With Friends on the Phone:
Alexander Kluge's »Networks«

(trans. Ellen Klein and Caroline Rued-Engel)

Abstract: When examining the operational and structural aspects of Alexander Kluge’s body of work – whether it is his work as a poet, theorist, film-maker, or television producer – one can see that the telephone is an important medium of his production. Starting from this observation, the article presents Kluge’s concepts and practices of »network« and networking and shows how they function as central elements of his poetics of communication in the public sphere. Kluge’s strategies are discussed particularly with regard to the relationships and tensions that necessarily exist between contemporaneous network theory and the old-European semantics of friendship.

The telephone is not generally considered a genuine medium of literary communication, and this is not without reason. There have been attempts, for example, to use the telephone to make poetry available, but such experiments have been like evolutionary branches that do not develop further, variations without connections. As far as literary histories of the telephone exist, they deal with the telephone for the most part as an important literary motif. As an operating element of literature or literary communication, however, the telephone has been of little or no consequence. One exception to this is the model associated with Alexander Kluge, which will be analyzed in the following. The telephone is an essential medium for Kluge, and it plays a constitutive role in the production of his works as a poet, theoretician, filmmaker, and television producer. 1 The beginning of Kathrin Röggla’s article entitled »A Stubborn Voice« provides a good introduction to this:

»Call him up!« he said. And she said, »There’s nothing to it! It’s quite simple. You take on a role. You ask him questions from the position of a postindustrial prototype. And he’ll answer the questions.« These are the first lines of »On the Phone with Kluge,« a project carried out by spector magazine.
I do some research. »Have you ever talked on the phone with Kluge?« »Have you ever spoken with Kluge?« I never tire of asking the question, and it turns out that, indeed, a good many people have. They’ve talked to him, and he was even friendly. It’s possible to speak with him. And his secretary? She’s friendly, too. She puts you through to him.
It’s hard to believe. Absolutely everyone talks to Kluge on the phone, and Kluge probably answers with his own voice. [How else could it be, you might ask, G.S.] His voice is uncanny, everyone knows that. […] I heard it the first time in his movie »The Patriotic Woman,« when he recited Christian Morgenstern’s poem »A Knee.« In his characteristic slightly hectic style, he said: »On Earth there roams a lonely knee. It’s just a knee, that’s all. It’s not a tent, it’s not a tree, it’s just a knee, that’s all.« That was enough; I had to pursue it.
Anne König, the audiographer and editor of spector, believes he has an accent from the province of Anhalt, but she cannot say for sure as he does not speak the pure dialect. »I hear traces of it. […] A physician from Halberstadt,« I think. A friend of mine who is a voice expert also believes he has an Anhalt accent. And his characteristic style? My friend says it is inquisitorial, at least somewhat. But you have to be careful. It is this quality of insisting, tracking down, pointing out contradictions, pushing others into contradictions, and forcing confessions which makes him compare Kluge’s style to that of a lawyer’s. »Yes, he originally studied law.« »Originally?«
Conversations about Kluge are strange. They often begin with his voice and his manner of asking questions, which usually communicates a combination of enthusiasm and idiosyncrasy. It is also astonishing how long people’s feelings vacillate between annoyance on the one hand and great fascination on the other, until in the end only the latter prevails. 2

In a recent feature film the message is conveyed indirectly but impressively (fig. 1–2) that Alexander Kluge requires a telephone for his work – or more precisely, several telephones – just as much as a pencil, which he himself describes as being extremely important. 3 (It is unclear whether he also uses an answering machine, but this is doubtful.)



Fig. 1. Alexander Kluge on the phone.
Alle Gefühle glauben an einen glücklichen Ausgang. Über Alexander Kluge [All Emotions Believe in a Happy End: About Alexander Kluge], dir. Angelika Wittlich, BR, Munich, 13 Feb. 2002.



Fig. 2. Alexander Kluge on the phone.
Alle Gefühle glauben an einen glücklichen Ausgang.


»Call him up!« – »Ask him questions!« – »He’ll answer them« – »Absolutely everyone talks to Kluge on the phone, and Kluge answers with his uncanny voice.« – Is this hard to believe, incredible? Kathrin Röggla’s astonishment is certainly understandable, but her research results are accurate. I can give you some further examples. The first is from a recent seminar at the University of Siegen on Kluge’s Chronik der Gefühle [Chronicle of Emotions]. A student had reached a dead end with his seminar paper, and he, too, apparently said to himself, »Just call him up!« With the permission of the two participants, a part of this conversation is reproduced below:



Audiofile 1: Conversation Alexander Kluge and Bernd Maubach

Sound of telephone ringing. – Alexander Kluge: Kluge. – Bernd Maubach: Hello, Mr. Kluge. This is Bernd Maubach. I wrote you an email last week. I had a question about Chronicle of Emotions… – Kluge: Yes, we can start talking about it right now if you wish, or should I call you back? – Maubach: Oh, I can take care of the call. So then… – Kluge: Okay, fine. – Maubach: So we can start immediately. – Kluge: Yes, we can start immediately. – Maubach: So, my first question is whether it’s okay if I tape this conversation onto cassette? – Kluge: Yes, of course. – Maubach: Okay. Now a question about the text, »The time that has to pass before bystanders will take the initiative.« 4 – Kluge: Exactly, you did very well to find out what the original source was, yes, wouldn’t you say? – Maubach: Yes, actually I was familiar with this text. – Kluge: And at the time I was having intensive discussions about this with Heiner Müller. We not only talked about it in the programs aired on television, but also discussed it intensively at other times. – Maubach: Yes, the programs probably only showed extracts of longer talks. – Kluge: Yes, that’s exactly right. – Maubach: And this particular talk wasn’t published? – Kluge: No. – Maubach: Can you remember what Heiner Müller’s position was at that time? – Kluge: Well, Heiner Müller doesn’t have any rigid positions. It’s more like playing squash. You know what I mean? I say something, then he says something totally different, then I say something different again, then he says something completely different. We test each other, so to speak. – Echo sounders. 5

It turned out to be a lengthier conversation – forty-five minutes to be exact – providing a wealth of details for the interested philologist and expressive allusions for the theoretician. Another anecdotal, yet empirical, example was told to me by a colleague who called Alexander Kluge to ask his opinion on talk shows as a television genre. He recounts that in the course of the ten-minute conversation Kluge elucidated many things, including the importance of the Mishnah and Gemara for Jewish learning and religion. 6 Enough – these are only small excerpts and possibly not even typical of Kluge’s telephone activities. It should be emphasized that Kathrin Röggla is absolutely right. Alexander Kluge is an author who talks on the telephone, uses a telephone network, is connected to others through the medium of this network, and pursues networking in this network with a matter-of-factness and great virtuosity.


Alexander Kluge’s method of working has often been described as amateurish. This term has been used by critics who, viewing his work from the perspective of epigonal classicism, have tried to diminish its value. 7 Kluge has also characterized himself often enough as an amateur, which is not exactly the same thing, but his doing so reminds us that dilettantism constitutes a basic but indispensable category of modern literary production. Anyone who wants to invent something – what an odd way of putting it, »to want to invent« – needs to have the courage to be a dilettante. Paradoxically, we are dealing here with a »professional category«: the category of »professional nonprofessionalism.« 8


However, in his texts on theoretical poetics Kluge writes something that seems to be a strange contradiction to this. In Stocktaking: Utopia Film we can read: »Never use a medium you can’t control.« 9 And if there is one medium that Kluge is a complete master of, that he has perfect control over as perhaps no other person in literature, art, or other fields does, it is the telephone. Thus, this comment is merely an apparent contradiction to the dilettantism argument since, as I mentioned above, the telephone is not a genuine medium of professional literature.


Alexander Kluge’s extensive and intensive use of the telephone as an operating medium is consistent with the concept of the telephone he espouses in his media theory, or theory of the public sphere. Kluge’s most explicit statement on this can be found in a publication from the 1980s in which he analyzes tendencies in the »New Media« that were starting to become noticeable at that time. In it he contrasts his strongly emphasized concept of »immediacy« or »primary communication« with the pre-programmed communication that is generally more important for these »New Media«:

Take the example of the telephone. Having this apparatus between the two communicators does not change the verbal communication in any way except that great distances can be overcome without loss of time, and the two persons talking cannot see each other. Every other nuance of personal contact can be reproduced in telephone conversations. In essence, the medium of the telephone does not change the basic structure of communication.
There is no immediate difference to radio and television as extensions of this direct communication made possible by technical equipment. Two teams of astronauts watch each other at work via television screens. Radio signals are transmitted and received through space without any delay. Their voices may sound choppy, but enough structures are still transmitted for both sides to have a good idea of the original communication. 10

We can recognize here, at least in general terms, some of the extensions Kluge associates with the telephone model of communication. We are also reminded of parallel arguments put forward by Jean-Luc Godard, who used the telephone to defend video and television as legitimate alternative modes of operation to film. 11 However, the most significant theoretical reference goes back even further, to the beginning of the 1930s, and is well known. It is found in Bertolt Brecht’s »radio theory,« in which Brecht calls for radio to be changed from a distribution apparatus to a communication apparatus, a demand that Kluge’s definition of communication is entirely in line with. »Listeners« should be organized as »suppliers«; 12 what should be striven for is »a kind of resistance by the listener, a mobilization and reemployment of the listener as a producer.« 13 Another statement by Bertolt Brecht should also be mentioned here – not because it is regarded as canonical, but because it goes right to the heart of the problem: »If you should think this is utopian, then I would ask you to consider why it is utopian.« 14 Presumably, he is referring to the problem of the basic accessibility of the backward channel, or the multiplication of backward channels and channels in general. Without considering this utopia of the backward channel, or, rather, going beyond it, Horkheimer and Adorno in the chapter on the »culture industry« in Dialectic of Enlightenment make this sober diagnosis:

The step from telephone to radio has clearly distinguished the roles. The former liberally permitted the participant to play the role of subject. The latter democratically makes everyone equally into listeners, in order to expose them in authoritarian fashion to the same programs put out by different stations. No machinery of rejoinder has been developed, and private transmissions are condemned to unfreedom. They confine themselves to the apocryphal sphere of ›amateurs,‹ who, in any case, are organized from above. 15
The technical structure of the commercial radio system makes it immune to liberal deviations of the kind the film industry can still permit itself in its own preserve. 16

It can be assumed that Alexander Kluge essentially agrees with this analysis in Horkheimer’s and Adorno’s theory of mass media; there are many indications of this. One of these can be found, as it so happens, in a telephone conversation. Andrea Gnam reports, »As Kluge told me on the telephone on April 12, 1987, he began meeting with Adorno in 1956, at first in connection with his job as a legal adviser for the Institute of Social Research. Between 1956 and 1960 they became personal friends and began seeing each other regularly. […] Even today, he thoroughly agrees with all of Adorno’s basic assumptions.« 17 But Alexander Kluge seems to have adopted the strategy: »be pessimistic in theory and optimistic in practice.« Practically speaking, he does not subscribe to Adorno’s fatalistic premises but to the older theory of Brecht’s, or utopia. That is to say, in the operational dimension of his activities as a mass media writer – whether of literature, films, television shows, or, more recently, Internet texts – he sticks with the telephone paradigm. Thus, he acts as an »amateur« – which is merely a synonym for »dilettante« – but as one who does not allow himself to be organized »from above,« Kluge persists in taking the thought of the backward channel seriously and in developing networks of channels and backward channels in this sense.


