Copyright © 2015 Alexander Hicks
All rights reserved.
“Paths are made by walking”
― Franz Kafka
In the hope of finally starting with my psychology poetry book this morning as usual I got up around four, setting myself immediately about beginning with work. Having been in construction for years now, I felt in past few months that my thoughts have developed to a substantial degree, meaning I shouldn’t waste more time on thinking, but start with writing as well. This invigorating feeling about transferring thoughts concerning the psychology poetry book to paper possessed me few times already during my life. First time seven years ago, then four years ago, and then again only two years ago, all of them occasions resulting in failures to actually act on those feelings. As of late, however, I feel particular enthusiasm about starting with work in order to supplement and bring to fruition all of undertaken mental effort during the years, bringing one to relation with another, so as to create a product I had in mind for a decade. Considering that a mild fever affecting me for a few weeks subsided just a few days ago, I did not wish to jump into work precipitately, possibly inducing another onset of this unpleasant affliction, and to a perhaps more serious extent as a result. Therefore, I decided to wake up every morning at four, as is my preference, and upon getting up observe for a time if I feel healthy and capable of undertaking strenuous endeavor such as the psychology poetry book requires. Having acceded to established routine by waking up at the appropriate time, I was now, as few mornings in a row, sitting in a chair thinking that there are still some traces of fever left in my body, even though my mind is clear, and that I would do best to wait until all signs of fever are gone, both from my body and mind, in the interest of beginning with work without any impediments. Perhaps to sleep until six or seven and then, if not feeling one hundred percent ready, take some Saramago and read, I tell myself. The fever will be gone in a day or two, in any case. Affirming this as a favorable approach I turn the light off and try to fall asleep. Trying to do so, however, ends up in the same manner as usual: by getting up, turning the lights on, and setting myself about work in a matter of minutes, due to pressing awareness it was prolonged for the longest period of time as it is. While adhering to the preparatory routine, I keep convincing myself that this morning will be the start of the psychology poetry book, even though I convinced myself of the same the previous morning, the morning before that, and more or less on each morning during the last four or five years. Still, I do feel that this morning is different, as well as mornings in the past few months. I only need to finish with preparatory work routine in a reasonable amount of time, being satisfied with the way the black room is arranged, before successfully beginning with work. Similarly to previous mornings, though feeling possessed of genuine enthusiasm and determination, I failed to repel apprehension and anxiety arising as an immediate result of still existent traces of fever in my body, in addition of failure to realize the preparatory work routine in any reasonable amount of time, combination of which instilled me with doubts whether occurring daybreak is the right time to begin with work on the psychology poetry book after all. Nonetheless, next three or four hours were spent upon a desk trying to set myself in a correct way about getting the first thoughts ready for being written, time during which I noticed how sun is rising rather early this time of year, our neighbor went to work at seven thirteen, while also affirming that drought is coming beneath the door as suspected during previous mornings. At eleven o’clock I put down the pencil, placing the empty piece of paper back into the drawer, finding that, even though I haven’t written anything, I was still closer to doing so than the previous day. Not today, I tell myself, obviously not today, but with very good chances for tomorrow, significantly better chances, certainly not positive chances, at least not tomorrow, but reasonably high chances in direction of positive in the next few weeks, without a doubt, though quite possibly tomorrow even. Being eleven o’clock I proceeded to read until six, according to the plan, though occupying myself not exclusively with Kant, as I first thought of doing, nor with Saramago, with whom I interjected Kant, but with some Camus also, whom I used to interject both Kant and Saramago, thinking that Camus has the best chances and means to divert my focus from a failure to get anything written. I was not wrong, because his Plague soothed my mind and I felt myself growing more calm by each passage, many of which I repeated, before developing sort of satisfying tiredness which put me in good spirits about falling asleep and getting some rest. Lying down on the bed I turn to the side hoping to wander into subconscious, but just at the point where I thought claiming dominance over serenity, I was pulled back with a loud knocking at the door.
Are you ready? You should be done with your work and getting ready by now. I lie still hoping my living companion will take me as asleep and leave me alone. But then another, Are you getting ready, and, do you hear me, are thrown at my door so my hopes of being left to myself diminish a bit. Still, even though prevented from pursuing efforts towards falling asleep, I maintain silence in an attempt to at least calm suddenly aroused nerves a bit. Previous night I rejected proposals at accompanying her to the promotion of a new painting, work she had done most recently, a piece I found not of particular quality, as I told her honestly and quite a few times, rejected her offers unambiguously, that is, not finding thereby any sense in the fact that all of my rejections were followed with one after another appeal, each more sly than the previous one, to change my mind. She didn’t even shy away, upon my definitive response how there is no way I could accompany her tomorrow anywhere due to my own work, from assuring me how no work on my part will be done anyway in that time. Oh, if you’re worried about your work you won’t do much anyway, she said. I thought of turning around and giving her a harsh look for daring to throw such an insult at me, but I realized that any harshness I would think reprimanding her with would end up with open mockery and ridicule on her part. With that in mind, I went back to the black room without another word. She will pounce on the door for another ten or fifteen minutes, I think to myself looking at the ceiling, but then she will have to leave, because I will not answer her and she can’t afford to be late for the promotion of her own painting. I get up and note the current time so as to affirm how long I will have to abstain myself from leaving the black room, thirsty as I found myself feeling. She is going around our household preparing to leave, I assume, all the while maintaining peremptory tone indicating apparently my willingness to accompany her still, even though I rejected her numerous times during the last evening, in addition of leaving her without any response in view of demands she is currently making. Such insolence is characteristic of my living companion. Her capacity for claiming dominance over everything is incomparable. She will not draw a response out of me however, I find it meaningful to note, and being convinced of this there was a certain relief in knowing how she lacked all means on this particular occasion to make me give in to her malicious whims. These were my thoughts, in any case, but upon entertaining them I remembered all those other occasions when I thought in the similar manner and was proven wrong thereafter. In consequence, instead of drawing upon relief undoubtedly felt, I confined my perceptiveness to discerning any of those means that could turn my position around, overturn my determination in this regard, unaware of them as I was. Next ten or fifteen minutes passed with my living companion hitting on the door, calling for obedience, and myself pondering if such servility could come about. Hard as I thought, I couldn’t see myself succumbing to her pleas, and this conviction, I thought, was supplemented by her hitting at the door which lessened in its intensity over time. Of course, I could go out and forbid her to even draw near to my door, response well within my faculties, but I must always check myself against such rash actions, because doing so would bring about dire circumstances to my work, effectively ruining the established state of affairs within our household, which are, even amidst their abusive nature, still far superior to any other state of affairs I could expect elsewhere, and especially having in mind all efforts concerning the psychology poetry book. Where else would I find peace to such an extent as I enjoy within our premises, at least for the most part? It is because I am aware of prevailing favorable conditions, which are exclusive to my current habitual environment, that I suffer at times unreasonable behavior on behalf of my living companion. This is what I tell myself, time and again, hoping to extricate all those doubts growing within my mind owing to the situation I find myself in, without questioning actual usefulness of my supposition and of reality behind it, which I fear would greatly put off my work. Having immersed myself in this consideration I realize how sometime during reflection, what seemed to me incessant punching at first, ceased completely in the meantime. I get up and go to the door in order to check if my living companion went out. Some noises can be heard still, leading me to assume she must be undergoing finishing preparatory touches, artistic maneuvers aimed at devouring everyone’s attention, while preventing that same attention from wandering off, perhaps towards a certain painting, causing neglect concerning the actual object of the promotion due to her devious wittiness in matters concerning social endeavors. And to think that she wanted me to take active participation in this folly! Immediately after thinking this, I suspected myself grossly overreacting. Even though the work is far from her best, hardly worthy of noting in my opinion, it is rather acceptable and in vogue concerning the style. I must have been imagining I was there with her at the promotion, insinuating myself into feeling agitated as I certainly would have felt in such a situation. And yet, I wasn’t there, but standing before the door in the black room. Leave all this nonsensical thinking aside, I urge myself, and calm down. I will wait for a few minutes more, not more than five, I estimate, and then, when my living companion is gone, I will set myself about starting with work on the psychology poetry book, relieved of all traces of fever as I realized myself being. Putting my hand on the forehead I note indeed lack of all fever. All fever is absent, I reassure myself, all of it is gone, you only need to calm down and bring yourself into a correct state of mind before beginning with work. This recognition turned into resolution drawing within me great determination, and so I proceeded to calm myself down by listening what was going on outside the black room. Standing beside the door, I set myself about looking at the clock on the wall, following passing time and calming myself for beginning with work. Five minutes, I think to myself, five to ten minutes to calm and bring myself into an attentive state, amounting also to time upon which expiration my living companion will leave, creating altogether perfect conditions for approaching ruthless work such as the psychology poetry book requires. I observe the ticking clock, acknowledging, mentally, every passing second, and physically, by sounding the appropriate number, every passing minute. By the count of five I already feel calm enough to start with work, yet, not noticing my living companion leaving, I continue with preparatory routine. No more than twenty or twenty five deep breaths before I am all alone and set to begin, I affirm, twenty five or thirty at most, I deduce with confidence, but twenty deep breaths time passes in a flash, then thirty and after that forty, causing my breathing to lose some of its composure, turning gradually from calm into strained, inhaling and exhaling nervously, giving my breathing an entirely unnatural air. Instead of starting with work, ready as I felt for it only a few deep breaths ago, I felt myself growing restless due to my living companion not leaving. The fact of the matter is, I think to myself, she cannot make it in time now. She needs at least fifteen minutes and she is already short of five. One cannot expect of her, after all, to run to the promotion of her own work. But could she make it still, I have to wonder, could she make it if she was to walk fast, not run of course, but walk fast, and be, for instance, not five, of course not five, far from five, but maybe two minutes late? That could be acceptable owing to no one deigning to exhibit such effrontery as to bring to attention the fact how the main artist is late, even though she ought to have come not two minutes earlier, but an hour or so before, as decorum would have it. Custom is to greet all the guests before the speech taking place, one would think. Yet now she is late not only for the greetings, but for the speech itself! Why is she still here, could she be waiting for me? Nonsense. I draw nearer to the door and carefully observe if I could notice anything which would shed some light on this absurdity. But nothing is to be heard. Perhaps she is gone and I only thought I heard her. Perhaps, but then again what if… and I shudder at the thought that, while indeed she would never wait for me on behalf of any reason whatsoever, demanding of the accuracy and precision as she was concerning the time, she could very well be making a point, making a point realizing her painting is a failure and deciding not to indulge into perverse folly of celebrating a complete failure, bringing herself against mingling with all those people in order to be showered with opportunistic lies, repelling all those base attempts at insinuation in her favor, and instead of all that making a point, making out of me a reason for her decision to stay, not blaming me, because that would not serve her devious goals, but simply holding me responsible for having brought her into condition where she felt uncomfortable with going to the promotion, evoking within me sense of blame, and using that self-found blame on my part to ruin me one way or another. Possessed of this insight, I realize the danger such development of situation would pose to my work, so aroused and filled with anxiety, set myself about dressing properly and going out of the black room in order to accompany my living companion and call a taxi. Suiting myself, I wonder how far back this will set me in my work. I have to take into account both time needed for perverse manifestation to end, as well as effects such prolonged sojourn into stultifying society will cause to my mind. Two or three hours, I maintain, anywhere in-between that estimation, though possibly even more, I fear.
All these social gatherings go against my grain. The more artistic and intellectual they are thought of, the more egoism ridden and philistinism filled they prove to be. We may think we are taking part in some delicate and refined occasion, filled with elegant and thoughtful company, when going to these events, but when we are there we can see for ourselves that it is nothing but a muck of worthless people unable to create anything for themselves, insinuating their pathetic existences higher up the social ladder by throwing one after another mendacious praise at those they deem their betters, or by ruthlessly denigrating all others whom they deem inferior to themselves. Instead for spiritual improvement, cultural growth and intellectual gain, one realizes that these social manifestations are visited solely for reasons of self-promotion. This doesn’t mean that all those other social affairs without claims over artistic matters or partaking so called high society are any better, but whereas they are a show for displaying sickening craving for simple amusements, these promotions and cultural manifestations betray double mendacity, hoping to deceive us into believing they pursue noble goals and aims on the one hand, while secretly wishing for all those simplest of the simplest amusements also, making them far more perverse in their base cravings. All my life I’ve avoided society and masses. They are ruinous to one’s progress. While individual thinks for himself and something authentic, mass adopts thinking which amounts to not thinking, and I could never understand why anyone would betray own thinking for not thinking at all. Individual thinks and makes progress, whereas mass follows, preventing anything of the kind. And yet everywhere we look we see masses, people unable to exist unless being considered a part of something, and indeed their existence is being dependent only on that consideration instead of actual participation, which leads me to assume it is a matter of cowardice and not of debility. In any case, I find this thinking arousing me significantly, being aware it is but a cheap way to prevent myself from indulging self-accusations for succumbing yet again to my living companion’s nature. I don’t enjoy anything pertaining so called social affairs, I find myself firmly noting, still, once I am subdued to such affairs, always contrary to my will and through a lack of character, much alike to the situation at hand, I do occasionally find joy, even immense joy, at immersing myself in subjects over which I obsess at all other occasions, but contrary to them, those preferable occasions that is, when matters concerning work demand of me great concentration and focus, in addition of notable ruthlessness and relentlessness, bringing often as a result great distress, discomfort, arising agitation and indignation surmounting to ruination and depression, on these occasions, pertaining social affairs, I find all of these feelings and states of my body and mind absent, or at least lacking considerably, obviously in part on account of negligible concentration I could possess under such chaotic conditions, but also due to matters of another nature perhaps, matters concerning which I sense a bit of irony, finding that most of others present, at such times, fall susceptible to observing me, not noticing that I am also observing them, while thinking about my work, keeping an eye on those around, sensing in that process their inability to conclude what I am thinking about, suspecting though they must be that such an out of society gentleman, intent on deep contemplation even at places of amusement, must be thriving on deep philosophical matters bearing profound meaning and no less merit, while I am simply thinking about how am I to write the first sentence of my psychology poetry book. Ironic amusements as such, shameless as they may be, provide great joy and often refuge from despicability of these events by instilling me with necessary preoccupation, at least to an extent where it prevents me from occupying myself with anything else, for instance with all those present at these social gatherings, an occupation I suspect would end up being deemed provoking, if not contemptible, though not lacking in entertainment, it strikes me. One can at least hope this particular promotion will be bearable, I endeavor to encourage myself finally finished with dressing.
Not losing another second, I make way to the living room looking for my living companion so as to present myself ready to accompany her. Seeing her nowhere around, while hearing a subtle noise in the bathroom, I proceed to go out and reserve a taxi at least, thinking this will make me seem in readiness to act from the beginning as if willing to abide her wishes, conduct most propitious regarding continuance of my work. I catch one with a bit of luck at once and, telling the driver to wait, return to the house with an air of pretended countenance shaped in agitation in order to induce in my living companion sense of blame now, to turn the tables in fact, assume deserving role by seeming discontented at her being late, I think to myself, causing her to question morality of her assumptions and attempts, while only playing her game. Going through the house, eager to sustain quality of role play I thought evincing, until catching a sight of my living companion, I realize, upon venturing there, that the noise in the bathroom is nothing but a loosely left bib cock, and going over the rest of the premises, I am faced with conclusion that she had left already, probably at the time of the last knocking at the door, half an hour before. She has left already then, I tell myself, left some time ago, meaning there is no need for me to go anywhere. I should note the driver, though, that he is not needed, something I expect he’ll be mad about, but not nearly as mad as I should be for acting in such a ridiculous manner, letting anxiety take my better judgment, unsettled as I should be, I think to myself, but perhaps just as I should be mad and instead am not, being rather pleased with the fact that I am free of all social affairs and left to my work at last, the driver as well will be pleased at the current development of situation. This, however, does not happen, and after five minutes of arguing I found myself lacking patience, therefore paying the driver any sum of money I took out of a pocket, acting contrary to my financial wellbeing for the sole reason of seeing him go away before I took to saying anything which could not be resolved with money only.
Returning somewhat agitated to the black room, sitting upon the desk at once, I try to regain composure again. I should not act unsparingly with money, I catch myself thinking, for no matter of the lowest regard I hold all things material in, there are still bills to be paid. In fact, it is appropriate to observe, those bills are the reason for living together with my living companion. From the very beginning we were clear about the nature of our co-habitation, amounting to joint efforts towards overcoming financial obstacles on the road of achieving our goals. That was at least my understanding upon entering our current settlement. However, I was soon facing reality which appeared to be not at all what I expected. My singular condition related to the preference of silent conditions prevailing for the most time, though not all the time, perhaps seventy percent of the time, an amount we found to be the appropriate one and on behalf of which I left my previous household, small apartment with no rooms and hardly any silence around, in favor of this one, where I had suitable room and needed accommodation in addition to expected quietness. Yet, while at first I was pleased with everything, very soon whimsical and devious nature of my living companion surfaced.
At first she would, from time to time, enter into mild fits followed with visits of a few friends which would prevent me from working for a short time. I didn’t bring this to her attention thinking it is a passing phase, but soon I realized that those short, sporadic visits, were actually a passing phase, and that her character was in favor of more regular visits, causing more serious impediments to my work. It was not before long that I learned to cope with these visits, maintaining work, but just when I found myself able to exact the level of concentration needed for repelling these hindrances altogether, she started demanding of me to take part in them. You’ll be present tonight, of course, she would tell me upon catching me passing through the hall to get myself a glass of water, for instance, and I would answer, Of course I won’t, I have to work, at which point she would drop her brush and stop painting on the canvas in the middle of the living room, focusing her attention on me as if I had insulted her. What do you mean you won’t be present, where will you be? Dumbfounded at her inquiry I would mumble, working, and go back to the black room thinking how it is exactly at night that I enjoy great progress in my thinking, due to being enervated by brightness during the day. For a while after such occasions she wouldn’t even talk to me, but realizing that such manner of conducting I find favorable, she quickly opted for a different approach, abusing me with questions whenever she had a chance. Inquiring all the time about what I was doing, waiting upon me to open the door, knocking at the door constantly, asking through the door one paltry thing after another: had I emptied the trash since it was my turn, had I paid the bill, was I writing or not, was I reading, what was I reading, was I asleep, knocking at the closed door and asking in a loud voice, Are you asleep?, then shouting to note how she will leave me alone since I seem asleep, though not without knocking few times more and inquiring, Are you really asleep? Such was a start of unremitting torment aimed at destroying me which continues to the present day, I reflect sitting at my desk trying to calm down in order to start with work. I can hardly step out of the black room, on my way to the bathroom for example, without her jumping out of her own room making way to the black room so as to look through my belongings. Of course, I always lock my work before leaving the room, locking all the drawers in which I keep notes about the psychology poetry book and one chest in which I store all the gibberish not connected to the psychology poetry book. As for any other belongings of mine I don’t mind her looking through them at all. But she has her sights on my drawers, not even the chest with all the finished written works is of interest to her, only the drawers where the notes about my current work, that of psychology poetry book, are stored. Jumping out of her room, at numerous occasions, she would make way for my own, carefully noting the exact moment and precise distance where I could not see her going to the black room and immediately setting herself about opening my drawers, trying to access them forcefully, that is, since I had them locked before leaving the room, trying and pushing to such an extent of strength that I could usually notice commotion inside, uproar prompting me to open the bathroom door just a bit, posing a question about what is going on. What is going on, what’s that noise, is what I would (will) ask, hearing her pushing, hitting and doing her best to access the drawers, while answering to me that nothing is going on, Nothing, you’re imagining things, she would (will) speak up, inducing me to act quickly and return to the black room as fast as possible in order to verify a statement which I found suspicious. On my way to the black room, however, I usually found that she’s in her own room, reading apparently, proceeding in consequence somewhat assuaged in my concerns back to work. Sitting upon the desk, more than once I recall looking at the drawers, concluding them all to be closed indeed, therefore, feeling a bit guilty for doubting my living companion, but I would only need to look further down the floor in order to notice how the desk is moved ten inches to the left! Moved ten inches out of its allocated place, calculated with geometrical precision, absolving me instantly of all the guilt while subduing my state of excitement to significant agitation. Am I to feel uneasy each time I leave the room? Entertaining the prospect of going and confronting her about such patent insolence, as I felt justified in doing dozens of times, I have to check myself and bring under control again and again, because in such situations, as I found out during many attempts to reason with her, she usually responds by stating some debilitating simplicity, like, I am in my room, reading, how can I be opening your drawers and read at the same time? Get a grip of yourself, she wouldn’t shy away from saying before literally pushing me out of her room, making me an object of her blame due to disturbing her concentration. This, of course, only served to arouse me further, destroying any composure I may have had, rendering me incapable of work until I would calm down, which at times took even a few days. Learning from this, I practiced to ignore these instances of rudeness, realizing manner of such conduct most appreciative to my work. But while I practiced utmost indifference, to which, I have to say, I was already inclined, she practiced ruthlessness, to which she seemed more inclined still. In doing so, I note while sitting and considering whether to take out a blank piece of paper before me, we maintained each our own efforts towards one another. She constantly irritating me and bringing about nuisances to my work, and I exercising indifference which from the first I took as a preferable attitude towards most people. I always thought of getting the better of her in these dealings and prevailing in wittiness, for while I honestly didn’t care about anything except for my work, thus pursuing indifference with ease to everything else, she seemed aroused with such behavior, and, at least in my opinion, preoccupied herself significantly with tormenting me, for one reason or another. I am careful not to think too closely about this matter though, in the interest of avoiding consideration concerning the actual facts of my supposition, with the facts being that I’m aware of more than five works of my living companion being deemed success during our time spent together, whereas she probably isn’t aware of my understanding that she’s getting the shorter end of the stick in her efforts to torment me, success I have to put forward in these considerations, due to lack of any concrete work being done on my part, all of which considerably brings doubts to my mind in view of final analysis who’s getting the short end, and is possessed of wittiness.
Opening the drawer, amidst these reflections, I decide to take out a blank paper, encouraged by the fact that my living companion will be absent for a few hours. It is past evening and, even though the black room is arranged so as to provide desirable and propitious environmental conditions during the entire day, I still prefer to endeavor myself into work during the night, due to habit maintained since childhood. Nonetheless, placing the paper before me, I have to note that, having always been affected by bright lights and enervated by prolonged exposure to bright colors, in addition to realizing that work as demanding of concentration and devotion as that of psychology poetry book cannot be done without engrossing oneself into it both mentally and physically during the whole day, the decision to remodel my room was not only correct, but necessary one. I noticed even from childhood that my mental condition would deteriorate fast when exposed to light, whereas my physical condition would benefit only mildly. On the other hand, my focus and concentration could reach and maintain high levels when faced with semi-darkness. That enabled me to venture into all kinds of intellectual efforts during the evening and at night, staying awake during these periods of day, while my physical state wouldn’t suffer at all, or not noticeably at least, because there is no doubt such preferences were unhealthy in their prolonged nature. Still, due to holding mental state in higher regard than physical, negligence of my physical health was maintained for years now, reaching its peak few months ago when my room was remodeled into one entirely suited to my mental state, hence entirely unsuited to my physical state. What I ensured was that all the colors were removed within the room, all of them altogether in favor of three nuances of black. Each of these nuances was more intense in its intensity than the previous one, starting with the one least intense amounting to heavy grey. The ceiling was colored in black, walls in mild black-grey and the floor in heavy grey. This suited my thinking as I never found myself thinking well when looking down, but mostly when looking ahead of me or up. By virtue of this, I was always against odds with thinking well since looking up, though preferable focal point, was usually met with bright colors which went against my grain. Therefore, I got the idea of making a room which would serve my thinking best, aware I would be sacrificing health to some extent, yet willing to make that sacrifice considering many advantages I imagined ensuing from it. Having painted walls in preferable colors the easiest part of the job was done, though it was still an immense effort to get the wall opposite the window in the right shade, with a touch of lighter black, since the shadow from the afternoon sun would be falling at it on daily basis. Then, I had to proceed with furniture. One bed, one closet, one desk, one chair, and few bookshelves with no more than six or seven drawers beneath them. All of these had to be painted over and, more importantly, placed exactly where I calculated geometrically their position would suit my relaxation best. On account of this, I had subtle marks made all throughout the room to indicate where each piece of furniture should stand. Some compromises to colors, amounting to grey windowsill and dark brown closet, were made, yet these were as unavoidable as they were necessary for creating working environment, having in mind that adjusting to subtle color nuances within different angles, considering sunlight coming from the window, was propitious to mind stimulation and thought diversity. Making bookshelves and its contents sorted correctly, while assigning them with appropriate colors, was what I found most difficult to achieve. This is understandable and expected owing to many notes I have written so far regarding my work, hundreds and thousands of papers and slips of papers related to many different aspects of thinking, interconnected in-between, but each one standing on its own also. Getting copybooks with black covers was simple enough, however, copying the contents of all the notes in the right order and then arranging copybooks themselves in the correct way was impossible. Therefore, I got black covers instead, covers without any pages in them, quite an impressive number of covers, fifty or sixty covers in different colors, different nuances of black and grey, and used these covers to envelope all of my notes, indeed large number of these notes, observed each on its own few thousands of notes, whereas considered in its relation and connection somewhere around five hundred notes, all in all amounting to three parts, each of them representing a single work. By doing so, I made sure that all of my notes were stored accordingly, without having any doubts about their order, for if I found that some notes should be placed before the other ones, I could achieve so by simply getting the notes out of one cover and transferring them into another without disrupting order of covers established in view of their colors. Arranging all of this is done correctly: walls and furniture, closet, sheets, desk, chair, drawers, closed bookshelves, notes, and especially covers in which the notes were stored, took extreme effort on my part. Still, having done everything as close as possible to what was imagined, now while placing the blank paper into its appropriate position on the desk, I found the black room, as I called it since first imagining it, most beneficial environment to my mental state and intellectual efforts.
I can still remember nonplussed countenance of my living companion when she first saw the finished result. She was positively without words, at least for a time, because very soon she did comment on all the work done, and using words unsparingly. Amidst all ensued insults, laughing and overt mockery, to which she shortly succumbed with unnatural eagerness, I observed, what most remained in my memory was her indescribable bewilderment at first seeing the black room. It was indubitable amazement I was noticing, I thought, and each of the insults that followed expressed her inability to cope with astonishment she was feeling. Therefore, in the next few weeks she couldn’t wait for me to leave the room for one reason or another, preying on a chance to ridicule and throw malicious remarks at me, while I took utmost satisfaction in those remarks, knowing them for what they are and not expressing least affection by them. I have to observe, though, that these small satisfactions lasted an amount of time needed for me to leave and come back to the black room, interval rarely larger than ten minutes. In other words, I wasn’t interested in taking pleasure at my living companion’s expense, only in concentrating on my work, whereas she kept pestering me with her insults, yet again working towards ruining my focus. From one day to another these disturbances grew and not before long they extended to lasting from morning to evening. There was no telling if she was laughing at me, talking about me on the phone, making a joke about the black room, mocking me, the black room, my work, or laughing at something else and using words black and poetry inadvertently. Nevertheless, it was noticeable that she spoke in an incomprehensible tone while reflecting to herself or conversing with her friends and colleagues, before reaching the word “black”, which she never failed to emphasize, I observed, laughing at once upon such an emphasis. She pursued behavior in the similar manner for days, causing me eventually to become unable to reach needed concentration for any kind of work. By this time I had already forgotten everything about the black room, having got used to it and using it only as a means to further the efforts concerning work endeavors. I didn’t pay any attention to her remarks and insults, that is satisfaction they produced, seeing how even prolonged satisfaction I found to be needless immersion, damaging to concentration and focus. And yet, the more I took no awareness regarding the black room, the more my living companion acted conversely. It is because of this that after a few weeks, time during which she worked incessantly on destroying my concentration with her laughter, both laughter and ridicule, along with mockery, all of which were pursued on her own and in company of her friends, after a few weeks, therefore, that I grew tired of such perturbing behavior and, worried about my work, pointed out to her how such behavior was unacceptable. After onset of laughter at my face, indulged in the most ostentatious manner possible, she suddenly satisfied her maliciousness with abuse concerning the black room, ceasing subsequently to make out of it a tool for a torment relentlessly pursued towards me. She simply couldn’t deal with me being indifferent, I observe while trying to adjust the blank paper before me, couldn’t take it seeing me unaffected, she had to affect my indifference, that is what it is all about, affecting me and evoking from me some kind of response. Insulting and mocking wasn’t enough for her, she had to make sure I took cognizance of these offenses, was disturbed by them, minded them, only then could she feel satisfied, leaving the matter about the black room behind. And what’s more, not leaving only, I took notice at the time, but acting graciously about it, apologizing even for having disturbed me, assuring me it was just for fun and that she never meant anything serious with it. Each of her apologies ruined me, pursued for days on end as they were, now instead of mockery pursued relentlessly to remind me that I was affected by her, my indifference shaken, with all of it done on a whim, without any serious effort, for a bit of fun, she would tell me over and over again. As much as I should’ve been pleased about all the ruckus and the noise gone, I grew irritated for succumbing to her trap, being affected, because, owing to realizing the manner in which I was bested, I found all of her insults and mockery, or apologies and mockery, not nearly efficient in ruining concentration as awareness of being affected in the first place. It was probably her plan to begin with, thinking she cannot affect me, therefore, working it around so as to I end up affecting myself. Even thinking about this, considerable amount of time after, while attempting to place the paper on the desk, causes notable agitation, preventing me, in fact, from placing the paper accurately. Does this mean the episode affects me still? Without an answer I dismiss all these recollections and suppositions aside as base hindrances.
It’s been an hour since I was left to myself, I affirm, an hour and a half at most, time which I spent not only needlessly reflecting, but observing all order within the black room as well, and to my greatest satisfaction. I realized myself free of all distractions, at last, and wholly contented with all the immediate conditions, facing a perfect opportunity to start with a complex task of transferring my mental work, relentlessly done over the past decade, via means of writing, into a physical product intended solely for the mind. I make to dispose of the blank piece of paper which I previously tried to place correctly on the desk, and take another piece, securing a fresh start. Moving everything else from the desk I proceed to place the piece of blank paper right at the center of the desk, which could be done with extreme geometrical precision, since I had my desk engraved with four angles of ninety degrees, right in the middle of it, signifying the borders in which the blank piece of paper was to be placed. It is worth noting that, while at the time of considering this solution I was thinking it would absolve me of many troubles regarding meticulousness my personality cultivated over work, now that the paper borders were engraved, I found myself often facing another sort of problem. Though I was sure where I am to place the blank paper in order not to ponder indefinitely if I have placed it at the right place, I had grave difficulties in achieving such precise placement. In other words, whereas I could place the paper within the engraved borders, maintaining that paper position during writing proved to be the greatest of the challenges. I could scarcely write a line before the paper would move a bit, less than one centimeter to the side, which by itself seems insignificant, but amounts to paper being distorted right and left, up and down, of which I am made aware due to paper edges going out of, or falling into borders engraved on the desk. This being intolerable I had to stop writing at once and place the paper correctly again before continuing with work. Even though with time I grew accustomed to maintaining correct paper position for the longest stretches of time when I am possessed of acute concentration, meaning satisfying amount of time during regular focus, or if not satisfying then tolerable amount, amount in any case bearable, it still brought me discomfort to notice it often took me significant amount of time to place the paper before resuming to maintain its position, and that my writing suffered regardless of concentration, because I wrote noticeably slower due to extreme caution devoted to necessary paper placement. Now, however, realizing myself relieved of all hindrances, I hoped paper placement will take me only a minute or two to adjust, after which I could begin with work encouraged with an additional enthusiasm as a result of observing the black room and finding once more my decision to arrange it the correct one and the arranging itself done properly. What needed to be done at the moment, regarding the work on psychology poetry book, was to take everything thought over during the past ten years and take it apart in a way which would enable me to discern and pick up thoughts most developed. Then, starting with these thoughts, writing them down, go further in thinking and develop thinking in order to improve on what has already been written. It seemed simple and I sensed myself smiling, with reserve, of course, owing to apprehension in the face of lightheartedness that possessed me out of nowhere, but only at first, I noticed, because, due to clearness of mind which overcame me and made itself lasting, genuine smile without constraints spread across my face before long. Relieved at my relaxation I even found myself laughing while observing the black room arranged in order and the piece of blank paper falling into just about the right place, wondering how it was possible that during all those years I was unable to start writing the psychology poetry book, start noting down everything I had thought over in connection with it, with extreme acuteness of mind, I may add, pondering how did I fail in doing something so easily done, or at least easily done in sufficient amount of time, to which ten years in any case adds up to. It struck me to consider what sort of obstacles I must have found insurmountable to such a degree that they prevented me from sitting down and noting what I thought, writing down thoughts developed and noting those sufficiently developed thoughts on the paper in the form of written pages, sheets of paper in the form of sentences and sentences in the form of words, instead all of which I had nothing written yet. I took to familiarizing myself with the idea of these obstacles, first the idea and then with the sheer ludicrousness of possible reality behind the idea, taking note of all those occasions when I felt ready to begin and, for one reason or another, ended up failing. Noting bed sheets which were too bright or loose and creased, occurrences of open window and drought, or closed window and stale air, observing these so called obstacles and letting them humor me now while feeling onset of positive assuredness about beginning with work. Thinking of paper too thin or paper inappropriate in terms of size, paper not fitting into the borders or not enough paper, slippers left by the bed and books on the shelf being arranged incorrectly, covers not covering notes and notes lacking correct shade of color, finding all this only mildly troublesome however, so thinking a bit further, remembering that one time when I had no pen for instance, and that other time when the power was out, and another time when my living companion had her friends over, finding obstacles like that worthy of being deemed obstacles, though not insurmountable obstacles, far from it, thus putting some extra effort into consideration, pondering if a headache would be more of a serious obstacle, a prolonged headache due to relentlessness which I practice over my mental concentration, pain in my mind often experienced, and lack of appropriate ideas, underdeveloped thoughts, thoughts and ideas not yet ready to be transferred to paper due to being insufficiently developed could be considered a serious obstacle after all, especially after ten years, discrepancy of ideas owing to requirement that work is to be improved from one page to the next, therefore incongruous ideas, unreliable thoughts and brightness, surely enervating brightness accompanied by many inside noises caused by my living companion, incessant noises, questions, and talking, all of which bears grave ponderousness too, extreme brightness and noise, notably when observing how to take all thinking apart and create the starting point, brightness and noise during the beginning, and a headache on top of that, I think and content myself by deeming these obstacles as indeed worthy of the term. Contemplating about all of them while looking ahead I notice that I moved the paper from its position while reflecting, moved it considerably to the left, at which point I set myself about returning it into the correct position, maneuver causing me difficulties, I notice, perhaps due to feeling a bit thirsty. Reaching for the glass of water to take a sip, I realize it is empty, so put it back at the edge of the desk, dedicating my whole effort consequently into restoring the central position of the paper and starting with work, even though I feel a mild headache affecting me. Still, holding both the thirst and the headache incapable of disrupting such positive enthusiasm I feel maintaining, I proceed with moving the paper a bit to the right, at which exact moment some unintelligible shouting finds its way through the window, increasing mild headache into a moderate one. Set of these circumstances I find irritable to a significant extent, irritability further enhanced by observation that I must have lost two hours already, or even more, noting to myself that I might have wasted such an enormous amount of time, irretrievable amount, gathering in consequence all strength and focus to repel any further obstacles. Just as I felt back in control over my senses, however, I looked at the clock and noted that not two but whole four hours have been spent in vain, effectively rendering me incapable of any kind of work and thinking, while inducing within my mind an extreme headache.
Agitated I make way to the bed and crash into it hoping to calm arisen indignation. No work today, I observe trying to soothe my headache by not moving, no work at all seeing how I will not recuperate until the next day, with such supposition being hopeful thinking as well. I might have to wait until the day after tomorrow in order to be in preferable mental condition for exacting necessary ruthlessness such as the psychology poetry book requires. No work today or tomorrow, to be more precise then. But work is everything, I observe even while suffering this painful headache, because without it there is nothing. We are born and set ourselves upon learning at once. Knowing little we learn, work towards knowing more, and continue to do so for as long as we live. Or we suppose it is so. But is it actually so? We think it so, in any case, until we see all those people who we knew as children, who grew up with us, learning about life along us, see those people who somewhere in the meantime stopped working, ceased learning and halted thinking. We think them learning and thinking still, but they have long ceased to think for themselves, absolved all thinking whatsoever in favor of its lack, conceded thinking at some point in their lives where they opted for simply prolonging their existence in its current state. And if we are naive enough to question quality of their current state we are horrified to realize how far behind it is, horrified at it, as well as ashamed for having questioned it, not affirming instead that, regardless of achieved state of thinking, its cessation at any point can be nothing but pathetic. You live while you think, therefore you think while you live, so if one was to cease thinking, one would naturally cease living. What this means is that when we meet all those people who grew up with us and once thought for themselves and along us, we see already dead people, husks prolonging their tedious existence from one day to the next, temporizing regarding the inevitable end due to fear. Or else they don’t temporize and they are brought to our attention via in memoriam. But this is a rarity in contrast to which most often we maintain awareness of their existence, astounded by tenacity these people evince. Ceasing their thinking at some point, instead of falling into depression, dejection and ruination, as we assume inevitable, we see these people happier than ever. Having brought themselves to a standstill point in their thinking, they proceed to relentlessly pursue preservation of their artificial mental saturation by following precise routine carefully adhered to at all times. On account of this we see people going to work every day, coming back from work, doing their best not once to miss their going out on Fridays, watching a TV show on Tuesdays and Thursdays, going to their parents’ twice a month, going to holiday once a year, attending a concert every four months, etc., drawing great satisfaction from this repetition, over and over again, fully aware what disruption of this routine would bring about. Should they have their TV show cancelled and work time changed, they would be perplexed; bus too late or too soon is enough to throw these people out of their comfort zone, and when prevented from fulfilling their routine they fall helpless. What now, they ask themselves, short of a followed habit to preserve nurtured ignorance in order to make themselves comfortable in their own eyes. But getting out of that situation requires thinking, something these people are well aware of, requires thinking and taking a good look at oneself, and when they dare to think, they realize that they have (had) options, getting up earlier, a few minutes, sparing time on one occasion for the sake of having more on another, thinking, not fixing everything, alternating, doing more work to better your work position, or doing less work in order to immerse yourself diversely, opting for changing preparatory actions, moving dates in-between, interacting so as to reach different solution, not always better but in the direction of better conclusion, missing out on one thing, doing this or that once so that in due time it could be twice, thinking about different solutions knowing there is no absolutely correct one, especially under the influence of time, devising and alternating, wavering across and changing, influencing and being influenced, all together and interconnected, etc., so there are options they realize, and when one presumes revelation must assume, undoubtedly, we instead see all these people shouting at the bus too late, cursing at the TV show being cancelled, raising their hands, voice and indignation as high as possible until they trample their consciousness into dirt, arousing themselves beyond any hope of thinking, annihilating thinking unable to cope with reality. And then the next bus comes and they feel relieved, and another TV show starts and they are contented, whole routine falling in its place, enabling them to once again saturate their artificial existence. Work is everything, I repeat out loud and assure myself, for without thinking what would become of us? Thinking first and foremost, and then everything else. Thinking is (in) everything, I tell (think to) myself, sensing a headache receding again. Protect thinking, at least where protection is possible. Sitting up on my bed I remembered a friend I had years ago, or at least a friend according to my notion of what friend was supposed to be at the time, but, having established our friendship for a time, soon I realized that the person I genuinely considered my friend stopped developing, halted progression, rejected any furtherance, and this discontinuation with development was promptly followed with cessation of thought. In a matter of months, or at most a year, the person I was most intimately involved with in a loveable friendship dissolved all her thinking into nothing but existence from one day to the next. Woman whose ideas I once esteemed more than those of any other person produced complete lack of them from then on. You try to help, you try to find the cause, but you realize that help is not needed, help is not wanted, because there is no cause, the matter being that a person has found its acme of existence, claimed satisfaction, reached the point where thought is no longer needed and ideas no longer produced, a point of repetitive, derivative progression of time in a small circle shortening itself until death comes, only literally, of course, because a person who doesn’t think ceased to exist at the moment of abolishing thought, at which point in time, exhibiting ruthless behavior, cost us a good friend.
Sitting on the bed, I notice some noise around, making me wonder if my living companion had already returned. Getting up and listening more carefully, I realize it is the sound of a passing car. So it is not my living companion after all, I affirm, of course not, it’s been only four hours, it might take her six or seven hours, after all, to satisfy curiosity of all those people. Considering another attempt at starting the work, having been relieved unexpectedly of the headache to a certain level in the meantime, upon getting up I realize myself dizzy and on shaky feet, so decide against attempting any work for a time still, reflecting instead on my living companion, or rather on her incessant inquires about work I will have to prolong until this mild lightheadedness is gone. She would often ask me if I have anything in my head ready to be transferred to the book, Don’t you have anything ready for being written, she would throw at me while painting, and I would reply that I have, Of course I have, and then she would tell me to go and write it, Now, and bring it back, no matter if it is just a page, so she could read it and tell me what she thought of it, because she would never want me to keep working forever on a subject possibly even I would not think all that important had I a chance to read it. But I would of course reject this proposition, laughing at her while at it. It surprised me she did not understand that by extracting an excerpt the whole work is ruined. It has to be complete. Please understand, if I was to isolate an excerpt and give it to you for reading, I would ruin the whole work, I remember telling her. Even ignoring the fact that the whole psychology poetry book is interconnected, it is obvious that any work, no matter what written work, is ruined by excerpts. If I was to isolate, single out a certain page, that page would be ruined for me, I could never consider it a part of my work, I could not place it in its right place, there is no right place for a single page, just as there is no place for a single thought, only for unremitting flow of thoughts, improved from one page to the next. Likewise, if one stops for a moment and imagine himself reading that page now, and subsequently, while reading the whole work afterwards, going towards and coming to the part he already knows, not only would he find himself expecting when will the page he’s already read arrive, but even before coming to that page he would question implications of it regarding the whole work, ruining it, before having read it, which is ridiculous, disregarding the fact that the work in question isn’t even in existence yet. In addition to that, it struck me as meaningful to consider a the time, should you receive that excerpt, what is to be done if, in rigorous scrutiny and minute precision with which I step in front of any thinking work, I conclude that the page I gave you isn’t right, that it needs to be changed, must be changed, but now that it has been seen, read and judged cannot be changed? It would end any work, not just my work. No, no, you see, it is impossible to dissect thinking in such a manner, is what I would tell her in such occasions. These elaborate explanations of mine were always met with silence which at first I took to be a sign of understanding, however, having been exposed to this wordless treatment time and again as a result of recurring demands to give her a written excerpt of my work, I realized that taciturn focus on her painting, book, meal, or whatever else she was occupied with at the time of my explanation, was nothing but a negligence on her part to acknowledge what I was saying, devoting attention more often than not to the canvas standing in the middle of the room instead, not giving any signs towards speaking up or making a comment on a lengthy disquisition I pursued with a deliberate care, ignoring me as if not having posed any question beforehand basically, while subduing my reasoning towards consideration whether she’s indeed trying to drive me insane.
