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The Ring of the Nibelung
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have genuinely discerned several key aspects of the subject of Wagner’s Ring allegory which previously had remained largely obscure.

I close this introduction with my reconstruction of the world-view, or Weltanschauung, which seems to be implicit in the libretto text and music of Wagner’s Ring. This will help guide you, the reader, as you explore my study of the Ring, The Wound That Will Never Heal.

 

Wagner's Weltanschauung (world-view)

 

(As reconstructed from a study of the libretto of Richard Wagner’s Ring)

 

When, after billions of years of evolution of our animal lineage, we rose to consciousness of ourselves as human beings, we were distinguished from all our animal relatives by – among other gifts - our conscious (not instinctive) foresight, our unique advantage in being able to consciously plan ahead. Our disadvantage lay in the fact that this same reflective, symbolic intelligence, this godlike gift which we inherited seemingly from “nowhere,” and which gave us the cunning, power, and civilized arts through which we dominated the earth and all other animals, also allowed us to foresee our natural end, so that our gifts of abstraction and imagination actually magnified our natural fear and suffering to greater intensity than that known to our fellow animals. Our animal ancestors and relatives were therefore distinguished from us by their “innocence.”

While our mental gifts seemed “not of this world,” our existential anguish (“Noth”) seemed all too much a part of it, for the simple reason that we seek pleasure and abhor pain, and naturally desire to segregate pleasure from pain. Thus arose the popular notion that our world, the real world, is hell, and heaven must be a transcendent “elsewhere.” So, waking from our former animal unconsciousness to find ourselves heir to such god-like gifts, but suffering also from a heightened, tragic awareness of life’s anguish (“Noth”), which no other animal shared with us, we assumed that our blessedness must be our proper condition, and our wretchedness abnormal, and that we had fallen into our present woeful condition through some lapse. How, after all, could we be both god and animal? On the one hand, we could not see ourselves as gods, since a god by definition does not suffer and die. But on the other hand, we could not reconcile ourselves with our true, animal nature, because no other animals (so far as we know) contemplate the infinite and universal, or strive to redeem themselves from concrete reality. We could not think of our anguish (“Noth”) as a natural product of our gifts, so we imagined that we had sinned by stealing these gifts from heaven, and suffered divine wrath as punishment.

In reality, however, the paradise that we thought we had lost through sin was not a spiritual realm freed from nature, but rather the general unconsciousness or instinct, the life of “feeling” that we once shared with all animals. But we could not afford to admit this. We proposed instead the existence of a realm outside of nature and therefore freed from the pain of life in it. Since we needed to deceive ourselves about this, to assert the priority and autonomy of our supernatural realm of redemption from the real world, Mother Nature, and our animal nature, once innocent, seemed to us abhorrent. So we renounced her and disavowed our debt to her, in favor of our beloved spirit realm (beloved because it is the product of our imagination at the service of our fears and desires). Through our love for our imaginary gods, we had figuratively killed our mother, Nature.

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