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

  1. #511
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    The Chinese restaurant approach, or better the 'buffet' approach, is of course all to customary, in real life and especially in forums like these and particularly in threads on Wagner. If it is already difficult to really know yourself or your best friends, you can merely guess what influenced people you never met.
    You seem to think you know a great deal about other people "in forums like these," given your endlessly repeated characterization of them and their views. In fact, most of your contributions to threads about Wagner are too obviously made for the sole purpose of characterizing other members. The paucity of real information in them makes that plain.

    The Wagner-Taliban and in fact everybody interested in the raise of the egomania of the 19th century, wish to see Hitler as an isolated monster, who was not influenced by anyone in particular, but single handed came up and executed the Endlosung.
    Who are the "Wagner-Taliban"? Who are those who "wish to see Hitler as an isolated monster,[/B] who was not influenced by anyone in particular"? Certainly no one here.

    Hitler, according to one of his countless biographers, Hans-Ulrich Thamer, was obsessed by Wagner and read everything from and about him, what he can find.
    What exactly did Hitler read from and about Wagner? What does Hans-Ulrich Thamer say he read? What is his evidence? Why do you trust this particular one of Hitler's "countless" biographers?

    Hitler rarely mentioned Wagner in his writings or public utterances. There is no evidence I have seen that he ever read a word that Wagner wrote. If you have evidence to the contrary, post it here or just quit talking about it. Rumors, impressions, memes and the "associations" you like to hammer on about carry no weight with honest inquirers.

    He visits the Linz operahouse, dressed up bohemian-style. Thamer says it is the quasi-religious belief that art will change the world and will form a new community, what Hitler likes most about Wagner.
    No, it was the music he liked most. Did Hitler believe that art would change the world? Where does he say that? Have you found it in his writings?

    Wagner's view that art could be a transformative force in society was a bit naive, but fundamentally benign. Hitler's own methods for changing the world didn't look much like art.

    It is well documented how Nietzsche saw Wagner.
    Nietzsche "documented" it himself. All you have to do is read Nietzsche.

    He developed a remarkable personal relationship with the Wagner-couple,
    He and Wagner had an intense intellectual friendship. He spent much time visiting the Wagner household.

    moving from seeing Wagner as a genius authentic redeemer of musical drama (Die Geburt der Tragodie) to unmasking Wagner as an egomaniac populist in taking on quasi-religious themes for Parsifal and as a decadent nihilist, who was no longer looking to the future, but celebrated the past, the anti-modernist, where everything ended in death or in nothing.
    It was a fascinating transformation. Like many extreme devotees, he underwent an extreme reaction against the object of his devotion. Nietzsche’s father, Carl Ludwig Nietzsche, was a Lutheran minister, whom the young Friederich loved very much. Carl died when Friedrich was only four or five years old, and the young Nietzsche unquestionably found in the much older Wagner a powerful father-figure. The extreme about-face in Nietzsche's views of Wagner present a compelling portrait of the rebellion of a young man staking out his independence. Nietzsche's criticisms of Wagner and his art are worth reading, but we have to keep them in perspective. His own later confessions of love for Wagner's work and even of the man himself (as well as Cosima) make this clear.

    It doesn't take much imagination to understand Hitler's fascination with Wagner. Hitler was a frustrated would-be artist, but actually a remarkable actor, according to Albert Speer. Not a great independent intellectual, Hitler was bate for the Wagner-cult.
    How is this an explanation? Can't you imagine a frustrated artist, remarkable actor and second-hand thinker being UNINTERESTED in Wagner? Do you think those traits predispose people in general to a fascination with Wagner?

    Hitler took up the role of a Wagnerian dictator, leading to the big endgame. But without offering redemption, only death and disaster, as the ultimate nihilist.
    There is no such animal as a "Wagnerian dictator," unless you're referring to the fact that every character in his operas who's inclined to exercise power over others comes to an unhappy end. Hitler, in his fascination with Wagner, obviously overlooked this absolutely fundamental theme of Wagner's work.

    To quote you, it "doesn't take much imagination" to see that Hitler's dictatorial tendencies are not derived from anything in Wagner's art or thought. All it takes is an understanding of Wagner's art and thought. You seem to have little interest in acquiring such an understanding.

