Part 3: Parsifal & Wagner's other operas

General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung

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Part 3: Parsifal & Wagner's other operas

Post by alberich00 » Mon Jun 18, 2018 12:09 pm

RW often shared with Cosima and with others comparisons between The Flying Dutchman, Tannhaeuser, Lohengrin, Tristan and Isolde, Mastersingers, the Ring, and Parsifal. I can't remember them all off the top of my head but he said that Siegfried might in the end have become like Parsifal and redeemed Wotan like Parsifal redeemed Amfortas. He said that Amfortas's suffering from his unhealing wound was the horrifying culmination of Tristan's suffering. He said that Kundry was like Eve, Amfortas like Adam, and Parsifal like Christ (in a sense), and of course Siegfried is also described as having many things in common with Christ, and the heroine of Mastersingers is Eva. He said that Kundry had effectively, in her numerous rebirths, undergone Isolde's transfigurations innumerable times. He said that Lohengrin and Elsa might be reborn as Ananda and Savitri from The Victors. He said Parsifal in his wanderings might stumble upon the suffering Tristan. Etc., Etc. The point is that Wagner saw all of his protagonists across his operas and music-dramas as sharing deep conceptual/structural links of the kind my allegorical reading has brought to the fore, and clearly saw all of them as in some sense moving along a trajectory of world-history, the advance in self-knowledge of the world-spirit, so to speak, in a Hegelian sense.

The sundering of Wotan's personality under the weight of insupportable guilt can be seen in his confessing this guilt to his other half, his unconscious mind Bruennhilde, in whom he can repress this intolerable hoard of self-knowledge. And of course this split continues as Bruennhilde gives figurative rebirth to Wotan's ideal self in Siegfried, who is Wotan minus consciousness of his true identity, purged of all that Wotan loathed in his own nature, which is incarnate in the Nibelung Mime, Alberich's brother (recalling of course that Wotan is Light-Alberich), and Wotan's prosaic self.

In Tristan the alte Weise, and in Siegfried and Twilight of the Gods the Woodbird's tune, are Wagner's motival symbols for the "Wonder" of his musical motifs, which are messengers which pass back and forth between the conscious and unconscious mind, portals from one to the other, from what is fearful and therefore repressed in the unconscious, to the sublimation of what is repressed and has become safely conscious. As Wagner said, religious man involuntarily creates a conscious allegory to represent what was experienced unconsciously as a nightmare and forgotten. The Shepherd's tune to which Tannhaeuser wakes from his nightmare sojourn with his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration Venus, in the Venusberg, and which therefore marks a sort of transition from unconsciousness to consciousness, is Wagner's incipient version of the alte Weise and the Woodbird's tune. It's interpreting the hidden meaning of these two tunes which leads to both heros' deaths: they had involuntarily given their muses of unconscious artistic inspiration and their secrets away to their audiences Gunther and Marke, and their ability to interpret these tunes verbally is another of RW's metaphors for this. As RW said, through his musical motifs he could grant his audience a clairvoyance similar to the art creator, allowing his audience access to the secret of the artist's hidden intent, an intent which Wagner elsewhere said is hidden from the artist himself. In other words, through his musical motifs (represented by the alte Weise and Woodbird's tune, which Tristan and Siegfried translate from feeling into thought), Wagner granted his audience access to his own unconscious mind, to things hidden even from Wagner himself.

At a Symposium on RW's Ring sponsored by both the Wagner Society of Washington, DC, and the Smithsonian Institution, Speight Jenkins, longtime Director of the Seattle Opera and famous for his productions of RW's Ring there, during the last roundtable discussion, posed a question he said in 30 years nobody had been able to answer cogently. He asked what RW meant by having Gurnemanz answer Parsifal's remark 'I scarcely seem to have moved and yet seem to have traveled far' with the following: "You see, my son, time here becomes space." Nobody ventured, so I, sitting at the very back of a Smithsonian Museum auditorium in a darkened room filled with about 300 people, raised my hand, but Jenkins, not having spotted me raising my hand, was about to close down the symposium when someone in the room pointed to me and said there's after all one more questioner. I told Jenkins the following. Wagner conflated Schopenhauer's notion of the ideality of space and time with the "Wonder" of Wagner's musical motifs of foreboding and reminiscence, since, by virtue of their association with the drama at this or that point, things widely separated in space and time could be made present, here and now, things thought could be felt. Wagner said his musical motifs thus solved the problem of the unity of space and time in drama. They also in this way are a metaphor for religious miracles, in which the laws of nature, of space, time, and causation, seem to be suspended. One of the panelists, Saul Lilienstein, objected, suggesting that musical motifs in Parsifal don't operate in the same manner that they do in RW's Ring, but Jenkins rebutted him and said that he'd never heard any explanation like this before, and it seemed to be cogent and worthy of further thought. It's also worth remarking that this could be construed as a very cryptic version of Einstein's theory of relativity (the Special Theory?). I'm not the only one who's noticed this because I was watching a PBS program on Einstein some years ago and music from Parsifal was employed to enhance the discussion of Einstein's special theory of relativity. Schopenhauer also suggested that matter equals energy, another pre-Einsteinian poetic/philosophic trope.

