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Siegfried: Page 568
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society and can no longer be questioned. As Feuerbach put it, once a civilization is established the conditions of its establishment become mythological and therefore beyond question or inquiry, so that – at least in theory - the society is no longer subject to change:

[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]

Thus we find Wotan’s fear of anything which could threaten the gods’ rule, i.e., Fafner, guarding access to the means Alberich would employ, if he could, to overthrow the gods, i.e., knowledge and the means to attain it, the abstract symbolic mind (the Ring) and its special property, imagination (the Tarnhelm). And Wagner noted that this fear of anything which might call into question the infallibility and divinity of the law, traditions, and faith in which established society is grounded, is the essence of what he called the State (represented in the Ring by Wotan’s social contract with the giants, engraved on his Spear of divine authority and law, and embodied in the lives of Hunding, and later the Gibichungs Gunther and Gutrune):

“ … the State, which had imperceptibly waxed from out the Society, had fed itself on the latter’s habit of view, and had so far become the attorney (Vertreter) of this habit, that now it represented abstract Wont alone, whose core is fear and abhorrence of the thing unwonted.” [503W-{50-1/51} Opera and Drama: PW Vol. II, p. 184]

Thus Siegfried must overcome social man’s fear of the unwonted, the new, if he is to emancipate art from religion and create that new religion in which Wotan’s hope for religion’s heart to live on when its head, or beliefs, can no longer be sustained, will be realized. Siegfried in killing this fear must end faith’s imprisonment of man’s mind, the imprisonment which began with Wotan’s and Loge’s capture of Alberich. It is implicit, however, that if Siegfried overcomes this existential fear which sustains religious belief and the state which depends upon it, this will also grant Alberich or his proxy Hagen the freedom of intellectual inquiry. Since Loge is the archetype for the Wagnerian artist-hero, Siegfried in particular, perhaps this explains why Loge advised Alberich to ransom himself by giving Wotan his Hoard and Tarnhelm (and ultimately, his Ring), before seeking to avenge his humiliation by the gods who co-opted his rightful power.

The seemingly bizarre implication of this is that for Siegfried to breach faith in order to access Alberich’s forbidden hoard of knowledge and the Ring, so Siegfried can draw unconscious artistic inspiration from it (which is what Wotan deems necessary to keep the Ring and its power out of Alberich’s hands), Siegfried, ironically, greatly increases the risk that Alberich will indeed regain control of it, for it is no longer censored or tabooed and placed off limits by man’s fear (Fafner), i.e., by religious faith. It is placed off limits, instead, merely by the fact that thought has been sublimated into feeling, power into love, drama into music. And Siegfried, by virtue of killing Fafner and taking possession of the sources of Alberich’s power, including the imagination (the Tarnhelm), which Fafner has guarded for millennia, is also inheriting from Fafner the responsibility to keep this objective power inaccessible to other men (his audience), which Siegfried the artist-hero can best do by sublimating its horrors through aesthetic intuition into something of tragic beauty, in which its horrors can be forgotten.

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