Tagebuch Sonntag, 20. September 2020 – Can’t adult today

So schrieb es F., als es um ein Treffen ging: I can’t adult today. Ging mir ähnlich, daher: Auszeit von allem genommen. Nicht am Schreibtisch gewesen, Ablage ignoriert, Vorhaben verschoben. Alle sechs Folgen von Das letzte Wort mit Anke Engelke auf Netflix geschaut und sehr gemocht. Sport getrieben, Croissants aufgetaut und genossen, mich über Himbeermarmelade gefreut und ewig am NYT-Kreuzworträtsel gebastelt, bei dem ich mir von der Autocheck-Funktion sehr helfen lassen musste, die einem auf Wunsch sofort anzeigt, ob ein eingetragener Buchstabe stimmt. Abends die Eagles nebenbei laufen lassen, um mich F. geistig ein bisschen näher zu fühlen, aber dauernd dabei weggenickt und halbwegs früh ins Bett gegangen.

Immerhin noch einen schönen Text von Alex Ross (2011) gelesen, den mir der Newsletter des New Yorkers vorgeschlagen hatte. Dort geht es vordergründig um zehn Takte Musik aus der Walküre, aber dann doch um das große Ganze.

„When I first tried to listen to Wagner, in my teens, I took a sullen adolescent satisfaction in the brassy highlights of the “Ring,” but I thought that noise was all there was. Only when I saw the entire cycle at the Met, in the mustily evocative old production by Otto Schenk, did I realize how many strands of human tension Wagner contains, and I began coming to terms with him, following a well-worn intellectual path. The usual way to write about Wagner is to proceed from the world-historical level, musing on some combination of Aeschylus, the Icelandic sagas, Shakespeare, “Faust,” Beethoven’s Ninth, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, George Bernard Shaw, Theodor Herzl, Adolf Hitler, “Apocalypse Now,” and Bugs Bunny. It is an absorbing game, although at the end of the day it leaves little space for the music, which is the ultimate source of the spell that Wagner continues to cast upon the world. […]

Recently, I decided to look closely at one of those miniaturist moments: a short passage in “Walküre,” at the end of the first scene of Act II. It comes at a crucial juncture in the “Ring.” At the outset of the act, with the Valkyrie motif blaring in the orchestra, Wotan is plotting to regain the all-powerful ring that the dwarf lord Alberich forged from magic gold in “Das Rheingold.” In the final scene of that work, Wotan took the ring from Alberich and then reluctantly surrendered it to a pair of giants, as compensation for the building of Valhalla. The treaties etched on Wotan’s spear prevent him from reneging on the deal, but he believes that he has found a loophole: with a mortal woman, he has sired Siegmund, who, acting independently of his father’s will, can win back the ring. Enter the goddess Fricka, Wotan’s embittered wife. She picks apart his scheme […]

I’ve loved the passage as long as I’ve known the “Ring.” Each time I hear the opera, I wait for it, and try to grasp it as it unfurls. It seems to communicate some essential wisdom that the characters cannot put into words. So I dug into those ten bars—studying the score, reading the literature, talking to musicians—in the hope of gaining a perspective that might elude me if I started with Antigone or Colonel Kilgore. There are, of course, no final answers in the “Ring,” a behemoth that whispers a different secret into every listener’s ear. But I suspect that Willa Cather, in her operatic novel “The Song of the Lark,” was onto something when she had her heroine say, “Fricka knows.” […]

Wagner’s music is marked by a constant tension between a will to power and a willingness to surrender. The contradiction is not one that we should seek to resolve; rather, it is integral to the survival of the composer’s work. Because we can no longer idealize Wagner, he is more involving than ever. […] “All things, all things, all things I know,” Brünnhilde says in her final monologue, without quite divulging what she has learned. The perennial trouble with Wagner is that he creates ambiguity and certitude in equal measure. His music somehow instills a sense of knowing all, each listener utterly sure of his or her response. No artist is more fanatically loved or more fanatically hated; few people think that Wagner is merely pretty good. Ultimately, the bond that he forms with his listeners is one of pure, wordless emotion, and his gift for capturing the nuances of human feeling constantly complicates our response—as when that great rising melody for Fricka darkens at the top and then vanishes from the world.“

Ich mag Ross sehr und lese so ziemlich alles von ihm im New Yorker. Sein neues Buch WAGNERISM: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music erscheint übrigens am 17. November auf Deutsch.