Life was an endless string of miseries; if one came to an end there was another waiting around the corner, and if that misfortune became easier to bear, the next would strike harder, leaving creases on our faces that made us all look alike. Even if misfortune came suddenly, we knew it had been there all along, lying in wait on the road in front of us, so we were always ready for it; when the new cloud of trouble descended on us we felt alone, hopelessly alone, inescapably alone; but still we dreamed of the happiness we might find if only we could find other people willing to share our misery.
As we grow older and begin to feel like beasts of burden weighed down by a surfeit of memories, which ones do we throw off first: the least felicitous memories, the heaviest, or the ones that fall most easily by the wayside?
Millions of wretches will wander like sleepwalkers through the city’s filthy streets, its muddy and eternally disordered squares, wearing their sad stories like halos of woe.
People came in all shapes and sizes, dropping in at the worst and most inappropriate moments with worthless rumors and disgusting gossip. If they came hoping to do a good deed, they succeeded only in disturbing the peace. Their affections failed to calm; they simply smothered. They spoke only to prove they had thoughts. To convince you they were interesting, they told you stories. To show you that they loved you, they robbed you of your peace of mind. Though most might not see any of this as important, they were devastating for who would have shed blood to become himself, who wanted nothing more than to be alone with his thoughts; after every visit from these bloodless gossips, these foolish, inane superfluities, he would for a very long time find himself unable to be himself.
I must forget these people buzzing inside my head, I must forget their voistupidityces, their smells, their demands, their love, their hate, and be myself, as I gazed down at the legs resting so happily on the stool, and I told myself again as I looked up to watch the smoke I’d blown up to the ceiling; I must be myself, because if I failed to be myself, I became the person they wanted me to be, and I can’t bear the person they want me to be; if I had to be that insufferable person, I’d rather be nothing at all.
If that’s how it has to die, go ahead and kill it; then kill the false prophets who sold you on the mystery in the first place!