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wildlife917



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PostSubject: Re: Discussions on Paintings Discussions on Paintings - Page 2 EmptySat Apr 25, 2015 6:47 am

@satyr

Schendel von Petrus, can you recommend similar painters like him?
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PostSubject: Re: Discussions on Paintings Discussions on Paintings - Page 2 EmptySun Aug 16, 2015 6:19 pm

Panofsky: Pandora's Box



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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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Lyssa
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PostSubject: Re: Discussions on Paintings Discussions on Paintings - Page 2 EmptyThu Oct 01, 2015 6:33 pm

Lyssa wrote:
Gustave Moreau's illustration and description of how he views Zeus-Jupiter as the all-consuming Male and sheer manly power is just intense:

""Semele, penetrated by the divine effluence, regenerated and purified by this consecration, dies struck by lightning...“In the midst of colossal aerial buildings, with neither foundations nor roof-tops, covered with teeming, quivering vegetation, this sacred flora standing out against the dark blues of the starry vaults and the deserts of the sky, the God so often invoked appears in his still veiled splendor."... The painting is a representation of “divinized physical love” and the overpowering experience that consumes Semele as the god appears in his supreme beauty has been called “quite simply the most sumptuous expression imaginable of an orgasm”."


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The Lightning [above] and the Sun [below]:


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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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Lyssa
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PostSubject: Re: Discussions on Paintings Discussions on Paintings - Page 2 EmptyThu Oct 01, 2015 6:35 pm

Wrt. above;

Dionysos: The eye of the phallus - lightning.

Apollo: The eye of the mind - sun.

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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Satyr
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PostSubject: Re: Discussions on Paintings Discussions on Paintings - Page 2 EmptyThu Oct 01, 2015 6:52 pm

Mind/Body

The binary dichotomy repeats, through the ages, with different names and different guises.

Connecting the two, making them one, the nervous system, in Christian dogma, the Holy Ghost....

Dionysus:
reality, the Flux, the body reacting to it automatically, naturally, intuitively, spontaneously....animal, instincts...
Apollo: Mind, abstractions, ordering, awareness, uncovering...Human, reason...

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Lyssa
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PostSubject: Re: Discussions on Paintings Discussions on Paintings - Page 2 EmptyMon Apr 25, 2016 7:05 am

In tracing the significance of what Durer's 'Knight, Devil, and death' painting meant for Nietzsche and how he had interpreted it, the author is keen in painting a very Xt. Nietzsche.
Still, its worth quoting for some interesting details, and to understand what "Dionysian overcoming" means.

When you face the abyss, you will Have to become a monster yourself and cross it. Like an acid that eats its way out Into things, and not just leaving it aside.
When you face a Luther, you will Have to become a Luther yourself.
When you face a Paul or a Christ, you will Have to become one yourself.
When you face a Knight, you will Have to become one yourself.
And then, not just stop there, but break on through to the other side.

Nietzsche wrote:
"...to prepare oneself in solitude for strange faces and voices; to wash one's soul ever cleaner from the marketplace dust and noise of this age; to overcome everything Christian through something supra-Christian, and not merely to put it aside - for the Christian doctrine was the counterdoctrine to the Dionysian; to rediscover the South in one and to spread out above one a bright, glittering, mysterious southern sky; to reconquer southern health and hidden powerfulness of soul; step by step to become more comprehensive, more supranational, more European, more Near Eastern, finally more Greek-for the Greek was the first great union and synthesis of everything Near Eastern, and on that account the inception of the European soul, the discovery of our "new world": whover lives under such imperatives, who knows what he may not encounter one day? Perhaps-a new day!" [WTP, 1051]



Durer. The Knight, The Devil, and Death.
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Ernst Bertram wrote:
". . . You, sir, are the Knight!
. . . He feels the tremendous shift of time . . .
What was and what will be struggle in his soul,
like a pair of intertwined wrestlers gasping hard for breath.
His mind is the battlefield of two epochs—
I am not surprised that he sees demons!"

—Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, Hutten’s Last Days



"Ultimately, the romantic man of the north wants, as in Schopenhauer’s metaphysics, to fathom the essence of the world by hearing it as music, not to comprehend it by grasping it as form. Nietzsche, who considered himself “too much of a musician not to be a romantic,” was not as remote from the sensual sphere as many have thought. But he admits himself: I am very unphysical. “Representa- tions of historical scenes, human beings in motion, always leave me cold.” Only landscape paintings can put him in a “calm and expectant” mood; they place him in that heightened state of vaguely hopeful euphoria that tends to precede his productive periods. All figurative arts remain remote to him; their joys in and of the present are denied to this questing, change-loving spirit, whose musician’s gaze is trained inward. People have looked in vain for even the tiniest trace of an impression that might have been made on the boy by the immense space of the cathedral in Naumburg, for example, with its dual choirs and its noble and severe Romanic sculptures of donors; nowhere is there a hint of the Gothic cloister atmosphere of Schulpforta.

In the exuberantly descriptive letters from the young student at Bonn, in the enthusiastic reports about his trips to Cologne that are laden with musical details—not a word about the interior of the cathedral or about the most beautiful Romanic architecture north of the Alps. Out of Basel we hear nothing about the peculiar architectural physiognomy of that ancient city, with its mix of imperial and bourgeois styles. We do not even hear the great name that, if Nietzsche were even slightly visually attuned, would have had to strike him as congenial no less in his guise as psychologist than in his role as super-German—namely that of the master Hans Holbein.

If Nietzsche ever does mention a particular painting, say by Raphael, as rare as that is, then he does so for the exclusive purpose of illustrating allegorically some psychological or philosophical idea and never, as is the case with musical examples, with an undertone of grateful delight. Even the sole pictorial love of his life, the landscapes of Claude Lorrain, is strangely nonsensual and allegorically inclined; he never mentions a particular painting by the master by name (he saw a number of them in Dresden and then later in Rome), and it is always the type, the idea “Claude Lorrain” that preoccupies him: his paintings “make him think,” as he writes from Rome. It is a “poetic Claude Lorrain” for whom “his heart makes him yearn” (in Human, All Too Human).

