August 25, 2009

"Doesn't the perception of Hitler as an artist make him seem less evil?"

"No. In fact, his love of art led directly into the heart of evil. But neither is it the root of everything else."

44 comments:

Hoosier Daddy said...

Don't forget that Adolf also loved animals, dogs in particular. Was a vegetarian, environmentalist and eschewed smoking and drinking.

Hell if he was alive today I daresay he'd be shopping at Foods and driving a Prius with a Free Palestine bumpersticker.

NKVD said...

Is this another red meat post about Obama? We get it already!

Hoosier Daddy said...

Hey when the photographer took her picture did he say "Ok give me your most dour look. Here suck on this lemon first ja!"

David said...

"Hell if he was alive today I daresay he'd be shopping at Foods and driving a Prius with a Free Palestine bumpersticker."

Yeah, it's true. I was at a recent "opening" at a gallery in a artsy summer colony in Wisconsin. The crunchy granola PC crowd was all over the place, and they are still talking about how awful Bush was. They would like to free Palestine because freeing people and free stuff (watch out if you are near the buffet) are what it's all about.

The worst thing, though, is that Der Furher was a considerably better artist than most of what was on display.

NKVD said...

Just don't free Iraqis, because they aren't worth it.

Bissage said...

The things that Ms. Schwartz said in that interview make more sense if you read them out loud in the voice of Miss Jane Hathaway from "The Beverly Hillbillies."

Hoosier Daddy said...

Actually Bissage it can only be truly appreciated hearing it in the original Frau Farbissima dialect.

But then again I am a purist.

Lem said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Comrade X said...

It makes me look at artists clear-eyed. And poets.

Kirby Olson said...

Mao was a poet, and Stalin was apparently a very very good poet (his verses in Georgian are still considered excellent), Marx was also a poet (quite poor), as were many other shoddy thinkers -- some of the Serbian genocidal leaders considered themselves to be poets.

Some were.

Hitler's watercolors show (to my mind) a real talent. It can't be denied by anyone who is objective that Hitler could paint.

Churchill couldn't paint nearly as well, but he was the better writer.

I think this writer is on to something very powerful, and true. What amuses me about Hitler is that he wasn't just crazy, by any means. His clothes were always clean and looked decent, his hair always parted, and his moustache trimmed. He cared about fashion.

And he was a very powerful public speaker, who spoke very well about CHANGE, and how they needed to redistribute the wealth of Germany (especially wrt Jewish wealth) and this ignited the German people to follow him, like lemmings.

John Lynch said...

Not everyone comes from nowhere and nothing to take over the second greatest nation on the planet. Hitler wasn't a nonentity, and he didn't get there just by being ruthless.

Evil can have talent, too.

If Germany had won the war, we'd have a narrative that Hitler had rejuvenated decadent Western Civilization and saved it from Communism. Ugh.

If that sounds crazy, look at the treatment the Communists got with the same record, on the basis of winning World War II. Or what China gets away with in its treatment of its own people.

The danger of Hitler was that one evil person came so close to absolute power over so many people. No one else has ever come so close to world domination, which is the real reason people are still fascinated by him. I don't think that's healthy or normal, and it creeps me out.

Revenant said...

The danger of Hitler was that one evil person came so close to absolute power over so many people. No one else has ever come so close to world domination, which is the real reason people are still fascinated by him.

Stalin controlled more territory (and, I suspect, people). Mao controlled more people. Hitler was the most successful evil authoritarian ruler as of 1944, certainly -- but not the most successful one to date.

The reasons Hitler holds sway over our imaginations in a way Stalin was not are:

(1): We fought an open war with Hitler and won it. We never had a successful open war against Stalin or Mao.

(2): Most of the western political left were, and are, apologists for Communism. At a minimum it is seen as a well-meaning but misguided political movement.

(3): Germany came clean about its crimes (or, rather, was forced to). The Communist empires never had to.

David said...

Churchill and Eisenhower were both pretty good amateur painters. As warriors they kicked Hitler's butt.

Stalin lacked the bigotry of Hitler. Stalin would exterminate anyone, regardless of race, creed, color, religion or national origin.

traditionalguy said...

The replacement Messiah's coming in his own person that that Hitler announced, and used to win over the Germans (not to mention winning over Henry Ford and Joseph Kennedy) is also the Obama cult's favorite belief. Also his placement into power first came from aristocratic Germans who believed that they could easily control and use him. They over looked his "Art" lessons that had also made him into a spell binding practitioner of mind control. So, yes his "art" was the origin of his evil genius.

traditionalguy said...

