Theatrum Mundi


Theatrum Mundi

Peter Schumann


Chapter 1

Theatrum Mundi


Since the Gulf War, all of us, big ones or little ones, obscure or bright, live in the New World Order. This was announced by the then U.S. President and he must know. The strong punishing hand of the First World has created a wonderful sense of togetherness among the chosen, who are chosen by God and History to be in this position. We, the first ones, were wondrously confirmed in this our Firstness. And the political and the economical and the philosophical implications of our feeling of strength and righteousness are still to bear fruit. The miserable art of puppetry, whose “ existence is barely noticed by mighty politics and by its mighty custom-tailored culture, must nevertheless respond to this New World Order situation and reconsider the why and how of its miserable existence.

The embarrassing question is: how can I use as many words as I am about to use about a subject matter which distinguishes itself by speechlessness? Because the art of puppetry is equipped with a skeptical itch against our normal over-employment of words. The utilitarian babblings, the self-confident life-affirming communications which adorn our lives are suspect to my ears, insofar as my ears are puppetry ears. Why? Because words have the tendency to fix our normally vacillating uncertainties in a handsome way, in a way which then permits us to use them with our famous human pragmatic decisiveness: use them for our own purposes. And since we are so eager to employ the world and the words which represent the world to our advantage, I must warn you that these words which I am assembling here in the name of puppetry are valid for a few seconds only, because during these few seconds our galaxy and its thousands of neighbor-galaxies are streaming across space at speeds of more than 400 miles per second pulled by the gravitational force of some huge undiscovered mass beyond the range of astronomic vision.

I repeat: puppet theater has a talent to manage without language! It actually seems to prefer the absence of speech over the explicit engagement of speech and with that it is distinctly different from the actor’s theater. The function of language in puppet theater is one among other functions, whereas the actor’s theater derives its raison d’être from language. This stinginess with words in puppet theater is there not for any particular esthetic logic but for a couple of very simple and earnest reasons: (1) The puppets themselves are mutes; (2) Even though they are American-born they are not part of the getting-at-each-other’s-throat system of capitalism, which is a system that pits us against ourselves not only in the marketplace but in the realm of language as well.

Who owns language? Who succeeds to extract concrete results from it? Who manipulates it and who manipulates us with it? The successfully married commercial and political interests which run and ruin our lives are what they are by the grace of words, by the grace of the manipulative strength of words. Any exploitation whatsoever, the exploitation of the biosphere as well as the exploitation of populations or of populations within populations, has to be sold to us first. We have to buy it, as we say. We have to buy it, and after we are well persuaded, yes, we buy it.

The fighting against language, the uprising against purposeful, capitalistic and deceptive language, is at the heart of any movement that counters the disaster which in genteel and sweet tones calls itself our government and claims to govern our traffic only, but in truth governs our souls as well.

Even the art of glorification, which until recently was reserved for God alone, is now exclusively available through companies whose specialty it is to glorify. The mutes of our profession, our puppets, who teach us silence, also teach us the language which protests silence, first in babblings and babytalk, in slow repetitive cries and calls which only haphazardly progress to sentences and paragraphs — then in readings and collages of scraps of available language, newspaper language — this strange poetry of so-called information — all of these are part of the elementary schooling in the grade school of puppetry.

In the actor’s theater language is the reflector of human thought and human trivia beefed up and put forward by the actors and their imitative efforts. Acting is an art that actors know from the growing-up practices of children, who mimic adults as a means of entering their world just as they mimic animals to cast off their fear of the wild. Unfortunately the actor lacks the child’s sincerity at this game and has to replace the child’s urgent need with gymnastics which seem to train his imitation muscles as well as his imitation personality problems. In any case, the actor’s education is geared towards the intensification of the fakery which is supposed to transport the viewer over the gap of the missing reality.

It isn’t this gap between made-up reality and real reality. though, which is so bothersome. It’s the overly generous serving of intimacies, of suspiciously intimate intimacies, which is so disturbing about this profession, especially two types of intimacies: (1) bedroom intimacies, in which the art of copulation is demonstrated so heroically that you can’t understand why you, the paying guest, are excluded from it; (2) the intimacy of pain, the inflicting and suffering of pain. Real pain in life is a relative of death, a terrorizer, usually a visitor of great consequence. The detailed imitated pain of actors makes a mockery of the vital resources which enable our nature to fight pain or to submit to pain respectfully.

Sincere intimacy, if anything, seems to be the addictive spice with which the movie-industry — the most visible exponent of the art of acting — has modern humankind hooked. The carefully designed family schmalz of the recent presidential election campaign sells the candidate as effectively as the soap opera from which this schmalz is copied sells its margarine. Eventually the art of acting results in just that: the most glorious of all acting roles, the role of the leader of the First World (also known simply as: the world) performed so brazenly you might think it was real.

Remember, not long ago, B. Brecht took a fresh look at the history of theater and realized that the above-mentioned psychological dilemma of the actor could be cured if the actor would be allowed to enjoy his art as an art of faking. And Brecht went to Hollywood and half-heartedly fought with Hollywood about this issue. But Hollywood understands very well the human weakness for perfect vacations, the desire to abandon ourselves and our unrewarding lives —— the need for a pillow for our brain, which translates into the excuse for any brutality whatsoever, and Hollywood knows this tickling to which it treats us is not like any other tickling to which we treat ourselves; no, this tickling is an economic power of the first order and as such it has a mighty task, a New World Order task — a chance to dominate not only the world, but to dominate its thoughts and dreams as well.

By comparison puppetry is rather innocent and stupid and its New World Order as dangerous as the exaltation of the color green or as perilous as its alignment with the garbage which it cherishes. The participation of puppetry in an inarticulate or barely articulate and therefore not at every moment newly defined world is like membership in a world order which was not invented by Mr. Columbus and is the exact opposite of Mr. Bush’s New World Order.

The things, the pictures and sculptures which are the meat of puppetry, exist in reference to this indefinite world order and are ordered by a strange ambition, namely: to provide the world with an unfragmented and uncontrollably large picture of itself, a picture that only puppetry can draw, a picture which praises and attacks at the same time, a theatrum mundi, which includes the desire of the world to be what it can be. Puppet theater does not only consist of things — it is overwhelmed by things and lives in this obsession. In its practices it knows the typical and otherworldly qualities of things and in its productions it remains indebted to them. And indeed the soul of things does not reveal itself so easily. What speaks out of a puppet’s gesture is mostly uncontrollable and in any case is not suited for the specific targeting with which modem audiences get bombarded.

When the puppet is manufactured it gets its own complicated face which should not be degraded to serve the purposes of character and story. Precisely because of this distance from purpose the puppet can then interfere as an agent in its own right in stories which don’t know about it and which it can therefore influence effectively.

What is this puppet theatrum mundi ? It is certainly more than its encyclopedic massiveness and more than the beautiful megalomaniac wholeness of the world and more than all the bedrooms and kitchens of the world, and it includes the precious cabbages and the precious witchgrasses and the noble antelopes and the noble cockroaches of the world and it does not exclude the thousand shameful normalities which mean so little and whose little meanings are just as meaningful as the meaning of the whole world.

This puppet theatrum mundi which is made possible through the special talents of puppets and the special grace of things, this puppet theatrum mundi derives from the magicians, from the time when art was votive art, and it is probably true to say that this puppet theatrum mundi never quite succeeded to be what it wanted to be, that this puppet theatrum mundi is as unfinished as it is ancient.

Our modern democratic suspicion against the arts in general is that they are hopelessly involved with themselves, that they suffocate from their own wisdom, from their confinement to their proper sphere of operation, that they starve from their success, from their accessibility. Why’? Because their historically guaranteed innocence isn’t all that innocent, because everybody’s chief profession is now changed to that of consumer in a consumer-society – something we did not think we were capable of just a little while ago, but it happened to us, heaven knows how. Now consuming, which we are brought up to practice diligently from childhood on, is a priority over everything else, and that includes our holy cows and our holy arts.

Yes, the suspicion against our modern art productivity extends to our holy cows. The professed meaninglessness of some of the finest modern art is at best a charming distractor from the grim reality of this First World in which we and our arts are imbedded. Our sophistication tries but is unable to absolve us from any of the brutal sufferings which we co-commit as members of the rich club to which we pay our dues, a club which is disgusting to the gods and abhorrent to the big world which suffers from it.