In all of this, Nietzsche is entirely the descendant of the Lutheran Reformation, which, even when it did not express itself in the symbol of iconoclasm, still robbed the German people of the cheerful pleasures of the eye they had during the Middle Ages and, in its place, endowed them with the homesickness of the ear, that unquenchable and metaphysical thirst for music.

We know of only a single pictorial representation to which Nietzsche remained attached over the course of many long years, only one that he viewed and admired as a better part of himself: Albrecht Dürer’s8 engraving Ritter, Tod und Teufel (Knight, Death and Devil), from 1513, the year that Luther, returning from the convulsions of his trip to Rome, was struggling with the slowly growing visions of his future prophecy. It is the only gift, concentrated within a specific form, that the visual arts were ever allowed to give to the half-blind, sound-obsessed romantic Socrates. And, in a kind of convulsion, he felt it to be autobiographi- cal, a warning to himself, the way one only feels those things that appear to be spectral concretizations, as it were, of points where different curves in one’s life intersect, where decisive lines in one’s trajectory converge.

“A local patrician,” he wrote from Basel to Malwida in 1875, “gave me a sig- nificant present in the form of a genuine Dürer print. I rarely derive pleasure from a pictorial representation, but I identify with this image, ‘Knight, Death, and Devil,’ in a way I can hardly explain. In The Birth of Tragedy I compared Schopenhauer to this image, and because of that comparison I received the picture.” Nietzsche’s first inclinations toward the Dürer image in fact date from the time he was writing The Birth, and, indeed, it was Wagner who, as with so much else that was decisive for Nietzsche, provided the impetus here as well. In Tribschen, Wagner studied the two engravings, Knight and Melancholia, through the lens of Schopenhauerian ideas and analogies. He received both pieces from his friend and disciple in Basel as a morning gift in their new musical and philosophical friendship.

On Christmas Eve 1870, Nietzsche traveled to Tribschen bearing as a gift for Wagner “a favorite print by Albrecht Dürer that he had long desired”: this favorite print was “Knight, Death, and Devil,” which a fortunate coincidence placed in his hands, as he reports to his mother and sister. From that point on, the print also accompanied Nietzsche’s external life. He gave it to his friend Overbeck, a critical theologian, as a kind of emblem and memento of their mutual Christian- Unchristian knighthood of truth. And when, many years later, his sister emigrated to far-away Paraguay, where “a brave future” awaited her, Nietzsche again could think of nothing better, nothing more vividly symbolic to give her as a wedding present and good luck charm for the trip than the Dürer print with the armor- clad knight between death and the devil.

What was it about this print in particular that so magically captivated the young Nietzsche (whereas there is, characteristically, no evidence whatsoever, apart from some allusions to it in two poems from July 1871, of a similar interest in Melancholia, despite Wagner’s predilection for it), what magic bound him to it even as he outgrew Schopenhauer and Wagner? Nietzsche’s earliest answer to that question is, at the same time, the most important one: it is the passage in The Birth of Tragedy, because of which he received the print from a grateful reader in Basel; it is also the passage that Cosima Wagner admired the most in his first book. Indeed, she indicates precisely that fruitful spiritual moment, metaphorically condensed, in which the connection between Schopenhauer’s metaphysics and Wagner’s musical will became possible in Nietzsche’s mind. That connection arises out of the same inner disposition that a letter of Nietzsche’s to Rohde from October 1868 identifies: “What appeals to me in Wagner is what appeals to me in Schopenhauer, the ethical atmosphere, the Faustian odor, cross, death and crypt . . .”—an overall mood that Nietzsche gratefully puts into words a few months later in his letter to Wagner on his birthday: “I owe it to you and to Schopenhauer that, to this day, I have held onto the Germanic seriousness toward life, that I have a deepened view of this so puzzling and questionable existence.”

The characteristic passage about Dürer in The Birth of Tragedy grew out of the “Germanic seriousness toward life” during these early years in Nietzsche’s life, out of the shadow cast by Schopenhauer and by the Schopenhauerian Wagner. It was intended to bring home the feeling of the solitary man who, still without the “new belief ” in an imminent rebirth of Hellenic antiquity, without hope for a renewal of the German spirit through the fervent magic of music, is searching in vain for “something with a future” in the middle of the wilderness of our exhausted culture:

“An inconsolably lonely man could choose no better symbol than the Knight with Death and Devil, as Dürer has drawn him for us, the armor-clad knight with the steely, hard glance who knows how to steer his terrible course, unperturbed by his dreadful companions, and yet without hope, alone with his horse and dog. Our Schopenhauer was such a Dürer knight: he lacked all hope, but he desired truth. He has no equal” (The Birth of Tragedy).

This symbolic image is complemented by notes for a later outline of The Birth of Tragedy (1871): “ . . . Germanic pessimism—including rigid moralists, Schopenhauer and the categorical imperative! . . . We need a particular kind of art. . . . Dürer’s picture of the knight, death, and devil as the symbol of our existence!” Both passages together represent the entire ethical attitude of the young Nietzsche: “cross, death, and crypt,” as well as the already latent will to life, the moralistically rigid defiance that seems to be contained in the concept of Germanic pessimism; the Schopenhauerian romanticism of death, as well as the courage for truth in general; the youthful delirium of painful and knowing “hopelessness” as well as the particular kind of art that emerges from it; the Kantian imperative and the Lutheran Nevertheless—and finally the two demons of that seventh loneliness, that fatefully “Protestant” isolation of the individual, to which Luther once lent the bravely resigned words: “Your life is a knighthood. . . . Everyone must be in his own person armed and prepared to do battle with the devil and death. . . . I will not be with you then, nor will you be with me. . . .” Demons of that ma- levolent will to knowledge, which has to be a “will to death”—“comprehension is an end,” knowledge is death.

