Free Women 5
That evening, sitting on the floor, playing jazz, desperate because of her inability to ‘make sense’ out of the bits of print, she felt a new sensation, like a hallucination, a new and hitherto not understood picture of the world. This understanding was altogether terrible; a reality different from anything she had known before as reality, and it came from a country of feeling she had never visited. It was not being ‘depressed’; or being ‘unhappy’; or feeling ‘discouraged’; the essence of the experience was that such words, like joy or happiness, were meaningless. Coming around from this illumination - which was timeless; so that Anna did not know how long it had lasted, she knew she had had an experience for which there were no words - it was beyond the region where words could be made to have sense.
Yet she again stood before the notebooks, letting her hand with the stylo in it (which looked, with its fragile entrails showing, like a sea-animal, a sea-horse) wait above first one, then another, to let the nature of the ‘illumination’ decide for itself where it should be written; but the four notebooks, with their various sub-divisions and categories, remained as they were, and Anna laid down her pen.
She tried various passages of music, some jazz, some bits of Bach, some Stravinsky, thinking that perhaps music might say what words could not; but this was one of the times, increasingly frequent, when music seemed to irritate her, seemed to attack the membranes of her inner ear, which repulsed sounds as if they were enemies.
She said to herself: I don’t know why I still find it so hard to accept that words are faulty and by their very nature inaccurate. If I thought they were capable of expressing the truth I wouldn’t keep journals which I refuse to let anyone see - except, of course, Tommy.
That night she hardly slept; she lay awake rethinking thoughts already so familiar to her she was bored even by their approach - political thoughts, the patterns of action in our time. It was a descent into banality; because as usual she concluded that any act she might make would be without faith, that is, without faith in ‘good’ and ‘bad’, but simply a sort of provisional act, hoping it might turn out well, but with no more than that hope. Yet from this attitude of mind she might very well find herself making decisions that would cost her life, or her freedom.
She woke very early, and soon found herself standing in the middle of the kitchen, her hands full of bits of newspaper and drawing-pins, the walls of her big room being entirely covered as far as she could reach, with clippings. She was shocked into laying aside the new clippings, and the bundles of journals and papers. She was thinking: but there’s no sensible reason why I should be shocked by starting on a second room, when I wasn’t shocked by covering the whole of the first room - or at least, not shocked enough to stop.