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Review "The Wagner Experience" "Twilight" Part 11 continued

PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:43 pm
by alberich00
P. 332: PH: DB, recounting how Hagen calls all the Gibichungs together for the double wedding of Gunther with Bruennhilde, and of Siegfried with Gutrune, paraphrases Wagner's text: " 'Men of the Gibichungs! On guard! Weapons! Danger! Danger [PH: "Noth"] is here! Arm yourselves for the crisis!' (...) He tells them amidst exuberant interruptions and repeated enquiries, that they must make ready for the wedding, sacrificing oxen on Wotan's altar, a boar for Froh, a goat for Donner, and several sheep for Fricka."

PH: DB fails to mention that the "Twilight of the Gods" Motif is heard while Hagen is telling the Gibichungs that danger ("Noth") is here. The danger is that, since Siegfried (under Hagen's influence) has betrayed his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration into the hands of fully conscious modern scientific analysis, by both giving her away to his audience, represented by Gunther, and by (as we shall see in T.3.2) narrating the story of his life in which he exposes Wotan's secret hoard of knowledge to view, by exposing the hidden programme of music (the Woodbirdsong) to view, and thereby displaying for all to see the secret of his true relationship with Bruennhilde, and since Siegfried's unconsciously inspired secular art was the last refuge of religious faith when it could no longer be sustained as an idea in the face of the advancement of knowledge, it is inevitable that the twilight of the gods will follow from Siegfried's betrayal of Bruennhilde.
This of course makes Hagen's invocation of the old religion, the religion he is about to discredit, all the more tragically ironic.

P. 334: DB: "Bruennhilde now catches sight of the Ring on his [Siegfried's] outstretched finger. 'Ach, the Ring! ... there on his finger! He ... Siegfried?' This is a moment which Hagen has been waiting for, and he tells the vassals to mark carefully what the lady accuses. (...) [PH: DB recounts how Bruennhilde is initially confused because she believed Gunther stole it from her, but that it finally dawns on her that Siegfried was the culprit who forced her off the rock and into Gunther's hands, and forced the Ring off her finger] 'Hah! Siegfried stole it! He was the one who seized the Ring from me. It was Siegfried, and he is the treacherous thief.' Siegfried now indicates some crossed wires in his own head, 'the Ring did not come to me from the hand of any woman. I won it myself at Neidhoehle when I slew the dragon.' This is the next cue for Hagen; 'Bruennhilde, honored lady, can you truly identify the Ring? If it is the one you gave to Gunther, then it is his and Siegfried has acquired it through treachery. He must pay the penalty as a traitor.' "