All of that Nietzsche senses in the print’s sublime gloom, like a threatening storm, which is so thoroughly German and so Nietzschean in its super-Germanness, even with regard to the ambiguity of the print’s half-artistic, half-philosophical, and humanistic origins, even with regard to its purely formal androgyny, which, on the one hand, arose out of Dürer’s studies of Leonardo da Vinci and Mantegna and, on the other, his fantastical pleasure in the northern fixation with devils, a northern love of solitary woods and romantic castles, making it appear to anticipate the analogous compositional history of the greatest work of German literature. But above all it is the image of the “courageous man” as such that enchants Nietzsche about the print, which arose out of the mood of the approaching Reformation, the quiet and imperturb- able “Nevertheless” of a soul that gallantly chooses and pursues its demonically ordained path “between the epochs.” It is the knight of truth (be it Christian or un-Christian), the truth of the brave man, the truth at any price, above all at the price of one’s own happiness. An entirely unrevolutionary knight of truth: lacking all fanaticism, in other words, and devoid of hate, that is, a Reformation knight, in the mold of Hutten, of Luther in Worms, who stood there alone and could not do otherwise, who has to go where he had to declare it, “even if there were as many devils there as there are tiles on the roofs.”

As late as 1884 there is an aphorism about Schopenhauer, whom at that point Nietzsche claims to have “overcome” long ago, that contains a perhaps not entirely coincidental literal allusion to the Lutheran notion of the freedom enjoyed by a Christian who, as the lord over all things, is “subservient to no one”:

What he taught has been abandoned; What he lived will continue to stand Just look at him—
He was subservient to no one!

And even in the Genealogy of Morals of 1887, he unmistakably returns to the Dürer comparison from The Birth of Tragedy in a passage that mentions a “truly independent spirit such as Schopenhauer,” who was a “man and knight with a steely glance, who has the courage to stand by himself, who knows how to stand alone.”

A “symbol of existence” is speaking to him, he who always felt that he needed “a particular kind of art”: the symbol of “Germanic pessimism,” which is neither skeptical nor romantic but rather “Reformatory,” moralistic, “Schopenhauer and the categorical imperative,” Luther and Can-Do-No-Other. “There is a will to the tragic and to pessimism,” the second preface to Human, All Too Human says, “which is a sign just as much of the severity as of the strength of one’s intellect (of one’s taste, sensitivity, conscience). With this will in one’s breast, one does not fear all of the terrifying and questionable things that are inherent in existence; one goes out in search of them. Behind such a will stands the courage, the pride, the desire for a great opponent. That was my pessimistic perspective from the beginning—a new perspective, it seems to me? . . . I have maintained it up to this very moment.”

That is how the late Nietzsche saw the dominating perspective of his life. From the beginning, there stands behind his knightly pessimism the courage not to avoid what is terrifying—death—or what is questionable—the devil—but rather to seek it out, to affirm it, to will it. A courage that intensifies and transforms the tragic into the Dionysian, pessimism into the will to recurrence, Schopenhauer into Zarathustra. Nietzsche perceived the image of such courage in Dürer: he perceived himself while thinking he saw Schopenhauer. Just as the print is the only one that stays with him, the idea of intellectual and spiritual courage also stays with him and dominates his thinking, the idea of a Knight Templar of truth—that truth which does not kill, but makes one live. “What is good? To be brave is good,”24 Zarathustra asks and answers himself. He glorifies man as the most courageous animal: courage—with it, he overcame every animal (and even himself as animal): “But courage is the best killer, courage that attacks: It kills even death, for it says: Was that life? Very well! Once more!”

In Ecce homo, he elaborates and supports the same notion in a more personal vein: “I am warlike by nature. It belongs to my instincts to attack.” In a letter to his mother, just before writing Zarathustra, Nietzsche is already speaking of himself as someone who is, if not the happiest of men, then in any case the most courageous, and he calls Daybreak one of the most courageous books ever to have been born. “Three-quarters of all the evil done in the world happens out of timidity,” the same book says, in whose paralipomena a “religion of bravery” is postulated in an entirely Protestant manner, and where the demand is made that science become more dangerous, that it involve more sacrifice: “I want to bring things to the point where one needs a heroic temper to devote oneself to science.”

Nietzsche knows like no other about the temptations, about the “death and the devil” of timidity, of every kind of timidity of the mind. The truth—that is, for him, a question of courage and an answer of courage. “In the sciences, too, everything is ethical,” Goethe had already noted; “one cannot actually know anything in them, it is always a matter of doing.” “One has only belatedly the courage for what one actually knows”—that is one of the most often repeated and modified sentences in late Nietzsche (it is in the Will to Power). The Twilight of the Idols puts it similarly: “Even the most courageous among us only rarely has the courage for what he actually knows. . . .”  

At greater length to Brandes (December 1887): “It seems to me that what a person considers ‘true’ or not depends more on his courage, on the strength of his courage. (Only seldom do I have the courage for what I actually know).” In the same year to Overbeck: “If I only had the courage to think everything I know. . . .” Finally, most bluntly in Ecce homo: “How much truth can a mind endure, how much truth can it risk? That increasingly became the actual measure of value for me. Error is not blindness, error is cowardice. . . .” And a mind has value only as a positive martyrdom, namely as a struggle: “The most intellectual people, provided that they are the most courageous, also experience by far the most painful tragedies: but for that very reason they honor life because it pits its greatest forces against them” (Twilight of the Idols). For everything decisive comes about only “nevertheless,” as Nietzsche, quoting himself, says in Ecce homo.

The most severe reproach the mature Nietzsche makes of Schopenhauer as a thinker is, symptomatically, that—of cowardice. Although he venerates him in 1870 in the image of the Dürer knight, celebrating him as the model of philosophical bravery, he later accuses him of having retreated from the greatest enemy of existence, of having withdrawn from the tragedy of his own life: of having not wanted to suffer for the sake of truth. “I find Schopenhauer somewhat superficial regarding matters of the soul. He enjoyed little and suffered little; a thinker should take care not to become hard: where is he supposed to get his material then? His passion for knowledge was not great enough to want to suffer on its account: he entrenched himself” (Notebooks to Daybreak). To entrench oneself—that is most unknightly. Caution is the worst temptation for a thinker. Thinking is war, knowledge is a ride between death and the devil. But Schopenhauer flees, as he once fled from his philosophical post out of fear of death, which he so loudly preached; he knows, but he does not do—Nietzsche does not forgive him for that. Cautious and fine—that is Erasmus, who loves peace more than the cross.

