Had it been combined with a narrow intelligence, a will with such a tyrannical and boundless desire might have become fatal; in any case, an exit into the open had to be found for it as quickly as possible, whereby it could rush into pure air and sunshine. No event is great in itself, even though it be the disappearance of whole constellations, the destruction of several nations, the establishment of vast empires, or the prosecution of wars at the cost of enormous forces: over things of this sort the breath of history blows as if they were flocks of wool. In a dance, wild, rhythmic and gliding, and with ecstatic movements, the born dramatist makes known something of what is going on within him, of what is taking place in nature: the dithyrambic quality of his movements speaks just as eloquently of quivering comprehension and of powerful penetration as of the approach of love and self-renunciation. But what were his feelings withal? Where this rarest of all powers manifests itself, adverse criticism can be but petty and fruitless which confines itself to attacks upon certain excesses and eccentricities in the treatment, or upon the more frequent obscurities of expression and ambiguity of thought. If he inquired into what it was that most consoled him and revived his spirits in his sorrow, what it was that succeeded best in counteracting his affliction, it was with joyful certainty that he discovered this force only in music and myth, the latter of which he had already recognised as the people’s creation and their language of distress. An artist who has this empire over himself subjugates all other artists, even though he may not particularly desire to do so. Wagner is most philosophical where he is most powerfully active and heroic. For, at the present stage of art, universal creating has this fatal result, that inasmuch as it encourages a much larger output, it tends to exhaust the means and artifices of genius by everyday use, and thus to reduce the real grandeur of its effect. The picture represented by our own times is by no means a new one: to the student of history it must always seem as though he were merely in the presence of an old familiar face, the features of which he recognises. In this sense alone Wagner questions the learned through his writings, whether they intend storing his legacy to them—the precious Ring of his art—among their other treasures. For if there is anything that distinguishes his art from every other art of modern times, it is that it no longer speaks the language of any particular caste, and refuses to admit the distinctions “literate” and “illiterate.” It thus stands as a contrast to every culture of the Renaissance, which to this day still bathes us modern men in its light and shade. Who would undertake to name the object of its existence with any certainty?—even supposing the sort of purpose which it would be likely to have could be divined at all. Meanwhile we must reckon the declared enemy of art as our best and most useful ally; for the object of his animosity is precisely art as understood by the “friend of art,"—he knows of no other kind! We cannot be happy so long as everything about us suffers and causes suffering; we cannot be moral so long as the course of human events is determined by violence, treachery, and injustice; we cannot even be wise, so long as the whole of mankind does not compete for wisdom, and does not lead the individual to the most sober and reasonable form of life and knowledge. Nietzsche originally intended to participate fully, but by the time the event was underway he found the cult of Wagner, the frenetic social scene swirling around the comings and goings of celebrities, and the shallowness of the surrounding festivities unpalatable. Inasmuch as Wagner’s art bears us, from time to time, beyond itself, we are enabled to get a general view of its uniform character: we see Goethe and Leopardi as the last great stragglers of the Italian philologist-poets, Faust as the incarnation of a most unpopular problem, in the form of a man of theory thirsting for life; even Goethe’s song is an imitation of the song of the people rather than a standard set before them to which they are expected to attain, and the poet knew very well how truly he spoke when he seriously assured his adherents: “My compositions cannot become popular; he who hopes and strives to make them so is mistaken.”. Unlike all previous musicians, there is nothing bombastic about him; for the former did not mind playing at times with their art, and making an exhibition of their virtuosity. something occurred which he could only understand as a symbol: it was as much as a new comfort and a new token of happiness to him. Nobody had understood his question. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900) was a German philosopher. An Introduction to Plato and His Philosophical Ideas, The 5 Great Schools of Ancient Greek Philosophy, Plato and Aristotle on Women: Selected Quotes, Summary and Analysis of Plato's 'Euthyphro', Ph.D., Philosophy, The University of Texas at Austin, B.A., Philosophy, University of Sheffield. The dramatic element in Wagner’s development cannot be ignored, from the time when his ruling passion became self-conscious and took possession of his whole being. For the question is whether mind is present at all to-day;—but we shall leave this problem for future judges to solve; they, at least, are bound to pass modern men through a sieve. All these are things which have entered the language through sin and depravity. For this reason, we others are in much greater need of art; because it was in the presence of the realistic that our eyes began to see, and we require the complete dramatist in order that he may relieve us, if only for an hour or so, of the insufferable tension arising from our knowledge of the chasm which lies between our capabilities and the duties we have to perform. The artist who happens to be moulded according to the modern pattern, however, regards the dreamy gropings and hesitating speech of his nobler colleague with contempt, and leads forth the whole brawling mob of assembled passions on a leash in order to let them loose upon modern men as he may think fit. This society had but one idea, to use its power as hard-heartedly and as craftily as possible in order to render the impotent—the people—ever more and more serviceable, base and unpopular, and to rear the modern workman out of them. In the midst of this mode of life, a detailed description of which is necessary in order to inspire the amount of pity, awe, and admiration which are its due, he developed a talent for acquiring knowledge, which even in a German—a son of the nation learned above all others—was really extraordinary. Although Rée lacked Nietzsche’s originality, he clearly influenced him. Now there was nothing to induce him to continue this indulgence: all he desired now was to come to terms with himself, to think of the nature of the world in dramatic actions, and to philosophise in music; what desires he still possessed turned in the direction of the latest philosophical views. The extraordinary tasks which Wagner set his actors and singers will provoke rivalry between them for ages to come, in the personification of each of his heroes with the greatest possible amount of clearness, perfection, and fidelity, according to that perfect incorporation already typified by the music of drama. Wagner asked himself the meaning of the fact that an art such as music should have become so very important a feature of the lives of modern men. This reciprocity between an act and its reception is always taken into account when anything great or small is to be accomplished; and he who would give anything away must see to it that he find recipients who will do justice to the meaning of his gift. But the very injunction that something definite must be imparted, and that this must be done as distinctly as possible, becomes ever more and more essential, the higher, more difficult, and more exacting the class of work happens to be. This is Wagner’s second answer to the question, What is the meaning of music in our times? To all such interpretations of mood or atmosphere, distinct and particular forms of treatment were necessary: others were established by convention. When, therefore, during the German War, a current of greater magnanimity and freedom seemed to run through every one, Wagner remembered the duty to which he had pledged himself, namely, to rescue his greatest work from those successes and affronts which were so largely due to misunderstandings, and to present it in his most personal rhythm as an example for all times. In the years that followed, they became both personally and philosophically estranged, although his sister Elisabeth remained on friendly terms with the Wagners and their circle. The greater half of his past seems to be shrouded in heavy mist; for a long time he appears to have had no general hopes, but only hopes for the morrow, and thus, although he reposed no faith in the future, he was not driven to despair. Schopenhauer viewed life as essentially tragic, stressed the value of the arts in helping human beings cope with the miseries of existence, and accorded pride of place to music as the purest expression of the ceaselessly striving Will that underlay the world of appearances and constituted the inner essence of the world.