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Bruennhilde: Wotan's/Siegfried's unconscious? Part A-14

PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2016 10:43 am
by alberich00
Loge, to whom the seminal motif in this genealogy #35 belongs, in my allegorical interpretation is mankind’s (Wotan’s) gift for artistic self-deception, who redeems mankind from the bitter truth (helps Wotan take Alberich, the human mind, prisoner, to dispossess him of the Ring of power, the power of conscious thought) in order that mankind can substitute a consoling illusion for the truth (and refuge from the truth), like Valhalla (religious faith), or the love Siegfried and Bruennhilde share (Wagner’s metaphor for unconscious artistic inspiration). Since in the course of the whole "Ring" we learn that the Tarnhelm can make a source of power invisible, or transform one thing into another, or transport a person in space and time in an instant, we have here an apt symbol for the human imagination, that very imagination which gave birth to the self-deceptions of religious faith and art. And Wagner’s personal contribution to the reach of the human imagination is his Wagnerian Wonder, the power of musical motifs of remembrance and foreboding to be a sort of invisible, subliminal influence, to transfigure things, to alter identities, and to compress things separated widely in time and space into a single moment and place, in the here and now, to make all things present (just as thanks to Bruennhilde, Wotan’s will, Siegfried can live permanently in the present, with no regrets or guilt from past history, and no fears of the future). Hagen, in other words, is going to employ Alberich’s Tarnhelm, and its derivative, the potion of forgetfulness, love, and remembrance, Wagner’s musical, motival symbolism, to expose the religious mysteries which are hidden in the Ring, and particularly kept secret by Siegfried’s muse Bruennhilde, to the light of day.

Accordingly, Hagen offers us below a poetic description of Wagner’s motival Wonder:


Gunther: (#153:) How could we find where he is? (#51)

(#151:; #103; #151: An off-stage horn is heard from the back on the right. Hagen listens. He turns to Gunther.)

Hagen: (#103 >> :) When he rides out gaily in search of adventure, the world becomes a narrow pinewood. In restless chase he’ll surely ride to Gibich’s shores along the Rhine.

Hagen means much more than he seems to say when he tells Gunther that they can easily find Siegfried because, when he rides out in search of adventure (read, when he creates a redemptive work of art, inspired by his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration Bruennhilde), the world becomes a narrow pinewood. In other words, Wagner’s musical motifs of remembrance and foreboding, which are associated with an array of things widely disbursed throughout the drama, can compress the entire drama, the world itself, into what Wagner called the singlest space and time, the here and now, making all that is distant in time and space present, in a feeling which stands for a whole world of thought (as Bruennhilde told Siegfried that what Wotan thought, she felt, and as Siegfried told Bruennhilde that those faraway things of which Bruennhilde spoke which remained obscure to him he could only see and feel in her). It was precisely in this way that Siegfried’s and Bruennhilde’s love figuratively consigned Erda’s knowledge of all that was, is, and will be, the Norns’ fearful rope of Fate, into oblivion, for, as Wotan told Erda, her wisdom wanes before his “will,” and Bruennhilde is his will.


Hagen: (having returned, now standing behind Siegfried. #151/#46/#41 >>: [#151 on horn’s high notes]) but the tale names you lord of the Nibelung hoard (:#151/#46/#41).

Siegfried: (turning to Hagen: #5 vari: [“Mime’s Servitude Motif”]; #41:) I’d almost forgotten the treasure, so little I treasure its barren worth (:#5 [“Servitude vari”]; :#41). (#48:) I left it lying inside a cave, where a dragon used to guard it (:#48).

Hagen: (#41:) And did you take nothing from it? (#40 vari)

Siegfried: (#41:) this metalwork piece, not knowing its power. (#40 vari)

Hagen: (#41 vari:) I recognize the Tarnhelm, the Nibelungs’ artful [“kuenstliches”] device (:#41 vari): (#42:) when it covers your head, it serves to change you to any shape (:#42); (#43:) if you want to go to the farthest [“fersten”] spot, it transports you there in a trice (:#43). – (#41) You took nothing else from the hoard?

Siegfried: (#17 [compressed into #19 - a lyrical vari]) A ring.