Also, Hitler's art was a performance art or craft rather than the painting of watercolors.

Synova said...

"Stalin controlled more territory (and, I suspect, people). Mao controlled more people. Hitler was the most successful evil authoritarian ruler as of 1944, certainly -- but not the most successful one to date."

Maybe it wasn't the people who were evil. Or *maybe* everyone is evil. Each one of us. And the issue was power and control *only*.

Not that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, but that we are corrupt, each and every one of us, and should avoid giving *anyone* anything approaching unlimited power.

There's also CS Lewis's comments about how an evil man might rest from the evil he does but someone acting for your own good, out of virtue, will never rest. I think he was saying that the *best* person was also evil, but relentless.

Maybe this whole problem of the conception of evil at all, is tied to the modern insistence that we view our children as *good*, innocent and pure, until corrupted, not by their own natures, but by some outside force.

We've come to assume that "good" exists.

Balfegor said...

Mao was a poet.

I cannot comment on Comrade Mao's poetical style, since I don't read Chinese, but I do think he was a legitimate master of calligraphy. His work is some of the most beautiful that I've seen. For all that he was a mass-murdering psychopath.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Hitler's watercolors show (to my mind) a real talent. It can't be denied by anyone who is objective that Hitler could paint.

The fact that he was rejected by the Vienna Academy of Arts 'showed' that he didn't have talent. It might be interesting to see who they did pick. It seems to me he could have been. His not being picked contributed to the persecuted genius self perception. I wonder if he could have been socialized by an experience of the Academy.

NKVD said...

Hey, where is Cookie - he needs to remind us that the USA is the worst country in the history of the world and that every US president is a mass murderer and that, jeez, I get tired even trying to replicate that crackpot's tired rhetoric.

Sorry, Cookie, you will have to remind us about what horrible people we are and why you hate us and why you loves you some Nader.

Methadras said...

Let me get this straight? So Hitler's art is a direct reflection on how evil he was? I think these two things are mutually exclusive. He may have been a talented artist and thought himself so, but he was an evil being who just happened to be an artist. One of these things is not like the other.

Revenant said...

Maybe it wasn't the people who were evil. Or *maybe* everyone is evil. Each one of us. And the issue was power and control *only*.

Parents have absolute power over their children. But how many parents torture and kill disobedient kids?

MamaM said...

"Hitler's deluded view of himself as a genius is based on the confused system of thought emerging in the late 19th century, which centered on the idea that a genius -- a strong personality who outshone everything else -- could do anything and could do anything he pleased."

Is it possible for a president in the 21st century to have a similarly deluded view of himself?

NKVD said...

Uh, not enough? D'oh!

WV - updow - what Obama is praying for.

Synova said...

"Parents have absolute power over their children. But how many parents torture and kill disobedient kids?"

Well, obviously, some of them do. But in the end parents have a particular and unique connection to the well being of their children and, probably most importantly, the absolute power is temporary.

And parents, good ones anyhow, DO do some pretty heartless things for their child's own good. They have to. And they *do* control access to information and censor all sorts of stuff and force the kids to go to the church and be taught. And while they may not put kids to death for disobedience they do punish them for it with fines and confinement and spankings.

None of these things, all far short of mass murder, are powers we want to give to anyone else in any other situation, ever.

Bruce Hayden said...

"Doesn't the perception of Hitler as a socialist make him seem less evil?"

Here. This may work better. Or, at least set the blood boiling of the leftists out there who keep equating Bush and Hitler.

daubiere said...

hitlers paintings are mediocre and mechanical. some people only think theyre good now because even mediocrity seems outstanding in this debased age.

Cedarford said...

Hoosier Daddy said...
Don't forget that Adolf also loved animals, dogs in particular. Was a vegetarian, environmentalist and eschewed smoking and drinking.
Hell if he was alive today I daresay he'd be shopping at Foods and driving a Prius with a Free Palestine bumpersticker.


Add in that Hitler was a true idea man. His personal ideas on the Olympics symbols, union workers councils, animal rights, pension reform, state-led recovery from the Depression, the creation of a national Autobahn system were adapted, spread throughout Europe, and much of the rest of the world.

I think his turgid, 19th Century monumental architecture was horrible - 100 years out of the architectural mainstream. But his watercolors did show real talent.

