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Male Fantasies: Volume 1: Women, Floods, Bodies, History

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First of this two-volume work providing an imaginative interpretation of the image of women in the collective unconscious of the fascist "warrior" through a study of the fantasies of the men centrally involved in the rise of Nazism.


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First of this two-volume work providing an imaginative interpretation of the image of women in the collective unconscious of the fascist "warrior" through a study of the fantasies of the men centrally involved in the rise of Nazism.

30 review for Male Fantasies: Volume 1: Women, Floods, Bodies, History

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    This lengthy exposition of the lives of German men focuses on the Freikorps. Theweleit perceived their relationships with women and sexuality as being built on a foundation of misogyny and fear. He rejected the interpretation of male violence as an outgrowth of frustrated sexual desire or repression, arguing instead that the violence was itself an innate part of male desire, an end which they actively sought to achieve. Thus, male violence was not a substitute for, but rather an attack on, sex a This lengthy exposition of the lives of German men focuses on the Freikorps. Theweleit perceived their relationships with women and sexuality as being built on a foundation of misogyny and fear. He rejected the interpretation of male violence as an outgrowth of frustrated sexual desire or repression, arguing instead that the violence was itself an innate part of male desire, an end which they actively sought to achieve. Thus, male violence was not a substitute for, but rather an attack on, sex and femininity. Theweleit saw this as an important aspect of Nazi ideology, particularly in regards to its self-definition as an oppositional force to Bolshevism; both Bolshevism and femininity were seen as the embodiment of the untidy and disorderly aspects of human existence. For alternate interpretations, see Herzog's Sex after Fascism: Memory and Morality in Twentieth-Century Germany.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Esteban del Mal

    [Full disclosure: I only read the first section of this book, as it considers the male fascist regard for women; I only perused the second section] A psychological study of protofascism that, in my humble estimation, is hit and miss. The author bases his analysis of the Freikorps (the militaristic form of German fascism under the short-lived and tumultuous Weimar Republic) on a reading of their "literature." I find this sloppy and wish he'd have relied more on historical instance in making his ar [Full disclosure: I only read the first section of this book, as it considers the male fascist regard for women; I only perused the second section] A psychological study of protofascism that, in my humble estimation, is hit and miss. The author bases his analysis of the Freikorps (the militaristic form of German fascism under the short-lived and tumultuous Weimar Republic) on a reading of their "literature." I find this sloppy and wish he'd have relied more on historical instance in making his argument instead of subjecting his readers to the lurid details of pre-Nazi pulp fiction. (Is the work of Danielle Steel reflective of the state of American feminism? C'mon.) However, he does a good job of demonstrating 1) the shortcomings of a Freudian analysis of fascism, and 2) that protofascists (and hence, the lineage of said protofascists) didn't just dislike women -- they hated them because they are (and, I'd wager, remain) terrified of them. Although there's a Walter Benjamin sighting, for my money Wilhelm Reich's The Mass Psychology of Fascism is a more insightful book into the psychology behind fascism (and Reich is one of Theweleit's targets), and Frontsoldaten by Stephen Fritz better demonstrates just how universal "fascist" prejudices were in Germany leading up to and during World War II, even among non-Nazis, and shows how Hitler and his band of brigands merely gave form and expression to nascent intolerance.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Willow L

    "The success of fascism demonstrates that masses who become fascist suffer more from their internal states of being than from hunger or unemployment. Fascism teaches us that under certain circumstances, human beings imprisoned within themselves, within body armor and social constraints, would rather break out than fill their stomachs; and that their politics may consist in organizing that escape, rather than an economic order that promises future generations full stomachs for life. The Utopia of "The success of fascism demonstrates that masses who become fascist suffer more from their internal states of being than from hunger or unemployment. Fascism teaches us that under certain circumstances, human beings imprisoned within themselves, within body armor and social constraints, would rather break out than fill their stomachs; and that their politics may consist in organizing that escape, rather than an economic order that promises future generations full stomachs for life. The Utopia of fascism is an edenic freedom from responsibility. That in itself, I think, is a source of "beauty in the most profound distortion." Meanwhile, communists and the left in general still stubbornly refuse to accept fascism's horrifying proof that the materialism they preach and practice only goes halfway. The desiring-production of the unconscious, as molecular driving force of history, has never entered their materialism—an omission that has had (and still has) tragic consequences."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Derek

