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The Ring of the Nibelung
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desired, which in fact he did. However, Wagner also believed that through his intuitive rearrangement of his source material he was in fact disclosing its primal, purely-human, universal significance. Wagner’s Ring especially could be construed as his idea of the universal master myth, a template for all specific myths, since he believed he had through a deep study of a plethora of mythological material disclosed its essence, the very nature of naked man, in his Ring.

In this way I fairly quickly arrived at what I describe as the 11 “pillars” of my interpretation, which in most instances set my interpretation apart from all others known to me. They are the primary pillars which support what I’ve long believed is the true subject of the Ring allegory, that it is Wagner’s account of human history from its beginnings to its end, and that its conflict between power and love is Wagner’s metaphor for man’s existential dilemma, that man is torn between his quest for worldly power, attained through acquisition of objective knowledge of man and nature, as expressed in science, technology, and politics, and his counter-impulse to assert man’s transcendent value, as expressed in religion, ethics, and art. In this scheme, truth (the ultimate source of power) is incommensurable with the good and the beautiful (love).

These pillars are the following:

(1) Nature and its laws (i.e. “Fate,” represented by Erda and her daughters, the Norns) are the foundation of all events and characters in the Ring, including the so-called gods of Valhalla. The implication is that godhead and all that stems from belief in it, including divine omnipotence, immortality, redemption through restoration of lost innocence, free will, idealism (i.e., man’s longing for transcendent value), and morality predicated upon our alleged spiritual capacity for selflessness, are illusions.

(2) The Ring of power Alberich forges is Wagner’s metaphor for the power of the human mind. Accordingly, the products of the Ring’s power are also aspects of the human mind: the Tarnhelm represents imagination, and the Nibelung Hoard represents knowledge (its accumulation increasing the power knowledge gives us).

(3) Alberich’s accumulation of a Hoard of Treasure in the bowels of the earth (Erda) and Wotan’s accumulation of a hoard of knowledge of the earth (Erda) during his world-wandering, are Wagner’s metaphors for man’s gradual acquisition of objective knowledge of himself and nature through experience of the world in the course of history.

(4) When Alberich warns Wotan that he will be sinning against all that was, is, and will be if he steals Alberich’s Ring and co-opts its power for the sake of the gods, this is Wagner’s metaphor for religious man’s sin of world-denial. It is figurative matricide, a sin against the objective truth of our Mother, Nature, Erda’s knowledge of all that was, is, and will be.

(5) Alberich’s motive in placing a curse on his Ring is to punish Wotan and his proxies, i.e., his descendents the Waelsungs and his daughter Bruennhilde, for committing the religio-artistic (what Nietzsche would call the nihilistic) sin of world-denial

(6) Since Wotan represents collective, historical man, during the religious phase of human history, Wotan’s confession to Bruennhilde of knowledge he can’t bear to speak aloud (i.e.,

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