Shapiro Consolations Critique Part 8

General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung

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Shapiro Consolations Critique Part 8

Post by alberich00 » Wed Oct 07, 2020 12:01 pm

[P. 40] "But in confronting Elsa’s jealousy, Wagner did not condemn it or explain it away as the byproduct of external evil forces; rather, he embraced it as an expression of her core humanity. And he wept at the realization. As Wagner admitted later in 'A Communication,' it was Elsa and her brush with the authentic essence of love that led him to unearth the natural man Siegfried from ancient myth (CF 375)."

[PH: Shapiro has, evidently without suspecting that he has done so, touched on something here which I discovered long ago holds the key to the allegorical logic with which we can grasp the "Ring" as a whole, including the much demeaned "Goetterdaemmerung," but also holds the key to placing Wagner's other canonical operas and music-dramas, from "Dutchman" to "Parsifal," within the framework of the allegorical logic which unifies the "Ring." I first disclosed this key in my essay, "How Elsa Showed Wagner the Way to Siegfried," which Stewart Spencer published in the May, 1995 issue of WAGNER, the scholarly journal of The Wagner Society, London. The key is found in a subtle distinction between Elsa and Bruennhilde. Where Elsa only desired that Lohengrin share with her his forbidden knowledge of his true identity and origin, when Wotan confesses to Bruennhilde his divine "Noth," all that he loathes about himself, his egoism and fear of the end, and his unbearable sense of guilt over his corrupt history, in response to Bruennhilde's plea that he confide in her what ails him, Wotan represses his unbearable hoard of self-knowledge into his unconscious mind Bruennhilde, so that he might be reborn as Siegfried, the hero who doesn't know who he is (as he tells Fafner), and doesn't feel fear, because what Siegfried doesn't know, Bruennhilde knows for him, as she tells him in S.3.3, accompanied by the Fate Motif #87. In other words, unlike Elsa's plea that Lohengrin share with her the forbidden knowledge of his "Noth,", Wotan doesn't merely share the knowledge, which he couldn't bear to speak aloud, with Bruennhilde, but actually makes Bruennhilde the sole safe repository or guardian of that knowledge, so that Wotan can be reborn as Siegfried, who is freer than Wotan the god because, thanks to Bruennhilde, Siegfried is utterly purged of Wotan's paralyzing self-knowledge. Wotan, having repressed his hoard of unbearable knowledge into his unconscious mind Bruennhilde, the artist-hero Siegfried's muse Bruennhilde will inspire Wotan's heir Siegfried subliminally, and therefore safely, with that horrific knowledge, sublimating Wotan's abhorrence and fear into love's, or secular art's, bliss.]

[PH: See Quotation from, Pages 366-367; already cited]

[PH: Quotation from, Pages 367-369:]

“With the conception of ‘Siegfried,’ I had pressed forward to where I saw before me the Human Being in the most natural and blithest fulness of his physical life. No historic garment more, confined his limbs [thanks to the fact that Wotan repressed his knowledge of history into his unconscious mind Bruennhilde, who will hold this knowledge for Siegfried and protect him from suffering consciousness of it]; no outwardly-imposed relation hemmed in his movements, which, springing from the inner fount of Joy-in-life, so bore themselves in face of all encounter, that error and bewilderment … might heap themselves around until they threatened to destroy him, without the hero checking for a moment, even in the face of death, the welling outflow of that Inner fount [i.e., Siegfried is fearless, thanks to Bruennhilde holding for him, and protecting him from, Erda’s knowledge, which paralyzed Wotan with existential fear of the end] … . It was ‘Elsa’ who had taught me to unearth this man [since Elsa offered to share with Lohengrin the secret of his identity and origin, and protect him from the anguish (i.e., “Noth”), which bringing this knowledge up from the silent depths of the unconscious to the light of day might inflict on Lohengrin]: to me, he was the male-embodied spirit of perennial and sole creative instinct (Unwillkuer) [i.e., an unconsciously inspired artist-hero], of the doer of true Deeds, of Manhood in the utmost fulness of its inborn strength and proved loveworthiness.” [579W-{6-8/51} A Communication To My Friends: PW Vol. I, p. 375] [See also 498W]

So it appears that Wagner found his formula for the truly free, fearless, purely-human hero, miraculously disconnected from Wotan’s historical time and context, from the natural necessity or fate, Erda’s knowledge, which her daughters the Norns spin, in Feuerbach’s critique of immortality. But Wagner here adds the most striking point of all, that it was his heroine Elsa, from Lohengrin, who taught him to unearth his de-contextualized Siegfried, a man freed from all natural preconditions and debts. The following extracts from Wagner’s writings will provide clues through which we can grasp what lies behind not only Wagner’s claim that Elsa taught him to unearth his Siegfried, but also the self-evident fact that Feuerbach led him to Siegfried.