PH: This is a moment which causes a lot of confusion for which many blame Wagner's allegedly clumsy dramaturgy. But it makes total sense within my allegorical reading. Note that in spite of Siegfried (in his transformation into Gunther) forcibly having taken the Ring off of Bruennhilde's finger, now (unless he is consciously lying, which doesn't seem to sit well with his character) seems to have forgotten that he did, because he looks at it as if almost surprised by its presence on his finger and remembers only that he won it from Fafner after killing him. Of course, if Siegfried had identified it as the Ring he won from Fafner when he saw it on Bruennhilde's finger and took it from her, this would have defeated Hagen's potion of forgetfulness, because Siegfried would have had to ask himself how Bruennhilde came to possess it. It presumably was in the nature of Hagen's potion that Siegfried couldn't possibly become conscious that he was betraying his original true love Bruennhilde until it was too late, i.e., until Siegfried had given his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration Bruennhilde away to another man, Gunther, namely, the artist-hero Siegfried's audience. 't will help to recall one of the conclusions which follow from the logic of my interpretation, which is that Hagen's two potions, the first a potion which compels Siegfried to forget Bruennhilde and fall in love with the first woman he sees (namely, Gutrune), the second a potion he will have Siegfried drink in T.3.2, which is the antidote to the first potion and makes Siegfried remember what the first potion made him forget, including his true relationship with Bruennhilde, serve one single purpose, to make Siegfried fulfill Alberich's prophecy that his hoard of treasure (knowledge) will rise from the silent depths of night (in this case Siegfried's unconscious mind Bruennhilde, instead of Nibelheim) to overthrow the gods. Recall also that at this point in the music-drama the Ring itself stands for both Alberich's hoard of treasure (objective knowledge of the earth, which grants us power) and Wotan's hoard of knowledge which he like Alberich gathered through experience of the earth, Erda, Mother Nature. The point is that just as Siegfried was taught by the Woodbird the use he could make of Alberich's Hoard, Tarnhelm, and Ring, and almost immediately forgot it, and just as Bruennhilde imparted to Siegfried what the gods (Wotan) taught her, a hoard of divine knowledge, and Siegfried told Bruennhilde that her teaching has left him untaught, so, because Siegfried is unconscious of his true nature, origin, and identity, and is unconscious of the role he is unwittingly playing in betraying his own unconscious secrets to the light of day, so he now doesn't recall his sojourn with Bruennhilde, yet is predestined to remember it in the fullness of time, because Alberich's curse on his Ring is the curse of consciousness, which holds that those religio-artistic folks who depended on religious faith and inspired secular art to satisfy their longing for transcendent value, will one day, inevitably, advance in knowledge (collect a hoard of knowledge) to the point that they themselves overthrow the illusions which have sustained them. Thus, their quest for the power which only Ring knowledge can offer will one day bring about the twilight of the very gods to whom they have looked for life's meaning.

PH: Keep in mind that in transforming himself into Gunther to fool Bruennhilde Siegfried the artist-hero was doing something which Wagner said the music-dramatist could do, that through his musical motifs he grants his audience not only his own clairvoyance as an artist, but an entré into his own unconscious mind (Bruennhilde), an entre into things which may have remained a secret even for the artist-hero himself, as Wagner himself suggested when he said that for the authentic artist his art may remain a mystery even for him.
Hagen, as representative of the modern scientific spirit of freedom of inquiry (which Wagner believes is ultimately an agent of world-power, power over both the world and man himself), is asking Siegfried's audience to look very closely at what is being exposed to view in Bruennhilde's accusation of Siegfried's betrayal. It is natural that Bruennhilde feels betrayed not only as a conventional lover who expected fidelity from her lover, but also as Siegfried's unconscious mind, for Bruennhilde was the repository for Wotan's secret hoard of knowledge which he learned from Erda and imparted to Bruennhilde, and Siegfried, in giving her away to his audience, and eventually in exposing the true nature of his relations with her to the light of day in his T.3.2 narration of how he learned to understand the meaning of birdsong, is betraying Bruennhilde's very function as his unconscious mind and his redeemer from consciousness of the wound that will never heal.

P. 335: DB: " ... she [Bruennhilde] looks up to the heavens and calls on the gods, and principally Wotan, 'Is this what you decreed for me? Are you bent on teaching me to know a shame and suffering such as no one ever has ... known before? Then you must teach me rage and vengeance such as were never known before. You gods may break my heart, provided I can destroy my betrayer!' "

PH: This pattern, of the heroine-muse, after her betrayal by the artist-hero, collaborating with the villain(s) to destroy him, is no accident, and is found to one degree or another in "Tannhaeuser," "Lohengrin," "Tristan and Isolde," and "Parsifal" also. Venus was Tannhaeuser's muse and lover, but her perception that he has betrayed her in leaving her makes her curse him to undergo the very anguish he does when, at the Wartburg Castle song contest, he unwittingly and involuntarily (as if under a spell) exposes the fact of his former sojourn with her to the light of day, bringing down condemnation upon him. It is obvious that Elsa effectively collaborates with Ortrud and Telramund to expose Lohengrin's secret to view. Isolde blames Tristan for betraying her (first by having killed her fiancé Morold), and initially wishes to kill him, but, discovering that in fact she loves him, and having temporarily healed his wound that will never heal through her love in Ireland, blames him for returning under his true name Tristan (he'd told her he was Tantris) to give her away to another man, King Marke. Bruennhilde's situation re Siegfried is precisely the same, and she will collaborate with Siegfried's nemesis Hagen to destroy Siegfried for having betrayed her, and, as we'll see in T.2.5, Bruennhilde will primarily blame Siegfried for having gained possession of her wisdom, and then given her (and her wisdom) away. And in "Parsifal," the muse and penitent Kundry collaborates with Parsifal's nemesis Klingsor to bring Parsifal and the other Grail knights to their knees. The reason for this is that the natural consequence of the hero becoming too conscious of who he is, is that he automatically betrays the secrets of his unconscious mind (his muse-lover) to consciousness, and that constitutes its own punishment.

