jackboots and the aura of love: from dada to dachau

Its difficult to ascertain precisely why Salvador Dali seemed attracted to fascism, and drawn to something in the aesthetic, unless at something in less manifest sense, there was a convergence between fascism and eroticism. The eroticization of the fascist existed among artists, -according to writers like Laura Frost- who had ideologically little sympathy with fascist politics yet could create a fiction of eroticized fascism which helped define the role of fascism in the construction of twentieth century erotics.With Dali, certainly there must have been some carnal relationship at some level:…

Dali. The Metamorphosis of Hitler's Face into a Moonlit Landscape. "As to the Fuhrer specifically, Descharnes and Neret quoted him further: “Whenever I started to paint the leather strap that crossed from his belt to his shoulder, the softness of that Hitler flesh packed under his military tunic transported me into a sustaining and Wagnerian ecstasy that set my heart pounding, an extremely rare state of excitement that I did not even experience during the act of love. On another occasion he admitted that he saw Hitler as a masochist determined to start a war and lose it in heroic style." Read More: http://daliplanet.blogsome.com/category/fascism/ image: http://www.russianpaintings.net/picture.vphp?id=12795&author=973

…The tangle of conflicts and contradictions that had the surrealist artists in its grip is encapsulated in the “trial” to which Dali’s surrealist colleagues subjected him in February 1934, after he discovered a new hero: Adolf Hitler. The unbridgeable gaps between dream and reality, between politics and art and between art and life are all embodied in this event, in which Breton and others assailed Dali’s unconscious. The Fuehrer had given Dali powerful frissons by appearing in his dreams in the form of a woman with skin as white as snow. In his imagination he also pictured Hitler as “a wet-nurse with four testicles and four foreskins.” Read More: http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/how-hitler-looked-in-salvador-dali-s-dreams-1.327001

"In this temple of eroticism and mysticism, the divine has entered into an alliance with lust, taken with a pinch... not of salt, ironic though it is, but of the choice painterly technique of a Velazquez. Dali asserted that he gave depth to his own mysticism by compounding it with erotic delirium. Eroticism, he had said, is the royal road to the soul of God, and his museum proved that his principle was truer than ever. In his book The Erotic Metamorphoses, a selection of drawings done between 1940 and 1968, Dali said that the greatest difference between eroticism and pornography was arguably, or indeed certainly, that eroticism was divine by nature and brought happiness, whereas pornography proceeded from the abasement of humanity and brought only misfortune. " Read More: http://www.all-art.org/art_20th_century/dali-6-7.html image: http://www.ecademy.com/module.php?mod=list&lid=208697

Walter Benjamin saw a tight-fitting relationship between distortions of modern erotic life and fascism and modern warfare on the one side, and political impotency on the other. Conversely, there was the close affinity of erotic and revolutionary passion where sexual desire transformed into commodities that demanded immediate possession and gratification, and was unable to sustain the distances between desire that were the source of the aura of love. The result was the disintegration of love.

---In Michel Foucault's introduction to Anti-Oedipus , he claims that "The dream that had cast its spell, between First World War and Fascism, over the dreamiest parts of Europe--the Germany of Wilhelm Reich and the France of the Surrealists--had returned and set fire to reality itself." Foucault claims that one should "Read Anti-Oedipus as art, in the sense of erotic art. against the fascism in us all, that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us." ---Read More: http://www.christianhubert.com/writings/eroticism.html image: http://www.letmewatchthis.ch/profile/cyberslaw

Dagmar Herzog: Nazism’s appeal to the erotic lay not just in the “aesthetization of politics” to use Walter Benjamin’s phrase, but also in the way the regime addressed leisure, entertainment, work and consumption….as “submissive homeoerotic masochism” to an entire population. What we learn from examining the intersection of erotic desire and political responsibility can help us understand the appeal of Nazism.