Sculpture is not exempt from earthquakes, nor music from volcanoes, and by the same token none of the arts are exempt from politics. Naturally the theatrum mundi of puppetry is no medicine against the ordained Bureau of Consumption. We who don’t really suffer so badly from our permanent over-consumption also don’t need a medicine against it. What we need is very simple: a new world. And this New World is very necessary and because it is so very necessary it must also be possible — we hope —- but the inexplicability of this New World and the unavailability of the language which it takes to extract its description from the prevailing circumstances are just as gigantic as its necessity.

And yet, I would like to repeat that the puppet theater with its yearning to be a theatrum mundi, cannot be entirely eaten up by the eating mechanism of our culture and therefore would be better off to specialize in its non-edibility instead of collaborating with the collaborators and gluttons. Why? Because the tortured world needs its solidarity whereas the consumer society manages astonishingly well without it — solidarity not only with the tortured human world but solidarity also with the world which is tortured by humans, a world which our Judeo-Christian morality has taught us to regard as our property, a world in which we will eventually all have the honor to participate either as worms or as ashes.

The actor’s theater is legitimate and is therefore referred to as: legitimate theater. Puppet theater in the Western world has been illegitimate more often than not and is therefore referred to as: only puppet theater. The puppet theater’s traditional exemption from seriousness and its quasi-asocial status acted also as its saving grace, as a negative privilege which allowed the art to grow. The habitual lament of modern puppeteers about their low and ridiculous status in society is unfortunately disrespectful of their own art or proves an impotent attempt to market their work as so-called serious art.

In the meantime our German puppet colleagues have come up with an ingenious solution to the social-status-problem of puppetry by re-baptizing it: Figurentheater (theater of objects) — so that nobody will find them guilty of complicity with Kasper, Punch or Petrushka. It’s a sad fact but modern puppeteers strive to be part of the respectable legitimate theater establishment. They want to get away from the obvious childishness, freshness, disrespectfulness and politics and away from the fresh air or the poisonous air of the streets, where such mixtures of blatant truths and outright blasphemy rightly belong.

The ridiculousness of the puppet theater is a true ridiculousness and has nothing to do with humor. Humor wants to be humorous. But the ridiculous is ridiculous precisely because it wants to be serious and fails to be so: Why? Because it pits papermache against government, because it fights with wooden swords against status-quo-thinking-machines.

As a German I know this ridiculousness in a special way. The fact that Auschwitz was possible in spite of Bach has reduced Bach to ridiculousness, has demoted him, so to speak, to the level of puppetry. As a German I am naturally aware of the ridiculousness of the arts, aware of the fact that seriousness and other pompous opposites of the ridiculous have been forced to their knees -— except — maybe, for the latest upsurge in the field of esthetics —- where art prevails as the M.C. of the market economy, where art lives on as one re-creative product among other re-creative products. wonderfully and almost as relevant as rollerblading.

Seventy years ago Kurt Schwitters said: I demand the immediate elimination of all evil! Yes! But when you start calling the evils by name and attack them separately, you get easily lost and lose the spirit of this foolish imperative, which is not only dadaistic and eager to poke fun at our world- improvement-ambitions, but is a trumpet call all the same.

And there is another aspect yet to the ridiculous, which is related to the freedom of fools and which makes it possible to treat sad and depressing and very sad and very depressing subject matters with a kind of cheerfulness —- and I don’t mean the inherent cheerfulness of our trade where everything is always decidedly too small or too big for the average two-to-six-foot audience -— the littleness indicating dwarfness and childlikeness and also the tendency to cutesify human foibles and the too-bigness a demonizing and overdimensionalizing of often no more than mediocre spirits — I am talking about a manufacturing cheerfulness in spite of cruel facts, a production mode in opposition to the lascivious realism of the movies which employ suffering itself for its mercantile usefulness.

This cheerfulness derives from the same distancing with which puppeteers work automatically and which Mr. Brecht tried to elevate to a principle of intelligent theater-work. But there is more to it: e.g. the absence of calculation on behalf of a preconceived result, a healthy contempt for the pragmatic aiming for targets as in everyday market schemes. (To hell with pragmatism!) Further: a serious argument with our pluralistic freedom which Marcuse described as a comfortable, smooth, reasonable and democratic un-freedom.

But we, puppeteers of the world, should break away, should move off, as the German puppeteer Holderlin said: understand the freedom to rise; or as the rooster said to the donkey in the Brementown Musicians: come along, something better than Death we find anywhere.