This option of the backward channel, tossed so light-handedly by Brecht into the media debate, was at the time of its conception a contradiction to the facts, and it certainly changes a lot, if not everything. In the meantime we know, or rather suspect, that Brecht’s option was not really so »utopian.« This is something we can sense in this age of the Internet. At any rate, the technical requirements for Brecht’s option appear to have been met – it is not by chance that the Internet uses existing telephone networks, that it functions as their parasite, so to speak. But even so, or perhaps precisely for this reason, the problem Brecht termed utopia seems all the more urgent and even less well understood, let alone resolvable. 18 The Internet is a vast and complex communication system which appears to allow all kinds of communication, from point-to-point communication to the »messages from many to many« in the sense of »true ›mass communication‹« as defined by Ruesch and Bateson. 19 Yet this situation seems to be not so much the fulfillment of a utopia as simply a very confusing state of affairs. And the most likely explanation for this is that the backward channel is technically possible in the context of mass media communication. I said that the development of this backward channel has changed a lot, if not everything. This also means that since the feedback channel is accessible to everyone, the number of possible virtual channels and connections multiplies exponentially, which leads to the unexpected and difficult problems of selection and bundling, or more precisely, the problem of the selection of bundles of communication, and in connection with this, problems of trust and authority.


Brecht’s »radio theory,« which incorporated the medium of the telephone, had from the beginning an ethically and politically normative dimension. It is contingent upon the technical possibilities of telephone networks as such, as a pure virtuality of potential connections. This kind of telephone network can also be easily comprehended as a medium for other forms of communication, for example, as a means for operating military chains of command – one merely needs to read the relevant passages in Schlachtbeschreibung [The Battle] by Kluge – or as a tool for helping a stressed mother to organize her »desertion« of her hungry infant, as in Kluge’s story »Sender für Völkerverständigung« [»Radio Station for International Understanding«] in Die Lücke, die der Teufel lässt [The Devil’s Blind Spot], 20 etc. Technical networks as such remain indifferent 21 (fig. 3).



Fig. 3. »Wählen einer Nummer [Dialing a Number]«.
Brockhaus: ABC der Naturwissenschaften und der Technik [Brockhaus: ABC of the Natural Sciences and Technology] (Wiesbaden: Eberhard Brockhaus, 1949) 179.


The idea of a backward channel, or the demand for one, has not only a pragmatic but also a clearly normative aspect. The difficulties we have thinking about networks or networked communication are due at least in part to the fact that the pragmatic and normative aspects cannot be completely separated from each other. It is well known that in various cultural studies and social science disciplines during the past decade the response to the new situation has been increased attention to network theories and the analysis of the sociocultural relationships in networks. 22 However, it is symptomatic of these theories and analyses that they always reproduce the problem of separating the two aspects to a certain extent because they have absorbed it (directly following and since Jacob L. Moreno) from the beginning. It is even present in the definition of the tie, the basic element of a single connection or relation, as it is suggested that it can be comprehended by a differentiation between »inclination and aversion,« or »attraction and repulsion.« 23


In short, it can be said that network theory and analysis have inherited, reformulated, and expanded upon the problems of the old European semantics of friendship. This comment is a reaction to a short, insightful text on Alexander Kluge by the literary critic Ursula März, which appeared at the end of November 2000. It is entitled »My Friend« and written entirely in the subjunctive.

It would be great to be Schlingensief. You’d have a wonderful friend. He’d be much older than you, but he wouldn’t act fatherly. He’d also be better educated, but wouldn’t let you feel it. He’d have this wonderful voice that gets everyone’s attention immediately, but this voice would speak, full of affection and interest, only to you. Sometimes this friend would call you on the phone. Christoph, how are you, he’d say, and then he’d listen. Sometimes he’d call, listen, and then ask softly, Christoph, should we hold a talk again? Sure, you’d say enthusiastically into the phone. Your friend would say that the two of you could give a kind of double reading and then you could talk about the books. Your friend would have just published a new 2000-page work in two volumes, the result of his efforts of the past decades, and you would have just published a paperback containing a chronicle of a recent campaign in Vienna. Your friend wouldn’t let you feel there was a difference between his work of decades and your own paperback. And it really wouldn’t make any difference to him. He’d also be willing to have the talk in a place where you felt at home. The audience there, in the Volksbühne Theater at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin, would be as young as you. Everyone from A to Z would be enthusiastic. People would drink beer out of the bottle; you’d drink beer from a glass. Your wonderful friend would sit on the stage next to you; he’d drink red wine and mineral water from two different glasses. He’d turn the show over to you, but he wouldn’t be generous in a stupid way. He’d let you talk and fantasize and tell one anecdote after another, putting the audience in stitches. He’d also laugh, and he’d clap when you read from your paperback. He wouldn’t be offended if the audience clapped less when he read short excerpts from his work of decades than they did for you because he has a sense of humor and isn’t vain. Sometimes he’d put his hand gently on your arm or nudge you slightly. He’d do that to encourage you to continue speaking or to let you know he was going to say something himself. And his use of the same gestures for both would be a sign of his intelligence, of his ability to demonstrate your equality without resorting to grand rhetoric. He’d mention Pliny, Adorno, and Horkheimer, but without pretension. And so two hours would fly by. It would be the kind of event everyone dreams of – funny, clever, a little crazy, slightly dadaistic, with no fixed plan but somehow running completely smoothly and full of warmth and good feelings on all sides. Afterwards, you’d go out for a beer or two and your friend would drink a glass of red wine because Alexander Kluge prefers red wine. He’d be wearing a black jacket, charcoal gray trousers, and brown, slightly scuffed shoes, almost as scuffed as your own. It would be great to be Schlingensief. URSULA MÄRZ. 24

This column could be interpreted as part of an emblematic picture that is helpful for gaining a better understanding of »Alexander Kluge’s network.« Briefly, in addition to this network’s operational side, one of its central functions is to display parts of the network – here an exemplary part – in the network itself (fig. 4).



Fig. 4. Christoph Schlingensief on the phone with Alexander Kluge.
»Das Halten von Totenschädeln liegt mir nicht!/ Christoph Schlingensief inszeniert Hamlet [I don’t like holding skulls!/ Christoph Schlingensief directs Hamlet],« dir. Alexander Kluge, News & Stories, prod. DCTP, SAT. 1, Berlin, 16 Dec. 2001.


We have here a relationship of friendship that is presented ostentatiously, that is, so to speak, »put into the network« – a connecting piece, a rope, a tie, which, shown in this way, functions as a node in the network and at the same time displays the node. It could also be called the »exemplary published public sphere,« to use Kluge’s own terminology. In his acceptance speech for the Lessing Prize, he says:

There is no kind of thinking that presents the strength of its thoughts only as a monologue; a response, the recognition of my thoughts through the response of others – that is what thinking is. Since I cannot exist without thinking […], the basic ability to exchange ideas with others, to form a public sphere, is essential for my survival. This is not pathos; it is my experience that a public sphere with real substance is necessary if I am to feel self-confident, if I am to be able to trust in myself and in others. Making this producible is the function and also the life of the public sphere. 25

That is exactly what is happening in the scene Ursula März depicts so enviously. There is a working public sphere, and its basic functioning is shown publicly. The basic elements of this network are communicated in this network. 26


What is produced and displayed there cannot be viewed as a pioneering achievement by Alexander Kluge – or if so, then only in part; at any rate, that is not his intention. Rather, it is a reproduction, a current or updated version of a traditional model, but one that perhaps needs to be continued and further developed. In his works Kluge deals with the Gleim House in Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim’s hometown of Halberstadt several times. 27



Fig. 5. The Gleim House, interior.
Das Jahrhundert der Freundschaft: Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim und seine Zeitgenossen [The Century of Friendship: Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim and His Contemporaries], ed. Ute Pott (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2004) 24.


This house, sometimes also referred to as the »Temple of Friendship« (fig. 5), is actually a unique but representative realization of the idea of friendship as it was conceived of in the eighteenth-century Age of Enlightenment and Sentimentalism. With its furnishings and communicative references, this house could be described as a main switchboard of sentimental telecommunications. In accordance with the media and technical environment obtaining at that time, texts, namely letters, and pictures of their authors were placed together. 28 The sentimental author Gleim not only corresponded extensively with his contemporaries, but also supplemented this correspondence with the medium of the image by asking all of the poets in this network to supply their portrait (fig. 6–8). He collected them in his »Temple of Friendship,« in which he read these letters and responded to them, took in their news and passed it on to others.



Fig. 6. Christian Friedrich von Blanckenburg.
Der Freundschaftstempel im Gleimhaus zu Halberstadt: Porträts des 18. Jahrhunderts [The Tempel of Friendship in the Gleim House in Halberstadt: Portraits From the Eighteenth Century], ed. Gleimhaus Halberstadt (Leipzig: E. A. Seemann, 2000) 72.



Fig. 7. Christian Konrad Wilhelm von Dohm.
Der Freundschaftstempel 86.



Fig. 8. Marie Sophie von La Roche.
Der Freundschaftstempel 135.


Christoph Schlingensief once referred to Alexander Kluge’s television productions as »talking heads TV.« 29 (I would only like to mention here that Schlingensief intended this as a strong criticism. The significance of criticism will be discussed later.) This observation is important in itself because it suggests that Kluge’s special way of using pictures can be seen as a transposition of the intimate middle-class portrait of friendship to the medium of television. 30



Fig. 9. Heiner Müller.
»Anti-Oper / Materialschlachten von 1914 / Flug über Sibirien / Gespräch mit Heiner Müller [Anti-Opera / Material Battles of 1914 / Flight Over Siberia / Conversation with Heiner Müller],« dir. Alexander Kluge, News & Stories, prod. DCTP, SAT. 1, Mainz, 6 Nov. 1993.



