The import of their conjunction here is that Siegfried is now, like Wotan, fallen man, having lost the preconscious innocence which was his hallmark, since he is now becoming too conscious because he is losing the virtue of his unconscious mind (Bruennhilde). But in Nothung’s figurative sense as a phallus it was intended to seed Bruennhilde with the intent of secular art, to restore man’s feeling of innocence. Instead, used now to bar Siegfried from having his redemptive union with his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration, this means that Siegfried’s once redemptive artwork, which would normally have been born of their loving union, will be stillborn, i.e., it will reveal what it was meant to conceal, it will make conscious what should have remained safely unconscious, it will figuratively bring Dark-Alberich’s/Light-Alberich’s hoard of knowledge from the silent depths up to the light of day.
Hagen: (as before: [[ #166: ]] [definitive form, plus #Norn pulses]) Though my mother gave me mettle, I’ve no reason to be thankful (#37:) that she yielded to your cunning: old too early, pale and wan (:#166 [plus #Norn pulses]), (#37:) I hate the happy, am never glad [“hass’ ich die Frohen, freue mich nie!”] (:#37)!
Hagen in a sense is Siegfried’s polar opposite (a sense different from that which distinguishes Hagen’s uncle Mime from Siegfried). While Siegfried has up until now been a hero whose heroism was a product of his unconscious mind, Bruennhilde, holding for him, and protecting him from, Wotan’s hoard of forbidden knowledge which Erda imparted to Wotan, and therefore protecting Siegfried from Alberich’s curse on his Ring, the curse of consciousness, Hagen is too objectively conscious, too wakeful, to enjoy the happiness and joy which stems from Siegfried’s dreamlike ignorance and innocence. Where Siegfried in a sense still dreams (thanks to his special union with his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration Bruennhilde, and thanks to Wotan having consigned Erda, the author of knowledge of all that was, is, and will be, to the oblivion of dreaming, since Erda’s knowledge, as Wotan told her, wanes before Wotan’s will Bruennhilde), Hagen’s hallmark is that he is fully awake, objectively conscious. This is presumably why his father Alberich continually asks Hagen if he is sleeping, and whether he is awake, during their mysterious meeting at night in T.2.1. Motifs #18 and #37, a variant of a portion of #18, effectively stand for the Fall, the exchange of feeling (love) for thought (power) which Alberich made in R.1. This is the Fall through consciousness.
Alberich: He who wrenched (#19 vari:) the ring from me, Wotan, that furious robber, was worsted by his own kind: to the Waelsung he forfeited power and might: (#19/#20a:) in company with the whole kindred of gods (:#19/#20a [dies out]) he awaits his end (#42 end frag) in dread [“Angst”]. Him do I fear no more: he must fall with all the rest!
Just as Alberich’s Ring Curse, the curse of consciousness, embodies the inevitability that man (Light-Alberich/Wotan) would eventually accumulate a hoard of knowledge of himself and nature (gold) which would overthrow his belief in the gods, overthrow religious faith, so the Ring Curse (embodied now by Hagen, Wagner’s metaphor for the secular, scientific, skeptical, objective spirit of the modern era) will eventually expose the true identity of Siegfried’s inspired secular art, its identity as religious faith (Valhalla) reborn in Wagner’s music-drama, the last refuge of dying religion:
Alberich: [[ #167: ]] I – and you: we’ll inherit the world if I’m not deceived in my trust in you, if you share my grief and rage (:#167). (#57) Wotan’s spear (#21:) was split by the Waelsung (#126a) who felled the dragon, Fafner, in combat (#33a frag:; #19:) and, child that he is, (#33a/#19 frag:) won the ring for himself (:#33a/#19 frag): (#17 vari:) every power he has gained; Valhalla and Nibelheim bow down before him; (with a continuing air of secrecy: #17:) even my curse grows feeble in face of the fearless hero: for he does not know what the ring is worth, he makes no use of its coveted power (:#17); (#103) (#103 developed >> laughing, in loving desire, he burns his life away. (#151b:) To destroy him alone avails us now. (#37) Are you sleeping, Hagen, my son?
