Saturday, April 14, 2018

Mata Hari: The Banality of Evil

The illustration above is from a book that appeared in France in 1931, the title being simply "Mata Hari." There is no author explicitly mentioned, the book is part of a collection titled "Crimes et Chatiments" (Crimes and punishments) which had as director Mr. Arthur Bernede (1871-1937), presumably the author of this text.

As a book, Bernède's "Mata Hari" (1931) is an unremarkable pamphlet full of lies and insults. But, at least, it shows the banality of evil: look at the image above. So simple: a jeweled Mata Hari ready to stab in the back a brave French soldier defending the country - note the German helmets in the back of the evil woman!

Propaganda can be - and usually is - very simple. It is one of its characteristics: it aims low, at the base instincts of the human mind.

 But at least one image of the book can be seen as a homage to Mata Hari, the dancer. There is a certain beauty about her that not even the worst propaganda can take away.

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