It is easy for her, I find myself observing and noting while standing in the middle of the black room now, not easy for painters in general, but for her, to produce a work of art. All she has to do is to feel up for it, take her brushes, start painting and some five or six hours later there is a work of art, perhaps not of particular class, yet art nonetheless. But it is so much harder for me, not for thinkers in general, but for me, to produce a written work. Irrespective of my feelings about it, seeing how I feel predisposed towards writing every day, I have to sit down and prepare myself, order and arrange everything around the desk and the shelves, check allocation all over, sort everything around me, the chair and all the notes, along the covers, go through the preparatory routine, place the paper correctly, preserve highest concentration, etc., and I have been doing all that for years now and still haven’t wrote a word. I could see myself, standing as I was in the black room, passing through the living room, on my way to the kitchen perhaps, or simply to rest, passing while my living companion was painting, throwing colors all over the white canvas, and while scrutinizing her at work I (can) could notice her subtly noting, whispering, You haven’t published anything, she would say in a barely audible tone, imperceptible almost, before turning around and repeating it in my face, nothing, that’s what you’ve wrote so far, I could (can) hear her saying, though she never said any of this, only I imagine her saying it constantly. She parades her ides on a canvas every few days, while I keep thinking of the first thought about the psychology poetry book to be written, sitting in my chair considering solutions and variations about possible beginning, all the while arranging pencils on the desk before me. It is unbearable at times, I think to myself.
Feeling thirst again all of a sudden, I realize that I didn’t quench it before, when I felt the need for some refreshment. Therefore, I make way to the kitchen in order to have a glass of water. Getting there I start to think about how much time have I spent reflecting? I must be careful about my time and especially about ostensibly inactive but productive hours. Falling carelessly into reflecting, as I am prone to do, sets me back considerably in work efforts. On the one side I lose time spent while reflecting, but I also have to take into account time needed to get over the time lost. That is why I practice extreme caution regarding time, trying to make the most of it. We all have, after all, limited amount of time on our hands. Having gulped a whole glass of water, the thirst I had been feeling up until now was finally quenched. Could I have avoided headache had I had a refreshing glass at the time of first feeling thirsty, I wonder. Feeling invigorated while returning the glass on the shelf, I conclude how I might have prevented, or at least assuaged, any pain I had experienced indeed. But what use in knowing this when the pain is already gone, it strikes me to observe. No use at all, I say out loud, shrugging my shoulders and making way back to the black room. On my way there I notice the canvas of my living companion standing right in the middle of the living room. I don’t mind it taking place there, even though it is preventing anyone from taking a rest in the living room, due to work equipment being all around, since I spend most of the time in the black room, concerned with efforts my own. However, standing there alone in front of it I entertained the thought of moving the canvas, thinking, What if I moved the canvas, placed it in the corner of the room? What then? Wouldn’t there be more space to sit and enjoy observing her work? And as I thought about it I could see my living companion accusing me at once of trying to ruin her work, wreck her painting in the process, probably because I found it holding the greatest potential and couldn’t stand it, feeling threatened by her success, because otherwise I wouldn’t attempt to ruin and wreck it, susceptible to practicing indifference as I am. She would accuse me of attempting to ruin her painting by not showing indifference and also hold me in contempt for being indifferent most of the time. On the one hand, hold me responsible for daring to move and destroy her painting being affected by it, and on the other, rebuke me for being indifferent all the time. Pursuing her relentlessness in contempt for both my practice of indifference to the point of insulting her, in fact, and for exhibiting effrontery and having indecency to drop indifference in order to devastate her work in progress. If feeling up for it, I could even imagine her proceeding to make a tormentor out of me. You are a tormentor, it was not beyond me to imagine her saying, if you weren’t you could be an interesting person, she would tell me as she has a habit of saying, even a loving person, but no interesting and loving person is a tormentor, isn’t he? she would dare to shout at me, perhaps; and what of your dealings with others, are there any relationships with them, no, because you do the only thing you are capable of, you torment. And as I imagined her yelling all this at me now, while standing before the canvas in the living room, I was trying to think of a description that would suit her, not me, but her, more accurately than the one which she would, and had used to, throw at me, not at herself, but at me, and yet I could not find one. Always using words I keep to myself, drawing them out of me in connection with others and throwing them not at those from which they are withheld, but at me, on myself, time and again, it strikes me as appropriate to affirm. Observing the canvas, I perceive again some noise suspecting this must be her coming back. However, it is not her, it is only the noise of my moving the canvas. I catch myself out of nowhere moving it a bit to the right. Observing the new position I find it making no sense, so place it back. I should return, I think to myself, rest five or ten minutes and then try to work.
Entering the black room I proceed to take my seat upon the desk, hoping to reach concentration required for the work on the psychology poetry book. My living companion is still out, I cannot but observe, and given the hour that means she will be staying out for the whole night. Such development of situation would be most in accordance with all efforts to start with work, I think to myself. Being alone is stimulating towards any mental endeavor and I always find myself uninhibited to provoke and develop thinking further under isolation. Unobstructed by many hindrances, which people are inclined to produce even unwillingly and unaware, once relieved of them we are able to put ourselves into the right frame of mind and, achieving apogee in our mental readiness and concentration, set ourselves about thinking with utmost auspiciousness otherwise unattainable. In view of this I am left nonplussed by undeniable need most people exhibit to constantly enjoy company of one or another kind. Each time they are left alone they take such an occasion, most advantageous in my mind, as some sort of self-sacrifice, thinking they are missing out on something or even falling in dejection because of it, when, in fact, we are missing out most of the time when we are compelled to spend it with other people. It is a paradox of a modern time, it is often said, but I take it a fancy expression people use to make themselves bearable, in their own eyes, unable to observe disgusted countenance in the mirror looking back at them in those few occasions when they are left alone and miserable because of it. In fear of being totally isolated, which indeed amounts to misery, we hurl ourselves instead into masses with unnatural eagerness, holding this annihilation of character preferable to being alone. No, of course not ultimate solitude, ultimate misery and suffering, but even less ultimate attachment and ultimate immersion to the point of self-negation, which from total immersion leads nowhere but to self-obliteration and self-deletion. And yet people don’t see this. They don’t think and ask themselves can such inseparableness bring anything but detriment? I have only to imagine myself being in an infinite company of any man or woman, a great man or woman, in the company of Kant or Dickinson, and I am immediately disgusted at the prospect of spending with them continually any more than a few weeks. They would engross me immensely at first, without a doubt, possess me completely, but how long such engrossment and possession would last before turning tedious, stifling? Soon, I suspect, I would find their company growing dull, not able to devour my attention as beforehand, loosening its grip over me, being almost pleased on my own as much as in their company after a while, and after some more time stifling would turn into downright annoyance, I imagine, with these people bringing my assumption of their company to a level of irritation. And there is no big difference with a baker, builder, or a back alley lady, who are equally capable of providing pleasurable company and with whom I could also manage some similar time without going insane. In fact, I imagine that due to (often) developed conceit and condescension in people well known, qualities repellent in their nature, more time could be spent with so called common folk before the phase of stifling would occur, though, it should be observed, they would make a short work out of that phase, providing us with either engrossment or blatant annoyance. But what’s the use, I think to myself. Despite apparent self-destructiveness, which spending any prolonged period of time with anyone must be tantamount to, we are time and again faced with people who yearn all day to finish work, go to a nearest tavern, bar or a pub, and get together always with the same people, managing to drive pleasure from these incomprehensible gatherings, filled with recurrent, derivative themes, ironically recognized as such even amidst its participants, who eventually finish their evening filled with unfailing hope that tomorrow more of the same will ensue, as if their whole existence depended on it. And perhaps it does, I find myself wondering. It makes sense, after all, to consider their lives not being their own after surrendering personal identity to the company they identify themselves with. Only amidst this inseparableness can one determine who and what they are really like. If one was to intercept one of these secured, self-assured, know-it-all in their company hotshots, on the street, however, and ask them few simple introductory questions, I imagine all one would get in response would be floundering inability to formulate sensible sentences, patent lack of self-confidence, and lamentable disorientation. Only in a group, as a part of a mass which gives them meaning, do they feel like themselves and truly alive. On the street, in their homes and alone, they simply vegetate. Ultimate inseparableness adding up to ultimate debility, but also ultimate solitude boiling down to ultimate misery, I note to myself, thinking how I should take out a blank piece of paper again, as I sit in the black room attempting to reach necessary concentration for beginning with work. Moderation is preferable, though more towards a significant level of solitude, certainly more in that direction, and surely not the other way around, I find myself affirming. It has to be said, however, that I was always aware of the impossibility of existing all alone on your own. That I understood from my earliest childhood. Solitude may be to one’s preferences, but if one shares preferences to existence as well, then he must part ways with ultimate solitude. Ultimate solitude is possible only in death. Moderation, I affirm yet once again, out loud this time, though quite towards significant degree of solitude, I conclude.
Thinking of this, I remembered my living companion assuring me on many occasions how it is me missing out on what people can offer, all the while indulging utter maliciousness in her assurance. You are ignorant, she would repeat to me time and again, is there a head on your shoulders or is it just a thick mass of boiled down stupidity, I could hear her saying even now. And she would pursue this enervating reiteration, making out of my head stubborn pumpkin that needs good bashing, as she notes still, though not as often, pursue this folly not shying away even from calling me a withered pumpkin and an already dead man, making out of me a living corpse, as she often found it amusing to observe, not mitigating her relentless efforts to point this out while laughing at me, over and over again, repeating, noting and observing how I am already done, never satisfying herself with a single observation, because she had to keep pointing it out to me, saying and repeating and stating, always to the detriment of focus I was trying to achieve and maintain, stating, asserting and asking age of me also, at times, demanding of me to tell her my age though refusing an answer, ordering me to prove what I must have been thinking to say, without saying it. How old are you? she would shout, and then, don’t you dare answering, don’t you dare, she would threaten, keeping this maddening scheme in effect for the longest stretches of time. Constantly asking and denying an answer, repeating and causing me disturbance, in time and in a few occasions I even fell to bringing her a certificate noting thirty five years exactly, at which point I remember her bursting out in laughter stating, Parade your certificates elsewhere, I see an old man before me. Dead pumpkin! she would say and laugh, and laugh and say, not relieving any of the pressure to destroy me until I would realize such behavior annihilating to my work. This eventually led me to agreeing to whatever she was saying; stating, you are right, of course you are, no doubt about it, you are right, yes, I agree, etc., at which point she had a habit of demanding of me to accompany her somewhere so she could prove to me that she was right. It was in this and similar kind of diabolical manner that she tricked me into going with her on all those social affairs during the time we’ve been living together, always using my work against me by jumping in-between us, making me indulge company of participating citizens, positively unwilling and forced in order to resume with work at some point. Each of these occasions, six or seven of them, I attended half-unconscious, driven almost to the point of madness previously by relentless deviousness on behalf of my living companion.
Drained and manipulated, I recall accompanying her once to some social affair with the promise of meeting not boring and mediocre, but original and interesting people. Due to mental fatigue I found myself falling susceptible and succumbing to the idea, or at least thought it relieving of stress to force myself into believing that is the case, losing my better judgment while going hand in hand with her. I can see us, as if it’s happening now, entering the venue at which affair, or social gathering as many call it, was taking place. Entering along my living companion, at once I realized how contemptible lack of resolution to resist her malicious whims was; how reprehensible was my inability to trust myself and my experiences which, time and again, proved me that no such thing as social gathering exists, only dull masses of people even more dully populating certain place at a certain time. Two people, three people at most, that is the maximum social capacity for sustaining any meaningful endeavor, intellectual or emotional. Or four people, with four edging out of my capabilities, but not everyone’s capabilities. In the case of my living companion, I could even be so rude in the face of common sense to note that five people is her maximum capacity, but for most cases three, and in my one or none. So we entered the venue, with the venue being large hall adjoining several rooms in a lofty house, and immediately upon entering faced not two or three, but somewhere around thirty people. Coming in unwittingly, I noticed all of a sudden my living companion greeting one of her friends on the other side of the room. Looking under my arm I indeed found that her arm was missing, which was understandable since she was on the other side of the room, but perhaps not so understandable or courteous having in mind the promise she made of not leaving my side for a moment while we were there. I shook this thought from my head, realizing that she tried to get me out of the house by any means necessary and for my own good. No thought about her being all the time with me ever crossed her mind, with the idea being too ludicrous to entertain even for me, having given it some consideration. Still, I can’t leave, I remember thinking, such an act could be considered a direct insult. Therefore, I looked for any place where I wouldn’t be bothered or have a chance to do the same, finding myself scuffing in place at the edge of the room, waiting for an opportunity to dispose a comfortably looking chair of a presents resting on it. After a few minutes, I decided to remove the presents and place them on the floor without any shame, making sure I never pointed my eyes in their direction, since doing so, though rather understandable an action if something was to be moved away safely, is all it’s needed to suffer being considered rude provincial indulging his weakness at watching contents of bags not his own. Of course, the minute I did this, I regretted my decision to keep eyes on some woman and not on the bags themselves, on a woman with a rather dark hair observing me in all my ineptitude to indulge propriety and common sense, observing me with a noticeable amusement, I thought, while I maintained my eyes on her, trying to place myself in a chair in a way that would arouse least commotion among the present mass. Acting leisurely in an attempt to place the bags on the floor didn’t do me much good. At the moment I trusted myself to have succeeded, the woman laughed out loud, but no one else paid any attention to it. Perhaps I took it to be louder than it really was, which is entirely possible, especially considering notable embarrassment I was feeling while seeing a few bottles of wine rolling on the floor consequently. Quickly taking the bottles, I reflect, I’ve put them back in the bag while placing the latter on another empty chair nearby, which, regrettably, I didn’t notice before. Now I only needed to look up and face amused countenance, having already realized my plan of sitting down. But I was sitting down, and the fact itself encouraged me to take all the mocking that was to be rightfully thrown at me head on. Therefore, I raised my head, from one moment to the next, but I realized that the dark haired woman was nowhere to be seen. All the other guests, on the other hand, were succumbing to ever louder music and distorted movements, latter of which I found lacking in both skill and delicacy. I remember looking around and thinking to myself: dullness, colorlessness and monotony, that’s all there is to it. What I like about people is that what I cannot assume by observing them, but since people dress and act nowadays in a way to present themselves as much as possible and in any possible way, I am left disinterested in them. Therefore, I sat myself as comfortably as I could in the chair, assuming disposition most counter to that practiced at these occasions – enjoying lack of personal participation all throughout. Of course, I was left to myself at first, but I had no doubts such pleasant position will not last long. Soon someone would deem oneself offended or deserving of better company so he would seek another. Or else he(she) would be treated condescension so would seek an opportunity to indulge one his(her) own. Ostensible reasons for people poking into other’s affairs are innumerable at social affairs. I have no need to pursue such stultifying contrivances, but when I am served with such I feel entitled to entertain a bit of stimulating playfulness. Answering on all questions in the most basic manner, if at all, keeping to myself, while at the same time assuming and evincing kindness and courtesy to the greatest extent, cordiality and behavior altogether appealing to one’s curiosity, I proceeded to discomfort interlocutors by denying them possibility of assessing my character, hindering their attempts to put their finger on my personality, remaining imponderable in the face of all eagerness behind their efforts. It is remarkable how unacceptable in its intrigue this behavior seems to people. It cannot be coped with. There is a certain incentive in all individuals towards scrutinizing, I find, which we use as a means to discern and function with our environment. As long as we can characterize another in some way, even in a meaningless way such as – good, short, silent, unfriendly, open-minded, etc.; attributes all of which are subject to change in perception from one day to the next, we can find peace in deduction and say to ourselves, ah, so he’s a short friendly fellow, or, aha, he is silent but not unfriendly, or, for instance, he is talkative to such an unfriendly extent, and by affirming this, or else of the kind, we appease not only our curiosity, but some insatiable compulsion as well, unnerving in its nature to reach a conclusion, accomplishing this by whatever means and to whatever end, incapable of facing the lingering enigma. I imagine people leaving their homes and, while walking, noticing not faces of other fellow men, but eyeless and mouthless countenances with attached paper notes where expressions should rest. Those known least are decorated with a small amount of notes on their forehead; those known better are gifted with a few on their cheeks, and the ones known best cannot be seen because of all the notes on their faces. This perverse folly has taken a deep root, continuing its progress rather shamelessly. Notes on faces, paper faces and no expressions or character. That is why, when amidst masses, I enjoy stripping myself of any number of peculiarities, many of which I can take shame in, denying masses attaching any notes to me. Upon seeing someone without a note on his forehead they feel insecure and even threatened, so they launch at once, as I was sure they were about to then, with questions, trying to assign at least a few notes, at which point one should, as I certainly did, carefully place answers in a way as to not reveal anything. Deny them satisfaction of placing a note on your forehead, I always say to myself, thinking how doing so is an effort against labeling society and mind murder. Sitting in the chair it struck me how the music was getting louder, and the noise more unbearable. What amazed me was the fact that some time before, when the music was more or less still silent, all the people kept pursuing same type of loquacity, hardly anyone talking or making any such an attempt. One could see abundance of awkwardness and inability to adapt, quite similar to my own conduct. However, when the music started playing, it was evident all of them began talking, without any theoretical chance to hear each other, music deafening any sensible voice after all, but everyone seemingly enjoying empty opening of mouth to and fro, which gradually made way to hand signaling and laughter at mutual lack of understanding. I wasn’t slow to realize this making sense, owing to majority of people not possessing any means for conducting interesting or intriguing conversation, hence eagerly welcoming any opportunity to display unfortunate and apparent circumstantial inability for coherent talking, while betraying actual inability and incessant absence of coherence. The more one laughs at one’s inability to hear, understand and talk, due to the noise around, the more one is lacking in his actual ability to hear, understand and talk, due to oneself. Entertaining this thought I sensed myself laughing at the time, finding it rather obvious truth even when taken out of the context of noises, for surely the more one was laughing at one’s own inability to hear, understand and talk, due to any reason whatsoever, the more one was a dimwit. There was comfort in this perversity, them laughing at themselves and me laughing at myself, wondering who was deriving more pleasure each in our own nonsense. However, while I didn’t meet my natural grounds in the perversity of my behavior, it struck me they did find their natural grounds in theirs. In fact, I could not but notice how it is precisely on those grounds, filled with shallowness, dissemblance and camouflage, most of the present found themselves where they felt most congenital to their characters. They don’t speak for themselves, they let their camouflage speak for them and that is their normal state. You want to meet people and yet find yourself surrounded by silent interlocutors until one or another thing occurs, making clear, fluid conversation impossible, and then they come into their own, apparently quite eager to talk and joke and laugh. One moment, they find it uncomfortable and displeasing to talk for themselves acting on their own, and the other, they feel most natural in letting their dissemblance put up a word for them. This I can understand, somewhat, because I too often find it pleasing to indulge dissemblance when facing that which I do not wish to face, common trait of a weak character, but I’m left speechless at realizing that such dissembling performance, contemptible and reserved for dire situations as one would assume, is the true natural habitat of many people, indeed of most around us, and conduct through which they finally fall into their own forte. While I would think one is eager to do everything in one’s power to escape such circumstantial inconvenience, coming to a place where one feels most comfortable and able to be oneself, it took a single look around the room, at the time, to prove myself wrong by characters who felt comfortable only during dissembling act, personal camouflage, only in the course of this personal disguise, making me realize their true nature lies in concealment of what they are, upon ending of which they stagger into their own selves with great pathos and disbelief. I should question significant number of personal assumptions regarding those around me, I recall considering, but I failed giving rise to any such ponderous contemplation, feeling incapable of any demanding mental effort, as well as threatened by the possible results of such an attempt. Therefore, I took another glassful, not paying attention to the empty ones around me, while managing to maintain playfulness of my own in the face of all those meaningless smiles around me. Still, contrary to the blissfulness and general cheerfulness of all present, which weren’t mitigating in their intensity, I was soon assuaged by my own laughter, being able to amuse at nonsense, no matter how witty self-found, only for a short time. I had to find myself another source of distraction, and wishing to find it in myself and not in matters relating to others present, I started thinking, who are these people? Those losing themselves in the noise and senseless laughter beyond any common sense or delicacy, indulging nonsense for the sake of mingling to the fullest extent, were necessary clowns for the sake of a good air in the room, I gather, but not all were laughing without restriction. There were many present, it could be observed. I recall seeing an actor in the one corner, and a capable lawyer in the other. At the table, two painters were trying to talk, shrinking one beside the other, and just behind the door, three financially apt gentlemen, well versed in matters of entrepreneurship, kept hiding whatever they were trying to say with the palms of their hands. Both artists and capitalists made their appearance, if one was even capable of distinguishing the two. Any number of people occupied with dealings related to their education, and vice versa, education occupying itself with a number of people. Many of them comparing their worth through means of jobs, prizes, diplomas and certificates, scaling merits all around, I thought to myself, while observing how, despite of all devotion and dedication to the psychology poetry book, I possessed no certificate indicating any kind of knowledge in the matter. Certainly no certificate of being a psychology poetry book writer. In fact, I am averse to psychology as it is known. All those people calling themselves experts, messing with human minds and ruining them beyond recognition in a matter of weeks. Psychiatrists daring to claim themselves knowing what is best for an individual, amounting to sheer ludicrousness. Study of the mind, science of the mind, not treatment of the mind. Psychology as a science, meaning thinking, meaning learning, and then presenting thinking in order to further provoke it in people, amounting to people treating themselves as they deem it fit in view of their own unique characters with which they are most familiar. No, certainly not a psychologist. Not to mention a writer or an author. Thinking person, I prefer to consider myself, rather rare calling as of late. The certificate I do possess is one which bears some title or degree, I suspect not shameful one, in economics and human resources. It occurred to me then, while sitting in the chair, wondering if I’d been present enough time to leave without inducing in my living companion agitation, that I attended some such educational facilities and was, at the end of education they provide, bestowed with a proof indicating apparent success at such an endeavor. I could not say, however, that I gained benefits or appreciation of that achievement, because, even putting an effort, I could not remember where I would find this proof should I be possessed of a wish to do so. Instead, I placed my mental focus into determining was there any reason whatsoever for making an effort to attain those pieces of paper, while maintaining focal point on the dark haired woman who was laughing nearby, making me unsure if she was just another unrestrained character craving for simple amusements, or perhaps had a bit too much to drink. Pondering on this, I found no reason for endeavoring any effort already endeavored, especially considering my almost destitute state which ran somewhat contrary to my alleged faculties, proving them not useless, as one would think, but simply unused due to personally being disinterested in matters of material nature, finding them without significant meaning, though immediately correcting myself, noting how I wouldn’t mind at all living on my own in a modest household, without any worries about paying the bills, situation I thought (think) would affect my work greatly in the direction of positive. So no reason or use, I told myself, none whatsoever, but then a thought about the psychology poetry book emerged within my mind, and about thinking in general, and work in general, and while trying to restore the focal point on the dark haired woman, who was lost to my eyes, holding another empty glass in my hand similar to the one I thought the dark haired woman was holding, not me, but her, yet obviously me, I deemed it appropriate to pamper a bit of vanity, finding all worthless papers rather useful to the extent of putting them between me, useless on account of work concerning the psychology poetry book and depraved character by virtue of behavior pursued then, cheerfully aware of both uselessness and depravity, between me and all other useless and depraved characters who were present, blissfully unaware of their uselessness and depravity. Out of nowhere, I found myself, to personal amazement, virtually shoving those papers into the faces of all present who thought of themselves better than everyone else, who found themselves unable to talk about anything else but themselves and their so called achievements, having achieved nothing, at least nothing worth mentioning. I wrote this book, it was a huge success, I lip read one man, it is about her falling in love and him, him is complicated and wants to run elsewhere, and as I lip read this illiterate, both by himself and publicly proclaimed bestselling author, I took my virtual papers and shoved them into his mouth. The more he subconsciously indulged his need to use “I” in every sentence that came out of his mouth, not out of his mind, but out of his mouth, the more virtual papers I shoved at him. Soon I realized that no amount of virtual papers was enough to shove at all those present who found holding themselves in high esteem, especially in front of others, an idea of most enjoyable amusement. But is it actually so as it seems to me? I recall reflecting in horror. Clapping my hand against forehead, I had to admit to myself, they are right, they are the truth! What could I say to them, I, with years’ worth of blank papers stored in the black room, before them, who sat upon their desks and canvases with notebooks or accounts, dropping words and filling pages which were widely appreciated, used and read? I, who suffered of not being able to reach needed concentration at all times, pursuing it relentlessly as work itself to the point of utter exhaustion, before them, who found anything unrelated to their work superfluous as it should be, and felt no burden whatsoever in indulging any kind of work they are most suitable with, as it is supposed to be. I, who was unable to think, before them, who were perfectly able to laugh and think and talk even amidst such confusion as the social gathering appeared to be. I, who would have felt unmistakably more embarrassed seeing someone doing something embarrassing, like accidently letting bottles of wine roll on the floor, than the person doing it, with the latter finding it even amusing and forgetting it a minute later, contrary to me, innocent bystander, who, unable and ashamed at the thought of laughing at any such situation, would have felt most potent impulse to feign, pretend not seeing what happened in order to spear both of us embarrassment, especially myself, feeling rather guilty for making other person even more embarrassed just because of a mishap, a mere hand slip, unless I would’ve been taken to such an extent by compassionate embarrassment, that I would find it appropriate to give a hand at gathering these bottles, after which I could, perhaps, put it behind me and breathe normally again. I cannot say anything to them, I thought to myself, watching all the while the affair unfolding before me, while sensing the influence of ethanol spreading within me, trying to deduce which one of those would nauseate me first, feeling under the weather right from the start as I was. Aware that, if left to myself, I would come to my senses and find fault with all the present, denigrating them in the process and proclaiming as far from the truth as they could be, I looked to some company hoping to distract myself. Hearing loud chatter nearby I caught a word about a man present at this event who was not only uninvited, but came alone and knowing he was not welcome. This caught my curiosity, and I must admit I looked up and searched for the source of this chatter, not to eavesdrop on their conversation, but to try seizing malicious glazes I was sure at least someone would be throwing at this intriguing gentleman. My assumption proved correct, because not one, but more or less all chatter participants, one at the time, of course, were trying to prove their worth by condemning this persona, maintaining that the more contemptible and longer their condemning gaze, the more admirable and worthy they themselves would seem. Perversions of this kind exercise regular appearance at festivities as the one in question, and not only appearance, because this twisted practice has established itself as a sort of a tradition, one of a kind that quickly grew into irreplaceable social peculiarity, bringing general atmosphere into a much needed state of relaxation and good mood, as it could be seen and proved judging by various smiles and covered grins of all pompous society members present. I looked in the direction of the malicious gazes and caught a glimpse of a gentleman sitting alone in the corner of the room. Besides his being condemned by all the others, there was nothing else about him that would draw my sympathies. I was about to lower my head again, feeling grateful my pervasive behavior was not focused on, when I overheard the chatter of the company around me expressing themselves overtly so that even the gentleman in the corner (and probably for that reason exactly), due to music being in intermission, could hear: despicable! I couldn’t care less what sort of triviality was the underlying cause behind this shameless denigration, knowing full well triviality it must be, because no true depravity would ever be able to pass all the strict regulations my living companion and myself had to pass upon entering, yet still I found myself unable to repel arousing feeling within me, which was sure to develop into revulsion in no time. In order to protect myself from probable onset of paroxysm or any other kind of outburst which held the possibility of shaming both me and my living companion, or rather my living companion only, having found myself, due to constant indulgence, rather inured to any such noble feelings, I gave vent and let a few words escape me by asking nearby company why they torment this man; why not show some compassion, good will and faith in humanity, all of which are distinctive qualities highly valued, without a doubt, and surely present amidst respectful group. The answer was swift and sharp, and though the lady who entertained my impertinence was of aesthetic features deserving dearest fondness, disreputable form of expression she used betrayed other features not so worthy of praise. Showing up uninvited after what he had done to the host? No, that man is certainly not worthy of our compassion. It is hard to believe he somehow managed to get in. True – confirmed the man beside her. He should pray no one throws him out, said the man on the left. Well, he ought to pray in any case, another voice sounded. Yes, joined someone whom I couldn’t see, no one else will pray for him, that’s for sure, he said in ostentatious laughter which many of the present followed through. Gentlemen, I assure you, no ecclesiastical prowess is needed at all to make a man, no matter how much susceptible to depravity, again fall in the grace of our hearts – I said trying not to vomit in the face of volubility I had to assume control over in order to even make my remark noticed – only a bit of cleverness and a touch of rudeness is needed. – Care to elaborate? asked the lady. – With pleasure. You see, I have no doubts, my young lady, that you are a woman possessed of highest qualities and of most esteemed values, an observation she found tasteful nodding thankfully to me, and let’s just consider for a moment that I hold all the values opposite of those I just ascribed to you, merely supposition, though all too possible one, yet possibility without any merit for the matter at hand. If that mentioned were the case, however, I surely wouldn’t think much about holding myself back at calling you despicable wench capable only of disparaging others while trying to better your own position in view of social stairs on which you evidently try your luck at climbing, failing though you are ridiculously at every such an attempt. – How dare… – And assuming further that I have no reason not to speak up the truth, I would perhaps walk to that intriguing man and congratulate him for not keeping company with such a wench as you seem to be, opting rather for denouncement than loss of personal dignity, to which staying in your company and confidence amounts to – I answered with a calm, low voice, aiming honestly at not drawing attention and saying everything in a way as to keep to myself as much as possible. Of course, not one moment later young lady disposed herself significantly of charm and manners, finding it appropriate to shower me with all kinds of violent accusations, harsh and impolite words and phrases, rather unladylike vocabulary, unable to conduct herself according to decorum and agitated to an extent where a host had to appear at the exact place where everyone else was averting their attention, asking, What is going on? The young lady was still out of it when he arrived, but she looked to be gradually restoring her senses, observing how everybody was looking not so much at me, sitting in my chair with confused look on my face, but at her, taking note of her apparent and violent outburst. She turned to her company for help at once, but though all of them wanted to help, none would do so, of course, on account of some supposition of mine, which I noted in the first place to be just so, a means to explanatory end, a fact all of them certainly kept in their awareness during my short narration, not being in danger of losing such an important fact by means of being called, even in an exemplary manner, a wench or despicable social climber, not being pinpointed with accurate truth, that is, which would hurt them deeply though, I suspected, offend them enough to cause a loss of some focus and a bit of manners, as unfortunately happened with the young lady. Seeing all those amused eyes preying on her, and herself unable to forward a word of explanation, I realized every passing second increasing her agony, distress reaching its acme when the host, in the lack of other options, found it appropriate to utter something about wondering, in front of everyone and not to my intention, if I could have really committed anything to have deserved such a violent retribution. At this, I realized unseemliness of my actions, indelicacy and calculation in their despicable fashion, so I jumped from my chair, pronouncing as loud as I could, while retaining calmness and solemnity in my voice as a means of maintaining credulity in my statements, deepest apologies for managing to arouse my young lady to such an extent, all due to personal inability to capture her curiosity in any other less crude of a manner than the one I was unfortunate enough to produce. Taking and kissing her hand, while apologizing again, both to her and to the host, I noticed some drinks conveniently finding their way to the table nearby, creating a perfect opportunity for a conciliating toast in favor of silly trivialities giving birth to long lasting friendships. Raising the glass as high as I could above me, while disgust sank as deep as it was possible within me, I saw our denigrated gentleman in a company of a few, cheerfully talking among themselves and raising their glasses, enjoying their time at expanse of some third party, likely me though, while trying to look better in their own eyes. Somehow I stuttered to another seat, one more covered from the entire crowd, and with the restart of the music fell anxiously into it. No more, I said to myself, no more will you take this false volubility, even as a means of making a point, no longer will you make a fool out of yourself in order to cover total lack of sensible aptitude in others. What am I doing, I asked myself? Let them mask characters with falseness, camouflage insecurities, manage safe footing and self-confidence by taking that same safe footing and self-confidence from others. Stop this nonsense, get up and leave! Run from this voracious succumbing to any depravity indulged in order to be praised, in order to be accepted, while nurturing absence of any personal trait or distinctive quality. Run, I repeated to myself several times, pondering how to get out of this hell. But my living companion is still here, I observed. I tried looking for her, but raising my head was out of option because a sudden headache was making a pitiful mess out of me. With the migraine attacking mercilessly, I could take note of surrounding ten or fifteen feet at most. That could be enough though, because I suddenly thought seeing her. Is she smiling at me, or am I imagining it, I thought to myself, though the latter seems far more probable, I concluded. With utmost effort I drew a bit closer and realized it was her. She was caressing some old men’s shoulder. Disgusting. I made to leave on my own, but a sudden onset of nausea pushed me back in a chair. Trying to keep my head up, so as to prevent vomiting and further making a fool out of myself in front of everyone, as usually happens when amidst large crowd, I turned attention again to my living companion and the old gentleman. He was rich, sickly rich, as could be deduced from his whole attire and an utterly distasteful mustache. A mustache, I noted to myself, an uneven mustache! Even suffering from an extreme, throbbing headache, I made myself observe intently, because I simply couldn’t believe this gentleman had uneven sides of his mustache. But he had! An uneven mustache! And when I noticed he had a habit of stroking his uneven mustache, stroking it unaware, while, in fact, pointing out to everyone how one side of his mustache is considerably shorter than the other one, I burst out laughing, not caring if this would cause me to end up utterly emetic. My living companion flaunted around him, now and then dropping her view on me, showing me she was enjoying herself, thinking that I were as well, owing to laughter that took possession of me. She caressed his shoulder and sleeve while he kept kissing her hand, over and over again, kissing her hand as if playing with a glass of wine. And she let him do it. Gruesome is too weak of a word. But while they were keeping this perverse folly I couldn’t stop laughing. In addition, I was possessed of a curious compulsion to stand up, make my way towards and, upon reaching them, pull the shorter end of the mustache! No matter how hard I tried, even under the influence of an extreme headache, I couldn’t shake off the idea. I kept thinking of going their way and pulling the mustache. Nothing else was in my mind. I found myself ready to make an attempt when the big lights in the room suddenly turned off, freezing me in place prudently and ahead of an unimaginable insolence. Smoother lights appeared, indicating, I imagine, evening quite advanced. In tune with general atmosphere everyone was dancing or talking in a subtle, polite manner, while I kept laughing at the thought of an uneven mustache. My living companion was dancing and talking also, with the old man, and not just with him, of course not, elderly gentleman having been more or less unable to move, except for his mustache, which failed at hiding complete delight at his company, but with another few man, and even a few women, all around her, dancing, caressing, insinuating and talking. It was nauseating and mind deadening sight, so I stopped laughing. Instead, I started thinking how did I even end up there taking part of an occasion so senseless, but having caught a whiff of circumstances that brought me about the affair, I waved my hand, thinking there was no need to ruin myself any further. I sat and observed. Though barely audible, I could hear them speaking, due to music being very low. What could they be talking about, it struck me to wonder. Few words, here and there, did I actually perceive, but that was enough, since I had no wish to hear them talking, only to find out when that nightmare of an evening was going to end. Something about Van Gogh, and then something about another painter. Or a writer. In any case triviality, I took it. But just as I was affirming how they must be talking about one triviality or another, I caught a word about a psychology poetry book in-between them. Startled I turned my attention to what was being said. Indeed, there was some note of poetry, and of psychology, and upon speaking up “book” and then immediately after “triviality”, my living companion burst out in paroxysm of disbelief. Are they looking at me, I tried to discern. At once it became clear they were all, in fact, looking in my direction, looking and observing me to their utmost amusement. Though I couldn’t be sure to what extent, due to headache, moment later I heard laughing, suspecting them mocking me. Outrageous! I made to leave, but failed mustering necessary strength to stand up as my headache was killing me, literally rendering me unmovable, otherwise I would’ve been long up and gone. So I sat there still, drawing deep breaths as they disparaged me, my living companion taking a lead in such an endeavor, presumably telling all kinds of pure lies, mendacities intent upon ruining me, destroying my work, because even if I was to finally write the psychology poetry book, I thought to myself, nobody would find it a serious piece, at least no one in our immediate region, because she made all the possibility of my work receiving benefit of a doubt disappear, just by laughing at me then. The word would spread and it would all be over. But work will be done nonetheless, I suddenly told myself certain of it, the psychology poetry book is considerably thought through and it is exactly because of situations like these that it needs to be thought through to the end, I affirmed. I can’t allow myself the luxury to think of what other people think of me, for in order to do that, it is I who must first think well of myself, it struck me as appropriate to conclude. But you are ruined, I came to think as well, if you look up you’ll see your annihilation, it is over, ruined, over, I kept telling myself, but then – work, thinking and work, that is what’s important, before hearing again in my head, over and ruined, ruined and over, intermittently one and the other, and in thinking about working and thinking and ruination and annihilation, I realized altogether my state of consciousness alarming. I can turn this around, I thought for a moment, turn the tables around, not ruin them, but play with them all, play their game, call them by names, along with some attributes. Divert attention, get out unscathed. It only takes a bit of insolence in one’s mental capacity, and I had an abundance of it fueled with effrontery I’m being served. If I could rid myself of this headache it would be done thing, done thing, I repeated several times. So I raised my hand, lacking strength for other movements, and waved at the company. Waved at them cheerfully, calling for another onset of joint amusement. Raising hand, waving, and smiling at them. Thinking of one thing, but showering them with kindness, nodding at them politely, with delicacy, and getting back some politeness of their own. Signaling them and at the same time uttering few incomprehensible words, making utmost effort to make those words sound cheerful. Most likely they had achieved their aim for I noticed them signaling me in turn that they cannot understand me, explaining inability to hear by pointing to their ears, while beckoning me at the same time to come. Calling me to stand up, come and join their merry company. All of them doing their best to convince me to do so. This is it, I thought to myself, I shall muster up all the strength within and go to them. I will approach them, bow down most politely, to the ground if possible, and then, straightening up, I will reach my hand for a handshake, put forward a hand to be shaken, so that I could, instead of doing just that, simply go further up, lift my hand even higher up in the air and pull the short side of a mustache! Pull the mustache as hard as I can! I caught myself trying to stand up, filled with great enthusiasm, when a gentle touch landed on my shoulder. I turned around and it was her. Looking back and towards the mind deadening company, upon observing a bit more closely and without heavily built up resentment, I was able to see that the woman I thought my living companion, was actually someone else. My living companion was standing by me, giving me medicine for a headache seeing how not well, indeed in poor of a condition I were. She made me drink some pills and I noticed that she was discomforted, though trying to hide it behind a smile. Understandably so, I remember thinking at the time, finding myself unable to put forward a single word. Sitting in the chair with my living companion beside me, I looked at the repulsive company realizing how, with the finishing touch producing its lack, I have been giving signs to that mind deadening crowd, without a doubt signs with ultimate goal of insolence and effrontery, but nonetheless signs which left on their own could be amounted to making curiously polite gestures, especially considering smiles the woman I thought my living companion kept throwing at me, making me ready to stand up and leave, thinking how I might have even unwillingly responded to her passes. Disgusting, is all I could think of my actions. Up and hanging on one another while walking to the taxi, I could see by the look on my living companion’s face what a complete failure that night was. She hated it as much as I did, going to prove her point, but ending up unsuccessful, as could be discerned by observing her wondering countenance betraying signs of disappointment, I concluded at the time.
Sitting at the desk in the black room, now, months after the episode, while adjusting the paper position correctly, I reassure myself once more in the correctness of the decision not to entertain social affairs again, at least not until the psychology poetry book is finished. Of course, my living companion did not abstain from asking me to accompany her after such social mishap. However, contrary to before, for a time she contented herself with a silence on my part as an answer, not insisting further on anything. And yet, after a month or so I noticed her infrequent pleas turning into demands again, and not before long of rather often nature. She even confronted me once, having heard, No, in succession more times than she could bear, by asking, Why are you so misanthropic? To this I responded by telling her to imagine rats, lots of huge rats with long tails, filling streets, crawling on each and every doorstep, and when she winced a bit I said, That’s how it is for me. Immediately as I said this, I realized how inappropriate I was, and untrue also, utterly untrue, but I have to exaggerate for fear of not being understood or taken lightly. Quite a time after I wasn’t a subject of her invitations, up until the last few days when again this to and fro about going out and not going out restarted to the detriment of my work. It must be observed how during this time while left alone, even though I didn’t get anything written, I had significantly progressed in my thought and alacrity concerning the preparatory routine. Perhaps that is why I’m not greatly distressed to realize I’m having slight difficulties this whole evening to place the paper in its borders at the center of the desk. For some reason I keep failing even though I have had no problems in the last few weeks. Could it be due to a paper? Looking at it, I notice it is from a new stack. Fresh paper bought for a bit higher price than usual. I lift it up in the air and observe if there is anything unusual about it. It looks just like any other paper. I look at the paper box where all the other new bought paper is stored and it says A4. But is it A4? It certainly evokes my suspicion. I turn it to the left and to the right, yet, no matter how I look at it, something seems off, as if the paper in my hand is not A4 paper, which is simply crucial to my work. So I stand up and go to the mathematical drawer, as I call the drawer where I keep the liners, pens and pencils, and taking out the liner set myself about measuring the paper before me. And indeed! They are smaller, whole two millimeters smaller! I pick up another paper from the paper box in order to measure it as well. The same result! Therefore, I have no other option but to pick up the whole heap of empty papers and throw them in the trash can. Outrageous! I think to myself. You take the money, and go to a shop, so called paper specialized shop, and instead of the correct paper, the A4 paper precisely asked for, you get the one that is incorrect. I check my wallet to see how much money I have, that is, not to see how much money I have, but to inspect if I have enough money to get a new pack of blank papers, and since I did have enough money, I decide to go out and buy some. On my way to the kitchen it strikes me to consider, however, that it is well after midnight, conclusion inducing me to realize how there are no paper shops open at this hour. Agitated significantly I return to the black room thinking, What if I am to suddenly feel a rush to start writing? What if out of nowhere I come up with a correct first thought concerning the psychology poetry book and instead of writing it down I am left sitting at the desk having nothing appropriate to write on! This I couldn’t stand envisioning, setting myself therefore with utter rigorousness about forgetting anything concerning work, removing everything about the psychology poetry book out of my mind for the sake of both mind and work. At first, I was quite successful in achieving this, preoccupying all strength and efforts with keeping focus away from work, but after a few comforting moments, time during which all consciousness wandered aimlessly and satisfied because of that, I found myself facing the irrefutable fact that I have nothing else to think about. For so long I’ve been immersed in thinking and work that now I can’t work myself around not thinking. This impulse not to think is an attempt to prevent work from being severely damaged due to inability to note it down and preserve. While doing my best not to think about work and to not think about having nothing else to think about, which brings me back to thinking about work again, my mind recalled an observation that my living companion made only a few weeks before: Aren’t you documenting your weakness by not writing? I am no expert, but it seems to me that each and every day you don’t write you are documenting your lack of character. Supposedly it’s a dangerous thing, that lack of character. Do you sit up in the morning at your desk and take your pencil, doing everything else with it but writing? That’s a sign of lack of character according to an article I read just recently. It said that writers who suffer such affliction should imagine themselves virtually writing on the blank sheet of paper – weak character, weak character – line after line – you are a weak character – and very soon they will realize that instead of hundreds and thousands of virtual pages, they would do better with one or two actually written. At least that’s what the article said. Who knows though. I’ll be going out now. Do try not to think about it too much. And to think of and remember this at such a time! She may have said it in a fit, having learned that I denied entry to some of her visitors earlier that day, seeing them off our doorstep by claiming that my living companion is not present, when, in fact, she was, but she said it nonetheless, putting a devious effort in such an observation as well. Struck by severe uneasiness, I suddenly felt sick. With blurred vision there was no possibility of endeavoring mental effort about anything. Standing up and making way for the bed, I try to calm myself thinking it would be best if I could fall asleep. I close my eyes hoping for that to happen, but it doesn’t happen and I find myself observing instead how it is always a good fortune to be struck by some uncomfortable illness not bearing existential risk.
