Saturday, August 31, 2013

I do...I really do!

My Girlfriend

My Girlfriend

Miley Cyrus is my girlfriend
ours is a new uncharted
form of companionship

She is my lovely assistant
She hates my sweaters
She sings me hymns
from her planet

That’s when I say,
“Welcome, Baby,
to this upside down world
of singing ornaments”

Charley Foster (via charleyfoster)

A Chinese Red Swastica Member holding a flag circa 1937

Friday, August 30, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Uh Oh...Here I go again

This is a cat begging for money in Minsk, Belarus. He stays on one place with a note that reads “need money for meat and fish, bless you”. He doesn’t leave his place and protects the money. His owner, an old woman, was found nearby. She said that she had rescued the cat from the streets, but at that time she had already owned 6 cats and couldn’t feed them all, so she decided to let the cat earn money for itself.
This is a cat begging for money in Minsk, Belarus. He stays on one place with a note that reads “need money for meat and fish, bless you”. He doesn’t leave his place and protects the money. His owner, an old woman, was found nearby. She said that she had rescued the cat from the streets, but at that time she had already owned 6 cats and couldn’t feed them all, so she decided to let the cat earn money for itself.

Homer, The Iliad

Mitsuko Nagone

    The problem with Christian opposition to idolatry is that the Doctrine of Incarnation postulates that God really became incarnate in matter.  The Body of Christ is literally an idol (although a true idol per Orthodoxy).  Furthermore, from the standpoint of Alexandrian theology, the whole point of the incarnation is so that we can become like God through the example of Christ, divinization, e.g. icons of Christ.  Otherwise, the whole thing is pointless; you should just give up and study Aristotle or something.

    Without saints, and icons and relics, you end up with a God that is just some occult metaphysical abstraction that saves us through some occult metaphysical process in some occult metaphysical by and by.  Why not just worship God in an occult metaphysical way too? That is, why not just be nice and think positively?  Why make a gesture of prayer or come together in a gesture of worship at all? Obviously, if we look up when we pray, then aren’t we suggesting that God is some kind of being up in the sky?  If we speak, aren’t we suggesting that God has ears and can hear us?  (And if he has ears, why can’t we draw them?)  How is this any different from kissing an icon?

    Or even better, isn’t the idea of a God that is not, in some sense, really physically present in matter a vacuous and meaningless idea?  And isn’t that the central foundation of a vacuous and meaningless “contemporary” spirituality?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

NOTHING is unexpected in Japanese Pop Culture

Forever Ultra

Delicious,subtle buzz from my Black Label. 
Long day of unwanted activity.
Of course all the nice inebriated relaxation is doing is making me miss someone I still love but cannot contact. 
So I let it run it's melancholy course as I pretend that missing her doesn't bother me any more.
Sometimes I infinitely hate myself.

Well look at that


Paint, infinite

Joseph Decker, 1887

William Turner (1775‑1851) Part of Sky, Etc.  date not known  Watercolour on paper

michael borremans

Edgar Degas: Village (Monotypie)

