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Twilight of the Gods: Page 966
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to suppress Wotan’s (man’s) objective, fearful knowledge of the terrible world, and sublimate and transform it into beauty, through inspired art. Thus, as the Woodbird said, the lover’s secret is how one draws bliss from woe, or, as Wotan said of Loge’s cunning, how one draws advantage from the enemy’s envy. Wotan’s fear thus is transformed into Siegfried’s bliss.

Thanks to Siegfried’s having made his unconscious mind indistinguishable from his conscious mind, by virtue of having transformed himself into his audience (Gunther), so that his audience could share secrets of inspiration unknown even to Siegfried himself, the abhorrent knowledge Wotan once feared to speak to himself aloud has been exposed as identical with the aesthetic bliss the artist-hero Siegfried distilled from it. Thus Siegfried invokes the seeming oxymoron: “blissful terror.” Siegfried had to learn fear from Bruennhilde in order to learn from her also how to forget this fear, just as Wotan once sought both full knowledge of what he feared from Bruennhilde’s mother Erda, and also knowledge of how he might end his fear from her. Siegfried now, in a blinding flash of self-knowledge, recognizes these two, seemingly antithetical states of mind, as one. Siegfried had not feared loving union with Bruennhilde because he feared that he would lose himself in her, but rather, because he (Wotan’s reincarnation) feared that he would find his true self in her.

#141, therefore, is not merely a symbol for the mystic loss of ego, but rather a symbol for what Siegfried did not - or could not afford to - know, knowledge of his own true identity and history which Bruennhilde knew for him, thereby protecting him from fearful self-knowledge of the fate which had paralyzed Wotan. Thus we hear #87, the Fate Motif, at Siegfried’s last words, as he says that Bruennhilde gives her his greeting, reminding us that in S.3.3, when Bruennhilde - accompanied by #141 - told Siegfried that what he didn’t know, she knew for him, we also heard #87. What Bruennhilde knew for Siegfried was Wotan’s runes, the entirety of his confession of all that Wotan loathed about himself and his corrupt history, and could not bear to contemplate. What he couldn’t tolerate was the thought that egoism and fear are the ultimate source of inspiration for all our transcendent ideals and our most sublime sentiments. Freeing Siegfried from this knowledge, Bruennhilde’s magic left him free to create authentic art, which could embrace the most terrible things as subject for artistic treatment, without fear, because art, particularly the art of music, idealizes the real, transmuting the terrible into an object of play.

With Siegfried’s death, Hagen has realized Feuerbach’s dream, the exposure of the religious mysteries as nothing more than man’s consoling fantasy, leaving the way open to a new philosophy of materialism which, however, most men can’t abide, once they fully grasp its horrific and saddening implications, its insupportable cost:

“ … man’s task in the state is not only to believe what he wishes, but to believe what is reasonable, not only to believe, but to know what he can and must know if he is to be a free and cultivated man. Here no barrier to human knowledge can excuse us. In the realm of nature, to be sure, there are still many things we do not understand; but the secrets of religion spring from man himself, and he is capable of knowing them down to their remotest depths. And because he can know them, he ought to know them. (…) The elimination of this lie is the condition for a new, energetic mankind.” [284F-LER: p. 219]

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