Monday, December 14, 2009

I Sold Them My Body, Not My Soul

"What are you looking at me like that for?" he had asked.

"It's your way of going on from where you left off. As if nothing ever stops with you, despite all the time that's passed, despite everything that's happened in between. As if you've never left your closed, inner world. What percentage of you takes part in what's going on around you? Ten percent? Five?"

"You'd better believe it! What do you think? I sold them my body, not my soul, not my feelings. Should I stop living in the meantime, should I stop dreaming?"

"I envy you. You need strength for that."

"What a tactful way you have of telling someone that he's crazy. You think I don't understand? Okay, I know I'm crazy- I'm not blind to myself."

"I don't think you're crazy. I really do envy you. I feel that I've already sold them my soul too. Maybe because my body's not such a big deal."

"You don't have anything to protect you, you don't have a dream."

"A while ago I realized something. I said to myself: They're always trying to humiliate us, break us, telling us how unsuitable we are for the army, what rubbish we are, how we're shit and garbage and how we'll never be soldiers. Suddenly I asked myself: Does it ever occur to them that maybe they're not exactly my aim in life either? That this isn't my cup of tea? That if it was up to me how to spend these years, the army might come last on the list? What makes them so sure that it's the greatest honor in the world for me? They keep refusing to give me a gift that I'm not in the least bit interested in."

"But still, what they say insults you like hell."

"Right. And I don't understand why. I keep adjusting myself to t heir point of view, accepting their opinion about me, looking at myself through their eyes. As if that's the only way to keep going. And it seems to me that by doing that I'm selling them my soul. So that's why I think it takes strength to make the division. To give them the minimum and keep the maximum inside and protect it. I don't have the strength to see the real situation. You need courage to face this raving lunacy without giving in to the brainwashing that seduces you into believing that this is the normal world, that it's okay, that this is real life, that these are your dreams."

"What got into you all of a sudden? You've been part of the game for a long time now, and you're always complaining to me that I don't respect its rules."

"I discovered the extent to which they've succeeded in brainwashing me," I said. "During the target practice I never succeeded in hitting anything. Whenever I fired a shot I felt as if the blow from the butt came before I pressed the trigger. And it moved the barrel off target and the bullet flew off to one side. It was the fear of the recoil, obviously. Of course I'm no good at it. I've never had any illusions on that score. I've never had any ambitions to excel at it. So why did it humiliate me so much? Why did missing hurt me so much? Because I already see myself through their eyes. It was only afterward, with an effort, that I began to think: Those targets, they're even cut out in the shape of people- head, shoulders, heart. I don't want to kill anyone, no one at all, not Arabs or Jews or Christians or anyone. I don't want it at all. It doesn't interest me. It doesn't belong to my real life! And still it hurt me that I missed, I despised myself so much, I hated myself. And that's how I began to understand that I'd already sold them my soul."

~Infiltration by Yehoshua Kenaz, pages 474-475


Anonymous said...

i like the ryhthm prose and the insight into human nature.

but its stupid

so what if youre an intellectual-- fighting is a skill stop making such a big difference between you and it.

and who does want to kill? You gotta practice aiming. There needs to be an army!

Chana said...

Anon 3:19,

No one is disagreeing about the need for the IDF. Practically, that's so. But I thought it was profound and important to encounter a fresh and new perspective. I really liked this character's point of view because he is right- why should they succeed in making him feel like crap for not succeeding in something he doesn't even want to do? He's talking about his emotional response to them, not the fact that whether he likes it or not, he must do it anyway. That's where the partition between body and mind (which Avner has) comes in and is so fascinating. That partition between body and mind features prominently in many situations ('Miss America By Day' and her night-child comes to mind) and it is sometimes the only thing that saves you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow! Awesomness!


The Cousin said...

(scribbling note to self to read this book)