The Red Book: A Reader’s Edition (Philemon)

I resist, I cannot accept this hollow nothing that I am.

What am I? What is my I? I always presuppose my I.

Now it stands before me-I before my I. I speak now to you, my I:

We are alone and our being together threatens to become unbearably boring.

We must do something, devise a pastime; for example, I could educate you.

Let us begin with your main flaw, which strikes me first: you have no correct self-esteem.

Have you no good qualities that you can be proud of? You believe that being capable is an art.

But one can also learn such skills to some extent. Please, do so.

You find it difficult-well, all beginnings are difficult.

Soon you will be able to do it better. D

o you doubt this?

That is of no use; you must be able to do it, or else I cannot live with you.

Ever since the God has arisen and spreads himself in whichever fiery heavens, to do whatever he does, what exactly I do not know, we have depended upon one another.

Therefore you must think about improving, or else our life together will become wretched.

So pull yourself together and value yourself!

Don’t you want to?

Pitiful creature!

I will torment you a bit if you do not make an effort.

What are you moaning about? Perhaps the whip will help?

Now that gets under your skin, doesn’t it?

Take that-and that. What does it taste of? Of blood, presumably?

Of the Middle Ages in “The Glory of God?

Or do you want love, or what goes by that name?

One can also teach with love, if blows do not bear fruit. So should I love you?

Press you tenderly to myself?

I truly believe that you are yawning.

How now, you want to speak?

But I won’t let you, otherwise in the end you will claim that you are my soul.

But my soul is with the fire worm, with the son of the frog who has flown to the heavens above, to the upper sources.

Do I know what he is doing there?

But you are not my soul, you are my bare, empty nothing-I, this disagreeable being, whom one cannot even deny the right to consider itself worthless.

One could despair over you: your sensitivity and desirousness exceed any reasonable measure.

And I should live with you, of all people? I must, since the strange misfortune occurred that gave me a son and took him away.

I regret that I must speak such truths to you.

Yes, you are laughably sensitive, self-righteous, unruly, mistrustful, pessimistic, cowardly; dishonest with yourself venomous, vengeful; one can hardly speak about your childish pride, your craving for power, your desire for esteem, your laughable ambition, your thirst for fame without feeling sick.

The playacting and pomposity become you badly and you abuse them to the best of your ability.

Do you believe that it is a pleasure rather than a horror to live together with you?

No, three times no!

But I promise you that I will tighten the vise around you and slowly pull off your skin.

I will give you the chance to be flayed.

You, you of all people wanted to tell other people what to do? Come here, I will stitch a cloth of new skin onto you, so that you can feel its effect.

You want to complain about others, and that one has done an injustice to you, not understood you, misinterpreted you, hurt your feelings, ignored you, not recognized you, falsely accused you, and what else?

Do you see your vanity in this, your eternally ridiculous vanity?

You complain that the torment has not yet come to an end?

Let me tell you: it has only just begun.

You have no patience and no seriousness.

Only when it concerns your pleasure do you praise your patience.

I will double the torment so that you learn patience.

You find the pain unbearable, but there are other things that hurt even more, and you can inflict them on others with the greatest naivety and absolve yourself all unknowingly.

But you will learn silence.

For this I will pullout your tongue-with which you have ridiculed, blasphemed and-even worse-joked.

I will pin all your unjust and depraved words one by one to your body with needles so that you can feel how evil words stab.

Do you admit that you also derive pleasure from this torment?

I will increase this pleasure until you vomit with joy so that you know what taking pleasure in self-torment means.

You rise against me?

I am screwing the vise tighter, that’s all.

I will break your bones until there is no longer a trace of hardness there.

For I want to get along with you-I must-damn you-you are my I, which I must carry around with me to the grave.

Do you think that I want to have such foolishness around me all my life?

If you were not my I, I would have torn you to pieces long ago.

But I am damned to haul you through a purgatory so that you too will become somewhat acceptable.

You calI on God for help?

The dear old God has died, and it is good that way; otherwise he would have had pity on your repentant sinfulness and spared
me the execution by granting mercy.

You must know that neither a God of love nor a loving God has yet arisen, but instead a worm of fire crawled up, a magnificent frightful entity that lets fire rain on the earth, producing lamentations.

So cry to the God, he will burn you with fire for the forgiveness of your sins.

Coil yourself and sweat blood. You have needed this cure for a long time. Yes-others always do wrong-and you?

You are the innocent, the correct, you must defend your good right and you have a good, loving God on your side, who always forgives sins with pity.

Others must reach insight, not you, since you have a monopoly on all insight from the start and are always convinced that you are right.

And so cry really loudly to your dear God-he will hear you and let fire fall on you.

Have you not noticed that your God has become a fiery worm with a flat skull who crawls red-hot on the earth?

You wanted to be superior!

How laughable. You were, and are, inferior. Who are you, then? Scum that disgusts me.

Are you perhaps somewhat powerless?

I place you in a corner where you can remain lying until you come to your senses again.

