Sunday, August 22, 2010

Atlantic City: Gazing Into The Eternal

All that lives, lives forever.
Only the shell, the perishable, passes away.
The spirit is without end, eternal, deathless.
--The Bhagavad Gita

I spent about two weeks in Atlantic City, New Jersey, from August 9-20, 2010.  In the late afternoons some days while on the beach, I used to gaze out at the ocean while listening to Wagner's opera Parsifal.  For me the music is perfect for the beach.  When you look at the ocean it is as if you gaze out into the eternal.  I have the same feeling listening to Parsifal, Wagner's last opera, completed in 1882, the year before Wagner died.

Parsifal, though overtly based on Christian myth, has hidden Hindu philosophic intentions. Years before writing Parsifal, Wagner had sketched a Hindu drama, The Victors, elements of which reappear in Parsifal.

In the end, however, Parsifal is not meant to be a religious work.  It is intended as a work of art that appropriates the myths of religion for aesthetic purposes.  Wagner wrote: "One could say that when religion becomes artificial it is for art to salvage the essence of religion by construing the mythical symbols which religion wants us to believe to be literal truth in terms of their figurative value, so as to let us see their profound hidden truth through idealized representation. Whereas the priest is concerned only that the religious allegories should be regarded as factual truths, this is of no concern to the artist, since he presents his work frankly and openly as his invention."


Gary Freedman said...

Message for the D.C. Court of Appeals: You will find in life that many trivial things that appear unrelated are, upon closer inspection, in fact related.

Gary Freedman said...

The conductor is Daniel Barenboim.