TODAY'S the 200th anniversary of Richard Wagner. He's #3 in Charles Murray's list of classical composers compiled in Human Accomplisment. But he's probably #1 on the list of most-hated composers.
That would partly be due to his anti-semitism. And partly due to the fact that he wrecked the good old opera formula of recitative followed by beautiful songs.
But really, he upended music as a whole. The best way to understand this is to listen to a movie (while you watch it). It was Wagner that invented that kind of music, setting the tone of the movie, telling you in the feeling in sound of what is going on visually and what you should feel about it.
Wagner always lived the spirit of the age. He was a Romantic, then a lefty revolutionary, then a Schopenhauerian pessimist. And he did his best to bring all that out in his music.
This sort of thing infuriated the purists. He took the Nordic myths about power struggles between the gods and turned it into a drama about power, duty, and love. He took the Arthurian Tristan and made it all about sex. He took Eschenbach's Parzival and made him into a post-aristocratic post-Christian upper-class ascetic.
That points up the main thing to know about Wagner. He requires total surrender. Think the opera is too slow? Too long? Too chromatic? Too improbable? Too bad.
My own relationship with Wagner began in the 1970s. My wife had asked me to get tickets to the Flying Dutchman and Mr. Skinflint didn't do it. But I got an LP of the Dutchman from the library and was blown over. Not by the singing, but by the Prelude, which is an astonishing impressionistic piece that evokes wind and storm. The story is about Senta's sacrifice of love. All heroines in Wagner sacrifice themselves for love.
Wouldn't you know, by the time I actually got season tickets to the opera, Director Glynn Ross in Seattle was mobilizing for a full Ring cycle for the centenary Ring year of 1976. So I got to go to Der Ring des Nibelungen, the whole thing.
People ask: how can you sit through four nights of opera, and long operas at that. The answer, of course, is that going to the Ring is a ritual, and rituals are supposed to be boring; they are supposed to force you to get rid of your monkey mind and surrender to the experience. It is, if you like, a form of meditation.
At the end of the Ring, after the end of Götterdämmerung, you know you have experienced one of the great aesthetic experiences known to man. That is why the Ring is so popular, even though Wagner's music is so challenging.
What about the bad parts, the anti-semitism? Wagner was undoubtedly a minor monster. He aligned his life completely with the various spirits of the age. And one of them was anti-semitism. When the Jews were released from their ghettos in Germany in the 19th century they exploded into the economy and the culture with a power that frightened lots of people. Kinda like the way that liberals are terrified of conservatives and Christians. Where do these people come from?
But like it or not, Richard Wagner was a musical genius, and after Wagner music will never be the same.
IT'S lucky that liberals never have to look at themselves in a mirror, and never have to listen to their hate speech. Because what liberals do is an utter betrayal of what they say they believe. They say that everything they do is for the little people. But they don't have a problem siccing the IRS on the little people of the Tea Party. They say that dissent is the highest form of ...
ONE of the underappreciated facts about the Tea Party movement is that women have been in the vanguard. And they started organizing in the fall of 2008. We're supposed to believe that all women are Democrats. But Keli Carender (@LiberTBelle), who started the Tea Party here in the Seattle area, is a graduate of Oxford, a teacher and sometime actor. Doesn't fit the profile. And of course many...
IN a thumb-sucker about the managerial shortcomings of the Obama White House, John Fund surfaces the worries of Democrats, that "chaotic implementation" of Obamacare could "could become the biggest political liability Democrats will face in next year’s midterm elections." Don't set your sights too high, Mr. Fund. How about: the train wreck of Obamacare implementation could result in the ...
I dare say that, after a month of two of denial, liberal pundits will start asking: How could this happen to good people like us? Let me help. The answer is simple. Racists, sexists, bigots and homophobes. No, I don't mean that racists, sexists, bigots and homophobes did this to you. I mean that liberal politics, which marginalizes anyone that disagrees with the liberal ruling class as a ...
SOMETIMES I have to agree with liberals. The writers of the US Constitution were living in another age. They just could not foresee how things would change and make the constitution obsolete.
Take the First Amendment and the Jefferson corollary. The whole idea of preventing an "establishment of religion" and enforcing a separation between church and state is just so 18th century, darling.
Because now the problem is the establishment of secular religion.
There's a British chappie who has penned a conventional-wisdom book about the decline of religion. In God is Dead: secularization in the West, Steve Bruce argues that people are just less interested in religion. He writes:
I expect the proportion of people who are largely indifferent to religious ideas to increase and the seriously religious to become a small minority.Of course, if you define religion narrowly as "believing in a transcendent God" Bruce's attitude might be partly right, although the Islamists would disagree. But if we are talking broadly about ideas and communities and rituals in which people construct a faith about the meaning of life and what to do about it, then Steve Bruce is bound to be completely wrong.
