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Thread: Okay, like the mod said, let's continue our discussion about Wagner and nazis...

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    I think Wagner's "anti-semitism" was of a different kind than the nazis. I think we need to explore exactly what this is. Has anybody actually read Wagner's essay?

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    Senior Member AbsolutelyBaching's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I think Wagner's "anti-semitism" was of a different kind than the nazis. I think we need to explore exactly what this is. Has anybody actually read Wagner's essay?
    Just to make it unambiguous, do you mean this one?

    Because the answer is yes, if so.

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    Senior Member AbsolutelyBaching's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I think Wagner's "anti-semitism" was of a different kind than the nazis. I think we need to explore exactly what this is. Has anybody actually read Wagner's essay?
    As for Wagner's anti-semitism being of a different kind than that of the Nazis:

    In the first place, then, the general circumstance that the Jew talks the modern European languages merely as learnt, and not as mother tongues, must necessarily debar him from all capability of therein expressing himself idiomatically, independently, and conformably to his nature.

    One of those further lies, for example, is in connection with the language spoken by the Jew. For him language is not an instrument for the expression of his inner thoughts but rather a means of cloaking them. When talking French his thoughts are Jewish and when writing German rhymes he only gives expression to the character of his own race.

    One of those is by Hitler, one by Wagner. I'd find it difficult to tell the difference.
    Last edited by AbsolutelyBaching; Sep-03-2020 at 15:24.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AbsolutelyBaching View Post
    One of those is by Hitler, one by Wagner. I'd find it difficult to tell the difference.
    Well, just because there is congruence in this language area doesn't mean their antisemitism as a whole is identical.

    In fact, I see some truth in this; many American citizens, from immigrant backgrounds, claim they are "bi-lingual," when in fact they have only a rudimentatry "conversational" knowledge of English. There are many nouns and verbs they do not know, and they can't read technical manuals very well. This can become a problem in the workplace, where one must read instructions, or in sending e-mails which do not sound awkward.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AbsolutelyBaching View Post
    Just to make it unambiguous, do you mean this one?

    Because the answer is yes, if so.
    Is it the translation, or the original, that renders the opening paragraph almost incomprehensible? Do I really need to persevere with it and make a study of what he 'actually' said?

    I think not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Well, just because there is congruence in this language area doesn't mean their antisemitism as a whole is identical.

    In fact, I see some truth in this; many American citizens, from immigrant backgrounds, claim they are "bi-lingual," when in fact they have only a rudimentatry "conversational" knowledge of English. There are many nouns and verbs they do not know, and they can't read technical manuals very well. This can become a problem in the workplace, where one must read instructions, or in sending e-mails which do not sound awkward.
    Understanding others' use of language can be problematic even between native speakers of the same tongue - especially here at TC!

    But that is no excuse for what follows. For example:

    In particular does the purely physical aspect of the Jewish mode of speech repel us.
    Throughout an intercourse of two millennia with European nations, Culture has not
    succeeded in breaking the remarkable stubbornness of the Jewish naturel as regards the
    peculiarities of Semitic pronunciation. The first thing that strikes our ear as quite
    outlandish and unpleasant, in the Jew's production of the voice-sounds, is a creaking,
    squeaking, buzzing snuffle
    Last edited by MacLeod; Sep-03-2020 at 21:03.

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    Senior Member JAS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Well, just because there is congruence in this language area doesn't mean their antisemitism as a whole is identical.

    In fact, I see some truth in this; many American citizens, from immigrant backgrounds, claim they are "bi-lingual," when in fact they have only a rudimentatry "conversational" knowledge of English. There are many nouns and verbs they do not know, and they can't read technical manuals very well. This can become a problem in the workplace, where one must read instructions, or in sending e-mails which do not sound awkward.
    Well, being very good in English may not help much with instructions, since all too often those pretty clearly are not written in English and are just automatically translated into something that vaguely resembles English, and printed as is.
    Last edited by JAS; Sep-03-2020 at 16:56.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JAS View Post
    Well, being very good in English may not help much with instructions, since all too often those pretty clearly are not written in English and are just automatically translated into something that vaguely resembles English, and printed as is.
    No, I meant it the way I meant it. They have trouble reading technical manuals (or literature, for that matter). Their knowledge of English is largely conversational.

    I can see how this would irritate Wagner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacLeod View Post
    Understanding others' use of language can be problemative even between native speakers of the same tongue - especially here at TC!
    Yes, but that's not my point. I'm criticizing the immigrant comprehension of English, and saying it is lacking, especially for technical or poetic purposes.

