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The Valkyrie: Page 421
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Helmwige: I obey our father!

 

Bruennhilde: Grimgerde! Gerhilde! Grant me your horses! Schwertleite! Siegrune! See, I’m afraid! Dear to you as I was, be true to me now (#37?:) and save this sorrowing woman (:#37?).

Bruennhilde has arrived with Sieglinde desperately seeking her Valkyrie sisters’ help to protect the Waelsung Sieglinde from Wotan’s wrath, but Bruennhilde’s sisters mechanically renew their allegiance and obedience to Wotan even in this matter, describing Bruennhilde as mad for having defied Wotan. Everyone wonders why Wotan is in such a rage with Bruennhilde for doing what, in his heart of hearts, he wanted to do himself. The reason, we’ll see, is that she is Wotan’s own unconscious mind: he is not angry with her for standing up for his unconscious desires, but rather, for openly, consciously standing up for what should remain unconscious, an unspoken secret which can be safely expressed only in art, especially the non-conceptual art of music, not in action.

Valentina Serova’s reminiscence of Wagner’s interpretation of Wotan’s anger at Bruennhilde for her disobedience suggests it actually expresses Wotan’s anger at himself:

“Someone made so bold as to ask why Wotan could rejoice in Siegfried’s protest, yet punish his daughter so cruelly for her disobedience. Wagner glanced fiercely at the questioner. ‘Because,’ he replied, ‘Bruennhilde herself is no more than Wotan’s desire (his “Wunschkind”). When his desires begin to contradict his own will, in other words, when he has lost the power of free will, the violence of his anger is directed not against Bruennhilde but against himself. Bruennhilde may be the outward manifestation but its essence lies in Wotan’s inner discord.’ “ [752W-{7/8/69} Valentina Serova’s reminiscence of a visit to Tribschen on 7/8/69: WR, p. 203]

At the very moment when Bruennhilde, begging her sisters to aid her in her time of need, introduced #90b, the second segment of #90 (#90a being associated in V.2.4 with Bruennhilde’s sudden decision to defy Wotan and cast her lot with the oppressed Waelsungs), Bruennhilde said the following: “(#90b) Shield me and help me in direst need (“hoechster Noth”).” Bruennhilde has invoked, for the fourth time in the Ring, the verbal motif Alberich employed when he blessed his curse on his Ring in “direst need” (“hoechster Noth”). This verbal motif made its second appearance in V.1.3 when Siegmund, desperate and alone and facing death the following day from Hunding’s vengeance, yet preparing to dedicate himself to the salvation of Hunding’s oppressed wife (as yet unknown to Siegmund as his twin-sister Sieglinde) at all costs, called on his father Waelse (Wotan in disguise) to give him the sword he once promised him. The third of the four appearances of this verbal motif was Siegmund’s invocation of his “highest need” of love as he prepared to withdraw Wotan’s sword Nothung (the sword which incarnates Wotan’s highest need, the restoration of lost love and innocence), to win for himself his sister-bride Sieglinde, and embrace his tragic destiny and doom. I mention this only to emphasize that all of these events, both Alberich’s curse on his Ring (the curse of consciousness), and man’s historical efforts to reverse the natural course of man’s evolution from unconsciousness to consciousness, by restoring lost love, are all equally necessary, all expressions of natural necessity and fate, all inevitable.

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