    Theweleit has a style of writing and argument that presents itself in a manner that may be described as “psychedelic.” Flurries of associative images culled from a litany of different popular sources along with tangential literary and historical discussions confront such that one must take pause and question what exactly is being claimed and its validity. Introspection often becomes the most likely response, differentiating the self from the fascist and proto-fascist subject material in the begi Theweleit has a style of writing and argument that presents itself in a manner that may be described as “psychedelic.” Flurries of associative images culled from a litany of different popular sources along with tangential literary and historical discussions confront such that one must take pause and question what exactly is being claimed and its validity. Introspection often becomes the most likely response, differentiating the self from the fascist and proto-fascist subject material in the beginning stretch of the book and comparing the self to the subjects elsewhere. This opens the reader to Theweleit’s quite particular style of literary analysis and reasoning while perhaps concealing some of its own limitations. This book is an immensely valuable project of itself in its examination of the men at hand, but it also takes as a given a theory of German fascism not quite en vogue either at the time of its writing or currently without giving it a thorough historicization. Sadly, the central role that the underground Freikorps network played in the seizure of power by the Nazis is incredibly undervalued in favor of salacious theories of oratory hypnosis or Trotskyite interpretations of a shopkeepers revolution. When the Freikorps serve as Theweleit’s principal object, he does not discuss this network’s connection to major finance capital and limits himself to the early stürmer’s own psychologies. This ultimately proves to be an artificial impediment. Though this lingering contradiction from the beginning of the book is partially resolved by the end, we are left until the final sections of the volume for Theweleit to entertain that the novels and memoirs he uses as source material may have had more utility as propaganda than psychological catharsis (as well as to make reference to Irigaray, who could’ve helped to give the vagueness with which he makes reference to women’s sexualities some definition). Though it is obvious the Deluezian framework he intends to use from the beginning of the book, he waits until he has presented the main body of his sources to reveal this in the form of a long digression that eventually leads into his grand theoretical gestures toward sexual relations throughout European history. While I will say that his is the most convincing version of D&G I’ve heard, the attendant terminology begins to feel zany after a time in a way that undermines his theorization of these social changes rather than supports them. Ultimately, this framework centering around “desiring machines” leads to claustrophobia, with an attribution of guilt feelings from parental contact at the basic fault stage as the culprit for these men’s psychopathy and a slightly cliched proscription of genuinely open human relationships running underneath. Theweleit’s scope becomes apparent when he makes claims such as that political and class distinctins for the Freikorps were “primarily” stand-ins for those of a sexual nature. It’s easy to see how he means primary here in terms of phenomena and experience, but his aversion from discussions of the role the “race” played on the psyche causes one gives reason to question this. Though he does give some incisive class analysis in passing, his attempts to supplant Marxist class theories with his own framework also belies these problems. Most troublesome in this vein is a brief approving citation of the anti-Semite Solzhenitsyn for a description of Soviet prison conditions. Much of the above may downplay the achievements of this book. What Theweleit does exceptionally well is describe with vivid detail the psychic lives of these homicidal men. That is immensely valuable as a measure moving forward with the current ebbs and flows of the patriarchal society in which we live. The production of men such as those described in this volume still plays a vital role in the maintenance of class power today. With the proliferation of mercenary paramilitary operations and GLADIO public terror, this role has become even more developed and refined.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Szendi

