Sunday, January 22, 2012

Václav Havel Confronting Death

Toward the end of his memoir of his time as President of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, To the Castle and Back, Václav Havel wrote that we was spending a lot of time straightening his house, and he wondered why he cared:
I have only one explanation: I am constantly preparing for the last judgment, for the highest court from which nothing can be hidden, which will appreciate everything that should be appreciated, and will, of course, notice anything that is not in its place. I'm obviously assuming that the supreme judge is a stickler like me. But why does this final evaluation matter so much to me? After all, at that point, I shouldn't care. But I do care, because I'm convinced that my existence -- like everything that has ever happened -- has ruffled the surface of Being, and that after my  little ripple, however marginal, insignificant and ephemeral it may have been, Being is and always will be different from what it was before. 
All my life I have simply believed that what is once done can never be undone and that, in fact, everything remains forever. In short, Being has a memory. And thus, even my insignificance -- as a bourgeois child, a laboratory assistant, a soldier, a stagehand, a playwright, a dissident, a prisoner, a president, a pensioner, a public phenomenon, and a hermit, an alleged hero but secretly a bundle of nerves -- will remain here forever, or rather not here, but somewhere. But not, however, elsewhere. Somewhere here.

No comments: