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Twilight of the Gods: Page 857
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Bruennhilde holds for Siegfried the knowledge of his true identity and historical context, so that Siegfried’s conscious mind will not be troubled and can remain free, innocent, spontaneous, and childlike) that allowed him to co-opt Alberich’s Ring power without paying for it in “Noth” (anguish).

Accompanied now by a new variant of #17 (the embryonic form of the “Ring Motif,” #19, derived from music to which the Rhinedaughters sang of their joy in the Rhinegold), Alberich explains that Siegfried has now gained every power, that both Valhalla and Nibelheim bow down before him. In other words, the conflict between feeling and thought, religious faith and science, is resolved by returning to pre-fallen feeling, or music. Perhaps this explains the presence here of #17, a more innocent embryonic version of what later developed into the Ring Motif #19 (and later of course into the first segment of the Valhalla Motif #20a), as if Siegfried’s art has reversed the natural flow of evolution, retreating from thought back into feeling. Alberich adds with dismay that even his curse grows feeble in the face of the fearless hero, for Siegfried doesn’t know what the Ring is worth, and makes no use of its coveted power. Siegfried does know what the Ring is worth, and does know what its use is (the Woodbird told him, subliminally), but only unconsciously, for Bruennhilde holds this knowledge for him, and it is through her, his muse of inspiration and unconscious mind, that he can safely make “use” of Alberich’s Ring, Alberich’s repressed hoard of knowledge, by drawing unconscious inspiration from it to create his redemptive art. Therefore, while it is true that he does not openly wield the Ring’s power, the power of objective knowledge and reason, he does draw subliminal inspiration from the Ring (i.e., Alberich’s and Wotan’s hoard of forbidden knowledge). But Siegfried is wholly unconscious of this use that he makes of the Ring, and therefore seemingly innocent of Wotan’s sin (which Siegfried nonetheless perpetuates unwittingly).

Finally, in despair at Siegfried’s seeming invulnerability to the Ring curse (the curse of consciousness), Alberich remarks, strangely (accompanied by #103, “Siegfried’s Youthful Horn Call”), that laughing in loving desire, Siegfried burns his life away. This echoes the Feuerbachian notion that those who have embraced the real world and acknowledged - and even willed - the necessity of their mortality, the transitoriness of the cosmos, make their life a sacrifice to the whole, the cosmos, by burning it away. This concept Wagner associated previously with Motif #141, the motif which represents Bruennhilde’s suggestion that she is Siegfried’ self (Siegfried can, in other words, lose his identity in her, because she knows his true identity for him, so he need not be limited by it), and that what he does not know, his fate (#87: his historical context and natural preconditions), she knows for him.

Alberich decides the only thing that can help them now is to destroy Siegfried. To Alberich’s question whether Hagen is sleeping, Hagen answers that Siegfried, to his own destruction, serves Hagen even now, as we hear #167, the so-called “Murder Motif,” again.

What would be the consequence of Alberich’s and Hagen’s victory over the gods (religious faith) and their proxies, the Waelsungs (moral heroes and secular artists in whom religious feeling lives on)? First would come the discrediting of the religious impulse to escape our natural limitations, to transcend natural law and break our subjection to our inherent egoism, which is the basis of religious beliefs, and the final stage would be the purgation of those religious feelings which live on in art and other expressions of our religious heritage, like the morality of altruistic self-sacrifice,

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