Shapiro Consolations Critique Part 13

General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung

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Shapiro Consolations Critique Part 13

Post by alberich00 » Wed Oct 07, 2020 11:47 am

Wotan is the experienced, aged one, who grasps the meaning of Siegfried’s heroic life (having planned it in advance) in a way that the much less conscious Siegfried (who does not know who he is) cannot. Note that Wagner speaks of this aged teacher as peaceful not passionate, as a beholder, not a doer. This of course calls to mind Wotan’s description of himself to Alberich as one who has come to observe, not act. And Wotan will show Siegfried, the instinctive youth, his inmost being, by leaving Siegfried heir to his daughter, the ageless part of himself, the sleeping Bruennhilde, in whom Siegfried will see himself reflected. Wagner adds that this teacher or admonisher (Wotan) is the conscious understanding (i.e., the head, or the word, as in poetic drama), while the admonished (Siegfried) is feeling (heart/music). Again, we have the contrast between Wotan’s head, Mime, which he suppressed through his confession to Bruennhilde, and his heart, Siegfried, who is what is left of Wotan once we eliminate his head.

Now Wagner becomes far more specific and in so doing grants us a much deeper insight into the true subject of the Ring allegory:

“The Poet [Wotan] and Musician [the music-dramatist Siegfried, inspired by his muse Bruennhilde], whom we mean, are very well thinkable as two persons. In fact the Musician, in his practical intermediation between the poetic aim [Wotan’s longing for redemption from Alberich’s curse] and its final bodily realisement through an actual scenic representation, might necessarily be conditioned by the Poet as a separate person, and indeed, a younger than himself – if not necessarily in point of years, yet at least in point of character. This younger person [Siegfried], through standing closer to Life’s instinctive utterance – especially (auch) in its lyric moments, -- might well appear to the more experienced, more reflecting Poet, as more fitted to realise his aim than he himself is [Wotan needs a hero freed from his own influence and law, who can do of himself, of his own spontaneous “Noth,” what Wotan, because he is too conscious of his ulterior motives, can’t do]; and from this his natural inclination towards the younger, the more buoyant man – so soon as the latter took up with willing enthusiasm the poetic-aim imparted to him by the older [Siegfried inherits Alberich’s Hoard, Tarnhelm, and Ring, and Wotan’s Hoard of knowledge] – there would bloom that fairest, noblest Love, which we have learnt to recognise as the enabling force of Art-work. (…) Through this bent, incited in another, the Poet himself would win an ever waxing warmth toward his begettal, which must needs determine him to the helpfulest interest in the birth itself [i.e., Wotan’s interest in bringing his free hero Siegfried to birth, without actively interfering to secure it].” [554W-{50-1/51} Opera and Drama: PW Vol. II, p. 355-356]

Here we can read the older, experienced poet as Wotan, and read Siegfried as the younger musician (i.e., composer), who according to Wagner is closer to life’s instinctuality (which I noted earlier is represented by the Rhinedaughters), and therefore more suited to realize the poet’s (Wotan’s) aim. What Wagner is speaking of here, of course, is his own art, the music drama, and the fact that it is according to him a synthesis of conscious thought, which produces the poetic-drama, the poetic aim if you will, the programme which is the seed of inspiration for the form which music will take, and music, which is the language of the unconscious, of the heart, of feeling, represented here by Bruennhilde. Wotan, of course, planted his aim in his own unconscious mind Bruennhilde when he confessed his need for a free hero who would do the deed which Wotan cannot do, but which must be done if the gods are to be redeemed from a shameful end. Wagner adds that the poet (Wotan) takes the highest interest in art’s birth (i.e., the redemptive love shared by Siegfried and his muse Bruennhilde). It was for this reason that Wotan allowed himself to be persuaded by Bruennhilde to make a protective ring of fire around her sleeping body, in spite of his insistence he no longer cared about Bruennhilde’s fate, so that only the free hero Wotan had longed for, Siegfried, can wake and win her. Siegfried will unconsciously yet spontaneously embrace Wotan’s poetic aim, which Wotan imparted to Bruennhilde in his confession, once Siegfried wakes his muse Bruennhilde, because in winning her Siegfried will fall heir to the hoard of knowledge Wotan imparted to her.

