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

  1. #571
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by En Passant View Post
    I believe thos view of things is in it’s self flawed. The German social matrix is/was no less flawed than any other social matrix then or now. It is the faulty belief that somehow what happened was due to something innate within the German psyche. This completely disregards the circumstances the Germans found themselves in after “The Great War”.

    Any country at any time could do what the Germans did and people in the West do not want to believe it. What happened in the USSR was far worse than the entirety of WWII (in terms of deaths and forced labour) yet it is rarely spoken about. There have been several genocide attempts in Asia and Africa since WWII Rwanda & Indonesia spring to mind as well as Iraqi Kurds (twice) and the Yazidis. In fact the othering occurring right now in the United States is very reminiscent of what happened to European Jews under Hitler prior to the War.

    If the Germans were flawed then we all share that potential to be flawed and it’s tiring to have the Yanks and the Brits constantly drag out the Germans as a uniquely evil or flawed people. Every time I see a Wagner NAZIS thread it’s the same old same old why are people so fascinated by it? Repressed desire or something?
    The post of mine which you quote was the second post in this thread, and a direct response to the OP, in which millionrainbows, not I, invented the expression "flawed German cultural matrix." That is not a phrase that would have occurred to me, since German culture is obviously flawed, just as every culture is flawed. The statement is true but trivial, and your argument should be with millionrainbows, not with me. Judging by your post, I think you and I are in agreement. The cultural need to rehash, revive and perpetuate the myth of some peculiarly dark German character flaw is unfortunate.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Oct-02-2020 at 16:03.

  2. #572
    Senior Member Varick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RogerWaters View Post
    Who really cares about whether Wagner influenced Hitler? It’s not like the man actually physically hurt anyone. All this earnest need to either implicate or extricate Wagner is a bit like watching a subservient religious evangelical self-flagelate. I don’t expect nor desire my great artists to pass the campus safe-space test, along with the soft toys, colouring books and sensitivity readers.
    Too many people use association in order to judge whether or not something or someone is good. This is such an asinine mentality. Hitler loved peaches and strawberries. So what? Are you going to stop eating peaches and strawberries now? We have stopped thinking, and it's very dangerous.

    V
    Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

  3. #573
    Senior Member AbsolutelyBaching's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varick View Post
    Too many people use association in order to judge whether or not something or someone is good. This is such an asinine mentality. Hitler loved peaches and strawberries. So what? Are you going to stop eating peaches and strawberries now? We have stopped thinking, and it's very dangerous.

    V
    To be fair to people I have disagreed with in this very thread, they're not mindlessly 'using association to judge if Wagner's music is any good or not' (I paraphrase). The concern is that Wagner's music is very good -perhaps too good. And perhaps something of a gateway drug to philosophies and world-views which have lead to disaster.

    There is also the legitimate view that *if* Wagner had espoused some nasty ideas, the quality of his musical output shouldn't render him immune from the criticism those nasty ideas would ordinarily evoke. That is, however great an artist he might have been, he doesn't get a free pass to espouse antisemitism (to name just one) without someone calling him out on it.

    So to answer Roger Waters' post you quoted: *if* Wagner had inspired Hitler to the atrocities that were Auschwitz and the rest, then we should all bloody well care about it, because they were disgusting and any human being who had a part in their occurring deserves the worst sort of opprobrium. The long debate on this pages, however, has been an attempt to assess that "if". There are a lot of people that think the association tenuous or non-existent.

    Thus, do we care *if* Wagner inspired Hitlerian excesses? Answer: we should, because anyone who helped that vile spark of inhumanity on his way deserves Damnatio memoriae, not polite applause in nice, bourgeois environments.

    The other side of that coin, however, is: should we care if Wagner gets associated with Hitler? Well, given what I've just said, the answer should be fairly self-explanatory: of course we should. Because if we are condemning a man to damnatio memoriae unjustly, that would be inappropriate.

    It's not therefore a question of liking stawberries, if some horror-show liked them before me. It's a question of making an informed and thoughtful critique of a very able, very influential composer who had an unfortunate tendency to espouse a nasty form of antisemitism -without that turning into a knee-jerk "Oh my God, Nazis!" and throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
    Last edited by AbsolutelyBaching; Oct-28-2020 at 16:28.

  4. #574
    Senior Member Flamme's Avatar
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    I did nazi that coming...
    'Listen, Mister god!
    Isn't it boring
    to dip your puffy eyes,
    every day, into a jelly of clouds?'

  5. #575
    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AbsolutelyBaching View Post
    To be fair to people I have disagreed with in this very thread, they're not mindlessly 'using association to judge if Wagner's music is any good or not' (I paraphrase). The concern is that Wagner's music is very good -perhaps too good. And perhaps something of a gateway drug to philosophies and world-views which have lead to disaster.
    An association with Hitler itself doesn’t in my opinion say anything about Wagner. If we assume that the influence was based on Hitler’s own (mis)interpretation of Wagner, we cannot really say that Wagner is to be held accountable for that association. We can say something about Wagner and this association only if we base that on Wagner’s own ideas. The fact that Hitler managed to be influenced by Wagner in such a drastic way (assuming thay he did) says in this case more about Hitler than it does about Wagner. Hitler might have been able to create similar association between himself and children’s cartoons as well, I guess.

