In a diary entry dated 27 April, the hero of Joseph Goebbels's novel Michael describes his initiation into the National Socialist movement of the 1920s. Aimlessly strolling through an alien city, the narrator enters a barroom filled with workers, rank-and-file soldiers, and officers, the disoriented and discontented representatives of interwar Germany. Suddenly, Michael beholds the appearance of a speaker in front of these impoverished men, a speaker whose charismatic powers unleash a process of Dionysian fraternization. Endowed with prophetic energies, the speaker displaces quotidian alienation with ritualistic intoxication:
He is no speaker. He is a prophet!
Sweat pours from his forehead. Two glowing eyes flash lightning in this gray,
pale face. His fists are clenched.
Word upon word, sentence upon sentence boom like the Last Judgement.
I no longer know what I am doing.
I am beside myself.
I shout, “Hurray!” No one is surprised.
The man on the podium gazes at me for a moment. Those blue eyes strike me like
flaming rays. This is a command!
I am reborn as of that moment.1
Communal fraternization here results from a highly choreographed introduction of optics to politics. The vitalistic ritual of subordination and male bonding culminates when Michael's eyes meet the eyes of the politicianprophet. Enchanted by a mesmerizing gaze that looks back, Michael feels emancipated from his cultural despair, suspended from any reminiscence of the unstable routines in postwar Germany. The speaker's eyes in fact cause Michael to perceive power as a fascinating work of art; they reorganize the