[PH: Quotation from www.wagnerheim.com, Pages 655-657:]

Siegfried’s insult, telling Wotan that an old man has always stood in his way, brings to mind a vivid remark which Mime made in S.1.3 as he observed in astonishment Siegfried’s evident ability to re-forge his father’s sword Nothung through instinctive rather than learned knowledge. Mime said that though he was old as cave and wood, he’d never seen the like. Mime, like Fricka and Fafner, is a symbol for the status quo, the tendency of the majority of men in society to accept their legacy with no desire for revolutionary change, who are content if they satisfy their immediate need, with no vision of greater scope. The Waelsung heroes are of course archetypal revolutionaries at odds with established society.

Wagner expressed this concept subtly in the following extracts. In the first, we find an echo of Mime’s remark that though he’s old as cave and wood he’s never seen the like of Siegfried’s instinctive ability to do what all Mime’s experience and knowledge could not show him how to do. Mime, who constantly describes himself as “wise,” is representative of what Wagner describes below as the “state at its wisest,” historical experience. Wotan, in his relationship with Siegfried, can of course be identified with what Wagner describes here as “the love of age for youth,” who, unlike Mime, points his chosen Siegfried to fresh experience (the love of Bruennhilde), as opposed to his own experience (represented by Mime), which Wotan repressed through his confession to Bruennhilde:

“The State – taken at its wisest – thrusts upon us the experiences of History [Wotan’s confession of all that he loathes about himself and his history to Bruennhilde], as the plumb-line for our dealings; yet we can only deal sincerely, when through our Instinctive dealings themselves we reach experience [by waking and winning Bruennhilde Siegfried falls heir to Wotan’s hoard of knowledge, but which, thanks to Bruennhilde’s love, he can experience subliminally, through feeling rather than thinking]; an experience taught us by communications can only be resultful for us, when by our instinctive dealings we make it over again for ourselves [Siegfried re-forges his father Siegmund’s sword Nothung, which Wotan manufactured]. Thus the true, the reasonable love of age [Wotan] toward youth [Siegfried] substantiates itself in this; that it does not make its own experiences the measure for youth’s dealings [Wotan insists that his chosen hero must be free from Wotan’s influence], but points it toward a fresh experience [Siegfried re-forges Wotan’s sword Nothung and wins Bruennhilde], and enriches its own thereby … .” [516W-{50-1/51} Opera and Drama: PW Vol. II, p. 204-205]

It is clear that Siegfried, like the youth described above, is under the sway of feeling which makes Wotan’s experience his own. That is, Siegfried takes aesthetic possession of Alberich’s Ring, Tarnhelm, and Hoard, and wakes and wins Bruennhilde, thereby taking aesthetic possession of Wotan’s unspoken secret, the hoard of knowledge he confessed to Bruennhilde.

Wotan’s only confrontation with Siegfried, the subject of S.3.2, shows Wotan passing on the legacy of man’s religious feeling to the secular artist Siegfried. In the following extract Wagner examines in greater detail the true nature of their relationship:

