PAPA DUKE painted this caricature of the mad German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche for Bedlam's Wall of Lunacy.
Oil-on-board, 9 x 7.5
From Surreal Bounce:
“It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Nietzsche in Ten Sentences
1. Nietzsche adored his father, who died when Friedrich was only five, compelling him to later write, “Black clouds billowed up, the lightning flashed and damaging thunderbolts fell from the heavens.”
2. Maybe, for Nietzsche, that is when God died; or maybe it was six months later when he looked out his bedroom window to see a white spirit rise from his father’s grave and enter the nearby church, organ music playing, then returning to the grave with something beneath its arm; for when Nietzsche awakened from this dream, his brother, Little Joseph, not quite two years old, suffered a stroke and died.
3. It was in Leipzig in 1866, while at university, that Nietzsche contracted syphilis after visiting a brothel.
4. Perhaps Nietzsche felt stronger for it, but anxiety, migraine headaches, nausea and poor eyesight compelled poor Fritz, at age thirty-five, to relinquish his chair as a classics professor at the University of Basle and seek a quieter, calmer place for the full-time writing of experimental philosophy.
5. Thus Nietzsche found Sils Maria, where walking, and the electromagnetic power of the Engadine valley, gave him solace and inspiration, supplemented by hashish oil, which contributed to his very deep thinking.
6. On June 3rd, 1889, while standing on the Piazza Carlo Alberto in Turin, Nietzsche suffered a nervous breakdown when he saw a man beating a horse; sobbing, he rushed to embrace and comfort the horse, placing both arms around the nag’s neck.
7. Nietzsche was led back to his room nearby, and when he awakened from a nap, Fritz believed he had succeeded God (who he’d already declared dead) as ruler of all mankind–-suggesting also that he could control the weather.
8. Nietzsche’s doctor, a close friend, was summoned and, upon arrival, arranged for Fritz to be smuggled out of Italy–-to Basle, Switzerland–-for fear the Italians would forcibly confine him.
9. Throughout the journey by train, Nietzsche sang, danced, shouted and asked that women be brought to him; Swiss doctors soon declared him insane.
10. The mediocrity of man, along with syphilis microbes mulching his brain, and hashish oil and chloral hydrate (which Nietzsche took for sleep), had driven the philosopher mad; and, faithless, since God for him had long since died, Nietzsche spent the last ten years of his life casually strolling a lunatic asylum, before transcending from the chaos of his life into a dancing star.