Wednesday, February 16, 2005

TKOP & the Third Reich

"Death and the Woman," KATHE KOLLWITZ, 1934

Yesterday I picked up a little soft cover book: Cultural and Artistic Upheavals in Modern Europe - 1848 to 1945 (Cummer Studies, Volume 1, 1996) and read "Hitler and the Artists: Patronage and Terror," an essay by Sally Metzler, who's written on topics like "The Angel as Image in Art," and "Propagation: Jesuits & Art from Prague to Peking." This is one of a dozen or so articles compiled in the book, and taken in the context of an island in an ocean, stands out for me because of its similarity to a thread that spun out over at WOMPO awhile ago.

The WoMPo thread began with a discussion of post-modern poetry or Language poets or TKOP (that kind of poetry) or whatever acronym fit best. People on the list got offended when they thought their poetics or their poetic tastes were judged. One member took an off list email from another WomPo as a personal affront verging on irrationality, and left in a huff. That started a battle royal with red camps and blue camps aligning themselves on the side of TKOP or not TKOP. There were one or two kneejerk reactions. A little bit of talk about the protocols of a list serv. But everybody who was anybody inserted her (often well documented) opinion, and it was a little chaos over there among the dignified folk for a week. Good for them!

Language poetry - that was the thing. Personal symbolism. Inaccessible material. The other end of the pendulum. It's easy for me. I'm not schooled in all this poetic dogma. I don't have the weight of names to prevent me from making conclusions.

Metzer's essay takes the reader swiftly into the pit of the Nazi hatred for all things modern and avant garde, and the party's dedication for realism in the arts; pictorial displays that didn't require thought from their viewers.

We must ask ourselves why Hitler feared the abstract, or to that end, anything exhibiting sketchiness? Certainly anything less than a depiction of total visual reality left the door open for interpretation, and the Nazis, like most totalitarian regimes, abhorred the notion of a thinking populace.

The similarity is so damn close that to resist drawing a parallel would be a blindness. In fact, seems someone on WomPo already mentioned the Horace essay regarding poetry and painting.

But I blundered across Metzler's paper, like one of those synchronistic things, and saw a likeness. No, I don't mean to say there are a bunch of neonazis on WomPo. Yes, I do mean to say that TKOP sounds alot like modern art ala Paul Klee and Kathe Kollwitz, and suspension of free thought, the actual condemnation of such artistic things that prompted free thinking is what made the Third Reich the Third Reich. But I'm sure someone has already thought of this.

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