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Ed Driscoll

Weimar? Because We Reich You

April 21st, 2013 - 6:42 pm

A quarter century ago, in The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom wrote:

A few years ago I chatted with a taxi driver in Atlanta who told me he had just gotten out of prison, where he served time for peddling dope. Happily he had undergone “therapy.” I asked him what kind. He responded, “All kinds— depth-psychology, transactional analysis, but what I liked best was Gestalt.” Some of the German ideas did not even require English words to become the language of the people. What an extraordinary thing it is that high-class talk from what was the peak of Western intellectual life, in Germany, has become as natural as chewing gum on American streets. It indeed had its effect on this taxi driver. He said that he had found his identity and learned to like himself. A generation earlier he would have found God and learned to despise himself as a sinner. The problem lay with his sense of self, not with any original sin or devils in him. We have here the peculiarly American way digesting Continental despair. It is nihilism with a happy ending.

This popularization of German philosophy in the United States is of peculiar interest to me because I have watched it occur during my own intellectual lifetime, and I feel a little like someone who knew Napoleon when he was six. I have seen value relativism and its concomitants grow greater in the land than anyone imagined. Who in 1920 would have believed that Max Weber’s technical sociological terminology would someday be the everyday language of the United States, the land of the Philistines, itself in the meantime become the most powerful nation in the world? The self-understanding of hippies, yippies, yuppies, panthers, prelates and presidents has unconsciously been formed by German thought of a half-century earlier; Herbert Marcuse’s accent has been turned into a Middle Western twang; the echt Deutsch label has been replaced by a Made in America label; and the new American life-style has become a Disneyland version of the Weimar Republic for the whole family.

Which brings us to the Dresden Dolls, whom Wikipedia describes as follows:

The Dresden Dolls are an American musical duo from Boston, Massachusetts. Formed in 2000, the group consists of Amanda Palmer (lead vocals, piano, harmonica, ukulele) and Brian Viglione (drums, percussion, guitar, bass guitar, vocals). The two describe their style as “Brechtian punk cabaret”, a phrase invented by Palmer because she was “terrified” that the press would invent a name that “would involve the word gothic”. The Dresden Dolls are part of an underground dark cabaret movement that started gaining momentum in the early 2000s.

* * * * *

The band’s first name was Out of Arms. At some point, the name became The Dresden Dolls. The name, according to Palmer, was “inspired by a combination of things,” including the firebombing of Dresden, Germany and the porcelain dolls that were a hallmark of pre-war Dresden industry; an early song of the same name by The Fall; and a reference to the V. C. Andrews novel Flowers in the Attic, where the classically blond-haired and blue-eyed protagonists are called “the Dresden dolls”. The name also evokes Weimar Germany and its cabaret culture. Additionally, Palmer “liked the parallel between Dresden (destruction) and Dolls (innocence, delicacy), because it is very much in keeping with the dynamics of the music, which sometimes goes from a childlike whisper to a banshee scream within a few seconds.”

You know what else can go from a whisper to a banshee scream in a few seconds? A pressure cooker bomb being detonated:

I honestly don’t understand why liberals run so quickly to sympathize with terrorists.

Amanda Palmer is a very quirky alternative rock artist who gained some fame while playing in the Dresden Dolls, and has since turned into an extremely un-traditional unorthodox performance artist with a loyal following and an interactive online presence.

This afternoon she tweeted out this sympathetic poem for the captured terrorism suspect Dzhohhar Tsarnaev:

Blogger SooperMexican adds:

I was trying to remember a saying that Dennis Prager quotes often in relation to this post, and my good friend ConservativeLA found it for me:

The wise — as opposed to most of the highly educated — know, among many other things, that when you give people something for nothing, you produce ungrateful people; that when you obscure the differences between men and women, you end up with many aimless men and angry women; that when you give children “self-esteem” without their earning it, you produce narcissists who enter adulthood incapable of handling life; that if you do not destroy evil, it will proliferate; and that if you are kind to the cruel, you will be cruel to the kind.

