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1 soul


The Black Books


15 Nov. 1913.

My child, you are not God, how could you be God? You are my soul and I am not allowed-not yet-to know, why you call yourself “child” – and why a girl?

I despair-how can I manage it?-how and what should I express??

My soul, I will continue my story as this seems to be the next step.

(One must know how to do the next steps, regardless of the scornful laughter that the devils set up below the heart, those cowardly ear-whisperers and two-inch-high poison-mixers.

I carry my burden and am myself a burden and mockery and whip and torment of the cross)

So listen, my soul, regardless of the scornful laughter of my own devils I continue talking to you:

I think further back to my 19th year of age, when a dream decided upon my career choice:

First I saw, in a dense undergrowth of a solitary region, a quiet dark water, a pond, and in its middle swam the most fantastic of animals,roughly comparable to a many-colored jellyfish.

This animal aroused in me the highest intellectual curiosity, so that I awoke with a pounding heart.

And soon thereafter I had a second dream: I was in a dark forest, where I found a small hill like a charcoal kiln.

I poked it with my foot and discovered in it to my greatest surprise the bones of prehistoric animals, which also sparked off the greatest curiosity in me.

These dreams motivated me  to the study of the natural sciences and that led me to medicine.

Why must I tell you all that, my soul? Why do you chain me to this book?

And why do you drive my pen so furiously, as if it had to go a long way and hurry to cover it? Why all this? Forgive the din of mockery that rises in me.

I trust you that it’s not in vain and will not turn into empty agony.

Neither vanity nor thirst for glory nor any other meaningless striving are able to lead me to this.

Yet you, my soul, want me to do this. What strange new things are happening to me?

I know too much not to see on what swaying bridges I go yet I follow you, you command, I follow where, where are you leading to?

Forgive my human apprehension, brimful of knowledge. My foot hesitates to follow you. Into what mist and darkness does your path lead?

Must I also learn to do without meaning? If this is what you demand, then so be it. This hour belongs to you.

What is there, where there is no meaning? Only nonsense, or madness, it seems to me. Or is there also a supreme meaning?

Is that your meaning, my soul? look, how I limp after you on crutches of understanding.

Forgive me, my light, I am a man and you stride like a God. What torture! I must return to myself, to my smallest things.

I want to be careful and say:

I had learned to see other things as large and had compared those with the things of my soul and had discovered that they were small, even pitiably small.

You force me to see them as large, to make them large. Is that your aim?

I follow, but it terrifies me-it was not boredom or tedium as I just thought before in an appeasing manner.

Forgive the never-resting doubt in this hour chosen by you as your holy hour.

I disrupt your divine peace, but hear also my doubts, otherwise I cannot follow, since your meaning is a supreme meaning, and your steps are the steps of a God.

Not even It is not even my language that flows speaks through my pen. Oh, if I only knew what you want! But I must not think either.

Even thought, as I understand it, should no longer be? You want that too?

I should give myself completely into your hands- but who are you? You see, I do not trust you- not once to trust- is that my love for you, my joy in you?

Is this the way to welcome a friend? 35 Do I not trust every valiant man, every honorable woman, and not you, my soul?

Your hand lies heavy on me- but I am willing- I am willing.

Have I not rendered my best to love men and trust them, and should I not render this to you, my own soul, or rather the soul, by which I am owned?

Yes, I see how you guide me. I recognize your wise schooling. You convince me and I follow.

(Whereto? someone cries in me. Be quiet and remain silent, because I speak with my soul.)

] Forget, my soul, my pathetic hesitation, my fickle and pitiful doubt. I know it is ignoble to doubt you.

I am only a man and you know how difficult it is for this man to set aside the beggar’s pride he takes in his own thought.

Without talking back from now on, I will continue to tell you how I caught sight of a woman three years ago, whose soul seemed to me more valuable than my marital anxiety.

I conquered my fear out of love for her.

But you wanted it that way and gave me a dream, which rendered a decision: I dreamed then (it was shortly after Christmas 1912), that I was sitting with my children in a marvelous and richly furnished tower chamber- an open columned hall we were sitting at a round table, whose top was a marvelous dark green stone.