Fig. 10. Ulrike Sprenger.
»Super Heroes im Schock/ US-Superhelden vereinen sich mit den Feuerwehrhelden von New York zu gemeinsamer Trauerarbeit [Superheroes in Shock/ US Superheroes and New York’s Fire-Fighting Heroes Come Together to Mourn],« dir. Alexander Kluge, interviewee Ulrike Sprenger, News & Stories, prod. DCTP, SAT. 1, Berlin, 8 Sept. 2002.



Fig. 11. Alfred Edel.
»Adieu für Alfred Edel: ›Der Mann ohne Taschen‹ [Adieu for Alfred Edel: ›The Man Without Pockets‹],« dir. Alexander Kluge, 100 Minuten Vielfalt [100 Minutes of Variety], prod. DCTP, VOX, Cologne, 11 Dec. 1993.


»With friends on the videophone« would be an apt title for a good number of his productions (fig. 9–11), and many other parallels can also be drawn. These shows reproduce not only the combination of text and picture, of personal communication and portrait, but also their separation. It was not unusual for Gleim to have this kind of a separation, given the media situation in the eighteenth century, but in view of the technical possibilities of television today, Kluge’s separating of text and picture is an artificial device. He has a certain custom in his television interview series – he always shoots a film of each interview partner staring into the camera for one full minute without speaking a word. 31 Kluge once explained this practice as a way of demanding and showing »respect for the camera.« It certainly creates images that resemble Gleim’s portraits more closely than the »talking heads« in his interviews. In general, it seems that the vast body of films with interviews or conversations broadcast on television by Kluge is closely related to Gleim’s institute of friendship. Both are examples of the phenomenon of the network and the exemplary display of the network in the network itself.


It is a communication network with different kinds of friendships at its center, and Kluge’s friendship with Christoph Schlingensief, to stay with him, is a very good example of this kind of relationship in the network. Of course, it is not surprising that Schlingensief was noticed by Alexander Kluge because Schlingensief – albeit alone and with irony – continued the tradition of German author films for a long time. But the form in which their connection to each other was communicated, or perhaps even brought about, is significant: a friend, namely, the actor Alfred Edel, reported on Schlingensief’s film work in one of Kluge’s talk shows. 32 After that, Schlingensief, thus introduced into the network, 33 brought other friends into it (e.g., the actress Sophie Rois 34 and the author, musician, and filmmaker Helge Schneider, who was the subject of a DCTP film in which Schlingensief himself made an appearance). 35 Since then Schlingensief has been part of the inner circle of people who return again and again to Kluge’s television shows, which also includes Oskar Negt, August Everding, Ulrike Sprenger, Manfred Osten, Joachim Kersten, Joseph Vogl, Peter Berling, Miriam Hansen, Romuald Karmakar, and many others.


But how far can this comparison be taken? What does »outer« circle or »inner« circle mean? This is hardly a trivial question; a distinction has to be made. In particular, when presenting the communication of friendship, one cannot ignore its »reverse side,« even if this merely entails distinguishing between »more personal« and »more impersonal« relationships. In any case, it is necessary to distinguish the circle of friends mentioned above from other people, for example, the demolition expert Martin Kaiser, who reported in Prime Time – Spätausgabe on »the blasting of the highest tower in Halberstadt,« or Liz Mohn, the matriarch of the Bertelsmann Group, who once appeared in Ten to Eleven as an »ambassador for corporate culture and music.« 36 Or should we assume there is another domain of operation here, a journalistic one, in which professionals, informants in the sense of journalistic sources, simply appear? Rudolf Scharping and Richard Perle have also been occasional guests on Kluge’s television shows, but to think that they came as friends seems absurd – friendship with the »prince of darkness«? On the other hand, is it not true that even the devil has a blind spot? These questions need to be raised, but they will have to remain unanswered for the moment.


The more interesting problem would appear to lie elsewhere, namely, in the fact that every personal network has its periphery or peripheries (particularly when personal friendships form the central nodes of the network). And at the periphery, problematic, and sometimes even comical, effects can occur. This again can be observed with Gleim and his ties of friendship, from which parallels can be drawn. This is shown quite clearly in a letter written by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg to Johann Andreas Schernhagen in which Lichtenberg gives a somewhat derisive description of his admission into Gleim’s »Temple of Friendship.«

Mr. Gleim gave me an unexpected honor; he has a room in his house he calls the Temple of the Muse in which he hangs portraits of scholars. My portrait is now being painted by Mr. Mathieu at Mr. Gleim’s expense for this temple. The same honor, but much more deservedly, has also been paid to Court Counselor Heyne, Mr. Meiners, and Mr. Feder. It will be a precious wall covering. 37

What to one person is a gallery of individual pictures of friends is to another – someone at the periphery of the network of friends – a Temple-of-the-Muse »wall« covered with pictures en masse. 38 And isn’t this other person at least partially right? Lichtenberg’s skeptical reaction can be seen as symptomatic for one of the problems, if not the systematic and central problem, of the conception of society or the public sphere in the Age of Sentimentalism. 39 In the tradition of the semantics of friendship it is known as the problem of »having many friends,« or, to quote the original term used by Plutarch, »polyphilia,« 40 and the problem is ancient. Friendship as an ethical relationship is something as precious as it is rare, which is how it should be. If friendship is generalized to mean the inclusion of several, it loses its inherent qualities. A secret shared by many is no longer a secret. In fact, this sharing is in direct opposition to friendship, as the friend’s needs, in this case discretion, are disregarded. Friendship shared with many cannot be discreet. Manifestations of polyphilia, the amicorum multitudo, are resisted. Moral arguments are employed, and it is hoped that they will also be convincing in the pragmatic dimension. What would happen if all one’s friends needed help at the same time? 41 In short, according to the old European way of thinking, polyphilia destroys philia.


Derrida recently provided a concise overview of the aporias of this tradition since Aristotle. 42 For this discussion, it would be interesting to supplement his analysis with a diagnosis of the evolution of this semantics in modern times. On the one hand, it could be said that with Montaigne at the beginning of the modern age the intension of the notion of philia became narrower; on the other hand, with Schiller’s »All men shall become brothers« it underwent an extensional broadening. At any rate, a loss of the pragmatic relevance of the philia concepts can be observed 43 – and this in spite of, or perhaps even on account of, the way they were promoted by Montaigne on the one hand and by Gleim, Schiller, and the French Revolution on the other. If the old European assumptions are taken as a starting point, one could conclude that an inversion has occurred. The current conceptualization of »networks« as attempted by Manuel Castells and others builds on these assumptions, but does not actually consider friendship as a rare, exceptional relationship. 44 On the contrary, polyphilia, »having many friends,« is the critical reference value here. Networks that are the object of sociological or ethnological network analysis depend precisely on the »strength of weak ties«; 45 they would not be able to function as friendships in the emphatic sense because such friendships have strong ties and are therefore too impermeable. In a recent critical analysis of the ideology espoused in the management guidebooks of our networking era, it was observed that, in essence, they give the following advice: »Extension of the network thus demands that people renounce friendship.« 46 It is not the special and privileged friendships but the »friends of friends« that are necessary for a well-functioning network, even that of the Mafia. 47 Information has to flow; friends serve, so to speak, as the »lubricant«; one relationship has to open the door for the next. 48


It has been suggested that Alexander Kluge should be read in the context of the moralist tradition, 49 and this is for good reason, because as a moralist he is very familiar with the entire problem. In his Lernprozesse mit tödlichem Ausgang [Learning Processes with a Deadly Outcome] he writes in a footnote:

[The retired philologist Dölle] visits his friend Dr. Dietzenbach at the Ministry for Culture. He is looking for a job. [Dietzenbach] does not have any practical suggestions for him. Their friendship is bound to wear thin if Dölle continues to remain in need. He does not want to keep equivocating. He wishes to help his friend Dölle. If he cannot find a way to do so, it would be better for him not to be friends with Dölle. Dölle is sure that Dietzenbach has already begun to adapt his thoughts to the actual situation. 50

A more matter-of-fact description of the selectivity that is necessary for friendship and the question of the selectivity criteria hardly seems possible.


And this is also how Kluge builds his network, or at least parts of it. In reference to one main area of his work, the subject of Russia, he states the following:

I build my bridge through people I know, trustworthy people, for example, the translator Rosemarie Tietze, a Russian studies specialist, an explorer of the Slavic soul. Through her I have met Andrei Bitov, an author I have also written stories about. Among other things, he wrote about Pushkin. And Pushkin’s grandfather came from Abyssinia.
It has to do with networks, relationships of curiosity […] and trustworthiness. 51

In such a network individuals always function simultaneously as media, bridges, and crossings. Thus, the aspect of the friendship of convenience or, one could say, the »business friendship,« is also always present in this kind of friendship. Let us return here to the text by Kathrin Röggla quoted at the beginning and the concept of role employed there: »›Call him up!‹ […], ›It’s quite simple. You take on a role. You ask him questions from the position of a postindustrial prototype. And he’ll answer the questions.‹« 52 Kluge once pointed out very emphatically in a public controversy with television professionals that those involved – himself included – were functioning in that debate as »actors.« 53 This moment of unreality is significant for our analysis. It has to do with professional roles and their markers and restrictions. It is a »professional,« a prostitute, who in »Seat of the Soul,« a story in The Devil’s Blind Spot, advocates the theory that in love the »network« between the lovers is truly »inter-personal« and autonomous. 54 In his acceptance speech for the Büchner Prize, Kluge uses this story as a starting point for presenting his idea of the »networked author«: »I extend this image of a network that develops between people to the relationship between authors and reality.« And from there he extends the image to »all people,« and then specifically to the relationship of authors to each other, in which he includes Ovid – »networks spanning 2000 years.« 55


But what role does friendship play in Kluge’s network? Is it merely a case of modern polyphilia, albeit a rather exceptional one? Although Kluge cultivates an admirable friendliness in all his communications which are »on display in the network,« it cannot be ignored that at the same time continuous processes of differentiation are taking place. This is demonstrated clearly by the fact that many of his televised conversations simply flop – sometimes even those with partners he regards highly. Some examples are his interviews with Jean-Luc Godard, 56 who responded to Kluge’s friendly attempts at conversation with considerable reserve. Gaps and disturbances in the network become visible; sometimes there is even a total failure or collapse of communication. It would be very unusual if this were not the case – it happens in every business relationship, in every talk show. What is remarkable is that such things are also shown on the air.