---From Dali’s point of view, the surrealists’ leftist politics was dull and doomed. “Marxism is shit, the last of Christian shit,” he declared, and to be sure, communism served only to handcuff their imagination. Also in 1934, Dali suggested making a “thinking machine” — a rocking chair with numerous goblets of warm milk hanging from it. “Enough of Dali’s fantasies! Warm milk for the children of the unemployed!” roared Aragon, who Dali later characterised as “a nervous little Robespierre”. Ironically, Breton saw from this incident that the communist faction in his movement was becoming a little too political and too zealous, and ended up ousting Aragon as well. Dali, Robert Descharnes and Gilles Neret wrote in their biography, “enjoyed pomp and ritual, so he actually preferred monarchies to totalitarian regimes; the political Left was too drab and prosaic. “To the surrealists he confessed, ‘Very rich people have always impressed me; very poor people, like the fishermen of Port Lligat, have likewise impressed me; average people, not at all.’ ---Read More: http://daliplanet.blogsome.com/category/fascism/

Dali urged that Hitler be viewed as a surrealist phenomenon. He shared with those present his fantasies in which “the succulence of [Hitler's] breast pierced by a safety-pin symbolizes childhood memories.” In his mind’s eye, he said, the German leader “becomes a sort of grand metteur-en-scene of abomination, a Cecil B. DeMille of massacre” (an observation which, in retrospect, could be taken as a dark prophecy that would be realized in the decade ahead ).

"The 1937 painting The Enigma of Hitler contributed to Dalí’s expulsion from the Surrealist movement. Since the early 1930s Hitler had fascinated Dalí, mainly because of the shape of his back. In 1934, he had to be st

d from painting a swastika armband on the figure of a wet nurse (the nurse is seen in this painting at the edge of the sea). The Surrealists saw Dalí’s obsession with Hitler as evidence of his dubious moral and political beliefs, however, Dalí had long stated that he was apolitical, viewing wars and dictators alike as inevitable parts of human nature." Read More:http://jahsonic.tumblr.com/post/4008300239/hitler-masturbating-1973-by-salvador-dali-some

Dali’s most often-quoted phrase on Hitler is “Hitler turned me on in the highest”, noted in The Unspeakable Confessions of Salvador Dalí. On the painting, The Enigma of Hitler:As Dali tells it, “Chamberlain’s umbrella appeared in this painting in a sinister light, made evident by the bat, and it struck me when I painted it as a thing of enormous anguish.” He then confided: “I felt this painting to be deeply prophetic. But I confess that I haven’t yet figured out the Hitler enigma either. He attracted me only as an object of my mad imaginings and because I saw him as a man uniquely capable of turning things completely upside down.” Read More: http://library.flawlesslogic.com/enigma.htm

According to Brandon, “Surrealism, with its emphasis on anti-authoritarianism, was intrinsically anti-fascist – and so, in the polarized 1930s, surrealists had to be communists. But of course the Communist Party imposed strict confines. Plus, Breton was himself a dictator. How could he accept party discipline? And how could the party accept him? It was an impossible relationship.”

Sontag: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. The leader makes the crowd come.) Left-wing movements have tended to be unisex, and asexual in their imagery. Extreme right-wing movements, however puritanical and repressive the realities they usher in, have an erotic surface. Certainly Nazism is "sexier" than communism. (Which is not something to the Nazis' credit, but rather shows something of the nature and limits of the sexual imagination.)Read More: http://www.politicsforum.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=109116

At the same time, in a mirror image of their relations with Communist Party activists, the surrealists’ relations with the bourgeois patrons of art, who supported their work and the events they held, were also rife with tension. The surrealists were compelled to draw on the aid of the bourgeoisie despite the contempt in which they held the bourgeois way of life and ideology; as for the good burghers, they had to eat humble pie so that the artists could frolic and gambol without fear.

Far more problematic was the attitude Breton and his associates adopted toward women: though perceived as a source of inspiration, they did not play a central role in the creative activity itself. “Obviously surrealism, being anti-bourgeois, implied free love,” Brandon explains. “Nevertheless, the surrealists’ relations with women were rather conventional. Although there were a few surrealist women painters – Leonor Fini, Leonora Carrington, Dorothea Tanning – for Breton, women were love-objects, and did not form part of his inner creative circle. There’s a photo of all the young surrealists (male ) listening to Robert Desnos dictate a dream. And in the middle, taking dictation, is the sole woman – Simone Breton. Her dreams are of no interest. Read More: http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/how-hitler-looked-in-salvador-dali-s-dreams-1.327001

