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The Rhinegold: Page 120
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woe, because man alone among all the animals is sufficiently self-conscious to conceive of, and reflect upon, the contradiction between the ideal and the real. This follows from the fact that man alone, with his abstract mind and ability to generalize and summarize experience in symbols, can construct an ideal which experience of reality often contradicts. As Wagner put it:

[P. 276] “… a review of all the races makes it impossible to deny the [P. 277] oneness of the human species; … that common factor may be defined, in its noblest sense, as the capacity for conscious suffering … .” [1087W-{6-8/81} Herodom and Christendom; 3rd Supplement to ‘Religion and Art’: PW Vol. VI, p. 276-277]

[R.1: H]

The Rhinedaughters inform Alberich that though they have rejected his bid for love, nonetheless they are trusty and true to the wooer who traps them:

Alberich: So deceit is all you foment, you faithless brood of nixies?


Rhinedaughters: (#2:) Wallala, [etc.] (…) Why, faint-hearted dwarf, did you fail to bind fast the maiden that you love? We are trusty and true to the wooer who traps us. (#41 embryo:; #105 embryo:) Grab what you can and don’t be afraid: in the floodtide we’ll not lightly flee (:#41 embryo; :#105 embryo) (#2:) Wallala! [etc.!]

The Rhinedaughters, at this early stage of the Ring, represent instinct, spontaneous animal impulse, which Wagner regards as unthinking, unreflective joy in existence for its own sake, and regards as the basis for artistic expression (which also embraces religion’s illusions). We will find in the course of the drama that Wotan and his proxies, the Waelsung heroes, are able to capture the Rhinedaughters’ bliss in their natural creativity which is the basis of religious mythology and art, creativity which is rooted in feeling rather than the power of thinking. These subjective consolations Wagner identifies with “love,” while Alberich’s more practical interests, which exclude love, are the basis for that quest for objective knowledge which grants us actual power.

[R.1: I]

Having lost his chance at love through natural affection, Alberich now desperately tries to forcibly catch one of the Rhinedaughters and coerce love from her (an oxymoron), and fails miserably:


Alberich: [[ #9: ]] In every limb a blazing fire burns and glows (:#9)! (…) Though you may laugh and lie, lusting, I languish after you and one of you must yield to me!

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