Magazine Cultura

“Steps” di Jerzy Kosinski

Creato il 18 settembre 2011 da Abo

“Steps” di Jerzy Kosinski I walked through the districts where they lived surrounded by fetor and disease. They had nothing to possess or to be proud of. They were united only by the shade of their skin—and I envied them. I walked the streets in the heat of the sultry day and peered into rooms full of screaming infants and rotten mattresses piled on the floor, the old and the sick lying flattened on their beds or bending low in their chairs. In the dead-end alleys I watched the girls in groups, giggling. I stared at the shouting boys playing ball in the empty lots, saw the paralyzed and the doped sprawled on the sidewalks—living obstacles for the blind and the half-witted. I watched the dirt-smeared children smashing bottles against the never-emptied garbage cans, chasing cats and dogs and each other around the abandoned cars from which everything of value and every shred of rubber and fabric had been stripped by persistent petty thieves.
I envied those who lived here and seemed so free, having nothing to regret and nothing to look forward to. In the world of birth certificates, medical examinations, punch cards and computers, in the world of telephone books, passports, bank accounts, insurance plans, wills, credit cards, pensions, mortgages, and loans they lived unattached, each of them aware only of himself.
If I could magically speak their language and change the shade of my skin, the shape of my skull, the texture of my hair, I would transform myself into one of them. This way I would drive away from me the image of what I once had been and what I might become; would drive away the fear of the law which I had learned, the idea of what failure meant, the yardstick of success; would banish the dream of possession, of things to be owned, used, and consumed, and the symbols of ownership—credentials, diplomas, deeds. This change would give me no other choice but to remain alive.
Thus the world would begin and die with me. I would see the city as a mutant among the wonders of the world, its chimneys polluting the air, its roots poisoning the earth, its tentacles setting one man against another and strangling them both in their hopeless contest I would map the city’s highways and tunnels and bridges, its subways and canals, its neighborhoods adorned by beautiful homes filled with priceless objects, rare libraries, and fine rooms, its clever networks of pipes and cables and wires under the streets, its police departments and communications stations, its hospitals, churches, and temples, its administrative buildings crowded with overworked computers, telephones, and servile clerks. Then I would wage war against this city as if it were a living body.
I would welcome the night, sister of my skin, cousin of my shadow, and have her shelter me and help me in my battle. I would lift the steel lids from the gutters and drop explosives into the black pits. And then I would run away and hide, waiting for the thunder which would trap in mute telephone wires millions of unheard words, which would darken rooms full of white light and fearful people.
I would wait for the midnight storm which whips the streets and blurs all shapes, and I would hold my knife against the back of a doorman, yawning in his gold-frogged uniform, and force him to lead me up the stairs, where I would plunge my knife into his body. I would visit the rich and the comfortable and the unaware, and their last screams would suffocate in their ornate curtains, old tapestries, and priceless carpets. Their dead bodies, pinned down by broken statues, would be gazed upon by slashed family portraits.
Then I would run to the highways and speedways that surge forward toward the city. I would have with me bags full of bent nails to empty on their asphalt I would wait for the dawn to see cars, trucks, buses approaching at great speed, and hear the bursting of their tires, the screech of their wheels, the thunder of their steel bodies—suddenly grown weak as they crashed into each other like wineglasses pushed off the table.
And in the morning I would go to sleep, smiling in the face of the day, the brother of my enemy.

(Grove Press, 1997; 148 pagine, $ 10,17)


Tagged: Jerzy Kosinski, Steps

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