Friday, March 14, 2008

It is very difficult to say who is truley authentic, because every character is playing some game or another. Some are subtley trying to overthrow the empire and rebuild it, while Redle and others are playing the game to advance in rank and while still others (the one who continues to promote Redle comes to mind) are just trying to do whatever they can to finish their job, find retirement and get out of the military. In that reguard, no one is truley authentic, but act authentic more often.

Redle has the best ideals for being authentic, but he ends up spying on everyone and does Franz Ferdinand's bidding, which is contrary to what I see Franz Joseph wanting. However, at the same time, each person, besides Redle is authentic to their own cause and follows through as best they can to acccomplish their goals. Redle's promoter does find retirement and Franz Ferdinand get's his "rebirth," but not quite in the way he wanted.

So who is truley authentic? Of the main characters, I would say that no one is completely, but only is from time to time to get what they want.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Personally, I feel that the vague idea of Authenticity could be defined any number of ways, and perhaps they may all be correct. However when discussing notions of authenticity within the context of identity (another vague concept), I feel that the notion of that which is or is not authentic becomes mutable, something specific to the individual discussed. I feel that each and every person has a moral compass that guides the decisions we make, the way we relate to each other, and most importantly, the way we relate to ourselves. Because our morality necessarily takes on a public and private function, I feel that it is possible to be an authentic individual and an inauthentic person simultaneously depending on who we are relating to, ourselves or our peers. Colonel Redl, for example, is an industrious and dedicated soldier, and for as much as he respects the empire he lives, in relation to his public life, within the boundaries of his own morals and wishes. However, because he isnt capable of reconciling certain aspects of his private individuality (namely his homosexuality) he becomes an easily exploitable scape-goat for the empire. It is silly, however, to wonder whether or Redl's life might have had a different outcome whether or not he could have been capable of living with his sexual orientation. Within his line of work, with his office, no matter how he chose to deal with his identity he would have remained a target for conspiracy.

Identiy and Authenticity (class discussion)

This was clearly a crisis in how one describes authenticity. We discussed in class how one has to be authentic to ones identity otherwise he is not being authentic. I disagree with this because I don't think that you can always be authentic to all aspects of your authenticity. There are certain parts of identity that you can control and certain parts that you cannot (heritage, race, sexuality). Using Redl as an example, he believed in the Monarchy and wanted to do what was best for the monarchy, yet the monarchy did not like jews. So, either he was authentic to his militarian identity and followed what the monarchy wanted him to do and continually followed his beliefs, and betrayed his religion and sexuality. Or, he is authentic to his sexuality and religion and no longer follows the monarchy. This is indeed a crisis. I think that someone can be authentic without taking in account his identity, it is more how they are consistent and follow what they believe all the time.

Class Discussion

Through the discussion in class, I still believe that one does not need to socially exhibit every part of his or her identity to be authentic.  As in the case of Redl, I think one can be an authentic person as long as they are true to their wants and wishes.  This may mean that they have to hide (though they have fully acknowledged it) a piece of their identity to achieve the ends to which they are authentic.  One does have to play to every part of his or her identity at all times to be authentic.  I do believe that identity plays an important role, but I think only one can choose for themselves to which piece of their identity to be the most authentic to, which in Redl's case was the monarchy, which forced him to hide being Ukrainian, Jewish, and homosexual.  

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Identity & Authenticity Crisis

The realization of identity and the question of how to represent that identity authentically has been a major subject throughout this course. By authentic I mean truthful, not copied, and genuine. So for instance representing a chamber pot as a chamber pot instead of a vase.

The problem with the question of authenticity in the Austrian empire is the realization of what it is... A potpourri of many different ethnic groups and countries mixed together with little to no cohesiveness holding it together. I think that the problem Austria displayed was rooted in a lack of a clear identity. How can authenticity be achieved when it is reliant on a clear identity? Or is it? Austria was composed of many small identities and how can that whole be represented authentically in order to provide for a cultural base (i.e. something that the people can rally behind)? This is the crisis.

Certainly certain aspects to the larger picture can be represented, but that doesn't really provide a unified picture, does it? Some might argue that the individual pieces represented separately and grouped together could represent the whole authentically, but would that work? Or would that lead to segmentation/polarization?

I think these questions have been at the root of what we have been studying this quarter and to be honest for me there are quite a few great big ?'s still left in my mind.

authenticity? identity?

I was also struck today in class by a feeling that someone judged to be 'authentic' worshipping the Austrian empire on the eve of the first world war is extremely misguided. Redl's inability in the film to see through the appearances and pomp is symbolic of the entire text and subtext of the course. I am thinking now of the buildings on the Ringstrasse, all meant to evoke philosophies that were not held by those institutions or the monarchy compared to the architecture of Loos and Wagner. There is a self-hating, destructive drive in Redl that propels him through the film, from when he is a snitch in military school (thus exposing himself as a lower class person; none of the aristocratic boys would snitch) to his self-sacrifice for the lie of the empire. He never knows what he is, and to me he becomes a fractured allegory of the empire itself. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

the empire and authenticity

There are serious issues in referring to anyone in within the Austro-Hungarian Empire as authentic. However, this film seems to parallel Colonel Redl and Franz Ferdinand’s battle with their own personal authenticity.

In terms of Franz Ferdinand, as we’ve said before he was everything Franz Josef was not. His dis-shoveled look didn’t exactly reflect the Empire’s squeaky clean image. His smoking also reflected his lack of self control (remember the reference from the beginning of the film). Franz Ferdinand represented the empire’s future, and this vision was more than Redl could handle.

Redl himself was an entirely different can of worms. Here is a man who struggles with his national, religious, and sexual identity. The truest authenticity in the film was Redl’s loyalty to Franz Josef and the empire. Throughout the film, the viewer is confused about everything Redl stands for. However, his loyalty to the emperor is always genuine. The problem is, the empire that Redl worshipped had its own problems with its authenticity. Despite what Redl believed, Franz Josef was aging and the empire was hanging on by a thread. So, when Franz Josef told Redl to find a traitor to unify the empire, the Redl’s authenticity as well as the empire’s. How authentic could the empire be, if Redl had to find a traitor to save it?

In my mind, this film tied Redl’s downfall to the downfall of the empire. Redl seemed to embody every contradictory aspect of the empire. He represented the struggle that lots of people within the Astro-Hungarian empire had with their own national, religious, (and even sexual) identity. With a pressure to be Austrian, it would be easy for minorities to loose their identities in the mess. This whole debauchery with Redl really shook up the empire, and showed it was a mess it was really in.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

thinking about authenticity....

After thinking for a while about this week's question, I became not so sure about what constitutes "authentic" Austrian.

Redl surely is dedicated to the Austrian empire, regardless of his Ukranian background. If dedication to serving one's country, as well as deep love for it, makes someone authentic Austrian, then Redl surely qualifies.

Franz Ferdinand, who blood-wise might be called authentic, is not so dedicated in serving his country, nor is he so enthusiastic about presenting himself as "ideal Austrian" (actually I don't really know what ideal Austrian is suppose to look like, but I'm putting him in contrast to Franz Joseph whom atleast Redl sees as an "ideal").

You could say Franz Joseph (who only briefly appears in the film, although his impact is felt throughout) is an authentic Austrian, both by blood and by his relation to the country. But again, who is the judge of this authenticity?

I think the matter of authenticity, in the case of this film, matters most to Redl. I think he is torn by the issue of authenticity because he is looking to serve authentic Austrian i.e. Franz Joseph, whom to Redl is an ideal. That's why he struggles with Franz Ferdinand who is not authentic to Redl. I'm not so sure if he wants to be authentic himself-- I don't think he considered himself authentic, but rather saw his ethnic background as an obstacle impossible to overcome in him becoming authentic, and thus his identity crisis. If he wanted to, I think he could have very well called himself authentic, especially in comparison to behaviors of Franz Ferdinand. The fact that he did not consider himself it precisely serves as an example of the high standards that Redl held for authentic Austrian. To him, it really was the ideal.

Redl and authenticity

I think Redl is the most authentic out of any of the characters in the film.  He is consistent.  He continually does what he thinks is best for the monarchy and for Franz Josef, whom he admires to no end.  And, as far as his identity issues, I do not believe they have a place in the answer to this question because though he truly did have some identity issues with his ethnic heritage, religious heritage, and his sexuality, he always attempted to strengthen the monarchy.  You could even, perhaps, argue that the reason he was not able to fully sort out who exactly he was, was because he forced himself to surpress everything in order to show strength in the Army of the Emperor.  If the argument is whether his betrayal to the army by giving up information to the Russians make him in some way not authentic, the argument must be made that he was the most authentic at that moment by giving Franz Ferdinand an Ukrainian traitor, what he said the monarchy needs.  And, if that all just is just coincidence, than perhaps he realized that what was best for the monarchy was for it to fall before Franz Ferdinand, whom he did not hold in the same esteem as Franz Josef, became Emperor.  


