Cultural Mobility in Near Eastern Literatures

Protocol: Workshop at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, 1st and 2nd July 2003

When Love Kills. Contributions to a Comparative Literary Anthropology

Introduction: Friederike Pannewick

Friederike Pannewick raised in her introductory comments the question about the construction of historical, religious and economic constellations in which Eros, power, death, and literature are entangled. She asked about the specific role of mystics within this framework, about the meaning of religious martyrdom, and about the Abbasid poets' concept of death and love.
Claiming the validity of an anthropological concept in literature, she mentioned Luhmann's perception of love as a code of communication. In this introduction to the seminar, Friederike Pannewick discussed the different aspects of martyrdom, sacrifice, love death,  transformation of loss into ethical superiority, lust and passion in times of aggression and war, as well as the psychological aspects of mourning and suffering, in the framework of the question of whether the phenomenon of "martyrs of love" is only a local, near-eastern concept, a motif of world literature, or if the poets and martyrs mirror human modes of using metaphors within political action.

Panel I: Love and Death: Imagination, Self-Sacrifice, Self-Presentation

Anton van Hooff started his presentation ("Martyrs of Love, the Ancient Novel as the Climax of Deadly Eros") with some of his insights about ancient methods of self-killing. On the basis of statistical evidence, he was able to distinguish five categories of motivations for self-killing: 1. loyalty (fides), 2. devotion (devotio), 3. demonstrative self-killing (iactatio), 4. exsecratio, and 5. dolor. The example for a loyalty-self-killing is the woman who follows her husband to death. Devotion (2.) is the motivation behind the sacrifice of one's life for the sake of a community or an individual, as the voluntary death to save a partner (Alkestis).  Meant to prove the strength of the conviction of one's love, demonstrative self-killing (3.) may also have been the source for Christian martyrdom. Exsecratio (4.) is the placement of a curse on a person who had humiliated the one who killed himself (e. g. by hanging oneself on the porch of the person who had injured one). Love pain (5.) is the least alien motivation for suicide in our modern perception. The sexually asymmetric setting is striking in this case, as it is primarily women who kill themselves for this reason.
The account of the couple Pyramus and Thisbe, the story upon which Romeo and Juliet was modeled, marked the rise of a new and successful genre: the ancient novel, where -- more than in drama and lyric poetry - the theme of self-killing is apparent.
Renate Jacobi's lecture ("Die Udhra. Liebe und Tod in der Umayyadenzeit") explained Udhri love as a symbolic code - with reference to Niklas Luhmann ("Liebe als Passion," Frankfurt 1999) -  which, in her interpretation, reflected the change from the tribal community of the Bedouins to an individualistic society. The Udhri poetry was a symptom of the transition period in which the Bedouins started to become settled, and  the tribal bonds were replaced by other loyalties in Islamic society.
