fascination across the world both with the annihilation of Europe's Jews, and the twentieth century's horrendous chronology of expulsion, dispossession and slaughter (including, in the 1990s, events in the ex-Yugoslavia and Rwanda) have had a significant
INTRODUCTION 21 impact on the way in which that most 'German' of themes - the Nazi past - is now presented in public discourse, as in literary fiction. Once again, we return to a more positive understanding of globalisation. Participation in worldwide debates on the prevalence and causes of genocide, the motives of perpetrators, and the universality of suffering has made it possible for German writers to approach the German past in a less blinkered fashion. German authors can now tackle subjects previously seen as taboo, notably the pain inflicted on Germans at the end of the war and beyond. At the same time, Niven cautions that the form of German identity that might emerge from this 'global' perspective may be instrumentalised as a form of escape from the specific history of German crimes. The contributions to this volume draw on different conceptualisations of the phenomenon of globalisation. Some focus on the individual's alienated relationship to the hegemony of a globalised consumer culture, some on the interaction of local or national identity and the threat of an imperialist homogeneity, others on formal or aesthetic resistance to globalisation. A number of chapters define the ways in which globalisation may play a positive role in the construction of new identities, political solidarity or even in the development of a global perspective that liberates Germany - and perhaps German fiction - from its perceived provinciality or narrow focus on its own past. Others, however, draw out the negative impact of globalisation on social cohesion, communitarian values and the integrity and stability of the individual and the population as a whole. Whatever the case, the very endeavour to shape a response to globalisation, to refuse to accept it as inevitable in the precise form currently being offered up to the inhabitants of the diverse communities of the world, implies a desire to shape a more dynamic, complex and textured German 'normality'.
Notes 1 John Tomlinson, Globalization and Culture (Polity: Cambridge, 1999), p. 2. 2 Fredric Jameson, 'Notes on Globalisation as a Philosophical Issue' in Fredric Jameson and Masao Miyoshi (eds.), The Cultures of Globalization (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1998), 54-77, pp. 57-8.
22 STUART TABERNER 3 David Held, A Globalizing World? Culture, Economics, Politics (London: Routledge, 2000). 4 Heinz Bude, Generation Berlin (Berlin: Merve Verlag, 2001), p. 23. 'Das kleine praktische Westdeutschland mit dem Arbeitnehmer als Lichtgestalt eines beispielgebenden Modernierungspfads schien sich in einer globalisierten Welt von Kapital, Informationsund Warensstromen zu verlieren'. 5 Peter Thompson, 'The PDS: "CDU des Ostens"? - Heimat and the Left' in Stuart Taberner and Frank Finlay (eds.), Recasting German Identity. Culture, Politics and Literature in the Berlin Republic (Rochester: Camden House, 2002), 127-45, p. 130. 6 Karl-Heinz Paque, 'From Miracle to Crisis? The German Economy at the End of the Twentieth Century' in Jens Holscher and Anja Hochberg (eds.), East Germany's Economic Development since Unification (London: Macmillan, 1998), 2-19, p. 4. 7 Eric Owen Smith, The German Economy (London and New York: Routledge, 1994) p. xvii. 8 Karl-Heinz Paque, 'From Miracle to Crisis?', op. cit., p. 17. 9 Lawrence McFalls, 'Eastern Germany Transformed: From Postcommunist to Late Capitalist Political Culture', German Politics and Society, 17:2 (1999), 1-24, pp. 2-3. 10 Feridun Zaimoglu, German Amok (Koln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2002), p. 114. 11 'Riickkehr in die Wirklichkeit', Der Spiegel 49 (30.11.98). 'Eine neue, iiberwiegend nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg aufgewachsene Politikergeneration fuhrt die drittgroGte Wirtschaftsmacht der Welt in einer neuen Hauptstadt mit neuer Wahrung in ein neues, globalisierungsschweres Jahrtausend'. 12 Oskar Lafontaine, Das Herz schlagt links (Munchen: Econ, 1999). In his 1998 book, Keine Angst vor der Globalisierung. Wohlstand und Arbeit fiir alle, written with his wife Christa Muller (Bonn: Dietz, 1998), Lafontaine had accepted the inevitability of globalisation but insisted that it could be combated by means of international cooperation on minimum working and environmental standards, regulation of currency markets, and coordination between the major economies. 13 See Jens Holscher and Anja Hochberg (eds.), East Germany's Economic Development since Unification (London: Macmillan, 1998). 14 See Corinna Freund, 'German Foreign Trade Policy within The EU and GATT' in Volker Rittberger (ed.), German Foreign Policy Since Unification (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001), 230-70. 15 See Stefan Berger, The Search for Normality (Oxford: Berghahn, 1997). 16 See, for example, Heimo Schwilk and Ulrich Schacht (eds.), Die selbstbewufite Nation (Frankfurt/Berlin: Ullstein, 1994). 17 Thomas Banchoff, 'Narratives of Globalization and Social Policy in Germany and the United States', (www.georgetown.edu/faculty/banchoff/NarrativesOfGlobalization.pdf) 18 Sebastian Harnisch, 'Die Politik in der Globalisierungsfalle? Theoretische Uberlegungen und empirische Befunde', (http://www.uni-trier.de/uni/fb3 /poUtik/Uba/hamisch/Pubs/Fach-GlobalisierungPDF). 19 Ben Rosamond, 'Globalization and the Social Construction of European Identities', Journal of European Public Policy 6:4 (1999), 652-68. 20 Heinz Bude, Generation Berlin , op. cit., p. 29. 21 See Sally Johnson and Stephanie Suhr, 'From "Political Correctness" to "Politische Korrektheit": Discourses of "PC" in the German Newspaper Die Welt', Discourse and Society, 14:1 (2002), 49-68. 22 Bill Niven, Facing the Nazi Past (London: Routledge, 2002), p. 5. 23 'Schuld und Schlufistrich', Der Spiegel, 49 (30.11.98).
INTRODUCTION 23 24 See Caroline Gay, 'National Memory Management in the "Berlin Republic"' in William Niven and James Jordan (eds.), Politics and Culture in Twentieth-Century Germany (Rochester: Camden House, 2003), 201-26, and especially her section 'Living with the Enemy: Schroder's "Neue Unbefangenheit" and the Positive Side of the Dialectic of Normality', pp. 208-10. 25 Cited in Christoph Bluth, Germany and the Future of European Security (London: Macmillan, 2000), p. 162. 26
See Nina Philippi, 'Civilian Power and War: The German Debate about Out-of-Area Operations 1990-99' in Harms Maull and Sebastian Harnisch (eds.), Germany as a Civilian Power (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001), 49-67.
27 See Florian Pfeil, 'Civilian Power and Human Rights: The Case of Germany7 in Harms Maull and Sebastian Harnisch (eds.), Germany as a Civilian Power, op.cit., 88-107. 28 Adrian Hyde-Price, 'Germany and Kosovo War: Still a Civilian Power?,' German Politics 10:1 (2001), 19-34, pp. 32-3. Harms Maull makes a similar argument in his 'Germany's Foreign Policy, post-Kosovo: Still a Civilian Power?' in Harms Maull and Sebastian Harnisch (eds.), Germany as a Civilian Power, op. cit., 107-27. 29
For more on the 'Generation '89', see Der Generationenbruch, a special edition of Kursbuch, 121 (September 1995).
30 Cited in Ingo Cornils, 'Successful Failure? The Impact of The German Student Movement on The Federal Republic of Germany' in Stuart Taberner and Frank Finlay (eds.) Recasting German Identity, op. cit., 109-26, p. 113. 31 Matthias Politycki, 'Endlich aufgetaucht: Die 78er Generation' in Die Farbe der Vokale (Munchen: Luchterhand, 1998), 19-22, p. 19. 32 Heinz Bude, Generation Berlin, op.cit., p. 24. 33 'Ich bin auf die Leistungen der Menschen und auf die demokratische Kultur stolz. Und in diesem Sinne bin ich ein deutscher Patriot, der stolz ist auf sein Land'. 34 Martin Walser, 'Deutsche Sorgen IT in Martin Walser, Deutsche Sorgen (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1997), 453-67, p. 463. 'Wir haben ihn nicht mitgenommen auf unseren Westtrip. Wir haben ihn zu Hause gelassen, den Deutschen'. 35 Arnold Stadler, Sehnsucht (Koln: Dumont, 2002), p. 42. 36 Peter Sloterdijk, Die Verachtung der Masse (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1999), p. 17. 37 See Patricia Hogwood, 'After the GDR: Reconstructing Identity in Post-Communist Germany7, Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics, 16.4 (2000), 45-68, pp. 58-9. 38
See Roland Robertson, Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture, (London: Sage, 1992) and his article 'Globalisation or Glocalisation?', Journal of International Communication, 1:1 (1994), 33-52.
39 Tom Cheesman, 'Akc.am - Zaimoglu - "Kanak Attak": Turkish Life and Letters in German', German Life and Letters, 55:2 (2002), 180-195, p. 182. 40
Martin Hielscher, 'Literatur in Deutschland - Avantgarde und padagogischer Purismus' in Andrea Kohler and Rainer Moritz (eds.) Maulhelden und Konigskmder. Zur Debatte tiber die deutschsprachige Gegemwrtsltteratur (Leipzig: Reclam Verlag, 1998), 151-5, p. 151. Heute ist die deutsche Gegenwartsliteratur nicht nur in Europa, sondern auch in Amerika eine schwindende Grofie'.
41 See Ulrich Greiner, 'Mangel an FeingefuhT, Die Zeit (01.06.90). This essay and other contributions to what came to be known as the Literaturstreit are collated in Thomas Anz (ed.), "Es gent nicht nur urn Christa Wolf." Der Literaturstreit im vereinten Deutschland (Munchen: Spangenberg, 1991). See also Frank Schirrmacher, 'Dem Druck des harteren, strengeren Lebens standhalten', Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (02.06.90). Also in Thomas Anz, (ed.), Es geht nicht nur um Christa Wolf, op. cit., 77-89.
24 STUART TABERNER 42 Frank Schirrmacher, 'Abschied von der Literatur der Bundesrepublik', Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (02.10.90), LI, p. 2. 43 Ulrich Greiner, 'Die deutsche Gesinnungsasthetik', Die Zeit (09.11.90) in Thomas Anz, (ed.), Es geht nkht nur um Christa Wolf, op.cit., 77-89, 208-16. 44 Maxim Biller, 'Soviel Sinnlichkeit wie der Stadtplan von Kiel', in Andrea Kohler and Rainer Moritz (eds.), Maulhelden and Konigskinder, op. tit., 62-71. Hereafter SV. 45 German Life and Letters, special edition on 'Emerging German Writers', edited by Frank Finlay and Stuart Taberner, 55:2 (2002). 46 Volker Hage, 'Literarisches Frauleinwunder', Der Spiegel, 22 (22.03.99), p. 7.
East German writing in the age of globalisation1 Paul Cooke
In the wake of the PDS's poor performance in the Federal elections on 22 September 2002, when they failed to clear the 5% hurdle, one might be forgiven for thinking that 'east German', as a homogeneous term to describe the inhabitants of the eastern states (Lander), is becoming ever more redundant. The almost total absence from the 2002-6 Bundestag of what is, fundamentally, an eastern regional party could be read as the beginning of the end of inner-German disunity, proof positive of the demise of a distinctive sense of east Germanness and of the acceptance by the east of an essentially west German political culture.2 Furthermore, the party's demise on the Federal level would also seem to mark the beginning of a new phase in the political discussion of globalisation in Germany, since the collapse of the PDS also removes one of Germany's most vociferous voices against the current trajectory of global capitalism. In the recent Bundestag inquiry, or Enquete Kommission, into the subject, the PDS was by far the most vehement in its rejection of the commission's findings, which in general saw global trends as being of benefit to German society.3 Instead, the party argued, the present forces of globalisation at work in the world are leading to nothing more than the erosion of democracy and welfare provision by the financial markets.4 Globalisation, the PDS suggested, is simply the colonisation of national economies and political institutions by neo-liberalism under the leadership of the United States. The almost complete removal of the PDS from the Bundestag, its supporters would argue, leaves the way clear for a new political reality
in which 'backward-looking' concepts such as welfare provision can be jettisoned in order for the Federal Republic to be able to compete in a world where the market reigns supreme. Although in political discourse opposition to certain forms of globalisation or the concept of a separate east German identity might seem to be on the wane, this is not the case in the literary sphere, where the category of 'east German writing' remains useful in discussions of contemporary German culture. Moreover, in much of this east German fiction we find an implicit or explicit discussion of what globalisation means, as well as the effects this phenomenon is having on Germany and the rest of the world. In this chapter, I examine the relationship between east German writing and globalisation in a number of literary texts published since the late 1990s. As we shall see, the vast majority of writers discussed here embody what David Held has defined as the 'pessimistic position'5 on globalisation, suggesting that increasing interconnectivity is an exploitative force which brings with it cultural homogeneity. Within the east German context, this issue is inevitably connected to the question of German unification, since the aftermath of unification is often viewed as a microcosm of the globalising trends found in the rest of the world. Indeed, since the early 1990s, unification has been represented by many in political and cultural discourses as the colonisation of the east by global capitalism. This process of colonisation is seen to be eliding the pre-unification experience of east Germans from the historical record, and leaving a large section of the population of the new states feeling strongly alienated from contemporary German society.6 However, before we can examine the way globalisation has been represented, it is first necessary to address the question of what constitutes east German writing. A definition would initially seem to be fairly straightforward: texts written by authors who have grown up in the former East Germany. However, a development that is particularly interesting in regard to discussions of literature and globalisation, and that has largely been ignored by critics, is the use of the east by west German authors to explore the 'colonisation' of the old FRG by the forces of neo-liberalism. Taking, therefore, east German writing to also include texts set in the new states, the opening section of this chapter examines how west German authors such as Karen Duve construct the
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east as a world yet to be inscribed with the Western, Americanized values that ostensibly now dominate the old states.7 In the east such writers find a space where they can reconstruct an imagined version of pre-1989 German society, and where an older set of values, countering those of neo-liberal globalisation, can continue to exist. Here we see the former GDR portrayed as a mystical 'Other', a separate world in which writers are able to explore tensions at work in their own Western society, which they still view as being distinct from the east. Conversely, the work of east German writers such as Steffen Mensching and Wolfgang Hilbig sees a return not to west German values, but rather a revisitation of the Eastern Bloc's socialist project. During the Cold War, when globalisation could be viewed as a struggle between the 'first' and 'second' worlds, dominated by the USA and USSR respectively, the GDR was at the front line of those countries which saw the future of the planet not in terms of global capitalism but of international Marxism.8 This second section examines how the east continues to be viewed by some writers as a reservoir of Marxist values.9 In these texts one finds the construction of east Germanness based on an idealised version of GDR socialism, through which their authors attempt to highlight the banality of western consumer culture. In other east German texts we discover less an ideological construction of easternness than one based on a visceral understanding of what it means to have grown up in the former GDR. In my third section I shall explore this trend in Ingo Schulze's Simple Storys (1998), a novel that at first appears to be pessimistic in its view of globalisation and increasing cultural homogeneity.10 Nevertheless, we also find here an echo of what Held terms the 'optimists' position' on globalisation, a stance which is, in fact, hinted at in Mensching's text discussed in the second part of this chapter. Schulze puts the experience of east Germans into a global context, raising its status by showing points of connection between east Germans and other communities. In so doing, he attempts to protect the local specificity of this experience, in turn resisting the forces of cultural homogeneity the novel also describes. This attempt to protect local specificity in the face of cultural homogeneity is one of the dominant trends within current east German writing, and is particularly prevalent amongst the youngest
generation. Typical of this generation of writers is Jakob Hein, whose first collection of stories, Mein erstes T-Shirt (2001) is discussed here. Unlike Schulze, the work of Hein and others focuses on the pre-Wende experience of east German citizens. He attempts to overcome a perceived colonisation of the East German past by the west, which these writers feel allows only a limited reading of GDR history, one that focuses on the oppressive institutions of the state and that ignores the everyday experience of the population. In the discussion of globalisation in all three sections we see the east German population portrayed as either needing, or being forced, to catch up with developments in the west. Yet some commentators claim that this could not be further from the truth. The political scientist Lawrence McFalls, for example, argues that 'the shock therapy of unification' and concomitant rapid implementation of capitalism in an area largely unprotected by the entrenched social welfare provision of the old FRG mean that the population of the new states are actually 'ahead of Westerners on their common path to a neo-liberal global society'. McFalls continues that, structurally at least, the eastern states are paradoxically more 'Western', that is more like the US, than west Germany.11 In my concluding section, I look at two other young writers, Jana Hensel and Heike GeiSler, who seem to underline this development, exploring how the eastern regions might in fact be at the vanguard of a new German society, one which is pointing the way to a new understanding of German cultural identity within a globalised world.
GLOBALISATION IN WESTERN REPRESENTATIONS OF THE EAST One of the most interesting developments in recent German literature, particularly with regard to the discussion of globalisation, is the use of the former GDR as a landscape for the work of west German writers. As Stephen Brockmann notes, prior to 1989 the vast majority of West Germans 'took for granted the utter lack of importance of the GDR'. This indifference continued in discussions on the process of unification, in which it was assumed that the unified state would simply be an
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enlarged version of the old FRG.12 However, Brockmann goes on to point out that although the east was seen as irrelevant, it was, ironically, actually central to many of the cultural debates at the time. This centrality was illustrated most obviously in the Literaturstreit, the 'literature debate', of 1990 which began with an examination of GDR writing, but ended up questioning the validity of postwar German culture on both sides of the Wall.13 The dismissal of Eastern culture, Brockmann suggests, belied an implicit construction of the East as an ideological 'Other' which had always existed and through which the West defined itself: The reunification of Germany, if it simply meant the swallowing up of East Germany by West Germany, did indeed pose a major problem for West German identity also. West Germany suddenly lost its ideological Other, the specific location of its Utopian hopes and its dystopian fears.14 In the years since unification it has, of course, become ever clearer that 3 October 1990 did not simply signal the expansion of the old FRG, but that both former German states have had to change, to a lesser or greater extent. Whilst the east has undergone a rapid and fundamental metamorphosis, in the west there has been a more gradual realisation that the old FRG's special status within the global community is no longer tenable. The left-liberal consensus that had dominated West German society since the student movement of the late 1960s has been increasingly eroded, as Germany becomes involved in international military operations and the social market economy is slowly dismantled. In novels such as Norbert Zahringer's So (2001) or Karen Duve's Regenroman (1999), one finds a response to such economic and cultural change through the reconstruction of the east as 'Other' to the west.15 In turn many of these texts seek, somewhat counter-intuitively, to reconstitute a pre-1989 western value system. As a result, we find here a curious form of what Andrew Plowman, in his chapter in this book, calls 'Westalgie', or nostalgia for the old FRG that paradoxically can only find expression through an eastern setting. In Regenroman the east becomes a symbolically charged 'Other' through which Duve attacks rampant neo-liberal globalisation, as
well as the patriarchal society that ostensibly produces it, from the standpoint of a pre-unification, West German feminist value system. Echoing the work of West German, post-student-movement feminist writers from the 1970s such as Karin Struck and Verena Stefan, the novel can be seen as a reassertion of the validity of the mores of this generation of writers, mores that are no longer in vogue in contemporary society. The novel tells the story of Martina, a young woman from a well-off West German family who has spent her whole life under the influence of domineering men, first her father and then her gruff, macho husband, Leon. Leon is a writer who lands a lucrative contract to produce the biography of the underworld thug and pimp, Benno Pfitzner (R, 26). Following this, Leon and his wife decide to leave their hometown of Hamburg and buy a house in the east German countryside. Here they hope to live a domestic life of bourgeois bliss. However, as in Struck's Klassenliebe (1973), many of the class pretensions of the novel's characters are undermined.16 Once in the east they find a grotesque, antediluvian world, populated by curious largerthan-life characters. The longer they stay in this grotesque 'Other7, the more obviously futile their aspirations become. This is shown symbolically by the incremental invasion of their domestic idyll by what is represented as a disgusting, abject east German environment in the shape of rain and, more disturbingly, a plague of snails that they cannot keep out of their house (R, 109). Nevertheless, as their bourgeois affectations are stripped away, both characters come to a better self-understanding. Firstly, it becomes clear that Leon's wish to live the life of an affluent writer, served by his dutiful wife, is an empty dream since it is based on his dependence on Pfitzner. Pfitzner is the ultimate free-marketeer, the end product of a laissez-faire capitalist system where everything, including women and creativity, are nothing more than commodities. The brutality of the world inhabited by Leon's patron is graphically revealed at the end of the novel. Unable to write the book Pfitzner demands, Leon is visited by this gangster who exacts terrible revenge when he has his lackey violently rape Martina, an act which highlights Leon's total impotence (R, 235-42). More important, however, is the effect of the rape on Martina. Although the rape is shown as an unforgivably brutal act, it leads, nevertheless, to a moment of self-realisation which brings about
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Martina's ultimate liberation from patriarchal rule. In the final moments of the attack, Martina and Leon's house is stormed by their two powerful female neighbours (R, 244-5). These two east German women kill both Pfitzner and his lackey, freeing Martina, whom they take away with them to their house. In this female space Martina at last gains the strength to free herself emotionally from the influence of her husband. She never returns to Leon, who we eventually see commit suicide, unable to recover from the crushing of his machismo by Pfitzner (R, 298).17 In Regenroman, Duve uses the east to locate her critique of the values of patriarchal capitalist society, revisiting the narratives of an earlier generation of West German women writers. In the novel's denouement the violence of naked, unchecked neo-liberalism, embodied in the figure of Pfitzner, is made clear. Martina is brought to a better self-understanding and is consequently liberated from the shackles of patriarchy, a system that is symbolically destroyed in the text through the death of all the main male protagonists. Martina is left to exist in a matriarchal space, a space that can only find expression in the home of her east German neighbours. The fact that Duve is revisiting the themes of an earlier decade is also suggested in the book's poetic use of language, which stylistically recalls the writing of Struck and Stefan, and differs markedly from much contemporary literature. This is a point made by several reviewers, who praised the fact that the text escapes the Americanised 'pop' sensibility which has dominated recent German fiction. As Jorg Albrecht points out in Die Zeti: 1 am also grateful to see that it is dearly possible to write a contemporary novel without having to describe the complete musical works of Oasis or the spring collection of Tommy Hilfiger'.18 Here Albrecht would seem to be attacking writers such as Judith Hermann who make particular use of popular culture in their work. But ironically, Duve owes at least some of her success to the marketing machine that is driving the pop phenomenon. She, like Hermann, has been marketed as part of the Frauleinwunder phenomenon (discussed in Beth Linklater's chapter in this volume), the German variant of the global genre of 'chick-lit'.19
REVISITING EAST GERMAN SOCIALISM AND THE REPRESENTATION OF GLOBALISATION It is, of course, not only west German writers who use the new Lander as a prism to critique Western values. This is also a key impulse in many texts by contemporary east German authors. In the work of some older writers such as Christa Wolf who, although critical of the GDR, never lost faith in the value of its socialist project, one sees a continued belief in socialism as a global power of good, which can protect the individual and help improve society.20 This position is also found in the work of some younger writers, most notably Ingo Schramm, whose first novel, Pitchers Blau, published in 1996, includes a symbolic battle between the forces of socialism versus those of global capitalism,21 and Steffen Mensching, whose recent text, Jakobs Letter (2003) is examined below.22 Another somewhat curious contribution to this group of novels is Wolfgang Hilbig's Das Provisorium (2000) ,23 This is curious because, before the Wende, Hilbig had no truck with the view of writers such as Wolf that there was something to be salvaged in the East German State,24 and instead remained highly critical of life under the SED. He now appears to hold up aspects of its socialist project as a useful corrective to Western consumer culture, a development that Hilbig himself has noted. He suggests: 'Perhaps we will realise one day that becoming part of the Federal Republic has made us into the GDR citizens that we never were when under force'.25 It seems that the GDR only made sense once it had been swallowed up by Western capitalism. Its authoritarian power having now been destroyed, all that remains are its ideals. Das Provisorium deals with the experience of C., a GDR writer in exile who is forced to come to terms with living in the Federal Republic prior to unification. Having struggled in vain to gain recognition as a writer in the East, he is finally given a visa to travel to West Germany in the mid-1980s. Once there, he at last has the opportunity of living as a full-time artist, a life he has always craved. However, he finds it impossible to settle into Western society and instead begins to suffer from a profound crisis of identity. He descends into a haze of alcohol abuse and, most crucially of all, loses the ability to write. The price of the freedom that he longed for in East Germany has been high. He has
EAST GERMAN WRITING IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION 33 lost all familiar points of orientation and has been left with a disturbing sense of homelessness (P, 16). Although set in the 1980s - C/s Wende effectively takes place three years before the events of 1989 - the novel clearly addresses the experience of many east Germans since unification. Rather than finding the promised land in the Federal Republic, he finds a vapid consumer culture in which everything is for sale. Indeed, the controlling influence of consumerism on the individual is constructed in C/s mind as a new form of fascism. The narrator visits a shopping mall towards the end of the novel, provocatively exclaiming in one of his numerous drunken rants, 'Shopping macht frei' ('through shopping to freedom' - an ironic reworking of the concentration camp slogan: 'through work to freedom') [emphasis in original] (P, 263). In so doing he re-invokes the official rhetoric of the GDR, which saw National Socialism as the final stage of late capitalism. What is particularly lamentable for C. is that literature has no value in the shallow, disposable culture of the West. Although he has now gained public recognition as a writer, he fears that he has become nothing more than a cog in the Western literary media machine (P, 70). Also, the books he once prized in the GDR now simply pile up in his room, suggesting that he himself has been infected by this philistine Western world where literature is a commodity - and one which has little value (P, 216). The status of literature in a world dominated by global capitalism is also lamented in Steffen Mensching's Jakobs Letter. This text describes the author's experience of living in New York in the 1990s and similarly tries to recover aspects of the GDR's socialist project in the face of neoliberal globalisation. Whilst in the city Mensching stumbles across a German bookshop and its eccentric owner, Jakob. The author falls in love with Jakob's collection of books, which have come mainly from left-wing German Jews living in exile. When Jakob tells him that he wishes to sell off his collection, the narrator decides to find a way to buy it. It soon becomes clear, however, that it is not so much the contents of the books that fascinate the author, but rather how they came to be in Jakob's collection. The story slowly mutates into a quasi-detective narrative, as the narrator pieces together the stories of some of the books' previous owners. We learn, for example, of Hilde, who was imprisoned before
the war for being a Trotskyite. Released in 1939, her freedom was shortlived as she was shipped off almost immediately to a concentration camp, finally being saved by none other than Oskar Schindler (J, 410). Travelling further back in time Mensching traces the life of Abraham Jacobi, the founder of the 'Communisten [sic] -Club New York'. We discover how Jacobi escaped from Germany to the US in the midnineteenth century. Travelling via Britain, he meets up with Frederick Engels in London (J, 129-228), before going on to a life as a left-wing activist in the US. In the New York of the 1990s, nobody wants to read books anymore. Through buying the collection, Mensching wishes to salvage the authenticity and individuality that it represents for him. Saving the books becomes a means of salvaging the individual histories of their owners. In turn, the narrator's attempt to safeguard literary culture in New York is seen as a means of protecting against a broader trend towards cultural homogeneity which is constructed in the text as a by-product of global capitalism. Mensching refers to this, half jokingly, in 'Globalisierung', one of the many poems that punctuate the text: Im Shanghai-Garden in China Town, muhsam die letzten Reiskorner vom Teller pinzettierend, erkannte ich meinen durch und durch reaktionaren Standpunkt, als ich, ein rundum satter, gliicklicher Buddha in der Fremde, im Spiegel sah, wie Wirt, Koch und Kellnerin ihre Ente, suSsauer, mit Gabeln aus Plaste verzehrten, verzweifelt, ob dieses schnoden Verrats, zerbrach ich unter dem Tisch, iiber uns, meine Stabchen. (J, 332) (In the Shanghai Garden in China Town, laboriously tweezing the last grains of rice from my plate, I became aware of my thoroughly reactionary point of view as I, a completely bloated, happy Buddha abroad, looked in the mirror while the landlord, cook and waiter consumed their sweet-and-sour duck with plastic forks. Confused by this contemptible betrayal, I broke my chopsticks under the table, over us).
EAST GERMAN WRITING IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION 35 In New York, authentic culture is giving way to a homogenising 'Mc'version, in which foreign communities must conform to Western norms. Ironically, we see the Chinese restaurateur and employees happily eating their sanitised version of Asian cuisine with plastic forks. It is the poet who uses chopsticks, this way of eating being reserved for those paying customers who wish to pretend to themselves that they are having an "authentic' experience. While the narrator fears a loss of authenticity, he does not suggest that globalisation need necessarily be seen as a destructive force. As he explores the provenance of the books in Jakob's collection a counterdiscourse to neo-liberal globalisation emerges, reminiscent of debates that raged between the 'first' and 'second' worlds during the Cold War. The story of the communist Jacobi and his travels across the world shows how left-wing groups have always used global networks in their struggle against capitalism. Although capitalism would seem to be in the ascendance, the narrator clearly believes that international Marxism remains an important weapon to counter it (J, 35). Here we begin to hear echoes of Held's 'optimistic globalist' position, which highlights the potential benefits of worldwide communication. This optimistic position is also suggested in Mensching's attempts to place the individual stories of persecution that lay behind the history of the books into a global context. In this way he suggests points of correspondence in the plights of various left-wing and Jewish groups around the globe. The comparison of Jewish and communist suffering is of course problematic, raising the question of whether the Holocaust should be seen as a unique historical event. In Mensching's text this is even more controversial because the stories of Jewish and communist suffering at the hands of the Germans are then juxtaposed with stories of suffering from the author's own, non-Jewish, family and from his life in the GDR. These latter stories are themselves overshadowed by the difficulties his mother's family faced when his uncle was falsely imprisoned by the Soviets in the aftermath of the war (J, 26-30). The poem discussed above may show us the downside of globalisation, but Mensching also highlights the commonalities in the experience that disparate groups have had of the world as a 'global village'. As Held comments, this forces the reader to think of him/herself as a global citizen.
PLACING THE LOCAL ON THE GLOBAL STAGE: PROTECTING EASTERN SPECIFICITY The need to place the local on the global stage in order to protect cultural diversity in the face of the homogenising forces of global capitalism is found in a number of texts by contemporary east German writers and is perhaps the dominant trend currently. The most successful of these to date has been Ingo Schulze's Simple Storys. Ein Roman aus der ostdeutschen Provinz.26 In a series of 29 short stories, told from a variety of narrative perspectives, the novel plots the lives of a group of people from Altenburg, a provincial town in the former GDR, from early in 1990 to 1997. Schulze's protagonists come from a broad range of social classes and generations. We meet the Meurer family, at the head of which is Ernst Meurer, a retired head teacher and ex-party official who is struggling with social exclusion after the collapse of the old regime, a struggle which eventually leads both to the failure of his health and his marriage. His stepson Martin is a redundant academic whose life also falls apart after he loses his job. This event leads indirectly to the death of his wife in a road accident and rejection by his son. The death of Ernst's wife brings Barbara Holitzschek into the narrative. She is a doctor and politician's wife, who is responsible for the accident, and although not prosecuted for it, is gradually consumed by guilt. Elsewhere in Altenburg, we see a day in the working life of middle-aged businessmen such as Christian Beyer, a man struggling to maintain a local advertising newspaper, and Raffael, the boss of a failing taxi company. From the younger generation, we are introduced to Jenny, a student nurse who we learn has been prostituting herself to an older married man. This man, it transpires, is Dieter Schubert, a former colleague of Ernst Meurer, who still bears the scars of his denunciation by Meurer to the party before the GDR's collapse. From this brief overview of the book's content it is clear that these are far from discrete narratives. The further we progress through the stories, the more we realise that each of the characters is linked through a highly involved system of interconnections which the reader is invited to explore. Individual figures appear again and again, often in different constellations and in different settings. Each story constitutes a
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momentary snapshot in the changing lives of the people of Altenburg, as we see them move from relationship to relationship and from job to job. Through the engagement of the reader the interstices between these events are then filled and, as a result, the ostensible dichotomy between the title and subtitle is removed. These are far from singular 'simple stories', but are - as the author himself labels them in his table of contents - chapters in an intricately structured novel. Central to the success of Simple Storys was undoubtedly Schulze's use of the American short story tradition. Peter Michalzik notes the importance of the influence of Hemingway, Anderson and Raymond Carver on Schulze's text. In addition, he, like many other critics, sees Robert Airman's filmic reworking of Carver, Short Cuts (1993), as an essential precursor to the novel.27 In this film Airman interweaves a number of Carver's stories to produce a tragic-comic image of life amongst the underclasses of suburban America. To an extent, Simple Storys can be seen as an east German version of Altaian's film. In a similar fashion to Mensching, Schulze places the experience of east Germans into a broader context, showing points of correspondence between Airman/Carver's characters in the suburbs of Los Angeles and the inhabitants of the east German provinces. Thus Schulze attempts to 'globalise' the phenomenon of being on the periphery of a wealthy capitalist society. At the same time, Schulze also wishes to highlight the local specificity of his character's experience. In one of the few wholly hostile reviews the book received, Andrea Kohler, albeit unintentionally, actually hints at Schulze's subtle uses of the American form, which she sees as the novel's central weakness: 'Schulze's prefabricated prose is provincial, because it attempts to pass off home-made jam as the sort of up-market preserve you can buy in the Kaufhaus des Westens'.23 Kohler sees Simple Storys as a pale, home-made imitation of the American 'real thing'. Yet, for Schulze himself, the notion of being a pale imitation is actually the point. Speaking in an interview on his experience of living in New York, he claims: 'Although it sounds strange, part of the culture that defines us comes from New York. You find many of the things there in their pure form, which we get here more or less watered down. And it is this watering down which is the important thing'.29 The novel accepts the fact that the inhabitants of Altenburg live in a Westernised
world. However, the notion of writing a watered-down version of Raymond Carver, that is of attempting, but to a degree failing, to appropriate an American voice, throws into greater relief the fact that Schulze is writing a novel about the experience of non-Americans. Schulze copies the American tradition, but the copy is deliberately imperfect, pointing to the incongruity between the colonising force of neo-liberal globalisation and the experience of east Germans. This sense of incongruity is, of course, suggested in the title of the novel. 'Simple Storys' is, the author insists, to be pronounced as German, the apparently incorrect spelling of 'Storys' being the correct German plural as it appears in Duden.30 In Simpk Storys, Schulze focuses directly on post-Wende feelings of alienation. In a number of other texts, particularly by younger authors such as Jakob Hein (to whom I shall return), Thomas Brussig, Andre Kubiczek, Falko Hennig and Karsten Krampitz, we find this sense of alienation expressed more indirectly. These writers are not looking at present-day east Germany, but at life in the GDR.31 Specifically, this group of authors attempt to correct what they see as the one-sided portrayals of the GDR which have dominated the German media since the early 1990s. These portrayals have tended to construct the East as a 'Stasi-state' which perverted all human interaction, making a 'normal7 life impossible.32 In so doing, such writers, like Schulze tend to use literature as a means of communicating cultural diversity in the face of globalising homogeneity. One particularly interesting group of writers that work within this trend are those connected to the Vorlesebuhne scene that has grown up in the Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain areas of east Berlin. In this scene we see the same tensions found in Simple Storys between a view of globalisation as the Americanisation of the world and the need to protect a specific sense of east Germanness. On the one hand, the Vorlesebuhnen are a development of the 'Poetry Slam', or pop poetry competitions imported to Germany from the US, which were influential in nurturing many of Germany's 'pop' authors (see Thomas Ernst's contribution to this volume). On the other, they are a reworking of the East German traditions of satirical cabaret, as well as the alternative poetry scene which grew up around Prenzlauer Berg in the 1970s and 1980s.33 The connection to the Prenzlauer Berg scene is neatly highlighted by one of
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the most successful of these groups, the Reformbuhne Heim und Welt which performs every Sunday in Kaffee Burger, a venue owned by Bert PapenfuG-Gorek, one of the best known of the Prenzlauer Berg poets from GDR times. Jakob Rein's Mein erstes T-Shirt is typical of the work of the Reformbiihne's members, consisting of a collection of satirical short stories describing the author's life in the GDR. The focus of these stories is generally on the 'normal' everyday experience of growing up. We learn, for example, of his attempts to impress his friends with his guitar-playing prowess at parties (M, 9-13), as well as the problems of negotiating puberty and dealing with girls (M, 107-9). Initially, the book appears to be a worrying piece of Ostalgie, that is a text which sees the GDR through rose-tinted spectacles, and which might ultimately be read as an apology for the SED dictatorship. However, as one reads on, it becomes clear that Hein does not ignore the problems of living under the authoritarian rule of the SED. At times, he fiercely attacks the ideology of the ruling elite, ironising, for example, the stories that he was told in school about how the Berlin Wall was built to protect the GDR population from fascism (M, 110). Yet, he suggests, even under such conditions 'normal' human interaction could still take place, thereby implying that the historical experience of east Germans should not necessarily be seen as tarnished because it took place in the GDR.
EAST GERMANNESS AS A NEW GLOBAL IDENTITY Hein was born in 1971 and, at the time of writing Mein erstes T-shirt, had spent half his life in the GDR and half in the FRG. Paradoxically, this has left him feeling simultaneously at home and marginalised in both the east and the west. This position is echoed in the description of Hein in the introduction to his book by Wladimir Kaminer, himself probably the best-known member of the Reformbuhne: 'With an ironic look, western currency in his left-hand pocket, and eastern in his right. In short, a man of the world made in the GDR' (M, 6).34 The moment of dislocation, produced by the collapse of the GDR, has given Hein and the rest of his generation a broader cultural perspective than many in
the west because they have travelled between different societies. In turn, this has given rise to a broader sense of German identity that is neither wholly eastern nor western. Reflecting once again Held's more optimistic view of globalised planet, Hein's experience allows him to identify with different communities, suggesting that he can best be seen as a citizen of the world. The notion of neither being eastern nor western is reflected in a number of texts by young east German writers. However, not all of these writers have the same optimistic view of this social development that we see in Hein. In this concluding section I wish to look briefly at two eastern writers who have a far more pessimistic outlook on current social developments. In the work of Jana Hensel and Heike GeiGler one finds the sense of dislocation described by Hein related to the experience of living in a new global reality in which a sense of Tiomelessness' is seen as endemic to modern life. Concurring with the view of Lawrence McFalls, quoted in my introduction, east Germany is not portrayed as a region that still lags behind the west. Rather, the experience of young easterners, in such texts, seems to point the way forward to a new global state of dislocation, a dislocation which is, in fact, found in the work of young writers throughout Germany, and indeed the rest of the Western world. Jana Hansel's Zonenkinder (2002) mixes Hein's examination of growing up in the GDR with Schulze's exploration of post-unification east German alienation. Born in 1977, Hensel was thirteen at the time of the Wende. In this autobiographical essay the events of 1989 are portrayed as the moment when the author lost her innocence.35 The Wende closed Hensel off from her childhood, leaving the author with a profound feeling of dislocation and homelessness: They are like doors into another time, those final days of childhood, days that we didn't know would be our last at the time. This other time has the smell of a fairytale about it, and we can no longer find the right words to describe it. (Z, 13)36 Through writing, the author wishes to reconnect with this past life, which she feels has been rubbed out from history. She digs deep into her memory in a recollection of life as a young girl. However, it gradually
EAST GERMAN WRITING IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION
becomes obvious that a reconstruction of the past is impossible, since she has also been formed by her experience of living in a Westernised capitalist society: 'We are the first westerners from east Germany and our origin can no longer be recognised in the way we speak, act and look' (Z, 166).37 For Hensel, the only way that her generation can construct a sense of identity is by highlighting its feeling of not belonging: 'We grew up in neither the GDR nor the Federal Republic. We are the children of the "Zone"' (Z, 159).38 Hensel views east Germans of her age group as lost. As such she is not alone. Zonenkinder can, in fact, be seen as an east German manifestation of the North American 'Generation X' phenomenon, a term first coined by the Canadian writer Douglas Coupland. Coupland identifies a rootlessness in his generation, whose lives are characterised by the change and instability of a Western neo-liberal economy, where status is marked by one's ability to buy the latest consumer fad, where the individual is forced to move to find work, and where a job for life is a thing of the past.39 This is an impulse which is also hinted at in a number of recent west German texts, including Regenroman, already discussed. A more obvious point of contact with Coupland, and indeed Hensel, might be Florian Illies's bestseller Generation Golf (2001), in which the emptiness of present-day society, described in Regenroman and Generation X, manifests itself in the nostalgic fetishisation of the 1980s, and in particular the consumer products of this era.*' The connection between lilies and Hensel has also been noted by Voker Weidermann who actually describes this east German author as part of a 'Generation Golf des Ostens', 'a generation Golf of the east'.41 That said, in Hensel we see a more radical representation of this current sense of rootlessness, perhaps suggesting that she and other east German writers are at the vanguard of a new development in contemporary culture, and that eastern alienation may be the shape of things to come for all Germans as the west finally 'catches up' with the east on the path to a globalised world. In the work of writers such as Hensel one finds a form of what John Tomlinson calls 'deterritorialisation'. Tomlinson uses this term to describe the specific manifestation of homelessness a globalising economy produces. 'Deterritorialisation', he suggests, is the 'simultaneous penetration of local worlds by distant forces, and the dislodging of
everyday meanings from their 'anchors' in the local environment.42 In Zonenkinder, Hensel's generation becomes the embodiment of just such a 'deterritorialized' culture which can only find a community by constructing a sense of a 'Wir', a 'we', existing within a liminal space that stands outside of traditional localities connected to physical places with a real sense of history. This notion of 'deterritorialisation' is also to be found in Heike Geifiler's novel Rosa (2002), which tells the story of a young woman living in Leipzig who abandons her family immediately after the birth of her first child.43 Initially she runs away to Berlin, where she tries to build a new life for herself. However, she finds no peace there, and so sets off on a journey through Europe and America, attempting in city after city to build a new life. Like Hensel, Rosa finds it impossible to construct her identity positively. The current trajectory of her life has, she feels, 'come about through defiance' ('Entstanden aus Trotz'), her only means of defining her sense of self being through the negation of the roles that both society and her biology have conferred on her: Rosa can no longer be a friend, a mother or a child. It would even be better if she could stop being Rosa, at least here. Elsewhere all these roles, all these situations will fade into the past. (RO, 118-19)44 In each of the places she travels to, she hopes to find both liberation from her past self and a new sense of belonging. Yet in each town there is very little difference in her experience. Her sense of homelessness and alienation remains with her whether she is with her family in Leipzig or living in a rented room in New York. Place is irrelevant in this homogenised, Westernised world. Her only fleeting moments of happiness come when she is on the move, a state which brings with it the potential for future change (RO, 9). Unfortunately, this change is never realised and the novel ends with Rosa on the point of returning to her old life. Although this could be viewed as a happy ending, the novel doses ambiguously. Having contacted her partner by phone, she returns to her motel, apparently happy. Yet she can no longer trust her emotions: 'It is difficult to trust in a pleasant feeling when it has been absent for so long' (RO, 214).*5 There is no real sense that the
EAST GERMAN WRITING IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION
return home will allow her to escape her sense of alienation. Might it not simply be the next phase in a life of perpetual motion, in which she keeps travelling in order to ignore her feelings of homelessness? Throughout this chapter we have seen writers use both the east German states and the experience of east Germans to explore the forces of globalisation present in the world today. In the texts of some west German authors the east is constructed as a primitive, mystical 'Other7 in which writers search for a space outside the neo-liberal, Americanised society of west Germany. Rather unsurprisingly, this tendency to exoticise the former GDR is not found in texts by east German writers. Instead, particularly in the work of older authors, we see the east serve as a reservoir for socialist values through which they look to critique global capitalism. Many contemporary east German writers, however, have a less ideological understanding of east Germanness. Instead, their texts manifest a visceral urge to protect the specificity of their local experience in the face of what they perceive as the current global trend towards cultural homogeneity. Finally, we find the bleakest view of globalisation. In the texts by Hensel and Geifiler the specificity of the east German past is lost. East Germanness is marked as a 'non-identity7, which can only articulate its sense of homelessness. As such, these writers seem to radicalise the work of some of their western contemporaries, suggesting that the east German youth are, perhaps, at the vanguard of a new rootless 'Generation X7, moving ever forward towards a neo-liberal global dystopia.
Notes 1 This chapter was completed during a period of research leave funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board. 2 For further discussion of the PDS as an east German regional party see Dan Hough/ The foil and rise of the PDS in eastern Germany (Birmingham: University of Birmingham Press, 2001), 113-46. It should be noted that although the PDS does not currently play a major role on the Federal Level, it is still an important player on the Land level. With regard to the demise of a specific east German political culture, one might, of course, also argue that rather than being on the wane, east German specificity has now simply been accepted by the mainstream parties, the failure of the PDS being due to the ability of the SPD to respond to the specific needs of the east German electorate. 3 Deutscher Bundestag, 'Vorwort' in Deutscher Bundestag 14. Wahlperiode, EnqueteKommission 'Globalisierung der Weltwirtschaft: Herausforderungen und Antworten' (Drucksache 14/9200), 47-^8, p. 47.
4 PDS, 'Minderheitsvotum der PDS-Arbeitsgruppe zum Endbericht der EnqueteKommission "Globalisierung der Weltwirtschaft"' in Enauete-Kommission 'Globalisierung der Weltwirtschaft', 536-62, p. 538. 5
David Held, A Globalizing World? Culture, Economics, Politics (London: Routledge, 2000), p. 22.
See, for example, Wolfgang Dumke and Fritz Vilmar (eds.), Kolonialisierung der DDR. Kritische Analysen und Alternativen des Einigungsprozesses (Munster: Agenda, 1995).
7 J. H. Reid notes that it has in fact always given commentators a headache trying to define east German writing. In his discussion of writing during the GDR period he suggests that, particularly in the wake of the Biermann expatriation as more and more writers left, it became ever harder to define precisely what was meant by a GDR writer. J. H. Reid, Writing Without Taboos: The New East German Literature (New York: Berg, 1990), pp. 16-17. 8
See also Malcolm Waters, Globalization, 2nd edn (Routledge: London, 2001), 123-81.
For further discussion of Marx and globalisation see Jules Townshend, 'The Communist Manifesto and the Crises of Marxism', in Mark Cowling (ed.), The Communist Manifesto: New Interpretations (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998), pp. 177-59.
10 Ingo Schulze, Simple Storys. Ein Roman aus der ostdeutschen Provinz (Berlin: Berlin, 1998). Hereafter S. 11 Lawrence McFalls, 'Eastern Germany Transformed: From Postcommunist to Late Capitalist Political Culture', German Politics and Society, 17:2 (1999), 1-24, pp. 2-3. 12 Stephen Brockmann, Literature and German Unification (Cambridge: CUP, 1999), p. 57. 13 See Thomas Anz (ed.), 'Es geht nicht um Christa Wolf: Der Literaturstreit im vereinten Deutschland (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1995). 14 Stephen Brockmann, Literature and German Unification, op. cit., p. 60. 15 Norbert Zahringer, So (Berlin: Fest, 2001); Karen Duve, Regenroman (Frankfurt am Main: Eichborn, 1999). Hereafter R. 16 Karin Struck, Klassenliebe (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1973). 17 For further discussion of the novel see Beth Linklater, '"Philomela's Revenge": Challenges to Rape in Recent Writing in German', German Life and Letters, 54:3 (2001), 253-71. 18 Jorg Albrecht, 'Gurgeln in Priesnitz. Karen Duve schreibt ein gnadenloses Debut und macht fast alles richtig', Die Zeit (11.03.99): 'Dankbar nimmt man auch zur Kenntnis, dafi es offenbar moglich ist, einen Gegenwartsroman zu schreiben, ohne das musikal-ische Gesamtwerk von Oasis zu schildern oder die Fruhjahrskollektion von Tommy Hilfiger'. 19 For further discussion of the 'Frauleinwunder' phenomenon see Peter Graves, 'Karen Duve, Kathrin Schmidt, Judith Hermann: "Ein literarisches Frauleinwunder"?', German Life and Letters, 55:2 (2002), 196-207. 20 For an overview of Christa Wolf's work since the Wende see Peter Graves, 'Christa Wolf in the 1990s', in Martin Kane (ed.), Legacies and Identity: East and West German Literary Responses to Unification (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2002), 51-66. 21 For further discussion of this novel see Helmut Schmitz's chapter in this volume. See also my 'Escaping the Burden of the Past: Questions of Identity in the Work of Ingo Schramm', Seminar, 40:1 (2004), 35-49. 22 Steffen Mensching, Jakobs Leiter (Berlin: Aufbau, 2003). Hereafter J. 23 Wolfgang Hilbig, Das Provisorium (Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer Verlag, 2000). Hereafter P. 24 For an examination of Hilbig's pre-Wende position see my Speaking the Taboo: An Examination of the Work of Wolf gang Hilbig (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000), 1-54.
EAST GERMAN WRITING IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION 45 25 Wolfgang Hilbig, 'Kamenzer Rede', Preis- und Dankreden (Rheinsberg: Kurt Tucholsky Gedankenstatte, 1996), 13-16, p. 16. 'Vielleicht wird uns eines Tages die Erkenntnis kommen, dafi erst jener Beitritt zur Bundesrepublik uns zu den DDR-Burgern hat werden lassen, die wir nie gewesen sind, jedenfall nicht solange wir dazu gezungen waren'. 26 For a fuller exploration of this novel, see my 'Beyond a Trotzidentitat? Storytelling and the postcolonial voice in Ingo Schulze's Simple Storys', Forum for Modern Language Studies, 39:3 (2003), 290-305. 27 Peter Michalzik, 'Wie komme ich zur Nordsee? Ingo Schulze erzahlt einfach Geschichten, die ziemlich vertrackt sind und die alle lieben', Thomas Kraft (ed.), aufgerissen: Zur Literatur der 90er, (Miinchen: Piper, 2000), 25-38, p. 31. 28 Andrea Kohler, 'Salzstangen zum Kaffee,' Neue Ziircher Zeitung (19.03.98). 'Schulzes Plattenbau-Prosa ist provinziell, weil sie die selbsteingemachte Marmelade gegen die Konfittire aus dem Kaufhaus des Westens aufbietet'. 29 Thomas Geiger, 'Die grofie Lust, etwas iiber Ostdeutschland zu sagen': ein Gesprach mit Ingo Schulze, in Frankfurter Rundschau, (20.03.99). 'Aus New York, so komisch das jetzt klingt, kommt naturlich ein Teil der Kultur, die uns pragt. Dort hat man vieles in Reinform, was man hier nur mehr oder minder verdunnt bekommt. Und dieses Verdiinnte ist hier das Bestimmende'. 30 Ingo Schulze, 'Fur mich war die DDR einfach nicht literarisierbar', Freitag (06.10.98). 31 See Thomas Brussig, Am kurzeren Ende der Sonnenallee (Berlin: Verlag Volk&Welt, 1999); Jakob Hein, Mein erstes T-Shirt (Miinchen: Piper, 2001). Hereafter referred to as M; Andre Kubiczek, Junge Talente (Berlin: Rowohlt, 2002); Falko Hennig, Trabanten (Miinchen: Piper, 2002); Karsten Krampitz, Der Kaiser vom Knochenberg (Ullstein: Berlin, 2002). 32 See Mary Fulbrook, German National Identity after the Holocaust (Cambridge: Polity, 1999), 217-31. 33 For a discussion of east German cabaret both before and after the Wende see Joanne M. McNally, 'Shifting Boundaries: An Eastern Meeting of East and West German "Kabarett"', German Life and Letters, 54:2 (2001), 173-90. For a discussion of the Prenzlauer Berg Scene see Karen Leeder, Breaking Boundaries: A New Generation of Poets in the GDR (Oxford: Clarendon, 1996). 34 'mit Ironic im Gesicht, Westgeld in der linken Hosentasche und Ostgeld in der rechten. Also: ein Weltmensch made in DDR'. 35 Jana Hensel, Zonenkinder (Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt Verlag, 2002). Hereafter Z. 36 'Heute sind diese letzten Tage unserer Kindheit, von denen ich damals natiirlich noch nicht wusste, dass sie die letzten sein wiirden, fur uns wie Txiren in eine andere Zeit, die den Geruch eines Marchens hat und fur die wir die richtigen Worte nicht mehr finden.' 37 'Wir sind die ersten Wessis aus Ostdeutschland, und an Sprache, Verhalten und Aussehen ist unsere Herkunft nicht mehr zu erkennen'. 38 'Wir sind weder in der DDR noch in der Bundesrepublik erwachsen geworden. Wir sind die Kinder der Zone'. 39 Douglas Coupland, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture (London: Abacus, 1992). 40 Florian Ulies, Generation Golf. Eine Inspektion (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 2001). 41 Volker Weidermann, 'Jana Hensels biographischer Essay "Zonenkinder" erzahlt von der Generation Golf des Ostens', Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Sonntag (08.09.02). 42 John Tomlinson, Globalization and Culture (Polity: Cambridge, 1999), p. 29. 43 Heike Geifiler, Rosa (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 2002). Hereafter RO.
44 Treundin darf Rosa nicht mehr sein. Mutter nicht. Kind nicht. Und bestenfalls auch nicht mehr Rosa. Zumindest nicht hier, und woanders werden all diese Rollen, all diese Zustande verblassen, in Vergangenheit geraten'. 45 'Es 1st schwer, einem angenehmen Gefuhl zu trauen, wenn es lange Zeit nicht da war'.
'Was will ich denn als Westdeutscher erzahlen?': the 'old' West and globalisation in recent German prose Andrew Plowman
'Was will ich denn als Westdeutscher erzahlen?'1 asks the protagonist of Hans Pleschinski's autobiographical novel Bildnis eines Unskhtbaren (2002): 'What, as a West German, could I possibly have to write about?'. This novel, which belongs to the explosion of literary discourses about the pre-unification FRG since the mid-1990s, is part of a trend that has been largely ignored by commentators searching for the novel of German unification. Indeed, critics have tended to privilege texts about the GDR and its transformation.2 Accordingly, its narrator's question reflects his fear that the continuities of everyday life did not offer West German writers the rich narrative quarry that the GDR and its transformation offered eastern counterparts. He worries that 'the most pointed and lively manuscripts are being written in Gera and Leipzig [...] west German writers, on the other hand, look old and precious' ('in Gera und Leipzig die spritzigsten Manuskripte verfafit wurden, [...] wohingegen westdeutsche Literaten abermals alt und delikat aussahen', B, 195). Yet it also mirrors a growing realisation that the advent of the so-called 'Berlin Republic' in the 1990s marked an end for the modest pre-unification FRG, and cast its history in a new, and some claim, definitively positive light3 If Pleschinski's 1993 novel Ostsucht performed an act of mourning for the GDR - an object against which the postwar FRG was, albeit only partly,4 defined - then Bildnis arguably invokes the markers of West German history between 1949 and 1989,
48 ANDREW PLOWMAN and beyond, in a comparable act of remembering, re-evaluating and bidding farewell. Significantly, though, the narrator's question is also linked to a further issue: globalisation. According to Ulrich Beck, writing in 1998, the debate about globalisation erupted rudely in the 1990s into the self-absorption of a German nation preoccupied, after unification, with its own identity. Its message was that the concept of nation state and national culture so central to post-unification soul-searching was outmoded in the age of transnational economic and cultural flows. What made the shock of globalisation all the greater for Germans was the way it undermined the fundamental categories of a postwar identity in the FRG. This identity was grounded in national economic success on the one hand, and a corporatist model of the state with its defined welfare structure on the other.5 Pleschinski's narrator gives his explanation of the parameters of the debate in the new millennium: The term globalisation surfaced in public debates. Some meant by the term the inevitable, prosperous growing together of the continents into an association blossoming in freedom and democracy. Sceptics by contrast predicted the end of the specific and the disappearance of regions and their characteristics in a cheerless state of mediocrity. (B, 184)6 In short, what does 'West Germanness' mean in an era of increasing global interconnectedness with all its uncertainties, gains and losses? And what does globalisation mean for, or bring to, the literary representation of 'West Germanness'? This chapter offers a critical examination of recent prose writing about the 'old', pre-unification Federal Republic in an endeavour to seek answers to the issues Pleschinski's novel raises. Its first part argues that recent writing about the FRG vividly illustrates a shift in German literature from the project of critical Aufklarung, 'critical enlightenment', which had dominated postwar writing, to 'lifestyle' themes and an aesthetic of consumption. This shift is part of a process of generational shift centred on the meaning of '1968', that is, the student radicalism of the mid- to late 1960s. It presents the FRG in the 1970s and 1980s as a thoroughly Western consumer society, and points
THE 'OLD' WEST AND GLOBALISATION
toward wider trends in the international book market. The framework for the subsequent part of the chapter is provided by recent debates about cultural globalisation. The fundamental positions in this debate echo those outlined by Pleschinski above, with so-called 'optimistic' globalists, for whom increasing global interconnectedness 'promotes the sharing of cultures' and the establishment of new cultural networks, arrayed against 'pessimistic' globalists who 'see the world as becoming less diverse and more homogeneous'.7 Looking principally at Frank Goosen's Liegen lernen (2000) and Karen Duve's Dies ist krin Liebeslied (2002), the second part of the chapter examines whether the turn towards 'lifestyle' themes does indeed reveal a process of homogenisation within an increasingly globalised book market. While the texts offer evidence for this view, it is argued that a more differentiated interpretation is required of the way in which aesthetic forms are given a 'local' twist through the (re)inscription of signifiers of 'Germanness'. The final part of the chapter takes 'optimistic' views about cultural globalisation as a starting point for a discussion of the way in which Pleschinski's Bildnis eines Unsichtbaren uses wider global perspectives as the basis for an alternative vision of the history of the FRG. Here, globalisation is seen as a signifier to be exploited in the construction of new narratives and subject positions.
