A case of man torn apart by dualism? Matter and mind, physical fulfilment and intellectual aspiration, earthly lust and heavenly transfiguration – for millennia, philosophers and religions have claimed the existence of conflicting principles.
Tannhäuser, a metaphor for an artist or simply a man on a search, refuses to accept this separation and wanders between these antagonistic worlds. His goal is not to reconcile the contradiction, but rather to negate it with his determination to inhabit all worlds. He searches for answers to his yearning for fulfilment in spiritual mysticism, in love based on Christian teaching or in unadulterated sex. Yet, there is always something missing and his hunger is never stilled. For this reason, Tannhäuser never seems to settle. There is always something driving him further on. His sense of revulsion at himself becomes even greater than his rejection of mediocrity, of all those content to compromise (just as the Wartburg minstrels, with their anaemic art, do), rather than exploiting life's full potential. Tannhäuser is motion with no destination in sight. In the same way, Richard Wagner never seemed able to complete this work, no matter how often it was reworked.