Suddenly a seagull or dove flew in and landed with light feathers on the table.

I admonished the children to be quiet, so that they would not scare away the beautiful white bird.

Suddenly this little bird turned into a child of eight years, a small blond girl, and ran around playing with my children in the marvelous columned colonnades.

Then the child suddenly turned into the gull or dove. She said the following to me:

“Only in the first hour of the night can I become human, while the male dove is busy with the twelve dead.”

With these words the bird flew away and I awoke. My decision was made. I had to give all my faith and trust to this woman.

You know, my soul, what blessing was bestowed through that upon me, my wife, and my house.

I cannot express it all in words, what flourishing and beauty sprang from that for me.

I do not want to talk about the torments that I rightfully had to endure- all these are more than offset by the abundance of beauty and elevation which I was allowed to experience.

This dream still stands right in front of me and my understanding does not suffice to exhaust it.

That speech of the dove-what does it mean?

The “early hours of the night” seem to be your hours, my soul; but who is the male dove, who are the twelve dead?

And what is the male dove doing in the realm of the dead?

Hold on, it is a torment, this unbearable non-understanding, this digging up of things not understood, of the most subjective.

What’s the point of that? Did I not discuss this dream with my friends? Why should it still be told to you once more?

I forgot, forgive me, that you are also one of my friends, and have the first right to that dream, to my trust.

Should what I give them not belong to you?

I recognize my injustice. It seems to me that I despised you. I accept with sorrow how little I loved you.

My joy at finding you again was not justified, because it was not genuine.

I recognize that the scornful laughter in me was also right. My feeling was not genuine, because I did not truly love you.

l must therefore learn to love you. You gradually open my eyes. I must thank you, my soul. Your hand is strong, yet just.

I hope, or much more: I begin to hope for redemption. Here, someone stands beside me and whispers terrible things into my ear:

“You write to be printed and circulated among people. You want to cause a stir through the unusual. Nietzsche did this better than you. You are aping Saint Augustine .”

You hear, my soul, this damned speech, and you see my defenselessness against my own indignant weapon-Woe, even self-criticism, healing and thrice-praised, shall I even let go of that?

“This fear,” you say, “testifies against me”- lt is true, it testifies against you and me. It kills the holy trust between you and me.

How and why should I care, if someone says things like that, if there was not a nasty vanity in me , which I rank above you, my  soul, which is more to me than a conversation with you.

Why should I hide this doubt from you at all? I leave the decision to you.

If it is good and your will, so it might befit men in this or any other form. If it is your will, not our will, then it should be kept secret.

What do I know?

I understand how ineffably childish I am, to eagerly run ahead and to trade impertinently in a commodity that I have not created and that has not even been created and that besides everything cannot be created at all, if you, my soul, will not render it.

You could close your doors this very day and I would remain seated as a poor beggar in front of your doors.

However, this thought gets to me, it seems to me that your arrow hit home.

Allow me to lay this doubt in your hand. You will know best what to do with it.

You are silent, my soul? I don’t want to force you and strive conceitedly. Do you want to cross over?

Alas, into what abysses of secrecy are you descending? I watch you and you disappear.

You spoke to me, you did good to me, now you are silent. I patiently put down my pen. What else could I do?

My soul, it is night, I call on you. No answer?

Where do I stand? Which doors will open?

“Look down into your own depths,” a voice says.

But I am plagued by impatience-not in vain have I been absent from my soul for II years. And now she should be ready at my call!

How much pamperedness there still is in me!

Pathetic fear of fate – as if life should broaden itself into ever more powerful spheres; but it goes into the depths, my hair turns gray.

Not as if I feared the depths- or am I really afraid of them?

What are you saying? You whisper almost inaudibly: “Look into your depths!”

I am sitting on the edge of a deep green well, listening, full of patience: More power! It is terribly difficult.

More solitude, more depth; that’s what’s needed. It cannot be achieved hastily. I should have learned this.

“Pray to your depths,” it says in me. “Waken the dead,” it continues tfl.

What foreign greed and restlessness disturbs me? Serenity has to be found again. God, what do you want? I am not ready yet. ~The Black Books, Vol. II, Page 153-159