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Selected stories (Даниил Хармс)

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8. We shall call neither this nor that 'the impediment'.

9. Thus: the basis of existence comprises three elements: this, the impediment and that.

10. We shall express non-existence as zero or a unity. Therefore we shall have to express existence by the number three.

11. Thus: dividing a unitary void into two parts, we get the trinity of existence.

12. Or: a unitary void, experiencing a certain impediment, splits into parts, which make up the trinity of existence.

13. The impediment is that creator which creates 'something' out of 'nothing'.

14. If this one, on its own, is 'nothing' or a non-existent 'something', then the 'impediment' is also 'nothing' or a non-existent 'something'.

15. By this reckoning there must be two 'nothings' or nonexistent 'somethings'.

16. If there are two 'nothings' or non-existent 'somethings', then one of them is the 'impediment' to the other, breaking it down into parts and becoming itself a part of the other.

17. In the same way the other, being the impediment to the first, splits it into parts and itself becomes a part of the first.

18. In this way are created, of their own accord, non-existent parts.

19. Three, of their own accord, non-existent parts create the three basic elements of existence.

20. The three, of their own accord, non-existent basic elements of existence, all three together, make up a certain existence.

21. If one of the three basic elements of existence should disappear, then the whole would disappear. So: should the 'impediment' disappear, then this one and that one would become unitary and continuous and would cease to exist.

22. The existence of our universe generates three 'nothings' or separately, on their own account, three non-existent 'somethings': space, time and something else which is neither time nor space.

23. Time, of its essence, is unitary, homogeneous and continuous and thereby does not exist.

24. Space, of its essence, is unitary, homogeneous and continuous and thereby does not exist.

25. But as soon as space and time enter into a certain mutual relationship they become the impediment, the one of the other, and begin to exist.

26. As they begin to exist, space and time become mutually parts, one of the other.

27. Time, experiencing the impediment of space, breaks down into parts, generating the trinity of existence.

28. A split down and existing, consists of the three basic elements of existence: the past, the present and the future .

29. The past, the present and the future, as basic elements of existence, always stood in inevitable dependence, each on the other. There cannot be a past without a present and a future, or a present without a past and a future, or a future without a past and a present.

30. Examining these three elements separately, we see that there is no past because it has already gone and here is no future because it has not yet come. That means that there remains only one thing – the 'present'. But what is the 'present'?

31. When we are pronouncing this word, the letters of this word which have been pronounced become past and the unpronounced letters still lie in the future. This means that only that sound which is being pronounced now is 'present'.

32. But of course the process of pronouncing this sound possesses a certain length. Consequently, a certain part of this process is 'present', just as the other parts are either past or future. But the same thing too may be said of this part of the process which had seemed to us to be 'the present'.

33. Reflecting in this manner, we see that there is no 'present'.

34. The present is only the 'impediment' in the transition from past to future and past and future appear to us as the this and that of the existence of time.

35. Thus: the present is the 'impediment' in the existence of time and, as we said earlier, space serves as the impediment in the existence of time.

36. By this means: the 'present' of time is space.

37. There is no space in the past and the future, it being contained entirely in the 'present'. And the present is space.

38. And since there is no present, neither is there any space.

39. We have explained the existence of time but space, of its own accord, does not yet exist.

40. In order to explain the existence of space, we must take that incidence when time performs as the impediment of space.

41. Experiencing the impediment of time, space splits into parts, generating the trinity of existence.

42. Broken down, existing space consists of three elements: there, here and there.

43. In the transition from one there to the other there, it is necessary to overcome the impediment here, because if it were not for the impediment here, then the one there and the other there would be unitary.

44. Here is the 'impediment' of existing space. And, as we said above, the impediment of existing space is time.

45. Therefore: the here of space is time.

46. The here of space and the 'present' of time are the points of intersection between time and space.

47. Examining space and time as basic elements in the existence of the universe, we would say: the universe expresses space, time and something else which is neither time nor space.

