Archive for March, 2012

Enough of that.

March 11, 2012

That last post took all of the serious out of me. Here’s a little rabbit getting a bath.

(via)

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Reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

March 11, 2012

I’m slowly working through The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and outside of that just happened upon a quote:

We know now that a man can read Goethe or Rilke in the evening, that he can play Bach and Schubert, and go to his day’s work at Auschwitz in the morning. -George Steiner, professor and writer (b. 1929)

While true, I think the quote is somewhat incomplete. The Nazi beliefs and values that lead to such horrible actions did not just occur in spite of a cultured life. While it was incorrect to do so, Nazi leaders read into the works of prior authors, musicians and artists a historical cultural backdrop–one that effectively condoned dictatorship, war and mass violence as a means to control and destroy “lesser” people. It’s a little complex to explain, but the mere fact that one listens to Bach or Wagner does not indicate what one hears in it. In the end, mass murder does not seem to be an animalistic tendency–when a wolf looks at a flock of sheep, it does not think “delete all.” It looks for the weak and easy to kill, for its own survival. Animal turf wars end when one side gives in and–usually–is allowed to leave. Auschwitz is a cultural phenomenon–a ruthless domination based on feelings of inherent superiority coupled with a philosophical tendency toward war over peace as the propagator of nations. Those idiotic beliefs came from a twisted reading of civilized culture, not in spite of it. 

Anyway, enough of that. 

Tolkien’s Letter to German publisher, 1938

March 7, 2012

From Letters of Note: J.R.R. Tolkien’s response to a German publishing company’s request for proof of his Aryan descent. This was written in 1938, during talks of translating his new book, The Hobbit.

I’ll just post a blip of it, go to Letters of Note for the rest (it’s a great site).

Thank you for your letter. I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. 

I’m currently reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and have had a hard time handling the racism that passed not just as Nazi policy, but as a cultural philosophy preceding Hitler’s rabid nationalism. It’s an important book to get through. I’ll do it… others had to actually live it. Tolkien, at least to a small extent, registered his dissent.