Part 13: Review: Berthold Hoeckner on "Lohengrin" 8/94

General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung

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Part 13: Review: Berthold Hoeckner on "Lohengrin" 8/94

Postby alberich00 » Mon Apr 22, 2013 1:15 pm

[PH] What follows is my far more detailed explanation, in my 8/93 paper, of how Elsa’s breach of Lohengrin’s demand for unquestioning faith brought about the end of traditional opera, and gave birth to the music-drama. It should be clear to readers that throughout these remaining paragraphs I was constantly hinting that Lohengrin, like Wotan, needs a successor like Siegfried (represented in the opera “Lohengrin” by the almost entirely undeveloped character Godfrey, Elsa’s long-lost brother, whom Lohengrin names his heir):


[PHoo]
[PH: SINCE LOHENGRIN MUST LEAVE ONCE HIS IDENTITY IS KNOWN, HE NEEDS TO FIND A SUBSTITUTE IN A HERO WHO, UNLIKE LOHENGRIN, WILL BE FREED FROM LOHENGRIN’S FEAR OF TRUTH, OF KNOWLEDGE]

[P. 31] “Well, if Lohengrin is ‘too conscious’, what does he need? Who alone can replace him? Lohengrin needs a hero who, unlike him, will not know who he is. Only in this way can Lohengrin manage not to ‘find himself’, his now discredited self, in his hero. He needs a hero who can do what he, being too conscious, can’t do: break his own law without suffering from consciousness of guilt and hypocrisy. If sin for Lohengrin means being conscious of the truth, isn’t the hero, who commits sin unconsciously, innocent? He therefore needs a hero sufficiently unconscious of committing this sin that he won’t feel fear of exposure, won’t run from, or turn his back to, the truth. [P. 32] Further, he needs a hero who can redeem the Grail realm through love, without being aware he serves the Grail. His hero must be, in effect, free from divine protection. For if the hero isn’t conscious that he serves the Grail, he also won’t be conscious of the need for a taboo on love, and can freely break it. In sum, Lohengrin manifestly needs a hero who, unlike Lohengrin, unlike consciously affirmed ‘religious’ belief, can stand tall even in the face of truth.”


[PHqq]
[PH: LOHENGRIN/WOTAN, REPRESENTATIVE OF DYING RELIGIOUS FAITH, IS FIGURATIVELY REBORN IN GODFREY/SIEGFRIED, THE ARTIST-HERO WHOSE ART IS SECULAR MAN’S SUBSTITUTE FOR LOST RELIGIOUS FAITH]

[P. 32] “Who is this hero [PH: whom Lohengrin needs]? He is the mortal who alone can offer us a substitute for the loss of heaven’s (religion’s) consolation, a consolation which left with Lohengrin’s passing. He is Godfrey, in whom Lohengrin is reborn: or to be more accurate, Siegfried!:

[P. 33] 'LOHENGRIN: O Elsa! For one year only I longed to be beside you as witness of your happiness! Then, blessed by the Grail’s protection, your brother, whom you believed dead, would have returned. When he comes home and I am far from this life, this horn, this sword, and this ring you shall give to him! This horn will help him when he is in danger, in wild battle this sword gives victory; but by the ring he will remember me, who once freed you from shame and distress (NOTH)! Farewell (LEB WOHL)! Farewell! Farewell!'

(…) This ring … will be Godfrey’s unconscious remembrance of his own true identity as Lohengrin. For Lohengrin, protected now from conscious remembrance of who he is by Elsa’s offer to hold this knowledge for him, will be his own hero. The ring Lohengrin tells Elsa to give to Godfrey in remembrance of how Lohengrin saved Elsa from shame and NOTH, will soon develop into the Nibelung’s (Alberich’s) ring.”

