Friday 23 July 2010

Wagner, Beethoven and Monumentality in '2010: The End of Capitalism'

Simply, it's time to declare the end of capitalism. How better to signify this than with the use of monumental music, a term coined by Alex Rehding, meaning music that is full of fanfare and exudes moral authority. From what Thomas Mann calls the "bad nineteenth century" it is hard to ignore the 'midas touch' that exudes from Richard Wagner and Ludgwig Van Beethoven. Lydia Goehr waxes lyrical about Wagner the modernist hero "He showed the dangers of losing the musical in our music, the meaningful in our philosophy and freedom in our politcs." Whilst time and time again, I have personally experienced the sight of the most stoic audience driven to tears AND 30 minute standing ovations from the sublime Beethoven.

This film like the monumental music it employs, "is a commemorative object that is capable of linking the present with the perpetual past,"(Rehding 2009) but through its added anti-monumentality blasts the film into our endlessly expanding post-modern future. It is not just a memory, it's a promise. The film links the private space (the small home) with the public declaration (symbol of oversized capitalism) giving the film emotional fanfare like a solo horn amidst giant strings. But I am a futurist, I turn the monumental into anti-monumental. I aim to take the collective memory/energy from post-unification Berlin, a site of anti-monumentality - they tore down the wall in 1989, Christo and Jean Claude wrapped the Reichstag in the summer of 1995 and I lived there in a bubble from 2006-2009 " to explore what life would be like without any cappo scum totally harshening her buzz" (Werkmeister 2010). The Wagner is not played by a full orchestra that can be driven to suicide, but by a computer, thus the monumental is made anti-monumental, and within the transition lies the promise.

The choice of pieces further illustrates the monumental/anti-monumental: the ending movement of Tristan and Isolde and Bernstein's version of Beethoven's Ninth. The ending movement of Tristan and Isolde is the dramatic resolution/death, in which Wagner "showed the danger of losing the musical in music" by resolving that infamous first cluster chord from the Opening. Whilst in the film's finale, Bernstein's version of Beethoven's Ninth celebrates the end of capitalism just as it celebrated the breakdown of the wall in 1989. "Transformation is central to monumentality" (Rehding 2009), as the Ninth's songtext was famously changed from "freiheit" to "freude" cementing it in our memories of unification and freedom. Bernstein stretched the truth by claiming it was Schillers original intent transformed a dodgy myth to a culturally sanctioned truth, just as the incomplete ARD Broadcast of the G√ľnter Schabowski press conference convinced the East German masses they were free, so such large groups rushed to pass through the border that the guards just gave up.

Thanks to the cast of my friends, Berlin, Wagner and Beethoven this film is the medium, that delivers the rumour and promise - the message is clear 2010: The End of Capitalism - it is happening.

Rehding, Alexander (2009) Music and Monumentality, Oxford University Press: New York.

Goehr, Lydia (1998) The Quest for Voice, Clarendon Press: New York

Werkmeister, Sarah (2010) '2010: The End of Capitalism' in 4000 The Best Cultural Guide for Things to Do in Brisbane at Accessed July 9, 2010.

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