Thursday, December 01, 2005

Dürrenmatt’s 21 Points to the Physicists

1. I don’t start out with a thesis but with a story.
2. If you start out with a story you must think it through to its conclusion.
3. A story has been thought out to its conclusion when it has taken its worst possible turn.
4. The worst possible turn is not foreseeable. It occurs by accident.
5. The art of the playwright consists in employing, to the most effective degree possible, accident within the action.
6. The carriers of dramatic action are human beings.
7. Accident in dramatic action consists in when and where who happens to meet whom.
8. The more human beings proceed by plan the more effectively they may be hit by accident.
9. Human beings proceeding by plan wish to reach a specific goal. They are most severely hit by accident when through it they reach the opposite of their goal: the very thing they feared, they sought to avoid (i.e. Oedipus).
10. Such a story, though it is grotesque, is not absurd (contrary to meaning).
11. It is paradoxical.
12. Playwrights, no less than logicians, are unable to avoid the paradoxical.
13. Physicists, no less than logicians, are unable to avoid the paradoxical.
14. A drama about physicists must be paradoxical.
15. It cannot have as its goal the content of physics, but its effect.
16. The content of physics is the concern of physicists, its effect the concern of all men.
17. What concerns everyone can only be resolved by everyone.
18. Each attempt of an individual to resolve for himself what is the concern of everyone is doomed to fail.
19. Within the paradoxical appears reality.
20. He who confronts the paradoxical exposes himself to reality.
21. Drama can dupe the spectator into exposing himself to reality, but cannot compel him to withstand it or even to master it.

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