Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Significant Moments: On Sexuality, Religious Purity, and Terrorism

My book Significant Moments includes a section that discusses Wagner's composition of Parsifal, his final opera, completed in the year 1882.

This section of the book includes the following quotes that describe the psychoanalytical sophistication of the opera Parsifal, and includes as a subtext the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001.

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, 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).

The psychiatrist/psychoanalyst Norman Doidge, M.D. discusses the paradoxical issues of sexual indulgence and religious experience as they relate to the 9/11 terrorists in an essay titled The Terrorists and their Last-Night Temptresses, published in 2001.

Dr. Doidge is an expert in Schizoid Personality Disorder, which can feature asexuality (lack of interest in sexual relations with another person) combined with a preoccupation with masturbatory excess.

In a previous blog post (that refers to a paper by Dr. Doidge) I suggested that Wagner's Parsifal contains elements of schizoid fantasy.

1 comment:

Gary Freedman said...

As one of my old law professors would say, "It's all the same case."