Friday, September 27, 2013

Wagner's Abnormal Mind - part 5: Wagner was Queer

Wagner was queer. I use queer to mean outside of “heteronormity,” in which what is considered to be normal, natural and proper is heterosexuality, with men being masculine and women being feminine.

Mocking Wagner back in his day.
He did like satin slippers, but he didn't have a shoe fetish.
I am putting this post in the “abnormal mind” series for two reasons. One is that, more than any other thing in his life until the last forty years (in which his anti-Semitism became the focus), the fact of his queerness was the focus for the vast majority of attacks on him and the basis for asserting he suffered pathological issues. His critics believed abnormal equalled pathology. For me, in contrast, “abnormal” merely means a minority-behavior pattern and has no necessary relationship whatsoever to pathology. Specifically, in Wagner’s case, none of what I write below about Wagner’s queerness is at all pathological in my book, and there is no evidence that his true psychological problems were related to it except, of course, for the added stress that came from people mocking him.

In this post, I draw greatly from the excellent book Wagner and the Erotic Impulse, by Laurence Dreyfus. While I have long believed all that Dreyfus writes about, his research has been very helpful to me in pulling this together quickly. Anyone who wants more details should read his book.

The feminine Wagner

Wagner didn’t fit into masculine norms: in the privacy of his own home, he liked to wear, touch, smell and see things—very soft things—that he associated with the feminine, particularly when composing.

As Dreyfus wrote in his book,

“...the composer seems to have experienced a sensuous harmony, erotic arousal, and a creative surge when both wearing and touching women’s satin garments in the privacy of his personal grottos, always enhanced by the pronounced sent of roses.”1

At each of his homes, he developed a sanctuary of femininity for inspiration. I described that lair in the last post. His seamstress Bertha Goldwag adds details, recounting one such room in her reminisces in 1906:

A single room about the size of a closest was decorated with extravagant splendor in keeping with Wagner’s most detailed instructions. The walls were lined with silk, with relievo garlands all the way around. From the ceiling hung a wonderful lamp with a gentle beam. The whole of the floor was covered in heavy and exceptionally soft rugs in which your feet literally sank....No one was allowed to enter this room. Wagner always remained there alone.2

Wagner believed that “love was the eternal feminine itself,”3 and his music was always centered on love. Therefore, he wanted to be in touch with the feminine as he wrote, to be both man and woman at the same time. From all evidence—his autobiography, letters, prose and music—he was personally very comfortable with his feminine side, and considered it a crucial part of his sensitivity and of necessity for this work. That said, he was well aware of societal attitudes about it and that his compositional methods would lead to public scorn, so he did his best to hide his penchants. Normally, that meant others—people close to him who understood his needs—were dispatched to buy his silk and satin, his perfumes, his negligées and silk panties.

Among his couriers was Nietzsche, according to this account from a friend of his:

Nietzsche asked me in the most concerned manner where he might find a good silk shop in Basel. Eventually he admitted he had undertaken to shop for a pair of silk underpants for Wagner, and this important matter filled him with anxiety; for—added the smiling iconoclast—“once you’ve chosen a God, you’ve got to adorn him.4

During the composition of Parsifal, his principal courier—and his muse—was Judith Gautier.

Portrait of Judith by John Singer Sargent, 1885
He was sending her his orders for perfume, satin, bath oils, silk undergarments, et al., via the post. It was a very flirtatious correspondence, so various biographers have assumed that they had a sexual affair. However, there is only scant evidence to make that case, particularly in that the two were rarely in each other’s presence. And when they were, they were generally under Cosima’s watchful eye. Judith denied the affair categorically, for what that is worth. In any case, like Mathilde Wesondonck before her, it really doesn’t matter whether they did or they didn’t. Wagner clearly was in love for the final time in his life. Dreyfus writes: “The erotic side of Wagner’s obsession [with all things feminine] emerges most clearly when one reads his letters to Judith Gautier, in which each successive paragraph alternates between the evocation of soft caresses and an uncompromising list of fabrics and scents Gautier was to supply.”5 Cosima ultimately found out about the letters and put an end to his correspondence, but Wagner quickly found another perfume mule
this time a man, to keep Cosima’s ire down.

His precautions to hide his proclivities failed when someone stole and published sixteen letters to his seamstress Bertha Goldwag’s—she swears that she didn’t sell them—in which Wagner meticulously detailed his feminine needs. Those letters opened the floodgates of mockery, and were the central exhibit in judging Wagner pathological for over a century, as I mentioned above and wrote about last post. All I can say is, what judgmental jerks! I mean, I personally don’t “get” why he had those needs, as I don’t share his passions, but I get that they were deeply a part of him. People’s desire to put down, harass and otherwise torment those who are different from them creates much of the ills of this world. I am rather the polar opposite from Wagner, but am in the same queer world: I am a transvestite myself, but a woman who will not wear feminine clothing at all has, in this day and age,  become acceptable. Hopefully, the day comes when male transvestites are just as accepted.

The man who coined the term transvestites—and first addressed fetishism—was the pioneering German sex researcher and very early gay rights activist Magnus Hirschfeld.  In his 1910 book Die Transvestiten, he includes a whole chapter on Wagner, entitled “Explanation of Richard Wagner’s Letters to a Milliner.” Unlike most everyone else until modern day, he wasn’t judgmental, but wrote:

Wagner’s particular inclination justifies assuming that there is a feminine characteristic in his psyche.... [But this inclination] in no way deserves mockery and scorn...[but instead] gives evidence of the unusually rich and subtle complexity of [Wagner’s] inner life, the continued study of which would be a difficult as well as rewarding task.6

There is no doubt that his music was extraordinarily sensual. As Thomas Mann wrote, “who could
fail to notice the rustle of satin in Wagner’s work?”7 Barry Millington, in his new book The Sorcerer of Bayreuth, after surveying the evidence of his feminine preoccupation puts it this way:

In the final analysis, then, Wagner’s fetish for silks and satins, his obsessive desire to be surrounded by soft material and sweet fragrances, is not an embarrassment to be swept under one of his deep-piled Smynra rugs. On the contrary, these tendencies provide a key to the music, which would not be what it is had the composer been a model of ascetic Calvinist rigor. It is entirely appropriate that such a man would leave this world in a pink satin dressing gown.8

The man-loving Wagner

He was not homosexual; from all evidence, he only had sex with women. However, Wagner was bi-emotional. That is, he fell in love with both men and women and had, essentially, romantic, though sexless, affairs with both men and, sometimes, women (as I believe was the case with both Judith Gautier and Mathilde Wesondonck).