Hagen: (#151a) To his own destruction he serves me even now. (#167)
When Alberich tells Hagen that the child Siegfried, in gaining possession of the Ring, has gained every power, that both Valhalla (religion: man’s subjectivity reified) and Nibelheim (science: the objective world reified) bow before him, and that Alberich’s curse on his Ring grows feeble before the fearless hero who doesn’t know the Ring’s worth and doesn’t use its power, this is Wagner’s metaphor for the notion that inspired secular art, in freeing itself from staking a claim to the power of truth (the objective power of consciousness, of Alberich’s Ring), whether it be religion’s illusory claim to the truth, or science’s objective claim to the truth, takes aesthetic or musical possession of Alberich’s Ring, as Siegfried has by taking it from Fafner (religious faith’s fear of the truth, fear of knowledge, fear of freedom of inquiry) and placing it in safekeeping with Bruennhilde, Siegfried’s unconscious mind and its language, music, where its potential objective power will be kept safe but not used. The only way to defeat Siegfried is to destroy him, and the only way to do this is to expose him as Wotan’s agent, to make Siegfried himself become self-conscious and reveal what his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration Bruennhilde had concealed even from him, his true identity as Wotan’s heir, as Wotan reborn. It is this to which Hagen refers when he tells his father that to his own destruction Siegfried is serving Fafner. This, of course, is what Wagner himself did in creating the "Ring." It’s plot is self-referential.
Alberich: (#167: #41 frag:) Fearless Hagen, I fathered you to take a firm stand against heroes. (#126a:) Though not strong enough to defeat the dragon (:#126a) (#109) which the Waelsung alone was fated to do – (#167:) I brought up Hagen to feel stubborn hatred (:#167): now he’ll avenge me (#37 vari) and win the ring in contempt of the Waelsung and Wotan. (#20/#151/#42 vari) Do you swear it, Hagen, my son?
Hagen, science alone, was not strong enough to defeat religious man’s fear of the truth, represented by Fafner guarding Alberich’s Hoard, Tarnhelm, and Ring. But what if religious faith and its heir, inspired secular art, are self-betrayed, from within! What if Siegfried’s final and greatest work of art betrays its own secrets to the light of day! Siegfried’s final and greatest work of art will be the narrative he sings, at Hagen’s behest, about his heroic life, and how he came to understand the Woodbird’s song, i.e., how Wagner the music-dramatist came to intuitively grasp the historical and metaphysical significance of music as a refuge for dying religious faith, and depicted this in his "Ring!"
Gutrune: [[ #169: ]] May Freia give you greeting in honour of all women (:#169)!
Siegfried: (#156/#171:) Be open handed and well-disposed to me in my happy state (“Frei und hold, sie nun mir frohem”]: (#110 vari:) today I won you as my wife (:#110 vari).
A poignant allusion to the fact that the gods live on in Siegfried: Gutrune asks Freia (the goddess of divine love and sorrowless youth eternal, who represents mortal man’s bid for transcendent value in the involuntary creation of his gods in collective dreaming, or mythmaking) to give him greeting in honor of all women, and in Siegfried’s answer we hear verbal allusions to Freia and Holda (another name for Freia), and Froh, Freia’s brother. There is considerable irony in Motif #110 being heard here as Siegfried celebrates the fact that he’s won Gutrune, his false muse, for wife, since #110 was introduced in S.1.1 as a motival celebration of Siegfried’s discovery of his birth parents and the broken sword Nothung, and of Siegfried’s newfound freedom from Mime and his loathsome influence.
Hagen: [[ #170>>: ]] Hoiho! Hoiho! Hoho! You men of Gibich, bestir yourselves (:#170)! (#5:) Woe! Woe! To arms! To arms (:#5)! (#171:) To arms! To arms! To arms throughout the land! [[ #171>>: ]] Goodly weapons! Sturdy weapons, sharp for the fray (:#171)! (#152) (#54 vari:) danger [“Noth”] is here! Danger [“Noth”]! (#54/#5:) Woe! Woe (:#54/#5)! [[ #170 >>: ]] Hoho! Hoiho! Hoho!
(Hagen remains in the same position on the rock. Armed vassals enter hurriedly over the various hillpaths, running in singly, then in increasing numbers, before assembling on the shore outside the hall. #168?)
