Dr. Philip Kitcher's response to my critique

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Dr. Philip Kitcher's response to my critique

Postby alberich00 » Wed Jul 27, 2016 5:05 pm

Please note: The following remarks express the views of Philip Kitcher; they do not necessarily accord with those of Richard Schacht.

I have some sympathy with Paul Heise’s complaints about the treatment of Siegfried in Finding an Ending (FE). To suppose that Siegfried is a shallow figure, not suited for the rich musical and dramatic world Wagner had created is hardly an ideal interpretation. Yet that judgment is not simply a product of our interpretation of the Ring. It accords with the experiences of thousands of Ring-goers, as well as the directors and dramaturges who wrestle with the problem of how to make Siegfried alive and sympathetic to a contemporary audience. Siegfried simply strikes almost everyone as a brainless cad (to borrow a quaint but lovely term from Wendy Doniger).
Heise strives to solve the problem by offering an allegorical reading. His “solution” quickly descends into obscurity. I am simply baffled by claims that Siegfried is Wotan reborn without knowledge of his identity or that Brünnhilde is his unconscious mind – and I have no clue as to how any rigorous interpreter would find evidence for these assertions. To my mind, Heise reacts to the problem by making things up ad hoc, in much the way Freud’s fiercest critics suppose that he “interpreted” the dreams and remarks of his patients. Better, to my mind, a clear – if suboptimal – response to the problem of Siegfried than the dark pseudo-profundities to which Heise is driven.
In e-mail correspondence, Heise has suggested that all would become clear if I read his book. Perhaps. But I doubt it. In the time I’ve been able to devote to his work on Wagner, the murk only gets denser the more I read. I’m not encouraged to plod on in hopes of enlightenment. Possibly other readers have had better luck.
But the problem of Siegfried is a serious one. It has bothered me since we finished FE, and I’ve tried to work my way to a better dramatic interpretation of the character. Interested readers can find a short account of my solution-in-progress in an essay I wrote for the Opera Book of Opera North’s rightly acclaimed production of the Ring. It’s under the title “Making Sense of Siegfried.” Anyone who would like to read it, and who doesn’t have access to the Opera Book, can obtain a word doc copy, by writing to me at psk16@columbia.edu. (Some people have found the approach promising. Others, like Doniger, still think of Siegfried as a brainless cad.)
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Re: Dr. Philip Kitcher's response to my critique

Postby alberich00 » Sun Jul 31, 2016 11:37 am

Dear members of, and visitors to, the www.wagnerheim.com discussion forum:

Dr. Kitcher asks some valid questions in his opinion piece above, and as I have suggested to him since I first emailed him in, I think, 2011, he can find the answers, explained carefully using the documentary evidence in the words and music of Wagner's "Ring," Wagner's relevant writings and recorded remarks, and the writings of Ludwig Feuerbach which influenced Wagner, in my book published here at www.wagnerheim.com. Dr. Kitcher evidently did not attempt to read my online book in the five years since I first suggested he do so, and, judging from his remarks above, he doesn't sound eager to do this now. However, I note he has emailed me since granting me permission to post his opinion to suggest he may find the time in the future. I hope he will.

In the meantime, in about a week I will post here, in answer to his questions, some of the key evidence from my online book. I can easily answer his two key questions and will do so shortly. I need perhaps a week to complete my final edit of the 19-part critical review of his (and Dr. Richard Schacht's) book "Finding an Ending" (Oxford Univ. Press, 2004).

Thanks for your patience.

Your friend from wagnerheim.com,

Paul alias Alberich00
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Re: Dr. Philip Kitcher's response to my critique

Postby alberich00 » Sun Jul 31, 2016 11:44 am

Dear everybody:

I hasten to add that a number of members of the http://www.wagnerheim.com discussion forum have, in fact, read the entirety of my online book about Wagner's "Ring," "The Wound That Will Never Heal," and have had some very encouraging things to say about it. See, for instance, Wolram's post (you should be able to find it by clicking on page 2 of the discussion forum - it can no longer be found on the most recent page which is the page you see when you enter the forum). It is strange indeed that a number of folks I've never known prior to their joining this discussion forum have read, with understanding, the entirety, or at least large portions, of my online book, and have discussed it with me here online, yet the John Dewey Professor of Philosophy balks at the prospect of reading my book, saying it is so murky as to defy understanding. I'm absolutely sure that Dr. Kitcher will amend his opinion (I'm not saying he will agree with me, but merely that he'll learn he can grasp what it is I'm saying) if he actually reads at least the portion of my book on "Rhinegold."

Your friend from wagnerheim.com,

Paul alias Alberich00
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Re: Dr. Philip Kitcher's response to my critique

Postby alberich00 » Sat Aug 06, 2016 1:34 pm

Dear Dr. Kitcher, Dr. Scruton, and Dr. Schacht:

Thanks partly to Dr. Kitcher's hint that I'd left some errors in the
first version of my 280 page critical review of "Finding an Ending," I
just completed a fresh edit which has corrected mistakes and tightens
some of the arguments, which I have posted online in the discussion
forum at www.wagnerheim.com.

