He had recently been appointed principal dancer at the local theatre and was enjoying immense popularity with the audiences. I told him I had been surprised to see him more than once at the marionette theatre which had been put up in the market-place to entertain the public with dramatic burlesques interspersed with song and dance. He assured me that the mute gestures of these puppets gave him much satisfaction and told me bluntly that any dancer who wished to perfect his art could learn a lot from them. I inquired about the mechanism of these figures. His answer was that I must not imagine each limb as being individually positioned and moved by the operator in the various phases of the dance.
|Published (Last):||7 July 2007|
|PDF File Size:||19.19 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||8.86 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
He had recently been appointed principal dancer at the local theatre and was enjoying immense popularity with the audiences. I told him I had been surprised to see him more than once at the marionette theatre which had been put up in the market-place to entertain the public with dramatic burlesques interspersed with song and dance. He assured me that the mute gestures of these puppets gave him much satisfaction and told me bluntly that any dancer who wished to perfect his art could learn a lot from them.
I inquired about the mechanism of these figures. His answer was that I must not imagine each limb as being individually positioned and moved by the operator in the various phases of the dance. Each movement, he told me, has its centre of gravity; it is enough to control this within the puppet. The limbs, which are only pendulums, then follow mechanically of their own accord, without further help.
He added that this movement is very simple. When the centre of gravity is moved in a straight line, the limbs describe curves. Often shaken in a purely haphazard way, the puppet falls into a kind of rhythmic movement which resembles dance. This observation seemed to me to throw some light at last on the enjoyment he said he got from the marionette theatre, but I was far from guessing the inferences he would draw from it later.
I asked him if he thought the operator who controls these puppets should himself be a dancer or at least have some idea of beauty in the dance. The line the centre of gravity has to follow is indeed very simple, and in most cases, he believed, straight. When it is curved, the law of its curvature seems to be at the least of the first and at the most of the second order. Even in the latter case the line is only elliptical, a form of movement natural to the human body because of the joints, so this hardly demands any great skill from the operator.
But, seen from another point of view, this line could be something very mysterious. It is nothing other than the path taken by the soul of the dancer. He doubted if this could be found unless the operator can transpose himself into the centre of gravity of the marionette. In other words, the operator dances. I told him I was astonished at the attention he was paying to this vulgar species of an art form.
He smiled. He said he was confident that, if he could get a craftsman to construct a marionette to the specifications he had in mind, he could perform a dance with it which neither he nor any other skilled dancer of his time, not even Madame Vestris herself, could equal. I had never seen anything of this kind. What am I saying The range of their movements is in fact limited, but those they can perform they execute with a certainty and ease and grace which must astound the thoughtful observer.
The craftsman who could make such remarkable limbs could surely build a complete marionette for him, to his specifications. And especially a more natural arrangement of the centres of gravity. First of all a negative one, my friend: it would never be guilty of affectation. For affectation is seen, as you know, when the soul, or moving force, appears at some point other than the centre of gravity of the movement.
Because the operator controls with his wire or thread only this centre, the attached limbs are just what they should be. This is an excellent quality. At this moment her soul appears to be in the small of her back. But Paradise is locked and bolted, and the cherubim stands behind us.
We have to go on and make the journey round the world to see if it is perhaps open somewhere at the back. I could see that he had more to say, so I begged him to go on.
They are not afflicted with the inertia of matter, the property most resistant to dance. The force which raises them into the air is greater than the one which draws them to the ground. What would our good Miss G. Puppets need the ground only to glance against lightly, like elves, and through this momentary check to renew the swing of their limbs.
We humans must have it to rest on, to recover from the effort of the dance. This moment of rest is clearly no part of the dance.
The best we can do is make it as inconspicuous as possible He countered this by saying that, where grace is concerned, it is impossible for man to come anywhere near a puppet. Only a god can equal inanimate matter in this respect. This is the point where the two ends of the circular world meet. I was absolutely astonished.
I told him I was well aware how consciousness can disturb natural grace. A young acquaintance of mine had as it were lost his innocence before my very eyes, and all because of a chance remark. He had never found his way back to that Paradise of innocence, in spite of all conceivable efforts. He was about fifteen, and only faintly could one see the first traces of vanity, a product of the favours shown him by women.
It happened that we had recently seen in Paris the figure of the boy pulling a thorn out of his foot. The cast of the statue is well known; you see it in most German collections.
My friend looked into a tall mirror just as he was lifting his foot to a stool to dry it, and he was reminded of the statue. He smiled and told me of his discovery. I laughed and said he must be imagining things.
