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Siegfried: Page 594
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It is the curse of selfishness and egoism. But this debate between the dwarves represents something more as well: it is a debate on the respective merit of science and technology (i.e., the ability which knowledge of nature grants us to extract its latent power for our advantage, represented by Alberich), as compared with what Feuerbach described as the practical (if unrealistic because supernatural) claims of religious man to the benefits of human thought (the Ring). What I mean by practical is that a real, concrete result is expected. For we must remember that Mime represents the egoism hidden behind Wotan’s ostensibly noble motives, egoism so loathsome in Wotan’s eyes that, as he told Bruennhilde in his confession, he could not bear to speak it aloud lest he lose the grip sustaining his will. Mime embodies Alberich’s accusation that the only difference between Wotan and himself is that Alberich willingly pays the price of acknowledging the bitter truth in exchange for temporal power, while Wotan seeks this same power yet doesn’t wish to pay its price. Mime wants the benefits of the Ring without cost, yet Alberich alone had the courage to, and was able to, pay the price necessary to forge it from the Rhinegold. Furthermore, Mime – like Wotan with respect to his son Siegmund – expects that the hero Siegfried will pay for his rearing by winning for Mime what he can’t win on his own merits, the Ring and its power.

As Mime responds with righteous – if hypocritical - indignation to Alberich’s abrupt refusal to share the spoils of Alberich’s forging of the Ring, {{ we hear Motif #130 which, so far as I know, is not heard anywhere else but this very moment, and therefore does not qualify as a motif in the sense of carrying a load of conceptual meaning for both remembrance and premonition. Whether it is a member of a motif family is yet to be determined. }} Its conceptual significance lies in Mime’s complaint that his brother Alberich is unwilling to collaborate, cooperate, or share with Mime, and since Mime likewise is not truly willing to share any power with Alberich if he can help it, #130 stands simply for egoism and selfishness per se.

[S.2.3: C]

This debate between the Nibelungs about the right of possession becomes a moot point as Siegfried emerges from Fafner’s cave carrying the Ring and Tarnhelm, but leaving the Nibelung Hoard behind. As he emerges Siegfried meditates on his new-won treasures:

(Siegfried appears in the background.)

 

Alberich: Turn round: - he’s coming this way from the cave. –

 

Mime: (turning round: #17 modulations: [but during the following passage it seems continually to transform into #20a at each repeat?]) Children’s toys he’s doubtless chosen. –

 

Alberich: (#17: [>#20a hint?]) He’s holding the Tarnhelm!

 

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