Friday, October 7, 2011
Another Aphorism on "Gleichschaltung"
From the collection of Musil's largely unpublished aphorisms and texts appearing in the forthcoming translation of Amann's Robert Musil: Literature and Politics:
1) The word
It marks the strangeness (it will be difficult for foreigners to understand it) of what is happening today in Germany, that this word Gleichschaltung, which plays such a large role in it, cannot be directly translated into other languages. This word was suddenly there one day out of nowhere for the not-yet-National Socialist Germans. Lamps, machines are gleichgeschaltet [switched into conformity; switched into alignment] —and Germans. Difference between norms and similarities. It has active and passive meanings in psychiatry. Levers and similar mechanisms, electric currents ein- und auschalten [switching on and off]. Schaltwerk [control unit]. Schalthebel [switching lever].
In general: Gleichstrom [co- or parallel current]: a current whose direction remains the same. There is a Batterieschaltung [accumulator switch] for galvanic elements, next to and following one another. One speaks of (different) modes of Schaltung in dynamo machines. Likewise in an electrical lighting system.
Schalten, middle high German. To push, tow (esp. a ship), into movement, to force. In new high German becomes = to steer; old high German scaltan = to push, new high German. Schalter = sliding sash from middle high German schalter (schelter) = bolt. Schaltjahr [leap year] already in old high German because of the day that is pushed forward. (to push is also a basic meaning of schalten) [Walten really = being strong] see Gewalt (violence).
Incorporating of the Verwalten [powers/administration]. Permeation with National Socialist spirit and National Socialist form. Permeation with a spirit (and therein lies the difference from norms).