The Hansel and Gretel Recovery


There is something in the story of Hansel and Gretel that is telling of Nietzsche’s convalescence. When the little Hansel and Gretel heard while eavesdropping on their parents’ conversation about abandoning them in a forest, they managed to device a way for them to get back, and that is to drop pebbles on their way as restore points. The creativity is admirable here as children. They knew how to find their way back. They knew how to recover and re-establish themselves back to their home itself as recovery. This too is a catch for us. When Nietzsche says of the creativity of the child, this is also I claim a way to recovery – to tame the lion and the dragon back to its dungeon of healing. They are miserable creatures. The lion and the dragon are hard apocalypses of interrelationships. They are the images of sovereign individuals who willingly moved on independently from others. A hint can be drawn from such a part, because they too are images of hurt, of rejections, of mistrust. To morph into the child, a necessary reconciliation with the self for recovery has to take place. As soon as one acknowledges this, the difficulty itself reveals in the words – that in such reconciliation, we can only drop pebbles – we can only reconcile little by little.

The story itself is moving. Here, the father was the one who took Hansel and Gretel in blind obedience to the feminine mother. Is this not also the emancipation of liberty for women to exercise power? The story itself is built-in as postmodern. In psychoanalysis, the Father, regardless of gender attachment, is in the Lacanian sense the ‘Big Other’, and in this case, the rejection of the Father to make sense of oneself as the recovery is something very postmodern. While the father was carrying them, Gretel slowly throws the pebbles behind him. This is, in itself, the postmodern act of deviating from tradition and authority.

Man knew, as modernity went on, that modernity leads to nothing but existential hopeful promises, so in postmodernity, he finally gets to slowly find and throw remote settlements for himself – only pebbles to begin with.

Is this not also the way society condition us into thinking as a whole again, back to a herd of children to be eaten by witches, tempted by the freedom set for us in the form of an alluring chocolate house? Oh we have so many chocolate houses in front of us right now, so much freedom to devour, the resources, the knowledge, the ideas, the power! How do we even recover from this perverted freedom and realize that underneath this is a witch who only awaits for its dinner?

If we look closely at the pattern here, this is the recovery one needs in the history of philosophy. Look at how the parents argue for the lack of resources and the promise of bounty – the charge we accuse of agricultural feudalism into capitalistic industrialism. A revolution was set and enlightenment came in: we have to throw off the children (man) for the sake of this hopeful promise. Then postmodernity emerged as was narrated above. Here the confluence of time is important. The postmodern liberalist understanding of feminist power on the side of the mother, is also the same feudal caricature of the witch taken both as the hopeful promise of medieval to modernity and modernity to postmodernity. The nexus reveals as freedom, the freedom to transport one’s understanding wholesale to another. The only thing needed is the responsibility to push this hopeful promise of freedom as the witch into her own cauldron.

I am not anti-feminist but anti-prioritizing women as a fortune in the Machiavellian sense. To misunderstand Machiavelli is for me to remain fat for the witch to eat, always plotting for a strategy of oneself like the fox but does not have the strength to fight. Only then can one grab the fortune of the witch after one resolves oneself.

Convalescence is promising. We might not get to prevent society in all its sham but we have to make sure we have the pebbles in our pockets always in check. And what far better narrative there is, when after all the adventure, the child can find the strength to grow and come back home again!


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