I’ve been reading a lot about Adolf Hitler lately.
I’m not turning into a neo-Nazi or anything like that. There’s actually a good reason I’ve been reading about Hitler, which I’ll talk about in public soon enough. Suffice it to say, I’ve become a little bit of a Hitler buff. I actually have an opinion on stuff like whether or not he had only one testicle (maybe) or if he escaped to South America (definitely not).
One of my favorite books about Hitler is called Explaining Hitler by Ron Rosenbaum. It’s part of an emerging genre of books that aren’t so much about Hitler as about what Hitler means or represents. I’ve also enjoyed Imagining Hitler by Alan Rosenfeld, The Meaning of Hitler by Sebastian Hafner and The Hitler of History by John Lukacs. These books focus not on Hitler himself but on the pervasive legend and image of Hitler.
One of the lingering questions about Hitler is whether he really hated the Jews and believed that by exterminating them he could make the world a better place, or if he was just using the already existing anti-Semitism in Europe as a means to power.
Those who believe that Hitler was just pretending to hate the Jews call him a mountebank. A mountebank is someone who sells you an idea by pretending to believe in it himself even though he really doesn’t.
This can be a very useful strategy. Because a true believer in an idea like anti-Semitism tends to get too carried away with his passionate hatred to be truly effective in winning over others. Whereas if you don’t actually believe in such an idea, you can cynically manipulate others who do believe in it without falling into your own trap. Maybe Donald Trump is a mountebank. I don’t know.
In the world of Hitler research, Ron Rosenbaum offers us two people who at first appear to represent these polar opposites. Hugh Trevor-Roper who wrote The Last Days of Hitler believes that Hitler was completely sincere in his hatred of the Jews. Trevor-Roper doesn’t support or agree with Hitler’s views. But in his book, he presents a Hitler who really does believe he is on a mission from Providence (Hitler didn’t like to use the word “God”) to make the world a better place by ridding it of the Jews.
On the other end of the spectrum Rosenbaum first presents us with the vision of Hitler from Alan Bullock’s extraordinarily successful biography, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (the partial inspiration for Philip K Dick’s Man in the High Castle, now a popular Amazon series). In that book Hitler is presented as a pure opportunist. He doesn’t care one way or the other about the Jews. But he knows that the longstanding hatred of Jews is something he can use to gain power, which is his true objective.
However, when Rosenbaum interviews Alan Bullock, he finds that Bullock has revised his opinion. He now sees in Hitler a man who simultaneously both hated the Jews and was cynically exploiting pre-existing anti-Semitism as a means to an end.
To illustrate how this can be, Bullock uses the image of fast moving water. He tells Rosenbaum about a eulogy he delivered just a few hours before their interview. As Bullock delivered the eulogy he became aware that he was at once completely sincere in his words of admiration for the deceased and concerned with whether or not he was connecting to his audience as a lecturer and performer. Bullock describes it as being like light on a fast moving stream flickering with different shapes and intensities. You can’t really pin it down.
Western philosophy, which has become the mainstream throughout the world, doesn’t like contradictions. Aristotle famously said, “It is impossible for the same thing to belong and not to belong at the same time to the same thing and in the same respect.” This idea is at the heart of the scientific method. And it has worked for hundreds of centuries.
However, Dogen Zenji, the founder of the form of Buddhism I’ve studied for the past thirty years, is all about contradiction. His writings are full of it. He often boldly describes situations in which things are both one way and the complete opposite at the very same time. The best example comes from Genjo Koan in volume one of Shobogenzo in which he says:
When all dharmas are [seen as] the Buddha-Dharma, then there is delusion and realization, there is practice, there is life and there is death, there are buddhas and there are ordinary beings. When the myriad dharmas are each not of the self, there is no delusion and no realization, no buddhas and no ordinary beings, no life and no death. The Buddha’s truth is originally transcendent over abundance and scarcity, and so there is life and death, there is delusion and realization, there are beings and buddhas. And though it is like this, it is only that flowers, while loved, fall; and weeds while hated, flourish.
I wrote a detailed analysis of this passage in my book Sit Down and Shut Up and I wrote another analysis of it in my forthcoming book Don’t Be a Jerk, so I’ll let you read those instead of boring you with yet another analysis here. Suffice it to say, Dogen was a contradictory guy.
I find it fascinating that Western historians and scientists just now seem to be discovering what Dogen wrote about 800 years ago and what other Buddhists were saying long before that. Maybe it was necessary for us to go as far as we could with Aristotle’s formulation before we were able to see its flaws.
