A Teutonic Tragedy


Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud – famous German philosophers and such

Hankus Netsky – Klezmer Conservatory Band bandleader

Lou Andreas-Salomé – a muse, his mother

Rilke – a beast of burden


Heidelberg, Philosophenweg (Philosopher’s walk).

Hegel (walks in a straight line looking for a spiral)

It must be here, yes, I know it. If only up or down I could float

And find myself on a diff’rent plane. But hark! Who is it…

Kant (approaching, angrily)


Invited me to come and see the loop that solves my loopy problem.

Instead, I find this foolish trail along a puny brook. Straight brook to boot.

I had enough of this already. My seven bridges haunt me still. Your single one

Will not this to completion bring. Put up!


Such nuisance from a corpse.

You had a thing about the thing, while still alive. Now,

Do what’s viable and therefore required.

Take your imperative and shove it.


Arrgh! (jumps off a cliff)

Hegel (keeps going, stumbles over a body lying across the path and falls)

What now! Cursed be the burgomeister who even Philosophenweg let be infested

With dreadful hirsute hobos. I’ll demand speedy removal of both wretches.

Hobo (wakes up and reveals his face with an enormous Budenny-style mustache)

How dare you, pigmy, bother me, the superman, when gods keel over at the sight of my

Luxurious growth. You, Teuton scum, tremble in your polished boots! A Polish Ritter

Will ride through your attenuated coccyx and crush it. Better save your nates,

Or I will crush them too.

Hegel (recognizes the hobo, gets up, speaks derisively)

                                         Herr Nietzsche! Ah, Entschuldigung. I heartily regret

Expending precious nerves on a board-certified town idiot. Au revoir, my yidl.

Nietzsche (rises to his feet, flaunting his average stature)

Most scurvy knave! Crafty whoreson! Cockchafing pestilence! Anti-Semite!!!

Hankus Netsky (suddenly appears on the ridge, running and out of breath)

Which one is grampa? (turns to Nietzsche) I can see these whiskers of a noble Szlachcic

Begone all doubt, you are my dear Zayde. And I’m your little bocher. But prey tell,

How did you meet my granny?

Nietzsche (touched, dreamily)

My knabele, you made it back through time

and I will keep from you no secret. My father Zbyszek Nietzky wed a Teuton bitch,

(punches Hegel, who falls again)

And thus was I incepted. When I in turn my ripened age attained, your granny

Was like a zaftig peach amidst a flock of hoydens that our shtetl produced.

I lusted after her in all my heart and lower. She called me Freddy.

Those were the days.

(Hegel tries to get up but Nietzsche knocks him down with his boot again)

And you, my little bisele, what moves your members?

Nankus Netsky (pulls out a clarinet, plays and sings)

A nifty band I started once

And Klezmer was its namo

In it we had two plump buns

With not a pinch of shamo

Freddy Nietzky (weeps profusely)

Oh, how you touched my cockles! Truth be told, I shtooped your mother too. Her name

was Lou. I even wrote Beyond All Good for her. She travels unconventi’nally, I hear.

(kicks Hegel as a  prophylactic)

Salomé (arrives in a cart pulled by Rilke, who remains silent)

Nietzky and Netsky (simultaneously)


Salomé (restrains Rilke)

Move over, folks, move over. I have an assignation here, but not with you.

(Hegel tries to say something but is kicked by Nietzky again)

(A loud rattle of bare metal on the stone pavement is swelling menacingly: it’s Freud on a motorized couch with oversized wheels)

Freud (disembarks)

Guten Tag, Frau Andreas. Today is the beginning of our studies, according to my notebook. I read your manuscript Die Erotik and was much impressed. I can anticipate many fruitful sessions on this couch. It is a most modern lab equipped according to the latest thoughts of science, that is, my thoughts. 

Salomé (steps down from the cart and ascends the couch)

With you, Professor Freud, I am eager to embark on perilous adventures in the ocean of ideas. This mighty vessel seems plenty sturdy (wiggles a bedpost and is satisfied).


Ahoy, my mate! (climbs the couch and drives off)

(Rilke is stunned and despondent in his harness, but remains silent)

(Nietzky and Netsky freeze in a tearful embrace)

(Hegel finally gets up and cracks a villainous smile)