Some new questions and considerations from Wintersturmer

General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung

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Some new questions and considerations from Wintersturmer

Postby alberich00 » Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:23 am

Dear Members of, and visitors to, the discussion forum:

Wintersturmer tried to post the following thoughts in the discussion forum, but for some technical reason beyond my comprehension he couldn't get it to post here (we're looking into the problem to see how to fix it), so he forwarded his paragraphs to me, and I've posted them for him below. Hopefully we'll be able to figure out why his posts aren't taking.

"greetings to the list,

A viewing of the recent rebroadcast of the Met's Tristan and Isolde has prompted yours truly to venture into the recesses of Wagnerheim, after a overly long absence. I will not dwell into the production itself, which I felt was rather distracting and not very intellectually engaging, and dwell instead on some of the themes that I noticed in T&I that reappear in many of Wagner's works. These works are subject to a multitude of interpretations, starting from the rather superficial (the Ring as a jolly good reworking of Teutonic legend, T&I as a bodice-ripping yarn, Meistersinger as a chivalric singing contest), to deeper interpretations, such as the Ring as a metaphor for class struggle (a la Bernard Shaw). However, even Shaw admitted in The Perfect Wagnerite that these interpretations tend to expose certain inconsistencies in the narrative: Wotan and the Gods are essentially dead after Siegfried breaks Wotan's spear in Walkure, so why do the gods still dominate the action (albeit offstage) in Gotterdammerung? Even more pointedly, why is there a need for Gotterdammerung, and why must Siegfried die if the point of the Cycle is to argue for the overthrowing of the corruption of Church and State? I've been perplexed by these problems and seemingly incomprehensible action at times, and I've found that Paul Heise's interpretation of Wagner's works (supported by the writings of Wagner, Feurbach and others) succeeds in providing a logical deciphering of his canonical works; essentially, peeling the layers of an onion down to the core.

One point of contention that seems to have arisen in the forum is the concept of Siegfried as Wotan reborn, as a way for Religious Man to perpetuate himself through the unconscious artistic impulse, with Brunhilde acting as the repository of the unbearable knowledge that the comforting myths are indeed a figment of the imagination. The image of the "old time religion" reborn as the "new art" also reoccurs in Meistersinger, with Sachs (Wotan) actively supporting the overthrowing of the old order by Walther von Stolzing (Siegfried). This message of the transformation of the religious impulse into the artistic one seems reinforced in Act I, when Walther first sees his muse attending a church service. Significantly, he doesn't enter the church, but prefers to peek in from the outside, just as Siegfried or Parsifal (the guiless fool) are outsiders and blissfully unshackled by the old constraints and treaties. Beckmesser (Mime), on the other hand, are completely paralyzed by convention and fear of sinning against the rules (whether they be those of smithing or composition), and are only able to hammer out tired reruns that utterly fail to evolve in accordance to "Nature's (Erda's) Necessity." The uniting of Church and Art is underlined by Walter's Song in Act I, where he sings of "Paradise and Parnassus combined!" while Sachs makes the exclamation of "heilige Deutsch kunst" in Act 3 (significantly, he blesses Walther's song in Act 2 to a short excerpt of the Lutheran choral Ein Feste Burg...a Mighty Fortress is our God...Art as the new defense for Valhalla?).

Another common theme or device in Wagner's work with similarity of action is Fafner's blood in Siegfried Act 2 and the love-philter in Act 1 of T&I. Both serve as agents of for the realization of unspoken truths, such as the already existing but unacknowledged love between Tristan and Isolde, the ability to see through falsehood (the illusions of day, and Mime's underlying murderous schemes). I also consider the woodbird's song (which becomes intelligible after the blood touches Siegfried tongue) as a metaphor for the "new art" of the hero-artist Wagner/Siegfried of the leitmotif system as a means of communicating unconscious thoughts and what cannot be said in words.

Another reoccurring theme is that of the wound that cannot heal, whether it be that of Amfortas in Parsifal, Tristan(Act 1), or even the Dutchman's curse of endless roaming and existence, or Kundry's (Venus in Tannhauser) entreaties to dwell in the garden of illusions. What Heise's analysis has revealed to me is that Wagner has been "on message" in his most important works (even those that predate the music-dramas), and this makes Wagner's vision, as it evolved over the years, much more comprehensive. Good job!

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Re: Some new questions and considerations from Wintersturmer

Postby alberich00 » Sun Dec 04, 2016 7:06 am

To Wintersturmer:

Thank you for your acknowledgment of what I regard as examples of Wagner's underlying, unconscious superstructure for his artistic creativity from "Dutchman" onward to "Parsifal." Dr. Kitcher, of course, has put to the test whether or not I can sustain both logically and by virtue of the documentary evidence two of the pillars of my allegorical interpretation of Wagner's "Ring" and his other canonic operas and music-dramas, and I'm very pleased to see that some of the arguments and evidence I've presented in support of my reading has made a positive impression on some of the members of our discussion forum.

Needless to say, the gods continue to have an impact on the action subsequent to Wotan's removing himself from active engagement in the world at the end of "Valkyrie" because Wotan (religious faith) is, indeed, reborn, but unconsciously, in the secular artist-hero Siegfried's loving relationship with his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration, the New Valhalla (or "New Religion"). And of course, for the same reason the gods don't succumb to their fated "Goetterdaemmerung" until Siegfried and Bruennhilde succumb as well.

You mention the relationship between Fafner's blood from the "Ring" and Tristan and Isolde's love-philtre: one thing that has long fascinated me is what we might call the mythological parallel between the necessity for Tristan to kill Isolde's prospective (but evidently unworthy) lover Morold, and to receive the wound that will never heal at Morold's hands), in order to access the secrets of his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration Isolde in Ireland, and the necessity for Siegfried to kill Fafner (who in a strange sense can be regarded as a guardian keeping Siegfried from having access to Bruennhilde so long as Fafner lives) in order to access (by virtue of the Woodbird's song, which grants Siegfried entre to his own unconscious mind, and to Wagnerian music) his own muse of unconscious artistic inspiration Bruennhilde.

I'm greatly looking forward to finally completing the chapters in my book "The Wound That Will Never Heal" on "Tristan and Isolde," "The Mastersingers of Nuremberg," and "Parsifal," which will demonstrate their conceptual, allegorical, and dramatic coherence with Wagner's "Ring" and with his pre-"Ring" romantic operas "Dutchman," "Tannhaeuser," and "Lohengrin." It will be a true milestone when the wider world of Wagnerians can see what I saw so long ago, that Hans Sachs's confession to Eva in the course of his Act 2 Cobbling Song (intended to insure that only the authentically unconsciously inspired artist-hero Walther Von Stolzing wins the muse of unconscious artistic inspiration Eva, and not the uninspired pedant wannabe artist Beckmesser) is modeled directly on Wotan's confession to Bruennhilde (Wotan's repression of his unbearable hoard of knowledge into his unconscious mind) in "Valkyrie" Act 2 Scene 2.

Well, as you put it so well in your last paragraph, the secret of the underlying conceptual unity of Wagner's life's work is to be found in the concept of the wound that will never heal (in my interpretation, man's ineradicable metaphysical impulse, which predestines him to seek to transcend his natural limits, but tragically doesn't grant him the ability to achieve this in actuality, so that man must inevitably be punished for this hubris which is the very essence of his identity and fate), which is why I've titled my book "The Wound That Will Never Heal."

Thanks again.

Your friend from,

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