Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tannhäuser and Senator Larry Craig

Stets soll nur dir mein Lied ertönen

One only needs to look at the tale of Larry Craig to be reminded of how very current are the themes examined in Tannhäuser.

Venusberg at MSP

The men's room at MSP might as well stand-in for Senator Craig's Venusberg, while the Wartburg great hall of song, of course, takes place on the floor U.S. Congress. This is not so farfetched, after all Craig was an original member of the Singing Senators, along with John Ashcroft and Trent Lott.

First he is guilty, and then he is not. He is going to resign and then he doesn't want to. He sings of virtue on the great halls of congress, but on the way back to Idaho, he is constantly tempted to stop by his own private Venusberg.

The only thing missing in Craig's tale is a self-sacrificing Elisabeth (his current wife doesn't count -- by now, she is part of the problem), which is why he painted himself into a corner with no way out.

"Man goes constantly in fear of himself. His erotic urges terrify him", wrote Georges Bataille, an early 20th Century French priest and sociologist, who renounced his faith so that he could partake more freely of the offerings at Parisian whorehouses, without feeling like a hypocrite. Perhaps Larry should be reading more Bataille now, as the senator's salvation is more likely to come from Bataille than the Bible.

© 2007 C. Chang

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