Paul Feyerabend

Stories from Paolino's Tapes

Private Recordings 1984–1993
Edited by Grazia Borrini-Feyerabend and Klaus Sander
Production: supposé 2001

Audio-CD, 68 minutes
ISBN 978-3-932513-19-0
EUR 15,00

Download (mp3, 320 kBit/s), 68 minutes
ISBN 978-3-86385-119-4
Euro 9,95


“All the material is excerpted from personal tapes Paul sent to me. It was never meant to be edited or listened to by anyone else. I agree with releasing it for this CD as I believe Paul tells marvelous tales, which can be enjoyed by more people than I alone. He conveys beautifully his love of opera, theatre, cinema and the respect, compassion, admiration and sense of wonder he felt for many people.” (Grazia Borrini-Feyerabend)


01  The Threepenny Opera
A tiny commentary on the wrong rendition in English of a piece from this opera, describing how he was impressed by a single line in Brecht’s libretto.

02  Falstaff
On Verdi’s opera after Shakespeare.

03  Fury
The story of Fritz Lang’s movie.

04  Schroedinger
Description of what kind of person the physicist Erwin Schroedinger was and Feyerabend’s relationship with him.

05  Macbeth
Feyerabend reads Verdi’s thoughts on Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene: una macchia.

06  Xenophanes
Some Xenophanes fragments, read by Feyerabend in his own translation, attempting to respect the original metric rhythm.

07  Paul Robeson, Joe Louis, Max Schmeling
Feyerabend explains a lullaby sung by Paul Robeson, describes the life of this American football star and also a bit of the story of Joe Lewis and Max Schmeling.


Track 01  The Threepenny Opera


"Paul K. Feyerabend was a humanist. He was also fun."
Ian Hacking

"Feyerabend singt – mit Stegreif-Interlinear-Übersetzung – Mackie Messer, verlebendigt die Falstaff-Handlung (rudimentäres Opern-DJ-ing inklusive), berichtet vom bewegenden Kino-Erlebnis mit Fritz Langs Fury, extemporiert eine Schrödinger-Biographie, führt in die Macbeth-Oper ein (DJ-ing!), übersetzt Xenophanes und erinnert an Paul Robeson sowie den (Kultur-) Kampf wischen Joe Louis und Max Schmeling. Stories from Paolino’s Tapes erweist sich als Vermächtnis: spät erreichte Zart- und Nachsicht bei unverminderter Brillanz und kindlicher Begeisterungsfähigkeit, gleichsam die weisestmögliche Fandom-Aggregatsstufe. Sehr rührend, übergroß und sehr sehr einsam."
Johannes Ullmaier, Testcard

"Die Stimme stellt Präsenz her, und wo gälte das mehr als für die Stimme des Geliebten... Stories from Paolino's Tapes zeigen das private Gegenstück von Feyerabends Missachtung für Intellektuelle und Wissenschaftler: Bewunderung, manchmal kindliche Begeisterung für Fernsehen und Theater, für Menschen, die sich seiner Hochachtung erfreuen durften. Gemeinsamen Opernbesuchen in Rom schickte Feyerabend klingende Opernführer voraus: höchst unterhaltsame Seminare über Falstaff und Macbeth, garniert mit Klangbeispielen von kratzendem Vinyl und beachtlichen Gesangseinlagen. Melodisch und aufschlussreich: der akzentdurchsetzte Vortrag seiner Xenophanes-Übersetzung. So gelangt man auf einem anderen, sehr intimen Weg zum Kern seiner Kritik am absoluten Rationalismus: der ideale Wissenschaftler als bescheidener Geschichtenerzähler..."
Süddeutsche Zeitung

"Paul Feyerabend, Vertreter der kritischen Theorie, versucht seiner Frau per akustischer Briefbotschaft, Brechts Dreigroschenoper nahe zu bringen. Ganz nebenbei kriegt er dabei die Kurve zur unangemessenen Verteilung der menschlichen Güter, der sozialen Unausgewogenheit in der Welt... Der vermeintlich schwierige Denker erweist sich als ausgesprochen amüsanter Unterhalter..."
Deutschlandfunk, Büchermarkt

"The CD Stories from Paolino's Tapes consists of taped letters (in English) which Feyerabend recorded for his last wife, Grazia Borrini-Feyerabend, during his stays in Switzerland, Berkeley and Rome. These recordings, interesting also because of their curious mix of Viennese and Californian idioms, reveal another side of the philosopher. Feyerabend's views on a bad translation of Brecht/Weill's Dreigroschenoper, his comments on certain nuances of Verdi's Falstaff, his own translation of Xenophanes, his view on Fritz Lang's film Fury, etc. do more than just bridge the spatial distance between him and his life partner. Feyerabend was a passionate listener to music, reader and cineast. In these recordings he engages the listener in some of the things he deeply cared about. One of the most touching recordings is about the Austrian physicist Erwin Schroedinger. 'Schroedinger was an outsider in many respects...' What follows is a tale of individual courage, intellectual honesty and simple decency. As the tale unfolds it becomes clear that Schrödinger was an important role-model, if not something like a father-figure for Feyerabend. If it had not been for Schrödinger, so Feyerabend says at one point, he may well have ended up in Vienna 'as some drunken bum rolling around the sidewalks'. Apart from Schrödinger, Feyerabend mentions some other of his heroes but also some villains, among them quite a few philosophers.
What Feyerabend illustrates with these 'anecdotes' is that freedom at large depends on individual acts of courage and decency, unimpressed by and at times acting against mainstream ideologies. Moreover the propagation and defence of the values Feyerabend considered important is not necessarily an exclusive domain of intellectuals - though they are particularly culpable when they fail, as they often do. In the last recording on the CD (about the football player Paul Robeson and the boxers Joe Louis and Max Schmeling) draws attention to the fact that utopian visions may be just as much present in sentimental music, hall songs, or in a boxing fight, as in the manifestations of so-called high culture. Indeed, those who push themselves into the limelight and claim to talk for all mankind - 'those standing in the light' are not likely to be the ones to respect the right to freedom of 'those standing in the dark'. This deep distrust of authority, in whatever garb, was perhaps the most important Leitmotiv for Feyerabend and there is no doubt that it not only pervaded his philosophical work but every aspect of his life."
Monika Kirloskar-Steinbach, Erkenntnis – an international journal of analytic philosophy, vol. 58, no. 1, january 2003

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