Friday, June 30, 2006


Some More Books

I bought some books by one of my favourite authors today – namely A.C. Grayling – The Meaning of Things, The Reason of Things, The Heart of Things and The Wisdom of Things.  Four beautifully produced books.  I simply could not resist the temptation. Grayling is a very fine philosopher and cultural commentator and is worth reading again and again for his insights, and for both the depth and breadth of his knowledge and understanding.  In an article in one of the above books he writes about the aesthetics of Nazism, how Hitler had a very sophisticated if narrow, authoritarian and brutally stunted view of the beautiful.  Anything outside the classical 19th century German art Hitler dubbed as “degenerate”, distorted and “unfinished.”  Both Hitler and Goering were fanatical art collectors and literally robbed all the galleries of Europe of their art collections.  Those paintings they did not like or thought of as garish and “degenerate” they, of course, did not destroy, but rather sold on to foreign interested parties.

And this, strangely enough, or maybe understandably enough, was also to serve the maniacal dreams of a madman who sought to dominate the world and exterminate a whole race.  Hitler’s whole understanding of art and music, architecture and town planning were all aspects of his drive to power and control.  His aesthetics and ethics all derived from this delusional sense of his own power, from the crass projections of his own inflated ego.

Read Grayling – he’s brilliant!  Then read anything you can get your hands on by Primo Levi who spent time in the hellhole of Auschwitz.  Then read Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl who spent years at another concentration camp, namely Dachau.  Frankl was a world-renowned psychiatrist who wrote this famous book in his mind over the period of his incarceration.  When he was eventually liberated he was able to write it down from memory.  It was in the Dachau camp that he invented his own school of psychotherapy called “logotherapy”, namely that the most fundamental urge in any human being is his search for meaning.

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