Aristotle’s ideas have more to do with how we describe reality than what reality is actually like. It reminds me of something I learned early on when I started trying to be a writer.
If you want your story to be understood it’s important that each character has one name and one name only. Amateur writers often make the mistake of thinking they need to spice up their prose by constantly renaming the same character.
Bradley Scott Warner walked to the store. Brad looked at the newspapers. Warner decided he needed some milk. BSW thought about whether to get whole milk or 2%. But the Zen blogger left without buying anything.
Science works the same way. You need everybody to be on the same page if a number of people have to communicate their findings to each other. We all have to know precisely what we’re talking about.
This creates an illusion that objects and even people are just one way or another, and never two contradictory ways at the same time. In order to think about things and people we have to think about specific aspects of those things and people and ignore other aspects.
I think Alan Bullock’s revised idea of Hitler as simultaneously a true believer and a callous manipulator and mountebank is more believable than the idea that he must have been either one or the other but not both. I think Dogen would probably have agreed.
Or maybe he wouldn’t have.
Or maybe he’d have both agreed and disagreed at the same time.
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Oh, so now you’re complaining about Aristotle. When does it end, Brad?
You’re planning on invading Mexico and are looking for tips?
Dammit! BE QUIET!
“Bradley Scott Warner walked to the store. Brad looked at the newspapers. Warner decided he needed some milk. BSW thought about whether to get whole milk or 2%. But the Zen blogger left without buying anything.”
But Dostoievsky does it all the time….
Aristotle says contradiction is when a statement is both true and false “at the same time and in the same respect“.
Master Dogen says “In one respect, there are buddhas etc” and “in another respect, there are not buddhas etc”, and “in a third respect, there are buddhas etc”, and “in a fourth respect, there’s an unrelated observation about gardening”.
Where’s the contradiction?
“worked for hundreds of centuries”
Hah! I’ve figured you out and why zen is wrong!
Hitler, Dogen, and Contradictions walk into a bar…
Do you know who else read a lot about Hitler?
“His (Charlie Manson’s) moral values were completely twisted and warped, but let’s not confuse that with insanity. He was crazy in the way that Hitler was crazy. In fact, Hitler was Manson’s greatest hero – he spoke about Hitler all the time. He said that Hitler had the right answer for everything, that he was a tuned-in guy.”
Time magazine, 8/7/09
So… Dogen was as evil as Hitler, whereas Brad is only as evil as Charlie Manson?
At this time, the ranking in regards to the extent of “evil” or “twisted and warped moral values” would probably be closer to: Hitler > Manson > Brad > Dogen. But we won’t know for certain until after we find out Brad’s total body count.
Brad claims Hitler’s writings were full of contradictions. He also claims that Dogen’s writings are full of contradictions. Brad reads books by both Dogen and Hitler. Manson read books by Hitler. Ergo, Dogen = Hitler while Brad = Manson.
That’s the way logic works, right?
Dostoevsky is confusing. Everything is contradictory. Keeps things interesting.
With Hitler.. The more I learn about the guy the more I don’t care for him.
When all dharmas are the Buddha Dharma, there is Brad Warner and Hitler. When all dharmas are not of the self, there is no Brad Warner or Hitler. But the Buddha’s dharma transcends abundance or scarcity, so there is Brad Warner and Hitler. While this is true, it is only that ugly rumours, while hated, abound, and beautiful stories, while loved, fail to thrive.
For some insight into the changes in German society during the time that Hitler was taking over; especially with regards to the practice of religion, I’d recommend: “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy” by Eric Metaxas.
We are all capable of being Hitlers and Buddhas. To see our full humaness is to see the folly of our raw animal nature in our limited cultural trappings. Human history is filled with slaughter and transgression.
The relative and absolute are at work in each of us, and contradictions abound
Hitler’s reaction to Shobogenzo
Paul Krugman be Damned!
That was a chuckle; only regular readers of this space can really appreciate that, m’thinks…
That video is hilarious. Did you write the subtitles?
There’s an app for it.
“Make your own Hitler video”
I realize that, but my question was did YOU write the captions for that version of the video? Because it is amazing and hilarious and whoever did it deserves a ton of credit and praise.
Yeah, it was me. Woulda blamed Fred if you didn’t like it 😉
Brilliant. Possibly the best thing I’ve seen here. Very entertaining. Bravo!
