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Twilight of the Gods: Page 834
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We are now introduced to a new variant of #17, the embryonic form of the Ring Motif, as Bruennhilde tells Waltraute that, more than the glory of the immortals, the Ring is to her. This is an agitated but optimistic variant expressing Bruennhilde’s passionate love for Siegfried, which is now embodied for Bruennhilde by Alberich’s Ring, their wedding Ring and symbol for their bond of love. This #17 variant might well be called “#17 or #19 Triumphant.” What it represents is Siegfried’s victory as an artist over the dread, dismay, and trauma engendered by Alberich’s hoard of objective knowledge of nature, and human nature, which Siegfried took possession of musically, or aesthetically, and has now sublimated from repressed woe (“Noth”) into bliss through the magic of his artistic inspiration. {{ Could the #19/#20a hybrid which is heard in R.3-4 as Loge and Wotan lead Alberich, captive, out of Nibelheim to the meadow below Valhalla, be the basis for this #17 variant? }}

Bruennhilde continues in the same vein, telling Waltraute proudly that one glance at the Ring’s bright-shining gold, one flash of its noble fire, is worth far more than all the gods’ eternal joy, {{ as we hear what sounds very like a figure heard in V.3.3 when Wotan finally agreed to insure that Bruennhilde would only be woken and won by a fearless hero. }} Bruennhilde says – accompanied now by the “Redemption by Love (i.e., unconsciously inspired Art) Motif” #134 – that this is so because Siegfried’s love shines blissfully from the Ring. And this of course is the love, defined motivally by #134, which Bruennhilde said she felt, and Wotan thought, but Siegfried said he did not grasp conceptually but only feelingly. Bruennhilde holds the knowledge of what Wotan thought for Siegfried, so Siegfried can be freed from the terrors of Wotan’s thought yet safely draw artistic inspiration from it, and sublimate it into blissful feeling.

Now Bruennhilde nostalgically calls up remembrance of the day Siegfried woke and won her, and of the love they shared, orchestrally expressed here by #149 (the motival emblem of Bruennhilde’s status as Siegfried’s muse of artistic inspiration, from T.P.2) and #140 (their initial lovers’ greeting after Siegfried has wakened Bruennhilde in S.3.3). That love, Bruennhilde says, the Ring embodies for her. Therefore, Bruennhilde tells Waltraute (#164, conveying Wotan’s understanding that redemption through love has failed, coming in at this point) to go hence to the gods’ hallowed council and tell them the following: “(#18 Variant:) I shall never relinquish love, [#18’s second segment sounding optimistic] they shall never take love from me, (#19 Variant) though Valhalla’s glittering pomp should moulder into dust.”

This is the first time the complete, definitive Motif #18 has been heard since Wotan consigned Bruennhilde to sleep in V.3.3, taking away her godhead, and leaving her to be won solely by a fearless though mortal hero. Bruennhilde is basically affirming what Wotan originally affirmed when he decided to yield the Ring of consciousness to the Giants (i.e., to feeling) rather than fulfill Erda’s prophecy of the twilight of the gods by holding on to the Ring, that she would rather live for love than acknowledge the objective truth. But Wotan’s motive was fear, Bruennhilde’s love, a seeming contradiction only until we realize that in her rejection of Valhalla’s eternal bliss she is renouncing religious faith (predicated on fear of the truth) in favor of secular art (the sublimation of Wotan’s existential fear into love), in which the religious longing for transcendent value lives on, minus religious faith’s insupportable practical claim on the truth. #134, significantly, Wagner described as sounding like the herald of a new religion, i.e., Feuerbach’s new religion of secular art.

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