The Piraha People of the Amazon

Coquelicot's work has evolved through her more than 20 years of experience of being a minister with the Association & Integration of the Whole Person (AIWP). To every session, Coquelicot brings her intuition and vast knowledge base. Then she gets out of the way to let something else arise; she makes room for a larger knowledge, and invites grace to enter. Coquelicot has a capacity for deep listening, listening beyond the limits of her personality and academic learning. By dropping and melting into something much larger than herself, she becomes simultaneously a student and a teacher, a facilitator and a catalyst. From there, she supports people to free themselves from the internal obstacles that block their innate ability to access this source directly.

Untouched Key

A Mistreated Child, a Brilliant Mind, and Eleven Years of Darkness

Several years ago I wanted to demonstrate that the works of writers, poets, and painters tell the encoded story of childhood traumas no longer consciously remembered in adulthood. After having made this discovery in my own painting and in the writings of Franz Kafka, I was able to test it against other life histories. I wanted to share what I had found with biographers and psychoanalysts, but I soon learned that I was dealing with forbidden knowledge, by no means easy to share with "the experts."

And so I decided not to publish my study but to keep the knowledge I had gained to myself, devoting myself to other pursuits such as painting and confronting my own early childhood. Through these activities I gradually realized that my disappointment at the blindness of society and of the experts had something to do with my own blindness and that I really felt compelled to try to prove some-thing to myself that a part of me refused to believe. Of course, I had long been aware of my parents' weaknesses, of the injury they had inflicted on me without knowing it, but my early idealization of my parents was still unresolved. I recognized it in my naive belief and confidence that the biographers of Hitler, Kafka, and Nietzsche must be capable of seeing and affirming what I had found.

That they were not capable of recognizing such forbidden knowledge finally became clear to me when I realized how strongly I was clinging to my childhood idealization of my parents. For a long time I couldn't stop hoping that my parents would someday be ready to share my questions with me, to stop evading them, react to them, and not be afraid to join me in seeing where they led. This never happened when I was a child, and I thought I had long since gotten over my deprivation. But my astonishment at the reactions of people whom I had expected to be more knowledgeable than I revealed that I still had not given up the image of clever and courageous parents who could be convinced by the facts. Once I became conscious of the connection, I no longer had any need to publish my study.

Now I have a different motivation for publishing. I would like to share the knowledge I have gained with people who can face the facts. They need not be experts but, rather, people who may be inspired by my work to read Nietzsche and to make a connection between their impressions of him and their own experience.
The need to share my findings with others was not my only motive in writing about Nietzsche. My work with the Nietzsche material had made me realize that society's ignorance about the injuries inflicted on children represents a great danger for humanity. Sentences from Nietzsche's writings could never have been misinterpreted in support of fascism and the annihilation of human beings if people had understood his words for what they were: the encoded language of the child who was forbidden to express his true feelings. Young men would never have been willing to march to war with his words in their pack if they had known that his ideology promoting the destruction of morality and traditional values such as charity and mercy stood for the raised fist of a child starved for truth who had suffered severely under the domination of hypocrisy. Since I myself had witnessed the way the deadly marching of the National Socialists in the thirties and forties was indirectly spurred on by Nietzsche's words, it now seemed to me worth the trouble to find and call attention to the genesis of these words, thoughts, and feelings.

Would Nietzsche's ideas have been useless to the Nazis if people had understood their source? I do not doubt it. But if society had understood, then the ideas of the Nazis would also have been unthinkable or at least would not have found the broad acceptance they did. The simple, commonplace facts of child abuse are not given a hearing; if they were, the human race would have greater understanding and wars could be prevented. Only if they are presented in a disguised, symbolic form can they create interest and an emotional response. For the disguised story is, after all, familiar to most of us, but it is symbolic language must guarantee that what has been repressed will not be brought to light and cause pain. Therefore, my thesis that Nietzsche's works reflect the unlived feelings, needs, and tragedy of his childhood will probably meet with great resistance. The thesis is correct nevertheless, and I will offer proof in the pages that follow. My proof can be understood, however, only by someone who is willing to temporarily abandon the adult perspective to gain insight into and take serious account of the situation of a child.

Which child are we talking about? The boy who learns in school to suppress his normal, human feelings and always act as if he didn't have any? The little boy who is trained day after day by his young mother, his grandmother, and his two aunts to be a "strong" man? The very little boy whose beloved father "loses his mind" and goes on living with the family for eleven months in an unstable condition? Or the even younger child who was punished most severely and locked in dark closets by the father whom he loved and was occasionally allowed to play with? It is not one or another but all these children rolled into one who had to bear so much without being allowed to express any feelings or, indeed, even to have any feelings. He was not supposed to cry, to scream, to be in a rage. He was only supposed to be well disciplined and to do brilliant work.

Friedrich Nietzsche survived this childhood; he survived the more than one hundred illnesses in one year of secondary school, the constant headaches, and the rheumatic ailments, which his biographers have assiduously listed without searching for their cause and which they finally attribute to a "weak constitution."

At the age of twelve he kept a diary, the kind an adult might have kept, written in a well-adjusted, reasonable, well-behaved way. But in adolescence his once suppressed feelings burst forth, resulting in works that would deeply move other young people of later generations. And then at age forty, when he could no longer bear his loneliness and, since he was not able to see that the roots of his life history went back to his childhood, he lost his mind and everything became "clear": historians locate the cause of his tragic ending in a venereal disease he supposedly contracted as an adolescent. The outcome is in keeping with our moral standards: the just, though delayed, punishment, in the form of a fatal disease, for having visited a prostitute. This is similar to the present attitude toward AIDS. Everything seems to turn out for the best, and hypocritical morality is restored. But what those who raised and taught Nietzsche actually did to the boy did not happen so long ago that we can no longer find out about it. Young graduate students can uncover the story, read the letters from his sister and others, write dissertations about their findings, and reconstruct the situation that gave rise to his later works, such as Beyond Good and Evil, The Antichrist, and Thus Spoke Zarathustra. But this can be done only by students who were not mistreated as children or who have worked through their mistreatment and therefore have open ears and eyes for the suffering of battered children. Their research is not likely to be greeted with enthusiasm by their professors. If they can persevere in their research nonetheless, they will produce evidence that the crimes committed against children have serious effects on all humanity. They will also be able to illustrate the unexpected ways in which these effects occur.

In my search for the facts about Nietzsche's early childhood I learned the following:
Both parents were the children of Protestant ministers and numbered several theologians among their forebears. Nietzsche's father was the youngest child from his own father's second marriage; when, at age thirty, he married a seventeen-year-old woman, he also took in both of his older, unmarried sisters and, later, his mother. Friedrich was born a year after the marriage, in 1844. When Friedrich was two, his sister was born and soon after that a brother, who died at the age of two shortly after the death of the father. According to reports, the father was a warmhearted and feeling person who from the first loved his son very much and frequently had him by his side when he improvised at the piano. This important experience and the warmth the father may have shown his son probably played a role in enabling the boy to experience strong feelings in spite of his rigorous upbringing. Despite his affection, however, the father strictly forbade certain feelings and severely punished his son for expressing them. There are reports of temper tantrums, which stern measures soon put to an end.

His father, when he had time, liked to spend it with his oldest child, once the boy had learned to talk a little. It didn't disturb him either when Friedrich came into the father's study and watched him "quietly and thoughtfully," as the mother writes, while he was working. But the child was completely spellbound when his father sat at the piano and "improvised." Already at the age of one, little Fritz, as everyone called him, would then sit up in his carriage, listen, quiet as a mouse, and not take his eyes off his father. Otherwise, however, he was not always a well-behaved child in those first years. If he didn't get his way, he threw himself to the floor and furiously kicked his little legs in the air. His father must have taken very energetic measures against this behavior, yet for a long time the boy was still stubborn and recalcitrant when he was denied something he wanted, although he no longer rebelled but withdrew silently into a quiet corner or to the privy, where he vented his anger by himself.

Whatever a biographer may mean by "venting" here, the feelings that had to be eliminated in the privy are unmistakably present in the philosopher's later writings.
We mustn't forget that a grandmother and two young aunts also lived with the family. In addition to their charitable activities and their help with the household, they were mainly concerned with the upbringing of the firstborn child. When Friedrich was scarcely four, his father died after eleven months of suffering from a serious illness, probably the result of a brain tumor, which his son later referred to as "softening of the brain." The family perpetuated the story that the father's illness was caused by an accident, a version of events that somewhat lessened the shame that a brain disease may have caused them. The actual medical diagnosis is not completely clear to this day.

