Zarathustra vs Violent Femmes

Thus Spoke Zarathustra – First Part – Chapter 13: ‘On Chastity’
vs “Add It Up”, Violent Femmes (Violent Femmes, 1982)

‘Do I speak of filthy things?’ asks Zarathustra. Zarathustra is speaking of sex. Satisfaction: wanting and getting some. Wanting some and getting none: frustration, but also – and far more ominously – repression. And even wanting none: indifference. Does Zarathustra speak of filthy things? Only to those who (consciously, unconsciously) believe – and preach to others to believe – that sex is filthy.

Humans are animals: and animals fuck. ‘Would that you were perfect at least as beasts,’ says Zarathustra, for ‘to the beast belongs innocence’. Animals fuck, animals are given to the drive to fuck, and a fuck – for the animal – is just a fuck. ‘I council you to innocence’ says Zarathustra.

Animals are given to the drive to fuck but are not enslaved to that drive: sex waxes and wanes. Humans, however, can become enslaved. ‘[J]ust look at these men here: their eye says it – they know of nothing better on earth than to lie with a woman’. Do you feel that gaze? On your body? And men – do you not feel that gaze too? ‘Is it not better,’ says Zarathustra, not without some hyperbole, ‘to fall into the hands of a murderer than into the dreams of a women in heat?’ In both cases: ‘Mud is at the bottom of their soul’.

One sign of such enslavement is frustration. Another sign is repression. And has anyone captured this frustration and repression better than the Violent Femmes with ‘Add It Up’?


‘Why can't I get just one kiss?’ demands Gordon Gano over folk-country-punk acoustic thrash guitar and agile electric bass. ‘I look at your pants and I need a kiss’. ‘Why can't I get just one screw?’ Gano pleads: ‘Believe me, I know what to do / But something won't let me make love to you’. The Violent Femmes compose an anthem to frustration and repression – ‘Why can't I get just one fuck? / Why can't I get just one fuck?’ – where the desperation gives way to rage and resentment (‘Day after day, I get angry’), and the fury to violence (‘Take a look now at what your boy has done’). The Violent Femmes create a complex song of sexual complexes: exploring the failure of language (‘Words make my mouth exercise / Words all failed the magic prize’); the Oedipus situation (‘Oh, ma-mama, mo-ma, mo-ma mother / I would love to love you, lover’); fear and paranoia (‘City is restless, it's ready to pounce’); and even suicide (‘I'll take a bow and say goodnight’). ‘Add It Up’ is a febrile, sweaty, masturbatory nightmare of a song, a scream in the night-time, a glorious owning up to the filth in the human soul.

‘Do I counsel you to chastity?’ asks Zarathustra to the filthy soul. Not all – chastity is the very problem. Chastity becomes a ‘vice’ where ‘sensuality looks enviously out of everything they do’. The church and the mosque that preach chastity as a virtue are will denying and propagate repression and frustration in society engendering rage and violence – in particular towards women who are shamed and killed by their lovers, fathers, brothers; by their rapists and their repressed and frustrated sisters. Accordingly, writes Nietzsche ‘[t]hose for who chastity is difficult should be counselled against it, that it might not become their path to Hell.’

For humans are animals – and animals fuck. Animals fuck, animals are given to the drive to fuck, and a fuck – for the animal – is just a fuck. Animals are given to the drive to fuck but are not enslaved to that drive: sex waxes and wanes.

Accordingly – chastity should only be accepted when (for whatever reason) it approaches you. ‘[T]here are those who are chaste from the ground up’. Here indifference reigns. ‘They even laugh about chastity and ask: “What is chastity? Is not chastity folly? But this folly came to us and not we to it”’. Chastity is no ideal which must be attained and sustained; rather, it is contingent and temporal: ‘May it stay as long as it wants!’

First Part: Chapter 14 - Nirvana

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