Even when not “in love,” he was a strikingly emotional guy. For instance, his good friend and supporter, Franz Liszt, wrote an account of Wagner's histrionics at their reunion after a 4-year gap in 1854:

Wagner was waiting for me at the post-house. We nearly chocked each other in embraces. Sometimes he has a sort of eaglet’s cry in his voice. He wept and laughed and stormed with joy for at least a quarter of hour at seeing me again.9

Assuming he wasn't in love with Liszt, can you imagine how he acted around a man—or woman—whom he was in love with??  (Truly, Wagner was very much like an puppy, both in good and bad ways.)

Regarding homosexuality, Wagner was very liberal-minded for his time, though he felt it was an immature form of sexual attraction, with sexual love between man and woman reigning supreme. That said, he had several gay friends over the years. Towards the end of his life, he was very good friends with the Russian painter, Parsifal stage designer, and aristocrat Paul von Jourkowky and his lover, an Italian of lower-class origins named Pepino, who were frequent visitors to the house. Cosima reports Wagner as saying about their relationship: “It is something for which I have understanding, but no inclination.”10

Though he wasn’t interested sexually, Wagner was able to conceptualize, and rationalize, his romantic friendships with men via the Greek same-sex love ideal. He wrote in the Artwork of the Future a peaen to same-sex love:

The higher element of same-sex love excluded the aspect of selfish pleasure [my emphasis]. Nevertheless it not only included a purely spiritual bond of friendship, but [one] which blossomed from and crowned the sensuous friendship. This sprang directly from delight in the ...sensuous bodily beauty of the beloved man; yet this delight was no mere sexual yearning, but a thorough abnegation of self into the unconditional sympathy with the with the lover’s joy in himself involuntarily expressed by the joyous bearing prompted by his beauty.

He goes on for some time about this topic but basically he concludes: same-sex love is awesome if you take out the sex. As with the Greek ideal, it is about an older man as teacher and younger man as inspiration. Wagner says of this collaboration, “the most beautiful and noble love would blossom forth.”

His romantic friendships with menjust as with womenall revolved around him, and they were equally expected to be self-sacrificing to his needs and goals, putting their own pursuits as clearly secondary to his. He was able to attract a number of smart and talented men to make this pledge. Among his romantic friendships of this type were with the pianist Karl Tausig, who died at 28,

the composer Peter Cornelius

the opera singer Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld, (who famously died soon after originating the role of Tristan and said on his deathbed: “Oh! my Richard loved me! How contentedly I die!),

van Schnorr
King Lugwig II,
Ludwig II
the writer and music critic Heinrich Porges,

Friedrich Nietzsche,
 and the conductor Hermann Levi

In most cases, the younger man was more smitten than Wagner, though there is a good case to be made that in Ludwig and Nietzche’s case, the passion was mutual. In any case, Dreyfus argues in his book, “the biographical evidence shows with some consistency that Wagner encouraged, even groomed, each Romantic Friend to understand and fulfill his assigned role as the adoring, self-sacrificing younger lover.”11 Nietzche’s celebrated break-up with Wagner can best be understood as the philosopher casting off this role of underling to be able to spread his own wings; Wagner was heartbroken. The story of their remarkable friendship has been told many places, but a good place to start is the 60-page appendix “Wagner and Nietzsche” in Bryan Magee’s Tristan Chord.

Just to get a flavor of his romantic friendships, I will quote from just one of his many très romantiques letters to his benefactor, King Ludwig II:

Dearest, dearest, magnificent Friend!...
Dear, Dear heavenly Friend! How you brighten my poor harassed existence. I feel so deeply, deeply satisfied and elevated through your love, through my — through our love! No words can express what this wonderful relationship between us means. Might I die—on the evening of my Tristan, with a last glance up to your eyes, with a last grasp of your hand!
Affectioned, blessed, divine Friend!
How deep, how deep is the bottom of our Love!
Suffering, but blissful–
Eternally yours
Richard Wagner12

Some have argued that Wagner, needing Ludwig’s money, was just trying to string him along. However, Wagner wrote many letters to friends also extolling Ludwig and his love for him. For instance, to his good friend—and confidant—Eliza Wille, he wrote many letters of this type. Here is an excerpt from just one:

At last a love relationship which doesn’t lead to suffering and torments! This is how it is when I see this magnificent youth before me.... He stays mostly in a little castle in my proximity; in 10 minutes the carriage takes me to him. Our conversations are ravishing. I always fly to him as a lover.13

Yes, there came a time when the “in love” period faded for both of them and conflicts set in. But, that he had an emotional affair—romantic love—with Ludwig, and several other men, there can be no doubt.

Tristan and Isolde: a very queer opera

Wagner showed support for love that strayed beyond normal societal bounds, including same-sex love, in more than one opera. I’ve always thought that Die Walküre—in which Woton (read Wagner) made it clear that true love between siblings was morally better than any marriage without love— was particularly supportive in a rather over-the-top way. This was appreciated early on, as Wagner enjoyed a robust gay following then and now.

Dreyfus investigated the history of reaction to Wagner’s homoerotic themes and found that most of the writing was critical to damning. However, with the beginnings of the early gay rights movement, that begin to change. According to Dreyfus,“[t]he first writer to reject a defamatory approach to Wagner’s homoerotics was the German author Hanns Fuchs, whose book Richard Wagner and Homosexuality appeared in Berlin in 1903.”14 Dreyfus relates, “Fuchs scours Wagner’s opera librettos and poems for traces of intense Freundeslibe (romantic friendship) and has a fairly easy time of it. He finds “spiritual homosexuality” all across Wagner’s oeuvre, beginning with Die Feen, but it is particularly concentrated in Tristan and Parsifal.”15

I am going to ignore Parsifal because, really, all the characters in it are very...odd. Sure, many of the guys could be seen as non-heterosexual—Klingsor and Parsifal, particularly—but they hardly seem like they they are having feelings of romantic love for men. But Tristan and Isolde: now that is one queer opera! Yes, the opera centers, it is true, on the fateful True Love romance between Tristan and Isolde. But, simultaneously, it is also, as Fuchs puts it, a “consecration of romantic friendship” as well. Beyond the central protagonists, all the characters seem to be in love with someone of the same sex. Brangange and Kurnewal, servants to Isolde and Tristan, are a matched pair, each in love with those they serve. Both the music and lyrics tell us this, reinforced through the stage instructions that Wagner left. For instance, here is Brangage trying to calm Isolde with sweet endearments:

O Süsse! Traute!  [My sweetheart! Beloved!]
Teure! Holde!  [Dearest! Beautiful one!]
Goldne Herrin!  [Golden mistress!]
Lieb' Isolde!  [Dear Isolde!]