He blushed. He lifted his foot a second time, to show me, but the effort was a failure, as anybody could have foreseen. He tried it again a third time, a fourth time, he must have lifted his foot ten times, but it was in vain. He was quite unable to reproduce the same movement. What am I saying? The movements he made were so comical that I was hard put to it not to laugh. From that day, from that very moment, an extraordinary change came over this boy.
He began to spend whole days before the mirror. His attractions slipped away from him, one after the other. An invisible and incomprehensible power seemed to settle like a steel net over the free play of his gestures. A year later nothing remained of the lovely grace which had given pleasure to all who looked at him.
I can tell you of a man, still alive, who was a witness to this strange and unfortunate event. When I was on my way to Russia, I spent some time on the estate of a Baltic nobleman whose sons had a passion for fencing. The elder, in particular, who had just come down from the university, thought he was a bit of an expert. One morning, when I was in his room, he offered me a rapier. I accepted his challenge but, as it turned out, I had the better of him. It made him angry, and this increased his confusion.
Nearly every thrust I made found its mark. At last his rapier flew into the corner of the room. As he picked it up he said, half in anger and half in jest, that he had met his master but that there is a master for everyone and everything - and now he proposed to lead me to mine.
The brothers laughed loudly at this and shouted: "Come on, down to the shed! He looked me straight in the eye. This was his fighting posture. They urged me to attack. As I had now recovered somewhat from my astonishment I fell on him with my rapier.
The bear made a slight movement with his paw and parried my thrust. I feinted, to deceive him. The bear did not move. I attacked again, this time with all the skill I could muster. I know I would certainly have thrust my way through to a human breast, but the bear made a slight movement with his paw and parried my thrust. Thrusts and feints followed thick and fast, the sweat poured off me, but in vain. No human fencer could equal his perception in this respect.
He stood upright, his paw raised ready for battle, his eye fixed on mine as if he could read my soul there, and when my thrusts were not meant seriously he did not move. Do you believe this story? We see that in the organic world, as thought grows dimmer and weaker, grace emerges more brilliantly and decisively. But just as a section drawn through two lines suddenly reappears on the other side after passing through infinity, or as the image in a concave mirror turns up again right in front of us after dwindling into the distance, so grace itself returns when knowledge has as it were gone through an infinity.
Grace appears most purely in that human form which either has no consciousness or an infinite consciousness. That is, in the puppet or in the god.
He Wrote several plays - mainly tragedies - and numerous short stories, including "The Dark Tale of Michael Kohlhaas". The calm statement of this work suggests a man firmly in control. A year later Kleist shot himself. He was thirty-four.
On the centenary of his death, the critics agreed he was a hundred years ahead of his time. I think therefore I am.
On a Theatre of Marionettes
Despairing of reason, he decided to place his trust in emotion. The unresolved conflict between them lies at the heart of his work. After Kleist had abandoned his studies, he went first to Paris and then to Switzerland. At this time he was also working on the play Robert Guiskard, an ambitious work in which he attempted to unite ancient Sophoclean tragedy and the Shakespearean drama of character, but it would remain a fragment. He set out on a new journey and in Paris, overcome by despair, burned his manuscript of Guiskard though he partially rewrote it later and tried to volunteer for the French army. He resigned during training, however, and left for Dresden , where he hoped to continue writing, but was arrested by the French and imprisoned for six months as a spy.
Über das Marionettentheater
After a scanty education, he entered the Prussian Army in , served in the Rhine campaign of , and retired from the service in with the rank of lieutenant. He studied law and philosophy at the Viadrina University and in received a subordinate post in the Ministry of Finance at Berlin. On a journey to Dresden in , Kleist was arrested by the French as a spy; he remained a close prisoner of France in the Fort de Joux. Captivated by the intellectual and musical accomplishments of the terminally ill Henriette Vogel de , Kleist, who was himself more disheartened and embittered than ever, agreed to do her bidding and die with her, carrying out this resolution by first shooting Vogel and then himself on the shore of the Kleiner Wannsee Little Wannsee near Potsdam , on 21 November He was by far the most important North German dramatist of the Romantic movement , and no other of the Romanticists approaches him in the energy with which he expresses patriotic indignation. They shared a fondness for music, and according to Ernest Peguilhen, Henriette Vogel asked her friend to explain to her the art of war, as well as to teach her fencing , for the dramatist had been a soldier. The relationship between the two became more intimate in the autumn of