Father’s dream

Even before the beginning of the twentieth century, Friedrich Nietzsche he had predicted the imminence of a ruthless war between the sexes that would have engulfed European society. According to him, this permanent conflict would have been due to the degeneration of what Goethe had called theeternal feminine.

His were prophetic words, which current prejudices today try to liquidate with the accusation of misogyny, in itself not even the most serious of the many that have been addressed to the Zarathustra philosopher. The origin of so much hatred towards the opposite sex, according to the superficial, can be explained simply with the amorous disappointment that Nietzsche suffered at the hands of Lou von Salomé, an intriguing, cultured and intelligent woman, who from a very young age had endeavored to philosophize about the existence of God and for this too he had immediately fascinated the restless German thinker.

Nietzsche scholars are familiar with a photograph taken in Lucerne in 1882, which inspired part of the story that follows. In it, the very young Lou, even without knowing it, symbolically anticipated topics that are taken for granted today, but at the time still execrated by bourgeois salons, such as the sexual liberation of women, free love and menage a troiswhich almost a century later would have spread and would have been colored with feminism, becoming part of the common experience and contributing decisively to today’s marriage crisis.

During that period, Salomé had accompanied Nietzsche and Paul Rée, the latter’s best friend at the time, and had even formulated the intention of living with both of them, establishing a relationship between them that was much more cerebral than erotic. So much so that, inspired by the very young intellectual of Russian origin, their triangle even wanted to represent itself as a philosophical trinity, a blasphemous parody of the Christian Trinity. At the same time, however, von Salomé rejected the passionate marriage proposals of the great philosopher, who suffered deeply from this.

The three friends appear together in the aforementioned photograph, where Lou wields a riding crop behind the two men, who thus ideally appear as two servants pulling the cart on which their mistress is seated. An image of torment and delight that demonstrates how the one between the three thinkers was a private story full of psychoanalytic themes and symbols of universal value. By contrast, it reminds us that – when it comes to the new discipline born in the last century with Freud and Jung – it is more crucial than ever to know how to “scrutinize everything and retain its value”, to put it like St. Paul to the Thessalonians.

In fact, one hundred and forty years after those events, it cannot be denied that the war between the sexes foreseen by Nietzsche has by now become full-blown, and even bloody, throughout the Western world. It has led to obvious phenomena of family breakdown and society, of widespread psychological malaise, of collective impoverishment and, notoriously, of physical violence as well. The sexual revolution bears part of the responsibility for what happened, but to find a way out it will never be enough to point the finger at it. In fact, not only as a reaction to the phenomenon, too many men of our day have begun – depression and physical violence aside – to no longer be up to their task of guardians of their loved ones, as well as of the common good of society as a whole. It can be said that they have lost touch with what the protagonist of this novel defines as his father’s gaze. This is the most urgent problem among the many that nihilism and postmodern relativism, also prophesied by the works of Nietzsche, have left us as a legacy.

The following story, surreal and also cynical as you like, is therefore dedicated to all those who have nostalgia for the father. Not only of what they have not been able to have, but also of what, often through no fault of their own, they would like to become without succeeding.

Father’s dream