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Twilight of the Gods: Page 884
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blissful couples I see here resplendent (:#155): (He draws Bruennhilde closer towards them.) (#171: [or #156?]) Bruennhilde – and Gunther, (#156?) (#156?:) Gutrune – and (#109) Siegfried. (#109?)

This scene has shocking resonance, for we must imagine that, allegorically speaking, Gunther, Wagner’s audience, has laid claim to that which only the unconsciously inspired artist Siegfried ought to have had access to, the muse of art, and presents her here as his hostage, a present to him from the authentic artist himself. Heretofore, inspired artists had presented redemptive artworks to their audience, waking dreams or allegories in which the true, original source of inspiration was forgotten. But now, instead of presenting his audience with a redemptive work of art, Siegfried has presented them with his muse of inspiration, the hidden source of his art, the womb which formerly gave birth to that magical art, and has therefore made his audience a present of his once hidden, unconscious source of inspiration, the terrible “Noth,” or existential woe, which the artist-hero must transform and sublimate into aesthetic bliss, to make his inspiration palatable to, and redemptive for, his audience. We hear #164, the motif which expresses Bruennhilde’s gradual awareness that the blissful love she has shared with Siegfried (unconscious inspiration of his new adventures in art) is actually the most horrifying instance of Wotan’s punishment of her for living for love, and the ultimate fulfillment of Alberich’s curse on the Ring. Here it reminds us that, just as Siegfried’s father Siegmund was ultimately only a product of Wotan’s existential fear and all that he loathed in himself, similarly, Siegfried is not free, but entirely implicated in Wotan’s sin against the truth, for which he and the gods will be punished by Alberich’s curse on his Ring.

Yet Gunther presents Bruennhilde - who carries this unbearable woe within her – to his fellow men, seeking their approval of his great triumph, as if, in winning her, he had reached the apogee of joy of which human life is capable, the greatest honor it is possible to receive, a gift of the gods, the summit of human ideals, the very essence and distillation of our entire religio-artistic heritage. And this in fact is how one feels experiencing the entirety of the Ring, the most profoundly moving and ecstatic of artworks, which nonetheless sublimates the most abominable and unmentionable of truths.

Gunther then presents the two couples to each other, Bruennhilde and Gunther, Gutrune and – Siegfried! Siegfried’s name calls forth #109 from the orchestra, and of course startles Bruennhilde with the greatest blow she will ever suffer. #109 combines #57 - the motif representing the Waelsung’s sword Nothung, which in turn is the incarnation of Wotan’s grand idea for redeeming the gods from Alberich’s curse – with Siegfried’s Youthful Horncall Motif #103. Wotan’s hope for redemption through Siegfried’s and Bruennhilde’s love ends right here.

[T.2.4: B]

Bruennhilde raises her eyes and cannot hide her dismay, causing everyone around her to note her disturbance with curiosity and concern:

 

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