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The Nightwatches : an English translation of the anonymous German novel Die Nachtwachen des Bonaventura,… Theissen, Elmar Theodore 1973

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THE NIGHTWATCHES An E n g l i s h t r a n s l a t i o n of the anonymous German novel Die Nachtwachen des Bonaventura, 1804 with an in t r o d u c t i o n Elmar Theodore Theissen B.A., U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1968 A THESIS SUBMITTED IK PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n Comparative L i t e r a t u r e We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA A p r i l , 1973 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of Bri t ish Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by his representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of n f t Tnpa.-rat.l VP T.i t . f t r a t i i r e The University of Br i t ish Columbia Vancouver 8, Canada D a t e A p r i l 27. \m - i i -ABSTRACT The Nightwatches deserves an attempt at t r a n s l a t i o n i n t o E n g l i s h because i t a n t i c i p a t e s some of modern l i t e r a t u r e ' s preoccupation with meaninglessness and nothingness and elucidates the evolution of t h i s a t t i t u d e toward l i f e both i n form and i n content. Written i n 1804, The Nightwatches portrays a p o s i t i o n opposed to the transcendental idealism that characterized the p h i l o s o p h i c a l basis of the European Romantic Movement, and instead demonstrates that the i n d e f i n i t e longing f o r an unknown t r u t h and the emphasis on the s e l f and on the i n t u i t i v e f a c u l t i e s of man's mind - a l l hallmarks of t h i s movement which d i s t i n g u i s h e d i t from previous l i t e r a r y trends - l e d as e a s i l y to d i s s o l u t i o n and nothingness as to c e r t i t u d e and the concept of a l i v i n g , organic universe. Turning away from the objective world and p l a c i n g emphasis l a r g e l y on the mind with i t s dangerous dichotomy of i n t e l l e c t and i n t u i t i o n , The Nightwatches presents the r e s u l t of the Romantic f a i l u r e to combine the transcendental with the r e a l , a f a i l u r e that removed the mind's inner foundations of ce r t i t u d e and f a i t h , r e s u l t i n g i n a l o s s of r e l i g i o n and a negative view of existence. L i f e becomes a delusion, and knowledge mere hypothesis, and The Night-watches mirrors t h i s new awareness with the help of masks, theatre imagery, and s a t i r e . Thus, The Nightwatches charts a world-view which was developed considerably by n i h i l i s t i c w r i t e r s of the l a t t e r h a l f of the nineteenth century and which has culminated, i n our own times, i n the work of playwrights of the absurd, notably the work of Samuel Beckett, which demonstrates great s i m i l a r i t y to the content of The Nightwatches. - i i i -ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I am indebted to Professor Marketa Stankiewicz of the Comparative L i t e r a t u r e Programme and to Professor Michael Bullock of the Department of Creative Writing f o r t h e i r valuable suggestions regarding some problems of the i n t r o d u c t i o n and the t r a n s l a t i o n , and I am e s p e c i a l l y g r a t e f u l to Professor Edward Mornin of the Department of German - h i s patient c r i t i c a l advice and indispensable encouragement made i t possib l e f o r me to complete t h i s p r o j e c t . - i v -TABLE OP CONTENTS ABSTRACT , i i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS i i i TABLE OP CONTENTS ' i v INTRODUCTION ' I FOOTNOTES XLIII BIBLIOGRAPHY XLVII THE NIGHTWATCHES . TABLE OP CONTENTS la - 3a THE NIGHTWATCHES 1-173 INTRODUCTION As we absorb the Western l i t e r a t u r e of the twentieth century, we are surely aware that i t i s pervaded with a consciousness of estrangement from the universe and from s o c i e t y . Few wr i t e r s of stature deny modern man's p r e v a i l i n g state of anxiety and exhaustion. Yeats' prophecy "things f a l l apart; the centre cannot hold" ("The Second Coming"), w r i t t e n at the turn of the century, has become a terse summary of a malaise a t t r i b u t e d v a r i o u s l y to our advance i n technology, to our in c r e a s i n g s e c u l a r i z a t i o n , and to our discovery that a l l human know-ledge seems mere hypothesis. As a medium of communication, l i t e r a t u r e gives f a c e -l e s s abstractions a countenance and t r a n s l a t e s a concept i n t o an image, a struc t u r e . o r an a c t i o n . E l i o t ' s "thousand sordid images" ("Preludes", 1917) r e f l e c t modern man's a l i e n a t i o n , n i h i l i s m and l o s s of i d e n t i t y . The p h y s i c a l state of Hemingway's heroes, castrated, s h e l l -I I -shocked and scarred, mirrors a s p i r i t u a l condition. In the modern theatre, the knowledge of estrangement, inherent i n modern poetry and the novel, i s extensively dramatized -i s o l a t i o n , s t e r i l i t y and emptiness are major themes of the contemporary stage. In the plays of P i r a n d e l l o , f o r example, anxiety, fear of a chaotic void, and a conscious-ness of the i l l u s i o n of a l l moral norms and categories play havoc with the concepts of r o l e and i d e n t i t y . Beckett's tragi-comedy Waiting f o r Godot (1953) stresses that meaningful a c t i o n i n l i f e i s impossible. Two tramps wait p a t i e n t l y f o r an unspe c i f i e d form of s a l v a t i o n , f o r a "centre" to give t h e i r l i v e s purpose and d e f i n i t i o n . They are images of every man, and the s i t u a t i o n i n which they f i n d themselves i s a metaphor of modern man as a stranger i n the universe. Surveying modern l i t e r a t u r e ' s preoccupation with meaninglessness and nothingness, we are confronted with a " f a i t accompli" i n most cases. Beckett's tramps, f o r example, appear to us at the end of t h e i r journey, i n a universe where space and time and knowledge are meaningless, where human perception i s at best an aberration, and where s a l v a t i o n seems a hopeless dream. We might w e l l ask how t h i s awareness came into being, and f o r the answer we must turn to the l i t e r a r y evidence of the past. - I I I -At f i r s t glance, The Nightwatches, published under the pseudonym Bonaventura"*" i n Germany i n 1804, seems an u n l i k e l y work f o r our search. Midnight s t r i k e s ; a n i g h t -watchman puts on h i s work clothes and crosses himself r e l i g i o u s l y as he walks out i n t o the night. As we proceed, however, we discover that h i s t a l e i s modern. We eventually f i n d him s i t t i n g at the edge of Nothingness: Not a s i n g l e object anywhere except a great, t e r r i b l e I which fed on i t s e l f and i n s t a n t l y • gave b i r t h to i t s e l f again. I d i d not sink, f o r there was no space to sink i n t o , but neither did I seem to r i s e . A l l change had disappeared together with time, g i v i n g way to dreadful, endless boredom. T e r r i f i e d , I t r i e d to a n n i h i l a t e myself^- but I remained and f e l t myself immortal. A century and a h a l f l a t e r , t h i s l i t e r a r y character has hardly moved - the Nothingness p e r s i s t s . Sartre c a l l s the apprehension of t h i s Nothingness "nausea". Hemingway writes about i t i n a prayer: " H a i l nothing f u l l of nothing, nothing i s with thee" (A Clean. Well-Lighted Place. 1927). Like Sartre's Roquentin and Hemingway's old waiter, the watchman i s a l i e n a t e d from h i s own s e l f , from God, and from s o c i e t y . Throughout h i s story he pursues h i s metaphysical i d e n t i t y , h i s naked ego. He blasphemes the God responsible f o r h i s meaningless existence, and he r e v i l e s h i s fellow-men savagely. F i n a l l y , he chooses to f i g h t h i s abysmal v i s i o n with laughter. However, some modern heroes have l o s t even the a b i l i t y to laugh. They -IV-wait f o r death with a l i t t l e patience, or endure l i k e Faulkner's heroes, or drown t h e i r sorrows i n mescal, as f o r example does the consul Geoffrey i n Lowry's Under  the Volcano (1947). Unlike the modern hero, the watchman hopes, but h i s hopes are constantly thwarted. He loves, and watches h i s beloved die i n c h i l d - b i r t h . He prays, and f i n d s himself mouthing curses, and views the world as an "empty, stupid stage f o r f o o l s and masks" (p. 124). He examines the chaos of the microcosm, attacks the Church, marriage and j u s t i c e , and parodies love, joy and sorrow. For the watchman, "the s k u l l i s never missing behind the f l i r t a t i o u s mask, and l i f e i s only the f o o l ' s costume which Nothingness has donned i n order to t i n k l e i t s b e l l s f o r a while and then f i n a l l y to rend i t a n g r i l y and to d i s c a r d i t " (p. 85). Embedded i n h i s story, we f i n d l i t e r a r y techniques and images since expanded and explored with greater r e f i n e -ment. Through the medium of masks and theatre imagery borrowed from the "commedia d e l l 1 a r t e " and from Shakespeare, he makes h i s point that nothing can be known with c e r t a i n t y . He switches time sequence, i n s e r t s mad fantasy between r a t i o n a l argument, mixes poetry with prose, constantly stresses the motifs of s i l e n c e and p e t r i f a c t i o n , and r e v e l s i n s a t i r e and irony. The Nightwatches are modern not only i n t h e i r s p i r i t , but also i n some of t h e i r form and presentation The year 1804 places The Nightwatches i n that period of l i t e r a r y h i s t o r y known as Romanticism, a h i s t o r i c a l movement i n a r t and ideas which occurred i n Europe i n the l a t e eighteenth and e a r l y nineteenth century. Thinkers and w r i t e r s throughout Germany, France, and England began searching f o r a new system of explaining the nature of r e a l i t y and the duties of man, and European thought s h i f t e d from conceiving the universe as a mechanism to conceiving i t as an organism, i n a r e a c t i o n against the regulated and reasoned universe of M i l t o n and Descartes. M i l t o n i n 1674 had seen the universe as an immutable hierarchy, and * n Paradise Lost had sought not only "to j u s t i f y the ways of God to man" - Reason was h i s trustworthy guide, and he divided the universe i n t o what could be known with c e r t a i n t y and what one could not know - but also admonished the reader: " s o l i c i t not thy thoughts with matters h i d " . Eighteenth century thinkers, however, attacked the r a t i o n a l , mechanistic universe from a l l sides and t r i e d to deal with the "unknown" f a c t o r s : Hume was a r a d i c a l s c e p t i c ; Berkeley questioned the r e a l i t y of matter; and Kant i n h i s C r i t i q u e of Pure Reason (1781) argued that reason could neither e s t a b l i s h nor prove the essence of a thing, and that man lacked the f a c u l t i e s required to perceive God. -71-Attacking the very bases of t r a d i t i o n a l metaphysics and philosophy, he pointed out that "the r e a l i t y of external objects i s not capable of any s t r i c t proof".^ In Germany, thinkers such as Fichte and S c h e l l i n g a l s o r e j e c t e d reason as a p o s i t i v e method of perce i v i n g t r u t h , but argued that man could overcome the l i m i t a t i o n s of the mind and experience t r u t h i n a state "out of himself". Fichte postulated, i n The Science of Knowledge (1794), that the universe existed i n man's mind. The s e l f created not only i t s e l f , but also the objects surrounding i t , and once i t learned to observe i t s e l f i n the act of cre a t i o n , i t i n f a c t perceived t r u t h . S c h e l l i n g , i n h i s Ideas concerning a Philosophy of Nature (1797), bl u r r e d the d i s t i n c t i o n between nature and mind; neither mind nor nature are absolute; the former i s i n v i s i b l e nature, the l a t t e r v i s i b l e mind. Moreover, he believed that a l l . s o l i d i t y was mere appearance - a p o l a r i t y of molecules. At "death", the i l l u s i o n of s o l i d i t y i s l o s t , and one becomes once more a f l u c t u a t i o n of the universe i n a r e t u r n to a greater harmony and a f u l l e r l i f e . For S c h e l l i n g , t r u t h resided i n h i s concept of the mystical union of man with nature: " . . . i n the absolute i d e n t i t y of 5 the s p i r i t i n s i d e of us with nature outside of us". I t was the s p i r i t u a l and imaginative side of man's mind which i n t e r e s t e d the Romantic thinkers. In the realm -VII-of r e l i g i o n , Schleiermacher destroyed every l i n k between f a i t h and r a t i o n a l knowledge and placed them i n a n t i t h e s i s to each other. Herder, i n h i s Knowledge and Sentiment of  the Soul (1778), placed emphasis on the heart rather than the l o g i c a l mind as a true witness of the world and he elected the poet as i n t e r p r e t e r of the soul's perceptions: "the prophecies of poets - they alone can provide us with material f o r the true study of the s o u l " . ^ F r i e d r i c h von Schlegel also saw the a r t i s t as that man best suited f o r an understanding of t r u t h . For him, the a r t i s t became i n -c r e a s i n g l y aware of himself, during a r t i s t i c a c t i v i t y , as an i n d i v i d u a l and at the same time as creator, and could discover the divine element wi t h i n himself. In t h e i r search f o r s p i r i t u a l a l t e r n a t i v e s to Reason, the German poets and thinkers sought to define Romanticism, and d e f i n i t i o n s ranged from "a progressive u n i v e r s a l poetry o to "an inner regeneration of the t o t a l i t y of existence". Writers such as Ludwig Tieck and Clemens Brentano turned toward love, poetry and imagination and considered them superior to reason as i n t e r p r e t e r s of man's nature and of existence. New thoughts s i m i l a r to those i n Germany took place i n France. In The Creed of a P r i e s t of Savoy (1752), Rousseau, d i s s a t i s f i e d with the concept of a God r e s i d i n g outside His s t a t i c universe, f e l t that God was i n nature, a p a n t h e i s t i c explanation of the world that - V I I I -passed i n t o German philosophy with S c h e l l i n g and Hegel. Moreover, i n h i s Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts (1749), Rousseau claimed that the "natural" man of f e e l i n g was superior to the c i v i l i z e d man formed by r a t i o n a l culture and so c i e t y , and he stressed the uniqueness of each i n d i v i d u a l . Rousseau's ideas found acceptance i n Germany through q Kant i n the 1760 !s and through Goethe, and a l i t t l e l a t e r , German ideas were disseminated i n France. Mme. de S t a S l introduced F r i e d r i c h von Schlegel's w r i t i n g s to France i n Of Germany (1810), and a t t r i b u t e d to him and to Kant the honour of winning f o r German philosophy a p o s i t i o n of d i s t i n c t i o n . Between 1817 and 1820, V i c t o r Cousin l e c t u r e d at the Sorbonne on F i c h t e , S c h e l l i n g , and F r i e d r i c h von Schlegel and stressed the emotions and the heart as true witnesses of existence. In England, there was no consciously d i r e c t e d "movement" of Romanticism, but the same forces were at work. In The  Enthusiast (1740), Joseph Warton advocated a re t u r n to nature i n the b e l i e f that n a t u r a l conditions of man and human society are the best conditions. Through Macpherson's Ossian (1762) and S i r Walter Scott's novels ( a f t e r 1814), nature, p r i m i t i v i s m , sentimentalism, and f i g u r e s such as the prophet and the peasant became major concerns of -IX-E n g l i s h l i t e r a t u r e . Between 1798 and 1832, however, wr i t e r s such as Blake and Coleridge placed great emphasis upon the Imagination and saw the s p i r i t u a l mind of man as the c e n t r a l point and governing f a c t o r of true knowledge. For Blake: This world of Imagination i s the world of E t e r n i t y ; . . . This world of Imagination i s I n f i n i t e and Eternal...There e x i s t i n that E t e r n a l World the Permament R e a l i t i e s of Every T h i n g . . . A l l Things are comprehended i n t h e i r E t e r n a l forms in...The Human 1 0 Imagination. In 1817, Coleridge set up the concepts of the primary and secondary imagination i n h i s Biographia L i t e r a r i a : The primary Imagination I hold to "be the l i v i n g power and prime Agent of a l l human Perceptions, and as a r e p e t i t i o n i n the f i n i t e mind of the e t e r n a l act of c r e a t i o n i n i n the i n f i n i t e I AM. x ± He defined the secondary imagination as that f a c u l t y of the mind which fashions poetry out of the experiences encountered by the primary imagination. Like t h e i r German and French counterparts, the E n g l i s h Romantics f e l t that t r u t h could be apprehended only i n t u i t i v e l y and imaginatively. And i n a summary of the i d e a l philosophy prevalent i n a l l three countries, three c r i t e r i a of Romanticism emerge: imagination and f e e l i n g as true i n t e r p r e t e r s of the world, an organic concept of nature, and symbol and myth f o r poetic s t y l e . Romanticism was a r e v o l u t i o n i n the European mind against thinking -X-i n terms of mechanism and the r e d i r e c t i o n of the mind to thi n k i n g i n terms of organism. I t s values were "change, imperfection, growth, d i v e r s i t y , the creative imagination, 12 the unconscious." How do The Nightwatches f i t i n t o t h i s l o f t y Romantic movement? The watchman negates rather than a f f i r m s existence, and h i s imagination leads him toward Nothingness instead of i n f i n i t e and e t e r n a l c r e a t i o n . He views the universe as a cosmic clock (p. 33) c o n t r o l l e d by death (p. 171) rather than as a l i v i n g organism. Despite the o p t i m i s t i c German p h i l o s o p h i c a l formulas, French sentiments of the mysterious and i n f i n i t e , and the E n g l i s h idea of c r e a t i v e imagination, some w r i t e r s , while attempting to embrace these transcendental values, had periods of doubt and despair and saw "neither beauty nor goodness i n the universe, nor any s i g n i f i c a n c e , nor indeed 13 any order at a l l . . . " . Having s h i f t e d the seat of know-ledge from the outside to w i t h i n themselves, they were plagued by doubts about the r e a l i t y of t h e i r perceptions, aware that one man's v i s i o n s are often nothing more than h a l l u c i n a t i o n s . The i n d e f i n i t e longing f o r an unknown t r u t h , to be perceived by the i n t u i t i o n alone, l e d to disenchantment "and ennui, and the w r i t e r s thus a f f l i c t e d often sought comfort i n s o l i t u d e and r e v e r i e and became -XI-the victims of melancholy and pessimism. In France, Senancour's Obermann (1802) describes a hero who r e t r e a t s to Switzerland to l i v e alone and explore the assumption that "the true l i f e of man i s within, while that which he derives from without i s only adventitious and s u b s e r v i e n t " . x ^ Yet even the v i s t a of the Alps cannot make him love nature, and he states i n a l e t t e r to a f r i e n d that knowledge i s f u t i l e , since i t i s erroneous, and that a l l h i s attempts to l e a r n through h i s i n t u i t i o n b r i n g him only melancholy and an awareness of death. Among the poets, A l f r e d de Vigny expressed i n h i s works an ambivalence between b e l i e f and d i s b e l i e f i n God and the p o s s i b i l i t y or i m p o s s i b i l i t y of a supreme v i s i o n - neither reason nor f e e l i n g l e d to c e r t a i n t y . In h i s poem "The Mount of O l i v e s " (1843), even C h r i s t at Gethsemane, the spokesman f o r a searching mankind, prays and pleads i n vain. He prays f o r man i n h i s search f o r t r u t h , and f o r the a b i l i t y to destroy doubt and e v i l ; but the answer to h i s pleas i s the sound of Judas' approaching foot-steps. For de Vigny, man was condemned never to know the reason f o r and the goal of h i s existence, and h i s only s o l u t i o n was to face the s i l e n t God with a despair comprising both r e b e l l i o n and r e s i g n a t i o n . De Musset, i n A Modern Man's  Confession (1835), also discussed despair and diagnosed i t as "the malady of the century", noting that with t h i s •XII-i l l n e s s : i A cadaverous and poisonous l i t e r a t u r e , having only a form, and that a hideous one, commenced to s p r i n k l e with f o e t i d blood a l l the monsters of nature. He was r e f e r r i n g to the c u l t of decadence which encompassed a l i t e r a t u r e that dealt with degeneracy and a r t i f i c i a l i t y and denied f a i t h and morality, a l i t e r a t u r e that had begun already i n 1791 with de Sade's Just i n e , which declared that nature was d e s t r u c t i v e (contrary to Rousseau's view of a benevolent nature) and which featured characters determined to blaspheme Romantic love i n every perversion p o s s i b l e . This l i t e r a t u r e became a serious a r t i s t i c pre-occupation i n France e s p e c i a l l y during the second Empire (1850-1870) and r e v o l t e d against the Romantic concepts of Nature and i d e a l love. Often resigned and i n d i f f e r e n t , some wr i t e r s of t h i s c u l t were seeking no longer supreme emotion, but supreme sensation, i n t e r e s t e d merely i n the f r e s h t i t i l l a t i o n of man's jaded senses. Charles Baudelaire, i n h i s Flowers of E v i l (1861 e d i t i o n ) , described a universe b e r e f t of meaning i n the poem "The Abyss": Alas, a l l i s abyss - dream, a c t i o n , prayer, and word, -On night's dark depths God's subtle f i n g e r s trace a multiform and p i t i l e s s nightmare. In "To a Madonna", he begins with blasphemy (the Madonna i s h i s mistress) and ends with the wish to murder her with "seven torture-Knives, keen to the h i l t " fashioned out of - X I I I -tlie seven deadly s i n s , and i n the poem "The Sunset of Romanticism", an exultant sun-rise i s followed by a night of mephitic odours, "black, gloomy, shadowed with dark shuddering fogs". In England too the experience of a meaningful, b l i s s f u l world gave way i n some w r i t e r s to an experience of empti-ness which included boredom, a collapse of values, and a general sense of helplessness. The t y p i c a l symbols of t h i s negative a t t i t u d e were i n d i v i d u a l s f i l l e d with despair and cosmic a l i e n a t i o n , i n d i v i d u a l s such as Byron's ChiIde Harold (1811-1818) and Manfred (1817). Lord Byron, the most i n f l u e n t i a l of the E n g l i s h Romantics throughout Europe, was an avowed cynic and pessimist and from the outset c r i t i c i z e d the Romantic emphasis on imagination and nature. Harold i s "the wandering outlaw of h i s own dark mind" (Canto I I I ) , and Manfred considers knowledge a cup f u l l of sorrow: They who know the most Must mourn the deepest o'er the f a t a l t r u t h , The Tree of Knowledge i s not that of L i f e . ' Both Harold and Manfred are outsiders to l i f e , and t h e i r c u l t of the ego and i n d i v i d u a l i s m took Europe by storm. In Russia, f o r example, Pushkin patterned h i s Eugene Onegin (1833) on Byron's Don Juan (1821) and said outright that Onegin was " . . . l i k e Childe Harolde, gloomy, languid... 1 8 nothing touched him; he touched nothing", and Lermontov's -XIV-A Hero of our Time (1840) r e f l e c t e d the world-weariness and ennui of much of Byron's work: the hero Pechorin seduces two women out of sheer boredom and t r a v e l s across Russia i n search of excitement to stimulate h i s jaded senses. Walking home a f t e r witnessing a game of Russian r o u l e t t e , he a t t r i b u t e s h i s a l i e n a t e d condition to the excessive p r a c t i c e of imagination: In my e a r l y youth, I was a dreamer; I l i k e d to fondle images, gloomy and i r i d e s c e n t by turn, that my r e s t l e s s and v i v i d imagination p i c t u r e d to me. But what was l e f t to me of i t ? Nothing but weariness, as from a night b a t t l e with a phantom, and a vague memory f u l l of r e g r e t s . In t h i s v a i n struggle, I exhausted the ardency of soul and the endurance of w i l l , indispensable -,Q f o r r e a l l i f e . . . I became bored and disgusted. In Romantic w r i t e r s such as C a r l y l e and Coleridge, a negative a t t i t u d e toward existence was often an aspect of conversion, part of a s p i r i t u a l death when the old values of Reason died and when the new transcendental values, such as an organic universe with an immament God, made as yet no sense. In C a r l y l e * s Sartor Resartus (1831), Professor Teufelsdrttekh loses h i s r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f and i n the seventh chapter, t i t l e d "The E v e r l a s t i n g No", sees the universe void of a l l l i f e and v o l i t i o n . There follows "The Centre of I n d i f f e r e n c e " during which he i s a wanderer and an observer of the a b s u r d i t i e s of l i f e . In "The E v e r l a s t i n g Yea" (chapter nine), a change comes over him and he sees i n nature the " L i v i n g Garment of God". Coleridge, i n h i s b a l l a d The Rime of the - X V -Ancient Mariner (1798) portrays a s i m i l a r death and r e b i r t h . The mariner v i o l a t e s l i f e by shooting the albat r o s s ; he f a i l s to believe i n nature as a l i v i n g organism. I s o l a t i o n and a l i e n a t i o n are the consequences. But as he i s touched by an impulse of love and acceptance, h i s despair vanishes and he unawares blesses the water snakes surrounding h i s ship. The universe takes on l i f e again. I t was not u n t i l the V i c t o r i a n era that i n E n g l i s h l i t e r a t u r e man was seen as a he l p l e s s creature i n a meaningless universe and at the mercy of forces around him. In h i s dramatic poem Empedocles on Aetna (1853)» Matthew Arnold depicted a hero s u f f e r i n g from a l i e n a t i o n based on s p i r i t u a l i s o l a t i o n . Empedocles 1 state of mind i s depression and ennui i n a world which i s f o r him devoid of r e l i g i o u s or e t h i c a l meaning. To escape h i s depression and h i s deadness to joy and animated l i f e , he commits s u i c i d e . Robert Browning, i n The Ring and the Book (1869), focussed on the f a l l i b i l i t y of man's way of knowing t r u t h -ten witnesses t e s t i f y at a murder t r i a l i n seventeenth century I t a l y , and each has a d i f f e r e n t story. Browning, turning d i r e c t l y to the reader, asks him to le a r n t h i s lesson: ...our human speech i s naught, Our human testimony f a l s e , our fame 2 T And human estimation words and wind. -XVI-In Germany, the two a t t i t u d e s toward existence o u t l i n e d found l i t e r a r y expression i n the works of Novalis and Ludwig Tieck. In H e i n r i c h von Ofterdingen ( 1 7 9 9 ) , Novalis describes a search f o r a transcendental world i n the f i g u r e of Heinrich, whose dreams and conversations with the poet Klingsohr point at a t o t a l l y p o etic and i n t u i t i v e perception of the universe. H e i n r i c h dreams of a union with nature and an i d e a l r e a l i t y above and beyond ordinary existence, summed up i n the symbol of the "blue flower". Dream, love, and poetry are a l l means by which he en-compasses i d e a l r e a l i t y . For Heinrich, the search i s a success. Yet even Novalis knew the dangers of imagination. For example, i n a l e t t e r to Caroline von Schlegel i n 1 7 9 9 , he stated: I know how imagination i s most a t t r a c t e d by what i s most immoral, most animal, but I also know how l i k e a dream a l l imagination i s , how i t loves night, meaninglessness, and ? ? s o l i t u d e . In the novel William L o v e l l ( 1 7 9 3 , completed 1 7 9 6 ) , Ludwig Tieck describes a hero whose imaginative state of mind leads him to chaotic excesses. He seduces s e v e r a l women f o r sport, gambles h e a v i l y , and cannot decide whether l i f e beyond i s an experience of r e a l i t y or merely a figment of the imagination. He i s a man motivated by f e e l i n g , yet h i s e c s t a t i c c a p a b i l i t y narrows h i s moral c a p a c i t i e s . In the novel, Tieck u t i l i z e s dreams, deception, -XVII-di s g u i s e s , mazes and f a t e f u l objects to question r e a l i t y s e r i o u s l y and to r e v e a l i t as a complex l a y e r of appearances, l o v e l l ' s f r i e n d Balder points out that the experiences of the imagination are always subject to a doubting reason and as a consequence: No one has ever succeeded i n e s t a b l i s h i n g a concrete t r u t h about e t e r n i t y , God, and the meaning of the world; we wander l o s t through a great p r i s o n , we whimper f o r freedom and cry f o r da y l i g h t , our hand knocks on a hundred i r o n doors, but they're a l l locked and a hollow ? , echo answers us. In The Rune Mountain (1802), Tieck describes a man who enters a landscape of mountains and f o r e s t s , a realm that symbolizes Romantic r e a l i t y beyond the average grasp. Nature, which was f o r Novalis a beneficent, l i v i n g organism, i s f o r Tieck a h o r r i f i c r e a l i t y . His hero C h r i s t i a n meets nature p e r s o n i f i e d as a black-haired temptress and he abandons h i s normal prosaic existence to follow her. To h i s wife and c h i l d r e n , the temptress appears as an ugly crone - transcendental r e a l i t y appears e v i l and d e s t r u c t i v e . In abandoning himself to nature, i t seems that the hero i s destroying himself. For Tieck, the Romantic f e e l i n g f o r nature l e d more often to d i s s o l u t i o n and t e r r o r than to inner wholeness and joy. The Nightwatches, l i k e the work of C a r l y l e , de Vigny, and some of Tieck's w r i t i n g s , elucidate the negative a t t i t u d e toward existence, an a t t i t u d e that l i v e d i n -XVIII-conjunction with Romanticism and often sought to d i s c r e d i t the Romantic i d e a l s . For Bonaventura, the quest f o r an embodied i d e a l i s a f a i l u r e . Neither love, nor imagination, - nor r e l i g i o n , nor poetry a i d him, and neither Fichtean nor Schellingean philosophy provide him with a key to h i s s e l f . He experiences Nothingness as he faces the universe. His dreams bring him t e r r o r instead of a b e a t i f i c v i s i o n . In h i s youth, he i s plagued by Romantic " Z e r r i s s e n h e i t " , the i n a b i l i t y to combine the i d e a l and the r e a l - he i s a poet, but h i s i d e a l s are not accepted by h i s soci e t y . In two nightwatches (X and XI), he t e l l s the story of a b l i n d youth who i s cured by a doctor and sees the sun and the l i v i n g universe f o r the f i r s t time. But i n the world of . r e a l i t y , he loses the woman he loves because she i s fated to become a nun i f he ever regained h i s s i g h t . Their continued r e l a t i o n s h i p leads to her becoming pregnant, and she i s buried a l i v e by her convent s i s t e r s . The Romantic v i s i o n leads to sorrow and death. S i g n i f i c a n t l y , the nightwatchman has studied Jakob Boehme and Hans Sachs, p o i n t i n g out that both poets were also competent shoemakers (IV). Moreover, he has learned the Romantic language of nature as he l i s t e n s to flowers and f l i e s i n order to de-cipher t h e i r language, but h i s f e l l o w workers at the shoe-making shop laugh at him. Unlike Boehme and Sachs, he cannot f u n c t i o n both i n the i d e a l world of poetry and the - X I X -prosaic world of shoemaking. In the f i r s t nightwatch, he warns h i s a l t e r ego, a poet i n an a t t i c , to take up another, more prosaic trade. The poet, however, pursues h i s c a l l i n g , and f i n a l l y commits sui c i d e because h i s work remains unaccepted; he represents the end to which the watchman himself would have come had he not given up poetry. 3?or Bonaventura, poetry i s thus impossible - contrary to Romantic f a i t h i n the permament and r e a l value of poetry i n the existence of man. Bonaventura also expresses the contrast between the i d e a l and the r e a l i n h i s use of Romantic poetic symbol. Novalis, f o r example, stresses i n Hymns to the Night (1797) that the night i s a b e a t i f i c time, s u i t a b l e f o r i n t r o -spection, and describes a joyous nocturnal v i s i o n , dropping a l l s p a t i a l and temporal b a r r i e r s at the grave of h i s beloved Sophie. But i n The Nightwatches, t h i s night becomes a dark hour during which the delusions of mankind are unmasked. During the night, a judge signs execution orders (p. 18), a nun i s buried a l i v e (p. 109), and the D e v i l plays godfather (p. 164); and f i n a l l y , the watchman i s reduced to s t a r i n g i n t o a darkness beside which "nothing else i s v i s i b l e i n heaven or earth" (p. 145). In r e a c t i o n to Romantic i d e a l s that a f f i r m existence, Bonaventura negates l i f e , and he employs the Romantic language and i t s metaphors and symbols not to agree with t h e i r predominantly p o s i t i v e view of-the world, but to -XX-prove these views f a l s e . In the words of Michael Novak: The person gripped by the experience of Nothingness sees nearly everything i n 'reverse image'. What others c a l l c e r t a i n , he sees as pretend; what other persons c a l l pragmatic or e f f e c t i v e , he sees as a most i r o n i c a l delusion. There i s no r e a l world out there, he says. Within human beings and outside of them, there i s only a great darkness...". The watchman attacks love i n various ways. The idea of love as an entrance i n t o a meaningful world beyond ordinary r e a l i t y i s negated by h i s own personal experiences -h i s f i r s t love a f f a i r takes place i n a madhouse, and he c r i e s not so much over the death of h i s beloved as over t h e i r f a i l u r e to f i n d t h e i r selves i n the love a f f a i r , and he has a v i s i o n of Nothingness while h i s c h i l d i s being born. He weeps a second tear over the c o n f i s c a t i o n of a puppet; h i s truncated capacity f o r love has been t r a n s f e r r e d to a l i f e l e s s marionette, to a wooden v e h i c l e f o r s a t i r e . In the f o u r t h and f i f t h nightwatches, he t e l l s the same story of love and murder twice: the second story u t i l i z e s a Southern s e t t i n g popular i n Romantic l i t e r a t u r e , and seeks to provide some psy c h o l o g i c a l d e t a i l about Don Juan's murderous motives. More important, however, the nightwatch-man explains i n the previous nightwatch that Don Juan's crimes are d i r e c t l y a t t r i b u t a b l e to God who has muddled the r o l e s of l i f e and has assigned the wrong parts to the players. In a just universe, Don Juan should have married Ines, but i t i s Don Ponce who possesses her. The r e a l i t y -XXI-presented i n the f i f t h nightwatch, i n a Romantic vein, i s stripped of i t s i l l u s i o n and deception i n the previous watch - emotion, meaning, and the concept of fr e e w i l l are denied. The story t o l d i n IV i s truer than the same story t o l d i n V, and i t i s t h i s kind of t r u t h which pervades the e n t i r e Nightwatches. Bonaventura's approach to nature i s d i r e c t l y opposed to the ideas expressed "by Novalis i n Germany and by Words-worth i n England. He sees nature not as a r e f l e c t i o n of a l i v i n g u n i v e r s a l mind, but as a cold and p e t r i f i e d state r e f l e c t i n g Nothingness and death. While pantheism, the prevalent r e l i g i o u s philosophy of the Romantics, i d e n t i f i e d God with the p h y s i c a l universe, and saw no other God i n i t than the sum t o t a l of matter, law and energy that i t contains, Bonaventura considers man separated from creation; i n XIII, the watchman indulges i n a dithyramb about spring -here i s nature, calm i n i t s grandeur, and here i s man, i l l a t ease because nature has not completed him i n c r e a t i o n , but has l e f t him unfinished and undefined. The continuum of nature breaks o f f at the point where man enters the p i c t u r e . In the p a n t h e i s t i c sense, the heart of nature i s God, but the watchman i s separated from God : nature i s empty, "a dreadful birth-machine which gave b i r t h to i t s e l f and to everything else (and) has no heart of i t s own" (p. 171). Throughout The Nightwatches t nature i s l i f e l e s s . In -XXII-the f i r s t nightwatch, the watchman wanders through the town which seems to have been transformed i n t o l i f e l e s s stone. The characters encountered on h i s n i g h t l y rounds are often surrounded by l i f e l e s s statues, s i g n i f y i n g p e t r i f a c t i o n . A dying a t h e i s t ( I ) , a judge (III) and a frozen beggar (X) are a l l described i n terms of coldness and r i g i d i t y , and these motifs of p e t r i f a c t i o n applied to the l i v i n g , to nature, and to puppets (V) s t r e s s the l i f e l e s s n e s s and delusion of l i v i n g organisms i n the world as Bonaventura constructs i t . Bonaventura 1s view of r e l i g i o n too i s c y n i c a l and opposed to the views of Schleiermacher and Novalis, the two c h i e f Romantic exponents of r e l i g i o n i n Germany. The watchman does not believe i n a beneficent God, and p r i e s t s l i t e r a l l y play the r o l e of d e v i l s ( I I ) . The only person to die with a smile on h i s face i s an avowed a t h e i s t whose smile, however, i s l a t e r negated by Bonaventura: l i f e a f t e r death i s so meaningless and empty that even God, p i c t u r e d as the inmate of an asylum, f i n d s e t e r n i t y tedious (IX). Nor does the watchman share the Romantic love of music best expressed by Wackenroder i n Outpourings of an a r t - l o v i n g F r i a r (1797) i n which the character Joseph Berglinger reacts to music as follows: I t seemed to him as i f h i s soul were spreading -XXIII-great wings, as i f he were l i f t e d o f f an a r i d moor, as i f the clouded sky were disappearing i n f r o n t of h i s mortal eyes, and as i f he were 2 c f l o a t i n g toward the c l e a r heavens. Music, l i k e poetry, was f o r the Romantics another method of reaching a transcendental i d e a l . In The Nightwatches, however, music consists of storms and thunder, dirges, and accompaniments to a dance of death (X). The watchman describes himself as an instrument tuned d i s c o r d a n t l y (p. 107), and i n IV and VIII discusses how Mozart's music i s played badly by incompetent musicians. S i g n i f i c a n t dissonances of l i f e are implied by these a l l u s i o n s . In h i s attack on Romantic i d e a l s , Bonaventura r e s o r t s to irony and s a t i r e to make h i s point that these i d e a l s are not i n accordance with h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of r e a l i t y . Many of the i r o n i e s i n the novel deal with death and i l l u s i o n . The watchman writes a f u n e r a l speech to celebrate the b i r t h of a c h i l d , p o i n t i n g out that man begins to die as soon as he i s born (pp. 6 4 - 6 5 ) . In IV, he t e l l s the story of Don Juan who seeks death, but i s fated to remain immortal. In X, he describes a nun who affirmed l i f e and gave b i r t h to a c h i l d and i s consequently buried a l i v e by her convent s i s t e r s - i t i s i r o n i c that those who a f f i r m existence must die, while those who seek o b l i v i o n must stay a l i v e . Other i r o n i e s l i e i n the watchman's own mis-conceptions: he acts as a prophet who r a i l s against -XXIV-mankind's moral and metaphysical delusions, yet he himself i s fooled constantly. For example, he attempts to t a l k a youth out of committing s u i c i d e (XII) only to l e a r n that the youth i s a c t u a l l y an actor studying a r o l e f o r a play. F i n a l l y , he admits only uncertainty, and a great void, as even the corpse of h i s f a t h e r , which at f i r s t he thinks has conquered t r a n s i t o r i n e s s and death, f a l l s i n t o dust beneath h i s probing hands. Throughout the novel, the i r o n i e s point at Nothingness rather than a meaningful world. In the t h i r d nightwatch, two lovers mistake the watchman f o r a statue of St. C r i s p i n , and as he moves h i s cloak s l i g h t l y to destroy t h e i r i l l u s i o n , they merely i n s i s t that the statue's foundation has caved i n and that i t has l o s t balance. Although the lovers are d e s c r i b i n g a statue, we know, as we proceed through the book, that t h e i r statement describes the