Our key clue is to be found in a comparison between the following extracts from Feuerbach and Wagner’s paraphrases of them. In our first, cryptic passage, Feuerbach implies that illusion, Maya, effectively protected the world-creator Brahma from foreseeing the terrible nature of the world he was about to create so well, that instead of being paralyzed into inaction by depressing foreknowledge of his prospective creation, which presumably would otherwise have kept him from proceeding, he joyously gave birth to the world:

“Maya once drove away the melancholy of the ancient Brahma so that a depressed person was changed into a creator of the world.” [38F-TDI: p. 250]

It appears that thanks to self-deception, the sort of self-blinding or madness called Wahn, the world-creator Brahma no longer foresaw the evil his creation of the world would bring about, and so he was able to freely, fearlessly create what previously, through his foresight of the terrible truth, he was too depressed to create. We can’t help being reminded of the relationship between the sorrowful Wotan, who confesses his self-abhorrence, and abhorrence of the world he has created, to his daughter Bruennhilde, and Siegfried, who, thanks to Bruennhilde’s protection, is freed from the knowledge which paralyzed Wotan into inaction, so that Siegfried can spontaneously, joyously create art without fear.

Now in the following passage from Wagner, clearly influenced by Feuerbach’s remarks above, we must remember that “Prometheus” means foresight or foreknowledge in Greek. The implication for our (and presumably Wagner’s) reading of the Prometheus myth is that when Prometheus stole fire from the Olympian gods in order to grant this gift to mortal man, he also bestowed foresight on mortal man. This foresight included that of man’s inevitable end, which, according to Plato, is what makes humans unique and prone to philosophize, to reflect on the mysteries of existence. Foresight not only granted man a conceptual power through which he surpassed all other animals, but it also engendered existential fear of the end, since, alone among animals, man can contemplate the inevitability of his death. But here Wagner says that Prometheus, who we must assume granted mortal man the gift of divine – though forbidden - knowledge, also took knowledge away from man, presumably to protect him from this divine foresight and the fear it engenders. In other words, he who delivered the wound of consciousness alone can heal this wound:

“On his return R. says to me, ‘Prometheus’s words “I took knowledge away from Man” came to my mind and gave me a profound insight; knowledge, seeing ahead is in fact a divine attribute, and Man with this divine attribute is a piteous object, he is like Brahma before the Maya spread before him the veil of ignorance, of deception; the divine privilege is the saddest thing of all.’ ” [809W-{11/29/71} CD Vol. I, p. 435-436]

Significantly, the punishment Zeus metes out to Prometheus for granting mortal man these divine gifts is to be bound to the top of a mountain (shades of Wotan’s punishment of Bruennhilde in V.3.2-3), where a vulture perpetually eats his liver – creating a wound that will never heal, the very wound which I believe is the basis for all the wounds, both literal and figurative, which belabor so many of Wagner’s protagonists. It is man’s inherent gift of foresight, the hallmark of the human species, which is the cause of that unhealing wound. Prometheus, the giver of divine foresight to mortal man (which was more than man could bear, according to many of the origin myths found throughout the world), must also therefore be the inspirer of that Wahn, that veil of Maya or self-deception, through which man no longer foresees the end, and therefore can escape existential fear. It is no accident, therefore, that Wotan echoes the last line from this passage in Cosima’s Diaries, that he is the saddest of all the living, for Erda has granted him foresight of the inevitable end of the gods. In saying this, Wotan, representing collective, historical man, is merely saying that man is the saddest of all living creatures. Like Prometheus in our present reading, just as Erda delivers the wound of fatal knowledge, her daughter Bruennhilde offers temporary healing of this wound by taking knowledge away from Wotan. By imparting the knowledge to Bruennhilde which her mother Erda imparted to him, Wotan represses this knowledge and loses consciousness of it. Thus Bruennhilde takes Wotan’s self-knowledge away, allowing him to be reborn as Siegfried, who is Wotan himself, but minus self-knowledge. This is precisely why Bruennhilde, in S.3.3, tells Siegfried that what he does not know she knows for him, i.e., his fateful history and true identity, i.e., his knowledge of his true, egoistic motives which underlie his evidently spontaneous and free actions. And the fact that Wagner’s Fate Motif (#87) sounds just at the moment Bruennhilde is telling Siegfried this clinches the matter.

