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copake_ham
09-08-2006, 10:57 PM
Didn't Leonard Bernstein, the composer/conductor (West Side Story etc)
have the same sort of scrutiny after the war as well.


Michael

This one Michael, I do not at all understand.

Lenny was American born, grew up in suburban Boston and had an affair with his mentor, also American born, Aaron Copland. We all know that.

He came into prominence in 1943 when he conducted the New York Philharmonic as a fill-in for a ill Walter Bruno.

He later went on to compose a number of both "classical" and "semi-classical" works including "On the Town"; "Candide"; "West Side Story" etc.

Is your point that he was gay?

Here are some links:

Google "hit" on Leonard Bernstein for full research:

http://www.google.com/musica?aid=lvqOQJLAbkN&sa=X&oi=music&ct=result

Wikapedia (and I now the pros and cons of this citing this site) but this one is quite accurate and more "honest" about his sexual preferences - since that may concern you:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Bernstein

And the "official" bio from Sony records:

http://www.sonyclassical.com/artists/bernstein/bio.html

Now, would you answer three questions?

1) Why would you bring Lenny Bernstein into this thread to begin with?

2) Having done so, what was the reasoning why you felt a need to cast aspersion on his character?

3) Do you think that Lenny B. some how used his artistic talent to glorify a murderous leader and regime bent on exterminating people (Jews such as himself) so that you would equate him with Leni R.?

Kind of like a "Say wha'?" situation here, Michael.

Kino
09-09-2006, 12:22 AM
Well - at least Roger admitted that it's not a very good sports portrait!

And many of you have revealed yourselves.


And you have revealed yourself for what you really are too...

copake_ham
09-09-2006, 12:24 AM
And you have revealed yourself for what you really are too...

Yep, a straight, lapsed Catholic liberal from Noo Yawk! :D

Oh, BTW, I think you should have at least granted me the decency of referring to me as a person. I am not a "what"; I am a "who".

titrisol
09-09-2006, 01:09 AM
Politics aside I have always liked Leni Riefenstahl work.
She was a good photographer, and a brilliant movie maker.
I rememeber seing her movies about the 1936 Olympiad in my early 20s and was extremely impressed. I can even see today's SuperBowl or WorldCup final and think of her.
IIRC she was commisioned to portrait the athletes for the olympiad as close to "modern day" greek images as she could, thus making them pose with little clothing and creating sport photography by itself.

The portrait of Jessee Owens is just brilliant, all the determination in those eyes is awesome!
More Olympia photos here:
http://www.leni-riefenstahl.de/eng/photo.html



I know she had a controversial life, but this is one of the best sporting portraits ever in my eyes. Anyone else ?

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.artnet.com/artwork_images/1055/72291t.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.artnet.com/Galleries/Artists_detail.asp%3FG%3D%26gid%3D1055%26which%3D% 26aid%3D152364%26ViewArtistBy%3Donline%26rta%3Dhtt p://www.artnet.com&h=146&w=185&sz=5&hl=en&start=1&tbnid=5uNbjCikxtdQHM:&tbnh=80&tbnw=102&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dleni%2Briefenstahl%2Bjesse%2Bowens%2B portrait%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26ie%3DUTF-8

Regards, John.

Roger Hicks
09-09-2006, 02:45 AM
I wouldn't say that the talent is degraded by her actions--she is not any less of a photographer because she used it to support the Nazi cause. She is less of a human. Since she used her art to support the cause, this taints the art, in my view.

Also, since I have nothing against gay people, I would say that your analogy is not accurate at best. At worst, it is insulting.

Matt

Dear Matt,

We have a fundamental difference of perception here: art cannot be tainted. Either it's art, or it isn't. The artist is another matter.

As for the gay analogy, I have nothing against gay people either. Or against many communists. And I've met enough ex-Nazis to understand how people can be sucked into something without really knowing what they are doing or supporting (note that I am not saying that Leni Riefenstahl was, or was not, in the last category).

What I meant was simply this: there are plenty of anti-communists and homophobes who will make exactly the same argument about 'tainted' art because its originators were communist or gay. Their views are no more defensible than yours.

