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Twilight of the Gods: Page 821
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heard here) he nonetheless bowed to her entreaty that he protect her sleep with a ring of fire to bar all from waking her except the fearless. Bruennhilde concludes: “(#96b Variant) So his (#139 Variant) [is there any #81B?]) punishment made me thrice-blessed. (#140 Variant) (#92) The most glorious of heroes (#139 Variant) won me as wife; (#139 Variant) in his love I exult and glory today. (She embraces Waltraute) (#163) Were you lured here, sister, by my lot? (#163) Do you want to feast on my joy and share in the fate that befell me?” Though Wotan had warned Bruennhilde in V.3.3 that since she had decided to live for love and ignore his divine “Noth” (his an anguished recognition of the futility of living for love, which kept Wotan from openly supporting love in Alberich’s loveless world), her punishment for her disobedience would follow naturally as the consequence of this choice she made, Bruennhilde has now concluded that Wotan’s punishment (identified motivally with #81B and later with variants such as #137 and #164) has made her thrice-blessed, because its end result was her blissful marriage to Siegfried. And this is precisely Bruennhilde’s fateful mistake! She has set herself up for tragic, irredeemable failure. In the end, Bruennhilde will understand that her blissful, loving union with Siegfried was the very essence of Alberich’s curse on the Ring, and her ultimate punishment in living for love in the face of the unbearable truth.

In other words, Wotan’s nihilist desire for self-destruction in resigned acknowledgment of the impossibility of sustaining belief in the Gods - knowing as he did that Alberich’s victory over the gods (or truth’s victory over falsehood) was inevitable - had found temporary relief in the development of inspired secular art, in which religious feeling (love) could live on, seemingly freed from religion’s innermost contradiction (Wotan’s Noth), the egoism and existential fear at the root of the religious belief in man’s transcendent value. But this refuge of religious impulse in feeling, or music, is itself predestined to destruction by the rise to consciousness, from the silent depths of the unconscious, of Alberich’s (and Wotan’s) Hoard of knowledge. Nonetheless, Wotan’s punishment of Bruennhilde with complete severance from the gods (secular art’s seemingly complete independence of its religious foundation) transformed his own woe, or “Noth,” into Bruennhilde’s bliss. The secular artist-hero could not obtain unconscious artistic inspiration from his muse Bruennhilde, and offer its product - the redemptive work of art - to man, for his redemption from Alberich’s curse of consciousness, if Wotan and the Gods had not “gone under,” i.e., if Wotan had not repressed the conflict between religious belief in the veracity of illusions, and science’s knowledge of the truth which overthrows religious self-deception, into his unconscious mind Bruennhilde, in whom Wotan was able to transmute his most disturbing thoughts into harmless, healing music. This was what the Woodbird meant when it told Siegfried the lovers’ (i.e., the unconsciously inspired artist’s) secret, how to draw bliss from woe.

The new motif #163, whose recurrences are I believe entirely limited to the current scene, seems to convey a sense of the irony in Bruennhilde’s false interpretation of the reason for Waltraute’s intrepid visit. Once Waltraute explains the reason for her visit, Bruennhilde will understand that Waltraute sought her out not because Wotan can now openly acknowledge Bruennhilde’s love for Siegfried, but because that love is so wanting in redemptive capacity that Wotan is now desperate for Bruennhilde to cast the Ring back into the Rhine River to dissolve its curse in the waters, lest some irrevocable, irredeemable tragedy ensue. Wotan, it seems, is aware that Siegfried and Bruennhilde are about to betray their love, and therefore betray Wotan’s hope that Bruennhilde and Siegfried could redeem the world and the gods from Alberich’s curse. All this seems to be conveyed by #163, which we may regard as a motif bespeaking the ironic gap between the positive

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