- XII. 13. 183
What am I going to write? Everything is dark in front of me.
No shape, no bright and no dark. It is the gate to darkness.
Who enters there, must grope what is closest, he must feel his way from stone to stone.
No clear thought comes toward him, one has to sample them all, valuable and worthless must be embraced with the same kind of love, because in this world of darkness our Monday.
The following are the minutes for Jung’s December 19, 1913, talk on “The psychology of the unconscious” to the Zurich Psychoanalytical Society:
For the primitives there exists an intimate relationship with reality, which leads to a big specification of perception, which expresses itself in language through the absence of universal concepts.
This intensive connection with reality appears to us as concretism. E.g., the man has killed a rabbit is expressed through: he, one, animated, arrow etc. shot rabbit.
Hence, instead of the concept man a specific image.-There is not a simple plural, but e.g., in Guinea a Dualis, Trialis, ~adralis. The original numerical value is obviously not arithmetic, but mystical, it is a character of quality.
This way an immense complication of language emerges.
There must always be e.g. for animals the following information: position in space, distance, direction; e.g., “table” needs the addition of: not animated, upright, wooden; e.g., I eat bread = I am breading or something similar depending on the type of food.
This concretism hinders the emergence of abstract concepts for a long time.
Shock is in negro language: coronary artery in the stomach tears. Anger: the human’s aching stomach. Time: walking sun. Milk: the hunter does not eat. Scorpion: man watches and cries.
Tarantula: bites man, he goes home and tells.
Here we can already see the interference of the subjective observer in the objective.
In the further development this leads to the primitive’s ability to add qualities to things against all the experience and to give random meanings to symbols. E.g., the corn is a stag, equally the stag is a feather or clouds, cotton etc. are feathers.
The inner psychological value has the same meaning as objective in reality. E.g., each disease, according to a primitive language, is an unfulfilled desire of the soul.-
Only through participation mystique something becomes effective. E.g., venom does not kill in itself, but only the venom that is bewitched.-A psychological system is forced upon the things.
For the Chinese the death statue of the husband is still able to impregnate.
Hence the enormous importance of dreams, and there is no difference between dream and experience; the origin in the subjective prevails over the object.
There are causal effects.
Everything can be understood as a consequence of thinking, which falls together with the deed.
If one would only act, nothing would be done.
That is why the ceremonies have to be done in a correct way. Thus they are full of hallucination.
The inner world imposes itself the same way as the external world; hence effects on nature through words: e.g., not: the sun shines and lets grow, but: our father thinks.
Finding analogies is therefore a highly important activity. It is sufficient to tell the myth and the effect told by the myth will take place.
The myth was originally a healing formula through the power of the mind. Magic of analogies to reach sublimation.
It follows from that: the primitive mind knows two mental activities: concrete rendering of reality,
2 . psychic interior world imposes itself on reality.
The aim is: to put the spiritual over concrete things. To let oneself be killed for faith, i.e., to emphasize the importance of the spirit.
values are suspended. A mountain is the smallest nothing, and a sand grain contains kingdoms at least or it may not.
Every value judgment must fall off from you, equally every other logical judgment; even your taste must be shed before the gate.
Get rid of all your knowledge and above all :let sacrifice your arrogance, even when it seems to be based on merits.
Who enters here, enters as a poor or stupid one, because what we call knowledge here is ignorance, seeing blindness, hearing deafness, feeling dullness.
Enter through that gate entirely poor, pathetic, humble, ignorant.
But even in your poverty, ignorance, and humility do not be greedy and presumptuous and expect neither bread nor stones, but look without desire and passion.
Turn all your anger against yourself, because only you can hinder yourself from looking. The mystery play is delicate as air and thin smoke and you are brutal matter that itself is already disturbingly heavy.
Yet let all your hope, which is your greatest good and highest ability, precede and serve you as a leader in the world of the dark, because it is of similar substance as the creations of this world. let your hope swell toward it into the indeterminable.
I am already standing on this waste spot in the rocky depth that seems to me like a giant crater. In the distance I see, nestled in the hillside, the white house with columns.
Everything is bleak, foggy, and night-like.
I see from afar Salome in a white dress189 walking along the length of the wall toward the left, touching the wall like a blind person.
The black serpent behind her.
The old man stands under the portal, he waves to me from the distance.
Hesitantly I draw closer. He calls Salome back, she approaches him and leans against him.
She is like someone suffering. I cannot detect any sacrilege in her nature.
Her hands are white and her face has a gentle express10n.
The serpent lies before them. I stand before them clumsily, uncertain like a stupid boy.
“Here I am again,” I would like to say. The words get stuck in my throat. Everything is terribly uncertain and ambiguous.