In the following passages Wagner elaborates on this theme that redemption, freeing man to attain the highest creativity, depends upon being unconscious of one’s artistically creative thought processes, which he clearly identifies with “woman.” Conscious knowledge, which Wagner regards as a stumbling block (as it clearly is for both Alberich and Wotan), must be repressed to release man’s (i.e., the artist’s) latent creativity:

“Consciousness [which Wagner identifies with the male, as opposed to the female] is the end, the dissolution of unconsciousness: but unconscious agency is the agency of nature [Bruennhilde is the agency of her mother Erda], of the inner necessity … . … Not ye, but the folk – which deals unconsciously – and for that very reason , from a nature-instinct – will bring the new to pass; but the might of the folk is lamed for just so long as it lets itself be led by the chain of an obsolete intelligence, a hindering consciousness: only when this is completely annihilated by and in itself, -- only when we all know and perceive that we must yield ourselves, not to our intelligence, but to the necessity of nature [by which, in this instance, Wagner means feeling, or music, or what is universal and therefore purely-human], therefore when we have become brave enough to deny our intellect [Wotan represses his knowledge by confessing it to Bruennhilde], shall we obtain from natural unconsciousness [from Bruennhilde], from want [“Noth”], the force to produce the new, to bring the stress of nature to our consciousness through its satisfaction.” [465W-{49-51 (?)} Notes for ‘Artisthood of the Future’ (unfinished); Sketches and Fragments: PW Vol. VIII, p. 345]

[P. 42] "But not everyone was so convinced that the dismantling of religious guideposts alone would have such salubrious effects, or that the transition from a world of faith to a secular society could be accomplished without psychic pain. (24) Carlyle, for one, astutely recognized that the eradication of traditional modes of faith from contemporary society threatened to leave a dangerous spiritual vacuum. Carlyle’s agenda in 'Characteristics' and then 'Sartor' was therefore not just a practical legal and cultural one of advising his readers to adapt their laws and customs to the times, but a spiritual one of trying to solve the urgent moral question about the state of man’s soul in a post-theological world. Christianity may have outlived its usefulness, but some form of faith was still a critical requisite for man’s composure. Carlyle rejected the legacy of the Enlightenment which promoted a mechanistic, utilitarian vision of man. Materialism and system-building had left man spiritually empty. Logic was not the answer to man’s ills. '[T]he sum of man’s misery is even this, that he feel himself crushed under the Juggernaut wheels, and know that Juggernaut is no divinity, but a dead mechanical idol,' he bluntly told his readers in his 1831 essay 'Characteristics.' 'The God-like has vanished from the world' he mourned. (25) Man needed a receptivity to wonder and mystery in order to flourish."

[PH: Comparing Shapiro's assessment of Carlyle's thought with the thesis I presented in, one can easily discern the parallel to the plot of the "Ring" as I've described it, in which Wotan (metaphor for dying religious faith) seeks an alternative to Alberich's and Hagen's scientific world-view, in which man is considered solely an object, not a subject (not a spirit), in the Wonder of the redemptive secular art Bruennhilde will inspire Siegfried to create, which unlike religious belief doesn't posit man's transcendence of the world, but within the world grants man the feeling of being lifted above or outside it.]

[P. 42-43] "In Act III of 'Die Walkuere,' Bruennhilde, facing punishment by Wotan, pleads with her father to spare her the ignominy of becoming the possession of the first man to find her on the rock. As she lays out the arguments for mercy, she tries to revive Wotan’s faith in his plan: 'you fathered a noble race,' 'Sieglinde nurtures the holiest seed,' 'She safeguards the sword' (RN 188). By proposing that she be awakened only by Siegfried, Bruennhilde demonstrates her sustained commitment to Wotan’s vision and strives to convince her father to continue to put some renewed hope in his failing enterprise. In the end, she succeeds. (...) That her human loyalty to Siegfried proves in the end stronger than her duty to the gods does not detract from the fact that the divine power structure is still a vivid reality for her and that the Siegfried she reveres is Wotan’s creation and the instrument of his great plan."

