Dançando à Beira do Abismo: Nietzsche segundo Stefan Zweig


Some remarks upon...

nietzsche zweig
STEFAN ZWEIG (1881-1942),
“The Struggle With The Demon – Kleist, Hölderlin and Nietzsche”
Introduction and Translation by Will Stone.
Hesperus Press, London, 2013.

stefan-zweig-nietzsche-le-combat-avec-le-demon_2254061-MArticle by Eduardo Carli de Moraes:


Maybe the thrill in our veins when we read Nietzsche derives from the sense of danger that his words exhale: he’s inviting us to dance near the abyss, and without safety nets. Nietzsche desires life to be risky and full of surprises, and is furious against all tendencies of sheepish conformity. A true lover of art and poetry, Nietzsche was both a great thinker and a great artist – one who claimed that “we have art so that we might not die of the truth.” For him, an authentic “free spirit” doesn’t shy away from confrontation with the riddles of existence, even the most scary and painful ones: if you want knowledge, you’ll have to face the monsters of the abyss, and let the abyss stare into you!

As Karl Jaspers wrote on his awesome book about Nietzsche, the philosopher worthy of his task is a figure similar to Theseus: he enters boldily into the labyrinth, willing to be face the danger of being eaten by Minotaurs. In Stefan Zweig’s writings on Nietzsche we feel the emphasis falling upon the dangerousness of Nietzsche life and fate. In his introduction, Will Stone recalls how much Zweig’s book focuses on “the decisive abandonment of security by Nietzsche and his propensity to take an ever more self-destructive tightrope walk, where all safety nets are strictly forbidden.” (Will Stone, Introduction, XIX)

“Voluntarily, in all lucidity, renouncing a secure existence, Nietzsche constructs his unconventional life with the most profound tragic instinct, defying the gods with unrivalled courage, to experience himself the highest degree of danger in which man can live.” (Zweig, p. 6)

Few philosophy books can be said to be as exciting as a roller-coaster ride or a bungee-jump. I believe Nietzsche’s impact on posterity has to do, partly, with those adrenaline shots we receive from his writings. We can re-read his words many times because they provoke us, entice us, marvel us, enfuriate us – but hardly ever leave us indiferent. The flame of life, in each to us, seems to burn more brightly and intensely when we come to spend so time in company with Nietzsche’s flaming words. My experience as a reader of Nietzsche’s books leads me to cherish him as a powerful voice who affects people deeply – some may disagree with him, but this disagreement itself is usually so vehement and intense that it serves as a sign of the echoes, either consonant or dissonant, that Nietzsche’s words arouses. Philosophy in the 20th century was profoundly shaken and inspired by Nietzsche’s books, but in his life, as Zweig points out, he was eaten alive, bit by bit, by the demon of solitude.

Despite his attempts to make his voice be heard, many commentators point out that Nietzsche lived an utterly lonely, isolated existence – “a solitude deprived even of God”, writes Zweig. Nietzsche ended up “crushed by the world’s silence.” (pgs. 5-7) In the following lines, Zweig is less a biographer than a painter: he’s trying to get us in synch with the philosopher’s emotional mood: “One feels here is a man residing in the shadows, apart from all social conviviality, (…) a man who over the years has lost the habit of social interaction and dreads the prospect of being asked too many questions.” (pg. 10)

Nietzsche’s health can be seen as one reason for his choice of an isolated life-style, but it doesn’t explain why the philosopher chose to cut himself even from the most basic of relationships needed, for survival reasons, for someone in his condition: the relationship with a doctor! Nietzsche rarely sought aid of professionals in the medicine field: he mostly self-medicated. He kept away from alcoholic beverages, never drank cofee nor smoked cigarettes. His pension-room had always among its furnishing elements, according to Zweig’s lively description, “an horrifying arsenal of poisons and narcotics”:

 “On a shelf, innumerable bottles, flasks and tinctures: for headaches, which regularly occupy so many wasted hours, for stomach cramps, spasmodic vomiting, instestinal weakness, and above all, those terrible medicaments to control insomnia – chloral and veronal.” (11)


A portrait of the philosopher by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch

Imagine Zweig as a painter, and his words as drawings in our imagination, and let’s hear how he further paints Nietzsche portrait: the philosopher’s eye-sight is poor, without his glasses he would be blind as a bat. But that seems to be no impediment to his will to devote so much energy into the activities of reading and writing (which demand so much eye-labor). Most nights, Nietzsche’s brain just won’t turn off, and he can only restore his energies by sleep if he ingests some kind of soporific medicine.