A consequence of this is that I was left with some residue in Part 19
which could not fit in that post (there is an upper limit on how many
characters can fit within any given post), so I had to carry this over
to Part 20, which now appears, sad to say, at the top of Page 1 of the
discussion forum, rather than in its logical position under Part 19,
which now can be found on page 2 of the discussion forum.

Dr. Kitcher, in his brief critique of my interpretation of Wagner's
"Ring," asked how I can justify my proposition (in my allegorical
reading of the "Ring") that Bruennhilde is Siegfried's unconscious mind,
and that Siegfried is Wotan minus consciousness of his true identity.
Though I have suggested to Dr. Kitcher that the best way for him to
answer this question would be to read my entire book on Wagner's "Ring"
which is posted at www.wagnerheim.com (it runs something in excess of
900 pages), it dawned on me that many others might wish for me to
isolate my arguments and evidence which back up these two propositions,
so they can concentrate on these two key questions rather than having to
read my entire book to find the answers, since these propositions are at
the core of my overall understanding of the "Ring."

What I will do is cull from my online "Ring" libretto (embedded with
numbered musical motifs) the essential evidence I found in the "Ring"
for my propositions, which initially inspired me to undertake my
lifetime study of Wagner's "Ring," and then expand my argument to
include corroborative evidence from Wagner's other canonical operas and
music-dramas, from Wagner's writings and recorded remarks, and from
Feuerbach's writings which I can demonstrate influenced Wagner, and post
this evidence, with my commentary, in the discussion forum in several
numbered posts. This will bring together, in one unified argument,
numerous items of documentary evidence which, so far as I know, have
never before been appraised in conjunction.
This may take several weeks to complete.

Appendix II in www.wagnerheim.com is, by the way, a critical
chronological anthology of all of Feuerbach's relevant writings, and all
of Wagner's writings and recorded remarks, which I drew upon for
evidence in my 38 year effort to demonstrate the conceptual and dramatic
unity of Wagner's "Ring," a list of numbered extracts numbering about
1,150. Needless to say I will only copy and paste the much smaller
number of extracts which support my propositions into the discussion
forum. If you haven't already looked at Appendix II, it is an invaluable
tool for Wagner scholarship.

Your friend from wagnerheim.com

Paul
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Re: Dr. Philip Kitcher's response to my critique

Postby alberich00 » Fri Oct 28, 2016 12:13 pm

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Re: Dr. Philip Kitcher's response to my critique

Postby alberich00 » Fri Oct 28, 2016 12:26 pm

The first part, Part A, of my response to Dr. Kitcher's two questions about my interpretation of Wagner's "Ring" (posted here at http://www.wagnerheim.com), (1) is Siegfried Wotan reborn minus consciousness of his true identity?, and (2) is Bruennhilde Siegfried's unconscious mind?, can be found in a 21 part response on page 1 and page 2 of our discussion forum, entitled: "Bruennhilde: Wotan's/Siegfried's unconscious?" This is Part A, and it primarily draws on evidence from the "Ring" libretto and music. Dr. Kitcher has denied that I can show documentary evidence to support my two assertions, in spite of admitting that he hasn't attempted to read my online book on Wagner's "Ring" in sufficient detail to be able to form a considered opinion. Since he suggests he has neither the time or inclination to read my 900-plus page online book (which is the core of http://www.wagnerheim.com), nor the fortitude to try and grasp a set of arguments which he says are murky, I went to the trouble of isolating the documentary evidence which supports my two controversial assertions. I have forwarded my response to Dr. Philip Kitcher, his co-author (of "Finding an Ending") Dr. Richard Schacht, and Dr. (Sir) Roger Scruton.

Part B, which I am now completing and will post here in a few weeks, or perhaps a month (presumably in November, 2016), will draw upon other relevant documentary evidence from Wagner's other canonic operas ("Dutchman," "Tannhaeuser," and "Lohengrin") and music-dramas ("Tristan," "Mastersingers," and "Parsifal"), from his writings and recorded remarks, and from the four books written by Ludwig Feuerbach known to have influenced Wagner in creating his "Ring."
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Re: Dr. Philip Kitcher's response to my critique

Postby alberich00 » Sun Nov 27, 2016 12:03 pm

Dear visitors to, and members of, the wagnerheim.com discussion forum:

In the event, it's taking me a bit longer than expected to complete Part B of my response to Dr. Kitcher's two questions. In all probability I will post this rather extensive answer in the discussion forum some time in December, barring the unforeseen. I have almost completed selecting the extracts from my anthology of Feuerbach's and Wagner's writings, and Wagner's recorded remarks, which I will bring into evidence to answer Dr. Kitcher's two questions, but the commentary I make upon them will take rather longer to complete.

Your friend from wagnerheim.com,

Paul Brian Heise alias alberich00
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Re: Dr. Philip Kitcher's response to my critique

Postby alberich00 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:44 am

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Re: Dr. Philip Kitcher's response to my critique

Postby alberich00 » Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:01 pm

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