The World is Not Bad, but Full

The World is Not Bad, but Full

Conversation with Heiner Müller


Heiner Müller
Heiner Müller
21 Nov 1994
Ten to Eleven


The central topic of the interview is the ancient concept of a necessary balance between the dead and the living, which also assumes the notion of a constant potential for force in the world. Müller and Kluge examine this mythical conception of life with reference to personal, historical, and political examples like the father-daughter relationship (Agamemnon and/or Müller himself), East Germans' hopes of finding a place in capitalism, or violence in the middle ages and in the modern period.

Müller then reports on a visit by Ryszard Kapuscinski to the Berliner Ensemble. The text he read there dealt with the fact that the thick fog caused by the frost in Siberia retains the contours of the people who have walked through it for a while. Kapuscinski gathers his information ("the best texts about Central Asia") by traveling through Russia as if in a "web," a living, informational network of relationships. According to Müller, a version of the mythical balance between the dead and the living holds for Russia as well: The Russian soil is considered holy because of the dead who lie in it. Russian identity is nourished by defensive wars.

In wars of conquest such as the crusades, by contrast, force becomes dispersed in space and weakens. Reality is essentially neither matter nor energy, but rather, as in the theory of the strong interaction, "topography": It is places that are real. Assuming that "everyone has his or her place," who, Müller asks, is "everyone?" If Imoneo is destined to die, but is rescued, then, according to Müller, he "owes the world a dead person." These reflections on the reality of places and time-places lead to a designation of the writer as a "surveyor."