Why does black culture demonize the cold?

Gisela Lindemann: Hubert Fichte, you have read an unpublished novel with the opposite title to the term “novel” Research paper, and this research report is part, part 15, of a large novel project that you have been working on for a very long time. There is a draft of 19 volumes. It lies here in front of us in the form of an approximately 1.70 m long strip of paper. Would you explain this giant design?

Hubert Fichte: Since my first novel The orphanage I work with pieces of paper that I nail to the wall. I had a lot of bad luck with this nail egg. I was sued out of the apartment in 1967. The homeowner won the lawsuit and lost the house because during that long process he went broke and a new owner moved in. There was supposed to be a second lawsuit about my nails in the wall, but in the meantime the new owner got used to us and I was allowed to continue nailing. Every 5 or 6 years he comes up and says maybe it would be better if I put felt or some insulation material on, but then I nail a little more quietly and so far it has been fine.

I live from the fact that I am a kind of reporter at the large for development issues, for third world politics, and I have to finance this novel through my journalistic work, save myself the time and always be able to work on it on all my research trips and my reportage trips. So when I have attached my index cards to the wall for several months, I make a portable plan for the next trip. This plan that lies ahead of us has now accompanied me for two months in Africa so that I do not lose the context from which I work.

L .: So it is so that this great novel project with the other works that come out as the results of your travels, with your reports, reports, with books like Xango and parsley has nothing to do with it. Is that correct? Or: is that even possible?

Q .: No. This reportage work, this interest in the Third World, in particular in the Afro-American world, grew out of my novels, in particular from Detlev's imitations "Grünspan" peeled out. In "Verdigris" there is the big opening situation, the description of the “Sahara” bar on Sankt Pauli, where black people from all over the world came together and danced. With the experience of the “Sahara”, with the description of the “Sahara”, I developed the need to be more precisely oriented about the African American world, the African world. In the chapter I allude to rites in Haiti that I did not know, that I only knew from descriptions by Haitians in the “Sahara”. And my trip to Haiti, which has now been in Haiti for several years, was due to the fact that I was able to check this description of Eddy in the “Sahara”. All of my publications on African American culture and African psychiatry, which will continue to occupy me for the next few years, are preliminary studies for this great novel. These preliminary studies, in turn, developed from my first novels, from my first works.

L .: So you can't say that one is earning a living and the other is actually poetic or poetic work?

Q .: I even believe or I wish that a reader has followed through on the ethnographic, ethnological, psychological preparatory work that I do and publish in the preparatory studies before starting reading this great novel.

L .: A draft for 19 volumes. Perhaps you can explain it a bit?

Q .: It's above The story of sensitivity. For many years, I've been working on the project for five years now, the whole thing should The story of tenderness be called. In such a large language complex, one may not be able to do without synthetic terms and words that are heavily burdened by sentiment. Why should one no longer be allowed to utter a term that is wrongly or rightly so burdened as “tenderness”? Nevertheless, I now have myself for the misunderstanding The story of sensitivity decided. I would rather it The story of sensitivity but the term “sensitivity” in German is so burdened with unnecessary sensitivity, sentimentality, etc. that I can use the somewhat imprecise “sensitivity”, History of Sensitivity want to leave.

L .: And what is meant by “sensitivity”? I think it's about a core area, not actually culture, but rather, let's say the dangerous word, emotional culture.

Q: It's about what Henry James Private history calls, as opposed to History, History in general, and contrary to what he was Public history is called. This private historicity, private development is called here, for short, sexuality. The History of Sensitivity is supposed to depict the sexual development of a man who is painfully hammered to pieces by sexuality. It is intended to depict the history of homosexuality since 1900 based on the private individual development of a man. I don't really want to go into the time of this novel, it's a bit complicated, and it would certainly take us too long to do so. I would like to explain the specific points more. The closer period will deal with the years 1954 to 1988. Homosexual history of the world and the main character Jacki.

L .: How did 1988 come about?

