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Siegfried: Page 508
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When Wotan asks Mime which was the race which he both favored and disfavored, and the name of the sword Siegfried must yield if he’s to fulfill Mime’s desire that he kill Fafner and win the Ring and Hoard for Mime, Mime answers readily. Mime’s knowledge of the details of events which Mime presumably could not have witnessed is quite amazing. He not only knows the whole history of the Waelsungs (though he could, after all, have learned much of this from Sieglinde before she expired), but he knows they were sired by Wotan himself, and that it was Wotan, not merely his false persona Waelse, who drove Nothung into Hunding’s House-Ash for Siegmund to find. One explanation is that, of course, Wagner, the Ring’s author, knows all these things, and he may not have worked out in every detail the full range of knowledge that each of his fictional characters ought logically to possess, given their life-history. On the other hand, as I have suggested, Mime represents the practical, utilitarian, pedestrian aspect of Wotan’s own persona. Wotan, representative of the totality of human being and human experience through time, embraces all the characters of the Ring. And of course there is a sense in which Mime’s knowledge could be construed as part of the legendary history which is passed down through the generations from a distant past, as a common inheritance.

However, when Wotan asks his third and final question, who will re-forge the fragments of Nothung into a new sword, Mime is thrown into an apoplexy of confusion and fear, and we recall how Wotan in his confession to Bruennhilde was thrown into a paralyzing apoplexy by his inability to create a free hero. Mime wonders who could forge Nothung if he, the wisest of smiths, cannot. Of course, we hear #92, Siegfried’s personal motif, the motif representing the fearless hero, as Wotan poses this question, since the fearless Siegfried alone can re-forge his father’s sword Nothung. Again, it is because Mime is too wise, too conscious, that he is not gifted with the unconscious artistic inspiration which alone can grant wholeness to the sword with which Siegfried will eliminate Fafner (existential fear) and Mime (thought, Wotan’s head), and which alone can grant potency to the phallic sword Nothung with which Siegfried will penetrate Bruennhilde’s defenses to inseminate her, so they together can give birth to the artwork of the future, which will redeem the terrible world.

[S.1.2: F]

Wotan chastises Mime for having asked about things which were wholly irrelevant to Mime’s immediate concerns, while ignoring what most concerned Mime. And then Wotan tells Mime exactly what it was that he needed to know:

Wanderer: (having risen calmly from the hearth: #112:) Thrice you were meant to question me, thrice I was at your disposal: (#?: [harmony from Wotan’s question to Mime “… if Fafner’s death is to follow?”]) you asked after futile, (#46?) far-off [“Fernen”] things, (#37 vari:) but what concerned you most closely and what you most need to know, you omitted to ask (:#37 vari). (#57) (#21/#41:) Now that I’ve guessed it, you lose your wits: (#41?:; #21?:) I’ve won your wily head. –

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