Are you lying about money

Cahiers d'Études Germaniques

1Why Brecht when it comes to the lie? Brecht does not appear in Peter von Matt's far-reaching structural investigation of literary intrigue1, probably because, although lies are depicted in Brecht's most diverse forms, they are hardly the stumbling block on which the dramatic world order gets into disorder and then drives it into catastrophe like the lie of Iago to Othello. For Brecht, the lie is not the exception, but everyday, always tied into a ramified network of conditions, constraints and dubious consequences.

2One can say more precisely why it seems promising to ask the poet, but also the philosopher Brecht, about the lie: Everyone who deals with the subject today gets into a strange dilemma. On the one hand, the concept of the lie is still commonplace and indispensable. Indispensable not only in the religious-moral area, but actually everywhere, in private, i.e. in love, friendship, family, where the lie is not without reason as corrosive, but also in politics and society, where it can cost everyone's reputation, for one Lie getting caught. "Lie" is one of the most important battle concepts here; Lie, a word that, as you can easily see in countless Internet entries, combines to form new compounds, but must not be, at least can hardly be admitted with impunity.

On the other hand, the concept of the lie has been, let's say roughly, since Marx and Nietzsche and Freud theoretically highly questionable because without metaphysics it stands on weak legs. What remains of the moral condemnation of the lie if one no longer believes in a religious or moral authority of an absolute nature? What if one no longer presupposes the objectivity of perception and its instruments? When one speaks of the unconscious or of ideology as an objectively false consciousness? Where is the line drawn between deliberate false statements, self-lies, life lies, misperceptions, narrow-mindedness and many other terms in this field?

4Most philosophers have been happy to forego this vague term since the 20th century and look for more precise ones, which, of course, do not have the same function.

5This creates an interesting split that is hardly unparalleled: one term is used everywhere, the theoretical durability of which is fundamentally in question.

6We should take both very seriously: the fact that we can no longer justify an ethic (and therein the prohibition of lying) which, as Ernst Tugendhat puts it, "somehow absolutely weighs on us, like a secularized voice of God" 2, and the fact that in reality we all cannot do without the concept of lies. That is where the whole difficulty lies, at least if one does not completely ignore the ethical area in favor of the aesthetic. Those who are interested in the philosophical articulation of the problem are, by the way, virtues Lectures on ethics from 1993 warmly recommended, an attempt to establish the obligatory character of morality without any recourse to metaphysics. It shows brilliantly that even Kant's “Reason in bold print” 3, as he calls it, is a successor to the concept of God; he tears apart the justifications of the utalitarists and the contractualists, rejects the idea of ​​an innate moral sense - and ends up justifying it quite this worldly “morality of universal respect” 4 in revealing difficulties which cannot be the place to pursue here. In any case, it should be noted that the a priori ban on lying, which was modified in many ways and amputated out of human love between Augustine and the Enlightenment, was valid and in the German tradition through Kant's idealism and Goethe's classical humanism of the time Iphigenia was once again universalized on this basis, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries it lost its extramundal point of reference and with it its unquestionable legitimacy

7 So what is needed is no new, coherent moral philosophy, a task that has apparently confronted the brightest minds of the 20th century with insurmountable difficulties (but not the stupidest). 6 What is needed is a (lying) morality that gets by without the rigid dualism of Good and bad, without the belief in a “predetermined order of commandments and prohibitions imposed on human existence” 7 a practical morality, that is, a critical, changeable one.

8Here is the place where we can expect suggestions from Brecht. Given the scope of his work, this can of course only be done randomly. Randomly and on a large scale. Before I turn to the first sample, Brechts Baal of 1919, one thing should be said in advance: one can call Brecht an immoralist, praise or blame him as such, but in any case he is not an agnostic, to put it simply: he is convinced that one can find out the truth. Certainly not in a simple way, not by everyone without effort everywhere, not every truth at any time, because it changes over time. For a variety of changing reasons it has long been not easy to write them, to disseminate them, to ensure their effectiveness. None of this changes the fact that Brecht, as practically as we ourselves and even the philosophers in their everyday life, assumes that there are truths and lies and strategies for differentiating them. Perhaps he lacks some school-philosophical arguments against epistemological relativism, but he would certainly know how to put forward an irrefutable: who a priori denies that things can be reliably recognized, he leaves them as they are - and as they are, they shouldn't stay.