Any such illness makes us observe what is important and what is not, what is meaningful and what isn’t, something which few are apparently capable of otherwise, or not capable in nearly enough aptitude when healthy. Health breeds unawareness, if not downright ignorance, regarding cognizance of matters holding any worth to us. Always thinking thoughts that matter when threatened only, upon finding ourselves in situations we cannot see through to the end. This inability to hold certainty concerning matters we take for granted brings us evident uneasiness, and we act upon this uneasiness fully aware now how nothing is certain, devoting attention to that which we find important being certain that is the right thing to do. On account of this, I developed a habit of putting myself into such a state of mind where I’m able to convince myself of being struck by some serious disease, making myself constantly recognize matters of significance anew, and due to being aware of them, capable of indulging in them inasmuch I can manage. Such mental attitude is one of the reasons I hold thinking and work in high esteem, while at the same time considering everything else relentlessly uninviting, ending up in the process, though not strictly yearning for it, rather alone with my thoughts.
When I spoke of this to my living companion she looked at me in disbelief, claiming I have no need to act so sickly in nature on account of recognizing what is important, because I am obviously suffering from serious mental illness already, and to an extent where only that which is irrelevant remains in my head. You are held prisoner, she told me, and by none other than this excuse for a man who is supposed to write the psychology poetry book. You are guided by his failures, which are really your failures. I’m certain you know this. Or you don’t and it actually makes sense to you that some workaholic bogeyman is taking hold of your humanity and destroying it. Boo-Hoo. Taking hold and turning it into fallacy. As of late, you do not seem capable thinking of anything else but of failure regarding work. Honestly, it looks your life has shrunk to this one work, one book, as you say thought provoking and rather rebellious work, perhaps nothing short of a revolutionary work, but, one way or another, still a work! Look at it how you like, still only a work! No matter how observed, work only, and, as you yourself say, work that has yet to meet its first sentence. Or you mean to say you’ve started it? You did? Well show me! No? Suit yourself then. If you’re thinking that having a cold helps you write, do open the window, just don’t try jumping out, sidewalk has just been remade, is what she told me. In order for me to exist from one day to another I have to think my work is important and significant, because if that weren’t the case, I would find my life meaningless and end up doing myself in, is the basic summary behind her words. What she failed to realize, or at least say out loud, suspecting as I am she was aware of it, is that the same applies to everything else. We have to trick ourselves into believing how one thing or another is significant and worthwhile if we are to find our existence meaningful. We wake up, get up and are possessed of self-instilled belief how our friendships, for instance, are genuine and are able to go on from there, convincing ourselves in the meaningfulness of our belief. Or we take love into consideration and assure ourselves therein lies the key, using love to justify the belief. But is there any meaning in our belief, is the right question. And further, if there is no meaning, as all of us suspect at one point or another, to what extent are we able to further nurture that which we previously thought meaningful? That is what she omitted noting, doubting though she probably and needlessly was if she can hope to value something with or without any basis to a meaningless extent I do, concerning thinking and work. Her doubts are taking possession of her as much as ponderousness of thinking is weighing down on me, I think to myself, because, whenever I do crash into my bed, exhausted and fatigued, yet incapable of relieving myself of thinking and working even in that comatose state, lingering in the black room possessed of enough conviction to risk ruination, she comes to my door knocking and asking if I’m asleep; knocking and hitting and shouting, doing her best to find out if I’m actually asleep or only lying down, unable to calm herself until sure of one or another. On every occasion inquiring about what I’m doing, asking if I’m writing, what I’m writing, and what I’m reading, questioning me if I’m thinking about anything while I’m reading and also about what if I am. Her interruptions are ceaseless inasmuch as my work is. Calling and asking without letup, always aimed towards ruination of my work and concentration, I think it thoughtful to observe, while realizing that much of anxiety and nausea I was feeling, subsided in the meantime.
If only she would come in the early morning, when I fall asleep, then I could wake up with her being asleep, proceeding with work uninterrupted. And then it strikes me. Of course, start all work on the psychology poetry book with interruptions and then, disposing of one after another, continue with the actual work. First interruptions as introduction, and then continue from there on so as to improve from one thought to another. This approach seemed most propitious, so I got up to note it down. Realizing, however, that I lack appropriate means to do so, I sat down instead, focusing myself on re-evaluating and storing in mind what seemed to me a possible breakthrough in work concerning the psychology poetry book. Thinking of all interruptions I concluded I had them in abundance, meaning I could start with precise introduction, preparing state of mind for subsequent thinking demanding of the highest concentration, but concentration supplemented with the knowledge of numerous interruptions, hence made easier to achieve and maintain. Possessed of self-assurance I set myself about storing this in my mind along every peculiarity that presented itself on its own in the process of storing itself. It is exactly what I hoped would happen, thinking improving and supplementing itself by the selfsame act of thinking, with the exception being I am not writing all this down due to missing appropriate paper. But don’t brood about it, I tell myself, it is irrelevant. What is relevant is to store and develop this idea to the point where it will be ready for noting down when noting down is possible. Think, develop and store, and once stored preserve until the time comes. But think not conclusively, only in a roundabout manner, since conclusive thinking means conclusive results, therefore, no psychology poetry book, because such work must be started from the highest point of awareness and then improved from there on. Think, but don’t reach, aim only. Amidst this rush of enthusiasm I am struck with awareness that there are movements within the household. Listening carefully, I assume my living companion must be back and making herself comfortable on the sofa. She must have crashed in it, I observe, hearing noises similar to those of air being pressed out of the seat due to pressure. I listen intently and not a moment after I can hear her yawning in a tired manner, calling for me. While I’m doing my best to store in my mind means of possible breakthrough in my work, she keeps calling for me incessantly, asking me to come, not knowing that I have envisioned the whole introduction without being able to note it down, envisioned overture quite propitious after hours spent in extreme agitation. Constantly telling me to come, sounding considerably discomforted, just at the moment when I thought succeeding in storing everything in my mind, suffering from nausea as I still was. Telling, at first, then calling and asking, but in no time demanding of me to appear before her, during the mental storing process amidst which I kept looking all around to see if I could catch sight of appropriate paper to note down the idea. I shouldn’t have thrown all that paper in a trash, I think to myself. Concentration is sapping away from me as a result of peremptory tone my living companion maintains, tone of voice impolite, yet bearing a touch of dismay. No, I assure myself, I will not let her disrupt the moment of clearness again, occurrence of clarity and genuine inspiration, is what I affirm. I will store first few interruptions, creating a point from where on it will be possible to continue. Yet I hear her calling me over and over again, calling, asking and demanding, evidently making utmost of an attempt to disrupt my focus. So I concentrate even harder, apply focus with more fervor in order to deplete her voice from my perception, and in doing so, trying not to let her get to my awareness, I end up focusing on eliminating her voice with such intensity that in that immense concentration I forget the idea that was to be the source of my introduction. I try to remember it but I can’t. Perhaps when I’m calmed a bit, I think, but what if unable to reach calm, due to forgetting the idea, I erase it without any hope of retrieval. If I don’t fall asleep in the next hour I won’t sleep at all and then it is all over. But out of nowhere I remember the idea again. I take possession of the idea again while being called to come out of the black room. Agitated I walk around however, disregarding the idea now, annoyed at my living companion for indulging her malicious whims, though mad at myself for being so weak as to let her affect me also. In this disturbed state, I open the door and go to her with every intention of going all out on her, of further arousing her obviously stirred mind as I am perfectly capable of, denying her any comforting attention, practiced usually in silence, in favor of ruining her with more of inattentiveness and clamor, both of which she certainly had enough of in the last couple of hours, but as I get to the living room and the sofa, she yawns and in her tiredness almost falls of it. Catching her at the last moment, I don’t even notice myself already speaking my mind, well on my way to spill anger and revulsion, infuriated at seeing her calling me for no reason at all. She simply yawns, not listening to me, ignoring the state of turmoil I was in, causing even greater indignation by doing so and to an extent where I suspect this effrontery being reason enough to take my things before leaving, with the same easiness she employs to torment me. Going back, taking my things and leaving for good, I was thinking to myself, standing in the middle of the room, when she suddenly got up from the sofa and drew before me, stating how we should spend the night together.
It is somewhere around five o’clock in the morning. I could very well lean myself on the left side of the bed and turn on the lamp, determining positively by looking at the wall clock the exact time, but I do not do this, because if I was to lean to the left and turn on the light, indulging onset of curiosity, there would be no hope of my returning to sleep. Many years of failed attempts assured me of this. For years, while trying to fall asleep, I used to wonder after hours of being unable to do so, just how much time, how many hours, had passed since I turned off the light, since I had laid on the bed and gave myself wholly to attempting to fall asleep. Was it an hour ago, or perhaps two? But assuring myself of an answer to this question led to another question, and then to yet another, all of them result of unremitting subconscious intent bent upon keeping me awake in fear of losing the time to think. Having tried my best in the past not to succumb to this contra-productive curiosity, I developed various tactics to serve as the last line of defense against probing questions which pursued their ascent from within exhausted consciousness. For instance, at times I submitted myself to counting seconds by observing the sound of clock pointers. My strategy was never to precipitately mentally acknowledge the passing second, at the point when the pointer clicked, but to wait for the clicking to be over, making sure one second had positively passed before I accounted it. Of course, mental acknowledgment would have to be done before the next click, giving me an interval of a second to observe, acknowledge and take note of a passed second. At first, the calming subtlety in such an approach helped me regain composure and fall asleep, but after a while, having got used to it, I realized my consciousness grew immune to the healing effects produced, resulting, more often than not, in establishment and exercise of a routine which served without failure in assuring my implacable sleeplessness. This is not as strange and unfortunate, I think to myself now, while counting the three thousand seven hundred thirteenth second, as the realization that I still, from time to time, attempt this positively ineffective routine, last successful shot of which I cannot even remember.
Nevertheless, at times like these, when I am perplexed and disturbed to such an extent so as to find tormenting myself unavoidable and preventing me to bear the night, described failure of a routine helps me retrieve myself from deepest pits of self-deprecation and, again, establish simple sleeplessness as a predominant state of mind, which is tolerable, if not favorable, compared with other possibilities. Therefore, having counted to four thousand and eleven, I found myself considerably calmed and in a normal state, to which sleeplessness more or less amounts to. Realizing there can be no word of a rest, I get up and leave the black room, entering the living room. There I sit myself on the sofa, searching through the records beside, looking for something to occupy senses. Thinking for a minute, calmed and repossessed of balance, I choose to play the one my living companion loves and I hate most, producing an effect which runs conversely to the obvious one. By playing the record I’m letting her know I had succeeded in avoiding her manipulating me into despair, while enjoying whatever music there is. She thought succeeding in ruining me tonight, absolving me of any dignity and free will, which even I thought happening, but which did not happen after all, as can be seen by my being here in the living room, able to breath and to think, peacefully enjoying music which would otherwise repel me. My mind is relaxed enough just by managing to preserve its sanity, though deriving a bit of supplementary verve, momentarily, by keeping the sound level just at the point where it’ll be subtle enough to prevent sleep in the adjoining room. I thought of listening Preisner at first, Preisner, of course, but I decided against him and in favor of Einaudi, whom I didn’t mind at the moment. Preisner is propitious to my thinking irrespective of the time of the day, while Einaudi works for me rarely. My living companion, on the other hand, never enjoys Preisner, finding Einaudi invigorating and inspiring at all times, as she has a habit of noting. She lacks necessary mental probity and acuity to hold herself against such statements as “at all times” or “ideal”, I observe while listening Einaudi, sitting on the sofa. No such thing as “at all times” is possible. We only need to start with the fact that life itself is limited, human life which is proclaimed as the zenith of existence, and it is clear at once that nothing can really be unlimited and supreme. This is a mistake people make over and over again. They see a painting and say, this painting is ideal! They go to a theater and exclaim, this performance is perfect. They hear a piece of music and conclude, this piece will be remembered for eternity. But tomorrow they see another painting and find themselves doubting if the one they had seen the previous day was actually that good, surely good it was, very good, or even great, great, but not ideal, not ideal at all. Or they go to a theater and realize that the performance they had held in esteem as perfect, just the day before, in fact, isn’t such, but rather average, or even dull. And music which seemed worthy of remembrance for all times is forgotten altogether by the start of the next week. Truth to be told, most often no new painting, theater performance or music piece are even needed for one to reach conclusion how these ideal and perfect achievements are nothing but spurs of temporary zest, inspirational whims which enamored us for a moment we took to be an eternity. There is no absolute greatness, because we are limited in every way. We are born and immediately face indisputable prospect of death. We develop interest in science and art but are soon confronted with inability to immure ourselves in both, so have to make a choice. And when we think we have at least made a tough, indeed the toughest decision, renouncing whole aspect of our personality, opting for one at the price of another, we are told that not only now we further have to decide between music and cinema, or between mathematics and genetics, but must choose and dedicate ourselves to some minute affiliate within them which we are absolutely unfamiliar with. That is our reality. Never ultimate, only approximation. But it is reality most people are unable to confront. Instead, not properly equipped for the challenge of truth, one easily jumps up from a theater seat and by clapping hands rejoices at something found perfect and ideal. “Bravo” they yell, trying to stifle all to human being inherent doubt by raising their voice as high as possible. We see this all the time. Whenever one thing or another is on the display there is quite a number of those present who clap and whistle as loud as they can in order to indulge perverse lies which save them from the truth. Clapping hard is easier, after all, than scrutinizing, observing, understanding, and estimating for oneself where esteem is to be given. In this way we see people growing accustomed to exhibiting no signs of free will. Instead, they adopt will of others. Failing to develop our own characters and self-confidence, we prefer falling susceptible to other characters which, absurdly, we find more appropriate than having our own. Thinking for oneself is not in vogue these days. Not thinking and adopting thinking are. Why waste time on thinking ourselves when we can adopt it from others – is the watchword phrase of all the society participants. In view of this, instead of developing through thinking our own and growing through experience, we are contenting ourselves with not thinking, adopting stale intellectual mishmash, currently in demand, while stultifying any resistance to provincial conformity. Whatever we see, perceive and notice, we don’t actually see, perceive and notice, but simply accept what we are being served. Some more of whatever most of others are having, please! Evolution of the human mind evidently led us to a point where, in order undertake the task of thinking, by our own means and forces, we need the goal of such an endeavor, from time immemorial inborn as a necessity, now to be guaranteed before even having made an effort, providing us with a supreme ending deserving of our dedication. But that will never be our reality. Reality is that there is no supreme to consider. No sublimity, no apogee. Under such existential threat, instead of drawing innermost forces within to come to terms with the meaning of living, hardship of which is the essential part, we cave in, vacillate in-between our weaknesses rather than gathering dedication at the first sign of trouble, powerless to think on our own, work on our own and act on our own. We assure ourselves of no possible solutions to the impediments ahead before we’ve even met them, afraid of the unbearable truth as we are, ending up forfeiting and submitting ourselves to inadequacy and regret arisen from especially insurmountable and specifically to our situation characteristic, unfortunate circumstances. For we always think that we were considerably predisposed for one thing or another, talented for something significantly more than all the others, but unlike those others who were entreated with the favorable circumstances, we were served with the most unfortunate ones, preventing us lamentably from achieving our goals, which we would have achieved, in comparison with those entreated with favorable circumstances, to a much higher degree, had we only been served with them. This belief is nurtured as a holy word, satiating failure, discomfort and regret with insatiable blame and self-denial. But even this belief is not enough to soothe ever present discomfort, to soothe inability to bear the failure, so we seek perfection in others. Unable to sleep at night we seek glorious paths of others, ideals to shower with our admiration and an image with which we can coalesce our, unfulfilled due to circumstances, but much the same, potential for greatness. And we accomplish this perversity by stifling all doubt. Whenever we start to think, notice or realize that something previously claimed is not perfection, ideal or supreme, we are faced with that from which we are trying so hard to escape, from the reality, and so we jump up faster, clap our hands with ever greater intensity and whistle louder. All until doubt is stifled and soothed. If some geneticist whom we idealize makes our acquaintance admitting how far he is from achieving anything substantial, how little he knows, we laugh at him and genuinely don’t believe him. We think him making a simple joke and find such a remark clever and deserving of our smiles. When a famous mathematician attends a gathering, with humble honesty and sometimes even ashamed, he must admit that his contribution to the world of science is insignificant, a statement at which all of those could be mathematicians laugh, assured of noble modesty in the face of monumental achievement. Same is the case with a more approachable so called perfections, such as of an actor or a writer. People turn on their television and see an actor saying how he feels ashamed in the face of all the attention he is getting, finding personal work and accomplishments not nearly deserving of such praise, or even any, and hearing this people tap the shoulder of their friends and assert how this actor is playing them, noting thereby a whole list of his accomplishments worthy of admiration. This farce represents a widely spread method of survival which is carried out in faithful fashion. Incessant process of stifling doubt maintained for the duration of whole lives, never losing its ferocity, resulting in time with human shells, all of them ready and eager to believe and admire almost anything. Cases like this and those somewhat less severe practice their appearance in our lives more often than we dare to admit. Stifling their selves by stifling doubt and thinking in order to find their lives and failures bearable. On top of all this one is left astonished with the fact how – instead of those supposedly and so called perfect ones, ideal and admired ones, who are presumed to indulge a touch of vanity – it is precisely those who clap, whistle and admire most, that hold the endless pools of vanity with which they condescend people around them; practicing this perversity as a mechanism of survival, placing vanity with which they condescend where one’s actual abilities and attractiveness should be, while glorifying abilities and attractiveness they don’t have as a means of discharging pools of unhappiness. Mechanism repellent in its nature, but gathering followers in despicable alacrity nonetheless.
Feeling an onset of dizziness in my head, I suddenly feel unable to further pursue these thoughts. Perhaps I envisioned it too severely, I must have, it strikes me as appropriate to affirm. Scrutinizing everything too severely, criticizing unfairly and breaking to constituent parts, always leads me to finding fault with everything. Over and over again you scrutinize and break everything to details, unable to look at things as they are, my living companion often tells me. And yet she too is aware of all those unable to confront the reality behind achieving perfection and high goals, to understand how perfection is not possible in itself, is not perfection in itself, but that perfection is possible to aim and strive for, and that coming to terms with this simple fact, working on oneself to overcome and come to terms with it, realizing ultimate is beyond reach yet opting to remain on the course of striving towards it, determining oneself to remain dedicated in aiming for perfection without burdening oneself with inability to attain it, is nothing short of reaching it. My living companion omitted disputing me on this assumption at the time of my making it before her, surprising me instead with an expression of agreement. A considerable leap of faith, I remember her adding, leaving me without any further comment I was certainly expecting. Left as I was, at the time, with resemblance of thoughtfulness in physiognomy of her appearance, I recall being possessed by taciturn curiosity, interest which made itself lasting, and for quite some time, indeed lasting to an extent where, sitting on the sofa, now, I found myself unable to remember leaving such an interest behind, thinking about it therefore again, about my living companion and about all the things connected to her. She must be exhausted and drained of all mental clarity at the moment though, I think to myself, and as I thought of this I realized Einaudi playing still, at which point I turned it off.
Couple of hours later I find myself waking up having previously fell asleep in the sofa. Feeling rested I conclude it must be nine o’clock already, thought supplemented by the sight of my living companion painting a few steps ahead. I was exhausted to such an extent, I affirm, that even my living companion setting herself about work did not disturb my sleep. Making an attempt to get up and leave her in peace, I hear her saying, I don’t mind, so I lean back in the sofa thinking a few minutes to regain composure upon waking up will do me good. Seeing Einaudi not placed back in its cover I proceed to do so. Subsequently, I notice how Saramago’s Death with Interruptions is resting beneath the cover, so I take it and leaf through. Death with Interruptions, I say to myself, aware how it would be best to take it easy for a couple more minutes, and then, feeling all composed, proceed with interruptions my own. First interruptions as introduction, and from there on improving one thought after another, I note to myself while leafing through Saramago. At this point my living companion interrupts my reverie by asking what am I reading. What’s that in your hands, she inquires while painting on the canvas. For a moment I think of answering simply – Saramago, but I remember suddenly being asked a similar question a few months ago, so keep quiet instead, hoping to summon back into mind the source of déjà vu I thought sensing. Wasn’t it a few months ago, I ponder thoughtfully, when she got hold of Blindness, which I left inadvertently in the living room, and, upon seeing me looking for it, asked, What are you reading? holding the book in her hand. Feeling relieved at finally finding its whereabouts I remember answering – Saramago. What is it about? – All the people turn blind. – Nonsense, I recall her noting during an attempt to ostensibly put the book on the table for my convenience, only to do it in a clumsy way, which amounted to dropping it on the floor. This rude inconvenience she didn’t even find embarrassing, I realized to my astonishment then, while observing her enter the bedroom and close the door behind, doing so without even turning around upon hearing the book fall on the floor. She dropped Saramago on purpose, I instantly realized, knowing fully well I will pick it up eagerly still, because I would take any insult in order to continue with thinking. However, I was feeling under the weather that day, not being able to place the paper correctly for a few hours in a row, as I recall, so I didn’t pick Saramago up, which I would have otherwise done, leaving it instead where it was to be picked up by the person who dropped it in the first place. This led to Saramago resting on the bottom of the floor for the next twelve days. Almost two weeks Saramago was lying down beside the table, being an object both of us skillfully avoided while entertaining our daily functions; acting as if we don’t see it while eating or resting on the sofa, painting or reading another matter, passing each other by the table, quite careful to bypass the lying Saramago also, saying good morning, bon appetite and good night, while nodding respectfully to one another at all occasions without bringing to each other’s attention the fact there is Saramago beside our feet, maintaining this elaborate scheme for whole twelve days. Then, on the thirteenth day, I woke up, got out of the black room and noticed how Saramago is no longer on the floor. Feeling victorious I looked up on the table, and then through the shelves nearby, but seeing absence of all Saramago anywhere I felt myself shortly lacking any victorious feelings and regretting not picking up Saramago when I had the chance! Where is Saramago, I remember catching myself saying. Where is Saramago, I repeated, once, twice, finding myself subsequently pursuing whereabouts of my living companion with these words all throughout the household. Where is Saramago, I asked unable to see where she is, but hearing a noise from the bathroom. Saramago! I exclaimed in front of the door, no response. Where is it, I repeated again, before being served with another portion of silence instead of an answer. Therefore, I made way to her own room, knowing she is in the bathroom, with every intention of taking her painting sketches, not to drop them in some trash can as she must have done with Saramago, but to sell it, to sell the sketches, for whatever price, sell the sketches and use the money obtained to pay the bills, or at least that is what I told myself in order to dissemble ongoing sense of guilt which, though humiliating, betrayed a certain feeling of joy, contemptible joy undoubtedly, but gratifying one also, and especially as I thought about getting rid of her sketches by way of selling them in order to, upon being questioned about their whereabouts, tell my living companion how I sold them and paid the bills with the proceeds. Telling her this, even though the sum of money from selling the sketches would be negligible, but doing so nonetheless to make her see the error of her ways. Thus I went to her room determined to act on a whim, yet instead of finding her painting sketches, looking around, I found Saramago, opened near the end. So she didn’t throw it after all, I thought to myself, didn’t drop it in some trash can, but took it for reading. I made way to the black room unable to get my head around thinking how did she manage to read almost all of Saramago in one night? Was she not sleeping? Even then it wouldn’t be easy. But what if she didn’t read whole Saramago last night, which would be hard even for me, having read it numerous times already, and instead read a portion of it, reading a portion of Saramago every night for the last twelve days! While I was straining myself not to give in and pick up Saramago every day, in order to make my living companion realize the error of her ways, she kept picking it up every late evening and dropping it again every early morning! Why didn’t she drop it again this morning then, I found asking myself at the time. Because she forgot, I recall bursting out loud at myself as an answer. Making way for the black room I remember determining myself to wait for the next morning in order to draw conclusions from there. Having not slept the whole night, listening intently and nervously at the door for any suspicious noises, I jumped out of the room at exactly five o’clock looking for Saramago all over the floor. But it wasn’t there. I rushed to check the waste can, but on my way to the kitchen I noticed Saramago on the shelf, where it usually stands. So she finished reading and put it back where it belongs, I said to myself feeling triumphant, some two weeks’ worth of sleepless nights after, with anxiety ridden limbs betraying trembling still, while my living companion was peacefully sleeping in her room.
Having remembered this now, being asked again what I’m reading, I close Saramago and return him to the shelf, answering simply, nothing. She inquires then if I’ve been out for a walk in the last couple of days. Did you leave the house at all during the last few days, you should to go out for a walk, it will do you good, is what she tells me, and then adds, You are always only with yourself, with your own thoughts, that is why you are always alone and depressed, I can hear her noting, even though she isn’t adding anything of the kind, only I can hear her adding and saying it for herself. But to exist is to think, I answer, in which case I am not alone amidst walls of the black room, but more or less anywhere in the world, I catch myself adding, not to my living companion who was painting, only to myself, though as an answer not to self, but to what I imagined my living companion saying, I observe. Thinking how we are both saying one thing yet meaning another, I realize it would be best to stand up and leave for the black room, diffusing a situation I can see growing into a serious hindrance. I am prevented to do this, however, on account of being asked, in a circumvent manner, about the progress of the psychology poetry book. A decade, my lord, it must be finished by now, she notes without stating what, not diverting her attention from the canvas at all. Perhaps, had I focused on the last observation, I could ignore it and leave without another word, but I was already agitated at remembering the Saramago episode, along with manipulative perversities from the previous evening, all of which, supplemented with certain enmity I thought sensing about her, aimed in my direction, possibly due to my playing Einauidi in the middle of the night, induced me not to get up, but to remain on the sofa, noting to her instead how I always disliked a habit people often entertained by talking about what is to be done, meaning not done yet, instead of talking about what they had done, positively and without a doubt. – Done! she shouts out of nowhere, and then lowers a painting from the canvas having apparently finished it, inducing within me a sense of disbelief due to being left hanging in mid-air above the sofa, where I previously jumped triggered by her sudden shouting, lingering there to the best of my ability as if in fear, until she giggled to herself, making me fall back in the sofa while replacing all sense of fear with agitation. As I watched another sketch finding its place on the canvas, a few minutes lapsed in silence. Shortly after, she continued. One sacrifices one’s self, and is not even aware of it, I hear her saying while rounding some shapes I found intriguing, sacrificing one’s human being for one’s thinking being, and while trying to develop a working being of a dubious potential, a human being with inborn potential is paying the price. One can be an inspiring human being, giving happiness to others, thus being happy as self, instead, one chooses to be solely a thinking being, forsaking everyone and with them all the happiness and joy in life. That is… – Pathetic. I interrupt her. Not turning around, though ceasing to paint for a brief time, she proceeds, disregarding my observation. One’s downfall is one’s blind trust in thinking, but thinking is an approximation, because everything we think is never definitive, certain and absolute, anything we think or do; but on the other hand, if one is a human enough, one can put one’s trust in someone, care and trust, concern and trust, and those can be definitive, certain and absolute, she tells me seemingly serious. Remaining silent – trying to remember and conclude if what she just said is an article of mine taken out of context, an article whose publishing I didn’t allow more than fifteen years ago and which she, save for the last part about trust, perfectly repeated right in front of me – I realize my companion is looking straight at me, evidently in expectation of an answer, stating, [_ Well, what do you think about it?- About what? - It is an essay. I've started writing. An essay, at first, but then who knows. It is about indifference. I already wrote a few pages. Of course, even though you still haven't published the psychology poetry book, your opinion is important to me. So, what do you think? ] An essay, she says, an essay about indifference. An essay about indifference made up of my own words, for all of which, on top of it all, I am being asked to express personal opinion. Had I not known her better I would think this base mischief, but I knew my living companion very well and there was no limit to her deviousness. So she started writing, I think to myself, started putting all her deviousness on the paper for the sole purpose of tormenting me, I suspect. Writing an essay and, of course, mentioning this to me, noting that she had already written a few pages. When writing and thinking one keeps both a secret, one is inclined, because secrecy is propitious towards sustaining self-confidence and boldness necessary to ruthlessly set oneself about thinking and work without taking into a consideration a possible failure. Same applies to anything else. Even a painter doesn’t paint in a museum in front of an audience, but in an atelier, or in a living room, alone in any case. But she flaunts this apparent essay at me, something never practiced while painting, during which I am asked to leave, as I suspect happening any minute now, because her painting is of some consequence after all. Essay is of a different design, ill-mannered evidently, so I inquire about her intentions. [_How are you planning to go about it?] I ask her. You are sick and you should know that, she tells me, you are sick, your goals are sick, your aims are sick, everything about you is sick. Everything you do, which amounts to nothing, is for your sickness, your thinking, your work, everything. Personal goals, personal ideas, personal interests. You don’t care for friends or family, only for thinking and working itself. Towards others you pursue indifference. In any case, I was thinking of such a character, possessed and devoured, and then going from there on. Should I show you the manuscript of it? – No, there’s no need, it escapes me before realizing I should very much like to see the manuscript. I listened intently, observing her talk while painting, wondering if she’s really working on the essay or working on insulting me in the most shameless manner imaginable. Working on exploring and developing thoughts about the essay through means of conversation or, on the other hand, on exploring, developing and devising new faculties to torment with. Though I wished to see the manuscript I opted to abstain from asking for it, noting to my living companion instead how such a character seems real and genuine. Is it a real and genuine character then? No, she tells me, He’s a dreamer. He’s opposite to genuine and authentic. I imagine him searching for something real but ending up chasing the tail of immortality. I fancy it could be his watchword. Immortality. He’s a dreamer like no other. Unlike people, who hold humanity within them, he is different, wrong made, an error. His thinking being shuns his human being, destroys it. It shuns all that is real and genuine about him, rejects it; living on its indifference it repels everything else; Nothing will be left of him. And still he pursues this like his life depends on it. A kind of a naive, childish dreamer, I imagine him. There was no doubt in my mind anymore that the manuscript is inexistent. She is trying to do me in, that’s all. Don’t pursue the reasons for this effrontery, I find it appropriate to note, there may be none. Endure this wicked maliciousness, I tell myself agitated, but I cannot escape feeling nonplussed by its intensity. Such capacity for tormenting is inexplicable. She was still painting, turned to her canvas, fortunately. Had she turned around to face me, I wouldn’t be able to prevent myself from spilling revulsion at her. Since she didn’t, I managed to remain calm, at least to the point of remaining silent. Stay calm, relax and then return to the black room, I affirm. You’ve lingered on here too much as it is. Go back, sit upon your desk and begin with interruptions. No headache and no pain whatsoever. You’ve slept, you are rested, hence you are ready. Disregard everything else, everything else being unimportant concerning work you are to start with. But why is she attacking me this morning, I cannot help but wonder. I remember her saying, I don’t mind, saying this like she meant it at the time of preventing my retreat to the black room, yet thinking now how I fell right into her trap, trusting her words instead of common sense. Then, out of nowhere, she starts talking about human leeches. Another problem are the human leeches, she says while painting, parasites that clutch themselves on someone authentic and drain the life force from them without ever producing their own. They are everywhere. Since thinking is not easy, people don’t do it,, especially intense thinking, such as matters of merit require, so the unthinking person unfit to think, yet envious of the thinking person and his ability to do so, clutches itself unto the thinking person, taking advantage on behalf of doing so. In manner described the unthinking person reaps the fruits of hard work done by the thinking person, transforming itself into a leech. “But how can a thinking person be bested by an unthinking person in such an obvious way?”, one might ask. Yet the answer is simple. A thinking person doesn’t seek a spotlight, it seeks to think, understand and develop. Since spotlight hinders any kind of thinking, creating, and understanding, a thinking person is willing to ignore and tolerate leeches, at least to the point where they start hindering thinking, outliving their distracting usefulness. Therefore, managers, agents, sometimes family, living companions, along all other provision seekers, exist as a necessary evil for the greater cause, she concludes. Observing her focus on the painting, which significantly progressed since the start of our conversation, I find myself affirming everything said, unlike the first note, which was mildly corrected, word for word and through to the end taken from one of my earlier unpublished works. What intrigued me was the fact that I thought all of this burned, all of those notes which were part of a bigger context, burned and destroyed, which I doubt now, having been acquainted with this idea of the essay. Her mentioning “living companion” at the end with the rest of the provision seekers, note not included in the original work according to my knowledge, didn’t escape me as well. So I’m hopeless, as I recall her saying, a hopeless being apparently possessed and devoured by sickness, though naive and childish, wrong made error as well, in addition of being parasitic leech first and foremost, I find myself noting. Observing my living companion at work, and doing so intently, I am convinced that, despite, and to some extent in consequence, of all said, she shares my sickness, though to a less extent. She too must be aware of the mind and sensibility killing machine the world has turned into. As a matter of fact, I suspect her sharing my loathing for such a world, assumption I deduce on account of her daily behavior, time and again. I can sense it on her unquestionably, I think to myself. But then she turns away from the painting and towards me, questioning my reticence, I assume, and even though she isn’t speaking at all, I can hear her saying, You may be right, old man, but I’m nothing like you. You take pleasure in your loathing, you gloat on your loathing. You are a wretched human. When I sense loathing within, I am not enjoying it, it discomforts me. I fight it. You, pumpkin, on the other hand, embrace it. You take satisfaction in your loathing, parading it everywhere you go. Loathing is like a suit to you and you are afraid of being naked, so you buy as much of loathing clothes as you can and dress yourself warmly, putting over all of your loathing worn-out coat so you could gloat before everyone’s eyes, I can hear her saying, even though we are enjoying a pleasant silence. But then, in the same sudden manner, she looks back at her painting and all the unsaid words disappear, leaving me to wonder if anything of what she now didn’t actually say, is the truth. Pondering on this, I observe a raw boned headless man, walking upside down on the ceiling of a tunnel and towards the black, while the crowd from beneath walking towards the light is observing him, all clearly visible on the painting, thinking this piece may prove to be quite good. I remain speechless, finding no need to act otherwise, not being asked any question, after all. She hoped for a reaction, I reason prudently, she was hopeful of evoking some kind of response, indulging her maliciousness in order to provoke me into behaving as she envisioned, trying her hand at disturbing me to further her deviousness, I assume, but what she didn’t know is that all this time, period during which I was sitting on the sofa watching her paint, while she was pursuing her ruthless disparage in addition of working, I was thinking about the psychology poetry book for the most part, gathering my own focus and concentration, letting her speak, being ostensible in my attention so that I could put myself in the best mental state for beginning with work my own, a goal I managed to achieve, in fact. Sitting and observing if she has anything else to add, I realize she must be doing the same, leading me to make of this instance a perfect opportunity to stand up and go to the black room without another word. As I proceed to do so, I can see how my conduct left her a bit overwhelmed and staggering, unsure how to react in disbelief over my apparent disinterestedness. Without indulging a subtle smile I certainly entertained within, I turn to the black room. However, due to quick motion of the turn perhaps, done in order to preserve what is entertained within – within indeed, I felt a bit dizzy, unable to take the next step. My living companion caught onto this, observing me meticulously since the point of my getting up, so in the hope of not letting all her efforts go to waste and against the grain, she took me by the shoulder before I could even realize myself being led back to the sofa and sitting there. Sit down and relax, she tells me, it will do you good. I must have burdened you too much with the essay, just sit down and rest a bit, she adds with a smile. Doing as I was told, I couldn’t help getting agitated anew. She realized me walking away unruffled, saw me possessed with matters my own, without a care for her deviousness, I think to myself, but having noted my unexpected foot slip, she didn’t lose a second to catch me by the shoulder, take me by the arm and lead me back to the chair, scrutinizing all the while what to say in order to make such a chance incident appear not coincidental at all. I must have burdened you too much with the essay, followed with a subtle grin, not preserved within, but showed overtly, served the purpose well. In all chances, she was hoping for something of this kind to happen, thinking what to say should such fortunate mishap occur, pondering and thinking about this, not from the point I felt dizzy, but from the point of my getting up, I suspect, and even from the moment I grew silent perhaps. Sitting in the sofa, having heard sit and relax instead of malicious mockery I know is in her mind, despicable deceit imagined thoughtfully in repelling fashion while engrossing me with a perverse display of care, I try to relax hoping that will put me in the right direction towards countering her cunningness. First withstand maliciousness, but then counter it, not with maliciousness, but with faculties my own, counter which will enable me to leave for work mentally fit and unscathed. And so I get an idea.
