File spoon-archives/nietzsche.archive/nietzsche_1995/nietzsche_Nov9.95, message 34

Date: Sat, 11 Nov 1995 16:46:04 -0800
Subject: Re: Music, Nietzsche, Rhythm

John B. Morgan wrote:

>If you are an active participant in the culture of the West in 1995, I
>challenge you to hold yourself up as an example of one free of decadent
>tastes. Wagnerism was a new concept in 1888. Today it is the norm. If you
>think you are free of the influence of Wagner, you are wrong. It is
>inescapable, apart from divorcing yourself from the whole of culture and
>society. Wagner was simply a primary symptom of the cultural trends which
>have since completely immersed western culture. Nietzsche still battles on,
>urging defiance, but he knew that the path that culture as a whole was on
>was inevitable. And, as Nietzsche himself said, there is no better way to
>understand these trends than to know Wagner. Simple dismissal is idiotic.

Well, it seems to me that I have been among those on the list
defending the notion that Nietzsche's views on decadence, progress,
democracy, modernism, etc., that is, virtually the whole of his
"polemics," are _deeply_ ironical, while more usually you have been
stressing the opposite, more "hard-line," shall we say, point of view.
One cannot understand Nietzsche's views on decadence without
understanding his views on Wagner.  There can be little doubt that he
considered Wagner as a _paragon_ of decadence, virtually the decadent
_of_ decadents, or, as I put it, the "Compleat Decadent."
Nonetheless, Nietzsche never ceased referring to himself as, at most,
a reformed or recovering decadent, nor did he ever cease referring to
Wagner as both a great artist and musician.  He definitely considered
him to be one of his "higher men."  But also, I'm sure, human, all too

Of course, "music of the future burgers" is both a play off of
Wagner's "music of the future" and "bourgeoisie," partially to correct
my prior statement that Wagner was appealing to the masses when, in
fact, he was making his appeal to the burgers, i.e., the bourgeoisie.
Although Leni Riefenstahl did make rather effective use of his music
to score her movies.  Also, note the ironic contrast between Wagner's
"music of the future" and Nietzsche's "philosophy of the future."

Can't we have any fun around here anymore?

            Steven E. Callihan --

            "Some lies are so well disguised to resemble truth, 
      that we should be poor judges of the truth not to believe them."

                           --La Rochefoucauld


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