Q: I started a research project in New York in 1978. This project aims to deal - and already deals - with African American culture in this megapolis. The last novel of the History of Sensitivity calledThe black city and with large blocks of words, of poems, if you will, I want to try to depict what actually defines the existence of blacks in this city. I've already written long chapters. I want to represent, through words, through associations, in one chapter New York 1978, in the following Africa, an African country, an African situation, 1978 and progressively for 10 years. And through this change from Africa to New York I really want to make it clear in the word material how the world is for a black in this one Black city New York shows how this world can be experienced or how we can understand it.

L: Are they comparable, Africa and New York?

Q .: They are interdependent. New York is a city that is often only negated, but definitely influenced by blacks, and I do not believe that we Afro-Americans can understand and even less understand African-Americans and also Africans, Nigerians today, Togolese today, Ethiopians in New York today can understand poetically if we don't try to include African reality in this portrayal of New York.

L .: At this point it becomes clear in what way your books from the last few years are preparatory work or preliminary studies for this large project. 19 volumes: You have already worked on some of them bit by bit, some have already been written in full. How do you imagine the project in its time dimension? One might think that the first volume will now appear in two years and the next in two years and so on, until the scheme is over at some point. Or what will it look like?

Q: At the moment I'm struggling to find an ideal working method. I will definitely not publish a novel from this story or have it printed until very large parts, if the whole is not finished. I hope I can hold out. Because I don't want to be determined by the public, critics, publishers, publishers' editors after my first or my third or my fifteenth novel to rework other parts. I want to keep this whole out of the pressure discussion. My ideal idea is to have written the whole thing through once and then maybe start publishing the first, second, third volume, then take another four or five year break, publish the next three and so until the end. I hope I don't have to start publishing this 10 years ago. But there is a problem. This fifteenth book, the research report, has for me a strongly programmatic character in the current literary situation in the Federal Republic of Germany.

L .: In what way?

Q .: It's about feet. They are workers' feet. A colleague of mine said the other day that it is not enough to worry about the nutritional situation of workers. That may be so. When I read that on the plane, it suddenly occurred to me: yes, what have you been doing for the last 20 years? I've been looking at the nutritional situation of workers for the past 20 years and I really don't want to leave it. That's one thing about the program. The other thing about the program is that I very stubbornly stenograph the daily routine of two ethnologists.

L .: That would be a description of the content?

Q .: No, that also works in the form. The poetic bet of this novel is yes: can I do a little research - that's why Research paper - now analyze it in such a way that it becomes something poetic without my arranging, looking for correspondences, using metaphors and the like. And to that extent this novel has something very programmatic for me, also for the whole thing; and with the reading on the radio I was looking for an intermediate form of making it known without now having to suffer the full penalties of the published print product.

L .: Are the criticisms punished? Or what?

Q .: Not the reviews; the reviews of certain stock market agents. Certain gentlemen and women do not punish you for your literary incapacity, but you are punished in your everyday existence and should be punished in this existence. You see, if a very influential critic falsely claims that an essay of mine that he did not like is in my new book, and that claim is not in a criticism of this new book, but in a subordinate clause, while the representatives with I'm on the way with my new book, then it shouldn't damage my literary reputation, but my everyday existence. That's calculated, this man knows what he's doing. He knows what he's doing when he lies lyingly saying that this essay, which sucks, is in Fichte's new book, where it is not. And I want to avoid these things, these consequences, by not delivering a print product at the moment.

L .: I must now ask the question of the existence of the free writer in general, provided that the word free can still be used at all. You then do so entirely at your own risk. The longer you hold back with the publication of the first volume from this overall project, the greater the risk and the more expensive the whole thing will be. And you have to wear it.

Q .: Of course I have to wear that. I have to bear it to such an extent, since especially the left-wing colleagues from their secured armchairs hardly do anything to support such a project or to support my research projects. One is getting more and more used in the institutes to cheat freelance writers, even if it is with fees. I could give many examples, I actually don't want that at the moment so as not to harm myself even more. But you get used to damaging the free writer, who walks around like a crocodile in the big city, even financially with fake repetition fees and the like.