But where his teacher disappointed him, where his friends stayed behind, his ideal readers, the pupils he dreams of, should at least take the chance of follow- ing him on reformatory paths without sparing oneself themselves à la Erasmus: “In my view, all ‘feminism’ in a person, including in men, closes the door: such a person will never enter the labyrinth of audacious knowledge. One must never have gone easy on oneself, one must have acquired hardness in one’s habits in order to be cheerful and serene amid nothing but hard truths. When I imagine the perfect reader, it always turns out to be a fiend of courage and curiosity . . . a born adventurer and explorer” (Ecce homo).

Hardness, audacity, courage, and adventurousness—as time goes on these become Nietzsche’s cardinal virtues; “dangerous” his favorite label of distinction, next to “evil” and “terrible.” He wishes for everyone “who matters to him at all” to experience a Great Danger, for “the only thing that can prove today whether someone has value or not—that he stands his ground.” Only a Great Danger proves the knight—indeed it is what creates him. It creates the individual as well as entire peoples: “The peoples that were worth something, became worth something, never did so under liberal institutions: a Great Danger made some- thing out of them that deserves respect, a danger that first makes us acquainted with our own resources, our virtues, our defenses and weapons, our mind—that forces us to be strong. . . . First principle: there must be a necessity to be strong: otherwise it will never happen” (Twilight of the Idols).

Nietzsche repeatedly makes this realization with regard to the fate of the Ger- man spirit. “Whenever a German has done something great,” Daybreak says, “it happened in an hour of need, in a state of bravery, of clenched teeth, of the most tense calmness. . . .” And it is deeply significant that the only German quality that Nietzsche positively values and affirms to the end, even at the height of his anti-German passion, is the quality out of which the German Reformation arose: the quiet boldness of the knightly individual, the bravery of “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Inward boldness and outward modesty, no matter what the external circumstances, is for him “a German combination of virtues” (which at that point, to be sure, he thought could be found best expressed in Swiss artists or scholars).

In his penultimate year, he was still characterizing his own language as “bold and German.”
In the Basel lecture of 1871/72 about the “Future of our Educational Institutions,” Nietzsche writes that, in opposition to “Romanic civilization,” he adheres “all the more to the German spirit, which revealed itself in the German Reformation and in German music and which in the enormous bravery and discipline of German philosophy and in the recently proven loyalty of the German soldier has displayed that enduring, genuine power from which we may expect a victory over the fashionable pseudo-culture of the ‘Here-and-now’.” In Beyond he finds, to the honor of the German nature of Richard Wagner, that he had been stronger, more audacious, harder, higher, than any Frenchman of the nineteenth century could have been—“thanks to the circumstance that we Germans still stand closer to barbarism than the French”;—perhaps even the most remarkable thing that Wagner created would not just today but forever be inaccessible, impenetrable, inimitable to the entire, so advanced Latin race: the figure of Siegfried, that very free man who indeed is much too free, too hard, too cheerful, too healthy, too anti-Catholic for the taste of ancient and decrepit cultures.

Likewise, Beyond characterizes a skepticism of audacious masculinity, which found its first entrance into Germany in the figure of Frederick the Great as the German form of skepticism: “This skepticism despises and nevertheless usurps; it undermines and takes possession; it doesn’t believe, but it doesn’t lose itself in the process; it gives the mind a dangerous freedom, but it keeps the heart in check; it is the German form of skepticism, which, as a continuation of Frederickanism on the intellectual plane, brought benefit to Europe under the dominion of the German spirit and of its critical and historical distrust.”

And that is the Dürer ideal of the Christian knight, of the severe and brave skepticism “despite death and the devil,” transposed into a psychologically and historically younger sphere, transformed into the myth of Frederick, whose Luther-sized “Nevertheless” defied the entire world and held its ground. And the humanistic phrase is not missing here, either, the interpretation of the scholar as a “Christian knight” of knowledge, an anti-romantic Hutten-figure: “Thanks to the invincibly strong and tenacious masculine character of the great German philologists and critical historians . . . a new conception of the German spirit took hold despite all the romanticism in music and philosophy, a spirit in which the trait of masculine skepticism prominently emerged: be it, for example, in the form of investigative fearlessness, of analytical bravery and hardness, of a persevering will to dangerous journeys of exploration, to intellectual expeditions to a spiritual North Pole under desolate and dangerous skies.
There may be good reasons why warm-blooded and superficial advocates of humanity cross themselves when confronted by this spirit: Michelet called it, not without a shudder, cet esprit fataliste, ironique, méphistophélique.”

Here we already find the path cleared for the equation of “German” and “Mephistophelian” that he expressly takes up later. It exemplifies in highly characteristic fashion Nietzsche’s very “German” technique of amalgamation that he adopted from Wagner. With brilliantly audacious interpretive skill, he forces together all of the inconsistencies within himself into the synthesis of the identifying moment. Here, the one element of the German spirit he still affirmed, its “audacity,” is supposed to be united with the super-German yearning of his adoration of the south, the fusion of the Reformation with paganism, Faust with Helen. For Nietzsche, the point where the two deep currents of his own being converge, as in every “super-German” nature, carries the name Mephistopheles, who is here again lent traits of Frederick the Great.

“What I like to see in a German,” he says in a passage in the Notebooks to the Revaluation, “is his Mephistophelian nature: but, frankly, one has to have a higher notion of Mephistopheles than Goethe did, who found that, in order to magnify his ‘inner Faust,’ he needed to diminish his Mephistopheles. The true German Mephistopheles is much more dangerous, more audacious, more evil, more cunning and therefore more candid: one need only think of the inner life of Frederick the Great, or of that much greater Frederick, the Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick II.57—The true German Mephistopheles”—here again there is the typical equation of “very German” with southern super-German—“climbs over the Alps, believes that everything there belongs to him.”