“Sometimes he spends the whole day confined to bed. And no one comes to his aid, not even a helping hand, no one to lay a cool compress on his burning brow. No one to read to him, to chat with him, to laugh with him… never a warm naked female body beside his own.” (p. 11-12)

A grim picture of disease and loneliness is painted before our eyes by these Zweigian words, but they serve merely as background for the main figure in the painting: a tragic hero in the realm of knowledge, Nietzsche himself, and the process by which he falls down into the abyss. Would we dare, right here and right now, rebelling against the silence that springs from his grave, delve into the mystery of Nietzsche’s life and death?

friedrich-nietzsche (1)

Zweig seems to want his reader to pity the fragile and lonesome state of poor Nietzsche – friendless, abandoned, unloved. I couldn’t help imagining how Nietzsche himself would judge Zweig’s portrait. Nietzsche himself was never attracted by self-pity, and it may be argued that he chose voluntarily to lead a life in which we wouldn’t bother others with his health issues – as if he was trying to put to practise a radical attempt at self-reliance, even in the worst conditions. As Jacob Burckhardt points out, Nietzsche lived as if his task were “to increase independence in the world” (quoted by Zweig, pg. 89), and it’s hard to imagine a philosopher who took so seriously the task of being independent. The fluctuations of his health had profound impact upon his emotional state and the “mood” of his tought: by his own life-experience Nietzsche extracted awesome insights into the inner workings of the human mind. He’s arguably one of the greatest psychologists of the 19st century (he claimed to have learnt psychology mainly with Stendhal and Dostoivésvki), an certainly a pioneer in pre-Freudian times.

 Zweig’s book focuses a lot on Nietzsche’s life, especially the connection between his existential loneliness and his outstanding artistic and philosophical productions. It leads the reader to ask himself: why did this philosopher, who had demolished the moral ideals of asceticism (mainly in his Genealogy of Morals), chose to live in a condition of isolation similar to those hermits he criticised so much? What caused Nietzsche’s attitude of removal from sociability: was it arrogance or pride ? What could have acted as an impediment in the route to Alterity, in Nietzsche’s life? What was the obstacle he couldn’t trespass, keeping him from crying out for help and accepting the aid of human love? Were the people around him to blame for being indiferent and uncomprohensive?

According to Zweig, aways, everywhere he lived, Nietzsche was a foreigner. And that usually doesn’t make easier the task of building friendship. It can’t be said that friendship is highly valued in his books. And it doesn’t seem to me that Nietzsche pursued in his life, with much interest or passion, a quest for human warmth and love. Lou Salomé is maybe the sole female figure in Nietzsche’s life to have aroused in him some kind of dream about redemption by love, some passionate widening of his emotional chest to the realm of the Other, but we know well things didn’t turn out that rosely. Nietzsche couldn’t see la vie en rose and his passion for Lou Salomé turned out to be a devasting heart-break. After the rupture with Lou Salomé, facing what he calls “the greatest crisis of his life”, he writes Zarathustra, a work-of-art and an philosophical poem that carry the mark of something unique. His bond with Lou had collapsed, in ruins were all the bridges of dreams, and in utter solitude he set out to write a book about a character who spent ten years far from all human contact, and tries to re-descend among the humans, to reveal what he learned whilst dwelling in the wilderness, only to discover that everyone miscomprehends him. A book born out of Nietzsche’s abyss, filled with dancing stars, chaotic and colourful as life itself. 



“The year-in year-out lack of a really refreshing and healing human love, the absurd loneliness that it brings with it, to the degree that almost every remaining connection with people becomes only a cause of injury; all that is the worst possible business and has only one justification in itself, the justification of being necessary.” – Letter sent by Nietzsche to his friend Overbeck, 3.2.88

Much speculation about Nietzsche breakdown in Turin is to be found in dozens of books. To this pile of speculation, Zweig adds his own contribution:

“For 15 years this cave life of Nietzsche continues from rented room to rented room, while he remains unknown…. only the flight of Dostoyevsky, almost at the same moment in time, with equitable poverty and neglect, is illuminated by the same cold grey spectral light. Here, as there, the work of a titan conceals the gaunt figure of the poor Lazarus who daily expires from his despair and infirmity in solitude, as day by day, the miracle savior of creative will awakens him from the depths. For 15 years, Nietzsche emerges thus from the coffin of his room, moving upwards and downwards, with suffering upon suffering, death upon death, resurrection upon resurrection, until, over-heated by such a flood of energy, his brain breaks apart. (…) Un-accompanied and unkown, the most lucid genius of the spirit rushes headlong into his own night.” (13)

