“One supreme fact which I have discovered is that it is not willpower, but fantasy and imagination that creates. Imagination is the creative force. Imagination creates reality.”
Night of 13th-14th January 1942
The composer Bruckner—Brahms at his height—Wagner and Goring—Great architects—Talent must be encouraged.
After a hearing of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony: This work is based on popular airs of upper Austria. They’re not textually reproduced, but repeatedly I recognise in passing Tyrolean dances of my youth. It’s wonderful what he managed to get out of that folklore. As it happened, it’s a priest to whom we must give the credit for having protected this great master. The Bishop of Linz used to sit in his cathedral for hours at a time, listening to Bruckner play the organ. He was the greatest organist of his day.
One can imagine this obscure peasant’s arrival in Vienna, amidst an effete society. One of Bruckner’s opinions of Brahms was published in a newspaper recently, and further increased the sympathy I felt for him: “Brahms’s music is very beautiful, but I prefer my own.” There you have the self-awareness, full both of humility and of pride, such as a peasant can feel, in all simplicity, when he is inspired by a true conviction. The critic Hanslick depicted Bruckner’s life in Vienna as a real hell for him. When the moment came when it was no longer possible to ignore his work, he was covered with decorations and overwhelmed with honours. What did all that mean to him? Wouldn’t it have been better not to have misunderstood him so long?
Jewry had raised Brahms to the pinnacle. He was lionised in the salons and was a pianist of theatrical gestures. He exploited effects of the hands, effects of the beard and hair. Compared with him, Bruckner was a man put out of countenance, an abashed man.
Wagner also had the feeling for gesture, but with him it was innate. Wagner was a man of the Renaissance—like Goring in a certain aspect (and it would be silly to blame him).
There is nothing crueller than to live in a milieu that has no understanding for a work already achieved or in process of gestation. When I think of a man like Schiller or Mozart! Mozart who was flung, nobody knows where, into a communal grave… What ignominy!
If I hadn’t been there to prevent it, I believe the same thing would have happened to Troost. That man revolutionised the art of building. Perhaps it would have taken a few years—and he’d have died without anyone having the slightest idea of his genius. When I got to know him, he was depressed, embittered, disgusted with life. It often happens that architects are hyper-sensitive people. Think merely of Hansen, who was the most richly gifted of the architects of Vienna. And Hasenauer? The critics had attacked him so savagely that he committed suicide before his great work was finished—and yet the Vienna opera-house, so marvellously beautiful, puts the Paris Opera into the shade. To know that one is capable of doing things that nobody else can do—and to have no possibility of giving proof of it!
It seems that people should make sacrifices for their great men as a matter of course. A nation’s only true fortune is its great men. A great man is worth a lot more than a thousand million in the State’s coffers. A man who’s privileged to be the Head of a country couldn’t make a better use of his power than to put it at the service of talent. If only the Party will regard it as its main duty to discover and encourage the talents! It’s the great men who express a nation’s soul.
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.
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.
17th February 1942, evening
The birthplaces of great men.
It’s my view that, simply for the sake of their beauty, the great noblemen’s estates should be preserved. But they must retain their size, otherwise only the State would be capable of maintaining them as private country-houses. And the ideal thing is that they should remain not only in private hands, but also in the family that has traditionally lived in them—else they lose their character. Thus these great monuments of the past, which have retained their character as living organisms, are also centres of culture. But when the country-house is occupied by a caretaker acting as a guide, a little State official with a Bavarian or Saxon accent, who ingenuously recites his unvarying piece of claptrap, things no longer have a soul—the soul is gone.
Wahnfried, as in Wagner’s lifetime, is a lived-in house. It still has all its brilliance, and continues to give the effect of a lover. Goethe’s house gives the impression of a dead thing.
And how one understands that in the room where he died he should have asked for light—always more light! Schiller’s house can still move one by the picture it gives of the penury in which the poet lived.
Night of 28th February-1st March 1942
The Bayreuth Festival 1925—Bayreuth and National Socialism—Rôle of Frau Wagner—Siegfried Wagner.
In 1925, the Bechsteins had invited me to stay with them in Bayreuth. They lived in a villa in the Liszt Strasse (I think this was the name of the street), within a few yards of Wahnfried. I had hesitated to go there, for I was afraid of thus increasing the difficulties of Siegfried Wagner, who was somewhat in the hands of the Jews.
