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

  1. #76
    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    If that was so why didn't he keep it to himself? He appears to have been completely unashamed of it. He surely would have thought it not wrong to include it in his art. Why should his art be free of it when his writings and philosophy are not? That is the question. The matter cannot be proved either way but it does seem to me a bit wishful to think that none of Wagner's views got through to his art any more than none of Emanuel Schikaneder's racist and misogynistic views got though into a certain of Mozart's librettos
    What is the "Jewish" character in the Ring where Wagner's anti-Semitism creeps in? Alberich and the Nibelungen? They are not one-dimensional stereotypical villains. Alberich only turns away from light to the darkness after he is mocked and humiliated by the elites. The Nibelungen have the skill to produce something of value and they are exploited by their leader, and ultimately the fruit of their labor is stolen by the elites. They are a cohort that is confined to an degraded place in the world by the structure of society. So no, I don't see that the hatred and contempt for Jews that is attributed to Wagner clearly manifests itself in the Ring. If I try to find a metaphor for the politics of Wagner's time in the Ring I'd say it is an indictment of capitalism, and the Nibelungen are suggestive of exploited labor.

    What I mainly look to Wagner for is sublime music.
    There are two kinds of music, good music and the other kind. - Duke Ellington.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Scarpia View Post
    What is the "Jewish" character in the Ring where Wagner's anti-Semitism creeps in?

    Mime in Siegfried perhaps.

    Wotan is a Jewish character in my opinion too, the wandering Jew.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jan-18-2020 at 07:18.

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    Senior Member Baron Scarpia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Mime in Siegfried perhaps.

    Wotan is a Jewish character in my opinion too, the wandering Jew.
    Mime is Alberich's brother, and another Nibelungen. The gods are Jewish, the Nibelungen are Jewish, who in the Ring isn't Jewish, then? The Rheinmaidens and the Walkure's, perhaps? But Brunhilde is Wotan's daughter, the Walkure must be Jewish too.
    There are two kinds of music, good music and the other kind. - Duke Ellington.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Byron View Post
    Let's try it.

    A tale of toleration, by Woodduck.

    DavidA: "I believe that Wagner's antisemitism is present in his art as well as his writings and philosophy. It's wishful thinking to believe otherwise."

    Talkclassical User: "I don't see any good reason to believe that Wagner's antisemitism is present in his art, and I see good reasons to believe it isn't."

    DavidA: "There's more than one view on this, and many people share my view."

    Talkclassical User: "Many people can be wrong."

    DavidA: "Well it's my opinion and I'm entitled to it."

    Talkclassical User: "You're entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts. What facts can you offer?"

    DavidA: "There are two sides to every issue."

    Talkclassical User: "Not necessarily. But if there are, one side may be right and the other wrong. Not all views are equally valid. Here are some reasons why your view is likely to be incorrect and some evidence in support of mine."

    Rebuttal 1

    Rebuttal 2

    Rebuttal 3

    Rebuttal 4

    Rebuttal 5

    Rebuttal 6

    Rebuttal 7

    Rebuttal 8

    Rebuttal 9

    Rebuttal 10

    Rebuttal 11

    Rebuttal 12

    DavidA: "My side has reasons and evidence too."

    Talkclassical User: "Do you intend to state them?"

    DavidA: "Reputable sources back me up."

    Talkclassical User: "That isn't reasons or evidence."

    DavidA: "Why can't you just accept that people can have different points of view?"

    Talkclassical User: "I accept that they do. I just don't accept their conclusions. I've given you facts, as well as deductions from those facts, that show why your point of view is problematic at best. Can you do the same?"

    DavidA: "I don't have to prove anything to you. Noted authorities agree with me."

    Talkclassical User: "What makes them authorities? Noted by whom? Each other?"

    DavidA: "What makes you such an authority?"

    Talkclassical User: "I'm not an authority. I'm just giving you reasons why one view is more valid than another."

    DavidA: "There's more than one side to every issue."

    Talkclassical User: "You said that before."

    DavidA: "There's no right and wrong on this. There are just different opinions."

    Talkclassical User: "Not all opinions are equally valid."

    DavidA:"You're being intolerant! You're not letting me express my opinion!"

