A+ a-
Wagnerheim Logo
Wagnerheim Bookmark System
Siegfried: Page 644
Go back a page
644
Go forward a page

the artist-hero Siegfried will produce, just as Light-Alberich’s (Wotan’s) horrific nightmare, Alberich’s forging of the Ring and all that follows from it in Nibelheim, is sublimated into the Wotan’s waking dream Valhalla, which is merely an allegory whose true subject is Alberich’s acquisition of the power of conscious thought. Thus, Wotan tells Erda to behold his end (religion’s death as an idea and rebirth in art as feeling, Feuerbach’s dream of nature), dreaming. Erda’s knowledge will not wake again so long as Siegfried never betrays the unspoken secret which Wotan imparted to Bruennhilde, and which she, Siegfried’s unconscious mind, keeps for Siegfried, by keeping it secret even from him:

Erda’s objective knowledge, the object of scientific inquiry and the source of man’s existential fear, is consigned by Wotan to sleep and dreaming, through redemptive art and music:

“Physics etc. bring truths to light against which there is nothing to say, but which also say nothing to us.” [901W-{78-82?}Notes of uncertain date, presumably from 1878-1882: PW Vol. VIII, p. 392]

[P. 71] “… only in the joyous [P. 72] consciousness of his oneness with Nature [Siegfried’s creative union with his muse of inspiration and unconscious mind, Erda’s daughter Bruennhilde, the source of Siegfried’s music] does Man subdue his dependence [i.e., the source of Feuerbach’s existential fear] on her … .” [416W-{9-12/49} The Artwork of the Future: PW Vol. I, p. 71-72]

Wotan no longer concerns himself with Alberich’s as yet unborn son’s (Hagen’s, i.e., science’s) threat to bring about the twilight of the gods’ rule over men’s hearts, because the art which Siegfried and Bruennhilde have in store will render the threat of objective knowledge of nature harmless by conquering it aesthetically. And, according to Wagner, where religion can’t survive its conflict with science, art can live on eternally freed from that threat because it stakes no claim to truth, and therefore can never be guilty of falsehood: as feeling it is entirely freed from the conflict between truth and falsehood which sustains the war between science and religion, Nibelheim and Valhalla. In this sense, by retreating to preconscious, pre-Fallen feeling, Wagner said, art can live on eternally where religion (illusion) and science (truth) cancel each other out. Thus we see why Wotan yields to the eternally young Siegfried, the artist-hero, and to Bruennhilde, who called herself the ageless part of Wotan. Immortal art, i.e., art made figuratively immortal by virtue of its profundity and universality, which endears it to the hearts of men so long as there are men capable of contemplating their most enduring contradictions in it, is thus Wagner’s substitute for religion’s bogus promise of immortal life to mortal man.

As we see in the following extracts, Wagner openly attributes this insight to Feuerbach, whose observation in our first extract below, that man’s only true immortality is a tribute to the everlasting youth of the collective human spirit, seems to have had a seminal influence on Wagner:

“That which is true in the universal belief in immortality … consists only in the fact that it is a sensible representation of the nature of consciousness, that in this belief, the foundation, element, and condition of all history – that is, the unity of past, present and future as one essential reality – is fixed and raised to the level of an object … . Thus, your belief in immortality is a true belief only when it is a belief in the infinity of Spirit and in the everlasting youth of humanity, in the

Go back a page
644
Go forward a page
© 2011 Paul Heise. All rights reserved. Website by Mindvision.