Email from the professor who teaches the only class I have enjoyed since I’ve been here: “Final class cancelled: Conflict.”
You spend your whole life just wanting to be understood, because to be understood is not to be alone.
I am empty. Like hallways after graduation day, like a blind-deaf dog in the projects, like a tin cup in a rusted houseboat, like the gaze of a fallen comrade, like the promise an old man makes, like the sound of your car’s engine when you’re leaving it all for the last time.
I’m not bitter about it. I don’t know why I even write it, except that I have maybe forty or fifty years to kill, so I may as well.
“When from the darkness of delusion
I saved your fallen soul
With ardent words of conviction,
And, full of profound torment,
Wringing your hands, you cursed
The vice that had ensnared you;
When, punishing by recollection
Your forgetful conscience,
You told me the tale
Of all that happened before,
And, suddenly, covering your face,
Full of shame and horror,
You tearfully resolved,
Indignant, shaken . . .
Etc., etc., etc.”
“Every decent man of our time is and must be a coward and a slave. This is a law of nature for all decent men on earth. If one of them should happen to be brave about something or other, we shouldn’t be comforted or distracted: he’ll still lose his nerve about something else. That’s the single and eternal way out. Only asses and their mongrels are brave, and even then, only until they come up against a wall. It’s not worthwhile paying them any attention because they really don’t mean anything at all.
“There was one more circumstance tormenting me at that time: no one was like me, and I wasn’t like anyone else. ‘I’m alone,’ I mused, ‘and they are everyone‘; and I sank deep into thought…
“Why, we don’t even know where this ‘real life’ lives nowadays, what it really is, and what it’s called. Leave us alone without books and we’ll get confused and lose our way at once — we won’t know what to join, what to hold on to, what to love or what to hate, what to respect or what to despise. We’re even oppressed by being men — men with real bodies and blood of our very own. We’re ashamed of it; we consider it a disgrace and we strive to become some kind of impossible ‘general-human-beings.’ We’re stillborn; for some time now we haven’t been conceived by living fathers; we like it more and more. We’re developing a taste for it. Soon we’ll conceive of a way to be born from ideas. But enough; I don’t want to write any more ‘from Underground…'”