PH: Bruennhilde can blame Wotan for Siegfried's betrayal of their love because Wotan primally instituted mankind's crime against Mother Nature (Erda and her knowledge of all that was, is, and will be) by inaugurating religious belief in gods who are alleged to transcend Mother Nature's laws. This got the ball rolling which culminated in what Nietzsche would describe as an ultimate form of religious world-denying pessimism, romantic art. Siegfried and Bruennhilde, having fallen heir to Wotan's crime, are predestined to destruction, as he was, by Alberich's curse on his Ring, the curse of human consciousness.

P. 335-336: PH: DB paraphrases Siegfried's defense against Bruennhilde's accusation that he had sexual union with her prior to handing her over to Gunther: DB: "Let everyone now learn how he [Siegfried] remained true to the blood-brotherhood which he had sworn to Gunther. Nothung, his sword, ensured the integrity of his oath. Its shining steel had divided him from this unhappy woman [Bruennhilde]. This must have confused the vassals yet further, because they know nothing of the Tarnhelm and the deception on Bruennhilde's rock [Siegfried's having transformed himself into Gunther to fool Bruennhilde into believing it was Gunther who won her, and not Siegfried], and Bruennhilde must confuse them further when she counters, 'You slippery hero, see how you lie, calling on the sword as your witness. I know all about its sharpness; I also know all about the scabbard where it rested against the wall, while its owner possessed me as his own true love.' "

PH: Bruennhilde's sexual metaphor of sword Nothung (Phallus) and scabbard (Vagina) is often overlooked in discussions of Wagner's "Ring," but it is also pretty self-evident in the finale of V.1.3 when Siegmund pulls it out of Hunding's House-Ash to the astonishment and delight of his sister and bride-to-be Sieglinde, before running off into the wilderness with her to have that incestuous sexual congress through which the ultimate Waelsung hero Siegfried will come to birth. The sword motif, as is well known, is based mostly on the initial Nature arpeggio with which the "Ring" begins in the Prologue to "The Rhinegold," and it can be seen both as the hallmark of the preconscious period of life which predated mankind, the period during which natural impulses and instinct ruled life, prior to the forging of human consciousness in Alberich's Ring. It is equivalent to what Feuerbach described as a creative impulse (this isn't quite the correct term, but I'm having a mental block re the precise language Feuerbach uses) in nature.

P. 336: PH: DB recounts how Siegfried and Bruennhilde swear oaths which contradict each other, on the point of Hagen's spear.

PH: Hagen's spear becomes, in its claim to vengeance for broken oaths, in a sense a proxy for Wotan's spear, which has in effect been resurrected musically (if not literally) when it accompanied Siegfried's and Gunther's swearing of their blood-brotherhood oath. Just as Wotan's own spear paved the way for his son Siegmund's death at the hands of Hunding's spear, so Siegfried's unwitting self-betrayal paves the way for his death via Hagen's spear.