LITERARY EXPLORATIONS OF THE FRG: TOWARDS AN AESTHETIC OF CONSUMPTION In a key passage in his Zeitgeist manual Generation Golf (2000) - a text which claims to embody the sensibility of the last generation to have been socialised in the FRG before unification - Florian lilies forcefully flings the Enlightenment dialectic espoused by the generation of '1968' back in its face. lilies declares that it is: 'Time for an end to the stories about 1968, to the culture of critical suspicion, to the identity of politics and one's awareness of life, to the fug of twenty years of alternative culture. Time, simply, to put a stop'.8 Here, Ulies's diatribe against the so-called '68ers' is symptomatic of a proliferating discourse of 'generational shift'9 in the 1990s. Through this shift the perceived
cultural hegemony of the generation of '1968' was contested and the left-liberal intellectual consensus supposedly dominating FRG society challenged.10 Taking one view, the motif of generational shift figures prominently in recent literary engagements with the West German student revolt by former '68ers' such as Ulrike Kolb and Uwe Timm. Thus Ulrike Kolb's Friihstuck mit Max (1999) or Uwe Timm's ROT (2001) reassess the legacy of '1968' following the advent of younger generations.11 However, the generational shift is illuminated from the other side in explorations of the FRG of the 1970s and 1980s from the perspective of younger so-called '78ers',12 that is, the generation that either just missed out on, or was caught up in, the aftermath of the revolt. Examples of this would be Ulrich Woelk's Ruckspiel (1993) and Die letzte Vorstellung (2002), Thomas Lehr's Die Erhorung (1995) and Nabokovs Katze (1999), Michael Wildenhain's Erste Liebe - Deutscher Herbst (1997), Matthias Politycki's Weiberroman (1997), Ulrich Peltzer's "Alle oder keiner" (1999) and Dorothea Dieckmann's Damen & Herren (2002). The same motif also features in a group of 'pop'-influenced texts by younger writers dealing with the experience of growing up in the FRG of the 1980s. These texts include David Wagner's Meine nachtblaue Hose (2000), Jess Jochimsen's humorous Das Dosenmilch-Trauma (2000), Goosen's Liegen lernen (2000), Duve's Dies ist kein Liebeslied (2002) and, although not strictly a novel, Illies's Generation Golf (2000). However, Illies's call for an end to the identity of 'sensibility toward life' ('Lebensgefuhl') and politics which defined the generation of 1968 points to another central issue in the texts - a movement toward what could be described as 'lifestyle' themes and an aesthetic of consumption. The texts that emerge from this shift are shaped by significant literary debates of the 1990s. These include: the German-German Literaturstreit of the early 1990s which called into question the sociallyengaged literature of the 'old' FRG (the 'factory for the production of West German consciousness', as Stephen Brockmann puts it13); the controversies surrounding 'pop literature' which exploded aggressively onto the scene in the mid-1990s;14 and the related disputes about the supposed rediscovery of unencumbered storytelling in the 'new storytelling', or 'Neue Erzahlbarkeit'.15 If '1968' and its legacy became, after 1990, 'one side of the coin in the battle to define the self-image of this Berlin Republic' ('eine Miinze im Kampf um das Selbstverstandnis
THE 'OLD' WEST AND GLOBALISATION 51 dieser Republik'),16 as Wolfgang Kraushaar argues, then what is at stake in these debates is nothing less than the legacy of the project, or critical Aufklarung which dominated postwar literature. In short, '1968' emerges in recent writing about the FRG, as the site of a generational fissure and of concomitant thematic and aesthetic shifts. This is succinctly illustrated in texts from those who both took part directly and those who came later. On the surface, Timm's 2001 novel ROT condemns the ideals of '1968' to the process of generational eclipse. This includes the desire to dissolve 'the law of gravity governing capitalism' ('das Gravitationsgesetz vom Kapitalismus'), and the dream of an essentially different life' (Traum von einem anderen Leben').17 When Thomas Linde, jazz critic, funeral orator and former '68er', is commissioned to deliver the oration of a former comrade, he remembers values he had forgotten in the process of attrition that was 'the long march through the institutions'. By this he means the subsequent insinuation of former student radicals into positions of influence in politics, media and education (R, 183). Upon Linde's own death, however, the present and the future apparently belong to the pragmatic and utilitarian generation characterised by his younger lover Iris. For this generation, happiness is no longer the 'objective social condition' described by Herbert Marcuse (R, 72), the thinker who so influenced the '68ers'. Rather, it is the consolation offered by the ability to combine, here and now, 'what she wants to do with what is useful to her' ('das, wozu sie Lust hat, mit dem, was ihr Nutzen bringt', R, 32). Yet the novel pointedly holds on to those values by appealing to a fragment by Marcuse which Linde finds among his former comrade's things: 'What in reality counts as Utopia, as a pipe dream or as revolt is allowed there [in literature]. In art, affirmative culture shows those forgotten truths over which reality triumphs in everyday life' (R, 278).18 Though it appears to render critical impulses that run counter to the status quo more harmless, art at least preserves such impulses. Thus Timm refuses to completely write off an aesthetic stance characterised by commitment to what Jiirgen Habermas describes as the ongoing project of modernity.19 In the literary representations of the FRG by the post-'1968' generations, by contrast, the critical and aesthetic perspectives held open by Timm are dosed off. The '78ers' have been constructed in post-unification discourses as
52 ANDREW PLOWMAN a generation 'lost' in the shadow of '1968'.20 In the 1997 Weiberroman by Matthias Polity cki, the self-styled champion of the '78er', Gregor Schattschneider comes of age in a 1970s' Germany in which public discourse is still dominated by the rhetoric of the '68er', and the political stage by the battle over their legacy. Yet growing up in the small town of Lengerich, Schattschneider and his companions appear curiously detached from the critical and political inheritance of the generation of '1968'. In their mouths, terms like 'dialectics' and 'critical consciousness' ('Dialektik' and 'kritisches BewuStsein'), are misunderstood and meaningless phrases, useful at best for trying to impress the opposite sex.21 For them the wider unfolding of demonstrations sweepingly described as being either for or against the Radikalenerla.fi (decree banning 'radicals' for civil service posts in the 1970s), or for or against the RAF (Red Army Faction) (W, 33) are remote. They are certainly a less vivid backdrop than the musical sounds of the 1970s and early 1980s to the immediate concerns of growing up in the provinces, infatuation and relationships, and of getting to grips with adult life and urban living. What is at stake here is a disengagement from the ideals of '1968' and, in literary terms, the displacement of the critical aesthetic, which at least residually characterises Tirnm's '68er' novel ROT, by a more private absorption with 'lifestyle' issues stripped of any political dimension.22 A point to note is that in Politycki's novel and, more broadly, in the literary self-constructions of the '78er', this preoccupation with themes of infatuation, growing up and the burdens of adulthood has a repetitive and circular quality. Where Politycki's Weiberroman is organised around the cyclical patterns in Schattschneider's infatuation with Kristina and Tania and his faltering relationship with Katarina, Thomas Lehr's 1999 novel Nabokovs Katze is dominated throughout by the protagonists' obsessive and unresolved infatuation with the exotic Camille from his hometown of S. And in Dieckmann's Damen & Herren of 2002, in which a class reunion revolves around unfinished business from schooldays in the 1970s, it is the arduous, disappointing and finally elusive quest for adult responsibility that is thrown into relief. The narrator Maria sets the tone for the novel as a whole when she observes near the start: 'I sensed [...] vaguely the feeling that I had always struggled more with my incipient
THE 'OLD' WEST AND GLOBALISATION
freedom than for it' ('Ich empfand [...] die Ahnung, daS ich schon zu Schulzeiten eher mit der beginnenden Freiheit zu kampfen hatte als tun sie').23 This repetitive, circular quality encapsulates the emptiness of West German society for those who grew up in the immediate wake of the '68er'. In one way, they profited from the relaxation of social mores achieved by the generation of '1968', but in another, they were born too late to gain access to, and to participate in, its political Utopia. Consequently they were left stranded in the no man's land of their private self-absorption. In the work of younger, often 'pop'-influenced writers like Wagner, Goosen and lilies, however, the turn to 'lifestyle' themes is perhaps more assertive. For them the notion of 'lifestyle' is added in its more recent determination as consumption. In Wagner's Meine nachtblaue Hose published in 2000, for example, the repudiation of the ideals of '1968' is, as in fllies's case, stronger, underpinned by a more open generational conflict, albeit one that never ignites. The narrator thus dismisses his father's stories about the revolt as 'not as good as those of my fairy-tale records' ('nicht so gut wie die meiner Marchenplatten).24 As in Generation Golf, the vacuum left in contemporary society is filled by consumption and by consumer culture. For Wagner's narrator, key struggles were not ideological but 'the primary school battles of Geha versus Pelikano [stationary]' and 'Adidas versus Puma' ('Grundschulkampfen Geha gegen Pelikano' and 'Adidas gegen Puma', NH, 154; compare GG, 23). A similar point could be made in Goosen's Liegen lernen about the role played by the consumption of popular music and television, from German bands like Fisher Z. to late 1980s' Prince, from the imported US series of the 1970s to the television experience of the Wende itself.25 In their fetishisation of lifestyle and consumption, these representations of the FRG in the 1980s and early 1990s reflect the 'depthlessness' and 'weakening of historicity' which Fredric Jameson describes as the signature of a postmodern condition. Jameson continues, the 'desperate attempt' to appropriate the past 'is now refracted through the iron law of fashion change and the emergent ideology of the generation'.26 Yet, in terms of a key debate of the 1990s, the consumption of both German and wider international brands by Wagner's and Goosen's narrators, constructs the FRG in this period as a 'normal' and thoroughly unremarkable Western consumer society to have grown up and come of age
in. This is a society in which the burdens of German history, still fundamental to the self-conception of the '68er', are receding from view. It is no coincidence, then, that the movement towards themes of lifestyle in these texts is complemented by a conspicuous turn to an aesthetic of consumption. This in turn points to wider trends on the international book market. If brands and popular cultural forms are mobilised as markers of the consumer's lifestyle choices, they also signal an aesthetic stance in which texts posit themselves as commodities and point to the anticipated mode of their own consumption. Goosen's Liegen lernen is a case in point in the way that it positions itself as a certain kind of product for a certain market. This is illustrated by the motifs described (the FRG in the 1980s, nostalgia, popular music, romance and coming of age and adulthood), and the LP depicted on the dust jacket. Precisely what kind of product is instructive in the context of globalisation. Goosen's story of wavering romantic commitment and CD-collecting bears all the hallmarks of a bestseller by the English author, Nick Hornby, as Thomas Brussig observed in Der Spiegel.27 Hornby's texts Fever Pitch (1992) and High Fidelity (1995) may be counted amongst the most dramatic international success stories of publishing in the 1990s.28 Brussig notes further that the connection suggests the turn toward lifestyle themes and an aesthetic of consumption belongs in the context of wider trends toward convergence within an increasingly international global literary marketplace. Is Goosen's Liegen lernen, in short, evidence of processes of cultural homogenisation at work?
THE FRG BETWEEN CULTURAL HOMOGENISATION AND 'GERMAN DIFFERENCE' In the German feuilletons the 'pessimistic' voices have been the most prominent in the discussion about literature and cultural globalisation. In 2002, Rainer Moritz summarised the crystallising orthodoxy that processes of concentration within publishing were at the root of a progressive homogenisation:
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Where publishing houses merge, expectations of returns are heightened and manuscripts are marketed and sold on a worldwide basis, the parameters change for authors. If they want to survive [...] they [...] must have their writing determined for them by the market.29 Moritz implicated, in a cultural and aesthetic levelling of literature, not just the dominance of middle- and lowbrow writing but also the ascendancy of a sophisticated postmodern aesthetic that militated against originality and specificity. In so doing, Moritz was wryly pointing a finger at Matthias Politycki. The latter's essay 'Der amerikanische Holzweg' (2000) had advocated a 'European aesthetic' based on a distinctly postmodern multiple coding ('Mehrfachcodierung') of the surface of the text. This was to be the answer to an American 'cultural imperialism' which was spawning, in the German context, an '"anglogerman-newhighpidgin literature"' without distinguishing features.30 In certain respects, Politycki's vision of American cultural imperialism sums up the worst case scenario of the 'pessimistic' globalists: the erasure of cultural difference not just under the auspices of Western consumer culture in general but of American popular culture in particular.31 It is easy to read the turn to lifestyle themes as proof of the presence of wider processes of cultural diffusion and homogenisation at work. If commentators source to North American writers like Douglas Coupland or Bret Easton Ellis the preoccupation with brands and commodities in the work of German 'pop' and 'pop'-influenced writers, the significance of Hornby is no less visible in the basic thematic material.32 Hornby is by contrast notably absent from the list of authors name-checked by as influential an arbiter of the Zeitgeist as lilies. Take the link Brussig suggests between Goosen's Liegen lernen and Hornby's writing. For example, Goosen's novel about the FRG in the 1980s shares with Hornby's High Fidelity a plot organised around the refusal of a (male) protagonist to grow up, and the eventual acceptance of adult responsibility in bowing to the imperative to settle down in a stable relationship.33 In Goosen's closing dialogue, the narrator Helmut, 'an irresponsible arsehole incapable of forming a relationship' ('ein verantwortungsloses, bindungsunfahiges Arschloch', LL, 9), shows a
willingness to renounce his selfish behaviour toward his partner Tina: 'She said: "Are you going to stay?" I said: "If you want me?" ('Sie sagte: "Wirst du bleiben?" Ich sagte: "Wenn du mich willst?", LL, 297). Relationships and essential gender difference are central issues, with a self-consciously 'laddish' masculinity pitted against a more socially responsible femininity. In Pokorny lacht (2003) - the follow-up to Liegen lernen - Friedrich Pokomy, with studied political incorrectness, sums up the popular perception of men and women as alien species from Mars and Venus: 'Sometimes you really are as strange as an African tribe' ('Manchmal seid ihr auch wirklich so merkwurdig wie ein Negerstamm, oder?').34 For both writers, popular cultural artefacts like rock songs offer protagonists both a means of biographical selfreflection and of positioning themselves in relation to the spirit of the age. After meeting his first love Britta one last time before he renounces her, Helmut drunkenly sings the group REM's 'It's the end of the world as we know it', a song already newly resonant after November 1989 (LL, 207). Other striking parallels include the need for distance from the outmoded values of older generations (for Helmut this means both his petit-bourgeois father and Britta's liberal '68er' parents). There is also the contrast of provincial or suburban upbringing with cool but potentially anonymous urban living (Helmut's journey takes him from dull Ruhrgebiet suburbs to Munich and Berlin). A final point is the confessional and intimate tone of first-person narratives laced with irony and self-deprecation. For Goosen's publisher wit, irony and laconic self-evaluation (all proclaimed on the dust jacket) were certainly important selling points. Goosen's text is certainly not the only one about the FRG in the 1980s to suggest convergence within an increasingly global publishing industry. Another might be Duve's 2002 novel Dies ist kein Liebeslied. Here, the narrator Anne Strelau recalls her childhood and adolescence in the suburbs of Hamburg while flying off, in the frame narrative, to London during the 1996 European football championships and the height of 'Britpop' to meet Peter Hemstedt, the enduring target of her infatuation. In her hand luggage are the music tapes compiled for her by the men she has (spectacularly unsuccessfully) dated. The conjunction of music and relationships echoes Hornby, but Duve also calls to mind another iconic 'Brit-lit' text, Helen Fielding's Bridget
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Jones's Diary (1996). Like Fielding's character, Strelau is obsessed with her yo-yoing weight and succumbs to faddish and nonsensical diets (the 'mayonnaise diet')35 and bouts of self-loathing in her failure to live up to the ideals of female beauty imposed by the culture and fashion industries. Similarly, Strelau mirrors some of the contradictions of contemporary so-called post-feminist constructions of femininity.36 Her cynicism about the reality of relationships is surpassed only by her unfulfilled desire that Hemstedt requite her love. 'Why can't you love me?', she asks him at the close ('Warum kannst du mich nicht lieben?', KL, 275). To what extent does a thematic and motivic convergence really amount to the wholesale stripping away of diversity in the processes of cultural homogenisation - let alone Americanisation - described by the pessimistic globalists? That circumspection is called for is apparent already when one considers that figures like Hornby or Fielding might themselves be engaged in the construction of a distinctly 'British' voice (irony, self-deprecation etc.), albeit one that is easily marketed and more adaptable. (In the film version, High Fidelity was relocated to Chicago and, according to the director Stephen Frears, given the more upbeat and optimistic feel of the Hollywood romantic comedy).37 Whilst acknowledging a degree of homogenisation within the West, among the young and in mass culture, globalisation theorists increasingly reject the monolithic idea of cultural homogenisation. Rather, they favour more differentiated accounts of 'the ways in which cultural products are locally consumed, locally read and transformed in the process'.38 For Ulrich Beck, underlying processes of 'delocalisation' always mean a 'revival of local colour', though with a pessimistic twist, he adds that this may serve as a signifier of product differentiation on a global market.39 For the optimistic globalists, cultural globalisation means the potential for the emergence of 'cultural hybrids and new global networks'.40 Goosen's and Duve's reception of the values and style associated with constructions of 'Britishness' is itself an interesting avenue of inquiry. But of more immediate concern is the question of the (re)inscription of signifiers of 'Germanness' into their texts. The signification of Germanness emerges as a theme in Duve's novel when Strelau reflects on the difference between English and German rock on the tape Hemstedt once made for her:
ANDREW PLOWMAN The English songs sounded more relaxed, melodious and more in touch with life, while the German ones were full of distortion, resonance and dissonance and claimed that life was dull and sex no fun [...] Love songs, Weltschmerz songs, 'brain' songs and screeching songs [...] and [...] then a piece in which someone shouted "I will fly away with you, in a balloon, into the land of fantasy, into the FRG". (KL, 165-66)41
Here, 'Germanness' is signified through the terms of the German rock music that Strelau listens to in a key moment of self-reflexivity in the text. Distortion, dissonance, and an abstract self-absorption with 'mind' and Weltschmerz: this is Duve's novel, which is much darker than those of Hornby or Fielding, though it is leavened with a very black comedy Dies 1st kein Liebeslied offers a journey through an interior world shaped by all manner of thoughts and fantasies about overeating, illness and suicide. In so doing Strelau's obsession with her weight tips into the physical grotesque and toward a profound revulsion with her female body (for instance, KL, 9). The novel also offers, perhaps in terms of the song about the FRG she cites in the above passage, a vision of the suburban normality of the FRG in the 1980s which seems poised to spin off into the realms of the fantastic. Significantly, Duve's text refuses Hornby's and Fielding's more or less 'happy' romance plot endings, a difference that has already been signalled - and again by means of German rock - in the allusion to the song 'Kein Liebeslied' by the band Die Prinzen, in the novel's title. Indeed, this title points to the receding of 'Germanness', here through popular cultural artefacts, as the central aesthetic strategy in the text. The 1993 song by Die Prinzen in turn points to, and appropriates, the better known This is Not a Love Song' (1983) by Public Image Limited (PIL), a band led by the one-time member of the Sex Pistols, John Lydon. The (re)coding of Germanness operates at different levels in texts. In terms of the aesthetic of consumption, for example, Goosen's references to German b(r)and names, and the identification between text and reader these imply, may confirm Beck's view, as cited above, that this is the creation of a distinct 'West German' brand in the interest of product differentiation. The way the motif of generational eclipse, discussed in the previous section, is used to articulate social
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and cultural shifts in the post-'1968' FRG offers a different kind of engagement with a specifically German context. However, there is an ambivalence at work here since in the fiction of younger writers the motif engages with specific social and cultural constellations in the postwar FRG in order to underwrite a Western consumer normality which is precisely, also less distinctly, German. By contrast, Duve offers a richer engagement with the German cultural tradition. Strelau's comments on German rock music both lampoon and pick up a German tradition of Innerlichkeit or inwardness. This occurs again in a school discussion of Goethe's Die Leiden des jungen Werther (1774). Strelau writes to Hemstedt and lambasts Werther's self-absorption, yet recognises her own: 'What a prim, self-opinionated sod this Werther is! And yet - when he began talking about his love and misfortune, it seemed to me that I was looking into my own heart!' ('Was fur ein zickiger, eingebildeter Sack, dieser Werther! Und dennoch - als er anfing von seiner Liebe und seinem Ungliick zu sprechen, da war mir als sahe ich in mein eigenes Herz', KL, 163). In a number of the texts discussed here something similar happens with the idea of 'Heimat'. The novels of Goosen, Wagner, Duve, Politycki or Dieckmann drain the concept of much of its traditional meaning (and its historical association with National Socialism). In their hands it becomes, in the suburbs and small towns of the FRG, the featureless 'new province' described by Kolja Mensing in his book of 2002.42 But some of the traditional 'Germanness' of the concept is receded and rearticulated. In Wagner's Meine nachtblaue Hose, historical residues emerge in descriptions of a Rhine landscape laden with associations (NH, 61). In Politycki's Weiberroman the countryside around Lengerich evokes the passing of the seasons and allows Schattschneider a fleeting glimpse of 'the yearning nostalgia and sense of loss' evoked by the 'imagined Heimat of childhood':43 September! [...] The silhouettes of the telegraph poles and birches beside the mill stream of Wechte; the long lines of stubbled wheat fields; [...] mostly there were no names for what one could see, mostly just "field" and "bush7' and "tree" and still! Even without words nature was suddenly very present again. (W, 3S)44
60 ANDREW PLOWMAN In these examples, Politycki's idea of the 'multiple coding' of the surface of the text seems an apt formulation of how aspects of Germanness are rearticulated less in the face of processes of cultural globalisation than through them.
'A STORY ABOUT THE FRG, BUT WRITTEN IN A QUITE UNIQUE WAY' Texts by Duve and others illustrate how monolithic theories of cultural homogenisation miss the ways in which 'Germanness', and elements of the German cultural tradition, are reinscribed into literary texts. These texts appear, on the surface, to point to wider processes of thematic and motivic convergence. Nonetheless, it is also difficult to see in these representations of the FRG quite the hybrid forms or the potential of global networks envisaged by the 'optimistic' globalists. For these, attention must be directed elsewhere. In the German context, hybrid constructions of identity and cross-cultural perspectives on recent German history are more often exemplified by the work of German-Turkish writers, already the subject of scholarly interest.45 Yet one text which does testify in a striking manner to the cultural potential of the establishment of global networks is Pleschinski's Bildnis tines Unsichtbaren, which topped the SWR's prestigious Bestenliste after it was published in 2002. What is significant about Pleschinski's novel is that it underwrites the 'optimistic' view that globalisation must be understood in its cultural aspects, not simply as a process that is rooted in economic pressures toward homogenisation, or even toward 'localised' forms of product differentiation on the global cultural marketplace. According to Arjun Appadurai, the global cultural order is in reality a 'complex, overlapping, disjunctive', one irreducible to the logic of economics, in which under-theorised tendencies toward 'heterogenization' make the social construction of meaning something that can be contested and fought for.46 For its part, Pleschinski's Bildnis demonstrates that globalisation also offers a space where networks of resistance to hegemonic discourses may be established, networks which support the construction and articulation of difference. The novel offers an illustration of the active mobilisation of this space in an endeavour to
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reformulate the history of the FRG from the fresh perspective of a minority group generally excluded from it. Globalisation is from the outset one of the major themes in Pleschinski's novel, which initially exhibits an acute awareness of its negative consequences. These include worldwide environmental degradation and global warming (B, 187), and the spread of the HTV and AIDS across the globe. The anxiety associated with the incalculability of risk in the global era is brought home to the narrator when his partner, Volker, contracts HTV and he himself must decide whether to have a test (B, 231-40) ,47 Nevertheless, globalisation finally emerges in the novel as a more positive force for historical development and cultural interaction. For example, Pleschinski's narrator sees a global telecommunications infrastructure as instrumental in precipitating the fall of the Berlin Wall: "The "death strip" [inner German border] [... ] had altogether turned into a violent nonsense under satellites which circled the globe' ('Unter Satelliten, die um die Erde kreisten, war der Todesstreifen [...] vollends zum gewalttatigen Unfug geraten', B, 184). Indeed, the narrator of Bildnis has no truck with those who saw the GDR after unification as a more authentically German 'Mitteldeutschland' ('middle Germany') in need of protection. Its opening up is, rather, an opportunity: in 1989, he notes, 'the GDR landed in the world and the world touched down in the GDR' ('die DDR landete in der Welt, und die Welt setzte mit Wucht auf dem Boden des Arbeiter- und Bauernstaates auf, B, 196). Travel and telecommunications promote cultural diversity and the sharing of cultures, a striking example being the world community briefly formed in the millennium celebrations ('Weltfestgemeinde', B, 29). Crucially, a worldwide community is also forged within the international gay culture in which narrator circulates. This scene is characterised by extraordinary global mobility and supports a lifestyle not foreseen within hegemonic national cultures. With the spread of AIDS, there are of course heavy tolls to be paid - the same 'in London, San Francisco, Miinchen' (B, 14) - but also huge reserves of solidarity to be discovered. The culture and solidarity of a scene presented in the text as global in its scope and interactions is fundamental to the construction of difference within Pleschinski's literary engagement with the FRG. Of central significance here is the fact that Pleschinski's narrative takes up
62 ANDREW PLOWMAN and adapts one of the defining cultural products of that scene in the literary sphere after the early 1990s. This is the so-called 'AIDS' novel, exemplified by Edmund White's Farewell Symphony (1997) or Herve Guibert's L'Ami qui ne m'a pas sauv£ la vie (1990) and Protocole compassionnel (1991). Such novels are marked, according to one reviewer of Pleschinski's text, by a characteristic mix of sexual politics and social panorama, as well as reflections on sexual encounters, love, disease and loss.48 For some critics, the historical framework invoked by Pleschinski's Bildnis eines Unskhtbaren - the FRG through the economic miracle of the 1950s, '1968', the Kohl years of the 1980s, and unification to the present - felt perfunctory.49 Yet what it in fact represents is the outline of an 'official' or dominant discourse about the FRG against which Pleschinski's own 'AIDS' narrative articulates a kind of 'counter-discourse' structured by the assertion of a difference of sexual orientation. The novel offers in the first instance an account of the narrator's 'education sentimentale' in the Munich scene after the late 1970s, and a lament for Volker, who has died. Their story brings a new twist to the motif of generational eclipse: Volker is an ageing '68er' proud of his generation's intellectual refoundation of the FRG (B, 62), while the narrator belongs to a younger, more hedonistic generation. Pleschinski's narrative further represents a celebration of the exuberant homosexual scene in Munich and elsewhere, a commemoration of those lost to AIDS and a meditation on the nature of survival. But, crucially, the broad solidarity attained within the scene on a global scale in the wake of AIDS provides the perspective from which the history of the FRG is retrospectively reformulated to emphasise and valorise the experience of its homosexual community. This 'other' narrative about the FRG also begins in the 1950s, a decade characterised by strong public and institutional homophobia (B, 51). It reveals perhaps surprising pockets of tolerance in the deeply protestant provinces of the north of Germany of the late 1960s and early 1970s (B, 18). Pleschinski takes his readers to the decrirninalisation of homosexuality, the growth of the scene during the 1970s and an, in part, economically motivated acceptance of it at the end of that decade (B, 129). Pleschinski's narrative also documents the shift in climate from the 'easy time before AIDS' (B, 100) at the beginning of the 1980s, to the outbreak of panic and hostility following early reports of the disease: '[The Bavarian] Interior Minister
THE 'OLD' WEST AND GLOBALISATION 63 Lang [...] praised the "sensible thinning out of marginal groups" [...] We were considered a source of infection within a consistently healthy society' ('[Der bayerische] Innenminister Lang [...] pries das "sinnvolle Ausdiinming der Randgruppen" [...] Wir galten als Pestherd innerhalb der bestandig gesunden Gesellschaft', B, 170-71). Finally, Pleschinski upholds the resilience and solidarity of the international scene and notes, contrary to his worst fears, a growth of public sympathy in the face of AIDS (B, 171). In the first part of this chapter, lilies' demand for an end to the identity of 'LebensgefuhT and 'polities' in the wake of the generation of '1968' served to introduce a shift in younger writers' representations of the FRG. This shift was towards lifestyle themes and an aesthetic of consumption in which the FRG appeared as a 'normal' consumer society. Concluding with an examination of the reinscription of 'Germanness' into the texts of some of these writers, the second part of the chapter argued that the issue of cultural homogenisation is not quite so undifferentiated as 'pessimistic' globalists argue. A rounded understanding of the phenomenon also requires a grasp of the localised reception and appropriation of cultural forms, and of the inscription of local heterogeneity into them, perhaps over and above the demands of a global cultural marketplace. But above all it is Pleschinski's Bildnis eines Unsichtbaren, examined in this closing section of the chapter, that lends weight to the more optimistic views about the cultural potential of globalisation. Here, globalisation offers, and significantly for minority groups like the gay community to which Pleschinski's narrator belongs, a space for the construction of transnational cultural networks in which identities can be reshaped, histories rewritten and the politics and lifestyle separated by Ulies put back together in different ways. They may be minority or marginal groups on a national scale, but their voices acquire a greater critical or subversive power when they are embedded in the transnational global networks. Thus globalisation means not just, as the pessimists would have it, the erasure of heterogeneity under the auspices of the apparently iron economic laws of finance flows and the marketplace. It can also mean the mobilisation of wider cultural networks in the assertion of difference. As Appadurai puts it, global infrastructures and flows enable the establishment of '"imagined worlds" [...] which are constituted by the historically
situated imaginations of persons and groups spread around the globe'. Such 'imagined worlds' transcend the more limited boundaries of the imagined (national) communities famously projected by Benedict Anderson in 1983,50 and in them groups may 'contest and sometimes even subvert the "imagined worlds" of the official mind and of the entrepreneurial mentality that surround them'.51 'Was will ich denn als Westdeutscher schreiben?', Pleschinski's narrator's asks in Bildnis eines Unsichtbaren. It is surely this power to contest and to subvert that the novel brings to bear in the construction of a narrative about the FRG. This is a narrative that foregrounds the experience of its gay community, giving it a voice within the proliferation of discourses about the FRG since unification. Arguably, Pleschinski's narrator suggests as much when he describes his correspondence with a former companion, as if in answer to the question which he raises, as 'a history of the FRG, written in a quite unique way' ('[eine] Geschichte der Bundesrepublik, auf ganz besondere Weise geschrieben', B, 17).
Notes 1 Hans Pleschinski, BUdnis eines Unsichtbaren (Miinchen: Hanser, 2002), p. 175. Hereafter B. 2 On recent literary representations of the 'old' FRG in the context of post-unification East-West differences see Andrew Plowman, '"Westalgie"? Nostalgia for The "old" West in Recent German Prose', Seminar, 40.3 (2004), 249-61. 3 See the foreword in Heinz Bude, Die ironische Nation. Soziologie als Zeitdiagnose (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 1999), 7-9. 4 The GDR never functioned for the FRG as a reference culture in the GDR to the same extent as the FRG did for the GDR. Mary Fulbrook, German National Identity after the Holocaust (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1999), p. 21. 5 Ulrich Beck, Was ist Globalisierung? Irrtumer des Globalismus - Antworten auf Globalisierung (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1997), 33-5. 6 'Der Begriff der Globalisierung tauchte in offentlichen Gesprachsrunden auf. Die einen benannten damit das unabdingbare, segensreiche Zusammenwachsen der Erdteile zu einem in Freiheit und Demokratie florierendem Verbund. Skeptiker prognostizieren hingegen das Ende des Individuellen, das Verschwinden von Regionen und ihren Eigentumlichkeiten in einem trostlosen Mittelstandshaushalt'. 7 Alan Cochrane and Kathy Pain, 'A Globalizing Society?' in David Held (ed.), A Globalizing World? Culture, Economics, Politics (London and New York: Routledge, 2000), 5-45, p. 22. 8 Florian lilies, Generation Golf. Eine Inspektion (Berlin: Argon, 2000), p. 181. Henceforth GG. 'Also Schlufi mit den Geschichten von 68, Schlufi mit der Mifitrauenskultur, Schlufi mit der Identitat von Lebensgefuhl und Politik, Schlufi mit dem Muff von zwanzig alternativen Jahren. Einfach Schlufi'.
THE 'OLD' WEST AND GLOBALISATION 9
Generationenbruch: the subtitle of the journal Kursbuch, 121 (1995).
10 See also Jan-Werner Muller, Another Country: German Intellectuals, Unification and National Identity (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2000), pp. 202-3 and 206. 11 For an examination of works by Leander Scholz (Rosenfest), Erasmus Schoffer (Ein Friihling irrer Hoffnung) and Uwe Timm (ROT), see Ingo Cornils, 'Long Memories: The German Student Movement in Recent Fiction', German Life and Letters, 56:1 (2003), 89-101. 12 Matthias Politycki, 'Die 78er sind da! Zwischen 68er und Techno-Kids', Die Woche (25.07.07), p. 35. 13 Stephen Brockmann, Literature and German Reunification (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 78. 14 See Thomas Ernst, Popliteratur (Hamburg: EVA/Rotbuch, 2001). 15 See Andrea Kohler and Rainer Moritz (eds.), Maulhelden und Konigskinder. Zur Debatte iiber die deutschsprachige Gegenwartsliteratur (Leipzig: Reclam, 1998). 16 Wolfgang Kraushaar, 1968. Das Jahr, das alles verandert hat (Miinchen: Piper, 1998), p. 313. 17 Uwe Timm, ROT (Koln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2001), pp. 207 and 409. Henceforth R. 'to abolish capitalism's law of gravity', 'the dream of another life'. 18 'Was in der Tatsachlichkeit als Utopie, Phantasterei, Umsturz gilt, ist dort [in der Literatur] gestattet. In der Kunst hat die affirmative Kultur die vergessenen Wahrheiten gezeigt, iiber die im Alltag die Realitatsgerechtigkeit triumphiert'. 19 Jiirgen Habermas, Das unvollendete Projekt der Moderne (Leipzig: Reclam, 1990). 20 Matthias Politycki, 'Die 78er sind da!', op. cit. 21 Matthias Politycki, Weiberroman (Miinchen: Luchterhand, 1997), p. 33. Hereafter W. 'dialectic', 'critical consciousness'. 22 See Stefanie Flamm, 'Lifestyle ist alles, was uns bleibt', Kursbuch, 121 (1995), 20-5. 23 Dorothea Dieckmann, Damen & Herren (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 2002), p. 17. 24 David Wagner, Meine nachtblaue Hose (Berlin: Fest, 2000), pp. 112-13. Hereafter NH. 25 Frank Goosen, Liegen lernen (Frankfurt/Main: Eichborn, 2000), pp. 15,152,10 and 96. Hereafter LL. 26 Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism: Or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (London and New York: Verso, 1991), pp. 9, 6 and 19. 27 Thomas Brussig, 'Liebe zu Zeiten der Kohl-Ara', Der Spiegel (29.01.01), 168-70, p. 170. 28 In German: Fever Pitch. Eallfieber - die Geschichte eines Fans (Koln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1997); High Fidelity (Koln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1996). 29 Rainer Moritz, 'Bier und Bucher. Wie Globalisierung des Verlagswesens und das Internet die Literatur (nicht) verandern', Neue Zurcher Zeitung (12.06.02), pp. 28-9. 'Wo sich Verlage zusammenschliessen, wo Renditeerwartung erhoht und wo Manuskripte weltweit vermarktet und verkauft werden, da verandern sich auch die Rahmenbedingungen fur Autoren. Sofern sie [...] iiberleben wollen, werden sie [...] genotigt, ihr Schreiben vom Markt fremdbestimmen zu lassen'. 30 Matthias Politycki, 'Der amerikanische Holzweg. Am Anfang vom Ende einer deutschsprachigen Literatur', Frankfurter Rundschau (18.03.02), 'Zeitungsbeilage', p. 2. 31 David Held et al., Global Transformations: Politics, Economics, Culture (Cambridge: Polity, 1999), pp. 327-8. 32 Thomas Ernst, Popliteratur, op. cit., p. 65.
33 See Joanne Knowles, Nick Hornby's High Fidelity. A Reader's Guide (Continuum: New York and London, 2002). 34 Frank Goosen, Pokorny lacht (Frankfurt am Main: Eichborn, 2003), p. 48. 35 Karen Duve, Dies ist kein Liebeslied (Frankfurt am Main: Eichborn, 2002), p. 82. Henceforth KL. 36 Imelda Whelehan, Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary. A Reader's Guide (New York and London: Continuum, 2002), pp. 41-6. 37 Joanne Knowles, Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, op. cit., pp. 78-9. 38 David Held etal, Global Transformations, op. cit., p. 373. 39 Ulrich Beck, Was ist Gkbalisierung?, op. cit., pp. 86-7. 40 David Held et al, Global Transformations, op. cit., p. 327. 41 'Die englischen Lieder kamen entspannter, melodioser und dem Leben zugewandter daher, wahrend die deutschen voller Gezerre, Genole, Hall und Dissonanzen waren und behaupteten, dafi das Leben langweilig sei und Sex keinen Spafi mache [...] Liebeslieder und Weltschmerzmusik und Gehirnlieder und Kreischlieder [...] und dann [...] ein ...] Stiick, in dem jemand "ich flieg rait dir davon, in einem Luftballon, in das Land der Phantasie in die Bundesrepublik" brullte'. 42 Kolja Mensing, Wie komme ich hier raus? Aufwachsen in der Provinz (Koln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2002), p. 17. 43 Elizabeth Boa and Rachel Palfreyman, Heimat: A German Dream. Regional Loyalties and National Identity in German Culture 1890-1990 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 24. 44 'September! [...] Die Silhouetten der Telegraphmasten und der Birken am Wechter Muhlbach; die langen Linden abgestoppelter Weizenfelder; [...] meist hatte man gar keine Namen fur das, was man alles sah, meist war's blofi "Feld" und "Busch" und "Baum" und trotzdem! Selbst ohne Worter war sie plotzlich wieder sehr da, die Natur'. 45 For example Hiltrud Ares, 'Kulturelle Hybriditat' in der deutschen Minoritatenliteratur der achtziger Jahre (Tubingen: Stauffenberg, 2000). 46 Arjun Appadurai, 'Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy' in David Held and Anthony McGrew (eds.), The Global Transformations Reader: An Introduction to the Globalization Debate (Cambridge: Polity, 2000), 230-8, pp. 230-1. 47 Anthony Giddens, Runaway World: How Globalisation is Reshaping our Lives (London: Profile, 1999), p. 28. 48 Tilman Krause, T>as Leben, ein Fest. Hans Pleschinski hat einen bittersufien Roman iiber die letzten Boh£miens geschrieben', Die Welt (17.08.02), p. 25. 49 Friedmar Apel, 'Schatten auf der Rauhfasertapete. Hans Pleschinski sucht keine Anstellung, sondern Haltung', Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (21.01.03), p. 34. 50 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities. Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London and New York: Verso, 1983). 51 Arjun Appadurai, 'Disjuncture and Difference', op. cit., p. 231.
Germany as background: global concerns in recent women's writing in German Beth Linklater
Of the seven stories in Judith Hermann's second collection, Nichts als Gespenster (2003), only the first is set in Germany. Indeed the main theme of the book is escape from Germany. As the song lyrics proclaim in the final story, 'Die Liebe zu Ari Oskarsson': 'I go to Paris, I go to Tokyo, to Lisbon, Bern, Antwerp and Rome, I go all round the world and I'm just lookin' for you, believe me, I'm just lookin' for you'.1 Both the use of English and the random listing of place names emphasise the significance of global rather than national motifs. The narrator of the story does not want to visit Troms0, which could have been any city in the world (NaG, 298), but prefers to stay in her bedroom, 'what was outside had no meaning' ('das DrauSen war ohne Bedeutung', NaG, 283). Meaning is given solely to this small space, if only for a short time: 'I had the feeling that fate had blown me into this room, in order that I should discover something about myself, ('Ich hatte das Gefuhl, als habe der Zufall mich in dieses Zimmer gespiilt, damit ich etwas herausfinden sollte iiber mich', NaG, 283f). The idea of momentary discovery of meaning, which comes through travel, an object or, in most instances, through love, is vital to Hermann's stories. Germany, where it is present at all, is just a background, a setting, a home. It is not the source of the characters' concerns which are, rather, of global, overarching interest. Berlin, often seen as having a major role to play in the phenomenal success of Hermann's first collection Sommerhaus, spaier (1998) could, in fact, be any modern metropolis,
with the same deregulated sense of anonymity, the same problems and the same insecurities. Hermann herself, when asked about the role Berlin plays in her work, replied: Berlin means a lot less to me than you might imagine [...] it's just chance, that the stories are set in Berlin. It's true that they've been uniformly received as 'Berlin stories', but that wasn't at all what I intended, rather they were just stories about the place I know so well ...2 Hermann's texts can, then, be regarded as representative of a new 'transnational, global literature of the future' ('transnationale, ja globale Literatur der Zukunft'),3 reflecting and creating Marshall McLuhan's famed 'global village'.4 It is this global strand of modern German literature that I trace in this chapter, focusing my analyses on six recent collections of short stories: Sommerhaus, spater and Nichts als Gespenster by Judith Hermann (b. 1970); Bauchlandung (2000) by Julia Franck (b. 1970); Tand (2001) by Jenny Erpenbeck (b. 1967); cafe brazil (2001) by Tanja Diickers (b. 1968) and Tangogeschichten (2002) by Katrin Dorn (b. 1963). I concentrate in particular on the settings in their work (most notably, Berlin), those connected with travel, and internal small spaces. My focus on the global is important for various reasons. The first is a publishing market in which 'Nazis always sell well. Hitler works almost as well as Jesus Christ' ('Nazis sich immer [verkaufen...] Hitler funktioniert fast so gut wie Jesus Christus').5 The image of Germany as a country of either war or revolution remains stubbornly engrained in the foreign imagination. And despite numerous claims that the 'revolutionary' events of 1989 heralded a new era of 'normalisation' in German history, it is that strand of recent German literature that deals with war and its effects which has formed the primary image of German fiction abroad in the 1990s.6 It is undoubtedly important to recognise that literary attempts to understand the past are still central to German art in the 1990s and beyond; yet it is also necessary to place this strand of writing in a wider and extremely varied picture of recent German literature. The second context for my readings is a more specifically German cultural market which has been forced to react to the Literaturstreit of the early and mid-1990s. Recent debates on German literature have
GLOBAL CONCERNS IN RECENT WOMEN'S WRITING IN GERMAN
been dominated by demands for more 'reading pleasure' and more 'sensuality' - 'Lust an Literatur' and more 'Sinnlichkeit' - to counter the widespread perception that traditionally, German writing has been heavy, overly complex and staid.7 In Germany, so the argument ran, the sharp division between 'true art' and 'mere entertainment' had had a long tradition. This tradition meant that German literature at the start of the 1990s had little chance of commercial success in the modern culture industry, where American literature, as publisher Martin Hielscher argued, 'is synonymous with what is lacking in German literature' ('zugespitzt als Synonym fur das [gilt], was man an der deutschen vermiSt').8 These were demands of style - nowadays subsumed in the slogan Neue Lesbarkeit, 'new readability' - but also of content, which should not be backwards looking and focused on the German past, but more Anglo-American, more 'global', more realistic. Within these aesthetic debates the role of Berlin as the capital city of the newly unified Germany came to the fore. In the search for a 'new' German literature much was made of the function of Berlin as an increasingly important centre (both physical and symbolic). In 1989, Frank Schirrmacher, literary critic at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, had already bemoaned the lack of a German literature capable of depicting the experience of metropolitan living in a global city, and had pleaded for a postwar Berlin novel to rival Doblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz.9 And it is certainly true that Berlin has since become an increasingly important aesthetic theme in its own right. Susanne Ledanff and Timm Menke thus both discover a "mountain of new Berlin literature'.10 Menke argues, however, that a number of these texts actually have little to do with Berlin as a German city. Rather, as in Hermann's writing, the texts represent a 'global' literature of the future in which Berlin as a city would be an increasingly interchangeable concept, a metaphor for modern urban life per se." If this is indeed the case, the new 'Berlin novel' is, as Corinna Heipcke contends, a somewhat paradoxical genre.12 Any account of Germany as a literary setting must therefore pay special attention to the German capital city, and attempt to assess the meaning of Berlin - if indeed there is any - for stories which specifically feature a city with such a symbolic history. The links between these aesthetic debates and my concerns about a publishing market in which German literature equals literature about
the war were made clear by Volker Hage in his seminal Spiegel article celebrating the 'arrival' of the 'Neue Lesbarkeit' generation. Hage noted that: The young writers, in contrast to their grandparents of the 'Group 47', are also much more uninhibited about the past. For the first time in almost half a century the memory of German crimes doesn't seem to be striking writers dumb [...] Conflict with Nazi-parents is no longer a theme. The stories are set in Germany, but Germany no longer plays the lead role ...13 Similarly, Stuart Parkes has argued that recent German literature 'has become much more varied and international, not least through its wider choice of settings', it 'has come out of the national ghetto and moved much closer to other Western literatures'.14 These comments emphasise the importance of setting for any consideration of literary meaning. Moreover, they too situate the concerns of contemporary literature within a wider interest in the notion of globalisation. Globalisation is generally taken to signify an increase in the scope of cross-border exchanges of cultures, ideas, money, commodities and people, and the challenge to the authority of sovereign nation states. To its critics, globalisation means an increase in wealth and economic power for those already in possession of both, the destruction of local cultures and traditions, and the near collapse of the environment. In the context of culture, globalisation can also function as a useful descriptive phrase, indicating the ways in which both producers and audiences of cultural artefacts increasingly traverse national and linguistic borders. In particular, the present-day ubiquity of electronic media forms means that cultural artefacts 'cannot be contained any more within national boundaries'.15 In a recent article on globalisation and literature Matthias Prangel argues that both are defined by 'the creation of virtual realms, free and playful organisation of time and space' ('das Kreieren virtueller Bereiche, das freie, spielerische Schalten und Walten mit Raum und Zeit').16 Prangel is especially aware of the potential literature has to reflect globalisation in its structures as well as in its themes. Thus texts that are not linear but play, in what might be considered 'postmodern' fashion, with time levels through the utilisation of memory, flashbacks,
GLOBAL CONCERNS IN RECENT WOMEN'S WRITING IN GERMAN
and intertextuality, also display the dissolution of boundaries in their structure. The notion of systemic instability is common to much writing on globalisation. Anthony Giddens maintains that global society 'is not settled or secure, but fraught with anxieties, as well as scarred by deep divisions. Many of us feel in the grip of forces over which we have no control'.17 In German literature in the age of globalisation, then, we might expect to see a preoccupation with the impact of this sense of powerlessness and of alienation, and with the individual, rather than a wider focus on Germany or even the German past. The five writers on whom I concentrate in this essay are all, like the characters they portray, children of the post-68 era - born into a country profoundly altered by the student protests of the late 1960s - and adults of the post-Cold-War era, rather than of the war period. Their personal histories have not been shaped by conflict within their national boundaries and in the name of a specific nation state, but by universal experiences of childhood, friendships and of relationships. Their influences are pop music, television, telephones and computers. The 'revolution' they experienced, i.e. that of 1989, was a 'national' revolution, yet it was one which ushered in an era of increased European interdependence, signified most clearly in the adoption of the Euro. Notably, Hermann, Diickers and Franck all live in Berlin, Erpenbeck lives in Berlin and Graz, Dorn lived in Berlin between 19% and 2001, and now lives in Hamburg. These young authors have been celebrated as part of the 'new generation' of writers, a generation with new concerns and a new style. The fact that they are women was highlighted in the now (in)famous phrase Frauleinwunder, coined by the Spiegel in 1999.18 Essentialist arguments founded in a 'female aesthetic' are clearly outdated, generally unhelpful, and of little interest here. Of this generation, Judith Hermann is described as representative insofar as her work is 'characterised by the return to storytelling and the abandonment of socially-engaged and socially-critical writing for aesthetic concerns'.19 Tanja Diickers has similarly been seen as the epitome of the new 'American' writing that was demanded in the wake of the Literaturstreit. Like Hermann, her work is said to capture the 'mood of a generation', namely those born post-1968.20 The same phrase has been used of Julia Franck's stories,21 and of Katrin Dorn's fiction.22 The only exception to the trend whereby reviewers concentrate on generation as the decisive
72 BETH LINKLATER factor of this writing is Jenny Erpenbeck, who, like Dorn and Franck, grew up in East Germany, but unlike them was part of family of established artists loyal to the state authorities.23 Her melancholic tone, according to Ina Hartwig, is thus not only beautifully articulated, but also 'socialist', and critics make a mistake if they ignore 'the political coating' of her stories.24 In the light of such reviews it becomes even more important that the global aspects of her work are emphasised. Of her novel Geschichte vom alien Kind (1999) - in which the children's home has been seen as symbolic of the claustrophobic paternalism of the GDR25- Erpenbeck has stated that she is concerned with more than a political model. The book is about 'the freedom to re-invent oneself ('die Freiheit, sich selbst neu zu erfinden').26 The style of this prose is conversational and open, making frequent use of short sentences, simple plots, and a first person narrator who is usually female. In all cases, reviewers use terms such as 'pregnant', 'simple'27, 'sober'28, 'precise',29 'proper'30 and 'clear'31 to describe its careful construction. Its themes focus not around a specific national identity, but around identity in general. All five writers concentrate on the self, the realm of the private, and the importance of decisions that influence relationships, family and friendships. All write about the body, sex and love, and about what this old-fashioned concept might mean. Love offers a possibility (albeit a fragile one) of stability and identity in a global society characterised by mobility and homogeneity. The concept of globalisation can, then, be particularly usefully applied to these texts, which represent an important alternative to those which focus solely on Germany and its past. Yet this is not to say that this past is completely ignored. Indeed in many senses the opposition between the global and local German history is a false dichotomy. Roland Robertson claims that the 'globallocal problematic' is widely, and wrongly, assumed to indicate a polarity, and proposes that 'it might well be preferable' to replace the term 'globalisation' with 'glocalisation', in order: ... to show that globalisation has involved the reconstruction, in a sense the production, of 'home', 'community' and 'locality'. To that extent the local is not best seen [...] as a counterpoint to the global. Indeed it can be regarded [...] as an aspect of globalisation.32
GLOBAL CONCERNS IN RECENT WOMEN'S WRITING IN GERMAN
'Glocalisation' was originally a business term meaning the adaptation of the global to the local in the production of a new form of hybrid. Yet it would seem particularly appropriate to literature, which can never be absolutely 'global' (if only because it is always written in a 'national' language - especially where this language is German and not English). Consequently, it is important to recognise that these young authors are by no means ignoring traditional 'German' questions, even if these are no longer at the forefront of their literary agendas, but rather these questions are woven into their main concerns with relationships and identity. I shall be pointing to these interweavings in the course of my analyses. Hermann's narrators, then, are restless travellers, in the grip of forces over which they appear to have little control. As Scholtze states, 'longing sends Judith Hermann's characters on a search, indeed more often than not on a journey' ('Die Sehnsucht lasst Judith Hermanns Figuren zwar auf die Suche, meist auch auf Reisen gehen').33 Further examples from Nichts als Gespenster include the protagonist of 'Ruth (Freundinnen)' (NaG, 11-60), who travels because she wants to lose herself (NaG, 34), both amongst crowds of people, and amongst the travel destinations shown on the notice boards in the Gare du Nord. Berlin is referred to only as the place where she and Ruth had lived together and formed their friendship, a friendship that represents the real love for which the narrator is searching, and which she destroys by sleeping with Ruth's boyfriend. Similarly, in 'Aqua Alta' (NaG, 121-52), the narrator's parents are characterised through their relationship to travel, rather than to their home. In fact, it is one of these journeys that represents a possible turning point in the narrator's relationship with them, and this moment is, significantly, set in a train station: 'they didn't ask, "do you want to stay longer?" if they had done so, I would have stayed' ('sie haben nicht »Willst du noch bleiben?« gefragt, hatten sie gefragt, ich ware geblieben', NaG, 148). In the story 'Kaltblau' (NaG, 61-120), Jonina is a guide who takes tourists across Iceland. Her relationship with Jonas, which takes place on holiday, is a possibility signalled in their names and captured only in a photograph. Johannes, the protagonist of 'Zuhalter' (NaG, 153-94), leaves Berlin as often as possible and has travelled all over the world. Whilst sitting in a cafe with him drinking Coca-Cola - that most symbolic of global brands -
the narrator becomes aware of the arbitrariness of where he spends his life and under what conditions. He could be on a bridge over the Seine, an excursion steamer off the coast of Sicily, a hotel room in Amsterdam with a view over the red-light district or Karlovy Vary (NaG, 168). This list, like that given in 'Die Liebe zu Ari Oskarsson', does not include their German home and appears entirely random and unimportant. As is suggested here and at many other points throughout the collection, it is the light that creates atmosphere and gives meaning to specific moments, not the geographical space in which they take place. In Sommerhaus, spater, on the other hand, at least four of the nine stories are clearly set in Berlin.34 In 'Sonja' (Ss, 55-84), for example, repeated references are made to Berlin street names, to the Spree, and to other places in the capital. Yet the narrator of this piece meets Sonja on an intercity train, and the high speed movement that the train implies is much more suggestive than any of the other settings in the story.35 Again, it symbolises the search for meaning in which all of Hermann's characters are engaged. Trains are also a means by which globalised capitalism is spread, via 'a chain of rail stations decked out with the homogenising slogans of advertising and exuding [...] anonymity'.36 The setting of the story /Hunter=Tompson=Musik/ (Ss, 115-37) - a large hotel in the centre of New York described as, 'a final, decaying station before the end' ('eine letzte, verrottete Station vor dem Ende', Ss, 116) - also exudes the anonymity of a railway station. Hunter has chosen to live in this environment, 'because he can go. Every day, every morning, can pack his case, can pull the door to behind him, can go'.37 In the title story 'Sommerhaus, spater' (Ss, 139-65) Stein's car is the most important setting; this was where his relationship with the narrator gained most meaning (Ss, 140). Even the roads the couple choose are mostly motorways (Ss, 142), ubiquitous symbols of the modern world, of speed and of uniformity, which, like the railway setting, imply the absence of a home. Tanja Diickers' characters are also in search of a sense of self and happiness, though they rarely find either. The focus of their concerns is very firmly on relationships and on the possibility of love (which is often openly sexual in nature), rather than on questions specific to a German background. Indeed in many cases the characters, like Diickers herself, have links to North America, South America or Spain. By means
GLOBAL CONCERNS IN RECENT WOMEN'S WRITING IN GERMAN
of the use of shock twists to the stories the reader is invited to question the characters' motives, but rarely is Germany or the German past the source of their problems. The stories in cafe brazil are set in Hamburg, Bremen, America, an unnamed countryside and, in seven out of eighteen cases, Berlin. Berlin in particular is closely cited through the use of street names and important landmarks. Hence the impression that remained for one reviewer was that these stories paint 'a colourful picture of present-day Berlin' ('ein farbenfrohes Bild der Berliner Gegenwart').38 In fact, they too have much more to do with modern urban streetlife culture in general, capturing photographic moments rather than creating involved narratives. That the title cites a cafe with a foreign name is thus illustrative of the collection as a whole. The story 'I went mad like a machine',39 for example, makes reference to the highly symbolic 'Gedachtniskirche' (cb, 91), only as a view from the narrator's window. The use of English is marked in these texts, and the title of this story is, as in 'Die Liebe zu Ari Oskarsson', an allusion to a pop song. It is global phenomena such as pop music, television, cigarettes and Coca-Cola that structure Duckers' and Hermann's characters' lifestyles. In the story 'Henna-Hexen' (cb, 92-102) the detail of the characters origins is simply 'another topic' ('ein anderes Thema', cb, 92). It is made clear that the apartment the characters share is in Berlin, descriptions emphasise courtyards typical of Berlin, and street names and landmarks as diverse as the former death strip at the Wall, or the alternative cultural centre and squat Tacheles (cb, 100) are used. However, all of this detail is merely background to their relationships. The important settings are the internal ones, in this instance the kitchen, which has had to be split as a result of divisions within the group. References to objects associated with the former East Germany such as 'socialist confirmation photos' (cb, 94) could suggest a GDR past, but the focus of this story and the majority in this collection remains firmly in the 1990s' present. Here and elsewhere, the items imbued with meaning are global brands such as Smarties (cb, 94), H&M (cb, 100), MTV (cb, 30), Nike (cb, 46), Mickey Mouse (cb, 39) and Mercedes (cb, 63). These brand names represent a modern sensibility that is modelled primarily by consumerism rather than nationhood. In Duckers' poetry she seems similarly fascinated by the metropolitan lifestyle, by labels, by fashion and by other symbols of
76 BETH LINKLATER twenty-first-century life, rather than by Berlin as a specific place, despite the reference to the city in the title of her collection Luftpost. Gedichte Berlin - Barcelona.40 The poem 'In der Mitte (III)' (L, 15), for example, opens 'In der Mitte der FriedrichstraGe', in the middle of the FriedrichstraGe, but this space is described simply as a no man's land. The only important objects in the poem are a cola bottle and a minidress displayed in a shop window. Similarly, the photographs throughout Luftpost are abstract works, snapshots of urban buildings that make no reference to Berlin at all. In Spielzone (1999),41 however, Berlin and the 'Berlin Scene' would seem to be the main subject of the book. The novel has been reviewed both as 'a Berlin novel, pasted together just like the city itself', and as a 'map, anthropological research, a milieu portrait and a dub guide' ('Stadtplan, anthropologische Recherche, Milieustudie und Clubfuhrer').42 The two main sections of the novel are entitled 'Die ThomasstraGe' (in Neukolln) and 'Die Sonnenburger StraGe' (in Prenzlauer Berg), and these two streets are the main scenes where the action takes place. They not only represent specific areas of Berlin but also attitudes, Prenzlauer Berg being home to the new youth culture of the 1990s. However, whilst the designation 'club guide' may appeal to a specific Berlin audience, the novel is not actually a developed story about Berlin, but is rather a collection of individual images linked by recurring motifs and characters. Here too Diickers' characters are searching for meaning in their lives, which they do not ultimately find in their surroundings, which they constantly move through and change. Instead, mis meaning is found through an interest in their bodies, whether as sexual object, as the site of self-mutilation or as a modelling surface for fashion - represented once again by corporate brands such as H&M. In its concentration on the body, this is a very modern 'city novel' - the city portrayed just happens to be Berlin.43 The title suggests a postmodern attitude in which space is little more than a virtual game. This is supported by numerous and random changes of identity, whether of clothes, ice-cream flavours or even, in the case of the Utopian couple Jason' and 'Elida', names. Diickers' most recent novel Himmelskdrper (2003) is very different to her earlier writing and, in its focus on the Nazi past, could more fittingly be described as 'glocal' rather than 'global'.44 A young female narrator, Freia, explores the various relationships in her life, including those with
GLOBAL CONCERNS IN RECENT WOMEN'S WRITING IN GERMAN
her grandparents. While sorting out their house after their death, she realises the extent of their involvement with the Nazis, and the effect that this involvement had on their daughter, the narrator's mother, who eventually commits suicide. Freia has to attempt to see the old lady she spent her holidays with as the same person who collected pictures of Hitler, wrote to Goring and classified people according to their physical features (HK, 268). The main focus of her grandparents' stories is the wartime sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, the same story used by Giinter Grass in his recent novel Im Krebsgang (2002). This novel has German history at its heart, and the reader is constantly made aware that neither Freia nor her twin brother Paul can escape the pull of the past ('den Sog der Vergangenheif, HK, 316). In this novel, references to Berlin, to 'the Gedachtniskirche, the bullet holes in the houses in Friedrichshain and the unbroken dignity of the Jewish synagogue in the Oranienburger StraGe' (HK, 25S),46 take on a very different meaning to those in cafi brazil or Spielzone. The same is true of Duckers' Polish settings in Himmelskorper, which present another victims' perspective to contrast with that of the German victims of the Gustloff disaster. The basis for Himmelskorper is, possibly, to be found in the story 'Maremagnum' (cb, 148-69) from cafe brazil, ironically named after a Spanish shopping complex. Katharina, the narrator of this piece, is travelling by train to visit her grandmother, a journey which signals, as in Hermann's work, some sort of self discovery: I've forgotten where I've come from, but I know I'm going to Bremen' ('Ich habe vergessen, woher ich komme, aber ich weifi, ich fahre nach Bremen', cb, 148). During the visit she becomes very ill and remembers having sorted out her grandmother's old house. The things that she and her brother had found there included a letter from Elias, a Jewish friend of her grandparents, in which he wrote that he would soon take his own life, and her grandfather's military papers and uniform (cb, 160). The juxtaposition of these two items symbolises the irrationality of the war, in which friends suddenly became enemies. The following comment: 'Of course my grandfather claimed he'd never been a Nazi' ('Mein GroSvater [...] hat natiirlich behauptet, kein Nazi gewesen zu sein', cb, 160) summarises the hypocrisy of many after the war. These comments may seem very minor in a story that is actually about growing old and the relationship between different generations; yet the fact that a clock
78 BETH LINKLATER which Elias gave to his German friends still hangs on the narrator's grandmother's wall imbues the items Katharina and her brother find with deeper meaning. Its chimes serve as a reminder of how the past infiltrates the present, and in Katharina's fevered dreams the clock's pendulum becomes, in an image of war reminiscent of Picasso's iconic 'Guernica' (1937), bull's testicles covered in blood (cb, 167). Like Spielzone, Julia Franck's novel Liebediener (1999) is also set in Berlin, the city, as one reviewer sarcastically remarks 'where trendy new novels are always set nowadays, in the eastern part of Berlin, in Prenzlauer Berg, and what's more, in the Kastanienallee'.46 Once again though, Berlin functions simply as background to a story about love in various forms and about the narrator's search for her identity. As in Franck's first novel Der neue Koch (1997) it is this lack of solid identity which makes it impossible for the protagonists to enter into any meaningful relationships. In Bauchlandung, Franck's 2000 collection, settings remain, for the most part, undefined.47 In a manner very similar to Hermann's and Diicker's writing, atmosphere (in this instance often subtly erotic) is more important than place. As with Hermann the reader is often left with a diffuse feeling of loss and of missed opportunity. Once again, Franck's emphasis is on character rather than plot, on relationships, on the body, on sex, on the senses, on love and on the importance of the moment. The opening story, 'Bauchlings' (B, 7-16), does make reference to the famed 'Kastanienallee', but this does not even provide background noise: 'Outside is the Zionskirchplatz where there's no traffic, and I can't even hear very much from the Kastanienallee' ('Draufien Zionskirchplatz ohne Verkehr, auch von der Kastanienallee hore ich wenig', B, 7). 'Bauchlings' is set primarily inside. The claustrophobia of the individual rooms is underlined through an appeal to the sense of smell, whether that of freshly cut grass (B, 7), the warm odour of Luise's leather bra (B, 7), or the smell of her 'girly sweat and perhaps Hans' spittle, her second lover of last night' ('Madchenschweifi und vielleicht [.. .die] Spucke von Hans, dem zweiten Oebhaber von gestern', B, 10). 'Schmeckt es euch nicht' (B, 67-81) and 'Mir nichts, dir nichts'(B, 95-111) are also set inside and again concentrate on characters and their relationships and emotions, rather than on wider settings. Smell is used once more to create the atmosphere of these small spaces. In 'Mir nichts,
GLOBAL CONCERNS IN RECENT WOMEN'S WRITING IN GERMAN
dir nichts' where, as in Hermann's 'Ruth (Freundinnen)', a female narrator betrays her best friend (Emily) by sleeping with Emily's boyfriend (Paid), the narrator's guilt seeps into the rooms of her house in the smell of her sweat. Again, the narrative concentrates on the minutiae of the house and on the body, for it is Emily's physical presence that reminds the narrator of her crimes and reinforces her shame. Despite this shame, which is described as 'sweet' (B, 105), the narrator cannot forget Paul and phones him to arrange a meeting. When Emily joins her in the phone box the tension of the scene rises dramatically, and again, it is this enclosed space which is the key setting. A 'sour' smell (B, 109) is used to suggest the discomfort of the situation. Similarly, in 'Der Hausfreund' (B, 83-94) the sour taste in the narrator's mouth as she is sick in the back of the car suggests the difficulties she, her sister and, above all, their father, will have in the future. This story is slightly different to the others in Bauchlandung in that it is clearly set in the GDR. Yet the references to East German objects and places are made only in passing. The reader's attention is focused much more heavily upon the relations between the family members and with the mother's lover than on the border crossing from East to West. Through the use of a child's narrative perspective the politics of the situation are downplayed. Here too then, the most important location, in a sense, is actually the car in which the protagonists leave the country. Escape in general is one of the most important themes of this new writing. If Hermann's narrators escape by car and train, Katrin Corn's fly to South America. Where Ducker 's stories are set mostly in Germany but with links to South America through the concerns of the characters, those in Dorn's Tangogeschichten are set in the cities of Berlin and (as the title leads one to expect) in Buenos Aires.48 The majority are based around the legendary tango dance, and their main themes are, once again, love and relationships. Here too the relationships fail, and the stories create a strong atmosphere that reflects the mood of the tango: they are erotic and yet also sad. The characters portrayed are alone, and for them Argentina and its national dance function as a site of both literal and symbolic escape. The only character in the book who has found happiness is the narrator of the final story, 'Balance' (Tg, 170-5). Yet in order to meet her dance partner she has to travel, and the distance between them can only be crossed by train. As in Hermann's work the
80 BETH LINKLATER train is a setting much more symbolic than any geographical space. Its speed upsets the balance ('sprengt die Balance', Tg, 170), simultaneously creating and endangering the possibility of love. In the second story in the collection, 'Eine Tanzerin, die niemand kennt' (Tg, 20-6), Berlin is once again referenced through the use of street names (Tg, 20). Yet as in the first story 'Tango in Berlin' (Tg, 7-19), the settings are actually the dance hall and the protagonists' apartments. In both, lonely but independent women attempt to find a suitable dance partner and fail. In 'Tango in Berlin' this failure is humorously portrayed, but in 'Eine Tanzerin, die niemand kennt' Sabeth's potential partners fail to take the opportunity to ask her to dance, despite their interest, and she returns home alone and 'einfach zu traurig' (Tg, 26), just too sad. As in Hermann's stories lack of communication leads to a sense of unrealised possibilities. This is also true of the story 'Sommer im Winter' (Tg, 36-8), in which the main character, called simply 'Die Frau', the woman, has travelled to Argentina to find a meaning to the crises in her life (Tg, 87). She is unable to have children and had left her boyfriend after she discovered that he had a child with another woman. Her journey brings one short moment of happiness which she knows she will never forget (Tg, 88), but it is a moment of love (for 'den Mann', the man), which, like the characters in Hermann's stories, neither will do anything about. Dorn's longer story Der Hunger der Kellnerin (1997) also uses Berlin merely as background to the portrayal of Marta's personality.49 As Anke Westphal writes, 'the bars, department stores, flats and studios remain universal - an outer world, faceless and detached' ('Die Bars, Kaufhauser, Strafien, Wohnungen und Ateliers blieben universell - eine Aufienwelt, gesichtslos und unverbindlich').50 Dorn's real focus is on Marta's inner world. In Dorn's novel Ltigen und Schiveigen (2000) Berlin also remains vague.51 Again the author prefers internal to external settings. Ltigen und Schweigen thematises the GDR past through a portrayal of a dysfunctional father-daughter relationship. The title thus refers not only to relations within Vera's family and to her relationship with her boyfriend Vincent, but also to East German politics. Indeed one reviewer describes the text as offering 'a look back at the formative reality of the "former East"' ('einen Blick zuriick in die pragende Wirklichkeit des "ehemaligen Ostens"').52 Yet here too the main theme
GLOBAL CONCERNS IN RECENT WOMEN'S WRITING IN GERMAN
of this book is much wider, and is, as Angelika Ohland argues, the impossibility of communication in the global communication society.53 It therefore foreshadows much of what will be thematised in Tangogeschichten. Dorn is the writer who deals most directly with Germany's Nazi past in her short stories. Whilst, in its focus on relationships, character portrayals and the inability to communicate, her writing is 'global', it is important to note those aspects which could, once again, better be characterised as 'glocal' or as specifically German. Germany's relationship with Argentina has, of course, a very specific history, and this history cannot be completely ignored. 'Gardels Lacheln oder Der Tod als Irrtum' (Tg, 95-103), 'Nostalgias' (Tg, 104-31), 'Pauls Tranen' (Tg, 132^7), and 'Gretas Paare' (Tg, 154-69) all deal with the past from the perspectives of German and Jewish victims and also of German perpetrators. All are, however, set in the present and involve young as well as old characters, thus emphasising that 'the past is present everywhere, it's more present than the present' ('die Vergangenheit tiberall gegenwartig [ist], sogar starker als die Gegenwart' (Tg, 17). In 'Pauls Tranen' a former German soldier and deserter presents a young German girl with a different perspective on the horrors of war. His story is regularly interrupted with tango music, the sadness of which takes on a more problematic meaning than in the majority of Corn's stories, where it stands simply for failed relationships. This is also true of 'Gretas Paare', in which Greta, a Jewish refugee, draws images of tango dancers through which she relives her memories of the past. The effect of these four stories is heightened because they are deliberately placed together at the end of the collection, forcing the theme of the Nazi past into the text and into the reader's focus. The narrator of the final story in Jenny Erpenbeck's collection Tand summarises her life with the words: 'I just don't know where I am in all of this' ('Wo ich indessen geblieben bin, weifi ich nicht').54 This story, which gathers together the characters and themes of the previous nine, is entitled 'Anziinden oder Abreisen' (T, 113-17). The choices of arson or escape again offer clear links to Hermann's writing, in particular to Stein's actions in 'Sommerhaus, spater'. The focus of Erpenbeck's stories is also on the interpersonal and on character portraits. Her characters too are attempting to accord their lives some
82 BETH LINKLATER meaning, and the themes of chaos and decay take on an especially important role in the narratives. This is particularly the case in the title story, where the narrator watches her grandmother grow old. Tand is set in the grandmother's house and in an unnamed city, the 'Stadt' (T, 36). Of all the stories considered here, Erpenbeck's settings are the least specifically German, most are very general, notably undefined or internal. 'Anziinden oder Abreisen' makes reference to 'das Land' and to 'd[ie] Fremde' (T, 116), the country and abroad, but to nowhere more precise than that. The most important "place' in 'a ist gleich v durch t' (T, 67-79) is the emptiness the father stares into, which the narrator, his daughter, cannot grasp. Later on she realises that this space represents her father's other life, as embodied in his son from a previous relationship. Like many of Hermann's characters this man too had travelled continually making journeys which 'were not about searching for something he had lost, but were about loss itself ('nicht der Suche nach etwas, was er verloren hatte, galten, sondern ganz im Gegenteil dem Verlieren', T, 77). Staring into the empty space that dominates the narrative is thus another form of travel. The story 'Atropa bella-donna' (T, 47-61) opens on a camping site 'Richtung Grenze' (T, 47), in the direction of the border, as the two young protagonists are walking into an unnamed 'andere[s] Land' (T, 48), another country. The border here is not to be primarily understood as a national border, but rather represents the barriers between the two friends, the 'type of silence which lies between us like an unconscious third body' ('Art des Schweigens, das zwischen uns liegt wie ein dritter Korper, der ohnmachtig geworden ist', T, 51). The GDR is also referred to directly in only one of Erpenbeck's stories, namely 'Haare' (T, 63-6). However, this is an ironic tale about the narrator's hair, which refers to West Germany only as a place that invents plastic hairbrushes and daily hairwashing long before these things ever appear in the East. As in Franck's 'Der Hausfreund', national politics are insignificant, reduced to the level of a haircut. The only story in Tand to deal with the Nazi past is 'Siberien' (T, 91-105), for which Erpenbeck was awarded a Bachmann prize in 2001. Here, as in Duckers' 'Maremagnum' and Himmelskorper, the narrator uses the act of sorting through her grandmother's household to inspire memories of the past. As the narrator and her father sit amongst clothes,
GLOBAL CONCERNS IN RECENT WOMEN'S WRITING IN GERMAN
papers, books and old crockery (T, 104), her father tells her the story of his mother. She had been sent to Siberia as a prisoner and had returned to Germany, barely alive, three years later, to find another woman in her place. The effects of the hardships of war, which continue into the present day, are etched into her skin (T, 95). They affect not only her own life but also the lives of her husband - the narrator's grandfather (who lost both a leg and his girlfriend in the war) - her son and ultimately the narrator herself. The pain the war inflicts is seen very much within a personal context. From this survey it would seem, then, that national space has given way to a more fluid notion of travel, or escape, as the important 'setting' for these 'global' texts. Internal space, whether a bedroom, a taxi or a train carriage, is much more important in these stories than Berlin or Germany. Indeed Berlin, although frequently referenced, would seem to be a city 'emptied of physical significance'.55 Instead, significance is given to individuals and their relationships, to momentary emotion, to light, to atmosphere, to the body, to sex, to love - or at the very least to the possibility of love within a context of increasing isolation. These themes, which appear to dominate in these short stories, are certainly global and reflect Giddens' description of global society as 'fraught with anxieties'. Ernestine Schlant asserts that one should also 'expect that [...] German literature will persevere in its search for new articulations, in its continuing efforts to come to terms with the Holocaust'.56 In line with this, it may also be appropriate to replace the term 'global' with 'glocal', certainly for texts such as Diickers' Himmelskorper. Indeed Himmelskorper is taken by Volker Hage as the basis of his recent article in Der Spiegel, 'Die Enkel wollen es wissen', 'the grandchildren want to know',57 the title of which clearly harks back to his influential statement 'Die Enkel kommen' ('the grandchildren are coming') of 1999. Whereas in 1999 Hage claimed that 'Conflict with Nazi-parents is no longer a theme. The stories are set in Germany, but Germany no longer plays the lead role', in 2003 he specifically highlights a whole wave of texts which revisit 'the wartime experiences of grandparents [...] memories of escape, expulsion, violence', Hage now claims that 'German writers are bound by the inheritance of the past'.58 Yet Hage should not be tempted to invalidate his former opinions so sweepingly. The strand of
84 BETH LINKLATER German literature that Himmelskorper represents is just one strand of Tanja Diickers' writing, just as it is only one strand of recent German writing. To return German literature to this one strand is, as I have argued here, not only extremely limiting but can also encourage stereotypes of German culture which are based solely on war and revolution. A focus on the global, or where appropriate the 'glocal', can - and should - correct this perspective.
