Tag Archives: Der Ring des Niebelungen

Lawless Love: New Orleans Mardi Gras and Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Niebelungen….Can Civilization survive a merger? On Lundi Gras, the Ancient Krewe of Proteus tested the waters….

In 2017, Mardi Gras in New Orleans yields gigantic piles of trash, poisons thousands with excessive alcohol, and fosters a welfare oriented and sometimes criminal mentality, yet it is a uniquely community affirming ritual that nearly shuts down this medium-sized city and draws the attention of the rest of the world.  Mardi Gras allows (especially a lot of black) people an escape from the humdrum of poverty and ordinary life.  Like the Saturnalia of Ancient Rome, Mardi Gras is a time of reversal, an inversion of all the rules. 

In the years 1843-1883, Richard Wagner broke all the rules of music and theatre and made new ones, many of which we still follow in playhouses and cinemas and opera houses today (such as “dimming the lights” before and during a performance, which was a brand new idea in Wagner’s day).  Wagner equated hatred of Jews with love of art and civilization, especially music, and in so doing (and writing prolifically about it) he served as an inspiration for the German National Socialist movement, especially one Iron-Cross winning corporal who survived “the Great War”: Adolf Hitler.  

This year the Krewe of Proteus (founded 1881) brought Mardi Gras madness and Wagnerian passion together in a torchlight parade…. and the result was stunning and extremely impressive, if not quite terribly loyal to the plot or typical imagery of the operas.  But Proteus gave us an amazingly intellectual interlude in the utter squalor and depravity of most Mardi Gras events…. and one which surely went over the head of (I would estimate, unscientifically) more than 95% of the people assembled along Magazine Street and St. Charles Avenue Monday Night.

The parade received SOME local attention, e.g.: http://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/entertainment_life/festivals/article_be5d1948-d9bb-11e6-ad6b-4faaff249cf7.html, but well-over half of this town speaks a dialectical variety of English which cannot be called “educated”…. and the rest of the population isn’t overly steeped in European culture—the original Opera House (the first in the United States) at the corner of Toulouse and Bourbon Street, burned down in 1919 and is now the site of a modern hotel in the absolutely most depraved and degenerate blocks of Bourbon Street…. several blocks of which constitute one of the most depraved and degenerate (and dirty) “micro-neighborhoods” anywhere in the United States… I have written before on these pages about the destruction and degradation of beautiful New Orleans after 1865, and especially in the 20th century.  The City had reached its pinnacle in 1860…..and then a very destructive war happened….

But if one is the pinnacle or Zenith of all things Elite and Erudite in Western Civilization and the other marks the Nadir or even polar opposite of high civilization, what do “Der Ring des Niebelungen” and New Orleans Mardi Gras have in common?

Actually quite a bit: both exalt what can only be called “Lawlessness”, especially in the realm of love and sex…

To start off with, Wotan, in Wagner’s Ring, like his Ancient Greek Counterpart Zeus, can only be called a “philandering cad”…. I know this would be considered an insult in many quarters, but it is, statistically speaking, quite a “Godlike” or “Kingly” trait… and I confess I’ve lived that way myself for most of my existence…. although I can claim neither Divinity nor Royalty….  Wagner’s Wotan is a tragic character…. he is adventurous, generally idealistic, and seeks to build a beautiful new world (Valhalla).  And yet dies as he watches his world destroyed around him….by a fire set by his daughter….well, actually a fire set by ONE of his many daughters (Brunhilde) by Erda, ONE of Wotan’s many girlfriends/paramours/liasons… whatever it is proper for the King of the Gods to call his mistresses…. (Sidebar: in the original Icelandic and Norse sagas and tales, Erda (aka “Jörð” was the mother of the thunder and hammer God THOR with Wotan, not the Valkyrie Brunhilde….)

Aside from Wotan and Erde, Wotan also fathers the lineage which ultimately overthrows him—the Walsunga….first a male-female pair of twins, Siegmund and Sieglinde, who are separated in early childhood and meet once Sieglinde is married to a very beastly, babbitty, bourgeois bore by the name of Hunding….  “Naturally” or unnaturally, Siegmund and Sieglinde rapidly become an item one Spring AFTER (not in spite of, but because of) recognizing each other as long-lost siblings, and they have a child.  (Wotan’s wife Fricka, the goddess of Marriage [NOT love, but marriage] compels Wotan to kill Siegmund to avenge Hunding’s loss of his wife…. and Wotan’s daughter….to Wotan’s son…. talk about conflicts of interest, you know…. NO modern lawyer would ever know what to do with the Walsung estate…. IF Brunhilde’s immolation had left anything, which it didn’t….