I think that Redl is the authentic one out of the two. The whole reason he finally betrayed the Monarchy is because he realized that it was pointless and saw no reason not too. He continually wanted to do what is best for the Monarchy which is why he did what he could for Ferdinand. Ferdinand seemed to want to do good for the Monarchy as well, but in a different sort of way; he was more interested in finding a way to boost the moral of the troops so that they would follow, even if for fear. Ferdinand was more interested in the end result, and didn't care much to how it got there. Redl wanted to always be true to the Monarchy during the complete process until he saw no reason to be true any longer because what he believed in no longer existed. You can relate this to the picture that is posted, Redl is clean cut and always at his best because he always wants to do the best for the Monarchy in all ways, included how he presented himself. Ferdinand is not clean cut and didn't seem to care much about the traditional truthful way, more in the results at the end.

Authenticity is a difficult quality to identify in any of "Colonel Redl"'s characters or the posts they assume. Redl's reverence for the emperor Franz Josef is itself built upon the fallacy of myth and deification, as evidenced by the rearing he experiences in military school. Because his lot in life was determined by the charity of the empire, the viewer is constantly reminded that Redl's deeds and loyalty spring from a well of gratitude for a man he has never met and an empire whose nature he childishly understands. It is once he is exposed to the bureaucracy and deceptive nature of the general staff that the true nature of the empire's inner workings is revealed and Redl's own sense of identity begins to fail him. In his unflagging devotion to the antiquated and romanticized morals of the imperial age Redl is incapable of reconciling his ideals with reality, of both his own nature and the reality of Austria. His love of the Empire is authentic, yet they Empire is not, and there lies the tragedy.

Redl -- sorry this is long... again, so much to tackle

Redl definitely has his problems. He appears to be fighting quite a few things in this movie; the biggest things he seems to be fighting are his Jewish heritage, birth location, and homosexuality. For most of his life he has been very grateful to the emperor and wanting to serve him through the military and also his loyalty. While doing this, in order to advance in superiority in the military he has to lie numerous times about who he was in the past. While at a friend's (Kristof Kubinyi) grandparent’s house for dinner, Redl -- as a young boy -- starts this string of lies. While sitting at the dinner table, he is asked for the first time about his heritage. To answer, first he goes through a list talking about his true heritage, when at the end, he contemplates whether or not to feed his first lie... which he does and it forever haunts him; however he doesn't seem to regret this decision as it appears to be the only way to truly be loyal to the emperor. He knew that if he was honest and told people that he has no Austrian decent, and then he would not be welcomed in many friends homes. In respect to the homosexuality part, there comes a point when he is told that people suspect him to be homosexual. [At this point we are not given concrete details that he is in fact a homosexual.] So in order to not be perceived in this respect, his mistress who is also his best friends sister, Katalin Kubinyi, arranges for him to marry a female. It isn’t until later in the story when it is finally reveiled that he is in fact a homosexual. With these two examples, it is clear to see that Redl could not be considered one of the authentic characters in the film.

I would not consider Katalin Kubinyi authentic either. She is cheating on her husband and is afraid to tell her brother that she is seeing Redl. Also, she is the only one that knows everything about Redl and eventually sells out and gives this information away; which practically sets him up for failure.

If I were to consider anyone ‘authentic’ it would be Kristof Kubinyi because of his loyalty to Redl throughout the film as well of his honesty. (ie: the end of the film with the crown prince, as well as when he is being relocated and others are bad mouthing Redl, Kristof doesn’t take part.)

False Pretenses

What I find interesting about Franz Ferdinand is that he is actually part of the blood royalty of Austria. However this is shown to be a stark contrast to his actual actions. He "is" Austrian, but he doesn't act or behave Austrian. He doesn't really dress properly and is unshaven. Colonel Redl on the other hand came from everywhere but Austria, however he was in the Austrian army since childhood and represented the very best of Austrian ideals through his actions. He acted Austrian in the true sense. These two characters I see as inverses of each other in regards to heritage and respective actions.

The question of authenticity is a very difficult one, because one could say that what Austria portrayed in many cases was inauthentic (an example being the Ringstrasse). I don't know if anyone in the film can truly be called authentic. Most people have something to hide and play a part in some kind of deception. Redl can't because he denies his family, his roots and is only concerned about his image most of the time (how Austrian!). Franz Ferdinand can't because he doesn't portray himself as royalty should (he is devious and weaselly to boot). I think maybe Redl's childhood friend (I can't remember his name) who is around during most of the movie and who gives Redl the suicide weapon is perhaps the most authentic person in the entire movie (not counting the smaller parts/characters).

I think this movie shows the immorality issue quite well, although it doesn't connect to art directly. It does show how inauthenticity can be immoral and lead to the degradation of society.


Authenticity is a difficult thing to find in this film. Everyone has an agenda, they all want to hide their flaws and appear better than they are. For the most part, the characters all attempt to fit into the role they are expected to fill. Redl calls himself Hungarian when dealing with his friend’s family, but becomes Ukrainian when he is dealing with Franz Ferdinand, and he is a Jew when he is talking to a Jewish soldier. We really never know what Redl is…he is an enigma until the end. Other characters are equally deceptive; Franz Ferdinand is trying to gain advantage through various intrigues. I believe that he targets Redl early on in his quest for power, and when he tells him to seek a double he already knows that he will entrap Redl. Katalin is deceiving her husband, while her brother Kristof is busy deceiving his various lovers. Kristof is pretending to be worthy of the uniform, but he is a dissolute self indulgent aristocrat. The only really authentic characters are Colonel Roden, who seems to love Redl as a son, and Clarissa, the sick wife. Neither of them seem to be after anything more than love, but they are just pawns in the game. This is a sad, very troubling story that forces the audience to engage with its characters. It is really hard to gage the “authentic” emotions. Roden seems to genuinely love Redl, even buying back the leather case that he gave Redl after his suicide, but this could easily be in his own self-interest also-perhaps he simply did not want to be known as the man behind Redl. Clarissa seems to adore, or perhaps, worship her husband, but she is just a convenience to him. The saddest thing about this movie is the adoration and loyalty of Redl to the Emperor. He truly loves the old regime, and wants to do what is best for his emperor, but he is stymied at every turn; completely wrapped up in political intrigues and trapped in a life that he hates. Redl wanted to achieve greatness but he seems to always remain the little boy trying to find the right answer. In this, his emotions are completely authentic.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Adolf Loos and Art in Architecture

Did Adolf Loos truly believe in completely separating art from functionality? Despite his opposition to thinking of Architecture as art, can his buildings be seen as works of artistic expression? I believe Loos was actually incapable of separating his architecture from art. His buildings may not have fit contemporary standards for beauty and art; but into each building Loos imparted an aspect of his expression and creativity, creating art.
Many of his building designs, especially his house on Michaelerplatz, while simple and without much odornment are elegant and beautiful works of art despite his claim otherwise. Adolf Loos once claimed that architecture above all else did not belong in the category of art because, "The house has to please everyone, in contrast to art, which does not please anyone." This is ironic because his works often stirred members of the public into a frenzy. While his buildings may not have been considered art by the cultural standards of other buildings of his time, that does not mean his buildings did not have other aspects of expression.

I believe his most controversial work, the house on Michaelerplatz, qualifies as a piece of art because it is not a PURE functional design. Whether purposely, or subconsciously his building includes some aesthetic design choices. Unlike his contemporaries and their ornamentation, his idea of aesthetic design did not intrude on the function. An example of this is his use of the special green cipollino marble. This seems at odds with his beliefs because if he wanted to strip the building of all decoration he would have made the entire facade of white stucco. Instead he personally travels to Greece to hand select a unique building material, unused since ancient times, that adds both color and contrast to an otherwise plain white facade. Furthermore the Swirling pattern of the marble reminds me greatly of the Tile printing on Wagner's Majolica House. In this way his building is still a unique, beautiful work of art, and yet the beauty does not impede the function, or even intrude on its usage.

In many ways Loos reminds me of Ulrich. Ulrich sees himself as a man without qualities, but this has been interpreted by many people to simple mean he does not have the qualities which society values. In a similar fashion Loos believes in separating art from architecture because he does not agree with the interpretation of beauty that his society values. This does not mean his designs were not art. As I hope I have proved, his buildings had a unique style of their own which the world came to recognize as exceptional.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Walter and Clarisse vs Fridolin and Albertine

I mentioned in class at one point that I felt a resemblance between Walter and Clarisse and Fridolin and Albertine. My question is: What parallels can you draw between those relationships, and where do they differ?
As for me, I can see that both relationships are complicated and certainly not perfect. Both couples seem to be drawn together by some force that is greater than themselves and greater than any love they have for each other. Walter and Clarisse have something less tangible but somehow more intense, which is the music that they share. When they play duets at the piano, it is as though they are having this wild love affair with each other and are ravenously feeding off one another's energy. Fridolin and Albertine share their young child, who represents what seems to be a representation of their initial love- a love that was curious and new and shy at one time, a love that blossomed, but has now faded and they can't seem to remember that excitement. Fridolin feels jealous when Albertine tells him of her own private sexual feelings that don't really include him, yet he is going home with a prostitute one minute and to an orgy the next. I think the main thing that these couples share is a kind of odd sexual relationship. What might Freud say about Walter and Clarisse, their energy, her revulsion for his touch and desire for his attention? About the orgy-party where guests are dancing naked except for a mask? I find Walter and Clarisse the most interesting because their relationship is so strange to me.