I look up at her painting on the canvas and say to her, Thank you, it served me well to sit down just as you said and I am feeling altogether better now, thank you; all this to and fro in-between our thinking is useless and needs to stop; yes, whenever amidst to and fro between the thinking our own and of each other we should sit and relax, stop doing whatever we are doing, stop at the very moment we realize ourselves on the way to becoming unsettled, on the way to cause one another discomfort, stop, stop and stop, I say to my living companion; and she stops painting and looks at me thankfully in an attempt to prove how she appreciates my thinking, though aroused at it, I’m certain, since my thinking and talking are disabling any further mockery she might have been envisioning, both depriving her of perverse satisfaction she was feeling and preventing her from concentrating on her work, which she maintained to this point, therefore, disrupting her work routine which consists from painting on the one side and tormenting me on the other, it would seem. Only when she is able to both paint and torment does she accomplish those works of high art, and, the higher the torment, the better the art. Disparaging, destroying and annihilating me goes hand in hand with her art. One could even say that the essential part of her painting is tormenting, or even argue whether her true art lies in painting and not in tormenting. Dismissing this as going too far, however, I resume praising her efforts to relax me, thanking her again and again for trying to calm me down, proposing in the process that she should sit, since she looks a bit uneasy, I think, something she refuses at first, but only at first, since she realizes soon all focus is missing due to incessant talking on my part, feeling all thrown off due to praise and care I’m showering her with, preventing her deviousness by doing what she hoped doing herself. Disable perverse care, I say to myself, by throwing it back, and then tormenting will cease, as it did. By getting ahead of her in attempts to speak, ahead in showing care, I’ve relieved myself of being an object of ridicule while subjecting her into struggle to reconstitute dominance over showing concern, which she tried to do but ended up unsuccessful because I was well ahead in my affections already, praising and pouring care vocabulary onto her in a manner apt to my thinking character, relentless and rigorous, gushing words considerable part of which were true, though she couldn’t suspect that at all looking at me going on and on, developing, as I thought noticing to perverse satisfaction my own, that great vein on her forehead; sitting down and developing a vein on her forehead, due to being unable to paint and torment anymore. Yes, we should relax, sit and relax from one moment to the next. You are alright now, aren’t you, I tell her, and she remains silent while taking her hand to the forehead as if to check for the vein. I see you are better now already, I say as she senses her vein growing, pulsating in an increasing manner and to the extent where it provokes attention. She leans her head on a side, as if to support it with her hand bend at the elbow, but only to hide her vein, as I catch upon at once and exploit by telling her how good she looks, how beautiful she looks today and, it seems to me, relaxed now when she’s sitting. I say this and think to myself how I should stand up and run to my room, leave before she somehow manages, with one of her simplistic measures, despicable actions of devious nature, to turn this situation around and get the better of me again. I think about this while observing her hiding the vein, which she does with delicacy, I must admit, even with a touch of elegance, if one was to observe intently, which I fall to doing in reluctance, alternating in-between thinking of going back to the black room, and observing her hiding the vein. First thinking it is best to leave at once, but then considering to stay for a while more, in fact, observing her while thinking of leaving, though not observing closely, because I catch myself noting how she moved to the left a bit while I was thinking of running to the black room, moved without me noticing it, so I drop the thought of running away in favor of establishing the vein again. I remain reticent as she turns around in a way which makes it harder for me to see the vein, doing this, I assume, in order to lower her hand, keeping it for a considerable time beforehand up to her forehead, which must feel quite unpleasant, after all. She manages to turn aside enough to prevent me from seeing the vein, dropping her hand with a sigh of relief, thus I turn my head away, shift my focal point for a few minutes in order to let her sit and relax, calm herself sitting at an angle where it is impossible for me to see the vein, a few moments during which I look at her painting, not more than three or four minutes in any case, upon passing of which I stand up and go to the painting thinking how good it is, thinking this and turning around to my living companion to say to her how good it is, and of course to see the vein again, in its full glory from this new angle, which I succeed in doing. This painting is great, I tell her while turning my face from the painting to her and then back to the painting, keeping this turning show perpetuating, observing one moment the painting and the other the growing vein, realizing her apparent helplessness, noticing this and thinking there is nothing else to be done, Nothing more to be done, I tell myself, putting a stop to all the turning around by focusing on the painting. After a few moments spent in contemplating this matter I decide to turn around again to express my misgivings about behavior pursued, uneasiness about the whole conduct I evinced, realizing how… in fact… the vein is gone, already gone! My companion dropped her hand looking straight at me, and I was looking straight back at her, not seeing anything. I assume betraying shock, being bestowed with a show of care through mindful indication how I shouldn’t get up again so soon, because I am not looking well at all now that I’m standing. I keep searching for the vein while she’s pointing out, not without consideration, that a glass of fresh water might do me good. No, you need to relax, she tells me once again as I stand beside her. So it is good you say, I think so too, and it is thanks to you as well, she adds, I think I will call it a dereliction. By the time she said dereliction in a derogative tone I was already at the door of the black room, trying to concentrate on the work concerning the psychology poetry book and failing miserably. I close the door behind me and sit upon the desk. If only I hadn’t showed compassion, I think to myself, it would have been possible to kiss her on the forehead, as I thought doing, and express my sincerest wishes the essay will be a success before leaving. But I showed sympathy at the end and now instead of working I am thinking about it, being unable to work, afraid even to attempt placing the blank paper in the middle of the desk. And it was such an opportunity to start with work! Ten or fifteen minutes ago I felt all rested and refreshed. Ten minutes! Perhaps if I count to one hundred and fifty, I think to myself. Counting without delay, hoping to ease my nerves, I assure myself that work on the psychology poetry book is all that matters. Next time agree to anything she says. No thinking, no pondering, only affirmation, while preserving focus on work. Say what she wants to hear, but think of your work and act according to those. If she wants the bill paid, do it without delay, if she asks for trash to be emptied, proceed to do so at once, if she wants to spend the night together, agree immediately. Otherwise, you are securing hindrances to thinking and working. The psychology poetry book first and foremost and everything else in view of it. Devote yourself to what you value, because in that way you guard yourself against being destroyed by anything else pointlessly. Think of your work and work on your thinking, improving value of both at the same time. But is there value to my thinking, I reflect for a moment, before brushing it aside as a meaningless pondering serving only to bring about fear on account of getting started with work. There is no reason to think of failure before even starting on something. I will start now since I’ve reached one hundred and fifty, I determine, but the window is half open and I have to jump up and close it before anything else. What if I explain myself better to my companion? That, I suspect, would be of great help towards reclaiming mental clarity, noting to her that I wish nothing but to think and work, while also acting in a way which she would find agreeable. Maybe then I could absolve myself of irritation, restoring relaxation and focus possessed beforehand. I pursue this idea in the black room, thinking of going, not now, but in half an hour perhaps, half an hour or forty minutes, thinking of going out, leaving the black room and going to the room of my companion to explain myself better, considering how at the time we were talking I was unsettled, already exhausted by focusing on the work concerning the psychology poetry book in the back of my head, while ostensibly listening to what she was saying, exhaustion further intensified by rigorousness with which I approach any thinking, especially contemplative thinking such as I was immersed into while observing my living companion, meticulous deliberation which made me incapable expressing myself as I should have, resulting with anxiety under which spell I fell. Considering all this, I realize it is still too early, things ought to rest a bit. Even if I was to leave now, or half an hour from now, I think to myself, she would be in no mood to listen to me, no mood to listen to me especially so soon after she wanted to listen to me but was denied such a satisfaction due to my silent retreat to the black room. Affirming this, I make to draw a blank piece of paper in order to set myself about work with ruthlessness, drawing the paper before me and ruthlessness within me, but just as I was about to lower my left hand to reach the drawer, I heard a noise from my living companion’s room, cry dismaying me insofar I felt unable to resist lifting my left hand back up and tuning attention to the wall adjoining her room. What is she doing, I think to myself. Standing up I make way for the corner of the room, leaning my head against the wall, so as to hear if she hurt herself or needed help. Risking overhearing something which could be considered eavesdropping was not in my mind at all, but then I heard some sort of inaudible conversation, incoherent chatting in the room of my companion, and immediately eavesdropping did come into my mind and it was clear this conduct, without intention at first, now while leaning an ear on the wall, might resemble eavesdropping after all. Thinking this, I begin to question my supposition. How can I be eavesdropping if I am not hearing anything? Is it intention that characterizes my behavior as eavesdropping and, if so, how should the intention to check if my companion is alright to be regarded then? I was pursing the thought with great passion and even accusing myself of daring to make out of genuine concern something diabolical in nature. Feeling rather disconcerted, I lost composure and started waving head left and right in disbelief over my actions, bumping it at the wall as a result. This brought about, I noticed at once, all voices and chatter making their absence, along with my breathing diminishing, hopefully, to imperceptible level. Running back to the chair, I conclude irrationality behind my behavior issue of built up anxiety regarding work and thinking, from which I was once again sidetracked unaware. Sit down, concentrate, take the blank piece of paper and start transferring your thoughts, I tell myself. However, any ruthlessness previously maintained vanished into thin air and instead of starting with work I found myself thinking of both how I was eavesdropping just a moment ago, and how I should have had spoken, as was expected of me, when I heard my companion stating “dereliction”, retaining some of the dignity and focus instead of retreating to my room. Perhaps to apologize at first, in about an hour, upon leaving the black room and going to the room of my living companion; apologize for eavesdropping, even though I didn’t hear what she was saying and, in the first place, tried to find out only if she was alright, I affirm. But again, recognizing she might have been an object of eavesdropping could arouse her further, making the possibility of explaining previous misunderstanding impossible, all of which would serve counter wise to what I am trying to accomplish by leaving the black room, in due time. Apparent onset of anxiety, experienced many times already, I suspect taking a hold of me now, also, therefore, in fear of succumbing to it, I open the door of the black room and make way to the kitchen in order to drink a glass of fresh water.
On my way there I notice that the painting on which my companion is working hangs uncovered. Walking by it I also notice scribbled pages beside the table, not withholding more than a few sheets. At first I thought it insignificant, but as I was drinking water I found it, though still not relevant, rather intriguing. What could it be, it sure isn’t a book, it’s too thin, or a magazine, not having any title. Still, I found it beyond me to go there to the desk, behind the painting stand, and, taking the sheets in my hands, leaf through them. With an apology and an attempt to reason with her hanging in the air, doing this was risky and untimely, bringing my mind to conclusive peace regarding the sheets matter. Relieved a bit I make way back to the black room. Walking through the door however, out of nowhere, insight concerning the sheets possessed me. Could it be? The manuscript? The essay? Standing there at the door, between the room and the hall, I was facing the window in the black room, though thinking about the manuscript. Looking at the curtains, while mentally eavesdropping the manuscript. Shall I go into the room and close the door behind me, or go back and leaf through the essay? Leaf through the essay or go into the room, and as I was thinking about one or the other, another noise sounded from my companion’s room, so I acted naturally and according to senses, running to the living room and grabbing the manuscript, taking the manuscript in my hands before pressing it against the chest, embracing it there for everyone to see, while standing in the middle of the room more or less frozen. I was standing there pressing the manuscript against my chest until I heard yet another noise, though I cannot be sure from where, which triggered me to run straight back into the black room and close the door behind me. I observe if more noises are to follow but all remains silent. Sitting in the chair I put the manuscript on the desk not sure what to do with it. Should I open it? I wonder, but find myself averse to the idea. I will not open it then. But why did I take the manuscript with me if I’m not going to leaf through it? I stand up and go to the corner of the room leaning my head against the wall again. Subtle breathing can be perceived, though one cannot be sure, since it is barely audible, I find myself noting while pondering what could be stored in the manuscript. Is it really the essay after all? It could be some empty notecase, painting sketches or anything else. In fact, it must be one of those things, I conclude, though it could be the essay as well. But say it is the essay, what will my leafing through it bring in the interest of work I should be doing now and instead am not? And how will knowing what is in the manuscript help me when I go to my companion seeking to reason with her? No, I mustn’t leaf through the essay, for there is no reason to, I tell myself sitting in the chair again, imagining the consequences of opening the essay which I was holding in my hands. I could open it without any great consequences, I affirm, unless she left it on purpose hoping to catch and expose me to more shame and torment, though that is unlikely. Unlikely, I repeat to myself, yet not impossible, it strikes me while looking at the manuscript which I’ve put back on the desk in the meantime. Do I really want to know what is in the manuscript, I ask myself, answering honestly at once that I don’t, because I only wish to start with work. I put the manuscript at the corner of the desk and stand up from the chair, but after a few minutes during which I was walking aimlessly around the black room, I find myself tired so sit down, positioning the manuscript in the middle of the desk again. Work and thinking is what interests me, I conclude, nothing else, so I close the manuscript, having half opened it for a second. I stand up and look through the window thinking if opening the manuscript would somehow mean complete destruction of the psychology poetry book. Unsure how I got to this idea, I entertain it nonetheless, with the contemplation resulting in the positive assurance of the necessity to take the manuscript at once and return it to my living companion, which I proceed to do. Take the manuscript, apologize for taking it, apologize for eavesdropping and put forward your sincerest hopes for maintaining peaceful relations; all of mentioned, first and foremost, and then, depending on the reaction, note that manuscripts and books shouldn’t be left behind unattended, especially not after the Saramago episode, while adding how on account of all fever finally gone, prevailing silence would be most propitious and appreciated considering work to be done. Knocking at her door I fail to get a response at first, so I knock a few more times. After sixth or seventh knock I set myself about opening the door, remembering all that loud noise from before, so in an attempt to soothe restlessness I push the handle down and the door forward, seeing my companion, in fact, fast asleep. I put the manuscript down beside her bed table, and, covering her with a blanket, make way to the black room intent on getting my wallet in order to buy myself a new stack of papers. I remembered now, having spontaneously seen some papers on the table of my living companion, that I lack my own. Going out and getting a new stack, properly measured at the store, in order to avoid further inconveniences, took me the rest of the day. Coming back I made way straight to the black room, in order to check if the paper fits in the middle of the desk. I succeeded at first attempt in placing the paper, thinking, with great enthusiasm, how from now on all will be a matter of sitting down and starting to write. Feeling tired I decided to go to sleep and rest, determined to wake up at four o’clock, at which point written work on the psychology poetry book will begin with interruptions as introduction.
Next morning, as well as in the adjoining few mornings after that, I did not succeed in beginning to write, but even so realized myself going through the preparatory routine without any difficulty, feeling assured of getting to the point of starting with work in a few days.
A rare moment of loud silence is an unusual occurrence in our household. Subtle silence is more or less always present, but loud silence is another thing. For instance, subtle silence, which is nothing more than such a state of affairs where no audible conversation exists between me and my living companion, is met with regular recurrence and lasts at times even for a month uninterrupted. Most of our household time, which amounts to my whole time, but not the whole time of my living companion, permeates in subtle silence throughout the days and months we’ve spent together so far. During these outwardly peaceful intervals, every possibility of experiencing inner turmoil or distress is wholly accountable, therefore, not silence per se, but subtle silence. Still, both my living companion and I are aware there is no doubting whether maintaining subtle is more acceptable than actual lack of silence. In that regard a sort of consensus is reached resulting in exhibition of joined efforts towards assiduous control over disruptive forces to our silent subtleties, which we mutually treat ourselves with. Nevertheless, I am inclined to believe that my living companion is not diligent in her efforts as I am. As much as I would like to assert how hardly anything disturbs this ostensible order, that is routine of keeping to ourselves in order to deal with ourselves and our own characters, our own characters and their, to our work, detrimental whims, to keep ourselves from falling susceptible to our base weaknesses, instead of asserting success of and believing in these co-habitual maneuvers, instead of spectacle of benefit from them, and even conversely to them, I am faced at times not only with laziness on behalf of efforts from my living companion, but with shameful lack of any tendency to prevent behavior I can describe as an onset of positive mischief towards that which we agreed upon.
It so happens that for the last ten or fifteen days, however, time during which I drew as closely to writing down introduction in the form of interruptions as never before, we’ve managed to sustain our subtle silence. All this time I’ve found her positively predisposed toward maintaining peace. Therefore, from day to day we preserved it and created a favorable working environment within our household, developing propitious grounds on which we could start building a positive personal disposition within ourselves and towards our work. Of course, we had to deal with our own characters, which is a monumental challenge still, but much less severe of a challenge when left to it undisturbed by other paltry factors, such as a domestic trivia bearing that what is opposite of a paltry influence. I even fell into such a positive mood during this time of subtlety that, after ten or fifteen days of mutual silence, I found myself asking my living companion a few days ago if she’s up for a short intermission, it strikes me as thoughtful to observe now, being unable to fall asleep in a jail cell. A break for a cup of coffee which I will personally make for her, not for myself, because I never drink my own, but for my living companion, I remember proposing, being aware how she enjoys such a drink. Without actual response I catch expression that resembles a smile on her face, I seem to recall lying on the mattress, or a side profile of her face since she was painting and turned to her canvas, making me incapable of seeing her properly. Standing there beside her for a minute, not perceiving any signs not to do offered bidding, I can see myself making way to the kitchen, at the time, positively pleased at opportunity to pass my gratitude through this modest act of appreciation. I could even spare ten to fifteen minutes if you wish to talk, I said to her, ten to fifteen minutes after I make the coffee, I added with a smile of my own as I made the coffee, which I am quite good at making, I’m told, and as I was bringing it to her I could already notice she was agitated. Over a period of a few minutes I spent making the coffee she became agitated over one thing or another, disturbance caused by means unclear to me, admittedly, but then I realized, agitated for being bothered after we’ve come to a taciturn agreement how we shall not disturb one another and will remain faithful to our subtle silence, I remember immediately noting and concluding. It struck me there and then, I reflect, how she did not ask me to make her coffee, I offered myself to make it for her. She even failed at showing any definite sign of accepting my offer, accepting my offer for either coffee or conversation. Truth be told, I myself did not harbor any particular inclination towards conversation, it escaped me in a fit of vanity upon seeing her smile, noticing I have hit the right string, or at least thinking seeing her smile and hitting the right string, but now not being sure and doubting whether what I think I saw and noticed, occurred. I stood there with a cup of warm coffee in my hands, aware that I have disturbed her, aware and feeling unpleasant, so I tried to casually pass the coffee to her. Here you are, I said, and I saw she was struggling, struggling to come to conclusion whether to ignore me or just accept my offer in order to get rid of me as soon as possible. Reaching her hand, it would seem she was feeling especially generous that day so I rushed to her, here you are, I said as I made way to give her the cup, and we can talk for five minutes, I noted, there’s no reason for whole ten, isn’t there, ten or whole fifteen minutes after all, or we can not talk at all, I added with a faint smile pleased at myself for creating an opportunity of soothing at least a bit situation by not further disrupting her work. She looked at me as if trying to decipher something within me, something she was unsure of, looked at me and then smiled at me, without any faintness in her demeanor, but openly, in mutual understanding, it seemed to me, mutual understanding which I could immediately scale down, attenuate and scale down, if not interpret as a positive misunderstanding, while watching her take the cup in her hand only to spill it in a flash all over me. No, there’s no need to talk, but please preserve precious silence at all times, your fits of weakness are disturbing, she says returning her focus to the canvas before her. I didn’t allow myself to lose composure even in circumstances like those, the rigorousness with which I practice my work routine had left its marks on my character, and so I drew benefits from it by not making a scene then, scene one would find justifiable, had it occurred, but which didn’t occur all the same. I wondered instead, while watching my living companion return to her work on a canvas, upon showing me her capacity for maliciousness, if there was a particular reason for a display of such capacity. It didn’t take me long to realize, standing there observing the coffee seeping down on my clothes, observing one moment the coffee mess all over me, and the other my living companion at her work, alternating in-between observing my living companion and the mess from the coffee, one instance looking at myself as the coffee mess I became, and the other looking at my living companion indulging creation on her canvas, noting progress in both, my living companion’s progress in her work, on the one side, and the progress of the coffee flowing down to my knees, on the other, and it didn’t take me long, as I observed that, to realize how the act which resulted in the current circumstances, some of which were starting to show on the floor as I was thinking about this, must have been provoked by something done by me, not due to particular and sudden caprice on behalf of my living companion, but due to some act of my own, caprice I was unaware of. I will not allow this unreserved outburst of my living companion, this whimsical fit of her unstable temper in but a short instance, I determined, to impair my judgment and hinder insight I feel building up within myself as a means of understanding the cause of all that has unfolded in the past few minutes. Gathering composure I smiled at her once more, smiled and apologized for my behavior all soaked in the black fluid. I apologize, I said to her, I see I’ve brought you discomfort in some way and through means which, though elude me momentarily, I feel capable of discerning, I added imagined and reflecting, I am sorry for disturbing subtle silence, behavior from which I should have abstained and especially having in mind positive regard I hold such conduct in, though, what’s worse, I feel and suspect that is not all there is to it. I must have brought upon you annoyance arisen from other cause, just within the past few minutes, I surmised prudently, letting sincerity get the better of the words escaping me. I was too deep in my thinking process to hold myself back from revealing the essence of it, I reflect, too deep not to eagerly indulge open contemplation of matters ostensible in their nature, therefore pleasing in their nature, not obvious and clear, meaning intriguing instead of tedious. I stood there thinking to myself, but saying what I was thinking, and in this process I suddenly noticed my living companion being struck by what I said, or at least I allowed myself supposition of thinking that she was struck by what I said, struck or merely uncomfortable with, left with an impression I couldn’t quite discern, in other words, because I remained imagined and in my own thinking process all the same, concentrated on the most part on my thinking, process I was rather enjoying, therefore only partially noting her being uncomfortable and struck by what I said, or perhaps by honesty of what I said, or even both, though still possibly by none of that, but by something else. However, I triggered myself from deliberation and realized, while noticing her ceasing all work and getting perplexed, if not at true disbelief due to reasons I couldn’t understand, that I was still standing next to her, being in all chances the exact reason for her perplexity and disbelief, bothering her even further, conclusion upon which I apologized once more and made way to the black room promising to redeem myself accordingly. I was almost at the door when I realized her agitated still, but lacking a note of condemnation which she previously showed in her indignation, loss of which leaved me wondering if there was a reason for her being uncomfortable with showing it. I acknowledge her deductive skill as rather high and she did not fail to draw from it, at once seeing through the matter at hand; seeing through that I saw through her, and was now thinking about it, while I was also aware that she has seen through me seeing through her, and was thus pondering in thought. I continued my way to the room, soaked in the coffee, realizing that I was to contemplate on this matter swiftly in order not to impede work. But just as I was entering the room, my living companion beckoned me to stay, to return or perhaps just to stay in place, since she appeared at loss of what to say, but only signaled me to wait for a moment. It seemed as if she was puzzled, I noticed upon giving her a closer look. What could she be thinking about, I wondered, growing perplexed myself at her, as well. Succumbing to restlessness I recall asking if she was feeling alright, Is everything alright, I said. She didn’t answer and I could not help but feel a bit worried, after all. Everything intriguing me just a minute ago then, ceased domination over my mind in favor of care which I felt appropriate and preoccupying me with a demand to determine the state my companion was in. She must have somehow sensed credibility of my concern, I reflected, or was able to discern it in my outer demeanor, due to growing accustomed to my presence around, because upon sensing it she displayed a change in demeanor her own, molding it into a more confident one, calm and even to my disbelief, relaxing one. In turn, I was struck by this change and she looked at me as if wondering, but positively sure in herself, at my confusion. What are you doing, she said to me in peremptory tone as I stumbled a step or two back to her, what do you think you are doing, she repeated, there is a cup here, look, and I looked at the table and saw the cup, contents of which were all over me, there is a dirty cup on the table that was not previously there, get to it, and look beneath your feet, you are blotting the floor, get to this mess already, she said sternly with a grin on her face. I must admit that firm composure I managed to preserve during the first display of her maliciousness was shaking, losing its footing and altogether crumbling around my growing exasperation. Chop-chop, she said to me playfully while pointing to the empty cup. I stood in place, not even paying attention to her, but trying to calm myself, trying not to grow more irritated in susceptibility to her viciousness, trying to overcome myself, trying, but just when I thought succeeding in calming myself, succeeding in regaining composure and leaving this scene altogether, with an ironic smile even, abandoning the scene as it is and going to the black room not thinking about this nonsensical enmity aimed towards me, she dropped another sentence, dropped it casually in her false concerned manner, saying, And what of your work, looking all worried and concerned for me, what of your work, dear me, I heard her saying while putting a hand on her mouth as if startled by the thought, you better hurry, oh yes, because even as it is a lot of time has passed since your leaving work, and now you even have to clean the cup and brush the floor! she exclaimed bursting in perverse mockery. At the mention of my work she hit the right string. She hit it and it broke, leaving me not inwardly, but openly, infuriated for serving as an object of her amusement; using me as a puppet to manipulate how she saw fit and to indulge in her own ruthlessness and perverseness while drawing satisfaction from my utter exasperation. I grabbed a mopping brush and set myself about cleaning the floor. I set myself about scrubbing it as hard as I could, as hard and as quickly as I could, and while scrubbing as hard and quickly as I could I heard my living companion laughing in amazement, laughing as if surprised at my willingness to do this absurdity, entertained by my readiness to abide her senseless whims, and while I was scrubbing as quickly as I could she was laughing as hard as she could and it seems the more the floor was getting cleaner, the dirtier my self-respect was becoming. I was scrubbing the floor to get it clean, but polluting myself, my self-esteem and any sense of personal dignity. Finished with scrubbing the floor I left the brush aside and looked at my living companion as if asking, have you had enough, did you get all the perverse satisfaction you needed, did you fill your tanks of pure malice by humiliating me like this, I thought to myself as I looked at her, and I saw that she realized what she had done, realized she had acted ruthlessly towards me, acted contrary to any propriety and manners, above everything contrary to her own sense of decency; acted unseemly degrading others in her ruthlessness, abandoning civility and all virtue in favor of basic meanness. I stood there looking at her expecting a response, expecting, but instead of getting one, saw her flinching while lowering the head, flinching instead of answering me and admitting the error of her ways, recognizing her viciousness. Then, out of nowhere, she raised her face again, lifted it up all calm and devoid of any remorse I thought noticing about her, looking at me and asking, How long has it been? Of course, this is another senselessness of hers I can’t discern the meaning of, I thought to myself while observing her imagined. But she asked me again, How long, has it been fifteen minutes already, since you came in? And I looked at the clock and answered, No, it hasn’t been fifteen minutes, barely over ten minutes have passed. Ten! she exclaimed. Ten, but not fifteen! She then thought to herself in silence for a moment before, out of nowhere and as if struck by some inner perception, stressing out, the cup! the cup will get it to fifteen! I stood there nonplussed at what she meant, but she yelled at me again, what are you waiting for, the cup is still dirty, it is on the desk, here, look, it is dirty, get to it, clean the cup! Clean the cup, she yelled and laughed at me, while I was bursting with rage for yet again allowing her to make an idiot of me, fool me into believing there is decency after all in her and towards me, feeling completely in her paws, being sacrificed from one moment to the next to her own nature, perverse and mocking as it is, innately inclined to destroying and ruining at all times. Grabbing the cup in anger from the table I remember her adding, Careful with it! It’s my favorite cup, I wouldn’t want you breaking it due to your crude urges, she said to me. Crude urges, I heard her speaking, not believing words that were coming out of her mouth. Careful, do you hear me! she said while I was washing the cup. I looked at her on the verge of breaking and asked, Is this your favorite cup? – Yes, that’s my favorite cup, she answered, the only one I use, I don’t use any of the others, so careful with it, boor! And I lifted the cup high in the air. What, she laughed, you want to break it, or even hit me with it? That’s it, boor managing the cup, she mocks, you want to lift it up high in the air and then throw it at me. I’m afraid it wouldn’t hurt a fly though, she taunted me as if she truly wanted me to hit her with the cup. And, of course, then I lowered the cup observing first if I had cleaned it properly before finding that I should polish its bottom some more. Why would I want to admit defeat before you, I told her, why would I want to do so? If I was to lift the cup up in the air with the intention of brandishing and hitting you, as you so imaginatively described, upon managing the same what would I gain? You would welcome any bruises as a medal of honor. I do not feel the slightest urge to hurt you. I could never wish any harm towards you, on the contrary; there is no compulsion within me ever present to bring you harm, such despicable and base compulsion is beyond me, you see, however infuriated and out of myself I perhaps am. – Hmph, coward, she jeered at me, coward, that’s what you are, she said again, losing all sound of confidence in her voice. I should stop now, I thought to myself, I should terminate any words that are about to come out and go to the black room instead, I told myself as I watched my living companion, in turn, watching me, calling me a coward, hoping to infuriate me beyond measure, as I placed her favorite cup in its belonging shelf. I noticed then the favorite cup of mine in the same shelf and for an unknown reason took it out. But then I looked at my living companion, I looked at her and said, No, what I should do is take my own cup, my own favorite cup, this cup actually, and I lifted it up high in the air and showed it to her, I should take this cup, take it and break it, take it first and then break it, and by taking it first and breaking it after, put myself in jail, put myself in jail by taking and breaking the cup, and someone else, someone unknown to me, putting someone other than me and completely unknown, who happens to be passing through the same street as I am, who happens to be passing there and instantly annoys me just by looking at me, watching me mockingly while I’m going through the town with the cup in my hand, with my favorite cup and soaked in the black fluid all over, putting that someone other than me, who is annoying me by looking mockingly, in a hospital, that’s what I should do. Then, you could meet with all your friends, meet with them, read newspapers and while they are bursting out in laughter at that article about a certain character, certain man hitting another with a coffee cup, hitting him for an unknown reason, hence, sending him in a hospital and himself in jail by the selfsame act, while all of your friends are laughing at this article, you can shrink to nothing where you stand, shrink to nothing being fully aware of the consequences your maliciousness and depravity drew. Yes, that is more suitable to your character, apropos to your personal disposition. Is that something I should do, I asked myself thoughtfully. And in saying this I took the cup, grabbed my coat and went out significantly agitated. Not even thinking about my living companion any more, and certainly not thinking about bashing someone’s head with the cup I was holding, I closed the door behind me and left. I was in that state of mind and mood where something inundated my consciousness, some urge unknown to me in its ultimate ambition, but impulsive and forceful in making itself present throughout my being, urge which made me act without thinking, thus my leaving the house all soaked and stained without having any idea where I was headed to. I turned to the left and on the point of the next crossing an alarming ambulance car passed me. I watched it rush beside me and in the south direction, when I noticed the door opening and my living companion rushing to the street, coming out all out of breath and looking at the passing ambulance car, observing the car, but not seeing me on the other side of the street, watching the ambulance while covering her mouth in disbelief before storming back to the house again, at which point I rushed to the left and out of the visual point of our household.
Finding myself outside from one moment to the next and more or less unaware I did not mind, the fact I had to find a bearable sanctuary for the rest of the day, on the other hand, provided me with great uneasiness. After an hour or two of aimless wandering, time during which I made myself presentable to some extent by washing face and blotted parts of clothes, I ended up in front of a familiar coffee shop, neglected, shabby, with an under the weather look, and the café was pretty much the same. My visits to this place were anything but regular, three or four times a year, and yet working personnel usually picked up my coming in for some reason. Entering the coffeehouse I concluded ordering a specialty of the day would be a good idea, because the chances were it was the cheapest entry on the menu. Besides, avoiding temporizing in terms of a decision what to order was the best course of action in places like this, especially if one was to try keeping to himself, meaning out of trouble I easily got myself into. It is a habit of acute observation coupled with inability to coordinate personal mind process with that of my immediate surroundings, ineptitude to adjust, in other words, that often makes me unwelcome anywhere I end up. That particular café, for instance, has two waitresses working in two shifts, I reflect, and while one took a particular liking to me, thus making herself unnoticeable in view of perception, the other was predisposed towards me in inasmuch of a contrary way it was possible. No sooner have I entered the café, than I could hear deep sighs of this somewhat plump, but a decent looking waitress. I used to lower my head in such unpleasant situations, but soon ceased doing so because I noticed the waitress otherwise taking advantage of my inability to cope with her unfounded provocations, quickly finding her way around the tables in order to remove the menu and leave me unable to order specials, or anything else, since I wasn’t familiar with neither prices, nor content. She would ask me then, as she did the other day, what do you want? and I answered her, as I usually must, I don’t know, which she took to be some kind of personal insult, at once responding in ostentatious manner, accusing me of shamelessly bothering an honest worker. I tried to explain myself more clearly, without bringing to attention the fact I needed to be careful with the money I spend, therefore asking if I could perhaps see what kind of coffee they have. There are few types of coffee in supply, as I’m aware, but she serves only one type, the one she personally makes and charges, with all the other coffee being bought from a vendor machine. I can only assume this is owing to a terrible quality of the coffee she makes. Rushing behind the bar she took the menu and, upon coming back, shoved it on my table with a considerable force. Here you are, capitalist. That’s what she called me. A capitalist! As if that was not enough of rudeness by itself, all the other guests, provoked in their attention, at once turned towards me with their contemptuous gaze. I couldn’t get this around my mind, because it was unlikely all of them were regular visitors, leaving me to wonder why they were all siding with the waitress. Why was no one thinking that I have the right to see the menu and decide for myself what I want, which seemed perfectly normal, before opting for one thing or another? Once again, instead of simply answering, coffee, I fell to thinking about the best course of action, ending up with the worst outcome. Looking at the menu, keeping my head down in order not to provoke further resentment, I found myself observing the surroundings, waiting for an opportunity when I could make my order in peace. This took some skill as the waitress was maintaining an effort of her own, intently observing the whole time what I would end up doing. What I wanted to do was nothing, but even that was considered as outrageous behavior because sitting in a café without ordering was not only rude but, apparently, not permitted. So I found myself in a dilemma whether to go to the vendor machine and take a smaller portion costing less, or take an order from the waitress, who was sure to pour me more of stale coffee than I wish for in order to draw more money and arouse me. I caught myself pondering if regular customers even pay for the coffee she pours, tasteless as anyone must find it, which I was always asked to do nevertheless. I decided for the vendor coffee. Making way for the corner of the room I could sense the waitress sneering at me. Dropping a coin in the machine I put my own cup where a plastic one should be placed. Perhaps to wait for the cup to be filled, I thought to myself, and then stay in the corner for a minute more so that anyone who might have observed me going to the vendor machine has enough time to misplace me as an object worthy of focus. Finding such an idea appropriate I proceeded to count to sixty. At the count of forty five I grew restless, however, concluding, as a result, I should make for the table at once. Turning around I was astonished to see the waitress mopping the table I was sitting at, having already drawn the chair in! I must have a right to sit in this place, I recall affirming at the time, and enjoy a product purchased within the very establishment. Venturing to the table self-assured and holding a cup of coffee in my hand, I realized the waitress anticipating my arrival and waiting for me to draw right next to her, at which point, feigning bewilderment, she told me, Oh, so you are staying after all. Well, sit yourself comfortably; I don’t mind cleaning again. Is there no limit to her effrontery, I wondered, feeling disrespected beyond any measure. Finally sitting down I took a sip of coffee which I hoped having in peace and not amidst extreme anxiety I found myself in. Instead of observing everyone to my own satisfaction, I had to keep my head low since everyone was observing and subduing me to their unfair judgment. Stingy, dirty capitalist, intent upon offending honest working people, parading his conceit and pompousness, is what they all must have been thinking, when the truth couldn’t be more opposed to that. But there was no way out. These tense situations were always present when I visited the café with plump but a decent looking waitress working. Keeping to myself, somehow I ended up absorbed in matters concerning the psychology poetry book. I could be working on it now, I remember thinking, not writing conclusively perhaps, but noting down thoughts to be further improved. In the last couple of months I felt three different parts taking shape in my mind. First interruptions as introduction, then the first part with situation as presentation, followed by the second part in the form of digress to progress, with indefinite thinking as a conclusion through continuation. This could be a good course of action, though not the only solution, with interruptions as introduction being an exception due to imperfection when placed anywhere else, but with all the other parts falling susceptible to variation, it struck me as appropriate to affirm. While I was thinking about all the options concerning work on the psychology poetry book, the coffeehouse gained a few more visitors. A company of four or five was apparently sitting next to my table, starting to make a jolly commotion, giving me a sign it was time to leave. Go once more through the preferable order, I told myself, and then rush back home and to the black room to note everything down. Thinking about the first and the second part, while taking into consideration the third part and interruptions as introduction, I could observe in peace the company next to me taking over the spot of immediate attention. On top of being loud and noisy, they created further commotion by pursuing complaints about the air being stale, food too late, while not shying away even from making rather impolite observations about the waitress, derogatory remarks rich in condescension, it seemed to me, though not to anyone else, apparently, all of whom minded their own business, not giving any conspicuous attention to this rude company in expensive attire and polished shoes, nor to the waitress who couldn’t get a word out in defense, due to all of her pride being buried deep down under the fear of losing job, choking to find appropriate smile with which she could please her guests at least to a point where they would not openly question competence of present personnel. Indulging wittiness to see how far they can pursue insolence for the sake of amusement, each and every one of them I found trying their best to outsmart and out-entertain one another in superciliousness, hoping to make themselves interesting in each other’s eyes, craving for recognition as if foundation of their self-respect, and not conceit, was dependent on it. It probably is, I concluded, while going to the toilet in order to relieve myself of unnecessary fluids. Perhaps even tonight, I thought while looking at a mirror, written work on the psychology poetry book will begin. Dismissing everything else as unimportant, filled with enthusiasm, I made way to take my things and pay the bill before leaving altogether. And don’t forget, first interruptions as introduction! I repeated as if jesting all the fervor I found myself possessed with regarding thinking and work. On my way through the crowd and to the bar I stumbled upon something which I took to be an extended chair foot, at first, though I realized by looking down it is not a chair, but a human foot, point of understanding at which I heard someone, the owner of the foot I suspect, saying in peremptory tone and not without warning, Watch where you’re going man, there is a civilization here, portentously with a bit of sardonic grin, while turning to his amused company. I must say that I felt inclination to answer him in a manner apropos to “my apologies young sir, had I known your being behind me I would certainly do my best to avoid you, especially with all the witty loquacity and ostentatious courtesy coming out of your mouth, amounting to not much more but a strangely familiar conduct, that of my grandmother’s pig, and do please bear in mind that I am not making this observation lightly, for my grandmother’s pig was a noble animal from a perhaps not so noble race, quite contrary to what seems to be the case with you, young fellow”, and in thinking this, it would seem my inclination got the better of me, for what I thought thinking, I was actually saying.
Couple of hours later, eventful in any case, I found myself in a jail cell where I’m resting still, unable to fall asleep. Lying on a rather comfortable mattress I feel I could leave consciousness easily despite somewhat swollen face, if only my cell mate wasn’t out of it, pouring down contents of an invisible bottle down his throat while winking at me and asking, You like what you see? Hm? Do you? From time to time he says it to the doors as well, but in repeating this over and again to no end I remembered my living companion asking me a similar question a few months ago, remembrance which prompted contemplation of how, not why, but how I ended up out of the house, at the café and in jail in the first place. Pondering on this will tire and help me bear the forthcoming night, I recall thinking half an hour before. Having spent thirty minutes going over everything that brought about my detention, I found myself still unable to fall asleep and wondering now not how, but why was I denied my freedom again? This must be fourth or fifth visit this year. A dull pain in the back of the head reminds me of a few reasons, yet leaves me not entirely convinced. Indeed, I was discretely told in confidence by lower desk law enforcers, people I grew to consider intriguing acquaintances, that the reason I was being kept within a judiciary system for such unusually long periods of time (prolonged after each visit), over and again due to what appeared as paltry reasons, is because they, authorities, found it necessary that I have some surveillance, found it propitious in terms of regularity of my visits to them, deciding by virtue of that consideration against letting me out until they found someone willing to pay inconspicuous attention to my so called aberrant fits, being after all, as they themselves claim, model citizen most of the time. They only needed to contain the threatening factor within me, occasional disruptive force, that’s what I was told, the threatening factor and the disruptive force within me, things I had great capacity for, apparently, virtues with which, admittedly, I am not familiar in the least, but which according to them, authorities, needed to be controlled if I was to remain a model participant of society, surely something I would hope to accomplish, is what I was told in confidence. As I was thinking about this, another law enforcer, one tasked with the job to officially address me, I suspect, showed up in front of a jail cell and, without leading me to a proper office where I thought such addressing should be done, repeated word for word everything that I was told in discretion and was thinking about. This led me to question if they perhaps have some file with instructions as to how to deal with cases like mine. I used this particular occasion to note how he should abstain, if possible, from using such expressions as “remain”, which amounts to insulting me with being a participant of society, a model participant even, questioning him why anyone would want to willingly participate in such an aberration as society has become? I didn’t get another word from this gentleman. He shrugged his shoulders, obviously disinterested at acknowledging my making a point, disinterested or unable, turning subsequently around and, having locked the cell after providing it with one more occupant, devoting all further attention to a fellow law enforcer and a TV show which, I must admit, though they were immersed with, they kept at a low volume. Newcomer to our present hospitality of two was a homeless man, someone I knew from previous detention sojourns, very much intelligent character, but ruined by women, or better say by his understanding of women in which he saw ultimate salvation, until his own wife left him, incidentally, for another woman, claiming in her change of heart ownership over all his scientific accomplishments, left him without nothing and in mental institution from which he is released two or three times a year, time during which he tends to confess his earnest love to any other woman on the street he happens to meet, securing our infrequent mutual encounters with the law enforcers. This unfortunate proximity of a friend to me, having entered the cell and scared the man drinking the invisible bottle to the corner of the room by barking at him, and I am afraid literally, went ahead and asked me why I would wish to reject participating in society, apparently privy to my recent outburst. That is all I wish, he tells me. Offering him to sit down on my mattress and hoping to pass the time, I proceed to explain that no individual should ever wish to participate, To participate is to dull one’s senses. Everyone wants to make you participate; all around us wherever we look we are being manipulated into some kind of participation. I have nothing against healthy participation, I tell him, nothing against two people participating in love, for example, three people participating in an intriguing conversation etc., however such things are foreign to me, but you would not normally think of associating love and intriguing conversation with word participation, wouldn’t you? Word itself dulls the love and conversation, does it not? And, yet, that is precisely what participating in society means – dulling your senses and sensibility, stifling your individuality and character on the greatest scale; or do you mean to tell me that a participating member of society is capable of catching your attention, let alone inspiring you? Asking this I observe my interlocutor removing his fairly preserved shoes, before continuing with somewhat less fervor. I, for one, do not find myself immersed in reading about a model citizen going to work every day, having a family of four with two children, preferably a boy and a girl, and a decent bank account for both retirement and children’s future education. But that is what the participating society means, it means complete lack of deviation, do you hear me, I attempt to catch his attention, deviation! Yes, the devil is mischievous, he answers to me, No, not the devil, deviation, you see, the participating society is a great factory producing perfect lack of deviation, perfect repetition. Participating members get up and go to the factory and by the end of the day they produce astonishing uniformity, conformity that works perfectly with another factory section which produces invariability, and by giving them monthly pay or better say monthly allowance, since they are controlling the market, participating members are made to buy these products of uniformity and invariability, purchase them on a daily basis and enjoy their meals of dreariness. I seem to have intrigued my friend a bit seeing how he stopped playing with his shoes and started nodding at me quite seriously. And then the authority dares to have effrontery in assuming how I wish to “remain” a participating model citizen, I work myself in some state of indignation, in fact, my dear friend, do you know why the authority is doing all it can to ensure most of us becoming and remaining the participant members of the society, do you, I ask and wait for him to answer me. I do, he summons the words after a whole minute, while nodding at me. You do, well tell me then, don’t hold yourself back at all my dear man. I do, of course I do, yes, he affirms, but you are so much better with words, yes, more apt with, you should speak about it and I will be sure to follow and rush in when the devil manifests. The devil, you mean the authority, why, you must mean so, some would deem that statement going too far but you are right, I jump up with excitement, you are thoroughly right, I say out loud, alarming the low rank law enforcer to be on guard, the authority is doing all it can to ensure us becoming and remaining the model participating citizens so it can indulge itself in total deviation, total versatility. They don’t find meals of dreariness the least enjoyable, they want variation served at every meal. Therefore, they serve to us what they themselves find repelling, putting up a charade out of this model citizen scheme so they can live at our expense. That’s why and how we every now and then hear about this authority or that indulging in all kinds of perversity; two yachts, three villas and four women, or four men, I say while the man in the corner nods at us, though most of us do not have a problem with them having four women or four men, to each his own, or even four women and four men at the same time, no problem at all, unless both women and men are actually children, which often proves to be the case, making us question their sanity and our obedience. That kind of variation is the basest of perversities worthy of most ruthless condemnation. But it is just that kind of perversity that the authority indulges the most; exactly because of that perversity the authority does all in its might to manufacture and produce the participating model citizens, manufacturing a model citizen and obedience so that it can, in turn, satisfy its perverse urges, both satisfy and develop them further; please their perverse urges first, voraciously indulge their gluttony at perversity, upon which they find themselves growing hungry for more, not being satisfied, but wishing for more perversities, growing hungry and being voracious about their perverse urges, being hungry, yet stuffed and satiated with urges they already had, so not shying away from developing even more perverse perversities, sicknesses really, new sicknesses and perversities, diseases of different flavor they hadn’t tasted before, newfound perversities, all of them to be eagerly devoured by the authority. If that’s not the most absurd perversity, than I don’t know what is! Perversity! mumbles my friend verging in-between listening and dozing off. They are up to their throats in everything a participating model citizen can only dream of, I venture to explain, up to their throats in everything money can buy, and since they are not possessed of a character to seek within themselves that which will give birth to self-found variation and self-found deviation, adding up to satisfaction and sense of accomplishment through their own efforts and means, being already fed up with three yachts they start to think of small boys and small girls. They do harm to the word perversity. My friend suddenly jumps up and screams, Beware of Mephistopheles, as I try to calm him down, aware of the guard who had already exercised personal amusement through the simple act of water deprivation. I somehow manage to calm my friend who keeps asking me if I know where he had put his shoes, Do you know where I’ve put my shoes, I have misplaced them somewhere, or it is the work of the devil, he says shuddering at the thought. I try to keep him focused at my disposition, keep him immersed in a theme I thought we were both developing, but I try in vain, each of my remarks hitting on deaf ears. I say, Perversity, and he nods his head thoughtfully at me, admitting that they are indeed yellowish, I say, no, concentrate, authority! Authority and their mass personality-murdering factories, expecting this to shake him up, and he is, in fact, struck by this statement, lifting significantly his forefinger at the point of his forehead, before exclaiming how it’s true that people are being destroyed, destroyed by the overuse of yellow, which is incidentally his favorite color, at which point I direct him to the other man, whom I noticed playing with the shoes. Pointing him towards the corner of the room I sit myself on an iron bench. I wait for my friend to return and he quickly does, happy at finding his shoes again, having barked at the other man once more, before putting them on. You see, I tell him, I am not even angered with the authority, I am fed up with obedience the authority is meeting at every step. I claim everything I said as true, but then again, one is hard to denounce all the good aspects authority may hold. Without delving deeper into the matter, it is obedience that repels me. I am disgusted, not so much at the authority, as much as with all the individuals around comporting to the authority without any questions, individuals who surrender themselves to the products of the authority, to uniformity and invariability, even though they have a choice, they are not forced to comport, not at all, though they are enticingly encouraged to do so. And yet, even having a choice, most of the people willingly accept comporting, accept surrendering themselves to uniformity and then even deriving pleasure from such personal capitulation. All I see all around are individuals ceasing to be individuals in favor of becoming the participating model citizens. And that repels me. I feel it out of place, wishing in turn to abandon people, even though I am one of them, exist among them, yet getting further and further away, or even starting to nurture dislike for them, I say to my friend as he hugs me, unaware of everything I just told him. Amiable embrace is interrupted by a new law enforcer who makes his presence, asserting how appropriate holding grounds were assigned for my friend in the meantime of his stay. We are sorry for any inconvenience, he tells us all before taking him away. Having barked at the man in the corner one last time and shaken hands with me, my friend was gone the very next minute.
