KARL KARNER | BRUTBLADD: _the horse eats with me

19 October - 20 November 2021

Broodleaf: [bot. Bryophyllum], also called Goethe's plant; forms brood buds on leaf margins.

 

Sometimes nature breaks into our lives as a catastrophe, a tidal wave, a forest fire. Sometimes it happens more quietly and it sneaks into the apartment as an ant on a badly shaken out picnic blanket. But always they are strange encounters, sometimes they are brutal, sometimes irritating, sometimes funny. What happens in these encounters? Do two irreconcilable opposites meet here - man vs. nature? Or do they form together something mysterious third? An ant trail in a Meissen porcelain sugar cup. A pink poodle in a barber shop. A brood leaf growing from a mixture of humus, aspirin and cleaning sponge.

 

Where man begins, the natural ceases. It does not stop being: nature is unmistakably there, with all its power, beauty and destructiveness. We have a body, a digestion, a sexuality - all this is undeniably natural. Only it is no longer natural to us. Our nature is a mystery to us. Man comes into the world with vestigial drives that pull him in no clear direction. What is he to do with his long limbs? Swing through the trees like a monkey? Take to the skies? Kafka writes in his dia-ry, ‘How distant to me are the muscles of the arms’. If you look at them too intently, your limbs turn into absurdly long spider legs. The body becomes a bug. A foreign body that we must laboriously make our own again.

 

Nothing is natural to us, but that means, conversely, that nothing is unnatural to us. Man is a deficient being and thus becomes a Freudian prosthetic god. He must go beyond himself and create aids for himself. Even chimpanzees use little sticks to fish termites out of their burrows. But Daedalus even constructs wings for himself and his son Icarus out of branches, feathers and wax.

 

Since nature has not fixed us to a particular purpose in dealing with it - like the bee to making honey - we can use it for the most diverse purposes. This is precisely the interface at which human culture emerges. Not out of nothing, as a rigid opposition to nature, but in its formation. Even if today's cultural objects in their highly engineered form, with their aluminum casings and chips, appear to us as artifacts completely alien to nature, they are all based on the prin-ciple of misappropriation, the picking out of natural objects and transferring them into a new context. Just as the Flintstone family uses a poor woodpecker as the pickup for their Stone Age record player.

 

But one of the most important acts of such cultural intervention in nature is considered to be the taming of fire. Charles Darwin calls this achievement "probably the greatest discovery with the exception of language." And who knows, maybe the two went hand in hand. Around the fire our ancestors gathered, rested from the hunt, and told each other stories. By the fire, our culture was born. And not just because cooking food allows for greater brain growth. The act of making fire itself is a special act that turns the relationship between man and nature upside down.

 

Greek mythology puts this into a powerful story: although forbidden by Zeus, the father of the gods, the Titan Prome-theus steals fire (he lights a fennel stick on the sun chariot of Helios) to bring it to mankind. As punishment, he is tied to a rock in the mountains, where an eagle eats from his liver every day, but it renews itself night after night.

 

Similar to the biblical story of the tree of knowledge, the origin of culture is described here as a kind of fall, as an act of transgression. Philosophers read this transgression against the divine commandment as man's stepping out of the natural context of instincts. The instinct that commands flight in the face of fire is not obeyed. Fire is not met with fear, but with curiosity and the spirit of discovery. The spark of human consciousness is ignited by the fire.

 

To remain in the image, this would also mean again: The spirit does not burn just like that. It needs a fuel. The body, matter, protrudes into the spirit, grows moss, leaves behind cobwebs, impurities. It is precisely these impurities that make consciousness possible in the first place.

 

An unpolluted mind would correspond to a perfect white surface, in which all shapes are potentially contained: a whi-te square, a white circle, a white, fantastic castle, you name it - only that none of them could be perceived. It takes a grain of black - a handful of rhino dung - to get the game of shapes going. Now, except for a return to a fictional primordial state of purity and control, anything is possible. Now a wild game of opposites unfolds, producing amor-phous figures, chimeras and comic-like faces. A blazing fire that consumes and reignites itself. A plant that produces offspring at its leaf tips and multiplies endlessly. A play of matter that can never be fully grasped in its mysteriousness, that wants to be given meaning and yet is never fully absorbed in it, because there is always a residue that resists un-derstanding - like a double D at the end of a word: Brutbladd.

 

Text by Lea Wintterlin

 

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BRUTBLADD

 

Brutbladd. Das Wort will ausgesprochen werden. Es will in den Mund genommen werden. Probieren Sie es ruhig aus, hier und jetzt: Brutbladd. Wie fühlen Sie sich dabei? Unwohl? Sie denken vielleicht: Menschen, die in die Stille hinein mit sich selbst sprechen, sind wahnsinnig. (Aber wo hört der Sinn auf und wo fängt der Wahnsinn an?) Beim zweiten Mal wird es Ihnen schon leichter fallen: Brutbladd. Achten Sie auf Ihre Lippen. Wie sie sich zusammenpressen und mit einer Brutalität die Laute hinausdrücken. Eine Geburt. Ein Blutbad. Mit dem Bladd werden Sie - je nach Dialekt - vielleicht einige Schwierigkeiten haben. Wenn Sie zum Beispiel aus dem Norden Deutschlands kommen, möchte Ihre Zunge das D am Ende des Wortes zu einem T machen. Im linguistischen Sinne nennt man das Auslautverhärtung. Man könnte aber auch sagen: Ihre Zunge führt ein eigenes Leben. Konzentrieren Sie sich und versuchen Sie, sich Ihrer Zunge zu widersetzen. Stellen Sie sich einfach vor, das Wort wäre hier nicht zu Ende. Das Wort wuchert weiter. Ein D folgt dem nächsten. Denken Sie sich eine ganze Reihe an D's. Die D's hängen an dem Wort wie neue, kleine Blätter. Sie müssen sich das Wort im Plural denken. Denken Sie sich einen ganzen Wald Brutblädder:

Brutbladdbrutbladdbrutbladdbrutbladdbrutbladdbrutbladd

brutbladdbrutbladdbrutbladdbrutbladdbrutbladdbrutbladd

brutbladdbrutbladdbrutbladdbrutbladdbrutbladdbrutbladd

Vielleicht werden Sie für einen Moment mitgerissen in einem Brutbladd-Strom. Vielleicht merken Sie auch, wie das Material der Sprache hervortritt, wie die Bedeutung aus der Druckerschwärze flieht und den Buchstabenkörper nackt zurücklässt. Wie die Laute nur noch ein Jucken der Lippen sind und sonst nichts. Wie Ihnen die Zunge fremd wird. Wie Ihnen Ihr Körper fremd wird. Ja: Die Bedeutung ist dem Material fremd. Aber bevor Sie jetzt ganz davonfliegen: Lassen Sie es nicht los. Sie haben nichts anderes zum Festhalten. Greifen Sie zu. Verbrennen Sie es, zermalmen Sie es. Bepflanzen Sie es. Vergraben Sie sich bis zum Ellenbogen darin. Nehmen Sie es in den Mund. Sprechen Sie es aus. Sehen Sie es ein: Sie werden das Material nie ganz unter Kontrolle kriegen. Mit seinen wuchernden D's wird es Ihnen immer wieder hineingrätschen, ins Verstehen. Aber es wird auch Blüten treiben. Es brütet im Material. Da glüht etwas: Brutbladd.

 

Text: Lea Wintterlin