Dr. Satoshi Akima latest Wagnerian Blast is as passionate and eloquent
as anything he has previously given us. Sad to say, I found much of it
impenetrable - but I understood enough to feel the heat of his withering
scorn, focused on myself as The Enemy, delivered in a tone of personal
invective of which The Master himself would have been proud.
I suppose I ought to be penitent as Dr Akima arraigns me for lurid sexual
prurience, unhealthy obsession with anti-semitism, neo-Nazi racism, and -
worst crime of all - for daring to argue that some bits of "The Ring"
function as comic relief. In truth his ghastly solemnity only succeeds in
making me smile, until I ponder the likely level of his blood-pressure.
As I have said before, and do not wish to say again, he is most welcome
to his hard-won views. Where the Doctor's fundamentalist insistence on a
Schopenhaurian interpretation of "The Ring" loses its grasp on reality, is
in his vehement attacks on anyone who questions whether his own Article of
Faith really negates the need for any further serious examination of
Wagner's operas, from any other standpoint - be it political,
psychological, dramatic or theatrical.
The important thing is to examine what lies under his welter of words - or
rather what doesn't. Yet again, he fails to assuage my curiousity on the
basic point, as to how far all this myopic theorising is supported by
experience in the one place that really matters - the theatre.
Alas, about all we get on that score is one Pooterish remark, as he
chuckles away at Pablo Massa's joky response to my description of the
recent, highly successful ENO "Parsifal":
>>>"Parsifal" is not an 'expression' of anything.The question of racial
>>>superiority is undeniably part of its disturbing web and woof. In the
>>>reality of the theatre - the most potent way to experience the opera -
>>>the Grail Knights are often currently portrayed that way, so the image
>>>must carry resonance for many. (The recent production at ENO
>>>in London portrayed them as broken down First World War German
>>>soldiers, to extremely powerful effect.)
>>May this extremely powerful effect be laughter, perhaps?. I didn't see
>>that production, but honestly, I can't think of anything more bizarre.
>>That sort of neo-pagans looking for the Holy Grail with their gas masks,
>>fumigating half Europe...?
>I am glad to see that the ridiculousness of Christopher Webber's
>subtextually based perversions are blatantly obvious to others. It was
>Nietzsche who said it was better to kill with laughter than with violence.
>And I found Pablo's comments just hilarious!
I didn't feel Pablo Massa's dig warranted any response at all. After
all, he didn't see the production, or feel its impact at first hand. His
statement that the Knights are "looking for the Holy Grail" suggests he's
rather hazy about the plot anyway - the Order already have it, Mr Massa,
they've just lost the ability to do anything with it, because their Chief
has had sex with a semitic witch. Oh well, the music's lovely ...
That Dr Akima found Pablo's innocent sniping so "hilarious", tells us
something about his sense of humour, but far more about his inability to
allow any emotional or intellectual leverage to the play of theatrical
Luckily, the rest of us are free to give rein to our "subtextually based
perversions" - that is, to be stimulated and moved, to laughter as well
as tears, by Wagner's art in the theatre, as "perverted" by sincere,
imaginative and intelligent artists. Personally, give me Wieland Wagner
in preference to Dr Akima any day!
Christopher Webber, Blackheath, London, UK.