The books were a private part of me that I carried inside and guarded and didn’t talk to anybody about; as long as I had the books I could convince myself I was different from the others and my life wasn’t quite as stupid and pointless.
Who doesn’t have a dark place somewhere inside him that comes out sometimes when he’s looking in a mirror? Dark and light, we are all made out of shadows like the shapes on a motion-picture screen. A lot of people think that the function of the projector is to throw light on the screen, just as the function of the story-teller is to stop fooling around and simply tell what happened, but the dark places must be there too, because without the dark places there would be no image and the figure on the screen would not exist.
What happened was simple, even banal: I became naked, died, lost parts of my flesh and most of my ego along with a few illusions such as a belief in the uniqueness of my personal scrap of consciousness and the cosmic importance therof, and went on from there.
But I know too that if we ever make a world without shadow, if the chemists and scientists and psychologists succeed in abolishing fear, pain, loneliness, death, some of us will find life so intolerable we will probably blow out our brains out of sheer boredom.
It was a part of myself that was my enemy; I still had a childish illusion that the flesh on my own bones was somehow unique and precious to the universe, in some obscure corner of my mind I wanted the others to love me and make exceptions for me simply because I felt heat and cold, pain and loneliness as they did. Now this was gone once and for all, and I understood there were no exceptions and on one was invulnerable, we all had to share the same conditions and in the end this was simply mortality, the mortality of things as well as ourselves. After that I didn’t expect anybody to love me.
Alcohol was for people who basically wished to be dead but lacked the courage to kill themselves.
The resentment I felt inside was not hatred for being imprisoned or for Victor who had betrayed me but something deeper: a rebellion against the very way of things that condemned men to be imprisoned inside their own identities.