Peasant Burning Weeds, early Vincent van Gogh

Jean-Antoine Watteau, Deux Cousines, c. 1716

Van Gogh Museum 3D Prints Its Own Paintings

Van Gogh Relievos on view in the Harbour City mall in Hong Kong (image via Harbour City on Facebook)
Van Gogh Relievos on view in the Harbour City mall in Hong Kong (image via Harbour City on Facebook)
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has begun 3D printing reproductions of a handful of paintings in its own collection, taking art in the age of mechanical reproduction to a whole new level.
The limited-edition reproductions, called Relievos, are the result of a technology developed through a partnership between the museum and Fujifilm. The museum’s press release explains:
The special 3D technique, by means of which these reproductions are produced, goes by the name of Reliefography. This technique is a combination of a three-dimensional scan of the painting and a professional, high-resolution print. A Relievo consists of a faithful reproduction of the front of the painting, as well as of the back and comes in a frame. … Size, colour, brightness and texture are reproduced as accurately as possible to create a full-scale premium 3D replica of a Van Gogh painting. The final result has been approved by the curator of the museum.
The Relievos currently on offer are van Gogh’s “Almond Blossom” (1890), “Sunflowers” (1889), “The Harvest” (1888), “Wheatfield under Thunderclouds” (1890) and “Boulevard de Clichy” (1887). According to the Guardian, they cost £22,000 each (about $34,250).
Detail of a Relievo of van Gogh's "Wheatfield under Thunderclouds" (courtesy Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, via (click to enlarge)
Detail of a Relievo of van Gogh’s “Wheatfield under Thunderclouds” (courtesy Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, via (click to enlarge)
That’s a hefty sum for a reproduction, but it’s also a hell of a lot less than you’d pay for an actual van Gogh. (The artist shows up seven times on this list of the most expensive paintings ever sold.) The price also indicates the purpose of the Relievos, at least in part: to raise money for the museum’s renovation and collection upkeep. Somewhere between the gift shop and the gallery lies the Relievo.
The press release also gives education reasons for the new venture, namely that the “availability and accessibility of the works of art can be enhanced” and that viewers will be able to touch the Relievos, offering a new kind of museum experience, especially for blind people. While I sort of accept this, in particular its usefulness for those who can’t see, I also resist it: if you’re not offering the actual, original artwork for examination and experience, are you really increasing its availability and accessibility? In other words, will touching a fake van Gogh offer visitors something that looking at a real one can’t?
Anyway, education is all well and good, but tellingly, the Relievos collection was launched last month in a mall in Hong Kong. In a fine bit of journalism, the Guardian asked Axel Rüger, director of the Van Gogh Museum, if he didn’t think people would rather spend that amount of money on an original painting by another artist rather than a limited-edition van Gogh knockoff. He replied, ”These are separate markets.”
Separate markets, indeed, and Rüger certainly knows his. Who needs originals when there are sanctioned fakes for sale?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

JON SASAKI Hang In There, 2012

Seeing straight

Peter Thonemann

Richard Bradley
The circular archetype in prehistoric Europe
264pp. Oxford University Press. £60 (US $110).
978 0 19 960809 6
Andrew Meirion Jones
Becoming material in prehistoric Britain and Ireland
256pp. Oxford University Press. £60 (US $110).
978 0 19 955642 7
Peter S. Wells
Vision, patterns, and the shaping of the mind in prehistoric times
304pp. Princeton University Press. £24.95 (US $35).
978 0 691 14338 5

