I Would Rather Be Goliath: Homage to Chaplin

My first memory of Chaplin is the memory of an irritation. What attracted me was the terror of his cold gloating malice at the roller-skating rink or on the assembly line, but I was disgusted by the obscenity in his humor inspired by his fear of the hostile giant. I did not like this an didn’t like the fact that I didn’t like it. If the price of survival was this much wriggling self-exposure, I would rather, against my better judgement, be Goliath. I didn’t know then, but already foresaw that one cannot remain an Indian if one wants to do something with art. We all shoot from the hip, and in art doing something means doing away with something, beginning with oneself. The famous duck waddle was a walk to the beat of the iron hammer, the bread dance a dance on volcanic ground. When Chaplin discovered brotherhood because the earth split open, it was at the expense of his art. His brotherhood was cripple from the strain of being good in a bad world. “Because all consolation is bleak.” His was the utopia of Dickens. Paradise lies beyond the “earthquakes yet to come.” What we will retain from Chaplin is not the good person, but the evil Angel.

Heiner Müller, 1978

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