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Siegfried: Page 511
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self-doubt and self-loathing, and Wotan is, in the Ring, Wagner’s portrait of man himself in all his facets:

[P. 618] “Whether the Jews can ever be redeemed is the question which … occupies our thoughts – their nature condemns them to the world’s reality.” [1071W-{2/10/81} CD Vol. II, p. 618]

But Feuerbach noted that, insofar as religion promises man redemption from this real world bound by time, space, and causality (Erda’s knowledge), in an alternative, supernatural realm where he’ll know neither death nor pain (and thus be freed from fear, and experience endless bliss), religion appeals to man’s natural, practical egoism, even if the means to redemption is thought to transcend the limits of reality. It is precisely because man feels universal, existential fear, that he posits the gods, and seeks redemption from the real world in a supernatural realm where he can enjoy blissful immortality, in the first place. Thus Feuerbach makes the radical assertion that the religious imagination, represented here by Wotan, and particularly by his prosaic self Mime, is not free like that of the artist (say, Siegfried, the free and fearless hero Wotan longs to become), but is practical and egoistic:

“ … the religious imagination is not the free imagination of the artist, but has a practical egoistic purpose, or in other words, … the religious imagination is rooted in the feeling of dependency and attaches chiefly to objects that arouse it. (…) This feeling of anxiety, of uncertainty, this fear of harm that always accompanies man, is the root of the religious imagination … .” [269F-LER: p. 196]

Thus religious man’s longing to escape his earthly bonds, such as his subjection to egoism, stems from egoism. This explains why Siegfried’s elimination of Mime – who represents the practical egoism behind the great promise of religion, that redeemed man will know sorrowless youth eternal in paradise - is a precondition to Siegfried’s supplanting the gods with his redemptive love of Bruennhilde, i.e., Wagnerian music-drama. And Mime is about to expose himself as the very embodiment of “this fear of harm that always accompanies man.”

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