Scroll down for Amygdala archives! You know you want to. [Temporarily rather borked, along with rest of template.]
Amygdala's endorsements are below my favorite quotations! Keep scrolling!
Amygdala will move to an entirely new and far better blog template ASAP, aka RSN, aka incrementally/badly punctuated evolution.
Tagging posts, posts by category, next/previous post indicators, and other post-2003 design innovations are incrementally being tweaked/kludged/melting.
Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
Commenting Rules: Only comments that are courteous and respectful of other commenters will be allowed. Period.
You must either open a Google/Blogger.com/Gmail Account, or sign into comments at the bottom of any post with OpenID, LiveJournal, Typepad, Wordpress, AIM account, or whatever ID/handle available to use. Hey, I don't design Blogger's software: sorry!
Posting a spam-type URL will be grounds for deletion.
Comments on posts over 21 days old are now moderated, and it may take me a long while to notice and allow them.
I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.
"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
THOSE WACKY NAZIS. Watched Downfall last night. Thought it was about as good as most said it was.
Very convincing, overall, even though obviously some bits had to have been (and were) imagined; but vast amounts came from the various accounts of those who survived der Bunker (conscious though we must be that all accounts are filtered, and altered in memory, even when not consciously so, of course).
Like so many (as evidenced by the joke about the History Channel being the Hitler Channel, and the unbelievable number of documentaries and books on various things Nazi -- endlessly more than one finds about the Japanese militarists, though there's quite a bit of scholarship there, too -- but nothing approaching the number of works about the Nazis, and even less for the actual Fascists of Mussolini's Italy -- who even musters enough respect for Mussolini and the Fascists to make fun of them, anymore, let alone take an interest in them, beyond scholars?), I find the story of the Nazis and Hitler compulsively fascinating, if I'm in the mood to deal with the subject.
I first read William L. Shirer's Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich somewhere between 10 and 12, off my parents bookshelf; read it again circa age 14, and then again a few years later (often it seems like I did about 94% of my important reading before age 16; but, then, I compulsively read thousands of books before age 18, usually several a day).
Then Speer's memoirs, and countless more books on the Nazi regime as the years passed, along with books on endless digressive topics, on innumerable other aspects of WWII, the Depression, the Twenties, Versaille, WWI, colonialism, anti-Semitism, further history of Europe, Hannah Arendt, Nazis, the Nuremberg trials, everyone's memoirs, etc., etc., etc. (Hey, I even read David Irving's Churchill's War and Hitler's War; can't know how much I disagree or not with a guy's views if I haven't read them.)
Such a bizarre story; so fictional-seeming; such implausible characters.
Not an easy topic to write about; not at all; I doubt there's anything left unsaid, and what is there to write about the Nazis, and Hitler, that isn't banal and cliche and over-said?
Downfall (Der Untergang) does a good job of showing a plausible view of the people, both of their extremes as we know of them, and of the way they were likely human, as well.
Many, of course, felt that the film went too far in humanizing the Nazis and Hitler, and so on; such debate is inevitable, no matter how a portrayal is done. Part of my desire to see the film, after having read so many eassays about it when it came out, was to satisfy my own curiosity as to how I'd judge it so; I judge it sufficient and I was not disturbed; I've never doubted that Hitler was kind to his dog Blondi, or otherwise human, and that knowledge certainly changes my opinion of him in not the slightest iota. And the same for the rest of the gang, of course.
Having read endless other accounts of the Last Days in der Bunker, none of the movie came as a surprise (and, yeah, I've seen several other film versions, as well).
But. Most unexpected wacky moment: Hitler and Eva Braun (well-played as the not-very-bright, almost idiotic, but still human, character she's always been said to have been) are seated before the minor official brought in to marry them. Dialogue: "My Fuhrer, I... the Race Laws require me to ask you this: My Fuhrer, are you of pure Aryan descent?" "Yes" "May I see your ID?" Goebbels leans in and says: "You're talking to der Fuhrer." "Yes, sir." (Actually, "sehr gut," I think, "very good.")
And they continue. But it's so purely captures, somehow, the insanity of it all.