Tough Nietzsche suffered a lot, he didn’t turn angrily against life, nor did he sought final relief in suicide. His philosophy is born out of the dwellings of his mind with his pains: “pain always searches to know the causes, whilst pleasure remains in a fixed position and does not look backwards”, he wrote. “Mighty pain is the last liberator of the spirit; she alone forces us to descend into out ultimate dephts.” And elsewhere: “I know life better, because I have so often been at the point of losing it.” (p. 23)

“Nietzsche never sets up house, with a view to economizing and conserving, he builds no spiritual home; he wants (or perhaps he is forced by the nomadic instinct in his nature) to remain eternally without possessions, the solitary Nimrod who wanders with his weapons through all the forests of the spirit, who has no roof, no wife, no child, no servant, but who, on the other hand, has the thrill and pleasure of the hunt; like Don Juan, he adores not the enduring feeling but the fleeting moments of greatness and ecstasy. He is solely attracted by an adventure of the spirit, by that ‘dangerous perhaps’ that stimulates and excites as long as the chase is on but as soon as attainmet is reached loses its grip.” (29)

In Zweig’s perspective, Nietzsche sounds the alarms and alerts us – prophetically – against the ills of nationalism and praises cosmopolitism:

“Nietzsche is content to be without country, without home or possessions, cut off forever from that ‘parochialism of the fatherland’, from all ‘patriotic subjugation’. His perspective will be the lofty one of the bird in flight, of the ‘good European’, of that ‘essentially nomadic race of men who exist outside of nations’. (…) Once Nietzsche has established himself in the south, he steps definitively beyond his past; he is peremptorily de-Germanized, de-Christianized… the navigator to the realm of the future is too happy to be embarking on ‘the fastest ship to Cosmopolis’ to experience any nostalgia for his unilateral, uniform and univocal fatherland. That is why all attempts to re-Germanize him should be strongly condemned.

At the same time as de-Germanizing him, the south also serves to de-Christianize him completely. Whilst like a lizard he enjoys the sun on his back and his soul is lit right through to his innermost nerves, he ponders what exactly had left the world in shadow for so long, made it so anguished, so troubled, so demoralized, so cowardly conscious of sin, what had robbed the most natural, the most serene, the most vital things of their true value, and had prematurely aged what was most precious in the universe, life itself. Christianity is identified as the culprit, for its belief in the hereafter, the key principle that casts its dark cloud over the modern world.This ‘malodorous Judaism, concocted of Rabbinic doctrines and superstition’ has crushed and stifled sensuality, the exhilaration of the world and for fifty generationshas been the most lethal narcotic, causing moral paralysis in what was once a genuine life force. But now (and here he sees his life as a mission), the crusade of the future agains the cross has finally begun, the reconquest of the most sacred country of humanity: the life of the world.” (pg. 61-63)

Zweig also suggests that, with Nietzsche, it appears for the first time upon the high seas of German philosophy the black flag of a pirate ship. With Nietzsche, it dawns

“a new brand of heroism, a philosophy no longer clad in professorial and scholarly robes, but armed and armored for the struggle. Others before him, comparably bold and heroic navigators of the spirit, had discovered continents and empires; but with only a civilizing and utilitarian interest, in order to conquer them for humanity, in order to fill in the philosophical map, penetrating deeper into the terra incognita of thought. They plant the flag of God or of the spirit on the newly conquered lands, they construct cities, temples and new roads in the novelty of the unkown and on their heels come the governors and administrators, to work the acquired terrain and harvest from it the commentators and teachers, men of culture. But the final objective of their labours is rest, peace and stability: they want to increase the possessions of the world, propagate norms and laws, establish a superior order.

Nietzsche, in contrast, storms into German philosophy like the filibusters making their entrance into the Spanish empire at the end of the 16th century, a wild unruly swashbuckling swarm of desperados, without nation, ruler, king, flag, home or residence. Like them he conquers nothing for himself, or anyone following him, not for a god, or a king, or a faith, but uniquely for the pleasure of conquest, for he wants to acquire, conquer and possess nothig. He concludes no treaty nor build a house, he scorns the rules of war put in place by philosophers and he seeks no disciple… Nothing was more foreign to Nietzsche than to merely proceed towards the habitual objective of philosophers, to an equilibrium of feeling, to repose in a tranquilitas, a sated brown wisdom at the rigid point of a unique conviction. He spends and consumes successive convictions, rejecting what he has acquired, and for this reason we would do better to call him Philaleth, a fervent lover of Aletheia, truth, that chaste and cruelly seducing godess, who unceasingly, like Artemis, lures her lovers into an eternal hunt only to remain ever inaccesible behind her tattered veils.” (pg. 43)

