...happiness courts the light, so we deem the world is gay; but misery hides aloof, so we deem that misery there is none. (15)
I see a blurred silhouette. There is a person sitting at table. He is writing. He doesn't look up. Nobody could have ever seen his face. It is been hours and he doesn't get up. A man, a chair, a table and a million papers. The spitting image of desolation. Does he have any life outside that place? Probably not.
I hope he does.
I read about this particular theme concerning jobs that drain life out of people, before. I am talking about Benedetti's Poemas de la oficina / Poemas del hoyporhoy, a collection of masterfully written poems that I highly recommend. I wrote some little notes in the form of a "review" so, I really do not have anything more to add.
This is a new side of Melville for me. I am not proud of my experience with Moby Dick. At the same time, I am not sure if I will ever come back to that book. Perhaps, I should. Because the writing I found in this short story captivated me. Maybe it is due to the fact that I could also relate to the story. The kind of story at which good-natured gentlemen might smile, and sentimental souls might weep. I see people writing and reading and filing old papers, new papers, somebody else's papers. Same rhythm, same tired-looking eyes, same purpose in life: to survive. It has been said that happiness is not doing what you want but wanting what you do. I agree. Otherwise, living becomes mere existing. Mechanical breathing. Surviving.
Conceive a man by nature and misfortune prone to a pallid hopelessness, can any business seem more fitted to heighten it than that of continually handling these dead letters, and assorting them for the flames? (30)
Melville, I feel an uplifting joy. Our relationship has been rekindled thanks to this short story. A perfect combination of vivid sorrow and a tender, subtle humor.
His words used the saddest yet most endearing beauty to describe one of the feelings every human being has experienced at least once: that raw feeling of loneliness. A lonely character in the middle of a crowd. A crowd of all countries and of all times. A passive, mild person able to awake a violent reaction and a sense of sympathy, at the same time.
I finished writing these rambling thoughts and I still see that man writing on his desk. The amount of papers is increasing, so is his weariness. And now, he hardly blinks. Cold and unable to move, like a snowman made by some kid after school.
Night is coming. Soon, he will be in complete darkness. He can't move but he could speak. He seems weak but he stood up for himself once, because he simply preferred not to do something.
I salute you, silent man. And I wish everyone to never have to experience the slow vanishing that dead letters can cause.
I can see that figure now—pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, incurably forlorn! (7)
I see Bartleby. A human mirror.