Learn how and why Ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt were invented during Renaissance

624 pages,
446 illustrations

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Meet the Characters

  • Fricka

  • Siegmund

  • Donner

  • Freia
  • Wotan
  • Rhinemaidens

  • Hagen

  • Sieglinde

  • Siegfried

  • Brünnhilde

  • Mime the dwarf

  • Loge
  • Alberich :

    One of the essential characters the Ring creates insoluble characterization problems. On one hand he is a deformed and disgusting being, with a grey messy beard; on the other hand he is a man. Ugly certainly, but capable of making a child to a noble lady and to resist Wotan. That is why you have to be careful to caricature the Nibelung, who has certain nobility in spite of its physical nanism.
    The directors did not make a mistake there, they were careful enough not to make the dwarf look smaller by subterfuge. Alberich is above all a chief, a leader. The clan of the Nibelungs consists of industrious, skilful employees, of artisans, metalworkers, liking their work and benefiting from it. They do contrast with the Giants who are farmers and entrepreneurs. Alberich stands out from the mass by his strong libido. At dawn, while Wotan sleeps dreaming about his castle, the dwarf skips into a foreign element, on the slippery and unstable ground. The attraction is purely sexual and totally undifferentiated: the Rhine maidens are interchangeable for him, as they are for Siegfried (who also would have liked to seize one of them).

    The sexual frustration is intense, certainly, but so is the desire to take revenge. The Rhine maidens are there not their first attempted seduction.

    They have already seduced and drowned many men, but it is only to him that they dare to reveal the secret. It means that Alberich is infinitely more passionate than other victims.

    The hidden spring of the action is the confusion between sex and love made by the nixes. Alberich knows the difference. He knows that unlimited wealth excludes love, but rhymes perfectly with sex.

    He understood that any woman, goddess or noble lady, is for sale and proves it even when he has only crumbs of his treasure. (He seduces Grimhilde with gold).

    From the moment when Alberich curses love and seizes the gold, his character changes. The humbled sex turns into sadism and greed. As much as Alberich was gullible before his kidnapping, as much he becomes suspicious later.

    The magic helmet, which confers invisibility and ubiquity, is the symbol of this paranoia. But extreme power not only isolates its holder but also makes him vain. Loge understands that perfectly.

    Shinoda Bolen, the Jung psychoanalyst, asserted that her cabinet is full of Siegmunds and Siegfrieds. As an adviser to big multinational companies, I may assert in my turn that the boards of directors of these empires are full of Alberichs. I met many CEO's of immense fortunes, living meagrely, depriving their family of everything to save and increase a portfolio of shares of which they will never take advantage. These men are paranoiac, vain, hated secretly by their family, adulated and courted. They gave up for ever love, or any feeling.

    They show an appearance of charity or consideration for the human race only if it is indispensable for their business.

    One finds many Alberich types among the patriarchs of the North and the American Puritans. They loathe and disdain the pleasure-seekers and bon vivants, they dream to annex the political power, as Alberich dreams to annex Walhalla.

    Alberich was dangerous when he possessed the "circulating capital". He reigned over his workers by control and violence. The purpose is double: the unlimited and exponential growth of gold, the growth for the growth, globalisation, to use a very current term.

    Globalisation aims at the totalitarian domination of the planet and the inhabitants who populate it, including its political leaders. Nobody should escape it. But Alberich becomes even more dangerous when deprived of the Ring. The curse has an effect of metastasis. Till now Alberich was the only one driven by financial monomania, the cult of money for the sake of money. From the moment when the Ring escapes him, he is going to spread the fatal renunciation of love everywhere it travels.

    All will be more or less contaminated by his power. As Alberich plans, those that have it will tremble with fear, those that do not have it will be full with envy. The curse is not only a spell: ransom to be paid to reach the supreme wealth; it is also another shape of monomania.

    The first aimed at increasing a saving. The second aims to destroy and to undermine the established society by hatred and resentment. Alberich, as Wotan, tries to find a " surrogate ", a manipulated son, better placed than him to get back the Ring.

    How is it that this person does not seem to us as obnoxious as he should be? First of all because he is a victim. A victim of the power of impulses and someone who has undergone a castrating treatment. The sexual instinct, which would have been able to change into tenderness, even into love if it had not been quenched, is transformed into instinct of power (the raised fist, the abstract threat), then into force of alienation. The theme, which represents it, is called " work of destruction " looks like the scratching of a mole clearing itself a tunnel, it is as unclear as the subterranean work of undermining which it represents. It is hatred, but the patient, persevering and hidden hatred. And then, Alberich is substantial with himself. He agreed to pay, to face the consequences of his choice. He is twice a victim: of the rape of his image by the Rhine maidens, the rape of his property by Wotan. Chéreau represented that one by a finger amputated by Wotan's Lance.

    Alberich pays by his own self. He gives up joy for power, loses the power, which represents the Ring. His life is hell.


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