A+ a-
Wagnerheim Logo
Wagnerheim Bookmark System
Siegfried: Page 730
Go back a page
730
Go forward a page

“… the Christian made the requirements of human feeling the absolute powers and laws of the world.” [90F-EOC: p. 120]

We find an echo of Bruennhilde’s hyperbolic casting away of the Norns’ rope of fate in Wagner’s following description of how music so transfigures all it touches that it sets us free from matter’s realism:

[P. 146] “… if every action, even humblest incident of life displays itself, when reproduced by mimicry, in the transfiguring light and with the objective effect of a mirror-image (as is shown not only by Shakespeare, but by every other sterling playwright), in further course we shall have to avow that this mirror-image, again, displays [P. 147] itself in the transfiguration of purest ideality so soon as it is dipped in the magic spring of Music and held up to us as nothing but pure Form, so to say, set free from all the realism of Matter.” [798W-{3-6/71}The Destiny of Opera: PW Vol. V, p. 146-147]

Thus, Wagner avers, through inspired music we feel as if we’ve regained lost innocence, and to this degree secular art fulfills religious faith’s promise that we can attain redemption from our earthly coils, and affirm and enjoy our transcendent value. Wagner, significantly, describes music as a means through which we can “play” with the grief of being (i.e., “Noth”), without suffering from it. Siegfried and Bruennhilde, accordingly, feel innocent, as if wholly unaware of their implication in Wotan’s guilt:

[P. 92] … all his [Beethoven’s] seeing and his fashioning is steeped in that marvellous serenity (Heiterkeit) which Music first acquired through him. Even the cry, so immanent in every sound of Nature, is lulled to smiling: the world regains its childhood’s innocence. ‘To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise’ – who has not heard these words of the Redeemer, when listening to the ‘Pastoral Symphony’? Now thrives apace that power of shaping the unfathomable, the never-seen, the ne’er experienced, which yet becomes a most immediate experience, of most transparent comprehensibility. The joy of wielding this new power turns next to humour: all grief of Being breaks before this vast enjoyment of the play therewith; the world-creator Brahma [P. 93] is laughing at himself [* Translator’s Footnote: “Cf. Wotan in Siegfried; ‘my jovial god who craveshis own undoing.’ “(Letter to A. Roeckel, Jan. 1854).], as he sees how hugely he had duped himself;guiltlessness re-won disports it with the sting of guilt atoned; freed conscience banters with its torment overpassed. (…) The effect upon the hearer is precisely the deliverance from all earthly guilt, asthe after-effect is the feeling of a forfeited paradise wherewith we return to the world of semblances.” [777W-{9-12/70} Beethoven: PW Vol. V, p. 92-93]

And of course Wagner thought of himself, the inspired artist, as effectively a pre-Fallen being, not subject to the laws which circumscribe the lives of uncreative men:

“ … I maintain to R. that there are many things of which he understands nothing, since genius has no part in original sin. He: ‘I live like a sort of animal.’ I: ‘Yes, in innocence.’ “ [977W-{9/21/79}CD Vol. II, p. 367]

Go back a page
730
Go forward a page
© 2011 Paul Heise. All rights reserved. Website by Mindvision.