Thursday, June 11, 2009

The logic of Rachel

8 years ago today my father died. In his obituary we quoted part of the letter below.

To the point of singing
(letter to a deceased friend who does not want to be mentioned)

The first thing I thought and the only thing I dared to hope was: he took his last bit of vitality and split, tired of therapeutic interfering and mandatory recovery. One of these days we’ll probably get a message from Paris or some other worldly place: screw it, I’m out, you guys deal with it. I was only fantasizing, because reality is unimaginable anyway, especially the one of somebody else’s depression. But the day before you were acting cheerful to the point of singing, as though you really wanted me to have this misplaced fantasy.
On the most beautiful day of the year, it was even Ascension, I was walking besides the water very early in the morning. When for a moment I thought that no one could hear me, I called your name. The old desire to perform miracles and to command life came over me like a madness. The water was silent and kept you hidden, but it also allowed me the illusion that it had nothing at all to hide. For water is innocent of the temptations that well from it; it even washes away its own sins. The scenery was exuberantly summery. The birds chirped like neomists. Nothing sad at all was going on, unless everything would be sad and the summer itself but a shrill cry of distress.
After a few hours of magic in vain and foolish hope I just drove back home. Around the place where you were thrust fermented to the surface six days later, I caught myself singing again, a requiem, and then quietly, but still. Whoever has fooled us that singing has something to do with liveliness?
At the funeral I compulsory thought: if only he had known, so many people struck with grief, so much affection and appreciation, maybe he would have still been here, lifted from the abyss of despair and water. Like most of the things I think, that was probably nonsense. Compared to reality itself and its innocent carelessness, the question why and every answer to it is conceited and uninteresting.
And now I take back everything except for my surprise and want to know of no explanation or solace, according to the logic of Rachel: because you are no longer here. It is as it is, because that’s how it is. Our conjunctions are irrelevant and a few self-willed conjunctions is all we can offer. It should not have been like this and it was not an inevitable necessity: it is an undecorated and indigestible fact, a stone in the stomach. Reality is unimaginable. If it was imaginable, we could have just as well thought it up ourselves and it would have been superfluous. Further I can’t get with my blunt thoughts after all these years. I’m afraid it will let you down.

~ Cornelis Verhoeven


Anonymous said...

Funny thing how your father's dying day is at the same time my father's birthday. Gotta hand it to the cosmos to continuously keep conjuring up such cunning contrasts.

Daan said...

Strange indeed. And excellent alliteration. But who are you?

Happy birthday to your father; hope you get to give him a big kiss.

Raphaël said...

Hi Daan,

I'll definitely pass a big kiss to my dad, perhaps I can include one (in a strictly platonic sense, of course) on your behalf.

I'm Raphaël, brother of Odile, son of Machteld and Gerard. I suppose you remember now. I'm sorry about the 'anonymous' entry, but I never put up a Google/Blogspot account as my brain is already overflowing with odd usernames and passwords. If you feel like it, drop me a mail at rsmals (at-thingy) albi (dot) nl.

Last time we met, I think, was in De Rode Hoed at the presentation of the first edition of your dad's Dierbare Woorden, but somehow, I never contacted you afterwards. I have been keeping an eye on your blog since I came across it a month or two ago. And to my profound enjoyment, I must add!

I'd be thrilled to hear how you've been since we last met!

Raphaël said...

Oh, and before I forget: keep up with the good work on your blog! You appear to have the time and the talent required to spot both the beautiful and the bizarre that's to be found out there on the Net. This is what makes your blog an excellent excuse for not being at work some of the time (the rest of the time can be filled quite effectively with browsing randomly through wikipedia articles, I find.)