“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Saturday, December 09, 2006

thoughts on Christmas

In 1937, for a Christmas present, Goebbels gave Hitler 18 Mickey Mouse films. Goebbels was always a big Disney cartoon fan – Snow White, in particular, was a favorite.

Christmas, too, was a favorite of the Nazis. An officially sanctioned favorite. Long before Bill O’Reilly discovered that Christmas was being traduced by traitors from within, the Nazis had found in Christmas a powerful way to promote a number of their most signal policies. Hitler’s state was the first modern guns and butter regime, and such regimes require a resilient consumer sector. The most zealous Nazis tried to make Weihnacht into a more Aryan holiday, promoting the use of Yule, for instance. But the effect of the Nazi re-inflation in Germany is more coolly represented in Heimat, which shows the high point of the thirties as a Christmas – the Christmas of 1937 or 1938, I believe. Sebald mentions the mythical Christmases of the 30s in his book on the Air War. The Fox news emphasis on the American-ness of this peculiar holiday simply follows, blindly, a logic at work in war culture economies – the identity of country and consumerism in a holiday that sanctifies using a credit card or spending Deutsche marks.

War’s id finds, in Christmas, a particularly rich text. It is a place where all the many poisons in the system can come out as cranberry sauce and war games for the kids. Let them grow up remembering, on this festive occasion in which we can proudly look across the ocean to the piles and piles of Iraqi bodies, all murdered in an act of generosity by the great American people, that America is a uniquely benign super power, for which Jesu Christi was spangled on a Christmas tree. A great baby, a great savior, who never left home without his Visa card. Imagine, this year Santa is splashing through the blood of thousands of bad little Iraqi children just to bring American children, all nestled in their beds of democracy and CO2, the nicest little computer gifts global corporations can provide! Makes me feel warm and snug.

Ah, and here’s a nice little 1919 Christmas poem by Tucholsky to end with. Here’s the German, with my translation:


Was schenke ich dem kleinen Michel
zu diesem kalten Weihnachtsfest?
Den Kullerball? Den Sabberpichel?
Ein Gummikissen, das nicht näßt?
Ein kleines Seifensiederlicht?
Das hat er noch nicht. Das hat er noch nicht!

Wähl ich den Wiederaufbaukasten?
Schenk ich ihm noch mehr Schreibpapier?
Ein Ding mit schwarzweißroten Tasten;
ein patriotisches Klavier?
Ein objektives Kriegsgericht?
Das hat er noch nicht. Das hat er noch nicht!

Schenk ich den Nachttopf ihm auf Rollen?
Schenk ich ein Moratorium?
Ein Sparschwein, kugelig geschwollen?
Ein Puppenkrematorium?
Ein neues gescheites Reichsgericht?
Das hat er noch nicht. Das hat er noch nicht!

Ach, liebe Basen, Onkels, Tanten –
Schenkt ihr ihm was. Ich find es kaum.
Ihr seid die Fixen und Gewandten,
hängt ihrs ihm untern Tannenbaum.
Doch schenkt ihm keine Reaktion!
Die hat er schon. Die hat er schon!

What am I going to get little Mikey
on this cold Christmas day?
The little ball? a bib for the tykie?
A waterproof little rubber tray?
A clue, that’s what I could get!
He doesn’t have that yet. Nope, he doesn’t have that yet.

Perhaps the re-building set, please?
Or how about more stationary?
A thingamabob with whiteblackred keys;
a patriotic piano?
An objective war report I might get?
He doesn’t have that yet. He doesn’t have that yet!

How about a little potty on wheels?
How about a moratorium?
A pig for his pennies, swollen from deals?
Or a G.I. Joe doll crematorium?
Hey, a war tribunal with rights I might get?
He doesn’t have that yet. Oh, he doesn’t have that yet?

O, dear cousins, uncles and aunts –
Give him something good. I can hardly find it.
You day traders, short sellers, financial hot pants
hang it up for him under the Christmas tree.
But don’t give him any more pro-war shit!
He has just enough. Just enough of it!


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