Review of Scarrabocchio continued...
This comment creates a reprise effect since the same theme occurs in the opening, during the Meister's travels upon the stormy sea.
I shut my eyes tight and was once again an Unborn, rocked in swirling waters, dreaming the pure nameless passions of infancy. When the sky cleared and the dripping sails were unfurled like the white wings of waterbirds shaking off sleep and I staggered on deck to see the sky blue once again in all its cloudless innocence I was almost sorry to be alive, my head stuffed with thousands and millions of names, names for all things as well as their Latin equivalents.
Thus, the nickname, Lorenzaccio, alludes to a domain of philosophical views expressed by the three characters. Moreover, it reveals the structural and functional role of Danzig as a nexus of the group.
Danzig's "Christian" names are contrapuntal to his nickname; likewise the "art-as-violence-surrogate theory" is contrapuntal to "the art-as-transcendental-experience theory". Related to a famous Wagnerian tenor, Lauritz Melchior, Danzig's Christian name, Lauritz, outlines the Wagnerian theme that in the novel appears in connection with two basic concepts, one of which is related to the concept of redemption. The talk about redemption is the subject of Beale's last conversation with the Meister.
"Wagner believed in redemption. Have you ever noticed that nobody really believes in the necessity of his own death, but everybody believes in redemption? There's that whole ideal romantic redemption-through-love thing. …"
Unlike Musset's idea of no return, the Wagnerian concept of redemption is a hope of the return to the "age of innocence", a chance to cleanse the sinful experience and restore the former virtue of man and mankind. Thus, marked as the character's names, the two concepts appear like contrapuncti in the polyphonic score of the novel.
In addition to his conceptual function, the famous tenor is "reincarnated" in Danzig's singing ability. Like his world-famous prototype, Danzig also has a nice tenor. Perhaps, it is not as rich as that of Lauritz, but still…
Signora Lily proposed a little music. The ever-resourceful Danzig fetched his guitar from the carriage and started us off with 'Deh, vieni alla finestra'. He has a light, flexible tenor voice, more in the Italian style than in the Austrian.
Danzig's other Christian name, Lorenzo, brings to mind at least three other famous Lorenzos. One is related to Lorenzaccio "before the fall", another is associated with a well-know librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte. His libretto of Iphigenie in Tauride, which he wrote for Gluck, forms a bridge between Danzig and the Meister, as well as between the European and American cultures, since Lorenzo Da Ponte was the first to introduce the Italian opera to the American stage. Perhaps, the reference to Trieste in Danzig's biography could be a hint in the direction of Lorenzo's marriage in that city. In the novel, the connection to Gluck's Iphigenie comes to the surface in the scene in which everyone gathers at the Temple.
The temple is marvelous - very grand, and would make a perfect setting for Gluck's Iphigénie.
More discussion on Iphigenie's symbolism is provided in Part II of this article.
The third Lorenzo would be Lorenzo de' Medici, known as "Lorenzo the Magnificent" for his great contribution to the early Italian Renaissance. He was a patron of poets and artists and also a despotic ruler. In the context of redemption, Lorenzo the Magnificent seems to be a redeemer of arts. References to the Renaissance in Scarabocchio are closely associated with Gould's negative position on the post-renaissance tradition that, according to him, "has brought the Western world to the brink of destruction." The theme of destruction rises in connection to Strauss's Metamosphosen, that is naturally connected with the theme of war.
'So art is dangerous - that's hardly a startling or an original observation. You put the blame on us, but it's life itself that's dangerous, my friend, life itself.' He shuddered and hid his face in his heavily gloved hands. 'All right, all right,' he moaned. 'What about your Metamorphosen? How many people died in the bombing of Munich? A thousand, ten thousand? Some obscene number. But if it hadn't been for that supreme dramatic stage-set, the bombed-out ruin of his home town, Strauss would never have written your Metamorphosen. Was it worth it then?
Danzig's current name echoes the theme of war since it's associated with Günter Grass's Danzig Trilogy whose main theme could be defined as "art versus war". Oskar Matzerath, the main character of the first novel, The Tin Drum, is born with a shrieking voice that shatters glass. Observing the senseless war, Oskar refuses to grow up and so he remains a three-year-old boy throughout the Second World War. One day, he walks along the field and sees a severed ring finger that belongs to his beloved, Sister Dorothea. Her death shocks him. Falsely convicted in the murder, Oskar is confined to an insane asylum.
