Modris Eksteins · 396 pages
Rating: (2K votes)
“Early on, to arouse a sense of belonging, of “community,” the party began to emphasize the importance, above everything else, of ritual and propaganda—the flags, the insignia, the uniforms, the pageantry, the standard greetings, the declarations of loyalty, and the endless repetition of slogans. Nazism was a cult. The appeal was strictly to emotion.”
“The beautiful lie is, however, also the essence of kitsch. Kitsch is a form of make-believe, a form of deception. It is an alternative to a daily reality that would otherwise be a spiritual vacuum. . . . Kitsch replaces ethics with aesthetics. . . . Nazism was the ultimate expression of kitsch, of its mind-numbing, death-dealing portent. Nazism, like kitsch, masqueraded as life; the reality of both was death. The Third Reich was the creation of “kitsch men,” people who confused the relationship between life and art, reality and myth, and who regarded the goal of existence as mere affirmation, devoid of criticism, difficulty, insight.”
“Myth took the place of objectively conceived history. Myth, Michel Tournier has said, is “history everyone already knows.”2 As such, history becomes nothing but a tool of the present, with no integrity whatsoever of its own.”
“It was Hitler’s style, his oratorical talents and his remarkable ability to transmit emotions and feelings in his speeches, that took him to the leadership of the ragtag party of misfits and adventurers that he joined in Munich in 1919 and that called itself the German Workers’ Party. The ideas he and the party spouted were all tattered; they were nothing but jargon inherited from the paranoid Austro-German border politics of the pre-1914 era, which saw “Germanness” threatened with inundation by “subject nationalities.” Even the combination “national socialist,” which Hitler added to the party’s name when he became leader in 1920, was borrowed from the same era and same sources. It was not the substance—there was no substance to the frantic neurotic tirades—that allowed the party to survive and later to grow. It was the style and the mood. It was above all the theater, the vulgar “art,” the grand guignol productions of the beer halls and the street.”
“Nazi kitsch may bear a blood relationship to the highbrow religion of art proclaimed by many moderns.”
“In fact, the sickness I was suffering from was that I had been driven out of the paradise of childhood and had not found my place in the world of adults. I had set myself up in the absolute in order to gaze down upon this world which was rejecting me; now, if I wanted to act, to write a book, to express myself, I would have to go back down there: but my contempt had annihilated it, and I could see nothing but emptiness. The fact is that I had not yet put my hand to the plow. Love, action, literary work: all I did was to roll these ideas round in my head; I was fighting in an abstract fashion against abstract possibilities, and I had come to the conclusion that reality was of the most pitiful insignificance. I was hoping to hold fast to something, and misled by the violence of this indefinite desire, I was confusing it with the desire for the infinite.”
“Natalie’s father had a saying for that behavior—Stupidity has a price and it always gets paid.”
“You,” he whispered, bringing his hand to hover by my cheek.
“Are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.”
And then he touched me.”
“But he was a filthy pirate. They were Arobynn Hamel's assassin-educated, wealthy, refined. Slavery was beneath them.”
“Thus, in imagination, individuals seem freer under the dominance of the bourgeoisie than before, because their conditions of life seem accidental; in reality, of course, they are less free, because they are to a greater extent governed by material forces.”
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