Perhaps now, I think to myself feeling drained and tired, I will be able to fall asleep. Lying on the mattress, I close my eyes, wondering if I could start with the third part as the first one, following interruptions as introduction, and then proceed from there on. First get out, I tell myself, then pick up the coat you were left without while getting closely acquainted with all the gentlemen at the café, and then pursue efforts towards getting the psychology poetry book started, one way or the other, in the most ruthless manner, I tell myself, having in mind I will have lost significant amount of time by the end of my stay here. Still, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t fall asleep. The guard increased the volume of the TV he was watching, which was enough by itself to keep me up and agitated, and on top of that my remaining cell mate resumed his inanities by asking what I liked about him. Same question over and over again. For a moment, I thought of barking at him. In all chances I wouldn’t abstain from doing so had I not yet again remembered my living companion asking me a similar thing some time ago. What do you like about me, is what she said one evening while I was passing through the living room, I reflect lying on the mattress, hoping to tire myself into sleep. She was just on the phone so I assumed the question being related to the conversation led beforehand. What do you mean what do I like about you? I responded, not withholding genuine wish to help her if I can. What do I mean when I ask you what do you like about me? Old man, have you lost it already? Became senile to answer a simple question? So she must be provoked already, I remember thinking, provoked by the conversation on the phone, it struck me as appropriate to affirm while answering her, I wouldn’t call that a simple question. A simple question is not that, it is something else entirely. Had you asked me, for instance, is it raining, I would answer by stating yes, it is raining, unless it hasn’t been raining all day and was actually sunny, in which case the exemplary hypothetical question would arouse my suspicion regarding your intention for asking me such a question, having me wonder if you are somehow disturbed, bothered, and thus drawing attention, not to the weather outside, but to your possible vexation of whatever cause or, on the other hand, are simply making me an object of your amusement, which would seem more likely in such a situation. She looked at me with contempt, before turning her back and going the balcony window. Seeing her becoming disinterested in whatever aim she hoped achieving by striking a conversation, I made way to the black room. Going there, however, it struck me to add, And you? – What of it? – What do you like about me? Having acted on a whim results were more than satisfactory. Though not particular, it was in any case noticeable satisfaction that possessed me while observing my companion being helplessly caught in the web of her own manipulations. Struggling to find words, while biting her lip, that is sighing deeply but adding up to biting a lip, because she seemed struggling hard to find an answer, putting an immense effort to the extent where she had to sigh deeply in order to preserve self-control, preventing an open presentation of a defeat to which biting a lip without a doubt amounts to, deeply sighing and catching her breath, as if biting her lip through the flesh, biting and sighing in absence of some simplicity with which she could turn the situation around, trying, struggling and yet not coming up with anything, it was evident that she was failing in her attempt, unable to turn anything around, incapable of saying a word. And so I spoke up! Aha! I even had the boldness to draw forward a few steps closer as I said this. Struggling and sighing, sighing and biting, working on a way to get out of a mess she herself created, I interjected once more her discomfort by stating, Aha!, with a note of meaningfulness now, betraying complacent remark, while turning around to the black room. Ready to mind matters my own – having felt satisfied with achieved denigration and consequent ruination of my living companion’s urge to disparage and denigrate me, feeling satisfied not with denigrating my companion herself, since I had no wish to do so, but drawing satisfaction instead only from denigrating, defeating and, at least for a time, destroying her itch to denigrate, defeat and destroy me, not her character, only her itch, and just for a time – I noticed subsequently an oddity in her posture all of a sudden, incongruous calmness in her behavior, finding myself squinting even in an attempt to determine if it is possible for her to have recovered so fast, recovered, or kept together at all times perhaps, deluding me with seeming disturbed, looking like it, but actually feigning, acting at the highest level, thought of which made me shudder and draw back a step or two at once. Still, she remained calm and peaceful, not provoking me at all. Standing there, I could see that she was, in fact, gently smiling at me! But of course, there are many things I like about you, she said in a noticeable amusement, your dedication to work is intriguing for instance, not all the time, but at times certainly, it makes you stand out from the crowd, and not for having a big head; if I was so inclined I could even admit it was attractive. And just maybe, and she stopped thinking to herself for a second, thinking to herself and then smiling at herself, first with reserve but then enthusiastically as she added in a loud voice, I do! I find it attractive! Nonplussed and vacillating in perplexity, I can see her, as if it’s happening now, leaning in my direction before noting, Aha!, at a distance of a few feet away. “Aha” I could hear being said time and again, at the time, even though she wasn’t saying anything having said Aha once, so I shook head doing my best to remain aware of what she was saying. It seems your quirky peculiarities come naturally to you, of course, through coarse and not too pleasurable character, but you are due your credit anyway. There’s something pleasurable about your authenticity. I even marvel at you occasionally. You are not aware of it, but unhealthy attitude which you maintain towards life, bearing no effect on your work, affects your personality, dear man, and does so on occasion in a most pleasant manner. I am left wondering if your constant failure in work is the reason you are able to trample all kitsch. You tyrannize kitsch with your failures, she said, smiling at me, you are a despot. Ability to keep a distance from everything imitative is worthy of such a title. Meeting mediocrity is so boring. And here I have, right in front of me, all mediocrity and stereotypes turning their tail in face of your appearance. You are a beautiful despot, she told me again, I reflect, covering her mouth with hands as if immensely pleased with her conclusion. I could kiss you and brag to everyone that I had a privilege of kissing a beautiful despot, she said and actually came pressing her lips on my face, kissing me affectionately before stating, All I’ve said is the truth. All of it. Nothing but what I genuinely mean, I assure you.. is what you wish me to say, but is it, or is it something else entirely? And she turned around laughing, making way to her room amused inasmuch I could still hear her, even after she slammed the door behind. Standing in the middle of the living room for a while, I pondered if I am to make anything out of this, seek some sense in her words, but realized there is nothing to be understood. Taking seriously obvious mockery of both myself and my work, this perverse ridicule of my character, would be pointless, it struck me as thoughtful to affirm, so I went back to the black room intent on beginning the work on the psychology poetry book, reducing in the process all the unscrupulous provocations to nothing; deducing them to no significance at all, destroying them before they took root in my mind by rigorously dedicating myself to the work. Sitting upon the desk, I recall arriving at such a delicate condition of mind where reaching acute concentration was possible, therefore, taking a few deep breaths, I opened my eyes ready to start with work as I ever would be. These lowest of provocations might prove propitious to my work in the end, I thought at the time, assumption turning into supposition from one moment to the next, shifting subsequently to improbable presumption while I was rummaging through the desk and looking for the right pen, finding the one I was holding too itchy. It was suddenly too itchy and, no matter how much I scratched my palm, itchiness wouldn’t stop. I had to drop work efforts altogether after a while, unable to stand itchiness. Not ceasing for the longest time this bothersome nuisance made me consider going to the hospital even. Somehow I managed to stand up from the desk, however, and lie on the bed. Putting the itchy hand under the pillow in an attempt to prevent my scratching it, I realized that no laughing could be heard anymore within the household. Nothing could be heard at all. I used this household rarity, at the time, as a means of setting myself about sleep and forgetting the itchiness. In such an attempt, I thought for a few minutes about resuming with work tomorrow, as early as four o’clock, succeeding in falling asleep in a matter of minutes, as a result. Such are my memories of the occasion, in any case.
This minute recollection, indulged with deference, I hoped exhausting me out of the current sleeplessness, but it failed to relieve me of consciousness, I notice with some pathos, therefore, I find myself lying down on a mattress, pondering, How much time has passed since first coming here. I assume having wearied myself beyond sleep through reminiscence, by way of reflecting back in thoughts, because, while I was thinking was it a day or two already – where a cell mate of mine was standing, making out of himself a nuisance, I thought seeing my living companion. Trying to play tricks on my mind in order to relieve myself of stress, led to my mind besting me in such an attempt, I affirm, realizing how vision is failing me at last. Waving my hand at the nearby cell mate, as if dismissing his disturbances, along with my own nonsense, for the sake of peace of mind, I close my eyes in an attempt to relax. The noise persists, however, so I look up again, bent upon barking to achieve silence if need be, only to see my living companion standing right at the door, being an object towards which a man, to whom I was about to serve complete lack of civility, devoted his heartfelt attention. Apparently she had already settled matters with the authority, formally taking me under her surveillance. She must have been inquiring through public order and safety facilities, I think to myself, because I cannot see other way how she could have found out so soon, after one or two days, that I ended again so miserably. I say farewell to my cell mate and we leave in silence. Hadn’t my living companion appeared on the scene there and then, I would be detained for a week, or ten days even, before being released, I find it appropriate to observe, two weeks after which I would be in such a poor condition as to be completely unfit for work and in dire need of rest. Instead, I was driving in a taxi, observing my living companion shying away from looking in my direction, thinking how I should express gratitude, yet telling her that I will exit a few blocks before in order to pick up the coat I left behind in the coffeehouse. Of course, she answers in consideration, trying to add something else, it seems, but not finding words, she turns to the car window instead. Leaving the taxi I assure her I will be back home shortly, unsure why I am saying so, though concluding it, while watching the car disappear behind the corner, the best course of action.
Entering the café again I am surprised to find it without any guests. Young waitress forestalls me in intention to inquire about the coat, doing so not without manners, by telling me her shift is over, but still drawing out one chair from the table and pointing me to it while saying another waitress will be with me shortly. We nod at one another and a minute later I find myself alone altogether. With no guests and no personnel, having been detained for a few days, I catch myself thinking about isolation and indifference. Sitting there I start to consider, no life-no people, no people-no life, and I keep telling this to myself, no people-no life, one amounting to none. I take it on myself to presume it as the truth and in telling this, repeating this to myself over and over again, I begin coming to terms with the words together themselves, and with the idea behind the words, and so with enthusiasm I start considering the word people and the word life, following the word people with the word life, and vice versa, the word life with the word people; it all makes sense suddenly, life and people, people and life, and reiterating one after another, I bring myself to insinuate even love amidst these words, repeating the compositions no people-no life-no love, and people and love and life, or people and life bring love, taking in mind the idea behind the words; but then I notice somewhat plump yet a decent looking waitress coming towards me, all clothed in some kind of affectionate demeanor, as well as a few other guests entering the café, triggering me back to senses. I start thinking of standing up and leaving after getting the coat, away from people, I think to myself, while observing the waitress coming with the coffee, drawing near me holding a cup of self-made coffee and leaving it on the table I was sitting at, stating it is on the house even, away from people, I conclude, watching her reach her hand towards my shoulder, where she leaves it for a time, not saying anything further and putting at the place of explanatory words I expected, disfigured winking and a smile, at which point I affirm immediate necessity of going away from people, away from people, run for your life, for the love of God! Nonplussed at her behavior I am quick to steady myself against sudden attack which this politeness may precipitously conceal. But even in minutes to come I am treated with utmost generosity and kindness. Remembering the reason for my visit in the first place, I make a rather shy sign with my hand in order to ask the waitress for the coat. Disappearing behind a bar she comes back in a couple of minutes handing it over to me. Getting up at once I proceed to ask also how much I owe. She says again it is on the house, yet, assuming immediately I would be coming back, unwillingly, no doubt, but coming back still, and on such one or another occasion in future opt for the vendor machine, choking as I was on the just tasted coffee while doing my best not to reveal any such ill-mannered gesture, I preferred paying now in order not to insult her the next time when I decide against taking her coffee regardless of price. I wished to leave in clear terms as a matter of fact, trying to make the best of this visit, so as to not arouse the anger of the waitress when, in due time, I come again and take my way to the vendor. She, however, rejected any payment with outward firmness and asked me not to bring this matter again, because she was certainly to be offended by that. This firmness on her part made it even harder for me to think of leaving without paying, envisioning as I was already a situation in near future when I would visit again and end up ignoring the waitress, making for a vendor in order to save myself from choking, not opting for her stale, nauseating liquid, but for a regular drink, avoiding her all throughout probably and not taking a notice of her, as is my preference with all the people, all of which suggests a manner of conducting bound to offend her significantly, indicating nothing short of rudeness and lack of courtesy on my part, should such circumstances come about. Standing there before her, I find myself regretting offering to pay the bill after having been obliged with words “it is on the house”. Had I abstained from adding anything, I think to myself, I could have left and come back without feeling ashamed if I was to purchase something else; however, considering the circumstances, now I couldn’t see myself rejecting her self-made-choking coffee anytime soon, if I was to leave without paying, that is. If I pay now, next time I will be under no obligation to indulge propriety. Yet paying now will offend her. So I scuffed in place, undetermined what to do, until she turned around to serve another customer, at which point I took some money out of my pocket without looking, a sum I later found inappropriately too high, and, putting it on the table, run out of the café. By the time she noticed and came out yelling at me, I was already around the corner and out of her sight.
No more than half an hour later, I find myself in our household. My living companion is not visibly present, though I assume her being in, seeing the door unlocked. Having a shower after a few days without it felt quite relaxing. I thought of getting some sleep, but upon entering the black room, I found myself checking if everything was in order. The desk is how I left it, with the drawers locked, I affirm, and both the shelves and the chair seem intact. The bed was made, on the other hand, and judging by the freshness all around, the room aired out a few times. So nothing out of the order, I think to myself, leafing through the books at the shelf. Perhaps due to being absent for a few days, out of constant hospitality of my immediate surroundings, I catch myself affirming yet again how work on the book and note covers was done exceptionally. Upon leafing through some notes, I realize them arranged improperly, so I set myself about repositioning them. After a minute or two I feel satisfied with the new order, concluding the cover idea most propitious to the furtherance of all work concerning the psychology poetry book. Any other storage method would prevent me from organizing working material anew, impede working and thinking itself, in other words, hindering progress having not even started with writing, which I assumed happening any day now. I am two to three days’ worth of efforts behind, I think to myself, time during which I might have started with work, had I not been detained by authority. Looking from another point of view, I am able to set myself about work at any next moment, situation I certainly didn’t expect finding myself in only a few hours before, while lying down on a cell mattress. I was thinking about ten days, ten to fifteen days, which would hinder my efforts considerably on account of work I wasn’t sure would be done, but which I had high hopes of beginning with, nonetheless. Two weeks’ time away from our household amounting to thirty to forty days away from thinking, considering needed recuperation period, and, on top of that, another two to three weeks for reaching necessary concentration and thought acuity. Instead of all that I was already home, free of all recuperating, making my way out of the black room and into the hall now, noticing my living companion there and a bit surprised, if not uncomfortable, at seeing me. She must have thought I would go to sleep, tired and drained as I must have looked, but having been absent from work for so long and unable to think of anything else, I found myself on the way to the kitchen in order to take a glass of fresh water before approaching the task ahead. She moved away with unnatural awkwardness, as if to make more room for me to pass, behavior which struck me incoherent to her naturally dominant being and which, I must say, I didn’t like one bit, finding it artificial and undeserving of her otherwise sympathetic forceful disposition. It has been a few days already, and though I could sit down, concentrate and still fail at recalling even half of the events I was actively, though not wishfully, participating in, now, largely due to being removed from my work that same period, I was not so much bothered with what happened, but with getting the most out of it and proceeding to commit myself wholly to thinking and work. I look at my living companion, observing behavior I already described, wondering why should she be lowering her head and avoiding seeing me while I was on my way to get a glass of water, but instead of entertaining this observation further, I decide to drop the matter as irrelevant in favor of observing and noting to her that whatever it is on her canvas, of which I can discern only rough posture and shape as I walk by, strikes me as intriguing. I even give it a closer look, honestly having to admit that I like it. I like it, I say to her, and she looks at me knowing I am telling the truth because those simple words, I like it, I have said not more than three or four times on account of her work during our acquaintanceship, utterances all of which ended in what artistic public calls works of class apparently, and not less than a dozen awards disposed in some dusty box or under the bed. I take my glass of water and go back to the black room. Sitting upon the desk I place the glass on the side of it, check if the window is opened, only enough to assure circulation of fresh air, check the capacity of the pencil filler, check if my slippers are close should I feel cold, check if I have enough appropriate sheets of blank paper, check the order of my psychology poetry book notes, check if there is any drought in the room, check if the trash can is empty, check if I should draw curtains some more, check the order of the notes in the covers on the shelves, check the time and, upon checking the time, I get my hands on the table and set myself about starting with work. Most favorable silence is felt all around, not subtle silence, which I mentioned already, but loud silence, silence in which certain noises are always present, carrying noticeable, but not least disturbing, note of intensity. Fervor with which I engross myself in work, shifting one sheet of paper to another, acknowledging one thought as correct while discarding other as insufficiently developed, underdeveloped, but not wholly unusable, prone to further contemplating, I should say, and setting myself about contemplating at it, thinking about it while noting on paper all that is found sufficiently developed and deemed of appropriate growth in my work, of necessary evolution and, therefore, ready for being transferred to paper to serve as a starting point of further thinking and reasoning, soliloquizing throughout both mental contemplation and physical notation, speaking to myself and questioning myself in one type of voice, a contemplative type, while answering myself in more of a confident, definitive type, unless I am unsure in the validity of my assumptions and suppositions, unsure if they are worthy, in which case the circle is repeated by returning to the contemplative voice, the contemplative aspect of my duality, questioning my suppositions and assumptions again and again until my definitive voice is pleased with envisioned supposition, until it finds contemplation as legitimate and worthy of being transferred to paper; this interconnected process of thinking, to which I adhere with utmost ruthlessness, is matched by that of my living companion who, during our loud silence, mutually loud silence, silence complementing one another, surrenders fully to her own call, to the process of her own creation, pacing all around her canvas, pacing here and there, dropping the paints, now on the lower part, now on the left or the right part of the painting, losing any fear of making a mistake, spilling paints on the floor, spilling paints and oil and blotting the floor, bashing the cans all around, moving the furniture out of the way, furniture she could not possibly move due to its weight at any other time, dropping the curtains down if she feels like it, dropping the curtains and then using those same curtains to dispose her colors of, absurdly using the curtains to dispose of the colors, breaking the brushes she is done with, using bare hands to paint, using bare hands physically and language virtually, using foul language even, cursing if it need be to relax her arm muscles, both hand and arm muscles, relaxing herself and releasing her mind of everything holding her back in the act of artistic creation.
These intense efforts are maintained well into the evening, up to nine or ten o’clock, when my living companion calls it a day, finding the appropriate moment to cease work from which point it could be resumed effortlessly, telling me in passing, while I was working still, that she will be visiting her friends tomorrow, staying with them for a week. I take note of this information inasmuch it serves me to focus more momentarily, considering possible benefits relentlessness in thinking now, will yield tomorrow, when in propitious environment altogether, devoid of any outside hindrances, capable of resuming from whatever point in thinking I will have reached during the night. I was hoping to restore the mental state from a few weeks ago, when my mind was altogether ready, possessed of acuteness and delicate focus, both of which I was capable preserving for hours on end, restoring such mental collectedness, only without fever I was feeling at the time, mild infliction of which my body was relieved in the meantime through successful recuperation, though not without having disturbed mental state in the convalescent period. Work through the night, I say to myself, think past the evening and midnight, though not after four in the morning, at which point, at the latest, I should cease all efforts regardless of progress in order to get some rest before resuming thinking tomorrow, uninterrupted as I suspect finding myself in view of the note my living companion made. Determined to follow the envisioned concept, having succeeded in putting myself in the correct state of mind in no time, hence feeling achieved what I set about do to four or five hours earlier, with a plan of only doing my best to realize mentioned goals, not reaching them, and at a cost of six or seven hours, meaning from nine or ten to four in the morning, and yet getting done all that has been imagined with great optimism in no more than four or five hours, I find myself at the edge of exhaustion and tiredness somewhere around half past two in the morning, thinking this a perfect time to end work and go to sleep.
Having woke up at eight o’clock the next day, I felt agitated at realizing how I am, according to the mental note made at the time of falling asleep, already two hours late, having not even started with thinking and work. For a moment I think of prolonging everything for the next day, but in the end decide against it, considering such a conduct sign of objectionable work ethic. Instead I take Saramago, determining myself to read until the afternoon, when I planned taking a break in any case, and starting with written work from then on. Reading Saramago always puts me in the right frame of mind towards any intellectual endeavor. For a time, Hesse worked in that regard also, in my early youth, but then ceased being beneficial to my thinking from one day to the next, ceased its calming effect, being replaced, in turn, with Camus, who also maintained healing fascination over me for a year, or even longer, though not more than for a couple of years in any case. But no one achieved such a lasting soothing effect on my mind as Saramago. Orwell had a good spell, as did Gogol and Celine, even Hamsun, I find it appropriate to observe. Twain maintained his pull over me to this day, but to a lesser effect in comparison with Saramago. Kant serves to bring me back to lucidity when afflicted with dire anxiety, but works with less success on other occasions. Dickinson, perhaps, is someone who can compete with Saramago for the most propitious influence exercised continually over my mind. But this morning I take Saramago and not Dickinson, Saramago and nothing else, thinking Death with Interruptions a good subject to prepare myself for the necessary ruthlessness needed for interruptions my own serving as an immediate introduction. While leafing through Saramago I also keep reflecting about the work ahead. Considering I have seven days to pursue all efforts concerning the psychology poetry book, uninhibited and uninterrupted by anything save for inhibitions and interruptions my own, I could not prevent an onset of optimistic expectation, if not downright boldness, which lured me into fostering the notion how all of the written work regarding the psychology poetry book could be done in that time. I could finish all work in five or six days, I tell myself, bringing intellectual efforts worth over a decade to fruition. Mere thought of doing so inspired me to think of starting with work at once, but I found it best not to rush in precipitately and to wait until the afternoon, when I would be relaxed and fresh, before beginning with such a monumental task. Reading past noon, reading and looking through the notes concerning the psychology poetry book, doing both simultaneously, I take notice of some sound that resembled, Come, come quickly, being said not too far away from the black room where I was preparing for work ahead. I pay no attention to this inconsequential pointlessness, as there are many notes to be considered and surmised before setting myself about writing, many things to be done, meaning no time to be wasted on insignificances such as this impolite wordy beckoning. Yet subtle calling doesn’t stop and in due time another, come, and another quickly now, quickly, come now, are all of them thrown within the hearing radius of my perception, thrown as if to disturb and hinder my concentration, which these utterances are starting to achieve, so I cease my work, put down the pencil and Saramago, relaxing my senses a bit in an attempt to discern who is being called in such a rude and peremptory manner. From the exact point the pencil met the desk and onward, however, no voices or sounds whatsoever could be discerned. I stand up and go to the window in a futile attempt to prove myself how an outside factor, something unrelated to sensible tones, a howling dog perhaps, or a chirping bird, or else of the kind, found its way around senses and disrupted the flow of my concentration, situation quite possible in itself due to relentlessness with which I approach both preparatory and actual work, one contemplating the other, but instead find that no howling dogs are anywhere in the vicinity and the birds are altogether absent. I turn back from the window somewhat agitated for letting myself be tricked by my own senses. Just as I was about to brush aside all this to and fro about hearing and not hearing as complete nonsense though, nothing but excursions of overburdened focus, another “come” sounded itself in my head. It is too low of a sound to be heard by anyone but me, therefore I cannot assume it being directed at anyone else in my immediate environment. Am I hearing voices in my head? I think to myself not worried at first, simply puzzled, not worried, at least not worried until I saw myself standing in the middle of the room in front of the desk and working chair, at which point I draw a few steps back as if startled of my sitting down and the possibility of continuing to hear noises and voices, not terminating my connection with them but perpetuating it further to the hindrance of my work, or even impossibility of it! No, I say firmly to myself as I draw the chair beneath the desk, better not to sit down until I have all of these aberrations of weak mind stifled, until I have found them, discerned them and discerning them achieved means of their annihilation. They have to be dealt with, I say to myself, now not surprised, but worried, worried and afraid of merely thinking how this could affect all work, hinder significantly efforts concerning the psychology poetry book. Instead of finally giving birth to it after all these years, is it to remain confined within my mind, incarcerated by incompetence to the point where such incarceration produced fear and anxiety of its being realized, to the point where, even though it is perhaps ready as it ever will be, it is starting to dissipate due to apprehension of being achieved and accomplished? Did my incompetence and weak mindedness give raise to cowardice, or was cowardice in the face of success always there, impeding my progress in perpetuating manner, draining me of any common sense and strength, both physical and mental, feeding incompetence, doing its bidding until finally culminating today in these sarcastic voices, whispers which I dare suspect calling to my own annihilation, to the oblivion, while noting to me, quickly now. At the point of this thought yet another “quickly” sounded. I am at my most attentive by now, making sure no sounds on my part are existent, intent on isolating all from my mind but these calls for personal annihilation. I listen, observe and pay attention to the subtle murmur all around, and then it dawns on me! It is not in my mind! Someone has broken into the house! Oh the joy and delight! Elation struck me and I was rejoiced beyond measure. I was on the verge of going out and inviting them to take anything they wished out of my room and the hall, anything you wish, here, I thought of saying to them, let me give you a helping hand, it is a pretty heavy bed after all, heavy but sturdy, ideal to sleep on, for those not suffering from sleeplessness, in any case, I may add to them. Chair, why of course, chair I can bring to you myself, it is a bit shaky on the left foot but that is easily fixed, something surely well within your faculties, I have no doubt, and I mean it most respectfully gentlemen! I stop for a minute and listen, though I do this without any apprehension now, in good spirits and merely in affirmative manner in order to validate positive assurance as a means of avoiding any awkward situations, such as ending up, not with two, but three burglars, who might get an idea that I hold some grudge against them, preposterous though the thought may be, or meeting no burglars at all, a speculation which makes me shudder, placing all my subsequent attentiveness in the hopes of hearing fellow men within our household. But just as I was steading myself to observe intently, a bit slurry what are you doing came from the bathroom and I rejoiced once again, this time with my whole heart. That’s it, I am to go out at once, go out and admit to all the present gentlemen that I understand their doing, times are harsh and one tries to survive how one is capable, I understand that, I will tell them, I understand that and you please understand that I am not holding anything against you, in fact, I may add to them, I will help you in your doing, I certainly will, for there is some important work you see, some work I must set myself about at once, with utmost haste if you please, work of great importance really, work that was just a minute ago verging on being ruined and destroyed, but which is now quite alive thanks to you gentlemen, I will tell them, and propose to give a hand so each of us could be left to our own agenda and further tasks. I grab the door handle with determination, resolved to bring about peaceful solution, but then stop imagined and reflecting to myself. Yes, I would gladly do all of that, but what if they are not interested in anything I possess, assumption most credible, and are trying to insinuate themselves into ownership over things my living companion has custody of, what then? I cannot allow them to steal her assets and belongings. Or her works, that would be the worst! They could take all works of mine, thought of which I entertain the prospect for a moment, but why would they leave with nothing at all after making an effort to break in, I dismiss my reasoning as witless. I withdraw my hand from the door handle and start thinking about what I am to do. There are no more than three of them, I am sure, though it could very well be just the two of them. In both cases, I am in a great position if I am to let them do as they please, but in much more of a severe position if I am to deny them particular assets, development of situation they wouldn’t be pleased with, I gather. Thinking this, I find myself facing the logical conclusion. Think and determine the best way to refuse them taking possession of the belongings of your living companion, I tell myself. Making way to the phone is unlikely to end up being propitious to the chances of succeeding in my intentions, so I focus on dealing directly with visitors, one way or another, though polite solution I find very much preferable. Due to my being more accustomed to the house lay out, I hold cognitive advantage in the case of impolite solution, I observe, however, that advantage fails to instill necessary confidence I needed to carelessly open the door, so I think further, if I am perhaps to launch a sudden attack, a sudden preemptive attack on all of them, while trying my best to protect assets of my living companion. I come to the conclusion that this is the best plan of action. I cannot be at the same time polite, applying to the benevolence and understanding of my visitors as a means of negotiating a peaceful resolution, while denying them at the same time all the reasons of their unfortunate visit. I draw my head nearer at the door trying to intimate myself with the knowledge both of numbers and position my visitors held within premises, but I can’t hear anything due to an onset of complete silence. I listen diligently, but nothing can be heard, circumstance which prompts me to believe I am dealing with professionals and should abstain from making any movements, remain in the black room as silent as I can be, leaving them to their business, at which point I grab the door handle with a sudden and curious enthusiasm, eagerness really, at the prospect of facing them all, preferably three of them, I think to myself, three or even four of them, as I press the handle down, developing some sort of twitching excitement in the tips of my fingers and throughout my body, anxious to rush at them for one reason or another, rush at them upon pushing the door towards myself, which actually does happen, occurs without me pulling the handle down, but due to sudden onset of loud and heavy punches at the door, occurrence adjusting me in readiness to throw myself at the puncher, action I fortunately avoid doing at the last minute as I see my living companion looking at me bewildered, asking, What are you doing.
What are you doing? She asks me. What am I doing, what are you doing? – What am I doing? I can hear her answering obviously baffled, I took a shower and was making order within the living room, which you were supposed to do, weren’t you? – I was? But what happened to your leaving out of town and visiting your friends for a week, I ask all confused. Her face develops disparaging expression, agitated countenance I am still trying to decipher when she proceeds to hit me fiercely on the edge of my forehead, punches me on the head with her hand, immediately both concerned and annoyed that I didn’t even flinch at her hitting me, looking all the same indifferent at her jabbing me, certainly not because I was trying to achieve any such heroism, but because I was nonplussed at the development of the events leading up to the current situation, from the set of unlikely circumstances proven to be immaterial to the situation I now find myself in, circumstances and situation my living companion isn’t the least aware of, all reasons due to which I was unable to take note of her hand coming my way. Are you alright, she inquires and looks with care at my forehead, let me see, she adds observing, before hitting me again upon apparently not noticing any or enough damage. This one I should’ve anticipated, I think to myself. I’m not visiting anyone, friends of mine are coming to town, We are being visited!, she tells me in a tone I found unnecessarily strained. Now get yourself together and help me make some order around this mess. Come, and don’t you dare not making yourself presentable for their visit and presenting yourself, do you hear me, she says viciously while taking the door handle out of my hand and closing the door before me. I wait for a few minutes before opening it again, trying my best not to show behavior that could be considered insolent by doing that, noticing she closed it with some meaningful force, trying, even though I have to eventually open the door if I am to help her make an order out of the mess I am unfamiliar with and avoid being deemed disrespectful all the same for the reasons of disobedience and inconsiderateness. So it wasn’t the burglars, I think to myself, not the burglars, but then again, neither the voices within my mind, it was my living companion calling for me from all over the house. From her room and the hall and the bathroom, or even while showering, resulting in the different voices I failed to recognize as hers, being convinced she was out of the house and out of town, but actually both in town and the house, concerned that I wasn’t doing my share of work, which I wasn’t, being preoccupied with the voices within myself and the visiting burglars, being taken upon a task of dealing with two threats, one dangerous as the other, both serving to the detriment of my work. But, even taking for granted that it was, in fact, I, not she, who misunderstood the object of a visit, how come she never told me we were having visitors before? She was under obligation to inform me of this visit at least a week in advance so I could prepare myself, both mentally and physically, for such a draining and distressing experience, according to our agreement established from the first day of our co-habitation. Of course, I realize and tell myself at once, she didn’t have the courage to tell me because she knew I would never consent to such a long visit. Two to three days, that is what she could have gotten out of me. And only after a prolonged period of exhausting persuasion, after no less than three to four days, or even more, spent in an attempt to extort my favor, would she have a hope of accomplishing her goal; in all likelihood, such amount of time was bound to influence her towards dropping the visiting idea on account of necessary efforts needed for its realization. But knowing this she concealed all information from me, until the day before yesterday, supposedly, keeping me in the meantime oblivious to her subterfuges. Indeed, I was under the impression that in the last couple of days, or even weeks, she was considerably predisposed towards having conversations of intriguing nature, insinuating them in my presence on a regular basis, knowing I will be interested in conducting them, but now, in the light of this sudden visit I was previously unaware of, her erratic and unpredictable behavior made sense. She was trying her best to please me, doing her best not to go against my grain, I think to myself, in order to put herself in a position where I wouldn’t dare denying her a pleasure of having friends visit for such an atrocious amount of time. She played on my good conscience, but she was wrong, I affirm, made a mistake thinking I have any. I shall deny her this visit, not today, of course, but two or three days from today, not this day, since she did many things I am grateful for, but in a few days when she’s thinking how her plan worked out, how my conscience fell into her trap unable to discern and repel her malicious whims, unfit to counter her deviousness, as it will certainly seem for two or three days, then, upon passing of such a time, I will throw all deviousness back at her by demanding, out of nowhere, the visit to end, conditioning this to be exacted at once by my own leaving. For now, play the part. Calm down, relax, in the back of your mind think about interruptions as introduction and in the front about keeping your intentions to yourself. First and foremost protect your thinking and work. Think in the early mornings and during the night, and work on putting yourself in the best mental and physical state, when prevented from working. Early mornings and during the night, I keep repeating to myself, trying not to remember my thoughts from the morning when I considered finishing all work on the psychology poetry book in five or six days possible. I open the door and leave my room at last.
There is indeed a mess of things in the living room, a mess to a small degree my own and on behalf of that part not consequence of genuine lack of awareness, but of conscious carelessness which surfaces within my mind from time to time, though in especially colorful manner when hindered in my work efforts. On such occasions I find relentlessness and calculating grip over matters not concerned with the psychology poetry book loosening a bit, not giving profound attention to arranging each and every brochure, essay and note, or arranging them into proper order; allocating notes and books in mutual ownership to their proper shelves and cases in somewhat of a roundabout manner, leaving them throughout the living room and all over the place at times even; misallocation which, I have to say, now, while storing all those books into shelves and notes into cases, struck me as more convenient, reasonable thing to do, leaving them where they are and opened at the exact point from where the work on any particular subject in those books and notes is to be continued. Nevertheless, I dismiss these thoughts upon realizing they are slowing me down in making an order out of the present lack of it. All things considered, it doesn’t take more than an hour to put everything in its belonging place, adjust the space not to presentable, but to a state which provides comfort and is likely to evoke sympathies from my living companion’s friends, though not from my living companion, who was in her room during my tidying ordeal, letting me know what time it is. It is four fifteen now, four fifteen, you hear! And then, it is four nineteen, did you manage to do anything in-between four fifteen and four nineteen or are you waiting for four twenty, she asks me unable to believe for a second that I had started working. By half past four I have finished with books and notes, finished with what I thought was required of me, required, but knowing my living companion, certainly not enough, so in the hope of bypassing participation after all, avoiding making myself present, for two or three days in any case, or at least exposing myself in the shortest possible time imaginable, I proceed to make order through things not my own or in mutual ownership, but through some of her own assets. I look at all the paints, brushes and dirty clothes, look at them thinking what should I set myself about arranging first, and just as I am about to take the brushes, seeing half of them broken, probably cheap brushes meant for experimentation, therefore objects bearing least danger for me to ruin by making order of, I hear my living companion from her room, Four thirty one, four thirty one going on four thirty two! I will come out any minute and if I don’t see you finished I will burn your notes! This startles me instantly, even though a second later I realize she is only just trying to make me more diligent. Still, there is no reason to continue this perverse threat. I will burn them, I know where they are, you try to hide them, but I know where they are and I will burn them. Four thirty three! she announces from her room. I am arranging her brushes in haste now, making an order out of her brushes and paints and putting the dirty sheets into the basket, reducing the mess altogether while thinking at the same time about burglars and questioning myself if perhaps in the end they would have proved to be less of a problem. I dismiss the idea though, noticing how I’d almost put the brushes into the washing machine instead of the dirty sheets. Four thirty six! By the next time she stated time, of which I was aware, having a watch on my left wrist, I was already done with all the chores I could imagine her giving me, though not with all the chores she herself could envision. I knew that she wanted me to remove my own mess, not her mess, just my own, being concerned not with her own mess, which could remain as it is, not cleaned at all, a mess she believed went with the nature of her call, with her artistic expression, therefore holding complete immunity to being susceptible to any scrutiny on behalf of her visiting friends, holding immunity to being judged by them and, quite likely, the possibility of being deemed complementary to the sympathetic artistic air all around, contrary to my own mess, which served only to disparage an image of good taste in-between the walls of our household. Finished with all I thought was needed to be done, both my own mess and the mess of my living companion, finished making an order out of all that co-habitual mess, in other words, I make way to the living room where I find myself observing the piece my living companion is currently working on. It is far from finished but, as I observed earlier, quite good. I entertain the thought of not removing the piece at all, not storing it, even though we have a visit coming our way, four thirty nine!, not removing it, but placing it in the corner instead, installing it behind the book shelf which will not impede it, reaching barely to the lowest part of the canvas. I could turn off two of the three lights in the lamp beneath the canvas, turn them off and even set the setting on the third to low, creating that soothing effect through shadowy appearance in the corner when the main light is absent. I start thinking if I am to do this, but find myself doing it unaware, realizing how the chances of not spending at least some time with her friends are non-existent, having in mind her affinity to torture and disturb me, four forty one and a half!, to make me uncomfortable due to my impolite and inconsiderate (dis)appearance, a conduct the living companion of hers should never exhibit, as she stated more than a few times, and also having in mind how disobedience in this matter was inevitable, because I cannot change congenital disposition, therefore, with due consideration to all the possible aspects and views with regard to the current situation, it struck me, while moving the painting, that I should be on my best behavior from the start, at least for two or three days, all for the sake of my work. From the moment her friends arrive I should be there with her, welcoming them in the hospitality of our household, making sure I am showing myself in the best light, not acting like myself, not being myself, which could be considered somewhat rude, as is my supposition, or downright offensive, according to my living companion’s deepest belief. Then I might be excused shortly after the introduction, which will, in any case, pose interruption to my efforts. I get on with moving the furniture, the canvas and everything else, four forty three!, placing all of it in a way that would appease acute architectural sense, arranging it to please my living companion and evoke praise from her friends, not for me, of course, for her, evoke praise and please both my living companion and her friends, satisfy their aesthetic senses and mental tastes, so that I can physically escape from them as soon as possible. I will act to her own taste and, in doing so, mislead my living companion and her friends, hoodwink them into making a well-mannered, courteous and sophisticated individual out of me, thoughtful and delicate even, I think to myself as I proceed to further rekindle an air of refinement throughout the living room. I finish accommodating the space the way I saw it pleasing to the eye and sense, four fifty nine, do you hear, nine and fifty! and decide that my current attire is not suitable for the upcoming occasion. I make way to the black room and, looking through the closet, take out one of the suits I don’t wear, not the one I use for going out on usual affairs, but one of those which I preserve for the time when the psychology poetry book is finished, at which point I will have to act in the most presentable manner, so as not to do wrong by the elegance of my work. Upon taking it out I set myself about dressing, opting for a tie and a waistcoat, latter of which I hope will make me appear more approachable and sociable, more friendly and open, instead of giving raise to my true indifferent and stern, not to mention at times antagonistic and misanthropic nature. Having achieved what was intended, five and six, I am late but coming out in a second and will make short work out of you if you’re not done! there was nothing else to do but to sit myself in a living room chair, sit myself comfy anticipating either arrival of our visitors, scheduled to come at five as was pointed out to me more than once or twice, or arrival of my living companion out of her room, where she was stationed for more than an hour. Waiting for either to happen, I come to realize how my living companion must be prone to untidiness. When I think about it, there was a lot more of her mess than that of my own, though my admittedly was more unacceptable even in its minority. One is puzzled though at providing reasonable explanation which would justify her thorough absence from the central hall where her friends will be arriving at any moment, completely unsure whether the hall, living room, or the kitchen, are presentable, leaving its appearance in a confidence of a questionable individual, to use euphemism in that statement, trusting in me to meet an end with what can after all be considered work; puzzled indeed to find an explanation that would not harm her ladylike delicacy and sense of decorum. If I wasn’t so concerned with the imminent threat of our visitors’ arrival without the host being ready, concerned with being stuck with all the customary welcome traditions, I would perhaps find her conduct even disappointing. However, the anxiety that was taking place within my mind and body prompted me to put any such thinking aside and steady myself for what could prove to be one of the biggest challenges so far in our co-habitual life. Whole week, it strikes me again to observe, seven days! What was she thinking, I cannot but wonder. Doing my best to attain and maintain conduct I found desirable and preferable it occurred to me that for a while now all sounds and peremptory utterances from the room of my living companion were lacking, observation which brought me to look at the time, noting, minutely, five twenty seven. Exactly at this point my living companion opens the door looking all restless and tense, looking nervous and apprehensive, seeming that way for a time, merely for a brief period though, twenty to thirty seconds, time during which she managed to pass all over the room and the kitchen with her preemptively judging eyes, eyes giving way to condemnation on whatever grounds they were already prepared to condemn, but finding everything in order, arranged properly, and if I am to take liberty and discern by diminishing severity in her meticulous gaze, arranged to her taste, allocated to accommodate her expectations, or surpass them, occurrence she did not expect at all, as I can notice by looking at her nonplussed countenance, nonplussed with what I had accomplished, finding everything pleasing as I already said, she had to abstain herself from condemning me, prevent her ready-made accusations from truly being made, which she managed to achieve only partially, I would say, considering that, while she succeeded in overturning her eyes from expressing judgment and into what looked to me satisfaction at least, she still found herself unable to prevent putting finishing observation and evicting conclusion by intensely stating, with late mitigation, five twenty nine! I look at her without making any comment whatsoever, wondering if she has anything else to add, but she falls silent. Perhaps she is surprised at my dressing up, I think to myself, surprised at not only doing what she told me, but making an extra effort, extra an effort ostensibly for her sake, but I have to lower my head before her as I think about this, turn my view anticipating expression of gratitude, appreciation to come, aware as I was that I did it for the sake of my own deceit, that is for the sake of my work, not for my living companion, therefore feeling some shame in looking right at her and absorbing her recognition. However, I am quick to affirm how there is no reason to lower my head for doing as I was told, doing what was asked of me or even better than that, it is ridiculous to behave in that kind of manner, I think to myself. Regardless of the actual reasons lying behind the deed, if they are not harmful one should not feel ashamed at all, it strikes me. So I shake my head and look up at my living companion. By the time I steadied myself and proceeded doing so she is already making way to sit down on the sofa opposite me. Again, another redundant impulse of decorum makes me turn away as if looking at her sitting down will provide me with some sort of impropriety on her part which I will be able to exploit. I am at a loss to find any meaningful fault with such a propitious chance, while maintaining my view on the floor. When she’s comfortably placed on the sofa I privilege her with an observation yet again. She is returning the favor, though I cannot see any appreciation or gratitude in her countenance. Maybe a few second more until she is most pleasantly seated, sofa being rather tricky to attain sort of relaxation she demands of a sitting furniture, but even after a full minute she fails to show any signs of satisfaction, contentment I was undoubtedly seeing seconds ago, with all that has been done. I keep looking at her while thinking to myself, did I miss it? A moment ago I observed her astonished at what she was seeing, all prepared to thank me in consideration, I thought, but now all of that is gone in a few moments passed while I was looking and she sitting down. A minute ago I was facing a mild onset of acknowledgment which I found uncomfortable to such a measure that I had to look down, but now I am facing none of that, leaving me to wonder if I did the right thing in lowering my head, and questioning if the capacity for praise of my living companion is limited to the interval between three and four seconds. To my curiosity, I find that I am bothered by this. My living companion is not privy to the true reasons due to which I endeavored myself into making such a good work of our household order, in fact, one would assume that she cannot but hold me personally responsible for doing her bidding so well and for her own sake. Having that in mind, why is she sitting opposite me, looking alternatively at her watch and the door, seeming not at all pleased? They are late, she says to me. I don’t respond, of course, doing my best as I am not to take this statement as an insult while observing her in a delicate grey dress, dress making me notice how beautiful she is, comparing to myself the volume of her now quite apparent beauty with the intensity of her inconsiderateness and ever present affinity towards peremptory conduct. Of this comparison, the ultimate result I am, however, unable to determine.