It is difficult for us as adults to imagine how a child of four feels when his beloved father, his closest attachment figure (which his mother at that time was not), suddenly becomes ill with a brain disease. At the very least Nietzsche must have been highly perplexed. His father's previously more or less predictable reactions were so no longer; the great, admired, and clever man had suddenly become "stupid." His family was perhaps embarrassed at the answers he gave to questions. Possibly the boy too was scornful, but he had to suppress his scorn because he loved his father. We can assume that this same father, who disappeared so soon as his son's companion, was proud of the child's intelligence. But as the father's illness progressed, the boy could no longer tell him things or ask him questions, no longer use him as a point of orientation or count on his response. Yet despite his condition, the father was still present.

Soon after the death of his father, Nietzsche's little brother died too, and now Friedrich was left as the only male in a household of women—his grandmother, two aunts, mother, and younger sister. This might have turned out well for him if one of these women had treated him with tenderness, warmth, and genuine concern. But they all tried to outdo one another in teaching him self-control and other Christian virtues. The originality of his imagination and the honesty of his questions were too much for their sense of morality, and so they attempted to silence the child's curiosity, which made them uncomfortable, by strict supervision and a stern upbringing.

What else can a child, so completely at the mercy of a regimen like this, do except adapt and suppress his genuine feelings with all his might? That is what Friedrich did, and he soon became a model child and a model pupil. One biographer describes a scene that clearly illustrates how extreme the boy's self-denial was. Caught in heavy rain on his way home from school, Nietzsche did not quicken his pace but continued to walk slowly with head erect. His explanation was that "upon leaving school one must go home in a calm and mannerly way. That's what the regulations require." We can imagine the training that must have preceded such behavior.

The boy observed the people around him and could not help but be critical; however, he was forced to keep such thoughts to himself and do all he could to suppress them, along with any other impious thoughts. In addition, he constantly heard the Christian virtues of neighborly love and compassion being preached all around him. Yet in his own daily experience no one took pity on him when he was beaten; no one saw that he was suffering. No one came to his aid, even though so many people around him were busy practicing the Christian virtues. What good are these virtues, the little boy must have kept asking himself. Am I not also the "neighbor" who deserves to be loved? But even questions such as these could have provoked more beatings. What choice did he have, then, but to keep his questions to himself and to feel even more alone with them than before because he could not share them with anyone?

But the questions did not go away. Later, much later, after Nietzsche finished his schooling and had nothing to fear from the authorities—in this case his professors—because he had become a professor himself, the questions and repressed feelings broke out of the prison where they had been locked up for twenty years. In the meantime, by finding an ersatz object they gained social legitimacy. Nietzsche did not direct his criticism at the real causes of his rage—his aunts, his grandmother, his mother—but at the values of his chosen field, philology. Still, this took courage, for they were values that had until then been held sacred by all philologists.
But Nietzsche also attacked values that once were dear to him although not respected by those around him —for example, the "truth," symbolized in the person of Socrates. In the same way that a person going through puberty must first reject everything he once loved in order to establish new values for himself, Nietzsche—who never revolted during puberty, who at the age of twelve made agreeable entries in his diary—now at twenty-five set out to attack the culture he had grown up with, to mock it, to make it seem absurd by standing it on its head. He did this not with the methods of a growing adolescent but with the highly developed intellect of a philologist and professor of philosophy.

It is all too understandable that his language became forceful and impressive. It was not empty talk that seized upon trite revolutionary slogans but a combination of original thoughts and intense feelings, rarely found in a philologist, that had a direct impact on the reader.

We are accustomed to thinking of Nietzsche as a representative of late Romanticism and to seeing the influence of Schopenhauer on his work. Which people influence us as adults is no accident, and Nietzsche's description of the euphoria he felt when he opened Schopenhauer's major opus, The World as Will and Idea (18 19), and began reading indicates that he had good reason for discovering in Schopenhauer a world intimately related to his own. If he had been allowed to speak freely in his family as an adolescent, it is possible that he would not have needed Schopenhauer or, above all, the Germanic heroes, Richard Wagner, and the concept of the "blond beast." He would have found his own discriminating words with which to say: "I can't bear the chains that shackle me day after day; my creative powers are in danger of being destroyed. I need all my energies to rescue them and to assert myself in your midst. There is nothing I can confront you with that you would understand. I can't live in this narrow, untruthful world. And yet I can't leave you. I can't get along without you because I'm still a child and am dependent on you. That's why you have so much power although you are essentially weak. It takes heroic courage, superhuman qualities, and superhuman strength to crush this world that is interfering with my life. I don't have that much strength; I am too weak and afraid of hurting you, but I despise the weakness in me and the weakness in you, which forces me to pity you. I despise every form of weakness that interferes with my life. You have surrounded me with restrictions; prisoner that I am of school and home, there is no free space for me except perhaps in music, but that is not enough for me. I must be able to use words. I must be able to shout them out. Your morality and your reason are a prison for me in which I am smothering to death, and this at the beginning of my life when I would have so much to say."

Words such as those got stuck in Nietzsche's throat and brain, and it is no wonder that he suffered continually from severe headaches, sore throats, and rheumatic ailments as a child and especially during his school days. What he was not allowed to say out loud remained active in his body in the form of constant tension. Later he could direct his criticism against abstract concepts such as culture, Christianity, philistinism, and middle-class values without having to worry that someone might die as a result (all well-brought-up children are afraid that their angry words might kill those they love). Compared with this danger, criticism of society in the abstract is harmless for an adult, even if society's representatives are outraged by it. An adult is not facing them like a helpless, guilty child; an adult can use intellectual arguments to defend himself and even to make attacks—methods not usually available to a child and not available to Nietzsche as a child.

And yet Nietzsche's accurate observations concerning Western culture and Christian morality as well as the vehement indignation they aroused in him do not date from the period of his philosophical analysis but from his first years of life. It was then that he perceived the system and suffered under it, simultaneously as slave and devotee; it was then that he was chained to a morality he despised and was tormented by the people whose love he needed. Because of his brilliant intellect, the perceptions he stored up at an early age have helped many people see things they have never seen before. The experiences of one individual, despite their subjectivity, can have universal validity because the family and the child-rearing methods minutely observed at an early age represent society as a whole.

Along with its positive side, however, Nietzsche's manner of "mastering" his fate as a child had a devastating and disastrous effect because he used what had caused him the most trouble—his puzzlement—as a weapon against the world. In the same way that he became thoroughly puzzled—first by his father's terrible illness and later by the unbearable contradiction between the morality preached to him and the actual behavior of the attachment figures in his family and in school—he sometimes puzzles the reader, probably without knowing it. I had this feeling of puzzlement when I recently began reading Nietzsche again after three decades. Thirty years ago 1 would surely have disregarded my puzzlement because my only concern then was to understand his meaning. But now I let myself be guided by the feeling. As a result, I realized that other readers must have felt the same way, even if they did not use the word puzzlement and attributed their feelings to their own lack of education, intelligence, or depth. BIaming ourselves is exactly the reaction we learn as children. If the grown-ups (who are supposed to be more clever than we are) self-assuredly assert things that are inconsistent, contradictory, or absurd, how can children raised in an authoritarian way be expected to know that what they are hearing is not the ultimate wisdom? They will make every effort to accept it as such and will carefully conceal their doubts from themselves. This is the way many people read the writings of the great Nietzsche today. They blame themselves for their puzzlement and show Nietzsche the same reverence he must have shown his ill father as a child.