Published: 3 July 2013
Peter Thonemann in the TLS An aerial image of Boscawen-Un Stone Circle, St Buryan, Cornwall Photograph: Robert Harding/Getty Images
L ook around the room you are sitting in now. How many right angles can you see? Book-spines, the ceiling, picture frames, door panels, the capital T and L at the bottom of this page, this page itself. Now spare a thought for a young domestic servant working at a Christian mission in Malawi in the late nineteenth century, whose experience was recorded by Robert Laws in Women’s Work at Livingstonia (1886):
“In laying the table there is trouble for the girl. At home her house is round; a straight line and the right angle are unknown to her . . . . Day after day therefore she will lay the cloth with the folds anything but parallel with one edge of the table. Plates, knives and forks are set down in a confusing manner, and it is only after lessons often repeated and much annoyance that she begins to see how things might be done.”
Vision is a form of cognition: the kinds of things we see shape the ways we think. That is why it is so hard to imagine the visual experience of our prehistoric ancestors, or, for that matter, the girls of nineteenth-century Malawi, who lived in a world without right angles. Inhabitants of, say, late Neolithic Orkney would only have seen a handful of perpendicular lines a day: tools, shaped stones, perhaps some simple geometric decoration on a pot. For the most part, their world was curved: circular buildings, round tombs, stone circles, rounded clay vessels.
What does a round building mean? Does it mean anything, or is the choice of one shape of house over another simply a matter of practicalities? It is, for instance, easy to build extensions on to a rectangular building, since extra rooms can simply be added onto the sides or end; if the owners of an Iron Age roundhouse want a bigger living room, they have little choice but to knock the whole thing down and start again. Roundhouses are more storm- and wind-resistant, while parts of a rectangular house can more easily be partitioned or closed off, to provide privacy or a secure storage place. But this is obviously not the whole story. None of these practical arguments applies to a burial mound, which might as well take the form of a rectangular barrow as a round tumulus. So when we find that prehistoric Europeans who lived in roundhouses also tended to build circular wall circuits around their towns, to erect round tombs to their dead, and to worship their gods in circular temples or enclosures, it becomes clear – as Richard Bradley argues in his absorbing new book – that we are dealing not solely, or even primarily, with a practical choice, but with a particular way of seeing the world: an “Idea of Order”, as his title suggests.
What does a round building mean? Does it mean anything, or is the choice of one shape of house over another simply a matter of practicalities?
Circles, unlike rectangles, are common in the natural world (fungi, the moon, the pupil of the human eye), and it is probably no coincidence that, with a few exceptions, prehistoric Europeans seem to have started off as circle-people. Roundhouses have traditionally been favoured by hunter-gatherers and pastoralist societies, while farmers prefer rectilinear structures (round cattle-byres, but square barns). Conversion to the right angle came at different points in different regions. In Britain, a long local tradition of roundhouses went into a steep decline after the Roman conquest, although, as Bradley notes, the inhabitants of Roman Britain and northern Gaul retained a most un-Roman preference for circular temples right down through the Roman period. The last part of Europe to retain a strong tradition of round buildings was Ireland, where circular earthworks (“raths”) and roundhouses remained the norm well into the early medieval period. Royal centres like Tara and Uisneach continued to be dominated by great circular and figure-of-eight enclosures. It was only with the Christianization of Ireland that the right angle finally triumphed here too: the early medieval island hermitage of Illaunloughan contained four traditional roundhouses but, ominously, a square Christian church and shrine, reflecting the shape of things to come.
Might a preference for round buildings also reflect a fundamentally different, perhaps more egalitarian mindset? Although a circle has an obvious centre – the place usually occupied by the hearth in the prehistoric roundhouse – it has no front or back, and it is more difficult to express status distinctions through the organization of space in a round building. British megalithic stone circles usually lack a clear focal point, and, as Bradley tentatively suggests, “It may be that the circular plan was intended to play down the distinctions between different people, employing a similar principle to the seating plan at King Arthur’s round table”. The stone circles in Orkney are made up of rocks from several different quarries, suggesting that “different communities could have contributed their labour on equal terms with other groups”; furthermore, if the individual monoliths were regarded as symbols of human figures, they “could have stood for the community rather than particular individuals”.
These kinds of idea have a long history. In the early 1930s, the Soviet city planner Mikhail Okhitovich claimed that the right angle in architecture originated in private land ownership: curvilinear structures, whether they be round buildings or chairs with curved backs, were therefore communist in principle. The best-known round building in the ancient Greek world is probably the Athenian tholos, a large circular structure in the south-west corner of the agora, the central public space of ancient Athens. This building served as a public dining and assembly hall for the prytaneis, the presiding officers of the Athenian democratic council, who seem to have dined sitting on benches around the edge of the circle. The tholos was built in the early fifth century BC over the ruins of a lavish rectilinear private house, which has attractively (if speculatively) been identified as the residence of the sixth-century Pisistratid tyrant dynasty, demolished and replaced by the new Athenian democratic regime in the last decade of the sixth century. Few archaeologists of Athens can resist the temptation to interpret the architectural form of the tholos, Okhitovich-style, as a straightforward reflection of the new egalitarian values of the radical Athenian democracy.
