Deathridge Chapter 13 Part One

General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung

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Deathridge Chapter 13 Part One

Postby alberich00 » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:13 pm


Dear Fellow Wagnerians:

I'll conclude my review of John Deathridge's book with commentary on his final five chapters, and then take a break from book reviewing (but not from addressing new topics on this discussion forum) for awhile to attend more fully to completing a briefer version of my "Ring" study, with 6 additional chapters, one apiece, on each of Wagner's other canonical operas and music-dramas from "Dutchman" through "Parsifal," which I hope to publish in hardcopy sometime during the bicentennial year of 2013.


JD P. 159: "Is the work's central theme really the 'redemption of an Aryan Jesus from Judaism,' as Germany's arch-anti-Wagnerite, Hartmut Zelinsky, thinks it is? [PH: I recall hearing Zelinsky speak at the "Wagner and the Consequences" conference at Columbia Univ. back in the mid-90's]. Can "Parsifal" be interpreted as a Christian work at all, militant or otherwise? Or is it just a benign and rather feeble millenarian fantasy - a kind of Armageddon cocktail with large twists of Schopenhauer and Buddhism?
One obvious way to interpret "Parsifal" is to look first at the writings and letters of Wagner and his Bayreuth Circle and to conclude that it is really a sermon on the coming of the 'end,' the work of a rebel Christian who, resigned and troubled about the progress of modern civilization, became a heretical admirer of Jesus Christ, the supposed redeemer of a decaying German race."

PH: The documentary evidence lends some, though not total, support, to all the alternative readings laid out by JD above. Wagner unquestionably wanted, during the most bizarre (and late) period of his life, to somehow salvage Jesus from the Judaism with which he had always been associated, but the meaning behind this obsession holds more than meets the eye. Having applied myself to attempting to penetrate the innermost conceptual and emotional secrets, and most far-reaching implications, of all of Wagner's legacy for the past 40 years, I can say with certainty that "Parsifal" is the most complex and difficult of all of Wagner's artworks, the only competition being "The Rhinegold," and perhaps "Siegfried" Act Three. As absurd as this may sound, my own research suggests that "Parsifal" can be grasped, alongside of Wagner's other canonical artworks, according to a single conceptual frame of reference, though that framework is so involved, complex, subtle, and rich, that it embraces what others would regard as a series of overlapping but distinct readings. Though I have written a book-length study of it, this study must now be re-written and brought up to date, with a considerable infusion of new documentary evidence I've developed over the years. Those who wish to get a brief impression of it can read my study of Ludwig Feuerbach's influence on the libretto of "Parsifal" at, by clicking on "Resources," and then on "Texts on Wagner." A tv station in Wellesley, MA, recorded my lecture on "Parsifal," which was the basis for my online essay, a few years ago, and it currently exists as a dvd which at some point I'll post to this website. I have learned that though "Parsifal," like any great work of art, stands on its own and can in all essentials be grasped purely on its own terms, nonetheless I've brought to my lifelong study of it all that I've learned, and especially all that I've gleaned from Wagner's other canonical operas, his writings and recorded remarks, and from Feuerbach's and Schopenhauer's writings.

PH: I can say that, contrary to the received wisdom, I regard "Parsifal" as Wagner's critique of religion in general, and of Christianity in particular (it does of course contain a huge infusion of Buddhism as well). In a sense, it is almost a Nietzschean quest to posit a post-religion/post-art life, in which man embraces the bitter truth of his existence and no longer seeks to find value in other worlds of the imagination.

JD P. 159-160: JD reproduces a remark by Wagner which also plays an important role in my study: " 'Although we mercilessly relinquish the Church, Christianity, and even the whole phenomenon of Christianity in history,' Wagner wrote to his disciple Hans von Wolzogen, 'our friends must always know that we do it for the sake of that very same Christ ... whom we want to protect in His pristine purity, so that ... we can take Him with us into those terrible times that will probably follow the inevitable destruction of all that now exists.' "

PH: Wagner's remark offers an example of Feuerbachian jettisoning, i.e., the notion that the more man progressed in knowledge of himself and nature, the more he had to cast off old beliefs in order to at least preserve religious feeling and satisfy man's ineradicable longing for transcendent value. But Wagner finally found he might even have to cast away art and music once they became exposed as nothing more than covert religion, religious belief having already succumbed to scientific consciousness. A large part of the "Ring" depicts this struggle. One can see from the remark quoted above that "Parsifal" might logically be construed as a post-"Ring" work, i.e.,, as a post-Apocalypse work, the fifth part of the "Ring," and there is much truth in this.
There is a great deal of criticism of the very value of art, even Wagner's art, in Wagner's writings and recorded remarks from his last years.

