Nietzsche’s donkey

by Christopher Spranger

I often think of Nietzsche’s donkey. That donkey he couldn’t endure to watch being whipped. That poor creature he ran up to and, sobbing convulsively, tried with heroic madness to rescue from harm. Was this donkey perhaps able to intuit the torment of the philosopher who had taken him in his arms? and was the tormented philosopher aware that holding this donkey was in fact the consummation of his philosophy? Through this one crazed gesture of hopeless compassion, this vain protest against the suffering and violence which were, as he knew to his cost, ineluctable, fundamental, at the very roots of life, Nietzsche summarized fittingly, and with great éclat, an oeuvre wracked to the core. This protective embrace of a brutalized beast was like a repetition in condensed form of all the transformed screams his books contained. But now he was communicating more plainly—more directly. The carnival mask had come off.


Christopher Spranger is one of the most extraordinary writers we know. It’s always in honor to publish his work here at NHC.

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