Musil's Vision of Feminine & Masculine

I am curious on how we should interpret the role of women in 1900's Vienna. Based on the descriptions of women in Musil, how should we interpret his portrayal? I am thinking of Diotima, her maid, Bonadea, Clarisse, and Leona. What do they have in common and what is different? Is Ulrich their only common ground or is there more that connects them? The broader thought that comes to mind is how Musil defines the feminine and the masculine. What is masculine and what is feminine in 1900's Vienna? How does Musil classify these traits within his characters and how do they conflict? I think that the feminine is fairly ineffectual and negative in Musil's eyes. There seems to be a strong link between the feminine/masculine traits and the descriptions of ethnicity/class in Musil's view. I may be completely off track but it seems like there is a correlation between the negative ideas and feminine roles. I am thinking of Diotima's role in the Parallel Campaign and the portrayal of patriotism. Is femininity associated with negative traits? Are there positive portrayals of feminine virtues? I guess I am just curious about how you all view the portrayal of the feminine and the masculine in Musil's world. I think there is a valuable connection between his portrayal of the masculine/feminine and his portrayal of negative imagery. Especially considering Arnhiem, his slave, and Ulrich I wonder how the masculine /feminine enters the picture.

Ulrich vs Arnheim: Modern Day Theme?

I was thinking about the contrast between Ulrich and Arnheim in class and how Arnheim is this kind of sly guy that everyone like and it popular and everyone listens to what he says, yet he is b.sing all the time. And then there is Ulrich who sees these signs of a disaster coming and seems to be more intelligent than Arnheim, yet no one seems to listen to what Ulrich has to say. I was kind of thinking that this theme seems to still be relevant. You get these actors or stars or whatever you want to call them, they get up on a stage and people seem to believe whatever they say whether or not they are qualified or studied in the area. Then you get these scientist talking about all these issues and no one seems to pay much attention to what they have to say. Take global warming as an example, there have been scientists saying that global warming has been coming for a long time, yet it takes a bunch or celebrities to talk about it and say they believe in it for much to really happen. I find it interesting that this theme that Musil poses in his book still seems relevant today even though much has changed since.

Loos and symbolism

Was Loos trying to be symbolic when he designed his building/homes?

The simple answer is yes. As talked about in class, Loos like to keep the outside of homes plain, while the inside would reflect the owner. That is how people are. On the outside, we are all very similar. We all haves eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and so on , just as all homes have doors, walls, windows etc.; however, on the inside we are all extremely different. Typically, people try to keep what is on the inside private until we are comfortable enough with others to invite them into our "homes". Well, it is the same idea with Loos and his houses. You shouldn't be able to look at a house and tell everything about the owner until the owner has invited you into the home and has revealed his/ her inner self.

I would also like to think that by getting rid of the ornamentation on the outside of the building would allow viewers to see the materials in a sort of natural state. Without distracting the viewer from materials by using outrageous forms of decoration, a viewer could see a building’s materials until together in their natural state. By doing this, people could begin to appreciate the everyday things/ materials. Hopefully, this could push people away from always trying to compete with worldly things and eventually accept people/ things for the way there were: natural.

Design over Lifestyle...

My question is one that has probably been asked numerous times by people: "can architecture be art?" And further yet, can it be gesamtkunstwerk?

I wanted to ask this because I've been to one of the villas designed by Adolf Loos (Muller Villa in Prague), and although Adolf Loos is a harsh critic of ornamentation, I could not help but sense Loos's obsession with how things ought to be. His designs were fascinatingly sophisticated, but totally lacks homeliness. For example, the height of individual stairs are high so that it is hard for kids and elders to climb. The window in the child's room is too high for the child to look out (I guess Muller's daughter hated the room, partly because of this reason). The tour guide explained such complaints (there were many more that I cannot remember accurately) that would only be a result of actually having a life in that house. For a tourist, the house is amazingly beautiful, and Loos's attempt at perfection is felt everywhere. Height of stairs or window in the child's room, the inconvienences are not out of miscalculation, but rather as a result of prioritizing calculated aesthetic effect.

Another story that was interesting to me was this. Mrs. Muller had a fondness for collecting tea cups, and she would display it in her room. But whenever Adolf Loos came to visit the house, she would have to hide it because Loos would get mad (he didn't want the cups displayed because it did not go with his design) and take the cups away.

After a tour through the Muller's Villa, I sensed Loos's obsession with perfecting his spacial design. I almost imagine this being Loos's attempt at "total work of art", forcing to accomodate lifestyles for architecture , not the other way around, as part of his spacial design. Although Loos was against ornamentation, I definitely think that he is an artist.

There is a sense in which I am tempted to group the truly critical voices of the Viennese arts (such as Kraus, Shoenberg, and Loos) with the fictional characters of Ulrich and Clarisse. Unlike Arnheim or Diotima, Ulrich and Clarisse possess a clarity of thought and perception that allows see beneath the superficiality of their peers and their respective endevours. The previously mentioned artists, each in their respective fields, sought for a purity of language and ideas that
reflects the thoughtful skepticism that both Musil's heroes display. It is my belief that Ulrich and Clarisse are subconsciously capable of sensing the impending end of their era and empire. How, if possible, can the critical nature of Vienna's artistic purists be seen as a warning sign for the end of an era? How are the arts reflected to the social and political decay of a culture? Should such questions be asked?

who would you want to design your house?

So considering what we’ve talked about in class, would you rather have Adolf Loos, Otto Wagner, or Josef Hoffmann design your house? In terms of ideologies in a nutshell Loss detested the style for the Vienna Secession and had a lot of criticism for Modernism in architecture. Remember, for Loos Ornamentation was a total crime. Wagner on the other hand was more interested in urban planning. His style incorporated new materials and new forms of design to reflect society’s changes. He wanted designs to reflect their functions. Wagner had been a part of the Vienna Secession, but left. He went on to establish the Wiener Werkstätte. Here designed everything from lamps, to chairs, to glasses. As his career went on, Hoffmann’s style became slightly more abstract. His style seemed to be functional and abstract. His form of modern architecture had elements of clarity, simplicity, and logic.

So that said, what would you like? Would you live in a house designed by Loos, where ornamentation was a crime? Would you like to live in a home that incorporated new ideas and materials, that would reflect new changes in society? If Wagner designed your home, more than likely it would be full of pretty things from the Wiener Werkstätte! Or, would you like to have a slightly more abstract home designed by Hoffmann? Your home would be a work of modern architecture! Each of these architects brought something new and avant-garde to history, but the question is, who is the mastermind you’d like to design your home?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Was it just modernism?

So it took me a while of thinking, but I eventually came up with this question: What were some of the other goals that the Modernists were or were trying to accomplish with their works?

It is quite obvious that efficiency and a break from a repatative cycle was one of the mail goals of the modernist movements; but there were others, whether intentional or not, that also are apparent. I see the Modernists as possible role models in the fact that they saw something wrong in society and instead of just complaining about it, they got together and did something about it. The consequences of thier works are still seen in todays architecture, over a hundred years after they began their movement. Another area in which they are role models is like that of any leader, they dreamed big. Just about every Modernist that we have discussed, at least the architects, has had unfinished works that were huge dreams (Otto Wagner's plan for Vienna and Adolf Loos' design for the colum skyscraper in Chicago). These people took a lot of flak for their rediculous proposals, but that did not stop them from still believing in their designs and trying to convince others they they were great; although personally I think Wagner's plan for Vienna was a bit more practical than Loos' design. Either way, the Modernists believed in something and took action. It wasn't just the Modernist movement that these people left us with, there were many admirable traits they showed, that we can aspire to embrace.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Dream Story/Freud

I really focused in on the connections between the eros and thanatos drives evident in the Dream Story, which were quite prominent. Thanatos, the death drive or destructive forces, is seen around every corner. Fridolin is almost chasing thanatos throughout the dream story, seeking out that which is destructive. He follows his friend Nightingale to the mysterious costume party, although he is warned against going. There are many symbols along the way before he gets there to suggest that he should stay away; the coach that looks like a hearse, the strangeness of the costume shop where he procures his monk's habit, the young girl, Pierrette (possibly a madwoman, or at least according to Mr. Gibisier), and the password to the party- Denmark, which is where Fridolin and his wife had spent the summer (it also reminded me of Shakespeare's Hamlet, which took place in the same city--"Something's rotten in the state of Denmark--also, it is mentioned that he feels a sea-change within himself, much as Hamlet did when he went abroad and came back to Denmark, the sea-change being a recurring theme in Shakespeare in general.). He attends the strange party and it is evident that danger is all around him, that the other party-goers know or suspect that he does not belong. Intertwined with the danger of the events that are playing out is the life-drive and the sex-drive of eros. Something about the danger excites him, at the party there are beautiful, naked, masked women. He is aware of the fact that he is in danger but he can't seem to bring himself to leave without this beautiful woman who has been warning him to leave the party. It's as though thanatos and eros are waves crashing inside of him, because one instant he is attracted to danger and the next instant he is pulled towards beauty or love or music with the same fervor.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Thanatos and Sublimation

I think, for Fridolin, the situation in which the Baroness (who he believes to be the naked woman who had sacrificed herself to save him from trouble the night before at the masquerade party) has died represents Thanatos in the death of her and as a destructive force on his mind through his being wrought with guilt.  He then, I think, turns his Thanatos into Sublimation by using the death of Baroness D. to go home, confess his misgivings, and make his relationship with his wife stronger and better, therefore using the destructive force to channel into a positive, creative force.  

