Im Reiche der Harmonie ist ... nicht Anfang und Ende, wie die gegenstandslose,

German translation: In the realm of harmony...there can be no beginning and no conclusion, just as...

19:06 Aug 21, 2007
German language (monolingual) [PRO]
Art/Literary - Music / Music history
German term or phrase: Im Reiche der Harmonie ist ... nicht Anfang und Ende, wie die gegenstandslose,
This is - can't you guess? - an excerpt from the writings of Richard Wagner on Tristan und Isolde. I've a lot to bite on in the sentence as it is, but the first nine words have completely stumped me, since I can't for the life of me see how the phrase hangs together, whether the dots imply something's been left out, or what. Context: The sentence continues: "sich selbst verzehrende Gemütsinbrunst, unkundig ihres Quelles, nur sie selbst ist, Verlangen, Sehnen, Stürmen, Schmachten – Ersterben, das heißt, Sterben ohne in einem Gegenstand sich befriedigt zu haben, also Sterben ohne zu Sterben, somit immer wieder Zurückkehr zu sich selbst." Any Wagner fans out there, or specialists in this kind of purple German prose? TIA!
Diana Loos
Local time: 12:22
Selected answer:In the realm of harmony...there can be no beginning and no conclusion, just as...
Explanation:
With such complex subject-matter, it doesn't help to have parts missing, however short, because they may contain vital clues or references, but I think the main points are clear.

The key to understanding this sentence is to recognise that it is a parallel description of Wagner's revolutionary harmonic scheme, the distinguishing feature of which is that the harmonies are never resolved (here: sich befriedigen) but continually evolve, change and develop without making use of conventional harmonic cadences or resolutions. Famously, the 'Tristan chord' with which the work opens remains unresolved throughout.

The reason why Wagner expresses the structure of his harmony in this rather elaborate language can be found in one word: Schopenhauer. As is well known, W was profoundly influenced by S, and to make sense of the German a (very brief and crude) summary of S on music is necessary.

For S, of course, the world has two aspects, will and representation, 'will' (Wille) being the underlying, grounding noumenal realm of true reality, while 'representation' (Vorstellung) denotes the physical, phenomenal world in which Wille is objectified and in which we ordinarily live. For S, the objectified world of representation in which we miserable humans are trapped is a bummer (striving, fighting, suffering, never-ending desire and torment) and redemption is to be found, as in Buddhism (hence the profoundly Buddhistic element in W's late operas), in renouncing desire and achieving release from the phenomenal world into the realm of pure noumenon.

Music is one of the principal ways by which this can be achieved (sex is another) because, for S, while the arts generally provide images (Abbilder) of the world of representation, music is a pure expression of the non-objectified realm of the noumenon.

W was utterly captivated by this notion which is of central importance to his work and this is why it is crucial that his harmony does not resolve itself by finding an object: by remaining unresolved, the music remains a noumenal Abbild of questing, unsatisfied desire, always turning back in on itself and renewing itself from within. Resolution is finally achieved only by means of the negation of desire through death.

This is why W uses the term 'Gegenstand' here, and other language echoing S (see first quote below), which must be retained in translation if the passage is not to become trivialised and meaningless. Maybe: 'In the realm of harmony...there can be no beginning and no conclusion, just as the blazing swirl of emotions, feeding on itself without an object and unaware of its cause, remains no more than itself, desiring, yearning, raging, pining, dying away, that is, dying without having resolved itself in the object, dying without really dying, and thus always returning back to itself.'

Not very intelligible English, but then W's German was pretty unintelligible too.

One final point: I don't know how deep you're going into this but, as Ken says, sexual imagery is far from inappropriate here, given S's emphasis on sex as a route to the noumenon and the successive waves of musical orgasm with which the work climaxes (sic), and is certainly an overtone in 'befriedigen'. If it were possible to use 'satisfy/satisfaction' in English instead of 'resolve/resolution' it would certainly not be wrong, though perhaps too narrow.