postwar Nazi chic had less to do with the real thing than with liberalism’s ‘powerful investments in . . . defining proper and deviant desire.’ The connection between fascism and perversity is itself a fantasy, Frost explains, since the actual Nazis were puritanical and radically detached. Their relationship to their victims was not at all like the intimate possibilities that can exist in s/m. Ascribing the bond between sexual master and slave to this emblem of evil was a very effective way to condemn sadomasochistic impulses (and for that matter, to make them even hotter). No wonder the ’70s, with their deeply ambivalent fixation on transgressive sexuality, were also the heyday of Nazi chic.Read More: http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/cup_detail.taf?ti_id=3715 a

---Tensions developed within the surrealist group as Dalí evaded anti-fascist political ideas and actions and instead showed an obsessive interest in what he called the "Hitler phenomenon." As Dalí's infatuation with Hitler grew, he came under suspicion by his fellow surrealists. In 1933, instead of condemning Hitler, Dalí painted and exhibited The Enigma of William Tell, a semi-nude portrait of Lenin with a huge anamorphic buttock. The surrealists saw the painting as a provocation - especially since the Nazis were busy murdering people for being "communists". Dalí defended himself by saying, "No dialectical progress will be possible if one adopts the reprehensible attitude of rejecting and fighting against Hitlerism without trying to understand it as fully as possible." Surrealist misgivings concerning Dalí's political loyalties led him to sign a declaration that he "was not an enemy of the proletariat", but the situation only worsened with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.---Read More: http://jahsonic.tumblr.com/post/4008300239/hitler-masturbating-1973-by-salvador-dali-some image: http://www.art-for-a-change.com/content/essays/dali.htm

Vincente Navarro:Dali also visited the U.S. frequently. He referred to Cardinal Spellman as one of the greatest Americans. And while in the U.S., he named names to the FBI of all the friends he had betrayed. In 1942, he used all his influence to have Buñuel fired from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where Buñuel worked after having to leave Spain following Franco’s victory. Dali denounced Buñuel as a communist and an atheist, and it seems that under pressure from the Archbishop of New York, Buñuel had to leave for Mexico, where he remained for most of his life. In his frequent visits to New York, Dali made a point of praying in St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the health of Franco, announcing at many press conferences his unconditional loyalty to Franco’s regime. Read More: http://www.rense.com/general46/dali.htm

Read More: http://mystudios.com/art/modern/dali/dali.html


Susan Sontag:Of course most people who are turned on by SS uniforms are not signifying approval of what the Nazis did, if indeed they have more than the sketchiest idea of what that might be. Nevertheless, there are powerful and growing currents of sexual feeling, those that generally go by the name of sadomasochism, which make playing at Nazism seem erotic. These sadomasochistic fantasies and practices are to be found among heterosexuals as well as homosexuals, although it is among homosexuals that the eroticizing of Nazism is most visible.

Fascism is theater,” as Genet said. And sadomasochistic sexuality is more theatrical than any other. When sexuality depends so much on its being “staged,” sex (like politics) becomes choreography. Regulars of sadomasochistic sex are expert costumers and choreographers; they are performers in the professional sense. And in a drama that is all the more exciting because it is forbidden to ordinary people. “What is purely realistic, slice of life,” Leni Riefenstahl said, “what is average, quotidian, doesn’t interest me.” Crossing over from sadomasochistic fantasies, which are common enough, into action itself carries with it the thrill of transgression, blasphemy, entry into the kind of defiling experience that “nice” and “civilized” people can never have. Read More: http://www.politicsforum.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=109116

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One Response to jackboots and the aura of love: from dada to dachau

  1. For those exposed to Dali’s work early in their lives as was I around the age of thirteen, his work had a subconscious and ambiguous influence upon their sexual development, which, for me anyway, manifested itself during my early adolescence in the form of rather disturbed sexual fantasies. I was also in love with his work during that period of my life. Dali’s influence on my sexuality dissipated soon after I began having real as opposed to fantasized sex. By the time I was eighteen, I experienced a Dali backlash. His work, more so than his surrealist contemporaries began to strike me as silly and contrived and his personality shifted in my mind from an artist to a huckster.

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