9Brechts Baal is a bad fellow, a fat, voracious drunkard, lazy, horny, without religion, without consideration, without limits, selfish - beaten with all vices. He seduces the innocent, underage girlfriend of his friend Johannes, then pushes and rejects her until she goes into the water like Ophelia and with better reasons. He is outrageous and shameless. He makes the wife of his office boss submissive. Baal “cannot be relied on” 8, he harms his work colleagues, he still steals the liquor supplies from the dead. He impregnates the opera singer Sophie Dechant, destroys her career and life. He even cheats on the negro John, his impresario, which is known to be politically incorrect. He blasphemes God, corrupts all souls, including those of his friend Ekart, to whom he first leads his discarded wives, whom he is tired of, with whom he then sleeps himself and whom he finally murders. In the end we see Baal die, at least we crawl, finished, but not repentant.

10The remarkable thing from our point of view is that Baal, this completely amoral Baal, fat body of all the vices of this world, that Baal does not lie. 9 This absolutely selfish person is absolutely honest. The very first scene shows it. While the poetry reading soirée in the bourgeois home, whose star Baal is invited as a young poet, takes its usual course, he fills his immoderate belly and drinks himself full. Bottled in this way, he expresses himself disrespectfully to all sorts of poems that are read: “This is nonsense” 10 and then laughing and drinking to address the art-loving guests: “This one is stupid and ordinary and empty like a brothel, but she has soft loins and never gets full. He stains himself and buys lovely pictures to go with it. She deceives him who is a monster with him who is a dude. [...] don't pretend, you are swine too, and I like that. It's still the best thing about you, believe me, the very best. ”11 The scandal is inevitable, and neither is the forced eviction:“ Do I have to eat your chatter to be able to stuff my stomach? Lick my ass. "12

11And so on, in all situations, including those between the thighs. I'll spare us the examples. In short: Baal is an animal: “The favorite place / on earth was always the toilet for him.” 13 His strategy is: “You have to lure the animal out!” 14 “You are a creature, Mr. Baal!” 15 say the carters. “Lock out your own mother! That's beastly! ”16 says his mother. “I thought he was an orangutan,” 17 says the opera singer before giving in to him. “You blaspheme God. You are an animal. You are the animal. The primal animal! A dirty, hungry animal that is beautiful and mean, ”18 says the clergyman. Baal is a beast, a pig, which one could argue for him morally at the Last Judgment against all the wagoners, mothers, opera singers and clergymen of the world, if the mere fact that he does not lie. Of course, this would be a misunderstanding before God. He does not renounce the lie because there would be a moral limit for him, but because vertebrate people who live their immediate needs do not have to lie. The strong do not need to lie, Achilles already said.19 Of course, he died while Odysseus, strong but also cunning, survived the Trojan War. Baal is only fat, not physically strong, but he becomes strong in his amorality, not least because he refuses to lie. His power of seduction stems from precisely this. He is the negative image of the noble libertine à la Valmont or Don Giovanni. He does not kill his vain-naive female victims by making them tremble in their knees and loins with superior, courtly rhetoric, but by renouncing all rhetoric and thus also all lies and saying what he wants:

EMMI: You are rude.
BAAL: You know that. 20

12Shame is closely related to conscience. Freud got in a few years later TheDiscomfort in culture21 uncovered what constitutes Baal's fascination: he is unaffected by culture, shame, remorse and conscience, he lives his lust sourly and thus attracts the admiration of all those who are tormented by civilization, by civilization, who always includes lying. Baal is common in the immediate sense of the word, but he is also an allegory of what is common to all creatures, primitive-elemental.

