Uncle Adolf’s table talk, 72

the-real-hitler

 

Night of 24th-25th January 1942

Origin of Tristan and Isolda—Cosima Wagner—Wahnfried—The Makart style—Bayreuth—On the Nuremberg Congress.
 
 
Whatever one says, Tristan is Wagner’s masterpiece, and we owe Tristan to the love Mathilde Wesendonck inspired in him. She was a gentle, loving woman, but far from having the qualities of Cosima. Nobody like Wagner has had the luck to be entirely understood by a woman. Those are things that life does not owe a man, but it’s magnificent when it happens.

Neither Mozart nor Beethoven, neither Schiller nor Goethe, have had a share of such happiness. In addition to all Wagner’s gifts, Cosima was femininity personified, and her charm had its effect on all who visited Wahnfried. After Wagner’s death, the atmosphere at Wahnfried remained what it had been during his lifetime. Cosima was inconsolable, and never ceased to wear mourning. She had wanted her own ashes to be scattered over her husband’s tomb, but she was refused this satisfaction.

Nevertheless, her ashes were collected in an urn, and this urn was placed on the tomb. Thus death has not separated these two beings, whom destiny had wished to live side by side! Wagner’s lifetime was also that of a man like Meyerbeer! Wagner is responsible for the fact that the art of opera is what it is to-day. The great singers who’ve left names behind became celebrated as interpreters of Wagner. Moreover, it’s since him that there have been great orchestra-leaders. Wagner was typically a prince. His house, Wahnfried, for example! It’s been said that the interior, in Makart style, was over-loaded.

But should a house be mistaken for a gallery of works of art? Isn’t it, above all, a dwelling, the framework for a private life, with its extensions and its radiance? If I possess a gallery of ancestors, should I discard it on the pretext that not all the pictures in it are masterpieces?

At the beginning of this century there were people called Wagnerians. Other people had no special name. What joy each of Wagner’s works has given me! And I remember my emotion the first time I entered Wahnfried. To say I was moved is an understatement! At my worst moments, they’ve never ceased to sustain me, even Siegfried Wagner. (Houston Stewart Chamberlain wrote to me so nicely when I was in prison.) I was on Christian-name terms with them. I love them all, and I also love Wahnfried.

So I felt it to be a special happiness to have been able to keep Bayreuth going at the moment of its discomfiture. The war gave me the opportunity to fulfil a desire dear to Wagner’s heart: that men chosen amongst the people—workers and soldiers—should be able to attend his Festival free of charge. The ten days of the Bayreuth season were always one of the blessed seasons of my existence.

Festspielhaus_Bayreuth_Innen

And I already rejoice at the idea that one day I shall be able to resume the pilgrimage! The tradition of the Olympic Games endured for nearly a thousand years. That results, it seems to me, from a mystery similar to that which lies at the origin of Bayreuth. The human being feels the need to relax, to get out of himself, to take communion in an idea that transcends him. The Party Congress answers the same need, and that’s why for hundreds of years men will come from the whole world over to steep themselves anew, once a year, in the marvellous atmosphere of Nuremberg. They’ll come, and they’ll see side by side the proofs we shall have left of our greatness, and at the same time the memories of old Nuremberg.

On the day following the end of the Bayreuth Festival, and on the Tuesday that marks the end of the Nuremberg Congress, I’m gripped by a great sadness—as when one strips the Christmas tree of its ornaments.

Arthur de Gobineau’s

Essai Sur L’Inégalité des Races Humaines

“We (Wagner and Cosima) have done nothing but talk about you and your Essay since noon, when my husband came to tell me of the pleasure and interest he has found in reading chapter thirteen, which has absorbed him since he began it. Parsifal has been cornered into reading your books!! I am not able to express how much we love and admire this masterpiece…”

Letter of Cosima to Gobineau of March 27, 1881

Arthur_de_Gobineau

The Essai Sur L’Inégalité des Races Humaines (Essay on the Inequality of Human Races), of which only the first volume is available in English, is a book published in 1853 and 1855 by the French philosopher Joseph Arthur de Gobineau. It is considered the initial work of racialist philosophy. Below I reproduce an abridged translation of the introduction by Adriano Romualdi.