    Of course, history is only a buffet which is offering us whatever we want to see.
    History is not "only a buffet." There are actual facts. If there are some facts you don't want to see, that's your prerogative.

    Wannabe-dictators of left and right may find what they look for and individuals from all directions and courses of life as well. But it is the choice we make from the buffet table, that says something about ourselves. This is what makes even endless Wagner threads more interesting, food for thought.
    I would say that what makes Wagner threads interesting is Wagner, whose work was extremely interesting. The interminable recycling of memes, cliches and outright fallacies about the "association" or "connection" between Hitler and Wagner stopped being interesting a long time ago.

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  3. #512
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    I'm not going to argue with any of that,
    You could have argued with it. But that's OK. I did the job. Not that it'll prevent another repeat performance.

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    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    You could have argued with it. But that's OK. I did the job. Not that it'll prevent another repeat performance.
    Naw. I've already argued, multiple times, that to pretend there is any more than the most minimal, tenuous moral or intellectual common ground between Wagner and Hitler (though I believe that common ground does exist) is to not give enough credit to Wagner, and way, way too much credit to Hitler. Those like NLA who disagree, will disagree.

    You have presented many reasonable, well-thought out arguments to suggest I underestimate Wagner as philosopher, theologist or anthropologist. I don't necessarily agree with all of those, but accept your arguments as reasonable points of view. But nobody here or elsewhere has ever made an argument of any credibility I can find that I am underestimating Hitler as an intellectual.

    Now that Alex Ross, whom I respect and who has written intelligently on this topic for many years, has come out with an entire book (Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music) I suppose I should revisit all this in more detail.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    Naw. I've already argued, multiple times, that to pretend there is any more than the most minimal, tenuous moral or intellectual common ground between Wagner and Hitler (though I believe that common ground does exist) is to not give enough credit to Wagner, and way, way too much credit to Hitler. Those like NLA who disagree, will disagree.

    You have presented many reasonable, well-thought out arguments to suggest I underestimate Wagner as philosopher, theologist or anthropologist. I don't necessarily agree with all of those, but accept your arguments as reasonable points of view. But nobody here or elsewhere has ever made an argument of any credibility I can find that I am underestimating Hitler as an intellectual.

    Now that Alex Ross, whom I respect and who has written intelligently on this topic for many years, has come out with an entire book (Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music) I suppose I should revisit all this in more detail.
    So Ross's book is out now? I'm guessing it'll be a worthwhile read.

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    Senior Member NLAdriaan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    Naw. I've already argued, multiple times, that to pretend there is any more than the most minimal, tenuous moral or intellectual common ground between Wagner and Hitler (though I believe that common ground does exist) is to not give enough credit to Wagner, and way, way too much credit to Hitler. Those like NLA who disagree, will disagree.

    You have presented many reasonable, well-thought out arguments to suggest I underestimate Wagner as philosopher, theologist or anthropologist. I don't necessarily agree with all of those, but accept your arguments as reasonable points of view. But nobody here or elsewhere has ever made an argument of any credibility I can find that I am underestimating Hitler as an intellectual.

    Now that Alex Ross, whom I respect and who has written intelligently on this topic for many years, has come out with an entire book (Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music) I suppose I should revisit all this in more detail.
    It is far too easy to just isolate Hitler from anyone else in history, particularly from Wagner. For some, it may be inconvenient to recognize any connection, similarity and even sparks or flames of inspiration between the two men and their worlds. To ignore it all is a matter of choice, but it rewrites history, buffet style.

    Finally, a quote from Alex Ross' new book on Wagnerism:
    The chief lesson to be drawn from the case of Wagner is that the worship of art and artists is always a dangerous pursuit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    For some, it may be inconvenient to recognize any connection, similarity and even sparks or flames of inspiration between the two men and their worlds. To ignore it all is a matter of choice, but it rewrites history, buffet style.
    You haven't established much in the way of connection, similarity, or "sparks of inspiration" that Wagner and Hitler shared though. You keep talking in vague generalities, and several members have contradicted your claims with actual facts. As far as I can tell, you seem to be the one attempting to rewrite history.
    Last edited by MaxKellerman; Sep-21-2020 at 16:20.