48. That 'something' which is neither time nor space is the 'impediment', which generates the existence of the universe.

49. This 'something' expresses the impediment between time and space.

50. Therefore this 'something' lies at the point of intersection of time and space.

51. Consequently this 'something' is to be found in time at the point of the 'present' and in space at the point of the 'here'.

52. This 'something' which is to be found at the point of intersection of space and time generates a certain 'impediment', separating the 'here' from the 'present'.

53. This 'something', generating the impediment and separating the 'here' from the 'present', creates a certain existence which we call matter or energy. (Henceforth we shall provisionally call this simply matter.)

54. Thus: the existence of the universe, as organised by space, time and their impediment, is expressed as matter.

55. Matter testifies to us of time.

56. Matter testifies to us of space.

57. By this means: the three basic elements of the existence of the universe are perceived by us as time, space and matter.

58. Time, space and matter, intersecting one with another at definite points and being basic elements in the existence of the universe, generate a certain node.

59. We shall call this node – the Node of the Universe.

60. When I say of myself: 'I am', I am placing myself within the Node of the Universe.

From 'A Tract More or Less According to a Synopsis of Emerson'

On an Approach to Immortality

It is peculiar to each person to strive for enjoyment, which is always either sexual satisfaction, or satiation, or acquisition.

But only that which lies not on the path to enjoyment leads towards immortality. All systems leading to immortality in the end come down to a single rule: continually do that which you don't feel like doing, because every person feels like either eating, or satisfying their sexual feelings, or acquiring something, or all of these more or less at a stroke. It is interesting that immortality is always connected with death and is treated by various religious systems as eternal enjoyment, or as eternal torment, or as an eternal absence of enjoyment and torment.


Letter to the Lipavskys

28 June 1932. Tsarskoye Selo

Dear Tamara Aleksandrova and Leonid Savel'evich,

Thank you for your wonderful letter. I have re-read it many times and learned it off by heart. I can be awakened in the night and I will immediately and word-perfectly begin: 'Hello there, Daniil Ivanovich, we are completely lost without you. Lyonya has bought himself some new...' and so on, and so on.

I have read this letter to all my acquaintances in Tsarskoye Selo. Everyone likes it very much. Yesterday my friend Bal'nis came to see me. He wanted to stay the night. I read him your letter six times. He smiled very broadly, so it was evident that he liked the letter, but he didn't have time to express a detailed opinion, for he left without staying for the night. Today I went round to his place myself and read the letter through to him once more, so as to enable him to refresh his memory. Then I asked Bal'nis for his opinion. But he broke a leg off one of his chairs and with the aid of this leg he chased me out on to the street and furthermore said that if I turn up once more with this drivel he will lie my hands up and stuff my mouth with muck from the rubbish pit. These were, of course, on his part rather rude and stupid remarks. I, of course, went away and took the view that he quite possibly had a bad cold and that he was not himself. From Bal'nis I went off to Yekaterinskiy Park and had a go on the rowing boats. On the whole lake, apart from me, there were two or three other boats. And, by the way, there was a very beautiful girl in one of the boats. And she was completely on her own. I turned my boat (incidentally, you have to row carefully when you're turning a boat, because the oars are liable to jump out of the rowlocks) and rowed after the beauty. I felt as though I resembled a Norwegian and I must have cut a fresh and healthy figure in my grey jacket and my fluttering tie and, as they say, had quite a whiff of the sea about me. But near the Orlov Column some hooligans were swimming and, as I rowed past, one of them just happened to have to swim right across my path. Then another of them shouted: – Wait a minute, while this cross-eyed and sweaty specimen goes past! – and pointed at me with his foot. This was very disagreeable because the beauty heard every word. And since she was rowing in front of me and in a rowing boat, as everyone knows, you sit with the back of your head towards your direction of movement, the beauty could not only hear, but she could see the hooligan pointing at me with his foot. I tried to make out that all this had nothing to do with me and started to look to the side with a smile on my face. But there wasn't a single other boat around. And at this point the hooligan shouted again: – Now what do you think you're looking at? We're talking to you, aren't we? Hey, you, the sucker in the cap!

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