Although admitting my perplexity helped me recognize these connections, I do not consider my feeling to be simply a personal matter. I found a passage by Richard Blunck—who devoted himself to Nietzsche's life and work for forty years—that indirectly confirms my own impression. Since a large portion of the material Blunck had collected was destroyed in the war, he himself never published the major Nietzsche biography he had planned but left further work on it to Curt-Paul Janz. I found these words by Blunck in the introduction to Janz's first volume:

"Those who come across a book of Nietzsche's for the first time, the way we did forty years ago, immediately sense that more is required to understand it than the intellect, that more is involved here than following someone's thinking from premise to conclusion and from concept to concept in order to arrive at "truth." They will feel that they have wandered instead into an immense field of force that is emitting shock waves of a far deeper nature than can be registered by intellect alone. They will be struck less by the opinions and insights expressed than by the person behind these opinions and insights. Readers will often react defensively to them if they have something to defend, but they will never again be entirely able to escape the man who expressed them. If readers pursue these ideas that confront, sometimes even assault, them in the form of commanding sentences, then they will soon have the feeling that they are in a labyrinth in whose intricate passageways they find not only immeasurable riches but also the threatening visage of a minotaur who demands human sacrifice. They will believe they are encountering the truest of truths, which go to the heart of things, only to have these truths cancel themselves out in the next book and to feel themselves thrust into a new passageway of the labyrinth. Still, if they have an alert mind and not merely a groping intellect, they will never lose the certainty that Nietzsche has brought them closer to life and its secrets than has any other thinker. Despite the contradictory character of his views and positions, a more profound and elevated intellectual force is communicated that is not confined to positions and truths but constantly both ignores and transcends them in the service of an authenticity that knows no law other than itself and the eternal flux of life with all its transformations and creativity. Such authenticity, however, does not consist in collecting knowledge and ordering things in a rational manner, little as it can do without these processes, but is a feature of the ethical personality, of the heart's courage, and the dauntless and indefatigable nature of the mind. It must be lived and suffered if it is to attain that intellectual force which Nietzsche's work demonstrates. And it is because his authenticity—in combination with a great receptivity to all aspects of the European intellectual tradition as well as a critical grasp of this tradition, in combination also with a profound understanding of human nature and a prophetic farsightedness and clarity of vision—is apparent to an extent unequalled in the history of Western thought that Nietzsche's life and work affect us so powerfully. Spurred on by this authenticity, he waged a single-minded, unwearying struggle against an age that was sinking deeper and deeper into hopeless dishonesty, a struggle against his own happiness, against fame, and even against his tender heart. This was an undertaking whose purity and necessity cannot be obscured or cancelled out, no matter how ambiguous or even dreadful its effects."

Because of his own upbringing, the author of these lines, who actually was very close to the truth, got caught in the labyrinth he refers to and was unable to track down its biographical origins; and if he had dared to do so, his life and work in the Third Reich would surely have been jeopardized. For Nietzsche was very much in vogue when Blunck was doing his work in pre—World War II Germany. His glorification of the "barbaric hero" was taken literally and was lived out with all its horrible consequences. But the very way the National Socialists adapted Nietzsche's ideas and formulations for their own purposes shows how dangerous it can be to view the last links in a biographical chain in isolation while remaining uninterested in and blind to the earliest links in the chain.

Today Nietzsche's biographers emphasize again and again a closer connection between his life and thought than biographers of other philosophers do. Yet Nietzsche's biographers rarely refer to his childhood, despite the fact that without understanding this crucial period a life remains an enigma. The two-thousand-page biography by Janz, which appeared in 1978, devotes less than ten pages to Nietzsche's childhood (not counting a genealogical history). Since the importance of childhood for later life is still a very controversial subject, biographers have done little investigation in this area. Nietzsche scholars search in his work for connections to the history of philosophy rather than to his life. His life, his illness, and his tragic ending, to say nothing of his work, have never been examined in the light of his childhood.

And yet today it seems to me a simple matter to recognize that what Nietzsche wrote was his hopeless attempt, which he didn't abandon until his breakdown, to free himself from his prison by expressing his unconscious but present hatred for those who raised and mistreated him. His hatred, and his fear of it, became all the more vehement the less he succeeded in becoming independent of its objects, his mother and sister. It is a known fact that his sister altered many of his letters for publication, that she intrigued untiringly to the detriment of his true interests and did not rest until his relationship with Lou Andreas Salome was destroyed. Both mother and sister needed Friedrich's dependence on them until the very end. Since the perfectly raised child had learned at an early age not to defend himself but to struggle instead against his true feelings, the grown man was unable to find his way to real liberation. His writing kept alive the illusion of liberation because on a symbolic level he actually did take steps in the direction of truth and freedom. He took them in his life as well but only insofar as they did not involve the members of his family. After he became ill, for instance, he had the courage to give up his professorship in Basel to have more freedom to criticize the academic system. He was then free to write what he needed to say instead of having to conform to the demands of the university. But this was still an ersatz solution as long as he was unable to recognize his idealization of his parents, who were responsible for his suffering. For his true feelings (of anger, fear, contempt, helplessness, the wish to be free, destructive rage, and desperate dependence on his persecutors), originating in childhood, gave him no peace and kept demanding new ersatz objects

In several letters to Nietzsche's friends after the philosopher had completely lost his mental faculties, his mother describes the condition of the patient for whom she has sacrificed herself and whom she takes care of like a little child. In one letter she writes that her son uttered terrible screams although he had a cheerful expression on his face. We can't be sure how reliable this information is because mothers frequently interpret a look on a child's face in keeping with their own wishes. But if his mother's observation was correct, then the explanation may be that, in her presence, the very little child was allowed to scream loudly for the first time in his life and that he was enjoying the tolerance he had finally won from her. For we can scarcely conceive of someone screaming without a face racked with pain.

There are women who can be kinder to their children if the children are no longer capable of thinking (that is, of being critical), as the result of mental illness or a brain disease, for example. Although not yet dead, the children are helpless and totally dependent on the mother. If such a woman was brought up to fulfill her duty above all else, she will feel good and noble if she sacrifices herself for her child. If she had to suppress her own criticism as a child, it will make her angry the moment her son or daughter expresses criticism of her. She feels less threatened, on the other hand, by a handicapped child. In addition, her self-sacrifice is respected and admired by society. Thus, it is very likely that Nietzsche's mother—who was only eighteen when he was born and is described as cold, stupid, and disinterested even by sympathetic biographers—actually did sacrifice herself to look after her son in his last years when he no longer recognized his friends and could barely speak.

(The Father: Seduction and Disappointment)

It would take a very careful reading of Nietzsche's letters to relate the individual episodes in his life to his childhood. In addition, the actual facts would have to be sifted from his sister's numerous falsifications. I can imagine that anyone who is not afraid of taking on the task of establishing the connections to his childhood would discover much that is new. One might look into the question, for instance, of whether Nietzsche's relationship with Richard Wagner, who was thirty years his senior, was not a repetition of the repressed tragic experience with his father, who had taken ill so suddenly. This conjecture seems justified by the fact that his initial admiration and enthusiasm for Wagner, beginning about 1868 and nurtured at Wagner's home in Bayreuth, so quickly turned into disappointment, rejection, and radical estrangement. Nietzsche's break with Wagner culminated in 1882 when Wagner wrote Parsifal, which in Nietzsche's eyes "betrayed" the old Germanic values for the sake of highly suspect Christian ones. Not until then did he become fully conscious of weaknesses in Richard Wagner, weaknesses he had previously overlooked in his idealization of the older man.
I have searched in vain in the extensive secondary literature about Nietzsche for information describing how the highly intelligent four-and-a-half-year-old child reacted to his father's fatal brain disease that lasted nearly a year. For lack of any indication in his youth, I turned to his later life and looked for clues there. I believe I found them in Nietzsche's relationship with Richard Wagner. However great the disappointment in Wagner's work may have been for the mature Nietzsche, it would never have provoked such an extreme degree of mockery and contempt (especially since Wagner hadn't done anything to alienate Nietzsche personally and was even very fond of him) if Wagner's personality and music hadn't reminded him of his father and of the misery of his early childhood.

From the mid-1870's, Wagner's entire work and the Bayreuth atmosphere, in which Nietzsche had previously felt at home, struck him as a gigantic lie. The one thing he could not deny was Wagner's dramatic gift, although he did not compliment Wagner with this admission, for he defined the psychology and morality of an actor in the following way: "One is an actor by virtue of being ahead of the rest of mankind in one insight: what is meant to have the effect of truth must not be true. . . . Wagner's music is never true. But it is taken for true; and thus it is in order." Wagner's music, according to Nietzsche, contained the pretense of sacred, noble, great, and good feelings, the hoax of pseudo ideals that have little to do with the authentic feelings of real people, such as Nietzsche found embodied in Bizet's Carmen (1875), with its ambivalence and its "killing for love." He saw Carmen several times with great enthusiasm, experiencing it as a liberation from the lie that had afflicted him not only since his younger years with Wagner in Bayreuth but even since his childhood. And now his attack against the fatherly friend he once admired, Richard Wagner, turned into a total one: he no longer saw anything good in him and hated him with all his heart like a deeply wounded child. His hatred was nourished by despair and grief over having let himself be deceived for so long, for admiring someone for so long whom he now considered contemptible. Why didn't he see through the weakness behind the facade sooner? How could he have been so mistaken?