    Talkclassical User: "Yes I am. You've expressed it, several times. Now I'm asking you to back it up with facts and clear reasoning, and to consider the objections I've raised."

    DavidA: "Can't we just agree to disagree?"

    Talkclassical User: "So you want to be able to make ex cathedra statements and not be challenged? You don't want to question the ideas you hold? You don't want genuine debate? You want a megaphone and not a forum?"

    DavidA: "I have a right to state my opinion and you have no right to censor me!"

    Talkclassical User:


    [several months pass]


    DavidA: "I believe that Wagner's antisemitism is present in his art as well as his writings and philosophy. It's wishful thinking to believe otherwise."
    As I say the old thing that when you can’t win an argument then play the man and not the ball. Pretty typical, but disappointed you had to degenerate into this personal attack . Just shows that polite and rational discussion on this topic appears impossible. Disappointing. Never mind.
    Last edited by DavidA; Jan-18-2020 at 07:41.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    Mime in Siegfried perhaps.
    Apparently Wagner didn't think so.

    In 1882 in her diary Cosima writes "This morning we went through all the characters of the R. des Nibelungen from the point of view of race: the gods white; the dwarfs yellow (Mongols); the blacks the Ethiopians; Loge the half -caste."

    In Wagner's mind Jews were the exploiters. The hapless Mime is as much exploited as exploiter.
    Last edited by Resurrexit; Jan-18-2020 at 08:17.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Scarpia View Post
    Mime is Alberich's brother, and another Nibelungen. The gods are Jewish, the Nibelungen are Jewish, who in the Ring isn't Jewish, then? The Rheinmaidens and the Walkure's, perhaps? But Brunhilde is Wotan's daughter, the Walkure must be Jewish too.
    And let's not forget Fafner and the forest bird. Fafner does nothing but sit on his golden hoard, and that talkative bird is obviously a shadchan, a matchmaker ("Oy, Siegfried, bubbala! So why are you not married already? I know a nice, zaftig shiksa who lives on a rock...").

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Resurrexit View Post
    Apparently Wagner didn't think so [that Mime was supposed to represent a Jew].

    In 1882 in her diary Cosima writes "This morning we went through all the characters of the R. des Nibelungen from the point of view of race: the gods white; the dwarfs yellow (Mongols); the blacks the Ethiopians; Loge the half -caste."
    I'm glad you found that quote. In the last couple of years of his life, Wagner had conversations with Gobineau about the latter's theories of race, and this no doubt inspired him and Cosima to look at the Ring through that prism (in a lighthearted sort of way, I would guess, if racial thinking can properly be called lighthearted). This would not represent Wagner's thinking when the Ring was composed, but above all it shows pretty conclusively that he never conceived of the Nibelungs as Jewish. Moreover, if I'm not mistaken, Wagner at this late stage in life still regarded the Jews as racially white.

    So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr. A, and forward it to your mentor Barry Millington while you're at it.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jan-18-2020 at 08:29.

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  14. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    As I say the old thing that when you can’t win an argument then play the man and not the ball.
    In your post, which I already challenged for offering only generalisations about "people" (see below), where do you play the ball?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    This sort of reply is fairly typical of people who want to defend Wagner and his works - ie people who find aspects of the works (like Maher et al) troubling are just simply those people who won't listen to reasoned argument. The fact is that there are two sides to the argument among scholars and there is reasoned argument a-plenty. I have plenty of 'reasoned argument's sitting on my shelves. The problem is that for some people any kind of reasoned argument is to be dismissed as almost heresy, that Wagner could have included this part of his philosophy in his music dramas. [etc]
    I asked you to show where I was generalising, which you accused me of in your post #119. You haven't replied.
    I asked you to give an example of a good quality historical review so I can see how they weigh evidence. You simply point me to the internet.
    In post #128, you ask if I agreed with "the practice". When I asked you to clarify what practice, you don't reply. How can I answer your question?

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    Senior Member Zhdanov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    when you can’t win an argument then play the man and not the ball.
    right, same as talk Wagner personality instead of his music.

