Читать онлайн "My Struggle: Book One" автора Knausgaard Karl Ove - RuLit - Страница 53

 
...
 
     



Выбрать главу
Загрузка...

Or else it was because the day was filled with so much else to dissipate the concentration. The traffic in the streets, people on the sidewalks and on steps and in windows, helicopters flying across the sky like dragonflies, children who could come running out at any moment and crawl in the mud or snow, ride tricycles, shoot down the gigantic slide in the middle of the playground, climb the bridge of the fully equipped “ship” beside it, play in the sandpit, play in the small “house,” throw balls or just scamper around, screaming and shouting, filling the yard with a cacophony like a cliff of nesting birds from morning to early afternoon, only interrupted, as now, by the peace of mealtimes. Then it was nearly impossible to be outdoors, not because of the noise, which I seldom noticed, but because the children had a tendency to flock around me. The few times I had tried that autumn they had started climbing up the low fence that divided the yard into two, and hung off it, four or five of them, and asked me about all sorts of things, or else they would amuse themselves by crossing the forbidden line and rushing past me laughing their heads off. The boy who was the pushiest was also the one who was usually picked up last. Whenever I walked home that way it was not unusual for me to see him messing around in the sandpit on his own, or with some other unfortunate, if he wasn’t hanging off the fence by the exit, that is. Then I usually greeted him. If no one else was around with two fingers to my brow, I may even have raised my “hat.” Not so much for his sake, because he sent me a fierce look every time, but for my own.

Sometimes I mused that if all soft feelings could be scraped off like cartilage around the sinews of an injured athlete’s knee, what a liberation that would be. No more sentimentality, sympathy, empathy. .

A scream rent the air.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAhhhh.

It startled me. Even though this scream was heard often, I never got used to it. The flats in the building it came from, on the opposite side of the nursery, were part of an old people’s home. I visualized someone lying in their bed, not moving, completely out of touch with the outside world, for the screams could be heard late at night, early in the morning, or during the day. Another man smoked on a balcony with death-rattle coughing fits that could last several minutes. Apart from that, the old people’s home was self-enclosed. Walking to my office, sometimes I happened to see caregivers in the windows on the other side of the building, they had a kind of recreation room there, and occasionally I saw some residents in the street, sometimes with police officers accompanying them home, a couple of times wandering around alone. Generally, though, I didn’t give the place a thought.

What a piercing scream.

All the curtains were drawn, including those behind the balcony door, which was ajar and from where the sound came. I watched for a while. Then I turned and headed for the door. Through the laundry room windows I saw the neighbor who lived in the flat below me folding a white sheet. I took my computer bag and went down the narrow grotto-like corridor, where the garbage cans stood, unlocked the metal gate, and came out onto the street, hurried off in the direction of KGB and the steps down to Tunnelgatan.

Twenty minutes later I was in my office. I hung my coat and scarf on the hook, put my shoes on the mat, made a cup of coffee, connected my computer and sat drinking coffee and looking at the title page until the screen saver kicked in and filled the screen with a myriad of bright dots.

The America of the Soul. That was the title. And virtually everything in the room pointed to it, or to what it aroused in me. The reproduction of William Blake’s famous, underwater-like Newton picture hanging on the wall behind me, the two framed drawings from Churchill’s eighteenth-century expedition next to it, purchased in London at some point, one of a dead whale, the other of a dissected beetle, both drawings showing several stages. A night mood by Peder Balke on the end wall, the green and the black in it. The Greenaway poster. The map of Mars I had found in an old National Geographic magazine. Beside it the two black-and-white photographs taken by Thomas Wågström; one of a gleaming child’s dress, the other of a black lake beneath the surface of which you can discern the eyes of an otter. The little green metal dolphin and the little green metal helmet I had bought on Crete and which now stood on the desk. And the books: Paracelsus, Basileios, Lucretius, Thomas Browne, Olof Rudbeck, Augustin, Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Seba, Werner Heisenberg, Raymond Russell, and the Bible, of course, and works about national romanticism and about curiosity cabinets, Atlantis, Albrecht Dürer and Max Ernst, the Baroque and Gothic periods, nuclear physics and weapons of mass destruction, about forests and science in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This wasn’t about knowledge but about the aura knowledge exuded, the places it came from, which were almost all outside the world we lived in now, yet were still within the ambivalent space where all historical objects and ideas reside.

In recent years the feeling that the world was small and that I grasped everything in it had grown stronger and stronger in me, despite my common sense telling me that actually the reverse was true: the world was boundless and unfathomable, the number of events infinite, the present time an open door that stood flapping in the wind of history. But that is not how it felt. It felt as if the world were known, fully explored and charted, that it could no longer move in unpredicted directions, that nothing new or surprising could happen. I understood myself, I understood my surroundings, I understood society around me, and if any phenomenon should appear mysterious I knew how to deal with it.

Understanding must not be confused with knowledge for I knew next to nothing — but should there be, for example, skirmishes in the borderlands of an ex-Soviet republic somewhere in Asia, whose towns I had never heard of, with inhabitants alien in everything from dress and language to everyday life and religion, and it turned out that this conflict had deep historical roots that went back to events that took place a thousand years ago, my total ignorance and lack of knowledge would not prevent me from understanding what happened, for the mind has the capacity to deal with the most alien of thoughts. This applied to everything. If I saw an insect I hadn’t come across, I knew that someone must have seen it before and categorized it. If I saw a shiny object in the sky I knew that it was either a rare meteorological phenomenon or a plane of some kind, perhaps a weather balloon, and if it was important it would be in the newspaper the following day. If I had forgotten something that happened in my childhood it was probably due to repression; if I became really furious about something it was probably due to projection, and the fact that I always tried to please people I met had something to do with my father and my relationship with him. There is no one who does not understand their own world. Someone who understands very little, a child, for example, simply moves in a more restricted world than someone who understands a lot. However, an insight into the limits of understanding has always been part of understanding a lot: the recognition that the world outside, all those things we don’t understand, not only exists but is also always greater than the world inside. From time to time I thought that what had happened, at least to me, was that the children’s world, where everything was known, and where with regard to the things that were not known, you leaned on others, those who had knowledge and ability, that this children’s world had never actually ceased to exist, it had just expanded over all these years. When I, as a nineteen-year-old, was confronted with the contention that the world is linguistically structured I rejected it with what I called sound common sense, for it was obviously meaningless, the pen I held, was that supposed to be language? The window gleaming in the sun? The yard beneath me with students crossing it dressed in their autumn clothes? The lecturer’s ears, his hands? The faint smell of earth and leaves on the clothes of the woman who had just come in the door and was now sitting next to me? The sound of pneumatic drills used by the road workers who had set up their tent on the other side of St. Johannes’ Church, the regular drone of the transformer? The rumble from the town below — was that supposed to be a linguistic rumble? My cough, is it a linguistic cough? No, that was a ridiculous idea. The world was the world, which I touched and leaned on, breathed and spat in, ate and drank, bled, and vomited. It was only many years later that I began to view this differently. In a book I read about art and anatomy Nietzsche was quoted as saying that “physics too is an interpretation of the world and an arrangement of the world, and not an explanation of the world,” and that “we have measured the value of the world with categories that refer to a purely fabricated world.”

     

 

2011 - 2018