sign of the times: tainted logic

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….

Fassbinder. Marriage of Maria Braun. "Hohn addresses Germany's later transtion to a country that adopted from America not only democracy, rock and roll and Elvis Presley, but also Jim Crow. Religious conservatives indicted the local German population for its materialism, hedonism and loose morals associated with the American military and way of life. Such behavior had led to striptease parlors, prostitution, common-law marriages, and increasing numbers of illegitimate births. There developed a common narrative myth that indicted black GIs; sexually out of control women, or so-called "Veronikas"; and Jewish bar owners for having brought degeneration to the countryside. If this has a familiar ring, it should, for some Germans simply dusted off the old Nazi racial ideology that now seemed respectable in the light of the American objection to inter-racial mixing. The good burghers invoked the racism of their mentors, thus soothing any sensibilities about being Nazis. All of this led to efforts to criminalize prostitution and to broaden the definition of what acts constituted prostitution, i.e., any women in the presence of an American serviceman was liable to arrest as a prostitute. " Read More:

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.

"Sculptures of naked women, such as “Flora” by Breker, “Girl” by Fehrle, or “Glance” by Klimsch, show excessively beautiful and geometrically pruned women who, sometimes, with their perfect bodies, with their narrow and lengthened ankles, with their well-rounded and well-proportioned breasts, tire the eye of the observer. In addition, the fact that many sculptures show naked males embracing naked females, indicates that National Socialism was by no means a “conservative” or “reactionary” movement, and that Puritan and Anglo-Saxon prudishness was completely alien to it. It is difficult to deny great talent of Breker or Klimsch, even if some critics justly estimate that their sculptures often show traits of solid manufacturing copies of classic artists." Read More:

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: a

"Certain parallels can again be drawn with the paintings known as “socialist-realist” in the Soviet Union and other communist countries. However, even here the difference is obvious. Whereas one can see on the paintings of Soviet artists the peasants and workmen adorned with their perpetual grins, and in the background a factory under construction, on the German paintings of that time seldom can one seldom see signs of industrialization. Traces of the asphalt, chimneys spewing fumes, or factories in full gear – such as one can observe among “socialists-realist” painters (and in their titanic and apocalyptic form among the futuristic artists in fascistic Italy!), very rarely appear in the German paintings of that period." Read More:

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.

Ivo Saliger. 1940. "How does contemporary art allow for apprehension of changes in our perception of race, reproduction, and kinship produced by the new biotechnologies? How does it facilitate apprehension of the decay of racial aura and the simultaneous persistence of its “phony spell”? How does art produced in an age of biotechnological reproduction politicize aesthetics by showing us how we might set to work the profound transformations we are witnessing against the tainted logic that produced them?" Read More: image:

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:

Fassbinder. Lili Marleen. 1981. "will introduce Fassbinder's cruel satir

a star's rise to fame in Nazi Germany, starring Hanna Schgyulla and Giancarlo Giannini, with costumes by Barbara Baum. Long misunderstood, Lili Marleen is now recognized as a masterpiece of the New German Cinema for the way it dramatizes cultural and political narcissism through fashion, music, and stylistic excess." read more:

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: a

Sontag: In pornographic literature, films, and gadgetry throughout the world, especially in the United States, England, France, Japan, Scandinavia, Holland, and Germany, the SS has become a reference of sexual adventurism. Much of the imagery of far-out sex has been placed under the sign of Nazism. More or less Nazi costumes with boots, leather, chains, Iron Crosses on gleaming torsos, swastikas, have become, along with meat hooks and heavy motorcycles, the secret and most lucrative paraphernalia of eroticism. In the sex shops, the baths, the leather bars, the brothels, people are dragging out their gear. But why? Why has Nazi Germany, which was a sexually repressive society, become erotic? How could a regime which persecuted homosexuals become a gay turn-on? A clue lies in the predilections of the fascist leaders for highly sexual metaphors. (Like Nietzsche and Wagner, Hitler regarded leadership as sexual mastery of the "feminine" masses, as rape. The expression of the crowds in Triumph of the Will is one of ecstasy.Read More:


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:

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:

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