Nadirisms 47-49: Books or the Body, The Conversion of Heine, & Mutual Immortality
BOOKS. Humans, stripped of flesh and bone. Essence of humanity, the song of all songs--the song of ended lives and of dead fiddles.
Like a fire in the black of night. In a field. You look in the fire, and you see nothing. Just a heap of embers, an illumination, which makes the distant darkness...darker.*
Bikher. Mentshn, oysgeton fun fleysh-un-hoyt. Esents fun mentshlekhkayt, dos lid fun ale lider--dos lid fun di ufgeherte mentshn, fun toyte fidlen.
Vi a fayer in der nakht-fintsernish. Af a feld. Du guckst in fayer, zest gornisht. Zest bloyz a fayer-klompn, an uflikhtikung, vos makht di vayterdike fintsernish--fintserer.
Heinrich Heine converted and became...a Jew.
That little bit of ‘baptismal water’ they sprayed on him, collected interest and poured out him much later as “Jewish tears.”**
Haynrikh Hayne hot zikh geshmadt un...gevorn a yid.
S’bisl “toyf-vaser,” vos me hot af im geshpritst, hot shpeter mit a sakh protsentn aroysgeveynt fun im in “yidishe trern.”
If I were not ashamed of laying bare my heart, I would say that the fact that both of us enjoyed laughing at our ‘immortality,’ was based on the feeling that so long as one of us lived, the other was immortal. That makes it easier for you not to torture yourself with life, to allow the other, somehow, to live it for you. With your departure from the world, my ‘immortality’ died, Yosl Kotler, not yours.
Ven ikh volt mikh nisht geshemt mayn harts naket oystsuton, volt ikh gezogt, az dos vos mir beyde hobn zikh fargunen azoy shtark tsu lakhn fun undzere “umshterblekhkaytn,” hot gehat zayn grunt in dem gefil, az azoy lang vi eyner fun undz lebt, iz der anderer umshterblekh. Es vet bloyz gringer vern dermit, vos du vest zikh aleyn nit darfn zikh paynikn mit lebn un der anderer vet es shoyn vi-es-iz ton far dir. Mit dayn opgang fun der velt iz mayn “umshterblekhkayt” geshtorbn, yosl kotler, nit dayne.
By Moyshe Nadir
Translated by Corbin Allardice
*- I am uncertain of the exact meaning of fayer-klompn, here rendered as “pile of embers.” As klump can mean “heap/pile,” this translation is likely, but not certain.
**- What exactly Nadir is referencing with “Jewish tears,” of that I am uncertain. It is worth noting that the irony of this first line is heightened in the Yiddish, as shmadn means “to convert to Christianity” rather than merely “to convert.”