Hagen: You’re keeping it safe? (#150)

Siegfried: (tenderly) A glorious woman is keeping it safe.

Hagen: (aside: #41 vari:) Bruennhild’ (:#41 vari)!

Hagen reviews with Siegfried the three things Siegfried acquired by killing the giant/dragon Fafner, Alberich’s Nibelung Hoard, Alberich’s Tarnhelm, and Alberich’s Ring. Siegfried again confirms he knows nothing of the Tarnhelm’s or the Ring’s power (in spite of having learned their use from the Woodbird, after retrieving them from Alberich’s cave Siegfried forgot their use). Siegfried’s having left Alberich’s Hoard in place in Fafner’ cave has not only a practical value (Wagner could scarcely have represented on the stage Siegfried lugging around the entire hoard by himself), but allows Siegfried to have it both ways. His leaving the Nibelung Hoard unused indicates that Siegfried is the beneficiary of Bruennhilde’s knowing for him what he does not know. So he tells Hagen he left it because he doesn’t value its idle worth. But Siegfried’s having nonetheless taken possession of the two key parts of the Hoard, the Tarnhelm and the Ring, tells us that he is still motivated subliminally by Wotan’s intent that his free hero take possession of Alberich’s Ring (the Tarnhelm is a derivative from the Ring, just as the human imagination is a byproduct of man’s general gift of reflective, symbolic consciousness) in order to keep Alberich from regaining its power and destroying the gods.

When Hagen asks what else besides the Tarnhelm Siegfried took from the Nibelung Hoard, Siegfried nonchalantly mentions a ring, which, he tells Hagen, is being kept safe by a glorious woman. Siegfried presumably is only heard by Hagen, not Gunther, because had Gunther registered Siegfried’s remark he presumably would have caught on that there must be something to Bruennhilde’s subsequent remark that Siegfried stole her ring from her, especially since in T.2 Siegfried suddenly proclaims in public that he didn’t get the ring which he’s now wearing on his finger (the ring which he hadn't been wearing previously when he told Hagen he'd left it with a glorious woman) from Bruennhilde, but won it by killing a dragon. If Gunther had overheard Siegfried’s earlier remark to Hagen that Siegfried had left this ring with a glorious woman for safekeeping, surely Gunther would have put two and two together sooner. But Gunther doesn’t show any surprise when Siegfried shows off his ring in T.2, obviously because he didn’t hear Siegfried say he’d left this ring, or any ring, with a woman.


Siegfried: (quietly, but with extreme determination: #140:) Were all forgotten that you gave me, one lesson alone I’ll never neglect (:#140): - (#134:) this first (#139:) drink to true remembrance [“Minne”: according to Spencer it can mean both love, and remembrance] (:#134; :#139), Bruennhild’, I drink to you!

(He raises the horn to his lips and takes a long draught. #154. He returns the horn to Gutrune who, ashamed and confused, stares at the ground. Siegfried fixes his gaze on her with suddenly inflamed passion. #156)

I suspect that many veteran admirers of Wagner’s art have never really taken account of the fact that Hagen’s Potion Motif #154 not only accompanies Siegfried as he accepts and from Gutrune and drinks from a cup filled with Hagen’s potion, forgets Bruennhilde, and falls in love with Gutrune, but it also accompanies Siegfried when Hagen in T.3.2 offers Siegfried the antidote to Hagen’s original potion of love and forgetting, a potion of remembrance. The point I am making is that both potions must be considered together as serving one, single function, which is that Siegfried will unwittingly abduct his true love and muse of unconscious artistic inspiration, Bruennhilde, to give her in forced marriage to another man (Gunther), and incidentally force Alberich’s Ring off her finger and thus lose Bruennhilde’s protection from Alberich’s curse on his Ring, and that Siegfried will translate the Woodbird’s song (music) in T.3.2 into words which will disclose the formerly secret relationship of Bruennhilde to Siegfried, thus exposing Siegfried to Hagen’s vengeance, and revealing to the world what Bruennhilde had concealed even from Siegfried, Wotan’s unspoken secret, which he confessed to Bruennhilde in V.2.2. In my allegorical reading, the artist-hero, the music-dramatist, Siegfried, unwittingly reveals what it had formerly been the purpose of inspired art to conceal, its true source of inspiration, to his audience (Gunther and the Gibichungs), by making them fellow knowers of his profoundest artistic secret through musical motifs, which are symbolized by the Woodbird’s song (#128 and #129), whose hidden meaning only Siegfried can interpret.