There can be no doubt that Alexander Kluge is also caught in the modern polyphilia syndrome and that he must necessarily remain so. 57 And this condition of being caught inevitably takes on particularly distinct contours because he views his literary and film work, his media productions in general, as cooperative efforts, which he has emphatically and repeatedly stated in public. This is illustrated paradigmatically in his television interviews. Kluge is apparently fascinated by the figure of the obstetrician. And he seems to see that it is his job to guide the conversation by employing the old philosophical method of maieutics. But it is not without reason that as the tradition of conversation based on the maieutic ideal evolved, it increasingly incorporated the concept of catechesis, catechetical instruction. In such conversations the participants are never equal. Thus, to characterize Alexander Kluge’s voice as »a voice without authority« 58 is hardly more than a half-truth. This aspect of Kluge’s published conversations was demonstrated very clearly in a show produced by some television authors and the pop band Kante for the music channel VIVA 2 (fig. 12).



Fig. 12. Kante on Wah2.
»Kante – die Macht des Einzelnen [Kante – The Power of the Individual],« dir. Jochen Schmitz, perf. Karl Koch, Peter Thiessen, and Sebastian Vogel, writ. Koch and Schmitz, prod. Schmitz and Mark Sikora, Wah2, VIVA 2, Cologne, 7 Aug. 2001, 11:00 p.m.


The band would probably have been only too happy to talk on the phone with Kluge and be asked for information. Instead, the musicians fell back on their own devices, and in a one-hour program they presented their own compositions and a selection of their favorite pop songs, following the style and format of Kluge’s DCTP television interviews. 59 Even the intertitles were identical in color and typographical font to those used in Ten to Eleven, News & Stories, or Prime Time – Late Edition (fig. 14–15).



Fig. 14. Wah2, Intertitle: »Das Produkt, nicht der Profit [The Product, Not the Profit].«
»Kante – die Macht des Einzelnen.«



Fig. 15. Intertitle: »Kommunikation zwischen den Sinnen/ Fingerspitzengefühl [Communication Between the Senses/ Sure Instinct].«
»Würden intelligente Roboter Menschen mögen? Dirk Baecker über den Heißhunger robotischer Intelligenz. [Would Intelligent Robots Like Humans? Dirk Baecker on the Craving of Robotics’ Intelligence],« dir. Alexander Kluge, Ten to Eleven, prod. DCTP, RTL, Cologne, 26 Nov. 2001.


An urgent and stimulating voice whispered cryptic texts assuming extensive knowledge on the part of the viewers, i.e. they reproduced Kluge’s characteristic interviewing style. The role the band assigned to Alexander Kluge can be described with a slang expression used in contemporary German youth culture, zu-texten, which basically means »to send text, inundate with text, bury under text.« It was obvious that the two »interviewees,« Kante musicians Peter Thiessen and Sebastian Vogel, on whom the camera focused continuously (see fig. 12) without any panning or zooming in, were thoroughly enjoying the performance. However, and this is the important point, they did not say a single word the whole time. The show was called »Kante – die Macht des Einzelnen [Kante – The Power of the Individual].« Below is an excerpt from the text spoken by the invisible speaker playing Kluge’s role:



Clip 1: »Kante – die Macht des Einzelnen.«

»Sometimes you talk in your sleep.« Sleep – that is just another aggregate condition of reality. And yet there are unrelated words, aren’t there? Words that a woman [Intertitle: »Sometimes you sleep while you’re talking/Mattress listening service«] does not direct towards anyone, right? And then again a man [Intertitle: »Aggregate Conditions of Reality«] directs his words to a woman. Or to put it another way – if the immediate object of the lover is a woman, then the immediate object of industrial competitiveness is the product and not the profit, right? Or when women’s love is directed towards the immediateness of the objects, right? then [Intertitle: »The Product, Not the Profit«] profit functions more immediately and objectively than industrial competitiveness, right? which is interested in the product, which, however, can be used for only one thing, right? I work eight hours – that’s a good way of describing it, right? 60

Then the video »In the First Light« from Kante’s second album, Zweilicht, was shown. At that point it became clear to the viewer that this ethopoeia of Alexander Kluge was more or less a paraphrase of these lines of a Kante song:

sometimes you talk in your sleep
mostly incomplete sentences
single words or fragments
that I can hardly understand. 61

The real artistic achievement of this Kante show was that it was continually treading the line between homage and parody, without slipping into one or the other. Apparently, this was following Kluge’s own maxim, namely, that mass media products are best countered with other mass media products. 62


Of course, the Kante performance was one-sided and overexaggerated, but it hit home. It is not just in a rare moment that the interviewer Alexander Kluge assumes the role of »broadcaster« and there is no backward channel. Although Kluge’s general motto is: »All good work is cooperative,« 63 cooperation has its limits, and it has to have them. We can summarize here by quoting a complaint by Harun Farocki about Kluge: »Kluge is just too much of a monomaniac to make cooperation possible.« 64 This is one aspect of the matter.


There appears to be another, however, which pertains to the processes of differentiation referred to above. Thesis: The superior, rare, and prioritized type of friendship exists in Kluge’s network. His relationship to Christoph Schlingensief, described by Ursula März with such – however ironic – envy, is an excellent example. Let’s stick with it. What distinguishes this relationship from others? How is this distinction manifested? One could venture the hypothesis that this relationship offers a time, place, and medium for criticism – explicit, contentious criticism. This is not necessarily a given with Kluge and his productions; normally he has neither the time 65 nor the desire to engage in this kind of metacommunication. It is not necessary to discuss Christoph Schlingensief’s qualities as an artist here; they are certainly important for the relationship but not critical. What is of major consequence can again be illustrated best by an example. It was reported in a dpa article appearing in February 2001 that Schlingensief was planning an »opera project« for a »Congress of the Lovesick Society« being held at the Volksbühne Theater in Berlin. This project was to be a collaboration with Alexander Kluge, and their plan was to create an »Opera Guide for the Tortures of Love.« 66 It ended up precipitating a crisis in their relationship. This can be discerned in the following dialogue, which was also published:



Clip 2: »Schlacht um die Oper II.«

Alexander Kluge: Could you describe what it means that you are producing not only an opera, but also an opera guide – at least that’s what it says on the poster. – Christoph Schlingensief: …imaginary opera guide… – Kluge: Yes, at least that’s what it says on the poster. What do people need an opera guide for? – Schlingensief: There is… – Kluge: Like a street map? – Schlingensief: Like a street map to help you find your way. On a street map, now also available, for example, in the Internet, you can click on a point you find interesting. There’s a place you’d like to go to, and then you click on this point and you see: restaurant. Then you say to yourself, aha, restaurant, and then you click again and you see: restaurant with a pleasant atmosphere. Then I click again and see: restaurant with a pleasant atmosphere and a Sicilian chef… – Kluge: …Italian style… – Schlingensief: …Italian style. And then I have »atmosphere,« »Italian style,« and so on. – Kluge: Yes, yes [inaudible] …in Sicily I have the Mafia…, and so you slowly… – Schlingensief: …you slowly amass a huge amount of material. Then you have maybe thirty pages to read and end up not going out to eat… – Kluge: Professional postcard to Tahiti and then… – Schlingensief: …Yes… – Kluge: …and then you can skip going to a restaurant altogether, right? Because you know all the links in the network… – Schlingensief: Yes, because the recipes from the restaurant are also provided at the end of the text – and you make them at home yourself. – Kluge: And you can sleep peacefully, right? It’s not a torture for your ears because you have put every opera into an imaginary opera guide, and this ceremony – a kind of funeral for the operas from the seventeenth to twentieth centuries – is a kind of opening cantata for the opera(s) of the twenty-first century, which don’t exist yet and therefore cannot torture you [Intertitle: »When mother comes, there’s food; when father comes, there’s theater.«] and which do not cost the Berlin Senate any money, right? That would be the reason for the event… – Schlingensief: …that would be the reason for the event, that you’ve always had the desire to produce opera yourself. Papa makes opera… – Kluge: When mother comes, there’s food; when father comes, there’s opera. No, theater. – Schlingensief: …there’s theater, exactly. – Kluge: How would you actually define opera? 67

It is important not to be misled by the lively and bantering quality of their communication. It’s the tone that makes the music. 68 And the tone of voice here is critical, to say the least. It expresses irritation; it is sarcastic. The issue is probably not so much that author Christoph Schlingensief purloined something from author Alexander Kluge, in this case the title for a project that Kluge had been pursuing assiduously over a long period of time. In connection with his film The Power of Emotion (Germany, 1983), Kluge wrote:

For years I have been using literary and cinematic means in an attempt to change the typical opera plot – disarmament of the fifth act. […] This requires developing an imaginary opera guide, one that would present an alternative opera world. 69

The problem with Schlingensief’s adaptation is that although it bears the striking title of Kluge’s project, it is not really an adaptation, and it does not deal with the project itself in any way. At best, his work can be seen as an »opera guide,« 70 but not the imaginary one envisioned by Kluge, which is the real reason for Kluge’s irritation and manner of questioning. This is not his idea of how meaningful networks should function, which he tells Schlingensief both »to his face« and »coram publico,« thus behaving in a way that is not typical for him in such conversations. What’s more, he then goes on to talk about this matter in terms of »friendship.«



Clip 3: »Schlacht um die Oper II.«

Kluge: When it comes to art, one shouldn’t be tolerant… – Schlingensief: No. – Kluge: …so if you have a friend and you let him get away with crap, right?… – Schlingensief: …hmm… – Kluge: …and you say, that was nice, right? The way a normal canteen in a theater functions, or a public television station, right? Then that would be exactly the wrong thing to do. You have to cause pain, right? 71

This is probably one of the biggest compliments Alexander Kluge is capable of giving, and he is not – »in all friendship,« as the expression goes – particularly generous with this kind of compliments.


To understand this exchange, it is helpful to look at it again in the context of the traditional semantics of friendship. The role of criticism in friendship is an especially difficult question in the philia discussion and in most of the canonical texts it is not dealt with specifically. Certainly, it is important to distinguish between friends and flatterers, 72 and in some respects the problem of criticism in friendship is implied in this distinction, but this is not a popular issue (it is more likely to be treated in connection with the general problem of giving advice). 73 Even in Montaigne’s essay on friendship, it is merely alluded to in passing. 74 This reserve has to do with the fact that the semantics of friendship was characterized from the very beginning by the quality of perfectionism, and it has never really been able to free itself from this. A friend is loved and is a friend because one feels that he or she embodies virtue and is extraordinarily intelligent; in short, because this person is perfect. Moreover, this feeling is supposed to be felt by both of the people in the relationship, and therefore their behavior towards each other is supposed to be symmetrical. The idea of friendly criticism would definitely be at odds with this. What could there be to criticize? Most likely it is not a coincidence that one exception to this handling of the question of criticism in friendship is provided by Cicero, someone who was experienced in legal and political matters. Monere, in the sense employed by Cicero, refers to a function and expression of friendship. But even Cicero is only able to apply it to friendship by drawing circuitous distinctions between an ideal friendship and friendship between »real« people. 75 Be that as it may, Alexander Kluge seems to be building on the basic premise that friendship, especially good friendship, is only attainable if friends invest time and energy in criticism – if they make the effort to voice criticism openly and they exercise patience in dealing with controversy.


