Friday, September 10, 2010

Significant Moments: Before the Deluge -- In Memory of 9/10

In her published memoirs Alma Mahler, widow of the composer Gustav Mahler, records the following anecdote about an incident that occurred in New York City in about the year 1909, while Mahler was conductor of the New York Philharmonic.

"Marie Uchatius, a young art-student, paid me a visit one day in the Hotel Majestic [in New York City]. Hearing a confused noise, we leaned out of the window and saw a long procession in the broad street along the side of Central Park [Fifth Avenue]. It was the funeral cortege of a fireman, of whose heroic death we had read in the newspaper. The chief mourners were almost immediately beneath us when the procession halted, and the master of ceremonies stepped forward and gave a short address. From our eleventh-floor window we could only guess what he said. There was a brief pause and then a stroke on the muffled drum, followed by a dead silence. The procession then moved forward and all was over.

The scene brought tears to our eyes and I looked anxiously at Mahler's window. But he too was leaning out and his face was streaming with tears. The brief drum-stroke impressed him so deeply that he used it in the Tenth Symphony."

Alma Mahler, Gustav Mahler: Memories and Letters (Third Edition Revised and Enlarged), page 135.

The following video is an excerpt from Mahler's 10th Symphony that contains the muffled drum strokes that were inspired by the New York City fire fighter's funeral procession:


During the period 1993 to 2004 I worked on my book Significant Moments, an autobiographical work composed entirely of quotations from the published literature. So I was already at work on the book at the time of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The horror and anguish of that day impressed me so deeply that I used it in the book. The following section of the book is a creative transformation of my feelings, my emotional reaction to the events of that day.

For the purposes of this presentation I call the piece "The Portrait Artist." Wagner's step-father, Ludwig Geyer, to whom the young Wagner was deeply attached -- and who died unexpectedly when the composer was seven years old -- was also a portrait artist as well as an actor and playwright. During his sitting for Renoir, Wagner excoriated both the French and the Jews, about whom the composer had deeply-ambivalent feelings. Wagner may have suspected that his stepfather Geyer was a Jew. Did Wagner associate the Frenchman Renoir with the presumed Jew Geyer? In a historical novel one can always speculate.

Be that as it may.

The creative link between the 2001 terrorist attack and the material I was already working on was provided by an inspired piece of writing by Adam Gopnick that appeared in The New Yorker magazine in the year 2002: "The City and the Pillars."



Albert Rothenberg, M.D. first described or discovered a process he termed "homospatial thinking," which consists of actively conceiving two or more discrete entities occupying the same space, a conception leading to the articulation of new identities. Homospatial thinking has a salient role in the creative process in the following wide variety of fields: literature, the visual arts, music, science, and mathematics. This cognitive factor, along with "Janusian thinking," clarifies the nature of creative thinking as a highly adaptive and primarily nonregressive form of functioning.

In the following text I have superimposed metaphors concerning the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.  I have included quotes from magazine articles specifically about 9/11 in addition to quotes from texts about war, destruction, physical injury, New York City, and the death of Wagner.  These quotes are highlighted.

In a sense, the following text takes us back to the time period immediately preceding a catastrophe.  Victims of trauma frequently go back in time in their minds to the moments preceding the trauma, as if to undo the trauma.

Incidentally, I first learned about the terrorist attacks at about 12:00 noon on September 11, 2001.  I turned on NBC-TV and the reporter David Bloom was summarizing the events of the day.  I watched the report in disbelief.  Coincidentally, the German word for flower is Blume.  Bloom was also the name of my pediatrician when I was a boy, Joseph Bloom, M.D.  At age two-and-one-half  I suffered a traumatic injury to the oral cavity.  A curtain rod pierced the soft palate causing a puncture wound that had to be cauterized.
_____________________

I always remembered the bit in the Parsifal story . . .
Arnold Zweig, Letter to Sigmund Freud.
. . . Maestro, . . .
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Letter to an Unknown Friend.
. . . according to which Amfortas' spear is the only means of healing the wound it has itself inflicted.
Arnold Zweig, Letter to Sigmund Freud.
All one had to do to unleash its magic was to apply it to . . .
Dava Sobel, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time.
. . . the wound which . . .
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein. 
. . . would hasten the closing of that wound.
Dava Sobel, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time.
A profound piece of early insight, I think.
Arnold Zweig, Letter to Sigmund Freud.

