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Nietzsche’s Hidden Trail of Desire

AT THE PEAK of his vitality, age 38, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was sojourning in Genoa, Italy. He cruised the sandy shores in white slacks, a healthy tan, and a Panama hat. Back in his hotel, he wrote in his notebook: “[I am] experiencing a menacing, heart-rending attack of desire and savage, pent-up surges of emotion … moments of sudden madness when the lonely man embraces the first man to come his way and treat him as a precious gift from heaven.”

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The Philosophers’ Funnel of Love

Love, it seems, is for straight people.

Take two examples from books that came out in just the past year: Pascal Bruckner’s The Paradox of Love (2012) has many virtues, but they do not stretch to examining same-sex relationships. Turn to the copyright page and you find brutal confirmation. The anonymous provider of Library of Congress shelving data has decided that “the paradox of love” can safely be cataloged under “man-woman relationships.” Faramerz Dabhoiwala’s The Origins of Sex (2012) examines the sexual and sentimental revolutions of the Enlightenment, the period when the boundaries of modern love were staked out. This is territory well and often explored by gay and lesbian scholars, yet there’s barely a whiff of homosexuality in 452 pages.

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