    If we cannot prove that Wagner explicitly stated such views in his operas, he should not be “evaluated” based on this association. Wagner was able to convey Schopenhauer’s philosophy with great clarity, which is probably much more complex than antisemitism. Thus I doubt some vague hints to antisemitism should be regarded as something that is explicitly stated.

    I agree with many of your points though but my phone’s battery is super low atm .

  6. #576
    Senior Member AbsolutelyBaching's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by annaw View Post
    An association with Hitler itself doesn’t in my opinion say anything about Wagner.
    That is a valid point, and I was over-simplifying for the late arrival at this particular Wagner ball!

    Obviously, if A, who died in 1883, turns out to have been a profound influence on B, who was born in 1889, there cannot be any way for A to be "responsible" for his influence on B, since he was 6 years dead at the time.

    To that extent, it is clearly not Wagner's "fault" if he profoundly influenced Hitler: long-since in his grave, he can't be held responsible in that way.

    But... but... *if* Hitler was so profoundly moved to his love of Wagner because he found, in Wagner's music, an emotional way of representing the triumph of the Aryan race, the lauding of the Leader above all, the squashing of vile Jewishness... etc etc etc... and *if* it can be demonstrated that within his music, there are things which might provoke that reaction in people primed to so react... then he should be considered responsible to some extent for having "glamourised" a philosophy or world-view that was so attractive to others, it somewhat inspired them to their later deeds.

    Now. That's a lot of ifs, and I don't personally believe any of them actually apply. But the reason why people want to keep arguing about Wagner and Nazis is because *if* those things are true, then Wagner *should* bear some responsibility for how later folk responded to his music and the deeds they got up to in consequence.

    Quote Originally Posted by annaw View Post
    If we assume that the influence was based on Hitler’s own (mis)interpretation of Wagner, we cannot really say that Wagner is to be held accountable for that association.
    Well, no, obviously -because the "(mis)" in that sentence is rather important! If B misinterprets what A meant, then clearly A shouldn't be held responsible in *any* way for that.

    The statement I was responding too, however, was essentially "it's stupid to dislike Wagner merely because of Hitler's association with him". It's not about whether Hitler mis-interpreted Wagner, but that he was (demonstrably) "associated" with Wagner.

    The question then, it seems to me, come down to whether there was anything in Wagner which might have inspired Hitler to make that association. In my view, there isn't, but it's a legitimate question to ask, it seems to me, because of the magnitude of both personalities.

    Quote Originally Posted by annaw View Post
    We can say something about Wagner and this association only if we base that on Wagner’s own ideas. The fact that Hitler managed to be influenced by Wagner in such a drastic way (assuming thay he did) says in this case more about Hitler than it does about Wagner. Hitler might have been able to create similar association between himself and children’s cartoons as well, I guess.
    Well, I think I disagree.

    Consider Beethoven's 9th. Does that last movement contain a representation of emotional feelings of brotherhood that might inspire others to think trans-nationally or inspire them to think of multiple nations as one giant brotherhood? (I realise Schiller might be responsible for that if so, but run with the analogy for now anyway!)

    If a group of politicians some 130 years after Beethoven's death had been sitting around wondering 'what piece of music would make a suitable anthem for a supra-national political union?', could one sort of hold Beethoven responsible for them thinking 'Ah ha! What about the Ode to Joy from the 9th symphony!?'

    I'd say you could. Beethoven poured emotional heft into his work precisely so people would be inspired by it -as all composers do, I expect. And if a composer invests "something" in his output, he cannot be surprised if others respond to that decades later.

    So, in the general case, I think you would be able to blame Wagner to some extent *if* Hitler had found something in his music that we these days summarise as "Nazism", even if it was an early, prototypical and un-polished form of it. So if Wagner had poured that sort of viciousness into his music, and that had inspired others to much later commit actual atrocities, I think Wagner would have to shoulder some moral blame for it.

    But this is Devil's Advocate stuff, because we both don't think that sort of viciousness made it into the music, so Wagner beats the rap on the simple grounds that it's just not true. As this thread has demonstrated at some length(!), Hitler felt good about life because of Wagner's music; he was specifically inspired by a story about a Roman Tribune made good that Wagner happened to set to music. That's way too diffuse a connection for Wagner to be responsible for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by annaw View Post
    If we cannot prove that Wagner explicitly stated such views in his operas, he should not be “evaluated” based on this association.
    Ah, see. I thought I'd put enough asterisked and italicised "ifs" into my post to make it clear that Wagner cannot be evaluated on the basis of the association, precisely because he didn't put anything in his music which can legitimately be said to have inspired Hitler to his deeds. If I hadn't made that clear, allow me to do so now!

