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The Rhinegold: Page 222
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Valhalla. So we might say that when Alberich sleeps, his involuntary and unconscious, subjective mind, the mind subject to feeling, takes over in spite of his conscious motives and intent. It was this unconscious process of collective dreaming which gave birth to the gods. Thus, if Alberich sleeps, he dreams, and his involuntary dreaming may well place his Ring of power, the human mind, in Wotan’s hands, so that feeling (love) will trump thinking (power). That has already happened in the transition from R.1 to R.2 and we might say it is happening now. For, as I suggested before, taking my cue from Wagner’s theory of unconscious artistic inspiration, the doings in Nibelheim are Wotan’s unremembered nightmare, which upon waking he has forgotten, but which is sublimated into a waking dream which consoles us for the nightmare, yet is subliminally inspired by it.

Light-Alberich’s dreaming, which embraces the nightmare doings of Alberich per se (or of Dark Alberich, if you will), is a metaphor for Feuerbach’s and Wagner’s notion that allegedly divine revelation, and artistic inspiration, are unconscious and involuntary. In dreaming, as Feuerbach says, we are under the influence of something in ourselves other than our conscious ego, which though it seems another being is nonetheless still ourselves. And religion, he noted, is “… the dream of waking consciousness: dreaming is the key to the mysteries of religion.” [See 102F]

[R.3: M]

Alberich, terribly amused at Loge’s apparent naivete, tells Loge that he has made provision for this eventuality, by inventing a masking helmet, the Tarnhelm, which he compelled Mime (representing in this case prosaic man’s practical motives) to forge for him. Through this masking helmet Alberich can change his form or even become invisible, so that the envious Nibelungs would find it impossible to find him and steal his Ring. And, to make his point eminently clear, he paraphrases his prior proposition that his Ring power is what invisibly prompts all Nibelungs to action, and that because this power is behind everything, it will be found also where least expected, so that in this sense he can never truly be deprived of his Ring:

Alberich: (#33b:) Loge thinks himself smartest of all; others he always deems dim-witted (:#33b): (#35?:) that I might perhaps need him to help and advise me (:#35?) and earn his weighty thanks – the thief would now be glad to hear! (#42:) The masking helmet I thought up myself; but Mime – most heedful of smiths – had to forge it for me (:#42): (#43?:) to transform me swiftly and change my shape to whatever I want the helmet serves; no one sees me, though he may seek me; yet I am everywhere, hidden from sight (:#43?). And so, free from care, I’m safe from you, too, my fondly caring friend! (#20b/#33b [(#@: b) “arrogance of power”]; #35)

 

Loge: Much I have seen, strange things I have found, but such a wonder I’ve never beheld. I can scarcely believe in so matchless a work; were such a thing likely, your power would last for ever.

 

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