„Those who were not devoured by the bloody battle are eaten by the light wind of the city before the week is over.“ This is the first line of Brecht’s Fatzer fragment about four deserters from World War I: „Die nicht verschlang die blutige Schlacht, frißt der leichte Wind der Stadt, vor die Woche um ist.“
They decide to stop making war and go into hiding in the urban underground to wait for a general uprising of the people to put an end to the senseless war and to approve desertion. Together, they think, they could help to prepare the ground for this insurrection which they are waiting for. But before the people rise, the four mangle – in German „zerfleischen“ – each other, each stripping from the bone the meat of the other. In fact, it is this meat that their strongest man Johann Fatzer fails to provide for them, although he had promised to do so, which causes their doom. The strange repetition of the world „meat“ in the text – instead of „food“ for example – legitimizes the connection of The Decline of the egoist Johann Fatzer to the ‚Anthropophagic Manifesto‚ by Oswald de Andrade which was written in the same time-period (1928). In the same year the novel Macunaima was written by Mario de Andrade, the story of „a hero without any character“ – just like the asocial Johann Fatzer. Macunaima is born in the tropics, not in the black forest as the poor BB who was carried in the asphalt cities by his mother while he was laying in her belly. As an inhabitant of the concrete jungle, the poor BB says to himself:
„Of these cities will remain: he who passed through it,
„Von diesen Städten wird bleiben: der durch sie hindurchging,
When Macunaima arrives in the big city (São Paulo) he is at first very much confused that machines can kill people, but it is people that command the machines – until he understands: „People are machines and machines are people!“ And thus he laugs. Walking down Augusta, the hip street of the city, on a sunday with all shops closed, we understood what Macunaima meant and laughed too.
Just like Macunaima, the poor BB came into the big cities in the time of chaos when there was hunger. But he didn’t come among the people when there was an uprising, so he could not revolt with them. And thus the time passed that was given to him on earth. They told him: „Eat and drink! Be happy that you’ve got something.“ But how could he eat and drink, as long as he robs what he eats from someone who is starving and how could he drink if his glass of water is missing for someone who is dying of thirst? And still, he ate and he drank.
To sing with conviction „And because people are people they need to eat, por farvor!“ sounds naive in the wealthy countries of the so-called ‚First World‘. That’s why Sérgio de Carvalho from the Companhia do Latão is right, when he says that Brecht is more alive in Latin America and other parts of the world, since here Brecht is not read metaphorically, but literally. Here Brecht describes a social reality: hunger. The reform government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva began with the FOME ZERO declaration: „Zero Hunger“ in which he promised that by the end of his term all Brazilians will be able to eat three meals a day. This year will see the end of his second term: „The state doesn’t need you anymore. / Hand him over to us“ as it says at the end of the long Fatzer poem:
„Der Staat braucht Dich nicht mehr.
Gib ihn heraus!“