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The Rhinegold: Page 230
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made their contract to pay the Giants the goddess (of divine love and immmortality) Freia, in exchange for building the gods’ heavenly abode Valhalla, in good faith. Both #27 and #36 are in the family of motifs generally associated with cunning and/or scheming, two latter instances #44 and #101 being associated with Alberich’s brother Mime’s scheming and cunning in particular, which serves his intent to dispossess his brother Alberich of his Ring power, and to also control gods and men with it. #36 at its inception was associated specifically with Wotan’s suggestion to the other gods, skeptical of Loge’s value to them, that Loge’s advice is best the more he delays giving it. #116 is heard in T.Pin association with the Norns’ reference to Wotan’s contracts.

This question bears closer examination. Loge’s primary value to the gods is in exercising his cunning (artistic inspiration) to redeem the gods from the truth which Alberich, with his Ring power, Tarnhelm, and Hoard, would compel them to acknowledge, by creating consoling illusions as a substitute for the truth, and buying the truth off, somehow, so it can never rise to consciousness to undermine the illusions which sustain the gods. Since Mime represents the loathsome, practical, utilitarian egoism which is behind Wotan’s allegedly noble, spiritual aspirations, all five motifs (#27, #36, #44, #101, and even #116) seem to express in some sense the tendency of man’s ego (i.e., Alberich’s Ring: #19) to give birth to deception, and often self-deception, when under the influence of subjective impulses like desire and fear (the Giants) which mask the truth. Alberich is relinquishing his powers to Wotan (Light-Alberich), and the gods of Valhalla (#19>#20a) by virtue of this cunning or unconscious scheming of the human mind, so it is his own unwitting fault. It is the Tarnhelm (the human imagination, a product of the power of the mind, or Ring) which makes this distortion of the truth possible. For Wotan, thanks to Loge’s cunning and Mime’s Tarnhelm, is going to co-opt Alberich’s Ring-power itself, in spite of Alberich’s hope to hold onto it. But we must remember that since Wotan is “Light-Alberich,” in a sense, Alberich retains possession of the Ring even in giving it up to his light side, Wotan.

Alberich is confident that ultimately the Ring’s full power can never be co-opted by anyone else, for only he has the courage to acknowledge the truth, to accept the world’s lovelessness and suffer existential “Noth,” which is the price man must pay for absolute power. Thus, when Wotan demands even Alberich’s Ring in payment of his ransom, Alberich protests that the Ring and its power are Alberich’s very essence, his identity. The original sin which brought about man’s fall from grace with his preconscious animal existence, the life of feeling or instinct, was the natural birth of human consciousness, represented by Alberich’s forging of his Ring. It was this that made man who he is. Alberich is saying, in effect, therefore, that if Wotan steals Alberich’s Ring, whose price Wotan would never willingly pay, Wotan will be committing the crime of self-deception, in denying man’s very identity.

Accompanied now by the embryo for the second segment of motif #58, #58b (which will be introduced in definitive form during the finale of The Rhinegold in R.4, as Wotan is eulogizing the gods’ newly built refuge, Valhalla), Wotan, with righteous indignation, cries out: “You call the Ring your own?” Yet we can’t help recalling that Alberich’s Ring (#19) gave birth to the gods’ abode Valhalla (#20a), and that Alberich alone had the courage to earn its true power, which the Rhinedaughters had promised would be his if he renounced love. Now, however, in spite of the fact that Wotan has continually resisted Loge’s suggestion that Wotan return the Ring to the Rhinedaughters, Wotan makes a case for the Rhinedaughters, proclaiming them the rightful owners of the Ring (since Alberich stole the gold from them from which he forged it). Wotan is a hypocrite

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