Muse by Craig Ranapia

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Muse: Guilt By Association Copy

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  • Keir Leslie, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Yeah. I reckon it's like deciding you want to own the Wannsee Conference house or whatever. It's part of the architecture of the most disgusting crime in history -- which is the attraction, of course.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    the lack of a clear distinction between Good and Bad

    Definitely. So the strongest distancing measure of all, perhaps, is official rejection and/or apology – a concerted, institutional labelling as "Bad", which operates in the case of Hitler, but not in the case of Mao.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1860 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Yeah. I reckon it’s like deciding you want to own the Wannsee Conference house or whatever. It’s part of the architecture of the most disgusting crime in history – which is the attraction, of course.

    Fun factoid, after the War the house became the property of the Berlin city government and had a rather interesting history until it finally became a Museum and Memorial on the 50th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference. YMMV on how "creepy" it is that for over thirty years it was a hostel for school children.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    I see someone has dug up that one of Keys family back in England bought up Goerings bedroom suite.

    Does that mean they are in bed with the Nazis too ??

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    *Again: the weird and creepy bit for me is the autograph, although if someone made a habit of collecting works by genocidal dictators in general, and wasn’t making an academic study of them (or possibly even if they were) I would find that creepy, yep.

    Fair enough - I still get squicked out at the thought that the repatriation of mokomokai still isn't done and dusted, and we shouldn't forget the obscene and ugly trade they're a grotesque reminder of.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    I dislike this whole thing of confusing someone's (admittedly extreme) collecting tastes, and deciding that this is somehow worthy of public or political note.

    Would I personally associate with someone with a signed Mein Kampf? No, unless it was alongside a similar collection of signed works by Stalin, Roosevelt, Churchill, Mussolini etc, or intended to be. Frankly, I find the whole idea of collecting war memorabilia squicky in itself, and I doubt I'd ever have any close friends who would (except maybe family heirlooms). But it is an acceptable hobby to most.

    If it was part of a collection of Nazi memorabilia and nothing else, yes, worthy of note, definitely. Ugh. If it were part of a collection on the massacres carried out by Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, etc, and nothing else, I would probably have concerns about their fitness for public office. Then again, my very sweet and with-it in-laws have a book case full of stories on serial murderers.

    There are plenty of public figures who do distasteful things, but barring any more sinister associations, owning an out-there but historical work is far less morally problematic to me than those who engage in domestic abuse, or who actually hold racist/sexist/-ist beliefs, and who try to retain them in our laws.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Well, Cameron Slater can hang a Mission Accomplished banner in his room.

    Jason Ede can, certainly.
    And his faithful minions Slater, Farrar et al.
    and us for playing along
    #lookoverthere

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19633 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    When I first arrived in New Zealand and was tiki-touring the country in around 2002-2003, I was really very surprised by the number of antique shops that openly displayed genuine Nazi/Wermacht artefacts, nearly always stuff that grandad had brought home from Italy or wherever as a souvenir after the war. Walking into a shop and seeing a swastika flag on the wall certainly provided something of a jolt to the system. Several shops had explanatory signs on the door (aimed, I would guess, mostly at o/s tourists) along the lines of ‘no, we’re not nazis, it’s an antique/collector’s item. It’s not illegal, it’s just business, don’t give us a hard time, ’k? Thanks’. Clearly it was something that was more socially acceptable than it would have been in, say, the UK, but clearly it was also something that a lot of people found very troubling.

    There was a thread on here a few years back after the Auckland Museum/Grammer-boys-nazi-salute news story that had some interesting comments, along the lines of what Izogi is saying. If memory serves, it was Mark Taslov who noted that for teens and early 20’s today – the Call of Duty generation (KDC's mentality if not physical age) – the nazis for them are broadly the same as cowboys and indians were for my generation (a couple of gens older) growing up. It’s just another goodie/baddie combo with no visceral emotional impact beyond that. It’s not a lived experience for them. It was for me insofar as my grandparents lived through it, but my generation is the last with that direct link. I just don’t think it’ll have that vividity of impact for the generation after me – they can’t look at a living person and think ‘I’m looking at someone related to me who lived through that. Wow’. It’s just dusty relics to them. You can see this in polular culture – videogames and films have shown quite a willingness to use the nazis merely as a source material – nazi zombies (dead snow among many others), space nazis (iron sky, castle wolfenstein), mystic magic nazis (hellboy, captain america, weird war 2), without any moral difficulty or perception that using these for 'fun' might be troublesome if not handled respectfully.