What that was meant to mean—that is something before which I stand dull and astounded, incapable of thought, indeed even of feeling. I cannot grasp, let alone explain it.
The Diary of Richard Wagner: The Brown Book 1865-1882 (August 19, 1865).
Well, what is the story of Parsifal?
Otto Friedrich, The Grave of Alice B. Toklas: and Other Reports from the Past.
“Would you like me to show it to you?” the old man asks.
Otto Friedrich, Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920’s.
. . . he is unwell and suffers from his nerves, can no longer eat, and so on.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Letter to an Unknown Friend.
He can hardly see through the thick lenses that fortify his eyes, but he totters across his . . .
Otto Friedrich, Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920’s.
. . . sun-drenched . . .
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Sunday, June 6, 1869).
. . . studio, past the window that opens onto . . .
Otto Friedrich, Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920’s.
. . . the tall acacia . . .
Hermann Hesse, Excerpt from September (poem set to music by Richard Strauss).
. . . trees in the garden, and then he bends over a wooden cabinet that contains his treasures.
Otto Friedrich, Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920’s.
The sun, keeping its promise without deception,
Had penetrated early in the morning,
Tracing a saffron streak obliquely
From the window curtains to the divan.
Boris Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago (Excerpt from August).
We speak of the impressionists of music; what a lot of nonsense I must have talked! I ended up boiling hot, babbling incoherently and scarlet with embarrassment.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Letter to an Unknown Friend.
Now he bends over a shallow drawer, grunts and fumbles through a sheaf of . . .
Otto Friedrich, Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920’s.
. . . manuscript pages, . . .
Truddi Chase, When Rabbit Howls.
. . . and finally pulls forth . . .
Otto Friedrich, Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920’s.
. . . the leaves . . .
Henry David Thoreau, Walden.
. . . he wants:
Otto Friedrich, Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920’s.
. . . . the first pencilled pages . . .
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Monday, November 25, 1878).
. . . of the Parsifal score.
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Wednesday, January 12, 1881) (editors’ note).
I sat down and looked through the pages.
Rich Cohen, Lake Effect.
"As the curtain rises on the forest of Monsalvat,"
Otto Friedrich, The Grave of Alice B. Toklas: and Other Reports from the Past.
. . . Wagner explains . . .
Marilyn Davis, In Search of Song.
. . . "the knight Gurnemanz rouses two young Esquires who are standing guard with him before the castle. Morning has dawned and Amfortas, their ailing leader, will soon be passing on his way to his bath. . . ."
Otto Friedrich, The Grave of Alice B. Toklas: and Other Reports from the Past.
Racked with physical and emotional anguish, . . .
Monica Crowley, Nixon in Winter.
. . . like the Fisher King of myth, . . .
Rich Cohen, Lake Effect.
. . . Amfortas . . .
Richard Wagner, Parsifal.
. . . was torn between wanting to share the pain and wanting to isolate himself.
Monica Crowley, Nixon in Winter.
Ah, ah, comme c’est melancolique, tout ca!
Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus.
" . . . Gurnemanz' reverie on the causes of Amfortas' suffering is interrupted by the arrival of the wildly disheveled Kundry, . . .
Otto Friedrich, The Grave of Alice B. Toklas: and Other Reports from the Past.
. . . on horseback, . . .
Sigmund Freud, The Ego and the Id.
. . . with balsam from Arabia for Amfortas' bath. Gurnemanz explains that no one knows of Kundry's origin, that Titurel, father of Amfortas, found her lying rigid in the forest when he selected this spot for the home of the Grail and its knights. She comes and goes, apparently under a curse. . . ."
And so on.
Otto Friedrich, The Grave of Alice B. Toklas: and Other Reports from the Past.
At this point . . .
Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist.
. . . I stood up . . .
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Letter to an Unknown Friend.
. . . for a moment . . .
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.
. . . at which he took my hands and thrust me back in my armchair.
Pierre Auguste-Renoir, Letter to an Unknown Friend.
prenez pitie de moi
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Thursday, September 29, 1881).
. . . Maestro, . . .
Pierre Auguste-Renoir, Letter to an Unknown Friend.
Enough of talking.
Arrigo Boito, Falstaff.
What’s that?
Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Der Rosenkavalier.
We’re simply wasting daylight.
Arrigo Boito, Falstaff.
Ah!—Ah!
Richard Wagner, Parsifal.
Let us try, then, not to synopsize the narrative but to reduce the story to its essentials. In the temple of Monsalvat, Amfortas and his knights have undertaken to guard the Holy Grail and the Holy Spear that once stabbed Christ in the side. Outside, in a rival fortress, lives the wicked magician Klingsor, who once tried to become a knight of the Grail but was rejected as unworthy.
Otto Friedrich, The Grave of Alice B. Toklas: and Other Reports from the Past.
Desperate to quell his raging passions, Klingsor even castrated himself, but was still rebuffed.
The New Grove Book of Operas.
Ach! Oh! And a gutteral sound in German.
Pierre Auguste-Renoir, Letter to an Unknown Friend.
Klingsor used Kundry to seduce Amfortas. Klingsor thus gained possession of the sacred spear and inflicted an incurable wound on Amfortas. This . . .
Otto Friedrich, The Grave of Alice B. Toklas: and Other Reports from the Past.
. . . telltale wound . . .
Dava Sobel, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time.
. . . can be healed only by a youth of complete innocence, namely Parsifal.
Otto Friedrich, The Grave of Alice B. Toklas: and Other Reports from the Past.
“That’s the way it happens, exactly as it’s written.”
Truddi Chase, When Rabbit Howls.
I see . . .
Pierre Auguste-Renoir, Letter to an Unknown Friend.
. . . Frau Cosima . . .
Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years.
. . . with a lithe fellow who must be a young Wagner.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Letter to an Unknown Friend.
—and, yes . . .
Henry James, The Ambassadors.
. . . the lady might have said “I should like a portrait of my husband.”
Henry James, The Real Thing.
At 12 o’clock a sitting for the French painter Renoir, . . .
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Sunday, January 15, 1882).
. . . in her diary Cosima spelled his name “Renouard.”
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (editors’ note).
This artist, belonging to the Impressionists, who paint everything bright and in full sunlight, amuses R. with his excitement and his many grimaces as he works . . .
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Sunday, January 15, 1882).
How would you like it done?
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Letter to an Unknown Friend.
“What a stupid question,” he said.
Arthur Rubinstein, My Many Years.
He paused. "How bad do I look? I'm getting myself deliberately tired so I'll be able to sleep tonight. . . ."
Monica Crowley, Nixon in Winter.
I suggest full face.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Letter to an Unknown Friend.
Il n’ecoutait pas.
William Faulkner, Le Domaine (The Mansion in French Translation).
“You want, of course, full resemblance.”
Arthur Rubinstein, My Many Years.
He says that will be fine.
Pierre Auguste-Renoir, Letter to an Unknown Friend.
He smiled with me, but only in that the closed corners of his mouth contracted more firmly and he shut his eyes a little.
Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus.
Of the very curious blue-and-pink result R. says it makes him look like the embryo of an angel, an oyster swallowed by an epicure.
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Sunday, January 15, 1882).
C’etait bien ca;
William Faulkner, Le Domaine (The Mansion in French Translation).
The conversation, which lasted for about three-quarters of an hour, seems to have consisted mostly of remarks by Wagner in bad French and embarrassed interjections by the painter . . .
Ernest Newman, The Life of Richard Wagner.