There are books that act on the reality of many of the political events and, out of the narrow circle of the discussion, become a powerful idea, myth and blood supplying historical processes. The most typical is undoubtedly Marx’s Capital, a historical-economic study that has become religious dogma, battle gun and gospel. To these books belongs the Essay on the Inequality of Human Races of Count Gobineau, ignored during the time the author lived but released in Germany after his death.

Arthur de Gobineau was born in Ville d’Avray in 1816 to a family of ancient Norman origin. Shortly before his death, in his Histoire d’Ottar Jara he would relive the events of the Viking conqueror that reached the coast of France, giving rise to his family. Gobineau’s father was a captain in the Royal Guard of Charles X. After the revolution of 1830 he departed to live in Britain while the son went to study in Switzerland. There Gobineau learned German and peered into the vast prospects opened by Germanic philology in those years. Since Friedrich Schlegel in his Ueber die Sprache und Weisheit der Inder taught affinity between European languages and Sanskrit he assumed an Aryan migration from Asia to Europe. In 1816, Bopp, with his Greek grammar, compared Sanskrit, Persian, Greek, Latin and founded Indo-European philology. Meanwhile, the Brothers Grimm rediscovered Edda and Germanic poetry, reviving the old heroism and primordial mythology while Kart O. Müller found in the Dorians (Die Dorier, 1824) the Nordic soul of ancient Greece. Thus Gobineau was familiar from his adolescence with a world that European culture was slowly assimilating.

In 1834 Gobineau went to Paris. He was not rich and tried to steer through as a writer and journalist. Of his literary works, many pages of Le Prisionnier Chancheux, Ternote, Mademoiselle Irnois, Les Aventures de Nicolas Belavoir and E’Abbaye of Thyphanes have withstood the erosion of time.

An article in the Revue de deux Mondes put him in touch with Alexis de Tocqueville, the famous author of Democracy in America, also of old Norman lineage. This friendship joined them through a lifetime despite their strong differences: Tocqueville, the aristocrat, resigned with melancholy by accepting democracy as a reality of the modern world while Gobineau, another aristocrat, rebelled and identified civilization with the work of a master race.

Tocqueville was appointed Foreign Minister and called his friend as his chief of staff. On the eve of the Napoleonic coup Tocqueville resigned but Gobineau put on a brave face to the Caesarism. He entered diplomacy and was the first secretary to take the delegation of Bern. It was in Berne where he wrote the Essai Sur L’Inégalité des Races Humaines. The first two volumes appeared in 1853, and more in 1855.

The book incorporates the movements of the great discovery of the Indo-European unity, i.e., a large extended Aryan family from Iceland to India. The Latin word pater, the Gothic fadar, the Greek patér and the Sanskrit derivations are revealed as originating from a single word. But if there has been a primary language of which several languages have branched, there must be a major lineage that existed, moving from its original home, and spread this language in the vast space between Scandinavia and the Ganges. It was the people that named themselves Aryans, a term with which the rulers are referred to themselves as opposed to the natives of the conquered lands (compare the Persian and the Sanskrit for arya = noble, pure; the Greek àristos = best , the Latin herus = owner, the soldierly Germanic Ehre = honor).

This is where Gobineau’s reasoning is channeled, mobilizing for his thesis ancient Indian texts revealing these prehistoric Aryans—tall, blond, with blue eyes—piercing into India, Persia, Greece, and Italy to make the great ancient civilizations flourish. Every civilization comes from an Aryan conquest, from the organization imposed by an elite of Nordic lords over a mass population.