I might add that Bruennhilde, construed as Wotan's inner music (his unconscious mind), redeems Wotan's confession of humanity's corrupt, fallen history, the source of his unbearable guilt, by dipping it into her music, which transfigures it. Thus Wotan's confession is transmuted into, and redeemed by, the musical motifs of the Ring. As Bruennhilde tells Wotan, she's the "ageless" part of him. And Siegfried of course is the timeless, mythic hero, by virtue of having metaphysically been born of Bruennhilde, the womb of Wotan's wishes. As Wagner said, Siegfried, who lives solely in the present, is the finest gift of the will, and of course Bruennhilde christened herself as Wotan's "Will." Wotan told Erda that Erda's knowledge (of all that was, is, and will be, the objective world of time, space, causation, fate) wanes before his will, and of course he was referring to the fact that Wotan, in confessing the knowledge Erda imparted to him to his daughter Bruennhilde, Wotan's own self, in which the secret he imparted to her will remain forever unspoken, was able to repress that fearful knowledge that he dare not speak aloud (i.e., consciously) by confessing it to his own unconscious mind. In this way Erda's fearful knowledge, which Wotan imparted to his Will Bruennhilde, wanes before his will. Wagner's musical motifs are the sublimates of Wotan's confession and of Wagner's own otherwise crippling self-doubt. This is how Wotan, paralyzed into inaction by fear of the end, is reborn as the fearless, creative soul, the artist-hero Siegfried.

Erda's knowledge of all that was, is, and will be, her knowledge that everything that is will end, and fate, Erda's Ur-Law, for Wagner is natural law. Erda's Ur-Law includes her prophecy that the gods will inevitably succumb to Alberich's Curse on his Ring. Note, by the way, that Alberich's curse of the Ring, designed to punish the usurper Wotan with an inevitable doom which Wotan and/or his heroes will actually bring to pass themselves, is similar to Chronos's curse against the gods of Olympus, who usurped the power of the Titans. Prometheus (a Titan who, like Loge, betrays the Titans/Alberich in order instead to serve the gods) has foreknowledge of the gods of Olympus's predestined end, and of course Wotan punishes Prometheus (foresight), who aided mortal man against the gods' injunction, by placing him on a mountaintop to suffer there a wound that will never heal (the wound of consciousness). In both respects Prometheus, the fire-giver, the originator of civilization, is a model for Bruennhilde, and also in a sense for the trickster Loge.

Froh tells Wotan that now that Alberich has paid the price for the Ring in having renounced love, Wotan and the gods can enjoy its power without having to pay its price. And of course Wotan's hero-redeemers, heirs to Alberich's Ring Curse, must pay its price so Wotan and the gods won't have to.

Parsifal will refrain from using the Spear as Wotan did, to enforce divine law and/or protect himself through violence against the violence that comes his way. This is in a sense a metaphor for Parsifal no longer seeking to deny the anguish and mortality that comes as a natural part of life, but rather to accept things as they are.

I read Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival many years ago (I made a point of reading as many of Wagner's sources in translation as I could find, including the two Icelandic Eddas, the Volsunga Saga, Gottfried von Strassburg's Tristan and Isolde, etc.), and can't recall much about it except that it contained occasional tropes absorbed by Wagner into his Parsifal and devoted an inordinate amount of time describing in numbing detail the accoutrements of knights and ladies. My paperback Penguin translation, stored somewhere, has many page margins filled with my notes about Wagner's borrowings. I also recall that Wagner denigrated its value as a literary work, and also once claimed he found nothing of value in it (obviously untrue).

