Monday, October 1, 2007
not making waves
If the "hard things do give way," as Brecht wrote, it is hardly a reassurance, although it is one that Benjamin holds onto, and esteems, when he speaks of Brecht. We might be inclined to want this--the passing away of tension, the eventual ease of transformation, the hopeful sense that change is endless--but with Brecht, one does not dwell with this too long. More than the sense that things can change (and counter to the obvious rendition of "change, not mere interpretation"), Brecht seems to find that the sense of "being otherwise" depends upon a tenuous perception of the difference between the rules that govern and the society that persists. The insight here is perhaps not so profound, but what I think Brecht offers is the idea that art is not there to change or even to reflect the possibility of change, but that art is there to maintain this tenuousness. What is the work of maintaining this disjunct, one that might be seen to correspond to the inadequacy of the relationship between content and form, or between reality and representation?