A+ a-
Wagnerheim Logo
Wagnerheim Bookmark System
Siegfried: Page 498
Go back a page
498
Go forward a page

Motif, as Mime gives vent to his utilitarian world-view. Mime in his unsociability is egoistic to the extreme and does not wish to be troubled by Wotan’s longing for redemption, which is precisely the kind of alternative knowledge Wotan is now speaking about. Therefore Wotan sums up Mime’s lack of character in saying that though some have thought themselves wise (i.e., those who are conscious of their motives), what they needed they did not know (just as Wotan himself does not know how to produce a free hero capable of redeeming the gods). In other words, Wotan is saying that Mime does not realize that what he needs is redemption from his wisdom, from his conscious thought, from his true nature, something Wotan achieves by virtue of his confession to Bruennhilde, in whom he repressed his unbearable knowledge of all that he loathes in himself, and by leaving the product of that confession, Siegfried, heir to Wotan’s unconscious source of inspiration, his muse Bruennhilde.

This is entirely foreign to the prosaic, pedestrian mind of Mime, whose nature can best be understood as Wagner’s notion of the common man, the philistine. Wotan is, in effect, confronting his lower self in his encounter with Mime, the loathsome part of himself that he had to purge from himself to be reborn as Siegfried. In a manner of speaking, Wotan’s inherent Judaism - which we may as well call “egoism” instead of “Judaism,” since that is what Wagner really means - had to “go under” in order that Wotan’s ideal self, Siegfried, could be born.

[S.1.2: B]

The fact that Wotan is confronting his real – rather than ideal – self, the self he now abhors, in Mime, lends a peculiar ironic resonance to the contest of wits and knowledge which Wotan now proposes to Mime. It is also helpful to recognize that when Wotan says he is staking his head in this wager of wits, he is in effect staking Mime’s life in this wager, because Mime represents Wotan’s conscious, voluntary will (in other words, his head rather than his heart), his ulterior intent, from which Wotan seeks redemption. It was this part of himself, as expressed in his confession of his corrupt history and acknowledgment of his loathsome (Ekel) nature to Bruennhilde, that Wotan submerged into his unconscious mind, seeking redemption from it:

 

Wanderer: (sitting down at the hearth: #21) (#112?:) I sit by the hearth here and stake my head as pledge in a wager of wits (:#112?): (#21) [[ #114 ]] my head is yours to treat as you choose, if you fail to ask what you need to know and I don’t redeem it with my lore (:#114). [(?): Spencer’s translation of this last sentence may need to be vetted.]

 

(Mime, who has been staring open-mouthed at the Wanderer, now starts violently: #41; #87 hint?)

 

Mime: (pusillanimously to himself) How can I rid myself of this intruder? (#101) my questions (#101) I must couch with care.

 

(#101: He pulls himself together, as though determined to show strictness.)

Go back a page
498
Go forward a page
© 2011 Paul Heise. All rights reserved. Website by Mindvision.