Bernays Lecture 2014
Notes from Underground: On Marx & Belatedness in Alexander Kluge
A lecture by Professor Thomas Elsaesser, Amsterdam
In 2008 the German filmmaker and writer Alexander Kluge published a nine-hour DVD production, entitled News from our ideological antiquity: Marx/Eisenstein/Das Kapital, ostensibly a re-enactment of Eisenstein’s failed attempt of filming “Das Kapital”. For Kluge Eisenstein’s impossibility became a meditation on the possibility of rescuing the core of Marxism for the 21st century.
Anticipating the financial crisis and the general sense that the neo-liberal economic project as well as ‘the end of history’ paradigm had come to an end, Kluge interprets his own belatedness both in relation to Eisenstein and to Marx as an opportunity for a new beginning, where history does not signify the past, but – like antiquity for the renaissance – the inexhaustible repository of unfulfilled potential for reinventing oneself.
The Bernays lecture is the annual German Department public lecture, and is supported by the Centre for Modern Literature and Culture.
Thomas Elsaesser is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Media and Culture of the University of Amsterdam and since 2013 Visiting Professor at Columbia University. He has authored, edited and co-edited some 20 volumes on Early Cinema, Film Theory, German and European cinema, Hollywood, New Media and Installation Art. Among his recent books as author are: Film Theory: An Introduction through the Senses (New York: Routledge, 2010, with Malte Hagener), The Persistence of Hollywood (New York: Routledge, 2012) and German Cinema - Terror and Trauma: Cultural Memory Since 1945 (New York: Routledge, 2013).