A great irony of our modern era is that at exactly the same time that the Cartesian-Newtonian world-view was emerging the anti-systemic capitalist culture was emerging as well. On the one hand you had the billiard ball determinism of Newtonian mechanics. On the other hand you had the infinite complexity of the market process. So why do we talk about the free-market "system", the price "system...
A while back I took a look at "Marx's Five Big Mistakes," five big things that Karl Marx got wrong. I mean things like the immiseration of the working class, the alienation of workers by the division of labor, the labor theory of value, the idea that bureaucracy would wither away under socialism, and that people would abandon the division of labor under socialism. But then I got to wondering...
IF you are a conservative or Republican, chances are that you are a member in good standing of the People of the Responsible Self. Nothing remarkable here. The Responsible Self was invented during the Axial Age, according to Robert Bellah. The idea developed that humans were not simply the helpless chattels of the gods but individuals, responsible before God for their lives. It's the ...
A New Manifesto
A spectre is haunting the liberal elitethe spectre of conservatism.
The Crisis of the Administrative State
It wasnt supposed to be like this.
Government and the Technology of Power
If you scratch a social reformer, you will likely discover a plan for more government.
Business, Slavery, and Trust
Business is all about trust and relationship.
Freebooters and Freeloaders
The modern welfare state encourages freeloaders.
The Bonds of Faith
No society known to anthropology or history lacked religion.
A Critique of Social Mechanics
The problem with human society reduced to system.
From Multitude to Civil Society
The larger the government, the smaller the society.
The Answer is Civil Society
In between the separated powers.
The Greater Separation of Powers
If you want to limit power then you must limit power.
Conservatism Three by Three
Conservatism, political, economics, and cultural.
The Culture of Involvement
Imagining lives without the welfare state
The Poor Without the Welfare State
Can the poor thrive without the welfare state?
The Middle Class Without The Welfare State
How would the middle class live without all those middle-class entitlements?
The Real Meaning of Society
Broadening the horizon of cooperation in the last best hope of man on earth.
Andrew Coulson, Market Education
How universal literacy was achieved before government education
Carl Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic
How we got our education system
James Tooley, The Miseducation of Women
How the feminists wrecked education for boys and for girls
James Tooley, Reclaiming Education
How only a market in education will provide opportunity for the poor
E.G. West, Education and the State
How education was doing fine before the government muscled in
Hernando De Soto, The Mystery of Capital
How ordinary people in the United States wrote the law during the 19th century
F. A. Hayek, Law Legislation and Liberty, Vol 1
How to build a society based upon law
Henry Maine, Ancient Law
How the movement of progressive peoples is from status to contract
John Zane, The Story of Law
How law developed from early times down to the present
James Bartholomew, The Welfare State We're In
How the welfare state makes crime, education, families, and health care worse.
David Beito, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State
How ordinary people built a sturdy social safety net in the 19th century
David Green, Before Beveridge: Welfare Before the Welfare State
How ordinary people built themselves a sturdy safety net before the welfare state
Theda Skocpol, Diminished Democracy
How the US used to thrive under membership associations and could do again
David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry
How modern freemasonry got started in Scotland
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
How Christianity is booming in China
Finke & Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
How the United States grew into a religious nation
Robert William Fogel, The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism
How progressives must act fast if they want to save the welfare state
David Martin, Pentecostalism: The World Their Parish
How Pentecostalism is spreading across the world
After a year of President Obama most Americans understand that the nation is on the wrong track. But how do we find the right track? Americans knew thirty years ago that liberalism was a busted flush. Yet Reaganism and Bushism seemed to be less than the best answer.
But where can we turn? Where are the thinkers and activists of the old days? Where do we find the best ideas? And how do we persuade our present ruling class to loosen its grip on power so that we can move the locomotive of state back onto the right track?
With all of our problems it seems like the worst of times.
In fact, this is the best of times. Under the radar a generation of great thinkers have been figuring out what went wrong and conjuring up visions of a better future. This book, "An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism" is an introduction to their ideas, and to the great future that awaits an America willing to respond to their call.
Although this book is addressed to all Americans, conservative, moderate, and liberal, and looks to a nation that transcends our present partisan divide, I must tell you that liberals will have the most difficulty with the book. The reason is simple. I am asking liberals to give up a lot of the power they have amassed in the last century. But we are all Americans, and we must all give up something for the sake of the greater good.
I am Christopher Chantrill and I am writing this book in full view. I'll be blogging on the process and the ideas, and I'll be asking you, dear readers, to help. Read the blog. Read the articles as they come out on American Thinker and ponder over the draft chapters here on this site.
Then send me your reactions, your thoughts, and your comments. You will help more than you know.
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier.
Gen. Hans von Seeckt, quoted in MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050.
For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008
Imagining that all order is the result of design, socialists
conclude that order must be improvable by better design of some superior mind.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
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