The actor who plays Goebbels, Ulrich Matthes, frighteningly captures the aura of Goebbels, somehow, even just when standing around and saying nothing at all, by the way. But everyone else was convincing, as well.
Hardest scene to watch: Magda Goebbels offing her kids. (If you ever want to read any of her husband's work, by the way, here is the place to do it; it has its lessons, shall we say.)
While it's impossible to rank the innumerable and various Nazi atrocities against each other -- how does one say that the "medical" experimentation is worse than the scale of the death camps, or the arbitrary cruelty, or the killing of the children, and so on? -- there are ways in which Goebbels is strangely one of the easiest to hate, simply because his words are left with us, if we choose to read them, and because they epitomized the poisonous hatred and dishonesty of the regime, and affected so many so, even if he was less directly responsible for deaths in the way Himmler, say, was.
Contemplating the Nazis always makes me contemplate the nature of hatred: is it ever right? Is it right or wrong to hate the haters? What should one feel? What does one feel? Is hatred different from despisal? How do I and should I feel about similar people today, the Charles Taylors and Milosevics?
Sometimes I hate them and sometimes I despise them, and yet these feelings and thought seem so small in response to such vast and terrible crimes. And, of course, the word "crimes" seems infinitely small compared to their deeds.
It's all a bit much.
But I come back to it, time and again. Because we still have too many events around the world such as this.
The people who do such things are still all around us. And none of them are, either, cartoons.
Read The Rest Scale on that last: 4.5 out of 5. No, I haven't seen Blind Spot yet. Eventually. Ditto, I suppose, Max.
Prior mentions of Traudl Junge here and here. Last mention of a similar, less important, Nazi here. Prior passing mention of the film here. Here is one negative view of the film. Another.
ADDENDUM, 1:09 p.m.: The little "making of" documentary on the DVD has a bit on St. Petersburg, where exteriors were filmed, and the on-camera interviewee/narrator is speaking English, unlike the rest of the film and documentary, which is in German, of course, and I'm watching the version with the English subtitles; but at this bit in the documentary, we hear the Russian guy talking in English, a German narrator/translator speaking over him in German, and then see that put back into English subtitles.
The reflexive, insane, compulsive legalism in asking der Fuhrer for his ID is just so... nuts.
And so unthinkingly crazy as so much Nazi thinking was, much though I don't mean to dismiss such thinking with a mere label such as "crazy" or "nuts," as is so commonly and easily done.
But in the senses that such thinking is difficult to find sensible, and almost difficult to find believable, and to fit it into our (or mine, anyway) sense of reality, such words can and do apply, so long as we don't reduce our understanding of the complexities to such simplicities, I think.
I also found a touch of black humor in the Nazi salutes everyone gives to the burning corpses of Hitler and Braun, held for a few moments, until another shell comes whistling in, and everyone runs for their lives. That also somehow seemed to epitomize something or other, although I'm not quite sure what, yet. The clinging to formalism and worship of authority, even in the face of absolute defeat, death, destruction, and failure, perhaps.
I do think it would have been nice if there had been a bit more acknowledgement in the closing tags on What Happened to various folks of the fact that Professor-Doctor-Colonel Schenck, Mohnke, and others weren't exactly noble guys, which it's true you could get an impression they were from the film alone. But I'm not outraged (and, really, it's not as if it's difficult for me to access my general outrage at the Nazis, to put it mildly). And the error in stating Bormann's fate is a bit odd. But these are, I think, relatively smalll matters in the great scheme of the matter.
Anyway, I'm glad I saw it, I'd tend to recommend it, and I'll probably see it again in a couple of years or so. I do think it's extremely important the people see these folks as human, so as to understand how the majority of Germans could support them, and how people everywhere can fall into such thinking, and support such a regime, without being cartoons, or other than normal, and in most cases, what we'd otherwise see as "decent" human beings in most situations. That, I think, is the most important lesson of the Nazis, the Fascists, and those like them. It's humans who do these unspeakable things, not "animals," or The Other. That's the lesson.
