Betty Davis 1962

This autobiography is surprising for its unparalleled excellence and seeming honesty. Davis has represented her life in a well-written little book. She speaks well of everyone she worked with in film including industry rivals, Joan Crawford. She passes on providing long comments regarding Barbara Stanwyck.

Of course, the book tells about acting: stage, screen (silent – talkies), modeling, fame, being a glamour puss. Davis knew she was not the typical 1930s actress – beautiful, lanky or seductive but she was blonde. Davis suggests and I believe she rose on talent and merit alone. The more involved the part the better the performance – two years toward the beginning of her career, 1936 and 1939 Davis received Oscars for best actress. She was dedicated to excellent projects and to excellent performances. She ran into the buzz of the Warner Brothers demanding she do mediocre projects. That legal dispute ended in London before World War Two began for the Americans. Olivia de Havilland broke the studios’ system.

Her movies of the Forties and the early Fifties all had substance for her. She never mentions a western, but early on Bette Davis from New England was typecast as the Southern girl and the Southern lady. Motherhood, marriage and living reduced the number of films she was in. She was not always in Los Angeles but lived on the East Cost. She tells trying to be the best mother, when she wasn’t always around, her understanding of intimacy from work and from husbands, and the shortcomings in the men she encountered and those she eventually married. [The first was always at home but did not work at home and little out of it; the second died young; Gary Merrill, fellow actor, had work but did not like the comforts of a joint home.]

Bette Davis had help with children and with the house; she had capable assistants. Davis expresses gratitude. But she felt isolated from exchanging intimacy, touching, sensing another human being, and caring in full devotion. [Note in the text Davis describes these attributes as handled by a performing actor, but says they are not transitioned to or that acting did not fulfill the needs of a human being living in reality.] This distinction between acting and reality is how she conveys she was lonely, and hence the adjective in the book’s title.

Two remarkable chapters in the book are the first and the last. The first doubts whether anyone, including herself, should write an autobiography. Davis beats out the words in spades. The last chapter deals with the status of a successful woman, running into unsuitable men, earning more than most people, and handling fame, professionalism, being alone, and where all that leaves the woman: Her state of mind. It is an excellent description of explaining the world that might become more matriarchal. Sex alone changes nothing. Couples should be mates and their efforts should complement one another.

This is an excellent autobiography; it benefits from being short and well-thought out. Also, this autobiography became the first feminist tome of the modern era. The Feminine Mystique was published two years later in 1964. If Betty Friedan believed it was the problem that has no name, she was unacquainted with Bette Davis’ Autobiography.

MEIN KAMPF – Adolph on Oratory

When writing about orators and how to reach the audience, Adolph is clearly writing about himself as a younger man addressing small meetings but not speaking to large rallies. He didn’t have those opportunities when this book was published, so his comments are inapplicable to mass meetings. Adolph knew the substance of this subject matter expertly. He watches the audience, small gatherings, larger assemblies. In some way Adolph is also telling rivals in the Nazi movement that they cannot communicate as well as he does. Mein makes pronouncements: Adolph has worked very hard to get where he is. No one else has the talent to carry on to larger forums.

It is not our duty to inform all weaklings that this is a question of to be or not to be.
I achieved an equal understanding of the importance of physical terror toward the individual and the masses.
Here, too, the psychological effect can be calculated with precision.
Terror at the place of employment, in the factory, in the meeting hall, and on the occasion of mass demonstrations will always be successful unless opposed by equal terror.(page 44)

I understood the infamous spiritual terror, which this movement exerts, particularly on the bourgeois, which is neither morally more mentally equal to such attacks; at a given sign it unleashes a veritable barrage of lies and slanders against whatever adversary seems most dangerous, until the nerves of the attacked persons break down and, just to have peace again, they sacrifice the hated individual.
….the fools obtain no peace,(page 43)

The psyche of the great masses is not receptive to anything that is half-hearted and weak.
Like the woman whose psychic state is determined less by grounds of abstract reason rather than by an indefinable emotional longing for a force which will complement her nature, and who,
consequently would rather bow to a strong man than dominate a weakling, likewise the masses love a commander more than a petitioner and feel inwardly more satisfied by a doctor…, tolerating no other beside itself, than by the granting of liberalistic freedom with which, as a rule, they can do little, and are prone to feel the they have been abandoned. They are equally unaware of their shameless spiritual terrorization and the hideous abuse of their human freedom for they absolutely fall to suspect the inner insanity of the whole doctrine. All they see is the ruthless..(page 42)