[PH] In the following passage of my 8/93 paper I divulged the secret of Wagner’s transition from traditional opera composer to author and composer of the revolutionary music-drama. It is to be found in the contrast between Wotan, who agrees to share with his daughter Bruennhilde the unspoken secret of his divine “Noth,” or anguish, and Lohengrin, who refuses to share the secret of his divine “Noth” with Elsa:


[PHrr]
[PH: WOTAN, UNLIKE LOHENGRIN, CONFESSES THE SECRET OF HIS DIVINE “NOTH” TO BRUENNHILDE]

[P. 33] “Lohengrin might rather have said, to be truthful, that Elsa should give Godfrey this ring in remembrance of Elsa’s offer to save Lohengrin from shame and NOTH, and how Lohengrin rejected her offer. For Wotan, like Lohengrin, will leave his hero Siegfried heir to the ring after passing away. But Wotan, unlike Lohengrin, will accept the offer Bruennhilde makes, prior to his great confession, to hold knowledge of his secret NOTH for him so his conscious mind need not suffer from it.”


[PHss]
[PH: ELSA, THE REVOLUTIONARY, BRINGS AN END TO RELIGIOUS FAITH, SO THAT SHE, AS THE MUSE OF UNCONSCIOUS ARTISTIC INSPIRATION FOR THE ARTIST-HERO, MAY GIVE BIRTH TO THE HEIR TO LOST RELIGIOUS FAITH, THE REVOLUTIONARY MUSIC-DRAMA]

[P. 34] “Elsa, as Eve in paradise, had called upon her knight to help her compensate us and thus atone for giving us fatal knowledge, by inspiring in her knight a deed. This deed is the redemption of the world from knowledge, through love (feeling). Thus will Bruennhilde inspire Siegfried. For Elsa had shown Wagner that Wotan, ‘religion’, must vanish, in order to make way for – let’s acknowledge it – the artist, Siegfried:

' … this woman … , who goes from worship to love precisely by the outbreak of her jealousy, and reveals this nature to a hitherto uncomprehending man by her downfall; this glorious woman from whom Lohengrin must vanish because of his inability to understand her from his own specific nature – I had now discovered her: and that random arrow I had shot at the target I had sensed but not known was there was in fact my Lohengrin, whom I had to give up as lost if I were to find the certain path to the truly feminine that would one day bring redemption to me and everybody else, after the masculine egotism, even in its most exalted form, had broken in self-immolation in the face of it. Elsa, the woman, … made me a revolutionary in one stroke. She was the spirit of the Folk to which I, too, as man and artist turned for my redemption.' (6-8/51 ‘Eine Mitteilung an meine Freunde’; Gesammelte Schriften und Dichtungen; p. 301-302)”

[PH] And here, at last, in my 8/93 paper I noted that Wagner himself had described his “Ring” as, in effect, offering redemption to Lohengrin, so that Wagner could transition from a composer of traditional opera (“Lohengrin” being the last) to revolutionary music drama (the “Ring” being the first of four, the others being “Tristan and Isolde,” “The Mastersingers of Nuremberg,” and “Parsifal”):


[PHtt]
[PH: WAGNER: IN MY ‘RING,’ THE ARTWORK OF THE FUTURE, LOHENGRIN’S THWARTED LOVE WILL BE REDEEMED]

[P. 34] “And thus it was that Wagner concluded:

'I remain convinced that my Lohengrin … symbolizes the most profoundly tragic situation of the present day, namely man’s desire to descend from the most intellectual heights to the depths of love, the longing to be understood instinctively, a longing which modern reality cannot yet satisfy. ….. This is where my art must come to the rescue: and the work of art that I had no choice but to conceive in this sense is none other than my Nibelung poem.' (1/26/54 Letter to August Roeckel; ‘Selected Letters of Richard Wagner; p. 306)

[P. 35] In Part 2 (SIEGFRIED), we’ll see in our analysis of the RING how Wotan accepts the offer from Bruennhilde which Lohengrin refused when it was made by Elsa, and what consequences follow.”

THIS ENDS MY COMPARISON OF BERTHOLD’S HOECKNER’S 8/95 CHAPTER ON “LOHENGRIN” WITH MY 8/93 PAPER ENTITLED “HOW ELSA SHOWED WAGNER THE WAY TO SIEGFRIED”
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