The problem with this approach, seductive though it is, lies in the whole idea that a building can “reflect”, “stand for” or “represent” something else. As Andrew Meirion Jones points out in Prehistoric Materialities, very many archaeologists (Bradley among them) believe that architecture can always be read “as a spatialized symbol of an underlying social order – a representation”. Jones is unconvinced by the notion that artefacts, whether buildings, pots or stone circles, can simply be reduced to vehicles for symbolic communication or “ciphers for social formations”. Instead, he insists that sites and artefacts take on meanings only through our own repeated interactions with them.
What does my kitchen “symbolize”? In itself, as a bit of architecture, nothing much; it’s just a long thin room with a fridge and cooker at one end. But if you watched us doing things in it for a couple of hours – me sitting over here, Sarah sitting over there, Alex using the room indiscriminately as an assault course – you would probably learn quite a lot about the underlying social dynamics of the Thonemann household. As Jones puts it, “architecture involves a process of interaction in which materials impinge upon, or interact with, the human performer; architecture is composed of materials that are performed”. That is to say, it is only bit by bit, through repeated, habitual actions, that buildings and objects get invested with meaning and significance. It is wishful thinking to suppose that we can read off the character of the Late Neolithic social order in Orkney from the ground plan of a roundhouse: we have to know what people did in the house, where objects were kept, even – as Jones argues – how light and shadow changed the appearance of the interior at different times of the day and year.
Architecture involves a process of interaction in which materials impinge upon, or interact with, the human performer; architecture is composed of materials that are performed
Jones’s “performative” approach to material culture has a lot going for it, and it is a pity that his prose is so hard going. It may well be true that “archaeological categories are composed of repetitious material performances with each category being made up of referentially related materials”, but there has got to be a clearer way of putting it. Jones could learn a thing or two from Peter Wells, whose How Ancient Europeans Saw the World covers much of the same ground (and a lot more besides) in beautifully crisp and elegant English. Wells is concerned with the visual experience of the European Bronze and Iron Ages (roughly the last two millennia BC), and, in particular, with what he identifies as two revolutions in visual culture.
The first revolution occurred in around 500 BC, with the emergence in northern Europe of what is commonly known as “Celtic Art” (better described as the Early La Tène Style: “Celts”, like “Aryans”, are a modern invention). For a millennium and a half, from say 2000 to 500 BC, north European pottery, jewellery, swords and scabbards had usually been decorated with regular geometrical patterns. This sedate repertoire of triangles, spirals, zig-zags and rectangles was abruptly replaced around 500 BC by an explosion of strange curvy things. Prestigious objects are now covered in swinging S-scrolls, weird hybrid creatures, squiggly tendrils and labyrinthine patterns: the Battersea Shield (c.350–50 BC), in the British Museum, is a famous example of the style.
Wells must surely be right that we are dealing not just with new artistic techniques, but with “a whole new way of seeing”. If we want to see the dragons and whirling horses of the Early La Tène style through Iron Age eyes, we have to picture them not under the hard, clear glare of museum spotlights, but moving back and forth through firelight and shadow. “Flickering light creates patterns of illumination and shadows that give objects decorated with zoomorphic ornament a lifelike character, almost as if the creatures are moving with the light.” For Wells, the ambiguity of Early La Tène animal figures – is it a deer, a horse, or something in between? – was part of the point; these strange shapes were designed “to make people look, to attract and hold their attention, to engage them in fascination and problem-solving”.
The origins of this exuberant new ornamental style are still obscure. Wells, all too obviously, has no real explanation to offer: S-curves, spirals and animal ornament were, he suggests, “a way of expressing new feelings of cosmopolitanism”, and hybrid animals served a “symbolic function in the contention for authority in a newly expanding world”. He is much more sure-footed in his account of the second revolution in the European visual experience, between 200 and 100 BC. In the second century BC, decorative styles become simpler, and animals return to being depicted in a naturalistic manner. Crucially, for the first time, we begin to see the mass production of wheel-made pottery, jewellery, coins and figurines right across northern Europe. Under the influence of novel Roman goods and technologies, Iron Age Europe underwent its first “consumer revolution”.
What is really new in this period is the growing uniformity of visual culture. In the earlier Iron Age, every clothing pin and every pot was a distinctive and unique object. The shape and decoration of your handful of cooking pots were different from those of the next village, or even the next house. Your drinking cup carried the impressions of your mother’s or aunt’s fingertips in the clay, and your ram’s-head brooch – perhaps the only “image” that your family saw from one day to the next – was completely individual to you:
“The character of the decoration on a Middle Bronze Age storage jar provided visual reminders of your connections to your family and community, and the details of the stylized representation of a figure on an Early La Tène brooch encoded kinship connections with individuals in neighbouring communities. But what kind of information could be conveyed by a Late Iron Age wheel-made jar that looks exactly like hundreds of others in use in the settlement?”
The prehistoric peoples of Europe are, by definition, voiceless; the absence of writing from their societies is what makes them part of prehistory rather than history. It is very difficult for us to tell exactly what a Neolithic roundhouse or a La Tène dragon scabbard may have meant to their original inhabitants or owners. What Peter Wells evokes so well is not what these artefacts meant, but why they meant what they did. His book deserves to be widely read and admired.