Wagner’s stage instructions: first Brangagne “flings herself upon Isolde with impetuous affection,” and then “gradually draws her to the couch.”16 The music is of utter desperation.  

In The Artwork of the Future, Wagner had written of same-sex male love that the bond between the men “knit the fellowships of love into battalions of war and military order that prescribed death-defying tacts to rescue the threatened lover or to exact vengeance if he fell in battle.”17 In Tristan, Wagner put that idea in the opera. Kurnewal exacts vengeance on the traitor Melot, sacrificing himself to be with Tristan. To music of sad love and longing he sings: “Tristan! Beloved! Scold me not, so the faithful one may follow you!” Thus, there are two love-deaths in the opera, Tristan and Isolde’s and Tristan and Kurnewal’s.

And then there is King Marke, who sings the—to me—extraordinarily touching 13-minute soliloquy to Tristan about his tremendous hurt that his beloved—Tristan—would betray him. Isolde is basically irrelevant in this. That is absolutely not the way it normally works in traditional opera, where the woman’s betrayal would be the focus. But Wagner clearly wanted to highlight Romantic Friendships between same-sex people; he did it beautifully and movingly, might I add.

Then there is the betrayer and former friend, Melot. There are a whole lot of clues that he, too, was in love with Tristan. Melot becomes jealous when Tristan becomes enraptured with Isolde. Thus, it is the old “if I can’t have you, nobody can.” When he dies on Kurnewal’s sword, his last words—of course—are to Tristan: “Weh mir, Tristan,” (Woe is me, Tristan.)

Six major characters: four in love with someone of the same sex, two dead, two in mourning. All of the four suffered from unrequited love. As for Tristan and Isolde, they never consummate their union but suffer greatly through yearning for the other. Only in death do they actually become one. There you have Wagner’s view of the path to true love!

1 Laurence Dreyfus, Wagner and the Erotic Impulse, 147.  Read here for a good review of the book.
2 Spencer, ed., Wagner Remembered, 149
3 Millington and Spencer, ed., Selected Letters of Wagner, 307; in letter to August Röckel in January, 1854
4 Dreyfus, 135
5 Dreyfus 147
6 as quoted in Dreyfus, 150
7 Thomas Mann, Pro and Contra Wagner, 137, within the wonderful essay “The Sorrows and Grandeur of Richard Wagner”
8 Millington, the conclusion of his chapter  15 “In the Pink.”   I read it on-line so I do not have a page reference, but the whole chapter is available to searching Google Books.
9 as quoted in Newman, Life of Richard Wagner, Vol. 2, 384
10 Cosima Wagner Diaries, vol 2, 631, February 25, 1881
11 Dreyfus, 214
12 as quoted in Dreyfus, 199
13 Selected Letters, 602-603
14 Dreyfus, 188
15 Dreyfus, 204
16 as quoted in Dreyfus, 205
17 as quoted in Dreyfus, 207

Friday, September 20, 2013

Wagner's Abnormal Mind - Part 4: His Sensitivity

The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive. To them… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death.” Attributed to Pearl Buck

There are many academic concepts about sensitivity—all concurring that some people are born innately more sensitive though from different perspectives—which you can explore here.  And there is much research that those who are highly sensitive—whatever the mechanism—are more apt to be creative. Here is a good article about why this is theorized to be so. 

For this blog, I would like to introduce two of these basic concepts before moving on to their application to Richard Wagner. If you are fully familiar with them, just skip to the part on Wagner himself.

Sensory Processing Sensitivity (Highly Sensitive Person)

In 1997, Elaine Aron, along with her husband Arthur, postulated the existence of “sensory processing sensitivity” (SPS) in this seminal paper. In popular jargon, the same thing is called the “highly sensitive person” (HSP). Both terms were coined by Elaine Aron: one for the scientist and one for the lay person.

Essentially, they reevaluated earlier personality trait research on emotionality and social introversion under a different lens, and argue that underlying what is often perceived as shyness is actually an in-born and effective survival strategy, and it doesn’t necessarily even include “shyness” per se. They argue that there are two general modes of existence: either a more bold strategy without much observation—the “just go for it” type—or a more observant strategy—the “check it out and go if safe” type. The idea is if there are no predators, the bold strategy wins; if there are lots of predators, the observant types win. Underlying this “bold” or “observant” behavior is essentially “responding more or responding less to the environment.” The “observant” actor—while generally being perceived as “shy”—could actually become bolder than the “bold” actor the next time the same circumstances arrived, as he or she was such a keen observer and could behave quite differently with the acquired knowledge.  In a nutshell, the bold are less sensitive to stimuli; the observant are more sensitive.

The theory proposes that SPS is “a genetically determined trait involving a deeper (in the sense of Craik and Lockhart, 1972) cognitive processing of stimuli that is driven by higher emotional reactivity.”1  They have postulated that about 15-20% of people are born with this trait. The people with SPS were found to have a constellation of four general traits that are correlated:
  • Depth of processing
  • Over-aroused (easily compared to others)
  • Emotional reactivity and high empathy
  • Sensitive to subtle stimuli
A potentially good part of being highly sensitive is greater appreciation for and intensity of sensory detail. Essentially, they perceive life in a much more rich way – what would be imperceptibly subtle to the less sensitive is easily evident to the highly sensitive. They tend to have particularly strong appreciation for art and nature. Of course, this could also be a torment in that they can react strongly negative to things as well: too much noise, a coarse piece of clothing, a bad odor—even an ugly color—can affect the highly sensitive person in a drive-them-out-of-their-mind way. 

The biggest downside for the highly sensitive person is the feeling of sensory or emotional overwhelm creating a need to retreat from stimuli. In her book, The Highly Sensitive Person, Aron puts it this way:

What is moderately arousing for most people is highly arousing for HSPs. What is highly arousing for most people causes an HSP to become frazzled indeed, until they reach a shut-down point called “transmarginal inhibition.2

Other strong traits among people who are highly sensitive is enormous empathy—reacting to another person’s or animals pain far more than is normal for the “insensitive”3—and perfectionism. Of the latter, I am not sure why that is strongly correlated with high sensitivity, but here is Elaine Aron’s take of the reason. 

