The power of voice Ernst Cassirer and Bertolt Brecht on technology, expressivity and democracy
An archive recording gives me access to the reading of a German poem. The recording is from 1953. The sound quality is rather poor, yet the words are clear. They are spoken by a male voice whose intonation indicates a connection to southern Germany. I am familiar with the wording from previous readings, but find myself surprised by the intonation: it starts out almost monotonously, then it becomes more vivid, and certain phrases are even spoken with an almost pastoral diction. The recording is of the German author Bertolt Brecht rendering his own poem "An die Nachgeborenen' ("To Posterity'), which he wrote between 1934 and 1938. The poem addresses future generations, asking them to be forbearing in their memory of a colloquial "we', who "wished to lay the foundations of kindness', yet "could not ourselves be kind'.1 Towards the end of the recording, in the part which appears as the third unit of the written text, the reader's voice changes significantly for the word "Ihr' — "you' — which is read out more loudly and with a stronger emphasis. It is as if, through this emphasis, Brecht wants to contribute to the transmission of his message across the time separating him from his future listeners and readers who are explicitly addressed in this now-canonized German poem.
Folkvord, I. (2012)., The power of voice Ernst Cassirer and Bertolt Brecht on technology, expressivity and democracy, in A. Sissel Hoel & I. Folkvord (eds.), Ernst Cassirer on form and technology, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 161-180.
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