The simple finding remains that the surest remedy against the lie is regression on the animal's status. Like it or not, the lie is an achievement of civilization. Even then, as recent research has shown, the difference between humans and animals is of course not as great as we would like to see. It is not without reason that Peter von Matt begins his already quoted book on intrigue with reflections on the African devil mantis, Idolum diabolicum, about plants and animals that use deception in order to survive or to gain an evolutionary advantage. Animals and plants are only human too. “Nonetheless,” von Matt admits, “the monopoly of lies has been given to humans since ancient times.” 22 In any case, we have made it further in lying than animals and plants, we can take that to our credit if we do want. Reinecke Fuchs almost has to become human to be able to be smart.

Of course, the aporias of the Baal attitude cannot be overlooked. It cannot be generalized, if only because it is tied to a strong individuality. Not everyone is François Villon, one of the inspirers of Brecht's youth work, not everyone is, shall we say, Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Before the Kantian categorical imperative, Baal's attitude would have no chance of validity. She couldn't care less. Another objection us but not. He came from the side of the victims. Can vital, happiness-oriented life be unconcerned about the damage it causes? Even if one answered in the affirmative, an existential question would remain: How can the animal be prevented from failing in civilization, powerful as it is now? Let us not forget: in the end Baal is on his knees, not repentant, but still on his knees. And he says: “I'm not a rat.” 23 The anarchist radical solution to the problem of lies, all ethical problems, are set in the way of memorabilia.

Brecht gradually saw this, but still Kragler, the central figure of Drumming in the night,at the end says to the revolutionaries who want to induce him to participate: “My flesh should rot in the gutter so that your ideas go to heaven? Are you drunk? ”And at the end the pig metaphor comes up again:“ I'm a pig and the pig is going home. ”24 In the pigsty called Welt, but still alive. In any case, Baal has not let go of Brecht. In 1926 he tried another version, the fourth overall by then (Biography of the man Baal). Around 1930 he wrote sketches for a fifth, in the form of a teaching piece. The evil Baal the anti-social should the piece be called. In 1938 he bends over the text again for the project of his collected works: “Baal flew over [...]. Too bad. [...] Baal, the provocateur, the admirer of things as they are, the liver of himself and the liver of Andrea. His 'Do what you enjoy!' Would produce a lot if handled correctly. ”25 In 1955, Brecht revised the piece one last time for the advanced edition. In this context, the essay "When looking through my pieces." It says about Baal: "The piece Baal may cause all kinds of difficulties for those who have not learned to think dialectically. You will see little else in it than the glorification of naked selfishness. I leave it as it is as I don't have the strength to change it; I don't even feel like explaining. I admit the piece lacks wisdom. ”26

16It is part of wisdom to come to terms with what cannot be changed. The most important, the deepest, the only reliable driver of change, however, is the desire to finally be able to do what is fun. In his already mentioned lectures on ethics, Tugenthat comes to the conclusion “that the will of individuals is the only conceivable non-transcendent background from which practical things can be justified.” 27 This is how philosophers speak. Brecht sees the same thing from an aesthetic perspective and thinks it energetically: “Aesthetic pleasure must not emancipate itself too much from fun; this occupies a sufficiently high position in a materialist society. And if the actor becomes too good, how should he then raise the dark reserves of vitality (not yet socialized life force) that lie in the asocial. ”28

We see why Brecht, the Marxist Brecht, does not want to give up Baal, which is not at all Marxist. At the same time, however, we must state that he does not succeed in conveying his egoistic vitality at least aesthetically with a materialistically minded society. It seemed to him that he just didn't have the time. That is not certain, because Brecht also fails because of the didactic play project that was pursued between 1926 and 1932 The downfall of the egoist Johannes Fatzer, of which only extensive fragments exist. Fatzer, also a “self-exuberant” and “other ex-exterminator”, an egoist, manages to turn his back on war that is not his, but it goes under because it remains alone and thus weak, also because it claims to be happy don't like to procrastinate. As Heiner Müller writes, the text is “a text of the century, in terms of linguistic quality and density.” 29 Müller made a stage version from it30 and had “Fatzer” performed as the first Brecht play under his directorship at the Berliner Ensemble.31 The truly unsolved question of how vital happiness claims and socialist society can be conveyed, according to Müller, was the theoretically and theatrically advanced question that Brecht left us, beyond the rhetoric of the classic exile pieces that all too often make the impression, the answer to the ever asked questions.