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    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Sure, the church tried to banish those beings, but it could only drive them underground or see them syncretized with the spirit beings of its own tradition. Don't forget, Christianity has angels and demons, which easily turn into fairies and trolls. I suspect it took the secular Enlightenment to finally depaganize the Christian West, but although "Judeo-Christian thinking" of a more sophisticated kind may deny the existence of spirits of the forest and the waters, humans seem fond of them, and in such matters feeling trumps thinking. Nibelungs and mermaids, hobbits and orcs, still charm us because they're manifestations of primal aspects of human nature which neither theology nor rational philosophy can explain away.
    Yes, a point I'd thought you would make, and well said. But there is a fundamental difference between angels and demons on the one hand and intelligent but non-human creatures living on earth like dwarves, elves, etc. on the other. The latter directly contradict a basic tenet of Genesis, under which man is created in God's image and rules over all other creatures of the earth: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." These mythic creatures are essentially man's equal, or even man's more powerful superior, and man must co-exist with them without having dominion over them.

    To the extent Judeo-Christian / Islamic religion remains in the folkloric fantasy world of Wagner, and more recently Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and Carnival Row, (which are very much in the tradition of Wagner and contain direct references to his operas, especially to his Ring cycle), it is often explicitly depicted as a delusion. Men may think they have dominion over all other creatures on the earth, but they do not.

    However, I don't think any of this creates much of a connection between Wagner and the Nazis. Sure, you can say the gods are the Germans, and the conniving Alberich and his dwarves are the Jews and the Roma. You could also say the gods are the Turks, and the dwarves are the Albanians. Or the gods are the Chinese, and the dwarves are the Tibetians. Or the gods are the Russians, and the dwarves are the Chechens.

    The bottom line is, Wagner, not through his own doing, and specifically not due to his anti-semitism, and his music became symbols of the Nazi regime. That is why it was banned by the Israeli Philharmonic for many years. But symbolic meanings, especially political ones, eventually fade and the music remains.
    Last edited by fluteman; Jan-18-2020 at 17:08.

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  19. #86
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    Yes, a point I'd thought you would make, and well said. But there is a fundamental difference between angels and demons on the one hand and intelligent but non-human creatures living on earth like dwarves, elves, etc. on the other. The latter directly contradict a basic tenet of Genesis, under which man is created in God's image and rules over all other creatures of the earth: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." These mythic creatures are essentially man's equal, or even man's more powerful superior, and man must co-exist with them without having dominion over them.

    To the extent Judeo-Christian / Islamic religion remains in the folkloric fantasy world of Wagner, and more recently Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and Carnival Row, (which are very much in the tradition of Wagner and contain direct references to his operas, especially to his Ring cycle), it is often explicitly depicted as a delusion. Men may think they have dominion over all other creatures on the earth, but they do not.
    I understand the contrast you're making, but supernatural beings are what humans need and feel them to be, regardless of what the official scriptures tell us about them. A distinction between Christian devils and pagan trolls is theologically interesting, but psychologically I see them arising from the same source and having similar, or at least overlapping, functions - one reason why religions have easily merged and adopted each other's brands of magic, and even partaken of each other's pantheons, despite the efforts of the priests and inquisitors to fend off heresy and keep the populace in line.

    Official Judaic and Christian cosmologies divide the universe into natural and supernatural realms, with man and the animals belonging to the former, God, Satan and the angels to the latter, and the two realms meeting only when the supernatural realm decides to invade the natural. Neither science nor primitive instinct accepts such a radical dichotomization of reality; the notion that man has, or can or should have, dominion over the natural realm is alien to primitive cultures, and its untenableness is becoming clear to a post-Enlightenment world as nature strikes back against our hubris. The primitive instinct to populate nature with anthropomorphized beings or spirits can be seen as a prescientific recognition of man's need to maintain a thoughtful symbiosis with the rest of the natural world rather than a presumption of ownership and control. But, that said, I see the gods, angels and devils of the Judeo-Christian tradition as having fundamentally the same significance: they are voices from beyond eveyday consciousness reminding man that he is not independent of the rest of reality, and that pride - the delusion of independence - goeth before a fall. (Ironically, the Judeo-Christian cleaving of the universe into distinct realms of nature and supernature, with a divine commandment conferring on man the special status of dominion over creation, helped instill the very hubris primitive religions forbade.) When wildfire destroys a village, the primitive mind evokes angry fire spirits, while the Christian speculates on God's plan and may point to the people's moral failures. In contrast to both, the environmental scientist, no longer subject to the will of supernatural or seminatural forces or beings, understands that a history of old-growth logging and fire suppression has resulted in a dangerous buildup of young trees and undergrowth, and feels compelled by his conscience to speak of the web of life and to advocate for loving care of nature. But regardless of religion or the absence of it, all three are expressing the perception of human membership in a larger reality and man's need to recognize his limits within it.

