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Twilight of the Gods: Page 853
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the supernatural). We hear another #19 Variant, {{ this time apparently the triumphant, optimistic sounding version associated in T.1.3.1 with Bruennhilde’s proclamation that Siegfried’s love for her is embodied in the Ring he gave her, and associated also with her refusal to return the Ring to the Rhinedaughters. }} Alberich, appearing to Hagen as if in a dream, asks him – accompanied by #50 – whether he is sleeping. Alberich had previously, in S.2.1, described himself as forever watchful and waking. #50 calls to mind Alberich’s proud retort to Wotan’s order to Loge to set Alberich free, after Wotan had co-opted Alberich’s Ring, Tarnhelm, and Hoard: accompanied by #50, Alberich said he would give Wotan freedom’s first greeting, and this greeting was, of course, his curse on the Ring, which Alberich has brought Hagen up to fulfill.

Alberich is fearful that Hagen sleeps and therefore doesn’t hear him (Alberich) whom rest and sleep betrayed. On the surface, Alberich merely complains that he has lost sleep due to the shame of having the power he won through so much sacrifice (“Noth”) co-opted by others, who have gotten away with not paying the Ring’s price, the denial of love. But if we look deeper, we’ll remember that Loge in R.3 warned Alberich that he might be dispossessed of the Ring when he slept, due to the envy of those unable to obtain its power. This was of course Wagner’s metaphor for Feuerbach’s notion that early man collectively dreamed his myths of a supernatural origin and world-order into existence, inventing the gods involuntarily as we do in dreams. This is why Alberich insists that Hagen be wakeful, by which he means conscious and objectively truthful, not seduced by the consoling illusions represented by mankind’s (Wotan’s) waking dream Valhalla. Alberich himself verified this reading in R.4 when, having been dispossessed of the Ring by Wotan and Loge, he complained he’d been a “dreaming fool.”

Evidently Hagen remains asleep, with his eyes open, during his dialogue with his father, because Hagen asks Alberich “What do you have to tell my sleep?” Accompanied by a #13 Variant (representing the Rhinedaughters’ aesthetic claim to their Rhinegold) and #19 Variant (their Rhinegold forged by Alberich into his Ring of power), followed by #37 (the “Loveless Motif”), Alberich reminds Hagen of the power he’ll command if he’s as mettlesome as the mother who gave him birth. Alberich refers directly to Hagen’s blood-mother Grimhilde, whose sexual favors Alberich bought with gold, but indirectly to Mother Nature, Erda, whose objective knowledge of all that was, is, and will be, Alberich affirms. The reference to Hagen’s mother Grimhilde merely tells us that Hagen will indeed win back the power Alberich lost if Hagen is sufficiently loveless, and the wider reference to Erda (Mother Nature and her knowledge of all that was, is, and will be, which Wotan sinned against in co-opting Alberich’s Ring power) calls to mind the fact that Alberich’s curse on the Ring, whose power Wotan co-opted, is intended to punish those who have figuratively killed Mother Nature’s objective reality for the sake of the illusion of transcendent value, as found in religious faith and artistic expression.

Hagen’s bitter response to his father is something of a shock, in view of who Hagen is, Alberich’s son, and Alberich’s instrument of vengeance against the gods. For Hagen complains, accompanied by the new motif #166, that though his mother gave him mettle, he isn’t glad she yielded (#37 sounds here) to Alberich’s cunning. #37 of course stamps this as a loveless marriage. Accompanied by #50, Hagen tells Alberich this heritage has made Hagen prematurely old, pale and wan. He concludes, again accompanied by #37, that he hates the happy, and is never glad. Hagen is beset by the envy (“Neid”) of the happy which obsesses his father. This “Neid” is Alberich’s burning resentment that the gods and Waelsung heroes have co-opted his rightful power, in order to sustain

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