My email on Lohengrin's forbidden question

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My email on Lohengrin's forbidden question

Postby alberich00 » Thu Jun 11, 2015 10:49 am

Dear visitors and members of the discussion forum:

Yesterday I emailed the following essay on Lohengrin's forbidden question to Jim Holman, Chairman of the Wagner Society of Washington, DC, Dr. Simon Williams, Director of the Drama Department at the Univ. of California at Santa Barbara, and Dr. Jeffrey Swann, concert pianist and lecturer, graduate of the Julliard School of Music, and former student of the American Composer, Roger Sessions. I emailed it in response to Jim Holman's question: what is behind Lohengrin's forbidding Elsa to ask him to tell her his name and origin? The rest of my email is self-explanatory. I thought you, my fellow Wagnerians, would find this interesting.

"Dear Jim, Dr. Williams, and Dr. Swann:

I recently discovered that the lectures from four of your ten annual
"Wagner in der Wildnes" seminars have been posted at,
and I have immensely enjoyed listening to the audiotapes of your
sessions on "Lohengrin," "The Rhinegold," "The Valkyrie," and "The
Flying Hollander." I have taken extensive notes on each, and I learned a
great deal. I thank all three of you for making this extraordinary
educational opportunity available to those who, like myself, could not
attend these events. I hope we won't have to wait too long for the
remaining six programs to be posted online.

Jim made it possible for me to present my talk entitled "The 'Ring' as a
Whole" to the WSWDC in April of 2000 (a transcript of that lecture can
be found in the 2011 portion of the archive of my discussion forum at my
website I have worked since 1971 on demonstrating
that Wagner's canonic operas and music-dramas (from "Dutchman" through
"Parsifal"), in particular Wagner's "Ring," can be construed within a
coherent conceptual framework (which does not, however, preclude
alternative interpretations). I have concentrated particularly on
Wagner's transition from creator of romantic operas (which culminate in
"Lohengrin") to revolutionary music-dramas, thanks to discoveries I made
in the 80's re heretofore unremarked conceptual links between
"Lohengrin" and the "Ring." My key breakthrough came from the following
curious contrast: while Lohengrin refuses to allow Elsa to share with
him knowledge of his name and identity (which Elsa fears, if exposed to
the world, would endanger Lohengrin), Wotan acquiesces when Bruennhilde
begs him to confide in her the cause of his "Goetternot," the secret
Wotan dare not speak aloud, in words. An extraordinarily fruitful clue
to help us grasp this contrast between "Lohengrin" and the "Ring" can be
found in Wagner's statement, in "A Communication to My Friends," that
Elsa taught him to unearth his Siegfried. While one might dismiss this
as simply Wagner's self-evident acknowledgment that working out the
music for "Lohengrin" gave him the tools to undertake the "Ring," this
actually provides us a stunning entre into the allegorical logic which
links the librettos of "Lohengrin" and the "Ring," and ultimately a sort
of Rosetta Stone to grasp the coherent conceptual unity of Wagner's
canonic operas and music-dramas.

In 2007, at your conference on "Lohengrin," Jim threw down the gauntlet
by stating that he has never grasped what is behind Lohengrin's
insistence that Elsa never ask him to tell her his name or origin, and
he expressed the hope that those present could help him solve this
problem. I listened closely to the suggestions Dr. Williams and Dr.
Swann proffered to address this question, and didn't find answers, but
did find some fruitful suggestions. Stewart Spencer, former Editor of
WAGNER, the scholarly journal of THE WAGNER SOCIETY (LONDON), published
in the May, 1995 issue my essay entitled 'How Elsa Showed Wagner the Way
to Siegfried," in which I presented what I believe is a plausible and
well-vetted answer to this question, which has the advantage of offering
us an entree into what is mostly heretofore unexplored territory in
grasping the allegorical logic of Wagner's canonic operas and
music-dramas, and solutions to many classic conundrums. This journal is
no longer in print, but I have posted a transcript of this paper in
three parts in the 2011 portion of the archive of my discussion forum at Since both Dr. Williams and Dr. Swann have had some
interesting things to say about Ludwig Feuerbach's influence on Wagner,
you will perhaps be interested also to consult my more involved
treatment of this subject, which includes extensive evidence from
Feuerbach's writings, by going to and clicking
first on "Resources," and then on "Texts on Wagner," where you will find
a more expansive version of my 1995 paper. For many years now I have
been making power-point presentations on this topic.

