[Marxism] Nietzsche's Encounters with Wagner

Shane Mage shmage at pipeline.com
Mon Oct 22 21:54:48 MDT 2007

Graham M qrote:
>    In 1997 I had the opportunity of researching and writing an essay on
>Nietzsche and Wagner, which is the one I have just submitted to Marxmail.
>I chose to focus on Nietzsche's musical interests.    I read the relevant
>texts, but I still would have to say that I don't have a very firm grasp of
>Nietzsche's broader philosophy, as I have not studied several of the most
>important works.

Graham, I think your essay would have benefitted from closer attention
to Wagner.  It is surely not coincidental that Nietzche "despised" the
Ring while Bernard Shaw (in "The Perfect Wagnerite") was able to see, for
example, that Das Rheingold adumbrates the Marxist analysis of Capitalism.
But Nietzche's rejection of Parsifal as "Christian" is what shows just
how much adolescent smartaleckiness there us in him--because "Parsifal"
is (and Wagner was clear on this) not Christian but Buddhist.  What
Christian would casually assume (as Gurnemanz does) the reality of
reincarnation?  What Christian (Francis of Asissi aside) would be in the
least disturbed by killing a swan? What Tantric Buddhist would fail to
see, in the sex-drenched Scene 2 of Act 2, the metaphor of Parsifal
seizing the flying spear and being transfigured at that very instant? And
above all, what is the place of "mitleid" (compassion), so central to
Buddhists, in the Christian scriptures (does the word occur there 
even once)?  His total failure to appreciate any of this surely is 
of Nietzche's theoretical superficiality.

Shane Mage

"When we read on a printed page the doctrine of Pythagoras that all 
things are made of numbers, it seems mystical, mystifying, even 
downright silly.

When we read on a computer screen the doctrine of Pythagoras that all 
things are made of numbers, it seems self-evidently true."  (N. 

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