    Wagner dealt with the question of man's place in the universe from a post-Enlightenment, post-mythical, post-religious perspective, but did it, fascinatingly, by means of mythical imagery. The Ring of the Nibelung shows us, among many other things, the story of humanity's growth toward conscious autonomy on both individual and cultural levels. This entails a progression from the psychic constraints of a mythical world populated by gods and controlled by their laws toward the liberation of the human conscience from supernatural control. Wagner depicts "the gods are dead" some time before Nietzsche will state it verbally and in the singular, and as Valhalla goes up in flames he shows us mankind looking on in shock and wonder, as the orchestra concludes with a phrase in praise of Brunnhilde, the valkyrie who defied the gods, was stripped of her divinity, and through pain and suffering came to see that love is finally all we have. Her realization enables the gods, increasingly powerless and irrelevant, to relinquish at last their hold on the human mind.

    What Wagner doesn't give us in the Ring is a picture of what a post-Gotterdammerung cosmos would look like. But - to tie this back into the intended theme of this thread - it would definitely look nothing like the world imagined by Hitler. Wagner's next and final opera, Parsifal, takes us from the Ring's primitive world of Nordic mythology to the world of medieval Christendom, but despite their very different sets of symbols, plots, and musical sound-worlds, the two works ultimately tell a similar story of intellectual and spiritual evolution. Parsifal has even been called the fifth opera of the Ring, and it takes us at least half a step past the downfall of the gods by showing us how a corrupted religious sect is redeemed by an "innocent fool" who knows nothing of its rituals and rules. Hitler grew increasingly uncomfortable with it, presumably due to its message of humilty, compassion and healing, and performances were ultimately banned during the Reich. But he should have been uncomfortable with the Ring as well. I've always believed that if he had understood Wagner's whole artistic course we wouldn't be stuck today with that ugly two-headed monster called Wagner-Hitler.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jan-19-2020 at 01:44.

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    There is enough physical difference in the human beings which inhabit this Earth such that this is sufficient in itself to be perceived as being totally different to oneself.
    There is no need for symbolic groups of 'gods' or 'trolls' to bring us 'messages from beyond' or to represent Man's evolution, except as convenient symbols which amuse and entertain his audience.
    Wagner was a realist. His 'race of trolls' is very amusing and entertaining.

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    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    (re Woodduck's post) Well, that certainly offers an alternative to the theories that Wagner's operas are all about the anti-Jewish subtext! I'm not about to get into a heavy theological discussion, as it isn't my cup of tea, but I find it interesting and refreshing that you describe the Christian world view as one of arrogance or hubris in its presumption of human dominion and control over nature, whereas the post-Enlightenment, post-religious view is one of humility and thoughtful symbiosis with nature comparable to "primitive" (your word) religions.

    Them would be fightin' words to many who would would think it the other way around, and that it is the Christians who advocate man's humble and responsible stewardship of the earth's resources, whereas post-religious humanism, science and technology represents a foolhardy attempt to dominate nature, leading to climate change and similar catastrophes. But I'm not interested in a debate along those lines, and moreover, if that is your take on Wagner's work, it seems a legitimate view to me, or at least, not one I'm prepared to disprove. I would certainly rank it above the Wagner-Hitler theories.

    (re millionrainbows post) And that's another legitimate view: The mythical imagery is simply a matter of entertainment. Certainly, ancient mythology is a convenient way of creating a familiar dramatic setting without inadvertently bringing in controversial political or social baggage that would distract from the show. I agree that is probably one intended element of the mythological context.
    Last edited by fluteman; Jan-19-2020 at 01:51.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    Well, that certainly offers an alternative to the theories that Wagner's operas are all about the anti-Jewish subtext! I'm not about to get into a heavy theological discussion, as it isn't my cup of tea, but I find it interesting and refreshing that you describe the Christian world view as one of arrogance or hubris in its presumption of human dominion and control over nature, whereas the post-Enlightenment, post-religious view is one of humility and thoughtful symbiosis with nature comparable to "primitive" (your word) religions.