L .: How are you going to cope financially with this project; how is it possible that you can cope with it? Because if you say: I don't want to publish a single one of these volumes in the next 10 years, if at all possible, although some are ready and some only have to be copied and some are available in parts - you have to live and you have to also live in such a way that you can work on such a project with this intensity and not only work on this project, but also continue researching and reporting on it while you go on your long journeys.

Q .: That looks like a three-pronged approach to me. Perhaps I have exaggerated a little insofar as, on the other hand, there are some personalities in the institutes, in the universities, in foundations and above all in the broadcasting companies who have supported me again and again from the beginning of my literary existence and, perhaps, because they appreciate my work, have made my life and work possible for me. That must also be said here.

How does that work in practice? I am now going to South America on a research trip that will last a year. I would like to work once more precisely and conclusively on the geographical distribution of African American culture in the continent.

I would like to be able to describe some rites more precisely and to document sociological details, especially of child rearing, youth sexuality and juvenile delinquency. So I'll get up sometime in the morning and then work on the novel for a few hours: making sketches for chapters, doing research for chapters, and then lunch. Then a short nap, and then from two or three o'clock I go into field research: I will drive the whole afternoon into the night, and if it is a matter of ceremonies, the night through field research, then somehow record these things in between diary-like fix it on index cards and this will be my life.

At some point in between I have to put in what I work for scientific newspapers or for radio stations. This is a work discipline that is fixed to the quarter of an hour and has been fixed to the quarter of an hour for 10 years. I can't really remember going to bed before two or three o'clock in the last few years, and in the last few years I've had to get into the habit of getting up and working at around 9 a.m., which is very difficult for me falls. - One more word on the criticism, on the economically targeted boycott. It's not just about a critic, and an influential critic at booksellers, at the Börsenverein, finding an essay bad. The ideological, the conscious or unconscious ideological strangulation of certain writers makes use of other means. It makes use of the wrong quotation, a positive review of a book that can no longer be avoided is given a negative title, quotation marks are incorrectly set and the like.

L .: What do you think is the aim of this boycott?

Q: I still believe that it is difficult to accept a gay writer who does not ask for forgiveness, who does not belittle or demonize his descriptions.

L .: Is that the only reason or is it not your attempt to show many other connections to this problem? You said yes, you mentioned this great novel project The story of sensitivity. That is obviously a draft that is directed against the established patterns of violence. Anyone would be able to accept that nominally.

But how it's done is the question. It is done subversively after all. And that has always been a point in literature, we certainly agree that dead poets are always more famous than living poets and that the famous dead poets during their lifetime were always the subversive ones. The living have a particularly difficult time with it.

Q .: You are referring to Dutschke's sentence "Xango is a subversive book."

L .: For example.

Q .: Certainly. Above all, the direction of my description. These are questions that are almost never asked in the Federal Republic of Germany. You have probably observed that in the last election the two crucial questions were not asked in the two most important interviews with the Federal Chancellor. The two most important questions for the federal election were the following: How will we be able to cover the constantly growing energy consumption for our electric toothbrushes with our laziness, sloppiness and narrow-mindedness. The question is neither in Chancellor Schmidt mirror still in the time been asked. The second question is, how do you explain the fact that the citizens of this country find this country so sucking up, so unbearably ugly that each of us thinks of leaving it every free minute.

The subversive of my descriptions from the Third World is based on their homosexual component, on the African component: I praise blacks as beautiful, I perceived black as beautiful long before it became a slogan. And I suggest that the African American solutions in the Third World are more effective and successful than ours.

The homosexual is in a very similar situation to the negro. The moment the negro lets himself be belittled or demonized or asks for forgiveness, he is accepted. Especially if it can be commercialized. Just as famous publishers now publish a series of homosexual paperbacks, at the last book fair they tried to use an African or African book glut that should be reflected in the account book. Which was pathetic enough, but nonetheless led the attentive Africans to a global protest reaction.

