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The author reads Goethe's Faust as the first epic written under Spinoza's influence. He shows how its thematic development is governed by Spinoza's pantheistic naturalism. He further contends that Wagner and Nietzsche have tried to surpass their mentor Goethe's work by writing their own Spinozan epics of love and power in The Ring of the Nibelung and Thus Spoke Zarathustra. These Spinozan epics are designed to succeed the Christian epics in the Western literary tradition. Whereas the Christian epics dared to groom human beings for their destiny in the supernatural world, the Spinozan epics try to reinstate humanity as the children of Mother Nature and overcome their alienation from the natural world, which had been dictated by the long reign of Christianity. However, it has been well noted that none of these new epics seems to hang together thematically as a coherent work. By his Spinozan reading, the author not only demonstrates the thematic unity of each of them singly, but further illustrates their thematic relation with each other.
This book examines Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Miles Davis as distinctively global symbols of threatening and nonthreatening black masculinity. It centers them in debates over U.S. cultural exceptionalism, noting how they have been part of the definition of jazz as a jingoistic and exclusively American form of popular culture.
Matthew Tones examines the early ontological development of the tragic disposition in Nietzsche's analysis of the pre-Platonic Greeks and its influence on Nietzsche's quest to discover a future nobility. This book fuses the popular reading of Nietzsche as a naturalist with noble creative impulses to reveal further complexities in his mature work.
This unique edited volume offers a distinctive theoretical perspective and advanced insights into how music is impacted by the interaction of global forces with local conditions. As the first major book to apply the timely notion of “glocality” to music, this collection features robust scholarship on genres and practices from many corners of the world: from studies of European opera professions and the oeuvre of several contemporary art music composers, to music in Uzbekistan and Indonesia, urban street musicians, and even the didjeridoo. The authors interrogate theories of glocalization, distinguishing this notion from globalization and other more familiar concepts, and demonstrate how its application illuminates the mechanisms that link changing musical practices and technologies with their social milieu. This incisive book is relevant to scholars of many different specializations, particularly those with a deep interest in relationships between music and society, both past and present. More broadly, its discussions will be of value to those concerned with how changing policies and technologies impact cultural heritage and the creative approaches of performing artists worldwide.
The author deciphers Nietzsche's most enigmatic work as Zarathustra's epic campaign to save secular culture from degradation in the godless world. In this epic reading, the ostensibly atheistic work turns out to be a profound religious text. This revelation is breathtaking and edifying.
Richard Wagner continues to be the most controversial artist in history, a perpetually troubling figure in our cultural consciousness. The unceasing debate over his works and their impact--for and against--is one reason why there has been no genuinely comprehensive modern account of his musical dramas until now. Dieter Borchmeyer's book is the first to present an overall picture of these musical dramas from the standpoint of literary and theatrical history. It extends from the composer's early works--still largely ignored--to the Ring Cycle and Parsifal, and includes Wagner's unfinished works and operas he never set to music. Through lively prose, we come to see Wagner as a librettist--and as a man of letters--rather than primarily as musical composer. Borchmeyer uncovers a vast field of cultural and historical cross-references in Wagner's works. In the first part of the book, he sets out in search of the various archetypal scenes, opening up the composer's dramatic workshop to the reader. He covers all of Wagner's operas, from early juvenilia to the canonical later works. The second part examines Wagner in relation to political figures including King Ludwig II and Bismarck, and, importantly, in light of critical reactions by literary giants--Thomas Mann, whom Borchmeyer calls "a guiding light in this exploration of the fields that Wagner tilled," and Nietzsche, whose appeal to "philology" is a key source of inspiration in attempts to grapple with Wagner's works. For more than twenty years, Borchmeyer has placed his scholarship at the service of the famed Bayreuth Festival. With this volume, he gives us a summation of decades of engagement with the phenomenon of Wagner and, at the same time, the result of an abiding critical passion for his works.
Few musical works loom as large in Western culture as Richard Wagner's four-part Ring of the Nibelung. In Finding an Ending, two eminent philosophers, Philip Kitcher and Richard Schacht, offer an illuminating look at this greatest of Wagner's achievements, focusing on its far-reaching and subtle exploration of problems of meanings and endings in this life and world. Kitcher and Schacht plunge the reader into the heart of Wagner's Ring, drawing out the philosophical and human significance of the text and the music. They show how different forms of love, freedom, heroism, authority, and judgment are explored and tested as it unfolds. As they journey across its sweeping musical-dramatic landscape, Kitcher and Schacht lead us to the central concern of the Ring--the problem of endowing life with genuine significance that can be enhanced rather than negated by its ending, if the right sort of ending can be found. The drama originates in Wotan's quest for a transformation of the primordial state of things into a world in which life can be lived more meaningfully. The authors trace the evolution of Wotan's efforts, the intricate problems he confronts, and his failures and defeats. But while the problem Wotan poses for himself proves to be insoluble as he conceives of it, they suggest that his very efforts and failures set the stage for the transformation of his problem, and for the only sort of resolution of it that may be humanly possible--to which it is not Siegfried but rather Brünnhilde who shows the way. The Ring's ending, with its passing of the gods above and destruction of the world below, might seem to be devastating; but Kitcher and Schacht see a kind of meaning in and through the ending revealed to us that is profoundly affirmative, and that has perhaps never been so powerfully and so beautifully expressed.

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