The old man eyes me searchingly. “What do you want here?” he asks in a harsh tone.
“Forgive me, it is not my obtrusiveness or arrogance that leads me here. I am here perchance, not knowing what I want.
But I admit that a longing has brought me back, a longing that stayed behind in your house yesterday.[”]
I see how Salome raises her face, softly smiling, to the old man. It looks like quiet happiness. Yes-it looks like that. But- isn’t she Salome?
You see, prophet, I am tired, my head is as heavy as lead. I am lost in my ignorance.
I have toyed with myself enough; I played hypocritical games with myself and they all would have disgusted me, were it not clever to perform what others expect from us in the world of men.
It seems to me as if I were more real here. And yet I do not like being here; I even believe it resists me.
Wordlessly Elijah and Salome step inside the house. I follow them reluctantly.
A feeling of guilt torments me- is it bad conscience? I would like to turn back. But I have to, I feel it.
The hall is bleak. There is the shining crystal. I need to walk up to it and look into its play of fire.
I see in a fiery corona the mother of God with the child as if in an old painting. Peter stands to her left, bowing.
Peter alone with the keys- the Pope with a triple crown in a festive audience – a sitting Buddha appears in a circle of fire – now a many-armed Kali, – this bloody Goddess-now Salome herself desperately wringing her hands, now that white shape of a girl with black hair-my own soul-and now that white shape of a man, which also appeared to me at the time- it resembles Michelangelo’s sitting Moses- it is Elijah.
Elijah and Salome stand before me, real, as if softly smiling.
These visions are full of torment, and the meaning of these images is dark to me, Elijah; please shed some light.
Elijah waves silently, and leads the way toward the left. Salome enters a colonnade to the right. I follow Elijah into an even darker room.
There seem to be bookshelves on the walls. A burning red lamp hangs from the ceiling. I sit down exhausted in an armchair.
Elijah stands before me leaning on a marble lion. Behind him are bleak dark and red little window panes.
“Are you anxious? Why are you afraid? Your ignorance is to blame for your bad conscience. Not-knowing works like guilt. But you believe that it is the urge toward forbidden knowledge that causes your feeling of guilt. You err, especially about yourself. Why do you think you are here?”
I don’t know. I sank into this place when unknowingly I tried resisting the not-known.
So here I am, astonished and confused, like an ignorant fool.
I experience strange things in your house, things that frighten me and whose meaning I don’t know.”
“So listen: If it were not your law to be here, how would you be here?”
I’m afflicted by fatal weakness, my father-
” You are evasive. You cannot extricate yourself from your law.”
What do you mean? How can I extricate myself from what is unknown to me, which I cannot reach with either feeling or presentiment?
“You are lying. Do you not know that you yourself recognized what it means if Salome loves you?”
You are right. A doubtful and uncertain thought arose in me for a moment, but I have forgotten it again.
“You have not forgotten it. It burned deep inside you. But you are afraid of megalomania? Are you that cowardly? Or can you not differentiate this thought from your own self, from your human nature, enough so that you wished to claim it for yourself?”
The thought went too far for me, and I shun far-fetched ideas.
They are dangerous, since] I am also a man, and you know how much men are accustomed to seeing thoughts as their very own, as their innermost, so that they eventually confuse them with themselves.
“Will you, I ask you, therefore confuse yourself with a tree or animal, because you look at them and because they exist with you in one and the same world? Must you be your thoughts, because you are in the world of your thoughts? I think it would be obvious that your thoughts are just as much outside your mind: self as trees and animals are outside your body.”
You are certainly right from your point of view. But my thought world was for me more word than fact.
I thought, my thought world, this is I.
“That way you became the victim of your megalomania without seeing it . Do you say to your human world, to each I, and to every being outside of you: this is my I or my body?”
I stepped into your house, my father, feeling like a schoolboy about to be scolded.
But you taught me a salutary wisdom: I can also consider a thought as being outside my self. That helps me to return to that terrible conclusion that my tongue is reluctant to express.
I thought that Salome loves me because I resemble John or you.
This thought seemed all-too bold and unbelievable to me.
That’s why I rejected it and thought that she loves me because I am really quite opposite to you, that she loves her badness in my badness.
This thought was devastating. The old one is silent. Bleak heaviness lies on me.
Suddenly Salome steps into the room, lays her arm around my shoulder.
She presumably takes me for her father in whose chair I seem to sit. I dare neither move nor speak.
“I know that you are not my father. You are his son, and I am your sister.”
You, Salome, my sister? Was this the terrible attraction that emanated from you, that unnamable horror of you, of your touch? Who was our mother?
Is it a hellish dream, Salome, Elijah?rn Mary, our mother? What madness lurks in your words? The mother of our Savior-our mother?