Time leading up to the start of what I assumed ensuing into unfortunate set of circumstances completely out of my control, which happens sometime after six when we are visited by three women, not particularly interesting, if at all, my living companion and I spend in a vigorous conversation. Subject of this conversation proved to be probability of a chance that I will make what my companion regarded as a scene. I have to say that I did not quite understand what she meant by the term, but upon explaining to me that she would, on this particular occasion, consider me as being insolent and rude, if I end up insulting her friends one way or another, I laughed at her, noting that there is no way some nonentities in the shape of her friends can provoke me into insolence or rudeness, regretting instantly using the word nonentity before determining the statement as correct, which I suspected happening in due time. This subtle strategy of proposing a challenge as a means of keeping me under control during the upcoming and regrettable visit failed to achieve the desired effect, but I concealed this from my living companion, letting her believe how I am all too eager to prove the extent of my self-control, dependability behind it, keeping this misbelief of hers as a last resort should I find her company intolerable and draining, even before the passing of the second or third day, which I had wits about me not to regard as improbable. The effects of subterfuge immediately started showing, making my companion in turn positively predisposed towards me, and, due to that predisposition, apparently inclined to assert now how I did a good job on removing all the mess, both yours and mine, she notes, and tasteful work on getting myself suited above satisfactorily. I could not but smile at her, not divulging, of course, the reason behind my amused countenance, which lay in well-acted, therefore, contemptible performance, performance and act intent on using deceit for reasons selfish and objectionable, though aimed solely at preservation of my work. Still, the work concerning the psychology poetry book is already late, with no chance of being done in the next five or six days, as I believed possible, I think to myself, while taking note of a perfectly acted subterfuge being rewarded with honesty, on account of all the sorting work done, I was dishonestly denied a few minutes ago. She even stands up and adjusts my tie while nodding her head at me, a reaction promptly accompanied by the sudden knocking at the door. As is customary in these occasions, I take upon myself not to seem wholly disgusted while greeting these women as well, all of them delighted to see their friend again and meet her living companion, displaying manners I couldn’t help finding ostentatious, recognizing anything but delight concerning the latter, probably discomfort, it strikes me, concluding how semi-retarded silence and nodding on my part were evidently inappropriate response. They proceed into our living room while my living companion remains before me and by the door, making sure she is the one closing it, as if sensing how I’m already wavering in determination to prove anything at all, facing the possibility of escaping this disaster. And indeed, I thought of rushing out, rushing out now and anywhere else, saving myself from those parasites in our living room, running away and saving myself and my work, plan of action I cannot follow, however, because my living companion closed the door and, taking the key out of her pocket, locked it! Locked the door! This is nothing short of a contemptible behavior on her part, I think to myself, baseness and rudeness of the lowest kind which makes me wonder if her conduct is contemptible enough to consider myself offended. I entertain the thought of making a point to leave now, using this unmistakable insult as a means to escape, something I feel entitled to do to, I conclude, while hypothetically thinking conversely, if my living companion would be justified in leaving should I conduct myself in such a derogatory manner to what locking the door in the face of her leaving me among friends of my own would amount. There is some prospect in this idea, dismissing the fact that I don’t have any friends as one beside the point, so I proceed to make myself and my opinions clear, make a stand on this point, finding myself insulted or at least insinuating myself into feeling insulted, because I don’t actually see the reason to feel insulted by her act of locking the door, I have another key, after all, but just as I am about to speak up, she forestalls me in my intention and notes how she isn’t locking the door to keep me in the house and with her friends, but because she is worried for me. You shouldn’t go out, she tells me, you are in a convalescent period, still recovering. – Recovering from what, I ask her while thinking to myself how I am in what I consider a favorable health condition. No, when was it, just recently, right? Or was it already some time ago. Maybe I am wrong after all, she says imagined, yes, of course. Nonsense, here you go, she puts the key back into the lock, you’ll excuse my behavior, I hear her saying while putting the key back into the lock, though without turning it, be careful out there, she tells me as I fail to understand what is she talking about, but realizing that there is a chance of getting myself out of this mess, of avoiding all this nonsense of conducting conversation with people I don’t know and have no wish to know, people who will dement me with their nonsense, indolence and insatiable craving for amusement, I gather as I draw a step closer to my living companion and to the door, I hope you won’t be bringing any cups with you this time around, she tells me cheerfully, No, of course not, I respond in a playful tone, while remembering my recent sojourn out of our household. It didn’t end well, did it, she smiles and draws me into laughing with her, No it certainly didn’t, I answer, though it would have been worse had you not come to see me out, I find it proper to mention. Ah, I observe my living companion noting to herself in an imagined manner, Ah, I see, she says in a pleasant, satisfying voice, as I realize how I am yet again caught in the web of her subterfuges. Ah, she says, but it means, It was me who got you out, wasn’t it, that is the correct interpretation. Ah, I see, are the words in a ridiculously low tone coming out of her mouth, but the true context they purport is, It was me. I’ve called all the hospitals, prisons and shelter homes looking for you. I was so worried that I kept calling until I found you. I even dropped everything else to come and get you immediately, that is what is truly meant. I want to say how this behavior is unacceptable, ruthlessness with which she keeps me under a short leash perverse and malicious, but I have to remind myself not to say anything as I am making way back to the living room, remind myself to keep quiet, since she did come to my rescue, she saved me from a week or two stay in a prison, quite an uncomfortable stay and a prolonged deferment from work, I imagine, while going to the living room with all urges in check, compulsions and urges to pour out all relentlessness and obscenity she is pouring out on me with her deviousness, maliciousness and deviousness I couldn’t match, but ruthlessness I could surpass, making sure these urges are under control while entering the living room and meeting our visitors with a smile on my face.
This is a standard routine of my living companion, far superior to my working routine, calculated mechanism in the state of perfection which is carried out without my being aware of it until the very end when it is already too late to react and due to which I find myself suffering through the longest stretches of time, over and over again. Elaborateness in the mechanism involves my living companion helping me one way or another, getting me out of this or that situation and circumstances, all of them possibly dangerous to my work and thinking, possibly but not definitely; getting me out of jail, buying papers, paying bills, nurturing me back to health when I’m sick, doing this, that and much more, always without me asking for it, because I never ask anything of my living companion, save for respecting conditions we agreed upon moving in. And yet she does these nonsensical things all the same, without ever accepting any repayment for them, I think to myself as I sit down on the chair beside the four women, all of them bursting with hugs and tears. If only she would let me repay my debt to her fair and square, something I offered myself to do numerous times, occasions on all of which she rejected my propositions stating that she doesn’t help to get something from me, but because she is a good person. A good person! This devious mechanism is a pure malice making me suffer at all times she sees it fit, due to my being unable to indulge such base maliciousness also and save myself in times of peril by acting of my own free will, as I should have done a few minutes ago by walking out the front door. Should have, but couldn’t. Instead of mental audacity, proper and required in situations such as this, I display craven susceptibility to a sense of gratitude, ending up, by way of personal weakness, doing something else, which I do not wish to do but am obliged to due to weak mind, most often meeting the prospect of being subservient as the result, prospect much too likely for anyone’s taste, especially my, and which deprives me of free will by simple act of observation. For instance, if I want to shower first, which I am entitled to do if I am already entering the bathroom, my living companion needs only to jump out of her room, which she unfailingly does, jump out unprepared for a shower, reading a book, in fact, jump out with a book in her hands and ask me if I’m going to shower now, Are you going to shower? Obviously, at such times, I respond, That is my intention, but instead of leaving me for a couple of minutes to take a shower she asks me in addition if I paid the phone bill. I just wanted to ask you if perhaps you paid the phone bill. Standing there at the bathroom door I have to answer that I didn’t, otherwise she wouldn’t be asking me such a question. It’s alright, I paid it, I happened to be passing by the bank. Any immediate attempt to repay the debt, however, is met with refusal and even offence being taken. You will pay another time, right? Having no choice but to concede, I assure her that this will be the case, and it always proves to be, writing all over my notes not to forget paying the bill, ending in consequence paying three or four in a row, paying them, therefore, more often than she does, but still not managing to take a shower first since she mentions bills at the exact time when it is propitious in view of ultimate aim she set her eyes on. Such development of circumstances leads me to misplace any intention of going to the bathroom momentarily from my mind, thinking as I am of not paying the bill, having forgotten to do so, and making a mental note to prevent such lapses in the future, thus standing in place a minute or two at most, instead of using that time to enter the shower and close the door behind me, but by the time I am back to my senses my living companion is already out of her room with a towel, wondering if perhaps I am not finished yet, but just about to enter the bathroom, situation which she is apparently amazed at, therefore, of course, I proceed to tell her how there is no need to shower immediately after all, You go, please, I just remembered something that needs to be done, I would tell her and watch her go to the bathroom with a smile on her face, thanking me while walking by, as I, in turn, make way back to black room, searching for a distraction to endeavor my troubled thoughts into. The similar recipe applies to everything else. She buys me a stack of blank papers for my work, cheap set on the sale, as I see from the stamp, small stack, amount of which lasts me no more than two or three days, and then for the whole next week keeps asking me if the papers are satisfying, Are the papers any good? I thought they would be good for your work so I got them. I wonder if they are actually good though. Do tell me. And I think to myself how the papers were so thin you could see through them, paper sale garbage, faulty manufactured goods on sale, or even giveaway, unusable for my work, but I end up using them eventually, finding myself without any at some point, so I have to tell her that the papers are good and proved to be useful. To my astonishment this serves to intensify her curiosity which I thought the answer would appease. In consequence, instead of putting this matter behind us, instead of acknowledging my answer and accepting my sincere gratitude, she keeps asking me, over and over again, each day, and even few times a day, for the next week, for ten or even fifteen days, long after I have used all the papers already, having bought three or four times worth of papers in the meantime, she keeps inquiring if I am pleased with the papers, if they did me good and if she can see what I have so far written on those papers. It isn’t worth mentioning these questions and inquiries always come when one of us should go get groceries, tell neighbor downstairs to stop shouting, when someone should take the garbage out, when her walls need painting, her painting needs new colors, her colors need new brushes and so on. She keeps using and misusing me this way and I can do nothing about it. I once bought her a brush in an attempt to use her own deviousness, her own means against her, but she took the brush and broke it in half, rebuking me for daring to offend her with such a worthless thing. It was an expensive brush, I recall, well worth my monthly stack of papers, occurrence which determined me not to throw money in this manner again. If I pay a bill in advance, after paying three or four in a row just from the guilt of forgetting to pay once, this is not considered a favor, because she had already done the same many times, as is regularly pointed out to me, observation which is true, but which nonetheless should not be mentioned after finding out that I’ve been successively paying the phone bill for half a year, even though I don’t use the phone at all! I have paid it for you many times, she tells me, you are misusing the favor by having insolence to mention it in order to gain favor. Don’t be so stupid, I can still hear her saying, being further affirmed in my belief that I should drop the matter before going insane. I should cease any attempt to prove my point, I tell myself, because, to get the better of this whole perverse misconception, to show her the complete error of her manipulative ways and to beat her in her own devious game, I would have to invest myself wholly in the question at hand. I would have to devote myself to the cause of proving my point right and her wrong, proving my way just and her unjust, showing her that she is a malignant and selfish person using others in despicable ways, without any reason to do so; I would have to give it my all to accomplish my aim and there is no guarantee I would succeed, because in order to at least have a chance of achieving what I aim for, I would have to surrender myself fully to the cause, while my living companion, estimating roughly, spares no more than ten or twenty percent on torturing me, saving the rest of her capacity for all her other life endeavors. She is always multi-tasking at torturing me and doing anything else, I find.
Still, I am capable of triggering myself from these self-destructive observations and deliberations, from contemplations regarding the point to my companion being proven, because somewhere in the back of my mind there is always an awareness that work must not suffer any such foolish distractions. Work must not suffer any distractions at all, I note to myself while looking at these women reunited with my living companion, talking about each other’s lives, though not without inquiring about my from time to time, as I am saddened to notice. Let her have her way, I think to myself while answering some usual question to our visitors, I must focus on my work, that is the most important thing, not thinking about her subterfuges, double deceits, or treble manipulations. You will get through this, I tell and encourage myself, nodding in a reassuring manner not to our visitors who probably think me polite and attentive to what they are saying, but to inspire some confidence regarding these, to my work, dire circumstances. By every passing minute I am growing more and more accustomed to hearing their voices instead of inner accusations and agitated contemplations, hearing these women and understanding them, while in turn quieting my inner-turmoil and its voice, which I find accomplishing in quick fashion, seeing how very soon, by the sheer force of willpower helped by having work in mind, I am left with complete understanding of what these people are saying, something about a span of lapsed time and sadness and happiness, things making not much sense to me, but obviously much to them, as is showed by their constant affirmative exclamations. By the time I am asked how long have I been living with my living companion, I am back in the perfect composure, regretting perhaps only that I failed to manage, failed to reach that needed measure of self-confidence in my living companion’s eyes, which would shake her belief into a degree of control she thinks possessing over me, shake her belief into dominance over me to the point where she would not only put the key in the lock, but where she would have to turn the key and unlock the door in the hope of dissuading me from acting of my own free will. Not put the key only, but turn it as well, and unlock the door. I look at my living companion who’s using subtle mimic to point out how I should be the one to answer the question, which I proceed to do by stating that I cannot precisely remember how long we have been staying together, but that it must have been two years already, or even more, though possibly less. This evokes laughter from our visitors prompting me to believe I’ve managed to make myself useful, however, a stern glance from my living companion makes me question such supposition. Year and ten months, she tells them, information which, makes a significant impression on all present. So you’ve been staying together for almost two years, says one of her friends, which struck me as easy-going. Two years is a long time, added the other, sitting in the middle, opinion complemented by the third woman, who asserted that it is still a brief period, in one’s lifetime. Observing as the sentences about nothing were tossed from one woman to the next, wondering how much time had passed since they came, I tried to hold myself back from looking at the watch, not from reasons of decorum, but because I hoped that by prolonging the time by which I would decide to check the clock, what I would see and note upon checking it would impress and please me more. In that way, I easily overcame the first urge to look at the watch, the second came in less than a minute after, so I didn’t even pay any attention to it, but the third proved to be a challenge, considering how before it arose I was asked another question by one of the friends of my living companion, about my age, to be more accurate, to which without any delay I provided an answer by stating thirty five, number which was then followed by twenty eight, thirty two, thirty six and forty one, amongst which I was sure that my living companion’s age corresponded with the number thirty two, and rather unsure about whom any of the other numbers belonged. By the time I was done calculating what number belongs to each person, our guests were already immersed into another matter, so I offered myself to go to the kitchen and bring some refreshments. I am excused for the brief period of time needed to get those refreshments, as my living companion says in an ostensibly jesting manner, though, unlike her friends, I am aware of the gravity and ponderousness behind her statement. As I am about to enter the kitchen, walking from the hall, I notice that the key is still in the front door, the key which my living companion didn’t even turn, leaving the door locked while succeeding to deny all inclinations within me to give birth to a genuine act of a free will. Such sight tempts me at once to go to the door, not to leave, being far beyond that point, but just to turn the key in the lock, to unlock the lock, that is unlock the door, which, it seems to me, would lift my spirits most significantly. I enter the kitchen and pour myself a glass of water wondering if my unlocking the door would lead to making a scene, which I am determined to avoid, if possible. Making a scene, even though I deceived my living companion into believing I would abstain from doing such a thing, thinking at the time how I would accede to making a scene if I found it unbearable to sustain the company of our visitors, I now find not at all propitious to my work. My work is what is most important, after all. The psychology poetry book which, at this exact instance, is perhaps being devoid of its potentially most defining moment, knowing fully well that such a moment can come at any given time. I could be writing right now, I think to myself while leaning on the kitchen wall, observing the key in the lock. I could be writing or even going past the introduction, both of which are made impossible for me by having to welcome, accommodate and entertain our visiting guests, it strikes me as proper to note. I take the drinks and go back to our living room where my living companion and her friends were apparently waiting for me. I distribute the drinks to the best of my ability and take my seat again.
It is understandable how maintaining any will to resist the urge of looking at the watch and checking the time, the whole challenge behind it, now that I was sitting again, having gone to the kitchen and came back, forgetting all about the time and checking it in the meantime, was proving to be harder to bear and withstand by each passing minute. After all, it must have been a long time since I thought of checking the time, being busy, what with determining which woman is what age, what with thinking about unlocking the door and a correct way to set myself about it without drawing attention. An hour and a half, or at most two, I gather, not more has passed since our visitors came. An hour and a half being an objective estimation, and two whole hours an optimistic, though not impossible one. I feel a sudden onset of irresistible compulsion to check my wrist watch, to determine is it an hour and a half or two hours, but I am afraid this could seem impolite, having in mind that I might be overjoyed if it is two hours, or on the other hand fall in dejection if it is only an hour and a half. So I tuck the watch beneath my sleeve in order to prevent myself seeing the time, even should I succumb to a wish to check it. Upon making sure the watch is under the shirt sleeve I take a few deep breaths, doing so carefully, in order to avoid attention of our visitors or my living companion. Calmed a bit, I notice one of our guests talking about going out, which puts me in good spirits, therefore, I turn all of my focus to the company and what they are discussing. It turns out they are talking about where to have a drink tonight, and by tonight they mean ten or eleven p.m., fact enough in itself to put me right back in spirits where I was a minute ago, assuming it can’t be more than nine p.m. now, if I am optimistic, or eight thirty, if I am to be objective in my estimation, on top all of which they are hopeful of myself accompanying them. Apparently they find my conduct and demeanor enigmatic, thus the wish to make my acquaintance more closely. Seriously doubting this statement, I assumed its ultimate goal amounting to crude attempt at making me an object of their entertainment, however inferior such an attempt in comparison to that of my living companion may be, though I do not say this to them in a contemptible voice, or in any voice, as I only smile at them while shaking my head left and right. They pose no threat to me at all, I think to myself, no threat whatsoever, I affirm, they can have their two or three hours of easy-going mind hither and tither, period during which I will use, both use and misuse, if need be, strength of my character to endure them and their own displeasing personalities, time upon passing of which I will resume my work, feeling rather good about it and thinking that during the upcoming night I may make a compelling progress. This is what I’m thinking when my living companion asks me, in a meaningfully serious tone, And why won’t you come? Can’t you come with us so that we can all together enjoy ourselves? She asks and I fall silent. I am sure you’ll come with us, in fact. This I am sure you’ll come with us, in fact is said with such a note of confidence that I am left positively nonplussed at otherwise not so demanding an expression. I am unable to make my definitive point of not going out by the time our visitors celebrate our going out all together. No, no, I manage somehow to put forward finally, I could not, for I have absolutely no wish to do so, I think to myself, though I confess to them only that, contrary to my wishes, work prevents me from enjoying what would prove to be a delightful evening otherwise. You could postpone your work for tomorrow, I hear one of our visitors saying, surely one day makes no big difference, she tells with some passion and keeps repeating in an inquisitive manner, assuring me further in belief how few more hours with these people would prove well beyond unendurable. No, I regret sincerely, is what I proceed to say, but just as I was saying this, one of the women suddenly asked what time it is. On account of this question all resistance regarding the self-imposed challenge not to look at the wrist watch was unconsciously overcome, resulting, unwillingly and without any hesitation, in my eyes dropping at the hand area of the sleeve where I noted exactly seven thirteen. Seven thirteen, I find myself noting. Seven thirteen! I exclaim and reiterate, falling crushed into the back of my seat, having realized how barely an hour has passed and I am already at the end of my forces.
I am not sure what our visitors made of this outburst because I displayed abundance of rudeness by not paying any attention to them, for a five minutes or so, vaguely acknowledging my living companion speaking to them in the meantime, while I was out of it, half unconscious, until gently touched, caressed or rather pushed by one of the women, the one who spoke about postponing my work, pushed me back into awareness, while asking me if I would be going out with them. Does this mean you’ll be going with us, she inquires. And I look at my living companion wondering what is she talking about, what is this “this” that is supposed to signify my acceptance to whatever she thinks I am willing to accept. My falling crushed in a chair unaware, repulsed and ceasing to speak altogether? But my living companion is enjoying herself with her other two friends and she doesn’t even take notice of me looking at her, doesn’t see or notice one of her visitors pestering me, not politely inquiring, as is proper in such cases when conversing with someone unknown, but pestering with her peremptory inquiries and questions whether I will go with them and whether I am fit to go with them. She actually deigns to ask me, Are you fit to go with us, I am astonished to note as I catch the sight of a trash can half full in the corner of the room. Are you fit to go tonight, she asks once more, at which point I jump out of my seat stating that I will be right back, after I empty the trash can, latter of which I don’t say, of course, though I find myself showing her the reason of my abrupt leave owing to persistent countenance claiming peremptory meaningfulness with which she pursued me all throughout the living room, by simply pointing out to the can, having grabbed it previously, leaving my immediate interlocutor somewhat perplexed by the selfsame act.
With the can in my hand I make way to the hall. Once there, not knowing what I am, in fact, doing, I fall to observing and listening to what my living companion and her friends are talking about, evidently as they were among themselves, and without paying any attention to me, chatting and mimicking joy, which doesn’t escape my perception, all of them acting, because I see and have noticed both envy and condescension beneath their mimicking, concealed under happiness and delight; envy, condescension and conceit are written all over their faces, with my living companion evicting the smallest amount of envy, though supreme condescension beneath pretense. Looking at the trash can in my hands, I find myself wondering if they are privy to all this deception and hypocrisy, privy to awareness of mutually existent knowledge of deception and hypocrisy in-between them, but answer myself at once, of course they are, that is sustaining their friendship. All the best friendships rely on a deception, while its subjects thrive on envy and condescension, pushing each other further in the art of envy, condescension and hypocrisy without crossing the line, contesting one another towards shortening the space between what is barely permissible and impermissible, making a challenge with the ultimate result of realizing infinitesimal fine line of acceptable behavior in the art of enmity permeating friendship. That is why, after all, we hear how one friend ruined another, one of the good friends destroyed another, and even, not infrequently, the best friend killed another, indicating that the art of friendship was pushed to such an extreme where infinitesimal fine line which all friendships are based on simply had to break, ending in such horrible results. As often in friendships, they are competing now on who will put the better act of ostensible kindness, better act of ostensible affection, better act of ostensible happiness, without showing a degree of actual kindness, actual affection and actual happiness, I affirm. Noticing that the can in my hands is filled with a single piece of paper and a broken brush, I start to question myself if it wasn’t a bit inappropriate, after all, to leave the friend of my companion in such an abrupt manner and in the middle of the question, all in order to, ostensibly, empty the plastic bag which, as I now see while looking at it, is already empty. Drawing a few steps back at the edge of the hall, I take a peek at both my living companion and her friends, trying to determine if my impropriety was taken notice of, but am relieved to find out how they are doing their best still to shower themselves with affections and maintain good rapport. Withdrawing to the hall and looking at the bag again, I conclude how my behavior must be the subtlest possible, in order not to draw any attention at all. One suspicious sound may invoke my living companion to call out to me, beckoning me to come back at once. Or even worse, I arouse myself to a state of some apprehension, what if she finds that I am missing for a long time, and proceeds to look for me, realizing in the process what I am actually doing? I would be doomed for months. This kind of thinking brought an attack of anxiety within me, so instead of simply unlocking the lock, as I set myself to do a minute ago or so, before starting to think about it, that is, I caught myself turning the lock one way and then another, locking and unlocking the lock repeatedly, over and over again. Having first opened the lock once, I must admit to have felt perverse sense of accomplishment, and to the extent that I turned the key again immediately, this time in reverse motion, locking the door once more. After thinking for a few seconds about the needed subtlety, however, and the possible outcome of its lack, I came to a conclusion how a few deep breaths to calm myself and distance from the hall and the lock would be most appropriate. I inhaled and exhaled three times, thinking this will make me relaxed, assuming, but, finding myself in turn succumbing to aforementioned anxiety, I ended up turning the key incessantly, left and right. I was even so lost and apprehended by tension that, inbetween many locking takes, it so happened that I once opened the door and stepped outside, letting go of the plastic bag which the rush of wind took to the neighbor’s yard, where the neighbor himself was standing, brandishing his fist as I was closing the door. I should concentrate on what is dire in this whole unfortunate set of circumstances, I tell myself, on setting myself in a correct way about turning around and returning to the living room, hoping as I was nobody noticed my latest behavioural mishap. Perhaps I should turn around and act as if I just went to empty the trash, thought I am fascinated, even taking everything into consideration, to consider as the actual truth. Finding nothing wrong with such an approach, I make to go back, not due to an access of courage, but for fear of what my prolonged absence could produce. Entering the living room, one step at a time, pondering on harsh comments and unfortunate outcomes that are about to come my way, from one moment to the next, I find myself, to personal amazement, sitting in the chair, as pleasantly as the circumstances allow, reflecting in peace how nobody noticed what I was doing. My living companion actually asked me what I was doing, not noticing my absence at all, an inquiry on account of which I mustered some way of saying emptying the trash, while observing her nod her head disinterestedly, maintaining all the while conversation with her friends who were, in turn, engrossed in chatting with her, not taking notice of my anxiety, but talking among themselves, about one thing and another, having not seen each other for a long time, all of which makes much more sense to me now when I am sitting in the chair, relaxed, in contrast to a few minutes ago when I was turning the lock over and over again. Repossessed of balance and in a satisfying mood, I decide to take note of what they are talking about.
Apparently, conversation is currently being led about many different accomplishments both my living companion and her friends have achieved in a lapse of time they spent apart, span I assume not greater than a year, in any case, henceforth, time presumably too short to prolong this conceit-envy-perversity-mendacity-filled theme throughout conversation for any significant length of time, I think to myself. This is another in the line of personal assumptions which I am all too eager to take for granted, only to be proven wrong in ways I could never suspect. Following them in their interpretations of self-found worthy achievements, it dawned on me how deserving of their attention current object of conversation evidently was. Admittedly, I applied attention to our visitors and their accomplishments, considering myself familiar with that of my living companion, which were subjected to a well-deserved scrutiny, I may add, though not devoid of both suspicion and envy amidst apparent respect. I realized in addition, by quick reflective mentions done in more of a polite than deserving manner, how one of our visitors had already divulged what she considered noteworthy in her achievements, fact which failed to arouse anything but indifference within me, but a fact which produced regret amidst the present company, finding it unreasonable to have personal disclosure repeated, yet not managing to lose a feeling of reluctance towards the idea of continuing with this display of personal advances, without my being aware of one of them. A few of reflective mentions and additions, cursory in any way and indulged both by the woman in question and her friends, were aimed specifically towards my acknowledgment, I observed, because disregard in everyone’s faces with relation to those additions was evident, level of interest I myself assume expressing throughout this perverse career exposition, though without any discrimination in-between our visitors. Being a nurse determined to achieve a doctor’s degree, though noble and worthy goal in itself, failed to possess fascination over me, not due to the fact that, apparently, this is the goal she has been working on for more than ten years, because I myself am of belief that even remotely worthy goal demands supreme effort, but because not once in these reflections did she express the wish to equip herself with better faculties to help people, to heal people, gain abilities and knowledge to better herself in her expertise, in order to grow more competent in the field of medicine, no, instead of that she kept repeating the doctor’s degree, doctor’s degree, doctor’s degree, not talking about enhancing her prowess, but about adding a title before her name, uplifting a notion of technical education without developing factual, making me sincerely doubt if she held any pretensions towards improving her competence at all, being possibly pleased by whatever knowledge she already possessed, and also provoking my curiosity to ponder if she would be willing to accept continuation of her work as a nurse, should they give her the doctor’s degree and a doctor’s salary. I even thought of asking her if she would find it acceptable to abandon any goals towards seeking improvement in the field of medicine should she somehow find herself in possession of the doctor’s degree, but I denied myself posing such a question, thinking it rather impolite, while considering that words doctor’s degree may very well be the shortest way for her to speak about accomplishments and goals, something which even I, confused as I must have appeared to the present company, and without a doubt so due to passion I noticed all around regarding this matter, would easily understand. In the back of my mind I was also scared of her answer, because I wasn’t sure if I should be able to deny myself retaliation I had felt building up inside of me should she fail to contravene me in what I assumed would be a probable and despicable answer. I shrugged, shuddered and dismissed any unmannered thought, thinking there is no need whatsoever to provide my opinion regarding the matter, while assuring myself that doing so would bring nothing but discomfort to everyone present, including myself.
It should be said that, by the time another of my living companion’s friends started with her rendition of self-found accomplishments, I was somewhat intrigued to hear her out, inclined not to give my accusative and doubting nature free rein, but listen in taciturn manner whatever she found appropriate noting, thinking this a perfect opportunity to observe people from up close and without participating in what is normally considered maintaining good conduct and polite conversation, either by interjecting, usually in affirmative tone, or by making attentive and encouraging gestures and mimics, actions I find abhorring and superfluous in any case, ruining subjectivity which reveals true nature of interlocutor due to being unable to resist selfish urge to insinuate oneself into spotlight as well via discourse; maneuvers all recognized as indicative of delicate bearing and acute aptitude towards nurturing favor, practiced to an extreme pitch among civilized society, therefore behavior which often makes me disregard people around me. The friend of my living companion sitting in the middle of the sofa then proceeded to give us account of her own self-found merits. In a short report on much ado about nothing, we were acquainted with her family life, husband’s success, unbelievable growth of two children, and her own hand in assuring all these matters were developing in the right direction, last of which I was prepared to hold in the highest regard, finding that securing development of no matter what in no matter which desired direction is a proof of personal ability and charisma, quality we can rarely observe in people nowadays, especially family people like this woman appears to be. Still, in the process of her elaboration I couldn’t help noticing ingrained banter on behalf of our other visitors, not of my living companion, I immediately note, just the other two of her friends, banter relating to the current narrative, making me inclined to suspect, yet, at the same time, determined to resist suspicion on its given account, believing in the better judgment of my living companion over the two women I have no reason whatsoever to consider even remotely reliable. Resist doubt and ostensible vice of susceptibility to disbelief on this occasion, I tell myself, shut down a trait which is otherwise most useful, it strikes me as appropriate to observe, for suspecting and doubting often proves to be the saving virtue of myself and my work. Making an extreme effort not to take what is being said with any doubt whatsoever, putting myself into a frame of mind unfitting to my personality, in other words, assuming disposition where I would be willing to consider her account as truthful one and jesting gestures of her apparent friends as simple playfulness at best, I came to the conclusion that my endeavor in this regard was not in vain, because even though I was not impressed with anything this woman said, I was infatuated with what she omitted noting. Upon listening her account, it was also evident that those jesting gestures and banter were simple baseness which her friends couldn’t resist showing due to their own lack of character.
What fascinated me about this woman was a complete lack of reminiscence, lack of any remarks, of her own free will at least, regarding her cinema career, being a talented actress once, as I remembered at once having seen her in a theater, complete disregard on her once prospective future while speaking about her accomplishments, that is, thorough disinterest in that time in favor of her newfound occupation as the head of the family, something which I grew to consider as the worthiest achievement and quality during the evening, not because she was a woman, or at least not for that reason mostly, considering matriarchy is somewhat of a taboo even today, ridiculous attitude though it may be and giving anyone justifiable reason to acknowledge her ability to prosper in her role as the head of the family to a higher degree still, nor because I found her decision to devote herself to the family appealing to my senses, far from it, but because of the almost infallible confidence she emanated regarding her life changing choice, determination to leave her, as anyone would regard, appreciative lifestyle behind, leave all the glory and fame with good prospects of reaching, if not the highest, than well deserving and world renowned career, leaving all that behind her, and not only leaving it for a time, or for a few years, as we often see done on behalf of many talented people who delve to announce their definitive leave from their profession, only to come back running as soon as their pockets grow thin again, but leave it for good, drop it entirely without reminiscing, without so much as mentioning it, leave her acting behind her when she was getting calls from virtually everyone in the cinema business to take part in their projects, calls which were bound to make of her a wealthy and influential person, an individual accomplished in her field, a highly skilled person as an actor, leave all this in her late twenties, turning her back on a secured future for the rest of her life, leave it and be done with it, as she repeated a few times when interrupted and asked by one of our visitors, No, I am done with it, she affirmed, no doubt, done with it, it’s over, she said, continuing to talk about her family, simply turning her life around in this manner, without giving it another thought after deciding, from one moment to the next, changing her life monumentally, devoting herself to another cause when everyone was saying she was destined for greatness, even judging her decision, both judging and criticizing her selfishness for not paying attention to what others thought and expected, what others deemed as worthy, not caring for the opposition she was facing from all sides, but sticking with her own decision, believing in her own judgment, believing and staying true to her own belief when turning her life upside down, staying true to herself and never looking back, from one moment to the next, is what indeed fascinated me about this woman. Then, when she was done, one of our visitors, the one with whose account we were still unfamiliar with, asked her if she regrets leaving her career behind. Do you regret leaving your career behind at all? To this, the family woman replied that she has found her happiness and couldn’t ask for more. It struck me that I have sympathies for this person, even though she indicated measure of doubt being unable to resolve herself towards answering brusquely – No, a response I found appropriate a reply to the question which could be deemed as inappropriate at least to a certain extent. Regret is a most useless thing, I find myself thinking, what is there to be gained from regret other than furthering personal inability to make any progress? We make a mistake, as we are prone to do, and having made it, we brood about it and are discomforted. We delve into uneasiness and personal qualms. Is there anything worse we can succumb to when faced with a mistake we made than regret? Even making another mistake is bound to address us in some direction, therefore leaving regret to stand alone on a throne of emotional and conscious uselessness. We hear people say I regret this and I regret that all the time, instead of saying I will do this and I will do that to change something or other I am not pleased with. But, of course, it is easier to say we regret this or that than to do something about it. Regret is pointless, I was thinking, but still I was seeing traces of it in the face of a family woman now, while one of our visitors kept asking her if she regrets leaving her career behind.
Do you regret leaving your career behind? she is asked before answering again that she found her happiness. Had the conversation moved from here onwards, one could believe her for the most part, considering she emanated something I thought can be assumed as happiness, though I was unfamiliar with the idea. However, the last of our visitors yet to speak about herself did not spare family woman any qualms and kept asking: Yes, you are happy, but do you regret abandoning your acting profession? She didn’t even let her respond, proceeding to reformulate inquiry, wondering if she would prefer to both maintain her position as the prominent figure in family affairs and act, had she means to accomplish so. To this, the family woman couldn’t answer negatively, saying thereby, I suppose, giving her inquisitor free rein to berate her with one statement after another, noting that she could have probably maintained her career while preserving focus on family matters, to a less, but still acceptable extent, supposition all present were reluctant to consider possible, observing further that there was no need to abandon what to her, her friend, seemed would develop into a magnificent career, because she was extraordinarily talented, something others suspected, but what I was convinced of too, putting her finishing ruining touches towards her friend’s self-belief by contemplating, in a wondering tone, if she would have achieved even greater joy and happiness, had she delved her talents into both her career and family matters. Of course, there was no response to this and I was surprised that the family woman held her ground against succumbing to some kind of emotional paroxysm. Immediately after saying what seemed to me a base rudeness, the person who just insulted her friend with being underachieving and making a poor life choices expressed her opinion that whole mankind is prone to mistakes, to which none of us is immune to, pointing out herself as a perfect example while taking the family woman’s hand in ostensibly friendly and caring, but what looked to me wretched, manner. I looked subsequently at my living companion, finding her in turn looking through the window, lost in thought, acting in a rather undeserving fashion, as well. Were I possessed of gentleman’s nature I would pronounce this whole situation indelicate and stand to the family woman’s defense, which I don’t do, observing her instead succumbing and eagerly taking inquisitor’s hand all pleased at the opportunity to put everything said behind, without reflecting about it, something she had probably done with her career, I dare suspect, finding myself absorbed not at all by the weakness towards which the family woman’s character was susceptible, but contemplating if I could remember the name of her inquisitor, a woman who just started talking about her own accomplishments, thinking it would be perfect should I remember her name so to call it out loud and express my disbelief at injustice it is doing to the term despicableness, before storming back to the black room in, I found, a satisfying conclusion to the perverse folly I was unwillingly participating in. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember her name, perhaps due to never hearing it, being throughout this whole visit preoccupied with injustice I am doing to my work. Therefore, not wishing to succumb to self-accusations regarding thinking and writing I wasn’t doing, I devoted attention to what was being said at the moment, noticing also that all the others were reluctantly, but attentively, listening, though probably for different reasons.
It turns out that this woman was the eldest, fact which shed some light to the enigma regarding subservience all of others were showing, but subservience which even amidst this newfound knowledge seemed to me ludicrous. Had I any way of going to the black room and remaining there uninterrupted, I would be the first to show my complete disgust at what was being said currently, if not at the whole evening so far. Knowing these women are bound to stay with us though, at least for a few days, any such behavior struck me as impolite towards them and unacceptable towards my companion, therefore ruinous to my work. I had to reassure myself every minute to remain taciturn at all times, speaking only if it is explicitly asked of me, fearing I could very well provoke a scene now. This woman’s account started in such a way that I was at once horrified at the possibility of listening her go on for the longest time about what she considered worthy accomplishments, situation which seemed unavoidable due to her twisted perception of merit and sickening conceit. Before she even said anything about the span of time I found others were talking about, she reminded everyone of what she had already done and accomplished and where she stood at the point from which she will proceed from in but a short moment. At the thought how she may be doing this to acquaint me personally with her past and character, assuming others must already know everything about her, I found her constant turning in my direction nothing short of distasteful, and, in no time, emetic. Had I not, in turn, placed my attention to the corner of our room, where beforehand I had situated the painting of my living companion, ignoring thereby what was being said due to the focus the painting possessed over me, I am sure her reminiscing would turn into unbearable disquisition, which fortunately did not happen, seeing how my rude behavior prompted her to turn the focus to her friends and what they were, at least ostensibly, interested in. I am still a state employee, she says, I have been in administration for ten years already; two years in apprenticeship and almost eight in the ministry secretariat. There’s a big responsibility, sure, but it is pleasing knowing you are in a position to help people. Social responsibility is being overlooked and we are doing our best to draw focus in order to gather much needed funds. I have been especially adamant about this. There are a lot of people willing to help. One just needs to have the right approach. We’ve made great progress in this regard over the years and I’ve personally sealed more than twelve lucrative deals. But this is not the time or place for saying this, she smiles while waving her hand as if dismissing everything she told us as irrelevant, even though she did say where she works, not omitting to show what appeared like an access of excessive and misplaced pride while speaking about her job. I opt to disregard my observation, assuming she doesn’t have much else to talk about, letting her go on about it, not wishing to show any more impropriety I had in abundance. I am proven wrong though, because the nurse mentions in a tone betraying curiosity how she isn’t living anymore in her old estate, You aren’t living in the old estate any longer, are you, to which the accomplishing woman, as I found it fit to call her, responds by stating how that is partially correct, because she was still living in her old estate, only they, her and her parents, had finally managed to convince owners of the adjoining estate to sell their own, making one whole estate out of the previous two and unto their exclusive ownership. I found myself at difficulties to decide whether the accomplishing woman, whose parents I recognized upon hearing her last name, a ridiculously wealthy family who became affluent through means anything but legal, whether this person who is still going on about her new estate, a big park in it and a vintage car they got as a gift from the old owners to complement their own set of vintage cars, was more repulsive than her other two friends, and especially the nurse, who was slobbering and trampling all over her dignity in a disgraceful attempt to insinuate herself into a good favor of the accomplishing woman by showering her with admiration and praise. She actually praised her for having a great estate, saying congratulations, not upon receiving the news that the estates have been joined, but after hearing just how big the whole new estate was, utterance which I thought would evoke laughter of all present, but which evoked only my own, resulting in reprehension on behalf of my living companion, though I found she would do better by her self-respect had she joined me. The family woman, having been ruthlessly insulted, also thought nothing of throwing her affection at the accomplishing woman, leading me to ponder what is wrong with these people? She is going on and on in a most shameful manner while I’m thinking about this, mentioning her villa, her office, her car, even finding it appropriate to mention her wage raises, absurdly turning our attention to her earnings, not of course by noting any exact number, but by stating to us matters now within her financial means, counting before us things of value she can now afford, even though she can afford anything she likes taking advantage of her parents and their wealth as she is. I listen to this woman, listen about her self-found achievements amounting to owing a great estate, magnificent estate, an estate and a state job of remarkable importance, responsible job, she affirms, a job, an estate and cars, collection of vintage cars, and investments, investments entrusted to her, thus not only a state job, an estate and cars, but investments also, all of which came into her ownership by good will of her, apparently, still loving and affluent parents. These things are merited with being worthy personal accomplishments and I must make utmost effort not to laugh my heart out, which I also don’t do due to the astonishment all the others are showing, the astonishment behind which I suspect the consideration over future inheritance and friendship is standing, friendship and inheritance, or friendship into inheritance. I look at this person, I observe her intently, but cannot see a personality, only an owner of things.
