Jun 7, 2008

Dictating Laughter

"Do you think Hitler had laughs?" The look on Cory's face gives me a glimpse into what normal people probably think about; this isn't one of them. "LAUGHS?!" he said. Well...yeah. Is it outside the realm of possibilities that Hitler may have laughed once? Or many times? Did he ever make other people genuinely laugh? Did he ever tell a kneeslapper? A knock-knock joke? Was he tickled by anything? Did he chortle, or guffaw?

Everyone can see Hitler laughing like a madman; it's in all of the pictures and videos. He was serpentine, peccant; a scourge. His overbearing, mustache-y smirk as he Heil'ed his way through Europe, the crinkly crows' feet around his eyes, the confidence and bemusement of his stance, the fervor with which he led; he was getting his way, and was surrounded by people who zombie-worshiped him. I don't know about you, but if I was being blindly adored/feared/repulsed by the entire world, I would probably feel cocky enough to tell a joke or two every once in a while.
You can picture him maniacally laughing as he killed small animals and fed the Jews to the fire, but did he ever genuinely laugh? A belly laugh, or a snort that escaped? Did he ever cry from laughing so hard? I'm sure people screamed with laughter when he told a joke, but I'd say that was for survival, and not from any imagined intimacy they may have shared.

Did Hitler laugh? My partner says yes; I agree, but assume he laughed loud and hard. I imagine his laughter sounded like a German Shepherd barking. It's hard to separate Hitler's diablerie from Hitler the human; it's hard to make him human. All of his public actions were diabolical, so I wonder how far that extended into his private life. Eva Braun, Hitler's 48-hour Furherwife, once wrote to him: "From our first meeting I swore to follow you anywhere even unto death. I live only for your love." They committed suicide together, so I guess she really live only for his love (eww, love?), but for anyone to write something like that to him--something so ninth grade, and the certainty behind it--is beyond my comprehension. Because the person she was writing to was Hitler. If it had been anyone else, I would have thought, 'well that's almost sweet in a creepy way', but since it was Hitler--and we can't allow him to be humanized--it doesn't really "count". Plus, the way she stood by him, spoke of him, and wrote to him made Hitler sound like a German rock god on a world tour; I guess he was sort of God-like, in the worst way possible.

It's not just Hitler, it's all of the heinous figures throughout the history of our planet. Just substitute Saddam Hussein's name in there; did Saddam laugh? I've seen pictures of him looking jovial, but wonder if his children made him laugh. I wonder if Lenin thought about his childhood fondly, or if Mussolini hated fighting with his wife. I wonder if any of them ever let their kids jump into bed on a Saturday morning. Did they worry about anything personal, like gaining weight, losing hair, a cheating spouse? Did Hitler doubt himself while he was executing six million people, or regret it in his very last moment? Was Saddam frightened when they put the noose around his neck, or just proud to have died for the cause? I wonder if any of them, before killing themselves or being executed by others, felt ashamed by the scurrilousness of their deeds? Did they wish they'd gone about the business of being a dictator differently? I highly doubt it. They died for the cause. Those men lived for infamy, and received it in droves--we don't throw parades for these historical assholes, but every kid in school has to learn about them, countless books and articles and college courses and TV shows have featured them, and this entire blog is about them. They're like the kid who steals something big from Fred Meyer, and gets stopped before he reaches the door; he doesn't care about his actions, he's just annoyed he got caught--and will definitely do it again. That's what a dictator is, in a nutshell. That's why we should shoot shoplifters on sight: they're playing a dangerous game.

It occurs to me that the real question I'm posing here is: did these men experience humanism in the same way Average Joe Dirt did? And I don't know the answer. I think, as a dictator, there are certain sub-human, or uber-human, traits one must have to rise above killing all of your countrymen for no good reason; you must be somewhat psychopathic, sociopathic, and fucking dotty in the head to pull it off without crying or cutting yourself repeatedly. But as a human, the kind that wants to love and be loved, I can't see how they would have transitioned or survived. It's only with great power and ego that someone can seize control of an entire country and make a negative impact on the world for hundreds of years. I can't imagine that same dictator writing love notes, worrying about their sick dog, or sharing their fears with anyone; I can't picture what it would look like if Hitler were honestly laughing. It's scary to think that any one human can change the face of your country forever, but I guess if you can't imagine them as actual humans, it's easier to forget how they started out: just like you and me.

Besides, if there's some kind of racist uprising against the Samoans--which would be stupid, because HELLO, we kill with our bare hands--and for some reason we were all rendered useless (a common Samoan trait, I'm told), I'm not that worried. As my partner says, first the Chinese are going to take over the world, and then the robots will overturn them. I'm okay with robots; I know that they'll take care of me. Maybe I'll become the Marie Antoinette of our day, and lead the robots to victory.

As for the rest of you, I will let them let you eat cake.


Manthony said...

Goody! I like cake!

matt said...

thank you, snotty. i'm quite fond of "peccant" as well. we all do tend to stumble (morally speaking)--and what fun would blogs be if we were to not?

btw, a fun fact i heard once and have not yet tired of repeating is that a.h. was addicted to laxatives. normal and reassuring? no. human? well, everybody poops...

FreNeTic said...

This was an incredible piece.

I'm pretty sure Hitler laughed, but there had to be a point where he stopped laughing at himself.

5800 said...

But at what point could he not look at himself in the mirror anymore?