L .: Hubert Fichte, a draft of 19 volumes of novels, a long strip of paper, as we said at the beginning: where is it going? I am interested in the vanishing point of this broad design. You sometimes speak of a system. In one of the chapters of the novel you read here, Research paper, says the writer Jacki once, when he learns a new language, as is currently the case with Greek, he has to dip his entire system into the other language. This sentence shows something. It shows how you work and how you want to live and how work and life should actually be one and the same; and such a system must of course have a vanishing point.

Q .: I would like to avoid the buzzword utopia. Still, I don't think that's possible at the moment. I was talking about homosexuality. Indeed, the history of sensitivity will seek to document homosexual behavior. The vanishing point from which one does not flee, but towards which one flees - or, better said: the perspective - is quite safe, and that goes without saying: out of the closet.

But we cannot be restricted to this. I think it's about stopping discrimination, neither like that nor like that. Even homosexuals must not, like the negro now, lapse into a new racism in their reaction to racism. Nothing at all is done with homosexuals now being recognized as homosexuals. With that the world, the normal world, affords a new ghetto, and in a very twisted, bad way the homosexual accepts a new ghetto again. When Rosa von Praunheim accuses me - which he did - of betraying the gay cause by living with a woman, we accept, in an almost National Socialist way, the ghetto into which we were pushed. I think the perspective can only be that of bisexuality, to put it bluntly.

L .: So an androgynous culture.

Q: Yes. The perspective must be: everyone is what he is, without any sexual specification. If I have to respect a woman because she is a woman, I'm just doing the same thing under different auspices.

So here you see, in this first column of the plan, where the issues are outlined, bisexuality first, and then homosexuality. One of the themes of the whole will certainly be: the development of a écrivain engagé, the reflection of a young man in an ivory tower: don't I have to get out of here? Do I not have to acquire Sartre's considerations and the considerations of May 1968 and act on them? For Jäcki and others, that meant going to Chile and studying the Chilean attempt at a democratic form of socialism in South America very carefully. And these experiences, the private, the intimate experiences, the sensitive experiences of Jacki during this time will be the subject of the seventh novel, the The first big trip called.

Another theme runs through the entire roman fleuve. It's called: poetry and anthropology. Are there really points of contact and how can they be realized? There is the world of words and the world of images. Irma, the other main character, is a photographer, and there is a very strange, very murderous argument between the writer and the photographer. Who will get the upper hand? Is the photographer now being bullied by the essayist in all aspects of her life and in her profession, or will the fight end in favor of the photographer, will she flood him with pictures in such a way that he loses his own artistic impetus?

L: As you have just described, I have the novel research paper yes, now heard and read, it looks like there is only an aggressive alternative. It's not what you said in the novel, I mean. Not in the sense of sometimes one is on top, sometimes the other, and the question is who wins. While reading and listening, the question never occurred to me whether someone had to win or not. I am amazed that you should say that now. Or is it still such a relentless fight?

Q .: The fight will definitely remain relentless. As is well known, in the unconscious we do not consist of well-meaning reactions, but of criminal ones. You address the problem of grace and elegance. I think the chance of poetry and the poetry of such a gigantic work can be grace. And transforming the murderous into grace, that's what artistry is all about.

L .: You have waited a long time for the word “transform”. I was very curious to see what word would come up. I think it's good with transforming, especially because you don't even know where to go. The word "reconcile" or the word "harmonize" or anything like that would not have gone. Apparently a third comes out. Isn't that possible in life at all?

Q .: That’s the bet of it all, if you will. It is described how a somewhat older woman lives with a homosexual, and how do they both live their professional and aesthetic impetus. Is it possible or not? The question will be asked anew in each phase, and that cannot be decided one way or another from the start. That’s, if you will, what’s utopian about it: is something like that even possible, can a man and a woman live together?

