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Siegfried: Page 670
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aesthetic arrest granted us by inspired art represents Wotan’s hope that the love Siegfried and Bruennhilde share – Wagner’s metaphor for the artist-hero’s unconscious inspiration by his muse – will satisfy man so he does not seek that objective knowledge of himself and his world which would undermine all that is left of man’s religious legacy of feeling and morality. In what may well be the most beautiful line of sheer poetry in the entire Ring, which notably is accompanied by #23, Siegfried paints an image in words which seems to capture #23’s essence: “Shimmering clouds have fringed a celestial lake with their waves: the radiant sunlight’s smiling likeness shines through a billowing bank of clouds,” an image of the transcendent value which man hopes to find in paradise. But Wotan has renounced his paradise Valhalla (#20a), ultimately because it is merely a sublimation of Alberich’s Ring power (#19), in favor of the new Valhalla, the new religion, Wagner’s music-drama.

But can we truly say that Wotan, reborn as Siegfried minus consciousness of his true identity as the heir to dying religious faith, now has full contentment in art, which doesn’t strive to transcend reality (in this point differing with religious faith), but within the limits of our earthly existence makes us feel as if we are lifted above it? Won’t Siegfried be prompted, as Wotan was before him, to venture outside the safe confines of his new Valhalla, to conquer the outer world, and seek the suffering of change? Wotan’s retort to Fricka underlined the instability and undependability of a paradise which, after all, is just Wahn, self-deception. But #23’s presence here, in its most fully developed variant, informs us that in the love of Siegfried and Bruennhilde, a metaphor for artistic inspiration, Wotan has reconstituted Valhalla, made a new Valhalla, in which art supplants religious faith as our value-giver. It is through the redemptive art which Siegfried, in union with his muse Bruennhilde, will produce, that Wotan hopes to live on in his hero. It is for this that Wotan was willing to sacrifice himself and all the gods, i.e., mankind’s bid for transcendence. And yet Siegfried’s loving union with his muse of inspiration Bruennhilde will produce an art, the Wagnerian music-drama, which proclaims its real-world powerlessness, its insubstantiality, its inability to stake a claim on the power of truth (the power of the Ring) in advance, even though man’s religious longing for transcendent value will in this unique art reach its summit of expression.

[S.3.3: B]

Upon cutting loose Bruennhilde’s armor Siegfried receives a profound shock: this warrior is not a man. Never having seen a woman before (presumably), Siegfried does not know what to make of Bruennhilde, though his desire draws him to her. But Siegfried’s shock runs deeper: he is filled with fear for the first time. The sleeping Bruennhilde, as he says, has taught him the meaning of fear:

Siegfried: (#66?: He starts up in shock and astonishment.) No man is this! – (#23 vari: He stares at the sleeping woman in a state of utter turmoil.) (#132b >>: [previously Dunning agreed #66 precedes #137 here]; #98 vari [or #121 vari speeded up & developed as at the end of S.2.3?]) Burning enchantment charms my heart, fiery terror transfixes my eyes: (#66?: [transforming into #137b, as heard when Siegfried sings of wanting to plunge into the waves and lose himself later in

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