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The Rhinegold: Page 194
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This fact is behind man’s involuntary invention of the gods, spiritual beings, just as Alberich’s Ring, #19, the source of man’s worldly power, is the foundation of Valhalla, #20a, which represents man’s aspiration to attain spiritual transcendence of the real, physical world. But Alberich is warning his fellow Nibelungs that he can be found where least expected, i.e., that Alberich’s egoistic motives are the foundation even of the gods, and of man’s ideals, where man would least expect to find this mundane, vulgar influence. As Feuerbach put it, egoism is the hidden motive behind all of man’s actions, even man’s longing to transcend his bodily and natural limitations and liberate himself from subjection to his egoistic drives:

“Man is a practical, not a theoretical being, he is motivated not by ethereal imagination but by hungry, painful reality.” [343F-LER: p. 324]

“… man’s will is also contained in his essential being; he cannot break with his nature; even the wish fantasies which depart from it are determined by it; they may seem to go far afield, yet they always fall back on it, just as a stone thrown into the air falls back on the ground.” [250F-LER: p. 164]

“Why … should we not confine ourselves to the world, since in any case we cannot go above or outside it, since even the idea and hypothesis of God throws us back on the world … .” [218F-LER: p. 101]

Alberich’s remark that the Nibelungs are subject to him forever tells us that man can never transcend his own nature, cannot escape his subjection to egoistic motivation or escape the bonds of natural law, which in the Ring we may regard as fate, or predestination. In the Ring, everything is inevitable, everything is as it must be. As Wotan will later confess to Alberich, in S.2.1, everything goes its own way, and one can alter nothing.

[R.3: B]

Loge, finding Mime in despair wondering how he might free himself from Alberich’s iron hand, offers to help Mime. Introducing a new motif #44, Mime asks who would ever help him, since he’s bound to obey his brother Alberich:


(Wotan and Loge descend through a crevice: #33b) (…)


Mime: (#5:) Ow! Ow! Ow! (:#5)! (…)


Loge: (bending over Mime: #5 vari) Why whimper here, you wondrous thing? (…) Hey, Mime! Blithe-spirited dwarf! What plagues and pinches you so?


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