As the earliest source for the famous lines in Heine's poem about the "Asra, welche sterben, wenn sie lieben" (mentioned earlier in Stendhal's "De l'amour"), Renate Jacobi discovered an anecdote by Ibn Qutayba, a famous scholar of 9th-century Baghdad, who tells a story about the poet Jamil ibn Ma'mar al-Udri (died in 701).  In this story, a Bedouin is asked who he is, and he answers with the crucial sentence: he is from the tribe where they die, when they love. There is already a distance of 200 years from the Bedouin poet Jamil to the city-dwelling intellectual Ibn Qutayba. The highly influential myth of the deadly Udhri love has therefore had - and still has - a long tradition of fascination and transfiguration.
In its own day (ca. 650-750), the Udhri love was recounted in verses and stories. The paradigmatic story is that about Jamil's love of Butayna, which is rejected by the woman's parents and the pain thereof leads to Jamil's death far from home. In other stories the lover goes mad and, sometimes, the beloved also dies. The conflict is obviously situated between generations:  the parents represent the tribal community, against which the implicit polemics of the Udhritic model are directed.  Whereas the pre-Islamic love poetry only knows the hero and heroine as profoundly bound to the collective needs, the new love code of the Umayyad period shows lovers who are individuals, even with an unconventional language. Death proves and shows the intensity of love, and may be wished for, but there is no mention of self-sacrifice and suicide. The martyrdom of the Udhri lovers is a death caused by an intensified love that makes surrender and therefore submission to the (tribal) community impossible.
Susanne Enderwitz's contribution ("Al-Abbas b. al-Ahnaf, die Liebe und der Tausch") focused on the poet al-Abbas and his position within the Arabic tradition, as well as his differences with the Troubadour- and Minne-concept. Enderwitz began with a remark about the strong European and German scholarly interest in al-Abbas which is not parallel to al-Abbas' importance for his contemporaries and later anthologies, and which has been criticized by Thomas Bauer (who was also present at this conference; see the synopsis of his talk below).
Al-Abbas b. al-Ahnaf (died around 803/809) had worked at the court of the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid in Baghdad, and propagated a certain concept of Udhri love that was distinct from that of his predecessors. He did not focus on the reciprocity of love that might be possible only in secrecy;   inaccessibility was central to his concept. Al-Abbas' poetry, with its devotion, suffering and renunciation, reminds us -- not without reason -- of the Troubadours. Whereas love for love's sake is the main characteristic of the concept of courtly love  that was established in 12th century France, there is not much of an ideological barrier between court and city in the Arabic society where al-Abbas developed his ideas. Within his own tradition, there can be observed a change from a concept wherein love is deeply bound to the idea of being possessed by a demon (majnun), to the perception of love as madness, which, in al-Abbas' description, is further transformed:  for him, love is sickness and martyrdom.
Susanne Enderwitz reminded the audience that, when dealing with non-European literatures, the use of concepts that were established on the basis of European literature often leads to the perception that, in non-European literature, there is always something missing - like individuality, subjectivity, and so on. In the case of the Arabic ghazal, on the contrary, there seems to be an extra element not found in European literature: love as suffering, love that leads to madness, sickness, and finally death, a concept not inherent in the (French) idea of courtly love with its centered joy.