When I crossed your threshold today, I foresaw calamity-Alas! It has come. Doubt tears my heart apart.
Are you out of your senses, Salome? You Elijah, protector of the divine law, speak: is this a devilish spell cast by the rejected?
How can she say such a thing-or are both of you out of your senses? Or am I out of my senses?
You are symbols and Mary is a symbol-I am simply too confused to see through you now.
The old man speaks:
“You may call us symbols for the same reason that you can also call your real fellow men symbols if you wish to. But we exist and are just as real as your fellow men. You invalidate nothing and solve nothing by calling us “symbols.”
You plunge me into a terrible confusion. Do you wish to be realities?
The old man speaks: “We are certainly what you call realities. Here we are, and you have to accept us. The choice is yours.”
I am sitting in silence. Salome has removed herself. Uncertainly and gloomily I look around.
In the background of the room a high golden red flame burns on a round marble altar. The serpent has encircled the flame.
Its eyes glitter with golden reflections. Swaying I turn to the exit.
Before me a powerful lion walks slowly through the hall. I watch it without horror.
Outside, a mighty starry sky arches over the wild rocky landscape-cool night air-I hear the distant waters roaring.
Everything is so real and cold. I slowly walk into the rocky desert, into this valley of riddles. Where did I come from?
Which was the way into this underworld. Is it really the, or an underworld?
It seems as if compulsory realities exist here. What forced me to come here if not those “other” realities?
Apparently they are somehow superior to me as I did not know anything about them, whereas they knew about me and forced me-could force me-to come to them on a way unknown to me, that I must have flown through unconsciously.
And immediately I am back again writing in my book, hours have passed and I am tired from this long journey.
What did I bring with me? I think I must appear very stupid to these people.
May I, ** perhaps, also wish for this-until now-bitter necessity, even desire it? I don’t know as everything is extremely dark and thoroughly mysterious.
The secret shall be kept virginally-but what am I talking about?
It is better kept as any man could ever keep it, because no human hand can touch it, unless it has been given to him.
No one can steal it, no one can rob it violently.
The gate might open only to he who waits there poor and unknowingly stood before a ridge that leads steeply upward in a wasteland. Gray jagged stones-a blue sky.
At that moment I catch sight of the prophet high above me. His hand makes an averting movement, and I abandon my decision to
I wait below, gazing upward. The prophet’s coat flutters in the wind.
I look: to his right it is dark-night; to the left it is bright day. The rock separates day and night.
The night is like a monstrously huge, black, but transparent monster like a serpent or a dragon.
The day, in contrast, contains a massive white serpent (with a golden crown?)
Both serpents thrust their heads toward each other, eager for battle.
Elijah stands on the heights between them. The prophet raises his hands in prayer.
Suddenly the serpents throw themselves from the ridge and a terrible wrestling ensues. The serpent of the night is to a larger extent on the side of the day.
Enormous billows of dust rise from the place of struggle and blur sight. The serpent of the night pulls itself back.
The front part of its body has become white. The serpents curl about themselves, one in light, the other in darkness.
Elijah climbs down from above and positions himself standing at some distance.
He says to me: “What did you see?”
I saw the :fight of two formidable serpents, a white and a black one. It seemed to me as if the black would overcome the white serpent; but behold, the black one withdrew and its head and the top part of its body had turned white.
“Do you understand that?”
I have thought it over, but I cannot come to a clear explanation.
Should it perhaps mean that the power of the good light will become so great that even the night that resists it will be illumined by it?
Elijah climbs before me along the ridge into the heights. I follow.
We climb up to a very high summit. On top we find some cyclopean masonry with dark cracks [94/95] and holes.
It appears to be like a courtyard or a circular rampart. Beneath the bulwarks cavernous rooms.
In the middle of the courtyard a mighty rock, an enormous boulder, flat on top. The prophet stands on this stone.
He says: “This is the temple of the sun.” This encircled place is a vessel that collects the light of the sun, the God.
As Elijah climbs down from the stone, I realize that his form has become smaller. He has become a dwarf, who seems foreign to me.
I ask astonished: Who are you?
“I am Mime and I will show you the wellsprings. 230 The light that has been collected by this vessel becomes water and flows in many springs from the summit into the valleys of the earth.”
Mime goes to one of the crevices in the masonry and dives down into the dark. I follow him. Inside it is black night. One can hear the rippling of a spring.
The voice of the dwarf sounds from below: “Here are my wells. Whoever drinks from them becomes wise.”
But I cannot reach down; instead I cling onto a stone above. Slowly my eyes get accustomed to the dark. I see the dwarf standing in blueish dim light beside a small water rivulet. But I cannot reach down.
