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Rapture, Religion and Madness Part Two: Lou Andreas-Salomé on Nietzsche

By D.A. Barry.

Part 1 of this essay presented a brief biography of Lou Andreas-Salomé and an overview of the ideas in her book, Friedrich Nietzsche, The Man in His Works (1894), with particular reference to Nietzsche’s Overman and Eternal Recurrence. Now in Part Two, Heidegger’s lectures on Nietzsche will be examined in more detail and the ‘rapturous’ attributes of the Will to Power shall be brought into focus; along with Lou Andreas-Salomé’s ideas on religion and psychology; together with an examination of Salomé’s distorted image in several areas of academic and popular culture.

Heidegger’s Authentic Dasein and its relationship to Nietzsche’s Will to Power.

For those unfamiliar with Heidegger’s ideas of authentic and inauthentic Dasein, it is worth presenting a brief if incomplete explanation.

Dasein – Heidegger’s concept of the ‘Being’ of the human being or embodied consciousness – can be in an authentic or inauthentic state. Dasein is inauthentic when it conforms to what is generally believed by other persons, such as a peer group, or by society at large, and fails to be aware of this ‘fall’ into inauthenticity. Being and Time carefully constructs a clear understanding of Dasein in its authentic and inauthentic conditions. In the same way that glib platitudes do no justice to Nietzsche’s thought, only by wrestling with Being and Time can one arrive at an appreciation of what Heidegger’s philosophy has to offer. For this reader, at least, it is the apotheosis of Heidegger’s thought and was completed before he succumbed to Nazism. This in no way forgives him for joining the Nazi Party.

Michael Inwood, in Heidegger: A Very Short Introduction, has done an extraordinary service in giving a passable simplification of Heidegger’s basic ideas. Inwood regards inauthentic Dasein thus:

In so far as I conform to the ‘they’, I am not my own individual self but the ‘they-self.’ The self of everyday Dasein is the they-self which we distinguish from the authentic self.

In order to uncover authentic Dasein, consciousness needs to become aware of its end at death, to think back to its birth in the continuum of time and previous history and take control of its choices in life unconditioned by any received belief system. This is not easy. Dasein needs to be ‘resolute’ in this commitment, as Inwood states, “Resoluteness discloses Dasein in a new way… It discloses a range of possibilities that are not visible to everyday Dasein lost in the they.”

Moreover, he extends the point in stating that:

Heidegger’s account of resoluteness is coloured by his study of the conversions of St Paul, St Augustine and Martin Luther. Paul is in the same world after seeing the light on the way to Damascus as he was before, but everything looks different.

Parallels in Eastern Religious Philosophies

If Inwood is correct, it is possible to discern a similarity in Heidegger’s account of authentic Dasein with the ideas of the Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna (from Geoffrey Samuels’ Civilized Shamans): “Nirvana for the Madhyamika Buddhist, is not a thing to be attained, but an alternative way of seeing and experiencing the world and so of acting within it.” As with Heidegger’s ‘resoluteness,’ the key to finding this Nirvana condition is first of all through maintaining a state of presence and awareness that dispels distraction. This is the basis of all Buddhist practices. Having arrived at this non-dichotomizing state, the meditator experiences states of rapture and becomes aware of unconditioned creative potentiality. In Being and Time Heidegger says: “Together with the sober anxiety that brings us before our individual potentiality-of-being goes the unshakeable joy in this possibility.” Thus Heidegger’s state of authentic Dasein brings ‘unshakeable joy’. Nietzsche’s realisation of the Will to Power, according to Heidegger’s Will to Power as Art is evidenced by ‘creative rapture.’ The experience of rapture in meditation systems is seen as evidence of the presence of what is called in some Buddhist sects the ‘natural state’ – the individual free from dichotomising thought beyond the dualism of good and evil – although the ‘natural state’ must be discerned as other than rapture itself.

Rapture as a means to a ‘mystical’ end is present in every religious meditation system: Sufism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity. Rapture is pure bodily pleasure that arises conterminously with a sense of ‘being one with all.’ Rapture is not dependent on dichotomising thought. It is not dependent on the rational. It is not dependent on language. In Buddhism and Hinduism the experience of rapture is seen as a means – not an end – to continued recognition of the non-dichotomizing presence of the ‘natural state.’ Many meditation texts warn against mistaking this rapture for a state of ‘enlightenment.’ Rapture can be equivocal. Some aspects of Buddhism and Hinduism are not innocent of using the generation of rapture to condition their devotees into obedience and loyalty. If rapture can be recognised as an expression of the Will to Power, or of authentic Dasein, it can also be a means of conditioning the individual.

