Diary Of A Malcontent 1932-1949

January 5, 1940 On Monday I must get down to work seriously and consistently. Apart from this, my life has become unbearable. I don't know what the devil is the matter with me, I feel as if I were growing old and stupid. I suppose I have some obsessions of my own, like everybody else, and that is what is keeping me down. I have to respond. If only there were somebody to help me. With each day that passes I become more aware that I need something or somebody to help me. Something to push me back to the surface when I'm sinking. I have absolutely nothing to cling to. On my own I find it impossible to find a way in life, a reason for a normal living. A person cannot live without a motive, without a goal, however illusory, but a goal nevertheless; just enough to take everything seriously and live a reasonable life. I cannot pull myself together. All people build their lives around some more or less engaging work. Once it ends, they most often realize it was all an absurdity or inutility or an illusion. But at least they have done it. They have lived. Sometimes they cannot even take the time to realize it. They are either too stupid to see what delusion they have spent all their energy on, or they die before they can even think about it, or this delusion of theirs is replaced by others before they have had the time to think. I would say that after all this is the ideal. But it is not exactly what I am asking for. I am only asking to be able to live like anybody else, without throwing my life away because of this incapacity. Too much lucidity is the most terrible curse there is. The most hideous annihilation. It is the cause of all failures, pains and torments. And if it is true that lucidity is what distinguishes us from animals, that after all the degree of humanness is measured by how much or how little lucidity we have, then it is equally true that humanness is but a curse. The more lucid one is, the more human, that is, the more different from animals, the heavier his curse. January 18, 1940 I attended Dupront's lecture yesterday. I still wonder why it is that I am so fond of this little man with the hands of a minister and a fluent, sometimes boringly harmonious speech. Unarguably I admire his intelligence doubled by culture, but I doubt that this is what makes me so fond of him. I divine in him all kinds of unrevealed humorous sides…In the evening, at Băgulescu's conference, we were a group of ten people and we had some laughs as we hadn't had in a long time. Lori was sitting on my right and Nuni on my left, which means Lori kept trying to temper our playfulness… and failed… naturally. We committed every appropriate idiocy during the conference of a true Caţavencu. We launched paper pellets at the bald heads of respectable persons (when the lights were out, obviously), we applauded and shouted bravo to every monumental imbecility, etc. When we came out I was nearly hoarse with laughter.I stayed in until evening. St.[i] had come in the morning. Towards evening I went to see two rather bad movies. Boredom… boredom… God! if only it weren't for this awful boredom. January 24, 1940 I received a letter from Paris: it was from E. C.[ii]. I saw him two or three times last autumn when he was in Bucharest for a short while. Now he is writing to me that he regrets we did not have more time to talk. Truth be told, what could we have talked about? The sadness of life and death?!? Blank. He is writing about Paris. If only I knew how much it gains by being destitute of lights and people, I would have gone there. I am amazed myself I am not yet nostalgic about Paris. He says I have reached a degree of lucidity inconceivable for a girl and especially in… Romania. The sentence is quasi-facetious and exaggerated, like many of E. C.'s assertions. It is true that generally girls are painfully stupid and shamefully limited, but as a rule men are not better off either. It is hilarious to make gender distinctions in terms of lucidity. As for Romania, it goes without saying. We all agree that clear-headed people do not exactly grow like mushrooms in Romania… as if they did anywhere else. Not to mention that I am not sure if it is really desirable to have many lucid people in the world. What good does it do you besides poisoning your life and making you incapable of anything but suffering? It is true that some kind of superior satisfaction does come of it. Seeing clearly where others simply get tangled in folly and delusion somehow gives us a sense of our superiority. Bitter superiority, though, and only when we measure ourselves against the mob. For what is left of all this lucidity when, instead of comparing yourself to the fools (lucky them!), you think about yourself? A taste of ash and a ghastly helplessness. That's all: great deal! It is perhaps the highest point man can reach, but it is still nothing. January 29, 1940 Sinister day, sinister night. All these ordinary snipes like an unaware, insensitive background for a different kind of ordinariness. This whole night when physical sickness was enough to clog my brain… I am numb now. And I am writing just so I won't hear the flock barking. Sinister and ordinary like hungry bitches. But after all there is nothing they can be blamed for. April 15, 1940 It has been several weeks since Nae died[iii] and