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Siegfried: Page 558
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Though I feel certain that Fafner’s role as guardian of Alberich’s Hoard, Tarnhelm, and Ring owes something to this reading, what I regard as a far more comprehensive and accurate reading is offered by Feuerbach’s critique of the inherent conservatism of religious man and traditional societies. Clearly, both the secular artist (Siegfried), and the cynical exponent of the objective scientific world-view which renounces all concern for the religious impulse to posit transcendent human value (represented later by Alberich’s son Hagen), having emancipated themselves from their former service to religious faith and its taboos on freedom of expression and intellectual inquiry, constitute a threat to Fafner’s (fearful faith’s) continued domination of human thought:

[P. 211] “ … precisely because man made sacraments of the first medicines, of the first elements of human civilization and well-being, religion always became, in the course of development, the antithesis of true civilization, an [P. 212] obstacle to progress; for it opposed every innovation, every change in the old traditional ways.” [279F-LER: p. 211-212]

And Feuerbach said that for the sake of the progress of the human spirit, it was necessary for revolutionary minds (such as Siegfried’s, for instance) to uproot such conservatism, as Siegfried will do when he kills Fafner, the fear of the truth which keeps religious man rooted to the spot and unable to accept change:

[P. 216] “In all other fields man progresses; in religious matters he remains stone-blind, stone-deaf, and rooted to the spot. Religious institutions, customs and articles of faith continue to be held sacred even when they stand in the most glaring contradiction to man’s more advanced reason and ennobled feelings; even when the original justification and meaning of these same institutions and conceptions are long forgotten. We ourselves are living amid this same repugnant contradiction between religion and culture; our religious doctrines and usages also stand in the most glaring contradiction to our present cultural and material situation; our task [P. 217] today is to do away with this loathsome and disastrous contradiction. Its elimination is the indispensable condition for the rebirth of mankind, the one and only condition for the appearance of a new mankind, as it were, and for the coming of a new era. Without it, all political and social reforms are meaningless and futile. A new era also requires a new view of the first elements and foundations of human existence; it requires – if we wish to retain the word – a new religion!” [283F-LER: p. 216-217]

“To place anything in God, or to derive anything from God, is nothing more than to withdraw it from the test of reason, to institute it as indubitable, unassailable, sacred, without rendering an account why. Hence self-delusion, if not wicked, insidious design, is at the root of all efforts to establish morality, right, on theology. (…)

Thus the work of self-conscious reason in relation to religion is simply to destroy an illusion: - an illusion, however, which is by no means indifferent, but which, on the contrary, is profoundly injurious in its effect on mankind … .” [141F-EOC: p. 274]

It must be remembered that, if the popular view that Fafner represents the capitalist’s lust for acquiring wealth were accurate, Fafner would be actively seeking to increase his hoard and exploiting the Ring’s power. Instead, it is quite clear that Alberich was correct when he declared that Fafner does not use any of his potential power at all. Fafner merely keeps everyone, including himself, from exploiting it. His sleep is the sleep of faith and tradition, which, unless forced to by outside influences, will not change. Fafner guarding the Hoard is a symbol for possession in its

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