. . . thereby consummating the Babel of confusion . . .
Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus.
. . . between the two men.
Anthony Trollope, The Prime Minister.
I was pleased anyway not to have made a complete fiasco;
Pierre Auguste-Renoir, Letter to an Unknown Friend.
Then, too, . . .
Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit.
. . . I was pleased to be able to . . .
Henry David Thoreau, Walden.
. . . preserve for future generations . . .
Photos: The Warsaw Ghetto, II.
. . . a little souvenir of that admirable head.
Pierre Auguste-Renoir, Letter to an Unknown Friend.
Later, Renoir recalled this day and . . ..
Margaret Brenman-Gibson, Clifford Odets: American Playwright.
. . . Wagner's . . .
Bryan Magee, Aspects of Wagner.
. . . extraordinary discourse on the importance of the "the detail" in art and in life.
Margaret Brenman-Gibson, Clifford Odets: American Playwright.
Renoir’s pencil had traced the contours of that marvelous head with its bulging brow; but the flesh drooped, the narrow eyes could barely focus, and the expression . . .
Robert Gutman, Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind, His Music.
. . . an expression of character . . .
Henry James, The Art of Fiction.
. . . was one of infinite weariness. Death looked out of the rubber mask Wagner’s face had become.
Robert Gutman, Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind, His Music.
If you say you don’t see it (character in that—allons donc!), this is exactly what the artist who has reasons of his own for thinking he does see it undertakes to show you.
Henry James, The Art of Fiction.
On the morning of the day . . .
Adam Gopnik, The City and the Pillars: Taking a Long Walk Home.
. . . the aging composer . . .
Paul Mitchinson, The Shostakovich Variations.
. . . sat for the painter—or, rather, fidgeted . . .
Andrew Rawnsley, Loneliness of the long-distance premier.
. . . the village, . . .
Franz Kafka, The Judgment.
Bayreuth and its surroundings—
Simon Williams, Bayreuth: Summer Pilgrimage.
. . . was as beautiful as it had ever been.
Adam Gopnik, The City and the Pillars: Taking a Long Walk Home.
‘Wahnfried’ (Wagner’s house at Bayreuth),
Wilfrid Blunt, The Dream King: Ludwig II of Bavaria.
. . . an Italianate villa, . . .
Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering, Seeking Gold in a Baltimore Landmark.
—I call it a villa, but it was rather a large house with palatial pretences, . . .
Arthur Rubinstein, My Many Years.
. . . looked splendid with its . . .
Joy Hall, Knebworth Twinning Association Newsletter.
. . . large wrought iron door that opened into a lush garden.
Edmund Engelman, Berggasse 19: Freud’s Home and Offices, Vienna 1938.
The big doorway opened into a proportionately great hall hung with brown. The roof was in shadow, and the windows, partially glazed with coloured glass and partially unglazed, admitted a tempered light.
H.G. Wells, The Time Machine.
I shall not attempt to describe that interior: but imagine a building, say in Middlesbrough, erected to the glory of his particular god by a Victorian millionaire, and you get the idea.
Victor Gollancz, The Ring at Bayreuth: And Some Thoughts on Operatic Production.
Wagner had . . .
Peter Gay, Freud, Jews and Other Germans.
. . . just finished . . .
Franz Kafka. The Judgment.
. . . putting the final touches to . . .
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Letter to an Unknown Friend.
. . . the composition sketch of Parsifal . . .
Robert W. Gutman, Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind, His Music.
. . . sealed it in an envelope with slow and dreamy deliberateness, and with one elbow propped on his desk was looking out the window at the river, the bridge, and the hills on the farther bank with their tender . . .
Franz Kafka, The Judgment.
. . . autumn leaves . . .
Charles Dickens, Bleak House.
. . . flaming gold, touched with some horizontal bars of purple and crimson. Below was the valley . . .
H.G. Wells, The Time Machine.
The view from . . .
Andre Aciman, Barcelona.
.
. . the window . . .
Franz Kafka, The Judgment.
. . . on this clear sunny morning belongs to any Impressionist painting.
Andre Aciman, Barcelona.
Bayreuth lies in a wide valley on the upper basin of the Roter Main River. In its early years, the counts of Andechs-Meranien gave it the protection of a fortified castle.
Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince, Frommer’s 99 Germany.
On this day . . .
Boris Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago (Excerpt from August).
. . . a day that was so quiet and still . . .
Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front.
. . . the Castle, . . .
Franz Kafka, The Castle.
. . . set in a park, full of formal as well as English-style gardens . . .
Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince, Frommer’s 99 Germany.
. . . had never seemed so gleaming and luxuriant—
Adam Gopnik, The City and the Pillars: Taking a Long Walk Home.
. . . and Autumn, Refulgent as an oriflamme,
Boris Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago (Excerpt from August).
. . . drew . . .
Portrait of Claude Renoir Writing — Little Boy with a Pen.
.
. . all eyes by its many glories.
Boris Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago (Excerpt from August).
On the neighboring shore . . .
Walt Whitman, Excerpt from Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.
. . . in the Old Town . . .
Aharon Appelfeld, The Kafka Connection: A Displaced Writer Revisits a Haunted City of His Youth.
. . . flower vendors . . .
Angela Wibking, The Best of Barcelona.
. . . unpack autumn branches from the boxes they arrived in this morning. “That came over the bridge?” someone asks, surprised at the thought of . . .
Adam Gopnik, The City and the Pillars: Taking a Long Walk Home.
. . . a farmer from the country . . .
Julian Hawthorne, The History of the U.S.: The Shot Heard Round the World.
. . . freighting . . .
M.R. Montgomery and Louise Kennedy, An Unexpected Pleasure: A New Thoreau Book.
.
. . white and red morning glories, and . . .
Walt Whitman, Excerpt from Autumn Rivulets (There was a child went forth).
. . . waiting patiently . . .
Adam Gopnik, The City and the Pillars: Taking a Long Walk Home.
. . . with horse and buggy . . .
Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of the Island.
. . . just to bring in blossoming autumn branches. The vendor nods.
Adam Gopnik, The City and the Pillars: Taking a Long Walk Home.
In the afternoon R. goes walking in the garden . . .
Cosima Wagner's Diaries (Thursday, October 25, 1877).
—the leaves just beginning to fall, and the light on the leaves left on the trees somehow making them at once golden and bright green.
Adam Gopnik, The City and the Pillars: Taking a Long Walk Home.
At last a good night for R., and work.
Cosima Wagner's Diaries (Thursday, October 25, 1877).
He worked lovingly at the orchestration, at times producing only a few measures a day.
Robert W. Gutman, Richard Wagner, The Man, His Mind, and His Music.
The joy that certain sonorities had caused him, the increase of strength they had given him wherewith to discover others, led the listener on too from one discovery to another, or rather it was the creator himself who guided him, deriving, from the colours he had just hit upon, a wild joy which gave him the strength to discover, to fling himself upon others which they seemed to call for, enraptured, quivering as though from the shock of an electric spark when the sublime came spontaneously to life at the clang of the brass, panting, intoxicated, unbridled, vertiginous, while he painted his great musical fresco, like Michelangelo strapped to his scaffold and from his upside-down position hurling tumultuous brush-strokes on to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past.
Toward the end of . . .
Gore Vidal, The Meaning of Timothy McVeigh.
. . . the previous year, . . .
Upton Sinclair, The Jungle.
. . . Richard Wagner made a visit to the southern Italian town of Ravello where he was shown the gardens of the thousand-year-old Villa Rufolo. "Maestro," asked the head gardener, "do not these fantastic gardens 'neath yonder azure sky that blends in such perfect harmony with yonder azure sea closely resemble those fabled gardens of Klingsor where you have set so much of your latest interminable opera, Parsifal? Is not this vision of loveliness your inspiration for Klingsor?" Wagner muttered something in German. "He say," said a nearby translator, "How about that?"