For Fridolin, it seems that after the death of the Baroness he is finally able to give into Sublimation and Eros and end the phase of destructive acts of compulsion  that he was going to.  I think the death is the ultimate form of closure and the it made his sublimation a great deal easier because he had few other options. 


I think that repression is demonstrated in Eyes Wide Shut. As  a culture one is not supposed to talk about sex and this represses Fridolin from his sexual urges. As Frued explains, when something is repressed it causes the person to have a compulsion. I think that this repression causes Fridolin to have a sexual compulsion which leads to all of his encounters. His encounters are being driven by this sexual urge to have sex with different women, and even though he never does, he comes very close. I think that Fridolins strong drive for sex is caused by a long time of repression and his conversation with his wife about their sexual urges sort of sets off this compulsion to have sex with other women.

Albertine's Dream

Albertine’s dream story begins before her marriage when she is safe in her parent’s home, perhaps a longing for her virginity. She imagines the scene from her daughter’s storybook with Fridolin as the oriental prince, she wishes for the carefree days of their early marriage before they began to distrust each other. She is aware that the carefree happiness of the night will not last, morning comes inevitably, and she discovers that she has no clothes. She is furious with Fridolin because it is his fault that she is naked. I think that this is symbolic of her naked psyche; he has insisted that they discuss everything and she would prefer to keep some of her own fantasies and thoughts to herself. When he leaves, she is filled with joy and calmness and dances and sings, this could be symbolic of episodes of masturbation that she has not shared with Fridolin, and could be the cause of her with a sense of “burning shame” earlier. She describes the city with high walls where Fridolin rushes back and forth searching for clothes, perhaps this represents his desire for sexual exploration. (The idea of being “inside” a city full of exotic fabric—the fabric and the city representing the feminine.) Albertine ultimately sees Fridolin being crucified and thinks that it is justified. This scene shows that she was completely angered by his desire and willingness to have an affair, while her desires were more fantasy—not feelings that she would necessarily have acted on, as we see from the changing face of the Dane. This was not a dream of wish fulfillment, but a kind of unconscious sense of revenge toward Fridolin for all the pain he has caused her throughout their marriage.

The Sublimation of Fridolin's Thanatos

One of the connections to Freud that I found especially profound was the concept of Sublimation, how almost every Thanatos drive Fridolin experiences is transformed into socially acceptable, pure, Eros drives.

To begin, Fridolin experiences several "near-miss" affairs that tempt him. Being in a fragile (jealous) state of mind after hearing of his wife's close affairs he is drawn to the daughter of an ex-patient, a prostitute, and a mysterious woman who protects him from the cult-ish members inside a creepy old manor. In each of these encounters he is strongly tempted to let his more primal urges take control, effectively ending his marriage and destroying his private life. In fact, the morning after these initial encounters he is resolved to "engage" in one of these encounters, consequences be damned!

Here is where the sublimation of his Thanatos drive begins; each time he seeks out one of the girls from the previous night some event occurs that drives him away. When he returns to see Marianne he is reminded she is leaving the next day with her fiancé. He learns that the prostitute is incredibly ill and is in the hospital for several weeks, and lastly, he becomes convinced that the woman from the manor died.

Regardless of its accuracy, the fact that Fridolin believes the Baroness who died is the same woman from the manor is the most important aspect of his sublimation. This is because Freud believed the "energy" from the Eros and Thanatos drives behaves like matter; it may be altered, but never destroyed. This is important to the concept of sublimation because when Fridolin learns that she died protecting him, all of her Eros energy is transferred to him, according to Freud.

One last aspect of the sublimation is the mask. A mask is usually a symbol of deceipt, however it takes on a different, cathartic role for Fridolin, helping him return to his wife. When he sees the mask on his pillow he knows she put it there, showing him she knows something is going on, yet expressing this with a "light-hearted approach," and with "a willingness to forgive." Instead of being used to conceal his true emotions, the mask becomes the vessel that allows Fridolin to confess his actions and ultimately become closer to his wife and live happily ever after...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dream Story

I find it very interesting how often sublimation is displayed in Dream Story. The basic principle of sublimation being the diversion of the energy of a sexual impulse (as it seems more prominent in this story) from its immediate target to one of a more acceptable social or moral target. Fridolin shows this a few times through out the story. The most striking instance of this begins on the bottom of page 235.

"And he vowed not to rest until he had again found the beautiful woman, whose dazzling nakedness had so intoxicated him. Only now did he think of Albertine, --and even so he felt as though he was obliged to conquer her as well, as though she could not, should not be his again until he had betrayed her with all the others he had met that night, with the naked woman, with Pierrette, with Marianne, and with the little trollop from the narrow backstreet."

Here it seems as though his crazed fascination with the naked lady from the weird secret masked ball, is re-directed to his wife. In fact it seems this same re-direction is repeated in the middle of page 271 where, in his head, he pictures the suicidal lady as his wife. It seems that through all his adventures he always comes back to thinking about his wife. His desires are eventually re-directed and his love of his wife (however imperfect) is rekindled.

I really like how this story shows the mental battle between the married couple it seems they both go through this circular pattern where one is upset at the other (because of some sexual feelings) and in some sort of revenge, they go out and almost get involved with others or at least think about it and later report it at which point the other one gets upset. This cyclical pattern seems to repeat which I find very poetically beautiful.

the Id and the Ego

In his theory of psychoanalysis, Freud basically states that sexual drive (the "id") is at the basis of all human actions. I see a lot of this theory demonstrated in Schnitzler's "Dream Story". At many instances, Fridolin's actions are definitely irrational. Schnitzler clearly suggests the working of sexual drives behind these actions.

For example, when Fridolin is told by the mysterious lady to leave the party at once, he responds to her "No,... life is no longer worth anything to me if I have to leave without you," even though he didn't even know who she was. This seems like an extreme case where Fridolin's action is ruled by the Id rather than the Ego. Also, the unsatisfied and repressed sexual drive at this instance leads him to keep wanting to go back to her. Fridolin connects the deceased Baroness D. with the mysterious lady, without any concrete backing, as if trying to convince himself that his "love" with the mysterious girl is concluded with her death. He wants to see her again, but at the same time, he probably does not want to get into any deeper trouble. You could almost see the battle between consciousness and sexual desire.

The interesting connection between Freud's psychoanalysis and Schnitzler's "Dream Story" is that Shnitzler does not simply introduce sexual desire as the only drive. It is dominating, but Shnitzler does not forget to show battle between rationality, coexistance of sexual desire (for women Fridolin encounters) and desire for stable life (with his wife), etc. In "Dream Story", Sexual drive is the foundational drive, just as Freud explains, but not the one-and-only drive.

I find the most apparent and relevant connection between our readings of Freud's theories on dreams and the Schnitzler's novel to be Albertine's dream itself. Using the Freudian method of analysis in relation to her dream the reader can come to understand how the events detailed in the chapters preceding her confession are reflected in her dream, and how, with Freud's help, a wish can be determined in her words. Her dream is built around the juxtaposition of Fridolin and the symbolic meaning of their marital union. Throughout the dream Fridolin is consistently associated with material adornments, clothing, costumes, etc. He flees to the village to procure these items when Albertine and himself realize they are left naked. Albertine, on the other hand, is ambivalent about her nudity and remains reclined in a meadow, at first alone, than with the strange danish traveler, and finally with an unknown number of others. There she laughs at Fridolin in his efforts to procure garments and at his refusal to accept the princesses offer and acquittal. That Fridolin is so motivated to cover their nudity suggests a suppresive quality of his nature, and of his inability to deal to with Albertine's sexuality. That she laughs at her husband from on high and is surrounded by many others in her nudity suggests that she is neither ashamed nor ignorant about her sexuality. These details and subsequent inferences seem to occur in Albertine's dream as a reaction to the jarring confession each partner makes at the beginning of the story. The resentment that this dream causes in both parties denotes the destructive nature of the upper-class Viennese and their relationship to their sexuality.

The Stairs

While presenting her information on Freud, Elisabeth had mentioned to look for situations in stories referring to Freud’s work where the person was either going up or down steps to symbolize their movement through their "house". I kept that in mind while I read "Eyes Wide Shut". Thus, the part that showed Fridolin going up the stairs, on page 237, shows him moving from his ‘id’ state to his ‘ego’ state. This takes place after his long night out; when he finally arrives home at 4am. At this point it is as if the sequence of events that took place before entering the stairway had taken place in the 'id'. Almost like everything that had happened was a part of a dream and was twisted and contorted with half truths that he could almost recognize. (For example, when he was on his way to the villa, he suddenly remembers that he had been there before and knew where about he was (pg. 218).) But once reaching his consulting room, or as Freud would state, his 'ego', he was quick to again suppress those memories of the night by hiding the mask in a cupboard. He knew that the mask, symbolizing his dreamy sort of night, would not fit in in society’s standards and rules so he hid it. This is only one simple paragraph to show the links between Freud and Schnitzler’s Dream Story; but certainly there are many more!

