Friday, August 18, 2006

So it goes

Terry continues his thinking about Dorst's Ring and - sort of by extension - staging a work like the Tetralogy. He says:

Namely, the Ring rises above mere historical referencing. By placing it in a reference, you [lose] something in the work. The problem is, however, that because of the universal nature of the Ring drama to humanity, we can place it in any context we wish, and still derive some meaning out of it, even if that meaning isn't Wagner's.

I suppose, more and more, my point is that you simply can't take Wagner out of Wagner's greatest work (and one of the supreme artistic achievements of humanity). Because the characters are so archetypal, and because no Konzept director would dare stage it without Wagner's texts lest he get a crash course in the life of Poet-Diplomat Griboyedov, it is going to have meaning in any situation. However, Wagner's meaning is best, most universal, and most dramatic. To remove Wagner's own Konzept from the work is equivalent to emasculating it and rendering it - potentially - a dramatic atrocity. Only Wagner had the genius necessary to make the Ring work.

Terry then notes:

I suppose, in this culture of ours, this is necessary. Many people, pure and simple, are incapable of purely transcendent reasoning. They need a framework to think about the Ring, which is why I support some (but not all) interpretations. In the long run, one can only hope that the subject will attempt to investigate the work. In the short run, staging that places the Ring in a framework mislead the audience into believing they understand the work, when in fact they only understand the limited conceptions of the director. But, unfortunately, it's taboo to let the audience realize how much they don't understand. I suppose a kinder and gentler world is kinder and gentler when it comes to one's inability to understand.


I would say that, at the risk of being obstreperous, this is plain wrong. Everyone can understand archetypes. Everyone - except, apparently, Friedrich Nietzsche - can understand drama. Wagner intended, if he stuck to his guns from Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft, for this to be art for the Volk. I am not entirely interested in getting into the common need and all that, but I think that Wagner's concept of drama was populist (in the best sense of the word).

Shoddy education, increasing egocentrism, and the utter lack of attention-span of most people today all make it difficult for most folks to appreciate Wagner's work. Let's not, then, muddy the waters with silly, dramatically-confused, and - often as not - dangerous productions. If people don't get the Ring as Wagner wrote it, then how are they going to understand (for example) Patrice Chéreau's production or, Chéreau's ultimate source, George Bernard Shaw's critique? They're not, and they likely aren't going to appreciate Socialist speechifying on the stage, either.

If my overall argument has to be reduced to one or two sentences, for its own sake as much as mine, let it be thus:

Wagner's drama is so perfect that it is a crime against art, as well as an inexcusable obfuscation, to take Wagner's Konzept from his work. Let Wagner decide what he meant; he certainly left enough prose on the subject.

2 Comments:

At 7:59 PM, Blogger Terry said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 8:00 PM, Blogger Terry said...

I think we're saying essentially the same thing, up until I say, "let them eat cake (or, let them stage Rings)," while you disagree with that idea.

I think I was saying that only Wagner's concept is "perfect and true" (to use very dangerous words) compared to other stagings. Its just that, you can derive other meanings from the text as well.

"Shoddy education, increasing egocentrism, and the utter lack of attention-span of most people today all make it difficult for most folks to appreciate Wagner's work."

Everyone can understand archetypes and drama. This is true. But this statement seems to suggest that mine, namely: "I suppose, in this culture of ours, this is necessary. Many people, pure and simple, are incapable of purely transcendent reasoning" carries truth in it as well.

Of course, this gets into my support for trying to appeal to the plebs, er, Volk. But taken too far, and you have American Ring's and the like, which I don't support.

 

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