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The Rhinegold: Page 125
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Woglinde: [[ #18: ]] Only the man who forswears love’s sway [“Minne Macht”], only he who disdains love’s delights [“Liebe Lust”] (:#18) can master the magic spell (#17:) that rounds a ring from the gold (:#17)


Wellgunde: We’re safe enough, and free from care since all that lives must love; no one wants to abjure its delights.


Woglinde: Least of all he, the lecherous elf: he’s almost dying of lustful desire [“Liebesgier”]!


Flosshilde: I do not fear him as I found him: the flames of his lust [“Minne”] fairly scorched me. (…)

And here Woglinde has introduced one of the most important and famous motifs of the Ring, #18, the so-called “Renunciation of Love Motif.” As Cooke observed, a segment of this motif will later give birth to #37, sometimes known as the “Loveless Motif,” heard later quite often as an abbreviated representative of #18, almost always in association with sadness and depression, except where it is used with irony.

Wagner’s great philosophic mentor Ludwig Feuerbach felt that only objective thought, freed from the bias of subjective feeling which taints religious faith, could get at the truths of nature and obtain that knowledge which grants man power over his environment:

“It is only by the understanding that man reduces the things around and beneath him to a mere means to his own existence.” [53F-EOC: p. 39]

But, according to Feuerbach, those whom nature (or religious faith) satisfies instinctively, without the need for reasoned thought and effortful labor, will never experience that feeling of anguish and lack of satisfaction (such as Alberich experienced after his bid for love was rejected by all three Rhinedaughters, i.e., after nature failed to satisfy him) necessary to the evolution of culture and mastery of the real world:

“But how can he who has all in God, who already enjoys heavenly bliss in the imagination experience that want [Noth?], that sense of poverty, which is the impulse to all culture?” [126F-EOC: p. 217]

The point here is that one has to relinquish subjective emotional consolations, which tend toward illusion, in order to win the power granted only by effortful acquisition of objective knowledge of the real world, knowledge which often contradicts what one feels “ought” to be true. Alberich therefore has to renounce love in order to win the full power uniquely available to us through

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