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The eye of the dog irresistibly evokes the impression that the dog has lost something: it speaks of him (as does the dog's whole bearing) of a certain mysterious relationship to the past. What it has lost is the I, self worth, freedom.

The dog has a remarkably deep connection to death. Months before the dog became problematic for me, I was sitting at about five o'clock one afternoon in a room of the hotel where I was staying, and reflecting on various things. Suddenly I heard a dog bark in a most peculiar and piercing way that was new to me, and in the same moment I had the irresistible feeling that someone was dying at that very instant.

Months later, on the most terrible night of my life, though not ill, I was literally wrestling with death - because there is for greater men no spiritual death without physical death, since for them life and death are the possibilities which confront each other most powerfully and intensively. Just as I was thinking of succumbing, a dog barked three times in just the same way as that time in Munich. This dog barked the whole night, but those three times were different. I noticed that at this moment I was biting fast at the bedsheet, like a dying man.

Similar experiences must have been had by other people. In the last strophe of Heine's most significant and most beautiful poem " The Pilgrimage to Kevlaar ", as the Mother of God, who releases from life, approaches the sick boy, he writes:

"The dogs were baying so loudly"​

I do not know if this stroke of Heine is original or drawn from folk legend. If I am not mistaken, the dog plays a similar role somewhere in Maeterlinck, too.

For a short time before the night in question I several times had the same vision which Goethe must have had in order to complete "Faust". Sometimes, when I saw a black dog, a gleam of fire seemed to to accompany him.

However, the dog's barking is decisive: the absolute negating expressive action. It proves that the dog is a symbol of the criminal. Goethe felt this very distinctly, though it perhaps did not become perfectly clear for him. He has the Devil choose the body of a dog. While Faust reads aloud from the Gospel, the dog barks ever more fiercely: hatred for Christ, for the Good and the True.

I am, incidentally, not at all influenced by Goethe. The intensity of those impressions, emotions and thoughts was so great that I was reminded of "Faust", sought out those passages, and now for the first time, perhaps as the very first of all, fully understand them.

I now lead further:

The dog behaves as though he feels his own worthlessness; he lets people beat him, to whom he immediately presses near again, as the bad person always does to the good. This importunity of the dog, the leaping up on people, is the functionalism of the slave. As a matter of fact, people who seek quick advantage for themselves, yet protect themselves against attack, people whom one cannot shake off, have dog's faces and dog's eyes. This is a great confirmation of my thought system which I mention here for the first time. There are few people who do not have one or more animal faces; and those animals which they look like, also resemble them in behavior.

Fear of dogs is a problem; why is there no fear of the horse or the dove? It is fear of the criminal. The gleam of fire which follows the black dog (possibly the most vicious) is the fire, the destruction, the punishment, the fate of those who are evil.

The dog's tail-wagging signifies that he recognizes all other things as more worthy than himself.

The loyalty of dogs which is so praised, and which allows many to consider the dog a moral animal, can rightfully be taken only as a symbol of baseness: the slave mentality (there is no merit in coming back after a beating).


It is interesting whom the dog barks at; it is generally good people whom he barks at, not base, dog-like characters. I have observed of myself that the less psychic similarity I had with dogs the more they barked at me. The only curious thing is that it is precisely the criminal that the watchdog is called upon to guard against.

Rabies is a very interesting phenomenon, perhaps related to epilepsy, in which humans likewise foam at the mouth. Both are promoted by heat.

If the dog does not wag his tail, but holds it stiff and straight, then there is danger that he will bite: that is the criminal act. Everything else, the barking also, is only the sign of an evil nature.

Dogs among characters in literature are " old Ekdal" in Ibsen's The Wild Duck, and the greatest, Minutte in Knut Hamsun's novel "Mysteries". Many of the so-called "Old Masters" depict the dog type among human criminals.


That there are yet other criminals is demonstrated by the snake, the pig.

The sniffing of the dog is also very significant. Here indeed lies the incapacity for apperception. Just like the dog's, the criminal's attention is drawn completely passively to individual things, without him knowing why he draws near them or comes home to them: he simply has no freedom left.

That he has altogether foregone choice also finds expression in the randomness of the dog's breeding with any bitch whatsoever. This indiscriminate mixing is above all eminently plebeian, and the dog is the plebeian criminal, the slave.

I repeat again: it is blindness to consider the dog an ethical symbol; even R. Wagner was supposed to have loved a dog (on this point Goethe seems to have looked more deeply). Darwin explains the dog's tail-wagging as "the diverting of excitement" ("expression of emotion"). It is of course the expression of the most rank baseness, the most servile devotion, which is resigned to every kick and only begs for more of everything.

An excerpt from Weininger's "Über die letzten Dinge"
A Dog Was Crying Tonight in Wicklow Also
When human beings found out about death
They sent the dog to Chukwu with a message:
They wanted to be let back to the house of life.
They didn’t want to end up lost forever
Like burnt wood disappearing into smoke
Or ashes that get blown away to nothing.
Instead they saw their souls in a flock at twilight
Cawing and headed back to the same old roosts
And the same bright airs and wing-stretchings
Each morning.
Death would be like a night spent in the wood:
At first light they’d be back in the house of life.
(The dog was meant to tell all this to Chukwu.)

But death and human beings took second place
When he trotted off the path and started barking
At another dog in broad daylight just barking
Back at him from the far bank of a river.

And that is how the toad reached Chukwu first,
The toad who’d overheard in the beginning
What the dog was meant to tell.
‘Human beings,’ he said
(And here the toad was trusted absolutely),
‘Human beings want death to last forever.’

Then Chukwu saw the people’s souls in birds
Coming towards him like black spots off the sunset
To a place where there would be neither roosts
Not trees
Nor any way back to the house of life.
And his mind reddened and darkened all at once
And nothing that the dog would tell him later
Could change that vision. Great chiefs and great loves
In obliterated light, the toad in mud,
The dog crying out all night behind the corpse house.

Incredible passage!

That that most bookish of the peoples of the book, the Jews, were ewig with Weininger can be seen, I believe, by his unconscious habit of seeing the world as a giant book (how else to read: "The dog has a remarkably deep connection to death." except as the expression of a man who sees his life as if it were a story with the definite symbols and lessons to be drawn from it that come with it?)