You can of course read my more detailed attempts to resolve the problem
of Lohengrin's forbidden question in the papers mentioned above, but I
offer my primary arguments below in brief, in response to points made by
Dr. Williams and Dr. Swann. In the following remarks I will be
paraphrasing Dr. Williams's and Dr. Swann's lectures on "Lohengrin," and
I apologize in advance for any errors I have made since I was working
from a sometimes near-inaudible tape, and not from a typed transcript.
Feel free to correct any misunderstandings. I will indicate my own
interjections with the abbreviation PH.

Dr. Swann suggested that this forbidden question is not about the real
world, but it may have something to do with the mystery of the Grail. I
presume he is suggesting that Lohengrin forbids Elsa (or anyone else) to
ask him his name or origin because, as Grail Knight, he comes from a
realm too numinous to be grasped conceptually. However, he said that in
any case it is irrelevant to the story. Dr. Williams asked whether or
not it might be just Lohengrin's test of Elsa's love. He recalled that
Wieland Wagner had considered Lohengrin to be a metaphor for the great
artist, and suggested that Lohengrin's test of love might have something
to do with the fact that as an artist Wagner himself couldn't know love
or true human relations [PH: I believe Dr. Williams also recalled how
Wagner himself, in "A Communication to my Friends," spoke of Lohengrin
as the absolute artist; I note that Wagner himself on several occasions
suggested that the ultimate inspiration for his art was that he could
not know love and had to compensate]. Dr. Williams added what I take to
be his own thesis, that Lohengrin is a creative artist who creates out
of the depths of his unconscious, and that the artist's creation can't
be questioned because it is instinctive; thus Lohengrin forbids
knowledge of his name and identity. Thus Dr. Swann seems to suggest that
Lohengrin's prohibited question stems from his having too holy an
identity and origin to be grasped by the mind, and Dr. Williams locates
this numinous inaccessibility in the unconscious sources of Lohengrin's
artistic inspiration. My solution to the problem of Lohengrin's
forbidden question also references the concept of the unconscious, but
from the following viewpoint: Wagner in "A Communication to My Friends"
of 1851 noted that Elsa is Lohengrin's own unconscious mind, the
involuntary in him, and that Lohengrin's conscious mind seeks redemption
in her. I'll tie this into my explanation after dealing with Feuerbach.

Dr. Williams noted that Wagner read Feuerbach while composing the music
for "Lohengrin." I go further, noting that while there is powerful
evidence of a Feuerbachian influence on Wagner's libretto for
"Lohengrin," there is equally powerful evidence for such an influence on
"Tannhaeuser," particularly in Tannhaeuser's complaints to Venus in Act
1. Even if Wagner had not read Feuerbach by the time he wrote the
libretto for "Tannhaeuser," he may have discussed him during his time in
Paris. Dr. Williams also reminded us that Feuerbach regarded religion as
a phase mankind must go through yet overcome, a phase in which man
projects his own sufferings and ideals on to a figment of his own
imagination, God. Dr. Williams suggested that for Feuerbach love and
compassion should replace worship of God as humans lose their need for
religious faith in illusory beings. But Dr. Williams said something else
which, alongside of a remark by Dr. Swann, provides me an opportunity to
introduce my own answer to this question re Lohengrin's prohibition. Dr.
Williams said that Lohengrin seems to lack something necessary to human
life, while Dr. Swann said that the typical Wagnerian predicament, that
a character desires something that he can't have, seems to hold for all
of Wagner's canonic operas and music-dramas except "Lohengrin." [PH:
Actually, it holds for "Lohengrin" as well, as per below] Dr. Swann also
says that Lohengrin seems to have loved Elsa before he arrived to save