Cheers,

Roger

Roger Hicks
09-09-2006, 02:49 AM
"Mein Kampf" was, first, not so widely read...

As anyone who has ever tried to read it will know, a major reason for this is that it is almost completely unreadable. It makes the Thoughts of Chairman Mao look like a fast-moving, lightweight novel.

A far better historian than I assures me that quite a lot of it was lifted from Henry Ford. I have no reason to doubt his assertion -- several barons of industry were impressively anti-Semitic, including George Eastman and Edison -- but I have not verified this.

Cheers,

Roger

Roger Hicks
09-09-2006, 02:59 AM
And many of you have revealed yourselves.

Am I alone in finding this slightly sinister? Who have revealed themselves as what? If I have misinterpreted this, I apologize, but it does smack of "We know where you live..."

Cheers,

Roger

leeturner
09-09-2006, 03:10 AM
Roger, maybe it's a case of people revealing themselves of having either their own or differing opinions to what several of the posters have determined is the only opinion. As in the thread titled "Really dumb Question" there seems to be a couple of posters making comments which are no more than thinly disguised personal attacks.
Not the first time.

catem
09-09-2006, 04:21 AM
This may not be relevant to this discussion but it's put me in mind of the dilemmas that can arise over whether ethical issues can be separated from something which may have a fundamental usefulness - the decision of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra quoted earlier is interesting.


Again, I may be wrong in detail here but I think after the war the Norwegian Navy was interested in data the Nazis had accumulated on how to improve safety conditions aboard ship. The data, horrifyingly, included experiments on prisoners in concentration camps to see how long people take to drown.

It was thought to be highly useful information, which would possibly help to save many lives, but the decision was made not to use it. I suppose you could argue both ways - on the one hand, make something positive out of the terrible experiences of those people. On the other hand (my feeling is this was probably right in this particular case)- the information is too awful to handle.

But...I may be digressing, and it may not connect directly with Riefenstal's work, (and I don't think anyway you can lump all her work together) though there may be parallels...
Cate

Lukas Werth
09-09-2006, 04:23 AM
A far better historian than I assures me that quite a lot of it (in "Mein Kampf") was lifted from Henry Ford. I have no reason to doubt his assertion -- several barons of industry were impressively anti-Semitic, including George Eastman and Edison -- but I have not verified this.


Interesting. I never heard that, but it seems worth to track. I have no idea how widely read Henry Ford was in inter-war Germany, and whether he was translated. Hitler certainly did not know enough English to read the original. I would have constructed other lines of heritage, primarily from the violently anti-semitic background of Vienna in the first decades of the 20th century.

Roger Hicks
09-09-2006, 08:04 AM
Dear Lukas,

Your argument about translation is indeed an important point. Next time I speak with the friend in question I will ask him for sources, if I remember. It is something I have never investigated, simply because it is a period of history in which I am not that interested, but along the same lines, some of my American Jewish friends can get quite excited about the anti-Semitism of Edison and others.

My own suspicion is that the Jews were simply an easy, convenient target: 'other' enough to attack, but not so 'other' that they were out of the experience of the majority of people.

It is also easy to forget the extent of what one might call 'casual' anti-Semitism, though I believe (and hope) it has declined since I was a boy. When I was at school, I once heard a boy say, "I think Dennis [the housemaster] is Jewing me, so I've started keeping all my money in a Jew-box and writing it all down on a Jew-sheet." No-one (except apparently me) appeared to think his vocabulary unusual, and everyone understood what he meant: 'to Jew', to cheat; 'Jew-box', cash-box; Jew-sheet, accounts. This was a minor public school in England some 40 years ago.

And yet, there was extraordinarly little linking of this sort of thing with personalities. I doubt there were more than a couple of dozen Jews at my old school (out of about 600 -- which was probably a fair reflection of the overall religious balance of the region and social class at the time). But the only person I can remember actually noticing to be Jewish was a girl at the nearby girls' school whom I rather fancied; and I noticed her because her parents clearly preferred she should go out with a nice Jewish boy. By my university days I was sometimes mistaken for the latter but that's another story.

