Saturday, June 18, 2011

Coarse Pattern

 Himmler and his daughter, Gudrun

This is the kind of photograph I can look at for hours. And after those hours I am no closer to comprehending the image than when I started. It's the proximity of contraries that troubles--the fact that a young girl sits on the knee of a man who helped redefine humanity's capacity for evil. And that she loves him. And that he loves her. It disturbs. Fate hangs heavy in this photograph. Was she always doomed to receive her father's coarse pattern and have traced upon her soul, "practically blank as snow as yet," the legacy of his evil?    


Risa said...

The fact is she was a child and it is hard to say how much she actually knew was going on. You look at that and can't comprehend. I look at it and just see a girl who loves her father not because of who he was or what he did and didn't do. Just love him because he was her father. I have not heard of even one child that needs any more then that at her age.

Children give their love a lot more openly then adults and it is something that I can't get enough of.

dcornelius said...

It's not a daughter's love for her father I can't comprehend. That love I understand. It can be devoted, steadfast, unconditional. Blind. No, it's him that I can't comprehend. And maybe comprehension isn't the right word. Hannah Arendt called it the banality of evil. A man can condemn millions to death and still affectionately love his little girl. I'm not denying that love. But recognizing it forces an uncomfortable, even painful confrontation with the dangerously mixed nature of human beings.

But there's also the mystery of fate. Look up Gudrun Himmler on Wikipedia. How much of who she is now was dictated by her father's nature being forced upon her? That's the "course pattern" I was referring to. Part of the pain of a picture like this is seeing how a daughter's love for her father--a father who was a monster--maimed her soul, as I would call it.