Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Notes from underetasjen

I am a sick girl... I am a wicked girl. An unattractive girl. I think my back aches. However, I don't know a fig about my sickness, and am not sure what it is that hurts me. I am not being treated and have rarely been, though I respect medicine and doctors. What's more, I am also superstitious in the extreme; well, at least enough to respect medicine. (I'm sufficiently educated not to be superstitious, but I am). No, sir, I refuse to be treated out of wickedness. Now, you will certainly not be so good as to understand this. Well, sir, but I understand it. I will not, of course, be able to explain to you precisely who is going to suffer in this case from my wickedness; I know perfectly well that I will in no way "muck things up" for the doctors by not taking their treatment; I know better than anyone that by all this I am harming only myself and no one else. But still, if I don't get treated, it is out of wickedness. My back aches; well, then let it ache even worse! 


You must wonder why I keep writing about my pain. There is pleasure in a backache, I will answer. Writing about it is like moaning. I had a backache for almost a week. Here, of course, one does not remain silently angry, one moans; but these are not straightforward moans, they are crafty moans, and the craftiness is the whole point. These moans express the pleasure of the one who is suffering; if they did not give her pleasure, she wouldn't bother moaning. It's a good example, gentlemen, and I shall develop it. In these moans there is expressed, 1st, all the futility of our pain, so humiliating for our consciousness, and all the lawfulness of nature, on which, to be sure, you spit, but from which you suffer all the same, while it does not. There is expressed the consciousness that your enemy is nowhere to be found, and yet there is pain; the consciousness that, despite all possible Wagenheims, you are wholly the slave of your back; that if someone wishes, your back will stop aching, and if not, it will go on aching for another 3 weeks; and that, finally, if you still do not agree, and protest even so, then the only consolation you have left is to whip yourself, or give your wall a painful beating with your fist, and decidedly nothing else. Well, sir, it is with these bloody offenses, with these mockeries from no one knows whom, that the pleasure finally begins, sometimes reaching the highest sensuality. I ask you, gentlemen: listen sometime to the moaning of an educated girl of the 21st century who is suffering from a backache- say, on the 2nd or 3rd day of her ailment, when she's beginning to moan not as she did on the 1st day, that is, not simply because she has a backache, not like some coarse peasant, but like a person touched by development and European civilisation, like a person who has "renounced the soil and popular roots", as they say. Her moans somehow turn bad, nastily wicked, and continue for whole days and nights. Yet she herself knows that her moans will be of no use to her; she knows better than anyone that she is only straining and irritating herself and others in vain; she knows that even the public before whom she is exerting herself, and her whole family, are already listening to her with loathing; do not believe even in a pennyworth of it, and understand in themselves that she could moan differently, more simply, without roulades and flourishes, and that it's just from spite and crafiness that she is playing around like that. Now it is in all these consciousnesses and disgraces that the sensuality consists.


OK, I'm kidding. I take back the last sentence of the 1st passage. These passages (with some modifications) fit me perfectly, including the fact that I refuse to see doctors and pharmacists out of wickedness, but the similarities stop there. I feel very, very alive already, with every fibre of my being, amidst all this pain, but that's it- Nå er det nok!


Rereading "Notes from Underground". 
I start to feel that it may not be a very good idea to compare and contrast this book and "Invisible Man" in my essay- must cram lots of things into 5 pages, remove some, hurry through some others. But it's too late now to change, and I don't think there's anything else I'd like to write about.

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