Woah! Who knew he would get so upset?
That was hilarious! So well written.
I don’t care who ye’ are, that there’s funny!
No no Brad, you don’t get it; it was Hitler’s _other testicle_ that escaped to South America…
Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit
Oh man, that theory’s just nuts!
Amusing, I remembered that I had an original copy of my Kampf somewhere in my house which I have never read. After reading your blog I went looking for it and found it sitting in between a few other books. It is in very bad condition, the front cover shows a very confident picture of Hitler which barely attach to the rest of the book, on the back of the book is a picture of the Nazi flag. Next to it is a book call ‘contradiction theory’ by a french author Alain Badiou, on the other side is a book by Arthur Koestler ‘ the roots of coincidence’, followed by a book on dialectic by the french phenomenological writer Merlau-Ponty. Not to far away is Hegel book on Absolute knowledge, and also a copy of Wittgenstein ,’ tractacus, logico philosophicus’ and a few other books on logic and contradiction. A few years ago I read a book on Hitler and Wittgenstein, the author claim is that both knew each other, they went to the same school in Lintz, at the same time. The same author also think that ‘the jew’, which Hitler refer to in his book is actually ‘Wittgenstein family’ which were one of the wealthiest of all Europe. I would think that jealousy is at the root of Hitler profound disgust for the jews, that and a very serious psychological disorder.
For Aristotle, A=A, A cannot = B, it is either this one or that one, no third middle ‘solution’ is also acceptable. One is one, and therefore cannot be two. But the way I see things are a little bit more ‘subtle’ or crazy: one is more or less two. (A= A actual ^ Bpotential) ^ (B= Bactual ^ Apotential) ^ (T or the third middle is included), ( the symbol ^ meaning here ‘implies’).
I agree about message in this article – that is why nobody can’t really help one another. Because one can’t be in others body to see what one’s problems really is and feel like.
Well, we know he was always going on about Aryan this and Aryan that.
”This creates an illusion that objects and even people are just one way or another, and never two contradictory ways at the same time.”
Brad does have a real job and does not have a real job. Brad does not complain and do indeed complain once and a while.
French-roast is and is not a pain in the butt.
If book sales are the barometer for wisdom, the bible is the wisest book in history, and Brad has a long way to go before catching up to Eckhart Tolle’s level of wisdom and profundity…
I have great stupundity myself, but at least they moves!
Hitler was a monster.
From wiki on the Romani people commonly known as “Gypsies”:
During World War II, the Nazis embarked on a systematic genocide of the Romani, a process known in Romani as the Porajmos. Romanies were marked for extermination and sentenced to forced labor and imprisonment in concentration camps.
They were often killed on sight, especially by the Einsatzgruppen (paramilitary death squads) on the Eastern Front. The total number of victims has been variously estimated at between 220,000 to 1,500,000; even the lowest number would make the Porajmos one of the largest mass killings in history.
Indeed he was.
From another wiki source:
According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
In 1933, there were approximately 9 million Jews in Europe. By 1945, the Nazis had reduced that number to about 3 million. Roma (Gypsies) were also sent to the concentration camps, resulting in about 200,000 Gypsy deaths. Physically and / or mentally handicapped, homosexuals, and Polish intellectuals accounted for at least another 200,000. This totals about 6,400,000 victims of the concentration camps.
The Nazis also killed between 2 and 3 million Soviet prisoners in labor camps or executions. Add to this the non Jewish Poles and Soviets sent to forced labor who died due to malnutrition, unsafe work conditions, disease and “experimentation.”
The exact numbers may never be known, but hopefully this gives you some idea of the magnitude of the Nazi inhumanity. Note Many victims of the Holocaust were not killed in camps.
In Russia and many other parts of the Soviet Union many were killed in mass open air shootings and buried in large pits.
In Poland large numbers of Jews perished in the extremely cramped ghettos that the Nazis created in 1939-40. These areas were walled off … The Nazis allowed grossly insufficient food into the ghettos and no medication. There was a very high death toll from starvation and disease.
After the Jews, the largest group of victims was Soviet prisoners of war: about 3.3 million were killed. Many were held in open air camps and simply starved to death.
… and then you’ve got millions of Ukrainians and Belorussians deliberately starved under Nazi occupation. The Dutch hunger winter. The Communists and Trade Unionists. Freemasons. Catholic clergy. Jehovah’s Witnesses… and ordinary decent criminals. Not to mention about seven million mostly conscripted German soldiers who died, 9 million Soviet troops, 1 million allies and resistance fighters.