The Nazis were adept in the use of collective rapture as a means of psychological control and exaltation. A clear example can be seen in the Nuremberg rallies as filmed by Leni Riefenstahl in The Triumph of the Will, which is not to suggest that Nietzsche might have approved.

The bleakness at the Death of God faced by Nietzsche in the parable of the madman can be, according to Heidegger, transcended by the ‘rapture’ of becoming a unique individual completely identified with the Will to Power present in the knowledge of Eternal Recurrence; or disclosing the unshakeable joy in authentic Dasein. Authentic Dasein is a state beyond good and evil as the Overman is beyond good and evil.

At least initially, Heidegger saw in the rise of Nazism a way of establishing a regime for birthing the Overman in a Reich-dominated Europe – even the world – with himself at its philosophical helm. But the Nazis didn’t want him at the philosophical helm. No matter what brilliant insights Heidegger might have had into authentic and inauthentic Dasein, his choice for Nazism is nothing other than unconscionable – and arguably an expression of the worst of inauthentic Dasein. But perhaps the fundamental concept of disclosing ‘authentic Dasein’ is already deeply flawed. Heidegger sought only ‘authentic Dasein’ which had no room for any ethical consideration other than its own presence in Time (or beyond time in the Eternal Recurrence?). If one believes one has achieved authentic Dasein, one believes that all one’s actions are authentic. Did this belief in the ‘attainment’ of authentic Dasein, beyond good and evil, make Heidegger indifferent to the Holocaust?

In many of his writings, Nietzsche makes an attack on compassion as a weak Christian concept. Salomé as a psychologist was committed to healing the damaged psyche. Whether she was a good psychologist or not – and Freud thought that she was – this requires a basic sense of compassion, openness and empathy to the experiences of other (Dasein or) human beings.

Acting through the Will to Power, or authentic Dasein, the individual is acting beyond good and evil or any system of morality developed by the ‘herd’ or the ‘they-self.’ Tantric Buddhism has a similar position in that enlightenment is beyond dualism. Enlightenment is beyond good and evil. Stories of crazy wisdom teachers in Vajrayana Buddhism are rife with actions that act counter to monastic rules or moral positions. How often have these ‘secret teachings’ ‘beyond the duality of good and evil’ been used to exploit disciples and students and to justify acts of barbarity?

Heidegger’s conception of ‘joy’ in authentic Dasein and – according to Inwood – its similarities with St Paul’s awakening on the road to Damascus, appears to have mystical parallels but without any spontaneous simultaneous presence of compassion, which Tantric Buddhism, rightly or wrongly, claims to be the case in the realization of the non-dichotomizing ‘natural state.’

Whatever the belief systems of humankind there is a propensity to rapture through transcendence and a recognition of rapture’s capacity for healing the psyche of its everyday insecurity, or of anxiety, or of the uncertainty of post-mortem obliteration or survival. But rapture per se is not without its inherent dangers for conditioning and control as the ritualistic Nuremberg Rallies so clearly illustrate. Rapture alone is not a state of freedom. It can equally inspire conformity and in the case of the Nazis, Holocaust and genocide; in the case of groups such as ISIL, beheadings, murder and mass rape. Rapture can be generated in a sports crowd or in a marauding army. Rapture in itself is not freedom. Can it thus be considered ‘authentic?’

Salomé’s negative responses to Nietzsche’s thought are often objections to the methods he proposes to engender the conditions necessary for the birth of the Overman. According to Angela Livingstone, Salomé objects – on moral grounds – to Nietzsche’s proposition that:

new healthy harmonies and controlled serene being entails a preliminary desire for disorder, debauch and cruelty… the new man will be a great overcomer, and the more he has to overcome the greater he will be… she laments his admiration for great criminals and his attacks on democracy, on civilised institutions, on kindness and pity…all the more lamentable in that the goal that would justify them is unattainable. For the Superman, in addition to being Nietzsche’s psychical double, is a mere aesthetic image…

Nietzsche’s philosophy is radically flawed – and this aspect of ‘being beyond good and evil’ has been used as a justification for abominations despite apologists’ insistence that Nietzsche’s aim to challenge all values is simply to induce total liberation of the individual from the shackles of defunct moral codes. True that much of Nietzsche’s philosophy was ignored or ‘rearranged’ by his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche and by Nazi philosophers such as Bäumler. True is Nietzsche’s disdain for Volk nationalism. Apologists claim that the Nazis particularly ignored Nietzsche’s hatred of anti-Semitism that led him to ditch an anti-Semitic publisher at one point. But some readings of his work, e.g. Ecce Homo, suggest Nietzsche did harbor anti-Semitic views. Or how far had his madness proceeded by then?