Vassals: [[ #172: ]] Why does the horn ring out? Why does it call us to battle? We come in arms, we come with weapons (:#172). Hagen! Hagen! Hoiho! Hoiho! (#54 based vari:) What danger [“Noth”] is here? What foe is near? Who bids us fight? Is Gunther in danger [“Noth”] (:#54-based vari)?
Hagen: (still in his former position on the raised ground at the back: #161) Arm yourselves well and do not rest! (#171:) Gunther you must welcome: he’s wooed a wife for himself.
Vassals: (#172:) Does danger threaten him? Is the enemy at his heels (:#172)?
Hagen: A fearsome woman he’s bringing home.
Vassals: (#172:) Is he being pursued by her kinsmen’s hostile vassals (:#172)?
Hagen: (#37:) He’s coming alone: no one’s following (:#37).
Vassals: (#172:) So he triumphed over the danger [“Noth”]? So he triumphed in the fray? Tell us (:#172)?
Hagen: The dragon-killer averted the danger [“Noth”]: (#103 vari) Siegfried the hero made sure he was safe [“Heil”]. (#171)
This passage is a crucial but subliminal reference to how Siegfried’s handing his authentic muse of unconscious artistic inspiration, and her unspoken secret (Wotan’s hoard of runes, his confession of the inevitable twilight of the gods which Erda imparted to him), symbolized now by Alberich’s Ring, over to his audience, represented by Gunther and the Gibichungs, brings about the twilight of the gods, for, as Alberich suggests that danger (“Noth”) is near, as Gunther is approaching with the abducted Bruennhilde whom Siegfried won for him, we hear the Twilight of the Gods Motif #54 several times. The “Noth” or danger is actually the divine “Noth” to which Wotan alluded when in V.2.2 he exploded in despair, prompting Bruennhilde to persuade him to confide in her and make his confession to her.
Gunther: (#77 frag/#164 vari: presenting Bruennhilde, who follows him pale-faced and with downcast eyes, to the vassals: #172/#152 frag vari >> Bruennhilde, most hallowed of women, I bring to you here on the Rhine (:#172/#152 frag vari): a nobler wife was never won! The gods have favoured the Gibichung race; now let it rise to the highest renown!
Wotan, as he was waking from his sleep (mankind’s primal, collective dreaming which gave birth to the religious myths, regarded by those who involuntarily dreamed them into existence as objectively true), described the newly built gods’ fortress (later dubbed Valhalla) thus: “The happy hall of delight is guarded by door and gate: manhood’s honour, boundless might redound to endless renown!” Fricka answered: “Awake from the blissful deception of dreams! (#21 Spear Motif Embryo) Husband, wake up and reflect!” Wagner’s "Ring" can be understood as Wagner’s attempt to offer modern, secular man a substitute for lost religious faith, which formerly granted man the dignity and honor of conceiving himself as divinely created and under a divine sway. Wagner’s "Ring" was intended to restore that lost dignity and lost innocence in the face of the skeptical, loveless age of science (Hagen’s age). The symbolism of Bruennhilde being forcibly handed over by her true love Siegfried to Gunther, who is wholly unworthy of her (Siegfried the authentic artist-hero alone could face the danger - “Noth” - of penetrating through mankind’s smokescreen of self-deception, represented by Loge’s ring of protective fire, to win possession of his true source of inspiration, Wotan’s forbidden hoard of runes, in order to gain the inspiration from this necessary to create works of art which could redeem us from this knowledge and consign it back to oblivion, to forgetfulness), is Wagner’s metaphor for his own suspicion that in his "Ring" he was revealing what he ought to have concealed, the secret of religious revelation and its modern form, unconscious artistic inspiration.
Bruennhilde: (trying to regain her composure, while forcibly restraining the most terrible agitation: #50:) A ring I saw upon your hand: - it belongs not to you but was wrested from me (pointing to Gunther) – by this man here! How could you have got the ring from him (:#50)?
Siegfried: (examining the ring on his finger) (#12/#154:) I did not get the ring from him (:#12/#154).
Bruennhilde: (to Gunther: #161/#45:) If you took from me the ring by which I was wed to you, then tell him of your right to it, demand the token back (:#161/#45)! (#154)
Gunther: (in great confusion: (#154 >>:) The ring? I gave him none. – but are you sure that it’s the same (:#154)?
