Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I, Nazi

One for the Christmas stocking: Jerry Stahl's new book, Pain Killers, is an "uproarious novel about a disgraced cop turned PI who's hired to find out whether a San Quentin inmate is actually Josef Mengele."

Q: Humor and the Holocaust don't often go hand in hand. Why go there?

A: Despots understand that the most dangerous weapon against them is humor. Mark Twain, no slouch when it came to funny, wrote that the secret source of humor was sorrow: “There is no humor in heaven.” Saul Bellow put his own twist on the subject: “All oppressed peoples are witty.” Obviously, no one is mocking the suffering of the victims. But the Nazis' pompous and moronic “science,” combined with the ludicrous, exalted myth of their superiority—these I feel almost a compulsion to go after. The parallels with our own current history, however uncomfortable, are worth exploring. In fact, I would argue that because they are uncomfortable, they demand our scrutiny.


Bock the Robber said...

It wouldn't be the first time someone made comedy using Nazis.

Remember Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp With Eva and Adolf at Berchtesgaden

John said...

Absolutely. How could we forget?

And also Time's Arrow, by Martin Amis.

What do you mean it wasn't meant to be funny?

Bock the Robber said...

The calming slap of a father's hand.

How could that not be funny?