Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Vulgarity of Life

It is evening. And finally I am alone in my room with my collection of books and music. I put a Mahler symphony on the stereo, pour myself a glass of white wine, and sit on my couch, the only comfortable piece of furniture in the room. It is already midnight, and I look forward to another night of fitful sleep I gulp down the wine in two swallows, pour another, and then another, until I finish the bottle.

Be careful what you ask of Heaven; it might be granted, I thought, and in my case it came true in deadly earnest. In past years I carried out the plans I had so enthusiastically proposed for myself, but all the while my dissatisfaction was building like steam in a pressure cooker. I could not stay still for a minute; as long as I was busy I could ignore the demands of my soul, but if I had a few quiet minutes to myself I felt a fire consuming me, a fire so powerful I was sure it did not originate with me but had been fed by my tempestuous father and, before him, his grandfather, and before that who knows how many grandfathers branded by the same stigma of restlessness. It was my fate to roast on embers fanned by a thousand generations. That heat drove me forward; I assumed my victorious image just as the bucolic detachment and eternal innocence of the people around me were being ground to bits in the gears of the system's implacable machinery. No one could censure my ambition, because an impending era of unbridled greed was already gestating throughout the nation. But I would experience my inevitable downfall and end up living alone in a room, estranged from my roots, an alien on foreign soil.

I am tormented by strange dreams: strange and savage dreams. Some days ago I woke up in the night screaming. In my nightmare I was alone on a mountain at dawn; bodies were strewn below me, and the shadows of strange people were climbing toward me in the mist. They were coming closer. Everything was very slow and very quiet, a silent movie. I fired my weapon, felt the recoil, my hands ached, I saw the sparks, but there was no sound. The bullets passed though the strangers without stopping them; the people were transparent, as if sketched on glass; they moved forward inexorably, encircling me. I opened my mouth to scream but was so filled with horror that no voice came out, only shards of ice. After waking, the pounding of my heart kept me from falling asleep again. I got out of bed, took my jacket, and went for a walk. All right, enough moaning, I announced to the silent air.

I am not suited for the practicalities of life; my mind floats in otherworldly dreams, more preoccupied with the potential of the spirit than with everyday vicissitudes. I love music, and the most splendid moments of my uneventful existence have been the few operas I have attended. I treasure every detail of those spectacles; I could close my eyes and hear the brilliant voices, suffer the tragic passions of the performers, and luxuriate in the color and richness of the sets and costumes. I read the librettos, imagining every scene as part of my own life; the first stories I heard were of the star-crossed loves and inevitable deaths of the world of opera. I take refuge in this extravagant, romantic atmosphere when I feel weighed down by the vulgarity of real life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. Quite gay I must say. Nice attempt though.