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Twilight of the Gods: Page 1004
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more deeply into the nature of things than ever before. The ultimate consequence of this freedom to explore the very bonds which hold the cosmos together might be the dissolution, through some incalculable accident caused by scientific experimentation (perhaps in the service of the development of weapons of mass destruction), of our own world, our solar system, or even the entire cosmos.

Finally, Wagner offered the following observations, two to three years after the Ring’s premiere at Bayreuth, which undeniably suggest that Parsifal can be understood as an alternative to the apocalyptic ending of the Ring, and that Parsifal himself can be considered a sort of second coming, or reincarnation, of the artist-hero and hoped-for savior Siegfried, whose redemption will on this occasion actually bear fruit:

[P. 299] “Over coffee he said to me that in fact Siegfried ought to have turned into Parsifal and redeemed Wotan, he should have come upon Wotan (instead of Amfortas) in the course of his wanderings, but there was no antecedent for it, and so it would have to remain as it was.” [964W-{4/29/79}CD Vol. II, p. 299]

[P. 80] “Can one imagine the state of barbarism at which we shall have arrived, if our social system continues for another six-hundred years or so in the footsteps of the declining Roman world-dominion? I believe that the Saviour’s second advent, expected by the earliest Christians in their lifetime, and later cherished as a mystic dogma, might have a meaning for that future date, and perchance amid occurrences not totally unlike those sketched in the Apocalypse. For, in the conceivable event of a relapse of our whole Culture into barbarism, we may take one thing for granted: namely, that our Historical science, our criticism and chemistry of knowledge would also have come to an end [i.e., Hagen will go down to destruction]; whilst it may be hoped, on the contrary, that Theology would by then have come to a final agreement with the Gospels, and the free [P. 81] understanding of Revelation be opened to us without Jehovaistic subtleties – for which event the Saviour promised us his coming back [there is considerable evidence in Parsifal not only that Siegfried has been reincarnated in him, but also that Christ the savior has been as well].And this would inaugurate a genuine popularisation of the deepest Knowledge. In this or that way to prepare the ground for cure of ills inevitable in the evolution of the human race … might fitly be the mission of a true Art appealing to the Folk itself, to the Folk in its noblest, and at present its ideal sense.” [929W-{3-7/78} Public and Popularity: PW Vol. VI, p. 80-81]

With those observations by Richard Wagner our argument is complete!

The remaining chapters of this book, separate essays on Wagner’s three canonical operas (The Flying Dutchman, Tannhaeuser, and Lohengrin) and three other music-dramas (Tristan and Isolde, The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, and Parsifal), will demonstrate that they are all best understood in the light of their systematic conceptual relationships to Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung, the master-myth which subsumes all other myths.

I’ll leave the last words for Friedrich Nietzsche, Wagner’s greatest advocate and most vehement antagonist, since Wagner unwittingly wrote his future friend Nietzsche into his script when he gave life to Siegfried’s and the gods’ nemesis Hagen, the author of Siegfried’s death and the twilight of the gods. These were the two things Wagner set out to explain by writing and composing the Ring.

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