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From Hell to Heaven
Chapter 69 - The dramatist’s reaction to Helena’s transformation. Difference between dream and real life. Olaf’s parable of courtship.
1. The dramatist and his company also note this transformation, one of them saying to him: “Friend, do you not notice it? – That creature, a former bucket-full of unchastity, soot and filth is now completely transfigured! Now it is exciting to look at the little teaser! Should that strange friend of Blum’s be a kind of true Egyptian magician?”
2. Says the dramatist: “I indeed perceive something like that too. But you know, when such a person is in real love, blushing her cheeks and swelling her bosom, it turns into quite a nice little figure! In that respect I have frequently seen people on Earth who looked downright hideous in their usual, dirty household; but wandering through their gate with their lovers on a Sunday, they were not to be recognised! It is only love which here and on Earth brings about such miracle-like beautification upon the female sex. Take her love away, and she shall display a different face.”
3. Says the other: “You are right in one respect, you know, but the thing seems to take on quite a different aspect! Because this being firstly has become far too beautiful suddenly, and then it also speaks the purest and most noble German, leaving no trace of a Viennese dialect. This is not effected by common love. Something higher, not comprehensible to us, must play a part here. Observe closely the endlessly tender complexion, the softness of her arms and neck, the supremely beautiful blond hair, the highly interesting form of her face, and the truly celestial blushing of her cheeks! Truth is truth! You shall have to definitely agree with me!”
4. Here the dramatist is truly taken aback, seeing his friend’s argument is based on fact. – But a third man rises from the group, saying: “Worthy friends, you both are taking this thing in the wrong way! – To me, this transformation has a completely natural basis. We are now in the purest world of spirits. Our life is no more than a complete dream, and what we are seeing is the play of fantasy that has no truth to it apart from itself. It now pleases this fantasy to put on all kinds of spectacles for us, which appear to our spiritual dream-senses as objective reality. But there is of course no more to these images than we achieved upon Earth by the so-called magic lantern. Behold, that’s what this thing is here! Understand?”
5. Says the first one: “Friend, there is an obvious snag to this your explanation. Because if this were all to be a kind of dream, then your explanation would also have to be a dream, not capable of more consideration than any other phenomena. Or can you insist that your explanation is an exception? On Earth I dreamt often and vividly; but what a difference between a dream and this most lucid reality!
6. “In my dreams I remained passive, but over here, in my clearest consciousness, I am fully active. In my dreams I never had retrospection. And when it sometimes seemed like some sort of recall, then it was always vague and incomplete. Here, however, recall is of such clarity that even the most insignificant appearances of my terrestrial life are like perfect camera pictures, from a to z! Tell me, friend, can one call this a dream?
7. “In a dream I never felt intense pain, hunger or thirst, whilst the shapes of beings appearing in a dream were always fleeting and changeable, displacing each other in such quick succession that there was usually nothing left of the preceding ones when the supplanters made their appearances. There never was the feeblest logical sequence, even if seemingly undeniable through miraculous impressions, so that, as a quiet observer, one cannot be sufficiently intrigued by them.
8. “What wise logic breezes through every talk given by either Blum or his friends! – How consistent in form and architecturally correct is the design of this hall, and how everything impresses with rich significance!
9. “And this should all be a dream? No friend, this is no dream, this is stark and holy reality! – And we shall all do well when we start to respect these phenomena more. Hence the amazing beautification of this creature gains more significance to me! What do you make of my judgement?”
10. Says the dramatist: “Friend, you are right, I fully agree. But I don’t understand how here also, one can be gripped by passion for or against something. Look, I am still annoyed at how this unbelievably beautiful creature’s urchin-like behaviour towards me. And when wanting to justify myself with her friend and lover, I also got from him what I wasn’t looking for. In short, I was offended to my innermost being, which as a man of unblemished honour one can’t just take on the chin. And behold – that’s the very thing, the puzzle, – that even here in the kingdom of spirits, - in the kingdom of highest order and consequence, one can be hurt, offended and even thoroughly furious! Explain this to me, and I shall fall in with your view!”
11. Says the addressed, Max Olaf: “My friend, the thing is simple and clear! What are hurt, and offence? Nothing but a rebuke of our natural arrogance. To me it seems that arrogance is the feeling of the soul, whereby it regards its divine origin as if only for itself, and regards itself as the only favoured one; everyone else being inferior or even a zero! Should something step somewhat harshly into the path of this favourite idea, attempted to assert an at least equal position, then the soul perceives this opposition as pain, restricting and hence hurting it, because it realises that others do not take it for what it thinks of itself. Such a condition of the soul however seems to me an illogical and inconsistent one; and it is called upon to take the exactly opposite path, if it is to gain true benefit therefrom!
12. “Upon Earth, those who regard themselves as superior have all kinds of means to obtain validity for this conceit. But here, where there is neither money nor nobility, hosts, bayonets and canons, the prospects for such an illogical conceit of the soul are necessarily embarrassingly small. For it is basically wrong for one creature to exalt itself above another, equal creature. And secondly, it is sheer madness!
13. “Because logic and experience tell us that the happiest person is the one who places the least demands on fellow men. Wherefore it is sheer madness to try to achieve happiness with something that is eternally unattainable! – Tell me, which striving is better and more practicable – striving after fulfilment of countless desires that in the soul proliferate like weeds, or after a wise restriction of wants to a minimum?”
14. Says the dramatist: “Obviously the latter, since the less is needed to be happy, the more easily one becomes so!”
15. Says Max Olaf: “Correct, that’s how it is and shall remain forever.
16. “Let’s act accordingly, and no such creature shall bother us again. Am I right or not?”
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