- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Hitler the artist

"Adolf Hitler was an artist a modern artist, at that and Nazism was a movement shaped by his aesthetic sensibility. Cosmopolitan Vienna incubated his peculiar genius, as well as his hideous ideas. These views have been in the air recently, and a trenchant scholarly exhibition at the Williams College Museum of Art, in Williamstown, Mass., advances them. By trial and error, a special analysis is in progress. It won't alter our moral and political judgments of Hitler, whose crimes remain immeasurable, but it sure shakes up conventional accounts of modern art.

"Hitler was 18 years old when, in 1908, he moved from Linz and took up residence in Vienna. He walked the same streets as Freud, Gustav Mahler, and Egon Schiele, but he did so as one of the city's faceless, teeming poor. With help from a friend, he earned a meager living drawing postcard views of Vienna and selling them to tourists. Jews were among his companions and patrons. He proved, however, an apt pupil of the city's rampant strains of anti-Semitism, which exploited popular resentment of the wealthy Jewish bourgeoisie that had arisen under Franz Josef I. Hitler studied the spellbinding oratorical style of the city's widely beloved populist, anti-Semitic mayor, Karl Lueger.

"The young Hitler was wild for Wagnerian opera, stately architecture and inventive graphic art and design. His taste in painting was and remained philistine."

Peter Schjeldahl, writing on "Hitler as Artist," in the Aug. 19 issue of the New Yorker

Head hippie

"If you lived in Philadelphia in the '60s, you know who [Ira] Einhorn was. Harbinger of the new age, ambassador of acid, Earth Day organizer, environmental activist, Free University founder and professor, Einhorn was 'indisputably Philadelphia's head hippie,' as the Village Voice put it, 'its No. 1 freak.'

"The event that would transform Ira Einhorn went nearly unnoticed. When Holly Maddux, his delicately beautiful girlfriend of five years, disappeared in the fall of 1977, the transient college-based community around her and Einhorn paid little attention. When she failed to reappear, however, a closer scrutiny came Einhorn's way. [Police got] a search warrant on Ira Einhorn's apartment. It was served on March 29, 1978, and police found Holly Maddux's battered and partially mummified body in a trunk in the bedroom closet, packed in Styrofoam, air fresheners and newspapers.

"Einhorn's status as a countercultural hero faded quickly: His publications were few; his activism grandstanding; his expertise followed a path steadily away from even the countercultural mainstream toward the far-out.

"And any doubt as to Einhorn's guilt was resolved for most Philadelphians by another event. With his trial scheduled for the early spring of 1981, Einhorn nearly effortlessly skipped the bail provided by his friend and supporter, Barbara Bronfman, and disappeared into Europe."

Neil Gordon, writing on "Ira Einhorn's long, strange trip," Aug. 14 in Salon at www.salon.com

Conservative Elvis?

In a day when Britney Spears is more famous for her navel than her voice and the Osbournes parade their pathologies on television, it's hard to imagine the sensation that Elvis caused with his arrival.

"Elvis's early difficulties with American moralists make it tempting to suggest that he was but an earlier version of, say, Eminem. But unlike the notorious Eminem, in both his lyrics and tastes, Elvis was pure Middle America.

"In a recent interview, William F. Buckley noted that Elvis might even be thought conservative today, ironically opposing a 1960s culture of liberation that in some senses he helped create and that ended up killing him. Which only tells us that American culture changed far more than Elvis did."

from "Long Lives the King," an editorial in Friday's Wall Street Journal

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