P. 337: DB: "Wrapped in thought, she [Bruennhilde] asks half rhetorically, 'What infernal cunning is lurking here? What use is all my wisdom for resolving these riddles? She breaks out into an impassioned lament, one of the most beautiful phrases in the whole of 'Goetterdaemmerung,' 'Ach, Jammer, Weh ach Weh! Alas! Alas! Oh misery! I have given him all my wisdom, and he holds me now in bondage as though by cords. Who will give me a sword to cut them through?' "

PH: Bruennhilde, somewhat surprisingly for those who might wish to interpret her loving union with Siegfried in the conventional terms of romantic love alone, seems more concerned here with the status and destiny of the wisdom (i.e., Wotan's confession of the hoard of knowledge he obtained from Erda, Mother Nature) Wotan imparted to her, and which she in turn imparted to Siegfried, than with anything else. For Bruennhilde was the guardian and guarantor of the secret of this wisdom, and now, in imparting it to Siegfried during unconscious artistic inspiration, Siegfried is unwittingly making it, and the muse who protected its secret, available to the public, to Siegfried's audience, since Siegfried has given Bruennhilde in marriage to Gunther (the audience for Siegfried's redemptive art), who by rights should never have had conscious access to it. This is precisely what Tristan suffers from in knowing that the secret of his own identity kept in silence for him by Isolde in the womb of night, has now, thanks to his own predestined act of self-betrayal, been exposed to the light of day. Hagen steps forward to offer Bruennhilde the means to sever her relations with Siegfried altogether, just as science steps forward to sever man from his former refuge in religious faith and inspired secular art.

P. 337: DB: "Hagen argues that Siegfried swore perjury on his spear-point and this makes him vulnerable, but Bruennhilde, with a surer sense of Machtpolitik [Power Politics] comments, 'Oaths and perjury, what do they signify? It will take something more than these to fortify your spear for this task.' Hagen says he well knows that Siegfried cannot be beaten in open conflict, which is why he needs her to whisper how he can put an end to Siegfried. This makes Bruennhilde burst out and complain of Siegfried ingratitude because she had held back no spell that could protect him, everywhere and in any way; but when pressed by Hagen, it comes to her that she had not thought to protect his back, because he would never turn away from an enemy. 'And there' says Hagen, 'is where my speak shall strike!' "

PH: Bruennhilde has told Hagen and Gunther that her magic only protected Siegfried at the front, but not from the rear, as in his fearlessness he would never turn his back on the enemy and run. But Bruennhilde had told her father Wotan that in battle she protects Wotan at his rear. Since Wotan is motivated by fear of Alberich's eventual victory and the inevitable twilight of the gods, i.e., the end, while Siegfried is fearless, this is a perfectly symmetrical relationship. But looking deeply, and allegorically, Bruennhilde as Siegfried's unconscious mind protects him from the wound that will never heal, caused by Wotan's foresight of the end. Bruennhilde thus protects Siegfried at the front, from knowledge of the fatal future which so paralyzed Wotan that he couldn't bear to be conscious of it. But now that Siegfried is unwittingly giving up the gift of Bruennhilde's protection by giving his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration away to his audience, represented by Gunther, Siegfried can be stabbed in the back by a rising memory of the truth, memory of his own true identity as Wotan, which he has put figuratively behind him as a memory of the past now forgotten, which Wotan had repressed when he made his original confession to Bruennhilde of the secret of his divine "Noth."

P. 338: DB: "... now Bruennhilde rounds on Gunther ... , 'You coward! You miserable fraud! You held back behind the hero, happy for him to make over to you the prize which his heroism had won. Your high-born lineage has sunk very low if it spawns such cowards as you.' Gunther has to wrestle both with his dishonor in the eyes of the world and an inner sense of moral degradation; 'Yes, I am betrayer and betrayed. Help me, Hagen! Help for the sake of our mother, who after all bore you as well.' Hagen answers that he cannot help, nothing can help, except only - Siegfried's death. (...) Originally, these words were a direct expression of the opera's title."

