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Twilight of the Gods: Page 977
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the paradise of the time before the Fall, the time before the onset of human consciousness) and Hagen withdraws in awe, taken aback by this seemingly supernatural intervention.

What is the meaning of this unnatural incident? The fact that Siegfried’s dead arm rises to the sound of #57 suggests we should analyze the components of #57ab again to seek our clue. Segment #57a (the octave drop associated with Erda’s statement that everything that is will “end”), and segment #57b (the Primal Nature Motif with which the Ring began, representing natural necessity, and the innocence of nature before the Fall), reversed, recall Erda’s remark to Wotan in R.4 that “(#53 [a variant of #57b) All things that are, (#Octave Drop [the basis of #57a) end! (#54) A day of darkness dawns for the gods!” In this climax to the Ring drama, knowing as we do that Siegfried’s and Bruennhilde’s love has failed to restore lost innocence except temporarily, in specific works of art, and that Wotan’s desire that their love would redeem the gods from Alberich’s curse has been thwarted, the only redemption left to Wotan is his original plan to end it all. And Wotan can only bring about this desired end by acquiescing in Alberich’s curse, resigning himself to the twilight of the gods and the failure and death of his vaunted hero and heroine, through which alone the weight of Alberich’s curse, man’s anguished consciousness that his quest for transcendent value is futile, can be lifted. In other words, the curse had to be fulfilled, with unwitting aid by Wotan and his proxies, its victims, before it could be lifted. So now #57 stands for its original source, pre-Fallen, guiltless, guileless natural existence, natural necessity, the submersion of the Ring of human consciousness and its return to primal nature and preconsciousness. The heroes, villains, and all their concerns are re-absorbed into the ephemera of an incessantly changing world without end.

That Siegfried’s hand rises up from the dead to warn Hagen, the objective “Knower,” away from it, has elements both of the supernatural and also of the fact that nature itself, in the end, with its space and time, matter and energy, and laws of motion and evolution, remains mysterious and in some ultimate sense beyond the grasp of objective reason. The implication is that, just when scientific man feels he has all the secrets of nature in his grasp, because he has emancipated himself from the self-made delusions which had obscured her bleak grandeur, they ultimately elude him. Nature swallows man (as the Rhine will soon swallow Hagen, desperately grasping for the Ring), in whom nature becomes, from time to time in the course of evolution, self-consciousness, but man does not digest nature, except in part. And there is more to come. With the final cosmic cataclysm of the Ring we will have to pose the question whether man’s Promethean quest to grasp the “all” leads inevitably to its destruction.

[T.3.3: D]

Bruennhilde, now at peace with all that has happened in the course of the Ring drama, including the tragic part that both she and her lover Siegfried played, often unwittingly, in it, steps forward to judge Wotan and laud her dead husband Siegfried. Here’s how Porges, presumably recording Wagner’s own opinion, described the significance of this moment:

“As Bruennhilde ceremonially strides forward, Hagen picks up his shield from the ground. The scene has the grandeur of antique tragedy; Bruennhilde resembles, as Wagner put it, ‘an ancient German prophetess’. All human passions extinguished, she is now a pure eye of knowledge – and

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