Comparing each of the three great racial families the superiority of the Aryan appears to us evident. “If his [the black man’s] mental faculties are dull or even non-existent”—writes Gobineau—“he often has an intensity of desire, and so of will, which may be called terrible. Consequently, the black race is an intensely sensual, emotional radically race, but lacks of will and clarity of the organizer.” The yellow race stands before the black but it differs from the true creative will. Here we also have a race of second order, a kind infinitely less vulgar than the black but that lacks audacity, toughness and that sharp, heroic intelligence expressed in the gracile Aryan face. Civilization is thus a legacy of blood and is lost with the melting pot of blood. This is the explanation that Gobineau offers us about the tragedy of world history.

Gobineau’s key concept is degeneration, in the proper sense of the word, which is expressed in the growing apart from one’s own original type (the Germans would speak of ­­Entnordung or denordization). Ancient peoples have disappeared because they have lost their Nordic integrity, and this can occur to modern man as well. “If the empire of Darius had, at the battle of Arbela, been able to fill its ranks with Persians, that is to say with real Aryans; if the Romans of the later Empire had had a Senate and an army of the same stock as that which existed at the time of the Fabii, their dominion would never have come to an end.”

The fate that overwhelmed ancient cultures also threatens us. The democratization of Europe, which began with the French Revolution, represents the revolt of the servile masses with their hedonistic and pacifist values against the heroic ideals of Nordic aristocracies of Germanic origin. Equality, that for a time was just a myth, threatens to become reality in the infernal cauldron where the superior mixes with the inferior and what is noble is bogged down into the ignoble.

If today the Essai Sur L’Inégalité des Races Humaines appears aged in many features, it retains a substantial validity. Gobineau has the great merit of having first addressed the problem of the crisis of civilization in general and the West in particular. In a century stunned by the commoner myth of progress, he dared to proclaim the fatal decline of every culture and the senile and crepuscular nature of the citizens of a rationalist civilization. Without Gobineau’s work, without the serious, solemn chiming bumps in the prelude of his Essai, all of modern literature about crises by Spengler, Huizinga and Evola is unimaginable.

Gobineau’s great work on the inequality of the races was completed, but the French culture did not take notice. Tocqueville tried to comfort Gobineau prophesying that his book would be introduced into France from Germany.

Gobineau died suddenly in Turin in October 1882. Nobody seemed to notice his disappearance. It was the Germans who valorized him. Wagner opened its columns of the Bayreuther Blätter; Hans von Wolzogen, Ludwig Schemann and Houston Stewart Chamberlain announced his work. It was Ludwig Schemann who founded the cult of Gobineau by instituting an archive near the University of Strasbourg, then in Germany. In 1896 Schemann founded the Gobineau-Vereinigung, which would spread Gobineauism throughout Germany. In 1914 Schemann had an influential network of friends and protectors and the Kaiser himself subsidized it.

On the trail of the work of Gobineau, racialism was born: Vacher de Lapouge, Penka, Pösche, Wilser, Woltmann, H. S. Chamberlain and after the war Rosenberg, Hans Günther and Clauss retook Gobineaunian intuitions and amplified them with a vast doctrinal body. In 1933 National Socialism, assuming power in Germany, officially recognized the ideology of race. Thus what Wittgenstein had prophesied about Gobineau was fulfilled: “You say you are a man of the past, but in reality you are a man of the future.”

“Her little child”

Excerpted from Werner Ross’s Der ängstliche Adler
– Friedrich Nietzsches Leben
(1980):

carl_ludwig_nietzsche

Carl Ludwig Nietzsche,
Nietzsche’s father

The boy does not remember the Röcken home dominated by women, but only the image of the father, idealized on par as it gradually fades out. The pious rural cleric remains completely safe from the uprising against Christianity, which would be the true mission of Nietzsche from his eighteen years. Since then, his father is for him an “ethereal angel.” One of the qualities that he has inherited from him is the kindness, the renunciation of revenge for nobility. So in the late self-portraiture of Ecce homo we read that, in case of offense, Nietzsche prohibits himself “any retaliation, any measure of defense.”

[Chechar’s note: Those who have read the passages of Alice Miller in The Untouched Key as to why Nietzsche went mad—just imagine a self-proclaimed Antichrist who, simultaneously, never defended himself before the father clergyman!—would treasure passages such as these.]

