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

General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung

Moderators: Justin Jeffrey, alberich00

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

Postby alberich00 » Sun Apr 26, 2015 12:05 pm

P. 342-343: DB discusses the beautiful prelude to the final Act of the "Ring, Act Three of "Twilight of the Gods," during which Wagner recapitulates, with slight alterations, and in brief, the first notes of the original prelude to the entire "Ring" in "Rhinegold."

PH: This dramatic recapitulation for me has always been one of the most arresting moments in the "Ring." The feeling of having come so far, of time past, of the gradual corruption of the modern world in contrast to the alleged purity of a lost paradise that never was, all this is terribly haunting. It gives me the shakes every time I experience it.

P. 343: DB: "Siegfried appears. The hunt planned by Hagen is well under way, and as Hagen predicted, he has run on ahead of the others. He is complaining humorously that an imp must have led him astray and made him lose track of the creature he was pursuing. He is demanding rhetorically what rocky cleft is concealing his quarry when the Rhinemaidens appear. They address him by name in a sudden, unmodulated shift which is one of the most beautiful things in all Wagner. They ask him facetiously why he is scolding the empty air in front of him, whether some goblin has upset him, or some gnome. He begins to banter; perhaps it was they who enticed away the shaggy creature he was pursuing; perhaps this creature was her sweetheart, in which case they are welcome to him! The Rhinemaidens ask him what he would give if they found his quarry for him, and Siegfried says that he has caught nothing, so let them ask what they will. They answer, 'The golden ring on your finger; give that to us!' "

PH: This passage has always struck me as very mysterious, very suggestive, and very ambiguous. On the assumption that there may be more here than meaningless banter, from the viewpoint of my interpretation, what Siegfried is pursuing without knowing it is his own death, and his own death he will bring about himself by recalling to memory who he is. If Siegfried becomes wholly conscious of who he is, he can no longer be the unconsciously inspired hero who obtains his inspiration through his muse Bruennhilde. But he must recall Bruennhilde to recall to memory his own self. Is the imp who led him astray Alberich (whose proxy, Hagen, influenced Siegfried to betray Bruennhilde)? Is the imp who led him astray Loge, the archetype for all the Waelsung heroes? Is Siegfried's quarry Bruennhilde, or himself?
There is also a very strange musical motif associated with Siegfried's description of this incident which led him down to the Rhine whose provenance (i.e., possible link to any other motif or motifs) I can't describe. I would be very glad to inspire some commentary on this subject by readers; perhaps together we can get to the bottom of it. In any case, by virtue of wearing Alberich's Ring of consciousness on his finger, and no longer having the benefit of Bruennhilde's magic to keep it safe and to keep its curse of consciousness from harming him, Siegfried is now predestined to become conscious of who he really is (i.e., Wotan, and all subsequent religio-artistic heroes, who perpetuated Wotan's original sin against all that was, is, and will be), and to die once he does remember who he is. He will be stabbed in the back by a memory, stabbed from behind by what was past and forgotten, precisely because he has made what was once unconscious conscious, allowing sunlight to peer into the once secret womb of night.

P. 344-345: DB: " 'Why should I [Siegfried] put up with this derisive praise [PH: Siegfried had resisted the Rhinedaughters' attempt to get him to give them his Ring in exchange for his quarry]? If they reappeared, they could have the Ring.' He calls out, 'He! You lovelies in the water! Come back! I will give you the Ring.' He takes it off and holds it aloft, ready to throw it to them. The Rhinemaidens reappear but now they tell him ... [to guard it?] safely until he has learnt of the evil that lurks in it, the curse. He will then be even happier to give it up. (If people reading this wonder why Wagner made the Rhinemaidens do this, they will not be the first.) (...) They tell him quickly of the Ring's origins, of Alberich's curse, manifest in the death of Fafner, and they warn him that it will soon bring death to him unless he gives it away; they alone can purge and purify its gold in the Rhine. Siegfried now demonstrates that heroic freedom from fear is sadly no substitute for judgment. He tells them to say no more; if their attempts to charm him had no effect, then even less is he affected by their threats. The Rhinemaidens now become genuinely concerned for his welfare and try to warn him again; the Norns wove this ending into their rope of fate. Siegfried suddenly displays an astonishing grasp (where did Wagner mean this to come from?) of how his actions impinge on the myth and alter its course. He says his sword shattered the spear, and his sword can cut through the eternal rope of the Norns, but nothing as yet has taught him fear. He would gladly have given them the Ring for love, but their attempt to frighten him is the last thing that would influence him."