About the duty to lie for the sake of the socialist future (The measure)

It is well known that towards the end of the twenties, under the influence of Karl Korsch, Brecht approached Marxism and tried to develop a new form of theater that would correspond to the new way of thinking, the didactic play. We know from Rainer Steinweg that Brecht considered it the most technically advanced form of his theater.32 The best-known of the didactic pieces is The measure, There are two versions of which were made in 1930 and 1931.33 The plot of the short play is as simple as it is terrible: A small group of comrades clandestinely crosses the border from Soviet Russia into China, which is extremely brutally exploited, to meet the workers there agitate. You will be accompanied by a local young comrade on behalf of the party. They erase their identity with masks at the border so that they cannot be recognized.The young comrade agrees with the teaching of the control choir, a kind of party court: “Whoever fights for communism must be able to fight and not fight; tell the truth and not tell the truth [...] keep promises and don't keep them. [...]. Whoever fights for communism has only one of all virtues: that he fights for communism. ”34 The oppression in China is brutal, the baseness is great and so is the suffering of the workers. The young comrade repeatedly fails to behave tactically in the service of the cause, to camouflage his sympathy and willingness to help and thereby endangers the mission. In the end, he tears his mask off. “THE FOUR AGITATORS And we looked back and forth in the twilight / We saw his bare face / Human, open and innocent.” 35 This openness, the renunciation of lies and pretenses, however, puts the agitators in mortal danger and the mission in danger of Failure. So they decide to kill the young comrade and throw him into a lime pit to wipe him out completely. The instructed young comrade, who finally realizes the unintentionally bad consequences of his moral actions, asks to kill him. The four agitators kill him and therefore survive, their cause with them, and they ask the control choir - thus also the actors and the audience - the question of whether their actions were correct.

19The play was immediately understood by those who despised it as a cynical self-exposure of communist morality, 36 forgetting that so far few historical movements have come to power without lying and without killing. In any case, Brecht took two radical turns with regard to the early pieces: Baal and Kragler anarchistically insist on the here and now and immediately of happiness, refusing to renounce pleasure in favor of the promise of happiness in a distant future. The last instance is the self and its well-being, the rest is morality and religion and illusion. The measure on the other hand inscribes himself in a whole series of Brecht pieces from the time at the end of the Weimar Republic that experiment with the first-person task. Vitalism is replaced by discipline to the extreme, anarchism by consent. Brecht tries to escape the aporias of radical individualism by subordinating the individual to the collective, to replace anti-ethics with a philosophy of history. 37

The Moscow trials of 1936 at the latest have shown bloody that communist lies for self-assertion against superior violence have the fatal tendency to turn into murderous systems of lies. Lies just want to give birth forever more lies. Brecht's theoretical model is coherent, but only if lies and violence and renunciation of immediate happiness, if even murder, can be thought in transit, no, can not only be thought, but really in transit are: “It is still up to us, we said / Not granted, not to kill.” 38 And not to lie, one could add, one should add. Of course, we make it too easy for ourselves when we deal with the bloody aporias of the measure alone more obduratespecificascribed to our analysis of Kleist's hope for communist salvation The Hermann Battle has resulted in a drama of a completely different kind, in which the costs of total patriotic-Germanic mobilization in the war for freedom against the Romans are inscribed.39 All absolutism of the goals, be it religious or political, patriotic or communist, has the germ of murder in it. This is no longer our situation, luckily. I think we, the participants in this conference on lies, are fortunate enough to have lied but not killed anyone. We shouldn't rashly attribute this to our virtue. We have the customs officers in front of Lampedusa who keep us off our necks like this.

