The Slaughterman’s Daughter, p. 6

Yes, dear blog readers, self finished The Gallery of Miracles and Madness last night. She picked up the pace after the halfway point, because it is depressing to read about how a failed artist like Young Adolf Hitler, only minimally educated (He could read and write, obv, but not much. HA! Sounds like another demagogue self knows), could build one idea (cultural degeneracy) into a political platform, which he then used to wield absolute control over, first, his party, then his country, and, ultimately, Europe.

Now she is reading a novel about one of those people Young Adolf hated so much: Mende Speismann, a young woman in a Russian shtetl.

. . .a man tells his wife he is going into town to learn a trade, only to be swept up in the intellectual circles of Odessa; a father swears to his daughters that he will come back with a hefty dowry and, all of a sudden, one hears that he is “kissing the mezuzahs” of Kiev bordellos. Mende knows that only fools find consolation in the knowledge that others suffer the same woes as they, and yet contentment steals over her as she reads, overcoming any sentiment of feminine solidarity that she might have felt with these women. She is not like them, she will never be like them. She has not rushed off to publish advertisements, she has not complained to the leaders of the community, and she has not circulated descriptions of Zvi-Meir Speismann, the man who tore her life to pieces.

The Slaughterman’s Daughter, by Yaniv Iczkovits

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

1938

All over Europe, artists were on the run. Beckman left for the Netherlands the day after Hitler’s speech at the Haus der deutschen Kunst. He would spend the next ten years in Amsterdam, trying to get a visa for the United States. Kokoschka was in Prague, where he painted Self-Portrait of a Degenerate Artist, his response to Entartete Kunst, which showed him sitting with arms folded while a man and a deer lurked in the forest behind him: the artist as fugitive. Ernst remained in Paris, where he would later be picked up by the Gestapo before fleeing to America with the help of Peggy Guggenheim. Klee and Kirchner were in Switzerland, where Klee produced hundreds of pieces that dealt with his fate. Kirchner, depressed and fearful that German soldiers would eventually come for him, shot himself dead in the summer of 1938.

Those German modernists who hadn’t fled lived in a state of internal exile, working little or furtively, in some cases under surveillance.

The Gallery of Miracles and Madness, p. 152

Am picking up the pace. When Hitler starts his meteoric rise in politics, he becomes much, much less interesting.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day, 3rd Thursday of September 2021

At the heart of Hitler’s worldview “lay a doctrine of victimhood and racial despair: Everything that had once been noble, glorious, and pure was threatened by genetic degradation and Jewish pollution.” (p. 76, The Gallery of Miracles and Madness)

Reading that passage gave self chills. She hears the same sense of victimhood today, in 45’s followers.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Alas, Young Adolf

If that doesn’t just take the cake. Hitler, a very gauche bumpkin, moves to Vienna with inflated hopes. The last thing self expected to happen was to actually empathize with his frustration!

In the last post (before this one), a dim assessment of Adolf’s artistic talent was delivered by his (only) friend Gustl Kubizek, who ends up accompanying him to Vienna. Little does Kubizek know that Adolf is harboring a deep, dark secret:

Hitler still harbored the secret of his failed exam and pretended to attend the academy each day, a bizarre situation made worse by Kubizek’s easy acceptance to the Conservatoire to study music.

The Gallery of Miracles and Madness, p. 70

Could Hitler possibly have been driven mad by his rejection by the Academy of Fine Arts (Only 28 of the 113 applicants who took the entrance exam with Hitler were accepted), his disappointment exacerbated by the death of his beloved mother (and only ally) two months before? When “Hitler launched a tirade,” Kubizek “had to go into bed. He would lie there as Adolf ranted and cried and gesticulated, and if Kubizek fell asleep Hitler would shake him awake to shout at him some more.”

And then, Hitler ghosted him: Kubizek returned to his hometown after the end of term. This Kubizek must have been a very mild fellow, because when he returned to Vienna, he still expected to share the room with Hitler but “he found that Hitler had cleared out, leaving no explanation or forwarding address.”

The next section is about Hitler’s “sexual frustrations” and fear of women. At this point, self thinks Kubizek should be earnestly thankful that he is no longer rooming with Hitler although, poor man, all Kubizek feels at the moment is disappointment and abandonment.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Adolf Hitler, Aspiring Artist

“The rapid catching of an atmosphere, of a certain mood, which is so typical of a water color and which, with its delicate touch, imparts to it freshness and liveliness — this was missing completely in Adolf’s work,” a friend named Kubizek recalled.

