Sunday, 15 October 2017

Politics and Theatre

Hold on, let me show my working here...

1. Walter Benjamin postulated that Nazism turned politics into an aesthetic experience (The Work of Art in the Era of Mechanical Reproduction).

In such works as Bill Kinser and Neil Kleinman's The Dream That Was No More a Dream, Nazism was explained by the fact that "German consciousness treated its own reality - developed and lived its history - as though it were a work of art. It was a culture committed to its aesthetic imagination". 

Hitler's personal history as an artist manque was recalled by commentators like J. P. Stern, who saw the legacy of Nietzsche's conflation of artistic form-giving and political will in Nazism.

The confusion between reality and fantasy in films like Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will was taken as emblematic of the illusory spectacle at the heart of fascist politics by critics like Susan Sontag.

Similar inclinations were discerned in French fascism by Alice Yaeger Kaplan, who successfully solicited the admission from one of her subjects, the film historian Maurice Bardeche, "there is, if you like, a link between aestheticism and fascism. We were probably mistaken to connect aesthetics and politics, which are not the same thing". 

Even the contemporary representation of the fascist past has been accused of being overly aestheticized, albeit in the sense of kitsch art, by Saul Friedland.

"The Aesthetic Ideology" as Ideology; Or, What Does It Mean to Aestheticize Politics? 
Author: Martin Jay 
Source: Cultural Critique, No. 21 (Spring, 1992), pp. 41-61 

Published by: University of Minnesota Press 
Accessed: 15-10-2017 17:38 

2. Part of that was the adaptation of theatricality, especially in events like the Nuremberg rallies, which used the spectacle of performance to impress audiences with the ideology (and superiority) of the Nazi state.

3. Although theatre is not merely theatricality (the term gets a bit slippery, because it can be used to describe both techniques of staging and an elaborate presentation off the stage), the use of techniques that hide their trickery becomes a bit of a problem when those techniques have been used by a political party towards bad ends. 

4. In the aftermath of World War II, German directors are cautious about presenting drama that is naturalistic, because they are aware of the problems that theatricality has caused. Or, as Martin Jay has it:

In short, politics has to be saved from its reduction to spell binding spectacle and phantasmagoric illusion in order to allow a more rational discourse to fill the public space now threatened with extinction by images and simulacra of reality.

No comments :

Post a Comment