Peter Thonemann teaches Greek and Roman History at Wadham College, Oxford.


Thursday, August 22, 2013


Hollywood, Hitler and “The Banality of Evil”

Hitler Hollywood
By Melissa Fall (Urwand).
We usually think of archives as being church-quiet places, but proverbial grenades often nestle among those dusty, long-forgotten papers—as evidenced by an explosive new book, The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler. After 10 years of intensive archival research akin to a high-stakes scavenger hunt on two continents, author and Harvard scholar Ben Urwand is tearing down the popular impression that the 1930s Hollywood community stood united in efforts to combat the Nazi regime. Quite the contrary, says Urwand, whose research reveals a shocking level of collaboration (or Zusammenarbeit, i.e. “working together”) between the German government and Tinseltown’s studios—many of which were famously headed by Jews.
Faced with the prospect of losing access to the lucrative German market, says Urwand, studios prioritized profit over principle as they scrambled to accommodate Nazi demands. The Collaboration depicts a studio system in which films were submitted for approval to aggressive German propaganda officials, who demanded cuts and changes to material deemed “detrimental to German prestige”—not only to film versions created for the German market, but for the U.S. and countries around the world. “We have brought them to their knees,” crowed a Nazi newspaper after the anti-war film All Quiet on the Western Front was banned in Germany in 1930; Universal quickly issued a new version more in line with German sensibilities, setting the stage for a decade of Zusammenarbeit involving several major studios bidding to rake in German reichsmarks. (This portion of the book was excerpted in The Hollywood Reporter last month.)
The Collaboration also contends that studios abandoned or prevented film projects that would have exposed the horrors of Nazism and Germany’s persecution of the Jews. “We have a terrific income in Germany, and as far as I’m concerned, this picture will never be made,” declared MGM head Louis B. Mayer upon declining to invest in the anti-Nazi film The Mad Dog of Europe. Jewish names were slashed from credits. One German official even harassed individual crew members working on productions deemed unflattering to Germany; threats even once extended to a wardrobe man. MGM also reportedly financed the production of German armaments, and in a particularly atrocious instance of accommodation, the head of MGM Germany divorced his Jewish wife at the request of Germany’s Propaganda Ministry. Urwand uncovered evidence that she ended up in a concentration camp.
The revelations have rocked current-day Hollywood. Urwand’s supporters have called The Collaboration “tremendous,” “a blockbuster,” and “a devastating R.I.P. to what we’ve been told.” Even filmmaker and film-history buff Quentin Tarantino has deemed some of Urwand’s findings “really fuckin’ interesting.” Yet one prominent rival scholar has branded the book “slanderous and ahistorical,” and the book will likely create a further maelstrom upon its release.
This week VF Daily spoke with Urwand, who was in Paris gearing up for The Collaboration’s upcoming official release. Below, the author discusses the Nazis’ sinister consul in Los Angeles, Hitler’s unlikely passion for Mickey Mouse, and what was really at stake for the Germans as they sought to control Hollywood’s portrayals of their country.
Lesley M. M. Blume: Discuss the popular notion that Hollywood was a vehicle of anti-Nazi rhetoric and sentiment. Where did that come from?
Ben Urwand: Everyone thinks of Nazis as the first great villains on the screen, but in the 1930s this simply wasn’t true. The reason most people think of Hollywood as fiercely anti-Nazi is because of the films that came out in 1941 through 1945—classic movies like Casablanca (1942) and Foreign Correspondent (1940). I think around 60 percent of all of Hollywood’s products during that period make some reference to the war. There’s also this myth that Warner Brothers crusaded against Nazism throughout the 1930s, but that’s not true. Based on my findings, Warner Brothers was trying to do business in Germany, like everyone else, but wasn’t successful. They didn’t make anti-Nazi film Confessions of a Nazi Spy until 1939, six full years after they were kicked out of the German market.
[Oscar-winning Hollywood screenwriter] Ben Hecht made this very powerful point about the Jewish studio heads; they will talk in private about what’s going on in Germany, he said, but they would not “stand up as the great of Hollywood and proclaim in their films against the German murder of their own kind.”
How did you first become aware of the discrepancy between the popular perception and the reality of Hollywood’s role vis-à-vis the Germans?
