Record Twenty-Four

The Limit of the Function

To Cross Out Everything

I am like a motor set in motion at a speed of too many revolutions per second; the bearings have become too hot, and in one more minute the molten metal will begin to drip and everything will go to the devil. Cold water! Quick! Some logic! I pour on pailfuls of it, but my logic merely sizzles on the hot metal and disappears into the air in the form of vapor.

Of course it is clear that in order to establish the true meaning of a function one must establish its limit. It is also clear that yesterday’s “dissolution in the universe” taken to its limit is death. For death is exactly the most complete dissolution of the self in the universe. Hence: L=f (D), love is the function of death.

Yes, exactly, exactly! That is why I am afraid of I-330; I struggle against her, I don’t want . . . But why is it that within me “I don’t want to” and “I want to” stand side by side? That is the chief horror of the matter; I continue to long for that happy death of yesterday. The horror of it is that even now, when I, have integrated the logical function, when it becomes evident that that function contains death hidden within it, still I long for it with my lips, my arms, my heart, with every millimeter. . . .

Tomorrow is the Day of Unanimity. She will certainly be there and I shall see her, though from a distance. That distance will be painful to me, for I must be, I am inevitably drawn, close to her, so that her hands, her shoulder, her hair . . . I long for even that pain. . . . Let it come. . . . Great Well-Doer! How absurd to desire pain! Who is ignorant of the simple fact that pains are negative items that reduce that sum total we call happiness? Consequently . . . Well, no “consequently” . . . Emptiness. . . . Nakedness!

The Same Evening

Through the glass wall of the house I see a disquieting, windy, feverishly pink sunset. I move my armchair to avoid that pinkness and turn over these pages, and I find I am forgetting that I write this not for myself but for you unknown people whom I love and pity, for you who still lag centuries behind, below. Let me tell you about the Day of Unanimity, about that Great Day. I think it is for us what Easter was for the ancients. I remember I used to prepare an hour calendar on the eve of that day; solemnly I would cross out every time the figure of the hour elapsed: nearer by one hour! one hour less to wait! . . . If I were certain that nobody would discover it, I assure you I should now, too, make out such a calendar and carry it with me, and I should watch how many hours remain until tomorrow. . . . When I shall see, at least from a distance . . .

(I was interrupted. They brought me a new unif from the shop. As is customary, new unifs are given to us for tomorrow’s celebration. Steps in the hall, exclamations of joy, noises.)

I shall continue; tomorrow I shall see the same spectacle which we see year after year, and which always awakes in us fresh emotions, as if we saw it for the first time: an impressive throng of piously. lifted arms. Tomorrow is the day of the yearly election of the Well-Doer. Tomorrow we shall again hand over to our Well-Doer the keys to the impregnable fortress of our happiness. Certainly this in no way resembles the disorderly, unorganized election days of the ancients, on which (it seems so funny!) they did not even know in advance the result of the election. To build a state on some non-discountable contingencies, to build blindly — what could be more nonsensical? Yet centuries had to pass before this was understood!

Needless to say, in this respect as in all others we have no place for contingencies; nothing unexpected can happen. The elections themselves have rather a symbolic meaning. They remind us that we are a united, powerful organism of millions of cells, that — to use the language of the “gospel” of the ancients — we are a united church. The history of the United State knows not a single case in which upon this solemn day even a solitary voice has dared to violate the magnificent unison.

They say that the ancients used to conduct their elections secretly, stealthily like thieves. Some of our historians even assert that they would come to the electoral celebrations completely masked. Imagine the weird, fantastic spectacle! Night. A plaza. Along the walls the stealthily creeping figures covered with mantles. The red flame of torches dancing in the wind. . . . Why was such secrecy necessary? It has never been satisfactorily explained. Probably it resulted from the fact that elections were associated with some mystic and superstitious, perhaps even criminal, ceremonies. We have nothing to conceal or to be ashamed of; we celebrate our election openly, honestly, in daylight. I see them all vote for the Well-Doer, and everybody sees me vote for the Well-Doer. How could it be otherwise, since “all” and “I” are one “we”? How ennobling, sincere, lofty this is, compared with the cowardly, thievish “secrecy” of the ancients! Ant how much more expedient! For even admitting for a mpment the impossible—that is, the outbreak of some dissonance in our customary unity — our unseen Guardians are always right there among us, are they not, to register the Numbers who might fall into error and save them from any further false steps? The United State is theirs, the Numbers’! And besides . . . .

Through the wall to my left a she-Number before the mirror door of the closet; she is hastily unbuttoning her unif. For a second, swiftly — eyes, lips, two sharp, pink . . . the curtains fell. Within me, all that happened yesterday instantly awoke, and now I no longer know what I meant to say by “besides . . .” I no longer wish to — I cannot. I want one thing. I want I-330. I want her every minute, every second, to be with me, with no one else. All that I wrote about Unanimity is of no value; it is not what I want; I have a desire to cross it out, to tear it to pieces and throw it away. For I know (be it a sacrilege, yet it is the truth) that a glorious Day is possible only with her and only when we are side by side, shoulder to shoulder. Without her tomorrow’s sun will appear to me only as a little circle cut out of a tin sheet, and the sky a sheet of tin painted blue, and I myself . . . I snatched the telephone receiver.

“I-330, are you there?”

“Yes, it is I. Why so late?”

“Perhaps not too late yet. I want to ask you . . . I want you to be with me tomorrow — dear!”

I said “Dear” in a very low voice. And for some reason a thing I saw this morning at the docks flashed through my mind: just for fun someone had put a watch under the hundred-ton sledge hammer. . . . A swing, a breath of wind in the face, and the silent, hundred-ton, knife-like weight on the breakable watch . . .

A silence. I thought I heard someone’s whisper in I-330’s room. Then her voice:

“No, I cannot. Of course you understand that I myself . . . No, I cannot. ‘Why?’ You shall see tomorrow.”