Judith Hermann, Nichts als Gespenster (Frankfurt am Main, Fischer, 2003), 273-318, p. 264. Hereafter NaG. 'Ich fahr nach Paris und ich fahr nach Tokio, nach Lissabon, Bern, Antwerpen und Rom, ich fahr urn die Welt and I'm just lookin' for you, glaub mir, ich suche nur dich'.
2 Matthias Prangel, 'Eine andere Art von Riickblick. Gesprach mit Judith Hermann iiber Sommerhaus, spater', literaturkritik.de, 2 (2003), http: / / www.literaturkritik.de/public/rezension.php?rez_id=5689&ausgabe=200302, p. 4 (accessed 17.03.03). 'Berlin bedeutet fur mich wohl weniger, als man vermuten konnte [...] es ist Zufall, dass die Geschichten in Berlin spielen. Sie sind zwar ganz als Berlingeschichten gedeutet worden, waren aber von mir eigentlich gar nicht so gemeint, vielmehr einfach nur als Geschichten von dem Ort, von dem ich nun einmal viel weifi'. 3 Timm Menke, 'Lebensgefuhl(e) in Ost und West als Roman: Ingo Schulzes Simple Storys und Norbert Niemanns Wie man's nimmt. Mit einem Seitenblick auf Timm Staffels Terrordrom' in Gerhard Fischer and David Roberts, Schreiben nach der Wende. Em Jahrzehnt deutscher Literatur 1989-1999 (Tubingen: Stauffenberg, 2001), 253-61, p. 261. 4
The term was first introduced in McLuhan's book Explorations in Communication (Boston: Beacon Press, 1960).
5 Quoted in 'Hitler und Heidi', Der Spiegel, 28 (1999), http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/0,151830920,OOJitml (accessed 20.05.03). 6 See Stuart Taberner, 'Introduction' in Stuart Taberner and Frank Finlay (eds.), Recasting German Identity. Culture, Politks, and Literature in the Berlin Republic (Rochester: Camden House, 2002), 1-15. 7 Maxim Biller, 'Soviel Sinnlichkeit wie der Stadtplan von Kiel', Die Weltwoche (25.07.91) in Andrea Kohler, Rainer Moritz (eds.) Maulhelden und Konigskinder. Zur Debatte iiber die deutschsprachige Gegenwartsliteratur (Reclam: Leipzig, 1998), 62-71. 8 Martin Hielscher, 'Literatur in Deutschland - Avantgarde und padagogischer Purismus', Neue Rundschau, 106:4 (1995), 53-68, p. 53. 9 The fact that many postwar novels set in Berlin did, in fact, exist, escaped Schirrmacher's attention, perhaps because many were written by East German authors. Frank Schirrmacher, 'Idyllen in der Wiiste oder das Versagen der Metropole' in Andrea Kohler, Rainer Moritz (eds.) Maulhelden und Konigskinder. Zur Debatte iiber die deutschsprachige Gegenwartsliteratur (Reclam, Leipzig, 1998), 15-27, p. 24. Originally in the Frankfurter Allegmeine Zeitung (10.10.89). 10 Susanne Ledanff, '"Metropolisierung" der deutschen Literatur? Welche Moglichkeiten eroffnet das vereinigte Berlin und die neue Berliner Urbanitat?' in Gerhard Fischer and
GLOBAL CONCERNS IN RECENT WOMEN'S WRITING IN GERMAN
David Roberts (eds), Schreiben nach der Wende, op.cit., 275-89, p. 275. Timm Menke, 'Lebensgefuhl(e) in Ost und West als Roman', op. cit., p. 261. 11 Timm Menke, 'Lebensgefuhl(e) in Ost und West als Roman', op. cit., p. 261. 12 Corinna Heipcke, 'The new Berlin-Roman as Paradoxical Genre: Tim Staffers Terrordrom and Tanja Duckers's Spielzone1', gfl-journal, Special Issue: Berlin 2001: A City Odyssey, 1 (2003), http://www.gfl-journal.de/l-2003/leal.html (accessed 27.06.03). 13 Volker Hage, 'Die Enkel kommen', Der Spiegel 41 (11.10.99), 244-54, http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/0,1518,50308,00.html (accessed 20.5.03). 'Anders als die GroGvater von der "Gruppe 47" gehen die jungen Erzahler auch recht unbefangen mit der Vergangenheit um: Erstmals seit nahezu einem halben Jahrhundert scheint die Erinnerung an die deutschen Verbrechen nicht mehr die Zungen zu lahmen [...] Die Auseinandersetzung mit den Nazi-Eltern scheint kein Thema mehr zu sein. Die Geschichten spielen in Deutschland, aber Deutschland spielt nicht mehr die Hauptrolle'. 14 Stuart Parkes, 'Drowning or Waving: German Literature Today' in Stuart Taberner and Frank Finlay (eds.), Recasting German Identity, op. cit, 251-66, pp. 262-3. 15 K. N. Panikar, 'Culture and Globalisation. A Non-Issue at World Summit on Social Development', Economic and Political Weekly, 30 (1995), 374-5, p. 374. 16 Matthias Prangel, 'Globalisierung - ein Begriff auch der Literaturwissenschaft? Unter anderem zu Uwe Johnsons Roman Jahrestage', Neophilologus, 85 (2001), 323-34, p. 327. 17 Anthony Giddens, 'Lecture 1 - Globalisation - London', Reith Lectures 1999, http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/events/reith_99/weekl/weekl .htm (accessed 08.04.03). 18 Volker Hage, 'Ganz schon abgedreht', Der Spiegel, 12 (1999), http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/0,1518,15098,00.html, p. 3 (accessed 30.06.03). 19 Dirk Bennett, 'German lif s new mood of warmth and sadness', http://www.artsworld.com/bc>oks-film/reviews/nboo (accessed 10.03.03). 20 Ingo Arend, 'Gelee Centrale. Setzkasten der Trashkultur', Freitag, 40 (1999), p. 16. 21 Michael Bauer, 'Liebe in den Zeiten von Tralala', Suddeutsche Zeitung (05.11.99), V2-3. 22 Cornelia Staudacher, 'Komplexe Komplexe in therapiefreier Zone', Der Tagesspiegel, (09.07.00), W5. 23 Her grandfather was the author Fritz Erpenbeck who founded the journal Theater der Zeit, her grandmother the writer Hedda Zinner and her father John Erpenbeck is also a writer. 24 Ina Hartwig, 'Wir haben alles gewollt. Neue Frauenprosa: Erpenbeck, Strubel und Zeh', Frankfurter Rundschau 201 (30.08.01), p. 17. 25 See, for example, Matthias Schreiber, 'Vom Herztod der Helden', Der Spiegel, 41 (1999), 262-3, and Verena Auffermann, 'Tod des Kollektivleibs', Suddeutsche Zeitung (13.10.99), Vl-5. 26 'Ein Madchen mit Vergangenheit', Die Welt (09.02.00), p. 36. 27 Frank Lingnau, 'Ausweitung der Spielzone', Am Erker. Zeitschrift fur Literatur 41 (2001), 103^, p. 104. 28 max, 'Hunger haust in Katrin Dorns Kellnerin', Die Welt, 33 (19.02.97), G5. 29 See, for example, Thomas Kraft, 'Sex, Kicks und Rotweinsonne', Frankfurter Rundschau, 69 (22.03.01), p. 22; Hilde Malcomess, Trau mit Rontgenblick', Rheinischer Merkur, 43 (26.10.01), p. 25, and FJisa Peppel, 'So viel Madchenschweifi', Frankfurter Rundschau, 293, (16.12.00), p. 20.
86 BETH LINKLATER 30 Alexandra Wach, 'Verlorene Zeit', Financial Times Deutschland, 288147 (23.11.01), p. 5. 31 jhe, 'Tod und Eros', Frankfurter Rundschau, Magazin, 203 (01.09.01), p. 18. 32 Roland Robertson, 'Globalisation or Glocalisation', The Journal of International Communication, 1 (1994), 33-52, p. 48, p. 38. 33 Laslo Scholtze, 'Ruhiger, welter, traumtief. Der zweite Erzahlband von Judith Hermann', literaturkritik.de, 2 (2003), http: / /www.literaturkritik.de/public/rezension.php?rez_id=5689&ausgabe=200302, p. 10 (accessed 17.03.03). 34 Judith Hermann, Sommerhaus, spater (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1998), p. 147. Hereafter Ss. 35 It is also at a train station where she announces that he will marry her and threatens to jump in front of a train if he does not agree (Ss, 78). Trains play an important role in 'Rote Korallen' (Ssll-29), where the narrator's grandmother and her lover's great grandfather flee Russia by train at the last minute before Revolution; and in 'Ende von Etwas' (Ss, 85-96), where the protagonist's grandmother lost her son on a refugee train after the war (Ss, 91). 36 Stuart Taberner, 'Introduction', Recasting German Identity, op. cit., p. 11. 37 'weil [er] fortgehen kann. Jeden Tag, jeden Morgen [seinen] Koffer packen, die Tiir hinter [ihm] zuziehen, gehen' (Ss, 137). 38 Kristian Teetz, 'Im poetischen Museum', Die Welt (17.03.01), p. 5. 39 Tanja Diickers, cafe brazil (Berlin: Aufbau, 2001), 79-91. Hereafter cb. 40 Tanja Duckers, Luftpost. Gedichte Berlin - Barcelona (Berlin:Tropen Verlag, 2001). Hereafter L. 41 Tanja Duckers, Spielzone (Berlin: Aufbau, 1999) 42
Maike Albath, 'Drei Trips und eine Ladung Weingummi', Der Tagesspiegel, 16 654 (04.04.99), p. 7.
43 Anke Westphal, Taare, Passanten, Erlebnisvielfrafie', Berliner Zeitung, 95 (24/25.04.99), p.v. 44 Tanja Duckers, Himmelskorper (Berlin: Aufbau, 2003) Hereafter HK. 45 'die Gedachtniskirche, die Einschufilocher an den Hausern in Friedrichshain' and to 'die ungebrochene Wurde der jiidischen Synagoge an der Qranienburger Strafie'. 46 Maike Albath, 'Wieder so eine Klarheit', Frankfurter Rundschau (15.01.00), p. 4. 'wo trendbewufite neue Romane heutzutage spielen: im ostiichen Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg, und zwar in der Kastardenallee'. 47 Julia Franck, Bauchlandung. Geschichten zum Anfassen (Koln: DuMont, 2000). Hereafter B. 48 Katrin Dorn, Tangogeschichten (Miinchen: dtv, 2002). Hereafter Tg. 49
Katrin Dorn, Der Hunger der Kellnerin (Berlin: Aufbau, 1997).
50 Anke Westphal, 'Eine Frau von dreifiig Jahren', Berliner Zeitung, 67 (20.03.97), p. vi. 51 Katrin Dorn, Lugen und Schweigen (Berlin: Aufbau, 2000). 52 Martin Jankowski, 'Die kleinen deutschen Dinge', Neue deutsche LHeratur, 6 (2000), 166-8, p. 166. 53 Angelika Ohland, 'Was ist denn, Vera?', die tageszeitung (04.04.00), p. 15. 54 Jenny Erpenbeck, Tand (Frankfurt am Main, Eichborn, 2001), p. 117. Hereafter T. 55 Stephen Brockmann, The Written Capital', Monatshefte, 3 (1999), 376-95, p. 391. 56
Ernestine Schlant, The Language of Silence. West German Literature and The Holocaust (New York Routiedge, 1999), p. 244. My emphasis.
GLOBAL CONCERNS IN RECENT WOMEN'S WRITING IN GERMAN
57 Volker Hage, 'Die Enkel wollen es wissen', Der Spiegel, 12 (2003), http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/0/1518,240572,00.html) (accessed 09.04.03). 58 'die Kriegserfahrungen der Grofieltern [...] Erinnerungen an Flucht, Vertreibung, Gewalt'. Second quotation: 'das Erbe der Vergangenheit, es laSt die deutschen Schriftsteller nicht los'.
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The German province in the age of globalisation: Botho Straufi, Arnold Stadler and Hans-Ulrich Treichel Stuart Taberner
In the age of globalisation, Bernhard Schlink suggests, it is scarcely surprising that a sense of 'home' should gain in importance: 'dafi Heimat [...] durchaus an Bedeutung gewinnt'.1 Nor is it surprising, given its long tradition, that writing about the German provinces (Heimatliteratur) should have once again become an important strand in the present-day engagement with the phenomenon of globalisation. Indeed this is a phenomenon that, at the onset of the 'second phase of the modern' (Ulrich Beck), provokes similar anxieties about uprootedness, disorder, cultural degeneracy, and local specificity, as industrialisation did at the beginning of modernity's first phase. In fact, much of contemporary German fiction, in its depiction of globalisation, draws on the tropes of nineteenth-century writing about the province. In so doing, it invokes what Norbert Mecklenburg has termed the antagonism between an 'anti-provincialism rooted in an affirmation of modernity' ('modernitatsbewufitem Antiprovinzialismus'), articulated by artistic and intellectual avant-gardes based in the city, and an 'antimodernism rooted in the values of the province' ('provinzbewufitem Anti-modernismus'). The latter often finds expression as social and political conservatism, cultural pessimism and 'Heimat-ideology', with art forms to match.2 It is precisely this inherently conservative desire for order and the exclusion of all traces of difference that became discredited from the late
90 STUART TABERNER 1960s on account of its evident association with Nazi ideology.3 In the 1950s, Heimat films in particular, as Elizabeth Boa and Rachel Palfreyman observe, encouraged 'the desire for social cohesion as a salve for the traumas of war' as well as regret for the 'loss of lands in the East'.4 From the time of the student protests of the mid-1960s, however, it was the anti-Heimat novel, play or film that became more typical of West German culture. Examples would be Volker Schlondorff's film Der plotzliche Reichtum der armen Leute von Krombach (1970), Martin Speer's 1966 anti-Heimat play Jagdszenen aus Niederbayern, or Franz Xaver Kroetz's Wildwechsel (1968). More affirmative writing about the province did not entirely disappear, of course, but it was regarded with suspicion by many. Martin Walser, for one, attracted much opprobrium when, in the 1970s, he began to publish a series of novels which appeared to celebrate the 'authenticity' of the province over the affectations of the FRG or indulge in nostalgia for the eastern provinces lost after World War H In particular, Wolf, in the novella Dork und Wolf (1987), thinks fondly of 'Memel', 'Riga' and 'Revel', although the narrator is adamant: 'Not that he wanted them back, the lost provinces in the east. But he wanted to be allowed to mourn their loss' ('Nicht dafi er's wiederhaben wollte. Den Verlust bedauern diirfen wollte er').5 More generally, regional presses have long published works rooted in local traditions. Broadly speaking, three forms of writing about the province seem to have emerged in German fiction since unification: 1) a more or less nostalgic form; 2) an appropriation of the standard literary tropes associated with the province that is ironic but which, in a postmodern twist, aims to extract from this irony, ex negative, an authentic impression of a sense of loss; 3) a third form which sees the province as precisely that: provincial, and which indicts the lack of a truly metropolitan culture in the Federal Republic. All three respond, in their own way, to globalisation. In the first two instances, the German province is re-imagined and invoked as a protest against the cultural homogenisation associated with the encroachments of capitalism, brand names and global commerce. In the third case, contrastingly, it is precisely its engrained cultural and intellectual provinciality that prevents modem Germany from projecting a sovereign, self-confident culture, from being a 'normal' country.
THE GERMAN PROVINCE IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION 91 In this chapter, I will be looking at the work of three authors - Botho Straufi, Arnold Stadler and Hans-Ulrich Treichel - and examining the importance of the German province in their writing.
BOTHO STRAUfi: THEORETICIAN OPROVINZ In his description of traditional forms of Heimatliteratur, Norbert Mecklenburg isolates its 'utopian aura' ('utopische Aura'), desire for the 'salvation of that which is unique' ('Rettung des Besonderen'),6 'mystical inwardness' (Vertraumte Innerlichkeit') and 'spiritualisation of the province' ('Spiritualisierung der Provinz')7Yet, far from being defunct, these characteristics are precisely those that are to be found in the work of Botho Straufi. Indeed, Straufi is the writer who has become perhaps the most vocal champion of the virtues of Provinz, and the scourge of all that is shallow, trite, and trivial - that is to say, 'modern' - in the Federal Republic. Best known for his dramas, Straufi has nonetheless produced a corpus of literary and essayist works since unification, which combine moments of autobiographical reflection, social comment, philosophical abstraction, fragmentary insights, and fictional elements. The themes of his oeuvre are as follows: the artificiality of the Federal Republic; the hollowness of modern life, and the triteness of the media and of contemporary culture in general; the sanctity of language; and the desire to return to the province in order to escape the inauthentic 'virtual' world of the city, consumerism, and the politically-correct compromises of pragmatic politics. Through these themes he displays his affinity with critics such as Ulrich Greiner, Frank Schirrmacher and Karl Heinz Bohrer (although Bohrer's concept of the 'absolute presence' of the work of art refuses the metaphysical significance that Straufi desires). Straufi' essay 'Anschwellender Bocksgesang' first appeared in the Spiegel magazine in February 1993,8 and was then reprinted as the centrepiece of the collection of essays edited by Heimo Schwilk and Ulrich Schacht, Die selbstbewufite Nation (1994). This volume is often held to represent the manifesto of the intellectual New Right in the early 1990s. Straufi' piece begins with an attack on the liberal press,
92 STUART TABERNER political correctness and, in particular, on what Straufi describes as a culture in which spiritual values and ties to regional or national traditions are unable to resist the media culture of 'enlightened' cynicism. StrauS refers to this as 'the bigoted piety of the political, of the critical attitude, of the determination to doubt everything' ('die bigotte Frommigkeit des Politischen, des Kritischen und AllBestreitbaren'). On a more general level, the article condemns the Federal Republic as a regulated public space in which reason is prized over emotional attachment, and perpetual self-criticism esteemed more highly than unreflected attachment to tradition (AB, 58). The verve of the nation is thereby dissipated within a passionless, artificial constitutional order - the Federal Republic, he implies, is a 'state' rather than a 'country'. From relatively early in the 1990s, Straufi' offensive against the Federal Republic is linked to a broader critique of modernity in general. A series of essays in Beginnlosigkeit (1992) and fictional fragments in Wohnen, Dammern, Lugen (1994) predict the sentiments of StrauS' first Heimatroman of the 1990s, Die Fehkr des Kopisten (1997). The protagonist of this work, clearly based on the author, dismisses the modern world as lacking in mysticism, overly enlightened and entirely unsentimental. Instead, he calls for a re-aestheticisation of the world, a language of spirit and sensibility.9 This novel, and Das Partikular (2000), a work which, as Ingo Arend notes, embodies the 'duality of aesthetic escapism and political extremism' ('Dualitat von asthetischem Eskapismus und politischem Extremismus'), are typical of the author's oeuvre.10 As such they substantiate Straufi' indebtedness to what Stephen Brockmann has termed the 'romantic anti-capitalist tradition' in German thought and literature.11 In both formal and thematic terms - his penchant for the fragmentary and the metaphysical - Straufi alludes to Schopenhauer, Wagner, Nietzsche, Tonnies, Spengler, Heidegger and others discredited by their association with Nazism, in an expression of repugnance with the modern world. Here, as Brockmann suggests, Straufi joins other neoconservatives in denouncing 'materialism'; 'the death of authentic national cultures'; 'ecological devastation'; 'the aesthetic ugliness of the capitalist/American way of life'; 'the lack of national autonomy'; 'rootlessness, alienation and loss of values'; 'coldness and violence';
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and post-1949 West German history 'as a period of artificial frozenness'.12 The response to the degradations of the modern world is a renewal of faith in beauty, and in its ability to transcend the merely quotidian, the banality of the immanently political and the ugly excesses of homo economicus. In his 1991 essay, 'Der Auftstand gegen die sekundare Welt', on consumerism and its fake reality, Straufi declares 'Beauty, which cannot be explained, inheres in that which has not been taken apart, in the inclusion of all possible meanings, it is experienced as untainted and cloaked in mystery'. ('Das unerklarlich Schone verbleibt in der complicatio, in der Eingefafitheit aller Bedeutungen, es wird unverletzt, unenthullt erlebt'). This beauty is to be found in a return to a more 'original' concept of the work of art: beauty as capable of resisting instrumentalisation and of repairing the damage done to the ego by the split in human consciousness which, according to Kant, is a prerequisite of modernity. Straufi recalls with nostalgia the enchantment of the undivided subject. The protagonists of this author's novels, and indeed his reader, need not therefore reflect on their intuition of the world. They need not reflect on the split in perception that requires the individuals to subject their prejudices, beliefs and pleasures to critical analysis. Rather, they are permitted simply to make good the loss of the tautological, original faith in language: I am he who I am' ('Verlust der tautologischen Urvertrauens in die Sprache: ich bin der ich bin'), which so afflicts the human subject in the modern world.13 Here, StrauS' understanding of Anwesenheit, or 'presence', is influenced by George Steiner, who also argues for the 'authentic presence' of the work of art in a world formed by the superficiality of consumerism. Straufi, in fact, wrote the afterword for the German version of Steiner's Real Presences (1990). The 1999 piece 'Zeit ohne Vorboten' associates the 'sekundare Welt', 'secondary world', more directly with the mediatisation of the world, the internet revolution and the loss of cultural identity. This essay, more than any of other Straufi's works, betrays the influence of the thinker Martin Heidegger. Indeed, as Jan-Werner Miiller argues, Heidegger laid the seeds of a 'nationalist postmodernism of post-unification' and sent out a 'proto-postmodernist message in a bottle, which was found by ideological [neo-conservative] movements forming themselves in the late 1980s and early 1990s'.14 In 'Zeit ohne Vorboten', Straufi
presents himself as a lingering remnant of patriotic feeling ('ein armes deutsches Uberbleibsel'), as yet untouched by the madness of postmodern uprootedness, 'before he is washed away by the tides of the new globality' Cbevor er sich in der Wassern der Globalitat aufloste').15 In a world in which everything, and everybody, has become vernetzt (networked),there are still, however, breaks in the system in which authentic feeling might be experienced. These are moments when pain might be felt, making possible 'a curse, the most primal and the most heartfelt' ('den Fluch, den ersten und rohen', ZV, 97). The pain of 'being-in-the-world', that foundational Heideggerian moment, might just offer some resistance to the blandly anaesthetising effects of the commodity culture. In the confrontation with the fundamentals of life and death - joy, awe, longing and loss - the individual snatches a split second of genuine experience, an instant of unmediated emotion. And where is such identity with the essential self to be experienced? For Straufi, the answer is self-evident: "The vaster the distances across which we speak and calculate, the more "globally" we live, the more certain it is that it is only in the province, remote from everything, that we will be able to formulate words and produce a final moment of disruption' (Je grofispuxiger ("globaler") man redet und rechnet und denkt, um so gewisser findet die letze Ritzung, die das Wort vermag, in einer sehr entlegenen Provinz start', ZV, 97). In Die Fehler des Kopisten, then, the author retreats into the province with his son. It is here that he experiences the metaphysical union of word and deed (FK, 25), that he glimpses real beauty (FK, 36), and that he is free of the deceptions of the city (FK, 49). IDas Partikular (2000) too, a novel which tells of a fail love affair but which gives over space to its narrator to reflect on sex, commerce and God, it is only away from the city that beauty can be experienced. The island of Zehl, to which the narrator retreats, 'rises up with dramatic definition from the floods which swamp our everyday encounters, its earth reveals the calcification of pure, transient beauty' ('erhebt sich allerdings schroff aus den Fluten gewohnlicher Beruhrungen und Kontakte, ihre Erde zeigt das Versteinerte von lauter fliichtig Schonem').16 Beauty, transience and resistance: these define Straufi' Provinz - nostalgia for a world that has been lost, which is surely conscious of its irretrievablity but determined to bemoan the fact Straufi' essay 'Zeit ohne Vorboten' offers a cryptic comment on the
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calls for a 'new readability' and more 'entertainment' that dominated discussions of German fiction in the 1990s: "The opposite of readerfriendly literature is not reader-unfriendly literature, but rather a different kind of reader. The reader who labours whilst reading' ('Der Gegensatz zur leserfreundlichen Literatur ist nicht die leservergramende, sondern der andere Leser. Dem das Lesen schwerfallt', ZV, 103). The work of the author next considered, Arnold Stadler, is certainly demanding - indeed, an intentional obscurity is set against the platitudes of the culture industry. Like StrauS, Stadler's work responds to globalisation by returning to the tropes of nineteenthcentury writing about the province. Unlike Straufi, however, the traditional framing of the province as a site of resistance to the encroachments of modernity gives way, in Stadler's fiction, to an ironic awareness of the impossibility of this dream - the province, nowadays, is also 'online'.
ARNOLD STADLER: 'DER SCHMERZ IST DER GRUNDRIJ1DES SEINS'17 Arnold Stadler is the author of a number of collections of poetry, including Kein Herz und teine Seele (1986) and Gedichte auft Land (1998). He has also published studies of Brecht, Paul Celan (1989) and Hebbel (1999), and travel accounts such as Volubilis. Oder Meine Reise ans Ende der Welt (1999) and Ausflug nach Afrika(1999), Hebrew translations, and six novels. Nevertheless, he was an outsider on the literary scene until he won the Biichner prize in 1999. Although he sees himself as a writer 'who describes what it is to be homeless' ('der die Heimatlosigkeit beschreibt')18, his work echoes with the realisation that Heimat, for his contemporaries, has no 'metaphorische oder sonstige Bedeutung', that is, no transcendent meaning.19 Nor does he think it possible to indulge in an innocent vision of Heimat, as Martin Walser does in his 1998 Ein springender Brunnen.™ Stadler insists: This was a century in which we lived in dose proximity to the gas ovens, in which life was lived in the uncanny co-existence of the familiar, the homely, with the brutal' ('Ja, dieses Jahrhundert [...] bot eine Leben in der Nachbarschaft von Verbrennungsofen, das Leben in einer unheimlichen Koexistenz'). "Wo
96 STUART TABERNER soil da noch Heimat sein?' he demands to know - given the horrors of twentieth-century German history, where might home be found?21 In an interview from 1999, Stadler claims that his novels speak of the fate of the 'people in the country [...] the slow extinction of rural life, the squeals of pain that inflect its language, the way in which pigs are shipped from the country to the cities, industrially slaughtered, much as the old words have long been extinguished by television'.22 In Ich war einmal (1989), he presents a life on the very margins of modernity - his own childhood in Mefikirch in Oberschwaben. This novel defines the struggle between the conflicting desires of Fernweh and Heimweh ('desire for the world outside' and 'homesickness'). The same theme permeates Feuerland (1992), in which the narrator travels to Patagonia only to find that things are as at home, Mein Hund, meine Sau, mein Leben (1994), and the 1996 work Der Tod und Ich, wir zwei. Throughout, the Heideggerian ideas of 'being-in-the-world' ('In-der-Welt-Sein', Mein Hund, meine Sau, mein Leben),23 and 'pain as the foundational experience' ('Schmerz als Grundrifi', MH, 13), are central, as is the notion of pain as proof of authentic existence: 'I felt pain and therefore I existed' ('Es tat weh und ich war da', MH, 143). In Der Tod und Ich, wie zwei, furthermore, the narrator, an author, speaks of the pressures of finding a publisher for his archaic, withdrawn fiction in the philistine, American-style culture of limitless possibilities.24 Finally, he reports that he has sent his completed manuscript to the Residenz Verlag (the publishers of the novel!), but that he is indifferent to the outcome.25 The 1999 novel Em hinreissender Schrotthandler begins with its narrator opening his door to a stranger dressed in an Adidas tracksuit in German national colours and holding a sports' bag.26This is Adrian, the 'hinreissender Schrotthandler' ('dashingly devastating scrap merchant'), of the title, a young man whose occupation, personality, and provenance exemplify the Berlin Republic of the newly elected chancellor, Gerhard Schroder. Despite his attire, Adrian is not German but an Englishspeaker whose name hints at the Adriatic. Modern Germany, it would seem, is pure pastiche, a blend of trite global fadism and adopted identities, a nation obsessed with recycling because it can produce nothing original. The alacrity with which the narrator and his wife accept this asylum seeker into their home hints at the Republic's anxious political correctness: they dare not refuse. Enlightened, left leaning -
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Gabi, the narrator's wife, fantasises about the photogenic Schroder during sex - and tax-aware (HS, 57), their lives, however, are lived in a spiritual vacuum, for which consumerism, in the shape of a 'Mercedes to still their pain' ('schmerzstillenden Mercedes', HS, 54), offers only partial relief. The narrator, who remains nameless throughout, originally hails from the south-west German provincial hinterland of Kreenheinstetten, but is now part of the urban middle-classes whose politically-correct, cosmopolitan attitudes broadly define the Berlin Republic. He is a schoolteacher who has come to internalise - almost - the values of the liberal, educated elite of the city of Hamburg. This is the northern German conurbation in which his wife was born and which is now their home: 'I was probably not yet so far gone that I would say "homophobic", but I might say "intolerant", "insufficiently liberal" or "politically incorrect"' ('Wahrscheinlich sagte ich doch nicht "schwulenfeindlich", sondern "intolerant", "wenig liberal" oder "politisch nicht korrekt"', HS, 106). Yet he remains an outsider who regrets the loss of the sacrosanct. In the metropolitan culture of politically-correct opinion and pragmatic conformity that he now inhabits, there is no marvelling at the mysteries of being, no sense of amazement, no feeling of awe, whether at the majesty of God or the pity of human existence. The narrator and his relatives once marvelled 'iiber die Grofie der Welt' (HS, 37). Now that he has seen the Vastness of the world' for himself, however, there is nothing left at which he might wonder. Stadler's novel is most obviously a satire on the fledgling Berlin Republic. Chancellor Schroder's new Germany, it is implied, is superficial, lacking in historical awareness - even the oft-invoked Aufarbeitung of the Holocaust is an expression of false piety - and primarily an instrument for the reconciliation of competing economic interests. Insofar as modern Germany has any religious or spiritual foundation at all, it is the passionless, rationalistic Protestantism of the north of the country, rather than the Catholic emphasis on immediacy, emotion and the mystical, typical of the more provincial south. There is also an implied defence, albeit ironic, of those Germans who, between 1933 and 1945, lived far from the centres of Nazi power: 'We in Kreenheinstetten were no Nazis, but perhaps only because we were
98 STUART TABERNER overlooked' ('Wir in Kreenheinstetten waren keine Nazis, vielleicht auch nur, weil man uns iibersehen hat', HS, 168). At the same time, as Harald Klaus suggests, the novel also reflects more generally on the phenomenon of globalisation and cultural homogeneity: 'Since we have "globalised" the world, we are no longer at home anywhere' ('Seit wir die Welt "globalisiert" haben, sind wir nirgends mehr zu Hause').27 In the second part of the text, then, the narrator leaves his wife, abandoning her to Adrian's worldly lustfulness and rejecting the liberal, cosmopolitan values of his adopted world. He journeys to Kreenheinstetten in search of his past, but finds the place to which he returns is not the Provinz that he had imagined. The second part of the novel is altogether more melancholic, although no less ironic, than the first. The narrator travels back to Kreenheinstetten for the funeral of Irmelda Swichtenberg - a refugee driven from the east by the Soviet advance in 1945, whose presence in the village paradoxically provides the ultimate proof that 'home' exists (HS, 136). However, the narrator finds that his rural refuge from the superficiality of the city no longer exists. He has no idea who is still alive and who has already died (HS, 147), and cannot integrate the newly-built houses into his memories of the past. Even the dialect greeting - 'Bischd au do?' ('is that you', HS, 154) - has become meaningless. Nobody is truly interested in his story of an uncle missing in the war (HS, 191). Moreover, the inn owned by his parents and sold by his brother so that he could move tb Spain - no longer serves the aptly named the 'Swabian soul' ('oberschwabische Seele', HS, 160), a celebrated local pastry dish. The modern world has arrived, and the region has sacrificed its soul. The narrator's friends now run detective agencies and property firms, dye their hair, and fret about their weight, houses and insurance (HS, 157-62). They live solitary lives (even when married) (HS, 162), worry about the hole in the ozone layer (HS, 164), complain about their sex lives (HS, 177), have children called Mike and Tom, drink high-energy drinks and, perhaps most revealing of all, drive Land-Rovers because of 'their fear of getting stuck in a ruf ('Angst vor dem Steckenbleiben', HS, 182). What makes Stadler's depiction of province so effective, and so powerful, is the fact that, unlike Straufi, he starts with the recognition that, in the present day, the German province is no less 'modern', coopted, or integrated than the city. The novel draws on the tradition of
THE GERMAN PROVINCE IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION 99 the Heimatroman ('the novel of the province'), and yet even as it critiques modernity, it displays its own decidedly modernist sensibilities. The entire narrative is constructed and presented as a piece of confessional fiction designed to appeal to a contemporary fascination with salacious self-revelation. At the same time, however, the narrator, supposedly the book's author, suffers precisely on account of the fact that in a metropolitan culture that derides real emotions as unsophisticated, that is, insufficiently urbane, his sense of loss at the disappearance of Heimat can only be articulated via that most affected of literary techniques: selfconscious irony. This repackages genuine feeling for the gratification of an audience for which literature is a form of lonely-heart insert: "I knew there were people, men and women, who brought themselves off whilst reading my ad. They were sitting at home, reading my efforts to describe myself and masturbating' (HS, 111).28 Fittingly, the narrator soon becomes a regular visitor to a psychoanalyst, the diagnostician of that most modern of illnesses: schizophrenia. In the final pages of his narrative, Stadler's protagonist bemoans the impossibility of authentic communication, even between man and wife: 'All I really wanted to say was how much it hurt, back then, when I fell off my tricycle' ('Eigentlich wollte ich ihr nur sagen, wie weh es tat, wie einst, als ich vom Dreirad gefalien war', HS, 235). Whether it be feelings of inadequacy, personal trauma, or a sense of loss following the destruction of Heimat, any genuine expression of pain is disqualified: They leave us nothing, not even pain, and one day it'll all be forgotten' ('Nichts lafit man uns, nicht einmal den Schmerz, und eines Tages wird alles vergessen sein', HS, 232). All that is left in a society that has become ever more homogeneous, in which emotions are either simulated or imported from a global culture, are what the narrator still experiences, albeit only with a large dose of self-conscious humour, as those most 'German' of German words: 'Secret, transience, longing, homesickness!' and 'above all Weltschmerz' ('das Geheimnis, die Verganglichkeit die Sehnsucht das Heimweh!' and 'deutlich und abgesetzt Weltschmerz', HS, 69). The only genuine experience of pain now permissible, it is hinted, is an ironic gesture of regret that the genuine experience of pain is no longer permissible. In Stadler's Sehnsucht (2002), the narrator travels to Bleckede, in the Luneburger Heide, after many years in Berlin.29 His motivation, as the
100 STUART TABERNER title of the novel hints, is to revive an authentic sense of 'longing', an emotion first revealed to him by his teacher, Schultze. Schultze was a refugee from the east who took his pupils to the north German coast and bid them list everything past that had been lost (S, 290). Schultze, the narrator insists, 'was no revisionist, he simply felt homesick every now and again, and even this he kept quiet about' ('war wohl kein Revisionist, er hatte nur vielleicht ab und zu mal Heimweh, was er verschweig'). Yet 'Heimweh', after the shifts in moral and social sensibilities after 1968, was considered more embarrassing than kissing in public places ('peinlicher als Kiissen unter freiem Himmel', S, 287). Any mention of the lost territories was taboo: overt, even exhibitionist, sexual displays were not. Only in the 1990s did it once again become possible to speak of Helmut. However, the same social revolution that had rendered innocent memories of a childhood in the province suspect, whilst destroying the sanctity of sexual intimacy, had led to the emergence of a world of inauthenticity and manufactured emotions. 'Schuchternheit', or shyness, Martin Walser claims, is simply 'ein anderes Wort fur Sehnsucht', 'another word for longing'. Once the bashfulness of innocence has disappeared, however, such yearning is no longer possible.30 The endeavour to rediscover the province, and likewise the attempt to rediscover memories of childhood and genuine longing, is thus doomed to amount to nothing more than pure simulation. Accordingly, towards the end of Sehnsucht, the narrator ends up in a sex-club, the BLUE MOON, in which he tries, disastrously, to relive his first sexual encounter. There is no way back, and the future holds little prospect of genuine experience. 'They don't even allow us to hang on to our youthful erections, not even the memory of an erection, not even the memory of the pain we endured as we hid them under the gowns we wore whilst at the hairdresser's' ('Nicht einmal die Erektionen lafit man uns, nicht einmal die Erinnerung daran, nicht einmal die Erinnerungen an den Schmerz unter dem Frisiermantel'). Stadler's Sehnsucht, like Ein hinreissender Schrotthandler regrets the annihilation of longing. In the modern, aufgeklarorld, anticipation, and the anticipation of anticipation, have been rendered obsolete. The individual is fully informed of all available products, takes what he or she desires, but no longer experiences the boundaries which once served to remind, in
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lived experience, of rootedness in time and space. In the globalised consumer society, there are no limits either to gratification or to the sense of alienation and disorientation. For the narrator, then, all that is left are his 'displaced, homeless erections' ('heimatlosen Erektionen', S, 264). Longing itself is deracinated: the province has now gone 'online' (S, 62). In the Liineburger Heide, as in the other provincial backwaters that the narrator tours with his lectures for consumers (S, 15), the victory of consumerism, cultural homogeneity and global networking is complete. In Stadler's novels, characters leave the province for the city only then to return in an effort to re-acquire the capacity for authentic feeling. Their efforts are always unsuccessful, but there may be a certain profit to be had from the failure itself. The ironic perception of the absence of authenticity may, paradoxically, cause an instant of genuine feeling, a split-second recollection of the pain of loss, which occasionally extends beyond melancholia into a critique of society and its urban affectations. 'It seemed to me', remarks the narrator of Sehnsucht in one such moment of non-ironic despair at the modern world, 'as if I was doing nothing but living in anticipation of longing, of arriving at that particular destination which would inevitably open out on to nothing but homesickness' ('Mir schien, dafi ich nichts als dieser Sehnsucht, jener ganz bestimmten Stelle, entgegenlebte, auf die nichts als Heimweh folgte', S, 158). This is a sensation that, in the age of globalisation, is even more acute.
HANS-ULRICH TREICHEL 'SEHNSUCHTIG-TRAURIG UND UNERLOST The work of Hans-Ulrich Treichel departs significantly from that of Stadler. In the work of Hans-Ulrich Treichel, characters return only reluctantly to the province. Most often, moreover, they share with their author the depressing certainty that memories of a childhood passed in the parochial backwoods of the country offer no Proustian 'Madeleinelike experience' ('Madeleine-Erlebnis'). As he puts it in an essay, 'Lektionen der Leere. Eine Kindheit auf dem Lande. Oder wie ich Schriftsteller wurde' (2000) the experience is of 'disposable cardboard
102 STUART TABERNER boxes', 'recycled paper' and the 'smell of wood-wool' ('Pappkartons', 'Altpapier', 'Geruch von Holzwolle'). In the place of the 'fullness' conjured up by Straufi, or the ironic melancholia of Stadler, Treichel senses only the illusion of substance. 'Emptiness', he says, 'is without doubt my most dominant childhood experience' ('Die Leere ist ohne Zweifel meine pragendste Kindheitserfahrung'). The objects that inhabit his memories possess nothing of the metaphysical transcendence associated with the object, or 'thing', in the work of Rilke or Heidegger.31 Much the same impression of the absolute emptiness of the province is communicated in two volumes of essays, Von Leib und Seek (1992) and Heimatkunde oder alles ist hetter und edel (1996). These detail with laconic dexterity Treichel's strained and yet obsessive relationship with his 'ostwestfalischen Heimat', his east-Westfalian home,32 his parents' flight from the Red Army in 1945, and the story of the older brother 'lost' on the trek which was later reworked in Der Verlorene (1998).33 Treichel's Tristanakkor2000) initially recalls the writing of Martin Walser. Indeed, the author himself has noted his debt to Walser's novel Gallistl'sche Krankheit (1972),34 and critics, including Martin Ebel, have pointed to the 'productivity of failure' ('Produktivitat des Scheiterns'), in his work, familiar from Walser's work.35 Yet Treichel's province has little in common with the rural landscapes depicted by the older author.36 This is hinted at in the ironic extension - alles ist heiter und edel ('everything is cheery and fine') - of his adaptation of the title of Walser's 1968 set of essays Heimatkunde. Accordingly, in Tristanakkord, the backwater of Emsfelde from which the protagonist hails, appears as enervatingly dull. This is a flat, featureless substitute for the Heimat irreversibly lost to Georg's parents, refugees expelled from the east after 1945, but scarcely regretted by their son. Unlike his parents, Georg draws no metaphysical comfort from a sense of rootedness in a genuinely German past, or in the famed natural beauty and authenticity of the German regions. For him, the province is precisely that: provincial. Memories of his own childhood are thus left behind as soon as he crosses the Ems, 'the river of forgetting' ('der Strom des Vergessens'), to study in the city for a doctorate.37 This is his Lethe, the river at the edge of the underworld into which the dead plunge in order to wash away the misery of their lives as they pass over into Hades.
THE GERMAN PROVINCE IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION
Subsequently, it appears that he has succeeded in escaping the narrow confines of his childhood. Employed by the composer Bergmann to proofread his memoirs, Georg accompanies the international superstar to Scotland, then New York, and finally Sicily But: Too much Emsfelde and too little New York' ('Zuviel Emsfelde und zuwenig New York', T, 190) - in the narrator's description of Georg. In spite of his efforts to cast off his past, he remains a product of his provincial upbringing, ill at ease and unable to simulate the cosmopolitan sophistication of those he meets as he travels in Bergmann's wake. Indeed, he is manifestly, even hopelessly, fascinated by Bergmann, despite the fact that he is the most hypocritical kind of elitist, a snob who despises the mass entertainment industry but who rushes to appear on chat shows, manufactures press conferences and revels in his popular success.38 Yet Georg cannot conceal the fact that he does not belong to this world. Unlike Steven, the English PhD student also in Bergmann's service, he is not shrewd in business or media-wise, neither is he alive to the opportunities for self-advancement. Instead, he is routinely humiliated by his lack of worldliness. Asked whether he likes New York, for example, Georg responds: '"It's okay"', in his typically impoverished English, when the suitably self-assured answer would have been: '"It's just great" oder "if s marvellous, it's wonderful"' (T, 121). Bergmann's success derives from the fact that he has been able to shake off his own 'provincial background in the Emsland' ('emslandische Herkunft', T, 23). He understands that the only way to achieve an international profile is to abandon the Romantic selfdelusions and outmoded sentimentality traditionally associated with German artistic traditions. He must instead adopt the affectation of urban sophistication required of 'highbrow' performers within the global culture industry. Georg, in contrast, is unable to set aside his provinciality in his own artistic endeavours. He produces imitations of landmark German works that appear embarrassingly out of step with contemporary fashions. His model, he claims absurdly, is Goethe's Werther, 'who felt himself to be a great artist when he walked out into nature, sat on a hilltop, and had the sun rise' ('[sich] dann als der grofite Kiinstler fuhlen konnte, wenn er sich in die freie Natur begab, auf einen Hugel setzte und die Sonne aufgehen lieS', T, 29). Yet his efforts are pitiful. He publishes a short volume of maudlin
104 STUART TABERNER verse in the aptly named Edition Ausweg, improvises Beethoven and Hendrix badly, and, when asked by Bergmann to write a hymn for a new piece of music, copies liberally from a Georg Heym poem (T, 215-16). In Treichel's work, the province has no metaphysical or transcendent significance. Nor has Germany developed a metropolitan selfconfidence that can engage with globalised culture in anything but a self-consciously imitative, anxiously diffident fashion. Tristanakkord touches on issues of globalisation, cultural homogeneisation and the present-day relevance of the German literary and philosophical heritage. However, unlike the writing of StrauS or Stadler, there is no sense that the banality of contemporary culture might be resisted by appealing to the spiritual superiority of the German provinces, or to the invocation of metaphysical transcendence associated with it. Much as Georg is drawn to emulate the fabled 'German' sensibility embodied by Wagner, he is incapable even of recognising the composer's famed Tristan chord. Georg may represent the desire of some Germans to revive a national tradition that is, with Wagner, 'melancholic, tinged with longing, and unresolved' ('sehnsuchtig-traurig und unerlost', T, 79), in order to withstand the superficiality of modern-day consumerism. Yet, it is implied, the connection to this heritage is now too weak. It has itself become a pitiable simulation.
METROPOLITAN CULTURE AND THE 'NEW GERMANY' Shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall, on 10 October 1989, Frank Schirrmacher, editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, published an essay entitled 'Idyllen in der Wiiste oder Das Versagen vor der Metropole'. This piece dismissed the bulk of recent German fiction as stuffy, lacking in self-confidence, derivative, and a pale imitation of what had gone before.39 Above all, Schirrmacher argued, it was the absence of a genuinely metropolitan culture in the Federal Republic that meant that contemporary writers were condemned to remain 'provincial', both in their themes and their choice of aesthetic form. Schirrmacher's essay displays the obvious influence of Karl-Heinz Bohrer, one-time FAZ journalist, Professor of Literature in Bielefeld, co-
THE GERMAN PROVINCE IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION
editor of the periodical Merkur, and, in the words of Jan-Werner Miiller 'one of the most influential intellectuals in post-unification Germany (as well as "the most important thinker of the aesthetic" in the Germanspeaking world)'.40 Similarly, Schirrmacher's opening contribution to the 1990 Literaturstreit, 'Dem Druck des harteren, strengeren Lebens stand-halten',41 recalled Bohrer's criticisms of German society. Here, Schirrmacher joined Ulrich Greiner in criticising first Christa Wolf for her apparent complicity with the GDR regime, and then, more broadly, writers in both east and west for their subordination of aesthetic criteria to what Greiner called 'Gesinnungsasthetik', the 'aesthetics of morality', that had allegedly dominated German fiction for decades.42 Bohrer's criticisms were elaborated in a number of essays from the 1980s onwards: firstly, the notion that culture in the Federal Republic was dominated by a left-liberal cabal driven by moral rather than aesthetic concerns, secondly, the provinciality of present-day writing, and, thirdly, its lack of quality.43 The accusation of 'provinciality' levelled against the Federal Republic by Bohrer and his proteges was part of a conservative programme of literary and social 'normalisation'. They hoped that Germany, now unified, would be able to escape from Hitler's shadow and become a self-confident, sophisticated, European nation state with a literary culture to match. Germany would thereby escape its self-imposed provinciality, its display of diffidence and contrition, and acquire a metropolitan self-belief to set against the intrusions of American mass culture. By the end of the 1990s, however, a growing awareness of the impact of globalisation had provoked a more general concern with the status of local culture relative to the dominant American paradigm. Maxim Biller's essay 'Soviel Sinnlichkeit wie der Stadtplan von Kiel' (1991),44 Matthias Altenburg's 'Kampf den Flaneuren' (1992),45 Uwe Wittstock's Leselust. Wie unterhaltsam ist die neue deutsche Literatur? (1995), Martin Hielscher's 1995 'Literatur in Deutschland - Avantgarde und padagogischer Purismus',46 and a number of articles by Matthias Politycki, including 'Das Gequake von satten Froschen' (1997) and 'Kalbfleisch mit Reis!' (1997),47 were all concerned, in subtly different ways, with overcoming the 'terrible irrelevance' ('furchterliche Belanglosigkeit'), which, Politycki claimed, defined Germany.48 For
each of these commentators, the question was the extent to which German writing could, and should, draw on American models in its efforts to compete with the products of a globalised book market. Politycki was originally a proponent of Neue Lesbarkeit, the promotion of readable, gripping narrative story telling supposed to contrast with a more 'German' ponderousness. In his influential essay 'Der amerikanische Holzweg' (2000), however, he subsequently went on to evaluate 'the recolonialisation' of Europe by 'the Americans', and concluded that the reference to American models was damaging to the viability of German writing.49 The Berlin Republic appears to be caught between the desire to assert a local authenticity against the homogeneising forces of globalisation, and a melancholic anxiety that local authenticity, in the German case, is hard to define at best, and, at worst, illusory. This is certainly the case if we judge by the literary debates that have accompanied the Republic's 'coming-into-being' in the course of the 1990s, and the selection of literary texts examined here. It is also demonstrated by the re-emergence of narratives about the province as a major strand in contemporary German fiction and by the various responses to globalisation evinced by this writing. For some writers, there is a stubborn determination to posit the province as the repository of "German' values. Other authors, alternatively, acknowledge the fact that globalisation has infused even the most remote corners of the German landscape, hinting at a sense of loss via an ironic, highly 'modern' self-awareness. And a further group of narratives capture a sense of regret that Germany possesses neither an authentic culture of its own, nor a metropolitan sensibility, which would allow it to define its own unique contribution within an increasingly global culture. In all three cases, however, the prognosis for the Berlin Republic, for the new, supposedly more 'normal' Germany, is depressing. 'Normality7 does not mean the revival of an authentically 'German' sensibility rooted in opposition to Western-style capitalism, which confronts the superficiality of global culture with the philosophical depth of German traditions, as conservatives would wish it. Nor is it the ability to adapt contemporary trends in a sophisticated manner, which might reconcile the desire to be part of the global community with a sense of local specificity. Just as the word 'provincial' hovers between the connotation
THE GERMAN PROVINCE IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION107 of authenticity and an admission of irrelevance, so may the word 'normal' denote the merely 'average' as well as an unburdened, easy self-confidence.