[From a comment made by screenwriter] Budd Schulberg in the documentary The Tramp and the Dictator, which was made to accompany Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. Schulberg says that in the 1930s [MGM chief] Louis Mayer would meet with the German consul and allow him to screen films, and then make cuts based on his recommendations. This ran so counter to everything that’s been said about this period. I wasn’t convinced, but that’s where I started. But the actual revelations came after a decade of research in archives.
Where did you uncover the first evidence backing up Schulberg’s assertion?
I went to Germany on a research trip . . . and went through the files of Hitler’s personal adjutants at the Bundesarchiv in Berlin. The files contained birthday letters to Hitler and documents with his opinions on American movies, but I also found letters from MGM, Fox, and Paramount—including one letter from Fox asking if Hitler would give his opinion of the value of U.S. films in Germany. It was dated January 1938, on official studio stationery, and was signed off “Heil Hitler!” At that point, I thought, O.K., here is evidence that’s going against the accepted story.
Did the studios cooperate with your research? What has their reaction been to your findings?
I haven’t really dealt with studios at all; I’ve been doing archival research. The reason I never reached out to them is that I couldn’t learn anything from them: they aren’t run by the same people. And I have no idea what their reaction has been at any stage. . . . As a researcher I was not interested in writing a book about what present-day Hollywood thinks about its past. I was interested in just revealing what I found, in telling the truth. No one from a studio has directly e-mailed me, not even after the book was excerpted in The Hollywood Reporter.
[Note: Urwand’s publicity team states that, at the time of writing, no studio has contacted Urwand’s agent, publisher, or publicity representatives with rebuttals either, although at least one studio publicity representative has requested a galley of The Collaboration.]
According to your research, Universal head Carl Laemmle prophesied with eerie precision what the rise of Nazism would mean for Jews in Germany. You cite a 1932 letter from Laemmle to William Randolph Hearst in which Laemmle states: “Hitler’s rise to power . . . would be the signal for a general physical onslaught on many thousands of defenseless Jewish men, women and children.” Yet he personally set the stage for a decade of collaboration between Hollywood studios and the German government by making revision concessions to the Germans with the 1930 film All Quiet on the Western Front.
That quote is chilling because it’s so early; he’s predicting the genocide of Jews—and not just in Germany. It’s a myth that people didn’t know what was going on; that’s blatantly untrue. People knew what was going on Germany throughout the 1930s—especially Jewish studio executives.
Laemmle was the first to do a deal with the German government, and he did set up the arrangement that followed, but in his defense, he did it before Hitler came to power, in 1931 and 1932. Universal did almost no business with the Nazis after Hitler came to power, but in 1936 Laemmle loses control of Universal, and his successor, John Cheever Cowdin—who’s not Jewish—comes up with this plan by which his Aryan studio might re-establish his studio in Germany. But he fails because, in 1937, Universal makes The Road Back (a sequel to the much-hated All Quiet on the Western Front). Cowdin assured the Germans that nothing in it would be offensive to the Nazis, and the film was cut severely, but the German consulate in L.A. doesn’t seem to care about that. He still makes a huge fuss about the film, sending letters to about 60 people involved in the making of the film—even to the wardrobe man—saying, “We will put you on our blacklist,” and warning that any films in which they participated in the future might be banned in Germany.
You tell us that, before World War I, Germany was the second-biggest market for American films. Do you have any sense of exactly how lucrative a market it really was during the 1930s? You’d think that it would have to be pretty substantial to merit such fevered acquiescence from the studios.
It varied throughout the 1930s. In 1933, Hollywood is doing better business in Germany after Hitler comes to power than in 1932. The reason is that the German film industry is weakened severely when Hitler kicks out the industry Jews. Hollywood benefits because they then all go to Hollywood. And Hollywood then sells 60 films to Germany in 1933. As the decade progresses, [the studios] go to all sorts of lengths to protect their investment. But then they start operating at a loss; for example, Paramount cites a net loss of $580 in 1936. So, why would the studios bother, go to such great lengths, when at some point they’re making nothing?
