A certain awkwardness about the neck and the wrists, a shakily erect posture as the ghost of what might once have been a military bearing, a jacket bought many years ago from which the shoulders have retreated.


The question arises, if we lay to rest the distortions and untruths of the Christian past, indeed of the whole Abrahamic inheritance, as unworthy of free and intelligent people, what bulwark will we have against the worst, who are full of passionate intensity?


The trouble with this is not that Wagner is made nicer than he really was, or that his intention is given a teleological spin, it is rather that we are likely to miss what he actually says about the present age. The burden of Parsifal—which Wagner called ein Bühnenweihfestspiel, A Festival Play for the Consecration of the Stage—is that the path to maturity and wisdom for the exceptional individual, the Chosen One, the Redeemer, and, through him, to the redemption of the world of men and nature, must begin and end with religious consecration and utter spiritual isolation.