I try to dissuade myself from thinking about any of the people around me, all virtually liars, as I can conclude having listened and observed them each, even the family woman who had my sympathies at first, but who is now holding the accomplishing woman’s hand in hers, caressing it, not the other way around, making me doubt the common sense I thought possessing while thinking of asking her name, so as to not remember her by the term the family woman, which I now find apt should I deign to remember her at all. Perverse liars, all of them. They are lying about themselves, lying in their opinions about others, avoiding the truth by any means possible while indulging that voice of suck-up propriety we seem to notice everywhere. You’ve only to meet someone and a voice of propriety creeps out of their sycophant mouth. No one has an opinion any more, only voice of propriety. You ask a question which requires more than a simple yes or no and as an answer you get propriety. You develop a theme where you think any opinion is going to be susceptible to controversy, worthy of attention, and instead you are met with a mouthful of propriety. You listen someone talk, but you hear them speaking with utmost care and according to decorum, no voice of their own, only that of propriety. You go out on the street, to work, to a museum, and find everyone is speaking with the same voice of appropriateness. You ask about a composer, a classic performance, a pianist, an actor, a writer, about a political or economic situation, about modern slavery, and you are served with a slice of decorum. No one is willing to state an opinion which could be met with a disagreement or dislike. People are so afraid of disagreement, of not being liked for their own personality, that they would rather not speak what they think, ceding place instead to what could seem appropriate or acceptable, trying their best always to sit between two stools and managing to linger there with their voice of propriety while their personality is falling into cesspit of worthlessness. They stop at nothing to avoid being judged by people who hold no opinion of their own, unthinking people who are bent on judging, making of it a principal life occupation in the lack of any other. A thinking person esteems diversity, respects opinion; finds diversity, opinion and thinking necessary to make progress; we know this, but we see people holding their tongue and letting propriety speak for them nonetheless, letting their propriety put up a word for them rather than risking being judged by all the others who aren’t capable of thinking for themselves. Obsessed with general opinion others maintain of them, people willingly toss their personalities for fear of being deemed possessed of sound judgment and wit. They are so accustomed to the voice of propriety that we don’t hear genuine voices anymore, only that of decorum and false politeness. Telling the truth is considered a perverse rudeness nowadays. And our visitors are faithful followers of this perverse folly, I suspect. Both followers and developers, one could say. But even this is not enough at times, because people must take the lie further, note something else, as they often do, for instance, by noting what they will be doing in the future. They simply must note to us what they intend to do even though they are not finished with what they are doing at the moment. It’s a widespread practice which has taken a hold over all conversational routines among people. It starts with the overture of what they are doing and when they see we are not impressed they proceed with disquisition of what they are not doing, but what they certainly will do, what they intend to do, what they will be doing in the nearest future, making us listen as they go about elaborating their thoughtful plan, explaining their intentions to us until we are impressed, returning to their once made point as many times as needed, until they make sure that we see what they intend to do as already done, setting themselves about work they have yet to do, but acting as if they had already done it and reaping rewards for their hard undone work before us.
I look at my living companion who is, in turn, observing the accomplishing woman as she is finishing her account of wretchedness. She somehow comes to a conclusion, but even then cannot contain hypocrisy, stating how her greatest accomplishment is having met these people in our living room, creating and maintaining this precious and invaluable friendship, that is an accomplishment to her, she repeats a few times. Laughing condescendingly at the nurse and ruthlessly demeaning the family woman and yet expressing friendship with them as her greatest accomplishment, she isn’t ashamed of anything, I think to myself. Finding and realizing how she did not impress them enough with her estate and a state job, in fact, failed to instill desired amazement into them, astonishment she hoped for, she fell to announcing and proclaiming friendship with these women as her biggest accomplishment, leaving me to wonder how pathetic in her achievements she must be to resort to this statement patently untrue to her nature in a base attempt to satiate her vanity. How much more can she say before being nauseated by her own perversity, I wonder. But people are talented for many things, and just as we acknowledge people talented for painting, people talented for music, people talented for mathematics, so we also must acknowledge people talented for despicableness. Anyone without such a talent would stop and observe self-critically all the nonsense that’s been said, shy away from speaking further, but this person, discontented at not receiving enough praise, instead proceeds to turn the subject of our conversation, amounting a perverse monologue, to the poor and to those in need. Poor should be helped, she says out of nowhere and nonplusses me as a result. Poor should be helped and provided with more care. We are lucky, but we should be aware there are those who are not, she declares. Right after making the friendship her greatest accomplishment, without even letting those present, or at least me, to breath out foulness in the air over disbelief regarding all said, she deigns to bring forward the subject of poverty, from her greatest accomplishment to the world poverty, leading me to affirm this as a some kind of a perverse routine she follows in order to make herself respected amidst different people and environs. This persona, and many others like her, succumb to the state and propriety, special kind of propriety, succumb to the state propriety, that they turn what would normally be considered spontaneity in the manner people acquaint with one another into a calculated introductory mechanism, disfiguring any sense of improvisation in the process. It is as if they have recorded on a tape all the answers in regard to the questions which are statistically asked most frequently and set themselves about playing their answers as soon as it is their turn, unable to hit the stop button until they are finished. If I was to interject her now somehow, I think to myself, I would undoubtedly face her lifted forefinger signifying to have some patience, since her tape is still playing, meaning she is not ready yet, due to her introductory mechanism for setting oneself on favorable ground in a conversation being in motion. Only then, after finishing such perverse routine and being able to breathe again, knowing they had acquainted us to a satisfying degree about themselves, about significance of their work and what they deem worthy, maneuver instilled in their gut by the state and propriety as a way of preemptive defense and dealing with personal insecurity, while at the same time and with the same means insinuating themselves higher up the esteem ladder in whichever eyes, only then do these people feel safe to conduct conversation, because they actually have to feel safe in order to conduct one. Upon saying how the poor should be helped, we all kept watching the accomplishing woman, at least my living companion and I did, observing if her tape could have reached the end. No more words coming out of her mouth and consequent deep breath meant that she has finished her account.
It is worth noting that all present shared a deep breath along with her, occurrence I took as a perfect opportunity to indulge ostentatious sigh, leaving it ambiguous to interpretation. Having waited for our visitor so long to finish with her state propriety routine, one can assume everyone in the room felt relieved and willing to preserve silence we found ourselves amid for a few minutes. And yet, I was invigorated to such a measure by this onset of silence, or by not having to listen to gibberish any more, that I, in fact, broke ensued muteness, admittedly not being quite aware of it, by stating how the more one cares about people the less one is able to help them. To this everyone’s first reaction was to look at me in a somewhat confused manner, not surprisingly, considering these were my first voluntary words, as I later realized, after which I was asked to explain what I meant. It is rather simple, I observed, the more we are connected to someone, the more we care for that person, the more we care for anyone, the less can we objectively determine what is good for them, because we are not prepared to act in a way that will produce more good at the cost of something unfavorable to anyone we care about, being inclined, after all, to keep searching for another solution, one bearing no unfavorable consequences. In this way it is understandable how we do a lot of harm to those we care about the most. Hearing this, the accomplishing woman, apparently finding herself offended for reasons unclear to me, questioned correctness of my statement by wondering if we should do better then without showing care to one another, inquiring in amusement, what would happen if the public and the state abandoned those in need? I was surprised by her comment, notwithstanding the fact it had no connection with my own, because it I was given to understand by the circumstances at large how the state produces the poor by filling its own pockets with their money. Weren’t those in the state so corrupt in their dealings, by that selfsame trait they would eradicate poverty, one would think. Contrary to that, they collect and take as much as they can from the poorest of the poor and, instead of public services and promised jobs, they use media to announce how there are many out there in the need, calling and preaching about social responsibility while they, or at least the majority of them, do nothing but waste their collected money on estates and cars. This aroused the accomplishing woman significantly, therefore, trying to avoid anything unpleasant, I proceeded to assuage my statement by saying that it is not the state’s fault. They cannot be blamed for failing to ensure anything meaningful is being done with the money they steal, because almost all employed are more or less summing laborers, not capable of a single creative thought, much alike to a large part of today’s world. Outrageous! she declares, and all follow the echo of the word throughout the room, especially my living companion, as I rebuke myself for being careless to an extent where it could very well serve to the detriment of my work. Just as I was thinking about my work and how I am being unobservant towards its continuation, the accomplishing woman asked me what it is that I do. What do you do for a living? she said. No response from my side was needed because she was familiar with everything regarding my existence, through the friendship with my living companion, I suspect, who was unusually silent for a time, therefore forestalling any attempt of an answer from my part by mumbling condescendingly, ah, a writer, before turning to her friends, luring them to join in laughter which, though contemptible in its nature, wasn’t lacking its charm, I must admit. I was not offended by this in the least, pleased, in fact, at the thought that she, or they, noticing them all enjoying in hatching hostility together, might use conceit as a means of putting all of this behind us, all that might have appeared impolite, and going out at last, because it was past time for them to leave if they were to catch any open places of entertainment. I was watching my living companion, watching her while in turn listening to the accomplishing woman observe how I cannot possibly know what it feels like to get up at seven a.m. every morning, listening to the accomplishing woman and thinking how she is right, because I suffer sleeplessness and get up much earlier, though I tell her only that I am an early riser, statement she dismisses as ludicrous, noting, not without expressing doubt, that whenever I do get up, I stay at home, linger in the comfort of my household, she tells me, while I keep looking at my living companion, who is looking at me, though from the side, in somewhat of a stern manner, paying attention while the accomplishing woman states that she must, each and every day, leave her house for eight hours, five days a week, without an exception, she exclaims, leaving me to ponder, in turn, if she could be equating her work with the necessity of being absent from the house for eight hours a day, five days a week, something that now I dismiss as ludicrous, verging in-between observing my living companion and listening to the accomplishing woman, latter of which also proceeds to explain they have one lunch break and two coffee breaks, a single break to eat, in other words, prompting me to realize how I don’t drink home coffee, but my living companion does, and even succumbing to a subtle laugh finding in the light of the current circumstances our recent coffee cup incident harmless and amusing, though withdrawing to my seriousness at once, seeing how my behavior is recognized as misbehavior on the part of my living companion, while at the same time wondering if those coffee and lunch breaks don’t shorten eight hours to a certain extent, maybe to six hours, five or six hours of which the accomplishing woman is complaining now, I take notice of, while trying to figure out if my living companion is wearing the dress she wore yesterday, which seems preposterous to me at first, though not impossible, certainly less impossible than hearing someone complain about working five or six hours a day for a living, asserting how work holidays are growing ever shorter, and resting weekends are always too far, things all of which I am not familiar with, I find myself noting, while at the same time thinking how it must be the same dress as yesterday my living companion is wearing today, but realizing that cannot be the reason why she looks annoyed with me. No, she concludes, you cannot understand after all, she tells me and then expresses her sincere doubt over how much longer I will be able to sustain myself with my current lifestyle. How much longer will you be able to continue without real work, she asks me, waiting for a moment before repeating her question again, as I finally turn my eyes from my living companion and to her, not because she piqued my curiosity or indignation by showing what I found unsuccessful attempt at giving offense through insolence, but because I noticed my living companion embarrassed due to divulging information about my financial wellbeing and having no wish whatsoever to see her uncomfortable over such paltry reasons. I answer that I set myself about writing rather seriously, acknowledging how such work may evoke some misgivings from the circles unfamiliar with it, but assuring the accomplishing woman of its validity and merit, pointing out that she must have read quite a number of written works in her life so far, therefore having no doubt she understands of what I’m speaking. Yes, yes, she says, though I found it a transitory reply towards expressing another onset of accusative skepticism while assuring me how I would do better for myself should I find what most people consider a real job. I must admit that I drew some perverse joy in deflecting all of this woman’s attempts to arouse my indignation, all her attempts to provoke me and evoke any kind of aggressive response, attitude I found not at all difficult to pursue, being possessed with indifference about her after all, while wondering how it is that I’ve found myself agitated at what seemed to me, at the time, an injustice towards her friends, all of them being of no importance to me, yet dismissing this contemplation as pointless as I enjoyed another wave of her venomous endeavors. You should get a real job. That is what you should do. And if you don’t succeed you should think of upgrading your education. It still isn’t too late, she tells me, it is never late for education, let alone in forties, at which point the nurse interjects, stating that I am in my thirties, observation which the accomplishing woman dismisses as one beside the point, noting that it is clear, nonetheless, what she is talking about. She was then struck by a curios and pleasing insight, revealing at once the insight in the form of a question she failed to ask so far, that of my published work. Tell me, what have you published so far, and where can I get it? I was thinking for a minute or two whether to tell her about my early publications, works going back to my mid-twenties, or about articles I monthly provide for a literary column, I even thought of works I withdrew from publication recently, however, finding them all without any merit according to a personal view, and feeling ashamed at devoting a whole minute over this consideration, I opted for saying how so far I hadn’t a chance to produce work I would feel pleased with publishing. This made a huge and joyful impression on her. No, she laughs at me, you cannot consider yourself a writer until you’ve actually written something, you simply cannot, she says as my living companion turns to her friends, trying to explain, needlessly it strikes me, that I find only my psychology poetry book worth saying it’s published, hoping to prevent her friend and all the rest of them in an onset of uproarious laughter, but she cannot contain them, they have let themselves completely, laughing in my face and calling me silly, calling me silly and displaying a poorly performed act of histrionic disbelief at my superciliousness in thinking myself a writer, having written nothing so far. I look at them smiling back, honestly partaking in their good spirits, while stating how I am eager not to be deemed a writer for failing to publish what I’ve written or thought so far, inasmuch they are eager to be deemed without self-respect and superficial for not exhibiting either intellectual delicacy or commons sense so far. This seems to have made an impression on them, but while to my mind there was a certain wittiness to my remark, worthy of at least taciturn sympathies, I was soon proven wrong, evoking, evidently, not sympathies, but further resentment while attaching to my apparent silliness a quality of insolence as well. I may have said too much, I think to myself, hoping that I can assuage situation by being reticent from now onward. Such hope fails to materialize though, and her next attack, or rather their next attack, seeing all of our visitors brimming to immerse themselves together in their offensive endeavors towards me, was consequently brought back again to the point of my education, citing my negligence in that department inexcusable and unworthy of a person claiming any right to serious social acknowledgment. I was unsure what made them think I had any wish to gain social acknowledgment, finding society repellent and sinking ever deeper into worthlessness by its distasteful practice of abolishing thinking, while indulging any kind of primitive amusement as a way of satisfying their basic urges without even feeling ashamed of it. I can only imagine they equate education with recognition and hold both in high regard, using it as a means of judging peoples worthiness, taking recognition as a kind of a scale on which they could search merit of others and their own, actively trying to better their position by gaining wider approval, which can only serve to their own detriment, seeing how making a goal to impress all but oneself can lead to nothing but to abandoning oneself in favor of what others deem worthy, therefore, working meticulously towards destroying oneself in order to gain favor of others, but ending up annihilating your own personality and being widely unlikeable, because it is hard to see anyone willing to share sympathies for people unable to appreciate even themselves.
In any case, I had nothing to offer them as a response. I was in agreement with them while they were citing their scholarships, confirming them in their belief that they possessed formal and factual education far superior to my own, which is true, because I don’t consider myself talented for either acting or family matters, even less for helping people through any means, and not only through medical ones, in addition of thinking myself inapt for any kind of state work. In fact, I found myself wondering if these women were even trying to insult me or this was a manner by which they conducted conversation. Perhaps listening to me say how I have not published anything and have no formal education is amusing to them, finding it, therefore, a subject worthy of coming back to, I think to myself, in case of which I would not object to tell them how my education is virtually non-existent compared to theirs, in the hope of bringing our verbal exchange to an end, while expressing the statement not that far from being accurate. I was disappointed to find how they were not pleased with this, at least the accomplishing woman wasn’t, still finding my reaction unsatisfying and therefore indulging denunciatory recommendations relentlessly. I see, she says, no formal education. No, no, that won’t do. You have to strive towards some official degree and better education. You’ll see, I’m sure it will help you to publish something finally, she adds while laughing in far too strained of a manner to achieve its subtle condescending aim. Yes, that’s what you should do. Tomorrow! she exclaims, you can go tomorrow and sign yourself for a university. Of course, you might not get into a good private university, she says, not into a prestigious one, she tells me and falls into a fit of laughter, a lasting fit of laughter from which she seemed unable to recover; a fit of laughter which overcame even other visitors, laughing and trying to say something, doing her best to overcome her fit in order to speak up, but having dire difficulties to achieve so, still, trying nonetheless, even using her hands to contain herself, using her hands with whose help she managed to mumble unreasonable utterance, two or three words none present could understand, before finally pronouncing in an audible way: public university! you’ll have to go to a state university! after which another fit got hold of her. Others shared her good spirits, and, looking at them rolling one over another at the sofa, without any thought about delicacy, I cannot guarantee a faint laugh had not escaped me as well. At this point my living companion got up without a word and went to her room. Others were still laughing by the time she got back, but I was aware of something being largely amiss, observing stern gaze she unmistakably entertained when aroused to a certain, far from innocuous, extent. She called her friends to sense and proceeded to hand over to the accomplishing woman a kind of a framed file I don’t remember seeing before. The latter leafed through it and was so taken aback with whatever it was in that file that she could scarcely catch her breath for the next few minutes. I would be lying if I said I was not possessed with curiosity to find out what could evoke such a reaction from this woman. I did my best not to show this though, thinking it may be considered rude to poke into matters not my own.
Instead of thinking about the contents of the file I started thinking how indifference is the perfect response towards those we find abhorring. One should never resort to hating those who would see us on our knees. Hate is a useless emotion and hating someone is nothing but a waste of otherwise usable energy. If we are brought to hate someone as a result of their behavior we are acknowledging them with having means to affect us, showing them we value their opinion, which is absurd privilege to shower with someone who wishes to see us on our knees and who we find abhorring. On the other hand, treating those who we find abhorring and displeasing with indifference is bound to produce satisfying results. Not only will we be able to devote our attention to wherever else we deem it worthy, not being drained of our concentration by hate, but all those who wish to bring us to hate them will be devoid of that satisfaction, left with unsuccessful attempts to brood over their pathetic existence. I stopped for a moment in my contemplation to reevaluate if stating pathetic existence is a bit harsh, however, finding no better term to describe lives of all those people who wake up hoping to catch others out of favor, doing their best to use ill fortune of others, or arousing them if need be as a means of reaching personal amusement, realizing themselves incapable of creating anything meaningful out of their lives, therefore, finding it essential regarding survival to do their best in ruining all those they deem capable of it, or trying to accomplish so, using the success at this perverse folly as a kind of spiritual food to satiate unbearable emptiness inside their worthlessness, ending with no better expression for the reality of these people, I found pathetic existence to be appropriate enough. It is exactly towards this kind of people we should practice indifference, for showing them anything else will prove immaterial. They will take anything else and digest it as a spiritual food using it as an incentive to pursue their relentlessness even further. None of the things I was just thinking about refer to our visitors, it strikes me as proper to observe, but represents a contemplative result in connection with indifference I pursue not selectively, but conclusively, and which has been a subject of my thinking for a long time. I spent many sleepless nights wondering if I should instead pursue indifference selectively, not comprehensively, and proceeded to test this presumption on numerous occasions. Finding each and every attempt at it ruinous, however, both to myself and to my work, I was soon facing the obvious result. Therefore, I opted for maintaining indifference at all times, which I shortly found to be impossible towards people I already knew, but which was no effort at all to maintain regarding all those people I do not know and have no wish to meet. Thinking this, I could hear my living companion in the back of my head telling me how this attitude will be the end of me. That will be the end of you, she would tell me, and still does, and I would not believe her, as I still don’t, finding indifference a most superb mechanism against any kind of stupidity, instrument which repels stupidity almost infallibly, and taking for granted that mind, which by itself is intriguing, will not be repelled by indifference, but drawn to it. Speaking for myself, I always find those people who are outwardly unapproachable due to their attitude and nature very much worthy of approaching. In the same manner, unfortunately, contrary to that also proves to be the case. I could not rid myself of thinking about this, thinking about being indifferent towards all and sundry, but upon thinking this hearing the voice in the back of my head stating how that is not the way to go; finding one moment that indifference is the only way to go, but then doubting it, taking refuge in my nature as a doubter, questioning every attitude and thinking that everything is susceptible to evolution, even indifference. Should I insult everyone with indifference, I ask myself one moment, and then wonder if some people aren’t worthy of being immersed with from the start. Am I doing injustice to anyone by being indifferent, I attempt to discern, while also noting what immense injustice I would be doing both to myself and to work should I stop being indifferent. I do feel more inclined to being indifferent, I observe, thinking how such behavior is worthy of most of the people, while also finding it that I am not entirely indifferent, because I am susceptible to other people, I am one of them, after all. What surprises me about this matter of being indifferent or not is the amount of focus I devote to the subject without bringing to attention the fact that I have no dealings with people at all, making this to and fro about indifference pointless. I conclude that this matter should not be appropriated with another thought, upon which conclusion I catch myself noting: not exclusively indifferent, but for the most part absolutely, for the most part without doubt, though of course not exclusively, because that would be contra-productive to my wellbeing, which is not threatened in the least with indifference pursued on the most part, being beneficial to it in that measure.
I am triggered from my thoughtful reverie by the accomplishing woman who asks me if there’s some way to convince me yet to go out with them. It seems the heat of the moment bested us all, she tells me, but that is no reason to disregard a refreshing conversation, in an intriguing company. This opinion is shared with the rest of our visitors, I realize while getting up from my chair, seeing them to my surprise all dressed and ready to go out already. I find myself out of place and wondering if perhaps I missed something significant, thinking how such a show of considerateness cannot be uncalled for. But I fail to notice or recall anything which could help me understand these women looking sympathetically in my direction. Have I fallen to my thoughts again, I ask myself, while stating to everyone how I am tempted to go out with them, but, sadly, must abstain from doing myself such a pleasure for the sake of my work. Taken aback with a regretting sigh my response evinces, I conclude I must have dozed off, fell asleep overtaxing my forces for some time now, evoking their pity in the shroud of sympathy somehow as a result. That is at least what I find appropriate to satisfy my incurring confusion with, while doing my best not to prolong their leaving with inconsiderateness or cordial ineptitude on my part. Our visitors are already at the door as I fail at doing what I hoped, displaying an abundance of ineptitude while remaining motionless in the living room, and before I could even offer myself to see them out, my living companion is the last one about to exit. I jump to her in an attempt to at least assuage indecency I suddenly found myself showing, but was instead met with a kind of expressionless and cold countenance I found familiar, yet indefinable, looking at my living companion in turn looking at me, if it was the look she was privileging me with, observing what was to come out of it, but instead of culmination I thought ensuing, a simple act of closing the door followed. I respond with a goodbye and enjoy the night, hoping to send best wishes, perhaps even in a manner of tone which could be considered shouting, but find myself embarrassed while yelling at the closed door without anybody able to hear me. Turning away from the door I thought it best course of action to make way back to the black room, intent as I was on resuming my work. I have four or five hours of a complete silence, I observe, silence during which I should be able to write down everything I had in the meantime thought over. First go to the black room and lie down for twenty minutes, lie down and relax, even though you will not be able to take a nap, but use the time to relax all the muscles, relax your body and bring your consciousness into a preferable condition. That is what I must do, I tell myself while taking off my suit and straightening the sheets. With my back on the sheets I proceed to close my eyes and calm myself. In the end I did not make a scene, though I may have acted improper at times, it strikes me. I might have made somewhat of a scene, I tell myself, somewhat of a scene but not an all-out scene, far from it. It was somewhere in-between a mild impropriety, justifiable in any case, and a mild scene, therefore not a thorough scene, which would be inconsiderate indeed. Most of my inconsiderateness passed unnoticed. I felt that I was most lacking in decorum when using the lock, using and misusing the lock to calm my nerves, objective I somewhat achieved considering how after that I was able to conduct a refreshing conversation and live up to intriguing company, as I remembered our visitors saying, while lying on the bed. They could never indulge such a weighty lie had I made a scene. However, verging in-between making and not making a scene, acting more in accord to not making a scene than making it, they felt uninhibited to let their propriety come out at the end of the evening, gifting me with amicable dishonesty I had to find pleasantly performed. Adding to this, I can note my struggle in regard to checking the time, but struggle like that is undeserving of being called impropriety, since nobody could ever notice such a struggle. What they could have noticed is my inattentiveness to them and to what they were saying during the first part of the evening, but that can also be deemed politeness, an act of civility due to consideration for friends who have not seen each other for a long time, resulting in a lack of personal desire to impose on them. Had they known I was occupied with a self-posed challenge to resist checking the watch to an extent where I omitted to acknowledge the presence of any of them, then, to be sure, they could consider my behavior contemptible, unfamiliar with my nature as they were. But they could not know this and the only thing they were left with was indifference during the second part of the evening with a few harmless observations which I found, in any case, invigorating to the level of stimulation our discussion possessed. I look at the clock as I think about this to check if twenty minutes have already passed, finding myself noting how four minutes have passed and there were another sixteen to come. Surely I behaved politely, considering who I was facing. But then again I have to doubt this opinion, take this observation with some reserve, since our visitors showed their amiability at the end, at the point where they could not help but put a show. I could, but they couldn’t, being our guests and more or less respectable participating citizens. But why didn’t my living companion address me even once during the entire evening, is what I found bothering me now. I observed her intently for the most part and she took refuge in a silence towards me. Could that be uncalled for or was I missing something? I got up and went back to the hall to check if the door was locked. While affirming this, I could see my living companion turning around and closing the door without saying a word. I entertained the thought of unlocking and locking the door once again, but my nerves were calm now, my mind clear and I found the prospect of behaving irrationally – unreasonable, lacking its appeal. I returned to the living room where the framed file sitting on the desk caught my attention. I picked it up and opened to see what was in it. It was my university degree. So I hadn’t thrown it after all along with my written gibberish. Or I did and my living companion found it and preserved it with the essay content. That is more likely. I close the file and put it back on the desk thinking how throwing it again would cause me a loss of energy I must be sparing with. If nothing else, these state people must be praised for the level of pride they never fail to possess, I find it appropriate to observe. One can achieve most deserving things there are, but still one would fail at evincing that pride which state people maintain. State parasites completely incapable of creative thought convinced of importance of their summing work polluting the very air we all breath with their insolence, is what one often thinks of them, and yet these people wake up, go to work, go visit their friends, and friends of their friends, meet a considerable share of insults in the process and still, at the end of the evening, are possessed of enough pride to display propriety and good manners, honor those unmannered with a compliment and altogether conduct themselves accordingly. All those wishing to better themselves in the eyes of society, hungering for recognition as for bread itself, make way for the state jobs, I observe, making me unable to imagine how those few competent people in the state must feel surrounded by the summing force. And yet these people are apogee concerning the manner of conducting oneself by that which is deemed acceptable behavior, they are experts of maintaining good relations, efficient at nurturing them, virtuosos of politeness and propriety. One would have to admit that they are masters in the art of bearing and decorum. In comparison with them I can think of myself as nothing but an indecent and meager dilettante. We maintain these people as base philistines, and yet they never fail to out-manner us time and again, I think to myself, unwilling to pursue the thought further, realizing it would significantly arouse me.
I go to the black room hoping to start work on the psychology poetry book at once, though, once I’m there, I notice it is six minutes short of twenty, amount which I found necessary to reach the desired mental state. I thereby sit down on my chair and reflect how I should approach work on the psychology poetry book. For one, I should not rush things, I think it beneficial to affirm, because no matter how calm I may feel I am not in the perfect, or even preferable, mental and physical composure, far from it. Instead, I must take into account my current capabilities and act according to them; one moment indulging work with acute perceptivity and extreme acuteness, and the very next bearing myself to hold of apparent onset of stultification. This is expectant after all. I proceed to take out a set of blank papers out of the drawer and arrange them in order which will enable me to replace one with another effortlessly. Placing the pen beside the paper lying on the center of the desk, it strikes me that the window needs to be closed. Then, noticing the sheets on the bed are creased, I make to tighten the edges so as to create a perfect working environment. Checking if all the books are in their belonging covers and all the drawers closed firmly without loose space, I feel ready to sit down again and begin. Looking at the clock I note it is one minute short of twenty, thus I set myself about starting with work. While attempting to record a number on the page bottom I realize that my pen is empty, so I proceed at once to replace the pen filler, apprehensive lest the clock sounds twenty one minutes passed, which I feel could disturb me just as I was about to begin. I jump up and open the nearby drawer searching for the filler but cannot find one. Therefore, I start opening and closing all the drawers randomly, hoping I would catch sight of one filler at least. I am relieved at this happening, so I grab the filler and replace the empty one, making way to sit down at the same time. Managing to do so and taking a working pen in my hand, I look at the clock, realizing it is not one, but two minutes over established beforehand necessary twenty, which instantly discourages me to start with work, diminishing enthusiasm I thought possessing regarding it. I put the pen down hoping to reclaim concentration by prolonging the necessary respite to a satisfying one, amounting to no more than thirty minutes.
The psychology poetry book must be ceaseless, I think to myself, it must be continuous, unremitting flow of understanding, using words as a means to achieve its continuous aim. Work, such as that of the psychology poetry book, demands exquisite dedication and unforgiving selflessness, both of which must be present if the work is to have any chance at all. To begin with this kind of work, as I have imagined of the psychology poetry book, means resolving oneself to it from the start. The reason why it demands unfailing and unremitting concentration is because the work itself is developing while it is being created. In other words, only by developing thinking from one page to another, does the work itself reveal its meaning. Should the psychology poetry book be done in a way so as to reach definitive conclusion, of any kind, it would be a failure. Ultimate goal of work such as this is not some ending result, conclusion, lesson, concrete edification, morality, nor can it be any of those things. There is no ultimate in the psychology poetry book. Only progress. It is not about reaching the end of the road but about the road itself. Setting oneself about the road, aware there is no goal to be reached, only for the sake of walking today, in order to find yourself tomorrow ahead of where you were yesterday. Opening minds to everything, but most of all to oneself and to thinking. It is a simple work and it has to be, because it aims at showing and not explaining. The aim is to be as simple as possible, and through that simplicity drive reader to look at himself and others, observe himself and others, think by himself and then develop his or hers genuine thinking, which they can and actually do by themselves without anyone’s help. The work presents the matter, displays the road and leaves it for readers to do with it what they deem fit. The psychology poetry book cannot stand on its own. It is useless by itself. It is an object devoid of its subject. People facilitate it with their own thinking, not through any of the small amount of thinking presented in the work, but with their own, with the author’s role being insignificant and amounting to filling the psychology poetry book with basic observed faculties on the road, road behavior and capabilities, which even in its observational entirety amounts to next to nothing compared to faculties any individual possesses in its potential. The psychology poetry book reminds of the foundation that is within all. It is understandable why work such as this requires relentless dedication and extreme selflessness. Selflessness is a mandatory prerequisite of the work like this to such an extent that it cannot be attained, only aimed for, much like the nature of the work itself. In that, mandatory is actually striving for ever new heights of selflessness, with satisfaction in this regard amounting to failure. However, even amidst all the knowledge of necessary selflessness regarding the work, when I think of the work itself being written down with that required selflessness, I cannot help but find it selfish still, because it is daring to call people to think for themselves instead of letting others think for them, first of which is monstrously underperformed, with the latter becoming a general practice. The psychology poetry book must be ceaseless, because it aims for the thinking of the same kind. It uses words due to lack of any other means to provoke thinking. It is not philosophy at all, it is a rough insight into a human nature aimed not at definitively concluding, but presenting to the reader certain subtleties of human behavior in a ceaseless way, few of many, way partaking in a poetic flow, where ceaselessness and poetry serve to show in a fluid manner vast horizon within a human mind, insinuating reader’s mind towards interpreting itself and its behavior. Poetry is in the form, whereas psychology is in the content. Psychology in the psychology poetry book is of unpretentious kind, therefore cannot seriously claim to partake in psychology, serving only to remove limitations one’s mind sets upon itself regarding understanding others, understanding oneself and thinking. It does not direct thinking, nor it has means to, only makes one aware of limitations and by that selfsame awareness diminishes their influence. Through means of awareness one sees and perceives for himself and the psychology poetry book is a bystander of this process where an individual is the holder of potential. One has personal possibilities, others their own, the intention being creating awareness of innumerable possibilities some of which are possible solely for each of us on our own through our thinking. Aspiration and ambition to discover and tap into our thinking, into what we are, is psychology, while poetry serves to make transition of such understanding possible, transition in a fluid manner, clear and rhythmic as it may be, not burdening the mind, leading one thought to other and then another, ceaselessly, effortlessly, removing limitations and inducing one to possess free rein over his or hers mind, using that mind for the sake of personal interpretations and conclusions, using and misusing to the point of deeper understanding, setting oneself on the road of reaching further understanding through our own means, seeking that understanding and furthering our efforts in that direction, so as to understand ourselves better and those around us, fully aware such understanding is susceptible to development and aiming to relentlessly pursue it. It will be a selfish work, I think to myself, the reader will be the active element, making all the effort on his own, reaching deeper understanding and making better use of his thinking by himself, without any concrete use of the work, seeing it as nothing but a news in a column stating that which is obvious and making us derive something worthwhile out of it on our own. Selfish work, tough still meaningful, I think to myself.
I look at the clock and, making a mental note how it is two minutes short of thirty, resolve myself to start work without waiting for those two minutes to pass. For a moment, I thought of counting one hundred and twenty seconds, but then I was not sure if some seconds have not already come to pass, in which case I would need to consider how many seconds did come to pass, before resuming counting the rest of the seconds to one hundred and twenty. I was apprehensive of underestimating the number of seconds which may have passed, abstaining myself therefore from counting from fear of starting with work late again. I wrote the number one on the bottom of the blank page that was before me and started thinking of the correct way to begin. What was most important was to ensure that each page was better than the previous one. This proved to be the biggest obstacle to my work, due to my unwillingness to compromise. I was not prepared to put on the first paper anything that I didn’t consider of the highest development as it is. Having in mind that I had a vision of the third and the second part of the work, result of accumulative effort over the years, to write the first part meant writing something subpar and unacceptable. Therefore, I first needed to carefully revise the third and the second part, take it apart and create out of it an acceptable part which would serve as the first, without ruining the second and the third part, which are correctly founded. If only I could start right from the first part, disregarding the second and the third, but my mind is bent on creating continuous, from one page to the next, progressive flow, therefore, in order to assure such results, I have to think of the whole work. How many seconds had passed, I wonder, since I thought of counting the seconds? The obvious thing to do would be to start writing the first part with the best parts of all the parts together and then go from there, I tell myself and determine to do, but I cannot shake off the curiosity to find out how many seconds have already passed. I start envisioning the beginning with the third part, thinking it most advanced, while taking appropriate parts of the second and the first into consideration, but instead of writing down what I determined, I catch myself affirming how if there are still some seconds short of thirty minutes it will be a meager sum, which I will follow to its end before continuing with work in peace, but if it is already over thirty minutes I can count those one hundred and twenty seconds I denied myself previously, without risking being late with work since I already started it, counting it in view of further enhancement of my relaxation, in fact, and by doing so escape anxiety I feel taking hold over me, due not knowing what time it is. I look at the watch and note it is well over thirty minutes. This brings me great relief and I put the pen down, starting to count out one hundred and twenty seconds. Make the beginning out of the third part, while taking into consideration the second and the first, I tell myself while counting, and then proceed with all the necessary ruthlessness and relentlessness towards improving the beginning until you reach the end. Use poetry to its utmost, but bear in mind psychology to which poetry serves. Poetry to obtain and preserve natural flow of thought, flow which leads from one to another word without exacting concentration on what is written, but on thinking one does for oneself, adding up to content. Form in the service of content but also psychology in the service of poetry. Should content fail, poetry would cease as well, losing its meaningfulness. On the other hand, no content can claim its meaning through undeserving poetry. It is poetry which must be superior to content, because content cannot bear anything but perfect poetry, whereas poetry can serve to content which is not perfect, due to content never holding possibility of claiming perfection, only seeking and striving for it. Explore and work towards improving content while using poetry to make such relentlessness possible. Content is important, though inasmuch form is existent, because without it no psychology can be expressed correctly. Both poetry and content, form and psychology, one with the other and vice versa. And remove yourself from the work as much as possible. Employ selflessness to its limits, break the limits of selflessness and keep pursuing it without letup further and further. Remove yourself from content and use form to build on that separation. No personality in work, insignificant, no signature, no signet, anonymous in the most possible measure, presence to an extent needed to put the work out there, otherwise keep to yourself, work is all, author is nothing. I feel a sudden onset of capability within me, a rush of positive enthusiasm towards work, but instead of starting it with excitement, sometime during thinking and counting one hundred and twenty seconds, I succumb to tiredness and fatigue, and fall asleep.
I wake up hours later, not in apprehension of being late with work but due to loud noise which I thought hearing from within our household. Gathering my senses while looking at the blank paper before me, I ponder what could be the source of this noise. It must be an hour or even two whole hours since I fell asleep due to overtaxing my strength for some time. Looking up at the wall, the clock shows that it is half past three in the morning, revealing that I slept well over three hours before being awoken by the clamor inside. There is no possibility of work now, I realize disgusted at myself for succumbing to tiredness in a rare and propitious situation, while being brought to further agitation with all the shouting and talking around, preventing me even from returning the blank papers into the drawer, the task I do amid great distress, ruining almost half of the stack by pressing them too hard, if not crumpling them all over, unable to preserve the sheets in their natural state due to being myself far from natural state. I shut the drawer with whatever papers are left in it and go to the bed with intention of making myself fall asleep again. I close my eyes unable to ignore the voices of my living companion and her friends, along other barely familiar and wholly unfamiliar ones. They must have enjoyed themselves out so much that they decided to prolong their good spirits by keeping up until the early morning. This outrageous behavior is characteristic of my living companion, I think to myself, she preaches about the house doing her in, closed spaces ruining her, and yet when she has a chance to escape out in the open she decides to deny herself such a pleasure in favor of bringing me to the edge of sanity. Sanity, I speak up in the black room hoping to achieve some healing effect, but instead of calming my nerves or smoothening the noise, I further arouse my unrest by realizing how helplessly ridiculous my actions are. Sitting up on the bed I think if it wouldn’t be best to go out somewhere, but where would one go at half past three in the morning? On the one hand, I think there is nowhere to go, on the other, the noise is getting louder and more unbearable. Thinking of not going out and remaining in the black room, while at the same time hearing inane yelling distasteful to such a measure that catching a cold on a park bench doesn’t seem bad at all. I get up finding that staying in the black room is not an option, but still not determined to leave, I proceed to walk around the room, checking if all the books are in their proper covers. Perhaps a bit of Saramago, I consider, but realize none of his books are present on the shelf, only notes and works connected with my own work, all of Saramago being in the living room. What could she be thinking, entertaining all this chaos in order to spite me? It cannot do her any more good than it is doing me, but then again, I have no such capacity to exploit personal usefulness for the sake or ruining others, capacity she holds in abundance, parading it now all throughout the household to the detriment of everyone in it. For months and years she has been the ruin of my work, preventing and deferring it time and again, not once slipping the chance to wreck my efforts, disintegrating them before they have a chance to produce something meaningful and significant. I have not even taken a pen and she has already found some way or another do distract me, disrupt my focus to a level at which I am unable to continue work, upon which point she leaves me to brood over what could have been, had I maintained my concentration. I get up intent on going out there and spilling my revulsion on them all, something I am quite capable of doing, urging myself not to spare anyone present. Spill out revulsion and dislike you have building up within, I tell myself while dressing my suit. But why did she bring my degree, I cannot help wondering, why would she bring my degree when our visitors were trying their best to make an idiot out of me, doing their best, which amounts to pathetic really, as both my living companion and I know, but whereas I was fine with letting them be pathetic in their base attempts to denigrate me, my living companion was not, which runs contrary to what she is now doing, preventing them at the time, in fact, to pursue their denigration towards me, I find it relevant to observe as I put the suit on, as if preserving exclusiveness to torment me, deadening their efforts to rebuke me, while at the same maintaining disregard, seemingly ignoring me throughout the evening, even though I know she was observing me, keeping an eye the whole time, noticing my locking and unlocking the door, in other words, and choosing not to pursue it to my detriment, acting contrary to what one would think her nature, contrary to her deviousness and aforementioned claims to exclusiveness, preserving me from what would otherwise prove to be an unpleasant occasion, distressing one, showing care for me, in fact, when it was propitious for her not to show it, all of which further serves to perplex me regarding her behavior then, I take note of now, as I button my waistcoat, finding eagerness in the intent to go all out on them somewhat lessened. This was and is her routine right from the start. Alternate in-between showing care and tormenting me, doing so always at a time when I think I have her figured out, only to be proven wrong and start anew in my consideration. Never a goal in sight, at least none I can see, just her impeccable nature bent on keeping me out of my. Whereas I consider my nature preoccupied with work on the psychology poetry book and such a work being a large part of myself and my nature, she must hold her nature at least significantly dependent on tormenting me and on making sure my nature is not in accord. Our natures are interconnected, I determine, and while my nature is suffering from that connection, hers is thriving on being the cause of that suffering. I think of this insight as quite meaningful for a moment, but upon its passing I get a notion of what my nature has produced so far in thirty five years, two years of which I am living with my living companion, notion amounting to nothing, making me a base hypocrite for blaming it all on my living companion and on her nature bent on destroying my nature, which is apparently being destroyed for as long as I can remember. If I do not start in the nearest possible time with my work, and bring it to an end in the shortest possible period from the point of beginning with it, then what is now left of my nature will be ruined without hope of ever accomplishing its goal, contenting its existence. Then, surely, there will be no reason whatsoever to go on, I think to myself. But is such a reason ever truly needed?
