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Siegfried: Page 622
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{{ There seems to be a motival and/or musical reference of potential interest here. When Erda suggests that Wotan seek knowledge from their daughter Bruennhilde, we hear what sounds like music heard in R.4 at or just before the moment when Wotan was struck by his grand idea for redemption from Alberich’s curse, which took musical form in the motif #57 (the sword), and #58ab, to which Wotan sang his apostrophe to the fort (the refuge Valhalla), which he hoped would keep the gods safe from dread and dismay. This needs to be examined in the score. }}

#19 and #37, both associated with Alberich’s bid to renounce love (#37) for the sake of the Ring’s power (#19), are again in play as Erda recalls how, in spite of her wisdom, she was once mastered by Wotan, and gave birth to their daughter Bruennhilde. This can only be a reference, it seems to me, to Wotan’s first request of Erda, that she teach him everything there is to know about why he must live in fear, since #19 and #37 are the motival incarnations of the real world’s lovelessness, and it is the possibility that the world is loveless, without hope of redemption, that is the cause of Wotan’s fear. This fear is the motive which inspired Wotan to seek objective knowledge from Erda, and which planted the seed in Erda, the womb of the world, which came to birth as Bruennhilde. The knowledge Wotan would obtain from Erda under these circumstances would be indistinguishable from Alberich’s objective knowledge of the lovelessness of the world. Similarly, when Wotan tells Erda that he has left Bruennhilde, sleeping, prey to any man who wakes her, the presence of #19 and #37 here refer to his original intent to leave the forbidden knowledge he had confessed to Bruennhilde prey to any man to wake and make conscious, his original intent being to punish her with shame for her disobedience, and, in his despairing recognition that he must of necessity betray his ideals, to bring to an end the ideal world Wotan had tried but failed to create.

But Wotan relented under the sway of Bruennhilde’s plea that only Wotan’s free hero be permitted to wake her, and that all cowards unworthy of her be scared off. This change of heart is reflected here in the motifs #98 and #99, which recall Wotan’s agreement in V.3.3 to protect Bruennhilde’s sleep from all except fearless heroes (#98), and Wotan’s tender, parting words to Bruennhilde (#99). In both instances, i.e., in asking Erda for objective knowledge of why he must live in fear, and asking her (see passage [S.3.1: D]) to help him end his fear, for rhetorical purposes, Wotan is deliberately playing ignorant about his true, hidden intent, which is to seek redemption of the gods through the love of Siegfried and Bruennhilde. However, very soon, angered by Erda’s withering critique, he’ll divulge his ultimate plan to escape the fate Erda foretold.

Since Wotan isn’t content with the objective truth of nature - as spun by Erda’s daughters, the Norns - because he can’t live happily with the bitter truth, Erda seems to say to herself, ‘well then, why don’t you seek knowledge instead from our daughter Bruennhilde?’ Since Bruennhilde is Mother Nature’s daughter, her suggestion that Wotan seek knowledge of redemption from fate, the truth, from her daughter Bruennhilde, tallies perfectly with Wagner’s following remark that nature’s true purpose is deliverance (redemption) from within herself:

“… nature’s true purpose … aims at deliverance from within itself: (Feminine.).” [1126W-{3/21/82 – 4/9/82} BB, p. 204]

 Obviously, when Erda suggests Wotan seek knowledge from Bruennhilde if he can’t live with the objective knowledge the Norns would teach him, Erda means a different kind of knowledge, namely, aesthetic intuition, the antithesis of objective scientific knowledge. Aesthetic intuition is

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