Mind you that if Germany had avoided an existential war, much of the truly horrific things he did that happened as a function of total war would have been avoided. Hitler had no intent of a war that ruined the British Empire. Or armageddeon with the Bolsheviks. Like the Jews, he wanted the Bolsheviks driven out of Europe as a poison to Western civilization. He worked with workers and unions to provide an alternative to communism. He worked with Zionist leaders to get the Jews out of Europe and to some Homeland elsewhere else.

War changed everything. People do things in war they would never "cross the line" to doing in Peace. Hitler did, so did FDR and Truman. (If you could go back to 1938 and asked FDR if he would approve of interning all Japanese or then-Senator Truman if he would vote to drop bombs to incinerate whole cities in war - both men would be honestly outraged and indignant that someone would even suggest they would do something so MONSTROUS and EVIL) . Stalin already had "crossed the line".

What seemed to drive Hitler, mostly in the wrong direction, was that he was a highly decorated war hero who had seen the absolute worst of the fighting on the Front, most of the people he started with killed. He found essential meaning in combat, and developed lifelong hatreds from that War and it's aftermath. Not of the English Empire and French he faced and won two Iron Crosses against, but of those inside Germany he blamed on defeat. He learned in combat in WWI and shortly after that in combat with Bavarian communists - the value of Will, and Ruthlessness.

Similar war Vets later became leaders. Still inflamed by hatreds born of sheltering underneath maggot infested, rotting bodies of former comrades - or seeing betrayal on the Homefront that negated much of the toil and blood shed on the battlefield..Many were as misguided and dangerous as Hitler was, they just didn't achieve the level of destruction he did.

Balfegor said...

Here. This may work better. Or, at least set the blood boiling of the leftists out there who keep equating Bush and Hitler.

Perhaps. Of course, they'll just say that the left-wing bits were the good bits, but all the nasty bits just happened to be right-wing. The task isn't just to say "National Socialist => Leftist," but to explain how his communitarian socialist beliefs led directly to his obsession with purifying the racial mix of the community (and vice-versa -- much like with other progressives of his era, it's not like one clearly came before the other, as far as I am aware).

Hoosier Daddy said...

No one else has ever come so close to world domination, which is the real reason people are still fascinated by him.

Napoleon? The Ceasars? Actually I don't think Hitler was bent on world domination. His initial plans for the invasion of the Soviet Union were to destroy the Red Army west of the Dniper and pretty much stop there. His desire to conquer England was lackluster at best and the fact is, the best he could have hoped for was replacing the Soviets as the rival superpower to us and England had he actually defeated Stalin.

As Rev pointed out, Stalin controlled more territory and more people at the end of 1945 than Hitler did. Killed a helluva lot more people too but you won't see many on the left demonize him.

Penny said...

I suspect some bureaucratic money allocators gave this woman a grant to form a new hypothesis.

And she did!

William said...

I believe this whole cult of genius started with Napoleon. He was a commoner and an outsider who by his own hand crowned himself Emperor of Europe. Balzac, Stendhal, even Byron, idolized him. But if you compare the accomplishments of the two men, it is clear that Wellington was the true genius of his age.....He defeated Napoleon with numerically inferior forces during the Peninsular campaign and, of course, at Waterloo. His statesmanship at the Congress of Vienna gave Europe nearly a century of peace. Perhaps the greatest sign of his genius was that he was willing to subordinate his talents and power to the interests of his monarch. Perhaps for that reason he never really excited the enthusiasm of the poets and artists of his age the way Napoleon did. This was not a flaw of Wellington; rather it was and is a flaw of poets and artists......The sad thing is not that such men like Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro are second rate assholes but that they attract the admiration of first rate artists.

Revenant said...

Of course, they'll just say that the left-wing bits were the good bits, but all the nasty bits just happened to be right-wing.

Too true. One of my favorite left-wing idiots, Roger Ebert, had this to say in his review of the Che Guevara biopic, "Motorcycle Diaries":

Che Guevara makes a convenient folk hero for those who have not looked very closely into his actual philosophy, which was repressive and authoritarian. Like his friend Fidel Castro, he was a right-winger disguised as a communist.

A perfect example of what you're talking about: repression and authoritarianism are "right-wing", and in no way traits of communism. It is, presumably, sheer coincidence that one hundred percent of communist governments have been authoritarian and repressive. :)

Penny said...

"The sad thing is not that such men like Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro are second rate assholes but that they attract the admiration of first rate artists."

AND avid historians, William.

Kirby Olson said...

About twenty years ago Parade Magazine had a selection of Hitler's paintings with the usual tiny little story about how amazing it was that he painted at all. The rejection said that he had tremendous feeling for architecture but little feeling for people (in his painting).

