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assi

Pain and Death

 

 

To think that this horrifying thing, this agony, prowls among us as wild as it was in the first days of creation. Nothing has been accomplished in the course of these thousand years, this wild taboo has not been touched! We cultivate television and use electric blankets, but we die wild. A timid injection by a doctor may shorten suffering on the sly with increased doses of morphine. A shameful measure, too small for the enormous universality of dying. I demand Houses of Death where each person would have at his disposal modern means to an easy death. Where one could die easily, not by throwing oneself under a train or by hanging oneself from a hook. Where a weary, destroyed man could surrender to the friendly arms of the specialist, so that he could be assured a death without torture or disgrace.
Why not—I ask—why not? Who prevents you from civilizing death?
Diary, 1958 [Trans. Vallee]
I am very afraid of the devil. A strange confession from the lips of an unbeliever. I am incapable of liberating myself from the idea of the devil... . This roaming of the dreadful in my immediate vicinity ... What good are the police, rights, all guarantees and means of solicitude if a Monster strolls freely among us and nothing protects us from him, nothing, nothing, there is no barrier between him and us. His hand is free among us, the most free of the free! What separates the bliss of the casual stroller form the underground wailing of the voices of the tormented? Absolutely nothing, only empty space... . The earth upon which we walk is so covered with pain, we wade in it up to our knees—and this is today’s, yesterday’s, the day before yesterday’s pain, the pain from a thousand years ago—for one should not be deluded, pain does not dissolve in time and the cry of a child from thirty centuries ago is no less of a cry than the one that resounded three days ago. This is the pain of all generations and all beings—not just of man.
Diary, 1960 [Trans. Vallee]
In my youth I tortured animals. I remember how in Małoszyce I amused myself with the country boys. We chopped up frogs with whips. Today I am afraid—if this is the right word—of the suffering of a fly. And this fear, as if some awful weakness toward life were contained in it. I am in fact afraid of this, that I cannot bear the pain of a fly. With age, I underwent a general evolution, whose tragic and malignant character I do not want to hide; on the contrary, I would like to emphasize it as strongly as I can. And I claim that it is characteristic not just of me, but of my entire generation. […] But for people of the more recent school, pain is pain wherever it appears, equally horrifying in man as in a fly; in us the experience of pure suffering has become informed, our hell has become universal.
Diary, 1958 [Trans. Vallee]