from Obtuse Diary
by Amelia Rosselli, translated from the Italian by Dario De Pasquale and Deborah Woodard
Why not understand life on her own? Why not force life to understand itself? Why hadn't she been able to understand life? And indeed she did not understand life well, otherwise she would have feared life, instead of challenging it, as if it were a well to be filled up. Life is an empty well and its emptiness ought to be respected.
And also she was right to leave, and she was right to spare herself, and she was also right to let life go; and once again she was right not to let herself be tempted by life.
She let life spare its energies, as if they weren't already dead her fields not grown. She fled, fled, spared herself and (mistake) didn't show up. She let herself fall into the evil well; the bottom was a light all equal, it was a sharp asking oneself where one was but why am I so beautiful: she answered watching herself move among the rusty buckets. The why is of solitude? or the why is because solitude is the why, it's better, it's more lively, it's less afflicting? She lay down at the bottom of the well and then told herself to love the earth, because the earth couldn't be anything other than the well, round, the hollow in the earth's navel: and the earth, its green abstruse world wasn't clean.
But the clean is fresh with filth that I grew on my feet as if they were steps, said she, mistaking herself for another. I have no problems, I'm now as wise as another, I am now round as the circle and the tent pitched in spite of the desert sophisticated with lubricants. I am now round and I don't want to have you believe that I am any less round than you!
But every office has its State and the mis-en-scène was such to make her believe it could be false, uncoupled from the verdict, which she had constructed on her own in her microscopic brain. I have no banks for my thoughts therefore it's better not to cultivate my thoughts, she thought unfastening herself from the pants that by now were poking her. Now I have no brain left, nor thoughts, now I must find a house, find a spouse, do God's will, she thought still without realizing she was still forming judgments, or still thinking how she was alone in the world, and uncoupled, besides that, from the world. Now I won't be alone in the world, she thought, and was left more alone than before, trying not to be more alone than before, as before, and differently from before. Now I won't want to be anyone, she thought, and right away she was greeted as no one had been greeted before, as if she were her own underhanded enemy.
Now I have seen arrive in all the cantons of my hopes the wings of a spirituality much more reduced she told herself, breaking a couple of rules made so she would break them. Now I no longer want to be spirit, she told herself, and kissed herself laughing over her previous stupidity, not having understood before how stupid it could be the not kissing of one's own hand.
Now I have nobody whose hand I can kiss, she told herself, and she had thousands who kissed her fingers cut with her little bread knife. Now I'll show that I've grown to that age you all were when you brought me into the world!
I don't have a world ready for me and so I'm leaving for a world less ready for me that will want to make me suffer severely for the ordeals that I don't remember having suffered, and for my arrogance: I still have the old fault of not having known how to be anyone…
And with a fine spirit she cut both hands.
Now I won't want to be anyone, she thought--and she lounged into the new attitude that could allow her to be what she wished to be, namely no one. But with each kiss to the furtive hand there followed a glance at the kissed hand, which squeezed her with remorse and kicked her out of the house, as though in fact nothing remained but to leave the house. I'm no longer forty, she laughed while crying, and resigned. Now I no longer have anyone she caught herself saying, and it hadn't even ended all that chatter of hers when the bell rang.
It was the midday bell that tortured the Jesuits, who like her believed themselves to be obedient to God. It was a bell that reverberated for the few still left to contemplate God. But nothing remained for her other than remaining, first, to be able to contemplate God, and leaving, afterwards, to renounce God.
She left without telling anyone why she was leaving: she was leaving, and she was obedient to others in leaving, they who preferred that she leave. She left, and it was like taking off a jacket, busy in her leaving, and thinking: why did I leave? why did they make me leave?
I don't know why I left, she told herself, and I don't even want to know why they wanted me to leave, she told herself, and now I have no desire at all to leave, she thought as she was leaving.
And sitting down on the dead seat, she'd made a clean, tiring journey, continually thinking to herself: why leave, why did they wish me to leave?
It came: because she castrated herself? Because she was alone, and undesirable? Because she was conscious of her choice? or because she was new to the mechanism? It was as if a sideshow of interrogatives had hit her in the right spot: the head: the navel: the all-knowing: the nothing-knowing: her preferring to be dead.
She got on the train: made the trip and collected from the ticket vendor the promise of arriving on time in order to be destroyed in this new place where she would have, finally, learned how to live. Wanting burning to know how to live and to take from life only that which was owed to her!
But nothing was owed to her, as with horror she realized after a few months in the new city that at first appeared to her very sad and useless. She urgently followed her intentions, and obeyed the intentions of others: she worked till she tired herself too much to be able to follow her own instructions. Without instructions she became aware of being, but she insisted on recognizing only the instructions of others, in full obedience, in pride in the humiliation, in mathematical simplicity in calculating her current obligations forgetting the tortures not comprehended in the past.
She didn't think of dying, or of dying from it, or of needing to accept the pity of others; on the contrary: so hard and simple and pure was her intentionality that she was destroyed by it, nearly, as she didn't admit that it could be hard, pernicious, inhuman, this raffling off of her persona, listing it among the useless objects.
Now knowledge, or a glint, a crumb of knowledge here and there awoke her and made her understand a few things at least, with vehemence, violence, disappointment and even joy, in the realization. She realized that she had suffered damage, she realized that her horror at others' wrongdoing was to be regarded with indifference, because she could reach much greater heights of spirit, of art volatile and religious: her hunger for God for a moment satisfied: rather she was detaching herself from the earth's surface and fluctuant was asking for more peace, more gentleness, and for forgiveness for herself and for men, without knowing much about men, but understanding too much the calculations, the cruelty. She uttered not a word of her most intimate thoughts.