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An Introduction

The Ridiculous Excess
of Mercy


Brunhilde's Act

The Portrait of a
Russian Gay Gentleman

The Young Woman
and a River

C Major or E Flat
Minor? No, Thanks!




Slavoj Zizek


[...]It was often noted that the closing scene of Salome is modelled on Isolde’s Liebestod; however, what makes it a perverted version of the Wagnerian Liebestod is that what Salome demands, in an unconditional act of caprice, is to kiss the lips of John the Baptist (“I want to kiss your lips!”)—not the contact with a person, but with the partial object. If Salome is a counterpart to Tristan, then Turandot is the counterpart to Meistersinger—let us not forget that they are both operas about the public contest with the woman as the prize won by the hero.

Salome twice insists to the end in her demand: first, she insists that the soldiers bring to her Jokanaan; then, after the dance of seven veils, she insists that the king Herod bring her on a silver platter the head of Jokanaan—when the king, believing that Jokanaan effectively is a sacred man and that it is therefore better not to touch him, offers Salome in exchange for her dance anything she wants, up to half of his kingdom and the most sacred objects in his custody, just not the head (and thus the death) of Jokanaan, she ignores this explosive outburst of higher and higher bidding and simply repeats her inexorable demand “Bring me the head of Jokanaan.” Is there not something properly Antigonean in this request of her? Like Antigone, she insists without regard to consequences. Is therefore Salome not in a way, no less than Antigone, the embodiment of a certain ethical stance? No wonder she is so attracted to Jokanaan—it is the matter of one saint recognizing another. [...]


art: Nancy Barton, poster from the series Swan Song, 1985

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