Thursday, October 16, 2014

For No Particular Reason

From the end of Chapter 30 ("The Old Doctor") of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward :
He saw her out, came back into the dining room and sank into a rocking chair of black bentwood and yellow wickerwork, its back worn by the years he had spent in it.  He gave it a pushoff as he sat and let the movement die down.  He did not rock it any more.  He was sitting in the odd position peculiar to rocking chairs.  It was almost off balance but free.  He froze like that for a long time, completely motionless.

He had to take frequent rests nowadays.  His body demanded this chance to recoup its strength and with the same urgency his inner self demanded silent contemplation free of external sounds, conversations, thoughts of work, free of everything that made him a doctor.  Particularly after the death of his wife, his inner consciousness  had seemed to crave a pure transparency.  It was just this sort of silent immobility, without planned or even floating thoughts, which gave him a sense of purity and fulfillment.

At such moments an image of the whole meaning of existence -- his own during the long past and short future ahead, that of his late wife, of his young granddaughter and of everyone in the world -- came to his mind.  The image he saw did not seem to be embodied in the work or activity which occupied them, which they believed was central to their lives, and by which they were known to others.  The meaning of existence was to preserve unspoiled, undisturbed and undistorted the image of eternity with which each person is born.

Like a silver moon in a calm, still pond.

I'm not sure, but I think that might be the best passage I've ever read in a novel.

And now, back to this world's madness ... and my own foolishness and triviality.

1 comment:

Mimi said...

Very beautiful.