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The Rhinegold: Page 156
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[R.2: F]

At this point, with Loge’s tardiness weighing upon Wotan, the Giants, fresh from having completed Valhalla while the gods slept, dramatically enter to stake their claim on Freia:


Fricka: (#26a:) There come the giants striding swiftly along: where’s your crafty accomplice now (:#26a)?


[Freia, accompanied by #24, cries for her brothers to help her since her kinsman has abandoned her.]


Fricka: All who betrayed you in evil alliance have fled to save their skins.


( [[ #26a: ]] Enter fasolt and fafner, both of gigantic stature and armed with stout staves)


Fasolt: (#21:) Gentle slumber sealed your eyes (:#21): we both, unsleeping, built the stronghold. [[ #26b: ]] Never tiring of mighty toil, we stowed the heavy stones away … (:#26b). (pointing to the castle: #20a modulation?) There it stands, what we hewed (#20a modulation?); shimmering brightly the day shines upon it (#20a modulation?): move in now, to pay us our due.


The orchestra introduces the Giants’ pounding motif #26a. It is the basis for #126, which will first be heard in S.2.1 in association with the Giant Fafner (transformed into a serpent or dragon) and the fear he inspires. Fasolt, accompanied by #21, makes the remarkable claim that while the gods slept the Giants, unsleeping, built their fortress, later to be christened Valhalla by Wotan. Wagner’s placement of #21 here provides a subtle reminder that whatever Wotan or others later say about his conscious motives in manufacturing the spear from a branch of the world ash, and his negotiation of a contract with the Giants to build Valhalla (which is now engraved on his spear), all these events must have occurred while Wotan slept, i.e., during the transitional period in the evolution from instinctive animal life to conscious humanity, what might be described as man’s preconscious dreamtime, the time just before man became fully, consciously human.

This is an astonishing example of Wagner’s talent for translating the most arcane aspects of Feuerbach’s critique of religion into fairy-tale metaphors. The point here is that during that transitional period in man’s evolution into full human consciousness from his preconscious animal ancestors, whose actions were motivated solely by instinctive drives, there was a period of collective sleeping, i.e., dreaming, during which man’s animal drives (the Giants) gave birth to the first truly human cultures or civilizations and the religions (Valhallas) which laid their foundation. Thus, as the gods (who in Feuerbach’s world are, after all, just men, nothing more than us) slept, the Giants built Valhalla. We will find, over and over again, that in Wagner’s remarkably

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