IndifferenceThis hate has blossomed like a living love,grieving, watching its own exhaustion.It seeks a face, it seeks flesh, as though it were love.The worldly flesh and the voices that spokeare dead, all has shuddered away,all life hangs on a voice.Days pass in bitter ecstasy to the sadcaress of the voice that returnsand drains the blood from our faces. Not without sweetnessthat voice returns to the mind exhaustedand trembling: once it trembled for me.But the flesh does not tremble. Only lovecould set it alight, this hate seeks it out.All the possessions, all the flesh and all the voicesin the world cannot equal the burning caressof that body and those eyes. In the bitter ecstasythat kills itself, this hate still findseach day a glance, a broken word,and grasps them, hungrily, like love.
Tu n'as rien appris, sinon que la solitude n'apprend rien, que l'indifférence n'apprend rien: c'était un leurre, une illusion fascinante et piégée. Tu étais seul et voilà tout et tu voulais te protéger: qu'entre le monde et toi les ponts soient à jamais coupés. Mais tu es si peu de chose et le monde est un si grand mot: tu n'as jamais fait qu'errer dans une grande ville, que longer sur quelques kilomètres des façades, des devantures, des parcs et des quais. L'indifférence est inutile. Tu peux vouloir ou ne pas vouloir, qu'importe! Faire ou ne pas faire une partie de billard électrique, quelqu'un, de toute façon, glissera une pièce de vingt centimes dans la fente de l'appareil. Tu peux croire qu'à manger chaque jour le même repas tu accomplis un geste décisif. Mais ton refus est inutile. Ta neutralité ne veut rien dire. Ton inertie est aussi vaine que ta colère.
But when they made love he was offended by her eyes. They behaved as though they belonged to someone else. Someone watching. Looking out of the window at the sea. At a boat in the river. Or a passerby in the mist in a hat.He was exasperated because he didn't know what that look meant. He put it somewhere between indifference and despair. He didn’t know that in some places, like the country that Rahel came from, various kinds of despair competed for primacy. And that personal despair could never be desperate enough. That something happened when personal turmoil dropped by at the wayside shrine of the vast, violent, circling, driving, ridiculous, insane, unfeasible, public turmoil of a nation. That Big God howled like a hot wind, and demanded obeisance. Then Small God (cozy and contained, private and limited) came away cauterized, laughing numbly at his own temerity. Inured by the confirmation of his own inconsequence, he became resilient and truly indifferent. Nothing mattered much. Nothing much mattered. And the less it mattered, the less it mattered. It was never important enough. Because Worse Things had happened. In the country that she came from, poised forever between the terror of war and the horror of peace, Worse Things kept happening.So Small God laughed a hollow laugh, and skipped away cheerfully. Like a rich boy in shorts. He whistled, kicked stones. The source of his brittle elation was the relative smallness of his misfortune. He climbed into people’s eyes and became an exasperating expression.