Rainer Maria Rilke and Lou Salomé
Lou Salomé’s question in the last weeks of her life:
I've worked my whole life, worked hard, and just worked - why, why?
She had chosen art and theory over love. She saw form first and love second in Rilke’s love poetry.
Nevertheless, Salome’s domineering attitude caused Rilke to grow as an artist.
Rilke wrote in his Florence Diary, which he kept for Lou in 1898, a year into their relationship:
I hated you. You were overwhelming. It was my turn to play the rich man, the philanthropist, the businessman, the aristocrat, and you should accept my concern and love, and indulge in my generosity. But when I confronted you I became the smallest beggar, dependent on you, reliant upon you as a pillar of strength.
We witness the struggle of the love-sick youth to find his own voice, which he so desperately wanted to present to his protector and mentor, who was older than him by fifteen years.
Nietzsche went before him of course, artistically and philosophically, but also as Salomé’s lover and confidante. Rilke was preoccupied by this.
By the time of Rilke’s first encounter with Salomé in 1897, she had already written a book about Nietzsche, such was the intellectual and sexual chemistry between the philosopher driven insane and the obsessively independent domitrix.
She who tamed and subdued both men must have transferred her intellectual influence over them also.
Nietzsche died in 1900.
One year later, Salomé became fearful of Rilke’s over-dependence and asserted her infamous independence, breaking off their love relationship along with any form of contact for four years.
Nietzsche and, for now, Salomé were gone.
The freedom imposed upon Rilke was not accepted. He would always write for Lou.
Rilke’s encounter with Salomé had been one with Nietzsche also.
Rilke would carry the scars of the encounter for the rest of his life, hopelessly trying to forge a similar (meaning dependent) relationship with other women for the rest of his life.
He may have viewed Nietzsche as a fellow willing-sufferer at the hands of Salomé. He certainly carried forward the Salomé-Nietzsche chemistry into his own poetry.
© John Dunn.
Heidegger under the carpet
Death for Heidegger sets the limit to separateness as a human being. In the end all is subsumed into the Oneness. In this context therefore, human life is a temporary aberration, something with which Heidegger reluctantly had to deal. Ironically, Heidegger had to deal with this because of the uniquely human ability to stand back and think about this aberration.
Heidegger in a destitute time
Heidegger’s failure to become führer to the Führer, i.e. transform the political revolution of 1933 into the philosophical revolution of Being and Time, did not deter him from pursuing the new authentic future.
The vacuum left by his disengagement from politics and resignation from the rectorship was filled by an engagement with literature, in particular the poetry of Hölderlin.