In Nietzsche’s fate we can read the tragedy of someone who, tortured by disease and anguish, embarks head-on in Knowledge’s dangerous adventure. Alone and frail, but bold and curious, he’s a man who, like a serpent, exchanged skins thoughout his life. But, as Zweig points out, his only homeland was solitude. Wherever he lays his hat, there he’s alone. He journeys through the land, but doesn’t seem ever to leave loneliness behind. There’s a song by Portishead in which Beth Gibbons wails: “This loneliness just won’t leave me alone”. It’s quite possible Nietzsche knew a lot about this emotional mood. The philosopher has been acquainted with the blues. Sometimes, it seems, he tries to believe isolation is a merit and that the geniuses of humanity shouldn’t mix with the riff-raff – that’s why many nostrils can smell arrogance in Nietzsche attitude, some aristocratical eliticism, as if the man believes he shouldn’t wallow in the mud of common vulgarities.

This loner consoles himself, to lessen the pains of his solitude,  with the idea that posterity will understand and honour him. Free spirits yet to be born keep him company through his darkest hours. He warms himself by the fireside of his imagination of future glories. Zarathustra is filled with images, bursting from a mind intoxicated by poetry, of better days to come, of men who have outgrown mankind as we know it. The question I pose is: how maddening is it to seek human warmth on the imaginary realm? Can you cure yourself from loneliness with the dreamt shadow of future friends?

In Nietzsche’s final years, he gets increasing bombastic. Now he brags he’s dynamite. His previous books were almost completely ignored by the general population of the planet, and he can’t deal with this easily, emotionally speaking: he felt “only immutable solitude multiplied” and this is what, according to Zweig, “turns his soul gangrenous”: the wound of no reply.” (75)

 His descent into the abyss is portrayed by Zweig as a tragedy of utter solitude. Nietzsche sinks, his brain shatters, because the burden of the world’s indifference and deafness is too much to bear. Nietzsche’s own judgement of his past achievements, in Ecce Homo, may sound deeply narcisistic and self-glorifying: he believes, for example, that Zarathustra is the biggest gift ever given to humanity, the greatest book ever written, and that whole universities should be created and devoted to its study. Some chapters of Nietzsche’s intriguing auto-biography are filled with self-celebration and megalomania, as if he’s trampling modesty underfoot: Nietzsche explains to his readers why he  is so wise, how does he manage to write such great books, and considers himself to be an event in History that will divide it in two epochs. Zweig’s interpretation invites us to understand this as a symptom of his social isolation, of his frustration about the silence that surrounded his ideas, and which was so rarely broken in Europe during his life (only George Brandes, professor in Copenhagen, made an effort to spread Nietzsche’s ideas in academic circles during the philosopher’s life).

When he reached the period when he wrote his last books – among them are The Antichrist, Twilight of the Idols, Ecce Homo… –  Nietzsche seems to be increasingly furious, bombastic. He writes with outbursts of rage and indignation, striving to get some answer from the world around him. Even hostility from readers seems to him to be better than silent indifference. This is how Zweig describes this late Nietzschean works:

“There are contained the most unbridled scornful cries of rage and heavy groans of suffering, flayed from his body by the whip of impatience, a savage growling through foaming mouth and bared teeth… provoking his epoch so that they react and let go a howl of rage. To defy them still, he recounts his life in Ecce Homo with a level of cynicism which will enter into universal history. Never has a book exhibited such a craving, such a diseased and feverish convulsion of impatience for response, than the last monumental pamphlets of Nietzsche: like Xerxes insubordinately battling the ocean with a scourge, with insane bravado he wants the indifferent to be stung by the scorpions of his books, to defy the weight of immunity which enshrouds him. (…) In the glacial silence and lost in his own entrancement, he lifts his hands, dithyrambic his foot twitches: and suddenly the dance begins, the dance around the abyss, the abyss of his own downfall.” (p. 77)

Stefan Zweig’s book is filled with this kind of highly dramatical images, as if he’s trying to honour Nietzsche with a painting worthy of a tragic hero. It’s certainly a very impressive and sensitive portrayal of Nietzsche, tough in its less than 100 pages it doesn’t share many details of the philosopher’s life (this has been done by Curt Paul Janz, Rudiger Safranski and other biographers). Zweig’s perspective is filled with melancholia and he decribes the “struggles with the demon” experienced by Hölderlin, Kleist and Nietzsche as something he also has experienced in his own flesh. Zweig’s life, similarly to that of Nietzsche, can’t be said to have ended happily: he was living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, when he commited suicide in 1942. He had sought refuge from the horrors of the World War in Europe, a jew fleeing from the claws of the Holocaust. For a while, he believed Brazil to be “the country of the future”, a safe harbour where no racism or anti-semitism existed. In his book, Brazil – Country of The Future, he idealizes his new home with the eyes of the refugee who was leaving behind a world of intolerance, hatred and persecution. Then, frustration takes over, and he shoots himself in Petropolis. But that’s another story.