In his book Nietzsche: Life as Literature, Nehamas points out that when all the hyperbole is stripped away from his writing, Nietzsche’s core philosophy is quite banal:

A true individual is precisely one who is different from the rest of the world, and there is no formula, no set of rules, no code of conduct that can possibly capture in informative terms what it is to be like that. There are no principles that we can follow in order to become, as Nietzsche wants us to become, unique… On the contrary, it is by breaking rules that such a goal, if it is indeed a goal at all, can ever be reached. And it is as impossible to specify in advance the rules that must be broken for the process to succeed as it is, say, to specify in advance the conventions that must be violated for a new and innovative genre in music or literature to be established… The very notion of the individual makes it impossible to say in informative terms how one can ever become that. The best that can be expected in this regard is a set of vague and banal guidelines, statements like, “Use all your abilities and deny none, for any denial will be guided by the values that rule your world, whether you want to or not, and so you will fail to be different after all” — statements of which Nietzsche’s writing is full (though in more elegant versions).

The point here is not to damn Heidegger and Nietzsche, or Eastern religions, for seeking to achieve a state of authenticity beyond dichotomizing thought, but to point out that it is so easy to be self-deluded by the hubris of identification with a ‘perfect’ ideology, philosophy or religion, or deluded by rapture; and aesthetic hubris or embodied rapture can lead to genocide, madness or gullibility – no matter how brilliant the intellectual philosophy that engenders it. Loss of ‘resoluteness,’ or distraction into the ‘they-self’ in whatever its forms, leads to the loss of individual authenticity. We can own our inherent cruelty without losing basic humanity and compassion. There is a vast difference between an aesthetic image and the horrors of the gas chambers.

Nietzsche posits an aesthetic alignment with the Will to Power by which the individual makes of one’s life a work of art, as Foucault attempted to do. This self-creative process can only function at the level of the individual. As soon as that project of self-creation seeks to impose itself on society at large, as in Heidegger’s fantasy for the Nazi Party, the individual rapidly becomes lost in the ‘they-self.’ In the case of Foucault, his individual Nietzschean self-creation led directly and perhaps consciously to self-destruction. This may have been Foucault’s business rather than anyone else’s – unless he knowingly passed on AIDS to others without informing them of his HIV positive status before having unsafe sex with them. Whether Foucault did this or not, I have no idea.

The point to be made here is that to overthrow all moral values in order to find new ones is fine for the overcoming of personal limitations, but as soon as this involves other individuals the question of mutual consent becomes vital. Certainly that mutual consent can be beyond the limitations of any puritanical or politically expedient legislative ‘norm’ bearing in mind that, in whatever its form, self-delusion is inauthentic: narcissism in its usual sense. Lou Andreas-Salomé as a psychologist developed her own revaluation of the Freudian view of narcissism and this revaluation throws some light on her own view of religion.

Narcissism, Rapture, Will to Power, Religious Union

The following quotes are from Angela Livingstone’s biography. Lou Andreas-Salomé:

[Salomé] asserts that narcissism is oriented two ways – to separation and to fusion. As Freud said, it consists of ego (separation) and sex (fusion). Neither orientation has priority; but her main concern is to emphasise the aspect of fusion, “the affective identification with everything, the re-merging with everything as the positive basic aim of the libido”…Whenever metaphysics tries to harmonise “being” with “God”, it is recognising…this oneness of subjective and objective…The God-value is narcissism’s most brilliant achievement.’

Despite Salomé having lost her belief in God at a very early age, she saw the God-value as a useful mental projection. For those who believe in God, they can have a ‘back-effect’ of opening consciousness to the delight of fusion with the whole of ‘creation.’ The loss of this belief leads to the dilemma of Nietzsche’s madman. The ego and the libido need a new orientation to rediscover that delight. Salomé takes a controversially positive view of narcissism as a means of connection with the entire field of perception:

Narcissus… looked not into a man-made mirror but into a forest pool, so that what he saw was not just his own face, but his face in union with the outer and boundless world of nature. That union, that entirety, was what he was in love with.