Bruennhilde: Where are you hiding the ring that you carried off as your prize?
(#12/#154: Thoroughly perplexed, Gunther says nothing. #42 end frag)
Bruennhilde: (Bruennhilde flares up in her rage. #164 inverted vari - as orchestral explosion) Ha! He it was who wrested the ring away from me: (#17 vari:) Siegfried, the treacherous thief!
(All look expectantly at Siegfried, who is completely lost in contemplation of the ring: #164 vari; #19 vari)
Siegfried: (#19 vari:) It was not from a woman the ring came to me (:#19 vari), nor was it a woman (#48:) from whom I took it (:#48): (#164 frag:; #15:) I recognize clearly (#126) the spoils from the fight (#126a:) which I once won at (#161 vari:) Neidhoehle [“Envy-Cave”] (:#161 vari) (#59a, b, or c?:) when slaying the mighty dragon (:#126a; :#59a, b, or c?). (#12/#19 vari)
Hagen: (stepping between them) Bruennhild’, intrepid woman! Do you recognize the ring? (#12) If it’s the one that you gave to Gunther then it is his alone (#151b/#51 broad) and Siegfried won it by fraud, for which the traitor must pay! (#154 frag)
Siegfried is not consciously lying when he states, falsely, that he didn’t take the Ring he is wearing from Bruennhilde, because, thanks to Hagen’s potion of love and forgetfulness (Motif #154), which made Siegfried forget his true relationship with Bruennhilde, and thanks to the fact that Bruennhilde is his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration, Siegfried doesn’t remember anything that transpired while he was forcing the Ring off of Bruennhilde’s finger, and forcibly abducting Bruennhilde as wife for Gunther, that would call to mind her true, original relationship with him. For instance, were he in a normal, rational, waking state of mind during the time when, disguised as Gunther thanks to the Tarnhelm (whose motifs #42 and #43 are a basis for the Motif of Hagen’s Potions of love and forgetfulness, and Hagen’s antidote to this potion, his potion of remembrance, Motif #154), Siegfried stood in for Gunther by taking possession of Bruennhilde in Gunther’s form, Siegfried would have recognized the Ring Bruennhilde was wearing as the Ring he is now wearing and which he now acknowledges is the Ring he took from Fafner after killing him. And as I stated previously, Gunther would have put two and two together and realized by now that if what Bruennhilde is saying now is true, that the Ring she accuses Siegfried from stealing from her is the Ring to which Hagen alluded when he asked Siegfried what else besides the Tarnhelm Siegfried took from the Nibelung Hoard after he killed Fafner, and which Siegfried said to Hagen he had left with a wondrous woman, that Bruennhilde is this wondrous woman, had Gunther actually heard what Siegfried said to Hagen. Only if Siegfried is unconscious of this knowledge can we make sense of his apparently honest answer. In fact, had Siegfried been consciously lying in saying he didn’t steal this Ring from Bruennhilde, he had to have anticipated that Bruennhilde would recognize her Ring on his finger and accuse him of theft, in public.
No, the only explanation in Siegfried’s gaps in knowledge is that he is quite literally unconscious of much of what actually transpired even during the night he spent with Bruennhilde in the guise of Gunther, just as he is wholly unconscious of everything that transpired when he consummated his union with Bruennhilde in S.3.3, and when Bruennhilde sent him, inspired, to undertake new adventures in T.P. Further evidence for this reading can be found in the motifs associated with the Rhinedaughters, #15 (Their cry of “Rhinegold! Rhinegold!”) the Rhinegold Motif #12, and some portion of Motif #59abc, the Rhinedaughters’ lament for their lost gold from R.4, which accompany Siegfried as he says that he recognizes clearly the Ring on his finger (acting, strangely, as if he’s just unexpectedly discovered it there, which is true, because up until the time Gutrune gave him Hagen’s first potion to drink, Siegfried had assumed he’d left the Ring in Bruennhilde’s safekeeping) as the one he won from Fafner at Neidhoehle. Since Siegfried had already told Hagen that he’d left this Ring with a wondrous woman, Siegfried has now virtually admitted to Hagen, at least, that these two rings, the one that Siegfried took from Fafner, and the one which Bruennhilde charges Siegfried stole from her, are one and the same.
General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung
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