How about that indeed, I thought as I . . .
Gore Vidal, The Meaning of Timothy McVeigh.
. . . ink in another page he gave to me; he works, tells me afterward that he is seizing every opportunity to conjure up a little musical paradise, as, for example, when Amfortas is carried to the lake.
Cosima Wagner's Diaries (Thursday, October 25, 1877).
The world of musical impressionism arose from the opera’s wondrous orchestral textures.
Robert W. Gutman, Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind, and His Music.
Although his health was deteriorating, no terminal illness could mar the satisfaction he derived from hours of productive endeavor at his desk.
Martin Gregor-Dellin, Richard Wagner: His Life, His Work, His Century.
Wagner, an artist who in general had built upon and summarized the achievements of his contemporaries, was . . .
Robert W. Gutman, Richard Wagner, The Man, His Mind, and His Music.
. . . in his old age . . .
Robert Alter, Genesis: Translation and Commentary.
. . . following new paths.
Robert W. Gutman, Richard Wagner, The Man, His Mind, and His Music.
He would jokingly repeat . . . —
Edmund Engelman, Berggasse 19: Freud’s Home and Offices, Vienna 1938.
Whoever hears will laugh at me . . .
Robert Alter, Genesis: Translation and Commentary.
. . . but I like to remind people . . .
Terry Rager, Live From . . . the Stratosphere.
Parsifal . . .
Siegfried Wagner, Erinnerungen.
. . . is not an old work of my youth but a youthful work of my old age . . .
Conrad Susa, Music of Unseen Worlds quoting Wagner.
. . . a legacy I am proud to leave.
Isaac Stern and Chaim Potok, My First 79 Years.
Parsifal, . . .
Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years.
. . . a work that was unlike anything he—or anyone else—had done before . . .
Helen A. Cooper, Thomas Eakins The Rowing Pictures.
. . . is probably the most highly personal musical invention of Wagner—it places the emphasis for the first time on uncertainty, on . . .
Pierre Boulez on Parsifal, notes accompanying recording.
. . . fluctuating chromatic harmonies . . .
Otto Friedrich, Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920’s.
. . . on indetermination . . .
Pierre Boulez on Parsifal, notes accompanying recording.
—and I tell you that . . .
Hermann Levi, Letter to His Father (Rabbi Levi of Giessen).
. . . a patient listener . . .
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Legends of the Province House: II. Edward Randolph's Portrait.
. . . will palpably sense the distinct quality conferred by the actual experience . . .
Leonard Shengold, Soul Murder.
. . . of delayed disclosure . . .
Alwyn Berland, Light in August: A Study in Black and White.
. . . of tonality—
Arnold Schoenberg, Style and Idea.
. . . which creates initially a sense of discontinuity.
Alwyn Berland, Light in August: A Study in Black and White.
The key to the mysteries of . . .
Leonard Shengold, Soul Murder.
. . . Parsifal . . .
Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past.
. . . is found by and large in the mind of . . .
Leonard Shengold, Soul Murder.
. . . the listener for whom . . .
iClassics.com, Classical Music and More.
. . . the music . . .
Leonard Shengold, Soul Murder.
. . . represents a rejection of . . .
Pierre Boulez on Parsifal, notes accompanying recording.
. . . diatonic . . .
George Meredith, The Egoist.
. . . immutability, an aversion to definitiveness in musical phrases as long as they have not exhausted their potential for evolution and renewal.
Pierre Boulez on Parsifal, notes accompanying recording.
Narrative coherence is achieved . . .
Alwyn Berland, Light in August: A Study in Black and White.
. . . in Parsifal . . .
Lucy Beckett, Richard Wagner: Parsifal.
. . . by slow accretion, rather like a mosaic in which individual pieces have limited significance but which, when placed together, achieve an intelligible and beautiful form.
Alwyn Berland, Light in August: A Study in Black and White.
I should like to be able to announce . . .
Otto Friedrich, The Grave of Alice B. Toklas: and Other Reports from the Past
. . . to you the reader . . .
Rabbi Elyse Winick, What Does Jewish Identity Mean to You?
—or better, future reader, since at the moment there is still not the slightest prospect that my manuscript will ever see the light of public day, . . .
Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus.
I should like to announce that . . .
The Trial of Adolf Eichmann.
. . . this book has some underlying theme, some stout thread that almost invisibly ties together all these diverse stories and transforms them into a unified historical work.
Otto Friedrich, The Grave of Alice B. Toklas: and Other Reports from the Past.
I puzzled over this problem . . .
Nora Farber, Minnehaha Academy Geometry Portfolio Page.
. . . of narrative unity . . .
Kevin L. Stoehr, Home Page.
. . . for some weeks, . . .
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
. . . as if . . .
Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son.
. . . a dark inscrutable workmanship . . .
William Wordsworth, The Prelude.
. . . struggled within me to . . .
Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus.
. . . achieve coherence
Kathleen Roskos, Achieving Coherence—The Ohio Literacy Initiative.
And so it was that after . . .
Chris Brady, A Trip to Galapagos or The Hazards of Crossing the Line.
. . . a still winter night . . .
Henry David Thoreau, Walden.
. . . months after this problem first became evident, . . .
University of Pennsylvania, CNS Neuronal Cytology for the Brain and Behavior Course on Neuropathology.
. . . I awoke with the impression that some question had been put to me, which I had been endeavoring in vain to answer in my sleep, as what—
Henry David Thoreau, Walden.
What unifying theme could possibly connect . . . the rituals of Wagner's Parsifal . . . with . . .?
Otto Friedrich, The Grave of Alice B. Toklas: and Other Reports from the Past.
It was as if my inner self . . .
Maalok, Hats Off!
. . . a second self—
William Styron, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness.
. . . had become his own Sphinx; he was answering . . .
Leon Edel, The Life of Henry James.
—or attempting to answer—
SuperKids, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire Kids Edition.
. . . his own riddles.
Leon Edel, The Life of Henry James.
Aware that . . .
Grace Marmor Spruch, Did Moby Dick Break Boyle’s Law?
. . . the nature of my work . . .
Linda Fairstein, The Dead-House (author essay).
. . . provokes that question . . .
William Shakespeare, The Tempest.
. . . the question of ‘Coherence’, . . .
Chakravarthi Raghavan, Continuing Conceptual Divides at the WTO.
. . . I wish to assert that . . .
Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus.
. . . I am fond of meandering designs;
Leonard Shengold, Soul Murder.
Well, what more is there to say?
Boris Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago.
To the last syllable . . .
William Shakespeare, The Tempest (Modern English Version).
. . . this book proceeds more by association than by orderly progression, . . .
Leonard Shengold, Soul Murder.
. . . though (of course) . . .
Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son.
. . . some motifs recur throughout.
Leonard Shengold, Soul Murder.
I suspected that . . .
Irvin D. Yalom, Love’s Executioner.
. . . Wagner either as man or artist . . .
Ernest Newman, Wagner as Man and Artist.
. . . launching out into a new world whose possibilities he was not quite sure . . .
Humphrey Searle, The Music of Liszt.
. . . must, like I . . .
Jim Lesses, Excerpt from When I Was Younger.
. . . have found it difficult to . . .
Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son.
. . . describe what happened when, half-consciously following the thread of an idea, he made his way through the intricate ramifications of his . . .
Martin Gregor-Dellin, Richard Wagner: His Life, His Work, His Century.
. . . vast artistic design.
Anthony H. Harrison, Pre-Raphaelitism and Tractarianism.
What with all the disasters, feuds, and emotional outbursts, the grotesque and irksome incidents that pressured him, he sometimes marveled at his ability to produce anything at all.
Martin Gregor-Dellin, Richard Wagner: His Life, His Work, His Century.
—Strange! How . . .
The Diary of Richard Wagner: The Brown Book 1865-1882 (August 19, 1865).
. . . my spirits obey . . .
William Shakespeare, The Tempest.
. . . as I sit down . . .
Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus.
. . . whole and solitary, at this miraculous loom. It is the only thing that befits me. The world I cannot shape . . .
The Diary of Richard Wagner: The Brown Book 1865-1882 (August 19, 1865).
. . . through my so powerful art . . .
William Shakespeare, The Tempest (Modern English Version).
. . . I must merely forget:
The Diary of Richard Wagner: The Brown Book 1865-1882 (August 19, 1865).
I bring with me . . .
H. Rider Haggard, Morning Star.
. . . the fresh air of . . .
Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Strauss, Arabella.
. . . my own world, . . .
Edgar Rice Burroughs, At the Earth’s Core.
. . . and that which does not belong to . . .
Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Strauss, Arabella.
. . . Me, . . .
Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers, The Sound of Music (Excerpt from Do-Re-Mi).
. . . does not exist for me.
Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger.
That is why I can begin to live only when I am able to exalt something glorious . . .
Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Strauss, Arabella.
. . . alternately soaring and descending, . . .
Henry David Thoreau, Walden.
. . . eagle-like . . .
Richard Wagner, Parsifal.
. . . above me
Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Strauss, Arabella.
Be it for good or ill, . . .
Richard Wagner, Gotterdammerung.
. . . I will assert that . . .
Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus.
. . . life, powers, passions, all I see in other beings, . . .
George Gordon, Lord Byron, Manfred.
. . . must simply serve . . .
Bruce J. Evensen, Review of John Taylor, Body Horror: Photojournalism, Catastrophe and War.
. . . as inspiration . . .
Joseph Conrad, Chance.
. . . for my work.
Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery.
Will assert as well that . . .
Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus.
. . . in me . . .
Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities.
. . . as in him, . . .
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations.
. . . the accent lies on the conjunction of poet and musician, as a pure musician I would not be of much significance.
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Monday, August 16, 1869).
Symbols, especially words as symbols, fascinated . . .
Robert W. Gutman, Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind and His Music.
. . . Wagner the librettist . . .
Barry Millington, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
. . . and the power of his poetry often rests upon allusion latent in the phrase; much is covert and much implied. Often he sets up a stage situation whose externals mime one tale while his sinewy and punning diction unfolds another.