I believe Zweig’s Nietzsche is a book whose great merit lies in the description of Nietzsche’s existential position, one of social isolation of almost complete lack of community bonds. He’s downfall, according to an interpretation by Brazillian philosopher Oswaldo Giacoia, one of the leading figures in Nietzsche studies in Latin America, is deeply related the fact that he couldn’t belong to what Hannah Arendt used to call “a common world”. One of the most interesting psychological problems posed by Nietzsche’s fate, it seems to me, is this: how important for psychic health are the lived experienced of community bonds? What are the consequences of radical rupture with the whole dimension of alterity? Or, put more simply, what’s the price that pays the person who lives without any of the warmth provided by friendship and love? 


Stefan Zweig, author of “The Struggle With The Demon – Hölderlin, Kleist and Nietzsche”. Click here to read an excerpt of the last chapter of Zweig’s book.

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Human All Too Human – BBC Series – Full Episode

“Nietzsche em Turim – O Fim do Futuro”, de Lesley Chamberlain

book-cover-nietzsche-turinLESLEY CHAMBERLAIN
“Nietzsche in Turin: An Intimate Biography”
Editora Picador USA, 1999

(Publicado no Brasil pela Ed. Difel em 2000.
Disponível para compra na Estante Virtual.)

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“The year-in year-out lack of a really refreshing and healing human love, the absurd loneliness that it brings with it, to the degree that almost every remaining connection with people becomes only a cause of injury; all that is the worst possible business and has only one justification in itself, the justification of being necessary.” – Carta de Nietzsche a Overbeck, 3.2.88

Ano após ano, a ausência de um “refrescante e terapêutico amor humano” abisma o filósofo Nietzsche em um estado de “solidão absurda”, como ele confessa ao amigo Overbeck em carta de 1888.

Apesar de já ter publicado quase toda a sua obra obra consagrada (Além de Bem e Mal, Genealogia da Moral, Humano Demasiado Humano, Zaratustra, A Origem da Tragédia, Aurora, A Gaia Ciência…), Nietzsche chega ao fim dos anos 1880 e descobre-se mais isolado do que nunca. Na Alemanha, seus livros são ignorados por quase todos, ou incompreendidos pelos poucos que os lêem: o verdadeiro “sucesso” editorial, na época, são os panfletos anti-semitas que se propagam pelo Reich de Bismarck e que Nietzsche abomina com toda a força de seu nojo.

Enquanto vão surgindo os primeiros sinais de que sua obra repercute pela Europa – o professor judeu George Brandes começa seu curso sobre Nietzsche na Universidade de Copenhagen, por exemplo – ao redor do homem Nietzsche se adensam as nuvens pesadas de uma solidão cada vez mais densa.

“Alguns homens nascem póstumos”, escreverá Nietzsche, tentando consolar-se com a idéia de que só espíritos livres do futuro o compreenderiam e que ainda estava por nascer uma época que tivesse ouvidos para suas mensagens. A solidão ao seu redor era quase absoluta: após toda uma série de rupturas com aqueles que haviam sido importantes em sua vida (Wagner e Cosima, Paul Rée e Lou-Salomé…), Nietzsche se encontrava, como diz Lesley Chamberlain, em um “deserto emocional”.

Por mais que tenha vociferado contra o ideal ascético, de que eram adeptos tantos eremitas e anacoretas, Nietzsche também se encontrava em uma espécie de eremitério em Turim: não sabia falar grande coisa de italiano, o que decerto dificultava encetar amizade com os estranhos ao seu redor, e sua melhor companhia era a música, em especial a de Bizet, cuja ópera Carmen o filósofo irá assistir por duas de vezes e depois celebrará como uma obra-prima nas antípodas do wagnerianismo.

No geral, Nietzsche vivia só, quase sempre desacompanhado, um andarilho que caminha com sua sombra, lidando sem auxílio externo com sua doença, seus dilemas, suas turbulentas reflexões. Desde que havia se demitido, por razões de saúde, de seu posto como professor de Filologia na Universidade da Basiléia (Suíça), Nietzsche havia perambulado pela Europa como cigano peripatético, um caminhante introspectivo, sem amarras com nenhum emprego, nenhuma instituição, nenhuma “causa” de militância social. Tampouco tinha qualquer relacionamento amoroso que lhe acalentasse os dias com os imprescindíveis calores da convivência.