We must recall here that Motif #134, heard here just before Siegfried quaffs the figurative potion which will make him unwittingly betray his muse and her secrets to the light of day, was Wagner’s symbol first for Wotan’s (religion’s) passing the torch of man’s longing for transcendent value to the mortal, secular artist-hero Siegfried in S.3.1, and was the symbol in S.3.3. for Bruennhilde’s unconscious inspiration of Siegfried’s redemptive art. Siegfried had already expressed for us a premonition of this unwitting betrayal when he told Bruennhilde in T.P that her teaching (of Wotan’s hoard of runes) had left him untaught (thanks to her knowing this for him, he can remain safely unconscious of it), and that she had given him more than he knows how to cherish, or guard, the gods' runes (Wotan's runes) which leave him untaught. It is for this reason that Siegfried’s betrayal of Bruennhilde is unwitting and involuntary.

We must regard Gutrune as a substitute for Bruennhilde, an invalid muse in comparison with Siegfried’s true muse Bruennhilde, perhaps a muse of conscious artistic inspiration, as opposed to an authentic muse of unconscious artistic inspiration like Bruennhilde. Hagen’s influence on Siegfried (particularly his two potions) symbolizes the fact that Siegfried was predestined to become too conscious of who he is, and that Siegfried would unwittingly reveal his secret identity (as Wotan reborn) in Siegfried’s greatest work of art, the final adventure his muse Bruennhilde inspires him to undertake. Siegfried’s sung narrative of his heroic life and how he came to understand the meaning of the Woodbird’s song, prompted by Hagen’s request in T.3.2, is actually Wagner’s metaphor for Wagner’s own production of his "Ring" for an audience, his play-within-the-play, as in Hamlet, in which Siegfried unwittingly and involuntarily reveals his true identity, and dies as a result.


Siegfried: (without turning round) Gunther, have you a wife? (#155 vari)

Gunther: (#155 vari >>>:) I’ve not yet wooed nor shall lightly have joy of a woman (:#155 vari)! On one have I set my mind (#161 end frag) whom no (#151:) shift can ever win me (:#151).

Siegfried: (turning animatedly to Gunther: #152 vari:) What would be denied to you were I to stand beside you? (#141)

Gunther: (#35 - #100 accompaniment:) High on a fell her home –

Siegfried: (breaking in with astonished haste) ‘High on a fell her home?’

Gunther: A fire burns round the hall. –

Siegfried: ‘A fire burns round the hall?’ (#128b)

Gunther: (#128b >> :) Only he who breaks through the fire –

Siegfried: (with an immense effort to recall some forgotten memory) ‘Only he who breaks through the fire?’

Gunther: (#128b: [dies out]) – may sue for Bruennhilde’s love (:#128b).

(#154: Siegfried’s gesture at the mention of Bruennhilde’s name shows that all memory of her has faded completely).

This passage dramatizes Siegfried’s vague but diminishing recollection of his sojourn in his unconscious mind during his former unconscious artistic inspiration (symbolized by his loving union with Bruennhilde), like a dream we know we had but can’t recall. For Siegfried to win the most glorious woman in the world for Siegfried the music-dramatist’s audience, Gunther and the Gibichungs, is Wagner’s metaphor for how he imagined his mature music-dramas could offer mankind a sort of redemption in heaven, the same feeling of paradise regained, which religious faith (Valhalla) once had.


Siegfried: (#33b/#77:) I’ll bring back Bruennhilde for you (:#156a).

Gunther: How do you plan to deceive her? (#33)

Siegfried: (#33:) through the Tarnhelm’s disguise I’ll change my shape with yours (:#33 “Norns vari”).