Siegmund and Sieglinde’s lovechild….(Sieglinde dies in childbirth)….is SIEGFRIED… destined to become the boy who knew no fear… the Dragonslayer… and, not coincidentally, Brunhilde’s “POSSLQ”…. at least for a while….

Now any competent sociologist will tell you that families JUST LIKE WOTAN’s typify the underclasses everywhere, as well as the extreme upper classes (e.g. the British monarchy). But especially dysfunctional families are well-known as characteristic of the black community….in Chicago, South Central Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and New Orleans, and these are the families who most enjoy watching and trashing the Mardi Gras parades.

A substantial number of middle-class to upper class and truly, traditionally, elite Uptown New Orleans White Families and a lot of middle class white tourists from Peoria, Princeton (Illinois), Paris (Texas), Portland, Poughkeepsie, Punksetawny, and every other real or imagined “Pottersville” (cf. “It’s a Wonderful Life”)…. create some illusion of “racial balance,” or at least “diversity.”  But the overwhelming majority of the parade viewers on the street, “throw collectors” and Mardi Gras celebrants generally are mulatto (mixed race) and black African-Americans….and their culture clearly does not have any credal element that dictates “Cleanliness is Godliness.”

So the Krewe of Proteus has done something amazing…. they have made a brilliant parade out of the operatic tetralogy that inspired the Third Reich, and all its dreams of a thousand years of racial purity and Aryan supremacy…. and brought it to New Orleans where almost nobody understands it or “gets” anything about it.

Why did they (the Krewe of Proteus) do it and what does it mean?  “The Advocate” states that Proteus has a long tradition of operatic support….but this just isn’t enough.  Proteus was founded when Richard Wagner was still alive (albeit near the end of his life… within a year of the date that Wagner’s last opera Parsifal premiered on July 26, 1882, at the Festspielhaus in beloved Bayreuth….)…

All I can promise you is that I intend to find out…. And write more about this when I have more to report…. I confess I have a suspicion, a hope perhaps, that Krewe of Proteus is sending a highly concealed “Alt-Right” message that the same kind of elite which formerly ruled the West is still alive, and well, and hiding in New Orleans, biding its time for an opportunity to seize power once again…. in the land of pioneering “Third Way” Americans like Huey Long and Gerald L.K. Smith…..

March 23—THE DATE to Remember Patrick Henry in 1775, but today ( March 23 2013) it’s been 30 Years Since Ronald W. Reagan’s Star Wars, 15 Years since James Cameron “I’m King of the World” announcement after winning Oscar for Titanic…in 1945 the British “Black Watch” Crossed the Rhein….in 1925 Tennessee outlawed the teaching of Evolution

Of all these events in the 20th Century, I remember the last two most clearly.  While Ronald Reagan’s “StarWars” Speech in 1983 was inspiring and uplifting (even as I listened to it over the one and only well-functioning TV then extant in the general neighborhood of Chichén Itzá, Yucatán in the lobby of the Hotel Mayaland, though I was living across the street at Edward H. Thompson’s old Hacienda….), James Cameron’s “I’m King of the World” arrogance has always stuck in my mind as the single most obnoxious Academy Award acceptance speech I ever was sufficiently unfortunate as to have listened to (and I listened to that one from Casa del Mar on Seawall & 60th in Galveston, Texas).  Now, fortunately, Cameron’s obnoxious speech never really hurt anybody, no matter how much of an anal orifice he proved himself to be.

But, by contrast, Ronald W. Reagan’s Star Wars (aka “Strategic Defense Initiative”) could be called the end of even the MYTH of limited constitutional government in the United States.  Reagan on this date announced, authorized, initiated, and launched the most TRULY offensive program of Corporate Welfare in World History, without real immediate consequence but VERY intimidating to the rest of the world.  The Strategic Defense Initiative gave Reagan the excuse all neocons wanted to turn his platform of fiscal responsibility and limited government on its head.  The greatest irony of Star Wars was that it was such an impractical, impossibly theoretical plan for military development, that the primary beneficiaries were University Communities—where billions and billions in research money were poured into the neighborhoods of places like Harvard University, University of California at Berkeley, the University of Texas, and Stanford, so that (in effect) Reagan bribed all the academics who normally and nominally would have opposed him to support his excesses of spending and enlarging the U.S. Government through the most reckless economic programs ever in World History…. Star Wars, gave a huge boost to the “peri-academic” research communities around Boston Loop 128, Silicon Valley, and along the unimaginatively renamed “Research Boulevard” (Highway 183) in Austin, all of which might have remained stunted or even stillborn without Reagan (the great enemy of Welfare for the Poor) granting open ended credit as welfare to the Rich….

