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  • Writer's pictureCorbin Allardice

September 5, 1911

I must work, without end, towards feeling whatever it is in myself that constitutes unity. And if I give up, I should be carried by the current, until I am close to madness. Images, memories, faces pass by me and pass away.

[Of course] a person can live without self-reflection, but only one who possesses healthy instincts, strong discipline, and good habits. My instincts are either dead or perverse. I have almost no habits, or those I have ought be tossed out. So what am I, then, without self-reflection? A conglomeration of images and reactions. Quiet idiocy. Supposedly, I am pensive--in fact, my gaze is vacant, empty. I am protected by the meager spark of resistance I still show. What will happen later? A shadow dance, quiet--and endless.

There may exist such a species of madness whose arrival can be felt. You must protect yourself vigilantly, without distraction. Every lapse of vigilance is a roll of the dice, a moment in which you might be returned to dust.* All that can save you is effort, concentration. But that is too abstract--I need [a] discipline, something specific, solid, concrete…

Just work--and less of variety and variegation. As I approach variegation, I disappear in [its depths]. I need something to bind me. People tell me--I must listen, must force myself to listen. And I think--I must think seriously. And exorcise the images that leave me not alone.

By Moyshe Varshe

Translated by Corbin Allardice

*- I find the Yiddish here slightly ambiguous: yede tseshtreytkayt iz a moment fun tsufalen un tseshtoybt vern. It could also be read as "every lapse in vigiliance is a moment of nightfall (or sleep) and of returning to dust."

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