And Some Sentences From Peter Schumann’s Bread And Sentences (2015)


We neglectors must rebirth the dead bodies, god & angel collaborators with the sweet pest that eats away at the core of the All. The feasts of the twitching wings, the symphonies of the yodling discords. You giants & fragmented angels, you & all yous.



And now the surviving feet march naked footmarches & gain mountaintops & glorious peaks & dictate the body’s commitment to throw itself against the tide.



Implementation authorities in their sky, thundering their voices over the valleys, deciding what we don’t see, irritating the fragile constitutions of their own offspring.




Ancient man not yet, training his old for readiness, like the snail’s not-yet-speed directed towards an unachievable height.



The therefore, when the waiting occurs in its sitting room, upholds opposition to most of it & gathers its strength of breath by inhaling the morning.



Only the morning can cure the feet. Only the feet can take you there. Only the there is big enough. Only enough is enough.



All things that are not the same are nevertheless the same.



The overturned & uprooted things that result from storms are not the same.



Our continuous entrances & exits are the same.



Waiting specifically & waiting endlessly are the same.



The desire to overturn the already established is not the same.



We are the same or not the same.



We are the same as our products.



Our products issue from that characteristic of ourselves that make them the same.



The storm that destroys our product does not necessarily destroy us.



The storm that destroys our product affects the characteristic that made the product.



Storms are wars that alter the landscape.



Landscapes result from endless churning of human desire.



Landscapes that we acquire by walking & seeing are our own miniature insides. Our life takes place in our landscape.


Our landscape holds our life where it belongs.



Our destroyed landscape holds our destroyed life.


The destroyed trees in our landscape define our destruction.



The music that we excerpt from our landscape makes our music possible.



Our music attempts to partake in our landscape.



The noise we impose on our landscape is the noise we impose on our music.



The Much with its indistinct noises,

The Finite with its screams,

The Non-existing with its hopeful throngs,

The Forever-returning with its nervous sleep.



The fleeing world looks similar to the one that’s ahead of us.



The study of the end is well-advanced. The students prepare for Not-living.



Speech never learned to be what it could be. It succumbed to the reigning pragmatism in order to harvest results & thus sacrificed its real words & sentences.



How much further can possibility bow down to fit into reality?



Memory’s shame produces nightmare & the obligation to start anew.


How much further does the invading army of the massmanufacturing of anything – which includes organized deprivation & maiming – have to advance till it inspires skepticism against product?



Protectors who aren’t there trample the grass before the results inflict pain & disruption.



Clouds suck the sky with its heaven into the nearby hillside, till the heavenly nothing explodes on the lazy horizon.



Failure produces impetus to beginning.



Overworked sentences partake in general discord.



My soul hurts, say the Kurdish women to the soulscientists & therefore are not understood or helped.



Obligations are there to keep despair at a distance & put work in its place.



Opinions have not succeeded in casting light on the generic confusion, & confusion has succeeded in trivializing opinions.



Thinking is proposing. Imagining is designing the not-yet.



Diligent efficiency of catastrophe, as in storm, imitated by awesome decliners eager to further their last.



The messy world’s hope is its chaotic potential: to accumulate the dirt that the grain of a new world needs.



Jolly visionary of decline, not yet subject to the customary aches & destitution, ephemerus eternus, unfit for anything else.



The persistently small good or bad things are much more certain than the big adventurous ones, almost as if the smallest were also the most real, even though the big poses as fat & beautiful to underline its extraordinariness.



The step that’s missing & the understanding of the step. To understand principles or to stop, what for, or continue, for what.


The totalist art of non-achievement & instead making the quantities that resemble life.



Calamities influenced by jolliness



Sitting around, which is the inspiration for the rest, even though the rest hardly rests anymore.



Misery gone-by adds to the gone-by’s work-in-progress.



The inexhaustible not-yet, perched for attack, promises more than it can deliver.



Common life disease erupting in individual is crime, whereas common life crime is history.



Paradise is the fall foliage’s struggle for the peak of impermanence, while a crazed civilization re-invents permanent war.



Insofar as you are a becomer, a growing underbrush & jungle, you can’t be disturbed by what you are or what you are not. Your old door can be thrust open & allow unimagined light & darkness to alter the everything that is inside.



