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Siegfried: Page 617
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“… as blissful emotion steals over our senses …” from R.4?]) None there is wiser than you: (#38 vari>>:) to you is revealed what the depths conceal (:#voc?), what fills every hill and dale and moves through air and water. Where men have life your spirit moves (:#38); (#140 vari? [possibly a high string fanfare heard in S.3.3 when Bruennhilde joyously commits to having sexual union with Siegfried after her initial fears have ended, and also possibly heard at the end of T.2.5?]) where brains are brooding your mind remains (:#140 vari?); all, it is said, is made known to you. (#133) That I may now gain knowledge, (#133:) I wake you from your sleep (:#133). (#21 vari)

If music could speak in words, the essential message of this famous prelude would be that Wotan is in desperate need of a hero (#83 [#53 & 54/#81]), freed from the gods’ protection and influence, who can redeem the gods from the fearful fate (#87) Erda predicted (#53; #54), the twilight of the gods, a fate to which they are inevitably condemned by the power of Alberich’s Ring (#45). Since Wotan can’t actually redeem the gods from the fate Erda foretold, for this reason Wotan has been wandering the world (#112) seeking knowledge from the sleeping Erda (#97) of how the gods may forget their fear of the fate she foretold, and to this end Wotan must use his authority (#21) to wake her, the author of his fear, to compel her to grant him forgetting of fear.

Now Wotan introduces a new motif, #133, as he cries out for Erda to wake. It is in the family of love motifs which includes #25, #39, #40, #64b, #80b, and #140. It was, after all, through his loving union with Erda that she gave birth to their daughter Bruennhilde, who lies asleep within the protective ring of fire on the mountain crag above the spot where Wotan now wakes Erda. He is using the spell of love to seek a special kind of knowledge from Erda, aesthetic intuition, as he did once before when their union produced Bruennhilde. Wotan, in other words (as he described in R.4), seeks not only the knowledge of what he feared from Erda, but also knowledge of how to end his fear, and these two distinct desires have given birth to Bruennhilde, from whom Siegfried presumably will not only be able to learn the meaning of fear, but also how to forget fear. Thanks to Bruennhilde’s loving protection, Siegfried will be able to repress fearful knowledge into the unconscious and sublimate it, through artistic inspiration, into an artwork of beauty which can keep its true source of inspiration an unspoken secret.

As Wotan tells Erda that he wandered the world to gather knowledge and primeval lore, we hear the first variant of the Primal Nature Arpeggio #1, which is #2. This reminds us that in Erda, Mother Nature, is to be found the ur-knowledge of natural necessity, which is unconscious and only to be woken by conscious man, to whom she gave birth. Wagner concurred with Feuerbach that it is in man alone that nature becomes conscious of itself. As Wotan elaborates on the full depth and breadth of her knowledge, we hear a #38 variant which takes us back to the moment in R.2 when #38 heralded Loge’s paean to love, in which he told the gods how none among the living would ever renounce love or woman’s worth (all the while knowing full well that Alberich had already done so). Loge was trying to explain to Wotan why, even though he had promised to find something the Giants would accept as a substitute for the payment originally agreed upon for building Valhalla, Freia, nonetheless his travels through the length and breadth of the world to find such a substitute had failed. But Alberich’s renunciation of love (instinct) for power (the power of

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