On March 23 in 1919—two major events took place which would shape the 20th Century: the Bolshevik (Soviet Communist) Central Committee or Politburo formed in Moscow, while on the same day Benito Mussolini organized the Fascist Party in Milan, Italy and took the reigns as its leader.  

As the memorial of “days that will live in infamy” goes, those were petty benign compared with 30 years earlier when U.S. President Benjamin Harrison opened up Oklahoma to the “Sooners” who lined up at the state borders and raced to stake their claims, thereby closing “the last frontier” in the lower 48 states anyhow (and obliterating the last of even the very modest concessions to the dispossessed Five Civilized Tribes of the American South, 55 years after the Trail of Tears from Georgia & Alabama through Mississippi and Arkansas…. or 1868 when the University of California at Berkeley was founded…. (ok, maybe that date wasn’t all THAT infamous…. but Berkeley for a while was certainly the center of that great Countercultural movement which took place in the 1960s…. from which America and the World have never really recovered….). 

March 23 was a great day in Streetcar history (I’m writing this while seated by the window at the Trolley Stop Café at 1923 St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans 70130).  In 1937 the Los Angeles Railway Co. started using PCC Streetcars (Presidents’ Conference Committee, replacing the famous old “Red and Yellow Cars” which once defined the Southern California landscape, from the time of Henry E. Huntingdon in 1901—-the LA Railway Co. finally went out of existence in 1958….in the wake of the ecologically and socially disastrous triumph of General Motors and the “car culture”). 

But forty years before Huntingdon’s trains started running in Los Angeles, in 1861, London began running its legendary tramcars, designed by the appropriately named “Mr. Train” of New York…. by some transportation history coincidence in 1922 the first airplane landed at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., while the streetcar itself was patented on this date in 1858 by E.A. Gardner of Philadelphia—the first U.S. Patent ever was issued was granted on this date to Joseph G. Pierson for a Riveting Machine….

In 1806 March 23 was the date when Lewis & Clark arrived on the Pacific Coast, the final goal of their epic voyage which began two years earlier in Saint Louis….

On March 23, 1808, Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother, became King of Spain—the Bonapartist dynasty just didn’t last very long, especially in Spain….it was a dud….for better or for worst…

But from the standpoint of this Blog, of Deo Vindice and Tierra Limpia, the most important March 23 in world history was surely 1775, when Patrick Henry declared “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” at Saint John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia. 

In terms of musical culture, the highlight of this date was in 1743 when Georg Friedrich Handel’s Messiah premiered in London (a second “premier”—the original performance having been in Dublin, Ireland….).  Handel is an inspiration to those of us who aspire to be “late bloomers” in life.  In 1743 Handel was 58, five years older than I am now, having been born on 23 February 1685, with only 16 years left to his life (he died on 14 April 1759).  To me, Handel’s Messiah is the most inspiring major “operatic” kunstwerk/work of music prior to Wagner’s first “Wagnerian” opera Der Fliegende Hollander which premiered a century later (in Dresden in 1843), even if Handel’s was not “gesammt”.   As magnificent, innovative, and stirring as Mozart’s Magic Flute and Don Giovanni surely are, or Beethoven’s symphonies, I think that a real connexion can be made between the compositionally epic scale of the Messiah and Der Ring des Niebelungen, for example, or Wagner’s Grail operas…(Lohengrin, Tannhauser, Tristan und Isolde and Parsifal).

Has the Winter of our Discontent given way to the Flowers that bloom in the Spring, tra la?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/19/march-20-first-day-of-spring_n_2906921.html#slide=2225685

I for one don’t really care whether the vernal equinox happens on March 20, 21, or 22, I always celebrate it on March 21, just as I always celebrate the solstices on December 21 and June 21.  What’s more, I treat all the seasons as having exactly 91.25 days except during leap year because that way four seasons make a year.  However, the exposition of facts suggesting the contrary in the above article forwarded to me by Barbartzin Cihuacuamomohtli in the former CSA capital of Montgomery is quite erudite and interesting and attributed to someone from the Hayden Planetarium who ought to know.

