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Siegfried: Page 726
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mysteries, and as the muse for inspired secular art she is the guardian of the new faith, the involuntary and unconscious collective-dream realm of art, in which all doubt and questioning are allayed by feeling. She can safely teach Siegfried the meaning of Wotan’s fear because she, Siegfried’s unconscious mind, holds this knowledge for him, so that he can obtain subliminal inspiration from it without suffering consciousness of it, and thereby temporarily escape Alberich’s curse on the Ring, the curse of consciousness. Through secular art, Wagner’s music-drama, the heir to religion, Wotan has temporarily attained his goal of restoration of lost innocence. Ironically, Bruennhilde has had to teach Siegfried fear so that he could forget his fear, and Wotan proclaimed Siegfried invulnerable to Alberich’s curse on the basis that Siegfried had never known fear.

It is also well worth noting that as Bruennhilde asks Siegfried, in escstasy, “(#87 Frag:) Am I now yours?,” we hear a fragment of #87, the Fate Motif, for he has taken aesthetic possession of Fate.

Thus we can grasp the meaning of Siegfried’s exultant words: “(#74b hint) As our arms clasp each other in ardor (#92) my courage returns (#74b hint), ah! The fear that I never learned – the fear that you scarcely taught me: that fear – (#129b) I think – fool that I am, (#128b? [perhaps the fragment linked with the Woodbird’s explanation of the meaning of love to Siegfried: “Blissful I weave my lay from woe”?]) I’ve quite forgotten it now!” But why do the Woodbird’s tunes #129b and #128b accompany Siegfried as he tells Bruennhilde that the fear he learned from her he’s quite forgotten? Think back to Siegfried’s peculiar observation as he emerged from Fafner’s cave with Alberich’s Ring on his finger and the Tarnhelm attached to his belt: “What use you are I do not know: (#12) but I took you from the heaped up gold of the hoard (#59b) since goodly counsel counselled me to do so. (#16>>) may your trinkets serve as witness to this day’s events: may the bauble recall (#59c) how, (#109) fighting, I vanquished Fafner but still haven’t learned the meaning of fear.” But the Woodbird had just moments before Siegfried entered Fafner’s cave taught him the use of both Tarnhelm and Ring, that acquisition of the Tarnhelm would help him to work wonders, but taking possession of the Ring would win him the world. It would seem that Siegfried upon emerging from the cave has already forgotten knowledge the Woodbird has just imparted, unless we consider this Wagner’s metaphor for the fact that Siegfried only learned the use of the Tarnhelm and Ring from the Woodbird’s singing subliminally in the first place, i.e., musically. Thus, what the Woodbird taught Siegfried has left him, insofar as his conscious mind is concerned, untaught.

No, Siegfried, archetype of the modern secular artist-hero, Wagner himself, could not learn fear from Fafner not only because religious faith was waning in modern times, but most importantly, because Siegfried was protected since birth from Wotan’s foresight of the end and the existential fear it engendered, since Bruennhilde has held for Siegfried the knowledge which paralyzed Wotan into inaction, thus setting Siegfried free from fear. However, having attained inspiration through his unconscious knowledge of what Wotan feared, by having figurative sexual union with his muse Bruennhilde, who holds this knowledge for him, Siegfried has confronted his true source of inspiration subliminally, but upon waking to produce an inspired work of art will have forgotten the original source of his dreaming. Musical bliss, figurative Wagnerian “love,” has now, in the modern world, taken the place of religious man’s fearful faith.

And now we can see the larger picture. Siegfried’s relationship with Bruennhilde is modeled on Wotan’s relationship with Bruennhilde’s mother Erda, Mother Nature. Wotan, like Siegfried, learned the full meaning of all that Wotan had been taught to fear by Erda, by having figurative

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