Parsifal

A short personal piece I wrote on Parsifal:

The first time I listened to Richard Wagner’s opera Parsifal, it made me feel physically sick. The only other opera that reliably had this effect on me at the time was Debussy’s Pélleas et Mélisande (a work deeply influenced by Parsifal), but my first viewing of that had been on video when I was in bed with the flu, so I put it down to the power of association combined with prolonged exposure to the peculiarities of singing in French. But I was in perfectly good health when, as a twenty-two-year-old, I borrowed the CDs of Parsifal from the local library…

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Wonder Boys?

From the New York Review of Books

Anyone who frequents research libraries in Europe or North America will know that it is not unusual to encounter in them individuals who appear to be rather introverted and yet sport oddly ostentatious hairstyles, with unkempt shocks of hair sprouting with peculiar abandon from their pallid male scalps. You can still encounter the odd Yeatsian dandy, but the slightly disheveled Einsteinian archetype seems largely to have prevailed in the academy, just as the Beethovenian archetype has long prevailed in the world of music. This phenomenon alone, the slightly embarrassing aping of the superficial attributes of genius, reveals an ersatz quality to the idea of genius we have inherited; even in the most solemn temples to intellectual achievement the notion is awkwardly associated with a good deal that is theatrical, preposterous, ridiculous…

Read full article here.


Adorno

This is the talk on Adorno that I gave recently at Harvard (wonderful conference; see poster here). Any comments (by email) very welcome. The plan is to expand it into a proper paper.

What did the Missa Solemnis mean to Adorno?


Nietzsche: ‘The Lightning Fire’

From the New York Review of Books

Nietzsche: ‘The Lightning Fire’

“Nietzsche does not belong entirely to philosophers. He was a philosopher-poet concerned not simply with describing and explaining the world as he found it, but with identifying and employing the electrifying arts that make the world appear uncanny and ineffably deep.”


The ‘Last Man’ Problem: Nietzsche and Weber on Political Attitudes to Suffering.

Brian Leiter discusses “The ‘Last Man’ Problem:  Nietzsche and Weber on Political Attitudes to Suffering.”

Read the paper here: ShawLast Man 2-1.0