Rick's "confession" about enjoying the performance of a Nazi deserves
further comment. What was, I believe, most insidious about the Nazis
and about other movements was/is their appeal to the higher and baser
emotions (or perhaps perceptions?) at the same time. I confess that I
find old film footage of their spectacles incredibly moving, as I do
good renditions f "Deutschland uber Alles." There is nothing "wrong"
with recognizing such feelings -- in fact denying them is probably bad
for us -- so long as we know what is happening to us. I remember
watching Reagan speak (and Bush too, to some extent) and allowing myself
to get into it to the point of agreeing with what he was saying. There
was something incredibly seductive about "his" ideas the way he
presented them. I think that experiencing such feelings as fully as we
can prepares us better to deal with and combat them. I was able to get
over a Reagan speech fairly quickly, but it gave me an understanding of
his magic with many people.
I also think that art can stand alone, outside of its political context.
Recently I went to a conference in Newport, Rhode Island. My
inclinations are as leftist as those of anyone who went to college in
the early sixties, but I was able to enjoy the mansions there. I felt
that another women who said that she could not bear to see or be in them
because of the ill-gained wealth that had bought them was depriving
herself of an experience that was for me marvelous. Sort of like
refusing to acknowledge the majesty of the pyramids because of the slave
system that built them.
On a lighter note, I am reminded of the joke about the former Nazi general
(he had somehow escaped Nuremburh) who, upon his retirement, said that
he was going to now enjoy his three hobbies: drinking fine wine,
listening to classical music, and torture.
Finally, and I know that some of you can put this into a more elegant
statement, human beings are not rational in the sense of having all of
their belief systems in sync with each other. It is just this that, I
believe, allows Naziism and other systems of its ilk to flourish, and it
is this we must make ourselves aware of and deal with, not the beautiful
music that is also created.