August 15, 2005


Scholarly papers. Also, nazis.

Get Me Off Your Fucking Mailing List is one of the better peer-reviewed articles I've read in awhile. It's not quite as thorough as Chicken Chicken Chicken: Chicken Chicken, but the latter's a more technical field, so that's to be expected.

I was watching Downfall the other night; the original German title is the truly wonderful der Untergang. Which, after poking about at a couple of dictionaries and babelfish and such seems to literally be "the under way", or "the beneath course," take your pick. Which leads me to conclude that German has some great literal translations that manage to be both literal and poetic at the same time.

It's mostly about the very last days of that extremely busy contribution to history that was the Third Reich, who were founded on the idea that calling World War One "the Great War" was just being downright pessimistic about just how big war could be if you really pulled together in common cause and gave 110% about it. (They totally would have had inspirational posters featuring punt teams with slogans about teamwork if such things had been available back then.) That kind of work ethic is always ultimately self-destructive.

It's not exactly a sad film, aside from the bits where the Goebbels kids are poisoned after being drugged so as not to cause much of a fuss during it; during aforementioned drugging, the oldest daughter is portrayed as clearly knowing something's amiss--such as that her mom's an evil piece of shit, perhaps; I'm pretty sure she'd drop subtle clues along those lines--not that that helps her any. But it's mostly just a grim film, well-made, of the sort that had me sitting quietly for some time afterwards putting my thoughts together about it.

As I put it on a message board I'd seen it mentioned:

Also very nutritious fuel for anyone's inner misanthrope. What often gets lost in the popular portrayal of Hitler as being sort of the Elvis of human evil is that while he was certainly an ugly little broken monster of a person who got used to changing the world by bellowing rants at it, the real ugliness is that he was surrounded by so many ugly little competent monsters of people who enabled all his shouting to accomplish what it did.

And that's largely what gets me. The movie's bookended by some quietly self-damning reflections by Hitler's secretary, and Goebbels has some usual choice words about how the Nazis really didn't make the German people do a damn thing, both of which point to the simple banality of evil--or not evil so much itself, but more of evil's skeleton and cartilage, and maybe evil's gastrointestinal tract. (It's an analogy that I'm not really invested heavily in getting Gray's Anatomy exact, you understand.) But the brain and the heart is still the relatively small cluster of generally competent folks who backed such a worthless stain of a person to the hilt, long past the point when it was obvious that nothing good was going to come of it--not to even such abstract granfalloons as "the people" or "the nation", but to they themselves. Moreover, there's a human tendency to make it pretty easy to paint such behavior as noble.

Like I say--good misanthrope chow.

posted by Gar @ 3:23 PM
I was reading an article about Leni Riefenstahl the other day, speaking of competent evil bastards. What struck me is the total state of denial she was in over her role in the promotion of the Nazi idealogy. Thinking about it further, how can you live with yourself admitting the part you took in something like that and stay sane? Although some would argue she didn't, judging by the intersting fantasy world and matrix of excuses she constructed around herself.

I think she died in 2002 or 2003.
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