It is a pity that this movie, directed by Peter Lilienthal (1975), one of the initiators of German New Wave, has never been released on VHS or DVD (neither in Europe nor in the U.S.). It is a rare example of a truthful filming of a very touching novel with a huge metaphysical background.
The novel at the base of this film is Günter Herburger's "Hauptlehrer Hofer" (Sammlung Luchterhand, Darmstadt 1975) which tells the story of Main Teacher Hofer who lived during the time of second industrialist revolution and thus in the beginnings of Socio-Economic philosophy as represented by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and Radical Individualism represented by Max Stirner. Main Teacher Hofer probably has not gotten by chance the same last name like the Tyrolian freedom fighter Andreas Hofer. Like the latter, Main Teacher Hofer, too, is a fighter, but a fighter for the indestructibility of knowledge. On p. 49 of Herburger's novel, we read: "... that knowledge can only be suppressed, not abolished".
Because Main Teacher Hofer is convinced about that, he is willing to suffer social exclusion, the loss of his job and later expatriation of his Bavarian homeland. In gathering knowledge of any kind, he sees the very goal of his life, may this be a new metaphysical insight or a ski-binding which he constructs for his student and girlfriend Beatrice von Zeil. The believing in the indestructibility of knowledge, however, requires qualitative conservation. In a world of pure quantitative knowledge, as represented by modern physics, matter is destructible, mind can only be represented in matter, and information, which lies kind of between matter and mind, vanishes. But where does it vanish, this is the question. Like for the anthroposophists, for Hofer, it stays in this world, and it is probably not by chance either, that just in the supposed life-time of Hofer the first theories of qualitative conservation were emerging, based again on Radical Individualism and one of its continuations, Solipsism. After all, Main Teacher Hofer, whose favorite song is "Yankee Doodle" and his biggest longings are the prairies of the American South-West, demonstrates a faithfulness in his belief of the indestructibility of knowledge that can only be produced by a soul who defines itself not by means of matter, but by means of mind, quite comparable with American pragmatism whose first goal was and is the refusal of metaphysical thinking of the Old World.
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