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The Rhinegold: Page 124
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which gave the Rhinedaughters aesthetic bliss, into the Ring of worldly power, Woglinde’s Rhinedaughter music celebrating the Rhinegold subtly transforms and harmonically deepens to become #17, often known as the “World’s Inheritance Motif,” which will soon transform into perhaps the most important motif of the Ring, the Ring Motif itself, #19. #19 will in turn give birth to the first segment of the motif representing the gods’ heavenly abode Valhalla, #20a. This was one of Cooke’s most startling and fruitful observations. The interesting point here is that music associated initially with the Rhinedaughters’ aesthetic, playful, subjective relationship with the Rhinegold, evolves fluently and naturally into #19, the motif representing the antithesis of love and subjective feeling, namely, the power of the conscious human mind, of reflective thought. This suggests that what begins as love, or feeling, naturally evolves over time into a conscious motivation to gain power.

Wagner drew a similar distinction, i.e., like that between the Rhinedaughters’ aesthetic, playful attitude to the Rhinegold, and Alberich’s insistence on finding its practical use and profit, in his distinction between what he calls “German,” i.e., enjoyment for its own sake (as in art for art’s sake), and ulterior, utilitarian motives, which he describes as un-German (and which he tended to identify with what he described as Judaism):

[describing “… what German is … ,” Wagner said:] “… to wit, the thing one does for its own sake, for very joy of doing it; whereas Utilitarianism, namely the principle whereby a thing is done for sake of some personal end, ulterior to the thing itself, was shown to be un-German. The German virtue herein expressed thus coincided with the highest principle of aesthetics, … according to which the ‘objectless’ (das Zwecklose) alone is beautiful, because, being an end (Zweck) in itself, in revealing its nature as lifted high above all vulgar ends it reveals at like time that to reach whose sight and knowledge alone makes ends of life worth following; whereas everything that serves an end is hideous … .” [732W-{9-12/67} German Art and German Policy: PW Vol. IV, p. 107-108]

Clearly, Wagner prized the aesthetic realm of religious mythology and art above the practical realm of knowledge in science and technology and even politics, which he regarded as ways to satisfy man’s vulgar physical need, rather than the psychological or even spiritual needs which religion and art are supposed to satisfy. It is this latter which Wagner says “makes life worth living.”

[R.1: L]

But Woglinde delivers the sticking point: to forge the Ring of power from the Rhinegold one must forsake love, i.e., forsake satisfaction of man’s subjective feeling, forsake the psychological consolations of belief in love, religious mythology, and art:

Flosshilde: Father told us and bound us over to guard the bright hoard wisely that no false thief should filch it from the flood: be silent, then, you babbling brood!

 

Wellgunde: Wisest of sisters, why complain? Do you not know to whom alone it is given to forge the gold?

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