She created a 27-item “Highly Sensitive Person scale” (HSPS) in order to help identify those in the general population who were born with this trait and, therefore, to do research on and create increased scientific grounding for their theory. Here is the self-test. According to Aron, for the people who answer “yes” to 14 or more statements they are “probably highly sensitive.”  The more strongly you agree with a category—and the more categories you strongly agree with—the more you likely are a HSP.

Since their 1997 paper, multiple studies have found—including many neurological studies— that people who score high on the HSP test scale do in fact respond differently than those who do not; their brains do work differently. Thus there has been clear scientific confirmation for their theories. The Aron’s, along with co-author Jadzia Jagiellowicz, summarized the research in this area, from both studies of animals and humans, in this 2010 paper.4 

Aron also reworked the thesis for a general audience, replacing scientific jargon with more easily understood lay language, which can be found here. Her central point is that these traits are in-born, can have both great advantages and also great disadvantages, but are not a pathology and just a natural part of human variation. However, she contends that a negative childhood environment can lead to pathology because the HSP can become easily overwhelmed in the modern world. Without learning ways to effectively cope—and with negative messaging about the person being “too sensitive”—problems can easily develop.

This level of sensitivity has been associated with shyness though it is not basic to the trait of sensitivity; Aron estimates that about 70% of highly sensitive people are introverted, but the rest are not. She argues that many of those who are highly sensitive but not introverted also inherited a in-born tendency to sensation seeking, which, as defined by a leading researcher Marvin Zuckerman, is the ‘seeking of varied, novel, complex, and intense sensations and experiences, and the willingness to take physicalsociallegal, and financial risks for the sake of such experience.5 

Aron writes in this Psychology Today article, 

You can inherit the genetic variations that lead both to being highly sensitive and a high sensation seeker, so this may be another way, besides being raised to be social, that you can be both highly sensitive and extraverted, but it may be more accurate in this case to call it highly sensitive and high sensation seeking. This combo, as one person put it, "is like driving with one foot on the gas, the other on the brake."

Aron has also developed a self-test for high sensation seeking that can be found here.

While I haven’t found that she has done any research on the connection between being highly sensitive and cyclothymia or bipolar disorder, the connection to having a tendency to significant mood changes—though not necessarily, of course, to a psychological disorder—is fairly evident and almost inevitable for the highly sensitive.

This article in Psychology Today by Andrea Bartz makes this connection clear:

The HSP's touchy nervous system leads to a touchy temperament. Like the princess sensing the pea below her tower of mattresses, HSPs perceive the slightest sensory or emotional provocation, then respond with a flurry of brain activity that begets an outsize reaction—rumination, tears, histrionics, on one hand, or unbridled enthusiasm on the other. Their personalities may run the gamut from moody to dramatic—all the product of their unique biology.... HSPs inhabit a teeming world of vibrant colors, sharp smells, striking sounds, and powerful tugs at their emotions.  

One man, both highly sensitive and bipolar, wrote this about the connection: “Imagine HSP superimposed with bipolar. In many cases the overlay is so perfect that it is virtually impossible to sort out illness from personality, state from trait.

Ernest Hartman introduced the concept of people with thin-boundaries, which is easily compatible with the concept of the HSP.

As related in the just-quoted Psychology Today article,
In his schema, people with thin mental boundaries do not clearly separate the contents of consciousness, so that a fantasy life of daydreaming may bump right up against everyday reality. It's as if those with thin boundaries have porous shells that allow more of their environment to penetrate and "get" to them—and into their dreams. Hartmann's concept of the thin-boundaried seemed to suggest that there indeed exists a group of people who take in a whole lot more than others.
According to this website,
Hartmann first came to his conception in an interesting way. In the 1980s, he was studying people who have nightmares and noticed that they could also readily recall other vivid or colorful dreams even if they didn’t qualify as nightmares. These people seemed to him especially “sensitive,” “vulnerable,” or “imaginative,” in contrast with other people who came across as more “solid,” “stoic,” or “persevering.” He suspected that there are real brain and body differences between thin and thick boundary people, and he developed a questionnaire to gain more insight.
You can find that questionnaire here. A shorter version here (with quick scoring results).  He has administered it to hundreds of student artist and musicians, the vast majority who tested positive for “thin boundaries” while non-artists were much less likely to do so, supporting the thesis that sensitivity and creatively are linked.  People’s test results ended up on a bell curve; I tended to the “thick-boundary” side of the curve, unsurprisingly to me.

Thin-boundary people let more sensory data in — more from the eyes, the ears, the tongue, the body, the nose. Most “insensitive” people have a strong filter for “irrelevant” sensory information so as to make the world easily navigable; those with HSP and thin-boundaries have much less ability to turn off this stream. The only time I have experienced anything similar is on LSD. To me, it sounds like all these sensitive folks are on a low dose of LSD their entire lives.  I found a little confirmation of this from this blog of a HSP:
HSPs can get relaxed, chatty, and uninhibited without alcohol--and can take blissful mental "trips" without LSD. A few lucky HSPs who were around in the 1960s even avoided those dangerous experiments with drugs, because nothing our friends seemed to experience on drugs seemed much more interesting than what we experienced while meditating
Life is just way more intense for them, in both good and bad ways.

How the above relates Wagner

So, what is this information doing here? Wagner can’t fill in those self-tests, but there can be no doubt that his letters and autobiography scream out the answers. If you have been reading my blog, I hope it is already fairly clear to you that these psychological categories—a highly sensitive, high sensation-seeking person with thin boundaries—describe Wagner to a T, and far better than any DSM pathological category, may I add. I believe this complex of character traits is at the very heart of his personality, explains a tremendous amount about him and creates a more sympathetic understanding of what went wrong—and what went right—with Wagner. If I had more time and space, I could demonstrate point by point how closely he matches all the principal traits of people who are highly sensitive and sensation-seeking and thin-boundaried, but I don’t really have that luxury in my world right now—it would be a book—so I will highlight some of the more important points. I hope by raising this, though, it will give a little more depth and complexity to Wagner’s psychological biography and that the next major biographer of Wagner will take his in-born traits into better account as he or she researches and writes it.