    I can understand the collector’s impulse, and I can understand the fascination with military gear. There’s an overlap here, but even when talking about military/nazi collectibles, they’re not synonymous. Hayden Green on the same thread noted that the Germans had the ‘cooler’ stuff (and, from the perspective of my inner 14-year old, he’s right). Lemmy of Motorhead fame is a well-known collector of German WW2 militaria. Is he a Nazi? No. Unreconstructed, yes, but not a Nazi. I saw a documentary a while back where the documentary makers took him to a re-enactors camp, with what was obviously to them supposed to be a highlight of taking him for a ride around on a Panzer tank. He was just a bit bemused by the whole thing – he likes collecting, but he’s not into, and clearly doesn’t understand, the whole dress-up, let’s play cowboys-and-indians aspect of it (and it's worth noting that at least one US politican has got in trouble for playing dress-up waffen SS with his re-enactment group at the weekend).

    I can fully understand why someone might want the bragging rights of owning that particular item. Personally, If I ever saw it, it’d make me feel very odd (not really the right word, but I can’t think of a better on at the moment). I’m not even sure I’d want to touch it, even though my rational mind is telling me it’s just a thing.

    But I don’t think KDC has the same qualms, His inner 14-year old ‘stamp collector’ impulse is stronger. He’s also clearly an A-grade mischief maker – he just loves to throw a jolt into the squares (like teenage boys do). He’s made an entire lifestyle and career out of it. I also wonder how much his German background plays into this – the thrill of the illicit and all that.

    This doesn’t make me feel any differently about him as a person – I was already indifferently wary towards him - a court jester with the capacity to amuse and shake things up, but needing a close eye kept on him. It’s entirely unsurprising to anyone with a passing interest in him that this is the type of thing he’d own, but is this a game changer in any way? No.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    I wonder if the Oily One has a copy of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged in his bookcase?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5410 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Slightly off topic -- thanks everyone for making this a post where a "don't read the comments" warning isn't necessary. The direct opposite is the case, in fact. Keeping it classy is winning.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to TracyMac,

    I dislike this whole thing of confusing someone’s (admittedly extreme) collecting tastes, and deciding that this is somehow worthy of public or political note.

    I don't think this should have been muckracked into the public sphere in the way it was, but now it *has*, it's going to get discussed. But in my opinion it isn't (and shouldn't) be a dealbreaker for his political participation in this country, although it will probably lose (and gain) him a few votes here and there.

    He’s also clearly an A-grade mischief maker – he just loves to throw a jolt into the squares (like teenage boys do). He’s made an entire lifestyle and career out of it.

    Yep, this.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    I think the idea that the Nazis had the “cooler stuff"* is kinda problematic and often associated with some deeply screwed up ideas about Nazi Germany. It’s like the people who wander around saying that the Waffen-SS were, you know and after all, excellent professional soldiers etc. Sure, fine, whatevers, weird military historiography’s not my bag etc, but it’s also pretty damn suspicious.

    I also absolutely don’t think that Naziism is without shock value for people under thirty. It’s still a hugely loaded ideology, which is why it features in games like CoD.

    Finally, of course Dotcom’s collecting practices are fair game, both for moral judgement and practical political purposes. He’s purchased one of the most loaded books in the world, an autograph copy of Mein Kampf, a book that could quite literally be described as a genocidaire’s manual. It’s also a book that is key to the leader-principle ideology of the Nazi state, and he’s just installed himself as permanent “visionary” of his own political party. I think there’s some pretty legit questions you can ask at this point. Now of course I’m sure you could construct a justification for owning this item, and Dotcom’s more than welcome to, but it’d have to be a pretty good argument.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    It’s like the people who wander around saying that the Waffen-SS were, you know and after all, excellent professional soldiers etc. Sure, fine, whatevers, weird military historiography’s not my bag etc, but it’s also pretty damn suspicious.

    Absent other evidence I find this sort of attitude less suspicious and more evidence of contrarianism above all else - "The rest of you just aren't capable of putting your emotional responses aside and judging them on their merits!", etc. People, find something else to be more-discerning-than-thou fanboys about, kthx?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    I think the idea that the Nazis had the “cooler stuff"* is kinda problematic and often associated with some deeply screwed up ideas about Nazi Germany.