PH: Wagner and Feuerbach together offer the solution to all these
questions (you will, by the way, find the most extensive chronological
anthology of passages from Feuerbach's four books which influenced
Wagner, and of passages from Wagner's writings and recorded remarks
which are crucial to grasping his allegorical logic, in Appendix II of Wagner wrote that "Lohengrin" is not a Christian
work. Feuerbach wrote that everything which Christians and other
religious faiths consider spiritual or supernatural in origin actually
originates within the mundane earthly realm and the human body, but that
human beings deceive themselves by imaginatively, artistically
sublimating what is material, and construing it as something spiritual.
Wagner wrote in "The Wibelungens" that the Nibelung Hoard was sublimated
by man into the Holy Grail (think here of the transformation of
Alberich's Ring Motif into the Valhalla Motif). But Wagner, like
Feuerbach, noted that these allegedly spiritual things fall like gravity
back to earth, and actually long to return to earth. Wagner also
suggested that Lohengrin himself needs redemption from what Wagner
described as the sterile Grail realm, through marriage and love. He
described Lohengrin as an absolute artist, who does not wish to be a
god, but wishes for mortal human love. By absolute artist Wagner meant,
for instance, that what is called absolute instrumental music is alleged
to be sui generis and independent of the real world, but Wagner
countered that all allegedly absolute music originates in earthly,
experiential sources of inspiration, which is why he stated that music
needs to be inseminated by the word, by drama. In sum, according to
Feuerbach, since our aspiration to spirituality is actually physical in
origin, the transcendent paradise which our imagination teaches us is
our reward for the anguish of mortal life on earth (a paradise such as
Lohengrin's Grail realm, or Wotan's Valhalla), which is supposedly
purged of all earthly things, would actually be sterile and meaningless.
Therefore, to make this paradise palatable, religious believers
unconsciously smuggle into it earthly feelings and aspirations, but
sublimated into an allegedly spiritual form.

PH: For these reasons Lohengrin actually seeks redemption from the
sterility of man's spiritual aspirations, represented by the Grail,
through marriage with a mortal woman, Elsa. Feuerbach also noted that
celibacy is an extreme consequence of the religious mindset, which seeks
to deny man's bodily, mortal nature, and prepare him to cast it off so
he can be a purely spiritual, immortal being. Wagner himself, in a
letter from the mid-1840's, stated that the audience for "Lohengrin"
should assume, once Lohengrin has confessed his true identity as a Grail
Knight, that marriage is inappropriate for a Grail Knight. I'm making
the point that Lohengrin is involved in a contradiction in representing
himself as representative of man's aspiration to purity and holiness
(the Grail), which is predicated upon an illusion, yet seeks,
hypocritically, his happiness in marriage to a mortal woman. This is an
answer to Dr. Swann's question, what is the Grail? According to
Feuerbach God (or if you will, the Grail) is an illusory aspiration to
share in divinity and transcendence. Wagner examines the same problem in
"Tannhaeuser" where, unlike the Grail realm, which is ostensibly divine
in nature, the Venusberg is an admittedly physical, pagan realm, but in
which Venus offers Tannhaeuser the enjoyment of physical pleasure, and
freedom from anguish and pain, in perpetuity. The "horror" in
Tannhaeuser's involuntary, dreamlike confession, in the great hall of
the Wartburg Castle, that his artistic inspiration comes from Venus in
the Venusberg, is the admission that what we thought was spiritual (his
inspiration) is actually physical. The primary difference in the two
operas from this standpoint is that "Tannhaeuser" examines the
contradiction from the earthly pole, and "Lohengrin" from the allegedly
divine pole. This is a part, but not all, of my solution to the question
regarding the motive behind Lohengrin's forbidden question.

Dr. Swann noted that Wagner gave his villains such depth as characters
that sometimes members of Wagner's audience might mistake Wagner's
villains for heroes. He also stated that there seems to be no motive for
the evil in "Lohengrin," that Ortrud is just an evil witch (the pagan
gods' apologist), whereas Lohengrin seems pure and good. Good and evil,
Dr. Swann says, therefore seem to be unambiguous in "Lohengrin," and he
notes a correspondence between this fact and the music, which is
comparatively unambiguous and undeveloped, unlike the music of the
"Ring" (with the exception of the music for the villains Ortrud and
Frederick, which seems to herald the "Ring" in this respect). But Dr.
Williams offers a pregnant suggestion, that Ortrud's attack against the
Christian faith in Act II challenges our very concept of divinity, and
that this makes Ortrud revolutionary.