If memory serves there's also a sorceror named Klingsor in one of Wagner's primary sources for Tannhaeuser, and of course Wagner himself suggested that Venus and the Venusberg was a partial model for Kundry in Klingsor's Magic Castle and Garden. I believe he told Cosima while he was composing Parsifal Act Two that he'd already done something like that in the opening scene from Tannhaeuser.

In my interpretation, Herzeleide's grief at the loss of her husband Gamuret and wish to spare their son Parsifal Gamuret's fate turns more on Gamuret's having lost his life in the religiously inspired Crusades against the Moslems more than merely on his having lost his life in a generic chivalrous quest for adventure. Wagner takes the long view on Parsifal's neglect of, and feeling of guilt towards, his mother, who died of a broken heart due to his neglect: this in my reading stems from his being destined to serve as the ultimate knight of the Grail, i.e., to renounce Mother Nature, and man's body, in favor of what Feuerbach would describe as mankind's delusory quest for spiritual transcendence, the quest for, or to serve, the holy Grail. Feuerbach's metaphor for religious man's renunciation of Mother Nature and his bodily/mortal limitations in favor of an illusory realm of the spirit, is that religious man has thereby figuratively killed his mother, Nature. Wagner echoes this, saying more than once that man's great error or sin was in denying Mother Nature. Wagner finds a model for this in Orestes' murder of his mother Clytemnestra, a sin Athena (the chaste, armored goddess born of Zeus's, i.e., Wotan's head, one of Wagner's models for Bruennhilde) helps Orestes to atone for, just as Bruennhilde protects Siegfried temporarily from suffering the consequences of his falling heir to Wotan's sin against all that was, is, and will be, a sin punished by Alberich's Ring Curse. Wagner's metaphoric expression of this sin of religious world-renunciation, which Nietzsche described as pessimism, is not only Alberich's accusation that Wotan will be sinning against all that was, is, or will be (Erda's, Mother Nature's, knowledge of all that was, is, or will be) if he co-opts Alberich's Ring and its power, but also the related facts that Siegfried's and Tristan's mothers died giving them birth, and Parsifal virtually killed his mother by leaving her to undertake (a fact not known to him until much later) his quest of the Grail and its service.

In Claude Levi-Strauss's The Origin of Table Manners he tells of a mythic trope found throughout many Indian tribes of South America which explains the origin of the moon's spots. Normally, a celestial globe would be considered a god, something perfect and divine, but the moon has an obvious flaw which needs explanation. If I recall correctly, a frog is invited to a feast but doesn't have a proper grasp of table manners, of etiquette, and someone or some group of people laugh at it. It finds it impossible to eat in a proper manner. In its shame it jumps up into the sky and splatters into the moon, creating its spots.

Siegfried's true identity as Wotan's agent of redemption is concealed from him, but known to Bruennhilde to whom Wotan imparted his desire for a free hero who could do what Wotan can't, recapture Alberich's Ring from Fafner in order to insure that Alberich can't regain its power and fulfill his threat to destroy the gods. But Siegfried subliminally acts on the impulse of Wotan's unspoken secret even before he wakes Bruennhilde, since Siegfried is metaphysically born of the womb of Wotan's wishes, Bruennhilde, to whom Wotan imparted his wish.

It's a curious feature in some mythologies how the hero is presented as a pre-fallen, sheltered child or orphan who blunders his way to success through ignorance of who he is and ignorance of social norms, who didn't experience socially sanctioned rites of passage or initiation but brings them about himself, as in Scruton's description of Siegfried. If memory serves Claude Levi-Strauss described this as the universal myth of the sheltered child or eternal initiate (or something like that: I read all of his books in English translation in my early days, including the four part "Mythologiques," as well as Joseph Campbell's similar tetralogy on world-mythology.). His "The Origin of Table Manners" comes to mind in Parsifal's not "knowing" proper social form. The hero Cuchulain of the Irish Gaelic epic The Cattle Raid of Cooley is such a child prematurely thrust into adult, heroic life, who succeeds where those more mature and better schooled can't.

