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Twilight of the Gods: Page 774
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unworthy, Siegfried’s muse Bruennhilde, we must remember that #24 transforms into #139, which was the motif associated in S.3.3 with Siegfried’s waking his muse Bruennhilde from sleep, after passing through Loge’s protective ring of fire, a deed only an authentically unconsciously inspired hero can perform. The implication is that Hagen is seducing Gunther into seeking something sacred and perhaps even dangerous, some mystery which only Siegfried could penetrate, for which Gunther’s character is ill-suited. #24, appropriately, also served to illustrate Bruennhilde’s description, in V.2.4, of the bliss Siegmund would experience at the hands of the Valkyries in Valhalla.

Hagen notes that both Gunther and Gutrune remain unmarried, and suggests that Gunther woo the noblest woman in the world. As he describes how Bruennhilde lives high on a mountaintop surrounded by a ring of fire, motifs such as #77 and #35 remind us of her Valkyrie status and of Loge’s fire, but Hagen reproduces the description of Bruennhilde which the Woodbird gave to Siegfried word for word, repeating her formulaic expressions, and is even accompanied by the Woodbird’s motifs #128b and #129b as he informs Gunther that only one who breaks through the ring of fire can sue for her love. Hagen, it appears, is privy to knowledge hidden from others. Gunther doubts his courage is equal to this, and Hagen notes that, indeed, only Siegfried the Waelsung (#71) is capable of performing this feat. Hagen suggests Siegfried as a husband for Gutrune. Interestingly, as Gunther’s motif #152 has developed during this dialogue it has more and more resembled #115, the “Power of the Gods Motif,” in the form which comes to represent the irony that the powerful gods are predestined to destruction. Indeed, Siegfried’s misadventure among the Gibichungs will bring about the twilight of the gods.

Though in this scene what seems a conventional politico-economic marriage alliance is afoot, through our previous experience we know that Bruennhilde is not merely the noblest or most beautiful of women, but that she represents man’s collective unconscious, his muse of religious revelation and unconscious artistic inspiration. She possesses forbidden knowledge of the religious mysteries, so to speak. In Hagen’s suggestion that Gunther would attain the highest glory and fame by possessing her we might surmise that Hagen, the embodiment of Alberich’s greed for the worldly and loveless power which only objective knowledge in science and technology can offer us, is effectively telling Gunther this power can best be obtained by coming to know oneself and one’s world fully, without reserving any privileged realm of the imagination and heart which is (or at least is considered to be) irreducible to reason. Alberich can only restore his lost Ring power if he wholly discredits all the beliefs, values, and even refined feelings which man has traditionally projected onto the gods, and on to man’s moral and artistic heroes.

The ultimate expression of the Rhinedaughters’ promise to Alberich that if he renounced love he could attain world-mastery is the notion that we can only fully tap nature’s secrets, and only fully exploit our fellow men for the sake of power, if we cast aside all moral reservations and all metaphysical illusions of man’s exalted status. The most exalted religious faith and the most sublime art are presumably only of value if we do not examine them objectively too closely (this is the whole point of Lohengrin’s prohibition on divulging the secret of his identity and origin), since they satisfy our longings, our feelings, rather than the requirements of reason and objective knowledge of the truth. The highest goal of science and technology is supreme power, which can only be obtained if we discredit all the illusions which prevent us from fully realizing that power. For Hagen, we will see, is not at all interested in furthering Gunther’s fame or glory, but interested

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