An exemplary mas- terpiece of that sovereign exegesis of everything “written” that the late Nietzsche especially loved to perform. The “de-Germanization” of Goethe’s devil into the true German Mephistopheles (Luther said that a German foreigner is a diabolo incarnato) is both a model and a symbol for the transferal of Nietzsche’s German ideal (for there is such a thing for Nietzsche even in his most de-Germanized period) into the dangerously southern realm, even beyond Goethe’s alienation from the north, to the extreme polar opposite of the German character, to the outermost limit—the most remote from Luther—of all inner German possibili- ties as a whole.

And yet—the very German quality, thanks to which Nietzsche can construe his super-German ideal, namely the “dangerous audacity” of the German spirit, its inner, malevolent Frederickism, this very quality keeps him tied to the most northern opposite of the German character, to everything that the name of the Lutheran Reformation implies in terms of what is great and catastrophic, of the most German and all-too-German destiny and fatum. More: it points to the place, it is the place, where Nietzsche is most deeply rooted in the essence of his own people, in the essence of his language and of his being “beyond language.” It is the place where Nietzsche most furiously attacks Germanness; the place where he engages in the most bitter struggle with himself, indeed hates himself; the place where he imagines he sees the death and the devil of the entire German character, believing that he had challenged and defeated them. That place is designated by the name that there is no getting around when confronted by the Dürer print, and that also signifies the oldest German name in Nietzsche’s intellectual ancestry: the name of Martin Luther.

One should not be led astray even for an instant by the extreme vehemence, even the unrestrained venom of Nietzsche’s antagonism toward Luther after his Wagner period. It is, like the struggle with Wagner and Schopenhauer, or the struggle against romanticism and Christianity, only a symbol of a fraternal strife within his own breast, just as it can perhaps occur only in a German heart so fiercely, so brutally toward himself, a discord that is so Faustian and super-German, so disastrously unwinnable. Nietz- sche’s hatred of Luther—that is the place where our view of Nietzsche’s worldly- intellectual landscape expands out onto the mountain range of the larger spiritual and religious problem in which only one, albeit tremendously arresting, summit carries the name Nietzsche. For, as much as the many different perspectives we have on Nietzsche are valid because they are both possible and productive, one is always reminded, from every thematic standpoint, of the enormous theological problem that a figure such as Nietzsche represents.

There is no question that the poet of the prophet Zarathustra, viewed from the proper height, is one of the most magnificent phenomena within the history of northern Christianity, indeed, understood with the requisite intellectual sensitivity, even within “church history.” We have long been accustomed to viewing Nietzsche’s half-brother Schopenhauer as a thoroughly Christian intellectual figure, not with respect to the superficially rationalistic and Latinate aspects of this thinking, but regarding the innermost direction of his philosophical drive and will, where one can recognize in him a legitimate heir of Gothic asceticism and metaphysics. Nietzsche himself was probably the first to express that fact in full clarity, unperturbed by Schopenhauer’s pseudo-Voltairean hostility to the church and Christians. “The whole medieval Christian world-view and sense of humanity was able to celebrate a resurrection once again in Schopenhauer’s doctrine, in spite of the annihilation of all Christian dogmas achieved long ago” —he writes in Human, All Too Human; indeed: “I believe that it would now be very difficult for anyone to do justice to Christianity and its Asiatic relatives without Schopenhauer’s assistance.”

But only for someone with a very superficial point of view is there some ultimate boundary or threshold of Christianity between Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. The phenomenon of Schopenhauer, which in intellectual-historical terms is to be classified under the rubric “Christian romanticism,” repeats itself only higher up in a thinner atmosphere, made more dangerous by the increased proximity to deadly self-knowledge.

Just as Schopenhauer is not so much the heir of either Seneca or Montaigne as he is the inheritor of a Christianized Plato, of an India seen through a Christian lens, so too the primary impulse in Nietzsche’s soul is more deeply related to Pascal and Angelus Silesius than to the “supra-Christian gaze” of Leonardo or the Hohenstaufen Frederick II. He is, with the theocentric primacy of the idea of life before the concept of knowledge, still worlds closer to the soulfulness of St. Francis than to the “spider of skepticism,” the Enlightenment of his revered Voltaire. To be sure, he is Socrates, and like him a disman- tler of mysteries and a destroyer of the myths of gods. But he is also Paul, the man who overcame the law, the “Old Tablets,” the prophet, servant, and exegete of a new lord over souls.

Not the same Paul, it is true, whom the “Antichrist” savagely interprets as a decadent character out of the most vengeful self-hatred, using all of the instruments of a malignantly fanatical psychoanalysis. Not Paul the “dysangelist,” the histrionic “genius of hate,” the “chandala-type,” the power-obsessed invalid, the “greatest of all the apostles of revenge”—(it is only the morbid side of Nietzsche’s nature that creates here a distorted fraternal phan- tom so that he can denounce, persecute, and furiously destroy it in a fit of passionate self-hatred, just as the same hatred of himself forced his all-too-intellec- tualistic Half-Ego to combat his Doppelgänger, Socrates). Rather, the affirmatively directed half of his being is more closely related to Dürer’s Paul, who stares out of the apostle paintings in Munich holding both a book and a knight’s sword, combining in his nobly searching vigilance an image of concentrated masculin- ity and slightly painful consciousness, composed half of Attic wisdom and half of Nordic brooding, an image that is simultaneously related to the “Saint Paul as robust as a knight”69 that Goethe’s Reformation dictum gives us.

Everything positive, everything creative in Nietzsche is in fact rooted here, comes from his Lutheran, reformatory, northern, and romantic heritage, no matter how much it is always intoxicatedly lavished on the Hellenistic, classically southern psychologistic element. In 1875 he was still able to speak, to Rohde, about “our good pure Protestant air” and all of its “liberating spirits,” he can even admit: “I have never felt my innermost dependence on the spirit of Luther more strongly than I do now.”

