The arendt files, p.24
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       The Arendt Files, p.24

           Ivan Rosemblatt
 
Once she walked up the steps and closed the trapdoor behind her the darkness settled on him he fell deep down into it, sank, suspended without time. He was almost comatose at first, too tired to even shift his body, exhaustion made all his limbs heavy as lead, connected. Pain and exhaustion merged into a strange ecstasy. In half oblivion aches, cramps, sharp or throbbing pain shoved him in and out of the deepest sleep he had ever known.

  Like the first drops of rain on a lake, in his penumbral state he could see the ripples emanating from singularities of pain intersect, forming diagrams, that like constellations shining in the black sky, took form and came to life. Image rose out of vague designs into sharp visions, and then he was no longer observing, he was in them, otherworldly territories, real places, forgotten lands he had visited before, between lives. He felt that he was advancing forward towards something

  He was always returning from a desert or from battle after a long absence, was always scarred and in need. In the unfolding of each dream there was the feeling of a doorway. When he crossed the threshold he was home and she was there waiting for him, for her it was the most natural thing, to be there always waiting. She was life day to day, and thus, they had found each other again, though it couldn't really be be a finding as the day always comes to us. They met again in the place of sense and meaning without fact.

  He was plunged into feeling beauty. He thought that the land of pain would consist only of nightmares, he never would have believed that at the center of pain there radiated pure undifferentiated sensation. That was his return to life, his body was his life and it felt good.

  Joints, limbs, bones, sinews translated into a a broken landscape of war, a succession of images and places; ravaged countrysides, bombed out cities; rubble, deep craters in plowed fields, barbed wire over rivers, a primitive map of damage and decomposition. Those parts that were torn from each other began reforming, a turning over of the soil, reconnecting through underground lava flows, vegetable roots enveloping like hands, grasping rocks, breaking them apart, mineral strata deep down sliding against each other, regaining movement, going back to their proper extension and reach. On the surface of the , beings reunited, friends waved to each other across distances, dogs returned to abandoned homes curled up on familiar blankets in the ruins, letters arrived through mail slots from lost relatives.

  The rebbe spoke to him, his kind face and gestures, memories. He had told him that each limb in his body, each part and function had a letter of the Hebrew alphabet in it but that the letter was not what he thought. The letter was a number and a form, an emanation, an essence of G-d and man should find a way to feel them, and know them, so they could be brought back into harmony. A man didn't have to know how to bring them into balance, they would do that on their own when they spoke to each other. They were waiting, just as we all are, to return to each other, just as he, the rabbi had been waiting for him so they could know each other again and return to balance.

  He had no idea how long he shifted and settled in through his delirium. “I must have really conked my head back there.” His thoughts were a thin layer of gleaming substance over a transforming living body of luscious unending imagery. For an unknown time, days? he existed with barely a mind, only a constant unfolding and reforming, the expressing of a deeper land. Then recognizable things, memories of blood and bone, of his comrades flying apart would rise up unbidden and invade his travels through the dreamscape of his body, but more and more so it was her face. Her face interrupting other images and thoughts, taking over his mind.

  “What is this uncapturable presence in the face of another person? An intensity that dissolves everything, a total truth without knowing”

  “Gestures are part of the face.” He remembered how she had taken a moment to observe him when he had first sat down at the kitchen table. Her fingers slipped into the small front pockets of her jacket, she leaned back to evaluate, consider, take him in. She was confident, relaxed, poised. He could remember everything about that moment, but was it really memory? It came unsummoned. Is that what love is? Uncontrollable, involuntary remembrance? He kept seeing reliving the moment when she walked out of the back door and saw him for the first time. His heart would start pounding and he would feel a rush of something from his solar plexus up and it would made him want to squirm around. “You are just lonely and stuck in a dark room with nothing to do. Get it together man.”

  He was able to rest in the thought of her. Turn and find comfort in how his body lay under the sheets in a way he hadn't felt since childhood. “What a handsome face” it would fill up his minds eye completely. “I wonder if she will be offended by my calling her face handsome?” There was something a bit masculine about it, her cheekbones were high and angular. He thought her body would bony and sharp when they made love, all elbows and hip bones. He could tell that she was athletic too: strong, agile graceful; nothing like his jewish body; wiry, paunchy, hairy, discombobulated, passionate, dense. She was not a woman who cared about things like looks, he felt confident about that. That first time they looked at each other he felt like it was a reintroduction, a return. Was he crazy? Had fatigue and turned him into a chump?

