Being ill when you are a child or growing up is such an enchanted interlude! The outside world, the world of free time in the yard or the garden or on the street, is only a distant murmmur in the sickroom. Inside, a whole world of characters and stories proliferate out of the books you read. The fever that weakens your perception as it sharpens your imagination turns the sickroom into something new, both familiar and strange; monsters come grinning out of the patterns on the curtains and the carpet, and chairs, tables, bookcases and wardrobes burst out of their normal shapes and become mountains and buildings and ships you can almost touch although they're far away. Through the long hours of the night you have the Church clock for company and the rumble of the occasional passing car that throws it's headlights across the walls and ceilings. These are hours without sleep, which is not to say they're sleepless, because on the contrary, they're not about lack of anything, they are rich and full. Desires, memories, fears, passions form labryinths in which we lose and find then lose ourselves again. They are hours where anything is possible, good or bad.
Why? Why does what was beautiful suddenly shatter in hindsight because it concealed dark truths? Why does the memory of years of happy marriage turn to gall when our partner is revealed to have had a lover all those years? Because such a situation makse it impossible to be happy? But we were happy! Sometimes the memory of happiness cannot stay true because it ended unhappily. Because happiness is only real if it lasts forever? Because things always end painfully if they contained pain, conscious or unconscious, all along? But what is unconscious, unrecognized pain?
I'm not frightened. I'm not frightened of anything. The more I suffer, the more I love. Danger will only increase my love. It will sharpen it, forgive its vice. I will be the only angel you need. You will leave life even more beautiful than you entered it. Heaven will take you back and look at you and say: Only one thing can make a soul complete and that thing is love.
Does everyone feel this way? When I was young, I was perpetually overconfident or insecure. Either I felt completely useless, unattractive, and worthless, or that I was pretty much a success, and everything I did was bound to succeed. When I was confident, I could overcome the hardest challenges. But all it took was the smallest setback for me to be sure that I was utterly worthless. Regaining my self-confidence had nothing to do with success...whether I experienced it as a failure or triumph was utterly dependent on my mood.
Did my moral upbrining somehow turn against itself? If looking at someone with desire was as bad as satisfying the desire, if having an active fantasy was as bad as the act you were fantasizing- then why not the satisfaction and the act itself? As the days went on, I discovered that I couldn't stop thinking sinful thoughts. In which case I also wanted the sin itself.
Exploration! Exploring the past! We students in the camps seminar considered ourselves radical explorers. We tore open the windows and let in the air, the wind that finally whirled away the dust that society had permitted to settle over the horrors of the past. We made sure people could see. And we placed no reliance on legal scholarship. It was evident to us that there had to be convictions. It was just as evident as conviction of this or that camp guard or police enforcer was only the prelude. The generation that had been served by the guards and enforcers, or had done nothing to stop them, or had not banished them from its midst as it could have done after 1945, was in the dock, and we explored it, subjected it to trial by daylight, and condemned it to shame.