Something else will be demonstrated. I would like these new forms that I developed while working for the radio, i.e. a somewhat expanded form of the interview, the feature, as I got to know in 1946 at the NWDR, i.e. the post-war feature, which was very much influenced by American journalism, the diary , the essay, i.e. the commentary, the presentation, the intellectualistic language and the type of novels that Jacki has written - I would like to develop all of these again in the novel itself. So it is z. B. describes how Jacki does his first interview in the second novel The school of contempt or the school of respect. He will interview Robbe-Grillet, and that is his first - not particularly successful - interview, from which the others, the political interviews, the ethnological interviews, etc. will develop.

L .: The novel is currently called The school of contempt; I read underneath The school of respect; are these alternative titles or should they both come?

Q .: No, they are both coming. It will be described how Jacki moves to Greece for the first time to write a radio feature. And glosses begin in the fifth book, glosses that alternate with other forms of the novel.

L .: Diary-like intermediate volumes, can you say that?

Q .: Yes, one could say that; and it says “The stupid time of the diary”; What is meant is a time that has not been reflected on, a time that has not been transformed into the novel, but rather the stupid “I ate cabbage yesterday, today Dr. Lindemann spoken ”. In other words, a time that overwhelms the author without reflection. And the whole contempt of Jacki for the diary will be presented, and ways will be sought how he can overcome the stupid times of the diary, and I hope - that has not yet happened, the diaries are available, but I hope just - one To be able to work out the type of diary that has been commented on, of the diary that has been transformed, of the diary that has become questionable.

L .: That is a linguistic work in the main, this transformation?

Q: I don't know. It could also be that I take the whole thing into a kind of objective description and keep telling Jacki how he reads his own diaries, which he is now trying to transform. But I don't know yet. I think it will not only be a poetic task, it will also be a substantive one.

L .: Which in the end is related to each other.

Q .: And merge into one another.

L .: There are a number of passages in the Research paper, where surrealistic elements reappear in a transformed form. I could imagine that these possibilities could be made fruitful especially for the glossy volumes.

Q: I don't know. At the moment it is before the first novel Hotel Garni; Here in the plan is indicated “versus”, that is, the reversal of the furrow: For poetic forms, the idea of ​​the farmer who draws a furrow and then pulls it back again has been expressed in the idea of ​​the versus. The theme is: a homosexual sleeps with a woman. It is perhaps my most classic composition, my strictest composition. A man goes into the hotel room of a woman he is friends with, she asks him how a certain section of his life has developed, and he tells her how it has developed. They sleep together and then the man asks what's going on in a woman. The woman tells her life. And that's the end of this novel.

The second novel The school of contempt or the school of respect is written; it will be a very long novel. As a compositional principle I had resolved that all of these novels should not be longer than a good English detective novel, i.e. about 180 to 240 pages, to read in one evening. The reading process is then again an artistically constitutive one, and these works must remain clear in a single reading process. This is broken here; it will be a very long novel and I will have to rewrite it from scratch. I had thought that in this novel I would carry out the description of a novel in its entirety, on about four hundred pages. I believe, however, that the subject of the book is still so important and untreated, namely prostitution and homosexual prostitution, that I must not belittle the quasi ethnological relevance with special artistic undertakings. I think it will be a book of as violent a book as Attempt through puberty, Which is always mentioned at the moment as an example, one of the few examples of the description of puberty and homosexual puberty.

The third novel A happy love is a very short novel, about 180 pages long. It is written.

The fourth novel will attempt to solve very difficult time problems. A continuous narrative will be attempted Gossip, interrupted again and again by interviews of the people who also appear in the narrative, so that there is a constant back and forth in terms of time: what was already anticipated in the interviews has not yet occurred in the narration.