several months since my father died. It is still winter outside, with sleet and cold and dead branches. My mind is like a formless mash that can only perceive superficial, almost mechanical things. I cannot read, I cannot think anymore. Last night I had one of those nervous breakdowns, the kind I kept having after my father died. My hands and feet were frozen, all the muscles started trembling and the veins throbbing. An organic, indescribable panic seized me and I could not shake off the feeling that the veins in my head were about to burst. May 7, 1940 I came back from Balcic yesterday. It was cold and dreary the whole time. Still, some nasty moments aside, it was better than it would have been if I had stayed in Bucharest. Now I have resumed my routine, with more or less the same rhythm as before. Every time I leave Bucharest I nourish some dim hope that I am not coming back here and every time I return I vaguely resolve to change my lifestyle. But as soon as I set foot in this city again I am drawn inevitably back to my bored rhythm. I suppose that, should I live long enough, some day I will come to regret that when I was young I was not capable to do something radical to set myself free from the routine of everyday life. To do for once something I really liked. To live my life the way I wanted to, not the way it presented itself to me. I realize I am still very young, but I regret I am throwing my youth away. I live my life as if I were not young anymore. May 30, 1940 What a curse this physical incapacity to do something. At times my mind feels foggy; I cannot read anything. And when I force myself to read, the result is but a mechanical act. I read, but everything stops on the surface of my brain. Nothing stirs inside. It is as if my intelligence were dead. At times like this all that still vibrates are the feelings. I feel some sort of permanent sadness and I think of something to get me out of this mood. For some time now I have been treating these moods like diseases: I'm avoiding thoughts and exhaustion and turning as much as possible to narcotics. Movies usually work. June 20, 1940 It just dawned on me that two days from now I will be twenty-four. And I am tempted to say like old people say: "how the years have gone by!!" I have not written anything in my diary. I should buy a notebook and resume keeping that diary in which I only wrote for a few months. I have come across it today and I read several pages to Ica Dobran. We laughed our heads off. So it is not completely useless after all.I took two exams. The last two. The one in ethics was with Golopenţia. Vulcănescu was still in London. The paper I wrote (on "The Analysis of my Ethical Behavior" and "My Readings in Ethics") was one hundred percent flash of wit.The exam in logic was with A.[iv] It was horrible. The topic was induction.Now I must get down work on my dissertation. I have started the classes in algebra and as far as I can tell it is going well. Saturday, June 22, 1940 I resume my diary, as agreed, writing down every concrete happening that fills my days. Book titles, people's names, movies, walks, etc. It will be like my memory. This way, having the events of a day as reference points, I will find it relatively easy to reconstitute the rest. So:Up at 9:30, determined to go to the Foundation. Feeling rather down these last few days. Today indisposed. After an almost six months' break. Belly aching most of the day, quite atypically. Stayed in, obviously. Remained in my pajamas and read Poincaré: Science et Méthode, 100 pages. My birthday today: twenty-four. Quite an age already, even if I don't look it. Mommy kissed me. Besides her, no one knows. Pussy came in the afternoon, but I didn't say a word. And mommy told her, with a nonchalance worthy of a woman, that I was over at M's. Nothing else. Sunday, June 23, 1940 All morning in bed. Corina came at about 11:30 and found me decomposing. She was bringing an invitation to lunch at Cl.'s parents. Despite the huge black circles under my eyes I got dressed and went to lunch, for it was an invitation to Cella D.'s.[v] I was getting bored at home anyway. The regulars were there. As usual, I ate a lot. After lunch Şt. took us to Tâncăbeşti in his new car. In the evening, Marieta's opening night at the Comedy Theatre. Shared the box with Lilly Cosak, her husband and H.[vi] During the interval we went to see M. Her dressing room was full of people and flowers. We went then to Viticola. Got to bed very late. All day I listened to sermons about my not using make-up. Cl.