Sunday, February 10, 2008

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.


erin andersen said...

You hit on another thing here that I didn't feel I had room to elaborate on in my post. Music really does stand as a symbol of their happiness and discontent with each other. The Viennese do indeed seem to be obsessed with perfection, and Clarisse only seems to see Walter as perfect when he is playing music she sees as highly cultured.

Sterling Mackinnon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sterling Mackinnon said...

In the second portion of your post you seem to label Walter as a man who is also without qualities. Is this your intention? If so I would be curious to see how you elaborate or flesh out your idea. I agree that Walter, as an artist, falls short of his aspirations. Yet curiously Musil makes due note of the fact that for awhile someone new each week would praise Walter as genius for his new endevours. This praise and accolade however is always short lived and, in a sense, reflects the fickle and self congratulatory nature of the coffee house culture. In that sense I feel as if Walter is very much emblematic of the times and ideas. Furthermore it is my belief that because he himself finds Ulrich's lifestyle and philosophies so objection this distinction is made clearer.