Nietzsche saw himself as the victim of a seduction that he must now unmask by every means at his command. He found Wagner's admirers naive and could not grasp that they continued to go to Bayreuth, where they allowed themselves to be hypnotized by a lie, after he himself had seen through it. The pain this caused him kept showing through in the aspersions he cast on Wagner: Nietzsche would have liked to save the world from a great deception and bring the Wagnerians to their senses; he would have liked to lead them back to themselves and their own genuine experiences the way Zarathustra did by refusing to have any disciples.

Although Nietzsche's attacks derived their intensity from his repressed rage against his father and other attachment figures from childhood, they did not display any weakness in logic that would reveal their real roots. What he wrote about Wagner and substantiated with examples was so convincing (although probably not for Wagnerians) that it retains its claim to objectivity quite apart from the subjective, highly emotional background of his observations. I believe that Nietzsche's keen powers of observation had their beginnings in his relationship with his father, to whose music the little boy listened with rapt attention, admiration, and enthusiasm. But his father was not only a musician who played the piano but also a pedagogue who approved of certain feelings (such as his son's enthusiasm for his playing) but severely punished the display of others.
Perhaps the boy succeeded in accepting his father's two different sides and in overlooking the punishment as long as he was allowed to be with his father, to listen to his music making and let the music become part of him. But when his father fell ill and the child felt suddenly and completely abandoned by him, overwhelming feelings of disappointment, rage, and shame at being seduced and then forsaken would have had to break through—if the boy had not already learned that it was not permissible to show such feelings and if he had not been subsequently raised exclusively by women ("female Wagnerians") who condemned his feelings and kept them in the strictest rein. These feelings had to lie in wait for decades until they could be experienced toward another musician.

The sharpness and accuracy of Nietzsche's later observations about Wagner not only were unimpaired by his feelings but, on the contrary, seemed to be intensified by them. If it had not been made impossible for him to speak out, Nietzsche the child might have said: "I don't believe your music if you can also beat me and punish me for having genuine feelings. If your music is not a deception, if it really is expressing the truth, then I have every right to expect you to respect the feelings of your child. Otherwise there is something wrong, and the music I have absorbed through every pore is a lie. I want to shout it out to all the world in order to keep others—for example, my little brother and sister—from becoming the victims of your seduction. If your theology, your sermons, your words have been telling the truth, you would have to treat me very differently. You wouldn't be able to watch my suffering uncomprehendingly, for I am 'the neighbor' you're supposed to love. You wouldn't punish me for my tears, wouldn't make me bear my distress all alone without helping me, wouldn't forbid me to speak, if you were an honest and trustworthy man. After all that's been done to me, I think your ideas of goodness, neighborly love, and redemption are empty and false; everything I used to believe is nothing but theatrics; there is nothing real about it. What I experience is real, and what you have said must be able to be measured against my reality. But when the measurement is taken, your words prove to be pure playacting. You enjoy having a child who listens to you and admires you. It satisfies your needs. The others don't notice this and think you really have something to offer them. But I noticed. I guessed your state of neediness, but I wasn't allowed to say anything about it."

The boy wasn't allowed to say this to his father. But as an adult he said it to Richard Wagner. He wrote it in no uncertain terms, and the world took what he wrote seriously. Neither Nietzsche nor "the world," unfortunately, wondered about its source. Thus both missed the important point.

In contrast to the general validity of Nietzsche's censure of the Wagner phenomenon, of middle-class cultural values and Christian moral values, his ideas about "the nature of woman" often seem grotesquely distorted, but only if we are unaware of the actual women who gave rise to them. As a child, Nietzsche was surrounded by women intent on bringing him up correctly, and he had to use all his energies to endure this situation. He paid them back in later years, but only on a symbolic level, by attacking all women—except his mother and sister. The women who actually caused his suffering remained unassailable, at the cost of the loss of objectivity.

Nietzsche's misogyny becomes understandable, of course, if we consider how much distrust must have accumulated in someone who was whipped so frequently as a child. But this doesn't authorize him as an adult to write in his blind and irresponsible rage: "You are going to women? Do not forget the whip!" There is no doubt that Nietzsche was brought up according to the principles of "poisonous pedagogy" described extensively in my previous books. The documents I cite in For Your Own Good illustrate how children must be tricked, deceived, and manipulated to make them pious and good.

That is why Nietzsche was rarely able to show his discontent at his sister's manipulative and insincere behavior toward him, why he didn't allow himself to see her as she really was. If he ever did see the truth, he quickly retracted anything he may have said against her. Although he admitted on one occasion that he could not stand her voice, he immediately added that basically he had never really doubted her goodwill, her intentions, her love for him, or her trustworthiness. How could he, since he had only one sister and wanted to believe absolutely that she loved him and that her love was more than exploitation and a need to win recognition at any price. If he had been able to see the way the women in his childhood really were, then it would not have been necessary for him to generalize by making all women into witches and serpents and to hate them all.
(The Blond Beast)

It is not my intention here to explain Nietzsche's life in terms of his childhood but rather to understand the function of his philosophy in his struggle against the pain stemming from his childhood. His formative experience consisted in contempt for the weak and obedience toward those wielding power. This seemingly innocuous combination, familiar to so many of us from childhood, is the nucleus of every fascist ideology. As a result of having been treated brutally in childhood, fascists of whatever stamp will blindly accept their leader and treat those weaker than themselves brutally. The fact that this behavior can be accompanied by a longing for the release of creative powers that the methods of "poisonous pedagogy" suppress in every child is to be seen very plainly in Nietzsche and others and also in certain statements by C. G. Jung. The human being's need to live and to be allowed to develop freely is coupled with the former persecutor's introjected voice. Just as the child's cries were once smothered by the principles of "poisonous pedagogy," so too the call to life is smothered by the brutality of fascism. The introjected system allies itself with the child's own wishes and leads to destructive ideologies that can have a fascination for anyone who experienced a cruel upbringing.

Thus, it is not Nietzsche's writings that are dangerous but the child-rearing system of which he and his readers were the product. The Nazis were able to transform what seemed to be his life-affirming philosophy into a death-affirming ideology because it was never in its essence separate from death.
It is not by chance that Thus Spake Zarathustra became Nietzsche's most famous work, for his puzzled readers at least found in Zarathustra's way of speaking a frame of reference familiar to them since childhood: the rhetorical style of the preacher. How familiar, too, although clothed in novel words, was the struggle for life in the face of the deadening requirement to be obedient. Again and again Nietzsche circles around this dichotomy.

"I pursued the living; I walked the widest and the narrowest paths that I might know its nature. With a hundredfold mirror I still caught its glance when its mouth was closed, so that its eyes might speak to me.

And its eyes spoke to me.

But wherever I found the living, there I heard also the speech on obedience. Whatever lives, obeys."
And this is the second point: he who cannot obey himself is commanded. That is the nature of the living.
This, however, is the third point that I heard: that commanding is harder than obeying; and not only because he who commands must carry the burden of all who obey, and because this burden may easily crush him. An experiment and hazard appeared to me to be in all commanding; and whenever the living commands, it hazards itself. Indeed, even when it commands itself, it must still pay for its commanding. It must become the judge, the avenger, and the victim of its own law. How does this happen? I asked myself. What persuades the living to obey and command, and to practice obedience even when it commands? . . .
And life itself confided this secret to me: "Behold," it said, "I am that which must always overcome itself. Indeed, you call it a will to procreate or a drive to an end, to something higher, farther, more manifold: but all this is one, and one secret.

"Rather would I perish than forswear this; and verily, where there is perishing and a falling of leaves, behold, there life sacrifices itself—for power. That I must be struggle and a becoming and an end and an opposition to ends —alas, whoever guesses what is my will should also guess on what crooked paths it must proceed.

"Whatever I create and however much I love it—soon I must oppose it and my love; thus my will wills it. And you too, lover of knowledge, are only a path and footprint of my will; verily, my will to power walks also on the heels of your will to truth.

"Indeed, the truth was not hit by him who shot at it with the word of the 'will to existence': that will does not exist. For, what does not exist cannot will; but what is in existence, how could that still want existence? Only where there is life is there also will: not will to life but—thus I teach you—will to power.

"There is much that life esteems more highly than life itself; but out of the esteeming itself speaks the will to power."

