Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bertolt Brecht's "Interrogation of the Good"

This poem was quoted in Zizek's Violence; being 'good' has never been more complicated, not least in a world where capitalism may be the very cause of the global problems (e.g. famine, bombings, poverty, etc.) its most celebrated players pledge to resolve.

To this dangerous paradox, Brecht seeks to give (paradoxical) voice. It's good (of course) that we read him thoughtfully:
Step forward: we hear
That you are a good man.
You cannot be bought, but the lightning
Which strikes the house, also
Cannot be bought.
You hold to what you said.
But what did you say?
You are honest, you say your opinion.
Which opinion?
You are brave.
Against whom?
You are wise.
For whom?
You do not consider your personal advantages.
Whose advantages do you consider then?
You are a good friend.
Are you also a good friend of the good people?
Hear us then: we know.
You are our enemy. This is why we shall
Now put you in front of a wall. But in consideration
of your merits and good qualities
We shall put you in front of a good wall and shoot you
With a good bullet from a good gun and bury you
With a good shovel in the good earth.

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