I lose courage. Outside in the giant courtyard I see the bright sun pouring.
The dwarf seems ghostly to me. I have the feeling [96/97] of a hallucination.
Doubting, I pace back and forth on the giant squares of the yard, undecided whether a phantom has lured me to this place or not.
Because everything appears to me strange and incomprehensible. Was it Elijah? Was it Mime?
It is so solitary and deathly silent here, and a clear and cool air as on the remotest mountains-a wonderful flood of sunlight all around. I see around me the mighty walls that form the horizon-jagged crenellations.
Gray and yellow lichen grows on the stones, apart from this not a blade of grass.
What is it with this place? I think it could be a Druidic sacred place of worship.
A black serpent crawls over the stone-it is the serpent of the prophet. How did it come here from the underworld?
My gaze follows it and I see how it crawls to the wall. I feel weird all over.
A little house stands there with a portico- minuscule, snuggling against the rock, the serpents become infinitely small- I feel as if I too am shrinking- the walls enlarge into a huge mountain and I am below on the foundation of the crater in the underworld, and I stand before the house of the prophet, which seems to have returned to his natural size.
Here below it is dark and nocturnal, as always.
The prophet appears in the door of the house. I enter with quick steps and speak to Elijah:
I notice that you have shown me and let me experience all sorts of strange things before you allowed me to come to you today.
But I confess that it is all dark to me. Your world appears to me today in a new light.
Just now it was as if I were separated by a starry distance from your place, which I still hoped to reach today.
But behold, it seems to be one and the same place.
“You, my son, wanted to come here far too much. I did not deceive you, you deceived yourself yourself. He sees badly who wants to see, he measures too much. You have overreached yourself.”
It is true, I not only wished to, but I eagerly longed to reach you, to hear what you and Salome would continue to explain to me.
Salome startled me and led me into bewilderment, I felt dizzy, because what she said seemed to me to be monstrous and like madness. Where is Salome?
“How impetuous you are today? What is up with you? Step first over to the crystal [99/roo] and probe your heart in its light.”
I walk to the crystal.
A wreath of fire appears in front of my eyes: it encircles a void. I am seized with fear. My father,
I see a boot like the one the Bundschuh has in its coat of arms-I see the foot of a giant that crushes an entire city – I see the face of the sun-my own image, it smiles-woe, what does it mean?
“look further, you are impetuous. Temper your desire. You see, you stand in your own way.”
I see the cross-the removal of the cross the mourning-how agonizing this sight is! No longer do I yearn.
I see the child, with the white serpent in his right hand, and the black serpent in his left hand.
I see the green mountain, the cross on it, and streams of blood flowing from the summit of the mountain.
I can look no longer- it is unbearable.
I see the cross and Christ on it in his last hour and last torment. At the foot of the cross the black serpent has coiled itself
I feel that the serpent of the prophet has wound itself around my feet and ties itself up tightly.
The prophet looks at me with fiery gaze.
I am contained and I spread my arms wide as if spellbound.
Salome draws near from the right-The serpent has wound itself around my whole body, and it seems to me as if my countenance is that of a lion.
“Mary was the mother of Christ. Do you understand now?”
I see that a terrible and incomprehensible power forces me to imitate the lord in his final torment. But how can I presume to call Mary my
“You are Christ.”
I stand with outstretched arms like someone crucified, my body taut and horribly entwined by the serpent. Elijah looks at me with blazing eyes.
“You, Salome, say that I am Christr”
It is as if I stood alone on a high mountain with stiff outstretched arms, the serpent squeezes my body in its terrible coils and the blood streams from my body, spilling down the mountainside.
But I am back in front of the crystal, still in the same position. Salome bends down to my feet and wraps her black hair round them.
She lies thus for a long time, then she cries, “I see light!” And truly, she sees, her eyes are open.
The serpent falls from my body and lies languidly on the ground.
I stride over it and kneel at the feet of the prophet, whose form shines like a flame.
He speaks: “Your work is fulfilled here. Other things will come, of which you do not know yet.
But seek untiringly, and above all write exactly what you see.”
Salome looks as in rapture at the light that streams from the prophet. Elijah transforms into a huge flame of white light and the serpent lies down at the feet of the flame. Salome kneels before the light in wonderstruck devotion.
Tears fall from my eyes. I hurry out into the night. 248 My feet do not touch the ground, this alien earth, and it is as if I were melting into air.
I am back again. Something has been completed. It is as if I had brought with me a certainty-and** a hope.
“I am the one who, when love
Breathes on me, notices, and in the manner That he dictates within, I utter words.”
“And then, in the same manner as a flame Which follows whatever shape it takes, The new form follows the spirit exactly.”