PH: In my interpretation I have noted the symmetry of this incident with that in which the Rhinedaughters, through their mockery of Alberich's bid for love (or at least for sexual intimacy), virtually insured that Alberich would have nothing to lose in sacrificing the love he can't obtain anyway, for the power of the Ring, which the Rhinedaughters told him he could obtain if he renounced love. Similarly, they now insure, by appealing to Siegfried's egoism and fear, that his nobility and pride will instinctively recoil from their warning. In both instances Wagner is simply playing a wonderful game with us. He's telling us that in spite of our religious myths telling us that the Fall was a choice, that it was in fact predestined and to that extent not a sin in the normal sense. Not only was mankind evolutionarily predestined to come into being by virtue of selection of species, but according to the "Ring" allegory religio-artistic man is predestined to become so self-conscious, thanks to the advancement of knowledge (extra-somatic evolution), that he will no longer be able to sustain his religio-artistic myths, values, and feelings. But Siegfried is in effect saying he is too proud to continue to enjoy a happiness born of self-deceit, and that if he can't sustain full knowledge of the truth by holding onto the Ring of consciousness in spite of the threat it poses, he'd rather die. And he does die. As I pointed out earlier, the loving union of Siegfried and Bruennhilde, as Wagner's metaphor for the unconscious artistic inspiration of the artist-hero Siegfried, depends upon unconscious possession of the Ring, because the Ring, as the symbol for Wotan's entire hoard of repressed knowledge, is the object which unconsciously inspired Siegfried to sublimate it into a work of art in which its danger and terror would be felt as sublime. For this reason also Bruennhilde refused to surrender the Ring to the Rhinedaughters when Waltraute begged it of her. It is only when Bruennhilde knows that the game is up (when Bruennhilde becomes consciously as wise as her mother Erda) that she agrees to hand it over to them.

PH: Siegfried's refusal to recognize fear (of death) and egoism as his primary motives is actually the final installment of mankind's bid for transcendent value. Siegfried is basically saying to the Rhinedaughters that if such craven feelings are to guide him, if his motives for all he does rise no higher, he'd rather not live. It is noteworthy that the Rhinedaughters deliver this warning that in "Siegfried" the Woodbird would have effectively delivered, and yet Siegfried doesn't respond, even when he hears it, because he is driven, by the logic of the evolution of human consciousness, to rise beyond the limits of human feeling to the ultimate object of human thought.

P. 345: DB: "The Rhinemaidens give up, and exhort one another [to] leave the fool to his fate. 'He thinks he is strong and intelligent, but he is blind and stupid. He has sworn oaths and taken no account of ... [them]. He has been granted wisdom ' (by Bruennhilde) 'but made no use of it. He was allotted the greatest blessing imaginable' (they again mean Bruennhilde) 'and simply threw it away. And yet the Ring which will lead to his death: that he clings to as something precious. Farewell, Siegfried, farewell! A wonderful woman will inherit from you today, poor fool, and she will give us a better hearing. To her, to her, to her!' "

PH: What Siegfried has given up in giving up the magical protection of Bruennhilde is the protection of his conscious mind from the Ring's curse of consciousness, for so long as the Ring remained in Bruennhilde's protective hands, it and its curse would remain unconscious for Siegfried. Bruennhilde, as the muse of unconsciously inspired art, its music, was the surrogate Rhine, but now Siegfried has betrayed her, and the only recourse is to eliminate the gift of reflective consciousness itself. Siegfried didn't make 'use' of Bruennhilde's wisdom (Wotan's confession of his hoard of fatal knowledge, imparted to him by Erda) in a practical, conscious sense, but only as the unconscious source of his inspiration, until now, when Siegfried, thanks to holding onto the Ring and refusing to repress its knowledge any longer, is becoming too conscious to gain the blessing of his unconscious mind Bruennhilde.