Another inherited quality is the love of music. In a postcard to Peter Gast [Heinrich Köselitz] of the time of Zarathustra an observation is included: “It is raining in torrents, music gets me away. I like that music and the way I like it is something I cannot explain based on my experiences: rather based on my father. And why should not…?”

The phrase is cut, but can be completed with another of Ecce homo in which he says: Why should not I continue to live in him and he in me after his untimely death?

And he was no less mystical in his later years, when he conceived the doctrine of eternal recurrence, so he could skip the generational order to become a descendant of Napoleon, Caesar or Alexander. But the same process also allowed otherwise: the mysterious identification with the father, either in the agonizing fear of premature death and madness, either in the gut, not even confessed to his friend Gast, that having survived the fateful thirty-third year of his life he would merge with his father to form a single figure with him.

The family was assured that Fritz (short for Friedrich) would be clergyman as the father. His mother, who was not limited to accompany him to the bed but every night carried him into it, panting said, “If you continue like this I’ll have to carry you up to bed until you study theology.” Fritz, meanwhile, was a precocious and obedient child; knew by heart passages of the Bible and religious songs so that their local school classmates called him the little shepherd. He was no friend of other children, and in school they laughed at him but then, at home, spoke wonders of the little sage.

Young Nietzsche, whose strange factions made one think of an owl, had an excellent performance. An anecdote belonging to the repertoire of Elisabeth [Nietzsche’s sister] tells us that, at one point, it started raining and as everyone ran from school to their homes, he continued to walk at a leisurely pace with the board over his hat and scarf on the blackboard. When Nietzsche got home was completely soaked. That why he had not run like the others? Well, because the school regulations say that, after school, children should go to their houses quietly and politely. The story seems credible; it was not normal behavior, but a show of obedience directed against his classmates’ behavior.

The little shepherd never tires of reciting pious maxims, edifying virtuous desires and prayers. Words like purpose, wise decision of God, beneficent hand of God, heavenly father come out of his lips with astonishing naturalness.

The strongest impressions were those that religious music gave Nietzsche. In the misty autumn evenings, the boy came sneaking into the cathedral to witness the rehearsals of the Requiem for the day of the dead; he was overwhelmed to hear the Dies irae and was deeply delighted with the Benedictus. It was not just a childish impulse that led him at fourteen, in Schulpforta, to write in all seriousness motets, chorale melodies and fugues and even try a Missa for solo, chorus and orchestra. At sixteen Nietzsche outlined a Miserere for five voices and, finally, began a Christmas oratory on which he worked for two years.

At seventeen, the son of the pastor received confirmation. His classmate Deussen, also a son of pastor says the two maintained a pious attitude, away from the world. They were willing to die immediately to go to meet Jesus. When his friend Wilhelm Pinder received confirmation, Nietzsche wrote: “With the promise you walk into the line of Christian adults who are considered worthy of the most precious legacy of our Savior, and through their enjoyment of life, achieve happiness of the soul.” Not even from the pastor’s pen would have come such pious words.

In High School Nietzsche had an “excellent” in religion. The commentary reports confirm that the student has shown, along with a good understanding of the New Testament, a keen interest in the doctrine of Christian salvation which he has easily and solidly assimilated, and is also able to express himself clearly on the subject.

The above was extracted from one of the first chapters of Ross’ book. Unlike Curt Paul Janz, hundreds of pages later Ross only dedicates a few paragraphs to Nietzsche’s life after his breakdown. He writes:

 

Nietzsche’s biography ends in the early days of 1889, although his life was extended until August 25, 1900. Paralyzed and demented, he died of pneumonia.

On August 10, 1889 Nietzsche entered the psychiatric clinic of the University of Basel; a week later he is taken to the Jena University Clinic where he remains for about fifteen months, and on March 24, 1890 he is discharged in writing and sent home. Nietzsche remains under the care of his mother until her death in 1897. In July 1897 the sister purchases a Weimar villa, “Silberblick,” for the Nietzsche Archive and in it she installs the patient.