PH: Note that Siegfried stood in for Gunther in winning the hand of Bruennhilde, as Loge and Siegmund stood in for Wotan, doing (or potentially doing) for him what he could not do himself. Gunther, as Siegfried's audience, can be construed as a sort of real world equivalent to Wotan, for Wotan, construed in his Feuerbachian sense as collective, historical humanity, was the audience for the Loges of the world, i.e., those men/women of colossal imagination who virtually invented our religions in collaboration with the collective dream-state of early humanity, and in later times became the individual artist-heroes in whom what Wagner called the collective mythic creativity of the Folk was reborn. Just as Wotan blamed Loge for doing what Wotan in his unconscious heart of hearts wished for Loge to do, i.e., help the gods (or, those humans who believe in gods) lie to themselves, so Siegmund and Siegfried served latter day humanity in the same way. Thus Gunther acknowledges what Wotan ought to have acknowledged, that he is both betrayer and betrayed, by his own need for consoling illusions. Mankind's great culture heroes stood in for mankind, as self-sacrifices, to confront the bitter truth (unconsciously) so mankind would not have to. Since this consoling illusion has been discredited and the very mechanism through which for thousands of years it had given humankind its sense of meaning and value has been exposed to the light of day, the only way out is for Gunther to choose the only other alternative, objective Ring consciousness of the bitter truth, and live, if possible, within the unpoetic, prosaic, wealth-and-power-obsessed world of Alberich and his Ring. This is how Hagen will save Gunther's honor. At least Gunther won't be lying to himself. And note also that Gunther calls on Hagen to help him out of this impasse for the sake of their mother whom, as I've suggested, can be construed here as Mother Nature as known to objective consciousness.

PH: DB is right to call attention here to the fact that Siegfried's death, which Hagen contemplates as the sole solution for their problems, was the original title Wagner chose for what later became "Twilight of the Gods," the culmination of the "Ring" tetralogy. Since the plots of "Tannhaeuser" and "Tristan" are closely related to that of "Twilight of the Gods," there is something fundamental about this plot to Wagner's life's work, and to his revolutionary music-dramas in particular. I have argued in my writings on all of Wagner's canonic operas and music-dramas from "Dutchman" to "Parsifal" that they are all systematically conceptually linked with the plot of "Twilight of the Gods," which was the foundation stone for the "Ring." In fact, the essential purpose of the "Ring" was to explain why the artist-hero Siegfried had to die. He had to die because the religious sentiment to which he as artist-hero has fallen heir was predicated on self-deceit. To explain this Wagner had to trace the origin of the artist-hero and his nemesis, the objective man of science (Hagen), back to their foundations in the evolutionary origin of the human mind, the subject of "The Rhinegold."

P. 338-339: DB: "... now Bruennhilde weighs in, 'He [Siegfried] has betrayed you, and you have all betrayed me. If there were any justice, then all the bloodshed in the world would not atone for your guilt. But the death of one must atone for all; Siegfried's death shall atone for his crime and yours."

PH: Not only did Wagner once equate the German mythological hero Siegfried with Christ, but here, as on many other occasions in the "Ring," Wagner draws a parallel with Christ the savior in Bruennhilde's remark that all the blood in the world couldn't atone for mankind's guilt towards her, their betrayal of mankind's collective unconscious, but only that of one man, Siegfried, can atone. And of course God the Father Wotan looks to Siegfried as the redeemer, though, in opposition to the Christian myth, in this case Siegfried is to redeem God the Father himself. Parsifal similarly has many parallels with Christ, though it is a point of controversy which Wagner himself fed by denying it. Walther von Stolzing's parallels with Christ are self-evident, with Hans Sachs acting as John the Baptist, and Walther offering his audience a redemptive master song in which paradise seems to have been regained. And of course everyone knows that Wagner wrote a prose draft for a prospective opera (never actually composed) called "Jesus of Nazareth." The point of these parallels is that Wagner does indeed draw a parallel between religion and art, particularly during the period when, as he himself said, religious faith is on the wane and art must take over its symbols, but in a playful, creative sense. The "Ring" on this view can be divided into two halves, the first half ("Rhinegold" and "Valkyrie") concerning God-the-Father Wotan, the Old Testament portion of the "Ring" concerning god's law, and the second half ("Siegfried" and "Twilight") concerning the savior artist-hero Siegfried, the New Testament portion of the "Ring" concerning Siegfried's law of love, or art.

