The Wagner Journal

Stephen Gee, Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’: A Hymn of Purity and Danger

Stephen Gee, Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’: A Hymn of Purity and Danger

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July 2017, Volume 11, Number 2, 25–31.

Something dangerous has got into me. Or was it already there? Is it innate? Original sin? Time returns. I hear the sound of nostalgic hymns to the purity of my youth, to the purity of the world. Repeated attempts to restore myself and my community glow and fade away. The insistent ritual puts me in an impossible place. Called from the abyss by my undead father: ‘preserve me, let me see, let me drink, revive me!’ My yearning to help turns to horror. A wound opens. But I am innocent, surely? A wound is a wound. An injured old man is an injured old man. I am startled. I faint at intimations of cruelty, of the threatening object. I laugh at the suggestion that that image in the procession is a vagina on a cushion. It arouses terror as it beckons me to pleasures I have never heard of. Why has that kind old man just thrown me out?

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