I arrived in Bayreuth towards eleven o’clock in the evening. Lotte Bechstein was still up, but her relatives were in bed. Next morning, Frau Wagner came and brought me some flowers.
What a bustle there was in Bayreuth for the Festival! There exist a few photographs of that period, in which I figure, taken by Lotte Bechstein. I used to spend the day in leather shorts. In the evening, I would put on a dinner-jacket or tails to go to the opera. We made excursions by car into the Fichtelgebirge and into Franconian mountains.
Dietrich Eckart, who had been a critic in Bayreuth, had always told me of the extraordinary atmosphere prevailing there. At the first performance of Parsifal that I attended at Bayreuth, Cleving was still singing. What a stature, and what a magnificent voice! I’d already been present at performances of Parsifal in Munich. That same year, I was also present at the Ring and the Meistersinger. The fact that the Jew Schorr was allowed to sing the rôle of Wotan had the effect of a profanation on me. Why couldn’t they have got Rode from Munich? But there was Braun, an artiste of exceptional quality.
For years I was unable to attend the Festival, and I’d been very distressed about it. Frau Wagner also lamented my absence. She often urged me to come, by letter or by telephone. But I never passed through Bayreuth without paying her a visit.
It’s Frau Wagner’s merit to have created the link between Bayreuth and National Socialism. Siegfried was a personal friend of mine, but he was a political neutral. He couldn’t have been anything else, or the Jews would have ruined him.
3rd May 1942, at dinner
Berlin must not monopolise the resources of the Reich—Berlin is not an artistic city—The choice of Nuremberg.
When I think of Bayreuth, I am invariably worried by the thought that one day we may have to appeal to the State for financial aid for the maintenance of its cultural institutions and surrender the administrative control of the city into the hands of the ministerial bureaucrats. This is one of the reasons why I am so interested in the two sons of Frau Winifred Wagner. I hope very much that they will prove capable of carrying on the great work of their parents. As long as I live, I shall always do everything in my power to maintain the prestige of Richard Wagner’s city. I see no better method of safeguarding cultural centres than to confide them to the safe-keeping of the cities which contain them.
Brilliant city though Berlin undoubtedly is, I doubt whether we can make of it a metropolis of the Arts. As a metropolis of political and military power, it is ideal, as I realised on the occasion of the procession organised for my last birthday. But the atmosphere of Berlin is not the atmosphere of an artistic city.
We have no reason for allowing any other town to attain the stature of Berlin. The Reich can be well content with one town of five million inhabitants, Berlin, two towns—Vienna and Hamburg—of a couple of millions, and quite a number which approach the million mark. It would be extremely stupid further to enlarge our great cities and to canalise all cultural activity towards them. I said one day to Christian Weber that it would be ridiculous to incorporate Starnberg into Munich. To preserve its own character, Munich must remain as it now is.
Had I so wished I could have arranged for the Party Congress to take place in Munich. But as I wished as many towns as possible—big, medium and little—to participate and to become centres of German cultural life, I suggested to the Party Committee that we should chose Nuremberg for our Rallies, and our annual gathering there must, I think, give the city for ten days the atmosphere of the Olympic Games Festivals of ancient days.
1st March 1944, midday
A nursery for film actors—Futility of the art critics—Weber’s Freischütz and Bizet’s Carmen.
It is often said that among our film actors we have none capable of playing certain parts—that, for instance, of the hero. This type of artiste, they say, is non-existent. I have never heard such nonsense. But to find them, you must, of course, look for them. Producers make the mistake of seeking always in the same old circle—the stage and the theatrical agencies. If they would look elsewhere, they would soon find what they want. One has only to think of the splendid types of manhood to be found even now, after five years of war, in our regiments.
Some years ago, before the war, I passed a camp of the Labour Service at Bergdorf. Immediately my car was surrounded by a crowd of bronzed and laughing young men. I remember remarking to one of my companions: “Why don’t our film producers come to places like this in search of talent? In a year or two it would be possible to transform one of these lads into an accomplished actor, even if it were just for one particular part for which they are seeking a star.” In this respect Leni Riefenstahl has the right idea: she scours the villages in search of the peasant types she requires.