P. 345: DB: "It is the Rhinemaidens with their second sight who now go on to explain to Bruennhilde what has really happened, how Siegfried had selectively lost his memory owing to Hagen's mind-altering drugs, how this led to Siegfried's entanglement with Gutrune, and how he is morally blameless; how his real self is still true to Bruennhilde. Because none of this happens onstage it is easily overlooked, but this alone explains Bruennhilde's second change of outlook, why she transforms into an icon of universal understanding, wise through suffering, all-knowing and all-forgiving. It happens because of the crucial truths she has learnt from the Rhinemaidens."

PH: I understand why DB draws these conclusions or inferences but I think he assumes too much. All that we know with certainty is that the Rhinedaughters gave Bruennhilde sound advice to restore Alberich's Ring to them. Bruennhilde in the end holds both herself and Siegfried faultless only in the sense that she has now become wholly conscious of the earthly knowledge which slept in her Mother Erda, that all was predestined by the laws of nature (of all that was, is, and will be), and that, thanks to Wotan's original sin against all that was, is, and will be, both she and Siegfried were unwitting perpetuators of this sin, for which reason they succumbed to Alberich's curse just as Wotan did. Bruennhilde's serenity comes from accepting the necessary, the inevitable, and the serenity that comes of reconciling oneself with this bitter truth through art.

P. 346: DB here recounts what happens after Hagen, Gunther, and the other Gibichungs in the party find Siegfried by himself along the Rhine: "... Siegfried encourages everyone down to the shaded, pleasant spot. Hagen agrees that it is a good place for their meal, and after giving instructions for food and drink, he turns back to Siegfried with the suggestion that he tell them the wonders of his own hunting. Siegfried explains that he has so far caught nothing, even though he almost bagged three wild waterbirds who sang that he would be struck down that very day. Gunther is appalled, but Hagen picks up Siegfried's mention of water-birds to ask him if he really understands birds' language, as he had heard tell. Siegfried says that it is a long time since he noticed, but seeing that Gunther looks gloomy and disturbed, he tries to cheer him up. He mixes up his wine and Gunther's, spilling it and telling Gunther that this is their joint offering to mother earth."

PH: In my interpretation, we learn that Siegfried's death is, in effect, a sacrifice to Mother Earth, Erda, for Wotan's and Siegfried's crimes of having figuratively murdered Mother Nature by inventing and perpetuating the lie that mortal man in some way is independent of nature and beholden to supernatural beings, the gods, crimes which constitute the sin of pessimism, or world-denial, which Alberich described as Wotan's sin against all that was, is, and will be. Siegfried, like Tristan and Parsifal, is symbolically responsible for his mother's death (Tristan like Siegfried having been born of his dying mother, and Parsifal having killed his mother through neglect). The whole purpose of Alberich's curse on his Ring was that those religio-artistic human beings who deprived Alberich (objective consciousness) of it to the end of perpetuating this consoling illusion will be punished for having committed this sin, this sin against Mother Nature's truth. It was Erda herself who foresaw that Wotan and the gods were predestined to destruction, and Wotan accordingly christened her the mother of fear and consigned her and her knowledge ('your wisdom wanes before my will') to oblivion. Now Siegfried must atone for this sin, even though he committed it unwittingly, like a fool, because he didn't know who he is.