“… we owe the highest art-creations of the human mind to that rarest of intellectual gifts which endows this capability of total self-divestment [Siegfried] with the clearest perspicacity (Besonnenheit) [Wotan’s knowledge of Siegfried’s historical context] … , in power whereof the state of self-divestment itself is mirrored in that very consciousness which in the case of the mime is wholly dethroned. Through that capability of self-divestment in favour of a purely visionary image the Poet [Wotan] thus is ure-akin to the Mime [Siegfried, the unwitting actor in Wotan’s drama, who alone can give it life], whereas he becomes his master through this other one, of clearest perspicacity. To the mime [Siegfried] the poet [Wotan] brings his self-possession and his lucid brain, and thus their intercourse acquires that incomparable gaiety known only to great masters in their comradeship with dramatic performers … . But this gaiety is the element … that holds the gifted mime secure above the gulf toward which he feels his supernatural trend to self-divestment impelling him in the practice of his art. Whoso can stand with him [Siegfried] at brink of that abyss [preparing to wake Bruennhilde], will shudder at the peril of this playing with one’s personality [Siegfried initially feels fear at the prospect of waking Bruennhilde], that a given moment may turn to raving madness; and here it is just that consciousness of play which saves the mime, in like manner as the consciousness of his self-divestment leads the poet to the highest creative discernment. That saving consciousness of play it is, that lends the gifted mime [Siegfried] the childlike nature which marks him out so lovably from all his lesser-gifted colleagues, from his whole surrounding burgher-world.” [836W-{6-8/72} Actors and Singers: PW Vol. V, p. 216-217; p. 220]

Siegfried, as the self-divested, fearless and seemingly ego-less hero, who does not know who he is because Bruennhilde holds this knowledge for him, can be identified with the poet’s capability of total self-divestment, akin to the “mime” (in this case referring to the actor who mimes, or represents, a character other than himself), which Wagner contrasts with that other poetic capability of the highest perspicacity, i.e., Wotan’s experience and knowledge, which is imparted to Siegfried subliminally through Bruennhilde. When Siegfried grows fearful before waking Bruennhilde, we find a parallel to Wagner’s remark above that at the abyss’s brink (i.e., in the presence of the sleeping Bruennhilde, Siegfried’s unconscious mind) the poet shudders at the perils of playing with his personality, which may turn to madness. And lastly, Siegfried’s childlike nature can be compared with that of the mime as described by Wagner.

[P. 69] "Wagner defined Wotan’s role in the drama in the same fashion: 'Wodan rises to the tragic heights of willing his own destruction. This is all that we need to learn from the history of mankind: to will what is necessary and to bring it about ourselves. The final creative product of this supreme, self-destructive will is a fearless human being, one who never ceases to love: Siegfried. – That is all.' (29) (...) Wagner contemplated incorporating this theme more explicitly in the 'Ring' while he was working on the prose draft of 'Die Walkuere' in May 1852. In the margin he explored the possibility that Wotan would exclaim: 'O could I compress all godhead into a seed out of which a free man would sprout! In this way I could annihilate godhead.' (32) In this metaphor, annihilation is inextricably tied to germination. Wagner ultimately telegraphed this message of a Hegelian dynamic of death and renewal in Wotan’s exuberant recognition of Siegfried as his heir, which was designed to communicate – in similar fashion – 'the fusion of a movingly tragic act of heroic resignation with an exalted sense of the joy of life.' (33)"

[PH: See Quotation from www.wagnerheim.com, Page 248, previously cited]

[PH: See Quotation from www.wagnerheim.com, Page 282, previously cited]

[PH: Quotation from www.wagnerheim.com, Page 561:]

Wagner captured this complex array of ideas behind Wotan’s covert intent to make Siegfried his heir in the following passage, in which he says that the Ring shows us the necessity of acknowledging natural necessity, or change, and yielding to it, as Wotan does when he acknowledges the need to go under, so that he can give birth to his ideal self, Siegfried, who will live on after him and be his heir:

“ … the remainder of the poem is concerned to show how necessary it is to acknowledge change, variety, multiplicity and the eternal newness of reality and of life, and to yield to that necessity. Wodan rises to the tragic heights of willing his own destruction. This is all that we need to learn from the history of mankind: to will what is necessary and to bring it about ourselves. The final creative product of this supreme, self-destructive will is a fearless human being, one who never ceases to love: Siegfried. – That is all.” [615W-{1/25-26/54} Letter toAugust Roeckel: SLRW, p. 307]

