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Faust and Mephistopheles are the principal characters in Goethe's "Faust." In Part I, Mephistopheles makes a bet with God that he can lu | nextre God's favorite human being, Faust, away from righteous pursuits. In Part II, Faust wakes in a field of fairies to initiate a new cycle of adventures and purpose. (Quoted from here.)  4

In the movie, actor Hendrik Höfgen became highly favored by Germany's Nazi regime for his role in Goethe's "Faust" and he became beholden to a Mephistopheles incarnate in the person of a Nazi bigwig reminiscent of Hermann Goering. The movie's ending is similar to that of the play's Part I, here with Höfgen in perpetuity blinded by floodlights and tormented by a deafening shouting of his name.  5

From my Latin dictionary:
persona, ae, f. [per+SON-], a mask, false face (usu. of clay or bark, covering the head; worn by actors) ...  
6

Every so often I get an urge to brush up my Latin, which is tough sledding for this old fogey. If someone ever were to ask me "why?" then I'll be dumbstruck. Why indeed? But at least I learned that persona is a mask that carries our innermost through life in human society. Giving this some more thought, it makes us very much aware that language is not a perfect tool for understanding one another. Doing a translation from one language to another makes this even more evident. Many words have different meanings. "I see" may mean what I see with my eyes; it may mean that I grasp what you are saying. The varieties of meaning are not the same in different languages. The ratio of the numbers of Latin words and English words is roughly speaking one to four. Such differences provide translators with options of how to translate.  7

There are notions of language influencing thought. The masquerade's effect on society—the prevalent mindset of an entire population for exampe—would be hard to contemplate.  8

     Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten,
     Daß ich so traurig bin;
     Ein Märchen aus alten Zeiten,
     Das kommt mir nicht aus dem Sinn.
–Heinrich Heine

I don't know why it is
that I feel so blue
A tale from some time long past
keeps on stirring my mind
          or
I know not if there is a reason
Why I am so sad at heart.
A legend of bygone ages
Haunts me and will not depart.
*  9

Three decades ago, I wrote a triptich of brief stories that keep on coming back to mind: Lesson from Leo: About History in our Schools." Haunting me like a play by Peter Weiss, "The Investigation," a poetic condensation of the trials of people involved in the extermination of Jews under the Nazis. I extracted a few lines from it in "Standing on a corner ...."  10

Nazi propaganda was insidious and unrelenting. It was insidious in that it pervaded througout life in Germany and German occupied territories. It was found in the media, in social organizations, on billboards, in entertainment such as motion pictures, in school books. The Swastika and the Hitler salute—Heil Hitler—constant reminders of who was in charge. It is probably from this all that I have become mentally inocculated against falling for propaganda. But what about propaganda's close associates, advertising and, yes, bragging, and we might include upbringing and education as well. The whole kit and kaboodle. 11

And, yes, religion. The word "propaganda" comes from "Congregatio de Propaganda Fide" (Congregation for Propagating the Faith), established by the Roman Catholic Church to staunch the inroads of Protestantism.  12

Below is a quote from the book "Propaganda" (1928; reprinted in 2005) by Edward Bernays, who used what he learned from his uncle Sigmund Freud to create techniques for influencing the public mind. I learned about this when I decided to take a somewhat closer look at the phenomenon as in my story "Propaganda: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." That story puts propaganda and advertising, upbringing and social conduct all invisibly connected like red is with orange, orange with yellow.  13

"In theory, every citizen makes up his mind on public questions and matters of private conduct. In practice, if all men had to study for themselves the abstruse economic, political, and ethical data involved in every question, they would find it impossible to come to a conclusion without anything. We have voluntarily agreed to let an invisible government to sift the data and high-spot the outstanding issue so that our field of choice shall be narrowed to practical proportions. From our leaders and the media they use to reach the public, we accept the evidence and demarcation issues bearing upon public question; from some ethical teacher, being a minister, a favorite essayist, or merely prevailing opinion, we accept a standardized code of social conduct to which we conform most of the time."  14

Quoting fom my previous piece, "As for my bragging or knowing better, that still left something to be overcome,." How about society at large? I could quote lines from national anthems, but I do not want to offend any reader of this piece. No dearth of examples in popular songs though:

      And now, the end is near
      And so I face the final curtain
      My friend, I'll say it clear
      I'll state my case, of which I'm certain
      I've lived a life that's full
      I've traveled each and every highway
      But more, much more than this
      I did it my way.


Even for Frank Sinatra—"Ol' Blue Eyes"; the "Mercedes-Benz of Men"—this was too much braggadocio. Nevertheless, it became his
signature song—took him to the top of the charts. People love bragging when served by the standardized code of social conduct, or instincts. What good's permitting some prophet of doom / To wipe every smile away. / Life is a cabaret, old chum ... Sorry, that was Liza Minnelli. 15

Propganda might be categorized as white, grey, and black propaganda:

      White: discloses its sources;
      Grey: sources unkown or, if known, hidden.;
      Black: sources attributed to some other origin than the actual one.  
17

Careful now! That third category puts much of our holy scriptures in a bad light. Surely, the author of this distinction did not intend to do that? Now, how about advertising?  18

Advertisements may be purely informational ("I have a doggie for sale," "X and Y. Chimney sweepers"), but most of it is intended to persuade people—to purchase products or services, often regardless of whether those are really needed or not. The good side is that it provides money for sustaining families. The bad side is increased pollution by discarded goods while wasting money that might ultimately be better used for social housing and health services, those sorts of things.  19

How does one define advertising? Definitions exist, but I doubt there is one that covers it all.  20


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