"But Reifenstahl, remember, was naive, or in denial. And her work is not an attempt to explore anything--it's very much about surfaces. And "ideals"--physical ideals. To me, however, this is more closely related to a blind sense of "craft"--a puritanical strain in the arts--than it is with consciously allowing yourself, as an artist, to go somewhere you'd been avoiding. For instance, Kathy Acker, especially early Kathy Acker. Whose book, Great Expectations, when I first read it, horrified me--but in a very different way than thinking about Riefenstahl horrifies me. Acker horrified me because she saw the world in a particular, horrifying, way. Riefenstahl horrifies because she *doesn't* see it."
Yes, after I saw that documentary, I thought, anyone who says poetry isn't political- it's a just craft and formal art, is on the same page as Reifenstahl. Triumph of the Will does explore something, though.
Though Reifenstahl's artistic denial is probably the most spectacular example of an artist's denial that the world has ever known, this doesn't change the fact that her art embodies the absolute blind love of unregulated authoritarian state power. That's what Triumph of the Will gets across, that's what it explores. Political values can’t be kept out of art because the unconscious is political. The mind is political.
Acker is maybe the exact opposite of Reifenstahl. She intentionally locates and scrutinizes messed up internalized states and dramatizes them. It almost always comes across as dead-serious social critique. Acker's is a ethical and moral writing, like Oppen's, though it operates with a different mechanism.