the NachtKabarett

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All Writing & Content © Nick Kushner Unless Noted Otherwise
Contribution from Maxim Marusenkov

"I'm a diamond that is tired / Of all the faces I've acquired"
Marilyn Manson, Spade
Left; still frame of Marlene Dietrich in the film Blue Angel and UFA, Universum Film Aktien Gesellschaft, (Universal Film Company), logo, as seen watermarked on lower left of still frame. Above, Nazi iron eagle swastika insignia. Manson's diamond shaped Golden Age Of Grotesque logo combined this dichotomy of repression and expression, as well to illustrate the fascism of entertainment. Right; a particular series of photographs by Helnwein (including this one appearing in the artwork for Lest We Forget), titled 'Putting Holes into Happiness', is displayed on the artist's site with MM watermarks in the fashion of the UFA material.

The symbol of The Golden Age of Grotesque era is a regular black rhomb with a double white border against a black background, the outer border is thicker than the inner one. There are two stylized white capital M letters inscribed within the rhomb.

Schutzstaffel 'SS' insignia,
made of two 'sieg' runes.
'Ehwaz' rune, a mercurial symbol
that seems to replace the S's.

The symbol is obviously stylized after the SS insignia - the insignia of the a the Nazi Schutzstaffel, the authority of Himmler's Gestapo secret police who were protective and repressive in their functions and were the main tool of mass terror in fascist Germany. It is testified by the two white capital M letters (Marilyn Manson initials) of a specific typeface against a black background.

The SS insignia is made up of two "siegel" runes that symbolize achievement of the object, a victory. In our case, this rune is somehow replaced with "ehwaz" one which symbolizes movement, change, progress. "Ehwas" has a strong charge of Mercurial energy.

Left; Heinrich Himmler speaks to the SS troops, with black banners in the background embroidered with the infamous siegel runes. Right; Manson's diamond logo on similar curtains in a Nuremburg-esque decor, in a sequence of the Grotesk Burlesk recorded for the video 'This Is The New Shit'.

Aside from the SS insignia the specific outline of two M letters goes back to the Nazi Eagle, one of the main symbols of fascist Germany that embodies strength, power and might. In this context, by viewing the Marilyn Manson 'MM' as representative of two eagles this is not-accidental connotation, as in alchemy the double eagle is a sign of Androgyne; Mercury.

The rhomb is a symbol of rigidity, power and might. But at the same time it is a sign of creative energy, female and erotic symbol. White is the color of purity and perfection. Furthermore it is color of the woman and lunar principle, one of the two colors of Mercury. Black is the color of honor and future rebirth but it is also color of mourning and death. Black and white contrast is a well-known sign of antagonism between good and evil. Notice how the sharpened shape of the feathers perfectly correspond to Manson's incisive and sarcastic nature.

Left; 'Germany, the land of music', poster for a representation in the 1937 Paris exhibition. Right; a much more obvious reference to the Nazi eagle on a 2009 T-shirt design for The High End Of Low tour, which you can read more about in our section Arma-Goddamn-Motherfuckin-Geddon / Pretty as a ($).

The dominating idea of this symbol is uniting opposites, androgynous and ambivalent subject-matter (black and white contrast, Mercury references). Uniting contradicting extremes is the main theme of Marilyn Manson's creative pursuits, especially accented in The Golden Age of Grotesque.

Left; Manson in blackface & mouse ears performing 'The Fight Song' on a distorted white podium reminiscent of Albert Speer's architecture and emblazoned with Manson's sharpened initials, during the Ozzfest portion of the Grotesk Burlesk (later on the tour it is replaced by the Rodent Totenkopf podium).

Right; Manson's dramatic emergence on stage during 'Thaeter', on a triangular platform surrounded by two giant metallic Ms, likening themselves to Manson's own wings (an omnipresent metaphor in all of his texts and imagery until recently).

A part of this theme is the motive of unity between the beginning and the end. The symbol signifies the beginning of a new era in artist's creative work ("ehwas" rune, mercury as a sign of change) but at the same time Mercury references connect this symbol to the one of the previous Holy Wood era, while stylization under SS insignia takes us back to the Shock Symbol of the Antichrist Superstar era. Additionally the peculiarity of The Golden Age of Grotesque is its connection to almost all previous records. The motives of uniting the beginning and the end, of rebirth and change can be traced during the whole Marilyn Manson's creative pursuits.

Left; Boyd Rice performing of "Total War", with Death's Head drummers and black banners embroided with the Eihwaz rune (different from Ehwaz mentioned above), another ancient symbol used by the Nazis under the name 'Wolfsangle', bearing many similarities with Manson's logo.

Right; Nuremberg Rally-esque stage set for the Grotesk Burlesk with the two women back-up dancers in Manson masks, SS attire complete with Nazi Hitler Jugend drums.

Much should be set on the usage of Nazi emblems, because Nazism is one of the main album themes (that bring us back to the Antichrist Superstar era again). According to Manson during the conceiving of The Golden Age of Grotesque he took inspiration from "the extreme height of cabaret decadence and so-called "degenerate" art in Weimar Berlin just before its destruction", i. e. before Nazis seized power.

Nazi elements within the symbol are combined with the sings of the women (white color, Mercury references) that represent another main album theme - eroticizing everything, including fascism as means of its overcoming. For more on this visit the "Degenerate" Art & Fascism section of The NACHTKABARETT.

Animated introduction to The Golden Age of Grotesque incarnation
of, utilizing Manson's diamond as a frame
to display various images hinting at the influences of the album
and era, with the sharpened double M flashing atop.
Left; still frame from the mOBSCENE video Right; still frame from 'This Is The New Shit'. The symbol was then used one last time
as a background projection during the 'Golden Age of Grotesque' performance of the 'Against All Gods' tour.


"We drive our deathcrush diamond Jaguar limousines"
Marilyn Manson, The Golden Age Of Grotesque

The line "We drive our deathcrush diamond Jaguar limousines" from the song The Golden Age of Grotesque is a certain figurative description of the 1930's era.

Jaguar, a British manufacturer of luxury cars, presented the first models of its automobiles at the beginning of the 30s. At that time the company beared the name Swallow Sidecar, which was often shortened to SS, therefore the whole prewar model range was named SS: SS I, SS 90, SS Jaguar, etc.

Strangely enough the company's logo - two S letters of a specific typeface in a hexagon (hence the attribute "diamond") - strikingly resembled Schutzstaffel (SS) insignia, the corps of the Nazi Party that were growing stronger back then.

Note the similarity to the car Manson rode in the video of 'This Is The New Shit' (itself adorned with a SS-like car pennant with the MM diamond), as well as the similarity of the Nuremburg-esque setting of the video and this poster ad.

The situation becomes even more bizarre when we compare the winged version of the Swallow Sidecar logo above, and the eagle representing the Nazi Party (NSDAP). In the context of the album this accidental coincidence becomes a sign of a fatal inevitability...