Thursday, 29 August 2013

Friedrich Nietzsche, "The Case of Wagner" (1888). Translated by Anthony M. Ludovici (1911).

Nietzsche essentially recognizes Wagner's skill at evocative, indulgent histrionics. This is, however, a skill that Nietzsche sees as indicative of a weak and unmanly approach to art.

Notes of interest to possibly no one else but me (page numbers correspond to my digital edition):
- “And let it be said en passant that if Wagner’s theory was ‘drama is the object, music is only a means’ – his practice was from beginning to end ‘the attitude is the end, drama and even music can never be anything else than means.” p. 47
- “In the theatre, no one brings the finest senses of his art with him, and least of all the artist who works for the theatre, - for here loneliness is lacking; everything perfect does not suffer a witness… In the theatre one becomes mob, herd, woman, Pharisee, electing cattle, patron, idiot – Wagnerite: there, the most personal conscience is bound to submit to the leveling charm of the great multitude, there the neighbour rules, there one becomes a neighbour.” P. 47/48
- “In the solemn, or fiery, swinging movement, first slow and then quick, of old music – one had to do something quite different; one had to dance. The measure which was required for this and the control of certain balanced degrees of time and energy, forced the soul of the listener to continual sobriety of thought. – Upon the counterplay of the cooler currents of air which came from this sobriety, and from the warmer breath of enthusiasm, the charm of all good music rested – Richard Wagner wanted another kind of movement, - he overthrew the physiological first principle of all music before his time. It was no longer a matter of walking or dancing, - we must swim, we must hover…” p. 48
- “…there are two kinds of sufferers: - those that suffer from overflowing vitality, who need Dionysian art and require a tragic insight into, and a tragic outlook upon, the phenomenon life, - and there are those who suffer from reduced vitality, and who crave for repose, quietness, calm seas, or else the intoxication, the spasm, the bewilderment which art and philosophy provide.” p. 51
- “I began to understand Epicurus, the opposite of a Dionysian Greek, and also the Christian who in fact is only a kind of Epicurean, and who, with his belief that ‘faith saves,’ carries the principle of Hedonism as far as possible – far beyond all intellectural honesty…” p. 51

Ben Klassen, "The Klassen Letters, Vol. 1" (1969-1976) [1988] & "Vol. 2" (1976-1981) [1989]

Ben Klassen was a prolific proponent of ‘White’ racial supremacy. In the early 1970s, he founded the Church of the Creator, a US-based organization devoted to establishing exclusive ‘white’ population of the globe, as well as elimination of Christianity and Judaism. Klassen also identified “Jews” as a ‘race’, and hoped for their elimination as well.

The stated purpose for this collection was to provide a record of the evolution in Klassen’s thinking, from the period where he first considered establishing a racially-oriented ‘religion’ through to the establishment of a World Headquarters for the group. During this period, he authored two books that outlined the Church’s philosophy, Nature’s Eternal Religion and The White Man’s Bible.

The Klassen Letters are, at their most basic, a project of blind hubris. Setting aside the philosophic and logical arguments that might be raised against Klassen’s ideology contained therein, the letters – as a collection of texts – are morbidly tedious. An editor could have trimmed the collection down to about a third of the 300 pages, eliminating the frequent repetition of whole paragraphs from letter to letter, which it appears Klassen adopted as almost stock descriptions of his beliefs. Additionally, Klassen includes his frequent solicitations to correspondents to distribute more of his books, as well as the minutiae of pricing and postage costs and procedures. From a social history perspective these details might be of some interest, but as a summary of a leader’s philosophical development they are distracting, at best.

The Klassen Letters do offer some useful information. Although more widely distributed, Klassen’s writing in the Church’s newspaper, Racial Loyalty, leaves some unanswered questions that the Letters resolve.

While Klassen never provides his readers with a clear, definition of who qualifies as ‘White’, in some of the letters he outlines why he is being evasive on this question. He notes (much to my surprise) that establishing a clear line between someone who is ‘white’ and someone who is not is difficult, due to ‘race-mixing.’ He suggests, however, that those who are ‘white’ know this fact incontrovertibly. He also suggests that details of who is ‘white’ can be resolved later, once the more immediate goal of overcoming global Jewish/Judaic dominance is achieved.

In the later letters, Klassen also advances an intriguing position with regard to self-education. Although a proponent of research and critical thinking (at least with regard to information gathered through the ‘mainstream media’), and as an author attempting to ‘educate’ his readers towards adopting a new point of view, Klassen recommends that readers must at a certain point arrive at a position and stop researching it – particularly if that research merely expands or supports the position already established – and move into action.

Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry, "Helter Skelter" (1974; with new Afterword, 1994)

Although the cover proclaims it as the best-selling true crime book (ever!), Helter Skelter exhausts the reader with overabundant detail, particularly when relating the step-by-step development of the prosecutorial arguments and approach.

I’m sure a large part of the book’s allure is the topic it concerns, the spectacular, shocking, and senseless 1970 slaughter of two houses of people in California, including famous personalities such as actress Sharon Tate, hairdresser to the stars Jay Sebring, and heiress to a coffee business empire Abigail Folger.

The book is somewhat similar in tone to Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History (written much later, and which I reviewed here), and exhibits some of the same weaknesses. Bugliosi does not spare the feelings of those he feels have failed in fulfilling their responsibilities, in this case, several police officers, investigators, and members of the judiciary.
He does offer insights into the case that trial transcripts and journalistic accounts missed, such as aspects of the case that were not pursued in court, evidence that was not heard/seen, or avenues of investigation that did not produce leads. For instance, at the end of the book, Bugliosi discusses a number of murders that investigators suspect might be associated with the Manson group, but that for various reasons could not be conclusively tied to them. He also analyses how some information covered by court-ordered publication bans might have leaked to the media, and considerations regarding treatment of the jury.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Anna Bramwell, "Blood and Soil: Walther Darre & Hitler's 'Green Party'" (1985)

This book is certainly challenging, in that it presents both a significant 'rewriting' of the history of Nazi Germany, an intensive analysis of ideological clashes within German National Socialism, and a troubling apparent sympathy for some aspects of that movement.

Bramwell offers two core theses:
1) Walther Darre was found guilty of war crimes that he should not have been.
2) Echoes of Darre’s philosophies can be found in contemporary Europe, if not globally, thus suggesting that they cannot be regarded as intrinsic to fascistic/national socialist ideology.

Bramwell explores the evolution of Darre’s thought through his pre-Nazi era writings, the policies and pronouncements of the Nazi era, as well as his post-Nazi writing. She notes that Darre’s anti-semitism, given the absence of this position in his pre-Nazi writing, may have been adopted merely as a pragmatic attempt to curry favour with powerful anti-semitic Nazis such as Hitler. She spends a significant amount of effort exploring Darre’s interests in the peasantry, and how his aims for preserving and strengthening Germany’s peasant class did not include the claiming of substantial new lebensraum in the East, nor the use of a vast number of non-German forced labourers for the purposes of maintaining or increasing agricultural output.

You can read it for yourself, if you go to:’s-‘Green-Party’