Cheers,

Roger

Kino
09-09-2006, 09:40 AM
As a film archivist who has Timed (graded the film from scene to scene for contrast and exposure) original outtakes from "Olympia", a dupe negative of "Triumph of the Will" and the camera-original, nitrate negative of the Nazi extermination of the Warsaw Ghetto, I have seen and held in my hands, byproducts directly relating to Nazism and the art used to encourage that insane political movement.

Warsaw Ghetto; It wasn't fun watching hundreds of skeleton-like corpses slide down makeshift wood and tin slides into huge slit trenches, or see those who were executed, lined up and shot in the back of the head. The film itself was very plainly made; a competently exposed, framed and shot film, but it was only the horrific subject matter that made it so powerful.

It WAS entertaining to watch the camera work and precision timing of Olympia and TOTW from a purely aesthetic and technical standpoint and see first hand the obvious skill used to craft these persuasive documents that lead to the gruesome climax of WWII.

I must say that those who, by reflex, condemn and cast aside Riefenstahl's work for whatever reason are, in my opinion, condemned to relearn the painful lessons of history that have been paid for with millions of lives already. If anything else, it should be taken up and studied more intently as it was used as an instrument for evil, and I don't think it can be denied that it was a quite effective instrument.

If you don't understand why it was effective, why the art behind the madness pulled so many people along to their graves, then you stand a chance of being the next to jump in the grinding machine of war for insane principals.

Now that electronic media saturates everyday life for most people, I has become my impression that they somehow feel they are sophisticated consumers of media, when in fact, I find that most don't have a CLUE as to how they are being manipulated and how their emotions are being toyed with to advance various political agendas; which is just what Riefenstahl's work was used to accomplish.

Sadly, I feel a vast majority of my fellow Americans are some of the least sophisticated consumers of media and are growing more feeble by the year if the film and television programs that are cropping up as of late are any indication.

How does that tie in to modern life? So glad you asked...

It will be interesting to see public reaction (everywhere) to the ABC television movie on 9/11 and how they react should the program grossly misrepresent the events leading up to and beyond the attacks on the WTC. The filmmaker certainly appears to have an ax to grind and has made no bones about his affiliation to the far Religous Right in the past (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/max-blumenthal/discover-the-secret-right_b_29015.html) , so this should be an interesting test of reactions...

Can art be separated from dogma? I think so, but you won't see that being encouraged in the USA, as it does NOT feed into the political agendas on either side of the fence.

Asbestos underwear on...

billschwab
09-09-2006, 09:58 AM
While Mr. Hicks' posts no longer come through on my version of APUG, I cannot escape his quotations when used by others. Although Henry Ford's anti-semitic views were well known through the publication of his "newspaper", The Dearborn Independent and he was in fact mentioned in "Mein Kampf", I would think he might want to check his facts about much of this "book" being "lifted" from Henry Ford's writings. I can find no information that addresses this. Even us pseudo intellectuals need to keep our facts straight. :)

Also, in the interest of historical correctness, Henry Ford was awarded and did accept the "Grand Cross of the German Eagle" here in Dearborn in 1938. Ford later renounced his anti-semitic beliefs under business pressures and the threat of boycott although it is widely believed this was less than sincere.

B.

Ole
09-09-2006, 10:23 AM
Again, I may be wrong in detail here but I think after the war the Norwegian Navy was interested in data the Nazis had accumulated on how to improve safety conditions aboard ship. The data, horrifyingly, included experiments on prisoners in concentration camps to see how long people take to drown.

It was thought to be highly useful information, which would possibly help to save many lives, but the decision was made not to use it. I suppose you could argue both ways - on the one hand, make something positive out of the terrible experiences of those people. On the other hand (my feeling is this was probably right in this particular case)- the information is too awful to handle.

