return


Heidegger’s scandal is not that he was attuned to the appeal of Being but that he was deaf to the lamentations of the earth.

– Anson Rabinbach, In the Shadow of Catastrophe (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997/2000), p. 117.

… in fascism, power had to express itself visually ….  the fascist aesthetic itself reflected the needs and hopes of contemporary society, …  the so-called superstructure was in reality the means through which most people grasped the fascist message, transforming politics into a civic religion.

… The ideal of beauty was central to this aesthetic, whether that of the human body or of the political liturgy. The longing for a set standard of beauty was deeply ingrained in the European middle classes, and the definition of the beautiful as the ‘good, the true, and the holy’ was an important background to the fascist cult.

… what seemed at first glance to have no possible connection to politics became politically charged through the connection between art, beauty and truth which lay readily at hand to be used by modern political movements.

… a certain public standard of beauty reigned all over Europe, one which fascism was to annex as its own. The rediscovery of classical antiquity in the eighteenth century set a standard of beauty which never lost its attraction for the educated [in many European countries in the interwar period who] saw it as their own particular heritage. They valued classical beauty of form whether of the human body or, to a lesser extent, of official architecture, as close to the sublime.

… it was the strength of fascism in general that it realized, as other political movements and parties did not, that with the nineteenth century Europe had entered a visual age, the age of political symbols, such as the national flag…. The populism of fascism helped the movement to arrive at this insight; the need to integrate the masses into a so-called spiritual revolution which represented itself through a largely traditional aesthetic.

… this aesthetic formed a bridge between the public and the private sphere…. The creation of modern stereotypes as standardized mental pictures which encompassed the whole human being, body and soul, was something new at the beginning of the nineteenth century…. Aesthetics played a determining role in stereotyping: every man must aspire to a classical standard of beauty, and as he built and sculptured his body (and we must remember the part played by physical exercise in the aesthetics of fascism), his mind would come to encompass all the manly virtues which the fascists prized so highly.

… significantly, such a body was not merely a fascist symbol, but one which had already been adopted by society at large. Here we are at the intersection between traditional, normative society, and fascist aesthetics; here the social and the aesthetic were not strictly separate one from another. The beautiful male body … projected both self-control in its posture and virility in the play of its muscles; it symbolized both the dynamic and the discipline which society wanted and needed. Here, order and progress, often in conflict, were reconciled through the symbolism of the male body …

Through stereotypes, fascism worked not only with abstract symbols but with living human symbols as well. The true fascist man must through his looks, body, and comportment, project the ideal of male beauty. Men of flesh and blood were given a symbolic dimension, a fact which added to the fascist appeal. Here was an aesthetic which was not confined to the public realm, but one which penetrated daily life.

… Aesthetics shaped the fascist view of man, of his surroundings and of politics. It was a cement which held fascism together.

George L. Mosse. “Fascist Aesthetics and Society: Some Considerations.” Journal of Contemporary History 31, no. 2 (1996): 245-52.

It makes sense … to reconsider nostalgia not as blindness but as sightfulness, which completes the modern experience of time with its insistent perception of disaster and its empathy to strangers stranded in the present.

Peter Fritzsche. “Specters of History: On Nostalgia, Exile, and Modernity.” The American Historical Review 106, no. 5 (2001): 1592.

Heightening the oral-aural element in a culture does much more than merely de-emphasize vision. It subtly heightens the personalist element in a culture. For the plenary development of sound, the human voice, is a manifestation of the person. Even more than it is a manifestation of an understanding of objects, speech is a calling of one person to another, of an interior to an interior. Sight presents always surfaces, presents even depth as a lamination of surfaces, whereas sound presents always interiors, for sound is impossible without some resonance.

– Walter J. Ong. “Wired for Sound: Teaching, Communications, and Technological Culture.” College English 21, no. 5 (1960): 248.

… modernity is always citing primal history…. Ambiguity is the appearance of dialectic in images, the law of dialectics at a standstill. This standstill is utopia and the dialectical image, therefore, dream image. Such an image is afforded by the commodity per se: as fetish. Such an image is presented by the arcades, which are house no less than street. Such an image is the prostitute — seller and sold in one.

Walter Benjamin, “Paris, the Capital of the Nineteenth Century” in The Writer of Modern Life: Essays on Charles Baudelaire (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2006), p. 41.