P. 338-339: DB: "Here Wagner gave Bruennhilde an idea that is bizarre, indicating by his dissonant harmonies how far her state of mind is disturbed. In this bloodthirsty outburst he has created a complete contrast to her once generous altruism, which he had led Sieglinde to praise her as 'the highest wonder'. Equally bizarre, at least initially, is Wagner's import of the idea of 'atonement' because atonement (Suehne) in the sense of reconciliation (Versoehnung) is a Christian concept from outside Nordic mythology." [Footnote # 76:] "It is a main tenet of Christianity that Jesus Christ sacrificed himself and atoned for the sins of the whole world, past, present, and future, and one of Wagner's objections to Christianity was over this very tenet. He could not understand or believe in a God who could devise a form of existence where anything so bizarre and cruel could ever be necessary. In practice the foisting onto Siegfried of some Christlike aspects becomes less bizarre in the context of the 1840s-50s essays, tracts like 'Die Wibelungen,' where Wagner drew parallels and connections between Apollo, Siegfried, Jesus Christ and Prometheus. Insofar as these essays present Wagner's quasi-anthropological theories of racial migrations from the East, they are tendentious, but they also present his insights into myth which are profound. Where Wagner has Bruennhilde perverting the whole idea of atonement is that she sacrifices Siegfried with him unknowing instead of him doing it willingly of his own accord. This is not atonement but scapegoating."

PH: My interpretation offers a way out of this difficulty re Siegfried, and also Parsifal. Wagner makes an analogy between his secular artist-heroes and Christ, and finally the Buddha, because in his Feuerbachian allegorical scheme the artist-hero fulfills the role in modern secular society that the religious saint or holy being did during the long period during which religious mythology held unquestioned sway as the explanation of man and his place in the world. Thus Wagner toys with the idea that Parsifal is in some sense a reincarnation of Christ, just as Christ is said to be God on earth, or the son of god, etc. Where Christianity has a first Fall, which gives birth to religious faith, predicated on man's longing to restore lost paradise, in Wagner's worldview we also have a second Fall, in which dying religious faith gives birth to secular art as its heir. Thus Siegfried is the grandson of God-the-Father Wotan, and a product of the second Fall. So we have to make a shift to grasp the allegorical logic of his mature music-dramas. God the Father stands to Christ in the religious world, as both God the Father and Christ stand to the secular artist-hero, who falls heir to religion as feeling when religion as conceptual thought can't be sustained in the face of the rise to consciousness of the scientific spirit (the cause of the second Fall). In fact, Feuerbach anticipated this by describing Eve, who caused the first Fall, as also the mother of reason, of that doubt which frees us from the shackles of religious faith. Just as Siegfried is the heir and descendent of God-the-Father Wotan, so Parsifal is in a sense the reincarnation (figurative if you will) of all the culture-heroes such as great makers of religions (Christianity, Buddhism) and of inspired secular artists who preceded him.

PH: There is another shift. Siegfried the artist-hero must atone for Wotan's (mankind's ) original sin of positing man's transcendent value in the first place. Wotan's (just a figure for collective, historical humanity, who unconsciously and unwittingly invented the gods and then tried to impute certain godlike potentialities to mortal man) original sin was the sin of religious world-denial, through which man imaginatively (thanks to Loge the Liar-God's help, i.e., imagination in service to feeling) posited the existence of a supernatural world in which man could be redeemed from the limits of his mortal life in this world. Siegfried, representative of the final point in this genealogy of perpetuators of man's futile bid to resolve his irresolvable existential dilemma (to heal the wound that will never heal), must atone for all that he himself and his spiritual ancestors, in their foolishness and ignorance, had done to perpetuate the illusion of transcendent value which has sustained mankind for thousands of years. Parsifal is similarly cursed, but Parsifal, upon becoming wholly conscious of who he is and of how, throughout history, he and his spiritual ancestors have perpetuated this myth of man's transcendent value, consciously decides to "Out" the religious mysteries and open the Grail to full view, thus restoring Mother Nature to her original rights, and her innocence.