About the demented Nietzsche several persons issued reports: (1) Turin dentist, Dr. Bettmann, who with Overbeck brought Nietzsche to Basel; (2) the diaries of Basel and Jena for the sick by the physician (and later professor) Ziehen; (2) the mother in his letters to Professor Overbeck, and (4) friends and visitors, from Gast to Deussen and from Overbeck to Resa von Schirnhofer.

The extracts that follow from 1889-1892 show on one hand the state of the disorder, but on the other they shed light on the “healthy” Nietzsche, specifically those oppressed and repressed aspects that madness liberated.

Dentist Bettmann’s opinion, in Turin:

The patient is usually excited, he asks much food but is unable to do something and take care of himself. He claims to be a famous man, and constantly asks a woman for him.

Basel journal for the sick, January 1889:

He only answers partially and incompletely or not at all to the questions addressed to him, insisting in his confused verbiage nonstop.

First day at Jena, January 19, 1889:

The patient walks on the department with many bows of courtesy. With majestic step, staring at the ceiling, enters the room and gives thanks for the “great reception.” He doesn’t know where he is.

Extracts from the diary for the sick at Jena, from January to October 1889:

He wants his compositions to be premiered. He has little understanding or memory of ideas or passages from his works. He always identifies the physicians correctly. He proclaims himself now Duke of Cumberland, now Emperor, etc… “At last I have been Frederick William IV,” “My wife Cosima Wagner has brought me here.” “At night they have uttered curses against me, have used the most horrible mechanisms.” “I want a gun if there is any truth in the suspicion that the very Grand Duchess commits these filthy acts and attacks on me.”

At night we always have to isolate him. He often smears himself with excrement. He eats excrements. He urinates in his boot or glass and drinks the urine or smears himself with it. Once he smeared a leg with excrement. He wraps excrements in paper and puts it all in the drawer of a table.

The mother to Overbeck, April 8, 1889:

About an hour ago my son has been taken to the department of the peaceful sick… The greatest joy you can provide is to speak in Italian or French to him… Gone are the ideas of grandeur that initially made him so happy…

On March 24, 1890 the mother takes Nietzsche out of the center to live with him in Jena. On one occasion Nietzsche undresses in public with intent of swimming and a guard is hired, who follows at a distance mother and son when they go for a walk. On June 17, 1890 she writes to Overbeck:

He plays a little of music every day, partly his small compositions or songs of an old book of songs… The religious sentiment is asserted more and more in him. During Pentecost, when we were sitting quietly in the balcony with me holding an old Bible [he says] that in Turin he had studied the whole Bible and taken thousands of notes, when I read this or that psalm; this or that chapter, I expressed surprise that he knew the Bible so thoroughly.

From 1892 Nietzsche can no longer feed himself. He has to be washed and dressed. The walks have to be abandoned because Nietzsche shouts and hits everything on his way. In 1894 Nietzsche recognizes Deussen, but in 1895 he no longer recognizes Overbeck.

In madness it clearly appears a regression to infantile and juvenile stages. In the time of megalomania Dionysus and Zarathustra are totally excluded. Instead it reappears Frederick William IV [discussed in Ross’ earlier chapters], and Nietzsche says to his mother he is twenty-two. The last letter to Jacob Burckhardt is written by a “student.” His fears (the light should remain lit at night, the door must be closed) belong to an early childhood stage, like the “magic of the pieces of glass.” It is also noteworthy the return to the old religion and a fearful, even radical avoidance of everything philosophical. As a sick man Nietzsche is an obedient or uninhibited child.

At the end he completely sinks into apathy.

nietzsche_dementedThe mother, fearful, “limited” (as seen in the Basel clinic) was at first mean, although she continued to receive Nietzsche’s pension. But when he was with her she cared for him, protected and looked after him with motherly love. Friedrich then again became what in her opinion should have always been: her little child.