Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Er Ist Wieder Da — Ich Kidde Ihnen Nicht!

Off-beat books are great. I suppose that's why I've always been a science fiction fan. And I've especially been a fan of alternate history and other genres of science fiction that use real people as characters, like Probability Broach and The Man in the High Castle, not to mention the alternate-history graphic novel that our own Baloo was a part of, Roswell, Texas.

And of course there are novels like The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H., which isn't exactly alternate history, but I guess is a sort of hidden history, which postulate that historical figures known to be dead aren't really dead after all, but continue to act in secret. You know, stories about Jack Kennedy hiding out after his double was assassinated, Elvis turning up at a Stuckey's, and one cute novel (I can't remember the title) where John Wilkes Booth survived and went on to be elected President under the name Chester A. Arthur or something.

Well, here comes another one, and it looks like a real hoot. The review is from Counter-Currents Publishing.

Look Who’s Back

Timur Vermes
Look Who’s Back
Translated by Jamie Bulloch
London: MacLehose Press, 2014
“Do you admire the achievements of Adolf Hitler?”
“Do you admire [yours]?”
“We’re not getting anywhere, here,” she said indignantly. “Look, I’m not dead, am I?”
“You may be sorry to hear this,” I said, “but nor am I.”
“Harry, he’s funny!” – The Producers
Look Who’s Back translates Er Ist Wieder Da, Timur Vermes’s best-selling novel (over 400,000 copies, and tens of thousands of audiobooks) published (at €19.33) in 2012 by Eichborn Verlag. It’s really quite funny, and will appeal to anyone who isn’t a humorless adherent to the Church of Holocaustianity — which, alas, means almost everyone with a college mis-education these days — but especially to the Counter-Currents crowd; although, as we’ll see, for reasons that go beyond the mere thrill of reading about You Know Who.
The plot, courtesy of Wikipedia:
In 2011, Adolf Hitler wakes up in a vacant lot in Berlin, with no memory of anything that happened after 1945. Homeless and destitute, he interprets everything he sees in 2011 from a Nazi perspective (for instance, he assumes that Turks in Germany are an indicator of Karl Dönitz having persuaded Turkey to join the Axis, and thinks that Wikipedia is named for “Wikinger”) — and although everyone recognizes him, nobody believes that he is Hitler; instead, they think he is either a comedian, or a method actor. As a result, videos of his angry rants become hugely successful on YouTube, and he achieves modern celebrity status as a performer.
 Now, the first question we have to ask is, of course, “is this Hitler?” I don’t mean the perhaps metaphysical question[1] – which I’ll address later — but more to the preliminary literary point: does the author, Vermes, really give us the Führer? Do we, the reader, believe that this is Hitler redivivus?
Now, I must confess my German is hardly adequate to make an exhaustive comparison of Vermes’ Hitler and the one so copiously documented, even if I wanted to invest the effort; but I think I can say something useful: namely, that Hitler here, in James Bulluch’s very readable translation, does, in fact, sound exactly like the Hitler I’ve read in other translations of, say, Mein Kampf or selected speeches.[2]
In particular, and established early on, there is that so characteristic garrulous autodidact’s drone, the conviction that one not only knows the truth but has a duty to communicate it, down to the smallest detail, whatever one’s audience thinks. The urge, to cross every ‘T,’ dot every ‘I’, chase down every rabbit, until one has long since lost the point and become buried in increasingly ludicrous minutiae.[3]
For example, from an early chapter, as Hitler meets with a couple media execs, he tells the reader:
I refused to allow myself to be rushed. The true Führer senses at once when others attempt to seize control of a situation. When others say, “Quick, quick,” the true Führer always endeavors to forestall an acceleration of proceedings and avoids being hurried into an error. How does he achieve this? By displaying prudence while others scuttle around like headless chickens. Of course, there are moments in which speed is necessary; for example, when caught inside a blazing house, or when essaying a pincer movement to encircle a large number of English and French divisions and grind them down to the last man. But these situations are rarer than one might imagine, and in everyday life prudence — always closely allied with keen resolve — holds the upper hand in the overwhelming majority of cases, just as in the horror of the trenches the survivor is often the man who strolls along the line with a cool head, puffing away on a pipe, rather than bustling back and forth like a washerwoman, sniveling all the while. Pipe-smoking is naturally no guarantee of survival in a crisis; pipe-smokers have been killed in world wars, too. Only a simpleton might assume that smoking a pipe would offer some sort of protection. On the contrary, survival is perfectly possible without a pipe, even without any tobacco at all. I who have never smoked, am testament to that.
Like one of Plato’s interlocutors, one can only interject from time to time an “Of course, Socrates, no man of sense would dispute that.” Imagine taking dictation like that, in a prison cell, all day. No wonder Hess went nuts.
Quibcag: I'm not sure who the girl cosplaying Hitler is, but I think she's Azusa Nakano from K-On! (けいおん! Keion!)

1 comment:

  1. The Probability Broach, L Neil Smith, an impoverished lawyer named Lincoln shoots president John Wilkes Booth.