P. 346: DB: "Gunther looks gloomier than ever and tells Siegfried that his cheerfulness is excessive, leading Siegfried to comment quietly to Hagen that Bruennhilde is still causing him grief. Hagen comments, 'If only he understood her as well as you understand the birds!' Siegfried says again that since he heard the singing of women, he had forgotten about the birds, but the mention gives him an idea. He turns to Gunther; 'Poor, unhappy Gunther, would it cheer you if I told you the story of my young days?' Gunther says that he would like that, and Siegfried begins with his upbringing by Mime, his forging of the sword Nothung after Mime had been unable to do it, and his fight with Fafner. It was then that he tasted the dragon's blood and began to understand the singing of the birds as if it were human speech. There was one bird whose song told him to take the Tarnhelm and the Ring from Fafner's treasure. Hagen, knowing the answer already, asks him if that is what he did, and Siegfried, confirming it, says that he now heard the woodbird again, warning him that Mime meant to murder him. Hagen asks if the woodbird's warning stood him in good stead, and Siegfried says that after Mime had done everything to prove the truth of it, he put an end to Mime with his sword Nothung."

PH: Hagen's suggestion that if only Gunther understood Bruennhilde as well as Siegfried understands the birds links Bruennhilde with the Woodbird in a way that is quite suggestive and falls into the scheme described by my interpretation. I have noted how similar the following two cases are: on the one hand, though Siegfried learned from the Woodbird the specific uses he could make, respectively, of Alberich's Hoard of Treasure, Tarnhelm, and Ring, nonetheless Siegfried had already forgotten their use upon emerging from Fafner's cave with them moments later; on the other hand, when Bruennhilde told Siegfried that she had imparted to him the hoard of knowledge imparted to her by the gods, Siegfried told her not only that she gave him more than he knows how to keep or guard (i.e., Siegfried's words are a premonition he will in fact betray this secret hoard of unconscious knowledge to consciousness), but that her teaching left him untaught. The point is that both the Woodbird and Bruennhilde teach Siegfried things about the universal, wider world, and his own history, of which nonetheless he remains unconscious. The Woodbird's song is evidently Wagner's symbol for music, the language of the unconscious mind, and Bruennhilde is Siegfried's (and Wotan's) unconscious mind. What Bruennhilde, as the repository for Wotan's confession, holds for Siegfried as repressed thought, he knows only in that thought's sublimation into music. But that music remains a link to forgotten, repressed thought. That is why Hagen can actually have Siegfried now bring those repressed thoughts back to consciousness by employing this link, this musical motif, so to speak. It could be said that perhaps the Woodbird's song, which Siegfried alone can interpret, represents specifically Siegfried the artist-hero's musical motifs, which link the hidden programme of his art to its sublimation as feeling, and the original, hidden thought behind it can be accessed through it. Wagner did indeed say that thanks to his motifs of remembrance and foreboding his own audience would be granted a clairvoyance formerly known only to the artist himself. So Siegfried is about to expose his audience, represented by Gunther (to whom he gives away his unconscious mind Bruennhilde, and the contents of her unconscious mind, the secrets of the Ring), what formerly only Siegfried possessed, the implications and consequences of Wotan's confession to Bruennhilde, his hoard of forbidden knowledge. This is all figurative and allegorical, not quite literal, of course.

