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Siegfried: Page 584
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on his Ring not only taking it from Fafner, but also by being heir to the curse’s primary victim, Wotan (who was the first to co-opt Alberich’s Ring power and prompt him to curse it).

In truth, the artist-hero Siegfried’s murder of Fafner in order to take aesthetic possession of the hoard of Wotan’s knowledge of his subjection to nature’s law, or fate, is a perpetuation of Wotan’s original sin against Mother Nature herself. Wotan sinned by co-opting the power of Alberich’s Ring with the aid of Loge’s artistic cunning in order to sustain the gods’ rule through illusion, and Alberich’s curse’s sole purpose is to punish this sin. Fafner at this point in the drama represents Wotan’s existential fear of the truth, which is to say, his fear of becoming conscious of the truth, since Wotan repressed his hoard of knowledge of Alberich’s inevitable victory over the gods into his unconscious mind Bruennhilde. Siegfried, waking her, his muse, will also fall heir to Alberich’s curse on his Ring by falling heir to Wotan’s repository of knowledge, Bruennhilde.

Siegfried’s answer to Fafner is that he doesn’t know a great deal, even who he is. The reason Siegfried does not know either his identity or prehistory is that Bruennhilde, as the store-place for Wotan’s unspoken secret, knows this for Siegfried, so that Siegfried’s conscious mind can be freed from suffering Wotan’s paralyzing conceptual contradictions and foresight of the gods’ inevitable end. Simply put, Siegfried does not know who he is, because Bruennhilde (as she’ll tell him in S.3.3) knows this for him. And Bruennhilde knows his true identity for him because Wotan, who had grown to abhor and loathe himself, could not bear to consciously contemplate his self-knowledge, so he repressed it into his unconscious mind by confessing it to Bruennhilde. It would be easy to aver that Bruennhilde knows all this about Siegfried for the simple, mundane reason that Siegfried was brought up mostly ignorant of his past, and Bruennhilde, as witness to much of that past, knows it for him. But if that was all that Wagner meant to imply, it would make nonsense of dozens of both subtle and overt musico-dramatic intimations of Bruennhilde’s status as both Wotan’s and Siegfried’s unconscious mind, and a rather large proportion of Wagner’s writings and recorded remarks which clearly reference the Ring plot, if only obliquely. In fact, it would make nonsense of a large proportion of the Ring itself.

But Wagner surely meant to imply more by Bruennhilde’s remark in S.3.3 that what Siegfried doesn’t know, she knows for him, than this, not only because we hear the Fate Motif #87 when Bruennhilde tells Siegfried this, but also because the heroines of Wagner’s three other music-dramas likewise possess knowledge of their hero-lovers’ identity and history which the heroes do no possess. Eva, Walther von Stolzing’s muse of artistic inspiration in The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, not only inspires Walther to create his ultimately victorious mastersong in a dream, but most importantly, Sachs (in this resembling Wotan in his confession to Bruennhilde), in his cobbling song of Act II, which serves both to thwart Beckmesser’s illegitimate effort to win the hand of the muse of art, Eva, and to thwart Walther’s elopement with Eva, makes a confession to Eva of her responsibility to inspire Walther’s art through a figurative marriage, which will give birth to a legitimate child, the mastersong. The reason she has this responsibility is that, as a metaphor for Eve in paradise, who gave Adam the fruit of that Tree of Knowledge which brought original sin into the world, and caused man’s exile from paradise, it is her responsibility to inspire secular art as a substitute for restoration of lost paradise, on earth. And Walther, like his model Siegfried, remains oblivious to the conceptual content of Sachs’ confession to Eva.

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