    You're not wrong, and yes it is. But it's an oversimplifcation/generalisation that I don't think is particularly helpful, especially in this instance. It's hardly controversial to state that German technological prowess was in many areas more advanced than that of their opponents. If it wasn't, then the US wouldn't have put so much effort into Operation Paperclip, for example. A lot of people aren't able to separate the tech and the ideology. And a lot are quite well able to.

    I also absolutely don’t think that Naziism is without shock value for people under thirty. It’s still a hugely loaded ideology, which is why it features in games like CoD.

    No, it isn't without, but it's certainly my perception that there are differing and shrinking proportions as you go through the generations. This, for example:

    At the Festival of the Forties, politics only rears its head in the shape of an long-running disagreement about whether there should be re-enactors on the German side. This year, the Wartime Weekend in Ramsbottom, Lancashire, turned away anyone arriving in black SS uniforms. "It's a very unhappy divide," says Stafford. "People are either perfectly OK with it or they bitterly resent it. [emphasis added] We belong to the camp that says what the hell are you doing here when there are people who were POWs who will look at this uniform and quake?"

    I head over to the "battlefield" and approach Mo Mowbray, a former British soldier who has been a Wehrmacht re‑enactor for more than 20 years. Doesn't he find it strange playing the oppressor, with a swastika on his shirt? "You have to be careful," he says over "barbed wire" made from grey-painted string. "On at least two occasions a veteran has walked past and shouted and sworn at us. You can understand it. We're not here to upset anyone. Somebody has to be the bad guys. You won't find many people who do the political side – the black uniforms and that – because nobody will have them around. They're bad news."

    The fact that there are a group of people who are perfectly ok with it, rather than a mono-block of 'not ok', is, I think, significant. You wouldn't have had that 20-30 years ago.

    I was at an airshow last summmer where I spotted what I assume was a re-enactor wandering around dressed as Rommel. Pursed lips and comments were generally the level of harrasment he got, rather than, say, a solid punch in the face, which he would almost certainly have received 20-30 years ago.

    Also, you've conflated the use of the Axis forces as an antagonist in CoD with Nazi ideology. I would suggest that an almost inexhaustible source of raw material provided by the biggest conflict of modern times, where it is easy to clearly define goodies and baddies might have more to do with it (rather than using, say, the politically troublesome 'police actions' that we somehow end up getting stuck in these days).

    The Germans used to be almost universally presented as a straightforward baddie group in culture (war films and so on) with little or no modification. Now they're being modified, as in the examples I gave. In the process, they're being diluted and turned into something fantastic (as in, a group of non-human fantasy creatures), by being turned into zombies, magicians, space aliens, etc.

    I don't disagree that it is difficult for many to separate their fanboy passions from the ideology, but on the evidence so far presented, I think we're very far from a 'gotcha'. And yes, his ownership of such a loaded item makes it fair game.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Rich Lock,

    In the process, they’re being diluted and turned into something fantastic (as in, a group of non-human fantasy creatures), by being turned into zombies, magicians, space aliens, etc.

    I have been fascinated by the way that genre fiction over the last decade has come to the universal agreement that the Nazis were not just bad humans but literally demonic in some way, or at least trying to conjure some up. (C.f.: Hellboy, Charles Stross, Ben Aaronovitch...) It's almost medieval in the way it resorts to supernatural evil to explain human horror. And it's probably only possible, as you say, because most people who dealt with them as human beings doing evil to other human beings are dead, or very old. They're retreating into myth, in a weird way.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Yes, exactly. It's not a brand-new phenomenon - there have been a few sensationalist 'true story' books in the '60's to 80's: for example these and these. And a few clearly fictional examples like James Herbert's 'The Spear' from 1978.

    But what was 'few and far between' seems to have become far more widespread and full spectrum more recently.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    It’s hardly controversial to state that German technological prowess was in many areas more advanced than that of their opponents.

    This is a contentious claim, unless you mean it in a very no True Scotsman way. "We rushed this prototype into production and man it sucked and it cost heaps" isn't proof of more advanced technology, it's proof of poor procurement policies. I'm generally pretty suspicious of claims about Nazi technological supermen, because on closer inspection it generally turns out Nazi technological superiority was very much a paper tiger.