[P. 43] "Wagner reinforces this conception of Bruennhilde’s spiritual mindset through the musical themes he marshals to define Bruennhilde and Siegfried’s love. In the third act of Siegfried, Wotan’s sweeping World Inheritance motif [PH: #134], which captures Wotan’s joyous recognition of Siegfried as his heir, is fully appropriated by the lovers."

[PH: One of the things which most distinguishes Shapiro's book from my online "Ring" interpretation at is that he, unlike myself, doesn't seem to have recognized that Wotan's having left Siegfried and Bruennhilde his heirs (after having accepted Erda's verdict that the gods' doom is fated by Alberich's Ring Curse), through whose loving union Wotan hopes the world will be redeemed from Alberich's Ring Curse, is quite distinct from the final redemption Bruennhilde obtains by joining Siegfried in death and releasing Alberich's Ring to the Rhinedaughters so they can dissolve it and its curse in the Rhine. The first redemption Wotan hoped for in S.3.1 during his last confrontation with his former lover and Bruennhilde's mother Erda, he joyously welcomed, but the last, quite distinct redemption through restoration of Alberich's Ring to the Rhinedaughters, he seeks in deep depression and a state of nihilistic desperation. The World-Inheritance Motif #134 is evidently identified exclusively with Wotan's first hope for redemption in S.3.1, since Wagner's Motif #93, sometimes called the Redemption By Love Motif (Shapiro's Annunciation of Life Motif), is the primary motif identified with the final redemption achieved through restoration of the Ring to the Rhinedaughters. I suspect that one reason for Shapiro's failure to distinguish these different kinds of redemption is that he never grasped what kind of a hero Siegfried is, namely, Wagner's metaphor for the artist-hero, and therefore also never understood that Bruennhilde is Siegfried's muse of unconscious artistic inspiration. Shapiro only seems to have understood Siegfried and Bruennhilde within Wagner's more general frame of reference, that in them man's former religious world-view is superseded by the Hegelian/Feuerbachian notion of species consciousness. What Shapiro got right (but without the benefit of knowing its full context) was that Wotan's theology in a sense lives on in Siegfried and Bruennhilde. The full context Shapiro missed was Wagner's Feuerbachian trope that dying religious faith lives on in inspired secular art (Wagner's music-dramas) as feeling rather than thought, which is why Wotan incorrectly informs Erda that Siegfried is invulnerable to Alberich's Curse of consciousness, and that Bruennhilde, waking, will redeem the world from Alberich's Ring Curse (what she does upon waking is inspire Siegfried to create redemptive art).]

[PH: Quotation from, Page 642:]

The following extract provides proof that Wagner distinguished the redemption offered by the loving union of Siegfried with Bruennhilde, in which Valhalla’s blissful dream can live anew, from the final redemption gained through returning the Ring to the Rhine. Wotan clearly hoped - as he expresses it to Erda here, accompanied by #134 (which Wagner called the Redemption Motif) - that Siegfried’s love for Bruennhilde, and Bruennhilde’s deed, upon waking for Siegfried, in inspiring him to produce art, would redeem the world:

“ … the pernicious power that poisons love is concentrated in the gold that is stolen from nature and put to ill use, the Nibelung’s ring: the curse that clings to it is not lifted until it is restored to nature and until the gold has been returned to the Rhine. This, too, becomes clear to Wodan only at the very end, once he has reached the final goal of his tragic career; in his lust for power, he had utterly ignored what Loge had so frequently and so movingly warned him of at the beginning of the poem; initially – thanks to Fafner’s deed – he learned to recognize the power of the curse; but not until the ring proves the ruin of Siegfried, too, does he see that only by restoring to the Rhine what had been stolen from its depths can evil be destroyed, and that is why he makes his own longed-for downfall a pre-condition of the extirpation of a most ancient wrong. Experience is everything.“ [616W-{1/25-26/54} Letter to August Roeckel: SLRW, p. 307]