It is tempting to believe that in . . .
Robert W. Gutman, Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind and His Music.
. . . Parsifal . . .
Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus.
.
. . Wagner wished, at least subconsciously, to hint at . . .
Robert W. Gutman, Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind and His Music.
. . . a Joseph identification
K.R. Eissler, Talent and Genius.
—that is to say, . . .
Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams.
. . . a secret affinity with . . .
Jack Kroll, Ladies and Gentlemen—Lenny Bruce.
. . . the son of one of the . . .
Steve Wulf, A Triumph of Will.
. . . Hebrew Patriarchs.
Harold Bloom, The Book of J.
It is difficult to imagine that . . .
David E. Lipman, Me’am Loez on VaYayshev: Joseph and His Brothers.
. . . the Wagner who was one day to make even his Kundry speak in puns was completely unaware of the implications of . . .
Robert W. Gutman, Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind and His Music.
. . . his occasional allusions to . . .
Benjamin B. Warfield, The Person of Christ According to The New Testament.
. . . the Joseph legend of the Old Testament . . .
Web Gallery of Art, Joseph and the Wife of Puthiphar.
. . . while he was occupied with . . .
Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews.
. . . the composition of Parsifal.
Kate Douglas Wiggin, Bluebeard.
Wait: I’ll show you.
Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler.
I am . . .
K.R. Eissler, Talent and Genius.
. . . in possession of papers, of priceless manuscripts, which . . .
Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus.
. . . Richard Wagner . . .
K.R. Eissler, Talent and Genius.
.
. . bequeathed to me, and to no one else, in a will written during a period of health or, if I may not put it that way, during a period of comparative and legal sanity, papers I shall use to document my presentation—
Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus.
Yes. This. Here.
James Joyce, Ulysses.
Wednesday, January 9
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Wednesday, January 9, 1878).
And it might have been today, I remember it so clearly. We were in the dining room of our house . . .
Italo Calvino, The Baron in the Trees.
. . . and Richard said to me . . .
Lincoln Center Theater Platform Series, A Conversation with Spalding Gray.
"I'm now making my two Pharaohs, . . .
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Wednesday, January 9, 1878).
. . . i.e., Amfortas and Titurel . . .
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (editors’ note).
. . . sing their duet.”
Cosima Wagner's Diaries (Wednesday, January 9, 1878).
Ha, ha!—
Richard Wagner, Parsifal.
“How easy it would be if I could
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Tuesday, July 18, 1871).
. . . could . . .
The Diary of Richard Wagner: The Brown Book 1865-1882 (editor’s note).
. . . just write arias and duets!”
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Tuesday, July 18, 1871).
Yes!—
Richard Wagner, Parsifal.
Yes, that’s what he said.
Mark Squires, E-Zine on Wine.
And he said:
Genesis.
Now everything has to be a little musical portrait, but it must not interrupt the flow—
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Tuesday, July 18, 1871).
He then added:
Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus.
—I’d like to see anybody else do that!
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Tuesday, July 18, 1871).
We laughed.
Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus.
It was one of those rare days that winter when it did not snow, and the sun, usually hidden by low, thick gray storm clouds, seemed particularly brilliant.
Monica Crowley, Nixon in Winter.
Skating for the children, R.'s cold weather has arrived! Last night we dreamed more or less the same thing—that I was arranging concerts . . .
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Thursday, January 10, 1878).
. . . of chamber music . . .
Boris Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago.
. . . for somebody and R. was jealous. We laugh . . .
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Thursday, January 10, 1878).
. . . at the way in which [our] . . .
Donald P. Spence, Narrative Truth and Historical Truth: Meaning and Interpretation in Psychoanalysis.
. . . thoughts converged.
Boris Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago.
At lunch he announces . . .
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Thursday, January 10, 1878).
. . . half jokingly (which is to say half seriously):
Elmer Bendiner, A Time For Angels: The Tragicomic History of the League of Nations.
"My Pharaohs are locked in battle," and tells me I will be amazed to see what he has done with the words "zu diesem Amt verdammt zu sein" ["to be condemned to this office"].
Cosima Wagner's Diaries (Thursday, January 10, 1878).
Beyond the windows, lay the wintry garden, the flower-beds covered with straw, the grottoes snowed under, the little temples forlorn.
Thomas Mann, Tristan.
With R. and the children on the ice.
Cosima Wagner's Diaries (Thursday, January 10, 1878).
Amused, . . .
Joseph Conrad, Chance.
. . . Richard talks about . . .
Adam Phillips, The Beast in the Nursery.
. . . the hiss of skaters on the ice . . .
Michael Crichton, Rising Sun.
. . . to-ing and fro-ing
Adam Phillips, The Beast in the Nursery.
The temperatures, well below freezing, kept most people inside, sheltered from the brutal cold and the white veil of winter that waited just outside their doors.
Monica Crowley, Nixon in Winter.
Richard goes to town . . .
Quentin Tarantino, From Dusk Till Dawn.
. . . in his carriage . . .
William Shakespeare, The Tempest.
. . . to fetch me, and I return home with him. Two lean cows remind him of Pharaoh's dream, which keeps him occupied the whole way home.
Cosima Wagner's Diaries (Monday, January 14, 1878).
All around him lay coldness—
Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus.
. . . the difficult air of the iced mountain’s top,
George Gordon, Lord Byron, Manfred.
. . . and yet . . .
William Shakespeare, The Tempest.
‘No matter,’ he had said, . . .
Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams.
No matter, since . . .
William Shakespeare, The Tempest.
. . . he himself creates his own milieu.
K.R. Eissler, Talent and Genius quoting Viktor Tausk.
Wholly artificially, like a tropical plant in the winter garden, I must shut myself off against the atmosphere of reality, there is no other way.
The Diary of Richard Wagner: The Brown Book 1865-1882 (August 19, 1865).
I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contained,
I stand and look at them long and long.
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself.
I can only cocoon myself, weave for you . . .
The Diary of Richard Wagner: The Brown Book 1865-1882 (August 19, 1865).
. . . you, my reader, my . . .
Darren Bleuel on Darren Bleuel (A sort-of inspirational essay).
. . . conjectural reader, . . .
Britannica.com, Review of Jorge Hernandez Martin, Readers & Labyrinths:
The Detective Fiction in Borges, Bustos, Donecq, & Eco.
Brother-animal. You.
K.R. Eissler, Talent and Genius, quoting The Freud Journal of Lou Andreas-Salome.
Oh—to work!!—
The Diary of Richard Wagner: The Brown Book 1865-1882 (September 9, 1865).
Ay, . . .
William Shakespeare, The Tempest.
. . . to my task!—
George Gordon, Lord Byron, Manfred.
Now does my project gather to a head:
William Shakespeare, The Tempest.
The second act shows . . .
John Tasker Howard, The World's Great Operas.
. . . the cloud-piercing towers of . . .
Kurt Loder, At Ground Zero: My Neighborhood Vanished (Rolling Stone 9.11.01).
Klingsor’s magic castle.—
Richard Wagner, Parsifal.
The hour’s now come; the very minute bids . . .
William Shakespeare, The Tempest.
. . . Klingsor . . .
Hermann Hesse, Klingsor’s Last Summer.
. . . work . . .
William Shakespeare, The Tempest.
. . . his magic arts to rouse Kundry from her deep sleep . . .
John Tasker Howard, The World's Great Operas.
. . . and then order her . . .
Gareth Patterson, “The Killing Fields.”
. . . to seduce Parsifal. Kundry protests, but Klingsor mocks her for her remorse and insists that she overcome the power of this youth whom he recognizes as the "Guileless Fool" who may break his power. The castle sinks in the darkness and . . .
John Tasker Howard, The World's Great Operas.
. . . lo and behold, . . .
Andrew Levin, Mysteries of the Cligeva: And Other Stunners From The Upstart Science of Female Desire.
.
. . the scene changes to a luxuriant garden.
John Tasker Howard, The World's Great Operas.
Here, vivid blooms give way to muted greens and grays and beiges, in spiky, droopy and phantasmagoric shapes. Towering needle-leafed tree ferns shade the curving gravel walks with greenish gloom.
Edwin Kiester, Jr., 'Not your average backyard gardener'.
Perhaps the mysteries of evolution and the riddles of life that so puzzle us are contained in the green of the earth, among the trees and the flowers . . .
