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Twilight of the Gods: Page 744
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First Norn: Descend! (#87: They disappear.)


It is often assumed that the fact that the First Norn recounts Wotan’s past history before she describes Alberich’s history in brief, merely saying that he once stole the Rhinegold, implies that Alberich’s theft of the Rhinegold occurred after Wotan broke the most sacred branch off of the World-Ash Tree to make his Spear. But there is no way to ascertain the position of Alberich’s theft of the Rhinegold within historical time from her account, because, in speaking of Alberich, she is speaking of a new topic, and, so far as we can tell, going back in time to an indeterminate period. At no point does she definitively place Alberich’s theft in time relative to Wotan’s breaking the branch off the World-Ash, giving it a mortal wound. Similarly, the First Norn also notes that she can no longer clearly see the clearly the hallowed past, when Loge flared up in flame. This provides us no concrete information about Loge’s place in the chronological sequence of world history. The confusion here is largely due to the fact that man’s mytho-poetic, or religious phase, represented by Wotan and the gods of Valhalla, preceded in time the birth of modern science (whose actual beginnings evidently lay in Classical Greece, approximately, between 2,300 and 2,600 years ago, but which was not firmly established until the 17th Century), with which I identify Alberich’s son Hagen. But Alberich’s forging of the Ring and acquisition of his Hoard of knowledge is not Wagner’s metaphor for the birth of modern science; rather, it is his metaphor for the birth of human consciousness itself, which began immediately to acquire useful knowledge. But this knowledge did not become a threat to religious faith until much later. Therefore Alberich’s forging of the Ring of human consciousness is the logical - but not necessarily the temporal - precondition for the collective Folk’s unwitting and involuntary invention of the gods, and therefore for the development of the earliest human cultures.

The First Norn has told of a vision which throws her maddening mind into turmoil, accompanied by #19 and #37, the motifs regularly associated with the Ring’s power, and with the lovelessness which Alberich was compelled to acknowledge in order to obtain that power, which he has both imposed on – and discovered is the essence of – the real world. Noting that Alberich once stole the Rhinegold, she asks what became of him, while throwing the ever more invisible rope of fate to the Second Norn. At this point we hear #19 plus the #3 Variant (#@: C or D?), a diminished inversion, which is the motif representing the Norns’ spinning of the rope of fate and natural necessity. In other words, the Norns have, since nature’s rise to self-consciousness in man, been spinning the consequences of the Fall – the burden of consciousness - into their rope of fate. But now the Second Norn, alarmed, observes that the stone’s sharp edge is cutting the rope of fate. From need (“Noth”) and spite (“Neid”), she says, the Nibelung’s Ring stands proud, and we hear #45ab (the so-called “Power of the Ring Motif”) as she tells how Alberich’s avenging curse gnaws at its threads, as if to say that Alberich’s curse on the Ring is itself cutting the rope of fate. By cutting the rope of fate Alberich’s curse would seem, ironically, to be fulfilling the ultimate task which Wotan had set Siegfried, to free himself from all entanglement in the real world, its laws and egoistic impulses. The only way we can make sense of this is to construe Siegfried’s and Bruennhilde’s love, their creation of unconsciously inspired art, as itself the fulfillment of Alberich’s curse on the Ring.

In the event, we will see that this is true, for Alberich had cursed the Ring expressly to punish all those - specifically the humans who worship supernatural gods - who renounce Mother Nature and her laws and wisdom (the Hoard of earthly knowledge) for the sake of world-denial in religion and

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