Hitler was human, like us all. It’s not hard to explain his ‘peculiarities’. The big question to me is how he got away with it for so long.
I’d say he was on the autistic spectrum to start with, going by his paintings – the buildings are massively detailed, human faces are just blobs. His time in the trenches in WWI likely gave him the start of a good solid psychosis (psychotics are the only people who don’t get shell shock, losing contact with reality is a good survival strategy in a war). He was mainlining amphetamine daily from the ’30s on, which would have held the psychosis firmly in place.
The question is why did millions of people enthusiastically follow this guy? Why did none of his followers take him out, once it was obvious he was mad and he was getting Germany flattened? I know there have been some good explanations suggested for how it happened, but it still seems unreal.
This is a bit of an “on the side” answer, but why would hundreds (if not thousands) of people pledge themselves to a Road to Liberation such as Buddhism, and then hand their faith to manipulative egotic arseholes? I think the problems of psychological projection are all too often overlooked. When the situation is dire, when it combines materialistic problems (such as food, housing, ordinary survival) with symbolic problems (such as the loss of collective dignity and such), it becomes very easy for people to listen to the Sirens of THE simple does-it-all solution.
I think that’s what happened to the German in the 30’ies, and it could happen anywhere else. Especially where there is already a culture of violence…
Speaking of Hitler, Buddhism, and comedy videos, I somehow completely forgot about Brian Ruhe. He has also made some funny videos about the New World Order and UFOs. In his latest videos he sports a snazzy little Hitler mustache.
A mind is a terrible thing…
So, the scientific method and the conclusions of science are reliable when they confirm what “Buddhism” says about something, but not when those conclusions or that method contradict or fail to be able to corroborate what Buddhism says?
Really then, your measure of what is true is “what Buddhism says” and what you experience subjectively, but scientific method or conclusions? Where the two conflict, you go with “what Buddhism says”.
How is this different from “what the Bible says”?
Michel, I think the desire and belief in a simple, quick solution is starting to happen here. Nobody is immune to fear of the future or anger at seeing so few have so much when so many have so little. Especially if you’re on the wrong end of that equation.
I once met a woman who had been a child in Nazi Germany and her parents would take her to attend the Hitler rallies. What she remembered from those rallies was when Hitler approached you, as he worked the crowd, there would be a total, eerie silence surrounding him. He had a nearly hypnotic control of the crowd, according to her. I’m not a Hitler scholar, but I have read about him and the war in Germany. I never have come across this in any print material.
“On a desert island, a magic yours and my land, everyday’s a holiday for two; under a blue sky, dear, we could get an idea, on a desert island made for two.”
Not that I want to change the topic. Oh no!
Here’s something I wrote over on Dao Bums:
‘In my experience, there is no way around ascertaining one’s own necessity. As in, what do I really need, to live.
It’s possible for me to discover my necessity, in one movement of breath:
“Died the great death” is letting go of any voluntary activity of body and mind. At some point, I find that holding still (as it were) cuts off the breath, that is “ascertaining my own necessity”. Coming back to life is receiving all my senses (including equalibrioception, proprioception, and graviception). When I receive all my senses, the location of my awareness can move even if the rest of me is still, that is “open as empty space”; the rest of me can move when the location of my awareness is still (“the millstone turns but the mind does not”), that is “feet walking on the ground of reality”. I can breathe.
In my experience, there is no way around ascertaining one’s own necessity, most immediately in the movement of breath.’
This is the worst comment thread we’ve ever had. Officially, the worst.
that rhino totally redeems the thread.
A tiger pissed all over me once. At a safari park. I was walking outside its enclosure, right at the fence, and it came up and walked beside me and snarled a couple of times. I ignored it and kept walking. We ended up staring at each other, about a foot apart. Then it turned away, and I just had time to think, “wow, I just stared down a tig..”, when it cocked a leg and drenched me.
Tiger pee stinks.
tiger incident—too funny. Takes the phrase “piss on you” to a whole new and higher level.
“So, the scientific method and the conclusions of science are reliable when they confirm what “Buddhism” says about something, but not when those conclusions or that method contradict or fail to be able to corroborate what Buddhism says?”
What makes you write this?
Truth is I hate to commit, because if I commit to one thing or the other there’s a 50% chance that I could be wrong.
I hate being wrong.