And this is part of what makes the friendship between Alexander Kluge and Christoph Schlingensief so unusual, as Ursula März aptly observed: that criticism, despite many obvious asymmetries in the relationship, is given in both directions. One year after the »lifeblood/art blood« crisis described above, Schlingensief expressed his respect and gratitude with the following appreciative words: »it is still a great honor for me […] to talk with [Kluge] on the phone.« 76 Perhaps Schlingensief’s use of Kluge’s filmed pictures of rabbits as an integral part of his largest opera project up to that time, his production of Richard Wagner’s Parsifal in Bayreuth in 2004, could be interpreted as a reminder of their »imaginary opera« crisis, which they eventually overcame. On the other hand, he, too, is able to give criticism and maintain distance, which is what makes it possible to speak here of a »machinery of rejoinder« 77 in the sense meant by Brecht. It is demonstrated not only by Schlingensief’s accepting the ambiguous – namely public/private and therefore rather uncanny 78 – status of the telephone conversation, but also by his actively bringing it back into their relationship and using it on the offensive. Criticism of Kluge’s idealized conception of the telephone can even be communicated over the telephone itself. Thus, during a long telephone conversation with Kluge, Schlingensief starts talking about how his personal perceptions have changed since the 9–11 attacks and describing his fear and feelings of hysteria, and then all of a sudden he interrupts the conversation in order to involve the public sphere:

Schlingensief: […] Do you know what I mean? – Kluge: I’m trying to understand. – Schlingensief: Are we already on the air? – Kluge: Oh, we’re on the air. I greet you, Comrade Schlingensief. – Schlingensief: Hello, Comrade Kluge.

Christoph Schlingensief actually published this conversation in a newspaper at a later time; its title was »First Part of a Conversation Between Alexander Kluge and Me. Kluge on the Phone in Munich Before a Live Camera, I on the Phone in the Volksbühne Theater Before a Live Camera.« 79 It is especially instructive to look at the second part of the conversation, which shows that Kluge is somewhat surprised to hear they are »on the air« and expresses this by falling spontaneously into a kind of parody role-playing.

Kluge: Oh, we are on the air. I greet you, Comrade Schlingensief. – Schlingensief: Hello, Comrade Kluge. – Kluge: You are just coming from Zurich or you are sitting in Berlin and you are ubiquitously on your way somewhere, but we could not get together so we are sitting here in a telephone conference call, in two different places we believe to be safe. 80

And so on. The circumstances under which a conversation takes place have a considerable influence. Thus, it becomes clear that the balance between »public« and »private,« which Alexander Kluge normally achieves with aplomb even up to the point where the distinction disappears, is an experiment that requires special conditions and also involves some affectation. It becomes grotesque when Schlingensief takes Kluge’s telephone metaphor literally by presenting himself to the camera while talking into what looks like a toy telephone (see fig. 4). 81 This goes on for nearly forty-five minutes without interruption, and the effect is disconcerting and obtrusive. Is there a more precise way to confront Alexander Kluge with his own concept? Let us now come to a conclusion. »What is the world without friends? A Sinai Desert,« Gleim once wrote to Karl Wilhelm Ramler. 82 »The Living Desert« is the title Kluge gave to a fifteen-minute film on Schlingensief, and it is one of the best, or at least one of the most carefully produced, montage films he has ever made for television. 83