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  12. #517
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    It is far too easy to just isolate Hitler from anyone else in history, particularly from Wagner. For some, it may be inconvenient to recognize any connection, similarity and even sparks or flames of inspiration between the two men and their worlds. To ignore it all is a matter of choice, but it rewrites history, buffet style.

    Finally, a quote from Alex Ross' new book on Wagnerism:
    I already like the Ross book, if line you quote ("The chief lesson to be drawn from the case of Wagner is that the worship of art and artists is always a dangerous pursuit") is typical. I have tried to make precisely that point repeatedly here, including in this thread. As I've also repeatedly said, it's far better to listen to Wagner's music and read Nietzsche's essays than to listen to Nietzsche's music and read Wagner's essays. And finally, Hitler was a power-hungry homicidal psychopath who also happened to be an astute politician and propagandist who believed the work of certain artists and writers could be exploited to legitimize his pathological fantasies.

    I agree that is a "connection", I have repeatedly said that here too. Just not an especially strong one. Goebbels and other senior Nazis reportedly did not share Hitler's belief in the importance of Wagner's music in the Nazi program. Had Hitler been assassinated in the 1930s and Nazi rule continued without him, we might have seen an equally bad or even worse war (as Hitler reportedly was a poor military strategist) but there would be much less discussion today of Wagner and the Nazis.

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    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    I already like the Ross book, if line you quote ("The chief lesson to be drawn from the case of Wagner is that the worship of art and artists is always a dangerous pursuit") is typical. I have tried to make precisely that point repeatedly here, including in this thread. As I've also repeatedly said, it's far better to listen to Wagner's music and read Nietzsche's essays than to listen to Nietzsche's music and read Wagner's essays. And finally, Hitler was a power-hungry homicidal psychopath who also happened to be an astute politician and propagandist who believed the work of certain artists and writers could be exploited to legitimize his pathological fantasies.
    This is still not quite fair towards Wagner. Wagner wrote one essay about Judaism but that doesn't mean all his other essays are similar. Even the Judaism essay is from a strange period in Wagner's life. In 1849, he wrote to Liszt from Paris:

    To speak briefly, tomorrow I shall begin a searching article on the theatre of the future for some important, political journal. I promise you to leave politics on one side as much as possible, and therefore shall not compromise you or any one else; but as far as art and the theatre are concerned you must, with a good grace, allow me to be as red as possible, for a very determined colour is the only one of use to us. ... Well, money I have not, but a tremendous desire to practice a little artistic terrorism.

    It sounds as if he was planning to provoke knowingly. He wrote the Judaism essay in 1850 and it was part of his 1848-1851 essays (the others were Art and Revolution and The Artwork of the Future - artistically certainly revolutionary and somewhat provoking). The same year in another letter to Liszt he wrote this:

    I am good for nothing, except perhaps writing operas, and that I cannot do in London.

    This guy was quite self-aware not just a blinded megalomaniac. He outlined many of his musical ideas in his essays. Doing so knowingly only enhances his musical impact and makes us acknowledge his use of leitmotifs for example. The Judaism essay alone doesn't make all of them useless. There's nothing wrong with reading them.
    Last edited by annaw; Sep-21-2020 at 19:45.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    It is far too easy to just isolate Hitler from anyone else in history, particularly from Wagner. For some, it may be inconvenient to recognize any connection, similarity and even sparks or flames of inspiration between the two men and their worlds.
    Hi NLAdriaan.

    Could you let me know how, precisely, Wagner influenced Hitler?
    Last edited by RogerWaters; Sep-22-2020 at 05:54.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RogerWaters View Post
    Hi NLAdriaan.

    Could you let me know how, precisely, Wagner influenced Hitler?

    I don't think he should waste his time with your demands, since you can go simply google for it.

    Ever knew the meaning of the word "research"?
    Last edited by SyphiliSSchubert; Sep-22-2020 at 07:30.

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  18. #521
    Senior Member NLAdriaan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    I already like the Ross book, if line you quote ("The chief lesson to be drawn from the case of Wagner is that the worship of art and artists is always a dangerous pursuit") is typical. I have tried to make precisely that point repeatedly here, including in this thread. As I've also repeatedly said, it's far better to listen to Wagner's music and read Nietzsche's essays than to listen to Nietzsche's music and read Wagner's essays. And finally, Hitler was a power-hungry homicidal psychopath who also happened to be an astute politician and propagandist who believed the work of certain artists and writers could be exploited to legitimize his pathological fantasies.

