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Twilight of the Gods: Page 862
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believe was dear to Wagner’s heart (and also to mine, as regards how we ought to experience the Ring in the theater!). However, there are simply too many cases where a consistent, coherent allegorical account makes sense of passages – in terms both of their verbal and musical content - which would otherwise be meaningless or incomprehensible, for us to disavow the effort to accommodate the surprisingly few passages which seem to make an awkward fit with our allegorical reading. This is one of the few which compels us to seek a metaphysical (as Cooke put it) rather than a mundane, objective, reality-based explanation. If we take Alberich’s statement at face value, naively, then we merely accept that in the world Wagner imagined for the Ring Alberich could never regain his power if the Rhinedaughters dissolved his Ring and its curse in the waters of the Rhine and, presumably, were now better prepared to keep the Rhinegold out of the hands of intruders than they were when they first let Alberich steal the Rhinegold (and even prompted him to do it). And of course, in the concluding moments of the Ring, the finale of Twilight of the Gods, the last words spoken are those of Hagen, who cries out when he sees the Rhinedaughters take possession of the Ring from the funeral pyre which burned both Bruennhilde and Siegfried, “Get back from the Ring,” as he plunges madly into the waves after them desperately trying to retrieve the Ring. Hagen’s last words, and his desperation to retrieve the Ring from the Rhinedaughters, were obviously prompted by Alberich’s fear that, were the Ring ever restored to the Rhinedaughters, no cunning could ever gain it back.

There is one big problem with this interpretation, which is that, looking back at R.1, we find Flosshilde reminding her Rhinedaughter sisters, with respect to Alberich, that their father (Father Rhine?) warned them about such a foe. It seems likely in this event that no matter how many times the Rhinedaughters were warned about the impropriety of tempting intruders to sacrifice love for power to forge a Ring from the Rhinegold, they might nonetheless be predestined to let it happen. In my prior assessment of R.1 I discussed the likelihood that Alberich’s winning of the gold and forging a Ring from it is an expression of natural evolutionary necessity. In any case, there is too much at stake from an allegorical standpoint for us to accept without reservation a purely fairy-tale naivete as a basis for grasping the meaning of the climactic event of this greatest of allegorical works. There must be more at stake here.

Alberich has stated that with the restoration of his Ring to the Rhine by Siegfried he would never be able to regain its power. I have argued that Alberich’s renunciation of love in order to forge the Ring of world power represents the birth of man’s reflective, symbolic consciousness, which grants man limitless power to control his fellow men and his physical environment. If the Ring (with its curse) was restored to the Rhine of pre-fallen preconsciousness, the stage of life in which plants and animals (but not humans) flourish, presumably the human species will have gone extinct. And of course we hear - for the first time in quite awhile - Woglinde’s Lullaby, #4, as Alberich warns Hagen that Bruennhilde might return the Ring to the deep Rhine’s daughters who once befooled him in watery depths, reminding us that #4 is the ur-melody, or mother-melody, which represents preconscious animal feeling and instinct, from which reflective consciousness (the Fall) evolved.

So on one level Alberich seems to be saying that his chance to obtain world power will indeed be lost if human consciousness itself is lost. But how could Siegfried the artist-hero ever find himself in a position to bring about the end of human consciousness itself? Evidently he could never do this in reality, but only symbolically, within art, as Wagner himself does in the Ring, which ends with the twilight of the gods and some sort of earthly or even cosmic catastrophe. It is possible however

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