This night begins with the feeling of ignorance and incapacity.
Only expectancy is on the lookout as if from a high tower that dominates the surrounding country.
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 through 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. [108 /109] You are also not pompous and Latin enough. You have nothing classical about you. Y
ou 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 from 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, his garments shine like glowing iron.
“I hide nothing from you, you true-hearted soul. He 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. 262 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 with in 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 [rr3/ rr4] 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 the 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?
I am alone in the chamber of my tower. Rain pelts the window, a cold stormy night outside. A small ruddy flame flits over my table top [n like a will-o’-the-wisp.
But it is a warm glow. A silent scent of roses fills the room. It is around midnight.
Joy? Was he joy? God help me, what shall come of this?
Where shall I reach out my hand? What should it grasp? To what vision is my gaze turning?
The endless fullness is as good as the endless nothingness. Not demanding nor beseeching, but praying, approaches the threshold of the
Receive gratefully and in faith, never ask why?, never judge what has been placed in your hand. To you it may seem to be stones?
But even stones can turn into bread. Patiently wait on the word that your soul speaks.
“I am here. Where have you been?” I have seen visions of a remarkable kind. “Did they satisfy your hunger?”
I drank them in like someone dying of thirst. I have received them with the measure of faith and hope that I could summon up.
You know how little that is. But I could not say that my hunger and thirst have been satisfied.
You know how much I long for what we call certainty.
But the nature of these visions is dark and full of doubt. I cannot see clearly what they want to say.
“You are going to see more-things of greater clarity.”
I hope in gratitude. A castle, standing in water-dark swamp water.
The walls greenish damp- a surrounding forest- everything is dreadfully lonely and deserted. It is evening.
I am a wanderer who, as it seems, erring, has reached this castle through the forest.
An old wooden bridge leads over the pond the gate is shut.
I knock with the door knocker, because it seemed to me as if there was light in one of the windows.
- I wait- it is raining, and night falls. 284 I wait and knock again.
Now I hear steps-someone opens- a man similar to a servant with a harsh face in mediaeval attire opens and asks what I want-I would like lodging for the night. The servant lets me enter-a low dark vestibule, black oak furniture.
I am led up an old stairway.
At the top a higher and wider corridor with whitewashed walls-lined with some chests and deer antlers. I am led into a kind of reception room.
It is a simple space with plain upholstered furniture-a hazy dim light of a hanging lamp lights the room only very meagerly.
The servant knocks on a side door and then quietly opens it.
I scan it swiftly-it’s a scholar’s study-with book-shelves on all four walls-a large writing desk, at which an old man sits wearing a long black robe.
He is occupied with reading and writing.
He beckons me to come in. I enter the room. The air in the room is heavy and the old man seems careworn.
He is not without dignity287 but has that modest-fearful look of scholarly men who have long since been squashed to nothing by the abundance of what can be experienced and known.
I think, a real scholar who has learned great modesty before the immensity of knowledge and has entirely given himself to the material of science and research, anxiously and equably appraising, as if he personally had to represent the working out of scientific truth.
He greets me embarrassed, as if defensive. I do not wonder about this since I am look like an ordinary person.
Only with difficulty can he turn his gaze away from his work and he asks me absentmindedly what I wish.
I repeat my request for lodgings for the night, for a place to sleep.
“So, you want to sleep, then sleep well.”
I notice that he is absentminded, and therefore ask him to inform the servant to show me a chamber.
“You are demanding-wait-I cannot just drop everything!”
He sinks again into his book. I wait patiently.
After a while he looks up astonished: “What do you want here? Oh-forgive me-I totally forgot that you ** are waiting here. I’ll call the servant straightaway.”
The servant comes
and leads me to a small chamber on the same floor with bare walls and a large bed with a blue cover. 290 +hen He wishes me good night and closes the door.
I undress immediately and go to bed, after I have snuffed out the light with a pointed copper snuffer that lay next to the candle-a tallow candle that seemed unusual.
The sheet is uncommonly rough- the pillow hard.
My errant way has led me to a strange place-a small old castle whose scholarly owner is apparently spending the evening of his life alone with his books- no one else seems to be living in the house-apart from the servant who lives over there in the gatehouse- an ideal though fairly solitary existence, this life of the old man with his books-
I think. The thought that the old man has hidden a beautiful young daughter here, doesn’t let go of me-a vulgar idea from a novel- an insipid, worn-out theme- but the romantic can be felt in every limb.- a real novelistic idea-a castle in a forest- solitary-an old man
petrified in his books, protecting a costly treasure and enviously hiding it from all the world.
What ridiculous thoughts come to me- is it Hell or purgatory that I must also contrive such childish fantasies on my nocturnal wanderings?