If you no longer feel anything, the procedure is of no use. After all, we must proceed skillfully.

It really says a lot about you that one needs such barbaric means for your amendment.

Your progress since the early Middle Ages appears to be minuscule.

Did you feel dejected today; inferior, debased? Shall I tell you why?

Your inordinate ambition is boundless.

Your grounds are not focused on the good of the matter but on your vanity.

You do not work for humanity but for your self-interest, You do not strive for the completion of the thing but for the general recognition and safeguarding of your own advantage.

I want to honor you with a prickly crown of iron; it has teeth inside that bore themselves into your flesh.

And now we come to the vile swindle that you pursue with your cleverness.

You speak skillfully and abuse your capability and discolor, tone down, strengthen, apportion light and shade, and loudly proclaim your honorableness and upright good faith.

You exploit the good faith of others, you gloatingly catch them in your snares and speak of your benevolent superiority and the prize that you are for others.

You play at modesty and do not mention your merit, in the certain hope that someone else will do it for you; you are disappointed and hurt if this doesn’t happen.

You preach hypocritical composure.

But when it really matters, are you calm?

No, you lie.

You consume yourself in rage and your tongue speaks cold daggers and you dream of revenge.

You are gloating and resentful.

You begrudge the other the sunshine, since you would like to assign it to those whom you favor because they favor you.

You are envious of all well-being around you and you impertinently assert the opposite.

Inside yourself you think unsparingly and coarsely only what always suits you, and with this you feel yourself above humanity and not in the least responsible.

But you are responsible to humanity in everything that you think, feel, and do.

Do not pretend there is a difference between thinking and doing.

You rely only on your undeserved advantage, not to be compelled to say or do what you think and feel.

But you are shameless in everything where no one sees you.

If another said that to you, you would be mortally offended, despite knowing that it is true.

You want to reproach others for their failings? So that they better themselves?

Yes, confess, have you bettered yourself? From where do you get the right to have opinions of others?

What is your opinion about yourself? And what are the good grounds that support it?

Your grounds are webs of lies covering a dirty corner.

You judge others and charge them with what they should do.

You do this because you have no order within yourself because you are unclean.

And then-how do you really think?

It appears to me that you even think with men, regardless of their human dignity; you dare think by means of them, and use them as figures on your stage, as if they were how you conceive them?

Have you ever considered that you thus commit a shameful act of power, as bad as that for which you condemn others, namely that they love their fellow men, as they claim, but in reality exploit them to their own ends.

Your sin flourishes in seclusion, but it is no less great, remorseless, and coarse.

What is concealed in you I will drag out into the light, shameless one! I will crush your superiority under my feet.

Do not speak to me about your love.

What you call love oozes with self-interest and desirousness.

But you speak about it with great words, and the greater your words are, the more pathetic your so-called love is.

Never speak to me of your love, but keep your mouth shut. It lies.

I want you to speak about your shame, and that instead of speaking great words, you utter a discordant clamor before those whose respect you wanted to exact. You deserve mockery; not respect.

I will burn out of you the contents of which you were proud, so that you will become empty like a poured-out vessel.

You should be proud of nothing more than your emptiness and wretchedness.

You should be a vessel of life, so kill your idols. Freedom does not belong to you, but form; not power, but
suffering and conceiving.

You should make a virtue out of your self-contempt, which I will spread out before men like a carpet.

They should walk over it with dirty feet and you should see to it that you are dirtier than all the feet that step on you.

If I tame you, beast, I give others the opportunity to tame their beasts.

The taming begins with you, my I, nowhere else.

Not that you, stupid brother I, had been particularly wild.

There are some who are wilder.

But I must whip you until you endure the wildness of the others.

Then I can live with you.

If someone does you wrong, I will torment you to death, until you have forgiven the wrong suffered, yet not just by paying lip service, but also in your heavy heart with its heinous sensitivity.

Your sensitivity is your particular form of violence.

Therefore listen, brother in my solitude, I have prepared every kind of torture for you, if it should ever occur to you again to be sensitive. You should feel inferior.

You should be able to bear the fact that one calls your purity dirty and that one desires your dirtiness, that one praises your wastefulness as miserliness and your greed as a virtue.

Fill your beaker with the bitter drink of subjugation, since you are not your soul.

Your soul is with the fiery God who flamed up to the roof of the heavens.

Should you still be sensitive? I notice that you are forging secret plans for revenge, plotting deceitful tricks.

But you are an idiot, you cannot take revenge on fate. Childish one, you probably even want to lash the sea. Build better bridges instead; that is a better way to squander your wit.

You want to be understood?

That’s all we needed! Understand yourself and you will be sufficiently understood.

You will have quite enough work in hand with that.

Mothers’ little dears want to be understood. Understand yourself that is the best protection against sensitivity and satisfies your childish longing to be understood.

I suppose you want to turn others into slaves of your desirousness again?

But you know that I must live with you and that I will no longer tolerate such abject plaintiveness. ~Carl Jung; Red Book.