    [/QUOTE]But that is no excuse for what follows. For example:[/QUOTE]

    Is Wagner complaining about a guttural quality, or sounds which produce sprays of saliva?

    As a native English-speaker, I find the rolling r's in Spanish to be irritating. In fact, it's irritating to hear such chatter, which rolls on and on at a fast clip.

    Wagner just doesn't like the sound of it. Can't he have an opinion?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AbsolutelyBaching View Post
    As for Wagner's anti-semitism being of a different kind than that of the Nazis:

    In the first place, then, the general circumstance that the Jew talks the modern European languages merely as learnt, and not as mother tongues, must necessarily debar him from all capability of therein expressing himself idiomatically, independently, and conformably to his nature.

    One of those further lies, for example, is in connection with the language spoken by the Jew. For him language is not an instrument for the expression of his inner thoughts but rather a means of cloaking them. When talking French his thoughts are Jewish and when writing German rhymes he only gives expression to the character of his own race.

    One of those is by Hitler, one by Wagner. I'd find it difficult to tell the difference.
    There certainly was a difference between Wagner's and Hitler's anti-semitism. 19th century anti-semitism seemed to be a result of an autonomous and relatively independent Jewish community which felt alien for the Europeans. This is the main thing which Wagner criticises in the (first) quote you posted here. He claims that if Jewish speech sounds funny then they must be incapable of writing songs as songs are based on speech. Wagner basically argues that Jewish community is incapable of producing any true Art because they are not part of European culture.

    Another thing Wagner criticises, and which seemed to characterise 19th century Europe's problem with Jews, was that they were simply very rich and I think Europeans felt somewhat threatened by that. Reading Wagner's essay almost gives me an impression as if he was trying to convince someone (maybe himself) that Jews indeed were lower than him and that his art is not threatened by them.

    I'd say that the anti-semitism of Wagner and that of Hitler, despite being both somewhat secular, are different because of the goal they try to achieve. Hitler tried to destroy the Jewish community, Wagner simply tried to show why disliking Jews is involuntary (he literally wrote that). Wagner probably tried to fight against the rising popularity of Mendelssohn and Meyerbeer but I didn't feel he was proposing that they should be killed. Saying that the problem which Wagner had with Jews was the same which Nazis had doesn't feel entirely right to me.

    Hermann Levi, a Jew, conducted the premiere of Parsifal and wrote to his father (a Jewish rabbi !!!) that "Wagner is the best and noblest of men ... I thank God daily for the privilege to be close to such a man. It is the most beautiful experience of my life".
    Last edited by annaw; Sep-03-2020 at 22:11.

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    Senior Member JAS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    No, I meant it the way I meant it. They have trouble reading technical manuals (or literature, for that matter). Their knowledge of English is largely conversational.

    I can see how this would irritate Wagner.
    I understand precisely what you meant, and that does not affect the fact that I meant my post the way I meant it. (A touch of humor often helps.)

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    Senior Member AbsolutelyBaching's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Well, just because there is congruence in this language area doesn't mean their antisemitism as a whole is identical.

    In fact, I see some truth in this; many American citizens, from immigrant backgrounds, claim they are "bi-lingual," when in fact they have only a rudimentatry "conversational" knowledge of English. There are many nouns and verbs they do not know, and they can't read technical manuals very well. This can become a problem in the workplace, where one must read instructions, or in sending e-mails which do not sound awkward.
    I wouldn't expect them to be identical. There's a good 40 years between them.

    I find Wagner's antisemitism to be based on loathing of the sight and sound of the Jew. Hitler's statements seem much more to imply that the crafty Jew will subvert your society, your culture, your family, without you particularly realising it, because the Jew is so subtle and parasitical. The one is clearly the other ramped up to volume 11.

    Hitler thinks you need to take strong action to fight the Jewish subtlety; Wagner thinks it self-evident that a decent German will instinctively loathe the Jew in appearance, sound and cultural manifestation such that no special measures will be required, since you will naturally disassociate yourself from them.

    Both seem to agree that ridding Germany of the cultural perversion of the Jew is important. Wagner thought you'd naturally abhor them; Hitler thought you'd be taken in by their cunning and wiles.

