Alberich, having no prospect of love and therefore having nothing to lose, contemplates compensating himself for the lovelessness to which he is condemned, by seeking power through the Ring, power through knowledge:
Alberich: [[ #19: ]] [almost definitive] The world’s wealth might I win through you? Though love can’t be gained by force, through cunning might I enforce its delights (:#19)? (#18) (terribly loud) Scoff if you like! The Nibelung draws near your gold! (He leaps onto the central ledge and up to the top as they scatter)
Rhinedaughters: Love has driven him mad! Hahahahahaha!
Alberich has introduced the Ring Motif #19 in almost its definitive form here. There is a mystery in his remark above which can only be solved once we consider, in advance of the event, that the Ring Motif #19 will - during the transition from R.1 to R.2 - transform subtly into the first segment of the Valhalla Motif, #20a, which represents the heavenly abode of the gods, and therefore is a metaphor for man’s religious impulse. What possible connection could Alberich’s drastic intent to renounce love – i.e., to renounce those forms of human thought and creativity which are subjective and predicated upon the consolations of feeling (love), such as religion and art - have with man’s religious impulse? To grasp Alberich’s otherwise perhaps inexplicable remark that if love can’t be gained by force, through cunning he might win its delight (and it doesn’t merely mean that Alberich intends to obtain through rape what he couldn’t get through love), we must realize that Alberich’s acquisition of the full power of the conscious human mind through his forging of the Ring, is the precondition for the development of religious thought, the first form of human thought. We must also acknowledge that the musical metaphor for this dependence of the gods of Valhalla upon Alberich’s forging of the Ring of power, is the transformation of #19 (the Ring and its power) into #20a (the god’s heavenly abode Valhalla). It is through religious faith that man - in this case Alberich prior to the appearance of his double, Wotan, otherwise known as “Light-Alberich” - can through cunning win the delights of love which had to be renounced in order to gain the power of the Ring, i.e., the human mind. In other words, through religious belief and art we restore in some measure the animal instinctuality, the life of feeling, lost to us through our acquisition of full human consciousness. It is an artificial restoration of lost innocence. For Alberich and Wotan are not yet separate and distinguished beings, since Alberich is the precondition for Wotan, who will only later be wholly distinguished from Alberich (Dark-Alberich) as “Light-Alberich.”
Another way of seeing this is that man’s gradual loss of dependence on animal instinct, as the value of conscious human reasoning comes into play in giving man an adaptive advantage over his animal ancestors and living relatives, culminated in the power of reflective consciousness, which can equally be devoted to the acquisition of accurate, objective knowledge of the world (the basis for science and technology), or to more subjective modes of thought under the influence of subjective feeling, such as religious belief and art, which restore our lost feeling of oneness with