When Wagner says that the ever-loving Siegfried is the final product of Wotan’s self-destructive, self-sacrificing will, we recall that Bruennhilde described herself as Wotan’s will, and that it was by virtue of planting Bruennhilde, Wotan’s wish-womb, with the seed of his confession, that Bruennhilde was metaphysically able to give birth to the free hero Wotan had longed for, Siegfried. Religion as a set of beliefs, a faith, contradicted by knowledge, must die, in order that the savior, who will preserve religious feeling in secular art, safe from refutation, can live. But then, we must remember also that Wotan castigated Bruennhilde for living for feeling alone while Wotan was forced to consciously confront the contradictions of necessity (Noth). It is implicit that both Siegfried and Bruennhilde will ultimately pay a high price for living for love (feeling) alone, as Wotan suggested, and that this will transpire when the fact that their allegedly free and spontaneous love is exposed as covert religion, as Valhalla rebuilt.

[PH: Quotation from www.wagnerheim.com, Pages 633-635:]

Wagner described the significance of Siegfried the artist-hero’s inheritance of Wotan’s (religion’s) legacy in the following thematically related set of extracts, in which it becomes clear that the only way out of Wotan’s irresolvable existential dilemma - the fact that Wotan can no longer sustain religious man’s consoling self-deception in the face of the inevitable rise to consciousness of Alberich’s hoard of objective knowledge, yet can’t psychologically bear to live within the only world we have, the prosaic world known to science in which egoism is universally accepted as the highest or sole motive - is by retreating to feeling, man’s innermost depths, in art. Only in this way can Wotan salvage the best, ageless part of himself from the nihilistic self-destruction to which he originally consigned Valhalla (religious belief) and all of his dreams and ideals which are either overtly or covertly predicated on belief in man’s transcendent value:

“Wodan rises to the tragic heights of willing his own destruction. This is all that we need to learn from the history of mankind: to will what is necessary and to bring it about ourselves. The final creative product of this supreme, self-destructive will is a fearless human being, one who never ceases to love: Siegfried.” [615W-{1/25-26/54} Letter to August Roeckel: SLRW, p. 307]

“Following his farewell to Bruennhilde, Wodan is in truth no more than a departed spirit: true to his supreme resolve, he must now allow events to take their course, leave things as they are, and nowhere interfere in any decisive way; that is why he has now become the ‘Wanderer’: observe him closely! He resembles us to a tee; he is the sum total of present-day intelligence, whereas Siegfried is the man of the future whom we desire and long for but who cannot be made by us, since he must create himself on the basis of our own annihilation.” [619W-{1/25-26/54} Letter to August Roeckel: SLRW, p. 308] [See also 909W]

And in the following extract Wagner offers us a striking description, clearly a model for Wotan’s relationship with Siegfried, of his own historical position as an artist, whose creative gift allows him to rise above religious man’s nihilistic longing to end it all in the face of the world’s prosaic ugliness, and redeem himself from this insufferable existence in that “true-dream image” called art:

“Who can look, his lifetime long, with open eyes and unpent heart upon this world of robbery and murder organised and legalised by lying, deceit and hypocrisy, without being forced to flee from it at times in shuddering disgust? Wither turns his gaze? Too often to the pit of death [Wotan informs Bruennhilde in V.2.2 that he now seeks “Das Ende!”]. But him whose calling and his fate have fenced from that, to him the truest likeness of the world itself may well appear the herald of redemption sent us by its inmost soul. To be able to forget the actual world of fraud in this true-dream image, will seem to him the guerdon of the sorrowful sincerity with which he recognised its wretchedness.” [1141W-{11/82} ‘Parsifal’ at Bayreuth,1882: PW Vol. VI, p. 312] [See also 580W]

And in the following remark Wagner applies this thesis directly to the plot of the Ring:

“I had … finally completed, the poem of my ‘Ring des Nibelungen.’ With this conception I had unconsciously admitted to myself the truth about things human. Here everything is tragic through and through, and the Will, that fain would shape a world according to its wish, at last can reach no greater satisfaction than the breaking of itself in dignified annulment. It was the time when I returned entirely and exclusively to my artistic plans, and thus, acknowledging Life’s earnestness with all my heart, withdrew to where alone can ‘gladsomeness’ abide.” [694W-{64-2/65} On State and Religion: PW Vol. IV, p. 8-9]