The Gallery of Miracles and Madness, p. 67

I suppose you couldn’t really call Kubizek a friend, since in reality Hitler had no friends. But Kubizek did get close enough to be shown examples of Hitler’s art.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Germany, Summer 1924

Self has arrived at Part Two of The Gallery of Miracles and Madness, by Charlie English. It’s been a fascinating read so far. Germany after World War I seems like a decadent place, fertile ground for art movements like the Surrealists. Also, “obscene poetry” recited in cafés!

Alas, things do not continue on this fascinating path. Hitler enters the picture.

In the summer of 1924, Hitler was serving time for his role in a failed insurrection. (So many parallels, I swear!)

In November 1923, he and two thousand Nazi storm troopers had tried to seize control of Munich, the first step in a plan to topple the Weimar Republic. But the Beer Hall Putsch, as the coup attempt would be called, had been a disaster: Sixteen Nazis and four state police officers were killed, and Hitler was caught and charged with high treason. On arrival at Landsberg, raging at the prison psychologist, Alois Maria Ott . . . flecks of spittle showing at his lips, Ott assessed the new inmate as “a morbid psychopath . . . prone to hysteria . . . with an inclination toward a magical mindset . . . Surrounded in jail by forty sycophantic co-conspirators, with piles of expensive gifts sent by admirers and with even guards whispering “Heil Hitler!” in his ear, he became convinced that he was the messiah for the German people, their Fuhrer.

The Gallery of Miracles and Madness, pp. 63 -64

Yes, I am Schizophrenic. I Also Make Art.

Hans Prinzhorn begins his amazing collection, gathered from inmates in mental asylums all over Germany, in the decade immediately following World War I:

Around three-quarters of Prinzhorn’s artist-patients were diagnosed with schizophrenia. The rest shared a range of conditions from “manic-depressive” to “paralytic,” “imbecile,” and “epileptic.” Though more than half of the patients living in German asylums were female, fewer than 20 percent of the works Prinzhorn received were by women, a reflection both of their status in society and of a narrow definition of art, which excluded many traditional female handicrafts. An exception to this trend was Agnes Richter’s jacket. Richter, a Dresden seamstress, had been committed in 1893 after being arrested for disturbing the piece. In the asylum at Hubertusberg, she began work on an institutional garment made of gray linen, re-stitching the arms on backward, and embroidering it all over with expressions of her plight. “I am not big,” read one; others spelled out “my jacket,” “I am,” “I have,” “I miss today,” and “you do not have to. Her asylum laundry number, 583, appeared again and again. The writing was mainly stitched to the inside, where it would have lain next to her body — an attempt to reinforce her sense of self, perhaps, in a place where that was easily lost. The jacket was Richter’s only item in the collection.

— p. 23, The Gallery of Miracles and Madness, by Charlie English

If you want to know exactly what this jacket looked like, author @CharlieEnglish1 (the author himself) tweeted a picture of it on Sept. 10.

World’s Fair, Chicago, 1893

In the wee hours, self finished reading The End of Men. Her heart broke for one particular character. There is no real sense of closure (She’s been seeing that more and more in fiction, recently). Four stars out of five!

Her current read is Miracles and Madness: Insanity, Modernism, and Hitler’s War on Art, by Charlie English. Goody, self does love to read about World War II, insanity, etc.

On pp. 6 – 7, the Chicago World Fair of 1893 is described:

A seven-hundred acre site was filled with the fruits of humanity’s most technologically advanced era. Twenty-seven million people would visit, the equivalent of almost half the U.S. population at the time. In Paris four years earlier, fairgoers had been astonished by Gustave Eiffel’s tower, an ironwork lattice that pierced the sky to the height of a thousand feet. The American riposte, the first ferris wheel, was also vast — as high as the tallest of the new skyscrapers — but this construction moved. Powered by thousand-horsepower steam engines, it could lift up thirty-eight thousand visitors each day for a view few had ever seen that of the human world had ever seen: that of the human world from above.

“Do You Think It Will Happen Again?”

The two main characters of The End of Men meet on p. 261!

Catherine: “Do you think it will happen again?”

Amanda: “Just because your husband left you doesn’t mean your house can’t catch on fire. In other words, tragedy doesn’t immunize you against further tragedy . . . The vaccine we have should be effective, yes, and we can use it to adjust to new strains. But in theory the Plague could mutate, allowing the vaccine to be ineffective.”

Catherine: The End of Men

There’s a vaccine. It’s finally happened. It’s taken nearly two years but for a long time it seemed like this day would never come. I thought I would feel ecstatic but I’m furious. I’m incandescent with rage. I actually threw a plate this morning. Why now? Why were they able to discover it now? Why not before? The statement from the woman who discovered it, Dr. Lisa Michael, makes it sound like it was a breeze, like she was noodling around for a bit in the lab and then it just sort of appeared.

The End of Men, p. 246

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