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Twilight of the Gods: Page 889
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emerged he asked himself aloud what use they might be, having already forgotten what the Woodbird had told him. The meaning is obvious: Siegfried took possession of knowledge of the Ring’s and Tarnhelm’s use subliminally: he unconsciously possesses knowledge of their use, but has never become conscious of it. And by the same token Bruennhilde’s subliminal teaching, founded on Wotan’s confession, his hoard of runes, has left Siegfried untaught, i.e., unconscious.

Similarly, Siegfried now remains wholly unconscious of having forcibly taken his own Ring from Bruennhilde. Furthermore, the presence of #126 (Fafner’s Fear Motif) and #48 (The Serpent Motif) not only recall Siegfried’s victory over Fafner, but also recall that Siegfried never learned fear from Fafner, but only from Bruennhilde. And the fact that Siegfried speaks in this way, saying of the Ring that he recognizes clearly that he won it by slaying a mighty dragon, suggests that he himself is almost surprised to find it on his finger, in view of the fact that he was not wearing it before he left with Gunther to abduct Bruennhilde. The contents of his unconscious mind apparently are rising to consciousness to contradict what would normally be his rational understanding of time, place, and self, because Siegfried unwittingly ripped the Ring out of Bruennhilde’s protective hands, and has now brought it from the silent depths to the light of day, where its presence contradicts his rational understanding. Ironically, it is Bruennhilde’s gift of magical protection from the wounds of consciousness which makes Siegfried unable to recall clearly anything that happened when he was with her, which might remind him of their former relationship. Similarly, Tannhaeuser forgets the true source of his unconscious artistic inspiration by his muse Venus, in the Venusberg, each times he wakes, figuratively reborn, to create a work of art, originally inspired by Venus, but upon waking attributed to some other source of inspiration. And so we can see here that Hagen’s potion of forgetfulness, #154, a symbol for Wagner’s “Wonder,” is in some strange way a product of Siegfried’s unconscious mind, Bruennhilde. This lends our ever more involved plot a uniquely provocative piquancy.

Furthermore, one might have expected that by now Gunther would begin to suspect that Bruennhilde is the wondrous woman with whom Siegfried told Hagen that he left the Nibelung Ring which he won from Fafner, to keep it safe. Did Gunther hear what Siegfried said to Hagen? Evidently not. In any case, Hagen now steps forward to suggest that if Siegfried took the Ring which, Hagen says, Bruennhilde gave to Gunther, Siegfried must have won it by fraud (represented here by the motif of Hagen’s own potion, #154) and must be punished. But of course Hagen knows perfectly well that Siegfried is the heir to Wotan and Loge, who won the Ring by fraud from his father, Alberich, and it is for this old crime that Siegfried, Wotan’s heir, must pay.

[{{ Is Wagner speaking of #149 in the extract below, or #164? I suspect he alludes to #164, which is based on #137, heard in association with Siegfried’s fear of Bruennhilde in S.3.3:

[P. 408] “Toward noon R. calls me and plays me his ‘inspiration’ – Bruennhilde’s reception by the vassals; her appearance will be characterized by the motive we heard when she becomes frightened of Siegfried, ‘when the other thing overcomes her,’ as R. says.” [806W-{9/4/71} CD Vol. I, p. 408] }}]

 

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