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Siegfried: Page 729
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we can experience inner sight into the essence of things. [See 607W] Siegfried and Bruennhilde feel as if they have become one with the essence of all things.

As Bruennhilde proceeds to celebrate their laughing doom the orchestra, and later the principals’ voices, introduce the last motif of Siegfried, #145, a shatteringly manic motif which Dunning traces to the love motif family (which includes #25, #39, #40, #64b, #80b, #133, #140, etc.). {{ But there seems to be another possibility, that it might be a variant of #104, the motif which expresses Siegfried’s contempt for, and loathing of, Mime. If this case can be made, the meaning would seem to be that at the very height of his unconscious inspiration by his muse Bruennhilde, Siegfried achieves the ultimate victory over consciousness (Mime) and fear (Fafner), and Wotan therefore seems to have attained his goal, confessed to Bruennhilde, that a hero would arise who would owe nothing to Wotan’s loathsome egoism (represented by Mime). The libretto text which #145 accompanies is Bruennhilde’s final renunciation of the gods, whom she asks to celebrate their own self-destruction in favor of the love Siegfried and Bruennhilde share, which will be Bruennhilde’s sole concern from now on. Mime, it will be remembered, represented all that Wotan had come to loathe in the pomp of godhead, the egoism at the root of religious belief and its practical promises which allay fear and magnify bliss to infinity. And at the same time Bruennhilde rhetorically calls on the Norns, her half-sisters (Erda’s children), to rend their rope of runes, because, in the ecstasy of the moment, at the height of Siegfried’s unconscious artistic inspiration by his muse, Siegfried and Bruennhilde feel “as if” the rope of fate, of natural law, has been rended by that “Wonder” of the music-drama which makes all the past and future, and all that is distant in space (all that is “Fernen”), seem here and now.

What Bruennhilde celebrates is Wotan’s “going-under,” the figurative twilight of the gods, in favor of religion’s heir, secular art, which Wotan boasted to Erda he could now will with an open heart, since his heirs Siegfried and Bruennhilde can redeem the world from Alberich’s curse on the Ring, the curse of consciousness. Bruennhilde, Wotan’s unconscious mind, achieves this because, as Wotan told Erda, Erda’s knowledge of world history - and the inexorable laws of evolution it obeys - wanes before Wotan’s “will” Bruennhilde. That is why, as Bruennhilde sings of the wider historical context in which their love duet is taking place, Siegfried sings of his love for Bruennhilde alone, remaining wholly oblivious to this wider historical context, and ignorant of his own prehistory and identity. As a signal that Siegfried’s love for Bruennhilde, his unconscious artistic inspiration, has indeed supplanted belief in gods as mankind’s source of transcendent value, #134 sounds for the last time in Siegfried as both Siegfried and Bruennhilde bring the love-duet to a climax extolling the love they have for each other alone. The art their union will produce is the true Wagnerian redemption through love, the “new religion”, the new Valhalla. With a final shout of “laughing death” the curtain comes down in one of the most electrifying climactic moments in all of world theater and opera.

According to Wagner, it is the re-woken soul of music, the will to grasp the world aesthetically, through feeling rather than thinking, that has temporarily restored lost innocence, and made man feel as if he enjoys again paradise before the Fall. The new, aesthetic law of subjective feeling becomes man’s substitute for the natural laws of the objective world (the Norns’ rope of fate): the new world is seen solely through the eyes of music. As Feuerbach put it, describing how Christian faith had privileged feeling over reason:

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