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Siegfried: Page 560
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acknowledges the truth which Erda had tried to teach him, that all things which happen in her world, the real world, must be, and that everything which is, ends, we hear #2, the first variant of the original nature motif #1 with which the Ring began, and which is the basis for #53, the motif which expresses nature’s constant motion and change, and which is most often identified with Erda herself. I have also noted previously that the second segment of the Sword Motif which represents Wotan’s grand idea for ultimate redemption (embodied by Siegfried’s re-forged sword Nothung), namely #57b, is actually the original nature arpeggio #1. These nature motifs reflect Feuerbach’s concept of natural necessity, i.e., change bound on the one hand by natural law, on which all that is coherent and unchanging in nature, all which is regular, recurrent, and cyclic, is founded, and change in the sense of the unrepeatability and distinct individuality and idiosyncrasy of each particular event or object in nature. Siegfried’s artistic creativity taps into this natural necessity, and it is from this that Wotan hopes for redemption from Alberich’s curse of consciousness, which, ironically, is every bit as much an expression of natural necessity (i.e., the natural evolution from unconscious life to conscious humanity) as Siegfried’s creative force.

Wotan has resigned himself to Alberich’s victory over him in the real world, because Wotan and the gods are sustained solely by the illusions which Loge created, illusions which Wotan acknowledges Alberich has punctured. By leaving the field (i.e., the world) to Alberich, Wotan seems therefore to have resigned himself to the fact that Erda’s prophecy of Alberich’s inevitable victory over the gods will come true. As Wagner put it:

“… let us treat the world only with contempt; for it deserves no better: but let no hopes be placed in it, that our hearts be not deluded! It is evil, evil, fundamentally evil … . (…) It belongs to Alberich: no one else!! Away with it! (…) I hate all appearances with lethal fury:I’ll have no truck with hope, since it is a form of self-lying.” [627W-{10/7/54}Letter to Franz Liszt: SLRW, p. 319]

However, when Wotan adds that Alberich should compete instead with Mime, whose kind Alberich understands better, Wotan is actually informing Alberich that Wotan willingly sacrifices to Alberich only that part of Wotan which Wotan believes is reducible to Alberich’s knowledge, namely, Mime, who represents Wotan’s egoistic thought, which presumably doesn’t implicate his heartfelt feeling. What Wotan does not tell Alberich directly, but only intimates with the subtlest of hints, is that Wotan has an alternative world to retreat to that does not claim to be supernatural, does not stake a claim to the power of truth (the Ring) which the truth could contradict, but in which nonetheless man’s longing for transcendent freedom from the bounds of the real world, which Alberich owns, can be satisfied. This is the world of secular art, and particularly music, that Siegfried, i.e., the music-dramatist Wagner, will create under the muse Bruennhilde’s inspiration. Thus it is that Wotan leaves Alberich with the unsettling remark: “as for the rest, learn that too,” as we hear #83, representing Wotan’s need for a free hero who can redeem the gods, and #127, the motif which stands for Wotan’s intent to let Siegfried make his own way in the world, freed from (direct, that is, conscious) influence by Wotan’s hopes and fears. We are reminded of Sachs’ cryptic, mysterious remark to Beckmesser, after leaving the field (wooing for Eva’s hand in the mastersinging contest) open to him, without Sachs’ interference, that what else Sachs is thinking is no concern of Beckmesser’s.

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