Panel II: Narrative Strategies of Lethal Love

Ingrid Kasten ("Der Liebestod Tristans: Martyrium oder Opfer?") introduced the audience to Gottfried von Strassburg's "Tristan" by giving a short summary of the story, concentrating on the fatal love caused by the love poison, adultery and final death. Quoting Denis de Rougemont, Ingrid Kasten explained how the Tristan-love had been taken as a concept of courtly love that is constituted by the crucial characteristics of asceticism, adultery, and death. Ingrid Kasten claimed that there are major problems in summarizing the Tristan-love under the courtly love concept, and that one has to take some major differences into consideration.  Unlike the hierarchical stylization of the couple in the genre of  "Minnesang," and unlike the idea of a love that has its compensation in itself by leading to the perfection of the male, the Tristan-love aims for the unity of the lovers and thus transgresses social boundaries. Although love and suffering are topically bound to each other in the lyrical genres, this is intensified in the "amour passion"- concept of the Tristan-love, where the death of the "I" is not only a metaphorical need for the unification with the "other".
Gottfried von Strassburg calls his lovers "martyrs" with a certain reference to the concept and role model of Christian martyrdom. In order to discuss the question of whether Gottfried conceives of love itself as sacrifice, Kasten made a brief incursion into the field of sacrifice-theories initiated by Freud's thesis that sacrifice is the foundational act for religion and society. Hinderk M. Emrich puts the sacrifice in the crucial position within the processes of identity formation. In his theory, the sacrifice is a paradox, as identity is gained precisely by losing it. 
The danger for the community that is inherent in the Tristan-love is overlooked due to the narrative strategy of using religious semantics that thus give it a religious aura. The audience is imagined as a memory- and love- community, for whom the lovers sacrificed themselves to constitute a "Minne-Gemeinde" (a community that shares a distinctive love concept).  Analogous to the Christian community that listened to the legends of the martyrs in order to strengthen faith and unity, "Tristan" addresses the audience of the "edelen herzen".
In the Tristan story, the central category of genealogical identity formation is upset from the very beginning. Tristan does not know about his ancestors. He does not enter the models of socialization (i.e. leadership and marriage). He devotes himself instead to the arts (music, philosophy, hunting) and alternative social roles. The fairytale behind the representation of womanhood in the text signifies difficulties in the formation of male identity. Tristan's life is bound to love and death from the very beginning, the passion between Tristan and Isolde happens through violent power:  they are mere victims of love, a crucial difference from the Christian martyrs, who voluntarily chose to sacrifice themselves.
Stefan Leder's presentation ("Sterben an Liebe, Sterben aus Liebe? Histoire und discours in früharabischen Geschichten zu Liebe und Tod") focused on narrative strategies. One of the main motifs in Arabic literature is the conflict caused by obstacles put in the way of lovers, but space is also devoted to descriptions of the complexities of unfaithfulness, jealousy, revenge, etc. The love story mirrors the changing trends in the choice of subjects, as well as the different influences of the various genres and periods. Stefan Leder chose for his presentation a certain genre of love stories from the early period, wherein the poet generally remained faithful to his love even when it meant death, and which fall under the label of Udhri love. Main characteristics of the plot are a total devotion to love, ambivalent attitudes towards societal norms in combination with a feeling of ethical superiority on the part of the agent, and the willingness to endure suffering and even death. Love and suffering are bound together: virtue is especially seen in the non-performance of the love wish and the readiness for death. The change from exterior to interior virtue seems to be the main concern of Udhri love. In societies where love is restricted by certain norms and rules, the obstacles to a love affair are common and well-known. The plot in the old stories works quite simply: the wish is followed by an obstacle; the love story is developed - with variations - along these lines. The main point in the Udhri stories is the obstacle that can not be overcome, and love that can not be given up. Therefore the story develops a series of obstacles, and increases them. The typical Udhri love story contains lyrical parts and plot, and in the center of the plot is the poet. The plot is not merely a supplement to the lyrics, but generates the genre in its many variations, which Stefan Leder explained by giving various examples using a structuralist concept (Todorov).
In her presentation, Beatrice Gründler ("A narrative anatomy of love death") raised the question of the connection between love death and martyrdom. In analyzing Arabic narrative literature (esp. al-Khara´iti´s (237-327/ 851-938) "Malady of the Hearts") Beatrice Gründler posed the question at which moment death through love came to be conceived consistently as "shahada"/ martyrdom. She discussed the hypothesis that the obvious starting point was at the turn of the 4th/ 10th century, the time of the famous hadith al-´ishq ("passion"), through which the shahada through love had received the theological imprimatur. There are various examples in Arabic literature of demonstrative self-killing, death caused by pain, death caused by faithfulness, etc. Crucial for these concepts is unity with the beloved -- at least in death, conceived as proof of the intensity of one's love.