Só encontrava um grão de diálogo humano através das cartas que escrevia e recebia. Entre seus correspondentes havia figuras eminentes da cultura européia daqueles tempos – como o historiador Jacob Burckhardt, o dramaturgo August Strindberg, o compositor Peter Gast (Koselitz)... – mas todos eles vivendo a grande distância física de Nietzsche.

Imagino às vezes o tamanho da inconfessável fome de abraço que ele deveria sentir: o filósofo que redimiu o corpo tão massacrado pela tradição idealista da filosofia ocidental era um pensador sofria nas próprias vísceras a falta de sentir seu próprio corpo agasalhado pelo afeto humano. Além do mais, este mesmo corpo, que reconhecia como fonte de seu pensamento, de sua criatividade, da vida em seu inteireza, era massacrado pela doença. Diante dos açoites do destino, recomendava o amor fati, uma trágica aceitação jubilosa de tudo aquilo que a existência tem de mais problemático e angustioso.

O que ocorreu com Nietzsche em Turim é um mistério que não cessa de instigar a curiosidade daqueles que se interessam pelo filósofo, já que foi o “palco” do colapso psíquico que o fez mergulhar de vez, sem volta, na insanidade. Era o começo de 1889 quando, nas ruas da cidade italiana, um certo sábio-louco alemão,  professor de comportamento  tão extravagante e de tão longos bigodes, abraçou um cavalo que estava sendo maltratado em via-pública e depois desfaleceu. Nunca mais pôde reaver toda a potência de seu prodigioso cérebro: em breve estaria de cama, sob cuidado de seus familiares, quase um “vegetal”, incapacitado de ler e escrever. Não reconhecia mais ninguém. Na aurora do século 20, em 1900, iria enfim tornar-se banquete para os vermes.

ecce homoNos meses que antecederam seu desmoronamento psico-somático, Nietzsche havia produzido algumas de suas obras de maior impacto: O Caso Wagner, O Crepúsculo dos Ídolos, Anticristo e Ecce Homo são todos livros desta última fase, em que sua pena mordaz não teme chocar, provocar, polemizar.

O mínimo que se pode dizer destas obras é que seu autor não se preocupa em ser polido e delicado: expressa suas opiniões radicais como se desejasse que cada frase tivesse o efeito de uma banana de dinamite. Estava convencido de que algo de melhor podia ser construído sobre os escombros da Europa que ele enxergava, desde o fim do século 19, no caminho desgraçado do nacionalismo militarista, do racismo, do anti-semitismo, do continuado fanatismo religioso conjugado a um moralismo autoritário. Até o fim de sua vida, escreveu livros que prosseguem sendo pura Dinamietzsche.

Compreender as razões que levaram Nietzsche a terminar sua vida criativa em Turim é tarefa dificílima, que já foi tentada por muitos pesquisadores e biógrafos, mas sem que nunca se tenha chegado ao desvendamento final do enigma. Penso que a solidão, o isolamento social, é uma das chaves para entender o crepúsculo nietzschiano. Pois estou convencido que até um grande artista, um gênio criador, um filósofo brilhante, não é nunca completamente “auto-suficiente” em matéria de afeto, que precisa da estima alheia para ter um chão sólido sobre o qual caminhar com passo firme, e que a saúde do corpo e da mente é inalcançável sem o intercâmbio com os outros.

“Nenhum homem é uma ilha”, diz o poeta John Donne. E aqueles que acabam ilhados na solidão, rodeados por todos os lados pelas gélidas águas da indiferença, ou pela hostilidade dos tubarões, não raro terminam também loucos. E o que há de mais enlouquecedor do que a sina de Robinson Crusoé após o naufrágio?

Em seu livro mais recente, Nietzsche – O Humano Como Memória e Promessa, Oswaldo Giacoia reflete, pegando carona nas reflexões de Hannah Arendt sobre a condição humana, que uma das explicações para o colapso psíquico de Nietzsche foi a progressiva perda de participação em um “mundo comum”. Em outras palavras: para Nietzsche, que se considerava “extemporâneo”, um peixe fora d’água em sua própria época, não havia nenhuma comunidade real que ele integrasse.

A própria megalomania que se manifesta em Ecce Homo parece um sintoma da vida no deserto que Nietzsche então levava: é como se ele tentasse elogiar a si mesmo na falta de qualquer ser humano que o elogiasse. É a falta do apoio do outro que o leva a buscar apoio em si mesmo, e de maneira que soa tão “narcisista”, a julgar pelos títulos de alguns dos capítulos deste seu escrito auto-biográfico e auto-glorificante (“por que escrevo livros tão bons”, “por que sou tão sábio” etc.).