One of the key “bad” traits of high sensitive people is the feeling of overwhelm and frazzled nerves and the resultant need for peace and quiet. This was the story of his life.

Wagner was forever complaining about his nerves and had to frequently stop work for long stretches – weeks or months – to heal. “My nerves are shattered,” he wrote to Franz Liszt in 1850.6 In 1852 to his friend Theodor Uhlig he wrote, “I do not know whether it comes from inside me, or from outside, if I am again unwell. As far as my bodily functions are concerned, I must say that I am tolerably healthy: but – my nerves!”7 Later in the year, again to Uhlig, he wrote, “The time I spend at work never lasts more than 2 hours; through working for 5-6 hours, as I often used to do in the past, I seriously overtaxed my nerves.”8 Two months later, on a mountain trek to calm his nerves, he writes: “I am walking a lot, and am very good on my feet; only my head continues to be a source of dissatisfaction: my cerebral nerves are in an appalling state: overexcitement or lassitude — but no real sense of calm!”9 To his friend Julie Ritter, he further explained his artistic/mind problem: “I had previously completed the poem of the “Walküre” in the space of a month, without any interruption, and I could tell only too well from the results of this exertion how things really stood with me. My cerebral nerves were so badly affected that I found myself (other people can understand none of this) in a desperate state, but this much at least was clear, namely that if I am to produce anything else, it can only be achieved by subjecting my entire nervous system to the most elaborate course of treatment.”10 And subject himself he did—to months of a dietary and water cure. But, alas, he was never really cured as he pointed out “there is only one true remedy – and that is for me to be someone other than I am.”11

And so it went for the rest of his life. In a letter in September of 1882, writing from his last home in Venice several months before his death, he wrote to Angelo Neuman, “I am still suffering from the effects of nervous exhaustion to which I can hope to put an end only by lasting and undisturbed rest. I am doing all I can to make this possible.”12

In terms of his sensory sensitivity, I would like to give you a little portrait of his creative process as an example.  By way of preamble, in this letter to his Franz Liszt he writes about his creative needs:

...if I am obliged once more to plunge into the waves of an artist’s imagination in order to find satisfaction in an imaginary world, I must at least help out my imagination and find means of encouraging my imaginative faculties. I cannot live like a dog, I cannot sleep on straw and drink common gin: mine is an intensely irritable, acute, and hugely voracious, yet uncommonly tender and delicate sensuality which, one way or another, must be flattered if I am to accomplish the cruelly difficult task of creating in my mind a non-existent world.13

Now, he has been greatly mocked for the letter above, but I personally think it is just the truth, and I don’t feel the need to judge him as others seem to do.

So what did he do to help out his “imaginative facilities?” In order to keep himself in the right mood, he wanted to have everything “just so,” a completely controlled environment in time and space. He craved regularity, composing daily in an extended span of time after a meal – generally from mid-morning to mid-afternoon or until nervous exhaustion overcame him. He needed to be surrounded by beauty. Muted lighting was a must; uninterrupted quiet paramount. Wagner’s surroundings had to be visually and aromatically alluring, full of vibrant colors and potent fragrances. His needs for his sanctuary, as for all aspects of his life, were very specific and detailed. To his seamstress, Bertha Goldwag, he wrote multiple letters of incredible detail to produce the ideal lair accompanied by befitting apparel (among his many talents: he designed his own clothes). As a small illustration, in requesting a dark pink “fine heavy satin” fabric sample, he added “do not confuse [it] with the earlier violent pink, which is not what I mean here, but genuine pink, only very dark and fiery.”14 While he composed, he liked to stroke, smell and gaze at the satin for inspiration. Wagner disliked seeing lines and hard surfaces as he composed but wanted everything to flow (presumably like his music). The furniture and the carpet all had to be soft, plush. The lining of his clothing required silk or satin because other material “produced a shudder sensation throughout the body.”15 Goldwag said all his clothes had to be scented in rose fragrance and “lined and wadded, as Wagner was always complaining that he was cold.”16

In this manner, through controlling his environment and massaging his senses, he found inspiration. Given that the writing process often overwhelmed him, fraying his nerves, it could be that what inspired him also overwhelmed him to some degree. It was always a balancing act to produce his music.

Wagner clearly fits into the thin-boundary schema as he always had a foot into another world, be it his feminine world of composing, his death-fantasy world, his dream world, or the theater world. He was very aware of his thin boundaries and sensitivity. He writes in Mein Leben, “From earliest childhood certain mysterious and uncanny phenomena produced undue effects on me; I remember, whenever I was alone in a room for any length of time and looked fixedly at such inanimate objects as pieces of furniture, [I would] suddenly burst into a loud shriek, because they seemed to come alive.”17  From his music, I always thought that Wagner seemed like he had been an acid-head though that was historically impossible; I now realize it was just his natural state. Read this semi-dreamy passage of his attraction to the theater to get a sense of his life in fantasy along with the development of the allure and his attraction to the feminine:
In connection with this childish terror [nightly nightmares], what attracted me so strongly to the theatre—by which I mean also the stage, the rooms behind the scenes, and the dressing-rooms—was not so much the desire for entertainment and amusement such as that which impels the present-day theatre-goers, but the fascinating pleasure of finding myself in an entirely different atmosphere, in a world that was purely fantastic and often gruesomely attractive. Thus to me a scene, even a wing, representing a bush, or some costume or characteristic part of it, seemed to come from another world, to be in some way as attractive as an apparition, and I felt that contact with it might serve as a lever to lift me from the dull reality of daily routine to that delightful region of spirits. Everything connected with a theatrical performance had for me the charm of mystery, it both bewitched and fascinated me, and while I was trying, with the help of a few playmates, to imitate the performance of Der Freischutz, and to devote myself energetically to reproducing the needful costumes and masks in my grotesque style of painting, the more elegant contents of my sisters' wardrobes, in the beautifying of which I had often seen the family occupied, exercised a subtle charm over my imagination; nay, my heart would beat madly at the very touch of one of their dresses.18
His attraction to the feminine was obviously not just outside of him in terms of desiring relationships with women, but also inside of him, in desiring to wear, touch and be surrounded by those things considered feminine. Clearly, it was part of his sensitivity, his thin-boundary nature.