    The ecstatic mingling of Freud, Guattari, Deleuze, and Reich, decorated with many unattributed and undated images, marks this as a work riding high on the academic euphoria of the 1970s, before the buzzkill 1980s. Not only did I enjoy reading Theweleit, I wish that I could write the same book. But I can't. For one thing, Theweleit already wrote it. For another, nobody gets to use Freud like that anymore. And, lastly, the trend of psychoanalyzing historical subjects got lost somewhere in the disco The ecstatic mingling of Freud, Guattari, Deleuze, and Reich, decorated with many unattributed and undated images, marks this as a work riding high on the academic euphoria of the 1970s, before the buzzkill 1980s. Not only did I enjoy reading Theweleit, I wish that I could write the same book. But I can't. For one thing, Theweleit already wrote it. For another, nobody gets to use Freud like that anymore. And, lastly, the trend of psychoanalyzing historical subjects got lost somewhere in the disco snow. I'm making light, of course. Like disco snow, academic fashions have been rewarded with returns. The more serious issue is how to proceed in a manner inspired by Theweleit but also in a post-Reichian (although still Deleuzian... Well, I prefer the term "Deleuz-ional") world. In particular, a problem with, and the underlying and inexhaustible inspiration for, Theweleit's topic is that it is soooo big and soooo embedded in layer upon uneven layer of post-Englightenment capitalist societies. The topic of gender and the various roles of women -- defined and desired as bodies bound to class -- guides Theweleit down every rabbit hole. By the 434th page of Volume One, I had to remind myself that this book opened with analyses of Freikorps literature. It spiraled up and away from that with dizzying rapidity, but I cannot say that the journey was unpleasant.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chris Tempel

    So far it is about journal entries from Freikorp members analyzed for content about girlfriends, wives, women, fantasies, and realities. Very well written and impactful, this book extends a bridge for feminists and communists, who may know their commitment to these politics on a personal level, to link with anti-fascism.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kåge Klang

    Fascinerande om krigets kultur, framför allt innan världskrigen och hur frikårerna såg på "den röda faran", gjorde den bildlig för att utan problem kunna döda. Hur soldaten lärde sig att se sig som den viktiga muttern eller kuggen i en krigsmaskins helhet.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rafał Derda

    A classic.

  9. 4 out of 5

    David

    There is certainly some interesting information to be found here and there in Theweleit's book. But the main method applied in the book is wild psychoanalytical speculation, sprinkled with some Deleuze & Guattari. The conclusions reached is presented as facts even though the foundation and premises is as stable as a house of cards in an earth quake. Maybe I would have been impressed by the book 10 years ago, now I just find the style tiring and nonsensical. There is certainly some interesting information to be found here and there in Theweleit's book. But the main method applied in the book is wild psychoanalytical speculation, sprinkled with some Deleuze & Guattari. The conclusions reached is presented as facts even though the foundation and premises is as stable as a house of cards in an earth quake. Maybe I would have been impressed by the book 10 years ago, now I just find the style tiring and nonsensical.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Structure of facism as sexual origination. Discusses idealized females that drive patriotism, and the whore imagery that unifies invasion strategy. Includes chapters on Lola Montez and VD. Incredible. Showcases militarism fetish.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Naomi

    This book is a fascinating and completely engaging sociological study of Freikorps sexuality.

  12. 4 out of 5

    ryan bears

    this book has some scary pictures and it gave me nightmares.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Risa

    it reads like a masculine Vanity Fair for academics. It's disturbing, sexy, and sex-disturbing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mirza Sultan-Galiev

    Great.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Tolkin

    I love this book. Explains many things.

  16. 5 out of 5

    ainsley

    ...the fuck? Too much Freud. And do these things hold true for, say, Italian fascism?

  17. 5 out of 5

    Martha E.Chaves

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rolf Müller

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ami

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bri

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joe Richardson

  23. 5 out of 5

    Olaf

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

  25. 5 out of 5

    Hank Horse

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mark Mirabello

  27. 5 out of 5

    Molly

  28. 4 out of 5

    space

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eric

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

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