Friedrich Nietzsche, the great 19th-century philosopher and poet, was known for his radical ideas on philosophy, ethics and morality. However, his views on sexuality were equally controversial and groundbreaking for his time. Nietzsche believed in the compelling power of sexuality to promote life, creativity, and self-realization. In this blog post, we will explore Nietzsche’s attitudes toward sexuality, focusing on his relationship with Lou Salomè and what modern erotica writers can learn from him.
Criticism of Christian sexual morality
Nietzsche criticized the traditional Christian conception of sexuality, often considered ascetic and hostile to sexuality. He viewed this attitude as suppressing man’s natural drives and a source of suffering. His criticism of Christian morality referred to what he called “slave morality,” which was intended to keep instincts in check.
Celebration of sensuality
Nietzsche emphasized the importance of sensuality and sensual pleasure as part of a vital and healthy life in some of his writings. He saw sensual experience as an expression of vitality and a path to self-realization. In this context, his statements could be interpreted as a form of celebration of voluptuousness, with voluptuousness not necessarily limited to sexual pleasure but to the enjoyment of sensual experiences in general.
Sex and the Will to Power
Nietzsche’s sexual philosophy was rooted in his concept of the will to power. He believed that sexuality was a fundamental aspect of human nature and that sexual energy was an essential source of personal power. For Nietzsche, sex was not just about procreation but an expression of the human will to live, create, and rule. He saw sexual energy as a driving force for personal growth and transformation.
The Role of Lou Salomé
Nietzsche’s relationship with Lou Salomé, a philosopher and writer, greatly impacted his views of sexuality. Salomè was a close friend and intellectual companion of Nietzsche, and their relationship was marked by intense intellectual passion. Nietzsche saw in Salomè the embodiment of the ideal woman who was intellectually and sexually independent. They met in 1882, and it is often assumed that he fell in love with her, although their relationship remained platonic.
Salomé had a strong influence on Nietzsche’s view of love and sexuality. She embodied the ideal of the “free woman” who does not adhere to traditional gender roles and asserts her own sexual and intellectual autonomy. Nietzsche admired this aspect of Salomé and it informed his views on the role of women and the nature of love and sexuality.
However, the relationship between Nietzsche and Salomé ended abruptly and under painful circumstances. Salomé rejected Nietzsche’s marriage proposal, and Nietzsche felt betrayed by her when she entered into a relationship with his friend Paul Rée. This experience undoubtedly embittered Nietzsche and it may have influenced his later views on women and love. Some of his writings show a certain bitterness and distrust of women, which may have resulted from his experience with Salomé.
Nietzsche’s statements on sex were often controversial, and he frequently used provocative phrases and metaphors to describe sexual encounters. One of his most famous quotes on sex is “If you go to the woman, do not forget the whip.” This quote is often interpreted as endorsing sadomasochism, but Nietzsche used it as a metaphor for the power dynamics in sexual relationships. Perhaps it is no coincidence that in one of the very few pictures showing Nietzsche together with Lou Salomé, Salomé was cracking the whip while Nietzsche let himself be harnessed to the cart.
Precipitation in the Work of Friedrich Nietzsche
In his work “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” Friedrich Nietzsche compared love to a mental illness. He described love as madness that can put people in drunkenness and insanity. However, his statements on this subject are metaphorical and often meant to illustrate his views on human emotions’ intensity and destructive aspects.
In his book Beyond “Good and Evil”, Nietzsche argues that our sexual desire is a significant driving force behind our actions and thoughts and that it significantly impacts our values and beliefs. He argues that how we think about our cultural and social context shapes our experience of sexuality and is not simply a matter of individual choice or preference.
In “Die fröhliche Wissenschaft,” Nietzsche comments on sexuality in Aphorism 125. He coins the famous phrase “will to power” and links it to sexual energy. Nietzsche argues that sexual energy is not limited to procreation but is also an expression of individual striving for power and superiority. He sees sexual desire as an expression of this will, a striving for dominance and control. This perspective challenges the notion that sexuality is a purely personal or private matter, presenting it instead as a social and political phenomenon.
What can modern erotica writers learn from Nietzsche’s philosophy?
What can modern erotica writers learn from Nietzsche’s philosophy? First, Nietzsche’s emphasis on the practical and transformative power of sexual energy can be a valuable source of inspiration for erotica writers. Sexuality can be a means for characters to develop, challenge social conventions, and assert their individuality.
Second, Nietzsche’s rejection of conventional morality and his affirmation of the unconventional can inspire writers to push boundaries and explore taboo subjects. Erotic writing can be a way to challenge social norms around sex and desire and offer alternative perspectives on sexuality and identity.
Finally, Nietzsche’s emphasis on individualism and intellectual independence can be a valuable lesson for writers. Erotic writing does not have to adhere to established genre conventions or cater to popular tastes. Erotic writers can challenge their readers and themselves by exploring their own perspectives on sexuality and desire.
Friedrich Nietzsche’s views on sex were ahead of his time and remain a source of inspiration and controversy today. His philosophy of the will to power and his relationship with Lou Salomè offer valuable insights into the transformative power of sexuality. For modern erotica writers, Nietzsche’s ideas can be a valuable source of inspiration, encouraging them to push boundaries and explore unconventional perspectives on sex and pleasure.