watchman himself - he has i n f a c t l o s t h i s inner foundation, and h i s view of the world i s out of balance. Romantic s a t i r e tended to aim at the l i t e r a r y and s o c i a l conditions of the time. Ludwig Tieck wielded t h i s weapon h a b i t u a l l y , mocking, f o r example, the pedantic P h i l i s t i n e of the eighteenth century, to whom u t i l i t y was the sum t o t a l of a l l a c t i v i t y : i n The Memorable Chronicle  of the G-othamites (1796), the populace conceives of poetry merely as a means of improving e r r i n g humanity; criminals -XXV-are not executed - one reads them odes or shows them a dramatic scene i n an infirmary. Moreover, some wr i t e r s s a t i r i z e d the Romantics; August von Platen, i n h i s play The F a t e f u l Fork (1826), attacked the drama of destiny, conjuring up an amusing f a b r i c a t i o n hinging upon f a t e . A l l the f a t e f u l and accursed knives and daggers which f i g u r e i n the fate-dramas are symbolized by a dreadful fork which leads an e n t i r e family to d e s t r u c t i o n . Bonaventura 1s s a t i r e i s d i r e c t e d equally at P h i l i s t i n e s and Romantics. But more important, an abyss yawns beneath h i s s a t i r e ; the s a t i r e constantly turns upon i t s e l f . The  Nightwatches may be divided i n t o f i v e sections, each be-ginning with a s a t i r e whose comedy leads to an i n c r e a s i n g l y b i t t e r denunciation of the world. In the second nightwatch, the watchman s a t i r i z e s r e l i g i o n with h i s story of three p r i e s t s disguised as d e v i l s who endeavour to kidnap the dead body of an a t h e i s t . In I I I , he f o i l s a p a i r of adulterers and d e l i v e r s them i r o n i c a l l y i n t o the hands of a stern husband. In VI, however, i t becomes c e r t a i n that neither r e l i g i o n nor love have a meaning - Don Juan's t a l e reveals a heaven whose God i s a fumbling theatre d i r e c t o r who w i l l not l e t the hero die despite h i s prayers and who has assigned the wrong persons to play the r o l e of l o v e r s . In I I , the watchman also s a t i r i z e s poetry, r e p l a c i n g -XXVI-i t with a trumpet which he blows to c a l l out the hour and to announce a f a l s e Judgement Day i n VI. Then he reaches i n t o h i s own past and describes how h i s s a t i r i c a l poems landed him f i r s t i n p r i s o n and then i n the madhouse. In VIII, he recounts the s u i c i d e of the town poet, who hangs himself upon r e c e i p t of h i s r e j e c t e d tragedy; poetry i s a meaningless undertaking i n t h i s world. Again the watchman returns to s a t i r e , d e s c r i b i n g the inmates of a madhouse i n the n i n t h nightwatch. Subsequently, the s a t i r e y i e l d s to three v i g n e t t e s : a beggar f r e e z i n g to death, the wedding of a youth and at the same time the f u n e r a l of h i s previous beloved, and a misanthropic porter who d i r e c t s the watchman to the b u r i a l of a nun. In XI, he t e l l s part of the story of the nun's lover and shows how the Romantic i d e a l i s negated i n the world of r e a l i t y . A f o u r t h time he turns to s a t i r e , d e s c r i b i n g a character who prides himself on owning the discarded clothes of great men to assume importance i n h i s society... (XII). This i s followed by a v i s i t to an a r t museum, i n which the statues of a n t i q u i t y seem to come a l i v e i n a b i t t e r phantasy. In XIV, he describes h i s own love a f f a i r i n the madhouse where he learns that the s e l f i s nothing and where he has a dream about Nothingness. He reaches again i n t o the past and describes h i s career as a puppet d i r e c t o r , and closes the work with a scene i n -XXVII-the cemetery where he watches h i s father d i s s o l v e i n t o dust. Each s e c t i o n begins with s a t i r e that mocks the im-p e r f e c t i o n of man's world - adultery, bad poetry, Romantic love, r a t i o n a l i s m and sanity, and immortality are a l l attacked with equal r e l i s h . But instead of p o i n t i n g a t new i d e a l s to replace those which the s a t i r e has mocked as being i n s u f f i c i e n t , each s e c t i o n ends i n a catastrophe -Don Juan's t a l e of love and crime, the su i c i d e of the poet, the young man whose beloved i s buried, the end of the watchman's happiness i n the madhouse, and the f i n a l n i h i l i s t i c outburst i n the cemetery. In each section, the s a t i r e becomes l e s s occasional, the comedy more hollow - even s a t i r e i s meaningless and without use i n a world that has no cosmic meaning or value. Bonaventura's s a t i r i c method may be summed with the l a s t nightwatch i n which the watchman parodies the musings of the E n g l i s h grave-yard school of poets, notably Young's Night Thoughts ( 1 7 4 2 ) and the t h i r d s e c t i o n of Novalis' Hymns to the Night ( 1 7 9 7 ) i n order to conclude: And the echo i n the charnel house c r i e s out f o r the l a s t time: NOTHING! . (p. 173) The very structure of the book r e f l e c t s Bonaventura's c o n v i c t i o n that the universe i s chaos. The work i s a 27 f i c t i o n a l biography t o l d out of chronological order. -XXVIII-Por example, the watchman was conceived by a gypsy woman and an alchemist (XVI); the gypsy buried the boy i n a casket and he was found by a shoemaker (IV); the watchman grew up as a shoemaker and poet, i s thrown in t o a madhouse (VII) and has a love a f f a i r there (XIV). The tenth watch takes place on a winter night, while the f i r s t sentence of XIII places the a c t i o n at the v e r n a l equinox. In I I I , he blows h i s horn to intervene i n an adultery, but i n VI, which c h r o n o l o g i c a l l y precedes I I I , he r e l a t e s how he has l o s t the r i g h t to blow h i s horn. Nightwatch V, the watchman t e l l s us, i s a c t u a l l y w r i t t e n during the day. I t i s only i n the l i g h t of the thematic structure with i t s f i v e sections that the work makes sense, and the confusion of time elements serves to r e i n f o r c e Bonaventura's view of man's precarious, uncertain existence. The s t y l i s t i c elements of The Nightwatches show a s i m i l a r lack of un i t y . Only the f i r s t two nightwatches t e l l a u n i f i e d story. The t h i r d watch begins with a summary of the f i r s t two. The fo u r t h watch mixes biography with an account of a puppet play. The tenth watch describes a beggar f r e e z i n g to death, moves on to a poetic account of love and the love f o r love (a red and a white b r i d e ) , and ends with the death of the nun. . The fourteenth watch mixes poems about the moon and love with an exchange of l e t t e r s between two madhouse inmates. In i t s s t r u c t u r a l and s t y l i s t i c approach, the novel i s quite modern. • I t i s , f o r example, -XXIX-reminiscent of William Burroughs' Naked Lunch (1959) i n which the author reorganizes h i s own w r i t i n g , s l i c i n g pages and s h u f f l i n g them so that events appear i n random order; sometimes i t i s the v/ork of other w r i t e r s or paragraphs from newspapers which he cuts or f o l d s i n . Like Bonaventura, Burroughs detaches the reader from a steady forward p l o t of n a r r a t i v e , and o f f e r s fragments of i n c i d e n t s that b l u r past and present, f a c t and dream. The watchman informs us that l i f e i s a stage and that men are puppets playing confused r o l e s . The motif of the marionette underlines the meaninglessness of l i f e . In IV, the wooden puppets representing Don Juan and h i s brother are c o n t r o l l e d by wires; they have no v o l i t i o n of t h e i r own, and the place of fate i s taken by a buffoon whose blundering prevents Don Juan from pursuing h i s love - he t r i e s to follow her and runs in t o the clown instead. In XV, the watchman says of a puppet's head that i t i s *!the most mechanical thing i n the world and doesn't contain one s i n g l e thought" (p. 1 5 5 ) . In The Nightwatches. the use of the puppet motif r e s t s : . . . i n the a n t i t h e s i s of the uncanny mechanical co n t r o l of courageous w i l l and man's s p i r i t s t r i v i n g toward the i n f i n i t e , an a n t i t h e s i s which makes a l l human actions and deeds and a l l moral ? f i endeavours seem absurd. Throughout The Nightwatches. the watchman examines r e a l i t y and s t r i p s away l a y e r a f t e r l a y e r , but reaches only "nothing" instead of t r u t h , and as he uncovers a l l appearances, -XXX-a l l the f a l s e manifestations of the s e l f , a l l the masks, he i s l e f t with a d e r e l i c t s e l f and a hatred f o r the world. With metaphors of masks and i l l u s i o n , he t r i e s to convince us that nothing can he known with c e r t a i n t y . At f i r s t , the masks seem harmless: the a t h e i s t ' s features i n the f i r s t nightwatch are r i g i d because he i s dead. In I I , the p r i e s t s wear d e v i l s ' masks. By the time we reach the tenth watch, the motif of the masks, which at f i r s t seems a mere s t y l i s t i c feature and a s a t i r e , takes on a b i t t e r meta-p h y s i c a l meaning - searching f o r the s e l f , the watchman i s unable to f i n d anything except a s e r i e s of masks which include h i s f e e l i n g s of joy, sorrow, and hatred. Existence i t s e l f i s a mask, because "everything i s r o l e , the r o l e i t s e l f as w e l l as the player i n s i d e i t " (p. 143). We can f i n d observations on r o l e s and masks akin to Bonaventura's e s p e c i a l l y i n the e a r l y twentieth century. P i r a n d e l l o i n 1917 dramatized the c o n t r a d i c t i o n between appearance and r e a l i t y that makes the p u r s u i t of absolute knowledge chimerical. In Right You Are ( I f You Think So), the character Laudin proclaims: You are condemned to the 'wonderful' torment of having before your very eyes, suddenly close to you, on the one hand t h i s world of fantasy and on the other, r e a l i t y . . . a n d of not being able to 2Q d i s t i n g u i s h one from the other. Personal i d e n t i t y i s seen as the product of the r o l e s and s i t u a t i o n s which circumstance forces upon us. We a l l , - X X X I -suggests P i r a n d e l l o i n h i s c o l l e c t e d plays Naked Masks (1914), are stereotyped characters with r o l e s prescribed by long t r a d i t i o n , a statement which Bonaventura wouid have applauded since one of h i s characters comes to the same conclusion: ...You must know l i v e been pl a y i n g t h i s r o l e f o r centuries, and.that I'm one of the I t a l i a n stock characters that never leave the theatre, (p. In Bonaventura's world, where everything i s merely appearance, any sort of knowledge i s an i l l u s i o n . Yet man's conduct i s based on what he knows; i t i s therefore no wonder that the watchman himself i s amoral. In the tenth nightwatch, he watches a beggar freeze to death and does nothing to intervene, having noted i n IV that "when the drama of l i f e writes i t s e l f , one should not i n t e r f e r e even with i t s catastrophe" (p. 31). In VI, the watchman's Judgement Day prank leads to the s u i c i d e of a young man, a d i r e c t r e s u l t of the watchman's grim prophecy. Although i n I I I he reveals the adulterous p a i r to the husband, i n the course of the novel we are made aware that f o r him, j u s t i c e has no meaning, since he denies free w i l l (IV) and since morality and r e l i g i o n have no base i f God i s i n -competent and does not even know his own mind (IX). In summary of The Nightwatches, i t i s c l e a r that the watchman's experiences have led only to d i s i l l u s i o n , and that throughout the story he takes pains to contradict -XXXII-the conceit of Romantic b e l i e f s , o p t i m i s t i c f a i t h i n the mind's power to f i n d t r u t h , and the r e a l i t y of the mind's constructs. He discovers that abandonment of the s e l f leads not to harmony and communion with the i n f i n i t e , but to t e r r o r . For the watchman, l i f e i s a delusion, and knowledge, whether i n the form of i n t e l l e c t or imagination, i s a mask thrown over a core of meaninglessness. L i f e i s not only t r a n s i t o r y , beginning and ending i n death, i t i s so meaningless that an a f t e r l i f e would be h o r r i b l e . In the midst of a botched universe, over which the D e v i l presides, cowers the s e l f , consuming i t s e l f to no purpose, able to r e t a i n i t s i n t e g r i t y only by c a l l i n g a t t e n t i o n constantly to the true c o n d i t i o n of r e a l i t y . Although the watchman uses the term "nothing" frequently, he does not use the word " n i h i l i s t " to describe himself. I t remained f o r Turgenev to invent the s e l f - s t y l e d n i h i l i s t , the character Barazov i n Fathers and Sons (1861). Use of the word spread r a p i d l y throughout Europe, l o s i n g most of i t s a n a r c h i s t i c and r e v o l u t i o n a r y f l a v o u r , and implying instead the doctrine that moral norms or standards cannot be j u s t i f i e d by r a t i o n a l argument, and the concept of despair over the emptiness and t r i v i a l i t y of human existence. The Nightwatches embraced a l l three connotations i n 1804. Moreover, n i h i l i s m was generally equated with atheism, since both views denied any moral norms, and there -XXXIII-are many l i t e r a r y types of the n i h i l i s t - a t h e i s t , as f o r example Stepan Trofimovitch who states, i n Dostoevsky's The Possessed (1871), that " l i f e i s pain, l i f e i s t e r r o r , and man i s u n h a p p y . t h e r e i s no freedom beyond; that i s a l l , and there i s nothing beyond".^ 0 Nietzsche was the f i r s t philosopher to make extensive use of the term " n i h i l i s m " , recognizing that as a matter of h i s t o r i c a l f a c t , atheism was ushering i n the age of n i h i l i s m . "God i s dead! God remains dead! And we have k i l l e d him", he proclaimed i n 1882. Six years l a t e r , he explained: The b e l i e f i n the absolute immorality of nature, i n aim- and meaninglessness, i s the p s y c h o l o g i c a l l y necessary e f f e c t once the b e l i e f i n God and ^ ? an e s s e n t i a l l y moral order becomes untenable. C l e a r l y , the watchman i s a n i h i l i s t i n the f u l l e s t sense of the word, and Nietzsche has summarized a condition which we have seen already expressed during the European Romantic Movement. The Nightwatches elucidate the s h i f t from a p o s i t i v e to a negative view of heaven and earth. " N i h i l i s m i s an i d e o l o g i c a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n imposed on the experience of nothingness", and Bonaventura's story q u a l i f i e s as an i n t r o d u c t i o n to a large amount of n i h i l i s t i c l i t e r a t u r e since 1804. However, except f o r h i s pose of laughter and anger, the watchman does not elaborate upon the s p i r i t u a l behaviour and the psychol o g i c a l symptoms of the n i h i l i s t . The -XXXIV-q u a l i t i e s of ennui, anxiety, and despair, and more r e f i n e d enquiries i n t o masks and metaphors of i l l u s i o n , were pursued by l a t e r w r i t e r s . Bonaventura presents the watch-man's lack of morality with l i t t l e d e t a i l , f o r example, and i t remained f o r Dostoevsky to explore the e t h i c a l p o s i t i o n of the n i h i l i s t ; i n Crime and Punishment (1880), the student Raskolnikov commits murder to t e s t the power of h i s amorality, on the assumption that a man of genius and personal moral convictions can j u s t i f y to himself any act, i n c l u d i n g murder. And with Notes from the Underground (1864), a confession i n the Romantic ve i n , the character of the n i h i l i s t i s f u l l y f i x e d i n Dostoevsky's d e p i c t i o n of an a l i e n a t e d and r e j e c t e d man who i s bent on revenge against s o c i e t y , who has given up a l l search f o r meaning, and who i n h i s own words might as w e l l be a "piano-key", as f a r as h i s human s i g n i f i c a n c e i s concerned. In Germany, Btlchner wrote dramas that p e r f e c t l y expressed the watchman's condition some t h i r t y years a f t e r 1804, using s i m i l a r motifs of puppet theatre and masks of the s e l f , as f o r example the d i s s o l u t i o n of the s e l f i n V a l e r i a ' s mask scene i n Leonce and Lena (1836), and s t a t i n g i n The Death of Panton (1835) that "the world i s chaos. 34 Nothingness i s the God about to be born". ^ A p a r t i c u l a r l y modern feature of The Nightwatches i s i t s -XXXV-treatment of drama. Bonaventura employs the terms "tragi-comedy" and " f a r c e " (p. 33) to point out that the c l a s s i c concept of tragedy with i t s three u n i t i e s and a defined moral universe has no meaning i n the world as he constructs i t . Two plays are offered i n the novel -the story of Don Juan, performed as puppet theatre (IV), and the poet's r e j e c t e d tragedy Man. In "both plays, the f i g u r e of the f o o l dominates, a c t i n g as an agent who s t r i p s away the masks of existence such as pretensions of the i n t e l l e c t and f e e l i n g s of love and sorrow. In IV, Harlequin explains that i t i s useless to take l i f e s e r i o u s l y , because " i n the l a s t a n a l y s i s l i f e i s a comedy i n which Harlequin alone can play a decent r o l e because he recognizes the play f o r what i t i s : - a f a r c e " (p. 40). In VIII, the poet su b s t i t u t e s the Greek chorus f o r a buffoon, a " t r a g i c clown" - t r a g i c because he l i v e s a senseless existence and i s aware of the f a c t , and a f o o l because he mocks h i s knowledge and thereby expresses h i s freedom. The puppet play i s "sublimely unmotivated...although we stupid creatures love to supply causal explanations f o r everything... 1 1 (p. 41), and the poet's tragedy " w i l l be funny enough to k i l l the audience with laughter no matter how serious the poet intended i t to be" (p. 84). Moreover, the buffoon wants to make sure that i n the poet's tragedy, "man w i l l reach only blindness, and not t r a n s f i g u r a t i o n somewhere -XXXVI-i n a sub-plot" (p. 86). His r o l e i s to turn tragedy i n t o tragi-comedy i n the modern sense. This i s e s s e n t i a l l y the r o l e now a t t r i b u t e d to the modern playwright. F r i e d r i c h Dtirrenmatt, f o r example, explains: The universe f o r me i s chaos. The world (hence the stage which represents the world) i s f o r me something monstrous, a r i d d l e of misfortunes which must be accepted but before which one must not re-c a p i t u l a t e . For him, comedy supposes an unformed world, a world turned upside down and about to f o l d . Tragedy, on the other hand, presupposes g u i l t , despair, v i s i o n and a sense of r e s -p o n s i b i l i t y , but these concepts are absurd i n a world that i s merely appearance and has no value - comedy alone i s a s u i t a b l e dramatic medium, and laughter i s man's only p o s s i b l e response to the r i d d l e of existence. In laughter, man's freedom becomes manifest. Consequently, Dtirrenmatt sees i n the evolution of the t r a g i c hero a trend toward comedy. Analogously, the f o o l becomes more and more of a t r a g i c f i g u r e . The nature of the modern playwright's laughter i s best explained by Samuel Beckett i n h i s novel Watt ( 1 9 5 3 ) , as follo w s : ...only three I think need detain us, I mean the b i t t e r , the hollow and the m i r t h l e s s . They correspond to successive...excoriations of the understanding...the b i t t e r laugh laughs at that which i s not good, i t i s the e t h i c a l laugh. The -XXXVII-hollow laugh laughs at that which i s not true, i t i s the i n t e l l e c t u a l laugh. Not good! Not true! V/ell w e l l . But the mirthless laugh i s the dianoetic laugh, down the snout...It i s the laugh of laughs...the laugh laughing at the , laugh... ^ The modern playwright i n v i t e s the audience to laugh with him at the deluded a n t i c s of h i s characters on the stage, and Bonaventura also employs a l l three forms of t h i s laughter. The h i t t e r and the hollow laugh are i n -herent i n the irony and the s a t i r e that permeat The Night-watches t and the mirthless laugh i s the only response and the only hope l e f t to Bonaventura 1s characters i n a world that i s a v o i d - the watchman advises Don Juan to survive world h i s t o r y u n t i l the l a s t act, and to stand on the l a s t mountain peak and to amuse himself "by w h i s t l i n g and stomping at the whole f a r c e " (p. 33). In the eleventh nightwatch, the watchman discusses the nature of laughter and concludes, "Let me have laughter f o r the r e s t of my l i f e and I s h a l l endure." There are other s i m i l a r i t i e s e s p e c i a l l y between Bonaventura and Beckett. Both employ the f i g u r e of the f o o l , but while Bonaventura draws from the sources of h i s day and uses a Harlequin and a buffoon, Beckett, i n Waiting f o r Godot, models h i s two clowns Vladimir and Estragon on more contemporary sources - the two are vaude-v i l l e characters with unsuitable bowler hats and scavenged clothes. In The Nightwatches, the poet's tragedy seeks to hold l i f e up to a d i s t o r t i n g mirror to r e v e a l " i t s abysses -XXXVIII-i n the furrows and wrinkles on the b e a u t i f u l cheek" (p. 75) and to r e v e a l the void beneath a l l appearances through the use of laughter employed by the buffoon. Beckett's Waiting f o r Godot i s e s s e n t i a l l y s i m i l a r - the play des-cribes a universe devoid of meaning. For Beckett, "the r e a l i t y we see i s just a p r o j e c t i o n of our consciousness. We're h a b i t u a l l y adapting, f a l s i f y i n g , faking evidence i n order to adjust the human organism to the conditions of 37 i t s existence". Vladimir and Estragon experience i n ignorance and pain an existence which they can neither understand nor i d e n t i f y . Nor can they i n r e a l i t y comprehend the form or essence of anything they encounter. Bonaventura's Harlequin plays a r o l e s i m i l a r to that of Lucky i n Waiting f o r Godot. Both perform a dance and u t t e r a speech which points out that God's cr e a t i o n i s a mistake and unfinished. Lucky's speech i s a t i r a d e against science, education, and r e l i g i o n , and the words "f o r reasons unknown" predominate.^ Harlequin's speech seeks to point out that everything i n l i f e i s no more than i l l u s i o n , but he contradicts himself constantly "and a f t e r a long, r i d i c u l o u s discourse f i n d s himself back where he s t a r t e d " (p. 38). Like Bonaventura's characters, Beckett's heroes are stuck i n time, suspended i n e t e r n i t y . A world without time and space have l i t t l e human s i g n i f i c a n c e , and i t i s - X X X I X -a world which Bonaventura constructs with the motifs of statues and of p e t r i f a c t i o n . Both the watchman and Vladimir have been poets, and while the f i r s t i s reduced to s i l e n c e , the second has been reduced to rags. The watchman writes a speech explaining that man dies as soon as he i s born, and Pozzo, i n Waiting f o r Godot, concludes: They give b i r t h a s t r i d e of a grave, the l i g h t gleams an i n s t a n t , then i t ' s night once more. Beckett's play stresses h i s c o n v i c t i o n that " a universe l a c k i n g a meaning, an answer, a gesture of grace 4 0 not to be found i n mind or body, i s worthless", and we have seen that The Nightwatches express a s i m i l a r con-v i c t i o n . However, the watchman s t i l l has h i s laughter. Vladimir and Estragon do not laugh, and we must assume that Beckett expects h i s audience to attempt the mirthless laugh i n response to h i s d e p i c t i o n of existence. Fortunately, both the views of Beckett and Bonaventura are only one aspect of modern thought. Modern exponents of "expanded consciousness" such as T e i l h a r d de Chardin and Alan Watts, f o r example, consider the apprehension of Nothingness an out-moded and misdirected world-view. De Chardin traces the pattern of man's p s y c h i c a l and s p i r i t u a l development and establishes a movement from p r i m i t i v e animal consciousness to reason and imagination, and he envisions an increased consciousness, a process from XL-w i t h i n d i r e c t e d by an indwelling God who took charge of evolution by i n s e r t i n g himself i n t o matter. This evolution should lead man to a f i n a l state of awareness which de Chardin terms "the omega point", which w i l l place man's mind i n the centre of the l i v i n g u n i v e r s e . ^ Alan Watts, i n negating the anxious questioning of the n i h i l i s t s , draws upon Zen Buddhism and Taoism to discuss a form of awareness i n which the mutual i n t e r r e l a t i o n s h i p of a l l things and a l l events becomes a constant sensation i n man's consciousness. For Watts, man has become a being centred i n h i s own ego, whose nature i s u n i v e r s a l rather than i n d i v i d u a l , and has become centred i n clash, c o n f l i c t and d i s c o r d , searching f o r an i s o l a t e d s e l f that does not e x i s t , ignoring the p e r f e c t i o n of h i s organism as a whole. In The Joyous Cosmology (1962), he explains: L i f e i s b a s i c a l l y a gesture, but no one, no thing, i s making i t . . . F o r i t i s n ' t driven by anything; i t just happens f r e e l y of i t s e l f . . . There i s simply no problem of l i f e ; i t i s completely purposeless play - exuberance which i s i t s own end. B a s i c a l l y there i s the gesture. Time, space and m u l t i p l i c i t y are complications of i t . There i s no reason whatever to explain i t , f o r explanations are just another form of complexity, a new manifestation . of l i f e on top of l i f e , of gestures gesturing. d In conclusion, i t i s c l e a r that i n some respects The Nightwatches i s an immature work, the pose of a man angry at the world, incapable of s t r u g g l i n g toward a p o s i t i v e statement about s o c i e t y and the nature of man - X L I -and God. His wit i s often e n t e r t a i n i n g , and h i s s t y l i s t i c devices, i n c l u d i n g the structure and the use of masks and laughter, are sometimes s t a r t l i n g i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p to modern l i t e r a t u r e - but h i s constant process of negation hardly does j u s t i c e to the world. "Writers to whom nothing i s sacred, and who accordingly stop thereat, have no occasion f o r surprise on f i n d i n g , at the end of t h e i r A. 3 operation, that nothing i s a l l they have l e f t " . Such a one-sided i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i s u n s a t i s f a c t o r y , and The  Nightwatches extends t h i s operation of negation to i t s l o g i c a l and unhappy conclusion: " I t ' s nobler to hate the world than to love i t " (p. 165). The s p e c i f i c modernity of the novel r e s t s i n i t s use of modern thought and to some extent i n i t s s t y l e . Turning away from the objective world and p l a c i n g emphasis l a r g e l y on the mind with i t s dangerous dichotomy of i n t e l l e c t and imagination, Bonaventura was caught i n i l l u s i o n s of h i s own making which le d just as e a s i l y to Nothingness as to meaning. The l o s s of contact with f i n i t e r e a l i t y and concomitantly, with the i n t e g r i t y of the s e l f , became a sh a t t e r i n g and t e r r i f y i n g experience. As he sought to separate the A l l from h i s consciousness, he graduated toward an examination of the processes with which he perceived the world. The l o s s of r e l i g i o n was one of the p r i c e s he paid. Moreover, he was caught i n an endless - X L I IE -game - he could construct anything he pleased, and yet he could not point at a l i v i n g t r u t h . Beckett's tramps, when introduced on the stage, became an i n t e r n a t i o n a l sensation. The universe they portray, and man's condition t h e r e i n , was explored some hundred and seventy years ago by the watchman as he made h i s n i g h t l y rounds. -XLIII-FOOTNOTES The Nightwatches went at f i r s t unnoticed except by E.T.A. Hoffmann, who a t t r i b u t e d authorship to the philosopher S c h e l l i n g . A f t e r a r e p r i n t e d e d i t i o n i n 1877, the mystery of the author became a f o c a l point of s c h o l a r l y c r i t i c i s m . E.T.A Hoffmann was considered a l i k e l y candidate (R.M. Meyer, "Nachtwachen von Bonaventura", i n Euphorion, X, 1903). In 1909, F. Schultz, i n h i s Der Yerfasser der N.v.B.: Untersuchungen zur deutschen  Romantik, destroyed previous authorship arguments and advocated E.G. Wetzel (1779-1819) by s e t t i n g up p a r a l l e l s between The Nightwatches and Wetzel's other works. In 1912, E. Frank ("Clemens Brentano, Nachtwachen von Bonaventura", GRM, IV) used p h i l o l o g i c a l techniques s i m i l a r to those of Schultz and a t t r i b u t e d authorship to Clemens Brentano, and i n 1921, K a r l Hofmann, i n h i s Prague d i s s e r t a t i o n Zur Yerfasserfrage der Nachtwachen, also ascribed the work to Brentano, d i s c u s s i n g s t y l i s t i c p a r a l l e l s between the two w r i t e r s to plead h i s cause. However, the authorship of The Nightwatches w i l l remain a mystery unless some d i r e c t evidence i s found. More recent scholars avoid the question of the author and instead deal with the content of the novel. Die Nachtwachen des Bonaventura (Munich, I960), p. 146* ( A l l subsequent page references i n parenthesis w i l l r e f e r to t h i s t r a n s l a t i o n .) Morse Peckham, i n h i s "Toward a Theory of Romanticism", PMLA, LXVI, March 1951, points out that since Descartes' times, the universe was seen as a p e r f e c t l y running machine. God gave i t laws, set i t i n motion, and r e t i r e d from i t . In t h i s mechanism, a l l possib l e events and r e a l i t i e s were r e a l i z e d from the very beginning, leaving no room f o r adjustment or change. Immanuel Kant, C r i t i q u e of Pure Reason, t r a n s l . J.M.D. Meiklejohn (London, 1879), p. 33. -XLIV-^ F.W.J, von S c h e l l i n g , Werke, ed. Manfred SchrOter (Munich, 1927), I, p. 706. (my t r a n s l a t i o n ) ^ J.G. von Herder, "Knowledge and Sentiment of the Soul", Werke (Carlsruhe, 1820), VIII, p. 19. (my trans-l a t i o n ) 7 A.W. Schlegel and F. Schlegel, ed. Atheneum (Darmstadt, I960), I I I , p. 204. (my t r a n s l a t i o n ) g Joseph von Eichendorff, "Halle und Heidelberg", Gesammelte Werke ( B i e l e f e l d , 1959), I I , p. 573. (my translation") 9 c f . Ernst C a s s i r e r . Rousseau, Kant, Goethe; Two  Essays (Princeton, 1947), t r a n s l . James Gutmann et a l . ± Q "A V i s i o n of the Last Judgement", Poetry and Prose of William Blake, ed. Geoffrey Keynes, 4th. ed. TTondon, 1939), I, p. 639. ± L Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia L i t e r a r i a . ed. J . Shawcross (Oxford, 1907), I, p. 202. 12 Morse Peckham, PMLA, p. 14. See also Arthur 0. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being (New York, I960) with i t s three c r i t e r i a of Romanticism: organicism, dynamicism, and d i v e r s i t a r i a n i s m . 1 3 I b i d , p. 20. Etienne P i v e r t de Senancour, Obermann (London, 1909), p. 5» ( t r a n s l a t o r anonymous) 15 ' A l f r e d de Musset, A Modern Man's Confession, t r a n s l . G.F. Monkshood (London,""n.d. ), pT 16. 16 Charles Baudelaire, The Flowers of E v i l and other  Poems, t r a n s l . Francis Duke (1961), p. 2o3 (ATT quotations are from t h i s edition,) 17 Lord Byron, "Manfred, A Dramatic Poem", Works (London, 1866), V, p. 9. 18 Aleksandr Pushkin, Eugene Onegin, t r a n s l . Vladimir Nabokov (New York, 1964), I, p. 114. 19 M i h a i l Lermontov, A Hero of our Time, t r a n s l . Vladimir Nabokov (New York, 19587, pp. 18"8-89. -XLV-20 Thomas C a r l y l e , Sartor Resartus: The L i f e and  Opinions of Herr•Teufelsdrockh, ed. C.F. Harrold (New York, 1 9 3 7 7 , p. 149. 2 1 Robert Browning, "The Ring and the Book", P o e t i c a l  Works (London, 1896), I I , p. 291. 22 Novalis ( F r i e d r i c h von Hardenberg), Gesammelte Werke, ed. C. Z e e l i g (Zurich, 1954), V, p. 274. (my t r a n s l a t i o n ) ' Ludwig Tieck, "William L o v e l l " , S c h r i f t e n ( B e r l i n , 1828), VI, p. 148, (my t r a n s l a t i o n ) -24 Michael Novak, The Experience of Nothingness (New York, 1970), p. 13. 25 Wilhelm H e i n r i c h Wackenroder, "Herzensergiessungen eines kunstliebenden Klosterbruders", Werke und B r i e f e (Jena, 1910), I, p. 130. (my t r a n s l a t i o n ) J e f f r e y L. Sammons, Die Nachtwachen von Bonaventura: i A S t r u c t u r a l I n t e r p r e t a t i o n (The Hague, 1965), pp. 33-57. 27 J.L. Sammons places the chronology as follows: XVI, IV, VII, IX, XIV, XV, VI, I, I I , I I I , (IV), V, VIII, X, XI, XII, XIII, (XVI). 2 8 Eleonore Rapp, Die Marionette i n der Deutschen Dichtung  vom Sturm und Drang b i s zur Romantik ( L e i p z i g , 1924), p. 38^ (my t r a n s l a t i o n ) 2 9 L u i g i P i r a n d e l l o , Right You A r e ( I f You Think So). t r a n s l . Frederick May (Middlesex, 1969), p. 196, ( I t a l i c s are mine,) ^ Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Possessed, t r a n s l . Constance Garnett (New York, 1916), p. 105. ^ F r i e d r i c h Nietzsche, The J o y f u l Wisdom, t r a n s l . Thomas Common (New York, 1964), p. 16B~^  ^ 2 F r i e d r i c h Nietzsche, The W i l l to Power, t r a n s l . W. Kaufmann and K.J. Hollingdale (New York, 1967), p. 35. The Experience of Nothingness, p. 16. 34 Georg Biichner, Gesammelte Werke (Munich, 1964), p. 74* (my t r a n s l a t i o n ) - X L Y I -35 Friedrich. Dtirrenmatt, Problems of the Theatre, t r a n s l . Gerhard Nellhaus (New York, 1958), p. 32. 5 6 Samuel Beckett, Watt (New York, 1953), p. 48. 37 Ronald Hayman, Samuel Beckett (London, 1969), p. 17. TO Samuel Beckett, Waiting f o r Godot (New York, 1953), p. 28. 3 9 I b i d , p. 57. 40 J. Jacobsen and W.R. Mueller, The Testament of Samuel  Beckett (New York, 1964), p. 24. " 41 T e i l h a r d de Chardin, B u i l d i n g the Earth, t r a n s l . Noel Lindsay (London, 1965), pp. 56-57. ^ 2 Alan Watts, The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures i n the  Chemistry of Consciousness (London, 1962), p. 72. 43 The Encyclopedia of P h i l osophy. ed. Paul Edwards (New York, n.d.j, V, p7"524. -XLVII-LIST OF WORKS CONSULTED Primary Sources Anonymous, Die Nachtwachen des Bonaventura. Munich, I960. Baudelaire, Charles, The Flowers of E v i l and Other Poems, t r a n s l . Francis Duke, U n i v e r s i t y of V i r g i n i a Press, 1961. Beckett, Samuel, Waiting f o r Godot. New York, 1954. , Watt. New York, 1970. Blake, William, Poetry and Prose, ed. Geoffrey Keynes, 4th. ed., London, 1939. Browning, Robert, P o e t i c a l Works. I I , London, 1896. Btlchner, Georg, Gesammelte Werke. Munich, 1964. Byron, George Noel Gordon, Works. V, London, 1866. Burroughs, William, Naked Lunch. New York, 1962. C a r l y l e , Thomas, Sartor Resartus: The L i f e and Opinions of  Herr TeufelsdrOckh, ed. C F . Harrold, New York, 1937. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, Biographia L i t e r a r i a , ed. J . Shawcross, Oxford, 1907. Dostoevsky, Fyodor, Crime and Punishment, t r a n s l . Constance Garnett, New York, 1916. , Notes from the Underground, t r a n s l . A.R. MacAndrew, New York, 1916. -XLVIII-, The Possessed, t r a n s l . Constance Garnett, New York, 1916. Eichendorff, Joseph von, Gesammelte Werke. I I , B i e l e f e l d , 1959. E l i o t , Thomas Stearnes, Selected Poems. London, 1956 Fi c h t e , Johann G o t t l i e b , The Science of Knowledge, t r a n s l . A.E. Kroeger, London7"T8BT: ^" Hemingway, Ernest, The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Short  S t o r i e s •„ New York, 1955. Herder, Johann G o t t f r i e d von, Sammtliche Werke. VIII, Carlsruhe, 1820. """" Kant, Immanuel, C r i t i q u e of Pure Reason, t r a n s l . J.M.D. Meiklejohn, London, 1897. Lermontov, M i h a i l , A Hero of Our Time, t r a n s l . Vladimir Nabokov, New York, 1958. Lowry, Malcom, Under the Volcano. Toronto, 1956. Milto n , John, Complete Poems and Major Prose, ed. Merrit Y. Hughes, New York, 1957. Musset, A l f r e d de, A Modern Man's Confession, t r a n s l . G.F. Monkshood, London, n.d. Nietzsche, F r i e d r i c h , The J o y f u l Wisdom, t r a n s l . Thomas Common, New York, 1964. . The W i l l to Power, t r a n s l . W. Kaufmann • and R.J. Hollingdale", New York, 1967. Novalis, Gesammelte Werke, ed. C. Z e e l i g , 5 v o l s . , Zurich, P i r a n d e l l o , L u i g i , Right You Are ( I f You Think So), t r a n s l . Frederick May, London, 1969. , Naked Masks, ed. E r i c Bentley, New York, 1952. Platen-Hallermttnde, August von, Die Verhangnisvolle Gabel. Stu t t g a r t , 1826. - I L -Pushkin, Aleksandr, Eugene Onegin, t r a n s l . Vladimir Nabokov, 4 v o l s . , New York, 1954. Rousseau, Jean Jacques, Discours sur l e s sciences et l e s  Arts . New York, 194TT. t The Creed of a P r i e s t of Savoy, t r a n s l . A.H. B e a t t i e , New York~7 T95FI Sade, D.A. Francois de, Just i n e , t r a n s l . P i e r a l l e s s a n d r o Casavini, P a r i s , 1953. Sartre, Jean Paul, Nausea, t r a n s l . Lloyd Alexander, New York, 1964. S c h e l l i n g , F.W.J, von, Werke, ed. Manfred SchrBter, I, Munich, 1927. Schlegel, F. and A.W. von, ed., Atheneumo v o l s . 1 and 3, Darmstadt, I960. Senancour, Etienne P i v e r t de, Obermann, t r a n s l . n . l . , London, 1909. StaftT., Anne Louise G-ermaine (Necker), De L'Allemagne. P a r i s , - 1958. ~~ T e i l h a r d de Chardin, P i e r r e , B u i l d i n g the Earth, t r a n s l . Noel Lindsay, London, 1965. Tieck, Ludwig, S c h r i f t e n 0 v o l s . 6 and 9, B e r l i n , 1828. Turgenev, Ivan S., Fathers and Sons, t r a n s l . R. Edmunds, Baltimore, 1965. Watts, Alan, The Joyous Cosmology: Adventures i n the  Chemistry of Consciousness« London, 1962. Vigny, A l f r e d V i c t o r de, P o e s i e s . P a r i s , n.d. Yeats, William B u t l e r , C o l l e c t e d Poems9 London, 1965. Secondary Sources Berend, Eduard, "Zu den Nachtwachen von Bonaventura", Zeits c h r . f. dt. P h i l o l . , LI (1926), pp. 329-330. L-Bowra, CM. , The Romantic Imagination. London, 1950. Brinkmann, Richard, "Nachtwachen von Bonaventura, Kehrseite der Frtihromantik?", i n Die Deutsche Romantik, ed. H. S t e f f e n , GSttingen, 19o"7. Carter, A.E., The Idea of Decadence i n French Romantic  L i t e r a t u r e 1830-1900. The U n i v e r s i t y of Toronto: Press, 1958. C a s s i r e r , Ernst, Rousseau, Kant, Goethe: Two Essays, t r a n s l . James Gutmann et a l . , Princeton u n i v e r s i t y Press, 1947. Clement, N.H., Romanticism i n France. New York, 1939. Dtirrenmatt, F r i e d r i c h , Problems of the Theatre, t r a n s l . Gerhard Nellhaus, New York, 1958. Edwards, Paul, ed., The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 7 v o l s . , New York, n.d. E s s l i n , Martin, B r i e f Chronicles. London, 1970. Fowlie, Wallace, Climate of Violence: French Literary- T r a d i t i o n from Baudelaire to the Present. New York, TWT. : Frank, E., "Clemens Brentanoj Nachtwachen von Bonaventura", GRM, IV (1912). GBlz, s., Die Formen der Unmittelharkeit i n den N.v.B., d i s s . Frankfurt, 1955. Gundolf, F., "Fber Clemens Brentano", Z e i t s c h r . f . Deutschkunde. XXXXII (1928). . Guthke, K a r l S., Die Mythologie der EntgStterten Welt. Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1970. Hayman, Ronald, Samuel Beckett,, London, 1969. Hofmann, K a r l , Zur Verfasserfrage der Nachtwachen, d i s s . Prague, 1921. Jacobsen, J . and Mueller, W.R., The Testament of Samuel  Beckett» New York, 1964. Kohlschmidt, Werner, "Nihilismus i n der Romantik", i n Form  und I n n e r l i c h k e i t . B e r l i n , 1955. - L I -K o r f f , H.A., Geist der Goethezeit: Versuch einer I d e e l l e n  Entwicklung der Klassischen-Romantischen L i t e r a t u r -geschichte. 3 v o l s . , L e i p z i g , 1941. Lamont, Rosette,C. f "The Metaphysical Parce: Beckett and Ionesco", The French Review, XXXII (1959). Lovejoy, Arthur 0., The Great Chain of Being: A Study i n  the History of an Idea. New York, I960. Meyer, R.M., "Nachtwachen von Bonaventura", Euphorion, X (1903). Mtiller, J . , Die Nachtwachen von Bonaventura", Neue Jb. fttr Wissen., XII (1936). Novak, Michael, The Experience of Nothingness. New York, 1970. 