The Metaphysics of Blood & The Future Folk State
The Metaphysics of Blood & The Future Folk State
What is a Rant, really?
An individual who knows a little about something, does not, necessarily, miss the whole point.
But, delivery is important.
Let’s see if ‘Twitchy‘ can think in a hundred words or less:
Part 8 of 8
We can say that the plot of the Ring is simply this: Western man, in the person of Wotan, finally awakens to the destructiveness of his thumotic nature, and wills his own end. (See my review of Duchesne’s Uniqueness of Western Civilization for a discussion of how Western man is preeminently thumotic man.) This comes initially in the form of agape, the negation of thumos. Wotan allows himself and the rule of thumos to be displaced by the hopeful, new world ruled by agape. But, alas, it is not to be. Thumos, in its degenerate forms, re-emerges and destroys the love of Siegfried and Brünnhilde.
Now, one could claim, however, that love does win in the end. When Brünnhilde touches the torch to the funeral pyre and consumes the entire, imperfect world with all of its power lusters, she does so out of love for Siegfried. This is true in a way, but something much more is at work here. To see this, we must look closely at what Brünnhilde says at the climax of the drama. As the fire blazes she does speak of Siegfried to her horse, Grane: “Does the laughing fire lure you to him? – Feel how the flames burn in my breast, effulgent fires seize hold of my heart: to clasp him to me while held in my arms and in mightiest love and to be wedded to him!” But earlier she says something far more significant, calling to Wotan: “[It] was I whom the purest man had to betray, that a woman might grow wise. – Do I now know what you need? All things, all things, all things I know [Alles! Alles! Alles weiss ich], all is clear to me now!”
Part 7 of 8
If Wotan is the main character of the Ring, Siegfried is its hero. However, in dealing with the character of Siegfried we do not depart from our discussion of Wotan at all. This is because Siegfried, like many of the other characters in the Ring, is a kind of hypostatization of an aspect of Wotan himself.
We have already seen this in several cases. Loge represents the crafty, creative-destructive intellect utilized by Wotan, which eventually leads him astray. Fricka is the personification of Wotan’s rigid and barren laws. Brünnhilde is the embodiment of Wotan’s will. Alberich is Wotan’s dark side, which he finds himself tending toward, as he confesses in Die Walküre. What, then, does Siegfried represent?
Let’s consider once more Wotan’s words to Brünnhilde: “To my loathing I find only ever myself in all that I encompass! That other self for which I yearn, that other self I never see; for the free man has to fashion himself – serfs are all I can shape!” Siegfried is somehow a counterpart self to Wotan. Of course, the same could be said of Alberich. But here the relationship is of an entirely different order. Alberich represents Wotan’s dark alter ego, which he abhors, whereas Siegfried represents a kind of ideal that Wotan longs for. In some sense, Siegfried possesses something Wotan lacks. But just what is this? The most obvious answer is freedom – Wotan makes this clear in the lines just quoted. Siegfried is free of the entanglements that restrict Wotan. But there is something else at work here as well.
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Lana del Rey
Part 5 of 8
The story of the Ring involves four ages, similar to those taught in Tradition.
The Age of Titans is the period represented by figures somehow more primordial than the gods: Erda, the Norns, and possibly the Rhine daughters. Events in this age are not depicted in the Ring; they are merely referred to (primarily in Götterdämmerung).
The Age of Gods is the time dominated by Wotan and the other divinities (who, aside from Fricka, have little to do in the Ring). It is depicted in Das Rheingold, and the stage is set for its passing away in Die Walküre.
The Age of Heroes is portrayed in Siegfried, and the Prologue to Götterdämmerung. However, it is really only truly inaugurated in Act Three of Siegfried, at the moment when the hero shatters Wotan’s spear. Of all the ages, its duration in the Ring is the briefest.
Wagner’s Place in the Germanic TraditionPart 4:
Wotan & the Faustian West
Part 4 of 8
Wotan and the Faustian West
As noted in the Introduction to this essay, at the time of the Ring’s conception Wagner was an anarchist revolutionary. Major influences on his thinking included Bakunin, Feuerbach, Hegel, and possibly Marx (though of these only Bakunin was an anarchist). Wagner’s anarchist ideology is readily apparent not just in his early notes on the Ring, but in the finished cycle of operas.
In the first draft of the Siegfrieds Tod libretto (see Part One of this essay), Siegfried enters Valhalla at the drama’s climax, and a sort of anarchist utopia is established on earth. In the 1848 “Sketch” of the Ring, Wagner has Brünnhilde cry to the Nibelungs “Not Alberich shall receive [the ring]; no more shall he enslave you, but he himself be free as ye.” Here we detect an influence of Hegel’s “master-slave dialectic”: the master is actually unfree; he only attains true freedom for himself when all are free.
Part 3 of 5
Wagner’s Use of Sources for the Ring
As a brief summary of how Wagner makes use of the major sources discussed in section three above, I don’t think one could do any better than this paragraph from an article by Elizabeth Magee:
Looking back, we can see how the Eddas supplied most of Das Rheingold, aided by a view of the Nibelungs taken from Das Lied vom hürnen Seyfrid. The Volsunga saga, supplemented by skaldic poetry, dominates Die Walküre. Siegfried retains the Wanderer from the Volsunga Saga and introduces the Thidreks saga boyhood tale into an Edda– based scenario. In Götterdämmerung Wagner blends Edda and Volsunga saga material until finally, at Siegfried’s death, the German Nibelungenlied is allowed to come into its own. The perishing of the gods of the epilogue and the purging by fire and flood bring us back to the Snorra Edda and the Völuspá.
Of course, there’s a great deal more to tell – and it is a rather intricate story. Still, a full study of Wagner’s adaptation of the sources would take a book-length work, so we can only scratch the surface here.
Part 2 of 5
The Story of Der Ring des Nibelungen
For the uninitiated, I will now tell the story of the Ring, confining myself to essentials. Even the initiated would do well to read this summary, just to re-familiarize themselves with the story, as the account of Wagner’s use of the source material to follow will presuppose that one is well-acquainted with the events of all four operas. Those who feel they are very familiar with the storyline of the Ring can skip to the next installment.
Das Rheingold begins deep beneath the surface of the river Rhine. Three mermaids, or water nymphs (“Rhine Daughters”) guard a chunk of gold which possesses special properties: using a magic spell, it can be shaped into a ring which would confer on its wearer mastery over the entire earth. However, there’s a catch: the spell can only be worked by one who has completely renounced love. The dwarf Alberich appears and desperately tries to woo the Rhine daughters. After they taunt the ugly creature mercilessly, he renounces love and steals the gold.
Meanwhile on a nearby mountain, Wotan and the gods are waiting to take possession of Valhalla, which is being built for them by a pair of giants. Egged on by the mischievous Loge, Wotan has made an unwise deal with them: he has promised the giants the beautiful Freia as payment, should they complete the job on time. Wotan fully expects to be able to get out of this deal, on some pretext or other. But when the giants finish the job and show up expecting payment, he is at a loss to know what to do. He can’t give up Freia, as she is the source of the golden apples that keep the gods eternally young.