A+ a-
Wagnerheim Logo
Wagnerheim Bookmark System
Twilight of the Gods: Page 1002
Go back a page
1002
Go forward a page

But ultimately Wagner broadened his concept of an end of civilization to include the earth and even the entire cosmos, offering us a metaphysical solution (as Deryck Cooke put it), but also a controversial solution, to the problem of how to interpret the finale of the Ring:

[P. 211] “ ‘Not until all churches have vanished will we find the Redeemer, from whom we are separated by Judaism. But his ideas are not easy to grasp; God as the [P. 212] ending of the universe – that does not allow for a cult, though perhaps monasteries, in which people of similar beliefs could find a refuge and from which they could influence the world, from the solitary state [one thinks here of Parsifal] – but within the world itself it is not possible.’ “ [950W-{11/27/78}CD Vol. II, p. 211-212]

Wagner applied his concept of an eternal return of the Ring cycle to the cosmos itself. For this he had ample precedent not only in Feuerbach, as instanced in our extract below, but also in various prior models of the world, including those of the Hindus (an end of times called the Kali Yuga, through which the cosmos is destroyed, ending one cycle, but is later reborn), Manicheans, Stoics, etc. Here we have Feuerbach’s description of a pagan version of an eternal return of the world, or cosmos, in which it is continuously destroyed, and restored, in a never-ending cycle of rebirths (perhaps providing, by the way, an inspiration for Nietzsche’s concept that the higher man –“Overman” - must prove himself worthy by embracing the eternal return of all things, which was clearly Nietzsche’s antidote to the nihilistic, pessimistic Buddhist longing for escape from rebirth, and an antidote as well to the Christian emphasis on world-renunciation - Wotan’s sin against all that was, is, and will be):

[P. 309] “The Christians expected the destruction of the world immediately, because the Christian religion has in it no [P. 310] cosmical principle of development … . (…) The heathens, on the contrary, set no limits on the development of the cosmos; they supposed the world to be destroyed only to arise again renovated as a real world; they granted it eternal life. The Christian destruction of the world was a matter of feeling, an object of fear and longing; the heathen, a matter of reason, an inference from the contemplation of nature.” [163F-EOC: p. 309-310]

In the following passage, Wagner applies this Feuerbachian model for an eternal return of the Ring cycle to his comparison between Indian (i.e., Hindu and Buddhist) mythology, and Scandinavian mythology, both of which posit a twilight of the gods and rebirth of the world:

“Once more talked with R. about the Indians. The idea in Scandinavian mythology of a new world to follow the downfall of the gods is maybe a stray offshoot of the Indian religion.” [852W-{11/25/73}CD Vol. I, p. 702]

And here, in his comparison of what he describes as the “Buddhist theory of the origin of the world” with Tristan and Isolde, Wagner posits the inescapability of eternal rebirth, an eternal return:

“Everything is alien to me, and I often gaze around me, yearning for a glimpse of the land of nirvana. But nirvana quickly turns back into Tristan; you know the Buddhist theory of the origin of the world. A breath clouds the clear expanse of heaven:

Go back a page
1002
Go forward a page
© 2011 Paul Heise. All rights reserved. Website by Mindvision.