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Twilight of the Gods: Page 843
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Siegfried’s mother Sieglinde and murdered his grandmother, afterward selling Sieglinde in loveless marriage to Hunding. It is as if Siegfried has become Alberich himself, and the love Siegfried and Bruennhilde share has revealed itself as the very essence of Alberich’s curse on the Ring, a fact symbolized of course by Siegfried giving Bruennhilde Alberich’s Ring as the seal of love in their marriage.

Now we grasp the ultimate meaning of #164 (and therefore the meaning of the entire family of motifs which stem from Wotan’s Spear, #21, such as #81AB, #96ab, and #137), heard here as Bruennhilde says she now sees the sense of her sentence. This, indeed, is the punishment Wotan had warned Bruennhilde of in V.3.3, a punishment which would logically follow from Bruennhilde’s choice to live for love without bothering to face the objective truth which troubled Wotan, his divine “Noth.” And her ultimate shame is yet to come: once she recognizes that it was Siegfried in disguise who abducted her, the full force of his betrayal of their love will smite her. She will realize that the unconsciously inspired artist-hero himself has - in giving his muse away to his audience (Gunther and the Gibichungs) - also made his audience privy to Wotan’s unspoken secret, the secret Bruennhilde had kept for Wotan, and from whose wounds of foresight she had protected Siegfried. Siegfried will have - in effect - allowed his audience to share the secret of his own unconscious clairvoyance, granting them insight into his – and therefore their – inner mental processes, which it had been the sole underlying purpose of religious faith and inspired art to hide from us.

Wotan’s warning in V.3.3 to Bruennhilde that in making her fateful choice to live for Wotan’s dream of redeeming the gods of Valhalla from Alberich’s curse (a dream he by then had recognized to be futile), she would pay an unbearable price, calls to mind what Wagner described as the Flying Dutchman’s feeling of guilt in seeking redemption through the heroine Senta’s love. The Dutchman, according to Wagner, is afraid that if Senta offers to grant him redemption through her love, but fails in her purpose, she herself will share the Dutchman’s fate of an irredeemable, wandering existence:

“… his love for Senta displays itself at once in terror of the danger she herself incurs by reaching out a rescuing hand to him. It comes over him as a [P. 216] hideous crime, and in his passionate remonstrance against her sharing in his fate he becomes a human being through and through … .” [596W-{1/53} Remarks on Performing The Flying Dutchman: PW Vol. III, p. 215]

Wagner himself said (in a passage previously cited) that in reconfiguring the plot of the Ring in order to make Wotan, instead of Siegfried, the main focus of the drama, he realized Wotan is a kind of Flying Dutchman (both are, of course, Wandering Jews in the sense of wandering the world without hope of redemption until the judgment day, i.e., until the Twilight of the Gods). The full measure of the punishment Senta (or Bruennhilde) will endure by choosing to fight for the Dutchman’s (or Wotan’s) redemption, and willingness to pay the price entailed if this fails, arises from the fact that all such efforts to redeem mankind’s emotional attachment to the illusion of transcendent value are futile, precisely because this longing depends for its satisfaction on the maintenance of a consoling illusion, and the repression of the bitter truth, which is predestined to rise to consciousness at some point in the future.

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