Boris Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago.
Parsifal enters and is surrounded by enticing flower girls . . .
John Tasker Howard, The World's Great Operas.
. . . just like the Arabian Nights, . . .
Peter Hellman, Coming Up Harlem: A Revival of the Fabled New York Community Inspires Pride and Controversy quoting Duke Ellington.
. . . all running to and fro for flowers, and laughingly flinging them . . .
H.G. Wells, The Time Machine.
. . . upon him until he is . . .
Shaykh Abu ‘Ali Nabeel al-Awadhi, A Party in Paradise and a Party in Hell.
. . . almost smothered with blossom.
H.G. Wells, The Time Machine.
Their existence is as limited as that of women in a harem and they look like rare hothouse plants.
Julius Meier-Graefe, Auguste Renoir in Renoir: A Retrospective (Nicholas Wadley, ed.).
Kundry appears as a woman of bewitching beauty.
John Tasker Howard, The World's Great Operas.
Never forthcoming about her personal life, she was "both flamboyant and mysterious . . ."
Edwin Kiester, Jr., 'Not your average backyard gardener'.
At the time, she seemed . . .
Robert Coles, Anna Freud: The Dream of Psychoanalysis.
. . . to live in two different worlds, one in which sexuality hardly existed and one in which it was all too frighteningly present.
Joseph Fernando, The Exceptions: Structural and Dynamic Aspects.
She puts her arms around Parsifal and kisses his lips. For the first time Parsifal knows passion, but he also feels what seems to be the pain of Amfortas' wound. He realizes how Amfortas was tempted to sin in these same gardens. Pushing Kundry aside he denounces her.
John Tasker Howard, The World's Great Operas.
I saw her look at me with a mixture of admiration and distaste. She was not accustomed to being spoken to in this manner. I knew that. She was looking at me and possibly wondering who I was, what I really wanted, what I intended to do . . .
J. Moussaieff Masson, Final Analysis.
The withholding of any explanation as to his background, his motivations, or his intentions, coupled with the lucidity and immediacy of . . .
Alwyn Berland, Light in August: A Study in Black and White.
. . . his denunciation . . .
Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger.
. . . is powerful, . . .
Alwyn Berland, Light in August: A Study in Black and White.
. . . explosive . . .
Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent.
. . . even terrifying.
Alwyn Berland, Light in August: A Study in Black and White.
I realized that if I followed my desires, I would be eternally damned.
David E. Lipman, Me’Am Loez on VaYashev: Joseph and His Brothers.
Like some of her plants, Madame—she never answered to any other name—could be quite prickly.
Edwin Kiester, Jr., ‘Not your average backyard gardener.’
Kundry calls to Klingsor. The magician hurls the Sacred Spear at Parsifal. Instead of hitting Parsifal, the Sacred Spear hangs in mid-air over his head. Parsifal grasps it and makes the sign of the cross. Kundry falls unconscious and the castle sinks in ruins.
John Tasker Howard, The World's Great Operas.
Without doubt, what is musically the most precious and artful moment comes with . . .
Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus.
. . . the whole tower . . .
Richard Wagner, Parsifal.
. . . the castle and the garden. . .
Nipponia, Okayama Castle.
. . . vanishing suddenly . . .
Tim Friend, Maya Lived as Urban Farmers.
. . . astonishingly, impossibly—gone.
Kurt Loder, At Ground Zero: My Neighborhood Vanished (Rolling Stone 9.11.01).
The themes of innocence and purity, sexual indulgence and suffering, remorse and sexual renunciation are treated in Parsifal with a subtle intensity and depth of compassion that probe deeply into the unconscious and make the opera in some ways the most visionary of all Wagner’s works.
The New Encyclopaedia Britannica (“Richard Wagner,” by Deryck V. Cooke and others).
Parsifal provides another glaring association of the maternal with the erotic. Describing [Parsifal's mother's] love for her son, Kundry asks, "Then, when her frenzied arm embraced you, were you perchance afraid of her kisses?" Nowhere else in pre-Freudian literature can one find such an overt reference to sexuality in early childhood.
Martin Gregor-Dellin, Richard Wagner: His Life, His Work, His Century.
He has been much criticized for this strongly personal treatment of a religious subject, which mingles the concepts of sacred and profane love; but in the light of later explorations in the field of psychology his insight into the relationship between religious and sexual experience seems merely in advance of its time.
The New Encyclopaedia Britannica (“Richard Wagner,” by Deryck V. Cooke and others).
It had always been my dream to be at a Wagner Festival in Bayreuth and especially to see Parsifal, which at that time could be seen only at this Wagnerian Mecca.
Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years.
A scene I hadn’t thought of in decades entered my mind:
Irvin D. Yalom, Love’s Executioner.
. . . Levi in Parsifal.
Harold C. Schonberg, The Great Conductors.
Hermann Levi was the most accomplished conductor in the German Empire who was also a Jew. A cultivated and versatile musician, he was born at Giessen in 1839, the son of a rabbi whom he greatly cherished and often astounded.
Peter Gay, Freud, Jews and Other Germans.
His phenomenal career ignored the legal fact of his status, and after his swift elevation it no longer came in question.
Thomas Mann, Joseph and His Brothers.
Friend and adviser of Richard Wagner, he conducted the first performance of Parsifal at Bayreuth in 1882.
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia.
Performing at Bayreuth ought to have been a particularly gratifying experience for a conductor who has dedicated as much time to Wagner's music as I have, but in the end it caused me endless suffering.
Sir Georg Solti, Memoirs.
Hermann Levi was then staying at Wahnfried . . .
Peter Gay, Freud, Jews and Other Germans.
. . . the palatial villa Richard Wagner built for his family . . .
Nora London, Aria for George.
. . . participating in the final preparations for Parsifal. He had taken a walk into Bayreuth . . .
Peter Gay, Freud, Jews and Other Germans.
. . . the walk would be good for his health. He enjoyed the well-kept gardens that led to the theater . . .
Nora London, Aria for George.
. . . and returned to Wahnfried to have lunch with the Wagner family, but arrived at the house a little late.
Peter Gay, Freud, Jews and Other Germans.
We were all waiting for him to appear at table, for he had sent word to us to begin lunch without him.
Paul von Joukowsky, Letter to Malwida von Meysenbug Describing the Death of Wagner.
I was seated on the other side of . . .
Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years.
. . . Nietzsche’s sister Elisabeth and Lou von Salome
Martin Gregor-Dellin, Richard Wagner: His Life, His Work, His Century.
I remember . . .
Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years.
. . . the ladies . . .
Philip Roth, Portnoy’s Complaint.
. . . chatting in lowered voices . . .
Gustave Flaubert, Voyage en Egypte.
—going on and on and on
Alex Comfort, The New Joy of Sex: A Gourmet Guide to Lovemaking for the Nineties.
What were they talking about?
Franz Kafka, The Trial.
Pure gossip, I thought.
Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years.
In any event, Levi . . .
Peter Gay, Freud, Jews and Other Germans.
. . . the poor conductor, . . .
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Wednesday, June 29, 1881).
When he returned . . .
Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews.
Wagner stood "in the hall, . . .
Peter Gay, Freud, Jews and Other Germans.
. . . at the door . . .
Cosima Wagner's Diaries (Tuesday, December 23, 1879).
. . . watch in hand, and . . .
Peter Gay, Freud, Jews and Other Germans.
. . . looking at the timepiece . . .
H.G. Wells, The Time Machine.
. . . said in a highly ceremonious, serious tone, . . .
Peter Gay, Freud, Jews and Other Germans.
.
. . as if prearranged, . . .
Arnold Schoenberg, Survivor from Warsaw.
'You are ten minutes late! Unpunctuality is half infidelity! He who keeps others waiting is an egotist.'"
Peter Gay, Freud, Jews and Other Germans.
I must emphasize the fact that there was not a trace of personal jocularity or clownishness in his pose, manner, or behaviour. On the contrary, there was complete seriousness, an absence of any humorous appeal . . .
Thomas Mann, Mario and The Magician.
This little lecture over, Wagner in his normal voice asked Levi to go . . .
Peter Gay, Freud, Jews and Other Germans.
. . . up the stairs . . .
Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Strauss, Arabella.
. . . to his room and read a letter he had put on his table. Levi, as usual, obeyed. What he read was an anonymous denunciation from Munich entreating Wagner "to keep his work pure, and not allow a Jew to conduct it." In addition, the letter threw "suspicions" on Levi's "character" and his "relations to Wahnfried."