0'Brian, Elmer, V a r i e t i e s of Mystic Experience. New York, 1964. Paulsen, W., "Bonaventurals Nachtwachen i n l i t . Raum, Sprache, und Struktur", Jahrbuch d. deutschen  S c h i l l e r - G e s e l l s c h a f t , IX (1965). Peckham, Morse, "Toward a Theory of Romanticism", PMLA, LXVI (March, 1951). Sammons, J.L., Die Nachtwachen von Bonaventura: A S t r u c t u r a l I n t e r p r e t a t i o n. The Hague, 1965. Schultz, Franz, Der Verfasser der N.v.B. Untersuchungen  zur deutschen Romantik. B e r l i n , 1909. ,"Gundolf und die Nachtwachen von Bonaventura", Euphorion,.XXIX (1928). T h i e l e , G. "Untersuchungen zur Frage des Authors der N.v.B. mit H i l f e einfacher T e x t c h a r a c t e r i s t i k e n " , Grundlagen aus Kybernetik und Geisteswissenschaft, IV (1963). Thimme, G., "Nachtwachen von Bonaventura", Euphorion, XIII (1906). Trube, H., "F.G. Wetzel: Leben und Werk", Germanische  Studien, LVIII (1928). THE NIGHTWATCHES -2a-Ta-ble of Contents FIRST NIGHTWATCH 1 The dying f r e e t h i n k e r . SECOND NIGHTWATCH 7 The d e v i l makes an appearance. THIRD NIGHTWATCH .. 14 St. C r i s p i n ' s sermon on adultery. FOURTH NIGHTWATCH 2 5 Some wood-cuts, and the l i f e of a madman performed as puppet theatre. FIFTH NIGHTWATCH 4 4 The story of the two brothers. SIXTH NIGHTWATCH f 5 3 Judgement Day. SEVENTH NIGHTWATCH 6 3 Some attempts at s e l f - p o r t r a i t u r e - a f u n e r a l o r a t i o n f o r the b i r t h of a c h i l d - the m i n s t r e l -a slander s u i t . EIGHTH NIGHTWATCH 7 4 The poet's ascension i n t o heaven - a l e t t e r of r e s i g n a t i o n - the f o o l ' s prologue to the tragedy Man. -3*-NINTH NIGHTWATCH 88 The asylum - monologue of the insane creator -the sensible madman. TENTH NIGHTWATCH 100 The winter night - the dream of love - the white and the red "bride - the f u n e r a l of a nun - a run through the sca l e . ELEVENTH NIGHTWATCH I l l The v i s i o n s of a b l i n d man - the vow - the f i r s t r i s i n g of the sun. TWELFTH NIGHTWATCH 116 The sun eagle - the immortal wig - the f a l s e p i g - t a i l - an apology on l i f e - the comedian. THIRTEENTH NIGHTWATCH 126 A spri n g dithyramb - the t i t l e without a book -the resthome of old gods - the arse of Venus. FOURTEENTH NIGHTWATCH 134 Two f o o l s i n love. FIFTEENTH NIGHTWATCH 149 The story of the puppet theatre. SIXTEENTH NIGHTWATCH 159 The gypsy - the v i s i o n a r y - my father's grave. FIRST NIGHTWATCH The midnight hour struck; I wrapped myself up i n my strange garb, took my pike and horn, went out int o the darkness, and c a l l e d out the hour a f t e r f i r s t " crossing myself against e v i l s p i r i t s . I t was one of those eerie nights i n which l i g h t and dark a l t e r n a t e i n f l a s h e s . Wind-swept clouds winged through the sky l i k e great monsters and the moon kept constantly vanishing and reappearing. A deathly calm reigned i n the s t r e e t s , hut high up i n the a i r the storm was raging l i k e an i n v i s i b l e s p i r i t . I didn't mind at a l l and smiled at the lone l y echo of my steps. Surrounded by sleepers, I f e l t l i k e the prince i n the t a l e of the enchanted c i t y where a demon had turned every l i v i n g thing into stone, or l i k e the sole survivor of a world-wide plague or f l o o d . The l a s t comparison made me shiver and I was glad to discover a single dim lamp s t i l l burning high above -2-the c i t y i n a s o l i t a r y a t t i c . I knew who l i v e d up there - a ruined poet who worked only at night when a l l h i s c r e d i t o r s (everybody except the Muses) were asleep. I couldn't r e s i s t haranguing him as follows: "You, s t a l k i n g around up there...I know you w e l l because I used to be l i k e you. But I gave i t a l l up f o r an honest trade which a f f o r d s me a l i v i n g and which i s n ' t without i t s own poetry once you get used to i t . I've been put i n your way as a kind of s a t i r i c a l Stentor, to i n t e r r u p t the dreams of immortality which you're spinning up there with reminders about time and change, every hour on the hour. We both keep watch by night, but i t ' s too bad that your hours bring no p r o f i t at a l l i n these cold prosaic days while mine y i e l d at l e a s t enough to keep me a l i v e . When I wrote poetry i n the night l i k e you, I had to starve l i k e you and sang to deaf ears...which I s t i l l do now, except I get paid f o r i t . Oh, f r i e n d poet: whoever seeks to survive i n t h i s age must not write poetry! And i f you were born to sing and just can't l i v e without i t , become a watchman l i k e me and at l e a s t t h e y ' l l l e t you sing withour s t a r v i n g you to death. Goodnight, brother poet." I looked up once more and glimpsed the posture of h i s shadow against the w a l l , one hand c l u t c h i n g h i s h a i r -3-and the other a sheet of paper from which he was probably-r e c i t i n g h i s claim to glory. I blew my horn, shouted out the time to him as loud as I could, and went on my way. Wait! There a s i c k man l i e s awake, dreaming f e v e r i s h dreams l i k e the poet. The man was an incurable f r e e t h i n k e r , f a c i n g h i s f i n a l hour as staunchly as V o l t a i r e . I can see him through a crack i n the shutter: pale and calm, he stares into the void which he must soon enter to sleep a dreamless sleep forever. The roses of l i f e have l e f t h i s cheeks, but they are blooming i n the faces of the three handsome boys around him. In c h i l d i s h ignorance, the youngest threatens the pale countenance because i t no longer smiles at him as i t once did. The other two stand looking on earnestly, unable yet to sense the presence of death i n t h e i r f r e s h young l i v e s . The young wife, however, her h a i r w i l d and her b e a u t i f u l breasts bare, gazes d e s p a i r i n g l y i n t o the black abyss, now and then mechanically wiping the sweat from the dying man's cold brow. Burning with rage, a p r i e s t stands nearby, holding up a cross to convert the f r e e t h i n k e r . His words swell l i k e a t i d e as he paints the beyond i n f u r i o u s strokes - not the b e a u t i f u l dawn of a new day, not unfolding blossoms -4-and angels, but the flames and p i t s and a l l the horrors of Dante's Inferno, l i k e a p a i n t i n g by H e l l Breughel. In vainj The dying man remains mute and firm. With a t e r r i b l e calm he sees one l e a f a f t e r the other f a l l from the tree of h i s l i f e and f e e l s the cold r i n d of death r i s e higher and higher toward h i s heart. The night wind r a t t l e d the decayed shutters and whistled through my h a i r l i k e an approaching s p i r i t of death. I shuddered: as i f healed by a miracle, the s i c k man suddenly cast around the room a vigorous glance that betrayed a new, more intense l i f e . This swift b r i l l i a n t surge of the fading flame, c e r t a i n harbinger of near death, casts a lustro u s glow on the night-scene before the dying man and i l l u m i n a t e s , f o r a moment, i t s p o e t i c , vernal world of f a i t h and poetry - the twin gleam of a Coreggio night which blends the. earthly and the heavenly i n t o a divin e whole. By h i s f i r m d e n i a l of a l l higher things, the dying man now provoked a dramatic scene. The enraged p r i e s t cast thunder and l i g h t n i n g i n t o h i s soul and i n desperation conjured up a flaming p i c t u r e of h e l l i t s e l f i n the man's l a s t hour. But the v i c t i m just smiled and shook h i s head. At that moment, I was c e r t a i n of h i s continuation, f o r only a mortal creature fears a n n i h i l a t i o n while the immortal soul can f r e e l y s a c r i f i c e i t s e l f , just as Indian -5-women h u r l themselves into f i r e and dedicate themselves to immolation. As he watched t h i s , the p r i e s t was seized by a frenzy, and since mere d e s c r i p t i o n seemed useless, he now acted the Xevil i n the f l e s h , a r o l e that f i t t e d him w e l l . He played with great v i r t u o s i t y , genuinely demonic i n the grand s t y l e , f a r superior to the shallow manners of the modern D e v i l . This was too much f o r the s i c k man. He turned away s u l l e n l y and looked at the three spring roses standing at h i s bed-side. Glowing love blazed i n h i s heart f o r the l a s t time. A blush l i t h i s pale face l i k e a memory. He asked f o r h i s c h i l d r e n , kissed them with great e f f o r t , and then dropped h i s heavy head on the swelling breast of h i s wife. Breathing a low," Aaah..." which seemed to express sensual d e l i g h t rather than pain, he died l o v i n g l y i n love's embrace. True to h i s satanic r o l e , the p r i e s t thundered in t o the corpse's ear, a c t i n g i n accordance with the b e l i e f that a dead man's hearing remains s e n s i t i v e f o r some time, and swore i n h i s own name that the D e v i l would carry away not only the soul, but also the body of the sinner. With that, he rushed out i n t o the s t r e e t . I had become confused and i n my delusion r e a l l y believed he was the D e v i l and jabbed my pike against h i s chest as he t r i e d -6-to get past. "Go to the D e v i l ! " he snorted. At that, I gathered my wits and said,"Pardon me, Your Reverence, but i n a moment of madness I took you f o r the D e v i l and therefore set my pike against your heart to save myself from you. Forgive me t h i s time." He stormed away. Back i n the room, the scene was more peaceful now. The b e a u t i f u l wife cradled her beloved i n her arms as i f he were asleep. She seemed unaware of h i s death yet, thi n k i n g perhaps that sleep would give him new l i f e - a noble thought not altogether inaccurate i n a higher sense. The c h i l d r e n knelt solemnly at the bed-side; only the youngest son was t r y i n g to wake h i s father, while the mother s i l e n t l y c a l l e d him with a glance and l a i d her hand on h i s c u r l y head. The scene was too moving - I turned away to miss the moment her i l l u s i o n vanished. In a low voice, I sang a requiem beneath the window to banish with more gentle tones the p r i e s t ' s burning words from the s t i l l l i s t e n i n g ear. Music i s a f r i e n d to the dying - i t i s the f i r s t sweet sound of the next world, and the Muse of song i s a mystic s i s t e r of Mercy, who leads the way to heaven. In the same way, Jakob Boehme f e l l asleep forever to the sounds of d i s t a n t music that nobody but he could hear as he lay dying. -7-SECOND NIGHTWATCH Again night c a l l e d me to my nocturnal round. The str e e t s i n fr o n t of me were deserted except f o r an occasional merry f l a s h of l i g h t n i n g , while i n the f a r distance there was a mumbling l i k e an u n i n t e l l i g i b l e s p e l l . My poet had quenched h i s lamp, f o r the sky was l i t up with l i g h t s which he thought more poetic and also cheaper. Leaning out of h i s window high above, he stared in t o the thunderbolts, h i s white n i g h t s h i r t open at the throat, h i s black h a i r b r i s t l i n g . I remembered s i m i l a r poetic moments of my own, moments of inner storm when the l i p s would speak thunder and the hand would seek l i g h t n i n g instead of the q u i l l to write words of f i r e . Then the mind speeds from pole and pole and f l i e s on wings across the universe, but the words which i t f i n a l l y u t t e r s are a c h i l d i s h babbling and the hand qu i c k l y tears up the page. I used to banish t h i s poetic demon, who i n the end -8-always gloated over my defeat, with the incantations of music. Now I u s u a l l y b l a s t a few discordant notes on my horn with the same e f f e c t . I would l i k e to recommend the sound of my watchman's horn as an antidote against the poetic urge to a l l those who f e a r t h i s disease l i k e a fever. My preventative i s inexpensive and of great value, since nowadays, i n agreement with Plato, poetry i s generally considered a d e l i r i u m , the only d i f f e r e n c e being that the old Greek c a l l e d i t a curse from the gods, not from the madhouse. Whatever the case, poetry has become a dubious trade at best because there are so few l u n a t i c s as compared with such an overflow of sane people who among themselves can f i l l up a l l trades, i n c l u d i n g poetry. Under such conditions a true madman l i k e myself can't f i n d a job anywhere. So I now merely s k i r t around poetry, meaning I have become a humorist, a p r o f e s s i o n f o r which a watchman has a l l the time and opportunity i n the world. Perhaps I ought to demonstrate by work as a humorist, but there i s no need, since at the moment the world i s concerned with v o c a l i z a t i o n rather than vocation. Thus, we have poets who have no c a l l i n g , although they f e e l c a l l e d upon - I ' l l leave i t at that. A moment ago, a f l a s h of l i g h t n i n g singed the a i r , and I caught sight of three c a r n i v a l masks s l i n k i n g past - 9 -the w a l l of the churchyard. I challenged them, hut black night had already f a l l e n again and I saw nothing except a glowing t a i l and f i e r y eyes, and I heard the d i s t a n t thunder merge with a voice nearby l i k e an accompaniment to a Don Giovanni a r i a . "Mind your own business, you night owl, and don't meddle with the work of s p i r i t s . " This was too much f o r me and I hurled my pike i n the d i r e c t i o n of the voice; l i g h t n i n g flashed again, but the three had vanished in t o the a i r l i k e Macbeth's witches. " S p i r i t s , " I shouted a f t e r them i n anger, hoping they would hear me, "You don't accept me as one of your kind, and yet I've been a poet, a m i n s t r e l , a puppet d i r e c t o r , and a few other s p i r i t e d things one - a f t e r the other. I wish I had known your s p i r i t s during l i f e - provided they are already out of i t - to see i f mine was equal to yours; or has death given you an extra touch of s p i r i t , as some-times happens to great men who grow famous only a f t e r t h e i r deaths, and whose w r i t i n g gathers s p i r i t by l y i n g around, just as wine gathers s p i r i t with age?" I had almost reached the house of the excommunicated fr e e t h i n k e r . A pale l i g h t shone out in t o the night through the open door, merging strangely with the l i g h t n i n g , and the rumbling from the f a r mountains grew louder as i f the s p i r i t realm were about to enter the drama. -10-The corpse was stretched out i n the h a l l as custom demanded. A few unconsecrated candles burned around i t because the p r i e s t , of d i a b o l i c a l memory, had refused to bless them. The corpse was smiling, perhaps at the p r i e s t , or at h i s own f o o l i s h n e s s i n denying an a f t e r l i f e , and the smile gleamed l i k e a d i s t a n t r e f l e c t i o n of l i f e across h i s r i g i d features. At the end of a long dark h a l l , i n an alcove hung i n black, the three boys and the wan mother knelt motionless before an a l t a r - Niobe with her c h i l d r e n - praying des-pe r a t e l y to snatch the body and the soul from the D e v i l i n s p i t e of the p r i e s t . The brother of the dead man, a s o l d i e r with a calm f a i t h i n heaven and i n h i s own courage which could face even the D e v i l , was the only person standing watch at the c o f f i n . He stood p l a c i d l y and expectantly, looking a l t e r n a t e l y i n t o the s t i l l face of the deceased and i n t o the l i g h t n i n g which cut malevolently into the f l i c k e r of the candles. His unsheathed saber rested on the dead body, and with i t s cross-shaped pommel i t seemed to me at once a worldly and a c l e r i c a l weapon. The s i l e n c e of the grave reigned everywhere, and except f o r the d i s t a n t mumbling of the storm and the c r a c k l i n g of burning candles I heard nothing. So i t remained, u n t i l the slow booming cathedral b e l l -11-announced midnight - then the winds high above suddenly-whipped along the storm cloud l i k e a nightmare u n t i l i t s winding-sheet had covered the whole sky. The candles around the c o f f i n went out, thunder pealed a n g r i l y l i k e a r e b e l l i o u s power, rousing even the heaviest sleeper, and the clouds spat flame a f t e r flame, p e r i o d i c a l l y and b r u t a l l y i l l u m i n a t i n g the dead face. I saw the s o l d i e r ' s sabre f l a s h i n the night as he prepared f o r b a t t l e . Just i n time - the a i r bubbled and the three Macbeth witches were suddenly v i s i b l e again, as i f the storm had dragged them along by the h a i r . The l i g h t n i n g flashed i n t o contorted masks, snake h a i r - into a l l of the h e l l i s h masquerade. And now the D e v i l dragged me i n by a h a i r too, and as the three came sweeping up the s t r e e t , I joined them. They seemed s t a r t l e d by an uninvited fourth member, as i f they were up to no good. "What the h e l l ? Can the D e v i l walk a s t r a i g h t path as well?" I laughed w i l d l y . "In that case, don't f r e t that I've caught you on a crooked one. I'm on your side, brothers. Let me j o i n you." They r e a l l y seemed embarrassed. One of them gasped, "God preserve us!" and crossed himself. I thought t h i s was rather odd and s a i d , " Brother Nick, don't step out of -12-character l i k e that or I ' l l lose a l l f a i t h i n you and mistake you f o r a s a i n t or at l e a s t f o r someone who's been baptised. But the more I think about i t , the more I f e e l l i k e congratulating you f o r f i n a l l y d i g e s t i n g the cross and developing the t a l e n t to change at w i l l from a born d e v i l i n t o a s a i n t . " My manner of speaking gave me away. They turned on me and threatened me i n t r u l y c l e r i c a l tones with ex-communication and the l i k e i f I stood i n t h e i r way much longer. "Don't worry," I s a i d . "Up to now I never r e a l l y b elieved i n the D e v i l , but now I've seen the l i g h t and I'm c e r t a i n you know your trade w e l l . Don't l e t me d i s t u r b you. No watchman can handle both h e l l and the Church at once." They swept away int o the house and I followed them d i f f i d e n t l y . The scene was a p p a l l i n g . Lightning and darkness alt e r n a t e d i n f l a s h e s . F i r s t i t was b r i g h t and I saw the three of them struggle f o r the c o f f i n while the sabie flashed i n the hand of the steadfast s o l d i e r and the dead man looked on unmoved, h i s pale r i g i d face l i k e a mask. Then i t turned deep night except f o r the pale shimmer from the alcove i n the background where the kneeling mother and her c h i l d r e n laboured i n desperate prayers. -13-The b a t t l e raged s i l e n t l y , but suddenly the sky crashed as i f Satan had gained the upper hand. The l i g h t -ning ceased and dense night s e t t l e d f o r a long time. But soon, two f i g u r e s came rushing through the door and I saw, i n the l i g h t of t h e i r g l i n t i n g eyes, that they were r e a l l y c a r r y i n g a corpse. Cursing to myself, I stood i n f r o n t of the door; the h a l l was black and l i f e l e s s , and I thought that the v a l i a n t s o l d i e r too had at l e a s t a broken neck. Then the cloud discharged i t s e l f completely: an e c s t a t i c sheet of l i g h t n i n g l i t the a i r , a r a i s e d torch that would not die . And I saw the s o l d i e r standing calmly and c o l d l y beside the c o f f i n , and the corpse smiling as before but - what a su r p r i s e ! A demonic mask without a body leered beside the dead man's face, and a s c a r l e t r i v e r of blood coloured the fr e e t h i n k e r ' s shroud. Shuddering, I wrapped my mantle t i g h t e r , forgot altogether to blow my horn and sing out the time, and f l e d toward my hut. -14-THIRD NIGHTWATCH We watchmen and poets care l i t t l e about man's daytime a c t i v i t i e s ; nowadays i t i s common knowledge: men are much too prosaic when they are at t h e i r most a c t i v e and become i n t e r e s t i n g only i n t h e i r dreams. Consequently, I received only incoherent reports about the outcome of the foregoing events, and I s h a l l have to repeat them equally incoherently. I t was the head which puzzled most heads since i t was no ordinary head, but the De v i l ' s very own. The law, faced with t h i s head, dismissed the case saying that heads l a y outside i t s j u r i s d i c t i o n . I t was indeed a confounded business and there were arguments as to whether the s o l d i e r should be charged with a c r i m i n a l offense since he had committed manslaughter, or whether he should be canonized since the v i c t i m was the D e v i l . This, i n turn, l e d to more controversy: f o r several months nobody desired absolution, -15-denying the very existence of the D e v i l and c i t i n g the head, which had meanwhile been taken into custody, as proof. From t h e i r p u l p i t s , the p r i e s t s preached themselves hoarse claiming that the D e v i l could l i v e without a head, a theory which they sought to support with a v a r i e t y of evidence from t h e i r own experience. No-one could make head or t a i l of the head. I t had a physiognomy of i r o n , but a padlock on one side i n v i t e d the s u s p i c i o n that the D e v i l might have a second face hidden beneath the f i r s t , a face perhaps reserved f o r s p e c i a l holidays. Unfortunately, the key to the lock, and thus to the second face, was missing. Who knows what alarming observations might have been made about the Dev i l ' s countenance - but without a key only the standard features portrayed i n any wood-cut were a v a i l a b l e f o r study. Amidst a l l t h i s confusion and uncertainty about the head's a u t h e n t i c i t y , a d e c i s i o n was made to send i t to Doctor G a l l i n Vienna so that he might examine i t and e s t a b l i s h c o n c l u s i v e l y the presence of satanic protuberances. But now the Church entered the fr a y and, d e c l a r i n g Herself alone q u a l i f i e d to make decis i o n s , ordered the head be handed over to Her safekeeping, and soon rumours spread that i t had vanished. Several gentlemen of the clergy i n s i s t e d that they had seen the D e v i l himself s t e a l h i s -16-head at a lo n e l y hour of the night. Thus, the case remained as good as unsolved, es-p e c i a l l y as the only man who might have explained the mystery, namely the p r i e s t who excommunicated the f r e e -thinker, had suddenly died of a stroke. So at l e a s t rumour and the Church had i t - f o r nobody had a c t u a l l y seen the corpse as i t had been buried q u i c k l y on account of the hot weather. The story plagued me considerably during my watch because u n t i l now I had believed only i n a poetic D e v i l , never a r e a l one. And as f a r as the poetic one i s con-cerned, i t ' s unfortunate that we've neglected him: instead of accepting a p r i n c i p l e of absolute e v i l , we c u l t i v a t e the virtuous v i l l a i n s of I f f l a n d ' s and Kotzebue's dramas, i n which the D e v i l appears human and human beings demonic. A t o t t e r i n g world d i s t r u s t s a l l absolutes and a l l that can stand on i t s own, and thus we t o l e r a t e neither true joy nor true seriousness, neither ultimate v i r t u e nor ultimate e v i l . The character of our age i s s t i t c h e d together l i k e a f o o l ' s jacket, and what i s worst - the f o o l i n s i d e t r i e s to be serious. Absorbed i n these thoughts, I had come to a h a l t i n a corner, i n fr o n t of a statue of St. C r i s p i n , who was wearing a grey cloak l i k e mine. Suddenly a man and a woman approached and almost leaned against me thinking I was the -17-b l i n d , deaf, and dumb statue. The man worked himself i n t o a r h e t o r i c a l l a t h e r and ranted i n the same breath about love and constancy, while the woman hesi t a t e d convincingly and wrung her hands a r t -f u l l y . Now the man c a l l e d upon me audaciously and swore he would be as constant and f a i t h f u l as the stone s a i n t . At t h i s , the rogue i n me awoke, and as the man clutched my cloak as i f to swear by me, I shook myself s l i g h t l y i n s p i t e . Although they were both s t a r t l e d , the lover recovered quickly, saying that probably my foundation had caved i n and that I had l o s t balance somewhat. Imitating at l e a s t ten characters from the l a t e s t dramas and tragedies, he then swore by h i s soul to be f a i t h f u l ; f i n a l l y he raved l i k e Don Giovanni i n the play he had seen that evening, and concluded s i g n i f i c a n t l y , "May t h i s marble statue appear at our dinner tonight i f I break my vow to love you..always." I made a mental note of t h i s and f u r t h e r overheard her d e s c r i b i n g the house and a secret spring on the door so he could open i t , while at the same time she s e t t l e d on midnight f o r dinner. I a r r i v e d there h a l f an hour e a r l y , found the house, the door, and the hidden spring, and crept q u i e t l y up several f l i g h t s of backstairs u n t i l I reached a gloomy h a l l . Light f e l l through two glass doors; I approached and looked through one of them and saw a creature i n a -18-dressing-gown i n front of a desk. At f i r s t I couldn't decide whether i t was a man or a clock-work f i g u r e - a l l traces of humanity were eradicated leaving only an expression of too much work. This creature sat w r i t i n g , surrounded with documents, l i k e a Laplander buried a l i v e . I t seemed to me as i f he wished to experience the a c t i v i t y and the l i f e of the dead while s t i l l a l i v e , f o r a l l passion and sympathy had been wiped from h i s brow - he was a puppet, l i f e l e s s and erect i n a c o f f i n made of documents f u l l of bookworms. An i n v i s i b l e thread was p u l l e d , and the f i n g e r s clacked, grasped a pen, and signed three papers. I looked c l o s e r : three death warrants. J u s t i n i a n and the I n s t i t u t e s l a y beside him on h i s desk l i k e an image of h i s puppet soul p e r s o n i f i e d . I could hardly c r i t i c i z e , but t h i s frozen judge reminded me of the g u i l l o t i n e which cleaves without w i l l , and h i s desk of an execution yard on which he had, with three strokes of the pen, destroyed three l i v e s i n a minute. God, i f I had the choice, I'd rather be the l i v i n g sinner than t h i s dead servant of the law. I was even more incensed when I saw h i s l i k e n e s s , sculpted i n wax, s i t t i n g motionless i n f r o n t of him as i f one l i f e l e s s o r i g i n a l were not enough, but required a double to d i s p l a y t h i s dead wonder from two d i f f e r e n t sides. -19-Now the woman already mentioned entered, and the puppet, seemingly a f r a i d , took o f f h i s cap and placed i t "beside him. "Haven't you gone to bed yet?" she s a i d . "What kind of l i f e you are leading...too much work k i l l s the imagination, you know!" "Imagination? What do you mean?" he asked i n s u r p r i s e . "I can hardly understand the new jargon you use these days." "Because you have no i n t e r e s t i n higher things; not even i n the t r a g i c ! " "Tragic? Why, of course!" he answered smugly," Look here...I'm having three criminals executed." "Good g r i e f , what sentiments!" "What? I was hoping to please you with t h i s because you read those books i n which everybody dies a l l the time. I've even set the execution date f o r your birthday!" "God, my nerves!" "Oh no. Lately you've been having f a i n t i n g s p e l l s so often I'm scared before i t even happens!" "Well, there's nothing you can do to help me. Just go away, please. Go to bedi" The conversation was f i n i s h e d and he l e f t , drying the sweat from h i s brow. D i a b o l i c a l l y enough, I now resolved to create a s i t u a t i o n i n which h i s wife would stand accused i n h i s court, so that he might gain j u r i s d i c t i o n over her -20-again. Before long, Mars came creeping to h i s Venus. Since I was born with a limp and a c e r t a i n homeliness, I lacked nothing to play the r o l e of Vulcan except a golden net, which I hoped to replace with a few golden truths and moral maxims. At f i r s t the performance before me went t o l e r a b l y w e l l ; the youth sinned only against poetry with h i s tendency toward f l e s h l y d e s c r i p t i o n s : he painted a heaven f u l l of nymphs, and teasing Cupids on the canopy of the bed on which he lusted to sport, and he strewed the path leading i n that d i r e c t i o n with roses which he scattered profusely i n elegant conceits, avoiding the thorns, which now and again wound h i s f e e t , with f r i v o l o u s leaps. - But as t h i s wretch threw himself t o t a l l y into a poetic fury, and as he r o l l e d down the green s i l k curtains above the doors to turn the play i n t o a bedroom fa r c e , I h u r r i e d l y employed my poetic antidote - I blew my horn p i e r c i n g l y . At the same time, I leaped onto an empty pedestal reserved f o r a statue of J u s t i c e s t i l l being modelled, and stood s i l e n t and s t i l l . The dreadful sound roused the two lovers from t h e i r poetry and the husband from h i s bed, and a l l three came rushing i n through two d i f f e r e n t doors. "The marble statue." c r i e d the lover and quivered. "Ah, my statue of J u s t i c e , " said the husband. " I t ' s f i n a l l y completed. V/hat a l o v e l y s u r p r i s e , d a r l i n g . " "You're making a bad mistake," I said. " J u s t i c e i s -21-s t i l l over at the sculptor's workshop. I'm' just standing i n temporarily so the pedestal won't he empty at important moments l i k e t h i s . Of course i t ' s only an emergency measure because the r e a l statue i s marble-cold and has no heart, while I'm a poor wretch who's gone s o f t with sentimentality and who's oc c a s i o n a l l y i n c l i n e d toward the poe t i c . However, I am good enough f o r ordinary house-c a l l s and I can be a.marble guest i n an emergency. Such guests have the advantage over others i n that they don't eat or catch f i r e where i t could be harmful, while the others d i s r u p t the household by catching f i r e very e a s i l y , much to the sorrow of husbands." "What i s t h i s ? " stammered the husband. "That stones are s t a r t i n g to speak, you mean? That's the f r i v o l i t y of our age. One should never t a l k of the D e v i l , I always say, but our young men of the world ignore t h i s while t r y i n g to seduce the weaker sex and d i s p l a y t h e i r heroic side. I took t h i s man at h i s word, although I belong out i n the market place, as St. C r i s p i n i n my grey cloak." My God, what i s t h i s ! " the husband asked i n fear. "This i s out of order and unheard of." " C e r t a i n l y , f o r a lawyer! St. C r i s p i n was a c t u a l l y a shoemaker, but he became a t h i e f out of sheer holiness and an overdose of v i r t u e and s t o l e leather to make shoes V -22-f o r the poor. What i s your v e r d i c t ? T e l l me. I see no s o l u t i o n except to hang him f i r s t and make him a sa i n t afterwards. And ad u l t e r e r s , who a f t e r a l l break the law to keep peace i n the home, should be dealt with i n the same fashion, t h e i r motives are good, and that's the most important point. I f i t weren't f o r family f r i e n d s g i f t e d with a f i n e moral sense which has turned them into lechers, many wives would soon nag t h e i r husbands to death. There...I've touched upon the main issue, and i n the name of God l e t us begin our i n q u i s i t i o n . But I see the two h e r e t i c s are unconscious. So l e t us adjourn f o r the moment." "Heretics? I don't see any," said the husband d u l l y . "That one over there i s my other h a l f . " "Fine. We'll deal with her f i r s t . Other h a l f , you said? That's always the h a l f that supplies the cross and agony of marriage. And merely h a l f a cross i s a c t u a l l y an exemplary union. I f you are the h a l f that provides joy and bl e s s i n g , your matrimony must be heaven on earth." "Joy and b l e s s i n g ! " he sighed deeply. "Please, no maudlin marginal notes, my f r i e n d . Let us now deal with the other accused who i s likewise l y i n g unconscious since meeting a t a l k i n g statue. I f we are allowed to plead f o r leniency f o r people with arguments based on t h e i r own e t h i c s , I'd l i k e to be t h i s man's -23-attorney, to protect him from a beheading, a fate which our C a r o l i n a would surely i n s i s t upon. Besides, to execute such wretches i s l i k e beheading e f f i g i e s , since these poor souls lacks a good head to begin with." "You mean to say Caro l i n a has suddenly become so cr u e l ? " he asked, very confused now. "A few moments ago she shuddered when I mentioned the word execution." "I don't blame you f o r mixing up the two Carolinas," I r e p l i e d , "Because your l i v i n g one i s e a s i l y mistaken f o r the l e g a l one - neither i s the type to turn earth i n t o heaven. In f a c t , I'd almost say that the one made of f l e s h i s worse than the one made of books - at l e a s t there i s no t a l k of l i f e l o n g torture i n the second one." "Good God, t h i s can't go on," the husband sa i d , seeming to wake up a l l of a sudden. "I'm not sure i f I'm waking or sleeping, and I'd have to pinch myself to make sure, but I could swear I heard the watchman a while ago." "Yes, by God," I c r i e d . "You just woke me up - you c a l l e d me by name. Thank heavens I wasn't standing too high, on a roof somewhere, or on the crest of some poetic i n s p i r a t i o n . Otherwise I would've f a l l e n and broken my neck f o r sure. L u c k i l y I'm no higher than J u s t i c e i s supposed to be, and I'm glad to f i n d myself s t i l l a man among men. Don't look at me l i k e t h a t . . . I ' l l explain. I'm the watchman of t h i s c i t y , and at the same time I'm a -24-sleep-walker - there's room f o r both i n most people - and when I'm working, I often have the urge f o r sleep-walking along steep gables and i n other hazardous areas, and that's how I must have reached t h i s pedestal of Themis. Someday my desperate i n c l i n a t i o n w i l l cost me my neck, but i n the meantime i t helps me to protect the good c i t i z e n s of t h i s c i t y from a l l sorts of t h e f t p r e c i s e l y because I crawl and climb into every corner. I t ' s the ones who work i n the open, f o r c i n g closed shutters with crow-bars, who are the l e a s t dangerous of crooks. This observation excuses me, I think, and I ' l l therefore say goodnight." I l e f t the surprised husband and the two l o v e r s , who had regained consciousness. I have no idea what they talked about a f t e r I l e f t . -25-FOURTH NIGHTWATCH The b u r i a l chapel of the old gothic cathedral i s one of my f a v o u r i t e haunts during my nightwatches. Here I s i t by the dim glow of the s i n g l e e t e r n a l flame and often think of myself as a night s p i r i t . The place i n v i t e s meditation, and tonight i t leads me int o my own h i s t o r y . More or l e s s out of boredom, I am l e a f i n g through the crazy and confused book of my l i f e . The very f i r s t page i s already questionable, and by the time we reach the f i f t h page, we are no longer t a l k i n g about my b i r t h , but about treasure-hunting. I'm looking at mystic C a b b a l i s t i c signs and at some wood-cuts d e p i c t i n g a cobbler who wanted to give up shoe-making and l e a r n how to make gold instead. Thin and yellow, her h a i r matted and tousled, a gypsy woman beside him i n s t r u c t s him i n how to d i g f o r treasure, hands him a d i v i n i n g rod, and reveals the exact l o c a t i o n where he i s to l i f t the treasure three days l a t e r . But tonight, I'd rather study the wood-cuts than the -26-text, and so I turn to the Second Wood-cut. And here i s our cobbler again, without the gypsy woman, and t h i s time the a r t i s t has succeeded i n making h i s face more expressive. I t s strong features show that the man did not stop at the bottom, but went beyond h i s f e e t and l e t things go to h i s head. This s t r i k e s me as a s a t i r i c a l comment on the blunders of genius and explains why a man who could have made good hats turns out bad shoes, or v i c e versa i f the example i s stood on i t s head. The background shows a crossroad, and black l i n e s convey an image of night while a zig-zag against the sky suggests a f l a s h of l i g h t n i n g . I t i s c l e a r that the average honest workman would have f l e d such surroundings, but our shoe-maker i s untroubled. He has l i f t e d a massive chest from a deep hole, and has indeed already opened i t . But oh heavens, only a c o l l e c t o r of c u r i o s i t i e s would c a l l i t s contents a treasure - f o r I myself am i n s i d e , without any possessions, but a ready-made cosmopolite nevertheless. Our treasure-hunters 1s r e a c t i o n to h i s f i n d i s not recorded on the wood-cut, f o r the a r t i s t had no desire to reach beyond the l i m i t s of h i s a r t . Third Wood-cut. Here a shrewd commentator i s required. - I am s i t t i n g on one book while reading another. My f o s t e r father i s busy -27-with a shoe, and at the same time he seems engrossed i n some p r i v a t e meditations about e t e r n i t y . The book on which I'm s i t t i n g contains Hans Sachs' Shrovetide plays, and the one I'm reading i s Jakob Boehme's Aurora. These two are the kernel of our l i b r a r y because both authors were competent shoemakers and poets at the same time. Since the wood-cut deals mostly with my own p r e c o c i t y , I ' l l go no f a r t h e r i n my explanations. Instead, I ' l l q u i e t l y read the accompanying t h i r d chapter to myself. I t ' s w r i t t e n by my cobbler who recorded my l i f e as best as he could, and i t begins as follows: "I often have my doubts about Crossroads (according to custom, I was named a f t e r the place where I was found). I can't f i t him i n t o any of the usual categories, f o r there i s something exuberant i n him, l i k e there was i n old Boehme, who st a r t e d by looking at shoes and ended up i n mystery. Crossroads i s just l i k e that - ordinary things seems to him very extraordinary, things l i k e the sun-rise f o r example, which a f t e r a l l takes place every day and which i s thought of by most people as a normal occurrence. Or the s t a r s i n the sky, or the flowers of the earth: he's sure they t a l k to each other and get up to a l l sorts of nonsense together. Not so long ago, he confused me by asking about a shoe. F i r s t he asked me about the d i f f e r e n t parts of a shoe and when I answered him about each material, -28-he l e d me higher and higher, at f i r s t i n t o the na t u r a l sciences as he traced the leather to the cow, then even f a r t h e r u n t i l I found myself with my shoe high i n the realms of theology, at which point he t o l d me s t r a i g h t that I was a bungler i n my trade because I couldn't answer h i s f i n a l questions. And he often c a l l s flowers a secret language which we haven't yet learned to read, and the same with v a r i c o l o u r e d pebbles and rocks. He hopes to l e a r n t h e i r language someday and has promised to t e l l me some marvellous things i n i t . Often he l i s t e n s quite s e c r e t l y to gnats and f l i e s as they buzz i n the sun because he believes they're d i s c u s s i n g important matters of which no man i s yet aware. When he babbles these things to the apprentices and other workers i n the shop, they laugh at him, but he very s e r i o u s l y c a l l s them deaf and b l i n d because they can't hear or see the world around them. Now he s i t s day and night over h i s Jakob Boehme and Hans Sachs, two strange shoemakers who confused everybody even i n t h e i r own day and age. One thing i s very c l e a r -Crossroads i s no ordinary c h i l d . A f t e r a l l , I didn't come to him by ordinary means. I ' l l never forget the evening when I f e l l asleep over my three-legged l a s t , disappointed at my low earnings - that i t was three-footed i s not without s i g n i f i c a n c e , I've been t o l d - and dreamed about f i n d i n g a treasure i n a locked -29-chest, but I was t o l d not to open t h i s chest u n t i l I was awake. I t was a l l so c l e a r and obvious, since dreaming and sleeping were so c l e a r l y d i f f e r e n t i a t e d , that I couldn't get i t out of my head, and f i n a l l y I found myself a gypsy to help me f i n d the treasure. Everything went w e l l . I found the chest which I had dreamed about, made sure I was r e a l l y awake, and then opened i t . But instead of the gold I expected, I found t h i s prodigy i n the earth. At f i r s t I was disconcerted because a l i v i n g treasure should always be accompanied by