'alles Begehren, Streben, Wünschen, Verlangen, Sehnen, Hoffen, Lieben, Freuen, Jubeln und deren Gegenstücke als Äußerungen des Wollens’ („Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung III, S.529f). '

[Der Mensch]...'ist Objektivation des Willens, d.h. zum Objekt gewordener Wille.
An dieser Stelle erklärt Schopenhauer, dass den verschiedenen Entwicklungsstufen der Erscheinung verschiedene Objektivationsstufen des Willens entsprechen...'

http://www.salvia-community.net/Ueber_die_Welt_Als_Wille_Und...

'music is distinguished from the other arts by the fact that it is not a copy [kpm: Abbild] of the phenomenon, or, more accurately, the adequate objectification of the will, but is the direct copy of the will itself'

http://users.belgacom.net/wagnerlibrary/articles/ney48218.ht...

'Der Wille wird objektiv, greifbar, in der Allgemeingültigkeit der Begriffe, zumal in dem, was Schopenhauer als Platonische Idee anspricht...Die als “Verdeutlichung der Sichtbarkeit des Willens” definierte Kunst hat in der Reinheit der Platonischen Idee ihren adäquaten Gegenstand. Die Ordnung der Künste ergibt sich aus dem Rang der jeweils repräsentierten Idee...In dieser Systematik wird die Stufenhierarchie der Willensobjektivation sichtbar...Aufgrund ihrer besonderen metaphysischen Wesenskennzeichnung wird die Musik außerhalb der Reihe dieser Künste angesiedelt.'

http://www.harmonik.de/harmonik/vtr_pdf/Beitraege9401Schulze...
Selected response from:

Kieran McCann
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:22
Grading comment
Vielen Dank sowohl für die detaillierten Hintergrundinformationen als auch für die Übersetzungsvorschläge.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



SUMMARY OF ALL EXPLANATIONS PROVIDED
3 +1explanation attempt below
Johanna Timm, PhD
3In the realm of harmony...there can be no beginning and no conclusion, just as...
Kieran McCann


  

Answers


24 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
explanation attempt below


Explanation:
..."purple prose" , indeed ;-)

I've tried to bring some order into Herrn Wagner's ruminations:
[...] my addition
(...) my omission

Hope this helps!


Im Reiche der Harmonie ist nicht [gibt es keinen] Anfang und [kein]Ende,
[so] wie die gegenstandslose, sich selbst verzehrende Gemütsinbrunst,
- unkundig ihres Quelles [die ihre Quelle nicht kennt]- nur sie selbst ist,
[so wie] Verlangen, Sehnen, Stürmen, Schmachten – Ersterben,
- das heißt, Sterben ohne in einem Gegenstand sich befriedigt zu haben,
[das heißt] also Sterben ohne zu Sterben, -
(somit) immer wieder [eine] Zurückkehr zu sich selbst [ist].


--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 29 mins (2007-08-21 19:36:13 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Sorry. I just realized you were probably looking for a translation -but any translation attempts on my part would sound utterly unwagnerian :-(

Johanna Timm, PhD
Canada
Local time: 03:22
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman
Notes to answerer
Asker: Many, many thanks, Johanna - your detailed syntactical analysis put me on the right path!


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Ken Cox: chapeau! probably 'in the realm of (musical) harmony, there is no beginning and no end...' (that's the easy part)
16 mins
  -> merci, monsieur;)

disagree  Janis Auzins: That would be changing the text, ie, it doesn't SAY that
30 mins
  ->  Do you think I over-interpreted it?

agree  Bernhard Sulzer: excellent "explanation" - and that was your stated goal!
53 mins
  -> Ach, du bist zu nett! danke!
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

1 day 14 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
In the realm of harmony...there can be no beginning and no conclusion, just as...


Explanation:
With such complex subject-matter, it doesn't help to have parts missing, however short, because they may contain vital clues or references, but I think the main points are clear.

The key to understanding this sentence is to recognise that it is a parallel description of Wagner's revolutionary harmonic scheme, the distinguishing feature of which is that the harmonies are never resolved (here: sich befriedigen) but continually evolve, change and develop without making use of conventional harmonic cadences or resolutions. Famously, the 'Tristan chord' with which the work opens remains unresolved throughout.

