Hans Richter’s G (1924)

 

Translated from the German by Stephen Bann.

From The Tradition of Constructivism.

(Da Capo Press.  New York, NY: 1974).

• • •

G, the “periodical for elemental formation,” owes its existence to an overall optimism about the means and possibilities of our time.  This [94] optimism consists before all else in the following: in still having the wish to diagnose the possibility of a culture in the unholy chaos of our age, in the fundamental disintegration in which we find ourselves, with both excess and deficiency of civilization.

We take our stand less on whatever brilliant individual achievements there may be than on the established fact that such achievements came about as evidence of a unitary vital instinct.

• • •

It is no accident

That questions like the industrialization of production, the normalization of the production process, the standardization of production problems, and hence generalization to the point of general validity, are dominant in every sector of life.

• • •

It is no accident

That exact scientific methods exist for all sectors of life.

 

The more consistently a sector develops today, the clearer this tendency becomes, the clearer the coherence of the vital process.  Even a superficial comparison with the last generation’s understanding and methods of life shows how fundamental is the difference between the one world and the other, as regards the direction of the development that this one has entered upon and the other pursued previously.  (Whether this direction will be pursued, and a culture genuinely will arise in which all human energies take a place proportionate to their functions, we can only answer in the affirmative if we are optimists.  For the spirit of the Middle Ages, the urge toward self-destruction, indolence, obscurantism, and all the organic peculiarities of the human-animal nature are fighting for it to remain as it was “in the olden days.”)

But indubitably it appears to us that a society that is not striving toward attaining a culture, that is, a balance of its energies, must perish through an undirected and immoderate growth of these energies, and through this alone.  But there is no point in trying to solve the problem in terms of any allegedly decisive single area; in today’s terms, within the province of politics and economics.  Admittedly these are important.  But if people are not clear from the very beginning, that man — as an indivisible unity of qualities — only bestirs [95] himself if this unity bestirs itself, that is, all the qualities, and moreover in their organic totality, that all areas can only be fruitful TOGETHER and never separately, or at the expense of others — if that is not already a vital constituent of our consciousness, we will always be forced to take our stand upon the Middle ages, on dogma.   A CULTURE is not a special province of science or art or any other area, and it is not the province of philanthropists or altruists either, but

THE WHOLE PROBLEM OF EXISTENCE

(if this allusion is still considered to be in any way necessary after 1914).

These speculations are addressed to a specific type of human being who still exists today, one who is not interested in prejudice, sentimental limitation, and a medieval sense of life, one who is not under the impression that by the dilettantism of compromise it is possible to solve the ever more redoubtable problems of the age, which have become the inseparable accompaniment of elementarist thought and practice, one who does not accept the chaos in contemporary economics, politics, science, art, and so on, the chaos of, in themselves highly developed forces, the chaos in a merely civilized way of life, and one for whom these questions are not merely a matter of abstract definition but of genuine practical significance.

In this sense, G is a specialized organ, but one that gathers material that is indeed not specialized but universal for requirements which are both of the time and outside it.  How great this need is depends on the extent to which it already appears necessary in all fields, to set out general not merely specialized guidelines.  The fact that such men, such interests, and such standards exist will justify the existence of the magazine.

Whom does G interest?

1.  The reader who is interested in the free play of vital energies both in relation to a totality and as a phenomenon in itself.

2.  The scholar, physicist, or engineer who does not confine himself to a schema or dogma appropriate to his calling and would like to examine just as much the questions posed by his specialization, such as: the effect that his activity might have outside its particular subject.

[96]

3.  The artist who seeks above and beyond his individual problem what is valid on a general level, what is universal: the lever he can apply to individual sensibility — in order to endow this source of richness and his own activity with meaning.

4.  The economist, merchant, organizer, or politician who expects it to be useful to him to know “in what direction things are moving” or himself to “be moving,” who thinks that he can decipher these vital forces from a composite view of the whole situation.  Who sees in “quality production” the ultimately decisive factor.

5.  The manufacturing groups who wish to judge more precisely which products among a thousand, equally assertive ones should attract their attention — and for what reasons.

6.  The contemporary who gets interest and pleasure from the development of the great body (humanity) to which he belongs, who does not suffer from inhibitions where life is concerned, and who is already equipped with all the modem instinctual apparatus for receiving and transmitting that secures his close contact with life.

Who is collaborating on G?

All for whom these are matters of necessity, who find utility and pleasure in having something to express in a definite way, are unequivocally able to think in elementarist terms and…to create form.

[From G (Berlin), No.  3, June 1924]

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~ by Ross Wolfe on October 20, 2010.

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