The representation of trauma. What are the limits, the intersection between the desire to understand and the voyeuristic gaze? The conjunction of political and popular culture can collapse the meaning of distance resulting in a moral strain and ambiguity where contentious reactions collide with traditional victim oriented imagery; scenes where Nazi banality and evil integrate seamlessly with Hollywood glamour and extravagance. Juxtapositions that seems illogical such as a so-called hero like Marcel Duchamp patronizing the same photographer as Adolf Hitler….
…Saul Friedlander coined the term “new aesthetic discourse on Nazism” in the early 1980s to investigate fiction and film embedding Nazi imagery into postmodern systems. For example, he trained his lens on George Steiner’s 1981 novel the portage to san cristóbat of A.H.
and, of course, examined Hans-Jùrgen Syberberg’s highly nuanced, brilliant, and provocative 1982 film entitled Hittel; a Film from Gørmany.
Although Friedlander alludes to Anselm Kiefer, he never examines the specifics of his or any other art. using these examples of film and fiction, he lays out the quandaries posed at the juncture between the moral and the aesthetic. on the one hand, he is concerned that such transgressive images and ironic stances may simply revoke all meaning. on the other, he understands that the new postmodern ways of probing these “limits of representation” might ultimately provide a fuller grasp of the dilemmas intrinsic to this onerous subject. Friedlander realizes that “Nazism represents an obsession for the contemporary imagination.” Read More:http://representingtheholocaust.wikispaces.com/file/view/Kleeblatt_contemporary+art.pdfa
Ultimately, the default position is that kitsch is inescapable. As defined by emotional shortcomings, ingratiating, superficial and making no demands on its audience, it is easy to see its seductive power in providing a space for complicity. In this respect, Zizek seems on terra firma in invoking the relation between the Hollywood Disney-esque and the actual aesthetic smorgasbord of cheap pageantry and pomp that made it alarmingly easy to get caught up in it as producer or consumer. The ego-expanding implications of the “ready-made” the false positing of empowerment and populist pretensions of individual redemption do bring seemingly disparate frontiers into view…
Charismatic “appeal”, kitsch, has several meanings: One is a powerful esthetic attraction to the public, and a cry, a manipulative entreaty for assistance artfully disguised or transcended . This type of charisma, like Hitle involved a state of amnesia toward the past, or outright suppression of the past, a rendering of tradition. Like Duchamp a discarding of artistic tradition. It is the charismatic’s particular talent to make masses of people forget the past, or at least forget themselves temporarily, and live, surrounded by sensations,Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, in the spell of the present. The problem is always to reconcile the incongruous, to get seduced and repress what appears to be absurd without tinkering with complementary dynamics and seeing their interconnection:
Zizek: With regard to Austria, instead of the miserable attempts to blame for Josef’s terrible crime the Austrian Nazi past or the Austrian excessive sense of orderliness and respectability, one should rather link the figure of Fritzl to a much more respectful Austrian myth, that of the von Trapp family immortalized in The Sound of Music: another family living in their secluded castle, under the father’s benevolent military authority which protects them from the evil Nazi outside, with generations strangely mixed (the Sister Maria, like Elisabeth, a generation between father and children…) The aspect of kitsch is relevant here: The Sound of Music is the ultimate kitsch phenomenon, and what Fritzl created in his basement also displays features of a kitsch family life realized: the happy family getting ready for diner, with the father watching TV with children while mother is preparing the food… However, one should not forget that the kitsch imagery we are dealing with here are not Austrian but belong to Hollywood and, more generally, Western popular culture: Austria in The Sound of Music is not the Austrian’s Austria, but the mythic Hollywood image of Austria – the paradox is here that it is as if, in the last decades, Austrians themselves started to “play Austrians,” i.e., identified with the Hollywood image of their own country.
