Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Václav Havel

By Václav Havel in his 2005 memoir "To the Castle and Back":

I’m running away. I’m running away more and more. I find various excuses to run from my study, downstairs into the kitchen where I tidy up, listen to the radio, wash the dishes, cook a meal, think something over, or simply sit in my old place by the window and stare out…What am I actually afraid of? Hard to say. What’s interesting is that although I am here alone-and will continue to be here alone because no one that I know of has plans to visit – I keep the house tidy; I have everything in its place, everything has to be aligned with everything else, nothing can be left hanging over the edge of a table or be crooked…

I have only one explanation: I am constantly preparing for the last judgment, for the highest court from which nothing can be hidden, which will appreciate everything that should be appreciated, and which will, of course, notice anything that is not in its place. I’m obviously assuming that the supreme judge is a stickler like me. But why does this final evaluation matter so much to me? After all, at that point, I shouldn’t care. But I do care, because I’m convinced that my existence—like everything that has ever happened—has ruffled the surface of Being, and that after my little ripple, however marginal, insignificant and ephemeral it may have been, Being is and always will be different from what it was before.

All my life...I have simply believed that what is once done can never be undone and that, in fact, everything remains forever. In short, Being has a memory. And thus, even my insignificance—as a bourgeois child, a laboratory assistant, a soldier, a stagehand, a playwright, a dissident, a prisoner, a president, a pensioner, a public phenomenon, and a hermit, an alleged hero but secretly a bundle of nerves—will remain here forever, or rather not here, but somewhere. But not, however, elsewhere. Somewhere here.

There's a beautiful remembrance of Havel by Paul Wilson in the recent New York Review of Books.

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