    Now, sure, that myth may be widespread and I'm not saying that going along with the belief that the Nazis-had-cool-kit is immoral (although it's also wrong 'cause dude, there's no way Spitfires aren't objectively cooler than anything the Luftwaffe ever fielded etc) but I do think there's some pretty unpleasant underlying causes for it.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Finally, of course Dotcom’s collecting practices are fair game, both for moral judgement and practical political purposes. He’s purchased one of the most loaded books in the world, an autograph copy of Mein Kampf, a book that could quite literally be described as a genocidaire’s manual. It’s also a book that is key to the leader-principle ideology of the Nazi state, and he’s just installed himself as permanent “visionary” of his own political party. I think there’s some pretty legit questions you can ask at this point. Now of course I’m sure you could construct a justification for owning this item, and Dotcom’s more than welcome to, but it’d have to be a pretty good argument.

    Keir, you are inferring far too much from this. If someone wants to add a famous book to their collection this doesn’t mean that they will agree with it and maybe use it as a manual for autocracy and genocide. My great grandfather was a prize p___k in his treatment of my great grandmother, but we have just purchased an iron canopy bed that his Lancashire factory made in the 1870s. He worked his way up from street urchin to factory owner and he very likely designed the bed himself. The bed will become a treasured family heirloom with connections to my lineage (despite some aspects of it being grubby and dark). This doesn’t mean that I wish to mistreat my lovely wife.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 258 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    come to the universal agreement that the Nazis were not just bad humans but literally demonic in some way

    And that I find far more troublesome than Kim Dotcom's ownership of a copy of any book. I suppose demonising of the Nazis and WW2 era Germans generally has been going on since the war, but the trend to literally demonise or dehumanise them by portraying them as non-human monsters is really worrying. Especially considering how portraying them as human are received. I think Nazi memorabilia rightly belongs in museums and libraries where it can be used for academic and educational purposes, rather than in the hands or vaults of private collectors, but I have no problem with private collectors owning Nazi memorabilia because at least that way it's still out there for people to learn from (and yes, even locked in a vault - see the current fuss and bother). But I can't help but feel this horror at the idea of Kim Dotcom owning a copy of Mein Kampf - yes, even if it is signed by Hitler - as part of this movement to present the Nazis as non-human Other. Portraying the Nazis as anything other than fully human seems to be an attempt to absolve ourselves of the possibility of such evil, and that, to me, is far more dangerous than any multimillionaire owning a book that creeps people out.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Portraying the Nazis as anything other than fully human seems to be an attempt to absolve ourselves of the possibility of such evil, and that, to me, is far more dangerous than any multimillionaire owning a book that creeps people out.

    The one WWII-related museum I visited in Germany - the exhibit associated with the rally grounds in Nuremberg - was designed to explain exactly how the Nazis had become popular and widely-supported in Germany over the course of the 1930s, and that had progressed into WWII and the Holocaust. It was thorough and interesting and pretty hard to deal with, but it never lost sight of the fact that ordinary people had enabled and accepted what the Nazis became.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    I think Nazi memorabilia rightly belongs in museums and libraries where it can be used for academic and educational purposes, rather than in the hands or vaults of private collectors, but I have no problem with private collectors owning Nazi memorabilia because at least that way it’s still out there for people to learn from (and yes, even locked in a vault – see the current fuss and bother).

    What is there to learn from Nazi memorabilia? I can see things like ballistic missile blue prints being useful. But I get the impression you are suggesting that the hard to get your hands on, autographed book has some sort of academic/educational use, other than the stimulus for a philosophic discussion like we are having.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4163 posts Report Reply

  • Alastair Thompson,

    Most excellent point Craig, and very well made, and quickly too. Bravo!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 220 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Attachment

    Through a friend of a friend who knows people, I've managed to get a copy of the books inside cover with Hitler's signature:

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    John Drinnan basically writes that connections are everything when it comes to the media, and he thinks it’s why Key has the edge. He also thinks the Left bloc needs its equivalent of Cam Slater. I’m not so sure that it should stoop to that kind of level.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5410 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to steven crawford,

    What is there to learn from Nazi memorabilia?

    Well, see what Lucy wrote about

    designed to explain exactly how the Nazis had become popular and widely-supported in Germany over the course of the 1930s

    Hard to do that without presenting them as fully human. Memorabilia brings that humanity to life.

    the stimulus for a philosophic discussion like we are having.

    Is also a good and necessary thing.

    So, Nazi memorabilia has real value.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

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