K. mentioned Hitler. (Who doesn’t?) I’m reconstructing K. the best I can after the US destroyed it (actually, and me, almost). Some Hitler points I’ll repeat, some make for the first time: online anyway.
When I was a kid Hitler was an awesome presence: he was in the movie newsreel every time: impressive, scary. But from age two or so I also thought Hitler was very funny! Because Charlie Chaplin lampooned him! I couldn’t tell the genius comedian from the great dictator! well on into my childhood! (Actually, I still think Hitler was funny! and have no idea how much of that is still Chaplin!)
The Great Dictator
(I’ll tell you frankly, I still love his propaganda artist: Leni Riefenstahl: another film genius, a great artist.)
Leni Riefenstahl, in her 70’s, photographs in Africa
I squeezed some of Hitler’s prose into my English rhetoric classes at Colby, in 1967, ’68: I was discussing rhetoric, distinguishing effective writing from true philosophy.
|Hey! Maybe that’s why I was fired! Illegally fired! fired just after I’d been rehired! Maybe it wasn’t because I opposed our conduct in the war in Vietnam (as had seemed obvious). Maybe it wasn’t because I had taught global warming as a possible danger! (also in my rhetoric class!) (in 1968!!!) Maybe it was because I quoted Hitler as an example of effective political rhetoric.|
Fer instance (and here’s what actually launched the idea of this post), in the previous post, Two Religions, I had an urge to mention Hitler’s blatant (and brilliant) creation of a mythology instead of a history for his German mystique. Take his nonsense about Aryans, for example, or his invention of “The Third Reich.” The Reich part we get; but what’s third about it?
It ain’t history; it’s myth! He wanted to be the Third Reich, he wanted his reich to become understood to be the third in the glorious history of humans on earth.
What I also love about it: he called it “the thousand year reich”!
A thousand years?! That moron drove it into the ground in about a dozen years: ‘Thirties, early ‘Forties, Kaput!
More on that in a minute, but before I forget: I once held a Hitler watercolor in my hands. I was trying to set up select galleries around North America for Brazilian artist Ula Haensell, I was in a gallery in Rockville Centre, trying to soften them up: Nice couple, the guy Hispanic, but once he decided on selling something, he could really sell it. So I’m blabbing about Ula, he hands me a framed watercolor: what did I think of it?
Good, quite good. Cézanne influence strong: good. Now he’s gonna tell me it is a Cézanne, very early. But no; he says, Look at the signature.
Damn! Then he shows me that watercolor reproduced in Time, in the 1930s. Now owned by some Jew! God! what wonderful ironies.
And I once met a little Jew, maybe five foot nothing, who’d walked out of Germany with two six foot Albrecht Durer’s under his arm!!!!
Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528)