Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

March 16, 2018

2018 Socially Relevant Film Festival

Filed under: Counterpunch,Film — louisproyect @ 1:02 pm

Lou Andreas-Salome, Paul Ree, Frederick Nietzsche

COUNTERPUNCH, March 16, 2018

CounterPunch readers in the Greater New York area should bookmark the 2018 Socially Relevant Film Festival website and try to make it to tonight’s 7 PM screening of “Lou Andreas Salomé: The Audacity to be Free” that opens the festival. If you’ve seen and appreciated “The Young Karl Marx”, I can assure you that this German-language biopic will remind you that the genre is still capable of providing first-class entertainment and substance unlike Hollywood biopics about industrialists or self-destructive musicians. I saw press screenings for this film as well as very good documentaries about the Armenian diaspora and how eugenics was practiced at Ellis Island that reconfirmed the value of a film festival I have been covering for CounterPunch since it began in 2015. This year, the films are being shown at the Cinema Village, an outstanding venue for better quality films over the years.

The photo at the top of the article depicts in rather sadomasochistic terms Lou Andreas Salomé applying the whip to Paul Rée and Friedrich Nietzsche. This photo, whose taking is a key scene in the film, is provocative enough on its own terms to deserve pride of place in a photography museum. However, the story behind the photo deserves a full recounting, which is the purpose to a large part of Cordula Kablitz-Post’s 2016 film, finally viewable in New York—and hopefully across the USA before very long.

Like Alexandra Kollontai and Victoria Woodhull, Lou Salomé was a transformative feminist figure who challenged oppressive patriarchal norms. Although she was not a revolutionary, her boldness and independence arguably exceeded that of any woman from her time. Living between 1861 and 1937, her path crossed with some of the most important men of her generation. Besides Nietzsche and Rilke, she was one of the first women ever to practice Freudian psychoanalysis. If anything, her connections to Freud (possibly sexual as well as professional), Nietzsche and Rilke indicate a breadth of learning that is unrivaled. In every sense of the word, she was a renaissance woman equally conversant in philosophy, literature and psychology.

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