‘Will to Power’, ‘rapture’, ‘unshakeable joy’, ‘union with the outer and boundless world of nature’ are all essentially religious tropes. There is a will to transcendence in the human being whether it may be called the Overman, authentic Dasein, or union. This urge to transcendence, rightly or wrongly, is experienced by the psyche as a way to mend its dichotomous contradictions.

As Nietzsche pointed out in the parable of the madman, the psyche needs “water… for us to clean ourselves… festivals of atonement… sacred games…” to be ‘invented’; it needs some way of mending itself when psychological structures and moral systems prove to be inadequate and then fracture – as Nietzsche’s madman was psychologically fractured.

In an atheistic iteration of metaphysics, the Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna (around 150-250 CE) claimed that “Any assertions we choose to make about the true nature of reality can be shown through strict logical argument to be inconsistent.”

The history of Western Philosophy whether based on metaphysics – or particle physics – is a history of one theory superseding another; likewise Buddhist Philosophy.

David Loy points out in his article ‘The Deconstruction of Buddhism’ (in Derrida and Negative Theology) that:

It is possible to understand the Buddhist tradition as a history of this struggle between deconstructive delimitation and metaphysical re-appropriation, between a message that undermines all security by undermining the sense-of-self that seeks security and a countervailing tendency to institutionalize that challenge.

Likewise any attempt to reduce Nietzsche’s philosophy to a system.

As Nietzsche says in The Wanderer and His Shadow: “The urge to possess absolutely only certainties is a residual religious drive, and nothing more.”

Essentially, Eastern meditation practices – whether used or abused – are about being present in life now without being conditioned by anything. Does this approach have parallels with authentic Dasein? Or uncovering the Will to Power? Or Che Guevara’s concept of the New Man who will emerge after the revolution?

Being a Buddhist or a Hindu certainly doesn’t guarantee empathy and compassion no matter that it may be at the heart of their religious teachings: witness the Buddhist ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Muslims in Burma. Heidegger was a Nazi. Che Guevara ordered the execution of Cuban dissidents in his own ranks who he became suspicious of committing espionage against the Movimiento 26 de Julio. Wars and ethnic cleansing are part of every human creed, philosophy, and economic system. No one is innocent. Nothing is certain. The human mind, no matter how committed to overthrowing all systems, whether philosophical or religious, falls into patterns: the Overman is as much an aesthetic invention as any other culturally conditioned ‘superior being.’ And the rapture can be experienced by anyone who finds him or herself ‘in the zone’ through writing, painting, kendo or baseball.

The proposed causes of Nietzsche’s madness

Tertiary syphilis has generally been accepted as the cause of Nietzsche’s insanity although since it is over a hundred years since his demise it must be difficult to give an accurate diagnosis. In an article in Neurosurgery, September 2007, titled ‘The madness of Dionysus: a neurosurgical perspective on Friedrich Nietzsche,’ the authors Owen, Schaller and Binder suggest that Nietzsche may have been suffering from “a large, slow growing, right-sided cranial base lesion, such as a medial sphenoid wing meningioma. Aspects of his presentation seem to directly contradict the diagnosis of syphilis, which has been the standard explanation of Nietzsche’s madness.”

But is it not possible that a man who was brought up to be a pastor – who disrupted the entire matrix of his youthful subconscious make-up through his groundbreaking philosophy – exacerbated by the strain of obsessive philosophical analysis with which he constantly overthrew each position of possible stability – failed in healing the resultant stresses on his own psyche? Salomé appears to have recognised the fault lines in Nietzsche’s psychological make-up, which either physical or mental illness caused to fracture. Mental illness can be just as devastating as physical illness although a physical cause would have less stigma attached to it by society at large, or by would-be Nietzsche devotees.

Lou Salomé’s image in academic and popular culture

Novelists, filmmakers, biographers and academics have all distorted Salomé’s image, some more than others. Angela Livingstone’s biography Lou Andreas-Salomé is one of a few that take her seriously. Livingstone nevertheless follows the generally accepted academic valuation when she states what she considers are Salomé’s misunderstandings of Nietzsche’s thought.

Here is a list of seven of these objections:

1. Nietzsche always declared himself to be resolutely hostile to religion so his philosophy cannot be religious or mystical.

2. Nietzsche proposed the concept of the Overman as one who nobly endures the emptiness of being whereas Salomé saw the Overman as a godly figure designed to fill up that emptiness.