    I agree that is a "connection", I have repeatedly said that here too. Just not an especially strong one. Goebbels and other senior Nazis reportedly did not share Hitler's belief in the importance of Wagner's music in the Nazi program. Had Hitler been assassinated in the 1930s and Nazi rule continued without him, we might have seen an equally bad or even worse war (as Hitler reportedly was a poor military strategist) but there would be much less discussion today of Wagner and the Nazis.
    I fully agree to the fact that Wagner isn't an essential read (far from it) and Nietzsche isn't an essential composer (far from it). It seems to be a matter of artistic talent vs intellectual power.

    Your description of Hitler seems to portray the man as a totally deranged psychopathic crazy killer, indeed a monster. Is this accurate? For starters, I don't think Hitler personally killed any (serious amount of) people during WWII. So, was he homicidal? We might ask the 'fact-checkers' in this thread. Was Hitler a psychopath? Do we know? In fact () Hitler was more normal than we would like to believe, at least according to his biographer Ulrich, who seems a more credible source than any of the TC community. Hitler was a natural born politician and a very good actor. A few what if's, according to Ulrich: The Nazi party would not have risen to power and the holocaust would not have happened if it wasn't for Hitler. Hitler could inspire and convince anyone in a Bierkeller to a hi-level business-dinner to a fight within his party, with his intuitive acting talent and his political talents.

    You wonder what would have happened if Hitler was assassinated in the 1930's...I could add a few: What if Hitler was accepted at the academy of arts....What if Wagner was killed at the Dresden barricades....What if King Ludwig hadn't financed Bayreuth....What if Wagner and Hitler would have been a bit more intelligent forward thinkers instead of romantic backward looking populists...What if the Wagner family hadn't embraced Hitler as their family friend...What if Wagner would have lived 100 years later, would he have become a cinematographer, a sort of Hitchcock/Hermann or Spielberg/Williams or Lucas/Williams in one....etc. etc. It would absolutely be more interesting than the endless spinning of preoccupied 'absolute alternative facts' in the Wagner laundromat. Fact () is of course that we don't know the answers to what if's. But thinking about answers allows for educated guessing and this gives you better insight in the persons we discuss.

    Finally, we may consider Wagner to be the most influential German playwright but a second rate politician in his day. Hitler may be considered the most influential actor and most influential German politician of his day. Both are not first rate thinkers and both share a clear antisemitic view. This would already be a starting point for some answers to the OP's question.

    But it seems impossible to discuss these kind of questions, because Wagner is involved. And Wagner means war, still to this day. You are either a devoted fan or a hostile enemy, there is no in between. This is unfortunately a fact of TC. It doesn't spoil my appreciation of Wagner's music, but it does reassure my ideas about his dark side.

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  20. #522
    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    Your description of Hitler seems to portray the man as a totally deranged psychopathic crazy killer, indeed a monster. Is this accurate? For starters, I don't think Hitler personally killed any (serious amount of) people during WWII. So, was he homicidal? We might ask the 'fact-checkers' in this thread. Was Hitler a psychopath? Do we know? In fact () Hitler was more normal than we would like to believe, at least according to his biographer Ulrich, who seems a more credible source than any of the TC community. Hitler was a natural born politician and a very good actor. A few what if's, according to Ulrich: The Nazi party would not have risen to power and the holocaust would not have happened if it wasn't for Hitler. Hitler could inspire and convince anyone in a Bierkeller to a hi-level business-dinner to a fight within his party, with his intuitive acting talent and his political talents.
    Hannah Arendt in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem argued against the Nazi leaders being necessarily psychopathic or mentally ill. That's where her concept of "banality of evil" comes from. An interesting topic for sure.

