In the last post we quoted Wagner (“What Destiny separated in life emerges as life transfigured by death”), noting how his real spiritual aspirations, his actual yearning despite his failings in the ethical and moral sphere, have been either by-passed or completely ignored by many, if not most, commentators and critics (impossible to check on this and quantify it).
The following quotation, repeated here, points to the same positive judgment, despite a suspicion of rhetorical (and to some degree hypocritical or insincere) elements in it: “The life of man is a continual slaying of the self… Death accordingly is the most perfect deed of love: it becomes such through our consciousness of a life consumed by love”. Wagner was a romantic hero who, while failing in worldly terms due to his ‘weakness’ for women, ascended to the highest pinnacles of artistic expression – mostly in music. He was one of the few geniuses in the Western musical tradition, a tradition which he broke in order to make a new beginning.
In the first part of this series on the feminine principle we made (rather found, in Wagner’s opera Tristan and Isolde) a series of contrasts – or oppositions – , such as love-desire; death-life; night-day; longing-desiring; destiny-will; self-denial–self-affirmation; redemption-suffering; union (rebirth)-separation; reality-illusion; Goddess-woman. This list completes all the psychological and spiritual dimensions in that work – a truly inspiring sequence.
If there is not only exuberance, but some rhetorical liberties and even inflation of the ego and other excesses, all of that is overcompensated by the result: the work of art as a whole, where perfection is to be found, and not in any of its constitutive parts. We will complete these thoughts on that opera in the next post. (To be followed)