  Slowly, thinking of her, his wits came back to him. He luxuriated in the time and the darkness. His only regret was that he didn’t have any cigarettes. He just wanted to smoke and think about the girl. He couldn’t help himself. He really liked how the she dressed. It was modest but not prudish. She had style. She looked healthy, vibrant, dignified, and she could cook. Man he missed being cooked for. He had been a bachelor for too long.

  He thought about the living room. “I really liked that chair in the corner of the living room. “I'll just sit there in the evenings and smoke my pipe and read. I wonder if she reads?” Then a thousand scenes of their life together, each more hackneyed and cliche'd than the last. He made love to her in his mind a thousand times, sometimes in the most tender ways, other times like one of the whore’s he had been with in Brooklyn back in the day. He imagined taking her to the rabbi to talk through conversion or watching her dress for a night out on the town, although there would be no nights out on the town in this life. And what would the rabbi say? He would be furious that he would bring this goy of a girl to him. Maybe he was giving him short shrift. He had heard that the new way was going to be conversion and procreation, to have as many Jewish kids as possible. He wondered if she would be up for a whole brood, eight, nine kids. “I don’t think so.” He would lie back and take a drag off of his imaginary cigarette.

  He could handle pain and isolation but he didn’t know if he could handle irrational hope. Even if it had been real, even if she felt the same thing as he did, it would still be impossible. There was no life for love now. Everything was for the future, for the next generation, or maybe for the one after that. This was the conversation he would have with himself, then he would fantasize some more, or maybe eat a little, doze off again. His head still throbbed but he began to lift the bed up to stretch and bring some mobility back into his joints. He did some light exercise.

  Once he started to move again his mind shifted focus. Was she ok? He couldn't hear anything up there. Had a nosy neighbor seen him go into he house? Would the Nazi's be randomly killing people in the area? They was always some kind of retaliation after an attak. He wanted to protect her but she was protecting him. He remembered the guns he had seen piled in the corner he began to visualize loading each one so that he could do it quickly and efficiently when the time came.

  He paced back and forth wringing his hands. He would take a step and turn, a step and turn, that's all he had room for in that cramped space. All he wanted to do was leave that room and go see how she was. “You will do nothing of the sort. What are you verklempt? You are a soldier. What you are going to do is stay in here until it's safe for you to leave. Then you will go and fight. Kill some more Nazi's that's what you will do. Good? Yes, good. Allright then keep it together. There is an occupation happening here, they are trying to destroy the entire jewis
h race. A tiny but of human kindness and you lose all sense of proportion. You need to start thinking about how you are going to get out of here. How the hell is you going to get out of this area?”

  “Maybe in a few months.” He would need help and he had no idea if there was any organized resistance in the area. The girl had acted like she knew what she was doing. He would need to make contacts, gather some intelligence. That's what he should be doing anyway. That was one of the five operational principles they were working from. “Make contact, integrate forces, stabilize lines of communication, maintain operational compartmentalization, establish chain of command.” Hell, he didn't even know where he was, how could he figure out where he should go?”

  “I should stay in the area. That's what I should do. Stay in the area and organize a force up here.” It was perfect, the terrain was perfect. Maybe she knew people? He felt that he was behaving like a reptile. His group were dead, slaughtered, and he was feeling puppy love and excited to develop a new base. He was feeling his energy come back and was looking forward to seeing the light, the fresh air, seeing her again. He didn't know how he would be able to restrain himself. He was getting a hard on constantly thinking about her and he felt guilty to be feeling any pleasure at all. It had seemed to him for years that pleasure had been abolished from the world until there was a return to some kind of decency, but here it was rising up in him.

  “Joy brings the desire for peace and that's why we can't allow people to feel safe and settled. If we let joy arise again then people will fall asleep, a sleep that last a thousand years. I like a girl and I worry that joy is sweeping the nation. Joy always leads to compromise. The worker lets the boss treat him like shit because he wants to protect the joy of his home.” He had never understood that way of living. It seemed to him that if men wanted to take any real stand for justice they had to be willing to live without comfort. If he could just take a vacation, let the war rest for a year or two, so that he could have a couple of kids, then come back.

  Chapter 25

 

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