Most people who write about these needs of his put it down to some sort of fetishism. So maybe people who have fetishes are, in fact, just highly sensitive or thin-boundaried people who would like to live in peace in their own more permeable world where the boundaries are, indeed, much looser. We, the insensitive majority, just don’t understand, and we clearly have a need to label such behavior outside the norm in a insulting way. But insensitives are not writing great works of art such as his; the sensitivities are. Thus, I will take the one who died in a pink silk negligée—bless his little heart, Wagner did—over the typical guy who, say, dies with cotton boxers on. Only the guy that would do such a thing in his day and age could have possibly written Tristan and Isolde, and the world is a better place for it.

I think he looks lovely in pink. (The guy behind him in this cartoon
was thejournalist who revealed his taste for the feminine.)
More on the man in pink next week.

1 Aron, E., Aron A., and Jagiellowicz, J. (2012) Sensory processing sensitivity: A review in the light of the evolution of biological responsivity. Personality and Social Psychology Review16, 262.  My summary of the underlying mechanism of SPS is a paraphrase of what the authors wrote in this paper on page 263 and this post by Elaine Aron.  I used the word “observant” where she used the word “shy.” Since she later argues that this isn’t necessarily an introverted trait, I didn’t want to use the word “shy” as it would be misleading without much more explanation, as she gives in her paper.
2 Aron, The Highly Sensitive Person, page 7
3 I thought it might be nice to turn the tables on the less sensitive and just use the word “insensitive.” Obviously, it is a matter of comparison and they/we are just less sensitive, not without sensitivity. But the majority has tormented the more sensitive for too-long with the you are being too sensitive taunt, so I am just being flip here. Forgive me. 
4 I have the paper if someone wants to read it and doesn’t have access to it through academia. It’s very interesting and well worth reading.
5 Zuckerman, Behavioral Expressions and Biosocial Bases of Sensation Seeking, 28.  If you are interested in more information about sensation seeking, go here.
6 Millington and Spencer, eds., Selected Letters of Richard Wagner, April 21, 1850, 199
7 Ibid, January, 12, 1852, 244-245
8 Ibid, May 31, 1852, 260
9 Ibid, July 15, 1852, 263
10 Ibid, August 7, 1852, 265
11 Ibid, 263
12 Ibid, September 29, 1882, 929
13 Ibid, January 15, 1984, 297
14 Ibid, June 1864, 620; In terms of this general portrait, read the chapter “In the Pink” from Millington’s The Sorcerer of Bayreuth and the chapter “Pathologies from Dreyfus’ Wagner and the Erotic Impulse
15 Spencer ed., Wagner Remembered, 89
16 Ibid, 150
17 Wagner, Mein Leben, 13

18 Ibid, 13-14

Friday, September 13, 2013

Wagner's Abnormal Mind - Part 3: His Creative Drive and Pathology

Thus far in my series on Wagner’s abnormal mind, I have argued there is a connection between various mental illnesses—particularly on the bipolar spectrum—and creativity. But, in those same blog posts, I also argued against reductionism, in that each brain is utterly unique, and attempting to slot people into mental health categories can conceal as much as it reveals. I think this is particularly true of Wagner.

To begin my psychological portrait of him, I wrote here about Wagner’s formative years: his basic character traits and his difficult childhood. To summarize those traits, I believe they fall into two general categories: First, there was his extreme sensitivity, which included his emotionality, i.e his strong reaction to visual stimuli including hallucinations, nightmares, a variety of fears, intensely strong reaction to animals suffering, and so forth. Second, there was his headstrong nature, self-confidence and optimism as was revealed, for example, in choosing to, secretly, forgo school and instead write the “great” drama Leubald, and his subsequent decision to set it to music, even though he had no musical training.

Given the relative paucity of reliable accounts of his childhood, it isn’t until late adolescence and early adulthood that another of his basic character tendencies comes into clear focus: his cyclothymic nature, that is his tendency to cycle—often quickly and strongly—between feelings of ecstasy and enlightenment (hypomania) to feelings of rage or depression. I have already written about this characteristic in this general post on his personality, but I will just repeat one quote from his friend, Edward Shure, to give you a sense of it:

His high spirits overflowed into a joyous froth of acts of sheer buffoonery and eccentric jokes, but the least contradiction provoked unprecedented anger. Then he was like a caged lion, roaring like a wild animal, pacing the room, his voice growing hoarse and the words coming out like cries, his words striking at random. He then seemed like an unleashed force of nature, a volcano erupting... Everything about him was larger than life.”1

It was the interaction of the these three broad characteristics—acute sensitivity, optimistic tenacity and his cyclothymic nature— that defined him for the rest of his life, and together created the well-spring of his creative drive.

Wagner’s Creative Drive

The artist’s life cannot be otherwise than full of conflicts, for two forces are at war within him—on the one hand, the common longing for happiness, satisfaction and security in life, and on the other a ruthless passion for creation which may go so far as to override every personal desire. There are hardly any exceptions to the rule that a person must pay dearly for the divine gift of creative fire.2  Carl Jung

How gladly would I, too, stretch out my limbs and let the wonderful world outside leave its mark on me! But everyone has his own daemon, and mine is a horribly powerful beast; it completely and utterly subjugates me to it own end.3  Richard Wagner

Wagner’s creative drive, indeed, was a powerful beast. He spectacularly succeeded even in the face of enormous obstacles, with no means of solid support until late in life, with the vast majority of the cultural society doubting him, mocking him, wanting him to fail in order for him to receive the proper comeuppance for his audacity and—what even his friends considered—his quixotic quest to build the Bayreuth Festspielhaus to stage the Ring. Enemies and friends alike always credit him for this one thing: damn, he did it!

Wagner’s grand theme was always suffering, normally ending through transforming and redeeming love and death. All his works are about him, in the sense that the themes derive directly from his life: the man against the world, the man in a love triangle, the man on a journey to find his place in world, the man seeking love to redeem himself. That was Wagner’s life, but by placing it within myth, he was attempted to universalize his experience.