[vii] was particularly pretty today, despite the curly hair (she has had a perm done and destroyed her hair). We stayed in her room talking about death (sic!). […] Tuesday, June 25, 1940 At around 6 o'clock I went to Nuni's, whom I had not seen for almost one month. Lucica, Nuni and I sat perched on the divan eating ice-cream, which we mixed with fruits glacés and strawberries. It was an ugly looking blend, but very tasty. We had fun like small children. I have this growing impression that Nuni is one of the prettiest girls I know. In the evening I was invited to Alina Brezeanu's. Rodica and Eugen Ionescu were there, and Wendy[viii] and Dinu Noica, Père Merloz, the Jianus, the Avramescus[ix], Muza Ciomac, Bob, etc. It was quite an entertaining evening, spiced with a catholic-orthodox dispute. Père Merloz and Muza Ciomac against the Avramescus, who were furiously and fanatically defending orthodox values and condemning Catholicism. Fortunately the whole argument had a comical side to it, otherwise the atmosphere would have become unbearable. Besides, I am lucky to have a healthy sense of the ridiculous. It protects me from feeling uselessly revolted. Thursday, June 27, 1940 Foundation in the morning. Read Couturat[x]. Foundation again in the afternoon, minus the desire to read. If only I were through with this dissertation! Friday, June 28, 1940 Last night H. brought the news of the retrocession of Bessarabia. Everybody fell into a war mood. I didn't sleep well. In the morning, things looked less alarming. I stopped by to see M., but she was not home. Saw Rod[xi] for a couple of minutes. Read a detective novel in the afternoon. Then went to Nuni's. Dina D. was there. In the evening her mother and Madam Cella came. The conversation revolved naturally around the situation. Special news bulletins announced the retrocession of Bessarabia. On the radio they declared the general call to arms. There is this horrible anxiety about everyone you meet. You cannot avoid catching it. […] Sunday, June 30, 1940 Went to M.'s in the morning and we saw H. to the station. Quite hateful these departures. Still, I don't know what is the matter with me that I cannot really feel them. Went with mom to the cemetery in the afternoon, then stopped by the theatre, where I found the whole group of actors from the Comedy Theatre: Fifi, Antoniu, Mircea Constantinescu, etc. Went then to Lilly Cosak's. T. was also there and he obviously talked all the time about (again obviously) the political situation worldwide. Terrible boredom. Monday, July 1, 1940 Stayed in all day like a larva. Late in the afternoon went over to M., who was not there. In the evening, after a prolonged search through he book shelves, I took the only book I had not read yet: Les désenchantées. I had never read Loti. Now I have done it. My, oh, my, what a poor writer! I could almost say I prefer Eugène Sue. So disgustingly foolish and sentimental. At least Eugène Sue writes "adventure" literature. Tuesday, July 2, 1940 I was supposed to meet Lori at 11 o'clock at Coterbic coffee shop to go to the Academy Library so I could get a permit. But I had forgotten to bring a photo, so we gave up. I stayed at the coffee shop with Rodica and Lori and then went shopping. On the way back I bought flowers. Nuni came in the afternoon. We did some reading in German, but mainly we chatted. Around 9 I saw her to the tram stop. I didn't have anything to read in the evening. I went to sleep early. Wednesday, July 3, 1940 In the morning I stopped by to see Lori and we went to the Academy together. There I asked for Adriana and she guided me through the library and arranged for me to get a temporary eight-day permit, because Mr. Băiculescu was not there. We walked part of the way back. In the afternoon I went to Al.'s to get something to read. […] Friday, July 5, 1940 Went to Nuni's. We talked and studied German until around 8 when Lucica came. Stayed for dinner at Mrs. Pisa's. Came back home around 11. Nuni and Lucica insisted I take Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. That night I read some one hundred pages. Saturday, July 6, 1940 In the morning went on reading the novel. Al came around 5 in the afternoon. In the evening we went to the theatre and waited in Marieta's dressing room until her performance was over. Then we went to Viticola for dinner. Teodorescu was there, too. He came over to sit at our table and then saw us home. I slept over at M.'s. Sunday, July 7, 1940 A phone call woke us up at 7:30. Wrong number. Then there came one phone call after the other until 11 o'clock when Elvira put an end to it by taking us with her to a cousin's farm. We spent the morning sunbathing. Elvira's aunt was quite entertaining. There was another lady there, Thea Lecca, a "naturalist" (??!!) (so Elvira says) and yet another cousin of Elvira's, Magdalena. After lunch we walked some two miles in the fields with E. and M. until we found Maria and brought her with us to pick morellos. We came back home at around 8 o'clock with the car full of fruits and flowers. I stayed up reading until 2 in the morning. Monday, July 8, 1940 In the morning I was continuing my reading of the exciting novel when Sorana came by. We had lunch together. M. came, too. In the afternoon we went for a walk around the lake at the Pescăruşul. The terrace is fairly pretty and the sailing boats on the lake managed to create a marine impression. Too polished and urban, though. Back home, I read again until 3 in the night (in the morning, that is). Tuesday, July 9, 1940 In the morning read from Margaret Mitchell. Went to M's for lunch. Lilly C. and M. Rareş were there. Stayed there till late in the afternoon when Cl. came and we went to a coffee shop together and then to the movies. Saw a bad German movie. Came back home early and read from my novel until 1 o'clock. July 10, 1940 In the morning I finished Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. People say the Hungarians have given us an ultimatum and we have retroceded three counties. Still, nothing is known for sure. One hears dozens of rumors a day about internal or international politics. The