Notes 1 Bernhard Schlink, Heimat als Utopie (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2000), p. 23. 2 Norbert Mecklenburg, Erzahlte Provinz. Regionalismus und Moderne im Roman (Konigstein: Athenaum, 1982), pp. 16-17.
3 ibid., p. 18. 4 Elizabeth Boa and Rachel Palfreyman, Heimat - A German Dream. Regional loyalties and National Identity in German Culture (Oxford: OUP, 2000), p. 11. 5 Martin Walser, Dorle und Wolf in Deutsche Sorgen (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1997), 276-405, p. 360. 6 Norbert Mecklenburg, Die Grtinen Inseln (Miinchen: iudicium, 1986), p. 50 and p. 51. 7 ibid., p. 247. 8 Botho Straufi, 'Anschwellender Bocksgesang'. Originally in Der Spiegel (08.02.93), 202-7. Quotations here are from Botho Straufi, Der Aufstand gegen die sekundare Welt. Bemerkungen zu einer Asthetik der Anwesenheit (Miinchen: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1999), 55-79, p. 64. Hereafter AB. 9 Botho Straufi, Die Fehler des Kopisten (Miinchen: dtv, 1999 [first edition: 1997]), p. 16 and p. 32. Hereafter FK. 10 Ingo Arend in Freitag (02.06.00) Online version: http://www.freitag.de/2000/23/00231601Jitm. 11 Stephen Brockmann, Literature and German Unification(Cambridge: CUP, 1999), p. 115 12 Ibid., pp. 117-18. 13 Botho Straufi, 'Der Auftstand gegen die sekundare Welt. Bemerkungen zu einer Asthetik der Anwesenheif in Der Aufstand gegen die sekundare Welt (Miinchen: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1999), 37-53, all quotations on p. 50. 14 Jan-Werner Miiller, Another Country. German Intellectuals, Unification and National Identity (New Haven: Yale UP, 2000), p. 30. 15 Botho Straufi, 'Zeit ohne Vorboten' in Der Aufstand gegen die sekundare Welt, op. cit., 93-105, p. 96. Hereafter ZV. 16 Botho Straufi, DCS Partikular (Miinchen: Carl Hanser Verlag, 2000), p. 204 and p. 73. 17 Arnold Stadler, Ich war einmal (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1999 [first edition: 1989]), p. 52. 18 Arnold Stadler, 'Heimat? Eine Grabschandung', Badische Zeitung, 234 (09.10.99), 14-15, p. 14. 19 ibid., p. 14. 20 See my 'A Manifesto For Germany's "New Right"? - Martin Walser, The Past, Transcendence, Aesthetics, and Ein Springender Brunnen', German Life and Letters, 53:1 (2000), 126-41. 21 Arnold Stadler, 'Erbarmen mit dem Seziermesser', op. cit., p. 15.
108 STUART TABERNER 22 Interview in Der Spiegel, 29 (1999), 158-60, p. 159. 'Menschen auf dem Land [...] Sein langsames Aussterben, die Schmerzlaute seiner Sprache, dafi seine Schweine in die Stadte verfrachtet und industriell ausgeschlachtet werden wie seine alten Worter, die das Fernsehen langst iiberrollt hat'. 23 Arnold Stadler, Mein Hund, meine Sau, ntein Leben (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1996 [first edition: 1994]), p. 8. Hereafter MH. 24 Arnold Stadler, Der Tod und ich, wir zwei (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1998 [1st edn 1996]), p. 210. Hereafter DT. 25 I explore these novels at much greater length in my 'The Novels of Arnold Stadler from Ich war einmal to Ein hinreissender Schrotthandler1, Neophilologus, 87 (2003), 119-32. 26 Arnold Stadler, Ein hinreissender Schrotthandler (Koln: Dumont, 1999), p. 9. Hereafter HS. 27 Harald Klaus, 'Appetit auf eine Seele', Die Presse, 15486 (02.10.99), Spektrum, p. vii. 28 'Diese Anzeige, ich weifi, es gab Menschen und Frauen, die haben auf diese Anzeigen hin gewichst, die saSen zu Hause, lasen meinen Selbstbeschreibungsversuch und befriedigten sich dabei'. 29 Arnold Stadler, Sehnsucht (Koln: Dumont, 2002), p. 264. Hereafter S. 30 Martin Walser, Uber die Schuchternheit (Eggingen: Edition Isele, 1999), p. 6. 31 Hans-Ulrich Treichel, 'Lektionen der Leere. Eine Kindheit auf dem Lande. Oder wie ich Schriftsteller wurde', Neue Zurcher Zeitung, 90 (15/16.04.00), p. 50. 32 Hans-Ulrich Treichel, 'Heimatkunde' in Heimatkunde oder dies ist heiter und edel (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1996), 47-57. 33 See my 'Hans-Ulrich Treichel's Der Verlorene and The "Problem" of German Wartime Suffering', The Modern Language Review, 97 (2002), 123-34. 34 Hans-Ulrich Treichel, Tragende Satze', Neue Zurcher Zeitung, 235 (10.10.98), p. 50. 35 Martin Ebel, 'In der Komponistenumlaufbahn', Stuttgarter Zeitung, 67 (21.03.00), p. 4. 36 See my "'sehnsuchtig-traurig und unerlost"': Memory's Longing to Forget. Or why Tristanakkord is not simply A Reprise of Martin Walser' in David Basker (ed.), HansUlrich Treichel (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2004, forthcoming). 37 Hans-Ulrich Treichel, Tristanakkord (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2000), p. 17. Hereafter T. 38 Bergmann's hostility to his rival Nerlinger no doubt draws on Treichel's experience of writing libretti for Hans Werner Henze, whose difficult relationship with fellow composer Karlheinz Stockhausen is well-known. 39 Frank Schirrmacher, 'Idyllen in der Wiiste oder Das Versagen vor der Metropole', FAZ (10.10.89) in Andrea Kohler and Rainer Moritz (eds.), 'Maulhelden und Konigskinder. Zur Debatte Uber die deutschsprachige Gegenwartsliteratur (Leipzig: Reclam Verlag, 1998), 62-71. 40 Jan-Werner Muller, 'Karl Heinz Bohrer on German National Identity: Recovering Romanticism and Aestheticizing the State', German Studies Review, 23:2 (2000), 297-316, p. 297. 41 Frank Schirrmacher, 'Dem Druck des harteren, strengeren Lebens standhalten', Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (02.06.90). Also in Anz, Thomas (ed.), "Es gent nicht nur urn Christa Wolf." Der Literaturstreit im vereinten Deutschland (Miinchen: Spangenberg, 1991), 208-16. 42 Ulrich Greiner, 'Die deutsche Gesinnungsasthetik', Die Zeit (09.11.90) in Thomas Anz (ed.), "Es geht nicht nur um Christa Wolf." op. tit., 208-16. 43 See, for example, Karl Heinz Bohrer, 'Die permanente Theodizee', Merkur, 41 (1987), 267-86, p. 274; 'Warum wir keine Nation sind. Warum wir eine werden wollen', Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (13.01.90), Bilder und Zeiten, 1-4, p. 1; 'Seit '45 ohne
THE GERMAN PROVINCE IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION
47 48 49
Metropole' in Provinzialismus (Miinchen: Carl Hanser Verlag, 2000), 81-98, p. 81, and 'Provinzialismus'. Merkur, 44 (1990), 1096-1102; 45 (1991), 255-66, 356-8, 719-27; 46 (1992), 89-90. Maxim Biller, 'Soviel Sinnlichkeit wie der Stadtplan von Kiel'. Originally in Die Weltwoche (25.07.91). Here, Andreas Kohler and Rainer Moritz (eds.), Maulhelden und Konigskinder, op.cit., 62-71. Matthias Altenburg, 'Kampf den Flaneuren. Uber Deutschlands junge, lahme Dichter'. Originally in Der Spiegel (12.10.92) in Andreas Kohler and Rainer Moritz (eds.), Maulhelden und Konigskinder, op.cit., 72-85. Martin Hielscher, 'Literatur in Deutschland - Avantgarde und padagogischer Pvtrismus' in Andrea Kohler and Rainer Moritz (eds.), Maulhelden und Konigskinder, op.cit, 151-5, p. 151. Matthias Politycki, Die Farbe der Vokale (Munchen: Luchterhand, 1998), 13-18 and 23-44, respectively. Matthias Politycki, 'Das Gequake von satten Froschen' in Die Farbe der Vokale, op. cit., 13-18, p. 17. Matthias Politycki, 'Der amerikanische Holzweg', Frankfurter Rundschau 66 (18.03.00), Zeit und Bild, p. 2.
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A matter of perspective: prose debuts in contemporary German literature Dieter Stolz
EMERGING MARKETS - OR THE RUSH TO INVEST IN NEW GERMAN LITERATURE Art and commerce, appearance and design, culture and cult marketing - all these terms are nothing new within the context of European bookselling, of course. There are people who would compare all the hype about newcomers in the German book market with the Dutch tulip craze of the 17th century [...] The parallels between the tulip craze and today's newcomer boom are obvious. The craze for literary blossoms has all the symptoms of gambling fever. Deals are being made with author's names just as they were back then with tulip names. And because authors [...] can thrive anywhere and produce an unlimited variety of textual forms, publishers speculate on their future creativity, hoping for a steady climb in value and productivity.1 Certainly, the value of shares in these new discoveries is still climbing. And this despite the fact that many of the authors whose stock is so high have so far scored only a single success, and in spite of all the critics - who are never wrong - who are already eagerly anticipating the opportunity to pan the second book of the latest little star to be
112 DIETER STOLZ catapulted into the heavens of authorship. What still counts more than anything else is the dustcover blurb's triumphant claim to be announcing yet another thrilling debut. It seems the same principle applies to the literature market as the hi-tech industry - the most recent innovation is the greatest. But how novel, how fresh, really is all this 'new' stuff, as it makes its way to us from all corners of Germany and crashes onto our desks? The whole world apparently, is talking about new trends, but what are the 'new' terms with which we are bombarded supposed to mean: 'young German literature', 'new readability' (Neue Lesbarkeit), or 'return of the epic' (Ruckkehr des Epischeri)? The answer to this question will not surprise anyone. After a flight towards unprecedented heights, the promising new market of contemporary German literature is now in free-fall, thrown off course by entirely predictable realities. The popular / colourful / misleading packaging of those clever book brokers has not protected this most-hyped of markets from the unpredictable purchasing behaviour of small-time investors. In other words, bouts of wild intoxication are followed by the obligatory hangover, just as predicted in the pronouncements of 'know-it-all' literary critics from newspapers and magazines across the nation, who warned of an imminent market crash. One of many articles was published in the May 2000 issue of the largest listings magazine of Berlin, zitty, under the headline, 'Books that no one needs'. The article declared that a number of new releases were entirely superfluous publications and ended by saying: 'And there are more and more new German novels piling up behind me. Most of them don't need to be read either. They've only appeared because the author received some subsidy or other. (The exception proves the rule). Too bad all those trees had to be wasted'.2 After reading at least 99 debut novels and 999 manuscripts by budding authors in the past two years, I may be inclined to agree with the writer of these polemic lines. Yet there is probably little point in taking at face value the heavy sigh of the book lover, the oversimplifications of the critic writing in the entertainment section of major newspapers or the gushings of the publishing house editor. Neither should we be too concerned by the often frighteningly naive information offered by the shooting stars themselves, as they tear
PROSE DEBUTS IN CONTEMPORARY GERMAN LITERATURE
through the heavens, ever optimistic despite the fact that their light may be extinguished at any moment. What we can say for sure is that we are not going to get very far in our analysis of contemporary German literature if we rely simply on sound bites. If we continue merely to grab for the same old labels, even though they are plainly inadequate, we do the complex phenomenon of modern-day writing a disservice. What to do then? In order to feel a little less foolish, we would really need to answer the simple questions first: that is, who says what and when, in the context of which debate, and with which overt or hidden agendas - because, of course, it is all a matter of perspective. This can be the perspective of the agent, the author, the book dealer, the jury member, the editor, the reader, the head of the publishing company, the media representative, the review writer, the internet surfer, the television entertainer, the translator, the publishing director or the man or woman sitting in the audience at the TV chat show. In fact, no intellectually honest analysis of contemporary discourse in the conflict-ridden arena of literature in a capitalist society can avoid a consideration of the strategies deployed by various interest groups within the culture industry. Business is being done, as much as history is being made. But since this network of sometimes competing, sometimes interrelated interests cannot be fully unravelled within the framework of this chapter, I will pursue two other, more limited, perspectives. On the one hand, I will risk a retrospective of the future, by drawing to the attention some key positions within the contemporary debate on German literature. On the other, I would like to make a case for an allegedly anachronistic debut novel. Along the way, I would also like to sing a little song of praise for sweet, slow philology, for every country needs careful readers in the long run - especially in times as hectic as ours.
READING - FROM FRUSTRATION TO DESIRE The year, let's say, is 1993, and Uwe Wittstock is delivering his verdict on contemporary literature and its market position: 'Both at home and abroad, contemporary German literature has the reputation of being
114 DIETER STOLZ particularly difficult and austere [...] And nowhere in the world is literature that deigns to entertain viewed with as much distrust as here in Germany, and nowhere in the world is such a strenuous distinction made between "serious literature" and "entertainment literature" - when it really all belongs to the same category'.3 In the red corner, then, we have the America-happy apologists of a literature of everyday life and of reading for pleasure such as Wittstock. In the blue corner, the incorrigible aesthetes of the 'artyfarty' faction seeking to elucidate to the nth degree the selfreferentiality of a whole bunch of abstract, overly ambitious novels incapable of attracting an audience. Some initial stocktaking is in order. First, critics of recent writing declare, from very different positions but almost with a single voice: contemporary German literature enjoys [sic] an image that would drive even advertising agencies to despair. Its products have been dismissed for their 'lack of talent' ('Talentschwache', Frank Schirrmacher), 'tendency towards unsensuality' ('Neigung zum Unsinnlichen', Uwe Wittstock), and their apparent 'similarity to the city map of Kiel' ('Ahnlichkeit mit dem Stadtplan von Kiel', Maxim Biller).4 But then the counter-offensive is sounded.5 Indeed, should we have expected anything else? Thus Heinrich Vormweg insists: 'At the present time, it seems necessary to argue against the patently destructive wave of wholesale condemnation of recent German literature that's presently in vogue [...] It is necessary to continue the so-called literature argument, only now in the opposite direction'.6 The sharper contemporary observers of the scene don't need to be asked twice. Recent German literature, they declaim, has always been better than its reputation. This time, the weekly magazine Der Spiegel steps up to bat. Critic and essayist Volker Hage weighs in and explodes all the cliches decrying the boredom and unsaleability of German fiction. At the threshold of the new century, then, he discovers a 'miracle phenomenon of young women writers' ('literarisches Frauleinwunder'), and declares that German authors are 'back in business'.7 But that's not all. Next the men enter the game, and Giinter Grass and the Swedish Nobel Prize committee make it all possible. Authors like Georg Klein are suddenly discovered. Klein, a master of the
PROSE DEBUTS IN CONTEMPORARY GERMAN LITERATURE115
profession, was compelled to write for his desk drawer for years as publisher after publisher turned down his manuscripts. And to cap it all, a new generation appears on the scene: The grandchildren are coming. German authors and their publishers are ready to go: Giinter Grass's Nobel Prize is awakening high expectations - even in those authors who follow in the world-famous writer's footsteps. And truly: there is a new generation of passionate storytellers'.8 Even Germany's largest bookstore chain chimes in with a slogan that would have been unthinkable three years earlier: The New Germany - the New Joy of Narrative' ('Neues Deutschland — die neue Lust am Erzahlen'). Collections of short stories with the photogenic heroes of verbiage fill the bookshelves of train station bookstores, and the annual anthology - ripped off from the American model - glimpses the light of day in the publishing industry. 'Best German Authors', or so its title declares.9 It has never been as easy as it is now to debut with a famous publisher. The constant appearance of new faces and texts raise the market value of the book as an article of mass production. Never has it been so possible to make a living from writing and its spin-offs. Nor has it ever been so easy for a tabula rasa to secure a hefty advance, literature prizes, well-paid preprints, higher printing numbers, foreign licences, studios, lucrative reading tours or contracts for the filming of a first book - and all this during one's lifetime. Regardless of what one's opinion might be of these developments, the fact remains: the basic conditions for literature have changed for the better. In the course of an image update facilitated by the media, the climate has improved. The trade is experiencing a clear upward trend, and optimistic prognoses are being made.10 Nonetheless, problematic side effects cannot be overlooked: The boulevard press is gaining ground, form eclipses content, every function has to be a Happening, the author a celebrity for all to touch [...] Literature is not only an expression of social consciousness in terms of its contents but the conditions of its production and mediation also correspond to the signs of the times, the models of media and economic behavior.11
116 DIETER STOLZ The process sketched out here can be understood either as a longoverdue opening up of the German literary scene to the international market, or as a symptom of the downfall of the west or of the betrayal of literature, previously resistant to show business. Whatever the case, this process runs its course on various levels. To some extent, it is going just as planned - this is what the centralisation tendency in the publishing world is all about. A small number of large publishing concerns, operating across borders, are steadily gaining in influence. In part, though, things are progressing with rather more unpredictable consequences, particularly with regard to the direction of future narrative experimentation. This is a historical juncture at which it seems that linguistic creativity, literary manifestos and theoretical debates have been marginalised. Accordingly, it is necessary first of all to distinguish between levels of discourse that are not naturally distinct: that is, between debates within society as a whole, on the one hand, and cultural-political, literary-historical and aesthetic debates, on the other. Appropriate criteria must be developed to be able to differentiate adequately: Are we not overly interested in the incidentals of literature and not enough in literature itself? Are we not losing sight of the fundamentals, the work itself, while we direct our attention and our enthusiasm more and more toward the circumstances under which it has arisen, toward the author's identity, toward success and failure? In short: is literature nothing more than a reason, even a pretext, for talking about everything possible but the literature itself?12
LET'S TALK ABOUT LITERATURE - ONLY WHICH ONE? The multifaceted implications of the various literary debates of the 1990s that were sparked by the work of authors as diverse as Christa Wolf, Giinter Grass or Martin Walser should no longer be of issue. Instead this chapter focuses on the ways in which we might get closer to the contemporary work of literature. Speaking from the perspective of the literature scholar, this is because, first and foremost, the text must hold
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its own. But which trend ought to serve as a test case, which work might be taken as 'representative' and introduced here? There is plenty to choose from and it is not in my interest to sacrifice this wealth of content and form at the altar of some wretchedly smug hypothesis which presumes that German unification is leading inexorably to a literary homogeneity. But, alas, now we've mentioned the word 'unification' (probably inevitable in any case), but, in fact, it's one topic that people can't help talking about since the fall of the Berlin Wall. And what about the so-called Berlin Republic? Surely a pioneering epoch, an age of new departures, all set to the refrain of 'Berlin, Berlin, Berlin' - and indeed, what else?! These days we all end up talking about the old capital of the new Republic whether we like it or not. And it's true, the city at its heart really is on the move, attracting legions of curious people with its creative unrest in times of dramatic change. This is also true, of course, for the literary scene. Young authors in particular experience the now unwalled city of millions as a paradise on earth, not least because of the multitude of literary establishments and the senate's supportive measures. It is almost de rigueur to have a second home in the right district. Within the last decade, Berlin has become Germany's literary capital. Nowhere else in the Republic is the density of writers per square metre higher. Next to New York, Paris, DJ and taxi-driver, no other word crops up in the resumes of young (wannabe) authors as often as 'Berlin'. And nothing is considered more essential, more important to writing fiction than living in the so-called metropolis. That's all well and good, and I expect we'll all hang on in excited anticipation of the really great narrative about 'Germany' - the ultimate reunification story, the Berlin novel. But it is also worth taking a closer look at a literary debut of the 1990s set far away from the city of Berlin. The novel I have in mind is typical of a cultural landscape that thrives on formal variety, in which there is no unifying trend, but rather a poetic laboratory of the most heterogeneous narrative methods, a highly productive workshop from which texts with shorter and longer sell-by dates can emerge. In short, I would like to turn my attention to a literary depiction of the province. There are many to choose from - international bestsellers such as Ingo Schulze's Simpk Storys (1998), tales 'from the east German
118 DIETER STOLZ province', or Stadt Land Flufi(1999) by Christoph Peters from the far west of the Republic. There is also Karen Duve's Regenroman (1999) set in the east German moors, or the literary debut about a little village on Lake Constance entitled Seegfrorne (1998). The author of the latter is Christof Hamann - a name to remember. However, in the rest of this chapter I shall be focussing on Waldchestag by Andreas Maier, for here is an author who has managed to write a first novel that will survive all the excitement of the industry, and produce a work of art that will endure.
WALDCHESTAG, OR, NIEDERFLORSTADT IS EVERYWHERE Question: what happens to an author writing in the year 2000 whose debut novel about 'home' - Heimat in the broadest sense - is a million miles removed from the self-laudations of the young 'pop' literati'? In addition, the book is written almost entirely in the subjunctive voice, so the reader has to take vast quantities of unwieldy auxiliary verbs in their stride. On top of all that, the book has only two paragraphs in all its 315 pages. Answer: not only do the critics celebrate him, but his book sells brilliantly: 'Herr Maier, your novel is so different from a Berlin novel, a cult novel or one of these "trend" novels: what is the source of its success?' Answer: 'I grew up far away from any literary scene, had nothing to do with publishers, no one read my work [...] Perhaps that yielded something with time that is in some fashion my own and differentiates itself from what people are writing these days [...] Maybe it has to do with the fact that I have not read any American novels in recent years.'13 These days such a superior narrative talent does not get off easily. The industry strikes back and the debut of the young author, born in 1967 in Bad Nauheim, was honoured not once, but twice before the book even appeared on the market. Maier received the Ernst-Willner prize at the Klagenfurt Ingeborg-Bachmann meeting and the literary prize of the Jiirgen Ponto foundation. Immediately following publication in late 2000, Maier also received the aspekte literature prize. Since then,
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Suhrkamp has sent the author on endless reading tours where the rather reserved Maier is constantly asked, or even urged, to make autobiographical or interpretive statements on his novel. This is something that he does not like, as he sees no need to engage in the meaningless chatter of the critical establishment: "And so my own book has been my undoing, in a manner of speaking' ('Da hat mich mein eigenes Buch sozusagen ins Ungliick gestiirzt')14 - so much for today's media hubbub. This brings us to the central theme of his novel: 'It is, Schossau said, as though something had been extracted from everything, as though through some chemical process, a substance is no longer present in things although it really ought to be present in them'.15 About the plot: a 70-year-old local from the village called Adomeit, who seems to have lived his life as if it were a work of art or a philosophical system (W, 61), is buried on Whitsun in the Hessian town of Florstadt. An ornithologist with literary ambitions, Adomeit had foreseen his own death and decreed in advance that his will was to be read on the Tuesday after Pentecost. This is a cunning affront indeed by the foolish truth seeker against all those he leaves behind, for the Tuesday following Pentecost just happens to be 'Waldchestag'. This is the day when every normal Hessian gets pleasantly drunk at the carnival in the woods and generates that characteristic smell of the season: barbecue, tobacco and cooking fat. These smells are slowly but surely overpowered by the smell of urine, 'because the residents of the Florstadt Valley drink such unbelievable amounts of Licher Beer in their gardens and in the forests that the entire valley transforms itself into one single cesspool' (W, 55).16 Yet the fouling of their environment upsets the suburban world of the honest Florstadters less than the manner of burial demanded by Adomeit, the quiet eccentric who had always had a way of 'leaving no one around him in peace' ('keinen Menschen aus seiner Umgebung in Ruhe zu lassen', W, 16). No wonder that rumours start brewing. A nasty little soup is cooked up, a soup concocted from greed, misunderstanding and fear of the threatening unknown, from beer hall drivel, gossip and scandal, cliches and comic-strip balloons, from conjectures, suggestions and theories that of course no one wants to take responsibility for, from hypocritical confessions and recollections (W, 86). All the while, the so-called 'bigger picture' comes into play now and again: namely, the
120 DIETER STOLZ shadow of the Nazi past. Thus Auntie Lenchen, to the chagrin of her family, insists on talking about the pleasures of life in the Third Reich: 'What could she possibly lie about or make up. She experienced everything herself, after all. Working in the labour service of the Reich was the time of her life' ('Was solle sie denn da liigen oder erfinden. Sie habe doch alles selbst erlebt. Der Reichsarbeitsdienst sei ihre beste Zeit gewesen', W, 124). Only a few citizens remain detached from all this entirely unPentecost-like chatter. One of them, the philosophising local historian Schossau, takes it upon himself to comment on the significant lack of eventfulness. The chronicler, who appears all-knowing - if we are able to believe the narrative construction - cautions us against investing too much faith in either the gossiping he reports or indeed his own take on events: However, he's also recently flipped out. He is no longer able to say what of this whole story actually took place, what was just told to him and what he possibly embellished or invented in the course of this constant brooding. Nothing stopped talking within him anymore. Everything was talking at once. (W, 7-8)17 So the 30-year-old Schossau applies for a health spa visit to be funded by the General State Medical Insurance, an institution that promises to give lives new meaning, according to the newspaper article quoted on the last page of the novel. Taking the form of an elaborate health insurance application, the entire text serves - according to the bureaucratese of its subtitle - as Schossau's submission 'to the commission for the approval of health spa visits as per contractual contributions, submitted to the local office' ('an die Kommission zur Bewilligung von Kuren auf Beitragsbasis der hiesigen Kassenstelle'). What we read in Waldchestag is never authorised or fictitiously authentic information, but always hearsay or something that has been overheard, simply invented or arbitrarily compiled from second or third hand information. Nothing remains uncontradicted. There is no clarity anywhere, no definitive point of view, no unambiguously identifiable perspective. We have a Babylonian confusion of tongues and sham existences throughout the narrative. Moreover, the citizens
PROSE DEBUTS IN CONTEMPORARY GERMAN LITERATURE12
of Wetterau, the local town, do not allow anyone or anything to disrupt their composure or the 'normality' of their mundane existences. They tell themselves the same stories endlessly, a little differently each time. Blathering on, drawing the wildest connections, and delighting themselves with their prattle, they talk themselves to death. 'But they have agreed that everyone will talk like this making a sort of nonaggression pact: do nothing to me and I'll do nothing to you. I'll be friendly so that you're friendly too, and all that remains in the end is the mask behind which the people have become so very vapid, so empty ... Tear off the mask, and you'll see - nothing/ (W, 149)18 Even though the novel is marked by indirect speech, its style is neither manneristic nor self-indulgent. Instead, the form of the narrative mirrors the narrative object: all of the characters and a whole narrative world emerge from this frenzy of verbosity, from this world of idle chatter. The only way the reader can reach the pre-linguistic level of the text is via endless detours. The world of sensual experience is hermetically sealed off from the reader by the ceaseless talk the characters generate to describe it. And yet this world is still absolutely present in a series of precise sketches of their milieu. The entire text is an unsolvable riddle. The topic of the text, this heterogeneous fusion of speech and consciousness, is, not least, the role of the power of speech in social interaction, individualism and peer pressure and the question of boundaries and the possibilities of human insight - even beyond the German state of Hesse. For what is not unique to a particular region is the way that linguistic redundancy always seems to ensue, or the way that truths constantly get lost in the linguistic garbage, and how very sincerely people sell their insincerity. Waldchestag, then, is not really a novel of the province, a Heimatroman, in the strict sense of the term. Rather, it is a rural anti-idyll serving as a stage for the tragicomedy of human existence as a whole. Or to choose a quotation from the novel: 'He who wants to get to know the world ought to just stay at home. The entire world is always at home' ('Wer die Welt kennenlernen will, sollte lieber daheim bleiben. Zuhause, das ist immer die ganze Welt', W, 83). So instead of a sense of security and a feeling of uncomplicated rootedness in Heimat, the text communicates an existential experience of alienation on the part of its putative narrator, Schossau, from the very
beginning. A man tumbles into the abyss once all the coordinates that govern our perception of the world are laid open to doubt. First he tells us: 'My thoughts do not impose any necessity on things' ('Meine Gedanken erkgen den Dingen keinerlei Notwendigkeit auf, W, 7); later we hear: 'Your thoughts do not impose any necessity on things' ('Deine Gedanken legen den Dingen keinelei Notwendigkeit auf', W, 55), and, finally, we learn: Every utterance can be turned into its opposite [...] every comment can be reversed at any time [...]! think that everything that happens here and is talked about here has been relieved of its substance. However, I don't really know what I mean with this term substance. Maybe it's just a word. (W, 111)19 But on this Whit Tuesday, this Cartesian leitmotif seems fatuous to Schossau, and just as superfluous. Indeed, Adomeit's student and companion is a master of doubt, one of those who constantly have to 'overthink' everything (W, 146). One day he is simply swept along by the impulse to resolve concepts and reality 'willy-nilly' until nothing seems to be left: 'Everything is different than it is' ('Alles ist anders, als es ist', W, 285). All that remains is at best an awareness of the chaotic interplay between disorder and necessity. An interim balance: many names are good for one idea. Happily, Wiildchestag can be read in different ways as many of the more thorough critics have demonstrated: it's all a matter of perspective. For example, Waldchestag reads as a stylistically confident monologue about local small-minded people and cynical bigmouths or as an overpowering torrent of words depicting (pseudo-) criminal elements which piques our curiosity without any hint of moralising finger-pointing. The novel could be a depiction of social mores, or even a carnevalesque societal masked ball of the tragicomic variety. Perhaps Maier's narrative is a highly artificial work of art exploring the tension between conceptual structures which attempt to reduce reality to a neat philosophical system and a more complex empirical experience, or, as a philosophical novel of development with anti-ideological and anti-dogmatic orientation. Simultaneously, of course, it is an intoxicating celebration of all the senses as we read along. In its formal complexity, it is analogous
PROSE DEBUTS IN CONTEMPORARY GERMAN LITERATURE123
to the sudden about-turns in train of thought that characterise the unconventional master of the art of living, Adomeit himself, as he strives for independence. Thomas Bernhard's heroes might have modelled for him. Adomeit, the wild oddball, constantly switches from the high-minded and abstract into the tangible, smellable or pleasanttasting; he moves from Descartes or Kant to pork cutlets with onions and peppers. In fact, the ambivalence of his mysterious private life and the image created of him by those that indulge in local gossip have a structuring effect for the novel as a whole: Sometimes he believes, and that's what he was getting to, that Adomeit had created a grand and impressive work in his own person in exactly the same way, and indeed, in himself, a work that is just as complete in every way as Kant's, but not available in concepts or ideas [...] and that Adomeit didn't use some kind of terminology and a historically developed line of questioning developed for his work, but rather, quite simply, he used the Being of Wetterau. (W, 62)20 In short, I read Wiildchestag as an 'extraordinarily complex work' ('ungeheuer kompliziertes Werk', W, 59) and yet, at the same time, as a refreshing and entertaining celebration of the formal possibilities of prose and of inventiveness itself, saturated by reality, as a manner of living life. It should be noted that not only the ever-present master of exaggeration Thomas Bernhard appear to have some kind of influence on this wellread author, but also Heinrich Mann, Hermann Burger, Gunter Grass, Ernst Jandl, Arnold Stadler, Eckhard Henscheid and Robert Menasse - to name just a few. Jean Paul is winking at him from a distance. Why not, since it works well, here and now. This is the way I see it: No other newcomer has entered the literary scene this year with as much self-confidence and as little respect for his big predecessors as Andreas Maier. No one has risked more and no one has achieved more [...] The newcomer has borrowed so much, and, in so doing, he has made it unmistakably his own: a novel whose art of description is among the cleverest that German literature has produced in a long time.21
124 DIETER STOLZ THE FUTURE: PROFIT-TAKING AND LOSSES Everybody will keep on talking, of course, just as the characters do in Waldchestag. Book dealers, the Goethe Institute, jury members, editors, critics, journalists, publishers and audiences at the next megaliterature-event will all talk, talk, talk - the show must go on! Even we academics should keep at it. With every new effort at reading a novel, we activate our concept of art and allow ourselves again and again to take the long, deep breath necessary to savour and appreciate a successful book - even in the face of a Zeitgeist that prefers immediate gratification to hard work. We just have to hope that the authors don't just keep producing at the height of the times, but also at the highest possible aesthetic level.
Translated by Heather Fleming
Notes 1 Sigrid Loffler, Literaturen 5 (May 2001), editorial, p. 1. This text is the English version of a paper that I presented at the international colloquium 'Emerging German Writers' at the University of Leeds in May 2001. First printed in German in Sprache int technischen Zeitalter 40:162 (2002), 156-70. 'Es gibt Leute, die vergleichen das Debutantenfieber auf dem deutschen Buchmarkt mit der hollandischen Tulpen-Wut im 17. Jahrhundert [...] Die Parallelen zwischen der Tulpenmanie und dem Debutanten-Boom von heute liegen auf der Hand. Auch der literarische Blumenwahn hat Ziige des Spekulationsfiebers. Autorennamen werden gehandelt wie damals die Namen neuer Tulpensortert Und weil Autoren [...] uberall gedeihen und einen unbegrenzten Formenreichtum an Texten hervorbringen konnen, spekulieren Verlage auf ihre kunftige Schaffenskraft, in der Hoffnung, ihr Wert und ihre Produktivitat werden stetig steigen'. 2 'Und hinter mir tiirmen sich immer wieder neue deutsche Debutromane. Die meisten mu6 man ebenfalls nicht gelesen haben. Sie sind nur erschienen, weil der Autor oder die Autorin ein Stipendium bekommen haben (Ausnahmen bestatigen die Regel). Schade um die Baume'. Sigrid Loffler, Literaturen 5 (May 2001), editorial, p. 1. 3 Uwe Wittstock, Leselust. Wie unterhaltsam ist die neue deutsche Literatur? Ein Essay (Miinchen: Luchterhand, 1995), cover text. 'Die deutschsprachige Gegenwartsliteratur hat im In- und Ausland den Ruf, besonders schwierig und sprode zu sein [...] Und: nirgendwo werden die unterhaltsamen Seiten der Literatur mit so viel MiStrauen betrachtet wie hierzulande, und nirgendwo wird mit der Unterscheidung von "ernster Literatur" und "Unterhaltungsliteratur" so griindlich auseinanderdividiert, was eigentlich zusammengehort'. 4 Andrea Kohler and Rainer Moritz (eds.), Maulhelden und Konigskinder. Zur Debatte uber die deutschsprachige Gegenwartsliteratur (Leipzig: Redam, 1998), cover text.
PROSE DEBUTS IN CONTEMPORARY GERMAN LITERATURE
See Christian Doring (ed.)/ Deutschsprachige Gegenwartsliteratur. Wider ihre Verachter (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1995).
'Notwendig erscheint zunachst, gegen die Welle einer pauschalen Verfemdung der neueren Literatur deutscher Sprache anzureden, die Mode geworden und nur noch zerstorerisch ist [...] Es ist notwendig, den sogenannten Literaturstreit fortzusetzen, doch endlich in der Gegenrichtung'. Heinrich Vormweg in Andrea Kohler and Rainer Moritz, eds., op. cit., p. 125.
7 Volker Hage, Propheten im eigenen Land. Auf der Suche nach der deutschen Literatur (Miinchen: dtv, 1999). cover text. 8 Volker Hage, 'Ganz schon abgedreht' in Der Spiegel, 12 (1999), 244-6, p. 244. 'Die Enkel kommen. Aufbruchstimmung bei deutschen Schriftstellern und ihren Verlegern: Der Nobelpreis fur Giingter Grass weckt hohe Erwartungen - auch bei jenen Autoren, die dem Weltberiimten nachf olgen. Und wirklich: Es gibt eine neue Generation, die lustvoll erzahlt'. 9
Verena Auffermann (ed.), Beste Deutsche Erzahler 2000 (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 2000).
10 See Jiirgen Jakob Becker and Ulrich Janetzki (eds.), Helden wie ihr. Junge Schriftsteller iiber ihre literarischen Vorbilder (Miinchen: Quadriga, 2000). 11 Thomas Kraft (ed.), aufgerissen. Zur Literatur der 90er (Miinchen: Piper, 1999), p.12. 'Der Boulevard greift um sich, die Form iiberlagert die Inhalte, jede Veranstaltung moglichst ein Event, der Autor ein Popstar zum Anfassen [...] Literatur ist eben nicht nur inhaltlich Ausdruck gesellschaftlichen Bewufitseins, auch ihre Produktions- und Vermittlungsbedingungen korrespondieren mit Zeitgeist, Medienprasenz und Konsumverhalten'. 12 Volker Hage, Propheten im eigenen Land, op. cit., p.10. 'Interessieren wir uns nicht zu sehr fiir das Nebenbei der Literatur und zu wenig fur die Literatur selbst. Verlieren wir nicht das Eigentliche, das Werk, aus den Augen, wahrend wir unser Augenmerk und unseren Eifer immer starker auf die Umstande richten, unter denen es entstanden ist, und auf die Person des Urhebers, auf Erfolg und Mifierfolg? Kurzum: Ist die Literatur nur noch Anlafi, ja geradezu Vorwand, um iiber alles mogliche, nur even nicht die Literatur zu reden?'. 13 Andreas Maier, 'Testamentserofmung am Waldchestag', interview by Ferdinand Schmokel and Bruno Piberhofer in Listen, 59 (10.04.00), 32-4, p.32. '"Herr Maier, woher kommt der Erfolg ihres Romans, der sich ja vom Berlin-, Szene- oder Trendroman unterscheidet?"' Antwort: "Ich bin jahrelang fernab einer literarischen Szene aufgewachsen, hatte nie etwas mit Verlagen zu tun, niemand hat Texte von mir gelesen [...] Moglicherweise hat sich mit der zeit etwas ergeben, was in irgendeiner Weise eigen ist und sich unterscheidet von dem, was die Leute heutzutage so schreiben [...] Ich habe in den letzten Jahren keinen amerikanischen Roman gelesen, viellecht liegt es auch daran"'. 14 ibid., p. 34. 15 Andreas Maier, Waldchestag (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2000), p. 7. Hereafter W. 'Es ist, hat Schossau gesagt, als sei allem etwas entzogen worden, wie durch einen chemischen Vorgang, eine Substanz, die nicht mehr in den Dingen vorhanden ist, obgleich sie doch eigentiich in ihren vorhanden sein mufi'. 16 'denn die Bewohner der Florstadter Senke trinken in diesen drei Tagen in ihren Garten und im Waldchen eine so unglaubliche Menge von Licher Bier in sich hinein, dafi die gesamte Senke sich in eine riesige Seihgrube verwandelt'. 17 'Allerdings drehe er neuerdings auch durch. Er konne gar nicht mehr sagen, was von dieser ganzen Geschichte tatsachlich passiert sei, was ihrn blo6 erzahlt wurde oder was er moglicherweise im Verlauf des dauernden Nachdenkens erganzt oder erfunden habe. Es habe nicht mehr zu reden aufgehort in ihm. Alles habe durcheinander geredet'.
18 Aber sie haben sich darauf geeinigt, dafi alle so reden, sie haben eine Art Nichtangriffspakt geschlossen, die ganze Gesellschaft hat diesen Nichtangriffspakt geschlossen, tust du mir nichts, dann tu ich dir nichts, also bin ich freundlich, so dafi auch du freundlich bist, und am Ende bleibt nur die Maske, unter der die Menschen so richtig nichtig geworden sind, so leer ... Reifi die Maske herunter, und du siehst nichts'. 19 'Jeder Wortiaut sei in sein Gegenteil umdrehbar [...] Ich denke, dafi allem, was hier passiert und geredet wird, die Substanz entzogen ist. Ich weifi allerdings selbst nicht, was ich mit diesem Begriff Substanz meine. Mdglicherweise ist er nur ein Wort'. 20 'Manchmal also glaube er, und darauf habe er hinausgewollt, dafi Adomeit in genau derselben Weise ein grofies und eindrucksvolles Werk in sich erzeugt habe, und zwar in sich selbst, ein in alien seinen Teilen ebenso vollstandiges Werk wie das Kants, aber nicht in Begriff en vorhanden [...] und dafi Adomeit als hauptsachliches Material fur dieses Werk nicht irgendwelche Terminologien und in der Geschichte entwickelte Fragestellungen genommen hat, sondern schlicht und einfach das Wetterauer Sein'. 21 Hubert Spiegel, 'Die Wetterau-Fragen. Andreas Maiers grofies Debut Waldchestag', Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (18.11.00), Literatur, p. v. 'Kein anderer Debutant hat in diesem Jahr mit soviel Selbstbewufitsein und sowenig Respekt vor grofien Vorgangern die literarische Szene betreten wie Andreas Maier. Keiner hat mehr gewagt und mehr erreicht [...] Der Debutant hat aus vielen Anleihen etwas unverwechselbar Eigenes gemacht: einen Roman, dessen Beschreibungskunst zum Wichtigsten gehort, was die deutsche Literatur seit langem hervorgebracht hat'.
Not top of the pops? Martin Walser's writing since 1990 Stuart Parkes
INTRODUCTION: WALSER AND POP LITERATURE 'As a rule of thumb, pop literature is always that which Martin Walser isn't' (Topliteratur ist der Tendenz nach immer das was Martin Walser nicht ist').1 It would be difficult to reproduce here the exact form of the printing of this axiom near the beginning of the volume on pop literature, Von Acid nach Adlon und zurtick (2001), since it covers eight lines, contains five fonts and various degrees of bold print. It is also included on the CD that accompanies the book in the form of a threesecond 'welcome jingle'. The implication is dear: Walser stands for all that is alien to a, if not the, literary fashion of the late 1990s and possibly beyond. Why should this be the case? No answer is provided by an interview with the editor Johannes Ullmaier, although the same definition is used as a headline for the printed version. Equally, in another interview, one of the doyens of pop literature, Franz Dobler, trenchantly states: 'I am more than happy if nobody has the idea that my literature might have anything to do with Martin Walser or people like that'.2 Once again, no explanation is offered, so one is led to conclude that for those in the vanguard of pop literature a derogatory comment about Walser fulfils the requirement of the 'sound bite' short, pithy and memorable, but one might add, not necessarily contributing to any process of enlightenment. And yet, in this chapter I argue that it may be the case that Walser's work provides a more
128 STUART PARKES significant expression of the persistence of German dilemmas even in an age in which the globalisation of Anglo-American culture appears to have eroded the differences between nations. If one were to look for an explanation of why Walser and his works are felt by some to lie outside the perimeters of the prevailing Zeitgeist, then the following somewhat flippant, but still pertinent, comment by Ulrich Raulff on German culture in the 1990s might provide some insight: 'And when in the nineties politics returned, the Germans grumpily turned away from it and concocted a brew of rainbow-coloured fun culture and morose, black memory and guilt culture'.3 What this chapter will seek to show is that neither element of this cultural cocktail can be applied to Walser. Although his writing is often humorous, it can hardly be deemed to be part of any alleged Spafikultur, 'fun culture', of which Poplitemtur might be considered to form a significant part. What is more, one of Walser's major concerns has been to challenge the prevailing guilt culture perceived by Raulff, that is to say an attitude which requires Germans to constantly recall the horrors of the Nazi past at the expense of any focus on the achievements of the present, and to see in any expression of nationalist sentiment the beginnings of a new looming era of darkness.
GERMAN CONTROVERSIES The significance of German issues to Walser in recent years can be illustrated by the revival of the categorisation 'Deutsche Chronik', 'German chronicle', for the play Kaschmir in Parching, written in 1994-5. It had been over thirty years since he had used such a connection with Ekhe und Angora (1962) and Der schwarze Schwan (1964). Kaschmir in Parching, which has not attracted a great deal of critical attention and was not performed until 1997, contains many of the themes that have come to concern the author in recent times. As such, it is a good point at which to start this survey. It starts as a small-town comedy, reminiscent perhaps of Alan Ayckbourn, with two couples agonising in turn about telling their respective partners, who are friends, about their liaisons. The issue is complicated by the candidature of one of the men, Kelter, for the office of mayor of Parching, a small town near Munich. The contest, however,
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has a peculiarly German dimension; his opponent is a schoolteacher Hulsenbeck, a historian whose main interest is National Socialism and specifically everyday life in Parching under the Nazis. During a public debate he confronts Kelter with the anti-Semitic actions of his grandfather, whom Kelter is, however, unwilling to condemn. Hulsenbeck's name contains the word 'Hulse', meaning the case of, for example, a thermometer or cartridge and often used pejoratively of people together with the word empty (leer'). The teacher represents the type, as will be seen, frequently condemned by Walser for their obsessive harking back to the Nazi past. For Kelter, the result of this incident is his resignation from the role of mayoral candidate, which is taken over successfully by his wife. At a personal level, this balances the situation at the beginning of the play, since it still does not seem the right moment for the couples to divulge the truth. Politically though, Kelter, who is by no means a model character, has suffered by not following the rituals expected in relation to the Nazi past. The other important figure in the play is an outsider, Fritz Vritz, an exotic artist figure who finds himself taken for a Jew. This is not least on account of the way he drapes his pullover (hence the word cashmere in the title) over his shoulders in the perceived nonchalant manner of prominent Jews, such as Leonard Bernstein or Peter Zadek. However, it is not at all dear whether he is Jewish at all, although, with mixed feelings, he is willing to accept the categorisation: 'I must say, I have my problems with any sentence that begins with "I am ..." However, that I am supposed to be a Jew, I hear this again and again at the moment. And I like to hear it' ('Ich mufi sagen, ich habe meine Schwierigkeiten mit jedem Satz, der anfangt: Ich bin ... Aber dafi ich Jude sei, hore ich jetzt immer wieder. Und ich hore es gern').4 The important issue is that, as a result of his 'Jewishness', he enjoys a certain social status, despite all his eccentricities. His endorsement of Kelter would, for example, undoubtedly be an electoral bonus. Here, Walser creates a weird, and in terms of conventional realism, unbelievable figure to show how problematic everything becomes in Germany once the sensitive issue of the relationship between Germans and Jews comes to the fore. The German-Jewish theme plays a greater or lesser part in much of Walser's prose fiction since 1990, as well as in his non-fictional work. In the 1991 novel, Die Verteidigung der Kindheit, there is a significant
130 STUART PARKES incident in the Nazi era, during which the main character, Alfred Dorn, a boy at the time, sees a group of Jewish forced labourers, one of whom he addresses with a disparaging 'Hey, Jew!' ('He, Jude!').5 The Jew in question turns out to be the non-fictional figure of Victor Klemperer, the former professor of French who wrote a seminal book on the Nazi misuse of language and whose diaries, when published in the 1990s, created a considerable stir in Germany and beyond. In fact, Walser delivered the eulogy when Klemperer was posthumously awarded the Geschwister-Scholl-Preis in 1995. Both the novel and the speech seem to be making the same point - that the treatment of Jews by the Nazis was an aberration.6 In the speech the Holocaust is seen to be the result of malevolent historical circumstances, not as 'a catastrophe that was fated to happen whatever the circumstances' (a 'Schicksalskatastrophe unter gar alien Umstanden').7 Whilst this claim is acceptable in principle, the much longer tradition of anti-Semitism in Germany has to be taken into account as a major contributory factor to the success of the Nazis. This anti-Semitism should be seen as being of at least equal significance as World War I and its consequences; the factors that Walser chooses to stress at this point in his speech. In the novel, it is said of the young Dorn following his insult: 'For a split-second only, he was a Nazi. Never before and never again afterwards' ('In dieser Sekunde ist er ein Nazi gewesen. Nie davor und nie mehr danach', VK, 308). Even if this claim is read as the character's rationalisation expressed in the form of style indirect Wore, it does seem significant that Walser chooses as his main figure somebody with such a view of his past. If the Klemperer incident can be seen as marginal in Die. Verteidigung der Kindheit, the Jewish theme is much more to the fore in two other recent works. One is the 1993 novel ohne einander, the first part of which is set in the offices of a news magazine. An article on Bugsy Malone is due to appear; however, the proprietor is worried that it could be construed as anti-Semitic. It falls to Ellen Kern-Krenn to write, as a balance, a piece praising the film Httlerjunge Salamo, the story of a boy who hides his Jewish identity in the Hitler Youth. Unfortunately, she begins to suffer from writer's block, not only because it has been suggested to her that the portrayal of Germans in the film is at the level of crude caricature, but also because of the delicacy of the subject. Her axiom has always been: 'When it comes to Auschwitz, there's nothing to
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discuss7 ('Uber Auschwitz kann man doch nicht diskutieren').8 Finally, the situation is resolved, but only at the price of Ellen's sexual and professional humiliation. As in Kaschmir in Parching, society's failure to consider the Nazi past in a less hysterical manner has put an individual under unbearable pressure. Whereas ohne dnander did not provoke major controversy, the opposite was the case with the 2002 work Tod tines Kritikers. In this novel it appears initially that a writer has murdered a critic who panned his latest novel during a television literary chat show. What is more, the figure of the critic is clearly based on the leading member of that profession in Germany, Marcel Reich-Ranicki, a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto. Even before the book's appearance, Walser found himself accused of anti-Semitism, even though it is not entirely clear that his critic is Jewish, and he has in fact not been murdered but rather spent the period of his disappearance with his mistress. Space does not permit a detailed discussion of this controversy.9 What is important in this context is Walser's intentions. There is one statement common to both this work and ohne einander, namely Karl Kraus's statement that philo-Semites are anti-Semites who have not yet realised their prejudice.10 What Walser is attacking is 'hysterical' German reactions to Jewish themes, the idea that in this case the murder of a Jew in Germany is seen as something different, as 'a fact of a quite different nature' ('ein Faktum ganz anderer Art', TK, 145) from such a murder in any other country. For similar reasons, but in another context, he has attacked the plans for a Holocaust memorial in Berlin as 'a nightmare of football field proportions' (a 'fufiballfeldgrofier Alptraum').11 The author is, in fact quite simply demanding a more 'normal' German-Jewish relationship. Whereas this intention cannot, of course, be classified as anti-Semitic in and of itself, it may be seen as one-sided, given the involvement of two parties in the matter. Normalisation, surely, cannot be demanded or expected unilaterally. It must fall to the Jewish side, be it individually or collectively, to offer or confirm any such normalisation. Moreover, by raising this issue, Walser could be said, at least in the short term, to be contributing to the opposite, to a lack of 'normality', as the reactions, however exaggerated, to Tod ernes Kritikers show.
FIGHTING FOR NORMALITY AGAINST THE MEDIA 'Normalisation' can be seen as a key theme throughout Walser's writing during the period in question. As is well known, he had spent the 1980s expressing his dissatisfaction about the 'abnormal' division of Germany12. Although he undoubtedly started working on it before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the novel does not include the events of 1989-90, Die Verteidigung der Kindheit, with its Berlin and Dresden settings, can be viewed as a novel of unification. It is certainly full of negative comments about conditions prior to 1989, including meticulous descriptions of the effects of division on the main character, Alfred Dorn, once he has moved to West Berlin from Dresden. A recurring motif is 'the German vice' ('das deutsche Laster'), that is, the willingness of Germans in East and West during the period of division to fulfil the wishes of the respective hegemonic power, for instance when the GDR authorities confiscate medicine sent by Alfred to his father (VK, 398). Although the bulk of the criticism is aimed at the GDR, the adoption of western models does not escape unscathed. This is illustrated by the following comment about easterners' appetite for western cinema during visits to West Berlin in the 1950s: All those people from the East, with its Marxism-Leninism, had such an avid desire for western films [...] The fact was that the hypocrisy of the eastern doctrine was not at all pleasant. The western hypocrisy, on the other hand, from which these films lived, was nicey nicey. Like a little bit too warm water. (VK, 216)13 The proclamation of normality, albeit in the form of a rhetorical question: 'But what suspicions does one create, if one says that the Germans are now a normal people, a typical society?' (EVS, 13),14 is a major element in the speech which brought Walser into one of, if not the major controversy of German cultural life in the 1990s. This was the furore following his remarks when he was awarded the 'Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels' (Peace Prize of the German Book Trade) in 1998. In particular, the then President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the late Ignatz Bubis, spoke of 'intellectual arson' ('geistige Brandstiftung'), whilst the major volume devoted to what became
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known as the 'Walser-Bubis debate' runs to almost 700 pages.15 What stoked the flames especially was Walser's proclaimed attitude to images of Auschwitz: his admission that he had frequently looked away when such images appeared on the television. Although a number of Jewish commentators were happy to agree with the thesis of normality,16 his assertion that the 'constant' invocation of Auschwitz, and what he termed its 'instrumentalisation' as 'a moral cudgel' (a 'Moralkeule', EVS, 12) by those on the left seeking to maintain their hegemony over public intellectual life in the new Germany was provocative. Equally, his apparent refusal to accept the reality of widespread sympathy for rightwing violence towards asylum seekers can be questioned.17 Nevertheless, in general terms, he is undoubtedly right when he rejects over-reaction to right-wing violence among certain intellectuals and others, who see the mentality of Nazism everywhere. In addition to intellectuals, it has been the mass media that have been particularly attacked by Walser in this context. As mentioned above, part of ohne einander is set in the offices of a newspaper magazine, the aim of which is to disseminate 'Meinung' (opinion), as its self-characterisation as 'Das Magazin der Meinung' ('The magazine of opinion') shows. 'Meinung' has become for Walser the negative term par excellence, as the following comment from the 1998 speech, in which he excoriates the media and their representatives, not least by disparaging them as 'opinion-warriors', shows: I'd like to confront our opinion-warriors with this when, with cocked moral pistol, they force the writer into the service of cheap comment. At the very least they have managed to get things to the point where writers no longer need to be read, but only interviewed. (EVS, 15)18 The media are also a major target in Tod tines Kritikers. The description of the show Sprechstunde, presided over by the 'murdered' critic, Andre Ehrl-Konig, makes it recognisable as a satirical representation of ReichRanicki's frequently controversial television show Literarisches Quartett. The print media are shown to be insatiable in their reporting of the 'murder' and their heaping of praise on the critic. This stance, along with condemnation of the 'murderer' is shown to be the 'politically
134 STUART PARKES correct' line to take. In a 1994 speech Walser had already attacked the cult of political correctness in the Federal Republic. Speaking, for instance, of reactions to his attitude to the division of Germany, he speaks of "the standardisation of political expression' ('Standadisierung des politischen Ausdrucks') and of his being labelled as 'simply wrong, or even as stupid or evil' ('inkorrekt bis dumm bis bose').19
THE IMPORTANCE OF SUBJECTIVITY The immediate question that arises from the above is how Walser can reconcile these attacks on 'opinion' and the media with his own apparent promulgation of certain standpoints, as well as with his own considerable media presence. This is an issue he seeks to address in a variety of ways. Firstly, he claims to be increasingly observing a self-denying ordinance when it comes to the expression of political opinions. In the 1994 speech quoted above, he admits to having been willing previously to express a view on too many topics. Now he restricts himself to matters on which he can have a real, practical influence. He has, he maintains, abandoned all indulgence in wishful thinking, at least in public. It goes without saying that such a claim is debatable. Not least in terms of the reliability of individual judgement, in the determination of the boundary between wishful thinking and practical contributions to the resolution of concrete problems. Secondly, he transfers the responsibility for the content of his writing from himself to the reader or listener. This idea is expressed particularly boldly in an essay from the year 2000 entitled 'Uber das Selbstgesprach. Ein flagranter Versuch' ('On talking to oneself. Essaying something flagrant'): I think that everyone who hears a speech understands it in his way. I do not wish to talk him into understanding the speech as I mean it. That is the freedom that exists between people, who do not use language to shout prescriptions to one another. How someone understands my speech or my novel, he has to take responsibility for that, not I.20 The rejection of didactic stances contained in this passage links to a third
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relevant point: the form of Walser's public utterances. This is particularly relevant in the 1998 Friedenspreis speech. This bears the title: 'Erfahrungen beim Verfassen einer Sonntagsrede' ('The experience of composing a speech for a Sunday evening TV audience'). The somewhat pejorative term 'Sonntagsrede', implies a tub-thumping speech in which opinions would be dearly expressed, or at least, not contain a self-reflective level. By speaking about his speech or expectations of his speech, however, Walser includes a meta-level of reflection, which calls into question what he feels is expected from him. He refers, for example, at the beginning of the speech to the case of Rainer Rupp, who after unification had been sentenced to twelve years imprisonment for spying for the GDR. Although this is an injustice in his eyes, using the speech unthinkingly to attack the judicial system and then going back to work on the next novel, whilst Rupp remains in jail, would be nothing less than embarrassing. Nevertheless, he does end the speech with a direct plea for an act of clemency towards Rupp, which seems to be a case of having his cake and eating it. The same can be said about his reactions to favourable receptions of his speech. Despite the passing of interpretative responsibility to the listener, he expressed satisfaction in a debate with Bubis that he had been correctly understood and that he had never before experienced such a response.21 Finally it is also worth asking how someone who seeks, as seen above, to help to resolve issues, can do so by not seeking to elicit specific responses. There is one other point that is relevant in this area: Walser's championing of individual conscience against the stereotyped responses to the Nazi past demanded by the media. This form of conscience, he maintains, is an entirely private matter for 'nothing is more alien to conscience than symbolism, however well-intentioned' ('nichts ist dem Gewissen fremder als Symbolik, wie gut sie auch gemeint sei', EVS, 14). This view lies at the basis of his rejection of the Holocaust memorial, referred to earlier. Walser's stance, it must be stressed, is anything but a denial of the fact of Auschwitz, nor is it a denial of German guilt. Nevertheless, it is problematical especially in relation to generations that follow his. Without personal experience of Nazism, these are only able to gain insights into National Socialism indirectly, through images (in the widest sense of the word) which are bound to be symbolic to a certain extent.