P. 347: DB: "Hagen comments with cheerless mirth that although Mime could not forge the sword he still had a taste of it; and several of the vassals ask Siegfried to continue: was there anything more from the woodbird? At this point Hagen offers Siegfried a special drink, to help him remember the past more clearly, and gives him a potion which reverses the effect of his first one. The theme of 'Magic Deceit' sounds in the orchestra, followed by the theme of 'Bruennhilde's New Womanliness', which reveals that Siegfried is now beginning to remember her. He describes being instructed by the woodbird that he must now go and awaken a glorious bride. He was told that she slept on a mountain fastness, that she was encircled by fire; and that she would belong to the man who had the courage to pass through the fire. Hagen asks him if he had done as the woodbird advised, and completely unaware of the implications, Siegfried recollects eagerly how he did not stop until he reached her mountain summit. There she was, this wonderful woman in shining armor. He removed her armor; she awoke to his kiss; and soon he was engulfed in Bruennhilde's miraculous embrace. Gunther leaps to his feet in horror, and at that moment two ravens fly out from the bush, circle round Siegfried, and make off up the Rhine. Hagen asks him if he can make out what the ravens are saying, and Siegfried, turning round to see better, presents his back to Hagen. Hagen stabs Siegfried with all the force of his spear-thrust, shouting that he interprets the ravens as calling for vengeance.

PH: Hagen plays the same role in "Twilight" as Melot does in "Tristan," influencing the artist-hero to betray his true love and muse of unconscious artistic inspiration into the hands of another man, Gunther and Marke, respectively, who represent Wagner's own audience. Hagen and Melot represent in this allegorical scheme the trend of the modern scientific world toward exposure of what had formerly been mysteries or assumptions of supernatural influence in man's affairs as actually mundane natural phenomena, and that spirit of skepticism and inquiry finally made even Wagner's art (itself heir to the religious mysteries) the object of inquiry. But Hagen and Melot represent something in the air of the time, and also within the artist-hero himself, that makes it inevitable that eventually the secrets once kept by man's collective unconscious, and the particular unconscious of the archetypal artist-hero, will be exposed to view in the very works of art whose hidden purpose originally was to maintain this secret. Siegfried is influenced to perform his final work of art by Hagen, the spirit of the modern scientific world, in order to cheer up Wagner's audience, Gunther, because Siegfried's art (Wagner's art) was the last refuge of mortal man from the spirit-killing reductionism of modern science. Why does an artist wish to present his works to an audience? Because the artist can share, communally, his own temporary healing of man's wound that will never heal, man's bid for transcendence which is futile, but which great works of art can make us feel has been attained.

PH: One can't help noting the analogy between Siegfried's case here, in which he is so ecstatic at recalling his original sojourn with his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration Bruennhilde that he is oblivious of the danger to himself in exposing her and her secrets to the light of day for his audience, and Tristan and Isolde's actual sexual congress (in Siegfried's case, he merely describes this sexual union as something past, while Tristan and Isolde are discovered in the act itself, but allegorically it is the same thing) which they pursue even under the threat of inevitable discovery and exposure to the light of day. Similarly, one can't help seeing the identity of both of these cases and that of Tannhaeuser, who in a state of ecstatic inspiration exposes the secret of his illicit sojourn with his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration Venus to the light of day for his audience. What Wagner is saying here also is that his music, and specifically his musical motifs, hold the key to grasping the hidden programme, the unconscious source of inspiration, for his own "Ring." Accordingly, this song that Siegfried sings for the sake of Gunther, but at the behest of Hagen, is Wagner's play-within-the-play, a metaphor for the entire "Ring."

P. 347-348: "Siegfried now has a dying vision of Bruennhilde. Adopting the formal style of ritual, he greets her as wondrous bride, and asks her to awaken. 'Who bound you in slumber so dire? One has come to awaken you, to kiss you awake. He breaks the fetters that bound the bride, and now she enfolds him in her joy and happiness. Ah, her wonderful eyes, now open for ever! Oh her breathing, its sweet, soft rise and fall. Wonderful dissolution! Sweet intimations! Bruennhilde bids me greeting.' His exaltation fades suddenly as the music of 'Bruennhilde's Awakening' gives way to 'Fate'. Unless Bruennhilde told him more than we are told during their first period together, he dies knowing nothing of who he is, or of his crucial and disastrous contribution to the story of the world. When he tells Gunther the story of his life, he does not create a revealing and redeeming narrative for himself as Wotan did with Erda."

