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  • Writer's pictureCorbin Allardice

August 23, 1911

There is a great deal of petty evil in me. I choke it, and it chokes me.* It breaks out from time to time. Only from time to time? What voice is speaking now, if not my choked-back evil, which bears my bound hands? And why am I disgusted by myself--and not by the snake who bears poison in its flesh? Where do I get the nerve to judge everyone and everything, when it has all already been decreed in that dark hiding place where my evil has curled up. It hides from my virtue. Laughing at my virtue, it has buried itself in a cloud of fictions: that it is Not-evil, that it is not at all.


No don’t try to suffocate it, just the opposite--that excites it, that nourishes it. You must kill it. Pretty words!** How can you kill it? It seems like you’ve killed it. And you have done nothing more than drive it away for a while, soon it will return, choked and lithe, gnawing at you. Supposedly gone and again returning. Without end.


It is not true that I love someone or something. All I have is pity. Evil does not love, it does not say “yes.” Evil can pity, it can weep bitter tears for its own cursed fate. We cannot relate to the world otherwise than how we relate to ourselves. What is the world? Between meaning and the world, stands "I.”*** I (re)create everything in the form and image of that I. The world looks like myself. Evil, pettiness, misanthropy, cruelty, pessimism--is it all so tightly bound?


How did it get this way? Not so long ago I thought constantly of moral self-perfection, and yet now, all those thoughts and decisions have left no trace in me. Have I already closed my circle? Repentance, hope, grace, and--nightmare. I don’t believe myself, so I must believe in the magic of self-consciousness. Now I’m saying “magic,” where once I would have said “miracle.”


And if I believe neither myself nor my consciousness, what should I do? In the night someone comes and looks at me, and I am paralyzed by fear, unable to move, someone steps on my chest with a heavy boot--I scream--; the scream frees me. I wake up.


But why don’t I scream in real life? I don’t scream, I don’t cry.


I’m cursed.




*- The word for evil or malice, beyzkayt, is feminine in Yiddish, as such Varshe uses “she” rather than “it.” While I chose not to preserve this for readability, the gender dynamic is significant.

**- A fayne melitse,” see the footnote for the August 15, 1911 entry for a discussion of the word melitse.

***- The line reads צװישן מיינעם און דער װעלט שטעה איך, I opted to read maynem as a typo, reading it instead as meynen (to think/signify/mean). It is possible that maynem (my [something]) is correct, however there is no clear object for it and the declination does not match di velt (the world). It could be read as "Between [what is] mine and the world, I stand" or "Between my [world] and the world, I stand."






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