JD P. 160: "Wagner believed that "Parsifal" had a message that could be correctly decoded, at least by initiates. Yet even in private he was reluctant to be specific. A less dramatic explanation is that he simply mistrusted interpretations that were too sharply defined. He sensed his followers' need for a clear understanding of content; but he also needed himself to shroud that content in a veil of secrecy; to surround it with a noise, as it were, that made it less acute. ... an interpretation of the work that subjects it to a startling array of precise meanings, whether controversial or not, inevitably misfires, because we are affected by its grandeur and the beauty of its music, not because of any doctrinal threads systematically stitched into its allegorical fabric."

PH: A quick note: Wagner himself once complained when a group of friends responded deeply to an intimate performance of some music from "Parsifal" (I think perhaps at the piano) that they couldn't really respond fully authentically unless they were following every word in the libretto, and the drama, as well. This is a poor paraphrase but it gives you the key idea: right up till the very end of his life Wagner was reconsidering his views on the proper balance between music and drama in his works, even "Parsifal."

PH: I think I know what JD means, but I can't concur with the way he expresses it here entirely (this is not to say that he necessarily subscribes to the viewpoint which he is describing here, since he offers his own alternative below). If we follow Feuerbach's and Wagner's own thesis that the inspired secular art of the modern world is in a sense a distillation of religious feeling when religious thought can no longer be sustained due to doubt, then the grandeur and beauty of the Bible and specifically Jewish scriptures, the Koran, the words of the Buddha, the Hindu scriptures, etc., which Wagner in a sense poetically distills in his critique of religion in "Parsifal," are not doctrinal threads which are systematically stitched into its allegorical fabric, but are its allegorical fabric. "Parsifal" does indeed have a startling array of specific (and also highly ambiguous and multi-valent) meanings, but to put them on paper is not necessarily to "misfire." The great scriptures of the world's religions to this day inspire great passion, and some of that passion is behind the music and theatrical grandeur of "Parsifal," from the inside, not from the outside. "Parsifal" has what one might well describe as a systematic conceptual relationship to all of Wagner's canonical artworks which came before it, and in a sense it can't be fully understood without referencing all of them, since the leading characters of "Parsifal" (with the exception of Gurnemanz) are in a sense reincarnations of corresponding characters in his earlier works, as Wagner himself suggested from time to time.

JD P. 160-161: "I would like to propose, however, that this kind of argument about "Parsifal" is ultimately evasive. The point about the overdetermination of meaning in works of art is of course a commonplace among critics, especially those who still value a dusty connoisseurship that will always promote aesthetics above history. Indeed, those trying to explore the ideological ramifications of a piece such as "Parsifal" inevitably leave themselves open to the accusation of scholarly taxidermy. Nor is this view confined to the adherents of traditional aesthetics. Slavoj Zizek and Mladen Dolar, hardly part of the right-leaning critical establishment, insist:

'It is easy to show how "Parsifal" grew out of ... anti-modernist anti-Semitism -- to enumerate all the painful and tasteless details of Wagner's ideological
engagements in the last years of his life. ... However, to grasp the true greatness of "Parsifal," one should absolutely abstract ideas from these particul-
ar circumstances; only in this way can one discern how and why "Parsifal" still exerts such a power today. ... the context obfuscates Wagner's true

Wonderful. But what if the 'painful and tasteless' ideas Wagner lavished on "Parsifal" can help to explain the power it still exerts? [PH: This point has been pushed by Marc Weiner in particular]. Has the extremely serious charge of anti-Semitism that has been leveled against it really polarized opinion about it to such an extent that the link between its 'true greatness' and Wagner's far-from-straightforward ideas about race can no longer be convincingly demonstrated? (...)
The very idea seems outrageous until one begins to understand the paradoxes of Wagner's racist views and their inseparability from the experience of supposed cultural decay he wanted to share in "Parsifal," and not just in a series of seemingly madcap polemics in his late writings. This is indeed a disturbing aspect of the work, and it has taken several crude public spats about the gulf that is meant to separate it from its creator's so-called late regeneration essays to deflect attention from what I believe is the contradictory logic of a more subtle discourse about race at its heart, including its music."