I'm going to have to check it out sometime. Like you, I read Rise and Fall when I was 12 and again when I was in my early 20's. Nazi Germany's rise, cruelty, and fall has always fascinated me. Up until a few years ago, I had always asked myself, "How could people do this and tolerate this?"
The last few years have been instructive, as to how mindsets allow stuff like this to happen and propagate. I might read Rise and Fall again and see if the last few years provide better insight into the events that took place.
I also think one of the best books I've read recently is Hitler's Willing Executioners, which takes to task the traditional German rationalization that it was "those guys" who did everything and how the rest of them were too scared to speak up and went along with it.
Now that I've seen the mindset presented in the book in action here in the States, I don't doubt now that most Germans didn't care, because it was happening to the Jews (whom most of them distrusted and disliked anyway), the gypsies, the Homosexuals, and everyone else the a majority of German society had always held in contempt.
Yeah, I read Goldhagen very shortly after HWE came out; in the mental space I inhabit, the book was endlessly debated, and I'd read dozens and dozens of reviews and essays about it within just the first few weeks; although fairly controversial, I'm afraid that I'm pretty sympathetic to much of the view he explicates; this after, as I've said, having read several hundreds of relevant books, as well as something close to a hundred books on the history and various events of the very very very very very long story of a few thousand years of anti-Semitism.
It's not that, of course, I hold every German alive at the time with personal responsibility for the death camps; that would certainly go ludicrously too far, and neither do I, of course, in the slightest blame those Germans born since.
Nor would I, of course, claim that all Germans at the time were anti-Semitic; obviously, a certain significant number were not, and many who were were relatively minorly so.
But, on the other hand, there were those who resisted the regime, and yet the numbers were comparatively small, there was much that many could have done that they did not, and that there was widespread at best apathy and lack of concern for the Jews -- a sort of active lack of concern, oxymoronic as that might be, and a widespread indigenous anti-Semitism (hardly limited in Europe to the Germans, of course; I don't let the rest of Europe off scott-free for that, either) is clear.
So, no, sadly, I'm not too inclined to argue with much of Goldhagen, I'm afraid.
But what I really don't want to get started on are my rants about the lack of real (by my standards) de-Nazification, or sufficient attention to punishing the war criminals, by both the American administrations and the German, until a few belated efforts for a relative handful of major criminals started in the Seventies, far too late for anything resembling "justice" to be done (and, again, this applies not just to Germany, but to the vastly colloborative French and other Europeans, Poles, Italians, and onwards), and, for that matter, similar lack of justice in Japan -- all this largely for needs of "necessity" of administration (in some cases somewhat justified for a time, to be sure, but not remotely as much as was claimed and then ignored), and then for the sake of the Cold War -- hell, we let off all of Austria with a fucking myth that they were "victims," rather than as bad as the Germans (Hitler being, of course, Austrian being only the cherry on top of that, with The Sound Of Music being the whipped cream), for the sake of keeping them "neutral" in the Cold War. But, like I said, don't get me started; there's where my outrage really starts to rise. (And then we can branch out onto Pat Buchanan's and Ronald Reagan's apologetics -- hard to say who is worse, there, the quasi-proto-fascist Buchanan is, or the fucking President of the United States honoring members of the SS as "victims" in a speech heard round the world on live tv. It's around this point that I start spewing expletives incoherently, so I'll stop now.)
Slightly off the point, but thanks for the pointer to the Goebbels collection. I looked at a couple of pieces (New Year's Eve 1943 and the response to the Normandy landings), and realized, That guy is GOOD!
In a technical, not a moral sense, you understand.
A bit long-winded, to be sure; but then he was addressing Germans: people with better education and a far stronger intellectual tradition than Karl Rove's target audience. (This would say something about the effectiveness of education and intellectual traditions in protecting against mad evil, but it has all been said already.)
His current would-be emulators could learn some lessons from him, and I suppose it's to be hoped that they don't. Compared to, say, LGF, his vituperation is limited in extent and in tone; his message, as he tries to pull his nation through a difficult time, is largely positive and uplifting. There are whole sentences, maybe even paragraphs, in which you'd hardly notice that his cause was monstrous. Try to imagine O'Reilly working that way.
Post a Comment