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.”
“You pay attention just to words, not how they're said. Briar's like you - he talks meaner than he is, and people fall for it. You should know better.”
“Things change,” Daja said softly. “We change with them. We sail before the wind. We become adults. As adults, we keep our minds and our secrets hidden, and our wounds. It’s safer.”
“Then, there are the places you would rather not go-a tax collectors' convention, a sewage treatment plant, or maybe the home of someone who keeps spiders as pets and insists on taking them out of their cages and making you hold them.”
“She judged people smartly and quickly, and often found herself in a huff.”
“You know how much I used to like Plato. Today I realize he lied. For the things of this world are not a reflection of the ideal, but a product of human sweat, blood and hard labour. It is we who built the pyramids, hewed the marble for the temples and the rocks for the imperial roads, we who pulled the oars in the galleys and dragged wooden ploughs, while they wrote dialogues and dramas, rationalized their intrigues by appeals in the name of the Fatherland, made wars over boundaries and democracies. We were filthy and died real deaths. They were 'aesthetic' and carried on subtle debates.
There can be no beauty if it is paid for by human injustice, nor truth that passes over injustice in silence, nor moral virtue that condones it.”
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