Wagner in Bayreuth

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By ERNANI CHAVES*

Commentary on the fourth “Extemporaneous consideration” of Friedrich Nietzsche

“Fully warriors”. It was with this blunt, incisive expression that Nietzsche characterized, in the Ecce Homo (1888), the set of its four Extemporaneous considerations, written and published in a short period of time, between 1872 and 1875. With them, he continues, he would have proved not to be a romantic “João dreamer”, but someone who takes pleasure in contention, who enjoys “drawing his sword”.

However, Nietzsche carefully separates the spirit of this struggle, as presented in the first two and the last two. extemporaneous. In those, it is, from the title, a frontal attack, be it against the deviations of German culture, through a severe criticism of David Strauss, be it against the “historical sense”, recognized as a disease, as the intrusion of barbarism in the midst of culture. In these, in turn, the fight against these same aspects is carried out through two “images” of two extemporaneous types. ultimate, Schopenhauer and Wagner. To add, immediately afterwards, that these images, these types refer to only one person, neither Schopenhauer nor Wagner, but Nietzsche himself.

If we take these observations not just as the well-known effect of a “recurrence” that judges the past work by the state of thought in the present, but as an attentive and astute reading that Nietzsche makes of his own intellectual path, then we can make a reading of Wagner in Bayreuth that escapes the commonplace according to which this text would constitute, at its heart, a compliment, a kind of culmination of Wagner’s “idolatry” by Nietzsche, or even, the greatest of all tributes that Wagner received in life.

In this perspective, Nietzsche's break with Wagner is attributed to a single cause: the Christianity of the Parsifal. Even more: that the later criticisms are rhetorical effects, expressions of the resentment of Nietzsche himself, the frustrated musician, in such a way that the preference for Carmen de Bizet is attenuated, even disqualified, in all the planes in which it is placed, especially in the musical plane.

This does not mean that the praise, the exaltation of the figure of Wagner, there compared to Aeschylus, to Heraclitus, does not exist, or that the Bayreuth-project has not also seduced and fascinated Nietzsche as the possibility of a renewal (quite conservative in some aspects!) of German culture through the approximation between art and life or even between music and drama. It is not by chance that Schopenhauer and Wagner are considered as “images” and “types”, some might say as “characters”, with Nietzsche almost asking us to read the last two extemporaneous as if they formed a single work.

It is because he considers Wagner, above all, as an image and a type that Nietzsche can easily move from life to work and from work to life without succumbing to either psychologism (contrary to what Adorno sometimes thought) or the merely biographical account. chronological and illustrative. It is only as a figure and type that Nietzsche can speak of a “true life of Wagner, in which the dithyrambic dramatist is revealed little by little”. And this “true life” is not, in any way, a kind of sum between talent and genius, moral elevation and artistic sublimity, but “an incessant struggle with himself”, since Wagner himself harbored the contradictions denounced by his music and his writings. theorists.

What was Wagner's temptation, a temptation that always accompanied him? That, responds Nietzsche, which is expressed in a “dark personal will to power e glory, greedy and insatiable”. A kind of fatal attraction for the effects that drama can achieve. Hence the urgent need to continue on the paths opened by Beethoven, but which he did not follow to the end, that is, to insist much more on passion, on pathos, than in ethos. It was just Christianity Parsifal What distanced Nietzsche from Wagner or also the recognition that Beethoven's overcoming did not fully take place, as he, Nietzsche, had wished? This was not the next step Carmen, despite the Wagnerians of yesterday and today?

From my point of view, the necessary reading of Wagner in Bayreuth becomes much more interesting as the text ceases to be seen only as a kind of swan song of the “artist's metaphysics”, which initially guided Nietzsche's thought, but also as a text that is found on the threshold, in a kind of passage that leads us with some security to the other paths that Nietzsche, at this same time, is already treading in his thought. And if there was one thing in Wagner that Nietzsche really envied, it was undoubtedly his style, especially the writing about Beethoven. Wagner in Bayreuth, however, shows, from the first line to the last, that this envy no longer had any reason to exist.

Originally published in Jornal de Resenhas, no.o. 3, July 2009.

* Ernani Chaves He is a professor at the Faculty of Philosophy at UFPA. Author, among other books, of On the threshold of modern (Pakatatu).

 

Reference


Friedrich Nietzsche. Wagner in Bayreuth. Translation: Anna Hartmann Cavalcanti. Rio de Janeiro, Jorge Zahar, 180 pages.

 

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