I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

April 26, 2013 - 4:01 p.m.

My Beer is Rhinegold

I'm starting this way later than I planned. I will probably have to finish after class. But who knows I'm feeling inspired so perhaps I'll write quickly.

When I got home on Thursday I found a message from a friend asking me if I wanted tickets for Das Rheingold on Friday night. That's sort of like asking me if I want chocolate, the answer will always be yes. There is nothing grander than grand opera and no opera is grander than Wagner. I of course said yes. I thought I was going with the friend but I she couldn't go so I had two tickets. I'm never sure if I should mention the name of a benefactor like that, I usually err on the side of anonymity. Benefactor, if you prefer your name being used tell me, and I will use it.

So now came the hard part, finding someone to go with me. I got the tickets because he knew how much I love Wagner and not that many people go around saying they love Wagner. If my father was alive it would be a no brainer, I'd ask him. So I did the next best thing I asked beautiful women. My actual idea was a beautiful woman that liked opera and liked me. If Emilie was still here instead of England it would have been easy. She doesn't actually like Wagner but she likes me and opera and that would have sufficed. So I had to just guess on liking opera. Unfortunately the people I asked couldn't make it so I switched to plan two. Go on Facebook and say, "Who wants to see "Das Rheingold" with me?" Damon quickly said yes and that's who I went with. Good choice. Damon isn't a beautiful woman but he loves Wagner and in particular loves that opera. That's what I wanted, for the person to appreciate it.

I met him at the Met and we went to our seats. When I go to the Met I sit in the stratosphere and strain my neck to look down on the stage. These were in the Grand Tier, the best seats in the house; Interestingly enough in opera that is not considered to be the orchestra. We sat in the Grand Tier

In most operas the orchestra serves the singers. In Wagner everything, orchestra, singers, libretto, and sets are one. Every piece is essential and only in the totality can it be fully appreciated.

My benefactors favorite part is before the curtain goes up, it's the first note, a long held note by the bassoons. The first note is actually silence. The beginning of the music is the beginning of the world, for that is the tale of the Ring Cycle, the birth and death of everything. If you are familiar with the Nordic and Teutonic myths it's based on you can't help thinking of the frost that formed between the cold of Nilfheim and the fires of Muspellsheim. All of creation springs from this mist and the hoar frost that came of it. With the creation of the universe taken care of by the orchestra the story begins with the Rhine Maidens. I used the term grand for Wagner and people think of everything he does as grandiose. Some feel the scale is too big to be human. They just don't look carefully enough. For the seeds of the destruction of all in Gtterdmmerung is the vanity of the beautiful but shallow Maidens who taunt and tease the ugly gnome Albrecht. This is what leads him to renounce love and forge the ring of power from their gold. And it is the curse of the ring that brings the destruction. Das Rheingold was the last piece of the Ring Cycle written so the audience knows what is to follow. They know the consequences. It's pure genius.

I talked about the beginning now let's talk about the end. I have the same complaint about Wagner's Ring Cycle that I have about the Lord of the Ring movies. They morally degrade the heroes of the originals. Wotan (Odin) is an admirable figure in mythology. He's Christlike. He sacrificed his eye for wisdom so as to best put off the ragnarok, the end of the world. He is totally devoted to protecting the world for gods and men. He is not out for power for power's sake as he is in the operas. But the noble Wotan comes out at the end of the opera. Watching and listening as he leads the gods across the Rainbow Bridge into Valhalla is as close as you'll ever come to the ascension. You're a different species than me if you aren't moved by that scene. It is literally divine. Here you can see why he sacrificed so much and worked so hard to get Valhalla built. It is as pure a view of heaven as has ever been rendered.

My knees were in agony for much of the opera. They couldn't take being in the not very spacious seat. I eventually found my bottle of acetaminophen in my bag and took a couple. That reduced the agony to mere pain. I didn't think of getting up and leaving. I could not come back if I did. Like Valhalla the opera was called for making a sacrifice.

After it was over we walked outside and heard explosions. At first we thought it was thunder, gut it wasn't. It was fireworks. They were nearby by the sound but totally blocked from our view. There was also a cacophony of sirens from emergency vehicles. We felt like we left Das Rheingold for Gotterdammerung. Then I looked up and saw this;

That's the moon placed perfectly in the slot between two buildings. Damon took the picture.

This morning I was getting some of my negative feelings back that assaulted me last week. I was thinking about how to write about them here while I read the Times on my phone. Then someone started to play music loudly. I looked up and glared in the direction I thought the music came in. There was a young woman there with her head down. As you know I don't see so well. It wasn't till she looked up that I realized it was Kathy from wfuv. She saw me, smiled, and came over to join me. I spent the rest of the commute talking to her till she got off in midtown. It totally changed my mood. We are usually both busy at the station, she's worked there since she was a freshman and now she's graduated from grad school. It's been a while. Yet we usually don't get to talk much as she's usually busy someplace else in the station. It was so nice to just chat. We can still play getting to know you.

This totally changed my mood. Something similar happened last weekend when I ran into Jean when I changed trains on the way home. I was walking past her up the steps and she called me and we talked to her train came. And oddly it happened a few days before that when I ran into Seth though I could only talk to him for a minute till my train came. There is something affirming in chance meeting in the subway when someone goes out of their way to talk to you. At least when it's someone you really like. And that's the point. When it is someone you don't really like you don't go over to talk to them, you nod.

Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
Late to Bed and Late to Rise - September 30, 2017
On Your Feet or On Your Knees - September 29, 2017
Why Life Doesn't End on Closing Day - September 28, 2017
Anna and King of I Am - September 27, 2017

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Horvendile April 26, 2013
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