I find the most apparent and relevant connection between our readings of Freud's theories on dreams and the Schnitzler's novel to be Albertine's dream itself. Using the Freudian method of analysis in relation to her dream the reader can come to understand how the events detailed in the chapters preceding her confession are reflected in her dream, and how, with Freud's help, a wish can be determined in her words. Her dream is built around the juxtaposition of Fridolin and the symbolic meaning of their marital union. Throughout the dream Fridolin is consistently associated with material adornments, clothing, costumes, etc. He flees to the village to procure these items when Albertine and himself realize they are left naked. Albertine, on the other hand, is ambivalent about her nudity and remains reclined in a meadow, at first alone, than with the strange danish traveler, and finally with an unknown number of others. There she laughs at Fridolin in his efforts to procure garments and at his refusal to accept the princesses offer and acquittal. That Fridolin is so motivated to cover their nudity suggests a suppresive quality of his nature, and of his inability to deal to with Albertine's sexuality. That she laughs at her husband from on high and is surrounded by many others in her nudity suggests that she is neither ashamed nor ignorant about her sexuality. These details and subsequent inferences seem to occur in Albertine's dream as a reaction to the jarring confession each partner makes at the beginning of the story. The resentment that this dream causes in both parties denotes the destructive nature of the upper-class Viennese and their relationship to their sexuality.

A confession of sexuality that Fidolin was not ready for....

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that sexuality is as the heart of Freud’s psychoanalysis. In the phases in Freud’s development theory, I find the “Genital Phase” the most interesting. As a review the “Genital Phase” is the second sexuality where traumas come back in your sexuality. When these traumas come back you can either work through it or end up with neuroses. This might not completely relate, but I saw Albertine’s confession to Fridolin about her infatuation with of officer from the Danish coast as a trauma for Fridolin. I feel like this raw confession of desire really caught him off guard, because this raw sexual desire was not only coming from a woman, but his wife. Albertine said:

“Were he to summon me—or so I believed—I would not have been able to resist. I believed myself capable of doing anything; I felt I had as good as resolved to relinquish you, the child, my future, yet at the same time—will you believe this?—you were more dear to me than ever.”

Again, I think the realization that his wife was so sexual and had such vivid fantasies (especially about another man) really traumatized Fidolin. I feel like his entire journey from his dead patient’s house, to the hooker’s house, to Nightengale’s Nightclub, to the costume shop, the house, and so on… This entire journey was Fridolin working through the trauma of his wife’s sultry confession.

One of my favorite parts of the dream story is when Fridolin goes through elaborate measures to end up in the house where he thinks he'll have a good time, but it ends up as an almost nightmare. The whole time he's preparing to go to the house, Fridolin needs to jump through hoops and comes across strange people along with interesting events. This to me would have been a sign that things are not going to get anybetter, but as Fridolin tries to analyze the situation as he is going through it, he comes to conclusions that I believe Freud would not have.

The most interesting part comes when he actually makes it to the "dance." I'd say for many of us, the way to the house, the house itself and the inside is reminiscent of a nightmare. So much so that many people would wake up, either literally (if they were dreaming) or figuatively (in Fridolin's case, to get out of there). However, the whole time, Fridolin analyzes the situation and continues to convince himself that it is all just some elaborate joke or hoax and good things are to come. The warning signs were all over the place and I believe Freud would have also come to the conclusion that this house was not a good place to be. Alas, Fridolin stays, he gets caught but luckily for Fridolin, a savior appears who is willing to "redeem" him.

Analyzing this has led me to the conclusion that Fridolin's life was that of the nightmare that he was in, everything was very akward and his relationship with his wife was not all that great. However, the woman that sacrificed herself not only got Fridolin out of the house safely, but set in motion a chain of events that eventually led to the redemption of Fridolin's marriage as well.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Fridolin's dream (?) is in a professional sense a lot like Freud's first analyzed dream in one part. When Fridolin goes to the home of the Court Counsellor (climbing to the second floor, the superego or conscience), he sees his corpse in green lamp-light (this makes me think of Schiele's creepier green-tinged portraits). This I see as a wish fulfilled; he is indicated to be a frequent patient that took a lot of time and travel, and Fridolin in real life wanted his suffering to end and for his daughter to be free to marry.  

He seems to be concerned that Marianne's erotic power was being sapped by her role as nursemaid to her sick father. Fridolin thinks she loves him, and notes that her cheeks flush red when he enters the room (evoking an image of a post-coital flush), another probable wish. He cares more for her than the dream indicates (he is later indifferent to her when she is leaving), since he is concerned about the happiness of her forthcoming marriage and  realizes he considers himself the lesser to her fiance (he wishes to have a professorship, and so he consoles himself in the dream with Marianne's love). He and her fiance seem twinned by Schnitzler, and their exchange of pleasantries conclude the story. 

The corpse in the room serves as a backdrop for her confession of love; Fridolin thinks fondly of the forthcoming springtime when the window is opened (the circular nature of death and life, his wish to free Marianne from a house full of the stink of death) and he thinks that possibly she is hysterical and then that her father is not dead. This corpse foreshadows the morgue scene later in the story. Fridolin remembers a story about a boy raped by his dead mother's best friend at his mother's death-bed, mixing eroticism and death again. He thinks of his wife and her confession when he and Marianne embrace lovelessly, and is disgusted by the death smell in her clothes. What do you make of the absent brother and his painting? 

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


There definitely was signs of sexuality and power is Reigen and with some thought one could see death as well. I thought that this play was very interesting, showing a person from each power structure and how they will have sex with pretty much anyone else. From what we have learned about the history of Vienna at this time people were not to talk about sex and show no interest. Yet by doing this is seems that is just made people want it more and do more drastic things to get it. I think a good example of this is the older lady and her husband, they were portrayed talking about how neither of them would ever cheat and would not want to be involved with anyone would would cheat. Then they would go off and cheat on each other. Also is seemed that the people that seemed either older or of a higher class would also have more power when it came to interactions that came about with their other partner, especially with the woman, unless with her husband.
This type of ring of sex is also know as the dance of death or ring of death. The problem with everyone sleeping around is if one person is to catch something from someone else soon everyone will contract it. Therefore soon after anyone had caught something serious everyone would catch it, causing the dance of death.


"Reigen" was so very interesting! Though I didn't see much death in Reigen, the structures of power and sexuality of Viennese society were shown in a special way.  All of the characters, especially the tart, had a sexual side.  However, the tart who is presumably on the bottom of the societal stratosphere, was the only one who was openly honest about her sexuality.  All of the other characters were deceitful and only showed their sexual side when it would suit them or better their status.  As in the case of the young lady, who had sexual relations with men above her societal status as well as the poet who had sexual relations with the actress.   This is where sex and power intertwine throughout the play.  

The big thing that struck me in this play was not that everyone was having sex, but rather how it was happening. In every part of the play there was always someone who was craving and another who was willing, and it seems that in the next part of the play, the roles would be reversed (the soldier went form willing to craving for example). This reminds me of a disease, and it could be argued that prostitution is a disease, especially in the 1900s in Vienna. Although taboo, it is allowed, but only draws more people in, as if it is slowly destroying the society. I saw a similar thing happen in "Reigen" with characters at the end being hurt, but then in the next scene being the cravers that end up hurting the other character in the scene.

Showing faith in morality...

When reading Reigen, I was struck by the extreme self-centeredness of the characters. There isn't a strong emotional tie between any of the characters besides that they are partners in having a secret affair.They are each motivated merely by their own desire/lust/purpose when they have sex, and often the characters' attitudes change completely after having sex when their initial desire is fulfilled (while it is sometimes the starting point of a desire for the partner). This tendency is common for all characters, whether the character be a count or a wife. In class we talked about how sex was acting as a way of gaining social power (especially for women); it seems also that it is a way of depowering the social hierarchy by showing that everyone is subject to lust.

There is also always a conscious effort to insist that they are not being amoral, e.g. by turning off the light (under belief that being seen naked is shameful), or rejecting once before actually conforming to the act. There is total irony in how the characters value morality in society versus how much faith they actually put in it individually. Perhaps Schnitzler was making a point about what the Viennese said to be immoral (prostitution, liberal sex, etc) and the ironic acts of individuals, especially of the bourgeoisis men who makes daily commutes to prostitutes.

Monday, February 18, 2008

I can imagine how this play would cause such uproar in the early 1900s in Vienna. At this time even mentioning something along the lines of sexuality was big a huge shock, let alone an entire play about loose encounters throughout the social class structure of the Viennese. In terms of death, I found it interesting that no one was worried about STDs. I am sure that all ten characters were aware of the risks they were taking by performing these sexual acts. When I was younger my mom would refer to unprotected sex as practically playing a game of Russian roulette. It would be interesting to know what the death rate due to STDs was at this point in time. Oddly they were all willing to engage in this game to have a moment of satisfaction. Not only were they risking their life by playing these sexual games, they were risking their marriages, jobs, and livelihood. Each individual in the play risked something unique by each encounter. Whether it was social standing as in the sweet young girls encounters or a chance at excitement in the married woman’s encounters or something else, it seemed as if each characters was trying to gain something as well.