136 STUART PARKES Despite these doubts about the exclusive role he has attached to individual conscience in reacting to the Nazi past, it remains important to recognise the insistence on subjectivity as a major feature in Walser's work, especially in recent years. It is true that he has always concentrated on the plight of the individual, with the minute exploration of the consciousness of his protagonists being their salient feature. However, in his earlier works he was generally concerned with the perceived need of vulnerable individuals to suppress their individuality in order to advance in society - for example, the importance of the concept of mimicry in Halbzeit (1960). Although they invariably survived, these earlier protagonists invariably suffered either physically or mentally - or both - from being dependent on those occupying more powerful positions in society. The difference in the later novels is that the protagonists actively seek to preserve their individuality against hostile forces. This idea is already present in the title Die Verteidigung der Kindheit. Alfred Dorn wishes to preserve the Dresden of his childhood which was wrecked firstly by the February 1945 bombing raids, and secondly by the policies of the GDR government, which not only limit his visits there but also further destroy the beautiful old city. At one point he even thinks: 'Perhaps Dresden no longer existed' ('Vielleicht gab es Dresden gar nicht mehr', VK, 371). To fight against this state of affairs, Alfred begins to collect memorabilia relating to his and the city's past. This is one aspect of his defence of his childhood; the other is his refusal to grow up mentally. It is significant that the last event narrated before his death is a meeting of former school classmates. During this event he realises that they have changed beyond recognition. Instead of classmates, he sees only 'adults'. The final irony is that for all his collection of materials relating to the past he dies intestate. Although Alfred Dorn is in the tradition of earlier Walserian protagonists, a weak individual faced with powerful exterior forces, who ultimately fails; his active struggle, along with his creator's obvious sympathy, does represent a change of paradigm. This change is confirmed in the 1996 novel Finks Krieg. Here, the eponymous protagonist, a state-level civil servant, metaphorically takes up arms to right what he perceives to have been an injustice. This injustice is his transfer from the office he has built up, after a new
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coalition of political parties takes power. The novel describes in meticulous detail, at times perhaps over-meticulous detail, how he seeks to collect evidence to support his case. When he abandons the scene of the struggle shortly before his rehabilitation, he has 88 files full of papers. Given the way his fight for his rights takes over his life, Fink's major literary forbear is undoubtedly Kleist's Michael Kohlhaas, the man who turns into an outlaw to gain justice but destroys his case by the uncompromising means he employs. Moreover, this link is underlined by name-related allusion: whereas Kohlhaas fell foul of Wenzel von Tronka, in Fink's case the enemy is secretary of state von Tronkenburg. In contrast to Kleist, however, Walser allows his character an escape in every sense of the term. Kohlhaas is put to death, but Fink, following his departure, finds a physical and mental refuge in a convent in the Swiss mountains. In the final part of the novel, significantly called 'Hohengewinn', 'ascent', he comes to terms with what has happened. The final image of the novel is of his nodding, rather than shaking, his head. The word 'nickt' in fact appears six times in the final three lines.22 Moreover, his acquiescence in his situation is described on the previous page as a victory. If Finks Krieg was interpreted as a roman-a-clef,23with the real peopl behind the characters of the novel being identified in reviews, then Walser's next work was clearly autobiographical. Ein springender Brunnen, which appeared in 1998, recounts in the third person events from the childhood and youth of a young man (who is given Walser's other forename Johann), growing up on the shores of Lake Constance. It concentrates on three periods, the first shortly before the Nazis' 1933 takeover of power, the second, 1938 and, thirdly, the aftermath of war. What immediately attracted attention was the attempt to narrate events from the perspective of the time, without including details of the full horror of National Socialism which were not fully known to the protagonist at the time. Thus there is reference to Dachau but not to Auschwitz. Walser seeks to justify this approach at the beginning of each part of the novel with a discursive chapter introductory entitled in each case 'Vergangenheit als Gegenwart' (The past as present'). What he claims to want to combat is a view of the past which is so influenced by the present that it no longer has any distinct existence. This is made clear in the following passage from the third introductory chapter: 'It is
conceivable that the past as such is made to disappear, that it only serves to express how one currently thinks or rather is supposed to think'.24 The link through the last three words with the strictures against 'political correctness', referred to previously, is obvious. Nevertheless, Walser did face strong criticism for omitting any reference to Auschwitz, not least in the discussion of the novel on Literarisches Quartett, criticism he sought to answer in his Friedenspreis speech. Accusing his detractors of instrumentalising Auschwitz for present dubious political purposes he says of them: 'Never heard anything about the first rule of narrative story telling: perspective. And even if: Zeitgeist takes precedence over aesthetics' ('Nie etwas gehort vom Urgesetz des Erzahlens: der Perspektivitat. Aber selbst wenn, Zeitgeist geht vor Asthetik', EVS, 31).25 How far Walser is prepared to go in the defence of individual perspective - a stance that can be linked to his avowal only to contribute to political debate where he feels personally involved becomes clear towards the end of the novel. Johann meets his former fellow pupil, Wolfgang Landsmann, the product, in Nazi terms, of a mixed marriage between an Aryan and a Jew. When he hears about the sufferings of the Landsmann family, he wishes to avoid further involvement with the past, preferring an ideal of absolute freedom: 'Johann wanted never again to be subject to anything, neither to worldy power nor fear. Nobody should be in a position to demand anything of him. Most of all, he desired to be free, free like nobody had ever been free before' (SB, 402).26 Once more it is easy to see a link to non-fictional attacks on the limits to freedom exposed by 'political correctness'. Leaving aside the political dimension, on which there will be different opinions, if Walser's least favourite term can be used, it is still possible to object to his defence of his chosen narrative perspective. He admits in one of the introductory chapters: 'The past as such does not exist' ('Die Vergangenheit als solche gibt es nicht', SB, 281) and that it is wishful thinking to imagine 'a disinterested interest in the past' ('Bin interessesloses Interesse an der Vergangenheit', SB, 283). If this is true, Walser's view of the past must be as subject to present influences as that of the disparaged 'politically correct'. It is a very different kind of subjectivity, moreover one that has little if anything to do with history or politics, which is at the centre of the 2001
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novel Der Lebenslauf der Liebe. Susi Gern longs to be loved and to love exclusively. Unfortunately, her husband Edmund not only strays endlessly from the path of marital fidelity, but would also like to involve her in group sex, something that would be totally repugnant to her. What is more, she also has to cope with Edmund's financial incompetence which turns riches into something approaching rags, not to mention a ne'er-do-well son and a mentally handicapped daughter, who causes no end of embarrassments. Her desire for love leads her to seek other sexual partners, some of whom treat her abominably, for example, Klaus who answers one of her contact advertisements in the Rheinische Post. In the end, however, she is allowed to find what appears to be lasting happiness. After the death of Edmund she marries the much younger Khalil, a devout Muslim with a North African background. The novel ends with Susi waiting for the return of her husband on the eve of the new millennium. He duly returns as the bells ring out, wearing, as she had fervently been hoping, his wedding ring. Even Conny, the handicapped daughter, is made part of the celebration. The ritual phrases repeated throughout the novel, Susi saying 'Ich liebe dich so' and Conny replying IJnd ich erst dich' now become Conny saying 'Ich liebe euch beide' and Susi and Khalil replying: 'Und wir erst dich'.27 This may be close to sentimentality but at the same time it flies in the face of a conventional happy ending to a love story. An older, somewhat impoverished woman, with a burdensome appendage, has found love with a much younger man, and a man who bears little resemblance to the clean-cut hero of the tales found in magazines and pulp fiction.
THE IDEAL OF LANGUAGE If one further, over-arching motif in Walser's writing over recent years is to be singled out, then it should be the importance of language. Here the term is not used in connection with Walser's own literary style, although it should be noted in passing that he has retained his mastery of language, visible not least in his use of indirect speech and the subjunctive forms resulting from it. What has concerned him over the last decade or so has been the ideal of a personal language uninhibited by imposed terminology. Ein springender Brunnen contains various
140 STUART PARKES reflections on language, with Johann concluding at the end of the novel that he has been subject to two 'foreign languages': that of the Church and that of National Socialism. It is now time to find his own language, the precondition for which is the freedom from external influences he wishes to assert. The novel closes with a forward glance to a writing career in which language would be given an almost autonomous existence: When he begins writing, what he would like to write should already be on the paper. What would have come onto the paper through language, that is to say by itself, would only have to be read by him. Language, Johann thought, is a gushing fountain. (SB, 405)28 Once again, the link with the strictures against restrictive 'politically correct' language leaps to mind. The issue of language also arises right at the beginning of Tod eines Kritikers. The person initially presented as the narrator of the events, Michael Landolf - who in the end turns out to be none other than the man accused of the critic's murder, Hans Lach - speaks of his research into how the personal tone entered the German language, a development which he associates initially with the mystics of the fourteenth century. This reference to the personal tone of language clearly acts as a point of contrast with the language of the media that is attacked throughout the novel. It is also significant that Lach, once accused of murder, refuses to speak and thereby enter into the expected linguistic conventions of his situation by making a show of his guilt or innocence. Towards the end of the novel, with the truth of the non-murder revealed, Lach goes to the Canaries and begins to discover Spanish literature, including the poetry of Lorca, which is 'as beautiful [...] as the earth must have been before people existed' ('so schon [...] wie die Erde gewesen sein mufi, bevor es Menschen gab'. TK, 190). There is a link here with recent essays on language, in which the ideal of language as almost self-contained perfection is posited, a perfection that is lost when it is exploited. The 1999 essay 'Sprache, sonst nichts' ('Language, nothing else') contains the following expression of this ideal: 'In language more than what you currently manage to bring out of it is
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always possible [...] It loves being grasped as little as dreams do. And it becomes toneless and rigid, if you think you might convey something you already know through it'.29 In a more recent essay however, Walser does recognise limits to language, specifically the impossibility of pure expression: 'Pure expression is only possible for music, because in language what is said never fully dissolves. The content as such always remains [...] Unfortunately'.30
CONCLUSION: A WRITER REBORN However one reacts to this idealisation of language, the kind of reflection it represents is clearly light years away from anything one would associate with the fun culture referred to at the beginning of this chapter. And what, in essence, differentiates him from the other phenomenon referred to - black pessimism occasioned by the memory of the past - may be easily summed up: his pleasure over German unification and events succeeding it. This is one of the major differences in two radio debates that took place in the 1990s between him and Giinter Grass, who, while welcoming unification as such, is much more critical about the process and its consequences.31 It is possible to share much of Walser's optimism. The Federal Republic in its extended form continues to be a stable democracy. Right-wing political extremism, just as it did before 1989, only manifests itself in electoral terms as a fleeting phenomenon between Federal Elections. Equally, writing shortly after Silvio Berlusconi's shameful outburst in the European Parliament in July 2003 (when he suggested that the German MEP Martin Schulz should play the part of a concentration camp guard in a film), one can feel some sympathy with Walser's warnings about the instrumentalisation of Auschwitz, made in the Friedenspreis speech, although it remains difficult to establish a clear boundary between this phenomenon and legitimate reference to the past This is not to say that his recent political stances are beyond criticism, as seen above. Nor do his claims to have moved away from politics seem entirely convincing. If, however, we only consider Walser's fiction over the period since unification, then there are significant reasons to be positive. An author,
whose work was in danger of becoming repetitive, and who was restricting himself largely to showing the trials and tribulations of lower-middle class men from the Lake Constance region, has produced works with a stunning variety of protagonists and a much wider range of settings. If a point of comparison were to be sought, then it could well be Proust, an author who has always been a major influence.32 The second part of Walser's much earlier Kristlein trilogy Das Einhom (1966), for instance, has to be seen in part as a rejection of Proust's ideal of the possibility of the writer being able to retrieve past time through the work of art. Whilst he continues to be sceptical about the French author's thesis, both Die Verteidigung der Kindheit and Bin springender Brunnen are dominated by the theme of the preservation of private memory. Moreover, in as far as his major concern is the exploration of the individual consciousnesses of his protagonists, Walser clearly is part of the same modernist tradition to which Proust belongs. Insofar as it invokes this tradition, I would suggest not only that his work seems far removed from pop literature, a phenomenon that appears likely to be short-lived,33 but also that, to use a currently fashionable term, he is closer to 'world literature' than some of his younger successors.
Notes 1 Johannes Ulbnaier, Von Acid nach Adlon und zuriick (Mainz: Ventil, 2001), p. 12. 2 The two interviews are: Top-Literatur ist der Tendenz nach immer das was Martin Walser nicht ist', titel-magazin, www.titel-magazin.de/ullmaier.htm (consulted 30.05.03) and 'Ich bin froh, wenn keiner auf die Idee kommt, meine LJteratur hatte was mit Martin Walser oder solchen Leuten zu tun', Das Hanebiichlein, wwwJtanebuechlein.de/interviews/interview-doblerJhtm (consulted 30.05.03). 3 Ulrich Raulff, 'Das Dorf soil schoner werden', Suddeutsche Zeitung (05.07.03), www.sueddeutsche.de/sz/literatur/red-artikel5747/ (consulted 09.07.03). 'Und als in den Neunzigern die Politik wiederkehrte, wandten sich die Deutschen unlustig von ihr ab und erfanden eine Mischung aus quietschbunter SpaS- und tiefschwarzer Gedachtnis- und Schuldkultur'. 4 Martin Walser, Kaschmir in Parching in Martin Walser, Deutsche Sorgen (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1997), 487-564, p. 533. 5 Martin Walser, Die Verteidigung der Kindheit (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1991), p. 308. Hereafter VK. 6 See Stuart Taberner, '"Wie schon ware Deutschland, wenn man sich noch als Deutscher fuhlen und mit Stolz als Deutscher fuhlen konnte": Martin Walser's Reception of Victor Klemperer's Tagebiicher 1933-1945 in Dos Prinzip Genauigkeit and Die Verteidigung der Kindheif, Deutsche Viertdjahrsschrft, 73 (1999), 710-32.
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7 Martin Walser, 'Das Prinzip Genauigkeit' in Martin Walser, Deutsche Sorgen, op. tit., 565-92, p. 581. 8 Martin Walser, ohne einander (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1993), p. 69. See Stuart Taberner, 'The Final Taboo? Martin Walser's Critique of Philosemitism in ohne einander', Seminar 37:2 (2001), 154-66. Hereafter OE. 9 See Stuart Parkes, "The (Un)dead Critic: Tod eines Kritikers - Text and Content' in Stuart Parkes and Fritz Wefelmeyer (eds.), Martin Walser in Context (Amsterdam: Rodopi, forthcoming). See also Bill Niven, 'Martin Walser's Tod eines Kritikers and the Issue of Anti-Semitism', German Life and Letters (2003), 56:3 (2003), 299-311. 10 In ohne einander, p. 59, Wolf Koltzsch, the colleague who sexually exploits Ellen's problems with the required article says: 'Philosemiten sind, ich glaube, nach Kraus, Antisemiten, die noch nicht wissen, da6 sie welche sind/ (Philo-Semites are, I think, according to Kraus, anti-Semites, who do not yet know that they are such.), whilst in Tod eines Kritikers, the writer Wolfgang Leder, who at this point seems to be Walser's mouthpiece, is reported as writing 'Philosemiten seien eben, wie bekannt, Antisemiten, die die Juden liebten.' (Philo-Semites were, as everyone knows, anti-Semites, who loved Jews). Martin Walser, Tod eines Kritikers (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2002), p. 144. Hereafter TK. 11 Martin Walser, Tsrfahrungen beim Verfassen einer Sonntagsrede' in Frank Schirrmacher (ed.), Die Walser-Bubis-Debatte (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1999), 7-17, p. 13. Hereafter EVS. 12 Walser's essays on this subject are included in the volume Deutsche Sorgen. The 1988 piece 'Ober Deutschland reden' (Deutsche Sorgen, op. cit., 406-27) can be taken as typical. 13 'Die aus Marxismus-Leninismus kommenden Ost-Menschen waren auf die West-Filme so gierig [...] Die Verlogenheit der Ost-Lehre war eben kein bifichen angenehm. Die West-Verlogenheit, von der diese Filme lebten, war angenehm angenehm. Wie etwas zu warmes Wasser'. 14 'Aber in welchen Verdacht gerat man, wenn man sagt, die Deutschen seien jetzt ein normales Volk, eine gewohnliche Gesellschaft?'. 15 Frank Schirrmacher (ed.), Die Walser-Bubis-Debatte, op. cit. Bubis's comments are reported on p. 34. See Kathrin Schodel, 'Normalising Cultural Memory? The "Walser-BubisDebate" and Martin Walser's Novel Ein springender Brunnen' in Stuart Taberner and Frank Finlay (eds.), Recasting German Identity (Rochester: Camden House, 2002), 69-87. 16 See, for example, Saul Friedlander, TJKe Metapher des Bosen. Uber Martin Walsers Friedenspreis-Rede und die Aufgabe der Erinnerung'. In: Frank Schirrmacher (ed.), Die Walser-Bubis-Debatte, op. cit., 233-40, p. 237. 17 In the 1998 speech he says of reports of the local people's delight, when a hostel for asylum seekers in Rostock was fire-bombed: Ich kann diese Schmerz erzeugenden Satze, die ich weder unterstiizen noch bestreiten kann, einfach nicht glauben'. (EVS, 11). ('I simply cannot believe these reports, which cause such pain, nor can I support or deny themO18 'Das mochte man den Meinungssoldaten entgegenhalten, wenn sie, mit vorgehaltener Moralpistole, den Schriftsteller in den Meinungsdienst notigen. Sie haben es immerhin so weit gebracht, dafi Schriftsteller nicht mehr gelesen werden mussen, sondern nur noch interviewt'. 19 Martin Walser, 'Uber freie und unfreie Rede' in Martin Walser Deutsche Sorgen, op. cit., 468-86, p. 484. 20 Martin Walser, 'Uber das Selbstgesprach. Ein flagranter Versuch' in Martin Walser, Ich vertraue. Querfeldein (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2000), 125-50, p. 139. Ich glaube, jeder, der einer Rede zuhort, versteht sie auf seine Weise. Ich will ihn nicht dazu uberreden, die Rede so zu verstehen, wie ich sie meine. Das ist die Freiheit zwischen
144 STUART PARKES Menschen, die die Sprache nicht dazu benutzen, einander Rezepte zuzurufen. Wie einer meine Rede oder meinen Roman versteht, das hat er zu verantworten, nicht ich'. 21 Frank Schirrmacher (ed.), Die Walser-Bubis-Debatte, op. cit., p. 455. 22 Martin Walser, Finks Krieg (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1996), p. 310. 23 See, for example the reviews in Franz Josef Gortz et al. (eds.), Deutsche Literatur 1996 (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1997), 246-53. 24
Martin Walser, Ein springender Brunnen (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1998), p. 282. Hereafter SB. 'Es ist vorstellbar, dafi die Vergangenheit iiberhaupt zum Verschwinden gebracht wird, dafi sie nur noch dazu dient, auszudriicken, wie einem jetzt zumute ist, beziehungsweise zumute sein soil'.
25 See Stuart Taberner, 'A Manifesto For Germany's "New Right"? - Martin Walser, The Past, Transcendence, Aesthetics, and Ein Springender Brunnen', German Life and Letters, 53:1 (2000), 126-41. 26
'Johann wollte nie mehr unterworfen sein, weder einer Macht noch einer Angst. Niemand sollte einen Anspruch an ihn haben. Am liebsten ware er so frei gewesen, wie noch nie jemand gewesen war'.
27 Martin Walser, Der Lebenslauf der Liebe (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2001). The original dialogue (p. 81) translates as 'I love you so' and 'And I you truly' and the new version (p. 525) as 'I love you both' and 'And we you truly'. See Stuart Taberner, "The Triumph of Subjectivity: Martin Walser's Novels of the 1990s and his Der Lebenslauf der Liebe (2001)' in Stuart Parkes and Fritz Wefelmeyer (eds.), Martin Walser in Context, op. cit., 429-46. 28 'Wenn er anfangt zu schreiben, soil schon auf dem Papiere stehen, was er schreiben mochte. Was durch die Sprache, also von selbst aufs Papier gekommen ware, miisste von ihm nur noch gelesen werden. Die Sprache, dachte Johann, ist ein springenden Brunnen'. 29 Martin Walser, 'Sprache, sonst nichts' in Martin Walser, Ich vertraue ... op.cit, 151-63, p. 158. 'In der Sprache ist immer mehr moglich als du aus ihr gerade jetzt hervorbringst [...] Sie liebt den Zugriff so wenig wie der Traum. Und sie wird tonlos und starr, wenn du glaubst, du konntest durch sie etwas mitteilen, was du schon weifit'. 30 Martin Walser, 'Von der Richtigkeit der weiblichen Untreue', Suddeutsche Zeitung (05.07.03), www.sueddeutsche.de/sz/literatur/red-artikel6135/ 5 (consulted 09.07.03). 'Der reine Ausdruck ist nur der Musik moglich, weil in der Sprache das Gesagte nie ganz aufgeht. Der Inhalt bleibt immer noch als solcher bestehen [...] Leider'. 31 Both these radio conversations, Ein Gesprach iiber Deutschland and Zweites Gesprach tiber Deutschland, which took place in 1994 and 1999, are available as cassettes through Edition Isele (Eggingen), published in 1995 and 1999 respectively. 32 Walser's seminal essay on Proust 'Leseerfahrungen mit Marcel Proust' ('Reading Experiences with Marcel Proust) dates from as early as 1958. It is collected in the volume: Martin Walser, Erfahrungen und Leseerfahrungen (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1965), 124r42. 33 At the time of writing, it is fashionable to pronounce the end of pop literature. This is noted in an article in the 21 July 2003 edition of die tageszeitung (www.taz.de/pt/2003/07/21a0189jif/text) (consulted same day). Apparently one reason being given for this decline is the interest it is arousing at universities. Readers of this volume will be glad to hear that this view is dismissed as prejudice.
Denouncing globalisation: Ingo Schramm's Pitchers Blau Helmut Schmitz
GLOBALISATION THEORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY This chapter puts forward the proposition that Ingo Schramm's unification novel, Pitchers Blau (1996), contains a critique of globalisation. This argument hinges on the thesis that globalisation theory, or at any rate a variant of it, is a belated heir to a Hegelian type of philosophy of history best exemplified by Francis Fukuyama's "The End of History7 in 1989. The doctrine of globalisation, the idea of a globally integrated liberal market economy, is 'the concept by which we understand the transition of human society into the third millennium'.1 In the aftermath of 11 September 2001, however, this appears to have given way to a situation that accords more closely with Samuel Huntington's notion of a Clash of Civilisations than with the peaceful global extension of the capitalist market economy envisaged by Fukuyama and others.2 Philosophy of history was en vogue around 1989. Francis Fukuyama declared the 'end of history', describing the implosion of the Eastern Bloc as the 'total exhaustion of credible alternatives to Western Liberalism' and as the 'triumph of the Western idea'.3 According to Fukuyama's Hegelian vision, the history of mankind ended with the universalisation of liberal democracy. The universalisation of liberal democracy is further linked with the concept of private property and the consumer economy, an economy that would supply 'VCRs for all'.4 In his subsequent book The End of History and the Last Man (1992), Fukuyama argued that 'liberal democracy may constitute the end point of mankind's ideological evolution'.5 By this he means that while other
forms of government are characterised by grave defects that lead to their collapse, 'liberal democracy' is 'arguably free from such fundamental internal contradictions'.6 The 'end of history', for Fukuyama, does not mean the end of historical events as such, but rather the end of philosophy of history, 'history understood as a single coherent evolutionary process'.7 Fukuyama's book raises 'once again the question of whether there is such a thing as a universal history of mankind',8 a question he answers in the affirmative. Fukuyama thus confirms the Hegelian idea of the 'reasonable' trajectory of history by positing its fulfilment in the globalisation, if not of the reality, then of the idea of liberal democracy. It is not the purpose of this chapter to expose Fukuyama's fundamental argumentative flaws.9 Rather, I wish to show that there is an ideological overlap between Fukuyama's language and concepts and a certain brand of globalisation theory. Subsequently, I set these against Schramm's critique of such concepts of globalisation in Pitchers Blau. Fukuyama's language is marked by a combination of concepts of univeralism and totality with determinist ideas of progress - this ultimately leads to a form of secularised redemption under the sign of the commodity. He identifies two interdependent moments in history and modernity in particular that produce uniformity and universalism. The first is technology in the form of military progress and natural science. Military technological progress is the result of states', 'need for defensive modernisation' while technology makes possible, 'the limitless accumulation of wealth, and thus the satisfaction of an everexpanding set of human desires'.10 The development of modern natural science is deployed by Fukuyama as 'a regulator or mechanism to explain the directionality and coherence of history' because it 'has had a uniform effect on all societies that have experienced it'.11 Modern natural science 'guides us to the gates of the Promised Land of liberal democracy'.12 However, economic determinism alone cannot account for civil liberty. The second principle of Fukuyama's philosophy of history is the individual's struggle for recognition as a motor of history's development, based on Hegel's master-slave dialectic. Just as Hegel saw the contradiction between subject and object ultimately suspended, aufgehoben, in the (Prussian) state in the image of the citizen, Fukuyama agues that it is liberal democracy that solves the problem of
DENOUNCING GLOBALISATION: INGO SCHRAMM'S PITCHERS BLAU
recognition in the image of the consumer. To ascertain whether the contradictions between subject and object, freedom and necessity, desire for autonomy and obligation have been overcome in capitalist liberal democracy, Fukuyama proposes that the real test would be 'whether life 13 there is truly satisfying'.13 Besides being unable to account for existing inequalities in capitalism other than declaring them either 'natural' or in the interest of individual liberty, Fukuyama's philosophy of history is thus based upon a universalised, Western idea of subject autonomy - not so much an Enlightenment homo economicus as a postmodern homo consumerus.u It is these universalist categories, together with a teleological view of history and an image of man as universal consumer, that connect Fukuyama to a particular brand of globalisation theory. Starting with his reading of Anthony Giddens and Roland Robertson, Malcolm Waters defines globalisation as the 'compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness as a whole',15 and the 'intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa'.16 The connection to philosophy of history as a teleological historical process emerges with Waters' assertion that 'globalisation has been in process since the dawn of history'.17 The end product envisaged would be a 'globalised world' with 'a single society and culture occupying the planet' which 'might conceivably be [...] harmoniously integrated'.18 Globalisation is for Waters what liberal democracy is for Fukuyama: the realisation of the Hegelian world spirit - even if Waters does not put it in emphatically philosophical terms. Waters distinguishes three types of exchange that organise social relations corresponding to the three areas of economy, politics and culture: material exchanges (trade, labour, capital accumulation); power exchanges (party membership, elections, exercise of leadership etc.), and symbolic exchanges by 'means of oral communication, publication, performance, teaching' and so on.19 While material and power exchanges are tied to geographical realities, only symbolic exchanges 'release social arrangements from spatial referents'. The foundational theorem of Waters' globalisation theory runs thus: 'material exchanges localise; political exchanges internationalise; and symbolic exchanges globalise'.™ Thus for Waters, in the age of globalisation,
148 HELMUT SCHMTTZ symbolic exchanges have overtaken material and political exchanges, and the arena of culture has outflanked the economy and the polity: 'We can expect the economy and the polity to be globalised to the extent that they are culturalised, that is, to the extent that the exchanges that take place within them are accomplished symbolically'.21 Waters explicitly stresses the origin of the concept of globalisation in European thought and history. However, Waters' own theoretical base is deeply affected by an unreflected cultural heritage. His concept of the symbol and symbolic exchange is not only Western in its assumption of universal appeal, it also de-historicises a specific form of social exchange and transforms it into a natural, universalist image of 'man', thus disregarding the cultural specificity of symbolic exchanges: 'because symbols frequently seek to appeal to human fundamentals they can often claim universal significance'.22 Waters works with an essentially reductionist model of culture that has already been commercialised and instrumentalised, one in which the medium has become the message and which therefore cannot distinguish between cultural forms and their contents.23 It is at this stage that globalisation theory exposes its aporetical status: as Justin Rosenberg has pointed out, its theoretical centre is essentially tautological, noting as outcome what is really its own process: 'Globalisation as outcome cannot be explained simply by invoking globalisation as a process tending towards that outcome'.24 In other words, globalisation is both its own form and its own content. Globalisation theory, like Fukuyama's 'end of history' is a legitimatory narrative for capitalism in its global stage.25 The economic vision of globalisation produces, 'a picture of standardisation on an unparalleled new scale; of forced integration as well, into a world system from which "delinking" is henceforth impossible and even unthinkable and inconceivable' ,26 The ideological precepts of Fukuyama's thesis and, by extension, globalisation theory, are denounced in Ingo Schramm's Pitchers Blau (1996) as inherently totalitarian in their universalist aspirations. Pitchers Blau thus presents not only a critique of existing political and economic processes, but also a questioning of the underlying Western ideological concepts by which these processes come to be reflected and narrated. The novel sets out to dismantle the idea of the historical
DENOUNCING GLOBALISATION: INGO SCHRAMM'S PITCHERS BLAU
significance of German unification. At the same time, however, within its post-unification plot,27 Schramm's text implicitly and explicitly probes the reality of globalisation, including the global domination of capital and culture and the Utopian horizons of Western science and philosophy.
GERMAN UNIFICATION AND THE RETURN TO HISTORY While Fukuyama's belief in the saving graces of liberal economy has a parallel in Helmut Kohl's promise of 'flowering landscapes' for the GDR, West German intellectuals interpreted the fall of the Berlin Wall as a 'return to history' rather than its end. From Klaus Hartung who saw the events of 1989 as an, 'unprecedented cold wind rushing through the acclimatised spaces of post-histoire'/* to the short-lived 'New Right' who celebrated the dawning of a new epoch of German geopolitics,29 the return of the concept of German nationhood and the ensuing debates around the identity of the new Germany are events that seem to be at odds with the idea of post-histoire. The idea of a return to history finds its most acute literary expression in Hanns-Josef Ortheil's Abschied von den Kriegsteilnehmern (1992) and Blauer Weg (1996), two texts that interpret German unification as an opening of the hitherto untrangressable barrier of National Socialism and as the end of the discourse of Vergangenheitsbeivaltigung.30 While Ortheil's historical optimism is based upon a reading of the fall of the Wall as a radical rupture and a subsequent historical redefinition, Ingo Schamm's Pitchers Blau categorically rejects this rupture, or rather, its relevance. Pitchers Blau denies the existence of 'history' as a meaningful linear progression of time altogether. What remains is a 'Geschichtsliige', a historical lie.31 This is not the purposeful falsification of an otherwise authentic truth, but the fallacy that there is any history at all. Events in human history yield no meaning: they simply pile up, one upon the other - ttistory is white. Newton is right and not Goethe. Overlaying of all spectral colours additive' ('Die Geschichte ist weiss. Newton hat Recht bekommen und nicht Goethe. Uberlagerung aller Spektraltone additiv', FB, 397). Thus history is 'material from which crossword puzzles are made. Piece work. Patchwork. Historical lie'
150 HELMUT SCHMTTZ ('Staff aus dem Kreuzwortratsel gebaut warden. Stiickwerk. Flickenteppich. Geschichtsliige', FB, 398). In contrast to any historical optimism in the post-unification era based on a reading of history as interruption, Pitchers Blau stresses the continuum of institutional and inter-subjective violence.
PITCHERS BLAU AS A CRITIQUE OF HISTORY Pitchers Blau is a heterogeneous textual monstrum that defies categorisation and systematic meaning. Schramm plays with, and quotes from, a plethora of radical modernist forms of narrative: Joyce, Carlo Emilio Gadda, Arno Schmidt and Wolfgang Hilbig are named reverentially in the text and attain the character of models (FB, 84). Interior monologue, chains of association and digressions by the omniscient narrator alternate, while the always localisable action via names of streets and places points to the magnum opus of German modernism, Alfred D6blin7s Berlin Alexanderplatz. Doblin's novel refers to the central square only a stone's throw away from the action of Pitchers Blau, which is centred mainly on Prenzlauer Berg. Besides references to the national and international politics of the day, the text constructs an almost impenetrable web of references to European literature, myth, history and philosophy from Hegel to Luhmann, including recent scientific theories. None of this adds up to a coherent whole, but while Pitchers Blau might look like the work of a literary debutant parading his erudition, there is a method to the heterogeneity of the narrative. The novel's title is itself an intertextual reference, on the one hand, to Grimm's fairy tale, Pitchers Vogel, and, on the other hand, to Heinrich von Ofterdingen's blue flower of poetry, the motif of German Romanticism that is discredited in the concentration camps: The word "blue" is being destroyed, too. By acid. The most beautiful word, "blue". Hear it one more time. Before it is gassed' ('Auch das Wort "Blau" wird zerstort Von einer Sa'ure. Das schonste Wort; "Blau". Hort es euch noch einmal an. Bevor es vergast ist!', FB, 303). The reference is to the German vernacular for cyanide, 'Blausa'ure'. 'Blausaure' is also the trade name of Zyklon B or hydro-cyanic acid (HCN) which was used in the Nazi gas chambers. Grimm's fairy tale is a version of the
DENOUNCING GLOBALISATION: INGO SCHRAMM'S PITCHERS BLAU
Bluebeard tale, where a magician butchers abducted girls who do not obey his order not to open a door in the house; the girls are dismembered and kept in a bloody tub. Schramm turns Grimm's gruesome tale into an allegory of European history in general, and German history in particular. In Schramm's modernised version of the story, Grimm's bluebeard figure Fitze Pitcher turns into a modern scientist who places the abducted women into a labyrinth in order to calculate human behaviour: Finally the women opened the door. Pitcher noted the time, entered the accumulated data into graphs, determined probability rates, attempted prognosis, but failed time and again. The human element resisted his calculation. (FB, 24T)32 The women then fall into the bloody 'receptacle of history' (FB, 247). This fable constitutes the subtext of the novel. Pitchers Blau is a rejection of the history of philosophy and science of European Enlightenment. Indeed, it is one that owes much to Adorno's and Horkheimer's reading of the Enlightenment as a discourse of domination and control of nature and humans. In the Dialectic of Enlightenment, Horkheimer and Adorno criticise instrumental reason, the form of knowledge by which Enlightenment rationality functions, as a form of knowledge that intends to understand nature in order to dominate it. Instead of liberating man from the dominance by irrational nature, Enlightenment itself is obsessed by domination. For instrumental reason 'power and knowledge are synonymous'.33 Instrumental reason is systematic and technological, 'its ideal is the system from which all and everything follows'.34 As a result, 'Enlightenment is as totalitarian as any system'.35 Philosophy which, after Hegel, is concerned with the realisation of theory in praxis,36 is criticised in Pitchers Blau as an obsession with the systematic planning of happiness. This includes the thoughts of Marx and Engels: for Schramm, their conception of the working class as the force which suspends class antagonism in favour of a fully human society inherits the Judaeo-Christian promise of redemption in secular form.37 Together with Martin Luther, Marx and Engels are thus described as forerunners of a puritanical socialism, with a transcendental, almost
religious fervour (FB, 265). Other theoretical explanatory models such as Freudian psychology or Niklas Luhmann's systems theory are similarly denounced as helpless constructions in the face of meaningless and incomprehensible life through a juxtaposition in which these models cancel each other out. Only poetic production can survive when faced with the abundance of life. All meaning is product: 'Topography is a poetical art, too, because reality is produced' ('Auch Topographie ist eine poetische Kunst, derm die Wirklichkeit wird gemacht', FB, 9). Yet even this does not produce anything meaningful: life is fundamentally tautological and any construction of meaning is a form of usurpation: 'Life has no need for opinions, it always means itself' ('das Leben bedarf keiner Meinung, es meint immer sich selbst', FB, 124). This existential tautology allows for no history, just meaningless, directionless nature (FB, 15). Pitchers Blau biologises human existence, the characters are driven by unconscious natural forces, interested only in their own advantage, determined by drives they cannot command. Schramm presents all human existence as essentially pointless and circular, in sharp contrast to any historical or philosophical narrative of human destiny as teleology. The narrative thus focuses on bodily fluids: drinking, passing water and the product of sexual activity: 'Masturbation is a way of life, nature does nothing else. Karl, a product of discharge, himself discharges his own fluids' ('Onanie ist ein Lebensinhalt, die Natur tut nichts anderes, Karl, ein Ausscheidungsprodukt, scheidet aus in das Klo', FB, 104). 'History' as a teleological process of progress, historiography and philosophy is thus subverted by the text and exposed as an effort to construct systems of meaning for the purpose of dominating an otherwise meaningless nature. As such, the heterogeneity of Schramm's prose, its incommensurability, can be read as an attempt to undermine such meaning-constructing systems with a narrative that emphasises chaos. The novel's rejection of historiography as the imposition of a linear structure onto what are in fact non-linear processes is accompanied by a critique of all Utopian thought systems as an attempt to bring about the end of history.
DENOUNCING GLOBALISATION: INGO SCHRAMM'S PITCHERS BLAU
PITCHERS BLAU AS A CRITIQUE OF SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY Pitchers Blau tells the story of the siblings Karl and Janni, fathered by Josef - who embodies the Stalinist folly of total control - in one night with two different women, one a German, the other the daughter of an Azerbaijani soldier in the Soviet army. The siblings, who do not know one another (Janni escapes to West Berlin in 1987), meet for the first time in November 1990. Josef, who considers himself to be the executor of the Hegelian world spirit, hopes to realise the reconciliation of subject and object through his children Karl and Janni. Hence he sets himself against the 'stubbornness of the human brain' ('Widerspenstigkeit des menschlichen Hirns', FB, 323), the human unpredictability which resists the drive of the world spirit towards uniformity and unity. Karl and Janni's first meeting is supposed to bring about the end of history, the overcoming of the contradiction between subjectivity and objectivity. Through Josef Schramm criticises a tendency to think in categories of identity and to expel and destroy everything that cannot be subsumed under such categories. In Pitchers Blau, then, Josef appears as pathologically hostile to the meaningless plurality of life: 'He called the identical healthy [...] What was different dropped out of this world as a germ of unrest and decay of the status quo' ('Das Identische hiefi ihm gesund [...] Was sich unterschied, das fiel aus der Welt als Keim von Unruhe und Zerfall des Bestehenden', FB, 327). This condemnation of all Utopian designs and philosophical and scientific systems of European culture through the suggestion of their common basic fantasy of control dehistoririses all explanatory systems: 'Earlier times had referred to it as "Atlantis" or "Eden" or "Thousand Year Reich". Today it was called "Communism"' ('Fruhere Zeiten nannten es "Atlantis" oder "Eden" oder "Tausendjahriges Reich". Heute hiefi es "der Kommunismus"', FB, 342). Although it might seem as if Schramm is working with theories of totalitarianism that came back into fashion after 1989, comparing National Socialism with the GDR, Pitchers Blau in fact extends the critique of the principle violence inherent in totalitarian systems onto the entire Western world. Janni, a student of mathematics and sociology in West Berlin, wants to combine mathematics and systems theory in order to develop a
science that overcomes the division between theory and practice and so make human happiness calculable and achievable: 'I am thinking about the improvement of society, and want to develop methods to achieve these improvements instead of just analysing' ('Ich iiberlege fur Verbesserung der Gesellschaft, will Methoden, diese Verbesserungen zu erreichen. Anstatt nur zu analysieren', FB, 214). The story of Karl and Janni reaches its apotheosis in their participation in the riots around the occupied houses in the Mainzer Strafie which terminated Walter Momper's Red-Green senate in November 1990. The novel interprets Karl and Janni's participation in the confrontation between police and squatters as a continuation of the principle of violence that determined their lives, and presents both parties as engaged in a struggle for the realisation of a different social Utopia. In the battle with Berlin police forces, Janni gradually reveals herself as her father's daughter, regarding her fight against the police as practical test of her theory and calling for a final overcoming of all historical and philosophical contradictions (FB, 413). Simultaneously, the forces of order are represented by Schramm as embodiments of Fukuyama's thesis of the end of history in the name of global consumption. However, in contrast to Fukuyama's peaceful vision, the consumptive happiness of all has to be enforced against conflicting visions of Utopia: At stake is the final removal of dreamers and chaotics. At stake is the stamping out of all obstacles to consumption. At stake is the great levelling of life. In all areas. In all regions of the world. The eternalisation of the dominant world order. The ending of history.38 Both squatters and the representatives of the forces of order appear as the combating inheritors of Utopias - socialist and capitalist - that are denounced as inherently totalitarian due to their implicit desire to overcome the contradictions of human existence. The description of the violent clash between police and squatters is interspersed with excerpts from the military history of human civilisation, from ancient Egypt to World War II, as the only constant of .human history. This constant, according to Pitchers Blau, is imperialism and war without boundaries or limits (FB, 430). It is also in accordance with Adorno's
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conviction that universal history is 'the narrative that leads from the slingshot to the megaton bomb'.39 Pitchers Blau thus engages Fukuyama's two principles of progress military technology and modern science - in a deconstruction. This deconstruction exposes Fukuyama's engines of reasonable progress towards human happiness, on the one hand, as a continuous history of imperialism, and on the other, as ideological narrative to justify this imperialism. By analogy, globalisation, the totalisation of Western capitalism is criticised as a commodification of inter-subjective relations. Pitchers Blau describes both socialist Utopia and capitalist consumer culture as two sides of the same coin. The dismissal of European thought is not juxtaposed with any idea of a Utopia of a 'Third Way' since this is already part of the problem. Life in the West is no less deformed than in the East. By paralleling sex, commercialisation and myth, Schramm projects the image of a totally commodified, alienated reproductive drive: The pony of the commercial God had already grown into a horse, besieging Katrin's sexual Troy, with her fingers she felt the trembling veins, [...] pulsating like modern economy. [...] (A child, it rang through Charles' brain; a child - does this cost money?)' (FB, 60-1).40 Pitchers Blau is a critique and a dismissal of the entirety of European modernity and its political Utopias as a secularisation of the JudaeoChristian promise of redemption. An aspect of this promise of redemption survives in commodified form in Fukuyama's capitalist vision of a world that can provide 'VCRs for all'. Schramm is at pains to expose all 'scientific' statements about history and politics as deeply ideological. In the denunciation of natural science as ideological homogenisation of heterogeneous nature for the purpose of domination, Schramm criticises a political philosophy that tries to establish itself as liard' science by basing itself on natural science's preconceptions of objectivity. Pitchers Blau does not so much reject the idea of an 'end of history' as be at pains to expose it as a legitimatory narrative for global capitalism's inherently violent process of colonialisation. The Utopian resolution of the relationship between subject and
object is caricatured by the novel's ironic engagement with its prime intertext, Alfred Doblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz. Besides the obvious parallels in literary technique (montage principle, incorporation of scientific, biological and philosophical concepts together with the debris of contemporary life, the narrator's ironic attitude to his protagonist), Pitchers Blau turns Doblin's narrative programme on its head. In Doblin's modernist novel, the hero, Franz Biberkopf, pitches his subjectivity against the city of Berlin. Biberkopf, who desires to keep his modern subjectivity intact against the mega-subject of the city, is continuously defeated until he is purified during a catatonic stupor in a mental asylum and learns to realign himself with the flow of life. Doblin's novel is a deconstruction of the modern centred subject that confronts the heterogeneous city of Berlin as an object to be conquered and that is subsequently destroyed. The plurality of Doblin's style in Berlin Alexanderplatz attempts to grasp the chaotic heterogeneity of modern life, and yet reveal its underlying order. Doblin sees the human element as embedded in natural processes and thus nature is ultimately meaningful. Biberkopf's failure is consistent with his lack of insight and his inability to integrate into the natural processes of life. When Biberkopf is released from his mental asylum, he re-enters Berlin as someone who knows better with the new name of Franz Karl Biberkopf: 'we know what we know, we have paid dearly for it' ('Wir wissen, was wir wissen, wir habens teuer bezahlen miissen').41 After the defeat of the Traurner und Chaoten', the dreamers and chaotic characters, Pitchers Blau's previously ignorant Karl has similarly acquired knowledge and achieved a new state of selfawareness, mirroring his alter ego, Franz Karl Biberkopf: 'Does he know it, Karl? Yes, he knows it now' ('Weifi er es, Karl? Ja, er weifi es jetzt', FB, 433). However, Schramm turns Doblin's optimism on its head. While Doblin ends with a vision of solidarity, Karl's insight into life is one of fundamental meaninglessness and repetition: 'Someone has to win all the time. [...] Tomorrow it will start again all over' ('Einer mufi immer siegen [...] Morgen fangt alles von vorn an', FB, 433-5). The conclusion of Karl's story is an ironic comment on the emphatic ending of Berlin Alexanderplatz after the successful overcoming of the modern subject and the dichotomy of subject and object: 'Karl manages a step. Forward?' ('Karl bringt einen Schritt fertig. Vorwarts?', FB, 438). The
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final words of Berlin Alexanderplatz are: We're marching towards freedom, into freedom, the old world must fall [...]. And in step and left and right, marching marching' (Es geht in die Preiheit, die Freiheit hinein, die alte Welt muft sturzen [...] Und Schritt gefafit und rechts und links, marschieren, marschieren'}.^
LITERARY CHAOS VS. PHILOSOPHICAL ORDER Throughout Pitchers Blau the history of European thought systems is represented as an endless deforming attempt to calculate the incalculable. This is juxtaposed with narrative indeterminacy on the level of style, with Azerbaijan as a space of a different modernity on the level of plot. Narrative digressions that suddenly focus on new characters create an impression of coincidence and indeterminacy. These digressions stretch from a few sentences to several pages. The narrative constantly switches to characters that have no relation to Karl and Janni's story and throws light onto parallel universes that might just as well be the focus of the narrative: Then he flushed defiantly, destroying colour and shape, controlled act of cleansing, removing with a brush the remaining traces of faeces from the white of the bowl. This was at the time when the little stunted postal worker rilled in a form of notification in the parcel-office in Lychener Strafie, the last one before she mounted her bike to get herself a Db'ner-Kebab in the Duncker StraSe. (FB, 10)43 In contrast to its intertext Berlin Alexanderplatz, Pitchers Blau does not represent Berlin as an integrated cosmos that can be recognised and known by the protagonist after a process of purification. Instead Berlin is seen as a principally unknowable and uncalculable system that continuously fluctuates between chaos and order. With its narrative indeterminacy and simultaneous discursive over-determination by its narrator, Pitchers Blau is influenced by chaos theory. This is indicated by the narrator's self-presentation as enjoying 'quarks, reflections and Mandelbrot sets' ('Quarks, Spiegeleien und Apfelmannerfn]', FB, 209).44
Chaos theory criticises the universe of classic Newtonian science as deterrninist and thus paradoxically presupposing a driving principle external to the universe.45 This puts classical physics, based on the principle of reversible processes and models of balance, in close proximity to Utopian 'closed' systems. 'In order to produce equilibrium, a system must be "protected" from the fluxes that compose nature. It must be canned, so to speak, or put in a bottle like the homunculus in Goethe's Faust'.46 The dualist view of either order or chaos as expressed in classical physics is shattered by chaos theory. This latter theory describes a fluctuation between both poles within self-organising systems. Frederic Turner has described chaos theory as the overcoming of poststructural theorems that regarded arbitrariness as the only alternative to the order they criticised.47 Chaos theory reintroduces time and thus history without reverting to universalist principles of thought.48 Thus chaos theory entails an implicit critique of the Eurocentrism of the universalist claims of European science.49 In the naturalisation of human action as dynamic indeterminacy, Pitchers Blau reflects Ilya Prigogine's critique of the deterrninist universe of classical physics. The determinacy of the narrative frame of Karl and Janni's story, originating in the system GDR, is continuously interrupted and broken by spontaneous deviations as well as by narrative contradictions. History is not negated in this naturalisation but robbed of its meaning and promesse de bonheur.50
PITCHERS BLAU AS A CRITIQUE OF WESTERN UNIVERSALIST PERSPECTIVE Since the text of Pitchers Blau cannot detect any form of non-alienated existence within the space of Western history of civilisation that it could describe affirmatively, the image of 'real7 existence necessarily has to be ex-territorialised. The counter-design to the events in Berlin is Aynur, a student of Turkoman literature in Baku in Azerbaijan. Aynur is an unknown distant cousin of Janni's and concerned with an essay on the Turkish romance 'AslI und Kerem', a love story between a Turkish boy and a Christian girl ending in the death of both
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characters. This romance from an oral tradition, written down by Wilhelm Radloff in the nineteenth century,51 is 'as old as the God Tenri himself (FB, 139) and figures as a counter-text to European modernity and its loss of tradition. 'Asli und Kerem' is part of a tradition that died in Europe with the Middle Ages, while in Aynur's part of the world travelling oral balladeers were active until the 1970s. Aynur is thus situated within the tradition of the Vaganten balladeers, who in their delivery and performance mediated between tradition and improvisation, between the traditionally typical and the creativity of the individual.52 The chapters that are set in Baku are full of references to Turkoman cultural history from Tamburlaine to the present and Azerbaijani poets which the Western reader cannot decode even with the help of several encyclopaedias. These references gesture towards an other (cultural) history outside of European perspective that cannot be absorbed under a Eurocentric concept of culture and civilisation. The narrative refusal to explain any of the enigmatic cultural references create an alienated perspective that turns around the traditional imperial Western gaze onto the 'exotic' Other.53 Through Aynur's Islamic culture the promise of redemption in Judaeo-Christian teleology and its secularised forms are juxtaposed with a sense of Muslim submission to ihefatum: 'Even without the old songs, Aynur knew that there had never been a world of happiness' ('Auch ohne die alten Lieder war Aynur klar, dass es noch nie eine Welt des Clucks gegeben', FB, 196). The Azerbaijan chapters are narrated with clear sympathy and without the irony and narrative distance that determines the rest of the novel. It is in these chapters that Pitchers Blau formulates its strongest critique of European Christianity and its secularised successors which flooded the region with a series of invasions since the end of the Ottoman Empire: Later [invaded] by Russians, Armenians, Reds, Whites, Reds, Stalin. Always Christians with their religion of peace! [...] All of Christianity was a kind of Communism. [...] The age of 'reason' which was murdered by Peter I. We fell into the grinder of the 'civilised', whose piety was calculated as profit in the form of God's balance sheet. The 'discovery' of Siberia. [...] Pjotr Plotnik
('carpenter', epithet of tsar Peter the Great, HS) crossed his beams over Baku. A tsar who was blinded by the Germans and referred to conquest as 'modernisation', as assistance for future forgers of history'.54 The West's rejection of procreation in favour of consumerism is contrasted at the end of the novel with Aynur and her boyfriend Koca and their decision to have a family (FB, 446). Aynur's last word Ma$allah (lit. what God has willed) that ends the texts, expresses an emphatic confirmation of their decision. Yet Pitchers Blau does not embody a neoconservative desire for a meaningful, metaphysically anchored existence in the image of Islam. Indeed, the text acknowledges that Baku represents not an alternative to Berlin, but an unreachably different culture that is still on the verges of a fully established modernity and thus on a potentially different trajectory. In Aynur's rejection of the West, the contours of a different, more contemporary world-order become visible in which the capitalist West and a heterogeneous Islamic world are presented as being in opposition: "The brothers and sisters in the South, in Tabris, in Iran. These were the real relatives' ('Die Briider und Schwestern im Siiden, in Tabris, im Land Iran. Das waren die wahren Verwandten!', FB, 441).
RESISTING POSTMODERNIST POP Pitchers Blau projects a picture of European civilisation as dominated by thought systems that are essentially deforming. This is contrasted with a concept of 'life' the heterogeneity and 'fullness' of which is transformed into language through the stylistic means of radical modernism. With its aggressive poeticising metaphors Schramm's antiEnlightenment historical pessimism is closely related to negative visions of history mat determine the 1950s' works of Arno Schmidt, Gunter Grass and Wolfgang Koeppen. Schramm's text also subverts the demands for 'readability' that dominated the German review pages in the aftermath of unification. The literature that best fits the post-industrial society represented in the text is that of a postmodernist entertainment culture that has
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eroded the distinction between high and popular literature.55 Malcolm Waters also notes the erosion between high and popular culture as a symptom of globalisation.56 And globalisation may, as a result, be seen as an essential part of what Fredric Jameson terms 'the thing called postmodernity'.57 One key aspect of postmodernity is the loss of the social function of art. This social function is entwined with the differentiation of the cultural spheres of art, economy and science, noted by Max Weber as the defining characteristic of modernity.58 Thus, whereas a key characteristic of modernity is that its high cultural products display the identity between their aesthetic achievement and their social significance,59 postmodernity, for Jameson, is characterised by a de-differentiation of the spheres of culture, politics and economy as they collapse back into each other. Everything becomes culture even as culture itself is subject to an increasing commodification. 'Culture' becomes ideology or, in Jameson's Marxist terms, 'a veritable "second nature"'.60 Under these conditions art not only loses its function as guardian of the memory of the promesse de bonheur, it is also degraded to entertainment.61 Schramm's heterogeneous text-monster attests to a desire to withstand this. For writers from the former East Germany, such as Schramm, unification meant having to compete in a Western, capitalist market.62 The use of high modernist, 'difficult' styles might thus be read as an expression of opposition to a changed cultural market that increasingly favours quickly consumable literary entertainment and which expects its authors to conform to and service the latest trends. Pitchers Blau certainly falls into this 'oppositionist' category. It is not so much an expression of 'Ostmoderne' - a belated picking up of stylistic means rejected as decadent under state socialism - but rather a rejection of a contemporary cultural industry in the process of rejecting socially engaged writing in favour of a 'new readability'. In this context, it is worth noting that Frank Schirrmacher used his review of Wolfgang Hilbig's novel Ich (1993) for an invective against the narrative forms of Western modernism as a whole. According to Schirrmacher, Hilbig's novel fails because he does not permit himself to tell a story. Schirrmacher suggests that the subject-critical narrative forms of modernism are analogous to the 'Bewusstseinszustanden der ostlichen Gesellschaften', that is, forms of consciousness typical of
162 HELMUT SCHMTTZ East European societies. Arguing that modernist forms of narrative constitute a self-reflexive, inward-looking dialogue with oneself that simply stabilises the system, Schirrmacher alleges that the East European totalitarian systems and modernist aesthetics are intimately intertwined. He overlooks the fact, of course, that totalitarian states of both left and right were agreed on the 'degenerate' nature of modernist aesthetics. Thus he declares modernism to be analogous to totalitarian thought: 'Avant-garde and Communism are the monstrous dogmas of the century which both subjected reality to thought. The avant-garde is finished' ('Avantgarde und Kommunismus sind jene monstrosen Dogmen des Jahrhunderts, die beide die Wirklichkeit entschlossen dem Gedanken unterordneten. Die Avantgarde ist zu Ende').63 Viewed from this perspective the 'deutsch-deutsche Literaturstreit' and Ulrich Greiner's and Frank Schirrmacher's efforts to discredit postwar German literature as 'Gesinnungsasthetik' (an 'aesthetics of conviction' rather than a truly autonomous aesthetic)64 appears as a stage in the process of the progressive delegitimation of modernist aesthetics.65 The result of this is ultimately a form of 'postmodernist' and 'globalised' mainstream entertainment literature which was circulated by the German review pages in the late 1990s under the terms Popliteratur, neues Erzahlen ('new storytelling') or neue Lesbarkeit ('new readability').66 While for Schirrmacher, unification concludes the ideological projects of both communism and the avant-garde in the victory of the market, Pitchers Blau labours to expose the forces behind both GDR socialism and Western capitalism as originating in the same contradictions at the heart of the history of Western Enlightenment. Schramm's denial of a radical interruption can thus be read as a refusal to participate in the discourses of unification, be it the debate around Gesinnungsasthetik, the idea of a historical mission or the victory of liberal capitalism. At the same time, his use of modernist forms of expression signals a desire to assert aesthetic difference within a postmodernist entertainment industry, as well as the desire to withdraw from the grip of aesthetic standardisation by the market. Schramm thus reads unification and its cultural aftermath as just one more step towards a universalised and homogenised global culture.
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Notes 1 Malcolm Waters, Globalization (London and New York: Routledge, 1995 [2nd edn, 2001]), p.l. 2 Samuel P. Huntingdon, The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon & Schuster, 19%). See William Pfaff, 'Huntingdon's Irrtum', Lettre Interational, 37 (Summer 1997), 12-14. 3 Francis Fukuyama, 'The End of History?', The National Interest, 16 (Summer 1989), 3-18, p. 3. 4 Perry Anderson, 'The Ends of History' in Perry Anderson, A Zone of Engagement (London and New York: Verso, 1992), 279-375, p. 334. Anderson indicates that the formulation 'end of history7, which is particularly used in Anglo-American academia, could be the result of an error in understanding or translation. He emphasises that Hegel himself never used the words Ende or Schlufi, but always Ziel or Ziveck, however, all of these concepts are covered in English by the word 'end', p. 286. 5 Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (London: Penguin, 1992), p. xi. 6 ibid. 7 ibid., p. xii. 8 ibid., p. xiv. 9 One of the gravest errors that goes right to the heart of Fukuyama's ideological project is the conflation of Hegel and Marx: 'Both Hegel and Marx believed that the evolution of human societies [...] would come to an end when mankind has achieved a form of society that satisfied its deepest and most fundamental longings. Both thinkers thus posited an "end of history".' ibid., xii. With respect to Marx, this is quite inaccurate, communist society is not the 'end of history' for Marx but its beginning. The phrasing of the communist ideal in the capitalist language of consumer 'satisfaction' unwittingly exposes Fukuyama's ideological roots which later leads him to declare that liberal democracies represent Marx's 'realm of freedom' that follows the overcoming of the 'realm of necessities' (p. 287). The Marxist concept of 'fulfilment', however, is not consumption but a liberated production in which the alienation of labour is overcome. For a concise critique of Fukuyama see Perry Anderson, A Zone of Engagement, op. cit. pp. 331ff. 10 ibid., p. xiv, my italics. 11
12 ibid., p. xv. 13 ibid., p. 288, italics are Fukuyama's. 14 According to Fukuyama there need to be 'deeper sources for discontent' than 'unemployment, pollution, drugs, crime' which are 'immediate concerns'. This means nothing else than that essential problems of capitalism are discounted as mere epiphenomena rather than '"contradictions'". Furthermore, the eradication of these cosmetic flaws in favour of social equality would, according to Fukuyama, inevitably lead to a decline in individual liberty. See Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man, op. cit., pp. 288ff. 15 Roland Robertson, Globalisation (London: Sage, 1992), p. 8. 16 17 18 19
Anthony Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1990), p. 64. Malcolm Waters, Globalization, op. cit., p. 6 ibid., p. 3. ibid., pp. 17-18.
164 HELMUT SCHMTTZ 20 ibid., pp. 19-20. Italics are in. the original. 21 Malcolm Waters, Globalization, op. cit., p. 9. The reference here is to the first edition, 1995. The 2001 edition omits the sentence. 22 ibid., p. 20. 23 See John Tomlinson's critique of Waters' terminology in Globalisation and Culture (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1999), p. 23. 24 Justin Rosenberg, The Follies of Globalisation Theory (London: Verso, 2000), p. 2. 25 See Slavoj Zizek, Die Revolution steht bevor. Dreizehn Versuche uber Lenin (Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, 2002), p. 8. 26 Fredric Jameson, 'Notes on Globalisation as a Philosophical Issue' in Fredric Jameson and Masao Miyoshi (eds.), The Cultures of Globalization (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1998), 54-77, pp. 57-8 and p. 57. 27 For a reading of Pitchers Blau as a novel that negotiates the complex loss of EastGerman identity see Paul Cooke's 'Escaping the Burden of the Past: Questions of East German identity in the works of Ingo Schramm', Seminar, 40:1 (2004), 35-49. 28 Klaus Hartung, 1989 (Frankfurt am Main: Luchterhand, 1990), pp. 51-2. 29 See Heimo Schwilk and Ulrich Schacht (eds.), Die selbstbewuflste Nation (Frankfurt am Main: Ullstein, 1994), 19^0. See in particular the essays by Karl-Eckard Hahn (327-44) and Alfred Mechtersheimer (345-63). 30 See the chapter on Ortheil in Helmut Schmitz, On their own terms: the legacy of National Socialism in post-1990 German fiction (Birmingam: University of Birmingham Press, 2004). 31 Ingo Schramm, Pitchers Blau (Berlin: Volk und Welt, 1996). All references are to the paperback edition (Munchen: dtv, 1999), p. 398. Hereafter FB. 32 'SchlieSlich ofmeten die Frauen jene besondere Tur, der Pitcher registrierte den Zeitpunkt, trug die zusammengetragenen Zeitpunkte auf Diagrammen ab, ermittelte Wahrscheinlichkeitswerte, versuchte sich in Prognosen, aber versagte immer wieder aufs neue. Das Menschliche widerstrebte seiner Berechnung'. 33 See Theodor W. Adorno & Max Horkheiner, The Dialectk of Enlightenment (London: Verso, 1997), p. 4. 34 ibid., p. 7. 35 ibid., p. 24. 36 Arnold Ruge describes Hegel's philosophy in 1841 as one which 'sich als der Gedanke darstellt, der es nicht bleiben kann, sondern [...] Tat werden muss. [...] In diesem Sinn ist die Hegelsche Philosophic die Philosophic der Revolution und die letzte aller Philosophien iiberhaupt.' ('presents itself as the thought that cannot remain thought but [...] must become action. [...] In this sense Hegel's philosophy is the philosophy of revolution and the last of all philosophies.'). Quoted in Jiirgen Habermas, Der Philosophische Diskurs der Moderne (Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, 1985), p. 65. 37 In this respect it is noteworthy that St Paul introduces the idea of redemption and salvation with the metaphor of freedom from bondage: 'And because you are sons, God has sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father. Wherefore you are no more a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ', St. Paul, Letter to the Galatians, Chapter 4, vs. 6 and 7. In Judaic tradition the concept of redemption is more heterogeneous, given the pluralist tradition of Judaic thought. One strong motif is the idea of redemption from Babylonian exile and Egyptian slavery that ultimately informs St Paul's metaphor. See Robert M. Seltzer, Jewish People, Jewish Thought (London and New York, MacMillan, 1980), 32-4 and 59-61, and The Judaic Tradition, Texts edited and introduced by Nahum M. Glatzer (Boston/Mass., Beacon Press, 1969), 235-9.