an inanimate one i f i t i s to make you r i c h . Besides, the boy was stark naked and laughed about i t when I stared at him. But when I thought i t over, I f e l t there was more to a l l t h i s than met the eye, and I c a r e f u l l y c a r r i e d my treasure home." So much f o r our honest shoemaker - when suddenly I was interrupted i n my reading by an odd spectacle. A t a l l man, wrapped i n a cape, stepped toward me through the v a u l t and stopped at a gravestone. S i l e n t l y , I crept behind a nearby column just as he threw o f f the cape, and I saw a dark and s u l l e n face, with a pale-grey Southern complexion, behind black h a i r tumbling deep over the forehead. Invariably, I approach a f o r e i g n , unusual person with the same f e e l i n g s as I have on waiting f o r the c u r t a i n to r i s e on a Shakespeare play. I'm most impressed when the -30-performance, l i k e the one I was watching, i s a tragedy; besides true seriousness I l i k e only t r a g i c humour, and f o o l s l i k e i n King Lear - only these are t r u l y bold and great i n t h e i r laughter, which stands above concern f o r ordinary humanity. On the other hand, I thoroughly detest the t i n y wits and sentimental hacks who struggle only with family dramas and never dare, l i k e Aristophanes, to mock the gods themselves, and I equally detest the maudlin souls who, instead of destroying one l i f e to r a i s e mankind above l i f e i t s e l f , deal only with minor s u f f e r i n g s and even supply t h e i r tormented characters with a doctor to pres-cr i b e the exact degree of torture so that the poor wretch, although half-broken on the wheel, might s t i l l escape with h i s l i f e - as i f one man's l i f e were more important than mankind, which goes beyond existence. L i f e i s hardly more than the f i r s t a ct, hardly more than the Inferno of the Divine Comedy which man traverses i n pursuit of h i s i d e a l . The man who knelt near me on the gravestone, a gleaming sharp dagger i n h i s hand drawn from a b e a u t i f u l l y worked sheath, seemed of the t r u l y t r a g i c s t u f f , and I was chained to h i s presence. I had no desire to sound the alarm i f he did something serious. Neither did I want to play the confidant who i n the f i f t h act at a c e r t a i n cue rushes out from behind the c u r t a i n to stop the hero's arm. His l i f e seemed to me l i k e -31-the a r t f u l l y wrought sheath i n h i s hand concealing the dagger, or l i k e Cleopatra's basket with roses h i d i n g the deadly poisonous snake - when the drama of l i f e writes i t s e l f , one should not i n t e r f e r e even with i t s catastrophe. When I was a puppet d i r e c t o r , I owned a King Saul who resembled t h i s man to a h a i r . The same mechanical gestures, the same wooden, antique s t y l e which d i s t i n g u i s h e s puppets from l i v e a c t o r s , who don't even know these days how to die properly on our stages. The play had nearly reached the f i n a l c u r t a i n - the man's arm was poised f o r the death-dealing blow. But a l l of a sudden he froze and k n e l t on the stone l i k e a statue. Only an inch of space remained between the dagger's t i p and the man's breast, which i t was supposed to p i e r c e , and death crowded close upon l i f e . But time seemed suspended, r e f u s i n g to march onward, and the one moment between l i f e and death seemed turned i n t o an e t e r n i t y beyond a l l changes. I grew a f r a i d and glanced aghast at the face of the cathedral clock, and there the hand pointed s t i l l and s t r a i g h t at midnight. I f e l t paralyzed, and the world around me was frozen and dead. The man on the grave, the church with i t s l i f e l e s s stone columns and monuments, i t s carved, kneeling knights and s a i n t s - a l l seemed to be waiting f o r a new time, f o r a new l i f e i n a new age to animate them. It passed - the clock freed i t s e l f , the hand s l i d -32-forward, and the f i r s t stroke of midnight boomed slowly through the deserted arches. I t seemed as i f the man had come a l i v e through the clock. The dagger c l a t t e r e d to the stone f l o o r and shattered. "A curse on t h i s catalepsy," he said c o l d l y , as i f he were used to t h i s disease. " I t never l e t s me f i n i s h the blow." He stood up and turned to go as i f nothing had happened. "I l i k e you," I c r i e d . "You've got poise i n your l i f e , and genuine t r a g i c s e renity. I've always loved the c l a s s i c d i g n i t y of men who hated words v/here a c t i o n was more s u i t a b l e , and a death leap l i k e the one f o r which you were preparing i s no small gesture - i t ' s the kind of tour de force that you reserve f o r the very end." " I f you can help me jump," he said morosely," speak up. I f not, don't s t r a i n y o u r s e l f with compliments and opinions. Too much has been wri t t e n about the a r t of l i v i n g , but I'm s t i l l looking f o r a volume on the a r t of dying. In vain! I cannot d i e . " " I f only some of our most popular w r i t e r s had your t a l e n t f o r immortality!" I c r i e d out. "Their work could remain ephemeral while they themselves could be immortal and could continue t h e i r t r a n s i t o r y writings e t e r n a l l y to remain popular u n t i l Judgement Day. Unfortunately, t h e i r hour comes much too soon, and they must die together with t h e i r -33-May-flies. My f r i e n d , i f only I could l i f t you r i g h t now to the l e v e l of a Kotzebue, your work would never die and even when everything comes to an end, your achievements could be a Hogarthian t a i l - p i e c e to everything that has ever been said, and time could l i g h t h i s l a s t pipe to a scene from your l a s t play and could then skip e n t h u s i a s t i c a l l y over into e t e r n i t y . " The man t r i e d to e x i t q u i e t l y , without launching i n t o a resounding t i r a d e l i k e a bad actor, but I grasped h i s hand and s a i d , " Don't be i n such a hurry, my f r i e n d . I t ' s not necessary because you have so much time, provided that time ap p l i e s to your case since, judging from your words, I think you are the Wandering Jew, punished to l i v e forever among the dying because he mocked e t e r n i t y . You are grieved, you unique man, perhaps because the thread of your l i f e cannot be severed by the hand of time, which whi r l s around the cosmic clock-face l i k e a sharp sword, never ceasing to murder. You cannot die u n t i l the clock i t s e l f i s destroyed. But think of the brig h t side of your s i t u a t i o n . I t w i l l be very funny and worth your while to be the only spectator to watch t h i s tragi-comedy, t h i s h i s t o r y of the world, u n t i l the l a s t act. On the Last Day, as the only survivor of the f l o o d , you can stand on the l a s t mountain peak, amuse you r s e l f by w h i s t l i n g and stomping at the whole f a r c e , and f i n a l l y h u r l y o u r s e l f i n t o the -34-abyss, w i l d and angry l i k e a second Prometheus." " I ' l l whistle a l l r i g h t , " the man said d e f i a n t l y , " i f only the author of the play hand't saddled me with a leading r o l e - I ' l l never forgive him f o r that." " A l l the better," I laughed. "We'll have a r e v o l t i n the play. The hero rebels against the playwright. A f t e r a l l , i t happens often enough i n the l i t t l e comedies a l l i m i t a t i n g the great comedy of l i f e . In the end, the hero grows l a r g e r than the author intended so that the l a t t e r can no longer c o n t r o l him. E t e r n a l wanderer, I'd l i k e to hear your story, so I can k i l l myself with laughter. I always laugh h e a r t i l y during a profound tragedy, just as I oc c a s i o n a l l y weep during a good comedy because the t r u l y great and profound must be approached from both extremes at once." *?I understand you, clown," the man said. "Right now, I f e e l mad enough to laugh and t e l l you the whole story. But by God, a si n g l e frown from you and I ' l l stop immediately." "Don't worry, my f r i e n d , " I said. " I ' l l help you laugh." He sat down among a marble family of knights praying at a grave and began. " Y o u ' l l agree i t ' s tedious to t e l l one's l i f e story l e i s u r e l y from chapter to chapter. I pr e f e r a c t i o n and so I ' l l present i t i n the form of a puppet play complete - 3 5 -with Harlequin - i t ' l l make my t a l e more graphic and amusing. F i r s t we have a Mozart symphony, played by amateur v i l l a g e musicians. This f i t s i n very w e l l with a ruined l i f e and elevates the mind by means of noble thoughts, while at the same time one wishes the f i d d l e - s c r a p i n g a l l to h e l l . Now Harlequin enters and excuses the d i r e c t o r of the play who has been p l a y i n g God and has given the most important r o l e s to the actors with the l e a s t t a l e n t . He mentions that such blunders have t h e i r good points i n -sofar as the performance w i l l be t e r r i b l y maudlin, which i s the f a t e of a l l great and t r a g i c material tackled by hack a r t i s t s . He concludes h i s speech with some inane remarks about l i f e and the nature of the age i n general, d e c l a r i n g that both have degenerated from comedy int o melodrama, and that one could cry rather than laugh about mankind, so that he himself has become a moral, sober buffoon appearing only i n t h i s noble genre i n which he has received much applause. Enter the puppets themselves. Two brothers without hearts embrace each other, and Harlequin laughs at the cla c k i n g of t h e i r arms and at t h e i r wooden k i s s i n t o which no l i f e w i l l come. One of the brothers plays the puppet p e r f e c t l y , t a l k i n g i n s t i f f sentences with long, dry periods i n a perfec t demonstration of prose s t y l e . The other -36-puppet, however, would l i k e to play a l i v e actor and f a l l s o c c a s i o n a l l y into poor iambics and rhymed end-syllables, and Harlequin nods h i s head and launches into a speech about the warmth of a puppet's f e e l i n g s and about the elegant d e l i v e r y of heroic poetry. In conclusion, the brothers pump each other's hand and e x i t . As an added a t t r a c t i o n between act s , Harlequin dances a solo, and then Mozart i s once more butchered by the v i l l a g e r s . The c u r t a i n r i s e s again. Two new puppets enter: Columbine and a page-boy who has opened a parasol over her head. She i s the primadonna of the puppet troupe and, without f l a t t e r i n g her, the formcutter's masterpiece. Her features are t r u l y Greek with a strong tendency toward i d e a l i z a t i o n . The brother who ta l k s i n prose now enters. He sees her, immediately s t r i k e s himself i n the place where h i s heart i s , and suddenly begins to gush verse, rhyming h i s endings and even using assonance u n t i l Columbine, completely t e r r i f i e d , f l e e s off-stage with her page-boy. He rushes a f t e r her, but since the d i r e c t o r has committed a blunder, he c o l l i d e s with Harlequin who a d - l i b s a very c r u e l , i r o n i c a l speech i n which he explains to the distraught puppet that h i s creator - namely the d i r e c t o r of the play - has no i n t e n t i o n of g i v i n g him the lady, and that t h i s w i l l make f o r a very funny play because the actions of a melancholy f o o l are always the most amusing part of - 3 7 -a comedy - i n r e p l y , the other puppet curses and i n h i s despair slanders even the d i r e c t o r u n t i l the audience i s i n tears with laughter. But at l a s t , he grasps at the hope of f i n d i n g her, and he decides to search at l e a s t the theatre. Harlequin accompanies him. In the t h i r d act, Columbine returns and f l i r t s with the second brother. They sing a tender duet and exchange r i n g s . An old, harassed Pantaloon a r r i v e s with a group of musicians who play gay music except that the notes are inaudible, which puzzles the audience. Everyone dances to the music, and Pantaloon ventures a few comments on music ap p r e c i a t i o n and defends the old t a l e about notes being frozen at the North-pole and thawing and becoming audible only i n the warm South. The play has become very strange, and impossibly to judge e i t h e r s e r i o u s l y or humorously - a few c r i t i c s among the audience think i t ' s u t t e r l y mad. F i n a l l y , the two love birds go to bed, just as Harle-quin and the f i r s t brother return. The puppet describes how he went from pole to pole without f i n d i n g Columbine, and i n despair declares he w i l l take h i s own l i f e . Harlequin opens a f l a p i n the puppet's breast and f i n d s to h i s sur-p r i s e that i t a c t u a l l y has a heart. The discovery shakes him so much that he can't help s p i l l i n g out some clever ideas. He i n s i s t s , f o r example, that everything i n l i f e , -38-pain as w e l l as joy, i s no more than i l l u s i o n , and that such i l l u s i o n s are forever a secret so that the puppets never suspect themselves of being fooled and exploited, but instead consider themselves important and legitimate human beings. E x c i t e d l y , he harangues the f i r s t brother, attempting to r e v e a l to him the true nature of puppets, but he contradicts himself constantly and a f t e r a long, r i d i -culous discourse f i n d s himself back where he started. In an aside to the audience, he laughs m a l i c i o u s l y , then makes h i s e x i t . In the fourth act, the two brothers meet, and as the one with the heart begins to speak, the soundless s t r a i n s of the previous act can be heard accompanying hi s words. The brother without the heart i s very confused. Harlequin j o i n s the two and comments on love, saying that i t i s hardly a heroic sentiment since i t doesn't contribute to the general good. He also demands that the d i r e c t o r remove love from the r e s t of the play and i n s t i l higher moral values i n h i s actors. And f i n a l l y , he demands a r e -examination of the human race and an urgently required overhaul of the world, and then he stubbornly i n s i s t s on being t o l d why he must play the f o o l i n f r o n t of an unknown audience. And now, a t r a g i c incident i s performed most i n e p t l y . The b e a u t i f u l Columbine appears, and as the brother - 3 9 -without the heart introduces her as h i s wife, the other sags to the f l o o r clumsily and h i t s h i s wooden head against a stone. The two lovers hasten off-stage to get assistance. But Harlequin helps him up, wipes the blood from h i s head, and asks him quite calmly to stop breaking h i s head over a stone and over the whole stupid a f f a i r since there i s no such thing as things i n themselves. Then he praises the d i r e c t o r f o r dispensing with Greek fate and introducing instead a new, moral philosophy of happy endings into the theatre. The l a s t act i s r e a l l y too absurd f o r words. F i r s t the musicians grind out s i l l y waltzes to soothe the minds, and then the puppet with the heart enters and r e s o r t s to syllogisms and sophisms to convince Columbine that the d i r e c t o r has mixed up the puppets, that her marriage i s therefore a mistake, and that she belongs to him because -the modern p l o t demands a happy ending. Columbine seems convinced, but her moral sense and her respect f o r the d i r e c t o r prevent her from co-operating. He despairs and threatens to abduct her. She pushes him away contemptuous-l y . He acts insane, batters h i s wooden head against the w a l l , and loads h i s verse with assonance. F i n a l l y he e x i t s , but not before he has hurled the handsome page-boy, who i s stumbling around s l e e p i l y i n h i s night gown, int o her room. He locks the door and storms away. -40-In a moment, he returns with h i s brother, who i s holding a sword, and who launches a short, wooden speech, and stabs f i r s t the page-boy, then Columbine, and f i n a l l y himself. The other brother stands s t i l l and wide-eyed among the three puppets now sprawling on the boards. With-out saying another word, he snatches the sword and attempts to run himself through to follow the others, but at that moment the wire, p u l l e d too e n e r g e t i c a l l y by the d i r e c t o r , snaps and h i s arm cannot complete the thrust and dangles u s e l e s s l y . At the same time, a strange voice sounds i n h i s throat, saying,"You must l i v e f orever!" Harlequin enters once more to comfort and calm the puppet, who i s c a r r y i n g on f a r too much, by saying that i t i s i d i o t i c f o r a puppet to r e f l e c t about himself since he's no more than a pawn to the f i t s and moods of the d i r e c t o r who can e a s i l y put him back into storage i f he pleases. He comments i n t e l l i g e n t l y on free w i l l and on the madness of puppet brains, d i s c u s s i n g the issues quite r e a l i s t i c a l l y - a l l i n an e f f o r t to explain that i t i s useless to take things s e r i o u s l y , because i n the l a s t a n a l y s i s l i f e i s a comedy i n which Harlequin alone can play a decent r o l e because he recognizes the play f o r what i t i s : a f a r c e . " Here the man ceased f o r a moment and then b l u r t e d out wildly,"There you have the whole c a r n i v a l performance -41-i n which I've played the "brother with the heart. I think i t ' s r i g h t to carve the story i n t o wood and to act i t out accordingly - I can be as blasphemous as I please without i n v i t i n g the c r i t i c i s m of m o r a l i s t s . Told my way, the t a l e appears sublimely unmotivated, just as i t was i n r e a l i t y , although we stupid creatures love to supply causal explanations f o r everything while the d i r e c t o r does no such thing, which accounts f o r the f a c t that he never s t r i k e s out mistaken r o l e s l i k e mine. For ages, I've t r i e d to leap out of the play and escape that d i r e c t o r , but he w i l l not l e t me go no matter how inventive my attempts at escape. The worst part i s my boredom, which plagues me more and more, f o r you must know that I've been pl a y i n g t h i s r o l e f o r centuries, and that I'm one of the I t a l i a n stock characters who never leave the theatre. I've t r i e d i n every way. F i r s t I surrendered myself to the law and confessed I was a c r i m i n a l and three times a murderer. They t r i e d me and pronounced t h e i r v e r d i c t : I was to stay a l i v e because my defense established that I hadn't ordered the assassinations i n c l e a r and unequi-v o c a l terms, and that therefore my crime was of a mental nature outside t h e i r j u r i s d i c t i o n . I cursed my defense counsel, and the r e s u l t was a mild slander s u i t , a f t e r which they l e t me go. I joined the army and missed not a s i n g l e b a t t l e , but -42-f a t e didn't write my name on a s i n g l e b u l l e t , and death embraced me on the b a t t l e f i e l d amidst a thousand dying s o l d i e r s and tore h i s l a u r e l s to share them with me. Yes, I even had to play a hero's r o l e i n the detestable drama of l i f e , and I cursed my immortality which f r u s t r a t e d me at every turn. A thousand times I have put the poisoned goblet to my l i p s , and a thousand times i t has f a l l e n from my hand before I could empty i t . Every midnight I step out of obscurity l i k e a f i g u r e on a clockface, to complete the murderous blow, and every night I step back again a f t e r the l a s t stroke, to re t u r n and disappear in t o e t e r n i t y l i k e the f i g u r e . I f only I knew where to f i n d the clockwork of time - I'd h u r l myself i n t o the wheels to tear i t apart or to be destroyed. I go mad t r y i n g to f u l f i l my ob-session, and i n despair I hatch a thousand plans to make my death poss i b l e - and then I suddenly look deep i n s i d e myself, in t o a bottomless abyss i n which time flows darkly l i k e a r i v e r that never d r i e s . And out of the black depths the word FOREVER echoes up, and I shudder and f l e e from myself, and yet I cannot escape." The man ended, and I longed to give t h i s sleepless wretch the healing draught with my own hand, the hemlock f o r which h i s fevered and red eyes longed i n v a i n . But I was a f r a i d that h i s obsession might abandon him at the -43-d e c i s i v e moment, that at the door of death he would suddenly love l i f e again, love i t f o r i t s very t r a n s i t o r i -ness. We are made up of such paradoxes: we love l i f e because we fear death, and we would hate to lose what we fea r . I could do nothing f o r him, and so I l e f t him to h i s madness and h i s destiny. -44-FIFTH NIGHTWATCH The l a s t nightwatch had l a s t e d a long time, with the r e s u l t that I had insomnia, l i k e the wandering stranger, and instead of snoring through the prosaic d a y l i g h t hours, a habit I had copied from the Spanish, who tre a t day as i f i t were night, I was forced to stay awake and to bore myself to death i n t h i s bourgeois l i f e , among a l l the wakeful sleepers. For lack of anything better to do, I tr a n s l a t e d my wil d , poetic night i n t o c l e a r and d u l l prose, I captured the l i f e of the madman on paper, supplying some motivation and an appearance of o b j e c t i v i t y , and had i t pr i n t e d , f o r the d e l i g h t and e d i f i c a t i o n of a l l the clever daywalkers. A c t u a l l y , the w r i t i n g was an attempt to put myself to sleep, and I planned to proof-read my opus during tonight's watch because I could hardly face d a y l i g h t and prose combined f o r a second time. Everything has worked out accordingly to plan, as -45-follows: The home of Don Juan was f i e r y , passionate Spain, where every tree and man t h r i v e s more wantonly and where l i f e i s more f i e r c e l y c o l o u r f u l . Don Juan, however, seemed transplanted into t h i s perpetual spring l i k e a Northern g l a c i e r - he was cold and severe. Yet i t seemed that sometimes an earthquake trembled beneath h i s f e e t , and men were a f r a i d and avoided him. His brother Don Ponce, on the other hand, was as mild as a v i r g i n , and had a manner of speech which flowed and wreathed i t s e l f around- everything so that he s t r o l l e d through l i f e as i f through a magic garden wrapped i n green. The world adored him, and Juan himself did not exact-l y hate him - he merely resented h i s manner of speech, which choked a l l that i s stark and noble i n needless f l o u r i s h e s and excessive ornamentation i n order to fashion a more delectable world, not unl i k e hack poets who garnish nature a second time rather than to create a new world through t h e i r own e f f o r t s . The two l i v e d without regard f o r each other, and whenever they embraced, i t was as i f two corpses stood supporting each other: t h e i r hearts were cold, possessed neither by love nor hatred. Ponce held the simpering mask of love i n f r o n t of h i s face, but h i s hollow speeches lacked the f r i e n d l y banter and roughness of brother-talk. -46-In r e p l y , Don Juan grew more b r i t t l e , more reserved, and the austere North blew de s t r u c t i o n i n t o the mild South, and the a r t i f i c i a l flowers shed t h e i r p e t a l s r a p i d l y . Pate seemed incensed at the i n d i f f e r e n c e i n the brothers' hearts and malignantly sowed hate and chaos i n t h e i r path. Scorning love, they might reach each other as enemies. It was i n S e v i l l e , where Juan was watching a b u l l -f i g h t , with great boredom. His glances strayed from the arena toward the rows of spectators and were captivated l e s s by the l i v e l y crowd than by the imaginative decorat-ions and embroidered rugs which covered the balustrades. He noticed a box that was s t i l l empty and watched i t , without any r e a l i n t e r e s t , perhaps hoping that here the c u r t a i n was about to r i s e on the r e a l drama of the day. At l a s t , a s i n g l e noble woman wrapped deep i n a black m a n t i l l a appeared, followed by a d a z z l i n g page-boy who protected her against the heat with a parasol. She stood very s t i l l i n the box, and across from her, Juan stood equally s t i l l . He f e l t as i f an important secret of h i s l i f e were hidden behind that v e i l , but at the same time he dreaded the moment the v e i l would be l i f t e d as though i t might r e v e a l the bloody ghost of a Banquo. F i n a l l y the moment came and the m a n t i l l a opened to r e v e a l an enchanting feminine f i g u r e l i k e a white l i l y . - 4 7 -Her cheeks were l i f e l e s s , and her pale l i p s were closed; she seemed the portentous p i c t u r e of a wonderful, other-worldly being rather than a woman of f l e s h and blood. Juan experienced both a deep t e r r o r and passionate love. A chaos uncoiled w i t h i n him, but a s i n g l e , loud cry was a l l that escaped him. The woman stared at him sharply and l e f t , at the same time throwing the m a n t i l l a back over her face. Juan hastened to f i n d her. He combed S e v i l l e -without success. Terror and love drove him away from the c i t y , and back again, but i n rare moments he often saw the ins t a n t i n which he would f i n d her, both dreadful and longed f o r ; he struggled to hold on to h i s premonition, i f only once, i n order to understand i t , but i t flowed past him qu i c k l y l i k e a nocturnal dream and when he found him-s e l f back i n r e a l i t y , i t was once more darkness, and h i s mind was empty. Three times he journeyed through Spain without meeting the wan face which had shone int o h i s l i f e so l e t h a l and lo v i n g . F i n a l l y , homesickness drove him back to S e v i l l e , and the f i r s t man he met was Don Ponce. Each was disturbed at the sight of the other; they had become so estranged as to be puzzles to each other. Juan's s e v e r i t y had vanished: he was on f i r e , a volcano whose inner flame had at l a s t burst through i t s thousand -48-ancient layers of rock; but now i t seemed a l l the more dangerous i n h i s proximity. Ponce's mildness, on the other hand, had turned austere, and he seemed frozen beside h i s brother. A l l the f a l s e t i n s e l had dropped away from h i s l i f e so that he stood l i k e a tree reaching naked branches int o the sky, robbed of i t s vernal glory. The same l i g h t n i n g that s t r i k e s a f o r e s t , to f i l l the horizon with flames f o r a thousand nights, might b l a s t only s u p e r f i c i a l l y across a moor to score and whither sparse flowers without showing a t r a c e . With cold courtesy, Ponce i n v i t e d Don Juan to h i s home, to introduce him to h i s wife. Juan accepted l i s t l e s s -l y . I t was s i e s t a time; the brothers walked into a vine -covered p a v i l i o n - and there Juan's pale v i s i o n rested q u i e t l y , leaning against a sarcophagus, beside a statue of Death whose inverted torch touched her breast. Juan stood rooted to the ground: h i s dark forebodings rose up into h i s consciousness and did not sink back as before, and everything grew t e r r i b l y c l e a r , l i k e Oedipus' secret as i t was suddenly unravelled. His senses f l e d and he slumped unconscious against a stone. When he awoke, he found himself forsaken except f o r the s i l e n t page-boy, who had stayed behind to attend him. With turmoil and r e v o l t i n s i d e him, he rushed out int o the open. Around him, the world seemed changed now. The past had returned and a grey destiny had roused i t s e l f from sleep to r u l e over heaven and earth once again. Like Orestes, he f e l t himself pursued at every turn by a Fury who parted her snake h a i r to d i s p l a y her f a i r face m a l i c i o u s l y . When business forced Ponce to leave S e v i l l e f o r some time, Don Juan crawled out of hi d i n g l i k e a c r i m i n a l a f r a i d of the l i g h t . In h i s soul, everything was f i x e d and deter-mined, but he f l e d h i s own company so that he would not have to take account against himself. A secret to himself, he sought out Ponce's estate and entered the room of Dona Ines: she recognized him at once and, f o r the f i r s t time, the white rose bloomed red and ardent - love animated Pygmalion's cold statue. The evening sun shone red through the trees and Ines, i n innocence, blamed the f i r e s of heaven f o r her blushes. Trembling, she reached f o r her harp, and as Juan accompanied her on the f l u t e , t h e i r forbidden conversation without words began, and the notes confessed and answered love. So i t stayed, u n t i l Juan grew bolder, scorned the mystic hieroglyph, and revealed h i s b e a u t i f u l , mysterious s i n i n c l e a r language. Then and there, the t w i l i g h t trance l e f t the innocent woman, and only now did she seem to recognize everything around her as i f through a h o s t i l e glow of torches, and f o r the f i r s t time s h i v e r i n g and -50-t e r r i f i e d , she said h i s name," Brother!" At the same moment, the sun went down, and the face that had just heen i l l u m i n a t e d was now as pale as before. Juan stood s i l e n c e d . Ines rang the b e l l and as the page-boy, as perfec t as a god of love, entered the room, he l e f t . I t was black i n the f o r e s t outside, and he stumbled aiml e s s l y . Suddenly, Don Ponce appeared before him. Juan p u l l e d h i s dagger and stabbed w i l d l y - h i s v i s i o n faded. The dagger stuck deep i n a tree trunk. Only i n h i s dreams had he murdered h i s brother. Ponce f i n a l l y returned, but Ines did not re v e a l Juan's secret. She h i d love and s i n deep i n her breast. Juan learned to loathe the da y l i g h t , and he began to l i v e only f o r the night: the things w i t h i n him were l i g h t - s h y and dangerous. As soon as night f e l l , he crept toward Ponce's estate and spied at Ines' window, but as soon as dawn came, he l e f t w i l d l y and grudgingly. One night, he saw Ines with her page-boy i n the lamp l i g h t , and h i s imagination whispered that she had re j e c t e d him f o r the boy, and that she devoted a l l her sweet night hours s e c r e t l y to him. With savage jealousy, he swore death to the boy and resolved to k i l l him as soon as p o s s i b l e . As he kept watch, he saw that the l i g h t i n her room never faded, and he imagined the boy always at her side. Trembling with rage and love - S i -he waited u n t i l midnight and then crept toward the entrance of the house, half-mad and out of c o n t r o l , and found i t only p a r t l y closed. With uncertain, t o t t e r i n g steps, he reached her door, gave i t a quick push, and swung i t open. She was sleeping q u i e t l y , as i f she were s t i l l leaning against the sarcophagus. Her night gown billowed s o f t l y , and her h a i r had wrapped i t s e l f i n garlands around the s t r i n g s of the harp against her breast. I n v o l u n t a r i l y , the name of h i s brother escaped Juan's l i p s , and he suddenly thought he saw i n her the Fury who had separated them, and the locks which framed the b e a u t i f u l face seemed to change in t o a nest of v i p e r s . Then she became the woman of h i s love again, and beyond s e l f - c o n t r o l , he sank down at her fe e t and pressed h i s fevered l i p s to her breast. She staggered up s t a r t l e d , recognized him i n the glow of the lamp, and pushed him away from h e r s e l f with a v i o l e n t thrust, her eyes f i l l e d with t e r r o r and r e v u l s i o n . For a moment, t h i s s i n g l e glance crushed him, but h i s demon took hold and he rushed away, not knowing what he was about to do - the bloody plan was hidden too deeply i n h i s mind. Roused by a l l the noise, the page-boy stumbled s l e e p i l y from h i s quarters i n the f r o n t room, and Juan grasped him and said quickly,"Your mistress wants you at her side; she wants to go to early mass!" The boy rubbed -52-hi s eyes and Juan watched him u n t i l he had vanished into her room. Fate had planned the catastrophe w e l l : Don Juan found h i s brother's room, roused him from h i s f i r s t sleep, and revealed to him h i s wife's adultery. Ponce arose quickly, demanding more explanations, but Juan prodded him along the h a l l s and pressed a dagger into h i s hand. He pushed Ponce into her room. Then, a dead calm surrounded Don Juan. His teeth chattering, he stood t e r r i f i e d and alone i n the night and searched f r e n z i e d l y f o r the dagger he had just given to h i s brother. And now chaos f i l l e d the night. Now there came a noise, and the door crashed open on i t s hinges. The lamp i l l u m i n a t e d the dreadful nightscene. The page-boy sprawled dead on the f l o o r and a r i v e r of blood spouted from Ines' breast, c l i n g i n g to her snow-white v e i l l i k e a wreath of roses. Juan stood l i k e a statue. Ines looked at him, but her pale l i p s were closed, and she revealed nothing. A profound sleep touched her eyes tenderly. As she died, Ponce was the f i r s t to awake f u l l y , and he seemed r e a l l y to love her f o r the f i r s t time now because he had l o s t love, and to f e e l love i n his heart only so he could pierce i t . S i l e n t l y , he married her once again. Don Juan stood mute and insane among the dead. SIXTH NIGHTWATCH What I wouldn't give f o r the g i f t of organizing and p o l i s h i n g a story l i k e other honest Protestant poets and pamphleteers who i n so doing have made t h e i r fame and glory and have traded i n t h e i r golden v i s i o n s f o r golden r e a l i t i e s I don't have the t a l e n t , however, and t h i s short, simple t a l e of murder has cost me sweat and t o i l enough though i t s t i l l looks unpolished and confused. Unfortunately, the years of my youth were wasted - I was a flower nipped i n the hud. Unlike other educated youths and promising youngsters who allowed themselves to become ever more sensible and cle v e r , I f o r my part always had a s p e c i a l l i k i n g f o r madness, and I have t r i e d to create w i t h i n myself absolute disorder so that, l i k e the good Lord, I might f i r s t complete a good and en t i r e state of chaos out of which to fashion a passable world l a t e r on, whenever I f e l t l i k e i t . Yes, i n strained states of mind, I often think that man has botched chaos i t s e l f by -54-fashioning lav/ and order much too soon, so that nothing has ever heen put i n i t s r i g h t place, and I wish the Creator would soon dismiss and erase t h i s world as a f a i l e d system. This obsession has often l e d me into trouble. Once i t nearly cost me my 30b when during the l a s t hour of the century, I decided to a n t i c i p a t e Judgement Day and, instead of c a l l i n g out the time, c a l l e d out the end of the world. The f i r s t r e s u l t was that c l e r i c a l and worldly gentlemen a l i k e flew out of t h e i r beds, embarrassed by and unprepared f o r such an unexpected event. The spectacle of t h i s f a l s e alarm, of which I happened to be the only calm spectator among a crowd serving me as impassioned actors, was highly e n t e r t a i n i n g . The frenzy and h y s t e r i a of the people was worth seeing. A r i s t o c r a t s thronged together and t r i e d desperately to organize them-selves according to rank i n preparation f o r meeting t h e i r Lord. A pack of lawyers and other sorts of wolves t r i e d to jump out of t h e i r skin by s t r u g g l i n g f i e r c e l y to change in t o sheep, f l i n g i n g huge pensions at widows and orphans who ran around i n t e r r o r , p u b l i c l y revoking unjust con-v i c t i o n s , and promising to repay, r i g h t a f t e r Judgement Day, a l l the money which they had extorted and which had reduced some poor d e v i l s to beggary. A host of blood-suckers and vampires denounced themselves worthy of being -55-f i r s t hanged and then beheaded, i n s i s t i n g that the sentence be c a r r i e d out immediately, so that they would escape punishment from a higher hand. The proudest man i n the sta t e , h i s crown i n h i s hand, stood humble and almost crawled to trade compliments with a pauper, because the dawn of a u n i v e r s a l brotherhood suddenly seemed a p o s s i b i l i t y . High o f f i c e s were abandoned, ribbons and medals were torn o f f by t h e i r unworthy owners and shepherds of the soul vowed solemnly to provide t h e i r f l o c k not only with good words, but also with a good example i f only the Lord would l e t them o f f t h i s time. I t i s hard to describe how the people on the stage before me ran around i n the utmost confusion, praying, cursing, lamenting, and howling i n t h e i r t e r r o r ; how sudden-l y every face of t h i s grand b a l l l o s t i t s mask, r e v e a l i n g kings i n pauper's clothes and vic e versa, and weaklings i n kni g h t l y armour, demonstrating the eternal paradox between man and h i s clothes. I was delighted to note that the crowd, i n t h e i r mortal f e a r , hardly noticed the tardiness of heaven's j u s t i c e : the whole c i t y found time to uncover i t s v i r t u e s and v i c e s before me, i t s humblest c i t i z e n . Only one atrocious youth, plagued by so much boredom that he had already resolved not to enter the new century, committed a stroke of genius by shooting himself during the old one, -56-to determine whether death was s t i l l p o ssible -in t h i s moment of i n d i f f e r e n c e between dying and r e s u r r e c t i o n because he f e l t no desire to carry h i s boredom d i r e c t l y over i n t o e t e r n i t y with him. Apart from myself, the only other calm person was the poet at h i s window. He stared down d e f i a n t l y i n t o t h i s Michelangelo p a i n t i n g , contemplating the end of the world p o e t i c a l l y from h i s Olympian heights. Not f a r from me an astronomer f i n a l l y remarked that the great moment had been prolonged too long, and that the flaming sword i n the North might be the Northern Lights instead of the sword of J u s t i c e . At t h i s d e c i s i v e moment, when some wretches were already t r y i n g to l i f t t h e i r heads again, I thought i t necessary to prolong t h e i r remorse somewhat by means of a short, e d i f y i n g speech. "Fellow c i t i z e n s . A star-gazer can hardly be considered a competent judge of t h i s event - the awful phenomenom that f i l l s our sky can't simply be taken f o r an i n s i g n i f i c a n t comet. Rather does i t appear only once i n the h i s t o r y of the world. Therefore, l e t us not abandon our solemn mood so l i g h t l y , but l e t us make some important observations relevant to our existence. "On t h i s Day of Judgement, nothing could i n t e r e s t us more than a l a s t look at t h i s planet trembling beneath our fe e t , the planet that i s about to collapse with a l l i t s -57-Edens and dungeons, i t s madhouses and i t s centres of lea r n i n g . In t h i s f i n a l hour, now that we end the world's h i s t o r y , l e t us review s h o r t l y how we have c a r r i e d on and what we have accomplished since we emerged from chaos. Since Adam, a multitude of years has passed - unless we accept the calendar of the Chinese - and what have we achieved? I say - nothing. "Don't gape at me l i k e that; today i s not a time f o r self-importance. Let us r i s e above ourselves and p r a c t i c e h umility. " T e l l me, how w i l l you face your creator, my brothers, r u l e r s , usurers, warriors, murderers, c a p i t a l i s t s , thieves, c i v i l servants, j u r i s t s , theologians, philosophers^ f o o l s , and whatever else your trade and profession might be -because today no-one dare absent himself from t h i s assembly, although I see some of you would gladly take to your heels. Give t r u t h i t s due! What have you done that was worth a l l the e f f o r t ? "You philosophers, f o r example, have you ever said anything more important than that you d i d not know what to say - the e s s e n t i a l and most enlightening statement of a l l philosophies to date! You scholars, what has your l e a r n i n g brought except a decay and evaporation of the human s p i r i t , u n t i l f i n a l l y you can expend your time and your simple -minded self-importance on the remaining 'caput mortuum'. -58-You t h e o l o g i a n s , t r y i n g to be counted among the members of heaven's court by o g l i n g a t and fawning on God, what have you done except organize the e a r t h i n t o a den of c u t -t h r o a t s by d r i v i n g men apart i n s t e a d of u n i t i n g them, by hacking them i n t o s e c t s so t h a t you have t o r n