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Twilight of the Gods: Page 792
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himself in her, and that she knows for him what he doesn’t know, his true identity, history, and fate). Siegfried’s only possession besides himself (in a sense it is himself), he says, is his sword, which Siegfried himself re-forged. In this passage Wagner makes a distinction crucial to his weltanschauung, that the wealth we create of our own selves is our only true birthright, and inherited property and power and status is an evil not to be compared with what one earns through one’s own genius and labor, the foundation of that heroic self-worth of the type which is represented by Siegfried’s Waelsung heritage, embodied by #71:

[Speaking of [P. 277] “The plainnest type of heroism … ,” Wagner found this incarnate in the Greek Herakles and in the Siegfried of Teutonic myth, and characterized this archetypal hero in the following way:] [P. 278] “He knows no fear (Furcht), but respect (Ehrfurcht) … ; whilst honour (Ehre) itself is the sum of all personal worth, and therefore can neither be given nor received, as is practiced to-day … . From Pride and Honour sprang the rule that, not property ennobles man, but man this property … .” [1088W-{6-8/81} Herodom and Christendom – 3rd Supplement to ‘Religion and Art’: PW Vol. VI, p. 277-288]

Gunther’s intent to win an honor (Bruennhilde) which only Siegfried’s courage is equal to, and his dependence on inherited wealth, status, and power, marks him as the antithesis of the Wagnerian hero Siegfried, the self-created, original, revolutionary artist-hero.

Though it was easy to grasp the rationale of #71’s presence here, for a long time I couldn’t entirely grasp the connection between #141 and Siegfried’s remark, but I found a potential solution in Feuerbach. In his Thoughts on Death and Immortality he speaks of the mortality of the human body as a loving sacrifice made by egoism, the particular and individual, to the wellbeing of the entire cosmos, that life is only possible with death, that the God to whom we sacrifice ourselves is merely the transitoriness of all things in nature:

[P. 20] “… love is not tranquil but is pure activity; love is consuming, sacrificing, burning; love is fire. It is wrath on that which exists singly and selfishly. The human, a particular being, is inflamed by consuming wrath on his natural selfishness and singleness. (…)

God is the ultimate ground of all transitoriness. (…)

[P. 21] For death is produced by an inner longing of nature … .” [TDI: P. 20-21] [Note: This extract from Feuerbach is not included in Appendix II, the anthology of Feuerbach and Wagner extracts.]

It dawned on me that this is a key aspect of the symbolism of Siegfried’s re-forged sword Nothung, which in part stands for Feuerbach’s notion of natural necessity (willing one’s own death as a sacrificial and necessary precondition for mortal life). The first segment of #57, #57a, is based on the octave drop of Erda’s vocal line as she sings “Endet,” the last word of her proclamation (accompanied by #53) of the transience of all things, “All things that are, end.” And #57b, of course, is based in the Primal Nature Arpeggio #1, which in turn produces Erda’s #53 through a harmonic enrichment. Thanks to Feuerbach Wagner associates the creativity of the artist-hero with nature’s necessity, the creativity of evolutionary change, an acceptance of physical mortality and a renunciation of spiritual transcendence, the only transcendence available in a secular world being the immortality, or ageless youthfulness, of inspired art.

Hagen, however, begs to differ with Siegfried. Hagen has learned that Siegfried is not at all without property or wealth, because it is said of Siegfried that he is the lord of the Nibelung Hoard.

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