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The Rhinegold: Page 195
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Mime: (#5 “Servitude vari”:) leave me in peace!

 

Loge: … I want to help you, Mime! (…)

 

Mime: [[ #44: ]] Who’d ever help me? I’m bound to obey my own bloodbrother (:#44) (#44), (#19:) who’s bound me in fetters fast (:#19).

 

#44, sometimes called “Mime’s Scheming,” is based on #27 and #36 (a Loge Motif), and itself is the basis for #101 (a motif associated with Mime’s Scheming to exploit Siegfried) and #116 (the Norns’ ironic comment that Wotan engraved honorable treaties on his spear). #27, it will be recalled, was associated at its inception with Wotan’s propensity – inspired by Loge - to break the contracts he himself has made and engraved on his spear. And of course the archetypal contract is the social contract, through which collective man restrains the ego of each individual man, often through deception (especially the deception of religious belief), for the sake of social order. Wotan had to fool man’s egoistic nature into denying immediate satisfaction of desire, and assuagement of fear, for the sake of an illusory reward. Since the Nibelungs represent man as the objective and cynical Alberich sees him, i.e., as a craven animal without inherent value, rather than as man the idealist views him (i.e., as a god or hero), Loge’s offer to help Mime escape his subjection to Alberich’s Ring power is an expression of the religious imagination’s capacity to lift man above the level of a physical and moral dwarf, by granting him the illusion of divine status and transcendent value. Thus it is only through the gods and their agent of self-deception (and virtual creator) Loge that the lowly man of objective reality can free himself from his prosaic existence, at least in imagination. Thus, when Alberich accused Mime moments ago of wishing to keep for himself the cunning jewel (the Tarnhelm of imagination) which Alberich alone taught Mime to craft, it was as if Alberich was complaining that his fellow men might misuse the true, objective power of his Ring for subjective purposes, which would deprive him of his rightful use of its full power. We will soon see that it is through Loge’s cunning (man’s artistic propensity to deceive himself, represented by #35) that Alberich’s practical mind and its power of objective imagination can be transformed into a subjective imagination, in service of man’s animal instincts, our feelings of fear and desire (the Giants). Thus, #35 produces the two Tarnhelm Motifs, #42 and #43.

[R.3: C]

Loge inquires of Mime how he found himself in this pickle. This provides Mime the opportunity to recount what we may theoretically describe as the pre-Ring history of the Nibelungs, a paradisal period during which the Nibelung craftsmen labored with love to produce jewels for play. But now, Mime complains, Alberich has employed his Ring-power to compel them to amass his golden hoard by mining under the coercion of his whip in the bowels of the earth:

Loge: What gave him the power, Mime, to bind you?

 

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