best thing to do is lend them a deaf ear. […] January 18, 1947 I have written a letter to Emil Cioran but I haven't posted it yet. I am guilt-ridden. Last night I discussed décor and casting with L. and M. We have to give a reading for old Ciulei. It is at least as certain as 2 and 2 make 4 that he is not going to like the play. Whether it will be staged or not depends on M.'s persuasive charm. We asked her to give the reading, but she won't. If I were to do it, it would mean reading it for the third time and I don't feel up to it. January 22, 1947 Old Ciulei, who cannot "stand" readings, took the play home to read it himself. Last night Liviu came with the… "verdict". I was the one who got the door. In the hall, before he even came in, he told me quickly: "he didn't like it." "So what does this mean? No staging?" "I don't know. But this is like saying the old man is crazy." He was black in the face and he wasn't smiling. Coming from him, the statement was no joke. He adored the old man. He is so frightfully young. I can see him beginning to knock against the rough edges of life and I feel as sorry for him as I would feel for myself. Everything that is going on inside him is so obvious and so dangerous for what he is to become that I am observing him almost scientifically. The question is: "are all these things going to bring him to perfection or to mediocrity?" He is still so green, so malleable. His personality is not yet coagulated. He is inconsistent and impressionable. Could it be that this is perfectly natural when you are twenty-three? I cannot tell. No matter where he goes from here, the boy is definitely interesting. Much more intellectual than anyone in his generation I have met so far. January 29, 1947 Went to see R. on Monday. After I read the letter he sent me, I reckoned I was being absurd, so I went. Still, I don't think I am being completely absurd. I don't know if I am right, but… That's me: depressive and whimsical. I want the moon, just like Mr. Camus. My whole life I had wanted the moon in the sky and because of this I didn't get anything. And if I go on asking for the moon – which seems inevitable, given my damn extreme nature – I will end up with nothing. In my view, if I can't have the moon I won't have anything, so I don't need to make any concessions. I am smart and lucid enough to know that I will never have the moon, but I can't help realizing that in this domain alone the moon is at least temporarily accessible. This is probably my only lunacy. I have been trying to become indifferent, but it is not working. You cannot grow indifferent just because you want to. It either happens by itself one fine day or it doesn't happen at all. And you die with this semi lunacy. Every illusion is a lunacy. My mind is normal and rational and it is my mind that tells me that this is my loose screw. But it is…for now. And as long as it is, it would be useless to try any substitutes. I know that. And it is precisely why I am depressive, it is why I feel inside me the desire to huddle in a corner and chew on my loneliness with R. I do not know if I am doing him harm. I think that perhaps I am hurting him and this is not what I want. He is a special case. I do not feel I am being mean to him. Maybe I should leave aside my lunacy for a while and give him what he needs. My experience with S. taught me that I tend to put my foot in it when I am in love. I blunder, I exaggerate and I am anything but seductive. It is idiotic to draw conclusions after one sole experience, and such an exceptional one, at that, but I simply can't help it. Fortunately I am aware of my own naiveté. If I lost my lucidity, too, after I obviously lost my will, what prop would I be left with in this chaos? February 4, 1947 Yesterday with Nuni and Lucica. We huddled by the fire, drank white coffee and smoked until late in the evening. We had not met, just the three of us, for months. We did the usual: laughed, gossiped, slid into melancholia. It was the usual, but still something was missing. Or should I say something was different. We have all turned into women. We are in our thirties. The childish, playful tinge has pretty much faded off. There is now a different tone to our cheerfulness, to our gossiping. We are growing old. It is strange. It is becoming indifferent to me. It used to hurt, but it has no meaning any more. * I am not one of those people who resign themselves easily. I do not give up. There is something I never give up. This is an objective statement. And it is not voluntary. It is beyond my control. It just happens. It is probably life. I am alive and this is not something I can call off. There is nothing I can do. I live my life intensely, consciously, vibrantly and sadly. * This seriousness I cannot evade. I simply cannot bring myself to be frivolous. It is very often that I find myself wishing I were simple-minded, gossipy and shallow. I wish I sounded empty, I wish I didn't feel so much, I didn't think so much. I wish events passed by me without leaving scars, I wish I didn't delay them and contemplate them so much, I wish I didn't consider the ultimate consequences. It is too sad, too hot, too intense and exhausting. And besides, when you are like this, life doesn't give you anything more. This capacity alone is probably deemed sufficient; life is no longer gener