My email appeal to Barry Millington

General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung

Moderators: Justin Jeffrey, alberich00

My email appeal to Barry Millington

Postby alberich00 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:57 am

MY EMAIL RESPONSE TO BARRY’S EMAIL HE FORWARDED TO ME THIS WEEK, GRANTING ME PERMISSION TO QUOTE HIS FIRST THOUGHTS ON MY ONLINE "RING" BOOK, IN PROPOSALS I INTEND TO SEND TO PUBLISHERS, AND IN MY THIRD REVISION OF MY ONLINE "'RING" BOOK, IF IT'S PUBLISHED. I ASK BARRY TO CONSIDER PUBLISHING A VERSION OF HIS BRIEF REVIEW OF MY BOOK IN THE WAGNER JOURNAL:

Dear Barry:

Thank you so much. I’m grateful for your permission, and I think your remarks, as they stand, may help persuade publishers to take my revision of my online “Ring” book seriously. Sir Roger Scruton’s having elevated my online book by referencing it in detail in his own recent “The Ring of Truth,” and by writing admiring reviews of my online book in his 2011 intro to www.wagnerheim.com, and in his 2011 article in The American Spectator “The Ring of Truth” (in which he stated that much remained unclear to him about Wagner’s “Ring” until he read my allegorical study) will also be helpful in gaining their serious attention.

Since it’s unlikely we’ll be corresponding again for a long time, I hope you’ll indulge me one last time by reading my following proposal and giving it consideration. I don’t know if you had contemplated this (perhaps you’re prudently waiting until my book is published in hardcopy, to warrant a full review), but you might want to consider putting a paragraph’s worth of your current remarks about my online “Ring” book in the reviews section of an upcoming volume of The Wagner Journal, in view of your having informed me that it goes further than any other study in examining Feuerbach’s influence on Wagner’s “Ring,” that it’s the most exhaustive study of the “Ring” you can imagine, that it does a reasonable job in sustaining its controversial claim to have disclosed a coherent conceptual and dramatic narrative in the “Ring,” and that it has the advantage over many other attempts at Wagner scholarship in mining the documentary evidence to an unprecedented degree.

I might add: can you imagine a more original and provocative study which simultaneously draws its inspiration from the documentary evidence to this degree? You regularly review new productions of Wagner’s operas and music-dramas in the opera house on this basis, so I hope you’ll consider placing a brief version of the private review you offered to let me post in the wagnerheim.com discussion forum in The Wagner Journal. Undoubtedly this would provoke stimulating controversy, discussion, and interest. My book contains dozens of new insights into not only the “Ring” but Wagner’s other operas and music-dramas, and discloses conceptual relationships among them heretofore overlooked. It would be ashamed not to memorialize the time and effort you spent on my tome in this way. 

Furthermore, I’m sure you’re aware by now that my interpretation has rescued Siegfried from his longtime scholarly demotion in many ways. Though I anticipate a struggle to get my tome published by a titan of the publishing industry, I’ve no doubt I can sell my “Ring” book to at least one of them on the argument that since Deryck Cooke’s effort in the 70’s, half a century ago, was the last fully comprehensive attempt to grasp Wagner’s “Ring” as a whole, but was cut off after only one third was completed due to his premature death, my effort is its natural successor. My book is also the natural successor to Jean-Jacques Nattiez’s “Wagner Androgyne,” since we both independently constructed allegorical interpretations in which Siegfried can be construed as the music-dramatist and Bruennhilde as his music (or, in my interpretation, his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration), but I’ve carried this argument much further. 

I admire my sponsor Sir Roger Scruton’s achievement in his recently published “The Ring of Truth” in a number of ways, but unlike me, he didn’t attempt a fully comprehensive study of the “Ring” as a whole (a much more difficult task than a merely selective, thematic approach like his), but instead chose a theme and cherry-picked examples from the libretto and musical motifs in order to illustrate it, while leaving untouched perhaps 90 percent of the music and libretto. The “Ring” means something quite different when looked at comprehensively, as a whole. But Scruton couldn’t make head or tail of Siegfried, and neither could Kitcher and Schacht in their “Finding an Ending” from 2004. All three authors, the most recent to attempt book-length “Ring” studies, proposed the received (safe) wisdom that Wagner himself lost interest in the original inspiration for his “Ring,” Siegfried, and focused instead on Wotan and Bruennhilde. They also insist on trying to grasp Siegfried as a conventional romantic hero, or as a social revolutionary, and for this reason fail to grasp him utterly, growing ever more confused in their attempts to make sense of him along conventional lines, when only an allegorical approach can get at what Wagner was about. Siegfried seems unnatural for a good reason. 

If Wagner had demoted Siegfried half way through composing the music for the “Ring” on the basis that he’d allegedly lost interest in his original Feuerbachian hero of social revolution (more or less as Scruton puts it), then Wagner wouldn’t have resurrected the hero of “Siegfried’s Death” (“Twilight of the Gods”) in Tristan. Wagner clearly stated in "Epilogue to ‘The Nibelung’s Ring’ “ that the plots of “Twilight of the Gods” and “Tristan and Isolde” are identical. In both, the hero, as if under some spell, gives his own true love away to another man, and this brings his doom. Scruton bases his argument on the notion that Wagner had grown pessimistic about Feuerbachian social revolution and had turned inward. This is true, but Scruton made the mistake of assuming Siegfried is Wagner’s idea of a social revolutionary. The truth is that Siegmund was Wagner’s social revolutionary and it was Wotan who gave up on him in favor of turning inward by making his confession to his daughter Bruennhilde, Wotan’s will, who would keep Wotan's secret, which will remain “forever unspoken.” Wagner’s turn inward was a turn towards his own art, and in my allegorical reading Siegfried is Wotan’s artist-hero, who falls heir to dying religious faith (the gods) as feeling, or music, when faith as thought (religious belief) can no longer be sustained. Bruennhilde captures this concept when she tells Siegfried that what Wotan thought, Bruennhilde felt. Note that Isolde keeps the secret of Tristan’s identity in silence, just as Elsa promised Lohengrin she would do if he shared the secret of his identity with her. Siegfried tells Fafner “I still don’t know who I am,” but Bruennhilde tells Siegfried that what he doesn’t know, she knows for him (his true identity). 

Wagner recreated Siegfried the artist-hero again in Walther von Stolzing. Hans Sachs, like Wotan, makes a secret confession to Eva, his surrogate daughter (and theoretical lover), in Act II, a confession Eva says she understands but to which Walther remains oblivious, feeling only Eva’s loving, dreamlike presence. Similarly, Bruennhilde tries to tell Siegfried of Wotan’s confession to her, but he responds that he can only feel her loving presence, not grasp the distant things of which she speaks. Sachs’s confession to Eva, like Wotan’s confession to Bruennhilde, becomes the secret source of Walther’s unconscious artistic inspiration, which gives birth to the redemptive mastersong. And as you know from reading my online book, its god-the-father Wotan’s confession (god’s word) to the womb of his wishes Bruennhilde which metaphysically gives birth to the redeemer Siegfried. Wotan’s confession to Bruennhilde is the secret source of Siegfried’s unconscious artistic inspiration (which produces his final artwork, his narrative of how he learned the meaning of birdsong in T.3.2). 

And last, take Parsifal, like Siegfried a pure fool who doesn’t know who he is. But Kundry, Siegfried’s potential (never actual) lover, knows for Parsifal what he doesn’t know, his true identity. Wagner equated Kundry with Eve (Eva), and Wagner also told Cosima that Kundry had relived Isolde’s transfiguration innumerable times in prior lives. My interpretation can make sense of these conceptual links between Wagner’s operas and music-dramas like no other, because I’ve tapped Wagner’s primary allegorical/conceptual framework, which he embodied in his “Ring.”  

The point I’m trying to make is that Wagner recapitulated his Siegfried in the three heroes of his subsequent music-dramas. If Sir Roger and Kitcher and Schacht were correct, Wagner wouldn’t have remained fascinated by his naive and ignorant hero Siegfried and resurrected him repeatedly. My “Ring” interpretation can justify Siegfried and justify Wagner’s restoration of him in his subsequent music-dramas. That fact alone ought to be worth a paragraph taken from your initial response to my book in The Wagner Journal. Do you agree?

Whether you do or not, I owe you a debt of gratitude for having taken a serious look at my online book, and thank you.

Your friend from wagnerheim.com

Paul 
alberich00
Site Admin
 
Posts: 396
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2011 11:03 am

Return to General Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron