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Archive for September, 2014

I’m beginning to get fat. Truthfully it is very ridiculous but I must reluctantly accept the responsibility for it—if I don’t want to lie to myself. I’m beginning to get fat. My starving body has consumed the meals with such greed that it is becoming groggy. For some time now I’ve noticed my poor hands. These bundles of sinews and veins have altered their appearance. There are no depressions between the tendons any more. My veins lay embedded in fat and my fingers have become round. My gaunt legs have filled out my trousers and the tips of my knees have become round and soft when I am sitting, like the cupola of a cathedral, or like those of an invalid. There is a very real and unaccustomed clumsiness when I walk around on them.

But today I’ve received unambiguous proof of just how fat I’ve become. I was bent over my work completely forgetting my entire surroundings and myself. Suddenly in the middle of a sentence I felt compelled to put down my quill and look outside. I saw a piece of blue sky and the cemetery in the wonderful autumn sunshine. Orange colored linden leaves slowly blew past the slit in the tomb. It was early in the day. The thin threads of old woman summer were now covered over and all of the graves were sparkling with dewdrops. A wild yearning fell over me to see Bartholomew’s tomb in this cool morning light, to relish the shapes in this rich sunlight and experience the happy feeling that goes with admiring such a great work of art.

I got up and stood by the entrance, bent forward and tried to see the monument. But it didn’t work. My fat, bloated body filled up the narrow slit, got stuck in it like in a trap and only by pulling against the side walls with all my strength was I able to back out and free myself. I must take responsibility for the ridiculous fact that I am a prisoner. I, the scrawny unfortunate one have become a prisoner of my belly. My gluttony has deprived me of the consolation and happiness of great art.

It is no wonder. I eat like a farm hand and don’t move around. But that will all be different. From now on I will eat normally and go jogging around my table every day. What good would it do if I got even bigger and at the end of a year couldn’t leave the tomb with my well-earned two hundred thousand Francs? I’m going to begin with my abstinence today.

Oh ridiculous tragicomedy, this gluttony! What has come out of my beautiful intention? I held it firmly in my soul and drove in deeply in with hammer blows of my will, right next to my other great resolutions, next to my belief in my work and in myself. Then, as I saw Ivan coming between the graves with his little cart on the sand strewn path I struggled to keep my resolution and my will firmly in place.

When a bowl of tempting ragout was placed in front of me I saw my fat round face in the smooth polished silver of the saucer and renewed my intention.

“No,” I said and pushed the dish away from me. “Today all I want is some bouillon and a white bread.”

Ivan looked at me and his grin as well the look he gave me in which he appeared to measure my circumference showed that he did understand me. He quietly pulled back the bowl of ragout enriched with mussels and placed a bowl of bouillon from his cart onto the table. As soon as he set the beautiful brown brew in front of me its aroma was so wonderful that my resolve wavered. Just as the steam from a laundry eventually penetrates the strongest masonry and destroys it this delightful aroma destroyed my resolve, only it didn’t take as long. It only took a few breaths. After I had taken the first swallow an immense craving for food swept over me. My belly screamed for food as if I had already gone for fourteen days without eating. My intestines cramped together and I threw all considerations aside.

Ivan had stepped outside and acted as if he had prepared the food himself. He uncovered the pots and dishes in his cart showing me the white flesh of the poultry, the brown crusts of the brats, the colorful mix of Italian salad, the yellow-white creamy filling of a torte. I stood up, reached over the table and pulled the bowl of ragout toward me.

“Ivan,” I said. “Bring everything, bring it. I’ve recovered my appetite.”

In a moment I once more saw my face in the mirror of the platter. My teeth were bared, my eyes rolled around fearfully and my entire features were distorted by greed. I looked like an animal protecting his food. Not anything remained of the entire meal. I consumed the ragout together with the brats and ate half a turkey. I had to force myself to set the bones aside and not gnaw on them like a gluttonous hound.

I must say that the cook who prepared these meals for Madame Wassilska is truly an artist at his trade. I don’t believe it is possible to cook better than this man. Every meal is complete in itself and the meals are so balanced that a taste of one thing compels one to eat it all. It is impossible to resist a meal that is produced with such refinement. They are equally charming to the eye, the nose and the gums. I bless this great-unknown artist–and I curse him. It begins to look as if I may never leave this tomb. If this goes on I will become—fattened.

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For the second time the same misfortune. My papers, which I had completely organized and laid out on the table, are once more strewn over the entire floor. I must not forget to put them into some other location or burden them with a heavy weight.

Today I have seen perfectly how they were sent whirling to the floor by a draft. I woke up in the middle of the night out of the deepest sleep as if my nerves had been given a signal from an attached electrical battery. It is inexplicable, but my entire inner attention, the very core of my being, hangs on this work, is judged on it and feels it as a component of itself. While I slept this attention was still awake. The premonition of danger to my work interrupted my good sleep.

I awoke and saw my marble chamber flooded with a moderate light. It was not moonlight from outside. This brightness appeared to be the reflection from the many marble tombstones that had somehow combined and penetrated into the chamber in such a way that the stones around me glowed. It was the first time I had seen such illumination and it somehow reminded me of the phosphorescent lights of the ocean or as if the stones had absorbed the light of the sun during the day and were now giving it back again in a soft glow.

I sat up in my cot. The chamber was so ablaze with this light that I could make out the objects of my study. The uncommon phenomenon suggested an entirely new line of research into how matter was formed. Did it originate out of this mysterious radiation?

At that moment I noticed a black four-cornered hole on the back wall of the tomb at the place where the bronze plaque was embedded. It looked as if someone had removed the plaque. At the same moment a soft breath of air swept over me that brought with it the scent of withered flowers and extinguished candles. It was a smell that I had at times noticed before. This breeze went from the entrance of my tomb toward the back wall or from there to the entrance and I saw how it seized my papers that were lying flat on the table and whirl them to the floor.

Half terrified and half furious I sprang out of my bed to save the rest of my work. The papers appeared to cling once more to the marble floor and as I pulled on them I noticed the stones were moist and sticky as if covered with a layer of some congealing substance that gradually released the papers. I gathered them together with difficulty.

That was when the bronze plate first occurred to me again but when I looked it was there back in its place. A soft light radiated from it so that I could even read the name of the deceased perfectly. An immense excitement seized me. I saw a new puzzle placed before me, a new discovery into the most mysterious of all forces, light.

I was certain that this phenomenon dealt with a new species of light, perhaps some type of radiation like x-rays that penetrated through metal and under certain conditions, under a specific angle of refraction had the power to make things disappear. When I had looked out from my bed the bronze plate was gone. I sat back down on the bed again but now it remained in its place. I was wrong then and must have missed what really happened.

I got very little sleep that night. I kept going through the various methods of light investigation to determine which would work best in this case. It was only in the early morning dawn as the strange radiation slowly dwindled before the day that I finally found some rest.

Curious bystanders went back and forth or stood outside attempting to see me. I could only imagine what the newspapers had written about me. The Parisian could not imagine that anyone would remain in one spot for an entire year of their own free will. Some simply laughed at me as a fool. They stood outside and grinned. Others shook their heads at me, filled with compassion and melancholy.

Oh if these sad Parisians only knew that what I feared more than death was boredom! If they only knew what I experienced, how the thoughts of my work have not once given me peace at night. A short journalist with a notebook and pencil attempted to pull information from me. He tried to talk me into giving up my two hundred thousand Francs just so he could have a spicy story to deliver. (By the way, I really would like to know what the newspapers are writing about me, whether they portray me as a hero or as an idiot. All I need to do is tell Ivan to bring me a newspaper. But I have sworn that I will only take of the outside world what can be seen of the entrance to Père Lachaise. Nothing of the outside world shall divert me from my work. My short journalist will depict me honestly. I’ve made it clear to him through gestures that I must remain quiet and stay inside here behind the door and the slit in the marble wall.

Another visitor has me irritated and stirred up. Margaret was there. She didn’t dare come up herself, but I saw her black hat with the yellow tea roses in the distance between the burial mounds. When it began to rain a troop of people came back from a burial and walked past my dwelling. They stood there, pressing themselves against each other and staring in at me. There was a black haired clod with a glistening wet umbrella; someone made a joke, a couple made faces at me. Then suddenly I saw, only for a moment, between two wet umbrellas, under a thin rain veil, Margaret’s large hat and her sad pale face beneath it…

“You are the best! It is all for you, Margaret, that I sit inside here, all for you!”

I have no doubt any more that intermolecular forces are at work in the marble of this tomb that are contrary to known science. I’ve written down my nightly observations. As soon as complete darkness falls, sometime towards the middle of the night, a mysterious light, a strange greenish glow appears to radiate out of the stone. I’m inclined to think that it is a special type of marble that absorbs light during the day and gives it off again as a phosphorescent glow at night.

On the other hand the structure of the marble itself appears to be different under the influence of this radiation. This is an impression I’ve had twice now and it always repeats itself. The outer layer of the marble appears to become soft; turns into a viscous jelly like substance. At the same time in the uncertain light the images and veins in the stone, the ferns, moss, starfish and coral branches seem to float in a fluid and crawl closer to the surface. When I walk over the marble blocks of the floor it is like stepping on a soft carpet. When I touch the walls the impression of my fingers stays behind.

What a strange and fortunate coincidence that that I am just beginning a foundational work on the decay of matter and entropy. This phenomenon that I am just learning about is closely related to that theme and will undoubtedly provide essential support for my theory after I have closely examined it. I am determined to do this.

Without a doubt the appearance of this light and the structural changes of the marble stand in close association with each other and they must derive from the elementary laws of matter and all other known types of radiation.

I will require some apparatus for my experiments. I’ve given Ivan a list and appointed him to procure them for me. He just looked at me without comprehending and grinned scornfully. Poor devil, his Asian skull has no concept of the wonderful elation that researchers and discoverers feel.

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