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Siegfried: Page 517
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in a manner that will not impede his freedom, but in fact will inspire Siegfried to do what must be done to redeem the gods. Wotan brought up his race of Waelsung heroes so that they would kill Fafner and take his Ring, Tarnhelm, and Hoard, thereby depriving Alberich of the opportunity to fulfill his threat to overthrow the gods. The Waelsung heroes’ sole purpose was to redeem the gods from Alberich’s curse on his Ring, the curse of consciousness, for the truth, once it rises up from the silent depths of the unconscious to the light of day, will destroy the gods (man’s belief in the gods).

Since I am proposing that Mime represents Wotan’s prosaic, practical motives behind his longing for redemption, the fact that Mime failed to teach Siegfried fear stems from the same motive as Wotan’s longing for a hero who would be freed from it. However, in order for Siegfried to fulfil Wotan’s wishes, such as winning control over Alberich’s Ring, without being consciously influenced by Wotan, Siegfried the artist-hero must be subliminally inspired by Wotan’s fear to do that deed, taking the Ring from Fafner and thus keeping it out of Alberich’s hands, which will redeem the gods from what they fear, Alberich’s curse on the Ring. In other words, Siegfried in some sense must learn the meaning of Wotan’s fear in order to find the inspiration to act upon Wotan’s desire that Siegfried redeem the gods from its cause. Mime asks himself how he can teach Siegfried fear, but Wotan has already solved that problem by leaving Siegfried heir to Bruennhilde, the repository of Wotan’s knowledge of all that he fears, who will in fact teach Siegfried fear, but will also teach Siegfried how he can forget his fear, through art. And that is why Wagner musically anticipated this when he called upon the motifs evoking Loge’s ring of fire, with which Wotan protects Bruennhilde in sleep from all suitors except the unconsciously inspired artist-hero, to rise out of the orchestra alongside the Serpent Motif #48, representing Fafner, whom Mime hopes will teach Siegfried fear. This, by the way, also explains the otherwise somewhat mysterious recurrence of #48, the Serpent Motif, at the very height of Siegfried’s and Bruennhilde’s love duet in S.3.3. The point is that the artist’s unconscious mind, Bruennhilde, who, as the repository for Wotan’s unspoken secret, the religious mysteries, gives birth to redemptive musical motifs, is the secular world’s substitute for lost religious faith, that faith predicated on, and protected by, fear of the truth (Fafner). To emancipate himself from the gods’ protection and influence, i.e., from religious faith and its fear of truth, Siegfried must now find his inspiration solely in the muse of art, his unconscious mind Bruennhilde, in whom religious man’s longing for transcendent value lives on subliminally in feeling, i.e., music.

In order to persuade Siegfried of the necessity of learning fear, Mime now appeals to practicality in suggesting that Siegfried still lacks the one thing he most needs to be able to make his way in the real world, fear. When Siegfried resists his advice, Mime appeals to Siegfried’s mother, intimating that Mime is actually acting on her wishes that Siegfried not go out into the world without first learning fear through Mime’s teaching. And we hear #66, the motif which calls to mind the tragic fate which the Waelsung heroes and Sieglinde share, and their mutual sympathy, as proxies for Wotan in his war with Alberich. Presumably Mime invokes Siegfried’s mother merely to exploit Siegfried’s sore point, since it seems unlikely that Sieglinde would have requested that Mime teach Siegfried fear. However, since I have already proposed that Bruennhilde (and in a sense even her mother Erda) is Siegfried’s metaphysical mother, we can pose this question anew. Erda, after all, did teach Wotan existential fear, and clearly, Bruennhilde is going to teach Siegfried fear subliminally once he penetrates her protective ring of fire. So we have to wonder whether Mime is

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