The notion that Wotan (religion) lives on in Siegfried (art) thanks to Bruennhilde, who holds for Siegfried – and thus protects him from the paralyzing effect of – Wotan’s fatal self-knowledge, provides Wagner with a concept of reincarnation which becomes a crucial aspect of his theory of musical motifs, through which, as Wagner says in the second extract below, the past life of a hero, now forgotten by him, can be made ever present to the audience by the sounding of motifs which link the hero’s past and present lives, a concept to which Wagner later gave objective form in his final music-drama Parsifal, which some scholars have rightly described as, in effect, the fifth act of the Ring:

“It is the most sublime of all scenes [S.3.1] for the most tragic of my heroes, Wotan, who is the all-powerful will-to-exist and who is resolved upon his own self-sacrifice; greater now in renunciation than he ever was when he coveted power, he now feels all-mighty, as he calls out to the earth’s primeval wisdom, to Erda, the mother of nature, who had once taught him to fear for his end, telling her that dismay can no longer hold him in thrall since he now wills his own end with that selfsame will with which he had once desired to live. His end? He knows what Erda’s primeval wisdom does not know: that he lives on in Siegfried. Wotan lives on in Siegfried as the artist lives on in his work of art: the freer and the more autonomous the latter’s spontaneous existence and the less trace it bears of the creative artist – so that through it (the work of art), the artist himself is forgotten, -- the more perfectly satisfied does the artist himself feel: and so, in a certain higher sense, his being forgotten, his disappearance, his death is – the life of the work of art.” [693W-{11/6/64} Letter to King Ludwig II of Bavaria: SLRW, p. 626-627]

[P. 528] “Burnouff’s Introduction a l’histoire du Bouddhisme was the book that stimulated me most; I even distilled from it the material for a dramatic poem, which has remained with me ever since … . I gave it the title Die Sieger [‘The Victors’] … . Apart from the beauty and the profound significance of the simple tale, I was influenced to choose it as much by its peculiar aptness for the musical procedures that I have since developed. To the mind of the Buddha [in this instance, Wotan, who, as collective, historical man, Feuerbach’s Godhead, subsumes all other characters in the Ring], the previous lives in former incarnations of every being appearing before him stand revealed as clearly as the present. The simple story owed its significance to the way that the past life of the suffering principal characters was entwined in the new phase of their lives [P. 529] as being still present time. I perceived at once how the musical remembrance of this dual life, keeping the past constantly present in the hearing, might be represented perfectly to the emotional receptivities, and this decided me to keep the prospect of working out this task before me as a labor of especial love.” [640W-{5/16/56?} ML, p. 528-529] [See also 1005W for Wagner’s own idiosyncratic version of the mathematical theory of parallels as applied to reincarnation, God (i.e., Wotan), and Nature (Erda)] [PH: Wagner's thesis was that reincarnation can be grasped through the image of God (Wotan) and Nature (Erda) as parallel lines that meet outside of space and time. In other words, they meet in their daughter Bruennhilde, who knows for Siegfried what he doesn't know, his true identity as Wotan reborn, and who, as the sublimator of Wotan's confession of the Ring drama into musical motifs, redeems his corrupt history by condensing what is widely separated in space and time into the here and now, making all things present, through artistic Wonder, thus offering Wotan (dying religious faith) a secular substitute for the miraculous.]

The notion that Siegfried is Wotan reincarnated, minus remembrance of his true, original identity, and that this concept provides Wagner with a theoretical basis for developing his technique of associating musical motifs with particular characters, events, symbols, and ideas in his drama, is directly related to his idea that his musical motifs and revolutionary use of the romantic orchestra as an extension of the drama and, if you will, omniscient voice of the work’s author, offers a secular substitute for dying religious faith. I have already cited several key passages from Wagner’s writings which bear witness to Wagner’s concept that his music motifs, through which we no longer try to transcend nature supernaturally, but grasp nature feelingly, offer man a secular substitute for dying religious faith. [See 524W and 522W] This of course explains why Wotan’s morale is lifted from the dregs of the despair he felt when he foresaw the gods’ demise in shame, to an ecstatic embrace of his end, because it is solely through Wotan’s willing the necessity of the gods’ “going under” that Siegfried can be freed to redeem the gods’ essence, love (feeling), from Alberich’s curse. So Wotan can afford to sacrifice to Alberich the Valhallan gods and their illegitimate claim to power, which are subject to Alberich’s curse:

“Is it so utterly impossible to Theology, to take the great step that would grant to Science its irrefutable truths through surrender of Jehova [Wotan and the gods of Valhalla, indebted to Alberich’s Ring-power: #19>#20a], and to the Christian world its pure God [the artist-hero Siegfried, who will preserve the pure essence of religion, feeling, or love, in music] revealed in Jesus the only?” [928W-{3-7/78} Public and Popularity: PW Vol. VI, p. 79]

[P. 71] "The Feuerbach ending has always been characterized as a simplistic celebration of love (41); this is not the case. In the first place, while Feuerbach trumpeted a philosophy of love, he was not oblivious to the darker side of life. In 'Thoughts on Death and Immortality,' Feuerbach wrote, 'Only where there are conflict and suffering,/Where pain clouds the clarity of soul,/Only there is my true fatherland;/Pain is the pledge of Spirit.' (42) (...) Moreover, as noted, Feuerbach’s celebration of love was part and parcel of his main philosophical program of materialism which was to reorient man’s attention to the natural and temporal as opposed to the divine and immortal, and to locate man in his true context as part of a species whole. Love, for Feuerbach, therefore was not simply a sensual end in itself but the means to access the critical truths of universalism and species being."

[PH: Quotation from www.wagnerheim.com, Pages 407-408:]

And, speaking of the myth of Zeus and Semele (in which Zeus took human form to seek human love) as Wagner’s model for the relationship of Lohengrin (who it turns out did not so much redeem Elsa by coming down from the transcendent Grail realm to earth, as seek redemption from the sterility and vacuity of the illusion of divine being through Elsa’s earthly love) to Elsa, Wagner asks:

“Who had taught Man that a God could burn with love toward earthly Woman? For certain, only Man himself; who however high the object of his yearning may soar above the limits of his earthly wont, can only stamp it with the imprint of his human nature. From the highest sphere to which the might of his desire may bear him up, he finally can only long again for what is purely human, can only crave the taste of his own nature, as the one thing worth desiring. What then is the inmost essence of this Human Nature, whereto the desire which reaches forth to farthest distance turns back at last, for its only possible appeasement? It is the Necessity of Love; and the essence of this love, in its truest utterance, is the longing for utmost physical reality, for fruition in an object that can be grasped by all the senses, held fast with all the force of actual being. In this finite, physically sure embrace, must not the God dissolve and disappear? Is not the mortal, who had yearned for God, undone, annulled? Yet is not Love, in its truest, highest essence, herein revealed?” [565W-{6-8/51} A Communication To My Friends: PW Vol. I, p. 334-335] [See also 580W]

And once again we find that Wagner has not only paraphrased Feuerbach in Siegmund’s resistance to seeking the meaning of his life in Valhalla, but also in Wagner’s conception of the meaning of Lohengrin:

[P. 145] “If immortality lay in wait
For you behind this time, …
The flood of ages without end,
Without the boundary and obstacle of death,
Would wash away all your power,
Would erode all your quality.
Once in heaven, this earth
Would become for you the beautiful hereafter.
[P. 146] You would gladly give up immortality
For this time,
And, in the land of death, you
Would long to leave the tiresome angelic state
To become a loving human
Once again on this earth.
… only where there are conflict and suffering,
Where pain clouds the clarity of soul,
Only there is my true fatherland;
Pain is the pledge of Spirit.
Let cowardly clerics
Fall in love with the hereafter!
(…)
And if the whole world wished to be divine,
And to go to heaven –
… I would stay outside, …
And, back in my own home,
Would beg the old pains
To burn once again in me;
I cannot separate myself from them.
For pain is not a single part
Cut off from the health of soul … .” [22F-TDI: p. 145-146]