And even in the unpublished writings from the last years we find the testimony: “The two most refined forms of humanity I have personally encountered were the perfect Christian—I consider it a point of honor that I descend from people who were in every sense serious about their Christianity—and the perfect artist of the romantic ideal, whom I found to be far beneath the Christian niveau. . . .”

Northern Christianity: that is the native soil in which his ethical powers grew, no matter how many other branches of his being also strove toward more Hellenic heights. It is after all from this northern Christianity that he launches his attack against a Christianity, against the slave religion of his Paul, that he saw as a product of Asia Minor, an outgrowth of degenerating Hellenism. The Reformation did exactly the same thing, wherein the specifically northern form of Christianity merely sought its most powerful expression. From the time of the Heliand and the first Lower-Saxon cathedrals onward—it is always the ideal of a more active, anti-pessimistic, of a yea-saying, yea-doing Christianity that the north would like to realize, an anti-Asian, anti-ascetic “Nevertheless” and “Yes” to life. And Nietzsche’s self-misunderstanding as that of an Antichrist is just as valid an expression of this northern Christianity (if not of attachment to the church) as was Luther’s provincial, anti-papist power to shatter the “Roman” Middle Ages. Even Goethe, whose Hellenism was still half of northern provenance, did not avoid making the energetic confession:

It is to the credit of all German men
That they hated Christianity
Until the noble Saxons fell to
Lord Charles’s accursed sword.
Yet they had fought long enough . . .
Yet they groused only once.
They were laying only in semi-slumber
When Luther put the Bible into German.
Saint Paul, in the guise of a sturdy knight,
Seemed less austere to knights themselves.
Freedom awakens in every breast,
And, filled with joy, we all protest!

Goethe’s notion of such a knightly, joyous, Protestant freedom, of an “anti- Christian,” “Saxon” Christianity, is for Nietzsche as well the creation of northern man, whereas the Roman Church, and with it and through it the entire European south, had “become the inheritance of the deep Orient, of ancient, mysterious Asia and of its contemplation.” And this is precisely what Nietzsche attacks most bitterly in its various transformations: as “historical sense,” as Schopenhauerian pessimism, as Parsifal’s music, as Jewish-Christian morality, as Paul. “The most significant thing that Luther accomplished,” he writes in Daybreak, “lies in the mistrust he awakened toward the saints and the entire Christian vita contemplativa.”

In searching for and demanding a “yea-saying, yea-doing” ideal for life, one that is truly vital, with all the intensity and all the unapologetically biased injustice of Luther, his Upper-Saxon compatriot, Nietzsche is drawing on the same Lutheran, northern Protestant heritage as Goethe does in the first part of Faust. His fury toward the stylized image of Paul, with its Oriental distortions and Asian contemplativeness, comes from the same forceful northern counter- ideal that the Lutheran Reformation had established in Paul, as Paul. It is no coincidence that Protestant Christianity erects itself on the very foundation of a new Pauline ideal, as Goethe himself had expressed it in the verses just cited. And it is no coincidence that Albrecht Dürer, the loyal adherent to Luther, creates the new, more masculine, courageous, northern image of Paul.

“Whoever has stood under the power of this Apostle’s eye,” Wölfflin writes about the Paul portrayed in the Munich panels, “knows that not only has a new conception of holy men made its appearance here, but also a new conception of human great- ness in general. The work of the Reformation was performed by such men. The era was a virile era, and Dürer was able to give his best only in masculine types.” Dürer thus merely fulfills and pictorially represents the northern Christian ideal. What began in the Heliand, Dürer brings to completion. What Wölfflin says in his book on Dürer about the art of the Reformation master is true of the entire Germanic north: “One can say that Dürer introduces a new idea of Christ, in so far as he infuses strength and manliness in the suffering and resignation which had previously been seen as the essential content of his figure.” (Wölfflin was speaking of the countenance of Christ in the “Veil of Veronica,” which dates from the same year as the print “Knight, Death and Devil.”)

With that we have identified the point at which Nietzsche’s elective affinity with Dürer’s art becomes completely intelligible. “Knight, Death and Devil,” this most “Protestant” of Dürer’s prints, full of Pauline courage and Pauline confidence—“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” — had to form, like no other work by Dürer, an electric connection between these two Reformation masters, who as artists, to be sure, had no sensibility, no organ, hardly a single trait in common—except perhaps the deep longing for the south they both shared and because of which they stand out as so German, so fatefully German in the history of art and thought. “A new conception of holy men ap- peared, but also a new conception of human greatness in general”—if it is Dürer’s accomplishment to have longed for that conception, to have fashioned it and given it to us afresh, then is it not a preeminently Nietzschean one as well?

Is it not the most noble meaning of his existence to have given a new conception of great and “holy” men, to have lived out a new form of human greatness and, even if he did not achieve it, still to have demanded it? Nietzsche’s ideal, too, was a reformatory, virile one: more masculine value judgments, more masculine virtues, more masculine role models— Nietzsche, like Dürer, could see and give his best only in masculine types. And was it not the noblest task of his entire life “to infuse strength and manliness” in the suffering and resignation of his own inner Passion? Was not “overcoming” the ultimate and most literal meaning of both their lives? “What Dürer accomplished is great,” Wölfflin wrote, taking stock of this most German of artistic lives, “but perhaps the greater part lies in what he overcame in the process.”81 Is that not also a precise description of Nietzsche’s life, achievement, and fate? What seems reminiscent of Dürer in Nietzsche’s philosophy, what appears Nietzschean in Dürer’s art, is embodied in the print depicting the Christian knight.

And it must have caused the young disciple of Schopenhauer and the Wagner enthusiast to feel he was being addressed by a subliminal yet perceptible “tat twam asi”—“that is you”—to sense that a “vision” was gazing out at him, that a premonitory phantom and prophetic dream had approached him in the guise of art. (“Radiant and severe,” is how Peter Cornelius described Dürer’s art and style; “radiant and strong” is how Zarathustra, when his time comes, is said to leave his cave in the last sentence of the book.) Something similar resonates in the words he sends to Wagner five years after giving him the Christmas present: “I identify with this image in a way I can hardly explain.”

