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Twilight of the Gods: Page 872
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Siegfried then who overcame Bruennhilde, Siegfried insists that Bruennhilde yielded to Gunther’s strength, i.e., to Siegfried posing as Gunther, though Siegfried is decorously striving to rationalize the situation in order to spare Gutrune’s feelings. Starting at this point the compound motif, #33/#42, expresses Gutrune’s quibbles about Siegfried’s tale. #13’s presence as Gutrune notes that Bruennhilde slept next to Siegfried reminds us that Bruennhilde is Siegfried’s surrogate Rhine, whose love grants him protection from the wounds of consciousness, the important point here being that he can only secure the gift of her protection from Alberich’s Ring curse by consummating the artist’s loving union with his muse of inspiration, in this case, Bruennhilde.

{{ As Gutrune insists that Siegfried was, then, after all wed to Bruennhilde, we hear what may be a subtle reference to the music describing the steam rising from the cold water cooling the hot red steel of Nothung as Siegfried re-forged his father’s sword. He placed the molten, red-hot steel in a mould, and then plunged it into a bucket of water to cool and stiffen it, a clear metaphor for phallic arousal. Is there any hint of #121 or #122 here, motifs associated with that stage in Siegfried’s re-forging of Nothung, or a #103 Fragment, which was associated in S.1.3 with Siegfried’s labor in re-forging Nothung? }} In the face of Gutrune’s doubts Siegfried insists that though he slept next to Bruennhilde in her cave the night before, he nonetheless remained loyal to both Gutrune and his blood-brother Gunther, and did not violate Bruennhilde or dishonor Gunther or Gutrune. To prove his point Siegfried swears a new oath, reintroducing motif #165 (to which he sang, Nothung in hand, that he would separate himself from Gunther’s bride with the sword, in T.1.3.1), and also #21, referencing Wotan’s spear as a sanction for oaths, as he says: (#165) Twixt east and west – (#57/#21) the north: (pointing to his sword) so close was the distance between them.” Having reassured Gutrune, Siegfried explains how he changed places with Gunther secretly down by the shore of the Rhine, and Gunther is now sailing Siegfried’s boat, with Bruennhilde, back to the Gibichung Hall.

This is one of the surprisingly few passages in the entire Ring which does not seem to serve any specific allegorical purpose, but merely fleshes out the characters so that they come across as fully human, rather than merely walking and emoting metaphors. One of the most extraordinary aspects of the Ring is how beautifully and naturally Wagner was able to create a fully absorbing and convincing human drama, which nonetheless sustains a coherent and ever-developing allegory which is universal in its depth and scope. For Nattiez, however, this passage in the opera comique style does indeed carry allegorical weight. In his reading Gutrune represents the muse of a corrupt operatic form to which the once revolutionary music-dramatist Siegfried has succumbed [Nattiez: p. 84-88] perhaps for profit, and certainly for glory and popularity. Nattiez and I are, in any case, in agreement that Twilight of the Gods contains, among other plot elements, Siegfried’s betrayal of the Wagnerian music-drama, except that in my reading this comes as a natural consequence of that revolutionary artform itself, from within, rather than from a corrupting influence of external origin. What is corrupting in this instance is merely Siegfried’s artistic impulse to present his inspiration to the public, any public, thereby risking exposure of the sacred secrets of unconscious religio-artistic inspiration (i.e., the mundane, natural origin of what had formerly been regarded as divine inspiration and revelation) to the conscious mind.

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