Thus life once taught me; and with this I shall yet solve the riddle of your heart, you who are wisest.
Verily, I say unto you: good and evil that are not transitory, do not exist. Driven on by themselves, they must overcome themselves again and again. With your values and words of good and evil you do violence when you value; and this is your hidden love and the splendor and trembling and overflowing of your soul. But a more violent force and a new overcoming grow out of your values and break egg and eggshell.

And whoever must be a creator in good and evil, verily, he must first be an annihilator and break values. Thus the highest evil belongs to the highest goodness: but this is creative.

Let us speak of this, you who are wisest, even if it be bad. Silence is worse; all truths that are kept silent become poisonous. [Italics mine]

And may everything be broken that cannot brook our truths! There are yet many houses to be built!
Thus spoke Zarathustra.

How wicked and hard a child must feel who remains true to himself and does not betray what he perceives and sees. How difficult and at the same time how essential it is to be able to say no.

With the storm that is called "spirit" I blew over your wavy sea; I blew all clouds away; I even strangled the strangler that is called "sin."

my soul, I gave you the right to say No like the storm, and to say Yes as the clear sky says Yes: now you are still as light whether you stand or walk through storms of negation. [Italics mine]

my soul, I gave you back the freedom over the created and uncreated; and who knows, as you know, the voluptuous delight of what is yet to come?

my soul, I taught you the contempt that does not come like the worm's gnawing, the great, the loving contempt that loves most where it despises most. [Italics mine]

my soul, I taught you to persuade so well that you persuade the very ground—like the sun who persuades even the sea to his own height.

O my soul, I took from you all obeying, knee-bending, and "Lord"-saying; I myself gave you the name "cessation of need" and "destiny."

But the life the child seeks is fraught with danger, the loveliest fantasies dimmed by early experiences and threats.

My heels twitched, then my toes hearkened to understand you, and rose: for the dancer has his ear in his toes.

I leaped toward you, but you fled back from my leap, and the tongue of your fleeing, flying hair licked me in its sweep.

Away from you I leaped, and from your serpents' ire; and already you stood there, half turned, your eyes full of desire.

With crooked glances you teach me—crooked ways; on crooked ways my foot learns treachery. [Italics mine]
I fear you near, I love you far; your flight lures me, your seeking cures me: I suffer, but what would I not gladly suffer for you?

You, whose coldness fires, whose hatred seduces, whose flight binds, whose scorn inspires:
Who would not hate you, you great binder, entwiner, temptress, seeker, and finder? Who would not love you, you innocent, impatient, wind-swift, child-eyed sinner? [Italics mine]

Whereto are you luring me now, you never-tame extreme? And now you are fleeing from me again, you sweet wildcat and ingrate!

I dance after you, I follow wherever your traces linger. Where are you? Give me your hand! Or only one finger!
Here are caves and thickets; we shall get lost. Stop! Stand still! Don't you see owls and bats whirring past?
You owl! You bat! Intent to confound! Where are we? Such howling and yelping you have learned from a hound.

Your lovely little white teeth are gnashing at me; out of a curly little mane your evil eyes are flashing at me.

That is a dance up high and down low: I am the hunter; would you be my dog or my doe?

Alongside me now! And swift, you malicious leaping belle! Now up and over there! Alas, as I leaped I fell.

Oh, see me lying there, you prankster, suing for grace. I should like to walk with you in a lovelier place.

Love's paths through silent bushes, past many-hued plants. Or there along that lake: there goldfish swim and dance.

You are weary now? Over there are sunsets and sheep: when shepherds play on their flutes—is it not lovely to sleep?

You are so terribly weary? I'll carry you there; just let your arms sink. And if you are thirsty—I have got something, but your mouth does not want it to drink.

Oh, this damned nimble, supple snake and slippery witch! Where are you? In my face two red blotches from your hand itch.

I am verily weary of always being your sheepish shepherd. You witch, if I have so far sung to you, now you shall cry.

Keeping time with my whip, you shall dance and cry! Or have I forgotten the whip? Not I!

It is permissible to hate and whip the serpent and the witch but not the mother, grandmother, or aunts. In any case, feelings of anger, outrage, and mistrust are unmistakably present here. They may also be directed at "the mob," which has the same symbolic function as the serpent and the witch.

Is this today not the mob's? But the mob does not know what is great, what is small, what is straight and honest: it is innocently crooked, it always lies.

Have a good mistrust today, you higher men, you stouthearted ones, you openhearted ones! And keep your reasons secret! For this today is the mob's.

What the mob once learned to believe without reasons—who could overthrow that with reasons?

And in the market place one convinces with gestures.

But reasons make the mob mistrustful.

And if truth was victorious for once, then ask yourself with good mistrust: "What strong error fought for it?"

Over and over again Nietzsche attempts to find his way out of the mists of confusing moral principles and attain clarity. But his speculating continually obfuscates the truth.

Do not let yourselves be gulled and beguiled! Who, after all, is your neighbor? And even if you act "for the neighbor"—you still do not create for him.

Unlearn this "for," you creators! Your very virtue wants that you do nothing "for" and "in order" and "because."

You shall plug up your ears against these false little words. "For the neighbor" is only the virtue of the little people: there one says "birds of a feather" and "one hand washes the other." They have neither the right nor the strength for your egoism. In your egoism, you creators, is the caution and providence of the pregnant.

What no one has yet laid eyes on, the fruit: that your whole love shelters and saves and nourishes. Where your whole love is, with your child, there is also your whole virtue. Your work, your will, that is your "neighbor": do not let yourselves be gulled with false values!

The call to war has essentially only one symbolic meaning for Nietzsche: it represents nothing other than declaring battle against the deadly coercion, lies, and cowardice that constricted his life so painfully as a child. But Nietzsche doesn't say it clearly enough, he doesn't reveal the source. That is why he opens the doors to a harmful use of his words.

A free life is still free for great souls. Verily, whoever possesses little is possessed that much less: praised be a little poverty! [Italics mine]

Only where the state ends, there begins the human being who is not superfluous: there begins the song of necessity, the unique and inimitable tune.

Where the state ends—look there, my brothers! Do you not see it, the rainbow and the bridges of the overman? Thus spoke Zarathustra.

And the man who was dependent all his life on his mother and sister writes: "If you would go high, use your own legs. Do not let yourselves be carried up; do not sit on the backs and heads of others." In his own mind, Nietzsche was not sitting on the backs of others, but in his life he allowed the person closest to him to sit on his back to the very end.

On January 14, 1880, he wrote to Malwida von Meysenbug: "For the terrible and almost unceasing martyrdom of my life makes me thirst for the end, and judging by several indications, the stroke that shall deliver me is near enough at hand to allow me to hope." And in 1887 he said these significant words to Paul Deussen: "I don't believe I'm going to last much longer. I'm now near the age when my father died, and I feel I'm going to succumb to the same affliction he had."

The medical diagnosis of the disease that befell Nietzsche at the age of forty-five was "progressive paralysis," and his biographers seem reassured when they "determine" that this later illness "had nothing at all to do" with the illnesses of his school days. And the la attacks in one year (1879) were apparently sheer "coincidence," for in the opinion of many of his biographers, Nietzche was perfectly healthy until the appearance of his progressive paralysis.

Sometimes Nietzsche's words convey something that might be construed as delusions of grandeur and that the reader might easily find offensive. One author has referred to this as Nietzsche's "God complex," and there are pas-sages in Ecce Homo (1888) and in the letters that actually point to such a complex. How are we to understand this "arrogance" on the part of a thinker as critical and self-critical as Nietzsche? Those who have read the diaries he kept from age twelve to fourteen will scarcely believe that those pages were written by the same person whose later writing they already know—not because the diaries are so childish but because they are so adult. In great part, they could have been written by his aunts, his grandmother, or his father—and in the same style. The writing is colorless and unassuming, as was expected of him. The feelings expressed strike one as inauthentic, weak, sometimes theatrical, but for the most part false. We sense that what the writer really feels must remain completely beneath the surface without being revealed by a sentence or even a single word.

But this boy, who at twelve wrote like an adult, was also capable of other things. What could he do with his sense of pride, with the certitude that he understood more than those around him? If Nietzsche had expressed his pride at that time, he would have been sinning against an important Christian virtue, humility. He certainly would have met with disapproval and indignation. The boy therefore was forced to suppress his healthy and understandable feeling of joy at what he knew as well as his grief at being alone with his knowledge; not until much later—in Ecce Homo, for instance—was he able to express these feelings. But then he did it in a way that people could not tolerate, putting himself in the position of a "sinner," of someone who violates society's norms—the norm of modesty, for one. He was sure to reap the moral indignation of his contemporaries and of posterity, an outcome he accepted gladly, presumably even enjoyed, because he felt liberated by his daring. A different kind of liberation, such as having insights that could be shared with others, was unknown to him. This man who was condemned to be alone with his insights never learned that someone can speak the truth without punishing himself for it and without giving others grounds for dismissing what he says by applying the label "delusions of grandeur."