3. Salomé emphasises his irrationality despite the lucid thought in, for example, Beyond Good and Evil.

4. She states that Nietzsche had given himself up to feelings and nothing else but bodily intelligence.

5. She takes Nietzsche too literally – not metaphorically.

6. She misses the experimental nature of Nietzsche’s writings.

7. She had not thought out the arbitrariness of language, a central theme of modern culture which Nietzsche was one of the first to address.

Livingstone’s arguments may be countered by considering that:

1. Whatever Nietzsche declares, Salomé points out the psychological conflicts and patterns that had conditioned him since childhood. The influence of his religious upbringing is clear in the language that he uses in his poetic philosophising and to express his internal conflicts. It is not possible for even a potential psychologist to ignore this. The religious parallels in the concepts of the Overman, Eternal Recurrence, and the rapture of the Will to Power can hardly be denied.

2. From a psychological point of view, Nietzsche’s inflated hyperbole gives the impression of a need to fill a psychological void and of the ego being overwhelmed by psychological rapture. Alexander Nehamas in particular examines this hyperbole in some detail in Nietzsche: Life as Literature.

3. Although Kaufmann insists that Nietzsche’s thought is consistent from beginning to end, both Karl Jaspers and Nehamas have pointed out that Nietzsche swings from one position to its opposite over a series of writings. It is also possible for lucidity and irrationality to exist at the same time in consciousness. They can both be present with terrifying consequences… or as a moment of genius. As for Nietzsche’s lucidity in Beyond Good and Evil, I beg to differ that the following aphorism is particularly lucid: “When a woman has scholarly inclinations there is usually something wrong with her sexuality.”

4. Given Heidegger’s emphasis on the experience of rapture as a corollary of Nietzsche’s central tenet of the Will to Power, Salomé appears to have a valid argument. Rapture is indeed the embodied sensation of a particular state of mind and emotion. According to Heidegger, Nietzsche considers ‘rapture’ as evidence of the presence of the Will to Power.

5. The lines between literal and metaphorical are often blurred in Nietzsche and, while Salomé appreciates the poetry of The Gay Science, at the same time she detects in Thus Spake Zarathustra an alarming herald of Nietzsche’s impending madness. After reading an 1891 essay by Salomé, Erwin Rohde, a friend of Nietzsche quoted by Livingstone, declared: “It is clear to me now (although Lou veils this) that with Zarathustra the madness begins, but what a madness, and what fire it throws in shining flames over the earth.” This would suggest that Salomé was not unaware of the metaphorical nature of Zarathustra or of the value of Nietzsche’s philosophy.

6. Salomé declares that once Nietzsche arrived at a philosophical insight through one method – for example his early acceptance of Schopenhauer and his paean to Wagner superseded by Positivism and so on – he had to abandon the insights of one position in order to assay another deeper venture into his protean philosophy. This would appear to be an appreciation of Nietzsche’s experimentation. Nehamas in Nietzsche: Life as Literature points out that Nietzsche’s hyperbolic language is used as an attack on the matrices of traditional religious and philosophical belief systems. It is a linguistic assault to undermine even unconsciously held ossified values. Nietzsche was equally brutal in overturning his own positions that he consistently built up and tore down over time.

7. In the biography, it is true that Salomé doesn’t examine “the arbitrariness of language, a central theme of modern culture which Nietzsche was one of the first to address.” This doesn’t however undermine her psychological portrait of Nietzsche and her undoubted appreciation of his philosophical work. Published in 1894, Salomé’s biography is certainly not poststructuralist.

At least Livingstone’s criticisms come after a careful and sympathetic consideration of Salomé’s life and writings. It appears that her work and her way of life are capable of provoking extreme hostility in some quarters. Rudolph Binion’s Frau Lou: Nietzsche’s Wayward Disciple (1968) is a particularly extreme example. Binion was a student of Kaufmann, the great translator and biographer of Nietzsche. Kaufmann provided a cautious – perhaps apologetic – foreword to Binion’s book. Binion, taking his own skewed Freudian approach, in his first chapter claims that Salomé ‘excited by excretion’ had craved her father because she wanted to “reenter his bowel-womb to repossess his penis.” (Binion doesn’t make clear when Salomé first came into possession of it nor how she lost it.) Could his conjecture be more than a trifle misogynistic? Or could it possibly be an expression of his castration anxiety when confronted by a powerful woman’s interpretation of Nietzsche? Binion, as did Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, complains that Salomé over-emphasises, mythologises and exaggerates the duration of her relationship with Nietzsche. At the age of twenty-one, an intense relationship that lasts some eight months within the tensions of a three-way jealousy and all the excitement of discovering a philosophy that overturns all limits is only likely to be intensely experienced as time compressed.