PH: Wagner identified the worship of pagan gods with worship of nature,
and therefore regarded pagan worship (as of Wotan and Freia) as lacking
the Christian emphasis on supernatural transcendence. Note how Ortrud in
her attack on Christianity actually presents a sort of Feuerbachian
attack on the religious concept of spiritual transcendence. She also
calls Frederick's faith cowardice, and Feuerbach noted that egoism and
fear are the basis of Christian faith in the gods and an afterlife.
Ortrud tells Elsa that Lohengrin is fearful of exposing his true
identity to view; is it possible Ortrud is Feuerbachian in seeking to
expose the mundane, earthly source of what Christians take to be
transcendent mysteries, to pop the bubble of Lohengrin's magic sway? If
this were the case, then Ortrud would be, in a sense, heroic in standing
for truth against consoling illusions. Ortrud seems to have a special
relationship with Elsa, in that Ortrud planted the seed of doubt in her.
Consider that in the "Ring" Wotan learns from Mother Nature, Erda, that
the allegedly immortal gods (i.e., religious faith) are destined to
destruction, and that the product of Wotan's acquisition of fatal
knowledge is their daughter Bruennhilde. Consider furthermore that Wotan
imparts that fatal knowledge to Bruennhilde in his confession.

Now we get to the nub of the issue. Dr. Williams asked how "Lohengrin"
relates to the 1848 Revolution:

PH: The bigger question is how Elsa's breach of Lohengrin's insistence
on faith relates to Wagner's extraordinary proclamation in "A
Communication to My Friends" that her breach made him a revolutionary,
i.e., granted him the inspiration to make the transformation from the
author and composer of operas to revolutionary music-dramas, the
transition from "Lohengrin" to the "Ring." Elsa's insistence on asking
Lohengrin the forbidden question makes her a metaphor for Eve, in
paradise, whose insistence on eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge,
and sharing it with Adam, brought about the Fall, man's exile from
paradise. In my two online studies of "Lohengrin," aforementioned, I
suggest that though Elsa isn't guilty of her brother Godfrey's death in
a literal sense, she may nonetheless, as a figure for Eve, be symbolic
of that questioning of faith in the divine which, according to the Book
of Genesis, brought death into the world. There are some who call this a
fortunate error because it was only thanks to Eve's defiance of God's
law that Christ could offer man a restoration of lost paradise. This
would make Eve, in a strange way, the muse who inspires religious faith.
But Feuerbach, in the last few pages of "Thoughts on Death and
Immortality," described Eve's act as a heroic one, which made her the
muse of Reason, since through her act unquestioning faith in the divine
was questioned, which for Feuerbach made Eve the model for the
secularization of the modern world, and the replacement of religious
faith with both science and secular art. My research has shown that
Wagner's heroines Venus, Elsa, Bruennhilde, Isolde, Eva (obviously), and
Kundry, are metaphors for Eve in this sense. Since in Wagner's
Feuerbachian view religious faith in a transcendent paradise and the
hereafter is predestined to destruction by the advancement in
scientific knowledge, the heir to dying faith (the gods) is inspired
secular art, and of course Wagner's music-dramas are the archetype of
this art. So many of Wagner's heroines are modeled on Feuerbach's notion
that Eve is the muse of Reason, because Wagner regards the dying of
religious faith, due to the advancement of knowledge, as a second Fall,
which gives birth not only to modern science, but to its antithesis,
inspired secular art, particularly the art of music. Wagner's primary
difference with Feuerbach (a key component of the plot of the "Ring") is
that, unlike Feuerbach, who foresaw a wonderful efflorescence of science
and secular art, in collaboration, in the wake of man's overthrow of his
former adherence to religious faith, Wagner foresaw a future in which
science would destroy religion as a belief system by replacing
what was formerly construed as supernatural, with natural explanations,
while authentically inspired secular artists would strive (perhaps
unconsciously) to preserve religion as feeling (since it could no longer
be sustained as thought), especially in music.

PH: I'll conclude here by returning to the subject of Elsa as
Lohengrin's unconscious mind, and how this provides the key to unlock
the allegorical logic behind Wagner's transition from a creator of
operas, to the creator of revolutionary music dramas, and a key also to
grasp the allegorical logic of "Lohengrin," the "Ring," and Wagner's
other canonic operas and mature music-dramas. Wagner stated that up
through "Lohengrin" the relationship of drama to music in his artworks
had been comparatively mechanical, but that what set the revolutionary
music-dramas apart would be, in effect, an organic relationship of music
to the word/drama. Figuratively speaking, this would be a fully loving
marriage of music to drama. So how did Elsa's breach of Lohengrin's
insistence on unquestioning faith, by asking the forbidden question,
make Wagner a revolutionary music-dramatist? You may recall Jean-Jacques
Nattiez's book "Wagner Androgyne," in which Nattiez noted the
potentially far-reaching significance of Wagner's statement in "Opera
and Drama" that the hero is a metaphor for the word, or drama, the
heroine is a metaphor for music (Wagner's language of the unconscious
and the involuntary, relating music to dreaming), and their wholly
loving union would produce the music-drama. While Nattiez was working
out this thesis in the 80's, and published it in English translation
through the Princeton Univ. Press in, I think, 1994, I was
independently developing a similar thesis that Wagner's heroes were his
metaphors for the secular artist-hero, and his heroines metaphors for
the artist-hero's unconscious mind, and therefore the heroes' muse of
unconscious artistic inspiration. Nattiez and I had breakfast together
and compared notes at the 11/1983 centennial symposium at the Univ. of
Illinois, Chicago Circle, "Wagner in Retrospect: A Centennial Reappraisal."