But what strikes us as delusions of grandeur in Nietzsche presumably has other roots than simply an inner compulsion to provoke others. Nietzsche was the firstborn child, and even after the birth of his sister he could not count on anyone sharing his experiences and perceptions with him, especially those connected with the change brought about in his father by illness. He therefore found himself alone with his discoveries and was deprived of the reassurance that it would be safe to share them with those close to him. If he had had older siblings, perhaps his perceptions would not have had such disastrous consequences for him. Perhaps he could at least have counted on an occasional understanding glance from an older brother or sister. As it was, however, he was always alone with his awareness, which in his case meant abandoned with his awareness, a situation that does not necessarily evoke feelings of pride but can also cause pain.

The many passages in which Nietzsche characterizes Christianity are a key to how he felt about his relatives. We need only substitute "my aunts" or "my family" for the word "Christianity" for his vehement attacks suddenly to make sense.

In Christianity the instincts of the subjugated and oppressed come to the fore: here the lowest classes seek their salvation. The casuistry of sin, self-criticism, the inquisition of the conscience, are pursued as a pastime, as a remedy for boredom; the emotional reaction to one who has power, called "God," is constantly sustained (by means of prayer); and what is highest is considered unattainable, a gift, "grace." Public acts are precluded; the hiding-place, the darkened room, is Christian. The body is despised, hygiene repudiated as sensuality; the church even opposes cleanliness (the first Christian measure after the expulsion of the Moors was the closing of the public baths, of which there were two hundred and seventy in Cordova alone). Christian too is a certain sense of cruelty against oneself and against others; hatred of all who think differently; the will to persecute. Gloomy and exciting conceptions predominate; the most highly desired states, designated with the highest names, are epileptoid; the diet is so chosen as to favor morbid phenomena and overstimulate the nerves. Christian too is mortal enmity against the lords of the earth, against the "noble"—along with a sly, secret rivalry (one leaves them the "body," one wants only the "soul"). Christian, finally, is the hatred of the spirit, of pride, courage, freedom, liberty of the spirit; Christian is the hatred of the senses, of joy in the senses, of joy itself.

It is not difficult to imagine how much Nietzsche suffered as a child because of his family's beliefs and assertions, because of their rejection of his bodily needs and his physical self, and because of their constant moral dictates, such as repentance, piety, neighborly love, chastity, loyalty, purity, and devotion. He regarded them—and rightly so—as empty concepts conflicting with everything that meant life for him, as for every child, and standing for "hatred of the natural (of reality!)." Nietzsche saw the Christian world as a fictitious one, as "the expression of a profound vexation at the sight of reality". But this explains everything. Who alone has good reason to lie his way out of reality? He who suffers from it. But to suffer from reality is to be a piece of reality that has come to grief."

Couldn't these words also be the child's speculations about his do-good maiden aunts, whose main concern in raising the boy was to destroy the vitality in him that had also been destroyed in them? If we see the principles of his own upbringing behind his description of Christianity's hypocritical morality, then we can easily recognize in the self-proclaimed representative of the "noble lords of the earth" the child who is still rooted in his feelings and is therefore strong, vital, and sincere but also in danger of having to sacrifice his vitality to pedagogical principles. When we read The Antichrist with this key in mind, passages that were previously perplexing now gain a clear meaning.

If, for example, it makes men happy to believe that they have been redeemed from sin, it is not necessary, as a condition for this, that man is, in fact, sinful, but merely that he feels sinful. And if faith is quite generally needed above all, then reason, knowledge, and inquiry must be discredited: the way to truth becomes the forbidden way.

Strong hope is a far more powerful stimulant of life than any single realization of happiness could ever be. Those who suffer must be sustained by a hope that can never be contradicted by any reality or be disposed of by any fulfillment—a hope for the beyond.

So that it could say No to everything on earth that represents the ascending tendency of life, to that which has turned out well, to power, to beauty, to self-affirmation, the instinct of ressentiment, which had here become genius, had to invent another world from whose point of view this affirmation of life appeared as evil, as the reprehensible as such.

Psychologically considered, "sins" become indispensable in any society organized by priests: they are the real handles of power. The priest lives on sins, it is essential for him that people "sin." Supreme principle: "God forgives those who repent"—in plain language: those who submit to the priest.

The tone becomes different when Nietzsche speaks about the man Jesus.

To repeat, I am against any attempt to introduce the fanatic into the Redeemer type: the word imperieux, which Renan uses, is alone enough to annul the type. The "glad tidings" are precisely that there are no longer any opposites; the kingdom of heaven belongs to the children; the faith which finds expression here is not a faith attained through struggle—it is there, it has been there from the beginning; it is, as it were, an infantilism that has receded into the spiritual. The case of puberty being retarded and not developing in the organism, as a consequence of degeneration, is well known, at least to physiologists. Such a faith is not angry, does not reproach, does not resist: it does not bring "the sword"—it simply does not foresee how it might one day separate. It does not prove itself either by miracle or by reward and promise, least of all "by scripture": at every moment it is its own miracle, its own reward, its own proof, its own "kingdom of God." Nor does this faith formulate itself: it lives, it resists all formulas.

His affirmation of the Redeemer does not, however, prevent him from expressing his disgust for the church and its priests.

The concepts "beyond," "Last Judgment," "immortality of the soul," and "soul" itself are instruments of torture, systems of cruelties by virtue of which the priest became master, remained master.
Everybody knows this, and yet everything continues as before.

From the beginning, he says, the priests used Jesus to attain power for themselves.
In Paul the priest wanted power once again—he could use only concepts, doctrines, symbols with which one tyrannizes masses and forms herds. What was the one thing that Mohammed later borrowed from Christianity? Paul's invention, his means to priestly tyranny, to herd formation: the faith in immortality—that is, the doctrine of the "judgment."

The great lie of personal immortality destroys all reason, everything natural in the instincts—whatever in the instincts is beneficent and life-promoting or guarantees a future now arouses mistrust. To live so, that there is not longer any sense in living, that now becomes the "sense" of life. . . . that little prigs and three-quarter-madmen may have the conceit that the laws of nature are constantly broken for their sakes—such an intensification of every kind of selfishness into the infinite, into the impertinent, cannot be branded with too much contempt. And yet Christianity owes its triumph to this miserable flattery of personal vanity.
The priest knows only one great danger: that is science, the sound conception of cause and effect. . . . Man shall not look outside, he shall look into himself; he shall not look into things cleverly and cautiously, like a learner, he shall not look at all—he shall suffer. And he shall suffer in such a way that he has need of the priest at all times. . . . A priestly attempt!

When the natural consequences of a deed are no longer "natural," but thought of an caused by the conceptual specters of superstition, by "God," by "spirits," by "souls," as if they were merely "moral" consequences, as reward, punishment, hint, means of education, then the presupposition of knowledge has been destroyed—
I have selected these quotations with various perspectives in mind. In addition to expressing clearly the adult Nietzsche's feelings about Christianity, they also convey to alert readers his unconscious feelings, repressed since childhood, toward his first attachment figures. These passages reveal as well the child-raising methods and principles Nietzsche must have been exposed to as a child without being able to call them by name: above all, contempt for everything vital, sensual, and creative; the struggle to replace the child's feeling of well-being with guilt feelings and repentance; the suppression of his ability to think for himself, of his critical capacities, of his need to understand connections (the intellectual disciplines), and of his need for freedom and spontaneity. Not only obedience and submissiveness were preached to him but also the so-called love of truth, which was pure hypocrisy, for the boy who was forbidden to say anything critical was also forced to lie repeatedly. It is this perversion of values that continually aroused Nietzsche's ire and that he tried to make tangible by his paradoxical formulations in the hope that he would no longer have to be alone with his anger.

(Vitality Is Evil)

Nietzsche considered himself the advocate of evil in only one specific connection: where evil is seen as the opposite of what people call good. He writes:

When the herd animal is irradiated by the glory of the purest virtue, the exceptional man must have been devaluated into evil. When mendaciousness at any price monopolizes the word "truth" for its perspective, the really truthful man is bound to be branded with the worst names.