We know that these suspicions were the accusation that Hermann Levi was having an affair with Cosima Wagner. The charge was absurd, but talk of love affairs touched the Wagners at a sensitive spot.
Peter Gay, Freud, Jews and Other Germans.
Did Wagner for a moment look at both his wife, almost a quarter of a century his junior, and her special friend, the handsome, soulful Jew, two years younger, and, remembering her vagabond nocturnal habits at Villa Pellet, wonder whether he had finally been cast as . . .
Robert W. Gutman, Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind, and His Music.
. . . Poor Potiphar!
Thomas Mann, Joseph and His Brothers.
When Levi sat silent at lunch, "profoundly upset and indignant," Wagner, whose sadism was evidently not yet sated, asked him why he was being so quiet. Levi . . .
Peter Gay, Freud, Jews and Other Germans.
. . . holding out the letter . . .
Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Strauss, Arabella.
. . . replied that he could not understand why Wagner had not simply torn the libel up without showing it to him. Wagner's response was shrewd but is suspect: "If I had shown the letter to no one, had I destroyed it, perhaps something of it would have rankled within me. But now I can assure you that not the slightest memory will remain with me." Abreaction, we know, is a satisfying form of discharge; abreaction at the expense of another must have been doubly satisfying.
Peter Gay, Freud, Jews and Other Germans.
How did all this affect me? Any extensive comment would be superfluous and banal; I was, to put it tersely, enveloped in an aura of hatred and dismay.
Peter Gay, My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin.
It is, of course, rather more an observer’s than a participant’s tale
Lucy Beckett, Richard Wagner: Parsifal.
And yet the fact remains, . . .
Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
. . . I had the misfortune to witness such a scene.
Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years.
Paradoxically, my baggage of atrocious memories became a wealth, a seed . . .
Primo Levi, The Periodic Table.
. . . a motivation to create . . .
Albert Rothenberg, Creativity and Madness.
. . . and it seemed . . .
William Faulkner, Light in August (Chapter 19).
. . . it seemed to me that, by writing, I was growing like a plant.
Primo Levi, The Periodic Table.

