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Thread: Religion in Wagner's Parsifal: Christian opera, Buddhist opera, both, or neither?

  1. #76
    Senior Member arnerich's Avatar
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    It's a topic about Wagner and religion, what did you expect? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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  3. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Why quote my protest of the very thing you ask about? Why not quote the mud-slinger who provoked that protest? And didn't you yourself enter the discussion back at post #33 solely in order to criticize me for an innocuous statement of opinion, demanding that I "prove" an aesthetic judgment? That was certainly calculated to muck things up a bit, wasn't it?

    It happens to thread after thread on the forum. No topic, no matter how carefully it's framed, is too serious or substantial to be trivialized and diverted with irrelevancies and personal putdowns, and it can happen quickly. In the first three days of this thread's existence, four people entered demonstrating - and actually admitting - that they had no real interest in the subject, and making deprecatory remarks about Wagner, the opera, and me. One of the four had her post deleted at my request and has mercifully not returned to inflict further damage.

    I've been tempted to write off the experiment and ask the mods to lock the thread. There's no pleasure in having to play kindergarten cop.
    I didn't read any of the earlier comments by any of the four members to whom you refer as "putdowns". You simply reacted badly to reasonable comments and questions put to you. You welcomed (gave likes to) several comments by others that seemed to indicate that you were looking at this thread as a way of knocking religion, and those who hold the Christian faith, under the pretext of discussing Parsifal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I'm going to play Devil's advocate, in order to stimulate more discussion. I think it is worth noting that Wagner's art and his thinking were to an extent a reflection of the times he lived in. This could be used for, or against him.

    As far as being "representative of 'good German music' that was held up and supported, like Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven," to be fair, these composers came from an era when "God" was actually believed in, along with Christ and miracles, and the religious elements of their music was not as ambiguously unorthodox as Wagner's, and not manifestations of the new religious thought of Friedrich Schleiermacher and Ludwig Feuerbach; so there is some validity in NLAdriaan's perspective, even if much of it is exaggerated, and even if we disagree with most of it.

    "I'd guess that hardly anyone nowadays sees a "god" in Wagner"
    may be specifically true for a "God," but it still has, as you have admitted, a "religious" content, and we can't ignore the centuries-long
    connection with Western art & religion. If I can see a "religious" content in John Cage's music, and if Bach's chorales are still being used in Church, then to make Wagner's "religious content" purely artistic, and separated from any orthodox Western religious traditions in art, seems a bit desperate.
    True, "
    Churches are not 'founded' on works of art, and can do perfectly well without them," but this ignores the close relation; there is overlap, and one can choose or choose not to recognize this.
    If there is admittedly "religious content and symbolism" in Wagner, then to either see it as purely art, or as promoting religion or religious ideas of
    Schleiermacher and Feuerbach becomes a purely personal matter, not an objective fact.
    I don't understand a word of this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by interestedin View Post
    I find it confusing how some people judge a certain piece of art or an artist while at the same they openly admit to never have taken a closer look at the work, to never have analysed the "deeper layers".

    Another case of that is deeming opera productions trash after having seen one or two photos of them.
    What is your view on the substantive issues raised at the beginning of this thread? I don't think I've actually seen anything from you at all.

    My answer to your comment is that an analysis of the "deeper layers" of classical music is not necessary in order to appreciate it fully. All you have to do is listen to it and ask yourself whether or not you like it. People have been doing this for centuries.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Forss View Post
    Christianity is the religion (if any) that doesn’t seek its treasures in this world, as it were, and thus every form of biblical literalism becomes a kind of idolatry. In this regard, Lutheranism stands above both Catholicism and Orthodoxy, in my opinion. Parsifal, which in gallic means ”searching for the dish/bowl/grail”, is thus the very emblem of this (Christian) idolatry. My conclusion: Parsifal is a Catholic opera.
    I think you must be very confused if you think that Catholicsm seeks its treasures in this world. On the contrary, the reward for living a "good life" is the hope one day of reaching "heaven".

    This thread is so full of mis-information about religion generally, and Christianity in particular, that it's almost ridiculous.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zhdanov View Post
    because secularity has come forward, at some point, leaving religions merely a cult status, which is nothing like what these had before when they ruled the world and peoples; the church therefore may have felt it useful to smuggle religious ideas into art so that godless folk would still get religious message, one way or another.
    There is a huge amount of interest in the Orthodox religion in Russia, and there always has been, It was just the evil Marxist regime that tried to suppress it. What you're saying now sounds now very much like old-style propaganda from the old Soviet system.

  9. #82
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    I'm going to play Devil's advocate, in order to stimulate more discussion. I think it is worth noting that Wagner's art and his thinking were to an extent a reflection of the times he lived in. This could be used for, or against him.

    As far as being "representative of 'good German music' that was held up and supported, like Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven," to be fair, these composers came from an era when "God" was actually believed in, along with Christ and miracles, and the religious elements of their music was not as ambiguously unorthodox as Wagner's, and not manifestations of the new religious thought of Friedrich Schleiermacher and Ludwig Feuerbach; so there is some validity in NLAdriaan's perspective, even if much of it is exaggerated, and even if we disagree with most of it.