The allegorical symbolism here is quite striking and surprising. Using the Tarnhelm to transform himself into the likeness of Gunther, Siegfried’s audience for his art, in order to win Bruennhilde for Gunther as his wife (when in fact only the authentic artist-hero made fearless by Bruennhilde’s unconscious artistic inspiration ought to be able to access her and her dangerous secret, for only he can sublimate that terror into a redemptive work of art in which that terror can be forgotten), Siegfried is effectively erasing the distinction between himself and his audience. Siegfried will do this by revealing to his audience, Gunther and the Gibichungs, the unspoken secret which Bruennhilde had previously concealed even from Siegfried, and from all the world, a secret represented now by Alberich’s Ring, and by Wotan’s hoard of runes which Bruennhilde imparted subliminally to Siegfried. Wagner once said that through his musical motifs of remembrance and foreboding he made his audience fellow knowers of the artist’s profoundest secret, and he elsewhere stated that for the authentic artist his art may remain as much a mystery as for his audience. Wagner is dramatizing all this in the plot of "Twilight of the Gods," and in Siegfried’s taking on his audience Gunther’s form, in order that Siegfried the artist-hero can share what formerly was his own secret, kept by Bruennhilde, with his audience.


Gunther: Swear oaths, then, as a vow! ( [[ #157: ]] To blood-brotherhood (:#157) (#51) let an oath be sworn.

(#33 vari: [Norns’ vari]; #21; #33 vari [Norns’ vari]; #57; #152; #151; #21: Hagen fills a drinking-horn with new wine and offers it to Siegfried and Gunther, who scratch their arms with their swords and hold them for a moment over the top of the horn. Both men place two fingers on the horn, which Hagen continues to hold between them)

Both: [[ #160: ]] Faith I drink to my friend (:#160): (#156b vari) (#111: [previously Dunning called this #127?]) Happy [“froh”] and free [“frei”] (#157:) may blood-brotherhood (:#157) spring from our bond today (:#111 or #127?)! (#21/#151)


Gunther: (Drinking and then offering the horn to Siegfried. #51; #21) thus do I swear the oath!

Siegfried: Thus (he drinks and hands the empty drinking-horn to Hagen.) do I pledge my faith to you!

(Hagen strikes the horn in two with his sword. #21; #151: Gunther and Siegfried join hands.)

Siegfried and Gunther swear an oath of blood-brotherhood, which is accompanied both by Alberich’s Ring Curse Motif #51, and, significantly, by Wotan’s Spear Motif #21, which represents godhead’s authority and divine law, and of course, more generally, the model or archetype for all oaths. Siegfried the artist-hero is thus reviving Wotan’s original social contract represented by the Spear, in swearing an oath with Gunther. Another link of Siegfried with the gods is that, accompanied either by the so-called “Siegfried’s Mission Motif” #111, or its variant form Motif #127 (which accompanied Wotan as he told Alberich in S.2.1 that Siegfried must stand or fall on his own), Siegfried and Gunther sing “Happy (“froh”) and free (“frei”) (#157) may bloodbrotherhood spring from our oath today,” an obvious verbal reminiscence of the sibling gods Froh and Freia. This is curious because Siegfried figuratively broke Wotan’s spear, Wotan’s contract with the giants, by killing Fafner and taking Fafner’s Ring and Tarnhelm, and literally cut Wotan’s spear into two pieces with Nothung in S.3.2. But Siegfried’s inheritance here of Wotan’s Spear Motif #21 simply dramatizes the continuity from Wotan to Siegfried, a continuity which Wotan assumed was severed, and of which Siegfried remains unconscious.



Siegfried: Why did you take no part in the oath?

Hagen: (#159:) My blood would mar your drink (:#159)! (#31/#41:) It doesn’t flow truly and nobly like yours (:#31/#41); (#41) (#19:) stubborn and cold (#161 end frag:) it curdles within me (:#19; :#161 end frag;), (#41) (#37:) refusing to redden my cheek (:#37). So I keep well away from your fiery bond. (#151)

As further proof of Siegfried’s continuity with Wotan, as Hagen explains to Siegfried why he didn’t take part in Gunther’s and Siegfried’s oath of bloodbrotherhood, we hear Froh’s Motif #31 (a variant of the Motif of Freia’s Golden Apples of Sorrowless Youth Eternal, #29) as Hagen tells Siegfried that his blood doesn’t flow truly and nobly like their blood.