Panel III: Mars and Eros. Love that Creates Suffering

Thomas Bauer's presentation ("Liebe zu Zeiten der Kreuzzüge.Ibn Munir al-Tarabulusi") focused on the most famous and most frequently quoted poem after the Qasida at-Tatariyya, entitled "Man rakkaba l-badra" ("Who fixed the full moon in the shaft of the Rudayni lance?").  The author is Ibn Munir at-Tarabulusi (473-548/1081-1153), the most important poet of the governor Nuraddin Mahmud, all of whose expeditions Ibn Munir accompanied with his eulogies and jihad poetry. "Man rakkaba l-badra" is in the form of a ghazal (love-poem), and makes use of a plethora of martial metaphors (i.e. lance, sword, murderous glance).  The object of love is a Turkish soldier, a ghazal tradition that has been less prominent by the time of Abu Nuwas (d. 814) but is revived with the Seljuks and Atabegs.
The first half of the poem is a pretentious, highly-stylized love poem; the second half expresses disillusionment that the beloved is a Kulturbanause [uncultured, uncivilized, uneducated person], as a soldier interested in and knowledgeable of nothing other than war, hunting and sports. The ending of the poem signals a synthesis and resolution: culture, particularly poetry, "softens [the beloved's] heart" and tames "the heart of [the] untamed creature" who lusts for nothing but murder.
In Thomas Bauer's interpretation, the poem problematizes the issue of dominance within the lover-beloved relationship. For in the poem, the social norms of the active lover and the passive beloved are inverted: the lover is submissive and the beloved dominant, with a doubled "killing-potential" as "beloved" and as "soldier."  The resolution of this paradoxical situation is the taming of the wildness of the beloved - or, rather, his "murderous potential" - through culture and poetry, which reasserts the social norm. In the poem, both Eros and heroism are connected, a good example of poetry's unique ability to "tame" because of the sphere it occupies in both realms (Eros and Mars). Compared to European parallels, such as "Venus and Mars" by Piero di Cosimo and Botticelli, in Ibn Munir's work, Love does not defeat War (both remain separate, and are not able to reach unity); rather, a synthesis is presented through Poetry, i.e. through the magic of verse.
Martin Treml's presentation ("Liebe und Tod in der Tragödie: Phädra bei Euripides, Seneca und Racine") lead to the Greek tragedy. Among all the Greek heroines presented on the European stage, Phaedra appears unique in her evocation of antipathy, rather than sympathy. The work itself is, according to Hegel, an "absolute example of tragedy," one which he defines in his Aesthetik as "the collision of both sides of the opposition, who both claim authority, while both assert the positive merit of their aim and characters as the negation and violation of the other's equally valid power, which flaws the morality of both sides in equal proportion." (11, 523).
Phaedra's suffering and love and, according to Hegel, her "tragic flaw" (or, in Greek, hamartia) has been repeatedly dramatized through the ages.  It was recently redone by the British playwrite Sarah Kane, in Phaedra's Love, performed in London in 1996 (a performance of which is currently staged at the Schaubühne in Lehniner Platz in Berlin).  The subject was the adolescent crises of the - barely disguised - English royal house, particularly the then-living wife of the heir to the throne.
Phaedra, the heroine of these different dramas, is not the great "lover" of world literature-so uncanny and sinister is her rage and allegedly "impure" her desires.  In this respect, she resembles Medea, her cousin, another deeply ambivalent figure in Greek mythology, who, due to her beloved husband Jason's betrayal, kills their sons. Ever since her coming-into-being, Medea has haunted European art as the embodiment of "feminine-revenge-power." Both Phaedra and Medea are descendants of the Sun; they are "Sunkindred" (Sonnensippshaft), to use the words of Karl Kerenyi. They are both barbarians coming form the peripheries of Greece, Kreta and Colchis respectively, where human-sacrifice was practiced.