I'm afraid your feeling is wrong. The reason the data were not used is that they were fundamentaly flawed - starved concentration camp prisoners are a lot more susceptible to hypothermia than healthy sailors. There was a quite heavy debate about the ethics at the time, but in general it was felt that if the data could be used, then at least the many deaths could save some lives.

catem
09-09-2006, 10:31 AM
Thanks for the correction, Ole! I'll try to remember it properly this time.

I still think the dilemma and ethical debate at the time may have connections with the dilemma of how to react to some of Riefanstahl's work. Of course, I'm not saying it's exactly the same.

best wishes,
Cate

blansky
09-09-2006, 10:32 AM
This one Michael, I do not at all understand.

Lenny was American born, grew up in suburban Boston and had an affair with his mentor, also American born, Aaron Copland. We all know that.

He came into prominence in 1943 when he conducted the New York Philharmonic as a fill-in for a ill Walter Bruno.

He later went on to compose a number of both "classical" and "semi-classical" works including "On the Town"; "Candide"; "West Side Story" etc.

Is your point that he was gay?

Here are some links:

Google "hit" on Leonard Bernstein for full research:

http://www.google.com/musica?aid=lvqOQJLAbkN&sa=X&oi=music&ct=result

Wikapedia (and I now the pros and cons of this citing this site) but this one is quite accurate and more "honest" about his sexual preferences - since that may concern you:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Bernstein

And the "official" bio from Sony records:

http://www.sonyclassical.com/artists/bernstein/bio.html

Now, would you answer three questions?

1) Why would you bring Lenny Bernstein into this thread to begin with?

2) Having done so, what was the reasoning why you felt a need to cast aspersion on his character?

3) Do you think that Lenny B. some how used his artistic talent to glorify a murderous leader and regime bent on exterminating people (Jews such as himself) so that you would equate him with Leni R.?

Kind of like a "Say wha'?" situation here, Michael.

I was responding to/adding to what Jovo said about Wagner. But I was way off base on the musician/conductor.

It was Herbert von Karajan and not Bernstein. My knowledge of conductors is sorely lacking.

Michael

Roger Hicks
09-09-2006, 10:36 AM
While Mr. Hicks' posts no longer come through on my version of APUG, I cannot escape his quotations when used by others.
B.

Alas, Bill will not see this, but others will. I did say that I had not checked this. But he prefers not to read what I write.

Roger

Alex Hawley
09-09-2006, 10:38 AM
Back to the original topic: I think its a compelling portrait. It stands on its own even after the passage of time. No context is needed.

blansky
09-09-2006, 10:39 AM
Well - at least Roger admitted that it's not a very good sports portrait!

And many of you have revealed yourselves.

Why the nasty tone. We are discussing a controversial photographer/person here and different people have different opinions about her.

Terms like, "revealed yourselves" and "moral relativism" that you throw around are nothing more than thinly veiled insults.

I didn't see anybody doing that to you.

Michael

Helen B
09-09-2006, 10:46 AM
Isn't there also a question about whether the translations of Mein Kampf were complete? It's thirty years since I struggled through an English translation, but I do recall that the preface mentioned the absence of the more extreme parts. It was turgid, to say the least.

Anyway, back to the main plot. What exactly is it anyway? Our opinions of the association or dissociation of Riefenstahl's talent from the way she used it are going to be coloured by our own views of the association between art, politics and life in general.

For me, they are integral anyway - art without context is a bourgeois conceit (my view). I'm not saying that there is anything desperately wrong with it being a bourgeois conceit, just that I hope for something else. If art is just about how nice the pictures are, then it as dead as the Situationists said it was. Dissociating Riefenstahl's talent from the way she used it is to relegate it to an irrelevant sideshow. I also believe that it is very important to remember that talent can be used to promote repugnant ideals very effectively, and I think that Kino is saying the same. But all of this paragraph is just the way I look at it.

Because I see that as a personal viewpoint, I don't think that anyone who has argued against me has 'revealed themselves' in a bad light at all. On the contrary, I was thinking about how civilised and rational you all are, and how well personal attacks and animosity had been kept out of this potentially explosive subject. After some of the recent posts, I'd like to make that very clear. That's not to say that I am comfortable with all the opinions expressed, however.

Best,
Helen