The fact that the love of hero and heroine, though believed by Wotan to be the key to redemption, is totally distinct from the final redemption the Rhinedaughters will offer, is implicit in the fact that both Siegfried and Bruennhilde in Twilight of the Gods will refuse pleas to return the Ring to the Rhine (a refusal which Siegfried makes to the Rhinedaughters themselves) by invoking love, that is to say, art, as an alternative to returning the Ring to the Rhinedaughters. The final redemption the Rhinedaughters offer will be, as Deryck Cooke put it, a metaphysical redemption. [Cooke: P. 247]

[PH: Quotation from, Pages 687-688:]

#134 is heard again in the context of Bruennhilde’s closing remark that she is knowing, in the special way she has described, only because she loves Siegfried. This makes it ever more clear that Bruennhilde - who knows for Siegfried what he does not know himself, the contents of Wotan’s confession of his unspoken secret to Bruennhilde - is Wotan’s unconscious mind, and, as the repository for Wotan’s confession, the hidden source of inspiration for the art Siegfried will produce in union with his muse. We could virtually describe #134, which Wagner himself identified as the “Redemption Motif,” and described as sounding like the herald of a “new religion” when first heard in S.3.1, as the symbol for Wagner’s own unconsciously inspired music-dramas, the heir to lost religious faith. When the orchestra introduced it in S.3.1, Wotan was telling Erda that he no longer feared the death of the gods (the end of the old, traditional religion) because Siegfried and Bruennhilde (Siegfried’s secular art, the Wagnerian music-drama, the new religion) would redeem the world (and presumably redeem Valhalla, at least figuratively) from Alberich’s curse on the Ring.

This new religion, the redemption of the terrible world through music (love), the language of the unconscious, would give birth to a new world constructed according to man’s heart, an aesthetically conceived world of music-drama. This would be reversing the natural progress of evolution described by Feuerbach, in which the physical world gave birth to man, who in turn invented the transcendent, illusory world of gods, and ultimately resorted to music to express man’s longing for transcendent value when belief in gods was no longer sustainable in the face of man’s advancement of knowledge. Wagner describes this reversal of the natural order, Siegfried the artist-hero’s perpetuation of Wotan’s sin against Mother Nature, below:

“Everywhere we see the inner law, only conceivable as sprung from the spirit of Music, prescribe the outer law that regulates the world of sight … . But that paradise was lost: the fount of motion of a world ran dry. Like a ball once thrown, the world spun round the curve of its trajectory, but no longer was it driven by a moving soul; and so its very motion must grow faint at last, until the world-soul has been waked again [Wotan wakes Erda; Siegfried wakes Bruennhilde]. It was the spirit of Christianity that rewoke to life the soul of Music. (…)

As for our present Civilisation, especially insofar as it influences the artistic man, we certainly may assume that nothing but the spirit of our Music, that music which Beethoven set free from bondage to the Mode, can dower it with a soul again. And the task of giving to the new, more soulful civilisation that haply may arise herefrom, the new Religion to inform it – this task must obviously be reserved for the German Spirit alone … [i.e., it must be reserved for Wagner’s music-drama].” [791W-{9-12/70} Beethoven: PW Vol. V, p. 121; p. 123]

It seems self-evident that Siegfried’s waking of Bruennhilde, Erda’s (Mother Nature’s) daughter, directly following Wotans’ waking of Erda herself, can be construed as what Wagner described above as a paradise – once lost - which has now been regained, because Siegfried has wakened the world-soul (music) again. It is, to all intents and purposes, Siegfried’s waking of Bruennhilde which Wagner identifies in our extract above with Feuerbach’s notion of a new, secular religion, which uplifts the human species and its mother, nature, by consigning the gods, products of man’s fantasy, and an insult to nature, to oblivion. This secular religion, which locates the source of all value in the human species itself, will replace the old belief in gods. In this sense Siegfried’s and Bruennhilde’s love is a figurative twilight of the gods, as will become clear in Bruennhilde’s final invocation and dismissal of the gods which closes this act.

[PH: Quotation from, Pages 694-696:]

Our following extracts trace the influence of Feuerbach’s notion that when religious faith, religion as conceptual thought, is dying out in the face of man’s scientific advancement in knowledge, man’s religious longing for transcendence lives on, minus its intellectual or conceptual component, in music (just as Wotan’s Valhallan ideal lives on in his daughter Bruennhilde, the muse for Siegfried’s secular art).

