Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

My friend

And how lonely this man had suddenly become, that shocked me most deeply. Especially one who had been born as a so-called sociable person and grown up and grown big and eventually grown middle-aged and old. And then, how I had come to know this person, who had truly been my friend, who had made my, by no means in itself unhappy but nevertheless most of the time difficult, existence so often so very happy. Who had enlightened me about so much that had been totally unfamiliar to me, who had shown paths to me that I had not previously known, opened doors for me which had previously been totally locked to me, who had at the decisive moment, when I might possibly have gone to seed in Nathal, in the country, led me back to myself. The fact is that during that period, before I came to know my friend, I had for years been struggling against a pathological melancholia, if not indeed depression, and had actually then regarded myself as lost, for years I had not done any work of any significance and most of the time started and ended my days with total uninterest in them. And I had very often then been close to putting an end to my life by my own hand. For years I had escaped into nothing other than a terribly soul-killing speculation on suicide, which had made everything intolerable to me, myself most intolerable of all, against that pointlessness of everything that enveloped me day after day and into which I had probably, out of general weakness but primarily out of my weakness of character, plunged myself. For a long time I had been unwilling to imagine that I could go on living, or even go on existing, I had been unable to accept any purpose in life and unable therefore any longer to control myself, and, when I woke up in the morning, I had irresistably been subject to that suicidal thought mechanism from which I had not freed myself all day. I had also, at that time, been abandoned by everybody because I had abandoned everybody, that is the truth, because I did not want them any more but was too cowardly to put an end to myself. And it was probably at the peak of this despair, I am not ashamed to utter this word because I have no intention of deceiving myself or glossing over in a society or in a world where everything is being continually glossed over and, what is more, in the most revolting manner, that Paul had emerged, that I had made his acquaintance in Blumenstockgasse at our mutual friend Irina's. At that moment he was such a totally different, new, person for me, moreover associated with a name I had, for some decades, admired more than any other, that I immediately felt that here was my saviour. On that seat in the Stadtpark I once more clearly realized all this and I was not afraid of my pompous words, not of the great words which I now forcibly admitted to myself, words which I had at no other time admitted, and now they were suddenly doing me good in some tremendous way and I did not tone them down in the least. I let these words come down upon me like refreshing rain.
Thomas Bernhard in Wittgenstein's Nephew, translated by Ewald Osers.


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