The Flight of the Lindberghs

I had a goosebump moment when I was working on my paper this morning.

The following is my translation of an excerpt from „The Flight of the Lindberghs“, a educational radio play by Bertolt Brecht, written in 1930. In this play, the Lindberghs are the audience, who are supposed to speak these lines to the radio, in an interactive experience to use the then new medium as an educational tool. 

The flight of the Lindberghs

Bertolt Brecht

Part 8


The Lindberghs:

Many say that this age is old
But I have always known that this is a new age.
I am telling you, not by themselves
Are houses growing like mountains of ore for 20 years
And many are moving to the city every year, as if they expect something.
And on the laughing continents
It’s making the rounds: the big scary sea
Is a small water.
Although I am the first to fly across the Atlantic
I am convinced: tomorrow already
You will laugh at my flight.

But it is a battle against the primitive
And a strife to improve the planet
Like the didactic economy
Which will change the world from the ground up.
For now
Let us fight nature
Until we ourselves become nature.
We and our technology are not nature yet
We and our technology are primitive.

The steamboats raced the sailboats
Which in turn left the rowboats behind
Am flying against the steamboats
In my battle against the primitive
My airplane, weak and shaky
My apparatus full of flaws
Are better than the ones that came before, but
By flying
I am fighting against my airplane and
Against the primitive.

So I am fighting against nature and
Against myself
Whatever I am and what foolishness I believe in
When I am flying, I am
A true Atheist.

For ten thousand years grew
Where the waters become dark at the sky
Between light and dawn unstoppable
God. And likewise
Above the mountains, where the ice came from
The ignorant spotted
Unconvincably a god. And likewise
Into the deserts came the sandstorms and
In the cities he was created by the chaos
Of the classes of people, because there are two kinds of people.
Exploitation and ignorance, though
The revolution liquidates him. But
Build roads across the mountains and he disappears
Rivers scare him out of the deserts. The light
Shows emptiness and
Chases him away at once.

So be a part
Of the battle against the primitive
Of the liquidation of the afterlife and
And driving out of god, wherever
He appears.

Under the sharper microscope
He falls.
He is scared away by
The improved apparatuses from the sky.
The cleansing of the cities
The crushing of suffering
Make him disappear and
Chase him away back to the first millennium.

So still there is
The chaos in the improved cities
Which grows from ignorance that equals God
But the machines and the workers
Will fight them, so you, too
Be a part of
The fight against the primitive.