Given these assumptions, note the extraordinary consequence which
follows if we contrast Lohengrin with Wotan. Where Lohengrin, on the one
hand, refused to allow Elsa to share with him the secret of his identity
and origin (she wished to protect him from the danger to which he'd be
subject, the "Noth," if his secret were exposed to the world), and
therefore could not achieve the full loving union of music with the
drama, Wotan, on the other hand, acquiesced when his daughter
Bruennhilde asked him to confide in her what was ailing him. What was
ailing him was his divine "Noth," her mother Erda's (Mother Nature is
the ground of Feuerbach's real, physical world, of time, space, matter,
energy, what was, is, and will be, and fate, construed as natural law)
prophecy of the inevitability that Alberich's curse will overthrow the
gods, i.e, that the truth will out and overthrow man's consoling
illusion, religious faith. Wotan was seeking a hero who could, in the
face of the inevitability of the end of the gods (religion),
independently preserve the essence of faith, in feeling/love (or, shall
we say, art). So Wotan, no longer holding onto the illusion that
religious faith is the truth, sought to live on in subliminal form in
secular art, particularly the art of music. Wagner himself said, echoing
Feuerbach, that when God had to leave us, he left us, in remembrance of
him, music. Let me add that Feuerbach said, in "The Essence of
Religion," that the only difference between religion and art is that
religion is poetry or art which insists that we believe its fictions are
true, whereas the secular artist openly confesses himself as a creator
of illusion, but, as Wagner said, an illusion with a redemptive power
when religious faith can no longer be sustained. Of course, music has
the advantage of staking neither a claim to truth, nor being susceptible
to accusations of deceipt. To grasp Siegfried we have to understand that
Wotan in his confession to Bruennhilde was telling her things he
couldn't bear to say even to himself, aloud, so that, if we grasp that
Bruennhilde is to Wotan what Elsa wishes to be for Lohengrin, his
unconscious mind, to whom he can impart things (repress knowledge of
things) which he can't bear to think consciously, then Siegfried is the
product of Wotan's confession. Symbolically, God the Father Wotan
plants the seed of his "Word" in the womb of his wishes, Bruennhilde,
and figuratively gives birth to the savior and redeemer Siegfried
(Siegfried accordingly briefly confuses Bruennhilde with his mother, and
Bruennhilde, not Sieglinde, knows Sieglinde is bearing the as-yet-unborn

But Wagner, in order to create Bruennhilde, had to take Elsa's offer to
help Lohengrin protect the secret of his true name and origin one step
further. Since Lohengrin, in thinking that he is the denizen of a
transcendent realm of the spirit, the Grail, is, according to Feuerbach,
deceiving himself, Elsa was right to suggest that she might well be
helping to save him from danger, the danger of being exposed as
self-deceived, by helping him to keep this self-deception a secret. The
only way she can do this is by being his unconscious mind, holding for
him the secret of his true identity, so that he need not be conscious of
it and suffer from knowledge of the terrible contradiction which, if
exposed to the light of day (i.e., if it becomes conscious), would
destroy his happiness.

