Flogging a dead horse
Early on in Dostoevsky’s great work Crime and Punishment.
Published in 1866 when Dostoevsky was 44 years old,
Raskolnikov, an ex-student in St Petersburg, sees himself as a young boy,
Walking through a provincial town with his father.
Outside a pub, a drunken rabble surrounds a weary old horse,
Hitched to a weighty cartload that it cannot possibly pull.
To the delight of the cheering mob, the horse is beaten so brutally, so brutally,
Sometimes even across the eyes and muzzle
Men climb into the cart to weigh it down further,
When someone speaks up against the violence,
The killer merely yells “My property, my property!”
On January 3, 1889, Friedrich Nietzsche, then 44,
Left his lodgings in Turin, excluded from all German universities,
No-platformed because of his radical god-less opinions,
Walked a short distance across a nearby square,
Seeing a horse being flogged by its owner,
He threw himself towards the animal and embraced it.
Breaking into tears, he slumped to the floor.
The remaining 11 years of his life were spent
Under care, and under the spell of profound madness.
Theodor W. Adorno, another German philosopher, said
“Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks
At a slaughterhouse and thinks: they’re only animals.”