Of Man

Курт Тухолски


Man has two legs and two beliefs: one when he feels good, and one when he does not. The latter one is called religion.

Man is a vertebrate and has an immortal soul, and a motherland, so he does not become presumptuous.

Man is made in a natural way but finds this quite unnatural and dislikes discussing it. Man is made without being asked of his consent.

Man is a useful creature because he helps raise the value of petroleum shares through his death as a soldier, and through his death as a miner he raises the profit for mine owners, and at the same time develops culture, art, and science.

Besides his breeding instinct, man has two passions: to start fights and to not heed what he is told. Man can straightforwardly be defined as a never-listening species. If man is wise, he does right: because he will seldom hear anything reasonable. However, men do like listening: listening to promises, to flattery, to praises, and to compliments. With flattery it is always advisable to exaggerate things three times what is considered permissible.

Man favours nothing of his kind, which is why he invented laws. If he can’t do this or that, why should anyone else be allowed to?

In order to trust someone, it is recommended that you ride them on the back; as long as you do, you can be sure they will not run away. Some people trust character too.

Man can be divided into two parts: one male that won’t think, and one female that cannot. Both have the so called feelings: these you will most certainly stir by making function some nerve centres of the organism. In such cases some people release lyrics.

Man is both a herbivorous and a carnivorous animal; during expeditions to the North Pole he sometimes eats other representatives of his own species; however, fascism takes care of the balance.

Man is a political creature who loves spending his life rolled in a ball the most. Each ball hates the other, be it because of belonging to other balls, or because of belonging to the same ball. The latter kind of hatred is called patriotism.

Every man has a liver, a spleen, lungs, and a flag; all four organs are vital. There have lived men with no liver, no spleen, or one lung; there are no men without a flag.

Man loves to incite his weak activity of generation reproduction; thereby he has invented a number of means: bullfighting, crime, sports, and jurisdiction.

There are no men as men ought to be. There are only governors and governed. However, there has never been a man who governs himself: because an opposing slave is always more powerful than a power-obsessed master. Every man stands lower than himself.

When man feels he is no longer any good, he becomes pious and wise; then it is that he renounces the sour grapes of the world. This they call absorption with the self. Men of different ages consider each other to be of different races: the elderly ones usually forget that they have once been young, or they forget that they have grown old; and the young ones never realise that they too will grow old.

Man does not want to die because he knows not what awaits him on the other side. He fantasises he knows, and still does not want to die; that is because he wants to participate in what is going on on this side for just a little longer. ’A little longer’ here means ’forever’.

Man is otherwise a creature that raises din, produces bad music, and makes his dog bark. Sometimes he rests, but man is then dead.

Beside men, there are also Saxons and Americans, but that lesson we have not yet covered - we will study zoology in the next class.

Kurt Tucholsky, 1931

Translated from Bulgarian, 2003