And a few lines earlier he quotes Zarathustra:

"False coasts and assurances the good have taught you; in the lies of the good you were hatched and huddled. Everything has been made fraudulent and has been twisted through and through by the good."

"The good are unable to create; they are always the beginning of the end; they crucify him who writes new values on new tablets; they sacrifice the future to themselves—they sacrifice all man's future."

"The good have always been the beginning of the end."

"And whatever harm those do who slander the world, the harm done by the good is the most harmful harm."
That these observations derive from Nietzsche's childhood experiences is corroborated by the following passage:

The condition of the existence of the good is the lie: put differently, not wanting to see at any price how reality is constituted fundamentally—namely, not in such a way as to elicit benevolent instincts at all times, and even less in such a way as to tolerate at all times the interference of those who are myopically good-natured.

This awareness leads to boundless loneliness, which was the fate of this man from the beginning. The more he came to understand his environment, the more isolated he felt because he couldn't communicate his insights and experiences to anyone. After he finally attempted to communicate them in Thus Spake Zarathustra, only to find that his hopes of being understood and of finding acceptance for his ideas had been in vain, he wrote these words in Ecce Homo:

Except for these ten-day works, the years during and above all after my Zarathustra were marked by distress without equal. One pays dearly for immortality: one has to die several times while still alive.

There is something I call the rancune of what is great: everything great—a work, a deed—is no sooner accomplished than it turns against the man who did it. By doing it, he has become weak; he no longer endures his deed, he can no longer face it. Something one was never permitted to will lies behind one, something in which the knot in the destiny of humanity is tied—and now one labors under it!— It almost crushes one.— The rancune of what is great.

Then there is the gruesome silence one hears all around one. Solitude has seven skins; nothing penetrates them any more. One comes to men, one greets friends—more desolation, no eye offers a greeting. At best, a kind of revolt. Such revolts I experienced, very different in degree but from almost everybody who was close to me. It seems nothing offends more deeply than suddenly letting others feel a distance; those nobel natures who do not know how to live without reverence are rare.

Thirdly, there is the absurd sensitivity of the skin to small stings, a kind of helplessness against everything small. This seems to me to be due to the tremendous squandering of all defensive energies which is a presupposition of every creative deed, every deed that issues from one's most authentic, inmost, nethermost regions. Our small defensive capacitites are thus, as it were, suspended; no energy is left for them.
I still dare to hint that one digests less well, does not like to move, is all too susceptible to feeling chills as well as mistrust—mistrust that is in many instances merely an etiological blunder. In such a state I once sensed the proximity of a herd of cows even before I saw it, merely because milder and more philanthropic thoughts came back to me: they had warmth.

Nietzsche's loneliness was caused by his inner plight, for only the very few were receptive to what he said, and perhaps he wasn't aware of even these few. Thus, he would rather be alone than together with people who did not understand him. In his solitude, he had new ideas and made new discoveries; since they were based on his most personal experiences, but at the same time concealed them, they were difficult to share with others, and they only deepened his loneliness and the gulf between him and those around him. It was a process that had already begun in childhood, a childhood consisting of his continually being the giver. The boy's raison d'être was to understand others, to be patient with them, to overlook their failings, and to validate their self-esteem but never to appease his own hunger to be understood. In "Night Song," Nietzsche describes the tragedy of his attempt to find a solution, the tragedy of the person who gives and who thirsts:
Light am I; ah, that I were night! But this is my loneliness that I am girt with light. Ah, that I were dark and nocturnal! How I could suck at the breasts of light! And even you would I bless, you little sparkling stars and glowworms up there, and be overjoyed with your gifts of light.

But I live in my own light; I drink back into myself the flames that break out of me. I do not know the happiness of those who receive; and I have often dreamed that even stealing must be more blessed than receiving. This is my poverty, that my hand never rests from giving; this is my envy, that I see waiting eyes and the lit-up nights of longing. Oh, wretchedness of all givers! Oh, darkening of my sun! Oh, craving to crave! Oh, ravenous hunger in satiation!

They receive from me, but do I touch their souls? There is a cleft between giving and receiving; and the narrowest cleft is the last' to be bridged. A hunger grows out of my beauty: I should like to hurt those for whom I shine; I should like to rob those to whom I give; thus do I hunger for malice. To withdraw my hand when the other hand already reaches out to it; to linger like the waterfall, which lingers even while it plunges: thus do I hunger for malice. Such revenge my fullness plots: such spite wells up out of my loneliness. My happiness in giving died in giving; my virtue tired of itself in its overflow.

This text speaks of the envy directed at those who are able to take, who received love as a child, who can feel secure in a group, who are not condemned to open up new worlds in their loneliness, bestowing those worlds on others and reaping hostility in return. But fate cannot be changed.
Those who do not want to live without the truth must also endure the cold regions of loneliness. Nietzsche writes:

How much truth does a spirit endure, how much truth does it dare? More and more that became for me the real measure of value. Error (faith in the ideal) is not blindness, error is cowardice.

Every attainment, every step forward in knowledge, what degenerates; he is worlds removed from pity for it.

But the priest desires precisely the degeneration of the whole, of humanity: for that reason, he conserves what degenerates—at this price he rules.

When seriousness is deflected from the self-preservation and the enhancement of the strength of the body—that is, of life—when anemia is construed as an ideal, and contempt for the body as "salvation of the soul"—what else is this if not a recipe for decadence?

The loss of the center of gravity, resistance to the natural instincts—in one word, "selflessness"—that is what was hitherto called morality.— With the Dawn I first took up the fight against the morality that would unself man.

Nietzsche was of the opinion that the Renaissance was Western civilization's great opportunity to free itself from Christianity's life-denying moral system and that this opportunity was lost because of Luther.
Luther, this calamity of a monk, restored the church and, what is a thousand times worse, Christianity, at the very moment when it was vanquished.—Christianity, this denial of the will to life become religion!—Luther, an impossible monk who, on account of his own "impossibility," attacked the church and—consequently—restored it.—The Catholics would have good reason to celebrate Luther festivals, to write Luther plays.— Luther—and the "moral rebirth"!

The morality that would un-self man is the morality of decline par excellence—the fact, "I am declining," transposed into the imperative, "all of you ought to decline"—and not only into the imperative.— This only morality that has been taught so far, that of un-selfing, reveals a will to the end; fundamentally, it negates life.

This would still leave open the possibility that not humanity is degenerating but only that parasitical type of man—that of the priest—which has used morality to raise itself mendaciously to the position of determining human values—finding in Christian morality the means to come to power.— Indeed, this is my insight: the teachers, the leaders of humanity, theologians all of them, were also, all of them, decadents: hence the revaluation of all values into hostility to life, hence morality—

Definition of morality: Morality—the idiosyncrasy of decadents, with the ulterior motive of revenging oneself against life—successfully. I attach value to this definition.

Have I been understood?— I have not said one word here that I did not say five years ago through the mouth of Zarathustra.

The uncovering of Christian morality is an event without parallel, a real catastrophe. He that is enlightened about that, is a force majeure, a destiny—he breaks the history of mankind in two. One lives before him, or one lives after him.

The lightning bolt of truth struck precisely what was highest so far: let whoever comprehends what has here been destroyed see whether anything is left in his hands. Everything that has hitherto been called "truth" has been recognized as the most harmful, insidious, and subterranean form of lie; the holy pretext of "improving" mankind, as the ruse for sucking the blood of life itself. Morality as vampirism.

Whoever uncovers morality also uncovers the disvalue of all values that are and have been believed; he no longer see anything venerable in the most venerated types of man, even in those pronounced holy; he considers them the most calamitous type of abortion—calamitous because they exerted such fascination.
The concept of "God" invented as a counterconcept of life—everything harmful, poisonous, slanderous, the whole hostility unto death against life synthesized in this concept in a gruesome unity! The concept of the "beyond," the "true world" invented in order to devaluate the only world there is—in order to retain no goal, no reason, no task for our earthly reality! The concept of the "soul," the "spirit," finally even "immortal soul," invented in order to despise the body, to make it sick, "holy"; to oppose with a ghastly levity everything that deserves to be taken seriously in life, the questions of nourishment, abode, spiritual diet, treatment of the sick, cleanliness, and weather.