In the nature of things, the opinion of an art critic must not be accepted as an irrevocable and unassailable truth. His criticism is, after all, only the expression of his own personal opinion.
When in ten different newspapers ten different critics give their opinion on one and the same work, ten separate personal opinions emerge—unless, of course, they have previously received instructions from interested parties. Has such an opinion any value? I doubt it. We are too prone to forget that the ancients disregarded the art critic. They judged a work on its merits, as they saw them, which, after all, is the natural method of selection. Art criticism, as it has developed since the beginning of the nineteenth century, means either the death of a work of art, since the critics never cease to tear it to pieces; or the death of the press, since the public could have no faith in a press in which the critic of each individual newspaper gives a completely different story on exactly the same work.
If we were to be deprived of art critics, we should not lose very much! One single critique signed with a well-known name may destroy the aspirations of an artist for as long as twenty years.
Examples are not lacking. How many of the artists whom we admire greatly today were previously castigated by the oracles of the times! What is true of painters is true of artists in other fields.
Hoffmann was sufficient gravely to prejudice the chances of success of Der Freischütz. And yet this work, with its deep harmonies, had all the ingredients which should have appealed to the romanticism in Hoffmann. Think of Wagner and how he was torn to bits for ten years by the critics! Had there been no one who appreciated him, it is questionable whether he would have continued with his work. The same thing happened with Carmen. And now the critics who tore these masterpieces to shreds are completely and utterly forgotten, and the works live on.
Consider obtaining a copy of the complete notes
published by Ostara Publications.
Early in his career Nietzsche had planned to write a work entitled Passio nuovo, or the Passion for Sincerity. The book was never written; but, what was perhaps better, it was lived in Nietzsche’s own person. For throughout the philosopher’s years of growth and change, a fanatical passion for truthfulness remained as the primitive and fecundating element of all he undertook. For such reasons the sincerity of a man like Nietzsche has nothing akin to the trite honesty of a carefully trained gentleman. His love of truth is a flame, a demon of veracity, a demon of lucidity, is a hunting beast ever on the prow.
Such an attitude of mind accounts for Nietzsche’s detestation of those who, through slackness or cowardice in the realm of thought, neglect the sacred task of straightforwardness; hence his anger against Kant, because that philosopher, while turning his blind eye to the postern, allowed the concept of the godhead to slip back into his system. Lacking sincerity, we cannot hope to attain to knowledge; lacking resoluteness, we cannot hope to be sincere. “I become blind from the moment when I cease to be sincere. If I wish to know, I must be sincere, that is to say, I must be hard, severe, narrow-minded, cruel, inexorable.”
Like all fanatics, he sacrificed even those he loved (as in the case of Richard Wagner, whose friendship had been for Nietzsche one of the most hallowed). He allowed himself to become penurious, solitary, detested, an anchorite and miserable, solely with a view to remaining true to himself, in order to fulfill his mission as apostle of sincerity. This passion for sincerity became, as time elapsed, a monomania in which the good things of life were absorbed.
Nietzsche practised philosophy as a fine art; and, as an artist, he was not concerned with results, with definitive things, with cold calculations. What he sought was style, “morality in the grand style,” and as an artist he experienced and enjoyed the pleasures of unexpected inspiration. It may be a mistake to apply the word philosopher to such a man, for a philosopher is “the lover of wisdom.”
Passion can never be wise. More appropriate to him would be the appellation, “philaleth,” a passionate lover of Aletheia, of truth, of the virginal and cruelly seductive goddess who never tires of luring her admirers into an unending chase, and finally remains inaccessible behind her tattered veils. Nietzsche, as the slave and servant of the daimon, sought excitement and movement pushed to an extreme. Such a fight for the inaccessible has a heroic quality, and heroism almost invariably ends in the destruction of the hero.
Excessive claims for truth come into conflict with mundane affairs, for truth is implacable and dangerous. In the end, so fanatical an urge for truth kills itself. Life is, fundamentally, a perpetual compromise. How well Goethe, in whose character the essence of nature was so exquisitely poised, recognized this fact and applied it to all his understandings! If nature is to keep its balance, its needs, just as mankind needs, to take up an average position, to yield when necessary, to concede points, to form pacts.
