Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Germany: Bayreuth, The Ruling Class & Wagner

It looks as if Bayreuth may now be famous for another reason: its own son or was it Google’s.

Germany is not immune from the problems of the ruling class.

24 Feb 2011

German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has gotten his wish. After requesting that his alma mater withdraw his doctor title in the face of accusations that he plagiarized large sections of his dissertation, the University of Bayreuth complied on Wednesday evening. The minister's popularity does not seem to have suffered.

Now it is official. On Wednesday evening, following more than a week of mounting indications that German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg had inadequately cited several extensive passages in his dissertation, the University of Bayreuth, which had awarded him a Ph.D. in 2006, withdrew the title of doctor.

The Guardian
1 March 2011

“He was voted Germany's most popular politician, a chisel-jawed, gelled-haired aristocrat who held such rock-star status that his party used to play an AC/DC track every time he took to the stage. But Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has resigned as defence minister after being engulfed by a plagiarism scandal, leaving the ruling coalition with a serious charisma vacuum.

“His departure is a huge blow for Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union party (CDU). Already weakened after defeats in recent regional elections, she is facing the prospect of implosion at six other local polls this year.”

“Despite his privileged upbringing – or perhaps because of it – Guttenberg was hugely popular with the tabloid Bild newspaper, which rarely referred to him without mentioning that he was "Germany's most popular politician" – an honour he received via a poll in 2009, when he took the top spot from Angela Merkel. He was also referred to as the ‘German Kennedy’, with his stylish TV presenter wife inevitably described as his ‘Jackie O’.

“But over the past two weeks, Guttenberg has received yet more nicknames, most notably Baron zu Googleberg, the minister for cut and paste.”

Spiegel Again:

'You Have Lied and Deceived'
Germany's opposition remains unconvinced. Guttenberg was in parliament on Wednesday to face questions about the affair, and politicians from the center-left Social Democrats, the Green Party and the far-left Left Party demanded that he resign.
"You have lied and deceived," said leading SPD parliamentarian Thomas Oppermann. "I find it intolerable that the chancellor has decided that an academic impostor and a liar can continue to be a member of her cabinet." Jürgen Trittin of the Green Party said, "Ms. Chancellor, it cannot be allowable that the German military is commanded by a Felix Krull," a reference to Thomas Mann's famous con-man. Left Party parliamentarian Dietmar Bartsch, referring to Guttenberg's title as a baron, said "there was a time when the nobility knew what to do in such a position."

Wagner warned the Germans and the rest of the world a long time ago:
The dark side of the gods: (it is sometimes easier if one take GODS in the Ring to mean those in POWER. For the characters read here.) In fact, the gods need not work at all, the Nibelungs work almost all the time.

Disrespectful Wotan is hardly revered unanimously, and even he acknowledges higher authorities. Erda knows things he doesn't; his almost bureaucratic dominance derives solely from treaties engraved in runes on his spear, treaties to which he is subservient.

Born liars
Characters lie as it suits them. Events are initiated by Wotan's spurious promise to the Giants to pay them by giving them Freia in exchange for building Valhalla, a promise he knows he cannot keep, as she is the indispensable symbol of love whose golden apples keep the gods alive. His shady ally, Loge, is defined as a double-dealing trickster. Brünnhilde breaks her promise to her father to allow Siegmund to be killed in combat. Mime makes dissembling a veritable life's work, ably carried forward by his nephew, Hagen, in Götterdämmerung. 

Brünnhilde disobeys Wotan, and his grandson Siegfried destroys his power. Mime, who raises Siegfried from infancy and even makes him toys, is treated with disturbingly cruel contempt by the bumptious hero. Hagen, whom Alberich sired via gold-empowered lust as a tool to retrieve the Ring for him, mutters that if he succeeds he will keep it, not hand it over to his Nibelung father.

Thieving & Misappropriation 
……. misappropriation, of persons or of things, provides much of the plot machinery. First, 
Alberich plunders the Rhinegold, and afterward, theft of others' possessions, including the Ring, motivates action upon action. 

Incest and other illicit sex
The teasing of Alberich by the Rhinemaidens which leads to his abjuring love--love, not lust. The definitive heroine, Brünnhilde, and her Valkyrie sisters are the offspring of an adulterous liaison between Wotan and Erda; Wotan also illegitimately fathers the Wälsung twins by a mortal. Sieglinde's infidelity is excoriated by marriage-goddess Fricka, as is her violation with Siegmund of an even more basic taboo, incest. But Wotan defends the twins ("…those two are in love") and, like most audience members moved by the ardent love music, views both transgressions kindly. 

Fafner kills his brother Fasolt, the first victim of Alberich's curse, and we are off to the homicide races. Hunding slays Siegmund, only to be destroyed by Wotan's contempt. Siegfried kills Fafner, the Giant-turned-dragon, and then, after realizing that Mime is trying to poison him, kills him as well. By the time the gods' destiny climaxes, Hagen has murdered both Siegfried and Gunther and is himself drowned by the Rhinemaidens. Eventually Brünnhilde sets Valhalla ablaze as part of her self-immolation upon Siegfried's funeral pyre ("Thus do I hurl the torch into Valhalla's proud-standing stronghold") and all the gods die.
Greed, greed, greed!
Finally, "coveting that which is your neighbor's" is pretty much the whole raison d'être for the Ring story, starting with Alberich's desire for the Rhinemaidens, then for the gold they guard. Thereafter everybody seems to want what doesn't belong to him or her: the Ring, a sword, a treasure, someone else's wife, sheer power. 

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