Monday, October 19, 2009

Interesting Fiction

Every now and then I read something that makes so much damn sense. At the risk of sounding all Freud, here's a little excerpt from a little book, and this little book makes a lot of sense, a lot of the time.

Certain people, in their eagerness to construct a world no external threat can penetrate, build exaggeratedly high defenses against the outside world, against new people, new places, different experiences, and leave their inner world stripped bare. It is there that bitterness begins its irrevocable work.

The will was the main target of bitterness. The people attacked by this malaise began to lose all desire, and, within a few years, they became unable to leave their world, where they had spent enormous reserves of energy constructing high walls in order to make reality what they wanted it to be.

In order to avoid external attack, they had also deliberately limited internal growth. They continued going to work, watching television, having children, complaining about the traffic, but these things happened automatically, unaccompanied by any particular emotion, because, after all, everything was under control.

The great problem with poisoning by bitterness was that the passions-hatred, love, despair, enthusiasm, curiosity-also ceased to manifest themselves. After a while, the embittered person felt no desire at all. He or she lacked the will either to live or to die, that was the problem.

That is why embittered people find heroes and madmen a perennial source of fascination, for they have no fear of life or death. Both heroes and madmen are indifferent to danger and will forge ahead regardless of what other people say. The madman committed suicide, the hero offered himself up to martyrdom in the name of a cause, but both would die, and the embittered would spend many nights and days remarking on the absurdity and the glory of both. It was the only moment when the embittered person had the energy to clamber up his defensive walls and peer over at the world outside, but then his hands and feet would grow tired, and he would return to daily life.

The chronically embittered person only noticed his illness once a week, on Sunday afternoons. Then, with no work or routine to relieve the symptoms, he would feel that something was very wrong, since he found the peace of those endless afternoons infernal and felt only a keen sense of constant irritation.

Monday would arrive, however, and the embittered man would immediately forget his symptoms, although he would curse the fact that he never had time to rest and would complain that the weekends always passed far too quickly.

From the social point of view, the only advantage of the disease was that it had become the norm, and internment was no longer necessary, except in cases where the poisoning was so severe that the patient's behavior began to affect others. Most embittered people could continue to live outside, constituting no threat to society or to others, since, because of the high walls with which they had surrounded themselves, totally isolated them from the world, even though they appeared to participate in it.

Words by Paulo Coelho
Pictures by Iam Elena

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