Every space is too tight for me. I move around, I jump, I fling myself and yet I’m still inside that one space which is too tight for me, unbearably small, although at times it is only exactly just a bit too tight, and it is exactly then, when it is exactly just a bit too tight, that it is the most unbearable; I jump and I’m still inside something, whose dimensions could be called redundantly inabundant, because it is not simply a question of dimensions but rather that in the moment when I jump, and I am inside that space, I am immediately caught, the space has caught me, the space into which I leapt unguarded, and it is not that I’m not cautious enough, I am cautious enough, maybe even unduly so, but that it’s all the same where I jump, it’s certain that I’ll end up in a space that is too tight for me, at times only exactly just a bit too tight, but amazingly very often just that, unendurable, I feel that space coiling around me like a cage no matter where I move, I immediately reach the end, in fact hardly do I move at all before the end of that space reaches me, I say, it is so much like being in a cage, as if all I could ever do is jump in a cage, and I can’t do anything else, I have to jump, however if I jump I immediately end up in that space which, as I say, is often maddeningly tight, I feel more or less not as if I were jumping into a square wire cage, or even worse into a brick-shaped one, but at such times I feel that I have got myself into a space that has been measured exactly for me, that’s what I think, that it is exactly as big as I am, and that is the most maddening thing of all, because I don’t even have to move, I touch the grating everywhere, for it is all one and the same what the end of this space is made of, to me it is a grating, the grating of a cage, and at such times there is no mercy, I try to free myself and if I even merely budge I feel the attempt to be absurd, because everything within this space is made in such a way, this space-cage, so that exactly what is missing from it is space, because you have to imagine it like this, and I say this to everyone, everyone else who also needs to jump, they will understand what I’m thinking about, and how this has to be imagined, that space is exactly what it is not, that apart from me this space has no innate freedom, so that in fact it isn’t even that, just a cage made to my measurements, I jump into it and in reality if I think about it more deeply, it is even so when I think that the space into which I jump is somehow wider, because in reality just the sheer knowledge that if I stretch myself four, then six, then seven centimetres further out, I’ll touch this or that side, well, already I’m touching the wall of the cage, so that the end of the cage in reality already starts there, at that point where I’m thinking that in an instant I will bump into the end, in other words there is no escape, if I jump up to sink my teeth into your throat, I jump into the trap definitively and inevitably, there is unfortunately no point in speaking of escape.
Into your throat.
Shut tight your gates, and plug up the cracks, put up the beams and bring out the barbed wire, and protect yourselves from all sides, but know that you lock up in vain, you plug in vain, you raise beams in vain and you wrap wire in vain, for that chink, that groove, that crevice which would be an obstacle for me does not exist; but it is just for that reason that you should barricade your gates and board up your windows, brick up your chim- neys and protect yourselves, because I will break out, and I will arrive, and of course lock up your children well, and of course arm yourselves with many weapons, and organize your defence, and station the security guards, pull up the cordon and put the land-mines in place, just go ahead and do it, just get ready, but whatever you do against me is in vain, in vain do you prepare against me, because against me nothing can be done, and against me there can never be enough preparation, because if I come you are unprotected, because there is nothing that can keep me at bay, nothing that could ever stop me, if one day I set out, no matter what you do it is completely hopeless, in vain do you try to resist, it will be of no use because you don’t know who I am, and you don’t know me, and your not knowing me protects me from your preparations, I am an invisible enemy, and you shall know very soon what invisible means, and chiefly, you will know what enemy means, because I am not just any kind of enemy, not even an enemy, but a blow that smites, that strikes down then and there and onto those exactly when, where, and onto whom it wants to, though I want to strike down upon all of you, and I will do so, I shall strike down upon you, and you will not be able to do anything against me, because I am inexplicable, you have no idea of what and when, but the main thing is that you haven’t even the slightest idea of what I will do, if I come, in any event, ease your souls by locking your children away from me, closing up the gates before me, plugging up the gaps so I can’t get through them, if I come, go ahead and believe and there is a protection against me, but be terrified that this protection won’t be enough, because it won’t be enough, let there be no doubt about that in all of you, for I am inscrutable and invisible and impenetrable, you don’t even know when, you don’t even know where, you don’t even know why, and this is the main thing that can trouble you, because there is no answer to the why and there never will be, but in reality within all of you there is no answer to anything, there you stand alone, blundering with your locks, futilely fumbling with the barbed wire, wheezing and writhing and groaning under the weight of the beams that you want to put up against me, and it’s even good like this, this is how it should be, because you comprehend annihilation and that is why I’m coming, so that there will be some meaning to the very fears, the many terrors and anxieties and worries, which are yourselves, and there will be meaning, let there be no doubt again about that, because I am coming, one day I will be here, maybe not in one form, but immediately in two or three, or in four, one dayI shall come, and I shall lacerate your faces, because I am ruin.
This text is excerpted from Animalinside, by László Krasznahorkai and Max Neumann, translated by Ottilie Mulzet, with an introduction by Colm Tóibín. It was published jointly by the Center for Writers and Translators of The American University of Paris, Sylph Editions, and New Directions press, as part of the Cahiers series. Learn more about the series here.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR
Ottilie Mulzet translates from Hungarian and Mongolian. She is currently completing a Ph.D. on the subject of Mongolian riddles and proverbs. Her artwork, prose, and photography have appeared in the Prague-based journal Revolver Revue since 2000.