He who presumes the right of non-participation, who refuses to compromise with the world around him, who breaks off relationships and conventions which have been slowly built up in the course of many centuries, becomes unnatural and anthropomorphic in his demands, and enters into opposition against society and against nature. The more such an individual “aspires to attain absolute integrity,” the more hostile are the forces of his epoch. If, like Hölderlin, he persists in an endeavor to give a purely poetical twist to an essentially prosaic existence, or if, following Nietzsche’s example, he aims at penetrating into the infinitude of terrestrial vicissitudes, in either case such an unwise desire constitutes a revolt against the customs and rules of society, separates the presumptuous being from his fellow-mortals, and condemns him to perpetual warfare which, splendid though it may be, is foredoomed to failure.
What Nietzsche named the “tragic mentality,” the resolve to probe any and every feeling to the uttermost, transcends spirit and invades the realm of fate, thereby creating tragedy. He who wishes to impose one single law upon life, who hopes, amid the chaos of passions, to make one passion (his own peculiar passion) supreme, becomes a solitary and in isolation suffers annihilation.
Nietzsche recognized the peril. But, as a hero in the realm of thought, he loved life precisely because it was dangerous and annihilated his personal existence. “Build your cities on the flanks of Vesuvius!” he exclaimed, addressing the philosophers in the endeavour to goad them into a more lofty consciousness of destiny; for the only measure of grandeur is, according to Nietzsche, “the degree of danger at which a man lives in relation to himself.” He only who takes his all upon the hazard has the possibility of winning the infinite; he only who risks his life is capable of endowing his earthly span with everlasting value. “Fiat veritas, pereat vita”; what does it matter if life be sacrificed so long as truth is realized? Passion is greater than existence, the meaning of life is of more worth than life itself.
The last few steps he took into this sphere were the most unforgettable and the most impressive in the gamut of his destiny. Never before had his mind been more lucid, his soul more impassioned, his words more tipped with joyful music, than when he hurled himself in full consciousness and wholeheartedly from the altitudes of life into the abyss of annihilation.
Why am I reproducing excerpts of Zweig’s book?
In the other thread Kurwenal asked me:
Would it not be more enriching to find out why Rosenberg considered Nietzsche to be one of us rather than to discuss which Jewish author gives a more or less faithful account of Nietzsche’s life and theories.
I see your point, and let me say that this blog has paid due homage to Nietzsche in that sense. See these entries:
By the way, if you can spare one hour of your time, I have tried to summarize the importance of Wagner and Nietzsche for our cause [links to Counter-Currents added].
I am a huge fan of Richard Wagner too. A couple of days ago for example I had to do some driving in Mexico City and the only way I could protect my mind from the nasty surroundings was precisely by listening the complete Second Act of Parsifal. It worked! I didn’t feel so depressed even when navigating in a sea of non-white troglodytes.
But there’s something more as to why I am excerpting Zweig, and it is so important that I will promote this response as a separate blog entry.
The reason that many years ago I read Zweig’s book and Ross’ and Janz’s biographies of Nietzsche has nothing to do with the discussion in this thread. It has to do with my quest about why Nietzsche, and many other people, lost their minds.
Before arriving to the nationalist camp my field of interest was advancing a counter-hypothesis to the medical model of mental disorders, insofar as I believe that biological psychiatry is a pseudoscience. That’s what, originally, moved me to read thick volumes originally written in German about Nietzsche’s life.
One of my dreams is that, if an ethno-state is formed in North America, their architects will do tabula rasa on the fraudulent professions of mental health (a “therapeutic state” as some critics of psychiatry say). White people will have to rediscover a field of research that the current System started to bury since the late 1970s, and especially in the 80s and 90s. Presently very few remember the trauma model of mental disorders (I started a Wikipedia article under that title). And my big hope is that this model, which unlike biopsychiatry is not unscientific, will be considered very seriously in the new white nation.
The gist of this model is that biographical narrative is pivotal to understand the personal tragedies that drive some people mad. That is the reason why I am adding chapter excerpts of Zweig’s The Struggle with the Daimon. It has nothing to do with a desire to pathologize Nietzsche. As you can see in my linked posts above, he obviously had great insights on important subjects. But we also got to understand why some people with perfectly healthy brains suffer permanent psychotic breakdowns.
This is a “software” problem of the human mind, not a “hardware” problem as the current System wants us to believe. (See my book Hojas Susurrantes for a full explanation of it.)