The people who people us are the powerfully ordinary who insist & randomly select us & direct us without any direction. They use our very own people-likeness to analyze us, so that we are what we are in a peoplepowered sense. From there we may emerge as so-called individuals if we have the guts to admit our peopledom & dependency. The foundations of empire are the peopled giants & dwarves of the human spectrum. We, the peopled people, are the empire.



The gods who have chosen to live near me have never succeeded in invading me by means of transfiguration or persuasion. They sit in dawn & dusk watching my arbitrariness. I don’t think they like me, even though they are so close, I wonder what makes them stay there & I have no reason or way to shoo them off. They are what they are, gods who enlighten me, me being the listening or non-listening me.



The great life of the breath, which sucks the All into the chest & thus empowers the chest to be part of the All.



What you can think can exist, as thinking is a form of existing.



The ecstatic capability of fairytales, injecting dwarf & giant characteristics into the Normality System.



Humanity loves the clichés that burst it into tears & keep it from freezing to death – death irreversible, a gentleman in cliché attire.



Dwarves of the big fat Mama Now, Raise! Raise your naked fists into her veiled face! Give her hell!



The mind is the end of the chain of muscles that make us burst into the open.



We, the jumping jacks of the existing order of life, keep refining our jumping jack acrobatics as a means of disordering the order.



Singing for the sake of the gray air, relentlessly piercing the above with roaring no-notes music.



Oh, all you undignified not-yet members of society, which wants to but is never ready for you & never really has you in mind!



How many princes of peace to deliver the peaceful warmongers from the hell of their own making?



When a sentence wakes up, it stretches its muscles & readies itself for the attack.



The state’s pride is in eagles, not mice. The mouse’s pride is in mice, not state.



As the clucking life of chickens ends in the frying pan so does the clucking history of humanity end in its home-made frying pan.



The Old Fart with his entourage of misfits takes over the headquarters where public opinion & reality conception are fabricated & inserts silly dances into the prescribed everyday routines that constitute civilization.



Imminent destruction policy as enforced by tradition is upset by real pain (not related to the common underpaid pain, but effected by the worldwide consequential pain of capitalist enterprise) & is now at great risk of becoming an even greater pain than ever imagined & needs to be countered by the uprising of pain against unnecessary pain.



Heroes of tremendous quality train their capabilities to confront the doomed economy system with the slimmest chance of success. Their push-ups & visionary exercises don’t necessarily bear fruit. But the fading Here & its still blossoming apple tree need their tremendous quality & you.



Me? No. Wrestling? Yes. Ah, the combat zone! Thou must be brave, thou must not stink. You? No. Me? Yes.



Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall though he had an overwhelming majority & wasn’t dead at all & all the president’s men & horses could put Humpty Dumpty together again, in an awkward fashion, but nevertheless there he is again, the old bastard.



If there were life, I would have come across it, but instead there was efficiency & efficiency’s companions.



Here ordinary, here privileged, here full like the full moon, here associated with all entrances & exits, here unending in the limited timespan, here wanting & striving, here not wanting not striving, here slowly, fiercely, elaborately doing & undoing, here because of nothing, here with all that calls itself here, here always & not secure, but here.



Sick soldiers provide sick war. A healthy war hasn’t been seen in a long time & no healthy soldier can be found anywhere & emergency room treatment for soldiers & wars are in short supply. The warring spirits must find new territory outside the physical realm.



A bunch of monkeys are out to build their private inferno for the fun of it, a miniature, controllable business, nothing compared to the real thing, but significant, because the professors from the Inferno Department of the university are looking for applicable models in the interest of inferno-thinking & mass manufacturing.



The latest thinking about thinking is that the world thinks itself & does not need assistance from the thinker.



I am cockroach, interested in sky.



The fun of it when you don’t know the how & why.



The Christ effect on history is the obvious acceleration of ever more compassionate arms manufacturing.



Overwhelming senselessness in the Necessity Business.



Established thinking derives from the same universities that invent airplanes but leave the meaning of the speeds that are fed to the public unresearched.



Urgent confusion must reign before pitiful order gets enforced.



Performance easily replaces result. The appearance of result is much funnier than the result & can teach the result a lesson.



Reflecting means after-thinking about what has already become irreversible, but mostly reflecting is meant as pre-thinking, which means preventive anticipation-thinking.



Joy of failing inspires doing.


Theatrum Mundi

  • Author: Fomite
  • Published: 2017-01-24 02:20:16
  • Words: 4644
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