“ … only where … the distinction between the divine [Wotan] and human being [Siegfried] is abolished, … is religion made a mere matter of feeling, or conversely, feeling the chief point in religion. The last refuge of theology [Wotan and the Valhallan gods] therefore is feeling [Bruennhilde]. God is renounced by the understanding; he has no longer the dignity of a real object, of a reality which imposes itself on the understanding [Alberich’s threat to expose the gods as mortal egoists just like him has forced Wotan to “go under,” by repressing this unbearable thought, his hoard of objective knowledge, into his unconscious mind Bruennhilde, who sublimates it into feeling, i.e., music]; hence he is transferred to feeling; in feeling his existence is thought to be secure. And doubtless this is the safest refuge; for to make feeling the essence of religion is nothing else than to make feeling the essence of God. And as certainly as I exist, so certainly does my feeling exist; and as certainly as my feeling exists, so certainly does my God exist.” [145F-EOC: p. 283]

“What would man be without feeling? It is the musical power in man. But what would man be without music? Just as man has a musical faculty and feels an inward necessity to breathe out his feelings in song; so, by a like necessity, he in religious sighs and tears streams forth the nature of feeling as an objective, divine nature.” [65F-EOC: p. 63]

“Fortunately, despite his servitude to theology, Luther found, outside of religion or theology, antidotes to the power of sin, hell, the devil or, what amounts to the same thing, the divine wrath. In a Latin letter to L. Senfel he writes that music, too, gives man what otherwise only theology can bestow, namely, a tranquil and serene mind, that the Devil, the author of all cares and emotional disturbances [say, Alberich and his curse, and Erda’s knowledge, both of which wane before Wotan’s Will, Bruennhilde], takes flight at the sound of music as he does at the word of theology.” [321F-LER: p. 291]

And here we find Wagner in his last years (interestingly, long, long after he claimed he had renounced Feuerbach altogether in preference for Schopenhauer’s philosophy) paraphrasing Feuerbach with considerable poetic flair on the subject of music as heir to religious faith:

“Yet another Hope might quicken once more in me, if only I could see it stirring in the breasts of others. It comes not from without. Men of science persuade us that Copernicus reduced the ancient Church-belief to ruins with his planetary system, since it robbed God Almighty of his heavenly seat. (…) The god within the human breast, of whose transcendent being our great Mystics were so certain sure, that god who needs no heavenly-home demonstrable by science, has given the parsons more ado. For us Germans had he become our inmost own: but our Professors have done him many a harm … . Yet this approachless god of ours had begotten much within us, and when at last he [Wotan] had to vanish, he left us – in eternal memory of him – Music [Bruennhilde].” [999W-{12/25/79} Introduction to the Year 1880: PW Vol. VI, p. 34]

In the following passage Wagner explains how, in the face of scientific inquiry (“physics”), music can save the essence of religious feeling, while religious thought (“the church’s thunders”) fights on futilely against science in its quest to control thought:

“ … the Folk … demands a realistic notion of divine eternity in the affirmative sense, such as Theology herself can only give it in the negative ‘world without end.’ Religion, too, could ease this craving by naught but allegoric myths and images, from which the Church then built that storeyed dogma whose collapse has become notorious [the twilight of the gods Erda foretold]. How these crumbling blocks were turned to the foundation of an art [modern orchestral music] unknown to the ancient world, I have endeavoured to show in my preceding article on ‘Religion and Art’; of what import to the ‘Folk’ itself this art might become through its full emancipation from unseemly service [Siegfried freed from the gods’ influence], and upon the soil of a new moral order, we should set ourselves in earnest to discover. Here again our philosopher [Wagner speaks here of Schopenhauer, though he first became acquainted with these ideas in Feuerbach’s writings] would lead us to a boundless outlook on the realm of possibilities, if we sought out all the wealth contained in the following pregnant sentences: -- ‘Complete contentment, the truly acceptable state, never present themselves to us but in an image, in the Artwork, the Poem, in Music.” [1048W-{11/80}What Boots This Knowledge – First Supplement to ‘Religion and Art’: PW Vol. VI, p. 260-261]

In our final selection from Wagner’s writings on this subject Wagner calls music the God within us, and describes it as our last religion, which gives us the power of rebirth (just as Wotan, thanks to Bruennhilde, is reborn in Siegfried) if we preserve her integrity:

“Our Music he [“the Devil”] shall not thus deal with; for still it is the living god within our bosom. Let us guard it therefore, and ward off all profaning hands. For us it shall become no ‘literature’; in it resides our final hope of life itself. There is something special in our German Music, ay, something divine. (…) We alone know ‘Music’ as herself, and to us she gives the power of all regeneration and new-birth; but only while we hold her holy. Were we to lose the sense of genuineness in this one art, we had lost our last possession. May it therefore not mislead our friends, if precisely on this field, of Music, we show a front implacable to whatsoe’er we rate as spurious. Indeed it wakes in us no little pain, to see the downfall of our musical affairs so utterly unheeded; for so our last religion melts away in jugglery.” [1000W-{12/25/79} Introduction to the Year 1880: PW Vol. VI, p. 34-35]

And here we find a basis for Wotan’s (religious man’s) insistence that he must wholly sever himself from Bruennhilde (music) and her concerns, and also for Bruennhilde’s remark to Siegfried that what Wotan thought, she felt:

“Through the art of Tone did the Christian Lyric thus first become itself an art: the music of the Church was sung to the words of the abstract dogma; in its effect however, it dissolved those words and the ideas they fixed, to the point of their vanishing out of sight; and hence it rendered nothing to the enraptured Feeling save their pure emotional content.


This lofty property of Music’s enabled her at last to quite divorce herself from the reasoned word; and the noblest music completed this divorce in measure as religious Dogma became the toy of Jesuitic casuistry or rationalistic pettifogging. (…) Only her final severance from the decaying Church [Siegfried’s and Bruennhilde’s independence of Wotan and the gods in Valhalla] could enable the art of Tone to save the noblest heritage of the Christian idea in its purity of over-worldly reformation … .” [1026W-{6-8/80} Religion and Art: PW Vol. VI, p. 223-224]

[P. 43-45] "While this theme [PH: #149] is clearly associated with Bruennhilde, there is more to its associative power. The Mortal Bruennhilde theme first emerges in the brief orchestral interlude between scenes i and ii of the Prologue, where its roulades are exploited to rapturous effect to evoke the rising sun. It then shapes Bruennhilde’s first words to the hero: her exhortation to Siegfried to fulfill his destiny with 'new deeds': 'zu neuen Taten' ... . A number of commentators have noted, Cooke and Darcy included, that this theme bears a number of similarities with the musical phrase that Sieglinde had [[ 'Zu neuen Taten, teurer Helden' ]] previously intoned in the third act of 'Die Walkuere,' variously known as Transformation, Redemption of Love, or Glorification of Bruennhilde [PH: #93].

[P. 45] "The wonder that Sieglinde had expressed at the miracle of birth, and the prospect of a heroic heir, is now adapted to reflect Bruennhilde’s trust in that particular heir. Both are motifs of anticipation – Sieglinde looked forward to the birth of the hero; Bruennhilde now anticipates the hero’s deeds. For this reason, the new Bruennhilde motif can just as legitimately be labeled 'Bruennhilde’s Faith in Siegfried.'

[PH: As I pointed out at, Motif #149, the so-called Bruennhilde as Siegfried's Mortal Wife Motif, is associated specifically at its inception in T.P.B with Bruennhilde inspiring Siegfried to undertake new adventures in the wider world, and in my interpretation this is a metaphor for his creation of redemptive works of art his muse Bruennhilde has inspired him to create unconsciously. Wagner reserved his dramatization of an artist-hero successfully performing his unconsciously inspired, redemptive work of art for an audience for "Mastersingers." Siegfried's only heroic deed inspired by Bruennhilde we see Siegfried perform in the "Ring" (we must assume he's performed numerous deeds of inspired art before he arrived at Gibichung Hall) however, is Siegfried's singing the narrative of his heroic life and how he learned the meaning of the Woodbird's song, for his audience of Gibichungs, which is Wagner's metaphor for his performance of his own "Ring" in which, according to Wagner's allegory, Siegfried betrayed his secret of unconscious artistic inspiration (kept for him previously by his muse Bruennhilde). For once Siegfried falls under the influence of Alberich's Ring Curse of consciousness through its agent Hagen, he unwittingly betrays his muse of unconscious artistic inspiration Bruennhilde and Wotan's unspoken secret, his forbidden hoard of knowledge, to the light of day.]
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