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The Rhinegold: Page 233
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Wotan’s underlying motives which he cannot bear to acknowledge, were willing to exchange hapless illusion for the certainty of truth, since they agreed to accept Alberich’s Hoard of gold in exchange for Freia. And Alberich can’t stand to see Wotan and the gods get away with this scam.

We find a basis for Alberich’s accusation of hypocrisy in Feuerbach’s observations on the debt that Christian faith, which is predicated on the belief in spiritual transcendence, and thus on the denial of nature and the body, owes to Judaism, whose ideal according to Feuerbach is earthly rather than heavenly bliss:

“Christianity has … changed the desire for earthly happiness, the goal of the Israelitish religion, into the longing for heavenly bliss, which is the goal of Christianity.” [91F-EOC: p. 121]

And we find in Feuerbach’s following diatribe against Christian hypocrisy a basis for Alberich’s accusation that Wotan’s motives in taking the Ring from Alberich are no nobler than the motives which impelled Alberich to sacrifice love for the sake of the Ring’s power:

“The Christians blamed the Jews for this arrogance [the notion that God exists to serve man’s, or exclusively the Jews’, needs], but only because the kingdom of God was taken from them and transferred to the Christians. Accordingly, we find the same thoughts and sentiments in the Christians as in the Israelites.” [159F-EOC: p. 299]

Alberich hopes to insure that the gods can’t in fact draw advantage - through Loge’s cunning - from his “Noth,” his sacrifice, to enjoy the benefits of the Ring power which cost him so much, without paying this price themselves. And of course the price he will exact is that in the end those who co-opt his Ring power to sustain their happiness through self-deceit, will have to confront the bitter truth which trumps their dependence on illusion.

At an early phase in his development of the Ring plot (1848), Wagner actually described Alberich as the gods’ conscience, the spokesperson for their consciousness of their guilt. Their guilt consists in the fact that Wotan and Loge dispossess Alberich of his power for no higher end than Alberich had in forging his Ring, and therefore Alberich’s complaint against the gods is just:

“From the depths of Nibelheim the conscience of their guilt cries up to them [the gods]: for the bondage of the Nibelungen is not broken; merely the lordship has been reft from Alberich, and not for any higher end … : Alberich thus has justice in his plaints against the Gods.” [376W-{6-8/48} The Nibelungen Myth: PW Vol. VII, p. 302]

The price of “Noth” (existential anguish), which Alberich insists those who are co-opting his Ring power must pay, is based at least partly on Feuerbach’s remark that those religiously faithful men, who console themselves with the belief in heavenly bliss, do not experience that “Noth,” that feeling of poverty, which is the impulse to culture (i.e., cultural evolution) itself:

“But how can he who has all in God, who already enjoys heavenly bliss in the imagination, experience that want [Noth?], that sense of poverty, which is the impulse to all culture?” [126F-EOC: p. 217]

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