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Siegfried: Page 587
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Tarnhelm, it would serve him for wondrous deeds: but could he acquire the ring, it would make him lord of the world (:#129)!

 

(Siegfried has listened with bated breath and a rapt expression on his face: #11)

 

Siegfried: (quietly and with emotion) My thanks for your good counsel, you dear little bird: (#92c or #71 vari “Hero”?:) I’ll gladly follow your call (:#92c or #71 vari “Hero”?). (#17 vari?: He turns to the back of the stage and descends into the cave, where he soon disappears from sight. :#17 vari?)

When Siegfried, preparing to withdraw his sword from Fafner’s dead body, declares that the dead can provide no source of knowledge, so his living sword will lead him, this is Siegfried’s verbal farewell to the articles of faith, customs, social norms, traditions, rules, regulations, and other constraints engendered by a society whose social order is predicated on religious faith, the fear of the new, which according to Wagner is death, not life. When he withdraws his sword his hand is burned by Fafner’s blood and, in sucking it, Siegfried experiences a revelation, not a divine one from on high, but a natural one from his own unconscious mind. Having gained access - by killing man’s taboo on access to dangerous self-knowledge – to the religious mysteries hidden within man’s collective unconscious, Siegfried is able to learn what unconscious processes are behind not only the production of the religious self-deception of divine revelation, but also what is behind unconsciously inspired artistic illusion in general.

Therefore the first thing the Woodbird tells him is that he must now take aesthetic possession of the Hoard, Tarnhelm, and Ring. The Woodbird clearly notes that while the Tarnhelm would help Siegfried perform “wonders,” thereby linking the Tarnhelm with the Wagnerian concept of the “Wunder,” the Ring if obtained will grant Siegfried rule over the world. And of course, it is precisely the unique nature of human consciousness, the human mind, which has granted man dominance over all the other animals, and a remarkable degree of control over his world. But the essential gift granted man by the Ring of consciousness, world-rule, only Alberich would use in its objective sense. Siegfried instead is going to employ the Tarnhelm’s Wonder (imagination), and the Ring’s power, subliminally, as the ultimate though hidden source of inspiration for his art, the veil of Wahn which hides the bitter truth of the world from man’s eyes. Therefore we may surmise that what the Woodbird is telling Siegfried he is only learning subliminally, not consciously. Dramatic proof of this will be offered shortly, but for the moment we can content ourselves with Wagner’s own description of Siegfried under the Woodbird’s sway as being under a sort of “narcosis,” a spell of which Siegfried himself is not conscious, when he acts at the Woodbird’s prompting to take possession of the Hoard, Tarnhelm, and Ring:

“Siegfried has slain Fafner: the forest murmurs that had earlier captivated him so charmingly now exert their magic spell; he understands the woodbird, and – as though guided by some sweet narcosis and obeying, as it were, some instruction without knowing what he is doing – goes into the

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