Barry Millington's first thoughts on my online "Ring" book

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Barry Millington's first thoughts on my online "Ring" book

Postby alberich00 » Wed Jan 25, 2017 12:41 pm

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

Barry Millington, a name too well known to Wagner scholarship to need an introduction, kindly agreed last year to look over my online book on Wagner's "Ring," "The Wound That Will Never Heal," which of course is the primary content of http://www.wagnerheim.com. A few days ago he informed me that he had read large parts (though not all) of my study, and he offers here his first thoughts:


"I can't imagine a more thorough-going exegesis of the Ring ever being undertaken. As you will appreciate, this is not exactly an endorsement of your work, though I certainly find a lot to agree with and admire. I am of course particularly sympathetic to your Feuerbachian approach: there is no doubt in my mind that elements of Feuerbach's philosophy remained with Wagner long after the initial enthusiasm had dissipated. You take this even further: considerably further than anyone else to my knowledge, and I need more time to digest the implications.

The same could be said of much more of it. I have to confess that I began with a sense of scepticism about an approach that promises to establish a conceptual unity in the Ring – a work composed, after all, over a period of a quarter of a century. Conceptual unities and opera (or even music drama) seem to me mutually exclusive categories and this is a conviction that has only increased as a result of exposure to the best Wagner scholarship of the last 30 or 40 years. The kind of conceptual unity you are positing is by no means as confining as I'd feared, though by the same token, I'm still not ready to abandon the conviction that it is the inconsistencies and loose ends of the Ring that make it the intriguing and uniquely potent work it is. Nor am I sure whether I can easily accept some of your allegorical correlations, impressed as I am by your exhaustive references to Wagner's prose writings (which I agree are not taken seriously enough). With at least one of your conclusions I can but concur: that the Ring is 'so all-embracing that it can easily accommodate several layers of interpretation without contradiction'.

The rooting of your argumentation in the musical structure of the score is also commendable: too many people fail to even mention the music when discussing its content.

I hope you're not too disappointed by my failure either totally to endorse your thesis or even to offer a detailed critique. I'm afraid both are beyond me. But I am nevertheless enormously impressed by your achievement, which demonstrates an entirely appropriate commitment and dedication to such a subject.

with all good wishes

Barry

Barry Millington
Editor
The Wagner Journal"
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Re: Barry Millington's first thoughts on my online "Ring" bo

Postby alberich00 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 7:42 am

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

I am extremely pleased that Barry Millington, Editor of The Wagner Journal, and renowned commentator on all things Wagner, took the time and made the effort to dive deeply into my online book on Wagner's "Ring," "The Wound That Will Never Heal," and to grant me permission to post his first thoughts about it. I find it very encouraging that he describes himself as only in the first stage of critical response, as he notes that he needs more time to digest not only the implications of my unprecedented research into the influence of Ludwig Feuerbach's philosophy upon Wagner, but also more generally that he needs more time to process the general contents of my book. This bodes well for the future.

It also means a great deal to me that he has not a priori rejected my hypothesis that the "Ring" is conceptually and dramatically unified and coherent, since he notes that upon getting down to cases with actual experience of my book my thesis is not as restricting as he had feared it would be. He describes my online book as the most "thorough-going exegesis of the Ring ever being undertaken," which, though true, is not, as he says, an endorsement of its numerous interrelated hypotheses and allegorical interpretation. However, I have no doubt this fact alone will prompt Mr. Millington and numerous other students and scholars devoted to Wagner to explore my book more deeply, and eventually get down to specific cases in critiquing it not only in general but in detail.

Mr. Millington hopes that his not offering me a full endorsement has not disappointed me, but in fact I was actually hoping to be challenged, to have my numerous claims critiqued rigorously, so that we can see how much of my book can withstand close scrutiny. I certainly hope that he will add his voice to those who eventually get down to cases with me. In fact, this was one of my primary motives in posting my book online and setting up this discussion forum, with the backing of Sir Roger Scruton.

I am very, very happy that my online book is now inspiring critical response, not only from published Wagnerians such as Sir Roger Scruton, Dr. Philip Kitcher of Columbia Univ., and Barry Millington, but also more generally from the world-wide array of dedicated Wagnerians.

Your friend from wagnerheim.com,

Paul Brian Heise alias alberich00
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Re: Barry Millington's first thoughts on my online "Ring" bo

Postby alberich00 » Sat Jan 28, 2017 12:02 pm

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