In place of health, the "salvation of the soul"—that is, a folie circulaire between penitential convulsions and hysteria about redemption. The concept of "sin" invented along with the torture instrument that belongs with it, the concept of "free will," in order to confuse the instincts, to make mistrust of the instincts second nature. In the concept of the "selfless," the "self-denier," the distinctive sign of decadence, feeling attracted by what is harmful, being unable to find any longer what profits one, self-destruction is turned into the sign of value itself, into "duty," into "holiness," into what is "divine" in man. Finally—this is what is most terrible of all—the concept of the good man signifies that one sides with all that is weak, sick, failure, suffering of itself—all that ought to perish: the principle of selection is crossed—an ideal is fabricated from the contradiction against the proud and well-turned-out human being who says Yes, who is sure of the future, who guarantees the future—and he is now called evil.— And all this was believed, as morality!— Ecrasez

If we didn't already know that Nietzsche's forebears on both sides were theologians for several generations back, the following words would at least indicate that Nietzsche's outburst is not simply a philosopher's mental gymnastics but the bitter earnest produced by vivid, first-hand experiences. It is necessary to say whom we consider our antithesis: it is the theologians and whatever has theologians' blood in its veins—and that includes our whole philosophy. Whoever has seen this catastrophe at close range or, better yet, been subjected to it and almost perished of it, will no longer consider it a joking matter. Not until he was an adult did Nietzsche read the books by the theologians. But his hatred of "the lie" has deeper roots and is connected with his hatred of the women who passed his theological heritage on to him as a child.

May I here venture the surmise that I know women? That is part of my Dionysian dowry. Who knows? Perhaps I am the first psychologist of the eternally feminine. They all love me—an old story—not counting abortive females, the "emancipated" who lack the stuff for children. Fortunately, I am not willing to be torn to pieces: the perfect woman tears to pieces when she loves. I know these charming maenads.— Ah, what a dangerous, creeping, subterranean little beast of prey she is! And yet so agreeable!— A little woman who pursues her revenge would run over fate itself.—Woman is indescribably more evil than man; also cleverer: good nature is in a woman a form of degeneration.— In all so-called "beautiful souls" something is physiologically askew at bottom; I do not say everything, else I should become medi-cynical. The fight for equal rights is actually a symptom of a disease: every physician knows that.—Woman, the more she is a woman, resists rights in general hand and foot: after all, the state of nature, the eternal war between the sexes, gives her by far the first rank.

But the furious child doesn't stop with women; he also attacks their idol. For everything they did to him happened in the name of God.

The Christian conception of God—God as god of the sick, God as a spider, God as spirit—is one of the most corrupt conceptions of the divine ever attained on earth. It may even represent the low-water mark in the descending development of divine types. God degenerated into the contradiction of life, instead of being its transfiguration and eternal Yes! God as the declaration of war against life, against nature, against the will to live! God—the formula for every slander against "this world," for every lie about the "beyond"! God—the deification of nothingness, the will to nothingness pronounced holy!

Nietzsche was not permitted to vent his feelings—of rage, indignation, vindictiveness, mockery, and contempt, which were caused by concrete, tragic experiences—on those who made him suffer. In his intellectual prison he could attack only ideas or people in the abstract, such as, for example, "women."
Although it is not difficult for us to recognize which experiences incited his anger, Nietzsche himself was not conscious of its source. Thus, he is able to say: "When I wage war against Christianity I am entitled to this because I have never experienced misfortunes and frustrations from that quarter—the most serious Christians have always been well disposed toward me. I myself, an opponent of Christianity de rigueur, am far from blaming individuals for the calamity of millennia."

It is tragic that Nietzsche was unable to blame specific individuals for what he observed "in general." For the living roots of his insights, contrary to all appearances, remained concealed from his conscious self. Caught in the labyrinth of his thoughts, he was incapable of locating these roots. The only permissible way out was that he lose his mind.

When I hear in Nietzsche's works, especially The Antichrist, the cry of the angry child who has never been heard, when I perceive the mute, despairing, but also colossal battle that this wounded, highly expressive child waged against the untruthfulness, insensitivity, confusion, stupidity, inconsistency, and weakness of those who raised him, I am by no means relativizing what Nietzsche has to say about Christianity but am simply pointing to its origins. We could ask ourselves the same question that we ask about poets: If Nietzsche had been allowed to experience consciously the suffering caused by the way he was brought up, would The Antichrist have turned out the way it did? Presumably, he would not have needed to write it in the form he did, as an outpouring of stored-up affect; he surely would have found a different form, appropriate for telling what he had discovered with the aid of his feelings. If it had not been written as an abstract analysis of Christianity but as a document about his own suffering, many readers would have rediscovered themselves in what they read. It would have been an indictment and testimony concerning conditions that people know from experience, but only subliminally. For most people do not have Nietzsche's ability to describe feelings of revulsion, contempt, and disgust with such sensitivity and to justify them so convincingly.

Presumably, the result would then not have been a philosophical work but an autobiographical account that would have opened readers' eyes to reality. Nor would it have been possible to use Nietzsche's writings for a destructive ideology if they had expressed directly all that had befallen him instead of disguising it in symbolic form (as an attack against Christianity in the abstract, for example).

But there was never an opportunity for Nietzsche to write such a report, since its potential content—which, as it was, he could express only symbolically—was not accessible to his conscious mind, or in any case was not available to him in a direct form. Should our pedagogical system become more relaxed someday, however, should the commandment "Thou shalt not be aware of what was done to you as a child" lose its force, then our heretofore treasured "products of culture" will no doubt decline in number—from unnecessary, useless dissertations all the way to the most famous philosophical treatises. But their place would be taken by many honest reports about what really happened to their authors. These documents could give others the courage to see things as they actually are, to call a crime a crime, and to express what they themselves have gone through but have been unable, without any support, to put into words. Reports of this nature would doubtlessly be preferable to complicated speculative writing, for they would serve the crucial purpose of revealing, rather than concealing, the reality of universal human experience.

By establishing the connection between the content, intensity, and power of Nietzsche's thinking and his childhood experiences, I am by no means trying to call his genius into question. Nonetheless, I will probably be accused of this intent, for as a rule the significance of childhood experience is unfortunately minimized and dismissed as of no importance; what is seen as important, in this view, is to regard the abstract ideas of "great thinkers," of adults, as pure gold—without any admixture of childhood—and to admire and interpret those ideas at face value. Neither the secondary literature on Nietzsche nor the espousal of his writing by the fascists ever went beyond these limited boundaries.

From my perspective I would say that, on the contrary, most of Nietzsche's writings owe their persuasiveness specifically to his ability to express the experiences he stored up at a very early age. As in the case of Kafka and other great writers, the truth asserts itself so obviously that it is virtually impossible to deny it: the truth of a mistreated child who was not allowed to cry or defend himself. The sudden flashes of insight that can come from reading certain passages in Nietzsche are not the result of the author's power of suggestion but of the strength of experience (although repressed and unconscious) of someone who is telling about what he has suffered and perceived and whose perceptions relate to situations and conditions in which many other people have had to live—or still are living. Nietzsche has this to say about the sources a writer draws from:
When I seek my ultimate formula for Shakespeare, I always find only this: he conceived of the type of Caesar. That sort of thing cannot be guessed: one either is it, or one is not. The great poet dips only from his own reality —up to the point where afterward he cannot endure his work any longer.

When I have looked into my Zarathustra, I walk up and down in my room for half an hour, unable to master an unbearable fit of sobbing.

If Nietzsche had not been forced to learn as a child that one must master an "unbearable fit of sobbing," if he had simply been allowed to sob, then humanity would have been one philosopher poorer, but in return the life of a human being named Nietzsche would have been richer. And who knows what that vital Nietzsche would then have been able to give humanity?

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Coquelicot teaches didactically, experientially and by example. She brings to each session a lifetime's worth of tools, exercises and practices that I use at home to further my own development. Her genius combines intuition, sensing and a comprehensive knowledge of human emotional and biological development. What I've learned from her has not only given me a deeper understanding of my own patterns, dynamics and behaviors, it's also enhanced my understanding of others. I am a far more compassionate person thanks Coquelicot. In fact to the degree that I am a more evolved being in any regard, Coquelicot was instrumental in my transformation.

-L. M. Artist and wellness ally

"Dear God:

Please untie the knots that are in my mind, my heart and my life. Remove the have nots, the can nots and the do nots that I have in my mind. Erase the will nots,
may nots,
might nots that may find a home in my heart.
Release me from the could nots, would nots and should nots that obstruct my life.
And most of all,
Dear God,
I ask that you remove from my mind,
my heart and my life, all of the 'am nots' that I have allowed to hold me back, especially the thought that I am not good enough. Amen."
- Author unknown, The Knots Prayer

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