But I feel impotent to elevate my thoughts to something higher or more beautiful- I suppose I must allow these thoughts to come-what good would it do to push them away, they will come again-better to swallow this stale drink than keep it in the mouth.
So what does she look like-this boring heroine of the novel?-Surely blond-pale-water blue eyes-hoping longingly that every lost wanderer is her savior from the paternal prison-Oh, I know this hackneyed nonsense-I’d rather sleep-why the devil must I plague myself with such empty fantasies?
Sleep does not come. I toss and turn. But sleep still does not come.
Must I harbor this unsaved soul in myself? And is it this that will not let me sleep? Have I such a novelistic soul? It is agonizingly ridiculous.
Does this bitterest of all drinks never end? It must already be midnight- and still no sleep.
What in the wide world, then, won’t let me sleep? Is it something to do with this chamber? Is the bed bewitched?
It’s terrible, what sleeplessness can drive a mian to-even the most absurd and superstitious mediaeval theories!
It seems to be cool, I’m freezing-perhaps that’s what keeps me from sleeping-actually it’s uncanny here-Heaven knows what goes on here- weren’t those steps just now? No, that must have been outside in the corridor-I roll over, firmly closing my eyes-I simply must sleep- wasn’t that the door just now?- My God, someone is standing there? Am I seeing straight? A slim girl, pale as death, standing at the door? I cannot speak out of fear and wonder.294 She’s coming nearer-“Have you come at last?” she asks.
Impossible, this is a cruel mistake, the novel shall become real.
To what nonsense am I damned? Is it my soul that harbors such novelistic brilliance? Must this, too, happen to me?
I am truly in Hell-the worst awakening after death, to be resurrected in a lending library! Have I held the men of my time and their taste in such contempt that I must live in Hell and write out the novels that I already loathed at the age of 15?
Does the lower half of average human taste also claim holiness and invulnerability, so that we might not say any bad word about it without having to atone for the sin?
“Oh, so you too think me common? Do you too let yourself be deluded by the wretched delusion that I belong in a novel? You as well, whom I hoped had thrown off appearances and striven after the essence of things?”
Forgive me-but are you real?
It’s the sorriest likeness to those foolishly threadbare scenes in novels for me to assume that you are not simply some unfortunate product of my sleepless brain. Is my doubt then truly confirmed by a situation that conforms so thoroughly with the type of a sentimental chivalric
novel of the worst kind?
“You wretch, how can you doubt my reality?”
She falls to her knees at the foot of my bed,sobbing and holding her face in her hands.
My God, in the end is she really real, and do I do her an injustice? My pity awakens.
But for Heaven’s sake, tell me one thing: Are you real? Though as a reality must I take you seriously? She weeps and does not answer.
Great adventure this!
Who are you, then?
“I am the old man’s daughter, he holds me here in unbearable captivity, not out of envy or hate, but out of love, since I am his only child and the image of my mother, who died young.”
I scratch my head: is this not some hellish banality? Word for word, pulp :fiction from the lending library!
Oh you Gods, where have you led me!
I hoped that this night in the forest might let me glimpse a spark of the light eternal and where did my praying and hoping lead me-?!
It’s enough to make one laugh, screaming laughter of mockery.
You great ones, you have become beautiful sufferers, tragic shattered persons, but not one of you has become an ape. Even in hell you were able to secure grace, this loveliest of mankind’s goods.
To you the banal and eternally ridiculous, the unutterably hackneyed and emptied out, has been delivered in your uplifted praying hands like a gift of Heaven. Is this my part?
But still she lies there, crying- yet what if she were real?
Then she would be worth feeling sorry for, every man would have compassion for her. If she is a decent girl- what must it have cost her to enter into the room of a strange man! How she must have suffered to overcome her shame in this way?
My dear child, I believe you, despite all and everything, that you are real. What can I do for you?
“Finally, finally a word from a human mouth!”
She gets up, her face beaming. She is beautiful like an angel.
A deep purity rests in her look. She has a soul, beautiful and unworldly, a soul that wants to come into the life of reality, to all reality worthy of pity, that desolates souls, besmirches, rends- and cleanses, cleanses again.
Oh this beauty of the soul!
When she descends blinded into the bath of filth and after having been utterly lost, she innocently dives upward again through the twilights into the realm of the eternal light- what a spectacle!
“What can you do for me? You have already done much for me. You spoke the redeeming word when you no longer placed the banal between you and me. Know then: I was bewitched by the banal.”
Woe is me, you now become very fairy-tale-like.
“Be reasonable, dear friend, and do not stumble now over the fabulous, since the fairy tale is the ancestress of the novel, and has even more universal validity than the most-avidly read novel of your time. And you know that what has been on everyone’s lips for millennia, though repeated endlessly, still comes nearest the greatest ultimate human truth. So do not let the fabulous come between us.”