4 comments:

Gary Freedman said...

Wagner's biographer Martin Gregor-Dellin movingly describes the day Wagner died.

Wagner rose late that morning and said to his servant Georg, "I need to take care of myself today."

Wagner and his wife Cosima had coffee together. They argued fiercely about Wagner's having invited the English soprano, Carrie Pringle -- one of the Flower Maidens in Parsifal -- to visit the Wagners in Venice.

Cosima went to the drawing room and played a song by Schubert, "In Praise of Tears."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQClBNjm62g

The Wagners' 13-year-old son, Siegfried, later said it was the first time he had ever heard his mother play the piano.

At about noon, Wagner told his guests to begin lunch without him; he was not feeling well.

Some time later, Wagner began ringing his bell loudly. He was having a heart attack. He said to the servant Georg, "The doctor--and my wife." Wagner's watch fell to the floor as he exclaimed, "My watch!" Those were his last words.

Wagner died shortly thereafter and was dead by the time Dr. Keppler arrived at about 3:00 PM.

Gary Freedman said...

Melanie Klein in her early work had written of undoing in terms of a kind of magical reparation: 'a tendency to undo harm and put objects to right magically'. Later, however, she would use it in terms of a kind of ego disintegration - 'a process of undoing, or what she called "a falling into bits"' - and it was in this latter, rather different sense of the term that later Kleinians would tend to use it: 'an invitation to dissolution and undoing...leaving the mental field open for enactment and horror'.

Gary Freedman said...

Some psychoanalysts believe that the ego defense of undoing is the chief ego defense of schizoids.

Gary Freedman said...

Alma Mahler, Gustav Mahler: Memories and Letters

I wonder if this is the book ghostwritten by Paul Frischauer?