The paintings that were shown were of massive architectural scenes of great city squares with the people as very small -- like ants.

I thought they were amazing in their own way. I couldn't have painted like that if I painted until the sun burned out. It was incredibly good in its own stiff way.

Much better than the elephant with a brush school that dominates much of abstract art, and which the elephants seem to do very well.

No elephant could paint as Hitler did.

Very few people could, either.

Those paintings are probably online somewhere, but I don't have time to google them, or now, bing them.

Rejection from a school doesn't mean lack of talent. It just means that a given talent doesn't fit the parameters of a given school.

Kirby Olson said...

Check out this watercolor for instance. The buildings are amazingly well done. The people in the canvas are quite amusingly awkward by comparison. But I just checked "Hitler's watercolors" and there are hundreds and hundreds of them -- some are even better than this one, but it's representative. How many people could ever paint this well, especially with watercolors?

I never could even if I had three hundred lives to live.

http://www.uncp.edu/home/rwb/hitartvienna.JPG

Kirby Olson said...

Just imagine trying to get the lamp-post to the right, for instance. What an amazingly steady hand it would take to get this kind of detail!

I doubt if anyone who comes to this blog could paint like that, even if they had a thousand years (an entire Reich) to do it in.

I know I couldn't do it.

It seems impossible that he could get all that detail.

Of course the scene is somewhat bland, but you get something about the heroism of architecture.

The people are extremely comical by comparison. Look at some of the ones in the foreground. Why are they so awkward compared to the gorgeous building in the back, in which the horse is done so perfectly on top of the building?

Synova said...

"Just imagine trying to get the lamp-post to the right, for instance. What an amazingly steady hand it would take to get this kind of detail!"

Doing everything free-hand is a lie they tell you in Elementary School. ;-)

Theo Boehm said...

Oh, was für ein Kunstler der Führer war!

Looks like people are getting teary-eyed and beginning to hum "Ich Hatt' Ein' Kamaraden."

By the time midnight roll around, everyone will have had enough beer and be singing the "Horst Wessel Song."

May I suggest another tune?

Oh, how I miss ze hills und dales und vales und trails of old Bavaria
Oh, it's such bliss to kiss the Miss I miss like this in old Bavaria
Oh, ze meadows und ze mountains und ze sky
Not to mention hordes of brown shirts passing by...
Bring a tear to every single Nazi eye
In old - I'm talking old - Bavaria!

Theo Boehm said...

I seem to have left off the second 's' in 'rolls,' above.
But I'm not going to delete my comment to correct it.
Not at all.
It would spoil the flow and rhythm.
You see, I, too, am an artist.

PatCA said...

Hoosier Daddy hits the nail on the head--Hitler did not come from the right, he came from the left, courtesy of the Romantic movement and the French Revolution. An artist would fit right in.

Penny said...

If Art makes someone more human, then why the hell is Bob floating around out there?

Oligonicella said...

Synova --

"And parents, good ones anyhow, DO do some pretty heartless things for their child's own good."

Perhaps you might tell us what you consider heartless.

Synova said...

Heartless FOR THEIR OWN GOOD. Genuinely for their own good.

Like... holding them down while they are in an utter screaming panic at the dentist.

Saying "no" when they are in crying despair over something or other instead of saying "yes" even though you could.

*Making* them get shots or have a surgery or do any of the various and rather frequent things that MUST be done, but that hurt or are very scary.

I'm not taking "heartless" to mean "capricious." I'm taking "heartless" to mean those things that a parent has to harden their heart for because if you were soft-hearted or permissive it would actually be bad for your child.

Children DO have a limited capacity and parental authority IS temporary.

We would not want government to have that sort of authority in part because any time in history that government HAS had that authority they try to take care of people and seem compelled to do things "for our own good." And also because governments seem to insist on treating people like children and it is *not* temporary.

Some people seem to think that what makes something *bad* for government to compel is that it is *bad* and not the compulsion itself. Consequently they see no difference between forced redistribution of wealth and charity, for example.

I could probably make far better choices for my 17 and 18 year olds than they could make for themselves. It would *still* be very wrong for me to do so, even if it saved them all sorts of hurt.

The Crack Emcee said...

Looking at the example provided by Kirby Olsen:

O.K. - so YOU couldn't do it - but, for those of us who can, Hitler's art was stiff, meandered between realism and cartooning, and his perspective was awful - revealed, both, in this work and eventual outlook - all statements that could also describe Naziism.

Get over it: the guy was a piker.