Like all Heliadins, i.e., the female descendants of "Sunkindred," Phaedra is overcome by a consuming love, which is (self-)destructive. As the spouse of the exiled Theseus, Phaedra falls in love with Hippolytos (her stepson), an incident staged by Aphrodite, as  revenge on Hippolytos for declining to worship her and devoting his attention entirely to the worship of Artemis. After finding out about Phaedra's love through her nurse, Hippolytos' misogyny is enhanced, as he rejects women entirely. His hamartia, then, is precisely this sexual abstinence, not necessarily praiseworthy for men in the Greek world. Phaedra's shame at Hippolytos' knowledge of her love leads her to hang herself, leaving behind a letter indicating that Hippolytos had attempted to rape her. Hippolytos' promise to Phaedra's nurse never to tell anyone about Phaedra's secret leads him to retreat into silence when Theseus returns home and confronts him about the letter Phaedra left behind. Theseus asks Poseidon to punish Hippolytos, which punishment causes Hippolytos' death. Artemis reveals the truth about Phaedra and Hippolytos to Theseus after the irrevocable takes place, i.e. after Hippolytos is dead.
Treml argued that Phaedra's destructive love and the catastrophes that she encountered through the rejection of Hippolytos are handled very differently in the three separate tragedies (by Euripides, Seneca and Racine). As expounded by Hegel, Euripides' Hippolytos is a family history, with no "collision of opposite sides" between family love, saintly love, and the state law. Here, according to Treml, Greek tragedy approached psychoanalysis. Euripides wrote Hippolytos as part of a tetralogy for the annual tragedy-agon of the great Dionysian festival at the outbreak of the Peloponesian War.  In the time of Nero Seneca put together a Lesedrama for connoisseurs, and Racine allowed the Jansenite undertones of the court of Louis XIV to feed his Phaedra. In none of these works, however, was there an assessment of Phaedra's love and psychological reasoning. Rather, taking into consideration the human position of monsters, Euripides reflected upon whether anything could be taken as "rational" (sophron). Seneca focused primarily on nature and the transgression and violation thereof. Lastly, Racine's text revolves around the dysfunction of language and the destructive power of silence.
In his analysis of martyrdom in early modern times ("Leiden und Leidenschaft. Zur Inszenierung christlicher Martyrien in der frühen Neuzeit"), Peter Burschel argued that both female and male martyrs of the Jesuit stages, when compared to their Protestant - i.e., their stoic - counterparts, formulated not toleration but action, not setting free but conflict, not overcoming but convincing. The female and male martyrs on Jesuit stages demonstrated the past-ness of human things, informing the public how "earth stinks." In contrast to Catharina von Georgien and all other Protestant heroes and heroines, their deaths were not just an act of "engagement to God," but the reality -- proving that they had succeeded in convincing their relatives and social circles to convert to Christianity.  Thus it is certain that no martyrdom on the Jesuit stage took place without conversion. For instance, the Catharina play of 1576 had such an extreme impact that the soldiers, philosophers,  priests, as well as the queen, converted.
Considering this evidence, it can be asserted that the demonstration of the defensive principle of "Constantia" in Jesuit-drama cannot be observed: stoic apathy had no place in this context. On the Jesuit stages, martyrdom meant suffering as passion to the point of ecstasy, provocation, "gloriosa passio," mission. Martyrdom was triumph, not only over the world, but in the world.