The trope of the hero not knowing who he is, but his heroine-lover knowing his identity for him, is echoed in different ways in all of Wagner's canonical operas and music-dramas from Dutchman onward. The Dutchman fears that Senta won't be able to bear the burden of knowing his true, fated identity, and perhaps sharing his fate thanks to her compassion, and according to Wagner, the Dutchman felt that his desire to obtain redemption through Senta's sacrificial love is a sin because it might condemn her to share his eternal damnation, but in the end her sympathy is equal to this demand. Venus keeps the secret of Tannhaeuser's true, but hidden, source of unconscious artistic inspiration, in their loving embrace within the Venusberg, until Tannhaeuser inadvertently (as if under a spell) reveals this intolerable secret in the course of singing his contest song to win the hand of Elizabeth. When Tannhaeuser threatened that he would leave Venus forever, but only praise her from afar as his muse, she cursed him, saying he would only bring shame on himself in the outer world until he returned to her for consolation. All paths must lead back to her (as Kundry tells Parsifal). This, by the way, is Wagner's model for Siegfried's exposure of his true relationship to his muse Bruennhilde in the narrative of his heroic life and how he came to understand birdsong. Elsa longs to share the forbidden knowledge of Lohengrin's true identity, but to keep it in silence, to protect him from the "Noth," the anguish, which she fears he'll suffer if his true identity becomes known. In Wagner's Feuerbachian conception of Lohengrin, the secret Lohengrin keeps is that the Grail realm is an illusion, that Lohengrin, as Ortrud charges, is really just a natural, mortal being, made seemingly sublime through magic (Wagner's code word for the power of art, which is the true source of religion's hold on mankind).

Siegfried tells Fafner 'I don't yet know who I am,' but later, Bruennhilde tells Siegfried that she knows for him what he doesn't know, as we hear the Fate Motif (fate being one with identity in Wagner's understanding). The secret of Siegfried's true identity was imparted to Bruennhilde by Wotan (Wotan is reincarnate in Siegfried) in his confession. Eva, like Venus, knows for the artist-hero Walther the secret of his unconscious artistic inspiration (she appears to him in the likeness of Eve in Paradise in his dream of inspiration which produces his redemptive mastersong). This secret was imparted to Eva by Sachs in his Act Two confession in his cobbling song, just as Wotan imparted the secret of Siegfried's true identity to Bruennhilde in his confession. Isolde learned the secret of Tristan's true identity but protected him from the consequences of making it known, by her silence. Both Siegfried and Tristan, like Tannhaeuser, betray the secret of their unconscious artistic inspiration by involuntarily or unwittingly revealing their true relationship to their muse to the public (their audience), in Siegfried's and Tristan's case by giving their muse of inspiration and the secrets she kept away to another man, Wagner's metaphor for his audience. And of course, Kundry knows for Parsifal what he doesn't know, his true name and identity. This repeated trope, I believe, is crucial to grasping what RW is up to in his canonical artworks.

Again, Wagner amplified this trope, that a heroine knows truths about a hero that others (including the hero) don't know, into the notion that she knows the ultimate truth about the hero to keep it secret even from him, in order to protect him from unbearable self-knowledge (like that imparted by Wotan to Bruennhilde in his confession, fearful knowledge first imparted to him by Bruennhilde's mother Erda - Mother Nature, which is that religious man's notion of transcendent value, embodied by the gods, is an illusion, and therefore the gods of religious faith are predestined to destruction). This is the authentic explanation of Elsa's offer to protect Lohengrin from the dangerous consequences of making the secret of his identity and origin known by persuading Lohengrin to share his forbidden self-knowledge with her so she, through her silence, can help him keep his secret. Wagner amplified this into his concept that Bruennhilde knows for Siegfried what he doesn't know and therefore protects him from the wounds of consciousness, Wotan's foresight of the fated end. All of Tristan's sufferings in Act Three, and Siegfried's death, stem from their having betrayed the secrets kept for them by their muse of unconscious artistic inspiration, Isolde and Bruennhilde, by giving her away to another man (Wagner's audience). Wagner once stated (if I'm remembering this right) that he could just replace Tristan Act Three by referring people to Siegfried's death. You'll find the passage in Appendix II of, like all the other passages from Feuerbach and Wagner which I reference in this commentary.

