Whatever would we do without PC culture to judge the recent past (last 200 years) for us and then share its verdict of guilty based on the precious shell which has been slowly swallowing culture for the several years? I say we would make more progress, and in a much healthier way, without it.
There are a few articles currently making the rounds on my Google app. One is about Wagner being put on trial at the Bayreuth Festival. The other articles are about hate speech and yellowface. We’ll get to those in due time.
The Bayreuth trial is a production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg which places part of the show in the courtroom of the 1945 Nürnberg trials. The production is supposed to be putting Wagner on trial to explore just how far his anti-semitism went. Wagner himself is portrayed in the production. There is also a huge paper-mache head.
I cannot wait for paper-mache heads to fall out of fashion. Stop with the cartoon images and present a truthful performance.
How often do we have to go down this path? Whenever someone wants to appear insightful they head on over to the trailhead of Wagner’s anti-semitism and what do we get from from it? We get yet another tired sermon which has no application to the lives of anyone consuming the product. It’s lazy.
There are legitimate concerns in our current world when it comes to anti-semitism, but Wagner’s anti-semitism isn’t one of them. As I wrote earlier this summer, “the Jewish question” was not the defining question of Wagner’s art.
Having grown up admiring Jewish culture and history I needed to be told that Wagner was anti-semitic. I did not experience it in his music or the stories of his operas. I had to be carefully taught. “Oh my dear innocent young man, you thought Wagner was about the ennoblement of humanity through art? No, no. Wagner is about hating Jews. They are not allowed to be part of the ennoblement according to Wagner.”
Guess what. Wagner doesn’t get to decide that.
“But he said we couldn’t play.”
People, he’s dead, and I say everyone gets to play. I have just as much authority on the subject as Wagner does at this point.
Oh wait, not everyone wants to play, do they? Some want to continue picking the Wagnerian scab. Why look to be ennobled when we can feel bad and guilty and instead?
This sentiment that we should feel bad and guilty about the errors of past generations is the most ridiculous and harmful concept currently going. We should feel about and guilty about the errors of our current situation and do whatever we can to correct them.
Putting Wagner “on trial”, at this point, isn’t doing anything for anyone. You may want to bring up the way Meistersinger concludes with a monologue about the sacredness of German art. Isn’t that dangerous? Yes.
Wagner was a German nationalist. Verdi was an Italian nationalist, Dvorak was a Czech nationalist, Elgar was a British nationalist. It should be noted that none of these men had any traditional political influence.
Even so, the conclusion of all this nationalism played itself out in two world wars. Nationalism is a legitimate danger when it goes unchecked. Take out the horrors of systematic genocide in Germany and Russia and rampant nationalism still destroys complete generations.
We continue to be stuck in Nazi propaganda, which is 70 years old. We continue to validate the power of the putrid culture they championed. To what end? It’s time to take Wagner back from National Socialism.