The Aryan myth began inconspicuously as a minor issue in comparative linguistics at the end of the eighteenth-century and then assumed a life of its own of disproportionate dimensions in the romantic age that morphed into a racial theory of history with messianic overtones.The emotionally charged quack science resulted in an artistic aesthetic charged with a lethal sense preception that predestined its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order….
With Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century published in 1899, we are left in no doubt that the Aryan-Teutons are destined to dominate the world. Chamberlain’s racism was primarily concerned not with the history of civilization, but with the prophecy of an ultimate struggle in which the Aryan replaces God and the Jew replaces Satan. Since a nominally Christian theme runs throughout the Foundations, Christ himself has no choice but to turn into an Aryan. The resulting figure is a kind of self-indulgent Prussian Junker, a proud and belligerent Christ who enjoys a good banquet and condones the sins of the flesh. It is not surprising that the book met with the Kaiser’s thorough approval.
Gur Ze’ev: Here revolution is conceived as an invitation to an interpretive struggle for hidden knowledge. In the “Theses on History”, this version is clearly expressed by the critique of the social-democratic conception of progress in social democracy. Accordingly, redemption turns out to be an interpretive leap into the past, which determines the philosopher’s present. The philosopher does not rely on the revolutionary praxis of the exploited class, but on saving the memories of the oppressed unredeemed in the past. With religious devotion he conducts his struggle for the redemption of the defeated: the defeated of the past are redeemed from oblivion, and the defeated in the present are redeemed from manipulation by the current order. Redemption turns out to be the interpreter’s aesthetic institution of the “now-time.” Read More: http://construct.haifa.ac.il/~ilangz/Utopia4.html a
Nor was this brand of Aryanism without its utopias. Willibald Hentschel advocated the establishment of an isolated community called Mittgart, after the supposed home of the Aryans. He beleieved that the ideal society could only be achieved by maintaining blood purity and a caste system. He therefore proposed selective breeding to rescue and regenerate the race; polygamous marriages in which the contract would terminate upon pregnancy so that the male might continue without further delay the pursuit of Aryan reproduction. The women would tend her child for two years, pass it on to common custody and remarry. Hentschel’s contribution to Aryan strength and joy was never implemented.
Such doctrines of Aryan regeneration, in Germany above all, naturally had repercussions in popular culture and in art. Even before 1914 the artistic typologies of both Aryan and Jew were well established before the emergence of contemporary art. The Greek ideal of beauty linked with the conception of the Aryan-German essence which became the dominant aesthetic now synthesized with modern technology of film and the broadcast mediums.
Weinbaum: Indeed, contemporary art responsive to and productive of changes in our perception reveals to us the manner in which we hang in the balance, poised between an oppressive eugenic social order and an anti-racist one. On the one hand, such art can and often does aestheticize race, rendering it an ever more reified concept. On the other hand, at the best of times, such art reveals the paradox of our supposedly post-racial moment, exposing to us the pitfalls of those post-racial arguments that insist that genetic science and reason have moved us beyond race and therefore beyond racism. Read More: http://www.princeton.edu/~publicma/Weinbaum_article.pdf
Within this context, redemption is disclosed as an overcoming of history, and as a rescue of the very possibility of moral struggle for the institution of authentic selfhood through the defeat of the principle of individuation and by regarding the other as an object for manipulation for the sake of realizing selfish goals. This salvation proves dependent on a kind of knowledge different from the teleological, the violent, the victorious knowledge, which is always produced out of the vain progress. What is the source of this power of truth and what is the status of our present ignorance that enables us to identify and recollect this messianic appearance in the vanity of the present continuum? What in our continuum, we should ask Benjamin, enables us to decide what is the voice of the myth and what is the appearance of the messianic since we are imprisoned in the present where myth is the sole prince of reality? In such a present we cannot trust “proofs” and “evidence.” Read More: http://construct.haifa.ac.il/~ilangz/Utopia4.html a
The sculptures of Venus or nymphs made by Breker or Thorak display nothing provocative or pornographic; they never trigger sexual fantasies or erotic dreams, as is perhaps the case with the stupendous naked beauties painted by the Italian artist Amadeo Modigliani. Upon the faces of the sculptures representing nude women made by German artists, one comes across an enigmatic and aristocratic smile and a deep sense of the tragic, which reflects, symbolically, the pessimism of a whole nation in search of its geopolitical identity. No trace can be found of female coquetry or flirtatiousness, such as one encounters among the nudes painted by the French realist, Gustave Courbet, by the Impressionist Edouard Manet, or by Paul Cézanne, the post-Impressionist. Read More: http://autonomotpol.wordpress.com/category/english/page/6/
Weinbaum:In the boldest formulation, I am suggesting an uncanny correspondence between aura, as Benjamin develops it, and the concept of race that circulates in our supposedly post-racial times: The present denial of the biological existence of race shapes all invocations of race, effectively making biological race auratic each and every time it appears. In this sense, aura and race in the present context are not simply analogous; rather, race has emerged as constitutively auratic within contemporary culture. Just as notions of hand-madeness, authority, and uniqueness haunt the mechanically produced object of which Benjamin wrote, rendering aura spectral, notions of race as a biological, genetic, and scientifically quantifiable essence haunt the biotechnological practices and products that this essay describes, rendering race spectral. Put differently, like aura for Benjamin, race, for us, is present and absent—it is rendered obsolete by the new forms of genetic knowledge, and it is simultaneously reinvigorated when biotechnological procedures and the necessary genetic materials are used. In this literal and practical sense, it can be argued that as the paradoxical authenticity of the art object in an age of mechanical reproducibility is captured by and condensed in the concept of aura, the paradoxical persistence of race in our supposedly post-racial moment is captured and condensed in a concept I call “racial aura.” Read More: http://www.princeton.edu/~publicma/Weinbaum_article.pdf