Today’s post is the first in a series dealing with German literary theorist Klaus Theweleit’s two-volume work on the fantasies embedded in the literature of the far right in Germany after World War I, leading up to the Nazi state. I first wrote the entry below in my philosophical journal on the date indicated. The entry–and all but one of those to follow in the series–concern the fist volume of Theweleit’s work: Male Fantasies, Volume 1. Women, Floods, Bodies, History, translated by Stephen Conway (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987–original German edition, 1977).
We can learn much from Theweleit’s study, much of importance for addressing not just the rise of Nazism and the death camps in Germany in the 1930s, but also the waging of the American “war on terror” since 9/11–and for addressing trauma in general.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Klaus Theweleit, Male Fantasies, Volume 1–a treatment of the affects revealed in the German military right “soldier male” writings and art about, especially, women.
The process of naming is of great significance [compare, for example, the resurgence today of so called “right to work” laws!], characteristic as it is of the formation of all the central fascist concepts, at the core of which there always lies some displacement of the kind seen [below, in his list at the end of the passage I’m citing]. Thus the language of the fascists may be seen to take on something of the features of a secret [or code] language–though it protects itself from “decipherment” by appearing so utterly inane. Self-styled critics from the bourgeois intelligentsia (like the German Communist party in the 1920s) all too readily accept the implication of that inanity, namely that it is something not worth troubling themselves with. The bourgeois intelligentsia withdraws with an aloof smile on its own complicit lips [complicit, I’d say, “despite itself,” perhaps (to be charitable), in and through that very withdrawal].
Then, after a space break at the end of this paragraph, he lists such a slippage/displacement of names, all in italics: “Erotic male-female relationships–violent, unfeeling woman–threat to the man–dirt, vulgarity–prostitution–proletarian woman–communism.”
Consider: “reverse discrimination”–affirmative action–“discrimination”–“racism.”
The right continues to be master of–and mastered by–such political acts of mis-naming!