lundi 20 septembre 2010

Fascinating Fascism

The very same year of Ilsa’s first appearance Susan Sontag’s classic essay on Fascinating Fascism adressed the growing fad of Nazi pornography, asking how Nazi Germany, “which was a sexually repressive society, become erotic”. Beyond the strange contradiction by which “extreme right-wing movements, however puritanical and repressive the realities they usher in, have an erotic surface”, showing predilection for highly sexual metaphors (“The leader makes the crowd come”), Fascist aesthetics

“flow from (and justify) a preoccupation with situations of control, submissive behavior, and extravagant effort; they exalt two seemingly opposite states, egomania and servitude. The relations of domination and enslavement take the form of a characteristic pageantry: the massing of groups of people; the turning of people into things; the multiplication of things and grouping of people/things around an all-powerful, hypnotic leader figure or force. The fascist dramaturgy centers on the orgiastic transactions between mighty forces and their puppets. (…) Fascist art glorifies surrender; it exalts mindlessness: it glamorizes death”.

Most deeply, it is theatricality that unites fascism (“fascism is theater," quoting Jean Genet) and sadomasochistic sexuality:

“When sexuality depends so much on its being "staged," sex (like politics) becomes choreography. Regulars of sadomasochistic sex are expert costumers and choreographers; they are performers in the professional sense. And in a drama that is all the more exciting because it is forbidden to ordinary people. (…). It should not be surprising that it has become attached to Nazi symbolism in recent years. Never before in history was the relation of masters and slaves realized with so consciously artistic a design. Sade had to make up his theater of punishment and delight from scratch, improvising the decor and costumes and blasphemous rites. Now there is a master scenario available to everyone. The color is black, the material is leather, the seduction is beauty, the justification is honesty, the aim is ecstasy, the fantasy is death”.

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