A+ a-
Wagnerheim Logo
Wagnerheim Bookmark System
Twilight of the Gods: Page 1003
Go back a page
1003
Go forward a page

 

[Note: Wagner places here musical notation for the opening notes of the Tristan Prelude,the famous Tristan Chord]

It swells and grows denser, and finally the whole world stands before me again in all of its impenetrable solidity.” [673W-{3/3/60} Letter to Mathilde Wesendonck: SLRW, p. 486]

Wagner was troubled not only by his inability to hit on a capstone for the Ring drama which would tie up all its loose ends, but troubled also by his final choice of how to end it. It is probable that Wagner completed his final music-drama Parsifal in order to resolve the remaining unresolved problems of the Ring. But more than that, Parsifal actually provides Wagner an alternative ending for the Ring cycle, in which the eternally repeating cycle of world destruction and the cosmos’ rebirth can be broken (at least figuratively) through man’s acceptance of his true nature and acknowledgment of his natural origins, through an embrace of world-affirmation in which he no longer commits the religious crime of world-denial against Mother Nature, but acknowledges his natural status as a mortal and limited creature. In describing this optimistic possibility below Wagner ends with a description of what he regards as its only alternative, a catastrophic end to our world (or perhaps even the cosmos) brought about by mankind’s Promethean, hubristic quest to grasp the nature and laws of all things, which according to Wagner might inadvertently unleash the chaos at the root of energy and matter, and obliterate the whole cosmos, or at least the earth. On this view the Ring’s finale can be construed as a poetic metaphor for the cosmic, destructive chaos set in motion by man’s unrestrained quest for knowledge of the basis of all things, something not depicted in the Ring, but rather, implied symbolically:

[P. 250] “ ‘Do you want to found a new religion?’ – the author of the present essay [Wagner] might be asked. (…) … [P. 251] I grew convinced that Art can only prosper on the basis of true Morals, and thus could but ascribe to it a mission all the higher when I found it altogether one with true Religion. (…) … at last it dawned on me that another, better state of future man – conceived by others as a hideous chaos – might well arise in comely order, if Religion and Art not only were retained therein, but for the first time gained their right acceptance. From this path all violence is quite shut out … . But things may turn out otherwise, should Wisdom more and more recede from rampant violence. (…) … it can but rouse our apprehension, to see the progress of the art-of-war departing from the springs of moral force, and turning more and more to the mechanical: here the rawest forces of the lower Nature-powers are brought into an artificial play, in which, for all arithmetic and [P. 252] mathematics, the blind Will might one day break its leash and take an elemental share. (…) Twere thinkable that all of this, with art and science, valour, point-of-honour, life and chattels, should one day fly into the air through some incalculable accident. When every pledge of peace was thus exploded in the grandest style, it would only need the outbreak of a general famine – already slowly, but infallibly prepared: then should we stand once more where world-Historical development began, and it really might look ‘as if God had made the world that the Devil might take it,’ as our great philosopher [Schopenhauer] found stated in the Judaeo-Christian dogma.” [1038W-{6-8/80} Religion and Art: PW Vol. VI, p. 250-252]

According to this reading, with the scientific mind’s final victory over the mytho-poetic worldview which had guided man throughout all previous human history, the way would be opened to search

Go back a page
1003
Go forward a page
© 2011 Paul Heise. All rights reserved. Website by Mindvision.