Exile / split (The good man of Sezuan)/ Say yes (Schweyk) / The impossibility of escaping the lie ("The Jewish woman") / Saying no later (The Keuner story by Mr Egge)

21Brecht's texts from the exile time and again play out scenarios of how one can survive the violence. The only thing they have in common is the certainty that one cannot survive them without a lie and that without physical survival there is no survival of the idea that one can live without violence. With Brecht, the truth needs people, those who know the truth and those who pass it on, otherwise it is just a chimera.

22 In the parabolic piece The good man from Sezuan (1938-1940) 40 the gods come to earth to find proof that one can live as a good person on the earth they have created. They find Shen Te, a prostitute who wants to be good and yet again and again ruins herself in the process, so that she finally splits into the good Shen Te and her ruthless cousin Shui Ta. Only a lying ego-splitting enables her to achieve at least half to save their goodness. In the end it becomes clear what everyone knows, but the gods do not want to know that “to be good and yet live” 41, even to be good and yet to love in the world is not (yet?) Possible. “We would be good - instead of so raw, but the circumstances are not like that.” 42

23In Schweyk (1943) takes up an elementary survival strategy, that of the figure of the completely amoral, infinitely changeable trickster, 43 that of the Czech writer Jaroslav Hasek in his novel The good soldier Schweik was brought into the literature of the 20th century. Schweijk's survival is based on the technique of unconditionally saying yes to whatever power commands him, whatever power: “In times like this one has to submit. It is a matter of practice. ”44 All questions of whatever morality remain hidden from his horizon, consequently also those of lying. He doesn’t have Shen-Te’s problem, and by no means has that of the young comrade The measure. That is why it does not end in the lime pit, but rather eats goulash in the "chalice". The k.u.k. Soldier and dog catcher is in no situation in which he could afford any morality, not even a broken one. There is also the crucial difference to figures like Baal and Fatzer. Svejk has no character or individuality, it consists only of examples, stories and yes-sayings, often with catastrophic consequences for those who insist on their ego

Under the pressure of the violence of National Socialism, civilized but wretched lies are only found in the bourgeois milieu, where one is not too poor for morality but too cowardly to afford it. This is what the best scene tells about Fear and misery of the III. Rich with the title “The Jewish woman.” It shows a bourgeois woman, “one of those bourgeois women who keep servants, etc., and now only blondes should be allowed to be?” 46, as she in an imaginary dialogue with her Aryan husband says about herself as she packs her bags to go into exile, alone. Everything is defied here. First, the story of her departure for "a few weeks" 47 is repeatedly told differently over the phone to four interlocutors, but always in such a way that the truth is politely hidden: the truth that the Jewish woman is going into exile in order to survive and her Aryan To spare husband difficulties in his clinic. Then two imaginary farewell dialogues with this very husband, in which a bit of truth peeks out from beneath the considerate self-lie, exactly at the point where she says to him: "By the way, I'm not angry". And then immediately follows the sentence: "But it's me. Why should I see everything. ”48 The only hope that remains is a very reduced, very private one:“ Yes, I'll pack. You don't have to pretend that you haven't noticed the last few days, Fritz, everything is fine, just one thing: that we don't look each other in the eye in the last hour that remains for us. They are not allowed to achieve that, the liars, who force everyone to lie. ”49 But“ they ”achieve it. When the man finally steps in (“You know that I am unchanged, do you know that, Judith?” 50) and the real farewell dialogue develops, the lie also comes in and takes up all of the space. It's “only a few weeks” he says at the end and hands her the fur coat for the next winter. 51

We feel on the part of the Jewish woman, whose polite attitude, determined by the conventions of civil consideration and discursive veils, seems strangely inadequate. She has no other, only rudimentarily speaking to herself. We find him cowardly and mendacious, the senior doctor, who is still her husband and yet not a man. Brecht knew that and wanted it. The right to lie to survive, to avert harm, not to one's own body, but to social well-being, which he laughingly grants Schweyk, does not apply to the Aryan husband of the Jewish woman. The lie to survive doesn't care who is being lied to and why, who survives and how.

