At about 50 pages in, it's a little frightening how much I've identified with Veronika thus far, how much I understand her rationale for wanting to die. She can only see one path unfolding for herself, and it's one she can't stomach. I get that. But unlike Veronika I haven't given up hope that my path may yet fork off in unexpected and exciting directions.
I also read and think there must be a certain kind of comfort in going truly insane. Not this garden-variety neurosis I experience, but really, disconnected-from-reality insane. We're so frightened of the idea of insanity, of not knowing what's going on around us or not being able to distinguish truth from fantasy, but what would it be like to live it? There's a part of me that thinks maybe it would be just a little liberating, and I can understand why the Fraternity (?) wants to stay in the asylum instead of returning to the world outside.
I'm settled in to read. It's drizzling rain and the sky outside is a deep, melancholy gray. I've got pillows stacked up on the couch, the cat languorously swishing his tail as he gazes out the window, and a cup of chocolate truffle coffee on the little rolling cart we use for a coffee table. Angelo Badalementi's haunting soundtrack music from Twin Peaks
pours from the tinny speakers on my laptop. It's kind of a perfect day.
I just came across this passage.Depression.
The doctors said that a recently discovered substance, serotonin, was one of the compounds responsible for how human beings felt. A lack of serotonin impaired one's capacity to concentrate at work, to sleep, to eat, and to enjoy life's pleasures. When this substance was completely absent, the person experienced despair, pessimism, a sense of futility, terrible tiredness, anxiety, difficulties in making decisions, and would end up sinking into a permanent gloom, which would lead either to complete apathy or suicide.
In Zedka's case, however, the reasons were simpler than anyone suspected: there was a man hidden in her past, or rather, the fantasy she had built up about a man she had known a long time ago.
Oh, Zedka, I suspect many of us can trace the roots of depression to the fantasy of a man (or woman) hidden in our pasts.
I'm now eager to read on and discover Zedka's story.
The impossible love. The refusal to believe the impossible love is impossible. Hope itself can be a sort of madness sometimes, when it's false, when we allow it to consume us rather than uplift. Yes. I know this.
Now back to Veronika, and, holy shit, I could just as well be reading my own journal.She had overcome her minor defects only to be defeated by matters of fundamental importance. She had managed to appear utterly independent when she was, in fact, desperately in need of company. ... She gave all her friends the impression that she was a woman to be envied, and she expended most of her energy in trying to behave in accordance with the image she had created of herself.
Because of that she had never had enough energy to be herself, a person who, like everyone in the world, needed other people in order to be happy. But other people were so difficult. They reacted in unpredictable ways, they surrounded themselves with defensive walls, they behaved just as she did, pretending they didn't care about anything. ...
She might have impressed a lot of people with her strength and determination, but where had it left her? In the void. Utterly alone.
I suspect Veronika soon will learn she's not quite as alone as she thinks. God, I hope so.
Also? I think I have to stop reproducing passages from this book or I'll end up quoting the whole damn thing.
Dr. Igor? The psychiatrist? Quite possibly the craziest character in the book. He's laughably absurd. I loved the interchange between him and Veronika's mother -- the jumping back and forth between points-of-view and the mother's puzzlement at the things Igor was saying.
Oh. Here's another snippet. "Haven't you learned anything, not even with the approach of death? Stop thinking all the time that you're in the way, that you're bothering the person next to you. If people don't like it, they can complain. And if they don't have the courage to complain, that's their problem."
The supposedly insane people in this novel are all ones who are challenging and rejecting these unspoken rules we all live by, that hold us down and hold us back. These ideas that we should follow certain expected paths and behave in certain ways and suppress our true selves. These lunatics are calling bullshit on society, and it's wonderful.
And now I'm done, and I feel like I've gone on a journey with this book and come out the other side much like Veronika, Mari, Eduard and Zedka -- ready to embrace my life and my capacity for love.