Sunday, September 28, 2014
I picked up the October 9 New York Review of Books downtown yesterday. In it, Peter E. Gordon reviews the black notebooks. It's not available on their web site. Sadly, the review only addresses the same passages about Jewery that have already been presented in other articles. Surprisingly, it focuses in on the "notorious postwar remark" comparing the death camps to "the motorized food industry", from the Bremen lectures, citing references from the 1980s about deleted passages, and how these demonstrate both the "banal prejudices of a provincial childhood" and is, at the same time, "prone to the most lamentable abstraction". Since then, the complete text of the lectures has been published (1994) and translated (2012), so we can read the lecture itself, rather than depending solely on other's reports. In context, Heidegger's remark is about the Nazis' requisition of supplies and conscription of labor, under which everything was considered primarily as the ordering of resources. There was a Nova PBS show that made a similar point. In 1995, "Nazi Designers of Death", described how the Nazi requisitioned an agricultural firm that had fabricated crematoria for cattle culls, and ordered them redesigned for Birkenau. For the engineers at the firms, it was just another job whose requirements challenged forth technological design. Perhaps we need abstraction to understand such forms of rational reasoning.
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