Alexander Kluge: Drilling through Hard Boards

translated by Wieland Hoban

Max Weber famously described politics as a "Strong, slow drilling through hard boards with both passion and judgement". Taking this as his inspiration, Alexander Kluge brings readers yet another literary masterpiece. Drilling through Hard Boards is a kaleidoscopic meditation on the tools available to those who struggle for power. Weber’s metaphorical drill certainly embodies intelligent tenacity as a precondition for political change. But what is a hammer in the business of politics, Kluge wonders, and what is a subtle touch? Eventually, we learn that all questions of politics lead to a single one: What is political in the first place?
In this volume, Kluge masterfully unspools more than one hundred vignettes, through which it becomes clear that the political is more often than not personal. Politics are everywhere in our everyday lives - so, along with the stories of major political figures, we also find the small, mostly unknown ones: Elfriede Eilers alongside Pericles, Chilean miners next to Napoleon, a three-month-old baby beside Alexander the Great. Drilling through Hard Boards is not just Kluge’s newest fictional work but also a masterpiece of political thought.
German original published by Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, in 2011 under the title Das Bohren harter Bretter.