Körner recognizes already in the seventies that the novel form is not ideal for the screen. He is looking for new forms for his texts. He also suspects that when reading on screen the reader will not focus as much as when reading a book. He is looking for new ways of designing texts that appeal to the reader. During the time of the 70s in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), which he calls vacuole, that he can be “caught” by the state security (stasi) at any time, if he writes down dissident thoughts. The grudge of the surveillance system STASI was not only directed against political criticism, but also against new (art) procedures that do not correspond to socialist realism. New methods were e.g. Cut-ups by William Burroughs, possibly created in a state of intoxication, and new techniques such as visual poetry and surrealistic writing. A new tolerant and open thinking was demanded by the appeal of Leslie Fiedler in 1968: “Cross the border, close the gap”.
As Körner intended no peeking IM (IM was called an informal member of the state security system in the GDR) should find a coherent manuscript with him, he started writing on index cards. In addition, in his narration he switches between a realistic and an ironic language, the voice of the commentary-less realist or barbaroccan cabaret artist. He developed his reading games for two reasons: his fun idea to use socialistic game theory on one hand and thereby hiding his regime-critical thoughts. The staff of the State Security (STASI) lurked everywhere. That’s why you have to mask yourself and your writing.
The American artists Jane and Louise Wilson impressively captured the Stasi’s intimidation and torture tools in Hohenschönhausen Prison in the GDR in a video installation titled STASI CITY. This is currently being shown again in the exhibition Everything is Connected: Art and Conspiracy at the Metropolitan Museum New York:
Thomas Körner loves the game with an exchange of only a small number of words with a great change in meaning, e.g. the difference between capitalism and socialism. Or what does the Economics of the Political have to do with the Polit-economical approach? Thomas Körner plays the wordgame for us.
Through the triangle the author sets terms in relation to each other, which characterize for him the generic term: he calls sex, show and politics as qualities of the narrative voice barbaroccan cabaretism (with the abbreviation brk) and eros, poetry and the universe serve to characterize the voice of the commentless realism, abbreviation klr (both are neologisms created by Thomas Körner):
The narrative voices brk and klr are characterized by the graphic representation of the triangles, and the § signs stand as § I (producing) for the Fragment of the People and § II (consuming) for the Fragment of the State. With these diagrams, Körner characterizes in a simple way complex relationships between the narrative voices brk and klr and the contents of the Fragments of the People and State.
In this reading game, which takes place on a kind of game board, the
discussing persons throw their statement on a playing card into the
middle of the game table like in a card game. They have four-letter codes such as NECK or WULB, whose full names are easily recognized as Honecker and Walter Ulbricht. But there are also codes which are more difficult to interpret.
In the foreground they act according to the rules of socialist game
theory, they talk about the five-year plan. Georg Klaus, the cybernetics
pope of the GDR, appears as an expert. But actually only fermentation
bubbles come out of the cards (of the party members), because it seems
nobody really understands what they are talking about.
At the end of the very extensive reading game with more than 50 moves WULB hands over the power to NECK.