É claro que muitos outros comentadores, biógrafos e pesquisadores destacam que causas puramente orgânicas levaram Nietzsche a naufragar em Turim no início de 1889 – alguns apostam na hipótese de que ele havia contraído sífilis na juventude em algum prostíbulo; outros, que seu estado de saúde tão debilitado devia-se aos ferimentos que sofreu no campo de batalha, durante a Guerra franco-prussiana de 1870, na qual Nietzsche serviu como enfermeiro e onde contraiu difteria e disenteria; outros ainda destacam que devia haver alguma predisposição genética para a doença cerebral correndo no sangue da família, já que o pai de Nietzsche, pastor luterano, havia morrido precocemente aos 35 anos de idade. Impossível bater o martelo e apontar a “verdade das verdades” sobre um tema tão complexo.

Dias_De_Nietzsche_Em_TurimDe todo modo, o tema “Nietzsche em Turim” é instigante e suscita muitas obras que se debruçam sobre o “caso”, tentando decifrar o enigma – inclusive o cinema brasileiro realizou um experimento de compreensão com Dias de Nietzsche em Turim, filme de Julio Bressane, roteirizado por sua esposa Rosa Dias.

Na sequência, compartilho alguns trechos da “biografia íntima” escrita por Lesley Chamberlain, Nietzsche em Turim, em que a autora realiza uma interessante jornada pela vida e pelo pensamento de Nietzsche – o qual, nas palavras de Alain de Bottom, “emerges as a kind, awkward man with an immense, unsatisfied hunger for love” (Los Angeles Times Book Review).

A autora – que também participa do documentário da BBC Humano, Demasiado Humano – não procura dar respostas definitivas ou resolver de vez o enigma da esfinge. Ao contrário, convida-nos a conhecer em minúcias as circunstâncias existenciais que precederam o naufrágio e assim nos convida a indagar das razões que conduziram o barco nietzschiano a pique.

Para Lesley Chamberlain, Nietzsche lutou com a doença como Laocoonte batalhando contra as serpentes na clássica escultura; ao abraçar o cavalo nas ruas de Turim, encenou na vida real um sonho de Raskolnikov em Crime e Castigo, e manifestou, segundo a interpretação de Milan Kundera, horror diante da crueldade humana diante dos animais; ao celebrar o deus Dioniso e seus ditirambos, quis cantar um hino de júbilo à existência em sua absurdidade, irracionalidade e inexplicável deleite, ao mesmo tempo que lamentou por uma comunidade bacântica que não chegou a vivenciar…

O filósofo, que na juventude havia ficado tão impressionado pela música de Wagner, em especial Tristão e Isolda, viveu em Turim o último ato da tragicomédia de sua existência consciente. Parece-me que não entenderemos seu naufrágio se não levarmos em conta que este homem solitário, apaixonado pela música e pela vida, não encontrou para sua voz um lugar no humano coral.

Mas sua voz de solidão prossegue ecoando, séculos depois de sua morte, assombrando-nos e iluminando-nos, instigando-nos e provocando-nos, cheia de luzes e sombras, cantos e lamentos, choros e risos, sabedoria e insanidade… Tudo mesclado e cambiante, como a própria chama da vida que dança ao sabor dos ventos do fado, lutando contra a morte enquanto mantêm queimando sua ânsia insaciável por alegria e potência… Para citar o poeta Quintana: “que importa restar em cinzas se a chama foi bela e alta?”

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Passo a palavra à Lesley Chamberlain:

“Nietzsche’s readiness to espouse the Dionysian was there even in 1870. He believed that there could be, as there once had been, an art form capable of embracing life’s horrors and irrationalities without needing to explain them or sublimate them or lessen the furious pace of their attack. In this sense pain could be directly confronted and celebrated without loss of present vitality and without what we would surely call today ‘repression’…” (pg. 39)

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“Three things high mountains signified for Nietzsche: aesthetic beauty, moral courage and intellectual clarity. (…) The high vantage point gave him not a sense of the world below being inferior to some higher realm, but a sense of the sheer relativity of its judgements. The paradox was that the realization of limitation was liberating. The Upper Engadine’s 5.500 feet above sea level stood for the most desirable capacity in human beings to see far over the heads of individual nations and people and creeds, the ability to survive by rising above the fray, and the need to go beyond the familiar world in order to see the arbitrariness of its values…” (99)

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“Nietzsche’s famous rejection of pity demonstrates how pity diminishes the integrity of the other. If I flood another person with pity I may dull his or her ability to find strenght within, for pity is a crippling kind of sympathy which confirms misfortune and woe, expressing the idea: ‘Yes, hasn’t life treated you badly, you deserve to feel sorry for yourself.’ At issue for Nietzsche the psychologist is the way people manipulate each other, often making others feel weak in order to enhance their own power. It is the manipulativeness that Zarathustra and Nietzsche reject as being beneath love…” (103)

