George Konrád: “Suicide, like painkillers, or the lottery, never interested me”

by Nick

“Suicide, like painkillers, or the lottery, never interested me. People whose stomachs are pumped want to leave behind their muddled affairs only, and, though angered by the new set of decisions they will have to face, they happily accept the warm bath and the plat of soup. I feel almost free; it seems reassuring that I could disappear at any moment; but though I may be squirming restlessly in my tight shell, a million maddening stimuli a second are still more meaningful than the incomprehensible idea of nothing. I am nevertheless afraid I will dawdle until I miss the right hour, and my place will be taken by an immobilized old man who will have earphones on his pink skull and a bib tied around his neck. His ass will have to be wiped for him, and he will suck on his mushy food with loathsome delight. Perhaps it is only my ignorant pride, but today I am still revolted by the decrepitude of old age, by this obscene and resigned marriage with the traitorous body, by the pathetic uselessness, the diminished intelligence concerned only with survival, the totally uninteresting bulletins about appetite, stool; by the conspicuous hate of examining fingers, the sensuous relief when the wet mattress does not chafe my bedsores; by the pushing out of all my loved ones to the periphery of my vision, since only those have reality for me who stick the rice pudding in my mouth and wash me with lukewarm water. I already hate that bundled-up, parasitic self, and the surrounding slimy aureole of lies, so in this all-important question I would like to come to a decision by myself, and put up with my body only as long as it does its job.”

From George Konrád’s The City Builder.