The Tart

The Tart is amazing in Schnitzler’s ‘Reigen,’ because she is the only character who seems to embrace her sexuality. To be fair she does sell her body for a living, but her sexual experience with the Soldier proves that she enjoys sex recreationally as well. The play says:

Soldier: You don’t need money? Who do you think you are anyway?
Tart: Oh I get money from the civilians. But a fellow like you can get it free, any time.

She never claims to love the Soldier, she never tells the Soldier that she loves him; she takes their relationship as a raw physical attraction as they make their way down to dark spot by the Danube.

The Tart’s laid back attitude towards sex is really interesting considering how most women felt about sex in Vienna during this time. I imagine women of this period growing up completely naïve about their own bodies, and the bodies of men. These women probably covered the mirrors when they came out of the bath. In this type of rigid Victorian environment it would be difficult to embrace your own sexuality. The Tart on the other hand completely embraces her sexuality. She’s probably swim in the Danube naked in broad daylight.

So, while the Tart is a prostitute she enjoys sex for more than the financial gain she gets from it. Her encounter with the Solider demonstrated that her sexual motivations exceed financial gains. She isn’t looking for love, she just seems to be looking for sexual pleasure.


While Reigen's cast includes characters from virtually every walk of Viennese society, the play, under its wide umbrella of different people and classes, expresses a universal hypocrisy or irony of the times.  Everyone it seems, regardless of their class, job, or supposed moral responsibilities is capable and willing to indulge in the the lewd, the deceptive, and the bawdy.  As a result Viennese sexuality appears as the great equalizer, a force capable bringing linking individuals from opposite ends of the societal spectrum under the most private of circumstances (such as a count and a prostitute).  The great irony of the story, however, is that while sex exerts a universal impact on the Viennese it retains its taboo status, a subject only to be played at or insinuated towards, without ever being directly addressed (as evidenced by the conversation between husband and wife).  The public fixation on superficial decency and class has forced sexuality underground and causes nearly everyone in the play to deceive their lovers and themselves.  Most poetically it is the prostitute or tart, the character farthest removed from societal concerns, who has the most sincere or direct relationship towards her lovers and their sexual escapades.

Reigen--Sex & Death

In “Reigen,” there is the elemental essence of each individual’s nature contrasted with the disintegration of the society as they know it. Schnitzler writes about the moments before and after sex, they are brief but give us strong impressions of what is happening between the characters.

These are characters that lack energy and vitality; they are moving toward the grave. These are lives in decline; they are not on the verge of radiating success There is no great exhilaration of love, there is just apathy and detachment, coupled with the vague impression that most of them have done this many times before. The male characters are jaded, promiscuous, and hold a higher social standing than their conquests. The female characters are searching for something: love, adventure, social status, or power. They are socially inferior, including the married woman, and all are sexually attainable. All except the tart want assurance that they are loved, or at least that they are worthy of the gifts that they might receive from their lovers. All the characters are self-conscious. They all enter into their ‘romances’ in a very deliberate fashion. The tart seems to be the most honest about her desires, but there is no way to know exactly what she thinks will happen in the future.

There is a strong atmosphere of a dissolute and degenerate morality. These are people taking chances; they are ignoring the possibility of sexually transmitted disease in their search for momentary pleasure. There is no joy in this search; they experience no pleasure in the sex. The count and the husband describe the experience of extra-marital sex as “intoxication.” This does not seem adequate to explain why they expose themselves to life threatening consequences in the pre-penicillin world. They do not really seem to care about their lives and behave as if there is no future. Even the married lady ignores the possibility of pregnancy or disease in her desire to experience…what exactly? ...momentary bliss? There are many allusions to “love” but all are phony and insincere, including the “love” between the husband and wife.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


The dialogue between the husband and the sweet young girl had the most explicit 'sex and death' subtext that I found in the play. In part of the interchange the husband quizzes her casually about how many men she has been with,  and could have just as easily been from a contemporary play about sexuality. She asks him why he wants to know and is "curious because I love you." It's the most shocking part of the play to me, his single-minded pursuit of some clue that might indicate she were diseased: he does not want a "professional" who might have syphilis. He lies about his question because it would break the spell. He goes over what she will say to her mother once he knows she is just a "sweet" girl, and makes sure he knows none of her family will come after him (what does your older brother do?), probes her for class earmarks (he asks where she gets theatre tickets, but this could be to make sure she didn't get them from a boyfriend) so he can be sure she is a lower class girl who will not get him into trouble. 

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Music & Musil

Music seems to be always subtly present in the background of Musil’s story, from the songs of Leona to the vague impression of waltzes in Diotima’s salon. However, music becomes very prominent in the relationship of Walter and Clarisse. Their relationship is defined through music; the music they play together and the music they play apart. The music binds and solidifies their relationship but it also drives them apart.

Clarisse was always sure that Walter was a genius, everything always came easily to him, yet he is never actually able capitalize on this genius. On the other hand, Clarisse is highly motivated, she does not think she is talented, but she drives herself to learn. Musil says, “…she saw genius as a question of willpower.” She forced herself to learn to play piano and to learn to paint. She recognizes that Walter is just a bureaucratic hack, he has no willpower and no drive, and it is killing her both mentally and emotionally. Her aversion to Wagner comes from a dislike of “…everything voluptuary in art…” She yearns for simple clean lines, both in art and in music. Nevertheless, this is only part of it, she also dislikes Wagner because she recognizes his genius, the same genius that Walter is incapable of ever having.

I think that Clarisse is probably the true genius in the relationship, but she cannot, or does not see it in herself. She is driven to succeed. She analyzes her relationship with the world, with music, and with art. She recognizes that Walter has no such thoughts, he is wrapped up in music, but he cannot express why even to himself, and he cannot create music or paintings. Clarisse realizes that without music they would have nothing together, and she is ashamed of her failure to learn the truth about Walter's "genius" before her marriage.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Walter and Clarisse

Walter and Clarisse seem to have little in common except music. Music is what brings them together and simultaneously drives them apart. It represents their relationship's complex nature. When everything is ok, the music imitates their love and the sexual energy that is between them, for they share many interests and are definitely physically attracted to eachother. However, when Walter plays Wagner, she won't allow him to touch her for days. They play Beethoven together and both Clarisse and Walter are happy together. Walter is more talented than Clarisse, but her desire to excel leads her to practice for hours. Walter seems much more laid-back about almost everything. He is good at playing the piano, but it doesn't seem as though he had to work to be great. Clarisse, on the other hand, is driven and determined to perfect her skills. I thought it was interesting that she absolutely hated Wagner--I suppose she was no different from most people of the time, but that Walter knows she can't stand Wagner and yet he continues to play it is really interesting to me in the context of their relationship. It's like they're playing a game of slowly driving each other nuts, with brief interludes where they'll play "Ode to Joy" and everything will be ok for a while.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Walter and Clarisse are a great example of a dysfunctional marriage. They are only able to communicate through the common language of music; however, their communication is completely scripted for them. Together, they sit at the piano to play Beethoven’s "Ode to Joy" as a duet. When they play the piano it is the ONLY time that they connect. I would never want to be in a relationship where it would be so easy to refuse myself to my husband because he simply played a piece of Wagner. This is totally manipulative and wrong (although, after years of having this thrown in his face, Walter now enjoys making Clarisse mad by playing Wagner); it is so sad.

It would also be hard to live in a society where dissonance was rejected. To me, I feel as if Beethoven would be halting society with the thoughts of perfection being reached with his 9th symphony. As discussed in class, yes this was a great work, and would be hard to top; but I am so thankful that other musicians came along and realized that so much more could be created and continued to work even though a large part of society had thought perfection had arrived. Could you image what the music scene would be like today? A bunch of Beethoven copy cats sitting and trying to continually thrive off of the energy created in Beethoven’s works... totally boring after 100 years of listening to it. I for one am extremely thankful we moved on! I also feel sad for Clarisse for not wanting the ‘new’

Music & The Man...

It seems as though the interesting relationship between Walter and Clarisse is explained quite a bit through their musical exchanges. Clarisse wants Walter to be a "success" or rather an acceptable figure in high society. Their playing of "Ode to Joy" a masterpiece in its time, expresses both of their desires. Walter would like to produce greatness but is unable. Clarisse wants greatness from him but doesn't get it. When Walter plays Wagner it expresses his feeling of defeat. Clarisse dislikes it when he plays Wagner because she wants greatness for Walter and she sees Wagner's music as voluptuous and mere fanciness, which is not at all the raw art she wants from Walter.
It seems the playing of Wagner represents a defeatist attitude that Walter displays. Clarisse doesn't like this and this is why she denies herself to him for weeks at a time when he plays it. Wagner doesn't represent anything "new", like atonal music for example, rather it takes on the same old form that has been done and re-done. So while Clarisse is trying to get Walter to surround himself with good unique music, she finds him moping around playing the same old tunes.

Walter's lack of genius

The relationship between music and the man without qualities is showcased by Walter and Clarisse's relationship because Clarisse despises when Walter plays Wagner.  She and Walter play Beethoven together and when they do so, the world is happy and their relationship is great because they are able to enjoy the moment playing that songs of a genius.  However when they are not able to escape the reality of their lives and their relationship by playing Beethoven, there is obvious tension between the two.  Clarisse pesters Walter as he plays Wagner, and even leaves the flat for walk while continuing to complain about the Wagner piece as she is walking with Ulrich. 