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38 'Es geht um die gultige Beseitigung der Traumer und Chaoten. Es geht um die Zerstampfung der Konsvunhindernisse. Es geht um die grofie Abgleichung des Lebens. Auf alien Gebieten. In alien Weltgegenden. Die Verewigung des herrschenden Weltentwurfs. Beendigung der Geschichte'. 39 See Terry Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990), p. 343. 40 'Das Pony des kommerziellen Gotts war ja schon zvtm RoS erwachsen, belagerte Katrins Geschlechtertroja, mit Fingern erspiirte sie das zuckende Aderwerk [...] pulsierend wie die moderne Wirtschaft [...] (Kind, so schellte es in Charles' Him; Kind - kostet das Geld?)'. 41 Alfred Doblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz, (Miinchen, dtv, 1965), p. 410. 'Ja, dieser Mann - wir wollen ihn Franz Karl Biberkopf nennen' (Yes, this man - we would like to call him Franz Karl Biberkopf), p. 404. 42 ibid., p. 411, italics are in the original. 43 'Dann spiilte er [Karl] trotzig unter Vernichtung von Farbe und Form, kontrollierte Sauberung, entfernte biirstend die letzten Kotspuren vom Weifi des Beckens. Das war zu der Zeit, als jene verwachsene Kleine, eine Angestellte der Post, in der Paketstelle Lychener-Strasse einen Benachrichtigungsschein ausstellte, den letzten, bevor sie sich auf ihr Fahrrad schwang, in der Duncker Doner-Kebab zu holen'. 44 The wordplay on fried egg (Spiegel-Ei) and reflection (Spiegelei) is as untranslatable as the near homonym of Quark (a kind of soft cheese) and quarks (matter particles that are constituents of neutrons and protons). Mandelbrot sets (a fractal named after Benoit Mandelbrot) are colloquially referred to as 'Apfelmannchen' (literally: 'little applemen'). 45 'Denn wenn das Universum wirklich ein Automat ist, dann kann man unmoglich der Vorsellung entgehen, dass dieser Automat von einem Gott, von etwas von aussen kommenden in Bewegung gesetzt wurde. Der klassische [...] Determinismus fuhrt geradezu zu einer Theologie.' ('For when the universe is really an automaton, you cannot exscape the idea that this automaton has been put in motion by an external force, a god. Classical determinism [...] really leads to theology'). Dya Prigogine, '"Vom Sein zum Werden", Gesprach mit Edmond Blattchen' in Lettre International, 2 (1999), 42-6, p. 42. 46 Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers, Order out of Chaos: Man's New Dialogue with Nature (London: Heineman, 1984), p. 128. 47 Frederic Turner, 'Seltsame Attraktoren. Chaostheorie - Modelle fur das Selbstverstandnis des Menschen', Lettre International, 2 (1999), 47-52, p. 47. 48 'Only when a system behaves in a sufficiently random way may a difference between past and future, and therefore irreversibility, enter into its description. [...] The arrow of the time is a manifestation of the fact that the future is not given'. Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers, Order out of Chaos, op. cit., p. 16. 49 See Hya Prigogine: '"Vom Sein zum Werden", Gesprach mit Edmond Blattchen', Order out of Chaos, op. cit., esp. p. 45. 50 Prigogine's theories have been described as 'erneute Verzauberung der Natur' ('reenchantment of nature'). See Lettre International, 2 (1999) op. cit., p. 44. 51 Wilhelm Radloff, Proben der Volksliteratur der turkischen Stamme Sudsibiriens und der dschungarischen Steppen (St Petersburg, 1866-1904). 52 As late as 1969 Nora K.Chadwick und Victor Zhirmunsky describe the orally transmitted epics and romances of the Ask (Poets) as 'living tradition'. Nora K.Chadwick and Victor Zhirmunsky, Oral Epics of Central Asia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), p. 319. 53 One literary model for this might be Doblin's 'Chinese' novel Die drei Spriinge des
166 HELMUT SCHMTTZ Wang-Lun (1915) which equally plunges the reader into an incomprehensible cosmos of otherness without explanation. 54 'Spater dann von Russen, Armeniern, den Roten, den Weissen, den Roten, Stalin. Immerzu Christen mit ihrer Religion des Friedens! (140). Das ganze Qiristentum war so ein Kommunismus. (198) Zeitalter der 'Vernunft', das Peter der Erste einmordete. In den Trichter der 'Zivilisierten' gekommen, deren Frommigkeit als Profit Gottes Saldo gefuhrt worden war. Die 'Entdeckung' Sibiriens.... Pjotr Plotnik schlug seine Balken kreuzweise iiber Baku. Zar, der sich von Deutschen blenden liess, Eroberung 'Modernisierung' nannte, als Zuarbeit fur spatere Geschichtsfalscher'. 55 The concept of post-modernism employed here is that developed by Fredric Jameson in Postmodernism: Or, The Cultured Logic of Late Capitalism (London: Verso, 1991), esp. chapter 1,1-54. Jameson describes postmodernism as totalising aesthetidsation of reality under the spell of commodity fetishism, i.e. a surface aesthetic that melts down concepts of depth, identity and history in favour of pastiche, simulacrum and intensities of surface experience. 56 Malcolm Waters, Globalization, op. tit., p. 24. 57 See Fredric Jameson, 'Notes on Globalisation as a Philosophical Issue' in Postmodernism, op. tit., p. 54. 58 See Fredric Jameson '"End of Art" or "End of History"?' in Fredric Jameson, The Cultural Turn (London and New York, Verso, 1998), pp. 73-92. 59 See for example Adorno's argument that modernist aesthetic techniques of montage and stream of consciousness exhibit the objective truth about the state of the fragmentation of the subject in administered society. Adorno, 'Reconciliation under Duress', Aesthetics and Politics (London: Verso, 1980), 151-76, pp. 160-1. 60 Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, op. tit., p. ix.. 61 See Fredric Jameson, '"End of Art" or "End of History"?', ibid., pp. 73ff. 62 After unification, many East German writers noticed a sharp decline in West German interest in their products and frequently lost their publishing contracts. See Daniela Dahn Westwarts und nicht vergessen. Vom Unbehagen in der Einheit (Berlin: Rowohlt, 1996). 63 Frank Schirrmacher, '"Wir waren der Schatten des Lebens, wir waren der Tod". Uber ein literarisches Meisterwerk und seine Verhinderung. Anmerkungen zu Wolfgang Hilbigs Roman Ich', FAZ (05.10.93). Ulrich Greiner takes the same line when he favourably compares novelists like John le Carre or Cees Nooteboom to German writing that 'starke Gesinnungen und starke Satze ausbildet, aber fernab von allem liegt, was dieser Tage von Belang ist' ('mobilises strong convictions and stark sentences but is miles away from everything that is of importance today'). Ulrich Greiner, 'Zucker fur den Affen. Uber die Entbehrlichkeit gegenwartiger Kunst', Die Zeit (26.11.93). 64 The key contributions to the Literaturstreit are collated in Thomas Anz (ed.), Es geht nicht urn Christa Wolf: der Literaturstreit im vereinten Deutschland, (Munchen: Spangenberg, 1991). 65 This is not to suggest that the instigators of the 'deutsch-deutsche Literaturstreit' who are at best instruments of a literary market beyond their control, were the agents of an aesthetic paradigm shift or that their aesthetic concepts have any coherence beyond their immediate ideological function. It is thus somewhat ironic that Ulrich Greiner, the then doyen of the German review pages who coined the phrase 'Gesinnungsasthetik' should only a few years later lament the 'Amerikanisierung der Branche' ('Americanisation of the industry') and the decline of literary criticism in a speech given at the symposium Die Geltung der Literatur, Leipzig, (27.03.98). Ulrich Greiner, 'Der Betrieb tanzt' in Neue Deutsche Literatur (July/August, 1998), 159-69, p. 159.
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66 66 See Thomas Ernst, Popliteratur (Hamburg: Europaische Verlagsanstalt, 2001), 72-80. Ernst points out that the crucial difference between the 'pop literature' of the early 1970s (Rolf-Dieter Brinkmann, Peter Handke, etc.) and its contemporary exponents (Christian Kracht, Benjamin von Stuckradt-Barre, Alexa Hennig von Lange) is the latter's affirmative relationship to the contemporary German Spafigesellschaft ('funloving society') and their lack of critical or subversive potential (p. 75). See Ernst's chapter in this volume.
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German pop literature and cultural globalisation1 Thomas Ernst
Since the late 1960s, German pop literature has been more open to influences from other cultures, primarily Anglo-American, than perhaps any other direction in contemporary literature. Within the context of cultural globalisation - if we take this to be a process which first began to be registered in the 1960s, but which has accelerated in recent years - pop literature has successfully adapted itself to aesthetic techniques, themes and styles that now seem indispensable to writing today, particularly in the face of current economic and political changes as well as competition from new media such as the internet. This chapter is an investigation into this cross-cultural context and its specific influence on German pop literature. After 1968, the first wave of German pop literature primarily focused on consciousness-raising, found a home in the underground scene and aimed to provoke. More recently, however, it has branched out and become more diverse. There is still a "pop underground', but this is now occupied by the Social Beat movement and Slam Poetry on the one hand, and by the Kanaksta movement on the other. Parallel to this, a form of mainstream pop literature has also developed that should be viewed within the context of the discourse of 'normalisation' in the socalled Berlin Republic. In countless essays and articles, the term pop literature is used as a catch-all expression for everything and nothing. In fact, the first books concerning themselves with a theoretical definition of contemporary German pop literature did not appear until 2001. There are two distinct directions in these books. Moritz interprets pop literature as a 'new
archivism' that sets out from the premise that contemporary culture and, with it, our language has always been pre-formed in the media and in contemporary discourse. Pop literature, for Bafiler, is a 'literature of secondary words, that '[archives] present-day culture in an absolutely positivistic manner, with intensity, a mania for collecting that was unknown in literature in previous decades'.2 It is the only literary strategy that, given today's globalised world and its changed media structures, can offer an adequate cultural encyclopaedia of the present. In contrast, books by Johannes Ullmaier and myself resist the attempt to gather pop literature under a single rubric and interpret it instead as a phenomenon that is, to quote Ullmaier, 'splintered, self-contradictory and, as a whole, rather awkward'.3 Along with an analysis of the various techniques and pop-cultural contexts, Ullmaier and I suggest that there are rudiments of a subversive literature to be found today in the midst of pop literature. The introduction to my Popliteratur, therefore, examines the influence of society, politics and theory and presents itself as a contribution to a contemporary debate on pop literature mat only rarely brings a historical perspective to bear.4 Both Ullmaier and I reject the concept of the pop text as 'lifestyle text' that Bafiler's 'new archivism' implies. We are concerned, therefore, with pop literature's potential to use language not only to describe the world around us, but also to undermine or expand our perception of it. A clear definition of the term may not be possible at this point, therefore. Yet contemporary pop literature does appear to be a reaction to a changed world. In this changed world the dissolution of borders and the expansion of a hegemonic economic, political and cultural system in the image of American culture appear to be advancing the process that has come to be termed 'globalisation'. A more vigorous exchange between national cultures and artistic practices, techniques and concepts can be seen as an example of cultural globalisation. Here, pop literature has once again emerged as a key trend in contemporary German writing at a time of increased media competition and new economic and political relationships. This chapter will outline the manner in which this adaptation of international trends has taken place and the functions they fulfil in the German context.
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BORDER CROSSINGS, SUBVERSION AND THE UNDERGROUND SCENE (1968-1977) In order to be able to understand the historical context of the more recent pop literature debates, a brief retrospective on the origins of pop literature in Germany is necessary. In the 1960s, the introduction of pop literature to Germany was accompanied by great debate. At issue was the clash between traditional aesthetic categories and new ideas stemming from the Anglo-American world. As a reaction to the Holocaust and the success of Nazi propaganda, a consensus had developed among the most significant post-1945 authors in Germany that German literature would be obliged to take on the responsibility of contributing to an anti-fascist consensus. From the late 1950s, in particular, a literature of coming to terms with the legacy of National Socialism developed. In the late 1960s, however, the student protest movement turned against many of the key figures associated with what the younger generation saw as an inadequate confrontation with this past. Here, we might point, for example, to Peter Handke and Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, and their attacks on the authors of the Gruppe 47 and other writers of the generation that came to prominence in the late 1950s - e.g. Giinter Grass, Heinrich Boll and Martin Walser. These writers claimed to hold a monopoly on coming to terms with the Nazi past. In the process, they also developed new theories of literature, of its social function and its aesthetic form. Brinkrnann's impetus came from Leslie Fiedler, who had spoken at a symposium on the topic of Tor and against contemporary literature in Europe and the United States' in Freiburg in June 1968. Proclaiming the arrival of the 'postmodern', his lecture, cross the border - close the gap, presented an analysis of the death throes of literary modernism. Marshal McLuhan's theory of media, Pop Art, the 'pop literature' of Beat authors like William Burroughs, and the tradition of Dadaism and Surrealism could, Fiedler argued, offer the starting point for a new form of literature. The result would be the elimination of the distinction between high culture and popular culture. A literature of this kind would be subversive, that is, 'a threat to all hierarchies, because it is anti-order'.5 By introducing this program and the terms 'pop literature' and 'postmodern', Fiedler instigated a discussion that continues today,
172 THOMAS ERNST albeit in a very different form. This discussion was initially conducted via the pages of the weekly newspaper Christ und Welt, outside of the literature industry proper. As Fiedler's arguments became more widely available, they were exposed to criticism or modification by the likes of Jiirgen Becker, Helmut Heissenbiittel and Hans-Egon Holthusen. Only the Cologne-based author Rolf Dieter Brinkmann supported, with some reservations, the American writer and saw in his theses the potential for the liberation that young artists desperately needed within the overtly 'political' movement of '68: 'the conquest of the inner world' as well as 'expansion of human psychological potential'.6 Brinkmann thus began his Attack on the Monopoly, co-edited with Ralf Rainer Rygulla, with various anthologies designed as a homage to American Beat literature, which he wanted to become known in Germany. This American program was adapted, however, to local conditions and debates in the Federal Republic. In the place of Fiedler's enthusiasm for westerns, science fiction and pornography, German authors made use of new pop methods (like Burroughs' cut-up technique and word-picture collages), imitated the new frankness in discussing political topics and issues of daily life (such as drugs, homosexuality and bisexuality) and intensively engaged with various kinds of slang and subcultural idiom. This new (pop) literature can be seen as part of a political program aimed at consciousness raising. Drawing on Martin Hubert, we can see how early pop writers appropriated the methods of the media and consumer-dominated art world and its techniques of perception in order to subvert it. In combination with intoxication and drugs, these writers used it for a cultural revolution as well as a new form of consciousness and sensuality. In contrast to the political and practical program of the 1968 student movement, 'the underground literature placed the emphasis on the immediate Utopia of "new sensitivity" to be created in literature and the subculture'.7 With its determination to attack the aesthetic consensus and experiment with new concepts, content and form, early German pop literature placed itself firmly outside of the mainstream. Denied a more general recognition, however, it tended to remain home to outsiders in the underground, for - as Jorgen Schafer demonstrates with reference to Brinkmann - 'in the German literature
GERMAN POP LITERATURE AND CULTURAL GLOBALISATION
industry, such an attitude was [...] not acceptable. In the "official" literature criticism, underground anthologies were met, first and foremost, with a lack of understanding'.8 Parallel to the "alternative lifestyle' movement in general, the first wave of pop literature in German thus petered out in the literary underground.
THE DIFFERENTIATION OF GERMAN POP LITERATURE (1977-1989) Under the influence of poststructuralism, largely imported from France, and the Anglo-American punk movement, concepts and theories of pop literature began to diverge in the 1970s and 1980s. While the introduction to Germany of poststructuralism with Manfred Frank's Was ist Neostrukturalismus?(198£) was generally received with some scepticism, a small publishing house in Berlin, the Merve-Verlag, did make a name for itself with translations of French theorists - though these tended to be read by a non-academic underground audience. However, 1977 had already brought a change in the situation. This was the year that saw height of the so-called German Autumn marked by increased terrorist activity on the part of the Red Army Faction, the state's over-reaction to it, and the loss of faith in direct political intervention which resulted from these events. Two volumes appeared on the market, Das Schillern der Revolte, edited by Frank Bockelmann et al, and Jean-Francois Lyotard's Das Patchwork der Minderheiten, a text that argued that the spark for political change might be found in marginalised groups and subversive art. As a result of these influences, an indigenous theory of pop developed in German, the protagonists of which, the so-called Pop Leftists, sought, in the 1980s, to link popular culture and various critical theories with a program of political dissidence. This development had been anticipated by Helmut Salzinger's Rock Power oder Wie musikalisch ist die Revolution? (1972), a textual collage of rock and pop songs, theoretical fragments from Marxism and the student movement, anecdotes and observations from popular culture and diverse reflections on the way they could be interrelated. In magazines such as Sounds and later Spex and Texte zur Kunst, young editors worked to locate and analyse residues of resistance within contemporary forms of popular culture. Diedrich
174 THOMAS ERNST Diederichsen, the former editor of Sounds, was even dubbed the Tope of Pop' following the publication of his essay collection, Sexbeat. 1972 bis keute (1985) and his ensuing novel, Hen Dieterichsen (1987), which brought together various approaches ranging from those of Stuart Hall and the Birmingham School of Cultural Study to a watered-down form of the Frankfurt School's critique of culture industry Two literary developments can be observed. On the one hand, authors continued to work within the literary underground of 1968 and, with it, the tradition of (German) Beat literature. On the other hand, a younger generation of authors found their inspiration in punk and poststructuralism, and developed new literary concepts within the context of pop. This generation of pop authors grew up in the era of punk. This was a generation that had a less political, but linguistically more advanced or (consciously) more dilettantish, approach to literature. Many authors represented in the anthology edited by Wolfgang Muller, Geniale Dilktanten (1982), for example, also played in punk rock bands, such as Blixa Bargeld, Gudrun Gut or Frieder Butzmann. In his foreword, Muller reinforces the punk attitude that conscious, artistic 'dilettantism in a provocative form [can] trigger a kind of shock by attacking so-called progress - which is deeply obsolete in its basic ideas - with a lot of noise and commotion'.9 This form of punk literature was largely associated with Berlin. Meanwhile, Rainald Goetz, a native of Munich, developed an alternative punk style that perceived itself from the beginning as belletristicaUy more advanced. He began to publish with the Frankfurt Suhrkamp Verlag, thereby domesticating pop literature in the very citadel of German high culture. His 1983 reading for the Bachmann Prize in Klagenfurt is legendary: during the presentation of his text Subito, he sliced his forehead with a scalpel in the attempt to unmask the businesslike atmosphere of the goings-on of the ceremony. Goetz, who had already equipped himself with a double PhD in the fields of history and medicine before his career as an author, plumbed the inner conflict between psychiatric work and existence in the Munich punk scene. In Kontrolliert Geschichte (1988), for example, he examines German terrorism and the self-destruction of his characters. Through the influences of punk, poststructuralism, (developing) pop
GERMAN POP LITERATURE AND CULTURAL GLOBALISATION
theory and the (ironic) adoption of set pieces from high culture, the possibilities of German pop literature were thus further differentiated and refined.
NEW NARRATIVE, GENERATION GOLF AND BERLIN AND '89 AND POP MAINSTREAM (1990-1996) The discussion about the pop literature phenomenon as well as the way it was perceived was changing enormously. In the run-up to the end of the millennium, the plea had gone out for a great new German literature, and the 'new pop literature' was called upon to help make it a success. Bafiler began his book about this new German pop literature by stating that for the first time since World War II, German literature was now better than the German national soccer team. Shortly after the book appeared, the team made it to the World Cup final. Yet how was pop literature able to score such a success in a literary market dominated by competing publishing houses and critics? There are many possible reasons for this: the cultural 'normalisation' of Germany, the selfconfident nation following 1989-1990, the call for a new 'unburdened' and entrepreneurial younger generation, and the retreat of the Pop Leftists and their ideas. All this led to a paradigm shift in the literature market in the mid-1990s and helped lay the foundations for a new pop literature. Thus the literature industry began a debate on the merits of postwar and contemporary German literature. At issue were the terms entertainment, marketability and pop. Above all, it was the Munich-based author Maxim Biller and the (at that time) Kiepenheuer & Witsch editor, Martin Hielscher, who tried to adapt the techniques of pop literature to the process of Germany's cultural 'normalisation'. While Biller postulated a 'new realism' and the return to a literature informed by journalism and the observation of social reality,10 Hielscher hoped for 'a productive relationship between pop music, television, movies, fashion and technology and German contemporary literature' ('ein produktives Verhaltnis zur Popmusik, zum Fernsehen, zum Massen-Kino, zu Mode und Technik') and pleaded for a new emphasis on narrative ('das Neue Erzahlen').u In 19%, Andreas Neumeister and Marcel Hartges published an anthology with 'texts from the pop faction', and described the
ongoing transformation: 'Literature and Pop have always had a difficult time getting along with each other in the German-speaking regions. But this seems to be changing now - which makes us happy!'12 Yet what was the political status of this new pop literature? To what extent could it be considered to have retained its subversive edge? Just two years after the anthology published by Andreas Neumeister and Marcel Hartges, in 1998, Matthias Politycki declared the struggle to establish an internationally-viable German literature to be over: 'In the mid-90s, around 1995 give or take, a new epoch dawned for German literature [...]. With the breakthrough of New German Readability, contemporary German fiction rejoined the mainstream of European literature'.13 Yet did such success imply a selling-out to globalised capitalism and cultural conservatism? This may be what is implied by Ullmaier's comment on the outcome of the debates on German literature at the end of the 1990s: 'With the active assistance of the culture industry and a good dose of cultural conservatism, the campaign of the culture pages of mainstream newspapers against the horrors of avant-garde angst has already been triumphantly won at least three times/14 In fact, these debates had been about politics from the very beginning. Pointing to the retreat of the Pop Leftists of the 1980s into impotence and self-reflection, a number of sociologists and journalists in the wake of Douglas Coupland's bestseller Generation X (1991) began to describe a set of political attitudes supposedly associated with the emerging generation of 20-somethings. Claus Leggewie, with Die 89er (1995), Heinz Bude with Generation Berlin (1998/2001) and Florian niies (Generation Golf, 2000) attempted to categorise a generation unburdened by history and ideology (those born since 1970). This was a disillusioned generation that saw itself without alternatives, and yet also as active and entrepreneurial - a generation, then, well-suited to the neo-liberal spirit of the times. Attempting to describe this new Zeitgeist, Diedrich Diederichsen distinguishes in an essay of 1990 between two forms of pop: 'Pop I (1960s to 1980s)' and 'Pop II (1990s)': While Pop I may still have stood for emancipatory goals and strategies, Pop II has become the 'conceptual passe-partout of a confused society'. All that remains is 'collaboration in Pop II', which in comparison to the hopes of the 1960s is 'unimportant' and 'without resonance'. Pop II represents the collapse
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of the subversive potential of Pop I. As Diederichsen notes, in a second piece of 1993, his previous conviction that the possibility of rebellion is 'better protected and better sustained in certain dress codes and certain music than in others' is no longer tenable.15 Indeed, pop may fake dissidence in order to increase its market value in the consumer society. Drawing on the work of Deleuze, Tom Holert and Mark Terkessidis postulate that 'consumption' uses 'dissidence' (with the help of trend spotters, for example), such that the 'path from pop as a means of resistance to the discipline-society is plain for all to see'.16
MAINSTREAM, UNDERGROUND AND ADVANCED POP (1995-2002) Hubert Winkels, Johannes Ullmaier and I examine the diversity of contemporary pop literature according to style, content, techniques and grouping. Winkels points to 'the degree of reflexivity that a pop narrative is able to express without either deviating from the context of contemporary popular iconography or neglecting its unique popderived sound'17 as a means of distinguishing between texts. Ullmaier and I look, in addition, at the narrative position (pertaining to literary sociology) of the authors, their narrators and characters. These classifications reveal the following tendencies within contemporary German pop literatures, which I would like to examine with respect to their relationship to the phenomenon of globalisation: a) The new mainstream pop literature b) The advanced (Suhrkamp) pop literature c) The new underground pop literature, which in turn bifurcates as Social Beat / Slam Poetry on the one hand and the Kanaksta movement on the other.
THE NEW MAINSTREAM POP LITERATURE
The new mainstream pop literature established in the mid-1990s is the major impetus for the pop literature boom in Germany around
178 THOMAS ERNST 1998-1999, the related editorials and series in the culture section of practically every important newspaper, and its inclusion as part of the remit of literary studies. This is a new phenomenon insofar as, in the past, the various strands and stages of development of pop literature took their cues from 'alternative' subcultures. These early forms of pop literature set themselves against the prevailing literature industry and the prevailing politics, and were positioned as the work of literary experimenters or conscious dilettantes. This changed with texts of the mid-1990s by Christian Kracht, Alexa Hennig von Lange and Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre. These journalists, screenwriters and music critics produced a form of pop literature whose characters speak from the vantage point of the middle or upper class, in a language which is culturally conservative and realistic, and which quickly became wellknown as a result of high sales figures. Christian Kracht, one-time editor of the youth magazine Tempo, began the trend with his novel Faserland (1995). His snobbish protagonist and narrator drifts through the German-speaking world, from the island of Sylt to Zurich in Switzerland. The most prominent element of pop in the narrative is the constant mention of brand names and the reflection on their design, reminiscent of Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho (1991). While Ellis makes an effort to reveal the brutal and disturbing downsides of globalised, neoliberal capitalism in the character of Patrick Bateman, Krachf s protagonist embodies the naively romantic attitude of the middle-class conformist as he became ever more conscious of his own sense of self and the world in which he lives.18 Although Faserland was widely criticised for its embrace of the discourse of German 'normalisation' - widely seen at that time as associated with the intellectual New Right - and for its linguistic conservatism, the text nonetheless opened a space for a new form of pop literature into which several imitators subsequently found their way. Alexa Hennig von Lange's Relax (1997), for example, is the story of a typical weekend in the life of a typical adolescent whose world is 'anything but complex' ('alles andere als komplex').19 Most recently, however, the new pop scene has been transformed by the work of Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre. He debuted with the novel Soloalbum (1998), which draws heavily on Nick Hornby's High Fidelity (1995). The protagonist has to get over the fact that his girlfriend has left him, which
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he does primarily with the help of music (in Stuckrad-Barre's text this is the band Oasis), and by creating lists which archive the present. StuckradBarre soon became known as the 'German Nick Hornby'. Indeed, sales of his book surpassed even those of his friend Christian Kracht. In early 1999, Kracht and Stuckrad-Barre, along with Alexander von Schonburg, Joachim Bessing and Eckhart Nickel, proclaimed themselves as the pop-cultural quintet at a gathering in the Hotel Adlon in BerlinMitte, and published the manifesto Tristesse royale (1999). This declaration of the pop sensibility of the present was overshadowed, however, by the hype surrounding the debut success of Crazy (1999) written by 16-year-old Benjamin Lebert (the book sold over 450,000 copies). Pop subsequently became a synonym for light, entertaining bestsellers written by young, media-savvy authors who used brand names and song lyrics in their books, wrote openly about sex and drug use, and whose characters come from the bored (upper) middle class. Thus German literature was all the rage again. New authors had achieved celebrity status even as the aesthetic criteria of contemporary literature had, for the most part, been dumbed down. At this point, and for this reason, the protagonists of the post-unification debates on the future of German literature, who had encouraged the introduction of this new mainstream pop literature, stepped in to apply the brakes. At a quickly convened conference in Tutzing in the Spring of 2000, writer Maxim Biller spoke of the social and political impotence of the texts written by many of the authors he himself had invited, calling it, 'limp willy literature7 ('Schlappschwanzliteratur'). And even Biller's sparring partner, Matthias Altenburg, agreed: "The old habits of the avant-garde have been successfully altered [...] but unfortunately, then everything went in a different direction than we'd hoped. The new literature is like fat-free cream cheese - the lite alternative'.20 It was time for the pop writers to shake this inflationary label. Hennig von Lange admitted: 'I don't want to be a pop writer forever. Being branded this way gets on my nerves'.21 And indeed, by 2002, the mainstream pop literature boom seemed to be long over. Kracht's novel, 1979 (2001), and Stuckrad-Barre's collection of reports, Deutsches Theater (2001), marked the departure of these two authors from the mainstream pop literature they had helped to create; Alexa Hennig von Lange, similarly, was awarded a prize for adolescent literature.22
Mainstream pop literature turned realism and entertainment into the dominant aesthetic categories of contemporary writing. And yet, Torsten Liesegang claims, this new wave of German writing falls 'far short of the status of literary techniques of American pop literature of the '50s and '60s, as well as of early German pop literature'. Its ideological content, moreover, may also be criticised. With the help of mainstream pop literature, a 'new-suburban, traditional middle-class ideology [is being] constructed' in conformity with the trend towards cultural conservatism prevalent at the onset of the Berlin Republic. Thus Liesegang continues: The pop writers embody the longing for "normalisation" in the sense of a release from the constellations of postwar era conflict, whether it be in respect to politics, ideology or youth culture'.23 As such mainstream pop literature found its way onto the bestseller lists and a place at the heart of contemporary culture. And from there it spread, almost incidentally, its neo-liberal message.
ADVANCED POP LITERATURE Yet even in the 1990s, there were some examples of 'highly reflected, form-conscious and thoroughly experimental contemporary writing'24 in the German pop tradition. Its protagonists, Rainald Goetz, Andreas Neumeister and Thomas Meinecke, were all published by Suhrkamp publishing in Frankfurt - hence the term 'Suhrkamp Pop' for the advanced pop literature. This term described the paradox that pop literature, which started out in opposition to high literature, had gradually come to occupy its own department in the hallowed halls of the best known high-culture publishing house. Suhrkamp's fixation on its own marketing concept reached its zenith with books by Goetz (Rave, 1997), Neumeister (Gut laut, 1998) and Meinecke (Tomboy, 1999) collected under the advertising slogan of Top'. Goetz, an author socialised within the punk movement, who tried to distinguish himself in the 1980s with literary provocation and extremism, has now made a project out of the literary stocktaking of present-day culture based on a kind of systems theory. In addition, he has turned toward the techno movement and is most readily to be counted amongst the mainstream pop writers: Goetz appeared with
GERMAN POP LITERATURE AND CULTURAL GLOBALISATION
Stuckrad-Barre at readings and participated in the Mesopotamia anthology (1999) published by Christian Kracht. With Gut laut Andreas Neumeister became a good example of the new archivists. According to Bafiler: 'Neumeister conceived of his entire book as a homemade cassette (the titles are playing instructions) that is an archive, a little work of art and a personal message, all at the same time'.25 In the process, he described how life in 'Myoonik' (Munich) had changed through new forms of music and technology (such as the everready tape recorder, for example) over the past thirty years. With his concept of the discursive pop novel, however, Thomas Meinecke was the major influence on advanced pop literature and took it farthest. As a member of the Munich group F.S.K., co-editor of the magazine Mode & Verzzueiflung and a short story writer, he had made a name for himself in the 1980s. In his novels The Church of John F. Kennedy (1996), Tomboy (1998) and Hellblau (2002), he developed an original new genre which presented a contrast to new mainstream pop literature. He thus attacked the likes of Kracht and Stuckrad-Barre and their (sham ironic) occupation of the central ground ('Neue Mitte') of the Berlin Republic, both literally and figuratively in their pop-quintet discussions in the Hotel Adlon (which is, of course, itself at the heart of Berlin). In contrast, Meinecke attempted to create a literary form of the poststructuralist theory of deconstruction. In The Church of John F. Kennedy, Wenzel Assmann goes in search of German identities in America and discovers all manner of intertwined identities; Tomboy presented Meinecke's literary encounter with feminist deconstruction; in Hellblau, he worked with postcolonial theorems. Meinecke viewed his textures as a kind of sampling, like a DJ in a club: 'I don't really stand above the material. The material speaks through me. I am actually just a little wheel within the whole [...] In this way, I am able to let all this speak through me, this whole discourse babble through me. And then I do a little bit of aesthetic fiddling around'.26 Meinecke viewed his program of trendy literary theorising as a form of political engagement: 'Political conditions today are much worse than during the period of emergency laws in the late 1960s, but at the same time, there's nothing one can do. That's why I haul out the theory toolbox'.27 The Austrian author Kathrin Roggla worked on linking Elfriede
Jelinek's advanced literature, the early pop literature, with new media, especially the internet. In her books abrauschen (1997) and irres wetter (2000), she used observations from everyday life and from the media to throw a critical glance at the 'ever-present hordes of youthfully flexible, pseudo-creative servers of the media7 ('allprasenten Scharen jungflexibler, pseudokreativer Medienministranten'). She also presented a critique of today's pop culture, in a rhythmic game with slogans and cliches. She herself was concerned with a taking a stance (from which the mainstream pop writers had distanced themselves significantly), because 'what I write about and how I present it is not irrelevant' ('[es] ist ja nicht gleichgultig, was und wie ich montiere'). Her reason for writing is, she said, 'mainly rage' ('hauptsachlich die Wut auf bestimmte Verhaltnisse').28 The concerns of the advanced pop writers were, then, international in nature: the techno movement, which let national borders blur with its raves around the world (Goetz); international pop and electro music (Neumeister), and poststructuralist theories, mostly in their French and American forms (Meinecke).
THE NEW UNDERGROUND POP LITERATURE
In 1974, Deleuze and Guattari described underground pop literature thus: 'the flight from and with words. Introducing a multitude of different languages into one's own [...] opposing that which is repressive in language with that which is repressed within it, discovering the marginalised spaces of non-culture and linguistic underdevelopment, the regions of the linguistic Third World'.29 This definition of an underground pop literature that speaks from a culturally marginalised place of heteroglossia essentially corresponds to early German pop literature. Yet even at a time when the new mainstream pop literature has insinuated itself at the heart of the consumer society and appears to speak with a hegemonic voice, new forms of non-mainstream pop literature exist. Not surprisingly, however, it is typically marketed as something other than pop literature. The Social Beat movement should be mentioned first. In the early 1990s, a number of older pop and beat authors like Hadayatullah
GERMAN POP LITERATURE AND CULTURAL GLOBALISATION
Hiibsch and Jiirgen Ploog, various Prenzlauer Berg writers from the former GDR, and younger authors like Jorg Andre Dahlmeyer and Thomas Noske tried to reanimate the beginnings of pop and new alternative marketing structures. The term Social Beat was created at a 1993 meeting in Berlin: the first part of the expression describes the desire for a renewed artistic community, the second is a reference to the literature of the Beat Generation. More simply, Marc Degens defined it simply by saying that 'everything that doesn't belong to the established literature industry is all Underground or Social Beat'.30 In the context of reviving the underground idea, a new form of literature presentation was subsequently able to assert itself: the Poetry Slams, a.k.a. Slam Poetry. The first Poetry Slams were held in Chicago in 1986: authors competed with their texts on stage in front of an audience and the audience, or a randomly selected jury, decided who won and lost. Since the beginning of the 1990s, there have been German Literature Championships and most major cities (and even minor ones) have their Poetry Slams. But the direction has changed. Initially the Slams served as an outlet for those who did not have a venue in which to perform their work, and were therefore a kind of underground open-mike event. Most recently the Slams have become events for entertainment and recruiting comedians like Johann Konnich. As the Slams became better known and better attended, 'as far as their content was concerned' they could 'only partially - as a faction of the under-underground - be thought of in terms of counter-culture'.31 Social Beat and Slam Poetry have become distinct from one another. While writers like Tanja Diickers, Kersten Flenter, Jan Off and Philipp Schiemann, who have since become well-known, tiave continued to develop', as Boris Kerenski notes, and 'have emancipated themselves from the scene mentality a long time ago', the labels themselves are considered to be demeaning by young writers.32 In any case, the activities of the 1990s' self-styled 'Underground' and 'Trash' activists point to an attempt to occupy alternative niches, performance styles and locations, and publication methods, by referencing the Beat movement and other US impetuses. Numerous anthologies and primarily smaller publishing houses document the variety of approaches that have developed from this point. A third group that should be mentioned is the Kanaksta, a relatively
recent phenomenon in German literature. With his book, Kanak Sprak. 24 Misstone vom Rande der Gesellschaft (1995), Feridun Zaimoglu was the main initiator of the movement. Here, he collected stylised interviews with 24 second- or third-generation immigrants. Making a distinction from the 'guest worker literature' of the 1970s that created a lot of consternation, Zaimoglu defines this 'Kanak Sprak' or literally 'WopTalk' as 'a kind of Creole or argot with secret codes and signs. Their speech is related to the freestyle sermon in rap. In both, one speaks from within a particular pose'.33 Zaimoglu had already published pieces in the context of leftist pop and looked into the new hip hop and rap scenes. For some reviewers, the language and contents of his work are barely distinguishable from that of the mainstream pop literature. Yet his characters and their conflicts have their roots in a completely different social, cultural and usually economic background than those of mainstream pop writers. Zaimoglu disqualifies the literature of those in the mainstream as 'infantile writing' ('Knabenwindelprosa') and 'reactionary arts and crafts' ('reaktionares Kunsthandwerk'): with their 'consumer brochures' ('Konsumentenbroschuren'), these 'unbridled middle-class losers' occupy the new 'centre', 'Neue Mitte', of the new Berlin Republic.34 With his Abschaum (1997), Koppstqff (1998) and Liebesmak, scharlachrot (2000), 'Kanak Sprak' became more widely known. First, Joachim Lottmann published Kanaksta. Geschichten von deutschen und anderen Auslandern (1999) which contains pieces by Zaimoglu and Selim Ozdogan, among others). Jamal Tuschik then produced the anthology Morgenland Neueste deutsche Literatur (2000) collecting pop writers like Zaimoglu, Ozdogan, Sarah Khan and Franz Dobler, along with the Bachmann Award winner Terezia Mora. Tuschik's point of departure is 'that German literature gets intensive fertilisation from the ethnic margins of society' and that the Kanaksta, or Near and Middle Eastern, writers 'use the availability of double cultural selection to their advantage'.35 These authors do not have their roots in the Anglo-American world, for the most part, yet are familiar with its music and movies. Consequently, a new form of pop literature arises within another frame of reference, a form that can transport the linguistic expression of the most diverse and marginalised groups. This notwithstanding, 'Kanak Sprak' literature can be problematic when it dissolves into empty posing and becomes indistinguishable from mainstream pop literature.
GERMAN POP LITERATURE AND CULTURAL GLOBALISATION
CONCLUSION In this short history of German pop literature, it has become apparent that such literature would be unthinkable without the constant adaptation of international influences, indeed, that this represents perhaps its most important accomplishment. The most important influences on German pop literature come from the United States (Fiedler's media theory, Beat literature, Pop Art), Great Britain (punk, cultural studies), France (poststructuralism), and, more recently, from the 'Orient'. It should be noted that the expression pop literature does not really exist in the supposed countries of origin, the US and Great Britain - probably because the link to pop culture is a given. In (West) Germany local forms of pop literature have been emerging only with some difficulty since 1968, and for a long time these existed outside of the literature industry proper. Only since 1995 has a form of pop literature been able to establish itself within the 'normalisation' tendencies of the Berlin Republic. This pop literature has become part of the literary mainstream, having abandoned the subculture and underground, and draws its inspiration from writers like Fllis and Hornby. The specifics of German pop culture lie in the fact that for a long time it was not anchored in the dominant culture in the way pop culture in the Anglo-American world was and, accordingly, presented itself as a projection screen for strategies of resistance. Therefore, it was possible for German-speaking pop writers to attack both the prevailing culture and the existing alternative cultures at once and independently conduct a form of release. Thus they adapted pop literary techniques (montage, sampling, cut-up) and topics relevant to these techniques such as speaking freely about drug use and sexual experiences, crossing borders of consciousness. This happened in two ways. Advanced pop literature experimented, from the 1960s onwards, with new ways of writing and went against the grain of prevailing ideas, music and ways of speaking by referencing them ironically and with sham affirmations (Brinkmann, Fichte, Vesper, early Goetz, Meinecke, Roggla). The underground movement strived to identify niches outside of the literature industry and within the lifestyles that they portrayed in their writing (Fauser, Hubsch, Ploog, Genius Dilettantes, Social Beat, Kanaksta movement). Both directions
distinguished themselves over time such that approaches today are quite varied. However, it makes little sense to reduce the term pop literature to one characteristic such as archiving, a term that has been widely overused and has become little more than a cliche. Instead, we should be concerned with determining the various pop literary techniques, contents and strands of development in individual works. Here, writers such as Meinecke, Roggla and Zaimoglu would offer productive points of departure for any further investigation of the relationship between contemporary pop literature and globalisation.
Translated by Heather Fleming
Notes 1 Translator's note: I have tended to provide the original German when the quotation is from a literary text or an author in interview or essay, or, in the case of secondary literature, when there seems to be some merit in providing a critic's original words. 2 Moritz Bafiler, Der deutsche Pop-Roman. Die neuen Archivisten (Miinchen: Beck, 2002), p. 184. 3 Johannes Ullmaier, Von ACID nach ADLON und zuruck. Eine Reise durch die deutschsprachige Popliteratur (Mainz: Ventil, 2001), p. 11. 4 Thomas Ernst, Popliteratur (Hamburg: Europische Verlagsanstalt, 2001). 5 Leslie Fiedler, 'cross the border - dose the gap', Playboy (December 1967, p. 230). In German as 'Das Neue Zeitalter der neuen literatur', Christ und Welt (13 and 20.09.68). Here, 'Uberquert die Grenze, schliefit den Graben! Uber die Postmoderne' in Uwe Wittstock (ed.), Roman oder Leben. Postmoderne in der deutschen Literatur (Leipzig: Reclam, 1994), 14-39, p. 14. 6 Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, 'Angriff aufs Monopol. Ich hasse alte Dichter'. First printed in Christ und Welt (15.11.68) in Uwe Wittstock (ed.), Roman oder Leben, op. tit., pp. 65-77, p. 56. 7 Martin Hubert, Politisierung der Literatur - Asthetisierung der Politik (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1992), pp. 253-4. 8 Jorgen Schafer, Pop-Literatur. Rdf Dieter Brinkmann und das Verhaltnis zur Popularkultur in der Literatur der sechziger Jahre (Stuttgart M & P, Verlag fur Wissenschaft und Forschung, 1998), p. 100. 9 Wolfgang Muller (ed.), Geniak Dilletanten (Berlin: Merve, 1982), pp. 11-12. 10 Maxim Biller, 'Soviel Sinnlichkeit wie der Stadtplan von Kiel'. Originally in Die Weltwoche (25.07.91). Here, Andrea Kohler and Rainer Moritz (eds.), Mauthelden und Konigskmder. Zur Debatte uber die deutschsprachige Gegemvartsliteratur (Leipzig: Reclam Verlag, 1998), 62-71. 11 Martin Hielscher, 'Nachwort' in Martin Hielscher (ed.), Wenn der Kater kommt. Neues Erzahlen - 38 deutschsprachige Autorinnen und Autoren (Koln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 19%), p. 320.
GERMAN POP LITERATURE AND CULTURAL GLOBALISATION
12 Andreas Neumeister and Marcel Hartges, 'Vorwort: Tecstasy' in Andreas Neumeister and Marcel Hartges (eds.), Poetry! Slam! Texte der Pop-Fraktion (Reinbek: Rowohlt, 1996), 13-16, p. 15 13 Matthias Politycki, Die Farbe der Vokde. Von der Literatur, den 78ern und dent Gequake saner Frosche (Miinchen: Luchterhand, 1998), p. 5. 14 Johannes Ullmaier, Von ACID, op. tit., p. 42. 15 Diedrich Diederichsen, "The Kids are not alright, Vol. IV - Oder doch? Identitat, Nation, Differenz, Gefuhle, Kritik und der ganze andere Scheifi' in Diedrich Diederichsen, Frtiheit macht arm. Das Leben nach Rock'n'Roll 1990-93 (Koln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1993), 253-83, p. 254. 16 Tom Holert and Mark Terkessidis, 'Einfuhrung in den Mainstream der Minderheiten' in Tom Holert and Mark Terkessidis (eds.), Mainstream der Minderheiten. Pop in der Kontrollgesellschaft (Berlin: Edition ID-Archiv, 1996), 5-19, p. 6. 17 Hubert Winkels, 'Grenzganger. Neue deutsche Pop-Literatur', Sinn und Form. Beitriige zur Literatur, 51:4 (1999), 581-610, p. 585; Johannes Ullmaier, Von ACID, op. tit.; Thomas Ernst, Popliteratur, op. cit. 18 See the chapter by Frank Finlay on Kracht's Faserland in this volume. 19 Hubert Winkels, 'Grenzganger. Neue deutsche Pop-Literatur', op.cit., p. 605. 20 Quoted in Christof Siemes, Schwane im goldenen Nebel. Wias verbindet die neuen deutschen Literaten? Ein Autorentreffen in Tutzing, Die Zeit, April 2000. 'Die alten Avantgarde-Zopfe habe man ja nun erfolgreich abgeschnitten, [...] aber dann 1st alles leider in eine andere Richtung gelaufen, als wir alle hofften. Die neue Literatur 1st nur wie GervaisFrischkase - die leichte Alternative'. 21 'Ein schnelles, kurzes Leben'. Alexa Hennig von Lange im Interview in KulturSpiegel 8/1999, p. 46. 'Ich will nicht ewig eine Pop-Autorin sein. Dieser Stempel nervt mich'. 22 Thorsten Liesegang, 'Die Wiederkehr der Popliteratur als Farce', Krisis. Beitriige zur Kritik der Warengesellschaft, 25/2002,155-62, p. 155. 23 ibid., p. 155. 24 Hubert Winkels, 'Grenzganger. Neue deutsche Pop-Literatur', op.cit., p. 603. 25 Moritz BaSler, Der deutsche Pop-Roman, op. tit., p. 151. 26 'Ich stehe ja nicht wirklich uber dem Stoff. Der spricht durch mich durch. Eigentlich bin ich nur ein Radchen innerhalb des Ganzen [...] Dadurch kann ich das alles mal durch mich durch reden lassen, diesen ganzen Diskurs durch mich durch plappern lassen. Und dabei asthetisch rumpfriemeln'. 27 Cited in Jochen Bonz, meinecke meyer musik erzahlt (Osnabriick: Intro, 1998), p. 48. 'Die politischen Verhaltnisse sind doch weitaus schlimmer als zur Zeit der Notstandsgesetze, aber gleichzeitig lasst sich nicht handeln. Darum holt man sich sein Riistzeug aus der Theorie'. 28 Cited in Johannes Ullmaier, Von ACID, op.tit., p. 166. 29 Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Kafka. Fur eine kleine Literatur (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1974), pp. 38-9. 30 Marc Degens, 'Im Un- und Hintergrund. Von der literarischen Sackgasse zum Social Beat und zuriick'. In: Martin Busser u.a. (eds.), Testcard Nr. 7. Beitriige zur Popgeschichte. Pop & Literatur (Mainz: Ventil, 1999), 224-31, p. 230. 31 Johannes Ullmaier, Von ACID, op.cit., p. 149. 32 Boris Kerenski, 'Social Beat - Stimmen aus dem Underground', Journal der Jugendkulturen, 4/2001,46-61, p. 60.
33 Feridun Zaimoglu, Kanak Sprak. 24 Misstone vom Rande der Gesellschaft (Hamburg: Rotbuch, 1995), p. 13. 34 Feridun Zaimoglu, 'Knabenwindelprosa. Uberall wird von deutscher Popliteratur geschwarmt. Aber sie 1st nur reaktionares Kunsthandwerk. Eine Abrechnung', Die Zeit (18.11.99). 35 Jamal Tuschick, 'Nachwort. Trager von Zukunftsinformationen' in Jamal Tuschick, Morgenland. Neueste deutsche Literatur (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 2000), 283-92, pp. 286-92.
'Dann ware Deutschland wie das Wort Neckarrauen': surface, superficiality and globalisation in Christian Kracht's Faserland Frank Finlay
A key feature of the literary market place since German unification has been the dramatic expansion in the range of what publishers have put forward as 'serious' literature. With this has come a greater convergence, in terms of choice of themes and aesthetic characteristics, with other Western literatures.1 This shift has been brought on, for the most part, by 'emerging writers' in their 20s and 30s - dubbed by the media the 'grandchildren' of the generation of Boll, Grass and Walser2 - a number of authors in their 30s and 40s such as Georg Klein and Michael Kumpfmuller, for whom success came later in life but in correspondingly greater measure, and up-and-coming professional readers such as Martin Hielscher, one-time commissioning editor at the Cologne publishing house Kiepenheuer & Witsch. Whether of 'the generation of 78' or 'the generation of 89', these individuals are frequently characterised as relatively unburdened by the legacy of the Nazi past which so preoccupied older postwar writers. At the same time, they are also seen as lacking the reforming zeal of 'the generation of 68' which preceded them in positions of influence in the media and culture. In aesthetic terms, moreover, younger writers are considered to be inhibited by neither a modernist scepticism towards fiction narrated in a 'readable' way, nor by revolutionary proclamations of the 'death of literature' as a bourgeois institution. In the second half of the 1990s, in particular, the traditional delineation between 'high art' and 'trivial American' culture
gave way to a celebration of entertainment, stylistic pluralism and a focus on everyday personal concerns. This emerging literary concept was often described as a neue deutsche Lesbarkeit. Younger writers thus looked to Anglo-American role models such as Raymond Carver, William Gaddis, Bret Easton Ellis and Nick Hornby, frequently adapting them to the German context in a process of what might be termed, pace the economist Roland Robertson, literary 'glocalisation'.3 In the mid-1990s, literature briefly became the new rock and roll: authors' public images were carefully nurtured and their media presence skilfully managed via exclusive interviews, glossy photoportraits, celebrity appearances on terrestrial and satellite TV, and performance-style public readings in unconventional venues. Christian Kracht, the subject of this chapter, even participated with his friend and occasional collaborator, Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre, in an advertising spread for the fashion house Peek and Cloppenburg. And, of course, in a world of globalised communications no self-respecting author is without his or her own personal website, as the internet offers a ubiquitous medium for self-promotion.4 More than ever before, young writers became branded products, cultural 'dotcoms', as it were, who were able to command inflated advances from publishers keen to market indigenous writers in the face of the spiralling costs of securing rights to the works of foreign authors.5 From the mid-1990s onwards, as Dieter Stolz's chapter in this volume demonstrates, there was a bull market in the novels of so-called Debutanten and a boom in the various segments created within this market. Here, the so-called literarische Frauleinwunder, which catapulted young female authors, such as the photogenic Judith Hermann, to commercial and critical success, is one of the most obvious examples; Beth Linklater's chapter in this volume examines some of the authors associated with this phenomenon.6 Yet the overemphasis on personality and appearance - with good looks regarded as essential - frequently served to homogenise disparate literary works at the expense of a serious engagement with their aesthetic complexities. This failure to engage has been most evident in the often-heated discussion surrounding the so-called Neue deutsche Popliteratur, or new German pop literature, of which Christian Kracht is very much the figurehead. This was not a literary movement in the conventional sense,
'DANN WARE DEUTSCHLAND WIE DAS WORT NECKARRAUEN'
but a marketing umbrella term that could be applied to a loosely related group of writers, all of whom share a focus on quasi-autobiographical writing concerned with issues of lifestyle and relationships. Top' was seen as a reaction to the profoundly earnest and socio-political literature of earlier generations, as its authors typically set out to examine life's superficial sensations. Drug and alcohol abuse, casual sex, parties, travel and shameless consumerism all featured in their imaginative portrayals of the wonders of the trivial. Thus the novel Soloalbum (1998) by Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre uses Britpop band Oasis' song titles as a structuring device. It is a book about broken relationships, reminiscent of Nick Hornby's High Fidelity, and quickly became a bestseller, with a film version, directed by Gregor Schnitzler, released in March 2003. Livealbum (1999) purports to be Stuckrad-Barre's diary of taking his novel on a reading tour the length and breadth of Germany. The author, furthermore, has attracted attention as a scriptwriter for taVcmeister Harald Schmidt - an icon of popular German television and for his own show on MTV. This form of media crossover is a further characteristic of the new pop literature. Swiss-born Kracht, scion of a senior executive in the Springer media conglomerate, made his name, like Stuckrad-Barre, as a popular journalist with the now defunct magazine Tempo, as sometime Delhi correspondent for Der Spiegel, and as a travel and lifestyle writer for the conservative broadsheet Die Welt am Sonntag. An anthology of these latter contributions appeared in 2000 under the title of the original newspaper series.7 His first novel, Faserland, was published in 1995 by Cologne-based Kiepenheuer & Witsch, one of the prime promoters of young German authors such as Stuckrad-Barre, Elke Naters and the precocious Benjamin Lebert. Their proselytising commissioning editor, Martin Hielscher, presented these writers, and others, under the 'pop' banner at symposia and in the broadsheet and academic press.8 Kracht's second novel, 2979, was subsequently a critical and commercial success in 2001. Faserland is often credited with giving impetus to the new pop wave, and Kracht's involvement in the self-styled 'pop-cultural quintet' Cpopkulturelle[s] Quintett'),9 with Stuckrad-Barre, Joachim Bessing, Eckhart Nickel and Alexander von Schonburg, arguably constituted its high-water mark. This group of 2Q-somethings ensconced itself for a
192 FRANK FINLAY long weekend in April 1999 in Berlin's premier luxury hotel, the painstakingly rebuilt Hotel Adlon - a prime architectural example of postmodern nostalgia for fin-de-siecle, Wilhelmine Germany. There they consumed large quantities of champagne and tape-recorded both scripted musings and unscripted ramblings on their favourite brands, commercials, fashionable designers and unfashionable pop music, interspersed with cultural criticism of the synthetic nature of the incipient 'Berlin Republic'. They also enumerated such life-enhancing details as the way lavatory paper in the Adlon is folded into a triangle at the end. The book Tristesse Royale, styled as 'a portrait of the life of our generation' ('ein Sittenbild unserer Generation'),10 was effectively the 200-page edited transcript of this weekend jamboree. In tandem with much-hyped public readings, a critical opprobrium was provoked that was intense even by the often combative standards of the review sections of the serious German press, predisposed, as it is, to debating the health of German literature. The ire of critics was directed pars pro toto at much of the new pop literature: Tristesse Royak was dismissed for its arch celebration of style, surface and blinkered consumerism; its unashamedly elitist disdain of all things proletarian, and as the semi-aristocratic, amoral infantilism of the idle-rich. A damning Der Spiegel report of the quintet's performance in the Berlin venue Barjeder Vernunft may be regarded as typical of the overwhelmingly negative tenor of the reception.11 While acknowledging that being satiated to the point of nausea with the superfluity of one's sense of self within an ever-mutating culture is a predicament which might produce serious literature, Germany's most prominent news magazine dismissed the quintet as nothing better than young-fogeyed 'perfumed dandies'. Even Kracht was to concede that Tristesse Royale, with the 140 exclusively slating reviews it attracted, had been a grave mistake.12 The critical assessment of Tristesse Royale was in fact an exaggerated version of the broadly hostile reactions that Faserland had provoked four years earlier. At that time similar doubts had been expressed as to whether the latter text could be taken at all seriously as a work of literature.13 Where critics did agree was that while the novel's commercial success - it sold in large quantities and rapidly attracted a cult following — was unpalatable, it did provide tangible evidence of
'DANN WARE DEUTSCHLAND WIE DAS WORT NECKARRAUEN'
a broader socio-cultural phenomenon. The novel proved the existence of a generation of young people, like Kracht, born in the decade from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, who in complacent and hedonistic fashion embraced the fads, artefacts and commodified personalities of Americanised popular culture - a phenomenon which has recently come to be closely associated with globalisation. Further 'globalised' characteristics of the generation were its rampant individualism, its fetishisation of the consumer products of American neo-liberalism, and the celebration of surface over substance, depth and political engagement. Not long after Tristesse Royale, a 28 year-old journalist on the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and one-time literary critic, Florian Ulies, provided this generation with its own brand name. Generation Golf thus entered the ever-expanding lexicon of popular cultural slogans as a German approximation of Douglas Coupland's Generation X. Coupland's book had itself given voice to the concerns of growing numbers of North American 20-somethings, contending with an uncertain future of low-paid, temporary jobs in the shifting economic climate of the early 1990s.14 lilies' book, taking its title and chapter headings from an advertising campaign by Volkswagen Motors - the eponymous 'Generation' being a designated target market - and subtitled 'Eine Inspektion', was ostensibly an attempt at a phenomenology of his generation, via an extrapolation of its putative shared experiences. In practice, the approach is nostalgic, unlike Coupland's, with the focus primarily on the consumer and media products and the celebrities enjoyed during the 1980s by the pampered benefactors of West Germany's economic success. The consumption of popular commodities in the broadest sense - TV shows, Nutella chocolate spread, Playmobil toys, tennis star Boris Becker, etc. - is thus adduced as the site of collective consciousness and identity, with the acquisition of a VW Golf elevated to the status of a rite of passage to maturity. In the context of the present chapter, it is noteworthy that lilies should claim Kracht's novel Faserland as the quasi-bible of the 'Generation Golf and laud it inter alia as 'a wonderful book' that congenially adapts US-novelist Bret Easton Ellis' fascination with branded labels - as found in his American Psycho - to 'the world of German products' with 'liberating' results. Kracht, he contended,
broke a number of taboos, such as admitting that deciding between a green or a blue Barbour jacket was more important that how to vote.15 Style and surface thus rank far higher in a hierarchy of priorities. This is consistent with Illies's general characterisation of the 'Generation Golfs' privileging of aesthetic and economic considerations and its general indifference to political issues, neatly encapsulated in an earlier statement that his generation has stronger views on sartorial and investment matters - whether to wear socks with sandals and which dotcom shares to purchase - than on Germany's participation in NATO's military intervention in Kosovo in early 1999 (GG, 121). In my analysis of Faserland in this chapter, I shall first explore the aspects of the novel which give rise to lilies' interpretation before showing that it is based on a purely one-sided reading.16 Far from being simply a celebration of style and surface, Kracht's hapless protagonist is in fact a casualty of consumerism. Moreover, I will argue that the novel also engages at a deeper level with some of the discourses of identity construction in post-unification Germany, a phenomenon already signalled by its rather obviously punning title that evokes 'frayed land' and 'fatherland'. Christian Kracht's Faserland is the document of a most-likely imagined journey17 which, like many recent pop novels, replicates the teenage skazz narrative style of books such as J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, with which it has been frequently compared.18 This term is used to designate a particular type of first-person narration that has the characteristics of the spoken as opposed to the written word: repetition, slang, exaggeration and uncomplicated syntax, with the informality of discourse being a guarantor of authenticity.19 Kracht's unnamed firstperson narrator is a man of indeterminate age but most likely in his late 20s. Like his creator he is the product of the elite Swabian private school of Salem, enjoying almost unlimited financial means. In an extended interior monologue Kracht's narrator relates his passage in a succession of expensive sports cars, trains, planes and taxis, from the island of Sylt in the northernmost flatlands of Germany southwards to the Alpine Swiss city of Zurich, via Hamburg, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Munich and Lake Constance, with brief sojourns in exclusive hotels, private apartments and villas whenever necessary. Each station of the journey, including a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, is described in one of the
'DAMN WARE DEUTSCHLAND WIE DAS WORT NECKARRAUEN'
novel's eight chapters. The action, such as it is, revolves around the narrative 'Ich's' visits to fashionable bars and discos, sybaritic house parties and raves, in the company of a motley band of old schoolfriends and acquaintances he makes en route, all fuelled by a diet of alcohol and nicotine. At each station of his journey, the well-healed denizens he encounters indulge their predilection for mind-altering chemical substances and sexual gymnastics: all staples of pop literature and arguably closer in theme and setting to Ellis's debut novel of 1985, Less than Zero, than to American Psycho, contrary to what lilies has suggested.20 The narrator is a latter-day dandy and misanthrope, who is seemingly committed to the almost lost art of idleness ('Miifiiggang')21 and whose one ambition in life is to master the art of blowing smoke rings (F, 31). His identity and, with it, his sense of individuality, reside in what he considers to be his unerring eye for the aesthetic qualities of life's ephemera: hairstyles, cars, bars, clubs, popular music, drinks, lifestyle accessories, and, above all, expensive clothes. Faserland is thus a catalogue of precisely observed disquisitions, often intemperate, sometimes cynical and occasionally funny, on the relative merits of brands, labels and individual taste. For example, the narrator sings hymns to his Barbour and Kiton jackets. Indeed, an assiduous university student has counted no fewer than seventy such mentions of brand names throughout the book and published his findings on the internet.22 In Germany's highly affluent society, therefore, where access to designer global goods and a public stage to parade them is a mass phenomenon, a finer calibration of taste is required to maintain an elite sense of self. For example, even in the first chapter, 'Ich' (T) deploys his keen eye on his schoolfriend Karin's escort, Sergio, and immediately categorises him on the basis of his pink Ralph Lauren shirt and 'old Rolex' watch (F, 14). That this is a negative assessment only emerges some eighty pages later - the narrator prefers to purchase all his shirts from the high-class tailor Brooks Brothers and extols their many qualities over Ralph Lauren: they are cheaper, better made, genuinely stylish and have the added virtue of not having a 'stupid polo shirt logo' emblazoned on the chest (F, 88). Sergio, who briefly features as a rival for Karin's affections and reappears in the penultimate chapter, is thus relegated as aesthetically inferior. Beauty
196 FRANK FINLAY may be skin deep, but cost alone is insufficient to vouchsafe it. When mass-produced, expensive designer labels are so ubiquitously visible, logo-free understatement and true craftsmanship and style offer greater kudos in the dress code of the self-chosen and enlightened few. The narrator also vents his spleen on all manner of the less affluent, whom he finds guilty of some sartorial crime. The language of 'Ich's' denigration is particularly noteworthy. For example, a flatulent Hamburg taxi driver is branded a 'fascist' and a 'poor stupid Nazi pig' ('ein armes dummes Nazischwein'), not so much, as one might initially expect, because of his articulation of intolerance towards the Hafenstrafie commune - a bastion of Hamburg's alternative culture but merely because he is clothed in a tracksuit (F, 34). Similarly, the pensioner in corduroy hat and aubergine blouson whom Karin so very nearly mows down in her Mercedes S-Class on Sylt is 'doubtless a Nazi' ('sicher ein Nazi', F, 16). That the narrator's comment makes Karin laugh may reveal his humorous intent, but is insufficient to alter the fact that such a traditionally loaded lexical item is stripped of its negative political denotation and connotations and resignified as a term of aesthetic abuse. In one of the narrator's most remarkable diatribes, he maintains, with an unapologetic awareness of his own absurdity, that inelegance is somehow determined by the biological dock, with all Germans beyond a certain age looking like 'complete Nazis' ('komplette Nazis', F, 89). Hence the text abounds in references to the ugly and malodorous elderly, a time of life reached in the narrator's eyes after the age of forty. It is wholly consistent with 'Ich's' completely aestheticised and hyperbolic judgements that what one might term his 'fashion nazis' are equated with the real phenomenon. Accordingly, he imagines that another taxi driver has been a concentration camp guard (F, 90). Conversely, a member of the older generation, of whose uningratiating demeanour he approves, is given a positive past in his imagination: he imagines the night porter in the Hotel 'Alt Heidelberg' to have been a victim of the privations on the Eastern Front (F, 84). The Nazi past is instrumentalised to underscore the narrator's critique of purely aesthetic phenomena and point up his lack of interest in real politics. It should now be clear why Christian Kracht's Faserland has come to be regarded as a seminal text for a generation of young Germans who could identify their own lifestyle predilections, mores and prejudices
'DANN WARE DEUTSCHLAND WIE DAS WORT NECKARRAUEN'
within it. Indeed, the novel projects what one reviewer has characterised as Trodukt- und Name-dropping-Realismus'.23 Yet it is precisely this aspect that has attracted criticism. Rose Bartmer in a recent article on Kracht and co. has thus alighted on the dialogic nature entailed by such 'name-dropping' and argued that the direct and allusive references made to currently fashionable products serve to create an 'in-group' identification which is ultimately affirmative. With a narrowly conceived target audience, pop texts, it is further argued, function only in their actuality. Their value and importance are thus as transient and ephemeral as the goods and fashions they celebrate.24 Other critics have come to similar conclusions, with pop writers arraigned on the charge that by reproducing the language of lifestyle features and television in bestselling novels they have betrayed the potential for social critique which pop literature can afford. This was present in the 'subversive' and 'experimental' texts of German writers such as Rolf Dieter Brinkmann and his precursors in the American 'Beat Generation'.25 In the remainder of this chapter, however, I will argue that a more nuanced approach can reveal a text of greater thematic complexity, despite the undoubted obsession with surface and appearance. The narrator of Faserland at no point embraces his 'pop' lifestyle with self-confidence or enthusiasm. He regards the seemingly endless round of Dionysian parties, the licentious delights of which are of overriding importance to his friends such as Nigel (F, 32), with considerable circumspection. The same is true of the ubiquitous drugs he ingests only rarely, and because of peer-group pressure, in the knowledge that they are basically revolting (F, 37). His conformity to the codes of interaction of his social circle is determined by an incapacity to form and maintain meaningful relationships. Similarly, his increasingly desperate journey through Germany takes place precisely because he finds it 'terribly difficult' to make the acquaintance of 'decent people' (F, 92). This is the source of his existential unhappiness. It heightens his vulnerability, desensitises his social antenna and, as a consequence, leads him into situations that merely confirm his social isolation. The house party in Heidelberg, to which the charismatic and seemingly pleasant Eugen invites him is but one example of a social disaster, insofar as he has to extricate himself from the heavy-handed overtures of a host who turns out to be homosexual.