The reason why Wagner expresses the structure of his harmony in this rather elaborate language can be found in one word: Schopenhauer. As is well known, W was profoundly influenced by S, and to make sense of the German a (very brief and crude) summary of S on music is necessary.

For S, of course, the world has two aspects, will and representation, 'will' (Wille) being the underlying, grounding noumenal realm of true reality, while 'representation' (Vorstellung) denotes the physical, phenomenal world in which Wille is objectified and in which we ordinarily live. For S, the objectified world of representation in which we miserable humans are trapped is a bummer (striving, fighting, suffering, never-ending desire and torment) and redemption is to be found, as in Buddhism (hence the profoundly Buddhistic element in W's late operas), in renouncing desire and achieving release from the phenomenal world into the realm of pure noumenon.

Music is one of the principal ways by which this can be achieved (sex is another) because, for S, while the arts generally provide images (Abbilder) of the world of representation, music is a pure expression of the non-objectified realm of the noumenon.

W was utterly captivated by this notion which is of central importance to his work and this is why it is crucial that his harmony does not resolve itself by finding an object: by remaining unresolved, the music remains a noumenal Abbild of questing, unsatisfied desire, always turning back in on itself and renewing itself from within. Resolution is finally achieved only by means of the negation of desire through death.

This is why W uses the term 'Gegenstand' here, and other language echoing S (see first quote below), which must be retained in translation if the passage is not to become trivialised and meaningless. Maybe: 'In the realm of harmony...there can be no beginning and no conclusion, just as the blazing swirl of emotions, feeding on itself without an object and unaware of its cause, remains no more than itself, desiring, yearning, raging, pining, dying away, that is, dying without having resolved itself in the object, dying without really dying, and thus always returning back to itself.'

Not very intelligible English, but then W's German was pretty unintelligible too.

One final point: I don't know how deep you're going into this but, as Ken says, sexual imagery is far from inappropriate here, given S's emphasis on sex as a route to the noumenon and the successive waves of musical orgasm with which the work climaxes (sic), and is certainly an overtone in 'befriedigen'. If it were possible to use 'satisfy/satisfaction' in English instead of 'resolve/resolution' it would certainly not be wrong, though perhaps too narrow.



'alles Begehren, Streben, Wünschen, Verlangen, Sehnen, Hoffen, Lieben, Freuen, Jubeln und deren Gegenstücke als Äußerungen des Wollens’ („Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung III, S.529f). '

[Der Mensch]...'ist Objektivation des Willens, d.h. zum Objekt gewordener Wille.
An dieser Stelle erklärt Schopenhauer, dass den verschiedenen Entwicklungsstufen der Erscheinung verschiedene Objektivationsstufen des Willens entsprechen...'

http://www.salvia-community.net/Ueber_die_Welt_Als_Wille_Und...

'music is distinguished from the other arts by the fact that it is not a copy [kpm: Abbild] of the phenomenon, or, more accurately, the adequate objectification of the will, but is the direct copy of the will itself'

http://users.belgacom.net/wagnerlibrary/articles/ney48218.ht...

'Der Wille wird objektiv, greifbar, in der Allgemeingültigkeit der Begriffe, zumal in dem, was Schopenhauer als Platonische Idee anspricht...Die als “Verdeutlichung der Sichtbarkeit des Willens” definierte Kunst hat in der Reinheit der Platonischen Idee ihren adäquaten Gegenstand. Die Ordnung der Künste ergibt sich aus dem Rang der jeweils repräsentierten Idee...In dieser Systematik wird die Stufenhierarchie der Willensobjektivation sichtbar...Aufgrund ihrer besonderen metaphysischen Wesenskennzeichnung wird die Musik außerhalb der Reihe dieser Künste angesiedelt.'

http://www.harmonik.de/harmonik/vtr_pdf/Beitraege9401Schulze...

Kieran McCann
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:22
Works in field
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in category: 4
Grading comment
Vielen Dank sowohl für die detaillierten Hintergrundinformationen als auch für die Übersetzungsvorschläge.
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)



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