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The Rhinegold: Page 285
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truth, by restoring lost innocence, retreating from thought into feeling, from power into love. Since we will soon be moving on to the next drama of the Ring, The Valkyrie, I cite once more, complete, Wagner’s remark that world history is the record of man’s attempt to restore the innocence he has lost, especially because Wagner confesses here that our very quest to purify ourselves of our egoism in a restoration of paradise is founded on our egoistic desires:

“(The state of Innocence could not come to men’s consciousness until they had lost it. This yearning back thereto, the struggle for its re-attainment, is the soul of the whole movement of civilisation since ever we learnt to know the men of legend and of history. It is the impulse to depart from a generality that seems hostile to us, to arrive at egoistic satisfaction in ourselves …).” [393W-{1-2/49} Jesus of Nazareth: PW Vol. VIII. p. 320]

This then must be the significance of the peculiar explanation Wotan gives his wife Fricka when she asks him the meaning of the name he has given the newly built fortress, Valhalla, which she has never heard before. Wotan’s answer, a bit tortured, nonetheless captures the essence of Wotan’s hope for redemption. He tells her that what, mastering fear, his mind conceived, shall reveal its sense if it lives on in victory (“wenn siegend es lebt”). It is of course no accident that all three of the Waelsung race, in whom Wotan hopes to secure Valhalla (the gods’ rule in men’s hearts) from Alberich’s threat, have names whose root is “Sieg,” i.e., victory. They are, of course, the twin-pair Siegmund and Sieglinde, and their son Siegfried. It is through their heroic acts that Wotan dreams he can free the gods (religious faith) from what he fears, the truth. And the heroes will accomplish this by artificially restoring lost innocence.

[R.4: Q]

Loge, who - as the author of the gods’ dependence on self-deceit to make life meaningful - sees through the gods’ pretensions to divinity and immortality, finds all this very amusing, and sums up the ironies of the gods’ current position very wisely below, accompanied by that same “Arrogance of Power” motif ((#@: B) = #20a/#33b) which accompanied Loge as he mocked Alberich’s ambition for world-power:

 

Loge: (#33b: remaining at the front of the stage and looking back at the gods) ((#@: b) = #20a/#33b:) They’re hurrying on towards their end, though they think they will last for ever (:(#@: b) = #20a/#33b). (#34:; #20a?:) I’m almost ashamed to share in their dealings; to turn myself into guttering flame I feel a seductive desire (:#20a?). (#34:) To burn them up who formerly tamed me, instead of feebly fading away with the blind – and were they the godliest gods – that seems to me not so foolish (:#34)! I’ll think it over: who knows what I’ll do! (He goes nonchalantly to join the gods. #20bc)

 

Loge - as the archetype for Wotan’s race of Waelsung heroes, who can only redeem the gods by breaking their law - is the perfect instance of the friendly foe Wotan will tell Bruennhilde he is

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