A+ a-
Wagnerheim Logo
Wagnerheim Bookmark System
Twilight of the Gods: Page 751
Go back a page
751
Go forward a page

Gibichungs, as they rest after a hunt, the tale of how he learned the meaning of Woodbirdsong, and the wonderful events which followed from this. But this song, which we may actually interpret as a heroic action or adventure (it is of course the narrative of Siegfried’s heroic adventures in the past) is the product of Bruennhilde the muse’s artistic inspiration, because it is a song narrating the story of Siegfried’s life, which we might regard as Wagner’s entire Ring in miniature, a play within the play. And this is truly the great adventure that the muse Bruennhilde inspired Siegfried to undertake, since Siegfried’s narrative can be construed as a Wagnerian music-drama in miniature, in other words, the product of Bruennhilde’s unconscious artistic inspiration of the artist-hero Siegfried.

In fact, Bruennhilde defines her love for Siegfried as having no other purpose than to inspire such adventures, for she asks, accompanied by #149, what her love would be worth were it not to let him go forth to these new adventures. And we must remember what the purpose of her love for him is: it is to inspire artworks which will redeem man’s religious impulse from the threat posed by Alberich’s curse on the Ring, the curse of consciousness, which will be fulfilled if Alberich’s hoard of hidden knowledge ever rises from the silent depths of the unconscious to the light of day. Significantly, Bruennhilde entertains fear that her merit (as the repository for Wotan’s hoard of runes, and as Siegfried’s muse of unconscious inspiration) has brought Siegfried too little gain, and her doubt is embodied in the next new motif, #150. Cooke suggested that #150 is related to, or is a variant of, the “Hoard of the World Motif” #143, but Dunning disagrees. If Cooke is right, however, quite a number of interesting consequences follow. But either way, #150 represents the risk that Wotan’s unspoken secret, the forbidden hoard of knowledge which Wotan imparted to Bruennhilde in his confession - and which she in turn imparts to her lover Siegfried subliminally so that he can draw unconscious inspiration from it - might become compromised, Wotan’s unspoken secret be revealed to the light of day. If this occurred Bruennhilde’s status as the muse of unconscious artistic inspiration would be over, for she would forever wake, the contents of her mind exposed to the bright sunlight of consciousness.

This provides the explanation for Bruennhilde’s following comments, also accompanied by #150, that what the gods – i.e., Wotan in his confession – have taught her, she gave to Siegfried, a bountiful hoard (“Hort”) of hallowed runes. {{ There seems to be a hint at this point in the orchestra of music associated in S.3.3 with Bruennhilde’s fear of sexual union with Siegfried: the score needs to be examined to ascertain the accuracy of this speculation. }} Bruennhilde adds, again with #150 sounding, that the maidenly source of all her strength was (now accompanied by #140) taken away by the hero to whom she now bows her head. The source of all her strength, the content of her womb which her prior Valkyrie chastity protected, is that she, the womb of Wotan’s wishes, is the repository for Wotan’s hoard of forbidden knowledge. Since this protection was taken away by Siegfried, the only artist-hero worthy to woo the authentic muse of art, and therefore worthy to access her hoard of forbidden knowledge, Siegfried now has taken over Bruennhilde’s role as guardian of Wotan’s unspoken secret, though Siegfried is wholly unconscious of his new status.

Wagner provides evidence for our reading in his prose draft of Siegfried’s Death, his earliest version of the Twilight of the Gods:

 

“Bruennhilde: [to Siegfried]

Go back a page
751
Go forward a page
© 2011 Paul Heise. All rights reserved. Website by Mindvision.