Friday, July 30, 2004


Lohengrin is the sublime expression of romantic idealism from the very middle of the 19th Century, a musicdrama of thrilling dimension and emotional truculence.  As I am wont to see everything as a species of psychognosis, the unconscious intellect, I see the opera as Wagner's inability to love himself. 

Elsa represents Wagner's hope and capacity for self-love.  Lohengrin represents his artistic calling, his desire to create a spiritually based, unified art-form which is new, but with its roots in the past (myth).  For Wagner, this artform must remain inchoate, unnamed and ambiguous, for to pin it down, to name it, would be to squander its power, its majesy and its effect on the subconscious.  The tragedy is, Elsa and Lohengrin are incompatible.

The swan knight also represents everything Wagner esteems--his own inner ideal, a sublimity of which he can only dream.  For Wagner, it is this curse, the constant striving for perfection, for this ideal which he can never achieve, which fuels his art.  He is a divided man, who sacrificed every human principle in answer to his higher calling, and in the service of revolutionary art.

1 comment:

jimboz114 said...

You write well, however, your understanding of what drove Wagner to create is limited by attempting to psychoanalyze a brilliant mind.  Wagner loved himself so much that he believed his career was at times hobbled by Jews and not by his inability to connect with others.   He did not possess this curious quality you attribute to him the ". . . inability to love himself." Wagner's great triumph "The Ring Cycle" was driven by his desire to use what intellectuals of his day called "The German Illiad," those eddic sagas, and craft a national myth.  In the beginning of Seigfried, Nothung, the great sword which can only be forged by the man who is fearless (Seigfried) is in pieces.  At the time of writing, the Prussian Kaiser was hammering the German confederacy into a nation.  Politics and the destiny of the German people fired Wagner's talent.  In your trope concerning Wagner's curse, the striving for perfection, you don't seem to quite understand Wagner or the German culture of which he is such a perfect symbol.   Wagner was not "a divided man."  He was the artist as volcano.  There is no question that Wagner loved himself.  His friendship with Nietzsche was based on Wagner's enjoyment of himself as the idol of Germany's culture life.  I did not bother to comment on Lohengrin because I was so glad that you attended such an event and I want to suggest something to you.  Try listening to the Ring cycle and do study the libretto.  Reinzi is also superb.   For a really good perspective on the great composer try this radical view, "Wagner's Hitler," by Joachim Kohler. I enjoyed reading your blog and, like you, I am a novelist, albeit unpublished, although I have written so many.  . . masterpieces?  I would like to read a novel of yours.  Regards, James M. Twiford.