PH: Bruennhilde's eyes are open forever because the knowledge which slept with Erda, which she was compelled by Wotan to impart to him, and which he imparted in turn to Bruennhilde during his confession to her, knowledge which he was thus repressing into his unconscious mind, and which Bruennhilde in turn imparted subliminally to Siegfried, is now becoming wholly conscious. Had Wagner spelled this out: 'Siegfried is now wholly conscious of who he is', my interpretation would not have been necessary because it would have been common knowledge from the time of the premier of the "Ring" in 1876. No, it is implicit because of all that we know from the libretto and from the music, from the entire trend of the plot as understood in my interpretation. In contradistinction to what DB says here, that Siegfried still seems to remain ignorant of who he is, I would counter that the whole point of two of Wagner's three other music-dramas, "Tristan" and "Parsifal," is that Tristan is becoming too conscious of who he is, which is why he can no longer find healing through Isolde's love in the end, and expires, and Parsifal becomes so conscious of who he is that he decides to embrace it and no longer seek salvation in consoling illusions and feelings, but embraces Mother Nature as she is, in order to atone for his spiritual antecedents' crime of matricide (the denial of Mother Nature). No, I think Siegfried becomes aware of everything at the end, and expires. He has been stabbed in the back with the memory of who he is. It is his remembrance of who he is that kills him; Hagen's two potions and spear of vengeance are merely the symbols for this.

P. 348-350: DB: "As the scene fades into the mist, ominous drumbeats begin 'Siegfried's Funeral Music'. This is one of the greatest things that Wagner ever composed. It celebrates Siegfried as he always remained in Wagner's imagination, the ideal figure who set the pattern for the future of humanity, both in 'The Ring' and in our own real world. (...) It is a mark of Wagner's genius that this music casts the spell that it does. Although the theme of the 'Funeral Music' binds this great passage together effectively, it is at one level nothing more than a procession of themes marking aspects of Siegfried's existence, with some very loud climaxes. Except that it is not; it is everything more. It is a profound celebration of human life, great and small. Not for nothing is it regularly played at the funerals of the great and the not-necessarily-good. It was played at Lenin's funeral [PH: Who knew?] almost twenty years before it was played for Hitler's obsequies. It is played for musicians, great artists, and great scientists [PH: I had no idea; I'm dying to find out who] - sometimes the genuinely great and good - all round the world. In a sympathetic performance it scales the heights of exaltation and is immeasurably moving, and perhaps it touches the hearts of everyone because it is about everyone. It puts in a nutshell the central message of 'The Ring' and draws people into its lesson that life is mostly an experience infinitely worth celebrating."

PH: I don't disagree, though I don't agree with the suggestion DB makes that this funeral interlude celebrates a hero who was supposed to have set a pattern for the future of humanity, which Wagner's drama didn't sustain, which is DB's intimation, per some of his remarks about Siegfried earlier in this book. Michael Tanner once wrote that this interlude seems inflated when we consider how little Siegfried seemed to live up to it. However, I would argue that Siegfried is not simply Wagner's idea of the perfect man of the future in whom Wagner lost interest as he completed the "Ring." If we grasp Siegfried as Wagner's metaphor for the artist-hero in modern times, and therefore as a metaphor for himself, we recognize in Siegfried Wagner's description of the authentic artist for whom his art might remain a mystery, as much as for his audience. Siegfried's knowing naiveté is very much along the lines of Wagner's frequent descriptions of the nature of authentic artists. Siegfried's Funeral Music if of course a musical genealogy written as a dirge and eulogy for all of those religio-artistic heroes whom Wagner fears and suspects are going to be consigned by the modern, secular, scientific world to the dustbin of history, including himself. He saw himself as one of the last few human beings fighting for transcendent value in a corrupt world.

