Saturday, May 31, 2008

And now for something remotely similar...

(Image from Wikipedia)

Okay, I was stretching the truth yesterday. Claire Berlinski doesn't really like Till Lindemann or Rammstein.

That is, she doesn't rationally assent to the temptation whispering in her own heart when "in a growling bass whisper, Lindemann urges the audience: 'Mit dem Herzen denken!'" (Claire Berlinski, Menace in Europe, page 196).

"Think with your heart!" demand these words, uttered in the song "Links-Zwo-Drei-Vier," and Berlinski, remembering and quoting a passage by the Nazi speechmaster Hugo Ringler, finds an echo of the National Socialists' emphasis upon stirrings of the heart:
[Hitler] spoke not to the understanding but to the heart. He spoke out of his heart into the heart of his listener. And the better he understood how to execute this appeal to the heart, the more willingly he exploited it and the more receptive was the audience to his message. One could not at all at that time persuade the German people by rational argument; things worked out badly for parties that tried that approach. The people were won by the man who struck the chord that others had ignored -- the feelings, the sentiment or, as one wants to call it, the heart. (Hugo Ringler, quoted in Claire Berlinski, Menace in Europe, page 196)
This quote comes from the sixth paragraph in Ringler's essay "Heart or Reason? What We Don't Want from Our Speakers," published in the Nazi Party's magazine for propagandists, Unser Wille und Weg (Our Will and Way), 7 (1937), pp. 245-249.

Not that the Rammstein is aware of any of this, and though Berlinski is impressed despite herself by Lindemann's emotive power, she recognizes Rammstein's perhaps unwitting links to the right and recoils from her attraction. In discussing the punning-pummeling song "Los," she writes:
For men who are basically quite stupid, they do come up with some clever puns. The suffix -los means "-less" in English but, when used as an adjective, means "off" or "loose." As a command, Los! means "go." When Lindemann sings "Sie sind gottlos," he pauses dramatically between gott and los. For a moment, it sounds as if he is singing, "You are God." The song conveys an eerie combination of self-pity and menace. You do hear it -- just what you think you hear. (Claire Berlinski, Menace in Europe, page 221)
In effect, implies Berlinski, Lindemann is telling his hearers that they are gods and urging them to go . . . go and do something, but what?

Go and become proud, nationalistic Germans again?
Since the death of Christian Europe, Europe's new social order has been rooted in the nation state. Nationalism, propagated through the emerging secular channel of print media, restored meaning and ritual to European civic life. National ceremonies replaced those of the Church. The nation-state in Europe has always been more than an administrative structure; it has been a pseudo-spiritual entity, imparting meaning to the lives of men. (Claire Berlinski, Menace in Europe, pages 239-240)
Berlinski worries that the Germans might be seeking their national soul again, might again become a menace in Europe.

Is she right? She does note "The Nazi manner" of diese Männer:
Just go down the checklist. The color: black. The material: leather. The seduction: beauty. The justification: honesty. The aim: ecstasy. The fantasy: death. Check, check, check. And they dominate German popular culture. It is the Germans who are fascinated by Rammstein, who are gobbling up this virtually undisguised Third Reich revivalism, devouring it as if they've been starved for years. But that's not Germany, you say? It's just a handful of jackbooted Teutonic nihilists who happen to be German. Then who bought all those albums? . . . the German people, the bourgeois German establishment. (Claire Berlinski, Menace in Europe, pages 229-230)
Well, perhaps. But Rammstein is popular outside Germany, too.

Still, one can't help but wonder...

Labels: , ,

6 Comments:

At 6:54 AM, Blogger Eshuneutics said...

Rammstein. This is a new departure for you; always full of surprises.
Now that video on You Tube...Thank God it lacks the dark imagination and dangerous skill of Riefenstahl.

 
At 7:20 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I have Berlinski to thank for this recent twist, but I was more curious than I might otherwise have been because of my six-year stay in Deutschland.

