Does fear eat the soul? Eventually Hitler’s Aryan myth, like many another, monstrously devoured both its creators and its supporters. It all began as a minor and unsolvable issue in comparative linguistics around the time of the French revolution. It became part and parcel of a romanticism unbound where blood, soil, and emotion transformed into a politically expedient full-fledged racial theory of history that ended by almost destroying European civilization.
The evolution of Hitler’s racial doctrine indicates that he came to regard the German people, upon whose support he relied, as themselves debased in comparison with a supranational elite, limited in number but geographically boundless. Hitler devised the SS as an elite order embodying the ideals of Wagner’s Parsifal. Its knights under Himmler were to seek the Holy Grail of pure Aryan blood, just as Parsifal had sought the cup that had contained Christ’s blood.
The war over, Himmler was to have Burgundy as the heartland of a supranational SS state. This was the theoretical essence of Hitler’s New Order, in pursuit of which the Nazis annihilated themselves. The historical drama ended not as Parsifal but as Wagner’s Gotterdammerung- that is, in fire and destruction.
Yet the fact that the Nazi champions of Aryanism are gone cannot give us complete reassurance that the myth itself is dead. Emotional revulsion in the aftermath of Auschwitz is no guarantee against the re-emergence of the myth, which continues to be toyed with in sometimes more subtle and contradictory manners. Nor can scientific enlightenment do away with it. Though biologists and geneticists throw doubt on the very idea of race itself, tough they reject the idea of pure races and dismiss conceptions of innate racial superiority, theories of racial supremacy refuse to die.
Weinbaum: And while it is clear that art is not the only or even necessarily the privileged cultural form that might perform the work of critique,( Walter) Benjamin’s initial insight about art as critical tool remains pertinent, allowing us to see race’s spectral effects—nothing less than the existence of racial aura….to become aware of the ease with which race can be made to “look” genetic when in fact, as geneticists concur, it is not….the “phony spell” of the screen star is animated in the Hollywood film, so too is the “phony spell” of race or the spectral presence of racial aura animated in “RVID.” As Vanouse elsewhere explains, he created a “race about race” to demonstrate the idea that any particular “race” or “mixture” is genetically “inferior” or “superior”—faster, more agile or competitive—is a racist ruse. Racial biology continues to structure our thinking in a supposedly post-racial moment, principally through the historical sedimentation of eugenics that continues to burden our imaginations…Read More: http://www.princeton.edu/~publicma/Weinbaum_article.pdf
The history of the Aryan myth demonstrates the power of belief over the power of knowledge. Thus it is alarming to encounter contemporary neo-fascist doctrines, essentially paranoid reactions to the “unwashed” ; economically backward and vocally hostile less white hordes beyond. We may now hear more often of Caucasians than of Aryans, but the substance and errors of the belief in white supremacy linger.
Certain of us might take to heart some wise advice from Arthur de Gobinea
#8220;There is no greater tyranny than that which works through fictions, for they are, by their very nature unfeeling and pitiless, boundless in their impudence and their pretensions.” He failed to see the relevance of this remark to his own inventions, but it is an admirable judgement upon the past and even, perhaps, upon the future of the Aryan myth.
Geoffrey Wheatcroft:If the artistic yearnings of all those Nazi poets and painters manqués cast a bleak light on the redemptive power of art, or any idea that the sublime and the beautiful will make us better people, there is another bleak side to the story in the behaviour of the German “arts community”, especially musicians. Some went into exile, either involuntarily or because they would not serve the regime, but far more did not. There were musicians who divorced Jewish spouses to keep their jobs, while great names like Strauss, Pfitzner and Furtwängler chose to endorse the regime….
Meantime concerts of high standard continued, until what Spotts calls the most grotesque episode in musical history. On April 13 1945, the Berlin Philharmonic played Bruckner’s Fourth, as a recognised sign that the Third Reich was reaching its own last bars. At the exits, members of the Hitler Youth handed out free cyanide capsules. Unimaginable wickedness and horror ended to the sound of sublime music. Read More: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2002/oct/19/politics.art a
James Young: Hitler was both a product of his time’s aesthetic temper (as retrograde as his tastes may have been) and possibly the greatest producer of political design and choreography who ever lived. We cannot separate his deeds, his policies and his Nazi ideology from his aesthetic temper. Our reflex may be to protect the aesthetic realm from the ugliness and barbarism committed in its name. But without recognizing the central role aesthetics actually played in the Nazis’ murderous regime, we ignore the basic historical fact at the heart of Spotts’s book: Art, beauty and aesthetics were not benign byproducts of the Nazi Reich, but part and parcel of its malevolent logic. Beauty and terror, aesthetics and power, may not only be paired after the historical fact but might now be regarded as historical forces that also drive events as they actually unfold.http://www.forward.com/articles/8694/ a
Susan Sontag:More important, it is generally thought that National Socialism stands only for brutishness and terror. But this is not true. National Socialism—more broadly, fascism—also stands for an ideal or rather ideals that are persistent today under the other banners: the ideal of life as art, the cult of beauty, the fetishism of courage, the dissolution of alienation in ecstatic feelings of community; the repudiation of the intellect; the family of man (under the parenthood of leaders). These ideals are vivid and moving to many people, and it is dishonest as well as tautological to say that one is affected by Triumph of the Will and Olympia only because they were made by a filmmaker of genius. Riefenstahl’s films are still effective because, among other reasons, their longings are still felt, because their content is a romantic ideal to which many continue to be attached and which is expressed in such diverse modes of cultural dissidence and propaganda for new forms of community as the youth/rock culture, primal therapy, anti-psychiatry, Third World camp-following, and belief in the occult. The exaltation of community does not preclude the search for absolute leadership; on the contrary, it may inevitably lead to it. Read More: http://www.antifascistencyclopedia.com/allposts/susan-sontag-on-fascist-art-aesthetics