Wagner Forgotten? Not Anymore!


Glory to the all-knowing Alain Badiou! Who would have thought that Wagner could make a come back? I mean, sure, there’s a new production of Das Rheingold at the Met that everyone’s raving about and, yes, yes, Wagner’s operas have been performed all over the world in an almost non-stop manner in the last 100 years or so, but that is clearly not enough to “rehabilitate” the old man – we must have a book from Alain Badiou!

A leading radical intellectual tackles the many controversial interpretations of Wagner’s work. For over a century, Richard Wagner’s music has been the subject of intense debate among philosophers, many of whom have attacked its ideological—some say racist and reactionary—underpinnings. In this major new work, Alain Badiou, radical philosopher and keen Wagner enthusiast, offers a detailed reading of the critical responses to the composer’s work, which include Adorno’s writings on the composer and Wagner’s recuperation by Nazism as well as more recent readings by Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and others. Slavoj Zizek provides an afterword, and both philosophers make a passionate case for re-examining the relevance of Wagner to the contemporary world.

Can’t wait to read it and re-examine Wagner’s works…

5 thoughts on “Wagner Forgotten? Not Anymore!

  1. I’m sure it’ll be all the usual philosophy-discovers-that-music-is-also-interesting condescending nonsense. Even Zizek’s “Opera’s Second Death” essay that he somewhere said he considered some of his best work was mostly about Wagner’s libretti, not really his music as such. So I wouldn’t hold my breath for Badiou’s book…

  2. Zizek’s “Opera’s Second Death” essay that he somewhere said he considered some of his best work was mostly about Wagner’s libretti, not really his music as such.

    I would imagine that his assessment was correct, even if his work on the libretti was undistinguished. Zizek writing on music? Nothing can be worse, and he’s DONE IT TOO!

    • Oh yes, now it comes back, that 2000 edition of Angelaki, when he wrote about ‘Tristan und Isolde’. Yes, the libretto, messieurs, he wrote about the libretto, to paraphrase Mrs. Robinson.

      And lo, it was not good.

      I personally see it as having led to OOO, because it was supposed to make the young lovers’ experiment in wholeness painful, unlike the ‘realist type of person’ he is, who learns to settle. In fact, I see this article as appalling, and one which is guilty of having harmed as many people as read it, at least temporarily. But when I read Mikhail’s mention of his ‘writing about Wagner’s libretti’, I didn’t even remember at first that I’d read any. Obviously so powerful it had ‘become a part of my very being’. Yes, I totally resent Zizek’s article on ‘Tristan und Isolde’. It is as destructive as he was when he wrote about the ‘dominant virtual’, as if it had already taken over and people living up there without having to come down–when actually, you have to go through a trendy ‘young-person cellphone pose’ period before you can yawn up the hyperreal without a safety net.

      • I think Wagner’s stories are dumb (for the most part), but I do like the music (mostly the whole business of Leitmotif, that’s really something innovative). I’ll admit openly that I don’t even remember most of the twists and turn of The Ring and who killed who and why and why slept with whom, but I know people who are really into the story. My main Wagner-related sentiment, in addition to his music, is that he was not a very insightful writer about music, I think. So even if he was not a nasty scheming anti-Semite (we still remember Mendelsohn whom Wagner hated, but we’ve forgotten about Meyerbeer, Wagner’s operatic competition).

        But if we paid attention to all the personal squabbles of great composers, it would be impossible to enjoy their music, me thinks…

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