The theme of the severed finger instantly links Oscar's story to Beale's "necrosis", and this is not the only thematic connection between the two characters. As a virtuoso jazz drummer, Oskar is also associated with the musical domain. This makes it possible to outline the common "tune" between Danzig as Oskar's partial "prototype" and Beale. Finding the points of contact becomes an important task since, in the end, the two characters conflate: Danzig's boyish look - an allusion on Oskar's age - is "transferred" to Beale, and the likeness between them strikes the Meister during his last visit to Beale.
His is not so much the air of a man who has never had a woman, as of a boy who has not yet even wanted one. A certain mischief goes out of us once we take up with women. But then, if he is not her lover, what is he? … Then he turned to me and smiled, a tender, boyish smile that reminded me for a moment of Danzig.
WHO DOES HE LOOK LIKE?
Danzig's appearance adds even more obscurity to his character: one can't tell for sure whose features this character has adapted. He is very attractive, he seems to be a real dandy in "his shirt open at the throat", and he looks quite "poetical in his dishevelment" when his dark hair is ruffled "by the stiff sea wind". His features are half-Italian half-Austrian. As the Meister assumes, "he must have Italian blood somewhere in his background, for the flare of the nostrils and the full, small mouth are remarkably like those of Caravaggio's shepherds; the eyes, however, are pure Austrian, of frank, alpine blue." The "alpine blue" of Danzig's eyes swiftly colors "a beautiful blue Alpine day" - the day of the murder - and the blue overflows, dissolving in the subtext of Alpine valleys, the place of the "most ostracized" individuals, saddening a Mennonite sect in Switzerland - Glenn Gould's dream of separation with altitude, the assault of the idea of North.
Gould's symbolic features showing through Danzig's portrait don't rule out other possible prototypes. One of Danzig's visual images comes to the surface in connection with his surname, Lorenzaccio, i.e. the portrait of Lorenzaccio by a famous Moravian painter, Alphonse Maria Mucha. The young man in the portrait matches perfectly well the description of Danzig. The link to Alphonse Mucha opens further possibilities to interpret Danzig's quantum character as related to Carolina Lily. I mean the story of her mysterious lover, Alphonse, to whom she writes about the Prince, signing her letter, "Continue to love me, Alphonse, even as I love you". Another painting by Alphonse, Lily, sheds light on the nature of her secret love affair. This however, doesn't make the identification of Danzig easier. Is he the Lily's brother or…? There is one more Lorenzaccio in the novel. He appears in the end as a Bolognese mannerist artist who made portrait of a certain Cardinal Marianus Johannes Nepomuk van Helsing. The Meister claims that the portrait reminds him very much of him himself.
I have been examining a portrait of one of my ancestors, Cardinal Marianus Johannes Nepomuk van Helsing, done by the Bolognese artist, Lorenzaccio. I believe that I bear a remarkable likeness to this portrait.
The name of the Cardinal seems to be a mixture of various historical and fictional personae: a monk and a scribe (presumably, it's Marianus Scotus who lived in 10th century and was also known as a scribe), Hitler's great-grandfather, and a vampire hunter. The Meister's statement that he is related to the Cardinal is explained by the fact that at the time he writes this he feels more like a scribe than a writer ("I am incapable of writing a single poem."). His monstrous act of killing and the images of the massacre of young girls create an atmosphere of horror and, thus, symbolically connect him to the other two names.
The artist's name is presumably derived from Lorenzo Pasinelli's, whose works have an air of Mannerism. The name, however, seems to be important in connection to a certain Alfonso, who is closely, though unclearly, related to the Cardinal ("Friend, nay, Brother, nay, Beloved Son"). For the second time, the names of Lorenzaccio and Alfonso/Alphonse are put together as if emphasizing their odd timeless closeness. Perhaps, in the many-world reality, Lorenzaccio the artist is the Lily's other lover by the nickname Alphonse…
WHO IS THE AUTHOR OF THE MEISTER'S PORTRAIT?
Danzig's other "prototypes" come to the surface in connection with his drawings.
"I am no Diogenes, as you can tell by the fine cut of my knee breeches, the violet silk of my coat," the Meister says, and this remark refers one to Tischbein's paintings, one of which is Diogenes of Sinope and another is Goethe in the Roman Campagna - the most famous portrait of Goethe, made when Tischbein accompanied him to Naples.