Black Books

I am standing on a high tower.

The horizon stretches far.

A gray and cloudy sky covers the earth.

I am utter anticipation.

In the furthest end of the country I discover a red spot.

It comes nearer on a winding road, disappearing for a while in forests and reappearing again-it is a horseman in a red coat, a red horseman-the red knight?

I am in a castle on a steep rock-a mediaeval atmosphere.

It seems to me that I am wearing a green garment.

A mighty horn hangs from my shoulder.

The red horseman approaches the castle.

Should I blow on the horn?

Hesitation gets hold of me-but I do it.

A resounding blow on the horn.

Below many people rush out from the doors-they open the gate.

The Red One rides in and jumps off the horse. I look down steadfastly.

Something uncanny seems to accompany him.

I withdraw to the tower’s chamber and must watch the door.

What if the Red One came to me-a guest of the castle maybe-why should he climb up to me?

I hear steps on the stairs-the boards creak-he knocks-a strange fear comes over me.

I shiver and open the door.

There stands the Red One.

A long shape wholly shrouded in red, even his hair is red.

I think: in the end he will turn out to be the devil.

He says: “I greet you, man on the high tower. I saw you from afar, watching and waiting. Your waiting has called me.”

Who are you?

“Who am I? You think I am the devil. Do not pass judgments.

Perhaps you can also talk to me without knowing who I am.

What sort of a superstitious fellow are you, that immediately you think of the devil?”

If you have no supernatural ability, how could you feel that I stood waiting on my tower-?, looking out for the unknown and new?

Our life in the castle is poor, especially my life, since I always sit here and no one climbs up to me.

“So what are you waiting for?”

I await all kinds of things, and especially I’m waiting for some of the world’s wealth, which we don’t see here, to come to me.

“So, I have come to absolutely the right place. I have wandered a long time  hrough the world, seeking those like you who sit upon a high tower on the lookout for things unseen.”

You make me curious. You seem to be a rare breed. Even your appearance is not ordinary. And then too-forgive me-it seems to me that you bring with you a strange atmosphere, something worldly, impudent, or exuberant -or-if I shall name it clearly-something pagan.

The stranger laughs complacently:

“You don’t offend me, on the contrary, you hit your nail on the head. But I’m no old pagan as you seem to think.”

I don’t want to insist on that. You are also not pompous and Latin enough. You have nothing classical about you.

You seem to be a son of our time, but as I must remark, a rather unusual one-yes, even a most unusual one.

You’re no real pagan, but the kind of pagan who runs alongside our Christian religion.

“You’re truly a good diviner of riddles. You’re doing better than many others who have totally mistaken me.”

You sound cool and sneering. Have you never broken your heart over the holiest mysteries of our Christian religion?

“You’re an unbelievably ponderous and serious person. Are you always so insistent?”

I would- before God-always like to be as serious and true to myself as I also try to be now. However, that certainly becomes difficult in your presence.

You are bring a certain gallows air with you. You’re bound to be  rom the black school of Salerno, where pernicious arts are taught by pagans and the descendants of pagans.

“You’re superstitious and-too German. You take literally what your Holy scriptures say, otherwise you could not judge me so hard.”

A hard judgment is the last thing I would want. But my nose does not play tricks on me. You’re evasive and elastic and don’t want to reveal yourself. What are you hiding?

The Red One seems to get redder, hiss garments shine like glowing iron.

“I hide nothing from you, you true-hearted soul. I simply amuse myself with your weighty seriousness and your comic veracity. This is so rare in our time, especially in men who have understanding at their disposal.”

I believe you cannot fully understand me. You apparently compared me with those whom you know. But I must say to you for the sake of truth that I really belong neither to this time nor to this place.

A strange spell has banished me to this place and world-time for years. Why and for what reason I do not know.

I am in reality not as you see me.

“You say astounding things. I did not know that. Who are you then?”

That is irrelevant, who I am. I stand before you the way I am.

Why am I here, I do not know.

But I do know that I must be here to justify myself in all conscience. I know who you are just as little as you know who I am.

“Hmm, that sounds very strange. Are you something of a saint?

Hardly a philosopher, since you have no aptitude for scholarly language. But a saint? Surely that. Your solemnity smells of fanaticism. You have an ethical air and a simplicity that smacks of stale bread and water.”

I can say neither yes nor no. All I can say is that you speak as one trapped in the spirit of this time. It seems to me that you lack the terms of comparison.

“Perhaps you attended the school of the pagans? You answer artfully like a sophist. How can you then measure me with the yardstick of the Christian religion, if you are no saint?”

It seems to me, though, that one can apply this yardstick even if one is no saint in the sense of the Christian religion conception. I believe I have learned that no one is allowed to avoid the mysteries of the Christian religion unpunished.

I repeat, he whose heart has not been broken over the lord Jesus Christ drags a pagan around within himself, who holds him back from the best.

The Red One glows again and says angrily: “The same old tune again?

What for, if you are not a Christian saint? Are you not a damned sophist after all?”

You are ensnared in your own world. But you might conceive that one can assess the worth of Christianity correctly without being a downright saint.

“Are you a doctor of theology, who examines Christianity from the outside and appreciates it historically? And therefore a sophist after all?”

You’re stubborn. What I mean is that it’s hardly a coincidence that the whole world has become Christian, since it has been one of the major tasks of man-to be more precise-of Western man to carry Christ in the heart and to grow with his suffering, death, and resurrection.

“Well, there are also Jews who are good people and yet had no need for your solemn gospels.”

You are, I believe, no good reader of people, though in all other things you seem to know the world better than I.

Have you never noticed that the Jew himself lacks something-one in his head, another in his heart, and he himself feels that he lacks something.

“Indeed I’m no Jew, but I must come to the Jew’s defense: you seem to be a Jew hater.”

Well, now you speak thoughtlessly like all those Jews who always indict a correct judgment as Jew hating.

Since they only too clearly feel that particular lack in the presence of the Christian, they defend themselves with ignorant sensitivity against this fact. Do you believe that all that struggle and all these blood sacrifices left no mark on the soul of the Christian?

And do you believe that one who has not experienced this struggle most intimately can still partake of its fruit? No one can flout the spiritual development of many centuries and then reap what they have not sowed.

The Red One has become slightly more pale.  “You argue your case well. But your solemnity! You could make matters much easier for yourself. If you’re no saint, I really don’t see why you have to be so solemn. You wholly spoil the fun. What the devil is troubling you? Only Christianity with its mournful escape from the world can make people so ponderous.”

I think there are still other things that bespeak seriousness.

“Oh, I know, you mean life. I know this phrase. I too live and don’t let my hair turn white over it. Life doesn’t require any seriousness. On the contrary, it’s better to dance through life.”

I know how to dance- yes, if only dancing could do it! Dancing goes with  he mating season. I know that there are those who are always in heat, and those who also want to dance for their Gods; some are ridiculous jubilant old men and women and others posture at antiquity, instead of honestly admitting their utter incapacity for religious expression.

“Here-my dear fellow- I doff my mask. Now I grow somewhat more serious, since this concerns my own province. It’s conceivable that there is some third thing for which dancing would be the symbol.”

The red of the rider transforms itself into a tender reddish flesh color. My green garments everywhere burst into leaf The Red One actually looks very much like me.

Perhaps too there is a joy before God that one can call dancing. But I haven’t yet found this joy. I look out for things that are yet to come.

Things came, but joy was not among them.

“Don’t you recognize me, brother, I am joy!”

Could you be joy? I see you as through a cloud. Your image fades.

Let me take your hand, beloved-where are you?- where are you? ~The Red Books, Vol. II, Page 197-202