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“Spinoza had said the act of knowing involved an act of laughter, an act of mourning and and act of cursing. Nietzsche homed in on those subconscious processes For him the act of knowledge embraced subconsciously that mixture of moods he consciously favoured as a working method. Knowledge – and love – emerged out of a confrontation on the battlefield of the subconscious, which engages our powers to spurn and to ridicule, to welcome, cherish and mourn… (cf. The Gay Science 179)”

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“Nietzsche loathed the repression of the sensual as a supposed moral value, hence much of his invective against the Church. The achievement of ‘The Genealogy of Morals’ was to see this institutionaized repression, practised by the Church, in political terms. Nietzsche’s ascetic priest and his ‘ideals’ spoke of totalitarianism in all but name nearly 50 years before the 20th century invented it, and impressively anticipated Wilhelm Reich’s criticism of the ‘mass psychology of Fascism…” (151)

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“Nietzsche fought a tremendous battle with sickness. He was like the outcast Trojan priest Laocoon, resisting the punishing sea serpents to the last breath. Thinking of the meaning of that classical statue, depicting terror and resignation, Nietzsche considered Laocoon’s fate showed the Apollonian forces of life yielding to Dionysus. The statue could have worn his face.” (182)


Uma das mais célebres esculturas da Antiguidade, “Laocoonte

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“A dithyramb originally described the song of Dionysus. It was an expression of intoxication and community, with Dionysus leading others in choral song. The choral element was what first inspired Nietzsche to see in Wagner’s music a rebirth of the Dionysian. (…) The dithyramb also bore, in its modern meaning of a poetic tone more than a form, a much closer personal significance for Nietzsche. It betokened wild howling, vehement expression. Nothing could have been more apt for a poet in love with the masks of self-intoxication and madness. What a way to rebel against being made chaste and virtuous by misfortune! The medium itself expressed a desire to be sensually out of control. Had Nietzsche used the form to greater artistic effect his poems might have become iconic for the modern condition, like Munch’s ‘The Scream‘, because they are a kind of howling after lost community. All of Nietzche’s writing where the pictorial and the musical dominate over the discursive could be called Dionysian and dithyrambic. They sing, they laugh, the flash colour, they luxuriate in texture…” (191)

"O Grito" de Edvard Munch (1863-1944)

“O Grito” de Edvard Munch (1863-1944)

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“On 3 January 1889 he tearfully embraced a mistreated nag in the street. The horse under duress was pulling a public conveyance. (…) In his embracing the horse several writers through the 20th century have seen a human being commiserating with an abused soul. Nietzsche rebelled against human cruelty and crudeness by hugging this horse who was his partner in metaphysical abjectness.

It is possible too that he had read the passage in Dostoievsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment‘ where Raskolnikov dreamed of throwing his arms around a mistreated horse. When Nietzsche dreamed of the mistreated horse he felt pity; he wanted to weep. Now in reality some ultimate autobiographical urge made him embrace a real hose…

kunderaThe Czech novelist Milan Kundera wondered in ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being‘ if Nietzsche did not beg this wonderful equine specimen to forgive Descartes for believing animals do not have souls. Kundera found Nietzsche’s to be a symbolic gesture against the dominance, the arrogance of the human mind over nature, against blind worship of progress…” (p. 210)

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Na sequência, assista na íntegra aos filmes Dias de Nietzsche em Turim, de Julio Bressane e Rosa Dias, e Humano Demasiado Humano, documentário da BBC inglesa (que também inclui episódios sobre Heidegger e Sartre). Boa viagem!


“Deus é uma resposta esbofeteada e grosseira…” (Nietzsche)


“Deus”, “imortalidade da alma”, “salvação”, “além” são conceitos para os quais nunca dediquei atenção, nem mesmo tempo, inclusive quando era criança – talvez eu jamais tenha sido criança o suficiente para tanto… Estou longe de conhecer o ateísmo na condição de resultado, menos ainda como acontecimento: em mim ele é compreensível na qualidade de instinto. Eu sou demasiado curioso, questionador e animado para poder aceitar uma resposta esbofeteada. Deus é uma resposta esbofeteada e grosseira, uma indelicadeza contra nós, os pensadores – no fundo apenas uma proibição esbofeteada e grosseira contra nós: “vós não deveis pensar!”

NIETZSCHE (1844-1900)
“Ecce Homo”
Ed. L&PM
Pgs. 45-46