A+ a-
Wagnerheim Logo
Wagnerheim Bookmark System
The Valkyrie: Page 391
Go back a page
391
Go forward a page

Wotan: (embittered: #83a , i.e. #53:) Fight bravely for Fricka (:#83a), (#68:) for her, guard both wedlock and vows (:#68)! (dryly) What she has chosen I choose, too: (#stark recitative:) What use would my own will be to me (:#recitative)? I cannot will a free man - for Fricka’s slaves now fight!

While saying this, however, Wotan is accompanied by motif #83, which represents the gods’ need for redemption, so the music contradicts what he is saying: deep down he wants Bruennhilde to do whatever is necessary to secure the gods’ redemption. Bruennhilde is, of course, Wotan’s “deep down,” his unconscious mind. To clinch our argument, Wotan asks – in a vocal line of stark recitative - what use his “Will” (i.e., his unconscious mind, the source of redemptive musical motifs) could be to him, since he can’t will a free man. But that’s just the point. By virtue of having confessed the truth about Wotan and his history to Bruennhilde (who described herself as Wotan’s “Will”) and thereby repressing it in his unconscious, the womb of his wishes, Bruennhilde figuratively gives birth to his hero Siegfried from Wotan’s seed, his hoard of knowledge he confessed to her. Wotan will, in other words, be reborn in Siegfried, minus consciousness of his loathsome identity and corrupt history, for Bruennhilde, now Siegfried’s unconscious mind, will hold this knowledge for him (as Bruennhilde tells Siegfried in S.3.3). As his muse, she will allow Siegfried to draw unconscious and therefore safe inspiration from Wotan’s unspoken secret, in order to perpetuate Loge’s veil of illusion in a new form of religion, secular art.

Wotan seems to be involved in a major contradiction here. If, as he just told Bruennhilde, he now wills the “end,” why then does he care whether Bruennhilde fights for Fricka, or for Siegmund, or just does nothing? It is because Wotan both wills the end of the gods, and does not. He is not involved in a contradiction once one understands that though he wills the end of religious belief as a concept, as an affirmation of fact, religious feeling, the longing for transcendent value, will live on in art, which, as we’ll see, is represented by the loving union of Siegfried the artist-hero with his muse of inspiration, his unconscious mind Bruennhilde. And furthermore, religious belief, in all its hubristic overreaching, will live on for a very long time in any case, because the objective truth which scientific inquiry makes known to man, and its implications for religious man’s dependence on illusion, takes a long time to make a decisive, culture-altering impression on the masses of humanity.

In the following enlightening extracts Wagner describes the kind of redemption that Bruennhilde is offering Wotan and the gods. It basically consists in trading bitter consciousness of the irresolvable contradiction between what is, and what man feels ought to be, for the bliss of unconscious feeling, or music. This is achieved through a repression of unconscious thought into the unconscious, what Wagner describes as the “going-under” of the state, egoism, Judaism, and the objective spirit of scientific inquiry, and its sublimation into blissful feeling in art, and particularly the art of music which, being non-conceptual, has no involvement in science’s debate with religion over truth and falsehood:

[P. 72] “Science takes over the arbitrary concepts of the human brain [Wagner is referring to Kant’s apriori knowledge when he describes the concepts of the brain as arbitrary], in their totality; while, by her side, Life follows in its totality the instinctive evolution of Necessity [which Wagner in 1854

Go back a page
391
Go forward a page
© 2011 Paul Heise. All rights reserved. Website by Mindvision.