Saturday, 11 December 2010
Benjamin on Brecht
In one of his didactic poems on dramatic art Brecht says: "The effect of every sentence was waited for and laid bare. And the waiting lasted until the crowd had carefully weighed our sentence." In short, the play was interrupted. One can go even further and remember that interruption is one of the fundamental devices of all structuring. It goes far beyond the sphere of art. To give only one example, it is the basis of quotation. To quote a text involves the interruption of its context. [ital. evb] It is therefore understandable that the epic theater, being based on interruption, is, in a specific sense, a quotable one. There is nothing special about the quotability of its texts. It is different with the gestures which fit into the course of the play. "Making gestures quotable" is one of the substantial achievements of the epic theater.
(Walter Benjamin: What Is Epic Theater?, p. 151 in Illuminations)