The reason he seemed to identify with it so closely is expressed in that pas- sage from The Birth: it was the analogy to Schopenhauer that fascinated him in the figure of the lonely rider between the demons. The fact that behind the idea of Schopenhauer it was the Christian connection that exerted its power in this attraction, and in particular the notion of Christianity in a moment of world transformation, of Reformation, an image of combat and a bridge between two worlds, just like himself—all of that Nietzsche would not have been able to admit at that point. Yet, beneath the mask of Schopenhauer, it was the Christianity of his pious childhood and of his ancestral blood that spoke to him in a strangely familiar accent, that “best example of ideal life” that he, according to his own testimony, had ever really gotten to know, that from the time he was a child he had explored in its many nooks and crannies, and about which he claims even in his last anti-Christian decade that he “had in his heart never been base toward it.”

During Nietzsche’s youth, Schopenhauer is the form in which his Christian, Protestant inheritance remains possible for him—that is evidenced and revealed by his predilection for the Dürer print. “Cross, Death, and Crypt”: that is what he likes about Schopenhauer, about the Wagner of Tristan as interpreted through a Schopenhauerian lens, what attracts him to Dürer’s melancholy bravery and also to the deeply devout, heroic Reformation art of Johann Sebastian Bach. His Schopenhauer-inspired interpretation of the St. Matthew Passion is a precise counterpart and example of his instinctive understanding of “Christian” events as experiential examples of the doctrine of his favorite philosopher. In the same year in which Wagner interprets Dürer’s work of art for him, Schopenhauer interprets for him the most sublime Christian musical structure. During Holy Week in 1870 he writes to Rohde: “This week I listened to the St. Matthew Passion by the divine Bach three times, each one with the same feeling of im- measurable astonishment. Whoever has completely forgotten the meaning of Christianity hears it here truly as the gospel. This is the music of the negation of the will without any reminder of asceticism.”

Later, when both Schopenhauer and Wagner count among the things Nietzsche has overcome, he finds Dürer’s print “sinister” and “too gloomy,” and in Bach, who (as in Dürer, who looks back toward the German Gothic period while standing on the threshold of the European Renaissance) “looks back toward the Middle Ages on the threshold of European music, still too much crude Christianity, crude Germanness.” Nevertheless, even late in life he can think of no more noble a gift than that print; nevertheless, during his last spring in Turin he is still excited and enchanted by a symbolic synthesis of his early and later life, that is by the news that Paris was wild with enthusiasm for—the St. Matthew Passion, and that even Le Figaro— “truly Le Figaro!—had devoted an entire page to reprinting part of the score: namely the melancholy aria “Erbarme dich, mein Gott . . .”

Nevertheless, Dürer as well as Bach are incorporated into the chromatic fantasy of Zarathustra, just as Schopenhauer and Wagner are part of its passionate solitude, its ecstatic tempos—as, above all, Luther is present in the powerful rhythm of his pious wrath. That the style of Zarathustra became a late, baroque intensification and dissolution of Luther’s Old Testament is merely the expression and symbol of an even closer inner affinity and descendancy. In all of German literature we possess virtually no work of such high stature that owes so much of its rhythmic qualities to Luther as does Zarathustra. And just as the word “overman” has its forbear in Goethe’s Faust, one could trace the ancestry of the overman himself to the divinely free Christian man whom Luther’s Protestant individualism had first preached: “Every single Christian is such a man as Christ himself was on earth, and can govern the entire world in divine things. . . . Thus, Christians are the true helpers and saviors, indeed the masters and gods of the world.”

And despite all of his hostility toward Luther during the middle and late years when he was drawn more and more to the south, Nietzsche was always still dimly aware of this ancestry. Occasionally, in a flash, he will elucidate it himself. “Our last event still remains Luther.”  

“There was, after Luther and Goethe, a third step still to take,” he writes to Rohde about the language of Zarathustra. And in the Notebooks to The Case of Wagner—in other words, very late: “Luther’s language and the poetic form of the Bible as the basis of a new German poetry—that is my discovery! The imitation of classical antiquity, the complex rhyme schemes—that is all wrong and does not speak to us deeply enough . . . playing with the most diverse meters and occasionally unmetered verse is the right thing: we are surely able to take the liberty that we have already achieved in music in our poetry as well! Finally: it is the only poetry that speaks powerfully to the heart!—thanks to Luther.” He even finds that his favorite music exhibits the German Düreresque Luther trait in spite of all southern stylization: “You know,” he writes to Gast during his last summer in the Engadine, “that I regard your operatic music as very German—old German, good sixteenth-century German!”

As early as in The Birth of Tragedy he celebrates Luther almost as his own Dionysian predecessor: “The German Reformation emerged out of the abyss of a tremendous, inwardly healthy primeval force (which, to be sure, bestirs itself violently only at extraordinary moments but once, and then falls back into dreaming of a future awakening), and the future melody of German music first resounded in its chorale. This, Luther’s chorale, rang out as deeply, boldly and soulfully, as exuberantly good and tender as the first enticing call of Dionysus. . . . It was answered by the solemnly boisterous procession of Dionysian enthusiasts to whom we owe German music—and to whom we will owe the rebirth of German myth!”

And “Wagner in Bayreuth” praises Luther’s German cheerfulness, in other words precisely that which Nietzsche to the end valued most highly in every new truth: laughter. But even his malignant hostility toward Luther’s accomplishment (the restoration of Christianity by attacking Rome), like his enmity toward Paul, occasionally betrays the tone of a hatred between “hostile brother geniuses,” who, in the words of Beyond, “tend toward the opposite poles of the German spirit and in the process do harm to each other, as only brothers can do harm to themselves.”

Nietzsche had the dark premonition that a destiny could be in store for him that was similar to the one he saw having befallen Luther: namely, of restoring what he attacked, and in fact doing so by attacking it. In Luther’s case: medieval Christianity already caught up in the most colorful disintegration in and through Rome. In Nietzsche’s case—?

