Tonight I watched the Trial, directed by Orson Welles, starring Anthony Perkins. Well, I can tell you something very strange is going on with you and I know I’m not supposed to say anything, but I will. You’ve been dogging me for a while now, showing up like a ghost wherever I go. I watch this masterpiece and twenty minutes in, there’s Jean Moreau, who I can tell you, I was not expecting to see, so beautiful, but ugly from some angles, yes, ugly, even Godard said it was true. I know that’s me, strange and sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly, mistaken for a man. You know how much I love her for that, so what was she doing in that movie? You slip into my life in all these ways, through everything I love and places I’ve been.
You are the stranger I met. You are Kafka, Josef K, and K in the Castle. You are Milena and the ghost of Dostoevsky, who came to me too once when I was young. I am Milena and you. Dostoevsky was your ghost and you are mine. Body/unbodied. In the film, the Adagio in G Minor (Albinoni) keeps playing out of nowhere, which is the song the Cellist of Sarajevo played in the ruins of the siege. See how everything overlaps? Time is not linear. I know this is magical thinking, and I don’t believe in magical thinking, but I do. I also know this is self-indulgence, but that’s what diaries are for, and what do I even mean, but a rush of love and words, telling you everything I see in this world, and what it all means to me. But also saying what I want, freely. And so I will just call you K. because here I am able to direct my life and what it means. Maybe you will understand and forgive me for everything.
I was reading your diaries and you were talking about the word Thrust in Dickens. That’s the title of my fourth book and it was named for a man who I think is you, after all. K, gentle and kind, but impenetrable too, a kind of violence under his skin, ignoring all the women who try to warn him or seduce him, and that’s all the women are ever capable of doing in your stories, a voice that just bounces right off of everything material and disappears, unheard. Repelled. Repulsed.
That word seduce. It means to entice one away or to cause one to abandon his duty. And from K’s point of view that’s what the women are doing. He can’t hear them, because his fear of their malevolence makes him immovable like a wall.
Sometimes I feel like the women, whose collective voice is silenced. But the women are K, too. They are shouting and no one listens. They can see some power and principality at work, but can’t be heard. The women are a mirror held up to K.
K knows you’re not supposed to say what’s true. He’s the only one who sees these systems and revolts. But he himself is missing the system that silences women’s voices. So, then, When I read Kafka, I become K. The whole Gare D’Orsay jam-packed with workers, typists, typing away at their desks, shoulder to shoulder, the din of their fingertips like locusts. There he is, scared and running, trying to figure out what’s going on and how to escape. He shouts, and I’m K now, shouting, saying things I’m not supposed to say.
Communist block apartments, halos of street lamps, muddied lots, railroad tracks, the chiming of church bells. I know that place, I’ve been right there and you follow me. And there I am following you. That feeling of guilt, I know, too. Guilt is not to be doubted The feeling of being found out and some terrible conclusion. Of course I am responsible! I think this is what it means to be haunted. The ghost haunts you, but you are also the ghost. Because ghosts are themselves an image of time knocked off its course.
There you are in front of the Cathedral in Zagreb. How many times I have stood there, just like that, in awe and sort of floating with a quiet terror at being alone in the universe and not knowing what force has set it all in motion. I was walking on those stones and there you are, K, following me wherever I go, until I am you.
I hate lies. You said, You don’t need to accept what’s true, only what’s necessary. God what a miserable conclusion, that turns lying into a universal principle. This is what I write against, will always write against.
Look at the women, hear them. They have something to tell you and you’re not listening.