The Jewish woman and her husband both cannot say true and, above all, cannot say no, civilized as they are. But being able to say no is important, sometimes vital. This brings us to the most famous Keuner story, which actually consists of two stories, more precisely, an allegory and a fairy tale52:

When Mr. Keuner, the thinker, spoke out against the violence in a hall in front of many, he noticed how people shrank back from him and walked away, looked around and saw standing behind him - the violence.
“What did you say?” The violence asked him.
“I spoke out in favor of violence,” replied Mr. Keuner.
When Mr. Keuner left, his students asked him about his backbone. Mr. Keuner replied: “I have no backbone to break. I especially have to live longer than violence. "
And Mr. Keuner told the following story:
One day, during the period of illegality, an agent came to the apartment of Mr. Egge, who had learned to say no, and showed a certificate, which had been issued in the name of those who ruled the city and which said that every apartment in which he sets foot should belong to him; in the same way, every meal that he asked should belong to him; every man he saw should serve him in the same way.
The agent sat down in a chair, asked for food, washed himself, lay down and asked with his face to the wall before going to sleep: "Will you serve me?"
Herr Egge covered him with a blanket, drove away the flies, watched over his sleep, and as on that day he obeyed him for seven years. But whatever he did for him, one thing he was careful not to do: that was to say a word. When the seven years were up and the agent had grown fat from eating, sleeping and commanding, the agent died. Then Mr. Egge wrapped him in the rotten blanket, dragged him out of the house, washed the camp, whitewashed the walls, breathed a sigh of relief and answered: "No". (18, 14)

The first part of the story is actually banal. It is lied at risk of death. One may well be allowed to do that, although the students are obviously not entirely convinced, which is why Keuner tells them another story to justify himself. Because you can also see it differently: Isn't the backbone broken in any case, in one case physically, in the other symbolically, but with consequences for the idea that can go much further than just a human lifetime? Keuner / Brecht know the objection, otherwise it wouldn't say “straight I must live longer than violence. ”Your objection is both valid and problematic at the same time. Should only the bearers of knowledge like Mr. Keuner have the right to the survival lie? What knowledge? Why? This is not acted out. But Brecht also knew that there was still a doubt. He put the story in the first version of his Galileo and there Galileo's pupil Andrea says: “I don't like the story, Mr. Galilei.” 53

The second story in history is probably so well-known and popular because it suggests that through cunning, even under the rule of violence, reconciliation is possible between the legitimate will to survive and loyalty to the idea, loyalty to the prohibition of lying. Kant would have liked Mr. Egge. But wasn't he the bodyguard of violence for seven years, assiduously guaranteeing her wellbeing? What good is obedience to the prohibition of lying to obedience to violence? Whom has mindfulness of moral purity been of any use? In any case, history has its pitfalls, whether Brecht consciously incorporated it or not.

If we look from today, then most of the attitudes outlined by Brecht towards National Socialist violence no longer really excite us. This can be verified by the performance history, which is thinning out. On the one hand, this is undoubtedly very good. We no longer have this problem in Germany, France and even in Western Europe. But there is a second reason, which is also mentioned, but not pursued further here. We are no longer interested in the Kantian problem of whether one can lie out of human love, even for one's own survival, no longer in principle. We decided for ourselves: Yes, you can, under some conditions, on which, of course, there is no public agreement. In the dispute between Kant and Constant, however, we are now more on Constant's side, including most of the Germans.54 A sure sign is our legal order, which, if by no means neutral, codifies a certain social consensus. Only when the oath is taken does the lie face severe punishment. But the oath is taken on a higher authority of indubitable validity, ultimately on God and that in a society in which only a small minority still believes in it and its statutes. There can hardly be better evidence for the thesis that the absolute prohibition of lying cannot be justified without recourse to God.

