As I have mentioned, Hitler & His God spends the first 522 pages discussing the Nazi phenomenon from every possible conventional angle, before making a sort of discontinuous leap, at which point it looks to the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo to make sense of it all. Why are people so fascinated by World War II in general and Hitler in particular? I think part of the reason is that it is a kind of numinous experience to contemplate that level of evil, which "surpasses" (I suppose "subpass" would be a better term) all our faculties. Remember, "numinous" does not necessarily have positive connotations, for it mainly signifies confrontation with an object that is strange, mysterious, and "other." An encounter with God is always numinous, but so too is a brush with Death.
For those of you who have lost a loved one, you are familiar with that experience of being ushered into an eery, numinous space. People are simultaneously attracted to, and repelled by, this space. It is why, for example, we enjoy horror movies. Much of the romantic movement was explicitly infatuated with Death, which I suppose is why so many of those poet-johnnies committed suicide. Will will know.
During the course of 522 pages, Van Vrekhem provides the testimony of any number of historians, who have conceded that, in the end, Hitler and Nazism simply exceed our ability to understand them. On the one hand, history is there to teach us "what happened." And yet, in this case, we can know exactly what happened "on the surface," and yet, don't truly understand it at all. I'm guessing that there are more books on Hitler and World War II than most any other subjects, and yet, what do we really know?
Van Vrekhem begins with the modest proposal that in attempting to wrap out minds around an "effect" of such magnitude, there must be a cause of equal magnitude. Looked at this way, then Hitler can't possibly be explained by such comparatively trivial causes as resentment over the Treaty of Versaille, or economic hardship, or even rabid nationalism. Any number of countries have been humiliated in war, but they don't start putting people in ovens to cope with their bruised feelings. So we are confronted with a mystery.
Yesterday I was attempting to use an experience-near example to talk about another mystery, that being the obvious discontinuity between even the greatest virtuoso and the true genius. Genius clearly transcends mere virtuosity, and can never be reduced to it. Rather, the musical genius partakes of and transmits a kind of palpable mystery, through which we may have the experience of entering a higher world that is shockingly different from the ordinary musical space. As a number of people pointed out, one can say the same of Van Gogh's paintings. If you are open to them, they truly are shocking, even breathtaking. Why is that? How can that be? In my opinion, it is because Van Gogh introduces us to the real world. His paintings are particularly vivid examples of how great art is not on the same plane as "reality," and surely not a lower dimensional representation of it. Rather, it is a higher dimensional representation, so to speak. Yes, Van Gogh was an artist, but he was also a seer, or perhaps you might say a "visual prophet," just as Beethoven was an "aural prophet," transmitting information about higher spaces with pure sound. Again, how can such a thing be possible? What kind of cosmos is this, anyway?
Back to Hitler. To begin at the end, Van Vrekhem demonstrates how Hitler's ideology was in many cases a mirror image of Sri Aurobindo's evolutionary philosophy. Again, I don't want to get sidetracked, but I don't think it would be particularly difficult for some enterprising theologian to recast Christianity in evolutionary terms. In fact, I am quite sure it's already been done, not just by Teilhard de Chardin, but, for example, by this guy, about whom I know nothing.
I don't intend any scurrilous attacks on Darwinism, but Van Vrekhem quotes one prominent Nazi who said that National Socialism is applied biology. Think about that for a moment. If someone is foolish enough to believe that biology reveals the truth of man, then exactly what prevents him from drawing the ultimate implications from this: that nothing is absolute and everything is permitted?
It doesn't bother me that simpleminded Darwinists such as Queeg exist. What I do mind is that they try to pretend they're something other than what they are, which is intellectual barbarians. Such offenses must come, but we don't need to participate in their absurd self-flattery to the effect that the lower one falls, the higher one is. These liztards all clamor to the bottom, proud to declare the truth of no-truth, the virtue of indecency, and the beauty of ugliness.
Again, the Lie is parasitic on Truth. That's just how it is. As a result, you might very well say, "the greater the Truth, the bigger the Lie." But conversely, you might also say, "the bigger the Lie, the greater the Truth it is attempting to deny and conceal." Feel free to take this as a metaphor, so long as you understand its higher truth: Satan is first and foremost a parasite on Truth, Light and Beauty. Second, little parasites are everywhere. Oh, and you can learn a lot about God from a demon like Hitler.
In the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility. --Adolf Hitler to be continued....