But something like embitterment toward his own inner allegiances rumbles in the words of The Antichrist: “If people do not get over Christianity, it will be the Germans’ fault. They have Protestantism on their conscience.” But within the German development, what would be more “Protestant” in this sense than the “always joyfully protest- ing” spirit of Nietzsche? Who would have ever inwardly “got over” Christianity less among the Germans than this most radical and fearless atheist, more radical and fearless even than Schopenhauer?

“A Christian wants to get away from himself,” we read in The Case of Wagner—who would have ever been a more passionate, a more heroically ascetic, more hopelessly Christian than Nietzsche? We can follow the traces of this unrelenting battle with his “inward Christian” into the last moments of mental transition. And as it sometimes happens to people, whose overall intellectual image is transformed by premature madness into an awe-inspiring torso, a fragment demanding interpretation, that just at the moment of their affliction and transformation they stammer a few slurred phrases that throw brief flashes of light on the landscape of future intellectual possibilities that will soon be lost forever, Nietzsche also made several utterances in the muddled writings he scribbled just after being overtaken by fate that hint at the synthesis that was still yearning to be fulfilled in this bipolar religious genius who misinterpreted himself as an atheist: a number of his final missives are signed “Dionysus,” others bear the signature “the Crucified One.”

Dionysus on the cross—was this more than a hybrid hallucination—was it the last, desperately condensed formula for his ultimate religious experience and insight? This delusional vision almost seems like a late birth and final fulfillment of that eternal northern longing for an affirmative Christianity, for a Christian spirit of the most heightened, intensified life, no longer in the mirror of an obscure word but face to face. Like a new premonition of the knightly freedom of a Nordic Christian who, after Luther, is master of all things, an entirely free man and subject to no one, of a reborn Hellenic-German “idealism of the living for life”: “A cross enshrouded in roses, like Goethe in secrets”—we can already find that in a fragment in the Notebooks for The Birth of Tragedy. Nietzsche’s beginning and end meet here mysteriously; thus he completes life’s circuit and returns whence he came.

But the Dürer engraving seems to be a presentiment and formula of this entire development, of this widely spanned arch of a problematic religious existence. An inkling that he was seeing something like an allegory of his own fate graphically prefigured here must have shocked the young Nietzsche’s untrained eye when the print came within his purview. He thought he could interpret this shock as an artistic vision of the lives of his great teacher Schopenhauer and of his mighty friend and inspiration Richard Wagner. But just as the later Nietzsche regarded “Wagner in Bayreuth” as a vision of his own future, whereas his innermost history, his “becoming,” was inscribed in “Schopenhauer as Educator,” above all his pledge—“both speak only of me, anticipando!”—so, too, would the print, had he seen it in the final years, have eerily appeared to have been, like his own earliest works, a “Self-portrait with Death and Devil.”

Nietzsche’s last comment on the engraving was that it was “too gloomy,” and indeed the mood of the Reformation print may have appeared more characteristic of the “Germanic seriousness of life” embodied in The World as Will and Representation than of the late halcyon cheer, the music of the south, that Nietzsche dreamed of in the end. Yet what Nietzsche says about the Schopenhauerian character of the print is true of his total outlook.

Nietzsche’s theological friend Franz Overbeck, with his Erasmus eye, had already perceived that early on, when he wrote to Nietzsche in 1871: “In your expressive portrait you remind me of the bold Dürer knight you once showed me.” A prophetic word from a friend: for Nietzsche is now “such a Dürer knight” for us as well; not, to be sure, “without any hope,” and one who wanted more, more from himself than “the truth.” But, akin to Scho- penhauer’s and Luther’s free Christian man, “subservient to no one,” he fear- lessly goes his own way at the hour of a dangerous twilight, accompanied by his demons, between death, which is “knowledge,” and the devil, who calls himself the “temptation of solitude.” Above him gleams in the shades of an evening light the fortress of Gothic romanticism, from which his conscience bid him take a difficult farewell. But the path, the terrible path through the narrow pass between two eras, grows dark in the night of a future fate. Where does it lead, where does it end? But does it lead anywhere, does it ever end? “Nevertheless—”" [Nietzsche: Attempt at a Mythology]

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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Nils Blommer, Meadow Elves


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Rubens depicts the majesty of conflict in his works the Rape of the Sabine Women and the Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus. The genius in these works is to pay tribute to natural events, not of rape, but of the directions that human nature takes appropriately in turmoil and struggle. Females are the spoils of war, of sacrifice. Rape symbolizes in these works, nature’s basic exploitation of its conflictual direction, the rape, being the exploitative element in the scenes, is the guidance to the inevitable cusp of human struggle in its chaos that must reach a point of attainment of order, before it must descend and return again to its perpetual state of turbulence and need.

These are natural processes of nature. The savagery is more in the expressions in the faces rather than in the physical acts, which give the themes their complexity and a controlled modicum of the chaos. This is chaos finding its resting place in exploitation of the female; the female being the symbolic source of nature itself. Hence the idea of rape and that it is neither good or bad but a natural occurrence of struggle towards the source of life. Rubens portrays nature here in a particular way: Merciless, but not degenerate.

A modern will look at these works and see only disturbing imagery of bestial immorality that progressive times have overcome. Because moderns are disconnected and dissociated from nature, they have no awareness of the fundamental aspects of nature such as rape, so they must turn inward in themselves and compose renderings only from a dysfunctional neurosis of a sick isolated spirit that knows nothing about nature but only what it is that is isolated from reality, like  themselves. For, what can nature be if it is not objectified? It becomes a distortion, a vagary, an illusion a misrepresentation, a miasma.
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Plucked from her father's stem, and fucked by an intruder.
How readily she opens up to welcome the new in, and in that moment becoming a woman.

Women surrendering to their conquerors while their fathers and brothers resisted is no new thing.
They still have traditions about being 'stolen' from their family's abode.
She is the holder of the keep,the one who keeps the home's fire burning (hestia), but if the walls are breached she will not fight for a weak master.
She gives herself to the strongest.

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