In the fifth novel the glosses begin: Old world. So it's about Athens, Heraklion, Rome and the Egyptian Museum. This novel will provide the basis for everything else that will happen then, and the oldest world may then be Africa for the first time, namely the place of the hanged, Marrakech. A large field of words, spreading in all directions like an octopus, Marrakech, Djemma el Fna, 1970; going back to other experiences of this partly Stone Age culture, a culture where one always has the feeling that Antigone is walking here with the blind Oedipus; then anticipating emancipation in the Arab world, the penetration of the birth control pill, mass tourism and the like. Then, as in my biography, and I will not go into the further time problems here, descriptions of the great trip, Brazil, Haiti, Trinidad, Miami, but now not as a means of transporting ethnological facts, but rather as a report on what is going on in the two people who undertake these journeys happens, i.e. about everything that is left out or largely left out in my ethnological preliminary studies. I would actually like to reduce the giant novel, the giant field, the whole continent that Brazil represents, to two people, namely to Pierre Verger, a 60-year-old French researcher from a rich family who has shed his wealth and only lives on eggs, to study the Afro-American religions in Bahia, and a young fan, Jäcki, who invades this world with all sorts of social reform ideas, on the discussion between the two and the breakup of friendship between these two people who have fled Europe and who are settled in the discomfort of culture. A very brief description, I hope. So it will be described how engagement, like the Third World, penetrate the Federal Republican reality, into the Federal Republican consciousness, how the Federal Republicans react to it, how such research can be implemented in the media (you can see here in the plan Spiegel, Stern, Neue Revue, Quick), and it will be in the Research paper, portrayed the breakdown of all these projects in this 15th novel that I have read here.

L: Perhaps you can explain this collapse after all.

Q .: I don't really want that, because it is also the subject of discussion in this novel.

Then, however, should be in the project Central Station time stand still. It is one of the final books of the whole company, and now the private stories of the main characters are to be extracted and summarized again in the form of interviews or fictional interviews.

A short novel follows The runny nose. He will describe how old people in West Germany are plagued by a sinusitis epidemic and how phone calls are made about sinus dilations and pelvic complications, hair loss, speed handkerchiefs and Jacki's refusal to write an article about Nicaragua. About the novel The story of the J I don't want to comment. With that the whole time collapses, and the last big, very poetic, lyrical book then follows The black city: New York and the New York that Africa could create.

Perhaps one should say something more about the basic idea. Here is under the title The story of sensitivity: "It's very simple: I always wanted to be black, Jacki fails, Irma goes black." And Irma actually goes black when she, the photographer in New York, exhibits in a book hall in Harlem, her pictures from these 20 years, about which the novel is ostensibly about, can now show her work to the people from whom she got them . And so voodoo priests stop in front of the pictures, do little voodoo spells because they are afraid when Black Panthers, European intellectuals, look at their pictures. And suddenly Jacki sees, and it is very painful for him, that Irma has achieved something with the help of the pictures that he has always dreamed of. He wanted to be loved by Africans, he wanted them to read his books and be enthusiastic about them. And he sees that this is almost impossible for a writer, due to language problems too, and that a photographer can achieve that with pictures. I have also given the main characters here in the plan, i.e. Jäcki, Irma, Wolli, Peter, Michael, I am not hiding the rest. Important points will be: Chile, the Allende experiments, the Grenada revolution and the Nicaragua revolution. And finally, to indicate this now, the time, the epoch, which encompasses the whole, counts from the birth of the grandparents. In this novel The story of the J, the last one before the Black city the whole thing starts all over again with the birth of Jacki's grandfather in 1875, Jacki's grandmother in 1876. The next important date is the mother's date of birth in 1904, finally lrmas 1919, Jackis 1935, and in the Black city Little Danielle, the daughter of Jacki's Afro-American friend in New York, comes in as a character in 1978, and with Danielle, who, as a six-year-old, lives up to the year 2000, we have a period that goes from 1875 to around the year 2000.

* conducted in spring 1981 on the occasion of the reading of the novel research paper on North German Broadcasting

From: Language in the Technical Age, No. 104, Volume 25, December 1987, pp. 308–319.

Gisela Lindemann was a German literary scholar, critic and radio editor. She gave Hubert Fichtes for the first time in the 1980s History of sensitivity out.