Note that Kundry is the messenger of the Grail, and also has seemingly magical knowledge of the wider world in time and space. Furthermore, consider that she is reincarnated again and again. Wagner described his musical motifs as the felt messengers of the author/composer's dramatic intent, his thought. Bruennhilde told Siegfried that what Wotan thought, she felt, and what she felt was just her love for Siegfried, so Wotan's confession of world-history and its guilt is the source of her unconscious inspiration of Siegfried in their loving union. Wagner once described the Holy Grail as the sublimation of the Nibelung Hoard (i.e., of Alberich's Ring), just as Valhalla (its motif), the gods' heaven, is musically a product of Alberich's Ring Motif. Wagner also said that the "Wonder" (i.e., magic) of his musical motifs was that by virtue of their association with crucial actions, symbols, and ideas in the libretto, his motifs of reminiscence and foreboding could solve the problem of unity of time and space in drama by collapsing the most wide-ranging experience of the drama into one moment of feeling, here and now. Consider also that Wagner stated that his musical motifs are wonderfully suited to a music-drama which involves reincarnation, since the musical motifs could impart to Wagner's audience secrets about his protagonists' past or prior lives not consciously known to the protagonists. And last, consider that Wagner wrote to Ludwig II that Wotan is reborn in Siegfried as the artist's intent is reborn, and yet hidden, forgotten, in his work of art.

It's also worth remarking that in the third act of Tristan motifs link Tristan's sailing unwittingly and unconsciously to Ireland's shore in a coma (suffering from the unhealing wound cut in him by Isolde's fiance Morold, to be healed by Isolde's magic, i.e., love), during which he heard the alte Weise (music identified with Tristan's mother dying while giving him birth, and which Tristan identifies with his tragic fate/identity, and with the love/death potion he curses himself for having brewed), with Isolde's healing love for Tristan. Siegfried likewise confuses his mother, who died giving him birth, with his future lover and surrogate mother Bruennhilde. Is it an accident that Kundry tries to woo Parsifal by offering herself to him as his surrogate mother, who died of a broken heart through his neglect? In Wagner's allegorical language, unconsciously inspired art is an artificial surrogate for Mother Nature, whom religious man figuratively killed by renouncing the world, and the inspired secular artist is unwittingly complicit in religious man's (Wotan's) sin of world-renunciation. In my interpretation Parsifal's feeling of guilt at having caused his neglected mother to die of a broken heart is Wagner's metaphor for Feuerbachian matricide (religious man's denial of nature, which Wagner on several occasions described as man's great sin or error). This explains the artificiality of Klingsor's Magic Garden, for which Venusberg is the model. Tannhaeuser's sin in exposing the true source of his unconscious artistic inspiration in his formerly secret and forgotten sojourn with Venus in the Venusberg, to the religious folk at the Wartburg song contest, is that the artist-hero Tannhaeuser has exposed, during a performance of his inspired artwork, the artistic (i.e., self-delusional) origin of what religious man otherwise considers divine inspiration, and therefore exposed mankind's bid for transcendent value and meaning as futile: it's all just a matter of the magic of art, which has an earthly origin.

Let me add that the shepherd's tune to which Tannhaeuser wakes, after having experienced unconscious artistic inspiration by his muse Venus, which he forgets upon waking (and doesn't remember until he's singing his contest song at the Wartburg), is Wagner's model not only for the alte Weise to which Tristan wakes, but also for Siegfried's Woodbird's tune. All three melodies are the musical bridge between the hero's conscious mind and his unconscious muse of artistic inspiration. Tristan devotes Act Three to interpreting, consciously, what heretofore had been unconscious, the meaning of the alte Weise he'd heard while being born through his mother's death, and heard again while being driven by fate to have his unhealing wound temporarily healed by Isolde's love. Interpreting this tune leads to Tristan's death. Similarly, Siegfried's interpretation of the Woodbird's tune for his audience the Gibichungs restores his true relationship, which he'd forgotten, to his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration, Bruennhilde, and also leads to his death. The unconsciously inspired artist-hero must never become conscious of his true source of inspiration.