This ties into our discussion about music and about Beethoven and how the Viennese are obsessed with the perfection of Beethoven's Ninth and how nothing else could live up to it.  In the same way Walter lacks the ability to become a genius like Beethoven, the idea of the man without qualities has a parallel thought in Viennese society in the those considered to have qualities are able to exhibit the few qualities held in high esteem by Viennese society.

Wagner, Sex, and Star Wars

“Faces flushed, bodies hunched, their heads jerked up and down while splayed claws banged away at the mass of sound rearing up under them. Something unfathomable was going on: a balloon, wavering in outline as it filled up with hot emotion, was swelling to the bursting point, and from the excited fingertips, the nervously wrinkling foreheads, the twitching bodies, again and again surges of fresh feeling poured into this awesome private tumult. How often had they been through this!” (45)

Is this quote something I pulled out of one of my Nana’s countless cheesy smut romances with Fabio on the cover; laden with passionate tales of sheet shaking sweating romantic encounters? Nope it came straight from the pages of the Man without Qualities. Sometimes I get a little tired of the readings, so I think up elaborate scenarios to make the reading more interesting. Like for instance, imagining that the characters are really on the stage singing opera at each other. It is rather odd, but it keeps me awake. That is why this passage describing Walter and Clarisse playing the piano really caught my eye. It captures such passion and vigor that I hadn’t seen from this book. Seeing here that they both shared such a passion and talent for music, I thought it would speak to the strength of their relationship and the power of their love. Since they were playing “Ode to Joy,” part of what is known as the most perfect symphony, I thought their choice of music would stand as a symbol for their relationship. I was wrong.

The fact that Walter and Clarisse are playing “Ode to Joy,” is nothing but another fallacy and irony. Beethoven’s 9th strums up feelings of harmony, beauty, utopia, happiness and perfection. That is a pretty far cry from what I think of when I consider Walter and Clarisse’s relationship. When I think of their marriage I think of tension, discord, miscommunication, and a hint of jealousy. I found it equally ironic that Ulrich said, “[he] knew that Clarisse refused her body to Walter for weeks at a time when he played Wagner.” (47) In reality, Wagner’s compositions, drama’s, and themes better describe Walter and Clarisse’s relationship than Beethoven. On a side note, I really enjoy Wagner, his music actually inspired John Williams when he composed the music for Star Wars. So to wrap this up, I don’t mean to be the gossip in class or the one who constantly hits on taboo topics but for me music really seems to correspond with sexual tensions in Walter and Clarisse’s relationship.

Music in The Man Without Qualities

It seems that the only time that Walter and Clarisse are in unity is when they are at the piano playing together. Walter clearly has a passion for playing the piano and playing Wagner, Clarisse loves the fact that Walter has a passion for the piano and one has to wonder if Clarisse is with him because of him or because how he plays the piano. There is an interesting part in the book when Walter is at the piano and Clarisse and Ulrich are in the other room. Walter can hear them talking and enjoying themselves while he is left alone with his piano. It is almost as Walter sits at his piano and plays hoping the Clarisse will hear the piano and come spend time with him instead, as Walter is extremely jealous of Ulrich. Music is what brought Walter and Clarisse together and it seems that the music is no longer strong enough, that Clarisse has found something else she is interested in, in Ulrich's idealogy.

Music and Musil

Clarisse and Walter seem to take an emblematic or symbolic role in the novel as representations of the artistic ideas at work in Vienna at the time. In a sense their love of music, or the act of sitting together at the piano, serves as the sole means for linking them as lovers. Metaphorically I believe that their shared love of music and the means by which they use it to communicate reflects the important and elevated place that the arts held in Vienna. Likewise the manner in which music serves as a forum for their arguments and spats reflects the highly discussed and contestable nature of the artistic community. Of particular note is their ongoing debate over Wagner. It is my belief that Clarisse's contempt for Wagner reflects Hanslick and Shoenberg's objection to Wagner's popularization of the "geswantkunstwerk" (sp.?). There is a sense in which Walter treats his love of Wagner as a guilty pleasure or indulgence of sorts. After considering the opera we viewed in class on Friday I feel as if I can understand why a character as "hifalutin" or "refined" as Clarisse would object to such work. As impressive as opera may be I can understand how some may have found the opera's of Wagner to be a dilution of pure musical craft and language. Her objection or concern over Wagner, as far as it has been insinuated, also seems to echo the concerns of Krauss and language. As a man who feels artistically impotent, it makes sense how Walter's embrace of Wager might represent an artistically inclined individual giving up on or abandoning the dream of artistic Viennese progress.

Music, Clarisse and Walter

It seems as though when Clarisse and Walter are playing the piano, the are perfectly in tune with one another; however, this appears to be the only time that we see the two "enjoying" one another's company. It is interesting that the two are with each other only when "perfect" music is played. As Beethoven's symphony was concidered to be the ultimate work of musical art, it is rather sad that Clarisse and Walter are only together when they play this. I see this as Clarisse having too high of expectations as she is not able to enjoy Walter unless everything is perfect.

Even when Walter plays Wagner, Clarisse pays no attention to him, because the music is not perfect. In Clarisse's mind, Walter is only worth paying attention to when he shows his "genious" by playing Beethoven; however, when Walter plays Wagner, Clarisse looks down on him, as if he is trying to insult her with such plain music.

Clarisse comes off to be very cold when you look at their marriage this way, as everything must be her way before she is willing to respond at all. How their marriage continues, I have no idea, but I believe Clarisse thinks that Walter will become a genius in due time, as long as she continues to "show" him the right thing to do by ignoring him when he does the wrong thing. Perhaps she believes that she will eventually have a Beethoven all to herself, so they can make beautiful music together.

For the Love of Music

The relationship between Walter and Clarisse is centered around Clarisse's wholehearted love of music. Growing up in an environment where she was surrounded by stage sets and designs (i.e. things she thought was a "decoration" added to the music), Clarisse "had come to loathe from the depths of her soul everything voluptuary in art" (50). This is perhaps a part of reason why Wagner, who pursued Gesamtkunstwerk.

Also, I think Clarisse had already established her liking for a certain kind of music, such as Beethoven. And being a devoted music-lover that she is, this liking is probably a lot stronger than that of most people. Meanwhile, Musil provides a description of modernists artists as that "all the people involved in destroying the achievements of a preceding good epoch feel they are improving on them" (53). It is possible that Clarisse disliked playing Wagner for that, because Beethoven was already a "genius" to her.

When Walter and Clarisse sit down in front of the piano, they have a certain commitment as musicians. Music clearly means a lot to them, and even if they didn't like each other at all, for example, I think they will still play cooperatively to keep the music that they produce beautiful. They therefore get along very well when they are playing a duet, unless Walter is playing Wagner. They don't have the same sort of connection when they are simply having a conversation. Clarisse probably simply loves the music talent in Walter, and not Walter himself. That is why her love is strong when they are playing a duet, weaker when they are not, and even rejects when Walter plays Wagner.


We discussed the unity of Walter and Clarisse at the piano while playing Beethoven, and Clarisse's dislike of Wagner in class. Their marriage appears to function when they are together playing in ch. 17, yet they are fractured outside of that activity; she refuses to have sex with Walter as long as he plays Wagner. We discussed what a modernist like Clarisse would think of Wagner; would she object because she doesn't wish to bring the emotional strain of his music into her marriage? What other reasons could there be for her objection to Wagner? The portion of Die Walkure we viewed in class was fraught with tension; the music swelled dramatically with trouble brewing over and over.  

Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was so perfect, as we discussed, that it produced a "what do we do now?" response in music. Thinking along those lines, and in response also to Clarisse's complex frustration with the marriage in ch. 38, I can see the same quandry occurring in their marriage. She asks herself "does getting on well together lead to hate?" and obsesses about Moosbrugger. Within the union of the two at the piano she seems to unravel thinking of  the completeness she felt with Walter as a girl and hallucinating, it seems, about the evil of Moosbrugger. 

Do you think the clash and dissonance that's heard in Wagner and later in Schoenberg are a more appropriate 'soundtrack' to marriage or modern life than Beethoven's Ninth is?  

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The ethics of language and its use

The crisis that Lord Chandos runs into is that of language, in a sense. As he describes in the letter, it's not that he can not use language (he hasn't gone mute), but he can not use language to discuss truth in life. Therefore, since what he says can not be truth, it is then a lie (at least according to his thinking); this is unacceptable to him. So Chandos decides that it is better to not speak at all rather than to speak lies. This is where the ethicality of the usage of language comes into play for Chandos. It does raise a good point/question though, if you can not speak truth, why speak?

As far as what Ulrich would say... I imagine it would be a very long discourse using the largest, least often used words that Ulrich could muster, and in the end Ulrich would summerize and say something like "Chandos had qualities, but would not allow himself to speak of them."

