Thursday, April 27, 2006

Nicht gesamt...

A.C. Douglas, cultural reactionary extraordinaire, posts about a new production of Parsifal:

Perhaps this encouraging report is signaling the beginnings of a unique new European trend in opera production: staging an opera not according to the whims of the current director, but as the opera composer wrote it.

I will say only this, and like an artistic Iago, hold my piece: Wagner wrote Gesamtkunstwerk. The "gesamt" requires that the audience connect. It is not 1882, and Romanticism is not part of the larger cultural grammar any more. Seeing a bunch of Ritter mincing about on the stage, dressed like a egocentric 19th century composer would have imagined a magical Medieval past, is not going to do much more than arouse a sense of Camp in the audience.

The totality of total art fails when the auditor cannot make the necessary connection with the piece. Wagner's Bühnenweihfestspiel fails miserably and becomes a mere music-drama when the audience cannot integrate it into their life. Read what Wolfgang Wagner has written about Parsifal, here. Such heady philosophy and extended meditations on sin and redemption, as contained in the work itself, are daunting enough.

The sin of the cultural conservative, is, quoting Wolfgang Wagner (from Monsalvat):

This is Titurel's original sin, his betrayal of the living Grail idea. He misconstrues his function and guards the Grail by hiding it away, walling it in, reserving it for an élitist clique, appropriating it to himself and legitimising his claim to God's grace by using the Grail as an adjunct to magical, mysterious ceremonies. The tormented Amfortas longs to die, but Titurel, as ossified as his own conception of the Grail, wishes to obtain eternal life by means of that symbol of life. He creeps around the temple and withdraws to his government bunker. A cruel, unseen giver of orders, he mercilessly compels Amfortas to fulfil his office because he has no wish to renounce his life-prolonging drug, the Grail's sacred bliss.

Wagner's music certainly is sacred bliss, but to wall it away in a dead idiom is to commit the sin of Titurel over and over. Those who seek to preserve culture as it was at its creation affect Nietzsche's eternal return, however, willing an imperfect past is a noble pathology - but a pathology nonetheless.


At 2:49 AM, Blogger A.C. Douglas said...

Hello, Patrick.

I think you need to read this.

ACD (C.R.E.)

At 7:03 PM, Blogger jfl said...



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