As Livingstone points out in her biography of Salomé, “the avoidance of dates and firm facts is characteristic of all her writing.” Certainly, Salomé includes personal letters and conversations she had with Nietzsche in her biography. Binion appears to find this objectionable, an example of self-aggrandisement. Again, Livingstone points out

at worst this was an ordinary vanity’ and that it shows ‘she not only knew Nietzsche and had privileged insight into his mind, but was also admired by him… (she) even manages to speak at length about his state of grief before the writing of Zarathustra without giving any sign that she was its cause.

As Nietzsche’s first biographer, if Salomé had failed to include her personal experiences and correspondence in a biography of someone with whom she shared intense intellectual and emotional experiences – Nietzsche had, after all, proposed to her – would she not have missed an opportunity to present a more intimate side to her subject?

Salomé’s approach to Nietzsche’s Psychology

How much does Salomé’s biography of Nietzsche reflect her own understanding of Being, her own life of freedom – sexual, intellectual and physical – or her own conditioning by religion? Salomé’s biography of Nietzsche appeared six years before he died when he was already in the depths of his madness. It is impossible to know what Nietzsche might have thought of it.

Livingstone writes, “she studied his work with intensity and wrote about it a more brilliant and rigorous book than she wrote about anything else.” Livingstone quotes Henri Albert, who translated the complete works of Nietzsche into French:

Nietzsche cannot repeat often enough his low estimation of women and – cruel irony! – his work is most intimately understood – by a woman!

Criticism of Lou Salomé and her biography of Nietzsche has ranged from the simply sexist, through to the intellectually measured, and to the virulent (usually by men although Nietzsche’s sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche nurtured a particularly violent hatred toward her). A Förster-Nietsche ally, Fritz Köegel complained that the biography presents Nietzsche as a ‘morbid weakling’ rather than as a noble philosopher. Could Nietzsche not have been both?

Philosophy asks the question ‘How is it best to live one’s life?’

Both Nietzsche and Heidegger had glaring weaknesses apropos empathy and human compassion no matter what their apologists might offer in mitigation. We are all flawed.

Lou Salomé finished her life as a psychologist committed to the cure of the damaged human psyche. A close associate of Freud, he trusted her enough to refer patients to her. Salomé continued to work and write and to remain in close contact with Freud until the end of her life in 1937. To quote Livingstone, “Her philosophical world was a direct outgrowth of her lived life, very much as she had explained in her book about him, that Nietzsche’s was of his.”

Nietzsche’s writing is a linguistic assault to undermine even unconsciously held ossified values. Salomé’s appreciation and analysis of Nietzsche has unique value as a close psychological biography written by someone who knew Nietzsche personally and was not in awe of him. It can also serve as a provocation. That she had differences of interpretation of Nietzsche’s psychology and philosophy than that of a number of Nietzsche scholars is hardly surprising when scholars such as Nehamas, Kaufmann and Jaspers fail to agree with each other. While it is possible that Nietzsche’s madness may be attributable to syphilis or brain tumour, rather than schizophrenia or some other form of mental breakdown, the religious rhetoric of his writing is undeniable. It would be comforting for atheists to attribute this rhetoric to irony but examination of his ideas with reference to Heidegger’s interpretation of Will to Power, Salomé’s understanding of his psychology, and Nehamas’s analysis of his hyperbole, there is rather a lot of evidence that his thought was heavily influenced by religious conditioning. A close reading of Salomé’s biography of Nietzsche offers refreshing insights for interpreting Nietzsche’s life, his strengths, his weaknesses, his genius, his personality, his psychology and the developments in his philosophy, and it’s crucial that such insights or provocations of Lou Andreas-Salomé shouldn’t be lost to misogyny, trivialisation or prejudice.


Author image by Andrew Stevenson

D.A. Barry has published three novels with Jonathan Cape: The Chivalry of Crime, A Bloody Good Friday and Cressida’s Bed. He’s written a thesis called The Escape of the Imaginary Author about David Enrique Spellman and the multi-platform novel Far South. His shorter prose has been published in The New YorkerGranta and in anthologies including Sea Stories and London Noir. His first novel, The Chivalry of Crime, won Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America. He tweets from @farsouthproject. He’s putting the final touches on a new novel set in New York City.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, November 16th, 2015.