To quote Carl Jung again on “the artist”:

As a human being he may have moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is "man" in a higher sense— he is "collective man"— one who carries and shapes the unconscious, psychic forms of mankind. That is his office, and it is sometimes so heavy a burden that he is fated to sacrifice happiness and everything that makes life worth living.4

And, indeed, Wagner felt deeply burdened by his artistic nature, and felt he suffered greatly for it. While he knew he could be a complete pain in the ass, he blamed the artist in himself, and felt his works redeemed his many flaws. Below in a letter to his friend Jakob Sulzer, he makes this case:

There is no doubt but that I cause many people pain in this way [through putting his art above all else]; but it is equally certain that I cause nobody such hellish torments as I inflect upon myself; it is the artist in me who is almost entirely to blame for this; and so, if there is anyone who can derive any pleasure from what I have created, he really has nothing to complain about if I cause him distress, since I certainly suffer more as a result than himself.5

Wagner believed that the essence of his drive was the unsatisfied desire of love. He put it simply as this in a letter to his sister Luise in 1852:

Art for me is a substitute for a life of unsatisfied desire.... I pour out into my art the violent need I feel for love, a need that life cannot satisfy, and all I find in return is that people at best mistake me for an energetic – opera reformer!6

When he speaks of the “violent need I feel for love,” this wasn’t some run-of-the-mill love he was talking about—he had no interest in run-of-the-mill anything—but instead, it was an earth-shaking, all-consuming love. Thus, there was never any chance he could get it, and only in art could he create the world that his soul wanted. And in this self-created world, he dies in rapturous love, just like his Brunnhilde, Elizabeth, Senta, and Isolde.

His life was full of suffering — in love, in health, in continual stress, in crushing disappointments — and his refuge was to fantasize about death. As he wrote to Liszt in 1954,

[w]hen I think back on the storms that have buffeted my heart and on its convulsive efforts to cling to some hope of life — against my own better judgement —, indeed, now that these storms have swelled so often to the fury of a tempest, — I have yet found a sedative and heartfelt yearning for death: total unconsciousness complete annihilation, the end of all dreams – the only ultimate redemption!7

His creative process was generally this: in the depths of depression, he would conceive of a piece, which brought him out of these depths through inspiration. He would then rally to work on the piece, but the composition process was extremely exhausting for him, so he would then have to recuperate—sometimes for months—before continuing. However, the result of his labors ultimately reinvigorated him. 

For example, when he conceived Tristan and Isolde, he wrote to Franz Liszt, “But since I have never in my life enjoyed the true happiness of love, I intend to erect a further monument to this most beautiful of dreams, a monument in which this love will be properly sated from beginning to end: I have planned in my head a Tristan and Isolde, the simplest, but most full-blooded musical conception... I shall then cover myself over, in order — to die.”8

During the composition of Tristan, he was in the flow, completely engrossed. He wrote to his friend Eliza Willie in 1859, “Every stroke of my pen has the significance of eternity for me...Tristan will be beautiful! But it is eating into me. Who knows whether there will be any part of me left.”9 

But then it was done, and he wrote to Mathilde Wesondonck, his muse for the work:

The proofs of the third act of Tristan suddenly arrive. You will, I know, understand how I felt when my gaze fell upon this last completed work of mine, a glance that brought renewed life and strength to me, a sense of fulfillment and — of inspiration. Scarcely can a father have felt such joy at the sight of his child! In a flood of tears — why deny my weakness? — I heard a voice calling out: no! You shall not end yet; you must complete what you have begun! He who has just created such a work is still full to overflowing!10

Wagner was right about this work; it is absolutely amazing and has turned out to be one of the seminal works in Western music. Leonard Bernstein called it “the central work of all music history, the hub of the wheel.”11 He certainly isn’t alone in this appraisal; it is my favorite work of music, for example. So Wagner, as usual, was absolutely right about himself and his work. This wasn’t egoism, it was simply the truth.

As much as he often said he yearned for death, there is no evidence he ever actually attempted suicide. Instead, as he put it, “I still have to overcome this wild and terrible instinct for survival which continues to cloud my vision and to cast me into a chaos of contradictions.”12 

In the book Just This Side of Madness by the poet Carol Beeman, the author proposes that a strong creative drive is just as strong as other other basic drives: for food, for sex, for sleep, and that “the intensity of the drive is directly related to the inheritance of affective disorders, especially the mood disorders, cyclothymia, hypomania, and bipolar or manic-depressive illness. The greater the affective sensitivity of the person, the greater the drive to create.”13 She further postulates that “[t]he amount of creative output of the individual artist or thinker is proportional to the control it is possible to maintain over his or her neurotic or psychotic tendencies.”14 I found this book fascinating, mostly because she so closely tracked Wagner’s feelings on the nature of his artistic drive, mental illness and suffering.

Just for one example, Beeman writes: “In the most real sense possible the drive to create is both a unique asset and a burden to the creative mind.”15 Wagner made the same point throughout his life. Here is one example from one letter to his friend Theodor Uhlig that illustrates this:

I have again been working very hard since you left: it finally affected my health, but although I do want to get better finally, I simply do not know how to go about it!... As long as I work, I can delude myself – but as soon as I have to convalesce, I can not longer delude myself, and immediately I feel – dreadfully miserable. My only salvation is to keep on thinking of work, and my only pleasure, on resuming that work, is to wear myself out! What a splendid life for an artist to live! How gladly I’d throw it all away in return for a single week of life!16
Before I am able to address Carol Beeman's argument in terms of Wagner—and I think it is spot on—I need to explore both Wagner's pathology and sensitivities in greater detail.

Wagner’s pathology

There has been a lot of speculation on what exactly was the nature of Wagner’s pathology—if he was indeed pathological—which existed from his own day right up to the present. The book The Wagner Companion has a sub-chapter entitled “Psychological Literature on Wagner” which explores the pathobiographcial literature. The writer of this article notes that “to keep the present survey within reasonable bounds,” she included only authors who are “professional, psychiatrists and or psychoanalysts.”17 It begins,

[a]s far as it has been possible to ascertain, the psychological literature on Wagner begins, spectacularly, in 1872 with the publication of Richard Wagner: A Psychiatric Study, a pamphlet by the aspiring psychiatrist Theodor Puschmann, who, out of hand, declared the composer to be mentally ill. According to Puschmann’s diagnosis, Wagner was suffering from what in his day were regarded as three of the principal categories of psychiatric pathology, namely, megalomania, persecution mania, and moral insanity.18

The publication in 1877 of sixteen letters from Wagner to his seamstress in the well-respected Vienna daily Neue Freie Press added much fuel to the fire, as it became fairly clear through them that he enjoyed women’s clothing and fine fabrics to a degree that many people concluded was pathological. I will address this in detail in my forthcoming “Wagner was Queer” post, but I bring it up here just to say that most of the pronouncements of Wagner’s pathology centered on sexuality for many decades. Sexologist Alfred Kind wrote, with bemusement, in 1913:

Since then [the publication of the Letters to a Seamstress] many value judgements have been passed: sybaritic, homosexual, dermatitic [!], fetishistic, transvestite, feminine streak. Much to the dismay of the diagnosticians, none of these assessments is wholly true. The way is therefore still open for new sub-fields of pathological morality. A competition should be set up in time for the next psychiatric congress: Wagner’s illness.19 [bracketed material in original]

Along with having some sort of sexual pathology, most of the shrinks concluded he was “a hysteric” too.  The quotes above from Wagner give the accurate sense that he was indeed very dramatic—over the top—in virtually all his letters and, from all reports, in his normal life.  He easily fits the criteria for histrionic personality, but most modern writers no longer focus on this disorder or sexual pathology.  Instead, writers have focused on fitting him into one of the other DSM categories. Thus there are works speculating that he had ADHD, Borderline Personality Disorder, Bi-Polar Disorder, and, of course, megalomania (narcissistic personality disorder), and no doubt even more could be deduced. 

But the problem is that by fitting him into so many categories, it makes the whole idea rather useless. He truly can't be forced into a particular straight-jacket, particularly because none of these authors account for his tremendous competence and the essential sanity needed to have accomplished his great feats.

While there has been a huge body of specialized literature on this subject, conversely, in all the major biographical writing about Wagner, there is a remarkable tendency to shy away from directly addressing the issue of his abnormal mind: that is, to what extent were his clearly abnormal actions pathological?

There is no doubt that Wagner was beset with both mental and physical problems all his life. Clear evidence of this exists in his letters and Cosima’s diaries, as well as through much of the other first-hand sources. While biographers do write quite a lot about the physical ailments—such as skin and digestive system problems—that plagued him throughout his life, they rarely explore whether the ailments were part of a broader mental condition, even though Wagner frequently wrote that he considered their source to be psychological. What biographers do instead is write many dozens, sometimes hundreds, of pages identifying what they all treat as character flaws—his megalomania, his relationship history, his prolifigant ways, his tempestuous temperament—but they never ask if these stem from a mental illness. This is particularly odd in that Wagner wrote letter after letter describing his mental problems and the lengths that he went to try to “cure” himself.

Here is just a short excerpt from one such letter—this one during a period of getting a “water cure”—to his friend Ernst Keitz in 1852: 

When our friend Lindemann [his doctor] looks for the present main source of my illness in the cerebral nerves, he thereby proves to me again how correctly he diagnoses my condition.... My illness then is of transcendental nature, and all other medical measures can have no decisive effect if I’m not cured up there. From my brain the affection spread to my entire nervous system and manifested itself in complete exhaustion.... That I cannot get well again, in the sense that you imagine it, is as clear as day: I’m mentally ill—and mental illness is incurable.... It is for me no longer a question of recovering, but only of making the period of my existence bearable, and I can do this only through artistic creation, since this is the only illusion that is effective with me. I therefore desire from our Lindemann not cure, but merely palliatives to make my existence as artist possible as long as this existence can be maintained at all.20 

I am not sure why major biographers haven’t taken the topic up. Historically, his ailments were written about to shame him, or to shame his memory, and to argue against his work, not to exculpate him. It's possible that biographers thought that pursuing the topic would just add unnecessary abuse on him, since historically to be “mentally ill” was not something that softened criticism, but increased it. Or perhaps they felt it was outside their expertise and couldn’t do the topic justice. (Hell, that’s not stopping me!) But, perhaps, they just couldn’t believe someone with a mental illness could do what he did. If he was in fact loaded with some combination of pathological conditions, how could he possibly have been so remarkably competent, such a disciplined worker, effective manager, fund-raiser, world-class promoter, and so incredibly creative? He set goals higher, visions grandeur, than any other composer in history. And he succeeded in virtually all his life’s plans, against huge odds, and tremendous opposition. How could that jibe with major mental illness? Or, at least, that is what I imagine his biographers think.  

I believe that it is a massive failure of the major biographical literature to not fully explore this area, and these biographers' portraits end up being as one-sided as those who just write about him as if he were only pathological. Neither side gives an adequate synthesis of the material that exists about the man.

It seems to me there are two reasons that it should be of major inquiry and importance in his biography. First, what exactly is the relationship between his mental abnormality and his creativity? He and his works were so different from any other musicians, and he was so different from most any other person, this has got to be a story worth exploring and telling. Here Wagner gives a tremendous amount of testimony within his letters, and modern neuroscience can add much to the picture.

The other reason it seems important to me is by way of explanation and, yes, some sympathetic understanding of his actions that seemed so utterly outside the norm. At this historical point in time, most writers spend a whole lot of space judging Wagner, identifying character flaw after flaw; very few spend much time trying to really understand the man. But what if he really wasn’t in control of his actions and they were, in fact, from in-born traits or pathology? Most mental health professionals subscribe to the “mental illness is not a character flaw” line, so if he was a victim of a pathological condition, doesn’t that let Wagner off the hook in full or part?

Before I give my answer to these questions, I have a couple more puzzle pieces to add in future posts.

1 Spencer, Stewart, Wagner Remembered, 181
2 Jung, Carl, Modern Man and the Search for Soul, 173 
3 Millington and Spencer, Selected Letters of Wagner, page 564, June 22, 63 letter to Malwilda Von Meysenbug; what exactly he meant by daemon can’t really be determined in that there were both good and bad daemons in the Greek; I think he saw it like his view of creative drive in general: having both good and bad aspects.
4 Jung, The Spirit in Man, Art, and Literature, Vol. 15, page 101
5 Millington and Spencer, op. cit.  339
6 Ibid, 273
7 Ibid, 323
8 Ibid, 323-324
9 Ibid, 448
10 Ibid, 478
11 as quoted in Smith, There’s a Place For Us, 245  
12 Millington and Spencer, op. cit., 312
13 Beeman, Just This Side of Madness, 193
14 Ibid, 82
15 Ibid, 83
16 Millington, op. cit., 228
17 in Müller and Wapnewski eds., Wagner Handbook, Vetter, “Wagner in the History of Psychology,” 124
18 Ibid, page 125
19 Ibid, Müller, 127
20 Burk, John ed. The Letters of Richard Wagner, Burrell Collection, Sept 7, 1852, 191-192; I will talk about what palliatives he used in the final article in this series.