Although I do celebrate the Spring Equinox and the Solstices, I find the Autumnal Equinox less stirring, although I don’t go as far as my former House Elf Antonio Rodriguez who once opined that “Otoño es la epoca del año más triste.”  Still, from a historical standpoint, it’s hard to celebrate the Fall Equinox unless you’re a descendent of Robespierre and really long for the good old days when the original French “Department of Homeland Security” (aka “Committee on Public Safety”) instituted and promulgated the original Reign of Terror starting with the execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.  As an aside, Queen Marie Antoinette has risen considerably in my estimation since I read that she apologized to her executioner for stepping on his foot on the way to the guillotine on a crowded executioner’s platform.  I anticipate that the Reign of Terror over which the Department of Homeland Security has been designed to preside will make the French episode of the 1790s look like the amateur small time affair or rehearsal which it really was….

Yes, by contrast and without doubt, Spring is traditionally the happiest time of year, when new growth and flowers and the birds and the bees all seem to conspire to compose a poetic statement of the natural order which…. sometimes just make a 53rd year old curmudgeon with a serious toothache want to regurgitate all over someone’s beautiful flower bed.  And there are indeed an abundance of beautiful flower beds in New Orleans 70130, 70115, and 70118 (which is the extent of my wanderings most days—the French Quarter 70112, except for Place St. Louis aka Jackson Square, is not known for its flowers).

Ah, Springtime: Young lovers, even brothers and sisters like Siegmund and Sieglinde, notice that wintersturme wichen dem wonnemonde, and for once I find myself in a bad enough mood to sympathize with Fricka’s anger over the whole business: “Who’s ever heard of such a thing, a brother and sister as lovers?” She asks her husband Wotan in Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre.  Sympathetic with his wife’s concerns always and so the model of a good husband, Wotan responds, “Well, as of today, you have heard of it.”  I have spent my life changing the characters with whom I most identify in Wagner’s Ring.  When I was young I wanted to be Siegried, but then I kind of realized that Siegfried was a bit of an idiot who would take a drink from anybody and really never did anything right or substantial after he killed that rather harmless house- (or cave-) bound Dragon Fafnir who never really bothered anybody but just liked sleeping aid all his treasure.   Then I started identifying with Siegmund, slightly more mature but no luckier.  Finally I have come to identify with Wotan “the saddest of all”.  What I’m worried about is that I may yet live long enough to identify with Alberich the Dwarf, the final survivor of the epic of the Ring….. and that just wouldn’t be very poetic at all…. but the danger is there….

I came of age as a teenager in New Orleans, first felt the pangs of (post-secondary) young love here and all that rot.  And now as a (soon to be) 53 year old curmudgeon I am back in this wonderful town, reflecting on the essential lack of difference and distinction between the institutions of marriage and prostitution, despite my lifelong fondness for the Sumerian and Akkadian love poetry of Inanna and Dumuzi (which of course was all about Dumuzi rising from the dead in the Spring—after Inanna killed him, but let’s not quibble here, she mourned and cried copious tears AFTER she killed him—just as Brunnhilde did after she arranged Siegfried’s Death in Gtterdaemerung…).  New Orleans has forced me to come to grips with the notion that, as doggedly libertarian as I sometimes try to be, I really don’t like prostitution or prostitutes.  But (even worse) I like women who pretend to be something else when they’re even less honest and (hence) less moral by virtue of their pretense to be something else.  (Only tangentially, see footnote* regarding one rather New Orlenean girl by the name of Lila H.—this particular epistle was most unequivocally NOT written by me, but I came upon it as part of a collection of similar letters).  

Two years ago I was obsessed with another rather extraordinary “courtesan” I had met in New Orleans at the same time as Lila H. and Sylvia F. named Tiffany H. (TCH moved to ABQ where she became “La Bruja de Algodones” in a beautiful desert corner  of New Mexico off I-25).  Now Tiffany was indeed quite beautiful, not at all “cheap” and certainly not tawdry.  She was talented in several musical instruments, song, song painting, weaving, astrology, magic, and deadlier arts as well, but had that strange kiss of the spider woman which made for short-lived relationships…. And what really bothers me is that prostitutes are “cheap” girls….and wives like Elena, the mother of my son Charlie, who at her sole behest no longer speaks to me are just really really really expensive…. And so in general, there are times I wish I had been born gay so that I wouldn’t have had to deal with the whole situation…. But as Happy as I have been for most of my life, I have never been gay…..