You’re probably 99% wrong in feeling that way.
“In 1218, the eastern Khwarazmid provinces of Transoxiana and Khorasan suffered a devastating invasion by Genghis Khan. During this period more than half of Iran’s population was killed, turning the streets of Persian cities such as Neishabur into “rivers of blood”, as the severed heads of men, women, and children were “neatly stacked into carefully constructed pyramids around which the carcasses of the city’s dogs and cats were placed”.
Overall, the Mongol violence and depredations killed up to three-fourths of the population of the Iranian Plateau, possibly 10 to 15 million people.”
3/4ths of Persians were killed by Mongols (10-15 million). Very few people ever mention this when discussing genocides.
Timur and Hulagu were also crazy.
Paradoxically, Nader Shah was inspired by them and did the same thing to Taj Mahal, India:
“Here and there some opposition was offered, but in most places people were butchered unresistingly. The Persians laid violent hands on everything and everybody. For a long time, streets remained strewn with corpses, as the walks of a garden with dead leaves and flowers. The town was reduced to ashes.”
It is very analogous to the creation of the state Israel. That is, Jews experienced a genocide killing 6 million or more of their peoples, so they commit their own conquest in Palestine; this parallels Nader Shah being inspired by Genghis Khan and Timur, who killed his own people, into massacring Indians. What’s done is done. The murderous travail of mankind goes nowhere. Best to be cynical about the whole affair and just wait peacefully for extinction.
That stupid Stephen Pinker would say we’re living in more peaceful times. He is foolish.
Hey, Samsaric! make love not war http://www.violence.de/prescott/bulletin/article.html
“Perhaps the actions, thoughts, wishes and habits of the peoples of the past that had been transferred to later generations via these stories were one of the necessities of life. For thousands of years they have spoken of these same things, performed these same sexual acts, have had these same childish worries — is not the entirety of life one absurd story, one unbelievable and foolish tale? Am I not writing my own fable and tale? A story is nothing more than a way of escaping unfulfilled dreams, — dreams that have not been reached, dreams that each storyteller has imagined according to their own inherited and constrained state of mind.” (Sadegh Hedayat, Blind Owl, Naveed Noori translation)
Buddha damn it…
Now I have to agree with Khru.
Worst comment thread since 1218 CE.
Brad, have you read a book called I am Adolf Hitler by: Werner and Lotte Pelz? Basically it’s 7 monoluges from his last 7 days in the bunker.
Nothing sets a man talking like a sense of mortality.
Love the title of the new book, I have been looking forward to a Dogen book. The pre-order price is very good, based on all the information I have on writers do you get much from pre-sales? I can always get the pre-order price and then just pay pal to make sure you actually get some of the money from your books.
Hitler was definitely a jerk.
more rhino poop:
An Image in the Place of an Image
Placation, for the big rhino h’sef:
Right Bach at you.
ah, beautiful- thanks!
Once Again Zen
Again Zen Once
Zen Once Again
Episode #7: The Foreskin Weakens
How am I not myself?
I think I finally figured out what Zen Master Brad has been implying in his recent articles. The main problem with contemporary Buddhism, and the main reason that Zen Master Brad has not yet become the richest and most famous Buddhist Guru in America is… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Buddhist
That was interesting, about bujus.
“As all things are buddha-dharma, there are delusion, realization, practice, birth and death, buddhas and sentient beings. As myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death. The buddha way, in essence, is leaping clear of abundance and lack; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas. Yet in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread. ”
“…When you see forms or hear sounds, fully engaging body-and-mind, you intuit dharma intimately. Unlike things and their reflections in the mirror, and unlike the moon and its reflection in the water, when one side is illumined, the other side is dark.”
Standing on a bridge in Japan, the dharma was intuited, intimately.
“The real universe is not a static set, but a dynamic process resolving the self-inclusion paradox” http://www.ctmu.org
The organization you reference at the link requires an IQ score of 164 in order to join. As a comparison, MENSA requires 131. There’s a page there that tracks IQ from “profound retard”, to “severe retard”, to “moderate retard” to “mild retard”, to “borderline retard” to “dull normal”, to “Average” to “Bright Normal”, to “Superior”, to “very Superior”, to “Mensa”, to “Poetic Genius”, to “Ultranet”, which is their organization. The head of this organization calls himself a “blue collar cosmologist”. Where do you fit in, little man?
Fuck! I just found the link at random… not endorsing any of that.
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