And not only have Siegmund and Wagner himself paraphrased Feuerbach, but also, as anyone can see who experiences the first scene of Wagner’s even earlier Romantic opera Tannhaeuser, Tannhaeuser’s complaint to Venus that he can’t bear the eternal bliss of her love, but prefers to return to the real world of pain and death where he can enjoy the pleasure of being inspired by the imagined ideal of her love to praise it in song, is borrowed from Feuerbach’s discourse on the meaninglessness of man’s longing for transcendent being above. Siegmund neither fears hell nor desires heaven, but seeks only earthly, concrete love.

[P. 73] " '[T]o be consumed by truth is to abandon oneself as a sentient human being to total reality,' Wagner wrote in 1854 [PH: To Roeckel, 25-26 Jan.], 'to experience procreation, growth, bloom – withering and decay, to apprehend them unreservedly, in joy and in sorrow [mit Wonne und Trauer], and to choose to live – and die – a life of happiness and suffering [Lust und Leid].' (47) The phrase Lust und Leid as it appears in the Feuerbach ending, then, represents the poetic synopsis of this sober, clear-eyed perspective on life."


[PH: Quotation from www.wagnerheim.com, Pages 259-260:]

Wagner saw man’s scientific impulse to accumulate an ever greater and presumably more and more accurate hoard of objective knowledge of the world, as man’s futile quest to grasp the world as a whole, to complete the circle of experience, to forge Alberich’s Ring, as it were. In this he echoes Feuerbach, and calls upon us to approach reality again through subjective feeling, as Erda calls upon Wotan to do in yielding the Ring of consciousness to the Giants in order to flee the curse of consciousness, the curse on the Ring:

“The individual … makes use of endless expedients in order to grasp the world as a whole: these expedients, in all their most manifold complexities, are … ‘concepts’ … : so proud do we deem ourselves in our ability to grasp a whole by means of concepts that, believing we have the whole, we involuntarily forget that what we have is merely a concept, in other words our pleasure comes simply from an instrument of our own making, while in the meantime we have strayed further than ever from the reality of the world. But the man who in the long term can find no real pleasure in the madness of this self-delusion … will finally recognize the need to approach reality once again in total consciousness and with the aid of feeling [i.e., music].” [606W-{1/25-26/54} Letter to August Roeckel: SLRW, p. 302]

[P. 302] “… reality … can be grasped … only if we recognize that the essence of reality lies in its endless multiplicity. This inexhaustible multiplicity which incessantly reproduces and renews itself can be apprehended, however, by feeling [music], which perceives it simply as a separate, ever-changing phenomenon: this sense of change [Erda’s “All things that are, end!”] is the essence of reality, whereas only what is imagined is changelessly unending [such as the Valhallan gods’ alleged immortality]. Only what changes is real: to be real, to live – what this means is to be created, to grow, to bloom, to wither and to die; without the necessity of death, there is no possibility of life … . [P. 303] (…) But in order to make such a consummation possible, we must abandon completely our search for the ‘whole:’ the whole reveals itself to us only in the individual manifestation … . How is this marvellous process most fully achieved? Ask Nature [Erda]! Only through love [feeling, or music]! [607W-{1/25-26/54} Letter to August Roeckel: SLRW, p. 302-303] [See also 1059W and 1115W]

[PH: I have underlined, and enlarged the font of, key portions of the following extract from Shapiro's book to draw attention to them. The quotations from www.wagnerheim.com which follow Shapiro's extract discuss these highlighted concepts at length.]

[P. 73] "But the sorrow and joy of love is not the sole message of the Feuerbach ending. Notably, in the first section of the passage in question Bruennhilde states:
'You, blossoming life’s [blühenden Lebens] enduring race:
heed well what I tell you now! --
… Though the race of gods passed away like a breath,
though I leave behind me a world without rulers,
I now bequeath to that world my most sacred wisdom’s hoard….'
(RN 362)
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