    Having felt dirty hands even summarising either of their views, I can tell you that I don't see a whole lot of difference between them. Hitler thinks your government needs to take strong action to protect you from the Jew; Wagner thought the Jew so loathsome you'd protect yourself. Transport Wagner forward 50 years and I don't think Wagner would have had a problem with Treblinka -but, of course, that's all hypotheticals.
    Last edited by AbsolutelyBaching; Sep-03-2020 at 21:06.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Yes, but that's not my point. I'm criticizing the immigrant comprehension of English, and saying it is lacking, especially for technical or poetic purposes.

    But that is no excuse for what follows. For example:
    Is Wagner complaining about a guttural quality, or sounds which produce sprays of saliva?

    As a native English-speaker, I find the rolling r's in Spanish to be irritating. In fact, it's irritating to hear such chatter, which rolls on and on at a fast clip.

    Wagner just doesn't like the sound of it. Can't he have an opinion?
    I know what your point is. You've tried to pick out a line from Wagner and by sympathising with his view, you are trying to show it is qualitatively different from Hitler's view.

    I think your selective quote is totally misleading, ignoring where Wagner is going with his complaint.

    As for whether he can have an opinion, don't be daft. He had his opinions in this essay, they were anti-semitic.

    End of.
    Last edited by MacLeod; Sep-03-2020 at 21:10.

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    Senior Member AbsolutelyBaching's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Yes, but that's not my point. I'm criticizing the immigrant comprehension of English, and saying it is lacking, especially for technical or poetic purposes.

    Is Wagner complaining about a guttural quality, or sounds which produce sprays of saliva?

    As a native English-speaker, I find the rolling r's in Spanish to be irritating. In fact, it's irritating to hear such chatter, which rolls on and on at a fast clip.

    Wagner just doesn't like the sound of it. Can't he have an opinion?
    No. Because if you think he's making an aesthetic judgment about the sound of Jewishness, I'd ask you what the hell you were on about. Is the point that all Jews speak Yiddish and he dislikes the sound of Yiddish? Or is it that he's saying that being Jewish makes whatever sounds you make sound awful (clue: it's the latter). He's not complaining about rolled 'r's or sprays of saliva. He's saying that you will naturally abhor the sound of the Jew because they are different. Though they speak German, French or English, they won't speak or think or be inspired by it as a native would, because they are foreign.

    So, no, he's not allowed to have an opinion which is prima facie non-sensical (you're seriously telling me that someone born in German in 1850 can't speak utterly native German by 1880ish, without sounding "Jewish"?)

    If his opinion was, perhaps, that he regretted Jewish ghettoisation that meant swathes of Jews couldn't speak German properly, then, that might be a fair opinion to hold and express. But he's not saying that. He's saying that a Jew born in Berlin (say) amongst wealthy folk, who speak nothing but Hoch-Deutsch, doesn't sound the same as a "true German" who meets all the other criteria. The one will sound awful (and think "Jewish" and thus cannot be part of German culture), whilst the other can.
    Last edited by AbsolutelyBaching; Sep-03-2020 at 21:14.

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    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AbsolutelyBaching View Post
    I wouldn't expect them to be identical. There's a good 40 years between them.

    I find Wagner's antisemitism to be based on loathing of the sight and sound of the Jew. Hitler's statements seem much more to imply that the crafty Jew will subvert your society, your culture, your family.

    Hitler thinks you need to take strong action to fight the Jewish subtlety; Wagner thinks it self-evident that a decent German will loathe the Jew in appearance, sound and cultural manifestation such that no special measures will be required, since you will naturally disassociate yourself from them.

    Both seem to agree that ridding Germany of the cultural perversion of the Jew is important. Wagner thought you'd naturally abhor them; Hitler thought you'd be taken in by their cunning and wiles.

    Having felt dirty hands even summarising either of their views, I can tell you that I don't see a whole lot of difference between them. Hitler thinks your government needs to take strong action to protect you from the Jew; Wagner thought the Jew so loathsome you'd protect yourself. Transport Wagner forward 50 years and I don't think Wagner would have had a problem with Treblinka -but, of course, that's all hypotheticals.
    Wagner's essay is very disturbing and his anti-semitism undeniable, but he was still not Hitler. Wagner didn't go to such extremes and, considering his philosophical and religious sympathies, I honestly wouldn't be all that sure he would have been okay with what was done during the 20th century. But we'll never know.

    Luckily Wagner directed his somewhat megalomaniac tendencies mainly into composing, not into ideas of some ultimate political power...
    Last edited by annaw; Sep-03-2020 at 21:20.

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