You are clever and do not seem to have inherited the wisdom of your father.
But tell me, what do you think of the divinity, of the so-called ultimate truths?
I found it very strange to seek them in banality. According to their nature, they must be quite uncommon. Think only of our great philosophers!
“These truths are indeed uncommon The more uncommon these highest truths are, the more inhuman must they be and the less they speak to you as something valuable or meaningful concerning human essence and being. Only what is human and what you call banal and hackneyed contains the wisdom that you seek. The novelistic and even especially the fabulous does not speak against me but for me, and proves how universally human I am and how much I too not only need redemption but also deserve it. For I can live in the world of reality as well or better than many others of my sex.”
Strange maiden, you are bewildering-when I saw your father, I hoped he would invite me to a scholarly conversation. He did not, and I was slightly aggrieved at him because of this, since his distracted slackness hurt my dignity.
But with you I find it much better. You give me matters to ponder. You are uncommon.
“You are mistaken, I am very common.”
I can’t believe that. How beautiful and worthy of adoration is the expression of your soul in your eyes. Happy and enviable is the man who will free you.
“Do you love me?”
By God, I love you- but- hmm, unfortunately I am already married.
“So you see, even your … banal” reality is a redeemer.”
“I thank you, dear friend, and I bring you greetings from Salome.”
With these words her shape dissolves into darkness. Dim moonlight penetrates the room.
Where she stood something shadowy seems to lie. I jump up-it is a profusion of dark red roses.
With tears in my eyes I press them against my lips.
- XII. 13.
One must not improve others, it seems. To do things oneself in minutest detail, that is what is needful. No longer should it be said, “you
should,” but rather “I should” if I have not already thought “I will.”
What a burden and danger is vanity! There is nothing about which one could not be vain. Nothing is more difficult than to define the limits of vanity.
One who creates should be especially wary of success, though needs it.
It is evening-a snow-covered landscape.
I am wandering once more. Someone who does not look trustworthy has joined me.
Most notably, he has only one eye and a few scars on his face. He is poor and shabbily clothed, a tramp.
He has a black stubble beard that has not seen a razor for a long time. Because of the cold he has buttoned up his collar and his nose is
I have a good walking stick for any eventuality.
“It’s damned cold,” he remarks after a while.
I agree. After a longer pause: “Where are you going?” -I I’m going to the next village, where I plan to stay in the hostel overnight.
“I’d like to do that too, but will hardly manage to get a bed.”
Have you no money? Well, let us see. Are you out of work?
“Yes, times are bad. Until a few days ago, I was working for a locksmith. But then he had no more work. Now I’m on the road looking to earn something.”
Wouldn’t you work for a farmer? There is always a shortage of farm labor?.
[“]Working for a farmer doesn’t suit me. That means getting up early in the morning, the work is hard and wages are low.”
But it’s always much more beautiful in the country than in a town.
“It’s boring in the country. One meets nobody.”
Well, but there are also villagers.
[“] But there is no mental stimulation. The farmers are like clods.”
I look at him astonished: What, he even wants mental stimulation?
Better that he honestly earn his keep, and when he has done that he can think of “mental stimulation.”
But what kind of mental stimulation is there in the city?”
“You can go to the cinema in the evenings. That’s of great interest and it’s cheap. You get to see everything that happens in the world.[‘]
I have to think of Hell, where there are also cinemas for those who despised this institution on earth and did not go there because everyone else found it to their taste. Shall even the cinema be a universally valid truth? Oh Salome!314
What interested you most about the cinema?
“One sees all sorts of stunning feats. There was one man who ran up houses, another carried his own head under his arm. Another even stood in the middle of a :fire and wasn’t burnt. Yes, it’s really remarkable, the things that people can do.”
And that’s what this fellow calls “mental stimulation”!
But wait, that does seem remarkable: didn’t Felix and Regula also carry their heads under their arms?
Didn’t Saint Francis and Saint Ignatius of Loyola levitate and what about the three men in the fiery furnace?
Isn’t it a blasphemous idea to consider the Acta Sanctorum as historical cinema?
Today’s miracles are simply somewhat less mythical than technical. I regard my companion with feeling.
He lives the history of the world, I think.
Certainly, it’s very well done. Did you see anything else like this?
“Yes, I saw how the King of Spain was murdered.”
Yes, but he wasn’t murdered at all.
“Well, that doesn’t matter, in that case it was another one of those damned capitalist kings-or emperors. At least they got one of them. If only all of them were taken out, the people would be free.”
Not a word more dare I say: Wilhelm Tell, a work by Friedrich von Schiller.