    I was speaking hypothetically. *IF* Wagner's music somehow had ingredients in it which really did inspire Hitler to his deeds, *then* Wagner deserves opprobrium. And asking whether he did put that sort of stuff into his music is a valid question.

    Thus all of this is in the context of addressing the question: "Who really cares about whether Wagner influenced Hitler?" We all should care *whether* he did or not, because it is possible for dead people to inspire the living to do dreadful things (or good things, come to that), so it's a legitimate thing to be interested in and "care about". That at least you, I and many others then come down on the side of "no he didn't" is a factually separate matter from whether it's OK to care about asking the question in the first place.

  7. #577
    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AbsolutelyBaching View Post
    Well, no, obviously -because the "(mis)" in that sentence is rather important! If B misinterprets what A meant, then clearly A shouldn't be held responsible in *any* way for that.

    The statement I was responding too, however, was essentially "it's stupid to dislike Wagner merely because of Hitler's association with him". It's not about whether Hitler mis-interpreted Wagner, but that he was (demonstrably) "associated" with Wagner.

    The question then, it seems to me, come down to whether there was anything in Wagner which might have inspired Hitler to make that association. In my view, there isn't, but it's a legitimate question to ask, it seems to me, because of the magnitude of both personalities.
    I agree with you. I have absolutely nothing against this question being asked and I'm more than willing to discuss it. But yes, neither do I see it justified that Wagner should be viewed responsible for Hitler's deeds.

    Well, I think I disagree.

    Consider Beethoven's 9th. Does that last movement contain a representation of emotional feelings of brotherhood that might inspire others to think trans-nationally or inspire them to think of multiple nations as one giant brotherhood? (I realise Schiller might be responsible for that if so, but run with the analogy for now anyway!)

    If a group of politicians some 130 years after Beethoven's death had been sitting around wondering 'what piece of music would make a suitable anthem for a supra-national political union?', could one sort of hold Beethoven responsible for them thinking 'Ah ha! What about the Ode to Joy from the 9th symphony!?'

    I'd say you could. Beethoven poured emotional heft into his work precisely so people would be inspired by it -as all composers do, I expect. And if a composer invests "something" in his output, he cannot be surprised if others respond to that decades later.

    So, in the general case, I think you would be able to blame Wagner to some extent *if* Hitler had found something in his music that we these days summarise as "Nazism", even if it was an early, prototypical and un-polished form of it. So if Wagner had poured that sort of viciousness into his music, and that had inspired others to much later commit actual atrocities, I think Wagner would have to shoulder some moral blame for it.
    I agree with this point in general but a question still remains - how evident or universal should be the expressivity in the music to say that the composer is responsible for listener's individual and largely subjective response? (A quick philosophical digression.) Even if music makes 99% population feel "happy", there's can still be 1% in whom it evokes feelings of ethnic superiority. If the majority of people don't see it as expressively supremacist music then shouldn't Hitler's personal response be regarded as a result of his own individual response? So, can we ever really say that the music itself conveys a specific universal feeling in an objective sense? It always seems to be connected with text - both in Wagner's and Beethoven's case.
    Last edited by annaw; Yesterday at 19:27.

  8. #578
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Wagner and Hitler both scapegoated the Jews in a (in my opinion) highly disingenuous and fraudulent way to advance their own (very different) personal agendas, each taking advantage of prevailing, or at least very common, anti-Jewish attitudes in European (not only German) society. Also, Hitler greatly admired the music of Wagner, as well as certain other classical composers, and used it for propaganda purposes.

    I've seen no evidence that Hitler used or even acknowledged any of Wagner's ideas about Jews. Also, Wagner died before Hitler was born, so obviously they never met or knew each other personally.

    Whether all of that amounts to a significant link between the two is entirely a matter of subjective opinion. I see no right or wrong answer.

  9. #579
    Senior Member AbsolutelyBaching's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by annaw View Post
    I agree with this point in general but a question still remains - how evident or universal should be the expressivity in the music to say that the composer is responsible for listener's individual and largely subjective response? (A quick philosophical digression.) Even if music makes 99% population feel "happy", there's can still be 1% in whom it evokes feelings of ethnic superiority. If the majority of people don't see it as expressively supremacist music then shouldn't Hitler's personal response be regarded as a result of his own individual response? So, can we ever really say that the music itself conveys a specific universal feeling in an objective sense? It always seems to be connected with text - both in Wagner's and Beethoven's case.
    That's also an extremely valid point. But since Wagner was primarily an opera composer (and he wrote his own librettos), I would think the burden of proof on this point would be quite low. That's to say, I think it would be quite easy in Wagner's case to point at passages and say, 'well, there's the evidence' (and indeed I've pointed out one passage -of text- in Meistersingers which makes me a little queasy... to your very self, I believe!)

    I agree with you though that it would be difficult, even in Wagner's case, to make the point purely musically.

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