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Neitzsche and The Turin Horse


In Turin, on January 3rd, 1889, Friedrich Nietzsche steps out of the door of number six, Via Carlo Alberto, perhaps to take a stroll, perhaps to go by the post office to collect his mail. The mundaneness of the incidentals, in which Nietzsche assumes the role of an ordinary man who ponders two equally banal choices (to take a leisure walk, or to pick up the mail? or why not both?), augments the pull of the inevitable catastrophe. Not far from him, or indeed very far removed from him, a cabman is having trouble with his stubborn horse. The cabman begins to whip the horse viciously because it refuses to budge and convey its load, and Nietzsche, overwhelmed by the sudden violence and pathos of the event, rushes to the horse’s aid, throws himself on its neck, and prevents the cabman from flogging it any further. Nietzsche, perhaps feeling underneath his arms and face the rippling skin and pulsing heart of the animal, breaks down in convulsive tears and, as a crowd collects around him, submerging him further beneath the heat of an encounter which has escalated beyond the point of comprehension, he collapses unconscious. Carried back to his apartment, the philosopher wakes up, but he can no longer function as he had; that is, he can no longer make autonomous decisions about taking either leisure strolls or visits to the post office, or anything else for that matter. He lives out the rest of his years in a state of profound philosophical silence, only broken on occasion by a lengthy and unpunctuated scream.

What happened to the horse?  Bela Tarr’s final opus The Turin Horse, a film of devastating nakedness, answers the question.
The opening scene of  The Turin Horse is grand art.



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