The man is standing right in the stream of heroic history, one who announces the murder of the tyrant to new peoples.
Conversing that way we have arrived at the inn- a country tavern-areasonably clean parlor 320with an unsightly iron oven- a bar or buffet with a pressure tap for beer stands there disturbingly and inappropriately.
A few men sit with tepid beer in the corner playing cards.
I am recognized as a “gentleman” and led into the better corner where a checkered cloth covers the end of a table.
The other sits down at the far end of the table, and I decide to have him served a proper evening meal. He is already looking at me full of
expectation and hunger-with his one eye.
Where did you lose your eye?
“In a brawl. But I still got my knife into the other fellow pretty nicely. After that he got three months. They gave me six. But it was beautiful in prison. At the time the building was completely new. I worked in the locksmith’s and the blacksmith’s. There wasn’t much to do and yet there was enough to eat. Prison really isn’t all that bad.”
I look around to make sure that no one is listening to me talking with a former convict.
But no one seems to have noticed. I seem to have ended up in well-to-do company.
Are there also prisons in Hell for those who never saw the inside of one? Incidentally mustn’t it be a peculiarly beautiful feeling
to hit bottom in reality at least once, where there is no going down any further, but only upward beckons at best? Where for once one stands before the whole height of reality?
“So after that there I was, out on the street, since they banished me. Then I went to France. Though I did not understand the language at first, but nevertheless it worked. And it was lovely.”
What demands beauty makes! Something can be learned from this man.
The soup arrives, a thin hot broth, which I spoon down critically.
He gulps it down devotedly and soon he has completely emptied an enormous bowl of soup.
Why did you have this brawl?
“It was over a woman. She had a bastard from him but I wanted to marry her. Otherwise she was fine. After that she didn’t want to anymore. I haven’t heard from her since.”
How old are you now?
”I’ll be thirty-five in spring. Once I find a proper job we can get married right off. I’ll find myself one, I will. There’s something wrong with my lungs, though. But that’ll soon get a-bit better again.”
He has a coughing fit. I think that the prospects are not good for a marriage and silently admire the poor devil’s unswerving optimism.
After dinner I go to bed in a humble room. I hear how my comrade settles into his lodging for the night next door. He coughs several times heftily and dryly. Then it becomes still. I fall asleep.
Suddenly I awaken again at an uncanny moan and gurgle mixed with a half-stifled cough. I listen attentively for a while.
No doubt, it is my comrade.
It sounds like something dangerous. I jump up and throw something on. I open the door of his room. Moonlight floods it.
The man lies still dressed on a sack of straw. [
A dark stream of blood is flowing from his mouth and forming a large puddle on the floor. He moans half choking and coughs out a lot of blood. He wants to get up but sinks back again.
I hurry to support him. But I see that the hand of death lies on him.
He is sullied with blood twice over. My hands are also covered with it.
A final word twists out of his
mouth: ‘Mother’.325 Then every stiffness loosens, a gentle shudder passes over
his limbs. And then everything is deathly still.
God, where am I? Are there also cases of death in Hell for those who have
never thought about death?
I look at my hl bloodstained hands. As if I were a murderer or sacrificer.
Was Is it not the blood of my brother that sticks to my hands?
The moon paints my shadow black on the white chalk walls of the chamber. What am I doing here?
Why this horrible drama? I look inquiringly at the moon as the only witness of this scene.
How does this concern the moon?
Has it not already seen worse? Has it not shone into the broken eyes of hundreds of thousands?
This is certainly of no avail to its eternal craters- one more or less.
Death, does it not uncover the terrible deceit of life?
Therefore it is probably all the same to the moon, whether and how one passes away. Only we kick up a fuss about it- with what right?
What did this one do?
He worked, laughed, drank, ate, slept, gave his eye for the woman, and for her sake forfeited his good name, furthermore he lived the human myth after a fashion, he admired the wonder-workers, praised the death of the tyrant, and vaguely dreamed of the freedom of the people. And then-then he died miserably-like everyone else.
That is generally valid. Thanks to you, my soul, I placed myself on the lowest fundament. From here there is no further downward, but only
What shadows over the earth! All lights gutter out in final despondency and loneliness.
Death has entered, and there is no one left to grieve. This is a final truth and no riddle.
The most extreme human truths are no riddles. Why did we think they were riddles?
What delusion could make us believe in riddles?
My soul, you are terribly real. You have set me with hard thrust on the sharp stones of misery and death. I grow weak and miserable-my blood, my precious lifeblood trickles away between these stones.
I step clear of this chamber of horror and secretly save my bare life.
My soul, I shudder at you!
I really must be a player at life, who needs to hear such words.