    Them would be fightin' words to many who would would think it the other way around, and that it is the Christians who advocate man's humble and responsible stewardship of the earth's resources, whereas post-religious humanism, science and technology represents a foolhardy attempt to dominate nature, leading to climate change and similar catastrophes. But I'm not interested in a debate along those lines, and moreover, if that is your take on Wagner's work, it seems a legitimate view to me, or at least, not one I'm prepared to disprove. I would certainly rank it above the Wagner-Hitler theories.
    I'm not making quite the distinction you're inferring. Science and technology have gotten us into plenty of trouble, but I think the arrogance that has led to that is the heritage of the human-centered world-view of the Biblical creation story in which the earth was a garden made for man and its nonhuman inhabitants were apparently nothing more than soulless objects with merely utilitarian value. It's only rather recently that science and technology have acquired a deep understanding of the interdependent web of profoundly sentient life of which humans are merely a part, a part without which the whole system functioned perfectly well for millions of years and without which it may do so again if we don't change our ways. Scientists themselves have far more humility than the technicians who use scientific knowledge to gain wealth and power.

    I just wanted to clarify that, though it may have little to do with the topic at hand (which it's pleasant to get away from, I must say ). The place of nature in Wagner's work, though, is worthy of note. Natural scenes, natural forces, and animals are conspicuous in his operas. The Ring begins in a state of nature - the primeval, watery womb of the Rhine - out of which life, as it were, congeals, and in the prologue to Gotterdammerung the Norns tell us that in the beginning Wotan committed the first crime against nature by ripping a branch from Yggdrasil, the World Ash Tree, to make the spear by which he would rule the heavens, thus causing the tree to wither and the sacred spring that flowed from its roots to dry up. Nature imagery is everywhere throughout the Ring - fire, water, earth and air - and is vividly evoked in its music. Wagner himself was a passionate animal lover who wrote in opposition to cruelty to animals, including vivisection for scientific puposes, and even tried becoming a vegetarian (which unfortunately didn't agree with his constitution). In Parsifal it's the hero's shooting of a swan, for which he's touchingly reproved by the old knight Gurnemanz, that begins his spiritual awakening and his journey toward the compassion that enables him to heal the wound of Amfortas.
    Last edited by TurnaboutVox; Jan-23-2020 at 22:16. Reason: Italicised "Parsifal" restored.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    (re Woodduck's post) Well, that certainly offers an alternative to the theories that Wagner's operas are all about the anti-Jewish subtext! I'm not about to get into a heavy theological discussion, as it isn't my cup of tea, but I find it interesting and refreshing that you describe the Christian world view as one of arrogance or hubris in its presumption of human dominion and control over nature, whereas the post-Enlightenment, post-religious view is one of humility and thoughtful symbiosis with nature comparable to "primitive" (your word) religions.

    Them would be fightin' words to many who would would think it the other way around, and that it is the Christians who advocate man's humble and responsible stewardship of the earth's resources, whereas post-religious humanism, science and technology represents a foolhardy attempt to dominate nature, leading to climate change and similar catastrophes. But I'm not interested in a debate along those lines, and moreover, if that is your take on Wagner's work, it seems a legitimate view to me, or at least, not one I'm prepared to disprove. I would certainly rank it above the Wagner-Hitler theories.

    (re millionrainbows post) And that's another legitimate view: The mythical imagery is simply a matter of entertainment. Certainly, ancient mythology is a convenient way of creating a familiar dramatic setting without inadvertently bringing in controversial political or social baggage that would distract from the show. I agree that is probably one intended element of the mythological context.
    Quite the opposite of what the message of the cross is: 'If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.' It shows whoever thinks that has no grasp of what the message of the New Testament actually is. No need to argue about it. Just read the teaching of Jesus: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for there's is the Kingdom of God; Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth...." Need we go on?
    Last edited by DavidA; Jan-23-2020 at 17:10.

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