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Lord Chandos/Ulrich

Lord Chandos can no longer write. It isn't as though he can't write anything at all; indeed, he manages to write quite a lengthy letter to explain his problem. He is unable to say the words "body", "spirit", or "soul". He can't criticize his daughter for telling a lie. He spends what seems like ages contemplating the grooves of his fingertips. He is having a crisis because he worries about the words he is using, or trying to use. Does he know what they mean? Does he understand what he's saying? Why is it that he feels unease using these words that he was previously accustomed to using? I feel as though his reticence is a signal that perhaps he is beginning to more fully understand the weight of his own words. To discuss "spirit", "body", and "soul" is to explore the meaning of it all, who we are, what we are. Perhaps Lord Chandos no longer feels comfortable doing so because he can't describe his thoughts with absolute conviction. I think he and Ulrich would understand eachother. Ulrich both acknowledges himself as a man without qualities in terms of his society and the values with which he was raised, and yet exhibits many other qualities at the same time. He is unsure of himself when it comes to the parameters of society, because he knows that he hasn't attained the goals considered important by others. He might also feel reluctant to commit to an explanation of the world around him because he realizes how little he understands.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Lord Chandos Letter

In Lord Chandos letter, Hofmannsthal gives an account of how language has ceased to give meaning and description to the truth. He seems to believe that he can no longer write because language is an instrument of dishonesty, it has lost its ability to describe the real and true. He is no longer able to be an impartial “user” of language, if he tries to describe the truth, it will become a lie when he puts it into words. This inability to use his words is driving him crazy. He worries that language will not convey his true meaning; everything is will be a misrepresentation. Everything he has already written will become false. I, too, believe that Lord Chandos is really Hofmannsthal in disguise. He is lamenting his own lack of ability to communicate his thoughts effectively to others. There is no new way to express truth through language because mere language cannot express the complexities of innermost emotions. He is experiencing a deep crisis, one that does not have an easy way out. It is a crisis of his faith in his own talent and ability as a poet and writer. I suspect that Ulrich would agree with him. They would be very likely to have an interesting discussion about language, its meaning of language, as well as its past, present, and future incarnations.

Lord Chandos

In "A Letter" by Hofmannsthal, Lord Chandos struggles with the loss of language.  He cannot stream words together and express his thoughts and feelings.  This loss of language happens because he finds that language becomes an entity that is not whole but instead is now an empty, meaningless action that holds no true depth and meaning.  Language no longer fully embodies the metaphysical power it once had to seek and display the overlaying truths of life.  And so, to Lord Chandos the poet becomes a liar through which language misrepresents the truth in life when to Lord Chandos it no longer comes close to being able to represent the truth, hence his transaction with his daughter in which he could not call her liar because by his saying liar he would become a liar himself.  Because language has become a tool of lies, the loss is an ethical one because by continuing to use language as the main mechanism for expression he would become a liar, an unethical man.

I think that Ulrich and Lord Chandos are one in the same.  Lord Chandos lost his language, but Ulrich has yet to find his.  They are both men lost in the world around them, unable to express themselves and their qualities in relation to those around them.  

Lord Chandos

Lord Chandos is upset because he has lost his ability to express himself. This starts out as him not being able to speak or write or think in the manner that he is used to. It is clear from the letter that he has not lost the ability to write or his ability to use language. Yet, he has lost his ability to use language in the way that he most desires to use it, to write poetry. I think that this is mostly an ethical problem for Chandos, but as well as a psychological one. Ethically because he cannot write poetry anymore in the same way that he used to and if he were to continue to write it would be a "lie". His poetry would not be true to his heart anymore and he would be faking the poetry that he would be able to conjure up. Since Chandos would be no longer be able to write poetry in a way to truely express himself, any poetry he did write would not be true, and therefore a lie. I think if you look at this as a slightly less deep subject you can see a psychological point of view as well. He explains how he cannot keep a single thought together to the point that he cannot form a sentence. Everything jumbles together in his mind, he cannot focus and the things that he is able to focus on for a sort moment of time are, to him, not things to be focused on, for example being one with a bucket. To me, this seems like a psychological problem and would cause his inability to write any poetry and the rambling that his letter is.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

man without qualities?

Chandos is upset over his loss of language, and I see this crisis as an ethical one for him. A writer losing their mastery of words is a tragedy. However, since Lord Chandos clearly can still write (as the letter shows) his dilemma is an ethical one in the sense that he can write, but that does not make him a writer. The misuse of language is immoral for Chandos. The crisis of language is a problem of communication of thought, but what happens when the author is unable to think clearly? In my mind this draws a really interesting comparison between Ulrich and Chandos. For Chandos, in losing his ability to write, he is losing an aspect of himself that society has come to expect of him. In this sense, I think he and Ulrich could really relate to each other. In losing his quality of writing, he (just like Ulrich) has become a man without qualities.

Lord Chandos

Part of what I find so fascinating about Lord Chandos' dilemma is that while he, as a poet or writer, finds himself incapable of working, he seems to have entered the most sensitive state of his life. Both the mundane and the removed suddenly have great impact on his thoughts and emotions, like the dying cries of the poisoned rats or the affairs of other people (which he now considers as being terrifyingly close to him). As someone who considers himself an artist the inability to articulate this heightened sensitivity is understandably maddening. It is in aesthetical crisis because he is experiencing such an acute shift in perspective, a psychological crisis because his is unable to articulate his experiences, and an ethical crisis because he finds himself most worried misrepresentation and the truth of his words. It is difficult for me to ponder Ulrich's potential responses to his letter, but I do think that Chandos could benefit from his rational perspective. Perhaps this is why Chandos is writing to the father of empiricism. There is a sense in which I feel that Ulrich's childhood friend Walter is suffering a similar crisis, have yet to see if or how Ulrich addresses it.

Meaning of Words

Lord Chandos struggles to use language because he starts to loose faith in its validity. He experiences series of overwhelming empathy (e.g., with rats or buckets). It comes from sense of oneness, in which shape, material, name, etc, is only a sort of a "decoration", and not its true nature (I think). And the "thing" that connects everything (through which Lord Chandos experiences other beings/objects), is the "Truth".

Since he had a glance of Truth, he starts to think that "everything was symbolism" or a "grand allegory". In other words, words by itself does not hold much meaning to him anymore, because he is feeling things more grand, things in the metaphysical realm. He questions the meaning of the words, and therefore its validity. He stops writing poetry because he cannot express the Truth in just words-- therefore, this is a moral issue for him.

Lord Chandos's struggle with poetry reflects Hofmannsthal's struggle with expression. Hofmannsthal also felt that words were not enough to convey what he really wanted to convey, and therefore he worked with multimedia forms of expression, i.e. theater. His desire to truly express what he means to is a striking contrast to popular use of flowery language and ornamental artifacts. It comes down to a question of "what are you trying to show with art?" For Hofmannsthal, decorativeness and grandeur was obviously an obstruction to what he wanted to show through art.

I'm thinking back to the discussions we had about "The Night..." and I remember talking about how Hofmannsthal often used these characters to portray himself. After learning a little bit about Hofmannsthal through the reader as well as through Brandstatter, I would completely agree that "Lord Chandos" is really Hofmannsthal. Lord Chandos (Hofmannsthal) is upset about the way that language is becoming false and full of lies. No longer can communication be a true way to express oneself. Without truth in communication everything in his life will become a lie.

I think that the issues in the book are a bit psychological. Hofmannsthal had to put a lot of effort into writing this piece; while doing so, whether he intended to or not, he reflected his emotional and cognitive state. He was a very upset man. By looking at the example of how Lord Chando couldn't speak to his daughter, you could almost say that Hofmannsthal was almost becoming mad. I also, think that there is a bit that reaches the ethical point as well. As talked about in class, Hofmannsthal started to believe that language was becoming a lie; thus if he were to write something in this language, he too would be lying.

Silence of Lord Chandos

The crisis of Chandos is both psychological and ethical. His poetry would be dishonest were he to write about anything in this state of knowing but being unable to speak or write. I believe his condition is a psychological state only because I came across a scholarly article on silence during therapy and what that silence communicates - I can imagine this letter being spoken (or relayed with silence) to a psychologist or therapist in that context. The Letter has a confessional feel to it. 

His 'aesthetic' sense is in working order, however. The empathy with everything he sees that Heidi spoke about in class is apparent, and he has many subjects to write about. The passage near the end about his "nameless joyful feeling" in experiencing ephemeral pleasures in the world and of the man who loved his eel are observations that are highly aesthetic in a way I associate with Japanese poetry and art. Does he retain his poetic soul and ethics? Is he protecting them with his vow not to write? 

Friday, February 1, 2008


It seems Lord Chandos is upset about his inability to express a unity with nature and his surroundings, that he feels, via words or poetry. As a literary poet or writer this could be very frustrating.
He calls his inability to write "a mental illness" so it could be called a psychological crisis. On the other hand I believe it could be looked on as an ethical crisis because through characterizing or describing something or some experience quite often the thing that is described is singularized or expressed as something separate from everything else and this is how we identify things. This, however would conflict with the unity that he is experiencing in a particular moment and would in fact nullify the entire experience. "I felt an inexplicable uneasiness in even pronouncing the words "spirit," "soul," or "body." (5th page in) This shows his uneasiness with words and how they separate things into their own little categories. When experiencing a moment as a unified-thing it would seem wrong or "unethical" to express it in singular and separated words. Or at least it wouldn't do the moment any justice.
It also seems conflicting that his experiences are all related to nature (or at least the wording used to describe things is very nature-esque) and presenting these experiences with mechanical words wouldn't seem to be very representative.