    What if Wagner was killed at the Dresden barricades....What if King Ludwig hadn't financed Bayreuth....What if Wagner and Hitler would have been a bit more intelligent forward thinkers instead of romantic backward looking populists.
    If Wagner had been killed at the Dresden barricades, we could as well say goodbye to many late-Romantic and 20th century composers, like Strauss, Bruckner, Mahler, Debussy, and probably Sibelius as well. Wagner was a Romantic. Looking backward was a characteristic of the whole movement which was a reaction to the Industrial Revolution.

    Finally, we may consider Wagner to be the most influential German playwright but a second rate politician in his day. Hitler may be considered the most influential actor and most influential German politician of his day. Both are not first rate thinkers and both share a clear antisemitic view. This would already be a starting point for some answers to the OP's question.
    Who is a first-rate thinker? Wagner is far from being the most influential German playwright but he is the most influential German opera composer. Comparing Wagner to, let's say, Goethe and claiming him not to be a first-rate thinker because he wasn't a similarly talented writer is almost the same as saying that Goethe wasn't a first-rate artist because he wasn't a similarly talented composer as Wagner. Most of us say stupid things and sometimes write them down, but Wagner's whole intellect shouldn't be assessed based on what he wrote when he was 37, in exile, and poor.
    Last edited by annaw; Sep-22-2020 at 15:50.

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  22. #523
    Senior Member NLAdriaan's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=annaw;1924167]Hannah Arendt in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem argued against the Nazi leaders being necessarily psychopathic or mentally ill. That's where her concept of "banality of evil" comes from. An interesting topic for sure.[QUOTE]

    Thanks for your interesting reply! Indeed, we are closer than we might want to think to the bad guys. It doesn't take much to unleash such monstrosities. When encouraged by the dear leader, we are all sensitive to follow up.



    If Wagner had been killed at the Dresden barricades, we could as well say goodbye to many late-Romantic and 20th century composers, like Strauss, Bruckner, Mahler, Debussy, and probably Sibelius as well. Wagner was a Romantic. Looking backward was a characteristic of the whole movement which was a reaction to the Industrial Revolution.
    This seems to me quite a big step: If it wasn't for Wagner, that your list of Strauss to Sibelius would not have done something along the lines of what they did? Mahler and Debussy were forward thinkers and developed into modernists. Even Liszt, very near to Wagner, developed as a modernist in the end, which Wagner himself didn't appreciate at all. How about Schonberg, whose Gurrelieder preceeded the atonal music he wrote later on.

    Who is a first-rate thinker? Wagner is far from being the most influential German playwright but he is the most influential German opera composer. Comparing Wagner to, let's say, Goethe and claiming him not to be a first-rate thinker because he wasn't a similarly talented writer is almost the same as saying that Goethe wasn't a first-rate artist because he wasn't a similarly talented composer as Wagner. Most of us say stupid things and sometimes write them down, but Wagner's whole intellect shouldn't be assessed based on what he wrote when he was 37, in exile, and poor.
    My words 'most influential playwright' probably isn't well-defined. What I mean is that Wagner with his opera's, has inspired the superhero drama's that we still see in cinema today. Also, Bayreuth was considered a cinematic experience avant-la-lettre. Probably, I better used the words 'most influential dramatist', as indeed I wouldn't rank Goethe and Wagner in the same league. I rank Wagner as influential on many after him, like the cinematic names I mentioned. I would think that Wagner today would have been active in cinema and not in opera.

    But the topic of this thread is about Wagner's influence on the nazi's, or more precisely, on Hitler.

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    So Ross's book is out now? I'm guessing it'll be a worthwhile read.
    W. If and when you read Ross’s book I’d be interested in your opinion of it.
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    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by annaw View Post
    This is still not quite fair towards Wagner.
    I've seen no evidence to suggest it isn't fair. Without Wagner's notoriety as a composer and dramatist, I believe his essays would remain largely unknown. Your comments only suggest how misleading it can be to use those writings as a basis for interpreting his operas.

    Quote Originally Posted by annaw View Post
    Hannah Arendt in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem argued against the Nazi leaders being necessarily psychopathic or mentally ill.
    The key word being, "necessarily". All Nazi leaders were not the same. Hitler's often bizarre and irrational behavior and ideas, however a psychoanalyst might characterize them, helped bring down the Third Reich much sooner than might otherwise have occurred. The fascist Franco ruled Spain until his death in 1975. Hitler only had 12 years.

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