P. 339: DB: "Hagen meanwhile keeps up the pressure on Gunther, adding that Siegfried's death would add to Gunther's wellbeing and standing. 'Power of a monster (ungeheure) magnitude' would come to Gunther, if he gained the Ring, but only Siegfried's death would make this possible."

PH: In other words, in my interpretation, for the objective man of science to have total access (unfettered by even a memory of man's long prior loyalty to those culture heroes who comforted them with the religio-artistic illusion of transcendent value) to the source of true earthly power, knowledge, and the freedom of inquiry to pursue it without having to worry about the cost to mankind's self image, Siegfried, the final exemplar of the long lineage of religio-artistic heroes, must be discredited and destroyed.

P. 341: DB: "For the sake of 'The Ring's meaning to us it seems as well to address and resist arguments that she [Bruennhilde] set out to perjure herself and mislead her Gibichung listeners. She has supposedly done this by swearing on the spear that Siegfried had sexual intercourse with her at the end of Act I, which was after he had sworn blood-brotherhood, whereas she knew full well that their intercourse had happened on a different, earlier occasion. Accordingly she was deliberately perjuring herself when swearing that Siegfried lied, and [denying?] that Siegfried was entirely innocent. This legalistic line reveals an absence of human understanding. Here is a woman who has just experienced a double catastrophe, her body invaded by a brutal stranger, and the love of her life acting towards her with rude indifference. Worse, he is in raptures over another woman. Her mind is all to pieces, and the real point is not the legal quibble whether or not Siegfried had reneged on his sworn blood-brotherhood technically, but the plain fact that he had promised eternal loyalty and immortal love and has gone off with somebody else. She even has to accept that it was Siegfried, masquerading as Gunther, who desecrated her at the end of Act I. (...) No wonder that she is irrational and cannot think clearly, and there is nothing far-fetched or deliberately mendacious about her behavior."

PH: I mostly agree with DB here, except that in my interpretation her rage against Siegfried for betraying her goes far beyond his conventional notion that it's due to his infidelity and her sexual jealousy of Gutrune. In my interpretation, Bruennhilde represents mankind's collective unconscious in general, and the artist-hero Siegfried's unconscious mind in particular (for he taps into mankind's unconscious, as Wagner suggested in many passages in which he discussed the relationship of the modern inspired artist to the Folk's creative spirit of the past). In my interpretation, by the way, Siegfried's unwitting and involuntary preference for Gutrune over Bruennhilde stems from Wagner's own guilty conscience as an artist, not, as Jean-Jacques Nattiez suggested, because Siegfried betrays the purity of music-drama for the sake of conventional Parisian opera (the harlot), allegedly represented by Gutrune and her lascivious music, but because in the end Wagner came to see any public performance of his art as, by definition, a betrayal of the innermost secrets of his unconscious mind. In other words, it is actually within his greatest music-drama, the "Ring" (which Wagner represents allegorically in Siegfried's sung narrative of how he came to understand the song of the Woodbirds), that Siegfried betrays its contents to consciousness, and thus betrays the muse of unconscious artistic inspiration, represented by Bruennhilde. Gunther represents Siegfried the music-dramatist's audience, and Gutrune in some way the impulse which seduces the artist-hero into wanting to wed himself with his audience in the first place, once, at any rate, that the artist-hero's art is no longer redemptive because he is too conscious to be capable of having unconscious artistic inspiration. Siegfried, and music-drama, are thus self-betrayed, as a natural consequence of art having reached such a degree of sophistication in hiding the truth that the very mask on the truth came to take the form of truth. On this basis Wagner's "Ring of the Nibelung," which I take to be the greatest of all unconsciously inspired works of art, is the most self-conscious work of art, more about itself than any other I know of (with perhaps the exception of "Hamlet").

(EDITED ON 5/9/2015)