asunder u n i v e r s a l brotherhood and the f a m i l y . And what have you done, you j u r i s t s , you half-men who should be of one f l e s h w i t h the t h e o l o g i a n s but i n s t e a d became separated from them at some accursed hour to condemn men's bodies as the t h e o l o g i a n s condemn t h e i r s o u l s ? The two of you meet a g a i n only a t the g a l l o w s , shaking hands i n f r o n t of the d a n g l i n g s i n n e r , and the hangman of the body and the hangman of the s o u l stand d i g n i f i e d beside each other. "What a m i to say of you, you men of s t a t e , you who have reduced men to mechanical p r i n c i p l e s ? W i l l you s u r -v i v e a heavenly i n s p e c t i o n w i t h your p o l i t i c a l maxims? And how w i l l you comfort the hollow men who stumble beside you through e t e r n i t y ? - you knew only how to use t h e i r s h e l l s , because you k i l l e d t h e i r s p i r i t . And what about the s o l i t a r y g i a n t s among you, the r u l e r s and k i n g s who pay w i t h men i n s t e a d of c o i n s , c o n t r a c t i n g a d r e a d f u l s l a v e -trade w i t h death? "I've watched you, and I've grown angry. As I see you, c r a w l i n g a l o n g w i t h your dubious v i r t u e s and m e r i t s , I'd l o v e to be the D e v i l f o r j u s t one hour on t h i s Judgement - 5 9 -Day, i f only to shake you with more v i o l e n t speeches. "The f i n a l act i s s t i l l delayed to give you time to repent. So go ahead, pray and howl, you hypocrites, just as you always do before death, when your mistaken l i f e no longer has a purpose, when you've become incapable of more sinning. "The h i s t o r y of the world l i e s behind you l i k e a f o o l i s h novel, with a few acceptable and innumerable hope-l e s s characters. God made only one mistake i n that he didn't c o l l a b o r a t e , but l e f t you to write i t y o u r s e l f . T e l l me, w i l l he consider i t worthwhile to t r a n s l a t e your botched c r e a t i o n i n t o a higher language, or i s n ' t i t more l i k e l y when he sees i t l y i n g before him i n a l l i t s shallowness tha;t h e ' l l tear i t apart i n wrath and assign you and your plans to ob l i v i o n ? I can't see any other way. Can any of you j u s t i f i a b l y make a claim e i t h e r to heaven or h e l l ? For the one you are too wicked, f o r the other too boring. "The solemn deed i s s t i l l delayed, but I beseech you not to r e l a x . Forge ahead, into c o n t r i t i o n , before the world c o l l a p s e s . I ' l l give you the best reason f o r doing so: the Lord once spared Sodom and Gomorrha because of one righteous man, and you might be in s o l e n t enough to think that He w i l l harbour a planet f u l l of hypocrites because of a few reasonably pious men. Can any of you o f f e r a sensible suggestion as to where He should place you? The -60-l a t e Kant explained some time ago that time and space are merely products of the senses. You know that neither e x i s t s i n the v/orld of e t e r n i t y , and I ask you - how w i l l you f i n d room where no room i s , i f you have l i v e d only through your l u s t i n g senses? What w i l l you do when time comes to an end? Even when applied to your greatest scholars and poets, immortality i s no more than an empty l a b e l . What does i t mean to poor wretches l i k e you who have dealt with nothing except earthly goods and who know nothing of the s p i r i t except the s p i r i t of wine, through which your poets induce an experience akin to i n s p i r a t i o n . - Just l e t one of you f i n d a l i k e l y s o l u t i o n ; f o r by the D e v i l , I don't know where to put you." I noted a disturbance i n the crowd before me and c l e a r l y heard some youthful fr e e t h i n k e r s (nowadays synonymous with non-thinkers) declare b o l d l y that the a f f a i r was only a f a l s e alarm. The king had already put h i s crown back on hi s head, and the f i r s t reeve, who had previously denounced himself, now spouted a n g r i l y that anyone who played the f o o l with the whole c i t y should be punished severely, and that I was the chief c u l p r i t . I gave up now and asked only f o r one more moment of si l e n c e by appealing to the king, saying," A Judgement Day speech l i k e t h i s could be u s e f u l even i f i t were merely a f a l s e alarm - f o r the sake of government, i t would be -61-nice to h u r l l i g h t n i n g from every peak and tower r e g u l a r l y , with the help of some p h y s i c a l experiments and a few hundred-weights of gun powder, i n order to mount such a phantasmagoric preview of Judgement Day that the king, who i s by no means omniscient, could organize a general r e v i s i o n of h i s state now and again. He could examine the govern-ment i n i t s natural naked state and view i t s diseases, because u s u a l l y i t i s presented to him only on parade, or clothed deceptively by the state's t a i l o r s and Jews who adorn the f a v o u r i t e s and the advisors. Yes, I myself, as the o r i g i n a l inventor of t h i s government experiment, demand a patent on my invention so that I can put the p r o f i t s of these pseudo-Judgement Days - p r o f i t s l i k e the blessings of poor souls r a i s e d again and the curses of s a i n t s suddenly f a l l e n - into my meagre purse." Gathering courage from the s i l e n c e around me, I even dared to suggest that :I had already mounted such a preview by means of my alarm, and that now i t would not be amiss to s t a r t r e p a i r s and to straighten up the t i l t e d house of state with a few replacements i n o f f i c e s , executions, etc. Nobody spoke at f i r s t when I was f i n i s h e d , and the king shoved h i s crown back and f o r t h on h i s head as i f un-decided what to do. But i n the end, my invention was r e j e c t e d as u n f e a s i b l e , and i t was by mercy alone that I was merely -62-regarded as a f o o l and that I was not punished with the l o s s of my job. To insure that I would never again sound a f a l s e alarm, a cabinet order implemented the use of the night-clock invented by Samuel Day, so that from a singing and trumpeting watchman I was reduced to a s i l e n t one because, i t was a l l e g e d , my blowing and singing gave me away to thieves and therefore must be abolished as unfunctional. Consequently, the day-thieves are removed from my v i g i l and I wander q u i e t l y and sadly through the empty s t r e e t s , banging my card i n t o the night-clock every hour. I t ' s unbelievable how my s i l e n c e has improved everybody's sleep. Those secret sinners who once s l e p t f i t f u l l y , a f r a i d of Judgement Day, are now no longer disturbed by my Last Trump. They snore soundly i n t h e i r p i l l o w s . These night-clocks are so constructed that the watchman must s t i c k a s l i p of paper into a s l o t , which moves forward and becomes ac c e s s i b l e only at c e r t a i n hours, i n order f o r him to prove that he has made h i s regular rounds. In the morning, a p o l i c e o f f i c e r unlocks the clock to see i f there i s a s l i p of paper i n each s l o t . SEVENTH NIGHTWATCH I've got onto the subject of my madnesses, but my l i f e has been the worst i n s a n i t y of a l l , and since I'm no longer allowed to spend my time singing and tooting, I might as w e l l continue with my l i f e story tonight. S i t t i n g i n front of the mirror of my imagination, I have often t r i e d to construct a passable s e l f - p o r t r a i t , but I've always ended up by smashing my f i s t i nto the r e f l e c t i o n because I f i n a l l y recognized i t as a t r i c k p a i n t i n g d e p i c t i n g a Grace, a monkey and seen from the f r o n t , a d e v i l , a l l depending on v/hich angle I was viewing from. F i n a l l y , I grew so confused about myself that to explain the ultimate reason f o r my existence, I have concluded hypo-t h e t i c a l l y that one dark night the D e v i l himself crept bet-ween the sheets of a newly canonized woman and wrote me down as a 'lex c r u c i a t a ' f o r our dear Lord, so that He would go out of His mind puzzling about me on Judgement Day. -64-This damned c o n t r a d i c t i o n i n my nature has got so f a r out of hand that the Pope himself couldn't be more devout i n h i s prayers than I am i n my blasphemy, since whenever I happen to be reading a morally e d i f y i n g book, I can't help making malicious marginal notes. While other i n t e l l i g e n t and s e n s i t i v e people wander out into nature to b u i l d themselves p o e t i c a l tabernacles and Tabor huts, I c o l l e c t the most durable and exquisite b u i l d i n g materials f o r a madhouse int o which I long to throw poets and prose w r i t e r s a l i k e . Several times I've been chased out of churches because I went there to laugh, and out of whore-houses because I went there to pray. Only one conclusion i s p o s s i b l e : e i t h e r the world i s mad, or I am. I f the voice of the majority decides, I am l o s t . Whatever the case, and whether my features are ugly or handsome, I w i l l continue to delineate them f o r a while. I won't paint a f l a t t e r i n g p i c t u r e , f o r I am p a i n t i n g at night and can't use bright colours and must l i m i t myself to strong shades and hues. I f i r s t made a modest reputation f o r myself with a few poetic pamphlets which I launched from the shop of my shoemaker. The f i r s t one was a f u n e r a l sermon which I wrote to celebrate the b i r t h of h i s son. I can remember only the beginning, which went something l i k e t h i s : "There they are preparing him f o r h i s f i r s t c o f f i n -65-u n t i l they've f i n i s h e d the second one on which a l l h i s deeds and misdeeds w i l l be i n s c r i b e d , just as the corpses of kings are placed f i r s t i n a temporary box and l a t e r i n a casket covered with trophies and i n s c r i p t i o n s which i s c a r r i e d to a tomb where the body i s c o f f i n e d f o r a second time. I beg you to d i s t r u s t the shimmer of l i f e and the roses on the cheeks of t h i s c h i l d - that's nature's way of preserving the embalmed body i n a state resembling l i f e , l i k e a s k i l l e d doctor; i n s i d e , decay i s already gnawing and i f you were to open up his. innards, you would see worms growing from seeds of joy and pain, worms which gnaw quick l y so that the corpse f a l l s to dust. He l i v e d only before he was born, just as happiness l i v e s .only i n hope -as soon as i t becomes r e a l , i t destroys i t s e l f . Right now, they are parading him on h i s bed, but the flowers which you toss on him are autumnal flowers f o r h i s shroud. In the distance, the coffin-bearers are already preparing to carry him away with a l l h i s joys, and earth i s making.: ready her v a u l t to receive him. Everywhere, only death and decay are s t r e t c h i n g out t h e i r arms greed i l y , to consume him l i t t l e by l i t t l e , to f i n a l l y r e s t on h i s empty tomb, t i r e d from a l l t h e i r murdering when his pains, h i s joys, hi s memories and h i s dust are swept away. By that time, nature w i l l already have used h i s ashes to nourish flowers f o r new corpses." -I have forgotten the r e s t of the speech. Everybody -66-praised i t but sa i d that the t i t l e seemed an error, since obviously I was t a l k i n g about death instead of b i r t h - so my o r a t i o n was used at several children's f u n e r a l s . A young author has enormous obstacles to cope with since he can become known only through h i s works. An esta-b l i s h e d and applauded w r i t e r , on the other hand, can t h r i v e by means of h i s name alone; people r a r e l y admit that great poets and great heroes have t h e i r off-days during which they b r i n g to the l i g h t of day poems and deeds which are often worse than the worst work of other mediocre t a l e n t s . Height and depth are never f a r apart, and only the man on the l e v e l p l a i n has no fear of f a l l i n g . I, however, was pursued by good fortune, and soon I was given more rhymes to hammer together than shoes, so that we were able to hang out the old Hans Sachs sign over the shop door again, thereby amalgamating two a r t s important to the state. And since I was paid almost as much f o r a poem as f o r a shoe, my shoemaker was pleased and allowed my disreputable trade to l i v e p e a c e f u l l y beside h i s respectable one. Thus my Delphic t r i a d stood beside h i s three-legged l a s t . I think Providence has done a sensible thing i n con-f i n i n g many people to a narrow, p i t i f u l sphere of a c t i o n between four walls, where t h e i r l i g h t can glimmer only feebly i n the musty dungeon a i r , i l l u m i n a t i n g ' nothing but - 6 7 -the p r i s o n i t s e l f . The same l i g h t flaming i n freedom might burst f o r t h l i k e a volcano and set the world on f i r e . As f o r myself, I began to sparkle and spark at an ear l y age, but my l i g h t consisted only of f l a r e s which il l u m i n a t e d the t e r r a i n rather than bombs to ravage and devastate i t . Sometimes dreadful t e r r o r would take hold of me and I f e l t l i k e a giant who has been walled up i n a low room as a c h i l d and who grows and expands only to discover that h i s b r a i n i s slowly being crushed by the c e i l i n g , that he i s being compressed into a deformed c r e t i n . I f such men could break out of t h e i r dungeons, they would r i s e as enemies of mankind - they would f a l l upon men l i k e a plague, an earthquake or a hurricane, and rub open a good p o r t i o n of the planet and burn i t to powder. But we guard these sons ' of Enak c l o s e l y , and mountains have been placed on top of them as on top of the Titan s , and they can do nothing underneath except shake themselves f u r i o u s l y . Their f u e l burns out slowly, and very seldom do they succeed i n f r e e i n g themselves and h u r l i n g t h e i r f i r e s at heaven. I, however, threw the populace into turmoil merely with my fireworks, and a s u p e r f i c i a l s a t i r i c a l speech, purporting to be by an ass wondering why asses must e x i s t at a l l , caused a sensation. I had nothing serious i n mind, by God, and the whole thing was di r e c t e d at everyone i n general, but a s a t i r e i s l i k e a touchstone: every metal -68-you touch i t with, leaves behind a mark of i t s value or i t s worthlessness; and so i t was here too - *** read my work and thought that every word applied to him. I was thrown in t o the tower, where I had l o t s of time to grow angrier. I discovered, i n c i d e n t a l l y , that my hatred f o r man i s l i k e that of kings, who favour the i n d i v i d u a l man only to destroy him i n whole armies. F i n a l l y , they l e t me go when the unknown payments to keep me i n p r i s o n stopped, and because my old shoemaker had died I was a l l alone i n the world, as i f I had f a l l e n from another planet. Now I saw c l e a r l y how man no longer counts as a man and how man has no possessions other than those which he buys or wins i n b a t t l e . I t enraged me that beggars and vagabonds and other wretches l i k e me had surrendered t h e i r law of the sword, g i v i n g i t - i n s t e a d to the kings who exercised i t on a mass scale as t h e i r r o y a l p r i v i l e g e . I could not f i n d a sin g l e piece of earth f o r myself - they had divided every part among themselves, ignoring the law of nature, the only p o s i t i v e and u n i v e r s a l law, and pushing t h e i r own s p e c i a l r i g h t s and b e l i e f s i n t o every nook and cramry remaining. In Sparta, they praised the t h i e f who s t o l e best, and next door i n Athens they hanged him. I saw that they had seized a l l of nature's free and common property short of the birds i n the sky and the f i s h - 6 9 -i n the water, and that I would never he granted as much as a s i n g l e seed unless I paid f o r i t . Yet I had to do some-thing to stave o f f s t a r v a t i o n , so I took up the f i r s t trade which enabled me to sing about them and t h e i r schemes - I became a singer l i k e the b l i n d Homer, who was also forced to make h i s l i v i n g as a m i n s t r e l . I had learned that people love blood above everything e l s e , and that when they are not s p i l l i n g i t themselves, they adore watching i t flow elsewhere i n paintings and poems and i n r e a l l i f e , p r e f e r a b l y i n the form of great b a t t l e s . So I began to e n t e r t a i n them with murder s t o r i e s and I made a good l i v i n g . Before long, I even came to consider myself a b e n e f i c i a l member of the state, the equal of fencing masters, gunpowder m i l l e r s , munition makers, ministers of war, doctors, and so on, a l l of whom apparently worked hand i n hand with death, and I began to think h i g h l y of myself since I t r i e d m i g h t i l y to harden my l i s t e n e r s and students and to inure them to a l l manner of blood and gore. Eventually, however, I grew t i r e d of l i t t l e murder s t o r i e s and hazarded some more ambitious pieces, such as s p i r i t u a l assassinations rigged by Church and State, f o r which I derived good material from h i s t o r y . Occasionally, I would add d e l i g h t f u l i n t e r l u d e s , such as: Honour butchered by malicious Rumour, Love a n n i h i l a t e d by c o l d -hearted youths, Loyalty s l a i n by f a l s e f r i e n d s , J u s t i c e -70-murdered by law-courts, Reason k i l l e d by Censorship, and so on. And t h i s l e d to trouble - I was suddenly confronted with more than f i f t y charges of slander. I appeared i n court, as my own d e v i l ' s advocate; h a l f a dozen men sat around a table i n f r o n t of me, holding t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l masks of j u s t i c e before t h e i r faces to hide t h e i r own comic physiognomies and the second h a l f of t h e i r Hogarth faces. These men understand the a r t of Rubens, h i s s k i l l i n changing a laughing face in t o a crying visage at a s i n g l e stroke, and they employ h i s technique as soon as they lower themselves in t o t h e i r c h a i r s , so that nobody might ever be tempted to confuse them with the sinners they are about to judge. A f t e r having been issued a stern warning to t e l l the t r u t h regarding the charges l a i d against me, I began: "Your honours! I stand before you accused of slander, and a l l the evidence points against me. But I would l i k e to count you, your honours, among my evidence, because i t i s not only objects such as crov/bars and thieves' ladders, which h i n t at s p e c i f i c crimes, that should be considered 'corpora d e l i c t i ' , but also objects such as human beings, whose bodies house crime. I t wouldn't be a bad idea i f you were acquainted with crime not only i n theory, but also i n p r a c t i c e . Many poets, f o r example, complain b i t t e r l y that t h e i r c r i t i c s are incapable of w r i t i n g a sing l e decent -71-verse, "but that they nevertheless judge poetry - so what would you say, your honours, i f a t h i e f , a d u l t e r e r , or some other such scoundrel whom you planned to judge, gave you a s i m i l a r nut to crack and refused to acknowledge you as competent i n h i s f i e l d since you have never p r a c t i c e d h i s profession. "In f a c t , i t seems to me that the law has recognized i t s own shortcomings and has therefore made arrangements to absolve you of many crimes you commit. For example, you may strangle with cords, hack with swords, and smash with clubs; you may burn, sack, quarter, torture and bury a l i v e - a l l gross misdeeds which only you can perform without fear of punishment. The laws even absolve you of small crimes, such as those which force me to appear i n the r o l e of the accused. LEX XIII, paragraph 1 and 2 •de i n u r i i s ' allows you to i n s u l t those very people who are caught i n the meshes of a l i b e l s u i t . " I t i s unbelievable what advantages these arrangements could give to the state; f o r example, many more crimes could be dragged i n t o the l i g h t of day i f respectable jurors were to v i s i t whorehouses personally, to leap in t o l u s t so as to i n d i c t the g u i l t y party immediately a f t e r -wards, or i f they would mix as thieves among thieves i n order to l e t t h e i r comrades hang, or i f they would commit adultery, so as to recognize p o t e n t i a l adulteresses and -72-others who have an i n c l i n a t i o n and l i k i n g f o r t h i s crime and should he considered harmful members of the state. "Good God, the advantages of these arrangements are so obvious I ' l l not discuss them fur t h e r . But I think that my immeasurable suggestion alone e n t i t l e s me to an immediate a c q u i t t a l . "I s h a l l now present my a c t u a l defense, your honours! I have been charged with an ' i n i u r i a o r a l i s ' , a 'chanted i n s u l t ' according to subsection 'beta', to be p r e c i s e . And here I already d i s c e r n a reason f o r dismissing t h i s case: singers belong to the caste of poets and the l a t t e r , since i n accordance with the new school they do not aim at a purpose, should be allowed to slander and blaspheme as much as they want i n t h e i r poetic i n s p i r a t i o n . Indeed, poets and singers should be immune to the charge of slander f o r the very reason that i n s p i r a t i o n i s e s s e n t i a l l y a drunkenness, which should immediately free them from a l l punishment, unless the accused culpably put himself i n t o t h i s condition, hardly the case with i n s p i r a t i o n since i t i s a g i f t of the gods. I ' l l formulate my defense even more convincingly by r e f e r r i n g you to the works of our best new l e g a l t h e o r e t i c i a n s , i n which i t i s proved that j u s t i c e has nothing to do with morality and that only such offense as i n f r i n g e s a man's material r i g h t s can be termed punishable by law. Now, I have injured and slandered i n a -73-moral or inner sense only, so I dismiss the charges brought against me as i n s u f f i c i e n t because as a moral person I stand under the 'foro p r i v i l e g a t i o 1 of another world. "Furthermore, since according to Weber's di s c u s s i o n of slander i n h i s f i r s t chapter, page XXIX "no i n s u l t can be uttered against a person who has renounced honour and morality", I would l i k e to extend the analogy to conclude that you, as judges, have abjured a l l morality. Therefore, I am free to i n s u l t you, with every slander po s s i b l e , here i n open court. I f I dare to denounce you as cold, h e a r t l e s s , and immoral although kind and just gentlemen, my words are to be construed as praise rather than slander, and I dismiss any charges a r i s i n g against me out of t h i s . " Here I stopped, and a l l s i x of them looked at each other without coming to a v e r d i c t . I waited calmly. I f they had punished me with the strappado, the spinning cage, the i r o n maiden, or with f r y i n g , skinning or disembowel-ment (which i n Japan i s thought very honourable), I would have much preferred i t to the malice which the judge and chairman perpetrated upon me when he gave the v e r d i c t that the crimes could not be counted against me because I was 'mente c a p t i s ' . My trespassing was the r e s u l t of p a r t i a l i n s a n i t y , so that I should be deli v e r e d to the asylum without f a i l . I t ' s too much; I ' l l end t h i s confession and go to bed. -74-EIGHTH NIGHTWATCH Poets are a harmless hreed w i t h t h e i r dreams and e c s t a s i e s and heavens f u l l of Greek gods which they c a r r y w i t h them i n t h e i r i m a g i n a t i o n . But as soon as they dare to a p p l y t h e i r v i s i o n to the wor l d of r e a l i t y , they become dangerous by i n v a d i n g a world w i t h which they have n o t h i n g i n common. However, they would remain harmless i f only they were g i v e n t h e i r p l a c e i n r e a l i t y and i f they were not c o n s t a n t l y f o r c e d to look back i n t o r e a l i t y and a l l i t s s c r a m b l i n g and h u r r y i n g . The world i s much too s m a l l f o r the s c a l e of t h e i r i d e a l s , which reaches past the c l o u d s , though they can't see the end of t h e i r s t i c k so t h a t they choose the s t a r s as t h e i r p r o v i s i o n a l l i m i t s , a l t hough God o n l y knows how many s t a r s are s t i l l i n v i s i b l e to t h i s day w i t h t h e i r l i g h t s t i l l on i t s journey towards us. The poet i n h i s a t t i c was one of those i d e a l i s t s who have been f o r c i b l y converted i n t o r e a l i s t s through hunger, c r e d i t o r s , c ourt t r i a l s , e t c . , not u n l i k e Charlemagne, who drove the pagans i n t o the r i v e r w i t h h i s sword to b a p t i s e -75-them. I had struck up an acquaintance with the night-owl, and a f t e r punching the time clock I often went to see him, to marvel as he fermented and bubbled, pacing the a t t i c l i k e an e c s t a t i c apostle raging against man, a flame dancing over h i s head. He was pouring a l l h i s t a l e n t s i n t o the completion of a tragedy i n which the sublime and mysterious f i g u r e s of Love, Hatred, Time, and E t e r n i t y , presented as i f having a body and outer coverings, were s t a r r i n g as the grand s p i r i t s of mankind, and which had running through i t , instead of a chorus, a t r a g i c clown, a grotesque and t e r r i b l e mask. With an i r o n f i s t , the dramatist held l i f e ' s handsome features up to h i s great d i s t o r t i n g mirror, i n which the face contorted w i l d l y and revealed i t s abysses i n the furrows and ugly wrinkles on the b e a u t i f u l cheeks - and t h i s he copied. I t i s good that many did not understand, because i n our age of optics the greatest subjects are so f a r removed that one can see them only vaguely i n the distance with the help of telescopes; l i t t l e things, however, are thoroughly c u l t i v a t e d because the short-sighted see near things much more sharply. The poet had f i n i s h e d the play r e c e n t l y and hoped that the gods c i t e d i n h i s invocation would f o r once appear i n the form of a golden r a i n so that he could banish h i s hunger, h i s c r e d i t o r s , and the court c l e r k . Today, he -76-was to receive the 'imprimatur' of the most i n f l u e n t i a l of a l l censors - to wit h i s publisher. C u r i o s i t y and the desire to see him i n joyous c e l e b r a t i o n with the gods here on earth speeded my steps. But i s n ' t i t sad that mankind locks and bars the entrance to i t s banquets with guards and armed servants, so that a poor beggar, unable to a f f o r d a bribe, must s t e a l away frightened? Panting, I climbed up to the poet's Olympus and opened the door. But instead of one tragedy, which f r a n k l y I didn't expect to be back from the publisher, I found two of them. One had been returned from the publisher, and the other was i t s author, who had composed the second one ex-tempore and had himself played the protagonist. Since he lacked the t r a g i c dagger, he had, i n a hurry which can be excused i n improvised dramas, chosen f o r h i s weapon the cord which had served the returned manuscript as a b e l t during i t s t r a v e l s , and he was dangling from i t above h i s work, quite air-borne with a l l h i s earthly b a l l a s t cast o f f , l i k e a saint r i s i n g toward heaven. The room was s i l e n t and ghastly except f o r a p a i r of tame mice, who were playing p e a c e f u l l y at my feet l i k e pets, squeeking with hunger or else happiness- probably hunger, since one of them began to gnaw on the poet's immortality, on h i s posthumous opus returned from the publisher. "You poor d e v i l , " I said looking up at him," I don't know whether your ascension i s comic or sad. However, I -77-f i n d i t amusing that you t r i e d to act the Mozart among poor v i l l a g e musicians, and i t ' s n a t u r a l that you quit; i n a country f u l l of limping c r i p p l e s anyone who walks properly i s laughed at as a strange misshapen 'lusus naturae', just as honesty would have to he punished with hanging i n a state f u l l of thieves. Everything i n t h i s world i s r e l a t i v e , and since your countrymen were used to abominable shrieks rather than noble songs, they ignored you as they would a nightwatchman, which i s i n c i d e n t a l l y my reason f o r becoming one. Oh, how man forges onward, and I would l i k e to skip a thousand years ahead and then s t i c k my head int o t h i s s i l l y world; I bet I would see antique cabinets and museums d i s p l a y i n g the v i l e s t form of ugliness i n an attempt to achieve the ultimate i n horror because beauty has been denounced as a second French school of poetry. Or I would l i k e to attend one of the new mechanistic l e c t u r e s on nature i n which they w i l l probably teach that a world can be b u i l t with l i t t l e or no e f f o r t , and where t h e y ' l l t r a i n young men to become creators of worlds, since at the moment they're merely t r a i n e d to be creators of t h e i r own egos. Good God, what advances w i l l have been made i n a thousand years i n a l l sciences'- what progress we have made already! There w i l l be as many repairmen of nature as there are now clock-makers; there w i l l be correspondence with the moon, which already furnishes us with rocks; I / Shakespearian pieces w i l l become exercises f o r the retarded love and f r i e n d s h i p and l o y a l t y w i l l stop being standard theatre fare - already we have abolished the r o l e of the f o o l ; madhouses w i l l be b u i l t f o r the sane only, doctors w i l l be exterminated as harmful members of s o c i e t y because they've found a cure f o r death; and storms and earthquakes w i l l be arranged as e a s i l y as firework displays nowadays. You poor dangling d e v i l , your immortality would have no meaning a thousand years from now. You have done yo u r s e l f a favour by g e t t i n g out i n time." But just as a man laughing uproariously f i n a l l y bursts i n t o tears, so I suddenly grew sentimental i n my good mood when I looked into a corner where h i s childhood s i l e n t l y and meaningfully confronted the pale deceased l i k e h i s only joy and at the same time as h i s only remaining piece of f u r n i t u r e ; i t was an old, weathered p a i n t i n g on which the colours were already half-faded, just as, according to s u p e r s t i t i o n , p o r t r a i t s of the dead lose the red of t h e i r cheeks. I t depicted the poet as a c h i l d with a f r i e n d l y smile, playing at h i s mother's breast; a l a s , her handsome face was h i s f i r s t and only love, and she remained l o y a l to him u n t i l she died. Here i n the p i c t u r e , childhood s t i l l surrounded him merrily, and he stood i n i t s vernal garden f u l l of closed buds, whose fragrance he longed f o r and whose poison p e t a l s , once open, brought him -79-death. I had to turn away shuddering as I compared the copy, t h i s smiling c u r l y - h a i r e d boy, with the model i n i t s present st a t e , a dangling Hippocratic face s t a r i n g black and t e r r i b l e l i k e a Medusa at the p o r t r a i t of h i s youth. In h i s f i n a l minute, he seemed to have thrown a l a s t glance at the p a i n t i n g , f o r h i s body was twisted i n that d i r e c t i o n , and the lamp was burning i n f r o n t of i t as i f before an a l t a r . Oh, the passions are s l y r e s t o r a t o r s who retouch the blossoming Raphael features of youth with the passing years and contort and d i s t o r t i t with constantly harsher strokes u n t i l the angel's head has become a H e l l Breughel's mask. The poet's desk - h i s a l t a r of Appollo - was a stone slab, f o r a l l the wood he had possessed had long since been consumed by the flames of h i s nocturnal s a c r i f i c e s to the Muses, a l l except the p i c t u r e frame. His r e j e c t e d tragedy l a y on the slab. I t was e n t i t l e d MAN, and beside i t was a l e t t e r of r e s i g n a t i o n to l i f e , as follows: A Le t t e r of Resignation to L i f e . Man i s worthless, and I s t r i k e him out. My MAN has not found a publisher, e i t h e r as f i c t i o n or n o n - f i c t i o n . Man as f i c t i o n (my tragedy) hasn't even found a publisher to advance the cost of p r i n t i n g , and man as n o n - f i c t i o n (myself) has been abandoned even by the D e v i l . The world -80-starves me l i k e an Ugolino i n the greatest dungeon of them a l l , the world i t s e l f , and has thrown the key into the sea before my very eyes. I am lucky to have enough strength l e f t to climb the tower of my p r i s o n and to h u r l myself o f f . I thank the publisher f o r t h i s , here i n my testament, f o r although he didn't help me get away, he at l e a s t threw a cord down to me i n my tower so that I can climb up. I think that everything i s merry up there, and has a good, open view; i n any case i t w i l l be better than down here even i f I should see nothing, because I no longer care; - but old Ugolino had to stumble i n h i s tower, b l i n d from hunger, and knew he v/as b l i n d , and l i f e struggled so madly i n s i d e him that he could not k i l l himself. Like him I too had some golden c h i l d r e n with whom I d a l l i e d i n my prison, c h i l d r e n whom I created alone, at night, and who played by my side i n youth and i n golden dreams. Through them, whom I planned to leave behind, I t i e d myself warmly to l i f e - but even they have been taken away from me, f o r the hungry animals imprisoned with me have gnawed them to pieces, and I have only memories to de l i g h t me now. So be i t ! The door has been slammed shut behind me, and the l a s t time they opened i t , i t was only to carry i n the c o f f i n of my l a s t c h i l d - and now I leave nothing behind and walk toward you d e f i a n t l y , God or Nothing! -81-This was a l l t h a t was l e f t of a flame which had been f o r c e d to consume i t s e l f . I took the l e t t e r and c o l l e c t e d as much of the r e l i c s of MAN as I could from the hungry-mice, a p p o i n t i n g myself h e i r to the poet's p r o p e r t y . I f I am ever given a chance to make more money, I s h a l l p r i n t the tragedy MAN, however gnawed and incomplete, a t my own cost and d i s t r i b u t e i t f r e e . For the moment, I can only r e l a t e a p a r t of the f o o l ' s prologue. I n a sh o r t i n t r o d u c t o r y speech, the poet f i r s t excuses h i m s e l f f o r d a r i n g to i n t r o d u c e the f o o l i n t o a tragedy: " I n t h e i r t r a g e d i e s , the a n c i e n t Greeks had. a chorus whose u n i v e r s a l comments turned the gaze of the audience, away from the s i n g l e d r e a d f u l a c t i o n and t h e r e f o r e soothed the mind 0 I t h i n k t h i s i s no time f o r s o o t h i n g , and t h a t one should i n s t e a d be making people angry and r e b e l l i o u s , because n o t h i n g e l s e has any e f f e c t , and mankind on the whole has become so s l a c k and m a l i c i o u s t h a t i t a c t s m e c h a n i c a l l y and commits i t s s i n s out of sheer l a s s i t u d e . Mankind should be s t r o n g l y s t i m u l a t e d , l i k e an a s t h e n i c person, and I am t h e r e f o r e i n t r o d u c i n g the f o o l to make men go w i l d because j u s t as, a c c o r d i n g to the proverb, the t r u t h comes from the mouths of babes and f o o l s , so they a l s o promote t h a t which i s d r e a d f u l and t r a g i c , s i n c e the f i r s t put i t so b l u n t l y i n t h e i r innocence w h i l e the second -82-even mock and play f o o l i s h games with i t . A e s theticians of the future w i l l do j u s t i c e unto me." The part I would l i k e to quote from the manuscript goes as follows: The Pool's Prologue to the Tragedy Man. "I appear as man's p r o l o g i s t . A judicious audience w i l l the more r e a d i l y overlook the f a c t that I'm a f o o l by trade when I point out that according to Dr. Darwin the ape, undoubtedly more s i l l y than a mere f o o l , i s a c t u a l l y p r o l o g i s t f o r the whole human race, and that my and your thoughts and f e e l i n g s have been merely r e f i n e d and c u l t i v a t e d through the passing of time although they are s t i l l thoughts and f e e l i n g s which o r i g i n a l l y were born i n the head and heart of the ape. Dr. Darwin, whom I quote as my spokesman and attorney i n t h i s matter, maintains that man owes h i s existence to a species of ape found near the Meditteranean Sea, a species which acquired refinement when i t learned to use i t s thumb muscles so that thumb and f i n g e r t i p s were able to touch. A f t e r several succeeding generations of apes, t h i s accomplishment culminated i n conceptual thought, u n t i l f i n a l l y the species took on the form of r a t i o n a l men, a form which, i n c i d e n t a l l y , can s t i l l be seen walking about today i n court -83-dress and other uniforms. Darwin's theory has merit; a f t e r thousands of years, we can s t i l l f i n d p a r a l l e l s and contrasts to the o r i g i n a l species. Indeed, I think I could point to a few admired persons here and there who haven't yet learned to use t h e i r thumb muscles properly, l i k e c e r t a i n w r i t e r s f o r instance, and others who push pens f o r t h e i r l i v i n g . I f my ob-servations are co r r e c t , i t ' s another mark f o r Darwin. By contrast, we f i n d that the ape has retained several s k i l l s and emotions which we, i n our daring leap to become c i v i l i z e d creatures, have l o s t completely. For example, to t h i s very day a mother ape loves her son more than many mothers of princes love t h e i r s , and the only thing one could say i n disagreement i s to argue that the l a t t e r neglects her c h i l d through too much love i n order to achieve the same thing as the former who get there a b i t f a s t e r by crushing t h e i r c h i l d to death. Enough, I agree with Dr. Darwin and o f f e r a ph i l a n t h r o p i c suggestion that we should value our younger brothers, the apes of the world, more hi g h l y and that we should r a i s e them, who are now only our parod i s t s , up to our l e v e l with thorough i n s t r u c t i o n s on how to bring together thumb and f i n g e r t i p s so that they can at l e a s t push a pen. I t i s better to consider the ape our ancestor with the f i r s t Dr. Darwin than to wait f o r a second one to suggest other -84-w i l d animals as our predecessors, which he could perhaps support with equally good reason since most people, i f one covers the lower part of t h e i r face with i t s mouth whose words seek to hide t h e i r animal nature, have a remarkable resemblance e s p e c i a l l y to b i r d s of prey, such as vultures and fa l c o n s , etc. Yes, the old a r i s t o c r a t s too can trace t h e i r f a m i l i e s more e a s i l y to beasts of prey rather than to apes, which clears up not only the meaning of t h e i r passion f o r robbery during the Middle Ages, but also the meaning of t h e i r escutcheons, which portray mostly l i o n s , t i g e r s , eagles, and other wild animals. These remarks are meant to j u s t i f y my r o l e as f i g u r e and mask i n the tragedy MAN, which i s about to begin. I promise my esteemed audience i n advance that i t w i l l be funny enough to k i l l them with laughter, no matter how serious and t r a g i c the poet intended i t to be. A f t e r a l l , what i s the use of seriousness, since man i s by nature a f o o l i s h beast who i s simply p l a y i n g upon a stage l a r g e r than the one occupied by the actors i n Hamlet; no matter how important he thinks himself, he must take o f f crown and sceptre and theatre dagger behind the curtains and creep as an actor who has l e f t the stage into h i s dark changing-room u n t i l i t pleases the d i r e c t o r to announce a new comedy. I f he were to show h i s s e l f i n i t s n a t u r a l state, or even i n i t s night gown and sleeping cap, by the -85-D e v i l , everybody would run away from such i n s i p i d n e s s and uselessness; so he covers i t with c o l o u r f u l t h e a t r i c a l rags and holds the masks of joy and love i n f r o n t of h i s face, to appear more i n t e r e s t i n g , and to make h i s words sound more meaningful through the speaking-tube mounted in s i d e the mask; and f i n a l l y the s e l f looks down upon the rags and thinks