198 FRANK FINLAY The adult 'Ich's' problems with emotional intimacy are most evident in his relations with the opposite sex and are underscored by the novel's most important leitmotif: nausea accompanied by vomiting and other physical eruptions. This is signalled from the outset when the narrator registers discomfort at having consumed too much food. In subsequent pages a dog defecates expansively on the pavement and a young man vomits on his turquoise Porsche Convertible (F, 17). Echoing Sartre's novel La Nausee (1938; Nausea, 1949), there are numerous such instances throughout the text, with various forms of the word kotzen ('to puke') recurring. 'Ich's' first love brings only a traumatic break-up, described in a scene which bears more than a passing resemblance to an episode in Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting. The protagonist is invited by his girlfriend's parents to spend the night in their guestroom, only for him to vomit and empty his bowels over the bed linen. His childlike inability to control his bodily functions leads him to flee in shame, never to return (F, 28-9). This pattern of brief closeness, followed by a physical revolt and resultant lasting fissure is repeated frequently in the narrated present of the text. At every stage, the protagonist either pulls back from physical/sexual intimacy with women, often having instigated it in the first place, amid feelings of nausea, physical illness and embarrassment. When Nadja, the girl with whom he has happily and drunkenly flirted during the Heidelberg party, reveals herself to be a heroin user, the narrator feels alone and under threat; he subsequently loses his sense of emotional equilibrium and promptly collapses (F, 100-2). The cold detachment of the aesthetic gaze, his raison d'etre, and the assured sense of judgement which makes him an arbiter of taste - what the narrator calls his 'Sehscharfe' or his 'keen eye' - is sacrificed whenever intimacy or alcohol and drugs feature. This is not only confined to the objects of his sexual desire. For example, his attempts to establish telephone contact with his estranged friend Alexander result in an uncontrollable eruption of vomit over his own clothes (F, 71). Even his encounter with an elderly woman with semi-aristocratic bearing and a penchant for the works of Ernst Junger, seated next to him on his flight from Hamburg, is marred by his soiling himself. This time the yoghurts he has taken from the Lufthansa complimentary stand burst in his pocket, 'as if I had filled my pants'
'DANN WARE DEUTSCHLAND WIE DAS WORT NECKARRAUEN'
(F, 55). While Anke Biendarra is surely right to note that such incontinence is primarily the expression of his quasi-metaphysical nausea,26 the extent to which it also betokens an arrested emotional and physical development and a consequent sense of isolation should not be ignored. In relation to the overarching theme of the present volume, it is significant that the narrator's emotional and physical collapse in Heidelberg is followed by reflections. His thoughts combine loathing of his contemporaries with self-hatred and also generalise his own predicament into a warning of the fragility and ugliness of a Western way of life, a life based on consumption at the expense of the poorer countries of the world. By comparison with people in the west, 'Ich' believes the ostensibly badly-dressed inhabitants of the former socialist east in their tracksuits to be more patient, quiet, and indeed aesthetically superior to his fellow-citizens from the west of Germany with their predilection for slurping oysters in luxurious shopping malls. Moreover, he almost welcomes the inevitable migration of the "great unwashed masses' from Moldavia, the Ukraine and White Russia (F, 102), implying that this would be a fitting punishment for the excesses of the west. The narrator's malheur and nausea, together with such a sense of vague, dark and impending foreboding (F, 123) at the untenability of Westernised society's current existence, contrast markedly with the recollections of his childhood and adolescence which punctuate the text. These are triggered, in best Romantic tradition, by olfactory associations. Childhood was a time of successful, albeit fleeting friendships. Unlike the expressions of opinion and prejudicial judgements in the narrated present, which are either immediately qualified or hedged, 'Ich's' childhood memories are not marked by equivocation. Moreover they provide the troubled narrator with rare occasions when he feels at ease with himself. Thus, for example, memories of a holiday friendship on Sylt prompt 'Ich's' fleeting acceptance of his literally unclothed self (F,74). There is an additional dimension to the protagonist's feelings of ennui and nausea, which leave him bereft of friends and emotional ties. Not only do his countrymen and women disgust him, this disgust is also generated and exacerbated by his physical environs. Thus his existential malaise is projected onto present-day Germany, as the
numerous depictions of the grey and synthetic cityscapes with their mandatory pedestrian precincts and concrete television towers reveal. Frankfurt is singled out as the ugliest and most repulsive of German cities (F, 62). The high-rise and over-priced office blocks of its banking quarter are denigrated as the inanimate and soulless embodiment of the financial might of a country, proud of its status as a leading industrial nation in a globalised world. At the city's 'overpowering' hulk of an international airport (F, 61), 'Ich' notes the imperfect renderings into English of the advertising slogans. All of this is in sharp contrast to the attractive indigenous young women of the city and one of the vestiges of its local culture, the traditional glasses in which the cider-like brew 'Appalwoi' is served (F, 75). In similar terms, the brutal functionalism of Hamburg airport is contrasted with Berlin's pre-war Templehof airfield. In Ich's' view, this encapsulates the downgrading of air travel from the erstwhile preserve of the wealthy with the advent of mass tourism, and the passing of an era when to fly was a sublime, even manly experience (F, 51). Consequently, a truly popular phenomenon, as with the access to all but the most expensive designer goods referred to previously, is equated with vulgarisation and the profane. Little wonder that the narrator fondly recalls the nimbus of self-importance surrounding his fellow travellers when, as a seven-year-old he jetted off to his family's Italian villa. This is a further instance of a positive childhood reminiscence (F, 47). In a novel which depicts a nauseated journey through Germany, it is significant that the very phenomenon which, since unification, was designed to pull the frayed threads of the erstwhile divided country closer together - a new generation of high-tech, high speed trains - is a primary target of the protagonist's revealingly fierce invective. In transit from Sylt to Hamburg on the ICE, Ich' notes the sealed and tinted windows of the air-conditioned carriages - complete with suctionflushing chemical toilets - and longs nostalgically for the rudimentary ones of his childhood, while dismissing the train's interior decor as dreadful and stomach-churning. This theme is then taken up during a journey to Karlsruhe on an Interregio service in which the buffet car, unlike its ICE-equivalent, the 'Bistro', goes by the name of 'Bord-Treff'. Finding at least some comfort in the fact that he is served an indigenous mineral water in place of the usual global brands, albeit of an inferior
'DANN WARE DEUTSCHLAND WE DAS WORT NECKARRAUEN'
variety, the narrator inveighs against the 'Bord-Treff' as 'this monstrosity in the middle of their tasteless trains', and condemns it as a vile and gigantic impudence. Particular venom is reserved for the besuited and bespectacled advertising executives who, before decamping to sample real culture at their holiday retreats in Tuscany (F, 78-9), dreamed up the name, in what he terms a failed effort to combine something cosy and resonant of 'Heimat', a sense of 'home', with a sense of speed. The use of the possessive pronoun in the phrase 'their trains' underscores the extent to which 'Ich' believes himself to inhabit an alien world. Instead of reuniting the country physically and symbolically, the trains simply embody the synthetic nature of modernday Germany - in contrast to the putative authenticity of Italy - as they act, quite literally, as the vehicle for a homogenising global culture.27 In order to avoid a potentially uncomfortable encounter with the reallife guru of trend analysis, business consultant Matthias Horx, the narrator leaves the train at Heidelberg. It is here that we get an inkling of what he regards to be the source of his homeland's present predicament. 'Ich' reminds us that the city, as the chosen site for the future US headquarters in Germany, was spared destruction by Allied bombing. As a result, even its subsequent Americanisation as 'Old Heidelberg', complete with Pizza Hut and sportswear shops, cannot dent its appeal as the locus of an unbroken German tradition. Moreover, unlike other German cities, Heidelberg is beautiful, particularly because spring arrives there earlier and people can sit out in the sun in the meadows by the river Neckar, which the locals refer to as the 'Neckarauen': That's what it's really called, you've just got to try and picture it, no, even better, say it really loud: Neckarauen. Neckarauen. It does your head in, the word does. That's what Germany could be like, if there hadn't been a war and if the Jews hadn't been gassed. Then Germany would be like the word Neckarrauen. (F, 81 ).28 Instead of being a permanent and stable /home' - as vestigially present in Heidelberg and as potentially beautiful as the word 'Neckarauen', in which the narrator luxuriates - the Federal Republic is a synthetic, Westernised product of a genotidal war. All it offers are the ludicrous hybrid 'Bord-Treff', or the foreign loan 'Bistro' on its trains. Their
perpetual motion and consumption contrasts with the rootedness, the security and tranquillity which the protagonist seeks and which he experienced with a sense of transcendent emotion during an otherwise disastrous two hours on the Greek island of Mikonos (F, 134). Another feature of contemporary Germany that 'Ich' finds repulsive is its alleged culture of excessive moralising. This is thematised in the novel through the narrator's insouciant, often politically reactionary outbursts at soft and predictable targets, such as those directed at Varna, with whom he competes for the affections of his erstwhile schoolfriend, Alexander. Varna is caricatured as the young woman ubiquitous at art exhibition openings in any number of German cities. Here she consorts with 'badly-dressed artists' and regurgitates what she has read in specialist publications, whether on painting, hip-hop, or pop cultural theory in the manner of Diedrich Diedrichsen. In addition, she makes vocal political pronouncements, ranging from condemnations of rightwing radicalism to an advocacy of environmental politics. The narrator finds Varna 'so cheap, so predictable, so stupidly liberal' (so billig, so vorhersehbar, so liberal-damlich') and, unable out of deference to his friend to vent his violent dislike, settles on provoking her with outrageous statements, ultimately leading to a row with Alexander and the rupture of their friendship (F, 68-70). He heaps similar bile on proponents of the left-liberal consensus, members of the SPD who, in yet another act of provocative resignification, are dismissed as 'SPDNazis'. There is even some recognition that the aggression, the 'Kampfhaltung', developed by himself and 'the people I know and like', is an act of defiance against the impositions of conformity on personal liberty and the 'terrible Nazi-life here' (F, 66). Putative, overweeningly proscriptive codes of moral behaviour and thought are thus a further constituent of the narrator's aesthetic disgust for Germany, and impact deleteriously on his sense of self and his personal relationships. In this context, the many 'reactionary' and polemical sentiments expressed in the novel can be seen as acts of deliberate defiance and provocation. For example, 'Ich' construes a Hamburg taxi driver's silence as evidence of someone who regularly marches in political demonstrations, enviously coveting his expensive, hand-made Kiton jacket. He then recalls why he himself has attended demonstrations: not out of any conviction, but for the aesthetic delight at the adrenaline rush when he witnesses eighty
'DANN WARE DEUTSCHLAND WIE DAS WORT NECKARRAUEN'
police wielding their batons on a pathetic demonstrator too stupid to tie the laces properly on his Doc Marten's shoes.29 This sequence ends with 'Ich' giving the taxi driver an ostentatious tip, so that the latter will in future be able to identity his class enemy (F, 26). Conventional attitudes of the left-liberal consensus with regard to the Third Reich are also challenged. The tree which marks the half-way point on the Salem pupils' cross-country run - known locally as the Tolenlinde' because two Polish foreign workers were hanged there by the Nazis in punishment for the theft of a loaf - has but one connotation for the narrator: it is associated strictly with school sports, and he resists any attempts to impose an alternative interpretation on it (F, 138). The hateful rejection of the Westernised culture of the Federal Republic and the politics of its 'do-gooders' by the narrator of Kracht's Faserland engages with some of the presuppositions of the so-called New Right. Such presuppositions have driven much of the conservative reorientation of German self-understanding in the wake of unification, and have been the object of considerable scrutiny, not least by Germanists.30 Thus the alleged tyranny of the left-liberal consensus, construed, in a localisation of an American phenomenon, as 'political correctness'31 and embodied in the novel by Varna and the 'SPD-Nazis', is one of the symptoms of cultural malaise diagnosed by the writer Botho StrauS. StrauS' 1993 Spiegel essay 'Anschwellender Bockgesang', later the centrepiece of the edited collection Die selbstbewuftte Nation, is often credited with having launched the new intellectual conservatism. The insistence on public commemoration of German guilt and the concomitant invasion of private memory are the phenomena at the heart of the controversy generated by another writer and intellectual, Martin Walser - a self-styled victim of political correctness - in his acceptance speech of the German Publishers' Peace Prize, as Stuart Parkes notes elsewhere in this volume.32 And there is much in the description of the materialist consumer society, its ruptured German traditions occasioned by the crimes of the Nazis, and its lack of spirituality, which chimes with the main tenets of the cultural critique of writer and academic Karl Heinz Bohrer.33 Indeed, there is cause for viewing Kracht's Faserland as a prototype for the reconnection with at least one element of the tradition of nineteenth-century European modernism, for which Bohrer has consistently argued; namely the
aestheticist or decadent variety represented by Charles Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde or Joris Karl Huysmans. Thus the complacent, hedonistic, prosperous, neurotic and nauseated 'Ich's' cynical rendering of senseimpressions, while being wholly uninvolved with social or political problems, and with a tendency to focus on the morbid are all staples of decadent literature, as is the emphasis on reflection over action.34 This may well explain the positive discussion of the novel in Bohrer's journal Merkur, and why the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung referred to it as 'the most misunderstood book of the 1990s', in a feature devoted to identifying canonical literary texts for the present day.35 In the final chapter, 'Ich' crosses the border into Switzerland where he takes up residence in a luxury hotel by the lake in Zurich. In a country protected by its political neutrality from the ravages of war and able to maintain its unaligned status in the postwar settlement, the narrator senses a potential home. Zurich, with its medieval flavour, provides a sharp contrast to the unremitting grey of German cities, flecked, as it is, with all manner of white. Switzerland is referred to as the great leveller; a part of Germany ('ein Teil Deutschlands') where everything is not so bad. More honest and transparent, the narrator wonders whether it might offer a 'solution to everything' ('eine Losung fur alles', F, 147). The aesthetic and physical delight of being in Switzerland - there are references to further positive characteristics, ranging from the Swiss German language to the country's beer - and its potential for a more authentic existence is emphasised by a shift in the chronology of the novel. Whereas the action of the previous seven chapters was condensed into sojourns lasting only a matter of hours, we are told in the opening lines of Chapter Eight that the narrator has already been in his new location for two whole days. In addition, 'Ich' is no longer afflicted by his allergic rejection of food and his appetite returns. He even manages to finally blow a smoke ring (F, 145). It is in Switzerland that the narrator has a fleeting vision of a Utopian existence in the rarefied atmosphere of an alpine idyll. From his lofty retreat, he imagines that the 'great machine' that is Germany on the flatlands below would no longer attract his gaze and would simply cease to exist (F, 149). Here, 'Ich' is able to imagine that a future generation the children of his fanciful union with the actress Isabella Rossellini would be liberated by this absence of Germany and, it is implied, might
'DAMN WARE DEUTSCHLAND WIE DAS WORT NECKARRAUEN'
find some transcendent happiness (F, 150). Emboldened by such thoughts of life on this intertextual magic mountain, it is little wonder that the narrator embarks on a search for the grave of Thomas Mann, a writer whom he admired at school and for whom Switzerland provided an adopted homeland after years of exile. 'Ich's' kitsch imaginings of the future, however, prove as fleeting as those of his childhood. His quest, like all his others in the novel, is unsuccessful, thwarted in this instance by a defecating dog, which brings both him and the reader full circle. The implications of the novel's open ending, with its deployment of stock motifs of impending death and allusions to Goethe's poem Ein Gltiches are clear.36 Only suicide can provide the narrator with transcendent relief from the ugly immanence of his fatherland. Christian Kracht's Faserland, while bearing many of the hallmarks of a 'pop' novel is therefore far from a mere affirmation of the lifestyle associated with his generation. A close reading of the text reveals it to be a decadent misfit's chronicle of his unhappiness, boredom, nausea and ultimate hatred of a world of surface and superficiality. It is also the expression of a romantic longing for a more authentic world which is submerged, like the lost town of Rungholt on Sylt, whose bells the narrator imagines hearing as a child (F, 15), beneath the preoccupation with style and surface. Moreover, many of its themes reflect the ongoing debate on German identity that has been a feature of the years since unification. The troubled 'Ich's' journey leads him to the realisation that his conformist attempts to anchor his disorientated and unhappy self in the ephemera of a globalised society, in which consumption provides the only scale of values, is insufficient as a basis for a fulfilling existence. Contemporary Germany thus emerges as an inhospitable land of one-dimensionality that offers no sense of rootedness, of Heimat. Its embrace of a plutocratic culture and a putative totalitarian and suffocating 'political correctness' results in spiritual vacuity and the dissolution of biographical experience and local identity. In this regard, the pun in the title suggests not only a mispronunciation of the English 'Fatherland', but also reflects the culturally hybrid monster which Germany has become for some amongst a younger and more conservative generation.
Notes 1 See Frank Finlay and Stuart Taberner, 'Emerging Writers: Introduction', German Life and Letters 55:2 (2002), 131-6, p. 131, and Stuart Parkes, 'Drowning or Waving: German Literature Today', in Stuart Taberner and Frank Finlay (eds.), Recasting German Identity. Culture, Politics, and Literature in the Berlin Republic (Rochester: Camden House, 2002), 257-72, p. 263. 2 See the title of the cover story by Volker Hage in the weekly news magazine, Der Spiegel, published on 11 October 1999, close to the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, to mark the last Frankfurt Book Fair of the millennium, 'Die Enkel kommen' (41/1999), 244-50. 3 See Roland Robertson, Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture, (London: Sage, 1992) and his article 'Globalisation or Glocalisation?', Journal of International Communication, 1:1 (1994), 33-52. 4 See www.christiankracht.com. 5 Stuart Parkes, 'Contemporary German-Language Literature: The Changing Agenda' in Arthur Williams, Stuart Parkes and Julian Preece (eds.), German-Language Literature Today: International and Popular? (Berne: Peter Lang, 2000), 1-18, p. 2. See also the introduction to Thomas Kraft (ed.), aufgerissen. Zur Literatur der 90er Jahre (Munchen: Piper, 2000), particularly pp. 11-12. 6 See Peter Grave's 'Karen Duve, Kathrin Schmidt, Judith Hermann: "Bin literarisches Frauleinwunder"?' Germal Life and Letters 55-2 (2002), 196-207. 7 Christian Kracht, Der gelbe Bkistift (Koln: Kiepenheuer und Witsch, 2000). 8 Thus Top - das Esperanto der Gegenwart7, a conference at the Evangelische Adademie Tutzing, with numerous authors in attendance (November 2001) as reported in the Feuilleton of the Frankfurter Mlgemeine Zeitung (27.11.01). See also Martin Hielscher's 'Literaturbetrieb im Wandel', Neue Gesellschaft 47:11 (2000), 679-81, and his 'The Return to Narrative and to History: Some Thoughts on Contemporary German-Language Literature' in Arthur Williams, Stuart Parkes, Julian Preece (eds.), Literature, Markets and Media in Germany and Austria Today (Bern: Peter Lang, 2000), 295-309. 9 The term doffs a cap of postmodern irony towards the 'literarisches Quartett' of professional critics, including the notorious Uteraturpapst Marcel Reich-Ranicki, whose monthly TV book programme played such an important role in the marketing of literature in the 1990s. 10 Tristesse Royale. Das Popkulturelle Quintett (1999). Paperback edition (Munchen: List Verlag, 2001), p. 11. 11 'Die faselnden Fiinf', Der Spiegel 49 (06.12. 99). 12 'Der schlechteste Journalist von alien', Der Tagesspiegel (01.07.00). 13 See Anke Biendarra Tter Erzahler als "Popmoderner Flaneur" in Christian Krachts Roman faserland', German Ltfe and Letters 50-2 (2002), 164-79, p. 165. A short review in the Frankfurter Allgememe Zeitung FAZ (22.05.95) was among the notable exceptions: 'Trendforscher im Interregio. Fur Besserbekleidete: Christian Krachts Deutschland'. 14 Douglas Coupland, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture (London: Abacus, 1992). 15 Florian lilies, Generation Golf. Eine Inspektion (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer [paperback edition] 2001), pp. 154-5. Hereafter GG. 16 A fact which applies in equal measure to Dlies' reading of Ellis' American Psycho which finds merit primarily in its TDokumentation des Markenfetischismus unserer Generation' and not in the horror that lurks beneath its surface in the schizoid shape of its main protagonist.
'DANN WARE DEUTSCHLAND WIE DAS WORT NECKARRAUEN'
17 Anke Biendarra, 'Der Erzahler als "Popmoderner Flaneur"', op. cit. makes a very strong argument for the narrative report being fictitious, which reveals itself as the narrator's failed attempt to ascertain a concept of subjectivity. 18 See for example Thomas Hiietelin, 'Das Grauen im ICE-Bord-Treff', Der Spiegel 8/1995, (20.02.95). 19 David Lodge, The Art of Fiction (London: Seeker & Warburg, 1992), p. 18. 20 Bret Easton Ellis, Less than Zero (London: Picador [paperback edition], 1996). 21 Christian Kracht, Faserland (Koln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1995), p. 129. All quotations here are from the Goldmann paperback edition of 1997. Hereafter F. 22 http://www.olafski.de/arbeiten/kracht.pdf, p. 6 (accessed 23.06.03). 23 Michael Schmitt, Trodukt-Realismus', Neue Zurcher Zeitung (05.03.95). 24 Rose Bartmer, 'Die Debutanten und der Markt', Sprache im technischen Zeitalter 162 (July 2002), 193-203, p. 202. 25 Thomas Ernst, Popliteratur. (Hamburg: Rotbuch, 2001), p. 74. See also the first chapter in Johannes Ullmaier, Von Acid nach Adlon. Eine Reise durch die deutschsprachige Popliteratur, (Mainz: Ventil-Verlag, 2001). For a more positive appraisal of the new pop literature see Moritz Bafiler, Der deutsche Pop-Roman. Die neuen Archivisten (Munchen: C.H. Beck, 2002). 26 Anke Biendarra, 'Der Erzahler als "Popmoderner Flaneur"', op. cit. p. 173. 27 See Simon Ward's examination of the metaphor of the train in works by authors from the former GDR, '"Zugzwang" or "Stillstand"? - Trains in the Post-1989 Fiction of Brigitte Struyzk, Reinhard Jirgl, and Wolfgang Hilbig' in Stuart Taberner and Frank Finlay (eds.) Recasting German Identity, op. cit., 172-89. 28 'Das heifit tatsachlich so, das mufi man sich erst mal vorstellen, nein, besser noch, man sagt das ganz laut: Neckarauen. Neckarauen. Das macht einen ganz kirre im Kopf, das Wort. So konnte Deutschland sein, wenn es keinen Krieg gegeben hatte und wenn die Juden nicht vergast worden waren. Dann ware Deutschland wie das Wort Neckarrauen'. 29 This recalls Kracht's description of a similar experience of the Quintet during their weekend in the Adlon Hotel when they vicariously enjoyed a political demonstration against the Kosovo War. 'Tristesse Royale. Berlin - Phnom Penh, 1999' Christian Kracht, Der gelbe Bleistift, op. cit., 135-8. 30 See, for example, Stephen Brockmann, Literature and German Reunification (Cambridge: CUP, 1999), particularly Chapter Five, and Jay J. Rossellini, 'A Revival of Conservative Literature? The "Spiegrf-Symposium 1993" and Beyond' in Keith Bullivant (ed.), Beyond 1989. Re-reading German Literature since 1945 (Oxford: Berghahn, 1997), 109-28 31 Sally Johnson and Stephanie Suhr, 'From "political correctness" to "politische Korrektheit": Discourses of "PC" in the German newspaper, Die Welf, Discourse and Society 14:1 (2003), 49-68, p. 52 32 See Kathrin Schodel, 'Normalising Cultural Memory? The "Walser-Bubis Debate" and Martin Walser's Novel Ein springender Brunnen' in Stuart Taberner and Frank Finlay (eds.) Recasting German Identity, op. cit., 67-84. 33 See Stephen Brockmann, Literature and German Reunification, op. cit., particularly Chapter Three. 34 See the first chapter of David Weir's Decadence and the Making of Modernism (Amherst University of Massachusetts Press, 1993), 1-21. 35 Katharina Rutschky, Toproman ist Wertherzeit', Merkur, 57:2 (2003), 106-17 and 'Christian Krachts Faserland', Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (17.03.02). 36 Anke Biendarra, 'Der Erzahler als "Popmoderner Flaneur"', op. cit. p. 179.
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Writing by ethnic minorities in the age of globalisation Katharina Gerstenberger
Public readings by minority authors often begin with an exchange between the moderator, who introduces the featured author as a representative of a particular ethnic group, and the invited guest who immediately insists on her or his status as a writer in the German language. In addition to making for a good opening, this by now customary dialogue illustrates the unstable cultural location of writing by ethnic minorities in post-unification Germany. It raises issues of reception and marketing on the one hand, and self-definition and artistic identity on the other. The classification of an author in terms of ethnic background presumes that literary output stands in a causal relationship to biography and, moreover, that the writer's non-Germanness makes her or him interesting to a presumably German audience. The minority writer's rejection of the label 'ethnic writer' in favour of 'German author' lays claim to German culture as a realm in which ethnic difference is neutralised by a common language and literature. In a country in which efforts toward linguistic and literary uniformity preceded political unification by at least two centuries, the assertion of German authorship is a liberal challenge to definitions of Germanness based on bloodlines, but it is also an argument with a long and troubled history. In the nineteenth century, Jews, Germany's most prominent ethnic minority at the time, perceived participation in German literary culture as their entry into German society. Anti-Semitic Germans rejected them as impostors whose literary achievements could not overcome racial difference. This chapter focuses on the aesthetic and
political strategies minority writers have employed since the 1990s. I shall be considering their efforts to assert their presence in Germany as contributors to German culture as they challenge two categories through which Germans traditionally imagine themselves as distinct from others: ethnicity as a marker of difference and German literature as a national tradition.1 A minority writer's claim to German authorship is thus not merely the insistence on proficiency in a language and a literary culture, but also a stance against German ethnic homogeneity and a challenge to nineteenth-century notions of literature as a national institution. Since the inception of 'guest-worker literature' or 'foreigner literature' in the 1960s, writing by ethnic minorities has been commonly understood as the literature produced by labour immigrants to West Germany. Scholars of German literature began to publish on these texts in the mid1980s, focusing on the sociological aspects of such works as documents of the double oppression of the (male) worker and foreigner.2 In the 1990s, the term 'migrant literature' (Migrantlnnenliteratur) replaced 'foreigner literature' (Auslanderliteratur), shifting emphasis from the writers' outsider status in Germany towards the fact that these authors moved to Germany from different national contexts for economic and other reasons. Included in this category are typically writers who grew up in German-speaking enclaves in Eastern Europe. A recent reference work uses the term 'intercultural literature', shifting the focus from the disparity between the authors' origins and their country of residence to the narrative responses of those living in, and with, more than one culture.3 Increasingly, critics read works by ethnic minorities in Germany as examples of transnational literature that can no longer be understood within one national tradition. The authors straddle experiences of two cultures and therefore draw on literary and linguistic traditions that transcend national boundaries.4 The conceptual shift from viewing minority writers as outsiders within the German nation to a focus on writing across national boundaries is a response to growing numbers of minorities, increasing diversity, as well as generational shifts within these populations. The terms 'guest-worker' and 'foreigner literature' imply the idea of minorities victimised by the majority, however, intercultural, migrant and transnational literature signify agency, resistance and a generally
WRITING BY ETHNIC MINORITIES IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION
more nuanced assessment of the immigrant experience.5 There is a growing emphasis on aesthetics in addition to political concerns.6 Moreover, the positions from which writers contribute to German literature proliferate, calling into question the definition of literature as a national institution: the majority of minority authors write in German, many write in more than one language,7 some have their work translated into German,8 others come from German-speaking communities in Eastern Europe,9 and some left Germany for third countries.10 Literary criticism as well is evolving into an international field of study.11 Some of the most significant contributions to the move toward transnational literature have been made by scholars based outside of Germany, mainly in Great Britain and the United States, as well as by scholars of non-German descent working in Germany. Finally, since the beginning of 'foreigner literature' in the 1960s, minority writers have been influenced by, and contributed to, developments within German literature such as the surge in working-class documentaries in the late 1960s, the emergence of feminist autobiographies in the 1970s, and the advent of pop literature in the 1990s. Writing by ethnic minorities, then, has never been separate from German literature, and today is increasingly shaped by transnational contexts and developments. Scholars from a number of disciplines have, in recent years, attempted to account for the experiences and cultural practices of people who live outside the nation in which they were born. Much of this work is being done in fields other than literary criticism, but some of the terms developed in other areas of research have gained currency in literature studies as well. Diaspora, according to a definition suggested by anthropologist James Clifford, describes groups of people in different national contexts away from a place of origin, nevertheless that place of origin retains its importance in the self-understanding of the group. The relationship to more than one place, according to Clifford, leads to the subversion of nationality.12 Diaspora studies are less concerned with literature in particular and more with culture in general, but writing by ethnic minorities reflects some of the ideas central to diaspora. Identity, a concept favoured by feminists and sexual minorities in the 1970s and 1980s to assert non-traditional subject positions, reappears as a plural category in diaspora studies, with multiple and hyphenated designations seeking to account for
relationships to more than one nation. Borders - both as political demarcation and as metaphorical delineation - and travel have emerged as analytical concepts central to the understanding of the movement of people, ideas, and goods in a globalised world.13 Inspired by the theory generated through diaspora and globalisation studies, the term transnational literature has gained prominence among scholars who use it to describe a growing body of literature concerned with borders and borderlands between cultures and the identities emerging from these locations. American critic Azade Seyhan counts among the first scholars to analyse writing by ethnic minorities in Germany with a theoretical framework alluded to above. Referring to diasporic literatures she argues: 'The critically transformative stage is a borderland of different languages, rites of passage, and the negotiation between myth and reality, memory and presence, madness and reason, and factual account and revolutionary experimentations in language and style'.14 Other critics, most notably US scholar Leslie Adelson, are primarily concerned with the German context and the contributions of minority writers to German literature and culture. Adelson, whose work focuses on Turkish writers, insists that ethnic minorities should not be viewed in dichotomy to Germans, urging us instead to examine the 'production of German literature by "Turkish" and "German" authors alike'.15 Perhaps somewhat optimistically and with an intentionally less scholarly approach, the editors of a recent volume of the Chicago Review dedicated to 'New Writing in German' ascertain that the distinction between 'German' and 'foreign' writers no longer holds in light of the 'real cosmopolitanism of contemporary literature'.16 Whether cause for celebration or subject of scholarly investigation, writing by ethnic minorities challenges us to redefine the boundaries of German literature. Minority writers in Germany, to be sure, do not speak with one voice. Not all of them explore ethnic difference in their works and some address ethnicity in settings outside of Germany.17 Perikles Monioudis, a Swiss writer of Greek descent who lives in Berlin, for example, does not focus on ethnicity or diaspora communities; his latest novel is a love story which takes place in mid-1990s Berlin.18 Set in non-German locales, Terezia Mora's short stories explore the writer's native Hungary as a multiethnic society in the wake of the Austro-Hungarian
WRITING BY ETHNIC MINORITIES IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION
Empire.19 Turkish-born writer Feridun Zaimoglu, by contrast, amplifies notions of ethnicity as a response to German stereotypes of Turks with his aggressive-playful depictions of second-generation Turks as social renegades.20 This chapter focuses on recent works by three writers of different ethnic minorities in Germany whose texts emphasise the unreliability of ethnicity as a marker of difference, without denying its reality in social practice. Movements of people and goods, in particular intellectual merchandise, are a central theme in these narratives, with borders and travel figuring prominently in their respective functions of separating and connecting. Poet, novelist, and essayist Zafer §enocak belongs to the TurkishGerman minority. Of the approximately seven million foreigners who live in Germany, about two million are of Turkish descent, making Turks Germany's largest minority. As a consequence, most Germans associate 'ethnic literature' with writings by the descendents of Turkish 'guest workers'.21 Yoko Tawada is a Japanese-German writer who lives in Germany and publishes in both German and Japanese. Unlike $enocak, she is not 'representative' of a minority population in Germany, yet in her work she responds to the European perception of Asians, in particular Asian women, as exotic and erotic foreigners. Both moved to West Germany before 1989. Wladimir Kaminer, finally, is a Russian who came to East Germany in 1990 and obtained a residence permit because he is also a Jew. Kaminer has made a name for himself with his journalistic observations of daily life in post-unification Berlin, in the tradition of Joseph Roth and Franz Hessel. He does not claim affinity with contemporary German-Jewish writers but like Joseph Roth he is interested in Berlin as a multi-ethnic city. In concert, these three writers challenge readers to reflect on the cultural function of ethnicity in post-unification German society, pushing against a still prevailing sense among majority Germans that Germanness is an ethnic category. This common theme highlights the connection between their respective groups rather than the differences suggested by demographics, their history in Germany and public perception. While none of these writers has come to Germany as a direct result of global economic processes, their texts are contemplations on German society in the age of globalisation.
ZAFER §ENOCAK Zafer §enocak is one of Germany's most sophisticated observers of, and commentators on, the challenges to German identity posed by the presence of 'foreigners'. Born in Ankara in 1961, he moved to Germany in 1970, where he attended high school and later university. To date, he has published three novels as well as several volumes of poetry and essays. He also translates into both German and Turkish. His often complicated plots, with multiple narrators and perspectives, draw the reader into identities in flux across national boundaries. Ethnicity, for §enocak, is a transnational category. While some of §enocak's texts reflect on the situation of Turks in Germany, the majority of his writings challenge this very dichotomy by introducing characters or subject positions that defy classification. His 1998 novel Gefdhrliche Verwandtschaft, for instance, features a protagonist of Turkish-German-Jewish descent who currently lives in Berlin but has made his home in other cities and countries as well.22 The plot revolves around recently discovered family documents that need to be translated from Turkish into German, an undertaking made more difficult by the fact that they are written in Cyrillic letters. In the end, the protagonist gives up on the translation altogether and decides to tell the story of his Turkish grandfather and author of the diaries without the benefit of original sources. Fiction wins out in the competition between historical fact and the possibilities of creative writing. In a self-reflective move characteristic of much of §enocak's work, the novel chronicles the creation of literature that spans several national contexts, languages, and histories.23 Connecting German-Jewish refugees in Turkey during the Nazi period with Turkish characters involved in the Armenian genocide and Turks in contemporary Germany, the novel reflects on the emergence of diaspora communities across national histories. §enocak's most recent prose piece, his 1999 novel Der Erottomane, confronts the reader with an intricate aesthetic structure comprising of multiple narrators, competing narrative perspectives, texts within the text, and geographic locations that resist being located on a map.24 Part detective story, part travelogue, part erotic novel, Der Erottomane defies generic categorisation. The subtitle 'A Foundling Book' ('Bin Findelbuch') explains the absence of a reliable narrator and refuses
WRITING BY ETHNIC MINORITIES IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION
the idea of identifiable authorship.25 Even more so than Gefdhrlkhe Verwandtschaft, Der Erottomane challenges the reader to accept ambiguity. The frame story involves a nameless Berlin writer of undisclosed ethnic background and his friend Tom, a prosecutor and German citizen of Turkish descent, who changed his name from the unambiguously Turkish Tayfun to the possibly German Tom. Tom is investigating the murder of a man whose badly decomposed body has washed ashore Berlin's river Spree. The dead man has left behind a manuscript, the Findelbuch of the subtitle, which consists of a loosely associated series of stories about travel and erotic desire. To complicate matters further, the Findelbuch contains descriptions of a journey the narrator of the frame story had hoped to undertake, and features a Turkish-German prosecutor named Tom with a Doppelganger called Robert. Tom, it turns out, is most likely the author of the Findelbuch, which the narrator quickly understands to be his friend's thinly veiled attempt at establishing himself as a fiction writer. The frame story's narrator returns Tom's text, together with a draft of his first chapter on the same material. According to this version, the victim, whose demise is interpreted as the fulfilment of a death wish at the hands of a prostitute, was a writer so unsuccessful that the tax authorities did not expect to collect any revenues from him. The deceased leaves behind an oeuvre of several thousand pages, mostly in German but also in Turkish. The creation of fiction as a transnational process, in which neither the writers nor their works are bound to one national language and culture is a recurring theme in §enocak's work. §enocak's writers, for whom ethnicity is a personal rather than a public identity, possess a heightened sensibility for multiple literary and cultural traditions. Their ethnic background does not predetermine which traditions these might be, and to which uses they are going to put them. Travel and sexuality achieve a thematic unity in the otherwise loosely connected series of narratives that make up Der Erottomane, bringing into contact disparate people propelled by commercial and sexual desire.26 The journeys, whose reality is impossible for the reader to determine, lead travellers of undisclosed national background from Europe to Asia, to which they seem to have personal and historical affinities. One voyager, who describes himself 'half Asian and wholly European' ('als halber Asiate, als ganzer Europaer', E, 16) justifies his
need to travel because he does not feel completely at home in a Europe where his non-European forefathers established themselves on European territory. Much like Europeans of previous generations settled on the lands of his ancestors. As a result of colonialism and subsequent postcolonial migrations, the descendents of neither colonisers nor colonised are 'heimisch' ('at home') in contemporary Europe. The mixing of populations due to nineteenth-century European expansionist politics has severed the connection between people and place that is so central to German Romantic thought, replacing it with a sense of permanent dislocation. A sequence in the Turkish-German writer's Findelbuch entitled 'Reports from an Imaginary Journey' ('Berichte von einer imaginaren Reise') takes the reader to Constansa, Odessa and Batumi, destinations around the Black Sea in both Europe and Asia, and finally Baku on the Caspian Sea. The brief tales link all four cities to Turkey through references to economics, culture or the writer's family history, underlining Turkey's geographic and cultural presence on both continents. A further section in the Findelbuch titled 'The Antique Book Dealer' ('Der Antiquar') evokes Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities with its detailed description of a city that is impossible to place geographically or historically. The protagonist of 'Der Antiquar' buys a bookstore in a town he barely knows with the purpose of putting its holdings in chronological order. In the process, he finds old maps of the unnamed city in a language he cannot read, but which nevertheless aid his orientation in a town whose rulers have forbidden the possession of maps. The change of script brings to mind the shift from the Arabic to the Latin alphabet in Turkey in 1927 and the loss of cultural orientation caused by Turkey's state-mandated turn toward Europe. References to political oppression and economic deprivation abound in the short narrative, and the protagonist abandons his self-chosen task of sorting the books in his store before he gets to those volumes printed during the time of the revolution when the authoritarian regime took over and turned the city into 'a lump of earth clinging to the skeleton of its former beauty' ('ein am Gerippe seiner einstigen Schonheit hangender Erdklumpen', E, 39). No mythical places of origin, the unnamed travellers' Eurasian destinations are burdened with the political and ecological problems of many postcolonial nations.
WRITING BY ETHNIC MINORITIES IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION
If travel is a way to counterbalance the discomforts of home in the age globalisation, sexuality in Der Erottomane is the other force that propels the protagonists to move rather than to settle. A couple of lesbian lovers, apparently a Turkish and a French woman, live in Berlin because in Paris every love liaison turns into 'a literary affair full of quotations and allusions' ('literarischen Angelegenheit voller Zitate und Anspielungen', E, 76), while Turkey frowns upon such relationships. Berlin, it seems, is both prosaic and tolerant enough to permit same-sex relationships. Temporary, yet intense, erotic experiences beyond the ordinary, most of which take place between dominant women and submissive males, disengage the protagonists from the constrictions of family, home, and singular location. The mistress of Tom's Doppelgimger Robert, for instance, who left her family at the age of sixteen by crossing the Berlin wall, is at home nowhere, and travels incessantly, departing for the desert after having deflowered Robert in an act of painful anal sex (E, 65). The transgression of gender roles and the crossing of bodily boundaries he experiences at his mistress's hands liberate Robert from notions of traditional masculinity and instil in him an enhanced sense of self that is inaccessible to his more assertive alter ego, Tom (E, 68). Sadomasochistic exchanges serve to delimit male sexuality and, importantly, restore the male characters' ability to write. The mistress doubles as muse and the narrator, unlike some of the female characters, cannot imagine 'a more pleasurable way for a woman to be bothered by man than in the admittedly old-fashioned way of being cast as muse' ('auf angenehmere Weise von einem Mann belastigt werden, als auf diese zugegeben altmodische Art?', E, 6). In contrast to the sado-masochist exchanges, into which the male characters enter on their own free will, ethnicity and the fantasies it triggers are not experienced as liberating. The narrator of the frame story ends a relationship with a woman who exoticises him as 'Asian'; the brothel is the only place where Tom/ Robert reveals his ethnic background because racial fantasies do not figure in the commercial sexual exchange. One of the most disturbing stories, set in the American South, involves the sexual torture of a brown-skinned nine-year-old boy adopted by a white couple. The objects of racialised desires appear as the novel's true victims. Der Erottomane is a literary reflection on the politics of writing across national boundaries, generic categories and aesthetic traditions. Unlike
their Romantic predecessors, §enocak's voyagers have no home to leave and to return to and are not in search of a self, while the novel's characters are not clearly distinguishable from one another. The figure of the writer as narrator, victim and prosecutor pushes further the notion of no home and 'no one place' from which the reader could solve the riddle of the protagonist's vexed nature. The sexual scenarios share certain characteristics with Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's contractual cruelties, but §enocak's women, unlike their nineteenth-century counterparts, are not reintegrated into a patriarchal order once the role play is over. Gender and ethnicity, those basic ingredients of identity and identity politics, can be manipulated, expanded and disguised. Toward the end of the novel, the dead writer's unpublished works attract the attention of a specialist on German Romanticism. The fragmentary structure and the Doppelganger-motif of Findelbuch suggest that the Romanticism specialist should be well qualified to analyse these works. In addition, the writer's Turkish-German duality, his mutually exclusive roles as author, victim and investigator, the importance of travel, as well as a play with gender roles are radical appropriations of the Romantic tradition. §enocak returns to Romanticism, often deemed the political and literary origin of a specifically German tradition,27 and claims its aesthetic means for his transnational literary project.
YOKO TAWADA Born in Tokyo in 1960, Yoko Tawada has lived in Germany since 1980 and writes in German and Japanese. To date she has published more than 20 books of prose, poetry, drama and essays in both languages. Several of her volumes contain works in both German and Japanese. Dream images, surrealist sequences, stories within stories, and poetic reflections on language abound in her work, which also endows her prose texts and her critical works with a lyrical quality. In Germany, Tawada tends to be cast in a role of exotic uniqueness, since she is neither a descendent of guest workers nor a representative of a significant minority in Germany. The perceived archaic quality in her writing is often attributed to the author's Japanese background.28 Foreignness and femininity are prevalent topics in Tawada's work.
WRITING BY ETHNIC MINORITIES IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION
Borders, travel and body images, together with reflections on language and translation result in stories in which the predominantly female protagonists do not fit seamlessly into their often, but not exclusively, German environments. Yet what foreignness means and how the protagonists are positioned in their surroundings varies and remains inconclusive. In a story entitled 'Das Leizpig des Lichts und der Gelatine' ('The Leipzig of Light and Gelatine'), published in 1991 in a German translation from the Japanese, Tawada describes a mysterious journey from the west to the east shortly after the opening of the Berlin Wall.29 Combining economic, cultural and ethnic aspects, Tawada's story argues that the unification process reaches well beyond what many contemporaries believed to be a uniquely German experience. On her way from Berlin to Leipzig for the purpose of selling her unidentified merchandise, the narrator spends several hours in front of a defunct customs booth at the Friedrichstrasse train station, fooled by a posted note stating that the officials are on their lunch break. Having internalised the existence and the procedures of this border during a trip from East to West ten years prior, the narrator finds herself in a borderland that unbeknownst to her has lost its function as a border. While she is waiting, an older woman whom the narrator presumes to be 'no Asian but certainly from the "East"' ('keine Asiatin, aber bestimmt aus dem "Osten"', LL, 8) offers her a drink from a kettle with two spouts. The strange kettle together with her unflattering dress and nylon bag identify the vendor as Eastern to the narrator, who has never consumed a beverage that does not have a brand name and, moreover, is poured from a two-sprouted kettle. To the narrator's surprise, the kettle, which she dismisses as an archaic household item obsolete in the modern world, contains two different types of juice, namely grape and blackcurrant. The condescending remark about the old-fashioned kettle reveals the narrator's 'Western' identity to the vendor, even though she is 'no European or American' ('keine Europaerin oder Amerikanerin', LL,9). The narrator's exclusive reliance on internationally recognised products underscores her identity as a participant in a global economy. She believes the reference to the two types of juice to be a test designed to expose her as an Asian incapable of distinguishing between distinctly
European beverages. She buys both at the outrageous price of ten marks only to learn that despite their different colours both drinks taste like flat Coca-Cola. Passing off the quintessential brand name beverage as local products, the Eastern European vendor outsmarts the East Asian traveller on her way to conduct business in the eastern German city of Leipzig. The Friedrichstrasse train station, defunct as a border and, in 1990, neither East nor West, is the site of a battle between 'east' and 'west' over economic opportunities. 'East' and 'west' are at once ethnic, political and economic categories whose meanings are complicated in this encounter between an Eastern European seeking to capitalise on the border situation by adapting a global product to the local economy of the train station, and an East Asian woman who must negotiate between her 'Western' economic background and her 'Eastern' ethnicity. Having learned that the customs officials will never return from their lunch break, the narrator gets on a windowless bus destined for Istanbul via Leipzig, among whose passengers are foreign workers and German skinheads. During the course of the journey across Eastern Europe, foreigners will become locals and locals will turn into strangers, rendering the moving bus a microcosm of globalisation and its conflicts. An accident in the no man's land of the former border between West Berlin and East Germany brings the journey to a premature end. Again trapped in a borderland that no longer serves as a border, the narrator, once more plagued by thirst, tries to reach Leipzig on foot but is not certain that she will reach her destination. Pursued by a spy who tries to steal her business idea, she soon is involved in another battle of wits. Unlike the many west Germans who tried to capitalise on the east German demand for Western consumer goods immediately following the opening of the Wall, the narrator's enigmatic merchandise requires no factory and can be produced out of her head. This suggests that she wants to sell stories in Leipzig, a city with a long tradition of a printing and publishing industry. The central image that gives the story its title refers to gelatinecovered glass plates large enough to accommodate the body imprints of grown men and women. Going back to the early history of photography and the use of coated glass plates to record the photographic image, Tawada's protagonist takes literally the idea of fixing an image on glass
WRITING BY ETHNIC MINORITIES IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION
plates and imagines life-size imprints that are created without the help of a camera. The living human bodies have a direct impact on the quality of the image as the gelatine refracts the light depending on the amount of moisture they emit. The body, whose gender but not its ethnicity can be discerned in the imprint on the gelatine-coated glass, is integral to the processes of writing and printing. In the end, the narrator marches toward Leipzig imitating the rhythm of a printing machine, knowing that her ever-changing stories cannot be published because they 'exist only as long as one goes through borderlands' ('existieren nur, solange man durch Grenzgebiete geht', LL, 26). She assumes, however, that before reaching Leipzig she will transform herself into one of those printing machines without which stories cannot be turned into commercial products (LL, 26). Tawada's 1991 story is a poetic response to German unification. Its surreal settings and events are literary adaptations of concrete places and occurrences. The narrator's complicated identity as an economic Westerner, an ethnic Asian, and a writer make it impossible for her to occupy a singular position. The now defunct customs booths and border zones are non-places which enable the invention of stories that can neither be summarised nor printed due to their changing nature (LL, 26). Tawada's borderland is no comfortable place and her thirstplagued narrator knows that she cannot stay there. Her impending transformation into a printing machine suggests that economic success comes at the price of self-reification. Transformation, translation and fluid states of being are central to Tawada's literary texts which often double as aesthetic theory. In her 2001 volume Opium fur Ovid. Ein Kopfkissenbuch von 22 Frauen, Tawada reinvents female figures from Greek mythology and lets them reappear in contemporary settings.30 Written in German, these stories rework myths of European origin from a feminist perspective. The writer Coronis, for instance, whose Greek model had betrayed the god Apollo and paid for the adultery with her life after his child had been cut from her belly, is a prize-winning poet and refugee from the former Soviet Union now at home in Hamburg. She refuses to answer questions pertaining to her national background and declines to help the police prosecute a group of Russian Mafiosi whose conversation in the streetcar she could understand. Asked to comment on her literary role models,
she answers that '"I do not wish to have ancestors and to bear offspring"' ('"Ich mochte keine Vorfahren haben und keine Nachkommen zeugen"', OfO, 91). Tawada's characters chafe at the restrictions imposed by identity and tradition. Rather, their metamorphoses are aimed at escaping from contexts in which gender, ethnicity, as well as art are rigidly defined. Their ongoing efforts at moving beyond such limitations suggest how real the confines continue to be. Tawada's settings are not limited to Germany and her characters' ethnicity is often unspecified. In 'Notizen auf den Lofoten', a short piece from 1996, a firstperson narrator travels to the remote Norwegian Lofoten Islands.31 The narrator, whose ethnic identity is unclear (though her refusal to eat fish on a Friday suggests that she is neither Norwegian nor Catholic), playfully creates false etymologies across several European languages, compares religious traditions as different as Greek mythology and Catholicism, and comments on Scandinavian food preferences. Her outsider status is not that of a victim, but rather that of an observer who is thoroughly familiar with European culture and creative in its interpretation. By relating European cultures and histories from an outsider position, she makes the seemingly familiar strange and empowers the observer. In Tawada's lyrical, often dream-like and highly associative texts, ethnicity loses its contours and becomes as fluid as her writing.
