What can Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle teach us about power in today’s world?
Saturday 2 July 2016, London
In this keynote address, philosopher Slavoj Žižek delves into the climactic moment of Wagner’s tale and considers the price of acquiring forbidden knowledge.
The Ring Cycle ends with a woman, Brünnhilde, gaining great knowledge. It comes through a betrayal at the hands of a man, Siegfried, and sets in motion the destruction of the gods themselves.
But what precisely is it that Brünnhilde discovers? And what is the cost of her discovery? As Brünnhilde herself says: ‘The purest had to betray me, so that a woman could become knowing.’
Is the power of the gods based on a betrayal? And what can the story of this ‘all-knowing’ woman pitted against the powerful of Valhalla tell us about our own times?
Žižek explores the secrets of power through the lens of Wagner’s masterpiece.