Exactly right… the kind of hand-wringing overly emotional existential ennui that inspires these responses to evil disable us to look at it squarely and defeat it.

Not all evil can be “understood” – some of it just needs to be extinguished.

Sorry hippies.

Also, some of her followers have taken a very surprisingly unsympathetic view to my criticism!! Yes, you see, because I criticize their emotey-god, I am the hater, and should be reviled!

Huh. You’d think they’d have more empathy for an alternative point of view.

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All Comments   (16)
All Comments   (16)
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This afternoon she tweeted out this sympathetic poem for the captured terrorism suspect Dzhohhar Tsarnaev:

Why is he so sure it's sympathetic?

It's incoherent - I could interpret it just as easily as hostile as sympathetic.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It isn't so much empathy for the villan but a lack of empathy. Just like when Naomi Klein called the 9/11 attacks "performance art" - it more likely because they don't know anyone that was directly effected by it. The names of the victims are rarely published, but the names and life of the attacker are covered on every media outlet. As a result, they feel they know them more than the faceless, nameless dead and wounded.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm just reading Bloom's book now. It confirms a lot of what I have experienced myself in academia. We teach that the US is a rogue nation; we romanticize the Aztecs or the Chechens or whatever other culture du jour. Add teenage angst, stir, and take shelter from the explosion.

Side note (glad Bloom was not alive to see it). On Amazing Race last night, almost no one knew what JFK and Reagan said in Berlin. Bet they knew which presidents owned slaves, though.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That wouldn’t pass muster as a poem in sixth grade.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
-- "when you give people something for nothing, you produce ungrateful people;" --

"The Japanese have five ways to say thank you -- and each one translates as resentment, in various degrees." -- Robert A. Heinlein.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I suspect the simple truth behind the overthinking was that the man preferred driving a taxi to being in prison. The stark contrast is its own lesson.

As for Palmer, I've seen her videos; it is some of the worst artistically empty and emotionally dishonest music you'll ever see, made by a talentless hack with a gift for self-promotion using PC.

Palmer is a example of how access to a library without the tools to understand it combined with hopelessly trendy and provincial politics produces empty buzzwords about Dresden without the least ability to put that act in any kind of balanced context. Palmer's idea of the other side of a debate is to call them "haters" and insult them.

It's no surprise she's married to Neil Gaiman, yet another empty writer who's been riding on a Sandman comic book for years now. His skills at self promotion also outweigh his abilities as an artist by light years. Within the science fiction community, Gaiman's an unchallenged genius, which shows how elastic a dictionary is in a liberal community that celebrates Vampirella-grade novels like Gaiman's "American Gods." Truthfully, it is book written for 7 yr. olds. who, by virtue of naivete, still think Uncle Creepy's still the biggest thrill of all.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I should of said in the last 120 years or so.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have been wondering if all truly destructive ideas to western civilization did not originate in Germany? Can anyone think of one, other than Islamism, that did not originate from German thinking?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think the "Allah" in Muhammad's visions was actually an apparition of Nietzsche. So it's pretty well covered.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I read the Amanda Palmer poem and it really doesn't seem to be sympathetic to the bastard. It actually seems to be mocking him.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Don't forget to buy her "Stop Pretending Art Is Hard" shirts for $20, one of 13 available.

Take away her sheen of cool and political correctness, and leave her with only talent to use, and she'd be selling her beer can macrame hats at a flea market.

Things like Home Shopping Network paved the way for surrounding dreck with attention, making cat and dog salt shakers into precious objects and selling them. Palmer is a pathetic punk version of HSN. She looks different and so, in a community dazzled by identity, she is.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
For this we can thank Andy Warhol. He not only created the sadly narcissistic "15 minutes of fame" to placate losers, but single-handedly debased the human element in art and - in the process - humanity as well. Hitler's late 20th century doppelganger.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, I'm glad to see that's the current spin; the initial take from her fans wasn't as nuanced:

http://twitchy.com/2013/04/21/amanda-palmer-urges-empathy-for-bombing-suspect-dzhokhar-tsarnaev/
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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