In the midst of a transfer from Tokyo to Korea
an old friend dropped by my neighborhood
including me, there were three of us former classmates in the neighborhood

I took his call because
my buddies were at the cinema showing
in the New World

I found in my desk my name card from before I was adopted
and wrote on it the plans for the farewell party
and told the other two

On the day we four were to meet at the hotel
I was first
on the terrace the fan had stopped but it was cool

In the fountain the children who had sneaked in
floated rubber fish
on the surface of my plans …

– Ito Shizuo in Kevin Doak’s Dreams of Difference (Berkeley, CA: U of California Press, 1994), pp. 65-66.

The child sees everything in a state of newness; he is always drunk. Nothing more resembles what we call inspiration than the delight with which a child absorbs form and colour. I am prepared to go even further and assert that inspiration has something in common with a convulsion, and that every sublime thought is accompanied by a more or less violent nervous shock which has its repercussion in teh very core of the brain The man of genius has sound nerves while those of the child are weak. With the one, Reason has taken up a considerable position; with the other, Sensibility is almost the whole being. But genius is nothing more nor less than childhood recovered at will — a childhood now equipped for self-expression with manhood’s capacities and a power of analysis which enables it to order the mass of raw material which it has involuntarily accumulated.

Charles Baudelaire, “The Painter of Modern Life” 1863. In Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays. Jonathan Mayne, trans. (London: Phaidon, 2006), p. 8.

The strengths and weaknesses of spiritual productivity depend far less on inherited talent than they do on the power of expansion bestowed with it. Most educated young people of thirty go back at around this early solstice of their lives and are from then on disinclined to make new spiritual changes. That is why an ongrowing culture at once needs for its salvation another new generation, which in its turn, however, does not get very far: for to overtake the culture of his father the son must consume almost all the inherited energy the father himself possessed at the stage of life at which he begot his son; it is with the little bit left over that he goes past him (for, because the path here being traversed a second time, progress is a little quicker; the son does not need to expend quite as much strength on learning what the father has learned). Men possessed of great power of expansion, such as Goethe for example, traverse as much as four generations would hardly be able to equal; for that reason, however, they advance ahead too quickly, so that other men overtake them only in the next century, and perhaps do not even completely overtake them, because the chain of culture, the smooth consistency of its evolution, is frequently weakened and interrupted. — The ordinary phases of spiritual culture attained to in the course of history are overtaken more and more speedily. Men at present begin by entering the ream of culture as children affected religiously and these sensations are at their liveliest in perhaps their tenth year, then pass over into feebler forms (pantheism) while at the same time drawing closer to science; they put God, immortality and the like quite behind them but fall prey to the charms of a metaphysical philosophy. At last they find this too unbelievable; art, on the other hand, seems to promise them more and more, so that for a time metaphysics continues just to survive transformed into art or as a mood of artistic transfiguration. But the scientific sense grows more and more imperious and leads the man away to natural science and history and especially to the most rigorous methods of acquiring knowledge while art it accorded an even gentler and more modest significance. All this nowadays usually takes place within a man’s first thirty years. It is the recapitulation of a curriculum at which mankind has been labouring for perhaps thirty thousand years.

– Aphorism 272 of Neitzsche’s Human, All Too Human (1878), R.J. Hollingdale trans. (Cambridge: 1996).

He who nowadays still commences his evolution from religious sensations, and perhaps after that lives for a time in metaphysics and art, has in any event gone back quite a distance and begins his race with other modern men under unfavourable circumstances: he appears to be at a disadvantage as regards both space and time. But because he has sojourned in those regions where heat and energy are unchained and power flows continually as a volcanic stream out of inexhaustible wells, provided he quits those domains at the proper time he moves forward all the faster, his feet have wings, his breast has learned to breather more placidly, with longer and more enduring breath. — He went back only so as to have sufficient ground for his leap: thus there can be even something fearful and threatening in this retrogression.

– Aphorism 273 of Neitzsche’s Human, All Too Human (1878), R.J. Hollingdale trans. (Cambridge: 1996).

Should poetry simply be divided up? Or should it remain one and indivisible? Or fluctuate between division and union? Most of the ways of conceiving a poetical world are still as primitive and childish as the old pre-Copernican ideas of astronomy. The usual classifications of poetry are mere dead pedantry desined for people with limited vision. Whatever somebody is capable of producing, or whatever happens to be in fashion, is the stationary earth at the center of all things. But in the universe of poetry nothing stands still. everything is developing and changing and moving harmoniously; and even the comets obey invariable laws of motion. But until the course of these heavenly bodies can be calculated and their return predicted, the true world system of poetry won’t have been discovered.

– Friedrich Schlegel’s fragment no. 434 from the Athenaeum Fragments (1798), trans. by Peter Firchow.

Next Page »