“Particularly the broad masses of the people can be moved only by the power of speech. And all great movements are popular movements, stirred either by the cruel Goddess of Distress or by the firebrand of the word hurled among the masses; they are not the lemonade-like outpourings of literary aesthetes and drawing room heroes.
Only a storm of hot passion are turn the destinies of peoples, and he alone can arouse passion who bears it within himself.
It alone gives its chosen one the words which like hammer blows can open the gates to the heart of the people.
But the man whom passion fails and whose lips are sealed – he has not been chosen by Heaven to proclaim its will.
…the writer remains by his ink-well, engaging in theoretical activity, if his intelligence and ability are equal to it; for leadership he is neither born nor chosen.
A movement with great aims must therefore be anxiously on its guard not to lose contact with the broad masses.
It must examine every question primarily from this standpoint and make its decisions accordingly.
It must….avoid everything which might diminish or even weaken its ability to move the masses, not for the demagogic reasons, but in the simple knowledge … without the mighty force of the mass of a people, no great idea, however lofty and noble it may seem, can be realized. (page 107)

In essence Adolph admits he is establishing a group using terror and violence to extend its reach. Adolph’s organization is no different from many crime schemes and enterprises operating in the United States. But they are prohibited by laws. Many state laws forbid behaviors and actions. At the Federal level RICO, criminal and civil enforcement, prohibit the illegal acts by which the Nazis rose.

The orator and the leader are the same person, and to spotlight that human being, he is the personality using mysterious powers. He establishes personal connections with the faithful; he has mastered the communication to lead the nation from its slump; he will make Germany Great Again. [Nobody ever explained how Germany could be Great Again, when its University system was deprived of its best minds: USA 10 – Germany 0.]

…if he is a brilliant popular orator and not be likely to repeat the same reproach and the same substance in the same form. He will always let himself be borne by the great masses in such a way to speak to the hearts of his audience. And if he errs, in the slightest, he has the living correction before him. As I have said, he can read from the facial expression of his audience whether, firstly, they understand what
he is saying, whether, secondly they can follow the speech as a whole, and to what extent, thirdly he has convinced them of the soundness of what he has said.(page 470-471)

Once again Adolph slams the simpleminded, gullibility of his followers. They are to think nothing but ponder emotions he has given them. The followers seem to have no emotions, hopes and aspirations of their own, so they need him to supply both brain and heart. It is an orator alone and no other person communicating who can tell people what to think and what and how to believe.

…it is not seldom a question of overcoming prejudices which are not based on real, but, for the most part unconsciously, are supported only by sentiment. To overcome this barrier of instinctive aversion, of emotional hatred, of prejudiced rejection, is a thousand times harder than to correct a faulty of erroneous scientific opinion. False concepts and poor knowledge can be eliminated by instruction, the resistance of the emotions never. Here only an appeal to those mysterious powers themselves can be effective; and the writer can hardly ever accomplish his, but almost exclusively the orator.(page 471)

The movement must promote respect for personality by all means; it must never forget that in personal with lies the worth of everything human; that every idea and every achievement is the result of one man’s creative force and that the admiration of greatness constitutes, not one a tribute of thanks to the later, but casts a unifying bond around the grateful.
Personality cannot be replaced; especially when it embodies not the mechanical but the cultural and creative element….[a great statesman can not be replaced] “For activity lies always in the province of art. It is not mechanically trained, but inborn by God’s grace.”
The greatest revolutionary changes and achievements of this earth, its greatest cultural achievements, the immortal deeds in the field of statesmanship, etc, are forever inseparably bound up with a name and are represented by it. To renounce doing homage to a great spirit means the loss of an immense strength…. (page 352)

…Certain ideas and even tied up with certain men. This applies most of all to those ideas whose contents originates, not in a scientific truth, but in the world of emotion, or as it is beautifully and clearly expressed today, reflects an “inner experience.” All those ideas, which have nothing to do with cold logic as such, but represent only pure expressions of feelings, ethical conceptions, etc, are chained to the existence of men, to whose intellectual imagination and creative power (page 287)

When should the leader, the orator, the personality reach his followers and gather more disciples? At night when men are tired, looking for relaxation and looking forward to the morning. (page 472-475) Adolph gives examples from the Theater, and notes the better reception to plays at night. Adolph likes the lure and setting of the nighttime services in the Catholic church, mysterious twilight, strategic use of fire. Given the correct stimuli a human being, usually “illiterate common people,” can feel transported to the proper state of mind.

It is entirely possible that Adolph before World War One attempted to act in the theater, or he took lessons.