Sunday, June 01, 2008
A Monstrous Absurdity: An Experiment in Prose
I am a fugitive from the world of everyday reality. At times, my conscience is oppressed, and expects or makes for itself new oppressions from the world I have left behind but that nonetheless proclaims itself in all its power all around me. In the manifold bustle that fills day and night there is probably not a single task in which I can participate with all my heart, and my failure to venture into anything should not be regarded with the certainty of blame or disdain, or even contempt. There is in this a remarkable peace! It might perhaps be said, to alter a proverb, that a bad conscience, as long as it is bad enough, may almost provide a better pillow on which to rest than a good one: the incessant ancillary activity in which the mind engages with a view to acquiring a good individual conscience as the final outcome of all the injustice in which it is embroiled is then abolished, leaving behind in mind and emotions a hectic independence. A tender loneliness, a sky-high arrogance, sometimes pours their splendor over these holidays from the world, alongside one's own feelings the world can then appear clumsily bloated, like a captive balloon circled by swallows, or mutatis mutandis, humbled to a background as small as a forest at the periphery of one's field of vision. The offended civic obligations echo like a distant and crudely intrusive noise; they are insignificant, if not unreal. A monstrous order, which is in the last analysis nothing but a monstrous absurdity: that is the world. And yet every detail I encounter also has the tensed, high-wire-act nature of the once-and-never again, the nature of discovery, which is magical and admits of no repetitions; and whenever I want to speak of this, I do so in the awareness that no word can be uttered twice without changing its meaning.