In any case: it obviously doesn't matter who is lying and what for. Not only does Brecht mean that. The lying text by Jankélévitch, one of the few thinkers in the French language who in the 20th century took the lie directly as an intent to think, comes to the same result. That, it seems to me, can be (with caution, but nevertheless) recorded as a general result of our deliberations.55 Peter Sloterdijk, who once wrote a really clever book, the Critique of Cynical Reason56, distinguishes the cynicism of the rulers from the cynicism of the ruled since Diogenes, who happily show the bare ass of the ruling morality, indeed of all morality, in the marketplace. There would have to be a linguistic sign of the lie that made this difference between cynical master lies and self-sustaining, happy lies of the ruled linguistically clear. But we don't have it.

The lie for the sake of the good life / The lies of the seller / The lies out of mercy / The lies for the sake of survival / And the lie as a betrayal of knowledge as well as of social progress for the many

31Brecht's piece Life of Galileo was also created in exile, it also deals with the handling of knowledge with power, thus also the problem of lies. Nevertheless, due to its complexity, it occupies a special position, a kind of synthesis of many figures of lies that we have already visited. Synthesis, however, not in the sense of a solution, but of the accumulation of questions that are held up to the viewer.

32Brecht tells the story of Galileo not in the classic drama form, but as a sequence of scenes. Galileo lives in 17th century Italy, is a brilliant physicist who, with the help of his telescope, proves the heliocentric Copernican view of the world and thus the untenability of the traditional geocentric Ptolemaic view of the world, in short, he proves that the earth revolves around the sun and not that Universe around the earth imagined as a disk. But if heaven is empty and central teachings of church authority are wrong, the basis of the power of the church, indeed the basis of all power, is also endangered. This leads to a conflict with the Curia, which arrests him and has the Inquisition show him the instruments of torture that are waiting for him if he does not withdraw. To the great disappointment of his young students, he withdraws, survives alone in his country house under strict surveillance, but secretly completes his main physical work there, the Discorsithat his student Andrea secretly brings across the border in the last scene. Before that, teachers and students have their big talk, which is about tactics, lies for survival (of the knower and thus the knowledge) and thus also about betrayal.

Before we turn to this core question, it should at least be indicated that the play shows all sorts of lies, by no means just variants of the huge Lie that is at the center. Such is the clever lie of the enjoyable scientist Galilei, who was suffering from lifelong financial difficulties, who claims that a telescope invented in Holland is his own invention and is being paid dearly by the Venetian Republic.

A completely different kind of lying is addressed by Galileo, where he distinguishes between reason and cunning: “I am not talking about their cunning. I know they call the donkey a horse when they sell it, and the horse a donkey when they want to buy it. ”57 This is a behavior that Marx already revealed in his analysis of goods and with the concept of the“ character mask “Has designated. People not only make markets, but markets also people and their lies and dissimulations.58 It is not just used car and donkey sellers who, in the role of the seller, emphasize the quality of the goods and cover up their weaknesses; in the role of the buyer, on the other hand, the quality try to reduce it as much as possible. Anyone who does not act like this is certainly not acting cleverly.

After all, there is in the Galileo a third category of lies that is seldom found in Brecht, the lies out of mercy. They form the core of the dispute between Galileo and the little monk, who, after realizing the consequences of the truth found by Galileo, of the doubt about the divine control of the world, considers the consequences for his parents, who are poor peasants in the Campagna and from whom the only consolation in their misery would be robbed by the new truth: “So there is no eye on us, they say. […] There is no point in our misery, hunger is simply not having eaten, not a test of strength; Exertion is just bending down and dragging, no merit. Do you understand then that I read from the decree of the Holy Congregation a noble maternal compassion, a great kindness of soul? ”59 As far as the motives of the Congregation, which incriminates Galileo's teaching, he is mistaken, but nevertheless the talk of the little one remains for me Mönchs the most poignant passage of the whole piece. We cannot follow Galileo's answer here, which ends in the sentence: “Should I lie to your people?” 60 Brecht agrees with Galileo against the little monk and finally lets him become a physicist, but that only solves his problem of lying out of mercy here. Anyone who has ever accompanied a cancer patient to death knows it: “You are not a doctor, you don't have to lie” 61 says in the final scene by Heiner Müller Germania death in Berlin the old bricklayer, suffering from cancer, to the young comrade who visits him at the bedside. But he has to.

