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Quotes re Paul Heise in Beth Elliott's "Redemption Through Love"

Posted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:13 pm
by alberich00
Dear Members and Visitors at the discussion forum at

Beth Elliott of California has written a book entitled "Redemption Through Love - An irreverent guide to getting Wagnerian opera thrills without being a nut," and has been lecturing on it in the USA. I read it a short time ago and was pleased to see not only that Beth Elliott cited my own research on Wagner, but that her two citations displayed considerable understanding of what is at stake in my unique reading of Wagner's art and his "Ring" in particular.

The following is a transcript of her two citations of my own research:

P. 206. "Paul Brian Heise, in his essay 'How Elsa Showed Wagner the Way to Siegfried," quotes Wagner's 'A Communication to My Friends' to demonstrate how 'Elsa taught him how to strip the historical hero of his historical and natural context, the bonds of fate, in order to create, or rediscover, his mythic, "purely-human" hero Siegfried.' This meant a hero who could be found not in Christian myths, which Wagner considered derivative, but in their original versions that came from human intuition. For all of Wagner's going on like Schopenhauer in the 'Ring' about The End!!!, Heise makes a case that Siegfried is a hero inspired by, yet molded as a reaction to, the theories of religion of Ludwig Feuerbach (whom Wagner claimed he 'outgrew' when he got into Schopenhauer). In order to avoid getting mire in a whole mess of philosophical muck here, let's true to skim across with an overview."

P. 207; "But let's look at the line to Feuerbach, whose view, as Heise summarizes succinctly, was that God 'was the product of the collective imagination - a process of collective dreaming, or unconscious artistic inspiration - shared by the primal folk at the beginning of our human history. This was the final phase in the evolution of our conscious human mind, before we awoke to full consciousness of our status as unique living beings.' Heise has an interesting Feuerbachian theory: 'I suggest that the threat which the Nibelung dwarf Alberich poses for the gods of Valhalla - embodied in his curse on the ring - is actually the threat of scientific thought to undermine belief in divinity, i.e., belief in the existence of a spiritual realm which transcends Mother Nature.' "

P. 207-208: "Feuerbach considered this a good thing. As Spinoza conceived it a God who chose to create the universe must be obeyed and placated, putting power in the hands of opportunistic clergy. Wagner didn't consider this a good thing. Wagner, of course, saw the artwork of the future, and not science, as the new religion that would transform society. Killing any basis for the religious impulse would kill his attempted revival of Greek ritual drama through his sacred music dramas, and that would be a terrible thing for individuals and society (and, of course, for Wagner's career). Stripping down Christian myth to get to the original that came from the Volk was good, but denying the transformative power of myth and poetry and music was bad."

I thank Beth Elliott for her book, through which she's trying to broaden Wagner's audience and enlighten it, and for her astute citations of my own research.