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The Rhinegold: Page 289
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The Rhinedaughters sing that it is trusty and true only in the depths of the Rhine because there is no self-deception in preconscious animal instinct, nor concern with truth in the abstract. The world-historical conflict which besets Wotan and will drive him to despair in the course of the Ring, between man’s objective, scientific quest to advance knowledge for the sake of power over man’s world, and the counter-impulse of religious man to deny this prosaic world and seek redemption from it in an imaginary, illusory world, is no concern of feeling, but only of thinking. As Feuerbach put it, reason seems finite, seems to distinguish us from and alienate us from our world, while feeling seems infinite, since we feel at one with the all:

“In the activity of reason I feel a distinction between myself and reason in me; this distinction is the limit of individuality; in feeling I am conscious of no distinction between myself and feeling; and with this absence of distinction there is an absence also of the sense of limitation. Hence it arises that to so many men reason appears finite, and only feeling infinite.” [154F-EOC: p. 287]

And reason, with its conflict between falsehood and truth, is no concern of music, that most recently developed of the arts, that most sophisticated distillation of the aesthetic sense which seems nonetheless to restore our pre-lingual innocence. The beauty of music, according to Wagner, is that it seems to satisfy man’s religious longing for transcendence through feeling alone, within our own subjective depths, without staking a claim to the power of truth (the Ring) which the truth might contradict, which is religious faith’s sore point:

[P. 86] “It certainly is an enchanted state into which we fall while listening to a true Beethovenian masterwork, when in every particle of the piece – which our sober senses would tell us was merely the technical means of exhibiting a given form – we discern a supernatural life (geisterhafte Lebendigkeit) … , [P. 87] whilst it all appears to take its motion from the depths of our own inner being.” [776W-{9-12/70} Beethoven: PW Vol. V, p. 86-87]

“As Christianity stepped forth amid the Roman civilisation of the universe, so Music breaks forth from the chaos of modern civilisation. Both say aloud: ‘our kingdom is not of this world.’ And that means: we come from within, ye from without; we spring from the Essence of things, ye from their Show.” [790W-{9-12/70} Beethoven: PW Vol. V, p. 120]

It is thanks to music that Mother Nature (Erda), who seen objectively can so terrorize us that we cannot bear to contemplate her bitter truths, can become to us a sympathetic being:

“Not the light which illumines the world from without is God, but the light which we cast upon it from within us: i.e., perception through sympathy.” [1099W-{10/23/81} BB, p. 200]

As Wagner said, music makes us feel as if it is the ultimate truth, the essence of the world, without any argument, without any debate over good and evil, truth or falsehood, or any claim to factuality:

“Hear my creed: Music can never and in no possible alliance cease to be the highest, the redeeming art. It is of her nature, that what all the other arts but hint at, through her and in her becomes the most undoubtable of certainties, the most direct and definite of truths. … she

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