In the rest of this chapter JD sets out to do just that.

PH: Wagner himself, in discussing the artist in time and space, suggested that what we moderns often respond to aesthetically in much earlier works by great artists such as Dante is what survives in these works that is universal and timeless and not bound by the ideological commitments these artists may have had, which may have influenced the specific form and content of their art. I think it was Michael Tanner who said that we don't need to share Bach's Lutheran convictions in order to be overwhelmed by the aesthetic grandeur of "The Matthew Passion." But as Proust pointed out, the experience which the faithful must have had when confronted with the great Cathedrals of Europe, in the age of faith, must have been incomparable. At any rate, this is an extremely interesting question which deserves alot more attention. Needless to say even the secularist admirer of art must suspend disbelief provisionally when experiencing a play, in order to take the characters on the stage seriously as real persons, so to that extent the secular admirer of Bach's "Matthew Passion" must in some sense share his enthusiasm if not his conceptual conviction during performances, but even to some extent provisionally share that conviction during the time of the performance.

PH: Readers of will find that I've taken considerable note of Wagner's conflation of what he calls Judaism with the science-based secularism which has eroded not only Christian belief but religious faith in general in the modern world. A potential explanation of the somewhat bizarre reasoning behind this conflation of Judaism and scientific reductionism can be found in my study of the "Ring," but is too involved to discuss here. Readers will also note that it is in this sense if any that Wagner's anti-Semitism enters into the "Ring." The main point that I've made in my study is that it is precisely because of this conflation that the "Ring" need not be read as anti-Semitic, precisely because the elements in it which might appear to be inspired by Wagner's anti-Semitism are instead inspired by a general and more universal concern much more central to grasping what is at stake in the "Ring." I'm not even sure whether or not Wagner was conscious of how this conflation of Judaism and scientific reductionism enters into the "Ring"; for a number of reasons I doubt it did. Certainly Wagner in his writings did not pursue the anti-Semitic reading when interpreting his own "Ring" for others, and I think this is highly significant. This fact has been pointed out by quite a number of other scholars previously, including, if memory serves, Dieter Borchmeyer and Bryan Magee, among others.

PH: "Parsifal" is of course another matter, and I am fully cognizant of the numerous points of contact between "Parsifal" and elements of the so-called regeneration writings, though in my interpretation of "Parsifal" something quite different from what one would have expected, given those writings, comes into play. There is, in other words, much more at stake in "Parsifal" than meets the eye, or that one might have gathered from the most obvious documentary evidence. One of my main problems with seeing Kundry as a Jewess whose Jewish blood has allegedly tainted the Aryan Grail knights when she seduced their King Amfortas, is that Kundry is in fact the latest and last incarnation of the Wagnerian muse of unconscious artistic inspiration, and in that sense she and Parsifal, the artist-hero, are one being. This explains a great deal, since Wagner evidently saw "Judaism" as something existing in the heart of all men, something universal. Judaism, as Wagner conceives it, is simply (and one fervently wishes he'd kept his hands clean and didn't make this false connection!) human egoism. Why Wagner insisted on imputing man's universally inherent egoism especially to the Jews is a question that may never be answered, but it seems to have something to do with his counter-quest to conceive of a kind of man purified of egoism, i.e., those ethical souls capable of self-sacrifice for the sake of others, and those artists who were compelled to create inspired art out of necessity rather than from mundane motives of ego and profit. Wagner, needless to say, knew from personal experience many Jews of noble character, and many Germans and other so-called Aryans totally submerged in self-interest.

PH: Wotan attempts, futilely, to purge the Judaism in himself (recalling here Wagner's definition above) by telling Bruennhilde, during his confession, that he finds with loathing only himself in all that he brings to pass, but that he longs for another self. Siegfried is that other self, i.e., Wotan himself minus consciousness of his true, craven identity, artificially purged of all that Wotan claims to have loathed in himself. Mime, on the other hand, represents what Wotan loathes in himself (and to this extent can be construed as a figure for Judaism as Wagner defines it), and therefore Siegfried's contempt for Mime is actually Wotan's self-loathing and guilt. In any case, Wagner ultimately came to see even his inspired music-dramas as covert religious faith and therefore as covert egoism, and ultimately renounced even his own art in "Parsifal," who refuses to seek temporary healing through his loving muse (Kundry) any longer. It is in this sense only, in my view, that Kundry (the archetypal muse of unconsciously inspired Wagnerian art) can be construed as a figure for Judaism. The problem with all attempts to construe Wagner's artworks as containing an inscribed anti-Semitism is that Wagner ultimately saw all of his heroes and heroines and leading characters as Nibelungs, as Semites, in the sense that all human beings are driven by egoism. This is one of the singular explanations behind Wotan's life-long quest to divorce himself from himself, and explains its futility. It explains why all of Wagner's heroes fail to redeem themselves or others except Walther, who represents an unconsciously inspired artist from the golden age before the knowledge of his true identity rose to consciousness, and he could still offer man temporary healing of his unhealing wound through the Wahn (self-deceit) of art, and Parsifal, who renounces art altogether as an insult to his Mother, Nature, and in atonement for having unwittingly perpetuated religion's and art's sin against Mother Nature in all of his prior incarnations as a Fool who did not know who he is. Maybe one reason Wagner wished in his remaining years solely to write symphonic tone poems without drama was in order to wholly escape the bitter truth, by seeking redemption in feeling alone, unencumbered by questions about bitter truth and consoling falsehood.

JD P. 161: "Critics of a putative inhumanity in Wagner's "Parsifal" will always find it hard to account for the fascinating beauty of its score and the inconvenient fact that militancy and aggression could not be further removed from its central idea. Wagner himself called the work his 'most conciliatory,' as it was based on the notion of compassion (Mitleid) borrowed from the philosophy of Schopenhauer and subjected to some characteristically Wagnerian variations. Schopenhauer and Wagner saw compassion as a specific moral response to the violent chaos of the world, a beatific annihilation of the Will ... achieved through a denial of Eros, and, in Wagner's personal version of the doctrine, a deep sympathy with the suffering of others caused by the torment of sexual desire."

PH: JD speaks of the notion of compassion achieved through a denial of Eros as a key component of "Parsifal," and of course he alludes to the classic distinction between Eros, which is essentially a selfish instinct, and Agape, a denial of selfish instinct in favor of true, other-directed, disinterested love.
Venus from "Tannhaeuser" is often, I think rightly, considered a model for Kundry (though Kundry is infinitely more developed as a character), and the contrast of Venus with Elizabeth is often construed as being founded on the Eros/Agape distinction. Not so fast!

PH: Since, in my interpretation of both "Tannhaeuser" and "Parsifal," Venus and Kundry are both construed as metaphors for the artist-hero's muse of inspiration (obvious in Tannhaeuser's case and Walther von Stolzing's cases, less so in Parsifal's case), this must put a rather different spin on the traditional association of Venus and Kundry with the sin of Eros. The true distinction, I think, is that Venus represents Tannhaeuser's unconscious (and therefore potentially disturbing) source of inspiration, while Elizabeth, his other muse, represents his conscious ideal of inspiration. But the key is to be found in the identity of Venus with Elizabeth, an identity finally dramatized in the character of Kundry, who is torn between pious service to the knights of the Holy Grail (i.e., to man's religious illusion of transcendent value), and her role as the muse of unconscious artistic inspiration, who possesses dangerous knowledge that the true source of religious revelation and artistic inspiration is earthly desire. It is precisely this horrible equation which Tannhaeuser exposes to daylight consciousness, oblivious under the spell of inspiration to the consequences of what he is doing (in this like Siegfried when singing his narration of the story of his heroic life for the Gibichungs, or Tristan and Isolde as they carelessly await the dread day in Act II), which causes such an uproar among the denizens of the Wartburg Court that they all effectively disown Tannhaeuser and pronounce him irredeemable. They'll let the Pope decide, but he comes to the same conclusion, because what Tannhaeuser has revealed is the Feuerbachian explanation of religious belief, something which, once conscious, demolishes faith and the very concept of redemption. So Tannhaeuser has, indeed, rendered himself irredeemable in this sense. It is precisely because the Wagnerian artist-hero is privy to the forbidden knowledge of how religious revelation and unconscious artistic inspiration comes about (Loge was the model for this concept), that he is constantly at risk of revealing this forbidden knowledge within the very works of redemptive art whose purpose is to shield man (and shield the artist-hero) from this knowledge.

PH: In Kundry, this forbidden knowledge of the earthly origin of man's illusion of transcendent value is becoming so conscious that the contradiction becomes embodied in her two phases of existence, her alternating reincarnations as the penitent servant of the Grail, and the seductress. The muse of secular art had offered man a temporary salve on the unhealing wound which religious faith could no longer provide, but ultimately even this temporary salve no longer worked, because mankind was becoming too conscious of the truth about himself and his religious beliefs. This is precisely the situation we find in the opening scenes of "Parsifal," and in Kundry's futile offer of a salve to Amfortas to heal the very wound which she, in her phase as a muse of unconscious artistic inspiration (in this like Isolde), had reopened. As Klingsor tells her, she caused the very wound she wishes to heal. This is precisely the message Sachs conveys privately in his confession to Eva during his Cobbling Song in Act II of "Mastersingers." Since Eve, the repository of fatal knowledge of man's status as a mortal being, is responsible for casting man out of the paradise of preconscious animal life (Eve being construed by Feuerbach as a model for the rise to consciousness of science which caused our second Fall, the end of belief in that religious faith which had been our response to the first Fall), Sachs tells her that she must not follow the illicit path of elopement, but remain a part of society by offering Walther the unconscious artistic inspiration (his dream) as his legitimate wife, so that together, they can bring to birth the redemptive Mastersong. Eva caused the wound: she must offer salvation from it. It is no accident, then, that Wagner himself compared Kundry with Eve, or that Elsa, who asked Lohengrin the forbidden question, was modeled on Eve and Pandora, the two mythic ladies who brought about the Fall. But the Fall is the necessary precondition for an inspired art which offers man the feeling that he can be redeemed.

PH: Parsifal's compassion for Amfortas follows from the fact that Parsifal recognizes in Klingsor the ultimate conclusion of an art, formerly redemptive, which can no longer provide man the feeling that his wound of consciousness can be healed, or is healing. Modern man has become too conscious for that. As Wagner put it, love has become impossible in the modern world (of course, the whole purpose of his art was to somehow artificially restore what had been lost). So Parsifal's compassion for Amfortas arises from the fact that in Parsifal's prior lives as Siegfried and Tristan he had unwittingly exposed to his audience (Gunther, Marke) the forbidden knowledge which it was the purpose of art to repress and replace with a consoling illusion. Klingsor, having become so self-conscious that he can no longer have loving union with his muse of inspiration Kundry (just as Tristan and Siegfried can no longer have loving union with their muses Bruennhilde and Isolde), effectively throws his muse Kundry at his potential audience Amfortas, knowing that she'll merely make Amfortas's wound more and more unbearable. This is what Parsifal sees in a flash of insight when Kundry, the artistic surrogate for Mother Nature, offers herself to Parsifal as a substitute for his mother, so that he can, once again, for the thousandth time, obtain merely temporary healing of the unhealing wound, bound forever to a sort of cycle of rebirth. In "Parsifal," by the way, Kundry's alternating rebirths as the penitent and seductress represent the artist's own two phases of unconscious artistic inspiration (the womb of night) followed by artistic production in the Day world of society, in which the artist offers his art to the public as a salve on its wounds. In this sense the great artist is a sort of self-sacrificing Bodhisattva who relinquishes his place in paradise to help other less enlightened folks (his audience) share in it. So Wagner conflates the Buddhist anguish of endless rebirth with the artist's inability to escape the anguish of artistic creation in a world which no longer has room for transcendent value, in which heroism and self-sacrifice are explained away by science, in which scientific means are employed to prove beyond doubt that human beings are merely physical beings who have no true autonomy, no transcendent soul, and are wholly subject to natural laws.

A little aside: I recall reading with horror some years ago Jose Delgado's account of experiments with electrodes in the brain, in which it was implicit that, given enough time and resources, scientists could make people fall in or out of love with each other, make them hate and murder their best friends and loved ones, etc. Now, there are quite a number of well-meaning souls who would say in response: well then, all we need do is outlaw this kind of experimentation! But no philosopher would say that: a true philosopher would say that, if this indeed is true, that human beings can be transformed at will from kind to sadistic, through mere chemical or electronic means (or even mere torture), then it is totally pointless to posit man's transcendent value and to create value-systems based on that illusion, or even to posit God, since anything that physical man (physical man's physical brain) could posit, would merely express man's physical nature, no matter how subtly sublimated or veiled behind a facade of beauty and goodness. I recall also a shocking experience from my coddled early childhood: I was watching some grade B black-and-white film about Marco Polo's adventures (starring Horst Buckholz in the title role) in the Orient. There is a scene in which the so-called Old Man of the Mountains in what is now Syria or Iraq (the Old Man of the Mountains being associated historically, I think, with the Assassins, i.e., the Hashishins, the legend being that he and his cohorts would abduct children and take them off to some paradisal castle in the mountains [shades of Klingsor's Magic Castle and Garden with the deluded knights of the Grail] which had been designed to resemble the Islamic notion of paradise, with lots of irresistible black Houris running around seductively, dope them up with Hashish, and lead them to believe that the only way they could secure their place in this paradise was to serve their master as assassins) captures Marco Polo and an emissary of the Pope who, if memory serves, is a member of the Knights Templar. The Old Man of the Mountains wears a sort of golden mask which is very unnerving. The Knights Templar emissary tells Marco Polo privately that this Old Man of the Mountains is very brilliant and highly educated, a lover of the arts, etc., but is also horribly evil. At some point the Old Man of the Mountains tells Marco Polo he is going to teach Marco a lesson, and he has his deluded/bedrugged henchmen force the Knights Templar fellow to his knees, whereupon a huge crystal bell descends upon him from the ceiling. He has been praying to the Lord his God, expecting to be martyred, and hoping for supernatural strength to endure. Several henchmen ring the bell with huge hammers, and the Knight Templar falls to the ground screaming. The Old Man of the Mountains produces a cross and holds it out his prostrate victim expecting him to renounce his faith and spit on it. But the victim kisses the cross instead. So, not taken aback at all, and in full confidence of the expected result, the Old Man of the Mountains calls for the bell to be lowered on the victim and rung again, and this time the Knight Templar spits all over the cross and collapses in unutterable shame. At this point Marco Polo steps up to his friend's defense and tells the Old Man of the Mountains that he may have won for now, but the divine love for which the Knight Templar stands will live on. So the Old Man of the Mountains mocks Marco, saying: "Let's let you hear that bell and see what becomes of your love!" Later, as the Knight Templar is literally dying of a broken heart (like Peter) for having denounced his Lord, Marco tries to console him by saying: "You were more than a man." How this drastically shocking scene got written into a story about Marco Polo I'll never know, but I've never forgotten it.

PH: I recorded that scene from a movie in detail simply by way of illustrating Feuerbach's remark that physical duress, as from thirst, hunger, and pain, ultimately destroys even the moral sense, since all things, even so-called spiritual things, are founded on material things. What shocked me was not that a person would be capable of subjecting another person to such torments (which is bad enough). No, what shocked me the most was the thought: Are all human ideals and beliefs in a transcendent realm of being merely illusions? Will any human being, subjected to a sufficient amount and degree of suffering, betray everything they've ever stood for and believed in, every relationship no matter how sublime? And if some humans are stronger than others in this respect, what difference does this make when all that would be required to break the stronger ones would be to up the ante a bit until critical mass was achieved. And, in any case, what could personal differences of that type have to do with a spiritual soul in any case? These were the sort of reflections I experienced at age 6 or 7, and then found repeated in the most remarkable and poetic way in Wagner's mature music-dramas when I first became acquainted with them starting at age 18.

PH: Getting back to "Parsifal," Parsifal sees, in a flash of insight, that he has in his former lives as heroes of religion and art, been leading man (Amfortas) on the path that would culminate in what Klingsor - who strove for holiness at all costs, but could never attain it (because it's unattainable per se) - has done to Amfortas, exposed mankind's historical, futile quest for redemption from the real world as an even more unbearable wound than merely accepting the world as what it is, and accepting man's natural limits. He sees this because his muse Kundry offers him, once again, for the thousandth time, temporary healing through loving inspiration of his art, and Parsifal sees that, rather than healing Amfortas's wound, this futile quest to heal it has actually made it worse. Parsifal sees that Mother Nature, who man had to figuratively murder in order to posit the transcendent realm of illusion represented by the Grail and its rituals, must be restored, and man's artificial surrogate for Nature, art (the heir to dying religious faith), must be renounced. So Kundry passes away, her former function as muse now defunct. And the Grail, now uncovered forever, must in some sense have reverted to its status as the Nibelung Hoard and Alberich's Ring, now that mankind is affirming Mother Nature for the first time since religious man, Wotan, renounced and sinned against all that was, is, and will be, the real world. This is my personal take on Parsifal's very special kind of compassion for Amfortas, but "Parsifal" is much, much more involved than that, and I will need to complete my prospective book on "Parsifal" in order to exhaustively show all that I believe is at stake.

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