    "I'd guess that hardly anyone nowadays sees a "god" in Wagner" may be specifically true for a "God," but it still has, as you have admitted, a "religious" content, and we can't ignore the centuries-long connection with Western art & religion. If I can see a "religious" content in John Cage's music, and if Bach's chorales are still being used in Church, then to make Wagner's "religious content" purely artistic, and separated from any orthodox Western religious traditions in art, seems a bit desperate.
    True, "Churches are not 'founded' on works of art, and can do perfectly well without them," but this ignores the close relation; there is overlap, and one can choose or choose not to recognize this.
    If there is admittedly "religious content and symbolism" in Wagner, then to either see it as purely art, or as promoting religion or religious ideas of Schleiermacher and Feuerbach becomes a purely personal matter, not an objective fact.
    Quote Originally Posted by Partita View Post
    I don't understand a word of this.
    I was saying: We should acknowledge that Wagner was using his art to express what he thought, and felt; and that includes his views on religion, which are derived from religious ideas of Schleiermacher and Feuerbach.

    I was also saying, this is no different from other Western art, such as Bach; it's possible to see it as "art only," but the connection between art as an extension of organized religion has always been there.

    So Wagner does not "escape scrutiny" as religious music because his ideas were liberal and non-deistic; his "promotion" of the ideas of Schleiermacher and Feuerbach are no different than overtly "religious" music in this sense.

    "Religion" has been replaced in Wagner by a "spiritual" non-dogmatic, non-deistic awareness which is self/morals/ethics/Man-centered. Let's discuss these elements, and see how Wagner uses symbolism to incorporate them.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jun-07-2019 at 00:10.
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  11. #83
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Partita View Post
    It is very clear that you are way too touchy and protective about Wagner. You've reacted very badly to everyone who has dared to express a view about Parsifal, or Wagner's status, that doesn't fit your preconceived ideas. I hardly think that the comment above to which you respond deserves this kind of remark.

    The only "preconceived ideas" I would like people to respect are stated in the title of this thread:: "Religion in Wagner's Parsifal: Christian opera, Buddhist opera, both, or neither?" Directly beneath that title are two opening posts which I hoped would set a serious and responsible tone for a good discussion. Were the topic something vague, strange or questionable, I could understand people not taking it seriously, but that is obviously not the case. Clearly there are people who feel attracted to the thread for reasons other than a desire to explore the topic.

    The statement you think proves my "touchiness" is not directed at a single remark, but at NLAdriaan's entire "argument," which was clearly aimed at trivializing and disparaging both me and the subject I've proposed for discussion. He entered the thread with the following:

    The abuse of religious fantasies to get power over people is of all times. If one can get people to sacrifice (as in kill) themselves and others for nothing but an empty promise, things get damn scary. I don't know what Wagner's actual drive was to create his own fantastic recipes of sex, quasi-religion and self-sacrifice and his own Bayreuth church. I only know that Wagner's legacy got a filthy pilgrimage of racist followers, just as the authors of the Holy Bible or the Koran. ...let's not take alleged deeper meanings of a piece of music or a book too seriously.

    Subsequently he made the seemingly inevitable reference to Nazism, said that he wasn't interested in exploring any "deeper meaning" in Wagner's work, put it on a level of value and significance with Star Wars, and called me a "fan" for pointing out the problems with his statements and the basic negativity of his attitude.

    Apparently he doesn't think it's offensive to warn others, who may know more about a subject than he admits wanting to know, not to take it "too seriously." Evidently, citing Nazi genocide and religious fanatics who blow themselves up is meant to give us some idea of the fate that awaits us if we find Wagner's work more meaningful than space movies.

    When I know little about a subject I generally say little, ask questions, or leave it alone. I realize that for many the temptation to put in their two (or more) cents is irresistible. But when that two cents is merely dismissive of the thread's topic, or even insulting to its originator, the originator may rightly object. Contrary to your accusation, I welcome any serious opinion on the subject, and any considered challenge to any idea I put forward. What I can't welcome, and can't fail to object to, is seeing the genuine interest of others in a great artist trivialized, and their passion for a subject equated to dangerous fanaticism.

    Perhaps it all comes down to the fact that some people just can't stand it when others appear to get more out of something than they do, and seem to be having a good time in which they can't participate.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jun-06-2019 at 21:49.

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  13. #84
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    Quote Originally Posted by Partita View Post
    What is your view on the substantive issues raised at the beginning of this thread? I don't think I've actually seen anything from you at all.

    My answer to your comment is that an analysis of the "deeper layers" of classical music is not necessary in order to appreciate it fully. All you have to do is listen to it and ask yourself whether or not you like it. People have been doing this for centuries.
    Of course you can enjoy the music without thinking about it at all. Nothing wrong with that.

    I was merely questioning how it is possible for someone who says he doesn't bother learning about the background of Wagner's work to insist that the same work is nothing more than a fanatsy story comparable to Harry Potter.

    There is little reasonable about that. Which is also why Woodduck rightfully criticised such reasoning...
    Last edited by interestedin; Jun-06-2019 at 21:08.

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  15. #85
    Senior Member stomanek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Why quote my protest of the very thing you ask about? Why not quote the mud-slinger who provoked that protest? And didn't you yourself enter the discussion back at post #33 solely in order to criticize me for an innocuous statement of opinion, demanding that I "prove" an aesthetic judgment? That was certainly calculated to muck things up a bit, wasn't it?

    It happens to thread after thread on the forum. No topic, no matter how carefully it's framed, is too serious or substantial to be trivialized and diverted with irrelevancies and personal putdowns, and it can happen quickly. In the first three days of this thread's existence, four people entered demonstrating - and actually admitting - that they had no real interest in the subject, and making deprecatory remarks about Wagner, the opera, and me. One of the four had her post deleted at my request and has mercifully not returned to inflict further damage.

    I've been tempted to write off the experiment and ask the mods to lock the thread. There's no pleasure in having to play kindergarten cop.
    I opened this thread with interest since I have never seen you start a thread before.

    It was not the best contribution from me - I apologise.

    You have generated some good discussion - would be a shame to lock the thread. Parsifal does interest me - as I had heard it is Wagner's most spiritual opera - so it has been good to listen to some of the exchanges.

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  17. #86
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I was saying: We should acknowledge that Wagner was using his art to express what he thought, and felt; and that includes his views on religion, which are derived from religious ideas of Schleiermacher and Feuerbach.

    I was also saying, this is no different from other Western art, such as Bach; it's possible to see it as "art only," but the connection between art as an extension of organized religion has always been there.

    So Wagner does not "escape scrutiny" because his ideas were liberal and non-deistic; his "promotion" of the ideas of Schleiermacher and Feuerbach are no different than overtly "religious" music in this sense.

    "Religion" has been replaced in Wagner by a "spiritual" non-dogmatic, non-deistic awareness which is self/morals/ethics/Man-centered. Let's discuss these elements, and see how Wagner uses symbolism to incorporate them.
    This seems a reasonable assessment of Wagner's objectives. I'd only offer the qualification - a pretty important one, really - that we're dealing with a single artwork here, different in its function and potential impact from the limitless body of functional liturgical music designed to support the dogmas and practices of organized religion. In that sense Parsifal is a work incorporating elements of religious philosophy rather than a work of religious art.

    Wagner did want to express ideas in which he believed, and even hoped by expressing them to oppose some traditional religious ideas, but he certainly had no illusions about founding a new religious sect. In fact, organized religion of any sort was repugnant to him. This places Parsifal in an interesting position within the great body of religion-related music: it's neither liturgical, intended to function as part of a religious practice, nor merely aesthetic, in the tradition of the many concert settings of the Mass or other texts by composers who may or may not be expressing any personal beliefs in creating those works.

    I think it's useful to recall periodically the following statement of artistic intention, set down at the time Wagner was working on Parsifal:

    "Where religion becomes artificial, it is reserved for art to save the core of religion by recognizing the figurative value of the mythic symbols which the former would have us believe in a literal sense, and by revealing the deep truth hidden in them through ideal representation."

    [Religion and Art, 1880, tr. William Ashton Ellis]

    It's an ambitious objective in which some might detect hubris, but RW was never one to think small!
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jun-07-2019 at 02:26.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stomanek View Post
    I opened this thread with interest since I have never seen you start a thread before.

    It was not the best contribution from me - I apologise.

    You have generated some good discussion - would be a shame to lock the thread. Parsifal does interest me - as I had heard it is Wagner's most spiritual opera - so it has been good to listen to some of the exchanges.
    Thank you for that. I don't plan to lock the thread (yet ) and I hope you'll continue to follow it. In the course of it I want to get into the music of the opera, which partakes in interesting ways of styles and techniques composers over the centuries have found appropriate for the expression of religious feeling. It's generally the music that draws people into thinking about the symbolism of the story, which is as it should be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Partita View Post
    There is a huge amount of interest in the Orthodox religion in Russia, and there always has been, It was just the evil Marxist regime that tried to suppress it. What you're saying now sounds now very much like old-style propaganda from the old Soviet system.
    you obviously have no idea what Soviet propaganda was like. CCCP had at least 4 incarnations & therefore 4 propaganda styles which had little to do with one another: Lenin's - Stalin's - Brezhnev's - Gorbatchov's where the church was treated differently each time around. Lenin did 'suppress' it. Stalin didn't so much. Brezhnev embraced it. Gorbie let it have its way.





    Last edited by Zhdanov; Jun-07-2019 at 07:52.

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    .................

  22. #90
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    As I understand it, the main theme of Parsifal, and indeed of all Wagner's work, is redemption. This is the rejection of power and greed and ego. It could be seen as the rejection of all desire, similar to the surrender of desire in Eastern philosophy, to reach the true "self."
    "The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?"
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    "In Spring! In the creation of art it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg

    "We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made us." -Jean-Paul Sartre

    "I don't mind dying, as long as I can still breathe." ---Me

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