This parallel can be extended to include the Fritzl-version of some of the most famous scenes from The Sound of Music. One can imagine the frightened children gathered around mother Elisabeth, in fear of the storm of the forthcoming father’s arrival, and mother calming them down by a song about some of “some of their favorite things” they should focus their minds on, from the toys brought by father to their most popular TV show… Or what about an upstairs reception in the Fritzl villa to which the underground children were exceptionally invited, and then, when the time for bed comes, the children performing for the assembled guests the obscene song “Aufwiedersehen, Goodbye” and departing one after the other… Really, in the Fritzl house, the basement, if not the hills, was alive with the sound of music….
Sound of Music is as one of the worst cases of Hollywood kitsch, one should take very seriously the sacred intensity of the universe of the film, without which its extraordinary success cannot be accounted for: the power of the film resides in its obscenely-direct staging of embarrassing intimate fantasies.Read More:http://www.lacan.com/thesymptom/?p=419
Even more perplexing than the Duchamp – Hitler symbiosis is the Kafka-Hitler connection as Rosenbaum has brought to light. That Hitler’s mother was treated by Dr. Kafka from the writer’s family. As absurd as it may appear, the connection contains plausibility if not moral strain:
In the end, however, Kafka’s fiction underscores not only K.’s own spiritual vacuum but also the incurable inertia that, as Buber states, “is the root of all evil.” Of course, Kafka should not be dismissed as an “unredeemed Jew” or as one totally oblivious of Jewish religious life or of religious
life in general. The point is that he is not truly religious in his soul or in his rendered vision. “I was not led into life by the sinking hand of Christianity, like Kierkegaard,” he confesses, “nor did I catch the last of the Jewish prayer-shawl before it flew away, like the Zionists. I am the end or the beginning.” Read More:http://www.nhinet.org/panichas17-1&2.pdf
Kleeblatt:Deploying an arsenal of aesthetic tropes, Zugzwang communicates a virtual lexicon of ideas and moods associated with Duchamp.
Aside from the previously mentioned references to use of the photograph as ready-made, and to chess in particular, there is doubling, mirroring, replication, multiplication, discontinuity in a mis en-scene that result in a dizzling experience for the viewer. David Joselit’s recent observations about Duchamp’s “relay between the ‘elastic’ body and a geometric system” and his “compulsive repetition of reproduction” are pertinent here. Flerz has “stolen” these systems conceptually and reapplied them physically in his appropriation of retrograde photographs by Hoffmann onto practices liberated by Marcel Duchamp.
As Thomas Elsaesser observed in relation to Syberberg’s film, Herz also has Hitler dissolve as a “subject.” He needn’t dissolve Duchamp; the Dadaist already beat Herz to that punch. One element that has gone unobserved until now in the considerable literature on Zugzwangis Herz’s cagey contrast of Duchampian multiplication with the Nazis’ very differently intended use of the same device. The Nazi employment of multiplication was central to its order and overwhelming massing of humans and machines. This was an essential element in is pageantry and of ultimate importance in its consolidation of power. Of course, Duchamp used replication precisely to dispel notions of power, originality, and genius.Read More:http://representingtheholocaust.wikispaces.com/file/view/Kleeblatt_contemporary+art.pdf
The most persuasive alternative is offered by Saul Friedländer in the thoughtful first volume of his work Nazi Germany and the Jews, where the term “redemptive antisemitism” is introduced to capture the insoluble fusion of utopian and violent fantasy that characterized the most radical variant of modern German anti-Jewish sentiment. Friedländer is careful about claims of the degree to which large numbers of Germans shared this worldview, and also about the degree to which ideology drove the course of events leading to the Holocaust. He thus successfully navigates his cautious history beyond the treacherous terrain of the intentionalist-functionalist debate as well as of the more recent Goldhagen debate, but he does not do so by attending to the ways in which ideology actually operated on the level of individual subjects in Germany in the 1930s. “Redemptive antisemitism” remains a provocative formulation, but it does not yet begin to explain the phenomena of complicity and consent. Read More:http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/ahr/106.2/ah000460.html