WLADIMIR KAMINER Born in Moscow in 1967, Wladimir Kaminer counts among the bestknown 'ethnic' writers in contemporary Germany. In contrast to §enocak's and Tawada's multi-layered literary engagements with questions of identity, Kaminer writes easy-to-consume journalistic pieces about post-unification Berlin's immigrant community. A Russian Jew who first came to Germany in 1990, Kaminer quickly became a member of Berlin's young writer scene who also made a name for himself as a radio host and the organiser of a Russian-style dance event in a popular bar. His prominence in Berlin as a Russian who reports on foreigners in a city that takes pride in its cosmopolitanism quickly turned him into one of Germany's most recognised 'ethnic' voices. His
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recent collections Russendisko (2000), which had sold more than 300,000 copies by late 2003, and Schonhauser Allee (2001) are vignettes of contemporary life, mainly among immigrants, in eastern Berlin.32 In Die Reise nach Trulala, published in 2002, Kaminer expands his scope beyond Berlin and explores travel in the post-Soviet era, observing citizens of the former Soviet Union as they enjoy their newly-won freedom to travel in the West. He also looks at German citizens on journeys through the countries of the former Soviet Union.33 Kaminer's stories are more directly biographical than §enocak's and Tawada's, giving his observations an unmediated quality. In the opening chapter of Russendisko (2000), Kaminer describes how in the summer of 1990 the rumour spread in Moscow that Germany was issuing residence permits to Jews from the Soviet Union. Karniner's first-person narrator, who can show proof that both his parents are Jewish, has no problem acquiring residence papers at the designated office in Berlin's south-western suburb of Marienfelde. The identity he takes up, however, is not that of the persecuted Russian Jew who finds refuge in Germany. The stories assembled in Russendisko, some of which were first published in newspapers, explicitly refute German assumptions about the plight of Jews in the Soviet Union. His father's career, the narrator insists, was hampered by the intricacies of Soviet party politics rather than anti-Semitism.34 He is a Jew for German officials only, at all other times he describes himself as a Russian in Berlin. The narrator refuses membership of Berlin's Jewish community and the situation of Jews in Germany is not a topic Kaminer pursues in his essays. He insists that his departure from Moscow was a 'spontaneous decision', inspired by the low fare for a train ticket to Berlin and the promises of the German welfare state. By identifying himself as Russian but not as Jewish, Kaminer confirms the observation that the majority of Russian Jewish immigrants to Germany have secular identities. Though there are no explicit references in Karniner's work to the German-Jewish literary and journalistic tradition to which we owe the rich imagery of 1920s Berlin, his keen observations on German society, in particular in relationship to its ethnic minorities, recall writers and journalists like Joseph Roth or Franz Hessel, who explained the city of Berlin and its diverse population to their readers. For Galician-born Joseph Roth the Nazi book-burnings on 10 May 1933 in Berlin were not
only the end of German-Jewish literary culture, but the defeat of a European intellectual tradition.35 Kaminer, like Roth an immigrant from Eastern Europe, continues the tradition of city writing in the age of globalisation, describing Berlin as a multiethnic contact zone. For Kaminer, ethnicity is a category to which the majority of Germans link certain expectations which are then served-up by the immigrant population. In a piece on Berlin restaurants, for instance, Kaminer describes the phenomenon of restaurant owners posing as members of the nation whose food they serve, even though - obvious to the narrator but presumably not to the German guests - they do not belong to that nation.36 As long as Germans demand that an Italian restaurant must be run by Italians, Kaminer suggests, they deserve to be duped by the Bulgarians posing as Turks in a Doner snack bar or, for that matter, the Russian immigrants who manage to show that they are Jews on paper. 'Nothing here is genuine, everyone is himself and at the same time someone else', the narrator of the short story 'Geschaftstarnungen' concludes.37 As long as the Germans insist on a seamless connection between appearance and ethnic identity they will be deceived by the immigrant who passes for a member of the ethnic group that seems most advantageous in a given situation. Performance for the Germans and the identity an individual might actually claim, Kaminer suggests, are two separate entities. Instances of violence and discrimination against foreigners in Germany are a serious and often raised concern. Kaminer shifts the attention from the immigrant as potential victim to the immigrant as someone who playfully contests German assumptions about her or his outsider status. 'Schonhauser Allee im Regen' ('Schonhauser Avenue in the Rain') is the story of a young Vietnamese girl whose habit is to stand deep in a puddle after heavy rain outside a busy shopping centre on one of eastern Berlin's main thoroughfares. Compassionate passers-by comment on her situation, assuming that she is lost and does not speak German. Once a sizable crowd has gathered the girl jumps out of the puddle, splashing everyone with mud, and yells 'gotcha!' ('reingelegt').38 The narrator and his daughter, who know the girl and buy their vegetables at her parents' Asian specialty shop, have witnessed this performance before. In Kaminer's stories, the immigrant is a skilled observer of German society and attitudes, whereas the native Germans
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are shown to be easily and willingly mislead. Ethnicity is a performance for those who continue to rely on it as a marker of difference. The subjects who people Kaminer's stories have long moved beyond such distinctions and made Berlin their multiethnic home. The engagement with questions of ethnic identity and authenticity in a global world is the focus also of Die Reise nach Trulala, a collection of travel narratives that follows Americans to Moscow, young Russians to Denmark, and Germans to Siberia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The encounters of locals and foreigners reveal the distinctions between the two to be less reliable than assumed, resulting in bizarre examples of cross-cultural identification, strange fantasies about the other, and numerous instances of deliberate deception for economic gain. The title story's village of Trulala', is supposedly the 'old-Tatar', 'alttatarisch' (T, 127) name for the place on the Crimean Peninsula where the artist Joseph Beuys survived an airplane crash in World War n. (Beuys was helped by locals who wrapped his injured body in felt and grease.) 'Trulala' is a global contact zone where German exiles who pretend to be Tatars dupe German tourists who seek to buy Beuys memorabilia. Locals profit by providing transportation at outrageous prices. The narrator's German friends, art historians from Berlin's Free University, encounter three different villages on the peninsula which all claim to be the original site, engaged in stiff competition over tourist spending. Aware of these multiple frauds, the art historians, traditionally safeguards of genuineness, enlist the help of a Russian sociologist to document the creation and proliferation of fakes (T, 129). Kaminer's satires contrast the persistent desire for 'ethnicity' as a presumed guarantor of authentic traditions, beliefs, foods, and the like, with the realisation that any contact between locals and foreigners will undermine the very authenticity the traveller came to seek. None of the three writers discussed here came to Germany as a result of postcolonial movements, which is the source of much transnational writing in France or Great Britain, nor are the economics of globalisation directly responsible for their presence in Germany. Instead, they came motivated by a combination of personal reasons and legal conditions in Germany. They explore ethnicity without assuming the position of spokesperson for their particular community and all three of them would likely reject the label 'ethnic writer'. Their texts offer literary
226 KATHARINA GERSTENBERGER reflections on some of globalisation's central tropes, namely borders and travel, with Europe, Eurasia and Berlin emerging as contact zones between ethnic groups and their intersecting cultural and political histories. The thematic and aesthetic scope exceeds the limits of 'ethnic writing' in the narrow definition of an immediate and predictable relationship between the writers' origins and their output. Yet ethnicity as a marker of difference in post-unification Germany plays a significant role in these texts. Deliberately vague rather than unambiguously defined, often in conjunction with gender and an interest in the plight of the 'ethnic writer', ethnicity runs through these texts like a common thread, an elusive yet ever-present category. The writers discussed here create literary spaces in which ethnicity looses its contours and vanishes into the complexities of the text. Following this model, perhaps one day ethnic minorities will vanish into the fabric of German society.
Notes 1 Germany's insistence on a definition of citizenship based on ethnicity has been analysed and commented on by many scholars. See Antje Harnisch et al, Fringe Voices: An Anthology of Minority Writers in the federal Republk of Germany (Oxford and New York Berg, 1998). This volume covers a broad range of minority positions, including AfroGerman, Jewish-German, Turkish-German and ethnic Germans of Eastern European background. A section on 'guest-workers' includes first-generation immigrants from Italy, Greece, Lebanon and Syria. 2 Harald Weinrich, 'Um eine deutsche Literatur von aufien bittend', Merkur, 8 (1983), 911-20. 3 The most comprehensive overview in German can be found in Carmine Chiellino, Interkulturelle Literatur in Deutschland. Ein Handbuch (Stuttgart Metzler, 2000). The reference book provides a wealth of information about contemporary authors from a variety of European, Asian, and African countries; it offers a history of literature by writers not born in Germany, includes a chapter on film and other non-literary media, and chronicles the history of scholarship on these works by German and international Germanists. It is organized geographically according to the writers' national origin. Though appropriate for a handbook, this structure reinforces the notion of foreign versus German. 4 Most recently Azade Seyhan, Writing Outside the Nation (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2001). 5 See Sabine Fischer and Moray McGowan (eds.), Denn du tanzt aufeinem Sen. Positionen deutschsprachiger Migrantlrmnenliteratur (Tubingen: Stauffenburg, 1997). 6 For an analysis of aesthetic strategies in the works of foreign writers see Immacolata Amodeo, 'Die Heintat heifit Babylon': Zur Literatur auslandisdier Autoren in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 19%). 7 Two of the authors discussed in this essay are cases in point; Yoko Tawada writes in both German and Japanese, Zafer §enocak in German and Turkish.
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8 An example is German-Turkish writer Aras Oren, whose earlier works are translations from the Turkish. 9 The Hungarian Terezia Mora is a recent example; others are Rumanian-born authors Herta Muller and Richard Wagner, or Czech writer Libuse Monikova. 10 German-Jewish writer Barbara Honigmann lives and works in France; Turkish-German writer Aysel Ozakin lives in England. 11 In an essay titled 'In drei Sprachen leben', German-Turkish writer Alev Tekinay points out that English has emerged as a third language in which a German minority writer must be conversant because much of the important scholarship is done in English. In Sabine Fischer and Moray McGowan (eds.), Denn du tanzt aufeinem Sell, op. cit, 27-35. 12 James Clifford, Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1997), p. 9. 13 According to sociologist Arjun Appadurai, globalisation is defined by 'objects in motion', including people and goods, images and ideas. Arjun Appadurai (ed.) Globalisation (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2001) p. 5. 14 Azade Seyhan, Writing Outside the Nation, op. cit., p. 107. A German contribution to the debate about borders is the volume by Claudia Benthien and Irmela Marai Kruger-Furhoff (eds.), Uber Grenzen. Limitation und Transgression in Literatur und Asthetik (Stuttgart, Weimar: Metzler, 1999). Diaspora is not of concern in any of these contributions. 15 Leslie Adelson, 'Opposing Oppositions: Turkish-German Questions in Contemporary German Studies', German Studies Review, 12:2 (1994), 305-330. See also Adelson, 'The Turkish Turn in Contemporary German Literature and Memory Work', The Germanic Review, 77:4 (2002), 326-38. 16 'New Writing in German', Chicago Review, 48:2/3 (2002), p. 11. 17 Critics outside of Germany, in general, seem to be more interested in breaking down dichotomies between German and non-German writers. Scholars based in Germany, as a rule, tend to focus on difference in binary terms. 18 Perikles Monioudis, Das Palladium (Berlin: Berlin Verlag, 2000). 19 Terezia Mora, Seltsame Materie. Erzahlungen (Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1999). 20 Feridun Zaimoglu, Abschaum. Die wahre Geschkhte des Ertan Ongun (Hamburg: Rotbuch Verlag, 1997). 21 For a recent overview see Eva Kolinksy, 'Migration Experiences and the Construction of Identity among Turks Living in Germany' in Stuart Taberner and Frank Finley (eds.), Recasting German Identity. Culture, Politics, and the Literature of the Berlin Republk (Rochester: Camden House, 2002), 205-18. 22 Zafer $enocak, Gefdhrliche Verwandtschaft (Munchen: Babel, 1998). 23 See Katharina Gerstenberger, 'Difficult Stories: Generation, Genealogy, Gender in Zafer Senocak's Gefihrliche Verwandtschaft and Monika Maron's Pawels Briefe' in Stuart Taberner and Frank Finlay (eds.), Recasting German Identity, op. cit., 235-50. 24 Zafer S. enocak, Der Erottomane. Ein Findelbuch (Munchen: Babel, 1999). Hereafter E. 25 The compound noun alludes to the archaic Findelkind (foundling) and the term Findbuch, referring to an archival catalogue. 26 Travel and sexuality have emerged as favoured topics in critical literature as well. For instance, Monika Shafi, Balancing Acts (Tubingen: Stauffenburg, 2002) focuses on the two themes in her analyses of encounters between German selves and non-German others. 27 In Azade Seyhan, Writing Outside the Nation, op. cit., she suggests connections between the German Romantic tradition (Novalis) and diasporic literature.
228 KATHARINA GERSTENBERGER 28 Chiellino's Interkulturelle Literatur in Deutschland discusses Tawada in a chapter on Asian authors and lists one more author of Japanese origin. For a discussion of Tawada's reception in Germany see Claudia Breger, 'Mimikry als Grenzverwirrung. Parodistische Posen bei Yoko Tawada' in Claudia Benthien Uber Grenzen, op. cit., 176-206. 29 Yoko Tawada, 'Das Leipzig des Lichts und der Gelatine. Erzahlung'. The story is published in a volume titled Wo Europa anfangt (Tubingen: Verlag Claudia Gehrke, 1991), 7-26. Hereafter LL. 'Wo Europa anfangt' is also the title of the 1988 essay included in the book that chronicles the author's journey from Japan to Germany on the transSiberian railway. For a discussion of this text, see Breger, 'Mimikry', in Claudia Benthien Uber Grenzen, op. cit. 30 Yoko Tawada, Opium fur Ovid. Ein Kopfkissenbuch von 22 Frauen (Berlin: Verlag Claudia Gehrke, 2001). Hereafter OfO. 31 Yoko Tawada, 'Notizen auf den Lofoten', Talisman (Berlin: Verlag Claudia Gehrke, 1996) 90-2. Translated into English as 'Notes Recorded on the Lofoten Islands' in Chicago Review 48:2/3 (2002), 303-4. 32 Wladimir Kaminer, Russendisko, (Miinchen: Goldmann, 2000) and Schonhauser Allee (Miinchen: Goldmann, 2001). The Goldmann publishing house tends to produce books that can expect to sell a much larger number of copies than either §enocak's or Tawada's publishers. 33 Wladimir Kaminer, Die Reise nach Trulala (Miinchen: Goldmann, 2002). Hereafter T for title story. 34 For a recent study of Soviet Jews in Germany see Jeroen Doomernik, Going West: Soviet Jewish Immigrants in Berlin since 1990 (Aldershot, Brookfield USA, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney: Avebury, 1997). Doomernik confirms Kaminer's claim when he describes the 'relatively minor importance of anti-Semitism in the motivation for leaving' as 'one of the most striking facts' he found (p. 77). 35 Joseph Roth, 'Das Autodafe des Geistes'. Michael Bienert (ed.) Joseph Roth in Berlin. Ein Lesebuchfur Spaziergiinger (Koln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1996), 245-56. 36 Wladimir Kaminer, 'Geschaftstarnungen' in Russendisko, op. cit., 97-9. 37 ibid., p. 97. 'Nichts ist hier echt, jeder ist er selbst und gleichzeitig ein anderer'. 38 Wladimir Kaminer, 'Schonhauser Allee im Regen' in Schonhauser Allee, op. cit., 66-8, p. 68.
The globalisation of memory and the rediscovery of German suffering Bill Niven
As any observer of trends in contemporary Germany will have noted, the last ten years or so have seen what could certainly be described as a surge of interest in the theme of German suffering during, towards the end of, and following the end of World War II. Central to this concern have been, and still are, the themes of the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe, and the bombing of German towns and cities by the Allies. It is an interest that has been expressed across a wide range of media and there are many examples as far as literature is concerned. Dieter Forte's novel Der Junge mit den blutigen Schuhen (1995) describes the horrors of the bombing of Dusseldorf. Hans-Ulrich Treichel's Der Verlorene (1998) portrays the postwar psychological struggles of a family of East Prussian fugitives who have lost a son during the trek westwards.1 And Giinter Grass's novella Im Krebsgang (2002) takes as one of its themes the agony of East Prussian fugitives who drowned when a Russian submarine sank the 'Wilhelm Gustloff in 1945. One might also mention W. G. Sebald's lecture Luftkrieg und Ltteratur (1999), which focuses on the supposed neglect of the theme of Allied bombing raids in postwar German literature. Last, but by no means least, reference should be made to Walter Kempowski's two four-volume sets of collective diaries Das Echolot (1993 and 1999) covering respectively the period around the capitulation of General Paulus's traumatised Sixth Army at Stalingrad in 1943, and the bombing of Dresden in 1945. The popular media have been no less obsessed with the theme. In 2003 the magazine Der Spiegel launched a series of articles on the
230 BILL NIVEN bombing of Germany entitled 'Als Feuer vom Himmel fiel', 'When fire rained from the heavens'. In addition, Second German Television (ZDF) ran a one-and-a-half-hour documentary on the same theme at peak viewing time2 - providing stiff competition to ARD, which was showing a football match between Bayern Munich and FC Cologne at the same time. Popular historiography has also turned its hand to the theme of suffering, notably in the form of Guido Knopp's 1999 book on the expellees, Die Vertriebenen (based on a ZDF television series), and Jorg Friedrich's Der Brand (2002), which was received with indignation in some sections of the British press. Friedrich dared to brand the policy of 'moral bombing7 essentially immoral, and implicitly compared the destruction of German towns and cities with the Holocaust. A certain 'rehabilitation' of the theme of German suffering is also visible at a more official level. In 1999, the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgraberfursorge, which since 1920 has been responsible for organising the 'People's Day of National Mourning', or 'Volkstrauertag', in honour of the German wardead, was able to resume these acts of commemoration in the Reichstag Building. In 2002, it was the dead of the battle of Stalingrad who were commemorated in particular. Wolfgang Thierse, President of the Bundestag, gave a speech in which he stressed the topicality of Beckmann's appeal at the end of Wolfgang Borchert's anti-war play Draufien vor der Tur (1947) - 'will nobody give an answer?' ('Gibt denn keiner, keiner Antwort?') - given the seemingly inexplicable violence of the attack on innocent people in the World Trade Center.3 Recently, moreover, there have been calls from the conservative CDU and CSU Parties, and even from politicians from the left-wing social democratic Party (SPD), for the setting up of a Centre Against Expulsions in Berlin. One function of the Centre would be to commemorate the expulsion of Germans from Poland and Czechoslovakia. Many reasons can be adduced for this interest in German suffering. One factor is certainly the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany. In the German Democratic Republic, the theme of German suffering during or after the war at the hands of the Soviets was more or less taboo. It is estimated that at least 1.5 million women were raped by the Soviets when they advanced into German territory towards the end of the war. Moreover, as of April 1945 the Soviets began to intern not only former Nazis, but also Germans innocent of Nazi crimes. Over 40,000
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internees died, about half this number in the former concentration camps of Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen. Given that the GDR was a Soviet satellite state, it would hardly have been prudent to air grievances at this state of affairs publicly, or in many cases even privately. Clearly, the demise of the GDR has created the preconditions for the overcoming of this taboo. Having said that, the theme of bombing was not quite taboo in the GDR. The official commemorative view of the ruin of Dresden's Franenkirche in the GDR was that it symbolised the destructive venom of British and American imperialism (the Church of our Lady was destroyed by British and American bombs in February 1945). But it was only with the collapse of the GDR that German suffering as a result of this bombing could be foregrounded. In West Germany, the pain of German suffering was expressed to a degree. Ruins were a frequent theme in postwar German literature, and indeed Borchert's Drauften vor der Tur - set among the ruins of Hamburg - is one long litany of complaint. As for the expellees, they had, at least into the early 1950s, a not insignificant political party to voice their concerns, namely, the Bund der Heimatlosen und Entrechteten. Yet despite this there was little readiness in West Germany to confront the true extent of the horrors of expulsion, bombing or indeed war itself. It is only with their republication in 1999 and 2000, respectively, that Gert Ledig's novels Die Vergeltung (1956) and Die Stalinorgel (1955) have found the critical and public acclaim they undoubtedly deserve.4 The former deals with the bombing of a German city, the latter with war on the Eastern front near Leningrad. Heinrich Boll's graphic description of the bombed-out city of Cologne was considered too horrific for public consumption in 1949-1950, and it took almost fifty years for it to be published.5 This would seem to bear out the thesis that the West German economic miracle was achieved at a price; neither Nazi crimes nor German victimhood were truly confronted, psychological energy being redirected towards more 'constructive' tasks.6 Later, the 1968 generation tended to dismiss any mention of German suffering as an unacceptable attempt to play down German crimes and as a denial of the principle of cause and effect - without Hitler, no bombing and no expulsion. Besides, in the context of Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik and the recognition of the Oder-Neifie line as the GDR's eastern border, the insistence of the expellees on the right to Heimat soon became politically undesirable.
Especially in left wing and even some liberal circles, German suffering came to be regarded as a theme for ageing, dyed in the wool nationalists and revanchists. Just as 1990 offered east Germans a chance to discover a taboo theme, it also offered west Germans the chance to revisit a theme long regarded with suspicion. With the end of the east-west split and the establishment of an independent democratic Poland and Czech Republic with internationally recognised boundaries, it has become possible to talk about German suffering without awakening too many fears of revisionism. Moreover, one could argue that there was, despite appearances, an underlying collusion between the war generation and the 1968 generation - the former often had no wish to remember past suffering, while the latter denied their right to dwell on it. Germany's younger generation, on the other hand, is motivated neither by repression nor by rebelliousness. Recent interest is, in part, a result of a third, or even fourth, generation curiosity about the experiences of the war generation. This curiosity is comprehensive. The interest in possible complicity in Wehrmacht crimes - witness the reactions to the 'Crimes of the Wehrmacht' exhibition7 - is every bit as intense as the interest in expulsion, bombing or indeed the agony of encirclement at Stalingrad. A further reason for the rediscovery of German suffering is temporal: the end of the twentieth century gave rise to a process of stocktaking, a process in which, not unnaturally, characteristic trends were identified and analysed, including, particularly, ethnic expulsion. The historicisation of the expulsion of Germans within a broader context of ethnic expulsions is perhaps inevitable to a degree. On a more negative note, one should not overlook the wish of some on the right to exaggerate the degree to which the 1968 generation was responsible for inhibiting awareness of German suffering. Discrediting the 1968 generation is part of a general right-wing assault in post-1990 Germany on the 'legacy of the leff. In general, however, despite an occasional note of exaggeration, scandalisation and instrumentalisation, particularly in the German media, the interest in German suffering has had a largely cathartic effect. Yet this new concern with German suffering cannot entirely be explained with reference to the end of the Cold War, German reunification, generation shifts and the desire to overcome the blinkered views of Nazism so typical of the pre-1990 era. That this interest has
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penetrated the German media, as well as popular and highbrow culture to the extent that it has may not have been possible without the influence of two other factors that are not, or at least not solely, of Germany's making. The first of these is the globalisation of Holocaust memory. The second, which is connected to the first but is not driven exclusively by it, is the increasing plurality of national, ethnic and religious memory discourses. We live in an age in which, apparently paradoxically, Holocaust memory is being shared by more and more countries. At the same time many (in some cases the same) countries are discovering their own suffering, injustices inflicted not by the Germans but, say, by the Soviets, the Turks, or former colonial powers. Universalised and particularised discourses intertwine. The following part of the chapter explores these two factors, before considering how they might have impacted on contemporary German culture.
THE GLOBALISATION OF HOLOCAUST MEMORY In a recent book applying cultural studies models of globalisation, Daniel Levy and Natan Sznaider examine the role of remembering the Holocaust in creating a collective memory across national boundaries.8 Levy and Sznaider argue that we are at present living in a second phase of the modern ('Zweite Moderne') in which the national framework for the formation of identity is to an increasing degree being complemented by a transnational or even global framework. According to Levy and Sznaider, this transition also affects the culture of memory; indeed a common culture of memory provides part of the foundation for an emerging global sense of identity. But why choose the Holocaust as this common focus? During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Jews were understood to represent the quintessence of the cosmopolitan or transnational. Consequently, from the perspective of the present, their annihilation during World War II is construed as an attack nan plus ultra on those very qualities which lie at the heart of the second phase of the modern. Remembering this annihilation serves to bind nations in their commitment to tolerance as the moral basis of the transnational. There is another key reason for the choice of the Holocaust: it was a European atrocity that had global effects. While it took place for the
most part in occupied Poland, there were killing centres and massacres in many European countries. Jews (who were, prior to their exclusion, citizens of their respective European countries) were deported from all over Europe to the annihilation camps. Germans carried out the killing, but others cooperated in turning over Jews to the Gestapo and in their murder. Jews who fled Germany sought refuge all over the world; survivors of the Holocaust settled in many countries. The waves set in motion by the persecution of the Jews were thus felt internationally. The most significant expression and indeed instrument of the globalisation of Holocaust memory to date was the International Forum on the Holocaust in Stockholm in January 2000. This had been preceded in May 1998 by the establishment of a Task Force designed to promote international cooperation on Holocaust education, remembrance and research. The Task Force came about thanks to the Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson. Founding members were Sweden, Britain and the United States: they were joined not long afterwards by France, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland. Forty-five countries were invited to attend the Stockholm conference. 'An amazing thing has happened in the last decade', Yehuda Bauer said at the start of his address to the conference; 'a tragedy that befell a certain people [...] has become the symbol of racial evil as such, the world over'. Bauer went on to stress that the Holocaust now had worldwide significance, both in terms of its 'specific history', and as a 'symbol for things we ought to oppose racism, genocide, mass murder, ethnic hatred, ethnic cleansing, antisemitism, group hatred'.9 It became clear from the conference that many, particularly European nations, had institutionalised or were in the course of institutionalising Holocaust remembrance by means of remembrance days, memorials and museums. Politicians from some countries, such as Wim Kok (Prime Minister of the Netherlands) and Lionel Jospin (Prime Minister of France), gave speeches in which they criticised the roles of their countries during the period of the Holocaust. Several politicians drew comparisons between other genocides in their countries and the Holocaust. Given the recent atrocities for instance in Rwanda, Kosovo and East Timor, all were in agreement that remembering the Holocaust worldwide was an essential prerequisite to raising awareness of discrimination, and of the need to prevent violence against ethnic, religious and other groups.
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REMEMBERING VICTIMS OF OTHER ATROCITIES Without doubt, however, the trend towards the internationalisation of Holocaust memory has been accompanied by an increasing sensitivity within individual nations or groups towards historical suffering particular to these nations or groups. A few examples will illustrate this. In December 2002, the Polish parliament proclaimed 13 December a day of remembrance for the victims of martial law; this had been imposed by the communist regime in 1981 in an attempt to crush the Solidarity movement. Lithuania has introduced a 'Defenders of Freedom Day' in honour of the demonstrators killed by the Soviets in Vilnius on 13 January 1991 (shortly after Lithuania declared its independence), while the Ukraine now has a 'Famine Remembrance Day' on the fourth Saturday in November to commemorate those millions - estimated at between five and ten - who died as a result of Stalin's starvation policy in 1932-1933. The collapse of the Soviet Union, of course, is the key explanatory factor for the above examples, but the increased sensitivity to genocide as a result of the globalisation of Holocaust memory is also a factor. This is visible in the fact that nations, in remembering their particular suffering, often refer to the Holocaust - indeed the Ukrainian famine is described as 'Holodomor'. Where many former nationals of a particular country now live in the diaspora, victim remembrance can often have an international character, so that 'ethnic memory' is not necessarily coextensive with national memory. Indeed in the case of the Ukraine, memory of the famine was cultivated in the diaspora (and still is) long before remembrance was introduced in post-independence Ukraine. Other groups without a specific national or ethnic character also cultivate memories of victimhood. Thus in 2002, the fourth annual 'Transgender Day of Remembrance' in memory of the transgender victims of acts of violence was held in ninety countries. As ethnic and other groups intensify efforts to coordinate memory internationally, they seek to follow the example of globalisation of Holocaust memory. The memory of a particular historical atrocity can only be said to have been truly globalised, however, when it has attracted widespread international, political and educational interest and been integrated into top-level international agendas, something which only memory of the Holocaust has so far achieved. Often there are obstacles to the acceptance
of these other atrocities that are impeding their globalisation. Thus it was certainly an achievement that the World Racism Conference in Durban in September 2000 adopted a declaration recognising the injustice of slavery and colonialism; but it stopped short of a call for compensation and even for an apology to African nations. Armenia has for some years been seeking international acknowledgment of the Armenian genocide of 1915, but Turkey is not willing to provide it, and, given Turkey's strategic importance, nor are NATO countries, not least America. The international community's emphasis on the Holocaust can therefore also serve as a smokescreen obscuring other national crimes and concomitant compensation rights. The only other crimes that are highlighted are those where acknowledgement is not politically inopportune or potentially expensive. In any event, that many nations and groups are discovering their victimhood at the hands of history, whether these be East European nations, transgender groups, or groups of gays and lesbians, is an important part of a process of identity formation or consolidation. Common remembrance of common pain creates a strong bond and a sense of solidarity. The globalisation of Holocaust memory has a national dimension in that individual nations remember (or should remember) their past guilt, complicity and passivity during the Holocaust. It also has an international dimension in that all the nations affected by the Holocaust, or the associated diaspora, share acknowledgement of their moral debt (not just towards murdered Jews, but towards survivors). But this Holocaust remembrance fails to perceive the murder of Jews as part of a remembered national pain. It is an unfortunate fact that Jews are still remembered as 'the Other' upon whom pain was inflicted. Whether, say, a Lithuanian would regard the pain of a Lithuanian Jew during World War II as Lithuanian pain is debatable, but he would certainly regard the suffering of Lithuanian victims of the Soviets as Lithuanian pain. That said, there is clearly a need to remember the suffering of one's nation, as well as all as the suffering that was inflicted, or at least permitted by one's own country. Empathy with national pain complements and augments, in the ideal scenario, empathy with the victims of the Holocaust.
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TODAY'S GERMANY Israelis and diaspora Jews, in particular, have upheld the painful memory of the Holocaust. But there has also been an onus on the perpetrators to remember their crimes, an onus the GDR and FRG were arguably only partly prepared to shoulder. With the globalisation of Holocaust memory, many other countries now share such memory. These other countries may have been victims of Nazism, but they are, in some instances, prepared to admit collusion and collaboration. There is no longer always such a clear division between Victim memory' and 'perpetrator memory'. Just as the crime of the Holocaust is now broadly understood as having been in some respects a multinational enterprise, so memory of it becomes transnational and collaborative. The implications of this for Germany are enormous. Instead of being the pariah amongst nations, Germany is now one of many nations with a duty to remember. The burden is divided. Moreover, the Holocaust may have attained iconic status, but over the past ten years there has been increasing acceptance that other genocides must be recorded as such. Michael Jeismann has observed that it took the United Nations until 1994 to use the term 'genocide' in reference to a post-Holocaust atrocity, namely the murder of 800,000 people in Rwanda.10 Since then, it is not uncommon to see the term applied to other recent atrocities, such as the killing of 8000 Muslims in Srebrenica as a result of Serbian ethnic cleansing. The world has recognised that genocide is a contemporary as well as an historical phenomenon. This again has implications for Germany. The Federal Republic is now one of many countries united in their efforts - at least on paper - to hinder, apprehend and punish today's genoridal villains. History has moved on, and Germany is measured more and more by its present commitments, rather than its past aberrations. Certainly there are those who would be concerned that all of this could encourage German self-exculpation, or even give some misguided Germans cause for pride, given that the Holocaust now constitutes the negative reference-point for a new European identity. What is clearly beyond doubt is that the global sharing of Holocaust memory and its use to stimulate concern at other genocides does represent a release of pressure on Germany. This, in turn, opens up a space in which the rediscovery of German suffering can thrive. This
space is opened up further by the general trend within many nations and groups towards identification with their specific national or group victims. Indeed the very sense of the desirability of such an identification - self-empathy breeds empathy - makes it appear important for Germany to cultivate an awareness of its war-related sufferings alongside Holocaust remembrance. In the past, there was a fear that an over-preoccupation with such suffering would lead to relativisation. This fear still exists, but it is no longer so virulent. Now, sympathising with the German victims of bombing raids, or of Stalingrad, or ethnic expulsion could be regarded as necessary. It creates a sense of empathetic relation, in the context of which the criminality of the war generation towards Jews and others, as well as criminality in the present - for instance in Kosovo - can be all the more painfully registered. What may also help to create an atmosphere in Germany in which awareness of German victimhood can develop more freely is the trend in some countries towards acknowledging past crimes against Germans. This trend has improved the relationship between Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany over the last ten years. In September 2002 in the Czech town of Teplice (formerly Wekelsdorf), a 'cross of reconciliation7 was unveiled. It was dedicated to the memory of 22 Sudeten Germans and one Czech woman shot by Czechs on 30 June 1945.u Also in September 2002, the Polish town of Lambinowice (formerly Lamsdorf) consecrated a graveyard containing the bodies of 1137 Germans who died in a work-camp run by Poles, with Soviet permission, in 1945. Most of these Germans were women, children and older people, not Nazis.12 In the case of the Polish village Jedwabne, Poles are now confronting the painful fact that they also slaughtered Jews, not just the SS. These are all developments that would have been unthinkable during the Cold War, and as long as there was fear of such acknowledgements adding fuel to the flames of German revisionism.
GERMAN LITERARY REPRESENTATIONS OF GERMAN SUFFERING In the final part of this chapter, I should like to discuss a number of the works of literature referred to at the outset in the light of the above
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analysis. On the evidence of these works, it will be seen that there is frequently an attempt to place German suffering within a wider context. This suffering can only be described, of course, by implicitly or explicitly pointing to those who imposed it: usually the Allies, but sometimes the Poles and Czechs as well. Any such description involves a partial redefinition of the traditional one-sided view of the Germans as perpetrators and the countries they occupied or fought against as victims or liberators. Any potential dangers of such a redefinition are counteracted in some recent literary works by the maintenance of a parallel focus on German crime and on the historical sequence of cause and effect. Moreover, perspectives sympathetic to the sufferings of nonGermans are introduced. While contextualisation can be synchronic, it can also be diachronic, with the emphasis placed not primarily or exclusively on German suffering, but on the way this suffering was remembered, displaced, repressed or instrumentalised in the postwar era. Thus there is a wish to historicise this suffering. Nevertheless, literature is nothing if not ambivalent, and there are elements in the recent literary portrayal of German suffering which strike a strident, exculpatory and accusatory note. German literature reflects the move towards a transnational and empathic contextualisation of German suffering, but does not quite escape the pitfalls of obsessive self-pity. An example of this ambivalence is Walter Kempowski's Das Echolot: Fuga furiosa. Ein kollektives Tagebuch a four-volume compendium of authentic letters, diary-entries and notes compiled by Kempowski and published in 1999. In this compendium, a number of those Germans who lived through the months of January and February 1945 bear witness to their experiences, notably of flight and expulsion from the Eastern territories, and of the bombing of Dresden on 14 February 1945, with which the fourth volume ailrninates.13 Interlaced among these are entries that document the experiences of those in the concentration camps, and of the German Jew, Victor Klemperer, in Dresden. Writers such as Heimito von Doderer and Thomas Mann and the composer Richard Strauss are also represented. Kempowski even includes passages from Goebbels' diaries and Hitler's political testament To a large extent, however, as in the case of the various German soldiers whose voices are also heard, the authors of the letters and diary excerpts are ordinary Germans. Kempowski also includes excerpts taken from Allied sources, sometimes
reflecting the experiences of Soviet and British soldiers, or civilians in Britain, or of top-ranking American and British and Soviet politicians. Many of the documents shed light on the Allied Conference at Jalta. Because the sources are authentic, this compendium may seem to be a multi-voice autobiography, and indeed this is partly what it is. But it is Kempowski who chooses which sources to use, what to extrapolate from his sources, and what to omit. The subtitle Fuga furiosa indicates that the compendium is constructed in accordance with a musical principle. The theme or subject of the fugue would appear to be the horror of war, while the instruments that take up and develop this theme are the voices of the individual diarists and letter writers and commentators. Just as the sounds made by individual instruments overlap and interweave in a fugue, so the voices in Kempowski's collective diary are interwoven, albeit more across space than time. The culmination of the fugue is the bombing of Dresden. Kempowksi's Echolot is thus in many ways a work of art. The subtitle 'collective diary' is a term taken from the realm of the imagination. Das Echolot practises what might better be termed a kind of collectivisation, grouping excerpts from the assorted writings of myriad authors. Behind this collectivisation is Kempowski's view of the period as one which can only be properly understood by juxtaposing different individual, national and experiential perspectives across the divide of friend and foe, victim and perpetrator. Kempowksi's collective diary implies a European, even global commonality of the experience of war. However, one can have reservations about Kempowski's compendium, the chief one being the sheer weight of emphasis it lends to German suffering, particularly to the expulsion of the Germans from Eastern Europe, and to the bombing of Dresden. Moreover, the Allies are portrayed hatching their devious postwar plans in the comfort of Jalta, while the excerpts from the accounts of British soldiers and civilians frequently imply that life was altogether more pleasant for them than for the Germans. As the compendium wears on, Kempowski loses interest in the concentration camp suffering, and German suffering dominates. The whole "collective diary' enterprise threatens to become a diary of German misery since it is hard for the reader to resist a feeling of indignation towards the Allies, particularly the Soviets, and easy to forget that there were German crimes.
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A similar case is Dieter Forte's novel Der Junge mit den blutigen Schuhen from 1995. Forte describes life in the Oberbilk quarter of Diisseldorf during the Nazi period and particular emphasis is given to describing the impact of Allied bombs during the war. The description is also the stylistic high-point of the novel: thus in one long sentence extending over four pages and consisting of a concatenation of short, powerful subordinate clauses, Forte evokes, quite superbly, both the terror of the sheer duration of the bombing experience, and the ebb and flow of hope, fear and anguish which is the hallmark of this experience.14 The novel also makes it clear that the bombs fall not only on Germans since Oberbilk is also the site of small forced labour or concentration camps. Moreover, the two main families in the novel, the Fontanas and the Lukacz families, are Sicilian and Polish by origin respectively, although they have lived in Germany for a long time. Oberbilk is also home to secondary characters such as the Jew, Opa Winter, or Varna, who was born in Oberbilk but retains a love of his father's native town, Prague. As Helmut Schmitz has claimed, Oberbilk is a 'microcosm of multiculturalism'.15 Forte's novel portrays a multiethnic, multinational suffering - in addition to suffering bombing-raids, the inhabitants have to endure brutal and murderous intrusions into the quarter by the Nazis - thereby transcending a specific preoccupation with German pain. But this is only half the story. If the reader is to accept the construction of a victim collective comprising Germans and non-Germans, Forte has to exclude inherent Nazism from the quarter altogether. In Oberbilk there seem to be no Nazi voters, sympathisers or perpetrators, unless they have come in from outside. Nor is there any passive collusion. In fact, the main characters are opponents of Nazism, such as Gustav Fontana, who has communist sympathies and sets up a sort of critical discussion group, or his son Friedrich, who deserts the Wehrmacht. Oberbilk's inhabitants help Jews and forced labourers, risking their lives to do so. However, morally whitewashing Oberbilk's inhabitants in order to qualify them as victims results in a number of deeply questionable comparisons. Oberbilk is described as a 'Ghetto', while forced labourers are equated with conscripted Germans.16 The obverse side to the construction of a victim collective of Germans and nonGermans is that of an extrinsic and intrusive perpetrator collective of Nazis and Allied bombers. In defence of Forte, we may not be meant to
understand Oberbilk as typical. Nevertheless, the reader is invited to share in a perspective which encourages undifferentiated, uncritical and generalised empathy, a perspective achieved by eradicating the fundamental fact that even Oberbilk's Germans are - willingly or not members of a national group which has waged war on Europe. If Kempowski's and Forte's way of embedding German suffering in an empathic transnational context exhibits problematic elements of German self-pity, as well as implicitly refraining the Allies as the vilains of World War II, this cannot be said of Giinter Grass's handling of German suffering in his novella Im Krebsgang (2002). The choice of the genre form 'novella7, which traditionally turns around an 'unerhorte Begebenheit' or 'unheard-of event', is doubly significant. The sinking of the ship Wilhelm Gustloff and the resulting deaths of thousands of German fugitives is unheard-of both in the metaphorical sense of 'shocking' or 'terrible', and in the literal sense of not having been heard. Grass's novella is a reflection on the silence which has surrounded the theme of German war suffering, not least in the 1968 generation, and the 'eruption' of this theme in an extreme form in the third generation. Thus while Konrad - the grandson of survivor Tulla - empathises with German victims of the sinking to a nationalistic and chauvinistic extent, another schoolboy, Wolfgang Stremplin, not only rejects any right to German suffering, but also transforms himself into a Jew through his identification with David Frankfurter - the Jew who shot Swiss Nazi Party leader Wilhelm Gustloff. Grass's novella, in 'telling' the story of the sinking, works against these extreme positions by restoring to it its full complexity and ambivalence. As significant as the genre form is the title, which is a reference to the shuffling sideways gait of a crab. Grass's cautious narrator refuses to focus in an exclusive or linear way on the sinking, instead the Nazi prehistory of the ship and its dedicatee, a prehistory bound up with ideological fanaticism and war, is clearly spelt out. The narrative shifts perspective constantly; at any given moment in time, events in the history of the ship are set in parallel to events in the lives of the Russian submarine captain who sank the ship, and the Jew who shot Gustloff and subsequently had to serve a prison sentence. Equally, the narrative leaps forwards in time to consider the postwar treatment of the memory of the sinking in the life and family of the narrator Paul.
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Grass's use of synchronic and diachronic perspectival shifts means that we can feel empathy with those who died on the 'Wilhelm Gustloff. However by not allowing his readers to forget the Nazi Reich, whose atrocities preceded and triggered the events which led to the sinking of the 'Wilhelm Gustloff', Grass ensures that this empathy will be balanced by self-critical reflection. His novella stresses that the ship itself, as a former Kraft durch Freude ('Strength-through-Joy') troop ship, symbolises both the mobilisation of the masses by Hitler and Hitler's war of aggression before it comes to stand for German pain. Moreover, the perspective on Frankfurter introduces into the novella a focus on Nazi anti-Semitism, while that on the unfortunate Marinesko works against demonisation of the Soviets. Grass, then, seeks to generate in the reader a critical empathy, for we are never allowed to forget that Germans were perpetrators before they were victims.17 Grass's novella also makes it clear that the failure, in the postwar era, to face the trauma of German suffering resulted in its reappearance in one-sided and indeed destructive form in the third generation (thus Konrad murders Wolfgang). In his earlier narrative Unkenrufe (1992), in which the German Alexander Reschke and the Pole Alexandra Piatowska set up a German-Polish Cemetery Society to enable expelled Germans and Poles to be buried in their former homelands, Grass also seeks to contextualise German suffering. More so than in Im Krebsgang, Unkenrufe focuses on suffering, in this case expulsion, as a transnational tragedy, embedding the history of German expulsion within what Reschke calls the 'century of expulsions' ('Jahrhundert der Vertreibungen').18 Grass preserves critical distance: within a short space of time, German and Polish economic interests mesh, threatening to turn the Cemetery Society into a mechanism for a kind of German recolonisation. In the early 1990s, Grass was dearly anxious that any move towards German-Polish reconciliation might serve as a front for economic expansionism. Unkenrufe, however, gives playful, satirical expression to this concern. Grass's hope, certainly, was mat remembering the common history of expulsion would provide a positive and constructive basis for German-Polish reconciliation. Grass's interest in what unites Poles and Germans, a unity symbolised not least by the history of Danzig itself, is shared by the Polish author Stefan Chwin, whose novel Hanemann (1995) appeared
in German translation in 1997 as Tod in Danzig. Chwin describes the flight of the Germans from Danzig in 1945, and the occupation of their homes by Poles, who themselves had been forced to leave their homes as the map of Europe was redrawn at the end of the war. Anticipating Grass's description of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloffby several years, Chwin's novel includes a short, but moving depiction of the sinking of another ship full of German fugitives, the Friedrich Bernhoff. Tod in Danzig is in many respects an elegy, mourning the loss to postwar Danzig represented by the departure of the Germans and the contribution they had made to Danzig's cultural history. At the same time, the solidarity shown towards the German Hanemann by the Polish family which occupies his house (Hanemann elects to remain in Danzig), and the interest shown in the German language and culture by Poles represent a bridge to a better future. Grass and Chwin sensitively register the loss of a common PolishGerman cultural history. They depict the common suffering of expulsion, and the pain represented by the schism that opened up between Poles and Germans. A similar case is the novel Niemandszeit (2002) by the German author Jorg Bernig.19 Set in the Sudetenland during the war, Bernig's novel describes the atrocities of the Nazis, the agony of the expulsion of Jews, Czechs and Sudeten Germans, and the murderous treatment of Germans by the Czech revolutionary guard. German and Czech victims of persecution, expulsion and compulsion take refuge at the end of the war in a border village. In a sense, the enclave represents a new found solidarity based on a common sense of victimhood. But the German-Czech love story which runs like a thread throughout the novel tragically triggers the discovery of the village by the Czech revolutionary guard. The novel seems to suggest that there can be no escape from history. Nevertheless, the fragile vision of transcendence represented by the village is sustained long enough to leave a lasting impression in the reader's mind. In conclusion, then, it can be claimed that the global trend towards remembering national victimhood has left its mark on literary representations of German suffering. This trend has developed on the basis of an understanding that victimhood is a means of constructing a new national identity - important not least for those states that have recently emerged from under the yoke of the Soviet Union. The eastern
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part of reunited Germany certainly endured a long period of Soviet control over official and public memory. The other impetus behind the trend is the realisation that empathy can only evolve on the basis of self-empathy, and empathy for others is the quality which global Holocaust remembrance aims to promote. The works by Kempowski, Forte, Grass and Bernig explored above interconnect self-empathy with empathy, underscoring the move towards a transnational memory community There are differences in emphasis. The empathic view in Kempowski's Echolot is deeply ambivalent, the self-empathetic view at times strident and accusatory. Grass is almost too programmatically at pains to expose any such stridency and accusation as unbefitting of the nation that unleashed Nazism on the world. It is in the work of the youngest author represented here, Jorg Bernig (born in 1964), that the most finely-tuned balance between self-empathy and empathy has been found. It is also in Niemandszeit that the vision of a new solidarity based on a common sense of past suffering finds its most powerful expression.
See Stuart Taberner, 'Hans-Ulrich Treichel's Der Verlorene and The "Problem" of German Wartime Suffering', The Modern Language Review, 97 (2002), 123-34.
2 The series 'Als Feuer vom Himmel fiel' began in Der Spiegel 2 (06.01.03), 38-52. The ZDF documentary, 'Der Bombenkrieg', was shown on 4 February 2003. 3 See http:/ / www.bundestag.de/aktueU/presse/2002/pzJ321117.htrnl. 4
These novels were republished by Suhrkamp. See Vergeltung (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1999) and Die Stalinorgel (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2000).
Heinrich Boll, Der Engel schwieg (Koln: Kiepenheuer und Witsch, 1992).
See W. G. Sebald, Luftkrieg und Literatur (Miinchen: Hanser, 1999), pp. 20-1.
See Bill Niven, Facing the Nazi Past (London: Routiedge, 2001), 143-74.
Daniel Levy and Natan Sznaider, Erinnerung im globalen Zeitalter: Der Holocaust (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2001).
Yehuda Bauer, 'Speech to the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, 26 January 2000'. See http: wwwJiolocaustforum.gov^e/conference/offidal_dc»aaments/speeches/bauerlitm.
10 Michael Jeismann, Auf Wiedersehen Gestern: Die deutsche Vergangenheit und die Politik von morgen (Stuttgart and Miinchen: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 2001), p. 7. 11 See 'Denkmal fur Opfer der Vertreibung in Tschechien', Suddeutsche Zeitung (16.09.02), p. 6. 12 See Thomas Urban, 'Ungeteilte Aufmerksamkeit', Suddeutsche Zeitung (18.09.02), p. 9.
13 Walter Kempowski, Das Echolot: Fuga Furiosa. Bin kollektives Tagebuch (Munchen: Albrecht Knaus, 1999). Kempowski has since produced a single-volume compilation on the impact of the bombing of Dresden which covers the period 13 February 1945 up to 17 February 1945. See Walter Kempowski, Der rote Hahn: Dresden im Februar 1945 (Munchen: Goldmann, 2001). 14 Dieter Forte, Der Junge mil den blutigen Schuhen (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1995), pp. 136-9. 15 Helmut Schmitz, On their own terms: the legacy of National Socialism in post-1990 German Fiction (Birmingham: University of Birmingham Press, 2004), p. 247. 16 See Dieter Forte, Der Junge mit den blutigen Schuhen, op. cit., p. 164 and p. 208 respectively. 17 Stuart Taberner makes a similar argument in his '"Normalisation" and The New Consensus on the Nazi Past: Giinter Grass's Im Krebsgang and The Problem of German Wartime Suffering', Oxford German Studies, 31 (2002), 161-86. 18 See Giinter Grass, Unkenrufe (Gottingen: Steidl, 1992), p. 37. 19 Jorg Bernig, Niemandszeit (Stuttgart and Munchen: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 2002), pp. 116-23.
Index Authors are listed below. Individual texts can be found in the 'index of primary texts' which follows.
INDEX OF AUTHORS Altenburg, Matthias, 15; 105; 179 Bernig, Jorg, 244; 245 See 'Niemandszeit' Bessing, Joachim, 179; 191 See 'Tristesse Royale' Biller, Maxim, 15; 105; 114; 175; 179 Bohrer, Karl Heinz, 91; 104-5; 203 Boll, Heinrich, 171; 189 Brinkmann, Rolf Dieter, 171; 172; 185 Brussig, Thomas, 38; 55-6 Dieckmann, Dorothea, 50; 52-3 See 'Damen & Herren' Diederichsen, Diedrich, 173-4; 202 See 'Hen Dieterichsen' Dorn, Katrin, 17; 68; 71; 79-81 See 'Der Hunger der Kellnerin' See 'Lugen und Schweigen' See 'Tangogeschkhten' Diickers, Tanja, 17; 68; 71; 74-S; 83-4; 183 See 'cafe brazil' See 'Himmelskorper' See 'Luftpost. Gedichte Berlin - Barcelona' See 'Spielzone' Duve, Karen, 12; 16; 17; 26; 29-31; 49; 50; 56-9; 60; 118 See 'Regenroman' See 'Dies ist kein Uebeslied' Enzensberger, Hans Magnus, 12
Erpenbeck, Jenny, 17; 68; 71-2; 81-3 See 'Tand' Forte, Dieter, 229; 241-2; 245 See 'Der Junge mit den blutigen Schuhen' Franck, Julia, 17; 68; 71, 78-9 See 'Bauchlandungen' See 'Der neue Koch' See 'Liebediener' Friedrich, Jorg, 230 See 'Der Brand' Geifiler, Heike, 16; 28; 40; 42-3 See'Rosa' Goetz, Rainald, 174; 180; 180-1; 182; 185 See 'Kontrolliert Geschichte' See 'Rave' See 'Subito' Goosen, Frank, 17; 49; 50; 53^; 55-6; 57 See 'liegen lernen' See 'Porkony lacht' Grass, Giinter, 77; 114-15; 116; 171; 189; 229; 242-4; 245 See 'Im Krebsgang' Greiner, Ulrich, 14; 91; 105; 162 Hamann, Christof, 118 See 'Seegefrorne' Handke, Peter, 171 Hein, Christoph, 12 Hein, Jakob, 16; 28,39-40 See 'Mem erstes T-Shirt'
GERMAN LITERATURE IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION
Hennig, Falko, 38 Hennig von Lange, Alexa, 178 See 'Relax' Hensel, Jana, 16; 28; 40-2 See 'Zonenkinder' Hermann, Judith, 17; 31; 67-8; 71; 73-4; 190 See 'Nichts als Gespenster' See 'Sommerhaus, sp'ater' Hielscher, Martin, 14; 69; 105; 175; 189 Hilbig, Wolfgang, 12; 16; 27; 32-3 See 'Das Provisorium' lilies, Florian, 17; 41; 49; 50; 53; 176; 193; 194 See 'Generation Golf Jochimsen, Jess, 50 See 'Das Dosenmilch-trauma' Kahn, Sarah, 184 Kaminer, Wladimir, 20; 213; 222-6 See 'Die Reise nach Trulala' See 'Russendisko' See 'Schonhauser Attee' Kempowski, Walter, 229; 239-40; 242; 245 See 'Das Echolot' Klein, Georg, 114-15; 189 Kolb, Ulrike, 50 See 'Fruhstuck mil Max' Kracht, Christian, 12; 15; 19; 20; 178; 179; 181; 189-205 See '1979' See 'Faserland' See 'Tristesse Royale' Krampitz, Karsten, 38 Kumpfmuller, Michael, 189 Lebert, Benjamin, 179 See 'Crazy' Ledig, Gert, 231 See 'Die Stalinorgel' See 'Die Vergeltung' Lehr, Thomas, 50; 52 See 'Die Erhorung' See 'Nabokovs Katze' Maier, Andreas, 15; 18; 118-24 See 'Waldchestag' Meinecke, Thomas, 12; 180; 181; 182; 185; 186 See 'Hellblau' See 'Mode & Verzweiflung' See 'The Church of John F. Kennedy' See 'Tomboy'
Mensching, Steffen, 16; 27; 32, 33-6 See 'Jakobs Letter' Monioudis, Perikles, 212 Mora, Terezia, 212; 184 Naters, Hike, 12 Neumeister, Andreas, 12; 175; 180; 181; 182 See 'Gut laut' Nickel, Eckhart, 179; 191 See 'Tristesse Royale' Niemann, Norbert, 12 Ortheil, Harms-Josef, 149 See 'Abschied von den Kriegsteilnehmern' See 'Blauer Weg' Ozdogan, Selim, 184 Peltzer, Ulrich, 50 See '"Alle oder keiner"' Peters, Christoph, 118 See 'Stadt Land Flufi' Pleschinski, Hans, 17; 47,49, 604; 48-9; 6O4 See 'Bildnis eines Unsichtbaren' Politycki, Matthias, 10; 12; 15; 17; 50; 52; 59-60; 105-6; 176 See 'Weiberroman' Roggla, Kathrin, 181-2; 185; 186 See 'abrauschen' See 'irres wetter' Schirrmacher, Frank, 14; 17; 69; 91; 104-5; 114; 162 Schlink, Bernhard, 89 Schneider, Peter, 12 Schramm, Ingo, 12; 19; 15; 32; 142-65 See 'Pitchers Blau' Schulze, Ingo, 27; 28; 36-8; 40; 117 See 'Simple Storys' Sebald, W. G., 229 See 'Luftkrieg und Literatur' Senocak, Zafer, 20; 213; 214-8; 222 See 'Gejahrliche Verwandtschaft' See 'Der Erottomane' Sloterdijk, Peter, 12 See 'Die Verachtung der Masse' Stadler, 11; 18; 91; 95-101 See 'Ausflug nach Afrika' See 'Der Tod und Ich, wir zwei' See 'Ein hinreissender Schrotthandler' See 'Feuerland' See 'Gedichte aufs Land'
INDEX 249 See 'Ich war einmal' See 'Kein Herz und keine Seele' See 'Mein Hund, meine Sau, mein Leben' See 'Volubilis. Oder Meine Reise ans Ende der Welt' See 'Sehnsucht' Straufi, Botho, 10; 12; 18; 91-95; 203 See 'Anschwellender Bocksgesang' See 'Beginnlosigkeit' See 'Das Partikular' See 'Der Aufstand gegen die sekundare Welt' See 'Die Fehler des Kopisten' See 'Wohnen, Ddmmern, LUgen' See 'Zeit ohne Vorboten' Tawada, Yoko, 20; 213; 218-22 See 'Das Leipzig des Lichts und der Gelatine' See 'Opium fiir Ovid. Bin Kopfkissenbuch von 22 Frauen' Timm, Uwe, 17; 50; 51-2 See 'ROT' Treichel, Hans-Ulrich, 18; 91; 101-4; 229 See 'Lektionen der Leere. Eine Kindheit aufdem Lande. Oder wie ich Schriftsteller wurde' See 'Von Leib und Seek' See 'Der Verlorene' See 'Tristanakkord' Von Schonburg, Alexander, 179; 191 See 'Tristesse Royale' Von Stuckrad-Barre, Benjamin, 12; 178; 179; 181; 190; 191
See 'Deutsches Theater' See 'Livealbum' See 'Soloalbum' See 'Tristesse Royale' Wagner, Bernd, 17; 50; 53; 59 See 'Meine nachtblaue Hose' Walser, Martin, 10; 11; 15; 18; 19; 90; 100; 116; 127-41; 171; 189; 203 See 'Die Verteidigung der Kindheit' See 'Dorle und Wolf See 'Ein springender Brunnen' See 'Erfahrungen beim Verfassen einer Sonntagsrede' See 'Finks Krieg' See 'Gallist'sche Krankheit' See 'Kaschmir in Parching' See 'ohne einander' See 'Tod eines Kritikers' Wildenhain, Michael, 50 See 'Erste Liebe - Deutscher Herbst' Wittstock, Uwe, 15; 113-14 See 'Leselust. Wie unterhaltsam ist die neue deutsche Literatur' Woelk, Ulrich, 50 See 'Ruckspiel' See 'Die letzte Vorstellung' Wolf, Christa, 15; 105; 116 Zaimoglu, Feridun, 4; 184; 186; 213 See 'Abschaum' See 'German Amok' See 'Kanak Sprak' See 'Koppstoff' See 'Liebesmale, scharlachrot'
GERMAN LITERATURE IN THE AGE OF GLOBALISATION
INDEX OF PRIMARY TEXTS 2979 (2001), 179 abrauschen (1997), 182 Abschaum (1997), 184 Abschied von den Kriegsteilnehmern (1992), 149 "Alle oder keiner" (1999), 50 'Anschwellender Bocksgesang' (1994), 91-2 Ausflug nach Afrika (1999), 95
Dies ist kein Liebeslied (2002), 49; 50; 56-9 Dorle und Wolf (1987), 90 Ein hinreissender Schrotthandler (1999), 96-9 Ein springender Brunnen (1998), 95; 137-8; 139; 141 'Erfahrungen beim Verfassen einer Sonntagsrede' (1998), 134-5; 137; 141 Erste Liebe - Deutscher Herbst (1997), 50
Bauchlandungen (2000), 68; 78-9 Beginnlosigkeit (1992), 92 Bildnis eines Unsichtbaren (2002), 47; 49; 60-4
Faserknd (1995), 19; 178; 191-205 Feuerhnd (1992), 96 Finks Krieg (1996), 136-7 Pitchers Blau (1996), 15; 32; 145; 146; 148-162
Blauer Weg (1996), 149 cafe brazil (2001), 68; 74-5 Crazy (1999), 179 Damen & Herren (2002), 50; 52-3
Fruhstuck mit Max, 50 Gallist'sche Krankheit (1972), 102 Gedichte aufs Land (1998), 95
Das Dosenmikh-trauma (2000), 50 Das Echolot (1993; 1999), 229; 239-40 'Das Leipzig des Lichts und der Gelatine' (1991), 219-21 Das Partikular (2000), 92; 94 Das Provisorium (2000), 32-3 'Der Aufstand gegen die sekundare Welt' (1991), 93 Der Brand (2002), 230 Der Erottomane (1999), 214-18 Der Hunger der Kellnerin (1997), 80 Der Junge mit den blutigen Schuhen (1995), 229 Der Lebenslaufder Liebe (2001), 138-9 Der neue Koch (1997), 78 Der Tod und Ich, wir zwei (1996), 96 Der Verlorene (1998), 102; 229 Deutsches Theater (2001), 179 Die Erhorung (1995), 50 Die Fehler des Kopisten (1997), 92; 94 Die letzte VorsteUung (2002), 50
Gefdhrliche Verwandtschaft (1998), 214; 215 Generation Golf (2001), 41; 49; 50; 53; 176; 193 German Amok (2002), 4 Gut hut (1998), 180; 181 Heimatkunde oder alles ist heiter und edel (1996), 102 Hellblau (2002), 181 Herr Dieterichsen (1987), 174 Himmelskorper (2003), 76-8; 83-4 Ich war einmal (1989), 96 Im Krebsgang (2002), 77; 229; 242-4 irres wetter (2000), 182 Jakobs Letter (2003), 32; 33-6
Die Reise nach Trulala (2001), 223-5 Die Stdinorgel (1955), 231 Die Verachtung der Masse (1999), 12 Die Verteidigung der Kindheit (1991), 129-30; 131-2; 136; 141
Leselust. Wie unterhaltsam ist die neue deutsche Literatur (1995), 15; 113-14 Liebediener (1999), 78
Kanak Sprak (1995), 184 Kaschmir in Parching (1995), 128-9; 130 Kein Herz und keine Seek (1986), 95 Kontrolliert Geschichte (1988), 174 Koppstoff (1998), 184 'Lektionen der Leere. Eine Kindheit auf dem Lande', 101-2
Liebesmak, scharlachrot (2000), 184 Liegen lernen (2000), 49; 50; 53-4; 55-6
INDEX 251 Livealbum (1999), 191 Luftkrieg und Literatur (1999), 229 Luftpost. Gedichte Berlin - Barcelona (2001), 75-6 Lugen und Schweigen (2000), 80-1 Main erstes T-Shirt (2001), 28; 39-^0 Mein Hund, meine Saw, mein Leben (1994), 96 Maine nachtblaue Hose (2000), 50; 53; 59 Mode & Verzweiflung (magazine), 181 Nabokovs Katze (1999), 50; 52 Nidits als Gespenster (2003), 67; 73-1 Niemandszeit (2002), 244 ohne einander (1993), 130-1; 133 Opium fiir Ovid. Ein Kopfkissenbuch von 22 Frauen (2001), 221-2 Porkony lacht (2003), 56 Rave (1997), 180 Regenroman (1999), 29-31; 41; 119 Relax (1997), 178 Rosa (2002), 42-3 ROT (2001), 50; 51-2 Ruckspiel (1993), 50 Russendisko (2000), 222; 223-4 Schonhauser Allee (2001), 222
Seegfrorne (1999), 118 Sehnsucht (2002), 11; 99-101 Simple Storys (1998), 27; 36-8; 117 Soloalbum (1998), 178; 191 Sammerhaus, spater (1998), 67; 74 Spielzone (1999), 76 Staft Land Flufi (1999), 118 SwWto (1983), 174 land (2001), 68; 81-3 Tangogeschichten (2002), 68; 79-81 The Church of John F. Kennedy (1996), 181 Tod ernes Kritikers (2002), 130-1; 133; 140 Tomboy (1999), 180; 181 Tristanakkord (2000), 102^ Tristesse Royale (1999), 179; 192 Vergeltung (1956), 231 Volubilis. Oder Meine Reise ans Ende der Welt (1999), 95 Von Leib und Seek (1992), 102 Wiildchestag (2000), 18; 118-24 Weiberroman (1997), 50; 52; 59-60 Wohnen, Dammern, Lugen (1994), 92 'Zeit ohne Vorboten' (1999), 93-5 Zonenkinder (2002), 40-2