Panel IV: The Love Sacrifice Between Helplessness, Devotion, and Violence

Through Love and Strife, Eros and Mars, societies quench the thirst to unite with the Absolute; and some cultures, because "love is considered the only way for reaching the desired unio mystica, sublimate their war-instincts into a mystical way."  As'ad Khairallah, in his analysis of the interaction between love and war in Arabic poetry ("Al-Majnun from Udhri Heroism to Bodily Undulgence"), argued that during the Jahiliya (age of paganism/ignorance), "life itself was the ultimate value and ultimate end"; where death was final annihilation, the Jahiliya poet enjoyed the moment and knew nothing of chastity. In Jahiliya poetry, war was synonymous with al-kariha, or hateful calamity, and there was no real war hedonism.
The great revolution achieved by Islam, then, was the faith in immortality, where real life was afterlife, and life itself just a short passage on the earth, a test, where those who were killed in the cause of God were not dead, but rather "alive with their Lord, being provided for." This was the time period where chastity and virginity gained significance, as renouncing the body and the earth took on a new dimension with the hierarchization of "afterlife" in Islam. Chastity was not, however, revered by all. A poet like Abu Nuwas (d. 814), for instance, defended "a hedonist type of martyrdom," replacing the ritual sacrifice by death with the only death that had value for him, namely "being killed by pleasure." Abu Nuwas rebelled against religious ethic, loved women, had an interest in boys and alluded to love-making in his poems.
The poetry of the greatest Sufi martyr, al-Hallaj (d. 922), transposed human love to divine love and then intertwined love with the intention to kill:  "the beloved is the one who kills, [...the poem]  is transferred without any hesitation from the sphere of human, profane love into the sphere of divine love."
According to Khairallah, the final stage of the inversion-then-fusion process between love and war in their relation with the Absolute could be witnessed in Islamic Iran, where a martyrdom cult flourished, a new type of hadith al-ishq "which assimilate[d] the mystical tradition to the physical commitment to war." Transcending the worldly and the rewards of paradise that holy war promised, this cult promised God himself as reward. Adapting for its own purposes a hadith qudsi (a divine, non-Koranic revelation) revealed to the famous mystic Abu Bakr as-Sibli (861-946) concerning the martyrdom of al-Hallaj, this new doctrine was presented to the young jihad volunteer in Iran, associating all the motifs of God as blood-money and of the martyrdom-wedding (urs ash-shahada) to the martydom of Husayn in Karbala. Having merged the jihad spirit with the 'isq-martyrdom of al-Hallaj', the modern Shi'ite zeal married the mystical Eros with Mars. Khairallah concluded that the jihad volunteers were thus led to believe that their thirst for the unio mystica could be satisfied by drinking from the "cup of death" on the battlefield.
"When love kills" might seem to be a theme more connected with ancient Arabic literature but, according to Angelika Neuwirth ("'Erlaubte Gewalt' - Das Selbstopfer als verwandlung der Welt im klassischen und modernen Ghazal") , is actually very strongly connected to the modern, as well. In Islam, Eros and Thanatos are closely intertwined.  Unbelievably beautiful women, who devote all their attention to their guests in paradise, await the dead who are rewarded with paradise. Even though these scenes of paradise seem static, dream-like and without life-movement, death, particularly male death, is coupled with the erotic. The later tradition exploits these dreams for particular groups, especially the war-heroes, where heroic death becomes associated with the erotic.
Analyzing the poetry of Ta'abbata Sharran, Neuwirth argued that in the pre-Islamic period, death was not coupled with the erotic, even if the death was of a hero or a victim. The extreme consequence of a hero's death was not an intentional aim but more a shock that disturbed the status quo. Martyrdom gained new meaning with Islam and was associated with love. In the Islamic context, the lover suffered from a shock caused by another person, which made him lose the worldliness of his "I".
In the love poetry of the Umayyad times, the death of the lover was the extreme expression of a new individualism. In an Abbasid transformation of udhritic  love, the lover, consumed with the reflection of his love-passion and the anticipation of its realization with death, devoted himself to an Ideal in his imagination. His death was the welcome yet un-heroic last consequence of an antisocial and self-destructive choice. The lover delivered himself to a transcendental force. In Sufi martyrdom (the willing extinction of the "I"), the pangs of love took place through the overwhelming beauty of the Beloved. In one of the poems of the Sufi poet al-Shibli (861-946), dedicated to al-Hallaj, God himself paid blood-money. In the Sufi ghazal, the heroic love-death of the "I" as victim in war, where the ideal case was death-inflicted-by-violence, through which a sacrificium was made from the victima, "death" was taken as triumphal not only as a celebration of war-martyrdom, but as bringing about a transformation of the world.