they are the important thing. Yes, no doubt there e x i s t other selves dressed even poorer who praise and worship t h i s patched-up pomposity; but seen under the l i g h t , the second mandilion,which has put up an a r t i f i c i a l breast to f e i g n the existence of a heart, i s merely s t i t c h e d together more a r t f u l l y and holds a more dece i v i n g l y c r a f t e d mask i n f r o n t of the s k u l l . The s k u l l i s never missing behind the f l i r t a t i o u s mask, and l i f e i s only the f o o l ' s costume that Nothingness has donned i n order to t i n k l e i t s b e l l s f o r a while and then f i n a l l y to rend i t a n g r i l y and to discard i t . Every-thing i s Nothing and chokes and gulps i t s e l f g r e e d i l y , and t h i s very feeding upon i t s e l f i s the malicious sham-struggle which f r a u d u l e n t l y suggests that something i s happening while a c t u a l l y , i f the gulping would stop just f o r once, Nothing would appear very c l e a r l y so that they would be frightened of i t ; f o o l s think that t h i s pause i s e t e r n i t y , but i t i s r e a l l y and e s s e n t i a l l y Nothing and absolute death, since on the contrary l i f e i s created only through continuous -86-d y i n g . I f a l l t h i s were taken s e r i o u s l y , i t could e a s i l y l e a d to the madhouse, but I o n l y take i t l i k e a f o o l and use i t to l e a d the prologue towards the tragedy, i n which the poet has c e r t a i n l y taken e v e r y t h i n g s e r i o u s l y and has even inve n t e d a God and an i m m o r t a l i t y i n order to make h i s man more meaningful. However, I hope to p l a y i n i t the p a r t of the o l d d e s t i n y t h a t among the Greeks r u l e d even the gods, and to confuse the l e a d i n g f i g u r e s to d i s t r a c t i o n so t h a t they w i l l never make sense of them-s e l v e s u n t i l man s h a l l f i n a l l y t h i n k t h a t he i s God Himself or s h a l l at l e a s t p a t t e r n h i m s e l f a f t e r such a mask, l i k e i d e a l i s t s , and w o r l d h i s t o r y . Now I have more or l e s s i n t r o d u c e d myself and can l e t the tragedy begin on i t s own w i t h i t s three u n i t i e s : Time - which I s h a l l s t r i c t l y adhere t o , so t h a t man won't l o s e h i m s e l f i n e t e r n i t y of a l l t h i n g s ; P l a c e -which w i l l always remain w i t h i n l i m i t s -; and A c t i o n , which I w i l l l i m i t as much as p o s s i b l e , so t h a t Oedipus, or man, w i l l reach only b l i n d n e s s , and not t r a n s f i g u r a t i o n somewhere i n a s u b - p l o t . I have not opposed the use of masks, because the more masks are p i l e d on top of each other, the more fun i t i s to p u l l them o f f one a f t e r another down to the penultimate s a t i r i c a l one, the H i p p o c r a t i c one, and the -87-f i n a l s o l i d one which no longer laughs or c r i e s - the s k u l l without h a i r or p i g t a i l with which the tragicomedian makes hi s e x i t at the end. Nor have I opposed the use of verse which i s no more than a comic l i e , just as the cothurnus i s only a more comic conceit." E x i t Prologus! -88-NINTH NIGHTWATCH I am happy to say that I found at l e a s t one f u l l rose among the many thorns of my l i f e ; although she was so surrounded by thorns that I could reach her only with bleeding hands and with her leaves h a l f torn, I plucked her nevertheless, and her dying fragrance d i d me good. This s i n g l e blessed month of my l i f e , the only rosy summer among my many winters and autumns, was spent - i n a madhouse. Man i s l i k e an onion and hides beneath la y e r upon laye r u n t i l he has disappeared into a t i n y core. We take the temple of the universe, on whose dome the v/orlds f l o a t l i k e sacred h i e r o g l y p h i c s , and b u i l d within i t smaller temples with smaller domes and i m i t a t i o n s t a r s , and i n t o these we squeeze s t i l l smaller chapels and tabernacles u n t i l we have reduced the Highest to a miniature i n a r i n g , while around us the great Mystery hovers i n mountains and f o r e s t s and l i f t s i t s holy wafer of the sun into the sky so that ::nations f a l l down before i t . And i n the same manner, -89-we hack the great r e l i g i o n of l i f e , which nature reveals to us i n her thousand forms, i n t o smaller n a t i o n a l and t r i b a l r e l i g i o n s f o r Jews, Turks, Pagans and C h r i s t i a n s . And the l a s t group, not even s a t i s f i e d with t h i s , continues to chop i t s e l f into s t i l l smaller sects. Yes, even the madhouse of the world, i t s windows f u l l of heads sometimes p a r t i a l l y , sometimes t o t a l l y insane, has been divided into f u r t h e r madhouses designed f o r s p e c i a l cases. They dragged me out the b i g one and threw me i n t o a small one - probably because the f i r s t was too overcrowded. I discovered, however, that one was very much l i k e the other; indeed I even preferred the smaller one because I found the i n s a n i t y of the inmates very congenial. I can best describe my fellow l u n a t i c s by portraying them during the doctor's v i s i t , when I had to introduce them to him, which happened now and again because due to my harmless madness, the warden of the i n s t i t u t e had appointed me h i s vice-warden and sergeant. The l a s t time, I l e d the doctor around with the following speech: "Dr. Oehlmann, or rather 'Olearius' - as you c a l l • y o u r s e l f i n d i s s e r t a t i o n s and a b s t r a c t s , t r a n s l a t i n g your name int o a higher form through the medium of a dead language - a l l men s u f f e r more or l e s s from f i x e d ideas; not only sing l e i n d i v i d u a l s , but whole groups and f a c u l t i e s . For example, many of the l a t t e r s e l l not only wisdom, but - 9 0 -also apply themselves to the hat-trade, thinking that they can turn stupid people i n t o wise ones merely by l i g h t l y pressing a hat from t h e i r f a c t o r y upon t h e i r heads; yes, sometimes they put such a hat upon t h e i r own bare body and thus apparently form philosophers, since the l a t t e r u s u a l l y tend to go into h i d i n g anyway beneath the brim of t h e i r hats when faced with overly d i f f i c u l t speculations. - Now I've l o s t the thread of my speech with a l l the examples that sprung to mind, and I'd better s t a r t again." Here Oehlmann shook h i s doctor's hat as i f he doubted that my head would ever deserve any of the hats I had mentioned. "Are you shaking your head because I was created a f o o l by nature rather than made a doctor by the auth o r i t y of the Emperor?" I asked. "Never mind, l e t ' s move on and leave my i n s a n i t y and i t s cure u n t i l the end." "Patient number one i s a shining example of humanity, e x c e l l i n g a l l d e f i n i t i o n s ever published. I can never walk past him without thinking of the great heroes of a n t i q u i t y , of Curtius, Coriolanus or Regulus. His madness consists of think i n g too highly of mankind and too low of himself. And so, unlike bad poets, he keeps h i s bladder i n constant check, because he fears that i f he l e t s i t a l l flow, the world w i l l be drowned i n a deluge. Sometimes I f e e l angry because I don't have i n r e a l i t y the problem which -91-he thinks he has - t r u l y , I'd use the earth as my chamber pot; and drown a l l doctors u n t i l only t h e i r hats f l o a t e d on the surface. A great thought, but t h i s wretch can't seem to grasp i t . See f o r yo u r s e l f how he stands and su f f e r s and crosses h i s legs out of sheer love f o r mankind. And unless we help him, he w i l l d i e . I've prescribed f i r e s , empty r i v e r s with i d l e m i l l s and s t a r v i n g men on the shores. I think Dante's h e l l may make good therapy -I conduct him through i t every day and he has made i t h i s goal to extinguish i t . Apparently, he used to be a poet who couldn't channel h i s creative outpourings through the booksellers. Numbers two and three are p h i l o s o p h i c a l opposites: an i d e a l i s t and a r e a l i s t . The f i r s t i s s u f f e r i n g from a glass breast, while the second i s s u f f e r i n g from a glass rear-end and has to stand up constantly. The i d e a l i s t f i n d s i t easy to s i t down, of course, but he avoids any moral statement and covers h i s glass breast c a r e f u l l y . Number four i s here only because h i s knowledge put him h a l f a century ahead of everybody else - there are others l i k e him s t i l l f r e e , but they are, quite reasonably, considered as mad as he i s . Number f i v e spoke too r a t i o n a l l y and reasonably, so they brought him here. Number s i x turned mad because he was crazy enough to -92-take the jokes of a king s e r i o u s l y . Number seven singed h i s b r a i n when he climbed too high int o poetry, and number eight put so much sentiment into h i s comedies that h i s reason was swept away by a l l the tears. While the former thinks he i s a burning flame, the l a t t e r flows around l i k e water. Once or twice I t r i e d to consume the two opposing elements by p i t t i n g them against each other, but the f i r e mauled the water so badly that I had to c a l l f o r number nine, who thinks he i s God, to separate the two. This l a s t number often holds very strange monologues, and you can l i s t e n to one of them just now i f you have the patience." Monologue of the Insane Creator. "This thing here i n my hand i s very strange, and as I watch i t through my magnifying glass from one moment to the next (down there they c a l l each of these moments a century), the s i t u a t i o n appears to me more confused than ever, and I don't know whether I should laugh or become angry - i f e i t h e r were a proper thing f o r me to do. That l i t t l e speck of sundust crawling around c a l l s i t s e l f man; when I created i t , I thought i t was a l l r i g h t because i t was a novelty -but I c e r t a i n l y spoke too soon. However, I had my fun, and anything that's new i s welcome up here i n e t e r n i t y ; I'm e n t i r e l y without r e c r e a t i o n or amusement. Of course, I am s t i l l s a t i s f i e d with some of the things I made, such as b r i g h t flowers and c h i l d r e n playing among them, and the f l y i n g flowers, the b u t t e r f l i e s and i n s e c t s , which i n t h e i r careless youth l e f t t h e i r mothers and yet r e t u r n to drink t h e i r milk and sleep and die at t h e i r mother's breast. But t h i s t i n y piece of d i r t i n t o which I breathed l i f e angers me now and again with i t s spark of d i v i n i t y which I gave away much too h a s t i l y . The creature's gone crazy. I should've known r i g h t away that so l i t t l e d i v i n i t y would cause nothing but trouble, f o r the poor creature no longer knows which way to turn, and i t s aware-ness of God w i t h i n i t does l i t t l e except cause i t more confusion. In the one second they c a l l e d the Golden Age, they carved charming f i g u r e s and put them i n t o l i t t l e houses whose ruins are now marvelled at i n the next second as the homes of Gods. They used to pray to the sun which I l i t up f o r them and v/hich i s , compared to the l i g h t i n my study, a mere spark. F i n a l l y - and t h i s i s the worst - the dust has come to think i t i s God, and has b u i l t systems to g l o r i f y i t s e l f . H e l l , I should have l e f t the puppet un-carved. What am I going to do with i t ? l e t i t leap about madly up here i n e t e r n i t y which bothers even me sometimes? On the other hand, I don't want to destroy them, because I would be without entertainment. Sometimes they discuss immortality and think that because they can dream about i t that w i l l become true. Yet I have to do something! Truly, the probl Some s c i e n t i s t set up the hypothesis that the f i r s t i n s e c t s were only plant filaments which a c c i d e n t a l l y separated from the p l a n t s . - 9 4 -i s too much even f o r me! S h a l l I l e t the creature d i e , and die again, each time erasing i t s memories of i t s e l f so that i t r i s e s and walks about anew? But i n the end that would bore me because to repeat the nonsense again and again would be t i r i n g . The best thing to do i s to wait u n t i l I can think of a d e f i n i t e date f o r Judgement Day, at which time I might come up with a better idea -" "What an abominable madness," I interrupted, as number nine ceased f o r a second. " I f a normal person were to r a t t l e o f f t h i s kind of thing on paper, i t would be con-f i s c a t e d immediately." Oehlmann shook h i s head and made a few s i g n i f i c a n t comments on diseases of the mind i n general. The creator, who now began to play v/ith a c h i l d ' s b a l l which he was holding i n h i s hand, continued a f t e r a pause," How the doctors of physics must now be puzzling about the change i n temperature! How they w i l l be t r y i n g to b u i l d new theories to s u i t i t ! Yes, t h i s p laying of mine i s perhaps causing earthquakes and other v i s i t a t i o n s and g i v i n g t e l e o l o g i s t s wide scope f o r speculation. Oh, t h i s speck of dust has a wondrous mind and reduces even the most confused and a c c i d e n t a l conditions to some order; yes, i t often praises and worships me because i t i s sur-p r i s e d that I am as i n t e l l i g e n t as i t i s . How they run around i n confusion and then gather together l i k e ants, -95-holding meetings as i f they had something to say! Through my ear-trumpet I can hear something - the p u l p i t s and l e c t e r n s are buzzing with profound speeches about the wise order of nature. And a l l the time I'm only p l a y i n g with the b a l l , destroying a few dozen countries and c i t i e s and these ants, which are m u l t i p l y i n g much too quickly anyway since they invented a remedy f o r the cow-pox. H e l l , i n one second they've become so i n q u i s i t i v e that I can't even sneeze up here without t h e i r i n v e s t i g a t i n g the phenomenom thoroughly. I must be crazy to play God with such creatures and to be c r i t i c i z e d ! I'd l i k e to crush the whole b a l l ! " "Just look how angry he i s at the world, doctor," I added as the creator f i n i s h e d . " L i f e could become dangerous f o r us other f o o l s because we t o l e r a t e such a T i t a n among us - h i s system of reducing everything to a small scale i s as consequential as that of F i c h t e , and he a c t u a l l y thinks even l e s s of mankind than the l a t t e r , who separates man merely from heaven and h e l l , but i n compensation takes a l l that i s c l a s s i c a l and compresses i t into the small " I " which any l i t t l e c h i l d can pronounce. As each of us pleases, we can extract from t h i s i n s i g n i f i c a n t s h e l l whole cos-mogenies, theosophies, h i s t o r i e s , and what not, together with t h e i r matching p i c t u r e s . This would be great and wonderful i f only the format were not so t i n y ! Even Schlegel fumed against such microcosms, and I too must -96-confess that the I l i a d , published i n a pocket volume, v/ould never please me; i t would mean the Olympus packed in t o a n u t s h e l l , so that the gods and heroes must e i t h e r accustom themselves to a lower c e i l i n g or break t h e i r necks. You're looking at me and shaking your head again, doctor. Yes, you're r i g h t , t h i s i s a l l part of my madness and normally I am exactly of the opposite opinion. l e t ' s leave the creator. Numbers ten and eleven here exemplify the trans-migration of souls: the f i r s t barks l i k e a dog and used to serve at court; the second has changed from a c i v i l servant int o a wolf. There i s room f o r thought here, don't you think? Twelve, t h i r t e e n , fourteen, f i f t e e n and sixteen are v a r i a t i o n s of the same st r e e t song - love. Number seventeen i s absorbed e n t i r e l y i n h i s nose. Do you f i n d that p e c u l i a r ? Not me! Often whole f a c u l t i e s absorb themselves i n a s i n g l e l e t t e r of the alphabet to decide whether to take i t f o r an alpha or an omega. Eighteen i s a mathematician t r y i n g to f i n d the l a s t number. Nineteen i s brooding about a t h e f t which the government committed against him - but he can brood about t h i s only i n the madhouse. Number twenty f i n a l l y i s my own l i t t l e c e l l . Come i n and look around; before God, we're a l l the same and s u f f e r only from d i f f e r e n t lunacies; our c o l l e c t i v e i n s a n i t y simply - 9 7 -manifests i t s e l f i n d i f f e r e n t nuances. Over there, you can see a bust of Socrates, whose wisdom you can gauge by the s i z e of h i s nose just as you can see f o l l y by the nose of Scaramouche over there. This manuscript I have here contains p a r a l l e l s which I have drawn between the two, and i t favours the f o o l . The a t t i t u d e of mine r e a l l y ought to be cured, shouldn't i t ? I'm very stubborn - everything r a t i o n a l seems absurd to me, and vice versa. I can't at a l l defend myself against t h i s thought! I've often t r i e d to seize wisdom by the h a i r , and to that end I have studied p r i v a t e l y i n a l l three p r o f e s s i o n a l f a c u l t i e s so that a f t e r sx>me short academic n u p t i a l s with the Muses, I might have myself declared a Holy T r i n i t y f o r the good of mankind and walk around with three doctor's hats on top of one another. Oh, I thought to myself, how you could wander around l i k e a Proteus i n p r a c t i c a l and t h e o r e t i c a l terms simply through a quick unnoticed change of hats! To write d i s s e r t a t i o n s about the shortest methods of healing diseases and to r e l i e v e the patient himself of a l l h i s i l l s i n the quickest manner! To embrace the dying man, a f t e r a quick change of hats, as h i s lawyer and to s e t t l e h i s c h a t t e l s , and to f i n a l l y show him the true way to heaven simply by putting on the cassock. In t h i s manner, one could achieve the best and the highest r e s u l t through d i f f e r e n t hats, l i k e d i f f e r e n t machines i n a -98-f a c t o r y . And what an abundance of wisdom and wealth - the desired combination of two opposing blessi n g s , a sublime i d e a l i z a t i o n of man's centaur nature, i n which the w e l l -sated animal prances i n s o l e n t l y beneath i t s divine r i d e r . But when I examined a l l my ideas more c l e a r l y , I found i n a l l our vaunted wisdom only a blanket draped over the Moses features of l i f e to hide God. You can see where a l l t h i s has l e d , and i t i s my obsession that I'm more r a t i o n a l than the r a t i o n a l i t y which we have reduced to a system, and wiser than the wisdom taught at our u n i v e r s i t i e s . I'd l i k e to consult you longer i n your capacity as • doctor to discover how my madness can be approached and to l e a r n what cures are a v a i l a b l e . This issue i s important, f o r how can one f i g h t a disease when one i s , as you know, uncertain of one's premises as to i t s nature, and when one i s suspicious of the system; yes, when once confuses sublime health with disease, and v i c e versa. Who decides i n the end whether i t i s we f o o l s here i n the madhouse who are mistaken or the professors i n t h e i r auditoriums? Perhaps delusion i s t r u t h , madness wisdom, death l i f e - while r a t i o n a l l y we assume the oppositej Oh, I can see I'm incurable." A f t e r prolonged d e l i b e r a t i o n , Dr. Oehlmann prescribed vigorous exercise.and l i t t l e or no thinking since he thought - 9 9 -that my madness was caused by excessive i n t e l l e c t u a l r e v e l r y , just as i n d i g e s t i o n i s often caused by too much cu l i n a r y indulgence. I l e t him go. I ' l l save another nightwatch f o r an account of the rose mentioned at the beginning. -100-TENTH NIGHTWATCH It i s a strange night; moon beams come and go l i k e ghosts through the gothic arches of the cathedral - a sleep-walker i s climbing around on the lantern of the tower with a baby under h i s arm. I t i s the sexton, and h i s wife i s watching him from a window, wringing her hands, but as s i l e n t as the grave, so that the sleep-walker, who i s s c a l i n g the most dangerous places i n perfec t safety and with the se l f - p o s s e s s i o n of a man without cares, w i l l not wake at the c a l l i n g of h i s name and f a l l to h i s death together with the c h i l d . Across town, a burglar i s breaking i n t o a palace, but i t ' s not my t e r r i t o r y and besides, I've been condemned to s i l e n c e . So l e t him s t e a l . Quiet s t r a i n s of music come from the distance, l i k e the buzzing of gnats, or as i f Koch were improvising l a t e at night on h i s mouth-organ; and near the horizon, skaters turn a i r i l y and j o y f u l l y on the i c y mirror of a meadow, dancing the Basel Death Dance. The world i t s e l f l i e s cold and motionless and rough, and -101-nature's body stands mutilated, reaching p e t r i f i e d stumps naked of her garlands of petals and leaves i n t o the sky. The night i s s t i l l and e e r i e , f u l l of a cold death which lur k s i n v i s i b l e with a strangle-hold on l i f e . Occasionally, a frozen crow tumbles from the roof of the church, and nearby a beggar without home or trade i s s t r u g g l i n g against sleep which i s seeking to steer him s e c r e t l y i n t o the tempting arms of death, l i k e the s i r e n who -lures i r r e s -ponsible fishermen i n t o the waves with her song. S h a l l I cheat death of a beggar's l i f e ? By the d e v i l , I don't know which i s better - To Be or Not To Be! - Oh, those with a concertina South and spring-time painted on t h e i r bed-room walls when the r e a l one outside has died never consider such a question and instead prepare t h e i r own ve r s i o n of nature l i k e a dainty meal on a p l a t e , sipping i n i n t errupted pauses so as to r e t a i n t h e i r t aste. But t h i s vagabond r e s t s r i g h t at the breast of old mother Nature who now warms, now crushes her c h i l d r e n , eccentric and moody l i k e a l l old women. But no - you are forever constant, mother nature, and you o f f e r your c h i l d r e n the f r u i t s of the green garden with which you shade them, and you give them f i r e s , and memories of you when you sleep; but Joseph was cast out int o the wilderness by h i s brothers and they locked away your g i f t s m a l i c i o u s l y which you had given to him as to the other c h i l d r e n . Oh, the brothers don't deserve -102-a Joseph among them. Let him r e s t i n peace! But now the face i s already cold and r i g i d , and sleep has put h i s s t i f f corpse in t o the arms of h i s brother. I s h a l l r a i s e i t up so that i t w i l l stand and stare l i k e a Medusa into the r i s i n g sun. Murderous death, the beggar s t i l l had knowledge of l i f e and love - a lock of brown h a i r from the head of h i s wife i s hidden beneath the rags on h i s breast. You shouldn't have murdered him, - and yet -The Dream of Love Love i s not b e a u t i f u l - i t ' s only the dream of love that enchants us. Hear my prayer, burning youth! I f you see my beloved at my breast, pluck the rose quickly and cast a white v e i l over her blushing face. The white rose of death i s l o v e l i e r than her red s i s t e r , f o r she promises memories of l i f e and renders i t precious and d e s i r a b l e . Garlanded and forever young, her image hovers above the grave of the beloved and r e a l i t y never contorts her features and does not touch her to make her grow cold and i n t e r r u p t the embrace. Oh youth, quickly rob me of my beloved, because she returns again i n my dreams and songs, and she winds the wreath of my songs, and i n my notes r i s e s away toward heaven. Only the l i v i n g one dies; the dead one remains with me, and our love and our embrace i s e t e r n a l ! -L i s t e n ! - Dance music and fun e r a l chants - r i n g i n g -103-c h e e r f u l l y l i k e the b e l l s of a f o o l . P i n e ! P l a y harder, by a l l means! Whoever drowns out the d i r g e w i l l take home the b r i d e . But a l a s ! I see two b r i d e s , a white one and a r e d one - two marriages, to one of which the mourners are howling t h e i r d i r g e s on the lower f l o o r ; one s t o r y h i g h e r the musicians are blowing and f i d d l i n g m e r r i l y , and the c e i l i n g above the death-chamber and the c o f f i n i s t r e m b l i n g and booming from the dancing. W i l l somebody please e x p l a i n t h i s n o c t u r n a l n o i s e ! Leonore r i d e s past - the white b r i d e here i n the s i l e n t marriage chamber l o v e s the youth who i s w a l t z i n g u p s t a i r s ; and t h i s i s l i f e - she loved-, he f o r g o t , she grew p a l e , and he caught f i r e f o r a r e d rose which he i s t a k i n g home today w h i l e the f i r s t one i s c a r r i e d away. -There i s the o l d mother of the white b r i d e , a t the c o f f i n - she does not weep; she i s b l i n d - and the white one does not c r y e i t h e r and s l e e p s and dreams sweetly. -Now the wedding guests, s t i l l dancing, come thundering down the s t a i r s - and suddenly the youth i s s t a n d i n g between two b r i d e s . He t u r n s a l i t t l e p a l e . S i l e n c e ! The b l i n d mother r e c o g n i z e s him by h i s f o o t - s t e p s . - She leads him to the wedding-bed of the s l e e p i n g b r i d e . "She went to s l e e p e a r l i e r t o n i g h t than you. Don't wake her. She i s s l e e p i n g so sweetly, but she was t h i n k i n g about you u n t i l s l e e p overtook her. There i s your p i c t u r e , -104-on her breast. Oh, don't p u l l your hand back from her breast so frightened; the night with the heaviest f r o s t i s always the longest, and she l i e s alone i n bed, without the bride-groom." Look! Horror has turned the red rose white, and the youth now stands between two pale brides. Away, away, that's the course of l i f e . Oh, i f only I were allowed to trumpet and sing! Now the corpse g l i d e s through the s t r e e t s followed by the s i l e n t glow of lanterns on the walls, as i f death were passing by and t r y i n g to hide from l i f e . The frozen earth cracks under the steps of the c o f f i n - b e a r e r s - that i s the f u r t i v e and i n s i d i o u s wedding song. They lay her i n her chamber. But nearby, other youths sing and r e v e l and squander away t h e i r l i v e s and loves and poetries i n short, quick bursts which have f l e d by morning, when a l l t h e i r deeds, dreams, hopes, and wishes and worlds have grown sober and cold again. Late that night, I noticed strange goings-on i n the nunnery of St. Ursula. The b e l l t o l l e d s o f t l y and d u l l y now and again, as muffled as a storm i n a dream, and on the church windows, whose arches looked over the nunnery walls, a strange l i g h t f l e d past and died quickly. Lonely, I walked around the walls which surround the holy v i r g i n s -105-l i k e a magic c i r c l e . Suddenly, I encountered someone i n a dark cloak, but what I learned from him belongs i n the next nightwatch. What I d i d , however, s t i l l belongs i n t h i s one. The porter at the gate was a b i t t e r , old misanthrope who l i k e d me because I acted as a w a l l against which he could throw h i s rage. I often v i s i t e d him at night to give h i s g a l l some exercise, and tonight I went to see him. He was s i t t i n g i n h i s hut by h i s lamp, i n the company of a black b i r d whose head he had covered with a cap and to whom he was t a l k i n g . "Do you know the creature whose face laughs m a l i c i o u s l y while the mask i n f r o n t of i t weeps? The creature that mentions God when i t thinks of the D e v i l , the creature whose i n s i d e i s f i l l e d with deadly dust l i k e the thorn apple? The creature that sings melodic l i n e s through the a r t f u l l y wound speaking-tube into which i t c a l l s out r e v o l t , the creature that smiles l i k e a sphinx only to tear you to pieces, the creature that embraces you l i k e a snake before i t s t r i k e s i t s deadly fang i n t o your breast? - Who i s t h i s creature, black one?" "Man," the animal cawed unpleasantly. " I t ' s the only word the black one speaks," sai d the porter," but that i s why he answers each of my questions c o r r e c t l y . Go to sleep, black one." The b i r d repeated "man" three more times before -106-perching i n a dark corner as i f meditating deeply - but i t was only dozing. "They're performing b u r i a l r i t e s at the nunnery tonight," said the old man. "Would you l i k e to watch? A chaste Ursuline nun became a mother today. In the old days, i t would've been noted down as a miracle and become a legend, but they've looked i n t o God's cards long ago so nobody believes i n miracles any more. Tonight the holy v i r g i n w i l l be buried a l i v e . I ' l l l e t you i n - amuse y o u r s e l f . " He took the key and the hinges squeaked, and I walked through the c l o i s t e r s stepping over graves. The glow of torches danced over the monuments on which sl e p t the white statues of v i r g i n s , t h e i r faces sculptured i n an a t t i t u d e of prayer - but down i n the nunnery, the o r i g i n a l s had already thrown o f f t h e i r masks. I h i d behind a column and looked i n t o an open v a u l t -a lo n e l y undressing room f o r the dead. A dim death-lamp burned i n the v a u l t , and a l o a f of bread, a jug of wine, a c r u c i f i x and a prayer book stood on a r a i s e d slab of stone. In the chapel above the v a u l t , deep s i l e n c e reigned among the s a i n t s looking down from t h e i r niches i n the w a l l s . Occasionally, a gust of wind swept the organ and a pipe sang s h r i l l y . The fu n e r a l procession f i n a l l y appeared through the columns - a host of s i l e n t v i r g i n s with the l i v i n g bride -107-of death i n t h e i r midst. For a p o e t i c a l l y sentimental spectator, the whole scene would have evoked a sense of horror, f o r i t was performed i n an almost mechanically f r i g h t e n i n g manner, just as the t r a g i c Muse a f f e c t s us more the l e s s she wrings her hands. However, my soul (which i s l i k e a harp p o t e n t i a l l y out of tune so that nobody can ever play sweet music on i t unless i t were the D e v i l himself who were playing) was hardly moved, and b a s i c a l l y nothing was accomplished except a mad run through the scale, which went roughly as follows and broke o f f i n a dischord: Run Through the Scale. " L i f e h u r r i e s past man so quickly that he c r i e s i n v a i n f o r i t to stand s t i l l f o r a moment so that he can ask what i t wants of him and why i t l e e r s at him. The masks of emotion f l y by, one as d i s t o r t e d as the other. Joy, answer me - c r i e s man - why do you smile at me? The mask grins and passes by. Pain, look into my eyes! Why do you appear before me? But already i t has f l e d . Rage, why do you look at me l i k e that - I no sooner ask than you disappear. "In a r i o t o u s dance, the masks twist around me - around me who am c a l l e d a man - and I stumble i n t h e i r midst, giddy at the s i g h t , t r y i n g hopelessly to grasp a w h i r l i n g shape and to r i p o f f i t s masks so that I can see the r e a l face -but they dance on and on - and I - what am I doing i n the c i r c l e ? Who am I i f the masks disappear? Give me a mirror, -108-you c a r n i v a l players, so that I might see myself as I am -I'm si c k of watching your changing features. You shake your heads. What! Is there'no v i s i o n of my s e l f i n the mirror when I step before i t ? Am I merely the thought of a thought, the dream of a dream? Can't you help me to a body, and w i l l you shake your f o o l ' s b e l l s forever while I keep pretending that they are mine? Oh! I t i s t e r r i b l y l o n e l y here i n the I as I detain you, masks, and t r y to look at myself - a l l i s a music without a dying f a l l -nowhere a shape I can grasp, and yet I see - i t must be Nothing that I seej Away, away from myself - dance on, masks!" Now the nun i s climbing down int o the v a u l t . Oh, l e t the play end so that I may know whether I am watching a comedy or a tragedy. Even during her l a s t walk i n l i f e , the bride of death i s followed by a mask - madness. The mask smiles mysteriously. Who can t e l l me whether the r e a l face beneath i t trembles or smiles e c s t a t i c a l l y ? The nuns are burying her with a vip e r to keep her company, the v i p e r of hunger which w i l l soon crawl across her breast and gnaw into her s e l f . And when the l a s t mask i s eaten away, when the s e l f i s alone with i t s e l f - how w i l l i t spend e t e r n i t y ? Now the hammers of the b r i c k layers echo through the v a u l t . One stone a f t e r another i s f i t t e d into the vault -109-of the tomb. By the lantern l i g h t , I can now see only through a narrow crack the mysterious smile of the buried nun - now only a shimmer creeping through - and now every-thing i s closed. The l i v i n g dead sing a 'Miserere' as a good-night over the head of the i n t e r r e d nun. I went and found the porter again. He was s i t t i n g as usual with h i s ancient mask of hatred. "Now do you hate mankind?" he asked me. "I'm almost alone with myself," I answered," and I hate and love as l i t t l e as p o s s i b l e . I t r y to think L'm not thinking, and maybe i n the end I might even l e a r n who I am." "Take t h i s creature with you," he continued, r a i s i n g a blanket to r e v e a l a sleeping c h i l d . "I don't want to keep him here, because sometimes I get attacks of love f o r my fellow men, and during one of these s p e l l s I might choke the c h i l d to death." I cradled the baby i n my arms, and the l i f e which rested s t i l l dreaming i n my hand r e c o n c i l e d me with the waking l i f e around me again. "They t o l d me to get r i d of i t , " the porter added. "They don't t o l e r a t e anything male among them,these pious nuns, except i n paintings, to stimulate t h e i r f a n t a s i e s . You have just seen the mother of the boy being buried. Now look f o r the father, or just throw the c h i l d out into the -110-w o r l d - h e ' l l be i n no danger, f o r mankind w i l l never s i n k . " " I know the f a t h e r , " I answered, l e a v i n g the hut. Outside, the s t r a n g e r stood huddled i n h i s c l o a k and reached out h i s hand to stop me. "The b r i d e i s b u r i e d . This i s your son." With these words I put the c h i l d i n h i s arms, and he pressed i t s i l e n t l y to h i s b r e a s t . -111-ELEVENTH NIGHTWATCH The f o l l o w i n g i s a fragment from the story of the stranger i n the cloak. I love the s e l f , so l e t the man speak f o r himself. "What i s the sun?" I asked my mother one day as she described to me the sunrise over the mountains. "My poor c h i l d , y o u ' l l never know, you were born b l i n d , " she said, passing her hand gently over my forehead and my eyes. I was on f i r e - her de s c r i p t i o n s held me spell-bound. There was a d i v i d i n g w a l l between mankind and my love f o r mankind - i f only I could see the sun just once, I thought, the w a l l would crumble, and I could be c l o s e r to my mother. Prom then on, my imagination was busy as my longing s p i r i t strove with a l l i t s might to break beyond the l i m i t a t i o n s of my body to behold the l i g h t . In the l i g h t was the land of my premonitions, an I t a l y f u l l of the miracles of a r t and nature. -112-Around me, everybody talked constantly about night and about day, but f o r me there was only e t e r n a l day, or perhaps an eternal night - everybody thought i t was the l a t t e r . I sat i n my darkness, and although the marvel of-the world was a l i v e i n my mind, i l l u m i n a t i o n was missing, and I was merely climbing around on l i f e with b l i n d - f o l d e d eyes as on a towering rock; I f e l t the s i l k of flowers and drank t h e i r smell, but i n my dreams I knew that the flower i t s e l f was i n f i n i t e l y more b e a u t i f u l than her smell or her s i l k e n cheek. One night, I had a marvellous dream i n which I saw the l i g h t . Everything i n the dream was r e a l . Yet when I awoke, I t r i e d i n vai n to r e c a l l the v i s i o n . It was during t h i s time that music walked l i k e a tender genius into my dark dungeon, sweet garlands of poetry wrapped around the s t r i n g s of her harp. She l e d me onto sacred s o i l - the f i r s t I t a l y of my longings. There was also an angel who hovered between the two Muses and introduced them to me, an angel to whom the divine Madonna h e r s e l f had given her name - Maria. She was my own age, and she enraptured the b l i n d boy with songs and melodies, r e v i v i n g the love and hope of h i s worn dreams u n t i l they stepped back into h i s l i f e l i k e b e a u t i f u l V e s t a l v i r g i n s . -113-Maria was an orphan, and on adopting her my mother had made a solemn vow to dedicate her to the service of God i f I should ever regain my s i g h t . And now I longed l e s s f o r the sun, because that would take Maria and her songs away from me. Soon I heard about a doctor whose s k i l l might help me. I wavered between c o n f l i c t i n g passions - love f o r the sun and love f o r Maria struggled i n my soul. I almost had to be forced to see the doctor. He t o l d me to be calm - and my s p i r i t stormed instead. I stood at the gates of l i f e as i f I were born a second time. I f e l t a searing pain i n my eyes and screamed be-cause my dream returned - I saw l i g h t . A thousand b r i l l i a n t f l a s h e s and beams; a b r i e f glance into the treasure of l i f e . Then the f a m i l i a r darkness f e l l again. They put a b l i n d - f o l d over my eyes, making c e r t a i n that I did not enter the new world except by small steps. I ' l l say nothing of a l l the stages between the steps -I was shown a few objects, but nothing a l i v e except f o r the doctor, u n t i l he thought me strong enough to face even the greatest experience. He l e d me out into the night. Above me, the c o n s t e l l a t i o n s burned, i n f i n i t e l y removed, and I reeled l i k e a drunkard beneath a thousand worlds, aware of God without having to c a l l His name. In'front of me, the mountains surged up, dark and s p l i n t e r e d i n the night, ruins -114-of a previous earth, and pale l i g h t n i n g from a cloudless sky f l i c k e r e d above t h e i r summits. Forests s l e p t deep and sheltered at t h e i r f e e t , and only the black peaks of the trees trembled s o f t l y . Sombre and s i l e n t , the doctor stood beside me - a few steps away something moved, not unlike a v e i l e d f i g u r e . - I prayed. Suddenly the landscape changed; s p i r i t s seemed to gather over the mountains, and the stars grew dim with fear. Behind me, a great mirror unfolded - the ocean. I trembled at the thought that God was approaching. And mists pressed down on the earth, v e i l i n g her tenderly. But i n the sky the s p i r i t s advanced powerfully, and as the stars died, golden roses flew up over the mountains in t o the blue a i r , and a magic spring blessed the sky - mightier and mightier - now a whole sea r o l l e d past, and flame a f t e r flame burned i n the waves of heaven. Now, gleaming i n a thousand l i g h t s , the sun rose above the pines l i k e a world on f i r e . I threw up my hands to cover my eyes and f e l l to the ground. When I awoke, the god of earth hovered i n the sky, and h i s bride had cast aside her v e i l s , d i s p l a y i n g her most intimate charms to the eye of the god. Sacred ground everywhere - spring hung l i k e a sweet dream i n a l l the mountains and meadows, the stars shone as flowers i n the dark grass, and a sea of l i g h t flowed from -115-a thousand sources into the garden of cr e a t i o n and colours rose from i t l i k e magic s p i r i t s . A universe f i l l e d with love and l i f e - red f r u i t s and blossoming garlands i n the trees, and fragrant wreaths around the h i l l s and mountains -b r i l l i a n t diamonds i n the grapes - b u t t e r f l i e s l i k e f l y i n g , dancing flowers i n the a i r - song from a thousand glad throats, p r a i s i n g , worshipping - and the eye of God looked back from the i n f i n i t e sea of the universe