I realized after a long time that the reason for this is that the studios had been there for decades; they employed hundreds of people. But if they left [the German market], where their movies were popular, they might have to return under worse conditions—or not get back in at all. When rumblings of the war began, they thought Hitler might win—and the studios then worried that they’d lose their footholds in any country Hitler controlled.
The Germans’ main weapon in their negotiations with the studios was their dreaded “Article 15” regulation, which stated that any film perceived by German officials to be damaging to “German prestige” would earn German-market exile for the film’s producers. Why did the Germans care so much how they were portrayed in American films?
World War I is critical to answering that question. [The Germans] lost the war, and politically there were efforts on the world stage for reconciliation, but not in film. . . . In the 1920s, films showed evil German spies blowing up submarines and Allied ships. Systematically throughout the decade, the German defeat is being replayed in films screened around the world. The German middle class became very upset about what they called hate films, not just the political right . . . and it all came to a climax with All Quiet on the Western Front. The stakes get much higher when Hitler comes to power. Part of the reason Hitler and the right feel that they lost the first world war is because of the Allies’ superior propaganda. Hitler is obsessed with the power of film; I document that extensively in the book.
In your opinion, what was the most egregious or offensive act of collaboration or appeasement during this period?
The way MGM is exporting its profits out of Germany in the late 1930s. In 1933, all foreign businesses were banned from converting reichsmarks into dollars and exporting their profits earned in the country. After 1936, MGM, Paramount, and 20th Century Fox are all still operating in Germany. To get around this law, Paramount and Fox start making newsreels in Germany, which can then be sold all around the world to recoup their investment. MGM [was] not in the newsreel business and [was] accumulating capital. It invested in certain German firms and received bonds in exchange for its investment—but these firms were connected to the armaments industry. And this was one month after Kristallnacht. So, in other words, the studio helped finance the German war machine.
Your book is filled with small, grim absurdities too, such as Hitler’s love of Laurel and Hardy films, and his passion for Mickey Mouse. Tell us more.
When I found [this information], I just thought, This is the banality of evil. Here’s the single most destructive individual of the 20th century, and you find that he’s just having a good time watching these movies. But film is extremely important to Hitler: He sees [movies] as part of a war. He sees propaganda as just as important as a weapon on the battlefield. He sees Hollywood’s power to expose Nazis, to destroy their prestige, as part of a war.
You’ve been getting blowback about your findings from historian Thomas Doherty [author of a competing narrative, Hollywood and Hitler, 1933–39], who calls your work “slanderous and ahistorical.” For example, he takes issue with your use of the word “collaboration” and maintains that the word should be reserved for more extreme examples of cooperation with the German government during this period, such as the Vichy government. Do you have a response to his criticisms?
The only thing I would say is that his rebuttal is based on the book’s title. He hasn’t read my book, and as an academic I find it surprising: you’d think he’d read it before he rebutted it. A rebuttal would have to be based on archival evidence that shows the opposite of what I found. I’m totally open to people finding contrary evidence, but I’ve spent so long in archives that I don’t think it’s here. I deal in facts that come from documents and materials from multiple archives, and I use the words of the people at the time. I worked hard to suppress judgment and opinion on my part; it’s strictly a work of scholarship.
Doherty has stated that Hollywood actually did more to advance the anti-Nazi cause than any other for-profit institution at the time. Do you agree?
Again, that’s totally untrue during the 1930s; it’s the exact opposite. The studios are going to extreme lengths to appease the Nazis in the 1930s. In the 1940s they make an incredible number of anti-Nazi films—although studios are careful not to mention the persecution of the Jews or the Holocaust. I see that as a remnant of the collaboration of the 1930s.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Why Did Picasso Prosper?