The Wasteland is also implicit in Venus's cursing of Tannhaeuser (a model for Kundry's cursing of Parsifal) for leaving her in order to return to the real world of time, space, bodily pain and pleasure, and death (which Tannhaeuser longs for thanks to Feuerbach's argument against the religious longing for sorrowless youth and love eternal). The Wasteland (Wotan's having killed the World-Ash Tree by breaking off its most sacred branch to make his Spear of Authority and Divine Law), on this understanding, is caused by religious man's sin of world-renunciation, by his seeking redemption from the real, physical, objective world of Mother Nature with its compromises, shame, guilt, pain, and death, in an illusory realm of the spirit (the Grail realm) which, according to both Feuerbach and Wagner, is a sterile, lifeless copy of the real world with no intrinsic value, and no value at all unless aspects of the real world are smuggled into this heaven of the imagination under the guise of spiritual satisfactions. Feuerbach described such a world as a withered, desiccated garden (note that Klingsor's Magic Garden is created by magic in a desert or wasteland, which is one of Wagner's metaphors for art as heir to religion, but once Parsifal sees through it to the truth it disappears). Wagner described Wotan's Spear (a formerly living branch, the most sacred branch, of the World-Ash which Wotan killed) as once living, but now dead, nature, and the Pope's staff in Tannhaeuser is dead but its restoration to life with fresh greenery is a sign that Tannhaeuser's hope for redemption has been answered (this is a cryptic model for the Good Friday Spell in Parsifal). His hope for redemption can be satisfied by the restoration of the real world's fertility, which will save us from the sterility of the wasteland of mankind's futile bid for transcendent value in religious faith.

One of the key reasons why Siegfried (and therefore in a sense Parsifal, who is Siegfried, the pure fool, reincarnate) is unconscious of himself, and so lacking in what we'd expect to find in a normal human being, is that he's the embodiment of the impoverishment which Feuerbach said would be necessary if man wished to imagine himself worthy of redemption from the real world in a spiritual world of the imagination in which he could be immortal. For that to occur, Feuerbach stated we'd have to eliminate from such a theoretical man all of the things which make him him, which make life worth living and something we can be conscious of, can experience, including his place in history. Siegfried is the history-less, context-less man, the man solely the product of feeling, or music, without the objective, mortal context which alone makes this meaningful, because Wotan willed to become such an innocent man (purged of all historical guilt) in his confession to Bruennhilde, when he told her he couldn't create the free man because in his attempt to do so he always found, with loathing, only himself in all he tried to undertake. That loathing, Wotan's prosaic self which is missing from Siegfried's makeup, is embodied in the Nibelung Mime. Wagner stated that it was Lohengrin, allegedly from the Grail realm (another name for Valhalla), who sought redemption from the sterility of this illusory paradise of the spirit, by seeking real, physical, sexual union with a woman on earth, Elsa. Wagner also stated in A Communication to My Friends that Elsa is Lohengrin's unconscious mind, his other half, the involuntary part of him. This, along with Venus's status as Tannhaeuser's muse of unconscious artistic inspiration, gave birth to Wagner's conception that Bruennhilde is Wotan's (and therefore Siegfried's) unconscious mind. It's in the hero Siegfried's unconscious mind that the secret of Wotan's confession is kept safe, and that secret is the following: what mankind calls spirit or divine is actually mortal man's aesthetic apprehension of the tangible, real, physical world, and man's propensity to posit the actuality of the gods is merely self-deception. It's this revelation that so horrified the Christians at the Wartburg in Tannhaeuser's revelation of his true source of inspiration, and why they regard his self-exposure as damning without hope of redemption.

Wotan allegedly can't personally influence Siegmund or Siegfried to undertake the redemption of the gods from Alberich's Ring Curse, yet somehow, miraculously, his Waelsung heroes must, of their own free will, undertake the task Wotan can't undertake because he's too conscious of his true, craven motives. This magical influence on Siegfried comes from his unconscious mind, Bruennhilde, to whom Wotan (collective, historical man) imparted his confession. Wotan's confession is Siegfried's hidden, unconscious source of inspiration, a secret kept safe, unspoken in words, by Bruennhilde, Siegfried's muse. Wotan's subliminal influence also takes voice through the Woodbird's instructions to Siegfried after Siegfried has fulfilled the first step in Wotan's redemption, the killing of Fafner (religious faith's fear of objective truth, or knowledge), and his appropriation of Alberich's Ring of consciousness/power, the Tarnhelm of imagination (Wagnerian Wonder), and the Nibelung Hoard of forbidden self-knowledge (which Wagner equates with the hoard of knowledge Wotan collects throughout history in his wanderings over the earth, or Erda). Siegfried can neutralize, make safe the danger, of Alberich's Ring Curse of consciousness by sublimating its threat into sublime art, and he can do this only by having loving union with his muse Bruennhilde (Siegfried's unconscious mind with its secrets), in order to give birth to an inspired, redemptive work of art (i.e., Wagner's Ring itself). Only in this way can Siegfried draw advantage from the fear Bruennhilde taught him (by virtue of holding for Siegfried Wotan's fearful confession, his true source of inspiration) in order to forget it.
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