Under the bell

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I cannot remember exactly when I decided to live under the bell.

It is dark here but the absence of light encourages me to seek images of my own instead of those of others. It is also very comforting. I burn candles in the evenings even though fresh air should be more valuable. When I blow them out I see my beloved in the traces of light left in my eyes.

Sometimes I light the candles and blow them out several times in a row.

At night I listen to symphonies and look at the stars that my mind has created inside the bell. She is among them too, wearing a blue top and black jeans. Her smile is very soft, like a cucumber, and she gets little dimples on her cheeks.

My family does not know I live here now. They would not understand, they would say that the silence has driven me mad. The walls of my home are made of iron and when I bang my fists against the bell I hear a hollow sound that resonates with my soul. Or maybe no sound is actually produced and all I hear is the echoes of my mind. It is sometimes difficult to tell what is real here.

I can feel that the grass has withered and when I have flowers delivered they never thrive for long in the darkness. It does not matter, I broke my vase anyway.

There is a railway track not far from here but there are no stations nearby. However, people who have not told the conductor where they wish to alight are often dropped here. They really should make up their minds before boarding the train, it is not like there are many spare bells lying around.

I have drawn dozens of pictures of my beloved but they all disappear when exposed to light, perhaps they are a bit shy like me. It really is a wonderful world, often I wish that we all could live under a bell, although not necessarily the same one.

Then again, maybe there already is a much bigger bell outside mine, one that includes all the other people, the elephants and the cucumbers. From there she is smiling to me, her lips like petals, her eyes like an afternoon shower.

She must have her own bell somewhere. Do you think that if I strike my bell hard enough she will hear, that her bell will resonate? But I am scared of breaking my bell. Where would I live if not here?

Comment: a somewhat disturbing image of isolation, detachment, and the inability to connect with people. In A Beastly Comedy Canto 1.23 I used a similar image as a form of punishment for revolutionary leaders become tyrants. The time between writing the two passages was probably around 5 years. Looking at them now, maybe this complements the canto, as here the perspective is from the inside, telling something about the psychological condition, and raising the question whether all people are similar. Personally I have no answer. This is not how I experience the world, and yet the metaphor is recognizable as a feeling of loneliness so deep it seems to be a deep human condition.

At most I can say that people have a tendency to see other people’s minds as similar to their own, so if you feel detached and isolated under a bell, you might think that others are the same, doubly beyond reach, even if there’s no evidence for it, just your own story of who you are and the assumption that if you can’t help yourself, no-one else is capable of reaching out either.