A+ a-
Wagnerheim Logo
Wagnerheim Bookmark System
Twilight of the Gods: Page 765
Go back a page
765
Go forward a page

inscrutable in Time and Space, is nowhere manifest to us but in that abrogation [unconscious inspiration]; and there it shows itself divine, the willing of Redemption.” [1090W-{6-8/81} Herodom and Christendom – 3rd Supplement to ‘Religion and Art’: PW Vol. VI, p. 280-281]

We are reminded of Wotan’s desperate attempt to disavow his dependence on the egoistic Giants Fafner and Fasolt, with their embarrassing claims on Wotan’s religious ideal, Freia (goddess of immortality and transcendent love). We are reminded also of Wotan’s futile attempt to disavow his dependence on Alberich’s Ring, not only in the obvious sense that the Ring, Wagner’s metaphor for the power of human thought, gave rise to Valhalla (#19, the Ring Motif, having given birth to the first segment of the Valhalla Motif, #20a), but also in the sense that Wotan was only able to find a substitute payment for Valhalla which the Giants would accept, by offering them Alberich’s Ring. For these reasons Wotan and the gods became subject to Alberich’s curse on the Ring. And finally we are reminded of Wotan’s quixotic quest, never to be satisfied, to escape his fate by freeing himself from Erda’s (nature’s) laws, which require that all things perish.

Wagner borrowed his concept of “the human species’ bond of union, its aptitude for Conscious Suffering,” by the way, from Feuerbach:

[Footnote:] “The material, the source of suffering, is the universal heart, the common bond of all beings.” [63F-EOC: p. 54]

In sum, the artist-hero Siegfried and his muse of inspiration Bruennhilde, considered as one person, the genius, enjoying the ecstasy of unconscious artistic inspiration, feels “as if” he has transcended all the bounds of time and space and causality, but the feeling is not the fact. And Siegfried owes his inspiration to an entire past history going all the way back to earliest man’s involuntary and unconscious creation – in a collective dream - of an antidote for fear and meaninglessness, the gods. Siegfried took aesthetic possession of this hoard of knowledge when he took Alberich’s Ring from Fafner, which now embodies man’s objective hoard of knowledge of the world, and then woke his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration, Bruennhilde, through whose “Wonder” that hoard of terrible knowledge, the source of man’s woe, can be sublimated into bliss. It is that existential fear of death and chaos which is the true muse for both religion and art.

We leave this key scene with an afterthought. After he came under Schopenhauer’s sway in 1854 Wagner read quite a lot of literature on Hinduism and Buddhism, both European studies of these Indian thought-worlds, and translations into German of major texts from those traditions. A major concept in Buddhism is of course that, with the passing of one’s life, one continually reincarnates until, through exercise of merit, through meditation on the true nature of things, one ultimately escapes the endless cycle of death and rebirth. I have noted that Siegfried, while immersed in his unconscious artistic inspiration, undergoes a figurative death and rebirth each time he emerges from his unconscious inspiration, the silent depths, into the light of day, to create and perform an artwork. Wagner merged these two concepts and came to regard his own endless cycle of death and rebirth - the continual need to plunge into his unconscious for heavenly inspiration, only to wake again in the mundane, gross world, within which, under great duress, he produced his music-dramas for an audience - as something to be overcome. Siegfried’s descent from Bruennhilde’s mountaintop, after achieving ecstatic union with his unconscious mind, to present the artistic product of this heavenly union to the wider world, finds a parallel in Wagner’s description below of

Go back a page
765
Go forward a page
© 2011 Paul Heise. All rights reserved. Website by Mindvision.