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Siegfried: Page 514
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tempest, or an earthquake, in other words the fear that is circumscribed in time and space, but also the fear that is limited to no particular object, the perpetual, ever present fear which embraces every conceivable misfortune, in a word, the infinite fear of the human soul.” [319F-LER: p. 287]

I am persuaded that Wagner’s meditation on the nature of fear and fearlessness, in the contrast between Mime and Siegfried, is directly inspired by Feuerbach’s remarks. Wagner seems to have been so impressed by them (and by others not included in my anthology, @@@@@@, which Wagner virtually paraphrases in his comment below) that on one occasion he even conceived of the cosmos as having come into being by virtue of primal fear (though who might have felt it, minus a human consciousness to experience it, is anyone’s guess!):

“And he pictures to himself the birth of the universe, some central sun which begins to revolve, out of desire, no, out of fear, and how this agitation born of fear was everywhere, and everything a matter of indifference until one gave things a moral significance.” [1080W-{3/20/81}CD Vol. II, p. 643]

The most striking aspect of Mime’s spell of hysterical delusion is that the music Wagner chose to depict it evokes Loge’s ring of fire (which was intended to scare away all suitors of the sleeping Bruennhilde except the fearless Siegfried), for we hear Loge’s Motifs #33b, #34, #35, and even #100 (the Magic Fire), which were last heard together as Wotan ordered Loge to make a wall of flame around the sleeping Bruennhilde. But we also hear, in conjunction with Loge’s motifs, the Serpent (Dragon) Motif #48, which represents not only the form Alberich chose to take when Loge asked Alberich to demonstrate how it was that through the Tarnhelm Alberich could preserve his ownership of the Ring from thieves who might steal it while he was asleep, but also the form Fafner chose to take as guardian of Alberich’s Ring, Tarnhelm, and Hoard, Fafner, whom, as we shall see, also normally sleeps while guarding Alberich’s Ring, Tarnhelm, and Hoard. #48 effectively represents fear, not only the primal fear of death and pain, but the fear of the truth, which inspires the artist-heroes - modeled on their archetype Loge - to throw a veil of Maya, or illusion, like Loge’s Ring of fire, around that which inspires existential fear in man, the truth.

Bruennhilde, as the repository of that knowledge, the unspoken secret, which Wotan so feared and abhorred that he did not dare speak it aloud in words (i.e., consciously), holds that knowledge of the end of the gods which is the source of Wotan’s, i.e., historical man’s, collective fear. This is the fear which stems from man’s subliminal knowledge that in religious belief and the propagation of transcendent values he is deceiving himself. Religious man’s dependence on faith as a pretext to avoid having to reflect upon the origin and true nature of his beliefs, is a key expression of this existential fear: to this degree Fafner - sitting as guardian over the keys to Alberich’s objective power, to drive away anyone who might try to access it - is an image of the stranglehold which faith places upon freedom of inquiry, freedom of mind.

[S.1.3: B]

Now Mime confirms what we have suspected – thanks to numerous hints – all along, that Mime is too “wise,” i.e., too motivated by conscious intention, and thus too fearful for his well-being, to be gifted with that unconscious inspiration required to spontaneously, instinctively re-forge Nothung.

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