And the reality is, right now, that the Winter of our Discontent (about the Islamic Communist Party Chairman Barack Hussein Obama’s second anti-constitutional inauguration as de facto President and Dictator, the acknowledgment by his simply appalling Attorney General Holder that Drone’s deadly force may be [and that means certainly will be—if they haven’t already been] used to eliminate undesirable American citizens someday, and all the other developments of the past 91 days really just don’t inspire one to think happy thoughts.

Re-elected California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer continue with their crusade to disarm ordinary Americans while buying otherwise illegal hollow-point bullets to arm the domestic police as minions of the Department of Homeland Security.  It’s all enough to make one sing, with Lord High Executioner Koko from G & S’ Mikado, “The flowers that bloom in the spring “tra la” have nothing to do with the case.”

In general, it seems to me that Western civilization, American Political Society as it once existed, and the magnificent American economy are all going to hell in a hand basket, so why and how can we celebrate Spring—“Winter kept us warm covering earth in forgetful snow”  or in the case of New Orleans and most of the deep South, forgetful brown (dead) leaves…. Wintersturme wichen dem wonnemonde — my ass!

Speaking of asses, now that Barack Obama has turned the Democratic Party so radically against America and the American dream, I think that all Patriotic Americans who, with me, might like to either call themselves Jeffersonian and/or Jacksonian Democrats ought to work with me to resurrect the Crowing Red Rooster as the Symbol of the Democratic Party—if anyone has examples of old Southern Democratic Posters or political advertisements of any kind with Red Rooster symbols—please get in touch with me…. I would like to start a large collection…. I suppose that will be my Spring 2013 Project to Dishonor Obama and all that he stands for….

*I swear under penalty of perjury that I did not write the following text nor was it written about anything I personally experienced, but I have  seen and experienced a sufficient number of similar events with one of the parties involved that I believe that this does pretty well summarize the life of a certain New Orleans “Failed Debutante” well-on her way at age 23, soon to be 24, to becoming  a “Delta Dawn” of the next generation:

Lila: I just don’t ever want to see you drunk again.
I can’t recall exactly how many times you’ve completely fucked me over. Of course, none of this was your fault. It’s not your fault that you’re a sloppy drunk incapable of taking credit for your actions. I mean, trying to kill a guy on the back of his motorcycle, pissing yourself on the sidewalk and cursing the man who kept you alive. That’s not your fault. No, that’s perfectly acceptable behavior.

If you still do have my phone number, if by some miracle it hasn’t fallen into the vodka and bourbon fueld vortex that is your mind, and you give it to some man and he calls me and says that you’re passed out in his hotel room I am going to tell him that I’m your psychiatrist and that you need to be restrained, gagged, and to call the police immediately. Don’t trust a word you say, you’ve escaped from the mental hospital, you’re a homicidal nymphomaniac. Or maybe I’ll say that I am your pimp and that he can have [edited: you anyway] he wants, free.

What I’m trying to say, Lila, is that you are possibly the worst friend a man could have. A user, an abusive drunk that no one should ever have to tolerate. I know you won’t even accept this judment, and yeah, I’m judging you, I feel I have the right after watching you screaming cuntcuntcunt, tears streaming down your face, because I wouldn’t let you go and fight a girl. I know you can’t accept this judgement. And I do feel bad for you. I really do. But this is the last time you treat me this way. Not that you give a fuck, there are plenty of other men to use, aren’t there? Plenty of other guys.

Anyway, enjoy. This time tomorrow you’ll probably be ass-up in an alleyway getting train-fucked by the boyfriend of some girl you picked a fight with and his friends, or blowing some guy in a suit in a bathroom because he was nice enough to give you a shiny piece of plastic.

Remember this, if nothing else: You had a horrible time last night. I know you don’t care that you ruined my evening, but you ruined your own. Your insistence on trying to assault that girl had you crying and screaming for around a half hour, then angry all night. You stupid bitch. And, by the way, it was PURE paranoia. I noticed you had lost one of the wings off that stupid headband that made you ‘feel special and pretty’ at least ten or twenty minutes before you were anywhere near that girl. I didn’t say anything in order to avoid a scene.

So yeah. You’re paranoid. Have you been diagnosed?

Because of that you missed out on a great night. I treat.. excuse me, treatED you well. That’s done with. And I genuinely feel like a load has been taken off my back. I gave you the benefit of the doubt three times now. That’s twice too many. We’re done, bitch. If you want my friendship and you decide to beg for it back and I can understand what you’re saying you’re doing it wrong [edited for younger audience…]