Neuwirth analyzed Palestinian poetry of the thirties, that of Abdarrahim Mahmud (d.1948).  Through a close reading of one poem in particular, entitled "al-Shahid" ("The Martryr"), she illustrated how the corpse of a warrior, itself the achievement of the aim, was presented as a type of perfection which could not have been achieved in life. The warrior manifested his extreme generosity, post mortem, by offering his dead body to the wild animals. This glory in death signaled an inversion of social values. Death in Mahmud's erotic poem led to a cosmic wedding, a sacrificium, whose addressee, like in mystical poetry, need not be identified by name. In the new order of nationalism, which absorbed the earlier personal and mystical love-experiences into "the national narrative," the role of the beloved was the new ideal of homeland or place of collective honor. In the political crisis of the mandate times, the re-staging of Arabic-Islamic war-tradition was then sublimated through the mystical spiritualization, of heroic death as self-sacrifice or the ideal homeland. This concept, through Mahmud Darwish's poetry (b. 1942), was translated into a people's movement: inspired by Darwish's poetry, the Palestinian martyr-culture with martyr-weddings gave not only the young men but also the women a meaningful role. The love-death of the warrior was a substitute for his wedding, organized by the mother and/or by female relatives. With the early death of the warrior, the world was inverted, the generations operated in reverse chronological order, the son played the role of the father, the patriarchal order did not function any longer. The staging of the love-death of the martyr finally became a modern mystery play of love and death.
Just last year, Darwish, after a years-long, gradual self-distancing, rejected the explicit apotheosis of dying warriors in a long poem, and tried to deconstruct the modern love-martyrdom. It will take time for this myth-correction - again expressed in poetry - to be translated into reality.
 Palestinians have coexisted twenty years with a domineering Jewish majority, who also had the task of shaping the sphere of memory; the Jewish culture of memory is extremely present and visible, finding expression in monuments and in the public sphere. One of the most significant is the word-centered religious ceremonies. This is different from the less written, and more ritual, Palestinian social memory, which has a genealogical character, taking the form of inscription on the bodies of the young generation. Hence "jurh Filistini" is simultaneously the loss of political sovereignty, and the violation, the inscription on the bodies of the warriors, who designate themselves as self-sacrifices, or fida'i, whose deaths establish memory and identity. The transformation process of the new intricate relationship between Eros and Thanatos, is, according to Neuwirth, the articulation of a response to the gradually increasing dominant culture of the country.
Eckart Goebel presented "Heart-pause. Rainer Maria Rilke on Puppets". Prevalent letters and documents have illustrated that the Puppet-Essay of 1914 by Rainer Maria Rilke was the author's attempt at self-therapy against his neurosis. In a letter to Andreas-Salome, Rilke pointed out that the text was a repetition and reworking of primordial conflicts. The confrontation with the mother "empty like a dress, ghastly and terrible" illustrated the chronic suffering of his own puppet-ness and the resulting alienation from the people around him.
According to Goebel, the puppet-essay also documented the crisis of the artistic development of the author as being closely knit with the personal problematics he was experiencing. Rilke's text is an example of a reflection on the history of aesthetic theory, and on the art-bodies of the puppet, which evoked the concept of the "constructed-ness and illusory character" of the art work itself.
Rilke understood that to be free of hatred, one had to regress to an early phase of subject-development, structurally, to an exchange between the body of the puppet and its soul. The redemption of one's own soul lay in the rejection of archaic aggression, which was established through self-killing or the killing of someone else. The "redemption" through regression made it necessary that separation be irreversible. For the pain resulting from separation there was no solution or salvation, separation and Subjektsein were one.
This early experience remained like a hollow tooth-ache, and the old black hatred could break out, as Sigmund Freud claimed in his first War-study in 1915: "The primitive conditions can always be asserted; the primitive soul is immortal in the fullest sense." The presence of the pain produced the feeling that something should be destroyed so that "I" would be free. This was the reason why something or someone should be responsible, should carry the blame: an "Enemy."
The Heart-pause that has been experienced is a part of my past, and it is not possible to destroy this through the destruction of another:  Even when a man kills, he destroys only a puppet as a consequence. Collective aggression in all types of fury clings to something unrealistic, false and ghastly. Hatred is an overwhelming feeling-producing a fainting effect.
"We are not united," exclaimed Rilke in the Vierten Elegie, "enmity is nearest to us." The puppet-essay expounded upon the primordial nature of enmity, what was nearest to us but what needed to be separated from us. This catharsis made possible the "heart-work" of the elegies, which did not promise heaven to warriors. The warrior could either kill himself or others, could be a puppet-maker or pagan but not God. The poet of the Elegien promised paradise to the one who underwent separation and attempted to resist the "regressive drunkenness."

Minutes taken by Hülya Adak and Christine Hofmann


  • Hülya Adak
  • Friederike Pannewick
  • Anton van Hooff

  • Renate Jacobi
  • Maher Jarrar 
  • Susanne Enderwitz
  • Ingrid Kasten
  • Stefan Leder
  • Beatrice Gründler
  • Thomas Bauer
  • Martin Treml
  • Peter Burschel
  • As'ad Khairallah
  • Angelika Neuwirth
  • Eckart Goebel