At war with the senses : Nazi aesthetics and cinematic perception / by Carsten Strathausen.
This dissertation examines the aestheticization of the public sphere during German fascism within the psychoanalytical framework of films aesthetics. Embedded in a socio-historical survey regarding the emergence of modern scopic regimes, the study provides a spectator-oriented analysis of German fascist aesthetics as it examines recent philosophical and psychoanalytical theories of subjectivity in conjunction with the ideological implications of the cinematic apparatus for its audience. Fascism draws rhetorical power from the profound re-structuring of modern perception which film helped to inaugurate. The fascist spectacle of symbols and images in architecture and sculpture, mass-rituals and everyday life does not simply borrow from the manifest content or stage-designs of Weimar films, but indeed relies on cinematic codes and the disembodied gaze of the camera in its attempt to stage reality like a film. A perverted redemption of political ideals articulated in late eighteenth and nineteenth century German aesthetics, the cinematic aestheticization of reality exploits the narcissistic fantasies of an economically and psychologically deprived people to conceal the brutality of Nazi terror. As a preparation for the total war to come, Nazi aesthetics capitalized on pre-existing regressive tendencies in Weimar society as exemplified in the work of Ernest Junger or in the genre of the mountain film, which mobilizes the experience of the sublime as a means for the audience to cope with modern fragmentation and feelings of disempowerment. Within the theoretical framework provided by thinkers such as Baudrillard, Althusser, and Adorno, the study emphasizes the possibility of self-reflexive individuality to resist the fascist imaginary precisely where it seemed to be most efficient: in the realm of art.
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