Thursday, 27 May 2010

Wagner: The musical genius's legacy...

As an opera afficianado (though not especially a fan of Wagner's operas) I was interested to watch Stephen Fry's musings on his lifelong love of Wagner's music, and whether this could (and, indeed, should) be reconciled with his Jewish origins on TV the other night.
I don't know if anyone saw this, but it seemed to be peculiarly relevant to the ongoing debate about the relationship between the artist and their life and work. Should we embrace Wagner as a musical genius and simply ignore his Anti-Semitism, or see it in cultural terms as a product of his time? Or should we let the indelible stain (as Fry put it) of Hitler's legacy stain the work, and lead us to boycott it at all costs?
As one might expect from Fry, he attempted to offer a consensus here, trying to acknowledge the Fascist connotations while at the same time allowing himself a space to continue to enjoy the work of a musical genius. Put simply, Fry argues that the music transcends the ideological prejeudices of the artist and that it is sublime, and therefore should be exempt from political or ideological analysis. However, the quiet revulsion on the face of a musician, a Holocaust survivor when being interviewed about Wagner told another story, despite her best attempts to be concilatory rather than dogmatic.
Many people still do avoid the work of Wagner, while other prominent musicians, including those of Jewish origin, embrace the music (though presumably not the artist).
Is this a liberal whitewash, trying to justify one's passions when these are perhaps transgressive? Or is it right to take Fry's side and argue that, while Wagner's work is stained by its associations, it remains sublime, and that we shouldn't let the legacy of Fascism subsume the work of a genius?

Ruth Griffin

Monday, 24 May 2010

The Re-emergence of the Left?

I just thought that I would draw your attention to a recent article by a right wing journalist predicting the re-emergence of the political left in the next few years. If so, this will mean a welcome end to new labour liberalism but maybe also the return of old fashioned 'investment strikes' should the left happen to seize power somewhere....

You can read the article at:

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is the son of the famous anthropologist EE Evans Pritchard. He is pretty far to the right politically;, but he is one of my favourite journalists because his anaylsis of contemporary political-economic affairs has been proved uncannily accurate in the past. Like many of his ilk, he is also ruthlessly objective...Please follow him if you want a sound analysis of the current events...

Not so much a post as a recommendation...



Sunday, 23 May 2010

Synthetic Life

When looking up the notion of synthetic life in relation to the last post, I came a across a discussion on Irish radio which took place last Saturday about the new developments of these issues. Interestingly, there is a scientist and a philosopher
in full agreement about this issue! Here is a link to the podcast. The actual segment of the show takes place at about 1:15 minutes.