By Helmut Lethen
Cool behavior is a sublime interpretation of attitudes and mentalities that educated the Weimar Republic by means of a pupil renowned for his profound wisdom of this era. Helmut Lethen writes of "cool behavior" as a cultivated antidote to the heated surroundings of post-World conflict I Germany, as a fashion of burying disgrace and animosity that would in a different way make social touch most unlikely.
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Extra resources for Cool Conduct: The Culture of Distance in Weimar Germany (Weimar and Now: German Cultural Criticism)
In the image of the creature, the cool persona’s central ambition to become a self-conscious agent of history deteriorates into its opposite. The suppressed sense of remaining subject to blind fate is the underlying motivation for its magical thinking. What the present book demonstrates is how uncannily close the two images are: the heroic images of the self-conﬁdent subject striding across the civil war landscape, carrying its slogans—natura facit saltus and distinguo, ergo sum—and the images of the creature, whose bodily existence dictates its perceptual and behavioral range.
As models for sociological construction, these ﬁgures turn up in billboard simplicity and in intricate dialectical images: in all of them the subject reveals itself armored to the extent that emptiness is all that remains to be protected. The representational maneuver signals at once a defense against and a lust for the decentering of the subject. 4 The assumption here is that any particular life currents, viewed in sufﬁcient depth, are characterized by absolute continuity, even if what we see on 24 Rapture of Circulation and Schematicism 2.
Little wonder that his Art of Worldly Wisdom would be deemed appropriate to a period of total mobilization. And the maxims of the courtly mobility doctrine reconstructed by Krauss do in fact reappear in the literature of the 1920s. The most extreme version of the code at that time is found in Brecht: 38 Conduct Code of the Cool Persona Whatever you say, don’t say it twice If you ﬁnd your ideas in anyone else, disown them. The man who hasn’t signed anything, who has left no picture Who was not there, who said nothing: How can they catch him?
Cool Conduct: The Culture of Distance in Weimar Germany (Weimar and Now: German Cultural Criticism) by Helmut Lethen