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Twilight of the Gods: Page 877
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in the tale, the undoing of the hero and heroine. Siegfried’s unwitting yet reprehensible involvement in forcing Bruennhilde, his muse of inspiration, into an unloving marriage with the coward and hypocrite Gunther, is nothing less than Wagner’s metaphor for his own unwitting and involuntary betrayal of the secret of his unconscious artistic inspiration to his own audience, through his musical motifs. Wagner’s musical motifs link conscious feeling with subliminal, unconscious knowledge, and hold the key to those inner and formerly hidden processes to which Wagner claimed to have unique, privileged access, by virtue of being both the author and composer of his music-dramas. And Siegfried himself is wed to a false muse Gutrune, who evidently is Wagner’s metaphor for the natural impulse of the artist to share the ecstasy of his sacred - and private - inspiration with his audience in a public production, which in this unique case – coming at it does at the culmination of the first (last?) phase of cultural evolution - has tragic consequences.

Another clue to what is at stake in this double marriage is Hagen’s endlessly repeated mantra that “Danger [“Noth”] is here!” This danger Hagen warns of is accompanied by the Twilight of the Gods Motif #54 in its definitive form, so the danger which Siegfried’s betrayal of his muse Bruennhilde brings to man is the potential loss of all the illusions of transcendent value upon which man has staked his life’s meaning. This “Noth” is Wotan’s divine “Noth,” which he confessed to Bruennhilde in V.2.2. The danger (“Noth”) which Hagen has deliberately brought here to Gibichung Hall is the risk that the hoard of knowledge which Siegfried’s muse of unconscious artistic inspiration, Bruennhilde, held for him up until now, and from whose wounds she protected him, he himself is unwittingly going to dredge up from the silent depths to the light of day, as Alberich once foresaw (R.3). #170, a variant of #5 (Alberich’s “Wehe! Wehe!”), is the hallmark of Alberich’s revenge on the world for not granting him love, i.e., for his inability to find transcendent meaning in the real world. His revenge consists in denying the consolation of the illusion of transcendent value to those who, unlike him, have staked their life on it. Alberich is unable to evade the truth and won’t let anyone else evade it either: he won’t let Wotan and the gods draw consolation and bliss from that Ring power which it cost Alberich so much “Noth” (anguish) to obtain. Therefore Hagen, the agent of Alberich’s revenge on the gods for denying Mother Nature’s bitter truth, is going to compel all the living to acknowledge the lovelessness of the cosmos and of our fellow human beings, just as he has. Only in this way can he supplant the illusory consolations of religious mythology and man’s bid for transcendent meaning, up till now expressed in loving kindness, heroic altruism, and art, with the chilling power which can only be won through objective knowledge and reason.

Hagen pursues this theme - that in winning Bruennhilde for Gunther Siegfried has introduced “Noth,” danger and anguish, into the Gibichung realm - obsessively. When the Gibichung vassals demand to know what “Noth” (danger) is here, and ask if Gunther is in “Noth” (danger), Hagen answers that Gunther is bringing a fearsome woman, his new wife, home. When the vassals ask whether Gunther has triumphed over the “Noth” (danger), Hagen avers that the dragon-killer (Siegfried) has averted the “Noth” (danger). This “Noth” is the secret, forbidden source of that unconscious artistic inspiration, existential fear, by virtue of which the primal Folk gave unwitting and involuntary birth, in a collective dream, to the gods. This source of allegedly divine inspiration, our universal existential fear, which really comes from within us, is identical to that unconscious inspiration through which the single artist of more modern times produces authentic art. Siegfried, archetype for all secular artist-heroes, all authentically unconsciously inspired artists, and particularly the Wagnerian music-dramatist, had formerly protected his audience (represented by

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