The Swastika: Constructing the Symbol (Material Cultures) by Malcolm Quinn

By Malcolm Quinn

This ebook is 'a historical past of visibility'; it indicates how the swastika grew to become the most important gadget within the Nazi colonisation of the field of regard. It doesn't take care of what the swastika 'means' yet really with how the contradictory messages of racist ideology got shape within the swastika as image or 'brand'. This ebook was once defined by way of Stephen Heller, in layout matters (Autumn 1995) as `one of crucial books approximately layout background and design's position in political and social persuasion that has been released to date'. Heller is the writer of The Swastika image past attractiveness (Allworth Press 2000).

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Additional resources for The Swastika: Constructing the Symbol (Material Cultures)

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20 1 SYMBOL This is what we were once ourselves in those immemorial times when Tacitus described us: unique, free of all taint, like only unto itself. (Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock) Since we took myths seriously, literally, we found Troy, quite real, under the rubble of history. We have the debris of the history of Hitler, and now we have to seek the myths underneath. 1 This tableau, in which the swastikas were arranged in groups labelled ‘Prehistoric’, ‘Pagan’ and, unusually, ‘Christian’ was afterwards deposited in the St Germain Museum of Prehistory.

The emphasis in German romantic aesthetics on the energetic struggle of becoming over the classical complacency of being exemplifies this attitude; furthermore, Hegel’s views on the ambiguous relationship between the symbol and its meaning suggests the THE SWASTIKA 39 way in which a popular romantic nationalism could construct the symbol ahistorically. ’76 In this way, the image presents itself as the multitude of possible things it may have meant and could mean, rather than the rational and historically situated value of what it actually does mean at a given moment, either in a conventional or an Absolute sense.

Where phonetic comparison looked for constant factors across diverse languages, the swastika came to represent the undiversified and self-contained system of an Aryan Ursprache (original speech), a unity established by recognising similarity and eliminating difference. Zmigrodski’s exhibition, together with his two books in which the swastika is the leitmotif, illustrate how two discourses on language were being brought together in order to establish the swastika as an image of race purity. These two discourses were that of Indo-European language theory and a debate on and 24 SYMBOL around the German language itself.

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