Somewhat shakily, tottering, revelation and the spiritual in art managed to survive intact after being banged around from the forces of the new objectivity.It is an absurd state of mind Brecht was latching onto to express alienation in a form where there was consciousness absent a foundation of underlying consciousness, the wandering jew, uprooted and destined to confront risk as free floating universal thought; overly proximate and comprehensive identification with objectivity marked by no subjective resistance to it, knee-deep in the big muddy of hyper-consciousness of an outer reality that was, and is, the new objectivity. Buber, Kandinsky and Klee were falling by the wayside, disconnected with the new reality; benjamin and his commitment to the contemporary emancipatory potential of technology sitting glumly and dispirited beside a yearning for the mystic and nostalgic. But as Brecht asserted, the new objectivity can also hold its eternal element, but one devoid of angels, and the messiah. No wiggle room for redemption ,saviours, auras, and prophecy between the twin whammy, the two-fer of Hitler and Stalin. No, here depth of thought is merely depth, the conceptual black hole of Marcel Duchamp of which its better to ignore or avoid since it is just depth as a separate dimension without substance. …
It seemed to Brecht, as it seemed to many Germans during those years, that Germany’s stuffy official aims and attitudes and repressions had no right to claim even pragmatic success: the war had been lost; the currency was debased and useless, and the regimes kept on imploding. Through it all, what was left of the self-righteous, phlegmatic middle-class sat placidly on its property, Germany, amiably digesting the political parties one after the other. In the background lay a setting that Brecht projected theatrically to America and particularly to Chicago, in the images of such plays as St. Joan of the Stockyards- the lush, phosphorescent jungle city through which pathetic human animals slink, quickly degenerating, goaded by genetical hungers and visceral fears.
To express the situation on a stage was not enough for Brecht. Something specific-political- had to be done. Despite his lifelong conviction that truth is concrete, he shared the German weakness for abstraction. Along with many of his generation Brecht became first a pacifist, then a Marxist, and ultimately, although it seems he never officially joined the Party- a professed Communist. By the end of the twenties in Germany the Communists seemed to Brecht and many others the one political group with humanitarian ideals, hoever distant their realization, that had not sold out to the old order and the industrial and financial barons. Nazism was gathering force, and Brecht, always primarily an intuitive personality, discerned readily the dark threat of the national character and began to grow very frightened by it.
Once aligned with the Communists, Brecht became or rather imagined himself to have become- the most desperate of revolutionaries. His affected cryptic air and casual toughness was part of his bent headlong effort at survival; he was convinced that only the cunning survive long, he became a virtuoso of guile which in sum, squeaked him past a lifelong succession of authorities, each hopeful of separating him from his principles or at least finding out what they were.
As Brecht”s political attitude took shape, so did his style. the rhetoric of the earlier plays with their heroes heaving and sighing over the loneliness of the individual spirit, gave way to a new stage language that was terse, ironic, specific, and often brutal. An unashamed borrower all his life, Brecht picked his spare prose rhythms out of the Martin Luther Bible. He learned to set a coarse idea in Swabian gutturals, so that the sounds of the words underscored their meanings. ( to be continued)
So, in the Brechtian sense, was there really that much loose frontier between obedience and freedom. Ironically, Brecht shared some of this border crossing into no-man’s land that endures today: religion and government of tradition and authority that was unacceptable, the hermetically sealed world of the past without any even pretensions of creating an entirely new world, hidebound as it is with ritual and repression, but really more rickety and contrived than the versions of modernity proposed, today “evolved” as post-modernism, the mutation which opens itself to reason, logic and power of sensation groping for meaning between extremism, radicalism, extreme forms of atheism and the orthodoxy of orthodox religious confrontation, jihadism and other fundamentalisms that can still whip the faithful into a war dance. In a world mediated by images, the image itself at its core captures the sense of confrontation, the autohrity of the seemingly infallible fact loaded with the intimidating quality that backs perceptual certitude with an indifferent objectivity that makes a mockery of what is truly human.
For Brecht, the art was grappling with the essence of the modern world and boling down, smelting, what we see as standardized, homogenized objectivity so we can get a glimpse of unyielding, stubborn alienness that ambiently, and imperceptibly travels through an almost clinical description of the synthetic enivronment that is our day to day lot. But artificializing does impact us, the human soul, though Brecht never crossed that precipice, to the point where the ideals of total artificiality can be seen in the light of day as when one turns over a rock and watches the bugs scramble for obscurity. The rat race is staying a few steps of head of the hell hound of artificiality overtaking thorugh the seduction of grotesque glamour that inwardly reduces usto actors of feeling and emotions we don’t posses, understand or even care about.