Many consequences follow from this which make sense of otherwise
inexplicable things in all of Wagner's canonic operas and music-dramas.
For instance, Siegfried says that he doesn't know who he is, but in
"Siegfried" Act Three Scene Three Bruennhilde tells him that what he
doesn't know, she knows for him. Since Wotan has repressed unbearable
knowledge (which Erda imparted to him) into Bruennhilde, his unconscious
mind, and Bruennhilde called herself Wotan's Will, suddenly Wotan's
defiant remark to Erda in "Siegfried" Act Three Scene One, that Erda's
wisdom wanes before his Will (i.e., Erda's knowledge, being repressed
into Wotan's unconscious mind, wanes before his Will, Bruennhilde),
becomes terribly meaningful in a way not guessed at before. We now
understand why Siegfried, Wotan's heir, is, unlike Wotan, fearless,
because Wotan has repressed his fatal knowledge, his foresight of the
bitter end of the gods, into Bruennhilde, and thus figuratively given
birth to Siegfried, the hero who is fearless because he doesn't know who
he is. This of course also explains why Siegfried feels fear of the
sleeping Bruennhilde: he has a premonition that by waking and winning
her he is taking possession of Wotan's hoard of forbidden knowledge.
There are of course dozens of other implications of this concept for our
understanding of Wagner's other operas and music dramas (i.e., from
"Dutchman" onward). I will not explain here the many reasons I regard
Siegfried as a metaphor for the secular artist-hero (these are treated
in great detail at, but simply note that Siegfried
is freer than Wotan, the alleged god, because Siegfried as a
Feuerbachian artist-hero has the advantage over the religiously
faithful, that he doesn't stake a falsifiable claim to the truth, but
simply feels. Siegfried, in other words, doesn't stake a claim on the
Ring's power.

Dr. Williams's suggestion that the Grail might be a symbol of artistic
creativity, which might be able, according to Wagner's notion of art as
revolutionary, to bring about social unity, but can't once Lohengrin and
Elsa separate, makes sense in the context of what I long ago proposed,
that Lohengrin's and Elsa's inability to get beyond Lohengrin's
insistence on a prohibition on knowledge (which is really Wagner's
Feuerbachian metaphor for the coercive and fearful nature of
Christianity's insistence on unquestioning faith), finds its resolution
in Wotan's agreement to confide his secret, divine "Noth" to
Bruennhilde, which in Wagner's view gives birth to inspired, redemptive
secular art, and in particular his revolutionary music-dramas.

Dr. Swann stated that Lohengrin is a failure, and that there is no
redemption at the end of "Lohengrin." He asks who really cares that
Godfrey returns safely home at the end, to become Lohengrin's heir as
the people's leader. But Dr. Swann asks whether Wagner himself may have
regarded Godfrey as important. On this score, Jim noted that Godfrey,
like Siegfried, falls heir to a (Lohengrin's) sword, horn, and ring. I
have suggested in my online "Lohengrin" papers that Godfrey is indeed an
incipient Siegfried, and therefore an incipient, undeveloped
artist-hero. Dr. Williams suggested that "Lohengrin" in the end may have
something to do with the power of the artistic imagination to transform
one's situation. Well, this is true.

Thank you again for your wonderfully engaging "Wagner in der Wildnes"
programs. I hope the posting of the remaining 6 (or now, 7) programs'
audio recordings won't be long delayed. My companion Dotti and I will,
if possible, attend a future program.


Your friend from,


Paul Brian Heise

Paul Heise
Site Admin
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Re: My email on Lohengrin's forbidden question

Postby feuerzauber » Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:01 pm


A breakthrough into how Wagner consciously expressed in the most “idealistic” of art forms—music—the young-hegelian philosopher Feuerbach’s “materialistic” theory of the “ideal”.

As I understand you, Wagner has grounded the implicit, other-worldly, compositional and dramatic, framework of his music–dramas in the explicit, worldly, humanity of its protagonists: their needs, etc.

It is the implicit—the hidden—whose explanation has hitherto eluded those commentators who attempted to fathom Wagner’s “transcendental” framework by dint of that most elusive of thoughts: deep personal intuition.

Such unscientific approaches have established one scientific certainty — it has made it patently clear that the implicit in the wagnerian music-dramas is the most pressing wagnerian problem that still awaits explanation.

Your feuerbachian account, with its monumental supportive evidence (documented in detail on your web site) appears to be the long-sought breakthrough.

Your explanation may scarcely interest the casual opera goer, who seeks delight in operatic music-as-music, drama-as-drama, or an exciting mix of both.

But it is of compelling interest to the engaged wagnerian listener and to the wagnerian scholar, who seek to comprehend the “essence”—to use a feuerbachian term—of Wagner’s “actual” music dramas.

Your explanation is confronting to a new age of understanding by taking us back to Wagner’s thoroughly documented intellectual world, devoid of blinding modern intuition.

Controversy is appropriate, as your explanation wouldn’t confront us if it weren’t challenging.

You don’t demand agreement—like religion. You merely seek, and deserve, honest rational engagement—like science.

Let wagnerian scholars show their respect, and respond in like spirit.
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