The Madness and Aliveness of Nietzsche

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

(Jiddu Krishnamurti)
The alleged moment which executed Friedrich Nietzsche’s journey into apparent clinical insanity is the basis for Bela Tarr’s masterpiece film ‘The Turin Horse’ (2011).

This moment of inhumane cruelty and bleakness that Nietzsche witnesses in his life against an innocent animal, could be a symbol of the tyranny and silent desperation in elements of our lives and the world around us.

We continue with our lives desensitised and immune to the brutality within, and around us. Perhaps our inability to not become ‘clinically’ insane at all this, is evidence of the silent sickness (or the true insanity) that has engulfed our lives.

So, I consider his emotional reaction at this particular moment and the mental breakdown that ensues, as a sign of the deep sensitivity and aliveness of his soul.

Here is the account of this moment shown at the beginning of ‘The Turin Horse’:

In Turin on January 3rd 1889,

Friederich Nietzsche steps out of the door of number six via Carlo Alberto.

Perhaps to take a stroll, perhaps to go by the post office to collect his mail.

Not far from him, or indeed very far removed from him,

a cabman is having trouble with his stubborn horse.

Despite all his urging, the horse refuses to move,

whereupon the cabman

Guiseppe? Carlo? Ettore?

loses his patience and take his whip to it.

Nietzsche comes up to the throng,

and puts an end to the brutal scene of the cabman,

who by this time is foaming with rage.

The solidly built and full-moustached Nietzsche suddenly jumps up to the cab,

and throws his arm around the horse’s neck sobbing.

His neighbour takes him home,

where he lies still and silent for two days on a divan,

wntil he mutters the obligatory last words,

“Mutter, ich bin dumm” (Mother I am dumb)

And lives for another ten years, gentle and demented,

in the care of his mother and sisters.

Of the horse…we know nothing.