Let's get back to the core conflict and the question of how Brecht puts it: It's about dealing with the truth, a new, great, truly revolutionary, revolutionary one at least in astronomy, physics, but also religion and, in general, the social order: "GALILEO: I tell you: Anyone who doesn't know the truth is just a fool. But whoever knows it and calls it a lie is a criminal! ”62 Incidentally, the sentence is later quoted by Galileo's pupil Andrea when he tries to assure himself that Galileo will not be revoked despite the Inquisition. But he revokes it. Let us be clear: this is not about Baal-style truths that even elegant women can be damp under their skirts, although there too resonates a general truth that Freud, the scientist, provoked his contemporaries with Truth of the power of sexuality over us, which is in the Baal Condensed in the animal metaphor, from the outset it is about the undisputed, very great and important truths. But Galileo revokes them against his better judgment, a liar and criminal.

37He recalls it before the violence for two reasons that we already know. The first: He is a connoisseur: "Everything a great man does is not big / And Galileo liked to eat well." 63 Enjoyment is the prerequisite for his productivity: "When I eat good food, I think of most." 64 Galileo , this renaissance person, has some things from Baal, just a little more subtle. The difference, to name him schematically, is that he knows that research can also be a pleasure, for which Baal's elementary desire for happiness has no patience. The other difference is not concealed either. In contrast to Baal's, we learn nothing of the famous Professor Sexuallust, all the more of his culinary delights. Perhaps that was the case with older professors during the Renaissance.

38 In any case, Galileo is a character. Without him, his scientific achievement would be inconceivable. There is no mask on his face like the young comrade in The measure is expected. On the contrary. The representatives of the Curia put on the masks: “Well, let's go back to our masks. Poor Galileo has none. ”65

39But Galileo wants to live, wants to live like Schweyk wants to live. But he's not a world-famous scientist, but an k.u.k. Soldier with no alternative. Schweyk has none, Galileo has one, the one to save his skin and betray his truth with a public lie, or to become a martyr. The legitimacy of the enjoyment claim and the legitimacy of the will to survive of one who is the bearer of knowledge are dramaturgically let loose on the demand to tell and spread the truth for the sake of the many. That is the core conflict of Galileo.

40 The answer is not clear. The first draft, dated 1939, strikes the balance between condemning the betrayal of the truth and the shrewd survival tactics that made it possible Discorsi to save humanity. With the American versions, worked out with Laughton, the piece slips in the direction of condemnation of treason, and consequently of lies.66 The last version, the one from 1955/56, focuses on Galileo's self-criticism at the end of the piece, in which much cited passage: “In time you may discover everything there is to be discovered, and your progress will only be a progression away from humanity. The gap between you and you may one day become so great that your cry of joy at a new achievement could be answered by a universal cry of horror. "67 Galileo, so he says in his self-accusation, was wrong, out of a legitimate lust for the good life legitimate fear of torture to disrupt the connection between technological and social progress.

41 One can see the story of the Galileo play as a gradual remoralization of Brecht's discourse. That is not entirely wrong. However, it can also be interpreted as a very concrete reaction to the shock of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the strategies of rearmament in the Federal Republic and the related questions of the responsibility of knowledge over power.

In any case, one thing seems certain to me: Brecht has repeatedly resolved the question of lies from the context of absolute morality, illuminating it in many extremes - but he has not resolved it, either theoretically or politically. He gave them back to us as concrete, historical, as ours.

Haut de page