Aug 21 2013 @ 8:03am
by Jessie Roberts
Ian Leslie suggests that Pablo Picasso’s success with Cubism was hardly inevitable, but rather the product of circumstance:
First, there was a new kind of consumer: the industrial revolution had created a class of young, educated, affluent Parisians, who, keen to distinguish themselves from their dish_picasso more conventional elders, prided themselves on daring displays of taste.
Second, new channels of distribution were opening: the French government had divested itself of responsibility for the city’s annual art salon, and private galleries sprang up in its place. Finally, a new breed of art dealers emerged, many of them foreign and thus outsiders to the Parisian establishment. These young, hungry businessmen competed to find the new new thing first and sell it at the most aggressive price possible.
In short, and almost without anyone noticing, Paris’s art market had become receptive to the commercial possibilities of risk-taking. Artistic innovation was becoming economically viable for the first time. Breaking with the past was starting to be encouraged; soon it would be demanded. This was the environment in which Picasso made his leap into the unknown.
[Professor Stoyan] Sgourev’s analysis of Cubism suggests that having an exceptional idea isn’t enough: if it is to catch fire, the market conditions have to be right. That’s a question of luck and timing as much as it is of genius.

Monday, August 19, 2013

‘No one has ever written, painted, sculpted, modeled, built, or invented except literally to get out of hell.’ –Antonin Artaud

It’s just so strange.
You used to love me,
and now you’re a stranger
who happens to know all
of my secrets.

Clementine von Radics

Constantine Manos

Easter Parade, New Orleans, 2001 by Alec Soth

Made with memory and love

If it had been

Songs and Sonnets
The Means to attain happy Life

MARTIAL, the things that do attain   
The happy life, be these, I find:   
The riches left, not got with pain;   
The fruitful ground, the quiet mind:   

The equal friend, no grudge, no strife;            5
No charge of rule, nor governance;   
Without disease, the healthful life;   
The household of continuance:   

The mean diet, no delicate fare;   
True wisdom join’d with simpleness;            10
The night discharged of all care,   
Where wine the wit may not oppress:   

The faithful wife, without debate;   
Such sleeps as may beguile the night.   
Contented with thine own estate;            15
Ne wish for Death, ne fear his might.   

Truth/ Hurt

Ostracon with register of attendance at work. Labelled 'Year 40' of Ramses II, it provides a workmen's register for 280 days of the year. There are twenty-four lines of New Egyptian hieratic on the front and twenty-one lines on the back. A list of forty names is arranged in columns on the right edge of each side, followed to the left by dates written in black in a horizontal line. Above most dates is a word or phrase in red, indicating the reason why this individual was absent from work on that date.