Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
:
Login
Tip: To suggest new content…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

Help us improve PEP Web. If you would like to suggest new content, click here and fill in the form with your ideas!

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Bergstein, M. (2013). The Wish for Annihilation in ‘Love-Death’ as Collapse of the Need for Recognition, in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 94(4):747-766.

(2013). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 94(4):747-766

Interdisciplinary Studies

The Wish for Annihilation in ‘Love-Death’ as Collapse of the Need for Recognition, in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde

Moshe Bergstein

(Accepted for publication 27 November 2012)

Wagner's Tristan und Isolde holds a central position in Western music and culture. It is shown to demonstrate consequences of interruption of developmental processes involving the need for recognition of subjectivity, resulting in the collapse of this need into the wish for annihilation of self and other through ‘love-death’ [Liebestod]. A close reading of the musical language of the opera reveals how this interruption is demonstrated, and the consequent location of identity outside of language, particularly suitable for expression in music. Isolde's dynamics are presented as distinct from that of Tristan, and in contrast to other interpretations of Tristan and Isolde's love as an attack on the Oedipal order, or as a regressive wish for pre-Oedipal union. Isolde's Act I narrative locates the origin of her desire in the protagonists' mutual gaze at a traumatic moment. In this moment powerful and contrasting emotions converge, evoking thwarted developmental needs, and arousing the fantasy of redemption in love-death. By removing the magical elements, Wagner enables a deeper understanding of the characters' positions in relation to each other, each with his or her own needs for recognition and traumatic experiences. These positions invite mutual identifications resulting in rising tension between affirmation of identity and annihilation, with actual death as the only possible psychic solution. The dynamics described in the opera demonstrate the function of music and opera in conveying meaning which is not verbally expressible.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

Copyright © 2020, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.