and from the dewy pearls i n the c a l i x e s of the flowers. I dared to see God! Suddenly, I heard a r u s t l i n g behind me - new v e i l s dropped from my eyes - I looked back and saw, f o r the f i r s t time, the eye of my mother, weeping. Oh night, night come back! I can no longer s u f f e r a l l t h i s l i g h t and love. -116-TWELFTH NIGHTWATCH The a f f a i r s of the world come and go i n t o t a l d i s o r d e r , so I f e e l f r e e to i n t e r r u p t the s t r a n g e r i n the middle of h i s s t o r y . I a l s o t h i n k t h a t there i s no harm i n my w i s h i n g t h a t many a great poet and author would sometimes i n t e r r u p t h i m s e l f a t the proper moment, and t h a t death might i n t e r r u p t the l i v e s of some great men - c e r t a i n examples immediately s p r i n g to mind. Sometimes, a man w i l l soar up to the sun l i k e an eagle and seem so removed th a t the earth-bound gape a f t e r the t r a n s f i g u r e d being i n a l l h i s g l o r y . - But suddenly, the e g o t i s t r e t u r n s from h i s f l i g h t , and i n s t e a d of b r i n g i n g back the s t o l e n rays of the sun l i k e a second Prometheus, he covers up the eyes of the people gathered around him i n the b e l i e f t h a t the sun i s b l i n d i n g them. Who hasn't seen t h i s eagle s o a r i n g through our rec e n t h i s t o r y ! I n c i d e n t a l l y , as f a r as the s t r a n g e r i s concerned, I -117-give my word to any authors hungering a f t e r romantic material that h i s story promises a reasonable income i n r o y a l t i e s - l e t them f i n d him i f they want to and l e t him f i n i s h h i s t a l e . -During tonight's watch I witnessed a great commotion: a wig, followed immediately by i t s owner, came f l y i n g out of the door of a famous poet, and i t was uncertain whether he was chasing the a r t i c l e before him or whether he was being chased. Intrigued by t h i s ambiguity, I detained him and forced him to confess. "My f r i e n d , " he s a i d , " I'm i n f l y i n g pursuit of immortality, and i n turn she i s chasing me. No doubt you know how d i f f i c u l t i t i s to become a c e l e b r i t y , and how i n f i n i t e l y more d i f f i c u l t i t i s to l i v e ; every business i s complaining about excessive competition, and the business of becoming f a m o u s a n d staying a l i v e i s no exception. Moreover, there have been so many complaints about a l l the shoddy workers admitted by mistake into both businesses that now you can't believe anybody any more. In my case e s p e c i a l l y , there were many obstacles put i n my way, and at f i r s t I was unable to amount to anything. You y o u r s e l f know - what chance does a man have i n t h i s world i f he enters i t with nothing but h i s naked s e l f and sound limbs? - Unless, that i s , he happens to have with him, already formed i n the womb, a crown f o r h i s head, -118-or the a b i l i t y to climb up the branches of h i s family tree the moment he has crawled from h i s egg. I can't think of any greater nonsense i n t h i s age of ours, where o f f i c e s , t i t l e s , and ribbons and stars are ready f o r a person be-fore he i s ready to wear them. Wouldn't a poor d e v i l who at h i s b i r t h couldn't s l i p r i g h t away int o a warm coat p r e f e r to leave h i s mother's body as a Christmas log, to be admired and consumed immediately? I hope you understand me, my f r i e n d ! I t r i e d to promote myself i n every way po s s i b l e . In vain, u n t i l I discovered one day that I had Kant's nose, Goethe's eyes,-Lessing's forehead, S c h i l l e r ' s mouth and the buttocks of several other great s p i r i t s ; I advertised a l l t h i s , and people began to marvel at me. I went f u r t h e r , and wrote to famous men asking them f o r t h e i r old d i s -carded junk. I was lucky. For example, I am walking i n the shoes which Kant used to wear. During the day, I put on Goethe's hat and Lessing's wig, and i n the evening I wear S c h i l l e r ' s nightcap. I even learned how to cry l i k e Kotzebue and sneeze l i k e Tieck, and you'd hardly believe the a t t e n t i o n I now command. We are creatures of the body and we would rather s t i c k with that than the soul; I'm not joking when I t e l l you that somebody who saw me s t r o l l i n g i n f r ont of him l i k e Goethe, with h i s hat on back to front and with my hands i n the f o l d s of my cloak, assured me that -119-t h i s was more amusing than Goethe's l a t e s t w r i t i n g s . - Since then, I've been i n v i t e d to the most di s t i n g u i s h e d tables, and I'm enjoying myself. But today I've been unlucky - when I t r i e d to eavesdrop i n privat e on a c e l e b r i t y who often speaks i n pu b l i c , I was welcomed l i k e a t h i e f despite the f a c t that anything I managed to acquire by eye and ear i s hardly worth mentioning." At t h i s , he put Les sing.' s wig back on h i s head and added s a r c a s t i c a l l y : "My f r i e n d , what i s the use of immortal fame i f a f t e r h i s death the wig i s more important than the man who wore i t ? - I don't even want to t a l k about immortality during l i f e , f o r the most mortal wretch can s t r u t about l i k e an immortal god during h i s l i f e t i m e while the genius i s attacked with f i s t s whenever he shows himself - remember the head that wore t h i s wig before me. Good night." I l e t the f o o l run o f f . There was a young man l o i t e r i n g i n the grave-yard by moonlight. I walked r i g h t up to him without h i s n o t i c i n g me because he was busy whipping himself in t o a state of despair with the help of intense gestures and declamation* His method i s e f f e c t i v e - I used to know a preacher who had the ea r l y morning mass who couldn't be moved to tears except by the sound of h i s own ranting . The -120-whole performance f i n a l l y seemed a l i t t l e dubious to me, so I leaped i n to help him out and handed him back h i s p i g - t a i l together with a speech s u i t a b l e f o r the occasion. But i n h i s f i r s t excitement, he nearly mistook i t f o r a dagger,with which i n vain he t r i e d to stab himself several times. I t r i e d to calm him down with the comment that t r a g i c s i t u a t i o n s are destroyed by c e r t a i n comic touches, such as King Lear dropping h i s p i g - t a i l while he i s i n h i s passion, and I was successful i n s o f a r as I got him to s i t down on a grave and agree to me fastening h i s p i g - t a i l back onto h i s head. While I did t h i s , I t r i e d to reform him by means of an apology on l i f e , to which he had to s i t and l i s t e n q u i e t l y since I was holding him by the h a i r : Apology on L i f e . By God, l i f e i s b e a u t i f u l . How can you p o s s i b l y throw i t away l i k e a p i g - t a i l , young man. Hold t h i s ribbon here. While I wind your h a i r I ' l l t r y to unwind a few beauties to you as b r i e f l y as p o s s i b l e . What i n heaven's name - provided there i s a second heaven, or a t h i r d or a fourth beside the one i n the sky -could be better than earth? Don't you f i n d the world to your l i k i n g ? The sciences, the arts and manners are i n f u l l flower and walk the st r e e t s i n modern fashion. Like -121-Holland, the state i s i n t e r s e c t e d by canals and ditches, in t o which a l l human ta l e n t s are divided and channelled c l e v e r l y , so that there i s no fear of t h e i r u n i t i n g to f l o o d the whole country. There are men who are so we l l -si t u a t e d that one might consider them very good hammers and p l i e r s , though t h e i r immortality s u f f e r s no decline; just look at t h i s colossus of mankind, how h i s whole body i s busy and working and a l i v e , as one man climbs over the other, and over t h i s second climbs a t h i r d , l i k e a group of a e r i a l a r t i s t s , with one carryi n g inventions and another dragging ideas up on the way to the top, and i t i s i n e v i t a b l e that the human race, as i t climbs higher and higher on i t s own shoulders, as i t p u l l s i t s e l f up by i t s own h a i r l i k e Mtinchhausen, w i l l eventually climb r i g h t into heaven u n t i l there i s no need to think of a second heaven. - I f the p i g - t a i l on the head of mankind holds together and i f i t i s not a f a l s e one l i k e the one which I am p l a i t i n g , what's the use of t r y i n g to f i n d any other way than t h i s of reaching a higher world? My f r i e n d , what do you think y o u ' l l gain up there? Better laws perhaps? Centuries are ready to vouch f o r ours down here! Better customs? We have r e f i n e d them to such a point that we are almost placed above them! Better c o n s t i t u t i o n s ? Haven't you got enough of them l y i n g before you l i k e a l l the colours on a map? Go to France, my f r i e n d , -122-where c o n s t i t u t i o n s change w i t h f a s h i o n s , and you can t r y on one a f t e r another, from monarchy to r e p u b l i c , and back to despotism a g a i n . There you can be b i g , and then s m a l l , and f i n a l l y average, the s t a t e which seems to s u i t mankind best. My f r i e n d , there are e x c e l l e n t remedies f o r misanthropy; I myself once had an experience where a good meal prevented me from committing s u i c i d e and where I s a i d , w e l l - s a t e d , " L i f e i s b e a u t i f u l indeed!" While others c o n s i d e r the head or the he a r t to be the seat of l i f e , I t h i n k i t ' s the stomach - the stomach i s r e s p o n s i b l e f o r a l l t h i n g s great and marvellous accomplished i n t h i s w o rld. Man i s a ravenous beast, and i f he i s g i v e n too much to eat, he vomits up the most wonderful t h i n g s d u r i n g d i g e s t i o n and i s t r a n s f i g u r e d through h i s e a t i n g and becomes immortal. Thus, what a wise arrangement of the s t a t e to l e t i t s c i t i z e n s t a r v e p e r i o d i c a l l y - as you would dogs i n t r a i n i n g them to perform! For the sake of a meal, poets warble l i k e n i g h t i n g a l e s , p h i l o s o p h e r s concoct systems, judges pass sentence, d o c t o r s h e a l , p r i e s t s howl, workers hammer, pound, b u i l d , and plough, and the world feeds i t s e l f i n t o a hi g h e r s t a t e . Yes, I c l a i m t h a t i f the Lord had f o r g o t t e n the stomach, the world would s t i l l be as crude as v/hen i t was c r e a t e d and now would h a r d l y be worth d i s c u s s i n g . -123-What do you think of any l i f e beyond i n t o which you won't take the stomach, t h i s very soul of c u l t u r e , and which you plan to enter only i n the s p i r i t ! - Don't move, I'm just knotting the f i r s t ribbon to t i e your h a i r and p i g - t a i l together. - My f r i e n d , without the stomach the s p i r i t i s l i k e a l a z y bear sucking i t s own paws. The s p i r i t i s only the f i r s t m i n i s t er of the r o y a l purse of the stomach, and i f you eliminate the stomach, the s p i r i t i s done f o r . I f there i s such a thing as transmigration, which I don't doubt i n the l e a s t , and i f the souls of the dead enter flowers and f r u i t s as w e l l as animals, which i s a l so probable, then where else can the connection l i e but i n the stomach that eats them? The soul climbs up from the stomach as i t loses i t s animal a t t r i b u t e s and r i s e s as a vapour in t o the mind - i n any case, i t ' s c e r t a i n that we can absorb the greatest sages such as Plato, or Hemsterhuis, or Kant, simply by in g e s t i n g a good meal. Consider these examples: Goethe, who a s s i m i l a t e d Hans Sachs, the Romantics and the Greeks, i s as good an eater as he i s a poet, and i n a l l l i k e l i h o o d he has dined on t h e i r s p i r i t s . Bonaparte may have dined on J u l i u s Caesar, and only the s p i r i t of Brutus seems to e x i s t uneaten somewhere. How i s i t possible f o r you to renounce t h i s stomach and t h i s l i f e , my f r i e n d , and t r y to escape t h i s a r t i f i c i a l -124-machine i n which a thousand wheels turn and prod you along. Look at the p o s s i b i l i t i e s s t i l l open to you as protagonist! B a t t l e - f i e l d s , almanacs, journals, the small theatres and the theatre of l i f e " -"I'm engaged at the court theatre," the young man interrupted, g i v i n g a bow of thanks f o r the t a i l now secure again. "The p i s t o l , by the way, i s not loaded, and I'm here only because I'm t r y i n g to absorb the r o l e of a s u i c i d e which I must play on stage tomorrow. Sobriety i s the grave of a r t ! I f I p o s s i b l y can s l i p i n t o passions as I would in t o combat-gloves, I can play my characters with f e e l i n g . Like the greatest masters, I can be miserly i f I am studying the r o l e of a miser, and I can be mad i f I have to play a l u n a t i c . " With that, he l e f t me standing there, f e e l i n g absurd and f o o l i s h . "Oh d e c e i t f u l world," I c r i e d a n g r i l y , "Nothing about you i s honest, not even the p i g - t a i l s of your inhabitants. You are an empty, stupid stage f o r f o o l s and masks, and i t i s impossible to f e e l any sense of e x a l t a t i o n while standing on you." I t seemed to me as i f I were d i s s o l v i n g i n the night under the blanketed moon and were hovering on great black wings over the earth l i k e the D e v i l . I shook myself and laughed, hoping to arouse every sleeper below me and to surprise man i n h i s underwear, stripped of make-up, -125-f a l s e teeth, f a l s e p i g - t a i l s , f a l s e breasts and f a l s e arses so that I could whistle and stomp my feet at the whole absurd heap. -126-THIRTEENTH NIGHTWATCH I climbed up the h i l l outside the c i t y - i t was the time of the vernal equinox, and Mother Earth lay outside brewing her nocturnal herbs to r i s e again i n the morning, her s i l v e r h a i r put aside and her wrinkles smoothed out, wreathed and r i n g l e t e d l i k e a young nymph, and to r a i s e her newborn c h i l d r e n up to her swelling breasts. Down i n the v a l l e y , a shepherd was blowing h i s horn, and the notes t o l d such an entrancing t a l e of a d i s t a n t country and love and youth and hope that to t h e i r accompaniment I couldn't r e s i s t composing the follo w i n g : A Spring Dithyramb. You approach, and your dark brother takes to h i s heels i n f r i g h t . His s h i e l d and armour c l a t t e r to the ground and break; and behold, blushing i n the f i r e of dawn, the young Earth steps forward, l i k e a blossoming v i r g i n ; and you k i s s the beloved, oh youth, and wind the b r i d a l -127-garland i n her h a i r . Now the l a s t g l a c i e r must thaw, and the frozen element flows free and s i l e n t among the flowers, canopied by green bushes. The mountains hold t h e i r Alpine huts high i n t o the blue sky, and dappled herds c l i n g to the slopes. Flowers bloom and dream of love, and the nightingale sings i n the bushes. The trees wind t h e i r branches in t o fragrant garlands and o f f e r them to heaven; the eagle soars praying up to the sun as i f aiming towards God, and the l a r k w h i r l s i n h i s wake, e x u l t i n g high above the adorned earth. The c a l i x of every flov/er becomes a b r i d a l chamber, and every l e a f a t i n y world. A l l c r e a t i o n sucks l i f e and love from the warm heart of the mother! - Only man -Here the alp-horn suddenly ceased, and the l a s t note and the l a s t word faded and died together. Did you write only thus, Mother Nature? Into whose hand did you put the pen to continue the work? W i l l you never t e l l us why a l l your creatures dream and are happy-while only man stands wide awake asking questions which are never answered? - Where l i e s the temple of Apollo -where i s the voice that w i l l f i n a l l y reply? I hear nothing but the echo of my own words - am I so alone? Alone! sneers the malicious voice. Mother, mother, why are you so s i l e n t ? You should not have wri t t e n creation's l a s t word i f you planned to stop there. I l e a f and l e a f -128-through the pages of the great book and f i n d n o t h i n g except t h i s one word about me and behind i t a dash, as i f the poet had kept the d e f i n i t i o n of the c h a r a c t e r he meant to complete i n s i d e h i s head and had gi v e n me only a name. I f my c h a r a c t e r was too d i f f i c u l t to develop, why d i d n ' t the poet a l s o cross out my name, which now stands alone wondering at i t s e l f , unable to fathom i t s e x i s t e n c e ? Close the book, name, u n t i l the poet i s i n the mood to f i l l the empty pages to which you are no more than a t i t l e ! -On the mountain, i n the midst of t h a t huge museum, of n a t u r e , a s m a l l a r t museum had been e r e c t e d , and now a number of experts and amateurs f i l e d i n t o i t , c a r r y i n g t o r c h e s so t h a t they might imagine the dead to be a l i v e i n the f l i c k e r i n g flame. I too o c c a s i o n a l l y get i n t o the mood f o r a r t , more or l e s s out of p e r v e r s i t y , and I o f t e n l i k e to step from the great museum i n t o the l e s s e r one to see how man, though he l a c k s the a b i l i t y to breathe l i f e i t s e l f i n t o h i s c r e a t i o n s , n e v e r t h e l e s s s c u l p t s and carves q u i t e n i c e l y and even i n s i s t s a f t e r w a r d s t h a t h i s work transcends nature. I f o l l o w e d the experts and amateurs! The marble gods which I saw there were c r i p p l e s without arms and l e g s , and some even l a c k e d heads: the most b e a u t i -f u l and e x a l t e d v i s i o n s dreamt by man, the whole heaven -129-of a great and vanished race dug up as corpses from Herculaneum and the bed of the Tiber. A resthome of immortal gods and heroes standing among a p i t i f u l mankind. The ancient a r t i s t s who had thought and shaped these torsos wandered through my mind. Now a l i t t l e amateur from among the v i s i t o r s began to climb a Medici Venus who had l o s t her arms. His mouth puckered, and almost weeping, he struggled to k i s s her rear-end, famous as the most s u c c e s s f u l l y executed part of the goddess. I grew angry because i n these he a r t l e s s times I can't stand the mask of enthusiasm which some faces can assume so e a s i l y , and I leaped enraged onto an empty pedestal to squander away a few words. "Young a r t love r , " I s a i d , " The divine arse i s much too high f o r you. With your short stature, you can't reach i t without breaking your neck. I'm speaking out of the kindness of my heart because I'm sorry to see you climbing around endangering your l i f e . According to the rabbis, Adam measured a hundred e l l s before the f a l l of man, but we have grown s i g n i f i c a n t l y smaller since then, and we are p r o g r e s s i v e l y diminishing throughout the ages so that i n our century one should be warned against a l l neck -breaking attempts such as the one we are now witnessing. What do you want of t h i s marble maiden, who at any moment could turn into an i r o n maiden f o r you i f she weren't l a c k i n g -130-r e a l arms f o r an embrace; her substitute arms are useless and couldn't even serve as a f i s t f o r Berlichingen, f o r they resemble only the wooden arms of s o l d i e r s who have been shot to pieces. My f r i e n d , no matter how our a r t r e s t o r e r s heal and mend, they w i l l never put together again these gods maimed by c r u e l time l i k e t h i s f a l l e n torso here, and they can be reconstructed only as i n v a l i d s and c e l e b r i t i e s of the past. Once, they stood t a l l and had arms and thighs and heads, and a race of heroes knelt before them i n the dust. Now the s i t u a t i o n i s reversed: they l i e on the ground while our enlightened century stands high and while we ourselves t r y to pass as gods. My dear a r t l o v e r , what has become of us that we dare to d i g up these great graves of gods and drag the immortal dead into the l i g h t though we know that the Romans punished the v i o l a t i o n even of human graves. Of course, our en-lightened c r i t i c s consider the dead gods to be i d o l s , and a r t to be a pagan sect which has crept i n to d e i f y and worship these i d o l s . But what i s your opinion, my f r i e n d ? The ancients chanted hymns. Aeschylus and Sophocles con-structed the chorus to praise the gods, our modern a r t r e l i g i o n prays i n c r i t i q u e s and holds i t s devotions i n the b r a i n rather than the heart as the true b e l i e v e r does. We should put the ancients back i n t h e i r graves again, I think. Kiss the arse, young man - go ahead and k i s s i t --131-and then l e t i t be! But i f you don't r e a l l y want to worship, my f r i e n d , I refuse to l e t you gawk and marvel at the expense of nature; I protest your attempt to turn these gods into men. Take your choice - e i t h e r pray to them, or bury them! -My dear fellow, don't look at me l i k e that! Why don't you b r i n g nature, and I mean r e a l nature, i n t o t h i s g a l l e r y and l e t her speak? By the D e v i l , she w i l l laugh at man's f o o l i s h features, which must appear to her as absurd as the bugbear i n Horace's e p i s t l e s to the Pisones. Let her t e l l you whether she would ever have created t h i s nose to f i t that toe, t h i s forehead to f i t that mouth, those buttocks f o r that hand; I'm sure she would be angry i f you t r i e d to i n s i s t that she di d . This Apollo would probably have been a c r i p p l e i f she had continued the job begun at the l i t t l e toe, and t h i s Antinous would probably have turned out a Ther s i t e s , and that t r a g i c , magnificent Laocobn perhaps a kind of Caliban i f everything were r e -formed according to her laws. Yes, what would happen to t h i s Minerva, t h i s epitome of an i d e a l , whose s p i r i t , i n v i s i b l e l i k e a l l s p i r i t s , i s now enthroned i n s i d e her missing head? This headless Minerva, by the way, excites my imagination much more than Agamemnon weeping beneath h i s cloak i n Timanthes' famous pai n t i n g . Just as the l a t t e r advised -132-a r t i s t s merely to hint at the presence of agony, so does t h i s Minerva merely hint at the p o s s i b i l i t y of sublime beauty. Our modern sculptors s t i l l follow Timanthes! advice, and t h e i r heads should therefore be seen as nothing but surrogates.for heads i n a two-fold sense, standing up there l i k e ornaments merely to complete the f i g u r e . - The ancients, l i k e Prometheus over there i n the corner, baked t h e i r human f i g u r e s out of clay, but they also breathed into them the f i r e of the sun; - we, however, are a f r a i d of danger and don't l i k e to play with f i r e , and therefore we dispense with the spark; - we even have a f i r e brigade - censorship and review boards -, which quickly chokes any flame which threatens to break out. With us, the spark of l i f e doesn't stand a chance. What a f i n e s o c i a l arrangement of ours to prefer f u n c t i o n a l machinery to courageous s p i r i t among our c i t i z e n s , to whip the fox out of h i s sk i n and to use only the skin, and to value the hands and feet of our subjects, which are durable spinning and t r e a d l i n g machines, higher than the head. - The state needs only one head, but a hundred arms, l i k e Briareus - but that's enough!" -I broke o f f i n f r i g h t , because i n the deceptive glow of the torches the v/hole c r i p p l e d Olympus around me suddenly seemed to come to l i f e ; an angry J u p i t e r struggled up from hi s throne, an earnest Apollo reached f o r h i s bow and h i s -133-r i n g i n g harp, the serpents c o i l e d m i g h t i l y around a s t r u g g l i n g Laocoon and h i s dying sons, Prometheus formed men with the stumps of h i s arms, and mute Niobe protected the smallest of her c h i l d r e n against the f a l l i n g arrows of the sun. The Muses, without hands, arms or l i p s s t i r r e d as i f labouring to play and sing ancient songs long dead -but everything remained s i l e n t and no more than the spasms of the dying on a b a t t l e - f i e l d ; - only deep i n the background beyond the l i g h t , a chorus of Furies stood frozen and p e t r i f i e d , s t a r i n g dark-eyed and t e r r i b l e at the struggle. -134-FOURTEENTH NIGHTWATCH Come back with me to the madhouse, dear reader, s i l e n t companion of my n i g h t l y rounds. You w i l l remember my l i t t l e c e l l , provided you haven't l o s t the thread of my t a l e , which weaves hidden l i k e a l i t t l e brook between the rocks and f o r e s t s which I have heaped around i t . I was l y i n g i n that c e l l as i n the cave of the Sphinx, shut i n with my own r i d d l e , and I was happily on the road toward accepting madness as the only decent system, having discovered that lunacy was the most durable of a l l philosophies. A f t e r a l l , I had opportunity enough to compare the r e s u l t s of the u n i v e r s a l school of l i f e with t h i s smaller i n s t i t u t i o n s "Let me explain," say wr i t e r s whenever they want to s t a r t from the beginning, and I must do lik e w i s e , since tonight I plan to hatch the single nightingale egg of my love; f o r around me nightingales are singing i n every branch and bush tonight and are bursting i n unison i n t o one great song. - 135 -In a guest r o l e , I once performed Hamlet at a court theatre because of my anger at mankind, and to vent my spleen at the f r o n t row of the audience as they sat there. That evening i t happened that Ophelia took her imagined madness too s e r i o u s l y and ran o f f the stage quite insane. There was a great turmoil, and while other d i r e c t o r s busy themselves coaching people i n t o r o l e s , ours struggled with a l l h i s might to coach h i s primadonna out of her r o l e ; -but i n vain, the powerful hand of Shakespeare, that second creator, had seized her too v i o l e n t l y , and to the amaze-ment of everyone backstage, he would not l e t her go. For me, t h i s i n t r u s i o n of a giant's hand into a stranger's l i f e was an i n t e r e s t i n g spectacle, t h i s metamorphosis of a r e a l person into a poetic one, who now began to pace the stage on her buskins and to sing ragged verses that sounded l i k e divine oracles. No matter how good were the reasons everybody gave, she refused to come to her senses, f i g h t i n g so b i t t e r l y that there was no choice but to send her to an asylum. Much to my s u r p r i s e , I met her here again. Her door was close to mine, and I could hear her sing every day about the clogs and the s h e l l - h a t of her lover. A wretch l i k e me, f u l l of hatred and scorn, born not from a mother's body l i k e other men but from a pregnant volcano, has no sympathy f o r love and such l i k e ; nevertheless, i t was -136-something l i k e t h a t which c r e p t up on me here i n the mad-house, and yet i n s t e a d of r e v e a l i n g i t s e l f i n the u s u a l symptoms, such as a p r o c l i v i t y f o r moonlight, p o e t i c headaches, and such l i k e , i t f i r s t came as a h e c t i c attempt on my p a r t to w r i t e a manifesto f o r f o o l s and to found a colony f o r l u n a t i c s who were e v e n t u a l l y to be s e t loose upon the w o r l d . But soon t h i s insane emotion c a l l e d l o v e , which once dropped l i k e a patch of heaven upon the a r i d d e s e r t we c a l l e a r t h , took h o l d of me i n e a r n e s t , and to my h o r r o r I wrote s e v e r a l poems- i n v e r s e , gaped a t the moon, and sometimes even warbled to accompany the n i g h t i n g a l e s clamouring o u t s i d e my window. Once, I h o n e s t l y f e l t some emotion on a s o - c a l l e d s e n t i m e n t a l evening; yes, i n r a r e moments I could look c o n t e n t e d l y out of the hole of my Caucasian cave and t h i n k about l e s s than n o t h i n g . - I even put some of these m e d i t a t i o n s on paper d u r i n g t h a t time, and I ' l l r e s u r r e c t a few of them f o r the b e n e f i t of any s o u l s i n c l i n e d toward the s e n t i m e n t a l : To the Moon. Gentle face f i l l e d w i t h goodness and f e e l i n g ; s u r e l y you must possess both s i n c e you never open your mouth up there i n the sky, n e i t h e r to curse nor to yawn when a thousand f o o l s and l o v e r s address t h e i r s i g h s and prayers -137-to you and pick you as t h e i r confidant; as long as you have been running around t h i s earth, as her companion and Cicisbeo, you have always been a steady and true f r i e n d , and one can't f i n d a sin g l e example i n world h i s t o r y a l l the way back to Adam of your becoming u n w i l l i n g or blowing your nose or assuming s l y faces although you have heard these sighs and laments repeated times without number. You always pay a t t e n t i o n , and sometimes you even hide behind the handkerchief of a cloud to dry your tears. What better audience than you could a poet choose to read h i s work to, what better f r i e n d could I choose as I waste away with love here i n the asylum. How pale you are, my f r i e n d . How sympathetic, how a c c e s s i b l e to a l l those who stand and stare at you r i g h t now. The gentleness of your face could e a s i l y be mistaken f o r s t u p i d i t y , e s p e c i a l l y today as your face has gained weight and you look quite rotund and well- f e d ; but gain as you w i l l , I have no doubt about your unwavering sympathy, f o r you are s t i l l the same good old man and w i l l lose weight and consume you r s e l f - yes, you even cover your face, when sympathy overpowers you, l i k e the weeping Agamemnon, so that one can see nothing of you . except the back of your head grown bald with g r i e f ! -Goodbye, you t r u s t y one, you good one! To Love. Woman, what do you want from me, c l i n g i n g to me l i k e -138-that? Haven't you looked c l o s e l y at my face yet? - You with your smile and your sweet, f l i r t i n g glances, and I with a l l that rage and anger i n my Medusa face. My he-loved, consider, we present a much too unmatched p a i r . Let me go, by the D e v i l ! I w i l l have nothing to do with you! You smile again and hold me back? What i s t h i s mask of a god in..front of your face with which you look at me? I ' l l tear i t away from you to lea r n about the animal behind i t ; r e a l l y , I don't think your true face i s one of the most enchanting. - Heavens, I'm g e t t i n g worse and worse, I coo and languish p i t i f u l l y - are you t r y i n g to drive me completely mad! Woman, how can you enjoy p l a y i n g a screeching f i d d l e l i k e me! The composition was wri t t e n to accompany a curse, and I'm forced to sing a love song.' Oh, l e t me curse rather than pine away i n such dreadful tones. Breathe your sighs i n t o a f l u t e - from me they issue f o r t h as from a bugle, and when I coo I'm pounding b a t t l e drums. - And now even the f i r s t k i s s - oh, everything else I could've survived, l i k e everything which e x i s t s only i n language and i n sound, and I s t i l l would've been permitted to have my own s i l e n t doubts - but the f i r s t k i s s - I have never kissed before, out of hatred f o r a l l tender and moving hypocrisy -monster, i f I knew you could t r i c k me into that, I would summon my l a s t strength and f l i n g you from me! In suchlike fragments, I t r i e d to bring myself down -139-to earth and to r i d myself of my passions i n an orderly and methodical fashion, l i k e many a w r i t e r who f l i n g s down hi s emotions on paper f o r so long that f i n a l l y they've a l l gone and he can stand there burned-out and sober. But everything went wrong. Indeed, the symptoms became ever more c r i t i c a l and I began to wander around very much absorbed i n myself and f e l t almost human and humbled before the world. Once I even thought that t h i s might p o s s i b l y be the best of a l l worlds, that man might be more than the f i r s t of the animals, that he might be of some value and might even be immortal. At t h i s point, I gave myself up f o r l o s t and became as tedious and t r i t e as any lover. I was no longer h o r r i f i e d at w r i t i n g verse, and I could even stay sentimental f o r a length of time and grew used to c e r t a i n l o v e - s i c k expressions which previously I would've refused to u t t e r . Now I launched my f i r s t love l e t t e r , which together with . the other exchanges of l e t t e r s , I w i l l add f o r your e d i f i c a t i o n . Hamlet to Ophelia. "To the c e l e s t i a l , and my soul's i d o l , the most b e a u t i f i e d Ophelia". This i n t r o d u c t i o n , which I used i n my f i r s t l e t t e r to you when we were only lovers on the stage, might delude you into thinking that I s t i l l labour -140-under a feigned lunacy, as i n those days, and under meta-p h y s i c a l s o p h i s t r i e s gathered i n my student years. But don't l e t y o u r s e l f he deceived, my i d o l , because t h i s time I'm r e a l l y insane - everything r e a l l y l i e s i n ourselves, and outside of us nothing i s r e a l . Indeed, according to the most recent school of thought, we don't r e a l l y know whether we are standing on our heads or our heels, and we have only accepted the former through t r u s t and f a i t h . -I'm deadly serious, Ophelia, and you must not believe f o r a moment that I'm faking. - Oh, how everything i s changed i n your poor Hamlet - t h i s whole earth, which once seemed to him a neglected garden of thorns and n e t t l e s , a gathering-place of p e s t i l e n t i a l vapours, has been trans-formed before h i s eyes i n t o an Eldorado, i n t o a blossoming garden of the Hesperides; when he used to hate the world, he was so free and healthy, and now that he loves i t , he i s a slave and nearly i l l . - My dearest - I wish I could say "my most detested", and then there would be nothing which could chain me to t h i s stupid planet and I could f l i n g myself down from i t happily and j o y f u l l y i n t o e t e r n a l Nothing - my dearest, unfortunately! I w i l l no longer t e l l you as I d i d before, "Get thee to a nunnery!", f o r I'm mad enough to believe that i f a man loves, he i s something more than nothing even though he i s s t i l l rushing headlong towards death and death towards him u n t i l the two f i n a l l y -141-meet and embrace f i r m l y and f o r e v e r - w h e t h e r i t be a t t h e s t o n e where S t . G ustav d i e d , on the s c a f f o l d where t h e b e a u t i f u l M a r i a b l e d , o r a t any worse o r b e t t e r p l a c e . I know f o r s u r e t h a t t h e D e v i l h o v e r s o v e r th e e a r t h , l a u g h i n g s c o r n f u l l y , and t h a t he has t hrown l o v e , as an e n c h a n t i n g mask, down upon i t f o r a l l t h e c h i l d r e n o f man t o f i g h t o v e r j u s t so t h a t t h e y can h o l d i t up i n f r o n t o f t h e i r f a c e s f o r a moment. See, I t o o have t o my m i s -f o r t u n e s e i z e d t h e mask and am f l i r t i n g t e n d e r l y w i t h t h e d e a t h ' s head t h a t l i e s b e h i n d i t and, by t h e D e v i l , have a mind t o p r o p a g a t e t h e human r a c e w i t h you. Oh, i f t h e a c c u r s e d mask d i d n o t e x i s t , t h e n th e sons o f e a r t h w o u l d s u r e l y have c i r c u m v e n t e d Judgement Day w i t h a l a w a g a i n s t p r o p a g a t i o n so t h a t our L o r d , o r whoever e l s e m i g h t want t o see t h e w o r l d ' s f i n a l h o u r , w o u l d t o h i s amazement - f i n d i t a l t o g e t h e r d e p o p u l a t e d o f man. But l e t me f i n a l l y g e t t o t h e p o i n t w h i c h I can no l o n g e r a v o i d no m a t t e r how I t r y - t o my d e c l a r a t i o n o f l o v e ! S i n c e my b i r t h , no moment has been madder, w i l d e r o r more m i s a n t h r o p i c t h a n t h i s moment when I w r i t e i n a r a g e t h a t I l o v e y o u , t h a t I w o r s h i p you, and t h a t b e s i d e s t h e u r g e t o h a t e and l o a t h e you, I have no g r e a t e r d e s i r e t h a n t o h e a r you c o n f e s s y o u r l o v e f o r me. Y our l o v i n g Hamlet. -142-Ophelia to Hamlet My r o l e demands l o v e and h a t r e d , and f i n a l l y madness as w e l l - but t e l l me, do any of these r e a l l y e x i s t i n themselves so t h a t I might know and choose a c c o r d i n g l y ? Is there a n y t h i n g i n i t s e l f or i s i t a l l only word and b r e a t h and much f a n t a s y ? - See, I can't f i n d my way, whether I'm a dream - whether i t i s only i l l u s i o n or t r u t h , and whether t r u t h i s more than dream - one onion l a y e r around the o t h e r , and I'm o f t e n a t the p o i n t of l o s i n g my mind about i t . Help me study myself back i n t o my r o l e u n t i l I f i n d myself. Do I e x i s t a t a l l o u t s i d e my r o l e , or i s e v e r y t h i n g r o l e , and I myself nothing? The a n c i e n t s had t h e i r gods, and they c a l l e d one of them Dream. He must have f e l t strange i m a g i n i n g h i m s e l f r e a l though he knew he was only a dream. I sometimes t h i n k t h a t man i s l i k e t h a t god. I'd l i k e to t a l k w i t h myself f o r a moment to l e a r n whether i t i s I who l o v e s , or whether i t ' s the name Opheli a t h a t does the l o v i n g . See, I'm t r y i n g to c a t c h up to myself, but I'm always running ahead w h i l e my name t r a i l s behind, and now I'm back to my r o l e a g a i n - but the r o l e i s not I . I f you can l e a d me to my s e l f , I ' l l ask i t i f i t l o v e s you. Ophelia. -143-Hamlet to Ophelia. Don't think so much about these things, my dear Ophelia, f o r they are so confusing that they could e a s i l y lead to the madhouse! Everything i s r o l e , the r o l e i t s e l f and the actor who i s i n s i d e , and inside him h i s thoughts and schemes and joys and f o o l i s h pranks - everything belongs to the moment and f l e e s quickly l i k e the word from the l i p s of the actor. - Everything i s only theatre, whether the actor plays on the earth i t s e l f or two steps higher on the boards, or two steps down i n the s o i l , where the worms snatch up the departed king's c u e - l i n e s , whether spring, winter, summer or autumn decorate the stage and whether the d i r e c t o r hangs out a sun or a moon or makes thunder and storms off-stage - everything passes, i s extinguished and changes - except f o r spring i n the heart of man; and when the scenery has f i n a l l y been removed, i t ' s only a strange, naked skeleton standing behind i t , without colour and l i f e , and the skeleton grins at the other actors s t i l l running around. You want to study y o u r s e l f out of your r o l e , down to the s e l f ? - Behold, there stands the skeleton, throws a handful of dust into the a i r and collapses - and i n the background there i s mocking laughter. I t ' s the ghost of the universe, or the D e v i l - or an echo of nothing! -144-To be or not to be! How stupid I was when I asked that question, p l a c i n g my f i n g e r to my nose, and how i n f i n i t e l y more stupid a l l those who repeated the phrase a f t e r me and puzzled about the meaning behind i t a l l . I should've asked "to be" about i t s own existence, and then something might be fathomed l a t e r about the "not to be". In those days on the stage, I was s t i l l burdened with the doctrine of immortality which I had picked up at u n i v e r s i t y , and I pursued i t through a l l i t s categories. As a matter of f a c t , I used to be a f r a i d of death because of the immortality - and by God, I would be j u s t i f i e d i n so doing i f t h i s tedious 'comedie larmoyante' were to be followed by a second one - I think i t doesn't mean anything. So, my dear Ophelia, forget a l l you have been saying and l e t us love and propagate and commit every foolishness -i f only out of revenge so that our seed w i l l help to perpetuate t h i s tedious l i f e u n t i l an actor f i n a l l y a r r i v e s who w i l l tear the s c r i p t apart and f a l l out of h i s r o l e to stop t h i s senseless p l a y - a c t i n g f o r the b e n e f i t of a non-existent audience. Love me, i n other words, v/ithout f u r t h e r brooding! Hamlet. Ophelia to Hamlet. You are a cue-word i n the r o l e I play, and I cannot -145-erase you any more than I can tear out the pages on which my love f o r you i s wri t t e n . And since I can't study myself out of my r o l