April 2, 1940 [The Olympiad]

The 1936 Olympics in Berlin were filmed as a Birth of a Nation--but instead of D. W. Griffith's rabid blackfaced brutes lurching goggle-eyed after Southern maidens, Hitler's Birth is all smooth skin, gracefully curving muscles in flight, floating in the Nazi womb, dreaming of everything that waits beyond Poland. London evacuates, Paris cringes--and the javelin sails like a beautiful promise, and the sweet young man dives and circles like a swan to the pool below. It is the final obsession, to remold the body--human, political, all of it--the camera unable to resist the sculpted surfaces, moving across thighs and shoulders like proprietary hands, the Aryan purified with healthy exertion and fire and blood: the pornography of war.

But no matter how loudly the Master Race pants and groans, I can still hear Jesse Owens run, rasping on the cinders like a sharp saw.


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