PH: Siegfried's brutality towards Bruennhilde is indicative of Wagner's allegorical conception that there is a deep connection between the initial acquisition of human consciousness (Alberich's forging of the Ring), which Wagner sees as something akin to a rape of nature, a turning of nature against itself (as indeed it did in religious world-renunciation, and also in a different sense in scientifically inspired technology and the advancement in knowledge, which according to Wagner might one day, through some unanticipated accident, blow everything sky-high), and the artist-hero Siegfried's involuntary self-betrayal, in exposing the contents of his unconscious mind to the light of day. Feuerbach spoke of man's inquiring mind as in a sense forcing nature to answer his need, and Siegfried as the unwitting agent of Alberich/Hagen inherits this spirit when he betrays his own muse to his audience. Wagner himself said (if memory serves) that Siegfried's behavior towards Bruennhilde in T.1.3 reminded him of Alberich, and also said in more than one place that by virtue of taking possession of Alberich's Ring Siegfried himself becomes a Nibelung.

P. 350: DB recalls here that Gutrune, awaiting the return of Siegfried from the hunt, at night, thought she saw Bruennhilde go down to the Rhine [where of course she talked with the Rhinedaughters] and heard her laugh.

PH: Bruennhilde's laugh will reappear in Kundry, who is cursed, throughout her cycle of rebirths, never to be able to cry, but only to laugh, as she had once mocked Christ on his way to the cross. Both DB and I have noted how Wagner compared Siegfried to Christ, and how Wagner draws attention to this analogy at various points in the "Ring." Bruennhilde of course played a role in wreaking revenge on Siegfried for betraying her, and suggested that Siegfried like Christ should atone through his death for the sins of humanity, all of whom, according to her, had betrayed her.

P. 351: DB: "... the 'Curse of the Ring' sounds as Hagen attacks Gunther, takes him by surprise, and murders him. He turns to the dead Siegfried, ready to seize the Ring, but Siegfried's corpse raises its arm menacingly, and Hagen gives way to an unexplained weakness and falls back."

PH: This is one of the strangest and most disturbing incidents in the "Ring," and controversial because it is often considered artificial. It is well known that Wagner once considered having Titurel raise himself from the dead in his coffin in the finale of "Parsifal" to bless all those present as Parsifal showed the Grail for all to see, and Wagner wisely decided against this. However, the case with Siegfried's temporary arm-resurrection is perhaps rather different and perhaps more acceptable. Alberich had warned Hagen that if Bruennhilde ever restored his Ring to the Rhinedaughters it would forever be lost to Alberich and Hagen, and Hagen does indeed plunge desperately into the Rhine at the finale, presumably to see if he can retrieve it from the Rhinedaughters who have withdrawn it from Bruennhilde's ashes, as if in response to his father's warning. I believe these two instances are related, namely, Alberich's warning and the resurrection of Siegfried's arm to warn Hagen away from the "Ring." I suspect both are instances of Wagner's intuition that since we are a product, rather than a creator, of nature, that science (which from a certain viewpoint is nature becoming conscious of itself, in man, which is another way also of understanding Alberich's Ring and Hoard) can go just so far, but that there may in the end be some barrier to further acquisition of knowledge which is inherent to natural law, and to the nature of human consciousness. Furthermore, Wagner intuited that the Promethean quest for more knowledge and the power it brings might one day bring about an unforeseen accident which could wipe out either just the earth itself, or something more comprehensive. In any case, I take it that Siegfried himself isn't resurrected, but that the Ring itself warns Hagen away at what was supposed to have been the moment of final triumph for Alberich and Hagen. Perhaps this evolutionary cycle of rising levels of consciousness culminating in reflective consciousness, leading to the transition from somatic evolution of species to symbolic or cultural evolution of knowledge and technology, leads inevitably to the obliteration of all order, and a return to those conditions which give birth to the same cycle again, either for the entire cosmos or for parts of it. This would certainly give a new twist to the Buddhist notion of cycles of rebirth.

(EDITED ON 5/9/2015)
Site Admin
Posts: 396
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2011 11:03 am

Return to General Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests