The African Twilight of the Gods



It is a bright sunny day here in southern England and here are some photographs of the area around where I live to prove it.

I am in a bright sunny mood too. Well, my last trip to the hospital really cheered me up even though I have still got more test to go.
This afternoon it is a bone check to see if I have any weakness there which could have caused my fractured spine.
I really don’t think it is anything to do with that but there you go, I am not a doctor. They are looking at every possibility even scary things that make me go cold just thinking about.
Not on a day like today though – for me, at least, hope is in the air.
I am trying to get back to normal – practising my martial arts (but with no tension – ok. Just in case my instructor is reading this), nearly finishing that giant book on the composer Johannes Brahms, and returning to my music project where I have been spinning chronologically through classical music from the 11th. Century until, just before my brain haemorrhage, 1856.
I had concentration problems at first but my brain does feel like it is beginning to recover so I played the latest piece in my chronology yesterday – Wagner’s Die Walkure, probably the most complete of the four operas in the Ring cycle.
The first opera, Das Rheingold, deals with the cosmic world of gods, giants and evil dwarves – the natural territory of Dungeons and Dragons enthusiasts – but Die Walkure introduces human beings, love and the gradual humanization of the king of the gods, Wotan.
It is, of course, magnificent and epic in every way. Wotan’s twin chldren, Siegmund and Sieglinde fall in love and become lovers in music of erotic sensuality, Wotan’s love for them, expressed in music that is grandiose, doom-laden and deeply humane, is compromised by his role as world leader. He must let them die to preserve the status quo of the old order…and in doing so not only loses them but also his favourite daughter the wild, exciting Valkyrie, Brunnhilde who gives up her godhead when she is awoken to the power of love so vividly and unconventionally portrayed in the incestuous relationship between the fated twins.
Wagner was a power-crazed, anti-semite, bully, wife-stealer, weird fetishist with an unusual taste in chiffon and whose dwarfish stature haunted him to his grave. In spite of all that, he shows us that deep down beneath all his unpleasantness and above all the horrors subesquently inspired his music, he shows us that he is a profound believer in the power of human love. That it really can change the world and that we should all try to rule our lives by it, the most sublime of human qualities.
He tells us that it can even change the king of the gods, Wotan who has been corrupted by power and his lust for supremacy, even he can be melted by his love for his children and humanity – to the point of wishing for the end of everything that he has stood for…a process that reaches its logical conclusion in the final opera, The Twilight of the Gods.
I am hoping that that same twilight of the gods is unravelling before our eyes in Zimbabwe today.
Robert Mugabe, a man corrupted by power if there ever was such a thing, has been forced to compromise after the rigged elections that he cheated last year.
The leader of the opposition, and the actual winner of those elections, Morgan Tsvangirai, has finally accepted the post of Prime Minister with Mugabe carrying on as President.
Tsvangirai, imprisoned, beaten, ridiculed and censored by Mugabe has either walked into a trap set by the autocratic president or he has taken one more brave step in his career as leading opponent to one of the world’s last surviving monsters.
Wagner’s Wotan carries a spear, the symbol of his power, on which notches are carved after every compromise is made. Each notch weakens its strength until one day, the new order smashes it and consigns the god and all he stood for to the past.
As Mr. Tsvangirai takes office today, I wonder who out of the two leaders has received the deeper notch on his spear. Mugabe may well be tricking him, weakening him ready for a final act of destruction, or, just possibly, Tsvangirai may be walking bravely into a position where he can finally bring about this African Twilight of the Gods.
He is the popular leader of the Zimbabwean people, he is the new young blood in the hope of a nation, and he could just be chopping down Mubage’s power from within.
Today, he is asking the World to come to his nation’s help even though the leading powers argue that they will not help Zimbabwe as long as Mugabe is in power.
Could this be a lack of imagination on their behalf? Isn’t it a risk worth taking?
Give Mr. Tsvangirai the power and resources to turn round his country, to reverse the catastrophe of Mugabe’s policies. If he can do that, then Robert Mugabe will finally lose any credibility even amongst his own frenzied supporters.
Love for humanity could actually win this battle just as it does in Wagner’s life changing drama.
Well, I told you I was feeling hopeful today.

2 Comments

  1. Good post! Makes me think I should listen to Die Walkure.
    x

  2. Thanks Alex, yes you really should have a go with Die Walkure…once dipped in you will never be quite the same!

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