On the various facets of Alexander Kluge’s authorship: Peter C. Lutze, Alexander Kluge. The Last Modernist (Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1998); particularly on his early television productions: Miriam Hansen, »Reinventing the Nickelodeon: Notes on Kluge and Early Cinema,« October 46 (Fall 1988): 179–98; an interpretation from the perspective offered by the new digital media can be found in: Georg Stanitzek, »Autorität im Hypertext: ›Der Kommentar ist die Grundform der Texte‹ (Alexander Kluge) [Authority in Hypertext: ›The Basic Form of the Texts is the Commentary‹ (Alexander Kluge)],« Internationales Archiv für Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur 23,2 (1998): 1–48 (cf. http://www.culture.hu-berlin.de/verstaerker/vs004/stanitzek_kluge.pdf); this paper seeks to make a contribution towards achieving the desideratum of a network analysis, which is defined there on pages 35 to 37.   zurück
Kathrin Röggla, »Eine Stimme mit Eigensinn [A Stubborn Voice],« die tageszeitung, 14 Feb. 2002: 5; the translation of Christian Morgenstern’s poem is from The Gallows Songs, Christian Morgenstern’s ›Galgenlieder‹, A Selection, trans. and ed. Max Knight (Berkeley: U of California P, 1964) 63.   zurück
Volker Hage and Mathias Schreiber, »Ich liebe das Lakonische: Spiegel-Gespräch mit Alexander Kluge [I Love Laconism: Spiegel Conversation with Alexander Kluge],« Der Spiegel 6 Nov. 2000: 336–40, here 340; Sabine Schlosser, »›Der Zuschauer wird oftmals unterschätzt‹: Literat, Filmemacher und TV-Produzent Alexander Kluge über konvergierende Zielgruppen, glaubwürdige Marken und glückliche Momente [›The viewer is often underestimated‹: Literary author, filmmaker, and TV producer Alexander Kluge on converging target groups, trustworthy brands, and happy moments],« Horizont. Zeitung für Marketing, Werbung und Medien 6 (2002): 44.   zurück
Alexander Kluge, »Die Zeit, die vergehen muß, damit eine Zuschauermenge Initiative ergreift [The time that has to pass before bystanders will take the initiative]« 1987, Chronik der Gefühle [Chronicle of Emotions], vol. 1: Basisgeschichten [Basic Stories], (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2000) 901–02.   zurück
Bernd Maubach, personal telephone conversation with Alexander Kluge, 14 Jan. 2002.   zurück
Cf. Alexander Kluge, »Erzählen ist die Darstellung von Differenzen: Alexander Kluge im Gespräch mit Jochen Rack [Storytelling is the presentation of differences: Alexander Kluge in conversation with Jochen Rack],« Neue Rundschau 112.1 (2001): 73–91, here 83.   zurück
Cf. the small symptomatic controversy: Detlef Esslinger, »Alexander Kluges Hobbyfilme [Alexander Kluge’s Hobby Films],« Süddeutsche Zeitung 23–24 Mar. 1996: 16 and Arno Makowsky, »Alexander Kluges Kunstfilme [Alexander Kluge’s Art Films],« Süddeutsche Zeitung 30–31 Mar. 1996: 16.   zurück
Alexander Kluge in Einen Ausweg muß es geben: Die filmische Welt des Alexander Kluge [There Must Be a Solution: The Cinematic World of Alexander Kluge], dir. Peter Buchka, prod. Kick Film GmbH & BR, Videocassette, Inter Nationes, 1990.   zurück
Alexander Kluge, ed., Bestandsaufnahme: Utopie Film. Zwanzig Jahre neuer deutscher Film [Stocktaking: Utopia Film. Twenty Years of New German Film] (Frankfurt am Main: Zweitausendeins, 1983) 230.   zurück
Ibid. 46. – On »extraordinarily high telephone costs« in an academic context that are not quite so comprehensible to auditors, cf. Hellmut Becker and Alexander Kluge, Kulturpolitik und Ausgabenkontrolle: Zur Theorie und Praxis der Rechnungsprüfung [Cultural Politics and Spending Control: On the Theory and Practice of Auditing] (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1961) 86–87; cf. also Kluge’s attempt to talk about this topic with Luhmann: »You discuss philosophy on the phone?« (Alexander Kluge and Niklas Luhmann, »Vorsicht vor zu raschem Verstehen: Niklas Luhmann im Fernsehgespräch mit Alexander Kluge [Beware of Understanding Too Quickly: Niklas Luhmann in a TV Chat with Alexander Kluge]« 1994, Warum haben Sie keinen Fernseher, Herr Luhmann? Letzte Gespräche mit Niklas Luhmann [Why Don’t You Have a Television, Mr. Luhmann? Last Conversations with Niklas Luhmann], ed. Wolfgang Hagen (Berlin: Kadmos, n.d.) 49–77, here 67.   zurück
»Cinema on television conveys something like a telephone conversation. People need that; there are times when people are happy to be able to talk to someone on the telephone.« (Jean-Luc Godard in »Gespräch zwischen Walter Ruggle und Jean-Luc Godard [Conversation Between Walter Ruggle and Jean-Luc Godard],« Filmbulletin 6 (1990): 46–50, here 50).   zurück
Bertolt Brecht, »Radio as a Means of Communication. A Talk on the Function of Radio« 1932, trans. Stuart Hood, Screen 20.3–4 (1979): 24–28, here 25.   zurück
Bertolt Brecht, »Erläuterungen zum ›Ozeanflug‹ [Commentaries on ›The Ocean Flight‹]« [Radiotheorie; 1930], Gesammelte Werke [Collected Works], vol. 18: Schriften 2: Zur Literatur und Kunst. Zur Politik und Gesellschaft [Writings 2: On Literature and Art. On Politics and Society] (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1967) 126; cf. Oskar Negt and Alexander Kluge, Public Sphere and Experience: Toward an Analysis of the Bourgeois and Proletarian Public Sphere, Foreword by Miriam Hansen, trans. Peter Labanyi, Jamie Owen Dabiel, and Assenka Oksiloff (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1993) 99–103.   zurück
Brecht, »Radio as a Means of Communication,« op. cit. 28.   zurück
Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, »The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception,« Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, trans. Edmund Jephcott, ed. Gunzelin Schmid Noerr (Stanford: Stanford UP, 2002) 94–136, here 95–96 (translation slightly modified).   zurück
Ibid. 128–29.   zurück
Andrea Gnam, Positionen der Wunschökonomie: Das ästhetische Textmodell Alexander Kluges und seine philosophischen Voraussetzungen [Positions of the Economy of Desire: Alexander Kluge’s Aesthetic Text Model and Its Philosophical Requirements] (Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 1989) 37–38.   zurück
Stuart Moulthrop, »Testing the Wires,« Reimagining Textuality: Textual Studies in the Late Age of Print, ed. Elizabeth Bergmann Loizeaux and Neil Fraistat (Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 2002) 225–40, here 236–37.   zurück
Jurgen Ruesch and Gregory Bateson, Communication: The Social Matrix of Psychiatry (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1987) 42.   zurück
Alexander Kluge, Die Lücke, die der Teufel läßt: Im Umfeld des neuen Jahrhunderts [The Devil’s Blind Spot: Tales From the New Century] (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2003) 473.   zurück
Thus, two kinds of networks need to be distinguished: on the one hand, a certain kind of »total« network – »These new networks, just think of the Internet, are the high sea« (Alexander Kluge in »Das Verharren auf der Rohstoffebene: Alexander Kluge über Enzyklopädien, vertrauensbildende Maßnahmen, Fledermäuse und das gewisse apollinische Etwas/Interview, Teil zwei [Adhering to the Level of Raw Materials. Alexander Kluge on Encyclopedias, Measures for Building Trust, Bats, and That Certain Apollonian Something/ Interview, Part Two],« by Christian Schlüter and Stephan Hebel, Frankfurter Rundschau: Die Beilage zur neuen FR 27 Sept. 2003: 9) – and, on the other hand, the partial networking operations occurring within this network, or the specific networks that arise (see Philipp Hessinger, Vernetzte Wirtschaft und ökonomische Entwicklung. Organisatorischer Wandel, institutionelle Einbettung, zivilgesellschaftliche Perspektiven [Networked Economy and Economic Development. Organizational Change, Institutional Embedding, Civil Societal Perspectives] (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 2001) 31–32.   zurück
Stefan Kaufmann, »Netzwerk [Network],« Glossar der Gegenwart [Glossary of the Present], ed. Ulrich Bröckling, Susanne Krasmann, and Thomas Lemke (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2004) 182–89; cf. also the equating of »modernity« with »networking«: Alexander Kluge and Joseph Vogl, »Zeit ohne Raum: Ein Gespräch [Time without Space: A Conversation],« Science & Fiction: Über Gedankenexperimente in Wissenschaft, Philosophie und Literatur [On Thought Experiments in Science, Philosophy, and Literature], ed. Thomas Macho and Annette Wunschel (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 2004) 242–61, here 257.   zurück
J. L. Moreno, Who Shall Survive? Foundations of Sociometry, Group Psychotherapy and Sociodrama (Beacon, N.Y.: Beacon House, 1953) 3; later translated as »friendships and hostilities« (ibid. 283); the process of the social flow of repulsion und attraction is expressed in the terminology of the telephone paradigm as follows: »This process may be conceived as tele. Tele is two-way empathy, like a telephone it has two ends.« (Ibid. 53).   zurück
Ursula März, »Mein Freund [My Friend],« Frankfurter Rundschau 22 Nov. 2000: 21. Cf. the short characterization of Christoph Schlingensief’s projects: David Hughes, »Everything in Excess – Christoph Schlingensief and the Crisis of the German Left,« The Germanic Review 81.4 (Fall 2006), 317–339.   zurück
Alexander Kluge, »Gotthold Ephraim Lessing und das Prinzip der ›tragischen Wiedererkennung‹: Eine Rede [Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and the Principle of ›Tragic Recognition‹: A Speech],« Maßverhältnisse des Politischen: 15 Vorschläge zum Unterscheidungsvermögen [Measured Relations of the Political: 15 Proposals on the Ability to Discriminate] by Oskar Negt and Alexander Kluge (Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1992) 311–27, here 313; cf. Sir Francis Bacon, Essayes 27: »Of Frendship,« The Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall, ed. with Introduction and Commentary by Michael Kiernan (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1985), 80–87, here 84.   zurück
Compare the public foregrounding of their »strategic networking« provided by the network theorists C.A. Doxiadis, Jacqueline Tyrwhitt, Buckminster Fuller, Marshall McLuhan, et al., as analyzed by Mark Wigley, »Network Fever,« Grey Room 4 (Summer 2001): 82–122, here 92, 89.   zurück
Alexander Kluge, »Der Luftangriff auf Halberstadt am 8. April 1945 [The Air Raid on Halberstadt on 8 April, 1945],« Neue Geschichten: Hefte 1–18: »Unheimlichkeit der Zeit« [New Stories: Notebooks 1–18: »The Uncanniness of Time«] (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1977) 33–161, here 92–93; Alexander Kluge, »Die Differenz: Rede zur Verleihung des Kleist-Preises in der Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin [The Difference: Speech on the Occasion of the Award of the Kleist Prize in the Berlin State Library of the Prussian Cultural Heritage]« 1985, Theodor Fontane, Heinrich von Kleist und Anna Wilde: Zur Grammatik der Zeit [Theodor Fontane, Heinrich von Kleist, and Anna Wilde: The Grammar of Time] (Berlin: Wagenbach, 1987) 73–89, here 75–76.   zurück
Cf. Gotthardt Frühsorge, »Freundschaftliche Bilder: Zur historischen Bedeutung der Bildnissammlung im Gleimhaus zu Halberstadt [Pictures of Friendship: The Historical Significance of the Portrait Collection in the Gleim House in Halberstadt],« Theatrum europaeum: Festschrift für Elida Maria Szarota, ed. Richard Brinkmann et al. (München: Fink, 1982) 429–52; Wolfgang Adam, »Freundschaft und Geselligkeit im 18. Jahrhundert [Friendship and Sociability in the Eighteenth Century]«, Der Freundschaftstempel im Gleimhaus zu Halberstadt: Porträts des 18. Jahrhunderts [The Temple of Friendship in the Gleim House in Halberstadt: Portraits From the Eighteenth Century], ed. Gleimhaus Halberstadt (Leipzig: E. A. Seemann, 2000) 9–34; Das Jahrhundert der Freundschaft: Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim und seine Zeitgenossen [The Century of Friendship: Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim and His Contemporaries], ed. Ute Pott (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2004).   zurück
I do not have the reference for this. What is meant here is what has once been called the »filming of all kinds of experts from a fixed camera position« (Rudolf Schmitz, »Mitternächtliche Weltweisheit im Privatkanal/Universal Wisdom at the Bewitching Hour on Private TV,« Parkett 55 (1999): 17–22, here 17–18).   zurück
Klaus Kreimeier, »›Das Seiende im Ganzen aber steuert der Blitz‹: Anmerkungen zu Alexander Kluges Magazinen [›Being in Its Entirety Is Controlled by Lightning‹: Notes on Alexander Kluge’s Magazine Shows],« Kluges Fernsehen: Alexander Kluges Kulturmagazine [Clever TV: Alexander Kluge’s Culture Magazine Shows], ed. Christian Schulte and Winfried Siebers (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2002) 39–51, here 47.   zurück
