Hopla-di-klop: Thoughts on Partisan Aesthetics and Political Remembrance
This essay begins with a filmic memory of my childhood: a scene where three partisans are being executed. However, it is a fake memory. The film concerned turns out to have not been a partisan film but Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory. Yet, I argue that what makes a film ‘partisan’ is not necessarily the participation of partisan characters but its aesthetic and political ‘texture’. Accordingly, I criticize big statesponsored Yugoslav productions like The Battle of Neretva as fake partisan films because they generate what I call a myth of the second order. A myth of the second order turns its object into a virtual commodity, it transforms the historical partisan movement into a film instead of turning a film into a ‘partisan movement’. I argue further, that the myth of the second order similarly becomes the modus operandi of Yugoslavia’s nationalist movements of the late 1980s with their narcissistic attachment to contrafactual identity claims, historical megalomania, and their ‘logistic’ foundation in WW2 fascism. In short: the episode of my fake memory reveals the chances and dangers of falling prey to what Hans Blumenfeld once has called ‘absolute myth’ and what I have called a myth of the second order.
The integral version of this article can be found in the printed KINO!