‘World-Changing Rage’ by Alexander Kluge and Georg Baselitz: An Excerpt

Baselitz and Kluge explore the dynamism of rage and its potential to rapidly grow and erupt into blazing protests, revolution and war. They also reflect the melancholy archetype of the Western hero (and his deconstruction) against the very different heroic ethos of the Japanese antipodes. More powerful than rage, they argue, is wit, as displayed in the work of Japanese master painter Katsushika Hokusai. A unique collaboration between two of the world's leading intellectuals, World-Changing Rage will leave every reader with a deeper appreciation of the human condition.

Translated by Katy Derbyshire

An Excerpt

How the world came under threat

One of the eight heavenly sins that the Japanese contrast god SUSANOO committed (he rules over strife and rage between earth and water, earthquakes and spring tides), was the REVERSE DESECRATION OF THE HIDE OF A HORSE. The scandalous god flayed the skin of the sun’s trusty steed, cast the hide into the workroom of the weaver women who made fabrics for Amaterasu, the sun queen, and gave one of the women such a shock that she ‘stabbed herself in the vagina with her shuttle and died’. At that moment, the otherwise most patient Amaterasu could not control her fury. She could not bear the weaver woman’s scream, her shock. She ensconced herself inside a cave. The world was dark.

Overcoming the flush of rage via the diaphragm

The gods waited outside the cave for the sun to one day emerge again. A minor goddess by the name of Ame no Uzume, already elderly, comparable to a low mountain range worn down by weather (sunken, retaining barely any hills and revealed only to the excavating geologist), fell into a kind of trance due to the long wait in the dark outside the cave. She exposed her genitals and her meagre breasts and began to dance. The gods burst out laughing. Their tremendous laughter, nothing but contractions of the diaphragm, aroused the goddess Amaterasu’s curiosity in her hiding place. She opened the entrance to the cave and looked outside. A minor god named ‘Man of the Strong Hand of the Heavens’ was standing near the entrance. He pulled the sun out of the cave. Ame no Futotama, a demon, actually an impostor among the gods, immediately tied a rope across the entrance. And so Amaterasu was prevented from returning to the cave. We Japanese owe the preservation of the world to the rather accidental humour of the ugly old goddess’ performance, a world that almost perished as the result of a concentration of rage and fury, a congestion of anger.