Kluge used this method of portrayal earlier in his cinema films; cf. Christa Blümlinger, »Rededispositiv und Filmbegriff in Kluges Kulturmagazinen [Speech ›dispositif‹ and the concept of film in Kluge’s culture magazine shows],« in Kluges Fernsehen, op. cit. 105–17, here 106.   zurück
Alfred Edel and Alexander Kluge, »Das große Zeitgeist-Gespenst: Alfred Edel im Gespräch mit Alexander Kluge [The Great Zeitgeist Ghost: Alfred Edel in Conversation with Alexander Kluge],« Das Edelbuch, ed. Rolf Aurich and Wolfgang Jacobsen (Berlin: Verbrecher Verlag, 2004) 73–86, here 74–79. (Transcription of the television show: News & Stories, prod. DCTP [Development Company for Television Programs], SAT. 1, Mainz, 2 Nov. 1992); cf. also »Adieu für Alfred Edel: ›Der Mann ohne Taschen,‹ [Adieu for Alfred Edel: ›The Man Without Pockets‹]« dir. Alexander Kluge, 100 Minuten Vielfalt [100 Minutes of Variety], prod. DCTP, VOX, Cologne, 11 Dec. 1993.   zurück
Cf. Christoph Schlingensief, »Der Denker [The Thinker],« Süddeutsche Zeitung 14 Feb. 2002: 15.   zurück
Cf., for example, »Ost-Star Sophie Rois. Eine ausdrucksstarke Darstellerin an der Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin [East German Star Sophie Rois. An Expressive Performer at the Volksbühne Theater at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin],« dir. Alexander Kluge, Mitternachtsmagazin [Midnight Magazine], prod. DCTP, VOX, Cologne, 22 Sept. 1995; »Die wilde Hilde/ Sophie Rois spielt Brunhilde. In Zusammenarbeit mit der Volksbühne Berlin am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz [Wild Hilde/ Sophie Rois Plays Brunhilde. In collaboration with the Volksbühne Theater Berlin at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz],« dir. Alexander Kluge, Prime Time – Spätausgabe [Prime Time – Late Edition], prod. DCTP, RTL, Cologne, 28 Apr. 1997; »Oper als Härtetest des Gefühls/ Sophie Rois als Kammersängerin Nellie Melba [Opera as a Toughness Test for the Emotions/ Sophie Rois Plays the Kammersängerin Nellie Melba],« dir. Alexander Kluge, Prime Time – Spätausgabe, prod. DCTP, RTL, Cologne, 11 May 1997; »Pariser Leben/ Offenbachs Operette mit Super-Star Sophie Rois [La Vie Parisienne/ Offenbach’s Operetta with Superstar Sophie Rois],« dir. Alexander Kluge, Ten to Eleven, prod. DCTP, RTL, Cologne, 12 Jul. 1999.   zurück
»›Mein Idealzuschauer ist jung und weiblich‹: Christoph Schlingensief zu Besuch bei Helge Schneider [›My Ideal Viewer is Young and Female‹: Christoph Schlingensief Visits Helge Schneider],« dir. Walter Lenertz, Ten to Eleven, prod. DCTP, RTL, Cologne, 28 Mar. 1994.   zurück
»Die Sprengung des höchsten Turms von Halberstadt [The Blasting of the Highest Tower in Halberstadt],« Prime Time – Spätausgabe, prod. DCTP, RTL, Cologne, 20 Mar. 1994; »Liebe öffnet Herzen/ Liz Mohn, Botschafterin für Unternehmenskultur und Musik [Love Opens Hearts/ Liz Mohn, Ambassador for Corporate Culture and Music],« dir. Alexander Kluge, Ten to Eleven, prod. DCTP, RTL, Cologne, 10 Jul. 2000.   zurück
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg to Johann Andreas Schernhagen, Göttingen, 12 Feb. 1778, Schriften und Briefe [Works and Letters], ed. Wolfgang Promies, vol. 4: Briefe [Letters] (Frankfurt am Main: Zweitausendeins, 1994) 313.   zurück
Viewed with a certain detachment, »the bits of film that television producer Alexander Kluge scatters throughout the stations are reminiscent of the custom that especially dentists have of buying artwork to decorate the walls of their waiting rooms and then deducting it from their taxes.« (Uwe Nettelbeck, »Meine Affäre mit der Woche [My Affair with the Week],« Die Republik 92–93 (1995): 1–116, here 14).   zurück
Cf. Nikolaus Wegmann, Diskurse der Empfindsamkeit: Zur Geschichte eines Gefühls in der Literatur des 18. Jahrhunderts [Sentimental Discourses: History of an Emotion in the Literature of the Eighteenth Century] (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1988) 52–54.   zurück
Plutarch, »On Having Many Friends [De amicorum multitudine / Perì polyphilías],« Plutarch’s Moralia in sixteen volumes, vol. II, trans. Frank Cole Babbit (London: William Heinemann; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1971) 86b–171f.   zurück
Ibid. 95a; on the consideration of this question from a pragmatic network perspective cf. Dirk Baecker, »Kleines ABC des Netzwerks / A Small Network Alphabet,« Birgitta Weimer: Holon (Bergisch-Gladbach: Städtische Galerie Villa Zanders, 1998) 60–63, here 60.   zurück
Jacques Derrida, Politics of Friendship, trans. George Collins (London: Verso, 1997).   zurück
Cf. Niklas Luhmann, »Wie ist soziale Ordnung möglich? [How is social order possible?],« Gesellschaftsstruktur und Semantik: Studien zur Wissenssoziologie der modernen Gesellschaft [The Structure of Society and Semantics: Studies on the Sociology of Knowledge of Modern Society], vol. 2 (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1981) 195–285, chaps. IV and V (215–31); Niklas Luhmann, Love as Passion: The Codification of Intimacy, trans. Jeremy Gaines and Doris L. Jones (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1986) 81–82.   zurück
Cf., for example, Manuel Castells, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, vol. 1: The Rise of the Network Society, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000) 70–71.   zurück
Mark S. Granovetter, »The Strength of Weak Ties,« American Journal of Sociology 78.6 (1973): 1360–80.   zurück
Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello, The New Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Gregory Elliott (London: Verso, 2005) 123. – The authors mobilize the old European idea of friendship to support their critical analysis of the network euphoria being experienced by the modern management world (cf. in particular 455–57, 463–64).   zurück
Jeremy Boissevain, Friends of Friends: Networks, Manipulators and Coalitions (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1974), see in particular his somewhat critical cultural analysis 93–94.   zurück
In 1980 the German punk rock band Fehlfarben made the following very perceptive and ultramodern comment in reference to »all this ‘68 stuff«: »Change your friends the way others change their shirt« (Jürgen Teipel, Verschwende Deine Jugend: Ein Doku-Roman über den deutschen Punk und New Wave [Waste Your Youth: A Documentary Novel about German Punk and New Wave] (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2001) 258). »They were not interested in being close friends, but in working towards a common cause. And that was what was special about it.« (Ibid. 38).   zurück
Wolfram Schütte, »Abrüstung der V. Akte oder Die Bewaffnung der Gefühle: Alexander Kluges zweistündiger Montage-Film ›Die Macht der Gefühle‹ [Disarmament of the Fifth Act or The Armament of Emotion: Alexander Kluge’s Two-Hour Montage Film ›The Power of Emotion‹],« Frankfurter Rundschau 21 Sept. 1983: 12; Jürgen Kaube, »Moral, List. Alexander Kluge erhält den Georg Büchner-Preis [Morals, Craftiness: Alexander Kluge receives the Georg Büchner Prize],« Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 12 May 2003: 33.   zurück
Alexander Kluge, »Der unentschiedene Philologe [The Indecisive Philologist],« Lernprozesse mit tödlichem Ausgang [Learning Processes With A Deadly Outcome] (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1973) 31–46, here 46; cf. David Jacobson, »Fair-Weather Friend: Label and Context in Middle-Class Friendships,« Journal of Anthropological Research 31.3 (1975), 225–34.   zurück
Alexander Kluge, »Russian Endings,« Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung 5 Oct. 2003: 31; on the network theoretical concept of the »bridge« see, for example, Granovetter, op. cit. 1364–65.   zurück
Röggla, op. cit.   zurück
But at the same time he also made a reference to »primary communication«: »In discussions like these we all become actors; you, Mr. von Nussbaum, are playing the press. When we play any roles, in the world and also here, we are still also real people. When two such real people speak with each other, this is what is called ›primary communication.‹« (Alexander Kluge in Kluge and Heinz Ungureit, »Naht- und Bruchstellen zwischen Kino und Fernsehen: Protokoll der Diskussion [Links and Breaks Between Cinema and Television: Transcript of the Discussion],« Fernseh-Kritik: Filmkultur – Filmverbrauch: Zum Stand der Beziehungen zwischen Kino und Fernsehen [Television Criticism: Film Culture – Film Consumption: The Status of the Relationship Between Cinema and Television], ed. Hans Helmut Hillrichs and Ungureit (Mainzer Tage der Fernseh-Kritik 16) (Mainz: v. Hase & Koehler, 1984) 177–224, here 222).   zurück
Alexander Kluge, »Seat of the Soul,« The Devil’s Blind Spot: Tales From the New Century, trans. Martin Chalmers and Michael Hulse (New York: New Directions Books, 2004) 97–98, here 97.   zurück
Alexander Kluge, »Das Innere des Erzählens: Georg Büchner [The Inner Workings of Storytelling: Georg Büchner]« Fontane – Kleist – Deutschland – Büchner: Zur Grammatik der Zeit [Fontane – Kleist – Germany – Büchner: On the Grammar of Time] (Berlin: Wagenbach, 2004) 73–86, here 74. – »When I write, I speak with other trustworthy people such as Adorno, Montaigne, Ovid, or Heiner Müller, and also with my mother and our nanny. My network is literature and my favorite figure is Arachne, a beautiful weaver, who challenged the goddess Athena to a weaving contest, won, and for that reason was turned into a spider.« (Kluge in Schlosser, op. cit.).   zurück
»›Wie in der Liebe: Keine Erklärungen‹: Magazin zu Godards 60. Geburtstag [›As in Love: No Explanations‹: Magazine Show on the Occasion of Godard’s 60th Birthday],« dir. Alexander Kluge, Ten to Eleven, prod. DCTP, RTL, Cologne, 3 Dec. 1990; »Skizze einer Pressekonferenz/ Ein Film der Töne. Ein rätselhafter Film über die Einsamkeit und die deutsche Wende/ Deutschland im Jahre Null von Jean-Luc Godard [Sketch of a Press Conference/ A Film of Tones. An enigmatic film about loneliness and German reunification/ Germany Year 90 Nine Zero by Jean-Luc Godard],« dir. Alexander Kluge, Ten to Eleven, prod. DCTP, RTL, Cologne, 31 Aug. 1992; »Blinde Liebe/ Jean-Luc Godard: Meine Mutter hat nur Stummfilme gesehen! [Blind Love/ Jean-Luc Godard: My Mother only watched silent movies!],« dir. Alexander Kluge, trans. Ulrike Sprenger, Ten to Eleven, RTL, Cologne, 7 Jan. 2002.   zurück
In the years from 1992 to 1995 alone, the following people appeared in Kluge’s DCTP programs: Meibrit Ahrens, Svetlana Alexievich, Allison Anders, Laurie Anderson, Ang Lee, Semen Aranovich, James A. Baker, Frithjof Bergmann, Peter Berling, Erich Böhme, Robert Bramkamp, Elisabeth Bronfen, George H. Burdeau, Jürgen Busche, Monty Cantsin, Sinan Çetin, Youssef Chahine, Michael Christ, Thomas Christaller, Axel Corti, Sebastian Cramer, Michael S. Cullen, Daniel Dennett, Irene Dische, Danièle Dubroux, Perry Duis, Alfred Edel, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, August Everding, Valentin Falin, Kimberly Flynn, Thomas Freundner, Götz Friedrich, Armand Gatti, Peter Glotz, Jean-Luc Godard, Mikhail Gorbachov, Durs Grünbein, Patricia Guzman, Miriam Hansen, Michael Heinrich, Werner Herzog, Jan Hoet, Ralf Höpfner, Dennis Hopper, Günter Hörmann, Albert Johnson, Paul Johnson, Martin Kaiser, Dieter Kamm, Gija Kantscheli, Romuald Karmakar, Joachim Kersten, Matthias Keuthen, Wolfgang H. Kirchner, Heinz Klüter, Vyacheslav Kostikov, Igor Kostin, Oleg Kovalov, Peter Kremski, Ulrich Kubiak, Boris Kustow, Claude Lanzmann, Ang Lee, Iara Lee, Walter Lenertz, Fritz Leonhardt, Dani Levy, Detlef B. Linke, Richard Linklater, Phil Lucas, Niklas Luhmann, Maximiliane Mainka, Axel Manthey, Digne M. Marcovicz, Humberto Maturana, Ludwig Meier, Thomas Meinecke, Fidel Moreno, Christine Morgenroth, André Müller, Heiner Müller, Christopher Munchs, Ivan Nagel, Oskar Negt, Nagisa Oshima, Manfred Osten, Sara Paretsky, Goran Paskaljevic, Anand Patwardhan, Hartmut Pilch, Yoko Pointner, Jaroslav Poncar, Peter Pörtner, Ludwig Rauch, Herbert Riehl-Heyse, Wolfgang Rihm, Luis Rodriguez, O. E. Rössler, Heiner Roß, Ayaz Salayev, Helke Sander, Kathe Sandler, Peter Satorius, Einar Schleef, Christoph Schlingensief, Claudia Schmölders, Helge Schneider, Wolfgang Schröder, Ulrike Sprenger, Galina Starovoitova, Stelarc, Laurens Straub, Yale Strom, Ruedi Tanner, José Tavares, Yoko Tawada, Richard Teitelbaum, Ray Troppman, Nansalyn Uranchimeg, Joseph Vogl, Alexander Weil, Thomas Willke, K. D. Wolf, Yamamoto Sandro Zambetti, John Zorn… (The list may not be complete.)   zurück
Timothy Corrigan, »The Commerce of Auteurism: A Voice without Authority,« New German Critique 49 (Winter 1990): 43–57.   zurück
Having two interviewees rather than one may seem unusual, but this variant also occurs in Kluge’s own productions; cf. his interview with the band FSK in »Musikmagazin zum Faschingsdienstag [Music Magazine on Mardi Gras],« dir. Alexander Kluge, 100 Minuten Vielfalt, prod. DCTP, VOX, Cologne, 20 Feb. 1993 (fig. 13).

