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On January 3, 1889, Friedrich Nietzsche, author of the idea of the Übermensch,

ran out into a Turin street to embrace an Italian draft horse that was being beaten.

He wept bitter tears for the fate of the poor animal, then fainted, leaving his mind behind.

Months later, without ever recovering, he died. It seemed a strange death for a Superman.

According to his many books, the Übermensch is a paragon among humans

who exerts immense worldly authority simply by asserting the power of his free will.

Given this assertion alone, he is capable of conquering the world and ruling the planet.

It is said that Nazi planners used his idea to manufacture a map for world domination.


On January 3, 1989, my brother-in-law posed as Fred Nietzsche on a trans-Atlantic flight.

He explained to a pretty American girl, "I'm just a mixed up philosopher who needs love."

When she took him home to meet her parents, he explained, "I'm a poor orphan in this world."

For two weeks, they fed and loved him to excess. He was philosophically satisfied.

Then he called his mother to come pick him up, but he stressed the necessity of remaining

an orphan. "There's no need to disillusion these nice people now," he explained.

His mother came, but she was unimpressed by his story. "Are you all right, my darling?"

Fresh from a fortnight in the Hamptons, he responded, "I'm fine, mom. I feel like a Superman."

Gary Lehmann teaches writing and poetry at the Rochester Institute of Technology. His essays, poetry and short stories are widely published—about 60 pieces a year. He is the director of the Athenaeum Poetry group which recently published its second chapbook, Poetic Visions. He is also author of a book of poetry entitled Public Lives and Private Secrets [Foothills Press, 2005], and co-author and editor of a book of poetry entitled The Span I Will Cross. You can contact him by email at
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