Rammstein is definitely something different than the Germany that I knew, and it does dredge up images from the 20s and 30s . . . or images of images, for I didn't live through that part of the 20th century.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 7:54 AM, Blogger Hathor said...

Industrial is popular in my son's generation. He's 28. German Industrial may not all be nationalistic, but represents a mechanize world. Sort of an Art Deco look, but all dark, menacing world world run by robots. My interpretation. Heavy on beat and electronic mixing.
I wish I could remember the group my son liked. I had to live with the red wallpaper with the four musicians in black.

 
At 8:14 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Hathor, I may be encountering this stuff in a few years as my two children grow into their teenage years. Why, just this morning, my 12-year-old daughter was doing her utmost to dress like a teenager.

Though I can't quite imagine what Korean Gothic would look like...

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 
At 4:52 AM, Anonymous Erdal said...

When Lindemann sings "Sie sind gottlos," he pauses dramatically between gott and los. For a moment, it sounds as if he is singing, "You are God." [...] In effect, implies Berlinski, Lindemann is telling his hearers that they are gods and urging them to go . . . go and do something

No, it doesn't. It sounds as if he is singing "They are godless."

It's obvious from the lyrics that this particular "sie" in the text is 3. person plural: those whose music is considered shameless, tasteless, senseless, godless: Rammstein themselves, as characterized by the verdict of their critics who want to censor them.

Also, I've yet to hear a song which addresses the listener, or the audience as a group, with "Sie" - it's always "Du" (singular) oder "Ihr" (plural).

Given her name, Berlinski ought to have noticed, or known. Moreover, I find it unbecoming to write such things as "For men who are basically quite stupid.."

This is not Third Reich revivalism. Third Reich music was quite a sunny and folksy affair, devoid of pathos. The consumption of too many soundtracks of movies about the Third Reich screws with people's imaginations in this regard, I guess.

When real Neonazis - even young ones - gather in some obscure corner in Germany, they don't employ leather-clad metal types or Rammstein-impersonators -- they hire homely siblings who sing about the frisky birds in the Alps or the benefits of the soil in this region or that for the manufacture of sweet wine or dark beer.

Non-nazi youth prefer their music loud and fast, and their lyrics to be about beauty, honesty, ecstasy and death. Black leather is always a benefit, of course. James Dean kenw this as well as Michael Jackson an Rammstein do. Then, along comes somebody with a Nazi checklist and points his finger: Score!

I vividly remember the uproar, and the nazi-checklist finger pointer's ire, when Kraftwerk sang about the boredom of driving on a highway:

Translation:
We are driving on the Autobahn
In front of us is a wide valley
The sun is shining with glittering rays
The driving strip is a grey track
White stripes, green edge
We are switching the radio on
From the speaker it sounds:
We are driving on the Autobahn


People claimed with a straight face that it was belitteling Auschwitz. That was almost fourty years ago. Little has changed. Incidently, this may be the song and the red poster hathor remembers.

That's why german-language rock acts (or even punk or metal bands) usually never survived for long commercially. Kraftwerk went abroad. This pattern is about to change, and that's all there is about it. Hardly a Fourth Reich in sight.

 
At 5:43 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Erdal, you're right:

"It's obvious from the lyrics that this particular 'sie' in the text is 3. person plural: those whose music is considered shameless, tasteless, senseless, godless: Rammstein themselves, as characterized by the verdict of their critics who want to censor them."

I've just looked at the original lyrics in German, and you're entirely correct, the line -- "Sie sind gottlos" -- does use "Sie" as "They" in exactly the way that you note.

I ought to have noted that myself.

I had also wondered why Berlinski (who doesn't, incidently, know German) called the band members stupid. When I looked at the lyrics to "Reise, Reise" and "Ohne Dich," I found them quite lovely, and I've been singing them to myself for the past several days . . . and they didn't make me feel like a Nazi (but maybe Nazis didn't feel like Nazis either).

I haven't looked at all of Rammstein's songs, however.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

 

Post a Comment

<< Home