Fig. 13. FSK.
»Musikmagazin zum Faschingsdienstag [Music Magazine on Mardi Gras],« dir. Alexander Kluge, 100 Minuten Vielfalt, prod. DCTP, VOX, Cologne, 20 Feb. 1993.

»Kante – die Macht des Einzelnen [Kante – The Power of the Individual],« dir. Jochen Schmitz, perf. Karl Koch, Peter Thiessen, and Sebastian Vogel, writ. Koch and Schmitz, prod. Schmitz and Mark Sikora, Wah2, VIVA 2, Cologne, 7 Aug. 2001, 11:00 p.m.; cf. Kluge, Chronik der Gefühle, vol. 1, op. cit. 857–60. – Even their Internet advertisement followed the style of the DCTP homepage down to the last detail:
Kante – The Power of the Individual
An homage to Alexander Kluge’s ›News & Stories.‹ Today the Hamburg band Kante, whose new album Zweilicht has received a lot of attention, will be asking each other questions in the manner of Alexander Kluge. The discussion will range from Ovid, Cassandra, Richard Wagner, John Coltrane, Arvo Pärt, and Peter Alexander to Gottfried Helnwein, blind spots, products, and profits. Lively fun for clever people. (8 Aug. 2001 http://www.viva-zwei-online.de//////wahwah.php3 [no longer available]; cf. 6 Jul. 2005 http://www.dctp.de/english/formats_primetime.shtml.)
Is it too much of a stretch of the imagination to interpret this Kante feature as a way of completing, or rather, managing to get through, a kind of homework assignment? At any rate, a year earlier the music channel VIVA was subjected to a strange existential test in a story from Chronik der Gefühle. The entire text is quoted below:
Without any prospects, time passes slowly for him
The sick man bore with admirable calmness the knowledge that he had only about one year to live (it was indeed possible to give an exact time point as the metastases developed at certain intervals), and from then on he judged the value of everything based on this certainty about the hour of his death. If a VIVA piece of music did not measure up to this criterion, he would make someone change the channel. Not a lot remained that passed muster, and he soon began to get bored. As a result, he started to look forward to each meal. And to sleeping. He waited impatiently for each long day to end. He (or the certain idea of death) had reduced his essential activities so completely that the period of a year seemed long to him. (Kluge, Chronik der Gefühle, vol. 1, op. cit. 380).
Kante, »In the First Light,« in Christer Petersen and Robby Redekop, Kante and Wühr. Signs of Postmodernism in German (Pop) Culture, 8 Dec. 2004 http://www.cc.umanitoba.ca/faculties/arts/world_literature/ge/kante_wuhr.pdf: 2.   zurück
Cf. Negt and Kluge, Public Sphere and Experience, op. cit. 103.   zurück
Kluge in »Das Verharren auf der Rohstoffebene,« op. cit.   zurück
»He is like Kraus with his ›Fackel‹ – one would have to start a different journal. At the beginning of the ‘90s I tried to instigate some kind of media magazine on TV. We were unable to push it through, there was no slot for it. But even worse: we were unable to assemble a group of such distinction that would have made it seem scandalous that we didn’t get the funds for our project.« (Rembert Hüser, »Nine Minutes in the Yard: A conversation with Harun Farocki,« trans. Winfried Thielmann and Laurent Faasch-Ibrahim, senses of cinema 21 (Jul.-Aug. 2002), 26 Sept. 2004 http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/02/21/farocki_huser.html. – A critic refers to »interviews in which [Kluge] answers all the questions he does not ask his interviewees« (Sandra Kegel, »Das ist ihr Leben. Haben wir wirklich das Fernsehen, das wir verdienen? [This is their life. Do we really have the TV we deserve?],« Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 27 Aug. 1999: 39).   zurück
»Amici fures temporis« – »friends are thieves of time« – is a wicked, but realistic little proverb (Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, ed. G. W. Kitchin (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1973) 180). – »In short, every person has what may be called a network management problem.« (Boissevain, op. cit. 94).   zurück
dpa, »Künstlerleid: Schlingensief hilft Kongress der Liebeskranken [Artists’ Suffering. Schlingensief helps the Congress of the Lovesick],« Frankfurter Rundschau 1 Feb. 2001: 20.   zurück
»Schlacht um die Oper II: Christoph Schlingensief im Gespräch mit Alexander Kluge: Inwiefern man Opern auf keinen Fall erklären soll [Battle for the Opera II. Christoph Schlingensief in Conversation with Alexander Kluge: In what respect operas should never be explained],« dctp Nachtclub/Mitternachtsmagazin spezial, prod. DCTP, VOX, Cologne, 1 Jun. 2001.   zurück
Most of this verbal exchange was omitted from the written publication, presumably because the full import of this passage can only be understood by listening to it; cf. Alexander Kluge and Christoph Schlingensief, »Schlacht um die Oper: Christoph Schlingensief über den Ersten imaginären Opernführer auf dem Lovepangs-Kongress [Battle for the Opera: Christoph Schlingensief on the First Imaginary Opera Guide at the Lovepangs Congress],« Alexander Kluge: Facts & Fakes: Fernseh-Nachschriften 2–3: Herzblut trifft Kunstblut: Erster imaginärer Opernführer [Alexander Kluge: Facts & Fakes: Television Transcriptions 2–3: Heart Blood Meets Art Blood: First Imaginary Opera Guide], ed. Christian Schulte and Reinald Gußmann (Berlin: Vorwerk 8, 2001) 64–69 [Transcription of News & Stories, prod. DCTP, SAT. 1, Berlin, 1 Jul. 2001], here 66–67. – The title of this issue with its polemical opposition of heart blood/art blood speaks for itself.   zurück
Alexander Kluge, Die Macht der Gefühle: […] Neue Geschichten […] [The Power of Emotion: […] New Stories […]] (Frankfurt am Main: Zweitausendeins, 1984) 176; see fig. 16.

Fig. 16. Film Poster: Die Macht der Gefühle [The Power of Emotion], dir. Alexander Kluge, Ger. 1983:
»›In every opera that is about deliverance a woman is sacrificed in the fifth act…‹
It starts off with infatuation and ends with divorce. It begins in the year 1933 and ends in debris. The great operas begin promising with heightened emotion and in the fifth act we count the dead.«

See also Gertrud Koch, »Alexander Kluges Phantom der Oper [Alexander Kluge’s Phantom of the Opera],« Kritische Theorie und Kultur [Critical Theory and Culture], ed. Rainer Erd et al. (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1989) 95–105; see also the press release for »Imaginärer Opernführer,« News & Stories, prod. DCTP, SAT. 1, Mainz, 10 Aug. 1992, in Kluges Fernsehen, op. cit. 232.   zurück
For an evaluation of the opera guide genre cf. Alexander Kluge in Gloria Behrens et al., »Gespräch mit Alexander Kluge [Conversation with Alexander Kluge],« Filmkritik 20.12 (1976): 562–93 and 598–600, here 573.   zurück
»Schlacht um die Oper,« Alexander Kluge: Facts & Fakes, op. cit. 68; cf. Plutarch, »How to Tell A Flatterer From A Friend [Quomodo adulator ab amico internoscatur],« Plutarch’s Moralia in sixteen volumes, vol. I, trans. Frank Cole Babbit (London: Harvard UP, 1969) 1a-86a, here 59d.   zurück
Ibid. – A political expert says about Kluge: »What a politician; he really knows how to use flattery.« (Günter Gaus, »Der Politiker [The Politician],« Süddeutsche Zeitung 14 Feb. 2002: 15).   zurück
Cf. Plutarch, »Precepts of Statecraft [Praecepta gerendae reipublicae],« Plutarch’s Moralia in sixteen volumes, vol. X, trans. Harold North Fowler (London: William Heinemann; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1969) 771e-854d, for example, 819b/c; and here he does not actually deal with the classical categories of types of friendship (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1155b-56a) but with a kind of instrumental, ethically lower-ranking, »useful« friendship.   zurück
»[T]he admonitions and corrections, which are among the first offices of friendship« (Michel de Montaigne, The Essays I, 28: »Of Friendship,« The Essays of Montaigne, trans. E. J. Trechman, vol. 1 (New York: Oxford UP, 1927) 182–95, here 184); it almost seems as if he would prefer not to discuss this topic here at all; cf. in particular Montaigne, The Essays III, 13: »Of Experience,« The Essays of Montaigne, op. cit. vol. 2, 540–601, here 554–56, and Jean Starobinski, Montaigne in Motion, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (London: U of Chicago P, 1985) 56–66.   zurück
Cf. Cicero, Laelius de amicitia XXIV, 89-XXV, 91 (on such distinctions and constraints see, for example, V, 18). – »The best Preservative to keep the Minde in Health, is the faithfull Admonition of a Frend.« (Bacon, »Of Frendship,« op. cit. 85) – Thus, giving criticism always leads to a crisis in a friendship because it puts at risk one of its traditional prerequisites, namely equality, or symmetry, between friends (according to the analysis by Immanuel Kant, Die Metaphysik der Sitten [The Metaphysics of Morals], § 46; cf. Peter Fenves, »Politics of Friendship – Once Again,« Eighteenth-Century Studies 32.2 (1998/1999): 133–55, here 137–39).   zurück
Schlingensief, »Der Denker,« op. cit.   zurück
Horkheimer and Adorno, op. cit. 96.   zurück
Cf. Röggla, op. cit.   zurück
Christoph Schlingensief, »Erster Teil eines Gesprächs zwischen Alexander Kluge und mir: Kluge in München am Telefon vor laufender Kamera, ich in der Volksbühne am Telefon vor laufender Kamera [First Part of a Conversation Between Alexander Kluge and Me: Kluge on the Phone in Munich Before a Live Camera, I on the Phone in the Volksbühne Theater Before a Live Camera],« Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 1 Nov. 2001: BS 3.   zurück
Christoph Schlingensief and Alexander Kluge, »Kameraden an der Front [Comrades at the Front],« ed. Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz Berlin, ZAS. Zeitung am Sonntag 19 Dec. 2001: 6.   zurück
»Das Halten von Totenschädeln liegt mir nicht!/ Christoph Schlingensief inszeniert Hamlet [I don’t like holding skulls!/ Christoph Schlingensief directs Hamlet],« dir. Alexander Kluge, News & Stories, prod. DCTP, SAT. 1, Berlin, 16 Dec. 2001. – The special design of this film’s closing credits is probably not a coincidence but an intended criticism of Kluge’s way of doing the credits; on closing credit sequences (générique) as a possible paradigmatic aspect of dealing with project- and network-based economy more justly, see Boltanski and Chiapello, op. cit. 382–83.   zurück
Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim to Karl Wilhelm Ramler, 4 Jul. 1762.   zurück
»Die Wüste lebt/ Christoph Schlingensief über die Befreiung des Ausdrucks vom Zwang des Sinns [The Living Desert/ Christoph Schlingensief on the liberation of expression from the obligation of meaning],« dir. Alexander Kluge, Prime Time – Spätausgabe, prod. DCTP, RTL, 13 Jun. 1999.   zurück