Unexpectedly calm, I button up the last button and make way to the living room. There are ten or fifteen people out there, most of whom I am barely familiar with. They greet me profusely, clearly confusing me with someone else, while I look for an empty seat to make myself comfortable before deciding if I am to pour myself out on them, or endure by satisfying myself with holding these people in positive contempt. It is always an immense pleasure for a disturbed mind to take refuge in a private ridicule and contempt of other minds, where privacy of mockery is mandatory for the sense of enjoyment. I manage to sit in the corner of the room, besides the painting of my living companion, from where I set myself about observing all present. Each and every one of them giving an impression of being more drunk than the other, driving amusement from their near unconscious, comical state, providing joint impression of prevailing simplemindedness all throughout. I notice a glassful of some drink on the table near me, still undecided whether I am to pour out built up agitation or not, so instead of deciding I poured the drink down my throat, thinking this a perfect stimulation for whichever decision. I even lifted the empty glass up in the air, indulging a thought of breaking it on the wall so as to begin with an all-out contempt filled attack, denigrating assault, outbreak of judgmental vulgarity and condescending profanity I was feeling welling up inside myself, but was prevented to make a short work of this company by being refilled another glass at that exact moment, and by no one other than the accomplishing woman. Out of herself altogether she kept smiling at me, or at whoever she thought seeing, and I kept looking at her, finding her, under the influence of alcohol and due to messed make up, looking nothing like forty one, but more like fifty or fifty five at least, though realizing myself significantly lacking in beverage intake to feel free at expressing my thoughts to her. It is somewhat of a fortunate occurrence that no male company was around me, because I usually behave atrociously among them right from the start, disregarding any influence of beverage and finding notion of manners holding claim over me absent completely in dealings with my fellow men, therefore, feeling uninhibited in gifting them with contemptuous and disparaging assertions from the onset of most social gatherings. Instead, I was now in a proximity of one questionable specimen, while keeping a lookout on the whereabouts of my living companion. I thought I could hear her all the time, but I couldn’t catch sight of her at all. I wasn’t sure how I would react upon seeing her, but that didn’t affect my eagerness to take notice of her in the slightest, eagerness which I thought a necessary facilitator to my decision of what is to happen. Meanwhile, I was being pressed by the behavior of the accomplishing woman, with her manner of conducting which I found abhorring and amounting to verbal passes, despicably attempting to lure me in her idea of entertainment by filling my glass, touching my shoulder and even winking at me, all of which actions I thought no sane person could find even remotely attractive. I decide to ignore her without indulging any thoughtful remarks I had privately entertained, because whatever she was filling my glass with, I found tasteful. About fifteen people, I observe to myself, none of whom have any idea what they are doing here. Most adding up to intellectually underdeveloped and spoiled brats, barely reaching out of puberty while at the physical state where they are losing hair or any sign of youthful femininity. Pathetic image through and through, regarding which concrete floor seems like a sight for sore eyes. No more appropriate crowd to discomfort and agitate me, I think to myself. The nurse and the family woman are dancing with two men in a way which makes me think of the nurse as a complete display of ineptitude, whereas the family woman is showing much of her artistic delicacy, and abundance of hypocrisy, exhibiting more joy each time the hand of her partner is lowered on her back. Others are dancing as well, or sitting on the rest of the seats already beyond consciousness. Those still hanging on are doing their best to present themselves as appealing in one way or another, cause for which they don’t shy away, neither from bringing their tone of voice to the unbearable level, nor from making vulgar gestures at one another and, as I realized to my amusement, often at the mirror also. Still, I can sense personal amusement over these perversities being overshadowed by nausea, therefore, in an attempt to shield myself from it, I put one hand on my face, blocking view from overwhelming theatrical display with ten or fifteen nonentities as performing actors, preventing this simpleminded tragicomedy performance from having further spirit deadening effect, while thinking how I should not have left the black room, feeling as I was all urge to pour myself out gone in the face of such debility. There is no time, however, to brood over any decisions, because my attention is diverted by the persistence of the accomplishing woman, tenacity perverse in both its potency and nature, realizing as I was at the very last moment that, even almost unconscious, she didn’t fail to miss an opportunity to try insinuating herself in my lap upon seeing me having closed my eyes, though I have to be honest and consider the possibility of this being a temporary lack of gravitational sense. In any case, I had the luck of noticing it in time, prudently using this observational asset to swiftly get up from the chair and let her crush in it, not in particularly pleasant manner, I may add, noticing her bumping at the chair, looking apparently confused altogether for this happening to her. She even lifted herself up a few inches from the chair to get a touch of what is beneath her, but upon seeing me making way to the empty sofa I meanwhile spotted, she felt satisfied with her examination and contented herself with filling her own drink. Where did my living companion only find these people, one worse and more base than the other, all of them together amounting to mental, physical, spiritual, sensual debility? My senses are being dulled by merely being present. No more, I tell myself, you will not let all these people affect you with their inanities and craving for cheap trivia of existence pursued to the extent that they must have forgone any delicacy and commons sense long ago, though probably were without them to begin with. Get up and throw them out, I think to myself, but then it strikes me how I haven’t seen my living companion, though I dearly wish to, abstaining myself from assaulting all these people as a result. Under the influence of beverage, I fall to contemplating in a different direction, one which strikes me more honest and accurate one, thinking how I am, after all, not so different from these people. In fact, I am a failure as much as they are, and bigger even. While they are at least failures failing without being aware of it and enjoying the process of their failure, I am failing fully aware of my failure and nurturing bottomless misery and anxiety in my failure failing process. I judge these people without feeling entitled to bring my judgment upon them. I do this in a perverse manner deserving contempt, not because I have a wish to judge them, but because I have a wish to avoid judging myself, judgment which is hundred times more severe, always being easier to judge worthlessness of others than our own. Worthlessness of others, in our own eyes, affects us outwardly and arouses our senses, worthlessness our own, in the eyes of others, infects us inwardly and preys on our being, but worthlessness our own, in our own eyes, means the truth, harder to bear than anything else. But how can I lift my head up and bear this parading nonsense before me, I ask myself. I have already judged myself, tiring my consciousness from sleeplessness into a comatose condition, and the truth is with me all the time, hiding in the voice of my living companion, now hiding literally, apparently. It is all unbearable, impossible, I say to myself, impossible, I repeat. Keep your head down, I tell myself again and again, keep your head down, avoid confrontation, endure the night and keep your wits about you. Then sleep, sleep off this onset of anxiety, sleep it off and upon waking up just turn around, get up from bed, sit at your desk and start working. Sit and take a pen and start writing. Don’t think about anything else, just begin. No open windows, loud remarks, knocking on the door, chirping birds, falling shadows, open drawers, closed drawers, books out of covers, books in the covers, loose covers, loose sheets, sheets on the bed, sheets in the closet, blotted closet, blotted windows, blotted paper, small paper, large paper, yellow paper, paper noise, outside noise, inside noise, noises within myself, and so forth. Wake up, get up, sit and start working. That is what I need to do, and I am capable of doing it. It is possible, I tell myself in an effort to calm nerves, reaching an access of balance again. Taking a few deep breaths, all the clamor subsided in my inner perception. Lifting my head up, however, I realize that all lack of simpleminded commotion is not the matter of my inner perception, but apparent in reality, seeing how all have found their seats or lost their consciousness, at last. Everything implies peace and serenity. All of us tired and drained of energy, reflecting, if still not asleep, on the night which is about to end, or has already ended, reflecting on what we did or didn’t do, thinking everything is as it must be and hoping everything is for the best after all. I close my eyes tired beyond measure, realizing there is no more strength within me even to return to the black room, let alone pour myself out. Drained completely. Fatigued and exhausted like everyone else. Listlessness is felt in the air all throughout. A hand of some fellow man, judging by its weight, falls on my shoulder and I let it be there, thinking him out of it, hanging on the verge of falling off the sofa, similarly to the condition I was in. We may as well support one another while sitting beside each other, in the hope of maintaining a pleasant position. Peace. Tranquility. Even amid all these people it was possible to hear nothing and enjoy silence. But it was not meant to last. It was a genuine spontaneity soon to be disrupted. I couldn’t believe someone willing to spoil this perfect silence, couldn’t believe hearing someone speaking out loud, calling others to participate. Try as I might to disregard any sound in vicinity I could not succeed due to others waking up, responding to the call, reacting with their attentiveness, unwillingly I assume, but reacting nonetheless. For a longest time I tried to fall asleep, but simply couldn’t. They were not loud but kept the voice at the point where it was high enough to prevent me from ignoring them. I couldn’t fall asleep, couldn’t go back to the black room, couldn’t even open my eyes, so I remained there sitting, merely vegetating. At this point I didn’t care anymore. Everything was beyond me. Lack of interest. Disinterest. All inconsequential, meaningless. Most usual phrases, common expressions and remarks solely, found their way to my perception. In this way I would hear “I agree” and then “of course”, before words would subside in favor of subtle murmur for a minute or two, and then again “I agree” and “I don’t agree”, “it’s the truth”, “love him”, “she’s adorable”, “nonsense”, at which point my mind would wander of a bit, for a time, but just for a few moments before yet again it’s called back to consciousness with “typical”, “really?”, “perhaps”, “who”, “God”, “lie”, “typical”, then soothing void and after that “honestly”, “yes”, “aha”, “me too”, “what”, “me too”, “I beg your pardon”, “me too”, “love her”, “ah”, silence then, but immediately after, “yes”, “please”, “I like him too”, “not really”, “of course”, “love her”, and again “I love him” followed by “really”, “tomorrow”, “sure”. Deliriousness was taking hold over me and I thought another insanity fit is already upon me. But this one voice kept me on the edge of falling over, this one voice repeating over and over again “I love him”, saying it one time, and then two times, and then over and over again, without anything along and with it. Perhaps none of this is happening and I need only open my eyes to find myself in a hospital or in a prison or wherever else they might have detained me. Now I can’t hear anything and then in a minute I think I hear something. Nothing is relevant though and I can sleep. All is immaterial. Yet I cannot sleep due to subtle murmur going on. Nothing in murmur is meaningful, not “yes” nor “typical”, not “usually” nor “me too”. But still I was stuck with what had been said and somehow could not avert my thought of what seemed to me inanity at first. “I love him”. Not once or twice, but tens of times, it seemed to me. A catchphrase. Irrelevant. Everything is silent for a moment. I focus intently, trying to find out if I am breathing at all and if there is anyone out there. I am breathing in fact, though there seems to be nothing out there. But then “typical” and I am back to my senses. “I love him” and by the same voice again. “Love him” emphasizing now. In how many ways you can use two words to express your feelings for someone, I wonder. “Love” I hear in my mind now, repeating itself over and over again, nauseating me with its meaningless repetitiveness, and not only “love”, but all those other catchphrases, remarks and common expressions. It is all out there. “Typical”, “yes”, “me too”. All immaterial and negligible. My head feels heavier with each word that is repeated in my mind. But there is no care within me, no focus for agitation, no focus or strength, all is of no consequence, and before another word is repeated in my head, edging me to delirium, I speak out of nowhere, throwing finishing touches at this maddening folly, and in doing so inadvertently find myself interjecting conversation when it was long gone in thought from its point minutes ago, tens of minutes ago, being rude and drawing all kinds of malevolent grimaces towards myself, as I could notice upon opening my eyes, angry faces, wondering countenances, all unimportant, inconsequential and immaterial, only to say thereby, without the least intention and more unaware than not, out loud, saying I love you is the cheapest way of expressing your love. Surrounded with many perplexed eyes, I caught myself repeating, in an explanatory manner, saying I love you, to someone, is the cheapest way of expressing love. Still being engrossed in silence, finding it meaningless and unpleasant, with questioning faces going my way, I repeated yet again, saying I love you, with regards to anything really, is the cheapest way of expressing your love. And I set myself at once on proving my point, uninvited and in, without a doubt, questionable behavior, emphasizing, you have to understand, saying I love you does not express your love, it expresses your ineptitude to love, it expresses your inability with regards to it and nothing else, are the words that escaped me unaware. When you pick a piece of paper from the floor and notice and see that there is something written on it, your favorite passage perhaps, a passage you yourself have taken from a book, and proceed to say that you like and love that passage, over and over again, that you adore what was written in it, on a piece of paper, you are not expressing your affection towards a thought written in a passage, but your inability to understand it, ineptitude to appreciate it, showing not affection, but a lack of capabilities to express fondness; you should not get used to endowing a vocal liking even to a piece of paper, for fear of being senseless, let alone to a living person! And, yet, we dare and have effrontery to think that something so glorious and supreme as a human being, predisposed to champion thought and sensibility, is bound to be satisfied with a complete ineptitude and a failure, to which such simple words can only amount, in a place where nothing but an acme of sentiment should rest, zenith of sense some would say, and not only satisfied we insolently presume, but will be genuinely pleased, pleased if not even delighted with it, with a tacit understanding that that same person whom we’ve insulted with our sensible ineptitude, with a nadir of imagination and a lack of appreciation, is now in our favor. Outrageous! How can anyone say something so stupid and not cover oneself in shame, that I cannot understand. Even I, who am devoid of any noble feelings, as all of you could have ascertained for yourselves just now, incapable of feeling anything immense and remarkable, except immense anxiety and remarkable indifference, adding up to nothing short of ignominy, understand that sensibility is not to be insulted in such a base and vile manner, amounting to a senseless and vicious perversity. For it cannot be nothing but a perversity to speak, over and over again, to tell the same words time and again, while possessed of the reasoning that such behavior can be considered not satisfying, but pleasing to whoever we are telling these inanities. Inexcusable. It is a sign of a simple-minded primitivism taking hold within us, dragging us to the bottomless pit of rudeness and despicability. Such insolent behavior, such inexplicable presumption! Speaking up and telling time and again that which is not even expressible, yet persisting in this folly, maintaining this patent abuse over common sense and all which should be treasured most. Turning around we can observe a mute person expressing clear sentiments, evoking compelling response, but turning back to us there is abusive wretchedness solely. How can anyone be so miserable and shallow to succumb to stating and repeating, showering, basically, those who are found worthy with nothing but unworthiness, empty repetitiveness, with a base ordinariness, betraying a superficial routine in the form of words behind which, instead of a genuine sentiment, nothing but triviality and failure stands. It is an unremitting failure of a human being reaching its peak. Despicable, isn’t it? One must ask himself how people say such things without vomiting in the pool of their insolence. How can we speak up these inanities and still dare to think we might have said something appropriate, when we’ve ruthlessly whipped up those we have spoken to, scarring their senses irrevocably with our words. Words as whips and whips as words, using and misusing them so as to achieve perfect mutilation of senses. And in indulging this perversity we have ignorance to presume our conduct claiming to express nobility behind our sentiments. I would rather be served downright hatred and offense, knowing them for what they are, than these perversities which are making show of everything one could conceive meaningful and compelling. These perversities must be stopped or there will be no hope whatsoever. Extermination of perversities or our own extermination. That is the deal. Nothing more to it. Brace yourselves, for one or the other extermination. State your words carefully, use means instead of words to express your affection to anything and everything. Less words and more means, meaning more thinking, hence, the challenge. Challenge in words and in thinking leading to one or the other extermination. Think and act and say, but think of what you say, even if not saying what you think. Destination as the end or the beginning through thinking. The road. The road is inevitable. That is the truth, I put up at last.
Shortly after my exhausting tirade I crashed into a chair and spent the remaining evening more or less lethargic, unaware of anything or anyone. I must have fallen unconscious, because when I came to myself, which took a couple of hours, I noticed that all the guests were gone. It was not even dawn, yet none of them were present. I was still sitting in the sofa, though now alone, observing peace and silence around me, finding all these circumstances somewhat perplexing. During these observations I catch a sight of my living companion who was sitting more or less opposite me and looking right at me. She was not saying a word and I didn’t think of provoking her in that direction. It is meaningless in any case. It is over now. Nothing can be said between us. Done. Done thing. Everyone is gone, I observe, could she have convinced them somehow to pay no mind to me, made short work of the insults I have thrown at them by persuading them in my insanity, making our household place of scarcity from one moment to the next in a manner which would preserve at least some dignity, I wonder, but looking at my living companion I realize that no effort on her part was needed to make our living room place of scarcity, myself and rudeness behind my behavior were more than enough, that is why she isn’t saying anything, waiting instead for me to speak up before taking me apart. But there’s no reason for me to speak. It’s done. Over. Nothing more to it. Still, how atrociously must have I behaved to leave no means for our guests to find it in their hearts to bear my outburst and spend the night and rest? I have breached all the limits, exterminated the limits and everything else with them. There’s nothing to be done, I affirm. But no reason to fear. It’s the end, over. I will go and get some sleep and then I will go away. Perhaps I will try at my previous lodgings. Or if not there, then somewhere else. It is irrelevant, in any case, I think to myself, no use to burden my mind further. Sound of the bathroom door opening diverts my attention. One last guest, I think to myself, how is it possible one endured me, I wonder. A deserving parting gift, it strikes me. It is one of the good friends of my living companion, I realize, our regular visitor. She comes out having showered apparently, relaxed and full of spirits. She looks at me and says, ah, you’re awake. Great performance, quite to my taste, she tells me enjoying herself. You were hit of the party, high point. If only you behaved like this every time I visited instead of being an anti-social deadhead, she points out, I mean what I say. Dealing effrontery to all those important people. Such renown characters. Whew. Got my interest there. You served quite a show, far more interesting than I ever thought you capable of. And such witty profanity. Cursing even. What, you don’t remember? Well I can tell you that you’ve shamed my great-grandfather, and he was a horse keeper who named his favorite horse a “tard”. I could scarcely believe seeing you not caring about anything at all. Just giving it all out, clearly not quite conscious, but when are you really? I think the guests ascribed the term leashlessness to you. No idea how they came up with that. It fits though. Carelessness, recklessness, self-ruination. I think those are the attributes we came to pin on you when you fell asleep right after the tirade, she said turning to my living companion, Yes, she was even more delighted with your show than I was. In fact, her satisfaction at your behaviour made all the guests more uncomfortable than anything else. I bet they were just about getting ready to wake up and chastise you when she served them another civility by standing up, and, can you remember, do you even remember? With such a delicate touch standing up, calling to attention and asking everyone present to leave. I couldn’t believe it. Simply hitting a glass of wine with the tips of her fingers and asking them in the most delicate manner to leave, whereupon all the guests stood confused at what was happening. They were all looking at her quite seriously, while she was doing her best not to smile. When someone asked “what was going on” she couldn’t hold it anymore, so burst out laughing. “Go, leave at once”, she told them, while, can you imagine, making way to the door, opening it, and coming back in a fit of laughter while pointing out. As if her behavior wasn’t enough amusing, all the others started smiling as well. I imagine they were hoping it was all a joke, I certainly thought it was, so kept smiling to one another and before long laughing wholeheartedly. But then, seeing no one was leaving, and I still can’t believe it, she took some of them by the sleeve and led them out. She basically dragged them to the front door where she embraced them, can you imagine it! Hugging and laughing with them, taking most of them by a sleeve and pulling them behind her to the door, she embraced them in her arms there, one at a time, before pushing and throwing them out! I watched her laughing her heart out while getting rid of all those people. Unbelievable. She made everyone disappear in a matter of minutes. Throwing out, many of them without their jackets or coats, or wearing jackets or coats not their own. How could you have simply dragged them and while laughing with them pushed and threw them out, that I will never understand you dear woman! Oh, it was splendid! Both my living companion and her good friend were laughing now and I cannot say with certainty whether I joined them or not, but I suspect I didn’t. The latter then invited my companion to hug and throw her out, proposition at which both of them couldn’t help expressing joy as well, before she told her there is no need to get up since she is capable of finding the door. Nodding at me in a polite manner she turned around and left. Having watched her close the door I turned and looked at my living companion in turn looking at me, thinking if I am to go and pack my things at once, without getting some sleep before leaving, as I thought previously, but she drew before me, forestalling decision I found inevitable, saying simply, Go to the black room, go work now. I stood up, made way to the black room and sat at my desk. Drawing a blank sheet of paper before me I wrote “Living Companion” on the top of it, and continued writing.
(Thought Periodic, p 33-38, November 6)
It is always favorable to consider our daily functioning in relation to thinking. Our thinking process somewhat affects daily functioning, and we say somewhat because we’re unsure whether the thinking process is detriment to our functioning, or rather serves it beneficially. We are inclined to consider it sort of a hindrance. For example, we often find ourselves exhausted, undecided about work, or merely pondering how to get the most out of it, therefore take upon ourselves to take a moment off and leave all thinking aside for a time, cease all efforts, yet at such a time exactly our thinking process impedes our functioning. Instead of claiming dominance over calm and preparing ourselves for upcoming rigorousness regarding dedication to all work, we find it impossible to rest, since our thinking process culminates during this time when we come to terms with ourselves, settle with the idea of taking a moment off, not minding resting, finding intermission propitious to the work and thus indulging willingly without any mental obstruction rest, without any obstruction until our thinking process intervenes, that is, because in that instance of mental calm on account of an idea to take a break, when on terms with the idea, not judging it ruthlessly and mercilessly in a way so as to disparage work ethic and commitment as we are usually prone of doing, but finding a small break most useful to both work and thinking, it is then that our consideration process flares up working with impeccable acuity and sharpness. Sitting down on the sofa and resting, we can sense our thinking process shifting into another gear and ideas pouring in our mind. It seems as if the most deserving ideas are floating around, making us feel positive that any of those ideas are worth noting. And yet, we find ourselves doubting. If we were to stand up and return to the black room, undecided about resuming work due to not relaxing at all, straining ourselves further by new ideas, while terminating the break we hoped growing into inactive but productive time, if we were to return, sit down and note one of these ideas, we would perhaps be satisfied and pleased with our decision, or rather we would be pleased and satisfied undoubtedly, but what if we were to sit upon the desk and, having continued work undecided and lacking relaxation, while grabbing our pen, just then, lose the mental grasp over the idea we thought worth noting, something which occurred to us before, and quite a few times, since we are always tired to some extent, letting the idea, as a result, unwillingly, but with the same outcome as if willingly done, dissipate into thin air before our eyes and on the blank paper before us? Then not only would we not be satisfied or pleased, but, owing to the already present indecisiveness about ending the break, our newfound disappointment, arisen due to susceptibility to precipitous exacerbation, would give birth to growing dissatisfaction and irritation which would in no time amount to open vilification and besmirch of ourselves by ourselves in the most violent manner. So we sit and close our eyes and try to think of nothing but relaxing thoughts knowing full well that we are hanging on a precipice which could lead us both to an extreme progress and to utter downfall. Lacking any audacity, we obviously try very hard, draw our innermost strength and effort, thinking we only need to relieve ourselves of the thinking process at the moment to a certain degree, so that when we do go back to the desk, we are at our most relaxed, capable of reaching the intensity of such a process at its peak, which we’re momentarily denying, therefore capable of pinpointing and noting down the significant idea we feel lingering in our mind. We need to contain ideas until we feel most relaxed and decisive about ending a break, because otherwise all ideas seem plausible due to thinking process flaring up, accompanied by relaxation we feel lacking still. In order to pinpoint a worthy idea both relaxation and mental flare are needed. We must manage to stifle vast amount of ideas bothering us with their emergence, unsure in their reliability as we feel, stifle and contain them, not remove them from our mind altogether, only contain, until we think ourselves relaxed enough to return to work, calm enough to do so with a chance of evaluating ideas properly and claiming the significant one, which led us to take a break in the first place. Sometimes we suspect accomplishing this in half an hour, at which point we rush to our workplace hoping to note down the breakthrough idea. Sitting at our workplace, we usually find ourselves noting not one, but seven or eight ideas, realizing how we’ve failed reaching needed relaxation, acted precipitously, and as a result were consumed by the thinking process which flared up without deference, losing thereby all foundation, becoming groundless, making consciousness endorse all ideas as valid, furthering their uselessness by the selfsame act. One must maintain level-headedness, serenity, keep reason impenetrable to susceptibility to whims, preserve focus and judgment, on account all of which sound mind will contain idea emergence, sustain thinking process flaring up, while disposing of dozens produced ideas which otherwise one would think reliable. Sustain thinking without falling susceptible to personal enthusiasm, optimism, even conceit, is what one must do to single out a worthy idea. Drop dozens, hundreds and thousands of ideas, as soon as they are thought of, in order to reach that one idea worthy of noting.
(Ramblings of a scholar, p 47-55, January 3)
Assuming that I sleep between five and six hours a day, with four of those hours taking place after midnight and one or two hours somewhere in the afternoon, I am left with more or less eighteen hours a day. Then, even with my consciousness regarding time, I still lose about an hour and a half on meals and matters of personal hygiene, which leaves me with sixteen and a half hours a day on average. Going from there, half an hour a day goes on planning, as I am a meticulous planning person. Without planning, it strikes me, I wouldn’t be able to exist. Planning is the way to ensure propitious conditions, precise and calculated, though often varied and envisioned in their variation, procedure in which I place my hopes as a way of enabling and setting myself in a watchful mental state concerning work. In any case, planning and everything else mentioned taken into consideration, I am left with sixteen hours a day. That is my starting point, indicating personal inability to consider twenty four hours, because I don’t have them, time most people consider in their calculations, wrongly if I may note, since most people can’t count even on those sixteen hours, and are, amidst all of their habits, amusements and idleness, left with unbelievable two or three productive hours a day, which is ridiculous and leaves me befuddled, if not positively ashamed, for my fellow men. Sixteen hours is not even my own actual thinking time, but my starting point, as already mentioned. This means that I don’t start from twenty four and deduce from there, but start from sixteen and deduce nothing. As a matter of fact, I resigned myself from deducing method, finding it counterproductive, opting instead for summing method, which I found more efficient and most useful. To clarify, deducing method, to which I was susceptible for the considerable part of my life so far, consisted of taking those sixteen available hours and then deducing from them hours’ worth of work to which I amounted certain significance. This meant using sixteen hours as a starting point and then decreasing it with hours representing actual estimated work time regarding all matters found significant and relevant to spend at least some part of those available sixteen hours on. The more I valued any of those matters, the higher the number representing time spent on that work; with sixteen hours or nine hundred and sixty minutes being theoretically the highest possible number. I often used number of minutes only, finding difficulties always adjusting my work in number of hours. There were few instances when I even broke minutes into seconds, realizing that some work, to my complete amazement, could be done in a minute and a half, work like skimming through the contents of a book to see whether there is any value to it, and in most cases when minutes would not be broken into seconds, I was predisposed towards allocating five minutes to any such endeavor, regardless of the objectively needed time for that work, which is humiliating on behalf of efficiency I hope to achieve. Therefore, starting with sixteen hours, or nine hundred and sixty minutes, which is my theoretical maximum starting point, deducing method consists of decreasing that number of hours with hours’ worth of specific work. Thinking and working, adapting and varying, during a span of few years, having sixteen available hours a day in any case (number to which I remain obedient in most but mentioned cases), in time I found the possibility of improving the deducing method, which always struck me as sub-productive considering the time I used to work, amounting to ten on average. The new method was of fairly simple nature. Upgrade consisted of mentally noting sixteen hours and then, having stored such a note in the back of my mind, forgetting it in the front of my mind, thus not caring about available hours to the extent of having always both in the back and in the front of my mind the fact that sixteen is the maximum number of hours, with which information I conclude any thinking about the matter. Now, when I am not thinking about how many hours I have available, I can’t deduce anything, therefore, I’m left with an option of adding or summing. Obvious thing to do would be to take our most important work and between one and another decide which of them deserves more attention before dedicating ourselves to one, other and any another, summing endeavors towards them into one whole effort. This seems better than deducing from sixteen hours, significantly better even, because by deducing we accept inability to reach full commitment, situation understandable if one is to be serious about work, acknowledging awareness that by adhering to the deducing method, even after a few days, we face a grim disappointment of falling short of what we have planned. Suboptimal is always achieved, because if we make a plan to deduce all sixteen hours to nothing, for example, opting for whole day’s work, pressure immediately sets in being aware that any look from the window and catching a sunrise or a sunset amounts to suboptimal and, in many cases (like in my), by that very fact, to complete ruination of any further work. If we plan on thirteen, we start work taking comfort in the knowledge that we have some usable intermission left, but then we get called from our phone company and spend hours arguing about our bills only to come back and find that, though we’ve started with the intention (not) of thirteen, as we noted to ourselves, hoping to relieve the stress (but fifteen working hours, trying to draw most out of ourselves), we are now faced with no more than nine or ten available hours, a fact enough by itself to dismantle our resolution for the rest of the day. These instances are normal and serve to prove that the deducing method had to be corrected and replaced with a more suitable one, to which the adding method amounts to. The adding or summing method, in which one work is added to another, seems a better method, certainly better than the deducing method, because it lets us objectively see how much we are capable of working, not how much we wish to work, and without being pressured with available time left. Starting our day we can think of work to be done and add one work to another, once some of it is done, not obsessing about deadlines to be met, relieving ourselves of all stress and preserving our focus for objectivity in determining what to do, what can be done and work itself. Having a degree of freedom in the attitude towards work serves us propitiously regarding its quality. All things considered, I was pleased with the summing method, for a time. What perplexed me about it was its lack of capability to push me further, and I found myself extremely receptive to such an incentive. Thinking about it for a while, I divided all available time, in my case sixteen hours, to its constituent parts, hoping this would show me where I could seek further improvements. Without any difficulties I was somewhat surprised to realize that all of my days were filled with: working and productive hours, inactive but still productive hours, and inactive and unproductive hours. It is clear how the adding method enables making the most of active and productive hours, not disturbing and letting them flourish uninhibited as much as possible, but does not affect inactive and productive hours, and especially has no influence on inactive and unproductive hours, with the latter being lethal enemy to any kind of effort. Therefore, finding myself agitated at this situation with the adding method, which, though invariably tolerable, especially in comparison with the deducing method, which is incomparably worse still, is not entirely preferable either, I resigned myself to improving it, not satisfying myself with tolerable but seeking effective, because effective always struck me as better than tolerable. Effective is the word I find very dear and drive extreme joy when it is mentioned in one or another context. In contemplating this matter I took the simple adding method and decided to invert it, alternate in-between its parts and seek ways to make more of them. That is how I came up with a more suitable adding method. I called it a more suitable adding or summing method realizing it is not perfect, in which case I would call it the perfect adding or summing method, amounting to whole sixteen hours, but since I found myself well above ten hours, quite satisfied with such results, though not delighted, seeing I would be delighted only with whole sixteen hours, I called it a more suitable adding method. The method itself is simple. It is similar to the regular adding method, with the difference relating to the subject added. Instead of adding one work on another and observing active and productive time, I made unproductive time my focus. This simple change, though seemingly naive, made an immense improvement on the regular adding method, transforming it into a more suitable summing method. In doing so, all productive time increased for a few whole hours. Never could I imagine waking up and thinking, I will do nothing, won’t do anything at all, but having tried, I realized it possible and even propitious to my work. For instance, I wake up, affirm how nothing will be done, and proceed to do nothing except noting and adding the time which I spend doing nothing, amounting to inactive and unproductive time, and in doing so, after a few minutes, anxiety starts taking a hold over me, making me realize there is no reason to prolong inactivity, even though I could do so should I wish, and I am rushed to set myself about work. After a while I feel tired and I think how good it is that I can take a rest without making a mental note how much work there is to be done or how long will a rest last. And this saves me. It brings me peace and enables me to relieve fatigue, for a time at least, since I didn’t stop noting my unproductiveness. After a while I see myself indulging idleness and realize at once that I can’t find any further reason to be unproductive. I am rest and used my inactive but productive time in both calming and enjoying myself one way or another, but prolonging my inactive time any further makes me start counting my inactive and unproductive time and I am at once aware of this. In that, I made myself a mechanism striving towards optimization. That is the summary of a more suitable adding or summing method. Instead of the simple adding method which focuses on productive time, a more suitable summing method is concerned primarily with inactive and unproductive hours, and in that concern deeply affects working and productive hours.
(Spirit of Decadence, p 70-77, June 27)
We are weak creatures, though still not as weak as we are despicable. One needs only to find himself in a situation where he regrets, meaning for most people making another day, to face all the despicableness of the human race. It is then, when we are on the bottom of our enthusiasm, that the wretchedness of people around us emerges. At first, it comes in a shroud of compassionate voice, making us believe how there is someone who understands us, someone who will try to make us feel better, someone to turn to when in need, but this is an illusion we eagerly fall prey to when in dire circumstances, when we are on our forces end, because people cannot resist feeding on misfortune of another. They come and tap us on the shoulder and tell us it will be better, tell us not to brood about it, not to think about it, tell us that tomorrow is another day and wait for our reaction. They keep their hands on our shoulders and wait to see how we will react and, if we are not comforted, they press our shoulder with their hands, press it tighter and try to further assure us, with more fervor now, how things will change and how the change is right around the corner. Not infrequently they fall to pointing their forefingers significantly up in the air, which distracts us to follow their lead, hoping to see something we’ve failed to see up until now, only to realize that they are already lowering their hand, finding that raising it led nowhere, because they did it on a whim, which people are prone to do and consider as profound intuition and insight, being nothing but a sign of mental debility, in fact, but they take this as a sign that they are awakening us from our despair, making a progress, turning us to some hopeful awareness and so they loosen their grip somewhat around our arms and repeat to us again and again how we should look up, keep our heads high, look ahead, while noting to us some similar situation or other to comfort us, to show us how there is a way out, situation and similar set of circumstances of another person or case to show us how we are not alone, and we are all too ready to believe them. We place our trust in them, putting our faith when most vulnerable in these people who we acknowledge as being there for us, and these people at once sense that we are putting our faith in them, they perceive amount of trust they possess over us, they sense and perceive and realize how thankful we are to them so they smile to us wholeheartedly and note to us how we are looking and seeming better already. They tell us how we are strong characters, unable to be shaken by such paltry matters, then they take a good look at us and catch us in a mild onset of confidence, in a spirit of enthusiasm even. They acknowledge their efforts as successful and proceed to pursue their generosity towards us with enthusiasm of their own. They tell us how we will recover in no time from this particular situation, this particularly tricky situation, dire situation some would say even, for they note to us that dire it could be, something they have no doubts whatsoever we will overcome but what they themselves had not faced before, observing how it proved to be a challenge even in that case of another person they mentioned before, noting to us how they were on the brink and everyone was doubting if they would succeed in their effort to overcome it, therefore making of it something not to be taken lightly, something one should approach carefully they tell us and warn us, recognizing that any such situation bears in itself many threatening consequences, consequences we should be aware of, therefore feeling their duty to indulge, there and then, in enumerating and counting before us all the threatening and dire consequences our situation may incur. Counting one after another, even using fingers in their enumeration so as to ensure us realizing the gravity of our situation, or just to safeguard themselves against overlooking one or another threat they found particularly thoughtful, listing before us a whole set of possible outcomes with due consideration that they cannot be aware of all possible, but that they have found those counted important and that we ourselves should be on a lookout for many others which they could not think of, not being, after all, in such a ponderous situation themselves, as they feel obliged to point out, telling us to be careful, saying over and over how we should watch for ourselves and consider our situation with diligence, watch ourselves and beware, over and over again reminding us that our mistake might prove costly, repeating time and again that what we have done might have this or that set of consequences and asking us if we could explain few things they were interested in about how we succumbed to making a mistake we made, asking us before leaving us with imagined observation how no one would envy us being in our shoes, wishing us however the best of luck while turning away with their head reluctantly shaking in left and right motion. And so, instead of finding comfort, we end up being prosecuted with generosity of these people. They ruthlessly and relentlessly pursue their generosity towards us until they have absolutely ruined us, because only then do they feel some sense of accomplishment. And there can be no doubt, whatsoever, were we somehow able to read their thoughts when they turn their backs on us that we would hear them gloating all over, mocking us and telling anyone and everyone about the source of our regret. If we are weak, people use it against us and feed their own hypocrisy in order to enjoy their daily diet of despicableness, voracious as they are for misfortune and faults of others, using their baseness to get the better of us and ruin us so they can achieve their own goals and satisfy their greed. No one should ever regret if possible, if not, everyone should work towards first overcoming and then, gradually, extinguishing regret altogether as a feeling bearing any significant hold over us.
(Ramblings of a scholar, p 20-24, February 14)
It is somewhere around five o’clock in the morning. I could very well lean myself on the left side of the bed and turn on the lamp, determining positively by looking at the wall clock the exact time, but I do not do this, because if I was to lean to the left and turn on the light, indulging onset of curiosity, there would be no hope of my returning to sleep. Many years of failed attempts assured me of this. For years, while trying to fall asleep, I used to wonder after hours of being unable to do so, just how much time, how many hours, had passed since I turned off the light, since I had laid on the bed and gave myself wholly to attempting to fall asleep. Was it an hour ago, or perhaps two? But assuring myself of an answer to this question led to another question, and then to yet another, all of them result of unremitting subconscious intent bent upon keeping me awake in fear of losing the time to think. Having tried my best in the past not to succumb to this contra-productive curiosity, I developed various tactics to serve as the last line of defense against probing questions which pursued their ascent from within exhausted consciousness. For instance, at times I submitted myself to counting seconds by observing the sound of clock pointers. I would start from one to one hundred and ninety nine. My tactic was never to precipitately mentally acknowledge the passing second, at the point when the pointer clicked, but to wait for the clicking to be over, making sure one second had positively passed before I accounted it. Of course, mental acknowledgment would have to be done before the next click, giving me an interval of a second to observe, acknowledge and make note of a passed second. I was never prone to making the first kind of mistake, which is acknowledging the passing second before the click, on the other hand, failure to mentally acknowledge passed second before the next click, caused me grave difficulties. From one to hundred I almost never made mistakes, from one hundred to one hundred and fifty rarely, but from one hundred and fifty to one hundred and ninety nine it often happened that I failed to mentally pronounce the passing second before the next click arrived. Therefore, I had to start from zero and count again from there. This didn’t bother me much. Anxiety started to kick in if I failed the second attempt within the same range. If I failed again between one hundred and fifty and one hundred and ninety nine I would feel agitated at my own incompetence at such a simple task, as counting clicks undoubtedly is. The closer I came to one hundred and ninety nine, the greater my anxiety became. It seems to me now, years later, that I had particular problems with the tenner in-between one hundred and eighty nine and one hundred and ninety nine. That was the crucial interval. Succeeding to overcome that point meant that l could count on all the next intervals being less severe. I established this practice as a way of repelling many distractions which were brutal in their attempts to keep me awake all night. Therefore, in all cases in which I failed to assuage curiosity upon successfully finishing the first interval, the one between zero and one hundred and ninety nine (which took five or six tries at times), the next interval would follow, ranging between zero and three hundred and ninety nine. I should mention that the next interval brought the same kind of problems, occurring in exactly the same tenner, ranging between one hundred and eighty nine and one hundred and ninety nine again. However, I noticed through regular practice, having in mind how the first interval rarely worked at dissuading my consciousness to mitigate its relentlessness toward sleeplessness, that it only took me three or four attempts to successfully complete the next interval. In fact, I came to conclusion that every next interval would bear fewer mistakes than the previous one, which struck me as improbable and, therefore, interesting. At first, I was able to fall asleep by way of this routine on every second or third attempt made. This was satisfactory, since two or three times a week I could count on falling asleep sooner than usual, at one or two instead of three or four o’clock in the morning. Such benefits lasted for a time, couple of months, before the procedure stretched to working once a week, and, not before long, once in ten or fifteen days. By the time it dropped to working once a month, I realized both why I was making fewer mistakes with each next interval, and why the routine was growing less successful. The matter was simple. By the time I was in the third interval, over with the first and the second, I was already further from the possibility of falling asleep than I was in the second, or especially the first interval. While in the first interval click counting proved to soothe my nerves and bring me closer to sleep, by the second interval, depending on necessary attempts to complete the first, I would be already going farther away from falling asleep, and by the third interval, I would be more awake in comparison to the first and the second interval together, concentrated on falling asleep less than on ensuring I do not make a click counting mistake! I made greater effort on counting than on the result counting was supposed to produce. So it is rather natural, after all, that every next interval brought fewer mistakes, since I was gathering more and more concentration by every passing second from third onward or even from second interval onward, to which point click counting may have served to soothe my mind. From that point on I established and exercised a routine which served without failure in assuring my implacable sleeplessness. This is not as strange and unfortunate, I think to myself now, as realization that I still from time to time attempt this positively ineffective routine, last successful shot of which I cannot even remember.
Alexander Hicks spent his childhood in a small town dreaming not of the big wide world, but of playing the piano. After years of thinking how such desire would eventually come about, one day, having read a newspaper account of a chess match, a game he was not familiar in the least, he sat upon his desk and started writing a diary, first entry of which he titled I can’t play the piano. And the same is with chess.
Growing up, list of things he wasn’t capable of kept gaining new entries, but so did his back room filled with scribbled pages. By the time he reached adolescence, though reserved in participation, he developed interest towards human behavior, attraction he holds still and which prompted him to forward his efforts towards getting the better understanding of it.
Undergoing studies he kept himself sparse of free time by devoting attention to literature and cinema, amid which he grew to appreciate the works of Kafka and Dostoevsky; Kieślowski and Lynch; among others, embracing the principle of thought as one bearing the strongest pull over him. Delving deeper into the art of thinking and sensibility, while playing occasionally chess matches, he maintained his fascination for people, embodying such an interest into a number of written works, and, indeed, into a few published ones as well.
Allegedly, he often recalls cheerful memories of keeping a childhood diary, acknowledging that though the terrible list keeps growing, he never ceases attempts at slowing its progress.
To this day he hasn’t learned to play the piano.
"It is easy for her, I find myself observing and noting while standing in the middle of the black room now, not easy for painters in general, but for her, to produce a work of art. All she has to do is to feel up for it, take her brushes, start painting and some five or six hours later there is a work of art, perhaps not of particular class, yet art nonetheless. But it is so much harder for me, not for thinkers in general, but for me, to produce a written work. Irrespective of my feelings about it, seeing how I feel predisposed towards writing every day, I have to sit down and prepare myself, order and arrange everything around the desk and the shelves, check allocation all over, sort everything around me, the chair and all the notes, along the covers, go through the preparatory routine, place the paper correctly, preserve highest concentration, etc., and I have been doing all that for years now and still haven’t wrote a word. I could see myself, standing as I was in the black room, passing through the living room, on my way to the kitchen perhaps, or simply to rest, passing while my living companion was painting, throwing colors all over the white canvas, and while scrutinizing her at work I could notice her subtly noting, whispering, You haven’t published anything. That's what she would say in a barely audible tone, imperceptible almost, before turning around and repeating it in my face, Nothing, that’s what you’ve wrote so far, I could hear her saying, though she never said any of this, only I imagine her saying it constantly. She parades her ides on a canvas every few days, while I keep thinking of the first thought about the psychology poetry book to be written, sitting in my chair considering solutions and variations about possible beginning, all the while arranging the pencils on the desk before me. It is unbearable at times, I think to myself. "