Monday, 14 August 2017

orpheus und euridike

Forty years after its first publication and three decades since it was translated into English the research and culminating work Male Fantasies (Männerphantasien) of ethnographer Klaus Theweleit are tragically enjoying particular relevance and probably should have never been allowed to recede into relative, academic obscurity.
Fascist movements and the undercurrents thereof defy the narrative of explanation that we look toward at such fraught and pivotal moments because fascism by its nature is a mockery of reason and rises by viciously attacking the framework of education and emendation that normally protects society from the worst manifestations of despotism from getting a toe-hold. In efforts to come to terms with the horrors his country committed when he was an infant, Theweleit looked first to the usual bellwethers of economic pressures and charismatics and discovered that such explanations fell short before turning to the disaffected paramilitary pulp fiction that circulated in the last days of the Weimar Republic. A critical reading of this previously ignored corpus of literature and ephemera that reflected the Zeitgeist of fear informed Theweleit’s brutal, psycho-political, fantasy-driven collage and collective unconscious. The sprawling study exposes the pre-Œdipal male psyche that cowers behind the tough personæ of foot-soldiers and deputised goons that lives in abject fear of the feminine other—couched in terms that are not too different than what passes as dialogue these days, a morass that’s an enticing and perilous deep, a swamp to be drained, something visceral, fluid and fount of all sorrow. The body politic is inseparable, it seems, from our fragile psychology, and is ironically financed by a further appeal to vanities through our equally reason-defying obsession with appearance, stopping the dissolution of our physical bodies and in turn our virtual avatars. This social imprinting comes from within and until society can confront this, our worst tendencies are not calmed but primed to erupt at any moment.