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  • Writer's pictureCorbin Allardice

August 8, 1911

Can I want? If a person truly wants something, this thing and not something else--they achieve it. But do I want? What do I want? A person is locked in a prison. Terrible. Endlessly, they think of escape, and there’s no way. An unfortunate person, it seems; in fact, they are a comic character: they’re holding the door key in their hand.


I don’t know where to go. Inside, I turn myself about, my well-trodden path reaches from one wall to the other. And I hit my head against the wall, not hard, God forbid, so a bruise won’t form, and again I go along the same narrow path. But outside there are crossroads, endless roads at every turn. You can’t stay still, there are crowds who will crush you underfoot. But I am afraid of the outside. I am idle--with the key to open the door. I murmur some apotropaic charm, Oh, I am a master of words. Door, door,burst forth--let a good man out! It doesn’t open--I wait. Well, I’m hardly running out of time. I am afraid of the outside.


And I wrap myself tighter still in lies--I need to break free of them. If my prison is a prison, I need to get out. Or it is a hiding place for a base and bitter soul--a talisman against every danger, every unanswered question, and all answerable responsibility. Is that not the lightest and most comfortable path? There are stumbling points on every path, but this is comfort for the soul.


“God! Give me strength and courage to look without disgust upon my heart and flesh.”

--Baudelaire*



By Moyshe Varshe

Translated by Corbin Allardice


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