e , I ' l l study on to the end and the f i n a l e x i t , behind which the e s s e n t i a l s e l f w i l l be waiting. Then I ' l l perhaps be able to t e l l you i f there's anything besides the r o l e , i f my s e l f i s a l i v e , and i t i t loves you. Ophelia. This exchange of l e t t e r s was followed by an exchange of words, and further exchanges of glances and kisses and such l i k e f i n a l l y l e d to an exchange of our selves. A few months l a t e r we had created the cue-word f o r a new r o l e . - I f e l t almost happy during t h i s time and experienced f o r the f i r s t time a sort of love f o r man i n the asylum, so that I thought s e r i o u s l y about plans f o r making Plato's Republic a r e a l i t y with the help of fellow l u n a t i c s . But then the Dream God crossed out a l l my plans. Ophelia became paler and paler and more and more r a t i o n a l , although the doctor thought that her madness was incre a s i n g : t h i s was the only time he had ever talked sense. It was storming f u r i o u s l y outside the asylum - I pressed against the bars and stared into the night - nothing else was v i s i b l e i n heaven or earth. I t seemed as i f I -146-were s t a n d i n g on the b r i n k of a v o i d c a l l i n g i n t o i t w i t h o u t making a sound - I grew scared, t h i n k i n g t h a t I had a c t u a l l y c r i e d out l o u d , but I only heard myself some-where i n s i d e myself. L i g h t n i n g without i t s accompaniment of thunder cut arrow-sharp through the n i g h t , and w i t h i t a k i n d of d a y l i g h t came and went r a p i d l y . On one s i d e of me, a madman r a t t l e d h i s chains h o r r i b l y , and on the other s i d e , I could hear Ophe l i a s i n g i n g fragments of her b a l l a d s , but o f t e n her melodies turned i n t o s i g h s , and f i n a l l y e v e r y t h i n g seemed a great disharmony to which the r a t t l i n g c h a i n s p l a y e d the accompaniment. I f e l t as i f I- had d i e d . I saw myself alone i n nowhere; i n the f a r d i s t a n c e the l a s t dim l i g h t of e a r t h faded - but i t was o n l y a thought of mine which had j u s t ended. A s i n g l e note trembled d a r k l y through the nothingness - i t was the f i n a l t o l l i n g of time, and now e t e r n i t y began. I thought my s e l f ; I had stopped t h i n k i n g e v e r y t h i n g e l s e . Not a s i n g l e o b j e c t anywhere except a g r e a t , t e r r i b l e I which f e d on i t s e l f and i n s t a n t l y gave b i r t h to i t s e l f a gain. I d i d not s i n k , f o r there was no space to s i n k i n t o , but n e i t h e r d i d I seem to r i s e . A l l change had disappeared together w i t h time, g i v i n g way to d r e a d f u l , endless boredom. T e r r i f i e d , I t r i e d to a n n i h i l a t e myself - but I remained and f e l t myself immortal. Here the dream destroyed i t s e l f through i t s own g r e a t -ness and I awokej s i g h i n g deeply - the l i g h t was gone, and - 1 4 7 -night was everywhere; I heard Ophelia singing her ballads q u i e t l y , l i k e l u l l a b i e s . I f e l t my way along the walls of my c e l l , and outside i n the darkness some l u n a t i c s crept along beside me, h i s s i n g s o f t l y . I opened Ophelia's door. She was l y i n g pale on her bed, t r y i n g to l u l l a s t i l l - b o r n c h i l d to sleep at her breast; a crazy g i r l stood beside her, her fi n g e r held to her l i p s as i f warning me to s i l e n c e . "Now i t ' s sleeping," said Ophelia smiling, and her smile was l i k e an open grave. "Thank God there's such a thing as death without e t e r n i t y , " I said i n v o l u n t a r i l y . She kept on smiling and began to whisper, as i f her words were about to melt into vapour and vanish i n t o s i l e n c e , " My r o l e i s f i n i s h e d , but my s e l f remains, and i t ' s only the r o l e which they bury. Thank God that I've found my way out of the play and can cast away my assumed name; a f t e r the performance, the s e l f begins." "The s e l f i s nothing," I sa i d , shaking my head. Almost inaudible, she continued, "There i t stands behind the scenes waiting f o r me; i f only the c u r t a i n were f u l l y down! - I love you! That i s my l a s t speech i n the play and the only part I ' l l t r y to keep - i t was the best part! Let them bury the r e s t ! -The c u r t a i n f e l l , and Ophelia exited - nobody applauded, and i t was as i f the theatre were empty. She sl e p t with - U S -her c h i l d at her breast and both were pale and one could not hear any breath, f o r death had already put h i s white mask upon them. I stood beside the bed with a storm gathering i n s i d e me, and something burst out of me into the a i r , l i k e wild laughter - I grew a f r a i d , f o r instead of the expected laughter, I wept the f i r s t tear i n my l i f e . Nearby, some-one else was howling - but i t was only the storm w h i s t l i n g through the madhouse. When I looked up, I saw l u n a t i c s i n a s e m i - c i r c l e around the bed, and although they remained s i l e n t , they were g e s t i c u l a t i n g and miming i n strange ways; a few were smiling, others v/ere deep i n thought, while others were shaking t h e i r heads or woodenly watching the pale sleeper and the c h i l d . Number nine was among them, holding h i s f i n g e r to h i s l i p s i n a s i g n i f i c a n t gesture. I f e l t a shudder of fear i n t h e i r c i r c l e ! -149-v FIFTEENTH NIGHTWATCH Although everyday experience proves that f o o l s are to l e r a t e d i n every walk of l i f e , the a u t h o r i t i e s nevertheless resented my attempt to propagate f o o l s , and as punishment they threw me out of the asylum. Alas, I f e l t very unhappy having to say f a r e w e l l to my brothers and to consort with the sane again; and as the door of the asylum clanged shut behind me, I stood a l l by myself and went sadly to f i n d the graveyard to which they had c a r r i e d Ophelia. I f only I could have found some Laertes to f i g h t with beside the grave, f o r when I l e f t the asylum, I took with me an increased hatred f o r a l l the sane people walking past me on the st r e e t with t h e i r d u l l , vacant faces. Both the r i c h and the poor have one great advantage over a l l other men i n that they can indulge t h e i r urge to t r a v e l as much as they please. The r i c h man unlocks the splendours of the earth with a golden key, while the pauper -150-has free admission to nature and can move int o the best mansions i f he wants; today in t o Aetna, tomorrow into F i n g a l ' s cave; t h i s week int o Rousseau's summer place at Lake Geneva and next week int o the marvellous c r y s t a l h a l l s of the F a l l s of the Rhine, where the sun weaves rainbows instead of a painted c e i l i n g over h i s head and where nature r e - b u i l d s h i s palace by destroying i t constantly. Show me the king who can l i v e i n greater splendour than a pauper! Moreover, I t r a v e l l e d with the advantage of no-one hounding me to pay f o r my drinks, and I had to thank nobody f o r my evening supper except old Mother Nature h e r s e l f ; f o r the earth s t i l l kept a few roots i n her lap which she did not deny me, and she offered my t h i r s t y l i p s a fr e s h , bubbling drink from her w a t e r - f a l l i n a dish carved out i n the rock. - I was free and happy and hated men, whenever I. f e l t l i k e i t , f o r creeping about t h i s great sun temple i n t h e i r p a l t r y and useless ways. Once, I had just got up from ray bed of fragrant, flowering t u r f , and was looking i n t o the dawn as i t rose l i k e a s p i r i t out of the sea while I was b i t i n g on a piece of root which I had dug up out of the ground, thus combining the p r a c t i c a l with the pleasant. I t i s a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of human greatness to be able to indulge -151-i n secondary business i n the presence of awesome events, such as confronting the sun with a pipe i n one's mouth, or d i n i n g on macaroni during a tragedy, and so on; man has made extraordinary progress i n such matters. As I lay there so comfortably, my mood prompted me to s o l i l o q u i z e as follow s : "There's nothing better than laughter, and I value i t almost as much as other educated men praise weeping, though a tear i s e a s i l y brought f o r t h simply by s t a r i n g at one spot, or by mechanically reading a Kotzebue drama, or even by bouts of laughter. Didn't I r e c e n t l y see an emaciated man shed p l e n t i f u l tears at the sight of the r i s i n g sun, while others standing nearby praised the tears as proof of a s e n s i t i v e soul u n t i l they too began to weep at the crying man? I was the only one to ask, "My f r i e n d , does the sight r e a l l y move you so much?" "Of course not!" he s a i d , " But according to new observations, the rays of the sun, besides causing sneezes and tears, also a f f e c t sexual reproduction; and I was i n I t a l y ! " I understood the man, who was s t a r i n g into the sun looking f o r some-thing more r e a l than f a n t a s t i c . As I turned away laughing, the others, s t i l l weeping, berated me harshly. Struck by the contrast, I laughed a l l the harder, and i f I hadn't run, they would've stoned me out of sheer s e n s i t i v i t y ! — What could be a better weapon than laughter f o r -152-defying the world's scorn and fate i t s e l f ? Even the most heavily-armed enemy i s frightened by the s a t i r i c a l mask, and misfortune i t s e l f moves away from me, scared, whenever I dare to mock i t with laughter! By the D e v i l , what i s t h i s earth and i t s sentimental companion the moon good f o r i f not f o r laughing at - indeed, i f the earth has any value at a l l , i t ' s only because laughter i s at home here. Everything on t h i s planet was arranged so thoroughly and s e n s i t i v e l y that the D e v i l , once looking i t over to pass the time, grew angry; to avenge himself on the master b u i l d e r he sent down Laughter, which managed to sneak i n masked as Joy so that mankind accepted her w i l l i n g l y , u n t i l i n the end the. mask dropped to mock the world with the face of s a t i r e . Let me have laughter f o r the length of my l i f e and I s h a l l endure." "Hoho," somebody shouted i n my ear, and when I turned around, I found a wooden puppet s t a r i n g me i n the face i n s o l e n t l y and d e f i a n t l y . "He's my patron," sa i d a huge man, holding the puppet toward me. A large t r a v e l l i n g trunk stood beside him. "You'd make a talented clown, and I happen to need one f o r the one I had just died today. I f you f e e l l i k e i t , j o i n me; the job pays w e l l , so you can s t u f f y o u r s e l f with better things than roots." During t h i s conversation, the puppet looked at me so t r u s t i n g l y that I f e l t drawn to him as i f to a f r i e n d . -153-"The fellow was carved i n Venice," said the puppet-player as i f to encourage me - "and I bet he does h i s job better than any other. Just look how he stands and s t r u t s as i f h i s legs v/ere r e a l ; see how he puts h i s hand to h i s heart, how he drinks and eats when I p u l l the s t r i n g s and how he laughs and c r i e s l i k e a normal human when the s t r i n g i s p u l l e d l i g h t l y . " " A l l r i g h t , I ' l l accept your o f f e r , " I sa i d , p u t t i n g the trunk on my shoulders. As I c a r r i e d i t along, the wooden society i n s i d e r a t t l e d as i f performing a French Revolution to pass the time. At the inn, v/e found the theatre ready and some v i l l a g e r s waiting to see the performance. The d i r e c t o r gave me a quick lesson on the theory of tragedy and comedy, and to amuse me he opened a small side-door where my predecessor was l y i n g i n the straw dressed i n a shroud, with h i s r o l e a l l f i n i s h e d ; h i s face was contorted m a l i c i o u s l y , and the d i r e c t o r s a i d , " He died because he was laughing so hard he choked." "A b e a u t i f u l death," I r e p l i e d , and we made preparations to d i r e c t the troupe of puppets. My partner's s p e c i a l t y was lovers and mistresses, v/hom he played i n a high f a l s e t t o . My major r o l e , on the other hand, was the clown, but as a s i d e - l i n e I also had to look a f t e r the kings. When the c u r t a i n f e l l , the d i r e c t o r embraced me passionately -154-and i n s i s t e d I was a c r e d i t to the profession. However, how dearly one can pay f o r d i r e c t i n g was a thing we had opportunity to l e a r n even among puppets; i t a l l happened l i k e t h i s : We had set up our stage i n a l i t t l e German v i l l a g e near the French border. On the other side, they were just enacting the great tragi-comedy i n which a king makes an unsuccessful debut and i n which the buffoon, i n the r o l e of equality and l i b e r t y , r a t t l e s s k u l l s instead of b e l l s . We had the unfortunate idea of introducing Holof.ernes on the stage, and t h i s so enraged the farmers who were present that they stormed the stage, kidnapping our puppet Judith and dragging her together with Holofernes' severed wooden head to the house of the mayor, v/here they demanded no l e s s than the l a t t e r ' s own head. The head thus threatened grew very pale as the rebels confronted him with the bloody wooden one, and since the s i t u a t i o n seemed to be becoming worse and worse, I decided to change things f o r the better. I seized the head of Holofernes, jumped onto a rock, and i n my f r i g h t t r i e d to put together t h i s speech: "Dear Countrymen. Look at t h i s bleeding v/ooden head of a king that I'm holding up f o r a l l of you to see. When i t was s t i l l s i t t i n g on i t s neck, i t was c o n t r o l l e d by s t r i n g s , and -155-the s t r i n g i n turn was c o n t r o l l e d by my hand and so on to i n f i n i t y , where the seat of co n t r o l remains a mystery. This i s the head of a king, but I who p u l l e d the s t r i n g s so that i t nodded or shook l i k e t h i s , or l i k e that, I am an average wretch of l i t t l e importance to the state. How can you then be angry at t h i s Holofernes when he nods and shakes as I please? - I think my words make sense, countrymen! - Yet somehow your anger at t h i s head has been tr a n s f e r r e d to the head of your mayor - and I f i n d that u n j u s t i f i e d . - Let me explain myself more c l e a r l y : my Holofernes doesn't play to your l i k i n g ; so slap me, a miserable wretch, on the hands, so that my mini s t e r s , the wires which I p u l l , might change d i r e c t i o n u n t i l the head w i l l nod or shake more g r a c e f u l l y , or more i n t e l l i g e n t l y . What has t h i s poor head done to you that you t r e a t i t so; i t i s the most mechanical thing i n the world and doesn't contain one single thought. Don't ask t h i s head f o r l i b e r t y - i t doesn't have any! - Moreover, what you c a l l freedom i s a dubious thing at best; the puppet p l a y you saw today i n which the wooden king was so e a s i l y deprived of h i s head i s nothing - I have others even more f u l l of errors i n my trunk, i n which the author was not equal to h i s material so that l i k e the poets of p o l i t i c s he made the r e p u b l i c of which he was w r i t i n g into a tyranny. I could p l a y such things f o r you! - However, unnatural -156-punishment, such as c u t t i n g o f f a b r a i n l e s s head, i s a l -ways u n j u s t i f i e d , f o r t h i s wooden head here i s only something to look at, and f o r t u n a t e l y I know how to put i t back on i t s neck again, which couldn't be done s u c c e s s f u l l y i n a l o t of other cases. And God help my poor puppets i f a r e a l head ever got the notion to substitute f o r the wooden one here i n my hand, to nod and shake and break the s t r i n g - that could e a s i l y make a serious tragedy of a comedy. - I think I've said enough, dear countrymen!" On the whole, man i s an honest, simple creature whenever he i s not s u f f e r i n g from f i x e d ideas, and he e a s i l y r e c o n c i l e s himself to con t r a d i c t i o n s ; yes, I'm sure i f today he broke some t h i n snare that t i e d him down, he would l e t himself be thrown into chains tomorrow with the same enthusiasm. Anybody looking on from above must have p i t y f o r such a race. So, my farmers abandoned t h e i r r e v o l u t i o n good-naturedly and feted t h e i r mayor instead. Unfortunately, the happiness of the l i v e actors brought b i t t e r misery upon the wooden ones. I t happened that during the next night we d i r e c t o r s were roused by a steady noise coming from the d i r e c t i o n of the theatre; at f i r s t , we blamed i t on the actors! jealousy of each other or on an i n t r i g u e among the troupe, but when we investigated, we found the mayor, whose head I had just put back on h i s shoulders, clu t c h i n g our Holofernes, -157-accompanied by court - c l e r k s who proceeded to a r r e s t our whole cast i n the name of the law, explaining that our players were p o l i t i c a l l y dangerous. A l l my arguments were i n vain and before my very eyes they p u l l e d several kings and gentlemen, such as Solomon, Herod, David and Alexander from the trunk i n order to drag them away. This i s how the state t r e a t s i t s own representatives! - My clown was the l a s t one to go; I nearly stooped to begging to save him - but I was t o l d that a s t r i c t censorship decree f o r -bade a l l s a t i r e i n the state without exception and that measures had been taken to confiscate the aforementioned s a t i r e while i t was s t i l l lodged i n the head. F i n a l l y , I was allowed to hold the puppet f o r a f l e e t i n g moment, and I took him behind one of the wings and here i n the so l i t u d e I f u r t i v e l y pressed h i s wooden mouth to mine and wept a second tear, f o r besides Ophelia, he was the only creature on earth I had t r u l y loved. My partner stumbled through the next day l i k e a man i n a dream and toward evening they found him dangling from a stage cloud, too ashamed to cancel the tragi-comedy which he had announced. And so, t h i s undertaking of my l i f e ended sadly l i k e a l l the others, and v/orn out by the t r i a l s of l i f e , I t r i e d s e r i o u s l y to f i n d a steady job i n society. There i s nothing better on earth than being needed and enjoying a safe income; - man i s not only a wanderer, but also a -158-c i t i z e n . -Blessed i s the man who has connections - I was able to obtain an audience with the minister's servant, who happened to be i n a good mood and recommended me to h i s master. I was pushed higher and higher up the ladder of state u n t i l I reached the top rung, where I threw myself to the ground and was m e r c i f u l l y given hopes of obtaining the job. I submitted to and passed a thorough examination i n which I had to demonstrate that I had both a quiet voice, so as not to wake the monarch when he was asleep, and an educated and sonorous one, so as not to offend h i s musical s e n s i b i l i t i e s on sle e p l e s s nights, and a f t e r f u r t h e r study had been highly recommended to me, I had the happi-ness of seeing myself h i r e d as watchman. -159-SIXTEENTH NIGHTWATCH I wish I could paint t h i s f i n a l e and Hogarthian t a i l - p i e c e to my nightwatches c l e a r l y before everybody's eyes; but sadly enough I'm l a c k i n g the colours of the day here i n the night, and so I can pro j e c t only shadows and d i s s o l v i n g p i c t u r e s through the lens of my magic la n t e r n . Whenever I f e e l i n the mood to group kings and paupers together i n a happy brotherly s o c i e t y , I wander around the church yard over t h e i r graves and imagine them l y i n g p e a c e f u l l y down there i n the ground beside each other, i n an environment of the greatest freedom and equ a l i t y , where only i n t h e i r sleep to they have s a t i r i c a l dreams and g r i n m a l i c i o u s l y from t h e i r hollow eye sockets. Down there they are a l l brothers, and above them on the t u r f there i s nothing to be seen except perhaps a moss-covered stone on which the old, battered coat-of-arms of some noble are i n s c r i b e d , while the beggar's grave has perhaps a wild flower or a n e t t l e as i t s sole ornament. --160-So tonight I v i s i t e d t h i s f a v o u r i t e spot of mine again, t h i s suburban theatre where Death i s the producer and d i r e c t s mad poetic burlesques as sequels to the prosaic dramas performed at court and on the world stage. The night was oppressive and s u l t r y , and the moon peered f u r t i v e l y at the graves while blue streaks of l i g h t n i n g flashed across h i s face now and then. There was a poet there who thought that the l i g h t n i n g was God and e t e r n a l l i f e i l l u m i n a t i n g the graves - I, however, took i t f o r granted that i t was merely a mocking r e f l e c t i o n , a d u l l , deluding l i g h t which followed the dead l i f e f o r a while; just as a r o t t i n g tree seems to glow f o r a while at night, u n t i l i t f i n a l l y crumbles in t o dust. -Unconsciously, I had come to a stop at the grave-stone of an alchemist; a strong, old head looked out of the carved stone i n s c r i b e d with u n i n t e l l i g i b l e symbols from the Cabbala. The poet wandered among the graves f o r a while t a l k i n g to s k u l l s scattered on the ground, to set himself on f i r e , as he sa i d ; I became bored and f e l l asleep at the grave -stone. And i n my sleep I heard a storm r i s i n g , and the poet wanted to put the thunder i n t o music and the music into words, but the notes would not be organised, and the words -161-seemed to explode and f l y into fragmented s y l l a b l e s . Sweat ran from the poet's brow because he could not make any sense out of h i s nature poem - so f a r the f o o l had t r i e d composing only on paper. The dream became more involved. Using a s k u l l as a desk, the poet once more seized h i s pen and started to write - he a c t u a l l y began, and soon I saw h i s t i t l e completed: A Poem on Immortality. The s k u l l began to l e e r beneath the paper, but the poet was untroubled as he wrote h i s invocation, c a l l i n g on imagination to d i c t a t e to him. Then he began a grue-some p o r t r a i t of death i n order to g l o r i f y immortality the more i n the end, l i k e a sun-rise a f t e r darkest night. He was t o t a l l y l o s t i n h i s fa n t a s i e s and d i d not notice that a l l the graves around him had opened and that t h e i r sleepers were smiling malevolently, but without moving. Nov; he had reached the turning point of h i s poem and began to sound trumpets and prepare f o r Judgement Day. He was just about to re s u r r e c t the dead when suddenly some i n -v i s i b l e thing seemed to stop h i s hand. He looked up amazed - and down i n t h e i r death-chambers the dead s t i l l s l e p t and smiled, and none would wake. He quickly picked up h i s pen again and c a l l e d louder, g i v i n g voice to thunder and trumpets - i n vain, the dead merely shook t h e i r -162-heads ill-humouredly, turned over on t h e i r sides to sleep more soundly, and showed him the naked backs of t h e i r heads. "What, i s there no God then!" he c r i e d out distraught, and the echo threw back the word "God" loud and c l e a r . He stood dumbfounded and chewed on h i s pen s t u p i d l y . "The D e v i l created the echo!" he said f i n a l l y , " I t ' s impossible to t e l l whether the sound i s an echo or whether someone i s a c t u a l l y t a l k i n g back." He t r i e d once more, but no words came to the page; f i n a l l y t i r e d and almost calmed down he put h i s pen back behind h i s ear and said d u l l y , " Immortality i s stubborn, publishers pay by the page, and r o y a l t i e s are small these days; w r i t i n g t h i s s t u f f i s un p r o f i t a b l e - so I ' l l go back to dramas again!" -With these words, I woke up and found that the dream and the poet had vanished together. Instead, a brown Gypsy woman was s i t t i n g by my side, and she seemed to be studying my face i n t e n t l y . Her gigantic frame and her dark face whose v i v i d features seemed to have been w r i t t e n down by an unusual and singular way of l i f e nearly frightened me to death. "Give me your hand, stranger," she said mysteriously, and I stretched i t toward her i n -v o l u n t a r i l y . The stronger and surer a man i s of himself, the more -163-he w i l l deride every mystery and marvel, from the Masonic Order to the secrets of another world. But today I trembled f o r the f i r s t time i n my l i f e because as i f she were reading out of a book, the woman read my complete e a r l y h i s t o r y from my hand as f a r as the part where I was l i f t e d from the ground as a treasure. (See the fourth nightwatch.) Then she added," You s h a l l a l so see your father, stranger; turn around, he i s standing behind you!" - I turned around qui c k l y - and the solemn, stone head of the alchemist was s t a r i n g at me. She rested her hand on the stone, smiling oddly," That's him^ and I'm your mother." What a mad, touching family reunion - the brown Gypsy mother and the stone alchemist who was s t i c k i n g h a l f out of the ground as i f he were t r y i n g to clasp h i s son to h i s cold breast. To round o f f the family tableau, I embraced both of them, and as I sat down between them, the woman chanted l i k e a balladeer," I t was Christmas Eve, and your father wanted to conjure up the D e v i l . He read passages from a book by the l i g h t of three u n s a n c t i f i e d candles -something began to s t i r underneath the ground, as i f the earth were making waves, and the l i g h t turned blue. We stopped just before the part where heaven i s denied and h e l l pledged, and looked at each other s i l e n t l y . "Well, i t ' s only f o r fun," your father said then and we read the passage out loudly - something began to laugh s t e a l t h i l y -164-somewhere between the two of us, and we laughed too, so as not to stand there s t u p i d l y . Now something began to move around us i n the night and we noticed we weren't alone. I pressed c l o s e r to your father i n the middle of the r i n g we had drawn around us, and as we a c c i d e n t a l l y touched the sign of the earth s p i r i t , we were suddenly i n heat. The D e v i l came when our eyes were h a l f - c l o s e d - the very moment we created you...we hardly saw him. He was i n a f i n e mood and wanted to be your godfather; he seemed a pleasant man i n the prime of l i f e , and I'm r e a l l y surprised at your resemblance to him, except you're more saturnine, a habit you should break. When you v/ere born, I f e l t enough conscience to have you put into C h r i s t i a n hands, and I played you into the hands of that treasure-hunter who brought you up. And now you know your family background, stranger." What an i l l u m i n a t i o n t h i s speech was f o r me only a psychologist can imagine: I had been given the key to my s e l f and I was able to open f o r the f i r s t time with awe and secret trembling the long-closed door - and there i t looked l i k e Bluebeard's secret room, and i t would've t h r o t t l e d me had I dared to be l e s s frightened. I t was a dangerous psych o l o g i c a l key! I'd l i k e to l i e down before a group of s k i l l e d p s ychologists f o r d i s s e c t i o n and anatomy to see whether -16 5-they could detect i n me what I could now i n f a c t read -by which, i n c i d e n t a l l y , I imply no offense to a science which I admire the more highly because i t does not bother to waste time and energy on such a hypo t h e t i c a l object as the soul. I must've spoken some of these r e f l e c t i o n s out loud, f o r the Gypsy said l i k e an oracle," I t ' s nobler to hate the world than to love i t ; whoever loves, needs. But he who hates i s s e l f - s u f f i c i e n t and needs nothing except the hatred i n s i d e him." These words were the motto of her l i f e , and I f i n a l l y recognized her as t r u l y belonging to my family. A f t e r some s i l e n c e , she said mysteriously," I'd l i k e to see the old codger again and watch him perform h i s l a s t chemical experiments on himself; he's been underground f o r so long could there be anything l e f t of him? - Let's have a look! - A f t e r these words, she crept over s k u l l s and bones to the charnel-house, came back with a pick and a shovel, and began to d i g up the ground mysteriously,, I l e f t her alone at her strange work, f o r there was someone stumbling among the graves nearby, walking i n loop and c i r c l e s as i f t r y i n g to dodge some i n v i s i b l e f i g u r e blocking h i s way. At times he seemed to smile, but often he turned away frightened and trembling and shied away a -166-few steps, u n t i l something would force him to f l e e again i n yet another d i r e c t i o n . As I approached, he grasped my hand, gave a sigh of r e l i e f , and s a i d , " Thank God, a l i v i n g person! Help me get to that grave over there." I thought he was mad and went with him to see what would happen. Sometimes, when I brushed too close to a grave, he would push me aside so that I wouldn't touch the a i r above i t , but f i n a l l y he seemed to gather courage and caught h i s breath f o r a while between three large monuments, toppled columns with t a b l e t s bearing the names of dead princes. "We can r e s t a while," he said, "There i s nothing above the ground here except stones and monuments, and underground there i s probably only a handful of dust beside the crowns and sceptres; such grand gentlemen r o t away quick l y , f o r they feast and eat too much during t h e i r l i f e t i m e s and absorb a large amount of earth matter very e a r l y . " I looked at him surprised, and he continued," You must think I'm mad, but you're wrong! I don't l i k e coming here, f o r I was born with some kind of s i x t h sense, and despite myself I can see the dead i n t h e i r graves more or l e s s c l e a r l y according to t h e i r degree of decomposition. As long as-the deceased down there i s s t i l l whole, I can see h i s form above the grave, and only as the body corrupts -167-does the form a l s o d i s s o l v e i n t o shadow and vapour, u n t i l i t f i n a l l y evaporates completely when the grave i s empty. The whole e a r t h , of course, i s one g i a n t graveyard, but the f i g u r e s of the decayed assume a f r i e n d l i e r aspect than when they were a l i v e , and t u r n i n t o p r e t t y f l o w e r s . But here i n the cemetery, they are s t i l l r e c o g n i z a b l e and they keep l o o k i n g a t me, so I grow a f r a i d . I v/ould never have come here i f i t weren't f o r my rendez-vous." "Your sweetheart could s u r e l y have p i c k e d a b e t t e r p l a c e than t h i s , " I s a i d , angry a t h i s unknown beloved, as he ceased t a l k i n g f o r a moment. "She doesn't have any c h o i c e , " he s a i d . - "She l i v e s here!" Now i t dawned on me, and I understood him when he p o i n t e d to a d i s t a n t grave., -"She l i v e s down t h e r e - she d i e d i n f u l l f l o w e r , and t h i s i s the only wedding-chamber I ' l l ever see her i n . She's s m i l i n g a t me from the d i s t a n c e , and I've got to hurry; l a t e l y her form has begun to grow hazy, and o n l y the s m i l e on her l i p s i s s t i l l c l e a r l y v i s i b l e . " "An uncommon love a f f a i r , to say the l e a s t , " I added. "And by the way, there's n o t h i n g more t e d i o u s on t h i s e a r t h than a man i n l o v e . " As we continued.our course, he drew a few sketches of the tenants l a y i n g along the way. "Over there i s a -168-court f o o l who has kept i n good shape, i n c l u d i n g the scorn and the s a t i r e i n h i s smile. - Here a poet i s waiting f o r the day when a l l the dead w i l l r i s e again, hut he himself i s almost f i n i s h e d now because I can see only t h i n vapour and have to s t r a i n my imagination to make any sense out of him. Here's a mother with a c h i l d at her breast, and they're both smiling! - (This shook me, because i t was Ophelia's grave!) - Here l i e a p o l i t i c i a n and a banker together, but they're both i n very bad shape. - The grave over there must belong to a notorious miser; although h i s hand has nearly vanished, he i s s t i l l c l u t c h i n g the edge of h i s shroud." We had reached the lover's grave and he asked me to leave him alone; from the distance I could see him embrace the a i r and plant'passionate kisses - i t was an odd rendez-vous indeed! -Meanwhile, the Gypsy had opened my father's grave, and the decayed c o f f i n emerged. The moonlight, curious, sl i p p e d down along half-faded emblems and decorations, and the cross on the l i d gleamed brig h t and white. I f e l t nervous as I witnessed the grey past p r o j e c t i n g i t s e l f i nto the present, and as my father's l a s t cradle which had rocked him to sleep rose up. I hesitated to remove the l i d , and to give myself courage I picked up a worm wrigg l i n g out of the ground beside the c o f f i n and addressed i t thus: -169-"Except f o r the fa v o u r i t e s of kings and nobles, there i s only one other breed which enjoys l i v i n g o f f the f l e s h of h i s majesty; and you're one of them, worm! The king feeds on the marrow of h i s country, and i n turn you feed on him, and thus the king i s soon brought back into the lap, or at l e a s t i n t o the b e l l i e s , of h i s l o y a l s u b j e c t s s a f t e r a journey through three or four d i f f e r e n t stomachs, as Hamlet has already pointed out. On how many k i n g l y and noble brains have you s t u f f e d y o u r s e l f , you f a t p a r a s i t to reach t h i s state of well-being and corpulence? The i d e a l s of how many philosophers have you reduced to your brand of realism. You're an i r r e f u t a b l e argument f o r the pragmatic a p p l i c a t i o n of a l l i d e a l s , f o r you've grown f a t o f f the wisdom of many heads. You hold nothing sacred, neither beauty nor ugl i n e s s , neither v i r t u e nor v i c e ; you'r l i k e Laocoon's snake, wrapping yo u r s e l f around everything, and you prove your intensive s u p e r i o r i t y over the whole of mankind. What happened to the eye which once smiled enchantment or flashed commands? You squat alone i n s i d e the empty socket and glance i n s o l e n t l y about you, you s a t i r i s t , and the head which perhaps hatched the schemes of a Caesar or an Alexander i s turned into a home, or a sty, f o r you. What i s t h i s palace now which encloses a whole world and a heaven i n i t s e l f ; t h i s f a i r y c a s t l e i n which love and magic dance; t h i s microcosm i n which -170-everything that i s great and noble, and everything that i s dreadful and awe-inspiring l i e s together i n the same germ, t h i s microcosm which gave b i r t h to temples and gods, i n q u i s i t i o n s and d e v i l s ; t h i s culmination of c r e a t i o n - the head of man! - I t ' s the home of a worm. What i s the world i f i t s thoughts are nothing, i f everything i s but a f l e e t i n g i l l u s i o n ! What i s the use of earth's dreams, the use of spring and of flowers, i f the dreams fade i n s i d e the house of the grave, i f here i n the f i n a l Pantheon, a l l gods must stumble from t h e i r pedestals u n t i l worms and decay take possession. Oh, don't t a l k to me about the separate l i f e of the s p i r i t - here l i e s i t s ruined f a c t o r y , and the thousand threads which once used to weave the net of the v/orld are a l l torn, and with them the world i t s e l f . Even the old-timer here i n h i s bedroom w i l l have thrown o f f h i s costume, and t h i s malicious wretch i n my hand probably came from the clean-up campaign which i s taking place i n my father's l a s t house. Whatever the case, I ' l l face the void and j o i n him i n my mind so that I won't f e e l a s i n g l e trace of humanity when at l a s t I too must go!" -Nov/ I had the courage I needed to l i f t the l i d , although I f e l t my anger and rage were part of a great nothing, l i k e a l l the r e s t . -How strange - as the s i l e n t chamber which I expected to be empty opened, he was s t i l l l y i n g i n t a c t on h i s p i l l o w , -171-hi s face solemn and pale, h i s h a i r black and tousled around brow and temple; i t was s t i l l the form modelled a f t e r l i f e which was stored here i n death's underground museum as a r a r i t y , and the old magician seemed to defy nothingness. "That's exactly what he looked l i k e when he conjured up the D e v i l , " the Gypsy s a i d , " Only they folded h i s hands a f t e r he died so that he's forced to pray against h i s w i l l ! " - And why should he be praying?" I asked a n g r i l y . "Up above us, innumerable st a r s sparkle and f l o a t i n the sea of heaven, but i f they are worlds, as many clever heads i n s i s t , there are also s k u l l s and worms upon them, l i k e down here; and so i t continues through the whole of i n f i n i t y , and the Basel Death Dance merely becomes funnier and wilder and the dance h a l l l a r g e r . - Oh, how a l l of them who run around on top of graves and on top of the thousand-fold, piled-up lava of past generations - how they a l l whimper f o r love and f o r a noble heart above the clouds against which they could nestle with a l l t h e i r worlds! Whimper no more - these myriad worlds h u r t l e through the heavens only through the giant strength of nature, and t h i s dread-f u l birth-machine which gave b i r t h to i t s e l f and to every-thing else has no heart of i t s own, but merely forms l i t t l e hearts f o r amusement and d i s t r i b u t e s them among us - go ahead and c l i n g to them, and love and coo as long as your own hearts don't break! - I refuse to love and w i l l remain -172-cold and unmoved so that perhaps I can laugh about i t a l l when the giant hand eventually crushes me! -"The old magician seems to be laughing at me. Is your world a better one, conjurer of the Devil? Have you got a new, more magnificent Pantheon than t h i s crushed and empty one, a new one that reaches into the clouds, where noble gods can r e a l l y stand up without smashing t h e i r heads against the low c e i l i n g . I f you have, then l e t i t be praised. I t might even be worth the trouble to watch some great s p i r i t f i n a l l y reach h i s necessary i n f i n i t e space to l i v e i n so that he w i l l no longer have to choke and hate, but can r i s e f r e e l y i n t o the sky on open, shining wings. The idea almost i n s p i r e s me! - But not a l l of them should be resurrected; not a l l of them! - What do a l l the pygmies and c r i p p l e s want i n t h i s great, marvellous Pantheon, i n which only beauty should throne, and the gods! Oh^ one i s a f r a i d of such a crowd often enough down here on earth, and how could one share heaven with them! - Only you should be allowed to r i s e from your slumber, you great, k i n g l y heads who appear crowned throughout the h i s t o r y of the world, and you i n s p i r e d singers who speak enraptured of the sublime and worship i t ! The others can sleep q u i e t l y and peace-f u l l y and have pleasant dreams, f o r a l l I care. "I wouldn't mind walking the road together with you, old alchemist, but don't plead with heaven f o r me - don't -173-beg - rather take i t by storm i f you have the strength. A f a l l i n g T i t a n i s worth more than an earth f u l l of hypo-c r i t e s attempting to sneak into the Pantheon with a b i t of morality and some threadbare v i r t u e s . Let us march i n arms against the giant of the higher world; we can plant our f l a g only i f we are worthy of l i v i n g there! - Cease your begging; I w i l l tear your folded hands apart by might! -"Alas! What i s t h i s - are you too only a mask to delude me? - I can no longer see you, father; where are you? - As I touched you, you f e l l i n t o ashes., and only a handful of dust remains on the ground, and a few well- f e d worms creeping away l i k e m o r a l i s t i c f u n e r a l preachers who have over-indulged at the wake. I commit t h i s handful of paternal dust to the winds - nothing remains!" "In the distance, the v i s i o n a r y i s s t i l l standing over the beloved grave, embracing Nothing! "And the echo i n the charnel-house c r i e s f o r the l a s t time: NOTHING!" 

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